Feeling like I can’t go on, I have to get up every day and face things I never imagined I would have the courage to do. Bawling my head off late at night, I pick up the phone. The voice on the other side is comforting, non-judgmental, patient and kind.
I cry and tell her what’s been happening. She reminds me of my positive qualities and all the strengths I have demonstrated – that I have come this far, and I can keep going.
After an hour, I feel better, and strong enough to keep going – at least for another day.
This is an example of one of my phone calls to 1800RESPECT while I was in the midst of trying to extricate myself from the clutches of a dangerous man.
People call me strong all the time, but I’m only as strong as the pillars that are holding me up. I couldn’t have gotten out of my abusive marriage and survived if it wasn’t for all the support.
Here are my pillars of strength:
1800RESPECT - 1800 737 732
This 24-hour telephone counselling service was my main support. I could ring them anytime and usually there was an awesome counsellor on the other end willing to talk me down from my heightened state caused by the trauma
I was experiencing. She would also remind me of my strengths and what I had achieved so far. I rang them almost every day at one point.
Parentline - 1300 301 300
There was one beautiful counsellor I spoke with regularly who had worked previously in domestic violence. She became like a kindly mother who nurtured me and gave me wonderful advice on how to not become a mess in court. She also reminded me of what a great mother I was.
I lost most of my friends as they sided with the abuser. However, there were about four good friends who stuck by me. Three were women I had met through my children’s school and one woman I met through a domestic viol
ence support group. They knew everything I had been through. They’d seen me at my lowest but had also seen me come out triumphant at the other side.
They are still my good friends.
My GP and psychologist, who had known me for years, advocated for me and wrote reports that I was able to submit to the courts. They were able to defend against the abuser’s claims I was crazy and a bad mother.
Domestic Violence Action Centre (Ipswich), Brisbane Domestic
Violence Service, Centrecare and Anglicare
These services were where I attended face-to-face counselling as well as support groups. I became close with my counsellors. They assessed my risk, helped me create escape and safety plans, and gave me practical advice. One of them came with me to court. But usually they just listened and validated me while I cried.
Blogging GEMS program
This Blog is a part of the Blogging GEMS program, which supports domestic violence survivors to practise the self-care strategies of Gratitude, Exercise, Mindfulness, Support, and Service (GEMS). As they practise the strategies, they blog about it.you can read their survivor GEMS Blogs: