Archive | January 2012

sin by silence


In a few California prisons there are still about 50 women who were incarcerated before 1992 for the crime of murder.  Every one of these women is a victim, a victim of domestic violence.   Like most mothers, who would stand in front of a bus before they would see their child hurt, these women used their own bodies as shields over their children.  These women endured years of battering – emotional, verbal, sexual and physical – at the hands of  the men they believed had once loved them.

Before legal changes were made post 1992, these victims of domestic violence had no voice.  There were few laws protecting women (and men) against domestic violence.  At times the police they called for protection, in all reality were batterers in their own homes.  Paperwork went missing, lawyers got sloppy, the women were misrepresented …. without money, support, and understanding, they went to prison because they killed the men who were attempting to kill them or their children.

Support the new sin by silence law being put before congress.  Shout out in unison for our sisters who are still incarcerated for the crime of self defense.   Watch this site and add your voice.   We can do this together!

healing at Penn State

It’s a mess, a horrible yucky mess.  How the mighty have fallen.  Over the past few months, we have learned that … for years … men in positions of tremendous authority at Penn State College  either a) chose to abuse that power and molested many little boys on the campus premises, or b) they chose to avert their eyes to the evils their friends were committing.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

My friend, Vicky Didato, one of Penn State’s “own,” has been asked to help with the healing in her beloved community.  Here’s the link.  She is one of the best.   Please pray for her as she helps provide answers to some very tough questions.   I have no doubt at all that some of those little boys, now grown men, their family members and friends, will be listening.

advice column wisdom

I don’t know if any of you are old enough to remember the advice column, “Ann Landers.”   This was a pen name created by the Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist, Ruth Crowley, in 1943.  It was passed on to Eppie Lederer in 1955, and for 56 years the “Ask Ann Landers” syndicated advice column was a regular feature in most national newspapers.

I adored Ann Landers.  She was willing to talk about the “hard stuff” publicly, back in the day when most folks didn’t.  The advice column continues to be one of my favorite parts of the newspaper, so when I read “Ask Amy” (Amy Dickinson of the Tribune Media) this week, I was not disappointed.   I thought it was something worth sharing in this blog today.

DEAR AMY:  Three years ago I found out my husband had been unfaithful many times during our eight-year marriage.  We have three young children, and I have done everything in my power to save our relationship and spare them divorce.  Our life became ridiculously tumultuous.   He lost his job.   We moved four times, first across the country and then back across the country.

I am exhausted and depleted.   My question is, how do I let go of this grief?  It has haunted me for three years, and I am tired of how I feel.   I’ve decided to separate, and I am living in a tiny three-bedroom place with my parents, sisters and three children.   There always seems to be something to justify the “why me” attitude.  I am struggling to find something positive, and I desperately need some peace.  — Exhausted

DEAR EXHAUSTED:  Living with the chaos of your disastrous marriage has exhausted you to your core.   But living in the relative stability of your family – especially if they are kind and supportive – will help restore you gradually.

You are grieving because your marriage has died.  Divorce has become so prevalent that people don’t seem to acknowledge how devastating this loss is.   In addition to the obvious loss, you are also grieving the loss of possibility and the death of the dreams and ideals that sustained you during the years of your marriage.

Stop.  Breathe.  Sometimes when your life is externally chaostic, the peace you crave has to come from within.  It takes time to re-create a life after it has crumbled.  Stay put for a while.  Avoid any drama with your ex.

At night after the kids are in bed, take 10 minutes to yourself.   Write down a list of some things that happened during the day that felt good.   It could be something as basic as the warmth of the sun or the fact that your car is working.  Start there.   Resolve to notice and build upon these simple things.

Life unfold one day at a time.   Strive to make those days a little better.  ——–

Well done, Amy.  You have taken on Ann’s mantle well.  Keep that wisdom coming.  M

healing sisters

We don’t have cable at our house anymore, so when we are on vacation or visiting friends who have access to the world of entertainment, sometimes we tune in.  Last weekend I managed to catch some of 20/20, and heard the story of Stacey Lannert.

Stacey Lannert and her younger sister

Her blog reads: “After 10 years of sexual abuse, including rape and sodomy, Stacey Lannert shot and killed her father on July 5, 1990, and was put in jail. In December 1992, she was convicted of first degree murder and armed criminal action. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole in Missouri. In January 2009, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence. He told her he expected her to make a difference with her life. After 18 years in prison, Stacey’s now living in St. Louis. She’s telling her story so other women can learn from her mistakes.”

What Stacey’s blog doesn’t say, is that she had left her life of abuse, only to return to her offender’s home because her younger sister was still living there, and had called Stacey, as she was in fear of her life.   Stacey came back to save her sister, and gave the ultimate gift, literally, laying down her life for her sister/friend.  She is one courageous lady.  I’ve linked her site to mine, in the hope that it will be a good resource for you as you journey.

not under bondage

She was a beautiful bride, madly in love with her new husband.  With all of her heart she had made the vow “to love and to cherish, til death do us part”  She meant every word.   Then she was battered.

Barbara Roberts,  a Christian sister who now lives in Australia, was  such a bride.   For devout Christian women the thought of divorce goes against everything they hold sacred, yet for some, like Barbara, it was a necessity if she was going to survive.   Taking on a very difficult task, Barbara Roberts has written an excellent book, a resource for my struggling sisters …

  Please consider following her blogs …. she writes good stuff.

but he never hit me ….

I can’t tell you how many times I have said to a woman, “do you realize that you are a battered wife?”  She has lived for years with a man who verbally and emotionally abuses her, who humiliates her at every opportunity, who is passive aggressive in his behavior, who isolates her from her friends and family, who controls her comings and goings, restricts her access to money, uses the children as a weapon against her, destroys any possessions that are significant to her … the list goes on and on …   She looks at me and says, “but he never hit me.”

Remember the little ditty that we learned as a kid …. “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  It’s a lie.  Words hurt.   As any child that has been bullied.  Physical wounds can heal, although they sometimes leave a scar.  Verbal and emotional wounds are just as painful, but they aren’t visible from the outside.   If my client had a mark on her body from every one of the times she had been verbally or emotionally abused by her spouse, she would be a candidate for the trauma unit of her local hospital.   Everyone that came into contact with her would recognize that she is in agony and needs help.

Here is a powerful video that illustrates the effect of verbal abuse.

Because verbal and emotional abuse doesn’t leave a physical mark, not many people will ever notice that my client is hurting.  Her spouse’s controlling behaviors keep her inside most of the time.   It’s hard for her to give people eye contact or engage in conversation.  For her to come to my office has taken all the courage she can muster.

There’s a link that might be very helpful to you if you think you might be like my client.

men who love porn and the women who love them

Now, that’s a Sunday morning heading that is sure to make my friends on FB take notice!  Welcome any newbies….

One of the new wonders of this blogging adventure is that other bloggers recommend websites to me that might be helpful for my readers.  This is one of them, a blog called FEARLESS: ” a southern girls” blog that also talks about the tough stuff that no one wants to talk about.

Pornography, and it’s impact on women, is one of those topics.  The following article, (original website at the end, but printed out in full for you below) was written by a feisty young woman who I would love to communicate with in the months to come.  It’s blunt, to the point, in your face, and good!

Every day in my counseling office I see at least one or two women whose hearts have been broken by their husband’s use of pornography.  Our world tells us that there is nothing harmful in it, that pornography even helps relationships by spicing them up.  Not in the lives of anyone I know …  What woman enjoys the fact that the man she loves is being stimulated by the bodies, usually artificially enhanced if I might add, of other women.   That he is spending hours at his computer, engrossed in a dark and perverted world, while she is upstairs putting the kids to bed, or crying in the dark.  How is that beneficial to any relationship?  Pornography destroys.

One of the things I appreciate about Fearless’s article, is that she mentions that women struggle with pornography too.  Like her, I was exposed to pornography very young in life.   I was only seven, and was visiting my little friend who lived down the road.   Her daddy had a “girlie calender” hanging in his garage, something that would be laughably tame by today’s standards, but I was transfixed.  It took me to a world I had never known before.  I was at once fascinated – the lady (and that’s what I called her because I had been brought up right) – was beautiful, but I instinctively knew that something about this was dreadfully wrong, and I felt sexual shame for the first time in my life.  I have never forgotten how that moment felt.  It marked me, and that is perhaps what led me to the work that I do today.   I want women (and men) to be liberated from shame, to be set free from the sins done to them by another.

If this blog impacts you in any way, comment on it, and then perhaps you can take a visit to Fearless, and tell her that her wisdom beyond her years is being passed on.   Bless you.

the women who love men who love porn

Let’s be real. Everyone’s uncomfortable right now. I know, and I’m sorry. But the purpose of Fearless has become to talk about the things that no one will talk about. So let’s do this. Deep breaths.{disclaimer: this isn’t about my relationships. k? I don’t want this to look like I’m dragging anyone’s personal struggles through the mud. read it objectively.}

I remember the first time I encountered porn on the internet. I was the tender age of 9, & it was in a pop up as I was searching the internet for pictures of my current hero, Tara Lipinksi {ice skater. anyone? anyway..} It scared the hell out of me. I had no idea what I was looking at, but I knew it wasn’t okay. I quickly clicked out of it, shut the computer down, and walked away. I didn’t talk to anyone about it…I didn’t know it was, so I didn’t know what to talk to them about. I wouldn’t have any further contact with porn outside of the occasional pop-up {which still gives me heart palpitations} for the years to come. And for that I am thankful & blessed.

There are plenty of women out there who struggle with porn, even though it’s heavily considered a man’s world. But that’s not really something I can shed a whole lot of light on. What I can talk about is the effect porn has on the women who love men who look at it. Let’s just cut straight to the chase, it wrecks women.  I’m not usually a big statistics spitter, but in this case, a few seem necessary. In 2011, porn was a 13 million dollar industry. An average of 260 new sites go up daily. Every second, 28,258 people are watching porn online. And this is the one that makes me feel like I’m going to throw up: on average, boys start watching porn at 11. Eleven.

So if you start watching porn at eleven, and enter your first serious relationship at say, 20, you have 9 years worth of degradation of sex and women under your belt already. Because that’s what porn does. It takes a beautiful, God-created thing and demeans it to a simple act for your viewing & self-satisfying pleasure. And deny it all day, but it changes the way you look at women. It turns them into worthless play things, useful for only one thing. It wrecks you, and it wrecks the woman who loves you.

Every woman I’ve ever talked to that found out their significant other was looking at porn has said the same two sentences. “I feel like I got cheated on”, & “I feel like I’m not good enough, I’m never going to look like those girls”.

“I feel like I got cheated on”

Because you did. Maybe he didn’t go out to a bar and hit up some girl and then take her home, but he may as well have. He found pleasure from a woman that’s not you {if you’re not married, that’s not your job yet either, but that just means it’s no one’s job at the moment}. And regardless of if he’s your boyfriend or husband, it’s going to be really hard to shake the reality that now, any time things do get intimate, he’s got some other female’s body in his brain. Very few men I’ve encountered really understand the tenuity of a woman & her sexuality. I know some of you girls are going to want to drop kick me for this, but we’re rather delicate creatures. Hell yea we’re strong & hard workers & capable of doing life right along with you, but we’re not quite as hard as the rough-and-tumble men we love. So this crap devastates us. And it breaks us. And it makes us not trust you. And it makes us feel cheated.

“I feel like I’m not good enough, I’m never going to look like those girls”.

But you are. You are good enough. And no, you probably don’t look like those girls, but that’s so more than okay. In actuality, it’s preferable, isn’t it? As if my heart didn’t already break enough for the women caught up in the porn industry, the realization that it’s unlikely that very many of them look anything like their real selves anymore is so saddening. Pumped full of silicone & fillers, these women are shadows of the people they used to be, in both the emotional and physical. So no, your measurements aren’t 36DD/22/30, but you know you’re beautiful. And whole. And loved. You can’t let your partner’s mistakes destroy who you are as a person. Plus, if you’re in a truly loving relationship {because I can’t find it in myself to say that because your partner struggles with pornography you have no hope and are doomed}, your external beauty isn’t the only thing that draws your man to you. It’s your genuineness, your faithfulness, your laugh, your oddities, your fire. Those are things he’s never going to find in the women behind the screen. He loves you more than he enjoys the feeling those women give him. Now he needs to prove it.

Today, porn gets chalked up to just something dudes do. Like it’s just normal & okay. I know I thought that way for a long time. But as God redeemed my views on sexuality, He also redeemed my view of our culture’s mastication of it. We are a desensitized society, proficient in the ways of that’s just how it is. But it’s not. Or it shouldn’t be. There is redemption at hand. There is a revolution taking place of men relearning how to be men. I can feel it and it’s exciting. And they need their women to be rallying behind them, just like we need them behind us reminding us that we are not of this world, but of Christ. Moving forward from a partner’s pornography habits is hard, but it’s possible. It takes a lot of forgiveness and prayer and allowing yourself to feel hurt, but not staying there. Refusing to allow your identity tank, but instead choosing to place your existence in your Savior rather than the man you love’s mistakes. It takes change on his part, it takes the reestablishment of trust {which is so hard, but worth it}, and most of all it just takes Jesus.

“And through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy & blameless & above reproach before Him.” -Colassians 1:20-22
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