Reclaiming Yourself from Domestic Abuse 6

KITTY NOLAN

Music

Reclaiming ourselves is an essential part of recovering from Domestic Abuse, and a central aspect of our lives is music.  From our very first days as infants we have lullabies, as we grow we sing Nursery Songs, at school we learn songs from different countries, and later we form a bond with popular music and find our favourite singer or band.  Soon, our friends introduce us to new sounds, and our taste in music broadens, and includes artists we link to our romantic relationships – these sounds become bitter-sweet, but we usually include them in our play lists.  For those of us who have experienced Domestic Abuse, music can also trigger us into states of fear and distress due the music putting us back into a situation of abuse.  One particular artist conjures this up for me, particularly because one song on her album describes a woman being beaten…

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Reclaiming Yourself from Domestic Abuse 6

Music

Reclaiming ourselves is an essential part of recovering from Domestic Abuse, and a central aspect of our lives is music.  From our very first days as infants we have lullabies, as we grow we sing Nursery Songs, at school we learn songs from different countries, and later we form a bond with popular music and find our favourite singer or band.  Soon, our friends introduce us to new sounds, and our taste in music broadens, and includes artists we link to our romantic relationships – these sounds become bitter-sweet, but we usually include them in our play lists.  For those of us who have experienced Domestic Abuse, music can also trigger us into states of fear and distress due the music putting us back into a situation of abuse.  One particular artist conjures this up for me, particularly because one song on her album describes a woman being beaten by her partner – hearing this felt like a warning, and rubbing salt in the wound.  Music that triggers us is best avoided, but sometimes that’s impossible. In those situations try to leave the music behind by changing your environment – just going outside can help, allow yourself to be with your feelings, know they will pass, and know you have left the abuse behind; you are safe!  This is self-care.

Singing and Self-Care

Music has always been part of my life because I come from a family of singers, and a culture of entertainment being provided by the company we were in.  There was a lot of chat at family gatherings instead of background music, and we all contributed in entertaining the group.  Community gatherings were the same – no microphones and ‘star’ singers; just doing your turn.  For me, then, in terms of self-care, singing is a big part of that.

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Listening to Music

In daily life, muzak seems to be everywhere, often feeling oppressive; making a conscious decision to listen to a favourite musician, or piece of music is quite different.  For me, there is nothing better, at the end of a trying day, than sitting myself down to listen to music.  I say sitting, but, in my case, it’s usually lying down!  I get my faux fur blanket and lie it on the floor, light some candles and choose the piece of music that most matches my needs – Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, Sarah McLachlan.  30 minutes of this and I’m a different person.

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Play Music

Self-care is about resting from the stresses of life, giving our mind, body, emotions, and spirit a chance to recuperate.  In our society we are conditioned to have a break when the work is done, or a holiday when our employment gives us one.  Moving on from Domestic Abuse is overwhelming and offers no space for having a break, unless we decide to give breaks to ourselves.  My next suggestion is an activity, but mindful activity can change our focus and rest our minds, that is why I include here, playing an instrument.

My guitar came with me from home when I went to college, and has traveled with me everywhere I’ve lived since.  For most of my marriage it remained in it’s case, but I returned to it when I had my own space to play it – no-one to criticise.  I taught myself most of what I know, and don’t claim to be versatile, but love to learn songs I like, and play them for myself and my children.  Playing the guitar was part of reclaiming me!  For you, it might be the piano, the violin, or the flute.

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Music and Dancing

Choosing music to move our bodies to is a great way to change our stuck mood. I love music that makes me want to move my body.  Although I would never claim to be a free style dancer,  I have been known to wiggle my hips to a jazzy tune, while draining the potatoes over the kitchen sink.  So, for your 30 minutes self-care time, try music to dance to.

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As I said before, free-flowing dance is something I find challenging.  For many of us leaving Domestic Abuse, socialising at dances and discos can be a thing of the very distant past, and the strain of abuse can leave huge amounts of tension in our bodies, making flowing movements very difficult.  My salvation came when I discovered Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms .  Her sequence of movement encourages the body to respond to 5 musical rhythms:  Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, Stillness.  The 5 Rhythms is not a performance, but a way of reconnecting with your body, when you dance alone, and also with others, when you dance in a group.  Like Yoga, Chi Gong and meditation, the 5 Rhythms is a practice, and you will find groups you can practice with, but many of us leaving Domestic Abuse do not have the time or financial resources to join groups,  and practicing on our own is what we have.  For us, here is a 5 Rhythms YouTube link to Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms music.  Listen to it first, and then have a go!

I leave you with a Gabrielle Roth quote, which I keep in mind for times when I feel stuck.

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If you’ve found this helpful, please sign up for notifications of my blog, and do share.

Sending out peace to you.

Kitty.

 

 

Domestic Abuse and the Churches

Reblogging this for the other side of the world.

KITTY NOLAN

I’m sharing this piece from Little Bird because I believe it is important to raise this issue of Faith Groups focusing on keeping marriages together at the expense of listening to the abused.  In 2011, I was involved in Scottish Women’s Aid‘s Faith Groups Forum.  We met regularly over the space of 2 years to discuss our churches response to Domestic Abuse –  if, indeed. they had one.  Apart from a few notable exceptions, we all found it extremely difficult to engage hierarchies on this subject; a typical response would be,’Oh, we don’t have that problem here!”.  The main exception to this was The Seventh Day Adventists who addressed Domestic Abuse as a worldwide body, and shared their high quality resources with the forum.  Since then the Church of Scotland has appointed a Violence Against Women worker and a team to produce a policy framework, and liturgical and practical…

View original post 112 more words

Domestic Abuse and the Churches

I’m sharing this piece from Little Bird because I believe it is important to raise this issue of Faith Groups focusing on keeping marriages together at the expense of listening to the abused.  In 2011, I was involved in Scottish Women’s Aid‘s Faith Groups Forum.  We met regularly over the space of 2 years to discuss our churches response to Domestic Abuse –  if, indeed. they had one.  Apart from a few notable exceptions, we all found it extremely difficult to engage hierarchies on this subject; a typical response would be,’Oh, we don’t have that problem here!”.  The main exception to this was The Seventh Day Adventists who addressed Domestic Abuse as a worldwide body, and shared their high quality resources with the forum.  Since then the Church of Scotland has appointed a Violence Against Women worker and a team to produce a policy framework, and liturgical and practical resources, reporting to the General Assembly this year, 2017.

My book WITNESS describes Sarah’s experience of Domestic Abuse, and how Church kept her stuck. WITNESS is available from my website and from Amazon

I leave with you the article from Little Bird

The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war. Where is the Church? The link between mass murders in […]

via Domestic Abuse…Where is the Church? — LittleBird…… Helping Abuse Victims Fly Through The Chaos

Reclaiming Yourself from Domestic Abuse 5

KITTY NOLAN

Domestic Abuse is such a weak term for what it is.  For me, the word domestic conjures up household pets, organised households, and, for my granny’s generation, service in a wealthy house; it’s also a term police used to use for a quarrel between spouses – one they did not take seriously, and rarely intervened.  Those of us who have experience domestic abuse understand the chaotic, terrifying, grinding reality.  There are many terms used to try to name this reality:

  • Gender Based Violence (GBV) – violence resulting from the perception that women are the property of men to do with as they please; this has been prevalent for millennia. GBV doesn’t capture the lived experience and feels like an academic or legal definition.
  • Domestic Abuse – reinforces the idea that women are property, conjuring up household vandalism
  • Domestic Violence – is closer to the mark because it names the violence…

View original post 466 more words

Reclaiming Yourself from Domestic Abuse 5

Domestic Abuse is such a weak term for what it is.  For me, the word domestic conjures up household pets, organised homes, and, for my granny’s generation, service in a wealthy house; it’s also a term police used to use for a quarrel between spouses – one they did not take seriously, and rarely intervened.  Those of us who have experience of domestic abuse understand the chaotic, terrifying, grinding reality.  There are many terms used to try to name this reality:

  • Gender Based Violence (GBV) – violence resulting from the perception that women are the property of men to do with as they please; this has been prevalent for millennia. GBV doesn’t capture the lived experience and feels like an academic or legal definition.
  • Domestic Abuse – reinforces the idea that women are property, conjuring up household vandalism
  • Domestic Violence – is closer to the mark because it names the violence women experience, but what about those of us who have never been assaulted, and still live in terror, with limited power over our own decisions and actions; those of us who are financially violated, like the woman who is the only earner and carer in the family with a partner who contributes nothing, but expects everything?

There’s no adequate term, so I’ve opted for Domestic Abuse because it’s an umbrella term covering all forms of power and control.  When we leave an abusive partner, we are at the greatest risk of being murdered – in the UK, 2 women a week are murdered by a former partner.  This indicates the level of stress women are under as they leave, and self-care is essential.  I remember feeling like I was being ground down juggling all the plates I was trying to keep in the air, and was often desperate for a breather.  Constant vigilance about our safety and the well-being of my children meant having a mind flooded with concerns and responsibilities; finding ways to rest from this was essential.  One activity took me back to childhood.

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Colouring

We all have experience of colouring in line drawings as children; it was a relaxing activity in a busy classroom helping us let go of our worries about spelling and mathematics, and an absorbing activity on rainy days.  How often have you, as a grown up, sat in Pizza Hut colouring in the pictures offered to the children with you?  Well, we now have special colouring books with designs for adults and they are, in my opinion, great.  They are cheap, and can take ages to complete – I usually take longer than the 15 minutes we’ve allocated!

Here is a list of reasons why colouring is good for us:

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One of the easiest ways to acquire pictures for colouring, when you are near a printer is to download them from the internet.  My favourite tool to search for anything is Pinterest.  Here are some links to save you some time:

Colouring Books for Adults

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20 Free Printable Coloring Pages

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In the Garden

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When you don’t have access to a printer, but you want to colour in, the solution is simple; take a piece of blank paper and start doodling.  Doodling is as absorbing as colouring in, and you can colour your doodle when you finish.

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How simple is that?  An easy self-care time-out for you!

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And here’s me taking my own advise!

I hope this has been helpful.  Please do comment, and share your own ideas – and don’t forget to share this blog!

Sending peace to you.

Kitty

PS.  In case you are wondering – I’ve used both the British spelling of colour, and the American spelling of color because I am from the UK and the links are from both countries.

 

Ways to Reclaim Yourself from Domestic Abuse 4

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It’s the end of the day, children are in bed, and there is a pile of ironing to do before tomorrow.  You are drained from a day at work, activities with the children, and you know you have a meeting with your lawyer tomorrow.  You split from your abusive husband three months ago, and he has moved in with his latest girlfriend.  He returns to the family home regularly to see the children, sometimes these visits end up in an argument, but you know he won’t stay.  You know he hasn’t been responding to lawyers letters about the divorce, but you are determined to move things along as quickly as possible, because you want your own space, and your husband has right of access to the family home until you are divorced.  Do you do the ironing and plan questions for tomorrow’s meeting, or do you take some time out for yourself?  Please take time out for yourself!

Call a Friend

It’s time to sit down and call someone you are close with; your best friend, your sister, a neighbour, or a friend far away.  You can phone, email, Skype or FaceTime, depending on how you feel.

I well recall the difficulty I had picking up the phone to chat when I was feeling overwhelmed.  Abusive relationships can leave us feeling isolated, and worthless – I didn’t have anything interesting to say, so why would anyone want to listen to me? This question is one of many falsehoods absorbed from our abusers.  They didn’t want to listen to us, and didn’t want us having friends who did.  They would belittle our friends and question their motives, but we need to listen to ourselves and pay attention to the connection that brought us together with our friends.

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We all have intuition, it’s not magic; it’s a way for us to know what is right for us.  Being in a relationship with an abuser strips back intuition, because the ground below us keeps shifting, and we are constantly responding to crises – we don’t have the space to listen to our own inner voice.  Now, in a space free of abuse, we can reclaim that intuition, and decide who it feels good to call, and pick up the phone.  Friends, sisters, aunts, will be thrilled to hear from you, and happy to share their news too.  We want to make this a time to relax, and feed our inner selves, so think about what you want to say before keying in the number; this gives the opportunity to lead the conversation in a positive direction. There can be much to share with trusted people about the aftermath of an abusive relationship, including the legal and financial elements – you probably don’t want every conversation to be about this, though.  I had an aunt who became a parent figure when, as a young adult, my parents died ; she was amazing, always letting me decide what I wanted to share at any given time.

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FaceTime and Skype are ways to have video calls with friends and family, and a good way to stay in more personal touch with those you don’t see often.  Obviously it depends on who you are contacting; my aunt wouldn’t have known what to do on a video call!  I don’t do it enough, partly because I dislike how I look on the screen!  I’m always happy to see the person I am calling, but, because of the position of the camera on my laptop, I look like I have 3 chins, and don’t recognise myself, which I find distracting – I keep trying to alter my position!  I’m middle-aged, and late to the ball;  I know younger folk are much more at home with this form of contact.

When contacting friends and family overseas, I prefer email for letters, and Facebook for quick messages.  We want to spend some quality time, so I find email is the way to go – I like the anticipation of a response, too.

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(This picture is clearly not me; I never have time to do my nails!)

During the most difficult times in my divorce, my closest friend was living overseas.  I remember the mixed feelings I had about her family moving away for two years.  I was excited about the opportunities for them, but had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because I wouldn’t see her for so long.  As it happened, we were in constant touch by email, and the occasional phone call.  We instinctively knew when the other was having a difficult time, and we would be in contact.  Her letters were full of detail about her experiences in her new country; I loved hearing about her adventures with her children. I kept her in touch with what was happening in my life and with home; my letters helped her feel connected.  Even in our most turbulent times, we have stories to tell, and something to give to others.

Remember, don’t let fear keep you from staying in contact with those you care about, and care about you.

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I hope this post has been helpful; if so please share with your friends.  I look forward to hearing your responses, and suggestions.

Sending out peace to you.