Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Got Stalker? #domesticviolence

It only makes sense - one of the best ways to avoid a relationship fraught with domestic violence is to not get involved with a person who is obsessive and/or controlling in the first place.

But we've been taught (especially women) to be "nice" to people. We're blamed (often by ourselves!) for being raped, hit, abused, or stalked, because we must have done something wrong, we must have created the situation, somehow. Handled it wrong - or be "misinterpreting" the person who is terrorizing us.

Guest post by Karen Girard.

Need to know

The first time I was stalked, I didn't really have words to describe what was happening. Neither did anyone else.

I was 21 and finishing college when the calls started. The man asked if it was me, then he hung up. If my roommates answered, he hung up. Crank calls were dork humor, so we screened our calls.

The switch

I graduated, started a new job, and moved to a great apartment nearby. Because I had moved within the same area, the local Bell Telephone automatically switched the number – and my stalker – to my new apartment.

Now that I was alone, he terrorized me. The calls came at random times as he figured out my new habits. He'd call at 6 a.m., asking why I wasn't up for work. He kept me off balance, but I kept things to myself.

When I finally told my boyfriend, he asked me why I thought he could do anything. He thought the crank caller was just a sad creep, not a real danger. I tried to believe this, too.

via njaj on freedigitalphotos.bet

Security rituals

The stalker threatened to rape me. My boyfriend still didn't think anything could be done, but my father insisted I call the police and the phone company.

Two serious policemen came. One took my statement, while the other inspected my apartment. They told me they couldn’t catch the guy, but I’d be safer if I locked the windows. (Like I hadn’t thought of that already.)

The phone company charged me to de-list my number. When I was out, I wondered if I'd see a flash of recognition in some man's eyes. I hit the pause button inside – I settled into a security ritual of deadbolts and told myself that if did what I was told, I'd be ok.

With friends like these...

One day, my neighbor, whose windows faced mine, offered to cook me to dinner. I accepted, and the dinner was fun.

Then he confessed he loved me and would die if I didn't love him. I gently told him I had a boyfriend. He didn't believe me, so I said my boyfriend worked odd hours, so likely he'd just missed him. I went home, not realizing I'd inspired him to start watching me.

When he saw my lights on, he'd call. (My number was still listed in old phone books.) Even with curtains closed, he knew I was home unless I turned out all the lights. So I stalked my stalkers – I kept the lights off, checked his windows, then turned on my lights if he didn't seem to be home. I checked the answering machine for new rape threats. When he was home, I sat in the dark and filled in grad school applications.

What I didn’t do was call the police. If they weren't going to do anything about a potential rapist, they sure weren’t going to do anything about a guy who “just wanted a date,” though both scared me. I tiptoed through my life.

via sakhorn38 on freedigitalphotos.net

The fugitive

Hiding in my own apartment worked, until it didn't. The grad student realized I knew he was watching, so he waited until a sleepy Sunday, and knocked softly on my door. Unsure I'd heard anything, I opened it. It was stupid, but I was on guard against calls, not knocks.

He grabbed my arm and pulled me to his apartment. I tried to resist, but I wasn't strong enough. He threw himself at me and, weeping, told me how much he loved me again. I carefully backed toward the door, then I ran to my apartment and locked myself in.

I just got used to feeling unsafe, and I lived that way until I left for grad school.

The more things stay the same

Twenty years later, a man walking through my neighborhood complimented me on my garden. The next week, he started shouting outside my house to persuade me to be his girlfriend.

My older, wiser self talked to the neighbors and called the police, who told me they couldn't arrest him for anything, because it would be my word against his. My neighbors, friends, and an unpredictable work schedule kept me safe.

What no one tells you

Relationships, even ones between near-strangers, are built on trust. What no one tells you is that the habits of normal life are the stalker’s greatest power. They make you look like the crazy one by using the unspoken rules against you.

Rape threats are dangerous, but a neighbor asking me out? My friends had successfully turned men down by saying they have boyfriends, but when I did, the man stalked me. I felt like the crazy one, because I thought I must have misread what happened, or my neighbor would have accepted “no” for an answer. What I didn’t know was that saying “no” should have been enough, no explanation needed.

My stalkers taught me I couldn’t truly trust my boyfriend or myself. He didn’t take me seriously, and I wasn’t prepared for that. He was normally quick with answers, yet he shrugged off a life-threatening problem. I loved him, but I struggled with disappointment that he wasn't there for me. It seemed unfair to him to feel disappointed when I wasn’t doing any better stopping my stalkers.

I couldn’t trust our legal and business institutions, either. They’re built around what's normal, too. The police needed more proof than my word. It's hard to legislate boundaries built on words and perceptions, and that puts the burden of proof – of sanity – on the stalkee, not the stalker. "All I did was talk" is the stalker’s first defense, followed by “she’s a little crazy.”

Our companies sell normal. Relationships are built on sharing information, feelings, and experiences. The phone book – and Facebook – bank on what’s normal for people to know about one another. When a stalker violates the norm, they lose money, so they’re reluctant to protect your information – and you.

Maybe this is not the greatest idea.
What no one really tells you – and what you really need to know – is how to say “no.” And what stalkers need to know – and never apparently learn – is how to accept “no” for an answer. For some, normal means not accepting “no.”

Now I accept that some people will never accept “no.” I police my safety carefully and am conservative about giving out information. I'm listed in the phone book – under my initials. I use Facebook to see what my friends are up to, and I'll post the occasional status, but I'll never, ever post where I am right now. That’s strictly need to know.


Karen raises an excellent point above about not accepting "no." Our culture tells stories, many times over, about obsessive men (and women) who persist in the face of "no," and eventually (Hollywood version), they convince the person they are pursuing to love them back, from The Graduate to Forrest Gump to He's Just Not That Into You. Stalkers don't see themselves as creepy weirdos; they see themselves as romantic heroes or heroines.  They know they are destined to be "with" the object of their obsession, one way or another.

The book The Gift of Fear offers excellent suggestions for dealing with stalking by a stranger or acquaintance, and how to say "no" in ways that are unambiguous.  

If you ever feel like are being stalked, do not tell yourself you are being paranoid and try to talk yourself out of your gut feeling. Tell your trusted friends, educate, and protect yourself. While many stalkers will never go further than horrific phone calls or unwelcome declarations of love, others will try to hurt you if they cannot "have" you.  Be safe.

Domestic Violence Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)  TTY- 1-800-787-3224  
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes downloadable guides for helping women in abusive relationships)
RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 1.800.656.HOPE
National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence - you will need to opt for English or French

Women's Aid - 0808 2000 247

Australia & New Zealand:
Domestic Violence Information Manual - phone numbers vary by territory

For Male Victims:
Why Men Stay in Abusive Relationships

Have you ever been stalked?.
Did you feel like it must have been your fault?
What made it stop?

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Mentality of Abuse #domesticviolence

Are you on the bench, when it comes to domestic violence? Guest post by Barbara Hammond.

I’ve written about abuse many times. It was just a part of my life growing up. Observing it and receiving it are both abuse. I’ve told many stories on my blog about the parade of step-fathers in my life  and gone into some detail about the abusive ones.

I’m not a psychologist, and never professed to be, but feel I am an expert at explaining the effects of abuse, which in some small way may help an innocent person gain the strength needed to leave an abusive relationship.

In sports they say the best coaches often come from the ranks of bench warmers. They spend a lot of time observing what works and what doesn’t, which helps them teach new players. Makes sense to me.

In that context I suppose I could be a coach for abused women to help them change their lives.

Sadly, abuse begets abuse. My grandfather was abusive to his children. He was a Southern Baptist preacher who truly believed ‘Spare the rod, Spoil the child.’ With four children he shared his abuse in a way I could never quite understand. If one child did something against house rules they all got a beating. I’m sure there was verbal abuse also, along the lines of not being good enough in God’s eyes, that sort of thing. 

I can tell you, abuse is abuse. Physical or verbal, sometimes just implied through body language, you can feel it. You begin to have that ‘fight or flight’ adrenalin rush. It’s scary as hell.

via kenfotos at freedigitalphotos
I’ve written about my mother’s fourth husband who took the prize for sickest abuser ever. In one night he broke my mother’s jaw and caused internal damage to me while beating us simultaneously. Later, after he’d punched me in the face, and I was sure he’d broken my nose, my mother sat with me in my room trying to stop the bleeding. He walked in very calmly and said to her, “I think you should come to bed now.” She started to balk and I told her she’d better do it. 

He didn’t force her to have sex, thank goodness, but instead fell immediately to sleep. Slept like a baby, got up the next morning showered and left for work whistling a happy tune.

My mother found a knife under his pillow. We went to the police before the hospital. The officer took our statements as we sat there bruised and bloodied. Then he informed us that there was a 48 hour waiting period in the state of Michigan before they could issue an arrest. “It’s a cooling off period necessary in domestic cases, in case you change your mind,” he told my mother.

This was 1966 and I would like to tell you things have improved for abused women since then, but I feel it’s been baby steps. If you pay any attention to the political rhetoric this year you know how clueless many can be about this subject.

In some ways I understand why. My mother and I moved in with my aunt and uncle later that day. They did issue a citation to her husband after the 48 hour waiting period. But she moved back to him two weeks later.

Here’s the thing...abuse isn’t just about the physical. It’s a mind game from the get go. My mother had been abused as a child by the man she wanted love from in the worst way, her dad. Somewhere in her head she felt some of it had to be her fault. If she could just be a good girl and do as she was told he would show her the love she craved.

Ironically my grandfather showed me the love she always wanted from him and it created a competitive and contentious relationship between mom and me. He treated me so well I couldn’t believe the stories I heard about his abuse. Eventually I did, and then spent many years trying to analyze all of this weird family dynamic. 

Women like my mother are drawn to men like her fourth, of six, husbands. You just have to know the background to understand why she had that many husbands. She never felt worthy of love.

I think there’s a song about looking for love in all the wrong places. It’s true. Abusers have an attraction to the vulnerable and the vulnerable are helpless to walk away from that dangerous attraction. 

The times I’ve heard, “He didn’t mean to hurt me. I kind of deserved it.” Or, “He’ll change... I just know he loves me.”

I’ve also heard, “Where would I go? What about the kids?” It can be very complicated. I realize that.

We have to advocate for stricter laws in domestic cases. We’ve made strides since 1966, for certain, but there is so much more we need to do. Women’s shelters were almost unheard of back in the day. Now there are safe houses and advocacy organizations to help women in these relationships. If you don’t know where to turn Google ‘shelters for abused women (your city)’. There are people there to help you.

We have to do more to educate those who have no idea what this is like. If you’ve never gone through it you probably feel sad when you hear of a case like my mother’s but have no idea how to help.

First: Believe it. 

Second: Rest assured it is happening in every demographic, no matter race or economic standing.

Third: You can’t fix what you don’t recognize so shining the light on this subject is a great way to help us all move forward.

Barbara's bio: My dream of going to Art School never happened but my education has never stopped.  From a less than idyllic childhood, to marrying at 18 and having two children before turning 21 it’s been a hell of a ride.
My husband’s career took us through ten moves in our first ten years together.  He had a steady path and I had the privilege of reinventing myself with each move.

From modeling to real estate marketing to management I discovered I’m really an entrepreneur at heart.  I’ve owned a modeling/talent agency, women’s health spa, among other ventures.

In the ‘90’s I was overwhelmed with the need to paint.  I had denied my art for over 25 years and it was screaming to come out. 

After the art surfaced I began writing poetry.  Some were silly rhymes and others were emotional and personal.  That led to journaling.   In 2005 I published my first children’s book, TheDuffy Chronicles, Duffy Finds His Family, a fun little story about our pound puppy. It will be a trilogy with the 2nd one coming as soon as I find time to finish it.

In 2010 I started Zero to 60 and beyond.  What an experience that’s been.  My blog is the prelude to my memoir. 

Domestic Violence Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)  TTY- 1-800-787-3224 
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes downloadable guides for helping women in abusive relationships)
RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 1.800.656.HOPE
National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence - you will need to opt for English or French

Women's Aid - 0808 2000 247

Australia & New Zealand:
Domestic Violence Information Manual - phone numbers vary by territory

For Male Victims:
Why Men Stay in Abusive Relationships

Please join me in thanking Barbara for her story.
If you'd like to share yours, there's still time.
Guest post ideas & info here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Caged Bird Does Not Sing #domesticviolence

{The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky}—-Maya Angelou

“I know what’s different about you,” I say to my sister on our last walk.

“What?” She smiles with those big pink lips. The kind of lips women envy.

“You don’t need me like you used to. I like that. When do you sign the divorce papers?”

“In a couple weeks,” she says.

She skips ahead of me. Her long brown hair flowing behind her like a kind of freedom.

“I can’t wait to start my own life!” She squeals. “Hurry, get over here and grab my hand.”

We pray right there in the middle of the trail. We pray for transformations and smooth departures.
We pray for still waters and flourishing futures.


My sister never got the chance to sign those divorce papers.
Her soon to be ex-husband murdered her two days after that walk.

We were going to have a surprise shower for her.

An “Emancipation Shower.” A “New Beginnings Shower.”

Candles & Cosmopolitans. Salsa & Sangria. Sushi & Sex and The City.

We were going to fill her new home with love, love, love.

So much love that she would drown inside of it, swallow it whole.

We were going to watch chick flicks until we were chick flicked out.

We talked about painting her living room funky colors like bubblegum pink, lemony lime, or crazy cranberry.

None of that happened.

He left work early on May 26th, 2010
He said he had business to attend to, appointments to keep, phone calls to make.
He sat on the couch like a demon-devil.



He always had a fucking plan.

He was never a man, so I shall call him The Murderer.
After all, that’s what he became in the end.

The Beretta pistol was so minuscule the murderer could conceal easily inside the palm of his hand.

I imagine he rubbed the iron between his fingers anticipating her absence, his absence, his final control.

I imagine he tasted the metal upon his toxic tongue.

I presume he was prepared to go straight to HELL.

My sister came home from work at about 5:00 pm.

She had the same routine every day of the week.  He knew every move, every breath.

She changed from scrubs to walking clothes, hoisted her hair in a high ponytail. She called our dad to meet her on the Waterfront Trail.

“I’ll see you on the trail in five minutes,” she said.

Her last words. Her final beautiful breaths.

And mine.

You see, we were tangled and twisted together as one.

The same blood.  The same heart.

The root of the root.

He had already locked the front door so she couldn’t escape.

Perhaps he uttered a prayer to whomever murderers utter prayers to. Perhaps he gave last rites to himself.

I often wonder why God didn’t intervene. Why He’d allow the cage to remain closed.

There were two options. She stayed with him or she died with him.

He placed the gun to the back of her head as she walked out the door.

And shot once…twice…and a third time.

He had to make damn sure she never gained consciousness, had to make certain she couldn’t fly away.

He then wrapped his arms around her like a poisonous snake and shot himself in the right temple.

I remember asking my husband a few months later, “Did he really kill Kay? Is it true?”

He said, “Yes, it is true.

“Then why am I breathing? Why am I walking? How can my heart still beat?”

People have frequently alleged that a caged bird sings.

I don’t believe it. I’ll never believe it.

The caged bird cannot sing until she is set free; she cannot form a pleasing melody of verse until the cage is swung wide open.

Only then will she sing her sweet song of freedom. Only then will her wings reach the orange of the sun’s rays.

Sometimes in my dreams, I hear my sister singing

I see her hair flowing like a dark water through air.

I call out her name.

“Kay. Kay. Kay.
Where are you? Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?”

“You know where I am.” She whispers softly, slowly…

Like a feather falling.

And I smile.

Because I know she is finally free of him.

Free at last.


Kim Sisto Robinson writes the beautiful, funny, and numinous blog My Inner Chick. In 2010, Kim's sister Kay was killed by her husband in a murder-suicide, leaving their bodies to be discovered by their oldest son. Kay was "only" emotionally and verbally battered by her husband, in the years before he took her life.

If you are working up your courage to leave a physically or emotionally abusive partner, please, seek help to devise a safe "leaving strategy." Don't assume that because s/he has never (yet) hit you, that you are not in danger.

Domestic Violence Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)  TTY- 1-800-787-3224 
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes downloadable guides for helping women in abusive relationships)
RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 1.800.656.HOPE
National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence - you will need to opt for English or French

Women's Aid - 0808 2000 247

Australia & New Zealand:
Domestic Violence Information Manual - phone numbers vary by territory

For Male Victims:
Why Men Stay in Abusive Relationships

Please join me in thanking Kim for her story.
If you'd like to share yours, there's still time.
Guest post ideas & info here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ladies Night - Women Aren't the Only Ones #domestic violence

Domestic violence is often portrayed as if men are the only perpetrators and women the only victims. This happens NOT to be the case.

Women also abuse men: verbally, emotionally, and physically. Women abuse other women, and men abuse other men, in homosexual relationships. Both men and women may abuse children.

The dynamic with a male victim is the same as with a female victim. It's all about Power & Control. Abused men endure most or all of the below cycle from their female (or male) partner.

While talking about being a victim of abuse is hard for many women, who face both social stigma and centuries of belief that an abused wife/girlfriend was "asking for it" or "not trying hard enough," the stigma is even greater for male victims. We know there ARE male victims.

How many men are physically and emotionally abused?

Sadly, we really don't know. In American society, we tend to ridicule men who are "henpecked" or "pussywhipped," making it harder for men in an abusive relationship to speak up. In other cultures, it is even more taboo. (As of the date of this post, although I have made specific outreaches to male victims of domestic abuse, inviting them to share their stories, I have not yet received any guest posts.)

Some men speak out anyway.

One case that recently received a lot of press was that of Mary Richardson Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, Jr.

From a Newsweek article on June 10, 2012: 
Bobby’s affidavit, sworn Sept. 16, 2011, and filed in New York Supreme Court in Westchester County as part of their divorce, discussed a Kennedy family’s private life with sad candor. In the document, Bobby made the startling claim that Mary was physically abusing him and threatening suicide in front of the children. He said he cried often during his marriage, but not from sadness or grief. “Mary’s violence and physical abuse toward me began before we were married,” Bobby said in the affidavit. “Soon after Mary became pregnant with our first son, Mary, in a sudden rage about my continued friendship with [my ex-wife] Emily, hit me in the face with her fist. She was a trained boxer and I got a shiner. Her engagement ring crushed my tear duct causing permanent damage ... Mary asked me to lie to her family about the cause of my shiner.”

<snip> “On May 26, 2011, Mary ran over and killed the dog, Porcia, in the driveway,” Bobby wrote of an experience after he and Mary had separated. “She had [our youngest son] Aidan call me to tell me. He was disconsolate and crying. I asked to speak to Mom and Mary came on the phone. She said I should come over and spend the night in my old room with the kids who were distraught. She said she intended to kill herself unless I called off the divorce and unless I promised to recommit to the marriage. She promised that if I came over she would stay in her room and wouldn’t see me or harass me.
“I drove over in a tow truck with my boat on the trailer in preparation for a planned trip to Cape Cod the following day. When I got there, Aidan was in Mary’s room. Mary was intoxicated. I opened the door and she leapt out of her bed and hit me with a roundhouse punch that, had I not blocked it, would have undoubtedly broken my face. Pointing to Aidan, she screamed, ‘You told this child you didn’t love me?’ and hit me again, raining blows down on me as I backed down the hall. She struck me maybe 30 more times or more. I moved slowly backward because she was drunk and unsteady and I didn’t want her to tumble over the banister. She screamed at Aidan as she hit me. ‘He is a demon. He is a demon. He is the most evil kind of man in the world. Everything he does is evil and a fraud. He is a philanderer, an adulterer, a sex addict.’ Aidan was crying. I backed down the back stairs blocking her blows—and dodged out the kitchen door. She pursued me, pummeling and pushing me with her fists all the way.”

<snip> In 2006 Bobby talked to Mary’s psychotherapist, then Sheenah Hankin, an author with a clientele heavy with celebrities and semi-celebrities. “You are married to a woman who has borderline personality disorder,” Hankin told him, according to Bobby’s account in the affidavit. “It’s important that you read these books.”

Cover of "I Hate You, Don't Leave Me: Und...
Cover via Amazon
Bobby had never even heard of borderline personality disorder (BPD), but when he opened I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus, he felt he had an understanding of what was happening with his wife. Bobby read that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association lists nine criteria for BPD, five of which must be present for a diagnosis. Mary seemed to have every one of the nine, including a perceived sense of abandonment, a lack of identity, recklessness, suicidal threats, intense feelings of emptiness, and inappropriate displays of anger.

In fairness, Mary Richardson Kennedy's family is disputing the accuracy of Bobby Kennedy's affidavit, and, since, sadly, she committed suicide, Mary is not here to speak for herself. But, if true, Bobby Kennedy endured the same kinds of erratic behavior, threats, and physical abuse that I have heard described by many other men partnered with women diagnosed with or exhibiting symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. Kennedy's wealth, fame, and family connections could not protect him from it. Abuse occurs in the poorest homes; it also occurs in penthouses, and everything in between.

One good resource for men  (and women) involved with a mentally ill partner is Out of the Fog.

Mental illness may be a big factor in all domestic violence environments. 

Included in the domestic violence history of my own family are physical attacks by a bipolar woman (during a manic phase) upon her male partner: fingernails, teeth, fists, and once, a knife. Luckily, he was able to disarm her without serious injury to either party.  But, if he had hurt her - say, while pushing her away from him, she had fallen and hit her head or broken a bone - he would've gone to jail.

I'm not saying that the excuse of abusive men "I was just defending myself" should be accepted at face value.  However, in some cases, a "domestic violence situation" is started by the person who appears, on the surface, to be the victim.

We have few shelters specifically for male victims of domestic violence, but do we need more? Or, perhaps we need to think of other models of "safe houses," akin to foster homes, rather than trying to create an identical shelter system for male victims, matching those of female victims bed for bed. The needs of a an employed man with access to financial resources will be different from those of a SAHD (Stay-At-Home Dad) fleeing an abusive partner with young children in tow, which will be different from those of an elderly disabled man who needs to get away from his abusive wife (or daughter), and different from a 16-year-old who wants to escape the sexual advances of his stepmother.  Just as the needs of a woman with young children or one who cares for a disabled adult "child," may be very different from those of a teen looking to escape from a violent dating partner.

I don't agree with those who argue that because VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, which has been authorized in Congress every year since 1994, up until this one - (start on page 190 of the .pdf if you want to read it for yourself) does not specifically name men as victims in its title, it should be totally thrown out and we should start over.
Section (13) Civil Rights, states:
‘‘(A) NONDISCRIMINATION.—No person in the United States shall, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 <snip>
(B) EXCEPTION.—If sex segregation or sex specific programming is necessary to the essential operation of a program, nothing in this paragraph shall prevent any such program or activity from consideration of an individual’s sex. In such circumstances, grantees may meet the requirements of this paragraph by providing comparable services to individuals who cannot be provided with the sex-segregated or sex-specific programming.

In other words, VAWA is designed to help all victims of domestic violence, be they female, male, or transgender.  They may not be able to place men in the same group facility as women, but men are not supposed to be turned away when they call for help.  VAWA 1925 was passed by the Senate on April 26, 2012, by 68-31. It has since been held up in the House which is seeking to strip certain provisions, such as providing temporary visas to battered undocumented women. It is unclear whether any final bill reached via reconciliation will reach the President's desk before the end of the year.

You may want to look up your own Congressional representative's record on VAWA and consider it as part of your decision-making process when voting this November.

In order to gauge the magnitude of the problem, men must speak up and share their experiences. 

Society as a whole must acknowledge and support male victims, and we must all work together to devise solutions for abused men, as well as women.

Nobody "deserves" to be abused. Not women, not men, not transgender beings, not children.

Not nobody, not nohow, as the Cowardly Lion would say.


Domestic Violence Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)  TTY- 1-800-787-3224 
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes downloadable guides for helping women in abusive relationships)
RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 1.800.656.HOPE
National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence - you will need to opt for English or French

Women's Aid - 0808 2000 247

Australia & New Zealand:
Domestic Violence Information Manual - phone numbers vary by territory

For Male Victims:
Why Men Stay in Abusive Relationships

Do you have a story about a man harmed by physical, sexual, or emotional violence?
If you'd like to share yours, there's still time.
Guest post ideas & info here.
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Swept Off My Feet #domesticviolence

Ann's story is a perfect example of how one can get swept into a "love relationship," by somebody who moves a bit too quickly, and then find oneself on the receiving end of emotional and physical violence. (See The Gift of Fear for tips on recognizing red flags - even at the beginning of a dating relationship.)

Ann's story is also a perfect example of how being a recipient of domestic violence does not necessarily ruin one's life. She has gone on to leave her abuser, have a successful career and fulfilling romantic relationship.

Guest post by Ann Odle.

I was never a big “dater” in high school or in college; so when I met my (now ex-) husband, to say I was “swept off my feet” is an understatement.  He was the playboy of the office—divorced, older, fun-loving and energetic.

I was the newest hire when we first met; and we quickly ended up in the latest edition of the office gossip chats.  Within a few weeks, we were “exclusive,” and he kept telling me he was falling in love. I couldn’t really say that I was falling in love with him; looking back on it now, after all these years, it still seems more like I just was along for the ride and didn’t know how to change things.

My first mistake was in missing the amount of alcohol we consumed (mostly him, but I drank too).  I knew he drank; it usually made life easier when he did.  He always said he was a mellow drunk.  In fact, it wasn’t until I subconsciously knew there was a problem that I noticed that violence began to surface.

It started as a vicious temper, violent words and punching walls.  It was so text-book too; the apologies, flowers and promises (which were promptly broken during the next outburst).  And things went downhill even quicker, once I agreed to marry him.

via Daya Houston

Then one night, we were at the county fair; it was a week night, both of us working the next day and I remember that I was just exhausted.  We were listening to a country band, when he decided he wanted to dance; and kept insisting that we were going to dance.

As I said, I was tired and kept refusing.  I remember raising a cup to drink out of it and then the cup exploded in my face.  There was beer all over me and I watched in slow motion as he smacked me in the nose with the back of his hand; I could feel blood in the back of my throat and knew that my teeth were loosened by that blow.

The next thing I knew, I was being dragged by my hair--across the fairgrounds, through the exit and out to the car.  To this day, I am still amazed that no one, no one, made any attempt to stop him, to help me, to do anything!

Once we got home, he promptly passed out on the floor; I remember grabbing a baseball bat and considering what kind of damage/retaliation I might inflict.  But I did nothing, except keep that bat next to me in bed for the next few weeks.

I would like to tell you that I left that relationship right then and there; but I didn’t.  It took several more months of fights before I finally found the strength.  Even then, I couldn’t help feeling that I was the one who failed.

That is until one day I was visiting with friends who knew both my husband and I; and the woman turned to me and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but since you left XXXXXX, I like you so much better.”

“It’s not that I didn’t like you before; it just seemed like you were only a shadow of what you are now.  You’re funnier, smarter and just plain nice to be around now.”

That’s when I realized that I had allowed myself to become “one of those women;” the ones who give up on themselves, in order to be with a man.

Today, I’m happy to say that I am my own person; I’m with someone who wants me to be me, not to be there for him.  I hope someone reads this story and sees themself here; that they won’t be like me and turn away until it’s too late.

For years, I refused to see myself as a victim of domestic violence—but that is exactly what I was.  Looking back and acknowledging the situation I found myself in, has definitely changed my perspective.

Ann Odle is a single,Southern California girl with absolutely no plans for moving out of state, but has big dreams for traveling all over the world.  In the meantime, she works full-time, runs a home-based business on the side and updates her blog, Ann About Town, as often as she can.


Domestic Violence Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)  TTY- 1-800-787-3224 
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes downloadable guides for helping women in abusive relationships)
RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 1.800.656.HOPE
National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence - you will need to opt for English or French

Women's Aid - 0808 2000 247

Australia & New Zealand:
Domestic Violence Information Manual - phone numbers vary by territory

For Male Victims:
Why Men Stay in Abusive Relationships

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