The suffering experienced from long-term emotional or physical abuse becomes increasingly more agonizing and life-threatening. There is no excuse for physical abuse or ongoing emotional abuse. It is imperative to remove yourself from a situation of abuse quickly, because it becomes increasingly difficult to leave as one’s self-esteem worsens and one becomes more isolated.
I teach healthy relationship skills at a shelter for abused women, where I see many women who have felt emotionally attached to their partners despite the abuse. Others feel so poorly about themselves that they seem to lose the ability to imagine a different future or to feel worthy of respect and consideration. Many others feel trapped by finances.
Although a women’s shelter is not a vacation spot—it has to have rules and conditions to thrive as well as to foster accountability—it is a safe place to go that allows women to rebuild their lives, their self-esteem, and their sense of peace. It is a place where they can learn how to effectively respond to disrespectful behavior long before it reaches levels of abuse.
Rebuilding your soul requires finding safe shelter. Only by being away from the emotional and physical abuse can one experience the freedom from fear to think about one’s own needs and desires, as well as to gain back self-respect and authority over one’s own life.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD