Valentine's Day for the Abused Woman

Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.
— Louise L. Hay

Valentine’s Day is a painful reminder for the abused woman that she is being mistreated and disrespected by the father of her children and the one person who is supposed to love and cherish her more than anyone else. All holidays are very difficult when she is in an abusive relationship, but Valentine’s Day can be keenly felt as one of the most somber days of the year.

Valentine's Day in particular is a good time to practice self-care and self-love. You have endured an awful lot and deserve to pamper yourself. Give yourself this gift.

Taking this action is making a statement that you deserve to be treated well. You do, and it will make you feel better. Take a bubble bath, use essential oils such as lavender or vanilla, give yourself a manicure, watch a comedy, laugh with a friend, exercise with others, or better yet, go out with friends.

Turn up the music and dance! Even if you are alone, movement and music will help lift your spirits. Listen to songs that have a positive message and empower women. Artists like Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Pink, Whitney Houston, Helen Reddy, and Diana Ross are among the many women singers who have recorded well-loved hits that inspire, empower, and celebrate women, with all of their imperfections. That’s right. Nobody else is perfect and you don’t have to be, either.         

Even if you don’t feel like it, go ahead and take action anyway. A therapist once told me, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” The release of endorphins in your brain will enhance your mood and make you feel better.

It is fine to have a small piece or two of dark chocolate, or even a small sampler box. Just don’t overdo it, as you will feel worse later from the sugar letdown. Not good for your health or waistline. Avoid impulse shopping, as the feel good boost is very temporary, and it will damage your finances. Your self-esteem has undoubtedly been compromised by your abuser’s corrosive attacks on you.

The point is to do things that are positive and helpful for you that you don’t regret later. That is the essence of real self-care and self-love.

It may help you to know that the origins of this holiday aren’t romantic at all. Valentine’s Day, celebrated on February 14, was created in the sentimental Victorian era and is named for the patron saint of lovers. What you may not know is that Valentine was an obscure Christian martyr dating back to the 5th century who was beaten, stoned, and decapitated because he performed religious marriage ceremonies against the command of Emperor Claudius II. The holiday’s origins reside in the ancient Roman festival, Lupercalia, which celebrated the Roman God of Fertility by performing animal sacrifice. I think about these gruesome facts if I start to get blue on Valentine’s Day. Definitely not all sweetness and light!

Advertisers motivated by the opportunity to boost profits heavily promote  jewelry, chocolates, restaurants, and greeting cards in an attempt to create a material obligation to spend money on romantic relationships. Although this holiday has become very commercialized, many men who would once have sent cards now declare their love via text message or email, according to a Lindt Chocolates survey. Gallantry is not what it used to be, as many women now expect to pay for part of their Valentine’s Day dinner.

It is really important for you to recognize that, once the honeymoon phase is over, other romantic relationships have their issues and difficulties at times, albeit not as severe or unacceptable as yours. Being a realist about this fact of ordinary life helps to reduce the feelings of aloneness and the failure of your marriage that you may be struggling with.

You can never know what another person is going through. I can’t tell you how many times that I thought someone had it all together, only to find out that they had recently lost a job, were dealing with a debilitating illness, or had lost a loved one.  Dealing with loss is part of life for all of us. It is very important to be grateful for what you do have now. Making a gratitude list will help you to put things in perspective.

Your partner, if he is a narcissist, is incapable of loving you or anyone else. He feels no compassion for the pain that he inflicts on you. He blames you for everything that goes wrong, even for his moods. In fact, you cannot do anything right in his world no matter how hard you try. He may intimidate you, threaten you, call you names, humiliate you, isolate you, or demand perfection. Maybe he does all of the above. He is far from perfect himself and is incapable of self-examination or remorse. It is distressing and disappointing to be subjected to that kind of behavior by a loved one, but that is just the way it is with abusers. His behavior has nothing to do with you at all. This is about him and his brokenness. He would do that to any partner. It is not personal, but you still have to deal with it.

The best Valentine’s Day present that you can give yourself is to emancipate yourself from this toxic relationship.

Decide that you matter more than perpetuating the abuse by staying there. You can’t fix him. He can’t and won’t change. So prepare to leave safely and then do it. Download our free 11 STEP PREP Guide to take the action you need to, now.

If you are already divorced, you may still be grieving the loss of the relationship that you deserved, but never had, with your former partner. He never loved you because he wasn’t capable of loving anyone. It doesn’t mean that you weren’t lovable. It does mean that you were unlucky and chose the wrong partner. There are good men out there who would love you and treat you well. Open yourself up to the possibility of love in your life.

Remember that the most important opinion of your worth is your own, not the distorted view of your abuser who tries to maintain control by tearing you down.

You are important to your children, your family, your friends, and your colleagues. You can’t be at your best for them or for yourself while you are being abused. You deserve to be happy. Make choices to allow this to happen. Get the support you need and deserve.

Love yourself this day.

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 and 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