RECOVERY USING THE HERMAN MODEL
the abusive patterns from the cultic relationship
long after the abuser is gone.
In some cases
the abuse is so deep that the patterns will be a
continual discovery years down the road. We are
not talking about flinching away from someone when
they raise their hand at you, which is something
that can be expected when a person is coming out
of an abusive relationship. We are talking about
patterns of behavior that appear to have no
connection to anything and are dismissed as odd by
In some cases my reaction to the
abuse I went through would have isolated me even
further if I did not have the unconditional love
in my life that I have now. We are talking about
heavy drinking, promiscuous behavior, controlling
tendencies, erratic mood swings, the appearance of
uncontrollable reactions, financial instability,
health issues, the list goes on.
ended up living exactly what my former partner had told
others that I was like -- unreliable, unstable,
Because I had been isolated
for years from people that loved me and knew me my
changes were shocking. The natural first reaction
is to distance oneself from a person that exhibits
these types of behaviors. This is exactly what the
abuser counts on. Some people will never be saved
from the abusive cycle because they are completely
abandoned by friends and family. Some will even
commit suicide and just end the pain. I'm lucky. I
am here to talk about what happened to me in the
According to Judith Herman M.D.
in the book, Trauma and Recovery " recovery
unfolds in three stages, the central task of the
first stage is the establishment of safety. The
central task of the second stage is remembrance
and mourning. The central task of the third stage
is reconnection with ordinary life."
model simplifies the complexity of the recovery
process. Everyone goes through their recovery in
different paces and steps but there are some very
core ways that this happens.
recommends, as the first step into the recovery
process is also similar to what the experts
recommend for someone coming out of a cult --
reconnection to family and friends. There is a
critical need to establish a safety net for the
person that has been through a cultic
From my own experience, I did
not want to make phone calls for help let alone
conversation. I did not know how to talk to people
anymore. My life seemed like such a mess. My
friends and family basically made a nuisance out
of themselves just to get me to connect.
friends and family saw someone that had
dramatically changed in less then two years as a
result of this relationship/marriage. My health
had deteriorated; I wasn't eating or sleeping
properly. I wasn't capable of taking care of
myself let alone my basic needs. Up to this point
my life consisted of doing whatever was possible
to not upset my former partner and to keep my commitments to
him. It is like I had forgotten how to care for
myself and I had to relearn how to even eat three
meals a day!
My friends and family had to step
in to help me. I did not see what I was doing to
myself. My thoughts were of the nature that I was
getting what I deserved. That I was cursed, no man
would want me because I was not only divorced
after a two year marriage but I was also lead to
believe that I could not have children. These were
issues that I was verbally battered with by
my former partner. Most likely at this point didn't take much
for me to believe this all of myself. I was
completely without "self" and was completely open
to whatever belief that my former partner wanted me to have.
In the next issue of Shattered Hearts I
will explore the second stage in recovery which is
remembrance and mourning.
May we begin the healing of our Shattered Hearts....