The effects of domestic violence continue long after you leave the abusive situation. Physical wounds may heal fairly quickly but the emotional wounds could last a lifetime. In order to not put yourself right back in the same type of relationship, it is important to break free of a victim mentality.
Victim mentality, as it applies to domestic violence, is the result of ongoing mental, physical, and emotional abuse that has conditioned you to act and think like a victim—a defense mechanism of sorts. These suggestions are meant to help you move in the right direction, away from a victim mentality.
1. Take Action
The first step is to remove yourself from an abusive relationship. Gillespie Shields Law can help with the legal matters you will encounter such as divorce or custody issues.
Once you are in a safe and comfortable environment, identify actionable ways in which you can begin to recover from your victim mindset. You may need to speak with a therapist to assist with moving forward or, at the least, reach out to the people in your support system to ensure that you are not alone.
2. Accept Responsibility
Assume responsibility, not for the domestic violence, but for how you will act and think moving forward. A common characteristic of a domestic abuse victim is previous abuse. It’s time to break the cycle and lead yourself toward a happy and healthy life.
3. Change your Narrative
When you have just left an abusive relationship, your story is that of a victim. But this is a false narrative, the one that you have been conditioned to believe to cope with a difficult, if not impossible, situation.
You do have the right to change your personal story, as difficult as this might seem. Learn how to say no—you have the power and ability to run your own life. Focus on what you can control and move toward those goals.
Do not feel you need to do this all by yourself. Engage with supportive family and friends or consult a professional to assist with discovering the new and updated version of you.
4. Help Others in Need
Sometimes, it is helpful to step away from your own troubles and help someone else in need. Consider volunteering at your local domestic violence center, speaking with others who are currently in the same situation you are in. Offering kindness and assistance to someone else who is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), depression, or anxiety will empower you to show the same compassion to yourself.
5. Treat Yourself with Kindness
Rather than be guilt-ridden and judgmental, be gentle and compassionate with yourself. If you aren’t, who will? Treat yourself as you would others in your position. For instance, if you were speaking with a domestic abuse victim on a help-line, would you say “it’s all your fault?” No, you would be caring and understanding. It is okay to act that same way with yourself.
Victims of domestic violence typically have a poor view of their own self-worth. Each instance of abuse lowers their already shattered self-esteem. The cycle of dependence and promise of affection often keeps the victim from leaving the abuser. But, once you have left the situation, it is vital not to make your next relationship a mirror image.