The healing process isn’t linear, but the suggestions below are ways to find relief and support along the way.

Create a safety planSafety planning can give you a sense of control and protection. You can add responses for different circumstances, such as seeing your ex in public, at your workplace or if they contact you on social media. Make your safety and security a priority post-breakup, so you can focus on yourself and your healing journey.

Set boundaries
Boundaries after the relationship are just as important as during it. Make sure you and your ex are on the same page in terms of communication and behaviour. And, if you aren’t — and you very well may not be — remember that your needs and boundaries matter. Be clear in expressing them and confident that you have every right to need the time and space that you need. Also consider setting digital boundaries, like blocking your ex or taking a social media break. Knowing that your partner doesn’t have access to you on social media can provide the distance you might need to move through healing at your own pace.

Prioritize self-care and self-loveSelf-care and self-love is vital because without them, survivors can find themselves in another abusive relationship. Honour your thoughts and feelings as they come up. Try journaling as a way to process your emotions. It can serve as a personal safe space and way to reflect on your growth as time passes. Also, try picking up old hobbies and doing things you used to love. Use your newfound time to focus on things that build your confidence and help you regain emotional balance.

Repeat healing affirmations
Keep reminding yourself that the abuse was never your fault. It can be hard not to look back on your past relationship with rose-coloured glasses, or you may feel like you miss your ex-partner, but keep in mind that you’re strong, and you’ll get through it. Remember that everyone — including you — deserves a healthy relationship where they feel loved, respected, and valued.

Educate yourself about abuse
No matter where you are in your journey, learning about abuse can prevent you from entering similar situations in the future. Learning about signs of abuse, why people fall in love with abusive partners, reasons people stay in ‘unhealthy’ relationships, potential barriers to leaving and how abuse shows up in different areas of life. When everyone has a better understanding and knowledge of how intimate partner violence works, then we can remove the stigma and get the support and services needed for survivors and perpetrators.

Build a strong support system
You don’t have to do this alone. Receiving support can help you feel stronger and more connected during the healing process. A great support system can include family, friends, support groups or your EAP Assist counsellor. Often someone in an abusive relationship can be isolated from friends and family. It’s important to reconnect. They can emotionally support you, build up your sense of self, and offer a counter to some of the doubts or negative thoughts we can have about ourselves after a breakup.

Looking ahead
Intimate partner violence affects a significant number of people in Australia each year. If you’ve recently been in an abusive relationship, you’re not alone and it’s not your fault. There’s no solid answer as to how long it takes to heal after any type of abusive relationship. But creating a safety plan, practicing self-love, seeking help, setting boundaries, joining support groups as well as seeking additional resources can bring you relief. Breakups aren’t easy. Be patient and kind to yourself, as there’s no ‘right way’ to heal. Healing is possible, though, and you will feel stronger in time.