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Love after Domestic Abuse


Dating and starting new relationships after domestic abuse can be tricky and for many quite scary.


I did meet someone after being in an abusive marriage and I was lucky enough that it worked out and we are so far still happy and together and 6 months ago welcomed our beautiful baby boy. I get asked about dating, relationships and love after abuse quite often. Firstly, it wasn’t something I planned or looked for, I was set up by a friend and it just fell in to place at the time. But I also took my time. It took a long time for me get to know him and to introduce my daughter to him.


There were things that I knew I had to be careful of. I knew I had suffered a lot and knew I couldn’t afford to allow any one to harm me in any way again. I also had a daughter to think about. I felt being a single mum made me vulnerable within its self. When you’re a mum you’re in a completely different place your time is very precious and minimal, so I knew I had to make sure someone respected that. Potentially this person would impact my daughter’s life.


Getting into a relationship after domestic abuse can be challenging, some may have trouble identifying abusive behaviours and others may find it challenging to connect to another person. There can be a lot of fear surrounding the decisions to meet someone which is understandable. I know I had a worry of being in the hands of the wrong person.

Although I was in a good place at the time of meeting him, I also knew that was still a working progress as I believe the way domestic abuse changes you and has such a profound effect on your whole being you almost have to unlearn and re learn so much. Quite often your boundaries have been pulled down, you have been gaslighted so much you have questioned your own mind.


Healing is a continual process that you must always work on. I have learnt so much more in the last few years and grown stronger with putting boundaries in place even since meeting him. So, it’s important that someone allows and respects that process. You can’t necessarily expect to meet a domestic abuse expert but meeting some one who has the capability to listen and try to understand can make a huge difference and in my opinion a must.


While I believe you should be somewhat healed or on that journey, I don’t think restricting yourself from finding love is healthy, it’s a bit like punishing yourself for not being completely healed. That’s not helpful. You do need to be aware, and it is important to understand that you can be susceptible to fall into another abusive relationship if you’re not careful. Understanding domestic abuse and what you’ve been through is important. The freedom programme and recovery tool kit can be helpful to do before you go out into the dating world.

 

Everyone’s healing journey is different, and some journeys are longer than others.


One of the things survivors can suffer from is low self of steam and struggling with accepting the love they deserve, believing they are hard to love. I strongly believe in, knowing yourself, being independent, having strong boundaries and an understanding of domestic abuse and the impact of what has happened to you, knowing your own triggers, you need to be kind to yourself and careful with your soul, but I think being loved can also be healing, allowing to open yourself up to others isn’t making you co-dependent or enmeshed.

Being honest is important but how and when you are is entirely up to you and how comfortable you are. There are some people that are more understanding that others and that’s up to us to gauge. I was honest about being in an abusive marriage but in doses. I never lied and if I was asked something I told the truth, but I didn’t tell everything all at once because it is very personal, and I was aware of victim blaming and wanted to make sure I trusted my now partner with the information I was telling him. It’s your story, your experience so you decide how, what, when it is told and who it is told to. If the relationship becomes serious then you can discuss with your partner your experiences and what you expect from that relationship. Always remember you don’t have to rush with anything.


When you first met someone, instincts are important. Learn to trust yourself and if something doesn’t feel right then your probably right so go with your gut. This can be difficult because after experiencing abuse you can question yourself a lot.


When you have been abused, we can lose our sense of self-worth. In my relationship I learnt so much from my partner and discovered how badly I was treated in comparison by my ex-husband. Smaller things that I hadn’t considered before until someone showed me. You deserve to feel loved and heard and respected anything less is unacceptable.


There are times where I can be triggered and its important for me to understand those triggers and I’m glad my partner is patient with the process of me working on myself continually.

Throughout my relationship with my current partner there are always occurrences that catch me off guard. Moving in with my partner was a big step for me. When I finally moved in to my own place after suffering domestic abuse and living in a home that was full of terror and the unknown, living on my own in a quiet space felt amazing, it was peaceful and safe. I also had my own independence. Moving out of that space and in with another sent me in to a panic. Although I really wanted to take that step and it had been well thought out and not rushed it still felt worrying for me, and understandably so.


There will always be triggers and situations that will catch you off guard.


Your wellbeing and happiness is what is most important. Being in a relationship or finding love can be a gift but its not for everyone. I am grateful to have met someone who is understanding and has taken the time to build an amazing relationship with my daughter.

 

Be patient with yourself. Like I said healing is a process. Take your time and do lots of self-care. You can learn to love yourself and love another again. Don’t settle for anything less than the real thing.







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