How Do You Finally Heal After Divorcing an Abuser?

It’s said that leaving is the hardest part, and while it’s true that it’s incredibly difficult to take that first step, the steps after are hard, too- just in different ways. You’ve left, but now you’re left figuring out how to rebuild your life. Where do you go from here? How do you finally heal after divorcing an abuser?

No person’s story is the same. Everyone has their own way of healing and moving forward, but one thing that unites every abuse survivor is that they are warriors. They have endured everything meant to break them and are somehow still standing. Healing after divorcing an abuser is no different- they will survive every storm and end up stronger because of it.

The Second Step

The first step is leaving, but the second can leave you feeling overwhelmed, lost, and alone. When you have spent your entire marriage in survival mode, switching gears to healing mode is a huge step. That second step may be wobbly, but as long as it’s moving forward and not backward, that’s really all that matters. Don’t let the loneliness and uncertainty get in the way of your goal- or worse- send you back into the path of your abuser.

The second step will be more secure if you have the right support. Survivors of abuse have many resources they can turn to, including local shelters and national organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Additional support from a therapist, divorce coach, and trusted friends and family members is also crucial during these initial stages.

Ensuring your safety during this time is important. You might want to consider taking steps to do that like:

  • Changing your phone number
  • Changing your address
  • Slightly altering your name
  • Securing your social media accounts (or deleting them entirely)
  • Going out in groups and avoiding being alone in public places
  • Taking out an Order of Protection, when necessary

Setting Goals

Having both short and long-term goals is important for anyone going through a divorce, but it’s even more important for survivors of abuse who may be more susceptible to getting off-track on their healing process. Ask yourself:

  • Where do I want to live?
  • What type of career do I want?
  • Who do I want in my life going forward?
  • What type of relationship do I see myself in in the future?

You can even make a vision board for your life. Cut out pictures and words from the newspaper, magazines, and other materials you have around the house to create a visual of how you want your life to look. This is YOUR life vision board- not your abusers- so let your imagination run wild! Having something tangible to look at on those hard days is a helpful way to stay focused on your goals.

The Rebuilding Process

There are practical matters to attend to after you divorce an abuser. Your ex may have ruined your credit, or you may not have a job or a permanent residence. Tackling those issues while dealing with the emotional side of things can just increase the overwhelm, so take the help where you can.

Many creditors will work with you if you explain the situation. You may even be able to file a police report if your ex committed fraud by using your Social Security number to obtain credit. If they see you making an effort to secure a job and a way to resolve your credit issues, they’ll be more likely to work with you. If you don’t already have employment, there are many options available to you, including temp agencies, work-from-home jobs, and going back to school for a degree in something you really want to do.

Your local Department of Social Services can also assist you in finding employment, as well as help you secure permanent housing and financial assistance. Now is not the time to be prideful. Take the help where you can get it until you are securely on your feet. That’s what it’s there for, and there is no shame in asking for help. Even the strongest warriors need backup.

Incorporating Fun

Fun?! That word may seem like a far-off dream when you’ve endured so many years of unhappiness but now is your chance to make it a regular part of your vocabulary. Spend time with the people who bring joy to your life, not take away from it. You are in control now, and you get to decide who has access to you.

Find something you love to do. A new hobby, volunteering at a local shelter to give back to those who have helped you, even binge-watching Netflix with a glass of wine! Whatever brings you a little bit of happiness, embrace it. It’s amazing what that little bit of good can do for your weary soul.

The healing process may be long, but it’s YOUR process. You get to decide where it all ends up. Not your abuser. Not anyone else. Take this opportunity to create the life you’ve always wanted, and when you get to where you’re going, turn around and help someone else do the same. Because that’s what warriors do.

More Resources:

Are you are ready to join our online Communitywe would love to have you! We have several experts in there waiting to help. Plus other divorcees you can connect and share stories with. Remember that you are not alone, even though it might feel like it at times. There are always people ready to support you- simply reach out your hand (or finger if you’re scrolling online!)

We get your struggles… We welcome you to visit our Support hub where we have created an informative and nurturing space using various modalities for you to get educated, emotionally supported and find your way. Our complimentary support groups like Coffee Talk and SOS: Support on Saturdays can be found here, along with many other helpful tools and resources.

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Essential Resources

If you’re facing legal/custody battles, a mental health crisis, an urgent medical issue, serious emotional problems, including suicidal thoughts, please seek help from the appropriate professionals near you.

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis line: 1-800-356-5395
Crisis text line: Text “help” to 741741
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) Resources Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview


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