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Abuse and Low Self Esteem: What is the Connection?

Updated on August 16, 2014

Hiding in Plain Sight

Body Language Reflects Inner Fears
Body Language Reflects Inner Fears | Source

Low self-esteem is a term that is a somewhat broad evaluation of ones' own self worth. Development of our self-esteem begins at the early stages of childhood, and remains a part of our lives forever molding us in one direction or another. The parent or guardian who is the focal point for raising the youngster has the power to instill a strong sense of value or one that is negative. In these early stages, everyone and everything can make an indelible impression, like a tape recorder documenting each event that shapes and defines our lives.

For an individual that has endured verbal or physical abuse, building self esteem is no doubt a challenging feat, especially if they are still active in the relationship that is simultaneously tearing down any remnants of self worth. The first step then is of course, to abandon the relationship so the healing journey can begin. Rebuilding one's sense of value and self-esteem is never easy though, chances are it has gradually been depleted after years of being put down with little recognition for significant achievements. Further perpetuating the negative cycle is that adults that have grown up with a negative self image are far more likely to be drawn to and tolerate poor treatment from a significant other because on some level it is familiar territory and all they have really ever known.

So before one can get rid of any and all lingering connections that are tearing down the ability and right to grow and thrive, obtaining support is an essential step in the rebuilding process. Depending on the situation this may require multiple referrals for financial assistance, legal help, housing and frequent counseling which provides the emotional backbone, guidance and strength to trust in someone other than an abusive spouse or guardian that an abuse victim has grown to obey. If there are children involved it is even more important to break free of an abusive relationship but it will also be more complicated. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

Prioritize a positive healthy lifestyle without fear, and if unable to visualize it for yourself, do it for your children or the child in you that can now speak. Break the cycle for good and imagine your children growing and blossoming, feeling good about themselves, safe and secure, not afraid. They will mirror what they see in you so you must be strong, even if you don't feel that way at first try to "act as if". You are making a change, which is always frightening but it is far better than doing nothing.

Self-esteem boosters should to be utilized daily in order to counteract the effects of the abuse.

Awareness: Writing tells a story

Journals can provide a more accurate view of daily struggles
Journals can provide a more accurate view of daily struggles | Source

Words that heal

Positive affirmations will eventually improve a poor self image
Positive affirmations will eventually improve a poor self image | Source

Strength in Numbers

Connect with others for strength and support
Connect with others for strength and support | Source

Powerful punch

Whether its dancing, running or even a round in the ring, Exercise reduces stress and increases positive self image
Whether its dancing, running or even a round in the ring, Exercise reduces stress and increases positive self image | Source

Online Therapy? Why not

However one connects, communication helps heal
However one connects, communication helps heal | Source

Self Esteem Builders

1.) Start your Journey with a Journal

Begin by making a list of your strong points. This was very difficult for me, it was easy to think of all the things I disliked about myself but I struggled to make a list of good things. It may help to remember what others have complimented you about over the years. Everyone has positive traits and I think that is what this exercise helps bring to the forefront. Things like "I have a nice smile", "I have a generous heart", "I am a talented baseball player", etc. You can refer back to this list after you have written in your journal for awhile and see what has changed and how you feel about yourself in comparison.

2.) Be Kind to Yourself

Speak kindly about yourself every day. Do not allow yourself to replay harmful words like "I am so stupid", "I look so fat and ugly" or "I can not ever do that". Counteract harmful words with positive words. In time, speaking kind words will boost self-esteem as one realizes the truth to the positive words.

3.) Surround yourself with Positive People

Make an attempt to spend time with positive people. If the group of people that you normally socialize with harbors negative energy, it will be difficult to build self-esteem. Take a class or join a group that shares similar interests and activities. It will encourage you to participate in things that make you happy and give you a sense of accomplishment, boosting how you feel about yourself.

4.) Exercise

Most mental health professionals recommend an exercise plan to reduce depression caused by verbal abuse. As we hear more and more, exercise releases endorphins to the brain, and lowers the chemicals that may attack an immune system. A walk, a dance or even boxing with the best of em are all ways to lift that funk and feel better about yourself in a flash!

5.) Counseling

Attend counseling sessions to help overcome self-esteem and other issues caused from abuse. The counselor can also direct you to a relevant support group where you can meet with other people that also need support. Group sessions and helping others feel good allows you to see that you are not the only one who experiences the problems associated with low self esteem and makes you feel good at the same time. Giving back by listening to others promotes healing and forgiveness, both are essential to attain a positive and healthy self image.

Affirmations-Love Yourself First

Understanding Low Self Esteem and Abuse


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    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Thank you for your feedback midget38, you are so right!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      For anyone, it is necessary to surround ourselves with positive people. Thanks for sharing,

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Greetings Audrey! Hope you are enjoying your summer! It is so good to hear from you - Your rainbows do wonders - like your hugs...We all need that positive spark every now and then to keep us going! A magical day when I met you!Your friend Kathy

    • forthewords profile image


      7 years ago from California

      Such a great hub! This is one for everyone to read, not just those who've battled low self esteem, but for all those who know and love others that do! Thank you for the fantastic insight and tips. Each one is so valuable.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Dear Kathy - This is such a marvelous and well written hub. I found myself pouring over every word. Your list of "Self-esteem Builders" are so helpful...very important tips. One of my favorite on the list is to surround yourself with positive people.

      You are a light for others to follow. I continue to be grateful for having met you here on Hubpages. Sending you hugs and a rainbow to color your day. Voted up and across except for funny and will share this as well.

    • leigh anns page profile image

      leigh anns page 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      Very good hub with useful information. I have battled this issue. Gaining self love and self worth is worth the effort. Thank you for sharing.

    • brittvan22 profile image


      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great Hub!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Kath-it's been far too long since I've swung by to read your work. This one was a wonderful place to return to. Great suggestions listed here on helping one to build or re-build his self-esteem. All of these are such important steps to take. Many of these are ones that I have suggested to my patients suffering from self esteem issues. I will make a note of the one's I haven't yet shared with them. Thanks for this useful piece. I voted it up/U/I/A

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      A pleasure to see you Eiddwen! Thank you for your positive inspiration, like your hubs - beauty beckons beauty, your feedback brings me such joy!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Brilliant Kath and a great hub which I know will benefit many.

      I know only too well how abuse and low self esteem go together hand in hand.

      In the same breath I also recognise this one for the gem it is.

      Take care my friend and enjoy your day.


    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Hi John, Well at least you have learned to add a touch of survivalist humor to your life (?) which can be a great coping mechanism...I must say. BTW, I do hope your living situation improves, never easy to go home after being on your own, then again, it has been rather chilly out there, maybe you can reexamine options come Spring ;-) Thanks for stopping!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Greetings to you Kashmir56! Thank you for coming by and sharing your own experience, I know exactly what you mean!

      Take care my friend!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      How are you Nell? Love your profile image....Bullying is such a familiar memory, for me and for so many and one of the biggest self esteem zappers there is!! I do wish there was a way to take that out of the growing-up equation altogether but to date, I haven't heard of any remedies. I suppose we can only try to focus on what we can change about ourselves. I am so glad that you popped in! Thanks for your feedback.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thank you so much Dee, I agree, a positive self image is essential for all that we do in life! Without it, everything else is such a struggle!

      I am so glad you had a chance to comment!

    • johnwindbell profile image


      7 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      Thank you so much, you really drove this one home with me. I've been abused so long I think I enjoy it. What self-esteem? ....oh, I remember that, and I think I remember happiness. And to think I had to move back, six years ago, with the people that abuse me the most, my parents! So, it's either abuse, or homeless. Sake care.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Chatkath, great and useful information and advice within this well written hub. Having been a very verbal abusive relationship a few years ago i know how important this information is,great job my friend !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, So nice to see you! I do have low self esteem, I think it stems from when I was bullied at school, I know it sounds pathetic at my age, but when something brings me down, it really brings me down, more so than it should, I will try your great ideas, they are really helpful, cheers nell

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 

      7 years ago

      Decided that I needed to come over for a visit. There have been some people, in recent years, that have tried to downplay self-esteem. One must like one's self in order to be able to have healthy relationships of any kind. And, I see you believe as I absolutely must surround yourself with positive people. Great hub voted up and extremely useful.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Great to see you SS - I can really relate, I have had more than a few toxic relationships along the way, that only contributed to a low self image, exactly what I thought I deserved!!

      I hope that you are treating yourself better these days, I have found it to be such a long journey - full speed ahead! Thanks for stopping my friend.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 

      7 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hey CK ~ so great to see you. This is an awesome hub. Low self esteem has hurt me in many ways in my life, but mainly that I have allowed others to treat me inappropriately in relationships because I thought that is what I deserved. It has been a lifelong lesson for sure. Thank you for tackling this important topic.


    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Hi Prasetio my friend! So good to see you. I am glad that you had time to provide your expert feedback, you are the best. Thanks!!!

    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      My friend, I learn many things here. Especially for self attitude. I love your advice. Thanks for writing and share with us. Good job and rated up!


    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Greetings twentyfive! You are so right, low self esteem only complicates life, making every day issues much more difficult to deal with! Thanks so much for coming by to comment! Cheers!

    • twentyfive profile image


      7 years ago

      This is an excellent hub. Low self esteem cause some other issues that need to be really tackle.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      How nice to see you - and thanks for the self esteem boost! We should all have such wonderful friends! I am so glad you stopped by!

    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      Hello again, Kath - good, solid Hub - You always have interesting things to say. I loved the advise and have passed it on to a good friend . Good points - people forget that exercise makes a difference on how you feel about yourself - and walking is a wonderful way to start for many people. Keep you chin high, Kath - you are awesome!


    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thank you keetee, especially for sharing your own experience, proof that as much as words can indeed cause us so much pain, one can move on....however difficult, the most important thing is to take back your power by allowing yourself to succeed. Anger, however seemingly appropriate, only drains all that vital energy leaving us empty and confused. I am so glad that you made the choice to move on!

      One day you will be ready to write about it - perhaps it will be a healing experience for you but only when you are able. Again thanks so much for your comments!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Greetings b. Malin, you are so right, it is never too late to regain that all-important self esteem, as we see everyday - Thank you for visiting and for your feedback! Always appreciated.

    • keetee2012 profile image


      7 years ago from somewhere out there

      Useful tips on building up one's self-esteem, Kath!

      I use to have a very low self-esteem when I was a child till I was growing up, mainly because of the verbal abuse I used to get from my drunkard father. He died two years ago. There are still some traces of painful memories but I managed to move on. In search of peace, I learned to forgive him and all the people who caused me so much pain. In the process, I learned to forgive myself. It's not an overnight thing. It took me several years to overcome it.

      Hope I could write about it someday. I still have difficulty in organizing my thoughts so for now, I want to learn through reading.

      Thumbs up for this hub :)

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      A Wonderful and Timely Hub on such an Important Subject Chatkath. It's so Good to know that "Abuse and Low Self Esteem" can be Corrected and Helped. You've written, such good, as well as practical, advice, for those that need help in overcoming these Scars. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      It is always so nice to see you HBN and hear your positive comments. Thank you for your visit, hope you have a wonderful day. See you soon!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Wonderful, comprehensive article on a serious and important topic. Anyone who's been abused, especially as a small child has a long way to go before healing occurs because, as you pointed out in this article, children mirror the actions of those closest to them.

      I like your detailed suggestions for rebuilding self-esteem.

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Ah Sunnie, the epitome of a positive role model and friend. Is this why it is always so nice to see you?

      Thank you for your kind words and feedback ~ Hope you are well.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Greetings Silva, that is one of the side effects of having low self esteem, hooking up with scary people!? I can't wait to read your sociopath hub, seems like since I moved in early fall I have had less time for writing. I miss my HP friends so much and it is so nice to see everyone again!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thanks so much Shea! Glad that you had a chance to read and understand. Enjoy your day!

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      7 years ago from new jersey

      "...because on some level it is familiar territory and all they have really ever known." Amen!

      Great hub!

      I agree with everything you said... positive people that we can trust!!! for me that's everything: trust. Glad I saw your name today! 8-)

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 

      7 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Voted up and useful. Good advice. I will link this article to one I wrote about becoming entangled with a sociopath; increasing one's self-esteem will surely help in disengaging from harmful relationships. Thanks, Chatkath.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      7 years ago

      Good Morning Kath

      A great hub about an important issue.You offered some great advice and insite for low self esteem that many feel at sometime or the other. Thank you!


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