How to Overcome Fear Caused by Abuse

March 25, 2013 Kellie Jo Holly

The fear caused by abuse is an emotion that can stick with you during abuse and after the abusive relationship is over too. One of the hardest things to look at during or after an abusive relationship is the mental and emotional damage the abuse caused in us. We remember who we were before the abuse and may feel like a sad shell of that person after it. It is scary and heart-breaking. You may feel more defenseless, helpless and hopeless than before you knew your partner abused you. After all, now you fight your mind as well as the abuse your (ex) partner inflicts.

You will never change your partner. You are already their target for abuse, and once you are the target it is difficult if not impossible to change back into "you" in their eyes. However, you can change yourself. You can change your thoughts, your feelings, and the way your brain is wired. But remember, although "change" is something that can happen to you, if you want to heal from abuse, change must be something you DO.

Whether you're still in the abusive relationship or out of it, the idea of "doing" anything may seem overwhelming. You experienced trauma. Your emotions are worn out. Your brain hurts. Fear takes over your thoughts and feelings. You feel as if you've used all of your strength and can't do one more thing. Other people can do a lot to help you, but no one can take away the pain and fear but you.Your support network can stand beside you, encourage you, help you to grow. But they cannot do the hard work of changing you into the person you want to become.

How to Overcome the Effects of Abuse

Convince Your Heart

The effects of abuse can be devastating but you can overcome the effects of abuseAfter realizing you are abused, the first challenge you face is convincing yourself that your abuser will not change. You "know" it from the books you've read, but there's a difference between knowing it in your head and knowing it in your heart. Your brain cannot convince your heart of anything - your heart must get on board with your brain for the process to work. Here are a couple of ways I nurtured my aching heart along:

I translated my abuser's garbage talk - I heard my husband say, "You are making my sons weak! You're turning them into lesser men than me!" but I listened to my brain. My brain said, "He wants to manipulate me by using our children. He wants me to believe my parenting hurts our boys. I know these are lies. He wants me to take them out of therapy so he regains control over their thinking."

I watched what he did instead of taking to heart what he said - Promises to change, promises to remember my birthday next year, promises to spend more time with our boys. All broken. Only words. I wrote down what he promised, leaving space for the date he broke that promise. The only promise he never broke?..."I will not change."

Take on Your Fear: Play the What-If Game to the End

You will be afraid. You will fear the future, your partner, and that you won't be able to do what your heart says to do. You must face those fears, erase as many as you can with plans, and step forward believing you are doing the right thing for you.

You can use "trust in yourself" as an antidote to fear. They're similar emotions - at this point you don't know for sure if either of them are justified, so it makes sense to pit them against each other. You can trust in yourself to do the best possible thing if the unexpected happens just as easily as you can fear the unexpected.

Write out a safety plan and indulge in the "What-If Game" - Fear feeds on the question "What if...?" Show fear you've got what it takes to overcome it. Here's a sample conversation with myself:

What if he stalks me? ... Then you will document when and where you see him, hear him, or run into him. You will collect evidence for a restraining order.

What if the restraining order makes him more dangerous? ... You will assume he will be more dangerous after receiving the order. While gathering your evidence, you will notice where you are most vulnerable and make plans for how to decrease your vulnerability.

What if he is hiding in my car? ... Girl, you will always check your car (underneath and inside!) before you get into it.

What if I don't see him in the car and he slits my throat? ... How would you not see him? Lights off in the garage? Keep them on. He's hiding under a blanket? Don't leave blankets in the car. Girl, the only way he's going to slit your throat in your car is if you don't do your safety checks! (The "What-If" game ends and you make a checklist for safety before getting into your car.)

Not getting a restraining order because you think your partner might slit your throat is ... backwards. Fear makes you do backwards things. Facing fear head on keeps you safer and more in control if the bad things happen.

Convincing your heart and challenging your fears go a long way toward ending the effects of abuse on your mind and heart. These steps help you to detach from your abuser whether you still live with them or not. Detachment, or objectively viewing your relationship with your (ex) abuser, helps you regain control of yourself.

Listen to your abuser's words with your brain, keep track of their broken promises, and challenge your fear with solid planning. You can do this. There are more tricks you can use to soothe the pain - How did you overcome disbelief and fear?

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2013, March 25). How to Overcome Fear Caused by Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

13 year old kid
October, 3 2022 at 5:42 pm

i have been phisacly abused and mentley with in volving rape

October, 5 2022 at 11:19 am

Hello, I am Cheryl Wozny, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog. I want to thank you for reaching out for help. It takes a lot of courage to do that. I am sorry that you are facing abuse, and I encourage you to try exploring our resources page… for hotlines and agencies that can help you. Although I do not know what area you reside in, this page has resources all over the world. If you need immediate assistance, you can also text the word HOME to 741741 and be in contact with someone who can provide some help. I am glad you are making the decision to find help for yourself, you are never alone in your journey.

March, 27 2019 at 4:11 pm

I have been in physically abusive relationships for 5 years. It all ended three years ago when he almost killed me. For a long period of time before leaving him I wanted to leave but always came back (they say one must leave for 7 times and only then it is for real). It took me three years to get back on my feet, to feel ok again. Yes, I do experience really bad finansial situation and circumstances are not the best but not rven a one single time I have thougt it was not the right decision. I thank myself for courage and patience to live through the hard times after divorce so I can be myself again! They will never change. The only thing you can do -leave. Sooner - better.

March, 25 2019 at 6:37 pm

For me personally being abused by my father really was hard for me. I got away from him about 2 years ago and now I'm 20. There were ways and ways that I use now to help me overcome the after effects of abuse? I see my abuse as something that was supposed to happen, something God allowed for a reason. It's made me into a very compassionate person and given me a strong spirit. I see it as a motivator for me. The fact that I got abused and pushed around made me hungry for success. It's left this fire inside me to overcome things and do what's right. How I did it was just to tough it out. Get good grades, run track, fight through things. Face fears continually, and to make sure that I become an amazing person because of it. It's taught me so many life lessons it's amazing. It's made want to make something big of my life and should do the same for you. Your only weak if you let your fears and feelings own you, how you acted around the abuser was understandable and now it's time to make something of your life no matter what.

February, 26 2019 at 5:24 pm

I was abused started out emotionally turned into physically. It's been two years since everything happened. I have a restraining order against him but now it's almost up. I've been trying to not be afraid, it doesn't work. I'm losing sleep because I've had nightmares of what would happen. What I want to know how long will it take to get me to feel safe again?

May, 21 2018 at 3:48 am

I just left my abuser for the second time. When I met him in 2014, he was so sweet and loving, then when I started to fall for him, he started to be emotionally abusive, he would leave and drink, not come back or I'd he did come back, I would be terrified to be hit, kicked, bit, thrown around. The first time I left was in the beginning of 2017, he chased me down in my vehicle and smashed into the back of me in the most public place in our little town. I put a restraining order on him but in court, he told the judge that he loves me and he would never hurt me. About 3 months later, his closest uncle died, I made the huge mistake of calling him and giving myself back to him. It was the same treatment. I felt like I had a little bit of control over his drinking, by threatening to leave if he went out. But that didn't last very long. He started drinking heavy and using cocaine in Jan 2018. It was a lost cause from there. A few weeks ago, he didn't come home. I packed up myself and the kids and we left. It was his house, me and the kids are currently staying at my moms, where tonight, I got woken up by my sister being drunk. It makes me feel like relapsing and going back. I even texted him tonight and told him how shitty he is to choose alcohol and drugs over me. Then I googled how to cope, and I realized that I shouldn't have done that because all the abuse that he gives to me and my children is far worse then my sister coming home drunk and loud. I'm grateful for things like this being available to read, it's part of my support system. I pray every day that I stay away and the wounds are still very fresh so it is still very hard for me to stay away. I'm trying.

February, 11 2024 at 6:31 pm

I am so proud of you for trying, you need to do what best for you and your children. Nothing that's worth it is ever easy. You will overcome the feeling of wanting to return to him once you realize how much better off you are on your own. You need to remind yourself everyday that you deserve better, you would want a better partner for your children, you deserve the same.

November, 27 2017 at 7:44 pm

He beat me... he cheated on me for fun and blamed me for it. I remember him, his family and friends saying that I wasn’t the prettiest girl he’s been if he was doing me a favor. Lies, spending my hard earned money, having other women in my car and public embarrassment... the whole 9 yards. I got him arrested and went bk, took him to court and went back. He had a grip on my family , my siblings adored him so detaching was hard. I just needed to be strong enough to walk away... it is hard but I’m way better than before. Being abused weakens your heart and spirit so prepare to fight hard to save yourself

Mary-Ann Britskey
August, 31 2016 at 12:22 pm

You are exactly right. I am a former Family Law Clerk and should have known better. It took me 2 years to get out of the mess and a huge financial loss. Back on my own safe and sound Going forward is the only way to be happy.

August, 7 2016 at 11:59 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been a victim of abuse, I tolerated it for four (4) years hoping he would change, but it doesn't change, it just gets worse. You're the one that has to change, you have to realize that being mistreated, disrespected and abused is not LOVE. He/she will put a hell of a spin on it, make you think maybe you are at fault, but don't believe it. Don't walk, RUN and do not look back....and please when you decide to move on and walk away do NOT LET HE OR SHE KNOW IT, JUST DO IT. Once you have gone, give yourself the best life possible, remember the best revenge is SUCCESS, build yourself up, be good to yourself. I know you will remember good times you had with him or her, but you were dealing with their representative, not the real person,. think about it, if your loved one showed you his or her true colors in the beginning you would not have given a second look. They know this, that's is how they get us. Be strong, you know what feels right and wrong. Find your strength and move on. God bless......

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 11 2019 at 1:09 am

Thank you, your words are what I needed this morning
Overcoming fear from terror is real!
Thank you for your encouraging words

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 12 2020 at 7:38 am

Thanks for this 💙

May, 16 2016 at 4:33 pm

Back in high school for on and off about a year or two I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. It started out small, getting me to ignore my friends, talk to him 24/7, and make him my only companion. then it got worse telling me about how other girls were more attractive than me, what girls he would date if we broke up. I know most would say thats crazy you should have left then, but thats the issue, I never wanted to be one of "those girls" the ones who are jealous of every girl sadly thats honestly what I've become. He started cheating oh me with one of my good friends, told me, and told me it was my fault. If I tried breaking up with him he'd threaten suicide and going as far as to show me the scars where he cut himself. I didn't want him to die and i didn't want his death on my hands so i'd take him back. If we fought he'd grip my arm tightly and yank me back, he'd back me into walls, and at one point held me down so tightly it took all my strength to get away. I was able to break up with him for awhile and begged my friends to help but all of them shrugged it off and left me to fend for myself, he later cornered me in the courtyard and tried to kiss me. He yanked me out of my classroom once and my teacher thankfully stepped in. In the end I got away but i still am trying to fix issues I have from it even after that relationship i've had several ex's cheat on me making my paranoia of women around my bf horrible i'm insanely jealous for fear of being cheated on again, I'm quick to verbally fight if a bf says something to make me feel hurt, accidentally or not, and will be upset for a few days about it, I have a bad habit of talking 24/7 to a bf and though I try not to I'm so used to it it's hard to stop. I know I'm not fully better but i'm better than I was after first leaving. Im afraid i'll never find normal since i really don't know how normal works.

May, 14 2016 at 3:38 pm

I left also from a very dangerous relationship, Got beat every day for nearly eight year's... Believing i could change a person and make them love me that dosent happen, you cant change anyone you can only change yourself and your situation... If a man hits you one time just once,
One time LEAVE! It only get's worse from there it will continue to happen, it dosent change i promise whoever is reading this that! I have to walk around in fear all day long have anxiety problems out of this world now, I Think everyone is my enemy... What did help me alot is getting back into keeping god's word i try to read it as often as possible everyday, That's really been a HUGE HELP TO ME... And putting no one before him, He give's us his word to keep us safe and out of harm's way, We should trust in him and not our own feeling's. This world is dangerous he tells us how to cope in an evil world and stay safe, he also heal's the broken hearted... Start trusting him today so he can completly heal you mentally, and emotionally, Abuse like the article say's hurt's your mind and heart let god heal it today!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 4 2017 at 3:53 pm

Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. I am in the aftermath of severe emotional and some physical abuse. Knowing that God's word will help my mind heal is something I've been thinking. Hearing you confirm that made me know I have hope if I turn to him and trust him for intuition and wisdom and healing. I hope you are doing well. I am going to pray for you sister. Much love to you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 31 2021 at 12:00 am

Best advice on the constant fear. God feels like the only way to calm this. Thank you for the reminder that I am not alone and I am loved by Him who protects and strengthens me!

January, 23 2016 at 9:15 pm

I have been in two bad relationships the first one I had two kids to him and verbally physically and emotionally abuse me and I tried to just hide it all in for my kids and had a pda put on him then my place started being destroyed and I had nosey neighbors and they started to involve thereselves because the one guy had the hots for me and before you know it they wiped my house clean and there relations moved in and also had a marriage planned out for me and all and then someone had the pda removed from my past relationship and the second man did the same thing to be I have became homeless quite a few times lose lots of years of my life and still having problems seeing and talking to my kids lost custody of both of my kids first my oldest then my youngest and had moved everytime because of abuse dither from my kids and scared half to dealth to put a pfa on both of them and in what so called a marriage and with the first realtionship to they both have cheated on me . and filed a for a divorce years ago and still has not been final

September, 26 2015 at 1:30 am

I was in a abusive relationship. Even after we broke up. The rat lied & cheated on me from the start. Used me for money & Sex like I was a whore. Told me to put money in his letter box if I wanted him to be my friend. I had to bring him smokes. I was called everything under the sun for no reason. All I done was call him. It became such a big issue. The guy is a ice, gambling, alcoholic, lying, cheating, junkie. I lost my family, friends, job, money, self respect & dignity. He would tell me to go to his house & not shower then not answer the door & then an hour later send me a msg to F off. Called me a stalker but told me to go to his house. The rat put me down & made me beg & chase him. Told me he wants to be a player coz he misses being a player. Should've told me that from the start before he used & abused me.

September, 16 2015 at 5:57 am

Jackie you just described the exact situation I got out of a few days ago. The feeling is still raw. He called me fat, a slob, every curse word under the sun and names I can't even repeat. Why do I still love this person? I need to move on I know this but I need help.

June, 17 2015 at 4:57 am

Thank you for this atricle.
I have been in a verbally abusive relationship for nearly 5 years and its finally come to an end. I found that the hardest part for me is rediscovering myself. I feel as if i am not anywhere near the person i was. After hearing i was a fat, ugly, sloppy, bitch, hoe, bad mom, and every other name under the sun , it began to take a toll on me. I am a fiery strong individual and i just rolled it off my shoulders in the beginning, slowly but surely i began to wonder am i really this horrible person? I began to let it get to me. I know I am a great mother and a beautiful person, i know in my head i am none of those things. But it still effected me, my self esteem withered away. Now i am at a point where i need to find my spunk again and reclaim myself. I do not want to identify as a victim, i want to simply be myself. A new start is hard but it is necessary when your partner is unwilling to change. I waited 5 years for it to change and it never did. If you feel manipulated, put down, unappreciated, & walk on egg shells, then do yourself a favor and leave. Its hard, but like the article said, the what ifs can be answered with a solution. I just got out of the situation, and a huge weight has been lifted off my chest, and i feel as if i can truly begin to heal and be myself. Yes i may cry, you get used to a lifestyle with someone but i know i can do it! I did it before them and im older and wiser and i can do it now!!! & so can you. Uplift yourself every chance you get, anytime you start putting yourself down counteract it!!!! Dont become your own abuser. I struggled with this and eveytime i doubt my self im right there with all the reassurance i need. You are your biggest cheerleader! Good luck ladies i hope this article helped you, as it did me.

May, 19 2015 at 4:46 pm

I have taken a lot of garbage from [my abuser - name removed by admin]. He keep s lieing that he goes on naked lady website's. The last time was enough, I grabbed Hes clothes and throw it down.
Then he throw me on the floor. I was devastated, and called 911.
The police came and put him outside with the police. I told the police what happened.
They asked me if I wanted to arrested. I was doubtful and scared. I said that I don't want to arrested. Then he came and brang his family.
I thought we could talk but he decided to make me more scared. He left cold and said ,you called the police. I feel damaged and ugly for what he did. I don't know how to get over this and feel ver insecure and depressed. Also he said that those girls on those sights look better then me.
What do I do about it? Thank you

September, 24 2014 at 4:30 am

I was assigned the scapegoat role in my family at age 4, and endured a lot of verbal and emotional abuse as well. Secretive abuse that doesn't leave physical scars so things look fine on the outside. As a child you have nothing to compare to, so you accept that you deserve to be treated like that. And then later in life, you're "blind" going into relationships--unable to see you're being abused until it's too late. Even now, standing up for myself and helping myself feel unnatural and uncomfortable, but I force myself to do it.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 7 2019 at 11:12 am

Same here. I was abused as a child with my parents. Abused with the people i trusted. I got pregnant at 13 after that i always hear my Dad " Just Die Slut" . After having a baby they sent me to work as a camgirl . Now Im married, unhealthy marriage. He calls me names, slap me in public and never plan about our future as a family. He talks down about me make me feel worse about my self. Forcing me to do things I am not comfortable doing in bed. It's horrible. Now i am realizing that the abuse you went thru from your parents is gonna make you feel your comfort zone with someone else if your not gonna be aware of what people have done to you is wrong and you deserve to live in a Secure, Happy, Full of positivity life. There is a way out . I am 25 now , just woke up from reality. It's 10 years of continues cycle of abuse from Parents to Husband.

August, 14 2014 at 3:10 pm

I'm currently in a relationship where calling me names like *b%$#H* and slut, is "ok" to him in the mist of an argument. I'm tired of being treated this way, not to mention he has cheated on me numerous times(one being our co-worker). I found out about all his indisgrstions when I was eight months pregnant, which left me devastated. I do love him/ want my WHOLE FAMILY, but I also want to be happy. Being 22 and losing my father to a sudden heart attack, I imagined my life soo diffrently. I need advice PLEASE!!!

June, 20 2013 at 11:11 pm

I love you idea of the what if game. It allows the person to play out every possible situation they can think of, and plan a way to get out of it. It also helps the Victim take control back into their hands.

June, 14 2013 at 4:46 am

My son who is 38 embezzeled 44,000 out of my trust account and lied about it then confessed he had taken the money. I was left pennyless and homeless and lost everything. I now need a lawyer to get the bank records to proceed.The bank manger is glad to cooperate when a lawyer request bank records This happened IN BC Canada, Help needed

April, 1 2013 at 9:47 am

The person who verbally abused me is my mother. When I was little, there was always some verbal criticism, always something negative about me. As an adult I talked to her about it and she apologised, but to me, I still feel the effects in my low self esteem. My mother's apology was a good thing, but I still distance myself from her, because it came about 25 years too late for the effects to be reversed. I will never fully trust or forgive her. I simply don't think about it anymore, but the mother-daughter relationship she wants us to have will never happen because instead of setting up a loving bond from the beginning, she spent my formative years berating, criticising, insulting, ignoring and belittling me, offering no love or comfort to offset the damage she was doing to my sense of self.

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