12 months seems like a long time to help a woman to safety from domestic violence but it’s not. Not when abuse has existed in their families for years, even decades.
As a caseworker, it’s my job to do everything to help break this cycle. In some cases it can take years, in other’s, when a woman is ready, it can take as little as a meaningful conversation.
Like with Sally*.
I worked with Sally for three months. She had experienced a lot of adversity and abuse during her childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. She experienced violence from the people who were supposed to love and care for her the most- her father, brothers and partners.
It’s fair to say a day in the life of Sally was physically and mentally exhausting. But there was something about her that kept her going. She now had five children of her own and wanted a change.
One day I visited her at her home. She took me outside and we sat in the garden under some trees.
I had brought along a document named “The Power and Control Wheel”. This was the kind of document that identified the various types of abuse including coercion and control, emotional abuse, intimidation, financial abuse, male privilege, the use of children and manipulation and minimisation.
While Sally shared her experience, I highlighted parts relating to her story. By the end of the session, 95% of the document was highlighted.
I held it up and showed it to her. Sally’s eyes went wide.
She was shocked when she saw that most of the document had been coloured in. She couldn’t believe she had been experiencing most forms of violence in her relationship. And that the emotional abuse was what was really hurting. In that light bulb moment of hers, I knew I had done my job well.
It’s hard to measure those light bulb moments. Often times like these are very personal and subjective, making it difficult to put it down to a stat or an ‘outcome’. But Sally was very articulate and mentioned that she is more aware of what domestic violence consists of and that she holds the information and knowledge she gained during our session very close to her heart.
She is hoping she can influence change and raise awareness within her friendship group and community about domestic violence and that it does not always have to be physical.
That day I saw Sally’s inner self change. She was finally able to be herself again. She told me she felt empowered, confident and that she had reclaimed her voice.
This is what makes my job very special and gratifying. Women empowering women.
*Sally’s name has been changed for privacy purposes.
Blog by Sophie.
Image via Canva.