Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Unexpected Weapon..."A Pineapple"

The experience I'm about to share took place six years ago. Although I was married to an abuser, I still had a wonderful position within an amazing company. My desire to represent my company with professionalism, I chose to always dress in a business suit. It is to my former employer that I dedicate this article.

My abuser held me to very strict time lines. I would arrive home exactly 12 minutes after leaving the office. If he wanted me to pick some things up at the store...that too was timed.

One particular day, as I was leaving for the office, he handed me a list of items he wanted me to pick up after work. He told me that it would only take 45 minutes...and I was to be home no later than he demanded.

After work I went immediately to the grocery store. This store was a large chain grocery store. I was in a hurry, and needing to find everything on the list I'd been given and get home at the designated time.

I was in the fresh fruit and produce area. I leaned over a bit to look at the pineapples. As I leaned over, a man came up from behind me and rubbed himself against me, as he spoke his filth into my ear. My first reaction was immediate fear. Yet, I was also thinking about the time! I had to get the shopping done and get home or else face the "consequences" of my abuser.

With this in mind, I was more fearful of the abuser than I was this pervert at the grocery store. I had a pineapple in my hand. I grabbed that pineapple with both hands...spun around and hit him as hard as I could using that pineapple as a weapon. He was definitely not expecting this.

The blow with the pineapple hit him on the side of his face so hard that it had broken his glasses and sent him reeling backwards. He began to shout at me, that I'd broken his glasses. His shouting brought security immediately to the area we both were. There was an immediate welt from the side of his face all the way to his ear.

The security person asked what had happened. The pervert told him I had broken his glasses. Immediately, I began to let the security person know how & why... I smacked him on the side of the head with the pineapple...as I was speaking a woman came to where we were standing. It became apparent that this woman was the wife of the pervert. She was glaring at him in a way that gave the impression that this was not the first time he'd done such a vile thing.

The security person asked if I wanted to press charges, I said "No". It would have taken time to do this and I had to get home. Yet, the look on his wife's face let me know that this fool was in big trouble with her. I can only imagine their conversation when they got back home.

As I drove home, I cannot describe the emotion I felt. Being able to stand up for myself was empowering...even though it only lasted a moment. After all, I was now driving home to the abuser. I was on time, and gotten everything on his list. Of course, I never told him of this incident. He would have told me that I must have done something to produce his advances.

However, I did share this incident with a couple colleagues. At that time, they were unaware of the abuse taking place in my own home. They also told me it took a bit of bravery to do such a thing. I couldn't tell them that it wasn't bravery...but fear of my abuser if I'd have been late arriving home.

The information below is from "Helpguide.org". I trust it will bring some clarity to the very confusing situation you find yourself dealing with. Please know that you are NOT alone in this.


Violent Behavior is an Abuser's Choice

Reasons we know an abuser's behaviors are not about anger and rage:

  • He does not batter other individuals - the boss who does not give him time off or the gas station attendant that spills gas down the side of his car. He waits until there are no witnesses and abuses the person he says he loves.
  • If you ask an abused woman, "can he stop when the phone rings or the police come to the door?" She will say "yes". Most often when the police show up, he is looking calm, cool and collected and she is the one who may look hysterical. If he were truly "out of control" he would not be able to stop himself when it is to his advantage to do so.
  • The abuser very often escalates from pushing and shoving to hitting in places where the bruises and marks will not show. If he were "out of control" or "in a rage" he would not be able to direct or limit where his kicks or punches land.

It never failed that every time I was beaten, punched, kicked or slapped...he always let me know that he had no control over his actions. For many years I believed this. It was the wonderful staff at the women's center that finally let me see the truth. Yet, deep down him telling me he had no control...didn't "ring true" within my heart. I had witnessed hundreds of times that he could "put on a happy face" if anyone came to the door or called for him.

There are many of you that use my "contact" email address. The heartache and pain you share with me, grieves me to my very soul. I've chosen to "moderate all comments" as I would never want anything published on this blog that is identifiable. Many of you are asking the same questions. With each article I write I will be addressing those questions. The information above pertains to questions several of you asked.

So many of you tell me that your abuser tells you he can't control himself. That is just a plain LIE! It took me over two decades to learn the truth of this...which is why I chose to share this information with you now. He most definitely has control...and don't believe otherwise for a single moment...and it is NOT your fault. Abuser are masters of control and manipulation. One of their biggest weapons is fear.

Again, be reminded that you are loved...and there is an army of women that are praying for you as they read your comments and the articles I post. If I could, I'd reach out and (((Hug))) each one of you.

Kindest Regards,


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"I Got Flowers Today"...A Poem

This is a poem I found long ago. There is no name attached as to who the author is but I felt it appropriate for this topic. The poem is as follows:

"I got flowers today. It wasn't my birthday or any other special day.

We had our first argument last night, and he said a lot of cruel things that really hurt me.

I know he is sorry and didn't mean the things he said because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today. It wasn't our anniversary or any special day.

Last night he threw me into a wall and started to choke me. It seemed like a nightmare. I couldn't believe it was real. I woke up this morning sore and bruised all over.

I know he must be sorry because he sent me flowers today, and it wasn't Mother's Day or any other special day.

Last night he beat me up again, and it was much worse than all the other times. If I leave him, what will I do? How will I take care of my kids? What about money? I'm afraid of him and scared to leave.

But I know he must be sorry. Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today. Today was a very special day.

It was the day of my funeral.

Last night he finally killed me. He beat me to death.

If only I had gathered the courage and strength to leave him.

I would not have gotten flowers today".

There are three primary parts of domestic violence. What I'm going to share comes from "Cycle of Violence"...again I don't recall it's original source. Yet, it's something I was given when I first sought help through the women's shelter.

1) Increased tension, anger, blaming and arguing.

2) Battering, hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, use of objects or weapons. Sexual abuse. Verbal threats and abuse.

3) Calm stage (this may decrease over time) He may deny violence, say he was drunk, say he didn't mean it, say he's sorry, and promises it will never happen again.

Many times over these last few weeks, I've implored you to let someone know you are in a crisis situation. Yet, the amount of emails I'm receiving is confirming the vast majority are not doing this. There are various reasons that you are telling me for not doing so...and I understand.

My own personal experience let's me see that your reasons for not doing so are valid. However, now that I'm on this 'side' of the cycle of domestic violence, I can see some options that were available that I didn't take advantage of. Don't make the same mistakes that I did.

More times than I can count, I had to seek immediate health care. There was never a single time I was asked by a health care professional while ALONE..."are you living in a safe environment?". If it wasn't my abuser that drove me to the Emergency Department of the local hospital, it was one of his relatives (usually a female). It made no difference if the abuser was there or not...as whoever it happened to be that drove me...they were always in the room.

It's not rocket science to know that I answered, "Yes, I'm in a safe environment". We must do whatever it takes to get that health care provider...ALONE! Let them know that you need help and it needs to be now...not later. There may not be a "later".

I know that there are measures built into the health care system to help those in abusive relationships...yet, personal experience has taught me that just because it's "built in" doesn't mean it's followed.

Recently, I wrote about the need for additional surgery. I've also told my readers that I am remarried (almost 2 years now). You cannot imagine the shock I had when I went to the hospital this last time. When my husband and I went to registration to 'check-in', they still had my old information on the "face sheet" with the number of my abuser!

My husband and I both were livid. My husband told the person at registration that this was supposed to have been changed almost 3 years ago. She assured us that it had been changed in their system. My husband demanded that she print out a new "face sheet" to verify what she had just said. When she printed out that new "face sheet"...it was still the same. The information within their system had NOT been changed.

The sudden panic that hit me felt as if I'd been kicked. We were ushered into a different waiting area. This is where we stayed until I was called to go into the "prep area" before my procedure began. I felt victimized all over again. However, my husband's continued insistence proved to be of great benefit. Before I left the hospital they...finally... they had removed all old information off my medical chart. Why did it take almost 3 years to do this?

The only thing I can think of is it was not of importance. If it had been, it'd have been removed when I entered the "safe house". When I entered the "safe house" it was discovered that I needed surgery. My case manager called my physician and let him know where I was and the reason why. She had also called the hospital and let them know, too. I was to receive a call from the hospital later that day to let me know the exact time I should arrive and which entrance to use.

When no call came, I let my case manager know this. She suggested to me that I should call them. You can imagine my shock when I was told that they did call. They let my husband (abuser) know what time to have me there and which entrance to use. This was in 2005!

You can understand why I was so upset when now, in 2008, they still had the wrong information. Please understand, I am in no way saying it's like this all over. I'm simply letting you know of my personal experience. This is the reason I caution you...make sure health care facilities know what your situation is...check...double check...and triple check, if need be. Don't get caught off guard as I did.

It may seem extreme that after almost 3 years they had the same obsolete information...but they did. If it hadn't happened to me, I may have had a difficult time believing it. Yet, I must say that my new husband's insistence made all the difference in the world...as I was so panicked, I could hardly speak.

Well, it's getting late and I need to stop for now...but not before I remind you that you are being prayed for. There are a vast number of women that I'm connected to, they also read your comments. Their hearts are connected to you. We are committed to your safety and well-being.

Kindest Regards,


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Calming Rough Seas & Flattening Mountains Are Possible!

Getting Ready to Leave

  • Keep any evidence you can of physical abuse. Make sure to keep this evidence in a safe place that your abuser will not find. This might include:

    • Any pictures you have of bruises or other injuries. If you're taking pictures of your injuries, try to have these pictures dated.

    • Any torn clothing

    • Any household objects that your abuser tore or broke.

    • Any pictures that show your home is destroyed or messed up after violence happened.

    • Any records that you have from doctors or the police that document the abuse.

    • Keeping a journal about the abuse. Write down how he abused you, any way that he threatened you, and when these things happened.

    • Anything else you think could help show that you've been abused.
The above information was taken from a web site that also deals with helping those that are in abusive relationships. From time to time, I will post other information that is in response to the questions I receive from many of you. Many ask the same questions. This lets me know that most of you feel totally alone, and with no one to talk to.

The feelings of isolation, fear and shame...I am well acquainted with. These were my constant companions for over two decades. Never, did I really believe things would ever change for me. How could they? I was the one that people came to with their problems. I was a leader, teacher, public speaker, fund raiser...successful and well respected. Yet, the shame and isolation I felt at home was overwhelming. Domestic abuse is an equal opportunity crime. It goes across all racial, ethnic, socio-economical and religious/atheist backgrounds.

I still marvel at the level I was able to function in the midst of almost 25 years of abuse. The only thing I can attribute this to is the hand of the Lord was surely upon me. There is simply no other explanation. Plus, all the traveling abroad for well over a decade. These projects were very successful. The nations and people I got to meet over so many years...are a part of the very fabric of my soul. This is a love that was not born of my own efforts...it was a "gift" for which I am extremely grateful.

If there had to be only one thing I could say I learned it would be this...in spite of your own pain, we can still be a channel of love and blessing to others. I remember a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He said "Undeserved suffering is always redemptive". This I have found though life experience is a fact. Another thing Dr. King said is "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".

Domestic violence is "undeserved suffering" and also "injustice". We need to be reminded that we are not alone like we think we are. There are many that ache to be of help. Recently, I received a comment from a physician. You can read it on the "comment" section of the post "My Mind Was Screaming "FIRE!" This physician said "the silence ties our hands". Read his comment...he was letting us know that above all else we must tell someone.

So many of you don't feel safe enough for me to return your emails. The grief I share with you over this is deep. This is the reason I've added the hot line links for you. I wish I could just reach out to all of you that have such a wounded heart...and give you a (((hug))).

Some of you have asked if "everything has smoothed out" in my own life. No, it has not. Although I am remarried to a marvelous man, my former abuser is still in "contempt of court". He did not do as the judge ordered during the divorce proceeding. This has put a heavy burden on me. There is nothing I can do at the time. There are also several significant health issues I'm dealing with...some the direct result of the years of abuse.

Another thing several of you asked was if I was "still sad". No, I'm not sad. I prefer not to waste time being sad or depressed. There are too many others that need a "hand up" to get out of the abusive situations they find themselves. I've had my feet planted on both sides of that fence. Being on "this side of the fence" is much better. Yet, you all know that I didn't get here by myself. There was an army of individuals along the way that helped.

The one thing that surprised me was that my help did NOT come from where I thought it would. Like my church...I was part of leadership for two decades. I won't go into detail again, as I revealed much of this in earlier posts. My help came from unexpected sources. While I was teaching one of the things I was always saying "The Lord has His people placed in strategic places"...however, I had no clue that I was teaching that to myself...first.

Due to the lateness of the hour, I will say good night for now. Yet, be confident that there are so many praying for those of you in crisis situation...including myself. I get emails from friends & colleagues that read your comments. These have found a place of lodging within the hearts of many. Don't feel alone...as your Helper is by your side.

Kindest Regards,


Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Mind Was Screaming "FIRE!"

Fire always represents a very real and immediate danger. Do you know what to do if your way of escape is blocked? Would you grab anything as you tried to run? If so, what would that be? Your mind would be racing into a thousand different directions. What about the kids! Are they aware of the danger? Why, oh why, didn't we "plan" a way out of a situation like this?!? I was always my intention to sit down and make a plan, go over the details with the kids...but I never did it.

Thankfully, reading this will give you the encouragement needed to put a plan into place. However, before I go further, you need to know that I see the "abuser" like I see a "FIRE!". Fire can be a life threatening event. When you look at the "abuser" as you would a fire...you'd be surprised how many things you could think of needing to get into place in the event an immediate departure became necessary.

Trying to put things in order to share with you on this topic is no small task. There are dozens of things to be said, yet for now I'll share the few that were said to me over & over again by a wise counselor. Please be aware that each of us would need to "tailor" certain things to our particular situations. Once I sought shelter within the "safe house" I saw just how different each situation really was....as different as day is to night.

I was told to make sure I kept (at all times) a minimum of $10...and in a place where the abuser won't find it. Make sure I had an extra key for the car and put it in a safe place. Make sure you know exactly where your driver's license, passport, social security card, etc. are...but most importantly, keep them where you can grab them in a hurry. Personally, there were some medical documents I had to have when I left.
There are many variables on what is an immediate need to each individual.

What would you do if your way of escape was blocked? Every residence is different, so what may work for one, may not necessarily work for another. Yet, these are things you can plan for now...before it's too late. I've learned that if you have to "take time to get ready...it's already too late". Have a plan in place now.

I've gotten emails from many of you asking similar questions. Many of you do not want me to return your email with an answer/suggestion for fear someone else may read your email. This lets me know that you don't have a private email account. So, I'll try and answer as many questions within the posts I'll write.

Concerning the email issue: If you are fearful that your email may be read, open an email account of your own. You can use "Yahoo", "Gmail", Hotmail", etc...these are free! If you don't want to use your home computer, you can use one at the library, Internet cafe and even some community education centers allow you to use their computers. There are even some office supply stores that allow you to use a computer...but here it may cost, yet it is safe! The one that comes to mind is "Kinkos". However, if you are one of the more fortunate ones, you may have a family member, friend or colleague that you can trust. Perhaps, they will allow you to create an email account using their computer. You must have a way to communicate freely within a safe environment.

Say for instance you have AOL as an internet provider...you can still open up a "Yahoo", etc. email account, as it's separate from AOL. The scary part is that none of us know whether or not the "abuser" has installed a "keylogger" on the home computer. That would allow the "abuser" to see every key stroke you make. There have been two readers of this blog that told me this happened to them. I was asked if this was done to me. No, this is not something I had to deal with. Yet, I must confess, just the thought of it, causes me to cringe.

You can also make sure your web sites viewed/history etc., is deleted...yet, I was told that someone with the 'know how' could recover this. If any of you know about this and how something is recovered once it's been deleted..let me know. Another important thing to have is you personal phone book...numbers for your doctor, the schools, family members & friends. If there's only one...get it copied it.

Are there any medications you are taking? What about for the kids? Make a list of what these medications are, strengths, and dosing instructions. Make sure you know how to scoop those medications up in a hurry. With the kids you can make it a 'drill' in case of fire, they look at this like a game. No need to tell them it may be used for a different thing altogether. Make sure each child understands exactly what to do if you yell, "Fire!"

Above all else tell someone. The staff at the women's shelters are such an awesome resource. Many women go there to learn the "how do I leave" information. There are things they told me ahead of time...that empowered me when I did have to flee my home. At least I knew what to grab...as it was prepared ahead of time. I even had all my necessary documents in my combination locked briefcase.

Looking back, there were some things I wish I had known...if I had asked the right questions it would have made a huge difference. Yet, the things I did learn ahead of time, was literally a life saver.

Much of the time from leaving my home and arriving at the "safe house" is a bit fuzzy. The emotional stress, of feeling as if everything had caved in on me...was devastating. It seemed as if I was operating on "auto-pilot". Due to the counseling I'd received...it appeared I had the basics down perfectly. I had actually made a list of what I was told. A literal list! There was no way I could trust myself to remember so much information that was so foreign to me.

One thing that was a drawback for me, was the fact I had no family living within 200 miles. One of my closest friends...as close as a sister---lived in the northeast. The one female friend I trusted most (here locally)...for almost 20 years...let me know that both she and her husband were well aware of the abuse (as was most other leadership). She & I talked for almost 5 hours. She assured me that they would help me get out...comforting me with her words of encouragement. We cried together and she told me she loved me like her own sister. Before she left she hugged me and again let me know "everything will work out". Hearing her promise of help, was like a lead weight had been lifted off me. A bit of springlike breeze seemed to be whirling all around me...as prior to this 5 hour visit, I was feeling both isolated and shamed,

However, the very next day she called me and let me know that since she and her husband were both in the same level of leadership within the church as we were...they thought it best not to get involved. When I heard her words, I suddenly was unable to breathe, the room seemed to be spinning...nor could I get up from the chair I was sitting. I hung up the phone and cried for almost three straight hours. Isn't this exactly where my help should come from? Plus, the fact our friendship was so close, she had even asked me to attend during the birth of their second child. This friendship spanned almost two decades. Yet, now I felt totally abandoned.

I must tell you about my attorney. She was a godsend. It was through her, too, that made what I would call an 'outline' of exactly what to do and in which order to get these things completed. I told her at the time, I'd do exactly as she recommended (as I certainly couldn't trust myself...as I had no clue where to begin). I kept my word. My gratitude to her could never be repaid in 10 lifetimes. She was not only my attorney, but is now a friend. My admiration of her is abundant. Her caring and compassion was evident from the moment I met her. It is to her that I dedicate this post. She is far more than an attorney...she is a shining example of "doing what your hands find to do"...whether it is helping to paint someone else's business, or traveling overseas going into a war torn nation...to help on various projects. I told my Mom when I grow up, I'd like to be like my attorney :)

Well, it's getting very late and this lady is tired...but before I go, let me leave you with something I was told years ago...'never say more than what YOU are comfortable saying".

Kindest Regards Always,