Sunday, March 29, 2009

"I Got Flowers Today"

Until today I have never posted the same thing twice. However, due to an unusual amount of email regarding one topic...I decided to again post "I Got Flowers Today".

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 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" 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 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,



~ Penny said...

This poem still touches me every time I read it. My first ones were two yellow roses, in a glass heart shaped vase. It didn't take me long to not appreciate flowers anymore.

I hope that every woman out there finds the strength, courage, and help to get out of their abusive situations. I do know how you feel! It CAN get better.


Anonymous said...

This is a poem that has touched me and I know many others who have suffered through domestic violence. I hope and pray too that others who are in this situation find the strength and help they need to get free of domestic violence.

Unknown said...

I still have a phobia about receiving flowers. I suppose that after all this time (ten years) I could choose to drop the phobia, but I don't bother. Only one person has gotten under the radar and that was when he ( a friend, nothing romantic) sent me flowers after I had been given the 'all cured' from a disease I'd been suffering). The phobia doesn't impede my life much so why go to the bother of trying to reprogram my mind?
After I left the marriage for the last time, I used to imagine what I would do if I ever was given flowers again face to face: break all the stems in half and throw them at the feet of the person giving them to me. It never came to that (luckily for my friends: they didn't give me flowers face to face) so I never faced the temptation. But the visualisation was a powerful one for years.

wisdomteachesme said...

hello my sister,
i pray that all is well with you.

just checking in on you hit me back when you get a chance.

theprayerful one

Matt said...

It truly can be a heartbreaking, vicious cycle. Women in these situations (and sometimes men too) need to really lean on God for support and love, and not the abuser. Sometimes that's easier said than done, but it really is the truth.

Just me said...

Thank you for this blog. I know someone who is in an abusive relationship and I try to reach out to her to help her... but I guess she might not be quite ready for the help.
I have pasted a link to your blog in one of our blogs.

-Friends From Sunshine/PTP, Inc.

Just me said...

Thank you for this blog. I know someone who is in an abusive relationship and I try to reach out to her to help her... but I guess she might not be quite ready for the help.
I have pasted a link to your blog in one of our blogs.

-Friends From Sunshine/PTP, Inc.

Jill Tingey said...

I have never read that poem before. It evoked an emotion that is hard to describe. While in group at the women's shelter I heard a poem about planting your own garden instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers...this hit home just as hard.

Thank you.

Jill Tingey said...

Thank you for this poem

Waneta Dawn said...

I rarely see a "cycle of violence" that admits that the calm and sorry stage may decrease over time. By the time I left my abuser he no longer had a calm stage; he was nasty all the time. I tried to protect myself by thinking ahead and taking action to ward off whatever evil he'd do next, but he'd usually attack from a completely different angle. I ended up with panic attacks and anxiety, most likely because the verbal/emotional attacks were almost always a surprise, often the complete opposite of what he'd said before. Even after I left him, he kept changing his preferences. For example: he never wanted to celebrate Christmas with my daughter and me, and even refused to have the tree in the living room. So we put up the tree in her room and celebrated together. But after I left, he insisted on her being with him for Christmas, and he even got a little Christmas tree. He made it so clear when we were together that she was my responsibility, that it never occurred to me that he would try to be the primary custodial parent--and succeed in pursuading the judge that he was the most "stable" parent to raise our daughter. (I'm baffled as to why judges think an abuser who made his spouse "unstable" will not bring about the same instability on his children.)

As others before me have said, the only thing I regret about leaving him, is that I didn't leave sooner. But there again, it was Christian teaching that influenced me to stay that long. I don't know of anyone who wishes she had stayed with her abuser longer.

You can read about me on my website There you will find a link to my blog, and will find information about my novel that depicts non-physical domestic violence, "Behind the Hedge." This book was written to help those who are not in abusive situations to understand what life is like for the abuser's targets, and how even emotional/verbal/spiritual abuse do serious damage to the entire family. The abuse is purposely toned down, so that society can see that what looks like minimal abuse from outside the family, is actually major abuse within the family.

Waneta Dawn said...

To "anonymous" who keeps making such hateful comments about the right of men to abuse and be in charge, and that wives must submit, take a look at I Timothy 5:14. Specifically, look up "guide the house" in the Concordance. Did you know the translators of KJV neglected to say that wives were told to be head of, in this case meaning ruler of, their families? The NIV and other versions translate it "manage their homes," which is also not accurate according to the concordance.

Also, you suppose that when the husband is said to be the head of the wife, that means he is her absolute authority. But when you look up "head" in the concordance, it says "the part most easily seized." (It sounds like you rule with the lower head, the part most easily kicked.) However, the job description for the "head" is found in Ephesians 5:25-29. Basically, the husband is to love his wife self-sacrificially, as Christ loved the church. There is absolutely NO directive to husbands to rule their wives. NONE. This self-sacrifice means that there is no room for a husband to demand his own way. If there is a difference of opinion, he is to lay down his way, even to laying down his life, for his wife. THAT is what the Bible actually says. The husband is to tenderly care for his wife, just like he tenderly cares for his own body. I think of how tenderly protective men are of their private parts. THAT is to be your attitude toward your wife. You don't order your parts around. Instead you are gentle with them, tenderly caring for them if there is a sore spot, or if they need to be bathed. You wouldn't THINK of beating them, of verbally assaulting them, of yelling at them because they aren't clean enough or don't perform well enough. In the same way you are NOT to yell at or assault your wife. Instead you bring to her what would feel good to her, (not to you!) whether soothing, caressing, stimulation, or binding up wounds.

Your meaning for the word "head" is made up by men like yourself. It is not the meaning of head in the original Greek. It is not the meaning Paul, Peter, or God put on the word. It is entirely male-crafted and anti-biblical. The context tells you that.

So when you read the word, stop focusing on phrases within verses, and look at the whole context. The whole context is that husband and wife are to submit to one another. The husband is called on to lay down his way and even his life for his wife. The submission required of him is greater than that required of his wife. Nowhere are wives told to lay down their lives for their husbands. In addition, the relationship of husband and wife is to symbolize Christ and the church. The church loves and submits to Christ BECAUSE He first loved us. In the same way, a wife submits willingly to her husband's loving actions. If the husband is demanding, abusive, and tells her she must submit, he is acting like Satan. For a wife to submit to him, would symbolize the church submitting to Satan, and is a horrible testimony to the world. That type of relationship certainly would NOT bring anyone to Christ. Not only that, it frequently drives children and wives away from God. Many women have left church because the church did not stand up against domestic abuse. Others blamed God for the abuse, and rejected God altogether. Is this unbiblical, husband-can-be-the-worst-jerk-he-chooses-to-be doctrine really what you believe God is endorsing? Surely, you know better than that!!

ShrutiWrites said...

Hey Kathryn,

Very thought provoking blog, so informative and so straight from heart!
I am one of those lucky women who have not experienced domestic violence, but I know women who have. Some are survivors, some are still suffering. But almost all of them are silent. So it's heartening to see blogs like these from women like you.
I would also like to tell you about A Safe World for Women campaign that has just been launched by Women for A Change, an international NPO with whom I work. We had originally started with an idea to hold an event as part of 16 days of activism, but when we dug deeper, into facts and figure, we were so alarmed with it all!

Would you believe that it was 16 years ago that the UN had first drafted a resolution, asking states to work towards elimination of violence against women? Since then there have been many more UN resolutions, but things are as bad as they ever were. In fact they have worsened in some cases.

So we, at WFAC, decided that enough was enough and it was now time to break the cycle and break the silence by bringing all the women together.

I would highly appreciate it if you could please visit our campaign website, and endorse our charter We aim to have a million endorsement and on 8th March, 2011, on the centenary of International Women's Day we will be presenting this charter to the UN and governments across the world.
We are also hosting a survey on the same website. This will help us getting our figures right about violence against women.

Thanks again for writing such a great blog.

Warm regards

Anonymous said...

I also feel moved by this poem. It is so real, so close to my life story.

I found your blog while looking for DV blogs. Hope you can have a look at my diary soon.

Recovering from abuse is never easy and I want to help others to get free of the "trap". This is my healing strategy anyway. All the best, Helen