The Mirror has two faces

The title being from a film I have loved for many years starring, Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges.

Back in the days before streaming, where you went to the cinema for the experience of seeing a film on the big screen.

And films were produced by the likes of Sony Pictures where you really felt like you were getting that cinematic experience.

I have grown and changed so much since this film was released.

And I think it’s only as you get older do these sorts of films really resonate with you on a whole new level.

That level where you see the pain and hurt in the character on screen and you can relate in the most heart-wrenching and heartbreaking way.

The connection is real.

As anyone who knows me will attest….I see things through a domestic abuse lens. In particular, a post-separation abuse lens.

And so the title of the film got me thinking…..

Victims and survivors of post-separation abuse often give one face to the world, the face that says, “I’m fine” so as not to draw attention to themselves.

The other face, is the one that lives in fear and dread every day, that this is it.

That they will never be free and every day is going to be a battle for some semblance of freedom.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There is help and support.

Many people who have experienced post- separation abuse now live lives where they can look in the mirror and be proud of what they see.

No longer seeing the two faces they have had to give to the world.

Just one, unique and awesome face that has conquered fears, faced demons and rose to every challenge that was placed in front of them.

That is a face to behold. ❤️

If the blog resonates with you and you need support, please visit my Resources Page

DIP in and out with Lucy Episodes

 

Light and Dark – The Circle of Control

There’s a saying that people will come and go in your life but you know what will always be there for you?……

Laundry!

This thought came to mind when I was deciding on whether to start a darks load of washing this morning or a lights load.

We have a basket that is split into dark and light and although it’s looking a bit worn now, it has served us well.

Specialising in post-separation abuse, means I see so many analogies in every day life that can be linked to it.

The dark and the light are prime examples of what an individual experiencing post-separation abuse has to contend with on a daily basis.

The moments when the stresses, worries and fears that come with post-separation abuse seem to be all encompassing.

To the moments when genuine happiness and peace fill their soul.

It can feel like a never ending cycle of emotions all the while trying to live their life with the perpetrator holding on and not letting go.

I discovered something invaluable when I worked for my local domestic abuse charity TDAS

The Circle of Control model

It can be a huge support, helping people manage their feelings of overwhelm and anxiety by focusing on the things they can change as opposed to the things they can’t.

What is within our control and what isn’t.

Long before I had even heard of the Circle of Control, I had a similar concept I tried to live by although being human, I would fail miserably at times.

And it was this.

Growing up Roman Catholic I remember my Mum giving me a prayer card before one particular set of exams (I think it was my entrance exam to secondary school) and the card had the serenity prayer on it.

Part of the prayer is,

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s something I still come back to time and time again. Although I’ll be honest, some days are harder than others to follow this message.

When an individual experiences post-separation abuse, the things that aren’t within their control can build and build – especially if the perpetrator is constantly finding new ways to cause fear and panic.

Through financial abuse, family court proceedings, stalking and harassment and so much more.

And this can continue for many years, until the individual feels so desperate and alone.

The blame and the shame they feel also builds over time. This is where societal judgement and lack of knowledge can be so damaging for victims and survivors.

They feel that they are not worthy of support or help and therefore, don’t seek it.

Add to that, the fear they will not be believed so how do you ask for help?

But if we as a society put the blame and shame where it truly belongs with the perpetrator and the systems that have failed victims and survivors, then those impacted may stand a chance of finding the support and help they deserve.

Many victims and survivors experiencing post-separation abuse will have contact with the perpetrator, for example if there are children involved.

But with help and support, they can navigate these situations, what is within their control and how they respond to the perpetrator.

Taking back control of their life.

Separating out the moments of joy and happiness from the dark times.

If the blog resonates with you and you need support, please visit my Resources Page

DIP in and out with Lucy Episodes

 

Someone to Watch Over Me

I grew up with what can only be described as eclectic taste in music.

Having a lot of siblings means you pick up on their tastes, along with your parents tastes in music. And all the while, developing your own sense of identity through the music you listen to over the course of your life.

And I went through a particularly strong phase of liking Jazz music in my late teens. I’d already grown up on Nat King Cole and Perry Como, courtesy of my Mum and Grandma. But now I was also discovering the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.

Strong empowering women who fought against all the odds to get to where they wanted to be.

That was it – I was hooked. Each had their own style and quality that set them apart. To me, they were formidable women.

They sang songs about love and loss, each with their own interpretation through their unique voices and styles.

Being a Domestic Abuse Consultant means you see life through a certain lens. Everything takes on specific meanings and correlations with abuse.

So when I now think of the song, “Someone to Watch Over Me” it takes on a whole different meaning.

In one verse, the lyrics are,

“I’m a little lamb who’s lost in a wood

I know I could always be good

To one who’ll watch over me.”

When I look at this from the perspective of my work, it shouts out to me the parallels with domestic abuse, in particular coercive control.

Victims and survivors who have experienced coercive control will tell you that they had to become so submissive in order to survive day to day life.

So what is Coercive Control?

Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

And, like so many other forms of abuse, it doesn’t happen over night. The perpetrator takes their time in carving out a life where the individual experiencing coercive control becomes so dependent and reliant on the perpetrator that the rest of the world is effectively shut out.

The manipulation, isolation and fear slowly erodes the individuals sense of self.

It’s no longer about who they are. It has become about who the perpetrator wants them to be – a little lamb who’s lost in a wood.

And the only person that can save them is……you guessed it. The person who has crafted and designed a world where only they exist.

This can continue for many, many years. In fact, the longer it continues, the more “normal” it begins to feel.

“Everybody’s relationship is like this.” The narrative spun like a web by the perpetrator until the victim believes it.

And thinking for one second that there is any way out. Forget it. You have “Someone to watch over you.”

And they do. Like a hawk!

So, knowing all of the above is it really as simple as people wish to believe about leaving an abusive relationship?

When we hear people say, “why don’t you just leave?” or “why do you stay with them?”

All this does is place the blame and shame at the feet of the person who has done nothing wrong.

It’s dangerous and damaging language.

I wrote a blog entitled, We can always Do Better and as a society, that’s precisely what we need to do – better.

When we show compassion, it can encourage people to come forward and speak out. Seek the support they so richly deserve.

Giving them the chance to move forward and be free from the coercive and controlling behaviour.

Only then, can someone truly feel that there is hope.

Hope for a new chapter in life, where they can turn the page and start to move forward.

“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Tuli Kupferberg

If the blog resonates with you and you need support, please visit my Resources Page

DIP in and out with Lucy Episodes

Recover or Move Forward?

Recovery is a word we hear quite often.

Especially when we think of an individual who has had an operation, been in hospital etc..

We also hear the word when we read about celebrities and those in the spotlight who have struggled with addiction. That they are now in “recovery.”

It’s a word that has powerful meaning.

Domestic abuse and the language we use when we talk about it is something I’m particularly keen to see evolve and change.

So much language around abuse has a bias that people often don’t realise is there.

But victims and survivors do.

They feel the judgement, it’s palpable.

For a victim or survivor of domestic abuse, it’s a very lonely place to be when they feel and sense that the world is judging them.

But here’s the thing I can never understand. How can you judge a situation you know nothing about? Judging someone who has or is experiencing domestic abuse and all it encompasses implies you know more than than anyone else.

And how can we judge another human being, when we ourselves could be experiencing domestic abuse and don’t even realise it.

The word recovery is often used when talking about victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

And I just want to say this.

If someone who has experienced abuse is comfortable with the word recovery being used when describing their situation, then that is their right and choice to feel this best describes where they are at.

But using “recovery” as a blanket term when talking about victims and survivors can be problematic and in the end, damaging.

Recovery, as I said earlier refers to someone who has been ill or has experienced some form of addiction.

A victim or survivor of domestic abuse hasn’t had a cold. They are not recovering from an illness.

Domestic abuse is something that will stay with the person for the rest of their lives. They don’t “get over it” or “move on. ”

But what an individual can do is “move forward.”

Minute by minute, hour by hour. Day by day.

Some days will be more progressive than others.

And that’s OK!

Learning to live with what has happened to them and say, “but this doesn’t define me” is one of the most empowering things a victim or survivor can do.

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou

If the blog resonates with you and you need support, please visit my Resources Page

DIP in and out with Lucy Episodes

“Do Better.”

It’s a phrase we hear from time to time.

But what does it really mean to; “do better.”

Many of us think we are doing the best we can in all sorts of situations and circumstances. Life throws us challenges, sometimes, more often than we care to admit.

But I’m asking this……

Are we, as a society doing the best we can to support others?

Too often, people don’t see domestic abuse as something they need to be concerned about.

“It doesn’t affect me.”

Domestic abuse affects ALL of us. Whether we like it or not.

You can be impacted directly or indirectly and at some point in your life you will know someone, a family member, friend, neighbour, work colleague or maybe you yourself have been impacted by domestic abuse and don’t realise it.

The idea that domestic abuse only “happens” to certain individuals is one of the many narratives that we need to change!

Anyone can be a victim or survivor of domestic abuse.

The ripple effect domestic abuse creates can develop and spread.

The effects stem from the first time someone is abusive – emotionally, financially, physically, psychologically or sexually and it continues to spread.

This can then lead to becoming so reliant on the abuser, that everything, your entire existence is about what the abuser wants.

Where you live, what family or friends you see, what money you spend, what you eat, what you wear, the list goes on and on.

Domestic abuse is subtle, especially in the beginning, it doesn’t happen over night.

It grows gradually.

Over time, the effects become so widespread, every area of life is impacted by the abuse.

Relationships with family and friends start to change as the abuser’s clutches take a tighter grip and hold on the individual’s life.

They start getting deeper and deeper into troubled waters until they are completely and utterly lost.

Maybe they can’t explain why they are so lost, but they are. Trying to explain to people why they are in the situation they are in, without really understanding it themselves.

Then imagine, the very people they are trying to explain all this to are asking questions and making statements like, “Well, why didn’t you leave sooner?” “I could see them coming a mile off!”

If you are fortunate enough to have someone open up about their experience of domestic abuse, it’s never acceptable to question why they were in that situation.

It takes immense amounts of courage to speak about something so personal and so confusing, that to second guess why someone was in that situation shows nothing but ego.

When we judge others, what are we actually judging them by?

Our own experiences and opinions. That doesn’t make sense.

Putting ego aside and saying, I’m in no position to judge another human being would be a start to changing the way we treat and perceive victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

Now is the time to turn the attention onto our ourselves and say, “I can do better.”

If the blog resonates with you and you need support, please visit my Resources Page

DIP in and out with Lucy Episodes

 

Protecting your peace as a priority……

Is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

I have tried to spend most of my life treating people as I would want to be treated.

But I came to the realisation in recent years that you can’t please everybody. And there’s no shame in that.

We are all unique and not everyone is going to like you, understand you or your situation.

And that’s OK.

I wrote a blog last year entitled, “Rumour has it…….let them Talk”

Because so often, society judges victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

Unconscious bias, assumptions, speculations all come into play.

All of this has a huge impact on those who have experienced domestic abuse.

They feel the need to justify themselves or explain their situations.

They don’t.

For those who have experienced domestic abuse they have a million thoughts to process, a multitude of plates to spin, while trying to live each day of their life.

When people feel it’s acceptable to talk about a victim or survivor and pass judgement on a situation, they couldn’t possibly fathom, I’m astounded.

Not only is that person having to process the fact that they have experienced domestic abuse but if they have children, they are trying to support their children too.

So then for a victim to feel the need to defend themselves and their lives to people who have no comprehension of what they have lived through, is utterly devastating.

Add to that the perpetrator more often than not, will openly lie about the victim/survivor, coerce and manipulate others into believing them.

Spinning the narrative in favour of themselves, then what choices does the individual impacted have?

As is so often the case, there is no easy answer.

But one positive choice and step in the right direction is when you stop explaining yourselves and your situations to others, you are slowly and gradually, taking back your peace.

If the blog resonates with you and you ned support, please visit my Resources Page

DIP in and out with Lucy Episodes

“So what is Post-Separation Abuse?”

Is the question I am often asked.

And quite rightly so – as it is my specialism.

I started my Consultancy and Guest Speaking because I wanted to make a difference. And thankfully, that dream is becoming a reality.

I talk about all aspects of Domestic Abuse but I chose to specialise in Post-Separation Abuse for one simple reason.

Many people have either never heard of it or are not sure what it means.

The misconception is that once a person leaves an abusive relationship, then that’s it. They’re free.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

At it’s core, post-separation abuse is about the abuser doing their utmost to hang on to control and power.

The abuser needs to remain in control.

So if an individual manages to leave an abusive relationship, the abuser can’t and won’t accept it.

And the situation for many people, in fact, only gets worse.

I have often said that post-separation abuse and a person trying to move forward with their life is like running a marathon and not a sprint.

But what do you do when there never appears to be a finish line? It seems to be constantly moving further and further away?

There isn’t a simple answer.

But talking about it, seeking help and support can have a huge and positive impact.

And until we are willing to try understand and unpick the complexities of post-separation abuse, it will continue to go undetected in so many lives.

Because why would an individual speak out if they thought they won’t be heard or understood?

Or just as worryingly, they don’t see that the abuse has continued after they have managed to leave. This is “just how it is.” It is their norm.

Post-separation abuse is grueling, can last a long time and individuals impacted, will need support.

Family members and friends can also learn more about how to try and help their loved ones. And in the process, help themselves navigate their way through supporting someone experiencing post-separation abuse.

Nobody should ever feel as though they are “owned” by another human being. And You Don’t Own Me will keep spreading that message for as long as it takes……

If this blog resonates with you or someone you know, you can visit my Resources Page for useful links and support.

DIP in and out with Lucy | Podcast on Spotify

A person can say anything…

My dad will be a year older on Monday. 79, in fact.

It’s Friday afternoon, I’m sitting here thinking about wrapping his presents and what to say in his card.

Trying to fit everything I think and feel into his card is always a challenge. I know I wouldn’t need to say anything – and he’d still know how I felt about him.

I usually end up going for one of our “in-jokes” because I know it will make him laugh.

Growing up with my dad working nights wasn’t easy. I never really thought about it until I got older. But he is a provider, he shows his love and affection through his actions. I cannot begin to count the number of times in my life he has shown me his genuine love through every single thing he has done to help and support me in my life.

And he is loyal beyond words.

I think one of the most valuable life lessons my dad ever taught me was “don’t tell me, show me.”

This is something I have carried with me over the years and honestly, it is one of the truest sayings I have ever heard.

We can all talk the talk I’m sure. But when words and actions don’t marry up – what then?

In domestically abusive relationships, the perpetrator will shower words of adoration and affection onto the victim, making the victim feel special and wanted. These words flow from the perpetrator’s mouth with the greatest of ease. So naturally in fact, that the victim believes it all to be true.

Slowly, the arguments start and those words that were like sweet honey from the perpetrator’s mouth, begin to turn sour.

But it’s OK. Because they are sorry. They’ve been under a lot of stress and the victim hasn’t helped matters.

Sweet words return and yet, there’s a niggling feeling the victim can’t shake until (in many cases) years have passed and the victim can barely recognise themselves anymore.

This is an all too common picture we see when supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Somewhere along the way, they lose sight of themselves, of all the things they wanted to do and the dreams they had when they were little are gone.

The reason I wanted to start You Don’t Own Me and DIP in and out with Lucy, was to let people know one simple thing. That they are not alone.

When we support victims and survivors, we’re letting them know that their life isn’t over. There is the chance to live a full and happy life. It will take time, especially if the individual is navigating the worries and pressures of post-separation abuse.

But there can be an end to it. Life can move forward.

If I could give a piece of advice to any victim or survivor of domestic abuse it would be this.

A person can say anything. But it’s their actions that will tell you everything you need to know.

I will forever be grateful to my dad for showing me by his actions, his love and affection for me and my family.

It’s the best gift anyone could receive.

If this blog resonates with you or someone you know, you can visit my Resources Page for useful links and support.

DIP in and out with Lucy | Podcast on Spotify

 

 

 

Relationships – Where do we go from here?

Romantic relationships can be complicated enough at the best of times.

There are so many components that make up these relationships and they gradually become intertwined with every aspect of our lives.

When the relationship and connection seems to deepen, we start exploring the qualities reserved for those precious individuals in our lives where trust, respect and honesty reside.  And we think about whether or not this relationship has all these qualities.

Many relationships do master what appears to be a fine balance in order to achieve living in a happy relationship. But even then, those relationships are not immune from breaking down. People can grow apart and want different things out of life.

But what if you have experienced domestic abuse in a relationship? What then?

And what if you are experiencing post-separation abuse?

Probably one of the most important questions is…..can you ever trust again?

Each person who has experienced abuse has the right to choose if they ever want to consider being in a relationship again.

And there is no set time limit on exploring the idea of a new relationship.

There should be no pressure and each person should take their time to decide what’s right for them. If there are children involved, this is a huge consideration when entering into any new relationship.

But I think it is an even more important decision to take time to consider for anyone who has experienced abuse.

You not only need to be able to consider yourself emotionally, mentally, physically and so on, but you need to be able to think about your children as well.

You also have so much to process, especially if you and your children are experiencing post-separation abuse.

At it’s core, post-separation abuse is about the abuser doing their utmost to hang on to control and power. The abuser needs to remain in control. They refuse to let go.

So when an individual who has been controlled, manages to leave, the abuser can’t and won’t accept it.

I have often said that post-separation abuse and trying to move forward with your life is like running a marathon and not a sprint.

And what do you do when there never appears to be a finish line because it’s constantly moving further and further away from you?

There isn’t a simple answer. But seeking help and support can help you and your family to manage more effectively the situations that arise from post-separation abuse.

You may feel as though it would all be too complicated for a new relationship and for that person to understand and accept that this is all really happening.

You may fear that the person may decide it’s all too much for them and end the relationship.

It can become very stressful and you may feel as though you are trying to please everybody all while keeping your head above water.

There is no set formula to entering into a relationship after you have experienced domestic abuse.

But what I would say is….there is no rush.

You have every right to work on your own self-worth, your self-esteem and think about what it is you really want.

If you do feel comfortable to try and see how a new relationship might progress, then anyone who is worthy of you will be patient and will support you even when they don’t truly understand the situation themselves.

If you have doubts about any new relationship, you can find more information here about Clare’s Law

A new relationship isn’t what everybody wants or sees in their future. And it doesn’t have to be.

But staying hopeful and open to the possibility that there are good people out there, makes the world for me, a happier place to live in.

Whatever, you choose to do with your life if you have experienced domestic abuse, I would just say this.

Your past does not define or decide your future.

You now have the opportunity to rewrite your story. You get to decide how it plays out.

And honestly? It can lead to paths you never knew existed for you. Opening doors to opportunities you thought were only reserved for an elite few.

And you can have a life and if you want it – a relationship far greater than the one you could ever have tried to envisage for yourself before.

If this blog resonates with you or someone you know, you can visit my Resources Page for useful links and support.

DIP in and out with Lucy | Podcast on Spotify

Take my Hand and Remember

I posted a powerful message on LinkedIn on Mothering Sunday. And I think it deserved to sit within the rest of my blogs.

I hope it serves as a reminder…..

I couldn’t be a Domestic Abuse Consultant specialising in post-separation abuse and not say something about today.

Today we will see lots of messages celebrating Mother’s Day.

I want to say a few words to all those mother’s experiencing post-separation abuse and are not with their children today.

Please remember this.

One day in the year cannot erase every holding of their hand, every kiss on their forehead goodnight every game you have played or every hug that gives them peace and comfort when they need it.

You are the most remarkable mothers.

You are not forgotten today or any day 💗

Please share with any mother who needs to read or hear this today.

If this blog resonates with you or someone yohttps://ydom.co.uk/u know, visit my Resources Page for useful links and support.

DIP in and out with Lucy | Podcast on Spotify