Emotional abuse causes many divorces. The abuse may not end after the divorce is final. If you have children, you will probably have to deal with your former spouse for many years to come. You do not have to put up with abuse of any kind. Congratulations for taking that first significant step of extricating yourself from an abusive relationship. Now is the time to create a new life and free yourself from negative influences.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Make a clean break. If you do not have children, you no longer need to have contact with your former spouse. Letting go is sometimes difficult, even with an emotionally abusive spouse. Many abusers try to control you in different ways. An abusive ex-spouse may still attempt to manipulate you or destroy your self-esteem after a divorce. Often the abuser does not want the relationship to end and will try to get you back with false promises or threats. If you feel yourself wavering, write down a list of all the demeaning things that the abuser has done or said, to remind you of the reasons that you left. Make another list of all your positive traits and your goals for the future.
Speak to a lawyer about your rights. When you have children, things get more complicated. Your lawyer can help you work out a custody agreement. You will have to interact with your ex-spouse when children are picked up and dropped off. You most likely will have to discuss child-rearing issues. If a person is emotionally abusive to a spouse, he may also abuse children. Any concerns that your children are being abused should be dealt with through the courts. You will need proof of your allegations. If your children tell you that they don't want to visit the other parent or act differently when they come home, you should be concerned.
Set ground rules. If you are speaking with your ex-spouse on the phone and she becomes verbally abusive, do not engage this type of behaviour. Try to avoid becoming angry. Inform your former spouse that you will no longer be treated this way and that you are hanging up the phone, and do so.
Plan a new life for yourself. Living well is the best revenge. Get out into the world and interact with new people. Take up a new hobby, go to night school, or become a volunteer. These activities will keep you occupied and introduce you to a new social group. Grieving a loss is normal, even the loss of a bad relationship. Allow yourself to feel sad and angry for a while. Getting over abuse takes time. Don't let bitterness overtake your emotions; doing so means that the abuser is still having a negative effect on your life. Seek counselling and learn to trust. Count on family and friends for support.
Contact the police if your former spouse is harassing or threatening you. If it continues, you can file for a protection order. Emotional abuse can escalate into physical abuse. If you need someone to talk to, seek out a support group for victims of abuse.
Leaving the Past Behind
Tips and warnings
- Recognise how the emotional abuser has kept you from becoming the person you are meant to be, by destroying your self-esteem and taking away your freedom.
- Give yourself credit for becoming strong enough to leave an abusive relationship and build on that strength.
- If your ex-husband's abuse becomes life-threatening, leave your home and go to a shelter for abused women.
- Let the police deal with your ex-spouse in violent or threatening situations.
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