Love Shouldn’t Hurt

April 30, 2020

300: the prolific film historically retelling The Battle of Thermopylae, where a comparatively small Spartan army courageously defied the odds, stood their ground, and helped protect their beloved homeland. 300: the percentage of increased calls to Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver this month. 300: the number of days since I last saw my abusive ex-partner…

When I reflect back, it was the moments of connection that were most liberating.

Sitting, on my Mum’s sofa with a glass of rosé as she patiently, yet painfully, listened to the circular conversations and despairingly pleaded for me to see my worth. Word by loving word, counteracting the gaslighting by shining a non-noxious light to illuminate truth.

Standing, at the forefront of a meeting after successive nights of insomnia, with my phone beating in my pocket unbeknownst to all but me. I found escape in people’s faces. That curiosity, energy, and belief helped to unentangle the growing trauma bonds, eradicate the hurtful words and self-doubt, and reignite my passion for philanthropy and cerebral pursuits. “Wow, maybe I’m worthy after all.”

Running. Running to friends, an army, across this beautiful country, whose counsel and unconditional support grounded me and made sure my heart still beat its growingly reluctant rhythm. “Wow, people are good and beautiful.”

Falling. Recaptured and isolated; you have been drawn in by the victim narrative; faux medical emergency; a bailiffs’ pursuit; a scandal of infidelity; that battering of all you are. It does not take a lot to take you back to square one. It is like Atlas. You have an army, beautifully helping you to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You are as strong as can be and ready to flee, but then you are “home” and then you shrug. Upon seeing them, upon hearing their words, you are trapped and all that hard work is undone. 1,342 miles from Stockholm but the syndrome is at your door.

I implore you to look up the definition of a pandemic and tell me that domestic violence is not the same. Intimate partner violence, in all of its forms, IS a pandemic: an opportunistic infection; an intimate terrorism which thrives in these pandemic conditions. I will never claim to have the luxury of not being abused, but I will claim the luxury of not having been abused in a pandemic lockdown.

More needs to be done. Public health measures need to improve. The law needs reformation. Together we can stop domestic violence. Together, one story at a time, we can change the world. This is my story. What’s yours?

Love Shouldn’t Hurt – A SenseMaker® response to Domestic Violence, now live and awaiting your stories! If you’re interested in partnering with us to launch this project in your country, organisation, or as part of academic research, please email me at:

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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