Home Lifestyle A domestic violence survivor’s letter to her 16-year-old self

A domestic violence survivor’s letter to her 16-year-old self

7 min read

Step away from the vehicle. Let go of that door handle – NOW. Do NOT get in the car with that boy. This is not a drill. Nothing could possibly prepare you for how badly this is going to end.

You’re shy, and your insecurities have made you a prime target for the smooth talking, deceptive charm of the boy sitting in the driver’s seat.

A domestic violence survivor's letter to her 16-year-old self
“Ask yourself this – what do YOU want? Think long and hard.” 

His older years do not make him wiser. His good looks do not make him more attractive. What you believe is confidence you are mistaking for an oversized ego. His persistence is not flattering, it is obsessive. His insistence that he must have you stems from a selfishness. It is wrapped up in ego, and narcissism and pride. He is everything you should be running from, not something you should be seeking out.

Do NOT write one more love letter. Do NOT agonise over one more tear-stained poem or heart-wrenching phone call. Life and love is not how they make it look in the movies.

Stop worrying about whether he likes the way you look, if your bum is too big or your boobs are too small. None of this will make an ounce of difference in the end. Your body is not his to critique. Don’t give in to the belief your appearance will determine your place in the world above and beyond your intellect. This isn’t true – unless you allow it. Take the emphasis off WHAT you are and focus on WHO you are.

Ask yourself this – what do YOU want? Think long and hard. What is it that YOU desire for your future? The mistaken belief you carry that his happiness is more important than yours is dangerous and misguided. It is a belief that generations of women have espoused and one that seeks to keep you focused on your shortcomings. You deserve so much more than you think. You don’t need the affections of the boy in the driver’s seat. All you need is that dogged determination to better yourself – the same determination that forces you to read that Year 11 physics chapter for the tenth time. Use that determination to pursue your passion, not the boy. Happiness is within you.

Believe in yourself. Do not invest any more of your time or energy dissecting the criticism of others, especially the boy in the driver’s seat. His comments will deplete you of every skerrick of self-belief, if you let him. Focus instead on how to recognise when you are doubting yourself or succumbing to the disparaging commentary of others. In life, in love and in your career, there will be those who ridicule or condemn you because it makes them feel superior, especially the boy in the driver’s seat. Don’t buy into the bullshit.

Recognise that you adhere to an adolescent ideology that is not realistic or practical. Ideologies work well in fairy tales or Enid Blyton books, but sadly they often fail in the stark daylight of the real world. There isn’t always a happily-ever-after. And unfaltering loyalty is not always the best approach. You do NOT have to endure at all costs. It will not make you a better person. Bad things happen to good people all the time. You are no exception. Stand up for yourself. You are stronger than you think.

That heart or yours, the one so overflowing with hope and expectation for the future, needs to be protected. You might find it difficult to avoid the treachery of love and broken promises. If you do, fight the urge to replace that innocent heart with a cynical, broken vessel. Even when you are writhing in a swirling abyss of misery, hope can keep you afloat. Always cling to the hope of something bigger and better and beautiful, of a love that will heal and not hurt. Your determination to better yourself will eventually take you to places where your peers respect you. Suffering will not define you, it will simply magnify the beauty of the good people around you.

The author’s name has been withheld on her request. 

Those in need of help dealing with domestic violence can call 1800 RESPECT.

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