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Home Articles After Abuse Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem After Abuse

Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem After Abuse

5 ways you can start feeling good about yourself and the world again

  • Dec 10, 2014
  • By
  • 48k have read
Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem After Abuse

After escaping an abusive partner, starting a new life can feel empowering. You’re on your own. You are in control. You’re safe.

But, these positive feelings may not appear right away, and this is normal. You may feel unsure, anxious or have a profound sense of loss for what you left behind. You may start questioning your decisions—“Am I strong enough to do this? Do I deserve good things to happen to me?” After all, for so long, your abuser tried to convince you otherwise.

Regaining your self-esteem after domestic violence takes time. It’s important you work on it daily, just as you would strengthen your body after being injured. Building up confidence in yourself is especially important if you have children who were also in the abusive situation with you. Kids are apt to imitate your actions, attitudes and emotions and, if you are modeling confidence and self-appreciation, they will be more likely to feel the same about themselves. Children who witness violence at home are more likely to have low self-esteem and high incidents of self-blame later in life.

Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem

1. Take the Attitudes Toward Self online quiz at Fort Refuge, an abuse survivors forum, to see. Are you holding yourself at overly high standard? Are you too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned? Can you fail at one task and not let it affect your overall sense of self-worth? These are important questions to ask yourself as you begin to build back up your self-esteem.

2. Be patient with yourself. Think about how you’d treat a best friend who had just been through your same situation. You likely wouldn’t tell them to “get over it already.” Let yourself take as much time as you need to sort through your emotions, feel what you need to feel and slowly come back to a positive outlook on the future.

3. Spend time with people who build you up. Try to get out and connect with others as much as possible, be it with good friends over lunch or a support group for domestic violence survivors. Try to say “hi” to someone new each week, just to help you find your confidence again. Don’t seclude yourself in your house for too long at any time.

4. Find an exercise routine you enjoy. Research shows that regular exercise lowers rates of depression and anxiety because it helps to release endorphins, or those “feel good” chemicals in the brain. Be it a daily walk, yoga or Zumba class, or something ambitious like training for a 5K, you’ll notice a difference in your mood as soon as you start moving.

5. Give back. Helping others can make you feel like you have a sense of purpose in the world, and can take your mind off your own struggles. Making someone else smile can also be infectious. Find a local charity group and volunteer once a week. You have unique skills that can be invaluable to those in need.

Also, consider reading this article on " Staying Strong After Leaving the Shelter".