Becoming a “survivor” of domestic violence

Over my ongoing personal and professional journeys through life, I am continually confronted by anecdotes from clients, friends, colleagues, and strangers who can easily identify one or more moments of abuse in their life stories. What this teaches me is the message that we live in a world with victims of abuse behind more doors than perhaps we may realise. 

Yet similarly, as the stories are shared, there is another message outstanding to me: a sense of isolation. A sense that they are alone. A sense that if they tell anyone about the abuse they will not be believed. 

 And studies show that this is not completely imagined. Research into abuse myths for example helps us to identify that social perceptions of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is tainted by misunderstandings and frankly incorrect information. Yet these myths are not only part of social thinking which can cause society to be unable to hear the victim, it causes the victim to question their own experience.

It stops the victim of abuse being able to speak about what is going on for them, because they are worried they are ‘making a big deal of nothing’ or that ‘their partner doesn’t really mean to hurt them’ or that ‘someone else has it worse so why should I complain?’. The list of reasons that women are silenced from sharing their truth is endless.
I always believe it important to consider the context that we find ourselves in, the environment that we have grown up in for example, and what messages – both clear or subtle – we are exposed to in these environments.
How often do we question the messages that we see in our day-to-day life?
Think of the adverts we see every day, everywhere we go, even at home through our television and computers.
We see a beautiful girl in barely enough clothes to keep her warm in a Caribbean summer let alone in the picturesque snowy backdrop that she’s pictured in. And looking closer… what is the advert selling?
Arctic underwear? A ‘winter bikini’ perhaps?
Oh… no. As it turns out, it’s more likely a car, or a watch, or a perfume.
We are perhaps unlikely to purchase this item.
But we are left with a message speaking to us without us necessarily realising.
The message that:
Women’s bodies are objects. Women’s lives are associated with someone else gaining something. DANGEROUS messages. 

And if we don’t stop and question these messages, where does this lead in terms of our own 
relationship with our bodies; with what our lives are meaningful for?


I give the example of a women’s body in this article as I write here for International Women’s Day 2021, yet the same can and should be identified as a real prospect for people of all genders, ages, sexualities, and backgrounds.


If I can suggest one idea for you to reflect on with this article it is this:
Your body, your life, and what you choose to do with it is your choice and your choice alone.

No matter what other people may try to use you for, no matter what has happened in the past, and no matter what you are scared about happening in the future… I can promise through my life experiences and extensive research that you are not alone and that talking about it can help.


If you are feeling uncomfortable, used, disrespected, or in pain in any area of your relationships, then sharing your experiences in a safe space can be more helpful than you may ever realise until you do.
Sharing – for example with a close friend or therapists – does not commit you to anything. It does not get anybody in trouble.
But sharing your story might save you from a life of discomfort, abuse, neglect, pain, disrespect, or suffering.
We cannot always control what has happened to us, what is happening to us. But we can do our very best to start taking control when things start to feel ‘wrong’. And if I can promise you one thing… if things feel wrong to you, they are wrong. Nothing is more real than our own truths.
If this article has made you question the safety or comfort in your own relationships, or reminded you of something you’ve noticed in the relationships of someone you’ve cared about, we warmly welcome you to give us a call at Talking Elephants.
You can contact us on 0203 488 6299 for a free initial consultation, where you will have the opportunity to discuss anything that came up for you in a genuinely non-judgemental environment.
Sometimes the first sentence is hardest to say, but in many cases, it is also the most important.