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But He Says He Loves Me: How I Finally Left an Abusive Relationship

But He Says He Loves Me: How I Finally Left an Abusive Relationship

Domestic violence, whether it be emotional or physical abuse, is always a difficult and controversial topic. I have spent months wondering how I would be able to write about this, as it is a delicate subject.

Everyone’s situations are different but after careful thought and consideration, I have decided to speak from my own experiences and my own perspective in hopes that someone that may need to read this, happens to come across this article. They may relate to it in their own way just when they need it the most.

When Will Enough Be Enough

“Where are you?!” I could hear him searching for me frantically, slamming doors as he looked for me in each room. I heard glass break and he screamed out for me again. His voice filled with anger, he was huffing, puffing and swearing profusely.

As I lay on my stomach under the bed, I held onto the knife tightly trying to hold my breath, scared he would hear me if I made a sound. I didn’t know what I would do with the knife but it made me feel a tiny bit safer. My body was shaking in fear, my mind was racing, “Is this really happening? What is this even about? Why did he have to come home drunk?”

I heard the back door slam, he must be searching for me in the yard. I quickly grabbed my phone and called the police. It felt like forever for someone to pick up, my heart racing, palms were sweaty and I was in a crazy state of panic. Finally, someone answered, “Please state your type of emergency.” I tried to speak quietly but I was so frightened I was speaking too fast.

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“What is your name and what is the emergency?” The voice on the phone asked. “Please just send someone to help me, my boyfriend is going crazy and I need help fast,” I pleaded. “What is your name, location and what is your contact number?” The voice over the phone asked. “I don’t have time for this, just come help me”, I pleaded.

I heard the back door slam again, he was in the house. My heart skipped a beat and I hung up the call almost immediately. I grabbed onto the knife while I lay under the bed. I couldn’t hear where he was, my blood was rushing through my veins as I used every ounce of my energy to hold my breath. I didn’t want him to find me. I was scared for my life. There was silence. Then I heard a bang, it sounded like he punched a hole into the wall again.

My phone rang, I looked at the screen and it must’ve been the police, I quickly hung up. My heart sank, “Oh my god, I hope he didn’t hear that, why on earth would the cops call when I have already told them my situation!” Next thing I knew, he grabbed my foot and was dragging me from under the bed.

Why I Stayed

Before him, I would’ve said that I would always leave if a guy were to hit me or even touch me in an abusive way. It wasn’t until I was actually in the situation, I finally understood why it was so hard for many people to walk away from any type of abuse. It started off small, little remarks and comments that undermined me and my character. Slowly, it grew into something bigger, by this point, I was invested.

When I first met him, I wasn’t interested in him. He was a charismatic guy that everyone in town knew and loved. He was known to be a bit of a “player” and I just didn’t want to get entangled with a “player.” I was a challenge to him. He was determined to get me. I wasn’t as easy to catch as the other girls were, so he chased hard.

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When I finally agreed to go on a date with him,  he did his best to sweep me off my feet. He wrote me cute notes, bought me gifts, wined and dined me. He treated me in a way I had never been treated before. He told me how special I was and he told me he loved me. This went on for over a year and I remember wondering how on earth his ex had ever left a guy like this. I was on cloud nine. Then we moved in together, got engaged and everything went downhill.

Every time I tried to leave, he promised he would change, he promised things would be different and I would end up staying in hopes that the guy I had met would come back. Every time I told him I had had enough, he would say, “You are never going to find anyone that loves you like I do. Your family didn’t even want you, they kicked you out of their home. You lost your virginity to several men you don’t even know, who’s going to want you? Every other guy is going to think you’re worthless.” He knew my past, he knew my insecurities, he knew how to use it against me and at the time, I believed him. After all, who would want someone like me? He says he loves me. I should be lucky he loves me because nobody else would.

How I Finally Left

As the old saying goes, people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. The universe knew I needed to open my eyes. I was back and forth, making up and breaking up with him and just couldn’t get the willpower to leave. That’s when someone that I call a “soulmate” walked into my life.

My soulmate inspired me to travel, to see what else was out in the world. He knew nothing of my past but he knew I was stuck in my own little bubble. He doesn’t know just how much of an impact he had on my life but because of him, I finally decided to take the plunge and booked a one-way ticket to Thailand. Little did I know that this was the start of a massive transformation and self-discovery journey.

What I Learned

Looking back, I had a part to play in that relationship. He was messed up and didn’t know how to deal with it so he lashed out. I too was messed up and didn’t know to love myself so I accepted that kind of behaviour.  Misery loves company and we were both two insecure souls that came together and made a recipe for disaster.

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I don’t regret that relationship though, I learned a lot from that. I learned what I didn’t want and it also pushed me into a path towards learning to get to know myself, my flaws, my insecurities and to discover who I really am and what I really deserve.

That relationship taught me that even though at times we can feel stuck and see no way out, there is always an answer. Most often than not, it is the simplest answer. Just leave. No matter how hard or impossible it may seem at the time, once we start to action what we know deep down is right, the universe will help you. It brings people, situations and light bulb moments to us in order to assist us in our paths.

I’m not saying that everyone should book a one-way ticket and leave but for me, it really did help. Completely removing myself from the situation stopped me from going back. It opened me up to a whole new passion, travel. It opened me up to the big, wide world out there and taught me that the bubble I was stuck in was actually a tiny fraction of what was actually going on in the world. It taught me that I did have control over my life and I did have a choice.

I will admit, that relationship left me even more messed up for a while but I’m definitely a stronger person for it. I wouldn’t know how to love myself the way I do now if I hadn’t experienced that lesson. Just because someone says they love you, doesn’t necessarily ring true.

Nobody can truly love someone else until they can love themselves. Even though he said he loved me, he didn’t. He didn’t love himself. If he did, he would never have treated me like that. I didn’t love myself either because if I did, I would never have stayed or accepted that treatment.

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I just remember having a moment while I was overseas, sitting on the beach, toes in the sand, watching a gorgeous sunset, a wave of freedom washing over me and I thought to myself, “Why did I not leave sooner?”

If you are in a similar situation or know someone that is, please know that there is a way out and it doesn’t have to be like this. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, no one deserves to go through this and no one deserves to feel stuck. There is a solution and there is always a way. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you are in Australia and need support please call ; 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au

If you are outside of Australia here is a link for shelters, crisis centres and hotlines; http://www.vachss.com/help_text/domestic_violence_intl.html

Featured photo credit: medicaldaily.com via images.medicaldaily.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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