Category Archives: Self-Improvement

Fighting Fear and Going It Alone


by Annette Young

When you break away from an abusive relationship, it’s easy to let fear overwhelm you. You may start to second guess every little aspect of life,  even those everyday tasks which are so familiar. You may feel less than whole and as if carrying a huge burden, that of being totally alone and the necessity of making every single decision, facing the consequences if you get it wrong.

Fear can be overwhelming but, it’s natural to feel this way. Accept your feelings but don’t succumb to them. In time, you’ll realise that starting over was a good thing to do.  

But right now, are you….

  • Worried that you cannot cope?
  • Worried that you may be alone forever?
  • Worried that you may date the wrong person again?

It’s important to understand where these feelings are coming from. If you have been in a manipulative relationship, your self-esteem may have been seriously impacted. If your partner corrected or mocked  you for every little move, no wonder you feel less than self-assured. If your control was taken away within your relationship, it’s no wonder you feel afraid now. You may second-guess yourself for some time but that’s alright, it’s all part of the living on your own and the recovery process.

Feeling this way may be uncomfortable and restrictive right now but, it’s temporary. There are far more benefits to starting over than there are the negative aspects of leaving. Just understand why you feel the way you do and that it is to be expected. Going it alone may seem terrifying but staying in an abusive relationship is so much worse, it’s threatening and debilitating. 

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I Can’t Trust

Trust and Relationships

by Annette Young

It’s an age-old problem. If you have ever experienced a heart-breaking relationship, let alone a toxic one, it’s likely that you will have deeply-rooted trust issues going forward. It’s easy to worry about this, but don’t. It’s natural and is just a form of self-protection. It can take time for trust in others to start to develop.

The best starting point has to be with yourself. How can you learn to trust others if you don’t wholly trust yourself? That might sound a bit odd but it’s true. Often, when bad relationships have been experienced, there’s a sense of disbelief,  ‘how could I not have seen through this person?’

Ill-treatment from within a relationship is very difficult to overcome. Deep down you might know you don’t deserve it, and yet, it’s happening to you. It’s not even about physical violence, it could be anything – derogatory remarks,  bullying, sarcasm and threats.  Anything that makes you feel less than good about yourself is unhealthy and unwarranted. Toxic relationships come in all different guises, you may have dated more than one individual who treated you badly but it’s likely that the behaviours were not the same.  Signs that manifest mid-way through were probably not visible at the start of the relationship so, how could you have known?

Learning to trust your judgement is important. Learning to be brave in your own emotional soul is difficult, but, think of it as a stepping stone towards recovery. There’s no need to rush. Little by little, you start to grow and you go at the pace that is right for you.

Trust is not guaranteed in life. People can and do let you down. It doesn’t matter who you are, there are malicious, callous and unreliable people out there. Sadly, this is the way of the world these days. Don’t give your heart and trust too easily, instead, take your time to see if your next potential partner truly deserves you. Over time, trust will develop and you can relax into the relationship…it will happen naturally and that is the best way to make progress.

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Don’t Touch Me

Intimacyby Annette Young

In an age where sexual activity is the norm, many people may be surprised that some women (in this case, those healing from abusive relationships) may have a much lower or even, non-existent sex drive.  But even those who still have a healthy sex drive can find that desire fluctuates when there is the fear of a new relationship.

So, why does this happen?

We all put barriers up so to protect ourselves, not just in a physical manner, but those same walls can protect us in an emotional sense too.  We may want to love again and to enjoy the pleasures of a physical relationship but sometimes, a fear of emotional intimacy, can override the desire for a normal sexual encounter. For many women, sex and love or sex and deep emotions go hand in hand. It’s a complex and tightly interwoven behaviour.

The brain in all its complexities, is so very powerful, but it can work for or against the woman making all sexual desires dissipate as soon as a potential new partner tries to take the relationship to the next step. If this sounds familiar, try to seek out counselling. There’s absolutely no shame in talking your concerns over with a professional who can help to discover the root cause of these barriers. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is also a wonderful resource to help you break down these barriers.

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But make no mistake, sometimes this fear of emotional and physical intimacy is to simply protect you because you may not be ready to move on and that’s ok. If you have a loving new relationship, your partner will understand that you have to take it slowly. There’s no shame in saying no and gradually working out these issues as love and commitment develops. It’s normal to feel scared, it’s normal to lose your sex drive sometimes if you have been through an abusive situation, but don’t let it hold you back from connecting with others. Seek professional help if you can but always trust your instinct.

Who Are You Now?

Lost Identityby Annette Young

Often people believe that those who have endured abusive or manipulative relationships will just bounce back emotionally after a period of time and certainly once they have escaped the clutches of an abusive partner. It’s as if life MUST suddenly go back to normal and you surely MUST feel whole again?

It’s reasonable to consider that those who have never endured an abusive relationship is not likely to understand, it’s far more important for you, the former victim of abuse, to realise that even if you have escaped, you will be far from whole.

Sadly, the damage from a toxic relationship is far-reaching. Its icy tendrils invades every aspect of life, extending outwards and contaminating even potential future relationships.  No doubt, you feel lost. Freedom was supposed to be the end of hardship and pain, but now, you may have lost sight of who you are and how to cope. If this sounds familiar,  know this, it’s ok to be lost for a while and, it may not always be possible to fully heal yourself.

Admitting that life has changed you is a positive starting point. Admitting that you are different and that you may be unable to identify with the woman you once were is smart too because often there’s a seemingly impossible divide between that woman and the woman you have become. Life shapes us all, in both good and bad ways, but abuse, well, understand that it is not always possible to completely lose the fear of a new relationship, although, sometimes, with the right person, it is possible to do so.

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Either way, being kind to yourself is the best starting point you can have on the road to recovery. You are bound to be uncertain. You are bound to have self-doubts. Don’t judge your fears or your new identity, embrace it. After all, you are a survivor.

Protect and Nourish Your Self-Worth

Break free from abuse

by Annette Young

We all know the importance of self-worth but when your confidence has been shaken to the core after experiencing a manipulative or damaging relationship, it’s a fair assumption to say that your sense of self-worth is likely to be impacted too. Each relationship has its own positives and negatives and it is only fair that we enter each relationship with an open mind, hoping that we have made the right choices and that the positives of this connection far outweigh any difficulties that may exist. But when a relationship starts to chip away at your very essence until you begin to question and doubt your own abilities in life, those alarm bells should be ringing very loudly indeed.

Your self-worth is often all that will stand between your staying in a destructive relationship and having the courage to strike out alone. It’s not easy, but the belief that you deserve better will carry you through. When a partner is deliberately manipulative, you can guarantee that the aim will be to strip away your confidence and to make you start second guessing yourself. It’s an easy hop to then destroying how you feel about yourself. Bit by bit, your self-worth will be shredded until it is less easy to remember the person you once were or to rebuild that sense of self.

You may have given away your power but note, you can take it back too. Don’t think about mending a relationship that is a selfish one-way street, instead, concentrate on building your appreciation of who you are, one building block at a time. When your heart is filled with love and pain at your partner’s treatment of you, it can be overwhelming and difficult to see with true clarity. But, if you are in the midst of a heartbreaking but damaging connection ask yourself this, what do you really gain by staying in this relationship? Does it make you happy or do you self-destruct yet further each day that passes?

Your self-worth is an integral part of you, protect and nourish it and it will serve you well.



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The Fear of Leaving and Coping Alone



by Annette Young

When you are deep within the clutches of an abusive relationship, you’ll experience a multitude of emotions – mostly negative ones. There may be feelings of depression, a desire to withdraw physically or emotionally and you’ll often feel trapped and alone within the relationship. Although these feelings are negative, they are also very powerful and will keep you hanging in there as the days, weeks and even years go by and your self-esteem erodes. But if life is so unbearable, why not just walk away?

Fear is an intrinsic part of an abusive relationship. If you live with a bully – whether violent or manipulative verbally, you feel the weight of this threat hanging over you constantly. You don’t know when it’s going to happen, you are just pretty damn sure that it will. This perceived and barely concealed threat also causes a chain reaction in emotional terms because the core feeling of frustration, fear and anger manifests outwards into everything you do. It doesn’t matter if it’s the little things in life – cooking, ironing, cleaning…you are always looking over your shoulder in case you are picked up for doing something wrong. Sadly, you always will in the eyes of an abusive partner.

Fear has another effect; it puts a strangle-hold on your leaving. Even if your financial state is healthy, actually packing up to go is another thing altogether. You might say it, shout it and stamp your feet while dramatically throwing things into your suitcase, but your partner knows that his control over you is pretty much secure. What you want inwardly is contrition from him, you want him to say he’s sorry – and mean it. You want him to throw his arms around you and say he’s realised his mistakes and he’ll change. An abusive partner may do that or, he’ll just let you pack and revel in the glee that you won’t ever get to the door and if you do, you’ll never cope without him.

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But there’s your real fear, will you cope without him? This terrifying fear residing right in the heart of you has the power to overcome the fear of staying with him. Make no mistake – this fear is crippling your chances of escaping and finding someone decent, one who truly cares for you.

So let’s figure out if you can survive without the bully in your life:

  • No more insidious or cutting remarks
  • No more physical threats
  • The chance to live your life as you see fit
  • The potential for inner peace and well-being

From my perspective, one who’s faced the same dilemmas as you, life on the outside of a relationship is pretty good. I’d choose peace and quiet and contentment over a torturous and volatile relationship any time. The hardest part of starting over is actually walking out the door. It takes courage and sometimes it takes time before that ‘last straw’ snaps and you are finally ready to take action. Believe me, once you have done so, life starts getting dramatically easier.

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Are You Recovering from Emotional Abuse? Give Yourself Some Time.

by Annette Young

If you are now in the process of recovering from emotional abuse, having escaped from the clutches of the relationship, there is bound to be a deep sense of relief. It’s also likely to be intermingled with sadness and regret, even if the relationship was beyond repair and damaging. Freedom may have been a long time in the planning, or, you may have suddenly realized that enough was enough and walked away. Whatever the circumstances; it takes time to get back to normal.

Since I wrote my book, Emotional Abuse – Get Out of My Head and Out of My Bed! I have spoken to many women who have experienced varying degrees of abuse. Some had endured a nightmarish situation for many years, scared to leave but deeply unhappy within their individual environments and afraid for their futures. Others are now free and yet feel as if they are still trapped on an emotional level. Freedom has not enabled them to feel safe or whole. Sadly emotional abuse is everywhere and if you looked into the relationships of those around you, no doubt, you would uncover some ugly realities. The stark reality is that abusive relationships exist everywhere.

Emotional and physical abuse is far more common than any of us would like to imagine. Worse, the harsh reality is that many women fall back into the clutches of an abusive relationship without realizing it. This may seem unlikely considering the traumatic and long reaching effect of abuse but, it seems that we become used to a certain type of behaviour, it becomes familiar and therefore is easier to slip back into.

The most important thing that you can do once free from a relationship is to give yourself time. It takes time to make sense of the past, to heal any emotional wounds and to then prepare for your future. Recovering from emotional abuse does not happen overnight, there is no magic wand to wave and you have to deal with the rawness of the reality and for some, this deeply rooted hurt is the hardest to overcome.

I have often found myself looking back with a sense of disbelief, questioning why I had put up with such an uncaring relationship, but, as much as we can analyse over and over, we have to accept the past and to come to terms with it. We can’t go back, we just have to learn which type of relationships are damaging and to avoid them. We cannot blame ourselves for loving someone. Everyone makes mistakes but, in time, we can work out patterns of behaviour and to identify those relationships that should be avoided. Rushing straight into another relationship is usually a mistake. It can be terrifying being on your own and starting life again, but I have no doubt that it is a better option than being with someone who wields their words like a weapon and who makes you feel bad about yourself.


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Overcoming Trust Issues – Female Destructive Cycles

trust issues

by Annette Young

Overcoming trust issues – it’s impossible isn’t it? If you have been badly hurt and your life, your self-esteem and your confidence has plummeted like a rock and it takes all your effort to simply paste a smile on your face each day, surely, trust will be a thing of the past?

A disastrous or manipulative relationship can certainly affect you in ways that you don’t even realise. It can make you paranoid. It can make you angry. You may start looking out for any sign of possible rejection, the first hint of a derogatory remark and, you may even play out imaginary scenarios in your mind.

The bad news is, that as a victim of abuse, you will have been damaged in some way.

The good news is that there is always the possibility of overcoming trust issues and finding a decent, caring and healthy relationship in time. But I will make one thing very clear.  Those with severe trust issues and deep, dark memories of an abusive relationship will not be able to move on and welcome in a positive, nurturing relationship without clearing out the emotional angst first. Acknowledging that you have problems is the first painful but empowering step, but facing up to resolving it is yet another. With help, it’s possible to face up to and to deal with the bitterness and anger and the suspicions.

But you have to want to.

Overcoming trust issues takes time. It also means you have to be kind with yourself. Physical wounds heal slowly but in a visible way, emotional traumas and deeply rooted sadness can take years. Understanding why you lack trust is important, learning techniques to help you let go of suspicions will also benefit you. I’ve endured much on a personal level and have had my fair share of a tortured mind, but I know I am not alone in that. I do know that there are nice, caring individual’s out there all looking for a decent person, but if you are seeking love, you will frighten them away if you don’t deal with your own issues first.

Many women who have experienced damaging relationships will fall into the self-destruct mode and will experience swift inter-changing emotions – from liking to fearing to liking and then sabotaging, all within minutes. This comes from having a low self-esteem and an inability to see yourself in a positive light. Knowing when you start doing this will help you to control it, but it takes time to learn new positive behaviours and to mean them.

I have every sympathy for women who fall into this destructive cycle of behaviour, but I also know that unless those women learn to stop this cycle, any potential new loving relationships will fall foul to self-destructive actions, however nice and kind a man might be, or how sorry you feel for being so irrational.

Overcoming trust issues starts like this; can you honestly blame any new man in your life for the antics of a former partner?

Every new person who enters your life should be judged on their behaviour towards you now, not for any negative behaviour that you may have experienced in the past.




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Self-Improvement – Lessons Learned

Life Coaching


by Annette Young

Self-improvement – when you are in the pits of despair, the last thing you might want to think about are self-improvement techniques. After all,  you have tried almost everything to make your partner happy and perhaps, nothing worked. But if you are emerging out the other side of an abusive relationship, you do need to think about getting yourself back on track, nurturing your mind, soul and body and there are things that you can do to start feeling better.

Your instinct may be telling you to blot everything out. You don’t want to think about your past because it hurts too much. But to  go forward, you do need to go back and dip into your memory cells considering what you may have learned from your experiences. If you could go back in time, reflect on the things that you might do differently and consider any warning signs that were visible.  If you missed them at the time, would you spot them if they happened now?

It’s good to reflect even if the memories are painful, telling yourself that you are out of the situation will give you some comfort but it takes time to heal. To help yourself move on from the past, think about two pieces of advice that you would give to someone else who might be in the same situation as you are in now. Do this from a dispassionate view point and not from an emotional stance.

Give yourself just ten minutes of reflection, writing  your thoughts down, pinning them up somewhere so that you are reminded of them each day.  As time passes, it will enable you to grow stronger and to become used to being your own person again. Trying out self-improvement techniques can work in a number of ways, it can make you feel clearer about the past, present and the future or, to realise that you did the best that you could do in a difficult situation or, to be clear at least about those warning signs.

It’s time to start taking care of yourself, keep your thoughts positive, look to the future and you will soon start to feel the difference, it just takes time.


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