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Recovery From Abusive Relationships: How Long Does It Take?

Recovery From Abusive Relationships

Recovery from abusive relationships: How long does it take? When will this pain end? I get asked this a lot by followers of my Blog.

One woman wrote this recently – about recovering from her abusive ex:

I need some words/advice/links. I am one year with no contact, after 20 years of severe covert abuse. I don’t miss him. However, I still feel lost or unsure of where I am going or what I want for my future.

I had a ‘fake future’ promise. Of course this is gone. But, I’m wondering when did you start to feel really good about your life again? Happy and Carefree? Or, maybe even, when did you feel ready to date again?

I love so much that you all engage with me and ask for my advice. I love it even more that Unbeatable has grown into the community, in which you all help each other.

Another one of my followers responded to her in this way:

Good for you … getting through that first year! 💜 It’s the toughest. Give yourself lots of credit and love. Twenty years of abuse takes some time for healing.

I now have 20+ years of working on my stuff … but only in the past 8 years have I genuinely accepted that many of the problems were not ‘them’ but rather me! Once I got that straight, I was able to focus on my own contributions to all of my relationships’ dysfunctions. That’s when my growth was exponential. I stopped looking at their stuff, and only worked on mine. I am feeling that I have finally conquered things that were holding me back from living the life I desired. I live in gratitude 💜

My greatest time of healing/growth was when I spent 3 years completely alone … dealing with a broken heart, cancer, and financial collapse. I had to finally sit still and face myself. The loneliest, most sad time of my life, and yet that’s where I was able to grow and heal. I cried and angered out years and years of abuse and hurts. The wounds were finally able to heal 💜. And yes it took those awful lonely years to do so.

Therapy is also a MUST! It is the single most important contributor to getting me where I am today. I tried therapists, stopped and started until I finally found gold. My therapist has amazingly walked me through some dark valleys in “weekly” sessions for the past “10 years” … Yes, that’s a lot of therapy!

I am now happily single (but hoping 😉), much healed and in love with my family and myself. (Bonus … when we heal, so do our family relationships). It took/takes a lot of work, resolve and discipline, yet the rewards are worth it all.

Grab for everything you can to get help and find wisdom on your journey. Books, blogs, support groups, spirituality, therapy, self care … everything helps. As you immerse yourself, you will look forward to each revelation as it appears. You will embrace the difficult stuff, knowing it brings release and freedom. I wish you the best. Your efforts will see their rewards. 🌻

I couldn’t have put this better myself. It is great advice. (Thank you both for allowing me to share this).

Read Complex-PTSD: Recovery In Psychotherapy For Survivors Of Narcissistic Abuse

Recovery from abusive relationships

Recovery from abusive relationships takes time. Healing is a journey. Years of trauma are not something you get over overnight.

Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.

Taking that first step out of denial was the hardest one to take.

When you’ve experienced manipulation like gaslighting. Subjected you to psychological abuse and coercive control.

When they’ve isolated you from family and friends. There is a lot to recover from.

Accepting you are even in an abusive relationship can be hard. Admitting to yourself you need help is harder.

So, if you have done this and taken those first steps try not to be too hard on yourself.

You should feel proud of the strength and courage you have found within you to leave.

Don’t underestimate the toll years and years of emotional and / or physical abuse takes. How much time and work you need to do to heal.

When you first leave, it’s as if a veil has come off. You now see the reality you have denied for so long.

This was the most painful time for me.

Read Recovery From Narcissistic Abuse, Is Slow & Painful ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

Fantasy future

I had to grieve the loss of that fantasy future I had. Accept who he was now, not cling onto the hope of that fantasy man I had in my head.

I, like the lady above, cried and cried.

I felt anger, loneliness, shame like she did.

Like her, I had to be still with myself to heal. I had to process the painful emotions I had numbed for so long.

It was like being in the darkest of tunnels for a long time.

What I didn’t realize was, by doing this, I was walking towards the light.

Facing yourself

It is only when we are still and have the courage to face ourselves that we can heal. 

I agree you can’t do this alone. Therapy, a support group, self-help books, online video courses. Whatever works for you, lean on it for support.

Facing yourself will mean a tough journey ahead. But it will be worth it.

We need to understand the root cause of why we ended up in this abusive relationship. Why we may have even repeated this pattern in one relationship after the other.

When she refers to healing family relationships this is because it goes back to our childhood. Childhood insecurities can lead to adult trauma.

We need to understand what these are, where they come from and the impact it has on our lives.

To heal, you also need to learn to love yourself first. Repair those childhood wounds.

All this takes time.

Read SuperPowers That Survivors of Emotional Abuse Uniquely Possess

Healing is a journey

Healing is a journey. It never stops.

I am still peeling onion layers off myself, after decades. I am learning new things about myself all the time.

When the student is ready, the teacher comes.

You will learn only as much as you are able to cope with at the time. Then the next time you’re ready, you’ll learn a little more.

Drip, drip, drip. A little over a long period of time. It may not feel like you’re making progress, but it ultimately adds up to so much.

One day you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you have come.

Try not to get overwhelmed by the future and how long this healing might take.

You can’t skip this step if you want to change your relationships and life.

Healing is a journey. It never stops. When the student is ready, the teacher comes. You will learn only as much as you are able to cope with at the time. Then the next time you’re ready, you’ll learn a little more. 

Learning to love yourself

love yourself

Take one day at a time and keep focusing on you and your recovery from abusive relationships. You will get there, I promise.

As for finding love again. You will. When you are not looking for it.

Heal YOU first.

Love yourself as much as you want others to love you. 

Then you’ll find happiness within. You’ll be able to be ‘happily single’ and not need a partner to feel whole or secure.

Then when you feel ready to start dating again, you’ll be dating from a position of strength.

You’ll have healthy boundaries. You’ll heed any warning bells.

Don’t be hard on yourself. Try not to blame yourself for any narcissistic abuse.

Read Unraveling PTSD after Narcissistic Abuse

And keep reminding yourself:

When it comes to recovery from abusive relationships, time is your best friend.

You may find this video helpful:

Are you feeling like you’re still in a dark tunnel?  Are you finding your first taste of freedom?  Let me know in the comments below. 

Originally appeared on
Written by Vivian Mc Grath
Printed with permission from the author.
Recovery From Abusive Relationships. How Long Does It Take
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Vivian McGrath

Vivian McGrath is a TV Exec Producer making documentaries for US/UK and Australian television networks. She’s a survivor of domestic violence, motivational speaker and empowerment coach. It’s her mission to help women recover from abusive relationships, fall back in love with themselves and never settle for anything less than they deserve again! Watch her free Masterclass here: Author posts

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