Ask Me, freedom from coercive control

Posted on May 30, 2017 in Healing, Spiritual living

Duluth power and control wheelFor the last couple of days I’ve been on a pilot training course to become one of the first Ask Me Ambassadors, whose role is to raise awareness and understanding of domestic abuse within my community and to act as a signpost to practical, professional support for those within it who are seeking help.

It’s a subject that is very dear to my heart, having experienced coercive control which involved psychological and emotional abuse within a relationship myself. We’ve come a long way since the days of so-called “wife-battering” in that the law and the authorities now recognise the diverse range and horrendous impact of the many forms of abuse that can be perpetrated within intimate, family relationships (and not just between romantic partners). Essentially, the law supports the right of everyone to live free from fear and harm, and the infringing of those rights is seen accurately as abuse.

What is very sad, and frightening, is that many of those who are survivors of coercive control (and 84% of those who experience domestic abuse are women) don’t recognise what is happening to them as abuse, and wouldn’t describe it as such themselves. I confess that I didn’t understand the full extent of my own experience until after it was over, and even during this recent course I was newly shocked at how many of the segments I could tick off on the Duluth power and control wheel I’ve included on the right (just click on it to get a better view).

I know this absence of alarm bell signals has several contributing factors, including the subtle way a perpetrator will introduce control into a relationship, gradually escalating it over time, and how at first the behaviour can appear so readily to be a demonstration of abundant and protective love and care (often accompanied by words to that effect). And I want to make it clear up front – abuse is NEVER the fault of the survivor, and abusive behaviour is never excusable. But it has got me thinking because as an energy healer, my passion is to champion self-awareness and empower people to prevent dis-ease of any kind in preference to dealing with the aftermath of trauma and suffering.

There is clearly a need to improve discernment, and young girls in particular need to learn some essential skills of self-respect and self-honouring, and understand what healthy boundaries are and how to maintain them. We were told by our course facilitators that in a survey by a magazine for teenage girls, the majority thought that it was absolutely fine for a boyfriend to tell them what to wear (seeing it as an indication that he cared about their appearance). Don’t you find that incredibly scary?

I asked specifically about this, and at the time of writing here in Wales there are a couple of programmes aimed at raising awareness of domestic abuse and supporting survivors in primary and high schools (the Freedom and Brave projects) which is fantastic. However, it is also and primarily our responsibility as parents to teach our daughters and sons about what is acceptable and not, what we’re all entitled to, and how you can make sure you uphold those rights for yourself and others in human relationships. Only when you know what appropriate looks and feels like can you perceive when things are not. If I’d been educated in this way, I’m fairly sure I would have caught the signs sooner, before the drip, drip, drip of perpetrator repetition had worn me down and warped my own understanding of what was happening to me.

My sons are grown and living their own lives now, but I’ll be having conversations with them about this for the sake of their own children when they arrive too. If you haven’t thought about this subject before or raised it with your children, I urge you to do so now with my whole heart. Two women a week are killed by their partner or ex partner, and 1 in 7 children and young people under the age of 18 will have had some experience of domestic abuse in their childhood. There is no discrimination or social differentiation that excludes you – it can happen to any woman or man of any culture, background, education or social status. This subject needs to be talked about, so it can be dragged out of the shadows of guilt, shame and victim-blaming. Let’s teach and enable our children to love and respect themselves so that they can gift that love and respect within all their relationships, present and future.

If you’re experiencing any of the behaviour shown on the Duluth power wheel, or you’re concerned about someone you know who is, you can get help and advice 24 hours a day in the UK by calling the Live Fear Free Helpline: 0808 80 10 800.

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Semele Xerri

Semele Xerri is a psychic intuitive healer, animal communicator, and Reiki Master Teacher. To find out more about her and her services, go to her Work with me page.

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