Self-esteem is one of the singly most important aspects to the way we live our lives. Our decisions, our actions and reactions are dependent on the way we feel about ourselves - our confidence in who we are.
"I sit and listen out for the noises. Brace myself for the attack, tense...hold my breath. Desperately trying to swallow the tears, any sign of weakness will make it worse. I know I'm rubbish, I'm useless and I'm stupid. I know I make too much noise when I eat, when I walk, when I move...a reminder of my sheer presence angers you. I know that I'm ugly and fat. I know the way I make tea isn't what it should be, I can't even get that right. I know I am not good enough. I'm sorry. I don't deserve the roof you provide over my head. I know you hate me. I know that I am the cause of all negatives in your life. I'm sorry I'm here. I wish I wasn't and then you would be happy."
An 11 year old girl's thoughts intertwined with a 28 year old woman's thoughts - the age is regardless, the emotions are the same. Feeling so alone in their own home.
Not deserving. Belittled. Worthless - you are less valuable than you are, than another.
This is domestic violence, this is abuse but note there has not been any physical act in that description however you can feel their pain.
Physical abuse leaves a bruise, a mark, something that people can see. Psychological and emotional abuse can leave you with worse and it tends to be more frequent. It leaves an inward torture... and an eventual destroying of your self-esteem. Inadequacy, insecurity, self-doubt, guilt and quite simply nothingness.
If on average two women per week are killed as a result of domestic violence then I dread to think how many children, women and men are suffering worldwide the same as the 11 and 28 year old above, killed inside.
In a move welcomed by Women's Aid, psychological harm as a form of abuse has now been formally recognized by the Government and the UK gets set to embrace significant changes as of this month (March 2013) to the definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse.
The definition of domestic violence and abuse NOW states:
"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality."
A definition which speaks volumes in itself for the pain of a silent killer.
I am an Ambassador for Women's Aid for this very reason because I know how it feels. I am an Ambassador for Women's Aid because I no longer do. I strive to make a difference because every girl and woman out there is MORE than good enough - And that is why I signed the EQUALS letter for International Women's Day.
Outside of TV I work with various young people and I find especially with girls, that even in our modern society they are told not to dream, not to aspire - they do not believe in themselves. If we want to tackle issues of domestic violence, promote healthy relationships and equality this needs to change. Girls need to be empowered at a young age.
To say self-esteem is pinnacle to our happiness and success why is it disparaged across so many mediums in our society especially in women? Is it because society - which across many areas is still male dominated - is threatened and insecure? The 'belittler' is intimidated by the person they are belittling. What does that say about our society?
There is a mass confusion due to a judgement on looks towards the female. Should a woman be feminine? If so does that mean they are weak? I most definitely get treated differently depending on 'my look' that day. Do I have to wear a track suit to show I am athletic and like sport?
Our judgments play a big role in equality.
If you are a young girl wearing a hoody you are a thug. If you are a young woman wearing a skirt in an office, you are weak. If you are a woman on a night out wearing a short dress, you are 'asking for it.' If you are considered attractive you are stupid and less capable than your male counterpart.
Who decided this? Why is this socially acceptable?
We should be encouraged to grow our self-esteem, aspire to be what we want, to take our own path, to strive confidently with aspirations, without having to be who society tells us we are, what society tells us we should be, what society tells us we will be.
So go confidently and if we all do this then maybe things will change.
Join the debate now - go to www.weareequals.org
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