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But He Says He Loves Me: How I Finally Left an Abusive Relationship

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But He Says He Loves Me: How I Finally Left an Abusive Relationship

Domestic violence, whether it be emotional or physical abuse, is always a difficult and controversial topic. I have spent months wondering how I would be able to write about this, as it is a delicate subject.

Everyone’s situations are different but after careful thought and consideration, I have decided to speak from my own experiences and my own perspective in hopes that someone that may need to read this, happens to come across this article. They may relate to it in their own way just when they need it the most.

When Will Enough Be Enough

“Where are you?!” I could hear him searching for me frantically, slamming doors as he looked for me in each room. I heard glass break and he screamed out for me again. His voice filled with anger, he was huffing, puffing and swearing profusely.

As I lay on my stomach under the bed, I held onto the knife tightly trying to hold my breath, scared he would hear me if I made a sound. I didn’t know what I would do with the knife but it made me feel a tiny bit safer. My body was shaking in fear, my mind was racing, “Is this really happening? What is this even about? Why did he have to come home drunk?”

I heard the back door slam, he must be searching for me in the yard. I quickly grabbed my phone and called the police. It felt like forever for someone to pick up, my heart racing, palms were sweaty and I was in a crazy state of panic. Finally, someone answered, “Please state your type of emergency.” I tried to speak quietly but I was so frightened I was speaking too fast.

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“What is your name and what is the emergency?” The voice on the phone asked. “Please just send someone to help me, my boyfriend is going crazy and I need help fast,” I pleaded. “What is your name, location and what is your contact number?” The voice over the phone asked. “I don’t have time for this, just come help me”, I pleaded.

I heard the back door slam again, he was in the house. My heart skipped a beat and I hung up the call almost immediately. I grabbed onto the knife while I lay under the bed. I couldn’t hear where he was, my blood was rushing through my veins as I used every ounce of my energy to hold my breath. I didn’t want him to find me. I was scared for my life. There was silence. Then I heard a bang, it sounded like he punched a hole into the wall again.

My phone rang, I looked at the screen and it must’ve been the police, I quickly hung up. My heart sank, “Oh my god, I hope he didn’t hear that, why on earth would the cops call when I have already told them my situation!” Next thing I knew, he grabbed my foot and was dragging me from under the bed.

Why I Stayed

Before him, I would’ve said that I would always leave if a guy were to hit me or even touch me in an abusive way. It wasn’t until I was actually in the situation, I finally understood why it was so hard for many people to walk away from any type of abuse. It started off small, little remarks and comments that undermined me and my character. Slowly, it grew into something bigger, by this point, I was invested.

When I first met him, I wasn’t interested in him. He was a charismatic guy that everyone in town knew and loved. He was known to be a bit of a “player” and I just didn’t want to get entangled with a “player.” I was a challenge to him. He was determined to get me. I wasn’t as easy to catch as the other girls were, so he chased hard.

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When I finally agreed to go on a date with him,  he did his best to sweep me off my feet. He wrote me cute notes, bought me gifts, wined and dined me. He treated me in a way I had never been treated before. He told me how special I was and he told me he loved me. This went on for over a year and I remember wondering how on earth his ex had ever left a guy like this. I was on cloud nine. Then we moved in together, got engaged and everything went downhill.

Every time I tried to leave, he promised he would change, he promised things would be different and I would end up staying in hopes that the guy I had met would come back. Every time I told him I had had enough, he would say, “You are never going to find anyone that loves you like I do. Your family didn’t even want you, they kicked you out of their home. You lost your virginity to several men you don’t even know, who’s going to want you? Every other guy is going to think you’re worthless.” He knew my past, he knew my insecurities, he knew how to use it against me and at the time, I believed him. After all, who would want someone like me? He says he loves me. I should be lucky he loves me because nobody else would.

How I Finally Left

As the old saying goes, people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. The universe knew I needed to open my eyes. I was back and forth, making up and breaking up with him and just couldn’t get the willpower to leave. That’s when someone that I call a “soulmate” walked into my life.

My soulmate inspired me to travel, to see what else was out in the world. He knew nothing of my past but he knew I was stuck in my own little bubble. He doesn’t know just how much of an impact he had on my life but because of him, I finally decided to take the plunge and booked a one-way ticket to Thailand. Little did I know that this was the start of a massive transformation and self-discovery journey.

What I Learned

Looking back, I had a part to play in that relationship. He was messed up and didn’t know how to deal with it so he lashed out. I too was messed up and didn’t know to love myself so I accepted that kind of behaviour.  Misery loves company and we were both two insecure souls that came together and made a recipe for disaster.

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I don’t regret that relationship though, I learned a lot from that. I learned what I didn’t want and it also pushed me into a path towards learning to get to know myself, my flaws, my insecurities and to discover who I really am and what I really deserve.

That relationship taught me that even though at times we can feel stuck and see no way out, there is always an answer. Most often than not, it is the simplest answer. Just leave. No matter how hard or impossible it may seem at the time, once we start to action what we know deep down is right, the universe will help you. It brings people, situations and light bulb moments to us in order to assist us in our paths.

I’m not saying that everyone should book a one-way ticket and leave but for me, it really did help. Completely removing myself from the situation stopped me from going back. It opened me up to a whole new passion, travel. It opened me up to the big, wide world out there and taught me that the bubble I was stuck in was actually a tiny fraction of what was actually going on in the world. It taught me that I did have control over my life and I did have a choice.

I will admit, that relationship left me even more messed up for a while but I’m definitely a stronger person for it. I wouldn’t know how to love myself the way I do now if I hadn’t experienced that lesson. Just because someone says they love you, doesn’t necessarily ring true.

Nobody can truly love someone else until they can love themselves. Even though he said he loved me, he didn’t. He didn’t love himself. If he did, he would never have treated me like that. I didn’t love myself either because if I did, I would never have stayed or accepted that treatment.

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I just remember having a moment while I was overseas, sitting on the beach, toes in the sand, watching a gorgeous sunset, a wave of freedom washing over me and I thought to myself, “Why did I not leave sooner?”

If you are in a similar situation or know someone that is, please know that there is a way out and it doesn’t have to be like this. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, no one deserves to go through this and no one deserves to feel stuck. There is a solution and there is always a way. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you are in Australia and need support please call ; 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au

If you are outside of Australia here is a link for shelters, crisis centres and hotlines; http://www.vachss.com/help_text/domestic_violence_intl.html

Featured photo credit: medicaldaily.com via images.medicaldaily.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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