Love that hurts so deep

Love that hurts so deep

As twisted as it might seem, it is true that women who undergo physical and mental abuse get all the more dependent on their abusive “lovers”. It takes immense mental strength to gather what little is left of their self-esteem and run for their lives, writes Alvina Clara.

Domestic violence and abuse is more than the hitting, the kicking, or belligerent physical and mental assaults. It is the betrayal of the feminine soul deep within. An abused woman lives in trepidation, unable to foresee when the next assault will come. Oddly enough, it can disassociate her from friends and family, and make her increasingly dependent on her abuser. In these circumstances, it can be very hard to make sense of what the reality is.

Over time, her self-esteem may disappear altogether. She may start to believe her abuser’s insults. She may blame herself for the abuse. She may even deny that she is being abused at all! She may ignore it, hoping that her partner - the man she loves (as twisted as it might sound) - will change. Such traumatised women often experience conflicting emotions such as fear, anger, shame, resentment, sadness and powerlessness.

Some develop post-traumatic stress which includes a range of symptoms: agitation and anxiety, depression, panic attacks, trouble sleeping or relaxing, numbness, sense of isolation, nightmares. If not rectified at early stages, some women seep deep into depression with suicidal thoughts hovering around.

Abused women steadily become weak and submissive. It takes massive mental strength to escape an abusive partner. Here are few ways to fight back:

Be on guard

Ensure your personal safety and limit interactions with the abuser. Stay distant from the attacker and avoid tiffs. Know where to go if your abuser attacks or an argument starts. Avoid small, enclosed spaces without exits (such as closets or bathrooms) or rooms with weapons (such as the kitchen). If possible, head for a room with a phone and an outside door or window. If the abuser is too brutal, inflicting grave physical injuries that could prove fatal, it is prudent to relocate to a secure place immediately and never come back.

Seek external help

There is no point in bearing the wounds inflicted by the abuser. It’s time to battle back. Call friends, neighbours and relatives to intervene. If the torture is irrepressible, don’t hesitate to approach a women’s cell or call the police. Remember, your abuser is deliberately trying to dominate and put you down. Don’t fall prey to his malicious motives. Jolt back with force and courage. Never surrender.

Resort to counselling

Scars of domestic violence and abuse run deep. You may be struggling with disconcerting emotions, startling memories, or a sense of constant danger. The trauma of what you’ve been through can stay with you long after you’ve escaped the abusive situation. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. When ghastly things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But treatment and support from family and friends can speed your recovery from emotional and psychological trauma. Counseling, therapy, and support groups for domestic abuse survivors can help you process what you’ve been through and learn how to build new and healthy relationships.

Be kind to yourself

You are the not the cause of your partner’s abusive behaviour. You deserve to be treated with respect and to live a safe and dignified life. Develop a positive way of looking at yourself and talk to yourself repeatedly with affirmations to increase your self-esteem. Use assertions to counter the off-putting comments and allegations levied by the abuser. Allow yourself time for doing things you enjoy. Pursue a career. Search for your dream job. Keep yourself totally occupied. Just focus on reconstructing your shattered life all over again for a fresh beginning.

Give time for new love

After getting out of an abusive situation, you may be eager to jump into a new relationship and finally get the intimacy and support you’ve been missing. But it’s wise to go slow. Be cautious about your moves and choices. Take the time to get to know yourself and to understand how you got into your previous abusive relationship. Without taking the time to heal and learn from the experience, you’re at risk of falling back into abuse. Seek someone who is humble and values your space. Avoid control freaks and egotists.

Once you have fought back and moved on, don’t look back. Treat your past as a horrendous nightmare. Pray and hope that the jigsaw puzzle of your life will collate again with new horizons. Be confident that you are one among the other women who have gone through it and have been fortunate enough to get out of it for a fresh start...

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