Why Some Women Stay

This is a powerful perspective on why some women stay, at least for a while, with a verbal abuser. Of course, there are other reasons; most commonly, it is to protect the children from being alone with a rager. The story that follows adds so much to understanding the fear people feel in the presence of irrational behavior, i.e., verbal abuse.

A beautiful young woman, not yet 30 called me crying from fear. “Does being so afraid to leave prove that I am really, really abused,” she asked.

She was braving the freezing winter winds and eminent snow to get away while her abusive husband was not around. This was her window of opportunity. After talking with her a few minutes, I realized the verbal abuseshe endured was truly horrific. To just call it extreme would be downplaying her experience. In those few minutes, I also realized how very smart, articulate and amazing she was. I asked her, “Would you some day, send me a note about what you just told me? I know it will help others to understand the fear the craziness generates.

In the middle of the night, safely ensconced in a cozy and secret place, she sent me the following email, to help others.

“For those who compare living with a verbal abuser to being a Prisoner of War, I can tell you that it’s not even close. Being a Prisoner of War is actually easier. At least, when you are a Prisoner of War, you are taken against your will. You KNOW that you are living with the enemy. You KNOW that they are lying to you. You KNOW that they are feeding you propaganda, and you can mentally fight it. Verbal abusers are far more sinister because they befriend you, win your heart, and gain your trust. I have never been a P.O.W., but I have been to war. I have fallen asleep to the sound of machine gun fire each night. I have worked in buildings peppered with holes from mortar rounds. I have walked through mine fields. I have been trained to keep my wits during terrorist attacks. But, leaving the man, that I believed was my soul-mate, is BY FAR the scariest thing that I have ever done! –Veteran, US Air Force

Yes, she had been in the Air Force, had slept under fire, and she is quite brave. I’ll always remember that everyone has his or her own time to stay or go. Sharing this message is one way to promote understanding throughout the world.

Taken from a newsletter done by Patricia Evans, www.verbalabuse.com.

Child's Safety Plan

(Taken from UDVC Live Basic DV Training, Family Dynamics)

When people are fighting remember to be SAFE:

  1. Stay out of the fight
  2. Ask for help
  3. Find an adult who will help you
  4. Everyone knows it is not your fault

What can I do to be safe?

Where can I go to be safe?

These are the safe exits from my house:

Who are my safe people I can talk to about my problem?

Practice calling 911 . . .

My name is ________________.

I am ____ years old.

I need help. Someone is hurting my mom.

I live at __________________________.

The phone number here is __________________.

Other Thoughts

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

“The key to change . . . is to let go of fear.” –Rosanne Cash

“Let go of changing others; you can only change yourself.” –Dr. John Lund

“Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past, what to enjoy in the present, and what to  plan for in the future.” –Arnold Glasgow

“God loves you where you are.” –Shawna Draper

“What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”

–“Blessings” by Laura Story. To listen to this beautiful song, click here.

“Research has found that satisfying relationships are characterized by a simple formula: two people mutually meeting each other’s needs.” ― John Van Epp, How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind

There are good things to come.

Everyone is worthy of love.

“We have power to choose our thoughts, our attitudes and essentially, our happiness.” –Diane Peterson

Domestic Violence Stats

An act of domestic violence occurs every 12 seconds in the United States.
About 50% of all couples experience at least one violent incident; in about 25% of these couples, violence is a common occurrence.
35% of women who visit hospital emergency rooms are there for symptoms of abuse; only 5% of these women are identified as victims of domestic abuse.
15% – 25% of all battered women are pregnant.
One in ten Utah residents have been a victim of domestic violence.
In the year 2001, Utah had 17 deaths as a result of domestic violence.
In the year 2002, Utah had 10 deaths as a result of domestic violence.In the year 2003, Utah had 14 deaths as a result of domestic violence. Two of those deaths were children.More than 5 million women are battered annually causing:
54,000 deaths
21,000 hospitalizations
28,700 emergency room visits
$44,000,000 in medical costs
Taken from www.orem.org September 2007.

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.

Child Abuse Stats

There are nearly 3 million reports of child abuse made annually.

In 2003, there were 906,000 child abuse convictions.

The rate of child abuse is estimated to be 3 times greater than is reported.

The rate of victimization is 12.3 children per 1,000 children.

Children ages 0-3 are the most likely to experience abuse. They are victimized at a rate of 16.4 per 1,000.

79% of the children killed are younger than 4.

These statistics are from the Administration for Children & Families of the US Department of Health & Human Services “Child Maltreatment Report 2003.”

Sexual Abuse Stats

“In a study of female adolescent sex offenders, ages 10 to 18 years, approximately 70% of their sexual offenses took place while they were baby-sitting. The average age of the victims was 5.2 years.” (Miss America By Day, pg. 427)

“An adolescent who wishes to engage in sexual experimentation may assume that fondling an infant will do no harm because the infant will not remember what has happened. This is not true. Infants can be traumatized, and they will manifest this through observable changes in their behaviors. Listlessness, prolonged crying, inability to be soothed, a refusal to drink or eat, and a lack of eye contact are classic symptoms of infant trauma.” (Miss America By Day, pg. 427)

“Research educates us that one out of three to four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually violated before the age of eighteen and that the highest percentage, by far, are violated in their homes.” (Miss America By Day, pg. 398)

“85% of childhood sexual abuse occurs in the home.” (Right to Innocence, pg. 99) “Childhood sexual abuse is an inherited disease. It is passed down from generation to generation.” (Right to Innocence, pg. 103)”The estimates are that incest between siblings may be five times more common than paternal incest.” (Miss America By Day, pg. 399)

“At what age do you believe most offenders sexually abuse? When they are 40 years old? 25 years old? The answer is 14 years old. 14-year-olds comprise the largest number of sex offenders of any age group. The modal (most commonly reported) age of the violator was 14 years.”  (Miss America By Day, pg. 399)

“The most frequently reported age when the abuse began was five years old.”  (Miss America By Day, pg. 399)

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Physical Child Abuse:

Bite marks, cuts, bruises, welts in the shape of an object, resistance to going home, fear of adults, defense wounds, apathy, depression, difficulty concentrating.

Some Signs of Neglect:

Wearing clothing unsuited to weather, being dirty or unbathed, extreme hunger, apparent lack of supervision.

Signs and Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse:

· Adults who spend unusual amounts of time with your child. Eighty percent of all suspects are known to the victim (i.e. family member, neighbor, friend)
· Withdrawal
· Rashes or itching in genital areas
· Acting out, runaway, aggressive behavior
· Fearful of certain places, things, or people
· Sudden acquisition of money, new clothes, or gifts with no reasonable explanation
· Interest and/or knowledge of sexual acts and language inappropriate to the child’s age
· Clinical depression, apathy
· Frequent urinary infections
· Wetting or soiling pants or bed
· Sleeping problems such as nightmares
· Unexplained stomach aches, headaches
· School problems, frequent absences, sudden drop in school performance
· Diagnosis of genital warts
· Exceptional secrecy
· Shy or uneasy with opposite sex
· Fear of bathroom or shower
· Attempts at touching adults’, children’s, or animals’ genitals
· Reluctance to undress
· Avoidance of touch
· Violence or aggression against younger children
· Compulsive, indiscreet masturbation
· Suicide attempt or self-mutilation
· Dresses self with more layers of clothing than weather dictates
· Combination of violence and sexuality in art work, written work, language or play
· Crying without provocation
(Taken from the Utah County Crimes Task Force)

Some long-term symptoms and warning signs of possible sexual abuse:

· Feeling that you are in the way.
· A tendency to over apologize and be overly solicitous to the point of making others angry.
· Feeling that you are stupid, a failure, a loser.
· Guilt feelings and feelings of shame.
· Tendency to blame yourself for whatever goes wrong.
· Inability to complete tasks.
· A tendency to sabotage success. (Victims often do not believe they deserve good things.)
· Tendency to be victimized by others.
· Feelings of helplessness.
· Difficulty trusting others.
· Being distant, aloof.
· Tendency to be involved with destructive people who abuse you physically, verbally, emotionally, or sexually.
· Lack of empathy or concern for others.
· A deep sense of isolation.
· Difficulty with physical affection.
· Secrecy, evasiveness, and tendency to withhold information from others.
· A tendency to “give yourself away,” including helping others so much that you become exhausted.
· Difficulties with authority figures.
· Difficulty communicating desires, thoughts, and feelings to others.
· Difficulty receiving from others.
· Intense anger and rage that sometimes burst our unexpectedly.
· Mood swings, ranging from deep depression to an overactive, manic state.
· Chronic depression, resulting in sleeping too much and feeling apathetic, lethargic, hopeless, and even suicidal.
· Dissociation, “splitting off” from oneself that probably started as a protection from the pain and devastation of the sexual abuse.
· Extreme fears or phobias.
· Sleep disturbances.
· Addiction to food, alcohol, or drugs.
· Obsessive/compulsive behavior.
· Eating disorders.
· Flashbacks, hallucinations.
· Abusive behavior.
· Self-destructive behavior.
· Somatic symptoms.
· Tendency to be accident-prone.

(Taken from The Right to Innocence: Healing the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Beverly Engel, M.F.C.C., pages 25-32.)

*Keep in mind that most victims do not suffer from all of these symptoms. Also, suffering from one or a few of these symptoms does not mean that you have been a victim of sexual abuse, but it may be something for you to consider.

Journaling Quotes

“No one is commonplace, and I doubt if you can ever read a biography from which you can not learn something from the difficulties overcome and the struggles made to succeed. These are the measuring rods for the progress of humanity.”  -Pres. Spencer W. Kimball

“But I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations.”  -Pres. Spencer W. Kimball

“Thoughts are created in the act of writing.  It is a myth that you must have something to say in order to write.  Reality: You often need to write in order to have anything to say.  Thought comes with writing, and writing may never come if it is postponed until we are satisfied that we have something to say. The assertion of write first, see what you had to say later applies to all manifestations of written language, to letters, as well as to diaries and journals.”  -Frank Smith

On Saturday, 20 June 1942,  Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who eventually died in the Holocaust, wrote the following in her personal journal: “I haven’t written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary. It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I- nor for that matter anyone else- will be interested in the unbosoming of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.  Still, what does that matter?  I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.”  -Anne Frank

“My journal took on a whole new role.  Sometimes it was my best friend or trusted confidant.  Sometimes it was a good place to sort out my feelings and remember friendships and experiences. Sometimes it was a goal-setting instrument or just a convenient place for creative expression.  Sometimes it became my psychologist or a means of solving my problems.  -Janene Woolsey Baadsgaard

“The act of writing in a journal can help a person deal with emotional pressures.  Some people who don’t intend to keep journals–and some who don’t even want to–find themselves writing as they try to cope with difficulties.  Christian theologian C.S. Lewis didn’t even approve of the journal he spontaneously kept following the death of his wife, Helen Joy Lewis. But those notebooks became his emotional salvation as he recorded his struggles with grief. (Published first under a pseudonym and then under his own name, the journals were entitled A Grief Observed.)”  -Janet Brigham

“You start communicating in your journal and then you are on your way to communicating with other people.”  -Janet Brigham

A women pen-named Martha Martin who was isolated by an avalanche in Alaska undated journal entry from the 1920’s: “I can hardly write, but I must.  For two reasons.  First I am afraid I may never live to tell my story, and second, I must do something to keep my sanity.”  -From talk by Janet Brigham

Sophie Tolstoy, wife of Russian author Leo Tolstoy, journal entry of 35 Feb. 1865: “I am so often left alone with my thoughts that the desire to write my diary is quite natural.  I sometimes feel depressed, but now it seems wonderful to be able to think everything over for myself, without having to say anything about it to other people.  -From talk by Janet Brigham

“By recording our impressions and feelings in a journal, we come to better understand ourselves and recognize the responsibility we must take for our actions. We begin to see the whole situation more clearly–and receive insight into how to solve our problems. A journal can help us see our choices and alternatives more clearly.”

“Our worries can become less worrisome and our fears less fearful when we write them down. Explaining our thoughts and feelings on paper can help relieve us of the turmoil and distress we might have felt. Expressing private feelings on paper can help to heal private hurts.” -Gawain and Gayle J. Wells

“Keeping a journal will change your life in ways that you’d never imagine.”  -Oprah Winfrey

“Confessional writing has been around at least since the Renaissance, but new research suggests that it’s far more therapeutic than anyone ever knew: Researchers found direct physiological evidence (that writing about your feelings and experiences is good for your physical health): writing increased the level of disease-fighting lymphocytes circulating in the bloodstream.”  –Newsweek April 1999

“The most important thing about journaling is that it must be confidential.  If it is not, then it won’t work.  Worrying about what someone thinks or will say about one’s journal entries defeats the whole purpose of emotional honesty with oneself.  Journaling for mental or physical health is nothing to be trifled with. It is a powerful tool and can unearth lots of emotions.”  -Dr. Lucia Capacchione