Creating a plan to save you when your willpower is lowest (staying away from domestic abuse)
The greatest risk for many of us after we leave domestic abuse (an abusive relationship) is the risk that we will maintain difficult contact with our ex and for many of us, return to abuse.
Here are some essentials to put in place early, to avoid this risk:
1. Delete contact numbers and block routes of contact.
The GOGL programme really emphasises the importance of zero contact with abusive exes. The easiest way to initiate this is to remove not only their means of contacting you, but also your means of contacting them. Here's how:
Block their number.
If you can, change your number (so they can't use a friend's device or a new phone).
Block them on all social media accounts.
Even better, go off social media for a while or set up a secret account with a fake name just for your closest supporters to talk to you.
2. Plan to distract yourself.
Create a list of distraction activities, that you can dive into when you realise you are thinking about your ex too much:
Start a new TV show that you can binge watch at 2am, if necessary.
Start a journal where you can offload your thoughts, rather than cycling them in your head.
Take up exercise and do it when you feel most stressed (it helps to burn off stress).
Play music you love.
Learn a new skill (cooking, dancing.. whatever you can find YouTube videos that teach you) and practice when you know your head is stuck on your ex.
Load up the GOGL programme, and complete the daily lesson and reflection activities.
3. Plan for a change of mind:
Humans are irrational, we can spend £100 on a gym and never attend. We can leave our ex, know they were bad for us and then reach out. We have to plan to be reminded of why we left, to connect with the pain of our past lives when the pain of a lost love feels more real (it's an illusion!):
Explain to a friend that you may need help to be reminded of how bad it was, and call them when you feel you really have to contact your ex. Do this as often as needed! For some, it is many times per day at the start of their journey.
Write a good-bye letter to your ex - explain to them why you have to leave, for your own needs to be met. Explain how they hurt you. Explain how you deserve better. Fold it, put it near to your bed. Open it and read it when you start to question your decision and feel it makes sense to connect.
4. Plan for accessing support:
Keep a friend's or charity's contact number handy, to call when you feel at risk of reaching out to your ex. Don't make it difficult to reach out, make it easy.
5. Expect to miss your ex, a LOT... and/or to feel guilty or ashamed!
Recognise that the addiction of abuse feels like love, but it isn't. The GOGL programme details this for you, so that you can feel empowered. Missing your ex, feeling guilty, feeling ashamed... these are all vulnerabilities that our ex can exploit if we let them talk to us. Expect to need space, recognise that we can't contact our ex without the risk of abuse... and by risk, we mean - near certainty based on our past experience. Expect it, plan for it.
6. Plan to calm yourself.
Recognise emotions can be difficult to calm down, this is one of our first needs when we leave abuse. Here is a meditation to help, at this time. Use it when emotions are most chaotic:
There are more exercises in the meditations section of our App.
7. If you have children - use a contact arrangement app such as OurFamilyWizard, to discuss child related issues. This blocks other types of contact.