Dear Viv: I'm in a bad way after leaving an abusive relationship

In this week’s podcast, Viv answers a question from a woman who has left a difficult relationship but now doesn’t know how to go on

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv,

I have recently broken free from an abusive relationship that has dominated my life for the past 4 years after finally finding the courage to do so.  Whilst I am certain that I have managed to do it for good this time and will not go back (I have tried numerous times but always have returned to relationship - this has been partly to do my lack of self esteem that has been eradicated through his treatment or, more severely, when he has threatened suicide and I have been too frightened at the thought of having 'his death on my hands' as he has put it) I find myself in a very bad way physically and mentally.  

During this relationship I have had talking therapy, CBT, taken medication, and have sought help from the Women's Trust; I have even spoken to the police. None of this has left me feeling like I am strong enough to get over all of this once and for all - what can I do? Part of the abuse I experienced was being made to feel like  I was, in fact, the abuser and the one to be frighten of, and that I was seriously mentally ill and hence a danger to society.  This has de-stabilised my sense of self so dramatically that I feel as if I have been turned inside out (I can't think how else to describe it).  I feel raw, vulnerable, frightened and most worryingly, I feel like he was right to call me those things.  I also feel unable to trust anyone again because everything I told him about my hopes, dreams and fears for the future, has been used against me as ammunition in the form of verbal abuse.  For example, he knows that I long to have a family but often taunted me that at my age (33) my eggs would be s**t by now and then just shouting IVF at me again and again when I tried to speak.

I have lots of good friends and a supportive family, many of which have urged me to escape this scenario for longer than I can remember but I feel so alone. It is easy to just tell me to leave.  I feel like I have worn their patience with me right down. I feel like I have to start from scratch to rediscover who I am and fall back in love with myself.  How can I do that?  

Hear Viv's answer to this question on her podcast, Waving, Not Drowning, above.

Got a question for Viv? Email her at DearViv@thepoolltd.com. The Dear Viv podcast airs fortnightly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately, Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

You can subscribe to The Pool's podcasts on iTunes

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