Why Do They Stay?

Why Do They Stay?

In Australia, at least one woman is killed by a current partner or ex-partner every week. Every single week. So if these men are capable of such violence, why do women stay? Such an easy question to ask, not so easy to answer. Women stay with violent and abusive men for a range of reasons and unless you’ve been there, you just can’t understand.

Relationships rarely begin with a display of verbal abuse, shoving, hitting and controlling behaviour. It’s something that creeps up over time. To begin with women are made to feel like they’re making it up or blowing it out of proportion “I never said it like that, you’re hearing things” and “Do you really believe I would do/say something like that? Wow, you mustn’t know me at all.” The verbal abuse continues either bluntly or subtly for a while before the first physical incident occurs and he’s so unbelievably sorry, it’ll never happen again and he’s so sweet and attentive. She believes him. She so badly wants to believe him. After all, she never knew he was capable of physically striking her so it has to be a once off due to all of the stress he’s under.

She’s in love with him. He was amazing in the beginning. “He used to take me out to dinner, buy me flowers, tell me how beautiful I looked so where has this telling me what I can and can’t wear come from? He never acted like that in the beginning.” It becomes a strange concept to grapple with. A man who abuses, controls and isolates his partner didn’t begin his relationship that way. Denial plays its part because it’s hard to understand where his new persona has come from. Maybe it’s just stress? He has been working hard lately, maybe his boss is giving him a hard time? She makes excuses trying to explain his change in behaviour. She’s trying to give meaning to who he has become. She’ll just try and keep the peace, try and make him more comfortable, go about her day and hope things go back to normal, that he goes back to normal. But this is his new normal now unfortunately.

By the time she identifies that she is experiencing verbal, emotional, sexual and/or physical abuse she may have been deliberately isolated “I don’t know why you want to go and see her. She’s a whore” and “I can’t believe you’re friends with someone like that” or a blunt statement “I don’t like her and I don’t want you to hang out with her anymore.”

Either she pulls back from her support network or they just drift away as her relationship takes a different course. Well meaning friends might gently persuade her that what she’s experiencing isn’t right and tell her to leave but if that causes her shame she’ll stop answering the phone and make excuses to skip social occasions. She wants to avoid any shame, embarrassment, pity and finger pointing at all costs. A lot of her energy goes into getting through the day and home on her own feels safer.

Her family may be bolder and call him out on his behaviour. Arguments occur, conflict arises and he forbids her from seeing her disrespectful family members or tells her she must choose. He’s her partner, they share a house together, he’s the father of her children and she can’t take their Dad away from them. She has limited options. She chooses him for the sake of her children and for peace. Short lived peace though.

As the arguing continues and intensifies the control tightens and the name calling and vitriol occurs more frequently.  Even a strong woman becomes quite downtrodden when she is constantly referred to as dumb, fat, ugly, nagging, bitch, slut, stupid. It’s hard not to let words affect your self esteem and eat into your soul. She begins to believe him. She feels useless, worthless and she doesn’t think she can do anything right.

Everything seems so overwhelming. Leaving becomes too hard to a worn down woman because where does she go? Family members have offered their support in the past but how can she uproot her children from their bedrooms and home and cram them into a small shared space with family? He’s already told her that he’s not leaving, if she doesn’t like it then she has to be the one to leave. She may or may not be working but she’s always shared the finances and the costs of the house and the children with him. She doesn’t have the means to continue the same lifestyle and pay mortgage/rent on her own. Finances play a big part in if women stay or leave. Statistics show a large number of women will return to an abusive relationship purely for financial support for their children.

Maybe she has reached out before. Maybe she wasn’t believed because he’s such a model citizen, he’s a great friend who helps everyone when he can and he’s so charming, nice, helpful….are you sure you didn’t provoke him? Maybe he’s just under a lot of stress? She just got shut down and she won’t mention it again now.

She also hopes he will change, that it is just a phase because she knows the man he was when they met, the man he can be. She prays he finds himself again and they can go back to being a loving couple and a loving, happy family.

A lot of women hear threats of harm. He’ll threaten to keep the children from her if she leaves, threaten to harm their pets or family members, threaten to self harm and threaten to hunt her down and kill her if she does dare to leave. You have no idea what goes on behind closed doors and she has no idea if he is really capable of following out his threats. Does she want to find out?

The most dangerous time for a woman living in an abusive relationship is when she’s planning to leave or just after she’s left. It’n not as simple as just walking out the door and leaving. Many will look over their shoulders and tense up every time the phone rings for years to come. Many struggle mentally for the rest of their lives. They have experienced trauma and develop post traumatic stress disorder. Some won’t make it. Women don’t just become safe when they leave the relationship. They are killed by their ex-partners or their demons get the better of them and they take their own lives to escape the pain.

She stays for lots of reasons. Many you can’t comprehend unless you’ve been there.
‘Why I Stayed’ is my personal account of a domestic violence relationship. It takes you through my life, the beginning, why I stayed, how I left and the healing I’ve done since then. It can be purchased by download the Kindle app to your device and buying it here:

If you are in an abusive relationship and want to get out, get in contact with a local support organisation or ring a national helpline for advice, make a plan, assess your safety and remain vigilant, find your support network, engage help.

If you have left an abusive relationship and are struggling, please get in contact with your local support agencies – that’s what they’re there for, reach out, find a counsellor, love yourself and know that there is life after domestic violence.

Goal Setting

Goal Setting

Goal setting begins with something you want to achieve. Do you want to land a new job? Do you want to finish your course? Save a specific amount of money? Learn a new skill? Complete an thrill seeking adventure? Go on a holiday? Buy a new car?

Whatever it is, you need to write it down!! I cannot stress that enough. There is something very powerful that happens in your mind when you see your goal in your own handwriting. And again, write it down, in your own handwriting and put it where you will see it regularly. Stick it to your bedroom mirror, on the back of the toilet door, in your car. You need to see it.

Follow the SMART principles to create a realistic goal that you will be motivated to achieve.

Is it specific?
Goals like I want a new car or lots of money aren’t specific enough. Which car do you want to buy? How much money do you want to earn? What industry do you want a new job in? What is the skill you want to learn? Make it specific and also consider your why factor. You’ll be much more motivated to achieve a goal if you attach a why statement to it such as I want to quit smoking to improve my breathing ability and health.

Is it measurable?
It’s not enough to set a goal like I want to be happy or successful because it’s hard to measure when you get there. Setting a goal like I want to add 10 clients to my business in the next 12 months is measureable because when you hit that 10th client, you’ll be there.
Your goal should also be something meaningful because you’ll be more motivated to achieve it. Goals to do with health are usually more meaningful especially if you’ve had a health scare.

Is it attainable?
Your goal should be realistic and achievable. I want to earn $100,000 in the next week may not be realistic if you’re unemployed or on a fixed income, that’s more of a wish, but I want to earn $100,000 in 5 years time due to promotions and increased sales is a more realistic goal.

Is it relevant?
Is it something you can manage to achieve in your current lifestyle? A goal of I want to become a best selling author won’t be relevant if you hate writing. Just as I want to travel the world on my own may not quite work if you have a young family.

Is there a time frame?
Goals are much more achievable if you set a time frame for them. A goal of I want to visit Italy by 2019 is more motivating than I want to travel the world at some point in my future. Put a time limit on it to push you towards getting there.

Remember that your goals are not just about the destination but the fun along the way, the lessons learned and the person you grow into on your journey.

What’s your goal?

The importance of mindset for young athletes

The importance of mindset for young athletes

My 11 year old son has played rugby league since he was 5 years old. When we moved to a new area at the beginning of last year he disovered that most of his new friends played soccer so he wanted to give it a go for the first time. No problem. He enjoyed soccer but this year he decided to go back to rugby league (much to my delight lol).

About a month ago he started throwing around the idea of returning to soccer. I knew the reason why but I wanted him to be able to verbalise the reason himself. When asked why he would just respond with “Because I just want to go back to soccer”. I left it and gave him time to gather his thoughts before I pressed on with “What is the REAL reason you want to go back to soccer?” and just as I thought, he felt he wasn’t getting ball enough in the game.

He had joined a team who had played together since they were in U6’s and they all knew each other. It’s an age where everyone wants the ball and wants to score tries. What an awesome feeling it is when you score a try for your team so why wouldn’t you want to hold onto the ball yourself and run for your life. He was disheartened and it showed in his effort and performance on the field. This is where shifting his mindset became my goal. Mindset plays a huge role in a young athlete’s view of themselves, the game, the team and ultimately how they perform.

Without trying to fix it or jumping up and down about it or telling him that that was life, we had a casual conversation about his role in the team. I wanted to shift his mindset.  I explained that getting the ball isn’t the only part of the game. We thought about a few key aspects of the game that he could do at the very next game to improve his participation.

He decided he would focus on backing up his team mate with the ball. He would achieve this by running with the ball carrier to support him and being available if the opportunity to offload the ball presented itself. I suggested he incorporate little things to boost his mood such running back to get onside instead of walking and not getting there in time for the play and to verbally encourage his team mates on the field for good plays etc. I also reminded him that tackling and stopping tries were just as important as scoring them.

I watched him make an effort to include these aspects into the very next game. He ran back to get onside, he approached every one of his team mates who scored a try to give them a pat on the back regardless of where on the field he had to run from and he supported the ball carrier at every opportunity he got.

I watched his whole energy change. He went from a negative ‘I never get the ball’ attitude to being involved in the game and being much more positive. In the first game of trying out these tactics, he was in a great supporting position to receive an offload and this encouraged him further. When his energy and performance improved due to his mindset, it was noticed by his team mates and he became more available to pass the ball to. He scored a try in each of the 3 subsequent games, kicked a conversion, got Man of the Match in one game and received lots of encouragement from other parents.

He’s enjoying the game so much more now and this all came from shifting his mindset. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Just start where you are

Just start where you are

I’m generally happy with all areas of my life, or at least where they’re heading, but the one area I’ve struggled the most with is health and fitness. Which of course includes my weight. I’m currently about 5-6 kilos more than where I’d like to be which doesn’t sound like a lot but on my height, it sure feels like a lot. And when you’re not happy, it doesn’t how close you are, you just find it hard to be happy.

Now why don’t I do something about it? It comes down to a lack of time, energy and motivation. All in my control. I can choose to wake up an hour earlier to get a workout in. I can choose to plan my meals in advance to avoid grabbing takeaway. I can choose to have a bowl full of fruit available to snack on instead of picking the wrong snacks. It’s more in my control than what I tell myself.

I also made the mistake many people do and that is wait for a Monday, or the beginning of the month and January, yes the epitome of ‘New Year New Me’ resolutions. I thought that beginning on a Monday improved my chances of making a good go of it. However, every Monday rolled around and it passed on by without me just starting. So, I resolved I’d definitely start next Monday. For sure! Next Monday is it!!

The truth is you don’t need January, the 1st of a month or a Monday to start anything. Yesterday was a Thursday and I pushed myself to start. I feel great, sore today in muscles that haven’t been worked on in months, but definitely happier for having started. And definitely keen to work out today and not let yesterday go to waste.

Just start right where you are. You don’t need to be great to start but you do need to start to be great.

Finding Your Purpose

Finding Your Purpose

It’s what we all want to find isn’t it? What is my purpose? What am I here to do?
It’s definitely something I ponder regularly and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot closer over the last few years.

My purpose revolves around helping people. I began a degree in Community Development with the intention of entering welfare and social work related employment. While studying, I have been an Early Childhood Educator for a number of years with the idea that I would enter into casework and/or Child Protection.

Then something in me changed and I wanted to explore Law. It’s interesting and I intend to finish my Associate Degree in Legal Studies but it’s ultimately not the industry I want to end up in anymore.

So I formalised my love of massage and healing and began offering relaxation and remedial massages. I grew up playing sports with a like minded father who taught me the importance of seeing medical professionals when my body was in pain and injured.
In a way I was a self taught amateur massage therapist and I used my intuition and self-taught knowledge to identify muscle issues and problems and work to treat them.
I have been described as having ‘magic hands’ because I just know and feel what I’m doing.

Recently, I completed a certificate in Life Coaching (having previously completed introductory modules of counselling which I loved) which gave me new purpose to inspire and motivate people. I am am a very motivated person, often described as a do-er, a go getter, a goal oriented person. It’s who I am to my core.

I have a special interest in sports massage for young athletes where I not only massage for injury prevention and recovery but develop their mindset as well. I discuss body image and empowerment, adequate water intake, the benefits of stretching, the importance of training, visualisation and how essential it is to train your mind as well as your body. Performance and achievement is mental as well as physical. And I like to focus on that.

Which brings me to why I have taken a special interest in young athletes. I want to inspire and motivate people to become the best version of themselves. In business you are encouraged to find your niche, find your target market and create a solution for their problems, to find your purpose. And I think I’ve found it. It requires more refining and research but I’m going to start dabbling in motivational speaking.

Lisa’s Sanctuary was named to reflect a safe space to receive a massage. A place where you didn’t have to be uncomfortable, where if you had a toddler present I would make that work, where if you wanted to vent and talk you were more than welcome to, where self love and self care was highly encouraged and massage celebrated as something you and your body deserved. Lisa’s Sanctuary will now also become a safe space to become the best version of you. It will incorporate the physical act of massage but also the mental stimulation of Life Coaching, motivational speaking, setting your goals and achieving them, identifying your blocks and overcoming them. Become the best version of you.

So what is your purpose? What are you here to do? What makes you happy? What would continue to do if money ceased to exist? What feeds your soul?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sports Massage for Young Athletes

Sports Massage for Young Athletes

We hear all the health and wellbeing massage for adults but did you know that massage is also beneficial to young athletes too?

As a mum of active kids who have played sport their whole lives I’ve taken a keen interest in sports massage for aspiring athletes. It came about when my daughter who plays representative netball complained of sore calves. When I got her up on my massage table I was horrified by her muscle tightness and soreness give she’s only 13 and then it dawned on me. With training, club games and possibly added rep training and games the young athlete works their body hard and it can be quite a lot of pressure on their growing frames.  Tight muscles hinder performance and are more vulnerable to injury which is not what we want at all.

Massage can help by relieving muscle tension, lengthening muscles, assisting in recover and injury recovery, helps to prevent injury from tight and overused muscles, increases blood flow which helps to increase oxygen supply and remove excess waste. Massage has also been known to improve anxiety and sleep.

It is recommended that aspiring young athletes receive a massage at least every month to assist performance, injury prevention and recovery. It makes sense to include it into your training and recovery program but like everything else, make sure you find someone who your young athlete feels comfortable with and finds approachable. I have a Working With Children Check however I still request a parent/carer or nominated adult be present in the room because they are minors but also so the adult can hear any recovery, stretching or rest recommendations made. I’m also big on empowerment in regards to body particularly with my young female athletes. I explain that even though I’m the qualified professional it is their body and they get a say in what they find comfortable and uncomfortable and whether the pressure is too hard. I explain what I’m doing throughout the session and I encourage them to speak up and ask questions. It’s a really great conversation to have and we build better relationships through communication

What is a Life Coach and why you’d benefit from seeing one.

What is a Life Coach and why you’d benefit from seeing one.

Utilising a Life Coach is becoming more mainstream as we start to embrace the support they offer. But what is a Life Coach exactly? A Life Coach can help you to identity your roadblocks, prioritise the important things, empower you to discover and implement solutions and assist you to improve your personal and professional life.
A Life Coach helps you become the best version of you!

Tony Robbins says that “unlike a therapist, a coach will not focus on your past, but your future, and he or she will help you break through any barriers keeping you from a life of fulfillment”.

You are the expert on your life so a Life Coach won’t make decisions for you or offer the solutions to you but rather encourage and empower you to make improvements in your life and motivate you to achieve your goals.

Life Coaches can assist in both your personal and professional life by assisting with better organisation, improved decision skills and even boosted confidence. Whatever it is is you want to achieve, your coach will be there to support and encourage you all the way til the end.

I can help you achieve your goal or if you don’t have one yet, I can help you set a goal and then achieve it. Email lifecoach@lisassanctuary.com.au to discuss how I can help you


Corporate Massage to Help your Business

Corporate Massage to Help your Business

Take care of yourself and your employees by receiving a short massage while at work!

As a business owner, you undoubtedly would like your business to perform well and that means, in the words of Richard Branson, taking care of your employees (and yourself!).
Richard Branson quote

Workplace and mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10 billion per year in absenteeism and reduced work productivity according to data from compensation claims made in 2008-09 and 2010-11 (Safe Work Australia).

Work-related and mental stress accounts for the longest stretches of absenteeism
(National Health and Safety Commission).

The signs or symptoms of stress can be physical, psychological and behavioural and include:

Physical symptoms Psychological symptoms Behavioural symptoms

Fatigue Depression Increase in sick days or absenteeism
Muscular tension Anxiety Diminished creativity or initiative
Headaches Discouragement Decreased work performance
Sleeping difficulties, insomnia Irritability and aggression Problems with interpersonal relationships
  Pessimism Mood swings and irritability
  Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope Frustration and impatience
  Reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions Disinterest and isolation

A list like this could have a devastating impact and effect on your business.
Massage therapy is a valuable and cost effective way of alleviating some of these symptoms. Your employees will appreciate the gesture and it provide numerous health benefits such as:

  1. Reduces stress
  2. Decreases anxiety and depression
  3. Relieves muscle tension and pain
  4. Prevents repetitive strain injuries
  5. Improves quality of sleep
  6. Relieves headaches
  7. Lowers blood pressure
  8. Increases immune function
  9. Increases focus, energy and mental clarity
  10. It feels good!

Book a corporate massage today.

Lesser known benefits of massage for little ones

Lesser known benefits of massage for little ones

Looking after ourselves is very important because as the saying goes ‘You can’t pour from any empty cup’. Time out, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, massage etc are becoming more widely embraced as we begin to understand, and value, the importance of self-love and self-care.

I was nearly 30, and had just left my husband of 10 years, when I embarked on a journey of self-care and self-love. I’m still on that journey (I guess we never actually finish it) and one of the things I thoroughly embraced was a weekly massage. Not only did it relieve my aching muscles and tension, it opened up a world of healing for me. I was taking time for myself, doing something just for me, and that was an empowering feeling. My massage therapist was great at listening and, although she’s not a qualified counsellor, it really helped to just talk to another adult. She was amazing.

If adults benefit so greatly from massage then it seems natural that children would too. Massage has many benefits such as improved circulation, blood flow, discomfort/pain relief but there are some lesser know benefits which are equally as important as the physical ones.

Massage is an intimate form of touch and so is only performed by mum, dad or close relative/carer who is involved in the child’s life. It is an amazing way to build your bond with your child. By looking into their eyes and listening to them giggle and babble to you during massage is a heart melting moment which you will never grow tired of.

When you offer massage to a child you give them the option of whether they want to receive it. It’s called the ‘permission sequence’ and its an invaluable message about safe touch.  When we allow a child to decide if they feel like a massage at that moment you’re giving them permission to say yes or no depending how they feel. It gives them the authority over their body to make the decision as they grow older.

As you massage, you can identify parts of the body “These are your toes/fingers/belly button” and explain what you are doing. This promotes early language development. You child’s brain is a sponge and absorbs so much information in the first 12 months. Children learn the majority of the early language skills from their parents by listening to the sounds you make, the shape your mouth makes, the correlation of words to objects that you point out and massage is a perfect way to begin doing this.

Massage has been identified as a beneficial to children with special needs and medical conditions who have touch aversion. Autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder can produce touch aversion where the child flinches at being touched, embraced and held. You can introduce massage very slowly and carefully, using the child’s cues to begin and end massage, to see how you go. For children with medical conditions, the touch they receive is associated with doctors, hospitals, needles and pain so utilising massage as a nice touch can counteract some of their touch aversion. When your child requires a procedure, treatment or diagnostic test you can use massage to relax, calm and take their mind off what they’re going through.

As part of a massage session, lymphatic exercises are taught. This involves crossing limbs over, never ever past the point of resistance, to cross the mid line. So, opposite arm and leg to meet each other, crossing the arms across the body. This helps to develop pathways in the brain, helps both side of the brain to talk to each other, develop fine motor and cognitive skills. As an Early Childhood educator I have found that children who find it difficult to cross the mid line may struggle with early reading and writing skills.

These are some lesser known but just as important benefits of infant/child massage. Contact me if you’d like further information or like http://www.facebook.com/LisasSanctuary for further info and tips.


Mindfulness for little ones

Mindfulness for little ones

Self care and self love is so important….but it’s not a topic regularly discussed or taught as we’re growing up. It should be taught right alongside literacy and numeracy when our brains are sponges and more willing to hold the concept. I’m an Early Childhood Educator in my other world and today I did a brief mindfulness session with my preschoolers. I explained that our angry, sad and anxious feelings are valid and it’s ok to feel them but we can do a few little exercises to relieve the severity and duration. We practised deep breaths by putting a hand on our tummy’s to feel the breath going in and out and I taught them the Starfish. Here my sweet little Miss (with permission from Mum) demonstrates the Starfish by holding up 5 outstretched fingers and traces the shape of her fingers with the index finger on her other hand. Great little calm easy grounding exercise for stressed and overwhelmed littlies.
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