I survived domestic violence and I write this now as a 30 year old- 10 years on. My journey has been far from easy, it's been lonely and I felt ashamed. Since the day I walked away, my fight back to normality began. I was out of the abuse, but the mark on me over the next 10 years has been far greater than what I could imagine it would have been.
To succeed in all areas of life, we must have self-love, self-belief and confidence. Without this, we will never achieve our true potential and continue to be set back at every challenge that comes our way.
With my self esteem at an all time low, I had been on the brink of failing my degree and isolating myself from my family. The impact on my mental health left me suicidal and on the brink of wanting to end my life on so many occasions. Every aspect of my life was falling apart. I continued in abusive relationships (emotional and physical)- not knowing any different, and not being able to spot the signs. Actually, I couldn't recognise the signs. Seeing people I knew in happy, stable relationships was foreign to me. I never knew what it felt like to be loved and be kept safe. No name calling, no punches, no put downs, no cheating. Recovering from the relationship was like getting over a drug addiction. With the highs after the literal 'hits' providing me with the validation and love he made me crave from him. The night he tried to end my life by throwing me off a balcony, I will never forget. Despite the years that have passed, the memory remains at the front of my mind. From the punches and kicks in my rib cage, to the spitting on me and pulling me by my hair across the floor. To the feeling of utter helplessness that I would die at his hands. To the voice in my head saying 'don't fight back, just let it happen, you are nothing without him.' In fact, I continued to be abused in my next relationships.
This is a small part of my story I have shared, a story with so many more layers and chapters to it, a story that has shaped me, but it didn't break me. Now at 30, I have an almighty sadness inside me that the abuse prevented me from reaching my true potential.
Gender based violence and discrimination happens in all forms and still prevails to this day, effecting women all around the world. I now want to use my story to effect change. Arla represents strength. In my moments of sheer darkness, I would often repeat the words "I am strong, I am loved, I am beautiful" to help get through feeling suicidal. These words embody that. I want to empower women of all ages with the skills, tools, support and guidance to thrive from their story and stamp out the long-term effects of abuse.
Welcome to I am Arla.