Paving the way for new beginnings
Story by Jade McAtamney – Domestic Abuse & Refuge Manager
Over the years, I’ve witnessed the internal struggles of so many women who are trying so hard to understand the trauma they’ve been through.
They often ask questions like “why did I behave like that?”, “why do I go from abusive relationship to abusive relationship?”, “how did I miss the signs?” and the hardest one to hear, “was it my fault?”.
Sometimes, there are no logical answers to the questions, which can be crushing and hard to accept. At Llamau, we work hard to make sure women feel safe in their surroundings, giving them the time and space to explore their experiences and begin the journey of moving on from them.
Just like the women we support, we’re also on a journey at Llamau. Abuse has changed over the years, so we’ve changed too. Since 2018, we’ve identified a steady increase in the number of women seeking help with abusive behaviours like stalking and revenge porn. We’re also supporting more women from same sex relationships, different cultures and religions and women who’ve experienced abuse from family members.
Regardless of how different one woman is from another, they have more in common than they realise, such as low self-worth and a feeling that all they deserve is abuse, sometimes resulting in ongoing harmful behaviours that jeopardise their safety. The women we support at Llamau are often plagued with thoughts that what they’ve been through is their own fault. In some cases that’s because they are openly blamed for the abuse they’ve suffered and in others it’s because it’s all they’ve ever known. We recognise and address these feelings women talk to us about and aim to turn the tables on victim blaming through our ‘New Beginnings’ programme.
The programme focuses on helping women to understand the psychology behind abuse and why people (including themselves) behave the way they do. The programme highlights how perpetrators will perceive and use certain behaviours displayed by women to their advantage, but perhaps most importantly, the programme aims to help women answer their own questions and be confident in the knowledge that the abuse was not their fault.
This sort of group work is a crucial part of our support at Llamau. Not only does it help women to understand what has happened to them and help them to keep themselves safe in the future, it also gives them the chance to build connections with other women who have had similar experiences. It’s these connections which last long beyond our support and play such a huge role in ensuring they go on to live lives free from abuse.
Stories you may like…
Last year we supported over 400 women through targeted Group Work with over 95% reporting that they better understood healthy relationships and felt safer as a result.