As I take this voyage toward a lifetime of boldness, I’ve had to reach into the cobwebs of my past to acknowledge—and accept—who I was back then so that I can love the woman I am becoming today. I, like many women, can find many life-defining moments that have impacted what I came to believe about myself. I reflected upon my life and these statements came to mind: “You’re getting fat”, “You’re average looking”, “No one will love you the way I do”.
The man who uttered those phrases to my 24-year-old self was emotionally abusive and although I had no idea it was happening, it impacted my life because I believed him.
Emotional abuse is a sneaky creature that robs a woman’s spirit so subtly that even the abuser may not know it’s happening. The abuser begins by tearing down a woman’s self-worth—one word at a time. I became a victim because I was a quiet, shy, “people pleaser”. I was never the type of person to ask for – no—demand what I required in a relationship. He was “good man” – a potential father for my son and 14 years older than I—so I believed his opinion of me
Had I been a bolder sister years ago and believed that I was beautiful, acceptable, and worthy of love and respect, I believe I would’ve recognized that this man was stealing my joy and controlling me. As “Mitch’s” words slowly eroded my spirit—I became extremely depressed because I wasn’t strong enough to deflect the lies. Not only was he verbally abusive, I’d found out he was also using drugs. By then, he had me where he wanted me. Now, just to highlight how slippery emotional abuse is, it wasn’t until his behavior escalated and he tried to physically take money from me that I finally broke up with him. Ironically, I had no tolerance for physical abuse yet had no clue that I was being otherwise abused.
As bolder women It’s important for us to be vigilant and know the signs so we can maintain (or reclaim) our power. According to psychcentral.com some of the signs are:
1. Criticizing: Name calling, yelling, or downplaying how special you are. My abuser devalued me with disparaging words and made me feel that I wasn’t attractive to other men.
2. Alienation: Separates you from family and friends. My abuser was monopolizing my time and trying to separate me from my family.
3. Enmeshment: Inserts himself into every aspect of your life. My abuser would ‘pop by’ my job with flowers and expensive gifts and enamored himself with my coworkers.
4. Jealousy: Accuses you of cheating. My abuser accused me of cheating on a regular basis and it became stressful for me to prove otherwise.
At the end of the day, we have to also recognize that emotional abuse isn’t just about hurtful words and behaviors. It’s truly about what we’ve come to believe within us about ourselves and being able to protect (or deflect) that belief at all costs.
Bolder Sisters, in what ways have you protected positive or deflected negative beliefs about yourself?
Please join me as we welcome our newest Bolder Sister contributor, Ms. Kim Woods.
Kim Woods earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems at DeVry University. She developed a love for writing poetry and short stories as a child. Kim is socially conscience and her desire to use her life experiences to help others is what drives her to seek opportunities to share her story. She decided to write freelance for the Bolder Sister because it is her desire that women evolve and thrive in their own authentic truth.
Kim resides in Chicago, Illinois and has one son, Donald. In addition to writing, she spends free time creating unique wall art, decorating, and teaching herself how to sculpture.