Tag Archive: mental-health


The primary prevention committee went out and spread peace at the Largo Touch a truck!!!

It started with a pretty simple idea:

Get kids to draw and color what they think peace is. Then ask them to let us display it for all to see, so that everyone sees what peace really looks like.

So we started with this:

039

We asked the City of Largo, FL USA to allow us to have a table at an event called Touch a Truck.  This is an event where tons of people, and especially kids, come to the park and get to get in and explore tons of awesome vehicles like Firetrucks, Ambulance, Sky crane, Semi truck, Dumptruck, Garbage Truck, City bus, there was even a Helicopter that flew in.

We asked kids and adults if they wanted to color what their peaceful place looked like. A few people came over, and colored a picture, and promptly took it with them. We asked each person if they’d like to keep it or let us display it for everyone to see.

Our wall of peace started slow:

046

Then it began to build and more and more people started to show up. It was amazing!!!

As the kids drew, we asked them what peace looked like to them. They gave us amazingly awesome answers:

“when I’m happy”

“when there’s no hitting”

“when everyone is getting along.”

“when we are all smiling”

“when I like me”

As we asked them, we also asked the parents and they gave great answers as well.

“In the bathtub”

“relaxing on my front porch”

“when multiple generations and nationalities get together.”

044

There was one moment that just amazed me. There were 6 languages Russian, Arabic, Czech, Albanian, Spanish, and English all being spoken at the same time. All of the people were laughing, drawing, helping their children, and helping eachother.

Moms and dads both were helping their children. The kids were showing parents who really didn’t want to be there, that they had displayed their art on this “awesome” peace wall. They showed their relatives, their friends, and everyone they could. That was their stuff and they were helping create peace.

Everyone at the booth: Frieda, Shelba, Dawna, Prisscila, Chad, MJ, E.V, Jacob all helped everyone realize what peace was for them. We talked to them about what a healthy relationship looked like. We talked to the adults and the kids about how to create peace and nonviolence in our homes, our lives, and in our community.

More and more kids and adults gave us their pictures. They put feathers on them, they colored with markers and crayons, the glitter ran out, the stickers ran out, and there was more joy and happiness than many people have ever felt in their life.

055057

 

053

 

049

This is what the primary prevention committee does. We come together to prevent violence, promote peace and healthy relationships, and bring that message to our community.

In the end, over 200 people were at our table talking about, seeing, feeling, and experiencing what true peace really is.

This does not include the 100’s of people that walked by the booth, saw the pictures and were compelled to comment about how wonderful this is! With this event we have affected hundreds of people!

 

 

 

 

 

An annual tradition…superbowl.

Let’s put up an example…a scenario if you will. Let’s pretend (it’s not a far stretch) a young 10-12 year old girl is sitting with her family to watch the supwerbowl. When the following things happen, it’s acceptable and it’s normal.

An annual tradition….sexism at the superbowl. Sexism with the cheerleaders. (Yeah, they are wearing those skimpy clothes to get the fans to cheer. Really?  It’s the superbowl. These are tickets people save for years to get, or do it one time in their life. This isn’t a high school game where nobody is cheering….this is the biggest football game in the US. There’s no excuse for them to be dressed like that except to show off their body parts.) Sexism with the half time show. (Do we really need to show women dancing around in lingerie and strip club gear? Does this have anything to do with entertainment…or does it have to do with showing women as mere body parts again. Plus, women are ok with it…those women are, so it must be acceptable.) Finally sexism in the commercials.

Our friends at the Date safe project have written a post on those commercials:

http://www.datesafeproject.org/2013/sex-tv-commercials-and-the-super-bowl/?inf_contact_key=d4fd3a466116799df8a2b26ea630a68b02c40aa8bb976342113ca380beb5a64d

Check it out.

Now, let’s get back to our 10-12 year old girl.  What did her society, media, parents, youtube, friends, and the news all say….that was a great game, and the performances were unbelievably great.

Girl heard: This is how to be a girl. This is what women do. This is how women dress. This is how women behave. This si what YOU are suppose to do.

Are you ok with that?

This young lady stood up to the Taliban so that girls would have the right to an education.

They boarded a school bus and shot her in the head.

She survived!

Now, through all of this abuse and violence that she has had to deal with in her life….she “wants to serve the people and make sure that every person has the ability to get an education.” That girls and women have the right to be free and be equal!

May we all strive to be like this 15 year old girl.

Thank You Malala.  THANK YOU!

bad

There is now compelling evidence that Domestic Violence education or at least gender equality education is needed for boys who are playing team sports, especially sports that are violent in nature (Rugby, football, lacrosse, etc).

It’s not a coincidence that football players (here in the US), Rugby players (in Australia and England), and LaCrosse players (in many countries – the most prolific case was the killing of Yeardly love in Virgina Tech) are the people are being accused and indicted for sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and attempted sexual assault and battery.

All of the following information comes from this article: http://www.xyonline.net/content/sport-athletes-and-violence-against-women

A few disturbing stats –

Violent sports team player make up less than 2% of the college campus population, but they make up over 20.2% of the sexual assault cases.

Players of violent team sports are 5.5 times more likely to engage in sexual assault activities where they are either part of or intimately know the act is happening.

But the question is why?

The following are cited as risk factors that promote this type of violence:

Male bonding – Although great for the team environment, it also increases the anti-girl view and belief, and a hyper-testosterone view of male and male privileged.

Aggressive sports – the team members are rewarded for their aggressive, “don’t take no for an answer” actions and responses.

Sexualization and subordination of women in sports – Most aggressive sports have women as “eye candy’ and nothing more, and usually in very little clothes depicting a lack of worth as people.  Also, these sports are not seen as “girl sports’ so they are seen as weaker and lack the same value as their male counterparts.

Celebrity Status and entitlement: This idea that you are “great” and should get anything you want because of your talents are translated into everything. It also increases and emphasizes the idea of male privileged.

Drug Abuse: Though it’s not an excuse, increased drug activity is seen as a risk factor for sexual assault and when mixed with the rest of these it is lethal.

Groupie mentality – There are many women who want to engage in sexual activities with these men, therefore all women are seen as these girls.

With education, all spurts teams and men on these teams can be educated that these ideas are wrong and need to remain on the sports field not in real life.

Let us remember – these are the same things that have killed and abused many wives of professional athletes.

Most recently, Kasandra M. Perkins was killed by her husband a Kansas Chiefs player right before he took his own life. As the news reports came out…they blamed the killing on drugs, mental illness, and anger issues – but all related to Domestic Violence, which there were multiple reports of. kasandra

YOU can END domestic violence!

 

 

This is what this blog is about!

You can make a difference to end domestic violence, teen dating violence, and all the violence of the world.

All you have to say is….I WILL!

What are you doing to end domestic violence?

 

 

Effort Change

 Effort Change

 

When I hear the key turn in the door, my stomach tightens and I take a deep breath. How much has he had to drink? Where has he been all day? I say a small prayer that he isn’t too drunk and that the night will be one of peace. I say that prayer to a God I’m not convinced exists and to a God who says he has a plan and to trust him. I say a prayer to a God that asks for trust among a world of intense fear. 


He kisses me and asks me if I missed him. I lie and say “Yes.” The conversation continues into the mundane. “What do you want for dinner?” “How was you day?” Every night I am asked the same questions over and over and over. “Do you love me?” “Did you miss me?”  He asks how my day was. He asks what I did and who I saw. He asks not because he cares to know, but to keep tabs on my whereabouts…or at least that’s what I feel he is doing.


He is the cooks dinner. He asks if dinner was good. The answer is always yes. As the night drags on, beer can after beer can is opened. The pop of the can forces my muscles to tighten and I take a breath in as a count each pop one after the other. He asks me if I’m happy. I say yes. He tells me that I look unhappy. He asks me if he makes me happy. I say yes.


He watches tv in another room. I hope the game he is watching is good. I hope his team wins. I hear him come down the hall to find out what I’m doing. My eyes close for a brief moment as I take a deep breath in. I hear every single footstep. What does he want? He touches me on the arm and then touches my breast. He asks me if I want him tonight. The only answer I can give is yes. My muscles tighten as I ask the God that I know doesn’t exist for the alcohol to make him so tired he just goes to bed. 


The night ends without incident. I exhale. A little dinner. A little tv. Very little conversation. A lot of alcohol. A lot of prayers. I have been holding my breath all night.  The exhale is what in dance we call an “effort change.” 


I made it through another night. 


An effort change for those who understand movement of the body is the system for understanding the more subtle characteristics about the way a movement is done with respect to inner intention. Basically, “What is the dancers body trying to tell you?” An effort change is a dance term. It’s used in the world of the arts to change expression or emotion without using voice. To my knowledge no one has ever used it to describe an interaction between two people in real life in a real scenario. In dance, an effort change can go from hard to soft by change of muscular tension and breath. You can go from fast to slow. You can “gradate” which means the color of the lighting can go from hues such as dark blues to light blues.

 

 

In real life, an effort change happens in the muscles and in the breath as the mind tells you what type of situation you are in. When a couple kisses for the first time, a breath of joy is taken as that anticipation of hope is drawn upon right before two people touch their lips together for the first time. The muscles are relaxed and the body collapses into the other person.  In an abusive relationship. In a relationship based on fear, the effort changes during the kiss are a tightening of the lips, the body, and the breath before the kiss is your mind hoping you can’t smell the beer on his breath. In dance, there is a motion called a “contraction.” In very basic terms, a contraction is often times used as an expression of “angst.” The body will contract inward to show a sense of smallness or deletion of freedom.

 

In this video from So You Think You Can Dance, you can see effort changes in their pure form. This dance created a national conversation about how far the arts should go in the presentation of the awareness of domestic violence. It’s beautiful in its art and horrifying in its reality.

 

As a student and lover of the arts, I see life in terms of efforts and gradations. I hear music for emotion and I see color as a complement to the bigger picture. When a person is in an unhealthy and toxic relationship they change efforts often. For a woman, they are relaxed when he is away and they are tense when he is around. They breathe when he is away and they hold their breath when he is home. Their heart is calm when he is gone and it races when he is around. In a healthy relationship the efforts are light and soft. The breath is one of love and hope, not one of fear. The colors are bright and the gradate into brighter tones of love. In a relationship of abuse, the colors are hues of red and blue. They are colors that represent drama, fear, and sadness.

 

If you have ever been through an abusive relationship you see the world in a series of short stories of a book that never ends. Every night is a new story, with the hope of an uneventful ending. You hear songs through tears, believing that the love spoken of by the singer will never find you. You watch movies in the hope that the happy ending will one day be your happy ending. You see the sun and feel the wind as a way toward freedom. You see color as gradations of blues and reds. Your body moves through a series of muscular tensions not knowing when you will ever relax. Your mind is a mind filled with hope. In all your prayers to God, you still have a little bud deep down in your soul called hope, because that is the one effort that cannot change or you will never survive. Hope is the one effort that is constant and is real. Hope keeps every human alive, even for those who have had it almost beaten out of them.

 

I like the concept of effort changes. Effort changes are the way your body talks to you. If we open our eyes we can see the effort changes in others. If you are aware of those around you, there is no need for words. You can see the effort change in their breath, their eyes, the way they sit, or the way they walk. It isn’t hard. It just takes awareness of the subtleties of the human body.

Compassion is the key and is the first step.

Understanding is the second step to eliminating violence.

Compassion though, is where we have to start.

Why doesn’t she…? Why does he…? Why don’t they…?

These questions are not for us to understand.  It is ours to offer compassion and an open heart.

It is ours to offer a sense of hope or an open heart.

It is ours to offer a warm hug and welcoming smile.

Once we offer the compassion, the understanding will come.

 

Change the he to she if applicable.

If we followed Bob’s advice…..there would be a lot less abuse.

If we followed bob’s advice…there would be a lot less broken homes.

If we followed bob’s advice….there would be a lot more happiness.

Opt 4 following this advice.

Opt 4 spreading this advice to as many people as you can.

Opt 4 changing the way we see relationships.

Opt 4 ending abuse once and for all!

 

As you know…I hope: this blog is written by a committee of people (all genders, all races).

Here I give you my story so that YOU may learn and WE can change this:

Sometimes in life I wish I could go back in time and talk to my teenage self. I wish I could sit her down and tell her that dad as much as he loved me was wrong about relationships. I want to tell her that mom was also wrong. As much as my parents loved me and wanted to protect me from the world, they were unable to do that. You see, we had the perfect little middle class American life. Both parents worked. Both parents were educated. They were supportive of their kids and they never fought. Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but it worked for them. It worked for us. Growing up I never saw violence. I didn’t see it at school and NEVER in my home. My brother, sister, and I were never hit and discipline was fair, but firm. My parents were the type of people who weren’t big advice givers. They felt that we should find our way in the world without much intrusion. When I was a teenager though, my parents said something to me that I will never forget. They said that if I’m ever in a relationship and a man hits me, to make sure I knock him out and never look back. That was it. That was my relationship advice and the only talk I ever got about domestic violence.

Fast forward to the age of 22. I had fallen in love. He asked me to marry him. We knew each other only a little over a year when he proposed and believing that every marriage was like mom and dad’s, I said yes. It was a small Christmas wedding. I was still in college and we had no money. It didn’t matter. We were in love and we were married. Fast forward about 3 years. I’m now about 25 and had started my career. I was college educated and he was not. We were both starting to find our way in the world and starting to find ourselves. What we found was that we were completely different people. I had work friends who spent the day talking about changing the world and he had work friends that were unfocused and wandering. It was a recipe for disaster. We tried to make it work, but as time went by we knew that we had made a mistake. I had fallen out of love. I simply didn’t love him anymore. That was it. That was my crime. We never should have married that young, but we did. When I started pulling away, he started to hold on tighter. The more I showed that I was no longer interested in loving him, the more he showed his anger. Over the next couple of years we fought a lot. The fights were never physical, but always emotional. In time those fights became increasingly abusive, except I didn’t know they were abusive, because he never hit me. I was never shoved or pushed or threatened. Everything I had heard about domestic violence didn’t seem to fit my scenario. I didn’t understand what power he was holding over me. I didn’t realize that I was starting to live my days in fear. I didn’t realize that I was in a domestic violence scenario, because I didn’t know abuse meant anything but physical violence.

So now I’m going to tell you a story. One night right before we separated, around the age of 27, we had gotten into an argument, over what I don’t remember. Our fights by that point had progressed to name calling and he had started using phrases such as, “You know everyone thinks you’re a joke.” He would tell me that no one wants a woman whose bad in bed like me. He would tell me that no one would ever really love me. Over time I started to believe those pack of lies. I didn’t trust my friends anymore, because I thought they were all talking about me. My husband was starting to erode my trust and the strong self-esteem that my parents spent 21 years helping me build. So, on this one night the insults had gotten so bad that I told him I was going to go and spend the night at a friends house. I went into the bathroom to brush my hair and gather some things and while I was in there he shut the door and barricaded it with a chair. He had effectively locked me in. I tried to get out, but couldn’t. While I was in the bathroom he was yelling at me. Calling me names and using insults. The words he used were vile. I sat in the bathtub in the fetal position while he did this and cried. I don’t remember how long the abuse lasted, but it felt like hours. My guess is that it was about 30 minutes. When he finally opened the door, I was shaken and beaten down. When I came out the door, he asked me why I was crying. He said, “Go to your friends house now. Feel free.” He stopped all the yelling and insults and proceeded to watch t.v. I didn’t leave that night. I spent the night on the couch watching t.v. with him.

He never once laid a hand on me. Not once. The violence was in his words and body language. His violence was in the fear he created in me. What no one told me was that I was in a relationship where even the attempt at escaping was seeming impossible. I couldn’t visualize a life outside of this marriage. Everyday I went to work and no one knew about my life. I became brilliant at covering up emotional abuse. Every night when we would argue I begged him to hit me. I would fall to the ground and beg him to hit me. You know why? I wanted the bruises so someone, anyone would see it and help. In domestic violence even the smartest and vibrant women can lose their voice. They can lose their hope and when that happens, they can’t see a way out.

I eventually was able to get out of the marriage. I eventually found the courage to leave in the middle of the day while he was at work. I had two friends come to the apartment and help me get my things. I left a lot of my stuff there. I filed for divorce and asked for nothing. He had beaten me down so much that even during the divorce I told the judge that I just wanted out. He left me with all the debt, no furniture, and got the car I had paid for. The reason for this was because I was scared to fight him over “stuff.” I was scared. Let me say that again. I was scared that at any point I was going to be locked in the bathroom while he screamed obscenities at me. It took me years to realize that I had been in a violent relationship and I told no one for many, many years what had happened. My parents still don’t know. They just think we were young and made a mistake.

This is what everyone needs to take away from this. Violence comes in many forms and sometimes you don’t realize it until after you are away from it. This is what I wish mom and dad had told me that night a long time ago when they told me to never let a man hit me. I wish they had told me that no man, no matter who they are has no right to hold me in a relationship when I’m ready to leave it. I wish they had told me that no decent man will ever leave me in a ball of fear. I wish they had told me that a relationship is suppose to make make you a better person and not a person of fear. I wish that they had told me had told me that crying is not a normal part of a relationship and that no matter what anyone tells me, there are people who will always love me.

I would like to end with this. Once that cycle of violence had started in my life, it created damage. The damage came in the form of starting to seek out men who knew how to manipulate and knew how to hurt. That marriage so many years ago eroded my self-esteem to practically nothing. I no longer believed in the marriage my parents had. I believed that I deserved my fate so that what I sought out. I looked for men who could give me immediate love and who would eventually try to hurt me. This blog post is the first of three. In the ones to follow I will tell you about something lessons learned by relationships I found myself in and the ultimate path out, which is the path to peace.

We are not humans that have animals, we are all animals that have different superior abilities.

This is a small section of a longer story that an officer told me:

I got called to this house because a number of neighbors heard a dog wailing and a lot of yelling. I got to the residence and it was pretty quiet. Two more squad cars got there after I did. When I knocked on the door, it was like I walked into the all American home: husband, wife, 2 kids, 2 dogs. No blood. No bruises. No yelling. When I asked if there was anything going on, the couple seemed confused as to why I was even there. As is protocol, everyone was separately questioned. I decided to stay back and see what the officers found. They got the same story…nothing was going on, nothing was the matter. Even the kids said it. I kneeled down and scratched the white dogs head, he had scabs. I pet the brown dog and he dropped tot he floor and peed. The gentleman at the house explained he had a peeing problem.Both of the dogs walked over to the kids who were maybe 6 and 9.

The other officers walked the man and woman over to the cars for warrant checks and I talked to the kids. I always keep dog biscuits in my belt…it’s just a good idea. I asked the kids what the dogs names were. We’ll call them “ruff” and “woof”.  I asked the kids if “Ruff” and “Woof” were hurt. They told me they has scratches on them because they always tried to get out of the fence. I asked if daddy hurt them. Suddenly, the tears flowed out of their eyes and they told me about one incident of animal abuse after another after another. When I asked why they thought he did this, they said because mommy and they make him mad. That’s all they would say.
I explained to the woman that there are services for her. She said nothing. I explained the kids are obviously shaken. She said nothing. I told her the stories that the kids told me. She broke down crying and told me tails of animal, domestic, sexual, and child abuse by the hands of the man who was there.  She was scared of him and what he would do to the kids and the dogs if she said anything. Then she showed me the bedroom and the blood and the third dog and her fresh bruises.  If it wasn’t for talking to the kids about the dogs, this family’s hell would have continued.

Abusers use the animals, abuse the animals, and the rest of the family.

A little bit about animal ownership in our country:

Did You Know?

  • More American households have pets than have children. We spend more money on pet food than on baby food. There are more dogs in the U.S. than people in most countries in Europe – and more cats than dogs.
  • A child growing up in the U.S. is more likely to have a pet than a live-at-home father.
  • Pets live most frequently in homes with children: 64.1% of homes with children under age 6, and 74.8% of homes with children over age 6, have pets. The woman is the primary caregiver in 72.8% of pet-owning households

But even more alarming is that the power and control that abusers use on people, is used on animals first.

This information is from the ASPCA:

How Is Animal Abuse Related to Domestic Violence?

In recent years, researchers have documented a strong connection between animal abuse and domestic violence.

 

  • A study from 11 U.S. cities revealed that a history of pet abuse is one of the four most significant indicators of who is at greatest risk of becoming a domestic batterer.
  • A Texas study found that batterers who also abuse pets are more dangerous and use more violent and controlling behaviors than those who do not harm animals.
  • In Wisconsin, 68 percent of battered women revealed that abusive partners had also been violent toward pets or livestock; more than three-quarters of these cases occurred in the presence of the women and/or children to intimidate and control them.
  • Children who are exposed to domestic violence were three times more likely to be cruel to animals.
  • The Chicago Police Department found that approximately 30 percent of individuals arrested for dog fighting and animal abuse had domestic violence charges on their records.
  • 71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals.
  • 68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women, and 75% in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them.
  • 13% of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.
  • Pets may suffer unexplained injuries, health problems, permanent disabilities at the hands of abusers, or disappear from home.
  • Abusers kill, harm, or threaten children’s pets to coerce them into sexual abuse or to force them to remain silent about abuse. Disturbed children kill or harm animals to emulate their parents’ conduct, to prevent the abuser from killing the pet, or to take out their aggressions on another victim.
  • For many battered women, pets are sources of comfort providing strong emotional support: 98% of Americans consider pets to be companions or members of the family.
  • Animal cruelty problems are people problems. When animals are abused, people are at risk.

 

Animal abuse is completely linked to Domestic abuse!

An animal abuser WILL abuse people!

Animal rights and human rights are interconnected!

Spread the word!

 

How much does Domestic violence cost?

Technically, it doesn’t cost anything.  A person can use power and control on someone free of charge.

However, it cost the life of the person, the life of the children, and the life of everyone around them. The stress and the turmoil can cost the life of people around through heart disease, heart failure, and anything else that watching violence and the destruction of a human being can cause.

But the cost of domestic violence to the world is even more vast. The hospital stays, the hospital bills, the mental health costs, and even the loss of work productivity creates numbers that are immense.

The state of Texas has created a tool for Human Relations (HR) executives to use to see how much domestic violence can cost their company:

HR Dv cost tool

This is a real eye opened for everyone on how important it is to have a domestic violence prevention program in their office. It doesn’t matter if you have a small business with only a few workers or a Fortune 500 company, Domestic Violence is affecting you and your workers. It’s affecting your bottom line, and very well my affect the entire workings of your business.

By proactively working to educate employees about what domestic violence is, how they can help prevent it, and even how they can prevent it in their own lives –  it can save a company millions and save the millions of lives!

%d bloggers like this: