How do you know when it’s emotional abuse?

Is being ‘bullied‘ by your partner ok? Being coerced, intimidated ,belittled, criticised ok?

Well despite being unhealthy and disrespectful it’s a slippery slope towards that blurred line. Everyone has their own beliefs of what is and isn’t abuse. Better still it’s I think it’s more important to discuss and investigate why we women think so little
of ourselves to put up with being disrespected ,bullied or indeed abuse of any kind from a partner.

I asked my therapist how did I get here?
From a seemingly “normal” start to my relationship; getting to know one another, dating and falling in love, I would never consciously be with someone who abuses me?

Do these abusers seek out a certain ‘type’ for their victims ?
I have had other relationships with men and although they ended one way or another, I don’t consider them all to be failures as such , some are friends today and I am certain none of them ever treated me like this.

Is it me? Have I changed ? What did I do wrong?
For whatever reason , it’s not your fault that you found yourself in an abusive relationship, lets make that very clear, there is no room for blame or shame. I know that BLAME and SHAME are two of the biggest emotions we women wrangle with while in these abusive relationships and for a long time after we leave. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It takes a lot of work on yourself; I had to dig deep and ask hard questions and self reflect on my choices and own up to myself.

I can shed some light on this after years of therapy ; I once mentioned the term “red flags“ in a blog and only I can answer when I made the first allowance or excuse for bad behaviour in my relationship. The first time he crossed my boundary ,value or belief and I made allowances and ignored my gut telling me that something is wrong here ’oh it’s a slip up or it’s not so bad when he does everything else I like’ or better still he promised not to do it again and I gave him a second chance. And when it happens again there is a different excuse or a bigger more elaborate explanation and more believing promise that distracts me from that same gut feeling I override. So I just taught him that I didn’t believe I was worth being treated with respect, and he learned that I would let him walk all over me if he was super charming afterwards.

Red flags are now a term our children have heard of and taught about at school, they are discussed in every relationship course, and one of the first steps in re- wiring your belief system regarding self-worth after being in an abusive relationship. I think it’s imperative that this is addressed in recovering from and preventing a pattern of negative beliefs and unfortunately returning to or repeating abusive relationships.

Mmmm I often wonder now if I only I hadn’t let it slide that very first time where I would be, I guess probably not suffering from being emotionally abused, don’t you just love hindsight.

What I have I learnt?
#5 Self-worth is key. I have learnt to believe I am worthy and deserving of respect. So when i recall him saying” get that crap off your face , you look like a clown” I turn it on it’s head. I was criticised and ridiculed if I ever wore makeup, but most especially lipstick. Not once was I given a compliment while wearing it from him. (I was barely given a compliment anytime but that’s another story). All I wanted for him to see me, how much I wanted him to like the look of me, after all he looked at all the other girls wearing makeup and never said a bad word about them. Actually he always looked at the other girls; talked to them, joked with them ,gave them compliments and was utterly charming , everyone said how lucky I was to be his wife. But then other men noticed me, tried talking to me, having a joke with me , and that didn’t go down so well. It was the make-ups fault, it gave men the wrong idea if I wore it, so I wasn’t to wear it anymore. So back to today, today is a different story.

I wear make up most days . Why? Just because I can. Hell yes, I wear lipstick most days, and it ranges from plain gloss to fiery red. Yes, I can put up with the feeling of slime on my face for a little longer now, i’ve even learned how to eat and drink without smudging it from one side of my face to another. But most of all make-up stands for another win i’ve had since I left, a little reminder that everyday. I make my own choice and believe I am worthy and deserving of respect.

That I no longer follow what someone tells me to do in the hope of making them happy,in the hope he’ll notice me, in the hope he’ll like the way I look, in the hope that he will love me.

I love me. And I even love make-up. Today I’m wearing Coral Glow.

We are here to help guide you YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

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What is “Finding Me”?

The “Finding Me” support group is a facilitated recovery based program. Our upcoming program will be running for 12 weeks. “Finding Me” aims to support women to recover from domestic violence by providing a safe, non-judgmental and inclusive environment where women can access information, support and connection.

What does “Free to be Me” aim to achieve?

  • A therapeutic environment in which survivors of domestic and family violence work through a 12 week program led by supportive facilitators.
  • Mutual support and respect amongst the group.
  • An awareness and knowledge of women’s basic rights.
  • Self-education that provides knowledge to reduce the risk of engaging in future toxic relationships.
  • A safe and supportive space that encourages participants to share their personal experiences.
  • A sense of connection to others who have had similar domestic/family experiences.
  • An opportunity to have existing beliefs about relationships challenged and reframed.
  • Increase in self-esteem, self-determination and empowerment of participants.

To find out more about our Recovery programs, email us at recovery.wfsi@gmail.com.

You can also phone us 0468 445 820.