Abused to Awakened: A Domestic Abuse Survivor’s Journey to Empowerment

domestic abuse survivor
Worthy Staff

By Worthy Staff | Sep 12th, 2019

Najlla Aboasha is the founder of the Coaching Program, Abused to Awakened Accelerator.

Challenging the norms of what it means to be an abuse survivor, divorcee, and a woman of faith, Najlla is committed to shattering the silence of abuse surrounding middle-class women. She believes that empathic, vibrant, educated, and independent women should no longer have to suffer in silence and succumb to stigmatic norms and victimhood when divorcing their abusive spouse.

Najlla is dedicated to supporting and guiding women who have experienced narcissistic abuse and domestic violence through the healing and recovery process after making the decision to divorce.

By owning her truth, using her voice, and sharing her story, Najlla sheds light to those silenced by shame, proving that you can begin to move forward, step into your power, and awaken the woman you’ve always known you can be in as little as 12 weeks. 

Najlla fully believes that if she can live a life true to her and free herself from blame, shame, and playing small all while still in the divorce process, then you can too.

Q: You created Abusedtoawakened.com to help coach women who are thinking of or have divorced their abusive spouse. Can you tell us a bit about it for those that don’t know?

A: The Abused to Awakened Coaching program is a 12 week one-on-one private coaching program that supports and guides women through the healing and recovery process after they have made the decision to divorce their abusive spouse.

I was able to accelerate my healing and recovery process, even though I was in the midst of my divorce and custody proceedings, through strategies and tools that I’ve cultivated through my knowledge and experiences, and I’m extremely passionate about helping women achieve those same results. No woman should have to suffer in silence and endure any more pain after divorcing their abusive spouse. We get to move forward. We get to reclaim our selves and take back our lives.

Q: What was the catalyst that brought you to create your site?

A: It came to me when I was thinking about my own transformation and the transformation of women around the world who have endured abuse and have gone through a divorce and not only survived but thrived. It was like we went from being used, abused, and divorced to awakened. Awakened to our true self. To the power we have within. To the woman we are meant to be. To endless possibilities and freedom.

That’s why I created abusedtoawakened.com. To support and guide divorcing women through the awakening process. To rediscover the woman they lost and rebuild an even better version of them self, so they can move forward and live a life true to them. All women deserve to experience that. 

Q: In your founding statement, you explain that you are “committed to challenging the norms of what it means to be an abuse survivor, divorcee, and a woman of faith.” Can you elaborate on that and what it means to be a middle-class woman of faith going through such a situation?

A: Everyday I’m challenged with proving that being abused does not define me nor does divorce. Being a woman of faith does not mean I will be silenced and shamed under the judgments of others. My intention is to be brave. To own my story. To own my experiences.

People tell me all the time they would have never known. They would have never expected this to happen to me. Their minds are blown, looking at me like: how did I let this happen.

When you’re a middle class, educated, smart, strong, independent, and compassionate woman, people look at you differently when they find out what’s happened to you. They don’t think these things could happen to people like you.  That’s stigma I want to shatter. Abuse knows no bounds. 

Just because we’ve been subjected to abuse and gone through a highly contested divorce does not mean it’s a life sentence. It does not mean we are forever victimized and attached to our trauma, especially as a woman of faith. We can easily succumb to the norms of letting our past define our future. Of allowing cultural norms to defeat us. We get to move on and put our past behind us. We get to be respected and not pitied. We get to have a fresh new start in life. 

Q: There is often a stigma in religious communities regarding divorce. How did this stigma affect you and your decision to leave your abusive relationship?

A: There is a stigma in religious communities regarding divorce, but more so in the culture of the community. Being Muslim, we are allowed to divorce. But the laws surrounding divorce make it difficult, especially if the husband is not cooperative., So the process was very challenging for me.

But in our cultural, divorce is looked down upon, and it can be a challenge to remarry. We are taught that divorce is the absolute last resort and to do whatever you can to save your marriage, to the point of staying married despite your misery.

For me, more so than anything, was the fear of judgment and the challenge of remarrying. I had such a challenging time accepting that I may forever be alone. I also couldn’t bear the judgments and stigma attached to divorce because it did not pertain to me. I did not fail at my marriage. I did not just walk away. I was not a bad wife, but I was made to believe divorce meant that.

I felt like I had failed, like no one would ever want to marry me because I was divorced with a child. I felt so ashamed that this was the man I chose to marry and now everyone will know. That I did this to myself, and this is what I deserve. I wanted to hide from it all because of the shame. It felt like getting divorced was a stamp on my forehead that made light of all those things I wanted to keep hidden.

After I left, it still took me months to make the decision to divorce, and even when I decided, it took professional help for me be able to let go of the fears of never marrying again and of the judgments of others, and muster up the courage to actually file.

Q: You mentioned that you couldn’t believe this was happening to you and didn’t understand how you became a victim and had chosen a man who was abusive to you. Can you expound upon that?

A: When you finally realize that you’re in an abusive marriage you start to question every little aspect of yourself, your spouse, and the relationship. You want to understand how it all happened, where you went wrong. You blame yourself.

It was extremely challenging to forgive myself because I knew myself. I knew my values and my beliefs. I knew the woman I was and the potential I had. I started seeing all the red flags that should have made me run but instead I stayed. I fought so hard for the marriage. There were so many obstacles, and I pushed through all of it so that we could be together, and it was like all that for this. For abuse. For divorce. For pain and suffering. I let all my dreams and aspirations fall by the wayside for this. I was devastated. I was honestly horrified that this was the man I loved and chosen and had allowed him to treat me this way. I just couldn’t understand how I continued to stay. I felt like something had to be wrong with me. I felt like if this is what I’ve chosen when I should have known better, being a strong, educated, independent woman, then I deserve to be in this mess. 

I remember telling my therapist that I would constantly get questioned as to why I stayed, and I was done trying to answer because no answer was good enough. She then told me that the question to be asked is not why we stay but why we couldn’t leave. And that was huge for me, bless her heart. It was like a weight has been lifted because I began to see why I felt like I couldn’t leave. It’s not that we choose to stay but it’s that we choose to believe we can’t leave because of all these factors. All these factors that victimized us. It was then that I finally was able to start forgiving myself.  

Q: Can you describe the days after finally leaving your situation? How you felt and what you did?

A: My son was three months old at the time. I made a promise to myself that if one more incident happened I was done. It was my son that gave me the courage to leave. God gave me my son to save me. As terrible as this sounds, he knew I would still be in denial until something bigger than myself came into my life to finally awaken me to my reality.

I staged an intervention with my husband with my family there and then I left. It was so surreal. I think I was in shock and numb to it all in the beginning. The pain of heartbreak didn’t hit me until weeks after. All the symptoms of devastation came weeks after I had left. I was so close to going back. My heart broke for my son. There was nothing more that I wanted than to be a family. I put my heart and soul and everything I had in that relationship for 12 years.

What saved me from going back was my love for research and reading. I devoured everything about abuse and then finally came across a book by Lundy Bancroft titled, Should I Stay, or Should I Go. That book completely changed my life. After I had read it, I saw all the signs clearly. I was done. I went no contact and knew I was never going back to that relationship.

It was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever been through. There are no words to describe the fear you have for yourself, your children, and your family. It becomes ingrained within you. I’m not sure if it’ll ever leave me, but I refuse to cower and live my life in hiding and in silence play. I’ve chosen to do what I can to make an impact on women in similar situations and to live a life true to me.

Q: You explain that you came to many realizations and breakthroughs that inspired you to become a coach to help other women. Can you describe some of these breakthroughs for us?

A: Life is a series of choices and mindset is the secret answer to everything I’ve ever questioned. Every question from, “How did I get here?” to “How do I move on?” all came down to mindset. Inner transformation needs to be the focus. Your inner state of being is the catalyst to how your life plays out.

But the key ingredient is how awakened you are, your openness and willingness to take action, and doing what it takes to move forward, heal, and recover.

Wishing, wanting, hoping, and trying will never get you there, but as women we are so good at that. I was there for years. I would feel defeated and helpless, not understanding why my life was the way it was. When I left my marriage and started to focus on me, things started to shift so quickly. It was like the fog that had been blinding me for all those years finally lifted and I didn’t have him there to fog it up again. If I let him back in, that fog would have returned. That’s why I believe so strongly in having no contact if you ever want to move on, heal, and recover. It’s a non-negotiable.

You’ve got to focus on yourself and your state of mind. I’ve come across so many women still struggling to move forward, still suffering and unforgiving of herself, just defeated from consisting of low self-esteem and self-worth. These women had everything going for them. Some of these women have even gotten support and help, yet they are still not able to move on and heal. As time goes by, they fall back into unhealthy relationships.

Trauma and abuse are highly sensitive topics. We feel like we have to tiptoe around trauma, making sure we are not victim shaming, but we don’t realize this prevents women from seeking help and escaping these relationships. We need to bring these issues to the forefront to make sure women know they have a way of getting out of bad situations.

People also think therapy is the solution to everything. Therapy is part of the solution. That’s why in my application process, I ask if they’ve been to therapy. Therapy is so important in the healing and recovery process, but it’s a piece of the puzzle, not the whole puzzle.

The other part is you. People forget that they actually have to do their part. Therapy is the catalyst to transformation, but then you must go out there and transform. That’s where most people go wrong. Not everyone is equipped to take action as part of their transformation. That’s why I do what I do, to support women through the how rather than the why. 

Q: Can you describe your coaching strategy in a few short steps for our community?

A: My coaching embodies supportive authentic connection with a tough love, no-nonsense approach. Despite my extreme compassion and empathy for my clients, I’m here to get them accelerated results. It’s not for the faint of heart but it is for those that are committed to transformation.

The foundation of my coaching program builds upon three pillars: rebuilding your identity, knowing your worth, and awakening your greatest self by focusing on mindset, self-discovery, and inner transformation.

Some of the aspects we focus on are coming to terms with divorce, letting go of the past and beginning to move forward, releasing everything that no longer serves them, stepping into their power and self-worth, cultivating self-love and confidence, and truly becoming the woman they are meant to be.

Q: You speak of “turning your pain into power” and being able to “stand in your power.” What does that mean to you?

A: This is everything. There are so many lessons and breakthroughs in your pain if you’re open to receive them. When we are able to take all the pain we have and use it to make us stronger, more compassionate, better versions of ourselves, then we are truly unstoppable

When we stand in our power, we choose ourselves. We refuse to settle for anything that is less than we deserve. We believe we are worthy. We use our voice, own our story, and stick to our truth. We become the leaders of our life and know that if we just take action, anything that we want to achieve will happen. 

Q: What are some lessons you’ve learned along your journey going from abused housewife to free independent and empowered woman that we can take away with us?

A: In my marriage, I was the breadwinner and sole provider for the majority of the time. I was very independent but at the same time there were parts of me that were codependent. As I’ve become more self-aware, I’ve learned so many huge lessons. Some that I haven’t mentioned already include:

Q: How did you find Worthy?

A: I came across Worthy when I was making the decision to divorce. I still couldn’t bring myself to come to terms with it, so I was trying to find articles and stories that would give me the support I needed to find the courage to move forward and to give me solace in the fact that I wasn’t alone.

I came across the Worthy blog and found out about the podcast through my search. And can I just add that Worthy holds an extremely soft spot in my heart because you started the podcast a week after I left my marriage. It was like it was meant to be. It honestly brings tears to my eyes. The Worthy podcast was the only podcast I listened to that pertained to divorce, and it truly was life-changing.

Q: How did Worthy help you in your journey?

A: Worthy was a catalyst in me coming to terms with divorce. Making the decision to divorce was very challenging for me. I devoured every piece of content Worthy put out. I read every article and listened to every podcast. Going to the gym and lifting was therapeutic for me, and I would listen to the Worthy podcast as I worked out. It was a very powerful experience and truly changed my whole perception on divorce.

It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Listening to these incredible women, their stories, and advice was life changing. It was like a divorce sisterhood I was a part of, and I was proud of it. These women understood what I was going through, especially the aspect of divorcing with a child and everything that comes with it. It was very empowering. Never did I think one day I would be a part of the Worthy family. I still can’t believe it! I’m deeply honored. It’s like I’ve come full circle. 

Q: If you could offer one piece of advice to our Worthy community, what would it be?

A: Live life true to you, meaning be your true self. Choose you again and again until it becomes second nature. Always do what feels right to you despite what anyone else thinks or believes. No one knows you like you, and no one knows what’s best for you like you. Shut out the noise and be authentically and unapologetically yourself. And refuse to settle for anything less than you deserve.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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