When Sarah came to SHALVA, she talked about her parents’ relationship, not realizing that she witnessed an abusive marriage as a child. This early experience taught Sarah to think that abusive relationships were normal, that this is how marriages and families were. She never saw a healthy, loving relationship. Sarah believed her husband when he told her she was fat, “not good enough,” and that “no one will ever love you” because her father told her the same things growing up. Her reaction to her husband’s cruelty was to hide in her room or curl up in a ball and cry, just like she did as a little girl.
Over many years of work with her SHALVA counselor, Sarah eventually developed healthy coping skills so she no longer self-injured when overwhelmed. She learned to set firmer boundaries with her parents and ex-husband, to feel safer and more in control. And, for the first time in her life, she could identify the negative beliefs she had internalized about herself and challenge the validity of those beliefs.
Today, with the help of SHALVA, Sarah is the proud owner of her own business and her teenagers are thriving. Sarah now supports herself independently. Sarah recognizes there will always be triggers that challenge her sense of self but is hopeful for her future, and proud of her children who have grown up feeling loved and capable.