How to Minimize Stress & Fear During Your Divorce
As many abusers tend to escalate their aggression and threats once they become aware that they have lost control of their victim with a divorce filing, it is imperative that you take appropriate steps to avoid conflict and reduce the level of stress and fear you are experiencing.
The size of the hippocampus in your brain can shrink when it regularly gets flooded with cortisol and other stress related hormones due to chronic stress and fear. This has a negative effect on your decision-making, ability to learn, negotiating skills, and short-term memory. Other physical symptoms of prolonged stress and fear include a weakened immune response, premature aging, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD, inability to focus, depression, and learned helplessness, a state of mind in which you think that there is nothing you can do but give up and remain a victim, feeling trapped and helpless.
If you want to make good decisions during the many months that it will take to get a divorce, you will need to take steps to protect your health and your brain.
Take heart that the negative side effects you may suffer from can be significantly reversed if you take care of yourself during and after the divorce, if you minimize your exposure to additional stress, and if you do whatever you can to activate your relaxation response, such as with meditation, bubble baths, aromatherapy, or the right kind of music. A good therapist can help you work on self-esteem issues and give you techniques to undo the brainwashing that you have been exposed to and help empower you to take action so that you can have a better life. Read positive books, use affirmations, and try to live centered in the present. Worry will not help you; self-care and planning an appropriate course of action with your attorney will. Take each day as it comes and stay focused on your goal of freedom.
The best way to deal with conflict and stress is to avoid unnecessary interactions with your abuser.
Limit or eliminate contact with him. He will insist on talking to you, only to try to manipulate you, instill fear, and tear you down. You are not obligated to have any interactions with him, except possibly about the children. He can send you a text if he needs to communicate with you about them. If he becomes abusive in his texts, be sure to get copies of this evidence to your attorney and block his phone number. Do not react, as this will only escalate the conflict. Everything you text or email is evidence for his attorney, so please be cautious. Have your attorney respond instead. You must maintain healthy boundaries, and you need to remember that he is dangerous.
Follow the ten steps in my article, Manage the Stress of Abuse and Divorce. You must take care of yourself if you are going to be able to do a good job taking care of your children and obtain a good outcome in the divorce. Remember that you will feel better about your ability to handle the divorce if you take responsibility for the outcome and if you are proactive in taking steps to protect yourself.
Feeling empowered will reduce your stress and improve your self-esteem. You can do this!
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, grab a copy of Breaking Bonds: How To Divorce an Abuser & Heal, 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.