Home » Ask the Therapist » How to Recover Your Life When Your Abuser Passes Away

How to Recover Your Life When Your Abuser Passes Away

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From the U.S.: I was abused mentally by a woman throughout my childhood into my adult years. This woman adopted me and groomed me as she had seen fit – that is into a housewife/sex kitten for my husband; which she picked out. It wasn’t that I complied because I wanted to please her, I was just too exhausted to defend myself any further because every time I made an attempt toward independence, she layered on the guilt or threatened. I won’t get into too much detail. But she was very manipulative, controlling, and cruel. I felt like she had repressed homosexual urges that she projected onto me. For example, during a family event she was ready to leave and refused to do so unless I kissed her on the mouth. In front of everyone. Even though I felt uncomfortable. (And made others uncomfortable.) She used to physically groom me for dates or meeting her male friends by doing my hair, makeup, and how I dressed.

I felt like a pet. Like she owned me. Life was hell.

Then one day, she died suddenly and I was free.

But I have no idea what to do with said freedom… How do you live your life freely when you spent your life being completely dominated by someone else? What should my next steps be?

How to Recover Your Life When Your Abuser Passes Away

Answered by on -


What you are reporting is not at all unusual for someone with your history. People (and animals) who have been systematically abused for many years often are at a loss when they are freed. Their self-confidence and self-esteem have been so diminished that they can’t figure out what to do next.

I encourage you to get into therapy. A therapist who specializes in trauma work will talk to you about a treatment plan that will help you find your own voice and your own path.

This is going to take some time. Please be patient with yourself and with the process.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How to Recover Your Life When Your Abuser Passes Away

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How to Recover Your Life When Your Abuser Passes Away. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 15 Jan 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.