How do I overcome the nightmare from the domestic violence of a past relationship?

I am a survivor of domestic violence from a past relationship. Even after seven years, I still have horrible nightmares. I wake up in sweat, and the dreams feel so real.

Candice Conroy, MA
Candice Conroy, MA
Find relief from anxiety, depression, and trauma.

Nightmare are actually very common for survivors of domestic violence. If they are affecting you the the point where you feel like you need to do something, you may want to consider processing your memories of the events with a trained trauma therapist. Another good option, may be to attend a support group for survivors where you could process your memories in a safe space where others will be able to provide support and understanding for what you went through as well as encouragement for the strength it took you to get out of that relationship. You may also want to consider completing a screening or assessment to rule out post-traumatic stress disorder as well.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Robin Landwehr, DBH, LPCC, NCC
Robin Landwehr, DBH, LPCC, NCC
Mental Health in a Primary Care Setting

Hello, and thank you for your question. First things first, I am so glad that you are alive and very sorry that you had to endure such a terrible experience. Now, let's talk about these nightmares. The first thing I want to tell you is that you are NOT losing your mind. Many people start to think that may be the case if they are still suffering from the affects of something that happened a long time ago. That's not the case. There is no time set time for which we should be "over" something like this.

I am not sure if you received counseling after what happened to you, but that may be something to consider. Bad nightmares could be the sign of something like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which would include other symptoms like being startled easily, re-experiencing the event, or avoiding places that remind you of it. There are other symptoms, as well, so if you believe this may be something you have you may want to seek counseling. There are good treatments for PTSD.

If you cannot seek counseling at this time, there are some things you can do to try to manage the dreams on your own. I would encourage you to look up "sleepy hygiene" and try to make your bedtime rituals as relaxing as possible. You can also Google search "Nightmare re-scripting" or "Nightmare Exposure" and get some ideas on how you may be able to change your dreams. It may be a good idea to attend a domestic violence support group and get ideas from other survivors who no doubt have had sleep problems related to their experiences, too.

Hope this was helpful. Be well.

Robin J. Landwehr, DBH, LPC, NCC

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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