The ripples of domestic violence are complex. Victims often experience impacts across all facets of their lives. These can include eroded confidence, family breakdown, social isolation, financial setbacks and career disruption.
As a result of this complexity, the road from victim to survivor takes time as each element of your life needs to be rebuilt. This is the first of a series of blogs about rebuilding. Each one will cover a different element. I’m starting with rebuilding confidence, as if you believe in yourself this will provide a strong foundation to rebuild the rest of your life.
Tips to rebuild your confidence
When I came out of a domestic violence situation, my confidence was at all all-time low. I had lost all belief in myself and I no longer trusted my own judgement. Today I am happy, confident and I embrace projects that challenge and stretch me. It took me a while to regain this self-assurance, but I worked hard and took a focused approach to get back on track. Here are the things I learnt along the way:
1. Be mindful of the company you keep – try to mix with the right people who believe in you and can provide encouragement and constructive feedback along the way. Surround yourself with those who inspire you and make you feel good about yourself.
2. List your achievements – when emerging from a DV situation, many people question their worth and wonder whether they are good at anything. Write a list of all your strengths and achievements (large and small). If you’re struggling with this exercise, ask a close friend or family member to help, as they see more great things about you.
3. Create a vision for your future – now is a good time to consider what you want from your life moving forwards. How do you want to spend your time? What people do you want to be around? What will make you happy and fulfilled? If you know you’re heading in the right direction, you are likely to feel more confident.
4. Challenge yourself – think about safe and healthy things you would like to do that will stretch your boundaries. These may be small steps at first, but proving to yourself that you can go outside your comfort zone will make you realise how much is possible.
5. Keep a journal – by writing down how you are going each day, you will be able to track your progress and, over time, look back to see how far you have come.
6. Get the support you need – rebuilding after DV can be easier with specialist support around you. When I was rebuilding I saw a support worker from my local DV service. She helped me make sense of what had happened, and this enabled me to clear the path to move forwards with my life.
7. Look after yourself – rebuilding takes emotional and physical health and energy, so it’s important you give yourself the right fuel to start this journey. Look after yourself by eating healthily, exercising (even a short walk), taking quiet time out when you need it and spend time doing things you enjoy.
If you have come through DV and lost your confidence, I recommend taking the steps outlined above. Even if you start with one of them, you are likely to feel better.
Go easy on yourself
The road to confidence is a winding path, and you might find yourself stepping forwards with gusto and then taking a couple of steps back. Some days I feel 10 foot tall and bulletproof, other days I question myself and my abilities. But I think most people are similar, regardless of whether they have encountered DV or not – it is rare to find someone who is genuinely confident all the time. So be kind to yourself.
Rebuilding with Workhaven
An important part of my rebuild has been to develop Workhaven. We work with organisations by educating and empowering their staff to take action against domestic violence. One of our services is a 10-week coaching program (Free from DV) to assist victims of DV to become survivors. For more information, please visit workhaven.com.au