Thursday

Profile of My Abuser

Somehow, many of us continue to think that an abuser is an obviously deviant character that is easily extracted from a community of ordinary citizens. He must've been in and out of the juvenile delinquent system, as a result of his abusive home, or absent parent household. He must've been a product of poverty and possible illiteracy with ill-equipped surroundings. Perhaps he even murdered small animals.

As an adult, maybe he did drugs or alcohol (a continuation of his youth), or solicited prostitutes. If he went to college, maybe he was a loner or engaged in radical group activism. More commonly, he probably had many relationships with women in which he was equally abusive...

or not?

My abuser came from a solid, small, two-parent, stable, middle-class household. He was seemingly smart, and charismatic. He cared about his education and played sports. Although not very popular, he had a friendly, sociable nature and world-class humor. I mean, I wouldn't have been in a relationship with him had it been otherwise. I was queen of my throne!!!

Then came the kids, the abandonment, the poverty, the anger...the RAGE. It built so slowly that I never recognized it the majority of the time I was in it.

I remember that he was so concerned with his appearance...with effeminate mannerisms to the point of me questioning who was the "woman" in the relationship. He was engaged in rituals with his appearance that were almost ridiculous. In fact, it cost us every extra penny that we had to keep his fatigues new, and crisp, and his boots glassy and scuff free.

He was just like a stage performer. To this day, you'd think I was lying if you saw him. In fact, if everyone that we knew then knew the story now, they'd say I was lying. He excelled in the military like it was a divine gift. And they gave him all the gold stars to go on his chart. A+ for the E-2, aka Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

I'm tired now, I'll give the flip side later...


See also



I have a response for "Ms. Hyde" here.

Wednesday

NCADV Conference Review 1

Well, it's now been a week since the last day of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference--and I said I'd do a review.  I'll start with Friday, July 18.

The hotel was beautiful.  It reminded me of the Titanic.  My children and I felt like royalty walking through the hallways.  I felt out of place at times, wondering if the businessmen there may've thought I was there with "my husband," or better yet, perhaps mistaking me for a call girl/escort.  I know, the strangest things pop into my mind.

The conference began with an institute given by the Battered Women/Former Battered Women Caucus.  I hated to be tardy, and then on top of that, walk into a room full of people that I knew nothing about.  Would I fit in?  I quietly took my seat and immediately was captured by the line of information that was presented.  

I think the question posed was, "What needs to be changed, or addressed concerning the movement?"  The major topics were domestic violence education/awareness and legal action.   I swear everything that was brought up came right from out of my own head...

...Judges need to be educated, the legal system needs to be reformed, father's rights are our archenemies, children have no voice, victims need more of a voice, the domestic violence arena being governmentized (I can't think of the real word)...and so much more.

I couldn't believe the ladies articulated everything that I ever wanted to say.  I can't believe that I spoke up and each time there was such a consensus.  It is the same shit everywhere!  I was comforted in knowing that I wasn't alone, disturbed by the massive prevalence of injustice.  

We represented all around the U.S., some foreign born.  There were a variety of cultures and races. I was astounded at all the color in the room!  There was quite an age range and I may've possibly been the youngest, or one of a couple.  I could hear the wisdom when the older women spoke.  They still remain passionate, dedicated and forward-moving.

Every time I heard someone mention my state(s), or the military, I perked up and turned on my super-hearing.  I needed this knowledge.  They were keen though, because they approached me during the breaks.  I appreciated it.  I needed all the resources I could get.

I left there feeling very proud that I had taken that first step.  I have closed myself in ever since the abuse began, and a decade later, I'm just re-discovering myself.



“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't”--Henry Ford

Tuesday

Minimizing the Crime

Imagine being a victim of a murder...that means you'd be dead--so what is there to imagine? But, upon looking down from heaven, do you say to yourself,
Well, it was just murder!
or,
Damn, I wasn't murdered that bad!
or better still,
At least my murder wasn't worse than hers!

No, that's absurd.  But as a survivor of domestic violence, I am forced to question the crimes in which I was the victim. 

The general disbelief society experiences surrounding these type of crimes against women forces me to re-evaluate my own belief system. I know what is right and wrong, but right and wrong become relative to the situation in which the right or wrong occurred. And society tells women that rape is wrong, but then slaps me in the face when I say something about. The law tells you domestic violence is a crime, but they turn around and shame me for having "participated" in it.

I remember when I called my first domestic violence agency over a year ago. I was nervous as hell, but very frantic.
What is domestic violence? Do you serve victims that do not have scars? Do you serve those that are not recent victims?
I had to ask those questions, as if I never knew what domestic violence was. Funny thing was because I wasn't in immediate danger, this agency referred me to another agency.

I had no physical remnants on my body.  My brain may beg to differ.  I carry around the emotional and psychological scarring which is superficially concealed to the unconcerned eye.  Therefore, I didn't know if the agencies would, or could, serve me.  I mean, how do they help me if I just realized that day that I had been a victim?

I almost felt like a fool.  I wouldn't go to group because I thought that I would see women with bruises and black eyes...and that they would laugh at me for being so lucky.  So they worked with me individually and explained to me the various forms of domestic violence.  I didn't even know that it included marital rape.

That was the beginning of my recovery and the end of my silence.


“Too much mercy... often resulted in further crimes which were fatal to innocent victims who need not have been victims if justice had been put first and mercy second.”--Agatha Christie

Monday

Blog About It: Tools

I am committed to talking about domestic violence and sexual assault until people start giving a damn and doing something about it. I envision that other women will come forward and join me on this blog, or, better yet, create their own blogs.

I am creating tools that can be used throughout the internet. If you are interested in using one, or more, send me a message, and I will give you the link to copy onto your site.

I will update this as I am creatively inspired.

BLOG ABOUT IT!

UPDATE 7/31

Okay bloggers, my vision is to create a network of bloggers that will identify their site as domestic violence and/or sexual assault blogs by using an image below (or maybe even just supporters that can refer seekers back to here). There are many silent victims and survivors online and they can benefit from the information that we are providing from our own unique perspectives.


















Sunday

Rain On Me

I remember when Ashanti's song Rain On Me first came on the radio in 2004.  I didn't like it because it was her--I wasn't too fond of her feathery voice and the fact that she had won a distinctive award in honor of Aretha Franklin.
The song received a lot of air time while I was in Florida minding my business.  A family member pointed out that the song was hot and told me to give it a chance.  He was right.  The beat during the chorus line was off the chain.

It wasn't until I saw the video that I actually listened to the words.  The video featured an old favorite of mine, actor Larenz Tate.  It was a very powerful, on the tougher side to watch because my sexy actor played the role of an abuser.  I remember watching the video many, many times on my computer (I didn't have cable.).  

I never thought about it after that time until a few days ago when I was at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference.  Someone was mentioning celebrities that were on "our side," and they mentioned Ashanti.  I didn't know what they were talking about.

Two days ago, while doing my link list, I came across www.endabuse.org and there was a celebrity list.  It told about Ashanti making Rain on Me to bring attention to domestic violence. I found the extended version (never had heard about it) about 15 minutes ago and have included it in this post.  

It was harder to watch now, because I feel it.  I FEEL IT.  

Saturday

The Paradox of Recusal

Before I had the "privilege" of being represented by an attorney, I was like a dog in shark waters...pro se. I remember having to call the judicial assistant in order to ask a question about something in the paperwork which had confused me.

She was a woman, and at this time, I had delusions that all women were on the same "side." She was brief and sarcastic and raised her voice to admonish me. Immediately, she apologized for "being a bitch" (her words) and told me that she was just "telling me like it was."

When I got off the phone, tears were brewing in my eyes. I was terrified. This is what I was up against? I gained my composure and decided that I could not lose myself at the beginning of the battle.

Several months later, I had to call the assistant again, this time to set my own court date. She got on my ass like a lion on a deer.
YOU'RE NOT LETTING HIM SEE HIS KIDS...
...is among the many statements that she belted out. I can't remember the rest at this time. (Trust me, I told a few people, and I wrote it down.)

She gave me a court date though, two months out. Funny because within a few days, another court date was scheduled by my ex. And then another one. I found it so strange that he could get heard in court so quickly.

I know what happened. The first time he came to court (I was on the telephone), he probably wore his pressed uniform with his boots shinning like glass. He probably spoke to her respectfully, yet seductively, heating her up in the seat of her panties. And I'm sure she admired his stature, as they all do, in this small, military community.

Anyway, as I was completely disturbed by this phone conversation, I called the court's service center and spoke about the situation. They apologized for the judicial assistant's behavior and then cited that she was new, and known to behave in this manner; but that that, of course, did not excuse her behavior. They recommended that I write the Chief Judge about the situation.

Nervously, I did just that. What do I say to a Chief Judge? Well, at least she, too, was a woman.

I explained in my letter exactly what had occurred, detailed with quotes and all. I also informed her that I expected that she handle the matter appropriately because I was fearful of retaliation by my ex, and the judge.

Her response?

I was very shocked that I received a response. I held the letter in my hand proudly and was excited because it arrived rather quickly. I opened it carefully and in summary, it went something like this:
...as Chief Judge, I have many responsibilities...this isn't one of them...if you have a problem with the judge's staff you should refer it to the judge...he is impartial and would handle it accordingly...I have referred this matter to him...if you feel that he is biased, you can ask for recusal...
Holy shit! I was really going to get it now! I lost all hope.

I was supposed to ask this judge, the same judge who had a private conversation with my ex, while I was on the phone during/immediately after the hearing. The same judge who asked if there was a history of abuse, and I responded affirmatively, then he asked if it had been in the past 7 months, and I responded in the negative (because we had been living apart for a couple of years and he had not "visited" in almost one year), and so he ordered unsupervised, overnight visitation. And now I was supposed to ask this same judge, who now knew that I told on his assistant, to step down because I felt that he could not be impartial...and he was supposed to decide this for himself (and me)? WTF?

I was about to get the noose.

Out of total fear, I never did create the motion for recusal. I still thought I had a chance.

Presently, I have the same judge, somehow, even though the record reflects a change in judges over a year ago. I have asked my attorney, to no avail, to try to get me a new judge.

He won't go away.

Friday

Florida is Steadily Creating Victim Laws

(click title for link)

Florida is on fire as far as passing bills for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Barwick Ruschak Act was signed by Governor Crist this month. This act creates a provision for victims of dating violence to be protected by law--because under the term, "domestic violence" per Florida guidelines, non-married persons were excluded.

I really hate to criticize anything that assists victims, but do we need more laws, or tougher enforcement? Hell, we need ENFORCEMENT PERIOD!

Under our current system, there are protections for victims of crimes, be it domestic violence, etc. However, to get the police, the judges, the lawyers, and the damn D.A. to act it is another topic in itself.

Why do we have to wait for people to die, women to die, children to die, before we do something about it? We are a reactive society. And Florida is king.

I wish I could return home.

Thursday

Cowboy Rides for Domestic Violence

(click title for link to article)

Now, we need stuff like this to get more coverage if we are to be concerned with creating a "movement."

A Washington D.C. metro area cowboy (well, actually, there are two cowboys, but I only have a website for one of them) is traveling horseback from Maine, to Florida, in order to raise money for domestic violence. The proceeds benefit a local shelter, Doorways for Women and Families, that serves victims and homeless women and children.

Hats off to the cowboys. Please contribute to their journey on www.saddleupforgood.com.

P.S. They already started!!!!

Wednesday

Where Do I Go From Here?

I mean the title in every direction in which it can applied!  But more so, now that the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) conference has ended, now what?

I have learned about custody issues, the legal system, the father's rights groups, youth resisting violence, battered women and the history of the movement, to name a few...but I can't help but to leave this conference feeling like I don't have the answers I was seeking. Or, more like, there aren't any answers and no jointed effort to make a change at a specified time. I'm not disillusioned by the lack of cohesion, though.  This is expected to some degree when we are talking about a social revolution.

If I could volunteer to be everything to everyone, in every organization, I would...many of us would. This is impractical. I will do my part although I am unsure of how much one woman can accomplish. I suppose that is irrelevant, and I will answer it with part of my essay I wrote to attend this conference:

Building Grassroots Leadership for Social Justice means that we are creating a way for the common people to be activists in the fight against issues that threaten our stability. This must be done because people think they have to wait for a leader to emerge in order for a movement to begin…like waiting for the next Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr…..when, in essence, a movement is created by any random individual that has passion and a commitment to ensuring justice. We need to mobilize the people in our communities and provide a framework for understanding leadership and how we can affect change.

We need a movement.

A special thanks to those who made this possible for me: my best friend and fellow survivor who could not attend the conference, the NCADV Conference Coordinator, and the NCADV YAP Program Coordinator. I absolutely would not have been able to make it there without them.

Stay tuned for post-conference reflections and review.

Tuesday

Forming Relationships

11 pm.  Another long National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) conference day full of a variety of events, to include, the main attraction:  Legislative Action Day. I'm exhausted but I feel accomplished. I'm going to reserve a full review of the conference until a later date ("reserve"....haha...legal speak!).

I'm sad as the final conference day approaches. I have met women and men from across the country, and outside of this country. I have spoken up and told a few about my own personal struggles. I have identified with women who have, or have had, the same exact struggles, and similar stories, or not so similar, too. I have formed relationships (or at least exchanged names, business cards, well, they gave me theirs!) with people from my favorite places: Georgia, Florida, Hawaii...Even the kids have grown fond of the other children and the NCADV staff and volunteers.

I know that the bonds don't ever have to be broken as long as there is at least e-mail, and maybe as long as I have this site up and running. But it feels hard to say goodbye nevertheless. This is probably the most amount of people that I have met, even when compared to the span of my college years. It is hard to meet and converse when you are shy, but more so when you think you are the only person in the world with these problems, or when you feel, no, when you know that people are judging you.

I felt no such discomfort here. I never felt out of place. Never alone. Never felt the need to explain myself or my actions. I never had to repeat my story to the same person, or convince them of anything...I didn't have to sell myself or my ideas...they were taken, I was taken...and accepted, as was everyone there.

This is the biggest gift I could have received during this challenging part of my life. Thank you to everyone and to God, if ever there were a God, for putting me in the right place at the right time.

Side note, I don't think I can possibly wake up early again to be there at 8 tomorrow--but I hate to miss anything.  We'll see!

Monday

Links and Connections

UPDATED 9/28, 9/12, 8/4, 8/1, 7/26, 7/24

Another long day at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) conference. A big day, Legislative Action Day, is tomorrow. So, this one will be brief again.

I had the privilege of meeting domestic violence advocates from a variety of agencies, and survivors from all over the world. The important things about this event are finding like minds, sharing experiences, and building networks. 

I will provide a list of links of everyone that I have come across. In the near future, I will add a tab to my site, and you will easily be able to find the running list of links there, along with a short description. 

For now, I'll start with:

Battered Mother's Custody Conference

Battered Women's Justice Project

Belize Survivor

Bella Online

The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute

Center for the Advancement of Women

The Center for Survivor Agency and Justice

Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence

Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project

Domestic Violence and Mental Health Policy Initiative

The Greenbook Initiative

Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community

Justice for Children

Legal Momentum

Legal Resource Center on Violence Against Women

National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence

National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Family Court Watch Project

National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence (Alianza)

National Organization for Women

New York Model for Batterer Programs

Small Justice www.smalljustice.com
This isn't an organization but rather a documentary available for purchase.  The blog to the website is not current.

Stop Family Violence
www.stopfamilyviolence.org

Voices of Women Organizing Project

Women's E News


Zorza Associates

Sunday

UN-medicated

I was on medication on and off for a couple of years. I didn't know any better. I told the doctor my symptoms and he was supposed to make me better. My hair was shedding like a dog, my skin had the acne of teenage years, my head ached a deathly pain, and my stomach seemed to be upset with me--to name a few...

He gave me my first antidepressant. I was so embarrassed because it was such a popular, yet controversial medication. People were committing suicide because of it...or so my mom said. And on top of that, he didn't tell me he was giving it to me for depression. It was for "somatic complaints." He told me that this antidepressant was used to treat chronic conditions, like migraines. But it was more than that. HE knew I was depressed.

I came back repeatedly over the course of 12 months to get the medication changed...one, two, three, four times. The side effects were further straining my marriage. I was so groggy sometimes, and very hard to awaken. One time I felt like I was spinning around in circles. All I could do was hold on tight to the pillow, with my head.

One day I woke up and decided I didn't need any meds. I wasn't sick. My body was angry with me for not letting the things in my mind and heart get heard. It was erupting. Against the doctors orders, I stopped using the meds abruptly. The only thing it had helped me to do was feel dead. DEAD. The opposite of ALIVE. I could not feel anything. I was indifferent. I knew this wasn't right. In order to feel, I had to be alive. In order to think, I had to be alive.

Un-medicated, I was able to make a plan. And that's how I got out.

Saturday

The Military and Domestic Violence

A painful day for me as I was not able to attend the NCADV conference. Since I am tired nevertheless, I will be brief again and provide another link in the title of this article.

The Department of Defense (DoD) breaks down "domestic issues" issues as follows:

Domestic abuse is (1) domestic violence or (2) a pattern of behavior resulting in emotional/psychological abuse, economic control, and/or interference with personal liberty that is directed toward a person of the opposite sex who is: (a) a current or former spouse; (b) a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common; or (c) a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.

Domestic Violence is an offense under the United States Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), or state law that involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force or violence against a person of the opposite sex, or a violation of a lawful order issued for the protection of a person of the opposite sex, who is (a) a current or former spouse; (b) a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common; or (c) a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.

“Domestic abuse” is the umbrella definition, describing acts that are both criminal (part 1 of the definition) and non-criminal (part 2 of the definition) in nature. “Domestic violence” focuses on acts that qualify as offenses or crimes.


Take particular notice of how the classify the two. Also let me point out that DoD makes it clear that the victim does not have to have a child in common with the perpetrator, only a residence.

Friday

Florida's Domestic Violence

I am exhausted due to day one of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)conference. So, I will be brief and put a link in the title of this article.

The question to be asked is, What is domestic violence, according to Florida law? You will find this in the Florida Statutes, title XLIII, Chapter 741:
"Domestic violence" means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

"Family or household member" means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
It is important to note that this information is found in the title, domestic relations, and the chapter subject of marriage. I will speak more on this later.

Thursday

I'm Ready

I have $60 to my name--well actually, it's not my $60, it actually belongs to Capital One!--and I'm trying to figure out how to make it stretch during this six-day conference. Thank goodness I won this scholarship, otherwise I wouldn't be going. And thank goodness I'm in the area, else I definitely wouldn't be able to afford to stay in a hotel in D.C.

I feel like I'm about to be the poorest woman there. Near homeless, too. I would almost be embarrassed to go had I not been looking forward to this event for about six months. My children and I need this. I'm not nervous anymore. I'm ready.

"You never find yourself until you face the truth." -- Bruce Lee

Wednesday

Pre-Conference Jitters

I have finally read the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) agenda for the upcoming conference.  I am so nervous that I may need to practice breathing exercises.  In fact, I believe I may be more nervous now than went I went to report my account of domestic violence to the military.

What's the big deal?

When I reported it to the military, and to the police, I assumed that they didn't really care, and I knew that they wouldn't, or couldn't, do anything about it.  It was just me against them--my word, against his prospective words (since he had no prior knowledge that I would do this).  I just wanted an official report, a hard-copy document.

This conference involves thousands of people who witness my same story on a regular basis. There will be victims, survivors, and advocates in attendance.  There will be mutual respect and support.  They will have information that I've never been presented with.  I have never had this sense of community--which I why I created this site. 

I am not a member of any group or organization.  I am very shy and reserved around strangers. On top of this, I have only identified with being a victim, or survivor, within that past year.  This is new to me although the struggle has permeated my life for many years.

I think my fear is being emotional...not overly emotional, but emotional period.  As a result of my experiences, I have learned to bottle myself up to maintain my composure and strength. This may be a weakness but it has allowed me to accomplish what I have thus far.  Perhaps I can finally exhale.

"To give vent now and then to his feelings, whether of pleasure or discontent, is a great ease to a man's heart". ~Francesco Guicciardini

Tuesday

Military Engagement, part 1

I decided to take a my first major step in breaking the silence by reporting a history of domestic violence to the military. It took me almost a decade to get to this point. I was keenly aware of the fact that this could blow up in my face. The military is a government entity, and the government is not fond of potential rabble-rousers. And, on top of that, I've always been of the conspiracy theorist type.

While being married to the most family friendly military branch of them all, I learned that they really don't give a damn about you, unless you are the active duty member. They feign concern by following outdated protocol and concluding with a written report that is obscure and one-sided.

Even my family was against the idea of taking this step. It was as if I had been a Russian spy while working for Homeland Security. They thought I would be harmed...or even assassinated. They feared the backlash. I considered it and was aware of all my options and consequences, but I feared nothing or no one.

I just wanted to tell the truth. And I wanted the truth to be known, and written. I had no expectations other than that they would do nothing...


Monday

Family Illusions

You're so stupid!  You're so ghetto!  You're a bad mother!  You're bipolar!  You're crazy!  You're still poor!  You're evil!  You're so filthy and dirty!  Every time you come around you bring your problems and your drama!  You're always right!  You don't listen to anybody! 


I wish I could say that I'm in this situation, or was a victim, because I grew up in a violent home, that I was molested or physically abused by a family member, that I came from a single parent home, that I grew up on welfare, and that I have no education. I wish I could show everyone that I match the statistics that lie in their afterthoughts, or whatever they think about women that have been in domestic violence.

The truth is, I grew up in an average sized family. My parents were and are hard-working middle class Americans. They provided every material thing I could ever need. I grew up in the suburbs and went to excellent schools. We traveled all across the United States. I got a piano for Christmas. We lived the American dream unlike the former lives of my parents, who did grow up in poverty.

Only now, looking back, do I completely acknowledge that my family was dysfunctional in another sense. Communication and emotion. My mother was very strong and my father seemed rather passive. I knew if I wanted something, I'd ask my dad. But if he asked me to ask my mom, the answer would be no. They would toss me back and forth like this.

There were no displays of affection between them, and thus none between them and me as I grew older. I was the firstborn child and they were the scared parents, so we lived most of my teenage life in a constant battle for trust and freedom. Neither of which I ever received. Therefore, I took my freedom, and continuously lost their trust.

Nothing I would do was right, or good enough--good behavior, good grades, school activities, awards...And although I wasn't an approval-seeking child, my parents never approved of anything I did, or wanted to do. In hindsight, this was an emotionally and psychologically abusive household. And I left it as soon as I could--headed straight for disaster.

I've been back in the family house for almost a year now. Nothing has changed. I know, without a doubt, why I "escaped" before, and I feel like running again now. Living here has been one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.

The sentences at the beginning of this entry, were things that my mother "allowed" my sister say to me last night during an argument which was bound to erupt due to the tension in the household. I say allowed because my mother did not defend me, nor ask my sister to correctly cite her accusations. Even if the statements are true, what gives anyone the right to be so judgmental, especially when they have not seen the things that I have seen or been through even the remotest of my life's events?

I refuse to defend myself against my own family. My energies are diverted elsewhere and this is the first time in my life that I have felt so focused and empowered.

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.”~Paulo Coelho

Sunday

The Counseling Dilemma

I went to counseling because I needed to talk to somebody about my situation--but that situation didn't initially involve physical violence. I needed someone to listen to me and to validate my feelings.

It felt odd because while she was trying to assess me, I was trying to assess her. I needed to determine if the environment was safe and nonjudgemental. I sat there wondering,
Is she married? Does she like her job? What does she think of me? Does she believe me?
All of these questions were significant because it would determine if I would really tell her the truth, or only answer as I thought she wanted to hear.

I surveyed everything in her office. I studied the paintings on the wall to see what type of environment she intended to create. I read all of the titles on the books on her shelf to see what type of background knowledge she possessed. I looked at the screensaver on her monitor to determine what she thought was aesthetic.

It took a few sessions before I felt halfway comfortable. The main reason I relaxed is that she told me she had married young, and had been divorced--now re-married. This was reassurance that she was not "ordinary," or removed from the trials of real life. She was a human being to whom I could relate, and possibly vice versa. It established a baseline from which I could test her by uncovering more and more of my personal details.

I hated my life. I hated my then husband. But, I hated myself the most for "allowing" my life to turn out that way. I was in a remote location outside of a small city. The military base was all I had and I found no solace in it. The military, in a sense, was against me for failing to deal with "my problems" according to their standards.

He was against me, too, for failing to dealing with "my problems" within his timeframe. Every time I went to counseling, he ridiculed me. One time, he got very close to my face and said, in the most elementary school of all voices, something like,
Randi has to go to counseling, because Randi has problems.
I even asked if he wanted to go together--I heard that couples did that when they had marital issues. He answered in the negative, asserting that he didn't have a problem, I had a problem.

And I did. So, I stopped going to counseling after a couple of months.


“When we turn to one another for counsel we reduce the number of our enemies.”~Kahlil Gibran

Saturday

...and Some of Them are Women

It would be simple if I could limit my hatred to all men, or maybe, all ignorant men, or even solely abusive males, who THINK they are men; but, it isn't that simple...because some of them are women.

"Them" who? Let me give some examples.

A. My ex's attorney is a woman. I have not yet seen her. I know nothing about her, nor her practice/firm. This woman is defending the rights of a "man," who perhaps should have no rights in the given circumstance. She is supporting a man who has abused women and children for nearly a decade. She is speaking for a man who is only concerned with his own best interest. Does she know this? Does she believe this? Does it matter?

B. I was referred to an agency that provides legal assistance to low income persons and victims of domestic violence. It so happened that the attorney I consulted with was a woman. I had great hopes that she would be able to advocate for me and defend me. The main thing that has been etched into my memory was this (paraphrased, at best):
I have seen children overcome the most harsh abuse...Children are so resilient...The abuse is in the past and the children must move forward...And fathers have rights...if this is about money, see if you can offer him to pay a lower child support amount in exchange for [your own rights].
I could not believe this came from out a woman's mouth, let alone an attorney. Does she really believe in this? And if she doesn't isn't it in her means to change something as a representative of the law? as a representative of women?

C. I have a female family member that insists that consequences are the result of people's poor decision-making. What she really means is that whatever has happened to you, is your fault. She has a minimal amount of empathy and/or sympathy for those that are suffering.

I accept responsibility for my actions, however, the logic she presents is flawed. Perhaps, if I didn't get married then I wouldn't have found myself subjected to any abuse, but it didn't begin in the marriage. Perhaps if I didn't get into a relationship with a man, it would not have happened...but let's go further. Perhaps if I didn't have sex with a man, it would not have happened...Perhaps if I did not befriend a man, it would not have happened...Perhaps if I did not know a man, it would not have happened...and ultimately...Perhaps if there were NO men, it would not have happened.

It is like being a driver--you can be aware of other drivers, the roads, and your surroundings. You can be the most cautious, careful driver in the world. But you can't control the actions of another driver who comes and crashes into you without a moment's notice. Is that your fault, too?

I must admit though, because I was raised in a highly judgmental environment, I grew to be one of "those" women. I was quick to raise a defense for a man, especially a Black man, involved in a crime...even if that crime was rape. I was your classic "maybe she didn't carry herself well" or "maybe she wasn't clear with her intent" female hater. It wasn't that I didn't believe the women, I just didn't identify with the victim.

I am changed, but so many women are not. As I browse around online message boards and listen to media commentary, I hear and see that there are many out there. How can you demean your sistas? How can you misrepresent women in the face of male-dominated industries? How can you turn your backs on children and their mothers? How can you site inaccurate and skewed statistics and blame victims. Your schemes are ill-conceived and you are a threat the stability and future of women worldwide. There will always be sexism until your ignorance and antics are abolished.

The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it.”--Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday

State Comforts Sexual Assault Victims

In Florida, Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill to grant sexual assault victims three days of leave from work, and name exemption from public records to public workers. (Click title for link to article.)

Does this mean that non public workers' names will NOT be shielded? And three days, that is a good beginning. However, in three days involving a rape, the drama hasn't even completely unfolded.

I need to talk to this man! Thank you, although I have to see more of the specifics.

(And to the ignorant "joetampa" who commented on the article: No, it isn't the state's "constituted duty" to "comfort" anyone; however, I believe it is a constituted right to be protected. And since everyone cannot be protected because of our divine free will, certain things have to be put in place in order to assist those who are victims, from being further victimized. You could think of it this way, dear joe, how about, instead of getting those three days of leave, she is fired, or quits her job to go on welfare, so she can be supported by your tax dollars. Is that better? Also, the sexism impartation is, equally sexist. Where do women get better law enforcement? Law enforcement is often the most sexist dominion of them all.)

For My Sistas

Those who are triply oppressed are silenced in the domestic violence movement because they are overburdened in other arenas of their lives. Domestic violence is the ultimate peril to a woman already suffering from role overload; and yet her other social and economic struggles force her to muffle her cries.

In her journey, the voice, that longs to speak up about her trauma, is inundated in her quest for financial stability and freedom from the constraints of racism. And when nearing the brink of perceived success, remnants of past violence become salient and threaten current and future relationships.

Since her image is so distorted, she never receives credit, nor gives credit to herself, for surviving her harsh past. We must give special attention to those in this particular category so that justice for all women can be achieved.

"Usually, when people talk about the “strength” of black women they are referring to the way in which they perceive black women coping with oppression. They ignore the reality that to be strong in the face of oppression is not the same as overcoming oppression, that endurance is not to be confused with transformation." ~ bell hooks

Thursday

I Never Knew

I never knew I was a victim of any form of domestic violence until eight years later. My image of it was that of an old Lifetime movie on a Sunday: a middle-aged White woman in the suburbs getting brutally beat by her womanizer husband, or a low-income White woman with a drunken spouse who used her as a punching bag.

Those descriptions did not fit my life. My spouse used sexual violence against me, and physical violence with the children, compounded with emotional and psychological torture. No one had a clue. We gave a wonderful presentation as an attractive, young, military family, with a wife in college, and a husband who excelled at work.

Inside I was screaming. And there were clues if any one had been cautious enough to dig below the superficial. The only solution was to medicate me with antidepressants because something was wrong with me. My body was thrown out of equilibrium and everything was going wrong with it. If I did not kill myself, I knew my body would do it for me.

I kept my focus on my children and on my schooling. As a mother, I was guardian of my children and every chance I could, I stood between them and their father in order to bear the brunt of his self-hatred. I knew that education was my only way out of poverty, and thus the ticket to our independence. I saw an exit. I planned. We escaped.

"My eyes, my brain seek out escape routes wherever I am sent."~Jack Henry Abbott

Their Stories

This is a compilation of mothers' stories, submitted by them throughout the blogs.

Applaud them for their courage; weep with them in their sorrow; pray for them for their strength. But that won't be enough. Can someone please help them?


(emphasis and links mine, possible minor edits for clarity)


I am writing this entry so as to let everyone know what is going on. 2 yrs ago, from Feb 7th 2009, my lil girl's dad and my ex husband went to court without my knowing and told a lot of lies, which the judge took hearsay as truth. I had the judge put under investigation which he was found guilty, of what exactly I don’t know, they wouldn’t tell me. But I did get him disqualified from my case.

When I got a new judge he only over turned the custody of my oldest because it wasn’t an ongoing case like with my youngest daughter. My lil girl's dad had been trying to get custody since 2004 and the first judge refused to even give him joint. So, he abided his time until a new judge was put on the bench. So anyways, I went in front of this new judge that was given to me and he placed my oldest daughter into state custody until an investigation could be done.

Of course the first case worker on the case just happened to be friends with my ex husband, so for 3 months I had to fight the D.C.S/dept. of children services. They never would do an actual investigation, but the DCS worker ended up getting fired and 24hrs after she was fired I got my oldest back. Of course it was 3 months later and $3000 dollars shorter, and of course because I could no longer afford to keep paying my attorney he refused to go after my youngest lil girl, and I've not had the money to get another attorney and no one in the court system will listen to me with out one.

My lil girl's dad is addicted to prescription drugs he has had 2 brothers to die from accidental over doses, one in 2003 and one in 2007. When we was together as a couple he would beat the crap out of me over my prescription headache meds I got 90 pills a month and he would have them all taken in less than a week. I've reported him to cps/child protective services but they refuse to do anything. I've tried getting the cops to go check on my lil girl but her dad's niece is a dispatcher there so they wont do anything.

All I want is my lil girl back, where I know she is safe. It's bad enough that I can't see her or talk to her but I've been told that her dad has told her I’m dead. But all I want is for my lil girl to know I’m alive and to know I love her and that I’m trying to get her back. THIS IS MY STORY FOR THOSE THAT WANTS TO KNOW THANKS

Comment by Linda Hall — March 8, 2009 @ 11:50 pm

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I have had an enduring battle for rights to my kids for two years now. My story is too long to tell on here but I am so thankful to know I am not alone and that I too have been a victim to the courts.

I was married for 7 years and stayed home with my children each and everyday. My ex husband was very controlling and abused my children behind my back. I have three children with him. After the third child I found out that my oldest son had been really abused by my ex-husband and I took him to a psychologist. I decided to leave my husband and move away to Washington where my parents lived. My ex’s family lived in the area too.

When I filed the divorce papers he tried to tell the courts that I stole them from him and that he never moved to Washington. The courts denied my rights to proceed due to us not living in Washington state long enough (6) months. He then threatened to get me for kidnapping the children in Nebraska State so I went back to Nebraska to seek legal advice. At this point I spent $2000.00 on attorney fees. The advice I was given was to wait till I was a legal resident of Washington so I did that.

During that waiting period my ex husband began to harass me calling me all the time, emailing me, knowing what buttons to push and some how I believed him because that’s what an abuser dose. I became overwhelmed and started having postpartum when my son was 9 months of age. I didn’t think at the time a mother could have that but I know now that I did. All The emotional hurt and pain that I tucked away inside of me began to come out. I with drawled myself from everyone and became very depressed to the point that I felt like running away from everything. Like I had a melt down. SO I went on a plane and visited a friend of mine just to get away for two weeks.

My ex husband found out and took my kids from my mom and went to the court house and filed a willfull abandonment against me and got a restringing order too. I wasn’t able to see or talk to them. That just made me more depressed and I got myself into trouble with another man same type of characteristics, but this man was into drugs. I never did them with him but a coped pulled us over and the drugs where in the car so we both got arrested for it. SO I ended up getting stuck on that so called vacation for six months. I feared to take the plea because I didn’t want to loose my children or have that on my record. I was a good mother who had been with the wrong type of men I never did drugs nor ever had a speeding ticket or any criminal back ground. Finally I took the plea because it was taking way too long to go to trial and I needed to get back to Washington to finalize my divorce.

When I went to court the judge ordered me no rights to my kids till I had a third party that my ex could agree on. He would not agree on anyone. The judge ordered me to go through drug assessments to see if I really was a druggy and so I did the assessment came back with no concerns of drugs just that I have been abused by men. The judge wanted a statement from my doctors stating that I didn’t have postpartum and so I got that. Than he allowed me visitations.

My ex-husband tried to make my life a living hell. He assaulted me and than told the police that I was just trying to say anything to get my kids back. He would send me emails saying I wish you would just get out of our lives and leave us a lone. He would fight with my family and lie to my kids about me telling them I didn’t want them anymore. The list goes on and on. I felt like every time he would do something wrong towards me or my children that I wasn’t being herd by the law. He got away with everything. Just because he had money and I didn’t.

In the spring 0f 08 my ex called me and told me he met a girl online and was moving to Boston with the kids. He would not tell me when. I told my attorney at the time but we couldn’t do anything until he gave us a statement. I began to ask the daycare where my children went to school for free yes I say for free because they knew my ex very well and how he treated my children. I asked them for written statements so that he would not be allowed to move away with them. They helped me I am so thankful for their willingness. They even came to court and testified, but the judge would not hear them. These people had been in my kids life for two years everyday of the week most of the day and all the judge could say is well if you thought he was unfit why didn’t u make a cps report.

My ex had hired a guy that was used in the courts many times to see if the relocation would be the best for the children. He spent 1500.00 the guy interviewed the future wife, my ex and my children on two separate occasions. Not once did he see me with my children, not once did he interview me. He told the judge it would make things more complicated but really he meant well had I paid him the same amount that he would have interviewed me.

In the end the judge told me because I never got a psychological evaluation from a psychologist that he would allow the move and that I still had every other weekend visitations but could not have them for the summers till I go it. My attorney never told me that a counselor one wasn’t good enough till the day before the hearing.

I feel like my own attorney didn’t even represent me and I had spent 6 grand by now. I have no income but tanf and that wasn't a lot.

My kids moved away two weeks later. It was heart breaking for them and me. I told them that I will keep trying to fight for them and that someday we will be together again. I tried many times to find them he never gave the courts a legit address or a phone number. I felt hopeless because all the effort I put in to having some relationship with my children was once again taken from me. That one moment of weakness I had out weight a man with a history of abusing my children. I felt the court made me look like a horrible mother and didn’t even try to understand me because I didn’t have money nor did I know the justice system. I thought that if I did what they asked that they would see that I was fit.

7 months went by and out of the blue my ex emails me after many attempts from my part to get a phone number and address. He tells me if I want to talk to my children I need to buy a cell phone and mail it yet dosen’t give me a address. He also tells me if I wanted my kids in the summer I need to pay a reasonable amount of child support, but then states the court wont go for me having my kids for the summer because my youngest son dosen’t know me anymore.

A month later he gives me a phone number to call the kids so I called them and his wife was very nice allowing me to talk with them. I was happy to hear their voices. I bought a webcam to see them, but my ex began to control me through that not allowing the children to talk to me without him listening to the phone calls and sitting right in the middle of the webcam so I dont really get to have privacy with my kids.

Comment by Christeen — March 5, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

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After my divorce in 2003, I was the residential parent of my 2 children. The following years I had to endure continuous verbal abuse and harassment from their dad through phone conversations and email. One of those emails I received from him stated that he wants to take the kids from me so they can start forgetting about me and move on with their life. I decided to obtain my bachelors to better the life of our little family and as a way to get away from that constant abuse. I finished my degree with a 4.0 in June of 07. A job offer followed, which required us to move from OH to WA. After consulting my attorney, he said to go ahead, as the court would not object to this move considering the evidence we had against my ex husband. Come to find out the court decided that “they will have to look into the best interest of the children”. Over a year later, the decision is that even though they agree that I am the better fit parent the children are staying with their dad (who is manipulating my children by calling me names and making up lies) because I moved too far away.

So much for a free country! Oh yes, and my attorney said that if I would decide to move back to OH the court would give me the kids back without any questions.

I believe the real reason of why my children are not allowed to be with the parent that has raised them since they were born is either the judge believes in the dad’s right or a steady income as long as they stay in their jurisdiction…or both…definitely not the best interest of the children.

Comment by KBell — February 13, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

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It has been 16 yrs and pending - Sadly my “wasband” and “abuser” is actually one of the founders of the Father Manefesto 66 - The abuse of my children through the CA court system was worse than the physical/emotional violence HE did- They allowed a violent man use the system that I could not challenge due to financial limitations and other challenges that were a domino effect from his initial abuse. He has had custody of our daughter even though there were restraining orders having her name against him, civil judgments against him….He was able to pay for 730 evals that were so bias as he was arrested during the process for DV in front of a police dept onto my children and I…Whereas the police were our own witnesses it was never noted in the 730….That HE PAID FOR.

There are volumes of court files remain…All the while for safety my other children whom were not biologically related to our abuser had to flee the state for our lives…All the while he has our daughter whom I haven’t seen for (5) years even though I have a CA PO BOX , CA cell phone and email that she can access whereas I have attempted to remain in contact in ever way possible. There is an active court order whereas he is to take her to an attorneys office for private phone calls one hour a week whereas we can speak with one another- Out of 52 weeks we had only (4) calls as he would call and cancel the moment of the call using transportation challenges (the office was a mile away from his residence) to conflict of school activities such as school photos taking place at 4:30 p.m. (did I mention she is in public school and school photos are taken during the day)

There is far more challenges of his continued abuse by using the legal forum, personal forum for PAS of our daughter….Sadly, there isn’t enough space or time to share the history that has consumed our family…In addition we are very much a “cookie cutter” example of what plagues our society by giving the abuser vindication to his continued abusive behavior….Our daughter (children) are the ones who “lose” over all…Will there ever be a “win-win” for the children who endure such life challenges….When will there ever be a justice system that really places the children FIRST…I didn’t give birth to give her up ….I love & miss her each and every moment of each and every day….Is she safe???!!!!! Does she know how much I do love her????

Comment by Suzi C. — December 9, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

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Finally the truth. In all of the internet searching I’ve ever done I’ve never come across one mother’s rights site. I have been in the battle of my life for the last 7 years. It is rife with fraud and corruption but I cannot afford to fight back. This has taken place in Snohomish County. The court case is 96-5-00120-1 State of Washington in the parentage of Zachary Williams vs William Berke and Tamara Williams. If anyone is interested in reading 15 volumes of court documentation please join in. It is the sickest case of injustice you may have ever seen. It is not over by far.

Comment by Tami Williams — October 21, 2008 @ 5:34 am

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Wednesday

Lessons Learned

(title inspired by an Alicia Keys song)

In college, I learned about my people. I learned that we are strong women that have carried our race forward in the face of hell on earth. We are protectors, activists, teachers, and down right queens of the throne…and yet, even though I recognize my heritage, I have been afraid to look at myself in the mirror because I cannot appreciate my own beauty. I have been hiding from the world because I do not wish to explain my actions, or lack thereof.

“They” have always assured me that God never gives me any more than I can handle. If that is the case, I feel the Lord must be preparing me to rule the world. I need to begin by sharing what I have learned during my journey:

If you didn’t report it to the police immediately, then it may not have happened.
If there is any delay in reporting it, then it probably didn’t happen.
If you didn’t go to the hospital, it may not have happened.
If you don’t have any torn clothing or bruises (or photos), it may not have happened.
If you didn’t have any semen or vaginal tearing, it probably didn’t happen.
If your doctor didn’t notice or report anything, it probably didn’t happen.
If you didn’t scream or the neighbors didn’t hear anything, it’s likely that it didn’t happen.
If you didn’t seek a restraining order, it probably didn’t happen.
If you’ve been in court on another issue, and you didn’t mention it then, it couldn’t have happened.
If you married him, it definitely didn’t happen.
The military stands by its active duty member and will support him to no avail.
When you finally do report it, its probably retaliatory in nature.

How can I uphold a positive self-image in the face of these lessons learned? Sometimes I feel like Tupac, it’s just me against the world! Although I am still standing, I continue to be abused by the system that is supposed to protect me. (Deep down, every minority knows that the system does not protect, but we have this false hope that the next time will be different.)

I have heard the same bullsh** theme from judges, attorneys, social workers, and even some advocates: “Get over it!” But which part do I try to get over first: the fact that I am Black, that I am a woman, that I am poor, that I am a single mother, or that I have been abused? Or it is that you think I am a liar, or that I deserved it? Too bad for you that I have learned that this is a bad reflection upon you, not me; but I am forced to deal with your ignorance.

I am tired and worn from the battles. During the few glimpses that I sneak in the mirror, I can see my warrior wounds. I may have been damaged physically and mentally, but I can feel my spirit regenerating and my own power frightens me. Harriet Tubman must have felt the same way.  

And so I must reclaim myself by embracing the history of my ancestors and letting that strength guide me. The only explanation I have to provide is that I am beautiful as the result of lessons learned.

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on. "~ Robert Frost

Tuesday

They are All Men...

Every time I receive something in the mail from my attorney, my heart rate accelerates and I feel nauseated. I am often afraid to check my e-mail for fear of another inflammatory response from him. I never thought I would feel this way about someone who is supposed to be representing my interests. But he is man.

The judge is a man, my ex is supposed to be a man, the police are men...I feel like they are all attacking me. The violence never ends.

"I have ne'er been in a chamber with a lawyer when I did not wish either to scream with desperation or else fall into the deepest of sleeps, e'en when the matter concern'd my own future most profoundly."--Erica Jong

Monday

A Call to Victims

I know you feel the urge to press your lips together tightly, to turn your head the opposite direction in order to move forward and build the life you deserve. I respect you for doing what you must in order to survive. But I beg you to take a step to tell your own story, to make a report and free your spirit from the secrets that have clung to your soul and weighed you down during the quiet moments of reflection.

Domestic violence and sexual assault statistics are grossly misrepresented due to underreporting by the victims. We don't have to suffer in silence. For years I thought I was the only one, only to find out that I was one of many. I have been shunned by authorities and those that stand in opposition, AND in agreement. I refuse to be silenced any longer.

If there is fear in your heart, use me as your voice and I will speak your words. Please contact me. Tell me your story, your journey, your struggles...

"Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."--Margaret Mead

Sunday

NCADV

For my first blog post, I invite you to attend a conference this month held by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).  It will be located in Washington D.C., July 18-23.  
You do NOT have to be a victim to attend. You can sponsor a victim.  You can support a victim. You can lend a listening ear and become educated--because "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

Further information can be found on the NCADV website.

Saturday

About

Randi James is a site dedicated to domestic violence victims, survivors, support persons and advocates. Its purpose is to create a sense of community and to acquire a unique understanding for those in the journey.

As this is my personal blog, I will not commit to censorship. My writing displays the realism of the continuous tribulations faced by those dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault. The information contained within may be offensive.

If you would like to contribute information, writing, images, links, banner exchanges, etc., please contact me via post-comment, e-mail, or guestbook. Anonymity will be respected if it allows you to break the silence.



Articles submitted do not have to be scholarly/academic in nature. Opinion-based articles reflect the views of the individual contributer/writer and not necessarily the view of Randi James. We are here to support each other.

This site will not be used to harass or threaten victims/survivors. Our voices need to be heard, even if it is in direct conflict with societal views. Occasionally, dissenting views may be published as a means to correct the current propaganda that continues to thrive in the popular view. I allow this so that we can arm ourself with the misinformation and combat it with appropriate literature. However, please note that I reserve the right to respond in an inflammatory manner depending upon my current availability of emotional resources. I am a survivor in the struggle.

If you are new to all of this...perhaps you have just gotten jumped into the family court system...this will all seem like a nightmare...like you are in the twilight zone. Everyone will try to convince you that you are psycho and that there is no conspiracy and that you are exaggerating, better yet, lying. Judges do not have to rule by the law, attorneys do not have to utilize the law, psychologists evade the laws, and together they formulate/re-write laws. You are up against money and perversion...corruption at its best. Keep reading and stay tuned to the other blogs to which I have linked. I pray that one day you, too, will have courage.