It happened to you, and it wasn’t your choice. But as a survivor of infidelity or domestic violence, you do have a choice about how you shape your future.
Although infidelity and domestic violence don’t always occur simultaneously, it can happen. This is mainly because both acts involve poor levels of self-control and respect for women. Unfortunately, a lot of women blame themselves for their partner’s unacceptable behavior. Don’t be one of them.
Here are some ways that you can use your experience to make the mental shift from victim to a survivor who has complete control over her choices and her life.
Acceptance and Taking Action
The first step toward reclaiming your power is accepting that you can’t change the person who abused and/or cheated on you. What you can do is change your life. Stop heeding the emotional and verbal abuse that destroys your self-esteem and do what it takes to put the situation behind you. For some of us, that means staying with family or friends for a time, or going to a women’s shelter if you feel that danger is imminent. Refusing to tolerate a bad situation any longer is the most significant part of transforming into a survivor.
Connect with Others
You are no longer bound to this person who failed to respect you. This may be a frightening time for you. What if people judge you for what you’ve been through? Or reject you as weak (although you are anything but)? While there is no guarantee that this won’t happen, don’t let fear hold you back. If you had been isolated during the relationship, now is the time to reconnect with friends and family. Even if your last contact with them was not positive, chances are they are willing to set those feelings aside to support you. There are wonderful people out there who will empower and support you.
Rediscover Your Passions
Chances are that you subverted your needs and interests during the abusive relationship. Loss of identity is a common theme among women and mothers in unhappy marriages. Now that it’s over and you’re free, let yourself rekindle former passions or discover new ones. If you loved to paint before, buy some art supplies or sign up for a class. Did you love volunteering with animals before you met your spouse or partner? Look into doing so again.
When you help others with their own challenges, the benefits are twofold: you bring positive energy into someone else’s life and you make peace with your past. Some survivors even dedicate their time and energy to helping other abused and mistreated women escape from catastrophic situations, having been in that situation themselves. Use your personal abilities and strengths to help you decide the best way you can help others.
The journey from victim to survivor is not a straight one, nor is it always easy. Some days you will make amazing progress, only to take several steps back the next day; but as you heal, the difficulties will become easier to overcome. You just have to persist with the strength that you know you are capable of.
At Alexandra Geczi Family Law we empower women to reclaim their lost identities and take back control of their lives. Helping our clients make the shift from victim to survivor is just one of the ways we’re different.