Domestic Violence Advocate, Social Activist, Consultant & Entertainment Producer

Domestic Violence

Thought: Just Because You Don’t Hit Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Abusive

Just because you don’t hit your intimate partner doesn’t mean you’re not abusive.  The mainstream perception of domestic violence, family violence is all wrong.  I’ve had plenty of men, for example, say I would never lift a hand to a woman but abuse begins in the most basic manner, psychologically.  We have to understand that our dealings with each other, the level of common courtesy, responsiveness, compassion, respect are the building blocks to relationships and most certainly healthy, intimate relationships.  Many women and men are holding on to that thread of hope that the person they love will change but if you’re with someone who is disrespectful early on in the relationship, that’s a clear warning sign to remove yourself from the relationship before you’re in too deep.   Breaking promises, convenient forgetfulness and excuses, neglect are all forms of psychological abuse.  Let’s stop looking at domestic violence as merely a physical manifestation.  It’s a problem that manifests mentally or begins in the mind.  #ChangeYourPerception

The Danger of Those with a History of Violence: Courage Empowerment Forum Welcomes Executive Director of the National Domestic Violence Registry Myra Spearman

FEATURING THE MUSIC OF ELIANE AMHERD

Myra Spearman was in her early 20’s when she first got married. Like countless women and men around the country, what began as a fairy tale marriage turned into years of a nightmare filled with real abuse, terror and victimization. The relief Myra felt after breaking free from a relationship of abuse was a turning point as she embarked on a mission to save the lives of domestic violence victims and offer them hope. Her activism eventually led to the launching of the first ever National Domestic Violence Registry (NDVR). Now, Myra and a team of people across the country have created a movement to comprehensively tackle the domestic violence epidemic around the United States and work with legislatures and activists to draw the connection to those with a history of violence in their past through the efforts of NDVR.

In 2009, Myra also won the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center’s Award from the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana for her creation of NDVR and holds a lifetime membership with the Society of Innovators.

Tune in Tuesday, July 12th at 9 PM Eastern, 6pm Pacific to www.party934.com, 94.9 FM Hudson Valley, NY to hear domestic violence activist Myra Spearman and learn more about the need for the comprehensive approach of NDVR toward the issue of domestic violence.

http://www.jazzpdx.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/adf1367-insert-jdmp001-293x300.jpgFeaturing the music of ELIANE AMHERD, singer, guitarist and songwriter, from her album Now and From Now On

Eliane is one of the hottest forces of the New York City Jazz, Brazilian and Latin scene. The Swiss-born singer, guitarist and songwriter graduated from New York’s New School University for Jazz and Contemporary Music in 2000. Since then her original music and lyrics, a groovy mix of all her influences, has been creating quite a buzz.

Besides her performances as a leader or a featured artist in New York’s most famous clubs, like the Blue Note, Joe’s Pub, the Jazz Standard, Cornelia’s Street Cafe, Nuyorican Poets Cafe and major events like the Swiss Peak Festival, the reopening of the Silverstein Building at the World Trade Center (alongside Lou Reed, Susan Vega, and the Brazilian Girls), she also tours in North- and South America, Canada, Europe and Asia, where she performed at the Beijing Jazz Festival in China and the Giant Steppes of Jazz Festival in Mongolia.

Eliane worked with greats such as Randy Brecker, Marcus Strickland, Marc Ribot, Michael Carvin, Bill Ware, Jovino Santos Neto etc. She plays guitar in the Pacha Massive video “don’t let go” on MTV, her song “as If” can be heard in the award winning movie “Approaching Union Square” by filmmaker Marc Meyers and her voice is featured on Jeremy Mage’s song “Slippery Light” appearing on the NBC hit TV series “Lipstick Jungle”. Eliane also arranged and produced the Swiss Miss Sampler ÒheimwehÓ, featuring famous Swiss artists like Eliana Burki, Nubya, Gigi Moto, Mia Aegerter etc. This recording has earned her many great press reviews, several interviews on Swiss national radio stations and an appearance on the popular Swiss talk show “Aeschbacher”.

Her own band consists of the best musicians the city has to offer, like the two female bass players Jennifer Vincent and Hagar Ben Ari, bass player Gustavo Amarante and the drummers Willard Dyson and Abou Diarrassouba. Other accomplished musicians you can catch on stage with Eliane are: drummers or percussionists Ze Mauricio, Genji Siriasi, Sylvia Cuenca, bass players Ray Parker, Yoshi Waki, Itaiguara, pianists Rachel Z, Helen Sung, Chris Wiesendanger and many others. ElianePerforms.com

For more information about Eliane, visit www.elianeperforms.com.


The Call for More Men

by Lyn Twyman 

Recently I had the opportunity to co-present a workshop at the National Organization for Women’s (NOW) annual conference in Tampa, FL. The workshop was about how survivors of domestic violence could be resilient after experiencing abuse. I shared my own personal story of resiliency, what that means for me as a survivor of child abuse and intimate partner violence, and coping techniques. After my presentation, participants in the workshop shared their experiences and their own heartfelt stories of triumph over abuse.

During the entire NOW conference, hundreds of feminist women, and men, gathered during that weekend to discuss issues affecting women and families in this country and around the world. Men like Barry Goldstein, activist and battered mothers advocate, and Ben Atherton-Zeman, spokesperson of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism, only to name a few, represented that segment of male society who fight for the equality of women, protection of children, and the declination of the age old, destructive misogynist ways of thinking. They were welcomed speakers among a sea of activist women.

Whether you agree with all that NOW as an organization represents, one thing I saw was their ability to engage men in the conversation of solutions to ensure a progressive future for both women. All movements start from one point but in order to be sustainable, they must be willing to adapt and grow into a progressive effort that meets the needs of society in modern times. Among many great initiatives, that is one initiative NOW is managing to do.

Often when we talk about social ills like domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, we speak in terms of how they affect women. And women are often the ones to carry the torch to create support and resources for survivors. There are more women representing these issues too like there are women flooding church pews. There is an overwhelming unleveled scale of women compared to men on these serious issues that require the participation of men, the imperative engagement of men both young and old.

If we want to see a drastic shift take place in the way society views domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, men can no longer be side line participants in the conversations and there must be an active recruitment to engage well intentioned men to ally alongside women who have taken these issues by the bridle to see effectual change take place.

We also need to pay closer attention to how misogyny has damaged men and has failed male victims. The misperception that as a man you should tough it up if you are assaulted, or that you can just take it and move on has drove countless men to live lives that are less than fulfilling, lives filled with denial, depression, addiction, abuse and yes, like many women re-victimization. We also do ourselves a disservice when we alienate men from our lives, when we fail to acknowledge their role in helping to create solutions. We also poison our posterity when we allow rhetoric and misogynist imagery to permeate our mainstream society, from both men and women, and do nothing about. I am talking about the men and women who portray both sexes like nothing more than sexual objects.

There are many men that want to get involved and fight alongside women to help bring change, despite what negative they have been taught by their fathers or society. Unfortunately some of them have been turned away by women who failed to recognize the need for change and allow men to take part in the solution with programs and services.

So take the time to look at your work and find ways to increase the engagement and participation of men. Men are a vital part of the equation to solving women’s issues and issues that are perceived to be just women’s issues. There are countless positive, inspiring, spirit filled men out there that are crusaders for protection and seekers of justice. The issues that often begin with female victims affect all of us. So be a part of that progressive change and embrace the men who raise their hands and ask, ‘How can I as a man help?’

Lyn Twyman is Founder of Courage Network and the host of the weekly radio show Courage Empowerment Forum. Lyn is also the Deputy Director of the National Domestic Violence Registry.

Mental Illness: Does it Deserve a Pass?

Mental Illness: Does it Deserve a Pass?


By Lyn Twyman

On February 4th, 24 year old Jessica Blackham of Greenville, SC gave birth to a baby boy.  She immediately abandoned the infant in the toilet of the arena where she had just finished watching a circus show.  It was approximately 90 minutes before the baby was found by maintenance workers.  Now Jessica is charged with unlawful neglect of a child and felony child abuse.  News about the case now is unnervingly quiet.
For this mother to dispose of her child, who is now fighting for his life from being abandoned in a toilet, is a sickening act of inhumanity and cruelty.  Stories like this are extremely disturbing and add another dynamic to family violence that we often don’t think about, when people make arguments that because of a mental disorder they abuse others and therefore should be given some type of leniency.
Blackham and her parents claim they didn’t know she was pregnant, although she is currently the biological mother of a 4 year old.  Well, thanks to Discovery Health Channel’s “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” I guess we’re going to see more and more women use this very same alibi when they don’t want to keep their children.  To add further insult to injury, Blackham is still out of jail under the judge’s ruling that while out on bond, she must hold down a job, cooperate with Department of Social Services and not leave her county.  This monster, Jessica Blackham, is still roaming the streets even though she disposed of her child like human waste, a crime punishable by a 30 year jail sentence!  Blackham also claims she doesn’t remember the incident after going to the public restroom that evening on February 4th.  So since she abandoned her child in a toilet and supposedly can’t remember, does she really need to be out in society among the rest of us?
This society is too quick to use mental illness, the insanity plea or claim amnesia when crime is committed.  We are too quick to blame mental disorders for the violence that people commit, as if the disorder made the person raise their fist, or shoot the gun or in this case leave a baby in a toilet.  Additionally, Blackham had enough sense to check herself into a hospital after she delivered her innocent, helpless baby but wouldn’t do the same for her son.
Or this
So where do we draw the line and say enough is enough?  Despite alleged medical claims for a scape goat, people still must pay for their crimes.  The fact that monster Blackham is still roaming the streets and not confined to a mental institution at the least until her next trial is a disgrace and a huge failure on the part of the judicial system.  If this had been a man who abandoned their child in a toilet and claimed the same argument as Blackham, do you think he would get the same treatment as she?  Or if Blackham were of another race, would she still be allowed to run the streets?  Why does she go free while a woman who hangs a dog for chewing her Bible in practically the same community is confined to a detention center?  Just click here for the story.  These are valid arguments that we have to explore when it comes to justice.
I don’t believe justice is being served for the rest of society and especially for that poor innocent baby, now fighting for his life, when a judge lets a woman back out on the street that leaves her baby in a toilet.    What kind of hell is this?  We have been at a sad loss for a long time in our judicial system when people who commit heinous acts can plead insanity or memory loss and still maintain their freedom while people who commit petty crimes have their whole lives practically destroyed.
Jessica Blackham, if you didn’t want your child, why not leave him somewhere like a hospital or adoption facility?  You almost killed your baby and he may be damaged now for life because of you.  Mentally ill or not, you don’t need to be running the streets to endanger the rest of our children.  Justice needs to be served for the poor baby and for all of the other children that suffered at the hands of dangerous, murderous parents.  Jessica Blackham needs to be confined, to serve her time and the judicial system needs a drastic overhaul.

D.A.S.H. on Courage Empowerment Forum, Featuring the Music from O.P. Music House Exposure Concerts

On the February 22nd broadcast of Lyn Twyman’s Courage Empowerment Forum, featured guests are Lynne Russell, executive director, and John Murray of D.A.S.H (Dating Abuse Stops Here). Lynne lost her daughter Siobhan Russell, who was just 19 1/2 years old, to teen dating violence.  Lynne and John, who is Siobhan’s cousin, along with family and volunteers are carrying on her memory and helping to save lives through their organization D.A.S.H.

Featured music will be brought to us by talented independent artists who collaborate with Suzanne Perry’s OP Music House non-profit and her Exposure Concert to reach young people and raise awareness to domestic violence. Featured artists are Sharen Wendy Robertson, Mike Zogaria and L.W. Perry.

This program will be a tribute to all families who have lost children to dating violence.  Tune in live at 9pm ET, 6pm PT on February 22nd atwww.party934.com, 94.9 FM Hudson Valley, NY.

To listen to previous broadcasts, visit www.vimeo.com/courageempowermentforum or www.lyntwyman.com/Radio.html

Join Courage Empowerment Forum on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Courage-Empowerment-Forum-Party934-Radio/189361497744391?v=wall

also on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/courageempower

Visit host Lyn Twyman’s site at http://www.lyntwyman.com

D.A.S.H.

About Lynne Russell

Lynne is a native of London, England. She relocated to the USA in 2000 with her  husband and three young children, Siobhan, Jordan and Francesca. It was the tragic murder of her eldest daughter, Siobhan, that led Lynne, along with family and friends to create Dating Abuse Stops Here “DASH”.  Lynne is a graphic designer with experience in print, web, corporate identity and video graphics. She brings her vision and creativity to DASH. Since the launch of DASH in October 2010, on what would have been Siobhan’s 21st birthday, Lynne has been proactive in her community. She has given numerous presentations to teens and parents, attended a White House roundtable meeting addressing teen dating and sexual violence, and has organized community events to raise awareness of the prevalence of teen dating abuse.

 

About John Murray

John, also a native of London, England, has just graduated high school. John is heading to Bristol University, England in September. He will major in Russian and Politics. John is a confident and passionate speaker. Siobhan is his first cousin, and he is compelled to speak of the dangers of teen dating abuse in her memory. John draws upon his leadership and communication skills gained from being a Sergeant in the Combined Cadet Force in England.

Visit D.A.S.H. at http://www.datingabusestopshere.com

 

 

 

O.P. Music House

About Suzanne Perry


Suzanne Perry was plucked from society at the tender age of 17 by a controlling partner who would control, confine and torture her over the next 22 years.  Repeatedly convinced the abuse would leave, she left and returned 3 times to the relationship and then married. When given an ultimatum of “it’s him or me,” by their 16-year old daughter, Perry made up her mind.  The next beating session she had her husband arrested, and she and their daughter obtained permanent orders of protection.

Today, she is a public speaker, writer, hosts several radio and live music shows and a public access program targeted at promoting peace through music. She supports hundreds of men and women across the country through their experiences of abusive relationships.

Based on her belief that if abusers were exposed, they wouldn’t abuse, she created the ‘EXPOSURE Concert; because love shouldn’t hurt,’ a 3 day music fest which nearly 50 bands played, and streamed live around the world. It was viewed from 8 countries and 34 states, and has become annual.

In 2012, she will be touring the US with musicians, some of which are survivors, for the EXPOSURE tour, presenting her story during the day and hosting the musical events at night.

 

Featured Independent Artists are:

Sharen Wendy Robertson


www.sharenwendy.com

Mike Zogaria

www.reverbnation.com/mikezogaria

L.W. Perry

www.lwperry.com

www.opmusichouse.org


Shalanda Moten on Courage Empowerment Forum, Featuring the Music of Natalie Brown

 

February is National Teen Dating Violence and Awareness Month.  Is your teenager safe with their dating partner?  How well do you know who they are dating?  Do you know even know that they are dating?  According to a study from 2006, about one in 11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating abuse each year.  What happens in the relationships of teens can be fun and exciting but what happens can also be dangerous.

In this week’s broadcast of Lyn Twyman’s Courage Empowerment Forum on www.party934.com, 94.9 FM Hudson Valley, NY, Lyn’s special guest is Shalanda Moten, founder and executive director of the Dating Violence Prevention Center.  We’ll discuss with Shalanda what inspired her to create her organization and the programs they offer to help young women and the community prevent dating violence.  We’ll also learn more about the “My Boyfriend Rocks Campaign”.  This program is a must hear for all parents of young people who are dating or on the cusp of dating.

Go to the link and listen live every Tuesday night at 9pm ET!  www.party934.com

To listen to previous broadcasts, visit www.vimeo.com/courageempowermentforum or www.lyntwyman.com/Radio.html

Join Courage Empowerment Forum on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Courage-Empowerment-Forum-Party934-Radio/189361497744391?v=wall

also on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/courageempower

Visit Lyn Twyman’s site at http://www.lyntwyman.com

 

About Shalanda Moten:

Shalanda Moten currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the Dating Violence Prevention Center. As such, she has extensive experience working with non-profits in all aspects of management, programming, and community development. Her specialty areas include (a) clinical research, (b) crisis intervention, (c) prevention services, and (d)psychoeducational groups. Moreover, her appointments include service to Liz Claiborne’s Love is Not Abuse (LINA) Coalition, Start Strong Atlanta at the Jane Fonda Center, Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW): The HBCU Project, Communities in Schools Atlanta, Gwinnett Children’s Shelter, Grady Rape Crisis Center, and Hands on Atlanta Americorps.

Furthermore, Ms. Moten is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology from the American School of Professional School Psychology, and previously earned a Bachelors of Art in Psychology from Spelman College, and a Masters of Art in Community Counseling from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology. She has received formal academic training in the areas of Brief Psychotherapy, Cognitive-Behavioral, Behavioral, Existential, Interpersonal, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, and Constructivist Therapy. Finally, her research interests are as follows: (a) dating violence, (b) date and acquaintance rape, (c) eating disorders, (d) self-mutilation, and (e) female genital mutilation.

http://www.datingviolence.org/

Featured Independent Music Artist and Song

Natalie Brown
Pop/Blue-eyed Soul/R&B – Vocalist & Songwriter

 

Born in Canada, Natalie Brown’s passion for music was nurtured from a young age by her involvement in theater, gospel music, creative writing and local session work as a vocalist and writer. Upon deciding to pursue a professional music career, she moved to California and was selected to sing with internationally acclaimed Gospel recording artist Ron Kenoly during his “Welcome Home” tour in 1996. She toured around the USA and upon returning to California, Natalie studied with world-renowned vocal instructors Seth Riggs (Stevie Wonder, Tevin Campbell, Deborah Cox) and Dave Stroud (Terry Ellis of En Vogue, Rosie Gaines).

Natalie’s debut album was released in late 2000 and contained thirteen original songs. Created with a thoughtful range of subject matter, tempo and mood throughout the album, “Let The Candle Burn” was enthusiastically welcomed by fans and industry personnel alike. She painted an interesting tapestry of sound on an album that included carefree, upbeat tracks, mid-tempo chillout songs and sweet soulful ballads.

Natalie returned to the studio to record the 2003 Holiday album entitled “A Cool Christmas”, a 10 song Cool R&B/Pop influenced collection of Holiday favorites. The album included the beloved “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, the soaring chime of “Silver Bells” and the quietly understated “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. Natalie pulled Ray Charles’ “Christmas Time” out of the archives and gave it a light, airy spin that served the tune well. Up-tempo numbers included a Swing infused “Let It Snow” and a contemporary pairing of “Winter Wonderland” and “Sleigh Ride”. A mellow-groove rendition of “Give Love on Christmas Day” rounded out the sure-to-please Holiday offering.

In the Spring of 2004 the digital singles ‘I Wonder’ and ‘Queen of Me’ were made available on Natalie’s official site. The songs garnered tremendous attention and In July 2004, ‘Queen of Me’ was released by Avex, Inc. Japan on the “Soul Essentials 7″ series with songs by Rahsaan Patterson, Earth, Wind & Fire and others.

Much to the delight of fans eagerly awaiting new material, January 30th, 2009 saw the release of the long awaited sophomore album “Random Thoughts”. The album features a selection of songs with varying themes (Natalie’s Random Thoughts) that range from the inspiring “Hold Your Head Up High”, the girl power anthem “Queen of Me” and the uplifting “It’s A Beautiful Day”, to the thought provoking “What’s Going on Next Door?”, the unity rallying call of “Come Closer”, the sultry “How I Love 2 Love U”, the soulful “You’re Mysterious” and signature love ballad “I Knew You Were The One”, and more.
Natalie has actively been licensing her music for Film/TV and Commercial placements for the past 7 years. She’s had music placed on every major North American cable network and premium television programs across the globe. A partial listing of domestic placements can be found on her website.
Natalie currently resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Other than music, she enjoys reading, creating custom jewelry, mentoring other artists, watching movies, hanging out on Twitter and shopping.

Official Web Site: www.natalie-brown (natalie DASH brown DOT com)
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Natalie_Brown (Natalie UNDERSCORE Brown)
Facebook: www.facebook.com/NatalieBrownMusic
MySpace: www.myspace.com/NatalieBrown


Elin Stebbins Waldal on Courage Empowerment Forum, Featuring the Music of Girls Against Abuse

A secret so painful forced one woman to write a book and reveal a secret to her children that she had kept from them for so long.  Elin was just 17 when she fell in love with an abusive man, a man who  ”whittled her down –with words, hands, and weapons –from a confident teen to the shadow of a woman.”

In this week’s broadcast of Lyn Twyman’s Courage Empowerment Forum, first time author Elin Stebbins Waldal will share with us the inspiration behind her newly released work Tornado Warning.  Tornado Warning is Elin’s memoir of teen dating violence and the effects it had on her life.  We’ll look at what made Elin reveal this secret and why she continues to spread the message of confidence to other young girls through her organization Girls kNOw More.

We’ll also be featuring the music of The Girls Against Abuse, the vision of Music Producer Jason Brawner who spent several years working with artists from the hit show, American Idol.

Go to the link and listen live Tuesday night at 9pm ET!  www.party934.com

To listen to previous broadcasts, visit www.vimeo.com/courageempowermentforum or www.lyntwyman.com/Radio.html

Join Courage Empowerment Forum on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Courage-Empowerment-Forum-Party934-Radio/189361497744391?v=wall

also on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/courageempower

Visit host Lyn Twyman’s site at http://www.lyntwyman.com

About broadcast guest Elin Stebbins Waldal

Elin Stebbins Waldal is a writer, a speaker, and the founder of Girls kNOw More, an organization whose mission is to help build confidence in middle-school-age girls.

Elin is the Love Is Not Abuse Coalition State Action Leader for California, which advocates for legislation that will require teen dating abuse curriculum in all middle schools, high schools and colleges.  She is also a regular presenter for Laura’s House, an Orange County resource for victims of domestic violence. She was recognized with an Honorable Mention Award in the World of Difference Category by The San Diego County Office of Education for speaking and educating high school students. Additionally, she is a California state certified domestic violence advocate.

She has contributed to The Courage Network, Safe World for Women, and She Writes on-line periodicals and also serves as a San Diego Examiner reporter on the subject of teen dating violence.

Elin lives in Southern California with her husband, three children, and their family dog.

 

Featured Independent Music Artist

The Girls Against Abuse

The “Girls Against Abuse” project is the vision of Music Producer Jason Brawner who spent several years working with artists from the hit show, American Idol. Through his many years of teaching the craft of songwriting and producing music, Jason discovered a disturbing trend of abuse and mistreatment in the lives of young women. Jason says,“Writing albums with singer/songwriters on a daily basis, I get to know them quite quickly. Far too often, I’m horrified encountering reoccurring themes of mistreatment and abuse in the lives of young women. Whether it comes from someone in their home or family, school, work, or a boyfriend, emotional and physical violence have critical effects on the victims.” What Jason has discovered working with the 70 percent of his artists that have been abused or mistreated unfortunately confirms these disturbing statistics:
  • 1 in 5 high school girls report experiencing teen dating violence.
  • Domestic violence kills and injures more girls/women than car accidents and cancer combined.
  • There were 10,088 Domestic violence crimes in Los Angeles County with 8,352 of those crimes involving a weapon in 2009, based on L.A. County Sheriff’s statistics.
On The Girls Against Abuse CD’s, options for action are encouraged in the words of the edgy heartfelt pop/rock songs sung by female artists who have made a commitment in their own lives to stand against all forms of mistreatment and abuse. The artists and producer all donate their own time for performances as well as their music for the CD’s that are available for a donation at events and on iTunes, as well as other online sites such as CDBaby.com.
The Girls Against Abuse has helped to raise awareness in the community through concerts, radio and television appearances, high school shows, fundraising and community events. Through their awareness campaign they have helped to raise over $7,000 over the past year and a half for violence prevention programs for youth, as well as community organizations and shelters that help families by providing parenting education and domestic violence services.
Their goal is to bring awareness through public performances and school events, to raise money for organizations that educate and support those in abusive situations and to provide CD’s with a positive message. Music is the universal “language” that has the ability to touch hearts…this positive music project’s aim is to help women and youth “Recognize, Resist and Recover” from abuse and mistreatment.http://www.thegirlsagainstabuse.com/


When Family and Friends Compromise Your Security

Many of us are brought up with the belief that we should be able to trust our family for everything, our safety, security, emotional and physical well being but for some of us, the family has proven to be the most hurtful and even most dangerous battle ground we will ever encounter. Survivors and family violence advocates can attest to this all the time, making it almost become a myth that the family is the safest environment. I’ve talked to many people who have shared their deep, painful pasts about loved ones, mothers, fathers, siblings and spouses who have betrayed them through abuse. When a family member abuses you, it becomes an unsettling, traumatic experience to say the least. We feel that we can no longer trust others and ask ourselves how can we ever trust others again?

So what happens if you ask for help or just mere moral support from a family member to get you through or even after the abuse, only for you to learn they too cannot be trusted, that they actually went to the abuser and disclosed private information about you? At that point you don’t know all that has been said but through some event, you learn that this once trusted family member has indeed betrayed your trust and with the abuser of all people. This revelation burns at your core and eats away at you, perhaps making you feel vulnerable. It makes you wonder if they ever believed you in the first place. It re-victimizes you.

Whether the offending family member ever believed the abuse did occur or not does not matter at this point. You now have an obligation to yourself to remain physically and emotionally safe from any further abuse. You also have to wonder how many people have lost their lives to abusers, not because the system failed but because family members failed and failed miserably, either by calling the abuser, writing them or even befriending them on social media sites, disclosing personal information about you. What I have found about people who are so willing to go to abusers, and violate your trust as the victim, is they are often susceptible at being manipulated and victimized as well. In this case, they have been manipulated by the abuser, charmed into gaining the abuser’s trust so the abuser can acquire more information about you. All the abuser wants to do is continue his bondage and control over you and the family member is allowing themselves to be used as a tool.

Abusers rarely stop abusing; they rarely stop victimizing and abuse is like an addiction. If you take away the drug of abuse, all the abuser wants is to go back and abuse more. They get an adrenaline high from controlling and hurting the object of their abuse, the victim. Abusers never completely let go and let’s face it, someone who has lived their life in attempts to psychologically and physically control others isn’t just going to give it up. It’s an addiction.

So, as a survivor, you’ve worked hard to get away from this abusive person and you’re thrown this curve ball by a family member you thought you could trust who goes back to the abuser and discloses information about you, your whereabouts, address, pictures, updates on your lifestyle, work, new friends and acquaintances, etc. What do you do? How do you handle this? With all cards put aside, now you are left with a dynamic  shift in your relationship with the family member or even friend. There are four things I want to share that I believe may help you:

1. Remember your safety is first and foremost – When someone discloses personal information about you to the abuser, you can never guarantee from that point on what that person says is truth. You can only assume and assumptions are not good enough when it comes to your life. Take all necessary steps to find out as much as you can from the family member in terms of what they repeated back to the abuser. From there take the necessary actions to be extra cautious, either way. Change your phone number, email address, driving routes, ask for a schedule change at work if possible, increase security at your home or even move. You may have to notify a neighbor to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity and don’t neglect to notify your local police depending on the severity of your circumstance with the abuser.

2. Remember you have a right to your privacy that not even the police have the right to disclose your whereabouts – The family member who chose to share personal information about you has taken a liberty upon themselves that even the police nor a private investigator cannot do under law and that’s disclose someone’s whereabouts and other data without that person’s consent or without a court order. What the family member did was wrong and there is nothing that can justify it. Whether the breach in your privacy occurred because of their lack of judgment or because of malice does not matter. Again your safety is first and foremost beyond their motives.

3. Give a written warning and perhaps a verbal warning to the family member or friend – Let the family member know what they did was wrong, they are not to divulge personal information about you and if you have warned them before about your right to privacy, remind them again. State specifically, ‘I do not want you sharing my information to anyone about me without my consent, not even to people you believe I may know and not even to my abuser.’ Also let them know that if you are hurt as a result of their actions with the abuser or the abuser’s acquaintances, they can be held legally responsible for your endangerment.

4. Distance yourself from that family member or friend who breached your trust – It’s obvious they lack the necessary concern, discernment and care they need to have for your situation so again, for your safety, it may be more than wise to eliminate any further communication with the family member. As mentioned before, you may have to change your phone number, email, work schedule, etc.

The scars left behind by abusers run deep no matter if the abuse was physical or non-physical. NO ONE has the right to make any decision on your behalf, especially when it comes to your personal and private information. Be careful who you speak with and what you say to them or what you post online, even to family members. Know that your life, happiness and well being is precious and extremely valuable. No one has the right to take that away from you and you have rights even when it comes to family.


When Do Abusers Stop Abusing?

When do abusers stop abusing?  The answer is when they get good and ready to.  The choice to abuse another human being is a choice of the will just like any other decision in life.  For many abusers, it’s even one step further than a choice, it’s an actual addiction; an addiction to control another human being, an addiction to feel superior and an addiction to see another person suffer.  Just as some people are addicted to making others feel great about themselves, and we call these folks givers, there are some who are addicted to making other people feel awful by inflicting pain and we call them abusers.  The pain they inflict can come in many forms; it just depends on the choice or method they desire  to use.  Some abusers use verbal, others emotional, some psychological, some financial (like stealing money, scam artists, swindlers, controlling the money of those they love for ill intentions) and some are sexually and physically abusive.

Victims of abuse often find themselves in seemingly endless cycles, especially when the abuse is from an intimate partner or even a family member, debating whether they should leave or stay.  Some hope and pray that the abuser will change but the truth is, the abuser will only stop when they’ve had enough of the abusing themselves.  There’s no set time table and there’s no telling when they will make the choice to end the abuse, especially if the abuser is addicted to abusing or perhaps pathological to some extent.  Just like we who are caring individuals have free choice to make healthy, wholesome decisions in life, abusers choose to mistreat others (and that’s saying it gently).

So if you’re debating today whether you should leave a relationship with abuse, the answer is Yes but you need to have a safety plan.  Whenever the object of an abuser’s world is removed from them and if the abuse is an addiction to them, they will go after that “object”, You.  Remember, abuse is about control and when the abuser feels they have lost that control they will fight to get it back as no one in their good mind or bad mind wants to feel like they’ve lost control.  The way they “fight” back however is with battering and sometimes murder.

So I encourage you to visit the links below on safety planning.  It’s also best that you work with a local domestic violence advocate who can point you in the direction of resources like Confidentiality Programs.  They can also advise you of your rights in obtaining a restraining order against the abuser and where the closest safe houses are for you.

www.couragenetwork.com/information_for_victims_49.html

www.thehotline.org/get-help/safety-planning

Also, please watch the following video and learn more about how to further protect yourself and your family with the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit at www.susanmurphymilano.com .

Vodpod videos no longer available.

You deserve to be happy and live a life where you are respected, loved and safe.  Don’t wait for your abuser to change because the truth is, they won’t anytime soon and more than likely never will.  Take the steps that you need for yourself and your family to move on and do it with a safety plan.


Dedicated to Those Who Still Have a Fighting Chance

It’s been almost 11 years ago that I met a beautiful young man who was dying of cancer at the tender age of 18.  I had heard about his struggle with cancer in the local newspaper and new that someone needed to reach out to him and his family.  I was working a full time job then so I asked my preacher at the time if he would pay this young man a visit and he promised me he would.  After 2 or 3 weeks had gone by, I learned that my preacher had not kept his word and I became livid.  ‘Why am I giving this man my tithe money when he can’t even get his ass in the car and visit someone who is sick as the rest of us are at work struggling to make a living?’ I thought.

I then made the decision to make the visit myself and I asked another church member, who knew the family of the young man, if she would go with me to visit them after I got off from work.  She agreed and in the cold and chill of December, we drove down an old, back country road to a white cottage in the darkness of the night out in the woods.  Once we arrived at the home, we were met by some of the friendliest of people, given the circumstances.  The new friend that I met that night, who I always call now my Charlie, was laying in the living room on his hospital bed, connected to a morphine pump as his source of pain relief and sustenance.

What happened that night I have never forgotten as I watched this young man, who did not have much left to his frail being, wake from his sleep  and he began speaking to me, though he couldn’t see me as the cancer had taken most of his sight.  We talked and I learned about his favorite instrument, his favorite sport, even his favorite flower.  I also prayed with him that night asking God to be by his side and Charlie received assurance that he would go to meet his Maker.  Minutes later, he drifted back to sleep but before he did, I gave him a red Bible.

Charlie died three days later on December 26th and after speaking with his mother after the funeral had taken place, I learned that he was buried with the same Bible I had given him.  I also learned from his mother that the visit I had paid him gave him renewed strength that she had not seen from him in a while.   He was a more cheerful person in his last three days, making mention of me several times and wanting to know where his Bible was.  On Christmas day, after weeks of not eating because of the effects from the morphine, he awoke asking to get dressed and ate his last meal ever with his family.  I didn’t know that the time I had left to reach him wasn’t that long.  I didn’t know that Charlie was on the verge of death the night we went to see him.  The local newspaper had minimized the state of his condition.

Just like my angel, Charlie, whose life was claimed by a gruesome disease called cancer, there are many victims of domestic violence who are also on the verge of death.  If you and I don’t get to them, don’t talk to them, don’t reach out to them soon, and just wait for other people and organizations to do the work when you and I are just as capable, then it just may be too late.  If we can save them or offer some kind of hope to help them move on and be empowered to take the next steps, then we’ve done our job.

I know my Charlie died, but he needed someone to come to him and give him some kind of hope as his fate was near.  For those who are being victimized by domestic violence, they still have a fighting chance, however, and that’s the point I want to get across today.

So I challenge all of us who are fighting for the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault to crime victimization, please remember that each person deserves the help and support.  It’s not too late. Each person deserves to be kept safe from their abuser and out of harm’s way with whatever it takes.  Judges, prosecutors, police officers and advocates reading this, ask yourselves are your departments doing all they can do to protect victims?  Politicians and legislators, are you passing laws to keep victims safe or what’s holding you back from making the right decisions to protect your citizens?  Is it that one little clause in a bill that needs to be modified that’s preventing you from voting on it?  If so, then for Heaven’s sake come to a compromise, get it changed and pass that bill!  And family, friends, co-workers, what’s keeping you from talking to the person you love or know about getting help as they are being abused?

If all of us wait for the next guy to come around, just like the lazy preacher I once had, what we’re called to do by Divine Intervention, Providence or Karma will never happen.  So let’s take the time to make this coming holiday and new year a time to be more proactive in our fight for all of humanity.  There are some things we just know we must do that are right.  Someone needs you.  Don’t let anything hold you back.

~Dedicated to my Charlie.  Called home to be with his Maker December 26, 1999.~