Tue | Jan 15, 2019

Life after domestic abuse

Published:Saturday | April 21, 2018 | 12:09 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

Mandeville, Manchester:

Behind the exquisite outfits, the lipstick, the smiles, the palatial houses and the life portrayed, are women who are suffering in silence at the hands of their partners, for reasons known, unknown and unimaginable.

There are those women who have remained, while others have mustered the courage to leave but are still suffering.

Psychotherapist and social worker, Marie Sparkes, who recently presented at the Made in Manchester Women's Summit, said there are endless possibilities of freedom when that one step is made.

"On our journey we all find obstacles, but our obstacles don't define us. What defines us is our ability to overcome and transform our lives. When someone comes into our lives and hurts us, it is crippling; it puts something in your way that is insurmountable. But the place that we want to get to in our lives is obtainable."

She said help can come in various forms through various individuals but 'what we have to do is be prepared to commit to that journey we aspire to get to'.

A face of domestic violence, and educator, Althea Laing, who also presented at the summit, said this situation is unique to no one.

"Some people think domestic abuse happens in the lower echelons of society, but there are so many women who are middle income or a part of the upper strata (of society) and they are feeling it. These women are hurting, pretending, and it's time we pull the veil our their faces and say, 'In spite of what we go through, time is up, I'm moving on. I have been there done that and now I am moving forward'."

In relating her story to the group of women present, she said the letting go process will take time, but only intentional efforts will cause success.

"I remember the Saturday night I slept with my husband, but I knew the Sunday morning I would be leaving and as I was leaving my husband said, 'You are a wicked woman'. I lived in a beautiful house; I would fly to Miami and do whatever I wanted to do, but that did not satisfy me. I was in a situation that was being cowed down. To the hurting woman, it doesn't matter, you can leave at 50 or 60 (years): all that matters is that youhave you."

Professor at the University of Technology, Rosalea Hamilton, a panellist at the summit, explained that domestic violence is not just physical, but spawns from list of incongruities within a relationship.

"When we think about domestic violence, we tend to think about the physical, but there is the emotional, the psychological, the spiritual and the financial abuse. Domestic violence is really about control."

She further acknowledged that all hope is never lost and there is a way to get help if this is your reality.

"I think women have to do much more supporting for each other. There are many organisations out there that are doing work in this pace and you can get help. But I want us to see it as an obligation to help each other; seeing it as our civic responsibility is how to get to that place."

Sparkes and Laing later injected a few major keys for women who have, through their ordeal, had diagnosis of mental illness.

"You are not mad ladies! Go to a psychiatrist, talk to them, open up your heart and cry because sometimes the other people you will go to - sometimes members of your family - they will use what you have told them against you," said Laing.

Sparkes reminded ladies who have been diagnosed with mental conditions that these are not labels placed on them, but descriptions that can become nonexistent.

It was a general consensus among the ladies that giving and seeking forgiveness and embracing self-love are proven ways to live a life of happiness after the obstacle that is domestic abuse.