The shadow

A dark shadow hoovered above me, at first I thought it was my shadow, it kept following me everywhere, and then it occurred  to me that a shadow disappears in the dark but even in the dark I could still make out its presence. It would take me down, it grew stronger in time and always pinned me down. It grew and became more powerful and nobody ever knew what I had to do to make it through every day, with this shadow hoovering over me all day. They were oblivious and ignorant, too blind to see, I became a skilled actor wearing a smile as my prop, playing the so called normal human who never could be touched by pain and sorrow. This isolation allowed the shadow to engulf me, I was dependent on it, it became my companion, my misery. It was getting harder for me to make it leave.

One day it spoke to me, told me that it was called depression, it also went by names as having the blues, the black dog…it said that its aim was to break me down, to make me feel in despair, that for friendship with me it didn’t care. It threatened me that the world would not understand, that it would ostracise me and label me crazy, lazy, a freak and weak.

That my suicidal despair would be classified as attention seeking, selfish, off my rocket and mad. That it had me where it wanted and if I told, others would see me as this, I would lose my dignity and their respect, they wouldn’t see the human suffering that I felt. That nobody cared and I’d be punished that death was better than being humiliated.

I started to see that society didn’t see my shadow but it engaged in victim blaming. It made me feel more despair, it wounded me with its stigma and preconceptions, it made me worse with its lack of empathy and understanding.

Then one day I grew angry, who was society and others to judge and inflict more pain? To feed the shadow and reassure and strengthen its stay?

I started to speak out and fight and challenge all this with all my might.

I grew stronger when I learned to ditch the fear, it was time that I got over being scared of the dark, the dark this world leaves others in and realised that empathy and compassion can drive out the dark, that when now sunnier days are out the shadow might still be there, but it doesn’t cause harm no more, defeating depression happens when we learn to reach out to those in pain, and never make them feel alone again. We all want to be saved, stigmatising us will bring no change.

© Antonella Zottola

Poem: Domestic Violence

Fear of abandonment, low self worth, wanting the cure to kill loneliness and more. Dependent on anyone to ease the pain, an emotional painkiller that can’t be found, in agony your soul drowns.
Wanting to feel loved, for approval and acceptance, burning with the pain, someone is going to play a horrid game. The water and tides get high you are reaching out for anything to keep you afloat, even if it’s not what and who you’d want. You grab manure if it keeps you afloat, drink polluted water if it keeps you from the thirst, eat the mouldy food if it stops you dying from hunger, emotional needs are just as strong.
Predator smells the fear, the vulnerability and sees the sadness and the un-shed tears. A perfect target they see, to be found, to control at will, manipulating love and needs to justify what they do, you have been caught and once fed, led to the slaughter house to be tortured and eventually killed, psychologically if not physically.
Smiles your way and enters the opened door, seeks out those vulnerabilities to cause extra injuries and more. Holds you hostage without a gun; with manipulation, hatred, and in making you weaker and weaker finds jubilation.
Feeding on your needs, your hunger for belonging in a world unsafe, you are alone in this isolated cave. Abuse starts so gradually and slow, confusion and entrapment, caught in the quick sand of abuse, swallowing you whole, your escape isn’t easy, trapped in a situation so complex and dangerous, sink, rise or die, remain calm and survive.
Learn their every move, to defeat the enemy or else you lose. Everybody judges, you’re in the wrong, bad boys is what you want, you’re crazy, a liar, attention seeking, too sensitive and a whore, you made your bed now lie in it, nobody has compassion or sees your value, the message is break the silence no more you are not worthy or have the right to be safe, you’re the one that made the mistake. You deserve it, you’re bad, you need to be perfect and even then there is wrong in that. Extra lies from more toxic people unable to hear your story and pain, unable to help you set yourself free, they keep you trapped and then ask why didn’t you just leave?
It echo’s the messages of the abuser;” you did this, you asked for this, you deserve it, nobody will believe you, you’re crazy, you stupid bitch….” No win situation is what you’re in.
Everything you do to survive will go against you and scrutinised, you might as well be dead. In loneliness and pain in this dungeon you stay, every day it gets harder to escape, traumatic bonding are the new chains that hold you down, no key is to be found.
Screaming doesn’t help; you’re all alone with the devil in hell. You no longer know who you are, the identity you had is long gone, your worth is dead, and there is nothing left but an empty shell. So hungry you eat and enjoy the crumbs, for they give you relief for a while, at time compliance and submission frees you from further pain, better days and ‘kindness’ make you forget reality for a while, maybe it will end is what you have to keep telling yourself to survive, sacrifices you endlessly make.
But behold a new fear emerges, that of dying all alone, killed by their very hands, like the assassination of your soul, staying will get you dead, a fear that has you being brave like never before, you head straight for that door. No looking back as you run and keep on running, bleeding from within, escaping the horrors that you were locked in.
Alas, you’re free, but this is just the beginning, as reality sinks in, the horrors that now become intense and deep. Building a life and recovery takes time, no longer can you hide behind denial, you are faced with the horrific truth, abuse is traumatic and fatal; you feel burning shame and to blame, nobody understands the complexity, the dynamics at play, they point the finger and the blame.
How more isolated can you feel? Abuse is fatal and it’s real.
Education is needed, awareness the key, without it and action we can’t be free.
© Antonella Zottla
For more information on domestic violence and abuse, check out my eBook – Shattering the myths of abuse: Validating the pain; Changing the culture –https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shattering-Myths-Abuse-Validating-Changing-ebook/dp/B07PSCF9B5

The Nature of Codependency

My analogy of co-dependency which is people pleasing is being like X-Men character Mystique. In the sense not that one takes or can take the physical shape and appearance of another but in the sense that as co-dependents we shift ourselves to accommodate others, we base our identities on mirroring others, on being who they want us to be or we think they want us to be.

We create and live through a false self because we allow others to define us, we shift ourselves for approval. If I’m who someone wants me to be or like them, I don’t risk rejection and abandonment. I can be loved; I will be seen as enough. I can only be seen this way; I can only be heard if I don’t speak my truth but agree with others. I can only be accepted if I’m everything but me.

Codependency is the reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity. The need to be perfect and defined by others. It’s a loss of control and giving away our power. It’s a loss of our authenticity, our potential, our values, our morals, our boundaries… In fact, the absence of boundaries plays a pivotal role and the fear of setting them, this is why co-dependent people later in life are at risk of ending up being taken advantage off and further abused, not because it’s their fault but because others chose to abuse them by exploiting these very vulnerabilities. In addition, co-dependents fear that having boundaries make them bad or selfish because many times as children they were shamed for having their needs or denied their rights.

Gabor Mate said children need two things; authenticity and attachment.

What happens in codependency is that authenticity is sacrificed for attachment.

In the fear of being abandoned by others, the result is that we sacrifice our own needs and self-love and abandon ourselves.

Co-dependent people don’t have a solid sense of who they are, because co-dependency is a natural reaction to trauma that develops in the formative years and childhood and is due to having experienced developmental trauma. Trauma or abuse robs us of our sense of self amongst other things. Many times it wasn’t okay to be ourselves, to be a child with needs and curiosity and test boundaries and be dependent and needing of nurture, the messages we received were; you are not okay as you are, you are too much, you are not enough, you cannot be accepted or loved for being you, you are not valuable, you’re not lovable…these messages can be subtle and don’t even need to be verbally made. When a child fears these things, they feel rejected and fear being abandoned. For a child abandonment is like murder. Co-dependency develops as a survival strategy, because children are dependent on survival by the adults. These patterns don’t just automatically vanish when someone turns of age. Being an adult is more than just about age.

These patterns follow us into adult relationships, many times seeing us end up in abusive relationships. The trauma response that co-dependency falls into is the fawn response.

The ‘please‘ or ‘fawn‘ response is an often overlooked survival mechanism to a traumatic situation, experience or circumstance. As any survival response; like flight, fight or freeze, a please or fawn response is to manage a state of danger or potential danger.

We may have learned that if as children we utilised the fight response and challenged our parents or protested their mistreatment of us, it only led us to being or feeling punished. This robs us of our assertive skills and silences us into subservience and submission. It also does one of the most destructive things ever that others utilise later in life to hurt us and that’s it deletes our ability to say no, to the point the word no loses all existence. This is why it’s hard for co-dependents to say no, to set boundaries and why they fear doing so will occur a negative action or response. Flight really isn’t much of an option since children depend on the adults in their lives and can’t just easily run away and some go into the freeze response where they dissociate from their toxic environment or people around them.

Many co-dependents were parentified in childhood. Parentification is also linked to childhood trauma and often made invisible just like the child may feel. It occurs when the roles are reversed between a child and a parent, where the child has to step up as the caretaker, mediator, or protector of the family. It is a form of mental abuse and boundary violation.  Again, we see that a codependent has grown up in a dysfunctional family setting where lack of boundaries were to be found. 

This sense of becoming a carer was damaging yet made the child feel they were needed and had a purpose and that if they gave of themselves, they could finally be accepted and loved.

‘Love’ very often came with conditions of worth. Conditions of worth were coined by Carl Rogers, the founder of the Person-Centred approach which is a way of being not doing. Rogers said that conditions of worth are what we develop when we take on board other people’s values and ideas about how we should be. When we are children, we learn what pleases those around us (parents, relatives…) and what gains us approval. This is what sets the stage later to people pleasing and why I mentioned at the start of the article why we become like chameleons or Mystique in X-men.

We also learn what gains us disapproval, for some this can be as simple as making mistakes and the reason why perfectionism is also linked to co-dependency and the child becoming the ‘perfect’ child who is always obedient and polite. Co-dependents are extremely loyal to those that are toxic and can allow mistreatment without seeing it as this because of their past history and conditioning.

It is a need for any child to feel wanted, enough, loved, seen, heard, accepted and to feel they belong and nurtured and it is as much of a requirement as food, shelter, water…Because as children we rely on these for survival we end up doing what is needed to get them (please).

What can add to not feeling enough or unwanted and linked with conditions of worth in later life is also society and how in order to feel like we belong, we are expected and told to be a certain way or act a certain way.

Boys and men don’t cry. Girls and women are not ladylike if they do certain things, gender stereotypes are good at this, advertisements that label certain aspects as flaws in order to make business and work on our self-esteem or create and generate this lack of low self-esteem. Women need to look a certain way to be attractive to men, men need to be macho and have a six pack, success is seen as wealth…This can open the original wound and create added layers making one never feel accepted, wanted, loved or enough as they are or it can create codependency from adolescents and adulthood only. The danger of placing value on these things and believing these conditioned lies, is that if we don’t have these things (if we are not ‘perfect’) then our worth can feel challenged.

 Pete walker defines trauma-based co-dependency as:

‘a syndrome of self-abandonment and self-abnegation’.

He also explains the implicit code of the fawn type is that it is:

  • To listen rather than talk
  • To agree than to dissent
  • To offer care than to ask for help
  • To elicit the other than to express self
  • To leave choices to the other rather than express preferences.

It is only with learning how to apply and carry out boundaries, when we find our voice, are able to offer ourselves our own love and acceptance can we break free of co-dependency and start to become our authentic selves and learn who we truly are or set free the person we always were but that was prisoned.

Further reading of interest:

Abuse victims are not codependent: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/abuse-victims-are-not-codependent-theyre-trauma-bonded_b_581cfc1de4b0334571e09b49?ncid=engmodushpmg00000006

The truth behind suicide and the suicidal mind

Edwin. S. Shneidman states:

“In almost every case, suicide is caused by pain, a certain kind of pain – psychological pain, which I call psychache. Furthermore, this psychache stems from thwarted or distorted psychological needs’ (The Suicidal Mind, 1996, p.4)

Suicidal death is an escape from overwhelming pain.

The question we should be asking is “Where does it hurt? And “How can I help you?”

Shneidman also looks at some common truths and factors about suicide. These are:

  • The common purpose of suicide is to seek a solution to end the pain.
  • The common goal of suicide is cessation of consciousness. Dissociating from the painful reality.
  • The common stimulus in suicide is psychological pain. Pain is at the core of suicide.
  • The common stressor in suicide is frustrated psychological needs. These cause the pain and push the person into suicide.
  • The common emotion in suicide is hopelessness-helplessness. It feels like there is nothing the person can do (except end their pain via death) and nobody that can help them (with the pain they feel).
  • The common cognitive state in suicide is ambivalence. This is the tug war between life and death. Not wanting to live, not wanting to die but wanting to end the pain and death feeling like the only solution. Suicidal people feel forced into this, it is not a want but stemming from the need to end the pain. When the need becomes greater than the want, suicide wins. This is the result of great distress and great desperation.
  • The common perceptual state in suicide is constriction. Black or white thinking. All or nothing.

Shneidman states:

“Suicide is not best understood as a psychosis, a neurosis, or a character disorder. It is a transient psychological constriction, involving our emotions and intellect”. “There was nothing else to do.’ “The only way out was death’. “The only thing I could do was this’.

  • The common action in suicide is escape or egression.
  • The common interpersonal act in suicide is communication of intention
  • The common pattern in suicide is consistent with life-long styles of coping. Individuals who have lost their lives to suicide, have been fighting for far longer than we realise, it’s an accumulation of unprocessed life events that can trigger the final act. Those more prone to automatically use the flee survival response are made vulnerable.

What doesn’t help people who are suffering is the myths that surround suicide that need to be eliminated and based on lack of empathy and total ignorance.

Suicidal people are not selfish, cowards, weak or attention seeking, not only are they in great psychological pain, but did you know that the part involved with empathy is shut down? When overwhelmed our nervous system shuts down and parts of our brain become inactive. In that moment, suicidal people are not thinking, this ability is disabled, they are trying to end their pain.

Also children and adolescents commit suicide, do we think of them as weak, cowards…or do we see them as dsyregulated individuals in great distress unable to regulate and soothe selves?

Suicidal idealisation and suicide itself is common and normal, we need a relational approach to this not a pathological approach. We need to stop pathologising human experiences. We need to stop shaming people who open up to us and label them attention seeking, let’s substitute attention seeking with connection seeking. Suicide can escalate when individuals are made to feel unsupported and isolated.

If someone brings our attention to the fact they are hurting, we ask where are you hurting? We don’t say people are seeking attention when they have had an accident and are injured, the doctor or paramedic may ask, can you tell me where it hurts? Can you show me where you are hurting? and assistance will immediately be given. We also don’t leave an individual who is bleeding profoundly to bleed alone so why do we emotionally? why is the waiting list and support for people in distress so long, requiring them to have to wait years even for assistance? Why are children being dismissed because they are told they are not suicidal enough for help?

Myths not only are callous, judgmental and inaccurate but also contribute in making others feel further unsupported, misunderstood, stigmatised, punished, isolated and alone, increasing the pain and risk. This is the root of the problem and this rises suicidal feelings and the risks of suicide.

We see in films the kind act of putting an animal in pain out of its misery and suicidal people feel like they are doing the same for themselves as well as a kind act to those they love in the way of removing the burden they feel they are. They don’t want their loved ones to see them in pain and have to experience that pain every day and feel that death would give them freedom from this. They know that their death would also cause pain, but they don’t see this as worse of a pain than to see a loved one dead inside and in pain whilst alive. It is excruciatingly painful and difficult for someone to end their life, and an indication of how bad that psycheache is. Nobody likes pain, think of what we do, when we have a toothache, we reach for medication to help alleviate the pain, when we are in severe psychological pain such as deep injuries and needing surgery we are given anaesthetic to take away the pain, imagine living with this pain with no anaesthetic day after day. For a suicidal person living can feel like being burned alive each day.

Not every suicidal person wants to end life, it’s not that they don’t want to live but they fear living or life more than death. For others they may feel trapped in limbo where they fear living and they feel dying just as equally. These individuals may find themselves experiencing suicidal ideation but not making plans. This is a torment in its own right. Suicide is trying to find a solution to a problem, it is the trauma response of flight mode. Attempts are ways to self soothe when one is emotionally dysregulated and overwhelmed by so much emotional and psychological pain within. One doesn’t need to suffer from a mental illness, even if mental illness is a high risk and many lose their lives to a mental illness far too many times, this is why we must have the support we need to help those in need but the support for mental health as always been scarce and the world has long not be trauma informed.

What also doesn’t help is that we live in a world that causes systematic trauma alone through oppression and exploitation such as racism, capitalism, misogyny…and one that doesn’t meet human needs. A world where emotions are frowned upon and vulnerability which is courage seen as weakness, victim blaming is engrained in our culture and all these things woven into the fabric of our society alone is enough to make any strong, healthy or mentally healthy person, emotionally bleed.

Not all people that are suicidal are necessarily depressed because many times what is pathologically labelled as a disease is in effect an emotional reaction and therefore rather a dis-ease (as Peter Levine states) and also if we look at the word depression it means to press down, push down and this is what we are asked to do with our feelings and emotions. Many times, what we feel is dismissed with phrases such as: “just think positive”, “It could be worse”, “things happen for a reason” …making one feel alone and misunderstood and their pain further silenced. We further create more distress to an already distressed individual through hospitalisation where they can be forced by police into an ambulance, sedated and treated like dangerous violent criminals. In past, mental illness treatments were barbaric and abusive to the point they would make you suicidal.

When our survival is threatened and pain overwhelming the real aim is to end the pain, it’s to find a solution. Suicide isn’t primarily in my view about self destruction although the act itself has this element, but rather it is a form of self protection. It’s a reaction to a threat so great, the threat of never being the same, the threat caused by overwhelming fear for our life or our reputation, the overwhelming of shame. It can be a different threat to different people as all of us are individuals with individual circumstances. I believe it’s the threat that leads to what distressed individuals come to see as the only solution. It is not intentional and rational, it is determined by various social and biological forces. Like us humans it is complex and needs to be given the attention it deserves and victims and survivors of suicide or attempted suicide(s), need to be given the dignity and justice they deserve.

If something so heavy is falling on us and it threatens to crush us, chances are without support we cannot free ourselves and the weight of something we cannot possible hold alone will come crashing and potentially kill us. Something has happened or happens that has metaphorically ended a person’s life before suicide ends it physically as in kills the body. Many times, we fail to see that the person who we have lost to the world, was trying to survive, wanted to survive and intended to survive and had been strong for so long and yet we fail to see this is the case in a lot of suicides. We just label them cowards just like soldiers in wars who developed PTSD and could no longer bring themselves to function or fight. We cannot judge anyone or ourselves even by the same standards when we are faced with a threat or when we are in great distress. When are needs are not met and we are starved and deprived of these needs or need to survive.

An example is, if we are safe and regulated and have security and resources and say we are thirsty, we will drink something that is drinkable, if we were in a desert for days and the threat of death by dehydration was looking us in the eye, in despair we would drink poison just to quench the thirst, this would lead to death but our intention was not death, it was to ease the discomfort, to find a solution even if it came with repercussions. Our choices, our behaviours, our actions, our thoughts, all change when faced with things.

So we can’t judge and compare, victims of suicide with someone who feels safe and in a calm state because of this. Another example is seen even in animals, scorpion suicide was long featured in Iberian folklore, but George Bryron’s 1813 poem: The Giaour, brought attention to it. When ringed with fire and faced with no means of escape, the scorpion was said to end the threat by thrusting its sting into its own back which would see it dying. A bee will sacrifice their life to string to protect itself from threat. Suicide is an act to protect self from the threat of overwhelming emotional and mental pain.

We can also consider the IFS (internal Family system) modality, which is an approach that doesn’t pathologise rather normalises aspects within ourselves and looks into them with a lens of compassion and curiosity not judgement. It is of the belief that our mind is made up of sub-personalities, this is why we can experience conflicting emotions, because there is more to us than just one part. We are made up of many parts. That is why many suicidal individuals may have a part of them that wants to live and a part of them that wants to die with the latter taking over.

IFS claims that these parts are divided into exiles (parts of us that are wounded, vulnerable, traumatised), protectors (these are pro-active and try to protect the exile parts from becoming wounded again and experiencing emotional flooding which overwhelms us), and finally the firefighters (these parts are reactive and try to end the pain, these are the parts that can have us feel suicidal or act on suicide). So what we see, is that suicide is an act of self protection, an attempt to protect self from pain and like a firefighter the goal is to put out the fire (pain), everything else isn’t important and will get destroyed, just like suicide ends the pain but destroys the body in order to do this which results in a life lost.

I have aimed to argue and present my argument that suicide has absolutely nothing to do with a character deficit and as Aphrodite Matsakis states when talking of trauma:

“At some point in your life you have probably cut your finger with a knife. If the blade was dull, you may have suffered only a little nick. If the blade was sharp, you may have bled all over. If the blade was very sharp and the force behind it was great enough, you might even have lost part of your finger. The extent of your injury depended more on the sharpness of the blade and the power behind it than on the toughness of your skin. Given enough force, even extremely tough skin would not protect you from the knife, and anyone else in the same situation would also be injured, even if they had the toughest skin in the world. The same holds true on a psychological level. There are events in life that would almost make anyone ‘bleed all over’.

What I mean by trauma is anything that affects our ability to function, what happens inside us. Even the things like losing a job, a breakup/divorce, the loss of security, loneliness…

In addition, we need to change our language around suicide. Don’t say: They committed suicide, they had a failed attempt, they are attention seeking. Alternatives and the truth are, they died by suicide, they were in psychological pain, they are asking for support and help. People don’t commit suicide, they are driven to suicide. Let’s end the stigma and stop hurting those that are already hurt and in pain by words, myths and ignorance.

Let’s get educated and spread the love! Let’s remember those that have made attempts and survived along with those who have lost a loved one and those that have lost their lives to psycheache.

Reference: Edwin. S. Shneidman, The Suicidal Mind (1996

Copywrite: Antonella Zottola

This article is copywrite protected and no content may be reproduced or used for any purpose without the permission of the author.

 

Why Christmas may be a dangerous time for victims of domestic violence

Christmas is a time that can intensify the loneliness that one may feel or has been battling with. Add to this that abusers use a tactic called isolation, which is a means to isolate the victim so that the victim becomes dependent on the abuser who is the only person they may have. The abuser tries to isolate the victim from friends and family so that these relationships can be lost, and the victim is left vulnerable and the power and control of the abuser tightens. If this support system is lost, the victim may feel more compelled to return to the abuser. Financial difficulties may also come into play. Christmas can highlight the shame of not having a loving relationship in one’s life, or company and someone to share the magic with.

Abusers are opportunists, and what better time to seize an opportunity than at Christmas when loneliness can be a killer and emotions may be overwhelming for those who feel alone, unloved, unwanted, abandoned and rejected, or who may have no family and friends? This is why abusers may try to, and many times do, entice a victim to return to them around this time. When an abuser returns it’s not because they wish to change, not because they miss the victim, not because they love the victim, not because they are interested in a romantic relationship, but because they want that power and control, and to prove they have this to the victim; to demonstrate that they can always be accepted back, that the victim needs them: “I have power over you”. They are missing having what they see as a privilege, using the victim as a supply, that they see the privilege to treat someone badly and see how the victim has traumatically bonded to them.

Abusers are masters of manipulation and know exactly what they do. It is very tempting for the victim to return, to soothe the pain of loneliness, to have to be in denial because the truth is scary. The pull of the chains of traumatic bonding is very powerful.

The no contact rule the victim has put in place can be hard to do, as the toxicity of an abusive relationship can feel like an addiction; you know it’s bad, dangerous even, but you need a fix to believe the reality is different, to numb the pain even temporarily; the addiction from the positive rewards the abuser uses and then again abuses. All these are tactics that are not separate but part of the game. Knowing that the victim will crave those “happier” days, moments and experiences, believing it means that there is a better side to the abuser, that this means they can be changed and that love will lead to this change. It’s a dangerous myth and lie sold to victims by the abuser who promises to change, by messages given by society, especially to females.

It can be so tempting to go back, but an abuser becomes more dangerous after a break-up and sometimes wishes to return to gain revenge upon what they see as an act of defiance from the victim. How dare they think they can leave? That they are better than me? How dare they demand respect or see through the games, deceit, lies and techniques? The victim must be taught a lesson so they don’t step out of place again. This can be what an abuser may be feeling and thinking, and highlights the danger of returning.

The more a victim stays or the more they return the tighter the grip, the harder it gets, the more dangerous it can become and the consequences can and have been fatal.

Please make sure that you have a strong support system in place around times that can make you more vulnerable. Please stay strong knowing you deserve so much more; please know that the pain of loneliness can be a killer but being with an abuser who is an empty human being can make you, in the end, feel more alone than you ever felt before. Please know that you are not alone. Please pour that energy and love unto yourself, give yourself the love that you feel you need to get from others. Please be safe, know that it’s not your fault for feeling the way you do, for feeling that temptation, know that someone understands but, if you can, please don’t return – one can’t find happiness in the same place that has destroyed them and made them unhappy.

We all want a happy ending but many times it can and has resulted in a tragic ending, and if an abuser ever were to change, the only person who can make this happen is themselves, because they and they alone choose to, but you cannot place yourself in danger waiting for this, and even then you deserve to be free from abuse and have your time and space to heal.

Merry Christmas to all victims who have gotten out, who may be trying to, who have and may feel compelled to return and all those that may be reminded of the trauma experienced around this time. You are not alone.

For more information on domestic violence and abuse, check out my eBook – Shattering the myths of abuse: Validating the pain; Changing the culture –https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shattering-Myths-Abuse-Validating-Changing-ebook/dp/B07PSCF9B5