Survivor Story: Questions We Have Before Leaving an Abuser

Submitted by: Joanna

When we reach the point where we are ready to leave an abuser, we are often weighed down with fear, confusion, and sadness. Our abusers have conditioned us to believe that we are not worth better, that no one will believe us if we disclose the abuse, and that no one will care enough to help us if we leave. Joanna shares answers to a few of the questions we face.

“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails”- Elizabeth Edwards

Standing in the storm of domestic violence is a scary storm to endure. Adjusting your sails is courageous and even scarier. You ask yourself many questions, “Where will I go? What will I do? Who will help me? What will people think when they find out? Who will understand?” These are natural questions when choosing to leave the relationship.

The first step is to tell someone you love and trust. You will feel ashamed to admit this horrible secret and worried about their reaction. You will be surprised and encouraged by their response. Your loved ones do not want you to endure the abuse. They want to help you, protect you, shelter you and love you. Let them. Lean on them. Embrace them as they embrace you.

They may not understand where you are, but they do not have to, to love and support you. Let them love you. Accept their support, acts of kindness, and encouragement. This is a crucial step in healing.

What will people think when they find out?

Those who love and support you will be proud of you for taking your life back. They will think you are courageous, brave, strong, and inspiring. Those who judge your situation and talk negatively about you – leave those relationships too. There is no room in your life for unhealthy relationships. You will grow stronger day by day once the unhealthy “friends” are out of your life.

What will I do?

You will grow stronger. You will become the survivor that you are inside. Counseling is so important to help cope with the feelings and emotions that the abuse has left you with. There are many options available to help you work through the struggles of being a victim/survivor of DV. You can find peace, joy, and happiness. It is possible.

You will discover who you are again. You will survive and no longer be a victim. Be patient with yourself – it takes time. There will be good days, great days, bad days, and horrible days. Allow yourself to go through each emotion as it comes. It is necessary to heal and cope. Counseling is vital in dealing with these emotions, so they do not paralyze you. DV does NOT define you. You can do this.

Where will I go?

There are many options for you. The National Domestic Hotline provides help and support. There are shelters and churches in your community that are available to assist and help. There are family and friends. Please do not be too proud to accept offers of help. These offers are heartfelt, supportive and caring. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with those that love you.

No one deserves abuse. It is never ok. It is never your fault, no matter what the abuser tells you.

If you are standing in the middle of this storm, I plead with you to adjust your sails. You are strong and courageous. Take your life back.

**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.

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