As I’ve mentioned before, I was in an abusive relationship with my ex for several years. It took me a long time to finally admit that I was the victim of domestic abuse.
Once I finally realized and admitted that I was in an abusive relationship, I assumed that ending the relationship would be the most difficult step in freeing myself from my abuser. I assumed that ending the relationship would end the abuse. I naively assumed that ending the relationship would be like flipping a light switch.
Unfortunately, no one warned me about post-separation abuse. It wasn’t a term I had ever heard of and I was in no way prepared for it. Post-separation abuse is abuse that continues after the relationship has ended. It often consists of emotional, verbal or financial abuse, and it can frequently involve children when co-parenting.
After I ended the relationship, my ex continued to be emotionally abusive through text messages and through messages he had friends pass on. For months after my relationship ended, I was still dealing with the abuse.
Dealing with this post-separation abuse was mentally exhausting. It felt like I had finally “done the right thing” and yet that still didn’t end the abuse. I had taken the hard steps to separate myself from my abuser and that wasn’t enough. I was constantly asking myself what else I was going to have to do in order to get away from his abuse. It felt like no matter what I did, the abuse was never going to end.
Living in Fear
I was constantly on edge, never knowing when I was going to get another text message or when another “friend” was going to reach out and harass me. I was under constant stress and my anxiety was through the roof.
I was terrified that my ex might show up at my home in the middle of the night. I feared he might set my house on fire or break in and trash the place. I worried about what he might do if I ran into him in public.
I was desperate to be free of my abuser and end the abuse completely. My abuser used the divorce process as another way to punish me. He refused to comply with the court, which dragged the process on for months longer than necessary. I couldn’t change my name back or successfully break free of him while the process stalled due to his actions and inactions.
I suffered through months of hell while trying to put my life back together. It was a dark time for me, mentally. I felt like I was never going to escape.
After months of suffering, my divorce was finally final. I finally held the piece of paper that would legally free me from my abuser. I could finally, officially and legally, cut all ties with my abuser.
The piece of paper didn’t magically solve everything, but it enabled me to take steps that put distance between my ex and myself. I was finally able to change my name and all my other legal documents. It also enabled me to truly cut off contact with my ex, as I no longer needed to try and work out divorce details.
Cutting off contact was the start of my healing process. I blocked every number associated with my ex, every social media account, everything. I cut off contact with the “friends” who passed messages from my ex and who had clearly chosen his side in the divorce. I changed my email address, got a security system and got a dog. I took every step possible to make myself feel safe and secure while I reclaimed my life.
It took time, a lot of time actually, but eventually, I turned my life around. I moved on and broke free of my abuser. It wasn’t as easy as flipping a light switch and it was much harder than just ending the relationship, but I did manage to free myself.
If you’re struggling with post-separation abuse, your best bet is to cut off all contact with your abuser. For help with reclaiming your life after an abusive relationship, contact me.