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You Asked: How Can I Move Past my Abusive Past?


Dear Sugar--
I was in a relationship for 4 years with an abusive man. He abused me mentally, verbally, physically, and cheated on me. We've been broken up for 11 months now but I'm still having trouble dealing with the aftermath. When I was with him I became a very anxious and nervous person, gained 15 pounds, and started drinking a lot. I was always on edge and could never relax.

Now, I'm doing better but not as good as I'd like. I'm still very anxious and I suspect this is where most of the weight gain came in (I'm a nervous and emotional eater). I don't drink as much, which is good, but I have trouble sleeping and can't relax a lot of the time. I do see a therapist, but when I told her about the physical abuse she said that it wasn't as bad as some stories she's heard (stories of sexual abuse, women being set on fire, etc, very horrific things), so I kind of felt like I shouldn't be upset about it since it's not as bad as what some women go through. However, I was choked, hit, pushed, bruised, shaken, and constantly emotionally and verbally abused. I guess I'm having much more trouble dealing with this than I thought I would. I'm so happy to be away from him, and I have great relationships with my family and friends now, but I still can't quite get over it all. -- Trying to Move on Molly

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Dear Trying to Move on Molly --

First off, I want to commend you for leaving this man - abuse does not belong in any relationship. It takes a lot of courage to do what you did, but it's important to realize that it will probably take longer than 11 months to recover from such an abusive and traumatic relationship.

I am glad to hear that you are seeking professional help, but I'm wondering if you have found the right therapist. While many women have had more traumatizing experiences from an abusive man, no one should ever compare your situation with anyone else's. You are very lucky that some of the horrific things your therapist spoke about didn't happen to you, it isn't fair for anyone to suggest that your situation isn't just as serious or heart breaking - abuse is abuse - anyway you cut it, it isn't acceptable. With that said, you might want to consider exploring new options if you feel you aren't getting the emotional support you need.

Feelings of anxiety and nervous energy are totally normal so don't be too hard on yourself for still feeling the effects of this relationship. Have you discussed the possibility of taking medication to help you get over the hump and ease your anxiety? I don't think anyone has ever said it's easy to mend a broken heart or to put an abusive relationship in your past, so try to be patient with yourself, treat yourself well, and let time take its course. Although it might not give you any sense of relief, time is a great healer. I wish you luck Molly and you can get additional help or support by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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