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The Hotline Believes Abuse is Never Acceptable

dvinthenewsYou’ve probably been hearing about Ray Rice, the 27-year-old running back for the Baltimore Ravens. Rice has recently been charged with aggravated assault (a felony) against his fiancée, Janay Palmer.

Here at the hotline, we’ve been watching Rice’s case unfold. No matter what happens with this individual case, we wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate that violence within a relationship is NEVER acceptable. We know that abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, economic status, sexual orientation, or religion. And it’s not okay. It is never okay.

We’ll continue to monitor this case and share our comments as it continues. Remember, if you are experiencing abuse or know someone who is, our advocates are available by phone 24/7 at  1-800-799-7233, or by chat through our website Monday through Friday, 9am-7pm CST. Please get in touch with us. We’re here to help.

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I See DV As Complex, Even For Celebrities

Today’s How I See DV perspective is by writer Alex Iwashyna who blogs at LateEnough.com. Late Enough is a humor blog, except when it’s serious. Alex is a freelance writer, poet and media consultant who writes about about her life intermixed with important ramblings on her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, her kids outsmarting her, and dancing like everyone is watching. We are very excited that she lent her voice — and support — to our campaign. 

blog-posters-alexCelebrities seem to have it all — fame, fortune, the ability to get a book published that is poorly written and yet makes the best-seller list – not to mention the chefs, personal trainers and trips to exotic locales.

They are paid to look and act certain ways at certain times so I don’t mind the commentary on their dresses and hair and ability to act or sing. But I draw the line at holding celebrities to higher standards when it comes to domestic violence. I don’t think being famous gives people magical powers to escape abusive relationships quicker because, while they may have the financial means to leave, abuse is not a basic socio-economic problem. The women and men in these relationships are human beings who are going to respond like abused partners.

Take Rihanna and Chris Brown’s relationship. Almost everyone supported Rihanna when she left Chris Brown after the abuse went public, but when she forgave him and went back to spending time with him, people were mean and angry and ignorant. Ignorant because it takes seven times ON AVERAGE for a woman to leave her abusive partner. Maybe she could’ve been an anomaly and left the first time around, but she’s not. That doesn’t make her a bad role model. That makes her not yet even average. And the public’s reaction to this — the vitriol, the hate — makes it even harder for people to leave again. We set people up to not want to admit the abuse is happening again, to not be willing to seek help. Being kind, thoughtful and understanding is not condoning abusive behavior. Plus, what does an I told you so attitude even achieve?

Another very common reaction to abuse is to normalize it. “He’s just trying to make me better.” “I egged him on.” We rationalize because the truth that someone I love is also hurting me can be difficult to process or understand. “Real Housewife” Melissa Gorga recently wrote a book about her marriage, Love Italian Style. I have only read excerpts, but I noticed warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.

Men, I know you think your woman isn’t the type who wants to be taken. But trust me, she is. Every girl wants to get her hair pulled once in a while. If your wife says “no,” turn her around, and rip her clothes off. She wants to be dominated. (an excerpt from her book, which is a quote of her husband ignoring consent. More quotes can be found on Jezebel)

In the book, she also shares how she is not allowed to go on overnight trips, get a job or say no to sex more than once a day. Most of the public response to her book is how terrible and gross and awful they are as a couple and she is for writing this as an advice book. But, setting her husband aside, Melissa Gorga is just human. She may have more reach than the average person but that does not make her immune to a very human reaction to unhealthy behaviors: normalizing it so she can survive. Instead of demonizing her, we can react by saying, “If your relationship looks like this, know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are places to find help.”

These same relationships are happening every day to people we know. Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience abuse over their lifetime. While I would never want anyone to go through domestic violence, seeing complex relationships play out in celebrities’ lives could help us comprehend our own experiences or to be more understanding of our friends and neighbors in similar situations. Will those we care about read how disgusted we are with people being abused or see someone they can turn to and trust to not be judged?

About Our Contributor

Alex Iwashyna holds a medical degree and a political philosophy degree and became a writer, poet and stay-at-home mom with them. She uses her unique perspective on her blog, LateEnough.com, to write funny, serious, and always true stories about life, parenting, marriage, culture, religion, and politics. She has a muse of a husband, two young kids and a readership that gives her hope for humanity. While Alex believes Domestic Violence Awareness Month is every month, she’s grateful to be participating in How I #SeeDV this October.

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I See DV As An Issue That Can Be Resolved If We Can Come Together

Today we’re very excited to have Denver Broncos Chris Harris, Jr. share his perspective on domestic violence and discuss how men and athletes can promote healthy relationships.

dvam-chris-harrisWhat motivated you to speak out against domestic violence?

Domestic violence is an issue that affects everyone whether they know it or not. When you look at the statistics that approximately 1 in 4 women are affected, you know that all of us probably have at least one friend or family member being affected. In the past I think people have viewed domestic violence as a ‘women’s issue’ but I feel it is important for male role models to speak out and set a good example.

How do you define a healthy relationship for yourself?

I think in a healthy relationship there has to be love, support, respect and equality. If any of those aspects are missing you end up having a relationship that just doesn’t really work. Even though two people bring different things to a relationship, you have to respect the other person and realize that what they are bringing is equally important as what you are bringing.

Through your career, the Chris Harris Foundation and your work with Big Brothers Big Sisters, you’ve been such a role model to young boys. What do you hope to teach them about relationships?

I just think it is important for young men and boys to realize that relationships are a two-way street. If they are going to be involved with a woman, they should be bringing out the best in that person and vice versa. Relationships require give and take, so I want young men to realize that and be responsible for the roles they play in relationships. But all of this really comes back to respecting the person they are with and being a source of strength rather than an obstacle.

You’ve faced many challenges in your career. You were an undrafted free agent who worked his way to being named Denver’s Breakout Player of the Year and Overachiever of the Year in 2011. To accomplish this, you must have had a very strong mental game. How do you mentally overcome a bad, or “off” day? 

I just try to stay focused on the positive. Whatever happens happens and nothing can really be gained from dwelling on the past. Obviously we all want to learn from our mistakes, but ultimately we have to stay focused on the challenges that lay ahead. I’ve been very blessed with the talents that I have, so at the end of the day I can be confident that those talents will carry me through even if I have a bad day.

An article once described you and your wife, Leah, as a “packaged deal.” What are some ways the two of you support each other? 

We really are a team in every sense of the word. She is my biggest fan and supports me before and after every game with motivation, love and support. She also handles a lot of business that I am unable to handle due to my busy schedule during the season. She is also starting her own business right now so I am doing all that I can to support that via promoting it with social media and being someone she can talk to about any issues she is facing. Everyone can check out her work at MyTimelessImpression.com.

You were recently the spokesperson for the Domestic Violence Intervention Services program located in your hometown of Tulsa. What did you learn about domestic violence through that experience?

I learned a lot about the statistics of domestic violence and just how big of a problem it is. That experience also really helped me to think about what my role could be in stopping the problem. So much of the domestic violence is caused by attitudes ingrained in children at a young age. I think that if me and other male role models take a stand and teach kids a new way of thinking, we can make progress.

We know that men holding other men accountable for their actions and words makes a difference in promoting a culture of healthy relationships. How do you encourage your friends and teammates to be healthy in their dating behaviors? 

I think the most important thing is just not to be the silent bystander. There are certain issues in our culture that if someone brings it up people are going to tell them they are wrong to think that way. Unfortunately the proper way to treat women or to participate in relationships has not always been one of those issues. We just have to change our thinking about that and make sure that if someone says something that is unacceptable that we call it out and hopefully they won’t be comfortable making those kinds of comments again.

Please finish this sentence. “I see domestic violence ______________________. 

I see domestic violence as an issue that can be resolved if we can come together and change the way people think about it.

About Our Contributor

Denver Broncos Chris Harris, Jr. knows how to make an impact. A third-year cornerback, Harris has played 31 regular-season games in his first two NFL campaigns. While he began his professional career as an undrafted free agent, he finished his rookie season with glowing stats and was voted Denver’s All-Rookie Team, Breakout Player of the Year and Overachiever of the Year. Harris completed the 2012 season ranked 5th in the NFL in receiving yards allowed and holds the record for the longest interception return in Broncos history.

In addition to his on-the-field activities, Harris’ passions extend to helping others experience the same mentorship and opportunity he had growing up. In 2013, he launched the Chris Harris Jr. Foundation to support children of military families. Harris launched a Student Success Challenge, encouraging kids to get involved in school, fitness, community service and more. Harris also participates in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and helps with program initiatives and mentoring children.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Did You See Last Night’s Law & Order SVU? Thoughts?

Last night’s Law and Order SVU told a familiar story — one of a young pop princess being brutally beaten by her baby-faced singer boyfriend. It was very similar to Rihanna and Chris Brown’s experiences, including the same triggers that set off the fight, his controversial tattoo and the public tweeting between the couple. It was an emotional episode that ended tragically — the young star is slain by her boyfriend after they get back together.

Here are some thoughts around last night’s episode:

Victim-Blaming Worsens the Situation

It was heartbreaking to watch the young pop icon named “Micha” in the episode attempt to recover in the days following the abuse.  She had just been betrayed by her best friend and partner, “Caleb,” she was physically hurting and she alone had to decide what to do next. In the midst of all of this, former fans and Caleb supporters were slamming her on Twitter saying that she was a “hoe,” that she should take him back, etc. A neighbor even told police, “She shouldn’t have dissed him.”

Take-Away: This was a powerful reminder of the difficulties facing a victim days after an instance of abuse. We should never judge or blame the victim for what has happened. No one wants or asks to be abused. Abuse is never justified. Let’s make sure that we always take an open-minded and supportive approach towards the victims in our life, and never tell them what they should do but rather be there for them as they heal.

Labels and How Abuse Changes Self-Perception

One of the most jolting lines in the show was Micha saying, “I don’t want the world to see me like that — like a victim.” In the episode, Micha’s brand managers talk with the detectives about what Micha should do in order to protect her public image. The scene also hinted at an internal struggle. It seemed that Micha didn’t like how her own self-perception had twisted as a result of what happened. One of the characters said, “He breaks the law and she gets punished?” Micha’s “punishment” wasn’t confined to her injuries, but rather her self-esteem and understanding of the world was changed as a result of Caleb’s violence.

Take Away: Victims are not only victims. They’re mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, teachers, jokesters, romantics, artists, you name it. Too often in news stories or TV dramas, the victim isn’t adequately described outside of the violent situation. If you are being abused now or have survived, know that your experience isn’t all that you are. It’s a part of your story, but know that you are still a whole person. If you’re struggling in how you feel about yourself as a result of abuse, we have advocates on the lines 24/7 who are here to talk.

Is Anything “Inevitable” In Abuse?

The episode ended on a jaw-dropper. Micha and Caleb publicly announce they are back together. When asked what the detectives should do next, Detective Benson replies, “We wait for the inevitable.” Cut to Micha and Caleb on a boat, seemingly happy until Caleb receives a text message from another girl. A fight ensues, and in the next scene a TV report broadcasts that the young singer’s body was found.

Take Away: The sad ending to the show seemed to insinuate that death always follows abuse. While it is true that abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, we do want to point out that nothing is “inevitable” when it comes to someone’s situation. Advocates on The Hotline can help assess for potential risk. We are always concerned about our callers’ safety and can help anyone see how much danger is present. If you or someone you know is being abused and there are weapons present, please call The Hotline to safety plan around staying safe with those in the house.

What did you think of last night’s episode? Did anything stand out to you?

(photo credit: nbc.com)

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

What Did You Think of Pink’s AMA Performance?

The musical artist Pink has recieved a lot of attention for her Sunday night performance of the song “Try” at the American Music Awards. Her performance was modeled after the music video for “Try” where she and a male dancer depict an unhealthy relationship.

It is an incredible performance, but it’s not hard to see that Pink and her partner are smashing glass, pulling hair and strangling, pushing and kicking each other. The couple is even surrounded by flames.

Watch it here:

We asked a few of our advocates to chime in with what they thought of Pink’s performance. Does it promote violence or does it encourage awareness of unhealthy relationships? Is it helpful or harmful for those experiencing abuse? Does this help us become more honest about relationships?

Here’s what our advocates had to say. Please let us know what you thought of Pink’s performance in the comments below.

Truthfully, the video make me nervous because we work with people who are hurt, but I also see this as a great opportunity to learn and talk about dating violence and domestic violence. Anything that brings it out into the public sphere is good — we need to bring the reality of domestic violence out of the dark.
-Liz

I was surprised to see how aggressive the dancing interactions were between Pink and the male dancer. It felt uncomfortable to watch; like it was artful dance at points, but punctuated by aggressive hair pulls and pushing.

I think there are a lot of ways that violence is promoted in media, and for those not involved in the domestic violence field, this performance may not have been that alarming. It may have just been seen as a passionate dance between two people, punctuated by aggression and lyrics that say just “try try try.” But try to what? Make things work? This almost reminded me of that Eminem and Rihanna video where the song had really alarming lyrics. It could spark conversation but I don’t know if in the same way.
-Mary

I watched the video, and while it was a very skillful performance, I think what it says about relationships is a little sloppy.

If you look just at the dance performance itself, it reminds you of what you need for a relationship to work. You need shared responsibility, trust, support, and communication. In order for Pink’s performance to be so strong, she needed all that from her dance partner. For a relationship to work and flourish, we need those key ingredients as well.

The underlying message of the song “Try” seems to be that you need to keep trying in a relationship, even if it hurts you or your partner. The reality is that relationships should not be painful. When dancers feel pain, they don’t continue to do the same thing, because they recognize that they will become permanently injured. Similarly, if even one thing about your relationship makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you can call our Hotline to talk about it.

We all deserve to feel safe and supported by our partners, whether we’re dancing or just watching Pink dance on TV.
-Advocate


This performance covers many aspects in a relationship. You are able to see how the passion in a bad relationship may be the thing that keeps someone from walking away and giving up. This performance is good in that people who just say, “You should leave him” don’t understand that there are times when it’s not abusive. Often when deciding to leave, the victim is not just looking at the abuse. They might be looking at the person they are losing and what they have been through with them. I think Pink’s performance demonstrates this feeling.

For me, the 2:05 point in the video is the most powerful part. He tries to leave through the door and is confronted by the uncertainty and the danger of being alone in the flames that are outside. Then Pink looks in the mirror and does not like what she sees in herself and her behavior (after picking him up by the hair). She is frustrated and angry about who she has become and is also met by flames. In the end, they both turn back into one another.

This just shows how hard it is for someone to leave an abusive relationship, but also for the person who has hurt someone to change. And in the end, we have to look back at what we are with the person and have to decide what we want to be.

I believe that this is art and is not promoting violence. It allows people to see the range of what goes on in relationships, both for men and women, and as both the aggressor and the victim.
-Brian

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Today on Katie Couric: Dating Abuse

Katie Couric’s talk show Katie is discussing dating abuse on today’s episode airing at 4 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Central.

The show will feature survivors of dating abuse and the family of Yeardley Love, who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2010. To find your local time and channel to watch Katie, please click here. To learn more about the One Love Foundation in honor of Yeardley Love, please click here.

Here’s a preview of the show:

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Chad Johnson Arrested for Domestic Violence – A Lesson in Consequences

This week news broke that Chad Johnson, aka Ochocinco, was arrested for domestic violence charges on Saturday after allegedly headbutting his wife Evelyn Lozada in an argument.

The fallout from Saturday’s events have been significant. Not only was Johnson released from his contract with the Miami Dolphins, his firing was even filmed and aired for all of America to see on the HBO’s show, “Hard Knocks.” Lozada and Johnson had already filmed their own reality TV show called “Ev and Ocho” but following Saturday’s arrest, VH1 announced their decision to not air the show. Johnson has already lost endorsement deals as a result, and is likely to lose more in the coming months.

Lozada has since filled for divorce and issued a public statement, expressing her disappointment that Johnson had not accepted responsibility for his actions.

Johnson also released a statement, saying:

I would like to apologize to everyone for the recent events that have occurred. I would like to wish Evelyn well and will never say anything bad about her because I truly love her to death. I will continue to be positive and train hard for another opportunity in the NFL. To all the fans and supporters I have disappointed, you have my sincerest apologies. I will stay positive and get through this tough period in my life.  

This high profile situation reminds us that anyone, no matter age, race or financial status, can experience domestic violence. It can happen in any relationship. It causes us to reflect on the issue and explore how we understand domestic violence in our communities.

The consequences of Johnson’s behaviors have been heavily discussed in articles about the arrest. Within the span of a week, he lost his wife, his job, his reputation and more. This was a major reminder of what an abuser has to lose when he or she acts violently towards a partner. Abuse is always about power and control. Through Johnson exerting power over one person, he lost control over most other aspects of his life.

For Lozada, we wish healing and support. If you or someone you know experiences abuse, please remember that you can always call The Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

(Photo by Daniel X. O’Neil)

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Teen Mom Recap: Why Doesn’t April Just Leave?

photo credit: mtv.comSome people might watch this past episode of Teen Mom and wonder what is wrong with April. How can she not know if she is going to leave Butch or not? In our society, this is a pretty typical response to survivors who stay in relationships, and it actually shifts the blame to the victim for the abuse, and away from the person who was actually violent. If she would just leave, this wouldn’t happen, right? In this situation, whether April stays in the relationship or not, she doesn’t deserve to be attacked and hurt.

There are a few things going on that many people who make that judgment about survivors don’t take into account. Leaving an abusive relationship is an extremely dangerous time. Abusive partners often escalate their violent behavior when they feel their sense of power and control in the relationship is lessening.

There may be other reasons why leaving doesn’t seem possible at the moment, like not having financial resources to find a new home. Ending a relationship is a complex, emotional process in the best of circumstances. Even though Butch has been abusive and unsafe, April may still care about him and what to see him get help.

There may come a day when she knows for sure that walking away is the right decision for her, but it’s ok if it takes some time for her to figure out what she wants to do.

This excerpt from Advocacy Beyond Leaving by Jill Davies explains this process:

Victims are not masochists bent on suffering, nor are they living in a fantasy world. Victims do what we all do – deal with what life hands us. For some, remaining or leaving is a formal decision, a weighing of pros and cons. For others it is informal, simply coping with the current situation because it seems tolerable or there are no better options or alternatives. Most victims cope with the bad and hope for the better, living with the status quo, making the decisions they must, and doing what they can do to make things better along the way. Leaving is not a simple decision, nor one easily made.

Not knowing if you want to stay in or end an abusive relationship is perfectly natural. However, it’s very important to think about how you can stay as safe as possible while you’re trying to decide.

Think about what happens in your relationship: What can you do to be safe? Who can you talk to and ask for help from? What are the red flags that your partner will become more violent or dangerous? When do you know you have to leave or call the police in order to stay safe?

There are some risks that are often indications of potentially dangerous and lethal situations.  Some of the red flags that you may be in an extremely dangerous situation are:

  • If physical violence has gotten worse or happens more frequently in the last few months
  • If your partner has ever used a weapon or threatened you with a weapon
  • If your partner is violently jealous of you and who you talk to

(Campbell, et al, 2009, www.dangerassessment.org)

Remember, you can always talk to a Hotline advocate for support.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Teen Mom Features The Hotline

A recent episode of Teen Mom showed a family experiencing domestic violence. Teen parents Catelynn and Tyler have a unique situation. Catelynn’s mom April and Tyler’s dad Butch got married after Catelynn and Tyler started dating in middle school. Butch has been physically and emotionally abusive to April prior to this incident.

In the episode, April called Tyler to alert him to an incident that involved Butch assaulting her after suspecting that she was talking  to another man. Butch was arrested, and April told Tyler that she was unsure of their future together. Tyler and Catelynn were immediately concerned and rushed over to April to find out what happened.

Photo from mtv.com, Tyler at Catelynn from a previous episode

As the episode progressed, it became clear that the evening was incredibly violent, leaving April with bruises and pain. Butch had violated a “no contact” order in coming over to April’s home.

Despite the horrible details of the assault, April didn’t place all of the blame on Butch. She was quick to mention that Butch wasn’t himself because of drugs and alcohol. She told Tyler, “I really can’t say that I’m gonna leave him or anything like that because I really don’t know. He wasn’t there, dude, it wasn’t your dad.”

She also maintained hope that he will change, saying, “I honestly think if he’ll do his time, the drinking and the drugging is going to stop.”

Sadly, at The Hotline, we know that experiences like April’s are all too common. It’s not unusual for abusive partners to be extremely jealous, and accuse their partners of cheating, even when that is so far from the truth. We know that children and teens are dealing with the aftermath of abuse every day in their homes, just like Tyler and Catelynn.

April had a hard time deciding what to do in her relationship. An issue that complicated April’s decision-making process is Butch’s substance abuse. Again, this is an issue that is all too common in abusive relationships, and it makes it challenging to understand why someone becomes violent.

A common misconception is that using alcohol and drugs can make someone ‘lose control’ and hurt those around them. Even if Butch was able to get clean and sober, it’s likely that he would still be controlling and abusive. Alcohol and drug use can make abusive situations worse, but it doesn’t cause a non-abusive, non-controlling person to become violent.

Just as April said, it’s very likely that when Butch attacked her, he looked like a different person than the person she fell in love with. But, despite his drug use, Butch was still responsible for how he hurt April. Naturally, April wants to see Butch get the help that he needs so that she can be in a healthy, safe relationship with him, but he would need to accept responsibility for his substance abuse and his controlling and abusive behavior and be committed to getting help for both in order to change. Getting help for substance abuse and domestic violence would require a lot of personal accountability and determination.

When an abusive partner is using drugs or alcohol, there is an increased risk of severe physical violence. It’s really important to be aware of how the substance use affects their behavior. Do they become more aggressive or violent when they’re using or when they’re in withdrawal? This can help survivors know the risks of a situation and take steps to become safer in the moment.

If you have some concerns about similar issues happening in your relationship, you can always call The Hotline to talk. An advocate at The Hotline can help you think about what’s going on in your relationship, what the risks are to your safety and your children’s safety, and what you can do to stay safe.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Final Thoughts on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

We wanted our posts about the RHOBH to reach survivors, victims and bystanders alike in order to spark conversations about how we deal with abuse when we see it happen in our own lives and in the lives of our friends.

We did not get the chance to finish our discussion (we launched a new loveisrespect.org, hosted an event in LA, led James Brown on a tour, and many other exciting endeavors), so we wanted to take a moment today to conclude our thoughts on what was an emotional season of this show, not only for those involved but also the viewers at home who found parallels between their lives and the housewives’ when it came to domestic violence.

Believe Your Friends

How many times did we hear the phrase, “Unless I see it…” in regards to Taylor’s abuse this season? So. Many. Times. The friends had a really hard time believing that their friend could be experiencing something so horrific. Unfortunately, this is a really common phenomenon for most victims of domestic violence.

If you are a friend who is struggling to believe, please consider how hard it must have been for your friend to disclose that fact. Victims often are isolated from their friends and family and have had their self-esteem lessened. Believe what he/she says.

Still really struggling to believe? Consider what you know of the couple. Does your friend’s partner display issues with power and control? In the case of Taylor, we had seen Russell show warning signs. He told her when to leave parties. He dictated what happened in the household (remember the dog incident?) and Taylor was often talking about her marriage trouble. Think back to these signs when you find yourself wanting to voice your doubt.

Your Friend’s Safety Should Trump Winning an Argument

Watching Taylor climb into the limo with Russell after being denied entry at Kyle’s party in episode 16, “Uninvited,” made us nervous. Abuse is not rational. Just because Taylor was not truly responsible for getting turned away at the door did not mean that Russell would see it that way. He could have held it against her, or “punished” her when they were back home.

The way the group handled the situation was ill-advised. While they may have had the right to turn the couple away, their method was questionable. They brought the issue up to Russell, reminding him that Taylor herself had told Camille the secrets in the first place. It was risky for Taylor to leave with him, considering he was embarrassed and might strike back to regain power.

In this situation, though it may have made the friends feel better to not have strife between Camille and Russell, they didn’t recognize the danger they placed Taylor in by either making her explain why she shared the info in the first place or by having Russell blame her for the situation.

If you have a friend who is being abused, their safety should trump friend dynamics. Be a watch-guard for them. You can’t fix your friend’s situation, but you can watch your actions and be mindful of potential danger you may place them in, especially if their abuser is around.

It Can Take Many Times for a Victim to Leave

We also heard the common refrain of “Why doesn’t she just leave?” at multiple points of the season. We don’t blame the friends for wondering this because it’s hard to see a friend in pain, and as a society, we tend to oversimplify relationships. It is so difficult for a victim to leave because of a variety of reasons spanning from emotional to financial.

We want to point out that it is not uncommon for a victim to try to leave before leaving for good. Even then, the victim may still love the abuser. Russell was the father of Taylor’s child, her attachment to him was incredibly strong. It is completely normal and justified that she should struggle with leaving the marriage.

In conclusion, it’s easy to analyze what’s happening in these relationships because we are not the ones living them. We wish nothing but healing and peace for all of the Housewives and their families as they recover from the experiences of this time in their lives. Our hearts especially go out to Taylor and Kennedy as they move forward.

We hope our discussion of these episodes helped you in some way. We only seek to empower you with information. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please contact us so that we can connect you to resources in your area. Please call 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224 today.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

RHOBH Recap: Taylor’s Therapy & Why We Don’t Recommend It

Did you catch Monday’s episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Quick recap for those who missed it, we watched the Housewives going along with their lives — Lisa planning her daughter’s wedding, Adrienne fussing over her shoe line debut, and Kyle and Brandi going for manicures. The scene we found ourselves drawn to most, however, was Taylor and Russell’s very real therapy session.

It was hard to watch.

The therapist brought up the topics of Russell’s anger, his aggression and his desire to hurt Taylor when they’re arguing. The therapist didn’t specify in which way Russell hurts his wife, so we are not clear if the therapist is referring to physical, verbal/emotional abuse or other. Russell contributed that it wasn’t pretty when he was angry, a comment that seemed too casual for the topic at hand. Russell left the session early to attend a business meeting.

We bring up this scene to discuss what may surprise some of our readers.

We at the hotline do not encourage anyone in an abusive relationship to seek counseling with their partner. Abuse is not a relationship problem. While there can be benefits for couples who undergo couple’s therapy, there’s a great risk for any person who is being abused to attend therapy with their abusive partner.

Relationship counseling can help partners understand each other, resolve difficult problems, and even help the couple gain a different perspective on their situation. It cannot, however, fix the unequal power structure that is characteristic of an abusive relationship.

An abuser may use what is said in therapy later against their partner. Therapy can make a person feel vulnerable. If the abuser is embarrassed or angered by something said in therapy, he or she may make their partner suffer to gain back the sense of control. Therapy is often considered a “safe space” for people to talk. For an abused partner, that safety doesn’t necessarily extend to their home.

Couples often enter couple’s therapy to fix their relationship. Deciding whether or not the relationship is better is extremely hard for a couple if one is being abused. The abuser has all of the power and can no longer gauge if a relationship is getting better because he/she does not see what their partner sees. The abused partner often cannot even rate how bad or good the relationship is because the abuse has affected him/her. We saw this happen in the episode. Russell even tried to control the evaluation of therapy, declaring that he thought they were progressing. Taylor responded saying that while they were working on it, they weren’t quite to a good place just yet.

Another reason that couple’s therapy or counseling is not recommended is that the facilitator may not know about the abuse, which would make the entire process ineffective. The abuser may make their partner seem responsible for the problems, and if the therapist does not realize that abuse is present, her or she may believe the abuser.

If you or someone you know is considering entering therapy with an abusive partner, please have them call us at the hotline. We can talk to them, and give them a judgment-free sounding board for their hopes and concerns about the process.

Here’s an interview Taylor did on KTLA in which she says that the reality show may have even saved her life.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

RHOBH: “But Now We’ve Said It”

On tonight’s episode “Tempest in a Tea Party,” a heated discussion amongst the wives about loyalty and friendship turned into an unexpected intervention for Taylor Armstrong about her marriage. The housewives agree that they all want to protect Taylor, but they also admit to feelings of confusion about how to handle the situation as friends of both Taylor and Russell.

Taylor was visibly anxious during the initial conversation with Lisa and when the subject of her marriage arose, Taylor becomes uncomfortable and even asks “Why are we talking about this?” Though Taylor is unsure of who her real friends are, the housewives repeatedly confess feeling scared for her.

We know there is no handbook for helping a friend or family member who is experiencing abuse. The housewives may not have supported Taylor the way we would have, but they did show concern for her safety and happiness, which is important. There were a few moments during the intervention that we wanted to pull out and talk about how they could have gone differently.

“You say that he’s leaving you, but then you’re getting on a plane with him.”
Camille tells the girls about Taylor coming over and talking for three hours about her struggle with her marriage and then is surprised when Taylor announces at the end of their conversation that she is going on a trip with her husband.  Camille is obviously worried about Taylor’s safety, but seems to blame her for putting herself in an unsafe situation. Many believe that abusive relationships are easy to leave and that the abuse ends as soon as the victim has left. Unfortunately, the reality is that, on average, a victim takes multiple tries to leave an abusive relationship. We appreciate Camille’s concern for Taylor, but we wish she had been more understanding of Taylor’s difficult position.

“Russell’s always been lovely to me.”
All of the housewives seem to have a good relationship with Taylor’s husband. Abusive partners can be charming and friendly in person, so this isn’t surprising. However, Taylor has shared several instances of abusive behavior with her fellow housewives. Seeing through an abuser’s façade requires a critical eye. We understand that the women have never seen Russell as unkind but we wish they took Taylor’s confessions to heart.

“Unless I’ve seen it with my own eyes, I can’t say.”
Kyle does not feel comfortable taking a side between two of her close friends when she has not witnessed the alleged abuser as a threat. She is also suspicious that Taylor may be exaggerating her stories about her marriage. Victims of abuse frequently do not come forward about their experiences because they fear they won’t be believed. Taylor was courageous for sharing her situation with her friends; however, her fears were realized in this episode when her struggle was not taken seriously. This can be especially dangerous if the abuse continues or worsens because Taylor will not trust anyone to support her. We recognize that Kyle was trying to be diplomatic by not believing what she had not physically seen, but we wish that she would have believed her friend and validated her feelings.

We would like to thank Bravo for airing this footage and we hope that viewers will feel more comfortable talking about domestic violence in their own lives.

Are you in a position where you need to support someone in an abusive relationship? Find more information about helping a friend or family member who is experiencing abuse or contact The Hotline and an advocate can help you figure out your next step.