Domestic violence impacts an estimated 12 million women and men each year. The perils of experiencing violence in an intimate relationship goes beyond immediate threats to safety and wellbeing. It can extend into the years following an abusive relationship, making emotional and mental health difficult and creating challenges in future relationships.
During a divorce, people who experienced domestic abuse may feel extra pain as they navigate a process that is already difficult for people in more peaceful relationships. Divorce may dredge up new emotions, or bring to the surface issues that hadn’t been addressed before.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel
It’s important to begin addressing the problems before they build up and create long-term issues. The following are a few ways to begin the road to recovery after a divorce involving domestic violence:
- Build a strong network of support. Sometimes, an abusive ex-spouse may attempt to continue harassment or intimidation. It’s critical to know that you have people to turn to and lean on when you need it most. Don’t try to manage this situation alone.
- Cut all contact with your ex. If there are children involved, an attorney can help you navigate custody arrangements and may advise you about your legal options for cutting off contact (i.e., restraining orders).
- Find a counselor or therapist. Pick someone who has experience working with people who have endured trauma and abuse. It’s important that you begin working through the emotions sooner than later.
- Be kind to yourself. Remember that it takes time to heal, and that your own personal progress isn’t right or wrong. Take steps to relearn how to love yourself, and be patient with the process.
If you’ve endured domestic violence at any stage of your marriage, whether before, during, or after a divorce, know that you’re not alone. With the help of a legal representative and your own network of friends, family, and community, you can get through this difficult process and come out a happier, stronger person.