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Breaking the Cycle: Empowerment and Healing from Abuse and Trauma with Ruby Raja

Ruby Raja is an author, trauma facilitator, and domestic violence and abuse trainer. Ruby has over 25 years of working globally with women and children experiencing abuse to navigate health, education, and probation systems. Ruby has written Healing from Narcissistic Abuse, Journeys from Abuse to Freedom, because the participants of her master's thesis are women. All told they left abusive husbands and began living fulfilling lives after she provided them with information about abusers, the criminal justice system, and their rights. Ruby wrote a domestic violence program based on these findings. 


Listen to the full episode.





[00:01:40] Ruby Raja on what she’s most passionate about

[00:04:17] Ruby Raja on her childhood

[00:05:12] Ruby Raja on her early career

[00:06:50] Ruby Raja on being a founding member of the first Muslim Women’s Help Line in the UK

[00:09:56] Ruby Raja on becoming a domestic violence and abuse trainer

[00:12:05] Ruby Raja on what inspired her to dig deeper into the issues surrounding domestic violence and abuse

[00:15:28] Ruby Raja on what her fieldwork taught her about abusers behaviors

[00:18:49] Ruby Raja on attending grad school and her thesis

[00:22:12] Ruby Raja on founding her company

[00:25:06] Ruby Raja on the programs her company offers

[00:29:14] Ruby Raja on what she’s learned about herself from doing this work

[00:30:59] Ruby Raja on the impact of domestic violence on unborn babies

[00:35:37] Ruby Raja on success stories from her work

[00:40:12] Ruby Raja on her book, “Healing from Narcissistic Abuse, Journeys from Abuse to Freedom”

[00:46:10] Ruby Raja on what we need to know about Muslims

[00:49:17] Ruby Raja on her definition of honor

[00:51:54] Ruby Raja on what she was taught about women’s roles in society growing up

[00:54:56] Ruby Raja on the one lesson she’s learned on her journey that sticks with her

[00:56:58] Ruby Raja on her dream for herself and her dream for women

[00:58:06]  Ruby Raja on how people can connect with her



Passionistas: Hi, we're sisters, Amy and Nancy Harrington, the founders of The Passionistas Project. We've created an inclusive sisterhood where passion driven women come to get support, find their purpose, and feel empowered to transform their lives and change the world. On every episode, we discuss the unique ways in which each woman is following her passions, talk about how she defines success, and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.


Today, we're talking with Ruby Raja, an author, trauma facilitator, and domestic violence and abuse trainer. Ruby has over 25 years of working globally with women and children experiencing abuse to navigate health, education, and probation systems. Ruby has written Healing from Narcissistic Abuse, Journeys from Abuse to Freedom, because the participants of her master's thesis are women.


All told her they left abusive husbands and began living fulfilling lives after she provided them with information about abusers, the criminal justice system, and their rights. Ruby wrote a domestic violence program based on these findings. If you're joining us live here today, please feel free to drop any comments or questions in our, in our chat, and we'll do the best, our best to get them answered.


Now, please welcome Ruby Raja.


Ruby: Hi.


Passionistas: Hi, Ruby. We're so happy to have you here today and talk about these really, really important topics that I know a lot of the women in our community will be able to relate to, so, um, we really welcome you.


Ruby: Thank you so much.


Passionistas: Ruby, what are you most passionate about?


Ruby: I'm passionate about giving information to women who've been hurt, whether it's domestic violence, whether it's trauma, whichever services have kind of let them down. I like the idea of being able to provide them with information that gives them that strength to know just how amazing they are. Yeah.


Passionistas: So where does that passion come from? What inspired it?


Ruby: I hadn't realized this, but I'd been working in domestic violence all my life. Um, so I'd been working with women, they had problems, they came to me.


I helped them however I could. I didn't even know the words domestic violence until many, many years later. So, I felt a bit of a fall, you know, I'd been working in the field. Um, and I hadn't realized the complexities that they go to until I started doing it formally, which was only about 25 years ago.


That was kind of the tipping point of realizing there's a major issue here, but then I got scared and tried to run away because it's very complicated and it's very painful. So, um, there were so many children also that really became the trigger because I was seeing these little people behind and I didn't have a clue at that point what I was seeing or witnessing, but I could see something was going on.


And then I entered the criminal justice system in about 2007, and that's when all the wheels started going into motion. Because I was working with older men who were committing offences, and I was working with all the problems they had and realizing they Don't necessarily know what's happening because you have to keep going back.


And as I went back and back and back, I realized this problem is actually stemming from the woman. And when she gets pregnant and has these children through pregnancy, and then we're dealing with problems much further down the line that are not diagnosed properly. I don't know whether that made sense, but it's so, you know, kind of twisted and tangled in the journey that I've had.


So I kind of went backwards. So I've been working with all the women, and when I started working with the men in criminal justice and started working with the younger men, I realized this problem doesn't start as they get older, it starts much earlier. And that's where I realized that whatever I can do to give women, to help the children, that I should be doing it. Yeah.


Passionistas: Well, let's, can we take a step back? Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood and where you grew up and what that was like?


Ruby: Yes. That's a long, long time ago. And I was born in Pakistan in a place called Attock. And it was a very happy childhood. I had a lot of older siblings and my parents and so I was spoilt rotten.


So, um, I had a lovely childhood and then we went to England and then my childhood changed. Because we now had another dynamic, which I didn't understand. But again, because I had so many older siblings and my parents were with me, it was quite easy for me to blend into that. So I went to school and did okay and such, but there were certainly little rumblings taking place that started changing the worldview. Yeah.


Passionistas: Yeah. So what did you do for work? Like as you got older, did you go to school? Did you go right into the workforce?


Ruby: Yeah, I, um, grew up and did my completed education. I didn't go to, I started college and decided I didn't like the course. So I went back to it much later and I started doing jobs. Um, they were actually quite dynamic and I didn't realize it at the time.


So I did a job where I was doing development work for women in, um, The transport industry. So we were arranging, so I didn't realize this was quite as important as it is now, then as I do now. I arranged a domestic, not domestic violence, sorry, a car maintenance course for women led by a woman. And this was all the way back in the eighties and I didn't think anything of it.


So we had a bunch of wonderful women come to learn about how to take care of their cars or their vans. Scooters, bicycles, and we had a woman teaching them, so it was really wonderful. So I used to do strange things like that, , and I also taught some English as a second language. That was my main kind of work. Yeah.


Passionistas: That's incredible. I love that story. I have a niece right now who's studying to be a car mechanic and. Good for you.


Ruby: Yes. Absolutely. You realize how easy those things are, and then somebody says, you know, you get it out like this, you clean it, you drop it back in, and you think, well, I could have done that a long time ago, but we're so afraid of it. So yeah, I learned a few things on that.


Passionistas: So now talk about, um, your work as the founding member of the first Muslim Women’s Help Line in the UK. How did that get started?


Ruby: So we had a group of women who were talking about the issues that were confronting women back in London in the 80s. I wasn't part of that group. As they did their kind of brainstorming and make Giving ideas and such.


There was a lovely lady called Imelda. Imelda was working in the Samaritans and she just randomly threw out the idea, um, do you think it might be an idea to have a helpline for Muslim women because you have specific needs? And she just, she, when she relates it to me, she just threw it out there and everybody loved the idea.


That we should have a helpline for women run by women. And I became the junior member because one, I was the youngest too. I, again, many times in my life, I've not had a clue of what I'm doing, but I had time and I was happy to do whatever I could. So that's how I joined. And, um, yeah, it was, Again, didn't realize what a dynamic force it was back then, but we really were able to help a lot of women silently.


And that's how I worked most of my life, that you work behind the scenes, you help the woman, you help her children. Nobody gets to hear about it because the woman never wanted anybody to know. So yeah, that's how I began that.


Passionistas: And the line is still in existence and now it helps men as well, right? So what does that mean to you, the legacy of that?


Ruby: The legacy, I feel honored to be involved in something that I had such little to actually do in the beginning stages, but it's incredible that they've gone through this massive change because I think the idea potentially was floating around a little bit, Even in the early years, but it couldn't be taken up.


And then as times traveled, because unfortunately I'm not actually involved, as in I'm not taking calls for them for quite a while now. Um, and they changed from being women only to men as well. So now it's called the Muslim Community Helpline. So it's continuing. They're getting excellent service because one thing we did, which was our kind of trademark, We didn't say it was only an hour long.


We didn't say we have to stop now because our shift's over. If they needed to talk for three hours, we were going to stay on that call to take them through whatever they wanted. And if they rang the next day We were going to take that call again. So we don't put a time on it. We don't say you can only call us for six months and we're going to take your name off.


We don't actually take their names. Um, but we continue that listening because that's been the most critical part of the journey that I've had in my work and in my life. We think we listen. We kind of listen to the first few sentences and then we've decided from all the experience we had, this person is going to go down this road.


So, just doing that properly for the people that we work with is just Magic has made a difference to a lot of lives. Yeah.


Passionistas: So now in the 2000s, you became a domestic violence and abuse trainer. So describe your work in that capacity.


Ruby: Right. So I came along and I thought I'd do whatever job came along and a number of them, you know, ordinary jobs that I was doing.


And then I found myself in a group of people working with domestic violence, and that was the time that I heard the name, you know, the two words, domestic violence, and I thought, oh, I've been doing that. Um, and then we had this conversation. amazing trainer called, um, Pat Craven. She had written something called the Freedom Program, which is a 12 week program.


And she came and gave us three days of really intense training. And I suddenly realized this is exactly where I need to be. Because not only did she go through all the journeys, she explained what it was like on both sides because she was a prison officer. So she was working with the men in prison, which triggered her to actually do the work.


And she said to me, she said, I'd come home and I'd complain every day to my husband. And he got tired of listening to me. And he said, why don't you do something about it? And she said, I went ahead and I wrote the Freedom Program because she said, I was working with men day and night telling me, this is what we do.


This is how we treat them. And so when I came into that, and I, I, I don't know how I actually got, um, uh, invited to that program, um, but it was one of the best things that ever happened and came across in my life to kind of set me free into the work that I was going to start doing further along. And it was really, really interesting to know that so many other people were on the same page as me.


They weren't just delivering service. They were trying to make a difference in the lives of the family. So yeah, that's, that's how I came into domestic violence.


Passionistas: Yeah, I think it's really interesting that it's, I think a lot of people help on that level of listening or being involved in like a call, call center, as you were talking about, but you strike me as someone who really tries to get to the root of the issue and affect change from kind of deep within. So what inspired you to kind of dig deeper into the, the issues? Thank you.


Ruby: I always felt that things that were being delivered, the programs, whether it was criminal justice, whether it was social work, it didn't matter which institution delivered the program, it was boxing you in. It's, so there's three of us, very different ladies here.


They would want us to do everything at the same time each week. And that's not how people function. And if you've had a trigger, if you've had an issue when you, when you're coming to that training session, You don't want to talk about that. And admittedly, they would modify it for you. But what I started seeing was when you let women speak freely, which is what I try to encourage.


So if I ask you a question, say, you know, let me know, you know, tell me what you would like to share about your journey. They gave me what they wanted rather than me directing, like, I need to know this. What happened in the last incident? What did he do when you ended up in hospital, which I'm very.


Offensive, they hurt you inside. Even as you say the words, you feel this heaviness. But when you say, so let me know, you know, What was it like? What happened? When you're just doing it as a casual conversation, I found many women with me would say it was a really violent situation. He did this, he did that, but the guy never actually touched them.


So when I would then go back and say, so was he actually, when you use the word violence, Does it mean he hit you? Did he use a weapon? Did you do anything? And they would say, no, no, no, no, no, no. He was just really violent. So what I learned in that instance was in the systems, we use words, we put words in your mouth and it takes away your freedom to speak and share how you want to. And when I just let them go freely, first of all, they share much more and they share much more from within. They don't give you the superficial, Oh, he did this on Monday and he did this on Wednesday. They will share the journey. So they'll tell you, actually, it started a week ago, this incident happened.


And then three days later, my child did this. And then, so you get a full kind of holistic, picture from their perspective. And then when I started hearing that, I thought, oh, this isn't what's written on the books. So it's not domestic violence and he's being physically violent. This is something else that's going on in the family.


And we need to figure out. Who's doing what to whom and how we protect each person because we've got so many services. And so yeah, that did, that was a major, it kind of moved my heart. It felt so painful that I felt I need to do whatever I can to empower them. So I would throw in whichever thing I knew, whether it was a course I'd heard of or a link they could contact, I would give them this extra bit of information and they would share more and more.


So I was, I felt like I was getting a bigger picture. And I shouldn't say this on record. I didn't record every single thing they shared with me. Anything I thought that could be to their detriment, I wouldn't record. I would record the essential things we needed for whichever service we were providing. So, yeah.


Passionistas: So while you were learning about these women that were being abused, you were also learning about the abusers. So what did your fieldwork teach you about How, the how and why of abusers behaviors?


Ruby: So this is a really fascinating and interesting question. Um, when I first began the actual official work with people experiencing domestic violence, the women were using all sorts of colorful words, really, really nice ones that you can't say on air.


And I, in my heart, don't believe anybody is completely evil. There are, you know, there are a few, but. In the big grand scheme of things, things have happened. So, I then went and joined probation and what I learned, which is what I thought I would come up against, so many of the offenders have had nobody taking care of them, looking out for them, providing for them, forget listening to them.


So, they kind of were raised on the streets, many of them, and they learned tactics that they watched other people use. And if they had an abuser at home, it wasn't necessarily true that they would also become an abuser. But then it becomes normal practice. Somebody doesn't listen to you, you just lash out.


Or if they're not doing something, you start swearing. And so when I started seeing that, I thought, oh my goodness, this is so complex. And to try to explain to the victim, this is what's going on, or vice versa. was not something that was doable. So, you worked with each person in their capacity and you gather all the information and you cross pollinate.


So, when an offender's telling you, well, she does this or my, that woman did that, you actually say, well, it might be because of this. Did you think of that? Because obviously you would have so much story of their backstory. That you can then feed them with, well, maybe if you thought this, and maybe if you thought that, and so re channeling both of them became part of the way that I started working with people. Yeah.


Passionistas: And did you find that the men were evolving in the way they were handling these kinds of situations as you were working with them?


Ruby: So that's a lot more, um, layered. The men that wanted to learn, they benefited a lot, benefited a lot by being with me because I understood domestic violence in the way I did.


The ones that weren't going to change were not going to change because they hadn't arrived where they needed to, to make that, You know, change your decision. One of the things I did find was that because I listened to them, I did the same thing with the men. I wasn't challenging them and I wasn't telling them off and I wasn't saying you did this and you did that.


What I found was they started sharing and opening up more. A lot of the men I worked with say, would tell me something and say, Ruby, I never thought about that. And I've never shared that with anyone. And it's not like I'm some, Amazing person. It was just that listening skill that I'm listening to you.


How do I help you help me to help? understand you better so that I can serve you in the way that we can help you move forward. So I use that both sides. And a lot of the men were very responsive, but I don't feel I got as further with the men that really didn't want to move. That was quite difficult. Yeah. Yeah.


Passionistas: No one changes until they're ready to change. So there's nothing you can do about that.


Ruby: Yeah.


Passionistas: Um, why did you decide to go to grad school and what was the focus of your thesis?


Ruby: I, um, had done probation, worked with all these amazing women, and the children's situation started really popping up for me, and it started affecting me.


I was getting worried for these children. I'd started working in a trauma informed youth vending service, and when I worked there, I could see it black and white. that you've got a child you can help, you've got adults around them that are not going to let you help them because they can interfere with your work.


Um, but then I was looking back at their journeys and I thought, you know, well, I need to do something about this. And I'd always wanted to study further. And when I did my master's, um, I ended up writing on how women escape The Self Imposed Controls of Marriage, which again, I, at this point, I thought I knew something, and I was really sad to say that I didn't, um, because I'd been working with so many women for so long because it wasn't just Black women, white women, English women, European women, the whole, you know, gamut of different religions, different cultures.


And when I did that, I ended up, um, my participants actually ended up being Muslim women. And all three of them, I was just sharing the knowledge that I'm sharing with you and just saying, well, narcissism is this. This is how it manifests itself. This is how they show up. This is what coercive control is.


And this is what the law says. So all simple things that you would, that I would pass on to anybody. And, um, I did my, um, thesis. I went away after I did my thesis. I left England. In fact, I came to America. And when I returned, for some reason, I thought I would just check up on these ladies. And they had already kind of left their partners, but they were very vulnerable and very much in the frame of, I can't do anything.


When I returned, all three had left their partners and were actually thriving. So when I spoke to them, I was going to ask them some questions and I decided to actually write them up and give them the questions, tell them I would be recording and transcribing, just the same way I did my master's. And everybody was happy with that and they told me that they were able to do what they were doing because of the information I gave them. And again, as you probably gathered by now in this interview, I just sat there and I thought, all I did was tell you what I know. I didn't do any kind of encouragement or any do this, do that. I did direct them in terms of, there are these services that help you with this, and that person does such and such.


I couldn't believe it. You know, I couldn't believe how far they'd come along just on the information I provided. So that led me to, uh, create the Change Your Narrative Program. Um, yeah, it was just blew my mind that just by giving people information, they can make such, oh my God, life changing decisions. And they all have children, so their children are all free from domestic violence abusers. So that was the really real, real high point. Yeah.


Passionistas: Fantastic. Um, so tell us about founding your company and why you decided to do that, what it's called and everything.


Ruby: Right, so after my thesis, and then the book, I don't know whether I mentioned I wrote the book after that, which is what you mentioned at the beginning, um, I wrote the book, and as I started doing the works that I was doing, I just thought, I need to provide information free.


What can I do to do that? So one of the things I could do I've created a website, and I'm populating it now with as much free information as I can, and as many resources. So I've got some books that I refer. If somebody wants to buy them, they can. If they don't, just have a little, you know, Google some of the things and find some information, but also some videos.


And the videos show you different countries that are doing different things. So something's happening in Afghanistan, something's happening in Pakistan, something's happening in Egypt. All those videos are uploaded. So basically hit the button and learn. And then there are also, um, helplines. So, you know, if you're really stuck, there's probably going to be a helpline you can call or a person that you can connect with and get the information you need because you are not alone and you are amazing.


And that's the message that I want the women to know. They're perfect just the way they are. They just don't know it yet. They need to dig a little bit deeper. And once they get onto that kind of resource page, there'll be so many things that they can just pick up. They can read two minutes, close it, Go out on the website.


So what I'm trying to do now, I've got some more pages that will be going onto my website. I'm having a page for victims, a page for practitioners, and a page for Muslim specific needs. So I'm populating that with information. So when women access that page, they should be able to find that information just to literally... a button. So I really, really wanted to give as much information free as I can, so that women go away and make the choices they want to, not the ones that professionally say, well, you know, he's doing this, you need to do that. Women don't learn like that. And my understanding of that is When you're telling a woman what to do, especially in domestic violence, you're actually re traumatizing them because they're now having to listen to the professional.


They'd be listening to the abuser, now the professional's telling them, well, you've got to do this, you must do that. When we leave them, as the women of my thesis showed me, when we leave them with the information, they run away with it. Because that empowers them and they make the decisions they need to according to their circumstances.


And also, not in our time, in their time. So if you go onto the website, you can start today and finish in a year. You can start today and just stay on it and keep learning. You can start today and decide to do one of the programs I deliver. So yeah, it was really, it was important that I put that information out there. Yeah.


Passionistas: So talk about those programs that you have on your site.


Ruby: Right. So I've got the domestic violence program that I created, and I've modified that now. So I now do it one to one. And what I do is I take women through their life's journey, and then I get them to look at their real life. Probably sounds a bit cheeky.


Um, and I'm not trying to challenge anybody, but I am trying to get people to think beyond. This is not like, it's not two dimensional, it's your real life. So I'm trying to get them to look at things like patriarchy, culture, and religion. How does that affect you and where does it come from? Does it come from your mom, your dad, society, the environment you grew up, the household you grew up?


Identify where it comes from. And find out how you became who you are and take ownership of that, because once you start taking ownership, you can start making changes. When you don't know where you're coming from, you can't define where you're going. So I take them through patriarchy, culture, religion, and I get them to question themselves.


This is not me questioning them. It's them questioning themselves that, Oh, I do this, but I do it because My mum did it, my grandad did it, my great, I'm getting them to question, well do you have to continue it? You can break those cycles, but I think a lot of people think they just have to keep continuing them.


So I get them to do that. And then I also get them to look at their kind of wounded self. I won't call it the inner child because I'm not trained in that specialization yet, but I get them to look at what, what your unmet needs are and how to kind of let go of that and become the true person they are to themselves.


So it's, you know, This is what happened in childhood. I can't change my childhood, but I can release myself from that because that's done and dusted. I can revisit it, but I don't have to hold on to that pain. I can choose to let go. So it's giving them their power back each step of the way. And then by the time we get to the end of it, it's kind of, who are you now?


And who do you want to be? One of the most difficult things that they have in my domestic violence program is, what do you want? You know, explain to me or tell me. What do you wanna do? And the majority of women I've worked with do not have an answer for that. They will say things like, well, I like, um, cooking for people when they come.


I like to take care of the children when they've come back from school. And I'm sitting there. No, no, no. What about you? And I found this has been the hardest part of most of the jobs they've done is getting the women to a place. So, well, actually, I'd like to learn to drive, or I'd like to go on a trip to the seaside with my friends.


But getting them to accept that I have a need is so hard. So I do that in the domestic violence program, and most of the women have loved it, which is why it's up there now. Um, and the trauma program I did because I had a traumatic experience. I did the program and when I did the program, I learned so many skills and so many ways of managing the adrenaline and all the things that were happening internally that I got myself certified and I now deliver that program too.


So they're the two programs. Trauma program actually. It's a seven week program, and it gives you a lot of things that you can, um, learn from. Each module has a kind of, you know, exercise at the end. We never tell people what to do. We never tell them you must do it. The people that do it benefit because they learn skills quicker.


So when we're teaching the skills of, um, getting through whichever trauma they've gone through, when they actually do that, they usually come back stronger the next week. And what we find is most people do do them. After the program, when they stop, some people do regress, because you do need to step on it, stay with what you're doing in order to get through it. But it makes a massive difference just in seven weeks. So yeah, they're the two I'm delivering.


Passionistas: What have you learned about yourself through all this work that you've done?

Ruby: I've learned that I know nothing. I, every time I thought I knew something, I realized I didn't. And when I didn't know something, I realized I knew more than I did.


Um, but I think the most important thing is, again, the same thing I teach the women, trust yourself. When I first started having the concern about the babies, the unborn babies, and I didn't have anywhere to, you know, Place that thought, place that idea. It was just whirling around in my mind. And then when I started speaking about it, I realized, oh my goodness, so many of the children coming into criminal justice are affected by that. So talk about what you're feeling to somebody. Share that thought or write it down. But don't doubt yourself too much. You know, you might question it, but don't doubt yourself too much. Let it go. There's a lot of things people give us that we receive. We partially internalize them, but we're picking up other things that we don't share back.


When we share them back, which I found with all the women I work with, they give me more and more. And we were able to help them recover much quicker because they'll share more pertinent stories. So yeah, I've learned that I've got some skills that I don't know I have. And, um, together, whoever I'm working with, we can make a massive change in both our lives.


It's not just their lives that get changed. I learned so much as well. They've trusted me with so many personal treasures. So that's a gift that I get from them.


Passionistas: You've mentioned this a few times and I'd like to dive deeper on it, the information that you shared with us about unborn babies and abuse. Can you talk about that a little bit?


Ruby: Yes. Unfortunately, I don't have any qualification on this. I don't have any major research on this. Um, but what I do know. There was research in 2007, I was in the University of Bristol at that point, and research had been done that said that when a woman's pregnant and she's with an abuser, when he comes into the room and he starts getting closer to her, the baby stops moving.


So there is research out there that when you're carrying your baby, the baby gets affected by abuse. That's happening in your life. What I've personally seen is the children have a lot of behavioral difficulties. They, um, latch on to mom an awful lot because they feel the need to protect her, even as young as one and two.


And as they get older, they get lost in the system because the system then starts labeling them. It starts saying, oh, this child has ADHD, and this child has ADD, and this child has something much worse that we don't know yet, and we need to do more research and tests on the child to find out. So before the child's even begun their life, we've now put labels all over them.


And by the time they're four and five and entering school, when you read the paper, as somebody who's a teacher, you say, Oh, this child's got ADD, so I need to watch this. ADHD, I need to work with them like this. So we've already set them up to fail. And for the moms that are thinking that their child's safe with the baby in their tummy, the problem we have there is the mother probably doesn't know She's in a domestic violence relationship because she's working so hard to protect the abuser because, you know, she doesn't want everybody to know she's having a difficult time.


So, in that case, we're leaving the baby to all sorts of possibilities, which are all quite negative. The best way for me to share that story is I attended a conference I think it was in December 23. And there was a lovely lady there who was sharing her story. She'd been through domestic violence, very severe domestic violence and abuse.


Her husband left her because he blinded her. So she was now of no use to him whatsoever. And when she had nothing left, she had to pick up her life again. I'm obviously making this into a synopsis. She kind of started from way before when he met her and he started doing what he started doing. And she said that when he left me and I started rebuilding my life, my oldest child, I think her oldest child was 14, and she had two more behind.


I think they were, one was under 10. And she said, that's the first time in my life That I saw my children. And she didn't actually have physical sight now. She had taken care of her children. She'd washed them, bathed them, cleansed them, took them to school, brought them back from school, got them to do their homework, but she had actually never seen them.


And I, when she said that, I thought, they're the children that I'm talking about, that people don't see them. They get missed. The child's never going to be able to explain that my mother wasn't there, even though she was. So those are the children that I'm trying to reach and let women know you don't have to do anything but protect the first three to six months and be there, be physically present.


So when you're actually stroking your child, your child needs to feel all of you. It probably sounds really stupid when you say it like this, you know, when you're stroking them, of course, they're feeling you. But if you're not present, That's what your child is going to feel from you. That there's somebody here, they take care of my needs, but my emotional connections are not being connected.


So when that um, wonderful lady shared her story and she said that, I remember my heart just going thump. Oh my goodness, she's actually lived through it, and now she's out the other side. Now they do all the normal things mothers and children do, and they enjoy it. They go out together, they eat together, they play together, but now she can feel her children, and she actually explained that in more detail.


And I thought, I wish I could share this story with other women. Just let them know that this, there's a possibility of something like this occurring around me, because it might trigger them to go, oh my Ruby:, that's me. Because it's so painful that she's done everything, but she wasn't there for them. And so many families are in that situation. So that was my trigger to do all the work that I did. The unborn child.


Passionistas: Really fascinating. Um, what are some of the success stories of the people that you worked with?


Ruby: Gosh, where do I start? One of the things I can say is there are so many positives in this journey. From simple things like women getting the information, not actually doing anything with it, to they were now standing with their shoulders back. So when their husband would come at them with the same thing, they would literally just let it roll off their back.


And if they went on, they would respond, but they would respond in a really collective way because they now had knowledge. They now had rights and they knew they had rights. And if the person, so the person I'm thinking about was a very aggressive man. He had been violent. He had been abusive, not just to his wife, also to professionals.


But now that she had this inner strength, when he went on and on, she started saying, well, look, why don't you go and contact the social worker and we can go from there. So she Turn the tables on him. So just watching that somebody with knowledge can stand in the same space, stay in the same house with the person, but actually turn the tables.


Because what is he going to do when he goes to the social worker and the social worker comes home and the woman then explains her journey? Then he loses. Because now the woman has the power to say, he does this to me. I believe it comes under this. He does this to me. I haven't reported him. But I think if I did, because in England, I know the criminal justice system.


So I can tell them that if you report your partner, this is the journey he will go through. So I empowered them with so much knowledge that they were able to take their power back. And that was, that was inspirational because the ladies that were on the, um, of my master's thesis. When I came back and when they started talking to me about the things I shared with them, they were giving me the intersectionality of where this thing crosses.


And I just sat there and I thought, I didn't teach you that. You've made all these connections because you listened and you practiced and you used it. So the information that women get really empowers them to take charge of their life again. Even with their children, it's no longer what he wants. It's, hold on, I'll do that, but I've got to do this first.


They start turning it around and they don't even necessarily know they're doing it. That was the biggest plus of my work, that these women have transformed their lives. And all I did was give them information and they used it according to their situation. It was just magic. And watching them dealing with the mums, because all of the women I dealt with, they all had supportive mums.


Every mum was 100 percent behind their daughter. I can do this, I can help with this, but they didn't understand domestic violence. So that, you know, the power and control element of domestic violence, they just didn't understand it. So when their daughters were trying to explain things, They were having to deal with things like, but it's his child, you shouldn't let him see his children.


And until they got the information from me, they were really struggling with, oh, it's his child, I should let him see the child. And once they realized Yeah, it is his child, but he's a risk to that child. And when he's a risk to the child, the child suffers. So yes, arrange to see the child, but do it within a framework that suits you, doesn't affect you when you get the child back and you've done your service to him, but you actually don't owe him anything.


You know, so all of those tiny, tiny things I gave them, they put them together and they ran with it. And so, you know, they, the three women on my, my, my masters were completely independent and they're flying, but lots of other women have just been able to start doing things that they didn't know that they could.


You know, taking that power back at home is a real first step because the children then watch that and the children's behavior changes at school as well. So I've had a lot of women saying, Oh, Ruby, you taught me this. I started doing this and this is what happened. So Lord. There's a lot of good, um, positive stories. Thank you for asking.


Passionistas: No, it's incredible. It's incredible work that you're doing. Um, tell us about your book, Healing from Narcissistic Abuse, Journeys from Abuse to Freedom.


Ruby: So that's a book that's not a traditional book. I didn't write it as an academic piece and I didn't write it as just a story. It's a combination of the two because I wanted you to hear what was going on at the back of my mind.


And to know my failings too. So when I'm questioning, you know, the professional that's saying, you've got to do this, you must get a retraining order. And I'm partially judging that and saying, that's really bad. But I'm also letting you know, I've done things like that too. It's not easy because you so want to help them and you want to rush in and make that change.


You have to step back. So I'm taking you through my journey through the people I've worked with and the things that I experienced, coupled with their experiences, their true life experiences, and then throwing in the other things that come in, like, um, what happens if you tell them what to do. You're now taking on the role of the perpetrator.


If you let them free and they use words like he's violent, you need to know that doesn't mean physical violence. You need to learn to ask the question. So what I'm trying to do is get people to do whatever they're doing, but question themselves. The self awareness you have of yourself will help you help them become more self aware, and also recognize we're going to make lots of mistakes.


I know I'm making them even now, but to recognize that and know it's not wrong. You're, as a professional, your job isn't to tell people what to do. Just because you know some theories and you've passed some exams and you've got some letters at the end of your name, doesn't make you better than your client.


It means they have a need. You can fulfill that need. They're crushed a little bit right now, and they can't see the wood for the trees. So what I'm trying to do in that book is to get people to realize we're all in this together. Some are ahead of the game, some are behind, but we need to figure out a way of blending that so that we can get the best outcomes for the families.


Because if we get a good family, we get a good neighborhood and a good community, and we just spread it out. So, I continue with that, and I share some Islamic things as well, because the women were all Muslims. So, if you're working with Muslim clientele, you get a little bit about the Qur'an and what they believe about it.


You get a bit of understanding of the legalities for Muslims. So, you could be married in the Western civil courts, but a lot of Muslims or Jews or Christians, I imagine, too, they don't accept that as a marriage until they've had their own religious ceremonies. And the same for divorce. So they may not do any other practice.


They may not pray, they may not eat halal food, but when it comes to the essential points of their life, they use a few certain tools. So I put them in there as well for people to, um, kind of question. And alongside the questioning, one of the things I've done is I put my version of honor in there. And that's because, again, like I've said, I thought everybody thought of it the same way.


And I realized honor in domestic violence and abuse and violence against women and girls is often connected to honor based violence. And the two don't actually blend. How can you have honor and honor based violence? So I basically just do a little kind of, this is what I thought honor was. Tear this apart if you want to, or think about it, cross question it.


Tell me what your version is, because it's not until we start having those discussions that we're going to move forward. It's always going to be, well, you think like that, and I, actually, I work perfectly well in my community. You can't sit in this space, but actually we can, because when we share that, we learn.


You know, we learned that we've all got honor. We've all got a concept of honor. It means different things to different people. And so the honor based violence, and I question that in the book as well, can we put those three words together? How can you kill somebody in the name of honor? If a woman is that useless, if she is so brittle that if she looks at another guy or she has a relationship with another guy, she can taint your honor.


What are you saying? First of all, she's nothing, but yet she has the capacity to destroy your life and you think you have the right to harm her. You know, so I, I bring some of those questions up because I think this book isn't, um, it's a very easy read, but I keep challenging you. Because I'm challenging myself, you don't grow without challenges.


And if you, if you stop challenging yourself, you stop growing. And what I want is for people to not only learn about themselves, but to start thinking, well, actually, what do I think about? What do I think about Muslims? What do I want to know about Muslims? What do I need to know about Muslims? Because the media Don't say anything positive.


And then when people come into our lives, they go, Oh, I didn't know you people were like that. And you're sitting there going, just ask the question, because if you don't ask the question, you're never going to move beyond to the next question. And suddenly you find a whole flower blossoming. So I'm hoping that healing from narcissistic abuse will do that, that it'll start getting people to think and just being able to ask the simple questions.


Because that's what I found, that whenever I reached out to somebody, um, I lived in the Bible Belt at one point, and anytime I talked to anybody, they just would bombard me with questions because they hadn't heard that side of Islam. So that's what I'm trying to do in the book, to get us to start talking to each other and recognize there's lots of different ways of coming together and going forward.


Passionistas: Yeah. So what do we need to know about Muslims? What are we not asking?


Ruby: Right. We're no different to you. We have certain practices. So our religious laws for the people that are praying, they're going to pray five times a day and they're very specific times in the day. Before they pray, there's a whole cleansing ritual, which is a spiritual ritual as well, as well as a physical one.


But the rest of the things, we do the same thing as you. So many girls that are wearing a head covering have probably dyed their hair blonde underneath. And it's probably, you know, it's a bob or it's something really funky, but you're not to know because you won't see it until you're in an all women gathering.


And then they take it off and you go, Oh, okay. She does that. And she does that. We do all the same things. We mess up in the same way. I've had girls telling me, Ruby, I tried to wax my, um, my hair. Whatever, leg or whatever, because they didn't have the skills. And it was, so we're talking when they were very young.


They said, Ruby, it got stuck. And then they told me the entire journey. So we do all the things you guys do, but our belief system is different. So we believe in God and we believe in the prophet. And we believe in the Christian side of belief as Jesus is a prophet. So that's our major fundamental difference in terms of our God.


But yeah, everything else, we do all the same. We go out and party, we go out and watch movies, we have our dinners, we get together. We're not supposed to mix as in boys and girls together, but in the West, we have to. That's life. You know, you're everywhere you're going, it's mixed. So you mix together, you know, so there's a lot of similarities.


I think probably if there's a fundamental difference, it would be on the relationship side, because there are still a lot of arranged marriages. And so that's probably one of the bigger fundamental differences. But actually, if you learn how they're done, they're not as frightening as they seem when they're put out in the media.


You know, you're not just thrown with somebody. And the people that are in that capacity, their entire life would have been structured around it. So they know no different. So for a Western person to make a judgment on somebody else's life when you've had, you know, so many generations of doing it one way.


They don't know any difference. So if you said, okay, go out and have dinner with that guy, they wouldn't know what to do. They would just sit there and go, okay. And they would be obedient. You know, so I think the margins and relationships, that's probably where the fundamental difference is. But everything else, you know, we're as vain as the next person.


We want to do our eyes. We want to do our teeth. Let me do my, and the thing I have problems with, this is so bad. I shouldn't say this out loud. Why girls are putting in so many fillers and things. I just think, You're just perfect the way you are. Stop it. You're ruining your life. So we do that as well. And I do what I'm doing here. I have my little, oh, I wish she didn't do that. She's so much prettier. But yeah, we do all of those things.


Passionistas: That's beautiful. Um, and what is your definition of honor? How do you define it?


Ruby: So, what I had thought, Anna, was, was that you kind of respect each other. You've got your parents who you respect because they're your parents.


You might have your arguments, but you still respect them. You value everybody's opinion, because that's where I had come from. My family values each other's opinions. We have our inner fighting like everybody else, but we listen to each other. So I may not agree with you. But I'm going to listen to you. So you've got all this space of respect.


Okay, so I don't like you on this issue. And I don't like your opinions on that issue. But it's the issue in the opinion. And yes, I don't like what you're saying about it. But everything else should stay intact. It isn't that if I do something, it should affect your life, which is the way it honors being portrayed now.


And also, So coming from an Islamic perspective, we're taught to respect our elders, but we're also taught to honor our little people. So I'm expected to show love and kindness and mercy to the younger children or nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters. So it's just inbuilt. And I thought it was like that for everybody.


Because I was the youngest, I got a lot of freebies, if you like. But they're not freebies because with everything that I got, everything, there's a, there's always a plus and there's always a minus. So, although I got a lot of love and a lot of things coming down, I, and I think I write this in the book, I had to respect my elders regardless.


It didn't matter who they were. I'm now expected to respect my elders and show them the courtesy, the respect and everything that goes within that. Um, I took that for granted. And for me, that wasn't really much of a price to pay because I was getting so much because everybody in my family, and so therefore cousins and relatives, everybody was older than me.


So I was getting so much love and so much protection. It's quite easy to respect everybody after that, you know, but there is that trade off. You're going to have to sit with people you don't want to. You don't like Auntie So and so, you've got to sit with her. You might have to do some work for her. But, you know, so it was a very simple version of honor.


And this is why I questioned the three words, honor based violence. How can you put them together? There's no honor in that violence. Whose honor are you protecting? So yeah, so that was my kind of understanding of what honor was.


Passionistas: And what were, what were you taught about women's roles in society when you were growing up?


Ruby: Ah, so this is really interesting because I came from the classic. I was raised to do my schooling, education, maybe do a job, um, but to be a wife and then a mother. So I went through that lovely traditional, you know, being raised in this very nice. format, which I was really happy with, but it backfired and I wasn't ready for that.


Nobody told me it might go wrong and what you do from that. So I was raised within, I had a lot of rights. Islamically, I have a lot of rights. So land, if I have land, it's mine. It doesn't automatically shift ownership when I'm marrying. My husband, if I'm working, the money's mine. So I have a lot of rights to my property, my ownership of things.


I had been raised with that. Again, I knew no different. I thought all girls knew that. And you can't, I don't think you can imagine how my head exploded when I realized women don't know any of this stuff. So that's another thing I teach women the whole way through any kind of training I do. And within, even within a divorce, so I got divorced, even within the divorce, I should have been taken care of.


I wasn't, so I worked and so on and so forth. But there were so many rights given to me by Islam that I was really secure in who I was. I didn't challenge things growing up because again, financially, I was secure. Everything was going along nicely. I had no need to challenge anything. But then when the time came, I just stood into the space that I had to and took care of my business.


So, you know, that, that kind of the nurturing you get, I was validated. I watched people being validated all my life. I didn't see people being disrespectful, disrespected or Oh, she's stupid. Oh, he's an idiot. I didn't, you know, you, you do hear those things, but not in a way. That minimizes or harms person.


You hear that that person's a twit, they made a bad choice or something. So I was raised in an environment where we're listening to each other. So when I was part of the helpline and we learned to listen slightly differently, I realized, oh my gosh, there's a whole new layer of listening. Which is very strategic.


So, you know, when you've been listened to, you expect to be listened to. So, when I go to places, my daughters have told me this, she said, you go into a place like you own it. And I thought, but I go there because I think I'm going somewhere for information. They're supposed to give it to me. The same way when somebody comes to me, I give them everything I have in my field. So, I just took it for granted. So, and that's where my naivety comes in, but I'm better now.


Passionistas: We're always learning and growing. Yeah. Is there one lesson that you've learned on your journey so far that really sticks with you?


Ruby: Oh, that's difficult. Uh, I think for me, so this would be in my personal life. So when I separated, I started making decisions. And I'd been making them before, but I hadn't realized how powerful those decisions are. So when you're making whatever decision you are for yourself, for your children, to get as much information as you can to make that decision.


I had, again, I had my family, so there was a lot of information given to me that, you know, you've got a son, you've got a daughter, and raising the children, in the right way, as in boys need to be parented a specific way and girls a specific way. And I've been really diligent about not giving one authority over the other.


So if my daughter does something, my son has to do it. So he doesn't get to come home and just sit down and relax. Everybody does everything. So I think it would be That decision making process, when it's coming to affecting lives, that's been the most, um, important thing that I've learned, that not only can I make those decisions, When I make the mistakes, I'm also in a position to change that.


So yeah, it's um, because I always had people around me to kind of carry the fallout if I did something wrong. But when I was divorced, even though they were there, I needed to carry it. So I think that's been the most important decisions. If you make a wrong decision, you can make it right. So you, you know, you can change your thoughts and feelings and what you feel about something. Yeah.


Passionistas: That's beautiful. Um, one last two-part question. What's your dream for yourself and what's your dream for women?


Ruby: Right. So my dream for myself is, um, crazy. I am going to climb To the base of K2, which is in Pakistan. God willing, because it's such a beautiful mountain and the areas around are quite breathtaking and devastating.


So that's one of my dreams. That's one that came to the top of my head. For my women, I wish them The knowledge of knowing how amazing they are and to be able to take that step to become the person they want to become for the rest of their lives because they can and not to fear it. And I'm saying this very casually because I've worked with so many women, but not to fear that step.


I know it's really hard. I know it's probably the most difficult thing they'll ever do, but if they take that step, they will start pushing themselves forward. They will propel forward and they'll open up a whole world that they don't know exists. So yeah. That's what I do.


Passionistas: So, how can people get in touch with you if they want to work with you?

Ruby: So, I have a website. I think I've given that to you. I don't know whether that can come at the bottom of anything or whether, yeah, if you could share the website because on the website there's a get in touch page and if they message me, I can respond by email and if they'd like to leave a number, I'm happy to call them if they're happy with that.


Passionistas: Perfect. So we cannot thank you enough for joining us today, Ruby. This was a fascinating conversation and you are just such a beautiful soul. We're so glad you've come into our lives and we look forward to many opportunities to work together in the future.


Ruby: Thank you so much. I really appreciate this and I hope I can be of service to some of the women.


Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project. Since we're not only business partners, but best friends and real life sisters. We know how unique and truly special our situation is. We know so many solopreneurs, activists, women seeking their purpose, and more, who are out there doing it all on their own. They often tell us that they wish they had what we have. So we're creating a space for them, and you, to join our sisterhood, where trust, acceptance, and support are the cornerstones of our community.


By joining, you become part of our family. We'll give you all of our SisTips on building meaningful relationships through the power of sisterhood and all the tools you need to thrive in three key areas, business growth, personal development, and social impact. You'll learn from our panel of Power Passionistas who are experts on topics like transformational leadership, following your intuition, the power of voting, and so much more.


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We'll be back next week with another Passionista who's defining success on her own terms and breaking down the barriers for herself and women everywhere.


Until then, stay passionate.



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