If You’re Getting Out of an Abusive Marriage, Make Sure You Get Help! (Pt 1)

Scrabble tiles turned up to spell the word "Fear"
Leaving an abusive spouse can be a very stressful and frightening process. Make sure you have the right supports in place to help you during and after the divorce.

For many people whose marriages are unhappy or unfulfilling, the end of the marriage means the end of the frustrations that plagued them. But for people who’ve been in abusive relationships, divorce doesn’t signal the end of the trauma. While contact with their abusive spouse is (hopefully) at an end, the emotional, psychological and sometimes physical damage done can last a lifetime. Which means that even although you’re out, you’re not free.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Many people, usually women, who’ve been in abusive marriages suffer from what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The symptoms include feeling frightened, sad, anxious, and disconnected, even when the trauma has ended. When triggered, people with PTSD feel as if they’re actively in danger, despite the fact that the danger has passed. 

For people who’ve survived abusive marriages, anything from seeing their ex across a room in a public place, to hearing someone else shouting, can trigger their PTSD. Without treatment, this condition can get worse over time, and make it difficult for them to move on and feel safe in future relationships.

Signs of PTSD:

Although the types of traumas that lead to PTSD can range from natural disasters and wars, to childhood abuse and sexual assault, the symptoms tend to be very similar. These include:

  1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event. This includes experiencing intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, or intense mental or physical reactions when you’re reminded of the trauma.
  2. Avoidance and numbing. This includes avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma, suppressing memories of the trauma, losing interest in activities and life in general, feeling emotionally detached from other people and not having hope for the future. 
  3. Hyperarousal. This includes having trouble sleeping, feeling irritable, being hypervigilant (feeling like you’re on constant “red alert”), feeling jumpy and being easily startled, suffering from angry and aggressive outbursts, engaging in self-destructive or reckless behavior.
  4. Mood swings and negative thoughts. This includes experiencing sudden mood changes, having a hard time concentrating or remembering details, feeling alienated and alone, feeling depressed and hopeless, feeling distrustful of others, and experiencing intense feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame.

We can help you prepare for your new future

As dedicated family law attorneys working in mid-Michigan, we’ve helped countless people leave unhappy marriages and prepare for their futures. In many of those cases, the people we’ve helped have come out of marriages to violent spouses, narcissists, and abusers. We understand that it’s a very difficult time, but while we can’t provide you with emotional counseling, we can help you with every aspect of your divorce, from custody and child support, to asset division and alimony.