Monday, March 27, 2017

All The Lessons

I remember the day a very close friend revealed that her charming, suave long-term boyfriend had been abusing her physically, verbally and emotionally. My first reaction was disbelief. "Not my strong, powerful, opinionated friend. She is not the type of woman who would be in an abusive relationship," I thought to myself. And then I experienced pure rage and anger. Is she okay? How could he even think about abusing her? How could I have missed it? How could he have convinced me that he was a good guy?

That was a while ago. She has since dumped him, cut up his clothing, had him declared persona non grata in our social circles and moved on to much better things.

Louise Carver recently released a new studio album called Hanging In The Void. I have huge respect for her as a lyricist and she knows her way around a melody. Her new album features some of her strongest writing to date. One of the songs that stood out for me was 'All The Lessons' - a song about a heartbroken woman escaping a relationship with a cruel man who wasn't very nice.

Knowing that Louise is an artist who sources inspiration from all aspects of her life, I just assumed she was writing about a friend... or inspired by a book she had read or a movie she had seen. I never imagined that the strong, confident, determined woman I know would have fallen into the clutches of a narcissist, so I was blown away when she bravely shared her harrowing story in the latest issue of Glamour. She spent three years in a relationship with a man suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Like all people with abusive traits he turned her life upside down.

Over the years I have discovered that many of my friends and family members have fallen victim to abusive partners and narcissists. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, many of them carry shame and guilt - even after they have escaped these relationships - and don't speak out about their abuse.

The Lessons:

1) There is no shame in being abused. Anyone can be abused. It can happen to your friends and family. It can happen to you. Chances are that someone you know is being abused. Don't fool yourself into believing that it will never affect you.

2) Abusers don't necessarily drink brandy from a bottle for breakfast and behave badly in public, like they do in the movies. Most of the abusers I have known were charming, good looking and put on a great show.

3) It is incredibly hard to date a narcissist or someone with abusive traits. Unfortunately they walk among us. If you realise that you are dating one - run! It's not your job to fix them. They will break you down over a period of time and make it harder for your to leave as time progresses.

4) Trust your gut. If a relationship feels wrong - honour that feeling. If there are red flags pull over. If you are worried about a friend's relationship, don't ignore it. Don't stay silent. Speak up. Silence is dangerous.

You can find out more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder here, find resources to get out of an abusive relationship here, find out more about Louise and her music here and check out the latest issue of Glamour here.

Images courtesy of Louise Carver (Photographer: Dave Hann) and Glamour South Africa