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this is why it matters

remorseful manI had the most amazing telephone call this week while at work.  Normally I would never have answered the phone at that time of day as it was during a session hour, but my client had just called in sick and I was available to respond.

The caller ID said it was from a southern state, one where I knew no one.  When I answered, a man’s voice spoke to me, something that is not part of the ‘daily’  in my practice as my counseling center is only for women.  Occasionally a male doctor or a spouse will call, but this was not a voice I recognized.

He gave his name, and his wife’s name, and shared that I had counseled them briefly, almost two decades before when I worked in another practice and saw marital couples as well.  I had a slight memory of them. He shared that, for a reason unknown to me, he had been looking at my website and had been both struck and convicted by the statistics shown there on domestic violence, because he realized that he had contributed to the statistics.  He was a batterer.

We knew that then.

Somehow they survived.   Somehow they managed to raise a family.   Somehow this man’s wife has had the strength to demonstrate healthy boundaries and yet still has patiently loved him as he has been dealing with the demons of his past, working hard not to pass them on to his children.   This man loves his family.   For all these years he has been working on changing the monster he was.

He called to thank me and, in tears, wanted to bless me for the ministry and the work that I do.

I will never forget that phone call.   This is why it matters.   One person at a time, one family at a time.  There is hope.

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when it’s not such a merry Christmas … domestic abuse at the holidays

broken_christmas_ball_by_heart_drops-300x225Mistletoe, stockings hung, Christmas lights twinkling in the dark, presents under the tree …. and a raging alcoholic coming through the front door while his wife and three children hide in the back bedroom.  For all too many families, the stress of the holiday season brings with it even more fear.

Domestic abuse occurs to at least one in every four women during her lifetime.  She might witness it growing up, as in the illustration above, date a teen abuser, or end up in an intimate relationship where she is battered – emotionally and/or physically – by the person she believes loves her.

Life in a financially strapped household is hard enough, but top that with the stresses of gift buying, more alcohol consumption or drug abuse at the seasonal parties and, in some families, the inevitable demand on who will be where at the holidays, and life can be hell.  Then you have the families where divorced parents mean shared holiday times, often resulting in an angry confrontation with an abuser-ex.

The Pixel Project, a campaign in honor of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, has come up with a list of 16 safety tips for women facing domestic abuse over the holiday season.  If you or someone you care about needs to read it, please go to their link here.   (Photo courtesy of The Pixel Project)

the verbally abusive relationship

My friend, Ida Mae, has shared a great article called “Reacting to Insinuations in the Verbally Abusive Relationship” found on a website hosted by Healthy Place, America’s Mental Health Network.

“His comment came out of the blue as he readied himself for work. “Some people don’t think,” he stated calmly. My mind raced to figure out what he was talking about. If I were in a normal relationship, I would have simply asked, “What do you mean, honey?” But I wasn’t in a normal relationship.”

“During the few seconds it took me to connect the dots between his statement and what he really meant, he didn’t say another word. He gave me the courtesy of remaining silent as my mind raced to find a way to avoid a fight that evening upon his return.”

There are a ton of resources on this site.   If  these paragraphs ring a bell for you, check them out, and know that there are people who understand, and want to help you.   Remember, you are not crazy.   Your world is crazy.   You cannot make sense out of something that will never make sense.

Patrick Stewart on domestic violence

I had no idea that Patrick Stewart, this brilliant, witty & deeply caring man, had grown up in an abusive home.   He chose to be different from the father who modeled life for him.

Patrick Stewart on domestic violence:

“Our house was small, and when you grow up with domestic violence in a confined space you learn to gauge, very precisely, the temperature of situations. I knew exactly when the shouting was done and a hand was about to be raised – I also knew exactly when to insert a small body between the fist and her face, a skill no child should ever have to learn.”