When I left my relationship due to domestic violence, I went straight to a shelter I had two bags of clothes, one bags of toys, $33 and more debt than I care to mention. It was daunting, scary and I truly believed I did not have what it takes to rebuild my life. I would need all the resilience I had.

I was abused my whole life

I had spent my whole life living with abuse. I was worn down, I was broken. But what I didn’t realise was the very thing that made it possible for me to stay in an abusive relationship would be the same skill I needed to change the trajectory of my life.

It took six times to leave for good

I left my ex five times before I finally made it stick. Each time I learned something, like forget the things that don’t matter make sure you have your legal documents and if possible the things of sentimental value. Although the day I left I couldn’t find my jewellery some of it family heirlooms others gifts from my eighteenth and twenty-first birthdays. Which broke my heart.

Luckily my nan had saying I heard all through my childhood ‘If things become more important then people it is a sorry state of affairs’ So I let it go and held on to the memories.

Promises on top of promises

Every time I went back there were promises of a new start, apologies, and assurances it would never ever happen again. But the truth is the opposite was true, each time I returned it lowered the bar and he would treat me even worse than before.

I needed all the strength I could muster

It took enormous strength and resilience to survive in that relationship, I needed my wits about me all the time. I wonder how I would have coped day to day without that resilience. Maybe I would have left sooner – I will never know.

I needed to rebuild my life

What I do know is the resilience I had learned would be needed every day for years after I left. This strength inside of me that had helped me tolerate the most despicable behaviour could now be used to heal and rebuild my life from the ground up.

I had to teach myself self-worth and self-care I had neither. I believed the horrible things I had been told. I had no idea just how low I had become. I was a shell of a person.

Respect their strength and resilience

If someone discloses they were in an abusive relationship think about what it took for them to survive and recognise the compliment, for the trust they are placing in you. If they tell you they are still in an abusive relationship, don’t simply feel sorry for them, they are reaching out for help.

They have the strength and resilience inside to cope. But they need help and support. Dealing with a violent relationship is scary and dangerous.

Do you know how to support someone in an abusive relationship?

 

Lisa McAdams

About Lisa: Lisa is a survivor of domestic violence who shares her story openly; along with knowledge and understanding of abuse and her experience from her time in corporate to help companies develop an organisational culture of empathy and understanding.

She helps by bringing insights on this complex and emotional subject, ensuring managers understand the issue, the signs and how to communicate with those impacted by domestic violence.

Lisa is passionate about educating workplaces so they can ensure women in abusive relationships remain in the workplace. Because employment improves outcomes and can ultimately save lives.

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