Demystifying Domestic Abuse
Some scars can’t be seen but can still be felt
By Tammi Owen
Working in the field of domestic abuse you don’t often share your story to the people you work with and many people would be surprised to hear my story of why I decided to become a champion, for men and women living with abuse and how passionate I am to help professionals develop awareness and equip them to feel confident to work in this field. Time and time again I hear ‘why do men or women stay’ or ‘domestic abuse is only physical.’
My story started when I was 24, I met someone who very quickly became my world. Looking back, I’m still surprised how consumed I was by this relationship. Within a short space of time my friends and family became less important, my career took a back seat and all those dreams of travel and my hobbies became distant. My life was to be with him. I started to dress differently, I grew out my hair and my views on the world changed to mirror what he wanted, what I thought was expected of me. My belief became that if you love someone you change for them, as a woman shouldn’t I want to make him happy? I became a 5ft 10 size 8 trophy wife ‘Agent Barbie’ and her ‘Ken’. To the outside world, to my friends and family I started to disappear. The fiery woman became a ‘yes dear’ sort of person.
One of the most interesting things about my story is that I should have known better, isn’t that what most people would say if they knew me, knew my job, and knew who I became? Why is this story so intriguing and why would someone reading this story stop and wonder? I never thought I was a victim of domestic abuse until leaving this relationship and spending 2 years seeing a therapist. There is no mystery how and why I became a psychotherapist. The mystery is why did it take me so long to realise I had lost myself within this relationship?
Let me share with you a personal memory. Picture the scene, a mother and daughter standing in a queue at a coffee shop, the same coffee shop they had visited many times over the years. Mother says to her daughter ‘do you want jam with your scone?’ Daughter stands in the queue staring into space not knowing how to answer, as she can’t remember if she likes jam. ‘Um I’m not sure if I like jam mum?’ Daughter looks across to her mother and notices she is crying. ‘Why are you crying mum?’ Mother answers ‘you’ve loved strawberry jam since you were 2 years old.’
For many reading this story, this may seem quite tame compared to the usual domestic abuse perception, the battered wife/girlfriend /partner stories they may have heard. For others there may be some recognition that this sounds familiar to their situation. Sometimes it’s the small things over time you may not even notice, but these can cause the most damage. Some scars are hidden, a man or woman may not present to you battered and bruised, sometimes it’s the loss of ‘the self’ that the professional may not even notice. But I can guarantee that as a victim myself, building relationships with the person in front of you is what can break down the barriers and encourage the person to start to understand their situation.
This is why I am so passionate about Heroes Training professional development programmes available from Brightlink Learning. As a professional you should understand your own part, the part you play in working with men and women living with abuse.
Working through our step by step modules, covering the Johari window (self-reflection) Parent, Adult, Child (where our beliefs come from and how we communicate positively or negatively), Strokes (what we need from the world and why we seek positive and negative strokes) and Pain and Pleasure (how we can remain fearful or stuck in a situation because we wish to avoid long term pain). Reflection and developing self-awareness can support professionals to feel confident in working with men and women whilst encouraging an open dialogue between a professional and the individual that they wish to support.
Heroes training offer professional development courses online via Brightlink Learning which can be found by following this link http://brightlink.org.uk/flsp/
These CPD courses are accredited by the CPD registration service and are supported by personal development units that can be undertaken in alignment by the clients of a professional. These personal development units can be found by following this link http://brightlink.org.uk/adult/
For more information visit http://brightlink.org.uk or call 02921 888386