Experts in domestic abuse talk about the ‘lightbulb moment’; when victims realise that they are indeed a victim of domestic abuse.
Because domestic abuse often consists of more subtle and controlling behaviour rather than the more obvious physical abuse, it can be hard to spot – especially when you are the person in the relationship. The warning signs may be there but you may choose to ignore them or justify your partner’s behaviour until you reach the point where enough is enough and something ‘clicks’ – the ‘lightbulb moment’ and you see it for what it is – abuse. For some victims this process can happen quickly, for others it can take years. for others it will happen and then they will slip back as leaving seems more difficult than staying. It is not an easy or simple thing to just ‘get up and leave’ an abuser.
What do I do now? I’ve had my lightbulb moment!
There are a range of options. Obviously if you feel you are in any danger or your children are at risk you should call the police. The Police are more aware of domestic abuse these days and have a range of measures at their disposal so please don’t hesitate to call them if needed.
Two women die every week in the UK due to domestic abuse, so if you are worried for your safety don’t hesitate to call 999.
Think carefully. Take stock.
Before making any decisions it is important that you get some advice from independent professionals trained in domestic abuse. This is important as if you choose to leave the relationship this can actually be a very risky time. It’s vital that you do this safely. Even if you choose to remain with your partner it is important that you understand any risks and also explore the options available to you. Domestic abuse thrives on lies, isolation and fear. You may find that you do have more Rights than you thought and there may be more options open to you than you realised.
When I had my lightbulb moment I reacted to it immediately and threw my husband out. Fortunately there was no further abuse as I found out that he was up to his neck in lies, deceit and debt (he also left me in debt) He seized the opportunity to run away from myself and the children. However, others may not be so lucky and a rash decision could lead to further violence.Alyson, Berkshire
What’s an IDVA I hear you say? IDVA’s are Independent Domestic Violence Advocates – they are the experts in supporting high risk victims of domestic abuse. IDVA’s tend to be based within local domestic abuse Charitable organisations like those affiliated to Women’s Aid. They may be based in a specialist hub, in police stations, in hospital or in Court. They have extensive professional training and expertise in assessing risk, managing safety and speaking up for victims. All their support is confidential and it is FREE!
The IDVA’s focus is on making the victim safe as quickly as possible and then putting all the support in place to help them move forwards. They are not there to tell you whether to end your relationship or not – that has to be your choice, but either way they can help keep you safe. They’ll help you explore all the different options available to you and can help you access free legal advice, financial advice, housing options advice as well as a range of practical help. They can help you understand the dynamics of your relationship and help you recognise tactics of abuse. They can go with you to Court to obtain Court Orders to protect you and your children and will offer emotional support and to help you through this tough time – their focus is on YOU.
Further information and resources
To find out where your IDVA service is simply ‘Google’ domestic abuse support in your area, look on your local Council website or call the National DV Helpline: 0808 2000 247
For Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead or South Buckinghamshire, this is: The Dash Charity Tel: 01753 549865 or got to: https://www.thedashcharity.org.uk
Online Advice for domestic abuse
Knowledge is power! Educating yourself when you’ve had your lightbulb moment, can help you feel more confident about making decisions. There is lots of advice online now, so have a browse. Most professional websites also have a ‘cover your tracks’ button too to help you keep safe online and Women’s Aid website has a ‘Survivors Forum’ where you can post questions and seek advice.
Coaching – leaving an abusive relationship
If you are in an abusive relationship or have had your lightbulb recently left, it is important that your safety comes first. Having a Coach that understands risk is essential as situations change and risk fluctuates. Leaving an abusive relationship can be tough. There are still emotional ties and abusers will often try different ways to persuade you to return.
Did you know it takes an average of 8 times before someone leaves their abuser for good? All the ‘other stuff’ such as who gets what financially, the nitty gritty detail about who lives where, etc. can be sorted out later.
A Coach can help you explore your relationship, how this impacts on you and help talk you through the options and choices you have. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’.
A coach will motivate you by setting small achievable goals
Coaches are great for motivation, keeping you strong and empowering you to make the changes you want to make. If you have been in an abusive relationship your confidence is likely to be low. Having a mentor, someone who ‘gets it’, who can answer your questions, offer explanations and keep you moving forwards can really help. Coaches can help you work on short-term and long-term goals – they all have individual approaches so find the Coach that is right for you. Friends and family can be great supporters but they don’t necessarily have all the answers and often advice can be confusing. Speaking openly and honestly with someone who is independent can really help. You can achieve lightbulb moments in other, more positive areas of your life.
There is a charge for Coaching services, and these vary, but it is completely bespoke. So, whether you want just one session or more regular sessions, it is completely up to you.
Written by Caron Kipping – she is a trained IDVA, trained on all aspects of domestic abuse and Freedom Programme facilitator.
Caron also took part in the BAFTA nominated BBC Documentary ‘Behind Closed Doors’ which followed 3 women through their personal journey and demonstrated the impact of coercive control. To watch, click here
She supports clients across the UK – find her in The Hug Directory