Let’s build it up again & learn how to protect it... Hello my name is Darina and I am a Domestic Abuse Practitioner. My key role is to support survivors of domestic abuse and help them find the strength and power to within them to build themselves up again and move on. If I was to ask you to imagine a victim of domestic abuse what would be the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it an image of woman being beaten up, bruised, swollen lips, black eye, broken bones? Yes, many of us will imagine the same or something similar. But what about the invisible bruises, the ones that nobody can see? Most people would assume that domestic abuse is the physical part, but is it much more than that; It is name calling, shouting, constant putting down, humiliations, swearing, cruel comments and so much more. This will slowly force its way into the victim’s thoughts and the feeling of emptiness, sadness, uselessness will replace the inner beauty and confidence. Those will be broken into thousand of pieces and scattered all over until nothing is left… so, the question is can you get it back? I will be honest, YES ABSOLUTELY YOU CAN, it will be not easy, but you can make it even more beautiful than it was before…. And we are going to learn how to protect it, so it can never be taken apart again So, your confidence is not in pieces, and many of them might even be missing. But don’t worry, as we can work on this. I am sure that at some point in your life you have done a puzzle, right? So think of your confidence as puzzle that we need to build up. The image is you, the most beautiful, strong and confident that you have ever felt, like a beautiful rainbow glowing in vibrant colours. Like with any puzzle we now start sorting what we have, put the edges together, sort the colours. Imagine that every aspect of your confidence is different colour. We all know that doing puzzles take determination, persistence, trust in yourself that you can do it, and time. You need to know that is not going to be just waving wand, but that makes it more special. This is your edge/frame, and you have all the pieces, so let have a look at the other colours… Get yourself a little diary, and a pen. Every morning when you wake up the first thing you do is to look in the mirror and find something beautiful in yourself and give yourself a compliment. Do not look with the dark voice in your head that tells you all those nasty things – that voice is not there anymore, it has been silenced by the frame you just build. Look with the eyes that are searching for the missing piece. Everything else is not there… concentrate and you will find it…. it can be anything you … now write it down, and continue your day as you would normally do, reminding yourself of your find. You need to remember that no two puzzle pieces are the same, so the next day you will look for a different piece (meaning you cannot find the same compliment again) and write it down, by the end of the week you will have number of different compliments that you have written down. Bring your friend/family and share it with them out loud. And you know what, with friends looking for pieces the puzzle will go faster. Ask them to do the same, but do not share what you or them had written until the end of the week. Soon you will have the whole image completed, but you can keep expanding it as it is yours and yours only…. And now that you have worked so hard to build your picture you will need to take care of it, and protect it, so it can grow…and you need to grow with it because you are worth it. So when you ready …… There are so many aspects of relationship that nobody would be able to put it all together. Is just so complex, and unique to everybody. However, there are few themes that can be shared between them all Are there any ‘rules’ that we can follow? We can make our own rules, draw from your own experience, search in your mind for the little clues and remember … You cannot compare your relationship to somebody else, as you are not them and they are not you Movie love is not a true love Is not just butterflies in your tummy any and rainbows all the time – is working together to find the peace and feeling of home There is such a thing as too much attention or too much love. You might be in love and want to spend all the time together but this should not come at cost of your friends and family Be yourself do what you enjoy to do, as your partner should join you not restrict you Be honest, respect, trust and support. This will be hard at the beginning but sometimes you need to take a leap of faith. So, take small steps, but do not put your guard down If you not sure about something ask, seek help – do not hold it inside you Observe – how they behave when you alone and how they are when you in public Do not share too much of yourself – do not let them know where to strike Show them that you are strong, independent and that you don’t need them Those are the signs you need to be looking for, but remember the masks of perpetrator can be on very firmly and we will only know the truth about him when we are with them alone behind the closed doors….