DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Kavanaugh attended a Catholic School.

Kavanaugh attended a Catholic school! So? What does that prove? Or even suggest? What came to my mind when I heard Kavanaugh state this, was that there are Catholic Priests who have sexually abused children.

Kavanaugh suggested that we listen to what people he has grown up with, dated, etc., have to say about him. That reminded me of the fact that in the case of men who are perpetrators of Domestic Abuse, often the horrors that happen behind closed doors are not known beyond the confines of the home. Furthermore, often the horrors could not even be imagined by people on the outside, including work colleagues and even friends. Abusers hide the evil side of themselves from the outside world. Of course!

My point: Kavanaugh may well have been a highly respected person by many people, for many years, but that does not prove that he never sexually assaulted any woman. The ex-boyfriend of mine who emotionally and physically abused me, was a medical student and became a Doctor of Medicine over the period of time that he was abusing me. At his workplace and out and about in public, he was charming, funny, very likeable. That was the Dr. Jekyll side of him, that I fell in love with.

Kavanaugh proudly spoke about his esteemed parents. So? He is not either of them; so, this is irrelevant. My aforementioned ex-boyfriend comes from an affluent, respected family. His parents are both Medical Doctors. They have a son who is a perpetrator of Domestic Violence!

Kavanaugh “traveled on Air Force One”. Again, so what? Proves nothing.

Kavanaugh suggested that this type of allegation that he is facing could dissuade people from serving the country. Umm. No. Not if they have nothing they wish to hide!

I noticed that in his opening statement, before being questioned, Kavanaugh stuttered when he said the word “deny”. Just an observation!

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The use of Restorative Approaches for cases of IPV?!

On March 16th, 2018, a conference was held by the NYC Domestic Violence Task Force, to explore the use of Restorative Approaches to Intimate Partner Violence.

My question: Are restorative approaches a viable, sensible, safe option for supporting victims of Intimate Partner Violence, (IPV)?  I entered the conference believing that they are not!  I was open to being shown otherwise.  The keynote speeches were excellent, and what I heard from the panel members about their work was wonderful.  I could hear and understand that restorative approaches are successful with certain populations, in certain situations.  For example, with young people in schools, when there are conflicts.  I can also imagine success in the case where a crime such as a burglary has been committed.

BUT, what was barely mentioned was how anybody envisages, with any amount of clarity, restorative approaches being used in the case of IPV.  I had been expecting, and wanting, to hear about some potential restorative approach models, specific to IPV, that had been thought up, proposed, by somebody.  We could have then discussed those.

One restorative practice that was talked about a lot was the “circle”.  Circles allow, possibly, for those in it to speak and listen to one another, in a safe place.  Or is it a safe place?!  I, as a survivor of IPV, know from my experiences and from hearing about the experiences of other survivors, that abusers are cunning, manipulative actors.  Furthermore, they do not care that they inflict harm upon their partners.  Do perpetrators of IPV want to change?  In my opinion, they basically have no desire to stop abusing their partners.  Are they even able to change, for the better?  I highly doubt this.

“Circles”; Victim-Offender Mediation; Family Group Conferencing.  Call a restorative approach practice what you will.  When I heard people talking about Restorative Justice at the conference, I thought: “Sounds like Couples Counseling, or Family Therapy, to me!”

My conclusion: Use funds more wisely.  Forget about restorative approaches; concentrate on improving the current systems.

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“Back To Work”

I want to enjoy going to work, coming home, and leaving stress behind. That old cliché “Work does not seem like work” when you enjoy what you are doing rings true. After my abuse I realized that I do not want that 9-5 mundane job. If a job is a job, it is like a chore. I feel I have to give a percentage of my time and energy to produce an outcome that is rewarding and satisfying to others and myself. I had bad experiences with my supervisors or “bosses” that tried to be intimidating to the staff. I did not have personal days off and felt like the pay was not worth the sacrifice I was making. Currently, I am taking classes in writing, blogging, art, coaching, and public speaking, and workshops on entrepreneurship. I feel that being my own boss and having more “me” time is exactly what I was looking for. As children, many girls want to be teachers, nurses or moms. I used to be a paraprofessional at a school, a health aide in a home, and have a stepdaughter. I always knew that something was missing. “When you hit rock bottom a change can be good” – they say. I know my story is unique and is mine. Nobody can have the same story, even twins have different perceptions. I often give presentations on what happened to me and incorporate my drawings with my journaling in my talks. After falling ill and while on my path to recovery, I realized that less is more. My new “normal” is helping other abused women, giving back on Thanksgiving by serving, speaking about my story, and watching faces light up is all I can ask for.

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The Silent Voice

In a child there is innocence that does not understand right from wrong. When a child witnesses abuse, messages of what love, respect and kindness is lost. The family unit becomes dysfunctional as a result of domestic violence, sexual, physical and/or psychological abuse. The child ultimately doesn’t understand what goes on due to the silence of the victimized family member. Victims are silenced and so are their children for they both fear to be subject to more violence. Children in the home rely on safety, shelter, clothing, nourishment, and love, unfortunately, none of these components exist when families are exposed to domestic violence. Sometimes our thoughts are not pleasant so we deny the truth which leads to revolving doors beginning and ending at the same place. The person’s (child and victim’s) emotional and psychological make-up will be damaged and there is a desperate need to repair what has been broken, healing requires trust. Once abuse is accepted, violence can continue through generations. The alternative victims face is to rely on systems that do not re-victimize woman and their children. I request that ACS begins to use their money to assist families by providing support and protection to keep impacted families together. Not only do ACS separate families but also misallocate their resources and prolong the separation. Once again the child suffers in silence without a true understanding of the reason why he/she was separated from his/her caretaker. It’s time for a conversation, the change begins with you. Survivors’ deepest and darkest secrets must be unveiled and brought to the light to allow the process of healing to begin. “We, survivors of abuse, represent a change that we, with the support of others, can make possible. Our values, integrity and transparency lead to an understanding among the general public of what abuse is.  Without community involvement how can we address the victims’ needs? Communication is essential between survivors, policymakers and local communities so that survivors’ experiences are taken into account. When does the cycle of abuse end if the community continues to turn the blind eye?

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Thoughts On “A Better Man”.

A Canadian film and a US Premiere, “A Better Man” was shown at Cinepolis Chelsea on November 15th, as part of the DOC NYC Film Festival. “A Better Man”, the brainchild of survivor of horrific Domestic Violence, Attiya Khan, documented the arranged meetings and conversations between Attiya and her abusive ex-boyfriend Steve, after 20 years with no contact.

Why did Attiya choose to do this? Why did Steve agree to it? What exactly was achieved? These were some of the questions I asked myself. I don’t know the precise answers to these questions, but I’m going to share some of my thoughts with you, addressing these questions.

I believe that Attiya had in mind that if the film were to include an abuser, as long as the abuser was genuinely sorry for the violence he had inflicted upon his girlfriend and the consequential psychological damage that he had caused, then the film could have a more extensive impact on viewers in terms of providing an opportunity for a greater understanding of what happens within an abusive intimate relationship. Could it be that Steve chose to participate, with a similar goal in mind?

Was Steve genuinely remorseful? Yes! To my surprise, I believe that he was. Do I believe that all abusers feel remorse? No, I don’t. And this led me to ask myself: “Are there perhaps different types of abusers? Can I categorize them? Distinguish them?” Maybe those who were abused themselves. And those who are simply sociopaths.

It seemed to me that Attiya attained a good amount of healing via this process and I am delighted about this. When girlfriend and boyfriend, Attiya was just a teenager, and she was hit in the face by Steve many, many times, dragged across the floor over broken glass, (that he had broken), and choked until she passed out. “The sleeper”, she called that.

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Victim Blaming – Why It’s Wrong

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The abuser is to blame.  Yet some people blame the victim too.  “She knew what type of man she was getting into a relationship with!”  “She must be so naive to believe that he is sorry!”  And other judgements.  “Probably she is as bad as him!”  “She must have done something to provoke him!”  “What sort of a woman would get involved with an abusive man?  She can’t be very intelligent!”

I’d like to address the above unfair judgements, and to dispute them.  They are not based on reality.

 A woman who enters into a relationship with an abusive man does not see the full extent of his nastiness in the early, honeymoon stage.  There may be signs of an abusive character, especially in hindsight, but basically a man will be wearing a mask in the beginning stages of the relationship.  He wants to “catch her” and “reel her in”.  He wouldn’t be able to do that if he were to show his true colors when originally courting her.

 When a good person hears another person apologize for something and promise to not do that thing again, why would she not believe him?  If she apologized and vowed to not do something again, she would mean it!

 Is it likely that she is as bad as him?  No.  It is not usual for an abusive person to abuse another abusive person.

 Even if she did provoke him, there is no excuse for abuse.  Ever.

 No woman is immune from being a victim of Domestic Violence.  She might be of any race or ethnicity, of any level of intelligence, from any socio-economic background, any age.  The bottom line is that it is never the fault of the victim.

 

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Calling Me A Child Witness?

I am called a child witness because I witnessed intimate partner violence in my home as a child.  But, I call myself a survivor. You see, I saw the abuse, felt the emotional turmoil and will never forget it. So, how am I a witness?  I survived it too!  I saw the physical, emotional, psychological and financial abuse. I saw my mother beaten and her pain as I felt mine.  I felt it too!

As an organizer who works to decentralize power within policy reform, it is important that I strike labels and words that do not properly identify me. I strike the name child witness from my personal identity and embrace survivor.  My pain is healing and is now becoming my power to advocate for justice.

So, when I am called a child witness to intimate partner violence. I simply say “yes, I saw the abuse, and felt it too.”  I am a survivor not a child witness!  I give you back that name.

-Alex

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Surviving Abuse In My Twenties

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I am 30 now and am already physically tired. I’ve been stomped on, strangled, broken, and bruised; it’s been very real – my body has had its share of turmoil. In addition, my mind has imagined sweet fairy tales of blackbirds flying out of a baked pie, and wolves blowing my house down over and over again. My spirit throughout has been in a state of confusion, being raised Catholic, turned Christian by grace, then to trying to find my voice and beliefs in a stable place. My name is Desiree’ and my desires in my 20’s has circled around being noticed. Problematically, when a particular guy liked me, and my cell phone rang with his caller ID, I was excited :-). Positive or negative, I knew he paid some attention to me. My possibilities were and still are endless: “1st comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage”… the lies of the modern day fairy tale. It is reported that women ages 18 to 34 are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of Domestic Violence (DV). Moreover, it is noted that “DV cost more than $37 Billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical, mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies.”

 

Just like I craved a stable man to notice me, I deeply yearned for my family’s security, passion in the workplace, career accomplishments and education. In my domestic violence relationship, all these things came to a screeching halt. I am very grateful that my life did not end.

 

In the city that never sleeps, or in the suburb that twinkles stars at night, I believe there is a sounding message of real love, pure and understanding; after the purple rain. That message has led me to rebuild my inner faith and survive my 20’s with most of those years in an abusive relationship. Looking back on the forbidden places I’ve conquered, this is not a taboo.

 

My 20’s have been the time of my life. Now as a member of Voices of Women Organizing Project, I’ve reclaimed my power to speak in and through a dominant sisterhood and pave a positive path for that weird and exhilarating space beyond survivorship. The question today is…will you have to be a survivor or witness abuse to really understand? Create a better decade. Support Now. Join Us.

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