This guide can’t answer every question, but it will give you a starting point. It wasn’t developed with a view to spoon feeding victims, but to encourage their own internal resources, strengths, and capabilities to be brought to the fore as you navigate a way out of the purgatory you are either in right now, or may face later in your journey.
It’s impossible to provide answers for every conceivable issue that might arise, but we’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible, keeping in mind that every situation is unique, even if it feels like everyone else has it much worse.
Your situation will unfold as you make choices, or have decisions made around you.
Only by being informed from the outset will you keep some of the power that has been drained from you to date. You will struggle. You will feel overwhelmed. You will feel like giving up. We all faced these challenges and battles too, some better than others, many didn’t have the help or advice you will find so willingly gathered here just for you.
You will want to curl up into a ball and retreat from all of it. It will feel all too much. You will be traumatised by what you are embarking on. We’ve been there too. We know your pain. We are hoping our lived experiences will help you to suffer a little less than we did, and that your voice will add further insight to those who will come after you as well.
We can’t afford to be giving you false hope, or false anything. Soft, gentle, nurturing support will need to come from the counsellors and support advocates you connect with along the way. We are here to help you survive, and hopefully thrive, when you find yourself on the other side of this nightmare and look back and see the footprints you left behind.
Only by being informed will you know when something isn’t right. Being informed means not letting yourself sink into hopelessness, even though we all now that feeling only too well. We don’t ever deny you will feel this way, and when you do, know it is ok to sit in it, feel it, acknowledge it, and then ring a service like 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to talk about it and decompress from the heightened state of despair back to a normal state of whatever it is you have as ‘normal.’
It’s going to be a long, hard, difficult, frightening journey. We can’t hide this from you, and nor should we. Leaving any relationship is difficult, but those who leave an abusive one face so much more, and have far deeper wounds than most.
You will succumb to bouts of fear, depression, even suicidal thoughts. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. Even the strongest, most inspiring and courageous of us have been in your shoes, and we know how easy it is to lose your way when you try to be strong in the face of the storm that’s on its way.
There is no weakness in allowing that fear of what might happen be present. But our hope is you will be stronger with this guide than without it. By utilising the information in this guide, we hope to convey to you our experience, strength, and hope, so that you too can know that at some point it will end, and you will have a life afterwards. Maybe not the life you envisaged, but a life without abuse.