Something not talked about enough is how abuse affects not only your body image, but how you feel inside of your body. Body dysmorphia and self hatred goes SO deep. And one doesn’t have to experience abuse for these things to happen. But abuse will exacerbate and even facilitate the type of environment for these things to grow.
So many women are experiencing so much hatred for themselves and their bodies through no fault of their own. It’s time to wake up to the fact that we deserve not only love ourselves, but to recover from the abuse we endured.
Below I share the top 3 ways that abuse can affect your relationship with your body. Let’s dig in.
You feel disassociated from yourself
I looked in the mirror and didn’t feel connected to the woman looking back at me. My eyes looked dead. The bags under my eyes were a constant state of embarrassment. I moved my fingers just to make sure the reflection really was me.
This is the state that I was in when I was neck deep in my unhappy, unhealthy, abusive relationship. I was so tired, so worn down, so mentally exhausted that I was completely checked out. I wasn’t myself at all.
My body was no longer a vessel that was carrying a human being, it felt like an empty grocery bag. Moving forward only because the wind forced it.
When you experience abuse, whether it’s physical, verbal, financial, etc., you pull away from yourself. You’re so exhausted. You’re so confused. You’re so done.
Just to survive the day, your brain pulls you away from reality. So when you see your body, it doesn’t even feel real. When you look down at your hand, you feel completely disconnected from it.
When I first got out, this feeling stuck with me for a long time. I genuinely felt broken. What I didn’t know at the time is that this is a completely normal response to trauma. It’s a defense mechanism your brain does to protect itself and you.
This is one of the reasons that you don’t like your body – you feel like it’s not yours. You feel like you have absolutely no chance of becoming yourself.
The first step to being able to move past this is accepting that it’s normal and there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you. Let go of the guilt you have because you feel this way.
You feel disgusted with what you see
When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t help but scowl. I picked at my sagging belly left from having my son. I hated my flabby butt and squishy face. But this went so much farther than not liking the way that I looked.
I didn’t like any part of myself. I didn’t like my mouth, I didn’t like my private areas, I didn’t like any part of my body that had been touched.
I was in abusive relationships from the time I was 12 to 23.
After my ex and I split, I felt like my body was at fault.
If I hadn’t been hurt before, maybe he wouldn’t have hated me so much. If I hadn’t been touched there by someone else, maybe I would’ve been more open to him.
Only then did I begin to attack my physical appearance. Only then did I tell myself I was too fat, that I was too ugly, too flabby.
If only I wasn’t so fat, maybe he would have chosen me. If only my thighs weren’t has big, my arms not as flabby, maybe then he would have wanted to be intimate with me.
This became the ultimate breeding ground for self hatred and body dysmorphia.
If you experienced anything like this, know that you’re not alone.
I want you to know that you won’t hate your body forever. You will regain control over it. It won’t be easy. It will take work, but it IS possible.
You struggle with feeling comfortable in your own skin
Has someone ever gone in to hug you and the moment it happens you feel uncomfortable?
Has that ever happened and you feel gross?
Has that ever happened and guilt hit you because you feel that way?
When it comes to abusive relationships, we don’t have much choice, if any at all, in what happens to our body. Whatever the abuser wants, they get it. When that happens, you begin to pull away and feel like any touch is wrong.
Your body no longer knows how to differentiate between safe touch and abusive touch.
Abuse teaches your body that it isn’t meant to be appreciated and cared for.
That isn’t normal or natural, so you feel uncomfortable. You don’t like when others touch you, you don’t like when you touch you. You don’t like the sensation of clothing, of blankets, of scratching an itch.
You don’t feel comfortable, you feel like something is missing, like you’re in the wrong body.
It is possible to heal from this. It’s possible to feel comfortable in your beautiful, amazing, body. It’s going to take time and effort, but you can do it.
Boo, you didn’t ask for what happened to you and it wasn’t your fault. You deserve to recover from it and love your body again. That’s not to say that it will be easy, but it is possible and you deserve it. Your relationship with your body is important. It’s performing the most important job: taking care of you and allowing you to show the world how awesome you are.
Whether you feel disassociated from your body, you’re disgusted with it, or you just don’t feel comfortable in it, recovery is possible. Healing is possible. You’ve got this.
The first step that got me to begin my healing and recovery journey was working on my self confidence. I floundered for a long time until I finally found a system that worked. I’m still working on building my relationship with my body, but I am so much farther along on my journey than I was. That’s why I created my Confidence Course. It’s a 5 day crash course in confidence with me as your coach. Not only is this course something that has helped SO many women and I’m SO proud of it, but I decided to keep it totally free!