Domestic Violence and Adventure 3

Two years ago today -the 16th of July was the night I thought that I was going to be killed. It was the night where not only my life was drastically changed but also my whole family’s life. The night where the incident took place. For majority of my life my mother’s now ex was abusive. For 14 years I watched my mother get beaten up constantly, I watched my older brothers get hurt and get put down and then myself get hurt and put down. For majority of my life I thought I wasn’t good enough, that everything that took place was because of me. I remember there would be many nights where my two older brothers would put me and my baby brother into my room with myself screaming, scared to death that my mum was going to be killed by the hands of this man as my two older brothers would be trying to stop the fight. I lived in constant fear of being killed while I’m asleep which then resulted in myself having sleep problems and anxiety. This nightmare I lived in, I was not allowed to tell anyone otherwise I would have been taken away from my family and I did not want that, I didn’t want to leave my mum and my brothers. 

Fast forward to 2 years ago to the year 2016. I was already struggling with major depression and had been for a few years, I was also highly suicidal and self harmed constantly. I was in year 11, I had started a new school and was doing VCE and if you’re not from Victoria, Australia then I don’t know how else to describe what VCE is. I was very stressed out with it all, all the studying, travel and my mum and her ex were separating so I knew I would need to be there to help mum out so I decided to drop out and start TAFE halfway through the year. I was excited and thought everything was going to improve but little did I know I had only been at TAFE for about a week when this particular incident took place. There was an argument between my mum and him about me. So me being me, I like to defend myself and stand up for my family so I did. Filled with rage I told him that he was a bad father (instead of saying bad I said another word if you get what I mean) and he lost it and jumped at me. At the same time as being choked to the point where I couldn’t breathe I was also getting punched in the head repeatedly. “This is how I’m going to die”, “This is it”, “I’m going to die”, were the thoughts going on in my mind. My mum and 3 little brothers were all trying to get him off me. To say I was scared is an understatement, I was more afraid for my little brothers to see this happening, for them to witness this. I tried so hard to protect them from what their dad was capable of and I failed. There was a split second where he didn’t have a grip on me and without thinking I ran, I got my shoes, my wallet and my phone and ran outside to the front. To this day I don’t know how I was able to do that apart from the evident by the grace of God. I was in hysterics as I called the police then proceeded to call my dad to tell him what was happening. The thought of it being my fault didn’t occur to me until someone in my family told me that it was. So then that thought played in my mind for months and months and months. “I deserved it”, “he should have killed me”, “I’m the worst person in the world”, “I messed up my family”, were just some of the thoughts that were going on in my mind constantly. So as I mentioned before I was already suffering with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self harm so everything heightened.

I didn’t understand why God wanted me in this world and what His plans were for me. I had to see a counselor at TAFE all the time, he helped me through so much and gave me strategies to help me with PTSD, sleeping, self harm and just everything that I was going through. It took me a while for me to open up to him and be able to tell him what fully happened without having a panic attack. He only could go off what he read from the statement I made to the police. I had turned to alcohol and smoking to get me through everyday along with self harm. I was at my lowest point, I couldn’t fall further even if I tried. I would go into these episodes of punching walls (including brick walls), smashing glass photo frames or anything that had anything to do with him. 

I didn’t know how much growing up in a house where domestic violence took place impacted on my mental health until a few months ago. I didn’t realise how much it has changed the way I think and do things. It’s been such a long journey to get to a place where I am at now and I wouldn’t be here without God and His love for me. During the time that I haven’t been writing my blogs, I’ve been learning so much about myself and how my brain has been wired. I thought it was normal for me to be scared to sleep because I thought I was going to be killed, I thought it was normal for the way I reacted towards people and I thought it was normal for the way I processed things. I live in this constant state of wanting to please people because I’m scared that if I don’t please people, myself or someone close to me is going to get hurt. There’s just so many things that I’m realising with the help of a Christian counselor I’m learning to retrain my brain into new ways, into what God says about me and the truth about myself. A few months ago I was spending time with God, I may have mentioned it in one of my blogs but I knew that I needed to forgive. I needed to forgive this person for the abuse and the impact it had on my life. I had to forgive just as Jesus forgave us. Jesus who died on the cross so we could be forgiven, so we could be made whole. As Jesus hung on the cross He yelled “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”, Jesus was beaten, He was hurt, people lied about Him, He was betrayed. He suffered yet forgave and tells us to do the same. I know it isn’t as simple as just saying you forgive someone but you really have to feel at peace about it as well – if that makes sense? It wasn’t until I forgave him I could finally be free from my anxiety attacks that constantly happened, I could just be free from the hurt that I was taking out on myself. Forgiveness does more for yourself then anybody else. 

I never really completely understood the damage Domestic/ Family Violence can do to a child’s brain that is still developing until I’ve been noticing things about my little brothers and myself. Even if the child isn’t getting hurt, the damage it does is shocking. I found a website that had the impacts domestic violence has on children and youth.

How domestic violence impacts on children

  • Poor concentration

  • Aggression, hyperactivity, disobedience

  • Disturbed sleep, nightmares

  • Withdrawal, low self-esteem

  • Showing no emotion (‘spaced out’)

  • Always on edge, wary

  • Fantasise about normal home life

  • Pessimism about the future

  • Physical symptoms 

How domestic violence impacts on young people

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Withdrawal

  • Abuse of parents

  • Take on a caretaker role prematurely, trying to protect their mother

  • Poorly developed communication skills

  • Parent-child conflict

  • Enter marriage or a relationship early to escape the family home

  • Embarrassed about family

  • Shame

  • Poor self-image

  • Eating disorders

  • Low academic achievement

  • Dropping out from school

  • Low self-esteem

  • Staying away from home

  • Leaving home early

  • Running away from home

  • Feeling isolated from others

  • Violent outbursts

  • Participating in dangerous risk-taking behaviours to impress peers

  • Alcohol and substance abuse

  • Difficulty communicating feelings

  • Nightmares

  • Experiencing violence in their own dating relationships

  • Physical injuries when they try to intervene to protect mother

  • Suicide 

 

I know for myself, it could be different to many other people that has experienced similar things, but I can pretty much say that each of the dot points I can relate to and have experience/dealt with. The only way I have been able to come out to the other side is by talking to someone- a professional that way you can have better advice and support, God and having some people around me that keep me in check. God hasn’t created us to be alone so it’s really important to have a close knit of people that are there to support you and love you in every circumstance you find yourself in. It’s been one of my lifetime struggle to trust people so I’ve been really working hard to really trust (even my closest friends) and let them in to my mind and the things I’m struggling with but I know how important it is as I’ve seen the effect it has when you isolate yourself. 


Adventure 3

This past week I have been in Sydney Australia for Hillsong Conference which was amazing and just something I really needed to get me back on track. My favourite preacher Steven Furtick was also there which was an incredible experience to hear him preach in person rather than over social media. Everyone that spoke really spoke to me and the things I’ve been facing these past few months, I had so many God encounters and answered prayers which was awesome. A lot of the preaching that stood out to me was about identity which is something I’ve been learning in my internship and has been something I’ve been struggling with my whole life. Being told I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not popular enough, just being spoken down to my whole life it’s been so hard to really grasp who I really am and what God speaks over me and just soaking up God’s presence the past week constantly it finally clicked, I finally was able to let it in my heart. I am no longer in bondage, no longer in chains to my old self to who I was before Christ, the chains are finally broken. It all happened at the cross.
“When I see that cross, I see freedom
When I see that grave, I’ll see Jesus
And from death to life, I will sing Your praise
In the wonder of Your grace” Grace to Grace, Hillsong Worship

This is just a bit of what I have learnt this past week.
Having the right perspective of God changes the way you think, behave and belief. The more you focus on Him and His Grace the more you become like Him. The more you focus on sin and focus on bad things, you will sin and do bad things. We need to be confident in Christ and what He has for you. We need to do a better job at being confident in who we are because that’s who God made us to be, He made us in His likeness but not be confident in us but in Him. We can never apologise for the gifts God gave us. You can’t live in fear and faith, they both do not coexist together so we can’t let our faith become so fragile. We need to stand firm in the confidence of what happened on the cross. Our sin is covered and done, we need to stand on the ground of righteousness. We need to be close to God and not be afraid to get in the presence of the great I Am. Just like the person with leprocy in Mark 1:40, he wasn’t afraid of going up to Jesus because he knew that just one touch from Jesus -He can make him whole. Even though in those times if you had leprocy you had to shout unclean to everyone and have to be in a certain distance from people, you have to be isolated. This man risked it all, he risked rejection, he risked everything just to get that one touch from Jesus.
‘Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean! ‘ We all have issues but we can’t hide and isolate ourselves, we need to continuously seek His presence. Keep on praising Jesus, even when you don’t feel like it because you could be one praise away from your breakthrough. Never let the devil or your circumstance get in your way of worship. What you do in your lowest shows what you will do in your highest. There is more inside of you. Jacob got a new identity from God. We are worthy of everything that God places in our lives. We do not need to be afraid, we have authority to speak to storms, to speak to things that don’t belong in our lives and tell it to leave. Our identity is in our faith, we have to come expectant in His presence and to be open to receive. There will always be giants, storms and opposition but God will bring us through it but we can’t lose confidence in God and the authority God gave us. We cannot let the enemy rob us of our voice. 

It was such a great week to get out of Melbourne and enjoy the sun and being with such great people, eating junk food and just living life to the fullest. I met new friends who are such incredible Godly people and can’t wait to see them all again soon. My friends and I did touristy things that everybody does when they go to Sydney which I will include a few photos of. 

I can promise you that there is more for you, that it is going to be okay and that there’s hope. You are not alone in your struggles and you have been made with a purpose. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want the link to read about what domestic violence can do to children here it is:
http://www.domesticviolence.com.au/pages/impact-of-domestic-violence-children-and-young-people.php

 

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