Damsels In Distress – Most of us were raised on fairy tales featuring a handsome prince rescuing a poor damsel in distress.
It’s ingrained in us. We hope to be rescued. We long to be saved.
The problem is we don’t need to be. We must stop believing we need to be dependent on someone else to find our happiness. This myth, this belief, this cultural norm is holding us back from finding our strength and owning our own power.
If you are a victim of childhood abuse, I believe the issue is compounded because the victim mentality is ingrained. It’s not your fault, I understand that; however, it’s part of your mindset.
Childhood abuse victims (this could mean witnessing it, even if it wasn’t directed at you) have a higher chance of finding themselves in an abusive relationship as an adult than those who weren’t abused as children.
As a woman who was a victim of childhood abuse, I had to fight the myth and ingrained victim mentality. I had to figure out how to find the strength and power to break free of an abusive marriage.
It’s easy to say, and much harder to do.
But it can be done. Until you overcome your victim mentality and stop believing in the fairy-tale ending, you will stay stuck in abusive relationships.
Breaking life-long patterns takes courage, and it may take many tries or a long time. Be patient with yourself and start where you are, but find the dream that will drive you. It may be hard to imagine at first because we want to go back to the fairy tale. Rewrite that fairy tale. Feature yourself doing what you dream of doing. Be the amazing woman that we all know in our hearts we can be.
Visualize a different future for yourself. Then you can start to believe in something other than a relationship that tears you down. Before my marriage ended, I told my in-laws that I felt my soul being sucked dry. That’s not a fun feeling. If you feel like that (or however you describe your power and self-confidence undermined), then it’s time to fight back. For yourself.
Fight to find your inner heroine and help her to rescue you.
You do not need someone else to do it. And, it actually won’t have long-lasting effects if you let someone else do the hard work. It must come from within.
To break free of soul-sucking situations, you must find the inner fortitude to drive you to change. It can’t come from an external source; it has to come from within. That doesn’t mean you can’t find support and encouragement from others (you most certainly can and probably will need to). But the real work must be done by you.
Once you imagine your dream life, stay focused on it, then dig deep and find your inner heroine. Build her up so she can help you fight free. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, not those that tear you down. Use them as support for your growth and change.
It’s a process, so remember to give yourself grace and be patient as it doesn’t happen overnight.
Take it one step at a time.
If you are in a financially abusive relationship you might begin by getting a job and keeping your money separate. This can be super empowering. If your partner bullies you, takes your money (or worse), then you must find the strength to stand up to him. Find a way (with support) to stop the cycle of abuse.
I know this is scary, especially if he is hurting you physically, but there are resources out there to help. You need to be careful. The situation is volatile and can be dangerous but, for your own sake, you must believe that you deserve better. Once you have the belief and support, you can carefully extricate yourself and find a safe place to move on.
It all begins inside you. It begins with a mindset shift.
Finding your inner strength will empower you to fight back against a lifelong pattern of playing the victim. If you grew up a victim, it may be all you know and you may believe it is normal. It isn’t and you can change it, but it’s got to come from within you.
We all need a hand up from time to time, and there’s no shame in that. I hope this message helps you see there are others who have overcome challenging odds and rewritten the course of their lives.
Once a victim does not mean a life sentence of always the victim.
This is your life, and you can choose to fight for yourself if you want to.
I encourage you to reach deep inside and find the strength you need to ask for help. Then accept help when it’s offered. To lean on others for support as you build your self-confidence and find your way out of the victim mentality.
Life is so much brighter on the other side.
Being the heroine of your own story will bring you so much joy and satisfaction.
Write your future; don’t let someone else decide the future chapters of your story. It’s your story, after all. So, how do you want to write it? Happy endings are allowed. We all deserve them. Don’t let anyone rob you of your best life. Go, rise up and fight back, stop being a damsel in distress, and become your own super heroine.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse