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Heart to Heart Blog

Raising awareness. Providing resources. Advocating for change.

Self-Esteem

All too often, people with disabilities grow up being bullied, stigmatized, or made to feel "less than" their peers in various ways.  These experiences can often lead to low self-esteem and self-worth, which is dangerous when it comes to getting involved in intimate-partner relationships.

Many abusers will feed on someone's insecurities, as a way of manipulating them into staying  in the relationship.  For example, telling a partner they are a loser and will never find anyone better, or that no one cares about them.  Victims of abuse can often start to believe their abusers, and that can happen faster in relationships where one has a developmental disability and/or did not value themselves very much in the beginning.

How can we make sure people with disabilities know their value?  By telling them!  And telling them frequently.  I've sat in so many team meetings where the focus is on what the individual has done wrong, what needs to be fixed, etc.  It started to get so negative, and I could see the effect on the client's faces and in their actions (because how many of us really want to go to a meeting to hear about everything we do wrong???).  If you feel you have meetings similar to this, try going around the group at the end of every meeting and have each group member share something positive that the person is doing.  Thank and praise people with disabilities for whatever task they are completing, whether at home or at work, to show that what they contribute has value.  It's not necessary to give praise for every little thing (that may get annoying and condescending!), but make sure that you and the entire team are using positive reinforcement as much as possible.  Because when we only discuss what isn't going right, people tend to believe they are doing nothing right.  And no one deserves to feel that way.  Feeling confident and valued are very empowering, and important in healthy relationships with family, friends, and intimate-partners.

Thoughts? Questions? Need further resources?  Contact us at (608)513-2139 or ellenm@heartconsulting.org

Best,

Ellen Merker

Owner, Heart Consutling LLC