Kellie Jo Holly – Survivor, Advocate, Mentor

Seeking counsel after you leave an abusive relationship is something I highly recommend. Speaking to someone who is knowledgeable about the issue can provide sound insight when you’ve been left confused, hurt and, broken.

Recently, I was fortunate to connect with Kellie Jo Holly, advocate against domestic violence and the founder of AbuseJournals.com. I was seeking advice on how to cope with lingering loose-ends, so to speak, of my former verbally abusive relationship, which I had been struggling with for months.

Kellie’s insight gave me the strength I needed to push forward and break the barriers I was imposing upon myself. Being a survivor of verbal abuse and an educated counselor in the field, she was the best resource that I could have found during my time of pain and confusion.

That being said, Kellie has been mentoring for some time now and is growing a base of mentors to help victims of abuse. I encourage you to explore this resource, especially if you’re in need of answers to what may seem, countless questions.

Further, if you want to share your story and hone your counseling skills, be a mentor! There are also opportunities to join her amazing team.

Thanks for everything, Kellie Jo. Keep up the fantastic work! ❤

The DIVA Team

Christina xo.

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This is your LIFE.

Sometimes, when you leave a bad relationship, you’re left with TONS of existentialist questions to deal with. I, for one, thought that my relationship, as verbally abusive as it was, was the be-all and end-all of my life. I guess that was part of the whole manipulation, right? All that was left for me was marriage, kids and years of resentment. But, I left.

I’m on my own now and my life has taken a course for the “questionable;” not at all in a negative way, but in a very overwhelming, “where will life take me????” kind of way.

I’m sure some of you may be familiar with The Holstee Manifesto. It’s a direct, short and sweet rundown of what matters in life and how to live it well. A message that has been shared over 500,000 times and viewed over 60 million times online.

As a reminder to those that feel lost, downtrodden and discouraged, life has meaning once you start perceiving things differently and doing what you love. I encourage you to follow The Holstee Manifesto and watch your life transform into your own little slice of heaven on earth;)

The Holstee Manifesto
The Holstee Manifesto

Find out more about the inspirational Holstee team via the following link: http://shop.holstee.com/pages/about

P.S. I’ll be hanging up my printed manifesto in my room imminently. It’ll be my little daily “prayer.”

~DIVA~

Christina xo

The Initial Signs

My ex-boyfriend and I had exchanged stories regarding our most recent break-ups when we first met. He told me that his ex girlfriend had broken up with him because he was “too negative” – BIG surprise there!  He seemed so charming and supportive; “negative” just didn’t make sense to me at the time.

However, there were lots of little signs that I didn’t pay attention to because I was infatuated. The key in identifying an abusive individual is being able to hone in on those RED FLAGS at the beginning that might predict escalated abuse in the future. I remember reading the following list months into my relationship, when the verbal abuse had peaked, and I had then put the pieces together. All of these signs were present even at the beginning, just to a lesser degree:

  • He seems irritated or angry with you several times a week. When you ask why he’s mad, he either denies it or tells you it’s in some way your fault.
  • When you feel hurt and try to talk with him, the issues never get resolved. He might refuse to discuss your upset feelings by saying, “You’re just trying to start an argument!” or claiming he has no idea what you’re talking about.
  • You frequently feel frustrated because you can’t get him to understand your intentions.
  • You’re upset—not so much about concrete issues like how much time to spend together, but about communication: what he thinks you said and what you heard him say.
  • You sometimes think, “What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t feel so bad.”
  • He seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything, and his opinion isn’t stated as, “I think …” but as if you’re wrong and he’s right.
  • You can’t recall saying, “Cut it out!” or “Stop it!”

Excerpt from: The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Patricia Evans. Adams Media Corp 1992, 1996, 2010

Get to know the person you’re dating VERY well. Be curious, ask questions, see how they respond, make note of their inclination to address any topic – are they genuinely forthcoming or do they simply blame their ex’s for failed relationships in the past? Are they coming on too strong?  This could be a sign that they’re trying to control and take ownership of you. Are they constantly speaking highly of you and very lowly of others? They might be idealizing you and this will lead to constant criticism down the line. Full-fledged verbal abuse takes time, but the signs are there right off the bat.

Always respect yourself, speak up when you’re being mistreated and trust your gut. DON’T settle! Once I’m ready to date and start a new relationship, I’ll be taking my time, making sure that respect and healthy communication are priorities for both.

~DIVA~

Chris xo.

Get Lost

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

My relationship ended and I found myself considerably lost, confused and inundated with way too many important life decisions for one broken-hearted person to handle. I’ve had to re-evaluate absolutely everything from my career path, my likes and dislikes and, my future goals, just to name a few.  Which road do I take? How do I get there? Will I regret my choices? Will that decision make me happy in the long run?  As overwhelming as this place can be, I realize I needed to get here in order to understand and appreciate myself thoroughly as a unique individual with a unique destiny.

Today happened to be one of those dreaded “lost” days.  However, something changed today; I learned to finally embrace the overwhelmingly blank canvas. Truly, I am wholly blessed with the freedom to follow my life’s destiny and allow my dreams to materialize. Nothing and nobody is holding me back. My life is no longer in someone else’s control; I create the life I want.

Through the clouds, the decisions, the void and pain, I begin to see who I REALLY am and it’s kind of amazing. It’s almost as though a pure self-love has been brewing in the shadows.

Thoreau was right:)

~DIVA~

Chris xo.

Why? Why? Why?

I had spent many months after my relationship drowning in “WHYs.” It was exhausting, to say the very least.

Why did he treat me the way he did? Why isn’t he calling? Why can’t he apologize? Why do others seem to love him so much? Why is he so driven and successful? Why does he seem so oblivious to what he put me through? Why can’t he fix himself? Why doesn’t he care? Why is he so selfish? Why does he think he’s always right? WHY ME?!

If you’re at all familiar with the “WHY” stage after your verbally abuse relationship is over, then you’ll know how draining it can be. It’s taken every ounce of my strength to stop asking why and to start moving forward. Ultimately, I’ll just never know. What I do know is that his instability and his issues with aggression stem from an inner suffering I can’t help with nor understand. Unless he gets the proper help he needs,  which will help him to understand how and why he hurt me, which might encourage him to APOLOGIZE, I’ll just never reconcile with the “WHYs.”

Constantly asking “WHY” is like digging yourself so deep into a bottomless pit that you start to lose sight of the light. I’m finally learning how to move forward, stop asking questions to which I can’t possibly have the answers to, and focus on being happy and strive for my goals.

~DIVA~

Chris xo.

You ARE Beautiful

My ex boyfriend and I broke up late last year.

The last few months have amounted to one of the most emotionally arduous times of my life, as I was left to cope with the aftermath of ending something I thought was set in stone. However, I hadn’t initially realized that the pain, the sadness and the sudden blast of insecurity that I was presented with stemmed from the actual relationship itself.

My ex boyfriend was verbally abusive and emotionally unstable, the extent to which is difficult to measure in a few short words. The psychological scars have made the healing process that much more convoluted, with numerous highs and lows along the way. The relationship and its inevitable end had atrophied my spirit. I was left lost, confused, resentful and, deeply hurt. I was broken.

The most debilitating outcome of a verbally abusive relationship is its fatal impact on one’s self esteem. I lost complete confidence in myself; from my decision making skills, to the ability to communicate properly, to my mannerisms, my accent, my vocabulary, my lifestyle, my cultural background and upbringing, to my friendships, my family and, the value of my life. Taking that back on one’s own terms is difficult due to the insidious nature of the abuse and the manipulation on the part of the abuser. In reality, my mind had already fully consumed the toxicity of the words.

How does one detoxify? Initially, I sought solace in the comfort of friends and family, I abided by healthy living guidelines, I read, I wrote, I listened to music, and I opened my heart to the healing properties of creativity and mindfulness.

But that wasn’t enough. I struggled. He popped sporadically and constantly into my stream of thoughts; he was everywhere. Every moment I thought I had achieved an inkling of happiness, I thought of him, and just like that, I’d remember the insults and viral words he spat to hinder my self-worth.  My memory worked against me. Without fault, I’d delve deep into that feeling of worthlessness that I had grown accustomed to during our year-long relationship. I wasn’t healing. Something deeper, within me, had to change – the perception and belief in myself.

During this time, a colleague (mentor) of mine had been helping me daily in keeping me on track with staying positive, optimistic and confident. After one of many nightly conversations with him regarding my struggle, I arrived at work the next morning to find the following painted on the ceiling above my desk:

Image

This was my colleague’s gift to me.

When I find feelings of sadness, anger and worthlessness creep up due to a memory of my ex boyfriend, I look up and repeat those words to myself. That is, I take myself back to that place which my colleague calls, “the truth.”

To those that currently struggle in abusive relationships and those that have struggled and are healing, remember that you are beautiful. As words will bring you down, words can also provide you with the means to rise above. Beauty does not lie in another’s control to affirm this for you. You just are. Believe it, and you are.  Once you believe and forget that someone may have been convincing you of otherwise, you will find yourself moving forward and, fundamentally, healing. This is where I find myself right now and it’s a nice place to be. The right people, the right frame of mind and the personal self-worth that I control, are allowing me to heal.

Here is my mentor-ish affirmation for you, fellow survivors, to reference during those times you’re feeling down: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

~DIVA~

Chris xo.

Day #7: Steps Towards Healing (Part 2)

Defer responsibility: Abuse is never justified so, you should never feel that it is your fault. Do not let the abuser overpower you and put the responsibility back on them. See if they are open to seeking professional help or at least taking responsibility for the abuse.

Set boundaries: Let the abuser know how hurtful their words are and discuss with them the fact that it is unacceptable to you. Set boundaries on what you will and will not accept from your abuser. Once you have set the boundaries, enforce those boundaries. Let the abuser understand that there are real consequences to overstepping boundaries.

Seek support: Attempt counseling, either together or separately. Surround yourself with a support system of family and friends and discuss with them what is happening and how you are feeling. Seeking support will give you the strength to do what is right for you and to carry out the 3 other steps towards healing.

Day #6: Steps Towards Healing (Part 1)

Identify the Issue: If your spouse, the person you are closest to habitually, verbally abuses you and dismisses your feelings, you will begin to see yourself and your needs as unimportant, of little consequence and irrelevant. However, since the abuser is usually in denial, it is important for the victim to be the one who can identify and pinpoint instances of verbal abuse and do something about it. When you finally recognize and come to terms with the idea that you are being verbally abused you need to also become focused on getting help. Here are some steps you can take if faced with verbal abuse.

 Recognize the signs: The key to healing is to recognize verbal abuse for what it is and to begin to take deliberate steps to stop it and bring healing. Whether you are experiencing threats, demeaning language, hostile tone, sarcasm, or any other form of abuse, it disguises what is really occurring in a relationship. Underneath all forms of verbal abuse are issues of power and control. Abusers seek to gain an advantage over their victim and to overpower or control them. This is inherently wrong and can cause significant emotional and psychological distress. If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, seek some kind of help and try to either remedy the situation or even leave if there is a risk of escalation.