By Aimee Summers, Volunteer Counsellor at SATEDA
Experiencing domestic abuse can lead a person to start believing the things they have been told by their abuser, like:
- You are not good enough
- You don’t deserve to be happy
- You are not worthy of love
- You cannot be trusted with money
- You are useless
- You are worthless and are better off not alive
There are so many other factors that also play a part into the journey of a victim of domestic violence suicidal thoughts. Physical abuse, emotional, abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, gas lighting and online abuse.
A person experiencing any number of these types of abuse can really tear their self-worth apart. The more you start to believe these things about yourself, the more you may start to withdraw from friends and family (if they haven’t been cut off already by the abuser). This will lead to feeling lonely and depressed, which is when suicidal thoughts can creep in as they don’t see a way out and they are already believing they are not worthy to be alive. These thoughts of suicide can start off with thoughts of, no one would miss me when I’m gone.
I’d say approximately 90% of the women I support have expressed suicidal thoughts to me. The most important thing when talking to them about these thoughts is not being afraid to discuss suicide with them. Being able to talk about it without judgement, empathising with them and hearing my their words is invaluable.
Sadly there isn’t any one antidote to having such dark, painful feelings and thoughts. Everyone is different. Some people can talk about these thoughts and feelings and can feel better as it can normalise that having these thoughts and feelings is ok. While others will need therapy short or long term and medication may be needed but I believe the key is having a good support network around.
To better support those who are at risk of suicide during or after domestic abuse, we as a community need to allow room for people to be able to speak freely about suicide and without judgement. Giving time, a safe space and kindness for victims and survivors to speak can go a long way.
Signs to look for could be – being withdrawn, comments like “the world would be a better place without me in it” or “I wouldn’t be missed if I was to die tomorrow”, extensive periods of low moods, a constant state of tiredness, a lack of interest in participating in things or not wanting to do anything, being overwhelmed by tasks that need doing like cleaning, workload, not eating or drinking, lack of selfcare (appearance and weight changes, changes in personality or sleep patterns) and signs of physical self-harm – cuts, bruises, hair pulling (bald spots).
To anyone reading this who is having suicidal thoughts as a result of the abuse they are enduring or they have endured, I would say, seek help. There are organisations out there, SATEDA included, who can support you, you are not alone. Things can and will get better with the right support.