Beyond Now: Domestic Violence Survivors Creating a Roadmap for the Journey After Abuse

November 22, 2019


Have you ever wondered how domestic violence survivors rebuild their lives after experiencing years of abuse?

The Australian Charity Broken to Brilliant was founded in 2016 by domestic violence survivors to mentor fellow survivors helping them to create a new chapter in their lives. Our goal is to reduce the long-term impact of domestic violence and to create a community of connection, support and mentorship amongst domestic violence survivors.

From our years of personal experience, feedback from our fellow survivors and the research literature it has been identified that there is a lack of services and supports for domestic survivor’s long-term recovery. The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence 2016 found that “current responses to family violence do not sufficiently emphasise recovery and restoration and may even impede it [1pp 29].”

Beyond Now: Domestic Violence Survivors Creating a Roadmap for the Journey After Abuse

With government reports making these statements it was fortunate that Broken to Brilliant had already began addressing this issue. We launched our first book Broken to Brilliant Breaking Free to be You After Domestic Violence in 2016. Our book writing projects enable domestic violence survivors to share deeply personal stories of tragedy and eventual triumph to help fill the gap in the research and knowledge about the long-term recovery for domestic violence survivors.

The book Broken to Brilliant had a positive impact on people’s lives – it breathed hope into people’s hearts and inspired the spark of a new chapter in their lives. These stories created ripples of recovery and repair – we could not turn away and stop these ripples of healing. And so, in 2018 our second book Terror to Triumph Rebuilding Life After Domestic Violence emerged. We wanted to enhance our support for the authors, so this time we held a three-day live-in writing retreat. Eleven women and one man attended. Activities included art therapy, writing techniques, exercise, meditation and positive affirmations. The activities helped participants recover their ability to play, plan, laugh, create, hope and write. One author said, “I leave a different person. There is no doubt about that”.

Once again, we were inspired to embark on another book, due to the amazing breakthroughs the authors reported as a result of the Terror to Triumph writing retreat and sharing their stories. The next book Shattered to Shining Journeys Of Surviving And Thriving After Domestic Violence was made possible with funding from the Community Sector Banking and Community Enterprise Foundation.

Broken to Brilliant called for authors and we received more applications than spaces in the book. Nine women and one man were accepted to share their stories in the third book of stories of strength and success after domestic violence. The writing process gives survivors a voice, and its importance cannot be overstated, especially when so many people have been shamed and silenced through domestic violence in the past. The workshop builds connections with others that have experienced similar hardship it is a very powerful part of recovery. We see strength and healing when people come together to move forward from their trauma.

What the authors said:

Reading other people’s stories helps make you feel not so alone.

It was validating in the sense that I am “believed”, It was beyond powerful… it had to be the most cathartic experience I’ve ever had in my life.

My journey through working with Broken to Brilliant has changed my life by giving me a strength and a peace I have never known.

Using the three books of stories by 32 domestic violence survivors from across Australia and one USA citizen.  The Broken to Brilliant Research Working Group reviewed and thematically analysed the 96,000-words in these books to create the top ten strategies survivors used to rebuild their lives.

As survivors we know, the roadmap to recovery after abuse is not a straight or a stepped path. The journey is a winding road that circles and spirals, back and forwards. The keys to rebuilding life after abuse are engaging supports; a safe nurturing home; meaningful contribution; lifelong learning; self-knowledge; financial fitness; spiritual practice; physical heath; personal growth and designing your future.  Our stories of strength and success are creating a roadmap for the journey after abuse. These books can be used by health professionals and services that support domestic violence survivors as a guide to helping their clients rebuild their lives.

Broken to Brilliant is proud to be involved in the 5th Stop Domestic Violence Conference held at the Gold Coast 9-11th December 2019. We contributed to the proceedings through:

This blog;

A poster presentation, titled “Trauma informed story telling creating a roadmap for the journey after abuse”; and

Founding Director Kate Crowley Smith and Author and Speaker Sharon Le Fort Co-chaired Day 1 Conference session titled “Early Intervention & Response” 

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