I noticed in my recent healing and counselling work that many of my clients are affected by the experience of abuse, whether they are the victims themselves or come from a family where their father mistreated their mother.
The subject of domestic abuse has been swept under the carpet and ignored by society for centuries and yet it affects far more people than we can imagine. It is found in all countries, creeds and races, and women from all backgrounds come to me suffering from emotional and physical cruelty.
The effects are long lasting and can pass down through families; as it is widespread it affects us all through our spiritual connection to each other.
Fortunately, there is a sea of change occurring and what was a forbidden subject is now appearing in the media more frequently, as women are finding the courage to step forward to tell of their experiences. In India especially, where the problem is commonplace, brave women are speaking out, although sadly, these are often met with dire personal consequences.
When an individual stands forward to highlight an injustice, it can have far reaching results: it can have a profound effect on mass consciousness—it can change the combined awareness of us all, change a cultural viewpoint and wake up the world, just as we experienced when Rosa Parks sat in the white-only section of a bus back on 1 December 1955.
After suffering something for years an individual can one day decide that enough is enough, seek help and become galvanised into action to change their circumstances. So I believe that en masse public opinion is sensing a need for change and we are now ready to put the question of abuse on the table to be examined, to be looked into, resolved and healed.
Every wounding comes as a result of our innate need to grow spiritually. We hold the intention of learning lessons and this draws towards us challenges. These challenges or life experiences often attract the cruel and unfeeling side of human nature. When we heal the wounds caused by these traumatic experiences we can often see a bigger picture—the lesson is learned and we can move forward stronger and wiser.
So what is the underlying cause of domestic abuse? What is the lesson here? What is the opportunity for change?
Underlying causes include low self-esteem, low self-value, a sense of being disempowered and lacking the will or the motivation to avoid it. Most of the women I have met felt they deserved the treatment from their husband, felt inadequate to prevent it, or, if they came from an abusive family, believed that it is the natural way for a man to treat a woman.
It is only when they resist or take avoiding action that their personal power improves and they start to feel strong. Every woman I know who has come through abusive treatment has overcome fear and survived, moved on and found previously undiscovered inner resources and strength. Without doubt their self esteem and self worth has improved.
And what of the abuser?
Ironically, men who abuse women also feel the lack of personal self-worth and potency, and are using manipulation, control and violence as a way to claim more power energy for themselves. They have found someone who is weaker than they are, someone they can control with fear and this makes them feel more powerful—if only for a time.
Of course, there are reasons for this their low self-esteem, including the expectations from self, family and society that men should be a success and win in a competitive world. Any sense of failure to succeed at work will affect his sense of manhood. Ego, one’s sense of self, is important to most men and when this is affected adversely, the result is often depression and a sense of weakness.
Another aggravating cause in modern life is the shift of balance of the male and female roles. The evolution of a woman’s traditional role from staying at home to also being a breadwinner can threaten a man’s sense of purpose. Some men find this fundamental shift very hard to accept especially in cultures where male dominance has become entrenched.
Many of my clients also say that their husbands or fathers only become violent when they have been drinking and underlying pressures, frustration and anger come to the surface.
So both sides of this issue can come from lack of personal power.
The men attack the women to feel strong and powerful, and the women submit because they feel disempowered to change the situation.
The roles can be reversed in abuse as they are in life and although cases of women abusing men are less likely to be reported, they are becoming more frequent. The true figures of the numbers involved are not likely to be seen for some time for the obvious reason that men are reluctant to make public their situation.
If you are experiencing abuse, know that public opinion is changing and it is becoming easier for you to report it without shame, whether you are a female or male victim.
Here, I’d like to share some things you can do for yourself to step away from an abusive relationship.
Four action steps to move away from abuse:
1. Set an intention to free yourself
If you are affected by abuse you can start with the intention of releasing yourself from its grip on your life. Setting an intention will kick-start your free will and give you the strength and courage you need to get away from your abuser.
2. Find help
Abusers often manipulate by fear, control of finances and freedom so you may need help to get away. There are registered charities set up to assist you and they have the professional skills to provide you with the necessary advice, counselling, healing and shelter. There is no shame in asking for help.
3. Heal the underlying imprints
Somewhere in your consciousness lurks a negative and disabling belief:
- you are not strong enough to get away
- you deserve the treatment you are receiving
- the abuse is a sign of love
- your abuser is sick and needs you
- you cannot survive without your abuser
- you are not loveable
Be honest with yourself about the belief you hold and then look to see what past experience created it. All negative imprints need acknowledging and healing; a good therapist can help you and there are many healing YouTube sessions available to help you get your healing started.
4. Create self-value
Your energy will become uplifted, your perception of yourself will alter and the way people treat you will improve as you learn to value yourself. Start by avoiding making critical comments about yourself and your body. Instead, make “I’m OK,” or something similar, your mantra.
Find aspects of yourself that you can admire and like. Start a journal and write down everything that you can do, every skill no matter how small, what makes you feel happy or fulfilled and what you do for others.
Finally, know that the criticism from your abuser is motivated to lower your resistance, keep you controlled and weak, and is not at all a true reflection of who you are.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Jamie Khoo/Editor: Travis May
Photo: Freda Nichols/Pixoto