Category Archives: Up Close and Personal

Online Dating – Turn Down the Toxic

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

It’s not easy to pick up the pieces after an abusive relationship but, I have always believed that there are some genuinely nice guys out there. I don’t hate men at all, I just refuse to have anyone in my life who thinks it is acceptable to belittle me or who wants to control me.   It’s important that we do not allow  ourselves to be so firmly rooted in the past that life stands still, otherwise abusers win and I don’t like that thought at all.

I want to share a recent personal story with you. I’m doing so because I know how difficult it is for anyone who has been abused to build up their self-confidence again. I’ve been (mainly) on my own for some time but,  I decided that I would dip my toe back into the online dating circus and just see who was about.  I wasn’t expecting full-blown love and romance but maybe a chance to enjoy quality time with like-minded people, not unreasonable I think.

Having just signed up, I received the usual bombardment of emails with questions ranging from, ‘would I like to go out for a drink to when would I like to meet up for a sexual encounter? ‘ Seriously? Who says romance is dead? I may be a modern woman but I would still like the opportunity to meet someone before planning to jump into bed with them.

I did chat to one guy for a while and we exchanged numbers and so, using WhatsApp, kept in contact. I have to admit,  I  had the impression he was a little bit shallow. He kept asking me for more photos and I kept saying no. They were all new photos on the dating site anyway and let’s be honest, if you meet someone, you see each other then. I wasn’t going to have a load more done especially for him. But, he really was insistent about seeing full-length photos and I started to get irritated. Then of course came all the naughty flirtation talk and it was way to soon for any of that. I was pretty sure that this guy mainly wanted a sexual encounter and that didn’t suit me at all.

The connection faded out but then out of the blue,  I had a message come through on WhatsApp. He had somehow managed to get onto my Facebook page and had been rummaging through my photos. He’d found one of me – all glammed up but it was an old pic. He started raving about how sexy I looked and how much he now couldn’t wait to meet me. Yep, that thought held no appeal so I was   pleased to be able to tell him it was quite an old photo. Silence. Then, he messaged me again to say ‘oh, that’s a shame. But now, I can see exactly why you don’t put a full body photo  on your dating profile!’


I’ve met many rude men in my time but honestly, it never fails to irritate the hell out of me that men think it’s okay to be spiteful or condescending. Yes, woman can be spiteful and nasty too, of course, but it has to stop.   Of course, their actions and words say a lot about them, it’s all about control and having power over the woman but, unluckily for Mr. Shallow, I don’t give a flying fig what he thought and if he stopped finding me attractive, well, that’s a relief.   I am never going to waste any of my precious time even meeting someone like that for a coffee, let alone do anything else with him.  I’m curvaceous and I’m happy. Importantly, I have good self-esteem. I will never let someone that shallow and nasty try to make me feel bad about myself.  It’s just not going to happen.

I am sharing this with you because if it happened to me, it may well happen to you so, be warned. Men don’t have to meet you before trying to put you down. Remember, if you encounter someone like this, the moment they try to make you feel less of yourself, get rid of them. You do not deserve someone toxic in your life. When I received that message, I told him straight, yep, a few home truths came his way and then I blocked him. Let’s be honest, this man would bring nothing but nastiness into my life so, thanks but  no thanks.

I know I am worth far more. You are too.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like your body, whether you feel you are too short, too tall, too big, too thin….love yourself anyway. You have to because otherwise you’ll only let a manipulative shallow man into your life who will just love to belittle you. Send them packing.

There’s nothing wrong with online dating and if you fancy giving it a go, do so, but just be aware that there are sharks lurking.

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Emotional Abuse


Domestic Abuse – Shame On You!

Annette Young

by Annette Young

I was talking to some friends the other day and unlike myself, they had managed to fall in love and sustain marriages that were nurturing and kind, they hadn’t fallen foul to the potential risk of domestic abuse.  Of course, there were times when their marriages became a little frayed at the edges and the stresses of life tested their relationships somewhat, but my friends admitted, they could not even begin to fathom how anyone could fall foul of an abusive relationship, let alone stay in one. 

If you read the posts on this website frequently, you will know that I am a staunch supporter of all who have suffered from unhealthy and damaging relationships but I am only too aware that not everyone can really understand what it is like to love someone and yet be in the midst of a relationship which seeks to destroy from the inside out.  It’s madness right? I mean, who would choose that?

The problem is, abuse of any kind is rarely talked about and so, there’s a layer of secrecy surrounding the act and people on the outside speculate. What outsiders do not usually consider is that an abuser does not wear the word tattooed on his or her forehead, there is no noted marker that makes them stand out in the crowd, the opposite is true. Sadly, abusers are often absolutely charming , they smile, they say all the right things, they are helpful and kind and demonstrate their love and affection willingly…for all to see. But behind closed doors, this pretence is very quickly laid to one side and the reality soon becomes very ugly indeed. 

I was very quick to point out to my friends that if you fall in love with the wrong person, you are often so deeply involved that you don’t notice the little changes. In fact,  change can be very subtle until you are trapped within and suddenly wake up and realise that you have lost your sense of self, that you’ve  become someone you no longer recognise and it seems impossible to get up and leave.  Outsiders may also fail to fully understand that abusive relationships can even be addictive.  I could see my friends gradually understanding that it’s not a matter of saying ‘yes, that abusive relationship is for me please!’ They realised I think that even the strongest individuals can fall foul to toxic relationships because they don’t suspect that the ones they love could betray them in this manner. 

It’s not surprising at all that my friends were so innocent of the types of abusive relationships that exist, as it’s not something that you see, but it really does go on all around you. Domestic abuse in any form is not uncommon, in fact, far more people suffer from some aspect of it than you might imagine. It’s not all the about the woman with the black eye (although this is horrendous) it’s about the man or woman who is talked down to constantly, or even subjected to sarcasm and barbed comments in front of others so that their shame and humiliation becomes entertainment. Words become weapons in the same way as do fists. 

If you have suffered from abuse yourself, or know others who have, don’t bury your head in the sand, talk about it, discuss it with anyone who will listen, because the more people know, the more they will be able to recognise it and to protect against it.   

When victims stay quiet about their experiences, they do so from a sense of vulnerability and through deep feelings of shame but, make no mistake, the only people who should feel shame are the abusers. These are people who take pleasure in hurting others. They pick on those who are vulnerable – those with a less than nurtured background, those who feel isolated from friends and family, or, who already lack a little self-belief. They can spot weakness at fifty paces in the same way that a wild animal will sniff out a raw wound on its next victim. Abusers do not deserve to act in secrecy. Let’s send that message out into the world!

If you have suffered from emotional abuse, take a look at my book: Emotional Abuse – Get Out of My Head and Out of My Bed! It’s available on or

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Keep Your Heart Open

Loveby Annette Young

I was talking to an ex-partner today about affairs of the heart and our conversation was quite in-depth and perhaps more intimate in many ways than when we were together. Although our relationship had been a positive one  – the timing had just been all wrong, it had at least given me hope at the time that I was capable of choosing someone genuine after all my other failed attempts.

I am pretty sure I had never actually confided in him about my past experiences or if I had, it was discussed in a casual way. Our time together had been very comfortable and heart-warming, he made me laugh and I knew he was genuine but it was not really the type of relationship for the mutual sharing of past experiences.

Today however, a good 3 years on, it was nice to talk to him and our conversation was open and we discussed the difficulties of moving on emotionally.  He had been incredibly hurt by his wife and it had taken years to get past feelings of betrayal while for me, I had struggled to regain my sense of self and move past my experiences of toxic relationships. As regards the timing of our connection, we were mismatched. 

During our conversation today, he stated that he felt that ‘life was just too short to live in the past’ and he was absolutely right, of course. There’s no doubt that if we remain trapped emotionally, then we’ll never move on and find the kind of relationship we truly deserve. No-one deserves to suffer at the hands of a controlling, abusive or cheating partner but it’s one thing that we know this, it’s another thing altogether when it comes to believing it.

When you’ve been hurt, that bitterness can so easily get locked deep inside. Forgetting betrayals, violence or manipulative behaviour all carried out in the name of love, is, well, it seems an impossible task. But when we hold onto those feelings, we become scared to move on. At the back of our minds, the niggling thought that we could make the same mistake again gnaws away.

The solution is this.

We have to face up to the fact that we were once in a less than healthy relationship and that somehow, we have risen from the remnants of those relationships, like the phoenix from the flame and we’ve repaired the old tatters of life and created an existence which is much preferable.  I don’t know about you but I never again want to live with an individual who utilises cruel behaviour as a sport.

We may have experienced loneliness, fear and anxieties about being alone, but, guess what, we’ve survived.  

My conversation this morning reminded me to let go of past hurts. My progression over the years had been pretty good but sometimes, we all need to hear the truth about a situation. We need to know that others believe in us and that we’ve already gained so much. My conversation this morning simply reinforced my belief that in time, we can and  must gradually lower those barriers if we are going to let good people into our lives.

If you are in this position and teetering on the edge of what appears to be an emotional void, do so with a brave heart, a layer of caution and, with more than a pinch of awareness. This way, as you step forward, you’ll choose new friends or partners wisely. You’ll never forget the past emotional pain or, the physical bruises but you can create and enrich healthier new experiences going forward if you give yourself permission.

There’s no guarantees that you’ll find the person of your dreams or that a new lover might not be at the right stage of their own development to truly appreciate you but, there is no hope of a happy ever after if you don’t try.

After all, if we shut everyone out, we limit our own potential for happiness.

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Abuse – Write From the Heart

Annette Young

by Annette Young

I was asked the other day why I focus my intent on helping women to recover from abusive relationships rather than reaching out to men who may have suffered similar, and the answer is simple, I write for the majority. Research indicates that more women are victims of abuse – both physically and emotionally than are men. I do not favour either sex in respect of recovery, abuse is abuse in my eyes and it’s a vile act. My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered from or is suffering a controlling or manipulative relationship.

I do know men who have endured manipulative relationships and have lost their confidence, identity and self-worth as a result. In addition, they have plummeted into the gloomy depths of depression and some no doubt, will have contemplated how to even carry on. So while men do suffer, notably, more women come forward than men.

I write as a direct result of my own personal experiences. Initially for me, it was therapeutic. Following on from this, I realised that I was on a mission to stand up for and to help others. I write about this subject with conviction and empathy and, I write from the heart.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I hear from so many women who have suffered similar experiences to me and I’m not just talking about a few locally, but on a worldwide basis. Around the globe, there are women almost driven to the depths of suicide, they are so unhappy and lost and damaged.

In this world, there are far more destructive relationships in existence than is possible to calculate, if you look around at your neighbours and friends and peek behind closed doors, you might notice the signs of a toxic relationship but in public, the abuser paints the picture of a loving connection, the abuser is often charming and gracious but, when no-one is there to see, the mask of love comes off.

Seriously, take a good look around. When you see beneath the mask, you see an ugly and evil soul.

I write with women in mind because as kindred spirits, sharing the same emotional viewpoints, my words probably resonate with them more. But abuse is abuse. Whether these acts are carried out by men or women, it is terribly wrong. I often wonder what pleasure these vile people can possibly gain through the belittling of others but bullies are bullies and control I guess is intoxicating. Unless we can stand up to them in the face of adversity, they win.

I’ve been through it, I’m living proof that there is a way out of the darkness and your first step has to be to accept it is happening and to then make a vow to yourself to get out.

Need a little help? Take a look at my book: Emotional Abuse – Get Out of My Head and Out of My Bed!

Just remember, you are not alone!

That Old Familiar Smile…

Annette Youngby Annette Young

You’d think  it would be easy to spot the warning signs and to nimbly side-step them.  After all, didn’t I promise myself….never again?

The problem is, irrespective of past experiences, we all want to have the ability to develop a good romantic relationship in life. Even those of us who say we prefer to be on our own would secretly love to welcome in that perfect other who compliments our lives rather than seeking to destroy it. But, where there have been toxic relationships, or emotional or physical abuse,  it’s likely that you’ve not only raised the barriers but nailed them shut.

That’s what happened to me on a recent trip back to the UK. I encountered someone who had once been an incredibly enticing and, intoxicating part of my life. When we were together all those  years ago, I was going through a very bad time in my life. I was under a great deal of stress and was grieving, so for some gloriously claimed moments, I had clutched at the chance of a distraction from my life, forgetting about everything but those moments and to feel truly alive again.

Years on, that flash from the past came back into my  life promising good ol’ familiarity and in a way, a safe haven from loneliness and the fear of having to meet someone new and, starting the whole ‘get to know you ‘ process again.

Even though I am an advocate for women recovering from any type of abuse because of my own experiences, I’m quite tough, mentally and emotionally these days, but I know all too well the temptation of succumbing to that old familiarity. The smile that still melts, the accent, the scent and remembering the simple pleasures of holding hands, it’s potent stuff. It’s a spark that ignites, it’s a hint of a promise and a reminder that life is for living and yet, it’s also less fearful because you remember so much about each other.

We both said it would be different. The years had taught us that life moves on, we’d grown and matured. He liked my positive spirit, my mental toughness and he recognised that I was whole again. But that didn’t stop those old ways emerging and infiltrating the simple pleasures and I began to remember why I had left him all those years ago.

There was no physical violence or scathing words, but, a failure to truly appreciate or to, I think,  value our connection. He wasn’t and still is not, a bad person, but shallow, and unfeeling …maybe.  He lacked depth, or the ability to really give of himself. Although I will never regret time spent with him, he did after all, provide a lifeline during some very gloomy days, it’s just not a good connection for someone who has endured the emotional pain of manipulative relationships. Frankly, the realisation that you still come way down the list of priorities is a stark reminder of how easy it is to make the same mistakes.

After the initial excitement of feeling flattered and alive in his presence, the vibrancy of our re-connection began to fade and my brain started calculating, noting age-old patterns and yes, I started to feel de-valued. With a sinking heart, I finished it again, emotional but determined that we all have times of weakness, we all have moments when we want to be loved but most of all, we want to be valued. There was no big drama as the sunset faded away on years of what might have been….just general acceptance that I am worth  so much more.

Have you suffered from emotional abuse? You are not alone. You can read my story here. 

Why I Won’t Find Love

Author Annette Young

Love can be amazingly elusive, we all search for it, covet it, honour it and hope once we find it, that love will stay. But true love is not easy to find.  The odds are greatly stacked against anyone meeting that special person  – being in the right place at the right time and, being ready to embrace that new person in their lives, yet thousands and millions of people do find love. Their lives meld beautifully, they have common interests, their circumstances fit, it just happens.

So why can’t I find love?

It’s a question I have asked myself many times over the years and for a long time I imagined that it would just happen, I would kind of stumble over that single other, we’d start chatting, cupid would appear, the magic would spark up and that would be that.  I anticipated an easy amalgamation of two lives.

When I was newly single in my late 30’s, I never imagined in a million years that 10 years later, I would still be alone.  I didn’t want to be single per se, I would have chosen to stay in my marriage – if there had been any chance that it could have been a happy one.  But once the foundations of a relationship have started to crack and you feel unappreciated, unloved and life becomes volatile, there is just no point.

I have tried to meet men over the years, believe me when I say that in the UK, it was like a dating frenzy, a conveyor belt of eligible individuals from all backgrounds, circumstances and with a multitude of experiences. Dating became an integral part of my life, I enjoyed meeting new people and gained a lot of new friends. I even met some men who, with hindsight, could have been quite special but I pushed them away and therein lies the problem.

When you have been a victim of any type of abuse, deep inside you are vulnerable. You get on with life, you do your best to make it good, you cover up the hurt and to the outside world, you may seem contented again, but your deepest insecurities start to affect every single thing you do. I turned down chances to be happy because maybe, there was a part of me that didn’t feel I deserved it, or that these  nice men didn’t deserve to be with someone who was damaged and who couldn’t be romantically giving anymore.

I met people readily but only allowed the wrong men to get close. Why? Because instinctively, this behaviour was familiar, it was comfortable although it was wrong, and it didn’t really matter if I walked away at some point, because they didn’t deserve better.

For many women who have endured domestic abuse in any shape or form, they probably feel the same and although most women will tell you they deserve more, they might not believe it deep down. If they have endured condescending remarks from their so-called love ones, or they have been physically hurt, the pain deep inside remains, for months and even years afterwards. It never truly goes away unless that woman faces it head on.  They feel insecure, unlovable, unlikable or unworthy. Let me tell you, that feeling sucks.

Recently, I came to the stark realisation that there’s a big part of me that wants my life to remain as it is . No matter how much I think about dipping my toe back into the dating waters, I can feel the barriers shutting down and firmly locking, barring the way forward. In many ways, it’s a relief. I have dated too many men who were controlling, manipulative or just plain volatile.

I can’t go through yet another destructive relationship. It’s too hurtful, damaging and soul destroying.  Subconsciously, I’m protecting myself, because many single men of my age seem to have an agenda.  They want an instant relationship, they don’t want to take time, they want to take over. I have met many men in recent years who have abusive qualities, they were all different in their words and actions, but believe me, I can now (finally) detect the signs.

I don’t mind being single if I’m honest. I have learned to really enjoy my own company, to choose who I want to spend time with and to not bother with those who are not genuinely caring. I like being able to live the life that I want without having to fit a partner into my busy schedule, but deep down, I know if there was someone truly nice, I would make that effort.

I’m not writing this to incite sympathy, rather it’s part of the cleansing process that I am going through. It’s the  next part of the ‘stand up and be counted’ stage and I finally feel that it’s time for me to have my say. I strongly believe that being single is not so bad, I’m not just saying that, there are truly many benefits to being alone and I often feel genuinely happy with my life. When I think back to those relationships that have hurt me so badly and the men who treated me as if I was nothing, I breathe a huge sigh of relief because I am free from that. I can honestly say hand on heart that being alone is far better than being with someone for the sake of it.

I still hope that one day romance will make an appearance but I’m of the mind that it will happen if it’s meant to. I think it would take a very special person to break through these barriers now and if that person is prepared to do so, then I look forward to that moment. If not, I have plans for my single life, I recognise that I have some wonderful and caring friends and my family of course and I have plans to travel and experience all that life has to offer.

If my words strike a chord with anyone, then know this, life can be good after bad relationships – even if it means choosing to be alone for a while.  It may be a necessary part of the healing process.


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Emotional Abuse

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