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


Getting Out and Staying Safe


So you have had it.  You are tired of living in fear. Last night he threatened you with a knife. His hunting knife. It felt huge when he held it up against your throat. You hate being called names such as bitch, whore and ugly. It should have been all right but your daughter called from a friend’s house and asked if she could stay  a while and study together. Your son  came home from school with an F on a test. But dinner was ready and he, your abuser, came home and was upset with his supervisor. He yelled at you when he got home. But he was calmer when you told him dinner was ready.  He tells you that there is a  party next week his boss is giving. He tells you you had better look good and not embarrass him because you are slutty and stupid.

You sat down at the table and you brought out the food. He doesn’t want cold food.  You can hear the baby crying so you get up to go and get the baby. As you walk past him to get the baby, he grabs your upper arm and it hurts. He is asking why you are leaving the table and you say because the baby is crying. Actually, he is now screaming. He gives you a shove and tells you the baby wouldn’t be crying if you weren’t such a lazy slob. Oh, where is our daughter? At a friend’s, studying. He then declares he wants you to call and get her home.  He asks your son a question as you run upstairs to grab up the baby. But from there you can hear a slap flesh upon flesh. You  are standing in the nursery listening to him screaming at your son and you are shaking with fear.

You make the call, and walk downstairs with the baby and he tells you to hurry up. You grab the high chair and slide the baby in. You give the baby a sippy cup full of milk and some mashed potatoes. As you get the beer your abuser demands, the baby pours milk into potatoes and begins finger-painting with it. Your husband screams at the child and the child begins to cry hard. He throws mashed potatoes at the center of the table.  Your son laughs because he thought it was really funny. Your husband grabs your son and begins to punch him. This has never happened before. You are surprised. Your son runs upstairs. You reach to pick up the baby and your husband reaches for you and punches you.  Your first thought is how you will cover the bruise. Then he shoves you against the room and you end up against the stove and the handle of the oven stabs you.  He stares at you, picking the baby up and putting him on the floor to toddle quickly away.  You begin to leave the room also and he grabs your hair and pulls you close to him. He slaps you across the face. And then he pushes you down into a chair and tells you to  eat the swill you made for dinner.

Tonight it feels worse and you are terrified. Then he punches your face again and a tooth cuts your lip.  He sees your fear and he thinks it is funny that he can control  you with such little effort. Your daughter quietly comes in and runs to room. Your husband picks up a bowl of steamed vegetables and throws it. The crash sounds loud. He then reaches for his plate and pushes the plate into your face and spreads it around. You are now crying and hurting and then he punches you in the stomach. You slide to the floor and he begins to kick you over and over again. You scream for him to stop and he kicks harder. Your kidneys, your stomach and your head. There is blood everywhere. Then he picks you up and begins to choke you while telling you he is thinking of killing you tonight. Your son comes down and begs your husband to stop hurting you.  Then he pounds on your husband’s back with his fists, tears sliding down his face. Your husband shakes off your son and grabs a jacket and stalks out the door.

You are crying hysterically, you are in terrible pain. Your children are all crying now. You finally think that you can’t stay because of everything he screamed at you, that he wanted to kill you, is what you know will happen. You clean up the kitchen and gently wipe little faces and your own. You look into the mirror and wonder what has happened to that pretty young girl that used to look back at you. You put the children to bed and they have cried themselves to sleep. You sit down on the couch and think about all that the hotline counselor told you. Because you have to get out, He will kill you.

The counselor told you to take your information off of the computer. You haven’t emailed anyone except to pass on a joke or a cartoon. You get up and change your username and passwords. You change the password on your secret bank account. It has your escape money. He knows nothing about it. But you know you will be raising three children alone.  You never use the house phone because a corded phone is easier to tap. The counselor told you to get a burner phone and have one hidden in the tank of the toilet. You pack up clothes and toys and medications and hide the bags in the attic. You take a shower and go to bed. At sometime during the night he comes home and you can feel the mattress sink as he gets into bed. You are pretending to be asleep. But what you are really doing is praying that he has not killed you before dawn. At some time during the night, you fall asleep. He is gone when the baby’s cries awaken you. You turn over in the bed and feel so sore and then you remember last night. You know you have to get out and stay out.

You get the children up, dressed and they are eating breakfast.  While they eat you get ready; going over the mental list the hotline counselor gave you. You begin checking things off as you do them. You know in your heart, you will get a restraining order as soon as possible. You had thought you would never do that. You had left before and gone to your mom’s but he came and brought you roses and candy. He cried. He swore to your parents it would never happen again. You know this time you won’t believe him. You call a cab and one arrives and the driver is very nice and helps the kids into the vehicle. He puts all of your bagged up possessions into the trunk. He is going to take you to the domestic violence shelter. You get into the cab and get a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. The bruising is really getting bad. You wonder if your ribs are broken. But you sigh and the cab driver pulls the cab into traffic. You are starting a new life for yourself and your children. You are scared but staying is scarier. You just want to be safe.

Break the silence, protect women and children

Break the silence, protect women and children

Abuse is a Crime

This is your opportunity to stop this subjection and ownership of the female gender

This is your opportunity to stop this subjection and ownership of the female gender

This is abuse

This is abuse

Abuse is part of the War on Women. The War is extensive and harsh. Today I want to talk about abuse. Women are abused here and around the world. Children are abused here and everywhere. 5% of American men are abused.

I helped to start a Women’s shelter in the 1970’s. It was started by Jewish, Catholic and Protestant women for women and children. It was a secular grass roots project and was run with lots of hard, sweaty, frustrating work. The first shelter was a rundown house because that is all we could get. We buried a penny in the tree lawn then rolled up sleeves and got to work.

We did not have assistance from police. More police are injured during domestic calls than any other type of call.We had a huge job ahead of us. The FBI statistics told us a woman was abused every nine seconds.

So what is abuse? There is emotional, mental and physical abuse. It does not matter if you know the abuser or not. It can happen on a date or when you get pregnant. You can be killed. Many women and children have lost their lives to Domestic Violence.

Slapping, kicking, pushing, spitting, blackened eyes, broken ribs, hair pulling, throwing things around, punching anywhere, are all forms of physical abuse. It often goes hand in hand with being called foul names, told you are ugly, stupid, you could never find another man. It includes being told you are nothing without him. Domestic Violence affects women from all portions of society — the poor and the wealthy, the college graduate and the high school dropout, wives and girlfriends of criminals, professors, policemen, factory workers, any woman can be abused.  Statistics show that, whoever you are, someone you know, right now, is being abused

An abused woman and her children need to leave and go into a shelter. Addresses are confidental. Women are there to counsel, take pictures, take you to a hospital. Shelters are a safe place where you won’t be judged. You will be helped and supported. It is the most important work I have ever done.

Often women stay in an abusive situation because they have no where to go. The abuser will isolate them from family and friends. Many will not allow the woman out alone. Sometimes a woman can go out, but the abuser calls frequently and wants details of what she did and whom she spoke to.

I am aware that younger women today do not understand abuse. I want anyone who is reading this to understand that the problem, the crime is with the abuser and not you. Abusers can kill. But most victims get away and can begin again.

If you are in an abusive relationship, reach out to a hotline. They will know where you can go. Taxi cab drivers often know where shelters are and if they see that you are abused, they will take you to one.

If anyone tells you that you need them,and can’t live without them, if they yell at you loudly and accompany the yelling with slaps, pushing, pinching arms and legs, then you need to get away from this person. You are not alone. There are many people who will help you and your children. Loving arms are here for you to support you and to give you back your life.

There are people who will help you.

There are people who will help you.

Real men don't hit women or children

Real men don’t hit women or children

Women there is help for you. Reach out and we are here.

Women there is help for you. Reach out and we are here.

Domestic Violence is a crime. You can’t beat a woman.