Hello readers, and welcome to another Dare to Create article from #ProjectLifeQuality. Your creative corner, where we discuss our topic of the week and you are provided with a suggestion to take away with you.
This will be something designed to encourage, and motivate you to explore your thoughts through the use of the arts. In January PLQ began exploring the topic of Self – A Fresh Start, and we continue this theme in February. Todays article focuses on the subject of warning signs.
Inspired by the courage of the many survivors I’ve interviewed for PLQ, today I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and share something I’ve told very few people. I believe that had my seventeen year-old self known that what I was experiencing was abuse, I’d have distanced myself a great deal sooner! If you’d like to know a little more of my story, you’ll find it below this weeks Dare to Create challenge.
“He lived just doors away, went to the same church, insisted on seeing me every day and for hours at a time. He also knew the layout of the college, having studied there.”
Dare to Create – the challenge
This week, I challenge you to think about what a good relationship looks and feels like.
Describe a healthy relationship using five words. You can see what I chose, below the image.
My five chosen words:
3. INDEPENDENCE (of thought & actions)
What will yours be?
Be as creative, colourful and bold as you want, then post it on Instagram. Please don’t forget to tag your photo with #plq and #daretocreate. The team at @projectlifequality loves seeing your amazing artwork.
This story holds content that might be triggering if you have been experiencing stalking, threats of violence or witnessed abuse.
Survivor story – a little about me
I was the class nerd. I wore unfashionable glasses and was bottom of the class in everything. I was also desperately shy, insecure and very lonely. I struggled to make friends all the way through school and into adulthood and was bullied relentlessly. Those years were hellish, and I was only happy when away from the environment.
When not at school, life was good. I was fortunate to have amazing parents and when not bickering, my siblings and I were close. We knew we were loved unconditionally, and they were always there for us as we grew up, something I’m aware many of you reading this, sadly didn’t have. But despite living in this happy, safe family home, where I witnessed positive parenting and good relationships, I didn’t see the warning signs of an abuser in my first “relationship”.
I use the term relationship losely. Weird as this sounds, I wasn’t in fact consulted on the dating thing! He just told people I was his girlfriend and people assumed it to be true. He knew I wouldn’t feel able to dispute this, due to my lack of confidence. He also knew I was lonely. I probably should have recognised that this wasn’t going to be a healthy relationship, but I was naïve. I saw a friend in them and told myself it was okay, I would simply back-off if things got more uncomfortable. Little did I know how hard that would be!
Within weeks he was manipulating me in significant ways, overstaying his welcome, well into the early hours and straining family relationships. He found ways to accompany me everywhere, without invitation. He expected intimacy when I wanted none and even wanted me to wear a ring on my engagement finger, so it looked like we were in a serious relationship. He was controlling and narcissistic. Things turned particularly sour when I approached my exams. Carl hated to feel unimportant.
One day, while studying alone at home, he knocked the door. I knew he wouldn’t leave if I didn’t answer, so I agreed to a couple of minutes. When I continued revising, he got angry, took out a kitchen knife and threatened me. I freaked!
After that, I refused to see him, but he stalked me daily for three years. I told nobody and remained terrified of seeing him again for decades. Shame and disgust kept me quiet, but if I’d known there were warning signs of abuse, this may never have happened.
Warning signs of abuse – useful links
Though I dislike the American term “battered” and the genders stereotypes, this is a good video explaining the Power and Control Wheel, by the researchers.
Be the person you want to be!
PLQ Creative Coach and Journalist