GENERAL NEWS

Inmate Custody/Release Information

Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE)

New York City VINE Program

New York City’s VINE program is a free 24-hour hotline service. The phone number to call is 888-846-3469. VINE provides information about inmate custody/release information.  You can register for VINE alerts of inmates’ custody and release. For more information go to the NYC Department of Correction site by clicking this link. 

Here is a snapshot of what it provides:

  • Lets you know if an inmate is in custody or released.
  • You can register to receive an alert by phone if the inmate is released or transferred from the Department of Corrections custody.
  • Calls you to let you know that the inmate has been released or transferred from the Department of Corrections custody. It is an automated call.

To register with VINE:

  1. Make up a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) that is personally significant to you and keep track of it.
  2. Identify the phone number you want to use to receive inmate/custody release. information.  Remember, VINE can only call you. It cannot email or text.
  3.  Know the inmates’ identification information.

Here is the identification information you will need:

  • The inmates New York State Identification Number (NYSID). This number is all you need to register for VINE.  You can get this from the prosecutor(s) on the case. 

If you don’t have the NYSID, three or more of the following will do. If you don’t have this information, you can normally get it from the police on the case. 

  • First name.
  • Last name.
  • Date of birth.
  • Date of the arrest.

For inmate custody and release information outside of New York City, please click on the link below.  

https://vinelink.com/#/home

 

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Safe from COVID-19. But even more Unsafe than usual at home!

COVID-19 has forced our lives to be different to usual.  And it’s difficult and challenging for “everyone”.  But for victims of Domestic Violence who now find themselves at home with their abusive partners for longer periods of time, due to the Social Isolation strategy being adopted, it is highly likely that the amount of abuse perpetrated will increase.  Not in every case.  But even in one case, of course, it is one case too many!

One of the principal tactics that an abuser makes use of, is Isolation.  Isolating his partner from anyone who could potentially be of any type of support to his partner in relation to managing or coping with or even escaping from the abuse that he inflicts upon her.  A call from heads of the City or State of New York City, such as Mayor de Blasio or Governor Cuomo, to practice Social Isolation, is a godsent gift for the abuser.  Or should we say, … a devilsent gift?!

Now the abuser’s work in this “department”, in the “Isolation Tactic department”, is done for him!  She is at home for the vast majority of the time.  And even when she is talking with or face-timing family members or friends, he is right there, to monitor her every word.  He can basically now say to her and do to her whatever he chooses with far less risk of her being able to get help.  It’s a dream come true for him.

It’s a nightmare for her!  A real-life nightmare with potentially dire, real-life consequences.  What if he physically attacks her?  Will her neighbor in the apartment to their right, who would previously have intervened by knocking on their door, still knock on their door?  If her husband answered the door, there would be far less than six feet between him and the neighbor!  Perhaps the neighbor will call the police.  But what if they arrive too late?  Or what if they do arrive in time, but because of Social Distancing, they don’t stay long?!  Or what if, even if the neighbor intervenes and the police turn up?  Imagine how furious her husband will be following that!!

VOW has created a Safety Planning document for those Living With An Abusive Partner.  You can find it on VOW’s website by clicking here, on Facebook and twitter @VoicesofWomen.

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Living With An Abusive Partner – Safety Planning

While living with an abusive partner, safety planning for survivors, their children, and their pets of the utmost importance. Please use all or some of this safety plan to meet your needs. Created by survivors of domestic violence.

  • Determine your partner’s use of physical force so you can assess the risk to you and your family.
  • Pick safe areas to go to  in your home, free of your children. There should be no weapons and it is an area that you can go to, if you feel an argument is about to happen.
  • Teach your children how to get help. Make sure that they understand to not get involved in an argument.
  • Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children. Create a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave.  Plan and instruct them on a place for them to go.
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation, and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
  • Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place, or with a trusted family member.
  • If possible, have a phone available at all times. If your life is in danger, call 911.

Trust your instincts. Abusers, stalkers, and perpetrators are often very determined to maintain control over their victims, and Technology is one of many tools used to do this. Information can come from a variety of sources, like monitoring your devices, accessing your online accounts, tracking your location, or gathering information about you online. Use safe devices and protect your usernames and passwords.

Be Safe & Healthy.

#VowNow

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Relief and Grief After Leaving An Abuser

Most people, even those with little knowledge of the dynamics of domestic violence, would imagine that a survivor of domestic violence would feel a certain amount of relief once she has left the abusive relationship.  And even understand that the relief could quite possibly be tainted by the fear that the harm that he is capable of inflicting upon her may not have come to an end, despite the fact that she has physically removed herself from the relationship.  Less people would, I think, be imagining that the loss of an abusive relationship could stir up feelings of grief for a survivor.  Surely, she will not miss a man who abused her?!

In her 2010 paper, ‘Loss, Grief, and Domestic Violence’, Concetta Hollinger lists the losses that a victim of domestic violence could experience when she finds herself in an abusive relationship.  For example: Independence, (the victim is now controlled); Support from family and friends, (the abuser isolates his partner); Trust, (the abuser has betrayed that); The happy life and happy ending that she always dreamed she’d have.  Source: https://www.fcasv.org/sites/default/files/Loss,%20Grief,%20and%20Domestic%20Violence,%20Concetta%20Hollinger.pdf  Pages 30 – 32.  Retrieved 02/16/20.

Taking Concetta Hollinger’s ideas to a time further down the line – hopefully! – I would like to suggest a couple of losses that a survivor of domestic violence may experience and grieve for when she is first out of the abusive relationship.  It could well be that whilst in the abusive relationship, despite the horrors, she kept hoping that things would improve, that the abuse would stop, that he would “come to his senses” and start treating her as she deserved, start loving her.  So, now out of that relationship, she has lost that hope.  That hope will never now become a reality.

The other loss that may surprise a lot of people, and understandably so, is that she will mourn the loss of the abuser.  Not the abuse and not the abusive part of him, but the parts of him that she enjoyed and loved.  Such as: His sense of humor; the in-jokes that they shared; the adventures they went on together; the pleasurable, everyday routines they experienced; “their” songs, that they would sing along to together; their sexual relationship.  The “Dr. Jekyll side” of him.  Losing that side of him brought her grief.  That side of him was very real, and it existed alongside the “Mr. Hyde side” of him.  The two sides never showing themselves at the same time!

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When Orders of Protection Don’t Protect!

Is there actually any point in a victim of Domestic Violence obtaining an Order of Protection against the person who has physically assaulted her?  We know that, despite an Order of Protection being a court order for a person to stay away from another person, sometimes a violent person will ignore this order.  Could it be, in some cases, that an Order of Protection is an additional motivating factor for a perpetrator of Domestic Violence to cause harm to his ex-partner?  For example, is his anger fueled by the fact that the object of his former control has made a clear gesture that she no longer wants him in her life?

There are times when an Order of Protection is in place and not only does the perpetrator of Domestic Violence not remain the required minimum, physical distance from his victim, but he gets close enough to her to assault and murder her.  One such case occurred in Durham, North Carolina, in November of last year, 2019.  Victoria St. Hillaire, who was just 28 years of age, and a mother, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, Lequintin Ford, “as she arrived for work at UNC Family Medicine in Durham.”  Source: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article237578909.html  Retrieved 01/20/20.  The shooter then turned the gun on himself and killed himself with it.  It should be noted that this is not the first time that Lequintin Ford had violated an Order of Protection provided in an attempt to keep him away from Victoria and her family.

What are the circumstances under which an Order of Protection will achieve what it has set out to achieve?  I.e. Protection.  And when will it not?  This is surely a key factor in determining how victims of Domestic Violence in the future could possibly have a better chance of surviving once they have left an abusive partner.  As Kathy Hodges, deputy director of the Durham Crisis Response Center points out: “If this is an offender who doesn’t want to go to jail, who cares about their reputation and wants to look good in the community, it’s going to be a whole lot more meaningful for them than for someone who really doesn’t care if they get arrested.”  Source: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article237578909.html  Retrieved 01/20/20.

I had Orders of Protection against my abusive ex-boyfriend.  Each of the three points given by Kathy Hodges in the statement we have just read above were true for my abusive ex-boyfriend.  I.e. He did not want to go to jail or prison; he desperately wanted to keep up the fake, attractive appearance that he had successfully created both in the religious community to which he was affiliated and in the workplace; and he certainly had a lot to lose in relation to his career path, since he had graduated from medical school and was in the process of applying for a spot on a residency program.  Victoria St. Hillaire’s ex-boyfriend did not want to go to jail either.  However, for reasons unknown to me, he additionally had a desire to inflict the ultimate harm upon Victoria that was so consuming that he was willing to also end his own life.  Rest in peace, Victoria.

Security breach, system hacked alert with red broken padlock icon showing unsecure data under cyberattack, vulnerable access, compromised password, virus infection, internet network with binary code

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No Respite for Domestic Violence Victims at Christmas Time.

In 1963, Andy Williams’ song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” was released.  Can you imagine walking through shopping malls at Christmas time, hearing this and other jolly tunes filling the space, when you know that this is most definitely not the most wonderful time of the year?

For women in abusive relationships, there is additional stress. They are burdened with the task of having to act as though they are living a “normal” life.  They do this for the sake of their young children; wanting their children to not miss out on the joy, excitement and “magic” of Christmas that other little children are experiencing.  And below, I’ll explain the other reason for this acting.

Some people believe that there is a rise in the amount of domestic violence over the holidays.  Whilst it is true that increased alcohol consumption could fuel tempers, “ … data available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) shows a decline in the number of calls received during the holidays, including on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day”.  Source: https://nrcdv.org/publications/holiday-toolbox/  Retrieved 12/19/19.  This makes sense to me.

Domestic Violence is primarily a “Behind closed doors” phenomenon.  Holidays are typically times when extended family are around. Victims are expected by their abusive partners to put on a show that presents a picture of a loving, supportive relationship and family unit.  If she were to be witnessed by him, revealing any sort of indication to her family, (from which he usually isolates her), that he is anything less than the perfect partner or father, she would pay the price later once alone with him and out of earshot of potential protectors.  She knows this. She has been threatened. And from experience, she knows that his threats are carried out.

Decrease or increase in Domestic Violence reporting at Christmas time, for women who are in an abusive relationship, there is no one time of year that is exempt from the possibility of being abused.  “Incidents don’t happen on particular days, the abuser and victim are always somewhere in the pattern of abuse.” Source: https://breakthesilencedv.org/debunking-myths-dv-and-the-holidays/  Retrieved 12/19/19.

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To Trust, or Not to Trust?

 

To trust, or not to trust?  That is the question.  After exiting from a relationship in which one was abused, how ought one best approach the issue of trust?  In my case, possibly unusually, despite having been quite severely abused, both physically and emotionally, I did not struggle to trust future men who entered my life as potential partners.  Am I saying that this is a positive thing?

On the one hand, I believe it is.  For it means that I was not allowing the bad behavior/character of my abusive ex-boyfriend to lead me to automatically distrust other men, therefore giving any new man in my life a fair chance to show me naturally whether he was to be trusted or not.

On the other hand, I am questioning the ease with which I trust men.  Is this innate trust that I seem to have perhaps one of the factors that led me deeper, further, into an abusive relationship?  Trusting when it wasn’t earned, when it wasn’t deserved.  Trusting when to others it would have been obvious that the man cannot be trusted!

In the abusive relationship that I found myself in, and in a subsequent long-term relationship in which my partner was, unbeknownst to me, cheating on me, I most definitely had a habit of giving the man I was with, the benefit of the doubt.  Again, and again, and again.  And that was despite my doubts, my suspicions, the warning signs!  So, given that I did see the “red flags”, we can say that this is not a case of blindly trusting.  So, on what basis has my trust lived?

I have asked myself this question.  My deep well of trust was not born out of naivety.  I saw the signs that pointed towards reasons to either at least suspend judgment as to whether something that he said was true, or to veer towards distrusting his future actions in advance because of so many past let-downs.  Let-downs like the broken promises to change, to do better.  So, why did I keep trusting?  Actually, I think the more pertinent question is: Why did I keep hoping?  Hoping that things would change for the better.  Hoping that he would stop hurting me, in any form.  I think the simple answer to that, although it is actually more complicated, is twofold.  1. Since I find it so difficult to “wrap my head around” the fact that a person can and does hurt another person, especially his/her partner, I struggle to believe, or perhaps to accept, that a person would not want to change his/her behavior and work seriously hard on doing so.  And 2. Because I wanted so very much for him to change, as there were some things about him and our relationship that I loved, I didn’t want to lose those things and I fantasized about his cruel ‘side’ leaving him.

So, when does one give up hoping that things will change?  When is enough, enough?!

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Isolating Himself and Withholding Affection, as Ways to Abuse.

Have you ever experienced the sort of emotional abuse that involves him locking you OUT OF a room, or withholding affection from you?  I have.

It is, I think, more often that we hear survivors of Domestic Violence recount stories of how their abusive partners isolated or attempted to isolate them from their friends and family, or how they were forced to have sex with their abusive partners, despite protesting.  And these are certainly very common occurrences within an abusive relationship.  My abusive ex-boyfriend engaged in the isolation tactic that I have just described, but he also had a couple of other habits, other abusive tactics, that I don’t hear much talk of.

My abusive ex-boyfriend would lock himself inside one of the rooms in the house, so that I was unable to enter and so that, (I came to know), he’d be free to sit at his computer or with his phone and communicate with other women.  He once said to me, when I confronted him about his infidelity, “But it’s you who I come home to at the end of each day!”  An example of verbal abuse.  Keeping me from entering the room where he was sitting, an example of non-verbal emotional and psychological abuse.  I believe that it’s acceptable for partners to keep some secrets from each other.  But this was a case of deceit on his part; of him knowing that the only way to try to hide it from me, was to keep me physically away from the proof; and furthermore, of him knowing that locking me out of the room would likely cause me anxiety and depression.

There were other times when he would be sitting at his computer with the door to the room open, and I would approach him to ask, for example, how his applications for Medical Residency were going.  We worked on them together sometimes.  Quickly, but not quite quickly enough for me to not have seen, the computer screen with a Live Chat in progress would be minimized, and a different screen would have replaced it.  The replacement being, for example, something related to applying for a spot on a Residency Program at a hospital somewhere in the country.  He was desperate to not let me get too close to his Computer of Secrets!  Woe betide me if I were to question him on the minimized screen that I had caught a glimpse of!

Another of his abusive behaviors was to withhold physical affection and sexual intimacy from me.  “Don’t most relationships in trouble look like that?”, you may ask.  Remember that this is just part of a bigger picture.  And this was a way of behaving with the intention to hurt me.  “According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, the definition of abuse is the following: “Abuse is defined as any action that intentionally harms or injures another person.””  Source: https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/abuse-information/what-is-abuse-abuse-definition.  Retrieved 7/7/19

I recall the emotionally painful nights that I experienced, when he didn’t go out, but would climb into bed next to me at 4am, knowing that I’d probably wake up and knowing that I had to get up early for work the next day, (he didn’t have to rise early).  He’d then make sure that he remained far enough away from my body to not be touching me at all.  He knew that this would hurt me.  It absolutely did!  And he knew that I would have been suffering emotionally up until then, lying there thinking about him in another room, indulging in his secret world.  He knew I longed for the consistency of a warm-bodied, warm-hearted boyfriend; I had practically begun to beg him to go to bed at the same time as me.  Deliberate neglect.

 

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New DOJ Definition of “Domestic Violence”

The Department of Justice, (DOJ), has changed the definition of “Domestic Violence”!  I only recently discovered this and was curious.  When I read the new definition, I became concerned.

The Department of Justice’s previous definition of “Domestic Violence” was:

“A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”  Source:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/doj-change-domestic-violence-definition/

Retrieved 06/22/19

The current version on the DOJ website, as of April 2018, reads:

“The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.”  Source:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/doj-change-domestic-violence-definition/

Retrieved 06/22/19

My observations:

  1. What is glaringly obvious is how drastically different the two definitions are from one another! I.e. Not just a few minor changes.
  2. We see that whereas the previous definition recognized that Domestic Violence is not merely physical violence, (it listed all forms of abuse), the new definition includes only “felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence”, which means that it is discounting many forms of abuse that perpetrators use on his/her/their victim.
  3. The previous definition explained the goal behind the Domestic Violence, i.e. to gain power and control, and it even offered further explanation for how the abusive behaviors seek to gain power and control. g. Aiming to intimidate or manipulate a victim.  The new definition acknowledged none of the above.

Why am I concerned about the new definition?  I feel that the new definition is sending a message that only Domestic Violence punishable by law is considered as “Domestic Violence”, and by offering such a narrow description, it is potentially misleading, as well as appearing to invalidate all other types of Domestic Violence.  Also, I am wondering why the Trump administration felt compelled to change the definition.  What could be the thinking and the goal behind such an extreme change of wording?

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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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Opposing Equal Rights for Men and Women!

Silhouette of hand movements feminists holding the symbol of Venus mirror. feminist concept

“Can a feminist bake apple pies?” I ask you.  “Does a feminist Want to bake apple pies?”  With my concept of what it means to be a feminist, then yes, a feminist may want to bake apple pies.  IF she enjoys baking.  And a non-feminist may not want to bake apple pies, if she doesn’t enjoy baking.  In my eyes, a feminist can be a wonderful wife and a brilliant mother and a great cook and a successful career woman.  Any woman can be these things.  And certainly every woman in the workplace deserves to receive equal pay to her male counterpart.

Opposing Equal Rights for Men and Women is opposing Human Rights.  Why would two human beings who are equally – as equally as possible – qualified, equally educated, equally proficient, capable and “successful” receive a different monetary salary within the same organization?  If one of these human beings is a female and the other a male, then this is what often happens in the United States of America.

In 1923, over ninety years ago, a woman and suffragist leader called Alice Paul first introduced the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress.  The aim of the amendment was essentially to eliminate gender-based discrimination.  Section 1 of the original Equal Rights Amendment proposal read, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Leaders such as Gloria Steinem provided argument after argument in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in its favor in 1970.  Also in 1970, the National Organization for Women, NOW, an American feminist organization founded in 1966, began a hard push for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women was established by John F. Kennedy in 1961, with Eleanor Roosevelt appointed as head of the organization, and it was set up in the hope of providing a solution to female discrimination in education, work force, and Social Security.

Yet, despite such strong, influential people and organizations pushing for an ERA, such an amendment has still not been ratified to this day.  Other powerful people have strongly opposed the ERA and put forward convincing, to some, arguments for why the ERA would be detrimental to women.  One such person was Phyllis Schlafly.

Phyllis Schlafly led the Stop-ERA campaign and suggested that ratification of the ERA would mean changes such as courts no longer tending to favor mothers for child custody in divorce cases and the introduction of women being drafted to war.  Phyllis Schlafly used scare tactics to persuade people to support her in her fight to have the ERA not written into the U.S. Constitution.  She also appealed to women, and to men, especially males who favored a patriarchal society, by apparently glorifying the picture of a traditional American woman.  Schlafly painted the picture of a doting and dedicated wife and mother, with an apron and superb apple pie baking skills.  I ask again, “Can a feminist bake apple pies?”  Well, more importantly, “Does she Want to bake apple pies?”

An Equal Rights Amendment is a necessity.  Without such an amendment to the United States Constitution, women are legally not protected when it comes to equal opportunities and justice.  For example, violence against women is prevalent, but state laws (differing from state to state) and federal laws remain highly inadequate for dealing with such serious issues.  The current laws related to women’s rights in the United States are not nearly enough to promote gender equality or to safeguard women against gender-based violence.  Ratification of a comprehensive and sensible ERA is needed, urgently.  And merely, but at the same time crucially, it’d be a step towards a greater embrace of basic human rights for women.

 

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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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