Why clothing became my armour, in which I battled the world
I love the feeling I get when I put on my best dress. I feel special. I feel confident. I smile.
Wearing bright colours, bold prints and rocking red hair, say a lot about the person I am today. I am happy and confident.
I wasn’t always like that. I used to wear black a lot.
The realization of how we dress is hugely effected by how we are feeling.
Ultimately my expression through clothes, helped me survive in that funny thing we call life.
Once upon a time, life wasn’t so kind and the people in it weren’t either.
I am a survivor of Domestic Abuse. This experience was life changing.
For anyone that has survived, I honestly can’t commend you enough.
It takes every bit of strength in your body, not only to leave, but also to survive the repercussions afterwards.
The situation is not for the faint hearted.
People talk about big life events this is one of mine.
When you are a survivor the world and his wife has an opinion.
‘You don’t look like someone that has been abused’
‘It must have been your fault”
‘What did you do?’
Yep, I’ve heard it all
Victim blaming exists in this world. Hopefully with raising awareness, this will change.
Domestic Abuse is about control. Not only can there be physical violence, there is also emotional abuse. This can be in the form of manipulation, financial control and child control. Multiple tactics are used to control a victim. I know them all so well. Like an unspoken language, they are seen, but only by people that know they are there. When you choose not to be controlled anymore, the abuser will try to control how others see you.
Powerful isn’t it?
There is no on switch as to when it starts in a relationship. Life events, stress can all be contributing factors. In my eyes it’s never acceptable.
Your life becomes like a whirlpool that slowly draws you in. Little by little you get pulled, so slowly, initially almost unnoticeable. Before you know it, you are in so deep you can’t pull yourself out.
Mentally you battle yourself as it hurts to stay, but it hurts to leave.
Trauma bonded to someone you think will change.
They or it never does. That is not love, its fear.
The smear campaign is very real. If anyone has been on the end of one it’s cruel. People dislike you; they think you are to blame. It is not their fault; they simply don’t realize the truth.
Holding your head high when you’ve experienced it is no easy task.
You grieve for a life, which you now realise was a lie.
You have to learn to think for yourself, its like learning to walk again.
You lose many material things, however you gain so much in the end.
Freedom being one of them
Help is always there
When I finally made the decision to leave, I had the amazing support of Caron and The DASH Charity (Domestic Abuse Stops Here)
I describe them as like having a best friend, with the best advice and guidance to help you through. My experience was not unusual for them to see.
It’s like an abuser uses a standard set of rules to control their victim.
There is a lady called Pat Craven, who has studied and writes about this.
Her books are empowering and enlightening.
What did I do?
Life carries on, despite how you are feeling you still have responsibilities.
People had ‘Miss Red’ me for long enough and it was my time for this not to define me anymore
I didn’t shout back, what was the point? Many lies had already been told.
Opinions had already been formed.
Reality is, I actually wanted to scream from the rooftops. It was a frustrating experience at times.
Instead I put on my best dress, my best smile and went about my daily routine.
I walked taller than before, smiled harder. Wearing my best dress as my armour of protection, ready to walk into the battlefield of life.
It was the most empowering thing to do.
I smiled at everything I feared, the situation and the circumstance
I have done this everyday since.
My time to give back
I am now an ambassador for The DASH Charity.
I have created a slogan tee, ‘Love is Respect’ in honor of this wonderful organization. All sales profit will be given to them, to help other people that are going through a similar experience.
They rely heavily on donations, fingers crossed I can help them with that.
There is always hope.
We always have a choice no matter how painful or scary a situation is
No one has the right to abuse you or control you, no one ever!
Always be kind, you never know what is going on behind closed doors.
As a survivor I couldn’t always see the wood through the trees, as with all life experiences I am forever grateful for the people that helped me see.
Now in a happy, healthy relationship, I realize love doesn’t hurt.
Blog written as a special thanks to Caron and The DASH Charity
DASH stands for Domestic Abuse Stops Here.
We support anyone across East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire who is suffering from any kind of abuse from partners, ex partners or family members.
Did you know that:
· 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime
· 2 women every week die in the UK at the hands of a partner or ex
· 750,000 children experience domestic abuse each year
· You are most likely to experience domestic abuse between the age of 16-24 years old
Dash offers confidential, professional advice and practical help at any stage of abuse - whether people are at the point of crisis, experiencing ongoing abuse or needing help to rebuild their life afterwards.
It takes a lot of courage to pick up the phone and call our helpline, but we are there to offer reassurance and advice when people need it most. We provide sanctuary for women and children who need a safe house as a means of escape. We help clients access safety measures as well as a range of support and help around issues such as child contact, court, homelessness and complex issues such as Forced Marriage, Honour Based Abuse and Stalking. We work with partner agencies and advocate on behalf of victims to ensure their rights are protected and their voice is heard.
DASH is working closely with schools to break the cycle of abuse and promote healthy beliefs and attitudes amongst children. We also provide training and awareness workshops to local businesses and community groups to raise awareness and improve the response to disclosures of abuse.
Our dedicated, caring team specialise in supporting victims and enable them to become survivors. We are a small charity passionate about making a difference to those who desperately need our help, but we can’t do it without you!
Only approx. 15% of our work is funded and each year we need to raise a whopping£500,000 just to sustain our current services. Please help us by donating – every £ raised goes directly to supporting families within our local community. We hope you never need to call us, but please help us be there for those that do.