What to Do After Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse is a heartbreaking but real situation that happens to both women and men in the United States every day. Domestic abuse can damage individuals, tear apart families, and destroy lives. Domestic abuse is never acceptable, under any circumstances. If you or a loved one is in an abusive situation, it is essential to get out of the situation as soon as possible.
Many women wonder, though, what they should do after suffering through domestic abuse. It can seem so crippling, so life-altering, and can make you stop in your tracks and wonder what step to take next. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for women who have suffered through this painful situation. This article discusses some steps to take after domestic abuse.
Remove Yourself from the Situation
First, if the abuse is recent and you are still in the dangerous situation, call an emergency line immediately to receive help from the police, counseling, and advice on what to do next. Call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). You need to report and document your abuser’s actions, and you need to be put in contact with resources in your community, such as a women’s shelter or safe house, where you and your family can go to get away from your abuser and have a safe, warm place to sleep. You could also consider staying with a friend or relative, but keep in mind your abuser, if not apprehended by the police immediately, may search for you there. Ultimately, getting out of the abusive situation is the most important thing you need to do at this point.
Seek Help and Build a Network of Support
Once you have removed yourself from the dangerous situation, you should begin taking advantage of the services in your community for battered women. Friends and family, centers for abused women, and local churches or nonprofits are the first places you should go when seeking help after suffering through domestic abuse. The local Yellow Pages should have a list of the women’s services or shelters in your town, and you could also consider searching online for local organizations who can help you. These people and organizations can be there to listen to your story, offer a helping hand, and be a shoulder to cry on. In many cases, they can offer financial support to help you get back on your feet. You will need this support network both in the immediate aftermath of the situation and over the coming months and years as you re-establish your life without your abuser.
Take Safety Precautions
Your abuser may make an effort to reach out to you, apologize for his actions, and ask you to come back. You must absolutely refuse. Recognize that you have taken a huge, positive step in removing yourself from the situation, and remember the emotional and physical pain he caused you. Do not be like many women who believe false promises and return to their former home, only to be abused again.
Also, consider taking measures to cut off communication from the abuser completely. Get a new cell phone number, and make sure it is unlisted. Ask close friends and family to keep your whereabouts secret. Get a restraining order—while the abusive person may violate it, you will have legal recourse if he does, and it can serve as a positive deterrent towards contacting you.
Begin the Healing Process
While you may have physically removed yourself from the abusive situation, you still have a great deal of mental scars that need time to heal. One of the best steps you can take in the process towards healing is to recognize that it is not your fault. You did not deserve to be abused, you did nothing to merit such pain and hurt, and this should not have happened to you and your family. You deserve respect and a safe, comfortable home life for you and your children. Maintain a firm grasp on this reality, and don’t succumb to thinking that “He wasn’t that bad” or “I did deserve some of it.” You are a beautiful and precious woman, and you should never have been treated that way.
Pursue your Goals and Dreams
After leaving an abusive situation, you may be wondering “What on earth do I do with my life now?” The best thing you can do is pursue your dreams and goals, and develop new ones if you had none before. Have you always wanted to learn how to make pottery? Join a class, meet some new friends, and develop a new skill. Have you been wanting to go back to school and get a college degree? Do it! One of the best things you can do after suffering through abuse is re-define and re-establish who you are as a person, and find hobbies, activities, and classes to help you form this new woman. Following your goals and dreams can be rewarding and encouraging, and it will help you on your path towards healing.
Look for Healthy Relationships
When you feel ready, you may be wanting to enter into a new romantic relationship. It may take months or years, but you will know when you are finally ready. In the mean time, make a list of the qualities you want in a potential romantic partner. Character traits like “respectful,” “kind,” and “mature” are some words that should be near the top of your list. As you meet and interact with new people, and as you go on first and second dates, keep your list of expectations at the forefront of your mind, and never settle for anything less. If you have any hesitations about the quality of the person you are with, you should think carefully and back away if necessary. Your health, happiness, and well-being (and the happiness and security of your children) are too important to sacrifice. Making and sticking to a list of requirements for any future romantic partner is the best way to ensure you find a quality partner. Ultimately, as you begin the path towards healing after domestic abuse, remember that you are a beautiful person deserving of love and the best life has to offer. Take advantage of the people in your life who want to help you as you start down the road towards your new and exciting future!