Xenia's Blogs

Here is a series of blogs created by Xenia Schembri offering great support and advice on a range of trauma related topics. Feel free to comment and share with others. 

RED FLAGS... Trauma Bonding

Have you ever felt an attachment to someone and no matter how that person treats you, you find excuses for the bad behaviour and you overlook the red flags and abuse? In fact, you feel you have to do whatever it takes to get love from them to escape the despair of feeling unloved or discarded by them.

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RED FLAGS... Love Bombing

How do you know the difference between love bombing and love? Let's talk about what love bombing is and then I will discuss how to know the difference. The terminology ‘love bombing’ has become increasingly more popular over recent years and refers to a pattern of overly affectionate behaviours that, occurs mostly at the beginning of a relationship. One party ‘bombs’ the other with over-the-top displays of adoration and attention.

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RED FLAGS... Codependency v Interdependency

‘Am I in love or am becoming co-dependent?’ Is a question that I have been asked many times. This blog is not about abusive relationships as such, although they can turn abusive. I want to be clear that a survivor of an abusive relationship is not to blame at any stage and are not co-dependent, they are or have been traumatised. And they react and respond accordingly. but for anyone who is questioning co-dependency then here is an explanation that may help.

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RED FLAGS... Coercive Control

It starts with the little things, 'I don't like your hair this way' or 'I don't like that top'. Before long, it's taken over your life.

It's okay to accept someone's opinion on things, and everyone has a right to have their own point of view. When the statements get treated as 'law' in a relationship, then you have a problem. This creates a fear of what your partner might do when they don't like something. When their reactions dictate your behaviours, it has become controlling. Before long, you can't make decisions on your own, and you feel imprisoned by their rules and regulations. You feel like you have been taken by force and being held against your will.

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RED FLAGS... Gaslighting

To know how to spot gaslighting, you need to understand it. Gaslighting has become a popular term, but it can be a bit hard to get your head around. It is a manipulative manoeuvre used by an abuser to make someone question their own thoughts, memories and events occurring around them. Eventually, the victim may even question their own sanity.

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RED FLAGS... The Great SAFE Escape

Everyone knows how hard it is to break up a relationship but to leave a person who is abusing you is particularly hard. Mainly because of the fears that are involved... What will you do? How will you do it so you are safe?

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RED FLAGS... Why Do I Feel Their Guilt

There are so many of us that carry guilt around with us, and for the survivors of trauma, we carry more than we have to. Many survivors of a traumatic event are left with this sense of guilt and shame, this is known as trauma-related guilt.

Many of us have been diagnosed with PTSD. Guilt and shame have a role in this disorder. Trauma-related guilt is the feeling of regret that we could have, should have, and we didn’t do something different than what we did at the time of the event, or within the ongoing abuse or trauma-related incident.

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RED FLAGS... Reactive Abuse

As we know, most abusers use tactics to confuse their victims, I have spoken about that many times in my other blogs. What I want to address in this one, is how abusers use reactive abuse tactics to shift the blame for the abuse on the other person. Reactive abuse is one of the favourite moves of the abuser. They use this tactic to try and make the victim believe that they are the actual abuser because the victim reacted to the abuse that they have had to endure. The victim may have reacted by; shouting, screaming, snapping, throwing insults, or physically fighting back or lashing out. The abuser will try to convince the victim that they are overreacting because 'there is nothing' worth reacting about.

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RED FLAGS... Breaking The 'Abuse Me' Vibe

For years I remember thinking have I got 'abuse me' written on my forehead, or did I give out an 'I'm easy for you to abuse' kind of vibe?

I have since discovered that I am not the only one who felt this. Many people, especially women, can go from one abusive relationship to another. Maybe we don't feel we deserve any better. Perhaps, we are kind and gentle. Some people may take advantage of our demeanour. Or do we actually like the bad boy/girl image?

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RED FLAGS... Fear of Leaving

The question I probably get asked the most since I left my 15-year abusive relationship is, 'why didn't you just leave?' Every time I am asked, it almost feels as if they are blaming me for staying. The facts are, there are many reasons why people stay in an unhealthy relationship and no matter how many other people suggest leaving it has to be done in your own time.

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Questions you DON'T ask someone in an unhealthy relationship

For many years people have asked me ‘why didn’t you leave your ex-husband sooner?’ Or ‘If there were signs of control before you got married why did you marry him?’ These are genuine questions that really bother people who have not been in an abusive relationship. Even though I understand why people ask these questions, it is frustrating to hear it. I felt that it almost put the blame of the abuse on me. It was as if people were saying ‘you kept putting yourself into the situation, or you should have known better’. I often said that to myself, I would take the blame, maybe I should have known better.

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FREEDOM... From the crazy and negative minds

During my time of recovering from the unhealthy relationship that I had with my ex-husband, I found that it was more about conquering my thoughts and beginning to make new choices.

You see, I believed the things that I was told by him. I believed I couldn’t do anything, that I was solely dependent upon him and had no independence at all.

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