This post discusses domestic abuse and suicidal thoughts. It might be triggering for some readers.
During a moment of vulnerability, I found myself reaching out to a helpline for women who were trying to remove themselves from domestic abuse and violence.
It wasn’t until I was told by the receiver that, “this sounds more like a relationship problem with you then abuse” that I realised the services in Australia designed to give women the strength, support and advice to remove themselves from oppressing relationships can often be just as suppressing as the situation you fled from.
My story is like thousands of others who have suffered domestic violence, but my story of navigating through the aftermath has just begun, and although there are many stories and experiences shared about the trauma of being in an abusive relationship, my focus has turned towards the systematic trauma women go through after leaving.
As a woman leaving an abusive relationship, let me tell you, without the visible bruises it’s a shameful experience trying to explain to services that you have suffered abuse.
I often found that during these moments, many services and individuals were unsure whether my experience could be labelled as abusive or violent.
Granted, I had others who sympathised, but that was quickly followed by procedures and pathways that left my situation not deemed “high risk” enough and left me with dead ends and barriers.
While I tried to build a protective force field with those who could actually do something, I had my ex and his family breathing down my neck, trying to drag me back.
I desperately reached out to service after service, but the more I spoke, the less I was being heard.
I felt the strength in my voice wane; I felt my resolve cracking; I felt myself sink deeper and deeper into myself.
I began to make plans to take my own life, stupidly thinking that would validate my pain to others who then might actually listen.
But I wasn’t anyone important, not enough to be heard, I was just another unsatisfied house wife complaining, right?
That's how I was made to feel.
It was my baby girl who saved me. Looking up at me with her big eyes, I saw the unconditional love; I knew I was the only one she could find safety with.
I had taken her away from a situation that was unsafe, I could never let her suffer that insecurity again, especially caused by me.
I took my baby's hand, and I kissed her palm. If people wouldn't listen to me now, the least I could do was try to make sure those of her generation would be.
I recalled an article I had read while studying psychology. It was about coercive control and how it is a form of domestic abuse.