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 💜

What is Financial Abuse?

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse is where one person attempts to control the household finances to the detriment of a spouse.

One person may restrict another person’s access to money or their means of earning money.

It is not common to see on its own but rather it occurs simultaneously as other forms of abuse (physical, verbal, mental).

Financial abuse is not “S/he holds onto my keycard because I’ve lost it 3 times so far this year!” or “I’ll have to check with my partner before I make that big ticket purchase” or “Let’s go through the budget and work out what we’ve got left after the bills…..so we’ve got $50 surplus for you to go to the markets/dinner with friends/movies this weekend”

Financial abuse sounds like:

What did you buy for $9.95 at 11.14 this morning? I thought we discussed you wouldn’t buy anything without checking with me first?

“You don’t need to get a job. I need you to stay at home for me. I’ll support you. Don’t stress about it.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about complicated things. I’ll take care of all the bills, cheques, statements and income because I love you so much.”

“You should tell me your PIN number and bank passwords since we’re official now. That’s what couples who love each other do. It’s about trust and respect.”

“Do you really need another packet of pads, razors, deodrant, panadol, socks?”

“Here’s your allowance for this week. Make sure you keep the receipts so I know where it’s going.”

Financial abuse feels like:

Needing permission before spending anything, even a couple of dollars.

Mentally adding up every dollar in the grocery store so you don’t spend too much.

Going without your own little luxuries or even essentials because it usually causes a problem.

Denying you access to your own money and refusing to give you any for food, medical care and essentials.

It is using your credit cards or accounts without your permission or hiding your car keys so you can’t get to work, harassing you at work to get you fired or accusing you of cheating with a colleague so you stop wanting to go.

What else do you know of?

Life after Domestic Violence

Life after Domestic Violence

While you’re living in fear, being controlled, degraded, assaulted, abused and isolated it can feel like a hell that will never end. Domestic Violence presents physical, emotional and mental pain that changes who you are and changes who you were going to be. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I’m out now. I’m 7 years out after being in my relationship for 14 years. And the biggest mistake I made was thinking my life would be ‘normal’ once I left. There is nothing normal about my life as I know it now. But it certainly isn’t the hell that I once endured.

Acceptance

I had to learn to accept what I lived. It happened. It was done. I couldn’t change it. Ever. I had to understand and fully accept that it wasn’t my fault nor did it have to define me. I was free to choose what happened next and what to write in my next chapter. I could make different choices on how I wanted to live my life. And then followed through with those new choices because I accepted that I could.

Professional help

Over the years I’ve engaged counsellors, psychologists, doctors, alternative practitioners, medication and lots and lots of personal development reading and support. It has been imperative in my healing journey that I spoke out loud to professionals. Not to relive my past or the traumatic events in detail but to help me gain perspective and gather my thought processes together. To help me learn and develop strategies to calm my negative thoughts, to ground myself, to be mindful and present. I allowed others to support me and hold space for me while I activated my own healing mechanisms and processes.

Healing

I had to be proactive about my healing. I had to do the work. I continue to do the work. I meditate, write, journal, rest, read, listen to my body and my inner guidance. I walk barefoot on the Earth, I exercise, I drink water. I practise self-care by booking massages and getting my hair done. I try not to feel guilty or shame myself if I eat ‘bad’ food. I say no when I need to. I take steps back from negative and toxic people around me to protect my own energy. I do what’s best for me, most of the time. I acknowledge it’s a never ending journey and I remind myself that the joy is in the journey rather than the destination.

Share your story

Silence hides violence.Tell your story. Write your story. Help yourself by helping someone else. People think they’re alone until they hear about someone else’s story. You could make a real difference and help change someone’s life by sharing your own story. You could make another human being feel seen and heard. You could spark their own power to get help and begin their healing journey. You could inspire someone else to tell their own story. There is power in the spoken word. There is great power in telling your story and being heard.

Through my acceptance, professional help, healing and sharing my story I have grown confidence and self worth I never thought I’d ever have. There is a peace and happiness inside that I never knew was possible. And I’m so grateful to be alive to use my voice and tell my story..

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.

6 ways to protect yourself after leaving an abusive relationship.

6 ways to protect yourself after leaving an abusive relationship.

Have you ever heard that saying ‘Teach your daughter to shoot because a restraining order is just a piece of paper”? Apprehended Violence Orders or AVO’s are your legal protection from someone who you believe may or will harm you and/or your children, property, pets, family members, loved ones.

Many victims of Domestic Violence have had dealings with AVO’s. Even though the Courts can impose the Order preventing the perpetrator from abusing, threatening, intimidating, molesting, harassing, contacting and approaching the victim, many will tell you an AVO is just a piece of paper and offers no real protection to an abuser who wants to get a hold of you.

A 35-year-old man was arrested in a Newcastle hospital just 2 days ago for breaching an AVO. Police were at the hospital speaking to a woman who had been admitted for treatment. While there, they stopped a man who was attempting to visit her. He was carrying a bunch of flowers and a bag. When checks revealed the woman had a current AVO against him with a condition restricting him from visiting her, he was immediately arrested. His bag was searched and two knives were located.

Newcastle police avo knives

He was taken to the local police station where he was charged with contravening Apprehended Violence Order, two counts of possessing a knife in a public place, breaching his conditional bail and refused bail. (Courtesy Newcastle City Police District)

She’s safe from him while he spends the night in custody but what happens if bail is granted at his court appearance the following day? What happens if bail wasn’t refused? What happens the police weren’t speaking to her when he attempted to approach? What if nobody was there? What do you do?

You take measures to protect yourself because unfortunately, an AVO is just a piece of paper, and paper doesn’t protect you.


Leaving home for a period of time or securing your house

I’m not an advocate of the victim ‘having’ to leave the family home when leaving an abusive relationship but I am an advocate of staying alive. You may need to stay with family or friends after escaping. You may need to go into a refuge. You may decide the safest option is to move to another location.

After escaping my relationship with police intervention and an AVO I didn’t go home for a week. I took my children to an undisclosed safe location. I did go home after a week and my house was assessed for safety and security solutions under the ‘Staying Home, Leaving Violence’ program. My house was secured with changing my locks, deadbolts, window locks, sensor lights, my electricity meter box was locked and I was given a personal alarm to carry.

Friends and family stayed overnight with me for the first few weeks so I wasn’t alone. I did move out of the house a couple of years later to a different region.

 

Tell people

Everyone who needs to know should know. Silence hides violence and wanting your privacy could get you hurt here. Tell friends, your workplace, TAFE or Uni, children’s school and anywhere you regularly frequent that you have a current AVO in place and if your abuser makes an appearance the police need to be called on sight. This is not a wait and see what happens type of event. Call 000 immediately and tell them you have an enforceable AVO and you are scared for your safety. And then make a statement for the breach of the AVO.

 

Carry your phone

I’m not ashamed to say my phone was all but glued to me. I carried my phone to the washing machine. It was always nearby. I slept with it in my hand. If he appeared, I needed to contact someone ASAP. Call 000 if you feel any sense of danger. Do not call the local police station, it is 000 in an emergency and any threat to your wellbeing is an emergency.

 

Learn self-defence

You don’t need to go and join the local boxing or karate club. If you want to go for it but if not, please at least look up on YouTube some self-defence moves. Practice punching and using your elbows and knees. Know how to get out of a wrist hold. Learn how to protect yourself so it becomes an automatic reaction in a hairy situation.

 

Change your routine

Sometimes it’s just better to just switch it up if you’re worried. Drive a different way to work/school. Park in a different section. Avoid frequently visited places. Buy your groceries from the next town over. Even if you’re not worried your abuser will come looking for you to hurt you, it won’t hurt to avoid all potential confrontations, at least in the beginning.

 

Tighten your social media settings

If you don’t want to deactivate/delete, even for a short period of time, then increase your security and privacy settings on all of your social media accounts. Make your account private, change your settings to ensure you review tags and posts before they go ‘live’, turn your location off, don’t check-in, don’t post about your intentions, plans or whereabouts. And think carefully before telling others what your plans are too because unfortunately, not everyone is your friend. Separations can be messy at the best of times and you may need to take a step back until you work on who is neutral and who is not. May victims report thinking someone was their friend only to find they were the very person feeding information and comments to their ex. Use your brain and always, always listen to your gut.

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.

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/s/Why+I+stayed+lisa+Lee

https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/why-i-stayed-lee-lisa/p/9781925993219?zsrc=go-nons&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2sjaqpe45AIVgwsrCh38sg2WEAQYASABEgJVgfD_BwE

https://www.booktopia.com.au/why-i-stayed-lee-lisa/book/9781925993219.html

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

https://www.paypal.com/webapps/shoppingcart?flowlogging_id=c150a64f427c0&mfid=1567635133808_c150a64f427c0#/checkout/openButton

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

Do you love him or….?

Do you love him or….?

After living for an extended period of time in an abusive, volatile and toxic relationship you muster the courage, enact the plan and make the decision to leave. To be free of the abuse and violence. To stop walking on eggshells. To try and remember who you are deep inside. We know it’s the right decision, the best decision to make but are often overwhelmed by the love we still have and feel for our abusers. It can be troubling, upsetting and cause you to rethink your choices and your decision to leave.  
Was it really that bad? Did I overreact? How much did I really contribute? Should I go back? Could we make it work? 
All valid questions. Only you can answer them honestly. But here are some other questions that may help you out. 
Do you love who he is or do you love who he was when you first met? 

Do you love him or do you love the idea of him? The idea of being in a relationship. The idea of having someone to come home to. The idea of travelling this journey with your partner in crime? 

Do you love him or do you wish your children lived with both parents in a complete family?  

Do you love him or are you just questioning your foggy and traumatised headspace? 
It’s okay to feel love for someone who you shared a big part of your life with. The person you created a family with. The person you imagined a beautiful future with. 
What’s not okay is being made to feel worthless. Being called names. Walking on eggshells. Living in fear. 

What’s not okay is being kicked or slapped, pushed or choked. 

What’s not okay is not feeling like you are equal partners in your relationship. Like what you say doesn’t matter. 

What’s not okay is leaving your children without a mother when he accidentally or deliberately goes too far.  
And after all of that, if you still truly love him, you need to learn to love you more. Before love kills you. 

My Story

My Story

I was 15 when I met him. It was my first relationship. I was in a pretty bad place in my young years and it felt safe and comforting to be with someone. To begin with, there were no alarms bells. No red flags. I didn’t know any different.

Gradually the name calling stepped up. So did the mental abuse in the form of telling me no one else would ever want me, making me feel useless and worthless. Blaming me for everyone that went wrong Things were always my fault. He’d tell me he wouldn’t say the things he did if I wasn’t so stupid.

And still, I didn’t know what Domestic Violence was. The term wasn’t in the media. No one spoke of it. I actually didn’t learn what Domestic Violence was until about 11 years later. I didn’t know it was a thing, I just knew it was a horrible way to live.

By the time I understood I was living in a Domestic Violence relationship, I felt stuck. I had no self-esteem, no self-confidence and after being with him since I was 15 years old, I didn’t know any other life. I was terrified of being on my own. I was terrified of being a single Mum. And I was also terrified he’d actually kill me and my family if I ever left, like he’d threatened for so many years.

Arguments got physical sometimes, but it was the mental abuse that still haunts me. I’d will him to hit me sometimes. Because in my mind the episode would be over on the spot. The arguments and screaming and blaming and threats could go on for hours. And they never let up. I wished so many times he’d just hit me or knock me out so it was over. But instead I sat in my own home constantly in fear, constantly crying, hating life, hating myself.

Bitch, whore, slut, dumb fuck. Those words have lost their meaning to me these days. But what remains is the way I was made the feel. The eggshells I walked on. The fear of setting him off or doing something wrong. Feeling like I couldn’t do anything right or that nothing I did was good enough.

It took an allegation of cheating (he believed I cheated on him with a friend on a night we went to a social function together), a whole weekend of abuse, damage to my property and then calling me on Monday morning at work, visiting my workplace, more phone calls, threats and believing he would truly kill me this time that I let a work colleague call the police. That phone call started my leaving journey. I was bundled off to the police station to give my statement and apply for an Apprehended Violence Order in between phone calls and verbal threats to myself and my property.

He was charged with intimidation and ordered not to come anywhere near me, my house or my workplace. I was petrified to begin with. My mum and friends stayed at my house constantly because I was too scared to be there on my own in case he came over. I carried my phone to the washing line and slept with my phone in my hand. I only left the house for work and to get essentials. I looked over my shoulder constantly and I wondered if the stress, fear and angst was worth it.

It’s been 7 years now since I left and the stress, fear and angst was worth it. It’s been a tremendous journey. Not without its ups and downs, good times, bad times and downright messy times. But I’m so glad I did because this is a freedom I’ve never experienced before. And it’s a very beautiful feeling.