11 things that can help you recover from abuse
“I am bigger than anything that can happen to me. All these things: sorrow, misfortune, and suffering, are outside my door. I am inside the house, and I have the key.” – Charles Fletcher Lummis
- Speak. Shame feeds on silence. Talking about that abuse might seem like the last thing you want to do, but speaking out about what happened to you and letting other people in takes away the power of the depression and the shame and gives that power back to you. Don’t know who to talk to? Confide in a parent or a friend, a coach, a guidance counselor, a brother or sister, a cousin, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, a minister, priest or rabbi. Or, call a hotline, for example: The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, a national 24-hour resource, can be accessed by phone (1-866-331-9474 & 1-866-331-8453 TTY) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) Or, visit www.loveisrespect.org to access an online help page.
- Find a therapist or a support group. Talking to a professional or joining an organized survivor group can be pivotal for some victims. It can help you to understand that what happened to you is not your fault, and that the things you are struggling with are often normal symptoms of abuse. It is important to find a therapist or group that you feel comfortable with. There are lots of great therapists out there and they can do wonders in your life if you are brave enough to put in the work. Psychology Today has a great source to help find therapists in your area: http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/. Other good resource centers can be found at facilities specialized in dealing with relationship violence.
- Write. If you cannot speak out loud, write. Write about all the things that are not fair. About all the things you wish you could change. About all the things no one ever told you. All the things you would say to your abuser right now. All the things you would say to the person you used to be. All the things you are afraid of. Write about your nightmares. Your memories. What still haunts you. Write about how you can make a difference. What you can do to help someone else. Write down what you want in a relationship. What is important to you. What you would like your future partner to be like. Write about nonsense. Write every curse word you can think of. Write about forgiveness. Write about revenge. Write about hate. About all the feelings of hate. And then write about love. About what gives you hope. About what you are thankful for. About the reasons why you are blessed. Write poems. Write songs. Write gibberish. Write a book. A Blog. A sentence. If you want, share the writing with the world. If not, keep it in a private journal, or throw it away, but get the words out from inside of you.
- Find a healthy escape. Play a sport. Take up running. Lifting. Train for a triathlon. Learn to play an instrument. Join a band. Blast music in your car and sing along at the top of your lungs. Take a dance class. Write a book. Act in a play. Find something to take your mind off of what you have been through and allow yourself a break.
- Practice yoga and meditation both of which are proven to lower stress and anxiety. They can also help you to learn how to control your negative thoughts.
- Scream. Cry. Act ridiculous. Go to a private place if you have to and let yourself fall apart for a little while. You work so hard to hold it all together, but sometimes you need to let yourself feel the pain so that you can get it out. Sometimes hearing the sound you make (even screaming) helps you to remember that you have a voice.
- Be your own best friend. Has someone ever left you an encouraging note or called just to tell you that you are amazing and they are proud of you? Little things can brighten your day. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Be good to yourself. Instead of sending negative messages in the way you talk and think about yourself, start being your own biggest cheerleader. Even if it feels manufactured at first, you need to be on your own side in order to get through the worst parts of recovery.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to admit that you are struggling. Sometimes victims think that they have to do everything on their own. They have to keep up the appearance of being perfect in order for people to like them, or to try to prove to themselves that they are “worth it.” You don’t have to do this on your own. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are struggling or having a bad day. There are people who can help you, or at least just sit with you when you are upset. If no one knows what is going on, then you miss out on the support that is around you.
- Join a support group or go to a recovery workshop. It can be intimidating to join a group or attend a workshop, but victims often find these resources incredibly helpful. Being around other victims can be incredibly therapeutic simply because you are in a place where other people understand–to a certain extent–what you have been through and are going through. Search for resource centers in your area, or talk with a therapist to see if he or she has any recommendations.
- Make peace with a higher power. Believing in God can be helpful in many ways during the recovery process. Give up your pain to Him/Her. Sometimes just trusting that God wants you to live an extraordinary life, and that He/She is there with you in your darkest moments and will bring you through, helps take some of the pressure away off of you. If you don’t believe in God, trust in whatever higher power you believe in and know that you are connected to this world and to everyone in it. You may feel alone, but you are not isolated. Feeling connected to the universe can help you recover from what you have been through and let go of some of your pain.
- Take care of yourself. Workout. Follow healthy eating habits. Get a good night’s sleep, take a shower and put on clothes that make you feel good about yourself. Taking time for yourself is incredibly important and it is something that victims often neglect. When you have negative feelings inside, feelings such as shame, self-doubt, anger and sadness, it can be hard to do things for yourself. If you are having a hard time trying to tackle the big problems in your life, start with the little ones. Get a new haircut, allow yourself to look nice and try let go of the things that you can’t change about your appearance. Celebrate what makes you special and allow yourself to be the beautiful person that you are.