I just broke up with a guy who was verbally and emotionally abusive. He’d insult my intelligence and weight and say I was lucky just to have him. Now that it’s over, how do I heal?

First off, congratulations for breaking up with him! That proves that you respect yourself. When a girl remains in an abusive relationship, she’s rewarding the guy’s bad behavior, inadvertently teaching him that it’s acceptable to treat her poorly.

Such a guy may try to make you feel like you should be honored that he’s willing to tolerate you. But in his heart, he knows the truth: You’re better than he deserves.

The reason why a guy would tear down the self-esteem of a woman is because his own self-image is so low. When a man has low self esteem (which is often caused by emotional abuse coming from within his family), he learns to use insults as a form of emotional manipulation. He feels that the only way that you would stay with him is if your self-esteem was lower than his. So, he tears you down to keep you. As distorted as it sounds, he hurts you because he wants to be loved. It’s his broken way of staying in control. It says nothing about you, your waistline, or your intelligence. It says everything about his insecurity and own interior wounds.

But don’t succumb to pity. He needs to grow up. Do not go back to him in order to try to save him from his emotional problems. He needs to learn to bless instead of to curse, and the only way he’ll open his eyes to this fact is if his attitude ends up costing him the friendships and love he desires. Stay away from him, and learn to avoid guys like this in the future.

You deserve to be honored. But you will never convince a man of your dignity unless you first convince yourself. So take a break from relationships, and deepen your relationship with God. He alone can show you your true worth, and no one will be able to shake that. When painful memories of this relationship come to the surface, bring them to God. If you’re tempted to return to this guy, resist those temptations by lifting him up in prayer. This is the best and only way to love him right now.

In the meantime, I would bet that the deeper you sank into this relationship, the more disconnected you became from those who truly love you (family, true friends, and God). Now is a time to go back to them, and re-connect with those who care about you the most. If you need counseling to heal, don’t be ashamed to take advantage of that as well. Catholictherapists.com is a good place to look to find a good counselor who can help you to work through the hurt and begin again. Also, check out the videos at WomenMadeNew.com. Never forget: God can make all things new, and that includes your heart!

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