‘This will not define me’ Jennifer Aniston

The year before I left my abusive relationship Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt split. I admit I was one of the few people who didn’t really register with me at the time. My own life was so far out of whack, I didn’t have the energy or the mental capacity to care what was going on in the wider world.

But months later, I saw Jennifer Aniston being interviewed, it was on Oprah I think. I don’t remember much about the interview. But the bit I do quite simply changed my outlook. And I believe paid a large part in helping me become the person I am today.

She said ‘This will not define me’ and ‘How other people view me will not define me’

It sounds so simple, but making it a living reality, literally changed my life. It made me understand two things.

  1. I get to decide what defines me.
  2. How other people define is their reality, not mine.

It also helped me decide the people, things and situations in my life. And my safety and well-being which one’s no longer needed to be in my life.

There were many things I had to do which could have easily changed the way I viewed myself and my life. Domestic violence left me in poverty and living below the poverty line is dehumanising.

I told my myself  ‘THIS DOES NOT DEFINE ME’ when:

  • When I moved myself and my children to a shelter for women and children experiencing domestic violence.
  • I first went to Centrelink to sign on for Single Parent Pension.
  • I went to court and spent over an hour in the witness box to gain an Apprehended Violence Order.
  • I spend hours being grilled by a psychologist to gain Victim’s Compensation.
  • When I moved to a social housing block, which was wholly unsuited for young children.
  • And countless other times.

Today, my business is built on my knowledge of abuse and it’s complexities. I am proud to have survived and can now use my experience to educate businesses, so they can offer the right support to their employees at the right time.

But, even though I spend my day talking about, writing about, learning about and educating on abuse. Still, the abuse I have been subjected to does not define me. I am more than a domestic violence survivor.

If a family member, friend or colleague confides in you. Remember they are more than the story of abuse they are disclosing. They are the same person they have always been, except now you know just how strong and resilient they really are, and how brave they are for reaching out to you for help.

It is important to see the person, not just the abuse they have been subjected to. Because focusing on the person will go a long way to building trust. Which is a good foundation from which to support them.