Say NO to abuse. Don’t leave yourself unfinished. Inspired by business executive and author, Seth Godin. Read the post here.
If you don’t have time to clean up, you don’t have time to cook.
Professionals understand that the project is the whole project, not simply the fun or urgent or interesting part of the work.There are countless productive shortcuts along the way. But not finishing the project isn’t one of them.
I have been reading Seth’s posts for a whole year and I am amazed that his posts take the simplest things and make them mind blowing business advice.The above post made me realize this:If your lover/husband/anyone feels they have the right to hit you then you better feel you have the right to leave.
You see, when we stay inside of abuse we leave ourselves unfinished.We were sent into the world to work on ourselves and complete the work we need to do and accepting abuse is not part of a success scenario.
Getting hot or getting cold or getting burned is a never ending game with abusers.
I love a hot shower and I realize that it is a privilege to have both water and to have it hot.
This post is not about water privilege but I will use the mechanism of the water heater to illustrate some abusive behaviors. If I take a shower about 30-40 mins after a family member I can usually get a little bit of tepid water that is still in the pipes and if I forget that this is simply left over from the last person and jump in without thinking, sooner rather than later, I will be shocked with gallons of cold water coming out of the shower head. I have to have the presence of mind to allow the water to heat up again so that all the water I need or want is at the temperature that is comfortable for me.
If I am living with an abuser and he comes home in a good mood, it’s probably left over warmth from a work friend or his girlfriend and if I pretend that his “ warmth” has anything g to do with me, then I am in for a big shock. I might find myself saying things like “but you were in such a great mood” what happened?
The answer will be that the warmth left over from his friend has run thru his veins and his emotional distance has reappeared. If I push and push for the “warmth” to return, he may jump from ice cold to scalding hot in seconds. Scalding hot could look like punching, screaming, cursing or worse.
When we normalize abusive behaviors and pretend that we are strong enough to fix the chronic dysfunction, it’s like pretending that we don’t know that after the cold water runs out, the hot water will appear and we will get burned. I do not mean to suggest that dealing with these mood swings is easy, but pretending that the mood swings are not happening and continually bending over backwards and tying ourselves up in knots trying to figure out what we did wrong, it’s ignoring reality.
We need help and advice and we must be steady enough and grounded enough to look for it.
Can I tell you a secret?
Well, after I tell you, it’s no longer a secret! Here it is…I AM SICK of saying the same thing.
The ONLY thing that remains crucial to the health and welfare of the world and that is END VIOLENCE to WOMEN and GIRLS.Are you sick and tired of reading these messages from me? I would expect that you are. It’s Ok..I know you don’t mean you are sick and tired of me as a person.
If you are reading this, you probably like me. Know that I am also sick and tired of asking people to dissect their lives and find the ways where the violence is silent and insipid.
What areas? Here are just a few…Telling your daughter to lose weight because no boys will like her. Telling your self boys will be boys.Allowing your spouse to disrespect you.Allowing yourself to accept disrespect. Making excuses for religious institutions to treat women as second class citizens. Repeating lies like “ she must have been asking for it, look at how she was dressed” when you see or read about sexual and physical violence.
I could go on and on, but you are smart enough to get the idea. Take an action to end violence, please.
We teach young kids to take chances from a young age. We encourage them to take the next step and when they stumble we cheer them on. We try as best we can to allay the fears of middle schoolers who are afraid of a multitude of things, some real and some imagined. We ask our teenagers to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves. We recognize when humanity rises to challenges like defeating the Hitlers of our world and tearing down the stupid Berlin Wall and the greatly needed work that so many non- profits do in our ever-closer world.
The thing that still surprises us is when a BRAND like Nike uses controversy to do the right thing (Colin Kaepernick) and when Gillette puts out an ad calling for the males of the species to Be the best.Some people are very upset and vowing to never buy their product again. I am sure many new customers will. I plan to buy razors today to give as gifts!
Some of people are saying that their men are “fine.” Yes, many men are fine and many need to be reminded to be better. We can all be better.
If 1 in 3 women is being abused then as many men are committing the crimes. Visit UN Women for statistics if you want to challenge the above statistic.
We need more brands to use their powerful voices to move the needle on this issue. Now if only the feminine hygiene people could throw their weight behind ending violence to women. Maybe they can put ads on the packaging?
Well, until they do, the rest of us must use the platform we have.
My I phone was working well one minute and the next minute it was not working well.
Being the kind of self-blaming person that I am, I immediately assumed that I was doing something wrong. The phone was still making and receiving calls and I could still text and email and I could do an Internet search but when I clicked on a link, the phone would freeze. I recognized the “freezing,” but could not fathom what was going on. I assumed that I was at fault and all of a sudden I had forgotten how to use hyperlinks.
Why would I blame myself so quickly about something so “out of my control?”
The answer to this question is easy. I am used to being blamed for things that do not go well.
In my family of origin, it was always my fault if one of my younger siblings did something wrong. I was the oldest and it was MY responsibility to keep my siblings in line. No one had ever asked me if I wanted the job, I was simply given the responsibility without the power. In my own home I was also blamed if things did not turn out as they should have. I cooked the wrong food if the kids did not eat, or my cooking was not good enough. If a family member became upset with me and I defended myself, then I was somehow to blame for the rift in the family.
People would tell me, “That’s just how the family is.” But no one ever told me, “Well, we know how YOU are, and the thing that happened was NOT right.” Finally I got sick and tired of being blamed for things that were not my fault, and I began to set some boundaries. I have become really good at setting boundaries with others, but not so good with setting boundaries with myself.
Hence, I still succumb to self-blame.
This was the trap I fell into when my phone began to freeze at unexplained moments. I finally took the phone to the Apple Store and sheepishly asked if they knew what was happening. I never expected them to have any answers. I was wrong. The Apple helper immediately recognized the issue and said he could fix it. It would take five minutes. It was a software glitch that was causing the freezing behavior.
I was shocked. I was sad. I was sad because I had so easily accepted the blame of the phone issue. This issue that had absolutely NOTHING to do with me. I hope I remember this lesson the next time I accept blame for something that is not my fault. I encourage you to look at the blame that is freely given to you, and the blame you readily accept. You may even grab blame from others because it’s more comforting to put yourself down than build yourself up.
I hope you give yourself permission to investigate the relationship you have with blame.
Some of you are wondering what our Caregiver Project is all about. Well, let’s start by defining the word, “Caregiver.” There are a few variations of the definition, but this is the one that best fits our mission:
“Relatives, friends, or professionals who provide a wide range of paid, or unpaid care to dependent relatives, friends and/or people needing physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual support. Caregiving is the action of providing care to these individuals.”
Caregiving can include:
Emotional and social support (e.g. visiting, transportation, talking about emotions)
Finding and accessing services (e.g. housing, medical supports)
Behavioral support (e.g. communicating effectively, managing challenging behaviors)
Financial help (e.g. financial support, managing finances)
Practical assistance with basic activities of daily living (e.g. housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation)
Personal care (e.g. help with monitoring medication, bathing)
Physical help (e.g. assistance with movement, supervision, direct medical care)
Overarching all of these activities, caregiving is the assumption of responsibility for providing care, along with the concern, worry and emotional involvement this entails.
Why is ILF involved with the Caregivers at women’s shelters?
Early last year, the founder of ILF, Indrani Goradia, began talking with the staff of shelter facilities who were caring for victims of violence. They began sharing their concerns for the high turnover rate of staff within their organizations, and the burnout that naturally happens due to the nature of this work.
Indrani quickly went into action. She knew if we were losing these passionate people who work with victims of violence, we could lose the shelters, or cut the number of women, men, and children who need be housed. Now, how could ILF help? We can train and educate the shelter staff (the Caregivers) how to keep from burning out.
What we teach the Caregivers?
Our trainers are teaching the caregivers about different tools they can use for self-care, and lead a more balanced life.
We educate caregivers on how to recognize their own triggers of shame, guilt, and humiliation that effect their work and personal lives.
We help them improve their personal boundaries, and how to say “No” to things that compromise their well-being.
And we remind them that they matter, that they are loved, and that they are “seen,” for the work they do.
Where can we teach the Caregiver Project?
We can send our trainers to anywhere in the United States, and some areas of Canada.
We teach in women’s shelters and organizations that directly have contact with victims of violence.
We are currently training ILF trainers all over the world to help us reach the caregivers in other countries.
How much does the training cost?
We offer the Caregiver Training at NO COST to the shelter or organization. We do, however, rely on donations to fund the 2-day training class. The training requires two certified ILF trainers, and the cost for travel, transportation, food, supplies, and pay for the entire training is approximately $5,000.00.
How can you help us with the Caregiver Project?
You can SPREAD THE WORD! Use social media, email, or mention us at a party or event. (facebook.com/indranislight Twitter: @indranis_light)
You can BECOME AN ILF TRAINER! We will be offering the Train-the-Trainer Course every year to certify trainers to teach our ILF curriculum to their own communities and shelters.
You can DONATE! Here is where you can donate ANY AMOUNT to help our Caregiver Project, or any other area of our mission to end domestic violence.
We need your feedback.
What do you think of the project?
Is this something you would love to support?
How would you like to support us?
What more could we do?
If you have already supported our mission in any way, we want to extend our deepest gratitude. If you would like to do more, or maybe you haven’t taken the step to support us yet, please reach out to our Director of Education and Training, Amy Dier, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be more than happy to talk with you about your options.
I know how to use a pump at the gas station. I have been doing it for 33 years. So when I pull up at a pump, exit my car, open my gas tank and insert my credit card, I KNOW what to expect.
This is what happens
Is this credit or debit? Push the button next to the choice.
Enter Zip code on the keypad below I punch in the Zip code that I have had for 20 years!
I know what happens next ….
The screen tells me to fill up with the fuel of my choice…
Except when it does NOT and kicks me back to the “Insert Card Here” screen.
Oh, I think to myself I must have made a mistake, my brain says, you did not make a mistake… But the screen tells me to start again, so I start again.
Credit or debit?
Enter Zip code.
Screen again kicks me back to “Insert Card here.”
Dear Reader, now I am perplexed, so I try again 3 more times and on the third time I slow down my process at a s n a i l’s pace. And I am intentional about each choice and I read the screen out loud, so I look like a crazy person but I am already feeling quite crazy!
I begin to enter the Zip code
Let’s say it’s 12345 I enter 1
The screen says
1 I enter 2
The screen says 12 I enter 3
The screen says
YES you read that right I enter 3 again
The screen says 12 I enter 3 4
The screen says 124 but it should say 1234 Oh, I see, the fault is in the screen and the system NOT with me.
Jump into the car, go to another pump and now we are good to go.
As soon as I get into the car, I make notes to myself so I can remember to write a blog about what is and is not our fault.
This is what I wrote…
“Gas station keypad bells and whistles work but numbers are wrong. ”
It occurred to me that this is often what happens when there is miscommunication that often leads to violence.
Person A says ONE
Person B hears Won
Person A says TWO
Person B hears TOO
The sounds are the same but whatever person B is hearing makes NO sense at all…
Who won what? Somebody else also won something, somebody else, won too?
Person A continues to speak and says THREE.
Person B is still wondering about who won what and who else was there and what did they win too…
Person A says EIGHT
Person B hears ATE
Who won what, who ate what, what the heck is going on?
We must be able to recognize situations where things LOOK like they work, or should work, but in reality things are really quite broken on the inside.
We cannot know that the brand new shiny man approaching us is broken on the inside or that he has a tendency to hit and curse at his “loved” ones because they don’t follow his commands.
Why do I use the words “command?”
I use the word Command, because a true question allows the responder to say a full and complete NO without need for explanation or guilt.
When we say NO, and the receiver of that NO becomes enraged and abusive, it is exactly like that electric screen at the gas station… You have input a value, in this case a NO, and the person who is hearing the NO, cannot receive it or process it, and things get crazy.
Something is broken in that person AND and it is NOT your job to fix it.
It may be your job to RUN!
I do hope that this makes sense to you, let me know what you think.
She was only 16 or 17 years old. I had just given a short presentation to a group of students and I asked for questions.
She was brave.
She asked what she could do after she had been beaten, and still had to stay in the house.
My heart hurt for her. I knew her pain at a cellular level. I knew her well. I WAS her. I remember being beaten so badly and having welts all over my body, and having to dry my tears. I was told to “go wash your face and when you come out I better not see any crying, you asked for that beating.”
Of course, dear reader, I did not ask for any beating. I had made some childish mistake and I was whipped like I had murdered someone. I remember going to the bathroom, and I was not allowed to shut the door, the abuser needed to “see” that I was not going to have any more “crocodile tears.” I had to suck up all my pain and come out smiling like a good girl. This behavior lasted well into my 50’s.
Don’t let them see you cry those crocodile tears. “They don’t care “…was the voice in my head.
To this day, I still have a hard time owning my pure emotion and I have to fight really hard to not push them down, allow them to morph into anger or rage, or blame. It will probably be a life long lesson. Some days I win and some days I lose.
I told the young lady to try to find a place of solitude in her home and tell herself that one day, she will be out of the house and the abuse will stop.
She could not tell her parents, her parents would be angrier that she “embarrassed the family,” and she would be beaten even more. I told her to use school as a respite. I wish I had someone to tell these things to me. I did not. I had no one to tell me that the abuser was wrong, even though they were caregivers, and said they were beating me because they loved me.
They were wrong. They were telling lies.
We do not hurt what we claim to love.
I deserved love and attention and guidance, not rage and anger and beatings. I have a clear memory of being about 12 years old and kneeling at the side of my bed, praying. My abuser came into the room and asked what I was praying for, and I said for strength. The abuser was pleased.
Yes, I was praying for strength, but strength to live in my hellhole called my childhood.
If I could not get the strength, I prayed that God would take me that night because I could not go on. I was praying to die, at 12 years old. I was not taken, so I guess I got the strength …… and that strength has been parlayed into the work I do now. We are resilient beings. We can stand a lot of pain. If you are in a hellacious situation, and you are an adult, reach out to your local shelter for confidential help. Even if you don’t leave, there are services you can access. They can help you with a plan.
There are people who care that you are in pain.
If you know a child living in a hellacious home, try to be a point of comfort to that child. They need to know you will keep their confidences and that you are a safe place to lay some burdens.
Be that safe place for someone. Someone needs you.
How has my personal story been sitting with you so far? My hope is to help you begin your journey of healing shame, and become the activist you desire to be! Meanwhile, I’m taking a DEEP BREATH. What I’m about to tell you will help me “Live-A-Brighter-Life.” This is the vulnerable place that Brené Brown talks about. This is the place where Indrani Goradia encourages me to be brave.
So, in the Part 1 blog I slightly touched on my story of being raped as a young teenager. As a young girl, I was walking tall, confident, and very secure in myself as I entered into the high school scene. I was involved in all of the sports, highly regarded in my church, played many instruments in our school band, and never broke “the rules.” My parents were known as responsible and loving people, who were living the blue collar “American Dream.” But as we know so often, many of these kinds of families are hiding a secret. Our secret was I had an older brother who was suffering from his own demons of a mental illness and drug abuse. This was back in the 70’s and 80’s when families rarely talked about their private lives. As you can imagine, I made sure I was the “good little girl,” and wanted to make sure I never disappointed my parents, my community, or my church.
In my youth, I was taught that being a “good little girl” meant that you should help people, and do the things God would want you to do here on earth. I thought that was a reasonable request, so I set out doing my best to do JUST that. I had found and befriended a teenage boy who was older than me, and living in a challenging home situation. I continued a friendship with him against my father’s wishes. You see, my parents had some kind of gut feeling about this boy that I wasn’t aware of. So (on a rare decision to disobey my father) I decided to go to this friend’s house and invite him to church. This is where my nightmare began, and did not end for 30 years.
Many of you reading this article right now can completely relate to this story. Certain feelings are stirring up in you, and you can understand the rush of trauma I was experiencing during and after I was raped. Some of you have been raped, sodomized, or sexually abused in your life. You know the feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation, denial, anger, confusion, betrayal, uncertainty, and grief about the loss of innocence that was taken from you. The nightmares have been haunting you for years, and your entire existence revolves around this suffering. And then the biggest question of your lifetime…. Do you tell anyone what happened to you?
I made it home somehow that horrific day, crept into the shower, and felt frozen in my body. I made the painfully conscious decision that I could not tell my parents, or report what had happened. I had disobeyed my parents, and “this is what I deserved.” I told my best friend at the time, and throughout the years I have felt obligated to tell my partners. My parents found out just a few years ago about my rape, and even after a 30-year career in law enforcement and private investigations, I could not NAME my feelings about what had happened to me.
It’s been almost four years since I received the opportunity to start REALLY healing from my rape. When I began to tell my story, the grip it had on me began to release.
What story is gripping you tight? What story is holding you hostage? I had not been open to therapy…. Ever! But through the encouragement and help of people I trusted, I began to see a therapist for my PTSD.
At Indrani’s Light Foundation, we encourage our community to reach out to the people they trust if they need help. In module 4 of the “Live-A-Brighter-Life” workshop series, we teach about “Finding Resilience.” Indrani teaches that separating and insulating yourself from others is a petri dish for shame. Brené Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly,” is my new Bible now, and as I continue to teach Indrani’s “Live-A-Brighter-Life” curriculum, I continue to heal my shame.
Part 4 of my blog series is coming up next. If you’ve been a victim of discrimination, or have ever been shamed or treated differently because of your race, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other situation, I encourage you to keep following my blog series. I lost my beloved career because I was a woman, and a lesbian. I will talk about how I coped with this loss, when the grieving process began, and how I have come to understand this trauma.
With love & light,
Donate to Indrani’s Light Foundation
Your donation will be used towards eradicating gender violence, training community leaders and sharing behaviour-change tools with people who are ready to leave violence behind and create a brighter, more peaceful world.