True Love After Trauma – Safety Tips for DV Survivors Seeking Healthy Relationships
By Ashia Gallo
Wholeness Collective Coordinator at Mosaic Georgia
Domestic violence (DV) is a soul-wrenching issue that affects millions of people worldwide, leaving lasting scars on both an individual’s physical and emotional wellbeing. While escaping an abusive relationship is a necessary and courageous step towards safety (click here for local resources from the Gwinnett County Family Violence Task Force), survivors often encounter significant challenges when trying to form new, healthy relationships later on.
Recovery is a complex journey that survivors of DV face in their pursuit of the loving and secure connections they deserve. Finding love after experiencing domestic violence can be challenging, but there are several important steps and solutions to consider before taking that next step:
Prioritize your own healing and wellbeing first. Seek trauma therapy or counseling to address any emotional scars and trauma from the abusive relationship. Some of these scars may be well hidden, even to yourself. Healing takes time, and it’s essential to be in a healthy emotional state before pursuing a new relationship.
Building a strong support system with friends and family who can provide emotional support and understanding during your healing process is essential. This can understandably be a difficult step. One of the primary challenges for survivors of DV is the profound erosion of trust – trust of self and others. It’s because of this that having a solid support network is crucial for your recovery. Identify your people and confide in them.
Therapy or Support Groups
Consider joining support groups or attending therapy sessions specifically designed for survivors of DV. These environments can help you connect with others who have had similar experiences and provide valuable guidance. Mosaic Georgia offers Finding Hope Support Groups for women 18+ who are survivors of sexual abuse specifically. If this fits into your DV experience, you’re always welcome to join us.
Learn about healthy relationships, boundaries, and red flags for potential abuse. Knowledge is power, and that sense of empowerment can help you make better relationship choices in the future.
Take Your Time
There is no rush to enter a new relationship. Sometimes the potential comfort of a new emotional connection can feel like an easy fix – but moving on too quickly after a traumatic DV experience will likely not turn out the best for you long term. You don’t want to risk accumulating more trauma during your healing journey. Take as much time as you need to mend and build your confidence before seeking love again.
Clearly define your personal boundaries in a new relationship and communicate them openly with your partner. No hanging out in intimate spaces for six months? No kissing or physical affection until you initiate? Your dating rules are up to you, and anyone who truly cares for you will happily follow them to ensure your comfort. Boundaries help establish a healthy and respectful dynamic.
Trust Your Instincts
Listen to your gut feelings. If something doesn’t feel right in a new relationship, don’t ignore it. Rely on your instincts and take action if necessary. You’ve walked away once, and you can always do it again.
Online Dating Safety
If you choose to explore online dating, be cautious. Share personal information sparingly, meet in public places initially, and inform a trusted friend or family member about your plans to meet up. Also, pace getting to know the real identity and intentions of this stranger, and not just what they are presenting to you.
Sometimes moving on can incite controlling ghosts of your past. If necessary, consult with legal professionals to explore options for restraining orders or legal protections against your abuser.
Finding love after domestic violence is possible, but it should be secondary to your journey of self-care, healing, and personal growth. Prioritizing your well-being and safety is paramount throughout this process.
It’s also very hopeful to know that you will smile again, date again, and love again. Our most beautiful connections sometimes exist on the other side of darkness. Wishing you so much luck in the quest for yours!