Sunday, 5 November 2017

Objectification and exploitation isn't it time we demanded a better future for girls and women.

The ever growing access to media images via the internet has brought with it a barrage of objectification issues for young  girls and women. The media and popular culture has always pushed the envelope but now days pre teens can be exposed to and frighteningly contribute to social media  sexual imagery far beyond previous generations.  Gone are the days when  exposure may have been limited to a sneak peek at  mums fashion magazines or even a peek at a Playboy. Enter the age of uploading a half naked or sexually provocative image or participating in explicit and often degrading public sexual conversations with strangers via Snapchat, Instagram, WeChat, Vine, YouTube, Skype, Facebook, Four Square, Twitter, the list goes on.   Today's magazines, movies, music videos and  social media  create ever increasing confusing for young girls trying to develop self esteem and a sense of identity when messages seem to be constantly telling them their identity and value is exclusively tied to their appearance, beauty, body and sexual attractiveness. Exploitation of girls and women is rife, when once mums had to protect their daughters from the Hugh Hefners of the world charming their daughters into getting naked in front of the lenses, nowadays it's the lure of ‘LIKES’ by a new breed of perpetrators sitting online ready to exploit the insecurities of women prepared to emulate porn stars and music video icons to become amateurs social media porn stars for instant gratification with little or no comprehension of the future impacts on their family, reputation or career. Add to this the ever growing evidence of the damage and impact pornography (including amateur social media porn) is having on connected respectful relationships, is it time we as women started to claim back our rightful place as respected and dignified pillars of the community and protectors of this sacred identity. 

In this article written by Izabella Siodmak, Author and Facilitator of Mental and Emotional Wellness Retreats at, Izabella explores the impact of sexual objectification and pornography on girls and women and how they  identify their worth, and how men might improve their relationships with the women in their lives through shifting their attitudes toward pornography be it on film, internet or social media. 

I want to provoke you. Not with my body scantily clad, chest pushed out and lips pouting. This would be forgotten as quickly as a page in a magazine is turned or internet button clicked. I would like my expression to have a more enduring impact upon you and to perhaps have a ripple effect that benefit those whom you love.


It’s obvious we are in trouble. From prepubescent girls dressing up emulating adults posing in sexual positions that are beyond their comprehension to men ignorantly blind to the damaging impact of pornography, the subliminal messages are fast eroding respectful treatment of women. We have desecrated something so sacred and turned it into something so cheap. What can we do to turn this around?


For risk of sounding like a prude, which I don’t care if I do, I’d like to turn your attention to our rightful roles as protectors and guardians of each other. What I’m inviting each individual to do is to put aside your vested interests and payoffs, connect to the bigger picture of humanity and simply stop with the excuses that justify personal habits that are unwholesome. Let’s consider some new perspectives and options that can make a difference and dissolve the conditioning that has made us fall out of sync with our true essence.


Reconnect to your Instincts and Act on Them - If the thought of seeing a barrage of your daughter’s provocative poses and bikini shots on social media makes you feel sick then there’s something to your gut instinct. As a parent it’s your duty to discipline and enforce healthy boundaries. Don’t be fooled into feeling guilty as though you are a  ‘bad parent’ for doing so or for restricting your child’s independence. There are many other ways to healthily allow your child’s independent expression and exposing them to predation and potential exploitation is not one of them.


Speak Up, Say No and Be Protective - The more you speak up and acknowledge the moral inappropriateness and unnaturalness of these behaviours the more permission you give others to see this for themselves too. Say it with clarity, not blame. Set an example that inspires. Boycott products, services and companies that play on sexual image and seduction to hook people in. If a product or service can’t stand alone in its true quality and needs to use sex to sell, it’s not a product worth having. 

Watch touching movies and have the kinds of experiences that foster a reminder of the true values of humanity such as kindness, care and authentic connection. When you, or your children, notice how good this feels it becomes easier to steer clear of degrading experiences that, by contrast, don’t really feel good. When any unnatural and disrespectful acts and behaviours are normalised and people become slowly desensitised to them, it can be easy to miss the truth. However the more you act upon the impulses of your instincts, the stronger they will become and the distracting noise and cheap images fade away.


Examine the Payoffs and Find Healthier Ways of Meeting your Needs - If you watch porn, acknowledge what this is compensating for and vow to address the gap in a more healthy way. Face any relationship challenges bravely. Look beyond yourself and be honest about the impact of this on damaging trust and potentially destroying relationships. Relieve stress through prevention or counselling to gain lifelong coping strategies. Enjoy your life more so this does not become the only way of pleasure seeking. Find wholesome ways of experiencing pleasure that enriches others lives rather than exploits them for your own gain.


Men, try to operate from being aware of what you are contributing to in a woman’s life rather than simply using her body for your own pleasure. Relate to real women regularly so your fantasies don’t become disconnected and unrealistic expectations you place upon your reality. Remember that pornography is a commercial industry and you are a pawn being played. It is a manipulative industry that is deliberately scripted and skewed to make money, yet the unhealthy imprints of the messages you receive when you partake can have various long term detrimental impacts upon your life.


When you consider that everything is based on intentions and the energy behind your actions there is very little difference between the fantasy of pornography and rape. Both are about you gaining energy at the expense and exploitation of a woman. As you learn to love yourself and embrace all your emotions you reclaim your own wholeness so then you see her wholeness too, rather than only a body to objectify, conquer or possess. Woman does not exist for a man’s gratification. She is a real person with depth and reflections of truth to offer you. Listen and create a safe space to hear her experience and how she feels about these subjects. Be willing to receive her feedback rather than defend your stance. The equal give and take of energy is important to maintain healthy and robust relationships.

It's worth noting that often pornography performers and prostitutes defend their position publicly emphasising that they have chosen this career because they love sex and pride themselves on being free. The reality is that the women in these industries are often very unhappy and desperate but feel they need to validate their choice to avoid thinking of themselves as victims. 68% of prostitutes were identified as meeting the psychological criteria for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, while 88% stated that they wanted to leave the industry and described what they needed in order to escape


If you are a woman who uses your body image to gain attention, or gives her body away indiscriminately, you might like to consider if you truly feel completely empowered by your choices or are you kidding yourself. Chances are, you're doing it to boost your self-esteem, your wallet, or both. Self-worth and finances are important, however it's important not to compromise things you cannot get back like self-respect, in the process.

Consider how else can you make an living without exposing yourself to real risks? Risks that are not worth any price. How can you be more honest with yourself and what can you choose now that symbolises the ending of you selling out on yourself?


If your self-esteem is low, regardless of what mask you may present to the world, consider how else you may feel good about yourself in ways that make you smile and are satisfying to your heart. Does selling your body truly build you up or does it give you a momentary hit of ego gratification whilst it gradually tears your morale down?


Bear in mind that men who are exploiting you may be reflecting to you the places where you are willing to be exploited. You do have the option of changing your behaviours and therefore changing your reality. This requires awareness, honesty and maturity. By not settling for anything less than what you truly want, and how you know you deserve to be treated, eventually you will experience it.


By getting in touch with what you really want and allowing this to be present in your life,  it becomes easier to say "No" to anything that's far from it. If you want to be loved and cherished you also need to take responsibility for loving and cherishing yourself.  Others will mirror this to you. Contemplate your gifts. Celebrate what you bring to this world. Find healthy ways to express yourself, so that unconsciously you are not so starved of love that you resort to anything or anyone’s attention just to make you feel a little better.


Unresolved trauma can make it confusing for you to uphold healthy boundaries, which means you may not know how to say "no" or to speak up appropriately when you have been/are being violated. Consider getting counselling, especially if you have unresolved trauma or have been sexually abused in the past. No incident is too little or too small to be held with compassion, understood and healed with the right, loving support. True instincts may be buried underneath the layers of protection that you can no longer act upon them. A good psychotherapist can help you understand, emote and integrate the trauma so that you heal, function and make more loving choices for yourself.


Speaking up (rising above self-imposed or perpetrator-imposed shame) to loved ones or discussions with other victims can also be helpful  in preventing the kind of low self-esteem that can make you susceptible to exploitation or being drawn to prostituting yourself and kidding yourself into thinking it's all okay.

Izabella Siodmak is an author, facilitator of 1 on 1 mental and emotional wellness retreats and emotional healing sessions. She loves to support you to love yourself more and to deepen your relationships. Visit focussed on raising awareness and providing education and resources on the issues of objectification and sexualisation of women. & to make contact, purchase her books or to schedule a session or private retreat.  

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

ORGANIC Date and Chocolate Chip Scones

Did you know dates are a good source of vitamins and minerals, energy and fibre and contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and zinc plus thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and K?


2 cups of plain organic flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

60g organic butter

1 organic egg

1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

5 diced organic dates


1. Sift the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt into a mixing bowl

2. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 

3. Stir in the sugar, add the milk and whisked egg and mix into a soft dough.

4. Turn onto a floured surface, knead lightly.

5. Knead in chocolate chips and dates gently.

6. Roll out to a 1.8 cm  thickness dough. Cut into 5 cm (2 inch) rounds with a fluted cutter.

7. Place on a baking tray covered in spray oil.

8. Brush with milk.

9. Bake in a preheated hot oven, 220°C (425°F), (slightly lower if fan forced) for 12 to

15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

10. Serve with a little butter.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Spring Organic Vegetarian Family Meal

Organic Thai Tofu Patties and Organic Fattoush

Try this simple meal for the family. It's something the kids can make with you and they can try lots of different flavours. You can adapt the recipe right there and then with your little taste testers. 



350g (drained weight)  firm organic tofu, coarsely grated

1 lemon grass stalk remove outer layer chop finely

2 organic garlic cloves, chopped

2.5cm/l inch piece organic ginger, grated

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped

2 organic shallots, finely chopped

1 fresh organic red chilli, deseeded chop finely

4 tbsp chopped fresh organic coriander

90g plain organic  flour, plus extra for flouring

Pinch of salt

Olive oil for cooking 

Chilli Dip

3 tbsp white distilled vinegar

2 organic spring onions, finely sliced

1 tbsp organic caster sugar

1 fresh organic chilli, finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh organic coriander

Pinch of salt


1. To make the chilli dip, mix all the ingredients together in a small serving bowl and set aside.

2. Mix the tofu with the lemon grass, garlic, ginger, lime leaves, shallots, chilli and coriander in a mixing bowl. Stir in the flour and salt to make a coarse sticky paste. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour to let the mixture firm up a bit.

3. Remove mixture from refrigerator and form into 8 golf ball size balls, with floured hands, flatten into circles. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large, heavy based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the cakes in 2 batches, turning halfway through, for 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve warm with the chilli dip in side dish. 

These can be used as Vegeterian burgers. Pop them in a fresh roll with salad cheese and tomato sauce for the kids or add some mango chutney. 



2-3 pocket pitta bread or Turkish bread

Organic olive oil, for shallow frying

3 organic tomatoes chopped coarsely 

1 organic green capsicum diced coursley

2 organic Lebanese cucumbers sliced 

6 organic red radishes sliced thinly 

4 organic spring onions, sliced thinly

1/2 cup organic chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup coarsely chopped organic mint

Lemon Garlic Dressing

2 cloves organic garlic, crushed

1/4 cup (60ml) organic olive oil

1/4 cup (60ml) organic lemon juice


Halve pitta or Turkish bread horizontally; cut into 2.5cm pieces. Heat oil in wok; shallow-fry, in batches, until browned lightly and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper.

Make lemon garlic dressing.

Just before serving, place about three-quarters of the pitta/Turkish bread in large bowl with dressing and remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine.

Sprinkle remaining pitta/Turkish bread over fattoush. Mix salad and serve.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

3 Critical Steps to Create a Body you'll LOVE!

It's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking weight loss, fitness and health is about finding the perfect diet, the ideal training program or the best gym…sure sometimes that works, you might just stumble across a truly great diet or personal trainer. I’ve  published some highly successful and inspiring fitness and health stories by extremely credible nutritionists and fitness trainers. So I've been fortunate enough to have some of the best health and fitness advice available. My take on the subject comes from a slightly different place however. I’m not a nutritionist, I’m not a personal trainer, I’m an educator, in the field of business. So what can a business educator offer in the way of creating the body you’ll love? 

My passion is learning, and understanding how people learn and  implement positive change, for me it's about inspiring others to adopt life long learning as part of their lifestyle. My approach to health and fitness is about knowledge and applying it to your daily choices. Just as you would teach a child about the importance of nutrition and movement and trying to align these to their interests and preferences, to motivate them to make healthy choices. Adults too need to make the link between healthy choices, developing knowledge and using strategies that draw upon their unique motivations. 

Poor lifestyle, health, fitness and nutrition has an immense impact on mental wellbeing. It becomes a vicious cycle, when poor diet and lack of exercise creates a depressed state. Then once in a depressed state comfort food and bad habits thrive...further eroding your self esteem. So for me it's about adopting a life long learning approach to your health, and continually  developing your knowledge and adapting your lifestyle habits to create optimum health, not perfection, just simple wholesome living (at least most of the time). Over the last 10 years shifted my lifestyle towards better choices and very simple strategies to maintain my health. Which has had a huge impact, however like most people I still hadn't quite got the balance. Over the last 6 months I've focussed my efforts and the results are remarkable.



I’m only a few years shy of 50 (which feels strange to say) I don't feel a great deal different to when I was in my 20’s, I certainly feel stronger and healthier than I did then, even if I was leaner then.  So my needs as far as movement have changed a lot over the years, this is an important factor, remember your unique body is ever changing. When I was leaner (pre-mummy days) I didn't need to burn a lot of fat. I needed to develop muscle, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. 

Ironically as I’ve gotten older my need to engage in more fat burning activity has escalated yet my time availability has reduced. This is a pretty common scenario. Life simply gets in the way of focussing on health, fitness and nutrition. So what's the solution…..Exercise needs to be part of your life not a chore.  Undertaking a bazaar fitness training schedule, be it working out at the gym, a personal trainer, or a sport is generally doomed to fizzle out if it is:

 1. Not sustainable- too high intensity especially if your diet won't support this level of workout.

 2. Something you are doing because you have to rather than because you enjoy it. 

Some simple ways to inject movement, muscle building and fitness is to set about discovering which physical activities you truly enjoy. Activities that might serve as an alternative to a gym membership are:

Walking-.join a club, walk alone or with a friend 

Boxing - its a great cardio workout and will help you tone up

Housework - yes housework, if I know I’ll burn 500 calories doing it I’m far more motivated, don't underestimate how physical it can be

Sporting team - football, soccer, tennis, netball

Swimming - it’s great for those with joint pain

Running - very popular but may be a little tough on the joints

Bike riding - again very popular and can be very therapeutic 

Yoga - It may not burn the calories as fast but will build muscle tone, flexibility and strength

Weight training - try it at home or the gym

Everybody is different but I've found the best combination for myself is walking, light weights and yoga. Once you’ve established which exercise suits you it’s important not to burn yourself out. We've all done it. We jump into that new gym membership with guns blazing, then before long we've come down with a cold or one of the kids do and then we get busy at work and slowly our gym membership turns into ‘the subject one does not talk about’ at least until it expires. 

Try out a few different activities, however ensure your final exercise choices are sustainable. If they always depending on a team or too much travel it's worth considering adding a solo activity to your repertoire so that it's always available. (For example I have a running trampoline and a treadmill so I simply can’t make excuses not to walking if it's raining or too hot or cold).  An activity that you can do at least 4 times a week for between 1/2 an hour to 1 hour is ideal depending on your fitness level. 

2.  EAT CLEAN - make it a lifestyle choice!

We've all heard that clean eating is the new craze…but what does in mean to someone who is trying to lose weight or get fit. I've found the most important strategies are to:

  1. Ensure you have a good regular balanced diet, include protein in lean meat or beans, legumes, nuts, fruit and vegetables. I eat primarily vegetarian but I know that the key is balance. Get to know which food works well with your body and which ones don't. Pay attention to reactions and allergies. Every single body is unique and the diet that works for you could be completely different to someone else. Don't fall for the trap of religiously following someone else's diet. Instead keep your food simple, clean, raw as often as you can and reduce eating anything that comes in a box or packet. It's a simple rule of thumb that works. 
  2. Cut the dough, carbs and wheat down. Yes it's hard, but reducing your intake will have a huge impact. These days we have access to a lot of carbs and bread products. Be sensible, don't deprive yourself, simply control yourself.
  3. Reduce your sugar, don't go cold turkey, wean yourself off the sugar slowly. Too many people simply cut it out instantly. However sugar is like a drug, you must slowly reduce your intake or you truly will experience withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings.
  4. Go organic. I'm a huge fan of organic, it reduces the pollution in our environment and our bodies. There is never an okay amount of poison to put on your body, so wherever possible select organic options. The reduction of pesticides, fertilisers, additives, colours, enhancers in your food will dramatically improve your immune system. Poisoning yourself daily is simply not going to improve your health, so cut the chemicals. 
  5. Eating clean should also extend to your skin. Your skin needs nutrients and does not need chemicals and you absorb a huge amount through your skin. Many people don't realise their health is seriously adversely effected by poisoning through the skin. Choose natural and organic hair, skin, makeup, body products and even washing liquids and powders and household cleansers to reduce your exposure to chemicals. Help to detox your body by cutting out products that contain Urea, Parabens, Phthalates, Petroleum By-Products, Propylene Glycol and Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), Sodium Laurel/Laureth, Sulphates, (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Formaldehyde, Synthetic Fragrances, Synthetic Colours, Mica
  6. Purify your water and try to drink  8 glasses a day. I discovered an enormous difference in my health when I started using a home water purifier about 25 years ago. The aim is to reduce exposure to fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals and bacteria in the water. Try to include cleansing teas rather than alcohol, caffeine or any sweet drinks, try green tea, dandelion and turmeric teas. Each has its own unique benefits which we’ll go into in further detail in another article.
  7. Give your body a rest. We have been taught to think we must eat at certain times. However fasting is incredibly good for your body and can in fact help regulate your blood sugar levels. We continually spike our blood sugar levels by eating and snacking more often than actually necessary. If you are not hungry, don't eat. However be very careful of how your body reacts. Starving yourself is not the aim, the aim is to break the cycle of over eating or eating out of habit. Don't allow yourself to become faint, lethargic or starving. 
  8. Having a glass of wine or a cocktail is good for the soul, but having it too often can have adverse effects on your health and motivation. Don't deprive yourself of a drink on occasion but take note of how you feel the day after you've had a few drinks compared to the days you don't and you'll notice it's a lot harder to do a workout if you have been drinking, your limbs may feel a little heavier, your reactions not as fast and you attitude most certainly won't be on point.  It's also worth considering the calories that are in some alcoholic drinks. A glass of red wine on occasion can actually be quite good for your health however any drink that is adding calories without any real nutritional benefit is a bit like sugar and carbs, keep it to being a treat rather than a part of your daily routine. Your body will thank you for it.


This would have to be one of my greatest lessons that I've learnt more recently regarding health. I think a lot of people lose touch with their bodies and forget what it feels like to feel physically strong, in a good frame of mind, optimistic, energetic and motivated. A poor diet and lack of exercise impacts on every part of your wellbeing so start taking notice of everything from aches and pains, mood, energy, attitude and concentration. You might be surprised to see how easy it is achieve a feeling of overall wellness. 

Fitness and wellness

Learning how your unique body works is life altering. Pay attention to how your body responds to exercise. Some examples that I've experienced are the reduction in aches and pains when I’m regularly walking compared to when I stop for a week or so. All too often we ignore the messages our bodies give us. Once again when I've stopped practicing yoga because I was too busy with work or a baby, I could feel my body stiffening and changing. My posture altered enormously and I simply didn't have the energy or feeling of wellness I had previously. 

Calories in and out

Pay attention to your calories in and calories out. A Fitbit (Find FITBIT here  or visit a fantastic tool for monitoring this. Don't obsess over calories, simply keep a check on it occasionally. I simply punch in my average daily meals and snacks into my Fitbit about once a week to see if I'm staying on track in comparison to the steps I've done and subsequently calories burned. The aim is to check that the calories you are burning whilst undertaking your exercise regime are more than those you are consuming, particularly if you are trying to lose weight. In doing this you are educating yourself to create balance in your diet and exercise. It's a great way to learn which foods have higher calories and which ones are lower, I've had some huge lessons about food choices by doing this, and you will be surprised how many things you have been consuming that have exorbitantly high calories when you thought in fact they were healthy choices. This reeducting yourself will help you make better choices in future. 


Find a Fitbit here


Don't obsessive over your weight it truly is an inaccurate measuring tool. The fact that fat takes up more mass yet weighs less than muscle that takes up less space but weighs more negates the usefulness of monitoring your weight as your main measuring tool. Instead pay attention to how your clothes feel, how confident you feel when you put them on. Use measurements of your arms, bust, waist and thighs to track your body changes, if you must monitor it at all.

In the end the most critical aspect of these 3 steps to create the body you'll love is  how you feel about yourself. I can attest to these lifestyle choices. Some of these changes I've implemented over years others like using the Fitbit to educate myself about calories eaten and burned are new additions. It's taken me sometime to find the right formula. Like most people I've yo yoed with my weight and fitness, I've been a size 8 and a size 16. These days I'm somewhere in the middle. Don't beat yourself up. Trial and error is a part of learning. Remind yourself it's not about what size TV shows,  magazines or social media tell us we must be, it's about how we feel….do we feel strong, happy, healthy, optimistic. Health and fitness is a learning experience and learning is what you are aiming to do. 


Always consult a health professional prior to commencing an exercise regime. All exercise and nutrition mentioned in this article are for information purposes only and do not substitute for seeking professional advice. 

Organic Waffles


2 1/2 cups organic plain flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons organic sugar

3 x organic eggs, separated 

1 1/2 cups organic milk

125g organic butter melted


Organic strawberries chopped

Melted chocolate 

Ice cream 


  1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  2. Stir in sugar. Make a well in the centre and add egg yolks, milk and butter, gradually stir into the flour mixture.
  3. Beat mixture into a smooth batter.
  4. Wish egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter.
  5. Use 1/2 cup of batter for each waffle.

Cook in a waffle maker or waffle iron. I use the Breville waffle maker. 


Monday, 17 July 2017


Lily Online Magazine has been a community partner with Empowered and Beautiful, a domestic violence support network for many years. Started by Joi Partain a domestic violence advocate who herself survived a horrific life threatening attack by her then boyfriend. Along with Helen Johnson an avid activist on breaking the silence on domestic violence, also a survivor,  they have provided daily support, words of wisdom and most importantly education on recognising and surviving abuse. Both Joi and Helen have kindly written and shared their stories of survival which I’ve published in past issues. You can read Helens story here Joi’s story can be found in this issue

The following article contains a ‘Trigger Warning’ for survivors of emotional and sexual abuse and emotional abuse by proxy. Written by Helen Johnson, Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocate and Vice President of Empowered and Beautiful, Domestic Violence Support Network in the United States, it explains some of the most fundamental issues and experiences of Domestic Violence and unfortunately examples of abuse that are not in anyway unique, in fact they are textbook examples that those of us advocating for DV survivors have heard over and over too many times.  

Just be Nice

Just be NICE….This was one of the MAIN statements that kept me feeling too guilty to set and enforce boundaries with people who used my empathy and ‘niceness’ or agreeability against me. Just be ‘nice’ to the family member who treats you and your loved ones like crap... ‘Be nice’ to the boy who hurts you in class, and grabs your body without your permission.  ‘Turn the other cheek’,  ‘Forgive and forget’, ‘Don't antagonise him’, ‘Keep the peace', ... of which there truly is NONE when you are consistently sacrificing your own needs to ‘take care of’  (enable) someone else.

There are so many common phrases that people use to gaslight themselves and others to ‘keep the peace’ and force you back into idealising an abusive person in an attempt to get the abuser to feel ‘good’ about themselves again, and keep them from being abusive (to themselves or to others) again.

But here's the thing.... That's what they WANT. No matter what, you are NEVER responsible for someone else’s decision to lash out and behave abusively.

So, here's the answer…

I won't be ‘nice’ to people who are not kind to me, or to those I care about anymore. I won't ‘keep smiling’ when my chest hurts, and I know that I am avoiding speaking the TRUTH out of fear. Abusers COUNT on us to be QUIET. They count on us to be too afraid to hold them accountable. They will attempt to manipulate you into giving them what they want again. This is what works for them. But it doesn't have to work with us anymore. Fear is a GIFT that lets us know when our boundaries are being violated, and we feel unsafe.

Remind yourself to pay attention to behaviour, no matter how many pretty words someone might use, or how many flowers or gifts they give when they are grooming you again. Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear - Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence wrote ‘Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait. We do NOT have to be “nice” to (be agreeable with) anyone’.

We should simply be KIND and kindness INCLUDES being kind to one's SELF, as well. The most common gaslighting (meaning to manipulate someone or yourself psychologically into doubting their own sanity) statement there is are the words ‘I'm FINE’. These are the words that put me on edge to hear, because I knew without a doubt that something was very, VERY wrong. 

Once we are able to recognise narcissistic behaviour, it becomes a whole lot easier to stop taking responsibility for a toxic (or abusive) person's choices to behave abusively. Stop buying into an emotionally unhealthy narcissist's version of reality! They don't even believe half of the things that they say. They simply parrot some other abusive schmuck they learned it from, because they weren't original enough to develop their own unique personality. They can continue to subscribe to their warped version of reality, but it doesn't have to be ours!

Time to Stop Keeping the Peace, and create our OWN

One place where an abuser often learns this behaviour is their own family but it can be well hidden from observation by the outside world. According to Psychology Today  ‘In narcissist families, the dynamics can be seen or disguised. The dysfunction displayed in violent and abusive homes is usually obvious, but emotional and psychological abuse, as well as neglectful parenting, are often hidden. While the drama is not displayed as openly to the outside world, it is just as, if not, more damaging to the children. Reviewing these dynamics, one can see how this kind of family can look pretty but be decaying at the same time.’

So in fact playing along with the ‘Be Nice’ and ‘Keeping the Peace’ expectation is only facilitating the ongoing dysfunction. Psychology Today goes on to elaborate ‘If you recognise your family in this description, know that there is hope and recovery. We can't change the past, but we can take control of the now. We do not have to be defined by the wounds in our family systems. As Mark Twain defines the optimist, I see the recovering adult child: ‘A person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness’. We can create new life that will flow through us to the future and stop the legacy of distorted love learned in the narcissistic family. If we choose recovery, we can defy intergenerational statistics.’ You can read more on this article here…/the-narcissistic-family-t…

Is there REALLY two sides to every story?

So when that's all said and done how do you then deal with the "There are two sides to every story” comments?

Every once in a while, someone will pop up with this phrase in an attempt to downplay or excuse abuse. It is important to note that abuse is NEVER okay, not for ANY reason.

My first serious boyfriend was beaten by his alcoholic father a lot as a child... not a very original scenario sadly. His father would chase him around with a baseball bat, and his siblings would laugh at him, because at least it wasn't ‘their turn’ to be on the receiving end of the abuse. He withdrew emotionally, and then began to behave passive-aggressively, taking his anger out on others. When I first met him, I was not at all interested in dating, I was very young but eventually he began his ‘grooming’ behaviour. He did all the usual courting behaviour taking me places, I didn't know what love was yet, at the time, but I cared deeply for the broken boy who told me all about his troubled and abusive home life. He was angry at his father for verbally abusing him and beating him, especially more than he abused his brothers, and (as far as I am aware) he never laid a finger on his sisters, but didn't have to in order to abuse them verbally and psychologically everyday.

I sunk deeper and deeper into feeling sorry for the broken boy who shared his pain and shame with me, but at some point that broken boy forgot what it was like to be beaten and otherwise abused by someone he loved, or he at least did not care that he was enacting the exact same type of abuse onto me. He was angry that he had been a victim and wanted to feel the false version of ‘power’ he felt his dad had over him.

So where did that leave me?

I felt so sorry for my abuser, and I felt responsible for not being able to ‘make him happy’ the way I once did when he still idealised me, and ‘loved’ (was infatuated with) me, and used me as an escape from his sad reality. He didn't start out abusing me. It began slowly, and was introduced in small increments. At one point, my abuser either turned off his ability to empathise with others, or just revealed that he had none at all. He only felt sorry for himself. I tried desperately to ‘fix’ the broken boy. 

The bond that we formed before he raped me was intense. So intense that I still felt sorry for HIM, even after he violated me, my trust, and my body. I even stopped crying after he told me to "Quit making him feel bad" because I never wanted to hurt that broken boy, even after he broke me. I felt responsible for his pain, I felt ashamed for making ‘him’ feel bad about his abusive behaviour. He slowly began to introduce more and more abusive acts after that, usually while using the excuse that he was "just joking", and I was once again "being too sensitive". In reality, he did not want to accept any consequences for his poor behaviour, and he was holding me personally responsible for his happiness, or lack thereof.

Yes. There are two (or three, or sometimes more) sides to every story... But in ALL of those sides, no matter what someone's excuse, abuse is NEVER okay. In all of those sides, we ALL have a CHOICE. I was also abused as a child, but I chose to try to ‘fix’ someone else besides myself, and he chose to try to ‘break’ me, instead of fixing himself.

What made us choose to do different things with our pain? Perhaps the ability to empathise was the only difference when it boiled down to it. The red flags were all there in the beginning of our friendship, but I had no knowledge of how to identify abuse and manipulation yet. I only knew how to try to ‘help’ (enable) others, and how to adapt my own reactions to abuse, so that my abuser (hopefully) wouldn't get angry again. I learned to walk on eggshells to try to ‘fix’ an angry boy, in hopes that somehow, he would eventually stop trying to ‘break’ me.

So, what now? Whenever I encounter an abusive person who is angry with me for calling out abuse when I see it, I think of this quote from the Matrix "You have to understand. Most people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured and so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it." This is the reality of an abuser, especially one from a dysfunctional and emotionally or physically abusive family. 

However our job as survivors and activists is to keep shining our light out to other survivors, and break the silence by addressing the issue of domestic violence EVERY TIME we see it, no matter how ‘trivial’ it may seem to some, because Love should NEVER hurt.

Written by Helen Johnson

Domestic and Sexual Violence 

Vice President, Empowered & Beautiful

Domestic Violence Support Network

 All advice in this article is provided with an extreme caution warning. Victims of abuse often experience a range of abuse including but not limited to intimidation, control, threats, financial control, damage to family, relationships and finances via gambling, alcoholism and substance addiction and abuse  including prescription drugs, sexual assault, verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Victims, friends, family and colleagues of victims are advised to exercise caution when dealing with any form of domestic violence. Statistically 1 in 3 Australian Women will experience violence by age 15, the greatest threat to a victims safety is when trying to escape their situation. Domestic violence does not discriminate, victims of abuse include, men, women, children and other family members, friends, colleagues and those from all levels of economic backgrounds and cultures. Whilst we advocate breaking the silence we urge Victims to seek support and advice and always  put their safety and children's safety first

See below for places where you can access support.

Domestic Violence Statistics in Australia

Many believe Australia is the lucky country. However as the below statistics demonstrate, a dark veil of hidden violence is at epidemic proportions in this country. The vast majority of dangerous, abusive and violent behaviour that occurs in the privacy of people's homes is committed by men against women.  Violence against women is now recognised to be a serious and widespread problem in Australia with enormous individual, community, social and economic costs

(Info provided by

The following basic statistics help demonstrate the prevalence and severity of violence against women: 

On average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia.

One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner.

One in four Australian women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.

Women are at least three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.

Women are five times more likely than men to require medical attention or hospitalisation as a result of intimate partner violence, and five times more likely to report fearing for their lives.

Of those women who experience violence, more than half have children in their care.

Violence against women is not limited to the home or intimate relationships.  Every year in Australia over 300,000 women experience violence - often sexual violence - from someone other than a partner.

Eight out of ten women aged 18 to 24 were harassed on the street in the past year.

Young women (18-24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups.

Intimate partner violence contributes to more death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 than any other preventable risk factor.

Domestic or family violence against women is the single largest driver of homelessness for women, a common factor in child protection notifications and results in a police call-out on average once every two minutes across the country.

The combined health, administration and social welfare costs of violence against women have been estimated to be $21.7 billion  a year, with projections suggesting that if no further action is taken to prevent violence against women, costs will accumulate to $323.4 billion over a thirty-year period from 2014-15 to 2044-45. 

Useful articles

My family member is abusing their partner! What do I do?

Coercive control: How can you tell whether your partner is emotionally abusive?


Apologies and Excuses

Abuse Misconception - At least he doesn't hit me.