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The most important relationship that any girl has with a parent is the one with her father.   As today is Father’s Day, I felt that it was only fitting to discuss the relationship that I had with my own father that formulated the person that I am today.

First of all, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I loved and respected my father very much. But, my father was raised in a very strict environment and that is the home that he created for us.  I was the middle child with an older sister and younger brother.  My brother was only 15 months younger than me so I was never really the baby.  As for my sister, she was the first to experience everything so that it wasn’t as exciting by the time things were handed down to me.  Of course, this included clothing as well as just about anything else that you can think of.

The biggest thing that both my sister and I faced with our father was that he was extremely concerned with our appearance.  For my sister, at a young age (under 10), he put her on an exercise regimen that included sit-ups, etc.   Since that didn’t work for my sister, he decided that he would put me on a diet and if I didn’t lose 10 pounds by summer, I was not going to be allowed to wear shorts.

The other big thing for me was that my father, and later my brother, never felt that I measured up to my potential.  Nothing that I could do was ever good enough.  When I got great grades in school, it was expected, not rewarded as they were for my brother and sister.  When I became a cheerleader, my parents never once came to any game or to any parade in which we marched.  When it was college time, there were three of us in school at the same time so I stayed at home to go to college and worked every day after school from the time that I was 16 so that I could pay for my own education.  My reward was that there was never enough money left for me to get new clothes, etc. after they got those things for my brother and sister and paid for them to go to college out of town.

As a result, when I found a man who was interested in me and gave me attention, I was “grateful”, I guess.  I finally had a male who thought that I was something special.  My dad didn’t seem to think that I was special so I would show him.  And when I got married and my dad told me that I was not welcome in his home if I brought my husband because he did not approve of him, well, that was the final straw.

Although I didn’t experience any abuse from my husband until after we were several months into the marriage, I could not bring myself to let anyone know.  After all, I had once again proven my dad right by not being smart enough to know what I was getting myself into.  It was up to me to either fix it or be smart enough to find my way out of it.  What a mess! 

I never did figure out what was going on at the time that I was in that relationship but I did learn so much about myself.  Although it took until the point where I could not stand the abuse any longer for me to leave, I am so glad that I had the presence of mind to do so.  And the most interesting thing is that it was my mother and father who were there to move me out the day that I left.  How ironic!

I would love your comments.

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As an adult, when we find ourselves in abusive relationships, we have the ability to talk to others, seek help and find ways to get away from the abuse.  Certainly it is not an easy thing to do but it is a choice that we can make.  However, children do not have the opportunities to know their resources and even if they do, are usually intimidated into believing whatever threats are made by their abuser.

I don’t have any children and I do not personally know any child that has suffered from physical abuse.  I do know that if I were aware of a child being abused, I would not hesitate to go to the authorities.  I would not try to handle the matter with the parent or parents as I am not trained to do so.  Nor would I be willing to risk the well-being of any child or children by allowing the parents to find ways to hide the children or try to hide the abuse or take the children and run.

Verbal abuse is an entirely different situation.  Many parents and other adults that I have met along the way do not find anything wrong with the way that they speak to their children.  For example, if a child is not doing well in school, they have no problem with telling the child that he/she is a loser and will never amount to anything.  They tell the children that they are dumb, stupid, etc. and go on their way, never thinking twice about the ramification of their words.  Then there are those who have children who do a fantastic job but regardless of their achievements, it is never enough.  They are expected to do well and if they don’t meet the parents’ expectations, then they are not trying hard enough or they are lazy or they don’t care and on and on and on.

I don’t think that there is a single person who is reading this blog who has not either personally experienced such behavior directly or saw others inflicting this upon other children.  Many girls are told that they are too fat or two skinny or too ugly, etc. and end up spending their adult life so self-absorbed in their personal appearance that they never even consider that they are beautiful people just for the people that they are.  They never consider that their real happiness in life would be found with a person who appreciates their willingness to trust and to nurture and to be allowed to be just whom and what they are.

Many of the same things happen for boys.  If they are not into playing sports and being the big man on campus and working out in the gym all of the time, they are constantly being reminded that they are failures as men and less than desirable and that no woman would ever be interested in them.  They have a difficult time growing into adults who understand that physical acumen has nothing to do with being a wonderful husband and great human being.  And the sad part here is that the abuse usually comes from the fathers who never succeeded in the athletic arena themselves and are now trying to live vicariously through their sons.

I do understand that most people act and talk to their children this way in the hope that it will spur them on to do bigger and better things.  After all, this is the way that the children’s parents were treated by their own parents.  However, if every adult would stop to think about the verbal abuse that they experienced as they grew up, I think that it would be a whole different ballgame.  How did you do in your adult life as a result of being told that you were dumb, stupid, lazy, too fat, too skinny, not smart enough, not working to your potential, not doing the best that you can, etc.?  How has such verbal abuse diminished you as a person?  How much did you buy into the abuse that was repeated to you over and over and over?  And now, most importantly, as a result of this abuse, how has it changed you as the person you are and what are you going to do to change from who you were told you are into the person that you actually are?  The easiest way will be to start speaking to the children in your life in a manner that is completely respectful and to offer your help and knowledge to them if they need it.  The more that you treat the children with dignity and respect, the more you will become a positive role-model in their lives and the more respect you will have for yourself which will lead you to being the person that you truly are and/or want to be.  And we will not end up raising another generation of people who will perpetuate the same destructive behavior on their children as we have been doing for so many generations.

If you need help or have questions about child abuse or child neglect, check out www.childhelp.org.

I would love your comments.

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I am honored by all of the responses that I received from a lot of really strong, courageous women who took on the fight and got out of their abusive situations no matter what the cost to them.  I think that there is one aspect left to discuss before moving on to another subject and that deals with starting over.  Here again, I am only sharing what I chose for myself and this is not to say that whatever anyone else chooses is wrong.  My choice is what worked for me.

I will never forget the day that I left.  The feeling of freedom was indescribable.  I felt that I had been given a new life and I had every intention of doing the best with it that I possibly could.  Although there were the immediate matters with which to deal, I knew that I had to handle them quickly and put them behind me if I was ever going to be able to start over. 

I got a divorce and ultimately left the state.  My ex had no idea where I was and I was pretty sure that he did not have the resources to find me.  I spent all of my time and effort securing a new job, new friends and a new life.  Whenever something from the past intruded, I made every effort to put it aside as quickly as possible.  I had spent enough time living the nightmare and I did not plan to keep re-living it for the rest of my life. 

Although my experience was really bad, I have chosen to learn from it and never held on to any hate and/or anger.  I understand that my ex was an extremely troubled person who felt that it was okay to take his anger and insecurities out on me.  I had to reach the point where I realized that there was nothing that I could do to change the situation and that there was nothing that I was doing to cause his behavior.  I needed to leave in order to survive and that was it.  I did learn that he died a few years ago, all alone, on Christmas Day.

The bigger lesson that I needed to learn was that I could learn from the past but not live in the past.  I could not change what had happened during those years but I could allow the lessons of that time to shape a kinder, gentler me.  I had the ability to structure a whole new life in which I could treat people with all of the kindness and love and understanding that I had not received in my marriage.  I also learned that all that I have is today and that when I go to bed at night, I wanted to be proud of the day that I had created.  The lessons that I have learned have become the basis for the lyrics for the music CD that my husband and I have created.  Not surprisingly, it is titled “Let Life Happen” and was the pre-cursor to my blog and the website.  Please feel free to share the music on this website and you will have a better understanding of the lessons that I have learned from that abusive time.

If you or anyone you know might need help, Check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

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With the big story in the news regarding the violence that occurred in the relationship between Chris Brown and Rhianna, the question that keeps surfacing is why Rhianna would go back to Chris after that beating.  Was she just that dumb, stupid, crazy, etc.?  Many people think so and everyone has lots of advice to give but unless you have been in that situation yourself, you have no idea about the dynamics that are in play.

I have no idea why Rhianna has chosen to stay with Chris, if, in fact, that is the choice that she has made.  However, I can share my particular situation and the reasons that I stayed in my abusive relationship.  But as no two people, and therefore, no two relationships are the same, I can’t begin to advise someone else about what is best for them.

I was married the first time at the age of 24.  My husband and I dated for a year and although he did tend to drink a bit too much on occasion, it was never a problem.  We both worked and loved to play tennis in our spare time.  We lived together the last 3 months of that year and decided that marriage was good for both of us.  The honeymoon lasted 4 months.  I don’t know what brought about the change but he did become a different person.  He stopped working and began drinking and smoking pot on a regular basis.  And within a very short period of time, he decided that rather than defending his actions, he would go on the offensive and started to accuse me of cheating on him when it was he who was cheating on me. 

When he did come home, he started with the accusations and progressed to slapping and punching me.  I never raised a hand to him nor did I verbally abuse or even yell at him.  I was afraid to do so because I was afraid that he would get even more violent.  Things escalated to the point where I had a loaded gun in my face on a regular basis and he threatened to kill me.  As a result of my fear, he was able to control my comings and goings.  He would show up at my office to check on me to be sure that I wasn’t flirting with someone.  When I got home after work and on weekends, he would call to make sure that I was home and it didn’t take long for me to follow the rules in order to avoid the repercussions.  If he returned home at 3 a.m. and wanted something to eat, he dragged me out of bed and would verbally and physically abuse me until I did what he wanted.  And, most importantly, with a gun in hand, he regularly reminded me that if I ever decided to leave, he would hunt me down and kill me.

The day after our 10th wedding anniversary, I moved out.  I had reached the point where I felt that if he did come after me and kill me, it would be preferable to living as I had for so long.  I had returned to him every day during all that time because I had made a commitment to spend the rest of my life with him.  I returned each day because I thought that I could find a way to fix things.  I returned each day because I loved him.  I returned each day because I couldn’t imagine abandoning another human being who had no job and no money.  And I returned each day because of the fear of death.  But, the day that I left, I knew that regardless of whatever may come my way in the future, I would never have a bad day now that I was free.  And I have never had a bad day since.

If you or anyone you know might need help, Check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

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