Tag Archives: domestic abuse

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.

Want to boost your self-esteem? Click HERE

Read my story here and help the healing process. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Emotional Abuse


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. 

Need help in the recovery process? CLICK HERE

Break Free Recovery

Toxic and Cruel. The Signs of Emotional Abuse

toxic people

by Annette Young

Abusers wield their words like a weapon. They are masters at deceiving, bullying and confusing. They want you to become a victim. Their victim.

If this sounds a little dramatic, don’t be fooled into thinking that people cannot be so cruel to act this way  or that even the strongest individual cannot be duped. Seriously..it happens all the time.

There’s no doubt that some people are more likely to be manipulated than others, but, it’s not a sign of weakness. Manipulative tactics can easily make you question yourself and fill you with self-doubt. Sadly, by the time you realise what is  happening, this person will have already infiltrated his/her way into your life.  Don’t think that it will always be someone new either. Take a look at people around you – work colleagues, your partner or even a close friend. If they have control of your life, there’s manipulation going on.

There are many different tactics but these are common ones:

It’s always your fault.

Have you heard that one? It doesn’t matter how hard you try to please this person or to fit in, they always manage to somehow blame you.  They make you feel stupid, incompetent and leave you doubting your own abilities. If you’ve ever tried to tell them how they make you feel or to stand up to them, no doubt you’ll get a rather harsh, personal attack listing all of your inadequacies.


Manipulators try very hard to get inside your mind and to screw with it.  They say that you’re so predictable. They may even try to second-guess what you are thinking. They are the mind games champions.

Overly helpful

This one may not sound like a problem but a manipulator will often work damn hard to make you depend on them. They are so supportive at first that you can’t believe your luck. You’ve finally found someone so loving and caring but then, the real person emerges once you have fallen so deeply for them or you have become dependent on them. The story very quickly takes a more sinister turn.

Complex responses

When you dare question a toxic person, you will often come to regret it. Their answers are long drawn out and overly complex. Yes, they are the politicians of the manipulative kind and wrap up their responses in a blanket of words.  The solution here is to try to focus on the topic, don’t let them distract you with long words or drawn out complicated statements which account for very little.

An abuser will often use varying tactics to undermine, to control or to belittle and no two abusers are the same. Sadly, they don’t wear warning labels and there is no quick way to determine their intent. It’s a sad fact of life that you have to be careful who you trust. So, with this in mind, it’s best to monitor their words and actions and, consider who your friend, colleague or partner makes you feel.  If you come away feeling down, confused, anxious and realise  your self-esteem is dragging behind you, the chances are you’ve encountered someone highly toxic and quite dangerous.

Are you fed up feeling emotionally inept? Do you feel as if your relationship has been a lie? Do you need help to recover and to rebuild your life?

Break Free Recovery

Try our Break Free Recovery Program. CLICK HERE.


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.

Break Free Recovery

Are you ready to start the healing process? We can help. CLICK HERE.

Emotional Abuse – What About Me?

Annette Youngby Annette Young

I am often asked to define emotional abuse and I always say that it is  hard to answer definitively because each case is based on an individual level.  It’s easy to believe that derogatory behaviour may happen if couples no longer have deep and loving feelings for each other. Perhaps, irritability or frustration creeps into the equation although, this is never a reason for treating someone badly. But however you wish to define emotional abuse, know this, it is far more common than you might think and, even if you are in a loving relationship, there will be many people around you who are cruel or damaging relationships.

So how do you know if you are a victim of emotional abuse?

Sadly, within a toxic environment, there is often humiliation or criticising behaviour. Sometimes, spiteful comments are wrapped up in humour but of course, this doesn’t detract from the core message, even if it makes it harder to quantify.

It’s easier to comprehend if you consider your own relationship. Does your partner make fun of you, or, regularly insult you in front of others? Does he talk down to you or treat you as if you are a child? Does he make you feel that you are to blame if there is an argument?

If this all sounds familiar, it’s likely that you have questioned this behaviour and you may have been accused of being too sensitive, too silly or too paranoid. Over time, derogatory behaviour can be hugely damaging. It leads to feelings of insecurity and self-doubts and will of course, widen the divide between you. Condescending behaviour is not funny and sarcastic comments designed to hurt are not conducive to a loving relationship.

Where possible,  it’s worth trying to fix any issues within your relationship but typically, talking it out doesn’t work. Counselling is a good option if you are both willing to go, but,  just having awareness of any abusive behaviour will help to stop the decline in respect of your own self-esteem or confidence. It may be that you can’t resolve your relationship and then, the choice is yours if you wish to stay, but, never let anyone take away your belief in who you are.

Break Free Recovery

Ready to start the healing process?

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.

Break Free Recovery

Sign up for our Break Free Recovery Program

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.

Break Free Recovery

Sign up for our Break Free Recovery Program

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.

Ready For a Good Relationship?

Ready for Love

If you are single, ask yourself this,  ‘are you ready for a good relationship?’

If you have come out of a bad relationship, most probably you will say that you would like to experience a kind and loving relationship the next time around, even if you feel you are not ready to start dating again. This is  as it should be. But there are always exceptions to the rule. I know some women who are still attracted to the proverbial bad boy, needing a man with a little edge, but, that edge can border on the selfish, thoughtless or even cruel. We may be drawn towards those who are confident and good-looking but, most women would love to have a kind and nurturing relationship and to feel truly cared for.

The problem when you have endured a toxic relationship is that you can lose sense of your own identity and lose the ability to make positive decisions or to even stick up for yourself. Even those who break free may struggle to form a strong relationship as they have poor romantic foundations on which to judge new liaisons.

But how do you know if you are ready to move on and to develop that good relationship?

Break Free Recovery

Sign up for our Break Free Recovery Program

I asked myself this a lot over the years and came to the conclusion that I had to trust my instinct and would know when the time came. Of course, I had no idea that it would take as long as it did.  During my years of singledom,  I faced a lot of comments from close friends who were perhaps, mildly exasperated by my inability to have any sort of decent relationship but, although I did walk away from many potential love interests, do you know what? I really think I did so for the right reasons.

It took me a long time to realise that I deserved to have a good relationship and just because previous partners obviously hadn’t valued me, that didn’t make their opinions count. It’s never easy to discount the continuous verbal put-downs, but somehow, you have to find the strength to do so. It’s only when you get to the stage where irrespective of the words or actions used by others, you really do know your own worth, that you will be ready to move on.

I actually had to give myself permission in the end. That may sound a bit strange but years of pulling the shutters down and saying I’m not available for love, meant that I had formed new protective behaviours and opening myself up for romance meant I had to purposely push the barriers to one side.

I decided I would give people a chance to prove their worth and not look for obvious flaws in the first instance. If any man was not suitable or, just unkind, this would become obvious quite quickly.  Those who couldn’t be bothered or were just unreliable, I accepted that they were not right for me. I didn’t feel malice or anger, I simply discarded any thoughts of any romantic feelings. I was in control and that’s the best way to be. I allowed my heart to warm towards potential love interests but I also engaged my brain. I knew I had to break the cycle of abusive relationships. It was down to me and I certainly deserved more.  Anyone who gave me their time and who made more of an effort was welcomed in and that’s the way it has been.

I can tell you that it’s a nice feeling when someone relishes your company for who you are and not for what you can give them.

If, romantically, you have suffered, you are more likely to be vulnerable and likely to attract the same time of character. So, my advice is, instead of rushing into a relationship, spend time developing and nurturing your sense of self-worth, it is so important you do this because if you don’t believe in yourself, why would others? Believe me when I say that if you have self-doubts, low self-esteem and an inability to love yourself, you may as well hang a giant sign around your neck saying ‘treat me badly.’ It’s not because you want this of course, it’s just that the wrong type of men will be drawn to the signals that you put out.

At strategic points in your life, ask yourself, are you ready for a good relationship? There will come a time when you say yes and really mean it and that’s when you’ll attract someone who is kind and decent and he will enhance your life and not destroy it.

Annette Young


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 Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Want to improve your self-esteem and confidence? Sign up for our FREE 10 Minutes A Day Transformation Program here.

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 Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Want to improve your self-esteem and confidence? Sign up for our FREE 10 Minutes A Day Transformation Program here.

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.

Break Free Recovery

Sign up for our Break Free Recovery Program