Yesterday was International Women’s Day. Considering that my practice as a therapist has led to specialisation in gambling and women I found it a bit of a magical coincidence as well as entirely appropriate that this was the day my blog came to life!
Yesterday morning I searched on line for the meaning of International Women’s Day, reading thousands of heartfelt, inspiring words in praise of those women who are forging ahead and living life as an adventure and thousands of words of hope and encouragement to those women for whom even to take the first step into truly living a life feels for whatever reason impossibly hard.
In amongst all the wonderful stories and messages I heard the words of Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director, speaking on discrimination and violence against women and girls “Enough is enough “ for me those words resonated most strongly. Perhaps they resonated because of the nature of my work and perhaps too because of their simple and strong message. A few and simple words but if they were truly heard and acted on would have very many positive implications for what is a complex issue. Not only stopping violence against women, but also reducing the less obvious consequences of such abuse. In my experience a frequent and devastating consequence is that of addiction.
If the words of Michelle Bachelet had the power to call a halt to domestic violence I would see far less women for gambling addiction treatment. 84 % of women I have worked with in Women’s Group therapy for more than seven years have been the survivors of child abuse or domestic violence.
Whether the attack on the woman has been physical, sexual or psychological, the real and lasting damage has been to her emotional and psychological world. Her broken bones may heal, but she feels that her trust in close relationship has been shattered beyond any hope of repair. Not trusting enough to risk being close to another she withdraws from close relationships and so has no emotional support for her problems. She learns to cope with life’s difficulties and uncomfortable feelings by suppressing rather than expressing them. Suppressing them maybe with at first just a little more money and time than usual spent focussing on playing the slot machine, or gambling online rather than focussing on her problems…
Yesterday evening at dinner with some friends from my clinic and knowing I had an early start this morning I resisted the temptation of a second glass of rather delicious white wine. Someone asked me in a jovial way why was I not drinking to excess or gambling at a time when surely I must be feeling more than a little stressed, have a million and one deadlines to meet? I responded “I think because I’m fortunate enough to have family and friends for support.”
It may sound simple but when the pressures of life feel too much what makes the difference in whether we turn to something to suppress our feelings or to somebody to express our feelings lies in whether or not we feel we have somebody we can trust in to be there and to listen when for whatever reason we feel “enough is enough.”