By: Mannette Morgan, Author of “Finding Your Voice: A Path to Recovery for Survivors of Abuse”
Healing and happiness are possible after surviving abuse; we just need to know what to do to obtain them. Hence, the most difficult question any survivor faces is, What next?
As an almost destitute young divorced mother of two, I faced this overwhelming question just like many of you. In my case, the answer to “what next” was that I needed to learn as much as I could about abuse and begin by healing the pain of my past trauma. Once I understood how the cycle of abuse could affect my children, my first priority became stopping the cycle of abuse in my own life, thus preventing them from becoming victims as well.
In the beginning, I had no idea what this process would involve or how much I had to learn. I simply picked up a notebook, put on my backpack, and went “back to school.” As a survivor, one of the first things I needed to regain was my self-worth. To change a deep-seated belief of being unworthy, it required a new way of thinking I had lost after experiencing abuse as a young girl.
One of the most significant parts of my journey to self-worth was to embrace what I call The Big 3: self-acceptance, self-love, and self-respect. I wish I could say this was the first step I took in my endeavor of healing, but it came later. It took time to adjust my negative self-beliefs—including criticism, conditional love, and a lack of self-respect—before I could move on to acceptance. I had to learn how to care about myself the way I cared about my children and the people I loved the most.
I also had to learn how to identify, tame, and even omit some of the unhealthy coping skills I acquired as a survivor. Some of these coping skills were harder to let go of than others, and a few actually turned out to be helpful at times. The more I learned and changed, the more I healed. I reacquainted myself with what I wanted and needed more of in my life emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Part of that meant I needed to take the time to discover who I really was and what I desired to be so that I could become an empowered individual.
The most challenging part of healing for me personally was letting go of my story and what I call the Happy Busters: guilt, shame, fear, worry, anxiety, and anger. These are all emotions that could potentially keep us from obtaining happiness. It is vital that we learn how to let go of these emotions if we want to heal, and it takes a shift of perspective to do so.
One of the most critical next steps for me was learning how to be a healthy parent, and that meant only accepting healthy relationships for both my children and myself. This included learning how important it is to have mutually respectful and trusting relationships that demonstrate unconditional love and acceptance. I also had to learn healthy communication skills and boundaries so I could model those behaviors for my children and the health of my relationships going forward.
All of these skills and tools eventually brought me to a happier and healthier life, free of abusive relationships. I went to school and did the work, so to speak, and it paid off. I am now a healthy, empowered woman because of the hard work I put in.
If you are a survivor of abuse, what is next for you? Can you imagine a better life for yourself and your children? If I could do this, you can too. Take back your life, take back your power, and take back your individuality. You deserve a life free of abuse and full of hope and happiness. I wish you all the best on your healing journey.
ABOUT MANNETTE MORGAN:
Mannette Morgan is an inspirational speaker, author, and abuse survivor who is on a mission to stop the cycle of abuse in our society. After 30 years of intense self-work, she overcame her past trauma of emotional, sexual, and physical abuse along with powering through the limitations of her learning disability, dyslexia. A life coach certified through the Academy of Solution Focus Training and the American University of NLP, she has emerged as a leading voice among abuse survivors and today inspires others to rise above adversity and strive for a better life.
Her incredible story of survival and recovery is documented in the book Finding Your Voice.