Don’t Believe, “You’ll Never Amount To Anything! You’re Useless!”

Would you consider the person at the receiving end of comments like the heading of this blog as someone being abused? Would it have to take a slap against the head, a yank on the arm or some other physical contact in your opinion to qualify as abuse?

It is abuse of course; not physical abuse, but it’s still abuse. In this case its verbal abuse and it can have a life-long profound affect on the psyche of the person who hears that message twenty times a day their entire childhood and teenage years. By the time they get to adulthood, they see themselves as damaged goods, not worthy of a normal life, they mistrust authority figures and may paint all men or all women with the same mistrust and anxiety.

As a man in social services, I often come into contact with vulnerable people who have been victims of – or more correctly are still victims of – abuse. I’m aware even now that as I write this there are abusers among my audience who are smiling broadly and laughing as their abusive behaviour just got validated. You see that’s the sick pleasure they get out of their abusive behaviour in the first place; they feed on creating fear and submissive behaviour in their victims, and want nothing more than the knowledge that their victims know it for the rest of their lives.

But I want to address those who are trying to move ahead and make a future for themselves. If you’ve been told for a long time that you’re not going to amount to anything, it will take some time to change your view of yourself and see yourself as someone who has something of value to contribute to an employer. Often I help people, (mostly women) who are victims of abuse, and they have been isolated from having friends, have been kept from working, or made to work in degrading jobs and followed there and back to make sure they don’t do anything other than make money for the abuser.

You have skills first of all that you may not think are of value to anyone. And yes it’s probably true that you may not honestly be in a position to see those skills as being valuable to anyone for a long time until you come to like yourself. Just liking something about yourself may be difficult in itself. Just a single thing. And if you’ve never experienced abuse first-hand or dealt with those who are victims of abuse, this seems incredible to believe.

Think of your survival skills, and how you coped and just got through those days when things were bad and you got ill-treated. Your goal was just to make it to the pillow at night and you found ways to do it. You even went out of your way perhaps to try your very best to please the very person who mistreated you, and it was never good enough. You may not know it, but you might be excellent therefore at dealing in some kind of customer service job where you are entrusted to provide customers with superior service in the hopes of getting them to be loyal and repeat customers. Why? Because you’re genuinely concerned about making sure customers are treated well; they way you yourself would wish to be treated.

You may have had only a small amount of money to make due with, and had to budget every cent, pay bills, deal with debt collectors and deal with strong personalities. It could be said that you would do well with some proper training, to occupy a position in an organization of minding a company’s finances, because you know the value of economizing, and can maximize the dollars they do spend.

Moving on from being a victim is tough. It’s not as easy as just forgetting about the abuse or the abuser and ‘shaking it off’. Even someone who thinks they are fairly past those feelings can have something trigger an emotional anxiety or fear that isn’t immediately obvious to other people. But move on you can.

Sure there’s counselling, and I really do recommend you get the service of a counsellor. Find someone you trust and have a good chemistry with and pour it all out over time. You will feel better, and you’ll learn more coping strategies and get suggestions on people and places you can safely go to receive support and guidance. Trusting others may be something you find impossible or at the very least challenging, but please understand that the more you distrust everyone, that abuser is still having an influence over your current behaviour. Try from time-to-time to give others a chance with an open-mind and see if your trust isn’t justified. It will help your mental outlook to do so.

And you will amount to something and you aren’t useless. That’s a myth that abusers drill into their victims so they believe the only person in the world who cares at all is the abuser. Instead of supporting you and having you view yourself as a beautiful person to be treasured and well cared for, they chose a long time ago to demean and bring you down to a level beneath them. And that’s often because they are the one with mental health issues themselves. They themselves need help to see their own behaviour as wrong.

But you? You are someone who deserves a good life. Oh yes you do.

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