Mileposts & Potholes 

If we become single again after an abusive relationship, it is not uncommon to experience certain feelings and growth stages.  Watch for these mileposts and potholes along the way; you may have encountered some already:


 Minimizing:  We may start to think that the abuse really wasn't so bad and or to desire to have the good aspects of the relationship, forgetting why we left. To provide a "reality check" on their feelings, some women have found it helpful to journal about what they experienced in the relationship, or to read about events of the relationship in their old diaries.  We may need to ask people who know what we have been through to provide realistic views of our relationship. 

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress: Think you're losing your mind?  It might be post-traumatic stress.  Traumatic or chronic abuse can cause reactions similar to those experienced by combat veterans and survivors of disasters.  These can include:  trouble sleeping; difficulty concentrating or remembering; numbness or detachment from those around us; a feeling of unreality; flashbacks; intrusive thoughts or memories; irritability or anxiousness; feeling on-guard or jumpy; trying to avoid things that remind us of the trauma; feeling "crazy" or "out of control"; feeling drained or tired.  Most mental health professionals are trained to diagnose and treat post-traumatic stress.

Desiring to find another relationship as soon as possible:  It can seem like the answer to our problems or a balm to our souls.  Can abusers sense our vulnerability?  Sometimes it seems like it.

Feeling mistrustful: For a time, everyone may look to us like an abuser.

Anger: You may have had every reason to be outraged by the abuse while in the relationship, but don't be surprised if the anger comes only when you are out of danger.

Grieving our losses:  We may go through a period of grieving the loss of a relationship, our dreams, or other things we held dear. 

Loneliness:   It is not uncommon to feel loneliness, or a fear of loneliness, after leaving an abusive relationship.  The isolation often imposed by abusers can leave us feeling alone and disconnected.  An abuser may have tried to convince us that no one will want us or that we are unacceptable.  We may fear being alone the rest of our life.  This is a good time to connect to the family of God.  A support group can be a big help.

Depression:  We may cry easily or feel sad all the time.  We may have trouble sleeping, or feel like sleeping all the time.  It may be hard to enjoy the things we used to, or it may be difficult to make decisions. Talking with someone about our feelings and issues can help, and we may need to do so repeatedly.  Some find that medication can help them weather this difficult time.


Increasing confidence: Things we thought we couldn't do, we find we can.  Our confidence increases as we tackle new challenges.

Self-discovery:  Where once we may have had to focus on the demands of our abuser, we now find our own preferences, talents, and uniqueness. 

Rediscovery:  No, you didn't really lose those parts of yourself.  They were only sleeping. You may be surprised as they pop up when you least expect it.

New possibilities:  Where once we thought there could be no life after a relationship, we now start to get glimpses of new possibilities, and of the immensity of our God.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you experience a “pothole”?   Was there something you found that helped you deal with it?

  2.   Have you noticed any "mileposts"?

Copyright 2005   Judy Kennedy