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How to Build Self-Esteem After a Verbally Abusive Relationship

By Jill Avery-Stoss ; Updated December 05, 2018

A verbally abusive relationship can bring depression, anxiety, sleep problems and physical ailments. Damage to self-esteem also can result from verbal abuse, according to LoveIsRespect.org, an online resource dedicated to fostering healthy relationships. Regularly hearing that you are "fat," "lazy" and "stupid," for example, can cause you to question your worth. It is possible, however, to nurture your self-esteem with appropriate attention and diligence.

  1. Incorporate affirmations into your daily routine. Affirmations are positive statements that you can repeat to yourself or place around your home as reminders of your value. You may put them on your refrigerator or on your bathroom mirror, for instance. Some examples of affirmations include: "You are lovable," "I am beautiful," and "I deserve to be respected."

  2. Love yourself. Exercise regularly, maintain a nutritious diet, get adequate rest, and seek regular preventative medical care. Indulge in safe, comfortable and enjoyable activities, such as journaling, soaking in bubble baths and reading. Loving yourself also requires that you set firm personal boundaries with others -- think about actions and behaviors you will not tolerate from others and how you might respond to any violations of these boundaries. This might be challenging when you are struggling with low self-esteem. Boundary setting is a skill to be developed with practice over time, and when you can successfully assert yourself you will likely feel a sense of pride, thus nourishing your self-esteem.

  3. Get support. Your abusive partner may have attempted to isolate you from friends, family or anyone else who may have offered emotional and spiritual strength. This is a tactic commonly used by abusers to ensure that victims can depend only on them. Reach out to the friends and family members with whom you may have lost contact. Joining or reconnecting with a religious community and attending a support group for people who have experienced intimate partner abuse also can be beneficial. Working with a counselor or therapist who has an understanding of abuse dynamics can help you through this process.

  4. Learn the warning signs. To prepare for the future, familiarize yourself with the red flags that suggest someone may potentially be abusive. Some examples reported by the National Network to End Domestic Violence include pressure to move quickly into a serious relationship, excessive jealousy and incessant phone calls or text messages. Being equipped with this knowledge if and when you feel comfortable dating again will help you do so confidently.

  5. Warnings

    The time of separation from an abusive person is generally the most dangerous because it is when the abuser's power and control over the relationship is the most threatened. This is applicable even if there has not previously been physical violence. It is important to plan carefully for your safety for the separation, as well as for post-separation. An advocate from your local battered women's agency -- which will also assist male victims -- can help you create and review your safety plan regularly.

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