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Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Long Journey Home

Finding Self-Forgiveness after Abuse

A survivor may be out of their situation, but the effects of abuse can last a lifetime without the help that they need to move through it. Sometimes long after we have left our abuser we become our own worst enemy.

We continue repeating the complaints and criticisms to ourselves that our abusers caused us to believe. When we are consistently bashing ourselves there is not much room left for healing.

Survivors may go through years after leaving an abusive relationship believing the things their abuser told them without ever realizing their self-worth or finding the forgiveness they need for themselves to heal.

Forgiving yourself is oftentimes much harder than forgiving others.

As many children raised in homes where domestic violence, sexual trauma, neglect or emotional abuse was present knows, it is easier to come to terms with the abuse that you endured that to forgive yourself for the patterns it causes you to fall into down the line.

Those early traumas cause relationships to be poisoned, good people we encounter we tend to withdraw from and even friendships may suffer. The patterns we become prone to must be dealt with and worked on for our entire lives through.

We have to embark on a path to self-forgiveness or we won’t ever be truly free.
One of the biggest offenders is self-criticism. After years of hearing how mentally or emotionally unstable you are, ugly, fat or worthless, you tend to believe these things.
One suggestion that will help you to start identifying the patterns is to start journaling. Prompt yourself to identify the self-criticisms that you are prone to repeating to yourself. One good example is, “I am fat and ugly, and I won’t ever find anyone who will truly love me.”
You also want to identify your hopes and your dreams that lie suppressed under the criticism. All too many times we lose sight of these early on in abusive situations. Look then for ways to reach those goals, hopes and dreams while also finding ways that you can heal.
There are support groups, advocates, councilors and many other organizations to help you find solid ground. Still, no matter how many times you try to find healing, it only comes once forgiveness has been achieved. You may have to start your day over 30 times in one day, but that is ok. It is a matter of reconditioning. Sometimes staying positive is a struggle, but you have to do it.

Forgiveness will get easier in time, and the journey to healing can begin.

Also, if you want to help these survivors to find their strength, self-forgiveness and ultimately to heal you can donate to Uplifting Change Through Healing Words so that we can do our part. This is a community funded program, and for us to help them it takes all of us pulling together to make that happen.!donate/c1ghi

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sin by Silence


Domestic violence is not a new phenomenon, yet society has only recently begun to recognize the tragedy of violence against women as a social problem of extraordinary proportions. For far too many women, home is a place of greater danger than places in public view – more dangerous than places of work, more dangerous than interstates and freeways, and more dangerous than city streets. This crime against women affects nearly one-third of American women. Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars. It is a devastation to be abused by a loved one who you think loves you in return and has a ripple effect on numerous victims.

Domestic abuse creates a cycle of violence. Children who are abused or witness abuse are at a higher risk of abusing their own family and significant others as an adult. In addition, they also are at risk for long-term physical and mental health problems, including alcohol and substance abuse. It is evident that these abuse victims follow the example they learned in childhood and continue the cycle of violence when they are adults. According to the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline, domestic violence is witnessed by between 3.3 and 10 million children every year, and these are only the cases reported. Forty percent of girls aged 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age that has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend; and approximately one in five female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

It has been only been about 40 years since our country began to take notice of what is happening behind closed doors. In 1978, the United States formed the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence along with the first battered women’s program opening in North Carolina.  By the early 1980s, statistics proved that isolated cases of abuse were part of a shocking national problem. As a result, victims became more visible, as well as the inadequacy of society's response. The battered women's movement emerged, becoming one of the most powerful social justice and service movements in United States history.

Shelters and hotlines began to spring up around the country and what began as a social, service-based response to crisis began to take on political urgency. The staggering numbers of women and children turning to shelters continually outpaced the growth of the movement. The shelter work uncovered endless horror stories: law enforcement officials who mislabeled domestic disturbances, judges who ruled in favor of perpetrators, and health care providers who mishandled violence-related injuries. At every turn, women seeking help could expect indifference, hostility, and endangerment. It became clear that helping women in crisis required more than front-line emergency service: it required changing the established social institutions and the laws affecting them.

During the 1980s, a vibrant network of nearly two thousand domestic violence programs in the United States organized into state coalitions to take on the challenge of pressuring social institutions to adequately respond to victims.  The 1990s proved to be a turning point decade with the Violence Against Women Act being passed in 1994.  This major federal bill provided more than $1 billion to assist shelters, train law enforcement personnel and judges, and support other crime-prevention efforts addressing violence against women. The decade also saw the trial of O. J. Simpson for allegedly

murdering his former wife, Nicole, and her friend. Though he was eventually acquitted of criminal charges, Simpson's case launched unprecedented media coverage of the issues of domestic violence.

Over the last 20 years, researchers have finally started to explore the lives and experiences of battered women who killed their abusive male partners due to the evidence found in the area of domestic violence over the decades. Yet tragically, domestic violence remains an unavoidable threat to the fabric of all families and the well being of society’s future. 

As Abraham Lincoln once stated, “To SIN BY SILENCE when we should protest makes cowards of men.”  SIN BY SILENCE can help create and inspire advocates to be part of a movement of change that alters the country’s political and judicial scenarios and stigmas.  It is about changing lives and being part of a larger movement that addresses all types of violence against all women. 

The goal of the SIN BY SILENCE team is for the documentary to be the catalyst that can lead to the collaboration of knowledge and action.  Knowledge that is developed through the CWAA stories of pain, tragedy, inspiration and triumph.  Action that will lead to safer communities, homes and families.


One in four women (25 percent) have experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
(The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence)

Up to 6 million women who are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend per year.
(U.S. Department of Justice)

Women account for 85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence, men for approximately 15percent.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief)

Women aged 16-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics)

Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
(Journal of the American Medical Association)

Forty percent of girls aged 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age that has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
(Kaiser Permanente)

Studies suggest that between 3.3 - 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
(National Crime Victimization Survey)

Nearly 2.2 million people called a domestic violence crisis or hot line in 2004 to escape crisis situations, seek advice, or assist someone they thought might be victims.
(National Network to End Domestic Violence)

Nearly three out of four (75 percent) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. 30 percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.
(Family Violence Prevention Fund)

The health-related costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion each year. Of that amount, nearly $4.1 billion is for direct medical and mental health care services, and nearly $1.8 billion is for the indirect costs of lost productivity or wages.
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

About half of all female victims of intimate violence report an injury of some type, yet only 20 percent of them seek medical assistance.
(National Crime Victimization Survey)

Thirty-seven percent of women who sought treatment in emergency rooms for violence-related injuries in 1994 were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.
(U.S. Department of Justice)

On average, more than four women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief)