December 31, 2008

Former ER Nurse Gives Victims of Sexual Violence the Power of Hope

By Barb Berggoetz

Caroline Fisher sometimes gets the call she dreads in the middle of the night. A woman in the Indianapolis, Indiana area has been assaulted or raped.

So she dresses quickly and drives the seven minutes from her home to St. Francis Hospital's Center of Hope in Indianapolis, where she will guide the shaken and sometimes beaten victim through a physical exam and that crucial period right after the attack. In a small, homey room, with pink and purple terry cloth robes hung on a wall and two white, cushioned wicker rocking chairs, separated by a curtain from the medical exam chair, registered nurse Fisher gathers the evidence she hopes may lead to convictions.

Just as important, she hopes getting victims quickly into a special exam room -- away from the bustling emergency room -- and using trained sexual assault nurse examiners like herself will help ease victims' anxiety and start them on the road to recovery.

"If I can take (the victim) and give her the tools to start emotionally healing, then that's life-changing. Maybe she doesn't quit school or she's just able to cope with life better. If we're lucky, maybe she'll get counseling. "She shouldn't lose her future because somebody stole sex from her," said Fisher, center coordinator.

It's easy to see Fisher's strong dedication to the Center of Hope, which she advocated for and founded in 1997. You can hear it in her voice when she talks about victims' rights. You can see it in her eyes when she tells how their trauma impacts her life. Since the center opened at the Far-Southside Indianapolis hospital, more than 700 female victims, including 105 this year, have been treated there and provided with advice and resources for counseling and legal help. It's one of six such centers at hospitals in Marion County developed by then-Prosecutor Scott Newman. Together, they now treat about 800 assault and rape victims per year.

Her advocacy for a center at St. Francis was born out of frustration over how assault victims had been handled when she worked as an emergency room nurse. After going to the emergency room, they sometimes had to wait three or four hours in an exam room for doctors. She recalls waiting with victims, not knowing what to say. Doctors sometimes didn't collect evidence properly.

"It made sense (that) nurses could do this," said Fisher, who had been an ER nurse from 1982 until the center opened. Now, 10 trained nurses are on call 24/7, so someone is available any time a victim comes to St. Francis.

Dr. Arthur Stern, a St. Francis emergency room doctor, believes the center's work has had a tremendously positive impact on victims and on improving the collection of evidence for prosecuting cases. When emergency room doctors did exams, he said, a lot more variability existed in the approach and thoroughness.

"You want to make the person feel comfortable and treat any injuries they sustained and make them feel like they're in a safe place," Stern added. "It's a lot less traumatic for victims to have a woman (who is usually a nurse) be the primary person examining them."

Fisher hopes her work and that of the other nurses is having an impact, too. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, I feel like I've made a difference in how they're treated, even if they don't realize it, because I know how it used to be," said Fisher, who was born in Shelby County and got her nursing degree at Indiana Central University, now the University of Indianapolis.

Yet she sees much that still is amiss. Too many sexual assault victims don't report the crimes to police or other authorities, she said, adding that, typically, just 20 percent of women assaulted report the attack. A new study by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, released in November, reports an even lower percentage. Of 913 women randomly surveyed statewide, 13.6 percent reported being raped at some point in their lives, but only 12 percent said they reported it to police.

"They're afraid nobody will believe them. They're embarrassed or they've had a bad experience with law enforcement in the past," said Fisher. She doesn't push victims to call police. "That's their decision," she said. "But if they ask me what I think, I will encourage them to do so. They've had control totally taken away. One of our goals is to give them their power back." Fisher also is disturbed about misconceptions among the general public that lessen the chance for convictions. Too many people believe that DNA evidence has to exist or that the victim has to be injured to prove a rape occurred, she said. Victims realize this. "They think, 'Why bother?' "

"The common reaction is to try to forget it happened and go on," she said. "It's rare for someone to have counseling." Besides dealing with victims and handling administrative chores, Fisher speaks to students and any group who'll listen about sexual violence, domestic violence and bullying. She trains firefighters, police officers and others who may deal with victims. And she teaches volunteer advocates to assist victims and nurses to become sexual assault nurse examiners.

This isn't the type of work she leaves at the hospital door. In fact, she moved close to the hospital so she could respond quickly when on call. She often takes the victims' worries home with her. "I pray for them. It's a hard road these women face."

Some cases are more gut-wrenching for her than others. One victim was bitten all over her body. "That horrified me," she recalled. "I'd never seen a person bitten by another person like that. It just blew me away."

Women who are her mother's age get to her more, as do very young victims, near her 13-year-old niece's age. While her job gives her immense rewards, she recognizes the need to get away and take time for her own well- being. She travels, gardens and reads, and is trying her hand at writing a novel. Even so, she says her life and work are intertwined, partly because she's on call and also due to dedication to what she does.

"This may sound highfalutin. But I really think this is the work God has given me to do right now."

December 28, 2008

Le Chrysalis December 2008 Issue

Happy Holidays & Stay Safe in 2009!!
Holiday Colors are NOT Black and Blue...  Read More

Holiday Blahs...
As a Survivor with Survivor issues, how can you combat the Holiday Blahs?  Here are a few things that Survivors have shared...  Read More

The Meaning of Christmas
Sometimes we miss the true meaning of Christmas, many of us Survivor having to scratch and claw for everything that we've gotten.  Many times not having the things that we've needed...  Read More

Holiday Empowerment for Survivors
It's very important to Empower yourself this Holiday Season!  Read More

New Year Affirmations for Survivors
Starting a New Year...  Read More

Survivor Poem
This issues poem is entitled "All we Wanted for Christmas was Love"  Read More

Those of us in the group of Survivor that relocated to NC with absolutely nothing wish to Thank You and to let you know that your caring and giving has made this Christmas one we will always remember and...  Read More

Happy Holidays & Stay Safe in 2009!!!

Holiday Colors are NOT Black and Blue...

All of us from wish you and yours a Happy & SAFE New Year!

During  the Holidays life can get more stressful, mostly in an economy such as ours at this time, and unfortunately DV incidences rise during this time of year.  Know the Red Flags, get the information you need, and know what to do in case you are faced with a violent altercation with a loved one.  There IS help!  No-One deserves to be abused, and there IS life after abuse!  We've made it, so can you!!

Survivors, please be there during this time of year more then any other, to help speak out and let those that may need support know that it's out there.  Help each other!  Domestic Violence Awareness NEEDS to be SEEN and HEARD more often!  Help be that change and help Break the Silence of Domestic Violence!

Thank You to those that are making a difference!  All your time, effort, and work truly does make a difference and is truly appreciated!  UAADV thanks everyone that has helped in these past years in making UAADV as strong as it has become, and we are looking forward to growing further in the coming year.

Let's make 2009 the year we come together and TRULY make a difference!

~Sister Survivors of UAADV~

Holiday Blahs...

As a Survivor with Survivor issues, how can you combat the Holiday Blahs?  Here are a few things that Survivors have shared...

The Holiday Season for many of us Survivor was usually the hardest season to get through in many ways.  Although many of us looked forward to the Holidays, we didn't look forward to the extra stress that the Holidays can cause and the resulting stress that the abuser took out on us; the small things that we had to look out for increasing, the glass that we usually walked on around our abuser multiplying and becoming sharper.

Even still, when we are facing Holidays alone, without a spouse or someone to share it with, we can still feel the blahs...

For many this Holiday brings feelings of utter heartbreak and chaos.  You feel like part of you wants to cry and the other part of you wants to yell and scream.  For many this season it brings depression and the feeling that after all the abuse and destruction that your life has been through now you are totally alone.  There is no one that understands how you feel or what you are going through.  Many want to sit in their rooms and just shut down.  Instead, of being happy that you are out of the abuse and free, you feel more confined then you ever have.  People being happy just depresses you more as you feel like you have had all the happiness taken away from you, and that you will never feel happy again inside.  This makes you a combination of sad and angry, because more than anything you want to be happy.  You want to feel like they don't have a right to be happy when you are so miserable.  Trying to be around people who tell you Merry Christmas and Happy New Years just depresses you more.

Taking holiday groups in small batches is the best way to do it.  Take little doses of the holiday that way the emotional feelings will help bring you out of the blah feelings a little at a time.  But do not over do it and cause yourself more stress than you had to begin with.  Just remember or try to stay as positive as possible.  That is difficult we realize but if you're anything like us you really want to be happy, it is just really hard to believe there is such a thing as happiness anymore.

Hold your children tight, and if you don't have children, hold your friends and loved ones tight.  Try sharing Christmas with others that will be there to support you, and understand what it is that you are going through.  Give yourself a gift this season, even if it's a quiet bath with bubbles and candles.  Treat yourself like you know you should have been treated all along, and treat yourself to an abuse free Holiday Season.  For this year, as a Survivor, you ARE FREE to have the Holiday that you should have always had!

The Meaning of Christmas

Sometimes we miss the true meaning of Christmas, many of us Survivor having to scratch and claw for everything that we've gotten.  Many times not having the things that we've needed, many times just going without because of the lack of help.  Many Survivors with children don't look forward to Christmas, for they not only don't have the money for the gifts to put under the tree, but they also don't have it inside them to be happy and truly celebrate Christmas anymore.

Christmas is a time of giving.  Unfortunately, it seems that society has become too commercialized and that giving is even less, mostly in this time of economic hardship.

We wanted to share with you how we've seen the true meaning of Christmas here in NC, where UAADV's home state is.

Recently, we had a group of 6 women and 4 children that we helped relocate to our area of NC.  As you can imagine, they didn't have much when they came here, and were in need of a lot of items.  Beds, bedding, couches, tables, clothes, you just about name it, they needed it.  Thankfully they were able to obtain some items before moving from the Shelter/Transitional Housing they were in before hand, and that was such a blessing.  But, they needed so much more, and we reached out to the Freecycle community here in our area in search of help for this group.

The response was more then we could have hoped for, and very overwhelming and touching!  So many from the Freecycle community took their time to clean out their closets, look around their homes, and find items that they could give to this group of women and children.  Children looked through their toy boxes so that they could give the children of the group something to play with, and stocking stuffers for Christmas.  One member that had already given so much, shared wtih her Church what was needed, and the group was adopted by the Church for Christmas.  The members of the church had their children go through their clothes, and gave many clothes to the members that were truly needed and appreciated.

Through it all, 2 sets of living room furniture was given, bedding, beds, clothes to fit everyone in the group, kitchen items, desks, 3 wonderfully hand painted computers for the children, toys, Christmas items, turkey and food for Christmas dinner, and even a Christmas tree was given!  This all came from the hearts of those that answered a post about a group of Survivors that relocated to our area that was in need, and such a blessing it's been to see, not only for us, but for those receiving.

Sometimes, during the Holidays mostly, we don't see that anymore, and it's a blessing to see it alive and well in our area.  Those that gave didn't have too.  Those that had us pick up the donations of needed items didn't have to take their time to go through their belongings to give to those that truly needed it this year, but they did.  Many things were new, and those that weren't, were truly given with love.

One donator shared his story as to why he gave so openly and shared the needs with his wife, family and friends, and has allowed us to share with others.

He shared that he was once "on the other side".  How he was one abusive to his wife, not physically, but mentally.  He didn't realize just how abusive he was or that he was being abusive until a life changing moment when he almost lost a child, and he started having anxiety attacks himself.  As much as those scared him, he wondered at how much he would scare his wife with his yelling, throwing and breaking things when he was angry.  He changed, he saw that what he was doing was hurting and scaring her without him touching her, and when we shared about these women in need, he has done everything that he can to help ensure that these women and children have what they need this year to have a Christmas.

Through this outreach for the group of Survivors, we've talked to others that have been through Domestic Violence that has given.  We've talked to some that had seen it as a child, and knew what the children that have relocated were going through.  One Sister Survivor that has asked to remain un-named, gave each child a Christmas bag of items for each child, and a large box with needed household items for each household in need.  They were giving back, and in essence, giving themselves a gift that they know they would have liked to have received themselves while going through surviving Domestic Violence.  Some giving because they knew there was a need, and didn't like the thought of women and children going without and having to come from Domestic Violence and not have what they needed to Survive.  In all, so many hearts opened and gave, and in doing so, shared the true meaning of Christmas to a group of Survivors that truly needed it...

Holiday Empowerment for Survivors

It's very important to Empower yourself this Holiday Season!

Look at your past Holidays with your abuser, I'm sure you'll find small things that you are unable to do that you wanted to do.  This year, do them!

Cook that Christmas dinner without being yelled at or put down!

Put the decorations that you want up where you want them!

Plan your Holiday the way you've wanted too, and maybe you couldn't!

Call those that your abuser didn't want you to talk to!

Spend Christmas morning with your kids in your pj's, or in whatever you may have wanted to do!

Take your time, do what you want to do, instead of being afraid that you aren't doing things good enough or in the time that your abuser may have wanted them done.

Spend this Holiday Season without the fear that you've lived with while with your abuser!

Take YOUR Holiday back!  Take YOUR life back!

New Year Affirmations for Survivors

Starting a New Year...

To actually believe there is happiness out there, and to believe that good people do exist.

To realize that there are people that do care, and are willing to help.

To live violence and abuse free.

To take the baby steps necessary towards healing.

To take it day by day, and not overload ourselves with issues that we must face.

To cherish those that we have in our life, and not take their love for granted.

To pay it forward in this coming year.

To love our children, reassure them that it IS NOT their fault.

To love ourselves, and reassure ourselves that it IS NOT our fault.

To live fear free and not walk on egg shells.

To make this year the best year of our life.

Survivor Poem

All we Wanted for Christmas was Love...

It was Christmas morning
And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse.

The stress had been building,
The anger he barely could hide.
We smiled like porcelain dolls,
Our fear barely held inside.

There were presents under the Christmas tree,
Wrapped all in pretty paper and bow.
Our smiles became more strained,
The anxiety inside couldn't help but grow.

The children unwrapped their gifts,
So wonderful was the sight.
Their eyes were not only wide with wonder,
But also wide with barely contained fright.

With all the presents under the tree,
All we wanted for Christmas was love.
But that can't be bought with a bow stuck on,
And put under the tree with a shove.

We appeared the perfect family,
Even though we all knew it was just a show.
For anyone looking at us from the outside,
Surely couldn't see it, just wouldn't know.

Off we went in our Holiday best,
To Holiday dinner with family and friend.
Outside appearing happy and content,
Inside wondering when and how the day would end.

Later on that night,
When all was quiet and still.
He came at me in an outrage,
And took me against my will.

Knowing the children were down the hall,
Tucked just recently in their beds.
I kept it as quiet as possible,
Hoping their pillows covered their heads.

I wore colors I didn't expect to wear that Christmas,
After the night was said and done.
With my head bowed low to hide the bruises,
The next morning he knew he had won.

With presents under the Christmas tree,
And presents around the house put aside.
This was what we got every Christmas,
Something I could no longer abide.

That was last Christmas,
Shortly after with the children I fled.
He never did want us,
This many times he had said.

This Christmas was different,
We didn't have much but that didn't matter.
Because our house was full of love,
Hugs, smiles and true laughter.

No more will we have to wonder,
If the day will end in bruises, pain and tears.
Because all we wanted for Christmas was love,
A gift that together we can now safely give for years...

T. Bunting


  Those of us in the group of Survivor that relocated to NC with absolutely nothing wish to Thank YOu and to let you know that your caring and giving has made this Christmas one we will always remember and cherish.  Your thoughtful and caring gifts brought smiles instead of tears to our children's eyes.  The laughter they have instead of the fear and tears can never be replaced.  Your generosity has relit the light of Christmas and love in not only ourselves but that of our children.  We can never say Thank You enough, these items will always be cherished as will your love, caring and generosity towards us.  Just know that this caring and generosity will be kept going forward.  We intend to help other Survivors and Victims of Domestic Violence.  If we work together hopefully we can stamp out the after affects of Domestic Violence.  We will together strive to ensure that no Survivor has to go through it alone...  Thank You!!

December 20, 2008

Paula Abdul Speaks Out for the Pets of Domestic Violence Victims

Former pop queen and current “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul has never been among the first celebrities to spring to our minds when we think of animal activism. (She’s no Emmylou Harris, is all we’re saying.)

Imagine our surprise, then, when we learned that Abdul has signed on as spokesperson for the American Humane Association’s Pet’s and Women’s Shelters (PAWS) program.

PAWS, created by American Humane Association director of public policy Allie Phillips, promotes on-site housing of pets at women’s shelters. Phillips found that many women are reluctant to leave abusive relationships at least in part because they fear for their pets’ safety if left behind, since most women’s shelters don’t permit pets.

Studies show that domestic violence victims’ fears about their pets are not unwarranted. An O Magazine article referenced a 1998 study:

Frank Ascione, PhD, a psychologist at Utah State University, surveyed 38 women at a domestic violence shelter. Of those who reported having owned pets, 71 percent said that their partners had threatened, tortured—even killed—one or more of their animals during the relationship. Abusers had shot dogs, drowned a cat, and set a kitten on fire. “Many of the descriptions sounded like calculated behavior to terrorize the woman in her home,” Ascione says.

Since then, a decade’s worth of studies have confirmed, and expanded on, Ascione’s initial findings. In Atlanta, for example, researchers surveyed 107 battered women who sought help at a family violence center after being indicted for various crimes. Of those who reported pet abuse, 44 percent said that their partners told them they would hurt the animals unless the women joined in the illegal acts. One 33-year-old said her husband punched and choked her during their five-year marriage and forbade her to see her family without him. Two weeks after he lost his job, he robbed a bank and swore he’d kick her dog to death unless she drove the getaway car. “I was sure he would kill my little Terry Terrier if I didn’t do what he said,” she explained. “I felt trapped.”

Not only are victims more likely to leave abusive situations if they feel confident their pets will be safe, PAWS argues, but they also benefit emotionally from having animal companionship during a difficult time in their lives.

American Humane quotes Abdul, “The relationship I have with my dogs is not only very special to me, but also a great source of comfort and peace of mind…The PAWS Program is a critical way of providing a transition for abused women and children into a safer and better life. I feel privileged to be involved with this extremely important and necessary program.”

To learn how you can help domestic violence victims and their pets, visit American Humane’s Newsroom.

Lindsay Barnett, LA Times

December 6, 2008

"Poster Child for Domestic Violence" Sentenced to 60 Years in California

Friday, December 5, 2008

OAKLAND -- William "Mookie" Johnson was sentenced in Oakland Friday to 60 years to life in state prison by a judge who called him "a poster child for domestic violence."

Johnson, 48, was convicted June 3 of attempted premeditated murder and other charges for shooting his ex-girlfriend outside her Oakland workplace last year shortly after she broke up with him and moved out of their house.

Johnson has six prior felony convictions, including two for shooting previous girlfriends. The two ex-girlfriends testified against him in his current case, which stemmed from the shooting of 38-year-old Nicole Henderson outside the Oakland Parent-Teacher Children's Center at East Ninth Street and 35th Avenue about 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2007.

In addition to convicting Johnson of attempted premeditated murder, jurors, who deliberated for only two hours, convicted him of assault with a firearm, mayhem, domestic violence, making criminal threats and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In sentencing Johnson, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman said Johnson "has certainly not led an exemplary life" and "to go to a day care center and start firing a weapon is beyond comprehension."

Goodman said it's lucky no one else was injured by the multiple shots that Johnson fired the day he shot Henderson.

November 1, 2008

Scholarships available to victims of domestic violence

The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program ( in Wilmington, NC has received a $30 million dollar gift from Maryland philanthropist Doris Buffet for scholarships that help women go back to school after leaving abusive partners.

WISP will use the gift to establish its own foundation and continue its work for another 10 years.

Women who are domestic violence survivors can apply through WISP for scholarships to cover the cost of tuition, books, school fees, and related expenses such as child care and transportation. To date, the scholarships have helped 900 women nationwide graduate from school.

Applications and instructions can be found at

Teal ribbon a symbol of violence-free life

This is something that New Zealand is doing, something I've never heard being done in the US.  Not to say it isn't, but something I haven't heard, and I think it's a wonderful idea!

To be able to give out ribbons that state that you will live a violent free life, and to commit to it, is a powerful message that I feel should be spread not only in New Zealand, but everywhere.  To not just say "Don't do it", but how not too.  To give support in how to not abuse, how to not commit domestic violence. 

This is something I would like to see being done here in the US, and something I'm going to look into further...

Choose to be Violence Free Campaign

Teal Ribbon Week runs from November 3 to 8.
"It’s saying that as a community we’ve got to call a halt to that and find a way of being in relationships that doesn’t require abuse to resolve our difficulties."

This year’s campaign has a new element of promoting family wellness, he says.

"It’s not just about saying ‘don’t do that’ but about what can we do instead.

"It’s about how can a family or couple move to operating healthily and work with their kids in a healthy way?"

Mr Smith says it’s easier to start a conversation about making a relationship or family healthier than simply asking someone "are you hitting your kids?"

"The only way to make long-term changes is not just about stopping something but about starting something else and making it grow."

Join UNIFEM's "Say No To Violence" Campaign

UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman invites you to Say NO to Violence against Women. “One in three women may suffer from abuse and violence in her lifetime. This is an appalling human rights violation. We can put a stop to this. I became UNIFEM’s Goodwill Ambassador to amplify the voices of these women. That’s why I signed my name to this book. It will help UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a strong supporter of our cause, to strengthen the United Nation’s efforts to fulfil women’s right to a life free of violence. So please join me. And add your name.”

Add your voice to an ever-growing movement of people who call for global action to end violence against women. Goal: One million people to say no to violence, and deliver to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on November 25th. Click here to go to the Say No To Violence website.

October 30, 2008


From NCADV Public Policy Office

WE DID IT! The ABC News television show 20/20 has heard you loud and clear. They are now considering producing an hour-long story on a MOTHER who has suffered/is suffering from domestic violence and has had a negative experience within the family court system.   Read More...

October 28, 2008

Le Chrysalis - October 2008 Issue

Le Chrysalis Circular

The October edition of Le Chrysalis is updated!  Come check it out!

Le Chrysalis is a circular provided by United Angels Against Domestic Violence (UAADV).  The purpose of this circular is to provide information, resources, updates, empowerment and more to DV victims and survivors, as well as for advocates to share with those they are working with.   Le Chrysalis will be published every other month in the middle of the month, and the Dear Chrysalis portion is updated weekly.

October 21, 2008

Le Chrysalis October 2008 Issue

Le Chrysalis Main Article
The Awareness Behind the Awareness - The following is the little talked about/known signs of abuse, and ideas for DV Victims, Survivors & Loved Ones... Read More

What's new with UAADV?
There's a lot of wonderful things going on within UAADV!  Read More

Action Alert
This month we have 2 Action Alerts that we feel needs to be shared... Read More

Survivor Stories
This has been a hard and emotional battle.  Eight years ago I was being abused by my ex emotionally, physically and mentally.  At times I thought I was losing my mind.  I did indeed lose everything I had in my life.  I ran for my life because he threatened to kill me because I told his family about his drugs... Read More

Empowered Teen
This month we are sharing with you the UAADV Teen Blog, they've got some new things going on!  Read More

Empowerment Technique
Make a list of what you enjoy doing, even if you do not spend much time doing that activity, if you enjoy it then put it on your list. This may seem like the same exercise as last week but this is different. This list would include things like reading, crafting, drawing, etc. Things that you consider... Read More

Empowerment Resource
With this month being DV Awareness Month, we wanted to share with you an easy and affordable way you can help Empower... Read More

Dear Chrysalis
This is a new section of Le Chrysalis, which will be updated weekly with letters from Victims, Survivors, Advocates, Friends and Families.  Our mission with this section is to help & continue support of all of the above by having viewers leave comments to show support and help those that need it, while raising awareness of the issues... Read More

Survivor Poems
This issues poem is entitled My Heart... Read More

Survivor Made DV Awareness Graphic
We would like to share a few graphics that were sent to us for this months circular... Read More

Empowered Survivor
Rozetta is a survivor.  Her life struggles began the day she was born and was taken home to a shack in a place called Tin Can Holler in Athens, TN.  As a child Rozetta witnessed domestic violence and lived in poverty.  Her father was an alcoholic and a habitual criminal.  When she was seven years old her father brutally murdered her mother... Read More

Survivor Stories

Earlier this month, in talking to one of our members I was so relieved and happy that a tremendous amount of change and growth had occurred with her, and I am so Proud of her, and she knows it too! I’ve known her now for over 3 years, and I can tell you truthfully that many times during those 3 years I was very concerned for her. She had much support, and many trying to help guide her to taking steps to better her situation, and I know she took that information in. She just wasn’t ready to implement it yet. It took something drastic to finally push her out of her cocoon, but once she was, she’s truly spread her wings and is now flying in the right direction. I asked her to share her story for Le Chrysalis, and it is below…….

Her Story

This has been a hard and emotional battle. Eight yrs ago I was being abused by my ex emotionally, physically and mentally. At times I thought I was losing my mind. I did indeed lose everything I had in my life. I ran for my life because he threatened to kill me because I told his family about his drugs. I lived in Florida from 2001 to 2005 then I lost my apartment, my job, communication with my children. They had done everything possible to turn my child against me and keep us from communicating. I left Florida because after losing everything I really had no where to live anymore I had child support I could not pay. I truly felt so lost and alone. I hid myself away for almost 2 years, living alone in a basement of my daughter's home from 2006 until this past summer. I had a warrant out for my arrest due to non-payment of support. The court didn't want to hear I lost my job and was basically homeless. I was taunted on the internet by him and his new wife. I would call my daughter every Sunday evening at 6pm only to have her yell and be rude and nasty, until they stopped me from talking to her altogether.

I fell into a deep depression. I can honestly say that I wished every night that I wouldn't wake up in the morning but I did and each day was just like the other. It seemed my life was over and I would never have peace or see my daughters again.

Then out of the blue my son-in-law told me I had to leave and two days later I was on a bus to Florida. I got to Florida and was so afraid of going to jail as this is where the warrant was sworn out against me.

I was staying with a girlfriend. Even there I didn't move out of the house. I spent most of my time sitting on a back porch smoking cigarette after cigarette. Thinking, “How am

I going to get through all this” and honestly wishing I was dead. I felt so alone and deserted. So much had happened and now I am at the lowest point in my life and don't know how to get back up.

I finally couldn’t take anymore and went to speak to an advocate at the Domestic Violence Center. I also had my Groups where I sent messages. (Non-Custodial Moms-Breaking the Silence (NCM-BTS) is the one that kept me together since 2005, when I happened upon it.) A lot of the times I didn’t want to hear what they were telling me.

Then one day I was checking my email and there was one from my lawyer and simply it said “You need to really come back. It’s the only way you can get to see your daughter.” So simple but yet it finally made sense that running and hiding wasn’t the answer. I had to get back, I contacted different groups and one woman told me to continue hiding but I knew that wasn’t the answer. I met with a group of women whom I told my story too and right after that meeting they took donations up and I went home that night with bus fair from Florida to Pennsylvania. One woman told me not to buy the ticket because she was going to make sure I had a bus ticket and was to use that money to eat.

Meanwhile the advocates in Florida had arranged for the DV Shelter in PA to take me and help me. I was in Florida a month and now it was off to Pennsylvania, the place I never wanted to see again. I arrived there and was met by an advocate and brought to the shelter. I felt so alone and afraid but something happened that was unbelievable. After talking with the advocates at the shelter I realized the only way anything would change is if I wanted it to change. No one was going to fix this but me. First I started by contacting Florida and trying to get the warrant dropped. To my surprise it already was dropped and all I had to do was send $47.50 to have my license reinstated. The shelter took me to public assistance to have me apply for services. I was granted $102.50 every two weeks, food stamps and Medicaid. My very first check I sent the money for my license. I was also walking 4-6 hrs a day looking for a job.

Meanwhile, I was also in touch with my lawyer about my daughter. I had tried to call her and I would get no answer. My lawyer contacted my X directly and finally I was going to see my daughter after 7 ½ years and our conversations going so badly. I felt I was getting so strong emotionally until this point.

We arranged for it to be at a fast food restaurant. I insisted it be a very public place because of all the past abuse from the X and his wife who was to be the supervisor. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her (my daughter). She had grown into a beautiful Teenager! The step-mother was there and would not move away from us. The meeting was shaky but went well. At the end the step-mother stood up in front of my daughter and stated the meeting was over and I was a liar. Needless to say, I called my lawyer and told him what happened and that we need to get her removed as supervisor. So he put in a modification. In the mean time now PA was on me for support and I had 60 days to get a job.

Well, all at once it seemed things started happening. My license was reinstated and I changed it over to PA. A job came through, and public assistance and another agency was able to give me money to buy a car from a nice woman that attends group at the shelter. And I got my own apartment! Then I received notice of hearings that I put in for modification of child support, finally put in for alimony and modification of the custody order. My head was reeling because all three hearings were being held the same day. My lawyer would only handle the custody so I was on my own for the child support and alimony.

So now, the day comes and I go to the Domestic Relations section for the support and alimony and my X’s lawyer walks in and proceeds to tell me that against his advice his client (my X) wants to drop all future support and all arrearages. So the smart mouth that I am I asked “What, did he grow a heart?” I asked what does he want in return, and he said I am to drop the alimony and that the divorce is final so everything is done. I turned and looked him in the eyes and said “No it is not, you should know that. You put in the bifurcation and yes I can go back for alimony and Equitable Distributions of marital assets.” Well, that shut him up. Ha, thought they had a fool. I did agree to give up alimony for him dropping the support.

Now on to the modification of custody that was being heard that day. I had asked that all recording of calls be stopped as I am not afforded that. I also asked that it be restated that I will call my daughter and they will be private between me and her. I also wanted the step-mother removed as supervisor. Well, the lawyers went into the hearing office and were in there for about 10 minutes, then they called my daughter in and she was in there about an hour. When she came out she went over to her father then came to me and said “I want you to come to the football games and come see me play in band competition. I want to see you.” I was so happy I stood and put my arms out to her and she came to me. We hugged and cried in each others arms. I told her I loved her and she said “I Love You Mom”. It was the best moment I could have ever had. I have my daughter and she loves me. After she left my lawyer told me they are ready to make settlement with me and I was surprised at that.

So my life has done a 360 and I am feeling whole again. I know that I am a Survivor and I want to go on and help others because I know the pain and heartache first hand. I will never forget what I have lived through but take from it the experiences to help others going through it and fight for changes.

I stood up and it took a lot and my X now knows I will not back away anymore, and I am not going to live in fear because “Enough is ENOUGH!”

Liz Holst

Action Alert

Madeline's House in Danger of Closing it's Doors...  Read More

Minnesota Court Takes Revenge on Holly Collins... Read More

Action Alert 2

This is a story that I, and so many others, have been following.  Felt that with everything going on within this case at this time, it deserved an Action Alert to gain support for this family.

Hello This is Jennifer (Holly Collins daughter) and this is my update for October 15 2008

Minnesota Court Takes Revenge on Holly Collins

photo ~courtesy of Holly Collins, Holly Collins and her son, Chip
After returning from 14 years of hiding in Amsterdam and resolving her kidnapping case, the expat mother faces a new legal challenge
By Beth Walton Published on October 15, 2008
Just a few weeks after Holly Collins returned to the Netherlands, thinking that she would never have to set foot in Minnesota again, her son, nicknamed "Chip," opened the door of their small home in western Holland and was served legal papers.
Collin's voice shakes as she translates the document from Dutch to English over the phone.  According to the Order for Enforcement, the 15-year-old and his mother are to appear in Hennepin County Judge Charles A. Porter's courtroom today for yet another hearing.  After more than a decade of having no contact with him, Chip's father, Jeff Imm of Zimmerman, wants the boy back.
That night Chip, faced with the fear of being shipped back to a country he has never known and to a father he has no memory of, couldn't sleep.  "He was crying," says Collins.  "He kept saying, 'He won't even visit me and now he is going to rip me out of my school and my family.'  He said, 'Mom, if they take me, can I bring my dog?'"
As she talks, Chip interrupts: "I called him 27 times," the teenager says in the background. (Because he is still under 18, Collins did not allow her son to talk to the press.)
Holly Collins has a long and tangled history with the Hennepin County Family Court, stretching back to the early 1990's when, after a brutal court battle, she lost custody of the two children she had with her ex-husband, Mark Collins.
After the children claimed abuse at the hands of their father, Collins defied the court and fled with them to the Netherlands in June 1994.  She took Chip, who was a baby at the time, along with her.
"What was she going to do with the baby, abandon him?" asks her lawyer, Alan Rosenfeld.  "The child wasn't at risk of abuse from Jeff, but Holly was the primary parent taking care of him, and the best thing was clearly to take him with.  At the time she had legal and physical custody - the courts granted her that."
Earlier that year, Collins had been awarded full physical custody of the infant by Hennepin County Family Court, says Rosenfeld.  Separated from Mark Collins in 1987, Holly had her third child with Imm in March 1993.  At the time of the birth, Imm wasn't interested in custody, Rosenfeld says.  The father was ordered to pay child support amounting to $4,800 a year, totaling $60,000 so far.
Imm did not return phone calls seeking comment.  His lawyer, Valerie Arnold of Tuff & Arnold Law Offices in Maplewood, had little to say about the case.
"This is a tragic situation," Arnold wrote in an email.  "Mr. Imm, as the father of the minor child, feels that having this private family matter covered by the media is not in the best interests of his son."
When Collins and the baby disappeared, Imm went before Judge Porter seeking a new ruling.  Porter reversed custody to Imm, but ordered the father continue to pay child support in his son's absence - the money would go into a trust fund for the child, and could be used to try to locate Chip, though that is no longer necessary.
In 1997 Collins and the children were granted asylum in the Netherlands, where they lived in hiding for the last 14 years.  Late last month, Collins accepted a plea bargain with Hennepin County, which agreed to drop the kidnapping charges in exchange for a lesser plea to contempt of court.  She served her sentence of 40 hours of community service and is currently residing in the Netherlands.
Neither Collins nor Chip will attend Wednesday's hearing, says Rosenfeld.  They only recently returned to the Netherlands and it's just not pratical to arrange travel back to the States on such short notice.
"I can't really characterize what they are doing in court as anything other than holding their breath and stomping their feet," Rosenfeld says of the court order.  "It's very childish of them.  Sending the house a legal document demanding the kid be uprooted from his home, yanked away from the mother, brothers and sisters he loves, the country he lives in.  None of that is something you rationally do if you want to build a relationship...I don't know how they could ever make an argument that this is in the best interest of the child."
For months now, Rosenfeld says, he has been working with the Imm family through their lawyer to restore the relationship between Chip and his father.  Originally, when Rosenfeld thought the kidnapping case would go to trial, he planned visitation between the father and the son during the time the family would be in Minnesota.  But when Collins was offered the plea agreement, "the situation had changed," Rosenfeld says.  "If Holly lived here it would be much easier, but she's in Holland...[Imm] is going to have to travel and he's going to have to make some effort."
Rosenfeld doubts that Wednesday's court hearing will result in Collins losing her son.  For Imm to get custody, he would have to travel to the Netherlands and appeal the case in the Dutch courts.
"They say they want actual custody, but the judge in Minnesota doesn't have the power or authority to give [Imm] that," says Rosenfeld.  "They have to go to the Netherlands to decide whether or not [Chip] should be sent back."
Personal letter from Jennifer (with permission):
My little brother answered the front door a few hours ago (10/08/08) to be served with papers from the State Minnesota coincidentally pertaining to his own custody.  According to the documents, my mother is to turn him over to the Hennepin County Family Court on Wednesday morning, October 15th at 9:15 am and be prepared to relinquish custody.
Even though "Chip" is almost 16 years old, he was crying like a little boy.  On the phone he said to me "How can Jeff F**ing do this when he won't even come visit me one F**ing time?"  I wanted to tell him that everything woudl be alright, but I knew better.
I asked my mom who the judge was.  I couldn't believe it that it was Judge Charles Porter, the same judge who covered up the abuse to me and my brother 16 years ago.  "How can this be happening?" I cried.
"It get's worse" my mom whispered.  Judge Porter personally chose the same Guardian Ad Litem, Mary Laughead who also didn't believe our cries for help.  Attorney Laughead was ordered to suddenly replace Michael London when my mom pleaded in court before Judge Porter to review the tape recordings she had made of us children begging Michael London for help.  The judge refused to listen to the tapes, but replaced the GAL immediately.  It didn't matter, the new GAL was insistent that she would not review the case and she continued in the cover up.
This is the same Judge who held our pediatrician in contempt of court because he blamed the court for not protecting us.  The doctor was forced to apologize to the judge.
My mom's afraid.  My little brother is terrified.  I am not afraid of you Judge Porter!  I will not let you get away with hurting my famiy anymore!
The truth is out and the world is watching you!
I bet the public to help my little brother remain in the only family he knows and trusts.  
Please follow unfolding events on my blog site:

Action Alert 1

Madeline's House in danger of closing its doors
Originally posted on UAADV Blogs on Oct. 2, 2008
Here it is, the second day of DV Awareness Month, and I read about a Domestic Violence shelter that is in danger of closing next month and really in need of help.  The only one in it's area serving 12 counties!!

I had to go to a shelter when escaping my abusive x-husband, and I don't know where my son and I would be right now if there wasn't a shelter available to take us.  We most likely would have stayed, it was our only way out at the time, and most likely would be dead right now.  I had to share this excerpt now, although I have put the full article here because I feel it's so important, because THIS is the reason that DV Shelters MUST stay open and NEED help!

The home is named Madeline's House after Madeline Gerhardt Mitchell. Her abusive husband killed Mitchell ten years ago. While many tried to protect Mitchell the shelters in the northern part of Virginia were all full and unable to accept her and her children. Her husband was able to get to her and shoot and kill her and then shoot and kill himself.
We don't need anymore Madeline Gerhardt Mitchell's, too many are dying already to let a shelter serving so many close it's doors.

This could have been me, this could have been so many others. 

Here it is DV Awareness Month, and I know that times are tough and we are all going over our finances and cutting things down, but every little bit that you can send could truly help this shelter out.  If you could contribute $5 a month towards this shelter, about the price of a pack of cigarettes or a gallon of milk, together we can help keep this shelter going for years to come so that they can continue saving women and children from abuse, and continue to be there for those that need them.

This may not be a shelter in your area since I am sharing this all across the US, but you could be a lifesaver not only to this shelter, but to a Victim that is running for her life, possibly with her children.  Do you truly know something else that your money could be better spent on?

Please, HELP ensure that this DV Shelter does NOT have to close due to financial distress!!!  Please, don't only open your wallets, but open your hearts and send whatever you can.

Please, leave a comment on the original article and show your support with a comment and a donation!
VA - MECKLENBURG COUNTY - The only emergency shelter for domestic and sexual violence victims in south central Virginia is in danger of closing next month, officials said.

Madeline's House was established in 1999 and is operated under the direction of Southside Center for Violence Prevention (SCVP).

The home, which has 33 beds, is located in the Farmville area and serves primarily 12 counties. No one truly needing a safe haven has ever been turned away, Emily Marshall, the executive director, said.
Marshall said, "Madeline's House has suffered many funding cuts over the past several years, yet hasn't turned away any woman or child in crisis. The directors and staff have worked tirelessly to assure these cuts haven't affected critical services for women and children who are fleeing to us for safe haven. But options are running out.

"Don't let Madeline's House doors close," Marshall pleaded. "It just seems that no matter how many options we pursue, it hasn't been enough!" Bernice Hawkins, president of Madeline's House Board of Directors cried. "But we just can't let our doors close! We need help now!"

The board of directors reported that in 2007 Madeline's House provided nearly 3,000 bed night and follow-up services to victims. "This year (2008), we have provided safety and services at an alarming rate," board ember John Milano said. "We have to find a way to stay available to the women and children who need the safe haven and services we can provide. We are appealing to everyone who reads this article to help us by making a donation, no matter how small or great. If we don't have help immediately, unfortunately, we'll have no choice but to close."

The board is pleading for citizens and organizations to consider making a donation now and continuing to support the efforts of Madeline's House. Tax deductible donations can be mailed to SCVP, P.O. Box 563 Farmville, VA 23901 or call 888-819-2926.

"Your donation will help us assure safety and services for victims of domestic and sexual violence who need refuge from their abusers, a secure place where we can help them break the cycle of violence," Marshall said. "We are going to hold on as long as we can. We have had a heart warming response from the community so far."

Marshall noted the efforts of the students at Longwood University to save the home. She said the students organized and went from business to business in the Farmville area seeking support for the shelter. The businesses responded accordingly, Marshall said and as a result on Oct. 1 nearly 30 businesses in Farmville will be donating a portion of their sales to Madeline's House because of the efforts of the college students.
Marshall said she knows that the country is in hard times economically, which relates directly to their decrease in donations. She is seeking to have more people knowing about what Madeline's House does and the number of people they provide services to 365 days a year.

On Atlantic Street in South Hill, in the Mecklenburg Shopping Center, near Subway and The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, Madeline's House has a thrift store. The store accepts tax deductible donations of household goods, clothing, toys, appliances and almost anything else. The store ensures the item is sellable and then places it in the store for purchase.

Patrons to the store can bring in their donation and take a look around at the name brand clothing and other great buys offered on items donated to the store. The store is open Tuesday through Saturday.
Marshall said that one in three women have been victims of domestic or sexual abuse. This amounts to a woman abused or assaulted every nine minutes, Marshall said. She said that 50 percent of men who abuse their wives also abuse their children. According to the statistics provided by Marshall 40 percent of girl's ages 14-17 are abuse by a boyfriend and 80 percent of runaways are from homes where domestic violence occurs.
The board of directors said they are now acting as volunteer staff themselves in order to keep the shelter operational. While they receive some grant funding it does not cover all the expenses that are required to meet the needs of those who must have this safe haven.

Marshall said that it cost approximately $113 per person per day to provide the basic needs. These needs are met in a supportive environment. The costs the home incurs to meet the basic needs of the clients include food, clothing and shelter and such overhead cost as utilities, staff services and insurance.

Some of the services, outside of the basic needs, offered by Madeline's House through SCVP is a 24 hour crisis hotline, transportation to shelter & appointments, food and clothing in a loving and supportive family environment.

The shelter provides personalized case management, which includes individual counseling, support groups and court advocacy.

To meet the needs of those who are in Madeline's House children's activities are provided, training and job seeking skills for the women, financial planning and each case is followed up with after departing the shelter.
They continue to reach out to the schools and communities and provide information on domestic violence and sexual violence to all.

The home is named Madeline's House after Madeline Gerhardt Mitchell. Her abusive husband killed Mitchell ten years ago. While many tried to protect Mitchell the shelters in the northern part of Virginia were all full and unable to accept her and her children. Her husband was able to get to her and shoot and kill her and then shoot and kill himself.

On Friday, Oct. 3 in celebration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October), a vigil will be held in the Roses Shopping Center on East Atlantic Street in South Hill at 7 p.m. This will be one of three simultaneous vigils' to be held throughout Southside. The others will be held at the Madeline's House Thrift Store in Farmville and in Blackstone at Seay Park. Each participant is asked to bring a candle. For more information call 434-292-1077.

Empowerment Technique

Make a list of what you enjoy doing, even if you do not spend much time doing that activity, if you enjoy it then put it on your list. This may seem like the same exercise as last week but this is different. This list would include things like reading, crafting, drawing, etc. Things that you consider doing when you think of having "me" time.

Now gather a few things from this list into one place so that they are handy as you continue on in your self-healing journey. Have these things (like a good book, writing paper, your favorite craft supplies, etc) handy when doing your self-healing exercise each week. If you begin to feel over-whelmed with your exercise, then stop and pull something from the things you gathered ahead of time and spend some time just enjoying that activity.

Return to the exercise later. Either later that day or the next or the next, it doesn't matter when. Remember to work at your own pace throughout all of these exercises.

You may want to put all of the things you gather into one container and if you are the creative type you may want to decorate this as your enjoyment container.

Remember to do at least one thing that makes you feel good each day and add to that one thing you enjoy doing. Taking time to make yourself feel good and to enjoy an activity each day will put you in a better frame of mind to begin healing. Continue throughout to do one thing from each of these lists daily.

This Empowerment Techniques was taken with permission from Tailored Life Coaching

Main Article

The Awareness Behind the Awareness

The following is the little talked about/known signs of abuse, and ideas for DV Victims & Survivors

Subtle Abuses
Donald, a prior abuser helped add content to the subtle abuses listed here, and his view as a prior abuser as to what some abusers mean by them.

Lying – Everyone wants to be their best when meeting someone, yet, it is not good that a anyone lies to you and says what you want to hear in order to get you to like them. While this can be innocent, this is something that abusers do. They learn what you like, and fashion themselves after what you like so that they can get into a relationship with you and gain your love. It’s hard to continue doing this, and most abusers stop and take off their mask after they feel that their relationship with their victim is sealed, and that their victim is “primed” to their abuse. The lying and manipulation will continue throughout the relationship, whenever the abuser feels there’s a need for it and he can profit from it.

Arguing – Abusers like to argue, this is usually his way to test the waters early on in the relationship. By seeing how much he can argue, what he can get away with, and how quickly he can get you to come to his side of the argument or forgive him for an argument that simply started from something trivial, it’s his way of gauging the victims reactions to further abuse later. This can also be used by the Abuser to leave the home, stating that he needs a break or a cool down period, when in reality, many times abusers will use this so that he can go and do what he wants. He will do this mostly if he is into drugs, alcohol, or other things that he’s trying to hide from the victim or would create another argument and maybe prevent him from doing it. Abusers can get mad & hurt as well during the argument, but mostly at themselves for getting into the situation, or getting caught or questioned, and takes it out on the victim.

Alcohol & Drug Use – This encompasses financial, emotional, psychological and sometimes physical abuse. Abusers use this as one of their reasons they abuse. They have a problem, therefore its ok. The truth is, alcohol and drug use do NOT cause an abuser to abuse, but can bring out abusive tendencies that they already have. Many times, as was touched on above, abusers will argue and fight so that they can leave and do their drugs or drink their alcohol if you are trying to prevent them from doing so. They know it’s wrong, and that they are hurting those around them, but their selfishness keeps them from caring about that.

Verbal Threats to Self - “I want to kill myself” “I’ll kill myself if you leave me” “I’ll die without you” When the abuser states something such as this, or close too, he’s testing the Victim to see how much she cares, and what he can get away with. Whether he may feel like it at that point is not important, but what he’s trying to achieve with his victim is.

While an abuser is afraid of loosing their victim in their own twisted reasoning, these are said so that the victim will pity them, so that the focus is taken off of the victims pain and the victim feel sorry for them. So that the victim will say things like “I Love You” “I will never leave you” or “It’s ok” so that their web of control tightens even more around the victim, so that they can use this as another means of controlling her. Many abusers will also go as far as packing their belongings (or making a show of doing so) and saying they are leaving the victim, so as to insight fear into her that they are leaving her, the whole time wanting her to beg them to stay and show them how much she loves them. Because no matter how much they abuse their victim, abusers are also insecure and need their victim to want them, love them, and want her to want him to stay. They test this by pushing the victim away, and rewarding her efforts to have them stay by being who she wants them to be for a time through a honey moon phase.

They want to see how much a victim will take, to put fear into the victim that he’s leaving, so the victim won’t stop him from doing what he wants to do the next time. Also, if children hear, they will help the abuser by crying and trying to convince the victim to let him stay.

Getting Children Involved – Abusers aren’t stupid. They know that any Mother will do anything to keep their kids happy, and protect them from being involved or hearing the abuse. The abusers bank on this fact, and use it whenever they can. Abusers will raise their voices for the children to hear what they have to say, wanting you to quite him down by agreeing with whatever he has to say and doing anything they say so that the kids don’t hear and get involved.

They will say things to the children like “I’m leaving now, you wont have a Daddy anymore” “Have a good life” “Your Mother doesn’t love me anymore” to get the children involved so that they get upset and beg their Mom to let him stay while telling him they love him and crying, giving him what he wanted to begin with.
Abusers will use the children and manipulate the situation with children in any way they can. While being abusive, they don’t care about how the kids feel, if the kids are afraid by their actions, or what the long term affects are on the children because of the abuse. All they care about at that time is getting what they want through whatever means they need too.

Mind Control – Abusers use mind control to put fear into their victim, telling them that something didn’t happen when it did, or that something they said was never said. To many of us, this couldn’t happen to us, because we are in a set of mind that we know what we hear and what is going on around us. With a victim that is broken down, self esteem is shattered, this can truly be a large form of control for the abuser. Victims have been known to come to believe they don’t know how to work the washing machine and dryer correctly without their abuser being there to help them, even though they have done it many years without him. Mind control starts very subtle, but in the end, can break down the fabric of a victim to reduce her into feeling that she can’t do anything without the abusers help.

Build Up – Those of us that have been abused all know when our abuser was building up towards a blow up. We all know the signs: moody, walking heavily, slamming things down, closing doors loudly, talking rudely or snapping at you or the children, or being unusually quiet. Many Survivors still trigger when they hear someone slamming something down or closing a door loudly. This is the abusers way of letting you know that you had better do what they want you to do or that they’ll go off. Many abusers use any reason to go off. This leaves the victim living in fear, not knowing when the abuser may go off next, or for what reason. This also leaves the victim wondering what they could do to make the abuser not go off. The sad thing is, is that no matter what the victim does, the abuser would still finally snap. This is not the fault of not having the dinner done on time, or not cooking it right, or not having the house cleaned enough, or not having sex with them that night. The victim is not to blame for the build ups or the final blow up, because it would happen no matter what. Too many victims feel that they are at fault, when what they don’t understand is that this is a normal cycle for an abuser. Too often you can keep a journal and know when the next blow up will occur.

Verbal Put Downs - “You’re ugly” “You can’t do anything right” “You’re too fat” “You need to loose weight” “You’re too stupid to do that right” Many Survivors agree that the verbal abuse is worse in many ways then the physical abuse. That the scars and the pain from physical abuse heal, but the verbal and mental abuse last much longer, and have invisible scars. Abusers love to kill the self esteem of their victims, making it easier for them to control their victims. They make the victim feel that they don’t deserve better, and that they feel they can’t find another man that would want them as bad as the abuser does. This starts slowly, with small comments that don’t seem out of place. “That dress just doesn’t look right on you” “You should have cooked it this way”, and escalates as the abuse continues and the abuser feels more confident that the victim will accept what he is saying.

The Making Up – “I’m sorry” “I Love You” This is what a victim wants to hear, but it’s the abusers way to continue their abuse. The abuser will try and make the victim feel guilty, by trying to pacify the victim when they know they’ve gone too far. Rarely ever sorry for their actions, but an escape to get the pressure off of them so that they can continue doing what they want too.

During the making up, the abuser will usually state that he wouldn’t have yelled/hit/abused if the victim hadn’t done something wrong. At this point, victims are usually so tired and scared from the fight, they just want it to end, and will agree to just about anything to get it to end. The abuser knows this, and banks on this. The abuser will turn on their charms, and get the victim to forget the abuse as fast as possible so that they don’t have to deal with it.

Suggestions for Victims
If you have call forwarding on your phone, insure that that is disconnected when an abuser leaves the home and relationship so that he cannot forward your calls to his residence to find out who you may be talking too.
Keep a journal of abuse at work, or ask a friend to keep a journal of the abuse for you. One of the main reasons victims do not keep a journal is because if the abuser finds it, the victim pays for it. Keeping a journal at work, or somewhere you visit weekly (even a friends or family member’s house) is something that should be done. If that wouldn’t work for you, ask a friend that you talk too that knows what is going on to keep a journal for you. A journal can later be given for submission in the courts in a Domestic Violence case. This will help keep all the abuse straight, show a pattern of abuse, and insure that nothing is forgotten. A time line is important for the courts to see.

If you are a Victim, tell your friends and family what is going on. Do NOT stay Silent!!!! It’s the silence that will kill you! Your friends and family need to know what is going on, so that when you are in need of help, they can know how to help and when you need it. As Victims, we wear our masks and show the world that we are happy in our relationships and nothing is going wrong. These masks protect us, and make it so that we can continue through the abuse. These masks can still stay on, but take them off whenever it is safe to do so and let those around you know what is going on so that you aren’t alone in the abuse. So that you have support, and so that you will have those that you can turn to when you are ready to leave the abuse behind. Abusers will isolate you so that you have less support, so that you wont know what they are doing is wrong and wont have support in getting out of your situation.

Survivor Issues
Healing from Domestic Violence does take time, it doesn’t happen over night. Unfortunately, against society’s misconception, the abuse doesn’t always stop as soon as the door is closed and the relationship is left. It is very important to get support, and to heal from the past and sometimes current abuse. Here is some issues that we feel need to be shared:

Take Care Of Yourself – Even though it’s hard for many Survivors to understand, we need to take care of ourselves in body and in mind. We can’t heal, be affective in our jobs or taking care of anyone else unless we ourselves have taken the time on ourselves to do so. Many of us feel that we aren’t worth it, or that any time or money needs to be used on the practical things, but we cheat ourselves out when doing this. We NEED to be able to let ourselves know that we are worth that finger nail polish, or a long hot bath at the end of the day with bubbles, a good book, and candle light. In taking care of ourselves, we are then more able to take care of the other things in our lives that need attention.

Get Support – Even years after the abuse we are still healing. Search out for support groups for DV Survivors. Find those that you can talk to that will understand ongoing issues when they happen to arise. Someone you can call if you happen to trigger and need someone to talk too. Don’t kid yourself, healing does take time and can take a life time to achieve, but it also can get better and better as time goes on.

Take time to find yourself before getting into another relationship – Too often we hear Survivors ask if they have a sign on them across their forehead that let’s abusers know that they are potential “Victims”. In many ways, we do!

When we don’t take time after an abusive situation to heal, to find ourselves, to find out what our likes are, to find out what we want in a relationship, and to learn boundaries that we don’t want crossed, we ourselves set ourselves up into getting into another DV situation. While free from the abuse, take time to do all of this, and learn what abuse is. Learn the red flags and the subtle abuses, and learn that you don’t need a man to love you, that you need to learn to love yourself first.

Instead of jumping for the first man that pays attention to you that gives you what you feel you want/need, take time to learn who that person is and what he’s like. Spend more time with him if you feel a connection, but also keep your eyes out for any of the early signs of abuse. If you see any, don’t hesitate to bail out of a relationship! There’s more fish in the sea!

Heal – You have to heal from your past abuse and get on your feet so that you can be a Mom to your children, whether you get visitation or not. When you are healthy, when you are healing, self esteem and confidence goes up, and abuse is less likely to be able to continue to harm you from the abuser.

Make sure you have support – Many times, friends and family will not understand what you are going through. Many times even abuse organizations don’t fully understand, but it is a great place to get local support and be around others that have been abused and may have lost their children to abusers as well. Loved ones do get tired and frustrated about hearing about your situation; most don’t know what to say or how to help. Turn to those that do! Find those that do understand, and will be there to support you with your NCM issues. There are some safe groups out there, ours included. Find safe support, and don’t close yourself away during your struggles.

Document EVERYTHING – Documentation is very important, more so for an NCM that has to constantly deal with an abusive X. Documentation can be used in court, journals and timelines are very important tools that many NCM’s don’t know about.

Teen Issues
Dating Abuse Statistics
· In 2007, the age group with the highest number of domestic and dating violence victims in Texas was 20 - 24 years old. (Texas Dept. of Public Safety - Crime in Texas 2007)
· 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by a dating partner. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)
· 1 in 4 teens in a relationship report enduring repeated verbal abuse. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)
· 1 in 4 teen girls who have been in relationships reveal that they have been pressured to engage in sexual activities. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)
· 62 percent of tweens (age 11-14) who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc) by a boyfriend/girlfriend. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)
· Only half of all tweens (age 11-14) claim to know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)

What Parents, Friends, & Co-Workers need to know about Domestic Violence
Abusers will do everything they can to isolate their Victims. There’s a lot that you can do to help this from happening:

Support your loved one - As hard as it is to listen, as hard as it is to not commit some Domestic Violence of your own against the abuser, your loved one needs you now more then ever. So many times Victims do know that what their abuser is doing is wrong, but will protect their abuser and take up for them. It’s very confusing to Victims, much less family and friends. While letting your loved one know gently that you don’t agree with what is going on, don’t let the abuser know that you are totally against what he’s doing. This doesn’t mean that you have to give the abuser a hug and kiss (shiver) every time he comes over, but to make him feel unwelcomed/unwanted will give him ammunition to use with your loved one as to why she needs to stay away from you.

Keep the lines of communication open with your loved one – This is very crucial. Your loved one needs this outlet more then anything while going through the abuse. Sometimes it’s best to just listen, and tell her things like “You deserve better”, and “I’m here for you” as much as possible. Your loved one needs to know that you still love her/care for her as much as possible, and that you’ll be there to listen whenever she needs to talk. Get her to talk to you as much as possible, even if this means talking to the abuser and playing nice with him, making him think that you see nothing wrong with what is going on, or that you don’t know/see that something is wrong.

Listen and Believe - Too often loved ones don’t want to believe what is going on. Too often loved ones tell the Victim “Oh, he didn’t mean it like that” “He didn’t really do that, did he?” “It couldn’t have really been that bad!” This makes the victim less inclined to talk about what abuse she is suffering. Often times, the victim will tell a loved one something small that is going on, testing what the reaction is, holding back the full extent of the abuse until she is sure that she isn’t going to be put down or blocked out when she tells. Victims need to be believed! Many times this doesn’t happen, and the result is more isolation, and her feeling that she is alone in her abuse.

Document – Documentation can make or break a court case against an abuser, can make whether the abuser gets charged or goes free. Too many times a Victim does not document for many reasons, and may not be in the state of mind to do so. Every time you talk to your loved one and she mentions abusive situations, write it down in a notebook expressly for that. Write down the date, time, if she contacted you by phone or person, what she says, how she sounds, and even what you say. If possible, take pictures of your loved ones bruises. Sometimes Victims won’t feel comfortable with this, so use other reasons to take pictures such as a group picture, or a pretty day. Many times Victims try to hide bruises; don’t point them out directly if she isn’t ready for you to do so, this could make it so that she doesn’t feel comfortable with you seeing her. When going through a DV case, the judge wants to see a pattern, which is where your documentation can come into play.

Be willing to understand her abuse - Too often Victims will see only portions of the abuse, or their feelings about the abuse will come and go. After an abusive episode, they may be very upset, and mad at the abuser, and be ready to say anything and everything bad about the abuser. After the honey moon phase starts, and the abuser sways them back, they will go back to loving the abuser, forgetting what had happened, and sticking up for their abuser again. This is very confusing not only for the Victims, but for family and friends as well. This is also why many Victims go back on average 7 times before leaving an abuser for good.

The fact is, the Victim loves the abuser, many times thinking that only if they could do things better, if they would only love their abuser more, then things would be perfect. They want the man they fell in love with, and the abuser shows that man again during the honey moon phases, showing the victim and giving the victim exactly what she wants.

Too many times family and friends get fed up with these actions, and finally will have nothing to do with the Victim because she does keep going back, or sticking up for the abuser.

During these times, support the victim, and gently steer her towards talking to a DV Advocate, shelter, calling the DV Hotline, getting educated about what abuse is about. Make sure she knows what to do when she is ready to leave, and how to do it safely. In time, with support and understanding, she will leave for good, and she’s going to need a lot of support when she does.

This isn’t saying bend over backwards every time she leaves and being disappointed when she goes back. There are a lot of things that Victims have to do for themselves, but hopefully with friends and family understanding that this is yet another cycle of abuse, that they will be there to support her through all of it.
Abusers don’t want their Victims to have ties of any kind that will make it easier for their Victim to leave. They will always hate and condemn those that speak bad about them, and point out the abusive ways he’s showing. This is an abusers weakness; they don’t like anyone to know that they are abusive, that they aren’t the perfect Father/Husband/Boyfriend they try to portray to the world. Be ready for this, and through it all, make sure that your loved one knows that you know what is going on, and that you will be there to help in any way that you can, even if that just means someone to listen. When a Victim is fully isolated without friends and family, that is the time they are in the most danger, because then the abuser feels that they can do anything and get away with it.

What’s New With UAADV?

UAADV Blogs 

The state blogs are done by the Volunteer State Reps (VSR's) but ultimately fall under UAADV.  None of the state blogs are out there doing their own thing.  Tracy Hommel, UAADV Founder and Mary Morgan, UAADV National Rep. are working together to keep information up for those that do not have state reps yet.  There is also a UAADV News Blog and Teen Blog.

UAADV Peer Support Groups:

Abused Apply Here (AAH) – AAH obtained 33 New Members within the last 2 months. We have 2 members that are currently in hiding safely after leaving their abusers. 1 member is taking steps in leaving an abusive relationship and taking steps towards healing and gaining support.

Non-Custodial Moms Breaking the Silence (NCM-BTS) – NCM-BTS obtained 20 New Members within the last 2 months.

Member Victories

1 Mom has gotten custody of her daughter that was taken by her “X” 6 years ago, whom she searched for in vain for 6 years since he could not be found. Since custody had never been established between them, the system could not help her find her “X” and her daughter. After abusing his current wife and her obtaining an RO against him for herself and her 2 sons, the wife was leaving him and called the Mom of the 9 year old, not wanting to leave her behind in the abusive environment without her to take care of her and protect her. Mother and daughter were reunited thanks to the Step-Mother. At court, the Mom of the 9yr old now has joint custody with the “X”, no visitations until the GAL assigned can submit his findings. The Step-Mother also got joint custody of her 2 sons, with supervised visitations at the daycare 2x a week, and 2 weekends at the Library and McDonalds supervised by the grandmother.

Way to go Momz for protecting those kids!

1 Mom regained 50/50 custody; 3 Momz regained visitation with their children; 1 Mom has gotten custody of her child after 4 years of off and on visitations (visitations were being complicated by the “X”); 1 Mom is now allowed visits a little, and has been without visits for several months; 1 Mom has had her supervised visitations lifted and is now unsupervised with over nights allowed.

Congratulations Momz!

Member Struggles

Being an NCM isn’t without its struggles. We have 3 Momz without electricity at this time due to having to pay ridiculous amounts of child support. 1 Mom has received eviction papers because of the inability to pay rent due to the ridiculous amount of child support she must pay. With the economy the way it is, many are struggling, more so those that are paying ridiculous amounts of child support which leaves them unable to afford to live. One Mom is paying over $400 a month for her child support on one child, with the father making over $70,000 a month himself, with her only bringing in a little over $600 a month with her disability before child support is paid. This is truly an issue………….

Angels Outreach Ministries (AOM) – AOM obtained 4 New Members within the last 2 months.

We have 1 new member that is truly taking the steps necessary towards healing and reconnecting with God. We also have a member that has given up her anger towards God and has come to terms with her abuse within the last 2 months. We are very Proud of these members!

Some of the members on the AOM group are participating now in an on-line Bible Study. The group is now in the second Lesson in “10 Reasons To Believe In A God Who Allows Suffering”. It is a very informative, and we believe a very important study. We are using “Christian Courses” studies in case you would be interested yourself in taking a look, and feel free to join AOM and do the studies with us! We feel that in order to heal from the trauma that you have been through, you must have a belief to hold on to. This is just one way we are being guided to help those get in better touch with their beliefs and take the steps towards healing.

Wings of Hope - Crafty Angels (WOHCA) – WOHCA obtained 2 New Members within the last 2 months.

WOHCA members are still working on making or buying totes for the Christmas Project. These totes will be filled with items that shelter residents need or Christmas presents at the members discretion. If you would like more information, or would like to contribute to this project, please contact Mary Morgan at Thank You to those that have sent in bags and goodies to go into these totes! It is truly appreciated by us, and we’re sure the victims that receive them will appreciate them as well.

This month, WOHCA will be donating a crocheted afghan to a 7 yr old that lost her Mother last month when she was gunned down in cold blood by her ex-boyfriend in the parking lot of her apartment building, on her way to work. In conjunction with Sheila’s Shawls, a Shawl will also be donated to the Mother of the murdered victim. Pictures and more information will be available on the WOHCA blog when items are finished.

Graphics for DV Awareness (GDVA) – GDVA obtained 1 New Members within the last 2 months.

One of our members made a YouTube video for Teen Dating Violence. Check it out!

We will also be sharing some graphics from this group under the “Survivor Made DV Awareness Graphic” section, and 2 were shared under the “Action Alert”.

UAADV Advocates (Advocates) – The Advocates group obtained 2 New Members within the last 2 months.

We have new members that have dealt with Teen Dating Violence, unfortunately loosing loved ones in the process. We welcome them, and all Advocates that are willing to share to help build a better tomorrow.

Empowered Teen

This month we would like to share with you what the UAADV Teen Blog is up to!

We need to reach out to the Teens and Empower them so that they don't end up in a Domestic Violence situation.  This blog is one of the ways in which we are doing that.  Geared to Teens to give them an outlet, and a place to learn age appropriate lessons in dating situations.

"Since this is the first weekly write-up I would like to explain what this blog is for. I will be talking about teen dating and relationships. I will give the reader scenerios I or my friends have encountered (aided by pictures!) and then I will give you a question emailed to me by a reader..."  Read More

Dear Chrysalis

Letter from Shelter Worker

I’m working with a victim of domestic violence that I could use some support in helping. She is a Mother of 2 children, and even after being out of the abuse for some time now, doesn’t seem to want to do anything for herself or her children. She just doesn’t know how to be a Mom, doesn’t know how to live outside of the abuse, and I’ve run out of ideas in helping her. Was wondering if anyone else out there has had a case like this, and would have some tips or resources that I could look into in helping her get to where she needs to be. She has time left in the shelter, but I know that at some point, she has to be able to leave and support her and her children by herself, with no family or friends, and I want to make sure she gets to that point before she does leave. Any advice or resources that can be shared would be appreciated. At this point, no one else really knows what to do either.

Letter from Victim

I need help but don’t know what to do or where to go. My abuse is not that bad, he doesn’t hit me and doesn’t leave bruises, just yells at me a lot and scares me. I have 3 kids with him, and he is a really good Dad to them most of the time. It’s just me. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I don’t know why he yells at me so much and calls me names all the time. He doesn’t usually do it in front of the kids but I know they can hear. They act different after he yells at me, quiet.

I don’t think that I need to leave, can’t anyway, don’t have the money to. I just need to know what to do. What can I do to make it better? I’m afraid to leave, he’s always told me that I can leave, but I have to leave the kids with him. I don’t have the money to support them and haven’t worked in 8 years, and don’t want to leave my kids. I don’t want to stop being a full time Mom to them. I’m just so confused, and just don’t know what to do anymore.

*These letters have been posted with expressed permission.*

If you would like to submit a letter to gain support and advice from our readers, please write to .   Please insure that you add that you are giving your permission to share your letter on the next issue of Le Chrysalis.