Tag Archives: domestic violence

Guns & Mental Health: Missing the Point Again

As we all know by now, there was a horrific school shooting in Florida on Feb. 14.  17 students and teachers were killed when a former student shot them with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

There have been 34 mass shootings since January 1st of this year…and it’s only February 21 (“Mass Shootings”, Gun Violence Archive website).

Total stats on gun violence (from January to February 2018), including “unintentional” shootings and “defensive use” are as follows:

Total # of incidents: 7,481

# of deaths: 2,072

# of injuries: 3,543

# of children (0-11 years) killed or injured: 79

# of teens (12-17 years) killed or injured: 395

Home invasion: 308

Defensive use: 213

Unintentional shooting: 240

This doesn’t include suicide, police deaths, or death by cop (Ibid.).

Contrast these numbers with the pediatric death rate (so far) during this year’s flu season (December until now in February): 84.

And this is considered an epidemic.  People are being urged to get a flu shot, get their kids flu shots, wash their hands, be wary in public spaces, and so on.  As well they ought to be.

But talk about gun violence?  Sure, as long as no one mentions guns.

I think that’s crazy.  “Deaths due to guns” is the only topic I can think of that doesn’t usually address what is a major reason for all these deaths – guns.

7 of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in the country have involved the AR-15, or similar weapons:

The Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada (Oct. 2017, 59 killed, including the shooter)

The Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida (June 2016, 49 killed) *

Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut (Dec 2012, 27 killed, including the shooter)

First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (Nov 2017, 27 people killed, including the shooter) *

U of Texas, Austin, Texas (Aug 1966, 19 killed, including the shooter) *

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida (Feb 2018, 17 killed)

Inland Regional Center in San Bernadino, California (Dec 2015, 16 killed, including the shooters)

*Weapon used was similar to the AR-15.

The point is, semi-automatic weapons can kill a lot of people in a very short time.  That is their purpose – to kill people.

They are not used for hunting.  They are military weapons.  There is no need – I don’t care who you are – for a private citizen to own these types of weapons.

If you must buy a gun, buy a handgun.  Buy a shotgun.  Buy a hunting rifle. You can defend yourself with any of these.  Banning assault weapons or military-grade weapons does not violate anyone’s Constitutional right to bear arms (“Supreme Court Justices Allow Ban on High Capacity Guns”, Lyle Denniston, Constitution Daily website, 11/27/2017).

Which brings us to the “mental illness” component.

Many people, including the Idiot-in-Chief, are calling for stricter controls to prevent “mentally ill people” from buying guns.

Aside #1: You ought to be wary of any stand 45 takes, as it inevitably is the wrong one.  This case is no exception.

Let’s look at this logically, ok?  For which mental illnesses are you going to prevent people from owning guns?

Depression?  Ok, that’s 8.2% of the population (19.4 million adults).

Anxiety/panic disorders?  Ok, that’s (in total, all forms of anxiety) 22.3% of the population (49 million adults).

PTSD? Ok, that’s 3.5% of the population (7.7 million adults). (“Facts & Statistics”, Anxiety and Depression Association of America website)

And those are just the people who go for help.  The actual numbers are higher.

“Well, hey now,” you might be thinking, “I mean really crazy people, like psychotics or people with bipolar disorder and the like.”

Ok, here are more facts for you:

Only 3-5% of all violence, including gun violence, can be attributed to people with severe mental illness (“Gun Violence and Mental Illness: Myths and Evidence-Based Facts”, Joel Miller, American Mental Health Counselors Association website, 10/3/2017).

Most gun violence is perpetuated by people who are, well, violent.  As in, people who engage in domestic violence, have severe problems with drugs and/or alcohol, have a history of being violent towards others in general…you know, the kind of people who often get referred to “anger management classes”.

Having conducted those kinds of classes, I can tell you – they don’t work.

They don’t work because people who are violent do not see their anger as unreasonable.  They don’t see it as odd, or a bad alternative to other ways to handle conflict, and sometimes they see it as “self-defense”.

As in, “He called me a (insert insult here) so I hit/shot/threw something at him.”

I cannot even count how many times I heard that.  They really think that retaliating with physical violence against any form of disrespect constitutes “self-defense”, and no amount of reasoning can convince them otherwise.

And that point of view cuts across all race and class lines.  I’ve seen every kind of person express that idea, from the Mississippi Delta to inner city Memphis to Central Pennsylvania, and beyond.

It’s not a big leap to imagine that someone with a grievance against someone – or against people in general – who has that attitude towards anger and revenge is going to go out and buy a weapon that can kill as many people as possible.

Is that “mental illness”?  No, in my opinion, that’s not clinically “mental illness”.

Some could argue that yeah, it is, no doubt due to a personality disorder.  I might agree with that, as there are aspects of that kind of thinking.

But if we made that the criteria, who is going to evaluate folks for that?

Most people with personality disorders do not seek treatment.  They don’t see anything wrong with the way they think.  And, quite honestly, they are notoriously treatment-resistant if they ever do find themselves in counseling (usually forced by family or the law).

We even reward people with personality disorders in our society.  Look at 45.  Look at a lot of famous and wealthy artists/musicians/actors/politicians/CEOs and so on.  Many have personality disorders because the kind of profession they’re in lends itself to a certain ruthlessness involved in rising to the top of it, and attracts people with personality disorders. They can behave very badly and most of the time they get away with it

Aside #2: Let’s face it – a diagnosis of some kind of personality disorder is not going to carry the same kind of stigma that other mental illnesses do.  Some people now even brag about having one, or try to make nonclinical distinctions between “malignant narcissism” and just regular plain old “non-dangerous” narcissism.  Any clinician who has treated folks like that, or any victim of folks like that, knows that this distinction is bullshit.

How about people who have been committed to a psychiatric facility?  Even those who are held for 72 hours against their will for being “a danger to themselves or others”?  Surely they should not be able to own guns?

Besides the problem of the profit hospitals make from involuntary commitments – and they do, I’ve seen this in my workplaces – there are also the facts above that I mentioned about violence.  Most people are committed due to “suicidal ideation”, not usually “homicidal ideation”.

Should someone who is suicidal have access to a gun?  Well, no.  Usually we tell family members to get guns out of the house or lock them up.

But we don’t usually say, “do this forever, he/she is never going to get better.”  Especially in hunting country, that would just be stupid.

Aside #3: I am not a hunter.  I am not a fan of hunting.  I do respect people who hunt for food, as many do in rural places.

And what about involuntary commitment for false reasons?  I’ve seen that, too.  That goes on your permanent health record, you know.  So someone who has no reason to be committed other than due to a dispute over an elderly “patient’s” money, or in other suspicious circumstances is marked for life and cannot get a gun if he/she needs one (like in the case of abuse)?

Or how about medical records of any kind that mention a mental illness?  Are you going to tell me that a woman with PTSD or depression due to domestic abuse hasn’t the right to get a gun to defend herself in case her abuser tracks her down?

See, I am not against gun ownership.  I am against owning firearms that are used to kill a lot of people.  This is not a “ban all guns” vs “gun rights” debate – that’s a false dichotomy the NRA promotes.

This is about innocent people dying.  And the common denominators are semi-automatic rifles.  Rifles that are not necessary to own.

Let’s take those out of the equation.

Weird news of the week: This is why the British are considered so civilized – “Police Officer Accused of Taking the Biscuits”, Sky News website.  The article states that “it has not been clear what kind of biscuits he took” and the representative of the Met Police is quoted as stating that the theft “showed a fundamental lack of integrity”.

(Well, heck, if they were Penguin biscuits, I would definitely agree!)

Recommendation of the week: The Shibutani’s skate to Coldplay and a bronze medal. It’s worth sitting through the Coke commercial, trust me.

https://www.nbcolympics.com/news/maia-alex-shibutani-make-history-their-own-pyeongchang

Be good.  Be kind.  Don’t let anyone scapegoat people with mental illnesses, it could be you or someone you love someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October, Gently.

domesticviolence1

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This is an issue that I feel very strongly about, and the following is a re-write of a blog post I wrote one year ago.

I will continue to write at least yearly about this problem, forever.

I am not going to quote statistics.  I don’t think that’s necessary.

It is easy to see the violence that is perpetuated upon women, unfortunately, on a daily basis.  Even if you never leave your house, it’s on the news and it’s certainly on the internet.  I don’t think any reasonably sane person would argue that it doesn’t exist.

What I am here to write about is what you, as just an ordinary person, can do to help eliminate this problem.  It doesn’t have to cost money, and it doesn’t even have to take up much time.  But you can make a difference to some woman, somewhere, and I am going to tell you how.

For the edification of people who do not know me well, I have just a brief explanation of how this issue came to affect me.

I am a survivor of domestic violence.

Not just once, but a few times, beginning with the very first household where I grew up.  I witnessed it, and I was a target of it.

The reason I go all the way back to my childhood is two-fold: first, to illustrate that violence against women has never really been taken seriously until recently.

Second, it is to show that the effects of domestic abuse can have far-reaching consequences, even for intelligent women with advanced degrees in psychology (I once had a policeman in Memphis ask me, when called to my apartment while an ex was destroying it, “Don’t you know any better? You’re a psychologist!”).

There were no shelters, really, back in the day.  I am talking late 1950s up until around 1990 (in Memphis, in 2015, there is one domestic violence shelter, one, in a population of over 653,000).  Growing up in a pre-feminist era, just in time to see the growth of that movement, it’s hard for me to explain what it was like growing up in the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s.

ALL abuse – child, spousal, and to a certain extent animal, was pretty much blamed on the object of the violence, not the perpetrator.

People did not want to “cause trouble” by raising these issues – though thank goodness people did, or we would still be living in a world where certain members of the population are blamed for acts of violence they neither started, perpetuated, nor deserved (as if anyone deserves to be assaulted!).

Women covered up bruises and other evidence of violence – and we still do that today.  People saw the evidence but didn’t ask what happened, as it made them uncomfortable (“What if her husband hit her? What if he didn’t? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?”).

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to have changed.

The police were not often called, and if they were, it was usually the man’s version of events that was believed (“She fell, she attacked me, she’s making a big deal out of nothing”, etc).

That has changed, thankfully.

I am not going to chronicle in detail the events that led up to me fleeing for my life to a domestic violence shelter in Altoona 5 years ago, because I am acutely aware of how very uncomfortable that makes people.

5 years ago, I was slapped, punched, kicked, tied to a chair, hit with various objects, strangled, smothered, had my hair pulled, spit on, pinched, bit (yes, really), screamed at, had my money/keys taken away, was isolated from everyone, had my spiritual beliefs mocked, had my pets threatened (I took them with me when I left), was stalked at work, and had my car sabotaged so I couldn’t leave.

I was humiliated in public several times.  No one who witnessed those incidences said or did anything to stop it.

The long-term effects of this experience are PTSD, dental issues from having things thrown at my mouth, and probably a lifetime of second-guessing any future romantic involvements I might ever have.

I am recovering from it.  Each year gets better. This blog helps.

I want to make people aware of what these things are, these aspects of abuse, so if you or someone you know is experiencing them you can know it’s not right/normal/deserved.

Physical abuse: I have detailed that previously but I think everyone knows this is anything that physically hurts or terrifies you – including throwing things, breaking things, and slamming doors. Oh and not letting you call an ambulance when he injures you.

Emotional abuse: Telling you who you can/cannot talk to/be around/communicate with on the internet, making fun of you (the kind that isn’t playful teasing), isolating you from friends and family by telling you they don’t care about you, telling you “no one can love you like I love you/no one will ever want you”.

Deriding your education/skills/talents, calling you ugly/stupid/worthless/crazy/fat and other awful things, putting you down to others, threatening to kill your pets, and generally making you feel like less than nothing.

If you already have self-esteem issues, and/or if you grew up in an abusive environment, this isn’t hard for someone to do to you.

Economic abuse: Controlling your money, hiding your money/keys/personal effects, interfering with your job, getting you fired or forcing you to quit (neglecting your children when you are working and he is home – for me, that wasn’t this last time, it was when I was married).  Telling you what you can and cannot buy.  Returning things you bought without your knowledge or consent.

Spiritual abuse: Making fun of your beliefs, not allowing you to attend services (or, in my case, conduct ceremonies), or threatening violence if you do not convert to whatever belief system your abuser has (this did not what happen to me, but to women I have known). Making it really uncomfortable for you by arguing with you about your beliefs, or making it uncomfortable for you to even express those beliefs.

It comes down to a lack of respect, really, and a lack of acceptance of you as a person.

No one who loves you is going to act like this.

Sexual abuse: I think most of us know what that is, but it also includes forcing someone into lifestyles they are not comfortable with (swinging, bdsm, etc).  The key is “something they are not comfortable with” – I make no judgments about lifestyle choices, as long as they are choices.

Basically, your body is yours, not someone else’s, and you are the one who says what is or isn’t done to it.

If you are experiencing any of this – and I would hope, as someone connected to me, you would come to me for help – get to a safe place.

Call me!  Email me!

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7223) or visit their website.

Go to a friend’s house, or a relative’s.

You do not have to live like this.  I know it seems hopeless and scary and exhausting and deeply sad, but you can get out.  You can live a life that you want.  You can be happy.  You are worthwhile, and there are people who really do care.

If you know someone you suspect is being abused, there are many things you can do. Most of them will not cost you anything in terms of time or money:

1.  If you hear screaming or yelling or crying coming from out on the street or from         someone’s home/car, call the police. Don’t be hesitant that “maybe it’s nothing”.  It’s the job of the police to assess the situation and deal with it.  They will not think you are wasting their time.  You could save someone from being hurt or killed.

I cannot express to you the horror I felt when a neighbor passed by my previous residence and told my ex to “keep your woman quiet next time”, even as he noticed the scratches on my ex’s arm from where I attempted to dislodge it from around my throat.

Another time, a neighbor – this time a woman – passed by as I was sitting on the porch and said to me, “You shouldn’t let him hit you like that.”  Then turned to my ex and said, “You know, if it was me I would have beat your ass.”  Later that night, I paid for her remarks.  I know she meant well, but these things do not help.

Those 2 experiences left no doubt in my mind that the neighbors heard my screaming, but did nothing. 

And all anyone had to do was pick up a cell phone and push 3 buttons.

2.  If you must intervene, tackle the abuser at the time of the attack, and disable him while someone else calls the police. Making angry or snide comments may only serve to get your friend hurt.  Not all the time, but just be aware the person she is dealing with is unstable.

If someone comes to you for help, by everything that is righteous, help her!  Listen to her, take her for medical care if she needs it, take her in or take her to a shelter.

Call her relatives and explain how serious it is (they might not know) and ask for their help.  I don’t think my family had any idea how bad things were with me; I like to think they would have come and gotten me if they had (they all live out of state).

If she won’t leave, or she returns to her abuser, be patient – a woman leaves an average of 7 times before she leaves for good (“50 Obstacles To Leaving: 1-10”, National Domestic Violence Hotline article, 2013).

3.  Remember that every little kindness helps.  And here is something you might not know – the longer someone is away from their abuser and around normal caring people, the more likely she is to leave for good.  So take your friend out somewhere – to lunch, to a park, to have coffee, whatever, and do it often.  Show her that the way you act is normal, and the way he acts is not.

This way she can see that it’s not something she has done, she can see that he’s the one with the problem.

4.  Get her a copy of “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft.  It not only explains (doesn’t excuse) the different types of abuse and the warped minds behind it, it also reinforces that it’s not her fault.

Lundy Bancroft runs a treatment center for men who are abusive, and it’s not the (ineffective) “anger management” stuff most social service agencies who attempt to deal with abusers use.

His program is confrontational and hits at the heart of what’s going on – the power issues and the beliefs that these men hold about women. It is based on Ellen Pence’s (1948-2012) excellent Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (aka The Duluth Model).

Here’s the link to Bancroft’s site, where you can buy the book and also read some interesting and helpful thing.

5.  Help your friend make a safety plan.  Some of this might involve you holding her   important papers for her (birth certificate, etc).  It might involve a code word she can use so you know when you need to call the police.

There are other things you can do, too, of course.  You can donate money to your local shelter.  You can attend any number of domestic violence month programs in your area. You can wear a purple ribbon this month, and speak to people who ask you about it.

If you are really ambitious, you can help me start a shelter – the one I was in was woefully inadequate, had no counselors, and sometimes took in people who did not belong there.

It also didn’t have any space for pets or women who had adult children with special needs (you think a woman is going to leave if she can’t take her child – no matter how old – with her??).

Some of this is funding, but some of it is a lack of education and training in disability issues and substance abuse assessment.

But the result is that women who need help are not getting it.

I want to change that.  I WILL change that.  And I hope when future generations read this blog, they can see the history of this problem and be thankful it’s either been eradicated or dealt with properly (I can only hope things will get better).

Domestic violence survivors/victims are your mothers, your sisters, your aunts, your grandmothers, your daughters….and me.

I am a survivor of domestic abuse.

Laughter Was the Best Medicine – Now It’s an Illness.

I have written about this before – violence and peoples’ attitudes towards it.  I will continue to write about it, because it bothers me a lot and I am trying to understand and/or come up with solutions.

I have mentioned that I used to teach anger management.  I taught that in inpatient and outpatient places, mostly because the higher-ups decided that this had to be a weekly thing.  I never did get a straight answer when I asked why this was mandatory.

It’s not a bad thing to learn to identify your triggers and learn to control your behavior when angry.  In fact, it’s something that I think all adults should aspire to do, and to teach their children how to do this, too.

But there are some problems with this simple idea, the idea that one ought to control oneself and not harm others, and a major one is…

…people will not admit that they can control it.

“He/she made me…”

“I wasn’t thinking…”

“I was out of control…”

None of these things are true, actually.  People say them because they think those are good excuses to behave violently.

They’re mistaken.

And that’s the key stumbling block to teaching anger management.  If people will not admit that they are solely responsible for their violent behavior, no amount of group/individual therapy, classes, or workbooks are going to make any difference.

Why do they think like this?

Family, friends, social media, the media in general…all promote this idea of violence as a necessary part of life.

And it feels as if, sometimes when someone is angry, that they aren’t thinking.  They are, of course – you can’t blink an eye without an actual command from your brain (which I characterize as “thought”, because technically it is) – but what’s happening is they are not consciously aware of what they’re thinking.

Sometimes.

I think that, in reality, people who are violent actually DO consciously think things, they just won’t admit it.  Consider this evidence…

Someone hits another person and then runs away when he/she hears the police are coming.

Someone gets into a fight and responds to commands from bystanders (“hit him again” and so on), and later asks to see the video of it recorded on someone’s phone so he/she can post it on Facebook.

Someone hits his partner but makes sure the blows fall on places that won’t show when clothed.

Are you actually going to tell me all these people weren’t thinking at the time they were involved in violent acts?

Of course not.  When I put it that way, it’s clear that all those people engaged in violence knew perfectly well what they were doing.

Because…if you can stop or leave when the police arrive, you’re in control of yourself.

If you remember the fight being recorded by your friend, you are consciously aware of what’s going on.

If you know where to hit so the bruises won’t show, how much more in control can you be?

Still…people will just not admit that they are the ones who are responsible for their own violence.   People are loathe to do that.  And, in a way, that’s kind of a positive thing.

Think about it.  If you cannot admit you are the cause of the violence, might it be because you think what you did is wrong?   And that other people will judge you to be a “bad person”?

Well, that’s the good news.

The bad news is, there are entire segments of the population where violence is becoming more acceptable.  So that reluctance to admit you are violent may become a thing of the past.

Aside #1: It won’t become a thing of the past in psychiatric hospitals or outpatient clinics, because the counselor doesn’t want to hear anything that isn’t the “right” thing to say regarding anger.  Otherwise the patient/client could be stuck there a lot longer.

The thing is, not doing something because you might get caught/punished/condemned for it is not a very effective way to control your actions.  And it’s not a very evolved way of thinking, either, but we won’t address that (much) today.

If fear of being caught and punished was such a good deterrant, then most of our laws would be so effective that the jails would be empty.  Clearly this is not the case.

My opinion about what’s at the bottom of all this is…entitlement.

Aside #2: No, not “entitlements” as in “food stamps”.

Entitlement, according to the Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary is “the condition of having the right to have, do, or get something; the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges).”

I had a psychology professor once who stated that people become violent when something or someone is blocking their goals.  I contend that he didn’t look deep enough into that.

Again, entitlement.  “I deserve to get my goals met.”

In the case of people reacting with violence to such minor behavior as a “dirty look” or a perceived insult of some kind, the thinking is, “I deserve to control how you act around me.”

So, in a weird way, it’s still about control…even as people state that they were out of control when they hit someone.

“She looked at me funny so I hit her.”  I heard that a lot when I taught anger management.

“Why would that bother you, though?” I would ask.

“I know she was thinking bad things about me, I could see it on her face, and she doesn’t have the right to do that.

So, the entitled attitude is that you have the right to control what other people think about you. Or about your mama, your partner, your kids…

So there’s that.  And then there’s an unfortunate twist on that way of thinking…

October Remembrances

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a time in which some of us prepare for a remembrance ceremony to honor all who have passed on (that ritual being conducted on Samhain, pronounced “SAH-win”, or “SO-win”).  For more information on Samhain, here is just one of many links:

https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/celebrating-the-seasons/celebrating-samhain

I have chosen to make this post about domestic violence.  Not to downgrade the other 2 things I just mentioned (I have a beloved sister who passed from breast cancer, and I also celebrate Samhain), but because I have a few suggestions for actions that everyone can take which could actually make a difference in the lives (or deaths) of domestic violence victims/survivors.

I will remind my readers that the main focus of this blog is to stand as a record of what my life is like in the 21st century – mostly for my relatives, descendents, and interested friends.  It is a place for me to express my opinions, not a place to provoke arguments or controversy.  I don’t think this will be much of an issue, at least not at this point, as I do not know any relatives or friends who would argue against the existence or importance of domestic violence issues.

I am also not going to quote statistics.  It is easy to see the violence that is perpetuated upon women, unfortunately, on a daily basis.  Even if you never leave your house, it’s on the news and it’s certainly on the internet.  I don’t think any reasonably sane person would argue that it doesn’t exist.

But what I am here to write about is what you, as just an ordinary person, can do to help eliminate this problem.  It doesn’t have to cost money, and it doesn’t even have to take up much time.  But you can make a difference to some woman, somewhere, and I am going to tell you how.

For the edification of people who do not know me well, especially for those born in 2000 and later (i.e., grandchildren, grand-nieces/nephews, descendants, etc), I have just a brief explanation of how this issue came to affect me.

I am a survivor of domestic violence.

Not just once, but a few times, beginning with the very first household where I grew up.  I witnessed it, and I was a target of it.

The reason I go all the way back to my childhood is two-fold: first, to illustrate that violence against females has never really been taken seriously until recently.  Second, it is to show that the effects of domestic abuse can have far-reaching consequences, even for intelligent women with advanced degrees in psychology (I once had a policeman in Memphis ask me, when called to my apt while an ex was destroying it, “Don’t you know any better? You’re a psychologist!”).

There were no shelters, really, back in the day.  I am talking late 1950s up until around 2000.  Growing up in a pre-feminist era, just in time to see the growth of that movement, it’s hard for me to explain what it was like back then.  ALL abuse – child, spousal, and to a certain extent animal, was pretty much blamed on the object of the violence, not the perpetrator.

People did not want to “cause trouble” by raising these issues – though thank goodness people did, or we would still be living in a world where certain members of the populace are blamed for acts of violence they neither started, perpetuated, nor deserved (as if anyone deserves to be assaulted!).

Women covered up bruises and other evidence of violence – and we still do that today.  People saw the evidence but didn’t ask what happened, as it made them uncomfortable (“What if her husband hit her? What if he didn’t? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?”).  The police were not often called, and if they were, it was usually the man’s version of events that was believed (“She fell, she attacked me, she’s making a big deal out of nothing”, etc).

Imagine just for a second that the household was headed by a policeman, as was the situation in my case growing up, and you can possibly understand what a hopeless situation that would have been.  It’s quite different today, thankfully.

I am not going to chronicle in detail the events that led up to me fleeing for my life to a domestic violence shelter in Altoona 4 years ago, because I am acutely aware of how very uncomfortable that makes people.  I was subjected to emotional, spiritual, economic, and physical abuse (thankfully not sexual abuse, not this time anyway – that was an issue growing up, involving a trusted family friend who lived next door).

4 years ago, I was slapped, punched, kicked, tied to a chair, hit with various objects, strangled, smothered, had my hair pulled, spit on, pinched, bit (yes, really), screamed at, had my money/keys taken away, isolated from most everyone, had my spiritual beliefs mocked, had my pets and kids threatened (no, my kids were not living there, thank Goddess), stalked at work, and had my car sabotaged so I couldn’t leave. I was humiliated in public several times.

The long-term effects of this are PTSD, dental issues from having things thrown at my mouth, and probably a lifetime of second-guessing any future romantic involvements I might ever have.   Amongst other things.  I am recovering from it.  This blog helps.