Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mackenzie Phillips Speaks Out

I am very proud of Mackenzie for speaking out. Of course I am...For any survivor to Speak Out about their abuse - it is for others to hear and to find help.

What has come to the forefront of my mind during this past week is, "What is going on in the mind of some of my relatives" ~ ~ Mackenzie's story is all too familiar...

Oh, how I would love to communicate with certain individuals about the past 30 years during this media opportunity! But, not every survivor wants to talk. I understand this.

I have often wondered how "they" are through all these years.

Are "they" healing? Have they raised children to have healthy relationships? Did they break the cycle of abuse? I do not know the answers to any of these questions.

But I do pray that God, and the power and determination of other Survivors have helped them along the way!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pure Determination

That's what it is...Pure determination...self-examination...wanting to be happy...that is how I found my inner strength to help establish who I actually am!

No one else could do it for me. No one else wanted to! I had no support growing up...So, for those of you that feel alone, just know this.. you are NOT alone. I used to think so..There are many survivors out here that you can lean on. But you have to want to be happy for YOU - no one else.

I am a SURVIVOR who has taken my personal story to thousands. I have helped those I know who are suffering and are afraid to ask for help. I hope to avoid what happened to me from happening to others.

My life took an unexpected turn at the age of fourteen; my uncle raped me. For the next 11 years, my life became a living hell. My parents did nothing about the rape, they divorced, I was sent to a boarding school, I later married an alcoholic who physically and emotionally abused me, then after divorcing him, I later was engaged to a man who almost murdered my son after abusing me for two years.

I took these experiences worked through them to reach the level of a true survivor. I am active in my community speaking at colleges, high schools, middle schools and church groups. I provide workshops at conferences and to several groups of "at risk" children throughout the area.

I am also dedicated to numerous organizations to the prevention of Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse and Child Advocacy. Some of these include, but are not limited to, RAINN - where I am on the Speakers Bureau, Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley, where I am the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator. My son and I were also named the "Speakers of the Year", 2003-2004, by Women in Distress in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

...Pure Determination...30 years and going strong!

Married to Law Enforcement - Healthy Relationships?

Recently a wife has been reported missing. Her husband was a police sergeant for 29 years. He is under suspicion for her disappearance. His prior wife was found dead in a bathtub. There were 18 domestic violence calls made to the house within a two-year period with the prior wife. Is this a typical marriage for those in law enforcement?

It is well known that the stress of police work takes its toll on family life. The stress this job produces can certainly disrupt the normal flow of any marriage. However, it would be a mistake to write that police officers have more problems than people in other professions. Because of the nature of police work, the amount of unresolved stress from wherever it came from is a critical matter. Unrelenting, excessive stress has a deteriorating effect upon judgment, emotional control, logical thinking ability, and accuracy of perception. In most jobs, the deterioration of these faculties in a worker will have no great consequences. For a police officer, such a situation could become a matter of life and death.

A police officers marriage, like any other marriage, needs a strong foundation, trust, commitment, honesty, and a lot of patience for the spouse. A typical marriage is work in itself to keep strong and healthy. Add in strange hours, working on holidays and birthdays, court time, and being called-in at all hours, increases the stress level exponentially. The spouse needs to understand they will be working with prostitutes, drug addicts, murderers, etc., and don’t forget the possibility of those drive-by shootings. Oh yes, and of course, the domestic disputes are well known to be the most dangerous calls for the police to respond to. If you feel you can handle this and much more, and be the supportive spouse, you have a chance at having a healthy marriage with a law enforcement individual.

There can be numerous effects from being married to law enforcement. Often time’s partners will argue about the long hours one is working. Because of those long hours, the spouse needs to be caught up on their sleep, so in turn doesn’t have much time with the family. This adds a lot of pressure to the other spouse and can cause resentment and could also lead into depression. Resentment could also be caused from not spending quality time with one another. They married the law enforcement spouse because they wanted to be with that person, not be continually waiting at home. Being in charge of everything for that person instead of being with that person is not what they had planned on when they said, “I do.”

If you have children, these effects can trickle down to them, if not handled appropriately. I have seen this happen all too frequently. It is up to the adults to handle these situations properly. The children of these marriages did not ask to be brought into that environment. It is up to the parents to provide safe, nurturing homes.

Your spouse choose law enforcement for their life’s work. Law enforcement will be the family mistress until retirement. The spouse who is in law enforcement, however, should also recognize the fact that since they have chosen this profession, it places large demands on the family. The family sacrifices a lot of their time and activities with that parent. Additionally, the demands that are placed on the other spouse also grow. They must take over additional household chores, be ready to change plans immediately, etc.

Chances are the police sergeant mentioned at the beginning of this essay would have had the same kind of relationship with his spouse no matter what type of profession he choose. It seems to this author that he is a controlling, manipulative, and over confident individual. When the stresses of the job are thrown into the relationship, it probably didn’t help any situation in their marriages.

We (the spouses) are the ones the men and women talk to every night after a long shift. We are the ones they tell of their fears, feats, and frustrations. We work hard to create a strong foundation at home for our families. Moreover, we must keep it all together with a smile, when all we want to do is smother them in a protective hug, just as we do to our children when they get hurt.

Prior to any marriage, communication is key. Know what you are getting into if you are going to get married into law enforcement. My years as a law enforcement wife have been the best years of my life. Not because my husband was a detective. But because my husband is who he is inside, not for what he did for a living. If two individuals do not love one another, do not have faith, commitment, and the desires for the relationship, it will not be healthy. Just like any other relationship in any other profession. My husband gave to the community every day wearing his badge as he walked out the door. There isn’t anyone more proud of my husband than his wife. But ask me if I am happy that he retired after 30 years! (this last paragraph - updated - my husband recently retired from LE!!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

Know Respect
Do you respect each other’s opinions, decisions, and boundaries?
Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries. Respect means that one partner doesn’t push the other in to doing things that he or she is not comfortable with, such as drinking, using drugs, and sexual contact. Respect also means that a partner appreciates who the other person is as an individual and does not try to change his or her partner or control the way he or she acts, dresses, or does. Mutual respect is an essential component every healthy relationship.

Know Equality
Do both of you have equal say in the choices made about the relationship?
As an equal partner in a relationship, both of you need to have equal say on everything – from the types of activities you do together, the people you hang out with together, the sexual contact you engage in, to the amount of time you spend together. If one partner makes all the decisions in your relationship it is not a healthy relationship.

Know Individuality
Do you encourage your friends to have other friends and activities?
In a healthy relationship friends encourage each other to be themselves; after all, being an individual is what makes you you. Individuality is what attracted your friends to you in the first place. As a good friend you should encourage your friends to maintain their individuality. Support your friends in doing the things that they love – sports, music, academics, etc. – maintaining friendships with people other than yourself, and having their own sense of style. Remember, it’s the differences in people that make them interesting.

Know Safety
Are your relationships the places where you feel safest of all?
In healthy relationships partners feel safe both emotionally and physically. Emotional safety means that you feel comfortable being you – expressing your opinions, having feelings, and enjoying activities and people that you like – without fear of being made fun of or put down. Physical safety means that you are not being hit, slapped, punched, restrained, or being forced to engage in unwanted sexual activity, or threatened with any of the above. If you do not feel physically or emotionally safe in your relationship, you are not in a healthy relationship.

Know Support
Is your boyfriend or girlfriend concerned for you and want what is best for you?
In healthy relationships both partners care for and support each other. Your partner should want you to succeed in school and other activities you may participate in. For example, your partner should understand if you need to miss his or her basketball game to study for a big test; at the same time, you should encourage your partner and support him or her to continue having fun and playing basketball. If you don’t feel like you are being supported in your relationship, it may not be the best relationship for you.

Know Acceptance
Do you pretend to be someone you aren’t to keep a relationship going?
In healthy relationships both partners accept each other for who they really are – including religious background, friends, activities they enjoy (both together and apart), and each individual’s sense of style. You shouldn’t have to change who you are, or compromise your beliefs to make someone like you

Know Trust
Are your relationships built on honesty?
Honesty and trust are the cornerstones of any healthy relationship. If you have ever caught your friend or dating partner in a huge lie, you know that it takes time to rebuild your trust in him or her. You should always be honest in a relationship because it strengthens the relationship and builds trust and there is no way to have a healthy relationship with out trust. Partners in healthy relationships choose to trust in each other – for example, a partner believes the other when he or she says they are at the mall with friends and the partner doesn’t demand proof. If your partner doesn’t trust you and give you the benefit of the doubt, you may not be in a healthy relationship.

It's SO Worth It!

I stayed late at work last night to wait for one of my volunteers (she's awesome - she is helping me out with one of my upcoming DV/SA projects for the October awareness!!)...Anyway...she thanked me again for the work that I do, and my presentation that I give to volunteers during my training...she mentioned that it meant so much to hear "my story". She wishes she had known of a Women's Center when she was going through turmoil in her life years ago...We talked for a few moments...Imagine THAT - she thanked ME - She's a volunteer helping ME with a project!!! lol However, I did see what she was saying, but, folks, I am so in the weeds this time of year, you can't imagine how much I appreciate volunteers help!!

After all these years working with volunteers and survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, it still amazes me how much I love my work!

I was SO meant to be on this earth doing what I do!

One Voice

Just One Voice
Singing in the darkness
All it takes is ONE VOICE
Singing so they hear what's on your mind

And when you look around you'll find
There's more than One Voice
Each and every note another octave
Hands are joined and fears unlocked
If only One Voice would start on its own
We need just One Voice facing the unknown
And that One Voice would never be alone

It takes that One Voice
....Barry Manilow