Getting a divorce is a major event in anyone’s life, but it can be especially traumatic if you’re leaving an abusive spouse. If you’ve been a victim of abuse, most likely even getting to the point where you’re willing to try to leave has been a battle, and often the manipulation gets worse as the abuser tries to maintain their hold on the relationship. Here are a few tips for how to cope with divorce, especially when leaving an abusive spouse.
Understand the Process
Divorce can seem like a big scary event, especially if you’re extricating yourself from an abusive relationship at the same time. If it’s difficult to address all this at once, it may help to focus on the legal steps of a divorce. Once you know the legal steps of filing for a divorce, you can shut out much of the emotional manipulation by letting your attorney manage all the legal matters.
Seek Professional Mental Health Support
Struggling with how to cope with divorce is common enough that many turn to therapy for additional support, but the stakes become even higher when leaving an abusive marriage. Mental health support is important not only to help you get through the difficulty of a divorce, but also to repair possibly years of damage from being in an abusive relationship.
Get Mental Health Support for Your Kids, Too
If you were in an abusive marriage and have kids, it’s a good bet that your kids will benefit from therapy, too. Even if your children were not abused that you know of, if they saw one of their parents abusing the other, it affects them deeply. A therapist will also be valuable support for them as they navigate their new family structure, especially if they have ongoing contact with the abusive parent.
Surround Yourself With a Support Network
Professional mental health support is invaluable when you’re recovering from something like abuse, but a therapist cannot provide the day-to-day support that a good support network does. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends during this time, both so that you have someone to talk to and also so that you have someone to turn to in an emergency.
Prioritize What’s Best for You and Your Children
Grant yourself some compassion and grace as you travel this path. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re doing what’s best for you, and if you have children, what’s best for them too. Keep that in mind as you encounter hurdles, and try to always prioritize what’s best for you and your children.
Get Legal Help
Last but not least, make sure you have a strong legal guide throughout the process. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the divorce proceedings and provide some protection from your abusive ex-partner. In addition, if there is a paper trail for the abuse, they may be able to present a strong case for limiting your ex’s contact with you and the children.
Getting plenty of support in all areas is incredibly important when leaving an abusive relationship. You will need not only legal support, but also plenty of mental and emotional support, from both professionals as well as your support network. At the Simon Law Group, we are sensitive to the unique needs of those who are leaving abusive situations. Contact us today for a consultation, and we can make a plan together for getting you through this.