Lisa – Domestic Violence Expert and Advocate

Lisa – Domestic Violence Expert and Advocate

My name is Lisa and I am the founder of Lisa’s Sanctuary – DV awareness, support and hope. I am an expert and advocate of DV and have a vision to guide people from a victim mentality to a survivor mindset.

I have refrained from referring to myself as an expert because who am I to be an expert in this field? Who am I to share my knowledge and profess to know so much?

The fact is though, I am an expert and it’s time I believed in myself and my ability to help.

I have a lived experience of DV. I once believed the only way out of my relationship was in a body bag. But here I am, 7 1/2 years later, living a life of peace and freedom, confidence and self-worth to remind you all that there is life after DV.

I am currently enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Domestic and Family Violence Practice where I’m delving more into the theories, responses, interventions, definitions of DV and all of the associated abuse. I see myself and my abuser in these theories and definitions. Knowledge is power.

I escaped my DV relationship with my life but with no self-confidence, self-esteem or self-worth. I was in a victim mentality for some time. I continued to prove to my abuser in unhealthy ways that I was enough. But none of it was very satisfying.

Over the years, I have gained all of that and then some. I am living a life that I deserve because I am worthy of it. I truly believe that. And that’s what I want to help others do. To guide people from a victim mentality to a survivor mindset.

What can you do to reduce Domestic Violence?

What can you do to reduce Domestic Violence?

Yes I do think it’s everyone’s responsibility to help prevent and reduce Domestic and Family Violence.

How do you do that?

🔹 By educating yourself on what abusive and controlling behaviours are.

🔹 Observe your own actions and reactions to better understand your emotions and feelings. It’s ok to feel angry, frustrated, sad, upset, disappointed. Your emotions are valid because they are yours but it is never ok to bully, intimidate, provoke, lash out or degrade someone else because of the way you feel.

🔹 Learn to self regulate your emotions and come up with strategies that work for you instead of lashing out. This could be walking away, spending 5 minutes doing deep breathing, turn the music up and dance. Do anything that makes you feel good and raises your vibration because it is never ok to make someone else feel like garbage because of the way you feel.

🔹 Calling out those who display them especially if they are close friends or family members. Don’t turn a blind eye or develop selective hearing if you witness your brother or sister, cousins or best friend say something mean and derogatory. Tell them it’s not cool. Pull them up on it in a respectful and tactful way to cause them to think about their behaviour.

🔹 Post DV support numbers on your Facebook. You never know who in your friends list is experiencing DV and may hold onto that number ‘just in case’

🔹 Prevention is much easier than healing and therapy later so teach your children about resilience and self esteem and confidence for it is insecure people who degrade and bully another human being in order to make themselves feel better or more superior.

🔹 Teach your children that if they feel a tight uncomfortable feeling in their belly’s in response to something someone has said or done that it’s their body’s instinct and gut feeling. They should pay attention to that and trust it. They can say Stop, I don’t like the way that makes me feel.

🔹 If your child hears someone say Stop, I don’t like the way that makes me feel teach them that they need to respect that and stop the behaviour. They don’t get to assume how it makes someone feel or determine that person is just sensitive and over reacting. They need to stop. Period.

🔹 Offer non-judgemental support to anyone who opens up to you. You may not be a professional but you can be caring and supportive. Pass on numbers and local support services. Understand that leaving isn’t easy, in fact it is often the most dangerous time in a relationship for a victim and their children.

And always remember that you are important, you are enough and you can make a difference 💜

Fearing a parents spite

Fearing a parents spite

The day I called the police for the last time during our relationship was the day he was charged with Intimidation and I was granted an interim AVO.

It was the day I decided I wanted to leave my relationship alive instead of in a body bag.

My AVO included not approaching me, contacting me or coming within 200 metres of my home and workplace.

At first my children didn’t have any contact with him. I was beyond scared and I needed to process what I’d been through and how I was going to live safely and move forward.

After a short period of time there were phone calls, and I allowed them, because I didn’t want to stop contact or hinder the relationship. He was their Dad after all.

I would leave the room because I didn’t want to hear his voice and he often asked them when they were coming to visit him. I never gave them definite answer to begin with because I was nervous, scared and worried that something might happen to them to spite me.

It’s a thing. Parents sometimes do things to spite the other parent. Both genders are guilty. None of it is right.

But I did keep them away to begin with because the fear was real to me.

My son said to me one day “I don’t want to talk to Dad anymore” and when I asked why he replied “Because all he does is ask about you, he doesn’t even want to know about me”

Because I would leave the vicinity of the phone I never heard their father ask my children how I was, if I was seeing anyone, if anyone had come over, when I was going out, what I was doing and the questions were obviously enough that my young son picked up on it.

When I wanted to take them on a cruise into International waters their Dad refused to sign their passports. As the departure date drew near with no sign of a passport resolution I got my kids to call him and ask why as a final desperate exasperated plea.

He told them to put me on the phone and not realising he was on speaker said “Do you want to know why I won’t sign their passports? Because if they don’t go then you don’t get to go” and hung up.

My children were devastated and it was in that moment that my worry of his level of spite felt valid.

It’s been over 7 years since the day I left and my children see their father when they choose to. I never stopped them from seeing him completely but there were times I didn’t agree to a school holiday visit because of circumstances involving drugs, violence and other undesirable events at the house that I was made aware of.

The feeling is less and less now that they’re older but was I worried he would hurt them to spite me when they visited?

Every. Single. Time.

Children of Domestic Violence. They know.

Children of Domestic Violence. They know.

I always thought I was hiding the arguments, my crying, the tension, bruises and marks from my children in the beginning.

They were too young, right?

They didn’t understand, right?

It hurts less when we think they don’t know or don’t understand.

I’d convinced myself of that.

When my ex pushed a knife towards me with my young son laying next to me in the bed I was certain he was asleep.

He didn’t move.

He didn’t flinch so he had to have been asleep.

I even wrote about the incident in my book maintaining that he was asleep.

After a family psychology session a few months ago he said quietly to me

“You know how you always thought I was asleep when Dad had the knife? I was awake. I pretended I was asleep. I remember it.” 😢

They know more than we realise.

They feel more than we think.

They understand more than we know.

Why I Stayed and where to buy it

Why I Stayed and where to buy it

True story of a Domestic Violence relationship. I once believed the only way I’d get out of my relationship was in a body bag. I wrote this book to assist my healing and to answer the question I was asked most often “Why did you stay for so long?” I hope to create awareness of abusive relationships by telling my story of how it began, why I stayed for as long as I did and what I had to do to start the healing process. It is my vision to educate some and give hope to others. This is proof that there is life after Domestic Violence

Here are some direct links or there’s an option to buy direct from me if you’re in Australia – no additional postage costs, no waiting times.

Or if you’re in Australia you can buy direct from me for AUD$15 and I’ll post it same day to you

Thank you for supporting the awareness of DV and empowerment for life after.

How to co-parent with an abuser and/or narcissist.

How to co-parent with an abuser and/or narcissist.

Children and shared custody after a mutual separation with an amicable ex-spouse can still be difficult sometimes. But with an abuser and/or narcissist it can quickly become your worst nightmare. Here are several ways to safeguard yourself and your interactions.

Your children’s best interests come first. This might be supervised visits, it might be allowing your children to make their own decision if they don’t want contact but it must be your child’s unbiased decision. If your children do want a relationship with both of their parents then it’s essential to be smart and put some guidelines into place.

Your relationship with your ex and how you feel is not the same as your children’s relationship with their parent and how they feel. Tread carefully when talking about your ex. Nothing negative. No coaching. No instilling thoughts. Your children will have their own memories that they are still processing. It is absolutely okay to engage honestly in a child led conversation but any conversation that begins with “Do you remember that time when…” is best left right alone.

If you don’t have court orders and feel they are a necessity, make an appointment with a legal advisor today. And then, follow the court orders. It is always best to follow the conditions on your court orders to the letter which includes drop off/pick up times, location and by whom. You may ask certain people (such as family members) to be excluded from the change over. If you let a little detail slide here and there you open yourself up to the conditions being disregarded and your ex playing games by being late or bringing along an extra person. “But you changed the location a month ago” is what you’ll hear instead of “I’m sorry I brought Y along despite the court order. I won’t do it again”. This is more about control and power coming into effect and the implications for later on down the track.

If an urgent issue arises such as your child disclosing something or becoming distressed leading up to a change over please seek urgent police and legal advice before making the decision to just not show up. That could quickly turn into a child abduction order.

Write down everything. EVERYTHING. It might feel like a chore to add to your day but you’ll be so grateful you did if you ever do need it in court. Conversations, what he said and she said will matter. Dates and times are essential. Facts only. If it’s not possible to write it down straight away while the memory is fresh, record it in your voice memos or on video until you can transcribe it. Whichever way you choose to do it, if you are dealing with an abuser please, please, please keep records and write it all down.

Devise a safe word or a safe phrase that you and your children can use when assistance is needed. Use something really easy and general so as not to arouse suspicion and heighten any emotions. Something like “Hey, on your way back from the shops could you grab me a Mars Bar?” If you hear your children use this phrase, call the police. If you are doing a drop off or a pick up and you message a friend with that, they will know to call the police. The key is to protect yourself and have a safety plan in place.

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t control their actions and words but you can control your own reactions and words. It’s hard but try not to buy into nasty remarks or emotionally driven comments. An abuser wants to see your reaction. They derive joy from you being flustered, upset or feeling like you’re going crazy. Try to remain calm, don’t enter into any non-child specific conversation and if you don’t feel grounded enough to do drop offs and pick ups ask for the courts to add a condition that someone else goes in your place, someone else goes in your ex’s place or someone neutral is involved instead.

And always, always remember that you are so much more than the way you’ve been made to feel and the words that have been used to hurt you. Stay safe.

How I’m trying to stop the cycle of Domestic Violence

How I’m trying to stop the cycle of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence can be a cycle. Girls who grow up with abuse are more likely to find themselves in relationships with abusers and boys who grow up with abuse are more likely to become perpetrators. It’s a case of the unhealthy narratives they’ve become accustomed to, their views and tainted understanding of what ‘normal’ relationships are.

During my abusive marriage I thought I’d hidden a lot of it from my children. After I left my abusive marriage, I realised that my children had seen, heard and felt so much more than I’d realised. I remember constantly thinking and praying. “I hope I left early enough that Domestic Violence won’t be apart of their futures”.

I hoped I had gotten out early enough that my daughter didn’t ever find herself being treated the way I was and I hoped I had left early enough that my sons didn’t think that was the way you treated someone you vowed to love and protect. Rather than sitting on my hands nervously wishing, hoping and praying, I made the decision to actively try to change their trajectory.

I’m honest with them. They have seen their father yell, rant, punch holes, grab me and I’m honest with them that his actions are not okay. I don’t belittle him by saying he’s a terrible person but I do acknowledge his actions are wrong and criminal. I have suggested to them that their father should speak to a mental health professional. That also opens the gates for me to explain how important it is to speak to a mental health professional if they find themselves struggling at any point in the future, just like I would take them to the doctor for the flu or a chest infection.

Reach out for help. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes some professional help to support a child through emotional trauma. Utilise your General Practitioner, local mental health support organisations, counsellors and child and family centres whenever you feel it to be necessary. Children who have lived in trauma may have triggers that spark huge responses, coping mechanisms for survival, unable to self regulate or various other alternate strategies that served them then but hinder them now. Do not be ashamed to seek help. It could save their lives.

I encourage my children to embrace every single one of their emotions instead of suppressing them. I acknowledge that the emotions they feel are valid. This includes anger, frustration, sadness etc but I encourage them to be proactive rather than reactive with their emotions. This means teaching them to self regulate or control their emotions. It is okay to feel angry, however, it is not okay to hurt someone or say something nasty because you are angry. You do this by role modelling to your children how to recognise, acknowledge, sit with and redirect your own emotions.

I provide healthy outlets for their anger, frustration and energy. My children have played team sport and other activities for most of their lives. It’s a physical outlet where they come into contact with other positive adult role models. They get to run, move, be active and also learn how to accept praise and support, take direction and respect their coach. My boys have found many positive male role models and my daughter other positive female role models this way.

My older sons have access to a weight bench, hand weights and various indoor gym equipment. My younger sons have access to a plastic, water filled punching bag which is in a bedroom. Before I bought the punching bag, they used a pillow effectively. I suggested screaming into it or punching it. It helped and so I bought the lightweight punching bag to add to the mix.

Again, the emphasis is on the emotion being valid but it never being okay to verbally or physically lash out at someone to redirect that emotion.

I have immersed myself in my own healing which directly and indirectly benefits them and their futures. Anne Lamott said “The most profound thing we have to offer our children is our own healing”. I practice meditation and mindfulness every day and I encourage them to as well. I have embarked on my own journey towards peace, self confidence, compassion and happiness. I’ve found our whole existence to be a little bit calmer and little more deliberate instead of just ebbing and flowing like being on the rollercoaster of life.

Above all, be kind to yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself for the past. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s what you do from here that makes the difference. We do what we feel is best at the time given our specific circumstances, situations, abilities and capabilities. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better” Maya Angelou.