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Steps to Healing from Domestic Abuse — 118 Comments

  1. Skylar

    The artwork that you have chosen for this piece of writing is truly beautiful and speaks for itself.

    Funny enogh something happened to me yesterday that sort of ties in with this piece of writing.

    My mum also is a victim of domestic violence from my dad as he beat her to within an inch of her life 45 years ago. She fled with all of us and we went to live with my grandparents.

    We both got talking about it–even though many years ago she still remembers it vividly. When these memories surface for her I let her vent in her own way and we have found a closeness that we never had due to our common experiences.

    We were standing at a bus stop and she started to talk about the shame that she felt when it happened. We were both engrossed in the conversation and I was agreeing with her insights.

    I happened to look up and found four young mums listening intently to our conversation about domestic violence. My mum seemed to become aware of them also and her automatic reaction was to feel shame that they heard.

    On seeing this happening to her I explained to her that it is the secrecy surrouning DV that causes the shame and that it should be out in the open. That you never know–one of those young women could be going through it and our conversation helped her. That two older women could talk about it and clearly show that there is recovery.

    Anyway–we had an audience and we got smiles from them when we boarded the bus.

    A good moment.

    I am waking up to a glorious morning here. I think the weather is going to be fine.


    • STJ,
      that warms my heart. That you and your mom, just by talking, can help other women who may need to learn, or else know someone who needs to learn, it’s wonderful.

      I have to confess that the worst thing about my own experience was the denial. I just couldn’t see evil because he never hit me. Nobody ever explained the damage that psychological abuse could cause or even how to recognize it.

      The subversive nature of abuse is such that it’s hard to see, it really must be felt to know it.

      I’m glad you liked the artwork. They are pretty nice, I think.
      The first, picture, “Alone” is a memorial from a Swedish orphanage where many children were abused after being taken from their abusive homes, from the 1930’s through the 80’s. It’s sad.

  2. Skylar

    Nobody told me about the nature of emotional or verbal abuse also. Mine never hit me either and in fact prided himself in telling me this as if I should be lucky.

    I am so glad that the internet is available and books too to expose the nature of this abuse.

    For years I felt not good enough or that there was something wrong with me. My FOO were all alcaholics therefore I accepted it as I felt that I may be messed up.

    Pre the six years that I took him back and he was the model husband it took a particularily nasty piece of verbal abuse at an innappropriate time (day after my beloved granny’s funeral) that shot me awake and I realised something was wrong with him.

    This was after years of the subtle put downs and silent treatment and gaslighting and blaming myself

    To add to the confusion he was always so nice to me in front of others.

    It’s not called the ‘hidden hurt’ for nothing.


    Have a great day or sweet dreams wherever you are


  3. LOVE this article! Great insights to think about.

    I also wasn’t physically assaulted in the sense of being struck by punching or slapping, but he was rough with me. I told the ex spath I would much rather have been beaten up physically than beaten up mentally and emotionally. Those scars heal faster. I think most of them are too clever to leave evidence of abuse, so they choose the slow agonizing type of abuse that steals our entire identity.

    It is so important to share what we know about psychopaths with as many people as will listen, particularly the young. Great point, Sky. My parents never talked to me about these disordered people, just the usual conversation- don’t talk to strangers, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Going into detail about these evil beings will surely spare lives. I am thankful for having my eyes opened by people like you all here. I hope these sites grow to touch everyone affected by spaths. There is no better healing once you accept that the abuse occurred.

    Good day to everyone and many blessings! 🙂


    • Woundlicker,
      In the past, fairy tales were used to impart lessons about human nature. Some were really scary and violent. But somewhere along the way, we decided not to “believe” in fairy tales — well except for the part where everyone lives happily ever after! doh! In fact, it’s all backwards, the evil stepmother does exist and we don’t live in castles in the sky.

      I understand why it’s useful to use stories to explain spaths, since you have to experience it to believe it. But then we need to make sure that we explain that the stories are TRUE!

      • Yes, sugar coating the brutal truth about psychopaths will not do anyone any favors. Being taught a scary lesson in order to prevent it from happening is a hell of a lot better than living the scary lesson. Teach strength in character, unwavering principles, but also how to spot red flags (another word for evil) to grow a whole and complete person. It’s better than learning the hard way.

  4. Horray for gratitude!

    I am finding myself – occasionally – not in pain but experiencing bursts of euphoria. Not only did I get away from the psychopath, but, it’s true what they say….”what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”. Absolutely.

    I now am smarter about recognizing red flags – the most prominent one being when somebody LIES to me. There is something seriously wrong when people make blatant, unnecessary LIES. It didn’t register for me, and when it did register, I swept it under the rug. I was embarassed for the psychopath who lied. Embarassed FOR HIM! That is so screwed up. Now I know I need to ***RUN**.

    I have told others about my experience including friends and family. I want everybody to learn from this.


  5. Athena~ You touched on something that just sparked a memory. The way I reacted to ex spath’s lies was also feeling embarrassed for him. I felt sorry for him at the same time. It was horrible to not have any appropriate feelings or thoughts anymore- the pig bastard robbed me of that. No wonder I thought I was insane.

    And I second that saying; what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I feel stronger than ever and more knowledgeable (if not more intellectual).

    It’s so wonderful and so healing to see commonality in such a GOOD way with others instead of being forced to feel shame, guilt, denial, pity, and embarrassment.

    I still have my ups and downs, but the downs aren’t like hitting the bottom of the grand canyon anymore and the ups are euphoric for me as well.

    Thank you for bringing new revelations into light for me!

  6. Hi Athena

    You sound great 🙂

    I too am getting small periods when I feel totally at peace.

    Euphoria sounds wonderful and it gives me hope to hear it for if you can do it then I can too.

    I remember at the beginning I used to hear people say these things but I felt that I would never achieve it. I was too damaged.

    But they and you are right. We can and do heal.

    Good for you and yes RUN.


  7. Athena, that euphoria feeling comes from seeing past the illusion he created. As long as he has you believing in the world he constructed, he gets to control everything: how you feel, what you think, and especially, who wins and who loses.

    That was his intent, he wants you to feel like a loser, because that’s how he feels.

    This mimetic rivalry thing is really starting to percolate in my brain. I’m seeing exactly what Girard was talking about when he talked about mimetic rivalry. Even when nobody is competing they try desperately to draw you into a game. If there is no competition, they aren’t having fun. But there’s a loophole: they get to make the rules and they get to break them. In fact, they create the game as they go along so that they’re ALWAYS WINNING!!

    It’s just another reason why No Contact is so important. They never stop playing games, which is why they never stop lying. They have to lie to keep the game advantage. Every single response to them is participation in their game.

    The more clearly I see their mindset, the more bizarre it appears.

    Girard’s theory makes it clear that the rivalry is mimetic. It’s triggered by what they see that you have and they don’t. Honestly, I’m starting to understand that there isn’t anything they can do about it, anymore than an infant can stop grasping at shiny things placed in front of it.

  8. Skylar,

    Another truly insightful and concise article.

    I find it interesting that after so many years (about 5) I continue to think about the spath that gave me the reality slap. I am OK with it. And find, as you describe, that reframing continues to take place.

    Initially I tried to keep myself from thinking about him. I worried that my rehashing was crazy and obsessive, and an indication that he was ‘winning’ and I was, conversely, losing. Plus, in the beginning it was SO painful. But over time I found myself in a therapeutic place with it and many of the puzzling and WTF? moments WERE transformed into Aha’s!

    I like that you included this as part of the healing path. It can often be overlooked, or seen as self-inflicted pain, that is simply ‘not getting over it’, and obsessing over the loss. And don’t get me wrong, it FEELS that way, initially. But with more knowledge about these pathologies, it takes on a different function.

    You’re smart! You make me smarter. I love that.


  9. Slim,
    We’re ALL getting smarter. The insights keep coming along with the Aha! moments.

    Just now I had another one while opening cans of tuna for a tuna salad.
    One day, spath started freaking out and going through the cupboards insisting that all the cans of food were bad and we were going to throw them out. Some were expired, as that tends to happen, but not all. Not even half. We had a big fight, he threw them out and I fished them back when he wasn’t looking. Why would he do that?

    Now I think it’s because he couldn’t poison the cans of food, so he didn’t have control over it. When he left for his summer job, he wanted to make sure I was eating only what was in the fridge because he had poisoned it.

    In my wildest dreams I’d never imagine he was poisoning me. But that shouldn’t have mattered. His behavior was ridiculous and over the top and I should never have put up with it.

    Yes, I still have a lot to learn from those 25 years. I hope it doesn’t take 25 years to rehash it all.

    • OMG! You are SO right. He was a devious bastard. Gawd. Remembering that it is all about power and control is really helpful with the re-framing.

      It won’t take 25 years, cause you’ve already got his #.

  10. Nah, it won’t take another 25 years of rehashing it all, Sky. A lot of their behavior is repeated over and over so many times that the specific instances of “lie #1” and “lie #1001” become unimportant.

    Oh, sure at first you want to remember every single thing the ex spath did and said and tie it to a lie, to abuse, to controlling us, but as we heal these flashbacks become a little less significant.

    Psychopath’s not only lack emotion, they lack creativity. Ex spath turd did the same rotine everyday:

    NOON: Wake up in parents or sisters house.
    1:00: Still trying to get over drug or alcohol binge.
    1:15: Wipe saliva off laptop or iphone from looking at child porn all night.
    1:30: Liquid lunch.
    2:00: Make 23 calls to various supply- mom, sis, 3 or 6 girlfriends (none of them me), 2 boyfriends, several drug contacts, Gold’s Gym to try to get a job there even though he’s tried for over a year.
    4:00: Go to gym which mom & dad pay for. Pump iron for an hour showing off my massive ‘guns’.
    5:00: Continue to ignore repeated texts, emails, and phone calls from me. All the while phoning and texting others.
    5:30: Shower. Dress newest sores be it celulitis, meth sores, genital scabs, or apply Preperation H to hemherroids.
    6:00: Email- not text or call- me finally to announce he’s been sick with acid reflux or job hunting. Threaten suicide if I ask questions. Make plans to see me next week only to stand me up again.
    6:15: Drugs, alcohol, titty bars or redneck bars, screwing women (or men) in his car in back parking lot.
    10:30: Back to his bunk bed (no, I’m not kidding) at spath mom & dad’s.
    11:00: Internet time! Adult hook-up sites, facebook stalking, child porn.
    11:15: Plays with himself in new and disgusting ways. Emails me the pics (barf!).
    11:45: Sleep dreamless and snore like a bear.
    NOON: Wake up and repeat.

    Sounds like a real catch, huh? Yeah, I’m not missing this p.o.s. at all. What’s left is not pain or sadness so much as a feeling of repulsion. I liken it to waking up from a dream where I did something so horrible and unexplainable, so out of character for me that I analyze this dream and think about it incessantly. I try to figure out “why did I dream this bizarre shit?”.

    That is what it has come to for me personally. The exposure to a sociopath was so beyond my comprehension of logic that it is now nothing more than a nightmare. It was not reality. It was like The Terminator, part one of course, where this robot was hard-wired to destroy me by any means possible. There was no humanity in him.

    I cannot give weight to a soulless humanoid any longer. This creature deserves nothing from me but my mockery. Sorry, I drank too much wine again.

    • Woundlicker

      I think what your are at or are getting to is ‘What the hell did I see in him’.

      Keep going Woundhealer–I mean Woundlicker.


      What you said made sense to me. I am four and a half years out after 22 years with him and I still rehash daily. When a memory comes I used to go over it and over it trying to reframe it to my satisfaction–but I realise I am getting nowhere with it. The anxiety builds when I am doing this along with the pain.

      I have decided to try a new way. When the memory comes I just allow it and try and calm myself when doing so. It is working some of the times and not at others but I have hope that I will eventually conquer the anxiety completely by doing this.


      I am so glad that he never succeeded in poisoning you.You are an angel of light in the darkness.


    • Woundlicker,
      yes! that’s a very important step — feeling repelled by the predator. It’s so important!
      It’s normal to feel repulsed by them, they are anti-human. The problem was when we over rode that normal feeling by rationalizing the evil. We took responsibility and blamed ourselves for not being “tolerant” enough. Yep, they work that angle.

      Our gut reactions know a contagion when we see it and we naturally will back away from the foulness we perceive. Why we train ourselves to accept what is so obviously a contagious disease, is beyond me.

      • Hmmm…good point. Maybe something in our human makeup drives us to experience doses of poison so that we eventually become immune to it.

        Sky, your ex tried poisoning you but you became stronger and healthier. I have read about people who inject themselves with small doses of snake or spider venom so that over time they will become resistant to it. I’m reminded of the scene in “The Princess Bride” where the dread pirate Roberts escapes the poison drinking game because he had been ingesting small doses of it.

        I know that’s quite a stretch but the analogy makes sense. We seek to digest small amounts of what repulses us in order to become immune, well, at least subconsciously. I do remember thinking I was in a dream state or out of my body during a lot of my interactions with ex spath. I was becoming numb to the pain.

        • Woundlicker,
          It’s a good analogy. I think it might apply to evil, that small doses can give you a bit of immunity but only if you react to those small doses with an defensive reaction. Inoculations are meant to mobilize the immune system. The evil was too great and overpowered it.

          As far as the poisons, they did make me sick and I was in so much pain from it 24/7 for years. As I tried hundreds of natural cures, I finally hit on a diet that cured my allergies. So it was a side benefit.

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