How to Heal From Relationship Trauma Caused by Intimate Relationship Abuse
Trauma comes in various forms and severities and affects people differently. No single event is worse or less traumatic than another. It’s all about how it impacts your ability to heal and move on.
Relationship trauma is often overlooked and misunderstood. Defined as abusive behavior that occurs between two people in an intimate relationship, these traumatic events can have long-lasting effects.
In this article, you’ll learn techniques on how to heal from relationship trauma, plus signs that you may be a victim.
What is Relationship Trauma?
Relationship trauma can be the result of physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse in an intimate relationship. According to American Psychiatric Association, relationship trauma is a form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
After ending an abusive relationship, you may experience intense emotions and flashbacks. This can trigger intrusive thoughts and avoidance behaviors.
Common symptoms of relationship trauma include:
- Fear of intimate relationships
- The inability to trust or let yourself be vulnerable
- Social isolation
- Trouble sleeping, communicating or concentrating
- Low self-esteem
- Unhealthy relationship patterns (choosing similar, unhealthy partners)
- Obsessive negative thoughts
- Constantly apologizing for your feelings and behaviors
It’s important to note that not every bad break-up or unhealthy relationship causes trauma. An experienced therapist can help you navigate your emotions and determine the best path to healing.
Understanding Psychological and Emotional Trauma
Abuse in a relationship isn’t always physical. While sexual and physical abuse can cause relationship trauma, so can psychological and emotional manipulation.
These types of abuse can be harder to spot but equally as damaging. Some common types of emotional abuse include infidelity, verbal abuse, and humiliation.
Your abuser may try to destroy your self-esteem and convince you that you’re the problem. The less confident you are in your ability to make decisions, the longer you’ll stick around.
Controlling behaviors are also a common cause of relationship trauma. One partner telling the other where they can go, what they can do, and who they can talk to are all signs of control and abuse.
Emotional and psychological abuse can sometimes turn physical. It’s common for the abusive partner to threaten physical harm, creating a state of constant fear and dependency.
Over time, victims of relationship trauma and abuse begin to lose their willpower and confidence. They often question their own sanity and strength. Even after ending an abusive relationship, these doubts can persist.
How to Heal from Relationship Trauma
If you’re the victim of an abusive relationship, you may be experiencing relationship trauma. These negative thoughts and feelings can impact your ability to have healthy relationships moving forward.
The good news is that with the right type of therapy and techniques, you can overcome relationship trauma and learn to love and trust again. Relationship trauma therapy teaches you healthy habits and techniques so you can once again experience fulfilling relationships.
Stop and Think Before You React
Instead of immediately reacting negatively to a situation, take a moment to stop and analyze what’s happening. Ask yourself if you’re acting out of fear or if the situation warrants it.
Remember that not every conflict or argument will turn ugly. Try to access each situation individually without automatically assuming the worst.
In time, your heart and mind will learn to heal and you’ll be less likely to jump to conclusions.
Look Forward, Not Back
What’s in the past is in the past. You can’t change. While self-reflection can be helpful, focusing on your past trauma won’t help you heal or move forward.
Try living in the present and enjoying each positive moment in your new relationship. Establishing new, healthier patterns of behavior will prevent you from falling back into a negative, self-destructive cycle.
It’s also important not to project your past trauma onto your new partner. Remember that not every relationship is inherently unhealthy. Not every partner will treat you badly.
Healing relationship trauma means letting go of the past and start your new relationship with a positive outlook.
Be Honest with Your New Partner
The only way to start fresh with a new partner is to be honest with them. You don’t need to rehash your entire past, but you should clue them into some of your concerns and where they stem from.
The more your new partner knows about your past trauma, the more supportive and patient they will be. A look into your past can also explain the way you react to certain situations or why you have trust issues. Honesty allows you to work through your relationship trauma together, instead of silently.
Ask for Help
It can be difficult to apply these practices to your everyday life. Especially if your relationship trauma is particularly debilitating. An experienced therapist can help you work through these issues and manage your emotions.
By identifying and processing the root of your trauma, you can start to make sense of these experiences and cultivate self-compassion. In time, you’ll discover that you deserve happiness. Therapy provides the tools necessary to let go of the past and create the life you desire.
The Abuse Was Not Your Fault
Victims of relationship abuse and trauma often blame themselves. Due to a lack of self-esteem and a crushed spirit, you may think the situation is your fault. Harboring these negative, self-defeating feelings makes it more difficult to heal and move on.
It’s important to remember that the abuse was not your fault. No one deserves to be abused or mistreated in a relationship. You’re worthy of love and deserve to be happy.
Life After Relationship Trauma
The end of an unhealthy relationship doesn’t mean the end of your ability to love or be happy. Learning how to heal from relationship trauma is the first step in living the life you deserve.
Traumatic events affect people in different ways and may manifest in ways you don’t see or understand. Relationship trauma therapy can help you work through these troubling events and emotions and learn self-compassion.
There’s no time like the present to regain your self-confidence. Click here to start the healing process today.