Assertiveness is hard when you’ve been abused


My childhood trained me to stay very still and be quiet. To hide and be good. To suppress my feelings and put others first. To feel wrong and bad. It’s not surprising that I have great difficulty being assertive and using my voice now as an adult. My primary caregivers made me feel powerless and unimportant.

This morning I decided to go to the gym and have a quick swim before work. I took a taxi to the gym which is not far from where I live. The taxi driver took a very long, strange route and when I tried to explain that there was a much shorter route he started arguing with me. Although I was completely justified in telling him this, I immediately felt bad. Speaking up and out is not easy for me and when I do, I feel like I have hurt the person immensely; even though I am still thinking about that taxi driver and he has long forgotten me.

When I got to the gym, the lady at reception was asking me a lot of irrelevant questions and I explained firmly that I was in a hurry because I had to get to work by 8. Again, I felt really bad for being assertive.

Having clear boundaries, putting myself first, being firm with people for me, is akin to being an awful person. I notice the feeling of badness that overwhelms me straight after.

But I will keep trying and maybe start ignoring those old voices telling me that I am bad for standing up to people or putting myself first. As a little girl I felt that telling would make me bad because maybe I was threatened or maybe I just wanted to believe that I had a perfect family. Maybe that’s how I coped. But I am not bad now for speaking up and out. I am an independent forty year old woman and I am allowed to make some noise, get irritated, be angry and make mistakes. Thank you for reading.



6 thoughts on “Assertiveness is hard when you’ve been abused

    • It is amazing how the mind, body and soul are so intertwined. I used to have very bad IBS and PMS but they have eased off considerably since I started this journey of truth telling. I am glad that you have learnt to stand up for yourself. I am working on that everyday. Thanks!


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