Category Archives: Physical Abuse

Ice Cream

Strawberry ice cream, Source sxc.hu, Author Lotus Head, Johannesburg, South Africa (Free use per OTRS ticket #2007062510004765)

“I scream
You scream
We all scream
For ice cream”

– “Ice Cream” by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert King

We have all at one time or another over-indulged, whether in a pint of our favorite ice cream or a family size bag of chips.  And will again.  Food may not be a substitute for love, but it is readily available.

The need for love and connection is closely related to that for sustenance.  The need to reproduce is equally primal.  Human beings could not have survived without these needs being met, which is why they are so deeply ingrained in our nature.

Weight, however, is tied to self-loathing in our culture.  What American woman has not stood naked on the scale, waiting with bated breath for the dial to stop?

As many abuse victims know, the shame of abuse can be transferred to our weight.  The ongoing battle with weight provides us a permanent opportunity to vilify ourselves. Inversely proportional to our weight, our self-esteem can, quite literally, be measured by the pound.

When the damaged self-esteem resulting from abuse and the pressure on American women to be a certain size coincide, eating disorders frequently result.  Anyone acquainted with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating knows these are often hidden.  The shame of these disorders coupled with the shame of abuse can be overwhelming.

There is worse. Some of us have eaten out of the garbage can.  This practice is not limited to the homeless among us [1].  There could hardly be a more apt symbol of low self-esteem. Continue reading

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Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 3 – A Fresh Perspective

Sylvester Stallone in film “Rocky VI”, Source https://commons.wikimedia.org, Arthur Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis (PD as work product of federal govt.)

“ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all…

– Emily Dickinson

Abuse skews the perspective we have on our lives.  But our viewpoint (and the labels we choose to apply to our experiences) can make a surprising difference.

What others may call “failures” can be seen as new avenues of exploration or stepping stones to the next success.

  • Thomas Edison made thousands of unsuccessful attempts at creating the light bulb.  When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail so often, Edison responded that he had not failed.  He had merely ruled out ways that would not work.
  • Babe Ruth was famous for his home run record.  But for decades Ruth, also, held the record for strikeouts.  He hit 714 home runs, but struck out 1330 times in his career.  Ruth said about this, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life.  That is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

The Chance to Start Again

We can view failure as a chance to start again, with more knowledge than we had before [1].

  • The industrialist Henry Ford, the department store magnate RH Macy, and the animator/studio head Walt Disney all filed for bankruptcy, at some point.  Yet they are considered exemplars of innovation whose vision changed the world.

Not Counted Out Yet

“I believe in pink.  I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.  I believe in kissing.  I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong.  I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.  I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

– Audrey Hepburn

True, we face enormous challenges as abuse victims.  True, we may be exhausted from a decades-long battle with the after-effects of abuse.  But we should not count ourselves out too soon. Continue reading

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Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 2 – Bad Advice

“Blue Suede Shoes” sheet music at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Source Flickr, Author Sam Howzit (CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

“Well, you can knock me down,
Step in my face,
Slander my name
All over the place.

Do anything that you want to do, but uh-uh,
Honey, lay off of my shoes
Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes…”

– Elvis Presley, Blue Suede Shoes

Discouragement from those significant in our lives often accompanies abuse.  Sadly, we may adopt the negative opinion others have of us based on their own shortcomings.

But bad advice is simply misdirection – not an infallible predictor of our future.  The important thing is that it not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • The author of a beloved 19th Century girls’ novel worked as a maid, seamstress, companion, and teacher.  Thankfully, Louisa May Alcott found her true calling, and left us the classic Little Women.

Taught to Fear

  • Lucille Ball said that all acting school taught her was to be frightened.  Ball, of course, became one of the most popular comediennes in America, starring in such sitcoms as I Love Lucy.  She was nominated for thirteen Emmy Awards, winning four (along with a Lifetime Achievement Award).

Abuse victims are taught to fear.  Change is viewed as negative, and the new as dangerous.

This attitude passed on to us – if we remain bound by it – makes progress impossible, and success unattainable.  Genuine opportunities are missed, since their negative consequences always appear to outweigh any benefit.

Meanwhile, real risk is not accurately assessed.  Danger is not perceived, so we rush headlong into its arms – sometimes in the very effort to escape our past [1].  When harm follows (frequently in the form of further abuse), we question our judgment and become ever more fearful.

Trained not to trust our abilities, we cannot conceive of overcoming the obstacles in our path.  Yet, it must be added, a remarkable number of us do overcome them.  Ironically, our pain is sometimes the impetus for change.

Without guidance, support, or even much confidence, we ignore the odds against us, and persevere regardless. Continue reading

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Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 1 – A Slow Start

“The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss, Source http://www.dvidshub.net (VIRIN 170302-F-EZ530-010), Arthur Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson (PD as work product of federal gov’t)

“Today you are YOU,
That is TRUER than true.
There is NO ONE alive
Who is YOUER than YOU!”

– Dr. Seuss

As abuse victims, most of us are familiar with failure.  This is not necessarily because we have failed.

Many victims are successful in the work world.  Work may actually help us to deal with the abuse we once endured.  It can provide a focus for our energies, sometimes to the point of exhaustion [1].

What we experience, however, is a persistent feeling of having failed in the most important arena of all; having failed at love.

This feeling stems, in part, from a mistaken belief that we “deserved” the abuse to which we were subjected (surely, if we had been lovable, we would not have been abused, goes the thinking); and, in part, from the failed relationships resulting from that abuse.

But all human beings experience failure.  Life is a process of trial and error for everyone. A baby tries to stand, and falls. S/he tries again, and falls again.  Eventually though s/he learns to walk, then run.

A Slow Start

Some of us have a slow start.  We may, in fact, have been advanced for our years – struggling to develop without the nurturing and encouragement we should, in all fairness, have been provided.

Still, for argument’s sake, let us say we make a slow start.  That is no indication of how we will finish.

  • One little boy did not speak until comparatively late.  His parents feared he was mentally impaired.  A teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.”  The boy was expelled from secondary school for being “disruptive,” and was refused admittance to a prestigious university.
    We recognize now that Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century.  He is regarded as the father of modern physics [2].

Rejection

With or without a “slow” start, we all experience rejection eventually.

  • Teachers quickly grew impatient with Thomas Edison’s inquisitiveness. One called Edison “addled.”  Edison went on to invent the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the light bulb.   Altogether, Edison held over 1000 patents.
  • Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook.
  • More than two dozen publishers rejected one children’s book, before it reached the public.  The author, Dr. Seuss, ultimately wrote more than forty others, including such favorites as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who! and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Continue reading

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“Dissociative Identity Disorder” by Therapy Glasgow

Broken-down house, Source https://www.flickr.com, Authors Forest and Kim Starr (CC BY-SA 3.0 United States)

This post from “Stephen” at Therapy Glasgow eloquently conveys the essence of Dissociative Identity Disorder:

“Still Like A House

Fractured?  No, curiously I feel fractured but I see myself in the mirror and I’m whole, standing still like a house.  The mirror may be fractured, but my eyes still swivel like windows in this head, guided by a nose that acts as a weather vane.  I open and close my mouth like a door and my ears sit like unoiled hinges.  But I don’t feel like a house.  I feel like a room: a room divided against itself.

Whole Not Hole

If I am whole, how come there are holes in my experience?  Not holes; they just feel like holes.  They’re no more holes than my forgetting what I had for breakfast last Tuesday is a hole.  If I decide, out of my indecision comes a need to follow a trail of breadcrumbs, walking backwards in flip-flop sandals: Shameday, Shatterday, Frightday, Thugsday, Whensday, Chewsday: vegetarian bacon that tasted like cardboard soaked in lapsang souchong.

Not Broken

Broken.  Like a wine glass washed in a lapse of concentration, snapped stem in the sink?  No, I just feel broken.  I’m no more broken than my daydream in the bubbles is a symptom of a broken mind.  I just went travelling for a second and broke a glass, not my hip…” [Continued at https://therapyglasgow.com/2019/02/02/dissociative-identity-disorder/?c=166#comment-166. ]

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 3

“Healing of the Blind Man” by AN Mironov (2009), Author Andrey Mironov (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“…He [Christ] spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.  And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’…So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9: 6-7).

The miracle of the blind man is recorded in the Bible to teach us that infirmity is not necessarily the consequence of sin.

Certainly, as the victims of child abuse, we did not, ourselves, sin.  Trauma, however, lefts its mark on us.  Among its scars is the tendency we have to seek out and return to dysfunctional relationships.

What Christ’s love does for abuse victims is heal (or reduce) those scars, and cause the scales to fall from our eyes.  We can see the world more clearly, undistorted by the lies we were told by predators about the nature of love and our own supposed lack of value.

Christ’ love for victims is tender.  “A bruised reed He will not break…” (Isaiah 42: 3).  Rather than inflict pain on us, He grieves over the pain we have endured.  That tenderness restores our self-worth, eliminating the need we feel to return to toxic relationships, and making us again whole.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 2

Poster for the film Basic Instinct (c) copyright TriStar Pictures and/or the graphic artist, Source http://www.impawards.com

In the 1990s thriller Basic Instinct, Michael Douglas plays a troubled homicide detective who becomes involved with a female serial killer.  Despite this woman’s overt sexuality, others can see that she is dangerous.  The detective is blind to that.  He believes he has found true love and redemption.

What motivates the detective is not, however, love.  It is a deep sense of guilt over a shooting incident that occurred while he was high on cocaine.  He has, in effect, a death wish.

This is not to say that abuse victims have a death wish, when we return to toxic relationships.  Love can though be a minefield for us.

We are all too easily blinded by our childhood experience – experience that was tainted by abuse.  We frequently mistake dysfunctional relationships for love, and fail to recognize real love when we actually encounter it.

Having been trained to tolerate abuse, we do not see the danger.  We settle for what we had in the past.  That feels “right”.  That resonates with us, striking a profound chord, so “must” be love.  Other relationships pale by comparison.

It does not occur to us we deserve better.  Until we come to that realization, toxic relationships will continue to hold power for us.

This series will conclude next week.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 1

Old love letters, Source Flickr, Author Rachel Ashe of Vancouver, Canada (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Almost all of us have, at some time or other, run into an old flame and felt the desire to reconnect.  What draws us is a mix of nostalgia and the desire to correct past mistakes, to “get it right” this time.

The problem is that many of the former relationships to which we find ourselves drawn as abuse survivors were, to put it mildly, toxic.

Why do we save the love letters of a man who repeatedly cheated on us?  Why are we tempted to call the boyfriend who stole our charge cards and emptied our bank account?  Why do we find ourselves checking Facebook for the ex who put us in the emergency room?

The answer is not that time heals all wounds.  It is not that we are seeking closure, that we enjoy pain…or that we are simply too dim to know better.

One reason is familiarity.  There is something powerfully familiar about these toxic relationships.  They evoke buried memories from our past, memories we once associated with love. Continue reading

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Bunnies

Baby with toy bunny, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/6520748155/, Author Florida Memory (PD)

WARNING: Graphic Images

  • Joseph Milano and Lauren Semanyk, a Maryland couple, have been charged with third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of their 10 month old daughter [1].   Other charges pending include possession of drug paraphernalia.  The couple waited over 6 hours to report that the baby had ingested fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more powerful than morphine.  They described Angelina to emergency personnel as having drowned during a bath.
  • A 16 month old Pennsylvania toddler is in guarded condition after having chewed on a discarded baggie that held heroin [2].  Narcan saved both the baby’s life and his mother’s, both found unconscious.  A search at the home turned up a dozen empty heroin bags.  The mother is expected to be charged.
  • Antonio Floyd and Shantanice Barksdale, a Michigan couple, have been charged with second degree murder and manslaughter in the death of their 18 month old daughter [3].  The toddler, Ava, died after ingesting some 15 times the amount of fentanyl commonly seen in overdose deaths.  Drug residue, baggies, scales, herb grinders, and guns were found in the couple’s home.  They have two other children.

We mull over baby names.  We paint our nurseries pink and blue; decorate them with bunnies or friendly cartoon characters.  We buy sound machines, cashmere receiving blankets, teddy bears 3’ tall, and designer baby clothes.

Amid all the excitement, we overlook only one thing in preparing for the birth of a child.  And that is the very thing a child needs most:  loving and responsible parents, capable of putting their child’s needs first. Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEW – Climbing Over Grit

Image result for wikimedia commons "climbing over grit"

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Climbing Over Grit by Marzeeh Laleh Chini and her daughter Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi is a ringing indictment of child marriage, in the years leading up to and during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

A moving story of courage, strength, and love in the face of abuse, Climbing Over Grit is a first-hand account of the early life of Laleh’s mother, Najma.

Neglected by her wealthy but self-absorbed parents, Najma is married at the age of 11 to a man thirteen years her senior who regularly beats and rapes her.  Despite horrific abuse, Najma’s spirit is never broken.  She forms a close relationship with her mother-in-law and manages to raise four children (becoming a grandmother at the early age of 30).

In the process – and despite her husband’s vehement opposition – Najma resumes her education, attaining a small degree of independence.  However, history repeats itself when Najma and her husband arrange a marriage for their daughter, Jaleh, at the age of 15.  Continue reading

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