“Finally I woke up. I couldn’t let her do any more damage to me. I went to counselling, stopped drinking, moved back to the city, got a great job and went back to school.”
Recovering from Trauma
Everyone experiences domestic and family violence differently. The way in which you respond to and recover from your experience may depend upon a number of things, including the types of abuse you experienced, past experiences of abuse, violence and trauma, strategies you used to survive, other stress in your life and the support or lack of support you received.
Whatever your experience, recovering from domestic and family violence is a recovery from a significant trauma.
Leaving an abusive relationship can be the beginning of a process of healing and recovery which may take some time. There are common experiences that some survivors talk about including:
- disturbed sleep;
- fear, anxiety, self-doubt and vulnerability;
- anger, ranging from irritability to rage;
- repeated thoughts about the abuse;
- sadness, loss and grief;
- being triggered by sounds, smells or memories;
- fear of socialising in the LGBTIQ community; or
- fear of socialising in your given Aboriginal or cultural specific community.
You may have developed survival techniques to avoid or minimise the impacts of the abuse whilst you were in the relationship but if these patterns continue after the abuse has stopped and you are safe, it could be a problem. For example, being on “high alert” might have been a survival tool that you used during the abuse but living on “high alert” constantly may be unnecessarily harmful, particularly if you are no longer in danger.
While there are some commonalities for people who have experienced domestic and family violence, your experience and recovery is completely unique.
You are the expert in your recovery process and your needs may be similar or different to other people.
If you feel that these patterns or thoughts are overwhelming or prevent you from carrying out daily tasks eg. eating, looking after yourself, leaving your home, going to work and maintaining relationships with friends or family it is maybe helpful to speak to someone who can give you professional support.
There are a number of places that can make trauma recovery referrals for LGBTIQ people who have experienced domestic and family violence including:
- The Safe Relationships Project - 1800 244 481;
- ACON’s Wellbeing Programs - 1800 063 060;
- 1800RESPECT Helpline - 1800 737 732; or
- Victims Services - Victims Access Line 1800 633 063 / Aboriginal Contact Line 1800 019 123.