Therapy for Stress and Healing
With calm comes clarity.
Here are helpful, therapeutic ways to create a calm mind, drive confident decision making, and instill a heightened sense of self-worth during highly stressful and traumatic divorce processes. We are with you.
Identify the signs of distress. Many abused women develop eating disorders, chronic anxiety and depression, gynecological problems, and other physical and emotional problems, as well as drug and alcohol addiction. If you don’t think that you have any problems related to the abuse in your marriage, you need to see a therapist and find out why you are in denial. You can’t heal that of which you are not aware. If you are abused, whether physically or verbally, your body is in distress. Constant exposure to fear and violence is linked to a weakened immune response, premature aging, and learned helplessness, a state of mind in which you think that everything is so bad that there is nothing you can do but give up and remain a victim, feeling trapped and hopeless.
Listen to your body. Violence is not just physical; it can take the form of constant verbal attacks on you that instill fear or compromise your well-being. Throughout this, your body is talking to you by giving you the gift of anger, depression, anxiety, fear, and other signs. I believe that God speaks to you through your gut instinct and other physical and emotional messages that you feel in your body. Your body is telling you that you need to make a drastic change to your unhealthy situation. You not only need therapy to manage the additional stress you are likely to face while you get a divorce, you also need to practice self-care by getting the therapy that you need to heal.
Recognize, and re-ignite- your sense of self-worth. You will need to work on self-esteem issues if you are married to an abusive man, as his toxic behavior has eroded your sense of self-worth over a long period. Therapy is extremely helpful, but make a change either in the method you are using or in your therapist if you get stuck for an extended period of time. Cognitive therapy with an individual therapist has been very valuable to me in dealing with difficult issues. Reading positive books, whether to do with faith or spirituality, as well as saying affirmations and trying just to live centered in the present were tools I tried to practice every day. When I did, they were very effective.
Get help. If you can’t afford to pay for a therapist, free counselors may be available. You can find a lot of free resources for divorce, abuse, and depression counseling in the Breaking Bonds Resources Section. Personally, I found group therapy unproductive to me, as the participants in my support group stayed mired in the same drama of the past without making any visible progress from one week to the next. I felt as though I was a hamster on a wheel. Maybe group therapy helps others, but it didn’t help me to listen to other people’s problems. I needed to work on my own. It may help you, so try it if it is recommended to you, but if it doesn’t, try something else.
Manage and heal PTSD. If you have PTSD, a common side effect of prolonged marital abuse, it may be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to cope with traumatic events that you are still reliving in your mind, with all the corresponding emotions, as if they just happened. It may be necessary to treat the trauma with emotional freedom technique (EFT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or some other method that works for you to release these stuck emotions. You may then be able to remember an incident calmly with detachment. This will give you the freedom to cope with the divorce and begin the healing process. It is not practical to offer a fuller explanation of these techniques in this blog article, but please ask your therapist about them.
In Healing Everyday Traumas by Lynn Karjala, simple tapping exercises are given to discharge the trauma and help reduce and eliminate negative feelings and beliefs, using EFT and thought field therapy (TFT). These exercises work by stimulating the flow of vital energy along the meridians, a set of pathways in the body that are associated with specific organs. This technique, called acupressure, is like acupuncture, but without the needles. Her book explains these methods in detail - you can find it here in our library.
Get a massage. Massage therapy will help you to relax and reconnect with your body. The caring touch of another person in a safe space is healing. Research suggests that massage reduces high blood pressure and may boost immunity, as several studies have found there are dramatic decreases in the stress hormone cortisol after massage sessions. Massage may help you to avoid getting a cold or other illness while you are under prolonged stress. It creates chemical changes that reduce pain and stress throughout the body by reducing the brain chemical substance P that is related to pain. People with fibromyalgia, a form of muscle pain, showed less substance P in their saliva and reported a reduction of pain in a TRI study after a month of twice-weekly massages.
Try to get weekly massages, but even every other week would do you a lot of good. Just being touched and treated with care regularly by someone who is safe is therapeutic.
Calm the mind with music therapy. Since ancient times, people have understood that music has healing properties. Neurological music therapy now has given an explanation why. Because positive mood affects the capacity for memory, it is important for you to listen to positive music in the car or wherever else possible.
The fact that certain music heals makes sense considering that everything is in a state of vibration, including us. Everything is sound vibrating at different frequencies. From subatomic particles moving around the nucleus of an atom to planets in distant galaxies that are rotating around their stars, everything is in motion, vibrating at a particular speed. You could say everything is making music.
Tune in to your positive energy. When we are happy, we feel lighter, and our level of vibration is faster. When we are depressed, we feel heavy, and our vibration is slower. It is necessary for you to tune out the negative messages you receive from your husband and from some music, especially songs containing lyrics that degrade or objectify women, as these may trigger traumatic memories and symptoms of PTSD. If you hear a song with offensive lyrics on the radio, change the station immediately or turn it off. Remember that everything you choose to listen to affects your perception of the world.
Breaking Bonds is dedicated to your specific needs as an abused woman, and we offer free holistic support as well as practical guidance to help you through this difficult time. Download the free 11 STEP PREP Guide here to get started, and check out our full list of resources for complete support during the process of your divorce. We are with you.
Rosemary Lombardy is a financial advisor with over 35 years of experience, and the founder of Breaking Bonds, a comprehensive resource platform for abused women. Although her professional expertise is in financial matters, her perspective on marital abuse, divorce, and recovery is deeply heartfelt and holistic. She draws on decades of personal experience, as well as the experiences of others, to help inform abused spouses so that they will become empowered to leave their abusers and begin to heal.
Rosemary Lombardy's new book, Breaking Bonds: How to Divorce an Abuser and Heal - A Survival Guide is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere that sells books.
1 Lynn Mary Karjala. Healing Everyday Traumas: Free Yourself from the Scars of Bullying, Criticism and Rejection (Roswell, GA.: Psychology Innovations Press, 2017), pp. 129–42.
2 Kim E. Innes, Terry Kit Selfe, Dharma Singh Khlasa, and Sahiti Kandati. “Meditation and Music Improve Memory and Cognitive Function in Adults with Subjective Cognitive Decline: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, vol. 56, no. 3 (February 2017), pp. 899–916. Abstract available at: http://www.j-alz.com/vol56-3