Photographer as Witness: A Portrait of Domestic Violence

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briefly, on the subject of domestic abuse

wrongreaction

This is, unfortunately, another one of those posts that needs this particular disclaimer: I am using these specific gendered nouns and pronouns in this post because I am responding to a specific situation that society seems to have in mind a lot these days, which is a situation that follows a certain stereotype. I am very much aware that intimate partner violence is by no means limited to this sort of scenario in any aspect. Now, that being said…

 

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of sob stories from people about, “waaaah! I tried to step in when a stranger was abusing his wife/girlfriend, and she turned on me!See how awful/ungrateful/stupid/crazy women are?! I was helping her! NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED BAWWWWWW.”

Well, here’s the nub and gist of my response, and it’s actually much the same as my response to many other things that I’ve previously…

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“Write, write, write” – a Recovery Writing 101 exercise

Backup_of_RW 101 coverWriting about the sexual damage a survivor struggles with can be tedious, no matter if it happened to you or me.  We don’t like to talk about it and none of us want to.  It’s a hushed topic in the washroom, or a private confession in Facebook.

However, on my book blog, it is discussed frequently.  If you are here, and you read the entire post, chances are you are a woman in recovery or are close to one.

The blog is devoted to women in recovery, and yes it includes erotica because most women after abuse are terrified of physical intimacy.

We all crave it, we all want to be touched and loved, but so many of us shut down after this crisis to our femininity.   Some of us never have sexual intimacy again with another person – or worse, we objectify ourselves – and that is a crushing blow to us as females.  We cannot get back to one of the best parts of us that separates us from the boys.  Our beauty, our grace, and our sexuality.. stripped in an instant that lasts forever if we allow it.

Everyone’s perspective of erotica varies.  For some, it might have answered the question of exactly what happened under the covers when she gently closed the door… and for yet others, the word erotica = the Satan Beast at hand.

Pornography steps into the realm of meaningless, casual lust with no strings.  It does not really address love, or desires, anguish or personal conflicts.  At its core, it is simply sex (simple or extreme) without emotional meaning.

Erotica has an emotional meaning behind it.  Erotica is powerful, compelling, and sexually satisfying.  Erotica is good for women.  It gives us new ideas, and wants.  It fires our sexual fantasies.   It rekindles our long-lost desires and most definitely, fills the void when we are found wanting.   And at it’s core, it is not meant to be objectifying or demoralizing toward women.

If you’re looking for that, well… you are on the wrong blog.  Porn is the next aisle over.

There is a paramount difference between erotica and pornography.  But even then, arguments vary because you will find the grey areas of souls fallen through the cracks where bondage, pain, etc is their perspective of love- because that was the only way they were able to re-connect to intimacy.

Perhaps another soul who has avoided intimacy for many years would join a book-burning of Fifty Shades of That Book under their perspective that the book was pornography, when really, it’s not even close and they are having difficulty connecting to intimacy.

For me, writing erotica was the pivotal healing point I needed.  I couldn’t read or write just any old story.  It had to be personal and meaningful, to me.  Not to the theys.  It had to connect, to me.  Everyone’s trauma is unique and what we need to heal will not be the same as what another person needs.

As you take your journey today, remember the mind is intertwined with the body and spirit and when one is hurting or neglected, the rest suffer.  However difficult it is, acknowledge the one, because as a whole it affects you and shapes the rest of your life only if you allow it.

 

 

Don’t Judge Me

Sharing stories about how we escaped abuse is sometimes nearly more difficult than the abuse we endured. Readers need to be advised that some things you absorb here may trigger old memories and reactions.  You may or may not agree with what you read, but every DV survivor has a story, and deserves to be heard.
~ C.L. Bolin

Deliberate Donkey

I never considered myself a domestic violence victim until this last year. I knew my first high school romance had been a bad relationship.  I knew it hadn’t been healthy, but I always thought of DV as physical abuse. Broken noses. Black eyes. If there wasn’t an injury, then it wasn’t DV.

The realization came to me by accident. I had just began my final internship for graduate school and I was offered the opportunity to co-faciliate one of the therapy groups at my new agency. One of the options was a DV group. 

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BREAKING FREE

In honor of Deliberate Donkey, who is an ass on purpose, I devote a re-blog from her site today to honor those who have been abused and escaped.
“Breaking Free”, by Carolyn Hughes.
–     C.L. Bolin

Deliberate Donkey

You love them. You want to be with them.

But what started off as a loving, caring, fun relationship, has turned into a controlling, threatening and fear-filled existence.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took time for their paranoia to emerge. Yet the more you reassured them that they were the only one, the more they suspected you of deceit. Despite your innocence, they made you feel guilty. So you stopped meeting friends, stopped seeing family. You stopped going out.

And how could you have foreseen that the very things they used to love about you, now seem to be the things they hate about you. Previously they had been encouraging about your work and were proud of your achievements. So it is hard to understand why they are suddenly suspicious of your interactions with colleagues or why they take delight in belittling your accomplishments. It doesn’t take long before you…

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“Fifteen Roses”- writing exercise

bloom where you are plantedAbout two months ago, the most beautiful bouquet of roses arrived, from someone very special who thought I deserved fifteen roses.

I walked into work..

and there they were.

Fifteen crimson love buds crowning softly through a veil of deep green.  Sweetly fragranced, perfect, declawed… silently shouting

………………………………..surPRISE!

I halted in my tracks.  Instantly.

For a domestic violence survivor like me, roses have spoken the floral tongue of  I’m sorry I hit you..  I’m sorry I threw you around.. Hope you don’t remember last night, because I sure don’t..

Roses, especially red ones.

I don’t know why abusers give roses the day after, but in my world, they have – without fail

A drunken punch to the eye = a rose and a house full of lit candles.  Extra roses and a sprig of baby’s breath if you were violated verbally, emotionally or sexually.

Therefore, I detest the damn things.

The love buds napped patiently throughout the day across the room, soaking in a cup of seltzer water, as I attempted to focus on work.  By lunch, I was simmering with mixed emotions and the reds were bundled in my arms, dripping slowly onto the carpet.   Although I wasn’t hungry, my mind was famished;  it was feasting on my rampant thoughts, trying to make sense of it.

Nothing bad had happened..   in fact, it had been an extraordinarily romantic first date of FIRSTS.

First kiss, very gentle, sweet, honorable, and respectful of boundaries.  The first time I had been held in three years and not felt queasy.  The first time I didn’t feel like running for my life.  The first time I didn’t feel forced to show affection.  I had a first successful date without PTSD triggers in nearly three years.

The biggest first.. I felt beautiful, and loved.

I cried quietly for a few minutes by my desk, roses still in my arms.  My thinker was done chewing on its argument, and the final answer of satiation ran down my cheeks.  They were love flowers.

Later that day, fourteen roses were handed out that afternoon to fourteen women who were victims of domestic violence.  These women work in my building.  I see them, I see their faces.. every day.  The fear, the despondency, and the resiliency that keeps us getting up out of bed to face another day, is etched deeply in the lines of most of their faces, mine included.

Each woman was told she was beautiful and deserved a beautiful rose.  It was not hard for me to hand them the rose or say the words honestly- but for some of the fourteen, they paused hesitantly before accepting the token.

We were able say we were beautiful women, without expectations.  We were able to accept it, with a glimmer of belief we were.  One woman broke down and cried as I held her for a moment.  It had nothing to do with her receiving a rose.  It had simply been so long since she had been told she was beautiful.

By the end of the day, a single rose remained.

My rose, my love flower.  I was loved and beautiful.

Cybercrimes for Dummies

If you are reading this post, chances are you have been the victim of a cyber crime from a stalker or harasser.

It could be an abusive personality halfway across the world, or an abusive personality living literally next door to you.  Regardless of their emotional instability, medical history, status, or excuses, it is a crime punishable by law.

Some victims are so affected by cyber stalkers and bullies that it can be easier to simply shut off the phone and the internet than to put a stop to the abuse.  However, turning the other cheek to a bully does no one any good.  Sooner or later, you run out of cheeks.  Sooner or later, they will escalate to the next level of crazy.CYBERCRIMES FOR DUMMIES

I would like to take a moment to touch base about this subject – and what you can do about it if it’s happening to you right now.

Exactly what is a “cybercrime”?

(reposted from Criminal Defense Lawyer)

“The crime of harassment (which can include stalking, hate crimes, and cyberbullying) occurs when one person acts in a way designed to annoy, provoke, threaten, or otherwise cause another person emotional distress. State laws and some federal laws identify multiple ways in which harassment can be committed….”

“…the prosecutor must show that the defendant did or said something with the intent that the communication would harass the victim. The person may intend to annoy or intimidate the victim, or the words may be designed to provoke a fight….”

“…Harassment can be committed through verbal or non-verbal means. A person may use physical gestures to threaten or annoy a victim, or a person may intimidate a victim through a pattern of behavior, such as showing up at the victim’s home or workplace. In some states, harassment that involves monitoring or following  the victim is known as stalking…”

“…harassment also occurs where a person uses an electronic device such as a phone or computer to communicate threats, sometimes anonymously. The prevalence of the internet in everyday life has made harassment via email and social networking sites commonplace. Referred to as cyberbullying or cyberstalking, states have responded in differing ways to the growing problem. Some state legislatures have created separate statutes specifically addressing harassment that occurs online…”

“…States recognize both misdemeanor and felony forms of harassment. Many states punish first-time harassment offenses as misdemeanors, but punish subsequent harassment convictions as felonies…”

Every state varies by what constitutes a cybercrime and its punishment.

There was a powerful writing from NW3C about cyberstalking that states “..while there is no generally accepted definition of Cyberstalking, the term normally involves stalking another person, using the online environment to carry out any of a number of actions.  “Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or object, or vandalizing a person’s property…”

“…The definition of Cyberstalking includes (repeatedly) “sending threats or false accusations via email or mobile phone, making threatening or false posts on websites, stealing a person’s identity or data or spying and monitoring a person’s computer and Internet use.  Sometimes the threats can escalate into physical spaces…”

“…Cyberstalkers can also obtain personal information about their victims (example, home address, phone number) from the Internet and utilize this information to meet their victims in person…”

“…The harassment can take on many forms, but the common denominator is that it’s unwanted, often obsessive, and usually illegal.  Cyberstalkers use email, instant messages, phone calls, and other communication devices to stalk, whether it takes the form of sexual harassment or just plain annoying attention to your life and your family’s activities…”

Put simply, it is a form of harassment that takes advantage of the anonymity and relative protection from enforcement provided by the Internet.

Or does it?

This brings us to our section..

I.P. Addresses.  Wherever the stalker is, their computer has it’s own designated I.P. address.  If you are unsure of what that is, click here.  Many times, stalkers try to cover their own tracks by using dummy emails.  They will use computers that don’t belong to them, with fake email accounts.  Often times, they will put their own jobs, friends and family at criminal risk from their obsession.

What is deplorable (and sickly humorous) is when they use the same computer repeatedly while using multiple aliases, in order to threaten the same person.  This particular group should get together and write a book.