CW: Intimate partner abuse and violence.
Every story I get to record feels like an incredible privilege, but some stories certainly stand out as so important and necessary… and this was one of those interviews.
In this episode, Anna shares her story of experiencing postpartum anxiety and intimate partner violence and abuse. There aren’t any graphic details of Anna’s experience shared in the episode, but she does talk about experiencing violence and abuse in her relationship in a general way. If this topic is triggering or hard for you to hear, please take care of yourself. If parts of it are bringing up hard things for you, you can skip the hard parts, pause the episode and come back to it later, or maybe it’s better for you to skip this one entirely.
This topic is really relevant right now as domestic violence and intimate partner abuse is on the rise due to the increased isolation due to the Covid-19 situation. Approximately 1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence and abuse in their lifetime, and for folks who are trans or non-binary, the incidence rises to over half of individuals – that’s a huge number of people! And 40% of cases of intimate partner abuse will begin during pregnancy. Yet, it’s a topic we so rarely talk about. But we need to talk about it, we need to bring it out of the shadows.
If you are experiencing abuse or violence in your relationship, please know you are not alone. It is, unfortunately, so common, and you deserve support.
In this episode, Anna and I talk about:
- Being a new parent in a new country
- The challenge of having to advocate for herself in labour when her partner wasn’t supportive
- Experiencing anxiety and intrusive thinking soon after her daughter was born
- The struggle to breastfeed and how this impacted her
- When and why she reached out to PPPSS and the value she found in being a part of a support group
- Learning how to take care of yourself when you have a tiny new human and how hard – and necessary – it is, especially when we have high anxiety and/or low mood
- The high expectations society puts on new parents and how impossible it is to be it all and do it all – especially now
- Going back to work at 5 weeks postpartum
- How important it was for her to connect with other parents
- Putting things into her environment that were supportive of who she was and is – like music
- The power of a nap!
- Connecting with other parents via online forums and how that can help us to not feel so alone
- When the abuse and violence began in her relationship
- The pressure of being financially responsible for her little family
- Why many people don’t or can’t leave abusive relationships – even when it seems simple or ‘easy’ from the outside.
- The process of finally being able to leave her relationship and how important the support from friends was at that time
- How big of a step it is to start sharing about their experience of abuse
- How important it is to hold space and listen to friends or loved ones when they start sharing about experiences of violence and abuse
- The final straw in her relationship – but how that was just the beginning
- How the Covid-19 situation has magnified incidents and the possibility of domestic violence, but really, it’s been here for hundreds and thousands of years
- How important it is to talk about and share stories of intimate partner abuse – but how it is, for those sharing AND those listening
- The barriers – internal and external – to leaving abusive relationships
- The supports Anna had and resources she accessed when she decided to leave
- Having a 2nd child and what she did differently, using the skills she had learned the first time around
- How difficult it is to stand in your own strength, power, and confidence, when others are trying to tear you down on the outside
- Respecting the fourth trimester and the physical and emotional process of becoming a parent
- How everyone who is struggling deserves support – whether the source of struggle is internal or external
- The importance of seeing, respecting, and honouring how vulnerable we are as new parents
- What advice Anna would give to those who may be experience violence or abuse in their intimate relationship
- That it’s ok to take 2 steps forward and 10 steps back
- How fears of Covid-19 might be preventing people from leaving or reaching out for support
- What she would say to her self when she was struggling the most