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Transition: Leaving an Abusive Relationship
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FACT: Although there is a high correlation between alcohol, or other substance abuse, and domestic violence, it is not the cause.

Separation is not easy. Though you have made a positive choice for you and your children, the process is still painful.

Separation - How Will It Feel? 
Separation is not easy. It will take several months to work through the steps, and a couple of years to become freshly established. Knowing what to do and what to expect does not stop you from having feelings. You will probably feel all your emotions more strongly than ever. You may feel betrayal, grief, anger, joy, freedom, weakness and strength, often at the same time. You may feel that you are going crazy because of all the emotions you have, which are sometimes overwhelming, contradictory, and unexpected. 
This is a normal process. Remember that your emotions are just a part of you, a changing part, and they are not "you, the whole person." 
Let yourself feel your emotions fully. 
for having them. You will pass through each one in time. 

Grief is a large part of the process of letting go of a relationship. 
When you feel grief, let yourself cry. 
You may feel like you will never stop. You are facing a death, the death of your relationship. You will stop crying when the mourning is over. 
You may not understand why you are sad, especially if you were badly abused. There were probably some good things that you will miss. This is the reality. Remember you did have to pay a price for more good things - a very high price. 

Anxiety and Loss of Control
You are probably accustomed to judging your safety by predicting your partner's mood and picking up the signals from him, so you could anticipate and react. When you leave, the absence of your partner may feel frightening. You may feel you have lost control. Your feelings of safety are gone when you lose your signals. The feelings of loss of control are NORMAL in transition. You are moving the center of control from your partner to yourself. It can be frightening as it is freeing and it just takes time.

Many women find that the first anniversary of their leaving is particularly painful. It is important for you to be aware of that and plan for it. You may arrange to spend that time with close friends. You may also get in touch with the shelter in your community (WAVI) to get reinforcement and support. 

You may experience a great euphoria when you leave the relationship. This may last for weeks or months. This is usually felt if you have made a clear decision. This euphoria can help give you energy to get yourself on your feet again. 
Don't be surprised if a month or a year later, you feel grief or anger or depression. This is normal and part of the process of change and separation. You will have to work through all the stages at some time. The timing may vary with each individual.

Your friends may change over time. Your situation may now be different than their situation. Your interests and concerns may become different, and they may feel threatened. They may take sides with your partner. It may hurt you a great deal if your former in-laws reject you. Family blood is often thicker than you want to believe. It may take you a while to TRUST, or to have energy for anyone else. This is NORMAL and SELF-PROTECTIVE. 
You may want to isolate yourself, but friendships are very important. Friends of your same gender are especially important at this time. Reach out! Even though it may seem less painful to isolate yourself, in the long run it is not.

Feelings of Failure
You may feel that admitting "failure" in your relationship confirms your inadequacy. This is NOT TRUE. You have probably done all you could to make it work and it is not your fault that your efforts failed. 
Relationships take a toll on people Remember that your decision to leave was a painful and difficult one. Recognize your success in making that decision. Give yourself credit.

New Relationships
New relationships may trigger memories of our old relationships. It takes hard work, a great deal of commitment and communication to be in a relationship. 
A second relationship has different problems from the first. Be sure you feel strong enough to live independently again. This way, when you have a choice, you will not be as likely to make the same mistakes. You will be better able to stand up for YOUR RIGHTS. 
It is important to remember that life is up and down. You will have good days, when you are feeling strong and capable, and bad days when you are feeling depressed and vulnerable. Know that feeling bad will not last forever and there are things you can do to help yourself through the down time.

You may feel more anger after separation than you have ever felt before. You may suddenly feel all the anger that is stockpiled and denied during your relationship along with the built-up frustration at not getting your needs met, and the powerlessness of your position. 
It is safe to feel angry now. Accept that your anger is normal. Anger can give you power and motivation. Use it to your advantage. The goal of letting yourself feel anger is to express it constructively so that you become free of it. 
Do not use it for revenge. Acting in revenge may destroy your self-respect in the long run. Fantasize about revenge instead and then let it go.

Changed memories can create a feeling of disorientation, disbelief in yourself, and betrayal from your partner. You are not crazy if you see your past, yourself, and your partner differently. You may remember only the good times with your partner or only the bad times. 
It's normal to look at yourself, your partner, and the world in a new way. Your situation is different now and you will have a different perspective.

Your Identity
You may have identified yourself with your relationship. Your role as wife or mother may be the way you see yourself, and how you are known in the community. When you leave the relationship you will experience a real sense of loss of your self-identity. 
The process of moving from a role, a job of wife and mother, and private status of victim to a single, competent person is painful and not always as fast as you might want it to be. It involves getting to know yourself in a new way. Now you can become your own boss and your own person. Being on your own is a wonderful feeling as well as a scary one. It maybe the first time you have had the freedom to experience this responsibility. It sometimes takes many trials to discover who you are and what you want.

Grieving Symptoms
While you are going through the separation, it is normal for you to experience sleep disturbances, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, changes in weight loss or gain. 
Psychological symptoms may include: sadness, hopelessness or feeling of futility, edginess and being easily irritated, crying often, poor concentration, great difficulty making decisions and poor memory. 
Good physical health will help you cope.

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