“I started to see that things were not what I thought they were.”
The Abuse Story
I was in a narcissistic abusive relationship for 8 years, married for 6 of those. No kids. I experienced emotional, mental, sexual, spiritual, and verbal abuse.
I started to see that things were not what I thought they were. I reached out for help and talked with someone from a transition house hotline and found out I was in an abusive relationship. It was then a bunch of different pieces that happened in a short span of time until eventually, I had packed up my stuff while he was at work and moved in with my parents.
What Were the Biggest Challenges You Faced After You Got Away?
Keeping a job. I couldn’t focus. I had to quit and go on government assistance.
Trusting men. I was suspicious of every man I came in contact with, no matter if I knew them or not.
Living with C-PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, nightmares, etc.
When Did You Start to Feel In Control
When I was able to focus enough to start writing again. Also, after lots of therapy.
Tips for Dealing with Flashbacks
Prayer, and EMDR, which helped me the most with flashbacks out of all the therapy I’ve done.
What are some boundaries you've put up to protect yourself?
To be honest, I’m still working on that. It’s a process. One of my boundaries though is not putting up with disrespect. If someone doesn’t respect me, I limit contact with them or I cut them out of my life completely depending on the situation.
What are some techniques you use to bring positivity into your life?
I continue to go to counseling. I keep a gratitude journal. I talk to God a lot. I also try my best to focus on the positive rather than the negative. I acknowledge the negative; I think about it; I process it; then I let go before it becomes my entire focus. Some days that is easier said than done. I’ve found that stuffing and resisting my emotions doesn’t help, it actually makes it worse. But also dwelling on the negative, keeps me stuck.
Advice For People in Abusive Situations
Get informed! Abuse, and what comes with it, isn’t common knowledge. It’s important to educate yourself on the cycle of abuse, abuse tactics, the abusive mindset, etc. in order to start to understand your situation and the impact it is having.
Know that no matter what you do, you can’t change the other person. It’s impossible and it’s not your responsibility. All you can do is work at what it is that you need to do in order to start healing and to become stronger. And from my experience, that healing process can only truly happen once you leave.
What Are Some Things That Would Have Made it Easier to Leave?
If I had known about abuse, I would have left way sooner. I did have a lot of support leaving but it would have helped if more people in my life understood abuse. I did a lot of educating myself and then educating other people on it (I still do).
How Can Society Help You More?
Stop victim-blaming! Educate themselves on abuse. Listen. Give me grace. Be patient, healing is not fast, and it’s not pretty.
What Are Some Things You Enjoy Doing Now?
I love writing, reading, spending time with my family, hanging out in nature, and drinking tea.
What Helps You See the Beauty in the World?
My faith in God. My daughter. My second husband. Well-written books.
What makes you feel confident?
When I write something that I am proud of. When I receive words of encouragement from friends and family. Also, my therapist; she is the best cheerleader.
What Makes You Feel Beautiful?
My c-section scar from the birth of my daughter and all the stretch marks on my stomach. I labored for a long time before the surgery. I didn’t give up. I fought hard to have a natural birth and when that was no longer an option, I did what was best for the two of us. My scar reminds me that beauty has more to do with who I am (a strong, brave, persevering woman) than what I look like (my scars, my stretch marks, etc.). This is the same for my invisible scars. I feel beautiful when I look at how far I have come from the shell I was when I first left the abusive marriage.
What Makes You Feel Empowered?
When I’m reminded that I am not alone. When people hold space for me. When people celebrate with me. When people allow me to be me without criticism. When I hear stories of other women conquering difficulties.
***If you survived abuse and would like to use the story to help encourage others, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*If you or someone you know might be experiencing abuse, please see my resource page for support.