Escaping domestic violence can be a traumatic experience for anyone. Often, victims of abuse suffer from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because of the treatment they’ve endured. It’s important for survivors to know that they are not alone, that help is available, and that they are not to blame.
“Many victims are left feeling that their lives and feelings are out of control. Counselors focus on empowerment, a process of rebuilding a sense of personal power. By finding ways to build this sense of empowerment within yourself, you will be directing yourself in a positive direction,” writes Safe Passage.
Healing isn’t fast or easy after escaping a violent situation, especially if there are children involved. However, there are steps for survivors to take to rebuild their lives, their self-esteem, and their sense of worth. Here are a few of the best ways to go about it.
It’s nearly impossible for a survivor of abuse to rebuild things alone. Having a strong support system is the goal, but sometimes abusers build a rift between their victim and friends and family to make them feel more isolated. Sometimes loved ones don’t live nearby or are unable to help. In this case, survivors can call a helpline or find a therapist to guide them on the road to recovery. There’s also group counseling sessions for survivors who aren’t looking for one-on-one counseling. Alternatively, there are online support groups where survivors can interact anonymously. Having someone to talk to is enormously helpful, especially during the first several months.
After suffering any kind of abuse, it’s important for survivors to see a doctor. Depression and PTSD are common in abuse survivors, and those can lead to suicidal thoughts, disruption of sleep, changes in eating habits, and substance abuse, so survivors should be honest about any unusual symptoms, moods, or emotions they’re experiencing. Substance abuse is a common side effect of PTSD, so survivors are encouraged to seek help right away if they are worried they have a substance issue.
Taking care of oneself is imperative when survivors are rebuilding their lives. Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health, so survivors shouldn’t neglect them. Survivors should find things that make them happy, or ways to pamper themselves, and do them on a regular basis. This can include getting enough sleep, getting in daily exercise, taking a long hot bath, or cooking a decadent meal. Going out with friends and getting social can also be great methods of self-care. “Do what makes you feel good,” is what I always say!
It can be extremely difficult for victims of abuse to fully get away from their abusers. Even when they put physical distance between themselves and the person who inflicted violence on them, there will likely be memories, nightmares, and trust issues for years to come. Just remember that everyone deserves good things and we all have the strength to get through rough times.
Tilda Moore researches and writes about education resources for Open Educators. She’s passionate about helping parents and teachers provide kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to attain the Open Educators vision of constructing the largest and most reliable database of verified, easy-to-access information.