Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Don't They Leave and Other Dumb Questions - Domestic VIolence

I wrote this post four years ago, but when I was young, this was my life. Recently, something reminded me that there is a lot of misunderstanding about domestic violence and the people who it effects. I thought this post was worth resurrecting. I hope you take the time to read it, maybe it will help promote some compassion and understanding.

Yesterday my friend Kate opened up publicly about her experience as a victim of Domestic Violence. Kate and I are not just friends here on the CafĂ©, but in real life too – we talk….. I have known about the abuse that she endured for a time now…. She opened up to me because she found out that I had also been a victim.

I realized that there are so many women out there who feel isolated and alone. They sit in their own dark version of hell and feel that there really is no way out. Those of you who have never experienced domestic violence ask: Why does she endure it? Why does she put up with it? Why does she stay? The answer is quite simply that a victim often can’t find her way out…..

I was 18 years old when I started dating my abuser. I loved him more than anything in this world – and NO he didn’t start hitting me right away… they never do. The mental abuse is much worse, and that is what starts first. An abuser wants to isolate his victim from family and friends. My abuser told me that I was dumb, fat, stupid, crazy, and my favorite – that no one would ever love me the way that he did. After hearing that you are worthless so often by a person that professes to love you, and not getting any positive reinforcement from family and friends, you start to believe what they tell you. “ Maybe I really am worthless…..” I know that is what I thought.

That is when the physical abuse starts. The first time my abuser hit me – he struck me flat palmed across the face. Immediately, he was on his knees saying “ Baby, baby, I’m so sorry…. It will never happen again. I love you so much, I just lost control…. You have to help me! If you wouldn’t have pushed me…..” Sound familiar? I thought that it was my fault. I had just pushed him too far. If I just loved him enough, I could help him to change. Things were really good for a while, and I believed him that it would never happen again….. I was so wrong.

The next time, it wasn’t just a slap across the face – he beat me! He beat me so bad that the next day I couldn’t get out of bed. He was always careful not to hit my face after the first time….. Most of the bruises and scars that he gave me were internal as the mental abuse never stopped. I felt that his abuse was my failure. I had done something to deserve it.. . and after it happened, I still got the “Baby, I’m sorry… “. After the beating, things were better – for a while……

One day, I came home and found him and a friend abusing my cat. I was so mad, I loved my cat!!! Why would he do something like that to a harmless animal? I freed it and that began a huge fight, which ended in me being thrown through a window and cutting open on of my main arteries. As I lay on the ground bleeding – his friend dialed 911 – and he stood over me saying, “Bitch, you deserved it.” They rushed me to the hospital via ambulance where the doctor was able to fix my arm – but my broken spirit was another matter. I kept my scars, both on the inside and the outside.

I finally found the courage to leave him – my cat, Stripe, and I. I knew the next time he would kill me and somehow, I scrapped myself together, called a co-worker and asked for help. She put me up until I could find a place of my own….

Would you know that he came crawling back? He wanted me to forgive him. It would never happen again….. For a time, I was so weak, I wanted to believe him. I wanted to fix him, make him a better man….. If I just loved him enough… but then, I looked at my arm and said “ That son of a bitch threw you through a window! What is it going to take?” It was hard, but I stood my ground….

I worked, I was lonely, and I have a lot of baggage…. But even with the problems that I had financially struggling etc… I was alive!!! I rediscovered myself and I learned that I wasn’t worthless, or stupid, or ugly……. It took me many years to get beyond all that pain. Sometimes I still have nightmares and I wake up next to my husband who tells me “It’s ok, it’s over…..”

To any women out there reading this – you are NOT alone! Please find someone to talk to….. Leaving can be scary, but start making plans. Finish school, get a job, keep a bag ready….. And if you need immediate help call the national helpline at 1-800-799- SAFE that’s 1-800-799-7233. You deserve to be happy!! Your children have the right to a violence free childhood. Your sons need to know that this is not the way to treat women and your daughters need to know that this isn’t the way they should be treated. There is a way out – please ask for help….. I did and I am alive today because of it.

To anyone that has a friend that may be going through this - don't let them be isolated. Be the voice of affirmation for them. Remind them that they are a loving, beautiful and worthwhile human being. You'll be glad you did. Friends in need are friends in deed.

Monday, July 11, 2011


As stressful as negotiating and closing on our new house was, the selling of our old house has proven to be even more so. I hate feeling like things are out of my control and frankly, once an offer is made on the house, almost everything is. Our house passed it's inspection with flying colors only to have bozo the clown for an appraiser.

We have a stoop on our house. It has one step and a landing. It measures 18 - 22 inches high depending on where you measure from. It has never been an issue in the 5 years that we lived there - even with the varied company we have had. Now, the appraiser - NOT the inspector, tells us that we need to have frakking hand rails. Are you kidding me???? It's completely absurd. There is no need for that and additionally there is no, I repeat NO, code requiring the hand rails. So, some appraiser gets to pull some idiocy completely out of his ass and unless we comply, the sale of our house in CT is totally tanked.

Yep, I'm a little stressed. I'm trying to remind myself that it will all work out as it is meant to. Someday I will look back at all of this and laugh at my lack of faith. I know God has a plan and it will resolve and/ or reveal itself in the end. See, I feel a little better already. Thanks for letting me vent.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Karma is a Bitch and it bites both ways

The other day I was talking to a friend who was commiserating about the terrible way that people have treated her and waiting for karma to give her retribution. Look, we've all done something like this in the past - been seeking that justice for some perceived hurt. Here is what I have learned over the years - Karma is a bitch and it bites both ways.
Usually, when I find myself waiting for karma to serve justice to those who have hurt me, what I really need to be doing is taking a closer look in the mirror at myself and my own action. Hurts and failed relationships are always the result of the actions of more than one party. I have plenty of karma coming my way.
Friendships and interpersonal relationships of any kind require constant nuturing and maintenance. Many of my friends know that I haven't always been there to do the heavy lifting, but I know enough to know that any failures in my life are failures that my actions or lack of action has contributed to.
I was never the biggest fan of Michael Jackson, but in the 90's he had a song with a very powerful message. The lyrics go like this... " I'm starting with the Man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change."
There are relationships that I work hard on... my relationship with my husband, my children, my mother... these are the relationships that are necessary to my survival. These are the people I would lay down my life for, without hesitation. Now I need to work on buttressing and rebuilding friendships. I promise to do the heavy lifting, because I'm starting with the woman in the mirror.
Oh, and karma, well... let's just say that all the relationships in my past have made me who I am - for better or for worse. Those that I have hurt, and there is a long list, I'm sure.... they may not know, but I am sorry and I am waiting for the karma I know is coming to make it right.