Domestic Violence Help

What is the Relationship Spectrum?
Relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive with unhealthy falling somewhere in the middle. This Relationship Spectrum model illustrates where a relationship falls.
https://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics/relationship-spectrum/

Setting Boundaries in a Relationship
Relationships are healthy when both partners communicate their boundaries clearly, and the other person respects them. Boundaries do not occur naturally; they must be established.
https://www.breakthecycle.org/blog/setting-boundaries-relationship

Resources for Victims & Survivors from The National Domestic Violence Hotline
Always be aware of online safety. Use a gender-neutral username on websites and do not share personal information.
https://www.thehotline.org/resources/victims-and-survivors/

State and Federal Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence victims are protected under state and federal laws. Learn about your rights and protections here.
https://www.injuryclaimcoach.com/domestic-violence-help.html#Tip2

Recovering from Rape and Sexual Trauma
Learn how to be kind to yourself to allow the space and time you need to heal.
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/recovering-from-rape-and-sexual-trauma.htm

How to Support a Friend or Loved One Who Has Been Sexually Abused
It can be extremely difficult to speak about sexual abuse, especially as it affects our own lives or the lives of those we care about. Learn how to best support victims and their recovery.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/smarter-living/sexual-abuse-assault-support-mental-health.html

How Do I Find a Therapist Near Me?
If you want to seek professional help, use a local finder to locate someone nearby.
https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-do-i-find-a-therapist-near-me/

Ways in Which Abuse and Domestic Violence Changes You
"...although you will come out victorious, you will not come out the same. Abuse changes you."
https://www.thehotline.org/2017/10/31/ways-abuse-domestic-violence-changes-you/

Domestic Violence Support Group Finder
Connect with others who have experienced domestic violence or know someone who has.
https://www.meetup.com/topics/domesviolence/

Creating a Comforting Home Atmosphere for Survivors of Abuse: A How-To Guide
Learn how to create a space that facilitates healing for survivors of abuse.
https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/how-to-create-a-comforting-home-for-abuse-survivors/

Five Self-Defense Moves Every Woman Should Know

Five Self Defense Moves Every Woman Should Know

 

Most women think sexual attacks only happen to others. However, the statistics suggest otherwise.

In America, sexual assault occurs every two minutes. Most victims (80 percent) are under age 30, though sexual assault can happen to anyone, of any age or demographic.

As sobering as these numbers are, women should take heart. According to a Houston sex crimes lawyer, those who fight back may cut their sexual assault risk in half. Try these 5 self-defense moves if you feel threatened by an attacker.

 

Make Noise

No matter how frightened or intimidated a victim may feel, making noise can help. Don’t hold back—startle the attacker with a loud scream or continual shouting. Some women carry whistles on their key rings. If so, pipe out several sharp, piercing whistles. Overall, though, shouting and screaming is just as effective.

The more you can bring attention to an attacker, the more they’ll be deterred. Attackers often run away when shouts of “He’s attacking me!” or “He’s trying to rape me!” are heard by others. At minimum, shouting can distract an attacker enough to allow the victim extra time to get away or use other defensive moves to the attacker’s disadvantage.

 

Use Nearby Objects

Most women carry a handbag with them. If the handbag is heavy, it’s also an effective potential weapon. An attacker may not be prepared for a hit over the head. If it’s not that heavy, use more leverage to make the impact more powerful.

Keys can also harm an attacker, particularly if used to scrape the assailant’s skin, face, or eyes. Consider attaching a small canister of pepper spray to the same key ring. Pepper spray is legal everywhere in America, and one shot can immobilize an attacker even at 12 feet.

 

Kick and Stomp

If the assailant restricts arm movement, use your legs and feet instead. Lift up your dominant leg and bring the heel down on your attacker’s foot, intending to cause pain.

By hurting the attacker, even minimally, a prepared woman can throw off the attack altogether, or unbalance the attacker. When this happens, get away as soon as possible. If the attacker holds on anyway, employ another tactic (like below).

 

Pull Assailant’s Ear or Attack the Nose

If an attacker has a close hold on his victim, that victim may feel powerless. Counteract this mentality and try to get at least one hand free to grab the assailant’s ear. Pull—hard—and even cup fingers under the entire ear while pulling. This movement causes significant pain to any attacker, allowing the victim a way to escape.

Broadsiding the nose from below is also an effective strategy. Bring your dominant hand up, palm side up, and jam the assailant’s nose up and back. In many cases, this move breaks the attacker’s nose, but at minimum, can cause pain and/or bleeding.

 

Scratch, Gouge, or Use Other Disabling Tactics

Sometimes, a victim’s mind goes blank from shock and fear. If this happens, use your hands, body, and feet to hurt your attacker. Scratch arms, face, and any other body part. Gouge the assailant’s eyes with fingers or knuckles. Knee the attacker’s groin.

 

The point is, stay alive and do whatever you can to hurt your attacker so you can run away. Be prepared and know how you can use your body and environment to your advantage in any situation.

 

 

 

Coming Back from Soul Destruction – Ruth Jacobs

 

 

We know them.  We all know a woman who struggles with drugs and alcohol.  Perhaps she’s a woman in your family, a friend or even a co-worker, but we know them.  If you have not been an drug addict then you cannot know what they go through.  You can’t imagine the pain they feel from moment to moment and the things that they are driven to do because of that addiction. 
 
Ruth Jacobs has been there – in the very recesses of hell – and she came back to us.  And, when she came back, she came with a mission to rescue others. Not just her friends, but anyone and everyone who wanted help.  Those stuck in the vicious cycle of drugs and prostitution have someone they can turn to. 
 
Ruth is working very hard to make the world safer for people in prostitution.  She is making them aware of their rights and helping to inspire them to have the courage to speak up when they have been victimized.  Can a sex trade worker be raped?  Absolutely, yes and Ruth is helping to change the laws and the awareness of society so it is not tolerated.

 

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You have had experiences with drugs and alcohol. Were you an addict?

Yes, I was a heroin and crack addict shooting up and on death’s door during the late ‘90s. I didn’t expect or want to live back then.

 

Ruth Jacobs 7-12What pulled you into a life of getting high?

I didn’t care about or value life. I hated it. I started drinking from a young age then in my early teens, I started smoking dope. It was to escape my reality. I was desperately unhappy due to trauma. I was self-medicating. The drugs I used escalated, as did the way I took them.

 

Were you also pulled into prostitution along with this?

Becoming a call girl wasn’t a decision made or needed to pay for drugs. When I first started, I didn’t have a heroin or crack habit. I think I’d tried those drugs once or twice, but they weren’t matched to my income so I didn’t take them. The day job I had at the time provided enough money to buy the drugs (dope, acid, speed, alcohol) I was using back then.

For me, prostitution is what pulled me into intravenous heroin and crack addiction. I was living in a fantasyland and to stay there I had to shut out what I was doing and what I was allowing to be done to me, as well as what I wasn’t allowing – I was raped by a client quite early on, and that wasn’t the only time.

Maybe my drug using would have progressed to the depths it did anyway from the original pain I was running from – I don’t know. Certainly having the money to buy the amount of heroin and crack I was taking played a part, but maybe I would have gone downhill slower if that wasn’t the case. Some of my clients, a lot of my regular clients, were drug users, not heroin though and none injected. But they took cocaine and/or crack and I’d take it with them. As an addict, being paid to take drugs when you’re in active addiction seems like a dream job.

 

What made you decide to change your life and way of living? What woke you up and saved you from this lifestyle?

I ran out of money, I looked too sick (abscesses from injecting/needle marks) to work, and none of my many attempts at suicide led to the only way out of life I could see.

In 1999, around the summertime, I’d already been hospitalised five times that year in London, even though I’d been out of the country until mid-late February and one of those hospitalisations was for two months. Some of those times I was sectioned, which meant I wasn’t allowed to leave and I had to take whatever medication was prescribed, which was very frightening, as was sleeping in an open-door room in a mixed locked ward with a rapist.

After the fifth hospitalisation, I actually went to the 12-step meetings I’d been saying I was going to attend the other times but never did. I used to say to myself just one more hit when I get out then I’ll go to a meeting, but the first hit on being released would lead to the next then the next then the next, and I kept finding myself back in hospital. So, I went to the meetings and some truly amazing, wonderful people saved my life and taught me how to live without the drugs I’d been dependent on.

I wasn’t planning to stop working, but my 12-step sponsor told me I wouldn’t stay clean if I went back to seeing clients. I listened to her and didn’t return to that life.


You began to write novels versus poetry and short stories. Tell us why you started writing.

I think that my grandmother being a writer inspired me to start writing. When I first began as a young teenager, I wrote poetry and I did that because it provided some kind of release for me from trauma, nothing like the drugs did, but then they brought their own trauma in the end. It wasn’t until I completed my first novel that I tried my hand at a short story, though having said that, I would have written short stories as part of my school work. I actually started writing my first book at around sixteen, but I didn’t finish one until twenty years later.

 

Your work is focused on bringing attention to the plight of those in the sex industry and helping those same people. Prostitution and drugs. How did you get involved with this? Why is this your focus?

I wrote my novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, to show what the reality is for so many women in prostitution. Being a call girl has been glamorised in the media and I wanted to show the experience that my friends and I had had – we might have seen clients in five-star hotels and luxury residences in the most expensive parts of London, but that didn’t render us immune to suffering rape and other violence. I hoped my book would deter other women from entering the sex trade because I know so many of us still suffer from having been in that life and I didn’t want other women and girls to think it’s easy money because that’s the only portrayal they’d seen. I also wanted to show women who sell sex as the real people they are, which is why my book is about the women and not about what they do to earn money. And also to show that although many of us do have a history of abuse in our childhoods, we are strong women, fighters and survivors. I wasn’t planning on doing anything else; my non-fiction writing on the subject and activism just happened along the way from when I began writing a blog and connecting with other women activists, some of whom had also been in the sex trade.

 

Your most recent book, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, is this story fact or fiction and where did the concept come from?

That book is fiction, but the main storyline is based loosely on events from my own life – though not how it ends.

 

You released In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl, which is a transcription of an interview you did with a woman in prostitution who you refer to as “Q”. Unfortunately, that woman is no longer living and you donate all proceeds from the sale of that publication to Beyond the Streets, a charity working to end sexual exploitation. How did you come to find this organization and why is it important to you?

I was searching for a charity whose ethos I agreed with and when I found Beyond the Streets and saw they also worked with a great number of other charities and projects across the UK they seemed perfect. I spoke with the director and liked their non-judgemental and empowering approach to supporting women who want to leave the sex trade and I am delighted my friend’s words are raising money for them, as I am sure she is too.

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What, if anything, can the average person do to help women and others who are involved in prostitution? 

Respect is the first thing that comes to mind. Just because someone is selling or has sold sex this does not make her deserving of any less respect than any other woman. This also includes respecting her agency and where she is at in her life, having understanding and compassion, as most of us have suffered, but not viewing and treating us all as victims which is unhelpful and disempowering.

Understanding what help, if any, a person wants is really the first step, and accepting and respecting their decision whatever that may be, including if they do not want to leave the sex trade. Anyone trying to make me leave that life or believe I was doing something damaging by selling sex when I was a call girl would have made me run a mile from them.

At a less personalised level, there are laws and policing models people can advocate for such as the Merseyside hate crime model, which has brought about astonishingly high conviction rates for crimes committed against sex trade workers. This policing model prioritises the protection of people in prostitution over the enforcement of the law, ensuring people in the sex trade have the human right of the protection of the law and recourse to justice when they have been the victim of a crime. Interestingly as well, this model – which is not focused on exiting routes (though offers the services) – has resulted in there being half the number of women involved in street prostitution.

 

Walking up to them at random is probably not the best thing. How do we know if they need or want help?

I think giving someone a smile is worth a lot. But if someone walked up to me and offered to help me, they may well have ended up looking for help themselves – to get to a hospital. As far as I was concerned I didn’t need help, but perhaps more importantly, I didn’t want help. I would never trust a stranger offering that to me. When you’re in that life everyone wants something from you and an offer of help would demand something from me in return.

 

However, if someone on the street seems like they might be in danger, say there is violence from what appears to be a pimp or a punter, or if a woman seems like she may in fact be a girl and underage, then people must call the police. It is imperative to remember that in the sex trade there are people who are there because they are being forced. Sex trafficking sadly is a reality and action has to be taken to address this. I’ve even heard about an area in London where the police were regularly driving past women in the sex trade who were being beaten in the streets. They didn’t stop and the public would do nothing either, just look on. This sickens me.

 

When it comes to sex trafficking, which means that this is done against someone’s will – especially if children are involved – how would the average person know that this is happening? Are there specific things we should look for?

I think it’s important that the term ‘sex trafficking’ is better understood. This horrific abuse, especially where children are the victims, can be happening in family homes. People are misled perhaps by the media and perhaps by the term ‘trafficking’ itself. I didn’t realise, until I actually understood the term, that a couple of the women I knew years ago had been victims of trafficking. For example, one young woman would give all the money she earned on jobs to her boyfriend and he didn’t let her leave the house unless it was to see a client. At the time, I just thought she had a controlling boyfriend and didn’t understand why she stayed with him. I was naive and young myself.

As I am not an expert on human trafficking, I won’t answer what is an extremely important question with regards to the signs people should be looking out for in order to identify trafficking victims. I would urge people to read this guidance provided by the UK government https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/187041/A5_Human_Trafficking_Guidance_leaflet.pdf and this which is from the US http://www.justice.gov/usao/ian/htrt/health_identify_victims.pdf

svethegirls

 

To change the subject, you are also doing interviews with writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. Why did you start doing this and does it tie into your other humanitarian work or is this separate?

The majority of the creative interviews I do are separate from my other work but there has been crossover such as my interviews with survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution who are also writers and artists like Christine Stark and Sherry Dooley for example, and for filmmakers who are activists like Aimee Galicia Torres who is making a documentary, John: The Worst Story Never Told, with two of my friends who are survivors of sex trafficking, Michelle Carmela and Nikolaos Al-Khadra. Also author Sheila Quigley, who has written novels covering the issue of trafficking, took part in the series of interviews I ran at the beginning of this year for human trafficking awareness month.

I can’t remember what made me start undertaking the interviews, but I do remember it began with writers, and I also recall speaking with my friend Natasha Sandy in Canada about it at the time and who I will part blame for the somewhat cheesy title I chose: In the Booth with Ruth. She’d told me her title for a talk show if she ever had one, and in comparison, mine didn’t seem so bad. She needs to start that talk show!

ruth-int

Selling sex in the UK is not illegal but many activities related to prostitution are. Though the purpose of the trade is to sell sexual services, rape does happen and it is real. You are now helping to fight for victims rights through the Merseyside model and are pushing for that to be made UK wide. Again, why are you so passionate about this and how can others help?

When you are in prostitution there are so many barriers to reporting crimes committed against you, most of us don’t, yet we are the most likely to be raped and the death rate is shockingly high – in London for women in prostitution it’s 12 times the national average. When we do report crimes committed against us quite often we aren’t believed or it’s even perceived we were asking for it or it’s deemed a hazard of the job. It’s abhorrent to treat victims of rape and other violence like this. And then there’s the very real possibility of being charged with something related to prostitution. This goes back to what you mentioned about selling sex not being illegal here but activities related to prostitution are. If a woman lives with another woman in the sex trade or they are both working from the same premises for safety they could be charged with running a brothel, if she’s working on-street she could be charged with soliciting, if she lives with someone else they could be charged with living off immoral earnings, and for migrants who don’t have the right to live here it’s even harder as in addition they may risk being sent back to a dangerous country, separated from their family and children.

I care so much because I know this injustice in the law too well and how the current laws make people in the sex trade easy targets for criminals, knowing how unlikely we are to report the crimes they commit against us. My novel is about a group of women in prostitution who have all been raped by the same client – this is what’s based loosely on my own life– they aren’t able to turn to the police for help so to stop the rapist raping any more women they have to take matters into their own hands. This is not how the justice system is meant to work, not how the protection of the police is meant to fail women, yet it does.

Fourteen years later nothing has changed for women in prostitution when they have been the victim of rape – with the exception of the women in Merseyside. Merseyside is the only place in the UK where people in the sex trade can call the police when they’ve been the victim of a crime and know they will not be treated as a criminal and they will have the full protection of the law and recourse to justice.

People can advocate for the Merseyside hate crime model in their areas wherever they are in the UK or in the world. They can write to members of Parliament or Congress and campaign and raise awareness by any other means to get it discussed at government level and in the media spotlight. This short clip on BBC News from a documentary I presented will be useful in understanding the scheme and seeing how it works in practice. There’s also a great deal of information including interviews and articles here for people who would like to know more.

 

The Marlboro Man Hurts To: The Otherside of Domestic Violence

Are men laughed at for being victims of domestic violence, are men called punks, and suckers? Are men turned away by law enforcement when they are victims of domestic violence? Where are the resources for men to get help with domestic violence?

Dvwmt-21

 

 

There is a stigma that society/family has placed on men, the Marlboro man doesn’t seek help for domestic violence. The Marlboro man wouldn’t talk about being a victim.  The Marlboro man might not recognize that he is a victim of domestic violence. Because of the stigma, men suppress their emotions; most men don’t call for help, and statically most men don’t report their cases of domestic violence. Domestic violence wears many tags organization has a focus group titled “why men don’t express their emotions” and out fifty men (in the group) thirty admitted to being raised in households where they were told, boys don’t cry, suck it up, and handle your household, just to name a few. This group is to get men comfortable with having the dinner table conversation about domestic violence and the many tags that it wears. Men often times will not admit to physical abuse, but they will admit to verbal abuse, which is a tag that many men endure beginning at the early ages of their life.

 

Women do abuse men, “societal norms support female-perpetrated abuse in the home” (Straus et al., 1997; Straus, 1999). Men seem to be overlooked when it pertains to domestic violence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, men account for approximately 15% of the victims of reported intimate partner violence (February 2003). When we think of domestic violence we think of women only. Every year in the U.S., about 3.2 million men are the victims of an assault by an intimate partner. Most assaults are of a relatively minor nature such as pushing, shoving, slapping or hitting, though many are more serious – and some end in homicide.

 

Statistics show that women are abused at high rates, and resources are put in place but who’s to say men aren’t abused at high rates? Could it be, men don’t call and report their cases of domestic violence so they have little to no resources, although statistics show men are victims? Some men don’t call and report their cases because they aren’t taken seriously, and men are often ridiculed. No one would ridicule women that were being abused by their partners; society/family would treat the case with compassion. Unfortunately, Marlboro men are too embarrassed to admit they are victims of domestic violence.

 

Society/family have to take seriously those men abused by women, and not stereotype. The focus and resources has to be equal for men and women to receive the help that is needed in order to be safe from a violent relationship. I have found in a couple of cases when men call the police, they are arrested, because  society and family only know one side of domestic violence, women being abused by men. In my focus group some men reported they have tried calling and seeking out help but were told the program is geared towards women only. Some men in the focus group were referred to programs that only help male perpetrators, and not male victims.

 

Take the violence against men seriously. I know that some men think it is cute for their girlfriends to lash out or act jealous but the violence will escalate. Some of these attacks on men do lead to death. The first time that a women hits you, slices your tier, or key your car, let her know, it will never be a second time; move on and stand firm. Men don’t retaliate on women, even if you are an average size man, the best thing to do is leave the relationship safely. Men domestic violence wears many tags organization is ready to serve you with resources, counseling, and the proper advocacy to help you leave the relationship safely; don’t keep it a secret, the Marlboro man has a safe haven. Men, although there aren’t many resources for you, if you need help, please reach out to DVWMT@gmail.com (202) 821-8933 and or DV Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE.

 

For information and to attend the upcoming event in October, please visit here:  http://domesticviolencemenhurttoo.eventbrite.com/

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queen-afiQueen Afi is a motivational speaker on domestic violence, a DV awareness advocate, mental health professional, criminal justice major, and with this passion she offers in person session for the community, churches and or schools to further promote her cause. In 2009 she founded the organization called “Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags”. DVWMT is a local domestic violence prevention and resource organization dedicated to restoring and preserving a stable family environment through services, advocacy and education. Queen Afi spends her time advocating against domestic violence not only to the abused but also to the abuser, both men and women. Her life experience has given her the courage and strength to tell her story and how she has changed her life around and started helping others become aware of DV and how to avoid becoming the victim and/ or abuser (men, women, and teens).

You can also read more about Queen Afi Gaston on Women Move the Soul here.

Queen Afi, Founder of DVWMT
FB@DomesticViolenceWearsManyTags
Twitter@ViolWearManyTag

Instagram@ViolWearManyTags
www.DVWMTS.org
DVWMTS@gmail.com
(202) 821-8933
“Men, women and teens can be victims or abusers”

 

Stay Safe and Calm: Five at Home Tips for the Single Mom

 

Submitted by Annette Hazard

 

Single moms are superwomen, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be cautious. If you don’t have a man in superwomanthe house, it’s extremely important to pay attention to your surroundings. When it comes to staying safe, knowledge is power. While paying attention to your surroundings can help you look for red flags, there are several things you can do in your home that will deter vandals and peeping Toms. Here are 5 tips on how you can keep both yourself and your child safe.

Get a Watch Dog

If you’re a dog person and your child has been begging for a dog for years, now may be the time to give your child what they want. Not only will a dog become your companion, he will also protect you. Animals have inherent instincts to sense bad intent and you’ll feel much safer with a pooch.

Install a Security System

If you’re not a dog person, or you want a well-rounded security system, consider installing a home security system such as Vivint Home Security. Not only will alarms sound when sensors are triggered, new systems also give you the power to watch live feed from your security cameras so you can monitor what is taking place.   Monitored security systems will call your house immediately if an alarm is triggered to confirm that you are safe or if you are in need of emergency assistance from police, fire  or medical personnel.

Get a Door with a Peephole peephole

When you don’t have a peep hole, answering the door can put you at risk. If a home invader has been casing your home, they may have noticed there is no “man of the house”. You always tell your child not to open the door for anyone – you should do the same. By installing a peephole, you can take a peep to see who is knocking before you give a burglar the power to barge in. Peepholes are also great for children who stay home alone.

Keep Your House Well Lit

Burglars target houses that are dark and secluded. If you take the time to light up the pathway and the exterior areas of your home, you can discourage robbers and home invaders from entering your property.

Make Your Own Safe Room

You don’t necessarily need to build a steel room, but designating a safe room where everyone in the house can fit is a good idea. In the room, you should have a spare cell phone and possibly a weapon (if this is something you are comfortable with). Doing this increases your chances of walking away from a home invasion unharmed.

Make sure to build relationships with your neighbors.  Know your neighbors and be friendly enough to watch out for each other.  Be aware of what is happening in your neighborhood.  For instance, if there is a parked car in an odd place with people in it just after dark, they could possibly be waiting for lights to go out at a house that they plan to steal a car from.  Unmarked vans or people moving things out of a home on your street could be negative situations.

It may also be in your best interest to take a self-defense course so that you can protect yourself from attackers.   If you take the time to deter criminals, pay attention and gain knowledge, you’ll have the peace of mind you need.

 

Author Bio: Annette Hazard is a freelance blogger that writes about home and family. Currently she is promoting http://www.vivint.com/en/city/nm/albuquerque

Help is Now At Hand

submitted by Jo Powell, Wembly – UK

 

PAPILLON

Since 2008, Papillon has been supporting adult survivors of childhood sexual papillionabuse, with a particular focus on the hard to reach African and Caribbean communities.

The idea was borne out of my own dilemma, following my disclosure of sexual abuse suffered during childhood.

I was struggling to find a safe environment where I could talk to someone who was empathic, culturally sensitive to my needs and accessible.

In the end, I stopped searching and decided that the best option was to create my own space -PAPILLON.  With the love and unflinching support of family members and close friends, Papillon continues to extend its reach in denouncing childhood sexual abuse, nationally and internationally.

 

DROP IN SERVICE

Using one to one and group support, Papillon meets every Wednesday at the Chalkhill Community Centre.  Our Drop in Service is a safe, confidential and non judgmental place where men and women are able to uncover their individual healing path at their own pace.

 

Papillon’s facilitators are mindful of the fact that it takes a lot of courage and deliberation before attending a support group, such as Papillon.  Rest assured that we endeavor to make every encounter both a meaningful and cathartic experience.

 

It should be noted that deeply personal and sensitive issues discussed during the sessions may evoke triggers.

English, French & Jamaican patois spoken.

 

AWARENESS WORKSHOPS

Over the past 3 years, we have witnessed a sea change in our attitude towards childhood sexual abuse. Notably, Pope Benedict XVI publicly apologizing to the victims of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests in Ireland.

More recently, in the wake of the Jimmy Savile’s Sexual Abuse scandal, we have seen a significant number of people finding the courage to disclose and subsequently are seeking help and support.

Papillon aims to meet that growing demand in delivering Awareness Workshops on Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Workshops:  2 hours or ½ day event.   An informal and interactive exchange facilitated by compassionate staff.

Topics to be discussed:

  • Types of Sexual Abuse
  • Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse
  • Disclosure
  • Getting help

Who for:  Open to professionals or people that support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, their family members and friends.

Dates:  Ongoing

Costs:  £25 or £80 respectively

Venue:  to be advised

 

For more information on, please contact Jo Powell on 07594 795 266

Chalkhill Community Centre

113 Chalkhill Road

Wembley Middlesex HA9 9FX

Buses 83 & 182

Tubes Wembley Park & Wembley Stadium

Email papillon8@rocketmail.com

Check out our website too on http://papillonsurvivors.netai.net/

Follow us on Twitter @papillonlondon

How is Your Emotional Health? – Susan Jane Smith

WMTS:  Susan Jane Smith is graciously giving away her book, Emotional Health for Emotional Wealth to Women Move the Soul readers.   We hope you accept your free copy, read it and then visit Susan’s website to learn about the other books that she has written and learn more about yourself, heal yourself and learn how to live a more balanced life if these are things you need to add.

Thank you Susan!

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A little about Susan:

Susan Jane Smith B.Sc. was a Psychotherapist in private practice from 1987 to 2008. She has used her twenty years experience with individuals and couples to produce information that she believes will be useful to those seeking to change their lives.

Susan believes that a person’s training and experience influences their thinking so she is including her details. This will allow you to see what has shaped the ideas in her books! Professionally she was a member (number 512667) of the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy.

In 1996 she trained with the Family Mediators Association (member number FMA414) and in 1998 achieved Competency Recognition from the Legal Aid Board. Susan also became Accredited and a Professional Practice Consultant for the FMA. She was a member (number 0278) of the U.K. College of Family Mediators and a Professional Practice Consultant for the College until choosing to retire from mediation in 2001.

From 1987 to 1988 Susan studied at New Hampshire College in the U.S.A. for a Master of Science degree in Community Psychology. Her Father died one month before the end so she never did get that degree!

 

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DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE EBOOK: 

Right click on the link and choose download or click link to open.

PDF Version:  Emotional Health for Emotional Wealth – PDF

KINDLE Version:  Emotional Health for Emotional Wealth – Kindle

 

 

 

Susan’s contact information:

 

Susan Jane Smith, B.SC

Counseling in the Forest Publishing

0044-1594-810642

 

www.EmotionalHealthForEmotionalWealth.co.uk

Books that add value to your life – now live on Kindle & ebook readers!

“Hugs & Emotional Wealth Change the World”

“Pre-Marital MOT: A Relationship Inspection”

“Emotional Health for Emotional Wealth”

and the Little Book Series of Emotional Health For Emotional Wealth

 

Twitter @SusanJaneSmith

www.Goodreads.com 

You can find her on Linked In, and Google +

 www.facebook.com/EmotionalHealthForEmotionalWealth &

www.facebook.com/HealthyEmotions

 

Queen Afi’s Battle – Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags

Here is another organization to help stop and prevent domestic violence.  We are sharing the work and the life passion of Queen Afi Gaston.  We seek a time when there is no need for such organizations in our world and we thank those who work tirelessly to make that happen.

 

Photo from DMWMT
Photo from DMWMT

 

Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags (DVWMT) is an anti-domestic violence, advocacy and educational non profit organization based in Washington D.C.  DVWMT is “Pro-Active” for reaching out to the nation to educate and encourage those who are living and have lived with domestic violence. The organization works with children, teen, men and women and willing to lend a helping hand to all those in need.  Utilizing small groups, one on one session’s and offering a safe place to speak and share experiences, DVWMT is able to reach victims and abusers with the approach of being family and trusting in the process.

DVWMT has several innovative aspects that include:

A.  Inviting artists, performers, film makers, etc to share their work as it pertains to encouraging and informing victims of domestic violence. On behalf of Johnson Memorial Baptist Church we were able to bring to the community of Ward 7 the movie “Dear Daddy” A Documentary Produced by Janks Morton. This film premier brought out so many youth and young adults because it is what every young girl feels from having an absentee father.

B.  Introducing the topic of domestic violence and participating at other local and community events thereby supporting their endeavors and informing the public on domestic violence, self-abuse, and VERBAL ABUSE being the #1 Killer.

C.  DVWMT founder has a monthly radio show. The show gives DV advocates and experts an opportunity to appear as guest and give valuable information to wider audience and the opportunity for victims and abusers to call in with questions or for resources. Our talk-show is “Domestic Violence Let’s Talk About It” is reaching so many around the world, and can be found www.talkshoe.com

D. DVWMT also brings in speakers, professionals and experts whose knowledge may not necessarily be that of domestic violence but one that has a significant role in the victims and or abusers life such as, drug treatment professionals, juvenile justice, at risk youth advocates, teen pregnancy, homelessness, etc.

Here is an interview that was posted with Queen Afi:  http://www.empowernewsmag.com/

 

For more information about DVWMT, contact:

Queen Afi, Founder
Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags
FB@DomesticViolenceWearsManyTags
Twitter@ViolWearManyTag
www.DVWMTS.org
DVWMTS@Gmail.com
(202) 821-8933
“Women, Men, and Teens are Victims & Women, Men, and Teens are Abusers
DVWMT Singles Out No One From Change”

(Reprinted with permission of DVWMTS.org)

(Image of Queen Afi courtesy of www.empowermagazine.com)

 

The Sisterhood of Natural Hair – Sarah Mukibi

Sarah Mukibi, is a woman who like most of us, has diverse interests.  She is working towards a degree in psychology, works on a sexual and domestic abuse hotline and has also started her own company, Sisterhood of Natural Hair.  The reason she developed her company was very interesting and impressive because she did it in retaliation of what someone told her. 
It doesn’t matter how we get on the path to pursuing our passions and the things that are important to us, it is just important that we do.  The people we may believe to be “devils” or negative, can be perceived to be angels if we take their messages and turn them into positive things in our life. That’s what Sarah did. And, the abuse hotline work that she does is challenging, but gives her a sense of joy and fulfillment to be able to help others.
Sarah is from Maryland, USA.

sarah

 

Your hair is natural. Why do you choose to be natural?  At some point in time did you try eurocentric hairstyles and maintenance?

 

Yes, I did try eurocentric hairstyles and maintenance.  I was the weave queen at one point in my life. I would get my hair done about every two weeks – really wasting money and just damaging my beautiful hair. So one day in April 2010 I decided to just start my natural hair journey. It had been years since I was natural and I never knew from being natural came freedom. Going natural has been one of the best decisions in my life and it has empowered to do more/be more as a person. I started my journey with the “big chop” and as my hair started to grow I decided to lock it.

 

How did having natural hair empower you to do and be more as a person?

 

Well, wearing my natural hair has made me more confident. It’s not that I wasn’t confident before, but I would have never thought in my life I would wear my natural hair so proudly and would actually be doing it and loving it.  It has made me so proud of myself. It made me want to reach out to other African American women and empower them to support them in their journey with organic hair.

 

You developed a company called Sisterhood of Natural Hair.  Tell us what the thinking was the lead you to do this? 

 

One day in my sociology class my professor asked me why I wear my hair the way I do. He kept insisting that I was sisterhood-picbeing rebellious against the system and told me that I will not be able to get a good job in corporate America. This hurt me but at the same time empowered me to reach out to other African American women who may be natural or considering going natural that it is okay if you choose not to covet and conform to european standards of beauty. Sisterhood of Natural Hair is for African American women to be empowered, improve self-image and pathways for future generations to come. Through re-engineering the hair products African American Women use, we will also bring back the make-up that highlights the beauty of the African American women.

 

(WMTS Note:  We are outraged that someone (especially a professor) can be arrogant enough to tell anyone that by conforming to their own culture is considered being “rebellious against the system.”  We do not all have to try to look like white women (and please do not take this statement in an offensive manner ladies.)  We do not need other people’s approval to be who we are.  That is incredible.  Good for you Sarah for sticking to your own natural being.)

 

I see you mention upcoming hair and make-up products for African American women. When will these be available to the public?

 

Creating my own natural hair care line is something that I will be doing in the future. I will have products like shampoos, conditioner, moisturizers etc. At this moment I do not have all the logistics, but we are working on developing them.

 

Links:

 

Would you tell us a little bit about your work on the hotline sexual assault help-line?

 

Sure.  Part-time I talk to victims/survivors of sexual assault on an online hotline. This is something that I truly love to do. Every time I work I feel like I am helping someone at the time of need. My job there is to have interventions and provide resources for victims/survivors of sexual assault. We have many victims/survivors come to the hotline because it is online and anonymous (like instant messaging).   It is very hard for someone to seek help and having the ability to anonymously seek help or direction from a trained staffer can really help with someone’s fear.

 

Whether it’s reporting, providing books, self-care or seeking professional help, like a therapist, are all the helpful things we can provide someone visiting the hotline.
 

 

The majority of the people who come to this hotline are women.  But, this is something available to men also, right?

 

Yes, it is also open to men. We do get more women than men though probably because of the stereotypes associated with men in that they are supposed to be strong and to be able to protect themselves. Some are afraid or too embarrassed to seek help.

 

What about children?  Do you get children that come to the hotline?
 

 

Yes, we do get children who come on the hotline. The chatline is anonymous so visitors are not able to give us any personal identifying information, but you can tell when it is a child by how they express them self. I have to be honest, those are the hardest chats for me.  Some bring me to tears literally.

 

You say this is something that you love to do.  How did you get started and how did you come to love this work? 

 

I saw an ad online.  Something just clicked in my head and told me to apply. I believe I was hired for a reason, it’s like it was meant to be. I love it because I realize every time I work I am helping someone in need. That’s a great feeling. Also, I am a psychology major so this is in my field. I am working toward a PsyD degree to become a clinical psychologist dealing with abused individuals.

 

For privacy reasons, we cannot mention the name of the website.  But, for women out there in need of such services, they can google phrases like “help for victims of abuse,” “domestic violence hotline,” etc.  There are many places to go for help.  If you are in need of help or know of someone in need of help, please seek it.  We are all in this thing together.  If one woman is in need, then we all are   – WMTS

An Ex-Call Girl’s Experience of Relationships with Men – A Dangerous Attraction to Narcissists

 

WMTS recommends XLondon Call Girl’s blog.  She notes her actual life experiences and for those in the life in the UK, she has links where you can get help.

 

Submitted by XLondon Call Girl, UK

Written some months ago:

My boyfriend has just walked out. Before he left, he said, “Do you test me?” “No,” I replied, “I already know what you’re capable of.” I don’t know if I want to be with him or not.

I don’t know if I am capable of having a relationship with a man. A healthy relationship, that is. I know I am capable of a dysfunctional one. I’ve had many of those. It’s been over a decade since I worked as a call girl in London. In fact, it’s been thirteen years, but in all that time since, I’ve not had a healthy relationship with a man.

I don’t know if my opinion of men was formed from my feelings towards my father who was abusive when I was a child, or from the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of men from eleven years old, or from the time I worked as a call girl for a few years in my early twenties. If I go back to a poem I wrote when I was thirteen, I can see that I already thought badly of men then. A line reads, “All the men I know have been cunts to me.” Maybe it began before then, but working as a call girl certainly cemented it. Being raped and being beaten would have ingrained it in me more.

So my boyfriend, he’s a recovering addict and a twelve step counselor. He thinks the answer lies in the twelve steps and nowhere else. I disagree. He would even deny this opinion of his, but I know it to be true of him. My post traumatic stress disorder affects our relationship. It affects all my relationships negatively, and most sadly it affects the relationship I have with my children. Has he done anything to research it? No. When I had a body memory flashback, what did he do? He shouted very loudly at me, told me to stop acting like child. He was angry with me, very angry. I forgave him, because he didn’t know any better, but months on, what has he done to understand me? Nothing.

He thinks I am an addict and that’s it. It is true, I am recovering from heroin and crack addiction and alcoholism. I got clean and that’s why I stopped working as a call girl. My NA sponsor told me I would relapse on drugs or drink if I carried on working.

I am also bipolar. That’s not easy to live with either.

I think the combination of my mental illnesses coupled with my negative experience of men is making it impossible for me to have a good relationship with a man. I seem drawn to men who cannot give me what I need. Or maybe I need too much. (Realization since I wrote this post – I am attracted to narcissistic men). Maybe my expectations are too high. (Another realization – No they are not, I deserve to be loved and respected and have been in relationships with women, but as I am drawn to narcissistic men, they are incapable of love). Now I seem to be settling for something that’s not good for me. I know my boyfriend loves me (in his own sick way), but it doesn’t feel like healthy love when he gets angry with me. He’s had his hands around my neck once when he threatened me, he’s grabbed hard at my arms when he’s shouted at me sometimes, and he regular shouts reducing me to tears, and once he went to rape me, but I managed to talk him out of it. I don’t believe he will do it again, but at the time, my distorted view of love was that if he did that, he must really love me.

Recently he hasn’t been too bad. He’s stopped shouting at me so much. I get a feeling, like being too upset over something he’s done that he feels I shouldn’t be upset with, or not that upset with, and he gets angry and shouts. I know I shouldn’t accept that.

The love I am used to hurts. On some unconscious level, I recognize the unhealthy, toxic, angry stuff and something in me says, “this is love.” That is because I recognize deep within my core that abuse is love – that is what an abusive childhood instilled somewhere deep within me and which I have trouble reasoning with to recognize the actual reality – that abuse does not equal love!

It’s not love when someone makes you feel bad. It’s not love when someone hurts you. But as I type this I am shaking my head at my words. “He does love me,” a voice says. But what do I love about him? That he is most likely as damaged as me. That he recognizes my anger, blame and shaming, and a voice in his head says, “this is love.” I think that’s it. We’re both from dysfunctional families, in which we suffered abuse. The honeymoon period was bliss but short lived. We’re left, or at least, I feel I’m left in something familiar. I don’t like it but I love him.

But what do I love about him? He’s not a paedophile. I trust him as far as that goes. I don’t trust him with other women though. An hour or so after we split up a couple of months ago, he was flirting with a woman via messaging on Facebook. He denied it but she told me the truth. He even discussed me with her and didn’t mention that I had been his partner for the previous six months. Then I found that he’d done the same with another woman as well.

I don’t even expect men to be faithful, that’s what working taught me. Maybe I even knew it before then. When I was young, I could have nearly any man I wanted, married or not. That showed me not to trust men. It also showed me that I may as well get paid for it. None of them cared about me, or their wives or girlfriends. It was all meaningless. It might as well benefit me financially, as emotionally and psychologically it was killing me.

Now when my boyfriend and I have a row, I expect he’s off to tell another woman about how her hot body is making his cock hard, like he did with the last one. It’s not even that he did it; it’s that he denied it and made me feel like it was in my head. That is psychological abuse, gaslighting. I can’t forget but maybe I can forgive. But should I put up with that? Is that okay? Is it normal? You see, I don’t know what’s okay and not in relationships. I know that I expect a man to be unfaithful, cheat, and lie, so part of me says, what choice do I have? He promises not to do it again, but I don’t believe him because I know, as if it’s fact, and it probably isn’t, but my fact is that all men do this anyway.

I get upset and angry at little things. That’s the PTSD, I think. The slightest thing he won’t do for me means he doesn’t love me. If he doesn’t want to have sex with me, it means he doesn’t love me. I should say that he is the first man since I lost my virginity at fifteen years old who I’ve had sex with and not had flashbacks with (apart from that one body memory). Eye movement therapy has really helped me with that. But he withholds love. He is passive aggressive.

So can two damaged people like us make our relationship work? That is what I am asking myself now. No one is perfect. He’s not perfect. But he says he loves me. He just said he’d hold my hand and walk through anything with me. He’d walk through fire with me. He’d go anywhere but not into the past. The past is where I usually find myself stuck though. So I think, yes he’d walk anywhere with me, holding my hand, and shouting at me. If I stay in the past, he won’t come with me. Maybe I’m safer there.

See my pattern is this: as soon as someone gets close to me, I pull away. I turn myself off them. I find things about them that I don’t like and then the way I see them changes. My relationships last a couple or a few months. That is a pattern that I want to break. I am not sure whether this is the right man to break it with though. Of course, that’s what I’d be saying right now because he’s got close to me, so I want to pull away. I want to find fault, and turn myself off him.

He’s not a complete psychopath like other ex-boyfriends have been. One threatened me with a dirty needle and another time threatened to petrol bomb my house. That time, my children and I had to move back in with my parents before the police installed a domestic violence alarm in my house. He hasn’t called me names and put me down like that man did. Actually that’s not true. He has put me down and he has psychologically abused me more than any other man. With the others their abuse was obvious, overt. His is covert, and he hides behind the facade that he is helping me as a counselor. He hasn’t lived off my income, and used me financially, like that man did. Although he is extremely tight with his money and always wants to go Dutch, whereas I would prefer he pay on one occasion and I pay on the next. He hasn’t threatened to have me killed or run over. No he hasn’t done that – But update: he did make various other threats, one of which is even too sick to mention, and the carnage of this relationship has sent me into a four month period of anxiety, bipolar and PTSD, leaving me barely able to leave the house, unable to look after my children, and unable to work and now I have most likely lost my job – I am still in this episode he has triggered.

So what is it I expect? I don’t even know. I just want to be happy. I don’t want a boyfriend who shouts at me and gets angry with me, who keeps threatening to leave me, who tells me to fuck off in an argument. Or maybe that’s normal – I don’t know. See I don’t know how healthy relationships work. XLondonCallGirl, you know darling, that’s not totally true. You had an amazing relationship with a woman once, who treated you like a princess. That’s what I want – what I had with her. I felt loved, cared for, the most important person in her life, I felt heard and understood. I didn’t feel wrong. I didn’t feel not good enough. I never thought once that she might be cheating on me. I never questioned what she told me; I knew with absolute certainty that anything she said was the truth. She never raised her voice at me. She never laid a finger on me to hurt me. She was never angry with me. One argument in six months was all we had, and that was completely my fault.

This boyfriend, he gets angry the minute I have a feeling that he doesn’t like. I’ve read about this kind of relationship with a man with certain personality traits. I understand that when I have a feeling he doesn’t like, he feels responsible in some way and that brings up shame in him, and that shame makes him get angry. I can have compassion for him. He is damaged from childhood abuse like me. I can understand, not excuse him. (Update: However, I don’t need to put up with it.)

He can’t understand me though. I think I need someone who can understand me. I am not like all other women, not that all other women are the same. Of course, they are not. But women who’ve worked as prostitutes are different. We’ve seen things and experienced things, lived through things and have in our heads and memories that most other women couldn’t imagine. I think I need someone who can understand my difference and have compassion and understanding for that and love me despite it and not hold it against me all the time and use it as a weapon in arguments – arguments I do not want to have.

As much as he’s no good at this relationship, I am probably just as bad. What chance is there for someone like me to ever be in a loving and healthy relationship?

Final Update: When this man came to see me the first time, he came round to have sex with me only. What 12 step counselor with nearly twenty years clean time, comes round to see a woman who was in recovery for nine years, then relapsed on painkillers and dope, to have sex with her? It’s like having sex with a patient. When he was on his way over, I rubbed my hands together, thinking how he was just as sick as me. And I was right. The following day, I walked my dog in the woods and made a very clear, definitive decision that he was not boyfriend material, as he was a sick man. I vowed not to get in a relationship with him. I saw him a couple more times, and then I was in love. The narcissistic attraction, which I was unaware of then.

The moral for me is learning to trust my gut instinct. He is now out of my life and has been for a number of months, but the carnage he has left behind is still present.

I’ve survived much worse than this, and I will recover. I have researched what kind of women are drawn to narcissistic men. Often women who have had a parent who has been a narcissist and often women with borderline personality disorder. As well as bipolar, PTSD and OCD, I have now been diagnosed with borderline.

I think the solution might lie in SLAA meetings and also perhaps, pursuing relationships with women instead of men.

 

 

 

 

Young Panther, Ghofrane Jabloun – Wushu Champion

 

 

Ghofrane Jabloun is from Tunisia, North Africa.

Ghofrane, or Young Panther as we call her, is a martial artist and not just any martial artist – she earned the title of Kung-Fu Wushu Champion in 2008/2010 & 2011.  You would not look at this nice young lady and think that she has a serious ability to defend herself and you!  Her story tells us that when you put your mind to it, anything is possible!

 

What made you decide to learn martial arts?

I joined martial arts to be able to defend the people that I care about and anyone that might need my help someday (and for lots of other reasons that I prefer not to mention).  It’s funny but I don’t believe in violence at all and till this day I still don’t, but I learned that sometimes you need to fight fire with fire when there is no other option. But, of course you must remember that you always have a choice; you need to think before you act. Plus, you should never intentionally hurt someone.

Of all the different disciplines, why Kung Fu Wushu?

To be honest I was always attracted to it from a very young age.

How did you make your decision about that specific form?

Well, I consider it to be the best of all types martial arts, mainly because it contains all sort of different styles. Kung-fu is within everything that we do.

You mentioned you had to make sacrifices in order to train.  What kind of sacrifices did you make and was it worth it to you?

I should start by saying that my parents were against it and still are because they think it’s too violent and since I’m a girl it’s another reason why I shouldn’t be “playing.”  That made me  want it even more.

When I put something  into my mind, I do it no matter what.  I gathered money all by myself, and I was lucky to have such a wonderful teacher.  He let me train as long as I wanted.  He was simply just an amazing man, adding to that the team was amazing.  It was more than just training with them, they were my second family and we still see each other.

I enjoyed it.  It’s more than just a game or sport, it is a way of life for me and definitely worth it.

Did you actually have hand to hand combats with other students as part of your training?

Oh yeah! The first time that we got into it, it was more like a street fight. And by my luck on that day the only other girl on our team didn’t show up, so my trainer asked me if I wanted to get into this. And i said: “Bring it on!”  I had to fight one of the guys. I picked one of my friends and we started. It was normal at first but then we decided to have some fun and it became really brutal.  Our teacher was so impressed and lots of people started to pay attention to us – needless to say “best training  day ever!”

The next day, I woke up with bruises everywhere, and everyone were asking me what happened.  I was like, ” I was just messing with my friend on training !”

The following day I was waiting for my friend to show up and he didn’t make it. He showed up three days later saying :”look what you did to me!”  We end up laughing and making jokes about it as if nothing happened.  It was fun!  We both got what we deserved! lol!

You started to do competitions?

Yes.  I trained because I wanted to learn kung-fu for myself – nothing more. I didn’t go there to compete but my teacher told me that I should, so I did it for him.

What is competing like?

First time I went, I was a bit nervous, but then I got used to it. In every competition you can get injured and you never know what the other is cooking for you, so you need to expect anything at any time and never underestimate your opponent.

What did you have to do to earn the championship title?

I needed to be the best, so I used to train for hours. Sometimes I could start at 2 pm and finish up at 9 pm without having any rest whatsoever.  Then waking up early in the morning so I could go for a run and still have time to train when I got home.

Does knowing martial arts give you more confidence?
It definitely does.  It kills your fears, and it frees you in a way. You can feel in control and that no one really can get to you – well, not easily.

How about knowing that you have the ability to defend yourself against an attacker?
It makes me more relieved to know that if someone were to attack me, it wouldn’t be as easy as they think it would be for them. At least I would be able to fight back and have a chance to win and possibly beat the crap out of them. I can walk anywhere I want at any time because I am not afraid to be in such a situation. I would advise people who got attacked before, abused or raped, to take at least a couple of classes.  It will make you feel more safe and conformable and you’ll be able to have that confidence in yourself again to do what you like and you’ll stop being afraid.

 

There is a big difference between learning martial arts and self defense.   Could you describe what you think the differences are and how you think a woman should determine which she would rather learn?

I would advise you to go for martial arts because it has both – but that’s just me.  You should choose whatever makes you feel more comfortable. At the end you’re just trying to learn how to protect yourself from possible situations where you must use these techniques. Just make sure that you like what you’re learning.

Seeking Afromation – Walking In Her Shoes

New to the world of naturalists, I must admit that I have good days and bad.  My BC or big chop was Oct 7, 2011.  My hair type is 4c (for those who type hair) with only about 50%  curl pattern.  My hair is very tightly coiled and dry which requires daily moisturizing (some days multiple times).  I’m still learning my natural hair and I’m very much a product junky.  My hair routine consist of co-washing multiple times a week and shampooing every 2-4 weeks depending on the amount and types of products I’ve used.

I loved my TWA (teeny weeny afro), however, my afro is now in that in-between stage. And don’t get me wrong, I still love my curls—some days they don’t love me.  Nevertheless, I know that if I stick it out, I will be pleased.  So when I’m weak and the temptation of the creamy crack (relaxer) is strong, I cope by looking to other naturalists for inspiration and remind myself that they were once “here” in the awkward phase. Why did I choose to go natural? Everyone’s natural hair journey is different.  My journey is being utilized as a tool for symbolizing new beginnings and transformation—Afromation.

As a victim of domestic violence, my life and actions were controlled by fear based on past events.  Not acknowledging my experience had eaten away at the core of who I was & wanted to be. I learned how to hide my experience behind fake smiles and by never dealing with my feelings and pain. That was until my brother passed some eighteen years later and all those previous feelings, memories, and emotions came flooding back. My brother’s death was the point that brought me to my knees. It opened my eyes, mind, heart and soul to all those locked away feelings which could no longer be hidden.

To help deal with the pain from my past, I started counseling and was diagnosed with PTSD.  I began to write as a secondary form of therapy in addition to counseling.  My writings became a big part of the revelations guiding my healing process.  I feel it is now my mission to share my writings with others to provide them encouragement and to let them know that there is a light. I recently released a self-published book titled,Walking in Her Shoes. Additionally, to complete my afromation, I cut off my chemically treated hair.

However, my  afromation is deeper than hair; it’s affirmation of self-seeking deeper understanding of how to regain control of my life. Understanding how I got to the here-and-now and where I’m going. Understanding the stripped down, naked version of my previous self, before domestic violence. A time in which I was completely honest and open with my feelings, emotions. Understanding how to become the person I want to be—not hiding behind the image of who other people think I should be — simple, naturally me.
Seeking Afromation

—————————————–

Initially when this article was published, I thought that my purpose was to sell the book. During the publishing of the article (I also created a Facebook page) I realized that my purpose would be more effective as an advocate of spreading awareness and decreasing the feeling of loneliness among DV victims.

Shortly after creating the page, a young woman shared her feelings/contemplation of suicide. After a few followers shared words of encouragement and inspiration, they were able to talk her down. She thanked me for creating the page and opening up about my experience. I was able to touch one!
I want to find a way to help the DV community– even if it’s just one person at a time, sharing information. I want to help myself, I’m still going through a lot. It’s amazing how something that has been ignored or not dealt with can come back years later and cause so much havoc in one’s life.

To buy the book Afromation’s book, which is a collection of poetry,  click here.

 

To join the group on facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/SeekingAfromation

Follow on Tritter:   @S_Afromation

 

The Most Delicious Cookies in the Whole World: A Story of Domestic Violence

 

Submitted by Laura Strom

 

“That’s the biggest cookie I’ve ever seen!” I was watching the most beautiful Korean woman in the whole world pull the tray from the oven. The cookies were so big, there were only four on the tray. The smell was intoxicating, and filled the whole house. After playing in the yard her two sons, my brother and I had gone into the kitchen right as Oksoon was bringing the first batch out of the oven.

Just a moment later, I was holding a warm chocolate-chip oatmeal cookie on a napkin in my two hands. It was far too big for only one hand, and much too precious to take a chance any part of it might wind up on the floor. We sat at the kitchen table and slowly ate The Most Delicious Cookies in the Whole World. I appreciated how the soft, warm cookie edges lifted up longingly as I removed small pieces, savoring each. This was before the era of shopping mall cookie stores with their giant cookies, but even those could never compare to this heavenly, homemade treat.

At our house, we made cookies, but in respectable sizes – maybe 10-12 on a tray. Four cookies on a single tray seemed outlandish, outrageous, luxurious. It was a new concept for me – giant cookies that tasted better than anything else in the world. Another was meeting a Korean person for the first time, and finding out she made what seemed to me to be American cookies that were beyond outstanding. Aren’t chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies American food, and how does a Korean woman know how to make the best I’ve ever tasted? These were the thoughts running through my young mind.

I had seen dolls with painted Asian faces in stores, but they were nothing like Oksoon. She was a small woman, just a little over five feet tall. Her makeup was perfect, and her hair looked beautiful in a stylish beehive. She was wearing a pretty dress, nylon stockings, high heels, and an apron. She was smiling and laughing, and telling us in her broken English to sit down at the table and eat. She was an absolutely stunning beauty.

Oksoon, Photo Credit E.ThomasStrom

I grew up in Texas and Oksoon was my introduction to Korea. As an adult I learned she was a Korean military war bride, having married an American G.I. My mother was volunteering to help teach adults to read that summer, and Oksoon was her student. They struck up a lasting friendship. Oksoon’s goal was to become an American citizen.

In order to be a citizen, a person needs to know a lot of things as part of the citizenship test. The test consists of 100 questions, including some specific to each state. During the exam, the candidate will be asked ten questions randomly from the list and must get 6 out of 10 correct to pass. Some of the questions are quite tricky. For example, do you know what the two longest rivers in America are? Can you name the wars fought in the 1800s? How about the names of your representatives? If you want to try your hand at a sample test for fun, here’s a link. We were all so proud the day Oksoon earned her citizenship. My mother gave her an engraved silver platter to commemorate the occasion.

As a thank-you Oksoon asked our family to join hers for traditional Korean food prepared by her. We ate in the formal dining room, and she fried the egg rolls at the table. These egg rolls were huge, perhaps the size of a small burrito, and to this day, I have never had an egg roll anything like what she prepared. There were many exotic dishes to try; Oksoon was a wonderful cook.

When I was twelve, Oksoon introduced me to something completely new – domestic violence. My mother and I had gone to visit her at work. She worked in a Wyatt’s Cafeteria, cleaning tables. She showed me her foot which was swollen, bruised and purple. She was wearing a slipper because it wouldn’t fit in a shoe. She said her husband had stomped it with his motorcycle boots because he was angry with her. Her face was puffy from crying, and she cried while she talked to us. She no longer looked like the beautiful woman I first met. Instead she looked sad, afraid, unhappy, desperate and hopeless. Her family was back in Korea, and she had only her few friends to help. She worked a lot to help take care of the family, and didn’t have time for a big social network. She considered my mother to be her best friend, and really had no one else.

Domestic violence crosses all ethnic boundaries and ages. The Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.” The Domestic Violence Resource Center says that 1 out of 4 women has experienced domestic violence, and three-quarters of Americans personally know someone who has been a victim of it. The National Organization for Women states that three women per day are murdered by an intimate partner.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline phone number for victims of domestic violence is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).  The State of California provides a domestic violence resource directory by county which gives a list of local agencies that can help a battering victim and their children.

In San Mateo County, Communities Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA) serves domestic violence survivors. The website states, “We provide free and confidential emergency, intervention and prevention services, including the county’s only emergency shelter and transitional housing for victims/survivors and services in Spanish, English and Tagalog.” The toll free 24-hour hotline is 800-300-1080.

My mother and father helped Oksoon escape from her violent marriage along with her two sons. Within a year or so she met a wonderful older man, and married him in a service in our living room. My mother was her matron-of-honor. It was a joyful time. She and her new husband spent holidays with us, and we often shared Sunday dinners with them. Oksoon enjoyed a life she had never experienced with her new husband, a widower, who absolutely adored her, just as she attempted to spoil him rotten. They were a cute couple.

When I was 17 years old, Oksoon and her new husband were murdered by her former husband and

Oksoon’s wedding in the author’s home
The author, Oksoon, and the author’s mother at Oksoon’s wedding, circa 1975 Photo Credit E.ThomasStrom

his new wife. The lovely Korean beauty, who smiled and laughed, was a wonderful cook, and made the world’s best cookies, was suddenly and horribly gone leaving a terrible, empty, scary hole in all our lives. Murder creates a unique kind of wound.

My parents attempted to get custody of her two children, which was both Oksoon and the murderer’s wish. Her sons lived with us for six months and my parents spent thousands of dollars of their own money on attorneys and taking the kids to therapy. But the Texas courts placed the children in the custody of the murderer’s family – the place that spawned this sociopath.

While Oksoon’s story is really tragic, over time I have learned to focus on the ways I loved her and she created magic my life. To rave reviews I have prepared her cookies many times for my children, family and friends. I’ve never managed to learn how to transfer a 6-inch cookie from a tray, so alas, mine are normal-sized, about nine to a cookie sheet. Actually, that’s still pretty big.

I would like to share the recipe of The Most Delicious Cookies in the Whole World. I can imagine Oksoon’s beautiful, broad smile right now thinking her cookies continue to delight others, especially children.

Oksoon’s Super Delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mix well:

1 c. white sugar

1 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

2 sticks margarine or butter

Add:

1 t. vanilla

Sift together and add:

1 1/2 c. flour

1 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

Add:

3 c. dry oatmeal

1 1/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Optional 1 c. pecans

Bake on ungreased sheets

350 degrees, 10-15 minutes

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Reposted with permission from Laura Strom http://halfmoonbay.patch.com

Misty’s Story

 

We don’t think the following story needs any introduction… 

 

Submitted by Misty Frith

“Awaken at 5:30 in the morning to the screams of my two girls. I run down the hallway as quick as I can. I had an 8 inch incision across my abdomen from a major surgery a week prior. There was my boyfriend swinging my oldest daughter around by her hair. She was 13. My youngest was hitting him yelling for him to stop. He kept pushing her away, knocking her down. She kept getting back up trying to help her sister. She was 7. I began screaming at him to stop and trying to pull him away from her. He threw Ashley into the wall and began hitting me. He threw me to the floor and began kicking me. Before I knew it he was sitting on me choking me. I was yelling for my girls to get out of the house and get help. I wanted them as far away from him as I could get them at this point. I could tell this was going to be one of the worse beatings ever. But my girls wouldn’t leave me. They were screaming for him to stop. Both hitting him as hard as they could trying to pull him off of me. Ashley jumped on his back, wrapped her arms around his neck and began choking him while Serena kept hitting him with her tiny little fists. I don’t know how long this went on but it seemed like hours. Then he just finally quit. He walked out of the room and went to bed. That was it. I knew we had to get out. We got dressed, I sent the girls to the car while I got my keys and purse. He heard me and took off running out the door. By the time I could get to the car he had Ashley pinned in the back seat hitting her over and over in the back. Poor Serena was just standing outside the car screaming. I began hitting him and pulling at him trying to get him out of the car. As he came out of the car he punched me right in the face hitting my nose. Blood went everywhere. He looked at me and laughed and walked in the house. That’s the day we left for good.”

 

Misty and her daughters

My name is Misty Frith. I have two beautiful daughters. Ashley who is now 18 and Serena who is 12. The incident you just read was about us. We have suffered and survived almost ten years of domestic violence. I want to help motivate and inspire other victims to move beyond this type of abuse. I want them to understand that there is a way out and that you are not alone. You are not the only one that this happens too. It is happening to many many others and we all need to stand together to help end this horrible abuse.

My life of abuse began just a few months after meeting my abuser. My daughter Ashley was four and we found out I was pregnant. The first few times that my abuser yelled, pushed slapped he was fast to apologize and tell me how rough his life was as a child. He would tell me many times that he was so sorry and that it would never happen again. I felt sorry for him for having a rough child hood and so I forgave him. I told myself over and over that he was sorry and that he loved me and it would never happen again. Then it seemed things started happening more often and becoming more severe. During this time he began making me feel like it was all my fault. He would say things to me like if you would just listen this would not happen, or you just make me so mad sometimes that I cannot control myself. I began blaming myself. I tried to do better and make him happy and make him love me. In my mind I thought if I just did what he said then he would love me more and the abuse would stop. As the beatings began getting worse I wanted to leave but he began threatening to kill me and my girls if I ever left him. I was scared. He threatened to harm my sisters, my parents. I felt like I had lost control of everything and there was nothing I could do but stay with him so that everyone else would be safe. He also threatened to have his brothers come rape and kill me and my girls if I ever put him in jail. I was terrified. Then I started to become angry. Angry at him, angry at the world and sick of being hit, yelled at and controlled. The more angry that I became the more I resented him. I went back to school to get my Associates in Applied Science and went to paramedic school. I refused to do anything he told me and I began to fight back when he would start hitting me. I always got beat up but at least I felt like I was standing up for myself and my girls. My mind began to get stronger even though my body was getting weaker due to the beatings. The day we left him all we had was the clothes we had on and my car. We went through the roller coaster of the courts and a ridiculous plea bargain that was made. But in the end the girls and I getting away from him was the best thing in the world for us. We have found happiness and no more yelling, screaming, fighting, beatings. We fought hard to get to where we are today but it was well worth it.

I have taken our experience and with my girls, we are turning it into something good for others. I have written a book, “Diary of Abuse No Justice” in hopes of helping many others. The book helps explain that domestic violence effects many more than just the abuser and the victim. I put my emotions and my daughters’ emotions in the book. Our thoughts, our hopes, our wishes, our dreams and our life once we got away from him. I talk about what happens once law enforcement has been contacted and what my girls and I went through with the police, deputies, judges, lawyers and county attorneys.

The book is meant to help many people. First of all the victim, so that they will understand that they are not the only ones going through it and that the thoughts they have are not crazy, they are typical for someone that is going through Domestic Violence.

It’s for the abusers to make them understand what they are doing is wrong, and that their actions are changing someone else’s life forever and that is not right.

It’s for the families of victims to help them for one, to spot abuse, and for two, better ways to help them than to just expect them to walk away because it is not that easy.

It’s for law enforcement to help them understand what a victim is going through and better ways to approach the whole situation.

It’s for judges, lawyers, and county attorneys to help them understand the suffering that the victim is going through not only with the abuser but also with the court system.

It’s for Domestic Violence Advocates, to help them better help victims. Most of all it is to help everyone. Because domestic violence hurts everyone involved in that one victims life.

As a victim you can do this. You can get out. You can save yourself  and become truly happy. As an abuser, you can stop this. You can end causing pain to someone else. You can take responsibility for you own actions. You too can become truly happy by making the right choices. As a family member of someone being in an abusive relationship you can learn ways to help other victims. As law enforcement you can learn new techniques and ways to word things to help convince victims that they deserve better. Judges, lawyers, and county attorneys you can help punish those who break these laws to the highest extent. You can give victims their rights back and their feeling of safety. Advocates the job you do is truly amazing and it can give you even more ideas on how to help victims. This book, “Diary of Abuse No Justice” can help our society as a whole to better understand Domestic Violence and better ways to end it.




 

 

 

 

Here are a few more excerpts:

August 2000
Roger called me at work tonight and told me **** and his girlfriend are spending the night. I said no they are not, Serena is there, and I don’t want them there and I get off at 2:00 and have to be back at 10:00 am. I told him to make them leave. Couldn’t even put my car in the garage because theirs was in it. Roger came out the door screaming at me to shut the fucking garage door now. He dragged me into the house screaming at me. Him and **** and *** girlfriend told me to sit down and shut up. I tried to get to the phone, I had had enough but Roger pulled out a gun and put it to my head and told me to shut the fuck up or he would put a bullet through my head. I just sat there. Was he going to kill me, what was going on, why were *** and his girlfriend staying in my house, they had their own? Thank god Ashley was at my friends, but Serena was in her bed. Roger told me to go to bed and keep my mouth shut. I did.

I awoke at 6:00 in the morning to a pounding on my door. I was trying to answer it and Roger and *** were yelling at me to not open it. I opened it anyways. What the hell is going on. Who the hell knocks on someone’s door like that this early in the morning.

As I opened the door someone grabbed me and jerked me out the door. I started screaming and trying to pull away when I realized it was a cop. There were cops everywhere, in the front, in the back, in the bushes, in the street. Cop cars were lining the whole block. They had guns out everywhere, pointed at me, and at the windows on my house. I had gotten myself back in front of the door where they couldn’t get in and I was screaming for them to stop it, stop pointing those guns at my house, my baby was inside and she was only a couple months old. The cop that pulled me out promised to bring me Serena, but was looking for ****. They got *** and his girlfriend handcuffed and brought me Serena. It turned out *** and his girlfriend had robbed a convenient store that night before and shot at people. Roger knew this but after everyone left while he was beating me, for opening the door and letting them in, he informed me that family sticks together. My life is spiraling out of control and I cant stop it. I have to get my girls and I out of this. He will never change? Will he?

September 2000
I made the mistake today talking to Roger about getting a job. It ended in me having a black eye and several kicks to my upper leg. It hurts to walk or bend down. There is a bruise the size of a baseball. Will I ever go a week without a bruise on my body? I can’t keep doing this.

**** confronted me today at work. He knows what’s going on. He said he can see it on my face and in my eyes, and in the bruises that he can see on my arms. He said no one runs into things that often, I told him a lot of what’s going on but I made him promise not to say anything and begged him not to confront Roger. Dear God please let him keep his promise. If he doesn’t the girls and I are dead.

Roger told me today we are going to get his mother from Virginia this weekend. She is going to live with us. Oh no not more of his family in my house, on the other hand, it’s his mom, maybe it will be better. Surely he wont scream and cuss and hit me while she’s there. Well we are in Virginia picking up his mom and the trip is not going well so far. We stopped to eat and some guy was staring at me. Before I could get in the car he slammed my head off the car so hard I nearly passed out. He started yelling at me telling me if I didn’t look like such a slut people wouldn’t stare. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but I didn’t argue with him I just kept saying I’m sorry I will change. Once I got in the car I felt very light headed and my head was hurting so bad. I was trying to get some aspirin out of my purse, when he threw his pop in my face and said use that to wash off some of that make-up you whore. Please God  let someone see what he’s doing to me. Please someone call the police. Once in Virginia things got worse. I was so tired when we got there I was trying to get the girls out of the car and inside and I locked the keys in my car. His brother spent 45 minutes getting the car unlocked. Once it was just Roger and I, he slapped me and started accusing me of sleeping with his brother. That was the first time I had even met his brother. He told me if I spoke to his brother again he would slit my throat. I spent the next few days in silence. Did I look at his brother wrong? Was it my fault? I will just try and be quite and that will make the trip easier.

October 2000
He’s been nice while his mom has been here. He helps cook and clean. He still won’t let me take the car myself, he drives me to and from work. There has been no yelling for a few days, its so nice. As I was coming out of work tonight one of the guys threw a cup out the window and hit me with it just joking around. I started laughing at him and got in the car. I knew as soon as I saw Roger’s face I had just messed up. He started yelling at me and asking me how long I had been screwing my co-worker. I was trying to explain to him he was just a friend, someone I worked with. He grabbed the back of my head by my hair and slammed my face off the dash. He continued jerking my head around while he drove. We got about five miles out of town and he pulled over. He got out of the car walked around to my side opened the door and pulled me out by my hair. He yelled at me and then threw me to the ground. He got back in the car and left me there. It was two in the morning, 17 degrees and I had on short sleeves and no coat. I walked five miles back to town and called him and begged him to come get me. He kept hanging up on me. I was outside a motel on the outskirts of town I set and waited until 6:00 am. Call the police Misty. You cant keep doing this. He has Serena and Ashley and his mom what if he hurts one of them when the police pull up. God help me please tell me what to do.

November 2000
Went grocery shopping at Wal-mart today. Roger got upset with me because I kept telling him I didn’t have the money for everything he wanted. God does he not realize how hard it is to make it on one income. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it until my finger snapped it hurt so bad I wanted to scream! He said have a fun walk home you selfish bitch, and he left. Please don’t let him leave me here. Its thirty miles to the house, please I don’t want to have to call someone for a ride. When I got out to the parking lot he was gone. I called the house about thirty minutes later, he answered. I begged him to come pick me up but he refused. He said I could walk, maybe my fat ass would lose some weight on the way home. I called *** and ask him to please come get me from Wal-Mart. I was trying not to cry but he knew something was wrong and he came right away. We talked on our way to the house and **** was furious. I begged him not to go in the house after Roger, it wasn’t going to help. He kept telling me over and over you have to get out of this, he is going to kill you. He told me people cared about you, don’t let him do this. I knew people cared I just didn’t want them brought into any of this. He is so mean. I don’t want him hurting the people I care about. I walked in the door he started yelling, punched me in the face so hard it knocked me down. He sat on me and began choking me and accusing me of sleeping with *** before he brought me home. His mom started screaming at him to get off me. He got up and went and watched TV like nothing happened.

 

Misty and her now happy family

We do provide the service of speaking on  domestic violence. Some of the topics we have covered:

Domestic Violence for Advocates
Domestic Violence for Families
Domestic Violence and Employment
Domestic Violence for Law Enforcement
Domestic Violence for Court Employees
Domestic Violence for Victims
We can personalize presentations for your needs.

Contact me for booking a presentation
Misty Frith
Mistymar2002@gmail.com

Domestic Violence affects many more people than just the victim. It affects everyone the victim comes into contact with. It takes their confidence, which affects their jobs and employers. It affects their children. It affects schooling, which affects teachers. It affects whole families, in household and out of household. It even affects strangers, because the victims don’t know how to react around them. Domestic Violence affects everyone.  It If we all stand together against abuse we can make a positive change for victims.

Sincerely,

Misty Frith
Domestic Violence Survivor/ Author/ Speaker




Find Help and Hope for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

Did you know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month?

The article below was reposted from blog.USA.gov.

 

Intimate partner violence or abuse, often referred to as domestic violence, can be any physical, emotional, sexual or psychological action that one person uses to gain power or control over another.

Anyone, anywhere, regardless of age, race or gender, can be affected by intimate partner violence, and it is important to know the resources available to get help if or when you might need it.

That’s why October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One in three women will experience intimate partner or domestic violence in their lifetime. Young people ages 16-24 are most likely to experience intimate partner violence.

Though it can be difficult to come forward when someone you care about is hurting you or a loved one, having the right resources available can help and provide hope.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, you can call the toll-free hotline anytime at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health offers additional free resources to anyone facing intimate partner violence. You’ll find help hotlines where you can speak to a counselor 24/7, steps to take to get to safety if you’ve been a victim of assault, information on date rape drugs and much more.

Find help if you or someone you know is facing intimate partner violence and download these free resources to share with those in need.

Holiday Stress Adds to Domestic Abuse

by Olivia Grace Ward

 

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net//view_photog.php?photogid=809

Holidays are a happy time of year. Christmas lights beam through windows, roaring fires warm the soul. It is a time for peace. A time for new beginnings.

For many, however, that isn’t the feeling they carry in their hearts. Stress levels often rise during this time of year. Worrying about money and time with family members who may not get along well combined with more traffic, longer wait times at stores and banks, and everything else contributes to irritability.

When stress levels climb, the abuser is more likely to feel provoked quicker. Even the calmest of people may have a quicker temper, but they can deal with it. They may be more irritable, such as is the case with me, get tired quicker, avoid stores at busy hours, or take long naps and block out the world for awhile. For others, they have not learned to do that and strike out.

Women and children who have been abused in the past are affected deeply during the holidays. Christmas and the new year are times to reminisce, regroup, and look ahead, but for so many of us, it brings back painful memories.

A dear friend of mine was a victim of physical abuse as a child. She recently admitted to me she hates the holidays, not because of the stress, crowds, or financial strains, but because of the memories of abuse that can not be stopped.

As a young girl, my friend spent Christmas Eve in fear. She was expected to be prim and proper, polite, and acting like an adult, even though she was only ten. Any defect from the qualities her father expected of her was met with a lashing across the legs, or worse. For her, it went above being thankful and using good manners, it was about perfection.

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net//view_photog.php?photogid=2664

She remembers vividly the year she was nine years old. She received the exact baby doll she had been wanting for months as a gift from her grandmother. In her exuberance, she jumped up from the couch, ran to her grandmother, hugged her hard, and said thank you over and over. Her father glared at her with malice instead of being thrilled to see his little girl happy at Christmas. Nothing was said and the evening continued. She still remembers the tension in the air.

Later that night, after the rest of the family left, her father beat her.

Throughout the years my friend learned to control the memories and keep them hidden. Slowly she learned to look forward to Christmas with childlike wonder she never had been able to express. Six years ago she met the man of her dreams. After her father’s abuse, she moved slowly, afraid to commit and afraid of the future. Three years later she believed him to be a gentle and caring man who would never raise a hand at her in anger. She was wrong.

Their first Christmas together was everything she wanted. They hung lights, decorated the home, shopped arm in arm. It was perfect, until Christmas Eve when he opened his gift.

She had saved a portion of her income each week for six months to purchase him a set of golf clubs. He loved to play and had a old set his father had left them. After a golf outing, he would complain his score wasn’t up to par because of the clubs. She couldn’t wait to treat him to a new, top of the line set.

“How dare you spend this money! This is too much. If you were going to spend this much, you could have at least bought a decent set instead of this piece of ****.” Her heart was broken by his words and she began crying. Instead of apologizing or consoling her, he picked up a club and threw it at her, missing her head by a mere two inches. Christmas morning, a time she had planned on spending with her husband and family, she packed everything she owned and moved in with a friend.

This is just one story. Many more women and children deal with abuse each day. For many, even if the abuse is in the past, their memories live on to destroy hope, peace, and love. If you know someone who has been abused, reach out to them during the holidays. Give them an extra kind word, a helping hand, or an encouraging hug. Take them out to lunch. Listen to them talk. Be there for them. Show them good does still exist and they can heal. Help them build new, wonderful memories of a Merry Christmas.

With each of us linking arms and hearts, even if only virtually, we can build a strong foundation that will stand against the harsh storm of abuse. Remembering those who are no longer with us due to domestic violence keeps their voice strong. Together, we can make the holidays a better time and take the power away from the abusers. Who’s with me? Are you ready to take a stand? It doesn’t have to be huge, and doesn’t even have to be public. Remember, a kind word to others and to yourself is the first step in winning. Let’s make this a new year worth remembering!

Through the Fire – Chileshe Mumbi

Chileshe Mumbi is a woman who has come through the fire – literally.  Instead of the usual Q&A, we will let her tell her story her way.   We never know how strong we can be until we have no choice but to be strong.   Chileshe, thank you for sharing your story of strength and inspiration.

Chileshe lives in Zambia with her son.


On December 19th 2009, around 9:00 am, which was an hour after I left home for work, I received a phone call from my next door neighbor that my house was on fire.  I got confused.  I didn’t know where to go.  The company I used to work for had a driver take me home.  By the time I got home, the entire house was in ashes and everything in it, including my legal documents like the birth certificate for my son who was just 1 1/2, all my school certificates and diplomas were gone.  Everything was gone.  All we had literally, were the clothes on our backs – my son and I.

 

I asked the maid who watched my son in my home what happened and she remained ignorant about everything.  She said she was outside and came back in to get something from the bedroom and the bedroom was on fire.  She called for rescue but by the time they arrived,  the whole  house was in engulfed in flames.

 

Life became rough and tough especially given the fact that I am a single mom.  I had no one to run to for help except my relatives.  They didn’t give much help apart from comforting words.  I cried without stopping as I tried to figure out how I would feed my baby and how I would dress him.  A few people donated some clothes and gave me money to buy food and clothes for my son and myself.

 

I lost totally everything and I had to get leave from work, as I needed much time to settle the whole thing.  My then employers only gave me 10 days leave.  I felt this was not enough time for me to start life over again.  They gave me a loan of 4,000,000 zambian kwacha which is 800 US dollars.  The money I was given seemed not to be enough, as I was confused and didn’t know what to buy first.  But I thank God for giving me the wisdom and the strength.  I bought a few clothes for Emmanuel (my son) and myself.

 

My dear friends, loosing everything you have in life is something that is more or less compared to losing your loved one.  After what I went through, I have learned that in life you have to remain focused regardless of what is going on.  I am a very positive, hard working person and I always believe in myself.  Through determination, hard work and with GOD I was able to pull through this situation.

 

During my leave I developed a very serious high blood pressure condition.  The doctors said if I was not going to get over what was going on I may just collapse and die.  So I had to control my thinking.  Believe me it was not an easy road.  What made it even worse was that my then employers used to pay our salaries very late.   Sometimes we would go for 3 months without getting paid and all that made my life and stay very difficult.

 

I was also in the process of looking for a better job.  And though much was going on during this whole situation, I told myself never to give up on the job search.  I kept looking for jobs all over the country.   I sent applications to almost each and every job advertisement I came across if it sounded similar to my qualifications and experience.

 

Finally on 23rd of April 2010 I received a phone call inviting me for an interview which was held on the 26th of April.  I told myself this is the time for me to move on with my life.  Luckily, on the same date as the interview I was sent to Lusaka (the capital city of Zambia) for training and that is where the interview was held.   So I had an opportunity to attend both the training and interview.

 

The 26th of April finally came and I interviewed for the position, but was told it was very competitive.  I understand though that things happen in God’s time and no one can change that.   Two days later after my interview I received another phone call to say I was the successful candidate and I was offered the position of Project Administrator.  It was in Chom town, which is the southern part Zambia.  I was so excited, I cried and I prayed to God like no man’s business for the wonderful opportunity that came forth.

 

Since I had to relocate from the northern to the southern part, the company that offered me the job graciously paid for my moving costs.  That made the move so much easier for me.

 

Right now my son and I are happy.  I have managed to buy a piece of land where I want to start building a house and my son will be starting his pre-grade next January.

The Whisper of Subtle Abuse – How to Recognize the Signs

Domestic Abuse. When you hear those words what do you think? Beating? Brutality? Being thrown across the room? Black eyes and broken bones? GPS system added on your vehicle so spouse can keep tabs on you, or a spouse keeping track of your mileage? The words domestic abuse conjure different visions for each of us.

Abuse isn’t always what meets the eye. It is often subtle, so subtle the victim may not even realize they are being abused. It is a silent killer – not of the human body, but of the human soul, heart, and mind. It strips one down to nothing, a little piece at a time. It is a mind game, and if we are not aware and do not stop it, it destroys.

All relationships have rough patches. There is nothing wrong with your partner checking on you if you are an hour late. In fact, that is often sweet because it shows concern. It is important to share trust in a relationship; therefore, calling to say, “Hey, I’m going out for awhile and I will be late,” is essential. When a friendship causes a partner concern, whether concerns about cheating, bad influences, or making poor decisions, your partner has the right to discuss those with you, and you have the responsibility to listen. This is not abuse, but the ups and downs nuances of relationships. Abuse goes much deeper.

The subtle abuse often starts as concern and in the beginning, we may be flattered. When my husband and I began getting serious, I loved that he cared enough about me to want to know where I was all the time and wanted to spend all our free time together. I had come through a rough marriage and had been lonely and felt abandoned, so for a man to want my attention was a high. I loved that he sent me texts all day, and called at least once an hour. I was wanted and that was all that mattered. It never occurred to me I was being controlled. In fact, I felt more like myself than ever, because I was important to someone.

Over the last year, I have opened my eyes and see the obvious. I was abused. Some will shake their head and think I am overreacting. That’s okay. They aren’t involved in my daily, personal life and have a right to their own opinion. Some, however, will say it is about time I see things clearly. Their opinions no longer matter, either way. My opinion, my safety, my well-being, my emotional status, and my children’s comfort is what is important and what I will fight for.

Below are some signs of abuse. You may recognize a few in your own life, or have more to add. All our situations are different, just as no relationship is written in black and white.

  • Calling repeatedly – There have been days I could not get my house clean for answering phone calls and texts. A call or two through the day to say hello is great. Consistent calling is not.
  • Getting upset when a text or call isn’t answered immediately – If I left my phone in the other room and did not answer immediately, I received the third degree. “Who were you talking to?” “What were you doing?” “Why didn’t you answer?” There is nothing wrong with needing a little space or being busy. Do not accept this behavior.
  • Calling or texting within fifteen minutes of you leaving – I went to WalMart one night with my kids. I had barely started shopping when I received a call asking what aisle I was on, what I was looking at, etc. This, my friends, is control!
  • Not wanting you to go out with friends – Even if they do not say no, their body language, expressions, and questions says it loud enough to be clear. Ladies, you have a right, and a need, to go out from time to time. Your partner should and must understand this basic need.
  • Constantly telling you what you do wrong – “Don’t put salt in that.” “Why are you using that pan?” “Why did you park here? There is a space over there?” The list goes on and on. And yes, I have been asked all these questions, which is why for the last five years I have not cooked!
  • Being prevented from doing what you need to do– My ex never once told me I could NOT do something, but he sure pushed me about it without coming right out and saying it. For example, if I was cleaning, he would turn on the television and ask me to watch a movie. I could have said no, but his commanding demeanor had me controlled and I did as he requested. This is wrong! It was a mind game, even if he didn’t see he was doing it.

Theresa Vare – Mommy, Time To Do Your Homework!

Many of us who do not have a college degree and/or are not in our ideal dream job want to get there.

It’s about having the courage to:

1. Believe in yourself and your vision
2. Take the action to get there
3.  Not give up.
Theresa Vare has volunteered to work with women who have been abused.  Currently a single mom of two and a full-time manager at a store, she recently took the steps to make her dream a reality.  Though time is a factor for her busy life, she enrolled in school on-line to obtain her degree in psychology so that she can make a transition to work with abused women full-time.

 

Theresa, first question, what compels you to work with battered women?

I was in a bad relationship with my children’s father for thirteen years.  I was lucky and able to get myself out of that situation.   I know what battered women go through and what they feel like.  They are afraid and they need people who can relate to what they are going through so they can be helped.  I have a strong desire to help women get out of and change these circumstances.

 

What are some of the circumstances that these women have been through?

Some of these woman are told that everything bad is their fault and they believe it.  Most of them are told they are nothing without their abusive partner. They are told that no one will believe them if they complain or speak out about the abuse. Some of them are beaten badly and abuse can range from name calling to various levels of beatings to a black eye, broken jaw, the point of near death or even death.

These women are part of an extremely dysfunctional belief system where they are completely dis-empowered to do anything about improving their lives.  They are convinced that they are the cause of their own abuse and there is nothing that can be done to change it.

 

What about the children – if a woman has children?  What is the impact on them?  
Children are severely impacted.  They see and experience their mothers being beaten and their fathers or the male figure making sure they know that their mother is at fault and deserves what happens to her.  Their responses can range from them trying to harm the abuser to protect their mothers, becoming abusers themselves, being abused or not wanting anything at all to do with any type of violence.  The emotional impact is severe.

 

Currently you do volunteer in different capacities.  Tell us about some of the work that you do.
I do not volunteer in an official capacity.  People know that I am available to talk.  I still have a lot of healing to do for myself.

 

If you don’t, who will?  Are there many other volunteers doing the same kind of work?
There many many caring people who try to help.  When I was trying to get help, I realized that most of these caring people could not directly relate to my experience.  They hadn’t been where I was.  So, I was left feeling that they couldn’t possibly understand where I was coming from beyond a superficial level and I truly wanted to work with someone who could identify with and knew my pain.  That’s all the more reason why I want to be in a position to help abused women.  I can directly relate to them.  I am them.

 

How would someone get started if they were interested in helping?
I chose to get a degree in psychology so that I will be better equipped to help.  Education and training is key.  So, school is a good starting point.  Beyond that, if you call 211, the operators there are extremely helpful and can give additional information and point people in the right directions.

 

What are some of the other needs that battered women have?

They vary.  Some need someone just to talk to; some may be in perilous situations and need a place to live immediately.  But – all need emotional support and someone on the outside of their situation to give them a realistic view.  If a person is sick emotionally and mentally and the only person they talk to is themself, then they are only listening to their own sick minds.  They really need someone to talk to who can clearly see and point out the dysfunction and the sickness to get them on the path of wellness for themselves and their children if they have any.

Don’t Cry for Me

A Short Story by Betty Brown

I wake up thinking, ” this too shall pass.”  The mirror in the bathroom tells me otherwise as shows the recent bruises and on my cheeks along with the permanent scratch marks on my neck. While I was cleaning my face, I started to think back to the night before and all the other times before; trying to remember what I had done to deserve this kind of treatment from someone who’s supposed to love and care for me, but I could never find anything. These bruises on my body and face told me there had to be something; otherwise why would this have happened to me? I couldn’t talk to anybody about what I was going through because I didn’t have any friends anymore. They were all bad influences. All I needed was him. Those were his words. He had a lot of words when it came to making himself the victim of my beatings. It was funny how everything always ended up my fault. So funny but who was laughing?….not me, and not him for long. I just need to find a way to get myself out of this mess.

 

Thank God there were never any children. I don’t know how I never got pregnant because he never allowed any kind of protection. That’s one way I know there is a God. The other way is, he didn’t let me do what I had in mind for my husband. I knew there would be another episode as usual. He’s always going out after work and coming home intoxicated. That’s when all the anger comes out of him. What he’s so angry about; I don’t know. The place is always clean and his food is always cooked. He never has to do anything but come home and relax.

 

This evening was feeling a little different. I could feel a shift in the air…. you know how the saying goes..”I can feel it in my bones.” I just couldn’t put my finger on it, so just said a little prayer of protection. I was awakened to the noises of things falling over. I was trying to focus my eyes on the clock on the nightstand on his side of the bed. I think it read 2 a.m. There the noise was again, but this time it was followed by an angry voice that I knew all too well. I had prepared myself for what I knew was going to happen. I got up and put on my tennis shoes and sat in the chair that was in the corner of the room; facing the door to the room. His footsteps were getting closer to the top of the stairs.

 

All I could hear were the profane names he always called me when he was drunk but some how tonight, they didn’t bother me. Even though I knew he was going to come bursting through the door, I still jumped when he did it. He started with all the name calling and blaming me for all his short comings and when I didn’t respond to him like I usually did; crying and cowering away from his insults; he came over and slapped me so hard that I fell to the floor. I knew he wasn’t finished, so when he grabbed me by the hair; I came up with the knife in my hand and stabbed him so many times that I didn’t even know I was doing it. I must have blacked out because when I came to the police and ambulance was there.

 

I saw all the blood on my clothes  and I just started screaming. “What happened! What happened!” One of my neighbors had called the police like they always did but this time things were a lot different. He was dead and I was the one with the knife clutched in my hand.

An Old Pair of Jeans

Written by Betty Brown

 

♣This is for non married couples. When you’re in a relationship and you’re always the one left at home because they want to go visit “their” friends, then… that’s an old pair of jeans. When you’re the one who’s feelings are always put on the back burner just so they can feel happy, then… that’s an old pair of jeans. When you’re up at 1 or 2 in the a.m. and you’re not partying but instead thinking about an argument that happened earlier and they’re snoring…sleeping like a baby, then… that’s an old pair of jeans. What I’m getting at is those old pair of jeans are a pair you hold on to because when you first got them they looked damn good on you but now things are changing but you still hold on thinking… one day these will fit again. I’ve just go to change a few things about myself. NO! NO! NO! What you do is go out and get you another pair that fit you just the way you are! Change for yourself, not for an “old pair of jeans”. ♣