Can you really recover from a toxic and abusive relationship? Find out why it IS possible to survive and thrive after escaping abuse, and seven ways you can move on.
Living through an abusive relationship can be soul destroying. Leaving this same relationship sometimes requires every fibre of your strength but then comes your next hurdle: living with your abusive past.
You may feel betrayed and broken. In fact, the aftermath leaves you with a whole jumble of emotions for you to deal with. Finding yourself again and coming out the other end is a tough journey, albeit a rewarding one because I believe that: Yes, you can move on from a toxic and abusive relationship. I am living proof.
I survived over 20 years of abuse
My cycle of abuse started from early childhood, I was brought up in an abusive household. My mum, as well as my siblings and I, were victims of my father’s bullying and violent tendencies. My search for love and acceptance led me to alcohol and hanging around with the wrong crowd as a teenager. I landed in a violent marriage to my first husband. Our marriage ended after 11 months when he beat me into a coma.
I’m sharing this because I have endured over 20 years of misery and abuse so I know how hard it is to move on after bad experiences. I want you to know that although it is not easy to build a new life and put what happened behind you, youcando it.
Seven ways to move on from a toxic and abusive relationship
Learning to be happy again after a toxic and abusive relationship does not happen overnight but here are seven things that will help you to become a survivor instead of a victim.
1) Recognise that you’re not to blame
What happened to you is not your fault. There is nothing wrong with you and you are not responsible for another adult’s actions. Abusers have a very canny way of making their victims believe that what they did is your fault. They often use words like ‘you made me do that’ or ‘I wouldn’t have to do that if you__’.
Emotional manipulation is just their way of carrying out their abuse and exercising control over you. It is not normal for people to go around destroying other people’s lives. If someone treats you badly, there is something wrong with them, not with you.
2) Know that your past has a secret superpower
There is a secret superpower if you have had a bad past: the determination to build a better future. You can go through life blaming the circumstances surrounding you or you can fight back and create great things, regardless of your past.
It is one of the main things that drove my recovery from my abusive past. I was determined to be in control of my own life and not let anyone else have a negative power over me.
Take the time to look at what you really want in your life and then make it happen. You are in charge. Take it and own it. After I left my first husband, I put together a list of all the things I wanted to do and have in my life and I have achieved all those things that were under my control. What will you put on your list?
3) Use the limitless power of a positive mind
Believe in yourself and your goals. Believe that you can do and achieve what you want. It starts by taking small steps in the right direction.
With a positive mind, grit and determination, I’ve turned my life around. You can do the same: think positive instead of negative. Focus on all positives in your life and ignore all negatives. Anything in between is the wrong choice. Be so busy changing and loving your life that any negativity has no place in it.
You, too, can make things happen. You, too, can become an achiever! To achieve great things, you must ignore the people who put you down and you must surround yourself with people who believe in you. Don’t think you are not good enough. Don’t waste your time with that kind of negative energy and instead adapt a positive mindset. The only limits you have are the ones that you accept.
4) Forgive – it really helps
No, it is not as easy as it sounds. It took me several years to be able to forgive the people who made my life a misery. Forgiving does not mean that you condone their actions. It just means that you are letting go of the anger and all the negative emotions. It means that you are moving forward and leaving your past behind.
5) Avoid playing the blame game
Don’t worry if the thoughts of blaming your past for who you are today have crossed your mind, it does not make you a bad person, only human. However, don’t use what happened to you as an excuse to not live your life to the full. What happened was absolutely not right but your past does not determine your future. You are in charge of your life.
Lots of people blame bad economy or other external factors for not being successful. Others blame their past for who they are today. I don’t play the “blame game” and blame the people who made my life hell to use them as an excuse for not making my life a success. I advise you to do the same.
Put your past behind you and start working on a better future. Don’t blame anybody but yourself if you have not achieved anything in your life! Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you have ever imagined. Don’t play the victim, be the go-getter instead; there is always a way out. Use the pain of your past to create a better version of yourself. No matter how difficult your past has been, you can always begin again.
6) Trust that mental scars CAN fade away
Physical wounds heal; that’s the wonder of the human body. Mental wounds only heal if you allow it to happen. Your scars can become just a reminder of your struggles. They can show pain and suffering but more importantly, they can show your will to survive.
Mental scars can fade away and become a distant memory. Learning to let go of the past is the key to future happiness. The mental pain you felt yesterday can become the strength you feel tomorrow if you are willing to let it happen.
7) Don’t suffer in silence
You can feel lonely after you’ve left your abusive partner, especially as most abusers will isolate their victims so they can better control them. Don’t suffer in silence, you are not alone. You can reach out to family and friends. If you are not ready for that yet, there are a number of organisations that help survivors of domestic abuse get back on their feet. You can also reach out and join social media communities of other survivors like you.
When you are ready, share your story. It helps you heal from your past and your story can give inspiration and courage to someone else. I shared mine in my latest novel No Fourth River; it is a cathartic experience. A lot of readers reached out to me sharing their own stories and I listened, I gave them a platform to share their stories and created the #BraveMe hashtag so we can all support each other. If you do share your story on social media use the hashtag #BraveMe and I’ll reach out to you.
Take control of your future
Put these difference ways of coping into practice and rise above anything that holds you back to shape your future, rather than letting your situation dictate what the future holds.