By: Ken Austin
You do not have to be hit to be a victim. Emotional abusers chip away at your self-esteem until, many times, you feel the need to tear yourself down just to meet their opinions. Others engage in self-destructive behaviors to make their abuser reject them, and go away.
Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. Abusers revel in the chance to see their prophecies mature. They feel success in having "seen what was below the surface." They know about you before, so why would they leave just because you've proved them right?
Self-confidence in the abuse survivor is hard to come by, but it is possible. counseling helps. Support groups are even better. Taking those baby steps to free yourself from the effects of abuse start the winding way to recovery.
Fake it 'Til You Make It
Seemingly many abuse survivors put this method into practice. They feel if they present the face of a confident, outgoing person that sooner or later they will feel confident and outgoing as well. This almost never happens. Because they focus on the appearance of being okay, they skim over what it takes to actually feel that way.
The most dangerous thing about the fake it method is it robs you of your chance to heal. It also hurts your relationships with men and women because you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others instead of honoring what you truly do.
The Big Brush Off
Some survivors are tired of meeting the standards and decide to just not care anymore. Their houses are filthy. Their clothes and cars usually need to be replaced or repaired. They "just don't care" but what this really means is they don’t care about themselves. If they did, they wouldn't be living in squalor.
People using the brush off method need to concentrate on finding their abilities before depression sets in. Once their abilities are rediscovered, once they've toured the past for things they used to enjoy and things they were good at doing, they can begin making miniature steps toward improving their current selves.
The Blame Game
"It's not my fault..." fuels many self-destructive behaviors. Unsafe sex with multiple partners. Drugs. Alcohol. Voluntary unemployment. Homelessness. It's the easiest thing in the world to blame someone else for your actions, but how much sense does it make when you're stuck living the consequences?
Blamers first step is to take responsibility for the choices they make in the here and the now. That may mean considering something a long time before taking action. That may mean taking the opportunity to take part in certain things out of the equation. If you do drugs on a regular basis, you may need to move to an area where you don't know the suppliers to keep yourself safe.
Set Your Eyes on a Prize
Really accepting that you deserve to be happy can take a long time, and most likely you will need therapy. A lot of people think they've reached that point when they are really fulfilling their abusers' negative prophecies.
Discount "deserving" all together. People get things they don't deserve all the time. It's as easy as buying a lottery ticket, or being born into the right family (or in the right country). Much of where we are and what opportunities we have boil down to luck. The rest is what we do with our opportunities.
What is one thing you want to do with your life? What are the small steps you need to take to make it there? If they are too big, break them down even more?
Do you need to go to college? Fill out the FAFSA and see if you apply for financial aid. That’s a small task leading up to a much larger goal of becoming a licensed therapist one day.
Your chance at being self-confident, successful and enjoying life has not disappeared. You may need to take some extra steps, and you may have a long road ahead, but the sooner you start, the sooner you'll get there.