Counseling after an Abusive Relationship: 3 Reasons You May Need Professional Help to Move On

Ending an abusive relationship should mean having happier times to look forward to, but unfortunately, there may be more healing needed to fully get there. While almost anybody could benefit from counseling after a major breakup, if you're leaving an abusive relationship, you have more reasons than most:

1. Counseling Will Affirm the End of the Relationship

In some cases, the end of an abusive relationship is actually a pause. An abused person usually makes several attempts at leaving their abuser before doing it for the last time. This can be a dangerous time because the abuser finally realizes it's really over and may become even more aggressive in their attempt to maintain control.

Counseling will affirm the breakup was the right thing to do and help you get over what happened to make sure you don't return to the abuse. Your counselor may also be able to suggest resources you can use to stay hidden from the abuser. 

2. End the Pattern of Becoming Involved With an Abusive Person

Unfortunately, abusive relationships can be a prolonged pattern. Especially if you were abused or neglected as a child, abusive relationships may be the only relationships you're comfortable with. A professional counseling service helps you break down the causality of your choices and helps you know how to make healthier decisions in the future. If you need help with alcohol or drug use, another common affliction of abused children later in life, a counselor can guide you through that process.

Through multiple counseling sessions, you'll learn how to identify the reasons you become involved with abusers and how to avoid doing so in the future.

3. Treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Any form of abuse can leave severe emotional scars, but often, people emerging from a chaotic, controlling, and violent relationship suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD. PTSD isn't something you can simply leave behind, it's something you'll take with you until it's somehow resolved. The symptoms vary; however, after being triggered, many people experience difficulty sleeping, using substances to cope, constant fear, anxiety, or dread even without reasons to be afraid. Many survivors make decisions based on the traumatic past — not on a hopeful future.

PTSD manifests itself in your mind and body and although it can be difficult to treat, not addressing it can lead to different forms of self-abuse or otherwise holding yourself back. Trauma-Focused Psychotherapy may be something you need to process the experiences of the past. Behavioral, cognitive, and emotional methods of counseling may be called on to help you separate yourself from the trauma, heal from it, and finally move on from the abusive relationship. 

Without the help of a counselor, you're likely to experience the effects of your abuse over and over. You'll also feel afraid and alone, which leaves you too vulnerable to another abuser. Having someone to talk to, to listen to, and to trust will make an enormous difference in your healing.

To learn more, visit a professional counseling service near you.