Category Archives: Courage

Speech – Light Arizona Purple

Hello, friends…it’s been a while…

The following is a speech I made a year ago, in October 2015, well before this horrible campaign and election. I believe what I said applies even more now. I am less optimistic about changes now as I was when I wrote and presented this speech, but as individuals we have to keep changing our culture of violence. We just do. One on one on one…..

Thank you to all of you for your commitment to Ending Domestic Violence.

I am honored and grateful to be here as we begin Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Arizona.

I am a survivor of a 20-year marriage to a very intelligent psychological abuser. I needed and sought help from many sources, including 6 pastors in 4 states, police in two states, counselors, friends, family, physicians and one advocate.  Their counsel ranged from cluelessly dangerous to somewhat helpful.

In 2012, 12 years after leaving my abuser, I came to the office of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and told the advocate, “I can’t think, or make decisions, or trust, or relax, or move forward. I’m frozen. Do you think this might have something to do with Domestic Violence?” I was heard, educated, supported and referred to appropriate help. I am so grateful!

But my story is not what is important tonight. You can Google thousands of stories, images and details about Domestic Violence among millions and more millions of stories, told or untold.

It is the millions, and more millions I want to address.

Because they include you.

One out of 4 women are abused by a partner. One out of 7 men. On Indian reservations the statistics are much higher. Consider just 25% of all women whose stories are reported. Add to that all the women who have not reported their abuse. Add families who watch helplessly, or live on after burying murdered daughters or sisters. Add neighbors who watch and worry. Add First Responders who may risk their lives to investigate, and their families who worry, or who may also have buried someone who was protecting a victim. Add medical personnel who see the trauma in emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and psychiatric settings. Add schools, with too many traumatized kids and missed days. Add employers. Add tireless and dedicated advocates. Add those who see the images on the news and other media. Add yourself. Add everyone else.

We are all victims of Domestic Violence.

We are here tonight to Light Arizona Purple, and say together IT CAN STOP.

But to END Domestic Violence we must address the CAUSE, the machine that continues to produce Abusers and Victims.

This cause is A CULTURE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN – and it is changing.

Programs are changing the culture: Wonderful programs have begun changing how children and youth understand behavior toward one another, how masculinity is defined, how girls and women are portrayed in advertising and media.

Media is changing the culture: NO MORE and other media blitzes are crucial, a counterpoint to much violence in other areas of media. The visibility of, and response to, violence against women via sports and entertainment has attracted attention and stimulated education and mindset change.

Grass-roots Education is changing the culture: in talks, events, and other avenues.

Victim’s services are changing the culture: providing supports and education for recovery, skills and new expectations for life without abuse – for children and adults.

VICTIMS FIND SAFETY AND ARE BELIEVED.  PERPETRATORS ARE INCREASINGLY BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

BUT WE NEED TO DO MORE…AND DO IT NOW!  WHAT IS MISSING?

BYSTANDERS

Jackson Katz has posed the question that if 3% of men do violence against men, women, and children, violence that women have not been able to stop, what are the 97% of good men, the bystanders, doing?

What I want to point out is that WE ARE ALL BYSTANDERS, as WE ARE ALL VICTIMS.

We are all in this, like it or not.

Let me illustrate. In the past few weeks, I have experienced 3 incidents of males insulting females in social settings.

A man approached my female friend and me at a restaurant. He said the guests sitting near us must be teachers “Because they are women and talk a lot.” Then he made a joke that boy birds have beaks that are closed, but girl birds have beaks that are wide open.  We calmly told him he had the wrong audience and we didn’t like his joke. He simply moved away. If enough people don’t like his jokes about women, he might move on to healthier jokes. Our response was easy and private.

A second situation was a hosted dinner-seminar with 10 people who had not met before. During conversation, one man made a remark about compulsive shopping, “you know how women are.” I didn’t laugh, but others chuckled with amusement…or maybe politeness. Later, another man declared, “I’m straight up, honest, you know who I am and what I stand for…not like a woman.” Again laughter…from at least some of the women as well.

This time I didn’t want to risk being rude or creating awkwardness out of respect for the host. We know, consciously or unconsciously, that if I had responded “I don’t like that” to those statements, the group may have seen not the rude men, but me as the source of the ensuing social awkwardness.  The silent bystanders were likely “taking the high road” “not making a fuss” or maybe they just agreed with the statements.  I might have been thought to be “too politically correct” “no fun,” or “an emotional female.”

I felt much like I did when I considered the backlash for me and to my daughters if I didn’t accept and participate in the abuse in our home. I felt like any victim who has seen anyone turn their gaze away from her abuser to her, and ask what she did to make him mad.

Just as victims of abuse are silenced, either by words and the power behind them – as by the threat of physical pain, or harm to innocent persons, so also – those who reject the culture of gender insult and violence have been silenced, either by words and the power behind them, as by the threat of retaliation in jobs, family or infinitely varied social sanctions.

We are all victims and all bystanders.

These examples seem too mild to address. But this is where Domestic Violence and its supporting social systems start. These statements show a mindset that stereotypes women as foolish, untrustworthy or other negative attributes. Which is low-level social violence. These stereotypes evolve to subconscious truth, then to excuses for disrespect, and finally to justification for abuse.

Domestic Violence is so much easier to combat at this stage, because long before his hand is around her throat, the abuser has already absorbed years of input from his culture about what is acceptable and what is not. He has learned what will be sanctioned or punished, what will be ignored and for what he will be made accountable. Others have taught him who is likely to make him accountable and who will pass it over. He may also have been abused, and internalized that this is the way life is, with no one telling him otherwise.

As a people we are aware of some of the cultural forces within which we operate; most we just accept, or navigate with little effort because we have become desensitized to the harsher tactics as we function within them. As I study word use, cultural bias, and why people believe what they do, I am in awe of how our words define our culture, as they define the way we ourselves think. Our words are tremendously powerful.

So it is up to us to become aware that the little things are not so little. Are we willing to take an honest look at our own bystander awareness and kick it up a notch by defining what we will and will not do to change our Culture of Violence against Women? Are we willing to accept that EVERYONE is affected on all levels by Domestic Violence, and to see all of us as victims and as survivors?

We don’t have to start a fight to challenge this Culture of Violence against Women. We just have to become RE-sensitized to what we are really saying and hearing, choose what we are willing to face up to in order to change our culture, and DO IT.

NOW is the time to stop just talking ABOUT Domestic Violence, and ACT.

Actively learn more. Be aware. Challenge your own stereotypes. Challenge others.

Financially support the agencies and programs that are saving lives and changing minds

We are all victims of Domestic Violence.

We are all bystanders of Domestic Violence.

And, to the extent that we passively condone a culture of Violence against Women, we are also perpetrators of Domestic Violence.

It is for everyone to transform a Culture of Violence.

The time is NOW.

It Can Stop.

End Domestic Violence.

The Faith of a……..

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The Faith of a……

Green and alive, a kaleidoscope in swaying tender grass. A whispered breeze, its breath bearing the fragrance of honeysuckle. Early morning, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful day. A child. Sweet tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy, plump, and slightly sweaty cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body resting, still for once, as all intention focused upward, in adoration and anticipation. Daddy. Papa. Abba!  

The faith of a child.

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Adorned with flowers, a kaleidoscope in sunlight dancing through intricate stained glass. Breathless stillness echoing restrained yet festive voices. A young woman, tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body moving, all intention focused ahead. A Savior. A man. One flesh. Mystery.

 

The faith of a woman.

Ephesians 5 in motion. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205&version=NIV

She makes her groom a lovely dinner. He doesn’t like it. Or her driving, or the way she does her hair. He asks her to keep herself more presentable and lose weight. He doesn’t laugh at her jokes. He snorts with derision at her requests and suggestions. He corrects her choice of words. He insists she cooks the eggs just right, and hangs his shirts just so. He makes himself clear, whether loudly, or quietly. He lets her know that her hobbies and work are somehow inferior. He brings her flowers. Takes her to dinner. To church. He acts gallant and she loves him. He becomes angry and controlling, and she tries to please him. The cycle continues. Romance and retribution. Love and fear. Hope and despair. She becomes isolated from friends. Unsure of herself. Timid. She wonders if she is losing her mind.

Sun streaming in windows of a home that always feels dark. Bright, guarded eyes, darting to and from his face, alert to the ebb and flow of his mood. A body rigid, all intention fearfully focused on learning the rules, and following them perfectly. Or else.

She prays that God will heal her, heal him, and bless her with strength and wisdom. She listens to others, and tries to do what they tell her is right, because something seems wrong with her faith, with her, and her marriage. She doesn’t know what to believe any more. She talks about this at her Bible study. She doesn’t know she is experiencing psychological and emotional abuse. No one else does either. Time passes, children are born, and she walks a tightrope between joy in her life and children, and fear of her husband. She is so tired.

And she can’t please him. He says it is her fault. He wouldn’t get so angry if she was a better wife, a better Christian. Then he wouldn’t want to hit her, or body block her against the wall, or tickle her too hard, threaten her with the children, or humiliate her in bed. Or embarrass her in public. It’s just that he loves her so much, and it could be so much better. If she would just get it right.

She goes to church, and talks with friends, hears sermons, and reads her Bible. She dares to speak to her pastor and a few Christian friends. They tell her to submit to her husband and that God will honor her. That if she is completely obedient, God will be her protector. That she should walk by faith, not by sight. She is told that he might be an unbeliever, in which case her goodness and kindness could win him over. And that she should not let the sun go down on her anger. That she should forgive seventy times seven. She is suffering for and with Christ. God hates divorce. Their relationship mirrors that of Christ and the Church, and she must keep trying.

What they just told her is TO SHUT UP AND PUT UP.

She is NOT in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an ABUSIVE marriage. Her husband does not relate to her as Christ to the Church. He does not honor her. He does not love her. He will not change. He sees no need to change. He is entitled. He is a 2 Timothy 3:1-4 man.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Timothy%203:1-4&version=NIV

Over time, she will find that neither God nor her husband seem to honor her submission or obedience. She wonders, as the abuse escalates, what to do about the reality of her life by “sight” while she is waiting in faith…for what, now? She wants to leave, but is afraid for herself and her children, and of what he might do.  There is so much unexpressed anger and frustration at unresolved and un-repented meanness that she goes to sleep with it and wakes with it. She drives it inward, downward until it doesn’t show, and becomes depression. She wills herself to forgive, but doesn’t really know what it means any more. She is suffering but wonders why God wants it that way, since she has prayed and believed and valiantly suffered for Christ. But she just doesn’t feel any of the peace that passes understanding that was promised. Or wisdom. And since she feels fear, not love, God must not be pleased with her. But she doesn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t seem to hear HER prayers. And she is tired, and confused, and doesn’t trust her husband, or God, or Christians who counsel her. She wants to be strong and be noble for the faith, but there just isn’t much left. She no longer knows what to believe. She no longer believes.

One in four women are abused to some degree. And the children, who carry it into the next generation.  The church is NOT immune. Christian Domestic Violence Advocates, who attempt to educate others, tell me that those in CHURCHES are the hardest to reach, because they are afraid the advocate is promoting divorce. I have encountered rigid theology, in which the letter of the word is more important than the soul of the abused. 

httpfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com~florencenywindowsAltar.htm

 

Shards of sunlight reflected from intricate stained glass. Voices from inside, singing? A woman, traces of curl limp against a shadowed face. Steady, guarded eyes, hooded by disappointment and mistrust. A body moving, one foot after the other. No savior. Nothing left to say. Nothing left to trust.

The faith of a victim.

The End.

 

No, no…NO!

I don’t like the way this story ends. So let’s write a different ending:

She is not in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an abusive marriage. She talks to her pastor, and to her Christian friends. They listen respectfully, carefully and lovingly to her. They assume her truthfulness, and choose to believe her. They don’t know what to say, at first, other than, “I am so sorry you are dealing with this. He seems so nice; I never knew. What do you think you need? How can I support you?” Then they look for information on the type of behavior she has described, and learn about abuse. They tell her what they learned. They present options, but don’t push. They give her support to leave, or to stay, knowing that she is united with Christ one way or the other. They remind her that God loves her, and doesn’t want her to be abused. That fear and anger are normal, but she will move past them and again know joy. They re-read and study up on Malachi 2:16 so they can regard it the way it was likely intended. They include her in fellowship that is fun and healthy, and has nothing to do with jots and tittles. They point her to agencies, and advocates, and wait with her as she makes her choices, in whatever time it takes. And if she does divorce, she becomes a single woman, not a tainted woman. It wasn’t her fault. She bears no shame. They remind her of this. They remind OTHERS of this. As often and as long as necessary. I have also known those who understand, and speak words of strength and love and encouragement.

Amber and gold, swirling grasses bow and sway. A fragrant fall breeze, bearing the scent of mown hay.  Leaves frolic and dance, as if celebrating the abundant harvest. A warm and mild afternoon, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful sunset. A woman. Sweet tendrils of curl springing free to gently caress a  sun tanned cheek. Wise, wide open, unguarded eyes calmly gazing with serenity and trust. A body resting, focused inward, in adoration and companionship. Jesus. Abba!DSCN0041

The faith of a survivor.

The Beginning.

September Gift of Words

 “It’s like that Truman sign. ‘The buck stops here.’ A hero is someone who makes sure that the evil stops with them.”  Jo, the main character of October Snow, a novel by Jenna Brooks.

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I’m not afraid anymore. I will be stronger, and I will protect myself and those I love with my own clenched fists. Keep watching. Pia – An Infinite Solitude

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Here’s what God wanted me to grasp within my spirit: “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.-Ecclesiastes 5:20(ESV)

Something changed when I read this verse. God spoke to me about my future. I was to trust that it would be good, it would be prosperous. No longer did I worry about the future effects of the many ailments of my body; my heart was going to be occupied by joy. Joy? Yes… yes indeed. I could definitely do that. Will I face challenges? Yes. Will I have to shed a few tears now and then? Probably. But the sum total of my life was not going to be the management of pain; I am going to be pre-occupied by and engrossed in joy.

….Since I have let go of that worry, I have experienced such joy, peace, and a mission from God (pun intended. lol). When I made the decision to not let the management of pain dictate the direction of my life, the joy came flooding in; every crack and space of my heart.  The Great Plains Poet

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Theologian Frederick Buechner once told a graduating class:

“The voice we should listen to most, as we choose a vocation, is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest? What can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint or canvas?” Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words? Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing, and it is our thing, and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.”

Can you trust what makes you “glad? Could that really be the voice of your “calling?”

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him…. The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him….” – Thomas Merton Morning Story and Dilbert

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Choose your battles carefully. Some battles really aren’t worth fighting. Ask yourself, “What am I fighting for?” If you discover that the battle has more to do with your ego than anything else, it may not be worth the fight. You may want to take the higher road. Kristin Barton Cuthriell’s The Snowball Effect 

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Psychological freedom, much like physical and political freedom, requires vigilance.

If you’re not militant about your well-being, this world will knock the wind out of your sails, flatten you on your back, and grind you beneath its feet.

Assertiveness is not the enemy of kindness; it’s the bodyguard of kindness. It’s there to protect what others choose to neglect.

If an abusive or manipulative energy pattern manifests in your life, do the most dignified, democratic, and diplomatic thing you can possibly do: ANNIHILATE IT!

You’re nobody’s clown. You’re nobody’s tool. You’re nobody’s slave. You’re nobody’s punching bag. You’re nobody’s emotional sponge.

Psychological vigilance isn’t about harming or killing people. It’s about getting rid of self-defeating patterns and self-negating perspectives.

It’s about telling the enemies of your inner peace and spiritual freedom that they’re messing with the wrong {insert your favorite expletive here}.

It’s about looking at the elements of oppression that seek to be a part of your life and firmly saying, “let me help you die!”   T.K. Coleman 

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Blessings, Diane

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