Opinion: The strength to move forward

By: Carrie Ratkevich, Staff Reporter

Surviving an abusive relationship is hard, and even though it is possible to move on, scars will remain. Perhaps one of the worst parts is living with a victim mentality; always being afraid of facing the same hurt and the stigma that is attached to victims. It is not until these people stop and realize that they are worth more than the one crappy hand they were dealt that they can begin to heal.

Many people think leaving an abusive relationship begins with the step out the door, but for me at least, it began before that. I am not sure people who have never been in that kind of situation can truly understand the isolation and degradation a victim goes through on a regu­lar basis. My abuser shattered my confidence and almost all of my emotional supports. I felt like the only person I had left was my abuser.

Once I was free, a whole new set of obstacles arose. I was abused mentally, economi­cally and verbally. My self-esteem did not magically reap­pear when I left my abuser. I did not believe I was good enough or worth enough to make it on my own. I thought I was going to end up homeless and that I could not survive without a man. I was very lucky to have people who cared about me.

My mom made me get counseling and gave me sup­port. I hadn’t been allowed to really talk to my mom for about 10 years. When I first called to ask for help, I thought she was going to turn me away. Even when I did not feel like moving forward, she pushed me to not give up. It took me five months to get a job because I had not been allowed to work for 10 years. That job was the first thing that really gave me the confidence to believe things could be all right.

About eight months after leaving, I began dating and again, I was lucky. I found someone who was not abusive. That taught me that there are good people out there. He even encouraged me to chase my dreams.

To anyone coming from any kind of abuse: There is hope for a future after an abu­sive relationship. We have to stop seeing ourselves as vic­tims. We are so much more. We are strong because of what we have been through. We will be successful in spite of our abusers. We are not victims — we are survivors.

The abuse may always live in the dark recesses of the mind, but it does not have to stop a survivor from achieving a fulfilling life.

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