Sharon Denise Allison-Ottey
Ask Dr. Sharon

History of Abuse, How Do I Move Forward

Posted by Administrator (admin) on Dec 11 2007
Ask Dr. Sharon >> Ask Dr. Sharon

Dear Dr. Sharon,

First let me thank you for your work and for your book—“All I Ever Did Was Love a Man”, it literally changed my life. I was in an 11 year emotionally and physically abusive relationship that began in high school. I thought that this was normal. It started with my high school boyfriend grabbing me and getting upset if I talked to other boys or wore certain clothes. I thought that his jealousy just showed me how much he loved me. We got married early because I became pregnant for him; he told me that he wanted to give me his baby. I was in bliss when I married the boy that I loved and I overlooked the fights, the threats and occasional physical abuse. My family has a history of abuse and women just seem to take it. I did talk about this with my favorite aunt in the first year of my marriage and she encouraged me to stay and tough it out.

Anyway, the abuse escalated and the most hurtful became the emotional abuse. He cursed at me, spit on me, slapped me, raped me and always told me that no one would ever want me. We have four children and over the eleven years I gained a lot of weight—in part to try to eat my pain away. This only made his abuse worse and then when I tried to lose weight, he told me that he didn’t want me to go to the gym or workout. He also has trashed my makeup and if there was clothing that he didn’t like he ripped them up. I believed what he said and even now my self esteem remains low. However, I did finally leave and felt a freedom that I hadn’t experienced ever in my life.

During our marriage my husband had several affairs and in the end never tried to hide them from me. He fathered two children by other women and I finally got the courage to leave not because of my own abuse but I began to see the same violent tendencies in my 9 year old son. His teacher told me that he had been spitting and hitting on girls and had a rage in him that could not be contained. I wept as I drove him home and made up my mind that I wouldn’t live like this any longer. I couldn’t raise my children in that environment and I, like the character in your book, found the courage to leave and start over. I so identified with the self esteem issues and the cycle of abuse, I’m also proud to tell you as I did in another email that I got tested for HIV after reading the book and that I am negative. Thank you again for educating me and helping me to see that there is life after abuse.

My question relates to starting over and dating. My divorce is now final as of a month ago and I think that I’m finding the courage to begin dating. There’s a man on my job that asked me out a few months ago but since I wasn’t divorced I didn’t take him up on it. I’m very self conscious, I’m overweight (although I’ve lost 22 pounds) and in my heart I don’t know how any man could ever want me—I don’t have a lot to offer. I’m scared that I will be attracted to the same abusive type and I just don’t know what to do. How do I overcome my fears and move forward or am I destined to be alone. I’m only 29 years old but I have never been in a healthy relationship, I don’t think that I know how—I’ve never slept with anyone other than my ex-husband. .

Scared to Move Forward

Hello My Dear,

I’m not even going to address you as “Scared to Move Forward”--- you writing such a descriptive email including your fears shows me that you are able to overcome them. Now, I’m NOT a psychologist/psychiatrist and as you can read, all information on this site is just that ---informational and not advice for you to live by or any attempt for me to diagnose you mentally, medically or otherwise. However, I am a “Sister Girl” to my friends, family and somehow now to women that I speak with (lecture, conferences, etc…) or read my writings and I try to keep it real when it comes to relationships and our “womanhood”.

Let’s tackle this step by step—the first thing that I would recommend is that you seek professional counseling. I could care less about you being ready to date—I want you to be ready to look in the mirror and see your beauty—YOUR real beauty which is inside. You are a survivor—by walking away from a creep ALIVE with your children—Yes, you are a survivor and that is beautiful! Sometimes women, particularly African Americans, don’t want to see a psychologist/psychiatrist because we don’t want to be thought of as “crazy”. You must leap over this hurdle and run not walk to the nearest counselor and really talk about YOU! Unfortunately you were traumatized for years and this will scar anyone—scars do heal but it will take time and work. You must work on yourself and dig yourself out of the pit of self hatred and low self esteem that your husband created for you and kept you in for years. Only when you are able to “date yourself” and be whole are you able to even think of moving into another relationship. I also recommend that you get some counseling for your children as you do not know the extent of the damage that your husband has imparted on them.

Next step, decide what you want to do for your health and your weight. I’m going to send you a copy of my new book, “Is That Fried Chicken Wing Worth It” which is by no means a diet book. This book offers a different way of looking at your relationship with food while bringing new habits that will help you in tackling your weight issues. Girl, I am right there with you! However, YOU decide that you want to lose weight because of your health—not just to fit into a size 8 or whatever. I want you to think about your kids and the fact that they need a healthy Mom that does not have to worry about diabetes, heart disease and other risks associated with being overweight. A balanced diet and exercise is the route to take but you MUST do it for YOU and not to get a man.

Next step, you must believe and know that you are worthy of love. You deserve love and happiness. The happiness must first come from within and while you love your children, your family and friends—you must develop a healthy “Sho’ Nuff” love for yourself. Honey, I love God, my husband, my family and my friends--- but I also love myself some Sharon Denise Allison-Ottey—the good, the bad and the ugly! I love me enough not to ever give up on me and to keep trying to move forward. I love myself enough to believe that I can be part of creating a better tomorrow and even if today was horrible that I have enough of “the necessary stuff” in me with God’s direction to get up and have a wonderful life. I love ME! It isn’t arrogant, it is ESSENTIAL—you’d better love yourself because until you are in love with you—you aren’t able to be in love with someone else in a healthy relationship. Again, spend time with you—begin to journal and really spend time healing you. I would seriously recommend that you hold off serious dating for a minute, you are still so very young (I can say that—trust me 29 is young!). However, once you feel ready to date start off slow. In this day and age—a coffee date in a very public place with someone that you know would be wise. Additionally, enlist the advice of our friends and consider group dating. Another word of caution—for goodness sake don’t bring men around your children until you’re in a serious and stable relationship. There are some weirdos out there but there are some great men out there and you deserve GREATNESS!

Finally, you know that I have to remind you—that if and when you become intimate, both of you should get tested for HIV. This is essential and you BOTH should get HIV tests BEFORE any sexual activity even if it is with your fiancée or new husband this is the reality of the world in which we live—you read the book so you know. Also, don’t just get tested, protect yourself and have a real open discussion about sex. Given your history and certainly your children, I would take this EXTREMLY slow! Do not let your curiosity and hormonal levels get you into another relationship that is not healthy. Please take your time, if you are a woman of faith—PRAY and seek God for His guidance. Talk to your best friend and family members that you trust and who have a history of healthy relationships—everyone needs someone to keep them in check.

That’s all I have for you, keep me up to date. TAKE IT ALL SLOW and begin by dating YOURSELF!

Last changed: Dec 11 2007 at 1:44 PM


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