Our first shared story!

My story started with a couple of dates and an amazing connection!
After talking to each other for hours while sharing a pizza, I realized how much we actually had in common. Since that first date we were seeing each other more and more and our feelings for each other started growing by the day. The turning point where as well the mental manipulation started, was when he came clean to me about him having cheated on his ex. Of course, it was shocking to me and I didn’t expect it from him, but it as well gave me a lot of trust in his honesty.

But after this, the more we were working towards a serious relationship, the more jealous he became of me. He kept asking about my intentions with certain male co-workers and asked me to put my social media accounts on private. For me this really wasn’t a big deal at that time if that made him feel better about the relationship. But these kinds of situations kept happening and eventually he asked for the code of my phone, again I had nothing to hide so I didn’t really care about giving it to him. After he got the code of my phone he had read and deleted all messages in my phone that I have ever had with guys. He told me what he did and I became so angry and wanted to lash out about how this behaviour was unacceptable, but at that time we were on a holiday with my family and he knew I wouldn’t cause drama with other people being there. Now that I am out of this relationship, he obviously knew during that holiday he basically could do anything without me putting him back into place. During this holiday he as well secretly took nude pictures of me when I had gotten out of the shower, which I figured out myself a while later. From this confrontation onward, the fights have gotten bigger and unfortunately as well physical. He absolutely couldn’t control his anger and took it out on our furniture, but the week after it was my turn…For me it felt so surrealistic, because to the outside world and in public he was this perfect decent guy but behind closed doors he was a monster. In my head I started comparing it with and angelic and devilish side. After every fight or anger outbreak he always started crying and apologising saying he needed help and didn’t know how to stop this. Something a lot of people struggle to understand is how much mental manipulation went on before the actual danger started. You are literally brainwashed. It is like every time he breaks you down and replaces a piece of you with a piece of him, and at some point, you don’t even recognise yourself anymore.

Anyways, I really loved him and wanted to help him control himself, and even offered to join him to therapy sessions that he promised to undertake. Of course, this never happened at all and I began to realize that I was sort of stuck in this relationship and had no clue how to get out in a save way. I started noticing this clearly, when as soon as we had a fight all I did was trying not to say anything to upset him and look for ways to escape. Living became surviving.
During this time, I was staying at his place a lot, I even had to go clubbing with him and his friends because I absolutely wasn’t allowed to do this with my friends anymore, while he thought my friends were stupid. There was this one situation that I remember vividly, where I was with him and his friends and I wanted to meet my friend. He didn’t allow it but I pushed through and got very angry again! A girl that was with one of his friends took me to the side and asked me if he hurted me physically in any way, I nodded my head... This felt sooo empowering and I told two of his other friends as well. They told me that they heard this story before from the girl before me but that at that time they didn’t took it serious but now they absolutely will. After he figured I started telling people, causing the violence not to be a secret anymore, he started to become super sweet to me. Even though I shouldn’t have done it, I still went home with him after this incident. I really think that during our relationship his mom and sister were very aware of what he did as well. His mom continuously asked if our relationship was going well, and then she started talking about that his dad was violent to her when they still were together.

After another fight where he pushed me so hard against the bathroom wall that I felt like I had to scratch him in order to escape and be save, he followed me into the room and ripped of my clothes while his knee was on my throat. At that moment I started screaming as hard as I could while I feared this could be the end for me. We thought we were home alone, but apparently his sister was home but just screamed: Shut up! So, I knew I was on my own at that point. Not asking for help happened another fight as well, where during the night after clubbing he pushed me into the water next to the road and I started crying. Just when it had happened, I saw a police car driving around 50 meters away from me. Everything inside thought I was finally saved and when I wanted to start screaming for help, he whispered to me: ‘You will now come with me without saying a word and we leave!’ Out of fear and shock I did as he said… it is so weird how your brain functions during such a dangerous and toxic situation.
The longer I was in this relationship, the more I started noticing that every time he would visit my parents or something, I would try to evade him and going to my room to paint my nails. Now that I look back on this, this behaviour and alone time kind of was my relaxation during all the tense moments we had. Even in general now that I am out of this relationship, I began to realize how much tension my mind and body were experiencing every day spent with him.

Handling this tension has been the thing I struggled with most to process after the break-up. After the break-up I had non-stop panic attacks or I started crying in the middle of the night. At one point I was so exhausted, that I asked the doctor if he couldn’t prescribe me something that would calm me down. They told me my mind and body were getting rid of all the trauma and tension build during this relationship and that this was a very common trauma process. Eventually I went to a therapist where I started telling my story. During these sessions I realized that at no point I was the crazy one or did I react crazy or stupid.  She told me that this is how the human brain functions in toxic relationships and that it actually is a pattern. From that realization I got better and better. At this moment I still experienced fear when I saw his house, car brand or certain places with memories of the relationship. Now I am very fortunate to say that now this fear isn’t there anymore and this was for me the sign to start sharing my story through Power Circle. My reason is because I really find it important to help others and make them aware what are the red flags, and that your reactions and thought pattern aren’t crazy during such a toxic relationship at all! You are never alone even though it feels like you are at the moment you are in it. I really hope that someone who deals with a situation with violence, comes across my story and realizes that their relationship is similar to my story and that this is not normal and they should leave. This community feeling really is something that I missed during my own experience, while I never came across stories about domestic violence. When you are not aware of domestic violence you will never be able to recognise that you are in it, and this awareness is so important and definitely the first step of deciding to leave.

If after the break-up I had seen my abuser again? Yes, because of course he wanted to talk to me why I told everyone all these ‘lies’ about him abusing me. This meeting was in a restaurant where I used to work and I informed all the staff about the situation, so that when it would get out of hand, they were all ready to call for help. I went in with full make-up and very sexy clothes while he never allowed me to wear it and it felt like an empowering move to show him you can’t control me anymore! When he started talking, he immediately began blaming me of lying and what I did wrong. At that moment I said out loud: ‘What do you expect me to do when you hit women?’. The whole restaurant could hear it and he was so shocked and quiet. After this meeting I haven’t seen him again which makes me very happy while he has a no-contact order. This no-contact order makes me feel more protected and safer, which is why I had the courage to now share my story online as well and to use this experience to help others. The only way how people will learn about domestic violence is if survivors tell their stories and make people more aware. This way, victim blaming will hopefully end as well. His mom told me I was crazy for spreading these stories about her son while during the relationship I knew she knew what he was doing to me. This switch in her judgement sometimes still hurts me, but at the same time it motivates me even more to continue sharing my story.

My most important lessons? Always put you first and create your own happiness, think three times before you decide what someone’s intentions are while sometimes it is not what it seems!

Get to know ''Fear''

Something all of us know is the emotional state of fear. It can be something that happend quickly and scared you, or fear can be experienced through a trauma. But what is fear? And why do we feel scared in some situations?
Fear itself is mainly starting in your thoughts, followed up by a fysical reaction. Our bodies are using fear to warn us for danger and to make sure we will survive. Fysical reactions are mostly related to a phenomenon called 'fight or flight mode' and I want to add to the the possibility of 'freeze' to that. These fysical reactions differ per person and are part of a very deep subconsious evolution structure. Before the fysical reactions actually happen, a whole mental process is going on in the brain. Sometimes the brain responds to fear  by quickly looking for all the ways out of the situation, or by overthinking and blocking your ability to react. Just know, all of these reactions are totally okay and before being able to be aware of them it is very hard to understand, let alone change them.
So now let's link these explanations of fear to the topic we advocate for: Domestic violence. Is there a pattern regarding fear in these violent situations? Yes, most of the time there absolutely is. In many cases the survivor has reached a point of fear where they are too scared to even leave the situation.
But how does it get this far and can you recognize this before hand?
One of the first  things thats starts to inflict fear into a person's mind is: the perceivance of lack/dependence. When you feel like you really really NEED this other person you are more likely to compromise or even agree with them even when you actually do not. You feel like you need them and that you should not do anything that could possibly make them leave you. How to solve this? Only start a commitment when you have sat with yourself as a person, know what values you stand for and what you have to offer. Be very sure of yourself!! I will write about how to get more confident soon :).
Once you sense this other person is trying to force control over you by trying to push you into compromising against your will, this is a red flag! By being aware and knowing yourself it is easier to see this technique through, detach and react accordingly.
The second technique of how fear is inflicted in a violent situation is by repetition. You can think of the example of teaching a puppy how to sit, by repeating it over and over it will become second nature and the puppy doesn't know any different than to sit.  If someone is lowering your self esteem repetitively, and you do not reflect on this behaviour with people on the outside, it is almost impossible for you to remain confident! This is for every single human being in the world, it doesn't matter on your culture or education etc. Once someone dear to you repetitively drags you down, you will get scared or turn inside yourself more often to avoid this situation from happening.
This technique, combined with only receiving information from one person (some people are detached from family and friends) is a very toxic manipulation technique that most of the time always works.
Inflicting fear actually is one of the most important tools a person can use to gain control over another being. This technique is used for centuries and as well by governments or in wars. It is the repetition and lowering self esteem that are the root of trauma. How? Because by repetition something can become a subconsious habit, and this is exactly what survivors suffer most from once they are out of the bad situation. It can be in all shapes and forms: not daring to voice your opinion, running away when someone makes a certain gesture, feeling the need to defend yourself etc.
I personally struggled most with having a healthy argument in new relationships after the domestic one. I never wanted  to argue and wanted to sleep on the ground after (because I was used to having to sleep on the ground after an argument). A lot of these underlying trauma's can be solved by reprogramming them and unlearning them. Some ways to do this? That is the next topic <3

Taking your power back!

After the ''sharing your story'' process with a therapist or others, comes the ''take your power back'' phase. In this phase you probably still lack self-confidence, worth and find it hard to set your boundaries to others. It is very common that you can start to gain your sense of self-worth of of people feeling sorry for what you have been through, or just recognition by others in general.

This is were you have to be very mindful, because you will not have the power over your life back unless it comes from within instead of being based on external factors. It is very important, even though it's painful and confronting, to give yourself the time to process your experiences in a healthy emotional way. You have to sit with yourself and treat all the wounds that your experience has left you. It can absolutely make you feel down and vulnerable for a while but you have to go through this in order to experience that you are worthy of healing and way stronger than you think you are. (It can really help to listen to motivational speeches about self-worth, perserverence and spirituality.)

When you heal yourself with the intentions of coming back stronger than ever before it will keep you motivated during the healing process and prevent you from getting stuck in the dark place of pain, anger and trauma.  But honestly, the biggest gift of self-love you can give yourself is healing, a chance to take back full power over your live and live it exactly the way you want to live it. You have to go through a period of pain, but after you will be free and ready to build your life back up with you as the leader!

When you feel alone..

Most of the time when someone has experienced the trauma of domestic violence they have to deal with regaining their self confidence and their worth. Even after, when someone has gotten out of the violent situation, they often feel very alone and misunderstood. It can be that you have tried to talk about your thoughts and experiences with your loved ones, but a lot of times these people stand emotionally to close to you to hear about all the painful moments you have been through when you were all alone in this violent situation.

They try to understand you, but their first response can be bursting into tears or getting too uncomfortable once you start telling your story. Very important, don't blame them but as well don't shut down! It is a very natural response of human beings that as soon as someone close to them was in a lot of pain and now is out of the threatening situation, to not want to hear about it while they try to forget the memories.

When you feel alone and you doubt yourself because of the patterns that have been projected onto you while you were in a violent situation, it is best to talk to someone that has no relation to you. I know it might be too scary and too confronting at first, and thoughts might be occuring to you like "It wasn't bad enough.'' or ''I can fix this myself, I don't need help.'' This is completely normal, just please keep in mind no harm ever should have happend to you in any form, but it did and so you absolutely deserve full attention to be able to get rid of your underlying trauma and move on with your life in peace.

Once you start sharing your story with others: you feel heard, have a third person's view on your experience and you are able to better understand the pattern that you unknowingly took over as a survival mechanism. Patterns and survival mechanisms that you can start to get rid of while you no longer are under control of an abusive person. That's why we highly recommend talking with a  therapist that you feel you can trust. Keep in mind we are no certified therapists, but sharing experiencing and ways of healing can get you a long way already!

If you feel the need to ask for advise, just want to reach out or share your story with the world feel free to send us an e-mail. Because honestly, you are such an amazing being that has not been put on earth to keep dragging around emotional trauma, you deserve to be free!

My story

When I think about a few years back when I overcame one of my darkest periods of my life... a violent relationship.

Stripped away from my own opinion, self love and self worth... having to rebuild myself back up again from zero dealing with the fact that it’s hard to understand how I felt and what happend to me for others.

First thing I did after I got out of this relationship was participating in @missnederland to feel that I was in control again and was worthy of everything I wanted. But then I wasn’t ready... I wasn’t as confident as I used to be and I had no purpose to stand for.

But now I DO... it took me some time to start to openly talk about it, but on my healing journey I found out that a lot of people have been through domestic violence in all forms themselves. I was so shocked that no one ever really speaks about it and when they do they speak with shame.

Me standing proud and fighting against domestic violence is something that before I would never dare to do... when I came out of my violent relationship my reality was completely disorted and I didn’t even trust or believe in myself at all anymore. By traveling all by myself to Los Angeles as a beginning to grab my power and self acceptence back... I soon found out that even while I was starting to get better on the outside, some deep trauma was still on the inside.

For example, everytime I saw a certain car brand I got sooo scared or when I watched a violent movie I just started to panic and cry. Something that I didn’t feel coming at all but completely overwhelmed me!

I soon began to understand that the trauma was deeper than I thought and I started to become more spiritual which made me as well more accepting of me as a human being and young woman at the same time!

Even last year (4 years later) when I finally decided to go and talk to a psychologist, we both made the conclusion that I already was advanced in my healing and she asked me how I did it... I realized that by becoming more interested in spirituality I had at the same time tapped into something deeper than life itself which as well (I figured that out during the talk) made me tap into a deeper part of myself as well!

Understanding how powerful we are as human beings and how we can steer our minds to anything we wish (even healing traumas!!)
This, after mental treatment, is what I believe is the most important for survivors... because this is where they learn to tap into their own love and spiritual power that they so desperately, anxiously need and search for outside of themselves.

The most important step and which I believe is the first step, is to take away the control and fear that domestic violent survivors are left with when they come out of their situation. Scared that they or their family will get hurt by their abuser once they share their stories and tell the truth. There will be threats, and there will be fear, but I found out that I have all the power to decide if the fear exists or not and who I give the power of fear to. Once I realized the control I gave my abuser by fearing him even though he wasn't in my life any longer, I made a mental switch.

As children we are taught that no person should harm another person and if they do they will get punished, so why did I completely gave up on this lesson when I got hurt? It's because during the fear process you feel like you are not worth it or it is not bad enough to be taken action upon... but it is! Once I realized how blessed we are to be on earth in the first place and when I started meditating and more accepting of myself as an imperfect human being, I promised myself that I would never ever let anyone speak ill about me or treat me in a bad way. The power and self love that it gave me was overwhelming and made me realize that I owe it to others to share my story and make the biggest strength out of my once biggest weakness!

That is why I decided to start 'Power Circle Foundation' as the start of my life goal. A platform where all survivors can share their stories and healing journeys together in order to help each other and be sure that the world hears about them. Power circle will eventually be a story telling platform, motivational speakers platform and finally a working charity focusing on the mental recovery process of domestic violence survivors. I promised myself that I will never be silent or ashamed again about my story and that I will use every single tool and platform I am given to stand proud against domestic violence and I want you to be next!

Please read more about my story and speak with me, because truly... OUR VOICE IS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON!