Tag Archive | situation

Tips to completely transform yourself

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Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. Lyndon B. Johnson

Over the years I have become a walking Madonna. I’m a chameleon. I’ve been fat, I’ve been skinny, I’ve been pretty, I’ve been ugly, I’ve been blonde, I’ve been brunette, I’ve been kind, I’ve been mean… I’ve been through about a hundred transformations – but at least three of them have been really noticeable to myself and others. This photo on the left is how it looks – yup, that’s all me! As you may have noticed, I kind of held onto the girl-next-door look over the past few years. So this week, Happiness Weekly looks at how YOU can transform yourself.

1. Set the bar

I don’t advise this often, but look at all your wonderful awesome friends around you and consider what it is about each of them that you love. Imagine life has become PhotoShop and what you can do is copy pieces from each person and put them back onto you. Make a strong mental note about what you like about them. Even go onto your Facebook and have a look at who you admire and work out what it is that you admire about them – how do they portray themselves? (Take a look at their Facebook page if you’re not sure.) What do they have in their life that you don’t? More importantly, what don’t they have in their life that you do? Who do they have in their life? How are they treated? How do they treat people?

2. Set the goal

Fantastic! Now we know what we want, we need to set the goal. Just with any goal-setting, look at yourself in the mirror and decide what you want to change about yourself. Do some deep soul searching – is it just an attitude adjustment? Are you unhappy with your hair? Do you have chipped nails? Do you want to lose weight – how much weight? Work out exactly what you want to change. In one positive sentence, state exactly what you want. Write it down. You can make a collage around your goal statement to remind you what you’re aiming for.

  1. Prepare to change

It’s important to emotionally prepare yourself for what’s to come because change isn’t easy – and it can be frustrating! For example, you won’t lose weight overnight like the Hollywood stars, unless you have their kind of money. Change can be a slow process – and when you’re angling for a full transformation you need to keep your eye on the prize and be realistic. Now you have set the bar and you’ve set your ultimate goal, start looking at the steps you’re going to take to achieve your goal for a full transformation.

  1. Transform yourself!

Now put everything into action. While you’re setting the goals (which is the hard part), also set some rewards (manicures, fake tan, new phone etc) that will be given when you achieve your milestones. As you achieve your goal, you will notice you physically and emotionally upgrade as well, because you start surrounding yourself with nicer things and better things than you currently have. It’s important to change your behaviour as well as aiming to change your physical appearance – this will help to maintain your change.

  1. Keep yourself accountable

A complete transformation is easy to give up on, but if you work hard to keep yourself accountable to the transformation, you’ll notice you also stay motivated and on track. Ways to keep yourself accountable may be to do a before and after photo – or select the photo that best represents everything you want to change at the moment (this is why those Facebook tags are so great) and use that as your before photo. This photo should also be used to remind you what you want to change when you feel you are going off track.

  1. Get coaching

If you get stuck, I highly recommend life coaching to help you achieve your transformation. A coach will work with you to work out what you want and help you find ways to achieve it. I am currently offering one pro bono coaching session valued at AUD$110, in exchange for you to provide a testimonial after the session. Claim this by contact me: sarah@relationshipfree.com – it will be held over Skype and we’ll arrange a time via email. Be quick – I only have one to give away!

I’m celebrating!

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The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall. Vince Lombardi

Today I’m celebrating! (And it’s not just because it’s Google’s birthday – although, wishing you a very happy birthday today, Google – you have been a fantastic source of information and a great friend to me!)

So … how’s your year going?

Are you still on track with your new years resolutions?

OK, so you probably forgot them by New Years Day … let me guess, too much alcohol? Great excuse!

Anyone who knows me knows my level of self-motivation and determination and this year I’m achieving everything I set out to achieve. I’m checking each and every one of my New Years Resolutions … it’s been one hell of a busy year, let me tell you!

As of this week Happiness Weekly has reached 100,000 people! I don’t advertise, I just blog and every now and then check in with a Facebook page. So I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who is reading Happiness Weekly, or has read Happiness Weekly, and particularly to those of you who stumbled across my page and stayed or the ones who return time and time again without signing up just to see what I’m saying. After almost two years of consistent blogging, this is a fantastic achievement and I couldn’t have done it without YOU! The truth is in the statistics!

Thank you for joining my journey, for accepting me exactly as I am and allowing me to speak my truth. I’m dedicated to Happiness Weekly in a way that you would don’t see – I’m either writing for a blog or I’m thinking what to write next, and it’s one of the best aspects of my life. Happiness Weekly allows me to take every situation that comes at me and turn it into that positive and then enables those sunshine light rays to bounce off me onto the universe and directly onto each of you who are following.

A couple of weeks ago, I did two surveys for Relationship Free, my new venture, as part of a major research assignment. This week I’m opening a survey for you – my dedicated Happiness Weekly readers and followers as I try to get this community a little more active and involved and it’ll help me to deliver more of what you want … and need!

The survey is available here – thank you to everyone who participates: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TR8TKN6

How to transform yourself into a leader

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Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. John Maxwell

Leadership – it’s the quality everyone wants and a lot of the wrong people think they have. One of the keys to leadership is leading by example and moving in the clear, concise direction you want to go. These two characteristics, leading and moving, can also categorise the difference between a good leader and a bad leader. Not everyone has leadership skills, which is why there are hundreds of courses you can do to develop these skills, or you can just read this post and get started on your own – the good news is: leadership is something you can develop. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how YOU can transform yourself into a leader.

Be passionate

Be passionate about whatever area you’re trying to lead in. If you’re passionate, you will naturally want to know more about it, and in knowing more about it you’ll become an expert, and as you become an expert people will look up to you, as people look up to you they’ll come to you for guidance and before you know it, you’ll find yourself in a leadership position! Leadership can almost be a natural progression stemming from passion – which is why it is almost essential to be passionate in the area you are leading.

Be confident

Confidence in the area you’re leading in is essential. One of the most important leadership qualities you can have is confidence in your decisions, confidence in your knowledge of the topic and confident in the areas you need to grow and develop so you can actively seek that growth for yourself to strengthen your leadership abilities.

Direction

Choosing the right direction or the best direction that leads to the most positive outcomes is also important for a leader because it builds trust among the people who are following you. If a leader is unsure about the direction or demonstrates uncertainty by regularly changing the direction they want to go, it loses trust and rapport among peers. A leader should seek clarification and research the pros and cons of every direction before a decision is made so they can move in any chosen direction with confidence and clarity.

Delegation

A leader must be able to know how and when to delegate. If a leader is constantly doing all the work, they will become overloaded and won’t be able to achieve tasks. Overloaded and overwhelmed, the leader won’t have time to see ahead of their own activities in order to lead people anywhere. Delegation is a critical quality in leadership.

Communication

It is important that leaders communicate transparently where they can. If people feel a leader is hiding something or not telling the full truth, it breaks rapport and the followers won’t continue to contribute to the best of their ability. Clear concise communication with all followers is a fantastic asset for any good leader to have.

Inspire

Be the change you seek and set an example as you motivate your followers. Inspiration can come from witnessing the miracle. Be passionate in the area you’re leading and demonstrate reasons why others should be passionate about it too. Openly share your knowledge and encourage others to grow in your field as well.

Dress well

A good leader always dresses well. The way you look impacts the way you do your work, the way other people relate to you and the way you are viewed as a leader. Top leaders often wear “power suits” that show their authority. You rarely see a leader of a country wondering down the supermarket in a tracksuit for milk. Dress your best and look the part!

Following these tips, you will be well on your way to being a leader. Want more? Enrol yourself in a leadership course through your local community centre or university and go forth with confidence!

My petition: How I’m going to try to save lives

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Every week at least one woman dies at the hands of domestic violence. Talking to a police officer recently, that statistic isn’t complete because more men die at the hands of women in domestic violence situations. At first I couldn’t believe it and then I thought more on it, and I do believe it –these women may have been defending themselves or so traumatised by the violence they encountered that it lead them to it – and it’s classified as domestic violence no matter what the situation is, because of that partnership. Not to say that women can’t be the abuser as well – this just puts perspective on the statistics.

As it stands, our Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (AVO) laws DO NOT include contact clauses unless the magistrate decides it’s necessary – so I’m talking about the laws, regulations and even procedures. What I’m saying is when you receive an AVO, you don’t have to stay a certain distance away from the person, and you can communicate with each other, as long as you don’t harass, assault, stalk, molest the person. So what I want to know is – with these very real cycles called “abuse cycles” – WHY would our systems would leave such a gaping hole to allow for this to continue WHILE an AVO is in place?? Does that sound like protection to you?

My story, Owning it – why I’m not ashamed that I was served with an AVO, may bring a greater understanding about my passion for the topic and why I’m so determined to change these laws. Because they’re not protecting anyone!

Last week I received a response to my plea for help in changing this from my MP and the Attorney General, at first I was comfortable with it – and I was going to let it drop: accept it, get on with life. But these articles were released:

Kate Malonyay murdered by compulsive liar ex-boyfriend Elliott Coulson NSW Coroner finds

The make-believe world of Elliott Coulson which says: “She had spoken to police about taking out an AVO against him after he sent her abusive text messages. She didn’t go through with it”.

These articles PISSED ME OFF! “Redressing the power balance” by seeking an AVO. And what happens in the case that they (police and authorities) get it wrong – does that redress anything? Should it be an eye for an eye? Does it matter who has power and who doesn’t, so long as both people are SAFE?? Well – as they can keep communicating with each other, right? Thank God for that! The fact Kate didn’t go through with getting an AVO wasn’t careless. Let me tell you what that’s like: You go in to get the AVO and the first thing they tell you is you need to stand up in court and give evidence. Imagine how intimidating that sounds when you’re recently out of your relationship, you’re scared shitless for your wellbeing if you go ahead with something like that, you know with their level of lies and manipulation – how this could come back on you AND you’re riddled with self doubt: “OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad”. You just want it to go away. Seeing them again – in court or out of court – doesn’t sound very appealing.

PLUS! At the end of the day what protection is this little piece of paper – when you can still communicate? It doesn’t even attempt to stop the abuse cycle! So what is its purpose?

And then there was this: Call to end domestic violence against women and children: Beyond Blue mental health approach will be the blueprint for national campaign – which is great because our domestic violence laws do need to be applicable and consistent AT LEAST nationally, if not globally!

The fact is: the only way for an AVO to serve as a form of protection or intervention is to have compulsory NO CONTACT CLAUSES for BOTH parties, and penalties if they are not adhered to. And that goes for the “victim” and the “accused”. Why would our system would encourage two people, who have identified themselves as being in a domestic violent partnership, to still communicate while a 6-month to 2-year AVO is in place?

And then I keep seeing more and more articles of people dying at the hands of domestic violence and I’m angry – because like everyone else: I want to know why! Why are our systems giving any space to allow for this to happen?

I’m not saying I have all the answers, because as soon as the AVO lifts, then it’s possible for the communication to begin again. Time heals all wounds and forgiveness comes into play… But the distance created by this kind of AVO, may be a start, because after the minimum time of six months, both people will be in a better position to make better decisions. Counselling should also be mandatory for both parties as well.

Married? Communicate through lawyers and get a divorce. Children? Communicate through friends or family members. There are ways to get around it so these two people DON’T communicate and the abuse cycle STOPS. Completely! These laws have potential to be intervention, but as they currently stand, they’re anything but.

Children are being murdered nearly as often as the targets of the abuse – because abusers have no hesitation in using these children as tools to further harass, intimidate, threaten and abuse their target. Why would you put them in the firing line, or enable for this to happen? Where people are terrified their partner will hurt their children as a way of getting back at them, they need to check the box that says “SUPERVISED VISITS ONLY” – until that child is 18 and old enough to seek their own help and defend themselves.

Make it stricter, make it apply to both parties, and make it easier to obtain.

QUIT MAKING EXCUSES!

An AVO with essential contact clauses for both parties mean:

- Only people who SERIOUSLY need this protection would be willing to sign off on it

- It would deter narcissists using it to abuse (because they won’t want to lose their source of supply) and a smear campaign won’t be possible

- Police won’t have the headache of dealing with the same people and the same cases over and over, because legally, the victims can’t go back while it’s in place, and if they do, then there is some level of punishment for breaking it because it’s for their protection that the do NOT continue the abuse cycle

- Less people will die because they won’t be contacting their abuser or anyone around them because they legally can’t, it removes the temptation to further provoke

- Our legal system saves time on serving one person and then serving the other, because it’s already covering BOTH people. It’s protecting BOTH people. As it should!

It means that they can’t contact each other directly or indirectly (unless through lawyers or nominated and mutually-agreed parties – such as family where children are involved). By indirectly I mean: they can’t contact anyone surrounding that person (eliminating mutual friends or temptation to get in touch with their family or friends) or have anyone surrounding them (such as their family or friends) contact the other person. I hope that makes sense. So either way, they can’t contact each other. It stops the abuse cycle completely.

If these laws were in place, would Kate Malonyay have been murdered? Keep it in mind as you read this article: Kate Malonyay murdered by Elliot Coulson after uncovering web of lies: coroner. And it’s not her fault that she was seeking the truth and closure. Hopefully education and a change in laws may prevent this happening.

The article says:

“The coroner said it appeared Coulson became aware in early April 2013 that Ms Malonyay was “making inquiries about him and talking about his lies with his family”.

On April 3, 2013, she reportedly sent a text message to Mr Coulson’s sister that read “Elliott might be suss we’ve been in contact and treading carefully”.

If Kate knew legally she couldn’t have done that, if the opportunity for gaining closure was shut down before it got to this, would she still be alive?

An AVO, with these essential clauses for BOTH parties and this check box for children having supervised visits should be available NATIONALLY.

NOW we’re talking about an intervention!

It’s time our system hardens up and makes some changes – start taking this seriously and stop it from happening!

What do you think? Are you going to join my fight?

Sign the petition – change the AVO laws: CHANGE.ORG Campaign

Why I absolutely loved Eat Pray Love

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Every man dies, but not every man really lives. Braveheart

So many people have begged me to watch this movie – Eat Pray Love – starring Julia Roberts, and I never seemed to get around to it. Now I’ve seen it, I’m not sure what took me so long. I guess I thought it’d be one of those movies you’d see on a rainy day – maybe I was scared it would change me – maybe I was worried I’d find it boring… But of course I can’t tell you how many terrible movies I’ve seen in the 1,480 days since its release date.

One day, while in the midst of despair, it was raining outside. I was falling apart in my apartment. I’d pushed everyone away who was checking in on me – I turned my phone off. I was crying uncontrollably from the worst hurt I’ve ever experienced. By this stage I was ready to give up – I wanted to quit my job, I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I wanted to move away – who knows where to, and I wanted to be alone. I shut down my social media accounts and stopped looking at my email. I couldn’t find any inner strength to keep going.

So, I turned to my computer. I wanted to switch off, even if I just sat there and did nothing. I scrolled down a list of movies I hadn’t seen and there it was. Eat Pray Love.

In a tracksuit, having not left my apartment in days, I sat on the couch, numbed in my pain, curled in the foetal position. I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate – but I had no appetite. I felt like a shell, like there was nothing left. I was all out of hope and I was definitely all out of happiness. In fact, as I sat there and watched in my morbid trance-like state, I felt as though I was watching myself. As it got to the scene where Liz was explaining leaving a toxic relationship and the stages you go through, I started to sit up and listen. I identified so strongly with the character, that within the first hour of watching, I was convinced I should buy a ticket to Italy and Bali and take off.

Just like Liz, every day since I was 13 years old, I have either been in a relationship with someone or ending one. It’s been a constant treadmill. Now I’m off that treadmill and I’m trying to find peace and just like Richard said to Liz, it’s up to me to do the work to achieve that.

This is the greatest healing movie I have ever come across. Although I sobbed helplessly intermittently throughout it and my concentration often took me away, walking to the kitchen, walking to my bedroom, walking to the bathroom … even sitting crying in another room but still listening – the messages it brought to me were so powerful. So here I am sharing it with you – through my experience of it.

First … if you have no appetite, it’s almost impossible to watch this movie and not feel hungry. Though I didn’t rush out to buy a margherita pizza – it did encourage me nibble at bits and pieces. The only reason I was scared to regain the weight I lost from stress was that I didn’t want it to restore me to the person I was – having said that, I couldn’t help but have a giggle when they discussed the “muffin top” – Liz was right – just go out and buy some new jeans.

There were many quotes in this movie that truly hit home for me but two of them were – “That’s what you do, not what you are” and “I don’t need to love you in order to prove that I love myself!”

So here I am – at 31 years old, I’m single. Completely single.

Not exactly where I was hoping to be in life at this age – but it is what it is. I would rather be happy and single than with someone and miserable. While I wouldn’t call myself happy right now – particularly given the above descriptions, I am at least on a journey towards it and it’s no comparison to the misery I felt in the abusive relationship.

I’ve been single for exactly 150 days today. My last relationship robbed me of everything I was and it took all my courage, against some truly ridiculous threats, to get out. And now? Just like Liz, I’m on a journey to find myself again.

As soon as I got out of that relationship I regretted ever knowing that person – a natural reaction after everything I’d been through? And while I don’t want to acknowledge him in any kind of positive light – and I don’t believe in soul mates – I identified with this:

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”

Overall, Eat Pray Love inspired me to embrace my freedom. Why aren’t I on a jet plane right now?

The quotes littered throughout this movie are just beautiful, but this quote really stood out for me because it symbolised how I’m feeling inside and what may come:

“A friend took me to the most amazing place the other day. It’s called the Augusteum. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came they trashed it a long with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome’s first true great emperor. How could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would be in ruins? It’s one of the quietest, loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won’t let go of because it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked at around to this place, at the chaos it has endured – the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic, it’s just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”

Liz is right: “Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation”. As soon as it was spoken, it was like my inner light flicked on again. I could almost say with certainty this movie and the entire story actually stopped me from giving up.

The story itself is so raw, so true.

Watching this movie has been so significant in my healing journey and the universe delivered it in perfect time. I always think of watching a movie as a present to myself, because I’m usually so busy between work and study that I just don’t have time to stop. I was craving for: “Dolce far niente – the sweetness of doing nothing.”

And towards the end of the movie we are left with another insightful quote:
“If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting and set out on a truth seeking journey either internally or externally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared most of all to face and forgive some of the most difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.”

As I mentioned, I am currently studying and there are lots of changes ahead – including for Happiness Weekly. If you recognise any of the changes and feel my passion for Happiness Weekly is slipping – Liz said it best: “I am not checking out. I need to change.”

This is all part of my journey.

You can check out more great movie quotes about life here.

I need your help! Please?

10450603_779759202068888_5640128791927399981_nHey guys,

I know the whole purpose of Happiness Weekly is you guys come here to get help, but this week I was kind of hoping you may be able to assist me?

OK so here’s the thing…

As you know I’m trying to finish off my studies, with the goal in mind of having five positive certificates achieved by New Years Eve, and one of those is an entire new career direction and part of opening Relationship Free.

I have created a survey to form evidence for my Major Research Assessment. And I now just need as many people as I can to participate with their thoughts about relationships. I’m trying to establish if a life coach would be beneficial for someone suffering a relationship-related trauma or issue.

The survey is available here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Y8B7W3V

And it closes on Friday, 26 September at 5pm (Sydney, Australia time). Please share it with your Facebook friends and family etc. The more people who participate, the more people I will be able to assist ultimately.

It’ll take about two minutes of your time.

BIG thank you in advance to everyone who helps me. Love makes the world go around! xx

Lessons from adversity, lessons from my recovery

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Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity. Hippocrates

Sometimes even the flight of an angel hits turbulence. Terri Guillemets

This year I have very openly and very slowly worked to recover from the breakdown of my relationship with who I thought was my dream man … who not only intentionally hurt me, but trapped me with domestic violence and persistent threats. He then went on to continue to torture me slowly as he carried out ever threat.

The damage that person caused to me emotionally and mentally caused such inner annihilation and destruction, I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same. After I used the last of my strength to get me away from that relationship, and parted with thousands of dollars to keep me out of harm’s way, there was literally nothing that wasn’t wiped out inside. It felt like a bushfire had gone through and torched every living cell within me. The pain was indescribable.

“When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold, because they believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful,” Barbara Bloom.

I recently learned about Kintsugi – the Japanese art of broken pottery, where they fill cracks to make the shattered ceramic more beautiful … and possibly more valuable. And there’s a lesson in Post-Traumatic Growth with that, I have made the decision to become more valuable to people as a result of my experience.

When you love someone and you trust them, and it doesn’t work out, it’s heartbreaking – but to become consciously aware that the same person you love unconditionally is deliberately hurting you and getting off on the power, it’s the hardest thing to comprehend. My situation was particularly painful as I had to come to terms with the fact that I was never loved, I was just a pawn in a narcissist’s game. So, after receiving plenty of feedback that people are enjoying reading the lessons I get from my experiences (which is what Happiness Weekly is all about – taking something positive from times of adversity), today I want to share what I have learned as I ventured into the greatest adventure of my entire life – my healing journey:

If you think you can’t – you more than likely can and at some point the universe will prove it to you

You are emotionally stronger than you think at any one time, and smarter than you know

There are positives in everything that feels negative and in every negative or disappointing experience we endure – sometimes you just need to look harder to find it

Every event is just an event until we add perception to it – it’s up to us to decide if it is positive or negative

Nothing – NOTHING – in the world matters more than what you think of yourself and what happens to you. No one cares about your story as much as you do and no one will care about what happens to you, as much as you will

Don’t let someone control how you feel about yourself – whatever you don’t like, you have the power to change

Until you forgive, you can’t move forward – start by forgiving yourself

Release the guilt – you didn’t allow it to happen

Let go of the shame – you don’t need it and it’s never helpful

It’s up to you if you let people continue to hurt you or not

Laugh! If you laugh at a situation, your recovery has begun. If you can’t laugh at it, find someone who will. If they can shift your perspective, this person is an angel – make sure you tell them.

Don’t let a situation hold you back – as soon as you take a step forward, you have started your healing journey.

Try it! Even if you’re scared – try it – it won’t be as bad as you expect

Don’t let fear trap you – keep doing things until you have overcome your fear. Don’t allow fear to develop into a phobia. Don’t be ashamed to seek help

Don’t regret anything – you’ll have good days and bad, but have faith that your pain will eventually bring you strength

Force yourself to go out – even if you don’t feel like it, go – even just for a little while – it’ll get easier

Fact: Psychopaths, Narcissists and Sociopaths exist, even if you’re like me and you don’t want to believe it – and they look human – accept it and learn how you can protect yourself from them moving forward

Choose to be around positive people. If the conversation gets too serious or your stop enjoying the company, drop it and/or leave

Be selfish – no one felt what you felt, no one experienced what you experienced, do what you need to do in order to step forward

Share your joys with others – even the little joys. As you recover you will be more mindful and appreciative of smaller blessings, share whatever you find

New beginnings really do disguise themselves as painful endings – hang in there

This Buddhist chant brought me a lot of strength: “The lotus is a flower that grows in the mud. The thicker and deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms”

Abusive people isolate their victims – nothing keeps you stronger than friends and family – treasure them always, reconnect as soon as you can

There are no positives to sleeping away a sunny afternoon, get out and enjoy it!

Strangers sometimes have a greater impact on you than your friends, be open to their kindness

Once the traumatic event has happened to us – it is done – you can’t undo it – don’t go over it

If people judge you – shrug it off, they don’t know any better

Everything happens for a reason – think where you would be if whatever traumatic event you went through didn’t happen to you. Could it have protected you from something much worse?

If you’re trying to take down someone’s reputation, be prepared to draw attention to your own. I can promise you, people won’t just look at the person you’re assassinating but they’ll also look directly at you

Normal people don’t go around intentionally hurting others. Pain caused by others means you’re still alive – use that to fuel you – and going forward, surround yourself with normal people

Use trauma to change the world so it doesn’t happen to others – write to politicians, raise the voice of what happened, get qualified to help others if you’re passionate about letting it shape you

You’re never too old, too smart, too educated, too rich, too anything, to learn. Always be open to learning and your challenges will turn to opportunities. Turn your painful lessons into pathways for growth and your life will continue to evolve even through adversity

Our intuition shows us all the red flags we need, if we choose to ignore it, it’s up to us to take responsibility for any consequences that follow

NEVER look back – unless you’re looking to see how far you’ve come

Revel in the bliss of ignorance. When we go through something traumatic, we often look over our shoulders this only opens us to more pain – shut down your curiosity unless it’s moving you forward

Education is the best way to true self-empowerment. Don’t put up with what happened to you, learn about it, understand it and empower yourself so you’re equipped to move forward

Always, always, always do the right thing by yourself – you’re the one who has to live with whatever happens next

Some people want you to be miserable and they will go out of their way to achieve this. These people are miserable. You will only be miserable if you let them in and allow them to disturb your inner peace

If someone abuses you, cut them out – if they find a way to seep back in, cut them out again

Moving forward is challenging but it’s a lot more rewarding than stepping back. Stepping back only repeats old patterns, particularly where a narcissist is involved – never surrender to being a source of supply more than twice or you’ll be prisoner for life

Give yourself time. Be patient. It took two and a half months for me to start seeing and appreciating these lessons. Before then: darkness. There’s no time limit on your healing journey and recovery – it won’t be immediate and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it

Fairy tales aren’t real. The knight in shining armour doesn’t exist – don’t wait – muster up your courage and be your own hero: save yourself

Ignore judgements – narcissists can’t pretend events happened for long periods of time – but a victim will suffer genuine trauma. It’s clear when someone is genuinely suffering

Find a buddy who has been through a similar experience. Share the lessons you have learned and support each other when one is feeling they’ve reached their wits end

Let go – be prepared to lose everything because it is only then you can fully move forward

Alternative and natural therapies can sometimes heal you better and faster than modern traditional therapies – be open to them, even if your doctors aren’t

If someone is truly a victim, they won’t need to tell the story – you’ll see it

Smear campaigns are spread by abuser’s minions – don’t take offence, just think of them as those little yellow cartoon characters from Despicable Me and at the end of the day they’re manipulated victims just as you may have been

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within,” Maya Angelou – keep your light shining

You can and will survive. If you made it out alive – be grateful for your life and your freedom, embrace it

Embrace work – a job gets you up in the morning and adds purpose to your day. Don’t quit!

When you feel bad – and you will feel bad as you recover – look at the areas in life you’re excelling at despite what you’re going through, concentrate on what you’ve achieved and where you’re heading

Life’s Plan B can be even better than how Plan A was ever going to turn out

No matter how much you try, some people don’t want to be helped. That’s their choice.

Don’t think negatively towards someone. No matter how much they hurt you, don’t wish anyone bad fate. If you’re not feeling bad enough from being hurt, you’re only going to feel worse by having negative, spiteful and malicious thoughts about someone. Don’t give your abuser any more power or satisfaction – always wish them well even if it’s just to set yourself free

Nothing is coincidence when someone is abusing you – they’ll make it look that way, but they intend on every fine detail

Love the people surrounding you. If they love you back, don’t take them for granted. If you do and you lose them, that’s your loss. Learn from your mistakes

SAY IT STRAIGHT! If you don’t agree with something, say it. If someone’s wasting your time, tell them. Life’s too short for bullshit

Don’t wait for anyone. If you get feelings for someone and they don’t feel the same way about you, but suggest “maybe later” – keep looking forward to the “what’s next” because it’s not them

If your instinct says no: the answer is always NO! Trust your inner voice

Remember your values. They’ll flick up in your mind when someone does something that you don’t agree with. These flashes are easy to ignore. Don’t deny the things you truly want because you’re trying to please someone. Instead, find someone who shares your values

When you feel shut off from the world, the real angels will appear in your life. Hold on to faith. I have established multiple friendships in the past six months that are stronger than friendships I’ve held onto for several decades

Be who you want to be!

Nothing screams Carpe Diem or YOLO (You Only Live Once) as loudly as a healing journey. Embrace it! Learn from it. Use it. Do everything you want to do. Be whatever you want to be

If someone makes you happy – happier than you feel when you’re alone – figure out what it is about that person that makes you feel that way. Now try to figure out how you can replicate it to make yourself feel that way. Once you’ve replicated that feeling, date them again – if you’re still into them, they’re probably good for you. This is a lesson in a healing journey: DO NOT depend on people for your happiness because you will be disappointed

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, sometimes we just learn to cope – and that’s ok too

Self-trust is the most important trust you can have

Self-forgiveness is the hardest thing to do – avoid putting yourself in a situation where you need to exercise it

And all I have left to say is this… WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER!

 

I’d now like to invite you to share with me – it doesn’t have to be big – what lessons have you learned while recovering from a traumatic event?

Owning it! Why I’m not ashamed that I was served with an AVO

RelationshipFree_Sarah

Recently I was forced to take a break from Happiness Weekly, and I decided to write a post about what has been happening…

But first – I need to break my silence:

2/3 of women served with an AVO are the victim of domestic violence in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, according to Women’s Legal Services in NSW. And of the cases that go before the court, 40% still have the AVO in place against them, even though they were actually the victim of ongoing abuse. Of this figure, no one can tell me how many women are too scared to show up to court and how many are just too exhausted to continue the fight so “consent without admissions”.

Last year, I was one of those women. My abuser had me served with an AVO on his behalf. For six weeks after the court hearing, I felt completely alone and ashamed. But when this statistic was released along with an accompanying research paper, it changed my perspective and brought me relief – because it prove it’s not just something that happens to me.

For most people that statistic that 2/3 of women served with an AVO are actually the victim of domestic violence would be pretty disturbing. But when I first came across it, I felt comfort and relief. That statistic kept me going for the six months that I had an AVO against me. For those who don’t know, I’m talking about an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (AVO) which is also known as a restraining order.

Many know it as “harassment through the legal system” – somewhat ironic when I was served on the grounds of harassment – but it happens all over the world, mostly in divorce scenarios (rather than AVOs) – but I guess this is how it happens for people who are otherwise in no way tied to our abusers. If I had the right support available, and if more people had spoken about being served before it, then maybe it wouldn’t have happened … but it did. So I have boldly decided to own it and use it.

In being served with the AVO I was given a 360⁰ view of domestic violence. I could see the frustrations with our systems (and trust me, I felt them!), I understood why victims feel forced into silence and I also learned how the current AVO system enables further torment which leads to further abuse, homicides and suicides.

I also uncovered some myths attached to the stigma of the order – for example, I didn’t have to stay a certain distance away, because my conditions didn’t include contact clauses. So as long as I didn’t stalk, harass, assault, molest etc. my abuser, then it was ok. The thing was – I hadn’t done those things in the first place, but careless police work allowed for this to happen. The fact is, my abuser already had his story, he just needed me to play into it. The reason for that is – to a narcissist – life is a game. So this is a prime example of how the court system is now being used for harassment.

Today I’m talking about my beliefs as the victim, which are common with other victims in domestic violence situations. I’m exposing the gaps between these beliefs and what actually happens as a result. And I’m giving you the reality that I saw in the lessons I took away.

Today I’m talking about domestic violence, getting an AVO, becoming caught up in a world that wasn’t mine – and what I’m doing about it.

 

“He’s not like this all the time” – the shame game

Belief: Like so many women in domestic violence situations – I didn’t seek assistance until it was really out of control. In fact, instead of seeking intervention early, I was too busy trying to help “save” him from his misery. I was doing everything in my power to make him happy.

The gap: Let’s face it – I stuck around until I was served with an AVO, then I magically found my courage to leave my abusive partner. That courage was always in me, I just had a lot of excuses, blame and denial for not leaving that over-shadowed the reason to leave: to save myself!

The process of trying to make him happy was soul-destroying – it left me feeling anxious, ashamed, humiliated and hurt. But still I stayed with him – to the point that I didn’t want to leave.

For the average person, there should be a lot of shame in being served with an AVO – not many people would admit it or want to talk about it – so I’m going to talk about the shame associated with domestic violence. While I wouldn’t say receiving an AVO is something I’m particularly proud of, it’s something I now embrace because there are much bigger issues that need to be exposed.

Shame is the number one feeling victims of domestic violence suffer from that keeps them hidden and silenced. And although I was being abused in my relationship last year – I didn’t ask for help, because for most of the time, I didn’t know I was being abused. So I want to give you some insight into the shame I felt as I looked back at the abuse and thought:

“I didn’t know I was being abused as he continued to shamelessly cheat on me with his wife” – but I did know how I felt when I’d confront him in distress and he would shrug, ‘Yeah? So?’ – it was always ‘just’ me over-reacting and it was always my problem. Shame.

“I didn’t know I was being abused while he held me in place and spat in my face” – but I did know only moments later in my apartment, I was already shrugging it off ‘we’ve shared more bodily fluid than that before… it’s ok,’ I told myself to calm myself down from the shock and disgust. Shame.

“I didn’t know I was being abused while he grabbed me and stopped me getting out of his car” – but I did know I felt enough fear that I became so desperate at that time, that I jumped out while it was still moving just to get away from him. Only for him to run back to me like a super-hero, apologising profusely to me only moments later, and me falling straight back into his arms. Shame.

“I didn’t know I was being abused as I lay awake at night feeling violated following degrading sex on the living room floor” – but I did know his erectile dysfunction problem gave him license to dominate where, when and how we had sex – every single time… Shame.

“I didn’t know I was being abused when he held me up against the wall by my neck and threatened to hit me” – because all I could concentrate on at the time was how thankful I was that he regained his self-control and resisted. Shame.

“I didn’t know I was being abused as he walked past my parents and I, with a wheelie bag, at the same time I was leaving to fly interstate to my friend’s wedding” – but I did know we had broken up and he was demonstrating that he was carrying out his threats to follow me. When I got to the airport I was so anxious and so scared that I broke down at the check in – I waited to be last to get on the plane to ensure he didn’t get on. Shame.

“I didn’t know I was being abused as I stood before his car sobbing helplessly and he threatened to drive over me before edging into me several times” – but I did know, the man I once knew, would’ve leapt out of that car and said ‘Sair, I have to go but I’ll be back in an hour or two and we can talk about it then, ok? I love you.’ He would’ve kissed me on the forehead and given me a hug. It was impossible to accept the man who once adored me so much, was now threatening to kill me. Shame.

My abuser’s final words to me were: “I will say and do whatever it takes to take you down”.

I can’t even begin to explain how it makes you feel when the person you have loved unconditionally, who you did everything for exactly as they asked you to, literally stands before you and threatens to destroy you.

And what’s worse? I didn’t know I was being abused as he coerced me into participating in illegal activities, on his behalf, after his wife had allegedly threatened him at knife point – but I did know, as he reminded me, that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to him and I could’ve prevented it – at least I thought I knew. Shame.

What I did by doing as he asked was prevented myself from going to police earlier, because he had all the “evidence” he needed to demonstrate I was the one with the problem. It trapped me.

THIS IS ABUSE! THIS IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!

Reality: Yup, shame on me for not seeing it! Or at least not seeing it earlier.

Initially I felt a lot of shame – which was exactly what my abuser wanted.

But who does that help? What is positive about feeling ashamed?

Shame only holds you back.

The reason I decided to talk about it is this: to expose my abuser, as tempting as that is, I help one or two other people maybe – if they happen to see this post. But to expose the abuse I suffered as loudly as I possibly can – I could help hundreds, thousands and even hundreds of thousands – maybe even millions – of people who are in domestic violence situations and don’t know it or aren’t currently seeking the help they need.

And my message for them is this: drop the shame and be your own hero – do what it takes to save yourself, recognise what’s going on and quit the game – because there is life beyond.

 

“He never used to be like this – he loved me” – the power of denial and cognitive dissonance

Belief: The denial and cognitive dissonance that people experience while in a domestic violence situation isn’t something someone outside it can comprehend – and it’s not up for judgement. Abusers go to extreme efforts to groom their targets for what is to come. It’s the effort that abusive people put into the grooming phase that inevitably makes them feel entitled to their targets and they become possessions to them. It’s the grooming phase that set me apart from my abuser. I didn’t go extra miles to groom him, it was very clearly the other way around. All the while, the target is completely unaware. Men are meant to charm the pant off women at the beginning of a new relationship, right? And it’s exciting!

Gap: The problem is when abuse sets in, it’s what the victim thinks to first, they remember “how it used to be” and this drives them to want to stay with their abuser, believing that they’re really different, when in fact – this is the reality, and the grooming was fake.

Abusers crawl into your skin, to the point that you actually feel like the same person – it’s like mirrors in a funhouse – you actually can’t see where they end and you begin. Meanwhile your soul is being sucked out of you. This makes it impossible for an empathetic person to be cruel to their abuser, at least not to the extent that the abuser has been cruel to their target.

Let me tell you how it was. In the beginning it was a love I’d never experienced. Our arguments were sickly-sweet: who would take the bin out and who should have the last bite of dinner – we were always looking out for each other. It was picture perfect – random people would stop us to get a photographs of us, trying to capture what we had. He showered me in gifts, paid attention to me in ways no one else had, read my blog start to finish, wrote loving whiteboard messages to me every day, in times of hardship, he was there for me, he drove my 11 hours in his luxury car to have job training, he always had time for me and he’d always listen. He would tell people how amazing I was – in front of me. He made me feel special. I was beaming all the time – and we were completely inseparable. It was too good to be true.

In the end, my abuser got off on three things: intimidating me, seeing me humiliated and his consistent personal challenge of always winning me back – no matter how bad it got. I know he got off on these three things because he would constantly and deliberately set up these scenarios which lead to these outcomes, it was manipulation and control to make them happen, and he demonstrated it over and over. It wasn’t long until it became a pattern. And it’s important to recognise that in order for this to become a pattern – I had to be there.

My abuser was overly nice to me almost as quickly as he become aggressive, which made the abuse easy to forgive and even easier to forget. Sometimes I was in so much shock I even questioned myself that it had actually happened. When someone abuses you and then they just brush it off like nothing happened, it makes it almost impossible to process and invites cognitive dissonance – because it causes self-doubt.

In the end, it wasn’t Jekyll and Hyde at all, it was like more two consistent opposite personalities always in existence with each other in the one body. He was both kind and evil – all the time.

So when I said earlier that I wasn’t aware of my abuse, you may have thought it wasn’t that bad – or I could possibly have low intelligence, or a disability – but the abuse I suffered covered the entire spectrum of Domestic Violence. It was abusive emotionally, mentally, sexually, physically, spiritually, academically and financially. And the reason for that was that I didn’t know the first thing about abuse or domestic violence – because this doesn’t happen to people I know – that wasn’t my world. And it definitely doesn’t happen to me!

Reality: When you’re being abused, it sounds strange, but it’s almost impossible to see. And it took four solid months away from my abuser before I realised how bad it was and I was sure I wouldn’t return. It was only then that I could see how brain-washed I was and how my words, reasons and excuses were actually his. But there’s a lesson in my situation – everyone thinks domestic violence is physical abuse (including police a lot of the time), but just because you’re not being beaten senseless doesn’t mean you’re not being abused by someone you love – and just because the police won’t act, doesn’t mean it wasn’t that bad or that you should doubt yourself and stay.

Did you know abusers test their abuse before they action it? All year my abuser was testing what he could do to force me into such distress I needed time away from work to recover. That time away had me lying in bed watching day fade into night – I couldn’t even watch the television there was so much fuzz in my head.

He knew exactly what he had to do to get that sense of power and almost entitlement over me. It’s all about control, but it doesn’t look that way when you’re in it. So I would answer his caring text messages and open the door for him at the end of the day and I would listen to him say: “I knew you’d take the day off, I’m sorry I upset you”. This is called “Trauma Bonding” – a tool commonly used by narcissists. Every reaction I had, was playing straight into it – until he knew exactly how to manipulate me into doing precisely what he wanted. This is what caused him to be so familiar with affecting my work, and made him feel that he could ultimately control my future. So the only person I have to blame for him having this overwhelming power and control over me – is me – because I gave him that power, like so many other victims do, and I had no idea that all I needed to do was quit the game.

The reason my abuser had such power over me and was able to abuse me the way he did – was because I enabled it. I let him in, I listened to his elaborate excuses, I took his calls, I read his text messages, I accepted his hand written notes, I accepted every excuse – every story – every lie.

I responded to everything – and I even defended him.

The fact is, I was almost as bad as him for exposing myself to his ongoing abuse time and time again. And it wasn’t worth it – forgiving myself for enabling the abuse and sticking around was almost impossible. It’s something I consciously worked on to become healthy again.

Although my abuser’s behaviour was deliberately subtle and manipulative and when I did see I was being abused I went straight into denial. An abuser will behave in a subtle manner, so their target won’t have any conscious awareness of what they are doing and their abuse can continue. Therefore, their target won’t seek help, they won’t leave and they won’t try to take action against them. This means their cycle of destruction can continue.

By the end of the relationship, my self-esteem was so badly destroyed from ongoing abuse that I had little regard for my life whatsoever. The bizarre thing was, until I was removed from my abuser, I wouldn’t have said that I was scared of him. I knew I walked on egg-shells, but I was so sure we could resolve it. I thought he was just feeling pressure from his pending divorce. That’s what I told myself – and that once it was done, he’d be back to how he was in the beginning. Just like many in domestic violence situations, I told myself a lot of stories that made me stay.

The scariest part of all? Although I spoke to friends about what was happening – reporting any of these events to police, didn’t even cross my mind. And I kept my abuse from family because I was convinced it would change and I didn’t want to change their opinions of him. Every story I told, every excuse, every reason – it all originated from my abuser.

Looking back, it was a silent torture and while it initially left me traumatised and waking up in the night screaming, living in constant fear – it’s what motivates me today. All I keep thinking is somewhere, out there, there’s someone, just like me – having the same experience, trapped in their relationship – and this is my one shot to open their eyes.

 

“He’s lying and I need to know the truth” – seeking closure enables abuse

Belief: People in domestic violence situations will suffer through the ongoing lies and manipulation produced by their abuser because at the time they can’t see the forest between the trees, and they crave the truth. While people point blame at victims of domestic violence, say it’s their decision to stay, they’ll just go back, they’ll work it out again etc. Look at all the people surrounding them and judging them. People in domestic violence situations need intervention – not because they’re weak and helpless – but because their abusers have taken all their control. What they don’t realise is it doesn’t always take police to intervene to become safe. It’s your life, you’re the main character, and what have you done to be your own hero?

By the end of the relationship, I thought I needed closure. I couldn’t accept the man I thought I knew didn’t exist. I’m not alone. In fact, majority of domestic violence victims unintentionally enable their abuse as they stick around just to be sure they are acting on the truth. They have such low self esteem from the abuse that they don’t trust their own judgement. Without realising it, while sticking around in the abuse with self-promises – “if he does it again, I’m leaving for good this time!” – they lose all faith in themselves. Then in the end, as people who are being abused stay for answers – “once I know the truth, I’ll leave!” – their self esteem and self trust continues to erode. And it gets to the point that when the truth keeps presenting itself, and what seems so obvious to the outside world, is impossible for the person in the situation to see, because they continue to doubt themselves.

Gap: Before long, as I started seeking closure, the relationship became like heroin – logically I knew it could kill me, but I couldn’t give up on the fantasy of who I thought he was.

Chasing closure in itself becomes an addiction. People who are being abused in domestic violence situations often believe that once they know the truth, that that it will be over and that is what they need to leave and move on with their life. This is also more reason abusers will be manipulative and deceptive and may even ramp it up, knowing this is what their target wants to enhance the abuse. Meanwhile it’s the abused person’s own self-talk, denial and cognitive dissonance at the time these revelations appear to them that is the greatest problem. And despite the abuse, I continued to enable my abuser to hurt me by chasing that closure – and I got served with an AVO in the process. Even though at the time I was served, I had left the relationship and was already seeing other people and trying to move on.

While I don’t expect you to read this without judgement and scepticism (because I know I would), and even though this isn’t about my story but about my lessons and how I plan to use them, let’s do some very basic profiling to establish the facts:

Me, I’m 30, single, no children. My parents are still together – happily married. I grew up with a silver spoon in the wealthier suburbs of Sydney – a picture-perfect kind of childhood. I left my serious boyfriend for my abuser, and it was my abuser who convinced me to move to a studio apartment on my own for more independence (isolation). He moved in with me almost immediately. I paid for everything. I worked for a charity. I spent my spare time blogging for Happiness Weekly to help others through adversity and on weekends I’d visit my parents, catch up with friends and spend my time with my pets.

My abuser, 45 years old, two teenagers and a wife (he’s been abusing for many, many years). He had a hard upbringing. His father was an alcoholic who abused him. Both his father and his grandfather spent time in jail for abuse. Following his father’s jail time, his parents had a bitter divorce which resulted in him ceasing communication with his mother for more than ten years. My abuser claimed he was “separated”. Eventually he moved to his own apartment, one level up. (Note: 80% of stalkers are men). He worked for a public transport company. He spent his spare time boxing and training obsessively to run faster, often boasting about his strength.

Reality: According to statistics, 73% of male abusers were abused as children.

So while domestic violence wasn’t my world – I knowingly dated into it.

It turns out my abuser was a narcissist – which explains the grandiosity in his threat that he could simply take an AVO out against me on a whim – no empathy and no conscience. It also means he never loved me, which actually brought me relief – because it made it easier to accept everything was fake. So aside from the inconvenience of losing his “source of supply” (or target), none of this would have affected him at all.

When I suggested to the police that they do a basic profiling before serving an AVO they laughed at me: “It’s just an AVO – it’s not that serious”. It scares me how desensitised police who issue these AVOs have become, because how will they keep people safe if they actually don’t care? The reality of the system at the moment is that it’s a process line – it’s just about checking boxes and then NEXT!

 

“The police will save me” – the belief that stops you proactively helping yourself

Belief: Like so many people in domestic violence situations, I relied heavily on the fact that police would protect me – no matter what. I believed the police would help me because I was the woman, and if you saw me standing next to my abuser, you too would raise an eyebrow. And without realising it, I somehow believed that as soon as he would turn violent they would almost magically appear for me. I never envisaged me being the person that would call for help – I was always relying on the fact a neighbour would hear me scream or cry or all the banging around and they would report it.

Gap: My abuser and I lived in an apartment block with paper-thin walls – you could hear everything. Well, just like many other domestic violence cases, the police never came to my rescue – and the neighbours never stepped in, probably initially because they didn’t want to get involved. When they heard it night after night, it probably became the norm to them.

No one really wants to intervene in domestic violence. What many don’t understand is that while people are abusive in domestic violence situations, they are abusing targets w ho they have groomed and they know they have control over them because they’ve tested it. But much of the time to the outside world these abusers want to appear in control and often manipulate the situation to appear to be their target’s victim. Exhibit A.

One morning my abuser was yelling at me, hurling abuse, at 3am as he stood over his breakfast I’d prepared for him because the proportion size was “too much” and I had given him one less vitamin than he wanted. I stood there with a photo of his breakfast that he’d poured a previous morning “It’s the same!” I tried to tell him, comparing the portion sizes. His yelling would’ve woken Kuwait and still no one came. No one just knocked on the door to let me know they were there. But maybe that was lucky, because the way my abuser manipulated, I can assure you if you did come, he would have had you upset at me over the Crunchy Nut cornflakes as well! Did I leave? No, because I honestly believed it was my fault and by the end, he had me all but counting the tiny flecks of Crunchy Nut cereal in his bowl each morning. So not only did I not leave, but I altered the way I did things to try to adjust the outcome.

When my abuser began to overtly threaten my wellbeing – which means it had to get pretty bad for me to grow that conscious awareness of it – I went to the police to seek advice. By this stage I had been abused for a solid year and I was starting to realise it. When I didn’t want to make a statement to get an AVO against him on the spot they said there was nothing they could do – but they promised to leave a 24-hour window so I could think about it. In the meantime they called him as I had asked them to, to ask him to cease threats and contact.

The very next day, his estranged wife – who I had nothing to do with – went to the police to seek an AVO against me. What an uncanny coincidence! I contacted the police back and asked to proceed immediately and they said “It’s too late, we’ve heard his side of the story – we’re not taking action against him”. I had no doubt my abuser was convincing, they didn’t need to tell me – I’d stuck with his abuse for an entire year – he was very convincing! The frustration was overwhelming because at this point I knew he’d successfully get an AVO against me, so my friends and I prepared ourselves for what was to come and just hoped the system wouldn’t allow it to happen.

Expert in narcissistic abuse, Kim Saeed from Let Me Reach, explains the scenario perfectly in her post The narcissist, the ex and the new girlfriend – the art of triangulation. What if my abuser’s wife was successful in her quest? My abuser would’ve succeeded in separating us so he could continue abusing both of us and we would’ve remained completely oblivious. As for me being punished – I was the most recently groomed and as I was leaving the relationship anyway, I guess he made the decision that I was the less important source of supply – so he discarded me. If she was successful in getting an AVO against me, he would’ve just shrugged with the same “told you she was crazy” story.

Reality: When I followed up with the police about my abuser continuing to harass me only three days after the court hearing. He had emailled me to wish me happy birthday. Their response was: “It’s not a crime to wish you happy birthday”. The fact was, I went to the police on three separate occasions before I was served on my abuser’s behalf by the same police station I went to for help. The same police station had already contacted him twice to tell him to cease contact and stop the threats, they didn’t contact me once. And I look back at my AVO and shake my head. So here are the facts direct from my “non-urgent” AVO:

- I lifted my ex-boyfriend’s windscreen wiper blades – even though at the time he alleged I did it, I was out to dinner with my parents in a restaurant

- I questioned if he was back with his “ex wife” – who he never actually left (though he did file for divorce on her birthday – I know for sure because he had me check signatures and drop it in to the lawyer on his behalf)

- I used his intercom to contact him

- And he claimed I’d been harassing him for two months – even though I had text messages on my phone clearly showing we were in a loving relationship up until only a few weeks before. And it was far from one-sided!

OK, I can understand an urgent AVO – but if an AVO is “non-urgent”, why does it exist? Shouldn’t there just be an AVO or an urgent AVO? According to the serving police station, their evidence wasn’t substantial or serious enough to make it an “urgent” AVO. But if it’s not serious, or substantial, then why would an AVO be put in place?

What concerned me most was the fact that the police had contacted my abuser twice and he didn’t follow their instruction. This contributes to my concern that an AVO wouldn’t protect me from much when it came to him. In fact, I believe even if I had taken out an AVO against my abuser it would have protected me as much as taking a toothpick in to battle! People who remain in domestic violence situations have this fear. NOTHING will protect them. So when police won’t help – or that piece of paper fails – what will you do?

So as the abuse worsens, not knowing how to get help when you need it can be extremely detrimental. Because despite all his threats and the abuse which was quickly becoming more regular, more physical and more overtly obvious – I didn’t want to hurt or punish him – so I wouldn’t leave a statement. I actually said “I don’t want to take action, I just want his threats to stop!” And I wanted something on their records to show what was happening. Apparently police can’t record that detail, so I didn’t go ahead. I’m not the first person to cover for their abuser even when I knew it was really bad, and imagine what that did to my self-esteem, my self-worth and my self-trust – knowing I was being abused enough to need intervention but not being able to let go enough to follow through and get the help I needed.

Scarier still, once the relationship was over – I was seeing someone else – he told me to return a lovelock: a padlock with our names on it or something would happen to me. “Think carefully,” he wrote. Meanwhile the police shrugged again – “Not a threat of violence”. So when I didn’t do as my abuser wanted, (and imagine how it would have appeared if I did?) my abuser who was determined to set me up, carried out his threat and had me served with an AVO by abusing me and provoking me until I did react – by lifting his wiper blades. How that could be manipulated into a threat of violence is actually beyond me. My abuser was particularly convincing.

Something I have learned from Domestic Violence groups recently – is that people who take out AVOs, that need them, don’t threaten the person allegedly abusing them with it. Because if they need an AVO, then they would be scared that the person will retaliate if they were to do something – so taking action against them wouldn’t be a threat someone who needs an AVO would make. Someone who wants an AVO would make this threat. And there’s your distinction. The fact that even the delivery of his threat of the AVO changes from his wife wanting it, to then suddenly him needing it – this also suggests it was used as abuse rather than necessary action for protection.

When I told the police that my abuser was threatening to get an AVO against me, they shrugged: “So? It’s just a piece of paper” – they couldn’t understand the concept. Why would someone threaten that? The same police station made no attempt to contact me to say there was a complaint of harassment despite their records – and I know they had my details at the time. In fact, even the investigating police officer was more concerned with saving face with the police ombudsman than in changing systems to ensure a manipulated version of events won’t be taken in the future. As long as whatever was said and “proved” checked boxes, the AVO is warranted.

My introduction to trying to get help from the police was like banging my head against a brick wall. In fact, they admitted a lot of the “evidence” was taken at face-value. For example, in following up with me about my complaint for police negligence it was revealed that I allegedly left nine voicemail messages for my abuser, and they read out the times I allegedly left them. First, my abuser didn’t have your typical voicemail message: it was a second of air and then went straight to the beep. So if I did then it certainly wasn’t to hear his voice! Second, my abuser never checked voicemails when they were left, which I knew. So why would I leave a voicemail message? And finally, the times he claimed I left them, I was in the garage lifting his wiperblades on his car, where there was no reception. Irony. So I challenged the police and asked if they listened to even one of the voicemail messages. No. And I strongly doubt the phone records could have supported it with these facts, which means they obviously hadn’t checked the phone records. The police also admitted they hadn’t determined the length of time my “harassment” had been going for, and just accepted his version of events – which I disproved this. It makes me wonder if they kept a record of the threat of the AVO, and if they did, why this wasn’t checked and why I wasn’t contacted.

I asked all the right questions, and as far as I could see, I did the right things to try to protect myself. And I don’t lie. I wasn’t going to say he verbally threatened to kill me, when he didn’t. Still no one would help me. But while I did everything I thought I could have, I didn’t move out of the apartment block soon enough and multiple reasons and excuses kept me there.

I tried to get support before I was served on my abusers behalf, but the police couldn’t suggest any support groups (which turns out they could but they didn’t – and with all due respect, who are they to filter and determine who gets access support?). I went to a psychologist for assistance from the middle of last year and they couldn’t suggest anything either. Support groups only appeared to exist for inpatients, people in shelters or they were designed for the low-socioeconomic stereotype.

I broke my lease one month before it was due to expire, the day I was served with the AVO and moved out the day after the court hearing.

At the time, I asked all the right questions. For an issue where there are heaps of organisations dedicated to the cause and companies pouring money into advertising for it, it’s bizarre that no body knows where people can go to get practical support! So I decided to create my own. I got qualified, and I opened my company.

 

“I’ll give him what he wants so he goes away” – the dangers in giving up

Belief: Often people in domestic violence situations will continue attempting to please their abuser, and when they finally do – even for a moment – they reach a state of euphoria because it’s almost impossible. This is addictive in itself. Being addicted to an abuser also creates shame, particularly as they logically know they are being abused and still continue trying to please them. Part of the reason someone in a domestic violence situation may stay and continue like this is because of how they were groomed in the beginning – and their abuser “isn’t horrible all the time”. Unfortunately it also means people who have been in domestic violence situations let down their guard quickly once they are out of the situation, because we start thinking if they just have what they want then they’ll leave us alone. Victims become exhausted and get to the point where they give up and start giving into their abuser all the time so they leave them alone – the only problem is: abusers don’t function like that.

Gap: So when I was served with an AVO on the grounds of harassment I decided if I just gave it to him, he’d leave me alone – because he’d have what he wanted, right? Fighting it wasn’t an option for three reasons: it was expensive, it I won – he’d be back or there would be repercussions and I refused to fight for him anymore. I have a belief that what’s worth the prize is always worth the fight: the only thing worth the fight at the time was my freedom. And even looking back, my freedom was worth the consequence. So I decided to “consent without admissions”. In fact, I even hired a lawyer to say it for me, so he wouldn’t have the satisfaction of hearing me say it.

For six months following the court hearing, I didn’t leave my new apartment because I was so terrified that he would set me up again. Fear following domestic violence is the most common and complex emotion to overcome. And I had reason to be scared because separation abuse set in shortly after I moved into my new apartment – only days after the court hearing. I’d never heard of it before – but this form of abuse can be fatal – either through homicides, suicides or both. So here’s how it looked for me:

Just three days after my abuser had me in court, consenting without admissions, he wrote me an email to wish me happy birthday – which I mentioned – the police shrugged, “it’s not a crime to wish someone happy birthday”. I have spoken to several people who took AVOs out against their abusers and they would only wish them a swift decent to hell that soon after. Needless to say, having spent around $10,000 to get clear and safe from him: I didn’t respond.

When I didn’t directly react to my abuser’s birthday message, his employer contacted me (the owner of the company I used to work for, which is how my abuser and I met in the first place) in an attempt to bring my honesty into question. Interestingly, the same man said how honest and hard-working I was as I left his company, and here he was… just suddenly changed his mind? Just another coincidence?

When I didn’t respond to that either, my abuser went to a lot of trouble to comment on a Happiness Weekly post about escaping a controlling person, which I never approved. He used his real name, revealing commitment and intent:

“The exact stuff that you write is all about the exact person you are and have become. You just proved that YOU manipulate people. And I ask you, why was the AVO given to YOU? I didn’t give to you, you got it yourself! Deservingly, and in person by the Police. The Police make the descission [sic] if an AVO is valid. You are not a psychologist or have a qualification in this stuff that you write. Please delete me from Happiness Weekly as I don’t want any blogs sent to me ever!”

I’ll let you decide if that is a message from a domestic violence victim or not. Keep in mind, this was received within the week I was served on his behalf with an AVO and to leave a comment on a blog isn’t as simple as flicking an email to someone – you need to find the right blog platform, set up a profile, find the blog, and then leave the comment.

Two things stood out to me:

First, if I “deserved” the AVO, why was he going to such extreme lengths to contact me to tell me? Happy birthday one day and then abuse the next? Had I “deserved” the AVO, his behaviour would’ve reflected mine – doing everything he could to shut down, shut off and ensure his safety.

Second, he demanded I unsubscribe him from my blog – so what he’s saying is he felt strongly enough that he had to leave comment, and he’s intelligent enough to post it, but it didn’t occur to him to just type “unsubscribe” into a Google search? Seriously?

I complained again that their “protected person” was still contacting me after I’d asked for him not to on several occasions. At this point the police contacted him for the third time to ask him to cease contact with me completely – but not before they first asked me to produce his phone number for them so they could call as soon as we hung up.

My abuser then attempted to retract his comment, and in doing so revealed the email address linked to the profile he created. I searched it on Facebook. A fake profile appeared. Fake name. No image.

Terrified, knowing he was doing it to find me in my new location, I returned to the police only to be told I was on a “revenge mission”.

At this point – as the systems continued to allow him to abuse me, my self-esteem at an all-time low and I had total disregard for my life with limited support – I attempted suicide.

Reality: What’s scary – I felt my most rational at the time.

My thought processes were clear and if I lived everything the same way again, I can say with near certainty that I think it would drive me to that same point again because the only way I thought that I could stop it from continuing was to remove myself completely – and permanently.

In surviving that suicide attempt, I said to myself “Sair, what are you going to do?”

I answered: “I’m going to make sure this never happens to anyone else.”

 

“No one will believe me” – the decision to talk

Belief: Abusive people lie and manipulate, which is linked to the psychological makeup of narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths – and there’s not a lot of difference between those three types of people. Anyone who can abuse someone, knowingly, intentionally and continually lacks empathy and conscience can generally be linked to one or several of these labels.

Initially, I didn’t think anyone would believe my story. It may have been the response I received from the police that stopped me from talking about it. I walked around with my head down and my confidence sucked out of me – the smallest clothes size you could get caused by the stress, with fears of anorexic setting in. My self esteem sat at zero. I felt like a shell. There was nothing left.

Gap: Three months after I was served with the AVO I went out for the first time to my friend’s 30th birthday. It was the first time I’d been to the city in months and the only reason I went was that I was assured security would be there – and they were.

Zac, a very good looking and charming man, approached me – and in one breath, he said:

“Hello there, I know you’re not here to meet anyone because you’re avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room, but I couldn’t help but notice that you’re drinking red wine and that’s incredibly sophisticated of you – in fact, it’s my drink of choice as well – and don’t worry I’m not hitting on you, I’m gay – my name is Zac”.

No introductions – I immediately told him my ex-boyfriend had an AVO in place against me and that I didn’t want to meet anyone. Zac was the first stranger I told.

His reaction, was my turning point.

Reality: Interestingly, not one person I have told my story to has disbelieved me – even though I was the one served with the AVO.

So when Zac heard what I said, he looked me up and down and laughed.

He thought I was joking.

When I told him I was serious, he kept laughing because: “It’s just so ridiculous – look at you!”

That made me laugh.

From that night on, I owned the AVO and the abuse that happened to me.

The moment when we make that powerful decision that we’re going to own something that we’re ashamed of, we stand taller, more confidence and become a force to be reckoned with!

 

“I’m proud of myself today” – allowing the phoenix to rise

Belief: I didn’t do everything right. I made a stack of mistakes. I have this permanent blotch on my record that will forever tie me to my abuser, just as he wanted. It’s not fair! It sucks! But what happens next is up to me. So I told myself: “OK, that’s happened – and it’s not what happens to us, it’s what we do next and what we do with what’s happened to us that matters” – that thought opened me to self-forgiveness, so long as I could make something positive and productive come of the situation.

Gap: In the eyes of the police and the law, their intervention was a success, because I stopped “harassing” my abuser. But even if it had happened exactly as he said and the AVO was warranted, I don’t believe it was successful. Not in the current system as it stands. Because “the protected person” came back, which is what happens with AVOs to drive police to the point of frustration. It’s precisely this behaviour that invites the cycle of abuse to continue. Could you imagine working your butt off to help someone only to see them walk straight back into the abuse? That’s what our police see every day. People will return to abusive partners for their own reasons: maybe they’re duped again, maybe the threats get bigger, and it’s so easy to judge when your outside it. Hells, I’m still getting judged for my reaction to the trauma as I posted last week in my blog: My Life After Domestic Violence. But what if AVOs included no contact clauses in the conditions, for both parties, every time. Where there is property and children involved, it forces them to talk through lawyers. Wouldn’t that resolve the issue and really hone home the point of having an AVO? Wouldn’t it also stop the abuse of the system because narcissists don’t actually want to do it to lose their source of supply, but simply to punish – as in my case. So, I’m wondering: why are our systems encouraging any communication between someone being abused and an abuser? Because if it’s bad enough to have police intervention, it should be REALLY bad! And that’s why police are running in circles. What we need, and what I’m talking about, is a complete intervention that STOPS the abuse and the cycle. Not just at the magistrate’s discretion, but in general. It should just be an automatic condition of getting an AVO against someone. It will stop the abused getting duped and returning, it will stop abusers from becoming more abusive, and it’ll stop our system from having the headache of needing to follow up – again and again, over the same case. No contact clauses seems simple, but it’s what will change the system as it currently stands. Instead, our systems have upgraded so police can enforce AVOs on the spot. What makes people think police get it right? It’s not up to me … I’m just putting it out there. No contact conditions – for both parties, the serving party and the requesting party is the only way an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order will be able to work as a successful intervention. If the serving party breaks it, particularly if it’s used as a tool to then go on to harass the abuser – as in my case – then tear it up; if the abuser breaks it, then they get 2 years jail and the $1,500 fine. Fair??

Reality: Just like so many others before me, I could’ve returned as well – BUT I DIDN’T!

And I’m so freakin’ proud of myself because that’s where I go “This AVO didn’t protect anyone from anything – but I did! I quit that freakin’ game and I protected myself!” The truth is: the AVO wasn’t successful, but I was.

I left the apartment (and no one moves overnight unless they’re already looking – just sayin’), I worked out how to do NO CONTACT (big shout out to the talented Kim Saeed from Let Me Reach for helping me!) and I surrounded myself with people who supported me unconditionally and who shed tears watching me turn things around (big shout out to my girls Lara and Kat!).

Because I’m the one who had the strength to walk away, slam that door and not look back. I’m the one who grew strength to tell my story. I’m the one who gained more friends, more confidence and had ONE LESS LOSER! I’m the one who maintained NO CONTACT – and now I’m determined to help others. Because if I can do it – then I know others can too.

And I’m not saying it’s easy. This has probably been one of my greatest challenges in my life so far – but I can confidently say: it was worth the AVO to get to where I am today – clear of my abuser.

 

“How can I get the most out of this?” – picking up the pieces

Belief: I now look back – and the police were right – it was “just a piece of paper”. Although that blotch exists on my record insinuating I’m a hazard to society, fortunately, it didn’t affect me at all.

Gap: My abuser’s intent for the AVO was punishment not protection. He did it to try to silence, trap and further control me. One of Sydney’s top lawyers told me it was done to gain “the ultimate control”. And that’s ok, because the ultimate control came with a time limit.

That “piece of paper” was intended to cause damage.

But it didn’t – not just because I took the right steps not to let it, but because the people in my life haven’t allowed it to affect their opinion and judgement of me – and I have so much support in what I’m doing now.

Reality: That “piece of paper” stops me from repeating my mistakes – believing, trusting, forgiving unconditionally and returning to my abuser. It was the “evidence” for closure that I needed. That “piece of paper” gave me this 360⁰ insight into domestic violence that not many people see and that I have tried to give some insight into it today. That “piece of paper” became my Diploma in Surviving Narcissistic Abuse.

What my abuser didn’t count on – was for me to use it for something positive. It’s that “piece of paper” that motivates me to want to talk about my story on international stages, and my qualifications will enable me to help people all over the world.

That fact is, I’m not the first person to have an AVO served against me as part of my abuse – and I won’t be the last. Perhaps previous victims of this have become so wrapped up in shame and guilt that instead of talking about it, they wanted it to go away. Or maybe they went back. Or maybe it wasn’t a big deal to them and it’s just a big deal to me! So who did they help in staying silent? If someone had spoken about this as boldly as I am now, and if I had known how easy the system was to manipulate, maybe my story would be different?

So OWN IT! Talk about it. Be your own hero and take the steps to prove it!

 

“Here’s what I’m going to do” – introducing Relationship Free

Belief: Elizabeth Bank’s character in Walk of Shame says: “I’m not ashamed – not ashamed! And I don’t care what people think anymore, because … it is exhausting!” That’s how I feel.

My 2013 looked like this: a year of abuse and torment, served with an AVO and topped off with a suicide attempt.

I’m determined to turn that around!

Reality: So, I owned it.

I stepped out of myself, I left my ego behind and I got to work to help others recover from relationship traumas so this wouldn’t happen to them.

Relationship Free was born!

Relationship Free is my latest venture. It is forward thinking, forward focused and forward moving in all our approaches to relationship issues. Everything we do is designed for individuals not stereotypes. It has a strong life coaching foundation and it draws experts in specific fields from across the globe, who offer one-on-one life coaching, to one place where people can find the support, help and assistance they need from the comfort of their safe haven. All coaches appearing on the Relationship Free website are wounded healers (meaning we survived what we now specialise in to help people) and each of us partners with our clients work to build self-esteem, self-worth, self-trust and self-empowerment – all the things I lost through my abuse.

We help people to develop self-compassion to enable self-forgiveness, and ultimately we transform lives!

Relationship Free experts eliminate shame and fear of judgement with our main concern being “What can we do now?” Because no matter how complicated the situation, how hopeless it seems, how trapped you feel or how addicted you are to an abusive person – the journey beyond starts with you and it can start immediately!

The website, due to go live in November, will include a calendar of events, programs for purchase, resources, forums and heaps more!

 

So here’s what I’ve been doing!

Since I got served with the AVO:

- I moved out of my apartment and into my “Safe Haven” sanctuary

- I single-handedly transformed my whole entire life: my thought process, my friends, the way I dress, even what I eat! Everything changed.

- I reconnected with friends and family who I wasn’t allowed to associate with last year

- I educated myself as much as I could to enable me to help myself and others – I completing three courses and enrolling in a fourth, while completing my Certificate IV in Life Coaching, starting up Relationship Free and working full time (plus I got a promotion!)

- I regained my confidence, self-trust, self-worth and I forgave myself

- I contacted several Members of Parliament (MPs) with my story and evidence to ask for amendments to our laws. Concerned, they assisted me in following up with the Attorney General

- I contacted the Attorney General – directly (several times) and via my MP, with a call to have the procedures reviewed and the law addressed

- I contacted the police ombudsman to try to adjust procedures. Instead I found out more about the system and my serving police station has become a great supporter of my work. I look forward to working with the police in the future as we share the common goal to stop domestic violence.

- I put together a business plan for Relationship Free

- I designed programs to assist others recovering from domestic violence and narcissistic abuse

- I sourced local venues to host various support groups and events for people suffering from relationship trauma

- I gathered content and worked with designers for my new website which goes live in November

- I had the Relationship Free logo designed

- I connected with various experts around the globe to represent Relationship Free and offer the best assistance possible to people who would benefit

- I attended seminars to grow my knowledge and give me some ideas for Relationship Free

- I reviewed Happiness Weekly because my abuser is still subscribed … twice … and I decided I’m ok with that

- I’m writing my story to educate others of the dangers of a relationship with domestic violence and to show how it happens and why people don’t leave … and I’m going to sell it! And it’s frustrating because reliving the trauma slows me down. I can only write small parts before dropping it for weeks to recover – it can take forever to get there, I won’t let the trauma he created stop me from sharing it. It certainly demonstrates to me why people who are traumatised by domestic violence find it difficult to share their experience, and it’s another reason they’d just want to move on and forget it.

- I spoke to lawyers, solicitors and barristers about how I – and others – can stay safe with the current systems as they are

- I created a Facebook page called “Served with a false AVO or restraining order – harassment through the court” – and started providing emotional support to people who have been falsely served with an AVO

- I finished the six-month AVO period without a breach

And I married myself. While I was sinking to the bottom of the ocean in agony, drowning in fear, shame and guilt, I got down on one knee, and I said to myself: “Sarah, I will never leave you!”

It was at that moment that I made a full commitment to myself – and I realised I would never be abused again. Because until you are fully committed to yourself, you can’t be your own hero and save yourself. Making that commitment is the most powerful thing I have ever done. And the bottom line is, until you commit to yourself: you can’t live a full, happy life.

Today I’m launching the Relationship Free Facebook page so I can start building a supportive community to help others.

That’s just in six months.

Imagine how much of this list I would have completed and achieved if I didn’t own the fact that I was served with an AVO. If I just brushed it under the carpet and got on with life.

And imagine how much I will achieve by the end of this year because I have owned it!

 

“The fear won’t stop me” – setting my own barriers

If my abuser turns up to a Relationship Free event, there’s nothing police can do, and my initial reaction was to abort Relationship Free.

Then it hit me: I feel unsafe every single day of my life – whether I’m starting this business and my details and whereabouts are public or not. Despite going to great lengths and great expense to ensure my security, I still feel unsafe. My abuser is determined – if he wasn’t, I wouldn’t feel the need to go to the lengths I have to keep myself away and safe – but it also means, he would track me down if I started Relationship Free or not.

Besides, there’s other options. I can always hire security!

Because I refuse to live in a bubble and put my head in the sand while other people continue to be abused. Instead I will use my situation as a platform to help others. My mission in creating Relationship Free is this: whatever my limitations, I’ll find it, fix it and share it. I will not be forced to feel trapped, guilty, ashamed or humiliated.

As I was recovering, and continue that journey, I promised myself I’d never accept anything unacceptable again and I would use my new freedom to live my best life. So far, I haven’t let myself down!

 

How you can support Relationship Free?

If you would like to support Relationship Free, please contact me: sarah@relationshipfree.com. There are many ways people can help:

- Show your support: tell your friends about it, like the Facebook page

- Provide a physical space for Relationship Free to host support groups

- Invite me to speak and share my story

- Partner with Relationship Free

- Invest in Relationship Free so I can make this a full-time focus

- Use Relationship Free services, programs and come to our events

If you would like to help Relationship Free get off the ground, please contact me by email sarah@relationshipfree.com or info@happinessweekly.org.

 

I want to thank White Ribbon for being an outstanding support, helping me find the contacts I needed and encouraging me to share my story. I’d also like to extend my compassion to Rachelle Yeo’s family and friends – and I want to thank you for being such amazing and inspirational people. Your work helps people like me to talk about what happened.

Best wishes and thank you everyone who reads this, for letting me share my story,

Sarah x

 

And I made a post video wrap-up for you! Check it out here.

Want to know more about Relationship Free? Watch this video!

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