Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My World Today

 Depending on one's background, family belief systems, spiritual influence, religious mandates, all will help to form our opinions on and about the world we live in and share with others. I was raised in a middle class home with my father, mother and two siblings. Our father passed when I was fifteen and in all that time I don't remember any conversation for or against the LGBTQ community or lifestyle. I did have a couple male cousins who, as I was to find out later, were gay. Again my immediate family made no change in how these men were treated or spoken to or about.  Then at a family reunion one year two bothers started speaking to each other and the longer they talked the louder they became until both were screaming at the other. This would be my first introduction to the idea "there may be something wrong about that life style", even though at the time I still wasn't sure just what "that life-style" meant.

This was over fifty years ago. Fifty years ago and we are still fighting over who can love whom, who have rights to live the way they want and who doesn't, who can have a family with two adults and children, and who can't or shouldn't based on their sexual orientation. I am an adult now and see the world through totally different lenses. I know and love several LGBTQ people. I attend church with them, celebrations of life, parties, theater, lunches and dinners with them. At the end of the day it is none of my business what two consenting adults do. Not everyone holds this belief. Many still want to tell others how to live and who to love and use the Bible and their personal interpretation of "the word" to shame and belittle them to prove this point.

Since this last election day, much has been said on this and other topics about religion, sexuality, national origin and what rules apply and whom they apply to. It seems if I have a famous name, live in a mansion, work at a top level position or born into privilege the rules don't apply to me. The rules are only for those of us who apparently are unable to think for ourselves in these matters. What has begun to be concerning to me is how narrow the approval list is becoming. Many social media sites are filled with so many misinformed and untrue stories. We continue passing these pieces along without taking the time to verify the substance or the validity of what we are reading.

We are now living in one of those places in time that we have a stand to take on so many issues least we  find ourselves repeating the not so distant past. This election has left many of us feeling blindsided by the outcome, still reeling from the news, while attempting to find our center again. We are worried and even scared about what is ahead of us. We are concerned too of how many of our friends lives, and our own lives for the matter, are in the path of those who would do harm to someone based on their heritage or sexual orientation. We can not desert these causes and the people we care about. More than ever we need to speak out when we hear predigest rhetoric, homophobic slurs, see racial profiling. Being that voice which stands for all people of all countries and nations.

It has also been brought to my attention people I though were of true liberal mind, are actually very conservative and do not agree with my own belief system. This is one of the most disappointing realities to come to terms with.  There are people I love and care about, and will continue to care about though I now know this fact about them.  This is where my integrity is tested, loving those around me though they do not see my world the way I see it.

One of the biggest lessons in life is how to agree to disagree and maintain everyone's dignity through it all.  At the end of the day who is it I want around me, who is it I want to share my time and love with? These are the important questions for us all. How do I support you without betraying myself? So I shall act to the conscience within me and allow you to do the same.  I shall, to the best of my ability, share a space that has been altered from its former self. I invite you to take stock, decide your own priorities and choose what your future holds.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with many blessings and much love.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Domestic Violence Information Links and Assisants

Many events are planned and held in October around domestic violence.  We attempt to educate the public, find more answers for ourselves when working with victims and abusive people. How do we help put an end to domestic violence? While we have made progress, we are still on a long road to the eradication of violence in our homes. We must first understand the mean of the words

Domestic Violence, even the words don't go together. The dictionary defines to domesticate:
(of an animal) tame and kept as a pet or on a farm: domesticated dogs;
(of a plant) cultivate for food, naturalized, domesticated crops; and the third listed is noted as (humorous - especially of a man) fond of home life and housework, he is thoroughly domesticated.

If this is this is the way we look at this one word how do we begin to change the actions wrapped around, in and through lives where domestic violence exists?  This definition fits with the long and deeply held belief that a woman's place is at home. I remember being a young girl playing house thinking about when I would one day be a woman and have my own husband, home and family. How wonderful it was all going to be. My parents had a good marriage, and they were kind caring people. Imagine my shock when I found out not all marriages were like that. From this experience I would later in life work to end domestic violence, by assisting victims and working with abusive people to change their thinking and thereby change their behavior.

When we see violence it imprints our brain this is becoming evermore understanding as brain mapping and study of homes where there is violence are observed.  The stories shared by people who experience domestic violence can be found anywhere, any time of day or night in every sociological setting. Domestic violence know no boundaries in race, creed, religion, color, sexual orientation or economic standing. I invite you to learn about domestic violence, what it is and isn't. How to identify it, what to do if experiencing it for yourself or someone you know. There are many programs in each state that provide services for both victim and abuser.  In Indiana, Nonviolent Alternatives provides program designed to identify abusive behavior and correct it so people may live happier more fulfilling lives.  Many programs across the state provide victim assistance, I suggest Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence if you are seeking victim assistance.

As we study more and learn more it has been found the brain of children witnessing violence become "marked" with affects of the violence they hear and see.  Learning how our brain is effected with help us to deal with the problems of children living in homes where domestic violence is happening Brain changes due to domestic violence. How do we stop domestic violence, by protecting our children from it and providing them with loving caring homes. Domestic violence is a cyclical problem among families whose lives are surrounded and interwoven with domestic violence.

Changing these patterns requires we begin to address the way our society looks at violence in general, how women are treated and mistreated, accepting there is a rape culture alive and mingled in our neighborhoods, our system of education and still in many professions.

Be a part of the change. Don't standby and without speaking up. The future of our children depend on you getting involved, being a leader, a better informed parent and living as an example of a violent free lifestyle.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness Month-Oct 2016

Each year in October the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence holds their annual two-day conference.Officially formed in 1980 and dedicated to ending the devastating conditions that surround abusive relationships. Women and men from all over Indiana gather to learn more about how they can assist victims of domestic violence. It has been my honor to have been a member of the coalition since 2000 as well as a presenter in more than one conference. In 2014 I was honored as the recipient of their award for “Batterers Intervention Professional of the year".

In prior years intervention was the focus sharing experience and creating policies that would eventually form the coalition to its current status. In the beginning, the goal was focused on intervention and assistance to women and children needing to leave and had no idea where to go or what to do to protect themselves from the person who was supposed to love them the most. Eventually, monies became available through federal grants to build shelters and provide a structured and cohesive response to the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  The focus has now shifted to prevention work and how to change the cultural acceptance of violence in our families, homes, schools, and neighborhoods throughout our state which leads me to the here and now.

Giving all the work set forth by so many I find it appalling the (Indiana) Governor (now running as the possible next VP of the nation) can in good conscience support and condone the behavior of his running mate, whose actions are the very definition of intimidation and threats to achieve his goal of control over another person, a woman.  This behavior has been witnessed by anyone who has a television or internet connection. There seems to be no escaping it.  Mike Pence said he didn’t understand why Michelle Obama had so passionately condemned his running mate. This same governor will tell you he doesn't condone the behavior then offer excuses for it stating “the man apologized for his poor choice of words, but they were just words so let’s move on''. Moving on means dismissing the countless number of domestic violence and sexual assault victims everywhere. Moving on says we accept this behavior. Moving on says we are not protecting our future generations. Moving on says we still have much to learn and understand about men and women and the acceptable behavior between them.

As a teenager many years ago, I saw my cousin after her boyfriend beat her, leaving her bleeding and broken in a heap on her front porch. The neighbors called the police who came and told her there was nothing they could do, maybe she needed to stay clear of him for a few days and let him cool down. They hadn’t seen the beating and therefore couldn’t arrest him. I was around thirteen at the time and I can remember thinking, “when I get a boyfriend I won’t choose one that would hit me.”  Why had she been in a relationship like this? So three years later when my boyfriend hit me, I told no one and hid my secret and carried the shame that I too had made such a bad choice in choosing a boyfriend. I must have done something wrong, what did I do to make him so made? These are the same questions victims ask themselves on a daily basis.  Too many times believing if they change some aspect of themselves his behavior will therefore change.

Typical to all domestic violence victims, we blame ourselves hoping that we can just correct that one word that one action that made him act this way. Somehow if we could do just that it will all change, it will somehow magically go away.  I know if I just love him more, not interrupt him, be sure all his needs are met, I know if I can do this it will be different.  But it isn’t different it is the same over and over again. Eventually we become broken and defeated and too tired to fight any longer. People ask “why do you stay with someone who treats you so badly?”  It seems like such a simple question however it has a very complex answer. No one wants to be in a relationship like this but feels trapped by either him or a society that doesn’t get it or both.  I can’t begin to count the number of times I have heard women say, “If a man ever hit me that it would be the last time”. “No one is going to treat me that way and get away with it.”

The ugly truth of it is once we reach the level of being hit, other abusive tactics have beaten us down, weakened our spirit and left us feeling exposed and domed to live this horrible nightmare forever.

Now we have someone running for the highest office in our country and he is displaying the same type of behavior. There are men who run our government siding with him, excusing his actions. Clergy are stepping up to explain away his behavior, he is just using” locker room-man talk and isn’t out of line, but rather a women trying to be better, higher than a man in service is the problem. I heard a preacher speak these words, “man was not made to be directed by a woman, it is an assault to the law of nature and God’s commandments.  There are those who would take away our rights as women to have a say in our own lives, to vote, to make our own decisions about our bodies.

We must be a united front against such atrocities. We must stand shoulder to shoulder and scream it to the highest mountain and the farthest shore, I am a woman, I have rights, and I am an individual with feelings, needs and power of my own. We shall not go backwards it would be akin to a slap in the face to those who came before us. We owe this to our children both girls and boys.  Teach of children to reason, to have opinion without being abusive when sharing that opinion. To think beyond today and to reach for the stars for they are theirs to have.
I will close with this request, after reading this you will make a pledge to yourself and all the children of the world, you will not stand ideally by and do or say nothing about the violence and treatment of women and children. We owe them better than that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Declaring My Peace

The last couple days which have been filled with the election,not really the election, but of the individual rantings of who is the worse of the two people, which one election day will be chosen as our next POTUS. I have watched and listened to the ongoing tirade of each other realizing I have also been a part of this free for all. I found myself last night thinking of the many negative and often cruel posts. This morning as I made my usual peruse of social media I realize I have allowed my thoughts to be guided by others more than by my own convictions and feelings. I allowed past experiences to creep into my here and now, triggering very old and painful memories which were the catalyst to the eventual work I would find myself very dedicated to.  I am appalled by the way women are objectified, belittled and written off as a second class and sometimes not even that, but as belongings and property. I feel I have a responsibility to myself to maintain my own character within my statements and affirming of others. I can and must speak out, but rather than doing so in away that is negative, which is what gets us pulled in, I capable of disagreeing with integrity. I can speak my truth and only my truth, I make a choice to speak a positive truth (I believe she/he is the person for the job based on their attributes and strengths) and not on mud slinging and bashing someone. If I am focused on negative, I bring more negative by participating in it.

So here we are in the mist of it. How do I speak my truth without berating someone else? By stating what I want for myself and the world rather than what I don't want.  Though many believe it is of little use and even futile in practice, I have my own evidence to the contrary how speaking the positive impacts our lives. My spirituality says "thoughts held in mind, produce light kind".  Over and over again I have evidence it is true. Over and over again when I do not stick to my truth, I step into the past with all that it held while I watch the effects of old behavior creeping back to wreck havoc on my present. For nearly two decades I have also worked in the field of domestic violence providing my learning and understanding to others seeking to find a better way. I not only owe it myself to continue to seek truth, I also owe it to those I counsel and future generations. It can most assuredly be a challenging quest but one worth taking.

If I  go about my day blindly, randomly affirming this and denying that, at the end of the day I have to look at myself and ask what is important to me, what is mine to do, what is really at the very center of my conscience?  I have spent much of the last fifty or so years defining and refining my truth, building a good conscience to guide me.  I sit here realizing that once I step over that so very fragile line of conscience I risk loosing myself in the complicit pool of non-direction and confusion.

No matter how many times I denounce another as worse, the outcome of my reality will rest in my actions.  I have a responsibility to apply this learning and these conscience driven guidelines to my decision for the up coming election. While slogans, lies and truth about differences in the two candidates are tossed around, the final decision will be made on election day when each of us step into the voting booth expressing our voice with the vote of own conscience.

To live in peace and harmony, I must first declare it within myself.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Just Makes Me Shake My Head

I received an email today from a family member referring to the Top 10 list of why America looks so stupid. I don't know where this list came from but it looks suspiciously like someone supporting a very far right view point, and the following is their list of what they deemed as stupidity.

Only in America:
  1. could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes, be accused of not paying their "fair-share" by the people who don't pay any income taxes at all.
  2. could you collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more than it has per year for a total spending of seven million per minute and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.
  3. could you have to pass a drug test to get a pay check if you work, yet any crack head can get their welfare check no questions asked.
    1. Drug testing isn't required for all jobs in the United States. Most company require them because they can, not because they are mandated to do so.  There are some jobs like flying an airplane, a school bus driver, trucks on the road and others that are mandated and I for one am very happy they do. If you are complaining about taking a drug test, maybe there is something going on in your own life they might need a closer look.
    2. When testing this theory it becomes too cost prohibitive to do. In cases where this was applied, less than 1% tested were positive for drug use. You, the American public would be paying more for the testing than the assistance the government provides to the people on assistance. Many people who use drugs hold down jobs. Most of those receiving assistance are not drug users.
  4. you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy a alcohol, but do not have to do so when voting.
    1. Here is Indiana's requirements and I for one believe I should be asked to show ID. Indiana requirements
  5. could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be called extremists.
  6. could they make people who want to legally become citizens wait in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, while they discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just "magically" become an American citizen.
    1. How to become a citizen 
  7. could they have terrorist kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.
    1. Non-Muslims Carried Out More than 90% of All Terrorist Attacks in America
  8. could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner (head of the Treasury Dept and Ways and Means Committee) turn out to be a tax cheater who is in favor of higher taxes.
    1. It is unfortunate, every job has it's problem people and when exposed need to be dealt with.
  9. could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black president, attorney general and roughly 20% of the federal workforce is black, while only 14 % of the population is black, 40 (+%) of all federal entitlements goes to black Americans, three times the rate that goes to whites, and five times the rate that goes to Hispanics
    1. Does Discrimination Still Exist, Of Course It Does
  10. could liberal politicians talk about the greed of the rich while charging $35 thousand per plate to attend an Obama campaign fund-raising event.
    1. 2015 Jeb Bush 100K per plate fund raiser

    I won't take the time to address each point, and I know there are those whose minds cannot be changed and are unwilling to listen to any point of view that doesn't reflect their own thinking.
    So here are a few of things I believe:
    I believe black Americans and others (Hispanic, and women) are still being discriminated against, having a black president doesn't mean discrimination doesn't exist it only means there were enough non-biased people willing to elect him and if this is the only proof you have to stand on when discussing discrimination, you still DO NOT understand discrimination. I believe under the constitution we have the right to not stand at the national anthem, there is no law that states I must stand. On any given day watch C-spam or the channel that videos the house and senate and see how many of them do not stand for the pledge. If you look up the complete lyrics to the nation anthem, you will find within it there are words of discrimination and bias. I do not believe we build a strong America by refusing to look at our misguided antiquated ways and blaming all our problems on the African-American or Hispanic population or feminist, these are all a cop out.

    We live in an America where women and children are not safe in their own homes from husbands or boyfriends who profess to ''love" them. We live in an America where rape and dating violence is blamed on the victim and the perpetrator (when white and a star in his collage or from a privileged home) is not held to the same standards of the law as people of color or sexual orientation). A-typical white males are taught the definition of a man is to be tough, get what you want at all cost, don't be some sissy with feelings don't cry in public and don't let anyone think you are weak. We belittle our daughters by telling them they are the reason boys behave badly, and they shouldn't dress like they do or go to the places they go (by the way this is an example of discrimination between genders). Sex is selling everything in commercials from candy to drain-o and we allow it. This double standard between or sons and daughters has been around for a very long time.

    We live in an America where people get fifty years prison sentences for selling or using marijuana while fathers and boy friends rape and/or kill their "loved ones" and get much lesser punishment, the most resent evidence is the collage boy who received 6 month probation after being found guilty of sexual assault on an unconscious woman. During sentencing the judge stating there was no reason to do further damage or do anything which might jeopardize the further of the bright young man. After all he is young and has a life not yet lived. CNN Brock Turner

    People say they are pro-life when what they actually are is anti-abortion. Pro-life would include the care and rearing of the child(ren). This is my body and I am not the property of the state. Women can't be forced to have children then given no means to take care of them. Too many young women find themselves in a position of an unwanted pregnancy and she is the only one forced into the caring of this child. She is asked, "why did you let this happen to you?"  The other half of this equation has no responsibility thrust upon him and goes on living his life and impregnating how many more women? When she asks for help she is told there is no help, get off your lazy ass, stop having kids and get a job. The only job out there is minimum wage and which offers no benefits and less money than is needed to support her child and herself. It is a no win situation and we blame her for all the problems in our society. She has dropped out of school and has no marketable skills.
    We have privatized prisons making them a business that has to make a profit so more and more people are tossed away, but we can't seem to find an affordable education system which provides the means to teach our children so they may become productive adults. We cheer and glorify athletes on Sunday paying outrages ticket prices for the privilege doing so, and build monuments to them and tell our teachers on Monday we are sorry there is just no extra money to teach our children just do the best you can. We teach to pass a test not to live a life. We are cheating our children of a prosperous future.
    I believe we should help the poor. More than 16 million children, or roughly one in five, live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That is higher than any other age group. Among 18- to 64-year-old, the poverty rate was 13.7 percent, while among seniors the rate was 8.7 percent. We cannot hold freedom high and then refuse it to the most needy among us. We have to find a better way if we are to continue to be even a semblance of a free world leader.
    I do believe there needs to be tougher gun laws, no one needs an automatic weapon to go squirrel hunting. We stand back and rage war on other countries for their dismissal of human rights blaming them for all of our problems, yet dismiss the taking of lives of innocent children in our schools, shopping malls, places of worship, and entertainment spots in order to maintain the perceived right to carry a gun that can destroy multiple human lives in seconds, we are truly missing the mark and clearly do not understand the constitution and what the second amendment means.

    There are some real misguided "facts" about immigration. We cannot blame Hispanics and Muslims for our problems, we created problems for ourselves. Building a wall is counter productive to the "freedom" we like to toss out there for all to see. It appears we violate those freedoms and toss "right" to side when it suits us. We have immigration laws in place and when followed they work. There is a process for those wishing to live here legally.  They can be here while waiting out this process. We blame Hispanics for taking our jobs while refusing to do the job. While U.S. manufacturers move jobs outside the U.S. borders.
    As a believer in a higher power I believe what Jesus taught and that was to accept one another, and treat others the way I would want to be treated. To tell the truth and be respectful no matter how disrespectful others may be. It means helping others when I can and doing so without expectation of anything in return. I cannot go to church on Sunday turn my back on others on Monday. I will vote my conscience in November and my vote will be with the person I see more qualified to lead our nation. At the moment we have to adhere to the only laws an means of voting. At some point maybe we need to consider a restructure of that system. A fact we might consider when looking at how hard congress has fought President Obama over the past eight years. He was able to make some changes for the better, but could have made so many more had the Republicans not fought him tooth and nail at every step.
So while you may not agree with anything I believe in, I accept and respect your views while disagreeing with them. May we all find the truth we seek while holding respect for the other.  I can disagree without being a bully or tyrant.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Long Term Effects Of Childhood Abuse

After being a victim of material abuse and working for years in this field I am drawn to books and movies which try to address this subject. Some do it well, while others simply do not come close to understanding the underlying difficulties and traps victims fall into while attempting to live their lives to the best of their abilities.

Last evening I watched a movie “Ultimate Betrayal” (Amazon movie library)based on the lives of four sisters who accuse their father of multiple charges of abuse and sexual assault. The sisters were ultimately awarded $2.3 million in compensation and the case led to a proposal for a Child Abuse Accountability Act to change statute-of-limitations rules.

This is not an easy or lighthearted matter by anyone’s standards and I felt this particular movie attempted to show the viewer how deeply a child is affected by the abuse which flows over into adulthood. In this case the four sisters face their past and take their father to court in a civil suit for damages. This abuse runs deeply into their adult lives and nearly paralyzing one from having any semblance of normalcy. The film touched on the dysfunction of their adult lives and then focused on the story of each daughter’s treatment from their father which led to the problems they are now facing. The two brothers in the family, while agreeing their father was very abusive, refused to accept that their father molested their sisters. The attorney of the daughters has their father to appear for deposition at which time he denies any wrong doing. The father, Edward J. Rodgers Jr., refused to appear in court. He admitted that he thought of himself as a "domineering s.o.b. who demanded strict responses from my children, strict obedience." But it never approached child abuse, Rodgers said. "Did I make mistakes? Damn right I did, just like any other father or mother..." He was a former F.B.I. agent who had become to be a Colorado authority on child abuse. [1]

In 1994 this story was brought to the television viewing audience. The sisters are played by: Sharon (Marlo Thomas), the oldest of the Rodgers sisters, Sharon is in denial about being abused herself. All of the sisters, including Susan (Mel Harris), Beth (Kathryn Dowling) and Mary (Ally Sheedy), have had their adult lives badly damaged by childhood experiences. Exposing the brutal truths may salvage their futures. The movie is very detailed in the description of the abuse and at times is difficult to watch.

By the end I was drained, yet left wanting to know more about this story and the adult lives of these women. My search for more information left me with only reviews of the television program 1994 and a couple newspaper articles at the time of the 1990 trial, which bring me to this writing. The reviews of the film were not favorable. Not because of the acting but because of the subject. One article which is footnoted above was a sarcastic synopsis at best. The writer chose to pass over the actual problem and focus on how the subject had been in the news far too much and that Hollywood used its typical tactics to bolster the drama to make the story bigger than it really was.

Another article stating: The impact is diminished, ironically, by graphic flashbacks using child actors. Too frequent not to seem gratuitous, the scenes contain little that can't be seen in the expressive faces of the adult leads.[2]

As you might have guessed by now, I have a much different view than either of these two writers, one being male and one a woman (which I found interesting in its own light). This case is from 1990 and the press coverage gave little to no understanding of the lives victims of child abuse endure. Far too many of these children never speak out for fear of retaliation from their abusers or the shame they carry thinking somehow what happened to them was in some way their own fault. Many grow up saying to themselves “I will never treat my children they way I was treated”. The sad truth is many victims do go on to produce more victims as this is the method that they were taught as parenting and how to deal with unruly children.

We can change this pattern of abuse. Child abuse is not to be taken lightly. The horrors we are seeing each day in our society have direct correlation to how we are raised and treated as people. There are lessons we are taught on a daily basis about who deserves, and who doesn’t. No one deserves less than another and I for one cannot stand by and say nothing when I see injustice or maltreatment of others.

I know there will be many who will see this as just more words on a page and will go on about their day or find fault in the subject agreeing with the aforementioned writers who felt the subject was sensationalized and over talked about and made bigger than it is. I also know there are more who will read this and find a way to put their own voice to use, to participate in the positive change in our world. Please don’t be someone standing on the sidelines, step up and step out for peace. When we learn peace at home we use peace throughout our daily lives. When we use peace we show others how to make peaceful choices which will ultimately change our world. Nothing happens until one person does something different. What will your difference look light today?


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A New Low in TV Commercials and Women

As a society we are accepting more and more of "anything goes" and justify it as funny, satirical, just a joke....lighten up.

It apparently wasn't enough for women to be sexualized in commercials, the ad agencies have found a new low.  It apparently wasn't enough to show a women at the drive-in practically making love to her sandwich, or sun bathing on a rock with legs agape to eat her fish sandwich, we now can watch men making fun of the most sacred time in any women's life, being pregnant and/or giving birth. And the product they are selling?  Razor blades...

When do we start making agencies accountable for the messages delivered to our homes on a daily basis. Okay it's TV and I can change the channel. Even doing so doesn't change the content.  One answer is to not have a television in my home. Or maybe it is time to say enough is enough. It doesn't seem to be enough that we are bombarded daily with the antics of the a particular Republican Party presidential candidate and his berating of women we additional get to sit back and watch it in social media, television, radio ads, and news commentary. I don't know about you, but for me I want young men and women to respect each other. When one in four women will experience sexual assault in her life time and one in three children will be sexually abused, we have to start sending clear messages that our bodies belong to us, that the female body is not the play ground for males, or the object of their jokes or puns or satire in the name of entertainment. 

(Since the writing of this blog, the two ads I referenced have been removed.) Following are two of the commercials currently being aired.  You choose, but for me I will be writing them and voicing my personal opinion about the distasteful use of women.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


I read a posting today that in a nutshell says we do not have any control over who we love, the statement being “you just fall in love and you get people who are wrong for you.”  Why would I give someone else that much power over me, my life and my feelings? Really being in love requires time and evidence of actions that demonstrate actions of love.  Even though it sounds cliché, love is a verb.

First Corinthians 13:4-7 (English Standard) says: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  The difficulty is how we interrupt its meaning.  Love is all these things when used with integrity.  The difficulty comes when the message is taken out of context and used as a attempt to convince another if they “really love me” they would adhere to all within this passage and not question my actions or words.  When used in this manner the passage becomes abusive in nature, attempting to shame someone into submission to another’s will.

Never let anyone or any momentary feeling about another person convince you that there is no choice as to whom you choose to love and commit to.  I too have fallen more than once into the path of “I can’t help myself; I just love him so much.”  What became true for me was I was in love with the idea of being in love and fulfilling the lesson I had been taught, without a partner I was not a complete person.  OMG…. You mean I am a complete person and I can be that all on my own! 

Choosing is exactly what we get to do!  Even if we are very drawn to someone, we still have the ability and responsibility to choose and choose well. This is not to say that others can’t be very good at hiding who they really are for a very long time.  I need to watch for the little things that are in reality the big things.  We don’t ask enough questions about this new found heart throb, it feels too good and what if we ask the wrong question and they don’t want to see me again?  I don’t mean have a list ready for your first date, but I do mean ask interesting and searching questions.  Have conversations about their childhood, their parents, and friends in school. Listen when they tell you about their past relationships.  How do they speak about their last relationship?  Even if there was abuse in my last relationship, there had to be something that was good something that drew me to this person or I wouldn’t have been in the relationship.  Be mindful we all make mistakes and there is a difference in a mistake and being abusive.  People love to talk about themselves and will tell us plenty if we choose to listen and not get drawn in by all the attractions.  Just like the trailer for a new movie, the promoters know the scenes to show us to get up drawn in and just waiting for the day they movie opens. Then we show up pay for our ticket and settle in to enjoy what we have been waiting for, only to be horribly disappointed when the actual movie doesn’t measure up to the hype. Attraction to people works in much the same way.  We see what the promoter wants us to see.  We buy the ticket, we get involved too deeply, too soon and the cost is far more than a few buckets for the opportunity.  The cost becomes giving up ourselves, for living a live we never wanted.  We keep telling ourselves “I can make it better; I just have to act different, dress different, change my friends, distance myself from my family.  None of which is in line with the real honest love. There are no challenges to love; there are only challenges to behavior and our perception of circumstances in our lives.  The love doesn’t change.  Honest love is always present in our hearts.  I may not like you much today based on my feelings about something that has happened, thoughts by the way which are brought on by my own thinking, but that doesn’t change my love for you.  We all disagree with our partners from time to time and a healthy relationship knows how to settle disagreements without anger or malice.  Love is built over time with the ideals we share that are healthy and beneficial to us both. The attraction we "call love" is more often curiosity and we get so wrapped up in the "feel good" of it all at the moment and we put blinders on so as to not see the truth of the relationship because we want a relationship so badly. We want a relationship so badly because we have been conditioned to believe there must be something wrong with us if we don't have a relationship.   I still believe in love and happily ever after, and I know what my part is in making my personal happiness.  I also know Love does not hurt; Love is pure and does not have the capacity to hurt and that I deserve honest love and do not have to settle for less.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Working with Nonviolent Alternatives has offered the opportunity for me to observe life with a different perspective.  Like AA or NA the program slogan it works if you work it, is also true for changing abusive actions and stopping the violence.  Without this fundamental belief I couldn't be an effective facilitator in a program that encourages attendees to look deeper within themselves, thinking differently about their life and the world around them. Attendees are treated with respect and taught they can and do make a difference in their own life and those of others, either positively or negatively.  When we understand we have a choice in our own life and are not the victim of our surroundings or the belief systems taught within families for generations we become empowered to take a stand and to make a change.  While not everyone will put in the effort to make the changes for themselves "many" in this program do. Here is one of those examples.

Client X, a thirty year old black male enrolled in our program in August 2015.  His history included domestic violence, substance use and multiple arrests.  Client X served three years of a six year sentence for a prior domestic charge. Client X indicated at the enrollment process a past which included guns, fights, intimidation of others to get what he wanted. This client also indicated he would like to turn his life around and was tired of being in trouble and didn't want to go back to jail. Client X was told with an open mind and heart and willingness to do the work to change his life he would get the tools he needed by showing up every week, paying attention and applying what he learned to his life, not just in close relationships with girlfriends etc, but to all facets of his life.

Each week Client X sits in the middle of the class, participates and is able to express what he is taking away from the lesson during the go-around at the end of class.  Last night was no exception. Client X also shared what had happened to him that morning when going to his place of business.

In his words: "I showed up at work and there was these two guys, one with a gun and told me to give him my money. I told him no problem, I will give you what you want I don't want no trouble." At the same time another employee ran across the street and called the police.  The partner of the gun-man yelled, come on the cops are on the way, and they ran off.  "If it wasn't for what I been learning here, I would be doing what I always did, I would'a acted a fool and got right in the middle of it and doing stuff to get me right back in trouble". I gotta tell ya it feels pretty good to be sitting here and knowing I ain't going to jail again." I know I can do better and I want better." 

This blog is written with the permission of Client X.

(Disclaimer: The first responsibility of Nonviolent Alternatives is to the families/victims of the program attendees and in no way should the assumption be made "he is cured".  Each person must make their choice in every situation to choose to act with integrity.

We strongly encourage you to contact the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-322-7385 and get connected to a local advocate to help you develop a safety plan. Please do not accept your partner's reasons/excuses/justifications for their abusive actions.)