By Eleanor Beeslaar

In abusive relationships, there is an unhealthy and unfair dynamic of power and control, where the abuser uses a variety of tactics and “put-downs” to lower victims’ self-esteem and confidence. Many abusers engage in gaslighting, or using psychological manipulation that causes victims to question their sanity and doubt their own thoughts and feelings. These abusive patterns can lead to self-doubt, decreased self-confidence, and difficulty trusting oneself and others. 

Living through manipulation and abuse can lead to negative beliefs about the self and the world, as well as a loss of identity. When you are constantly being put down through insults, manipulation, and emotional/verbal abuse, you my begin to believe the messages you are hearing. After leaving an abusive relationship, these messages may still be salient and play a role in your perception of yourself and the world. It is important to remember that you have the right to challenge these thoughts and rediscover who you are. 

As you engage in your journey of healing and rediscovery, give yourself permission to recognize and challenge negative thinking patterns. When you recognize a negative thought or notice negative self talk, take a moment to pause and reflect. Ask yourself, “Would I say this to a friend or family member I love and care about?” The answer is likely no. You deserve to be treated with the same love and respect that you show those you care about. Be kind and gentle with yourself. If you notice yourself engaging in negative self-talk, don’t beat yourself up for having these thoughts. Instead, be kind and compassionate with yourself and challenge the negative messages. 

It is also important to remember that you are worthy of self-love. You have showcased immense amounts of bravery, strength, and courage through your journey of survival and recovery. Honor the progress you have made by thanking yourself and engaging in self-love. Be mindful of your inner voice and the language you use when speaking to yourself. Choose kind and compassionate words and engage in positive self-talk. You are capable of recovery and deserve to give yourself the time and space to grow and rediscover who you are! 

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