Relationship Red Flags

Red Flags

  Let’s consider the fact that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 11 men are victims of domestic violence/abuse and 30% of all women murdered are murdered by an intimate partner (aka current or ex-boyfriend or husband). Not only are these numbers insane but they are also rising in correlation w/the economic crisis in the U.S. Women have to be especially careful with abusive relationships. Part of the problem is we are so susceptible to the notion of romance and abusive men take full advantage of that. They are amazing actors and act the part of Prince Charming with extraordinary ease. This also puts the good guys at a disadvantage because they will also act like Prince Charming and they really are the real thing. Abused women are weary of these guys because of their previous experience. So, while this is one red flag, it has to be found coinciding with others in order to tell the difference b/w Prince Charming and the wolf in sheep’s clothing. There are so many red flags in any abusive relationship. Some red flags I’ve seen from a past relationship are as follows:

  • Insecurity and low self-esteem
  • Has issues with jealousy
  • Has few or no friends
  • History of violence (even if it’s not directed at a person, ex. punching walls)
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Short temper, angers easily,
  • Needs and/or gives constant affection (ex, always having his arm around you) – it seems sweet at first but believe me it’s not, it’s a sign to other men that you’re his
  • Talking down to or about your religion then all of a sudden going to church with you and can’t give you a real reason (this happened with my ex-fiance and I later found out he only went as a way of control)
  • Buys you clothes then tells you that you can only wear them out with him and gets angry when you wear them w/out him
  • Tells you what you can and can’t wear
  • Prohibits you from wearing makeup
  • Gets extremely jealous or angry when a guy so much as looks at you (forget about him flirting w/you)
  • Tells you he doesn’t look at other women (only has “eyes for you”)
  • Doesn’t let you hug, spend time with or have male friends or if you do finds a reason to not like them
  • Doesn’t like when you go places alone especially if its somewhere men will look at you (ex, the beach or pool)
  • Collects and/or displays weapons such as swords, knives, or guns
  • Says he has no problem killing someone
  • Tries to coerce, persuade, or force you to go beyond your boundaries sexually up to and including rape
  • Threatens to kill himself if you leave him
  • Tells you if you love him you won’t do ____________.
  • Keeps weapons in his car for no apparent reason esp if he suddenly starts doing it (my ex started keeping a butterfly knife in the car just because he felt like it – he didn’t care it was illegal to conceal a knife in the glovebox and felt a need to take it out and show it off to me several times
  • An inability to empathize and/or turning the attention back to him when you’re upset about something (making you feel sorry for him and comfort him when he should be comforting you)
  • Stops hanging out w/his friends and expects you to stop hanging out with yours also
  •  Calls and wants to know what you’re doing and where you are constantly; even expects you to be at the phone waiting on his phone call
  • Talks down to you, calls you names, tells you no one else would want you, etc.
  • Feels threatened when your friends and/or family doesn’t like him
  • Becomes exceptionally defensive when someone accuses him of being controlling
  • And of course any physical violence toward you such as hitting (even playfully), pushing, restraining you or blocking you from leaving, etc.

The above list is just red flags I saw in my relationship w/my ex-fiance. It doesn’t include all red flags such as cruelty to animals and/or children and treating female relatives badly. You can find another list at http://www.theredflagcampaign.org/index.php/dating-violence/red-flags-for-abusive-relationships/. They include some I don’t including ones that you need to look for in the beginning stages (the way he treats his female family members being one). Again, I must reiterate that 1 or 2 of these flags does not mean your partner is abusive, but if he (or she) exhibits several of these you need to tread carefully and be weary. Always keep your eyes open for these signs in your, your family members’ and your friends’ relationships. It is not only important to protect yourself but to use this information to inform and protect those you care about. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Spread awareness by educating those around you and speaking up against abuse. You may very well save a life. You never know.

XOXO,

Lavender Skye  

Ghosts (of the past)

So I started writing the following as a writing exercise to get my creativity flowing and ended writing what I would consider a good blog post. It was supposed to be about ghosts, the supernatural, etc but ended up being this. So here you are :)

XOXO,

Lavender Skye

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Ghosts

            There exists in this world what are known as ghosts. Ghosts are spirits that have become stuck in our world,    either for some purposes or because they are not ready to admit to their own death. Ghosts, however, also exist as an essence – an essence of something lost or someone we left behind as we grew up and into our present selves. What do I mean by this, exactly? I mean our past selves we try to leave behind. They always follow us no matter how much we reject them or ignore them. I have found this to be true so many times.

Whenever we reminisce about “old times” or our youth or childhood, these ghosts resurface as memories. Some of these are friendly ghosts, or happy memories, while others are evil spirits, or our bad memories, seeking to destroy us. These are the ghosts we fear the most and try to bury deep within our subconscious. These are what make up our nightmares, our insecurities, our scars. They feed on our psychological well-being like vampires on an unwilling host.

The scariest of these come from being abused in some way. This comes in various forms from the seemingly benign like breaking promises and lying to name calling, bullying, manipulation, to more serious offenses like child abuse, domestic violence, rape, torture, prostitution and sex trafficking among others. These ghosts can cause a myriad of psychological symptoms culminating in all kinds of mental illness: PTSD, depression, psychosis, and even dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities). I, personally, deal with depression and probably some form of PTSD, though that particular one has never been diagnosed. The nightmares and flashbacks I still get are terrifying even when I’m awake, but the real ghosts come out when I decide to try trusting people again. All of my past comes back to haunt me, and I remember why I don’t trust. I’ve been hurt far too many times, mostly by men.

The worst hurt and scariest ghost came from a male “friend” who I trusted entirely. I spent the night over at his house several times, especially when I had to get away. His house was my escape, my sanctuary. He was the “nice guy” that always complained about ending up in the dreaded “Friend zone.” He was exceptionally sweet and caring — a big teddy bear. At least, that’s what I thought. Until the night everything changed — the night that he revealed his true, disgusting self. I had moved back to FL to make a fresh start, but it had gone badly so I ended up just outside Nashville with a friend and her husband. When that ended up not working out due to her lack of room and her sister getting ready to move in, I took up another friend on her offer of a couch. My “friend” Michael decided he wanted to drive the 5 hours to come get me and 5 more hours to bring me home. Getting in late, we just slept at his house as I’d done numerous times before then. He rented a room in a house owned by another guy so I slept in his room just like previous occasions. Nothing was different. Being naïve little me who went to college and had several co-ed sleepovers with friends, I never thought anything of sleeping in the same room as a male friend. I learned a lesson the hard way that night when I woke up to my “friend” pawing my boobs over my tank top. I froze. I couldn’t believe this was happening and tried to convince myself I was dreaming. The only thing I could think to do was pretend I was sleeping. I rolled over to get away from his paws (I’m using paws instead of hands because he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing). Of course it didn’t work, and he just rolled closer to get at me. Eventually, he stopped and went over to his futon to finish himself off. I thought it was over and fell back asleep until I woke up later to the same thing. This time he put his paws under my shirt to get a better feel. Again, I froze. I prayed he would stop. I didn’t know what he would do if I stopped him. After all, his behavior was completely abnormal for him. He was unpredictable. I never imagined he would assault me in such a way, so I couldn’t think how he might react if I let him know I was awake. Rolling over away from him again, he followed and when I rolled over to almost my stomach he got almost on top of me still holding onto my boob and started dry humping me. My mind was going in a thousand different directions. I thought he might rape me, but didn’t know how to stop him. He was much bigger and stronger than me, and I was at his place in the middle of nowhere (Lebanon, VA) in the middle of the night with no car and no cellphone signal. Even if I had had a way to call a friend, I had no clue how to get to Michael’s house so no way to give anyone directions. I was stuck – alone, scared, and betrayed. The only thing that could’ve made it worse is if he had actually raped me, but thankfully, he didn’t. He finally stopped eventually. I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night, though. And his excuse when I confronted him about it a week later via text message? I can’t remember the exact wording anymore but I do remember it was something like the assholes always get the girls and he was tired of being the nice guy. Um, yeah. I might go after “bad boys,” but I don’t go for guys who pretend to be a girl’s friend and then sexually assault them. That’s not the type of “asshole” girls fall for.

So, this one incident is my ghost that haunts me the most. I have since changed, my trust in men has been shattered, and my trust in humanity is barely hanging on. I would rather be haunted by a poltergeist (the trickster ghosts) than this :(

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Along with being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The purple ribbon is the symbol for Domestic Violence Awareness, and teal is for sexual assault. So, I, personally, am going to incorporate purple and teal into my wardrobe. Last year I wore purple clip in hair extensions, and, if I can find them, will wear them again this year. Maybe I should do one purple and one teal or pink for breast cancer. Both causes for domestic violence and breast cancer are close to my heart as I’ve known and loved 3 women who have fought breast cancer, and I have seen and been a victim of domestic violence myself. My twin sister is currently in an abusive marriage, and I have several friends who are also survivors of domestic violence.  My dad, as I think I’ve mentioned before, was abusive to my mom, sisters, and me for many years. So, while both causes are relevant and important in my life, I am choosing to focus on Domestic Violence. I will not forget about Breast Cancer Awareness; domestic violence just takes precedence because of the strong impact it has had in my own life and the fact that while everyone focuses on breast cancer, there is a deeply embedded silence surrounding abuse.

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Below is several helpful links on abuse, warning signs, etc.

How to spot a potential abuser:

http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/710

Quiz: Are you in an abusive relationship?

http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/662

Warning signs

http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/601

Planning a safe exit from an abusive relationship:

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

All of these links include valuable information, especially the last one on safely getting out. You have to know how to protect yourself from an abuser. The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is right after you break ties to the abuser. Having a plan is crucial because of this. I’m not trying to scare anyone out of escaping, I’m merely trying to warn you it is difficult and can be scary. You need to know how to stay safe. Abusers will do whatever it takes including apologizing, making false promises (I’ll never do it again”), begging, going to family and friends, stalking, and even threatening your life. In some cases, he will resort to violence. We all know the stories and the statistics of former partners murdering their victims. 3 in 10 female murder victims were killed at the hands of a current or former intimate partner. Read that twice and focus on the word current. Just because you stay does in no way guarantee your safety just like leaving does not guarantee he will attack you. The best course of action is to leave with a safety plan including important phone numbers, a cell phone to call 911, important documents, a place to go even if it’s the local shelter, extra clothes, extra money if you can get it, etc. Also, a self defense class will be invaluable in case of the need to defend yourself. Some women carry weapons to protect themselves. The only thing I have to say about that is if you carry a gun, be absolutely sure you know how to use it and that you WILL use it if the need arises. The biggest mistake you can make if you carry a gun is not being ready to use it. It will then be used against you so make sure you will be able to shoot a person. Many people say they can kill someone if their life was in danger, but far less can actually do it. 

Remember all of this could save your or someone else’s life. Please, whatever you do, if you’re in an abusive relationship, seek help now. For more help and/or resources you can either visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website:

http://www.thehotline.org or call them at: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 

Thank you, and remember to wear your purple :)

XOXOXO,

Lavender Skye

Remembering 9/11

9-11 not 4get   September 11, 2001

2,753 people died in attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City

A day none of us in the United States will soon forget. It was the day of the worst terrorist attacks our nation has ever     seen. Therefore, I am taking a moment out of my normal posts about violence against women and children to remember the victims and heroes who died in the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks as well as United Flight 93 Whose brave passengers took over the hijackers and crashed the plane to prevent an attack on the President.

Like all of us, I remember exactly where I was when I heard of the attacks. I was in my college dorm getting ready to go to class when my roommate and I were listening to the radio, and the story interrupted our music. At the time, only one tower had been attacked, and we both assumed it was just a normal plane crash as we didn’t have tv and couldn’t see the video. Then, right before we left for class, another plane crashed into the other tower, and the word terrorist attack came up. We had to leave for class, and that’s when we heard about the Pentagon. The professor announced it to us in the Lecture Hall. I don’t remember if we even had a lecture that day, but after class was convocation in the chapel, and the President of the college announced the attacks and cancelled convo. A bunch of us, including the college president, gathered in the cafeteria to watch the news. I also remember our college held a prayer vigil that night.

Twelve years later I still cannot believe this happened, and there is definitely a new sense of vulnerability that took over after the attacks. A lot of us thought we were and always would be safe. War was something far away not something that touched American soil. At least, not since Pearl Harbor. Now I know how the people who lived through that attack felt that day.

First Responders

First responders included police, firefighters, paramedics and military personnel. These were the people who ran into the towers as everyone else was running out. They risked their own lives to save others, and some died in the rescue effort. I have included a couple stories below since I am not able to begin to express what these men and women did.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/11/retired-fdny-firefighter-tells-chilling-story-of-911-search-and-rescue-12-years-later/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/09/04/first-responders-of-september-11.html

The Rescue Dogs

Search and rescue dogs assisted in the rescue of victims. The last person found alive was found not by a human but by a dog. In addition to these dogs, another dog, Roselle, led her blind master out of the towers that day.

http://www.today.com/pets/9-11-hero-dog-saved-woman-trapped-rubble-27-hours-8C11125763

The  Other Heroes

There were others who were not first responders, but employees in the towers, who risked their own lives and died saving their coworkers. These included men like Benjamin Clark (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/11/the-story-of-an-unsung-9-11-hero.html) and Todd Beamer, the man whose now famous words, “Let’s Roll,” would lead a group of men to overtake the hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93.

Then there was the first official death of the tragedy. A man who, according to everything I’ve read, had a heart of gold and loved everyone. Father Mychal Judge was the chaplain of the New York Fire Dept and went with them to the scene in order to give last rites to anyone who needed it. He died in Tower 1 and was found and carried out by police and firefighters. Over 3,000 people went to his funeral.

“One of the things people missed about Mychal Judge,” says Brendan Fay, the gay activist, “is that there was a core of sadness or vulnerability in him. He was very in touch with human vulnerability. And that sensitized him, it really did. Good ministers have an outsiderness and apartness to them. And he did, more so than anybody else.” (http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/sept11/features/5372/index1.html).

All of the men and women who died on September 11, 2001 will always be missed and remembered. Those who lived through it suffer PTSD, cancer, asthma, and various other illnesses bcause of their involvement. This is a day to remember all of them.

XOXO,

Lavender

Real Men are not Just Fathers, but also Dads.

Father Vs Dad

This was supposed to be a Father’s Day Post, but as I always get overemotional on that day, I had to postpone this to a later date. My father is a great sense of pain in my life as is Father’s Day so this is not the normal Father’s Day message. There’s enough messages out there on how special dads are, how much everyone loves their dad, or how “all dads love their children,” the worst sentiment I’ve ever heard.  No, not all dads love their children, not even all fathers love their children. If they did, there would not be those fathers who physically, emotionally, verbally, and/or sexually abuse their children. There would be no neglect from fathers. There would be no fathers prostituting their daughters out for money and/or drugs, and yes, that actually does happen. I once met a woman who’s father actually traded her for drugs. No one can say these fathers loved their children. People don’t do these inhumane things to the people they love. No, this post is for those who do or did not have a father worth honoring. Like the t-shirt says, “Anyone can be a father, it takes a real man to be a dad.” And, unfortunately, some of us never had a “dad.”

Even though I called my dad by “Daddy,” it was an empty gesture. He may have been under the false assumption that he was a “dad,” and may have even acted like it when I was really young. There were even times he acted like it when I was older, but not enough to be able to say he was a good dad because he was far from it. I used to wish I was in another family or that my dad was someone else. I spent my childhood and adolescence wanting and trying to will my father into being the supportive man he was “supposed” to be. I tried everything: talking to him, trying to win his approval, even trying to be there for him as much as possible when my older sister died.

Nothing worked. I never could stop the abuse, the neglect, the emotional emptiness he showed toward me. It’s ironic how I tried to win his approval while rebelling at the same time. I’m still terrified of disappointing him and he passed away 5 years ago. It’s like I think that if I can finally win his approval, I’ll finally get the chance to feel his love even though he’s gone. Except, I honestly believe the man wasn’t capable of love. How can you win someone’s love when they don’t know how to love? Better yet, why should I or anyone else feel like we need to earn our dads’ love? Isn’t it supposed to be unconditional?

I will never understand men like him. Who tries to strangle their daughter? Who abandons their family just to come back months later and expose them to the same trauma as before? Who allows their family to live in a warehouse with no running water while he goes to spend days at his girlfriends’ house? What kind of father works long hours to bring home barely enough money to feed his family and refuses to look for another job, and then when he finally does get one, quits without telling anyone? My dad, that’s who. Other dads do these things, too. I know I’m not the only one.

I will never forget the first time my dad went off and pushed my mom or the night I honestly and seriously thought about killing him in his sleep. Yes, I’m letting that little secret out. I’ve held it in way too long. It was a night, that for some reason, he went after my mom and I attacked him to protect my mom. I tried to figure out how I could kill my dad, but I was afraid he would wake up and kill me. I don’t remember what was going through my head that night. I can’t remember how I felt. I only remember trying to plan his death and then not being able to follow through with it. I think it may have been fear or anger driving my thoughts, but it was definitely fear that stopped me.

I don’t know why I’m even writing about that night. Maybe it’s that my nightmares about my father have returned. Maybe it’s that I’m trying to prove just how desperate I became while living in that hell. Maybe it’s because I’m hoping I’m not the only one who has considered going through with such a terrible act. Maybe it’s because all of it doesn’t seem real sometimes. That’s probably it. I want to dissociate myself from it, but am unable to because if I keep doing that I will never heal. I have no idea.

I do know I am done with this post as it has gone somewhere deeper than I wanted, and if I don’t post it now, I will delete it.

My message is simple: Not all fathers are worthy of respect, love, honor, or whatever. Some are only fathers biologically, which is not a worthy achievement. We who have fathers and not “Dads” always feel left out on Father’s Day because of the emphasis on dads. That’s not to say I’ve not had a few wonderful father figures, I have, but I do envy those with actual dads worthy of celebrating Father’s Day. Just my thoughts.

XOXO,

Lavender

Nightmares

Nightmares-76970643847_xlarge

The nightmares never go away. Sure, they become fewer and further between, but just as I begin to think they’re gone, here they come again. Usually, they center around my father, but this time they don’t. Rather, my ex-fiance is the subject. My ex-fiance who I thought was my prince, who promised to always take care of me and protect me. The same ex-fiance who would eventually become controlling, possessive, and manipulative.

Although, he’d probably always been manipulative, I didn’t see it until after he had made me feel safe. He had  offered me love, security, hope, and the attention I craved and had never received from any man. Even my own  father had never had time for me unless it was to beat on me, which he considered “discipline,” or verbally berate me. My ex-fiance was the exact opposite, at first anyway, until he had me believing I was his queen and would never get a better man. Then the real man revealed himself as an insecure, abusive, psychotic monster.

I finally got away from him, but he continues to haunt me to this day. Even though we live in different states and he has a new girlfriend, I am still terrified of running into him when I visit FL. Even photos of him freak me out to the point of freezing in fear. And now, all of a sudden, he’s invading my dreams?! I’ve been broken up with him for over 11 yrs and cut off all contact (we had some weird relationship going on the summer following our break up) just under 11 years ago. Even when he stalked me after I cut him out of my life, I only ever had one nightmare about him breaking into my house at night. Yet, for some odd reason, in the past couple of weeks I’ve had 2 different dreams about him. And they’re not of his violence, but of us getting back together! And I had been the one in the dream who had initiated it. In the last one my dream self was even considering moving back to FL and ditching my daughter! That’s probably the most disturbing part of all. I would never, ever leave my precious daughter for any man, much less my ex-fiance. Having no idea what triggered these dreams, I can only guess that it might have been a photo I saw recently. One of my friends had posted a photo of her children on her Facebook page and someone pointed out the psycho ex. He had been my friend’s boyfriend before I started dating him so he’s known as the psycho ex to both of us and within our own circle of friends. I had unknowingly dated him after her. I had known about her controlling ex-boyfriend, but having never met him, had no idea I was dealing with him until months after I had started seeing him.  If only social media had been around back in high school. Then I would’ve known who he was. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t. Anyway, I digress.

Getting back to my original point, why am I having dreams like this? And then, the day after this last dream, I found myself wondering what would happen if we became friends or even, gasp, started a romantic relationship again. I seriously think I might be going crazy. Becoming friends with the psycho stalker ex? The one who almost kidnapped me one night? The one I’m terrified of seeing again? The one whose mere picture has chills running down my spine and me wishing I could hide? Um, yeah. That would be the one. I want absolutely nothing to do with him. I don’t want him knowing where I am, that I’m on Facebook, and especially, that I have a daughter. Yes, I’m terrified of him finding out I have my daughter, which is crazy, because he’s probably not even thinking about me anymore. In fact, he has a daughter of his own now. That’s a very scary thought, but he has her. I have no idea if she’s from his new girlfriend or a previous one and don’t really care except in that I’m sincerely hoping he doesn’t subject her to any form of abuse. I do find it ironic how I will check his Facebook page once to a couple times a year to find out what he’s doing, but I want to feel safe from him and as long as he has another victim or even a life of his own, I know he’s not obsessing over me. Ok, now I’m sounding like a stalker. I wonder if other victims and/or survivors do the same thing? I do it because it gives me some sense of control over the madness, I guess. Normally, I don’t even think about him unless I happen across something about him like the recent picture. I’m glad he’s gone, but the fact that he still haunts mw is a little more than disturbing. And the fact that I’m thinking about becoming friends with him is very disturbing, to say the least. I can’t be friends with him. I’m trying my best to stay off his radar. Yes, let’s just put myself back on and give him a chance to become obsessed once again. And I’m not exaggerating about my fear of him. He was still obsessed with me enough 3 yrs after I broke up with him to talk about showing up at my graduation. So, yes, I am still afraid of him, and even more so since having my daughter. And so the dreams are relatively upsetting even when I’m awake, and especially when I have time to think like I do now.

Here’s to hoping the nightmares end since I’ve now written about them. Though I think my nightmares of abuse may never end.

XOXO,

Lavender

Marissa Alexander: A Story of Self Defense

marissaMarissa-Alexander

Marissa Alexander is a woman who is serving 20 years for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband because of FL’s mandatory 10-20-life law. She claims it was self-defense. Her husband says different. Before I get into a discussion of my own views of the case I will share the facts:

- Rico Gray (Marissa’s husband) had a history of domestic violence against not only Marissa but 3 other women

- This evidence was not allowed in the trial

-Rico Gray admitted to going into the kitchen and blocking Marissa from escaping

-Marissa and Gray did, in fact, live together

-Marissa went to the garage, and realizing she didn’t have her car keys, tried to escape through the garage but the door wouldn’t open

-After trying to escape from the garage, Marissa did go get her gun and go back into the house where Gray was waiting for her

-Marissa legally owned the gun and had bought it for protection from Gray

-Marissa had a restraining order against Gray

-Gray admitted to all of this in his deposition but then changed his story because, according to him, he was only protecting Marissa.

First of all, abusers NEVER lie to protecting a victim. Why? Because they don’t protect them. Taking into account the previous charges of domestic battery against him and his own confession to a history of violence and of literally throwing Marissa out of the house one time and slamming her head into a wall so hard she ended up in the emergency room, we’re supposed to believe Rico Gray was scared of Alexander? His previous actions prove he wasn’t the least bit afraid of her. Even when she came out of the garage holding the gun, Gray didn’t back down. In fact, he never even left the house until Alexander fired the gun. He could’ve escaped through the front door, and Alexander even told him to leave, but he refused. And then this same man says he was begging for his life, and he only lied at the deposition because he was protecting Marissa? The only one who needed protecting was him, and he succeeded. He is free while the real victim is in jail. He has custody of their 3 yr old daughter despite his recorded history of violence, which include court and police reports of previous charges of domestic battery. Does this sound like a man fearful for his own life? No. It sounds like an abusive man who thought he had control over the situation until his wife proved him wrong.

Here is a link to a video of an interview with Marissa Alexander:

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/17/stand-your-ground-didnt-work-for-her/?hpt=ac_mid

This woman does not look, act, or talk like a cold-hearted criminal. She looks, acts, and talks like a victim of domestic violence who was overcharged and absolutely did fear for her life.

A link to the deposition given by Marissa’s husband.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/90595503/Marissa-Alexander-Alleged-Victim-Disposition

In it, Gray admits to his past violence and admits to blocking Marissa’s exit the day of the shooting. He also admits to saying “If I can’t have you, no one can” (I’m paraphrasing). He had put her in the hospital in the past. He admits to her being unable to escape through the garage and admits to going into the kitchen to follow her when she didn’t come out of the garage. He also admits to her never being violent towards him except in self-defense and says he doesn’t know what would’ve happened if Marissa had not had that gun. Considering his history of violence and the fact that he admits to being unaware of his surroundings that day, Marissa was acting in self-defense. I can see how she thought he was going to kill her, especially after his threat. He even admits to not knowing what would’ve happened if she had not retrieved the gun. This is all under oath. She had no way to escape without having to get past him and as he stated, he had already blocked her exit from the master bathroom until she was hitting him to get him to let her by him.  He says he wouldn’t have left if it had not been for Marissa shooting the gun. He also admits to the kids not being right beside him, and she never pointed the gun at him. She was protecting herself the only way she could. Not to mention, she had a restraining order against him. How they lived together with that in place I have no idea but I’ve heard of it happening in other cases. A friend of a friend had a restraining order placed on her boyfriend but since he lived with her, the police couldnt enforce it without her evicting him first. Domestic violence laws are all messed up.

As for the incident of battery after her arrest, if she had never been violent towards him before, she most likely didn’t start that confrontation either. Like I said before, no physical marks doesn’t mean anything. There was one Thanksgiving my dad was beating on me and started strangling me. By the time the cops arrived the marks on my neck were gone and no bruises showed up til later, hence, no physical marks. Abusers know exactly what they’re doing and how to do it without getting caught. Considering Rico Gray’s history of violence and Marissa’s very real fear, I would say its definitely a case of self-defense. Whether it follows the stand your ground law or not, I can’t say but it shouldn’t have even made it to court b/c it is a clear case of self-defense. The only reason the self-defense claim was even thrown out by the judge was because Marissa had those charges from after her arrest and the jury seemed to believe she had another way of escaping. If her husband was following her through the house, I highly doubt she had another safe way out. And if Gray, himself, cant say what he would’ve done if Marissa hadn’t gotten her gun, no one can say for certain what would’ve happened.

In addition to all of this, for some reason the judge refused to allow Gray’s history of violence to be admitted into court as evidence of self-defense. If it had been allowed, it might have changed the jury’s mind. I don’t know for certain, though. People who have never been abused sometimes have a very difficult time imagining what might go through a victim’s head during an episode of abuse. You don’t know when the abuse will stop or if it will. There was one time I thought for sure my dad was going to beat my sister to death. There was also the time I woke up to my mom screaming while my dad was strangling her. I thought he was going to kill her. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I hadn’t woken up and started screaming for her. The memory still brings the trauma back for me. You never know if you will survive. It’s hard to describe, but I can completely understand Marissa’s point of view b/c of my own history. She had even bought the gun to protect herself and had a conceal carry license. She was scared for her life even before this happened (as most victims are), as evidenced by her purchase of the gun in the first place.

Add all of this to a State Attorney well known for overcharging and being overzealous, and you have a recipe for disaster and a victim in jail — that victim being Marissa Alexander.  Corey has been accused of unethical behavior such as concealing evidence (most recently and notably during the now infamous Zimmerman trial) to taking taxpayer money to pad her retirement fund. She isn’t exactly ethical nor does she keep good company. Let’s look at the lawsuit brought against Corey by a former law clerk from her office, Julie Lyncker. Lyncker filed a sexual harassment complaint against a former Asst State Attorney, Wesley White. Corey did nothing about it except illegally fire Lyncker for filing the complaint. Emails between Corey and White prove it was Corey’s decision. So if she is going to cover up for a man accused of sexual harassment why wouldn’t she try to cover for Gray? After all, she knew he had a violent past. There’s court records proving it. Why Corey went after Alexander is hard to say, but this case should never have even been prosecuted. See the following links for more on Corey.  http://nationalreview.com/article/353633/angela-coreys-checkered-past-ian-tuttle/page/0/1

 http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/16/us-usa-florida-shooting-lawsuit-idUSBRE96F1EL20130716

In conclusion, you have a husband with a history of violence who admitted to blocking Alexander’s exit and also happened to be in a violent rage at the time of the shooting incident and admitted to not knowing what he would’ve done to Alexander had she not retrieved the gun and who confessed to not knowing what he’s would’ve done had Alexander not retrieved the gun, a highly unethical and overzealous state attorney, and a victim of domestic violence who happened to have a gun, retrieve it when she had no way out, and shoot at a wall not at her violent husband or his kids, and a mandatory gun law (10-20-life) the judge had no way of getting around once Alexander was convicted. This all makes one huge mess, leaving a victim in jail to serve 20 yrs for defending herself while her violent husband is free and retains custody of their 3 yr old daughter. This is a gross case of injustice by our legal system not a case of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

XOXO,

Lavender

Why Victims Stay Part II

th_dv1

As promised this is part 2 of my “Why Victims Stay” post. Sorry, it’s taken me so long to get back to it. This is a really difficult topic for me because of my own personal history with domestic violence. As a child I never could wrap my mind around why my mom stayed w/my dad. I still have trouble with this idea, and she refuses to talk about it or give me any kind of answer. I used to think it was her pride (she didn’t want govt help), but now I really don’t know. One night after a beating she said it was because he would just come after her. I know she still loved him (no idea how that works if someone can explain it please), but part of me thinks it was a combination of  reasons such as lack of money, fear of him coming after her or taking us girls from her, and low self-esteem. I realize I reviewed fear in the last post but there is so many types of fear surrounding domestic violence especially when you add low self-esteem, lack of resources, and especially children.

Low Self-Esteem

This is another big factor. Abusive men are not stupid. They know that a woman who has confidence will leave them way faster than one without any, which is why this is the very first thing they chip away. They make their victims believe they love them and are the only ones who could ever love them. They use romance and charm to lure women in, and then once the victim is hopelessly in love, or at the very least infatuated, with them, they start to slowly sneak in insults or “jokes” about the woman. They love to veil their personal attacks as “just joking around” so the victim begins to think she’s overreacting.  This, by the way, is another very popular manipulation technique. If they can get their victim to think she’s overreacting, it’s much easier to get in negative comments and make her start to believe she’s going crazy. She stops defending herself and subconsciously starts believing her abuser. Isolation also plays a major part in this destruction of the victim’s self-esteem. She is isolated from family and friends who would otherwise reassure and encourage her, especially if they do not like her abuser. The abuser soon has his victim believing she is worthless without him (after all, he was her knight in shining armor), that no one but him will ever love her, and that she is unloveable. Abusers even go so far as to make their victims believe that no one will believe them about the abuse. The victims are left feeling alone, worthless, and completely hopeless. And so they’re trapped because they think they can’t escape, and they have no one to help because the abuser has taken them away from family and not allowed them to have any friends. Without help, it is nearly impossible to escape an abusive relationship, which brings me to the next reason victims may stay.

Lack of Available Resources

We do have so many more resources for victims now than back in the 1960s and before. According to http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/0/subID/161/Brief-History-of-the-Movement-to-Address-Domestic-Violence/

Many women were motivated to organize for battered women because of a “necessity and the sense of belonging to a women’s movement, rather than (merely articulating) theory” (Schechter, p. 44).  Two groups were especially significant to the development of the battered women’s movement: radical feminists and socialist feminists (Schechter, p. 45).  Radical feminists worked to create women’s programs that were not attached to male control or influence and that cared for battered women while also politicizing their concerns (Schechter, p. 46).  Socialist feminists “urged an examination of the changing nature of the family and the state under capitalism, refusing to label all women as one class” and believed that the battered women’s movement needed to unite with other movements for a “radical social change” (Schechter, p. 46-7).  In the late 1970s there were meetings of feminists that “provided the settings in which women found one another and created a national battered women’s movement,” (e.g., the 1976 International Women’s Year Conference (Schechter, p. 29). 

So, in essence we can thank the women’s movement for the resources we have today. Still, though, we need more. There are not nearly enough resources to help victims. I worked in a shelter for a very short period of time (due to scheduling conflicts w/my other job I could no longer continue to work there) and in the few times I was there, I found out just how scant resources can be. Money to run the shelter was scarce and so services weren’t the best. The workers did do the best they could despite the lack of money so it was no fault of theirs. Many shelters rely on donations of clothing, toiletries, etc for the women residents as well as volunteers especially in the area of counseling. Shelters just as much as victims have to rely on the generosity of others, which makes it hard on them and their residents. I will say, while some shelters out there don’t offer anything, the local shelter offers as much as they possibly can. It takes very special people to be able to work with dv victims and, unfortunately, there are not enough of them.

Lack of shelters in more rural areas is also a concern as is a woman’s lack of money, a car, and sometimes even a job. Also, emotional support is incredibly difficult to come by because of the abuser’s isolation of his victim. Many victims have no friends and little, if any, family they are able to turn to for help. There’s a reason abusers isolate their victims. They know their victim has a significantly lower chance of escaping if she has no one to turn to for help. Like I’ve said before, abusive men are not stupid. They know how to lure a victim and keep her. In fact, one of the lesser known types of abuse is financial abuse.

Loveisrespect.org says

“Financial abuse can be very subtle — telling you what you can and cannot buy or requiring you to share control of your bank accounts. At no point does someone you are dating have the right to use money or how you spend it to control you.”

And they give the following examples (for the rest see http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/types-of-abuse/what-is-financial-abuse)

  • Giving you an allowance and closely watching what you buy.
  • Placing your paycheck in their account and denying you access to it.
  • Keeping you from seeing shared bank accounts or records.
  • Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours you do.

I remember my dad used to make my mom use all her money first (when she had a job) to pay the bills, and he would even go through her wallet and steal money. She couldn’t save any money at all because every time she did, my dad would steal it. He would even steal my money once I got a job so I opened a checking account to prevent his stealing when I was home from college on summer break one year after I had had enough. The times my mom didn’t have a job, my dad would only give her so much money and tell her what to spend it on. He’d look at receipts to make sure she didn’t buy anything extra, especially if he was suspicious because a trip to the grocery store was more than he had expected. He also refused to allow her to have her own car most of my life. She had to walk home from work every night after working an entire 8am-6pm day when I was in high school because of this (no wonder she stayed skinny). At one point she was walking to and from work when she was working 10:30am-6:30pm because my dad was already at work and refused to let her have her own car. The reason he wouldn’t let her have a car? She spent too much time “with friends and not enough time at home.” He expected her to go to work full time, have the house cleaned every night, and make dinner every night, often after she went to the grocery store to buy food for dinner. Needless to say, this often didn’t get all done, making arguments and fights a common occurrence. All of this kept her too tired and busy to even look for options to leave. She had no one she could turn to for help. A police officer from my elementary school (our D.A.R.E. officer) tried to talk to my mom, but she never listened. I have no idea what was said because the officer would send us away when she wanted to talk to my mom, and my mom only told us it was about my dad. She was the only one who reached out to my mom, though, and cared enough to actually reach out to her and make an effort to get her to leave. She was Deputy Catherine (Cathy) Combs of the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Broward County, FL, and I will be forever grateful to her for trying to get through to my mother even though it didn’t work. It’s a lot more than I can say for the pastor at my church in high school. Instead of reaching out to my mother when a friend of mine told him what was going on, Pastor Holland said my mom had to come talk to him. Um, for people who don’t know, dv victims are NOT going to seek you out on their own just because you think they should. This is what causes lack of resources and support — people who think victims should come to them for help instead of acively seeking out the victims. Victims NEED the support from someone who reaches out to them. As a victim of a psychologically and sexually abusive relationship myself, I can tell you I found the strength to leave because my friends and college professors reached out to me not the other way around. I would never have reached out to them. So the FIRST AND VITALLY IMPORTANT resource out there is support from others who are willing to get in the middle of it all.  Please keep this in mind if you think or know a family member or friend is being abused. It’s your job to reach out to them because most of the time, they’re not going to do it on their own due to fear or even denial (my situation).

And now, things really get ugly and complicated when you add . . .

Children

Disclaimer: I am not by any means judging women who stay because of the children. It is just a very difficult concept for me to comprehend unless the child’s safety is involved, which it is in a lot of cases. Please don’t take anything I say below personally or think I’m trying to offend you. I’m not. I love all of you.

Everything becomes more complicated when children are involved, and domestic violence is no exception. It’s hard enough to be abused, but when you have children it gets even harder. I’ve heard the mantra said by non-victims, “stay for the children” or a similar one “the children need their father.” Both of these are never said by survivors. We know you never stay for the children. If anything, you get out for the children. As a child, I was witness to the horror of watching my dad beat my mom. I got to see the bruises she hid, the injuries no one else saw. I had to watch my dad hit my mom over and over again with the same belt he used on us and heard her pleas for him to stop. In high school, I even went after him when he was going after her in order to stop him and took the abuse myself.  Even when I didn’t see it, I heard it. The night I woke up to her screaming I remember wondering if I was hearing things because it was barely audible. It wasn’t until she said, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” that I realized my dad was strangling her. I still have deep emotional scars from that night. Anyone who tells a woman to stay “for the children” has no clue what they’re talking about or how much harm they’re doing. Whatever you do, DO NOT STAY FOR THE CHILDREN. Nonetheless, women do stay for the children. I do know some of this is out of fear alone. We’ve all heard way too many stories of men who murder their children to get back at their ex or someone else. I mentioned a few examples in my previous post, and unfortunately there are so many more little angels that die at their fathers’ hands )':    (I’m not saying women don’t do it, but I’ve yet to hear about it. I do know women are abusive, too.) I also know men will use the legal system as a means of control. Even though they are only using the children to control their mother, some of these men will fight for custody, and without physical evidence and even with evidence sometimes, judges will award visitation and even joint custody to abusive men. Why? Personally, I think it’s because they’re either abusers themselves (like Judge William Adams from TX who was caught beating his daughter with a belt and has been reinstated to the bench in a family law courtroom– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzXiQ4E0Omg&oref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DMzXiQ4E0Omg&has_verified=1), they know absolutely nothing about domestic violence, they buy into the “the children need their father” bs, or they think women make this stuff up (which some do but very few). In my opinion, there is MORE than enough evidence when an order of protection has been taken out. Add all the very true horror stories, and there is an incredible amount of evidence in support of the idea that these men are extremely dangerous. You would think, at some point, judges would pick up on this, but not all do. And I realize there’s probably some glitch in the system that make it impossible for judges to deny visitation, especially if no abuse is perpetrated against the actual child, but I don’t know the system that well. We do need to change quite a few laws regarding these cases. These fears are definitely real and are also causes of kidnapping on both sides. Fathers and mothers kidnap their children to take them away from the other parent as punishment and to protect them in cases where the legal system fails. Every time I see a Missing poster depicting a child abducted by his or her own mother I wonder if she was doing it to protect said child, but I have digressed too much.

The other reason for staying “for the children” is because of the fundamentally wrong idea that the children need their father or they aren’t abused so it’s better than being in a broken family. This one is hard for me to comprehend. I might be jaded because of my own experiences as a child. I always thought it was harder to watch my mom or one of my sisters getting beaten on by my father. I would pray for my parents to get a divorce. My dad left twice but came back, and my mother took him back. I will admit the 2nd time (I don’t remember the first — I was 2) I was scared of what would happen if my dad never came back, but fast forward a few years later and I would beg my mom to leave. I even offered to get a job in high school and help her pay. I thought about it a lot, pointing out places we could move, talking about the local women’s shelter, even dreaming up and talking about plans and what we could do to survive w/out my dad. Like I said, I thought about it A LOT. I’ve talked to others who had similar experiences, and the general consensus is we wish our mothers had escaped. No child needs or deserves an abusive father. Watching your dad abuse your mom is a form of abuse, in my opinion. It leaves deep emotional scars like no other form of abuse. And 50% of children who witness violence become victims of the abuser themselves at some point. Think about that for anyone who says “the children need their father” or “a stable home.” An abusive marriage in no way, shape or form offers any kind of security and stability.

To those who do stay for their children: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE GET OUT NOW. Before anything happens to them because it will eventually. And even if it doesn’t, witnessing it is enough to leave them permanently damaged. Please, please, please take them away from that environment. I know its scary, but they will only repeat the cycle if you keep them in the abusive environment. If you need help,  the National Domestic Violence Hotline number is listed below:

national-domestic-violence-hotline-big

Please look over and remember these reasons before judging someone in a violent relationship. There are real reasons and fears involved — often ones no one but the victim knows about.

XOXO,

Lavender

Why Victims Stay Part 1

Image     Why do victims stay in abusive relationships?

There are several reasons and theories. Some of these are real reasons even though people don’t understand them. I can explain the reasons women stay, but unless you’ve been in an abusive relationship, I cannot make you understand them fully. So the question remains: Why do domestic violence victims stay? There are lots of theories, some true, some not, but I’m going to speak to the ones I know from personal experience and those experiences of other victims. Victims are the only ones who can really say why they stayed. So what are these reasons? Is it because we’re weak or stupid? Some people think so. A friend of mine once told me only weak women end up in abusive relationships. When I pointed out that his sister is in an emotionally abusive marriage, though, he suddenly changed the subject. Hmmm, interesting. You gotta love the irony of someone who makes judgments about victims only to change the subject when they have to face that same judgment and point to someone they love. If it’s true for all victims then it’s true for his sister. He didn’t like when I pointed that out to him. Oh, well. Don’t judge the rest of us if you can’t handle when that judgement is used against you. I know, I’m mean.

Back to the question at hand. The many reasons victims stay include fear, belief the abuser will change, lack of support and/or resources, staying for the children, low self-esteem, and denial (what I call the “Prince Charming effect”).

“Prince Charming Effect” (aka denial)

Yes, I said the word denial. The fact is that love does blind us. We refuse to see a person for who they truly are after we’ve fallen in love w/him or her. Abusers know this and take advantage of it. They use what I call the “Prince Charming” method: shower their victim with affection, gifts, and undivided attention and then slowly pull off the mask under the guise of sincere worry or love. My ex-fiance used to get mad when I spent the night out with friends because he “missed me.” He made me feel sorry for him because he didn’t have any friends and only had me. By the way, that’s a huge red flag. When we first started going out I was getting ready to leave for college. We never actually had a “date” until I came home for Thanksgiving break. We talked almost every night over the phone, though. I could talk to him for hours. He was so sweet and funny and always had time for me. I absolutely loved it and fell in love w/him. I had been abused my entire life and finally found a good man who would take care of me. He was my prince, my knight in shining armor. And then he changed. Dr Jekyll morphed into Mr Hyde after we gt engaged. I didn’t want too believe it at first. I wanted him to be the “prince charming” I thought he was capable of being. I was in denial that I was in an abusive relationship even after I became scared of him. In fact, I never even admitted it until years later.

He is going to change or is capable of change

This stems from the very flawed belief that everyone is capable of change. The ugly truth is that only those who want to change are capable of it. Abusers don’t see anything wrong with how they behave. It doesn’t actually make sense seeing as how they only abuse people they “love” and know how to treat someone. We see this all the time in the public eye. Most abusers would never be seen as abusive outside the home and/or relationship. So it has nothing to do with the capability of treating someone good and everything to do with their choosing to abuse their intimate partners. They know how to put on the “good guy” act. The problem is it’s just an act; they take off the mask at home. As I mentioned above, abusers are amazing actors. No wonder their partners believe them when they apologize and promise to change. They do change. At first. And this is exactly how they reel their partners back in.  However, it doesn’t last and the abuse is often worse than before because they are so afraid of losing their partner again. Therefore, they tighten the leash ever so slightly until they have control again. It’s kinda like that idea that if you put a frog in a pot of water and slowly turn the heat up, the frog will boil to death. He doesn’t notice because he gets used to the temperature every time it gets turned up. This happens with abuse. The victim doesn’t notice until it’s too late. From a friend:

“The first time it was because I believed when he said he would never do it again. The second time was when I found out I was pregnant and he promised he would change. Every time after that was out of fear. He threatened not only me, but my family as well”

Thankfully, she finally left and her boyfriend served jail time. She moved out of state so has not seen him since then, which brings me to another, and perhaps the most powerful reason to stay, FEAR.

FEAR

Consider the following from a real victim (who shall remain anonymous for obvious safety reasons):

“Here is why I stayed for so long. My ex husband was a meth addict. He knew a lot of bad bad people and had me watched during the times that we were separated. He told me things like if he found me with another man he would kill that man, and then me and take the kids away. He called me clicking a gun in my ear and constantly knew of my every move. I felt stuck. at one point the fear of another being hurt due to me became unbearable. I went back only to get beaten again. the last time that I did leave for good, my husband told the dealers that I was a nark and they believed him. I was a walking target. it was unbearable. the stalking did not end after he remarried and moved on with his life either. only became worse as his wife was as terrible as he was. They found me and filed a false police report against me that could have ended everything that I have been working towards in my life. I was pregnant and engaged to be married. the report was that I was luring young men off of Myspace and lying about my age. of course this was not true, my fiancé was 27, not 17. and I was not allowing him to physically abuse my kids. the report was too much for my fiancé and he left me alone and pregnant at 6 months. I was forced to give that child up for adoption. the story still goes on and on to this day. I am in a victims protection called the A.C.P. they give me a fake address and my mail goes there. he found out that this was not my real address when my youngest son contacted him against our wishes, I feel lost and very alone most of the time. it is a very hard battle. thank you for hearing my story.”

That sounds like something out of a fictional book or movie, but it’s real. People don’t realize just how far some of these men will go to keep a victim. Stalking, harassment, threats, and actual physical assaults. A friend of mine had an ex boyfriend come after her with a gun. Luckily she was able to get in her car and drive away fast enough, but it doesn’t always end so well.

Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.14
In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.1 (http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf)

Let those statistics sink in. Scary, huh? That’s the real fear abuse victims have to live with, and the police don’t help. Remember Marissa Alexander? She was a domestic violence victim in FL earlier this year that got sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot in the ceiling when her husband chased her into a locked garage. He was never charged despite the indisputable evidence of past abuse and the protective order that Marissa currently held against him. She’s in prison for protecting herself. http://thegrio.com/2012/04/24/marissa-alexander-angela-coreys-other-stand-your-ground-case/

Also, consider the following story of a woman whose ex-husband killed her 3 children:

http://www.twincities.com/crime/ci_23036189/schaffhausens-daughters-killings-rooted-dependency-lawyer-says-closing

These stories are very real and very frightening for non-victims. Now, imagine  actually being a victim inside of an abusive relationship. Is it any wonder they stay?

The most dangerous time for a victim is right after she leaves. Now let’s discuss the lack of protection the victim faces at this point.

In some states, restraining orders cost a lot of money (FL – $250 when I looked into it years ago) and NC used to charge for them as well. No contact orders, by the same token, are offered free in those same states but can only be obtained if you actually press charges and the state decides to follow through w/those or in custody cases. So what happens if you don’t have children or the money for a protection order? What happens if you can’t prove abuse, harassment or even stalking? Absolutely nothing.

The protective order is only a piece of paper, and many times the police either refuse or cannot enforce these orders (due to our laws surrounding criminals’ rights) unless the abuser actually physically attacks the victim (which, by my standards is far too late).

Stalking is not really seen as a real crime (even if it is technically on the books) or at most, it is a misdemeanor.

Some District Attorneys’ offices refuse to prosecute sexual violence crimes against wives and girlfriends (MD is one state that does this, when a friend of mine in MD tried to press charges on her ex-boyfriend who had raped her on multiple occasions, she was told by the local D.A. that MD doesn’t prosecute sex crimes unless it involves a stranger), thereby protecting abusers and giving them free reign to rape and terrorize their victims.

Family court judges will still award unsupervised visitation and even joint custody in some cases to violent men. How are you supposed to protect your children if your ex has unsupervised visits with them? You can’t as many women have found out, sometimes to deadly results. One blog I follow is that of Cappuccino Queen aka Hera McLeod. Her beautiful 15 mth old son, Prince, was drowned by his father during an unsupervised visit. Her story can be found at  (http://cappuccinoqueen.com/?page_id=17). The Washington Post also covered her story http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-01-25/opinions/36546530_1_visitation-first-degree-murder-court-system.

And then there’s the horrific story of Josh Powell who went after his two sons, Charlie and Braden Powell with a hatchet after locking the social worker out of his house. Moments later, he set the house on fire with the children and himself still locked in. I still can’t get the image of that out of my head. Even though his wife, Susan, had been “mysteriously” killed years earlier, this extremely dangerous man had just lost custody of his sons to his former wive’s parents, and while he was the only suspect in Susan’s murder was still awarded visitation. This combination turned deadly for those 2 innocent boys on Feb 5, 2012.

For those who would question a victim’s decision to stay think of the stories above and the countless others of women who are murdered by their current and former boyfriends and/or husbands. Leaving an abusive relationship ALWAYS brings w/it a certain amount of very real danger. People outside of this violence can’t begin to imagine the amount of fear these men can perpetrate.

I watched my mom be beaten and terrorized, heard her being raped, and still did not know the fear myself until my own abusive relationship. I didn’t know why anyone would stay w/an abuser until I went back to mine. And why did I go back? Fear that he would hurt me or someone else. He had never threatened me or anyone else, except himself. He had threatened suicide on multiple occasions. I broke up with him over the phone while attending school in TN (he was in FL), and he went to my parents’ house w/a knife threatening suicide. If I had been there, I would’ve taken him back then and there. I did end up taking him back because when I went home for spring break he started harassing me and stalking me. It took only a couple days for me to take him back because I was so afraid of what he might do, and I didn’t trust the police to protect me. I found out later they wouldn’t have because the same thing happened the next summer, and I got the old line “we can’t do anything unless he hurts you” line. And so we spent the summer together, during which the abuse got worse. At one point, he even swerved his car a couple times while taking my sister and her husband to the bus station to get tickets for their departure the next day. I was in the front seat, and he swerved because I blocked him from reaching for his knife he kept in the glove box. He was threatening to kill himself, and I wasn’t going to let him. This whole scene occurred because my sister and I had gone to the movies w/a male friend and had gotten there late so decided to see the showing an hour later. My ex was furious. It’s understandable that he was worried, but the reaction was way out of line. And I refused to hold his hand after his angry outburst, which then led to the unfolding of the later events. Then there was the time I wanted to watch a movie rather than making out, and he got one of his swords and started stabbing the bed with it. I was lying on the bed, and he was barely missing me while I was telling him to stop. He didn’t care. I don’t remember what made him stop except I remember giving into him. We came close to having sex that night, and if he had wanted to, he could’ve forced me. I was a virgin waiting for marriage, and while he asked me to “make love” to him on at least 2 different occasions, I always ignored him and asked to go home. I was always afraid he would make me go to far (which he pushed me way further than I wanted to go anyway), and, while he never did, that fear stayed w/me and still stays w/me. I avoid where he might be at all costs while I’m visiting FL, especially since I now have a daughter. Almost 11 years images of him still haunt me and paralyze me with terror. And I was only with him for 6 months the 1st time and 5 months the 2nd time. I can’t imagine the terror of being in a longer relationship or living with the guy. The only thing that comes close is the night he was threatening to kidnap me. Fear is a very real and legitimate feeling considering the lengths some of these men will go to in order to keep their victims.

And yet, people still judge these women. It’s easy to say “just leave” when you’re not the one in the situation. I will close with this idea. Cosmopolitan magazine published a story covering domestic violence in their latest issue. They called it “Stop Calling it Domestic Violence. It’s Intimate Terrorism.” And you know what? It really and truly is terrorism.

There are other reasons victims stay, but I will be following up this post w/a part 2 because, honestly, I’m too emotionally drained to finish this and have been working on it for 3 days now to get to this point.

Remember, though, domestic violence is a hell of a lot more complicated than you might think.

XOXO,

Lavender

Steubenville Rape Case

A teenage girl goes to a party, starts drinking, gets drunk, gets into a car w/some male classmates even though her friends try to talk her out of it, and heads to another party where she throws up and passes out. She wakes up naked the next morning next to at a strange house, and she has no idea what’s happened. She only finds out what happened through text messages and twitter. Then photos of her are uploaded online and passed around via social media and she is the one blamed for the attacks even though she doesn’t remember anything and could possibly have been drugged (the amount of alcohol she consumed in no way should have gotten her drunk enough to pass out). and the assailants? Two high school football players. Next comes the media storm and public outrage over a possible cover up b/c of the infamous football culture of the town. So not only does a 16 yr old girl have to deal w/finding out she was sexually assaulted via friends and an eyewitness but now she has to deal w/the media backlash. Her story is being broadcast across the nation’s headlines, making her not only a rape victim but also a victim of the onslaught of the victim blaming that goes along w/being raped.

Just to get some things straight:

Yes, she was drinking.

Yes, she was underage.

Yes, she got drunk (though she has raised questions as to how considering the amount of alcohol consumed)

Yes, she was at one party and left to go to another w/the two guys.

No, she never consented to anything other than holding the one guy’s hand.

No, she never deserved or asked for or even expected a sexual assault to occur.

No, not all men would do something as disgusting and violating as sexually assault a girl just b/c she was drunk and passed out.

And NO those boys are not victims. They chose to assault the girl. They chose to commit a criminal act and ruin a girl’s life. She chose none of this. She is the victim.

I was on CNN’s facebook page earlier to protest the comments by two of their female journalists about the boys’ lives being ruined when some people’s comments infuriated me. Apparently, if you’re a girl drinking underage you deserve to be raped and it’s your parents fault for letting you go out and get drunk. Really? So those boys are innocent of any wrongdoing b/c their victim was drunk? Um, NO!!!!! Like one man commented, there are lots of teenagers who get drunk and never get raped. Just because she was drunk is not an excuse to sexually assault her. If anything, you take her home or to one of her friends’ houses. You do NOT rape her! You do not take nude photos of her or drag her out of the bathroom naked and play with her like she’s some sort of doll! She was passed out. That means she wasn’t even conscious! If she’s not conscious how could she have possibly wanted, asked for, or even knew what was happening to her? She couldn’t. Those boys knew what they were doing. They chose to do it, knowing what might happen. Were they egotistical jocks who thought they were above the law or just teenagers who thought they wouldn’t get caught? It doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is they are criminals and rapists. And they’re getting off easy w/credit for time served and a sentence to be served in juvenile hall until they’re 21. They weren’t tried as adults, don’t have to go to real prison, or even serve a reasonable sentence. So what they have to register as sex offenders? NEWS FLASH: THEY ARE SEX OFFENDERS.

So many people are judging the victim and her parents but are letting the real criminals off the hook. Honestly, I don’t care if the boys’ lives are ruined. They chose their fate. They knew they were raping the girl, knew she was passed out, and knew the possible consequences. Whatever happened to taking responsibility for one’s own actions? And people may look at the girl and say she needs to take responsibility for her actions, and yes, she was drinking and partying, but she’s not the one who chose to violate and devastate someone else. Those boys did. I mean, really, how hard is it to choose not to rape someone? To choose to take her to her friend’s house or even just stay w/her while she’s passed out to make sure she’s ok? It’s really not difficult. There are guys who have not raped a girl. There are even guys who take a drunk girl home, make sure she’s ok, and leave w/out raping her or protect her from others who might want to hurt her. I’ve been drunk and was never raped. Does that mean I got lucky? No, I have good friends who took care of me. I even had male friends and coworkers who were w/me a few times and they never did anything wrong. I even met one guy in a bar on St Patrick’s Day when I was drunk enough to not remember half the night when I woke up the next day, and he never did anything to me. We kissed and made out but he never once forced me to do anything. Even when we went on a couple dates after that, he never did anything to me. In fact the one time I woke up to find a guy friend (who is no longer a friend) fondling my breasts, neither of us had even been drinking!

This is all to say drinking is not an excuse. There is no excuse to rape or sexually assault anyone. I honestly believe rapists and others like them just use the alcohol as an excuse/scapegoat, as in “the alcohol made me do it.” Rape is about control not sex. Rapists are always in control of the situation and the victim. Alcohol and drugs are a cop-out. The football players knew their victim was drunk and passed out and couldn’t fight back or do anything to prevent them from assaulting her, and they advantage of that fact. They probably didn’t even think they’d get caught because their victim didn’t know what was going on and probably wouldn’t even remember anything about that night. They were wrong. They weren’t counting on anyone taking photos and videos and then testifying against them. Oh well. They raped a girl, got caught, tried, and convicted, and now are crying about their lives being ruined and trying to get sympathy. This is one person who couldn’t care less about them. They raped a girl, they have to deal w/the consequences of that choice/ Poor babies.

I sympathize for the real victim: the 16 yr old girl who chose to go to a party and drink, not thinking she would be raped. She didn’t choose to be raped (otherwise it wouldn’t be rape). Her life is forever altered because of someone else thinking they had a right to do whatever they wanted to her. They took away her sense of security and trust. She took nothing from them. She is the victim.

 

XOXO,

Lavender

 

The Sex Industry: Abusive or Empowering?

Excerpt from a post by a former call girl I have the pleasure of knowing through Twitter – XLondoncallgirl (http://xlondoncallgirl.blogspot.com/2012/07/denial.html)

Denial

 When I worked as a call girl, I relied on, and needed, denial to function in life. That denial was essential in order to work. To have sex with men and women I didn’t want to have sex with, to have people see me naked, to have strangers touch my body, touch my skin anywhere they wanted with whatever body part of theirs they wanted to use, I had to be in denial. That is what allowed me to do it without breaking, without falling apart, without realising the hell in which I was living.
To build and stabilise my denial, I told myself that I was receiving compensation for the abuse I’d suffered as a child. The shut-down (dissociation) I’d learnt to deal with childhood abuse, was the tool that enabled me to cut off when I was working. I could do this and earn substantial amounts of money and that was my compensation.The truth is that after a very short while, dissociation wasn’t enough on its own.

(Reprinted w/permission from XLondoncallgirl)
For more please see her post.
Her post on denial while working as a call girl in London tells the story of what it’s like to be abused by men and by a system that some are trying to make legal for their own intents and purposes. When someone tells me prostitution should be legal I cringe, especially when a feminist says it. I don’t understand the movement within the feminist movement that says such an abusive system should be legal. When I was in college a few years ago (2001-2005) the feminist movement encouraged me and taught me valuable lessons like how women are equal and should be treated as equals. I took a sociology class called Gender and Society that taught about how women are viewed and how we should be and could shatter the stereotypes. One of these stereotypes was women as sex objects.
It was men who had turned women into sex objects. We were supposed to speak out against this idea. We were supposed to speak out loudly against women being turned into sex objects instead of people. We blamed men in the entertainment industry, media, etc for young women trying to be like models, actresses, dressing provocatively, and so on.
Now, for some reason unbeknownst to me, feminists are turning around and saying prostitution, exotic dancing, and porn aka the “sex industry” is empowering. 
How is it empowering? How is abuse, rape, torture, kidnapping, and everything that comes with this multimillion dollar industry empowering?
I am baffled and blown away by this concept. XLondoncallgirl has another post on this same subject (http://xlondoncallgirl.blogspot.com/2012/10/can-prostitution-be-empowering.html) in which she says very emphatically and with a blunt honesty exactly how unempowering it really is. And she makes excellent points.
As I posted previously, I was a topless dancer for a short (thankfully very short) period of time. I can tell you being lusted after by men twice your age is NOT empowering. Having to do lapdances and let the men touch you where ever and however they wanted despite managements “rules” and the law is not empowering. I was manually penetrated, had my boobs grabbed even by men who were just giving me tips, and forced to hug men so I could feel their erection and they could proposition me for sex. I even considered one proposition b/c I needed the money and was so damaged anyway I didn’t think it could get any worse. I didn’t do it, but the fact that the very thought crossed my mind scared and disgusted me. This is not empowerment. The entire idea surrounding these practices are perverted and nauseating. And the idea that prostitution should be made legal is just infuriating in the least. Exotic dancing, or stripping depending on your preference, and porn are legal yet still overflowing with abuse and rape. And prostitution becoming legal is supposed to protect these women? How? If porn and stripping being legal doesn’t protect women how in the hell is legalizing yet another form of abuse supposed to protect women? It doesn’t. All it does is make people feel better and make the perpetrators of prostitution more $. It does not in any way benefit prostitutes who are imprisoned victims not free women who “choose” the life.
I will say some may choose to get into it but they definitely don’t choose to stay. I chose stripping for several reasons: the earning potential and a means of survival (I was alone w/no job, money or food), as well as the fact that I would have men falling at my feet, which is something I’ve always wanted. I’d always been the victim of men and I honestly thought it was my turn to have them at my beck and call, to be admired by them.
I didn’t know until I became a dancer that this was NOT how it worked. I had unwittingly just placed myself in another place to be abused by men. And when did I find this out? The first day when I realized they didn’t admire me, just my sex appeal. Why didn’t I get out? Did I mention no money and nowhere to live? That would be why. The bar gave dancers 2 free drinks plus the drinks the men were required to buy you before they could get a lapdance. I learned by the 3rd day to have my first drink before I got onstage and to drink it fast before I was called onstage. Sometimes I finished it, sometimes I didn’t. It didn’t matter as long as I had something. The days I had to go up before even ordering my drink were the absolute worst unless I had some Xanax while getting ready. One of the other strippers, S., took me under her wing and gave me Xanax one time and after that 1st time it became a routine for us. After we were dressed, but before doing our makeup, we would crush and snort a Xanax. Sometimes, we’d do two or one then and one later. One time, one girl had brought in cocaine. I wanted to try it, but S. wouldn’t let me. She said there was no turning back once you tried cocaine, and she didn’t want me to get into it. The only reason she let me have Xanax was I’d done it a few times before w/another friend back in TN. I think she was trying to protect me. I’m glad she did. It made it easier to get out.
Even though I got out, doesn’t mean I got out undamaged. I had one customer try to rape me and that is really when I became scared. I was giving him a lapdance when he pulled out his penis and started masturbating then tried to stick it up into me. I was able to maneuver and dance my way around it but just barely. That’s when the Xanax turned to a daily thing and I had to have both free drinks before getting onstage and really being able to dance for the customers. My 1st dance was usually awkward and then I could dance better w/the alcohol and drugs in my system. It was at this point that I just didn’t care that mixing Xanax and alcohol can be deadly or what the men did.
This was my denial. Xanax and alcohol were my ways of coping with these perverted animals. I no longer saw them as men. To see them as human beings meant to realize just how disgusting men could be. I knew men were perverted (I’d had my share of being followed by men in cars or being touched inappropriately by men I trusted when I was a teenager and even as a college girl once when a man in his fifties wouldn’t leave me alone at a coffeeshop I had gone to for a concert – he kept touching me and sitting so close he was almost on my lap) but I didn’t know just how disgusting they could be. It was also during this time that I learned to never trust anyone especially men. In the almost 4 years since this, I have only one man has earned my trust and he is a minister at my church who reached out to me when I became pregnant w/my daughter and wasn’t married (I’m still not).
Prostitution, stripping, and porn are far from empowering women. The sex industry is one in which women are severely abused and forced to live in deep denial to the point of becoming drug addicts. No woman or girl (I say girl b/c some prostitutes are as young as 12 and 13) should ever have to suffer this system. The feminist movement has greatly disappointed and infuriated me by embracing the idea of women as sex objects. Something they fought against for years they are now buying into. To be a true equal, one must prove her worth and the sex industry only sees women as pawns to be used and abused in their quest for money. Embracing the idea of women working as prostitutes, escorts, strippers, and/or porn stars embraces a very broken, abusive, and dark world. Instead of embracing this idea, we need to be standing up and rejecting it or we are hurting the women and men who are victims of this systematical abuse.
Things to think about.
I’ve said a lot in this one post and jumped around a lot so I hope you can understand it. I will leave you with this:
If the sex industry is so empowering to women, why do we, its victims, have to live in denial to survive it?
XOXOXO,
Lavender Skye
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