Help for Survivors

Finding Closure After Abuse

Moving on after any breakup is challenging. But healing after an abusive relationship can be especially difficult. All breakups end with their share of sadness and loss. But on top of that, someone who survives an abusive relationship may have to deal with continued harassment or attacks. With all the trauma and emotional stress, a survivor might ask, "Was leaving really worth it?"
YES, leaving is worth it.
No one deserves to be abused. Abusers hold power and control over victims, by minimizing their self-esteem and breaking their spirit. If you’re leaving an abusive relationship, rebuilding your life can be a hard process. But with time and space, finding closure is possible. A violence-free life is waiting, and you are so very worth it.

Cut off contact with your ex

During the healing process, you may feel the need to reach out to your ex. You may want to offer forgiveness, help them through the break-up, or show them how you’re better off. Yet it’s difficult to really get closure without severing all ties with your ex, at least for a time.
Try different methods to avoid contacting your former partner. Delete their phone number and change yours. If you’re picking up the phone to call, put the phone in a different room and walk away.
Resist the urge to look them up on social media. Unfriend or block them. If pictures or news about them keep popping up, it could be helpful to remove mutual friends as well.

Surround yourself with support

After an abusive relationship, allow yourself to get help and support from others. Spend time with friends and family who care about you. Tell them what you need: someone to talk to, to cry with, to keep you from answering phone calls from your ex, to stop you from texting your ex back, etc.
If your abusive partner isolated you from friends and family, you may find that you no longer have that support network — but there are always people who want to help. Consider finding a counselor to talk with one-on-one, or join a support group. By calling the Iowa Victim Service Call Center, an advocate can connect you to services in your area.

Self Care

Taking care of yourself is such an important part of the healing process. It begins with understanding that the abuse that happened wasn’t your fault.

Find things that make you happy. 
It might take some time to remember what hobbies you enjoy, but that’s half of the fun. Join clubs or try activities like a group fitness class to meet new people.

If you have children, find ways to make time for yourself. 
Some gyms offer free childcare while you work out, and different domestic violence centers provide childcare while you’re attending support groups.

Watch the way you're talking to yourself. 
Counter negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Celebrate the little things, as well as the big victories. Becoming aware of what you think and say about yourself can help shift negative thoughts.

Things will get better with time

The old saying “time heals all wounds” can be incredibly frustrating, but there is truth in it. Recovery does take time and space. Give yourself as much time as you need to heal.
Recovery looks different for everyone, and each person has to find what works for them.
If you feel that therapy might be helpful, sooner is always better. Therapy is beneficial for everyone because it helps you to increase self-awareness, clarify goals, and think through the past.
Counseling provides a safe space to express feelings, thoughts, and fears. Counselors won't judge you or tell anyone what you say. They don't tell you what to do or make you share more than you're comfortable with. They just listen and help you work through the things you are experiencing.
It's important to feel like you mesh well with your counselor. Look for someone who makes you feel heard, understood, safe and comfortable.
If counseling isn't for you, find someone else to talk to. Our advocates are available 24/7 via phone (1.800.770.1650) or message (text IOWAHELP to 20121).