The Effects of Domestic Violence: How to Change Your Mindset from Victim to Survivor
By Senica Evans
The recent Chris Brown and Rihanna collaboration has placed domestic violence back in the forefront of many people’s minds. Unfortunately, domestic violence, whether physical or verbal, is all too common in our society. It’s in our own backyard and in the homes of our loved ones. It’s the silent relationship killer! The killer that devalues, demeans, alienates, and causes withdrawal from loved ones. Majority of us know a person that falls in this category. It might even be you reading this article. The fear and embarrassment alone might make you think you are bound to this relationship. Well, I have a few tips to help you break free from that mental bondage if you’re going through it.
1. Acknowledge & Accept – The very first step in making the mental shift from being a victim of domestic abuse to a survivor and ultimately one who overcomes it is acknowledging and accepting that this isn’t your lot in life. Love doesn’t spew venomous words! Love doesn’t strike you in fits of anger! This is by far the hardest step. Allow yourself to admit your relationship is unhealthy. Accept that it’s unhealthy! Be honest with yourself so you can see this isn’t how love was intended to be. You deserve to be loved and respected.
2. Recognize That It’s Not Your Fault – There is absolutely no justification for your partner causing emotional or bodily harm to you. You probably make excuses as to why they lash out, but this only empowers them to continue the abuse. Meanwhile, every excuse, every justification is lowering your self-esteem, your power, and your self-worth. No relationship is worth losing yourself.
3. Have a Support System – This is a very important step to help with the potential setback and emotional recovery process. Find a positive, uber-supportive but honest group of people to help you through this and subsequent steps. Unfortunately, in the African-American community, we are made to think it’s not right to seek out professional help. The negative connotation associated with counselors and/or psychologists is unfounded. They simply provide an unbiased nonjudgmental ear and opinion to help you transition through this period. But if you can’t/won’t seek out professional counseling, then a close friend or family member is the next best option. They must be someone that won’t judge but stand by your side, yet be brutally honest and also delicate with you.
4. Deal with Your Emotions – Allow yourself to grieve the relationship, especially if you were in it for a long period. Don’t bury the anger, pain, resentment, hurt, sadness, or embarrassment. Deal with each one of these emotions. Emotions that are not dealt with, especially from abusive or destructive relationships, tend to lead to bitterness. You have to get to the point where you can forgive your abuser. Forgiving them doesn’t mean taking them back or that you have to work it out now. It simply means you have let all emotional ties go from that relationship. You have freed yourself from the bondage the abuse put you in. Don’t let unresolved emotions consume you.
5. Re-build You – I strongly urge against dating during this phase. This isn’t a normal break up. Your self-esteem suffered greatly in that relationship and it will take time to rebuild. Take this time to learn to love you again. It sounds so cliché, but it’s very important to take that time. Get to know you again because abusive relationships will have you as a shell of your original self. Don’t look for other people to lift you up. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re worthy of being loved and loved in a healthy way. You’re beautiful! Be your own cheerleader!
Ending an abusive relationship isn’t as easy as simply packing your bags and walking out the door to never look back. That sounds good in theory, but actually, it is a very difficult task, yet it is also a very attainable task! Abuse is a means to control, manipulate, and alienate a person. It’s truly a self-esteem killer. If you are reading this and happen to be in an abusive relationship, please seek help to find your way out. And if you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, try to help them by offering support and encouragement, without judging their circumstances. And feel free to send this article their way as well…
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