Tag Archives: abuse

Learning from Yeardley Love

By Ann Rose Greenberg, JWI Marketing Coordinator

As we near the end of the second week of George Huguely’s trial for the murder of his former girlfriend Yeardley Love, the tragic reality of dating violence is on the national stage, and we are once again reminded of the importance of speaking out.

Story after horrifying story is coming out about the troubling warning signs evident in the UVA students’ relationship. Love’s roommates have testified that she and Huguely had several fights in those final months, and according to prosecutors, Huguely sent Love an email that said “I should have killed you.” People knew about the violence in this relationship, but no one spoke up.

As Janice D’Arcy wrote in her Washington Post parenting column, “In retrospect, it’s incidents like these that make escalating violence seem so obvious. But in real time, it’s hard for teens and young adults to understand what’s happening.” Media and society are desensitizing us to abuse, breeding a culture of silence that enables – sometimes encourages – all kinds of abusive behavior. When teens are lightheartedly tweeting about Chris Brown’s abuse towards Rihanna, how can we expect them to recognize the warning signs in their own relationships or those of their peers?

We need to fight back against our culture that condones abuse, and to do that, we need widespread education. Dating violence happens every day and touches one out of every four girls. We need to teach our teens about the warning signs, and teach them what the healthy relationships they deserve look like. We need to teach them to recognize abuse and speak out when they see it.

The Violence Against Women Act is currently up for reauthorization. This important legislation includes provisions for innovative prevention programs that teach young people, especially teens, about violence and healthy relationships. Please contact your Senators today and urge them to co-sponsor and pass S. 1925. It shouldn’t take a tragedy to inspire violence prevention.

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Speak Up and Support the Violence Against Women Act

VAWAThe Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has transformed our nation’s response to violent crimes against women and girls, providing a safety net of services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Recently, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 – legislation that will reauthorize VAWA’s lifesaving programs and services for another five years.

Despite widespread Congressional support in the past, the reauthorization of VAWA in 2012 is far from assured. Please contact your Senators today to urge them to co-sponsor the Leahy/Crapo VAWA reauthorization bill.

Incidents of violence against women and girls continue to occur at alarming rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 4 women has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner and nearly 1 in 5 women has been raped in her lifetime.

JWI is playing a leading role in the effort to reauthorize VAWA this year. In the coming weeks and months we will continue to work closely with the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, Members of Congress and national advocates, to ensure that this legislation is passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law. But we can’t do this without your help.

Contact your Senators today and tell them to stand against violence by co-sponsoring the Leahy/Crapo VAWA reauthorization bill.

Rihanna’s “Man Down”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Pass it on.

By Alexandra Huss, JWI Intern

In a CNN opinion piece, Leslie Morgan Steiner explains why she believes Rihanna’s video for the song “Man Down” sends a positive and important message. The video begins with Rihanna shooting a man on the street, and ultimately flashes back to show that this was a man who had raped her the previous night. Despite the backlash from those who believe the film was too violent, Steiner goes so far as to thank Rihanna for depicting “the rage and vengeance fantasies that often constitute a normal, healthy reaction to rape and domestic violence.” She also believes the video should become mandatory viewing as part of a real world sexual violence awareness campaign.

There are valid points on both sides of the argument. On the one hand, Rihanna’s bold act glorifies the shooting of her attacker, and conveys the message that violence breeds violence, a vicious cycle that domestic violence awareness hopes to end, not perpetuate. Perhaps a scene of Rihanna ultimately coping in a more constructive and realistic manner, such as seeking support and bringing the man to justice legally, could send a far more positive message.

Yet it is also true that so often, victims feel voiceless and helpless, leading them to fantasize about bringing their attacker to justice on their own terms. It is only natural that these emotions can come from such an intense violation of a woman. As Steiner suggests, perhaps what offends and disturbs some viewers is not the death of the rapist, but the portrayal of a victim with regained her inner strength, fighting back.

Rihanna is an artist who has also become a representative for domestic abuse victims because of her own experience. She is a signal of strength, and thus her messages have very far reaching consequences and reactions.

Hollywood Legend Mickey Rooney Victim of Abuse

Last week, Hollywood Legend Mickey Rooney received a protective order against his stepson and daughter-in-law after experiencing abuse. According to court documents, the 90 year old actor “was a prisoner in his own home” allegedly subjected to verbal abuse, financial exploitation and deprivation of food and medication.

“All I want to do is live a peaceful life, to regain my life and be happy,” Rooney wrote in a statement to his fans. “I pray to God each day to protect us, help us endure, and guide those other senior citizens who are also suffering.”

For the entire article

Increasingly older Americans are targets of abuse. Persons 85 and older are the fastest growing population group in the United States. Although each year the number of reported incidents of abuse in later life grows, approximately 84% of elder abuse incidents are not reported. According to a 2009 report, in 76% of incidents against older Americans, the abuse was committed by a family member.

On March 2 2011 Mickey Rooney will provide testimony on his harrowing experience before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. The Committee will hold a hearing sponsored by Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to address the U.S. response and prevention of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

The hearing is a critical first step to highlight this growing epidemic against an already vulnerable population. To scale up efforts to prevent, prosecute, understand, and mitigate the impact of physical, sexual and psychological abuse of elders increased federal leadership is needed.  The hearing will be held on Wednesday, March 2 at 2 pm AM at the Dirksen Senate Office Building (Room 106).

The hearing is open to the public.

Learn more:

NCALL Abuse in Later Life Fact Sheet

Sexual Violence In Later Life Fact Sheet

 

A member of the JWI family shares her story

JWI is grateful to the member of our staff who bravely and graciously offered to share her story, to help spread awareness during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Background:

I was a straight-A student, an outstanding athlete, a girl from a middle-class Jewish neighborhood in a mid-size Mid-Atlantic city. I had dreams of becoming a doctor – sports medicine – and had gotten in early to my first-choice college. While a shy girl, I had a small, close group of similarly high-achieving girl friends. I came from a perhaps over-bearing but fully supportive family. I had a lot of things going for me and, to the outside world, I did not present the image of a victim. Yet I was one of the one in three adolescent girls in the United States who have faced physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

What Happened:

I was raped by my first boyfriend at seventeen. I didn’t know then that there was a word for it – date rape – and had thought it was my fault. While my parents had warned me to avoid strange men, to carry a key between my knuckles while walking through a parking lot at night, and to always have a phone on hand with 911 on speed dial for emergencies, I had never been warned about dangers closer-to-home. I did not know that most incidences of sexual violence are inflicted by people we know rather than strange men lurking in empty parking lots.

My boyfriend did not have to catch me in an empty parking lot and he didn’t have to hold a knife to my throat. He only had to hold his hand over my neck in a way that impaired my breath just enough to scare me, to put another hand lightly over my mouth to silence me when I said “no,” and to make me feel like I deserved it by saying things like “Why did you ask me to come over, then?” and “Do you honestly expect me to believe I’m your first?” I did not know how to defend myself against this rape-that-I-did-not-know-was-rape. He caught me off-guard at a time when I felt most safe, with my boyfriend in my bedroom at my father’s house.

Since the rape, my self-esteem was shattered. I felt used and dirty and alone. Worse, I was sexually harassed when the news got out at my after-school job where my abuser and I worked together and was propositioned daily by my other co-workers who now thought I was “easy.” Again, I did not know that this behavior was sexual harassment at the time and that it was illegal. I did not learn this until two years later, in a Gender Studies class in college.

Even after I learned about “date rape” and “sexual harassment” and “no means no” in college, I had already learned the lesson that I “deserved abuse.” After all, I could not blame my victimization on a difficult background; I must have let it happen. In college, I spent two years in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with a boyfriend who would push me into walls and sent a male friend to the hospital during one of his jealous rages.

How the Situation Changed and How I Coped:

While in college, I started working at a rape crisis line and became an advocate on campus for students as well as women throughout the surrounding area. I helped set up college staff trainings on domestic violence as well as the school’s Take Back the Night. Through these activities, I learned that many of my peers, girls like me, had experienced similar types of abuse. Now, not only did a have the vocabulary for what happened to me; I also had faces to the name, and that was life-changing. I was no longer alone. I was no longer a freak. And I was no longer deserving. After all, how could I say that it was deserved after I had learned that many of my classmates, some of my closest friends, had been similarly victimized? I would never believe that they deserved it, so how was I any different? And so I stopped blaming myself and started going to counseling and focusing further on my work combating domestic violence as a therapeutic activity. While laying down roots in this feminist community, I gained greater self-esteem and was further reassured that I was not to blame for the abuse but instead should be proud of myself for surviving it.

What I Know Now:

I know that the abuse was not my fault and I know that, while I could not control the situation under the circumstances, girls need to be given more resources that can increase their sense of control. I know that girls need to be taught about teen dating violence from an early age, as early as middle school. Girls should be able to name the abuse as well as to know the warning signs to prevent it. Girls should also be taught about healthy relationships, about the dangers of slut-shaming and bullying, and should be engaged in activities that build their own self-esteem as well as positive relationships with other women. Schools should have support structures for the one in three girls dealing with this type of violence and school personnel should be fully trained to handle it sensitively and effectively. Most importantly, the issue should not be kept silent. Parents should talk to their teens. Youth groups, sports teams, etc. should recognize the problem. Programming on teen dating violence should be a part of standard school curricula. A variety of narratives must be told and it must be emphasized that this epidemic of violence can affect any girl: your daughter, your neighbor, your best friend, or even you.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

It’s official: February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, which urges the entire country to get on board with JWI’s year-round mission to empower girls, raise awareness about abuse and ultimately break the cycle of domestic– and dating – violence.

Here’s a taste of JWI’s goings-on around TDVAM:

  • JWI had a hand in writing the Senate Dating Violence Resolution, S.Res.32, which passed in the last week of January.
  • Our National Alliance will host a special webinar February 3rd: “Teens Trafficked in the U.S.:  How You Can Help.”
  • Two of our Life$avings® Financial Literacy for Young Women workshops will be presented at the University of Georgia the first week of February, presented in partnership with Sigma Delta Tau sorority.
  • We are co-sponsoring a community program in Cleveland, Ohio with the Jewish Family Service Association: If you’re in the area, join us at Expect Respect, Tuesday, February 8th from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. You can register online at www.jfsa-cleveland.org.
  • JWI is speaking out – literally: Deborah Rosenbloom, our director of programs, will be a featured speaker at a Human Rights Watch film festival panel, February 9th at the West End Cinema in Washington, DC. She will be answering questions about IVAWA and the ongoing need to raise the profile of global violence against women girls, following a screening of the new documentary Pushing the Elephant.
  • JWI is co-hosting a Capitol Hill briefing February 10th: Teen Dating Violence Prevention: Why Middle School Matters. Our co-hosts include the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Break the Cycle, MTV, Liz Claiborne, Inc., the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline and several members of Congress.
  • On February 27th, our executive director, Lori Weinstein, will keynote the Sigma Delta Tau leadership conference in Baltimore.
  • Our popular and groundbreaking healthy relationship curriculum, When Push Comes to Shove… It’s No Longer Love!®, is even more widely embraced since our January “push” to get the newly-revised program out to communities nationwide.

So what can you do? Check out JWI’s website for advocacy initiatives and programs on healthy relationships and financial literacy that you can bring to your community. The Liz Claiborne Foundation and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline are both dedicated partners in the mission to end violence; their sites are rich with information and events. And contact us at programming[at]jwi.org to let us know what you’re doing to confront dating abuse in your community!

Share your story to shape the work that’s ending dating violence.

Now that we know February is about more than presidents and valentines, let’s kick off Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month with an honest conversation.

JWI is asking anyone who is a teen, recently was a teen, or works directly with teens for help through this short anonymous survey. The voices of those who have experienced dating abuse – physical, emotional or sexual abuse; first-hand or through a friend – are critical to the national dialogue that’s going on right now.

When Push Comes to Shove...

One of several JWI programs to prevent violence through healthy relationship education

You can pass the survey on through our facebook event or just forward the link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VHVTZNT.

JWI’s violence prevention work depends largely on your feedback. Thanks for sharing!

On The Page, Poet Mourns Daughter’s Murder

Fresh Air from WHYY – originally aired July 29, 2009.


iSlamming Open The Door/i By Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, Alice James Books

SLAMMING OPEN THE DOOR By Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, Alice James Books

Terry Gross interviews poet Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, whose collection of poems, Slamming Open the Door, documents the aftermath of the murder of her daughter Leidy Bonanno.

Leidy was found dead in her apartment in 2003, strangled with a telephone cord by an ex-boyfriend. She had recently graduated from nursing school.

Read the transcript of the interview, and excerpts of Bonanno’s poems, on npr.org.

Fran’s story

Back in 1981 I was a stay-at-home mom (former RN), married to a prominent physician in the community.

I knew my husband was controlling, and did not manage his anger well, because he yelled a lot, and I was not perfect . He made me feel terribly small as a woman, wife and mother, and I thought I was very small and inaffective as a human being., and clung to whatever good I could. He had a few affairs along the way, I went into long-term counseling. He didn’t think he needed it. After being separated for almost 3 years, we got back together, which was a horrendous mistake on my part., as a mother of two children.

It confused our teen-age daughters, caused much instability for them, and after 2 years of being together again, he walked in one day, looked at me with a strange smile on his face, grabbed me by the hair, swung me around the room, pulled my left arm out of joint, smashed my head into the wall, & how I managed to survive all that, is beyond me.
I felt so guilty and was too terrified to tell anyone locally, but my family in Canada knew, and pleaded with me to go to the authorities. I didn’t think anyone would believe me, but my girls had witnessed the damage, and were quite shattered at the time, because after a few such instances, I realized I could die, I told my best friend, and hid at her place while a restraining order was served to him , and I filed for a divorce. the police had to take him off the street several times, because he didn’t want me in “his” home.

My girls actually wanted to stay with him for awhile, because I was almost a basket case by that time, and I let them go. However, they ultimately came home, to me because to punish me, he stopped paying alimoney, money for their dance lessons and school tuition, and left them alone in his place frequently to be with his girlfriends.

They came to their own realizations along the way. I retained my sanity, and eventually he became quite ill and is now in a retirement home. I don’t think his third wife even visits him which is quite sad.

My girls are now grown up and I would say are doing relatively well, he has since sent me a formal letter of apology, and I have come to forgive him , but have not befriended him since. I was left with some permanent damage to the brachial plexus nerves in my left arm and damage to one of my ankles that periodically causes problems for me.

Even though some couples develop later friendships because of the children, I decided my civility towards him and compassion regarding the strokes he has had, has been enough. We no longer have any friendship whatsoever, but one of my daughters calls him periodically just to say hello, and more out of pity for his present state than anything else. My oldest daughter in England is happily married with 2 young boys, but doesn’t communicate with either one of us. Once in awhile her husband and I talk to each other, long distance, and that’s about it. That part of it is a sadness in my heart that I live with.

This is what I have to say to other women.

“Do not think you can stay and change this scenario into something beautiful, by being different. You can alter your behaviour only so far, but this kind of diseased relationship will only open up the wounds and damage you and your children more and more and maybe take your life!

Get out, go forward, better yourself on your own, and don’t ever put your children in the middle of the situation! It is easy to do, when you are afraid, but very tough to undo the damage it causes.

Love yourselves, and don’t look back. Keep good friends and make some new ones that you can rely on, and be active in something creative. Get out of your own negative behaviour problems. You can be healed emotionally and spiritually, eventually.

Fran S.

Father accused of murdering his 15-year-old daughter in ‘honour killing’ told her to ‘kiss her youngest brother goodbye’

by Lucy Ballinger for MailOnline, October 21, 2009

A schoolgirl murdered by her father in an ‘honour killing’ was told to kiss her brother goodbye the day she went missing, a court has heard.

Mehmet Goren, 45, told his daughter Tulay, 15, to let her brother embrace her one last time in an emotional farewell, it is alleged.

Her mother Hanim, 45, said her husband had tied up Tulay with bits cut from a shawl and left her face-down on the floor of her bedroom the night before, the Old Bailey heard.

He and his brothers Ali, 55, and Cuma Goren, 42, are charged with Tulay’s murder, and the attempted murder of her boyfriend Halil Unal, then 30, in 1999.

They were furious the pair planned to marry as he was a Sunni Muslim, while their family were Alevis, the court has heard. The day before Tulay went missing Mrs Goren and her husband visited their daughter at her boyfriend’s home and insisted she come home with them.

Mrs Goren claimed when she returned home from picking up their other young children eight-year-old Tuncay, and Hatice, 13, she found Tulay with her hands and feet bound so tightly they were ‘purple and black’.

Speaking through an interpreter, she said she and Hatice had tried to untie Tulay but she had said: ‘Mum don’t untie me, I want to die.’

She told the court: ‘In the meantime Mehmet had come from downstairs saying, “Don’t touch her… so that she doesn’t run away again, I tied her up”.

Later that night Tulay was seen by Mrs Goren trying to escape from a window. Mehmet is said to have slapped her and then drugged her with a sleeping pill.

The next morning Mehmet told his wife to take their children to his brother Cuma’s house, but leave Tulay. She wept as she told the court he said to her: ‘I am going to stay with Tulay. I am going to make her talk about what her problems are.’

She added: ‘Mehmet said “Come let Tuncay kiss you, Tulay. This will be the last time you see each other.” Mehmet phoned his wife later that day to say the teenager had run away.

The next day when they returned to their family home Mrs Goren said her husband had a ‘deep wound’ on his hand and that his hands were covered with scratches. Two kitchen knives were also missing.

She said: ‘Mehmet’s hands were exactly like as if he had been working in the garden without gloves.’

She also said soil in the back garden had been disturbed.

Mrs Goren claimed her husband told her to disown Tulay.

She said: ‘He said to me “From now on she is gone, I disown her. She is not my child any more. From now on we don’t have four children any more, we will have three children only.”

The prosecution claim Mehmet had buried Tulay’s body in the back garden.

Mehmet Goren, Cuma Goren, and Ali Goren, all of East , deny the murder of Tulay on January 7 1999. They also deny a conspiracy to murder Mr Unal.

The case continues.

Tracy

I was raised in a very secular home.  Though my mother was Jewish by blood, the only real mention of G-d was a family member telling me that G-d punishes the wicked and that bad things happen to bad people.  I tried very hard to be good.

When I was 17, I was in a relationship with a very abusive boyfriend.  It started as jealousy which I viewed as a compliment.  He just wanted to be with me as much as possible.  He loved me so much.  He soon began to control so much of my life that I was unable to discern the “me” from the “us.”  The emotional and verbal abuse became sexual.  He told me he was sorry.  He told me he couldn’t help himself.  He told me I was beautiful.  No one else had ever said that.  Without knowing what was healthy, I stayed.  After all, I had been told that any man is better than no man at all.

Once high school graduation drew near, I began to think of a new beginning, new possibilities, and I broke free.  This is when the physical abuse really began, in private at first, then in public.  I tried to defend myself, and asked about getting a restraining order, but I was told it was better to let it go away.  It got worse.  The defense by others only made the abuse more severe.  I moved hours away for college, but there were letters, phone calls, and a surprise visit.  For years afterward I was stalked. What do you expect, said some, you broke his heart.

Yet, somewhere in my own heart, despite everything done and said to me, I thought that I must have some hidden goodness.  For years I was an atheist, convinced that no G-d would let this happen to me.   Believers all around me, I studied religion.  As much as I could get my hands on, I read, I interviewed, I visited houses of worship, but nothing stuck.

One Friday night, I went to services at a reform temple.  The Torah portion was the Ten Commandments.  The sermon was essentially this:  The rabbi said, well, what can I say about the Ten Commandments that hasn’t already been said?  Of the hundreds of commandments in the bible, all of the “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots,” we break many daily, some even as we meet here tonight.  Look, there are really three you must follow, if you do no others: thou shalt take no other G-d before me; thou shalt not kill; and thou shalt not rape.  These are the things you can never take back, for which complete forgiveness in the traditional sense may perhaps never be given. These are things which can go to the very root of destruction of the soul. Yet G-d is there for us, to help us heal and come out stronger.  I had found the higher power I had sought for years.  In that moment, my life was changed.  In that moment, I became a believer.

Yearly during the High Holy Days, I reflect upon what it means to forgive.  To let go of the pain that I allowed to define who I was, and recognize it as a part of my past that I can use to help others.  To teach my children well.  To advocate for those without a voice.  I know he will never repent, and probably never even see himself for what he is.  Yet I no longer let him have the power to define who I am by what I have endured.  The Jewish people are strong and resilient believers, and this is where I belong.

elder abuse

A 91-year-old Spokane woman died after she was found living in squalor, suffering severe neglect at the hands of her grandson.

A 60-year-old Ottawa County woman spent four months behind bars for abusing her elderly father.

Nearly five million cases of elder abuse occur each year, but 85% go unreported.

The typical victim of elder abuse is a woman over 75 who lives alone.

Some 14,000 allegations of abuse, neglect or gross negligence are reported in nursing homes.

Close to 50% of those with dementia experience some form of abuse.

Eggshells and Tightropes

I.

eggshells are fragile
they easily break
you walk on them carefully,
for safety’s sake.

And yet with each step
you surely know
as eggshells come
and eggshells go

that break they will
with a crunch and crackle
and then you will feel
the collar and shackle.

II.

A tightrope,
that’s different
that you can master
and walk it quite nimbly;
avoiding disaster.

A tightrope is narrow
so do watch your step;
and maintain your balance
become quite adept
at reading the signals

that shape your demeanor
so the tightrope will give you
that slack that you need
to stay on the precariously,
watching the lead.

III.

Eggshells are fragile,
eggshells will break,
and that can be scary
when your life’s at stake.

Tightropes feel safer
you feel that if only
you try really hard,
you’ll do it with ease
and reap your reward.

When the tightrope wiggles
and your balance will waver
you know it’s a signal
that you’re losing favor.

IV.

You need to continue
to pay close attention
always be pleasing,
avoiding dissension

Come on,
you can do this;
you’ve done it for years,
and learned how to handle
your hopes and your fears.

You can stay
on the tightrope,
your life is at stake.
Below you lie eggshells
that crunch when they break.

Liz Lippa

Heather Thompson

From a June 2009 Today show report:

When Heather Thompson learned her ex-husband was about to be released from prison some 15 years after he beat her to within an inch of her life — the prison from which he had written her a letter in which he vowed to finish the job when he was paroled — she faced an agonizing decision: whether to uproot her family out of fear, or stare mortal danger in the eye.

The letter Thomas H Price, Jr. mailed to Heather Thompson from prison in late 1995.

The letter Thomas H Price, Jr. mailed to Heather Thompson from prison in late 1995.

Deborah’s story: “Truth Heals”

When I started my journey of healing, one of my strongest memories was the voice of my inner child screaming, “Please don’t hurt me, Daddy!” Oh, he didn’t beat me. Instead, his violence took the form of molesting me, starting at the age of two, raping me at the age of nine and continuing to do so until I was thirteen and graduating from elementary school.

It was painful physically, especially when he used foreign objects, but the scars to my psyche were far worse than the ones to my body. Like all other victims of abuse, my sense of self disappeared, or never really had a chance to form. Even after the abuse had stopped, daddy was the person I most wanted to please. I became a lawyer, just like daddy. I joined him as a partner in his law firm. I was his friend and companion. It was all about daddy.

And who was I? I was a mess. In trying to cover up the lie of my life, I became addicted to booze and Valium as a teen and young adult. I slept around, waking in strange beds after alcoholic blackouts. I was sick a lot. And then, in my mid-twenties, I got cancer.

Cancer was a wake-up call of gigantic proportions. Soon I was in AA, giving up alcohol and pills in one fell swoop—forever, one day at a time. Because I didn’t want invasive surgery, I started to seek out alternative health practitioners and healers. I did everything I could to bring all the hidden and repressed painful emotional experiences of my life into the light of a new day.

Truth Heals (3_12)I journaled like crazy, allowing my emotions to run rampant on the page. I had a lot of therapy. And most importantly, I learned how to meditate and how to access the space of peace and clarity deep within me. Ultimately, I had a remission from the cancer and became a student and later a teacher of alternative medicine myself. Today, I’m an abuse and addiction expert, and have written a book, Truth Heals: What You Hide Can Hurt You, which tells parts of my story along with a process for connecting our emotions to what’s happening to us physically.

When Mackenzie Phillips told her incest story on Oprah, it reminded me of the time when my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given six months to live, he wanted to go to Rome. Good Catholic that he was, he wanted to see the Vatican and St. Peter’s. My mother suggested I take him there. After all, wasn’t it my job to keep daddy happy? Needless to say, that was never going to happen. Instead, the whole family went. Even though my father was quite ill, I still locked the door to my single hotel room each night during the trip.

Incest and sexual abuse are just as violent as physical battering, as demeaning as verbal abuse. It makes the victim feel shameful, guilty, and “dirty.” It takes a lot of courage to speak out, so I’m very proud of and grateful to all of the survivors of domestic violence who are now telling their stories.  Someday, hopefully, no child will be screaming, “Daddy, please don’t hurt me.”

See Deborah’s comprehensive list of DV resources on Twitter.