You’d think that escaping from an abusive relationship would be liberating, that you would immediately and permanently feel the sense of freedom you have so long anticipated.

In some ways, this is true. Just knowing that you can go where you want and talk to whomever you please is a relief. You can go to bed at night without worrying about being interrogated or insulted or baited into a marathon argument that lasts until the wee hours of the morning. You don’t have to look over your shoulder every few seconds to see if you are being watched.

Unfortunately, for many survivors, there is no ultimate sense of closure. What if you still live in the same town as your ex? What if you have children together? What if the network of mutual friends keeps trying to pull you back in?

If there are any vestigial ties to your abusive partner, you will not be able to free yourself completely. This isn’t just about cutting off all contact (which of course you should do); she will continue to exert whatever control she can through whatever means are available.

There may be periods of days or weeks, maybe even months or years, when it seems like the storm is finally over. You may find yourself thinking you are finally free. But beware: even volcanoes lie dormant for long stretches before erupting with little or no warning. Do not begin rebuilding your life at the base of a volcano, no matter how peaceful it may seem.


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