Tag Archive | Violence and Abuse

every statistic has a name and a dear, dear face

back of a woman's headThose of you who read my blog know that I counsel victims of domestic violence.   Every day, these precious women come into my office and tell me their tragic stories.   They have been beaten, throttled, raped, burned, had boiling water poured on them, had their family heirlooms broken in front of them, watched their animals tortured, and have been helpless as they knew their children were witnesses to most of these.

Unless you have walked this road, you have no right – repeat, no right – to criticize or comment negatively in any way.   You have no idea the journey these dear ones have taken, or how hard it is to get off this road.

Well, one of my dear friends has made it!   No longer is she hiding under a pseudonym.   “Ida Mae,” whom many of you have met before in much earlier posts, has come out into the sunshine.   Her divorce from the brute she married will be finalized in two weeks.   My friend’s name is CONNIE.   She is beautiful.   And one day she will show the world her face, when she feels it is time.

Well done, dearest.  So proud of you for crawling on broken glass to freedom.   I am honored to know you.

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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.

the gift of innocence

For several wonderful days this past week, I was blessed to hear “Nana” when a wee one woke in the middle of the night, knowing my name was safe in her mouth.  Her grandpa and I just grinned at each other in the dark when she & her big sister found their way to our bed at the beach cottage, and snuggled in for giggles and whispers before the sun got up.  Both of us were recipients of spontaneous hugs from fat little arms being wrapped around our necks, and we just drank in all the sweet little kisses & “I love you’s”  …. our little ones felt safe and we treasured their innocence.

It would be so pleasant to live in a bubble, believing that all little ones felt safe with their family members, that their innocence would be fiercely protected by those that they trusted.  As one of our little ones got her first taste of a wave coming in towards her, she ran to us for rescue.   At that second I was made aware of too many little ones who have no one to run to for rescue, because the one that should be their hero is the one who is causing their fear.  Life is not safe, and a little one’s heart can be broken in seconds, and for thousands of precious poppets every day is a living hell.

Be kind today to the snarly teenager bagging your groceries, or his sullen colleague with piercings in multiple places on her beautiful face, to the raging driver in the other lane who cuts you off, to the neighbor who swears at your dog as you walk by … yes, they might all  just be having a bad day, but they might also have been precious little ones who were locked in dark closets, beaten in alcoholic rages or sexually violated by grown ups whose job it was to protect them.  Their emotional development may have frozen at that moment in time, and their wee hearts were shattered.   We can’t go back & change their stories, but perhaps our smile, a genuine “thank you” or “good morning, Sam” might melt one of the bricks in their walls this morning.

one really good cop

I had breakfast this week with one pretty amazing young woman.  Not only is she a wonderful mother to a teenage football star/heart throb, a 5 year old princess and a sweet little toddler son, and is a great wife and loving daughter, Kim Mager is a tough cop, an incredible officer in the Ashland City Police force.

I first met Kim several years ago when she was being honored for being a “Woman of Achievement” in our county.  I was struck by the enthusiasm she had for her profession, her infectious laughter and the fact she was oblivious to her stunning beauty.  I had never met anyone quite like her before.

One of the many gifts that Kim has is the ability to confront evil every day in her job and still manage to come home with enough love to go around.  She is called into homes where little ones have been brutalized, and within a short time is gentle enough to get these traumatized children to trust her.  Her quiet reassurance of safety helps give them a voice.  This completely feminine creature then has the ability to spend hours in holding cells, facing their narcissistic and socio-pathic offenders, getting the deviant men & women to confess to  the horrible injuries they have done to these children who have trusted them.   Then, months later, Kim has to testify in Court on behalf of the children, being challenged and confronted at every turn.

Many of the adult women who come to me for counseling, and who have a history of sexual, emotional and/or physical abuse, never had a Kim in their lives.  No one was there to rescue them, to wrap a blanket around them and comfort them.  No one gave them a soft teddy bear to cuddle, and the reassurance that they would be safe.  No one took them away from the monster(s) that lived in their house.

So, Kim, this post is for you, to say how proud I am to be able to call you my friend, and to thank you for being an incredible person.   Our county is so blessed to have you as one of our heroes.

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Photo courtesy of the Ashland Times Gazette “Shop with a Cop”

wee victims

There are little ones that are victims of domestic violence every day.  They may not bear the scars of physical abuse, but the names they have been called or the abusive words they have been threatened with will stay with them forever.  They cower in closets and hide under beds.   They sing loudly to their teddy bears so that they can’t hear the screaming in the next room.  They’ve seen their mothers lying broken on the floor, or taken on stretchers to the emergency room.  They are the ones that are taken out of their homes and put into the care of strangers who sometimes, sadly, end up being offenders as well.   It happens all too often.   Just ask the now grown children who survived the foster care system.

Not all of us can foster or, like several of my wonderful friends, adopt a child who needs a home.   Every one of us, however, can support our Domestic Violence Shelter financially or with supplies of personal items, like deodorant, toothpaste and soap.   We can crochet a blanket with that leftover yarn that’s been sitting in a drawer, buy a toy, or purchase some new clothing for needy mums and their little ones.   We can speak up at Walmart or in the grocery store when we witness inappropriate behavior towards a child or their parent.  It’s easy to walk down the next aisle, but getting involved, even just a little, tells the victim that someone actually cares.

We can all pray.

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.