In 2018, the UK’s ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales elucidated that, from the age of 16, 26.3% of women have experienced domestic abuse. If you focus in on the prevalence of emotional and psychological abuse perpetuated against women by their partners, this statistic increases to 36%.
If you’ve experienced this type of abuse at any point in your life and have escaped from such a relationship, then, first of all, well done for taking the steps necessary to protect yourself. It takes immense bravery to acknowledge your own experience as valid and muster the courage to end the relationship, with your brain constantly plaguing you with thoughts that maybe you were the one at fault, or that you’ve made up or exaggerated the abuse in your mind.
Once you’ve ended the relationship, however, instead of feeling jubilation, the sudden loss of your partner whilst remaining in the home you shared together can trigger negative, PTSD-like memories and flashbacks – particularly if there are any physical reminders of aggression in your home.
One of the first steps of recovery, in addition to seeking help from your GP and/or a therapist, is to consider changing your immediate environment so that it reflects the next stage of your life.
Comfort Above All Else
After what was probably an extended period of time feeling as though you’re treading on eggshells in your own home, your priority in changing your home should be to place comfort above all else. Whilst the word ‘comfort’ evokes different ideas for different people, a couple of things that most would agree on would be squashy furnishings, a softer colour palette, and warmth. So, this means investing in lots of cushions and blankets, (whether you buy new or second-hand) as well as adding a lick of paint with complementary, pastel-coloured features.
Another image often associated with comfort is a roaring, crackling fire, so it might be worthwhile investing in a fireplace as the centrepiece of your living-room. Searching for fireplaces London will help you to identify exactly what it is you want and match a design to your personal aesthetic.
Out with the Old, in with the New
Nothing is worse than coming across constant reminders of an ex-partner as you go about your day-to-day routine; even more so if your partner was abusive towards you. In addition to ridding your home of pictures of them, and cards and gifts from them (enlist help from trusted loved ones if you find this too difficult to combat alone), it would be worthwhile throwing out or selling any ornaments or items of furniture that the two of you bought together or shared. Facebook Marketplace is a wonderful place not only to sell unwanted things, but also to identify decent replacements at bargain prices, as are local branches of the British Heart Foundation.
Old items are replete with painful memories so, although this may be a difficult task, it will inevitably do wonders for your mental health and well-being.
Preserving Your Peace
Regardless of how long you were in the relationship – a few months or a few years – your sense of peace and safety will have been seriously impacted. When redecorating your home, it’s important to bear in mind your need for peace and tranquillity after a tumultuous experience.
Decorating your home with an abundance of leafy green plants, peace lilies, seascape and landscape images, and soft textures will all aid in this preservation of peace. For those experiencing nightmares as a result of the trauma, a dreamcatcher or two (even if just symbolic) will help to aid your feeling of safety in your home – as will changing the locks.
Be proud of the progress you have made and never forget the amazing strides you have taken in recognising and escaping the abusive cycle. The journey will be bumpy, but you can help ease the road ahead by making a few key tweaks to your home.