One of the most destructive side-effects of being forced to endure an abusive relationship is the hazy fog that seems to settle over not only your mind, but your entire self — body, spirit, and innermost depths.
Physically you may feel depleted, exhausted, and perhaps even in actual pain. A few of the most common side-effects of chronic abuse include headaches, achy joints or muscles, and stomach issues. An erratic heartbeat or palpitations are also typical physical symptoms, as are shortness of breath, dizziness, generalized anxiety, sleep disturbances (either too much or not enough), and cognitive confusion.
Emotionally you may feel flattened and defeated or — as I heard one young adult recently describing her mother after enduring another abusive attack — crumpled and broken. Spiritually you’ve lost joy, connection, optimism, and the ability to feel the fullness of life.
You’ve lost faith, hope, and love. And when the greatest of these things has proven to be the most destructive, where does that leave you?
You feel “socially distanced” — from friends and family, from what was once the richness of your spiritual life, from yourself.
From your true inner self.
You may not even remember who your true self had once been, or perhaps you wonder if you ever knew her in the first place.
I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.