I am proud of the work I do in corporate because I understand information is powerful; it leads to understanding. And when someone is in a domestic violence relationship that information and understanding can lead to action. Action which leads to taking safe steps to escape the relationship and start building a new life, while understanding the dangers.

The forms of abuse that are usually discussed are physical and sexual. This means there is a lack of understanding around the complexities of abuse. Many do not realize they are in an abusive relationship. There are many things I wish I knew when I was in an abusive marriage, it would have made a difference and I think I would have realized how unsafe my life was.

Here are five of the things I wish I known

1. Abuse is about power and control

Whatever is said or done everybody deserves to be treated with respect. A relationship needs to be built on mutual love and respect. No one has the right to call someone names, put them down or humiliate them. Constant efforts by the abused person to change themselves will not improve the relationship. Because abuse is about power and control.

I wish I knew there was power play going on. I was playing a very different game. Thinking the goal was for us both to be happy and loved.

2. The abuser does not have your best interests at heart

Abuser isolate, undermine them and play all sorts of mind games on their partner (this is called crazy making). They will advise against friendships. Create thought patterns designed to make their partner lose confidence. This about creating a reliance on the abuser, The stronger the need the more secure the abuser is in their power play.

I wish I’d known my abuser was actively working against me, I thought he was on my side – that we were a team.

3. The importance off financial freedom

Once financial freedom is handed over the doors of escape are effectively bolted shut. This lose of financial control means the abuser controls their partners freedom; without the need for physical force. This lack of access to money makes leaving so difficult and many victims end up losing everything.

I wish I’d known my abusive partner was purposely gaining control over the money as a way to limit my options. And this lose of control over my financial security would devastate my life for years after I escaped the relationship.

4. Safety in the home is everybody’s right – Abuse and drama in the home are not okay. Home is suppose to be our soft place to land and where we are supported and nurtured. Home is the last place we should feel scared. Our partners are supposed to enhance our feelings of safety and self worth not destroy them.

I wish I’d known I deserved to be loved and cherished for who I am. That there were people in the world who accepted me fro who I am. I wish I had believed them when they told me I deserved to be treated well.

5. There are people out there who can and will help

Those is abusive relationships can take an average of five to seven attempts to leave the relationship. They have been so diminished during the relationship they often do not even recognize what is happening to them as abuse. They do not know where to go or how to start to rebuild their lives, they have become so enmeshed with their abuser.

I wish I’d known there were people out there to help (1800 RESPECT). They would recognize what had happened to me. It was their job to empower me. Surviving the abuse, reaching out for help and rebuilding my life were NOT things to be ashamed of, but really proud off.

Businesses are in a truly privileged position to be a part of the solution because they can give so many employees access to the training giving them the information they need. Whether they are the one being abused or it is family member, friend or a colleague. Information is empowering. And empowered employees are good for business.