Admitting that I was a victim of violence paralysed and trapped me. Conditioned to maintain a front
that everything was okay, my forced silence allowed a lengthy reign of control for my abuser. Reaching out for support is something I continue to struggle with.
There’s now more support for DV victims than ever before. Moving on to a safe life is possible.
However, it takes superhuman determination to heal. The feelings of trauma are deep, haunting survivors for a lifetime.
Building strength and hope are vital in the recovery process. Growing a network of support is difficult, but essential.
A call for help
For me the initial urgency of leaving required a ‘take-what-you-can-get-your-hands-on’ kind of help. Tearfully, I phoned my family and they gave me a place to stay. Moving forward, I had to navigate complex and often understaffed legal services to finally determine a new freedom.
Unexpectedly, the time when I needed the most support was after I had stepped into my own life.
Letting others bear the weight
It took incredible courage to ask for safety and support within my workplace. I was ashamed to speak up but, thankfully, those discussions proved invaluable. The bravery to talk opened doorways to expert help from counsellors and health professionals – doors that would still be shut if I hadn’t talked.
An abuse-free life is like climbing a mountain – a tiring effort of both adventure and fear. My exhilaration with newfound independence is frustratingly countered by the necessity to co-parent with my abuser.
Support is not about indulgent self-care. For me, it is vital for survival.
Finding my tribe
My understanding colleagues and friends are irreplaceable. They prop me up on days when being a single working mum is too difficult to manage on my own.
Connecting to support networks allows me to talk openly with others who get it. Staying active in sport and other groups has meant that I have whole teams shouting encouragement when I need it.
These people, along with the generosity, love and support of my family have helped me ascend into a new life. I now safely identify people who genuinely have my interests at heart, who nourish and care for me. Despite being fiercely independent, I can let others in to help.
I have finally found who I am again.
Realising the value of self-care
When I am calm and centred, I manage the challenges of life better. The more I take care of myself, the better person I am, the better I am at my job and the better I feel.
The energy swings in my favour.
I find time to look after myself without guilt. I read, jog, take myself out for coffee and cake, connect with community, potter around the house and appreciate the beauty of nature. I consciously ground myself and shift trauma when needed.
Deliberate and regular self-care coupled with a variety of safe supports increases my self-worth. It keeps me plodding upwards to catch the views from the peak.
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: