Divorce is known as the 2nd most traumatic life experience we go through, after the death of a loved one. But divorcing a difficult person is a whole different ball game from breaking up from someone who, despite the tension and arguments over who gets the piano and the kitchen table, wants to come to a fair outcome for both of you.

If your ex wants to annihilate you, make you suffer and would be happy to see you end up with as little as possible then your breakup has much more added stress and pressure.  The good news is that there are some key things you can do to help you on this emotional rollercoaster.

I often refer to abusive partners as “difficult”. To be very clear this is in no way to diminish the abuse. It’s a technique I use to reduce the impact on you. It helps you disengage and dial down the control they exert and the negative impact on you.

Firstly it’s important to know that if you have been in an abusive relationship it is not your fault. You are also not alone as this is more common than you may think as 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men and 1 in 5 children experience domestic abuse in the UK.

Love bombing is a technique used to lure you into these toxic relationships with extravagant displays of love, gifts, compliments, grandiose promises and gifts. You fall in love with who you think they are and then over time the mask starts to slip and you see behaviours that you would never have fallen for if they were obvious on day one. These include lies, bullying, gaslighting (confusing behaviour), controlling behaviour, a constant need for praise and attention and never accepting blame.

Unfortunately these traits don’t disappear when you divorce them, so be prepared for all these behaviours to show up. There are things you can do to help protect yourself emotionally from your ex.

  1. Get clarity on what abuse is so you can understand what you are dealing with.
  2. Create your Breakup Support Team of friends and family who you trust and who have your best interests at heart and will be there for you when you need support.
  3. Learn about difficult people and how they operate. Often it can be empowering to know that they follow certain patterns that you can learn to spot and prepare for.
  4. Lower your expectations of them as the difference between what you hope they will do and the reality of what they actually do is hurt, disappointment and pain for you.
  5. Know that you are not alone and this is not your fault. 
  6. Stop using your ex’s full name. A name carries a lot of emotion and can trigger upset and hurt. Use their first initial so if their name is Robert or Rachel it would be R …although not a capital letter a teeny weeny r! Use this when speaking or writing or texting and ask your friends to do it too.
  7. Choose your legal team carefully. Make sure you pick a lawyer who understands domestic abuse and has experience in working with clients in similar situations.
  8. Self care is very important as divorcing a difficult person can be all consuming. Take long walks in calm places like a park or by the sea. Look up while you are walking and focus on your surroundings. Plan some fun into your week to help you get your sparkle back.
  9. Start to focus on planning your future and what you will do with your new found freedom. Think about it as a way to redesign your life just the way you want it now. 
  10. Detox out the people and things that you don’t want in your life anymore and put in lots more of those you do.