Posts Tagged ‘abuse’


As we approached fifteen years of marriage,  he got meaner and meaner; he grew more and more critical of me.  He made me feel like there was something wrong with me; like I was “less than.”

When we took the kids out to eat, he would wait for me to order, he wouldn’t say anything until the food arrived.  Just as I put the fork to my mouth he would say it. “Should you really be eating that? Do you know how many calories are in that?”

Every time, and yet I didn’t expect it. When those words came out it was crushing. I would fight the tears and nibble on my salad,  not touching the rest of it. 

I thought there was something wrong with me.  It wasn’t until much later that I realized it was him,  not me.

This is in response to a prompt on The Daily Post, to use the word “fork” for a post.

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Zilch. Zero. Nada.

Every year, between 133 million and 275 million children witness domestic violence in their home. What should this number be? Zilch.

In the United States, EACH DAY four children die as a result of child abuse or child neglect. How many children should die because of this? Zilch.

In the United States, four women per day are killed by someone who is supposed to love them and honor them. How many of these women should be killed? Zilch.

In the United States, 78% of the child fatalities due to child abuse and/or neglect are are a direct result of the parents. What should this number be? Zilch.

The statistics go on and on and on.

What can YOU do? Listen and watch for opportunities to make a difference in your community. Is there an election involving domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, or any other kind of abuse in your area? If so, speak up. Vote. Make a difference. Local communities need to do what they can do to make a difference. They can set up shelters, community centers, and inform the public. You can help make that happen. If you know someone who is being abused, you can help support them through it. You can make a difference in their life. You can help inform them. You can help make an escape plan. You can.

Until the statistics reach “zilch” we have to keep on working toward that number, doing anything we can to help the problem; to help the victims; to make survivors out of victims.

For the rest of the posts in this series, click here.

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What can YOU do to help someone who is abused?

First, remember that YOU don’t have to solve the problem, you just need to provide support.

Statistics tell us that it is VERY likely that you know someone who is abused. It might be your next door neighbor or you sister. It might be you student or your best friend. It might be your teacher or your student.

Know the numbers. Know who that abused person can call.

Be ready to help with child care so the person can seek help. Just know who she can call for child care. Be ready to help.

Let the victim know that you believe them and that you will be ready to keep their information private. Let them know that you care. Let them know you are there to support them  in any way you can.

Ask the person how you can help. You are not there to take over. You are not there to make decisions. You are there to provide support and information. They are the ones to make the decisions. Let them know that you are there for support and to help in any way you can. Let them make the decisions.

If a person chooses to stay in an abusive relationship, be there to support them. Don’t judge them. Just be there for them. It might not be the right time for them to leave. Just be there for them. Let them know you are there for them. Let them know you are a resource for them.

Recognize that they might not ever leave.


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Xenodochial means being friendly with strangers, kind of the opposite of xenophobic. How does that fit in with abuse? Well, that’s one of the traits of an abuser.

An abuser’s traits include:

Charming. An abuser is a charmer, someone who can impress strangers by their politeness, inclusiveness, friendliness. He/she is the last person someone would image would be abusive because he/she is soooo nice and soooo friendly and soooo easy going. To strangers, anyway.

Behind closed doors, an abuser is controlling, irresponsible, irritable, narcissistic, isolating, and impatient. He/she will not allow his/her partner to associate with friends or family because he/she wants to control everything their partner does. He/she thinks the world revolves around him/her and everything is about him/her. Everyone should be doing what the abuser wants them to do.

The abuser often is going from one project to another, seemingly unfocused on any one thing.

An abuser is often alcohol or drug dependent.

The abuser is usually someone with numerous failed relationships. He/she will abuse over and over again. They are often the type of person who will not be able to commit to a relationship, leaving one when things get tough (like a pregnancy, financial problems, the birth of a child, illness, etc.).

An abused adult may be someone that either was abused as a child or lived in an abusive household. He/she has learned to abuse from someone.

They often have a history of abuse related arrests.

They get more and more violent. Shoving becomes punching. Spousal abuse becomes child abuse.

They blame everyone else for their abuse, refusing to take responsibily for their abusive actions.

But to strangers, he/she is friendly, the perfect host, charming, nice, supportive. Xenodochial.

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Although I live in the United States and a lot of what I have posted has to do with the United States, abuse is by no means exclusive to the United States. Abuse is a worldwide problem.

According to the International Center for Assault Prevention (ICAP) approximately forty million children under the age of fifteen are victims of abuse or neglect. Internationally, up to 36% of girls and 29% of boys have suffered child sexual abuse. Between 133 and 275 million children worldwide are estimated to witness domestic violence annually.

According to Living Without Abuse (UK) domestic violence leads to an average of two women being murdered EACH WEEK and thirty men per year. The BBC reports that in the UK, one in ten children is neglected.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, in developed countries, one in ten elder is abused each month. However, only one in twenty-four cases is reported so the estimates are considerably on the low side. In under-developed countries, the problem is far worse.

Pick any country and search for abuse statistics. You will be shocked. It is not an isolated problem. It is a worldwide pandemic.

Something needs to be done.

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Verbal abuse, while being very common, is difficult to spot. Often, a person doesn’t realize that they are being verbally abused. It can be very subtle. It can be passive aggressive comments. It can be constant sarcastic remarks.

  1. Molly and Jess have been married for a number of years. They have two children. He constantly makes comments about her weight. In fact, when she is nursing their first child, he wants her to go on a diet to lose the “baby weight” so she stops nursing to diet. She loses all the weight but he still calls her “fatso,” “chubs,” “baby whale,” and other names. When they go out to dinner, he waits until the food comes and she has the first bite on her fork ready to go in her mouth then he says “Are you sure you should be eating that?” Every single time. When they’re out in public, he won’t walk near her. He walks in front of her or behind her. When he sees someone who is very obese, he tells her that’s what she looks like, even though she is only five or six pounds overweight. He tells their kids to look at their fat mom. He tells her she has no will power and won’t ever lose the weight.
  2. Sharon and Bob have been in a relationship for six years. He constantly calls her “stupid” and “dumb” and “idiot.” Anything he sees as a mistake he blames on her and says it’s because she’s stupid. He laughs at her and jokes in front of their friends that she was too stupid to get in line when brains were handed out. He stalls when the subject of marriage comes up and tells her he’ll marry her when she loses her “stupidness.”
  3. Barbara and Henry have two pre-teen children. He verbally abuses her constantly. She puts up with it because of the kids. She doesn’t want to uproot them or make life difficult for them. So she stays. Recently, Henry has begun to call their 12 year old daughter “stupid.” He tells her she’s gaining weight and is going to be a “fat stupid pig” like her mother. He tells her she can’t do anything right and maybe if she weren’t so stupid she could figure out how to do things right. He calls her a “fat slob.”
  4. Tim is fifteen years old. His father is constantly criticizing everything he does. His school grades are not good enough. He doesn’t do his chores right. He’s too slow getting ready for school. He is not responsible. He can’t be trusted. He’s too dumb to be sent on errands. When he is sent on errands, his dad always finds something wrong with the results.

Why is verbal abuse so bad? It’s not just words. It is a constant undermining. It is a constant barrage of criticism. It is meant to make the person feel inferior to the one abusing. It causes low self-esteem. The person being verbally abused begins to believe the abusive words. They stop trying because they feel they won’t ever “get it right.”

Verbal abuse is often more destructive than physical abuse and always harder to spot.


For more posts on Abuse, click here.

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The other day I told you about Gloria (not her real name). Today I was going to write something entirely different but last night something happened that brings me to an update. A hopeful one.

Last night Sam hit her again. He had been drinking since the night before and all day yesterday. He blew up and started throwing things at her and yelling at her. He beat her with a shoe because he was “not going to lay a finger on her.” She took the boys into the bedroom and locked the door. He broke the door down. Apparently, the boys were screaming at him to stop and were very upset. The police were called and he was arrested but because he didn’t hit her with his fists, the arrest was for a misdemeanor harassment charge. He was to be booked and released as soon as he was sober. She called me and I spent the night with them in case he came back that during the night.

Today she is bruised and sore all over her back with shoe marks all over. The boys are still talking about it, even the three year old. She says she won’t allow him back in again. The kids were there and upset. The first thing one of the boys said to me last night was “Daddy is never coming back home again. He hurt Mommy and I was yelling at him ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’ and I was crying.” We watched a movie and he kept talking about it during the movie, obviously upset about it. So I am hopeful that she won’t let him back home. He’ll be under a “No Contact” order until he goes to Court. He’s actually on probation from the first charge three years ago so we are hoping they will terminate his probation and make him serve the full jail term. That will keep him locked up for a couple of years. Enough time for them to move on. I know it won’t be easy for them but they will be so much better off without him constantly causing fear in her and the boys.

Join me in crossing my fingers and saying a silent prayer that Gloria sticks to it this time. This has to be the last time.

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How do child molestors get their victims to go along with what is happening? They tell lies. They tell the child what the childl needs to hear. Sometimes they promise them something or buy them something.

Here’s a true story. It might be a downer but it shows a bit how they operate and how molestation can occur with lots of people around.

Marina is four years old and she is one of many children in her family. She is often forgotten because she’s not the one that is clamoring for attention, positive or negative attention. She’s just there, doing what she’s supposed to be doing, being a kid. One day her grandparents come to visit them. They travel by Greyhound across several states and Marina is really happy to have them come to visit. Her family doesn’t have anyone else around. All the uncles, aunts, and cousins live several states away so having Gramma and Granpa visit is really special. When they get there, Granpa keeps winking at Marina and telling her that she is prettier than her sisters. He has her come over and put her hand in his pocket to pull out a coin. He tells her he’ll give her more money so she can buy a doll.

He does that several times a day. Gives her money. Compliments her. Tells her she’s his favorite and tells her she’s the prettiest. One night, the whole family is watching home movies in the living room. The lights are turned off and there’s no place for Marina to sit because her siblings are fighting with her and they won’t let her sit next to them on the floor. Granpa says she can sit on his lap and pulls her toward him. She sits on his lap as the movies play on the TV and as everyone talks and her dad tells what is going on with the movies he took of the family.

Granpa keeps whispering in Marina’s ear. Telling her lies. He pulls her hand and holds it for a few minutes then he puts it in his pocket. She starts to pull her hand out of Granpa’s pocket and he doesn’t let her. He holds it tightly and whispers that she’s his special girl and that he has dollars to give her so she can buy her doll. She settles down and Granpa puts her hand on something inside her pants. It’s hard and kind of like a stick. He pulls her hand up and down the stick and makes her do it…makes her keep rubbing her hand up and down the stick. He whispers for her not to stop and to do it faster. The lights are off and no one can see. She feels funny rubbing on the stick in Granpa’s pocket but there’s no one lookiing and no one to tell because it’s dark and everyone is talking and laughing. Granpa holds her hand tight and guides it up and down, faster and faster and she can feel the breath coming from Granpa…harder and harder, more and more breath, the little noises. Finally, he lets her go and says he will be right back and she should go sit on the floor now.

They stay more days and Marina doesn’t feel right. She doesn’t want to get too close to Grandpa. It’s in the summer time and Marina and her brothers and sisters get to play outside in the water. They’re all wearing sunsuits and getting wet. When Marina’s straps get untied, Granpa is watching and says she should come to him so he can tie the straps. She does and he stands in front of her with his back to everyone else and he takes her straps to tie them but before he ties them he smiles at her and puts his fingers on her chest and pinches. He smiles and pinches some more and then he rubs her chest on the brown spots and pinches again before he ties her straps. No one sees. Marina wants to cry but Granpa says don’t cry. You’re my favorite girl. Tomorrow we can go buy a doll. Don’t cry. Shhh. Shhh. It’s okay. It’s our secret. Shhh. Shhh.

For more poss on Abuse, click here.


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Survivor or victim?

Words are important.

When a person is abused and victimized, their life is shattered. There are lifelong effects of the abuse. The person can remain a victim in their eyes and in the eyes of others, always feeling “less than” because of the actions of another.


They can survive the abuse. Surviving involves moving past the abuse and living a full life in spite of it. Surviving means being the person you were meant to be before the abuse; in fact, being a better person because of it. Surviving means taking your past and incorporating it into your life to become stronger and, often, to help others get past the victim stage and to the survival stage.

I guess that makes me a survivor. I wasn’t always comfortable with that title but now I am. I’ve picked up the pieces. I’ve learned more about abuse. I am trying to help others become aware of abuse. I’m trying to help others that have been in my position.

It’s a tough thing to write about. You have to experience it to understand but if that means you have to be abused, then I would rather you did not understand because I don’t wish abuse, of any sort, on anyone.

For more posts on abuse, click here.

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Penn State coach Joe Paterno wrote: “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

Why don’t people report abuse when they witness it or are pretty sure it is happening? Why do they remain silent?

I’ve written about abuse in my family as a child in a couple of posts in this series on Abuse. Today, I will share another and I do it not to highlight the abuse but to show how people didn’t say anything when they saw it. They let it happen and let it continue happening.

My dad was very strict with us. When we did something he felt was not right, he didn’t talk to us about it and tell us why we shouldn’t do it. He just hit us; beat us. Things were far worse for my brothers. They were older and they were always beaten, with us girls, my mom often kept our “sins” quiet and didn’t tell him about it.

When my brothers were in high school, one of them was called into the boys’ dean’s office. He was sent in there for fighting with another student. My brother was a freshman, so about 15 years old. The dean suspended my brother from school for a week but he also called my father and said my brother had to be picked up and couldn’t leave until the dean had a conference with my father. BIG MISTAKE. My father arrived at the school angry and embarrassed by my brother’s behavior that required his appearance. My father was sent into the dean’s office with my brother and my brother’s counselor was also called in. They told my dad what my brother had done and waited to see what my father would say to my brother. Well, within seconds my dad started beating my brother right there in front of the dean and the counselor. He punched my brother in the stomach and in the face. He kicked my brother until my brother fell on the floor then he kicked him some more. While this was happening, the adult administrators yelled at my dad to stop and more administrators were called in to “help stop” my father. No one tried to restrain my father. They just verbally asked him to stop. My father didn’t stop. When my brother tried to get up off the floor, my dad kept hitting him. He didn’t stop until he got tired out. He then grabbed my brother off the floor and started dragging him out of the office and down the hall. My brother could barely walk. As they walked down the hall, my dad loudly told my brother something along the lines of “wait til we get home then I’ll show you what will happen if I am ever called to school again.”

The administrators and the secretarial staff all watched and listened. No one said a word. No one called the police. No one reported what had happened. They were, in effect, silent accomplices to my dad’s actions and so the abuse continued at home. If that one time someone had called the local child protective services or the police, maybe something would have been done and the beatings would have stopped. We don’t know what would have happened because no one did anything about it.  They were all adults. They all had the ability, power, and responsibility to to make that call but they didn’t.

Why? I don’t know but statistics and studies tell us that people often don’t report the abuse they witness because they are afraid to get involved in the system which might require them to appear in legal proceedings. Some are afraid of retaliation. So they remain silent as it happens and as it is repeated.

Ask yourself: Would YOU say something? Would YOU do anything? Would YOU report it?

My personal answer is YES. I hope yours is, too!

For more articles in this Abuse series, click here.

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