I’ve struggled with a poor self image most of my life. It’s not that I didn’t have extremely low self esteem; I did have confidence in myself and I did think positive thoughts most of the time.
All that’s changed though. I was emotionally abused by my ex-husband. In fact, it’s still happening even though he and I are no longer married! Emotional abuse is all about power and control-the abuser needs to have it. The person will use whatever means necessary to get it.
I consider myself a survivor of emotional abuse, though. My ex-husband displayed all the classic signs of an abuser-naming calling almost all the time, putting me down, making me feel inferior, using threats, played on my insecurities like my poor self-image. You name it, he did it. He even uses our two young children as leverage to get what he wants, he tells me things like, “Well because you did this then you won’t get to talk to them tonight.”
That’s not to say that I didn’t emotionally abuse him back. In fact, my reactions were sometimes so bad, that I had become violent to him on numerous occasions over our five year relationship. Perhaps it was because it was the only way I knew how to survive. That doesn’t make what I did right.
This country is too focused on the problems and outcomes of physical abuse and its scars. We see black eyes, the bruises on the arm and other typical physical scars. Well, what about emotional abuse? The scars from emotional abuse run far deeper. Perhaps those scars may not even heal, or even if they do, it will take years to recover.
There are resources out there to help you begin to heal those emotional scars. Get in contact with the county in which you live. There may be a local domestic violence shelter that provides counseling services to victims of abuse. You can even call the national domestic abuse hotline.
Still, no matter what avenue you take, you need to know that you are not alone. You are a worthy person. Your feelings matter. You deserve to love and be loved. You are not to blame.
I know I have a long road of recovery ahead of me. I have been receiving counseling at a local domestic violence shelter for women. I am very slowly beginning to find the girl I was before I met him. I am beginning to put the pieces back together and trying to regain the self-confidence I once had. I have bad days where I feel unworthy or unloved. I sometimes still feel like I was never a good mother, that I was stupid or useless. But I know that in time, those feelings will begin to change. Right now, my wounds are still raw. It will take some time to heal and recover. But with proper help, I know I will achieve my goal-to be the girl I want to be. The girl I was before him.