Life After Domestic Violence
by Teresia Smith
Life after domestic violence can feel overwhelming, and figuring how to move forward and rebuild your life can be very challenging. Although there are certainly hurdles ahead, it is important to remember that you did the hardest part and have removed yourself from an unhealthy relationship and you should be proud of yourself for being strong enough to leave.
There are some things that can help you prepare to move forward. First, make sure you are surrounding yourself with positive people who support you. For so long, you may have felt unlovable and not enough. These feelings can lead to depression and a lack of self-worth. By finding your circle of friends and family who are supportive, loving, and kind, you can rebuild your self-esteem. You might consider joining a support group or taking up a hobby so that you spend time with people who affirm you. Be patient and kind to yourself as it takes time to heal and rebuild.
Secondly, you may want to seek professional help. You may need a counselor or therapist to help you walk through the feelings left from the bad relationship. If you were left in financial ruin, you may benefit from a financial specialist to help you form a budget and get back on track. If you are parenting, you may want to involve a parenting specialist to help you navigate your children’s emotions. Most communities have domestic violence centers which offer free services. Do not be afraid to reach out for help from organizations that offer tips, support, and classes on being successful and independent.
Thirdly, if you feel you need to have more purpose and something to focus on outside of yourself, consider volunteering. Giving back to others always benefits the giver. Volunteering builds confidence and self-esteem; but it also leaves you a sincere sense of purpose. Volunteer opportunities are usually available in a variety of settings so find the one that inspires and fulfills you.
Lastly, if you find yourself struggling, reach out for help. Domestic violence takes a huge toll on victims, physically and mentally. You do not have to suffer with depression, anxiety, or self-doubt alone. A mental health professional can help you manage those feelings so you can eventually move forward. There are also facilities who offer mental health counseling for your children, as they are also victims if they lived in the home at the time of the violence.
Recovering from domestic violence may seem like an overwhelming task, but with the right support, you can again be happy and thriving. Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential services to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. You may reach out Jackson County Office at 256.574.5826 for an appointment or you can reach out 24/7 using our HELPline at 256.716.1000, where a trained crisis counselor is available. You are not alone.