Besides phobias, another part of my work is helping people to overcome the damage caused by controlling and abusive relationships. I’ve studied the ways in which abusive predators break down the independence and self-confidence of their victims, and created a self-help guide to enable those who escape these relationships to repair the damage and become stronger than before. I’ve put this information in a free download which is available here:
Overcoming damaging relationships first involves recognising what’s been done to you- how your capabilities, relationships with family and friends, activities and confidence have shrunk and weakened during the controlling relationship.
You also need to understand the fear which is the most powerful tool used in creating damaging relationships. If there is a serious fear of violence then of course you should inform the police and take any other practical steps to protect yourself. But not every controlling relationship involves violence or the fear of violence. Clever “controllers” often “gaslight” their victims into believing that the whole world is a very dangerous place, that no one can be trusted. They do this to increase their victim’s dependence on their “protection.”
Many people with damaged personalities don’t know whom to trust. Sometimes they trust no one except their abuser. In other cases they trust everyone, which can be almost as damaging. They need to learn to decide how far to trust each person, and where to set their limits, which will be different for each relationships. They need to learn to say “no,” and learn to say “yes,” because both can be difficult.
Rebuilding confidence is part of this whole process. Although a few people are overconfident, most people are capable of much more than they ever dreamed of. Extreme situations like wars and disasters enable very rapid change, but in normal life a more gradual approach is possible, beginning with small steps, then moving on when the first step becomes easy and habitual. Our personalities are built out of many habits, and we can change any habit simply by practicing a new behaviour until it feels natural and normal.