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5 Truths About Abusive Relationships

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5 Truths About Abusive Relationships

The first time it happened I don’t even think it settled in for a day or so. We were in a fight about something when suddenly his hands were wrapped tightly around my neck and I was pinned up against the wall. He didn’t hit me. There was never striking by hand. Most of the time I was shoved and pushed into walls or furniture, shoved up against a wall and pinned against it beyond my will. Thrown head first into a headboard, resulting in a bloody nose. One time in the middle of a fight the shotgun was suddenly taken down off the wall. There is nothing like seeing your partner grab a gun during a fight.

Those were the physical things. The verbal attacks were about as damaging. “You’ll never amount to anything.” Or “If it wasn’t for your long hair you wouldn’t even be remotely attractive. Don’t ever cut it, or you’ll be nothing.” Or “Gee, looks like you’ve lost some weight, I think your ass seems less wide than normal.”

Fear, control, manipulation and threats were a part of my daily life. Combine all that joy with late nights out drinking and you may wonder why I didn’t go running for the door – right? What’s wrong with women (or men) who stay in these relationships anyway? (Domestic abuse victims are approximately 85% women and 15% men.)

Nothing. Well, nothing at the start other than a good heart, a bent towards forgiveness and searching for love in the wrong place. At the end of enduring this type of relationship for any length of time a lot of damage has been done. Over 38 million women will find themselves the victim of abuse at the hands of their intimate partner at some time during their life. See this link for even more sobering facts.

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Here are some insights about abusive relationships from someone that’s been there. Even if you don’t want to admit it, if you are in an abusive relationship then these are truths for you also, as painful as they may be to admit.

1. You are worth more

What starts off as well intentioned forgiveness turns into forfeiting your life for someone who is never going to be capable of being a truly healthy partner. Controlling, abusive partners need help. You are worth more in this life than waiting for their sickness to get better. You are worth a partner that respects you exactly as you are. You are worthy of a partner that does not control you or force you to hide parts of who you are.

What if you even had a partner that was there to be a catalyst – even to your own personal growth in a healthy way? Imagine how far you could go in your life by shedding what is dragging you down. The longer you stay, the more difficult you will find the truth something you believe. Experiencing abuse will eventually rob you of your self-worth.

2. It won’t get better

After every fight you hear promise after promise of how it will get better, and how sorry they are. It won’t get better. Your abusive partner has already shown a lack of respect for you, and that will not improve by putting up with being treated with abuse. Better exists, but not inside this relationship. It took years for them to learn to deal with people in this abusive, controlling, manipulative way. It will take a lifetime for them to unlearn it, and that is only if they want to do the difficult work required with help.

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Back to point one: you are worth more than forfeiting your life. The next time you want to fill yourself with false hope that this could change, please read these facts about your future staying with your abuser.

3. This is not your problem to fix

Being the victim in these relationships can cause you to think, “If only I had dressed better, or cleaned the house better, or been more affectionate… then maybe the fight wouldn’t have started.”

You should never think this way. If you had done everything perfectly the fight still would have started. The abuse still would have happened. Your partner is fighting something in themselves not of you, but taken out upon you. Nothing you do or don’t do can fix them or prevent this from happening again. You are not in control of this situation no matter how wonderful you are to them.

4. There is no prize for who survives the worst

Ask yourself, “Why am I hanging on to this?” What do you have to gain? There is no award at the end of years of long abusive relationships except a heart full of regret. Just because you love this person does not give you to right to forfeit the gift of your life.

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You are worthy of wonderful, healthy, loving blessings. You are not serving your life’s purpose by putting yourself in this jail, wasting your gifts from being shared with the world, under this person’s control and abuse. Fast forward your life to age seventy. What will you regret most?

5. You can help others

Abuse of all sorts is still hidden in our society and not talked about openly. Victims shield their abusers from judgement by staying quiet and not reaching out to others. It is common to stay silent to even your closest family or friends about abuse because of point 2, above – you are still in denial that it will get better. As victims we dream of the day the pain will end and they will see our worth, so we decide not to tell our family and friends. We fear judgement of our partner, our choices and ourselves.

If you believe everything happens for a reason, then maybe the reason this has happened was for you to overcome this struggle and grow from it so you can help others. My situation was not something I often talked about unless I met someone I recognized as possibly in the same situation. In those cases I always shared my story in private and encouraged them to reach out. There are ways to overcome and transcend this part of life.

No, getting out of an abusive, controlling relationship isn’t easy. It’s scary, difficult and at times you will want to retreat. I personally remember about six months of being in fear for my safety in every way. But staying and giving your life up to this person who has zero value for you is not the answer. Reach out to someone you trust. For more resources about what steps to consider to actually get out this is a great link with a helpline link near the bottom of the article.

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Even though my experience with this happened over twenty years ago, it’s still a part of who I am. The experience changed me in a way nothing else could. The most difficult part of the entire thing wasn’t actually the abuse. The most difficult part was letting myself down for not walking away sooner. The most difficult part was forgiving myself for putting up with far less than I deserved. Forgiving myself took far longer than forgiving him.

Remember that when you think about just treading water and just waiting a bit longer to see what happens. Give yourself a chance at life. You are worth so much more!

If you are in, or know someone who is in an abusive relationship, consider checking this link.

If you are in the United States then you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224

More by this author

Dawn Hafner

Dawn is a Practical Life Coach who offers concrete tools to help people implement life changes.

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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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