How trauma lives on after you end an abusive relationship
Ending an abusive relationship does not mean ending the pain.
Trauma lives on even after you have left a toxic relationship. Experiencing abuse and toxicity can have extremely detrimental effects on your mental, emotional, and even physical wellbeing. For many, leaving an abusive relationship seems impossible as they love their partner, expect them to change, or are manipulated into staying. Once you do find the strength to leave, you become overwhelmed by emotions: both positive and negative. Initially, you might feel as though you have been set free as you no longer have to face criticism, control, judgment, manipulation, and all other forms of abuse. However, the feelings of freedom and happiness are often short-lived.
You will feel grief and guilt or resentment and anger.
Shortly after your initial feelings of joy and relief, you might begin to feel grief and guilt or anger and resentment. Having your freedom and being in control of your life will open your eyes and make you see just how much the abuse had affected you. When you are hit with this realization, you will begin to feel intense anger and resentment as you will not be able to believe that the person who ‘loved’ you, has abused you so harshly. On the other hand, some may feel grief and guilt if the person they left behind was a lifelong friend or even, a family member. You will find yourself feeling intense pain and having to remind yourself of the abuse they put you through to justify the fact that you left.
You will build walls to protect yourself.
After the resentment and anger, you can become overwhelmed by fear: If my own family can hurt me so deeply, how can I trust that a partner wouldn’t? What if my partner physically abuses me the same way my ex did? How can I trust someone again after I confided in my best friend and all they did was use my weaknesses to tear me down? Naturally, you will do everything in your power to protect yourself and ensure that you never go through the same pain again. This means that you will find it difficult to trust those around you and it could take months or even years until you find the strength to confide in someone once again.
You will recover.
The journey to recovery will not be easy. Many people find that they cannot handle their recovery process on their own; in cases where the abuse has been extremely severe, people often turn to professional help. The important thing to remember is that at the end of it all, you will come out a stronger person who knows their value and what they need in a relationship. Furthermore, after enduring years of abuse and finally recovering, you will find that you will be more capable of noticing red flags and reading between the lines. Ultimately, you will recover and you will learn to love again.