I was privileged and honoured to have been part of a conference held in Birmingham this weekend called Removing the Shame and Guilt.
This event was for those who have experienced any form of domestic abuse. The event allowed survivors to come together in an super safe and supportive environment. I am proud to repot I was on the expert panel and I also delivered two confidence workshops.
With the conference in mind and raising awareness of domestic abuse, I wanted to discuss the following areas.
- To raise awareness of the different types of abusive behaviours and why we struggle to identify these.
- That is is okay to talk about abuse.
- The importance of being open and talking through this stuff.
- What can be done differently and what can be put in place if you think you are being abused or know someone that is.
I will take each in turn.
What are the different forms of abuse?
Abuse can present itself in a number of ways. It can include physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, financial and sexual abuse. It can form manipulating, controlling and intimidating behaviour. If you feel elements of control or coercion on any level, I would suggest this is a form of domestic abuse.
Why is it usually so hard to spot? Often in these types of situations, it can be the familiar or the known. Something you may have been used to for a long time. Therefore its often hard to identify it as abuse. Secondly, the abuser can be extremely clever at allowing you to believe or understand that this is somehow your fault, or that the problem is external to the abuser. I.e. something in their external environment. For example, blaming lack of money, job problems, friends or family being an issue. This is not the case. It is easier to blame everything outside of the situation. In fact the problem is with the abuser, don’t confuse if to be outside of him or her.
It’s okay to talk about abuse.
It is commonly very difficult to understand or accept that you are in an abusive relationship. This is due to feelings of familiarity or ‘normal’ behaviour. If you identify with any of the above, it is highly likely you are the victim of an abusive relationship.
The advise I would give is talk to someone about how you are feeling and what is going on for you. Often abusers can allow you to think that you are somehow to blame, leaving you feeling guilty and shameful. I would urge you to speak to someone. It might be a close friend, colleague or family member, it could be your GP, or it could be someone in an organisation locally. Whatever feels right for you. Remember, you will not be judged. You will be supported. Opening up and speaking is the first step to recovery and moving out of this.
What can be put in place if you are in an abusive relationship or know someone that is?
Once again, it is about talking and being able to open up. I accept it can be hard to do so initially and its like walking into the unknown. You can do it, stay strong and know that there is support there.
If you feel unsafe to do so within your current environment or anywhere near it, then consider a neutral place where you can meet someone for a coffee to chat. Speak to a friend or colleague for support. Between you find out locally what services are available in your area. There is help out there.
Then figure out a strategy. Have you thought about how you might leave this relationship? What needs to be put in place? Does an emergency bag need to be prepped? Have you given yourself a date or a time limit? – It can often be easier to stay in the relationship in the hope that things might change or that they might improve. Setting a time schedule for yourself can be one of the most powerful things to do. It gives you a clear guide of when you plan to leave. If you don’t get to this however, don’t beat yourself up. Leaving an abusive relationship can often be the most high risk time, so ensure there are safety measures in place with a view to steps you are taking.
This is NOT your fault, there is a life outside of this.
Consider how I might be able to help you or someone you know. I provide you with the strategies for the following areas – improve confidence, smash limiting beliefs, strengthen mindset, develop empowerment, self esteem and self worth.
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