How to Love Yourself After Intimate Partner Violence

Love Yourself

With the month of February comes Valentine’s Day on February 14th, a day that is universally touted today as a time to celebrate our love life, how we are coupling with someone who adores us and is a constant in our lives, giving us unconditional love, honor and respect. The day often includes our special someone bringing us flowers, chocolates and other goodies to declare their undying LOVE for us!

For survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, February 14th can be a hard day to get through. It will only remind us of how “love” in at least one of our relationships turned into coercive control and manipulation and may have endangered us with physical and verbal abuse. That violence, trauma and abuse led us to leave that the relationship even if we truly still felt love for our partner – or thought we did. For others, the day may trigger us back to when a sexual act did not involve “lovemaking,” but it was a violent assault that caused us great physical and psychological pain and trauma.

So, what can survivors of violence, trauma and abuse do with Valentine’s Day?  I say let’s declare it our day to LOVE OURSELVES!  Forget feeling “less-than” because we aren’t in  relationship or attached to a significant other or even dating! We can do this! We have taken the incredible journey from victim to survivor to thriver and we are strong, independent women who love and celebrate ourselves each day.  Why should Valentine’s Day be any different? And if it is, then it’s the time to bring out the Thriver Survival Kit to remind us what we love about ourselves, our lives and our futures that keeps us thriving every day!

Healing after Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault

In Staying in the Thriver Zone: A Road Map to Manifest a Life of Power and Purpose, the second book in my Thriver Zone book trilogy, I have a chapter entitled “The Thriver Survival Kit” that includes some of the things that can help us on that “life-changing” healing journey from survivor to thriver. Many of us have used these tools, techniques and writing prompts over the years to keep ourselves loving our lives and reminding ourselves just how fabulous we are.  Try some of the exercises today or even after Valentine’s Day so you can love yourself and have a great life as a thriver!  And don’t forget to buy yourself some chocolates and flowers too!  You are worth it!


Working with women who have taken the journey from victim to survivor to thriver over the past twenty years facilitating the My Avenging Angel WorkshopsTM, I have been amazed at what keeps all of us thriving, even in the face of so many things that could easily distract or send us back to victimhood.

I ask women regularly, “What keeps you thriving? How do you keep the Thriver energy big, bold and bright in your life?” Below is what they have offered over the years, but this list is not exhaustive. You can add your own ideas of a time, place, thing or activity that can always bring you back into the Thriver ZoneThese are the things that can keep us calm and loving the life we have right now as well as looking forward to a great, amazing future.

Play music, soothing, playful, invigorating – depending on my mood.

Do knitting, crocheting.

Put together a jigsaw puzzle.

Have a cup of hot tea, cocoa. Read the Oprah magazine.

Eat biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, or ice cream.

Dig in the dirt, garden.

Get a massage, foot massage.

Do yoga.

Get some energy work done, such as reiki.

Spend time in solitude, silence.

Write in a journal.

Burn incense.

Put on a meditation tape. Play with pets.

Spend time with your partner.

Spend time with children, grandchildren.

Burn a candle or sage.

Pick an essential oil like lavender to calm and energize you.

Volunteer to work with teens, families and kids.

Tell funny stories, share jokes.

Watch movies – funny, romantic, adventure, travel. Cuddle a baby.

Go outside and look at the stars at night.

Look at rocks, seashells you collected at beach. Do scrapbooking.

Get some fresh flowers.

Go for a walk.

Get rid of household clutter.

Listen to the sound of ocean waves. Swim in a pool or in the ocean.

Listen to water in a fountain.

Revisit a good memory.

Look at photographs of good times. Take a day trip.

Get out of the house and enjoy nature.

Take a hike, go for a bike ride.


A poem doesn’t have to rhyme. It doesn’t have to be a certain length. It could even be only a few lines. What’s important is that it can calm you, inspire you, or help you work out a feeling or block of feelings in your mind.

I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing . . . is discovering. — Robert Frost

What is poetry? Here’s what a few poets have written about poetry.

The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say but what we are unable to say. – Anais Nin

A poem . . . begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness . . . It finds the thought and the thought finds the words.   – Robert Frost

If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.  – Emily Dickinson

What is prose? Any other kind of writing that isn’t poetry. It could be a short story, a novel, memory, or a journal entry.

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain and the noise of battle.  – John Cheever

Or it could be a prose poem. What is that? Almost universally, it is not agreed upon, but generally it is a poem that doesn’t rhyme or even have a format of a poem.

A good prose poem is a statement that seeks sanity whilst its author teeters on the edge of the abyss. – Russell Edson

I am regularly blessed with poetry and prose that the women I work with write to express themselves, express their gratitude to me, or just to let some of their feelings out. This  thriving stuff is hard work! Sometimes they need a break, and for some, writing is how they blow off steam or simply relax. Their writing is also very inspiring and transformational.

In any case, I am the recipient of some wonderful pieces that I’d like to share with you below. But first, why don’t you try the exercise?

PROMPT: Write a poem or a piece of prose that describes your journey, what energizes you on your journey, how you express your gratitude for where you are today on your journey – or whatever else comes out in the writing.  Here are some samples from the women I have worked with to inspire you in writing your own unique piece!

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I Did It My Way

by Christine

The sun’s on my face. My shadow still follows.

I held the sickle tightly as I sliced away the tall strands of hay.

Where is the path? Where is the way?

I need not follow. I need not stray.

I can lead them and show them the way.

But we all must take up our own sickles and cut our own path to lead the way.

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How I Know I Am a Thriver

by Adrienne

I know I am a thriver because I can look at myself the mirror and see a happy face! My eyes are blue again, and there is happiness there now where before there was only gray and sadness. Yes, that’s right my eyes have changed back to their God-given color – blue.

My journey has been long, a dozen years. How did I get here? Someone literally took me by the hand to guide me in my first step. At first, I was just a living, breathing body just getting through each day. Those who know can relate. We spend our days just getting by trying not to make our abusers angry, which is impossible, but we try with all our hearts anyway. We raise our children, keep house, make meals, and work but there is no joy and no emotion other than fear.

I know I am a thriver because I now feel joy when I wake up in the morning! Joy! Joy! Joy!

Joy to be alive, joy to work, joy to see my children grow to be adults.

I know I am a thriver because I see color in the world again! The world is a rainbow!

I know I am a thriver because I love my body! It is mine, not someone else’s to ravage and throw away when they are done with it. I had accumulated sixty pounds of protection which I no longer need and has slipped away. I feel beautiful!

I know I am a thriver because I am able to help others see their beauty! In the abusive situation I could not even help myself, but now I can help others on their journey, and this brings even more joy!

I know I am a thriver because I can laugh again. Not just any kind of laughter – rich belly laughter that oxygenates my brain and my soul, bringing more joy!

I know I am a thriver because I have a deep connection to God! I am connected to all living beings on earth; the angels told me. I see concrete signs of this connection every day!

I know I am a thriver because I am not afraid to dream again! I am the snake; I have shed the skin of fear of my dreams, and they come to me now and provide me messages of joy!

I know I am a thriver because I am grateful for everything in my life, all of it good and not so good. The challenges have helped me be more grateful for the abundance I have now.

I know I am a thriver because I have learned to forgive. Forgiveness of self is the highest mountain to climb; I am almost at the summit. Even forgiveness of the abuser is necessary to thrive. This is the teaching of God, and it is so.

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Looking for Healing

by Tennille

When I met Susan and attended one of her My Avenging Angel Workshops,TM I was looking for healing.

The experience was great. I have never been to a workshop like this before. We were all there for the same thing; however, our personal experiences were never discussed. There was an unspoken bond that was created by just being in the same room, having the same pain and victories.

The work I did that day has given me more healing and strength and courage. It has “awakened” in me my fears and goals. Now I can face, embrace, and grace them. I pray that each woman that is in need will somehow stumble onto these workshops – they are so motivational! I am in therapy, but this workshop is an addition to me being on the road to recovery; it was so beneficial to me.

I love Susan, and I ask God to keep blessing her and letting her fight the good fight for all of us!

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Rome was not built in a day. Some days, I take other roads to build Rome.

I take leaps forward; other days I slip and slide backward.

But I do not look backward; I only look forward.

The chains no longer hold me. I no longer feel them, nor do I hear them.

It is the dawn of a new day; I hear the birds chirping.

The darkness is gone. Bright days are ahead.

– Susan P.

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Thriver (noun)

by Jenny

1) A woman with a known fascination with glitter glue committed to making the world a more beautiful place.

2) One who progresses toward or realizes her goals despite circumstances.

3) A person who flourishes and prospers.

4) Someone who has mastery over her inner critic and celebrates the happy person inside her.

Examples:   Wow, those thrivers sure know how to decoupage.

That thriver is going to change the world.

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 The journey into the miraculous begins here. Now is the best time to start.  — Deepak Chopra

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