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Decontaminating After Domestic Abuse: Removing Traces of Violence from the Home

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Decontaminating After Domestic Abuse: Removing Traces of Violence from the Home

Introduction

Enduring domestic abuse leaves deep emotional and physical scars. Even after escaping the relationship, traces of the abuse can linger painfully. I found myself constantly encountering objects, smells and memories that triggered flashbacks and kept the abuse alive in my mind. Decontaminating my home of these traces was an important step in the healing process. This article provides in-depth information on removing remnants of domestic violence from your personal space.

Deep Cleaning as Therapy

A deep cleanse of my home was like therapy. Meticulously scrubbing away blood stains, threw out belongings damaged during rages, and eliminating any reminder of my abuser gave me a sense of control. Taking charge of my environment enabled me to start taking charge of my life again.

I enlisted help from a few trusted friends. Working together was therapeutic. They understood when emotions surfaced and provided comfort when memories were triggered. Having support is crucial when decontaminating after domestic abuse.

Start By Removing or Replacing Larger Items

It was empowering yet difficult to begin discarding larger items like furniture, decor and appliances. Seeing constant reminders of the relationship kept the abuse alive in my mind. Eliminating these objects allowed me to start mentally freeing myself.

  • Furniture – Couches, chairs, tables, bed frames. Anything damaged during violent episodes had to go.
  • Decor – Artwork, mirrors, lamps, etc damaged or thrown during rages were removed.
  • Appliances – I replaced appliances he broke like microwaves and televisions.
  • Mattress – His presence lingered in the bed we shared. I bought a new mattress.
  • Electronics – Computers, phones and other devices were wiped, donated or replaced.

Removing larger items first created space to work and made the rest of the process less overwhelming.

Deep Clean Surfaces

Thoroughly cleaning all surfaces in my home was the most time consuming and emotionally draining stage. Meticulously scrubbing away evidence of him, his presence, his abuse and my pain was traumatic yet absolutely necessary for me to move forward.

Walls and Floors

  • I patched and repainted walls damaged during violent incidents.
  • Carpets were cleaned or replaced if blood or other stains remained visible.
  • Hard floors were mopped and steamed clean.

Eliminating visual evidence of the abuse gave me hope.

Furniture

All remaining furniture was thoroughly cleaned.

  • Upholstered items were vacuumed, spot cleaned and steamed.
  • Wood surfaces were washed down and polished.
  • I performed a deep cleaning of the new mattress and bedding.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms required extensive scrubbing.

  • Showers, tubs, sinks – I used a mold killing cleaner and scrubbed away all soap scum and stains.
  • Toilets – The bowls, seats, tanks and bases were descaled and disinfected.
  • Mirrors and tile – Glass cleaner removed smudges and steam cleaned grout.
  • I bleached and disinfected all textiles like mats and shower curtains.

For weeks after, just entering the bathroom triggered memories. But each clean surface represented progress.

Kitchen

The kitchen also needed extensive work.

  • Counters, cabinets, appliances – I used all purpose cleaner and thoroughly washed every surface.
  • Sinks – I descaled and scrubbed away stains with a mold killing cleaner.
  • The stove, oven, fridge were descaled, disinfected and deodorized.
  • I washed the floors and used bleach on grout lines.

The kitchen eventually became my favorite room – a space to nurture myself.

Purge Closets and Storage

Sorting through storage areas dredged up difficult memories attached to items. But filling trash bags with this emotional baggage lifted a weight off my shoulders.

  • Clothes – Anything torn or stained during abuse went straight into garbage bags.
  • Shoes and accessories – I donated or tossed items he purchased or touched.
  • Coats and linens – These absorbed scents and memories, so I replaced them.
  • Documents and books – I shredded and recycled anything from the relationship.
  • Photos and albums – Destroying our photos provided closure.
  • Knickknacks – Figurines, souvenirs and decorations all left.

My new closets and empty drawers represented a fresh start.

Scrub Away Scents and Residue

Smells often triggered flashbacks and emotions. Eliminating scents associated with him or the abuse was key.

  • I washed all fabrics – clothing, upholstery, linens – in hot water mixed with vinegar to remove odors.
  • Carpets and rugs were shampooed using a pet odor remover.
  • I left baking soda for several days on upholstery then vacuumed.
  • Mattresses were sprinkled with baking soda and vacuumed.
  • I placed bowls of coffee grounds in closets and drawers to absorb odors.

Gradually his presence faded from the very walls and air. My space was reclaimed.

Remove Technology Traces

It was crucial to ensure he no longer had access to me digitally. I performed a reset of devices, accounts and smart home tools.

  • Smart home devices – I reset and replaced virtual assistants, security cameras, doorbells and changed all account info.
  • Electronics – Computers and phones were wiped clean, reset and closely examined for keyloggers or other malware.
  • I changed passwords and security questions for email, social media, and other online accounts.
  • Cloud accounts – I revoked account access and changed passwords for cloud storage and other linked accounts.

These steps severed electronic ties and eliminated digital breadcrumbs back to me.

Have Patience and Seek Support

Decontaminating my home completely took over a year. Emotions arose frequently, from sorrow to anger to empowerment. I had to practice patience and self-care. Therapy and support groups helped immensely throughout this healing process.

Taking control of my environment enabled me to take control of myself again. Eliminating traces of the abuse allowed me to look toward the future. Each small step washed away some of the darkness from those painful years. My home became a safe space to rebuild and recover.

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