How to Regain Respect, Self-Esteem and Confidence after Abuse and Domestic Violence
How to regain self esteem and confidence after suffering domestic violence is not easy. It cannot be achieved without support from friends and family in the immediate proximity of the victim. When a victim is living in a foreign country, isolated from a support group, escape from domestic violence may take a very long time.
Before András lost his job Julika was outgoing, exuberant, cheerful and always full of positive energy. After seven years of domestic abuse, violence and put down, she became withdrawn, introvert, shy, bad tempered and had lost all self confidence. Luckily Julika had the help of British Immigration and her newly found colleagues who inadvertently helped her find her old self again.
Julika was used to spending her evenings alone while András was out drinking with his low-life friends. That night the door suddenly slammed open and András burst into the room swaying a bottle of cheap red wine.
Even now that he was not looking his best she still loved him very, very much. These days András often didn’t even bother to shave or brush his teeth. His hair was too long and he was beginning to look like a tramp. When she had made a remark about it a few weeks ago he had shouted at her:
‘Who the f... do you think you are, always talking down at me like that, with your snobby intellectual family background, always thinking they are all better than me, just because I don’t have a father who is a university professor hey? Who the f... do you think you are? You stupid bitch! And why don’t you mind your own business, you don’t know anything, you are so stupid. I do what I like!’
Charming Prince Turns Into Monster
Since then Julika had stopped trying to interfere with his life. She remembered how, long ago, when they had been at art school together, she had been so proud that of all the girls who fancied him, he had picked her. Then at nineteen she hadn’t known much about human psychology. She did not know then that a guy, however good looking and kind he was, could become so mixed up that he could make life hell for those around him. Neither did she know at that age that alcohol could turn the charming prince into a hideous monster. That night was the first time she was about to find out.
She got up from the sofa, had a tall stretch, and slowly paced towards the bathroom to brush her teeth, when she suddenly felt a strong pull, a jerk on her right arm. It hurt. András was shouting, pulling her back towards the sofa, his eyes wild and furious.
‘How many lovers did you have before you knew me, come on, you can tell me, I won’t mind, just tell me, how many?’
‘Hey, you are hurting my arm; stop it, what’s wrong with you?’
‘Well, tell me, how many guys did you fuck, I want to know, how many?’ And he pushed her down, squeezing her arm even harder.
Leave me Alone!
‘I don’t know; it’s got nothing to do with you. I didn’t know you then, did I?’ He bent down closer towards her head. She could smell his breath, like the smell of gasoline. His eyes became smaller and blurred as he continued to shout:
‘I want to know their names, what they looked like, how big their dicks were, were they bigger than mine? Well, are you going to tell me?’ He jerked at her arm again. ‘How many?’
Julika was traumatized with incomprehension. She had never experienced anything like this; she had never seen it in the movies, never read about it in a book. This was a totally new and shocking experience. None of it made any sense.
Where was the András she Knew?
Where was the person she had fallen in love with, the man of her dreams who had been so kind and romantic, who would sing love songs to her and dream about a future as a famous painter? She had always encouraged him, had even taken him to the Louvres in Paris, and she had taken many pictures of his paintings to show art galleries all around town to show him how much she believed in his talent.
They had been having such a good time together until recently. Julika could not understand this sudden transformation in András. Neither did she know how to deal with it. She tried to reason with him, be rational the only way she could, the only way she knew.
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‘Come on, stop behaving like this. You’ve had too much to drink, now let go of me!’ This irritated him and made him even more furious.
‘Well, are you going to tell me? How many guys did you fuck before you knew me?’ And he pushed his knee into her leg to stop her getting up.
‘I don’t know, one or two...’
‘Well, was it one, or was it two? Or did you only suck the second one’s dick or what? Maybe it was two and a half?’ He shouted even louder than before, laughing at his own joke.
‘Let me go, you are crazy, be quiet, you are going to wake up the neighbours,’ she hushed while trying to wriggle her way out of his strong grip. He pushed her down even harder and suddenly slapped her across the face. Now she was crying in terror.
Hiding in a Corner
He Yelled and Punched
'TELL ME!’ He yelled and gave her another punch, on the head this time. She managed to free one of her legs and kicked against his chest to try to get him off her but he grabbed her big toe and twisted it so hard that she had to stop kicking. She rolled off the sofa crying loudly.
‘OK! I slept with Ferenc who was my boyfriend for six months, and then I was with Laszlo for six months before I met you and you know all this already, so what? It’s got nothing to do with us now.’
Wham, another blow, this time to the back of her head and Julika was thrown against the table leg. She rolled over, crawled under the table, quickly got up, and hurried into the kitchen locking the door behind her. Now he could not get to her. He carried on banging on the door and shouting abuse behind the glass-paneled door, less and less loudly until all went quiet.
Julika was sitting on the floor in the corner with her knees drawn up close to her chin; she was trembling, crying her eyes out. She could hear herself weeping, ‘mummy...mummy…,’ like she had done when she was a little girl.
After that she learned to recognize the signals of oncoming attacks but never managed to avoid them all.
When András was sober he sometimes talked about it apologetically saying how much he loved her and that he promised never to lay a hand on her ever again.
But It took six more years of coping with a violent husband that she was in love with to free her from his abuse.
Let us hope that all those suffering abuse can get out of domestic violence and regain their respect, self esteem and confidence for a normal happy life in the future.
Speak your heart out. You can make a contribution helping others in similar situations by sharing your experiences and solutions in the comments discussion below.
Those who have never experienced an abusive or violent relationship often believe that upon finding a way out, victims’ difficulties are solved. But survivors know that leaving is not the end of the nightmare - it is only the beginning of a difficult and challenging journey toward healing and happiness. "It’s My Life Now" offers victims the practical guidance they need to heal and reclaim their lives.
A Lucky Escape
Julika was offered a job in England and András followed as he was financially dependent on her. But when his three months tourist visa and all her savings had run out he had to leave the country. For once British Customs proved useful. She was free. Oh she was not free of emotional pain. She missed him terribly for the good moments they had had and still cried herself to sleep for the first few weeks in this new, foreign country.
During the day at least her work took up most of her thinking time. At work the boss, Mr. Benesh, put her in charge of the advanced syllabus which was still at a research stage. She had to teach her findings to the students to test out the lesson plans and devise a permanent curriculum. Julika was surprised at being given so much responsibility right from the start. Her CV and recommendations must have made a good impression on her boss, she thought. Being so used to denigration, it never occurred to her that perhaps her personality had something to do with it. Her frequent meetings with Mr. Benesh proved challenging, interesting and full of positive surprises. They got on so well, like two partners on the same intellectual wavelength.
Slowly but surely Julika began to discover that she was not as stupid and ugly and all the other names under the sun András had been calling her, as she had been made to believe she was. She liked her colleagues and was popular with the students who were fascinated by her new findings in the subject matter. Many of them stayed on after class to ask questions which she keenly answered, being so deeply focused on her topic.
The Return of Self Respect
One event turned everything around, once and for all, for Julika. She was sitting in the staff room correcting some papers when two colleagues came in, chatting:
‘Oh absolutely, but then Julika is a very intelligent woman you know!’
They had not seen her sitting there with her back towards the door immersed in her work. Are they really talking about me? Could it really be true that I am not a stupid ugly bitch?
From then on Julika’s career took off. She soon met her second husband, a good man who gave her three beautiful children. She feels confident now, has regained self respect and, partly through her suffering domestic violence, she is feeling stronger than ever. As for poor András, she could probably beat him up now if she so wished. But feeling good within herself Julika can only feel empathy and hopes he has not perished from alcohol.
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