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  • Writer's pictureMichaela Rolls

Staying safe in a domestic abuse relationship

If you think you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship, you can check following the link below to the Women’s Aid website

If you find that you are, please check Dr Jane Monckton Smiths homicide timeline to see if you are at risk.

If you can leave in a safe manner and you know you are at risk, then please do leave as soon as you can. The Police will attend if needed and there are charities that will help you. If you need to contact the Police in a situation where you cannot talk, dial 999 from a landline and when they answer press 55 and they will dispatch the police to you.

I am aware that that its not always that straightforward, every situation has it unique elements, but there are also some commonalities. If you have done the freedom program, which I highly recommend, you will learn about the similarities. This will help you understand that this is not anything you have done wrong, that abuse doesn’t discriminate it can happen to anyone at any time in their life. Below are a few things that can help you move forward in preparation to a time when it is safe to leave.

You are already an expert on your perpetrator. You already know what things wind them up and trigger an outburst. That said, perpetrators by their very nature are unpredictable, with alcohol, drugs or not getting enough perceived attention, they can turn in an instant.

Think of a time in the past when this has happened, how have you calmed the situation? How have you got out of this before? What was it that brought them down to less aggressive state? This information is worth baring in mind should you need it.

The one thing that perpetrators cannot cope with is being shamed. Therefore, leaving one is the most dangerous times for a victim. When you leave it is a rejection, a rejection of them as a person, as a lover, partner, human being. They also feel that they are losing control of the situation, added to this the fear of rejection and shame can very quickly turn into blame and rage. Fear is not an easy place for people to go, so they can avoid that fearful feeling by going to anger, which is much more comfortable as anger helps intimidate and bring back control. I am not suggesting by any means that you turn into a passive victim, but placating someone in a rage may well save your life.

When a situation is starting, and you start to get a tingly sensation in your chest, this is fear. It starts to feel like you are walking on eggshells and you become hyperaware of any noise. At this stage you are entering fight, flight or freeze, your adrenaline will spike as your body prepares you for any perceived threat. When you feel this coming, you can slow your breathing by using a very simple method called 4, 4,6 breathing. Breath into the count of 4, hold your breath for 4 and breath out for 6 seconds. Practice this now, in advance and it will make it easier to use should you ever need to. You may need to do this a couple of times, but it will help to calm you down and think more clearly. If you can get yourself to feel calmer, it has a chance of calming an angry or aggressive person down. I cannot guarantee this will perpetrators are unpredictable.

The one thing the perpetrator does not have control of (though they often think they do) is your thoughts and your mind. They belittle and shame you to take away your self-esteem and self-worth which makes you more pliable and passive. Little steps now will help move you forward later and a way to start to empower yourself is by taking back a bit of control on how you feel about yourself.

If you are in a coercive control relationship, I would already guarantee the relationship you have with yourself is not a kind one. If your language is often negative towards yourself “I am stupid” “I am clumsy” “I am a terrible wife/mother/partner/husband” then you have low self-worth. I would guess that you berate yourself with your own thoughts and how you talk to yourself. The person you will spend the most time within your life and have the most conversations with is that voice in your head. It can either be your worst enemy or your best friend.

If you imagined how it would sound if you said the same things to a friend, or a child, how would they react? Would they cry? Would they feel motivated? Would they feel loved? Would they feel reassured? If the answer is no, then its time to take notice of what you say to yourself. If not for yourself to start with, do it for your children as they are like sponges and will treat themselves as you do. Rather than be harsh, try saying things like “I am trying my best” “I am kind” “ I am lovable” “I am good enough” and you are, exactly as you are today reading this, I believe that. You are more capable than you think, if you are raising children with an abuser, you have gone through one of life most challenging journeys with the added complication of living in a constant state of fear and trepidation, which is no easy feat.

Concentrate on someone you know loves you, best friend, mother, father, siblings, neighbour, boss (past and present), teacher, anyone apart from your current partner. Do they all share this belief? Can you put yourselves in their shoes and look at you how they do and see what that looks like, how that feels? Hopefully it should feel like a warm, comforting blanket coming over you, this may take practice and that’s ok.

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