Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yes, female vets get shot at AND they have PTSD too

This article below is about women in the military, and it doesn't really deal with domestic violence, but talks about a lot of the issues we’ve been discussing here in the Haven. If you read down to the end, it talks about women coming back from combat with PTSD, but when they go to the VA for help, they are asked – how could you have PTSD since we don’t have women in combat? The answer being – Congress says we don’t have women in combat, but the enemy in Iraq didn’t get that memo and they shoot at us just like they do the men. And some of these women devolve into self-destructive behavior, self-harming, homelessness, largely ignored by a society that doesn’t realize what they’re going through. Sound familiar?

But perhaps the most striking part of the story concerns a race for a seat in the House of Representatives in Illinois. The incumbent is Joe Walsh, not the guitarist but the politician, an extremist who is also a tax evader and a deadbeat dad who owes his ex $100,000 in child support. The challenger is Tammy Duckworth, a chopper pilot who lost her legs and the use of one arm in Iraq. Walsh’s reaction to Duckworth’s campaign? "What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran ... ehhh. Now let's move on." That’s a direct quote.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

How we learned about PTSD

When will society recognize PTSD among survivors of domestic violence?

Let’s look at how the world learned about PTSD and related disorders.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of a group of similar conditions, known variously through history as shell shock, soldier’s heart, combat stress reaction, and so forth. Trauma became much easier to spot and discuss in the 19th century, when technology made warfare much more dangerous and traumatic to soldiers. The American Civil War introduced the combat model of large numbers of soldiers armed with rifles, firing out in the open. As a result, there were staggering combat casualties. Once the troops began to see the incredible body counts in the battles, psychological trauma skyrocketed – in fact it was the second-most common diagnosis by battlefield doctors. Psychiatry was still barely in its infancy back then, and the doctors didn’t even have the vocabulary to describe psychological trauma, to say nothing of actually treating it.

Although the science wasn’t moving very forward quickly on the psychiatric front, it was positively galloping forward in the field of military technology. World War One introduced trench warfare, gas warfare, tanks, machine guns, aerial bombing and other horrors. Psychological trauma among soldiers increased again: as an incredible 56 percent of soldiers were physically wounded in the war, the numbers of psychologically damaged soldiers also shot up. In WWI, literally millions of soldiers went home from the war showing a whole gallimaufry of trauma symptoms. The problem became harder to ignore, but people still didn’t really know what trauma was, and diagnosis was still primitive. During WWI the British believed that the damage was actually caused by the shaking effect of artillery shelling, and only soldiers who showed trauma symptoms during an artillery attack got military pensions.

A key player is this drama was actually George Patton, one of America’s generals in World War Two. At one point in 1943, one of his officers told him that his 1st Infantry Division reportedly had a lot of lazy soldiers faking illness in order to avoid combat. Patton visited a hospital shortly thereafter; most of the soldiers of course jumped to attention when Patton arrived, but one guy, Charles Kuhl, was sitting on a stool, essentially in a catatonic daze. Patton asked him whether he was wounded, and he replied "I guess I can't take it.” Patton slapped Kuhl in the face with his gloves, dragged him by the collar to the tent entrance, and kicked his butt, calling him a son of a bitch and a gutless bastard. Patton visited other patients, and then left the tent to yell at Kuhl again. A week later, Patton did the exact same thing, slapping another soldier at a hospital.

Once word of these incidents got out, some Americans were outraged, but many supported Patton. Kuhl’s parents didn’t want Patton to get into trouble, and even Kuhl said Patton was a great general. Kuhl also said something odd -- "I think at the time it happened, he [Patton] was pretty well worn out himself.” Eisenhower, Patton’s army boss, insisted that Patton apologize to Kuhl but rejected demands that Patton be fired. It was discovered that Kuhl also had malaria; when Patton apologized, he said he hadn’t known how sick Kuhl was. Then Patton apologized to the other soldiers who had been there at the first incident also.

But in the meantime, more and more people began talking about the impact of combat on men like Kuhl during and after WWII. Like WWI, WWII sent millions of men home with terrible symptoms of trauma: during the war itself one-tenth of active-duty troops were hospitalized for psychological trauma, and men who served on the front lines for 35 or more straight days had an incredible 98 percent chance of psychological problems. Society at large, and the psychological community, were taking more notice.

In the 1970s two things gave forward impetus to the cause to learn more about trauma. First, psychiatry, long mired in a morass of shock therapy, over-medication and over-reliance on the myths of Freud, began to grow up, as a scientific discipline. And second, a generation of vets came back from Vietnam loaded with trauma symptoms. The linkages between PTSD, combat service, and homelessness became easier to see.

Over the next 40 years, psychiatry got better at diagnosing and treating trauma, although there are still plenty of growing pains. The DSM manual is still changing its definitions of disorders, doctors still give up on patients and resort to heavy medication, and there are still many doctors who are sadly under-trained in what PTSD actually is. A particular problem is that doctors, instead of making the effort to offer therapy sessions which allow PTSD patients to safely confront their traumatic past and manage their trauma better, will take the lazy way out and just mask the problem by stupefying their patients with antidepressants. “Here’s your prescription – who’s next?”

The vast stream of very weary soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is forcing the Veterans Administration to take a good look at how they help trauma victims today.

So what is the next battle? The psychiatric community has recognized and studied PTSD, and the military community has recognized the epidemic of PTSD within its ranks. So when is the world community going to recognize that, in America for example, there are a million abusers abusing a million women? Ten thousand injured every day, a thousand killed every year, an epidemic of destructive emotional abuse? Thousands and thousands of PTSD women who either haven’t been diagnosed at all, or have been improperly treated by doctors who don’t fully understand the syndrome? And numbers just as bad, or worse, all across the world? Why do these women need to go to people like the Veterans Administration to get working aids and research on PTSD, all larded with tough macho advice aimed at soldiers? The world has recognized soldiers with trauma – it’s time they recognized the survivors of domestic violence too.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

PTSD resources

Since PTSD has popped up as a serious topic for many members of our sister site, I’ve been digging up more tools you can use – stuff you can read up on.

First, here is some help from the Veteran’s Administration, which has taken the lead in the government’s effort against PTSD.

The Center’s home -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp
What is PTSD? -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/what-is-ptsd.asp -- and -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/understanding_ptsd/booklet.pdf
A PTSD 101 course -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd101/ptsd-101.asp
PTSD and women -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/fslist-specific-women.asp
How is PTSD treated? -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/treatment-ptsd.asp
How do I get help? -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/faq-about-ptsd.asp -- and http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp
How do I cope with PTSD? -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/fslist-self-help-cope.asp
Does someone you know have PTSD? -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/helping-family-member.asp -- and -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/fslist-family-relationships.asp

Next, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

A good tutorial on PTSD -- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/ptsd/htm/_no_50_no_0.htm or http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/ptsd/htm/index.htm
If you’re having serious trouble coping…. -- http://www.samhsa.gov/MentalHealth/NSPL_Disaster_Tips_Wallet_Card.pdf
PTSD and your employer -- http://www.americasheroesatwork.gov/forEmployers/factsheets/FAQPTSD/
PTSD, kids and teens -- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/ptsd-children-adolescents.asp and also -- http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/ptsd.html
PTSD and new moms -- http://www.postpartum.net/Get-the-Facts/Postpartum-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.aspx

Overall list of NIH resources -- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/posttraumaticstressdisorder.html

Next, the National Institute of Mental Health -- http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml -- which has a few interesting articles, such as --

How do kids react differently to stress? -- http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/do-children-react-differently-than-adults.shtml
Resilience factors explaining why some people cope better with PTSD -- http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/why-do-some-people-get-ptsd-and-other-people-do-not.shtml

Next, the American Psychological Association -- http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx

Next, the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress at http://www.aaets.org/ has a long list of things you can read at http://www.aaets.org/articles.htm such as --

Victims of spousal abuse -- http://www.aaets.org/article177.htm
Stress and the holidays -- http://www.aaets.org/article226.htm
*Workplace bullies -- http://www.aaets.org/article225.htm
Unemployment and stress -- http://www.aaets.org/article224.htm
Children and anxiety -- http://www.aaets.org/article220.htm
*Self-injury -- http://www.aaets.org/article206.htm
PTSD, kids and teens -- http://www.aaets.org/article202.htm and http://www.aaets.org/article190.htm and http://www.aaets.org/article162.htm
Divorce, kids and stress -- http://www.aaets.org/article18.htm
PTSD, alcohol and drugs -- http://www.aaets.org/article187.htm
Partners with PTSD -- http://www.aaets.org/article181.htm
*When the law fails victims of abuse -- http://www.aaets.org/article86.htm
PTSD and domestic violence -- http://www.aaets.org/article58.htm and http://www.aaets.org/article112.htm and http://www.aaets.org/article145.htm
Feeling helpless -- http://www.aaets.org/article35.htm
A general overview of domestic violence -- http://www.aaets.org/article144.htm

And a neat site, Support4Hope -- http://support4hope.com/ptsd/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_coping.htm -- has a bunch of good stuff. One is a link on the left side called “domestic abuse” which I had trouble opening, but perhaps someone else can give it a try. Links include:

A short article on the good and bad coping mechanisms for PTSD -- http://support4hope.com/ptsd/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_coping.htm -- and another -- http://support4hope.com/ptsd/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_lifestyle.htm#1
Other mental problems that often go along with PTSD -- http://support4hope.com/ptsd/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_others.htm#1

Monday, December 19, 2011

Protect your Social number -- and your kids!

One way an abuser can try to hunt you down and harass you, is via your SSN, your Social Security number: with that number, he can create all sorts of mischief. If you have a really obsessive stalker type, then you can get a name change and then a new SSN. The Social Security people (www.ssa.gov) are working with domestic-violence people to get survivors new numbers. You need to apply in person to the SS office with proof of your identity, age, citizenship/alien status, name changes (do that ahead of time), evidence of child custody (if they’re getting new numbers too), and evidence of the abuse (papers from police, doctors, protective orders, or even a letter from the local shelter where you did in-take). It sounds as though this is a bit discretionary with the local SS office, so call ahead and find out what they want.

But, something that never occurred to me, is the notion that an abuser could target your kids’ SSNs too. With that in mind, read this scary story:


“In El Paso, Texas, a hacker broke into the computer network of a local school district, finding a database of about 63,000 students' Social Security numbers. In Wake County, N.C., school officials accidentally mailed out about 5,000 postcards with students' Social Security numbers printed on the front. And in Palatine, Ill., two laptops belonging to a state contractor were stolen from a car, divulging the Social Security numbers of nearly 8,000 special education students.”

Alleged British abuse expert claims emotional abuse isn't "real" abuse

Here’s a story about a British domestic violence activist who takes an extremely hard-core attitude toward emotional abuse. Research has proven time and again that emotional abuse does more permanent damage than physical abuse, but this activist not only disagrees with this proven research, she insists that anyone who points out this fact is insulting every woman who has been beaten up. British officials want to make it a crime to bully a spouse emotionally, and this woman is actually trying to block the law! She claims “It serves to trivialise genuine cases of domestic abuse….To me, the definition of domestic violence is quite clear: if you are not in fear of your life, you are not suffering it.” She doesn’t believe that this behavior is a “real” crime, and she doesn’t want to lump victims of emotional abuse in with “women who really suffer.” She suggests that victims of emotional abuse have easy avenues to getting out of their relationships, and she insists that the authorities shouldn’t “meddle”. She even claims that all police forces take domestic violence seriously! Then she rants about the alleged excesses of feminism and claims that Prime Minister David Cameron is pushing the law because he is sucking up to female voters. I personally find her attitude incredibly insensitive, and pretty surprising since she claims to be a 40-year veteran of the domestic violence effort – what is less surprising is that the other DV advocates chucked her out of her job.

Here’s the article. -- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2074284/Domestic-violence-To-say-emotional-abuse-bad-insults-battered-wife.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

PTSD: does this story sound like you?

I look at the cause of domestic violence as a war. We have an enemy; every day the enemy wounds ten thousand, and every year he kills more than a thousand. By contrast, eight years of war in Iraq cost less -- 4400 U.S. combat deaths and 31,000 wounded, total. And even the survivors of the domestic violence war suffer terribly, especially from PTSD, just like soldiers. So today I read an article about an Iraq veteran dealing with PTSD after returning home, and I thought a lot of it sounded familiar.

The soldier in question was ambushed in Iraq, and shot in the head and leg (and DV victims absolutely get ambushed and shot too). He came home with serious PTSD. He had nightmares, reliving the trauma, trying to figure out what he should have done differently. He was terrified of being alone, and felt guilt as well. He began to have trouble communicating and remembering. He had trouble controlling his anger. He suspected he had PTSD but tried to deny it.

He eventually learned that PTSD can stem not only from battlefield trauma but any prolonged emotional shock. So it doesn’t only affect vets: it also affects millions of others following abuse, assault, disasters and accidents, and prolonged feelings that their lives are in danger (and I know THAT sounds familiar). And it affects twice as many women as men (and I think we all know what some of the reasons are).

Even after the trauma is over, it can take two or three years to adjust to the new, safer life. PTSD can impair reasoning, emotional balance, memory, and cause nightmares, insomnia, violence and headaches. It can include intolerance of mistakes, and ignoring their own pain and emotion. They feel no one understands and no one listens. Marriages break up, domestic abuse increases, sufferers drink and do drugs, they can’t hold a job so they end up homeless, hopeless, suicidal; they are unable to find help from the system, which is now overburdened financially. Sometimes they are overmedicated which makes them dopey, or undermedicated which means the symptoms come back.

The healing begins when the effective therapies are used: talking through the trauma, writing about it, visiting the places where it happened, going to loud and stressful places to desensitize the patient, making it possible for the patient to relive the trauma in a more detached way, so that he can “pack it away” in a sort of mental closet. Also, relaxing so you can reduce the adrenalin and get some sleep, and using medicines. The article stresses that treatment takes time and that the syndrome never goes away: you can’t really “cure” it but you can manage it. And it’s good, all the way around, to help others in the same fix.

So...does this sound like you?

Here’s the link -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/im-not-who-i-am-in-my-min_n_1157447.html

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another organization to watch: the "Fatherhood" Coalition


The Fatherhood Coalition is another hard-core group of abuse-deniers. The group claims that the top social problem in America is fatherlessness, that fathers must always get joint custody, that women who even claim abuse should lose custody of their children, that women are out there constantly hitting men and that that is what causes men to hit women, that VAWA is bad, and that child support should be stopped.

To give you an idea of the caliber of their leaders and members, one of its leaders created a spectacle of himself in front of a courthouse this summer. This individual, Tom Ball, admitted that he had been busted for beating his daughter and jailed for not paying child support. He then failed in his efforts to sue the police, refused to attend court-ordered counseling, filed complaints against the prosecutor’s office, and sued Family Services (he acted as his own attorney). Next, he sent out a semi-literate 19-page rant, referring to Man as “king of his castle”, comparing his plight to that of a Jew in Germany, ranting about the oppression and cover-ups of the federal government, claiming that domestic violence arrests caused homelessness for 72 million Americans, insisting that domestic violence advocates bribe judges with wine and women, claiming that domestic violence laws cause pedophilia, and asserting that the time has come to burn down police stations and courthouses. He helpfully provided details for how such arson attacks were to be carried out. And then he went to the courthouse himself, poured gasoline on himself, and set himself on fire.

Thus, the “leader” of the fatherhood coalition. The hardy foe of fatherlessness left his three children…fatherless.

According to the (surviving) leaders of this fatherhood movement, this guy is a hero. It is people like renowned domestic-violence specialist Lundy Bancroft who are the real enemy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who is our enemy in the domestic-violence cause? SAVE this article.

Everyone who cares about the fight to end domestic violence should know about a group called “SAVE”, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments. If you want to know who the enemy is, SAVE is at the forefront: they are launching national efforts on many fronts to undermine the anti-abuse cause. And they’re everywhere: they have pages on Facebook, Yahoo, Linkedin, and elsewhere, using clever code words like Gender-Neutral, Feminism, Saving Families.

It’s good for us to know this stuff, because the strategies and tactics of SAVE are the same stuff that abusers and their lawyers use in court: if you’re about to take your abuser to trial for assault or custody or whatever, the tactics and arguments below are the stuff you’re likely to hear from the opposing attorney, aimed at you.

The strategy of SAVE is four-fold: they undermine the DV victims themselves, they attack DV centers and shelters, they attack the laws and rules which put DV violators in jail, and they go after people who are fighting DV, like the authors of the VAWA act, the ABA, and even people like Verizon.

First, the SAVE people attack DV victims, claiming incorrectly that women make false accusations, that women hit men as often as men hit women, and that DV victims are mostly the poor, the gays and lesbians, people living out of wedlock, and people committing immigration fraud, as though that makes it okay (and then they contradict themselves by implying that women using DV services are actually too wealthy and should be means-tested before they get to use the services).

Then they attack the DV centers and shelters, claiming that they are run by people who aren’t qualified and who disseminate anti-male lies because they don’t know what they’re talking about, and that DV programs spend too much with too little progress and too little accountability. But then in the same breath they claim that America has already made plenty of progress fighting DV, implying that the services should be cut.

Then they go after the laws and the people who enforce them, claiming that abuse laws violate the rights of men, that the protective-order tool is abused, that mandatory-arrest rules increase the odds on homicide (rubbish), that college rape rules are unfair to men, that domestic abuse is a mental illness with many causes (i.e. “It’s not my fault!”), and that abusers should get counseling rather than incarceration (which seldom works).

And finally they go after the people who try to help solve the problem. It’s rather stunning, but SAVE is attacking the Violence Against Women Act. They claim that this “dangerous”, “harmful” act is unfair to men, encourages false accusations, makes victims out of women who are not “real victims”, wastes money on DV centers and shelters, encourages judges, prosecutors and policemen to be biased against men, increases demand for welfare services, fosters the overuse of arrests and protective orders, is overzealous in fighting marital rape, and damages families with separations (invoking the canard that it is still better for an abusive parent to have custody of a child). All of which is hogwash.

SAVE is also attacking the American Bar Association for publishing information about domestic violence. The ABA’s information was perfectly accurate, but the SAVE people insisted that the ABA was unfairly protecting women and persecuting abusers. SAVE claims the ABA lied about the frequency of female abusers, lied about women fabricating abuse claims, lied about how many abusive relationships happen outside of wedlock, and lied about abusers trying to increase their efforts to control their victim after separation. In attempting to refute the ABA, SAVE claimed that abuse is just a mental illness (i.e. rather than a crime), that victims don’t really suffer from PTSD, that wife-beaters aren’t also child-beaters, and that abuse doesn’t endanger or damage kids. The ABA pointed out (from experience, being lawyers), that in custody cases, abusers are much more likely to seek custody, make false accusations, and win their claims, and that child abuse claims are rare, but invariably true when they surface; SAVE attempted to refute all these facts.

SAVE is launching an attack on Verizon, which is distributing a video “Monsters” aimed at protecting kids from the effects of domestic violence ( http://www.multivu.com/mnr/52044-verizon-foundation-national-domestic-hotline-video-launch-monsters ). They’re furious because Verizon portrayed the abuser as a male, which is true in an overwhelming majority of cases. This attack on Verizon was carried in the Wall Street Journal, which didn’t bother to check and debunk SAVE’s inaccurate claims about the video.

They are also attacking Doctor Phil, claiming he lied when he told Congress that DV is the leading cause of women’s injuries – which is perfectly true – and that DV isn’t taken as seriously as it should be in America – which is proven by the very existence of SAVE and everything the group says and does.

SAVE is particularly ingenious in tricking legitimate outlets like MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, the Daily Caller, Yahoo and Roll Call to publish their propaganda as straight news, without checking their “facts” first. They have also conned Doctor Laura into fighting their fights for them.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of all this, is that a key member of the SAVE group has been Natasha Spivack, who trafficks in mail-order brides – a business which the VAWA act restricts. Spivack arranged a marriage between a Ukrainian girl and an American man with a known history of abusing women. When the husband unsurprisingly abused his new bride, Spivack and her firm were convicted on a long list of charges and ordered to pay $433,000. So it’s not just divorce lawyers who have a motive for undermining VAWA.

Here’s their link -- http://www.saveservices.org/ .

How can the law protect victims better?

In the wake of a horrific murder/suicide case in Maine in June 2011, studies were conducted to see what could be done to protect domestic violence survivors better. The recommendations mainly involved protecting victims by imposing tougher bail rules on abusers, and keeping abusers away from guns.

According to the studies, DV offenders should surrender all guns to the police and have their persons, homes and cars checked afterward; DV offenders who have used guns or threaten to kill should be tracked by GPS, and gun dealers should be told who is banned from owning guns. No bail should be granted for abusers who may attack the victim or flee the jurisdiction, for offenders who try to get more guns, for offenders who haven’t had a proper criminal history check. No bail release for an abuser who contacts the victim deliberately or with the intent to menace, or goes to her home or work. Assaults, threats, terror tactics, stalking or reckless actions merit $15,000 bail, according to the researchers; generally bail should be high enough to deter violations of protective orders, doubling with a second arrest, and with jail time on the third arrest. If an offender violates an order with a deadly threat, the bail should be set by a judge, not just a bail commissioner.

Other recommendations:
  • Trial: DV offenders should go to trial within a year.
  • Divorce: If DV victims who are divorcing are threatened with a weapon, the divorce should be finalized within 30 days; DV victims who are killed in the middle of a divorce proceeding should get posthumous divorces (there may be legal significance to that, but I don’t know what it is).
  • Police: The police should notify victims within three minutes of the release of their abuser; two policemen or more should respond to DV calls with high potential for violence – three if the abuser is already the subject of a protective order.
  • The home: DV victims who are being stalked need secure doors and windows, motion detectors and a landline phone (not sure how a landline is better than a cellphone).
  • The internet: Both DV abusers and victims should stay off social network sites, to prevent intimidation.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Marriage, the most dangerous profession

Being a cop is dangerous, right? In 2010, 59 of them were shot to death in America.

And firefighters? In 2010, 72 died in the line of duty.

Fishermen, the most dangerous profession, 200 deaths per year.

48 coal miners died in 2010, most of them in a single accident in West Virginia.

Iraq war, about 600 fatalities per year. Afghanistan, about 200 a year.

…And for domestic violence deaths, more than a thousand a year.

It is more dangerous to be in your house with your husband or boyfriend, than to be a cop, a fireman, a fisherman, a miner, a soldier. Which is why the national attitude regarding domestic violence needs to change. Not only does it kill more than a thousand a year -- ten thousand women are beaten every day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Use your phone to put your abuser in jail!

Susan Murphy-Milano, a domestic violence expert, is working on a phone app that can put an abuser in jail.

It works in two parts. The first part is a thing called an Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA), or Evidentiary Will, or simply Abuse Affidavit. This idea emerged after the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. The way it works is this: a woman who feels she’s in danger describes the incidents of abuse, threats, sites where weapons and other evidence might be, people who might help the abuser with alibis or other assistance, photos of injuries, the danger she faces, her fears. Apparently she does all this on video and then notarizes it on paper, with witnesses, so apparently it has legal force, it wouldn’t be dismissed as hearsay, and it will work even – especially – if she’s missing or dead. Murphy-Milano has used this with a thousand women, who are all still alive.

The second part: her EAA tool is being made into a phone app you can get in Apple stores! Use your phone to put your abuser in jail.

Murphy-Milano also discusses all this on a website -- http://www.susanmurphymilano.com/ -- and in a book called “Time’s Up” (she has other DV books as well). There is also talk of putting the safety tips in “Time’s Up” on a flash drive which a woman potentially could be given right along with her protective order in court; she can take the flash drive to a library computer and use it to figure out what the next steps in her safety plan are, how to do an EAA, how to use the protective order properly, and so on. The flash drive could be hung from a key chain, stashed somewhere safe, or whatever.

Okay, lady, so why did you allow this guy to attack you and steal your car??

Here’s a neat article from a Connecticut writer:

“Why does she stay with him? Why does she let him treat her that way? Why does she put up with it? These are the questions all too often asked of women who are in abusive relationships. But the question we really should be asking is: Why does he treat her this way? No one would ever ask why she allows herself to be run over or have her car stolen. That’s because domestic violence is still too often treated differently than other crimes....A victim will not call for help if we continue to blame her, or question her motivations.”

The most dangerous place in America is...

For decades now, Americans have worried about the mean, nasty, dangerous streets of our cities. Dangerous places to be. Dangerous people to flee from.

So let’s see about that, shall we?

In a typical year, America sees 15,000 murders, 90,000 rapes, 400,000 robberies, and 800,000 aggravated assaults.

And 3,500,000 domestic assaults.

In other words, a woman is much more likely to be attacked in the house, than out of the house. She may actually be safer outside than inside. That’s one reason why 200,000 homeless women and children in America aren’t really homeless – they just sleep in the streets because it’s less dangerous than being home with the abuser.

Or, to put it simply, the most dangerous place for a woman is home, and the most dangerous person is her husband or boyfriend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Two special thoughts for the day...

This article is simply my rumination on the women I’ve dealt with, DV survivors, and the people around them. This one is a little different – just me spouting off my own views, rather than researching safety issues or psychological issues or whatever. Some will like it, some will hate it. It’s all about what a woman is worth.

And second, what does the Joe Paterno scandal have to do with domestic violence? This article in the Baltimore Sun describes Maryland's efforts to tighten child-abuse rules after the child molesting scandal that brought down Penn State coach Joe Paterno, so that folks like cops and doctors can be punished if they don't report suspected child abuse. Wouldn’t it be great if spousal abuse was included too? Domestic abuse injures ten thousand women a day and kills more than a thousand every year, so it’s a genuine health epidemic, right? Food for thought. Anyway...

What people are worth

I see a woman and a man in front of me.

This woman, what is she worth?

I see a woman who, for starters, has survived in a man’s world since birth.
I see a woman who should look back and see everything she’s accomplished, everything she’s survived and endured.
I see a woman doing the hardest job in the world, marriage – a job that goes kerblooey 50 percent of the time – and doing the job with the worst possible partner.
I see a woman dealing with the worst possible betrayal -- the man who promised to love her above all, becoming her worst enemy, doing all he can to make all her choices as hard as possible, or impossible.
I see a woman who has brushed off broken bones and burns and cuts and bruises that would reduce most men to blubbering idiots.
I see a woman who has come closer than almost anyone, to the very real threat of death, without collapsing; the only ones who face death the way she does are our troops, but this woman isn’t getting any medals for her heroism.
I see a woman who has been held hostage by a terrorist for years, without falling apart.
I see a woman who has had to live like a fugitive, without collapsing.
I see a woman who has escaped successfully, turning her whole life upside down, new home, new work, new school, new town, enduring enough stress to kill most normal people.
I see a woman who has survived the betrayal of friends and family.
I see a woman who has survived the indifference of the police and the skepticism of judges.
I see a woman who has come even farther than most of the other survivors, just by reaching out for help and taking action to save herself.
I see a woman who has accomplished so many extraordinary things, even though she was completely unprepared to go on that journey -- she didn't get to go to "I'm Married to a Psychopath" boot camp.
I see a woman with more capacity for patience and self-denial than an abbey full of monks. 
I see a woman who is capable of loving, no matter how many times her love has been wasted, like water poured down a sink.
If I had to go on some dangerous spy mission in a hostile country, this is the woman I would take, because she can do anything, solve anything, endure anything.
If someone wrote this woman’s life story – Ian Fleming, perhaps – no one would buy it, because it’s too incredible. Angelina Jolie would have to play her in the movie, but she’d need months in the gym just to keep up with all the stunts.
I see a woman who was simply amazing before she was hijacked, who is just waiting to bust out and become someone even more amazing than we knew was possible before.
I see a woman who is extraordinary.

For thousands of years of human history, the leaders of humankind, the ones who led the way, the ones who set the pace, the ones who excelled above all the others....have been the survivors. The cream of the cream. The best of the best. 

Now I see a man in front of me. And what is he worth?

I see a man who hit the lottery – he got to spend the rest of his life with this amazing woman, who offered him a lifetime of her love and faith and hope – and instead he threw it all away. He threw away everything she ever was, and everything she could go grow to be.
He not only tore her down, but even worse, he made her believe she deserved it, and turned her into a shell of her former self.
In a world where men strive every day to turn dust into gold, he went out of his way to do the opposite, to reduce something priceless into ashes.
I see a man who could have cherished her and built an amazing life with her, but instead told her this every day…

“You’re trying to tell me what to do?? My house, my rules. I wear the pants in this house. I’m the king and this is my castle. I’m your husband – you made a commitment to me. All this is mine. You’re lucky I’m here. You’d be lost without me. I know what’s best for you. I take care of you, and you owe me . It’s your job to take care of me and give me what I ask for. And what did I tell you to do? I told you what I want. I’m teaching you a lesson. This is for your own good. Where have you been? Who did you see? Where do you get these ideas? Who are these friends you’re hanging around with? All they do is badmouth me! I’m taking your keys. What do you need money for? What do you need a job for? Your job is right here! So who are you sleeping around with, then?”

…and this…

“The trouble with you is you’re nagging, whining. Self-pitying! The trouble with you is you’re over-sensitive, Overreacting. Blowing it up out of nothing. Obsessed with the past. A drama queen! There’s no getting along with you. You’re arguing again? Hurting my feelings. Pushing my buttons! You’re mean. You’re ungrateful. I know what you really mean by that. You say you’re sorry but you don’t mean it. You’re rude, you dress like a tramp. You don’t think. You’re ridiculous. Stupid. A slob. Worthless. Ugly. Lazy. Irresponsible. Shut up – you just don’t listen. The trouble with you …”

…and this…

“But baby, it’s not my fault. Baby, I was drunk. I was high. I lost control. I was abused when I was younger. I have problems. Of course I lied, you get mad when I tell the truth. Of course I lied, I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. I never did that, there’s something wrong with your memory! You’re imagining things. Sure I have other women, but that doesn’t mean I’m cheating on you. What’s the big deal? I was only joking. It’s not the time to talk about that. You’ve got to give me another chance. You have to forgive me. You made me do it! I did it because I love you. It’s what you deserve. You don't deserve to be forgiven. This isn’t my fault, this is your fault, it’s you who don’t treat me right, like all the other women in my life. You’re hysterical. You’re crazy. There’s something wrong with your head. You’re the only one who thinks there’s a problem – so what’s wrong with you?”

…and this…

“I can’t live without you. I decide when this relationship is over. I’ll hurt myself. I’ll hurt you. I’ll hurt the kids. I’ll cut off the alimony. I’ll cut off the child support. I’ll wreck your job. I’ll wreck your reputation. No one will believe you. No one will talk to you. Nobody will ever love you like I do.”

So I think we can agree on what this guy is worth.

And for all the family and alleged friends, who decided that everything that woman had to fight through and endure -- that it just wasn’t enough, people who passed judgment on her, people who decided that she didn’t run fast enough or jump high enough with all those bullets shooting at her, people who were willing to be her friend except when she needed it most, people who couldn’t be bothered with patience or tolerance or real love….Well, we know what those people are worth too.

Books, films, other resources

To find the domestic violence support network in your home state, click HERE and click on your state network; they can tell you where to find local women’s centers and other resources. In a real emergency, go straight to 911.

  • Time's Up, Susan Murphy-Milano, an absolutely superb guide for survivors who want to escape safely, in incredible detail; SMM has also written other books like Defending Our Lives
  • Why Does He Do That, by Lundy Bancroft – superb
  • Battered Woman, by Lenore Walker – old, but still valid today
  • When Love Goes Wrong, by Ann Jones and Susan Schechter
  • Domestic Violence the Disease: the Sara Faraday Story, by Annette Reid, a nurse
  • Black and Blue, by Anna Quindlen (this one is fiction but very good)
  • Safe Haven, by Nicholas Sparks (another good fiction read)
  • Picture Perfect, Jodi Picoult (more good fiction)
  • Should I Stay Or Should I Go?, Lundy Bancroft and Jac Patrissi


You can take a look at the more obvious examples -- Burning Bed, Sleeping With the Enemy, What’s Love Got to Do With It, The Color Purple – but if you go beyond that, you can find abuse stories all over the place: Titanic, the Rainmaker, Boys on the Side, Affliction, Fried Green Tomatoes, Raging Bull, Winter’s Bone, Kindergarten Cop, Sling Blade, This Boy’s Life. And the further back you go, the more you find “quaint” ideas about marriage and abuse: Gone With The Wind, the Godfather, Philadelphia Story, Public Enemy, Born Yesterday, Carousel, Gaslight, Streetcar Named Desire, Taming of the Shrew….It’s everywhere. And of course our pal John Wayne, who reveled in “disciplining” Maureen O’Hara in the finales of two different movies, Quiet Man and McClintock. Sir! Sir! Here's a good stick, to beat the lovely lady!

Let’s also add a documentary called Sin By Silence, which tells us about Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA), a group of female prisoners in California who were jailed for killing their abusive spouses.

Some sites to check out:

The next battle

Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, we haven’t made a dent in the rates of domestic violence. Women are still beaten 10,000 times a day, women don’t report it, states don’t prosecute it, and even upon conviction, serious jail time is unheard of. Each year a million men get away with beating their wives.

So we need to get the message to all men out there, the million men who beat their wives, and the millions of others who know about it, and don’t do anything about it. Fellas, you don’t get to beat your wives anymore, and you don’t get to just stand there and do nothing if you know someone else is doing it. It’s just like beer: you don’t get to drink and drive anymore, and you don’t get to let your friends do it either. Or beat their wives.

An aggravating factor is that DV groups are usually run by women who are often deeply suspicious of men, and when men offer to help, they are regularly shooed away. Which may be emotionally satisfying, but it’s strategically suicidal. A female family-court judge once said flat-out that the problem with DV groups is that a lot of them are run by hard-core feminists who would rather bash men than ask them for help. You ladies don’t get to hijack the domestic violence issue for yourselves: you need to let men help, and recruit them, for that matter.

I repeat: This battle cannot be won UNTIL men are involved: until we do the same thing we did with drunk driving, with men telling other men -- you don't get to hit your wife, and you don't get to just stand there while someone you know hits HIS wife. If you make this a battle between the 99 percent of people who are morally good and can be made to understand how serious DV is, and the 1 percent who will just never get it, then the good guys win. But if you make it about men versus women, women will never win the war. They won't even be able to treat the wounded.

There is no such thing as an innocent bystander here. Domestic violence is a crime that is happening all around you, and if you know about this crime, and do nothing to stop or report this crime, then you are culpable along with the batterers. This is everybody’s business: turning a blind eye makes you guilty along with the abuser. If you're aware of it, it's your job to help stop it, and offer help. The goal is a country in which all women -- everyone, in fact -- are treated with respect.

Never condone. Never excuse. Never remain silent. 

News and views

This link connects to a great article about Patricia Prickett, a woman who tried to teach L.A. cops how to handle domestic violence cases better. She worked with cops to write better reports, reports that were courtroom-ready, because victims seldom testify, and many are intimidated into recanting, so the reports are needed to put abusers away; prosecutors reject two thirds of cases as unproveable, so the reports help. She found that a lot of cops were resistant to even accepting the problem: they argue that only the poor beat their wives, and that putting cops on domestic violence means they’re not out there fighting what they think of as “real crime” – as those DV isn’t a crime. Without a push from their captains, cops don’t push hard on DV cases.

The article, incidentally, points out that police can indeed be sued for lousy responses to DV cases: as far back as Bruno v. Codd (1978), 12 women were awarded damages because the police dropped the ball, and one woman got $2.3 million in Thurman v. City of Torrington (1987) due to police incompetence.

The article pointed out other challenges to the DV fight. The effort against DV is very new, only a few decades old; even university course work was barbarically simple or nonexistent only a few decades ago. Some judges don’t even know the DV laws, and get sucked into the manipulations of the cool, charming abuser, vis-à-vis the emotional victim. Men’s rights groups are spreading massive amounts of anti-wife propaganda.

Prickett believes that abuser only change if they get years of therapy and if jail or the threat of it is involved; studies support the idea that jail time is what makes them stop.

Prickett stressed something is critical for all to accept: “domestic violence is everybody's problem." It’s everybody’s job to fight this.

Abuse and the law


Ask your local DV center if it’s time to lawyer up. If you or your abuser are facing criminal charges, or you’re heading toward divorce and custody battles, then it’s time to talk legal help. Never take legal advice from anyone but a lawyer who has been admitted to your local bar: every state’s domestic-violence laws are different. Studies show that the real change for a lot of survivors comes when they obtain legal help: once you take that step, your odds on a happy ending increase dramatically. Try to get free legal aid through your DV center, a DV hotline, the National Organization for Women, the ACLU, or the local bar association. You want a lawyer with experience, someone who is up-front about overall fees, billing schedule, and research and copying fees, and someone who is not an advocate of mediation.

Having said that – read this whole article anyway, so that you can think of the questions you want to ask the lawyer. Save a lot of time that way.


Some policemen just don’t want to be bothered with domestic violence cases. One reason is ignorance: some cops have asserted that only poor people beat their wives – as though that makes it okay – and that covering domestic violence means taking cops away from “real crime” – as though DV isn’t a “real crime”. They are reluctant to take on DV cases unless their superiors push it, which they often don’t. Also, DV cases are frankly dangerous for cops. Some cops have been known to write off DV cases as accidents or suicides; others take the lazy way out and arrest both the abuser and the victim. Sometimes police performance in these cases is so bad that the police are successfully sued in civil court.

Some cops are abusers themselves: the prevalence of abuse within police families is about four times as high as it is for the rest of us. And the system is ill-equipped to handle the problem: judges and prosecutors tend to believe policemen, and police departments tend to handle these things internally. The 1996 Lautenberg Amendment, intended to crack down on DV, may have made things worse in one respect: the law says that DV offenders can’t carry guns (with some exceptions), so prosecutors don’t want to charge cops with DV because it can end their careers.

So what do you do when you call the police? First, if you’re calling 911, get your money’s worth out of that call: describe everything the abuser is doing, as though you’re testifying in court – if you can. When the police show up, be calm and polite, but firm. You want to urge the officer to make an arrest, which he can do without a warrant in many jurisdictions, depending on the law and the circumstances (i.e. if there is evidence of battery, or if the officer believes the abuser will injure someone, hide evidence, flee the area etc). Regardless of whether he makes an arrest, urge him to file an incident report, collect evidence, and document all he can on the spot -- video and pictures of damage and injuries. If they refuse, call their watch commander: the more admissible evidence they have at the beginning, the less likely they will need you to testify. Get the officers’ names and numbers. Also, if you ask them to come back for a DV “standby” – protecting you while you move out your stuff – plan ahead to do the move quickly, because they won’t stay all day.

In an ideal world, we want  policemen to look for evidence of abuse at the scene, talk to all parties separately including the kids, talk to the neighbors, make arrests, and stay on the scene until they're sure no crime has been committed.

And don’t hit – your actions count too, and more than 4000 women have been jailed for killing abusive partners.Your abuser can make you upset, but he can't make you act out.

A key reason for reluctance of policemen to follow through, is that victims often fail to follow through. As it is, prosecutors don’t even pursue two thirds of the DV cases they get because they lack the necessary proof, and the conviction rate gets even worse when victims don’t press charges (as is often the case), either through mixed emotions, shame, or outright fear -- fear of attacks, fear of losing the home and financial support (since he is likely to control the assets), fear of eviction, fear of losing the kids (which paradoxically can put the kids in more danger). And many of them don't know there's help out there for them. Women are reluctant to call the police at all -- most attacks go unreported and some women are attacked 10-30 times before calling the police -- and even after an arrest, victims will recant their story, deny there's any abuse, minimize the problem, try to stop the legal process, or even hide from the police. Prosecutors find themselves looking for other corroborating evidence, in case the victim bails out. What looks rather bad is when a victim succeeds in securing a protective order against her abuser, and then lets him back into her life anyway – even if she lets him back in due to coercion, courts sometimes don’t like it. There will also be situations in which you can be forced to testify against the abuser, depending on local law, particularly if you went through the process of filing charges yourself, which some jurisdictions give you the tools to do.


There are things that can work in a victim’s favor in court. Somewhere between 36 and 57 percent of divorcing women report domestic abuse, so it’s not as though the claims are uncommon. Show the prosecutor your court orders, injury records and pictures, names of advocates and lawyers, and witnesses. Be cool and calm when you’re in court, or dealing with anyone court-related, like a court-ordered therapist. Remember that mediation can be a bad idea: be wary of lawyers who advocate it, push back gently if court orders it, and seek supervised visitation if you reach that point. Consult a lawyer on all of this.

There are some judges who kinda don’t get it. Some judges believe that DV and child abuse charges are made up by vindictive wives in order to get a better divorce deal; some are irritated by displays of emotion; some think that pushing and shoving and emotional abuse don’t count; some get sucked into the lies and manipulations of a smooth-talking abuser; some believe that it’s all alcohol-related and use the rehab route rather than jail; some believe the nonsense from men’s groups that women abuse just as much as men, and an astounding number of judges even apply protective orders against the women who have been beaten. Some judges don’t even have a proper grounding in DV laws. Even the abusers who get convicted often get probation, therapy, or short sentences. So ask your lawyer about that too.

And, of course, juries. To wit: OJ Simpson. Remember, OJ didn’t just beat his wife, he killed her. They proved he beat his wife and threw her against the wall over and over; she said flat-out she was afraid he was going to kill her – there was a 911 tape. OJ left his blood and his glove and his footprints at the scene of the crime. The blood of the victims was at his house, in his car, on his socks. He wrote a suicide note, he said he didn’t mean to do it, and ran from the scene of the crime with a passport, and a disguise and a wad of cash. And…he still walked. It took years to put him away


Ask a lawyer about the local rules governing protective orders. The list of things you can ask the judge to order is pretty impressive – not that you’ll get it all, but ask anyway. He can order the abuser to….stay away from you, the kids, the family, the house, the school, the workplace; refrain from any contact with you including the phone, email, texting, the internet; move out of the house (that's a big one); give you child custody and child support; give you the car; complete a batterer program; surrender his guns; take the kids at specific times and places under strict supervision (you need to think about who would do the supervising); hand off the children at a police station or other safe place; etc. Some states make domestic abusers wear GPS units. Tell the judge that the abuser has threatened or harmed the children, and that you don’t feel safe having him near you or the kids. The judge can also direct the police to go to the house with you to get your stuff safely, although they won’t stay there with you forever. If you don’t get a protective order, or if it doesn’t go far enough, you can appeal in the last extremity, depending on the jurisdiction.

Give copies of the protective order to everyone, complete with pictures of the abuser and information about his car: give it to your boss, the neighbors, the landlord, the school, daycare, anywhere he might show up and cause trouble. And of course keep a copy for yourself – keep it with you always. These orders are sometimes not enforced, so find out who to call when the abuser breaks the rules and/or the police don’t follow through. You can always rat him out to his parole board, parole officer etc. If you have to travel to another State for work or to get away from the abuser, take your protection order with you; it is valid everywhere.


When a survivor takes action, it can absolutely provoke a violent reaction from the abuser: the one thing he values is his control over his victim, and the potential permanent loss of that control can send him over the edge. Taking action against him, taking him to court, seeking a protective order, can cause an explosion and even a terror campaign. A huge proportion of violent attacks and fatalities by DV abusers happen when the survivor is trying to leave, or has just left. Quite often abusers refuse to respect protective orders: they see it as a challenge to their authority over their property. Even abusers who use emotional abuse but not physical violence, can become violent at this point. So remember: protective orders are not magical or bulletproof, and talk to a lawyer about the best way to time your departure, your filing for divorce, and everything else (some people even argue that if a protective order is more likely to provoke attacks than keep him away, it might not be worth the bother -- which says a lot about how far we still have to go).

When you go to court, take a friend with you. In the courtroom, sit far away from the abuser and his family and friends, and don’t look at them or talk to them. Tell a bailiff or sheriff that you are afraid of the abuser and ask him/her to look out for you. When you leave, make sure you have your protective order, and ask the judge or sheriff to keep the abuser there while you leave. If he follows you, call the police immediately.

Find out if your state uses the online protective order registry. If not, can the court, the prosecutor or the police notify you when he is arrested, served with the protective order or other papers, released? Ask a lawyer, the sheriff, or the local women’s center about all this.

Do all you can to keep your new address out of court records, police reports, public records, medical records, school and church records. Ensure that the abuser can’t access your data, even with your Social Security number or the kids’. Ask the court for help if need be.


Ask a lawyer about rules of evidence. Some courts are now loosening evidentiary rules to encourage victims to testify, allowing 911 calls and domestic-violence incident reports, sometimes instead of testimony; NY does this and conviction rates shot up. However, you also might ask about Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), which strengthens a defendant’s right to face his accuser. This curtails the practice of evidence-based prosecution, wherein an abuser can be convicted without the victim taking part in the trial using a number of hearsay exceptions. But I think that only applies in criminal cases, not civil (again, ask a lawyer!).

You can make all of this easier on yourself, by thinking like a pack-rat: anything that might prove the abuse, save it!

--Keep a detailed journal of all the abuse, including witnesses, dates, places, emotional abuse and child abuse.
--Keep a log of harassing phone calls, incidents of stalking, threats, break-ins, attacks, any other psychological terrorism.
--Make a list of evidence and witnesses.
--Save police and medical reports.
--Save threatening or harassing emails, phone messages, letters, unsolicited flowers or gifts.
--Save physical evidence: broken objects, torn clothes.
--Photograph everything, particularly injuries – video works too! Get the police and the nurses to help here. Definitely “shoot” him if he shows up at the house. But be careful of taking photos of the actual acts of abuse. See what kind of photo capability your phone has.

Susan Murphy-Milano (http://www.susanmurphymilano.com/ ) has developed an “EAA” evidentiary affidavit. This is a bit like a living will: you use notarized documents and/or a video to record the facts of your abuse. You record your name, date, Social Security number, job; the name of the abuser, with his date of birth, Social, job, wedding date, names and ages of children, abuse history, substance abuse history, weapon ownership, threats, witnesses and addresses, evidence, police reports, medical reports, name of doctor and dentist, photos of injuries etc. Then you hand your driver’s license over to a notary and notarize it – but don’t put a return address on it! Supplement it with a video testimonial, pictures of injuries, pictures of you, the kids and the abuser. Depending on local law, such an affidavit may not be admissible without corroborating evidence, but it can also be used by the police to find more evidence, and (worst case) remains. Ask a lawyer.


Judges can be problematic in divorce and custody issues too. Some of them believe the myths, that child support bills are too high, that abuse shouldn’t matter in custody issues, that family court favors women too much, that women in divorce court spend all their time poisoning children against their fathers. And of course the discredited canard that it’s better for a father to be involved in a child’s life even if he’s abusive: there is a stack of reasons why that’s dead wrong, among which that kids who stay in abusive homes are more likely to become abusers themselves. Still, women find that their abusers are getting unsupervised visits and even custody, and that chasing down the actual child support payments can be a total shell game.

Custody: men get joint custody, or better, 84 percent of the time. First, be a good Mom, so as not to give him ammunition in court. Petition the court for temporary custody and have the father served just as you’re leaving home (ask a lawyer about all of this). Get the kids into therapy to document their problems. Do what the judge says, no matter what, on visitation; make the father the Bad Guy. Use friends or relatives to help with visitation hand-offs.

Also, ask a lawyer about the rules regarding parents who make a run for the border: parents who simply leave, with or without the kids. If the abuser takes the children out of state, your lawyer will probably urge you to get a custody order fast, so he can’t get custody on his own. Find out what happens if you yourself leave the state, with or without the kids – will that affect custody? If I leave the kids behind, is it abandonment, and if I take them, is it kidnapping? And think of all the other problems that go along with relocating – will the court frown upon my quitting my job and/or doing something desperate/stupid to get money?

Talk to your lawyer about money issues. One of the first things he/she may do is take action to protect your money and property before the abuser can create mischief. Prepare to dig out your financial records: the court may want to see your employment/salary information (and your husband’s too), deductions, expenses, debt, health care, assets (bank accounts, home, auto, insurance, stocks). Few wives, about 25 percent, get maintenance from their husbands, usually in cases in which the wife gave up a serious shot at a career; even then it can be hard to collect. Child support can also be hard to collect: you can get help collecting through OCSE or URESA.

Also, where does marital rape fit in?


There are a hundred things the abuser (and his lawyer) will do, to try to grind you down. The abuser can…

--- tie up all the money so his wife can’t hire a good lawyer
--get everything in his own name
--drag out the fight so as to trash her finances
--try to get sent to therapy between the arrest and the court date, which is worthless, a fake job on the part of the abuser
--claim that she threatened to call the cops if he didn’t provide more money – a very common claim
--claim that his defense injuries were really signs of her attacking him
--screw around with the protective order or any other rules imposed – “It’s just a coincidence that I showed up where she was; or I misunderstood the rules; I just called kids because I miss them”
--witness tampering, which is seldom prosecuted
--threaten that he will make no effort to change unless she drops the charges
--beg and plead (often the most effective tool)…

…and so forth. He wants the legal process to be as long and as expensive as possible for the victim, so that she gives up. A few things to make sure of: have a lawyer read any settlement, and try to get lump-sum payments to you, rather that schedule payments, or payments which the both of you must process.

Yet again – talk to a lawyer about all this! Two other questions to ask a lawyer:

What do I need to bring, to get a name change or a new Social Security number for me and the kids?
Can the Post Office block anyone from accessing my name and address?