Domestic abuse can come in many forms including physical, emotional, psychological, coercive and financial. Both women and men may find it hard to leave an abusive relationship due to many factors which can include intimidation, fear of safety , not knowing who to turn to, love for their partner, hope they may change and lack of self-confidence.
It takes courage and huge strength to leave an abusive relationship and it can leave the survivor with anxiety, post- traumatic stress, flashbacks, inability to trust, isolated from friends and family, and with a feeling of fear, anger, resentment and low self-esteem. They may also grieve for the future they thought they were going to have.
Empowering survivors enables them to start taking control back of their lives.
They may be going through a healing period so they will need to be kind to themselves. They may have been controlled by their abusive partner for many years and so may find it difficult in the beginning to make choices about their lives. Empowering survivors will enable them to gain confidence to make decisions in all areas.
Empowering survivors of abuse helps them to find their voice again
Empowerment can lead to a rise in confidence and self-esteem. This could include celebrating all achievements no matter how small they are. They could be as every day as being able to leave the house and go to the shop alone, to taking control of finances – something that survivors may never have had the opportunity to do.
Through empowerment survivors can be enabled to make their own decisions and understand where they can get help, to make their journey easier. If someone else has always controlled their finances, this can feel especially monumental. Some survivors may have been left in debt by partners but once they are given the skills and information they need, they can then seek financial support to improve and rebuild.
The self-esteem programme we deliver includes assertiveness, self-care habits, understanding self-confidence, confronting the inner critic, goal setting and building positive relationships.
Rebuilding a life again can seem very scary and it is the unknown that can be fearful. A survivor of abuse may need to relearn a lot of skills including applying for jobs, controlling finances and making friends again, if they have been isolated from any social interaction.
Empowering survivors gives them trust and belief in themselves again
They may start by making small decisions – but this can be a huge step. As time goes by these will grow. They may find they are able to take on new challenges and try new hobbies, and simply taking these steps can build up confidence and self-esteem. At first It will feel strange to adjust to a new freedom and being able to engage in any interest, but as weeks go by they will feel more enjoyment from participating and they will feel more empowered.
Over time they will begin to build and maintain healthy relationships. This can include rebuilding trust in other people and being aware that not all others are violent or abusive. Through learning and empowering themselves, they will feel strong they will know the signs of unhealthy relationships including negative comments or emotions. They will recognise these signs and have awareness who they want in their live.
Some survivors may also go on to volunteer or work within domestic violence organisations or charities, to use their experience and understanding to help on the journey that lies ahead for other survivors.
Feeling empowered can give us confidence to follow our dreams and goals. This can include going back to education or enrolling on a course for the future. Feeling empowered can also mean feeling motivated and confident, encouraging a person to be proactive towards their future. Over time they may have gained enough confidence to apply for job roles and this could be a big step, especially if their abuser prevented them from working. This is a huge step towards being independent, self-reliant and in control of their lives. This step may take a while to get to but learning confidence skills and building on this can work towards it and the life we want.
We have worked with domestic abuse survivors to empower them to rebuild their lives and find their self-esteem again, throughout the lockdown this year. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.