He Seemed so Nice

If you know anyone who is in this type of situation; or if a family member is, give them the 800 number for the Domestic Abuse Hotline:


He seemed super nice at first

It’s true. I’ve known more than one abusive man in my day. Some I knew intimately and some were only acquaintances. You know, just friends of friends. Some men still think it’s ok to maintain friendships with abusive men dontchaknow. At a certain point someone might accidentally let it slip that so-and-so, you know, that guy we party with, you know, maybe tormented or threatened or tried to strangle his girlfriend, and funny thing! I wouldn’t want to hang out with those dudes anymore. How awkward for everyone. “Meghan, Meghan – we don’t acknowledge those things.” “Hey! Buddy never abused me so who knows, right? His girlfriend is probably lying about that abuse.” If you don’t see it with your own eyes you should just assume it isn’t happening and go on with your life, yes? OH those ladies and their nutty stories.

But I digress. My friend Easily Riled wrote a post about the Bedford decision and some of the rhetoric coming from those who advocate for the decriminalization of pimps and johns. She pointed out that:

“The appeal judges decided that the Communicating law did not violate the Charter rights of prostituted people sex workers, and represented a reasonable limit on rights to expression.  Because as we know, it is difficult to tell–no matter how much time you have to “screen” some guy– when he’s going to go off on you. Women in prostitution have told us many stories about going with men they knew, regular ‘clients’, men the met and talked with for an hour or so in the bar, men referred to them by trusted friends– who, when alone with them, became violent. And, you know, women often MARRY men who turn out to be abusive– five minutes on a street corner isn’t going to make a difference–he always decides how to behave, she will never have  that control. In theory, then, the communicating law can be used against the men who buy sex.”

One of the more common arguments for the decriminalization of johns is that if buying sex in the street is completely legalized, prostituted women will have more time to asses a client before getting into a car or going to a room with him.

This argument has been refuted by many, including Janine Benedet, who acted as co-counsel for the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution during the Bedford trial, who noted in a recent talk that the 27 year old man who murdered Nicole Parisien was seemingly, just a “regular” guy. Andrew Evans was a rugby player and former peer counselor. Benedet noted that he found Parisien through an ad on Craigslist and met her at an apartment of her choosing – an apartment that was being used as a brothel in Kitsilano.

Are these the “safe” indoor brothels people are advocating for? I imagine that Parisien thought this man was “safe”. Turns out he wasn’t. Turns out that being indoors, being able to suss out clientele first didn’t stop Evans from becoming violent when he couldn’t maintain an erection. Benedet added:

“This is a good example of the male sexual entitlement that is quite evident in prostitution. When she didn’t give him what he wanted he turned to violence and she was dead very, very quickly. There was no time for anybody to intervene. A good reminder that just putting things in a brothel or in a woman’s own apartment doesn’t stop this kind of violence.”

So Evans may be spending his life in jail but Parisien no longer has a life.

Devastatingly, these stories are not uncommon – there is something about men who buy sex who seem to think that the women they buy are disposable. Male entitlement is tied to prostitution. Men who buy sex think they are entitled. They believe that their pleasure is more important than women’s lives, women’s health, women’s well-being. Do you think that the man I saw the other day while waiting for the bus at Main and Cordova, who stopped his black SUV at the corner and dropped off a woman limping in platform shoes, steadying herself with a cane, cares about her life? Do you think he wants her life to get better? I doubt it. I doubt any man who buys sex wants the lives of prostituted women to get better. If their lives were better there would be no one left to give him blow jobs on his lunch break.

These are the men we are talking about decriminalizing. Not some imaginary “nice john.” What “nice man” wants women to remain so poor that they have no choice but to service him? What “nice man” kills a woman because he can’t maintain an erection? And what “nice man” thinks he deserves this – that he is owed, nay, is entitled to a blow job? Because he is a man. It is his right. Women are his right. Access to women, 24/7, is his right. That’s what we are talking about when we talk about decriminalizing pimps and johns.

I’ve known a number of abusive men in my lifetime. And you’d never know by looking at them. You probably wouldn’t even know it by talking to them for five or ten minutes (although you do begin to recognize certain traits in certain kinds of abusers – but the smart ones know how to hide it). Sometimes women don’t find out that their partners are abusive until they become pregnant. I can pretty much guarantee that if I had A) gone through with my pregnancy, and B) stayed with the man who impregnated me, the abuse would have escalated. Sometimes women only find out their partners are abusive once their partners get drunk. And hey, sometimes we even get clues early on but sometimes we don’t know they’re clues. Or maybe we’ll ignore the clue. Or maybe the abuser will manipulate us into thinking we are crazy or mess with our heads so that we no longer trust our own instincts. Or maybe we’ll leave. But the idea that women can somehow predict which men are abusive (whether it is verbal, emotional, or physical – and often all these forms of abuse work in congruence) and then avoid said abuse is bunko.

The abusive man is often quite a popular dude. He is often a pillar in his community. He is often charming and intelligent. I know tons of these guys. They are still invited to parties, to meetings, to community gatherings. The women they tormented are not, of course. Those women are not to be trusted. Those women must hide out or feel ashamed or are ostracized. Or they simply remain silent, never saying a thing. Women who name their abusers don’t always get support and, in fact, they often get the opposite of support. Often they are blamed or they are not believed.

So I’m not convinced that talking to a man through a car window, or over email, or even over the phone will tell a woman whether or not this man might become violent or whether he might call her names or whether he will degrade her. We do know that, whoever these men are, even if they aren’t physically violent, they believe that women exist on this earth in order to provide men with sexual pleasure. It is also clear that men who buy sex from prostituted women are often violent, are often abusive, and are often murderers. Sometimes they are “non-violent” misogynists. But not always. We also know that regardless of whether or not a woman has had the opportunity to chat with a man for five or ten minutes, she will at some point be alone in a car or in a hotel room or in an alley with him, and he may or may not have displayed his violent tendencies within the first five minutes of meeting.

What I’m addressing here is of course the idea that decriminalizing johns will make prostitution safer. Or rather, that it will make johns safer. Because that’s what were really talking about, right? Violent, sexist men? We aren’t really saying that women can somehow predict or avoid violence. We’re saying we need to stop violent men. We’re saying we need to stop normalizing sexist behaviour. We need to stop reinforcing the idea that men have the right to access female bodies 24/7.

In a past relationship I told a man that what he was doing constituted verbal and emotional abuse and that he had no right to treat me in that way – I told him I didn’t deserve to be treated in that way. And you know what he said to me? “It was your choice to stay”. And do you know what that means? Do you know what he meant when he said that? He was telling me it was my fault. He was telling me that there was nothing he could do to change and that since I had “chosen” to stay, I must either be ok or somehow deserve that abusive treatment. That since I chose to live in the same house as him and knew that his behaviour was abusive, it was ok for him to continue to treat me in that way because, in the end, it was my responsibility to stop that abuse from happening. Not his. Of course I did leave eventually but I’ll never forget the feeling of being blamed for my own abuse. Of making it about “my choice”.

This isn’t the only time this has happened. Another time I told some people about a man who was their friend who had been abusive to me throughout our relationship. I had already left him at this point. Do you know what they said to me? “Well, you chose to stay, didn’t you?”

OH choice. Magical, magical choice. If you “choose” to put yourself in a position to be abused, according to our f**ked up culture, it’s your fault. So if women do a bad job of  sussing out johns before getting into cars with them, and those johns turn out to be violent, who is to blame?

The answer is obvious, but based on some of the rhetoric coming from those who advocate only for a harm reduction model and from those who want johns to be decriminalized, you wouldn’t know it. There is NO reason to protect these men. There are many reasons to protect prostituted women. These women, most certainly, need to be decriminalized so that they can safely go to the cops if they need to. These women, most certainly, need other options. They need to not have to service misogynists or get into cars with them or go to brothels or hotel rooms with them in order to survive. But decriminalizing johns isn’t going to make those men any safer. It certainly isn’t going to convince them not to abuse women and it certainly isn’t going to convince them that they don’t have the god given right to a blow job at any given moment, so long as they can pay.


Domestic Violence vs PTSD

First of all, to all the men and women who have sacrificed for our country, I thank you. I am a pacifist but you have given much to America. Second of all, thank you to all of the spouses, parents, and friends of a soldier who went away to fight in a war. I hope they came home whole and well. If your military person did not, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have lost. It isn’t enough, but I hurt for all the men, women and families and friends who have an empty spot in their hearts. Be proud of them. I am just sorry that the human species feels a continuing and constant need to be violent. War doesn’t solve anything. May all of America’s sons and daughters who have passed, rest in peace.

Recently, Sir Patrick Stewart was in Texas doing a press conference, and a woman asked him a question.  His answer is a revealing look at both Domestic Violence and PTSD in soldiers returning from the war front.






The ultimate truth is that violence and war solve nothing. They actually intensify what is wrong in the world.




Arlington Cemetery, Washington DC, America

Survival of Abuse and other Traumas

So you made it. You left him or her. You won’t ever have to go through the fear and terror ever again. You stayed at the shelter for a couple of weeks and then they got you into a transitional living apartment where you are safe. He/she doesn’t have any idea where you are. All your abuser knows is that you are laying low. You and your children, if you have any, are safe and secure.


You are starting not to jump at every noise. You may even go on a date at some time again. But you still can close your eyes and see him hovering over you as he rapes and strangles you. He strangles you a little, not enough to kill you. The memories close in on you often when there is a certain smell, sound, when you think someone is following you. Your heart begins to race and you have to talk yourself down.


No matter what the abuse or other traumas in your life, they do effect you a lot. You will never again be the same person you were before. Neurologists say that the mind rewires itself after a trauma and we are never exactly the same person we were before. But you survived and this is a good thing.


Life doesn’t stop with surviving. You have to heal yourself. Some do it themselves, some block the trauma but it is still effecting them. Do you ever notice that someone will say something and you are immediately angry or you feel insecure? Or someone walks up to you and they are a little too close and you feel like you should run? This is all normal for someone who has been traumatized. Other people may not think so but I assure you that it is.


So, the first huge step is surviving your trauma. What about all of the memories of the trauma or abuse? What about the nightmares? A doctor can help you by deciding if you have PTSD or not. PTSD is pretty tough. I have PTSD. It developed after I found my husband dead. It was natural causes, a massive heart attack. I walked into a dark house and found him sitting at his desk in the study and he was gone. I will save you the remainder of the story. I had had other traumas earlier in life and this was the event which broke the camel’s back. I am not telling my story to gain sympathy. I just know how many victims have survived many traumas and it is hard work getting through them. Sometimes people help, sometimes they just stab you in the heart without knowing there is anything wrong.


So first survive, then begin to heal. There are many ways to do so and some will work for you and some will not. I read a quote many years ago, “Once you survive life, then you have to find a reason to live.” I have always lived with that in my heart. There are many reasons. Someone in your life needs you. Your job gives you much passion and joy. Your best friend can always sense your moods and doesn’t leave you alone to flounder. Children’s lives would be damaged if you committed suicide. Your job is to find your reason and declare it to the heavens.


Sometimes a spiritual path can help. Or a combination of several paths can be entwined together and you create  your own path which you have woven for yourself. The key to healing really is to find your meaning for life. A reason to live and keep living and heal and then you can thrive. Thriving would be the ultimate goal.


It also helps to remember that you are not the only one to suffer some type of trauma. Millions of people do whether they are abused, a tornado takes their house, a volcano erupts and covers their village with lava. Some are sold into slavery, some are convicted of a crime and go to prison knowing that they are really innocent. Some are cheated on by their spouse and some are not really loved by their family. Again, healing and therapy will help you to not shut down when the old tapes or the memories hit you. We are supposed to thrive in this life, so climb out of that hole and begin the job. Your experience will help many others cope with what is happening in their lives.


Forget anger, rage, and vengeance and look for your smile so you can share it with someone else. Read positive books. Allow yourself to feel joy and happiness because you do deserve it. No matter what anyone has told you or beat into you, you deserve all the good that life has to offer. You never walk alone and you need to remember that. Build and use your support system. They love you for the beautiful, shining star you are today. Never believe anyone who tells you negative things. Don’t tell yourself negative things. You are everything that is strong, wise, compassionate and kind. You can touch the lives of many people who need a kind word or a smile or an understanding pat on the shoulder.








Smokey Mountains. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Smokey Mountains. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Don’t Live with Violence

If you are living with violence, you must protect yourself and your children and get out. We all go into a relationship feeling love and having dreams. Your wedding day was just what you had wanted it to be. You had a beautiful honeymoon and you were so happy and so in love. It was a perfect wedding night.

Now, you are dressing for dinner. The two of you had had such a lovely afternoon and a delicious dinner. People toasted you in the dining room and when the band began to place you danced in your husband’s arms. A nice man asked to dance with you, but your husband said no. He was pretty quiet for the rest of the evening.

He decided you were going to go up to your room. You didn’t really want to leave but tomorrow was sightseeing. He says nothing on the way to your room. You are thinking about the nightgown you are going to wear to bed. He walks into the room behind you; then shuts and locks the door. You turn around with a smile on your face and he opens up his hand and hits you so hard that when you look in the mirror, you see the red hand print.

You are stunned. What happened? He is yelling and calling you names and telling you are a slut because that man asked to dance with you. You face aches. He grabs your arm and twists it while telling you that you will never dance with anyone else. He is shaking you so hard that your teeth chatter. You are trying to get away and are terribly afraid. What is going on?

He walks out, slamming the hotel door. You stand there with tears running down your face. Why did he get so upset? What should I do? You clean up and carefully get ready for bed. Carefully, because your face is very sore and your arm hurts. You cry yourself to sleep.

In the morning, you wake and his side of the bed is empty. You are shocked and very confused. Then the door to the hotel room opens and he walks in. He looks awful. You can tell he has been crying. He has brought you a huge bouquet of red roses. He is sorry. He never meant to handle you in a violent way. He loves you and it will never happen again, he swears. He kisses you and cuddles you and you make up. Your world becomes whole again. He is so wonderful to you, considerant and thoughtful.

Life goes on. Everything is fine. And one day, a girlfriend calls and asks you if you want to go shopping. You said, “Sure.”

You quickly get ready to meet her at the Mall. You leave a note on the kitchen table in case you will be late coming home.

You and your friend shop, have lunch and a couple of glasses of wine. It had been such a fun day. You are now a little bit later than you expected, but you left a note. No problem. You walk into the house and call out, “I’m home.” Your husband walks into the living room where you are hanging up your coat and begin to show him your purchases. His voice drips with sarcasm. “Where have you been?” You mentioned the note you had left. He says you hadn’t had his permission to go shopping. What? What is he talking about?”

He grabs you and punches you in the face. You hear a crack and then another punch. You go down to the floor and he begins to kick you. He kicks you where bruises will be covered with clothing. You are screaming at him to stop and he is screaming at you. He accuses you of meeting a man and cheating on him. He picks up your purchases and throws them everywhere. You can’t stop crying. He holds up the nightgown you bought to wear for him and he rips it apart. He screams you had worn it for your lover.

He took you to the hospital and refused to leave you side. You had taken such an awful tumble down the stairs. The staff allows him to stay. There isn’t much they can do for you. They bind your torso, give you pain meds, suggest you carpet the staircase which your husband agrees is very important. You go home with your discharge papers and he gently helps you out of the car when you reach home.

He is again sorry. Terribly sorry. It will not happen again. Please don’t leave him. He can’t live life without you. He will kill himself if you leave. You are in agony, the pain pills are making you fuzzy and soon you just fall asleep.

You used to discuss this type of incident with your Mom and your sister. You met a woman who is being battered but what she suffers is so different from what happens to you. As the months and years go by, your lady friend went to a Domestic Violence shelter. You never see her anymore. The shelter moved her to a new state so she could start again with a new identity. Your mom develops Cancer and he gets edgy when you go to see her. The day your Mom dies, you feel totally lost and there really isn’t anyone to talk to. You don’t realize that he has gradually isolated you from all of your friends and your sister. He calls them trouble makers. He is the one who really loves you. The only one who loves you.

Now, you just do what he says. Nothing matters anymore. Then one day you think about the battered woman you had been friends with. You wonder if the Domestic Violence Shelter is still in town somewhere. You get ready and call a taxi. You tell the driver what you need and he delivers you at the Shelter.

You talk with a counselor, have a bite of lunch. They explain what they can do for you, including legal representation. You decide to go home and pack a suitcase. You have to get away from him. So you go home. The shelter gave you a list of things to bring. You are moving as quickly as possible and try not to forget anything like your medicine. You hear a small noise behind you and you turn. Your husband is standing there screaming that you cannot and will not leave him. He pulls a revolver out of his jacket and shoots you dead. The neighbors hear the screaming and the gun shot and call 911. You are dead on arrival at the ER.

More women are killed trying to get out of a battering relationship than at any other time. Abusers have a motto. I call it a motto because it every one that I ever worked with would tell the woman, ” If I can’t have you, no one will.” I can tell you from my experience that they mean it.

Does this mean you should stay? No. Never. But the leaving must be planned in advance and in secret. No one can know where you are going. There is an underground railway to move women who are in the greatest danger. Some abusers are just much worse than others. Though none of them are good. Usually a well executed plan can take a month or more to put into place. Don’t go back. He will kill you in time or you will kill him trying to protect yourself. There are so many women and men working to help abused women. You are never alone. Domestic Violence is a crime. The court system will punish him for what he did to you.

If you are a man being abused I must give you the same advice. Abusers don’t stop abusing. Male or female. They will simply move on to another partner and begin the battering again. People care about you. So try to get out. Try to get to a safe place, a shelter or even a hotel. Talk to counselors and the police. No matter what, it is never all right to hit another person. You deserve better. You deserve to not live in fear and violence.

Zentangle Copyright Barbara Mattio 2014


Guns and Domestic Violence

Originally posted at Ms.Blog, msmagazine.com

The impact of gun violence on victims and survivors of domestic violence cannot be overstated. The statistics are chilling: Approximately 2 out of every 3 domestic violence homicides are committed with firearms; the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the likelihood of homicide by at least 500 percent. At least 44 percent of mass shootings are domestic violence-related, and 61 percent of all femicides committed by men wielding guns in 2013 were related to domestic violence .

These statistics are only the most publicized, easily quantifiable manifestations of the intersection between domestic violence and firearms. Guns are used to terrorize far more often than they are used to kill. A survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found 16 percent of respondents’ abusers owned firearms. Of respondents whose abusers owned guns, 67 percent percent believed their abusers were capable of killing them.

These statistics are staggering, yet they are more than numbers—they are people. My colleague, Rob Valente at the Hotline, quotes two survey respondents. One respondent disclosed that her husband owns over 100 guns. She never knows where the guns are, or how many guns he is carrying at any given time. Another respondent tells of repeatedly waking up at night to the sound of her abuser releasing the safety on the gun he is holding to her head.

Recognizing the role of firearms in domestic violence, Congress passed the Lautenberg Amendment prohibiting people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or people subject to permanent domestic violence protective orders from owning firearms. In enacting this prohibition, Congress took into account two important factors that differentiate domestic violence from other forms of violence: 1) Domestic violence misdemeanors are frequently pled down from felony charges and involve felony-level violence; and 2) Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors rather than a single incident, so there is a high likelihood an abuser will reoffend.

Although the Lautenberg Amendment saved countless lives, it is no longer adequate; society has changed and the law must be updated to reflect these changes. Under existing law, the definition of domestic violence only includes abuse perpetrated by a current or former spouse, cohabitant or biological co-parent. Dating abuse does not trigger the firearm prohibition, despite the fact that current or former dating partners commit approximately half of all domestic violence homicides. Likewise, people convicted of misdemeanor stalking are not prohibited from owning firearms, although stalking is a key indicator of lethality; a 10-city study found that 76 percent of women killed by intimate partners were stalked before being murdered, and 85 percent of women who survive murder attempts were stalked.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2015and its companion bill from Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Minn.) and Robert Dold (D-Ill.), Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, expand the existing domestic violence prohibitor to include dating abuse and stalking. These narrowly focused domestic violence bills could save countless lives without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. We at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, our colleagues at other organizations, advocates across the country, victims and survivors call on Congress to demonstrate their commitment to ending domestic violence by passing these two bills. The time for talk is over—it is time to take a stand!






If a man or a woman stays in a violent home, their life will continually rotate around the cycle of violence. Help is available. Look at this cycle and see if it is familiar to you.

If a man or a woman stays in a violent home, their life will continually rotate around the cycle of violence. Help is available. Look at this cycle and see if it is familiar to you.

But he only…

It’s hard when sheltered little girls start to grow up and get interested in boys, and boys return the interest.  You only want to really talk about positive things with your daughter, because she’s your little girl and you cannot imagine adult types of things happening to her.

Then it’s time for the first date, and she’s excited and going on and on about how good looking he is, and how sweet he was when he asked her out, and you’re thinking “Good.  Because that’s what my daughter deserves.”  Not that you’ve told her that.  She should know that.

She goes out on the date and he’s a perfect gentleman, and everything is storybook.  She’s so happy she’s giggling as she goes about the house, talking on her cell phone to her girlfriends.

After about a month of dating, he asks her to go with him to a dance.  She’s very excited and “I can have a new dress, right?  Can I have a new dress?  Can we go shopping, Mom, please?”  And of course, the answer is Yes.

You go shopping with her, and you find the perfect dress: it covers in all the right places; it’s something your own mother would have approved of for you, and she looks beautiful in it.  So, you figure, that everything is fine.

The night of the dance, he picks her up wearing a tux, has a corsage for her and promises you and your husband that he will have her home promptly at midnight.

You’re confident in him, because he’s never broken a curfew in the month that they’ve been dating.

He returns her home at 12:05, but that’s hardly worth mentioning.  She comes in and she’s happy, she says she’s happy and says she’s tired and wants to go to bed.  You wish her a good night’s sleep and off she goes.

In the morning, when she awakens, she calls her girlfriends, and tells them that he pushed her last night.  He got upset because, while he was getting punch for her, a boy from her Chemistry class came over and was talking to her about the last lab they’d had, and how crazy their teacher is.  She was laughing with the boy, because she agreed.  Her boyfriend, as he was walking back to her with the punch in hand, saw her laughing and talking with this other boy.  The lab partner excused himself and walked away when her boyfriend returned.

Her boyfriend asked: “Who was that?  What did he want?”

She replied: “Oh, nothing we were just talking about Chemistry.”

He accused: “You were laughing.  Looked like you were having a good time.”

She told him it was no big deal, and then his face darkened and he pushed her.

She didn’t fall to the floor or anything, but she felt scared.  He had never been anything but gentle with her, until last night.

Another phone call comes in to her cell phone; it’s her boyfriend, she has to talk to him.

He’s sorry.  He shouldn’t have pushed her.  He wants to make it up to her by taking her to the movies tonight.

She says, yes, and gets ready.

You notice that she’s all bubbly and happy again, and wonder what the dark cloud had been that you’d noticed earlier, while your daughter was on the phone to her friends.  Maybe it was just those teenage hormones.

You don’t ask.

She goes to the movies and they have a wonderful time.

About a week goes by, and she’s walking down the hall in school, with a bunch of her classmates — boys and girls.  One of the boys is her Chemistry lab partner.  Her boyfriend is looking for her, and he sees her having fun with all of these people, and with that one boy from the dance, laughing and talking with her.

He can’t see anything else but the just the two of them.  Laughing.  Together.  Very together.

He walks up and grabs her and drags her away from everyone else.  He’s holding her arm so tightly, as he pulls her to her locker to talk, that he leaves bruises.

“You’re hurting me!  Stop!”

He begins to rant.  He accuses her of cheating on him with her lab partner.

She’s confused; her lab partner is just a friend, she doesn’t know why he’s upset.  And he’s hurting her.  She tries to pull away.

His hand reaches back and slaps her face, and calls her a whore.

Nothing like this has ever happened to her before.  She doesn’t know what to think or what to do.

She tells him to leave her alone, and she stalks off to class with her arm hurting and her face red, still feeling the handprint.

During class, she’s distracted, thinking about what happened.  How could this have happened to her?  Why would he do this? He’s always been so gentle, so charming.

And she thinks, she must have done something wrong.  He said she had, she shouldn’t have been talking to those kids, that boy.  She didn’t mean to be doing anything wrong.  But that’s what upset him, so she must have been doing something wrong.  Right?

Over the next few weeks, she pulls away from her friends, gradually and steadily.  Her grades go down a little bit, but not enough for her teachers to worry, to call her parents.

You don’t know.

Then, it’s spring.  She comes down for breakfast with a turtleneck on.  It’s a beautiful, warm spring day.  You ask her why the turtleneck?  It’s a beautiful morning!

“I’m cold,” you’re told, tersely.

She’s running late, she doesn’t want to talk, and she hurries out the door before you can ask anything more.

She’s running from herself, but you don’t know that.  She’s running from a situation that she just can’t understand.  She’s afraid, and you can almost see that, but you can’t understand why.

What you don’t know is, the night before, on their last date, her loving boyfriend tried to choke her.  The turtleneck is covering the bruises on her neck.  She knows you would never allow her go see him again if you knew.

But he loves her.  He told her he did; well, after he choked her.

And she loves him.  Well, usually.

She wants to ask one of her old girlfriends if this had ever happened to them.  But it was embarrassing.  What if it hadn’t happened to them?  What if they thought it was her fault, if they knew she did something wrong?

She can’t talk to you.  You’ve never talked about anything like this.  You’d never understand.

She decides to just keep the information to herself.

Six more months go by.  He asks her to go steady. She eagerly says yes, but there’s a little voice inside that’s saying, “Run.  Run.”

He tells her that now, she will be His.  And no one can every interfere with them.  He’ll take care of her, she won’t need anyone else, because she has him.

Several more months pass.  They have a horrific argument and your little girl comes home.

Her face looks like pulp.  He punched her this time, and she cannot hide this from you.

He had the right to do it, he said, because she belongs to him.  They were going steady, after all.

You see her.  “What happened?” you ask, and for the first time in months, she tells the truth.

But she still thinks it’s her fault.  He always says she’s stupid and ungrateful and a burden to him, and she’s lucky he loves her at all.

But he does love her.  He says.  Between the punches.

“Do you love him, this boy?” you ask.

“I..I think so,” she says, and she starts to cry.  “I don’t know,” she admits and you hold her.

“Mom, I’m scared.”

And your heart breaks.

This young girl has found herself in a spot many young girls find themselves in.  They think that abuse is only broken bones or going to the hospital.  That’s never happened to her.  He only pushes.  Only shoves.  Only yells. He’s only REALLY hit her once.

What these girls don’t understand is that a slap, a push, a shove, twisting her arm, punching her face; belittling and calling her names; separating her from her friends — isolating, it’s called — it’s all abuse, battering.

They don’t understand that they are in danger, and this one person is the person they should be terrified of, and should get away from.

Hopefully, after talking to a counselor with or without her parents, and dating some other young men who treat her with the respect to which all young women are entitled, she will learn that she did not deserve the violence her now ex-boyfriend introduced to her life.

Hopefully, in the future, the men that she picks will not be abusers, and she will not spend years of her life living in violence in fear.

But  you could have helped, long before it started.  You could have talked to your daughter, let her know with words and actions that she IS special, and worthy of love.  You could have told her that no one ever has the right to push her, or shove her or call her names, and if they do, she should always come to you.  That you will always be there, and you will always listen, and that you would never think…

She deserved it.

Because she never could.

Because NO ONE ever deserves to abused.





Inspiration to Leave




Eloquent Mirror


Silk-enraptured angels

hide childish fears

from all these years.

By shadow of the eloquent mirror

that little girl is a warrior,

fighting with no turning back.

I”m still standing here today

after what you put me through.

It’d be easy to loathe you

but war paint wears off

when the rain falls down,

long after you’ve gone.

Some wounds never heal….


When I cried, you tortured me more

when I fought back you whispered:

“Don’t scream…”

No one would hear if I had been

trapped in a skeletal asylum.

Suffocated ghosts in the eloquent mirror,

haunting where you once stood

reaping the innocent soul…

watching me..taunting me…

ravaging silk savagely.


Petals drift whimsically,

innocence lives on through

violet ribbons in midnight skies.

Broken, crumpled,

screaming until you were finished with me.

Lying alone I was crying.

LIttle girls shouldn’t be warriors.

She shouldn’t have had t fight

to save her innocence,

to someday look in the mirror,

and despise what she shees.

She doesn’t giggle now.

She doesn’t bat her eyes.

She feels ugly.

She looks back at you,

shatters mirrors with bare hands.

She was never told she innocent

She is standing here today

but she still feels alone.

–Lavinia Thompson author of Melting Candles












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