Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Reflections: The Night Before Out-Patient Surgery"

There are so many things flooding my mind right now. The emails that I've received from many of you, have caused weeping again. Each time I'm reminded of the isolation, pain, humiliation and indignity that abuse causes me to "go back" again into the hell that I was once living. This time, however, my reasons for "going back" are not for me, but for those I desire to be of some comfort.

Underneath the differences of 'outward' appearance, we are all sisters. The exact circumstances of our lives may be different, but being a victim of abuse...brings a deep level of "sisterhood". Just learning that I was not alone (as I definitely believed) was a weight off my shoulders. Once I was in the "safe house", I learned a lot.

The women that I shared this home with, were all victims of domestic assault. Many of them had small children. The fear and uncertainty on the faces of those children, I'll never forget. The "safe house" was set up for children. Much play area, both inside and outside. Of course, the outside area was completely surrounded by a large wood privacy fence. The kids also had a huge variety of toys, games, puzzles and there was also a computer room for them. This was a real place of safety!

When I first step foot in this house, the thing that I was immediately made aware of was that I was SAFE! I remember thinking it'd be easier to get into Ft. Knox. Yet, in spite of the safety, the stories of each woman were as different as night is from day. The one common factor was that we were all there for the same reason. We were all victims of abuse. This was a house of "healing"

Tomorrow I go to the hospital for an out-patient procedure. Hopefully, it really will be "out-patient" this has not always been the case with me. Many of the medical issues I deal with now are a result of the years of physical abuse.

There is a bit of critical information I'd like to share with you. I learned this from one of my sisters...who learned it the hard way. When a husband/significant other...knows your personal information: social security number, mother's maiden name, father's middle name, etc., etc., is often easy for them to get information about you that could further compromise your safety.

My sister gave me some information concerning my cell phone number. She told me to get it "pass code protected". I contacted the cell phone provider and said I wanted the number (the one I was using) to be "pass code protected". This means you come up with a combination of a couple numbers &/or letters. Something no one would know but you. This way, no one can get a copy of your phone records.

Doing this prevents anyone from getting your phone records. Like I said earlier, it was one of precious sister's that gave me the information I'm now passing on to you. Her husband was able to get a copy of her phone records for the previous two years!

I've also known women whose abuser had 'planted' a GPS (global positioning system) on their vehicles. They wondered "how" every move they made was known to their abuser. One lady found it by accident...she was looking under her car, as it appeared she had an oil leak. Other than noticing the leak she found something quite unexpected...what she found was a small disc shaped object placed under her bumper. Not knowing what it was, she pulled it off. the next day she went to an auto parts store. She showed the employee what she'd found and asked what it was. He explained to her that it was a information to every place she took her vehicle.

Oh my, the more information I share, the more I realize I need yet to pass on. I'm committed to your safety. Please, tell someone. No one deserves to be abused. Today, I added some national hot line information links. They are there to help.

Hopefully, my next post will include some specifics you'll need to prepare case of an immediate need for safety. Due to the fact I had asked a few questions before that "one particular" night...I felt a bit empowered. Looking back, I can see clearly, had I known the right questions to ask, I could have been better prepared.

Be Safe My Sisters,


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Friendships Between Women & All Their 'Children'

The friendships I have with some particular women have proven to not only help me to become a better person but have helped encourage and guide me to fulfill many goals, hope and dreams. To them I owe a debt of gratitude that in 10 lifetimes I could never repay. Yet, this particular post is dedicated to one particular woman that is beyond wonderful...and I never pass up an opportunity to tell her how valued, honored and respected she is.

Some of these friendships have spanned over three decades. We have sought comfort and advice from one another. Other times the sharing of joy, laughter and pain. Though I have no biological children, I have many 'children' that have been 'grafted' within my heart by the Lord. Now, many of them have families of their own. It's to the number one child of mine "grafted" into depths of my being I dedicate this post.

One of the 'children' born of the Lord to me, is one of the women I admire most. When she first came into my life, the thing that was most evident was her desire to learn...learn...learn. This young woman was like a sponge. She reminded me of myself at that age. Curious, full of questions and a heart desirous to make a change...a lasting change within a hurting world. Nothing was impossible to her, as nothing was an impossibility to me.

Of course, she had also shared her fears. Yet, what was so striking about this young woman she was willing to put her own fears aside, as she readily saw the greater good. She never had a second thought about accompanying me to eastern Europe. I should say that she'd never been on a flight outside the USA. Not to mention the fact that one of her fears had been going into a nation/nations like this.

The one thing that will forever be etched within my memory took place immediately after we landed and were within a city of just over 3 million people. Vastly different in every aspect imaginable to the US. She was wide eyed with wonder. Looking at everything, primarily her eyes were looking upward at the architecture so vastly different that she was used to. She became oblivious to the lights giving the 'go ahead' to cross the street. So transfixed she was! I had to, literally, hold her hand as we walked across the wide boulevards as traffic darted this way and that. The vehicles were not inclined to stop in spite of the light changing color, and I was worried for her safety.

For me seeing this newness thorough her eyes...made things new again for me! Nothing was taken for granted, absolutely nothing. Each day as we went about doing the work which we were there to complete...the continual "oohs & aahs" simply served as a reminder to be ever so vigilant not to allow anything the Lord allows us to see escape our attention. Every face was made as a portrait within our hearts, the voices we heard...we can still 'hear'. The smell of diesel fuel and burning garbage, was even a source of this represented to us a place where we fell in love with the people and nation. The good the bad or the not so good...made no difference to us. These people became our people...our love for them will never end.

The one thing this marvelous young woman didn't like were bugs. However, her total transformation was so complete that by the end of this particular journey, hunger got the best of us. There was a partial loaf of bread left. There were bugs crawling upon the bread and the table. (To me, this would never have been a big deal, yet was unsure as to what her reaction would be). She promptly picked up the knife to cut us both a thick slice of bread...but...before doing so, used her finger to just 'flick' off the bugs. Once I began laughing as what I viewed as a major transformation, it occured to her what I was laughing about. If memory serves me correctly, her only comment was something like, "Well, I was hungry".

Never underestimate what is able to be changed. We...all...need to get past outward appearance and (as an old Beatle song says) "give peace a chance".

To this wonderful woman, now has her own family. (She knows I'm talking about her!) My love for you was born upon the Rock of Jesus Christ. I should say, too, that her husband is also one of the "children" the Lord 'grafted' within my heart. Talk about a match made in heaven!!!

To all readers, never underestimate your ability to touch a I've said before: every life...touches every other life.

Kindest Regards,


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why Are The Tears Still Falling?

Why do there seem to be endless tears? Personally, I never knew anyone could weep so long...nor so often. The darkness of my own thoughts would swirl within my mind...often making sleep unattainable. Thoughts of suicide? Yes. Was this something I gave some serious consideration? Yes. Often I spent hours contemplating and making plans on "how" I would do it. Yet, now that I was living in a "safe house" why was I feeling so desperately alone? Too many questions that I could not answer. This darkness enveloped my mind and it appeared there would be no solution. I was, again, feeling trapped.

Of course, there were well qualified counsellors, and an amazing staff available to me. However, the wounds were so deep and had spanned just about two & a half decades...I really did not believe things for me could possibly change.

The 'needs' I had were many. I was pointed into the right directions for this help I now required. What I was soon to discover further deepened the darkness of my own thoughts. You see, I was one of those individuals that "fell through the cracks" of the system. Not to mention that I was told (on more than one occasion) that most women go back & forth to their abusers approximately 6 times before they make that final break. Was I destined to be part of the statistic I was told...would I change my mind and return to the abuse I had been routinely subjected? I began to think...perhaps, I should return. My thinking was that, if the situation I had become accustomed to living was as drastic as I could "I" be one of those that "fell through the cracks of the system"? Wasn't it set up to help those in situations exactly like the one I now found myself.

The first counsellor I had must have thought I was 'double-minded' at best. During these sessions I was encouraged to talk...she listened. Our times together would always end with "What do YOU want to do?" My thinking (although left unsaid)...was I have no clue as to what I wanted to do from one day to the next, let alone what did I want to do concerning the abuser. To say I vacillated between opinions is an understatement. I could rationalize in my own mind "reasons" to stay and "reasons" to never return.

I was soon given to another counsellor as the first was taking another position. This second counsellor proved to not only be more mature, but made more sense to me. She used a "role play" technique. My first thought was , "I'm not a child playing games!!" However, as she took the time to explain, in detail, what could be achieved, I relented. It soon became apparent that her methods were at least beginning to turn my negative thinking toward a more emotionally healthy attitude.

Thoughts of suicide, however, did persist from time to time. Yet, this new counsellor taught me about putting into place a "safety net". When these thoughts occurred we had made an agreement that I would call one of the folks I had listed as a contact on my "safety net". It was recommended that I have a minimum of five people of whom I trusted. However, I only had three people that I truly trusted.

One of those that were listed was my Mother. She did not live anywhere near me, and it was only phone conversations. When we are younger most all of us think we know more than our parents. (Youth can be so foolish at times!) My Mother listend to me, no matter what time of day or night I called. Her giving me the avenue to talk about all that I was thinking as clouds of darkness seemed to be swallowing me up...led to a turning point and a revelation to my thinking process.

Her willingness to just "listen" allowed me to talk about absolutely everything. Once I heard the words coming out of my own mouth...the negative grip they had upon me soon began to lose their hold that had wrapped itself around my mind. Ever so slowly and little by little...that darkness began to lift.

Not only the abuse had stolen so many years of my life, but there had also been a recent betrayal of someone I had trusted for almost 20 years. We knew each other inside and out. She even asked me to attend during the birth of her second child. Never did it enter my mind that in my greatest hour of need that she would turn her back on me. Although she, at first, went to great lengths reassuring me that she had already known of the abuse and would help me do what it took to get out of that situation...but the very next day, she called me and let me know, that since they, too, (she & her husband) held leadership position within the same church...they thought it best not to get involved.

No words I posses could explain the total abandonment I felt at that moment. But now I was living in this "safe house"...having left everything behind. Uncertain of everything and unable to "wrap my mind around" to the reasoning of the friend that had abandoned me...after promising to help. She even went though a list of things she would be able to do on my rounding up a couple people that could help me, safely, get out of the house while my abuser was gone.

The first few months were filled with day upon day of endless tears. The wise counsellor let me know that now that I was 'safe' all the pent up emotion of so many years was finally able to be released. This made sense to me and a light of new hope was born.

There was something I learned from one of my sisters that proved to be of extreme importance. Yet, time prevents me from going further today, but I will address it in the next post.

Keep your eyes looking above for that is truly where our help is coming from...and also know that others have been in your situation and were able (with help) to escape the "trap" of domestic violence.

From Someone Who's Been There & Back,


Monday, March 17, 2008

The Whole World Is Hurting

Today was a real "eye opener" for me. I searched for sites like this blog dealing with Domestic Violence...however, what I found was more than the single topic of Domestic Violence.
I saw that the whole world is hurting.

To be totally honest, I wasn't really surprised by all I'd seen today while searching the internet. Due to the fact that I'd spent 12+ years criss-crossing the globe...I'd seen many things. Many things I wish I could erase from my memory, yet, these are the very things my heart will never relinquish.

Ghandi once said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind". This is something I know is the truth. Yet, how often do we look at someone that we view as "different"? More often than we would like to admit to ourselves.

Having lived off and on outside the nation of my birth has taught me much. First, I would say that none of us are as different as we think we are and we all basically desire the same things.

Safety and secuity for our family and loved ones, to be treated with dignity and respect, to have available adequate health care, proper food, shelter and equal protection and that no one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. Everyone should have the right of freedom of movement, freedom of opinion and expression...not to mention the freedom of peaceful assembly.

The paragraph above I learned through being taught the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". This document was created by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.

The very first sentence of the "Preamble" reads: "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world...".

Obviously, this is but a part of that document. After the "Preamble" there are 30 Articles. I've lived long enough to know that every life...touches every other life. Let the changes that are needed begin with us, the individual. Let's be helpers and encouragers to one another. If it doesn't start with us...then where will it begin? Or will it ever begin?

I know this is not on my original topic of Domestic Violence, yet, I felt the things that I was, again, reminded of that I would be remiss not to share them.

Warmest Regards,


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Terror in The Night

Within a couple weeks of my marriage, I began getting hit, punched or kicked during the night. When I would begin crying out, my husband would rouse enough to realize what he had done. The first few times this happened I didn't know what to think..other than what he told me. His explanation was that he was having a "nightmare". In other words, it wasn't his fault. I was inclined to believe this.

However, as weeks turned into months, then months turned into years...I became accustomed to laying so close to the opposite edge of the bed, that I always slept with my left foot and left hand touching the floor. If I somehow were to accidentally roll over and be facing him...there was a reflexive action within me to immediately turn over the other way.

The hitting, punching, kicking did not occur every night, but several times a week. I had tried to discuss this with him more times than I can count. His response to me was that it was not his fault as it was done during a "nightmare"...and would shout at me saying, "Why don't you just crucify me!" Never did he deny this was taking place...but he CHOSE to do nothing about it. I, too, chose to do nothing...after all, he told me it was during a "nightmare"...and I need to take into consideration he didn't mean it.

We had many good friends...very few knew of the abuse...and only one couple knew of the terror in the night that I had been accustomed to. This couple lived within the same state we did for many years...then they moved to a southern state. Our friendship continued despite the distance. One day we got a call and they let us know they were going to be coming back to visit their children but they felt "compelled" to come and visit us, too. We lived hundred of miles from their children, and knew this would be "eating into their time", yet, were so excited they were coming to stay with us for a few days.

When they got to our home, it was soon discovered that their main reason for the visit was to help do an "intervention" on my part concerning the punching, hitting and kicking. This terror in the night had now been going on a full 21 years!

So, there we were the four of us sitting around our dining room table. This couple knew the "secret" of what had been taking place at night for all these years. The conversation was such as to point out that my husband was well aware of what he was doing, as it was never denied. They told him "if" he desired to preserve the marriage, he needed to get some help. However, the first and very least he could do was move into another bedroom. This of course was something I had been continually asking him to do. Only to be shouted at that it was not his fault.

This couple let him know that since he was well aware of what was taking place, that it was his responsibility to "do something about it and get some help". After several grueling hours, he relented at their urging to sleep in a different bedroom. He shed some tears...which I had seen many times, yet nothing ever changed. This time he agreed and told this couple he would do as suggested. I was surprised he agreed and was hopeful that he may get the help he needed.

The day they left to return home, I found out I was wrong. He said the promise he made was under "duress"...and that as my husband it was his right to sleep in the same bed. Something had changed within me...although subtle. I told him that he was definitely going to sleep in a different room, and that since he promised the couple he would do as suggested and that if he didn't comply I was going to call them. After a few hours of listening to rantings...he "decided" to sleep in the back bedroom.

His "rantings" consisted of him screaming so loudly he would get hoarse. He would (literally) jump up and down, pull his hair, punch himself, then start punching the walls, throw things, throw himself on the floor while kicking and screaming and eventually turn his rage toward our dogs. So frightened they would become they would try and hide themselves. He was never really able to do them harm as I always placed myself between he and the dogs.

Although he moved into the other bedroom, I still kept my bedroom door shut. However, many times I'd wake in the night, "feeling" as if someone were in the room. I'd turn around and there he would be standing over me, just staring...but saying nothing. I could tell by the look on his face that it was in my best interest to stay completely calm...and just ask him if everything was OK. For several moments he said nothing, then just turned and walked back out.

It was after a few times like this, I got a lock for my bedroom door. I should let you know that he was not a war veteran, a drug user nor did he drink. The insistence that it wasn't his fault was being told to me over and was like playing a broken record.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Critical Information!

I don't know if the laws meant to protect and help women in crisis are the same in all states. The information that I'm going to share is STILL the same today! I wish I could say that there have been changes...but there have not.

When I've had to go to the hospital/ER. etc...due to injuries sustained at the hand of an abusive husband...never was I asked, while being alone, if I was living in a "safe environment". I was, however, asked if I were living in a "safe environment" while my abuser was standing right next to me. How do you think I answered??? Of course, I said I was living in a "safe environment"...if I were to have answered truthfully, it would produce the same situation for which I was now seeking medical help.

I implore those of you that need help let it be known that,indeed, you are "not in a safe environment"...let the nurse/health care provider KNOW you are in a crisis situation! Ask the nurse/health care provider to assist you in the bathroom or whatever it takes to get that health care individual ALONE and without your husband/significant other able to hear what you must tell them to get the help you need. Words alone could never express the importance of this is CRITICAL!

Many times it wasn't even my abuser that accompanied me to the emergency facility, but it was a family member of his...many times a female. If I were to have told the truth about being in an unsafe would have most definitely be reported back to the abuser.

I should say that often in the restrooms of medical facilities there may be information that gives the telephone number, locally, to obtain help. If you get one of these numbers, HIDE IT!! Hide it where ever you need to...your shoe, bra, etc....again, do what YOU need to do in order to receive the help you deserve. No one deserves to be abused! NO ONE!

While I was living in the shelter for domestic violence...I needed to arrange for an outpatient surgery. The doctor, and the hospital knew that I was living in a "safe house". All concerned knew they had to contact me through the staff of the "safe house" or contact me directly through my cell phone. HOWEVER.....

I was supposed to get a call from the hospital to confirm my time of arrival, and which entrance to use. I waited and waited...but no call came. Finally, one of the staff said that I should contact the hospital. When I called them they let me know they had called my home and left the information with my husband! He was the abuser and the very reason I was now living in a shelter and needing the outpatient surgery. I was absolutely stunned!

To say I was both terrified and shocked is an understatement of vast proportions. This was a major breech of confidentiality. I let the staff know and then called my doctor's office, who in turn contacted the hospital. Security needed to be contacted ASAP.

The day of my outpatient surgery arrived. I was driven to the hospital by a staff member and immediatley ushered into a separate room. This further made me feel victimized. Next, I was taken into the room to be "prepped" before the procedure. So terrified that the abuser would show up, I had to be medicated three times before surgery could begin. Each footstep I heard created immediate panic, as I was sure he would find me. I felt totally vulnerable

I wish I could say that things have changed, but they have not. Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post...if you seek medical attention do whatever it takes to get a healthcare provider alone! Let someone know you need's available, none of us that have ever found ourselves in this situation can do it by ourselves.

Will There Ever Be Peace in My Life?

This is my first time with a blog. Needless to say, that I had to have help to get even this far. I am filled with deep gratitude to my amazingly loving husband (of less than 2 years) and a woman that the Lord grafted into my heart almost 16 years ago. When I first met her, I was her 'teacher' she is teaching me. She has a beyond beautiful heart and filled with compasson.

No one knew the level of abuse that I was dealing with for just about 25 years. After all, it must have been 'my fault'...this is what I truly believed. I needed to "adapt myself to my husband's plan". There are those of you, that having read only the above words, would think I must have been within a 'church setting'. If you are thinking that, you are 100% correct. Not just within a church setting, but in a high level of leadership. The level of leadership spanned more than 23+ years.

I should back up...and let you know that from the time I was a child, the prejudices and strife between things people viewed as "differences" caused me great emotional pain. I didn't understand WHY people could not get along with those not exactly like themselves.

As a child I was taught about "race". I knew that I was of the "human race", but my new puppy was not "human". Those were the only differences that I could truly understand. Needless to say, when viewing on TV the horrors of what was taking place down south...I was shocked. How could this be happening? Why couldn't everyone vote? If everyone is "created equal"(as I was taught), how could all that I was seeing take place? How come no one was helping? Did the president know about this, too? I even asked my teacher if she could write a letter to the president, just in case he didn't see it (what I had viewed) on telelvision.

Being an unusually curious child, I asked questions...a LOT of questions. I soon learned that the questions I was asking somehow must be "off the wall". My questions soon began to go unanswered. The only purpose this served was that my curiosity grew!

Again, this is back tracking (I apologize) yet, feel what I'm about to share is important, as it will give you a glimpse into the way my thinking process was even as a 3 year old. I was sitting on the floor, in front of the TV. The children's program I was watching was to help kids learn how to put words together. The words for that day were: "...a little while ago." I words! I immediately went into my bedroom and lay down on my bed. I began practicing those new words..."a little while ago". I repeated them to myself over and over again.

That particular day, my mom was out running errands and my aunt was baby sitting us kids. When I thought I had mastered these 'new words'...I proudly went out to my where my aunt was. I said, "Aunt -----, I know more words!" However, what came out of my mouth, was definitely NOT pronounced came out, "...a lil' wah-go". My aunt said "Don't talk to me until you can speak English!"

Was I upset? Not in the least. I heard what came out of my mouth and knew it was not what I had learned on TV. So, being told to "speak English"...I went back into my bedroom and back onto my I could "practice". By the time my mom came home...I could say, "A little while ago"! This was my first big victory!!!

Good grief! I just realized, after writing so many paragraphs, that I hadn't even touched on the main reason for beginning this blog. Actually, there are several reasons for beginning to 'blog'...and Domestic Violence is the main reason.

Perhaps, it would be good to see if this blog gains any readers. I know for a fact that domestic violence is "across the board"...into ALL levels of background. When I had to flee my home and live in a shelter for domestic assaut ("safe house"), there were various races, socio-economical, and religious backgrounds represented. Just re-reading this paragraph caused me to begin weeping. I saw up close and personal...this touches more people than most would admit. It also let me see that a "personal protection order" doesn't necessarily protect those that need it...and that in some cases it produces more chaotic circumstances.

The one thing I most definitely would like you to know is that you are NEVER really alone. There are those waiting to help, but, unfortunately the ones needing help don't know where to begin.