Laurie Anne Sakla sadly has intimate knowledge of relationship violence. Since escaping from it has become her vocation and her mission to inform, empower, and rescue women entering or desperate to leave that destructive path.
This is a special edition podcast on Relationship Violence. Usually, I am talking to fascinating women about themselves, today's podcast came out of that conversation with Laurie Anne. It is so important I felt we should have a conversation just about that. Here it is.
Some of my photography clients come in working through the aftermath of the relationship. Putting themselves back together. They have gone through a crafted process that places them in the middle of the horror that for a big part aims at destroying their self-confidence, their self-esteem, their sense of beauty; it all winds up damaging their sense of self-worth.
In this conversation, you will learn the signs at the start, the red flags. Laurie Anne will talk about steps women can take (and the few men) to escape. She will list the agencies along with financial support to start again. To renew; to move on.
This is a vital conversation. If you see yourself or a friend from these insights, there is a path out.
You can reach out to Laurie Anne
Here are a few of her credentials.
Masters of Social Work- specialization clinical social work, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.
Bachelor of Arts-Sociology- Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta,
Diploma of Social Work, Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta.
Here are resources for assistance if you are at risk or know someone who is. :
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
24 Hour Family Violence Helpline
From the Alberta.ca website
Family Violence-Help with costs to leave
Sagesse assists with education and workshops around family violence. Women may also access peer support groups and mentorship
HomeFront- Eliminating domestic violence through direct client services, justice coordination, and facilitated community action.
About Mark Laurie - Host.
Mark has been transforming how women see themselves, enlarging their sense of sexy, expanding their confidence in an exciting adventure that is transformational photography.
Sound Production by:
Lee Ellis - firstname.lastname@example.org
Reach out to Lee for your Sound Production
You're listening to fascinating women with Mark Laurie. And now, Mark Laurie.Mark Laurie :
Hello, it's Mark Laurie here with fascinating women. We just had a conversation in the last episode with Laurie Anne Sakla. And she is as a clinical social worker, clinical social worker. And a lot of what she deals with is spousal abuse is a good phraseLaurie Ann Sakla :
domestic violence, domestic violence, partner violence,Mark Laurie :
right and intimate partner violence. And out of her conversation with us, we thought having a special edition as you know, we sometimes do the talk about this would be really important. So this time, we're not really exploring what makes her fascinating. We're exploring something a little bit darker and it needs light shined on it and how people can help. So with that as an opening, there's some stats. Let's start with some stats.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Well given I don't know what the stats are in Alberta anymore, but I know Calgary was third in Canada for domestic violence. In the pandemic, we know that domestic violence has increased quite significantly because most of the calls to CPS have increased, given that people are in their home with their partner and their partners are, you know, dealing with other structures, stressors, such as unemployment, you know, how are they going to pay the bills, children at home? So there's multiple stressors, so which is added to the increase in domestic violence? You know, prior to women leaving an abusive relationship, it can take them anywhere from eight to 11 times, unfortunately, so it's a it's a very concerning issue, especially given the pandemicMark Laurie :
Yes, good. It kind of puts a magnifying glass on one of the things that I I've heard people say when they'll go like, well, how, how would you stand for that? And people say I would never stand up but by the time a person can see evidence of spicy spousal abuse, there's spin up, slowly builds up to that. And you call that a honeymoon stage.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Yeah, so it's usually a honeymoon phase, if you can think of domestic violence as a cycle, a cycle, you know, so you're wined and dined. And everything is just perfect. And only things change or gradually over time, whether it's some men or become controlling in the relationship, you know, ask you to change your style, and attire, it could look like isolating you in at home so you move in with them and maybe they live on an acreage or maybe you're isolated from your family or friends. So there's like a gradual process that happens and, and there is red flags along the way, and I'll just use my own experience. I was in a relationship with a very wealthy man. You know, the first six to nine months. Were like wine and dine Louie batanes over the top right, you know, was really persistent and and really chased after me. And so you know, there was like extravagant trips and you know and so first it was he didn't want me to work anymore. Okay, he wanted to have more access. So I was working as a flight attendant at the time and a correctional officer and I also had persons with disabilities living in my home that I was providing care for. So I actually ended up resigning to those positions at first and then had one job. And then it was that wasn't good enough I needed to quit that job to have a little trouble with him on the road for work purposes. So eventually that job went and then he wanted me to move out and into his house which I had done so it was outside of Calgary. So moving away from every thing that I knew I knew like my family, my friends, then it was I wasn't allowed to accept a drink from another male when I was out in public with my girlfriends, so he would always give me a fair amount of cash to buy my girlfriend strings. So, you know, when you're in the thick of things, you don't realize what's going on. Right? So I just thought this was great. Yeah, right. So, but then comes the name calling. And, you know, his favorite word was the C word. I was called in every day. And the comments like nobody likes you. You'll never amount to anything, I'm your best opportunity. Your aging, no one will want you. You know, and just it goes from that and more emotional more and then sometimes physical, you know, when I became pregnant, pushed me and You know, and that was kind of my breaking point, you know, where have I whereas other women sometimes stay because they don't have the means to leave. I was fortunate enough that I kind of I had the means to leave and I had a great family.Mark Laurie :
So you had a structure that was still waiting for you suppose Yeah,Laurie Ann Sakla :
I still had, you know, so as isolated from them for time period, you know, and they didn't really know what was going on. And they just noticed a difference in me. They didn't know what it was. Right. And it Yeah, but I it's concerning to me as a social worker that I didn't even recognize this. Wow.Mark Laurie :
That's how sneaky is the right word? how subtle it can become?Laurie Ann Sakla :
Yes, yeah. Yeah. It just became a norm per se, right. And a normal lived experience. And you know, after a while you start thinking, because they're gaslighting you Yeah. Right. So the you start thinking like, Maybe no one will want Maybe I I'm I'm ugly maybe I'm all these things that you're really not. So it's funny cognitively how it can change you and change your thinkingMark Laurie :
process. I think of the as brown forever where you put a frog in water that slowly heats up and won't leave oil today without even realizing it. Just because it's slowly incrementally and usually the the perpetrator and evolved his skill that at that point time and so it's it's not something they just experimented with, it's something that it's been refined processes at a fair commentLaurie Ann Sakla :
is a fair comment, very skilled master manipulators. You know, most they most likely have a private face and a public face. So in public they present as what amazing guy like everybody likes that person, but really in the privacy of their own homes. There's you're dealing with a different behavior, a different action, a different person. And especially these man with and you know, that are quite well to do and these positions of power. So there was definitely a power dynamic and you know, he had a lot more money than me. So first things he did was, you know, cut me out of the bank account, you know, so, so I went and got a job. But you know, it's a process, you know, but prior to that, you know, when they recognize you might be leaving, they get nice again. So there's that honeymoon cycle goes into the abuse honeymoon cycle again, and that's why most women don't leave. It's because they remember the good times and that's what they focus on. That's almost a survival mode. It is a survival mode. It says, I love you know, there's a response based approach, which I never call a domestic violence survivor and victim no one is a victim. Everyone always takes an active role and Some way to protect themselves whether that woman is sleeping with a cellphone underneath her pillow, that's an act of resistance, you know, packing and having a bag packed or having a password with a friend that they would not normally know that so their friend can know that they're in danger. Those are are all active. So no one is a victim. I justMark Laurie :
want to POSIX I've heard that before as make underlying point, the secret word or the password. And yes, that is a really easy thing, critical thing to have. So you think when you start using that, or even getting it set up with a friend, you're starting to acknowledge the situation that you're in and that is dangerous. Yes. So if that's your first step to tell a friend if you hear this be concerned for me,Laurie Ann Sakla :
yes. So in terms of safety planning with women as a domestic violence counselor, I I always safety plan and that's my number one concern is always safety for that woman. And her children whenever that looks like and I'm going to use women and children, because it's what I'm predominantly. Yeah, that is.Mark Laurie :
So just underlying some things. It's not always the man who is the perpetrator.jLaurie Ann Sakla :
CorrectMark Laurie :
Most times it is just the way society is built. And it's, well, it's gonna include children. Correct. So that becomes leverage in some cases. Yeah. Okay, so I'll let you come on there. Great. So I forgot where you're talking about the safety.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Oh, safety. So yeah, so safety planning. You know, I always first thing I do and I meet a woman is to turn off the location services offer phone, because most controlling men are tracking at some point through different apps, whether it's, I know a big one that they were using for a while was, Oh, it's one the kids all used. Tick tock, not Tick Tock. faces do the filters. Oh, right. Okay. Yeah. So they were using that they're using face They're using Instagram so the first thing I do is I go on a woman's phone, turn off all their location turn off anything make note of any weird apps I see on their phone and actually delete because I don't want them to locate her with me either right because then that puts my safety at risk domestic rose counselor,Mark Laurie :
but that's a second thing to watch for is is an air cases for you. But whoever friends that you're starting to build a safety net with correct Be careful of their safety as well.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Correct? Yeah. Because, you know, human behavior is unpredictable at times and given our times right now and demmick. You don't know how ultimately someone is going to react. So yeah, so safety planning. That's first thing I would do. Tell a woman to do. I would have a bag packed with prescription medications of her to healthcare dumps passport passport for kids, anything the kids that really need a favorite toy favorite blanket that makes them feel Comfortable always like pack somewhere whether it's at a friend's house relative or somewhere in your house where they can't find it. Okay, so that so do and then of course the password so whoever you know a sister or brother whoever that looks like for you as your safety network, I would use a phrase or catch word that you would not normally is like for me it would be spaghetti because I never use spaghetti okay like if someone hears I'm eating spaghetti they know there's something wrong right and so then you can do a hot phone the police and have them do a welfare check and say this is possible domestic violence situation. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Other ways to save de Pon. Oh, gosh, there's just so many ways. I always tell women to have a bank account on the side, too, whether it's like taking $10 from the grocery money, whether that looks like buy new items, buy extra and put them somewhere. That shouldMark Laurie :
almost be a red flag I got I believe you should have joined have access to all accounts. Otherwise it's a red flag. Yeah. And having separate accounts your own money is so I think it's important for your well being like, regardless if you're in the domestic thing or not, this is your I your own choice.Laurie Ann Sakla :
I agree. But there is a lot of financial abuse and even whiskey assistance, especially seniors with dementia, they don't know their own. You know what they have? And they're taking advantage of by professionals as well. Yeah. So I think financial abuse is a huge one, and a lot of women do not have access to to a bank account. And so that's actually the first thing one of the first things I will do is apply for something called the fleeing domestic violence Fund, which is an Alberta works initiative where a woman can get $2,000 to actually leave and set up somewhere else another address or whatever to get them on their feet. Because like I said, most women leaving or leaving with nothingMark Laurie :
that is really Good to hear every time there's so much waste and bad use of taxpayers money. Yeah. But to hear something like that, that is so something so useful, the most vulnerable. I, I'm happy to hear that.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Yeah, there's actually some really great resources out there that women can apply for, you know, you know, obviously Alberta works until they can get on their feed or retraining re education. There's childcare, NIF initiatives ran through the YWCA, that where women can go to school and provide they'll provide childcare and then obviously, there's second stage housing which is a reduced kind of rent. So women so it's affordable for women and, and their children. There's three in Calgary and yeah, so there's this like a lot of services though,Mark Laurie :
sort of woman starts creating, I guess safety situations are, you know, almost they're mentally starting to leave like there was a problem. They're heading out to it. How treat is the actual leadingLaurie Ann Sakla :
well, so leaving as always the most we know that leaving is the most dangerous part of a woman leaving. So we try and get them into a shelter right away because they will not their secure facilities, right, some of their addresses are unknown. And we that's the first thing I will do as on if I took a crisis call and one says I need to leave now we know how imperative that is. I will send a taxi for her and bring her in. You know, if she has no money, that's what we would do or a friend drop her off at our location. We provide a location just to that person. You know, the police can access women's emergency shelters because there's actually Police Officers Wives in most shelters as well. Right. So we're, it's very secure that there's two facilities mainly that are very secure in Calgary. So the first thing would be is to getting them into a safe place where they you know, they haveMark Laurie :
They have a counselor very terrifying is like this escape from prison on the movies like the most, most terrifying, dangerous moment for several hours.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Well, there's lots of times we plan for when that the husband or spouse or intimate partner is like at work. So we plan for occasions where we know we have a window to work with to get them into safety, right? Mm hmm.Mark Laurie :
almost almost Cloak and Dagger kind of things. So, so a woman's gone through the process, whereas the honeymoon phase, it feels comfortable, it feels great. Turns out that's not great. They get the stage that I'm going to leave, they do leave, then what's life look like after that for them?Laurie Ann Sakla :
Well, it depends if there's children involved or not depends if they own the home together. Like there's so many factors that come into play. If there's children involved, sometimes we can get an emergency protection order to protect the children as Well, until the courts can sorted out the family courts or a restraining order or whatever that looks like between the couples, sometimes it's just a single woman. So we for one of the first things we do is we go to the courthouse with them and give them an emergency protection order. So, you know, sometimes that's enough for the partner to justMark Laurie :
go away. So emotionally, what's it feel like for the woman so what so if one's listening to this, and she's okay, so I think I'm gonna try this. And they make the break way, what kind of emotional things happen when they hit this secure place? SoLaurie Ann Sakla :
I have seen it's a range right? It's so individualized, like I've seen relief. I have seen women beating themselves up feeling like a bad, bad and failure, relationship failure grieving for the loss of that relationship or what it could have been, you know, I've seen angry, angry woman that why are they in this situation? You know, women that question There are them what their decision I want to go back immediately. And that's what happens to sometimes they'll come into shelter for 24 hours and decide this isn't for them, and they go back. So you know, it's gonna be hard to watch. It's extremely hard to watch when you know what the outcome could be, you know, soMark Laurie :
the first stage is a individual mix of emotions. Then as a kind of, I'm thinking of the five stages of grief is one thing but yeah, so when they've passed through that they know that Okay, so turns out this was a good move. I got my life ahead of me. Then what kind of does that fall into like a more of a normal experience? Yeah,Laurie Ann Sakla :
I find like once I get what's scary for most women is the unknown. Yep. Right. So once they get like, okay, there is this fun then I could apply for I can apply for Alberta where there is money available to me. kids won't have to totally suffer. I can go to a courthouse. I can feel safe. On the street cuz I have a restraining order and and another thing we also asked him to do is change up your schedules. You know, if you're like one of those people that are routinized in your schedule, you need to like, break that cycle and you know, do read a good spy break from that. Yeah, well, you know, your doctor's appointments and they know where your doctor's appointment is in the mornings, I would suggest doing them at nights or evenings on off days or something like that. So mix up your schedules, predictably, not predictable. That's right. So yeah, so usually, they start gaining their self esteem and their confidence. And then they're asking more questions, and they're inquisitive. And they get excited about a new life and you know, in a new way,Mark Laurie :
so that's when it when education is kicked in our systems helping them and so at that point, they start the unknown becomes less of them knowing they can start seeing a life they can start seeing happiness in the future. So let's just go back say 10 years later does it still hang on to them? Like is it is it like a shroud that they still, that that event continues to shape their life or makes them wary orLaurie Ann Sakla :
I, you know, I can't speak for every woman I know it, it shaped my life and my passion. You know, if you look at the intergenerational trauma, you know, the indigenous population, a lot of them have experienced some kind of violence or some kind of abuse. And you know, and sometimes it's really hard to break that cycle and that's why you see other their children experiencing the same thing. So passed down from generation generation generation. So it's a pattern and a pattern we can break. But I you know, some some woman becomes really strong and resilient. And like I said, you some people go back, some women go back and it's really hard to say I know for It made me a stronger person. And I would not it. It allowed me to experience something that I had not experienced before, to really guide me on what I didn't want from my relationships moving forward. And yeah.Mark Laurie :
Yeah, that's a big part of it, realizing what you don't want. You may not be sure what you do want, but you have to be clear on what you don't want him or where your where your line in the sand is. Yes, I will not tolerate this. Yeah. And as soon as something starts affecting that, then you go, No, yeah, that's part of my moral code that that line does not get crossed. That's right. And sort of sticking into.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Yeah, and I'm very much like that. Now. Something like, my stomach starts going in and you have to listen to your spidey senses. Yeah. And not enough people. Listen to those like I you know, I had that sense walking down the aisle of my first husband should turn around, but I didn't listen to my spidey senses, and I think it's so important to people to recognize those feelings of why am I having these feelings? And really dig into that moment and have faith that those feelings will guide you in the right way? Yeah, I kind of realMark Laurie :
Yeah. The one person explained a little bit about how those things work, which is your, your subconscious is accessing more information and more awareness in your, in your aware consciousness. Yes. And so it it can't communicate so much in words as the way the forebrain thinks. But it does communicate emotion, which is, you know, comes to the another friend of mine did a lot of research on stomach and heart. Yeah. And they discovered that there's more neurons or more electrical activity, going from the the stomach to the brain than there is in the heart to the brain. And there is actually activity in the brain, I guess, is quite profound. And so those are real communications with with your unease.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Yeah. And you know, women go into a fight or flight mode, right and call it and some women's And not in that fight mode and someone stay in the flight mode for the rest of their lives and which is unfortunate. So they're hypersensitive to all the time. And especially hypersensitive to other people that may be having bad relationships around them so that that's impacts women differently. Over the years,Mark Laurie :
I can see we've encountered some girls like that we had one called one of my clients. That's how she was and she was aware that, that everything was magnified because she felt so strongly about it. And her goal was to recognize that not everything's a red flag. That's right, and to distinguish the ones and trying to tone it down. She's so hard because she just wants to rise but you know, the adrenaline you just can't maintain that adrenaline your body can't sustain thatLaurie Ann Sakla :
know your body can and sooner or later you'll you'll crash right? So something will happen, but yeah, yeah, just do recognize those Spidey smiley moments. So I yeah, they have guided me whilstMark Laurie :
Way to spot them. let's just recap red flags. So a girl starting to date. Not all men are evil. No, not all situations are. So it's not. So one red flag wouldn't be the end of it. But when you start to gather them, then you get concerned. So what? in sort of shorts and what would be the red flags a person should start to watch. SoLaurie Ann Sakla :
So one of the red flags was watching my ex partner, the way he treated other women like his mother, right? is very disrespectful of his mother. And I think if you can disrespect your mother or your mother, I think that says a lot about a person right there. Yeah. And so that i think that that's the first one watching how their relationships with other family members or whatever, how they act with your cell phone. You know, people get weird about cell phones nowadays, right? And if they're continuously checking on you and checking, that would be a red flag. You know, gosh, there's so many different kinds of red flags for different people. But, you know, control is a big one. And you know, and if they start swearing at you and that I would start setting your boundaries early in the relationship,Mark Laurie :
like that's not tolerable behavior. Yeah, I believe the same the boundaries around the relationship is simply healthy. Yes. Like it'll protect you against the the evil people so to speak. But it it's your own personal integrity. Yeah, that says this is these are my logos. This is my deal breakers. You and yeah, I think that's powerful advice for any relationship person. Yeah. And then when someone tries to cross that line too many times there's your red flag they don't they're not respecting that boundary, that boundary or thatLaurie Ann Sakla :
they're not really don't respect you as a person. So don't let anyone disrespect your boundaries and make sure those are clear defined boundaries. Yeah. So yeah, other red flags likeMark Laurie :
yes. Once you've said there's bank accounts, job, isolation, so if you suddenly start seeing that you're not allowed or you notice that maybe a month or two has gone by and you've not able to get to your friends because of things he's been orchestrating, it's not a good one.Laurie Ann Sakla :
Yeah, that, you know, always continues to keep me busy or has an issue with family or friends, visiting, you know, making it uncomfortable in the home, where you can't be yourself. I describe it as walking on eggshells or popped in my brain, right? You know, just those moments, like take note, take note of his interactions and and, you know, and take note of how compassionate he is in the world if he's like, cruel to animals. You know, that's a big one for me is like, if you can be cruel to an animal defensive animal. Well, you know, yeah, you go up the scale. Yeah. You know, there's other flags to like, does he have custody of his children or does she have custody of her children or You know, and why is that? And you know, there's there's lots of like, again, go back to that gut feeling.Mark Laurie :
Yeah. Really trusted. Yeah. Thank you so much as i think this is a really important topic. And I hope when people listen to this, they start to have discussions about whether red flags could be who else they know, how would they help. That's some i think is important. That is if if you come across someone's in that in that situation where you're saying, gee, this, this is looks off in some fashion and the person does express something to you, in your mind, be aware of what you're prepared to do to help for sure. And that's with it, it just sort of I think it's prepare for disaster. So if you come across a person who's hurt if you come across a person in need, known advance how you think you're gonna behave, and that helps you conditioned you to do what's right, and do what's helpful. So, thank you so much. Thank you, Laurie Anne. It's been useful, I think can help them.Exit speaker :
This has been fascinating women with Mark Laurie, join us over there. website and subscribe at fascinating humans dossier fascinating woman has been sponsored by inner spirit photography of Calgary, Alberta and is produced in Calgary by Leigh Ellis and my office media.