Healing after Domestic Violence
00:00 intro-Welcome to the Hearts and Entwined podcast, in this podcast we’ll be having discussions around the secrets which attract lasting, healthy fulfilling relationships creating a healthy mindset, and what women should know, and understand about men. Introducing your host, Lynn Smith, Queen of Hearts, relationship expert, trainer, speaker, and best selling author of “The Cupid’s Bow Technique”. Lynn’s position is the have a positive impact in reducing divorce, domestic violence and suicide.
host- Welcome to the Hearts Entwined podcast, this is your host Lynn Smith and today listeners, I’ve got a very very kind hearted woman, who has been through some really shocking trauma in her past and I’ve wanted to invite her on, her name is September Burton and she’s got a very profound story to share which I think some of you will be able to relate to and hopefully gain a lot of insights and wisdoms around how to heal after domestic violence so welcome to you September.
guest-Hi Lynn, thank you so much for having me on!
host-Well September, I think it would be appropriate probably on the back of the headline being “Healing After Domestic Violence” to give us a little bit of an insight around you and your personal story, if you’re happy to share it.
guest-So, my story is, um, pretty intense domestic violence, it was more emotional and psychological abuse, there was some physical abuse, but um, it was , it was somebody who at the end of the relationship decided to start recording me, all day every day for a seven month period. Um and then, you know I tried to get a protective order because he started stalking and coming into the home covertly and hacking into the home security system and doing all sorts of crazy things like that. So I sought a protective order and what was interesting to me about the recordings was that I didn’t know that they were a thing yet. He did it for emotional black mail essentially, to keep me, you know in my place and feel control over me and things like that and so he’s really really really good, he’s very very sneaky and very very covert and so he did this and then in the protective order hearing, he was talking about how he had recorded me all day every day for seven months and his chest was actually puffed out as he was saying this, he was so proud of himself and I just thought, how you know, how can anybody look at this situation and not think that there is something off with a person who would record somebody else in their home, um, for a seven month period and uh- but he’s an attorney and so he knew exactly what the judge wanted to hear and so he made up some creative fun stories and um got out of everything and so I’m actually still living in hiatus, I haven’t been able to go back safely to my home, so I left where we were and I just kinda left in the middle of the night, that kinda thing, left absolutely everything behind, got on an airplane, um, went to Hawaii, called the women’s shelter as soon as I got there and stayed in the women’s shelter for a couple months and then um he found me there and so I actually left hawaii, went to Jamaica for a little while, spent a few weeks in Jamaica and that was a big part of my healing journey. What I think is the cool part of the story like; yea there’s the abuse and there is all this craziness that happened and yes I’m still living in hiatus but its the healing journey that you know, living in the women’s shelter, um, that was a beautiful, beautiful experience for me because I got to experience what happens when women heal together and there is this magical, amazing bond that happens between women when they’re healing together and so you know, being in the shelter with these other women who had just experienced some traumatic events as well, was incredibly powerful. And then like I said, I went to Jamaica and I think that going to Jamaica I didn’t know why I was there and I stayed in an airbnb when I got there and I told the guy who owned the place the night that I got there, “I don’t actually know why im here right now” well come to find out, he was- in his day – he was a very famous poet and so I have become a poet actually and I’ve started writing and I’ve gotten very very into reading poetry and now I’ve even started writing my own poetry which is a huge part of my healing journey. So I guess that’s the beauty of it, is learning more about me, so that I never get myself into another situation like this.
Host- How long were you guys together, were you actually living together or separately, or what were the circumstances of it??
Guest- Yea so we were together for about five years, we actually have three children together, we have three daughters, a set of twins and they’re two year old twins so yea it was basically a marital relationship.
Host- Right, okay, so, did the children go with you, or what happened regarding your kids and this situation?
Guest- No I’m from the states and in the states if there’s anything in the court system regarding custody over the children then if either parent takes them over state lines, it is considered kidnapping and so if I bought them with me, I would be in prison right now for kidnapping.
Host- So where are your children now, are they with him or his family or your family or what happened there?
Guest- They’re with him and I don’t know what it’s like at the UK or anywhere else in the world really, but I know that in the states there is a huge problem in the family court system that the there was a lot of cheating there’s a lot of lying there’s a lot of favoritism there’s a lot of those corruption going on and so I ended up losing custody of those kids. So at this point I don’t have custody of my children.
Host- So how old are they now?
Guest- The twins are two and then my other baby girl is- she is about to turn four.
Host- I’m sorry to hear that because I know how devastating that can be to lose access to your children can be, that’s really hard and really tough. So, um yeah my heartfelt sympathy around that situation. When he was recording you at what point did you become aware, were you ever aware? Or did it become apparent sort of literally in the court when he was sort of more or less bragging about it .
Guest- Yeah, it was in the courtroom when I found out he was using some of the recordings as evidence and so he said that he started doing it to show me that I was gaslighting him and his intention to start doing it was to let me listen to myself so that I can see how I was gaslighting him, when in reality, you know he was the one doing the gaslighting. I just think he is very smart, he’s a very very intelligent person, so he made a few recordings and then he listened to them- realized that he was the one doing the gaslighting and not me and so he never you know, approached me with them or had me listen to them because he could see that he was the one doing it and not me.
Host- And for the listeners who are not familiar with the term gaslighting, what that actually means
Guest- Gaslighting is anything causes you to question reality so lie are a form of gaslighting, one example of gaslighting would be the girls came back to me having had their hair trimmed at one point and I sent an email to him and his mom and his dad and his stepmom um, and I just said “if you could just talk to me before cutting my kids hair “ and his mom’s response was “well it didn’t look to me like they’d even had hair cuts” that would be gaslighting because that cause me to question well did they have haircuts? you know what I mean, that’s gaslighting.
Host- Okay, I just wanted to clear that up because I know there probably are some listeners thinking “well what’s gaslighting?” you know? “What is that and can I relate to that or not, in my own situation.” So were any of the recordings actually played as evidence at court?
Guest- They were because I, ended up- I’m a pretty stable person, but I did lose it at the end at the very very end of the relationship I just- there were times where I just would start screaming and I slapped him across the face and of course you know there’s some physical abuse on his side and so he played those recordings and just the little snippets that were right for him which isn’t actually supposed to be allowed in a courtroom, if you’re playing a recording you’re supposed to play the entire thing, but that was part of the cheating: was that got away with just doing the little snippets that made me sound bad and he left out what makes him sound bad. But then I went through and I transcribed the recordings and yes I’m crying and I’m screaming and I’m upset and I sound horrible but what’s really being said is “Why can’t you just be nice to me?” and then he comes back with “I tried that and it doesn’t work.” and then you know I come back with “I’m sorry I just don’t want you to be mean to me anymore.” So it’s obvious you know psychological and emotional abuse but when you just listen to it like I sound like the one who’s crazy and he did that very intentionally he knew exactly what he was doing so…
Host- It’s interesting that he was able to get away with editing it so that the full context or the full picture of the scenario wasn’t apparent.
Guest- Yes it’s- the whole court case was pretty bad, at some point I’ll have a legal analyst go over it and actually review everything that happened because it is so obvious I mean- it’s bad I won’t say more about it than that.
Host- Well yea, I mean it could question the whole court system in that regard so, you know there’s obviously fault, not just with him, that actual whole scenario, so who’s responsible for allowing that situation to be played out the way it was.
Host- So when you went to the first place, which was Hawaii, how did he track you down there?
Guest- So he sent me the package and tracked it and I didn’t know this,I didn’t know what was going to happen, but it’s kind of funny that I had ordered something off of etsy.com and and I had forgotten to update my address to the Hawaii address so she had sent it to my previous address on the mainland and and then she sent me an email and she said you know “I’m really sorry that this package is late, I don’t understand why it’s taking so long” and then a few days later it arrived and she sent me another message saying “oh I’m so happy, I see that it made it to Hawaii” And I thought “wait a second, how did she know that it made it to Hawaii”, so I got on post office website and I looked and when something is forwarded like that with a tracked package it does show the city of the final destination and so that’s what they did was they sent me a package through the post office that was addressed to my previous address but then it was forwarded by the post office so they could see, you know, the city that it was forwarded to.
Host- So did he actually make face-to-face contact with you when he was in Hawaii, how did that show itself?
Guest- No he didn’t, that was at the peak of Covid when we were all still figuring out how to re navigate life and everything was just on complete lockdown at that time so when that first happened I wasn’t concerned right away. it was actually still a few months that I stayed in Hawaii beforeI ran again just because I knew that there was no realistic way that he was going to come there and do anything and Hawaii was very very very big on the whole 14 day quarantine for anybody that came on to the island and even within our island travel they were very very strict about the 14-day quarantines .
Host- Alright okay so what was actually the thing that made you want to move away from Hawaii to Jamaica, obviously something that triggered you to make you want to think “I’m not going to be safe staying here anymore.” ?
Guest- They started to lift some of the covid-19 restrictions and as I was watching the situation start to unravel I knew that as soon as covid restrictions were lifted I was going to be gone and so they lifted inner Island quarantine rules which I actually think was a mistake but I knew that that was close enough for me, that’s enough of a ease up on the restrictions I’m going to go.
Host- And what was it when I suppose you made that decision, I suppose a bit more of a light bulb moment that means you actually finally escaped that situation and realize you know for my own safety my own health my own well-being, I need to go?
Guest- Do you mean getting out of the relationship or leaving the city for safety?
Host- Well both really, yeah.
Guest- Well for getting out of the relationship, I didn’t actually leave. I was very very caught up in the belief that you stay together for the kids and you can work it out and you get therapy. The therapist is going to solve all your problems and everything is going to be fine. I didn’t realize how severely traumatized I was. I was diagnosed with complex PTSD as a result of the abuse over the years and trauma but I didn’t realize how severely traumatized I was. And he at the very end of the relationship right before he left he looks at me one day and he said you need therapy, which was the best thing that you could have said because I thought okay I’m going to go find a therapist and so I did and she actually turned out to be an angel and I’m actually still working with her and she was the first one to say – what she said to me was: “have you ever heard of the narcissist empath dance” And I was like “ nope not familiar with that at all” and then we started talking about that and then I started reading books on narcissism I started and understanding what it was and I was actually dealing with it. (15:00) Once I started to understand and you know actually see what really happened and what was unfolding in the thing both of them is that they’re very predictable, once you start to understand them they become extremely predictable and so I knew exactly what his next moves were going to be and things like that. and so he had been covertly entering the home, he had lied blatantly in the courts, he made up this story – there was a chandelier that had obviously been messed with once when I took the kids camping over the summer so he had been in the home while we were camping and I brought pictures of that into the courtroom as evidence and he said that he and the kids would use that glass Chandelier as a target for Nerf guns and the judge bought it which is mind-blowing. So when I saw that he was willing to make up these creative stories and he was not stopping there were protective orders against him and he was continuing to stalk me even with the protective orders and then I learned about something called the mosaic threat assessment which is you know you just Google Mosaic threat assessment and you can find it and it’s a threat assessment that they use to basically assess how much danger are you really in and when I went through and did it he scored a 9 out of 10 when I saw that I was like I have got to get out of here because my kids are better off with a mom whose far away than they are with a mom who’s dead. and so you know I still fully believe that if I hadn’t left when I did I would not be around to be telling the story right now. So that was really the final straw. I had seen a friend of mine what’s in a week before I left and she looked at me- and you know everybody could see that I was just not okay- and she looked at me and she said “if you need help I have connections all you have to do is call I’m just a phone call away” and I said okay you know thank you whatever and I process that for a couple of days and then I did the Mosaic threat assessment and as soon as I saw that I called her and I said I need help and I need help now and so she got me a plane ticket on the plane and she said you know as soon as you get there just call the women’s shelter and so that was kind of how I got oh
Host- Wow, excellent. again for the benefit of listeners that aren’t necessarily aware of what’s a term narcissism actually means, how would you describe or explain that to somebody.
Guest- So the biggest factor with narcissism is that it’s somebody who lacks empathy and empathy is you know what creates human connection without empathy there really is no human connection and so with narcissists what you have is somebody who wears a mask And somebody who masquerades around like this perfect wonderful human being and this narcissist is really really good at fooling people and making them think that he is just this wonderful person and but if you see behind the mask there’s nothing there there’s no depth to who they are there’s no substance to who they are they basically take on beliefs of whoever they’re around at the time they’re good at fooling you they do the love bonding at the beginning of the relationship and then they start to withdraw their love, in my case is love bonding was all about verbal affirmations and verbal reinforcement things and so he would tell me you’re so amazing you’re so intelligent you’re so wonderful you know he was always telling me all these things, building me up and then when he flipped it was your worthless you’re nothing you’re pathetic you know those kinds of things and so that’s what they do they love bomb you and then you become actually addicted to them it’s actually an addiction and then of course they discard you at the end so basically just throw you away.
Host- I know this is common from you now the unhealthy musket and Mom perspective but to be narcissistic but is this common in reverse as well about narcissistic women?
Guest- I think there are some narcissistic women for sure oh, it’s more common for women who develop a personality disorder to be borderline or – there’s another one I can’t think of the name right now but those are more common for women and narcissism is more common for men but you know it can go both ways, men can be borderline women can be narcissists it just depends on your trauma and how you process things
Host- And do fear for your daughter’s, I mean is he good, he might not have been a good partner (20:00) or boyfriend was he a good father to your children?
Guest- He’s a good father right now yes he’s a good father because they’re dolls to him they give him a lot of attention they feed his ego and so as long as he, you know they’re simply toys to him because as long as that’s the case he’s a great father he plays with them he read some stories he kisses them good night you know he did so only good father things. The challenge is going to be that these are all girls and he’s not very into feminism and strong women and things like that and so when they start to grow up when I start to have opinions of their own, that’s when things are going to get rough so I’m hoping, more than hoping, I’m focussed on getting things taken care of in terms of figuring out the situation before they get much older.
Host- Excellent so what is your focus immediately then to ensure that that happens sooner rather than later?
Guest- Right at this minute my focus is on healing myself it’s on you know saying safe, I’m still in hiding and that healing myself because I really believe that the more the parent heals themselves the easier it is for a child, because even though I’m not physically present with them there’s a bond, an unbreakable bond between a mother and her children and so the more that I heal the more that it’s going to lift them up and benefit them and then as soon as we’re reunited, it makes me a better mom even than I was before the more that I focus on just healing myself so that’s where I’m at right now and you know what the next move is going to be, we’ll figure that out as we go along.
Host- That’s brilliant, you know I think you’re doing exactly the right thing because without healing your wounds you can’t like you say be as good of a parent as you need to be to those girls once the time comes when you reunited and reconciled and so I 100% believe you’re doing exactly the right thing in terms of focussing on yourself right now.
Guest- Yeah you know what’s interesting is I think it was the last episode I saw that you did or at least the last one that was published, you talked about the toxic feminine and how there’s that toxic masculinity that we talked about and then there’s the other side and that’s kind of the harsh reality that I had to face was like why did I do this why did I make this choice you know how did I get myself into the situation and that’s really what I’m focussed on as far as my healing process, I didn’t have enough self-love I was in nurtured enough as a child I didn’t get the my needs met and I turned him in and I thought that they were going to be my knight in shining armour and that they’re going to be heroes and save me from all of my woes kinda thing so I think that you know for me it’s been a lot of boat getting into feminism and you know healthy feminism, not the angry feminism, getting into feminism and reading poetry and becoming a poet myself really creating my own poetry. And so there’s that toxic feminine side to and that’s where I was and that’s what I’m seeking to get out of now.
Host- Excellent what I’d also like to pick up on what you just said is how healing the poetry has actually been for you because I think a lot of the clients that I have worked with find that some sort of activity will there be arts or crafts or certainly journaling or writing stuff like poetry has been very therapeutic and they’re happy they’ve done it.
Guest- Absolutely yeah I think it’s about creativity I think it’s about unlocking the creative side of your brain because I let you know in modern day society we’re stuck focussed on the math and the science and that’s fantastic and we need that but we’re losing touch with the creativity of being a human being and when you look at nature it’s pure creativity and yeah science yeah there’s biology and botany and all that is pure beauty and creativity without the creativity it wouldn’t be beautiful.
Host- And I’ve certainly noticed with certainly, obviously looking into that and guiding women down that path that I’ve worked around you know what is it they’d like to get involved and they used to do or would like to do in terms of creative stuff whether it’s knitting sewing writing painting drawing you know like you said it’s any sort of creativity you know isn’t it?
Guest- Yeah absolutely for me the Poetry what it does for me is you know there’s there was a moment when I lied to cover bruises and that was an all-time low in my life and I turn that into a poem and it feels like now (25:00) that’s not in me anymore it’s on the paper taken care of does that make sense?
Host- Yeah you unloaded it and I actually give women sometimes that is an exercise to do you write down your feelings get everything down on the paper and then as a sort of actively let it all go be it burning it, destroy it I know that that’s not going to affect you because you got rid of it and you’re liberated the back of unloading yourself through that medium.
Guest- Yeah absolutely it’s so healing.
Host- I certainly find it also a good exercise to get women to write a letter to their partner as well you know not meaning to send it it’s one of those letters that you don’t mean to send but it is again you know it’s getting all their feelings out around that particular person as well.
Guest- Yeah I did that for a while. I have a file on my computer full of letters to him and that was really helpful for me. That was well I was figuring out what narcissism was so I was still kind of almost pleading for the relationship to write itself phase. So that was before I actually figured out what I was dealing with, and there’s no way that this relationship was going to write itself but it was healing and I still have them they’re still there.
Host- And do you think you’ll keep them there where do you think you’ll delete them or do you think you’ll ever print those or what’s your reason for still having them there?
Guest- I don’t think that I’m done processing at yet so I think they’re still there waiting to be processed and what I do with them when I feel processing I don’t know I’m a print them off and burn them I think the burning is very very I mean that’s really therapeutic so I may we’ll see.
Host- Yeah it definitely sends a message out to the universe to say I’m done with this to have some sort of letting go ceremony like I say I like that.
Guest- Yeah absolutely
Host- So if you know that you’re speaking to some people or some women in particular in the audience that maybe sort of recognizing themselves in your story what would be your advice to them right now September?
Guest- I would say get some good books the book “Women Who Run with the Wolves” it’s such a powerful healing book and the woman who who wrote it Clarissa Pinkola Estes She has a bunch of other books on Audible as well, if you’re killing yourself in Mysore you’re probably a mother of a child you probably didn’t get enough nurturing that’s not to say your mother was horrible or anything but she just didn’t get fully get your needs met “Warming The Stone Child” is a powerful powerful book that talks about people like me who just simply didn’t get what we needed as a child and how you can go back now and take care of that and feel that piece of you and warm your own self up and so it’s really at the end of the day it all goes back to self love talk about that so much but it’s so true it all goes back to self love.
Host- And what was the first step that you took, do you think, and could you remember a particular exercise you did towards recognize and you didn’t have yourself, firstly, and secondly to actually address that?
Guest- I think getting a therapist, and you know I was lucky enough to find a really really good therapist and there are amazing therapists out there and there’s bad therapists out there, like any profession. But I was lucky enough to find an amazing person to work with and she really has just been a rock for me and I’ll continue working with her for probably a very very long time but just having that support and having somebody who understands from a different perspective and a more educated perspective is been incredibly helpful for me and she’s guided me a lot along with all of the some of the books I’ve read and some of the practices that I’ve started and things like that.
Host- Yeah I think that’s very valuable advice. I think a lot of women are drawn to me because they hear their story in my own story and I can absolutely empathize with where they’re at.
Guest- Yeah absolutely I do a lot of, you know, other coaching modalities as well I do a lot of healing things so it’s definitely not just the therapist but I think that they compliment each other and when your focus is on healing yourself and on getting better and on being the best that you can be then you can combine all these different things and it just all comes full circle and it just kind of wraps you in the circle of warmth and at the end of the day that’s really what you need.
Host- Excellent so on that note September, what is the best contact information you can share with her audience for anybody who would want to reach out to you, or be inspired to reach out to you?
Guest- Yeah I guess one of the advantages of being me is that I have a very unique name you know my first name is September so I’m September Burton and across any social media platform or any you know my website is septemberburton.com so that’s how you can find me, September Burton.
Host- September Burton as in “B-u” as in Richard Burton the famous actor?
Guest- Yes my father is Richard Burton but not that Richard Burton!
Host- You know I love that love story between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton because Elizabeth Taylor has got the same birthday as me albeit you know many years older but yeah.
Guest- Yeah that’s fun.
Host- That’s one of my claims to fame, having the same birthday. Okay well thank you so much for sharing your excellent story, very inspirational story and such beautiful words of wisdom and guidance and advice there September!
Guest- Well thank you for having me on it’s an honour and it’s still part of my healing journey to share my story so it’s definitely a privilege thank you!