Steps to heal from psychological abuse
Call abuse what it is…. Abuse. Step out of denial. If you have a hard time calling it abuse then just name it; ‘not so nice things’ However, when someone takes advantage of your affection, trust or good nature it is abusive. Writing down the hurtful things the abusive person did to you, is a revealing way to get a clear insight into the extent of the abuse.
Avoid or diminish contact with the abusive person. Every time you are in contact with the abusive person you might get exposed to abuse. This way the abuse can continue and you’re running high risk of getting hurt over and over again. Apply the list; strategy on how to deal with abusive people. Set boundaries.
Admit that you are in vulnerable place. Maybe you feel anxious, want to isolate yourself or you want to flee. Don’t make any important mayor life dicisions. People in bad mental states make bad dicisions. Be gentle with yourself and take it easy. It’s normal to feel angry, sad, anxious or numb for a while. Express these feelings. A healthy way of doing this is talking about your feelings or writing them down. Being artistically creative through painting or making music is also a good way of expressing emotions.
Calm your nervous system. Your stress hormones are peaking and need to calm down. Regulate your daily routine. Eat, sleep and exercise in a regular way so your body can get back to a natural state. Try to have a daily schedule as much as possible.
Seek support. There are many websites on the topic, go and read some on psychological abuse. Maybe you want to get in touch with other people who experienced the same trauma. Learn about the subject as much as possible. Join a forum. Seek a therapist that is familiar with psychological abuse. Find comforting and nourishing people to join your life.
Move towards sanity. Realize that you have been manipulated, mind controlled or brainwashed. It could have rubbed off on you. If you had a parent that only responded to you with anger then maybe you have learned to respond with anger towards other people too. Learn new healthy forms of communication. Stay compassioned to the people around you.
Forgiving is not always necessary in order to move on. You didn’t abandon the abuser. The abuser caused their own abandonment. Their behaviour made it impossible for you to have a healthy relationship with them, therefore you had no choice but to choose for your own sanity. It is your responsibility and your right to protect yourself and preserve your mental health. And that of your child(ren). Forgiving is not always possible, in that case it is enough to just detach.
Detachment from the painful history you share with the abusive person is a good way to finding closure. Practicing mindfulness is a good way to get detached. Guilt could be a feeling you have to deal with for a while. This is normal. Some people pity the abuser in the end and leave it at that.
‘Move on’: This is your new mantra.
Realise that this is an opportunity to grow through pain. When dealing with your healing process, it’s good to remind yourself that you will rise up as a stronger person in the end. This is the time that you pay attention to YOU. This is an opportunity to learn about your history, yourself and human nature. You will learn, develop and grow more than ever before. This time will mature and heal you in a very valuable way. You may not always feel that way but when you come out at the other end of the tunnel, you will feel a new, wiser and stronger person. This I promise.
Learn to bond with others and find new people that will champion you. This you may have to learn by applying new communication skills. Because you had poor examples, throughout childhood, on how to interact healthily with others, you might need to learn how to bond. People bond through communication and polishing communication-skills is a valuable tool. Therapy focussed on that is worth the investment.
Learn to set boundaries. This skill is key if you want to restore your self-esteem. It comes down to finding yourself comfortable with saying no. For starters: a no means no. Not; maybe, later, if you whine enough I‘ll cave in, I think about it or I let you play on my sense of guilt. A calm, friendly and firm no should be enough and respected. Full stop.