Leaving an unhealthy relationship is an act of bravery and self-compassion. It’s also incredibly difficult and taxing on your mental health. A therapist may be able to provide additional support in the following ways:
Connecting to Resources
Therapists are professional resource gatherers. If your abusive relationship left you financially vulnerable, your therapist can help connect you to resources like Medicaid, housing, food assistance, and other financial programs. They can also help you find a medical provider if you need one. A therapist may be more keyed into local domestic violence groups or shelters. Having someone search with you or for you can alleviate some of the stress of rebuilding your life.
Perpetrators of relationship violence often put their victims down. You may have been told that nobody else would want you or that the violence was your fault. Even if you’re aware this is false, it can have a lasting effect on your self-esteem. Once you have left the relationship, there are often feelings of guilt or shame around your experience. A therapist can help you shed those negative self feelings and gain your confidence back.
After leaving an abusive partner, you may find yourself unsure of how to navigate future relationships. Knowing your boundaries and being able to stick to them is an important skill in finding a healthy relationship. These boundaries can be physical, financial, and/or emotional. A therapist can help you establish what you need from a supportive partner and teach you skills to communicate this to others.
A therapy practice may run groups for survivors of domestic violence or relationship abuse. This can be a great place to meet people who have been in similar situations and learn from their stories. In groups, a therapist often facilitates discussion or teaches skills to those in the group. Group also gives you an opportunity to share your story and provide support to others.
It is common for people who have been in an unhealthy relationship to carry trauma or show symptoms of PTSD. A therapist can provide a safe space for you to express your emotions and heal from past trauma. Depending on what you need, this may look like talking about the abuse, planning ways to lessen triggers, or using advanced processing techniques. Your therapist can help you process your past in a safe, trusting environment.
Finding the right therapist is important to establish trust and make sure you are able to get what you need out of therapy. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, there are resources available to you. A good place to start is the domestic violence hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233).