domesticviolence

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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I remember one day I was sat in the lounge at home watching TV and the next thing I know I’m not able to move. I was paralysed with fear and shaking from head to toe. I had remembered a moment from the abuse I suffered. It wasn’t the first time I was haunted by these memories and it wouldn’t be the last. After each flashback to the past I would be exhausted and afraid to go out. I never knew what would trigger a memory until I started writing down when and how each event happened. I didn’t know that I was suffering PTSD until I did some research and recognised the symptoms.

This is the result for many women who have suffered domestic abuse. They get on with life and they work hard to get through each day. You wouldn’t know until you asked what was really going on for them. Once the abuse is over and the perpetrator is no longer in there lives most people assume they’ll be ok now. But this is not the end for them, they are still effected by the abuse and need help to deal with the memories and trauma of the abuse. Often they seem to be the women who are tough and hard but check with them and underneath you find that they are hurting and are haunted by the memories of abuse, words, physical actions and intrusive thoughts that are lies about who they are.

When survivors of domestic abuse experience the effects of it in there every day lives they need a space to be able to recognise it and process it. To talk about what has happened to them and what they feel now. They need compassion and respect and they need to know they’re not alone or weak. Each day calls for a mammoth amount of effort to get through it when you live with fear of memories of abuse assaulting you again and again. Facing these memories head on takes guts and an equally mammoth amount of courage.

In one of my fave TV shows West Wing the storyline starting with Josh being shot weaves in PTSD. It is real in the sense that this is often how PTSD sufferers feel.

JOSH You said you diagnosed me in five minutes. What was the diagnosis?

STANLEY You have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

JOSH Well, that doesn’t really sound like something they let you have if you work for the President. Can we have it be something else? Seriously, I-I think you might be wrong about that. I-I’m not tryin’ to be difficult.

STANLEY I don’t think you are.

JOSH I know that I-I’m givin’ you cocky answers, I that should be…

STANLEY Listen…

JOSH I know that you want me to talk about my feelings.

STANLEY No I don’t, Josh. The last thing I want you to do is talk about your feelings. I think if you heard a tape recording of this day, you wouldn’t hear the word ‘feelings.’ What we need to be able to get you to do is to remember the shooting without reliving it. And you have been reliving it.

For survivors of abuse the end goal would be able to remember what happened to them without reliving it and being fearful.

So what can you do if this is happening to you. First of all you need to know that you are not crazy or mad but very normal and a survivor. You have survived a traumatic relationship.

Secondly you need to get help from other people. You need support. You won’t always feel this way. But you do need help.

Thirdly be kind to yourself, look after yourself and look for ways to nurture yourself.

Find helpful ways to ground yourself. If it helps to carry a certain safe scent that enables you to stay in the now or reminds you that you are safe when you’ve had a flashback then do that. What helped me was lavender oil. Or it may be that holding a certain object reminds you that you are safe now. A hot water bottle or a blanket or a book. Music can help in this way too. Mindfulness can help. Find what helps you to feel safe and use that to ground yourself.

If you want to understand more about PTSD the links below will help.

Helpful links:

www.tag-uk.net

www.mind.org.uk

assisttraumacare.org.uk

 

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Can We Talk by Toby Butler

Men in the United Kingdom face many difficulties, but also many opportunities. Gone are the days where men are pigeon holed into acting a certain way, due to the diversity of belief and culture on our shores. For example, it has become more socially acceptable for Dads to be stay at home parents, particularly within the predominantly white middle class, gone are the days where single stereotypes fully dominate, for example you can be a poet and a huge football fan, and long gone are the days that a majority of men open up willingly to matters of the heart, if this were ever true.
What does exist clearly are big repeated messages, such as to be masculine is to have control and power in whatever context. I was made redundant recently, and it was hard for many reasons, but the primary one was that another person had control over what happened to me. I was helpless however good I was at the job. I had no power, no control, and that challenged my own perception of masculinity. I want to provide for my family. I want to say I am successful down the pub. I want to feel like I have power in a situation. These feelings are not bad in themselves, but learning to channel and nurture them well is essential. I know my temper well enough that I must speak how I feel or the steam train comes quick. Often that steam train will be directed at those who love me mosI have many different types of male friends. Some atheists, some fire-breathing Christians, some agnostics, some lower-middle class, some very wealthy and some very middle class. Whatever label one assigns to a friend, there have always been three defining factors when considering someone a close friend or not. Openness, vulnerability and honesty. I struggle to act out these factors sometimes, and I have certainly spent swathes of my existence hidden. For example, I have always struggled with the temptations of porn, with gossip and with not believing in myself. This is a side I am very good at shoving down the sofa, even though it manifests in different ways, such as running away from a challenge, lustful thoughts and speaking ill of others. I wrote the song called ‘Can We Talk’  for the Dwell Project, which is a phenomenal charity preventing domestic violence against women. (Watch this video to hear it.) 

 

 

As much as my instinct would be to give every woman a good-hearted terminator security guard, I sense that peace and transparency always wins, in every occasion, even if it comes with short-term costs. Our judicial system is set up in this way. If a murderer pleads guilty, then the charges are less. If the murderer shows signs of remorse, this is also taken into consideration. I write and ‘spit’ poetry intending to connect to the heart of an individual, and usually in the process get changed myself, as I want to be an example of a transparent heart. Here is a lyric from the single:

We know its pride when men don’t talk 

We tell the world we feel cheese when we‘re just chalk 

Inner voice speaks to us plus we trust thoughts 

Suicide rates through the roof chimney falls off

Men must talk.
When we speak out how we feel, it breaks an inner chain of cold steel silence. The darkness wants us hidden, whereas freedom calls for us to speak out! Silence always loses; a voice always triumphs, even in the shadows. Talking to each other gives a window for us to redeem ourselves through our honesty. Here are a few more lyrics from the track:

Company will define you 

Intimacy/ into me see/ come on shine through

You once desired truth/but now you hire suits

Pouring gasoline on your dreams like they fire proof

The company we keep can easily define us, and there is no worse company than only ourselves. Men are made to be connected to reality, we are designed from our core outwards to be alive to others and we were created for much more than staring at screens and smacking other beings. There is such healing in telling others what is going on in our hearts. Truth will set you free. My wife knows me better than anyone, and she knows my struggles left, right and centre, but the incredible thing is, when she sees me prevail over my inner pain she can see the work of victorious light shining through me. This in turn gives her permission to do the same, and vice versa. Final piece of lyric:

The saddest thing for me is watching all your art go 

Part you, part fake, part half fast show

But I ain’t laughing at your silence as we pass bro

It’s good for men to talk so we can both pen our chart growth

It deeply saddens me that domestic violence is so prevalent in our society. I intend to never abuse or physically hurt my wife, but I know that one of the key ways this will never happen is if I allow male friends into my life. Legends are made from vulnerable men. This doesn’t mean we have to cry and cuddle, but it means I must not lie, and I must be open to what is going on in myself and share vulnerably. Fear is silencing, whereas truth is deafening. It’s time to speak to someone, as they may need to speak to someone too. Play your part in preventing domestic violence, by killing it in yourself. In an age of endless cyber connection, lets make sure our hearts are eternally connected to another, and the fruit will not be Apple’s growth, but Adam’s nourishment and flourishing.
Bless you all
Toby
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Words that Change your World

I love to read & I love words. I love that words can convey powerfully our love for each other. I love that words can express our inner deepest thoughts just by using a few of them. I love that words in a card or letter can encourage & inspire & change a person’s day. I love words therefore I love to read.

I have hated words & I have loved them. I hope I have made them right - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Sometimes our words are not loving, not made right, but they are just as powerful in a negative way. They can destroy a person in their inner being, in their soul. When words are used in this way they are abusive & the person using them becomes a perpetrator of abuse. The person on the receiving end of these words can be rejected, brought down, begins to doubt themselves & their own worth. Words repeated again & again have more & more power to destroy the person they were aimed at to the point that the person dies inside. Because the results of words are not physical or visual we can underestimate the power of our negative destructive words.

The words I am speaking to you are spirit & life – Jesus (Jn 6:63b)

 

 

The good news is words can also bring life. My husband often says: “I love you”, “You are funny” & “You bring joy into my life”. These words are life giving to me. These are powerful words he says that I receive into my soul & they lift me up & give me life in the sense that I’m energized & encouraged & empowered by these words to be me. What are the words that give you life? What are the words you say to people around you that give you life? What about the destructive words are there people who say these to you often?

You choose death or life in your words. 

 

What can I do to Help? 

1) Share our #NametheAbuse videos on Youtube

2) Contact us to book a Dwell workshop

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Frocktober 2014: You can help prevent domestic violence!!!

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What is Frocktober?

Last year we ran a campaign called Frocktober on Facebook with the aim to raise awareness about domestic violence everyday throughout October with a selfie and the truth about domestic violence. Many of you were responsive to it & said you learned more about the truth of domestic violence. So we’re doing it again and we want to involve Christian and Muslim women. Each day of October 2014 we will post a different picture of a Christian or Muslim woman who wants to speak out about domestic violence with information about the myths & how to prevent it happening to you, your sisters & friends & colleagues. And where to go for help.

Why Frocktober?

Frocktober is not just about the dress, it’s about empowering women. Empowering each other to speak out about domestic violence. A devastating experience that 1 in 3 of us will experience in our lives.An experience that ends in death for at least 2 women a week! It’s about saying we will no longer be silent about the violence against women we hear about, we see and experience in our homes and communities.
When women all say together we stand against domestic violence, women of different ages, ethnic groups and faiths then we are stronger. Each one of us counts and together we are stronger. We are stronger because our voice is louder than the voice of one. The power of the group empowers the ones and twos.
The world today is full of violence, division, and separation but the holy grail of female empowerment is the idea that when women support each other, we’ll all become stronger and more liberated to make our way in the world.
Join us, share your voice and speak with us louder and stronger against domestic violence.

How to join the campaign?

Start by following these simple steps:
Step 1: Click & print this document all women
Step 2: Take a selfie whilst holding the piece of paper
Step 3: Email it to thedwellproject@gmail.com
Step 4: Like our Facebook page & follow us on Twitter to follow the campaign
NB: The pictures you send to us will be posted on facebook and twitter throughout October and be printed out as part of an exhibition which we will be running around the UK.
For more information get in touch with The Dwell Project at thedwellproject@gmail.com

 

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Today is World Voice Day: How are you using yours?

Do we know the power we hold in our voices? 

Many women speak out, use their voices powerfully for the causes they believe in. They speak of injustice done by those in authority and by those in power. Like Malala Yousafzai (who was shot by the Taliban for speaking about girls education)  those who speak out often do so at risk of their own lives, their own safety, their own peace of mind, sometimes sacrificing themselves, sometimes sacrificing relationships with family, for the sake of the cause.Going to a talk recently at the Women of the world festival entitled “Refusing to be silenced” made me more determined to speak about the injustice of domestic violence & its destruction of lives. It made me want to stand with the women I heard there, women like Reem Rashad & Mariam Suleiman, who speak so bravely about violence and injustice against women in Syria & Darfur. And it made me more determined to look to Jesus and ask the question what would he say to the church about violence against women in our homes? When I read about Jesus in the gospels I wonder why are we Christ followers not leading the stand, the protests, the marches against gender injustice? Why are we not speaking out, louder & stronger?
It’s certainly not that Jesus is silent on this subject! We just need to read the Magnificat, the beautiful words that say how much God believed in A YOUNG GIRL! We just need to look again at the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus’ concern for his mother when he was dying on the cross, the women at the tomb after the resurrection & we learn Jesus’ views of women & his faith in them.
How can we stay silent on gender injustice if we are the followers of Jesus? How can we ignore the injustices done against women & girls in our country, in our communities, in our work places & homes & stay silent! Women imprisoned because they came to the UK for refuge, women discriminated against in leadership at work & church, girls sexually harassed in schools, women abused & even killed in there homes!
How can we stay silent!
Do we know the power we hold in our voices!
We can make such a difference, lets begin to speak out! Shout out! Pray out!
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What I’ve Learnt Praying about Domestic Violence

Dec 16 2013
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I pray for domestic violence to end. I pray for homes that are loving and safe for all women and for relationships between men and women that are loving and healthy where power is shared and control is only of your self and your own behaviour. I pray for emotional and physical healing for those of us who have suffered violence at the hands of men closest to us. I pray that we might be able to lift our heads and know love again. And as I pray I am forced to think, challenged to change, made to consider and realise my inadequacy.
When I pray I hope I’m in touch with what God feels about women who suffer domestic violence. His love for us and the anger and grief over what has been done to us. It gives me a heart of love for sufferers and survivors of domestic violence. It forces me to face the pain of domestic violence and makes me aware of my own feelings of extreme sadness and indignant anger at the lives shattered, relationships destroyed and the many deaths as a result of domestic violence. I have to face my feelings and I give them to God because otherwise they would drive me to despair.
I am also challenged about my attitudes and thoughts about men, generally. When I think of friends who have suffered violence at the hands of men who know them I am tempted to tarnish all men with the same brush but praying challenges me about that attitude. I am reminded that Jesus was a man who was not violent towards women in fact the opposite he was loving towards all the women he met. I need to remember the good men in my life who are supportive and loving towards me. And I ask myself the question do I encourage them to be better men?
In prayer as I look towards God, I come face to face with my own imperfections, my own character and my own behaviour towards others. Am I loving or do I hurt those around me?
Prayer forces me to consider the one person I want to avoid focusing on, the perpetrator. It forced me to consider him as a human being as a person made in God’s image. I have to consider him and his behaviour and face its evil and again give my feelings to God or be bitter, angry and depressed by these thoughts. Do I believe prayer will change the minds, hearts and behaviours of perpetrators? I think if God can’t then who can?
I start to question where is God when a husband, father, brother, partner decides to be violent towards a woman in the place that should be safe, where is God and why doesn’t he stop it? Why doesn’t he grab the man by the scruff of his neck and throw him out of the situation?

Prayer for me is honest communication with an awesome God

Its is not an excuse to do nothing but says we have a part to play. Brings God into a situation that seems impossible. Crying out to God changes me and gives me hope. And helps me to believe its possible to end domestic violence because I believe in heaven. I believe in heaven as a place with no pain, no violence and no broken relationships and I believe that heaven can come to earth through those of us who are lights, those of us who reflect God in our attempts to love and to end domestic violence here on earth. Prayer is bringing things to God that I don’t understand and says I can’t prevent domestic violence on my own without him. It says I need God to come and breakthrough in a situation that seems so evil that the light of goodness feels threatened. It says help God we need you!!! Prayer changes me and challenges me and through me changes the situation of domestic violence.
During this season of Advent I am reminded of heaven coming to earth through Jesus who for me is the bringer of light and hope to earth. I am thankful for Jesus and I am thankful that he has and can bring peace and love to homes where there has been fear and violence. We need His light, we need His peace, we need His love in every home!!!                                                                                                                         O Lord, come!!!
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