Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 34: "How Do I Rebuild My Confidence After an Abusive Relationship?"

November 19, 2020 Ask Ava Season 1 Episode 34
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 34: "How Do I Rebuild My Confidence After an Abusive Relationship?"
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 34: "How Do I Rebuild My Confidence After an Abusive Relationship?"

Support the show

Today, we’re talking about building up your self-esteem and your confidence in other romantic relationships, after you’ve left an abusive relationship. 

This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset, Somerset County New Jersey's lead domestic violence organization, providing services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.  

Today's question from local teens is: How can I rebuild my confidence after an abusive relationship? 

You have all the power to build your self-esteem and also gain confidence in your future relationships! Many survivors of abusive relationships go on to have happy lives with other partners, free from abuse. Freeing yourself of any guilt, taking your time, self-care, following a safety plan, and talking about your relationship with others are some ways that survivors have found healing and confidence. 

If you’ve been in an abusive romantic relationship, whether as a teen or an adult, it’s understandable that you might feel uncomfortable getting into other romantic relationships. You might have difficulty trusting others as well as low self-esteem, anxiety, and/or depression. This is because your partner may have made you feel less than worthy of respect and/or unsafe over time. No one deserves to be treated that way, and by moving forward, you are taking the first step towards rebuilding your confidence in yourself, in your relationships, and your life. 

One step to feeling comfortable is forgiving yourself and freeing yourself of any guilt, especially if you’ve been blaming yourself for getting involved with or staying with your abusive partner. The abuse is never the victim or survivor’s fault. People always have a choice to treat others a certain way. You might feel guilt for staying in this relationship – let it go. There are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, and you don’t need to justify it to anyone. Also, everyone deserves to be in relationships free of abuse. You deserve love and respect! 

Another step is being kind to yourself and taking the time you need to heal. This will lead to more confidence! Make time for self-care every day and find something fun you can do, like a new hobby. Try something new or go somewhere you’ve never been. Spend time with friends and family – make plans to chat, have a meal, go somewhere, and have fun. Take regular walks or go running to enjoy nature.  

Sometimes being social and making plans is hard to do. One easy way to give yourself some inspiration is by creating a “happy list” – where you write down all the things that make you happy. Then, when you’re having a tough day, you can look at the list and pick one of these things to do. Give yourself space and allow yourself to spend time just relaxing, too.  

Creating a safety plan in the aftermath of a relationship can provide you with some peace of mind and help you gain confidence, too. Sometimes exes can be abusive, and this is a good time to set privacy settings on technology, find safe and comfortable routes from school or work, and create a contact list of people who know you best and can help you during any situation. We have teen safety planning options on our website, www.safe-sound.org, and we can also safety plan with you through text or call hotline. 

Taking time to heal might also mean going slow when it comes to getting into new romantic relationships. Of course that decision is up to you. Once you get in a new romantic relationship, whenever that may be, set boundaries from the beginning. Communicate with your partner about what’s okay and what’s not, and if the relationship is going too slow or too fast. If the person doesn’t respect your boundaries, that’s a signal that maybe this isn’t a healthy relationship for you. Only you know what’s best for you, and you’re an important part of this partnership. 

You also might choose, at some point, to tell others about your past relationship and your healing journey. This could include family, friends, and future romantic partners. This, of course, is a choice only you can make. Some survivors find power in speaking about their past relationships. Like we talked about in the last episode, you might also reach out for professional services such as counseling. This is not a sign of weakness. You can take a huge step in regaining your confidence by reaching out for support. 

You have the power to gain confidence in your life. Remember that others are there to help and that taking time to care for yourself is the most important thing. You matter! 

Call or text the S+SS 24/7 hotline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening and information. 

 Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.