Reaching out from a dark place
Fed up but unable to do anything to remove herself from an abusive setting, Lisa has set her sights on helping others.
She is the founder of Rise, a support group aimed specifically at females who have experienced or are experiencing emotional abuse.
It’s her experience that women in situations like hers tend to have their needs overlooked by helping agencies, most of which are designed to help battered females.
“The group is intended to be a peer support group,” she said. “It’s all about being victimised and not knowing where to go, who to tell our story to.
“I realise there are centres out there that help with abuse. I’ve been to those places and while I’m not saying my experience speaks to all of them, they seem to be entities that were formed more [to deal] with things like physical abuse.”
Verbal abuse, constant criticism, intimidation and manipulation are among the many forms emotional abuse can take, said Lisa who claims to have suffered “narcissistic neglect” from her partner.
“It’s often those with undiagnosed mental health disorders of their own who are the ones who are the abusers,” she said. “Narcissism is itself a mental health disorder. Neglect makes you feel invisible and like you’re not worthy to exist, aside from those convenient moments when you are ‘needed’.”
Added to that, her partner would frequently project “his own behaviours and traumas” on her while misrepresenting the situation to others.
“He would accuse me of secret relationships which was not remotely true, but completely true for him,” she said. “He would randomly get mad at me and say or do very hurtful things when truly it was someone else who may have hurt or bothered him but, instead of dealing with them, he directed his pain and frustrations at me.
“He played the victim to his friends and would smear my name as he would gently insinuate things or set up stories completely out of context or that truly never happened and from this, he gained their support as they would tell him to, ‘get rid of that girl’.”
The irony is that emotional abuse often leads to physical abuse, she said.
“Many of the people that come forth may very well have that story, as do I. I just want this group to feel like friends and family. [Anyone who comes] forth to be a part of Rise would likely be those that have already been victimised by this, so they would already have that understanding of the mess without needing to, unless they want to, explain in so many words what that experience looks like for them.”
Her plan is a group where members are able to reach out at any time at all that they need to release their pain, and that an agenda is created with them in mind.
“It will be based on who comes and what their needs are until we know what to add to the group,” she said. “We will even go as far as clinical help, different things like that.
“We need to see what people need. We just need to transform our abuse into a space where we can self-love and self-care.”
Rise stands for Resiliently Inspired. Strengthened and Encouraged.
“Those are all elements of what people of abuse need to have,” said Lisa, who did not want to give her real name. “The name itself has purpose and it is definitely attached to what we’re trying to do as individuals and as a support group. We’re trying to rise.
“I would like to emphasise that Rise is a journey, individually and collectively; the mission of Rise is in the name. We can and will inspire each other regardless of how many steps ahead we are personally on the healing path.
“Rise is a genuine no-judgment zone, open-mic diary per se, intended as a means for therapeutic release and holistic healing support of the mind, body and soul among peers. We have also a definite mission to establish a community awareness — there is no real mention of emotional abuse specifically — and to cause lawmakers to recognise and ‘remedy’ this mental health violation for the beast that it is.”
Her hope is that Rise ultimately becomes a “tribe” whose members benefit from “whatever avenues” that might assist.
“[We might involve] clinicians, maybe even law persons who can help us pave the way so that a [protection] avenue exists [through the courts]. I have not found in law where this is written — I know we have a Criminal Act — but there’s no real mention or focus on abuse in this way.”
• Contact Rise at email@example.com or look for Rise Tribe Bermuda on Facebook
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