How to stand up for yourself in relationships

When your needs are being made unimportant in a relationship what do you do?

Have you been in a relationship with a controlling or pushy person who always put their needs in front of yours? Perhaps you didn’t know how to communicate to them how unhappy you were with them doing that? Perhaps you were bullied at home or at school growing up or were never taught the skills to stand up for yourself in a healthy and assertive way.

How you communicate this impacts how successful you will be at getting your point across.

Your needs are no more or less important than someone elses. I speak to a lot of clients who believe their partners needs are more important than their own but over time the unhappiness and resentment builds as their needs are never accounted for.

I love the similarities between friendships and relationships this video highlights.
There’s no rule that says you have to do what you don’t want to do.
It’s totally fine and acceptable to set a limit on what you want to do.

This is a wonderful and cute animated short video that was aimed for high school adolescents but I think it’s fitting for adults too because it explains things so simply. So many of us didn’t receive this education when we were at school so it’s important to learn it no matter what age we are at.  It was made by the The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society.

I love the scales at the end that shows what you need and what I need in a relationship together are of equal importance.

Watch the video here!

50 shades of stalking, control and abuse


Stalking and tracking someone’s phone is not BDSM and far from a healthy relationship. It’s illegal and abusive.
This is about abuse, intimidation and control.

When manipulative and controlling jerk Christian has met Anastasia only three times he turns up outside her house but she never gave him her address. He also finds out where she works and turns up unannounced. He turns up unannounced at her mothers house hundreds of miles away when she goes there to visit. This is called stalking and is abuse.

Control freak Christian buys the company Anastasia works for so he can have complete control over her, has nonconsensual sex with her ignoring her “no.” Where is the healthy consent in this movie? Anastasia often goes along with sexual acts with Christian because she’s too shy to speak up or too scared to lose him and so goes along with his wishes.

There are kinky events that aren’t erotic play but more like emotional bargaining. Anastasia feels like she has to “put up with it” because she’s terrified of what he will do to her if she doesn’t.

He micromanages her life, cuts her off from her friends and family, dictates what she should eat and what exercise she should do.
He “love bombs” her with expensive gifts, deposits tens of thousands of dollars into her bank account but won’t tell her how he got her bank account details, disregards her requests for space, limits, safe words and boundaries, has double standards and rules for her but not for him, yells at her, pressures, badgers, gives the silent treatment and emotionally blackmails her and intimidates and threatens her to get his way, says her body is his and dictates what contraception she should use and makes her go to his gynaecologist to ensure she does with her body what he wants.

How people cannot see that Christian is an abusive bully is shocking. He maintains control over Anastasia through intimidation.

It’s not romantic that he’s extremely possessive of her when they’ve just met and not even a couple.

It’s not love when he tracks her mobile phone to stalk her and come and pick her up when she’s out with her friends. She doesn’t want him to come get her and he turns up and demands she go home. This is abuse.

There’s a big difference between wanting to explore power exchanges with your partner and wanting to use power to manipulate and control them.

After she accidentally forgot to call him once he said he wanted to hurt her.

The book also pathologises BDSM. Christian says he only likes it because of his terrible childhood and later in the books he “gets over” those desires with the help of a therapist. Umm. As a kink friendly therapist I was shocked to read about his being “cured” of his kinky desires. The DSM does not list BDSM as a pathology.

Just because the media glorifies and romanticises abusive relationships it’s important to remember the following…

Intimidation is not love. Possessiveness is a sign of control not romance. You have the right to walk away from a relationship and the right to say no to acts you aren’t comfortable with.

If this book, movie or message is triggering for you, bringing up past traumatic memories of an abusive relationship or you’re concerned about a current relationship then please get in touch via my website. All Skype and in person sessions are confidential.

Cat O Dowd

Channeling the fierce feminine..

Ferocity | Jodi Lobozzo Aman

“She is the Black Panther, the Tigress, the Lioness – chasing, stalking, threatening, striking, pouncing. She is unpredictably wild. She is sensual and passionate. She loves an adventure. She is assertive, aggressive, and holds her power with strength and grace. She brings about needed conflict and change. She is protective, guarding against injustice and cruelty. She is a feminine force not to be messed with. But if we surrender to her, she has the medicine to heal our wounds.


She is Fierce.

From a young age, girls are taught not to know their anger. To be “Good Girls”, we learn that our tempers must be reigned in, controlled, and contained – lest we seem unladylike, unfeminine, unattractive, unbecoming, or ugly. Following in the footsteps of our mothers, their mothers, and the mothers before them, we may even find ourselves teaching the next generation of daughters to contain this unacceptable aspect of our humanity, hiding it from being seen or heard.

After years of strict concealment, these unwelcomed feelings are pushed down deep so that regardless of what is going on inside, all appears peaceful, placid and calm on the outside.

…The tension of holding it all in may become so great that we have sudden, uncontrollable outbursts where the darkness within us barrels forward, spewing out onto everything and everyone around us. Our anger becomes a dichotomized force: dulled out and silenced, or out-of-control and destructive. In either case, we feel shame. But in denying our anger, what else has been denied?

“Just as physical pain tells us to take our hand off the hot stove, the pain of our anger preserves the very integrity of our self. Our anger can motivate us to say ‘no’ to the ways in which we are defined by others and ‘yes’ to the dictates of our inner self.” ~Harriet Lerner

Co-mingling with the many other feelings that emerged when I began to speak my truth and make significant changes in my life and lifestyle, I realized there was a world of feelings within me that had been relegated to the shadows, now slowly revealing itself as I re-define what is healthy, balanced, and whole. I cannot be a whole person if part of me is cut off. At some point, I have to face all that is mine.

…Unchecked and ignored anger can be destructive. It can cause hurt, suffering, and wreak havoc in our relationships and on our lives. But if we are willing to work with it, live with it, feel it, observe it, explore it, and name it without restrictions and rules, we will meet something new. It is a protection against harm, a warning, and stealth in maneuvering conflict or threat. It can be fiery, edgy, and powerfully strong. It helps us say “No”, develop good boundaries, stand up for our truth, and defend what is important and valued. It reveals a more accurate picture of all that we are.”