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DVAM-root

How I #SeeDV: Jon Root

DVAM-root

Six months into my PTSD, I was still digesting the repercussions from being named as an aggressor in a drunken 911 call by a live-in girlfriend. I was mired in the aftermath of recovering from a very debilitating domestic violence charge. Arrested without questions yet completely innocent, nary an opportunity to speak towards what didn’t happen, what I didn’t do.

As a decorated Olympian, father, author, and sports coach in the U18 space, having a felony arrest on my record was beyond a set back. It took 2 years to personally heal, then 1 year to find an attorney who was willing to navigate the nuances. Finally, a Superior Court judge heard my case, but not without a rep from the City Attorney’s office. The court did decide in my favor, restoring my ‘innocence’, records destroyed. But I lost three years of being in the world. Job offers were rescinded, restrictions placed against coaching minors, let alone subsequent alienation from my daughter. No one wanted to hear, nor seemed to care, about the physical and emotional abuse I suffered. No way around it.

Evolving from a background riddled with emotional abuse, I rationalized away red flag behavior. I thought things would change; she stated things would change. So, I believed her and not my gut instinct. It all happened so fast. Bail was higher than any professional athlete story involving domestic violence I have seen. It started with her drinking, going through my phone, then my computer, followed by accusations of infidelity, then volatile behavior manifesting blind rage. She did what the Rage and Anger told her to do.

Having done a lot of personal growth work prior to the incident, again I dug into my past, analyzing what remnant energy attracted this twisted, dark energy. It happened to me as a kid from 7-12 and lo and behold, it happened again later on in Life. Same tape different expression. From many introspective angles, I see where I was not strong in setting boundaries, but also where I couldn’t separate from toxicity. The lessons were many.

Invisible shame on my shoulders, I held my head as high as I could, but it has taken years to move on, rebuild. Forgiveness came very slow, both to me and my aggressor. Four years out, the episode still lingers in the shadows. While I respect my healing process, I have a greater appreciation for all those that have suffered this kind of physical and emotional oppression. For what I know and what I don’t know, I remain centered in my Heart, in Truth, knowing that Life is a Spiritual Sport.

root-125Jon Edward Root is a former American volleyball player and Olympic Gold Medalist. He was a member of the United States men’s National Volleyball Team that won the 1986 World Championships in Paris, France, and the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. A spiritualist, urban hippie, sports coach, animal lover, teacher, preacher and screecher of all things mystical, magical, and mindful, Jon lives and works in Northern California as a Development Consultant focusing on performance and transformational coaching for young athletes, adults, and professionals. He is the author of Life, The Spiritual Sport, which is part memoir and part manifesto on key metaphysical and physical attributes that affect performance and personal transformation. Learn more at www.jonroot.net.

DVAM-warner

How I #SeeDV: Nicole Warner

DVAM-warner

Domestic violence is an intimate version of the power plays we see played out in the rest of our daily lives, from Boston to the Middle East, from politics to the grocery store. No matter if it’s in a romantic relationship, in one neighborhood or on a world-wide scale, we’re talking about variations on a theme–violence.

Violence wants us to believe there is some kind of difference between intimate partner violence, where a man slaps his partner, and a loud mouth in the bar who picks a fight. It is still physical violence.

Violence wants us to believe that there is a difference between a Ponzi scheme and that “check” your Grandma got in the mail (the one that’s actually a big scam). The only real difference between a $100 Million Ponzi scheme and that fake check your Grandma got in the mail for $500 is the amount. It is still financial abuse.

Violence wants us to believe the market crash and its ripple effects are improving rapidly as long as we pinch our pennies and watch our gas mileage—as if our single-income pocketbooks could ever redeem the global misconduct of others. Violence wants us to get lost in the details, in the pennies; violence doesn’t want us to be looking at the dollars, the pounds. Violence doesn’t want us to see the big picture.

Violence wants us to get lost in its confusion, in the cognitive dissonance.

Violence wants us to believe there is a difference between a person navigating the toxic, constantly shifting labyrinth of a volatile relationship and that manipulative, intimidating colleague you have who makes you feel like you’re going off the deep end. Do you see how these are two corners of the same big picture? This picture is of psychological abuse.

Violence wants to divide us and conquer us. Keep us busy with the finger-pointing and the blaming and scapegoating. Keep us questioning, trying to decide if violence is different if it’s large- or small-scale, near to us or far from us, if it happened to a family member or “someone else.” Violence wants us to think more-than/less-than, better-than/worse-than. Violence doesn’t want us to see the huge writing on the wall, look it straight in its beady little eyes and call it out for what it is:

Toxic, destructive, and deadly for far too many.

But violence doesn’t get what it wants when we refuse to give in. As we learn to listen to what is said and to what is not said, we tune in to the big picture. We begin to see if someone is walking the walk or just talking the talk. We become more aware and speak up more often. Every time we stand up for what is right, violence loses. Every time we reach out and help our neighbor whose wife talks down to him, we build him up so he can make his own decisions. When we use our religions to serve others, to be assistive in times of need, to share our joys, we pay respect to our neighbors, to our religious communities, to ourselves. We create a different kind of ripple effect.

Our ripple effect now includes technology that allows us to film, to write, to publish, to connect, to network, to support, to learn, to heal. We gather knowledge and courage and get to the root of the issues when we make our voices heard.

Every time we make heard that violence knows no race, no religion, no country’s borders, we spread courage and this has an incredible effect on others. Courageous behavior is what destroys violence at its roots.

Courage also knows no race, no religion, no sex or gender, no country’s borders. Courage knows only how to grow.

 

800-Number

In praise of toll-free numbers for victims of Domestic Violence
and those who choose not to look away.

I am a victim of crime, yet my scars are unseen.
I am a victim of crime, and with a phone call you helped me save myself.

My name is your name
and I look just like you.
You are my neighbor, my colleague,
my customer, my boss.
I am the cashier, the mom, the teacher,
the corporate executive degraded in private.

Did you see him call me stupid?
Did you see him complain yet again?
Did you hear me cry myself to sleep?

Your name is my name
and you look just like me.
I am your neighbor, your colleague,
your customer, your boss.
You are the cashier, the mom, the teacher,
the corporate executive degraded in private.

You are a victim of crime, yet your scars are unseen.
You are a victim of crime, and with a phone call I helped you save yourself.
Copyright 2014 Nicole Warner

warner-125Nicole Warner is a professional classical singer with an active performing career, having sung solo on 3 continents. In her other life she’s a private instructor for voice and German as a Foreign Language. This year marks her 6th year as a survivor of domestic violence and the 2nd year she’s been human to a handsome orange tabby named Connor. Find out more about Nicole and read her survival story at www.nicolewarner.com.

survivor stories

Shared Voices PT 2: Your Stories of Life After Abuse

Yesterday we shared some survivor’s stories that we were fortunate enough to have received from our inspirational Facebook community. These stories expressed the patience and hope needed to rebuild your life after abuse, and we heard from survivors in all different stages of healing. Some shared their feelings on whether or not they’d want another relationship. Many spoke about how important it is to spend time focusing on yourself and your own pursuits and learning to love yourself.

We’re so thankful for everyone who was able to share their personal stories with us, and we hope that reading these will inspire courage and hope, no matter what your situation may be.


Today we’re continuing to share these inspirational stories, with a focus on survivors who have found love after abuse and are starting a new chapter of their lives with a partner.

Melissa’s Story

I am a survivor of both sexual and domestic abuse.

I’ve been with my love for 3 years now… 2 years after I left a long, emotionally and physically abusive relationship that I cycled through for almost 6 years. The man I love today is the most gentle, loving, caring and supportive man I have ever met. He showed me that there are good guys who do nice things just because they are nice and they love and resort women.

I had found a rare gem of a loving man. I asked him to be official and we’ve been together ever since. He’s supported my return to college (I graduate this May!!!) as well as supported me emotionally as I continue to deal with the lasting effects of the abuse I have experienced in my life.

He has never once raised his voice, or his hand. He doesn’t have one aggressive bone in his body. In 3 years we have never had a fight, we have discussions. Finding love after abuse has been the miracle I’ve been waiting for my whole life…  I found love when I wasn’t even looking and life has been So Amazing since.

Andrea’s Story

I did! I am so blessed to have found such a kind, loving and patient man who loves me and my children. When I was with my abuser, I dreamt of being with someone that was loving and affectionate. Somehow, this dream has become a reality and I am thankful everyday that he is in my life.

Celeste’s Story

I got married a year and a half after I left my abuser. I know my worth and don’t let anyone or anything take me to a place where I can’t grow or prosper. I learned the value of the word NO. No, I can’t do that because it’s not in line with my goals. Or, no, that just isn’t true. I love the me I am today, but am really excited about the me I am becoming.

Curtis’s Story

It took time to discover who I really was – uncover the “real me” beneath the abuse. I started this process before leaving my abuser and it gave me the strength to realize that I had a better life head of me.

Now that I am comfortable with who I am and what I want to do with my life, I have found that I am able to love. I have an amazing partner who is my best friend. I feel free to express myself however I want to – through dance, song, jokes, and general happiness – and I feel respected in my thoughts and opinions. I truly believe that we are equals, that we compliment each other, and that our individual strengths and weaknesses are complimentary… not curses.

I think of her happiness regularly, and see how well it supplements my own happiness. After more than two years and countless struggles with my former spouse in court, we still have “young love”. Thank you for being my rock, my soft place, and my everything, Candice!

Shanna’s Story

I left my abusive ex-husband five years ago. My kids and I spent time in a DV shelter until we could get back on our feet. For a while, I felt like I had lost everything.

I married a wonderful, kind, caring, patient man last year. We still have to deal with my ex on a fairly consistent basis. It doesn’t strain our relationship, which is amazing to me. He helps me know that I am not the person my ex led me to believe I was. Re-finding myself after the years of horror I lived through has been a stressful, freeing, exciting journey.

Julie’s Story

A long road, but worth the journey. Yes, I did remarry 13 years after leaving my abuser.

Donna’s Story

I have had an amazing man for 7 years!! He is kind, never puts me down, very supportive, never calls me names or abuses, not jealous and so much more!!! I could not imagine life without him!! Thank god I am free!!

Teresa’s Story

I was in an abusive marriage for nearly 19 years. It took me a good year or more to PLAN my escape. And another 2 years to have the divorce completed after safely separating (moved all the way from New Jersey to Arizona with 2 teens and a toddler). Happy to say, that I found a wonderful man and we have been married 7 years. Who knew life could be so peaceful?

Connie’s Story

Yes, I did. We have just celebrated our 10th anniversary this year!

Lizz’s Story

YES! I was in an abusive relationship/marriage for 14-years. The abuse I suffered was not kind. I literally ran for my life from that relationship on August 24, 2001. I’ve never looked back. It was a couple of years before I dated… I needed to get back to being ME before I could even think of a relationship.

On a fluke I met a wicked nice, funny, hard working, loving, kind man online. Flew from SoCal to NH to meet him. Spent two weeks together. Came back out a month later for a week. Two months later I moved to NH for good. I feel like I was one of the lucky ones. Got out alive and found a wonderful man. Life is good.

Jennifer’s Story

I did. My wonderful husband and I have been together 8 years, married 6 1/2.

life after abuse

Shared Voices: Your Stories of Life After Abuse

Those who have left an abusive relationship many times come face to face with new challenges and a complicated healing and recovery process. Last month we explored this topic of life after abuse and asked our Facebook community to share their own experiences finding happiness with a new partner.

The responses were powerful and enlightening. We heard from survivors in all stages of recovery. Many shared messages of their courage and openness to try to find love again, and we were reminded that rebuilding your life after abuse can take time and space.


Here are some survivors who shared their unique stories of hope and patience:

Kathy’s Story

It took a great amount of time to heal after being with someone of that nature. But, not everyone is a bad person so hopefully one day I will meet a kind person.

Mary’s Story

6 yrs later, I have not found happiness with a new partner… I’m still trying to be happy with myself first.

Ashley’s Story

I still haven’t found anyone after my 2 divorces, but for the past 2 years now I’ve come to see it is alright to just let go and allow the healing to flow. I still have a hard time with nightmares and flash backs, I’ve just barely been able to be around coworker males when they use knives for jobs we do. But the progress is steady. One day I hope to be blessed with a loving partner as well. But for now, I am just going to care for me.

Bethann’s Story

I was in an abusive relationship for two years. It’ll be a year next month since I left. While I haven’t found a “new love”, I have started dating again. I’m positive I will find someone worthy of my time and love someday though.

Johanna’s Story

I don’t have a partner but I’m really happy being single, my son is the only love of my life right now. After a really bad relationship, a relationship is not in my plans for a while. But I trust God one day I am going to find a good person for me and my son.

Anna’s Story

I am so much calmer, and have emotional energy for my kids now to be the example I have wanted to be. Before, I was just so busy trying to survive — I was often short with them or emotionally unavailable. Now, I show them everyday what awesome kids they are, and how to live happily and peacefully. It is hard being a single mom, but it was much, much harder being an abused mom!


We also received many stories from survivors who have found focusing on their own personal goals and happiness to be an important part of the healing process.

Katrina’s Story           

It has been nine years. I didn’t find a partner yet but by choice. I did however go to work at a domestic violence shelter, earned a bachelors, then my masters and now I am a licensed social worker who specializes in therapy with trauma/domestic violence/sexual assault. It has been nine years of recovery as a single mom with five kids but I am here to say it can be done!

It has been a journey for sure. Of my five children 2 are in college and one graduates this year to go to college. 2 of the 3 are earning social work degrees and the third one is looking at political science/policy setting. Education is empowerment.

I was fresh out of my marriage and trying to make sense of it all. I became a volunteer advocate (DV and SA) then later the Children’s Program Coordinator. I worked up from there! My initial framework and knowledge base that I learned as a volunteer has shaped my entire role as a therapist. Don’t give up!!! I know it seems forever but now I look back and never ever would have believed I would have been here! I was a stay at home mother in a rural area, cloaked with religion as a reason to stay and completely under his thumb. Today I am independent and so much happier. Hang in there!!!

And happiness did follow! Every time I take the kids to the park or movies without fear, every time we can stay up late or sleep in, without fear… every time I can speak to somebody without fear… happiness abounds!

Christina’s Story

I’ve been single for four years now since I’ve left my abuser. A little bit of dating here & there, but I enjoy being single & learning to love myself so that my daughter can have a happy mother that doesn’t believe that she always has to be in a relationship to be happy or successful. I do have to say I’m a lot happier & healthier. Take time for yourself to enjoy your own company and learn. Share that with your children if you have kids and embrace it. You have plenty of time to meet someone. There’s no rush and even if you never meet someone, it’s better to be single and happy than in a relationship and miserable! Keep loving, keep fighting.

Andrea’s Story

I have not, however I did fall into the wonderful arms of a great job that allows me to support my 4 wonderful boys, and my own personal dreams both professionally and personally. Life is beyond anything I ever imagined.

Marissa’s Story

Finding happiness isn’t always through finding someone else. I haven’t found love yet, but I have become a nurse and am continuing with my master’s degree. Freedom to make one’s own choices and being independent is such a reward.

amandas story

Life and Love After Abuse: Amanda’s Story

Last month, we took to Facebook to discuss life after an abusive relationship. We asked the community to share their own stories, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Survivors shared their uplifting experiences of finding love and starting over after abuse, and there was no shortage of support and encouraging messages for those struggling to heal.

Today we’re excited to publish Amanda’s story, which details her journey from a victim of domestic violence to an empowered new bride. We hope you are as inspired at her strength and hopeful spirit as we are. A very special thanks to Amanda for having the courage to share her experience with us.


In response to your Facebook post: I am one of those who found love after abuse.

I was married to a physically, emotionally and sexual abusive man for five years — I was choked, beaten, thrown into walls, raped and made to feel completely worthless. In March 2010, I incorporated my “safety plan” and left my husband.

From March 2010 through March 2011 (while my divorce was going on), I spent A LOT of time reading books on domestic violence, reading blogs of survivors, researching information on websites like yours and also working closely with a therapist. I just read and learned everything I could about domestic violence as I knew that I wanted to one day be in a healthy relationship and not stay trapped in the “cycle.” I wanted to become a healthy and happy domestic violence survivor.

In April 2011, I was asked out on a date by a man that I had known from a distance. I was terrified to trust again (yes, even if it was just a little date), but I knew from all of the research that I had done that he was a good and honest man. Our first dinner date turned into a picnic and hike which turned into several more weeks of dating which lead to us becoming “a couple.”

Being part of “a couple” — in a healthy relationship — was amazing and terrifying at the same. Amazing because I forgot how wonderful a healthy relationship was, but terrifying because I was afraid that (A) something in our relationship would cause him to “turn” and (B) I was afraid my ex would come after me or my boyfriend. However, through all of my healing and research, I knew that option “A” wasn’t going to happen. And thankfully, option “B” didn’t happen either.

Through this relationship, I learned what a real man was — real men treat you with complete respect. They are caring, gentle and kind. They love you for who you are — your likes, dislikes, goals and ideas. They will NEVER EVER hurt you physically, emotionally or sexually. And one of the most important things, especially for a domestic violence survivor, is that they are patient with you. I can’t tell you how many times I had to either stop doing something, leave a place or just needed to be comforted due to some “trigger” from my past. A real man will be there for you, he will help you heal by showing you what real love is.

Two years later, on March 30th, 2013, I got to marry this absolutely amazing man. I have a husband that I (once) never thought existed. My marriage is wonderful, it’s free of abuse, or fear. Our home is our a happy place, filled with love.

Finding love, or even being willing to trust someone, after being in an abusive relationship is extremely scary. I do believe that my key to “finding love” was allowing myself time to heal, to grieve and to learn as much as possible about abusive personalities and what healthy relationships consist of.

The photo here is from our recent wedding — yes, I’m a blissful bride. And I’m so thankful that I can say that I HAVE found love after abuse!

*Photo credit: Kristen Eson, Arden Photography

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

A Letter To My Daughter About Fighting Back

Parents naturally want to shield their children from pain. But what happens when a parent’s own painful past can provide guidance to their child? Should that trauma be revisited? In today’s post, our talented guest writer, Sarah Tuttle-Singer, does just that, as she shares with her daughter the lessons she learned through leaving a terrifying relationship.

In this brave letter, Sarah opens up about a trusted partner turning violent. Sarah tells the story of her abuse, from the first, “This isn’t happening” to the final assurance to her daughter, “It didn’t happen again.”

We’re delighted to share this incredibly powerful piece with you. We hope you find courage in Sarah’s words and are reminded that your voice, and your story, matter.

This piece originally appeared on Kveller.com. For more personal essays from Jewish women and mothers, sign up for their free newsletter.


To My Darling Daughter,

I watch your eyes glow when the kids in preschool want to play with you. I see how it matters to you what they say and how they smile.

I watch your bottom lip tremble when someone hurts your feelings.

And I watch you on the playground–your face flushed, and your breath staggered as you chase the child that was mean to you. I know you, and I know you are blaming yourself for their bad behavior.

I know you are trying to get a second chance at friendships not worth having.

You are so much like me that it takes my breath away.

Please. Don’t be this way.

And this is why I am telling you this story–in bits and pieces. Starting now, and ending when you’re older and we can sit down together over a glass of wine and really talk.

Before I met your father, I lived with someone else.

Things were very, very good–we’d eat Chinese takeout together and watch The Simpsons. We’d go for walks at midnight, holding hands and watching our breath mingle in the piercing night. We’d share a lemon chicken hot dog with sauerkraut, and smoke a bowl, and laugh and laugh and laugh.

We shared an apartment with big windows facing the San Francisco Bay. If you stood on the arm of the couch, you could see the Bay Bridge. I hung Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” over our bed. We were going to get married. We were going to have children.

And then, two years later, something changed.

It wasn’t subtle. It wasn’t slow. It was an immediate about-face that started one night–although I can’t remember how. Something about money? Something about work?

But it happened. A cruelness slithered across his face, and took hold. And I was stunned to respond. I thought I could fix it. I thought I could fix him.

But it got worse. Because it always gets worse.

You ask me why I don’t like cats, my darling daughter. I used to love cats. I had two of them when I lived with this man. And when the cats got fleas, I watched him dunk their furry bodies into the bathtub, and when they hissed and clawed, terrified out of their soaked skins, he hurdled them against the wall. I bit my knuckles until they bled. I watched him take them away that night–still wet and shivering. I didn’t ask what happened to them.

(I know what happened to them.)

And. It got worse. This time in subtle degrees that infiltrated every moment, every breath.

“This isn’t happening,” a voice whispered in my head when he took my keys away and said I could only come home when he was home.

“This isn’t happening,” a voice whispered in my head when he made a list of the people he no longer wanted me to talk to, including close friends from childhood, and a family member.

“This isn’t happening,” a voice whispered in my head when he dangled the pearl necklace my parents had given me for my 21st birthday in front of me, and said, “You bitch, if you don’t get into a good law school, I am going to break this necklace or give it to the first hot girl I see.”

He’d grab my wrist. He’d pinch my arm. He’d shove me out of the way when I’d reach for him.

And then.

“This isn’t going to happen again,” I said out loud in an empty train car, hours after he kneeled over me, the palm of his hand pressing my windpipe until the light narrowed into a single exquisite spark.

And then.

“This isn’t going to happen again,” I said as I cringed when I lifted my sore arm, my fingers still numb from what he had done to me.

And I had nothing in my purse but the leftovers of the 20 dollars he gave me that previous Monday–just like he did every Monday before I’d leave to catch my train.

“Here’s your allowance,” he’d joke.

But it wasn’t funny. Because I was so dependent on him. (We were learning about how to literalize a metaphor in a comp lit class I was taking. And I remember thinking that it was too bad I couldn’t give my professor this example.)

And while I sat in that empty train car, I remembered a Monday morning a few months before, how I’d reached for my “allowance” to buy a train ticket, and how it’d slipped from my fingers and fallen down down down through the sewer grate. I had fallen hard to my knees, and tore a nail as I tried to pry the grate loose. Because it didn’t matter to me that below flowed a river of piss and shit. All that mattered was that I had lost my $20.00 and I had to get it back.

Or else.

“This isn’t going to happen again,” I said a little louder. To myself alone.

And it didn’t happen again. Because something broke inside me then, and I only returned to that apartment with the big windows with a friend to pick up my things when I knew he was at work.

And it didn’t happen again because I finally opened my mouth and started telling people what had happened.

And it didn’t happen again because saying these words out loud made it real–and I could see with brutal clarity that it was up to me to not let it happen.

But all that time wasted. The low-grade panic, punctuated by bursts of random violence. All that time wasted being prodded along down a path by someone I trusted. All that time wasted, wasting away.

Don’t be like this.

Don’t be dependent on how others treat you. You are strong, and brave, and wonderful, and kind.

Stand up for yourself.

Fight back if you have to.

I learned all of this by living it. And I don’t want you to learn like this, because while I was lucky enough to walk away with my two legs and my body intact, we shouldn’t tempt fate.

I didn’t plan on telling you this. But I see how similar we are–I see your softness, your kindness. I see how you forgive so easily–too easily–when someone is mean to you.

It’s wonderful to be kind. It’s wonderful to be compassionate. But within reason, darling daughter. Within reason.

So, be badass. Be brave. If someone is mean to you, then good riddance. And don’t wait for them to walk away. YOU walk away.

And for the rest of your life–whether I’m around or not–it’s my job to protect you by teaching you how to protect yourself.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Francesca’s Story

* Note from The Hotline: Special thanks to Francesca for bravely sharing her story with us.*

Living with a man like my ex-husband is like having a gun pointed at your head every single day, and you just don’t know when the gun is going to go off.

I am writing to tell my story – of how I have been a victim and survivor of repeated, relentless domestic violence – and to bring the weaknesses in the justice system and the general lack of knowledge in the community about domestic violence to your attention.

I married my ex-husband in October of 2005 thinking that he was a kind, gentle, compassionate, and caring man. Not until I was pregnant with our child did I see his true character. When I was about six months pregnant, he slapped me across my face, leaving me with a black eye and knocking me to the ground. Luckily nothing happened to my baby, but the abuse did not end there. At the time, I was living in Ecuador. I was trapped and scared.

My daughter was born in June of 2007, and we traveled to the U.S. permanently in August of 2007. Once there he did not hold back. Just three weeks after arriving in the U.S., there had already been three calls made to the police on domestic disputes, and he was arrested after battering me while I had our infant daughter in my arms. As I tried to call 9-1-1, he ripped the phone cord out of the wall. He threatened me that if I testified against him that he would kill me, and I believed him.

Rape was a regular occurrence in our home, and I cannot count the number of times I laid in bed crying as he raped me. He also strangled me on a regular basis, slammed my head into the walls of our home, leaving large holes, tortured me sexually, mentally, psychologically, and ruined me financially.

He hit our three your old daughter in the face, leaving a large bruise, then kept her home from day care for several days until the bruise was no longer visible. He put her head through our bathroom wall, which was reported to the Illinois DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services). DCFS decided that he did, in fact, abuse our daughter, but they did not pursue the case any further.

I tried so hard to protect her from him, but every time he would hit her, I would step in, and receive my own beating on her behalf. I did not report it since I was sure he would kill me or kidnap my daughter if I did.

Perhaps one of the worst parts of this whole story is that he almost killed me. Actually, he did kill me, but thankfully doctors were able to revive me. In this particular incident we were involved in a heated discussion because I had to leave Ecuador to return to the U.S. for medical school and my graduate work in biochemistry. He had not obtained a visa to come to the U.S. at that point, and threatened to divorce me if I did not stay with him in Ecuador. He grabbed my wrists, screamed at me, and then threatened me with a screwdriver. I walked home knowing that I would divorce him, and knowing that I had a flight back to the U.S. in about three days. I laid down to take a nap, and did not wake up until four days later.

I was on a ventilator in the hospital, and they informed me that I had undergone cardiac arrest on several occasions. The coma was so profound that I received the lowest rating on the Glasgow coma scale. It is truly a miracle that I survived.

It is my firm belief that my ex-husband poisoned me with scopolamine, a common date rape drug in parts of Latin America. He called my medical school and told them I had tried to kill myself, instead of giving them the true story, which then led to me being expelled from school. He has sabotaged my career, my jobs, did not allow me to have any friends or family in my life, destroyed my home and beat my pets

When I have told my story to friends and family, a few people’s reaction is to ask why I didn’t leave sooner, or they simply don’t believe me at all. It is a shock to me how undereducated the public is on domestic violence.

People do not understand how difficult it is to escape. It is almost impossible to gather evidence, because the abuser will find a way to destroy it. No one on the outside knows what is happening because the abuser has the victim trapped and alone. He cuts her off from all outside interaction, and attempts to control her mind, and in many cases, he is successful.

If a woman does manage to escape, the justice system does little to help or protect her. I have had a domestic violence advocate tell me that there is only a 50/50 chance that someone will get convicted of domestic battery in my county, even in cases where there are bloody pictures, good witnesses, hospital reports, and other evidence. This is why women cannot simply just walk out the door. It is a real life or death risk to leave a man that believes he owns you. You could, and many have, die in the process. 4 out of 5 deaths due to domestic battery occur when a woman tries to leave.

I am asking for your help to educate the public on these issues. Women are beaten every day by their husbands, and it is a misdemeanor. You can get a felony charge for getting in a bar fight, but if you beat your wife, the justice system is sending a message that you will only get a slap on the wrist, if even that.

One of the most difficult problems I think battered women and children face is that the abuser isolates the victim to the point where most of the time there are no eyewitnesses. Because of this, it makes these cases very difficult to prosecute, but even worse, it makes the state’s attorney’s office reluctant to even pursue it because they see it as a waste of money and resources.

Domestic violence is NOT a family matter. It is everyone’s business. It affects us all even if we are not directly abused. Women should be able to speak out against their abusers. They should be able to bring their abusers to justice. The public should be educated about what it means to be battered, and why it is so difficult to escape. With stiffer punishments, and better prevention, many women would be able to leave sooner. PLEASE help me and all women fight for what is fundamentally right.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

It Happened on Maple Street

This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. It is “The Writing of Maple Street: Part Four” by Tara Taylor Quinn.

I am so glad to be here. To be able to bring others here to a place where women truly are safe.

For so many years I didn’t believe I was worthy of a place like this. I believed my problems were of my own making. I take accountability for my actions. I am responsible for my life. And so I believed that the things that happened to me happened because I’d somehow made them happen. I’d created the circumstances that allowed others to mistreat me. I wasn’t a victim. I was simply paying the price for the poor choices I’d made. I couldn’t possibly take help away from those who deserved it by seeking that help for myself.

I am a USA Today bestselling romance author, you see. I’ve published fifty-five books with the world’s largest publisher of women’s fiction. My books are in twenty some languages in over thirty countries. I have a dream career. I am a success. Or so I told myself all those years. In reality, Tara Taylor Quinn, my alter ego, the woman inside of me who came to my rescue when Tara couldn’t handle the things happening to her, was a success. Tara was the girl who spent her time trapped in the little room inside of me. She ventured out to seep into the pages of my books. To love a child with all of my heart. And the rest of the time, she didn’t let anyone know she existed.

My journey is much like many of the women who are abused by those who vow undying love for them. I know that now. My epiphany is twenty-seven years late. And in the interim, I spent twenty-seven years of a lifetime living a lie. Twenty-seven years without peace in my heart. Twenty-seven years filled with moments of intermittent happiness mixed in with fear and panic, silence and hiding.

I am a lucky woman. I knew true love before abuse. The man I shared that love with was not my abuser. And when, twenty-seven years later, my true love, Tim Barney, came back into my life, it was that love, his love, the whole hearted love I’d felt for him before my heart had been shoved into a cement cask, that brought me out of the darkness and into he light. My true love knew that something horrible had happened to me. He could see the changes abuse had wrought. And he wasn’t willing to accept my silence. With his tender and gentle support, I spoke of something I’d never spoken of before. To anyone. One tentative step at a time, I came out, a little girl squinting against the glare of the sun, and trusted him with my truth.

I am four years post squint as I write this today. I am now married to my true love. Last summer we were asked to write our story. And today that story, It Happened On Maple Street, goes on sale. Today, for the first time, my family and friends will hear the truth about my life. Today, I think about the writing of that truth.

I had to do it alone. I knew that. I had to be strong enough to travel backward, to look at things I’d refused to think about, things shut so firmly away I wasn’t even sure I could still call them up in enough detail to write about them. Tim had a business trip coming up and I knew that was my time to write the hardest section of It Happened On Maple Street. He wasn’t in that part of the story. I also knew that I could not be at home alone while taking the trip into the past. And…I was long past due for a visit with my dearest friend, fellow writer, Patricia Potter. Pat welcomed me with open arms and a hospitality that I cannot describe for its goodness. Even now, I think of her home and know that the world holds a place that embodies emotional wellness, safety, and peace.

And for three days I sat on Pat’s couch with my laptop on my knees, my four pound poodle, who’d traveled with me, sleeping beside me, Pat’s two wild Indians whom I adore (rescue Australian Shepherds) close by, and Pat floating in and out of the room like some kind of angel, watching over us all. And when I got to the most painful scene, one where the details were blissfully sketchy, Pat sat in the seat perpendicular to mine and did not leave. I put on my headphones. I went down into the story. And by the time I came back up, I was trembling. I couldn’t breathe. The brain is a frightening thing. It lets you forget, on a conscious level, but it doesn’t ever let go of what it knows. As I went back in time, to the spring of 1980, it was as though I was there again. The details were clear. Vivid. I’d halfway convinced myself that what I’d thought happened back then really hadn’t, because I couldn’t logically figure out the logistics. After that night, sitting on Pat’s couch, I can no longer pretend. It happened. And I remember exactly how it happened. I also now know why I suffer so badly from claustrophobia.

Pat brought me a glass of wine. I sipped. But not much. I was afraid to let the alcohol take any measure of my control. And she sat with me. She asked, a time or two, if I was through. And when I finally told her that, yes, it was done, she sat with me some more. We talked some. I couldn’t say much. I was still feeling the pain. Trying to process the feelings of an eighteen year old girl as a more mature woman. Trying to find some kind of synchronization of myself. Trying not to cry. Because I knew that if those tears started to fall they would never stop.

I didn’t cry much then. I couldn’t. But when I got home and Tim asked me to read to him what I’d written, I couldn’t make it through. I read. And I had to stop. He sat with me, patient as ever, and waited. It was as though he knew I had to get through this telling of the whole story, the remembered parts, to him. It couldn’t be as removed as him reading my words. And it was also as if he really believed I could get through it. And because I thought he believed I could, because I trust him, I started to read again.

Tim, here. I can’t let Tara do this all alone. I didn’t have to contribute writing to the Part Four process, but I’ll tell you where I was at with it. My feelings about what had happened to Tara came to life when I actually had to hear about and read about the event. I couldn’t imagine what Tara felt when she had to write about it after 25 plus years. I wanted to fix things. I was angry for her. And I wrote to the university where things first happened and told them that they’d messed up. They hadn’t kept their student safe. They had made a situation where she felt safe, but didn’t make sure she was safe. I heard back from them soon after that. They’d changed a lot of their rules and now provide a lot of extra patrol and watch programs for their female students. Mostly, after hearing Tara’s words, I felt closer to her because now we could share her pain together.

And now Tara’s back.

You see, I’m a lucky woman. I am no longer alone. And no else needs to be alone, either. If there is no one else close, no one you can trust, if you need someone, contact someone right here, on this site. They are available twenty four hours a day seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. Violence doesn’t punch a time clock and neither does love.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.

All blog commenter’s are added to the weekly basket list.  Gift Basket given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Bookmarks

To follow today’s Cyber Blog Party:

Part One:  MIRA Authors
Part Two:  HCI Books
Part Three:  RomCon
Part Four:  National Domestic Violence Hotline
Part Five:  Chapter’s Books
Part Six:  Border’s Books

 As part of the It Happened on Maple Street Blog Tour, we are offering National Domestic Violence Hotline bookmarks. Print yours today.

We will be giving away a copy of It Happened On Maple Street while we’re here so be sure to comment to be entered to win.  Comment on all six of today’s blogs and be entered to win a one of a kind Maple Street collectible basket filled with Tim and Tara favorites!!

Next tour stop, Saturday April 2, Deena Remiel’s Place.

About the author: Tara Taylor Quinn is the author of It Happened on Maple Street (HCA, 2011, $13.95). To get your copy, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com. Also available on Kindle and Nook.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

From Survivor to Mountaineer

By Kathleen Schmidt

My name is Kathleen Schmidt, and I’m a survivor of domestic violence and abuse. I fled for my life over 15 years ago from extreme emotional and physical abuse, and created a new life for myself.

When I was living in a shelter for battered women, I kept telling myself over and over, “I have a brain, two hands, two feet and I know how to work; I WILL make my life better.” I chose to become a victor instead of a victim.  Books became my source of education and inspiration, and not only did I work on my own healing, I also had to find a way to earn a living. Not shy of hard work, I at one point sold pictures out of the trunk of my car. My efforts paid off, and it won me a trip to the Bahamas that allowed me to dive with sharks (I learned how to scuba dive while living in the shelter).

I entertained the idea for a very long time, since I lived in the shelter, to write my story. So finally, after many years needed to grow and heal, I wrote my little blue book “Escaping the Glass Cage: A Story of Survival & Empowerment from Domestic Violence.” It isn’t a big book, but something a woman in crisis can read and find encouragement in. I wrote it for women in shelters, but my hope is that it also helps those on the outside get a basic understanding of domestic violence and its effects.  But getting my book published didn’t feel like enough.

I wanted to find a way to reach more people on a global scale. So I created “Project Empowerment,” a blog talk radio show dedicated to empowering survivors of domestic violence and abuse, as well as others. I truly believe we each have a voice, and if people are able to listen to another’s story, it can help them make different choices and empower them to live a better life.

My guests have included Betty Makoni, Top 10 CNN Hero of the Year for 2009 for her humanitarian work rescuing rape victims in Zimbabwe. I’ve also interviewed actress/author Mariel Hemingway, as well as the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s Operations Director, Katie-Ray Jones. My guests have also included many shelter directors from all over the world, authors, psychotherapists, counselors and survivors, each sharing their story, their passion and the work they are doing to make our world a better place. We talk about the tough subjects, and at the end of each show we share our ideas of solutions to the issues discussed, such as why the victim stays, where do abused men get help, how a can victim get help to rebuild their life, and how we can empower the children.

It is humbling to be contacted by listeners from all around the world, to learn the vital resources shared and how their sheer willpower helped them gain the strength to leave their abuser. My dream to build “Project Empowerment” into a global resource tool is coming true.

But again, I felt there needed to be something else to raise awareness. So I am very excited to announce “Climb for Empowerment,” with the mission to empower survivors of domestic violence and abuse … one step at a time. I will be climbing Mt. Rainier September 1–3, 2011, in honor of all those who have struggled to start their lives over.

It is by choice, to take one step after another. My dream is to show the world that if I can make a new life, so can you, one step at a time. I know how hard it is to rebuild a life. It takes a lot of courage to start over, learn how to live again and grow through the pain. So this climb is a symbol of that growth. It takes time, training and a lot of determination to do this, and I will need your support. Donations will be shared between Girl Child Network Worldwide and The Pixel Project. Both are global initiatives working very hard to help end violence against women.

I truly believe that all healing and empowerment begins from within. And for us to have peace in our world, we must first have peace within our homes, within ourselves. If you can find that spark, that driving force that pulls you in the direction of doing something bigger than you, listen to it. We each have a voice, we each can make a difference in the world, and it all starts with us.

To learn more about my work, Project Empowerment, Climb for Empowerment and upcoming Empowerment Workshops (New!), you can visit my website at www.kathleenmschmidt.com.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

By Lisa Moss

Why doesnt she leave PicHi. My name is Lisa, and I am a survivor of domestic violence. I am so grateful I could change my life, and I want to help others do the same.

I kept a journal from the last years of my marriage and had it published as Why Doesn’t She Just Leave? The title is a question I’ve heard countless times, and you probably have too. It implies that it couldn’t be that bad, or we’d just leave. My journal shows the truth through real experiences, in my own words, and will help people understand why victims don’t just leave.

I also hope that victims will read it, see themselves in me, and realize that they too can get out and change their lives. Readers will see what it’s like to be treated so cruelly that you just about give up. Why don’t we just leave? Because we’re afraid of the perpetrator’s cruelty, violence, and punishments, and because we feel defeated.

You’ll probably see a lot of yourself in my diary. Why don’t we just leave? It’s because our batterers are cruel and will punish us and our kids, and because we’re afraid. They’ve made us feel helpless and worthless, and we believe them. I used to believe what he told me: that everything was my fault, that I was disgusting and nobody would ever want me, that I would lose my children and become penniless if I left him, that I was stupid and crazy and pathetic and worse. But he was wrong!

For those women who are still living with your abuser, start thinking “Liar!” every time he insults or blames you. The truth is that you deserve a better life! If I could change my life and transform myself from victim to victor, you can, too!

I hope you’ll feel free to check out excerpts from the book as well as reader reviews. And if you know either a victim who needs encouragement, someone who judges victims, or someone who doesn’t understand why victims don’t just leave, please consider letting them know about the book.

It’s been a slow victory and years later I still suffer from the after-effects of 13 years in hell, but it’s getting better and better all the time.

Please let me know what you think and feel as you read Why Doesn’t She Just Leave? I hope that my book will make you feel that if I, a woman probably very much like you, could get away from my abuser and change my life, you can too.

I wish every survivor and victim the wonderful life you deserve!

About the author: Lisa Moss is the author of Why Doesn’t She Just Leave (IUniverse, 2001, $24.95) You can purchase a copy of the book here.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Tornado Warning: Author Shares Her Experience

By Elin Stebbins Waldal

If you have ever experienced a single event which later would serve as the catalyst for you to take action, then it may come as no surprise to you that I owe thanks to Stephanie Meyer, the author of The Twilight Series, because her books provided that very inspiration for me to take action in my own life.

As I sat with the closed cover of Breaking Dawn on my lap in December of 2008, it was clear a seed had been planted inside me. A seed, which soon would germinate, root, and take hold. A seed which two years later would bear fruit in a book — the telling of my story, Tornado Warning, A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life.

Given Stephanie Meyer openly shares with all who visit her website that a dream served as inspiration for her first book, I think it is safe to say that she did not write the Twilight Series as a means to educate young people on the subject of teen dating.

In contrast to the dream that Meyer describes, for me, the 2,739 pages of fiction woke me up to the buried emotions left from the relationship that nearly cost me my life when I was a late teen. That experience has forever left an imprint on me. To this day, I remember what it was like to realize I had lost myself — the essence of who I had been prior to meeting that boyfriend of so many years ago.

No, he was not a vampire with fabulous looks, nor did he have a bank account that was bottomless, or the ability to materialize every time I was in danger. In fact quite the opposite was true. My boyfriend was a human being. He was average to look at, some might even say he had a kind face and sweet smile, but behind those green eyes and dimples was a storm of violence. The danger I found myself in was due to his brutal behavior. His unhappy upbringing fueled a very tortured soul; his response was to possess me. Possession that controls, possession whose power hurts, nearly kills.

Tornado Warning shares with the reader the subtle erosion of self that occurs in an abusive relationship via journal entries of the teen I was. Woven between the journal entries are reflections of my life decades later where I explore with a backward glance the well-worn path I have traveled; from strong teenage girl turned victim, to victim turned survivor, survivor turned mother, mother turned advocate.

Tornado Warning is my voice, and it joins the chorus of the many pioneers who have endured, survived, and freed themselves from the cyclone of abuse. It is now my mission to shine a ray of hope into the lives of those who have been ripped from the very base of who they were. I am living proof that victims of abuse can be survivors, capable of first reclaiming the essence of who they are, then embracing their future and a life free from violence.

About the author: Elin Stebbins Waldal is the author of Tornado Warning, A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life (Sound Beach Publishing, 2011, $14.95). She is an inspirational speaker, writer, and the founder of Girls kNOw More, an organization dedicated to building confidence in middle school girls. She is also a Love Is Not Abuse Coalition California State Action Leader working to pass legislation that would require schools to teach dating violence awareness curriculum. Elin lives in Southern California with her husband Jimmy, three children, and their family dog.

Signed copies of Tornado Warning are available through her website at www.elinstebbinswaldal.com.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

It’s Not Her Fault

by Christina Owens

You see her every day – in the street, in the supermarket and even at work. She’s the woman who wears long sleeves during the summer, sunglasses inside and keeps to herself. She wears a smile on the outside, but her sad eyes tell of another life; her secret life. No one knows how difficult her life is at home. She is ridiculed, she is told she’s good for nothing, she is yelled at for everything she does or doesn’t do, she generally does very few things right and, as a result, is “punished” by the same man who tells her every night that he loves her. She is afraid for her life at home, but more afraid to leave. She is stuck.

Any woman can find herself in these situations: situations where she is stuck, situations that aren’t her fault, situations where she is the victim of domestic violence. She can’t leave. Leaving puts her in more danger than staying and enduring the abuse that she has come to know. Leaving means starting over; being strong and she thinks that she is weak. She doesn’t know how to take the first step or even if she wants to. Although being a victim of domestic violence isn’t what she had planned for her life, it’s her reality and it’s what she knows.

Many outsiders say things like, “If I were her, I would just leave.” And that’s exactly what she thought she would do too. But the first time he struck her, it was an accident. He didn’t mean to and he apologized for it again and again and promised it was an isolated incident. She forgave him; after all, he was the love of her life. And it seemed like it was an isolated incident. Until three months later, when he struck her again, but this time it was her fault – that’s the lie she believed. Maybe if she had been better at cooking or at cleaning or if she had left the office earlier to avoid the traffic jam, he wouldn’t have gotten so angry. He apologized again and she forgave him again, telling herself she would be better to him. She loves him and believes that he loves her. She has learned all the excuses to make for him and she believes all of his lies. It’s definitely more complicated than “just leaving.” He controls every aspect of her life. She does things out of fear, she isn’t the woman she wanted to be, but she doesn’t know how to become that woman.

Instead of asking, “Why doesn’t she leave?” try asking, “Why doesn’t the abuser stop being violent?” LOVE IS RESPECT.

*Thank you Christina for sharing this moving portrait of a victim. Your words will help others*