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You're likely to feel angry and want revenge when you realise your ex-partner abused you.
However, an explosive reaction is playing right into their hands.
The best thing you can do is live your best life, and show how much stronger you are without them.
Getting dumped by your partner is painful. It's even more devastating when that partner was abusive.
It can take a while after a break-up to realise the damage your toxic ex-partner was doing to you. However, once you do understand what happened to you, you're likely to be angry, hurt, or even jealous of their new relationships.
As tempting as it might be to try and seek revenge in some way — or warn their future partners of their real personality — the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. After all, if they abused you, they got off on their power over you, so any reaction from you now will be exactly what they want.
According to Perpetua Neo, a doctor of psychology and therapist, any reaction you make will also feed their ego.
"Regardless of whether you react with affection and sentiment, or anger and resentment at your abusive ex-partner, any response is positive for them," she told Business Insider. "Think of it this way — any sort of energy is feeding the trolls. And you want to consciously choose not to do that, knowing they will do anything to get you to respond."
Rather than letting your anger get the better of you by sending angry messages, let it fuel you to do the things that would have otherwise made your ex angry.
Neo said in order to ignore the temptation to react, you should make a conscious effort to live your best life ever.
"I love the quote in 'The Scarlet Letter,' 'She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom,'" she said. "Ask yourself, 'What freedoms was I deprived of?' And revel in them. It could be as simple as wearing mascara again or taking selfies."
Something therapists recommend after a toxic relationship is "no contact." This means no contact at all. No texts, no calls, and certainly no meeting up with your ex. You should also delete them off all social media.
Be prepared for theatrics
Sometimes, the abusive ex might try and get you back by playing the victim, or telling you they will change — be prepared for them to try anything to get a response out of you. If they don't leave you alone, you may need a restraining order — especially if they were physically abusive.
"He may be trying to bait you back that way by posting pictures of other women, posting sentimental 'I am so sorry for what I've done, give me a chance' stuff, or sounding pathetic like the victim drinking his life away so you'll feel bad," Neo said. "Lock those profiles down — block him, delete him, unfriend him. Think about any attention you give him as feeding the trolls — even mentally."
The stronger you get, the less chance there is you'll gravitate back towards the person that hurt you. You might find yourself aching to get back with them, but this will fade in time. It's simply because they gaslighted you into thinking you didn't deserve better.
"Doing is believing," Neo said. "You've shown yourself that no matter what the trauma bonding or Stockholm Syndrome is doing to you, you have busted those patterns and rewired your brain and body towards your new life."
Ultimately, the best "revenge" you can get on your ex who mistreated you is becoming your best self.
"He wanted to see you weak, small, and subordinate; he said you'd be useless without him," Neo said. "Even though he tried to destroy you, you've turned the tables and instead created an awesome life courtesy of the lessons from what he did to you. That will piss him off royally."