Breakthrough Counselling

How to recover from an abusive relationship

Leaving any relationship can be difficult, but ending an abusive one takes a great deal of courage. If you’ve left an abusive relationship, give yourself credit for taking the hardest – and most important – step. You’ve freed yourself. And if you’re considering leaving an abusive partner, give yourself credit for recognising the truth of the situation. You have the strength to leave, and there are resources available to help you.

Recovering from an abusive relationship takes time and effort. You might feel like you’ve lost your identity because your ex has convinced you that you’re worthless, though this isn’t true. You might feel frightened and unable to trust other people. But you won’t feel this way forever. With patience and self-care, you will begin to heal and remember who you really are. Your life will get better.

Here are some steps you can take to rebuild your life after an abusive relationship:

Accept what happened

There’s a tendency for survivors of abuse to blame themselves, especially in the early stages of the breakup. So it’s important to recognise that what happened wasn’t your fault. Abuse, whether emotional or physical is never justified. The first step to begin to heal is to acknowledge that what your ex did was wrong.

You might choose to make a list of the abusive things your ex did or said to you. This can be painful to write, but it can also help you understand how strong you’ve been to survive this, and why you feel the way you do now. It’s important to remember that if you’re feeling worthless or ashamed, this isn’t who you really are. It’s a reflection of your ex’s own issues and agenda.

Seek professional help

Counselling is a safe space to talk freely with someone who isn’t emotionally connected to you or your abuser. A counsellor won’t try to impose their opinions on you, but will always be willing to understand things from your point of view. He or she will listen without judgement and offer insights so you can come to terms with what’s happened and rebuild your self-esteem.

Make a clean break

Your ex will likely want to persuade you to go back to them. They might threaten, apologise or make promises that things will be different. So cut out contact with them as much as you can. If you’re having second thoughts about leaving, remind yourself why you left. Try to resist the temptation to look them up on social media, too. Focus on healing yourself instead, so you don’t find yourself slipping back into an abusive situation.

Visit support groups

For many survivors of abuse, support groups are a crucial part of recovery. Support groups give you the chance to talk with people who understand first-hand what you’re going through. Hearing stories from others who’ve been in a similar situation will make you feel less alone. You’ll also get practical insights and tips on ways to move forward.

Reclaim your hobbies and activities

If your partner stopped you doing things you love, discovering these again can be a big step in getting your life back. What activities did you enjoy before the relationship started? Perhaps you liked to learn new things, to read or be creative. Doing these activities might feel strange and scary at first; your ex might have convinced you that your own opinions, likes and dislikes are wrong. But if you persevere you will remember why you enjoyed those activities, and start to enjoy them again.

Be kind to yourself

An abusive partner can chip away at your self-esteem, but with care and attention to your own needs it is possible to get it back.

Try speaking or writing down positive affirmations, even if at first you don’t believe them. You have the power to control what happens to you, and you can give yourself treats as part of your new routine. You might want to make time for a warm bath, your favourite TV show or a nice meal. Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and yoga can help calm you if you’re feeling anxious or afraid. Take these steps and with time you can identify yourself as a survivor, not a victim.

Reconnect with friends and family

Very often an abusive person will isolate their partner to have greater influence over them. You might want to try reaching out to family and friends who aren’t connected with your ex, and who will be a good source of support. Think of people who treat you with respect, and choose to spend time with them.

And if there’s no one that fits the bill, when you feel ready you might like to seek out new friends who have personality traits you want to be around. 

Give yourself time

You’ve been through something traumatic, and you’ve experienced that trauma for a very long time. So take it easy on yourself and try not to impose a time limit on how soon you think you ought to recover. You have the right to heal at your own pace.

You might find yourself missing aspects of the relationship very much. Leaving any relationship – even an abusive one – is a loss, and you don’t need to be ashamed of these feelings.

Put yourself first

At first, you’re not just living in fear of your abuser, you’re in fear of believing in yourself. But you can do it. Think about what you’ve achieved already. You’re still here, despite the pain and trauma you’ve been through. You’ve broken free. It won’t be easy but you can take back control by putting your own needs at the centre of your new routine, and surrounding yourself with positive people.

Do you need someone to talk to?

If you need someone to talk to, I’m here to listen. Whether you’re in the aftermath of an abusive relationship or there’s something else troubling you, you’re very welcome to get in touch with me. I’m a qualified person-centred counsellor and hypnotherapist based in Manchester. I offer face-to-face therapy in the Manchester area, and UK wide online and telephone counselling.

Resources and helplines

The National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 200 0247 (free, open 24 hours) offers advice and support to women and can refer them to emergency accommodation.

The Men’s Advice Line – a helpline for men experiencing domestic violence by a current or ex-partner. They offer support and practical advice. Helpline: 0808 801 0327 (open Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm.)

National Counselling Society (NCS). This is the professional association for counsellors. Their website has a national directory of qualified therapists, searchable by area.

The National Centre for Domestic Violence helps people get protection from an abuser. They offer free legal support, such as helping individuals get injunctions from a local court. Telephone: 0800 970 2070

Galop offers support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence. Helpline: 0300 999 5428 or freephone 0800 999 5428. They’re open Monday to Thursday 10am to 8pm. Tuesday 1pm-5pm for a trans specific service.

Karma Nirvana is a charity which advises survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse. Helpline: 0800 599 9247 (Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm)

What are the benefits of online and telephone counselling?

Do you feel the need to talk to someone in confidence, but you don’t have the time or the means to visit a counsellor? Online or telephone counselling could be the answer.

While more people are now aware of the benefits of counselling, many can’t access face-to-face therapy because they have such busy lives.

But counselling is evolving alongside improvements in technology, and it’s now easier to access trained therapists over the phone or online. More and more people are choosing online or telephone counselling as a flexible and convenient option.

While online and telephone counselling can be just as effective as face-to-face counselling, it’s a different experience, so it’s a good idea to weigh up the benefits of each channel to see what’s right for you.

To help you decide, I’ll explain what online and telephone counselling involves, and I’ll explain how telephone and online counselling can benefit you. I’ll also outline situations where face to face counselling might be a better choice for you.

Read moreWhat are the benefits of online and telephone counselling?

9 tips to help you get a better night’s sleep 

Do you struggle to get to sleep? We’ve all had nights where we can’t switch off, or wake up frequently. But if you’re regularly not able to sleep well it’s called insomnia, and it can affect your daily life. You might find it difficult to concentrate or remember things, and have more negative thoughts. Disturbed sleep can also impact relationships and make everyday tasks challenging.

Insomnia can have lots of possible causes, and worrying about not sleeping can itself make it harder to go to sleep. But there are things you can do to help relax your mind and body so you can drift off more easily, and sleep better through the night:

Read more9 tips to help you get a better night’s sleep 

Going through a tough time? Here’s how to boost your resilience

determined child wearing boxing gloves

Life has a habit of throwing obstacles in our path, often when we’re least expecting them. Loss and misfortune may impact your life, but you can control how you react to these events.  Whatever challenge you’re facing, boosting your emotional resilience can help you weather the storm.

What is emotional resilience?

Resilience isn’t about pushing yourself to get over adversity before you’re ready. And it doesn’t mean you should cope with difficulties without being affected by them.

Actually, being resilient means you’re able to acknowledge your emotions, and respond in a constructive way. With self-awareness and self-care, you can adapt to challenging situations without being overwhelmed.

Read moreGoing through a tough time? Here’s how to boost your resilience

Fight the fear: 7 ways to overcome anxiety

Do you often feel overwhelmed with worry? Do you find yourself feeling panicky, or have trouble sleeping? If this sounds familiar, you may have anxiety. And you’re not alone: anxiety affects one in five people in the UK.

As a therapist I understand how difficult life can be if you have anxiety, and I want you to know you can overcome it. Read on to find out more about anxiety and the steps you can take to recover.

What is anxiety?

We all get anxious sometimes. It’s a natural response that puts our mind and body in ‘fight or flight’ mode and helps us react faster to potential challenges. But if we feel anxious very often or very severely, this impacts our quality of life.

Because anxiety affects the way you think, everyday situations may seem dangerous. You might avoid certain people or places, or stay late at work to check you haven’t made a mistake. Anxiety causes physical changes too, which aren’t dangerous in themselves but can feel very unpleasant and scary.

Read moreFight the fear: 7 ways to overcome anxiety

What is counselling, and can it help me heal?

Are you going through a difficult time? Are considering counselling as a solution for you or someone you know? I understand seeking therapy can feel daunting, and perhaps you’re not sure if it’s the right step. The good news is counselling can help with many difficulties, and as a trained counsellor I’ve seen first-hand how it improves lives.

To help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you, I’ll explain how counselling can benefit you, and what to expect during your first session.

What is counselling?

When you go to counselling, you’re invited to talk through your problems with a trained therapist. It’s sometimes called ‘talking therapy’. The therapist will listen attentively to whatever you need to discuss. He or she will never judge you, but will always seek to understand your point of view.

Read moreWhat is counselling, and can it help me heal?

Are you hiding your depression?

Are the following resonating with you?

    1. constantly feeling tired
    1. feel like you have no energy left to to do daily chores
    1. not wanting to socialise
    1. Using alcohol and substances a lot
  1. Suicidal thoughts

These are all signs of depression, which can be masked or denied. Are you stunned, surprised thinking I have everything, and I shouldn’t being this way.

Depression is a feeling which surpasses culture, religion, social status etc. We are all unique, and have different life experiences which make up us. If we are feeling depressed remember there is always as a cause and a reason. This can be childhood abuse, domestic abuse, bullying etc. It is well known that these issues can cause depression. I feel I also need to point out, that depression can hit you at any point, even after the incidences.

Read moreAre you hiding your depression?

How to cope after losing your baby

Jewel heart on stone background

If you’re here because you or someone you know has lost a baby, I’m so sorry. Any bereavement is painful, but the loss of a child is devastating. Whatever the age of your child, and whatever the circumstances, having to bury a child is out of the natural order of things. It’s the most difficult thing a parent can face.

Losing your baby early in pregnancy can be just as heart-breaking because you form a close bond with your child as soon as you find out about the pregnancy. You imagine your future as a new parent and your child growing up, and with the loss of your baby your dreams and expectations are lost too.

There’s no wrong way to feel

Read moreHow to cope after losing your baby

The importance of self care

Do you remember the days when you would have a day to wash your hair, or have a girly night out with friends to relax? That is caring for yourself, and enjoying life.

If you have suffered a tragedy through some form of loss, those days just become past memories, as you tend to feel that, that was a different you, and now you are not the same. Your point is true, however, you can still find ways to self care without feeling guilty, or feeling as though you don’t deserve to be happy. Are you aware that Happiness and self care are not the same thing. They appear that way but they are not. Are you wondering what is the difference? Self Care is is looking after yourself daily, bathing, household chores, looking after family if you have them. Happiness is a state of emotion, encompassing joy.

Read moreThe importance of self care

The importance of identifying signs of anger

Anger as we know, is part and parcel of our lives and stems from unresolved issues we have over time. When our handling capacity has reached its peak, anger can emerge as we panic, and are unable to see a way forward.

There are tell-tale emotions that we can identify with, and should look out for which are listed below.

Signs to look out for

Emotions stirring within the body – feeling of some emotion stirring in the body and heading upwards. This can feel like a volcano erupting, or steam coming out from your ears. It is important you listen to what they are telling you, as this is the sign that you need to take a step back and see what is happening in your life, and see if it is something you can change.

Read moreThe importance of identifying signs of anger