As much as I would love to state that after surviving domestic abuse, you will soon be able to forget and heal once you enter a fresh new “normal” relationship; I can’t, as that is not the case- or at least it has not been so far for me.
I made the decision after I finally left my abusive partner to attempt to stay single for at least 8 months or so, in order to give myself time to heal. I also didn’t want to enter into a new relationship too quickly, and have my insecurities and fears which I know I would carry over, make things difficult. The last thing I would ever want to do is know I am responsible for hurting someone I care about, due to the fact that I am still too “broken” to be able to function properly in a new relationship!
However, I have recently taken the plunge and thrown myself into a new relationship- It is going very well overall, although both he and myself can see that I still have a lot of fears and insecurities from my previous abusive partner. There have been times when I have refrained from saying or doing something, for fear that my new boyfriend will react in a similar way to my ex. Luckily, he is very understanding and knows what I have been through, and rarely gets frustrated or annoyed! I was hoping that I would just meet someone and magically forget my ex and that my PTSD would somehow be cured. But, I now know that the feeling of being ‘cured’ is highly unlikely to happen for me or any other woman in the short term. However, I believe it WILL happen over time, and already is for me.
Five months into my new relationship, I now no longer panic if I spill a drink or forget directions somewhere- My partner hugs me and tells me not to worry, which feels amazing as I have never been reassured like that before by anyone in my life! So if you are feeling empty and harbor that “maybe I will always attract abusive men” mentality which I felt for a long time- fear not because there is someone out there who is perfect for you! Even though I waited almost a year before dating again, I still feel the anxiety and worry of doing something “wrong” as though my negative experiences are still fresh in my mind. This does frustrate both myself and my boyfriend at times as he wants to help me through my problems, but we both also know that this is “normal” for someone with a trauma related illness, so don’t put pressure on ourselves.
Even though I waited almost a year before dating again, I still feel the anxiety and worry of doing something “wrong” as though my negative experiences are still fresh in my mind. This does frustrate both myself and my boyfriend at times as he wants to help me through my problems, but we both also know that this is “normal” for someone with a trauma related illness, so we do not put pressure on ourselves; nor should you.
I have also found that my family worry about me more now, and have been encouraging me not to “rush” into my new relationship. I understand their concerns, seeing as they experienced a lot of pain and heartbreak watching me break down and almost self-destruct from my previous relationship. I want to let other survivors know that this is normal behaviour for relatives and friends to exhibit- It doesn’t mean they do not approve of your new partner, they just do not want to see you in back a position you have been in previously, where they trusted someone to look after and support you, and that person did the polar opposite!
Once you realise it is ok to be skeptical and afraid in the early days of a new, “normal” relationship with someone who is not a narcissist or psychopath, you will soon begin to see and feel how wonderful life really can be! I now appreciate all the little, lovely luxuries of being with a man who loves me. Those little things like enjoying an evening walk, watching films in bed, and just generally knowing that I no longer have to hold in my emotions and fears. My partner is just that a partner, he helps me to combat my anxieties and I must say that my confidence over the previous few months has increased slowly but surely!
No matter how tired, broken and negative you may be feeling in your current situation, I can assure you that NONE OF WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU WAS YOUR FAULT!! You ARE beautiful, both inside and out and you ARE worthy of love. It will take as long as it needs, but over time you WILL heal and eventually allow someone to love you who deserves you!
Click here for more help and advice: National Domestic Violence Helpline
You can also read Emma’s piece on Surviving Domestic violence and living with PTSD by clicking here.
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‘3Cs of Life; choice, chance and change- you must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want anything to ever change. ‘
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