The Voice I Needed to Hear

If you would have told me the statistics for women being killed by their partners I wouldn’t have associated it with my situation. I mean, my husband had never hit me, he had never shown physical violence towards me so those statistics were referring to other people. That 58%* of all female homicide cases being perpetrated by a partner or close relative referred to people who were in physically abusive relationships, right?

Wrong.

Sometimes a person doesn’t need to hit you to be dangerous. There can be other tell-tale signs that give them away and other ways of being dangerous and abusive. Emotionally. Verbally. Sexually. And when a person is capable of using other forms of abuse, never ever underestimate their ability and potential to become physical.

I had been in denial. The closest people to me could recognise that some things were not right and I didn’t deny it to them. What I did do, was deny it to myself by denying myself of happiness, knowing that things weren’t the best but residing myself to a life that did not bring inner peace. The people closest to me couldn’t give me that talk or intervene early on because I had kept so much hidden from them, and by keeping things from them I had already excused and accepted his behaviour, and he knew it.

Without that voice advising me, I let things escalate to life-threatening consequences that have scarred both me and my children. Scars heal but it takes time. And so, without the voice that I needed to hear, I feel it has become my duty to be the voice that someone out there needs to hear. My blog is tiny but I am a big believer that if I put my experiences out there, then the person that is meant to read about them will.

And if I were speaking to that person now, well I would tell you first and foremost to trust your gut instinct. It is there for a reason. Don’t doubt it and never ever doubt yourself. These little signs here and there, don’t brush them away, these signs point to a direction of things to come. Don’t second guess yourself if things don’t feel right, because if that’s the way you feel, they probably aren’t. Don’t concern yourself with what other people think and what their perception of you may be, you are the one living inside the relationship and not them. Take your decision based on your wellbeing and not on the approval of others. Take note of them when they deal with others, if you see them react angrily to people and situations which is beyond reasonable limits, know that they will someday react that way with you. If they have hit you once, they will certainly do it again. Don’t be tricked into thinking that they have changed while you relax in the time gap between violent outbursts – it’s coming. If their moods swings make you feel uncomfortable, like you have to walk on eggshells and tiptoe around them, good. That discomfort is communicating with you and telling you something. Though you may be losing yourself, your bodily reactions are trying to bring you back. You are far to valuable of an individual and you have far too much to offer the world than to lose yourself underneath the oppressive thumb of an unworthy person. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they love you. Love is not capable of making you feel so bad. You may think they love you, and they may think they love you, but the reality is they are not capable of loving you because they simply do not know how. And with that, do you really want to spend the rest of your life waiting for them to learn?

The final thing I would say is to be careful. The most dangerous and life-threatening time is when you try to leave the relationship. When you both come to the realisation that the game is over then they will do anything and everything to hold on. Once the usual methods of chocolates, flowers and promises fail to win you over then they resort to other dangerous means. Don’t be afraid to get help, it could save your life. Let people know that you that you are trying to leave so that they can support you. His/her strength is in the secrecy that you shade and protect them with. Tell family, tell your friends, and if you have any inkling of a doubt, then tell the police.

You can read about my previous experience escaping an abusive situation here.

And you can find advice and additional support here in the UK and here in the USA.

Thank you for supporting my efforts by taking the time out to read my story and by sharing it with others.

Stay safe and stay positive

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*Source: UNODC United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash.

When it’s Time to Run

I grabbed the biggest suitcase I could find and attempted to pack the lives of me and my two children into it. 

 

There came a time when the situation had reached its limit. The events that had transpired could no longer be brushed underneath the carpet. There were no stories to tell and make believe in to excuse away his behaviour. Home could no longer be synonymous with peace and safety, nor could the homes of friends and family. I knew I could no longer pacify the situation or wait in vain for things to get better. I was backed into a corner and in that moment I knew that the decision I had to make was the choice between life and death. I thought of my young children and knew that I had to live for them, I chose life. And as I sat distraught at the kitchen table of a friend’s house where he had tracked me down, I chose to accept the help that the police officer had extended to me.

After that, everything happened in a whirlwind. Police officers escorted me to my house and stood on guard while I packed a suitcase. I grabbed the biggest suitcase I could find and attempted to pack the lives of me and my two children into it. It didn’t leave much room. I had to choose between the necessities and the sentimental. The police officers reminded me that there was not much time and we had to get going and with that, I walked one last time through my home, room by room, never to return. In my heart I said goodbye to my children’s room. The room which I had painted all by myself. The room which I had saved my money and bought dream bunk beds, the room I had accessorized with Ikea, single-handedly building the furniture and covering the ceiling with glow-in-the dark stars. Each room had it’s own story of how it was built and the memories that were made within it. He made sure he destroyed my room though. Anything that had value to me was taken or destroyed. My tailored suits and outfits lay in the bathtub marinating in a mixture of bleach and the leftover paints and wallpaper paste that I had purchased to decorate my home.

As we drove away and I sat in the back of the police car, I learned to make mental snapshots of the life I was leaving behind and store them within my mind. I was brought to a hostel where I would stay just for a night. A place had been found for me in a women’s refuge many miles away, and I was to be taken there the following morning, but that first night I was to stay at the emergency accommodation. I put the suitcase down on the floor. My children looked around and looked at me as we stood in the doorway. “Are we going to stay here?” The elder one asked me. And when I responded with a “yes” an eruption of tears followed. It was a stark contrast to the warm home we had had come from and all I could do that night was get them to sleep so that they would not have to look at their surroundings or see me cry.

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Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash 

The next day I was taken to the women’s refuge. Although it was a million times better than the hostel, things got worse before they got better. I was allowed to call my mother and assure her I was safe, but that I couldn’t visit her and neither could she visit me. The whereabouts of the refuge had to be kept confidential in order to protect not just my safety, but the safety of the other women and the staff who worked there. As a new chapter began, I was supported all the way through by an amazing team who refused to give up on me even when I felt I had given up on myself. A team who I still think of and credit much of my recovery with today. Through helping with my children, completing day to day tasks, transitioning from one city to another, completing my studies, facing legal proceedings, they were there through it all.

The upheaval greatly affected my children but the staff at the refuge lead the way as I got them into new schools and some of the activities that they used to do. I went from having a house, a car and a dream job, to sharing one room with my children and being unemployed. But despite this, I was never alone. The other women at the shelter had their own stories. We bonded and became a family. We shopped together, cooked together, ate together, watched movies together and celebrated special occasions together. I could go outside without the fear of being seen and recognised in this far away town that nobody I knew had even heard of. Until it was time to move on.

Fast forward to over ten years later and we are doing fine. Every materialistic thing we left behind has been replaced with something better. A better home, a better car and a better job and I was able to reconnect with my family. I don’t have any baby photos of my children except for a small one that I had kept in my wallet, but that’s OK. I have the memories in my mind and I have my actual children here with me. Something that he has lost. I don’t regret the choice that I made for one moment. I wouldn’t be and my children wouldn’t be the people we have grown to become today. My children are becoming such wonderful human beings and I shudder to think how they would have turned out if we had remained in such awful circumstances.

And so the intention behind revisiting my past and sharing my experience is in the hopes that it reaches that person who needs to hear it. If you are ever in a situation where your life becomes endangered, know that there are teams of people who have the resources to help. I know how it feels to live in fear and to feel as though all options are out of bounds, but if you are prepared to do something as extreme as packing up your life into a suitcase, then all options for your future will then become available to you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Please share it with that person who needs to hear it.

Stay safe and stay hopeful.

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https://www.refuge.org.uk/ Support for you in the UK

https://www.womenshelters.org/ Support for you in the USA

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

When the Rug is Pulled From Underneath You

Our lives have become intrinsically attached to the people, the objects and the aspects which it revolves around. So deeply penetrating are the systems and attachments that govern our lives, both externally and internally, that the prospects of losing one of them threatens our very existence with ultimate chaos. When suddenly presented with the possibility of losing a loved one, a job, a home or the land in which we reside, any feelings of tranquillity escape us only to be replaced with contrasting feelings of turmoil.

Sleep becomes interrupted. The mind becomes full of clutter. Our very being becomes consumed by thoughts of the situation and then mentally enacting every possibility that could ever stem from it over and over again. It becomes exhausting and anxiety-inducing, but it can be channelled into something productive. Logically thinking things through and preparing a course of action is a great way to turn around thoughts of despair and helplessness into a Plan B, a Plan C and a Plan Z that covers in every eventuality. It will allow us to breathe again and to fall with grace, knowing that whatever situation meets us once we hit the ground, we hit the ground running.

Feeling as though the rug has been pulled from underneath us is totally overwhelming. Especially when the stakes are high. Especially when you have people or little ones depending on you for each and every thing. But we are not their providers, funnily enough. We are simply the means or the vessel that the Ultimate Provider decided to use to deliver to them that which had always been destined for them to receive. And similarly, we will receive that which is destined for us, and nothing less.

We look to our loved ones, our sources of income, our homes and the lands we reside in and hold so dear to us as a sign of stability. Though in many respects each one of these things could become the most fleeting concept we could ever base our stability on. Though we may be connected to these things through feelings of love, comfort and familiarity, perhaps they were only destined to serve those purposes to us for a limited time. Perhaps the reason for the removal or loss of these things is simply to turn us onto our new source, to direct us to the means or the vessel that the Ultimate Provider has decided to use to deliver the rest of our sustenance to us. And through it He will deliver to us that which has always been destined for us to receive, and nothing less.

We hate to lose the things we have become accustomed to. But clinging to what is destined to leave us will not bring us to realise the things that will become even better, be it tangible and material gains, or the spiritual growth and development that is borne of hardship and adversity. The prospects that face us may throw us into a state of inner turmoil and unease, but let us restore tranquillity through securing all bases through a solid plan and then finding comfort in the reality that we are in His safe hands.

Thank you for taking the time out to read the ramblings of my mind, I really do appreciate it.

Stay positive, stay hopeful.

X

 

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

When They Make You Apologise

I remember that terrifying evening.

I remember him shouting.

I remember him losing control and then racing towards me.

I remember that I didn’t have time to block, or cover my face. Out of nowhere the blows came as he pounded it.

I don’t remember how many times he punched me. But I remember the blood. All over my face, my clothes, the floor, the walls…

And I remember that on that terrifying evening, he was triggered by something I had done, something that any normal person would have done.

And on the day after that terrifying evening, after the bones had been broken, he forced me to apologise. And I did. Not because I believed that it should have been me apologising, but to get through the next moments of my life in peace and safety.

If you have never been in such a situation, the thought of being made to say sorry is absurd. But if you have, you know that saying sorry buys you time. You know that saying sorry could be the thing that prevents another episode, for a brief moment. Just make sure you use your time well. Formulate an action plan and execute it.

I am not ashamed of being made to apologise. I said whatever I had to say to protect myself and my family. And if you have ever been in this awful situation, or are living it right now, know that you don’t have to be ashamed for apologising – just make sure you don’t believe it. These people need you to apologise because they know that they are wrong deep down, but it makes them feel better if you do. When you apologise, it serves them with a justification for what they have done. Because you must have been in the wrong if you are now apologising. When you apologise, it helps them to make it easier to live with themselves. It helps them to sleep a little better. And if you apologise enough, you just might believe them.

Never ever believe that you are somehow at fault for the way they have reacted. Perhaps you did nothing out of the ordinary, or perhaps you even ”asked for it.” Whatever it was that triggered the reaction, no reaction of this nature is justified.

Abusers need you to keep their dirty nature a secret. And when you believe that you are at fault, you hide it for them, you cover up their actions with lies. And when you are so subdued by them, they don’t even have to ask you to. People may find out what they have done, and abusers will try to downplay the situation, “I pushed her, she fell,” and the likes. Whatever comes out, one thing they never want to come out, is the fact that you were made to apologise. Because if it did, then everyone would know, and would try to convince you, that they are the psychopaths that they really are.

 

To anyone who is facing violence, you don’t have to. There are ways you can escape your situation. You just need to be ready.

http://www.refuge.org.uk (UK)

http://www.womenshelters.org (USA)

 

Photo by Shahan Khan on Unsplash

When It’s Time To Bounce Back

Once you have reached rock bottom the only direction you can go from there is up. In the initial stages you may not think you will ever leave the abode of rock bottom as doubts as to whether you will ever rebuild your life creep in. And then, once you begin to feel the desire to move on from rock bottom, you are so used to being there that you wonder if you are worthy of being anywhere else. So accustomed to being in the depths of darkness, you are fearful of stepping out into the light.

Whatever your circumstances may have been, they were just that; circumstances. And circumstances are not permanent but subject to change. Whether you have lost a loved one, a home, a job or suffered a public humiliation, there is no law of life that permanently confines you to your circumstance or decrees that you live your life in shame and in pain. You may never truly ‘get over’ your past but you can choose to not be reduced by it. You are worthy of standing tall despite the pain that resides deep within you, and you will be all the more stronger for it.

When it is finally time to face the world again, you may feel extremely self conscious or nervous. You might walk with your head held down not wanting to make eye contact with people who you feel are staring and gossiping about you, and if your story is anything like mine, they probably are. It hurts. But it takes a lot of mental affirmations until you will truly believe that what other people think about you, is their business and not yours. They may hate you and blame you for many things but you need to understand that these are their own personal and emotional issues that they need to overcome, just as you are beginning to overcome yours. It will take a lot of mental affirmations until you will truly believe that you are in control of the perception you have of yourself, and you do not need to diminish the belief you have in yourself just because of the opinions of others. I know it is incredibly difficult to have such a firm feeling of self worth, especially when situations occur that knock all the confidence out of you, but you have to ask yourself why we give permission to other people to make us feel inferior? Why do we give their personal opinions of us such authority over our lives? They are their opinions, and just like circumstances, they are not permanent, but subject to change.

Set about changing their opinions by showing them and the world who you really are. And even if they don’t change their opinions, it is of no loss or concern to you. Be the wonderful person that you are, continue striving for change for the betterment of yourself and you will give people a new reason to talk about you. Because if your story is anything like mine, the talk will go from ‘It’s all her fault, how could she show her face around here?…’ to ‘Wow, she’s so nice! It’s amazing how she has bounced back from x, y, z!’ People are fickle. They will enter in and out of your lives, but you will remain with you for the rest of your life. So be kind to yourself and turn that niggling voice in your head into a positive one. It’s not going to be easy, but trust me… you’ve got this.

Thank you for taking the time out to read my story. Please share it with anyone who you feel may benefit from it, and have a blessed day!

 

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

When We Are Disconnected

How long will it remain like this? For anyone who has experienced the depths of depression this question may be all too familiar; how long? Perhaps you have heard it asked or perhaps you were the one asking. It is a question  that comes from a place of despair and exhaustion because it is tiring living each and every day as though you carry the weight of your pain over your shoulder like a heavy sack filled with the burdens of your past. It slows you down and it wears you out. The prospect of living out the rest of your days in such pain is unthinkable and so you question; how much more?!

How long will it remain like this? It is from my personal experience that being in a state of strong faith and being in a state of depression does not exist in the same moment. And so we remain like this as long as we are disconnected from our Creator. I write this without intent to cause harm or offense to anyone, but to share parts of my personal experiences and my journey in the hopes that it reaches someone and resonates with them. By no means am I suggesting that medications and professional counselling services are ineffective and that professional services and advice should not be sought. Everyone is individual and unique and what works for some may not work for others and vice versa. But what I can share is that the burning desire to turn things around and the self motivation to take oneself out of a situation sees quicker results than anything else. In my case happiness could not be administered to me in the form of a pill or words of golden advice, the desire to be happy had to come from within me. And in the midst of the trauma that had engulfed my life, it was only my conviction in the existence of a Creator that allowed me to reach a happy place and then remain there. While my life in this world was falling apart to all those who observed, I was excited for the future, fuelled by the belief that I was going to meet my Creator.

Having faith has had the most uplifting effect on my life. Instead of holding on to past experiences with all their bitterness and pain, I let go of all the burdens that were weighing me down and gave them all to God to take care of. Instead of becoming frustrated and agonising over situations, I accepted that I couldn’t fix everything myself and that through faith I could allow myself to trust Him to rectify my affairs with full confidence that they would be taken care of in the best manner and with an ending that I could not have dreamed of. Faith has instilled a calming reassurance to the heart, knowing that I was not alone in every step of my journey.

By no means am I saying that one who has faith can’t feel sad. Things happen in life that get us down. We are people with feelings and emotions, and of course we will react to certain events and situations otherwise we wouldn’t be human, but what I have noticed is that when faith is strong, we are better equipped to deal with these situations. It doesn’t cause our lives to come to a standstill as we tell ourselves that God will take care of it, and to trust in the plan. There is a huge difference in being unsure of what the outcome will be and being sure that the outcome will be good because it will be just as God planned it. It literally is a weight off of your shoulders.

So as I mentioned before, reconnecting with my Creator was what lifted me up from the depths of depression. Though I didn’t even realise I was ever disconnected. I tried to do all that I was supposed to do and abstain from all that I was not. But I guess you could say my heart was not alive. We weren’t created to feel sad and isolated and despite what well meaning people may advise, reconnecting with our Creator shouldn’t be difficult or mechanical. Nor should we feel inferior to others who are able to achieve so much. Some people feel amazing after spending hours in worship, others get the same feeling by sitting in a garden and reflecting on His creation. God knows our capabilities as well as our limits and our judgement is not based on the achievements of others. Whatever it is that will bring us closer to our Creator, we only need to take the first steps and be sure that He will cause the rest to fall perfectly into place.

 

Photo by Rob Potter on Unsplash

When Friends Leave

She was my friend and I adored her. I admired her. Sometimes its hard to find someone that you share common interests with. I thought that I had found that friend who had the same interests as me and was passionate about the same things that I was. Sometimes we find ourselves putting up a façade in order to feel as though we belong, but with her I felt I could be myself. I could be the real me and she wouldn’t judge my inner weirdo because deep down she was a weirdo like me. Although at that time I had my husband, sometimes there’s nothing like a best friend. Like little girls, we laughed and giggled as we bonded over coffee and heartbreak. Two women whose childhoods and life experiences mirrored each other, finding themselves in a small town and resulting in two like-minded people.

That is why it was all the more hurtful when she decided to leave. Unexpected and traumatic events threw my life into turmoil and she made her excuses and simply walked away. I laughed it off in public but in reality it cut me. I told myself that I didn’t need her, and truly I didn’t. But that didn’t stop it from hurting me. I was lonely and in the middle of a devastating crisis, I yearned for companionship.

When people leave us, we can say all kinds of things. How they were selfish, how it was their loss, how they had never been a true friend in the first place, and these may well all be true. But it doesn’t stop the heartache. It doesn’t stop you wondering how and where they are now, and thinking that in such a small town, perhaps you might run into them as you look for them in every place you visited together. Blaming the people who leave us, and they may well be worthy of blame, does nothing to fill the void that their disappearance has left in our lives. Nothing can replace that feeling of emptiness, except knowing and truly accepting and believing that this is what was best for us.

We have to entrust our broken hearts for healing to the One who made them. God tells us that sometimes we desire something, and it is just not good for us. If something has been removed from our lives, we need to trust the One whose infinite knowledge extends across all of creation, and know that we are in good hands. Perhaps the heartbreak of these people leaving, is a lesser pain than the one that they would later inflict on our lives if they stayed.

She was my friend and I adored her. I admired her. Past tense. I still think of her often, but I no longer yearn for her companionship. In the middle of my devastating crisis I found the true friend who never leaves, and during unexpected and traumatic events, my heart was reunited with the One who made it. And that was what was best for me.

 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash