Category Archives: How to Prevent Domestic Violence

Surviving and Thriving: Advice for Escaping and Beginning Anew after Domestic Abuse

By Nora Hood

This is a guest post by Nora Hood. We collaborated together on the details. I hope you find this helpful as you navigate domestic violence. Nora, we welcome your insights! Thanks for writing.

Leaving an abusive relationship is vital, but it can also be dangerous. With proper safeguards and careful planning, however, you can escape and start anew. This article offers the following advice for safely ending the abuse and beginning a new life.

Plan your escape. Careful planning is the key to a smooth and quick escape from domestic abuse. Do your research on a public computer somewhere like a local library, so your partner can’t trace your steps. Contact an area shelter to establish a relationship and for assistance in developing your plan. If you don’t know of a shelter close to you, reach out to The National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Domestic Shelters.org is another great resource: https://www.domesticshelters.org/

In case of an emergency, teach your children how to call 911, and reach out to someone your partner doesn’t know who could provide shelter for you and your children should the need arise. Think through what escape route is most practical in your home, remembering stairwells, windows, and doorways. Using positive language, make a plan with your children of how you will meet if you become separated.

Start packing. Love Is Respect recommends creating an escape kit. This will include your daily necessities, such as medications, keys, money, clothing, your children’s needs such as diapers, toys, and formula, and contact information for your friends, family members, workplace, and creditors. You should also pack your identification information and legal paperwork for you and your children, such as marriage certificate, restraining orders, birth certificates, naturalization papers, Social Security cards, green cards and passports, insurance information, school records, and work visas. Also, pack what small, sellable items you can, such as electronic devices, jewelry, and cameras.

Once you’re out. Contact your child care providers and schools to advise them who is allowed to speak to your children. Avoid places where you used to go with your abuser, such as restaurants, banks, theaters, and shopping centers. Preserve your external safety by locking doors and windows at all times and screening phone calls, since your abuser may attempt to contact you. Steer clear of unsafe locations, such as bars and mutual friends, and connect with someone who can be your safety representative. This is someone you can trust and who can accompany you much of the time, especially at night.

New home. When your situation becomes more stable, you may decide it’s time to buy a new home. A home of your own can add to your security and help you rebuild your life and confidence. As CNBC explains, there are several steps for purchasing a home. You will need to tally your annual income, how much you can afford, evaluate your monthly spending, decide what kind of loan is best for you, and consider the current average annual percentage rate (APR). Once you have your finances figured out, you can use an online search tool to look for homes that fall within your price range where you live.

In addition to budgeting for your home purchase, consider setting aside extra funds for emergencies and unanticipated expenses since there will be moving costs, potential upgrades, and maintenance. As a rule of thumb, budget 10 to 20 percent of your home’s price for repairs and maintenance. For the sake of safety, strongly consider having all the doors rekeyed, and having additional deadbolts installed. Given the circumstances, you want to be as careful as possible. Search for reputable locksmiths in your area, and don’t be afraid to ask about their experience and whether they warranty their work. It also can’t hurt to ask if they’re offering any specials.

New life, new you. Escaping from abuse can be terrifying, but it’s vital. Stay safe, plan carefully and make thoughtful choices. You can begin anew, reframing and rebuilding your life securely.

“You are not the darkness you endured. You are the light that refused to surrender.”

― John Mark Green

Anger is Okay Violence is NOT on Blog Talk Radio

Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT is a book for children struggling with tantrums. I wrote this book for toddlers experiencing anger problems and for caregivers looking for ways to control anger. In the book, positive ways to control anger are discussed. Anger is present, anger is powerful it is important to guide children on how to manage anger. The book also has a message to children who are living with domestic violence and involved with child protective services. My goal is to educate children about what is violence and how to report it. To listen to the program:

Anger is Okay Violence is Not 11/08 by La Femme De Prose0 | Books (blogtalkradio.com)

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You can find Julie on Twitter @Julie Federico and on Linked In here:

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It’s a Family Affair with Children’s Author, Julie Federico

Tonight it is a great pleasure to welcome Children’s Author, Ms. Julie Federico M.A. with her award-winning children’s books; aimed at teaching a child knowledge of their body and also safety in their personal life. It’s never too early to begin reading to your children and these vibrantly illustrated books are a terrific resource to engage a child’s imagination, catch their attention, and most importantly empower them with the courage to speak up.

Ms. Federico has written a series of children’s books, ‘Some Parts are not for Sharing’; ‘Anger is OK, Violence is Not’; ‘Students Can Help Keep Schools Safe’;’Bad Guys’ and her newest book ‘Friends Are Wonderful’. Her books are geared for parents & educators to create interaction with the children/students, which then teaches them at very early ages how to speak up when they see harm being committed against another being. Children are a key role and carry more weight when reporting Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Bullying, and other types of violent crimes. When a child reports their young voice demands attention.

https://www.blogtalkradio.com/yhttps://www.blogtalkradio.com/yourvoiceradio/2014/04/01/its-a-family-affair-with-childrens-author-julie-federico

Hope for domestic violence victims in a pandemic

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “15.5 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year.” – Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Violent Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence in Adults, 2003. This static rattles me every time I report it. It feels gripping and overwhelming. October is the month set aside to honor victims of domestic violence and seek solutions. I am publishing this now even though it is January. As the pandemic rages through the country domestic violence is on the rise. Study Finds Rise in Domestic Violence During COVID

This article will focus on the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence the children. Many women believe that they can live in a home where domestic violence is present and keep it from their children. They believe that since all of the fighting happens after the children go to bed that they do not hear it. This is false. It is one of the many lies women believe when they are living with domestic violence. It is part of the domestic violence package. It comes from being in survival mode that one believes this. Just know that your children know and move on from there. Your honesty to them validates their reality. If you act as if nothing is out of the ordinary it can make them feel crazy. Because they know what they are hearing is not normal, and they know they are in danger. Children will look to you for answers and if you are wearing a plastic smile it is pure trouble for them. Be honest with your children, they will reward you with love, hugs, and truth. Even if you can not change their reality immediately validate it. I do not believe one should stay in a home any longer than is possible where there is domestic violence and children are present. Domestic Shelters https://www.domesticshelters.org/  is a wonderful agency that offers help. They have a database of every shelter in North America. Type in your zip code and the list of shelters in your area immediately appears. If you are not ready to leave the abuser yet consider these tools to protect your children. Make a concerted effort to find neighbors on your street or nearby that you can call when the children need somewhere safe to go. This is not something that happens naturally all of the time. Parents have to create this and it takes time, it well worth the time. You know the cycle of abuse in your family and you will know when you can have extra children in your home. Secondly, reach out to your child’s teachers. You do not need to get specific unless you want to. Saying to the teacher something along the lines of, “There is a lot of extra stress in our home these days because of ________. I would appreciate it if you could keep an eye on my child and let me know if you think there is something I need to be concerned about. Children will share things with teachers that they won’t with parents. I head of a story where a woman was hiding the abuse from her children, she thought they did not know. Her daughter went to school crying one day and told the teacher that; “Her daddy was going to kill her mother with a gun.” Teachers are mandatory reporters this goes a long way when women are not able to report. School personnel will report for families. Educate your children about domestic violence read my children’s book Anger is OKAY NOT Violence is NOT to your children more than once. This book is available at your local public library or at: www.juliefederico.com I am trying to educate families, offer hope instead of violence and help the 15.5 million children who are without a voice. I am quietly ending domestic violence one book at a time by getting children to report violence. Fourth and this may be the most challenging recommendation find a support system for yourself. People that you can call in an emergency or just on days when you need support. Most of the domestic violence shelters have outpatient counseling. If you are not able to find a support network a counselor is a great starting place. You do not need to stay at the shelter to receive these services. Do not try to do this alone, it is a very lonely path even when others are with you. To be completely alone is a recipe to never leave. Because no one is there with you to tell you what normal behavior is anymore. As time goes on your level of accepting dangerous behavior increases. Lastly, take some time to decide what type of home you would like to create for your children. What does it feel like? What does it look like? This is within your reach maybe not today but definitely in the tomorrows to come. It is never too late to create a happy home. Children need safety to develop and reach their highest potential. There is no greater gift a parent can give than the gift of safety. It is possible to get to higher ground.

Additional material:

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Beverly Engel

No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder

I never wanted to be a domestic violence expert

I never wanted to be a domestic violence expert.  I wanted to cure cancer or buy new tennis shoes for all of the homeless children in the country on the first day of school.  I could have gone on Oprah to share my secret knowledge of Science that led to my remarkable cancer cure discovery. Lives would have been saved, families protected.  No, instead I got a Ph.D. in domestic violence by default.  It snuck up on me; I was in the high school years of my degree before I knew what was happening.  I would have never said I was a victim of domestic violence because I was never hit.  If I had been mercifully hit one day soon after we were married in June of 1997 my life would have taken a much more positive turn.  How can one say getting physically assaulted would make their life go in a positive direction?  It is easy.  Had I been hit, I would have known without a shadow of a doubt that I was a victim and needed to escape, my family would have rallied around to support me and get me reorganized in an apartment. I would not have had two children with the abuser that sentenced me to an additional 18 years of unwanted abuse. I would have walked freely into a peasant life free of domestic violence.  I would have built a life with a man who loved me; I would have had children with a man who loved me.  Oh, how I long for this. How I long that I would have been hit, escaped, and rebuilt.  No, I was never hit.  I have been emotionally abused for now almost 20 years; this is where the expert title comes from, unfortunately. Don’t sign up for this lifestyle; it is hopeless and overwhelming.

If you or some you love is living with emotional abuse please know it is abuse.  It is abuse that is much more damaging than physical abuse because it does not present like abuse. There are no physical signs that you are being harmed.  It is easy to ignore the signals and dodge the danger of this isolating lifestyle.  If you look deeper and you will see all of the signs of domestic violence without the physical aspect.  Please seek help, please get to higher ground before it is too late and you have two children with your abuser.  18 years is too long to live in the haunting shadow of court ordered visits with a man who should be put into jail rather than receive custody of his children.  

Domestic shelters.org is a great place to start to look for help. Find help, be safe, get information.          https://www.domesticshelters.org/ 

I have written a children’s book for children living with domestic violence.  I believe it is a lifeline to them, giving children the correct and age-appropriate information they need to escape.  You can buy Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT at www.juliefederico.com or at your favorite bookstore.  This book is also available in Spanish.  Help is available please do not suffer alone.

Anatomy of Domestic Violence: How to Prevent Domestic Violence

The purpose of this blog is to describe the anatomy of domestic violence. “You can’t change what you do not understand.” Marilyn van Derbur

My thinking is if I can get people to understand domestic violence then I can get people to begin to prevent domestic violence. Domestic violence needs to be changed, doesn’t it? Abusing women and children is so say, outdated, isn’t it?

This is my first low lying, semi harmless, an elementary type of domestic violence story. I will share domestic violence descriptions that outsiders will not understand and insiders, those living with domestic violence will understand all too well. As I share these awful events there are continual themes that will run throughout the stories. Power, control, and manipulation are the top three. There are other themes but domestic violence starts with the premise that “ I am better than you. My needs matter more than yours, and in fact, since your needs don’t matter, I don’t even want to hear about them. If you feel that you must continue to share your insignificant needs, they will be dismissed every time.” Who would sign up for this?
I did.

Inside the DNA of domestic violence is that you are insignificant and unworthy and so undeserving of love. The worse I can make you feel about yourself and break you down the more likely your shattered self will continue to stay with me. The breaking down does not come all in one day, it is a series of events that happen several times a day, every day. I can chronicle thousands of these breaking down events that occurred in my relationship. They could fill volumes of books but I think it is significant to re-tell my first two encounters with power and control that lead to a pattern of domestic violence. I don’t think abusers play all of their cards at the beginning of a relationship. I know they don’t, this would be way too easy to spot. There is a long courting phase where the abuser is trying maneuvers out on you. Some people would exit a relationship based on these two stories, or even one of these two stories. I am forgiving, loyal, and I always give people the benefit of the doubt. My personality was the perfect drug for my abuser. He mainlined me every day. Other people would have left, blocked his phone number, and moved onto greener pastures. I did not recognize the warning signs as I do now. That is the purpose of these stories to educate the uneducated, to help end domestic violence. Thanks for reading! The domestic violence description is not pretty but the story needs to be told to educate others on how to stop domestic violence. Domestic violence can be stopped.

I dated my husband for three years before we were married. There was not a parade of red flags in his behavior that signaled the abusive behavior that was to come. He was pleasant, agreeable, fun, easy-going, and enjoyable to be around. When I rewind and view our three years of dating very few if any red flags were present. I think this is one of his personality skills to pretend to be someone he is not. He was and is very, good at creating this false self. The few incidents that I did witness did not lead me to draw the conclusion that he was dangerous, a narcissist, and we should break up.

October 1994. I had known my future husband for three months. In those three months we saw each other frequently, he made time in his schedule to walk the park with me after work and made dinner with me. On the weekends we went to the movies or spent time with friends. He was new to the city so I spent some time being the happy tour guide.

In mid-October, I came down with a nasty case of the flu. It struck suddenly and all I could manage to do was let my car coast on autopilot from work towards home. I could not stop at the store to buy the obligatory Aspirin, 7-up, and chicken soup. I got home, drew the blinds, crawled into bed, and placed a phone call to him. He said, “I’ll be right over.” I was thankful. When he came in, he was visibly annoyed. He had never seen me functioning at any level less than 100%. I was pale, feverous, and lying in bed. I said, “I am sick.” He said, “Where is your aspirin? Do you have any chicken soup?” I said, “No.” He went on a rage saying things like, “I can’t believe you are out of aspirin. Why do you not have any chicken soup?” Being someone who suffered from migraines I was never without this mandatory pharmacy item. I think this was the only time in my life that I was without aspirin in the house or car. He said, “Do you have 7-up? Do you have chicken soup?” But these were not simple questions they were accusations and his voice escalated with each question. I said I was too sick to go to the store. He said, “Well how are you going to get better if you don’t have these things?” He started rifling through my kitchen cabinets and found some soup and made it. What confused me was that his reaction to the situation and his intensity did not match the actual situation. He made me feel awful that I was out of these items. How could I let this happen? What kind of a low life person runs out of these staples? I found myself defending my lack of necessary resources then regretted that I did not call another friend instead of him. I don’t remember if he went out to the store as a sain person would have. I know he made the soup then left because he did not want to catch my illness. I remember thinking after this cloud had passed, “Boy, he does not really have a good bedside manner, does he?” But he had so many other positive qualities that I let this slide and we never spoke of it again. After I recovered, I remember buying several cans of chicken soup and three bottles of aspirin. This fact is fairly significant and replicated itself in our relationship more times than negative campaigns aids run on prime time television during election season. He got angry because I was out of flu supplies. Then I respectfully reformed my behavior to decrease his anger. I went shopping as soon as humanly possible because I did not want to come across this angry man again. I thought counterproductively if I never run out of aspirin again, I will never witness such hostility and unnecessary anger. This was my fatal flaw like when someone chooses to leave the site of a plane crash rather than deciding to stay with the wreckage and wait for help. Once the decision to leave the plane is made troubles begin to mount like an oncoming tsunami. I should have confronted his behavior, not try and compensate for it. This started a gambler’s addiction that continues to this day. I am still compensating for his negative choices. He will not provide our daughters with unconditional love so I am constantly trying to provide this in abundance for them and filling in the holes he has carelessly creates with pride.

The second time I witnessed his unpredictable anger was October 1996. We had just arrived in Mexico and were taking a cab from the airport to our hotel. I was thrilled to be there. I had never been out of the country before I was high on the humid air and the promise of a week at the beach. We were enjoying our ride to the hotel we had just sailed through customs since he was a native Spanish speaker. He looked at me like he had just lost his keys just before leaving for work and said, “Do you have a dollar to tip the driver?” I said, “No.” He said with more urgency than I ever use for everyday events, “You don’t have a dollar?” Then he escalated, “ I can’t believe you don’t have a dollar!” I said, “I don’t have change yet. I only have 20’s.” Then he said it more angrily, “I can’t believe you don’t have a dollar!” Like he just didn’t say this one minute earlier. I said, ”Do you have a dollar?” He said, “No.” Somehow his “No” was enough for me to comprehend. I did not ask the question again. I did not make him pay or feel like a second class citizen for not having the required change. Then he said again with more anger than necessary, “I can’t believe you don’t have a dollar!” I said nothing. I looked out the window wondering how in fact I did wind up in this cab without one US dollar.

I thought this behavior was so random and so bizarre it was almost funny to see someone getting all worked up over 8 pesos, which was the exchange rate for a dollar. I did not analyze this behavior for significant clues. Being the archeologist that I am today I should have asked, “Why is it solely up to me to provide the tip to the driver?” More importantly, you don’t have a dollar either. So why am I the one getting yelled at for this?” We both didn’t have change for the cabbie. It is not life-threatening. Let’s problem solve, how about you go into the hotel when we get there and get some change? That would be too simple, but more importantly, this was not part of his plan. This conversation and exchange were not about change at all. It was a way to throw me off balance and prove that he was in control of this relationship and called all of the shots. As they say, “Hein sight is 20/20.” Oh, how wish I had seen these signs. His abuse was like childbirth pains at first the contractions are days apart then they slowly become closer and closer together without any real warning. Near the end, there is barely time to catch your breath before the next wave of pain is upon you. Our relationship was like this. The abuse started out slow and oh, so subtle. Then the last few years of our marriage the abuse was daily, several times a day. It did not matter what I did it was never good enough for him. He held a standard of some miscellaneous issue over me. When I worked and reached the standard he set, he would then change what he wanted. My accomplishments were always unrewarded as the end result of what he wanted was always changing without warning.

What these two stories tell is the tip of the iceberg. I did not know at the time that I had stumbled upon on iceberg. I blew off these two incidences and did not give them the honor or respect that they demanded. If I had confronted him on these issues, I would have learned that yes, it was my fault that I became ill with no chicken soup. There would not be any grace for me in my relationship with him this was the bottom line. Whether I was without chicken soup or one US dollar. This was the standard it never changed only got increasingly worse as the years went on. I think both of these items from his standpoint were calculated. He wanted to see if I would react negatively. I did not. I made sure I was never in a cab with him again without change, I had more aspirin in my house than the legal limit. I should have thrown this all back and him and said something like, “People run out of soup. You have never run out of chicken soup?” “Why are you being such a nightmare, I am the one who is ill. You are supposed to take care of me! Get out never come back who knows what I might be out of next!!” Oh, how I wish I had said this. If you are reading this and the stories hit home in a way that you think I might be following you around town. Be aware, be alert, do not marry this man. Please listen to me.

Last-minute holiday gifts that protect children

I write prevention books that every child needs to have. At time time of year parents are busy buying things for their kids. I challenge you to make these gift count. My books have the potential to save children’s lives, there is no greater gift a parent can give than the gift of safety. I write on school violence prevention, domestic violence prevention and child abuse prevention. I break down each topic in a a way that even the youngest of readers can understand. Knowledge is power won’t you protect your children today?

To order: www.juliefederico.com

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Domestic Violence is Real

October is Domestic Violence awareness month.  I don’t think one month is enough time to shed a lot of light on domestic violence, it is a very complex issue.  But in light of this month’s celebration, I wanted to offer hope to women living with domestic violence.  If hope can be found when your life has been turned upside down and you can not really tell anyone what is going on.

The people who say domestic violence is not real are the same people who say the Holocaust was a hoax.  Domestic violence is real, the pain is real, the chaos and dysfunction equally as real.   It is unfortunately true, it is all too real.  I think when you admit out loud that it is real, you can begin to accept the current situation, and then most importantly begin to change it. 

You need to think only in these simple terms and not shovel grief, regret, and guilt on yourself. Many women spend so much time trying to answer the peaceful sleep interrupted question, “How did I get here? How did I not see this coming?” That they lose sight of the more important question, “Why am I staying?” Don’t spend too much time trying to answer questions that will not benefit you greatly. At this time you need to conserve your energies, don’t look backward only look forward.  Where do you want to be next Christmas morning, do you want to wake up to a peaceful holiday?  Or more of the same dysfunction?  

Abuse is calculated and you were groomed to accept this completely inappropriate behavior that you are living with now. It started with many small acts that sacrificed and ignored your needs. At first, it is so easy to dismiss this behavior.  For example, you never get to eat at the restaurants that you like, only the restaurants that he likes. This theme goes to you trying to turn up the heat in the car while you are driving. He turns it off and says, “You are not cold.”  Each of these things in isolation is not cause for alarm.  In an abusive relationship, this behavior will lead to other inappropriate behaviors more damaging.  What the abuser is doing is baiting you.  He is sending out small problems to you, not eating at your restaurant, not allowing you to use the heater.  He does these intentional low lying behaviors then watches your response.  To your credit you probably just thought this issue was about the heat in the car, right?   It isn’t but at the beginning, you would not know this.  It is not until you educate yourself about abusers’ behavior that you start to see how you were led into this abusive relationship.   It was task by task, item by item. No one meets someone for the first time, goes out to a nice dinner, and gets beaten up on the way home.  This would be waaay too easy. All of your self-protective sirens would be ringing at full speed.  You would get out of the car and say, “I never want to see you again!”  The abuser knows this intuitively they are an expert witness at human behavior.  In the beginning, abusers are hands down some of the most charming people you can meet.  They appear like the boy next door and will do anything for you. There is no standard timetable on when this changes, it just changes over time. Abusers are very patient while they create a seemingly perfect life with you only to turn the tables later.  If none of your needs ever get met and there is an unbalance of power in the relationship you are in an abusive relationship. You may wake up every day upset and unable to identify what is bothering you. Think of the unbalance of power, how as a couple you are always working to meet his endless need list.  Your needs never make the cut, this makes people feel anxious and unloved. You are not crazy, you are living in an unhealthy relationship. I think you should put this on a post-it note in your office.  So often the abuser wants you to believe you are crazy, this absorbs them of any wrongdoing.  Seeing small things like this can make a big difference in your thinking.  It can lead you on the path to wellness.

You should not spend your time changing something that does not need to be changed.  Domestic violence needs to be changed, domestic violence is not fair to those in its ugly web.  The damage that it does to children is life-changing.  If you have young daughters you are training them to accept this type of behavior in their future relationships.  If you have boys you are grooming them to be junior abusers.  Either of these things is enough for women to make changes to leave.  Many times women can not make changes for themselves because they have fallen into the belief of their abuser that their life and their needs are worth nothing.  I say if you feel into this belief, in time you can fall out of it. 

 “You are special too, don’t lose yourself.” Ernest Hemingway

Before women can even begin to think about leaving they have to take stock of their relationship.  They have to see the abuser as calculated and completely intentional in his behavior.  Their favorite trick is to get you to believe that your life and your needs are not important.  They work to get you to this point by repeated abuse, but then in time, they can back off because you believe this to your core.  They step back, smile at their twisted work, and silently celebrate that you are seeing yourself as worthless.  Don’t fall into this trap and it is a very large, tight, deadly trap.  Step back, become an observer in your own life, and see things from a different perspective.  When you become more objective you will start to see what is really going on.  It is not good news, don’t freak out.  Just become aware, notice things, start to accept your reality.  Don’t try to change what is happening in your house, I think this is a waste of your precious energy. Abusers don’t’ change, you can change, you can live happily ever after.  For next steps visit www.domesticshelters.org for life-changing resources.  You are not alone there is a team of people waiting by the phone for you:

1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

For the month of October, I am offering Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT at a significant discount on my website: www.juliefederico.com

How to prevent domestic violence and child abuse.

Prevention books for children ages 0-9 years old. There is no greater gift a parent can give than the gift of safety. Protect your children today!

Domestic Violence and Children