Important Benchmarks to Celebrate After Leaving An Abuser
By Arfa Syed
It finally happened. Even though it took every ounce of your strength and tapped into a dried well of physical, emotional, and mental strength, you found the courage to leave. You are out, but the trauma remains long after leaving an abuser. Trauma can even feel pulverizing and consumptive–like a dark cloud follows you everywhere and the thought of a celebration seems faint or like a task. You ask yourself at times how you got here, and then if there is a way out—to go back to who you were before the trauma. This is why you have to make a conscious and coordinated effort to celebrate that you did one of the hardest things anyone ever has to do—you broke an often-generational cycle of abuse. You left an abuser and that alone is a reason for celebration, but on the journey ahead, there are many milestones that deserve celebration. The more you celebrate, identify and appreciate these miracles, the more you calibrate yourself in the right direction.
Celebrate Your Courage
Leaving an abuser is often complicated with many barriers in the way from economical to emotional. On average, a woman will leave an abusive relationship seven times before she permanently parting ways, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. It is a long and hard journey to start but as Aristotle once said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” Celebrate this virtue inside you that will guide you on your journey, and during any setback, remind yourself that you defied odds. You defied stats. You defied societal pressures. Remind yourself, you are virtuous.
Celebrate Breaking the Cycle of Abuse
Statistics reflect a child with an upbringing in an abusive environment correlates with becoming an abuser or victim as an adult, and that individuals with a history of abuse in childhood are at increased risk of maltreating their own children and/or partners. Breaking a cycle of abuse is no easy feat. There are often many abuser excuses, societal pressures, or economic factors to keep you stuck in a cycle that can perpetuate generations of abuse. But once you break the cycle, you not only free yourself but possibly generations to come. This is a huge milestone to celebrate. It’s said, “trauma travels through family lines until someone is ready to heal it. Your ancestors and descendants celebrate every time you do the work.” Celebrate that you did the work. Celebrate breaking a tough cycle.
Celebrate Your Boundaries
When you left, you set a new boundary—that abuse would no longer be tolerated, and you recognize your value. This line in the sand is new and deserves its own celebration. Celebrate that you drew this boundary and made it visible to others. Keep on the right track by recognizing what this milestone means on your journey. Be sure you keep celebrating this by actively checking in with yourself on setting boundaries and that you don’t compromise them. You can also document the reasons you are worthy. Remind yourself of your worthiness and continue building the capacity to keep going.
Celebrate Your New Perspective and Beginnings
Often in abusive relationships, self-esteem can wear down over time. One can start to hear an abuser’s voice in their head even when they are not present. After leaving an abusive relationship, it is a new beginning and time to ardently tap back into your inner voice. Make use of this new beginning to nourish your body from mental health to physical health.
Celebrate Your Time
The most valuable of all resources is time. After leaving an abusive relationship, there is newfound time free of the abuser that should be celebrated. Use small pockets of time in the day to celebrate taking back your time.
Celebrate the Mundane
You showed courage. Strength. Virtue. Capacity. These are all reasons to celebrate and continue to celebrate. You can also add small celebrations sprinkled into your daily life and routine. Celebrate the first time you use new bedsheets that your abuser has never been in. A new bed. The new décor you brought into your home. The date you left. There are many celebrations in the mundane that will fuel you as long as you keep paying attention to them.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.
Disclaimer: Everyone is on their own journey and in different places of their journey. The intentions of this article are to uplift those survivors who have left an abuser and not judge any victim of abuse.