Philippa Sklaar

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We are so pleased you landed on our page. This is the exact place to be to heal and transform your life. Sue is a therapist with 30 years’ experience as a domestic abuse expert and I was once her client. It was during the darkest years of my life when I still thought I could change him. How many times have you said that to yourself?

We are here to help you unravel the complexities of abuse and help you understand that you need to look at yourselves – with compassion and tough love. We help you identify how you participate in the dance of abuse in ways that you don’t understand. You are not the problem but you are the solution. We’ll show you how.

With love,

Sue and Philippa


















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Posted in abuse, codependency, counselor, dating, domestic violence, family feud, healing, healing crystals, healing stones, love, marriage, obsession, relationships

Asian Salmon Over Ribbon Courgettes – cooking away codependency

This is fast and fabulous and hits all the notes on the taste-o-meter!

  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove 
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

Whisk sauce ingredients together.

  • 2 salmon, skinless (6oz each)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sesame seeds
  1. Take salmon out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking. Pat salmon  dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  2. Whisk together the Sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Drizzle oil in a non stick fry pan and heat over medium high heat. Place salmon in the pan, and cook the first side for 3 minutes. Turn, then cook the other side for 2 minutes.

  4. Pour Sauce over salmon. Cook for 1 minute or until it starts to thicken slightly. Check the side of the salmon to tell how cooked through the middle is.  If Sauce thickens too much before salmon is cooked, just add water 1 tbsp at a time.

  5. Set aside onto a plate.

    Courgettes – this is one of my favorite vegetables right now. Slicing into ribbons and cooking them this way makes them addictive.

    Using a vegetable peeler, shave the courgettes into long ribbons. I use both green and yellow courgettes. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan, heat and saute the ribbons for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper – minced garlic adds a kick.

    Pile onto a plate and top with salmon, drizzled with Sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions.



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An Inmate’s Story – A Lesson In Codependency

Every month I run our program at the California Institution for Women. Most of the women are doing life sentences, having murdered their partners and all victims of abuse.

Corinne Ho, pictured with me, is on my board of The Women’s Voice Project and attends these sessions with me. Her dedication is invaluable. She not only arranged for the Spanish translation of WHEN LOVING HIM HURTS but acts as the translator for the Latino women. Some of these women are in their seventies, cannot speak English and would never have had the opportunity to heal from horrific abuse experienced since childhood.

Codependency and abuse are a great leveler, just like addiction. It makes no distinction between demographics, education, color or class. After each session, the women are given assignments from When Loving Him Hurts. Some of their stories are so inspirational that I asked the prison for permission to print them to inform and empower women like you. Only their names have been changed. Their stories may differ from yours but the underlying theme will be identical. Equating love with need, working like a slave for a man’s approval, needing a man to validate their worth, and having no self-esteem. Codependency is bred in childhood and each of their stories is testimony to this.

Each one is given a written response to help them connect the dots as to why they chose the men they did, help them identify self-destructive patterns, and how to create new ones that serve them in ways they never imagined possible.  Below is my response to one of their stories. For the purpose of this blog, I will call her Nancy.

From my response you will learn about her story.

Dear Nancy,

I want you to consider what you understood love to be from a very young age. Abuse from your mother, a brother who was the first to molest you, a family you couldn’t trust, and no safe place to be. Your world view from this experience was that the world is a dangerous, scary, hostile, and unsafe place.

Can you see today that experimenting with drugs at an early age was a way out of your desperation to not feel? It was what you used to cope. To numb the pain. You described how you fell in love at 14. What on earth do we know what love is at that age?  From your understanding of what love was, you would have gone to anyone who gave you the slightest attention.

Imposing adult emotions on a child is what creates chaos, dysfunction and suffering. We are barely able to cope with these emotions as adults. It’s impossible to deal with them as children especially when it comes to countless rapes. Falling pregnant at a young age,  having an abortion and then having to lie about it, can only create havoc to an already chaotic life. Your life up until then was so fraught with hostility, pain, and uncertainty, you had no skills to navigate any of this.

The life you described that followed is understandable. Running with men and doing drugs, was an indication of how badly you wanted to jump out of your skin. Anything to numb the pain.  When we don’t deal with the issues, they burrow underground and come out in all sorts of ways that keep us in a self-destructive cycle.

Your aversion to taking responsibility with your kids, is a reaction to having responsibilities foisted on you as a child that you were neither equipped to deal with or had the ability to understand. This is why I said that it is impossible for children to deal with adult responsibilities or emotions.

The first thing I want you to focus on is your guilt. It’s time to DROP IT!!! As an adult, you can now do for yourself what was never done for you as a child. Inside you is still that little girl. Traumatized and afraid. If you continue holding onto your guilt you are continuing the abuse you have experienced your entire life. Only you can stop the cycle. Make that decision today!

And here’s how: Firstly, living with powerlessness is one of the reasons you reacted to your life circumstances the way you did. From feelings of helplessness, the only way you felt like you had some power was choosing to use drugs, sleep around, go out, and neglect your children. When we don’t know how to cope and are never taught coping skills we ALWAYS self-destruct. We seek cheap thrills, dangerous traps and think that’s the answer. You were never taught what love is, trustworthiness, and responsibility so how on earth could you have shown it? You were abandoned from an early age, abandonment and neglect is all you know. As an adult, you now have the power of choice. You can choose differently. Choose to stop blaming yourself is the first step.

When you think back to how you were treated as a child, and this includes while you were a teenager, what choices did you have that you could have been different? NONE! Because you didn’t know any better. Continuing to blame yourself is no different to expecting you as a child to take on adult responsibilities when you were incapable. By blaming yourself you are continuing the abusive cycle that is entrenched in your life. There is a huge difference between blame and responsibility. Blame keeps us stuck, responsibility empowers. You now have the power to break the cycle. This is the time to take responsibility where it really counts. With yourself.

The past is over. It’s gone. Stop giving it power to infect your life now. You have been given this incredible opportunity to change the direction of your life. Give everything to yourself now that you weren’t given as a child. It is never too late and by that I mean it is never too late to be the mother to your kids. Let them be your motivation when you think it too difficult. Think of that little girl inside you who never received love, understanding, comfort, safety and be that mother to her.

Blaming keeps us stuck in victim-hood. That includes blaming the past. When we stop blaming we take our power back and are then able to make choices that empower us.

Those feelings of helplessness and powerlessness no longer need dictate your life. It makes no difference that you are in prison. You have this incredible opportunity to unlearn all the destructive ways you used to cope. So many people who aren’t in prison may as well be because they cannot free themselves from the chains of their thoughts. The irony is that in prison you can feel real freedom for the first time. Free from guilt, free from torturing yourself with your past. The past is over. It’s gone. Don’t allow it to have power over you. Real power is from within. It’s making choices today that are no longer self-destructive.

You say you have forgiven your mom.  It’s remarkable that you did. Whatever means you used to forgive her, do the same for yourself. Forgiving yourself needs to be your priority. Until you do, you will never find the peace you long for. Do this exercise each time a wave of guilt hits. Go back to every decision you made that causes you shame, pain and guilt. What were you thinking at the time you made those decisions? Did you have any choice to act differently? No, you didn’t because you didn’t know any better. Instead of judging yourself as guilty, see yourself as INNOCENT to what you were thinking and believing at the time. You had no choice because you had no idea what to do from years of abuse, degradation, and humiliation. You were never taught or shown skills how to cope. This is the time to be kind to yourself, gentle and be the loving mother to yourself that you never had growing up. As Oprah says, “when we know better, we do better”.

Once you do this, you will be able to be the loving mother to your kids. This is your first step. You are no longer alone struggling to make sense of a world that never showed kindness. Kindness starts with you. When you treat yourself in a kind, loving way, the world will reflect this back to you. There is nothing you cannot achieve. Think of the strength you have that you survived the unimaginable. Use that strength and dedicate that to yourself to heal. Break the cycle of abuse with yourself. It’s where healing begins. None of us know the future. I understand your pain with regards to your kids. When we do the right things, right things happen. All you can do right now is focus on you. If you think of everything you need to do to make things right it is too overwhelming. Think of how your life looked like when the first step was unhealthy and dysfunctional. A pattern of one dysfunctional act followed after another. The same is true when we start doing things the healthy way. You set a pattern and miracles occur.

The pain you carry for not being there for your children, use it. Be there now for you. For that child in you that was never shown love.  It’s where change begins. Each time you want to go on a guilt trip, be kind to yourself. Practice kindness whenever you can towards yourself. No one was ever there for you.  Now you can be there for yourself. Each time a wave of pain hits, remind yourself that beating yourself over it continues the cycle of abuse. You end it. You have the power and the choice to do so. TODAY!

I’m not in the least surprised you take medication. What you have endured only tells me how incredibly strong, resilient, determined and powerful you are. The fact you so want to heal, says everything about you. Stop focusing on what you did wrong. You did the best you could with what you knew and with what you had. You now get the opportunity to do things differently this time.

I am honored that you shared this with me. The fact that you are in this class is not a coincidence. I will help you every step of the way and will remind you when you forget how courageous you are. It takes courage to face ourselves, to own up and show up. Every time you want to beat yourself up about not being responsible, remind yourself that there is nothing more responsible than owning up and doing whatever it takes to do better. I applaud you. Now applaud yourself!

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Posted in abuse, codependency, dating, domestic violence, emotional abuse, family, love, marriage, relationships

How to Find the Golden Goose in Abuse


You know how you thought that when you met the man of your dreams he would change? And he did. For the worst. But you still held onto him because you believed that having anybody was better than having nobody. No matter how he treated you, you believed that if you worked just a little bit harder, had one more conversation and a little more time, he would change. You were determined to work out the magic formula that would transform him.  It was the power of your love that would realize his potential – if only he would just listen!

I, like you, a victim of abuse, believed that all I was worth was a man who beat me, punched me and cheated on me. I shrunk each time I heard, “first time a victim, second time a volunteer,” “if you go back you deserve what you get” and “why don’t you just leave?”

It took seven long years before I accepted I was an abused woman. It seemed impossible that I could be one or that my husband was an abuser. He was far too rich, too educated, and too sophisticated. I came from a prominent political family, was the mayor’s daughter and was far too affluent to be a victim of abuse. After all, abused women lived in poverty stricken areas, were uneducated and their abusers were skin heads with facial scars and missing teeth.

Weren’t they?

Lifestyles of the rich and vicious

My opinion changed dramatically one night when I found myself on the sidewalk, bleeding, my clothes torn. He had tried to put a cigar out on my cheek, bit my mouth until it filled with blood and tried to choke me. I had no idea where I got the strength but I managed to break free, picked up the emergency remote and ran out of the house. In South Africa, I lived in a gated community with security guards roaming the streets. I was safer on the streets of Johannesburg, the crime capital of the world, than in my own home. No sooner had I pressed the button when the headlights of the patrol car appeared at the bottom of the drive way. While I waited for the police to arrive I asked,

“Is it unusual to receive a call like this from this area?”

“No,” the security guard replied. “We receive more calls from this area than any other”.

That was my first in a long list of beliefs that changed.  Abuse is a great leveler. It reaches everywhere and everyone.

Another belief in need of correction was that of my fairy-tale endings. As abused women, we refuse to give up on “happily ever after” despite the evidence that proves otherwise. We cling to the belief that our beast will turn into the prince, the frog will magically transform when kissed and our Knight in Shining Armani will whisk us off into the sunset.

Or is there a different story?

My story is your story because abuse only has one story.

Most of us abused women are codependents. We equate love with need and unless we are working like a slave for a man our love isn’t worth anything. Our pathology demands damaged, wounded men to prove we can save them.

When I finally accepted I was an abused woman, I was riddled with shame. It was a crippling, confusing shame. I wanted the hands that beat me to comfort me. How did I explain that to myself or anyone else? I “loved” and wanted a man who kicked me, pulled out bunches of my hair and spat in my face. “It’s like wanting to hug a shark – why on earth would anyone do that?”

It took a third abusive marriage for me to finally understand that the common denominator was me. Until I took responsibility for my contribution to the dance of abuse I was destined to repeat the pattern.

The Golden Goose

 I was living alone yet still feeling like a victim, stuck in the story of what had happened to me. Despite my love and commitment, I was cheated on. My devotion for which I expected applause and reward had resulted in violence and lies.  Life wasn’t fair. But the only voice I was listening to was my own. I had begun to emulate my abuser in that I was abusing myself worse than they ever did. That was a wake-up call.

There is always a payoff to self-destructive behavior and for me it was that as long as I blamed and complained I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life. That sickened me. There is nothing more dis-empowering than being a victim. I could only imagine what I could achieve if put all my time and energy into myself and realized my own potential instead of my men. In that instant I became my project.

I read every self-help book, attended Kabbalah classes, and even went to an ashram in India in search for answers. Slowly and painstakingly my search moved from outside to within and a new value system emerged. Everything I had thought was valuable and had assigned meaning to became insignificant and everything I believed was true, wasn’t.

Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Traveled that throughout our lives our sick side and our healthy side battle each other. The sick side is the insane voice of the ego that never shuts up. It’s the running commentary of labels, judgments, criticisms and comparisons that assigns meanings to every object, situation and event. It keeps us locked in past and future where fear, guilt, pain, loss, lack and conflict reign. It constantly feeds us lies base on our insecurities and we react to them as if they were true. It is the ultimate abuser.

The healthy side is the place deep within that resonates with truth, love and peace.  It’s the place where we experience an “aha” moment as a truth lands perfectly or experience the magnificence of nature. It’s the voice of wisdom that whispers when we are still. This is the voice that heals us –  not the tyrannical voice of the ego.

Abuse taught me the power of choice. I get to choose what thoughts I want, what feelings I want and who I want in my life. No one can rob us of our inner peace unless we choose to allow it.

I am not for a minute saying that changing your world view is easy. It takes work, commitment and dedication. I struggled for years with abuse and one of the reasons I co-wrote When Loving Him Hurts was to short circuit other women’s journeys. If I could go from having zero self-esteem to moving across the world and publishing three books, what can you achieve? My first book, Hot Cuisine, was about men and food and my first client in LA was Elizabeth Taylor. In 2015 I was invited by my ex-therapist, Sue Hickey, to co-write When Loving Him Hurts and the following year we wrote The Affair.

Do you have any idea what that felt like when my ex-THERAPIST issued that invitation? To co-write a book with someone you hold in the highest regard when for years you believed you were worthless? I still tear up when I think about it.

I have since formed a non-profit organization called The Women’s Voice Project to help abused women. I get to go out every day and help make a difference in people’s lives.  Abuse gave me my life purpose. It was how I discovered my worth and how you can discover yours.

It requires a choice.

Today you can choose it.

If I found the golden goose in abuse, so can you.

Cover Amazon

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The 1 thing you should do to guarantee relationship success – Check Your Mate

love-is-puppiesExcerpt from The Affair – by Sue Hickey and Philippa Sklaar

If you’re thinking of getting married or starting a serious relationship, Check Your Mate on the list below. Don’t even think of embarking on a romance without it.

Is it any wonder that 50% of marriages end up in divorce? If it’s a second marriage the odds are worse. But the least likely to succeed are marriages that begin as affairs. 80% fail.

A friend of mine who knows numerology said that 2017 is a great year. 2016 added up to 9,  never a good idea to begin anything new as 9 means endings. 2017 adds up to 10.  A great year for beginnings. Wonderful news to begin the New Year.


  1. What characteristics of his/her do you admire?

2. What characteristics bother you?

3. Have you discussed them?

4. Does your list include?




5. Fidelity:

What level of loyalty do you expect?

What behavior qualifies as infidelity?

Will infidelity be a deal breaker?

If not, how will you choose to resolve it?

6. Conflict:

How will you handle disagreements?

Have you agreed on a set of rules of conduct?

What is unacceptable when you have disagreements?

What is the timeline to resolve disagreements?

Is going to bed fighting acceptable?

Is distancing and punishing allowed?

Is arguing in front of others allowed?

Is arguing in front of your kids allowed?

Is it allowed to persuade your kids to take sides?

Is resolution the goal rather than who is right or wrong?

7. Have you defined each of your roles?

Who takes out the trash?

Who does the grocery shopping?

Who does the washing up?

Who looks after finances?

Who makes coffee in the morning?

Who dresses the kids?

Who wakes up when they cry at night?

8. Does he/she respect your opinions?

9.Does he/she respect your family and friends?

What happens when we don’t like each other’s friends?

When one of you wants to go home and the other not, what is the agreement?

How do you see socializing in the future?

How much time is spent in pubs or out with friends without each other?

10. What is his/her attitude towards money?

Is he/she generous?

Is he/she responsible?

Do you agree on what the financial priorities are?

Who manages the monthly financial affairs?

11. What are his/her thoughts around children?

What are his/her views on discipline?

What agreement is in place when you differ on what permission to give?

If this is a second marriage, what agreements do you have in place?

What happens if there is a disagreement between the children and non- biological parent?

12. Have you agreed that you are both on the same team no matter what?

13. How will you treat your parents-in-law?

How often may they visit?

How will you handle not liking them?

Do you both understand what is expected of you?

14. Do you have the same views on alcohol and drugs?

Do you feel anxious about your partner’s use of substances?

15.How will you re-connect when life takes over and you lose the romance?

Do you have time set aside on a weekly basis for real communication?



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You know when you thought when you met the man of your dreams he would change?

Go to to register for 20 minute complimentary session.

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Posted in abuse, codependency, dating, domestic violence, healing, healing crystals, healing stones, love, marriage, obsession, relationships

“You can’t bake a cake or make a relationship work with a rotten egg – no matter how skilled you are”


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