How to Rebuild Healthy Relationship Behaviors After Abuse

You can become intimate again.
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Abuse changes how you view relationships. Adopting new and healthy behaviors can help you prevent abuse in future relationships. You have the power to grow and develop whole, loving relationships. It may take time, but with effort you can find yourself reaping the rewards of healthy love and moving past abuse.

1 Relearn the Lingo

After being in an abusive relationship, you may find your view of healthy and unhealthy behaviors has changed. Abuse has the capacity to distort how you view your partner's actions. In the article "10 Keys to Healthy Relationships," the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition notes there are many things to look for in a post-abuse relationship, such a sense of individuality, mutual respect and honesty. When you are able to change how you view relationships and how you and your partner should treat each other, you can start creating healthier relationship behaviors.

2 Put up the Right Walls

Setting boundaries for yourself and others helps you maintain healthy relationship behaviors. This process involves deciding for yourself what is and isn't appropriate. In her article "How Self-Love and Boundaries Mix," Dr. Cheryl MacDonald notes that setting standards for yourself helps you start to gain control of your life again. Abusive partners often blur or erase boundaries and seek to take control from you, but when you have healthy boundaries, you can prevent this from happening. Set limits with your partner, such as dedicating a night to spend with friends, and communicate directly to help create healthy boundaries in your relationships.

3 Make a List, Check It Twice

Lists help you remain focused on things you need to change. You can use lists in many ways to help build healthy relationship behaviors. One way is to make a list of the behaviors you want to change and how you'll change them. For instance, if you feel you are too dependent on partners, set a goal to do something alone once a week to increase your self-confidence and independence. Another idea is to make a list of what you want in a relationship and what behaviors support that. If you want an honest relationship, being more honest is a behavior that promotes honesty from your partner. If you're feeling stumped, ask a friend or loved one for help, or think of what you'd want for them in their relationships and then apply that to yourself.

4 On the Doctor's Couch

Many people seek counseling services to help them transition to healthier relationships. Therapists are trained to help you develop new skills in relationships, but they also understand your history of abuse and can help you work through your difficult emotions about abuse. With professional help, you can make great improvements in your life, including implementing healthy relationship behaviors. If you choose to seek therapy, look for professionals who have training in abuse or trauma. Although all therapists are equipped with tools to help you, abuse therapists are particularly helpful in working with you to adopt new and healthy relationship behaviors.

S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.