Monday, November 24, 2014

Dating After Domestic Violence

Date At Restaurant Featured 300x153 Dating After Domestic ViolenceI received a very interesting inquiry from a friend this week that has served as the topic for this week’s blog.  It is quoted, as follows: 

“Do you have any tips or pointers for someone who begins dating after leaving a DV marriage?  Before my DV marriage, I had several non-violent relationships. The DV guy that I married was the odd man out. Now that I am looking to enter the arena again, the last time I dated was 2002. I am wondering, how do I tell if the man is a good one or a bad one?”           

I believe that the first questions that you need to ask when you find that you are ready to re-enter the dating world are ones that you pose to yourself. 

I think that we need to look at life and meeting new people as something that is fun to do.  And if we do that with an open heart, we will “know” whether another person would be someone that we would love to have as a friend.

  • How has this domestic violence experience changed you, meaning do you live each day in fear or are you grateful that you got out with your life and you know that there will never be any such thing as a “bad day” again after all of those days of abuse that you lived or are you at some point in between?
  • How do you see yourself, meaning do you still believe all of those negative things that you were told about yourself and do you believe that you were the cause of all of your partner’s problems that caused the abuse and do you believe that you are anything less than a wonderful person who has had to deal with a lot in your life and now you deserve to have some good things come your way?
  • Why do you want a new relationship, meaning are you looking for someone to support you and/or take on your financial responsibilities or are you looking for someone because you hate to be alone or are you wanting to find a partner with whom you can share your life and the experiences that come your way, both as an individual and perhaps as a couple?
  • Do you believe that all men (or women, etc.) are alike and you just have to find the best of the worst?
  • Do you believe that anyone is fair game as a partner whether they are married, in a committed relationship, etc?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice your core beliefs or your money or your soul or your life in order to “get” the relationship that you want?

 These are just a few of the questions that you need to ask yourself before you begin dating again.  I cannot tell you what may be right or wrong for you personally but I can tell you what I believe and what worked for me.  

First of all, I was willing to assess what the 10 years of abuse had done to me as a person.  I had to acknowledge that I was a different person, that I had changed and that I could either be bitter about it for the rest of my life or I could take responsibility for my part in the relationship and the desire to take away from it the lessons that I learned that made me a better person.  Second, I had to acknowledge that I was not the cause of the abusive behavior of another person.  Each person is responsible for his/her own behavior.  Third, I had to understand that I was not any of the things that my abuser had named me.  I had to start focusing on all of my positive traits and make a decision about any things that I might want to change about myself and take action to do so.  Fourth, I had to ask myself why I would even want to find another partner after the relationship that I had just experienced where I had been treated so badly. 

The bottom line is that I had to become right with myself.  That meant that I had to believe in myself, to know that I am a good person and that I deserved a good life.  I had to accept myself for the person that I am and to understand that while I will never be perfect, no one else will ever be perfect either.  I had to be willing to establish my core values and to understand that anyone else that I brought into my life would have to share those basics and that everything else was up for negotiations.  And, for me, I believed that if I were treated well by another person and wanted to give back the same thing to that person, I had found a person that I wanted to know better. 

I don’t think that we need to go looking for the person that we would want to have in our life forever.  I don’t think that we need to look at another person and question in our minds whether this is “the one”.  I think that we need to look at life and meeting new people as something that is fun to do.  And if we do that with an open heart, we will “know” whether another person would be someone that we would love to have as a friend.  What evolves from there is either a fun thing that we would like to continue or it is a revealing experience of that which we have lived before and don’t ever want to experience again.  It is easier now to tell which is which so go forth armed with a whole lot of living and experiences that will serve you very well in knowing who may or may not be right for you.

If you or someone you know is affected by Domestic Abuse, you can call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY)

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  • David Mellin

    I met a lady through a friend and she has suffered from a long term abusive relationship. She is no longer with the guy. I am very interested in getting to know more about her and maybe date her in the future. I have some questions.

    There are some things that her ex and I have in common. For instance, we like to play and watch the exact same sports. Anytime I mention baseball, she does not want to talk/hear about it because of her ex. So then I have to not talk about the sport that I love. How do I help her heal?

    Then, I am also thinking hypothetically. What if we do date later down the road, then marry, how is that going to affect intimacy/sex? What are some signs that I can see in her that she will open up to me and have healthy intimacy with me without thinking of the abuser?

    Any help would be appreciated, thanks

    • letlifehappen

      As I am not a doctor or a trained professional in this area, I am not in a position to answer these questions. I would definitely seek the help of a professional who might be able to give you some direction. I wish you success in your efforts and hope that things work out for the best for both of you, either together or separately.

  • mom1979

    I am now leaving a dv situation and I am having to move back home to my family which lives in another state. I am moving with my 5 children and they know the situation and the reason why. I have been comfortable in my home and we just moved here two years ago. I just recently started talking to a friend that I have not talked to for awhile and we have gotten closer. When I visited my family this summer he approached me and said I shouldn’t have to deal with this and offered his support then. My soon to be ex-husband and I have not slept in the same room or have been intimate for over a year now but he recently hit me and I made the decision to leave. I am a very strong liberal woman but how do I know that my feelings for my friend are for our friendship or more. Right now he is my support and willing to help me in any way shape or form. I am a very liberal woman and speak what is on my mind and told him how I feel. I am hoping that the relationship does evolve. He is the most sincere and sweetheart I have known him to be. How will I know when I will be ready to move on? Things feel really natural for me since my soon to be ex-husband moved out a month ago. I have more control over the children and I have more energy now and go outside more than I used to. I don’t have problems sleeping or anything. Should I follow the golden rule and wait 6 months or a year before I express my feelings or wait longer.

    • Barbara

      First of all, congratulations on choosing to leave your DV situation. This is not only wonderful for you but also for your children. I am sure that they respect your protecting them and giving them a new life that provides for calm and peace.
      Second, I do not believe in rules when it come matters of the heart. Your friend may be just that, a friend, or he may be your future but at this point, it really doesn’t matter. I believe that everyone comes into our life (or back into our life) at just the right moment and this applies to your situation. Appreciate the opportunity and enjoy it but do not force it to be or become anything in particular. As you have already discovered, life is just too short to not enjoy the day and live it to its fullest and that included expressing your feelings no matter what they may be whenever you are ready to do so. There are no right or wrong answers.

  • http://twitter.com/TurningpointRF/status/301146622535036930/ @TurningpointRF

    Dating After Domestic Violence – Let Life Happen http://t.co/3ewJaIMW

    • http://LetLifeHappen.com Barbara Jacoby

      Thank you so much for sharing that blog. I really appreciate it so very much.

  • http://twitter.com/ShaylaSellitto/status/295021082853908480/ @ShaylaSellitto

    Dating After Domestic Violence – Let Life Happen http://t.co/TlOFK6DW

    • http://LetLifeHappen.com Barbara Jacoby

      I really appreciate your sharing that blog. For most, it is a very difficult situation to face the prospect of ever trusting someone enough to consider a personal relationship again.

  • dom

    everything above is a natural way of getting back to ‘real life’. Almost 2 years ago I have run away from my DV marriage, I had a real depresion, no life at all, I was a real pesymist-no smile on my face at all, wearing just grey colors..But thanks to my real friends, thanks to my family and ofcourse-psyhological help after one year everything started to getting normal…I realized that I must be happy with myself first , then I can start build a ralationship…Ofcourse at the beggining I was ‘suffering for a love’ , well-every guy who showed me a bit of his interest I have treated as a potential partner ‘for life’…I have treated my ex DV as a partner for good and bad even he was doind what he was doing…maybe that’s why I done some kind of things…At this moment-I feel sorry for my ex DV, coz he will never realize how stupid he is, that he is the one who needs a real help…I do not even blame him, or hate him-I just have a lot of fun when he still tries to show me how ‘ugly’ I am.. I believe that what won’t kill you-will only makes u stronger-After all I have so much hope in my soul, so huge optymistic option,, that everyone who knows me can’t believe that this could be possible after getting my experience…I do love each day, do love sunshines, every tree, raining and sunny days…I do love myself. I wish to give u a bit of my hope-DV is a terrible thing to experience, but it’s wort of kepping fighting for your OWN. Frankly I can say that my state of mind at this moment is like first stages of falling in love…:) fingers crossed for all of you I believe in all of you :) ps. sorry for my English, I am a foreigner. xoxo

    • letlifehappen

      Thank you so much for your comments. I am so happy that you were able to turn the corner and start loving yourself again. DV is horrible but if you can make it through, you will have the opportunity to create the best life ever for yourself and everyone around you. You are a true inspiration and I am so grateful that you can share your story.

    • letlifehappen

      Good for you. Glad that you had others around you to help. Keep up the positive direction and I know that everything will work out just perfectly for you.

  • Howard

    I just want to thank you for posting some of the things on here that you hae. I am currently dating someone who has suffered in a DV laiden marriage, she has been out of it for % years now and is raising a beautiful daughter, they are both bright and intelligent women and I believe that has come from the strength she has gained in getting out of that relationship. I am a patient person and will be there for whatever it is that she needs in the future. I do have one problem though that I was hopoing someone could help me out with, it seems like she keeps trying to push me away, only to tell me how kind and sweet I am, how she feels safe and relaxed around me, then she will do or say something to see what kind of reaction I’ll give her. I don’t yell, I don’t blame, I don’t criticize, I just accept everyone for who the are, because after all, we all have problems, but why does she keep doing this.

    • http://LetLifeHappen.com Barbara Jacoby

      Thank you for your kind comments and I must say that you are doing everything right so keep up the good work. There could be several reasons why she is acting in the way that she is. First, she might think that you are just a little too good to be true. I don’t know her circumstances from the previous relationship but I do know from my own that it took a year of dating and then 3 months into my marriage before I was abused for the first time. She may be pushing you (and most likely not consciously) because she is waiting for you to respond in a violent manner. Second, she may not believe that you truly see her for who she really is but when you do, you will leave her so she might as well give you the chance to do so now before she gets any closer to you. She probably believes that it was her fault that her ex abused her because that is what she deserved and believes that when you get to know her better, you will do the same. She is so fortunate that you are so patient and understanding and know that if you keep doing what you are doing, she will come to realize that you are who you appear to be and will not attack her in any way no matter what she throws at you and she will stop. Your love and support is all that she needs to know that she is worthy of being loved and that there is someone who recognizes that and that someone is you. Will send some prayers your way for your having that wonderful relationship that you desire and deserve!

  • Pingback: Are you ready to date again? « Healing from Abuse

  • Eileen

    I’ve been divorced from my DV marriage for three years and started a relationship with a kind and wonderful man. I went into this with an open heart and mind and in that time, we’ve fallen in love with each other which is such an amazing feeling! I was definitely able to answer yes to all those questions at the beginning, but now I sometimes find myself so terrified of a repeat, even though all the evidence points to the contrary, that I worry I am permanently damaged. I want to share my life with this person and stay open to love but I find myself unconsciously reacting to things in old ways. He’s so patient but it’s going to take a toll on something too good to lose. Maybe it already has. And all that does is feed into my belief that I’m not loveable. I guess it’s time for therapy.

    • http://LetLifeHappen.com Barbara Jacoby

      Congratulations on how far you have come in such a short period of time. You should be so proud of yourself. Now why would you think that you are not lovable when you have found someone who obviously believes that you most certainly are lovable? I am so glad to hear that he is patient as that is exactly the quality that will be very important to the long-term success of your relationship. I must tell you that no matter how long you are away from the DV situation, you will always find yourself reacting unconsciously to situations that trigger things from the past. When that happens, let him know immediately that you are sorry, that the past was the trigger and that it has nothing to do with him. Your reacting based upon the past is not like a bad habit that needs to be broken but more like a protective reflex. Just believe in yourself and believe in him and your relationship and I promise you that it will work.

  • Tede

    I am grateful to your blog… Also grateful that I answered “No” to man of the questions… I have left a DV long term marriage over 2 years ago. I am now ready to look for a brighter future. Yet in the back of my mind… Still am very hesitant. I didn’t see what “hit” me… Before! How can I see it coming again? (sorry for the sarcasm)
    I

    • http://LetLifeHappen.com Barbara Jacoby

      Glad that you are grateful to my website and blogs. I really appreciate that very much. Moving on after DV is not always an easy thing and I am glad that you have chosen to make that move. Hopefully you will never have to “see it coming” again. For me, I was ready to move on when I learned to have confidence and believe in myself. I realized that I would never find myself in an abusive situation again when I was able to walk away from someone who was not treating me with the respect that I deserve. And very honestly, it doesn’t make any difference whether it is a girl or a guy, a friend, a relative or the love of your life. Respect and love are all that you should allow in any relationship and if you find the right mate with whom you can share these things, then you have found the perfect relationship. All of the other details can be worked out as they just don’t matter that much. Please let me know how you are doing as you rejoin the dating world and if there is anything that I can do to help you, please just ask.

  • Amber-Zahra

    This article was very helpful, I have been out of my abusive relationship for 7 months now. I definetly do not feel ready to date but I was wonderinf if and when I get there what do I do. I know I am growing because I can be alone and even want to be but I also wonder if I’ll always feel this way. After I’ve moved on with myself, how do I gain the open heart to trust anyone again?

    • http://LetLifeHappen.com Barbara Jacoby

      You need first and foremost to learn to love yourself. Once you do, you can love others from the heart and not from a place of insecurity where you care what other people think. It does not matter whether it is a girlfriend, a family member or a man with whom you are in a relationship. If you are not loved and trusted and respected, walk away and don’t turn back. If you have those in a relationship, you have everything.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/trustyourgut Lauren

    I think you made many important points – assess the effects of the abuse, work through the damage, be as whole and healthy as possible, keep friends informed, have realistic expectations, figure out what’s important – the core values – and hold on to those things. Thank you for this post. Congratulations to your friend for getting out of the violent situation, and I’m glad she’s taking courageous steps to move forward.

    • http://LetLifeHappen.com Barbara Jacoby

      Thank you so much for your comments. She sure does deserve a lot of credit for getting out her situation successfully and for her forward thinking regarding moving on in all aspects of her life. I wish her and everyone else in her situation the most wonderful and successful relationships forever.