OOP Survivor Blog

Four women and five children die every day in the U.S. due to domestic violence. Read President Barack Obama's Presidential Proclamation announcing his commitment to reducing the prevalence of domestic violence in our country.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Standing strong and looking ahead to 2011

Before we know it, 2010 will come to a close, and I am so ready to start a new year and put this one behind me. I know my family is too. We have been through absolute hell and back, and yet we're still standing. And even stronger than before.

So even a bully, of the scariest and most devious kind, who attempted to have so much power over me, actually in the end ... didn't.

Unbelievably, over the past year, I passed through the realms of being an abused, grief-stricken, terrorized victim who was brought to her knees... to a survivor who gradually gained her strength back enough to stand up again. It was not easy, though, and at times I was knocked back down... like when I learned that this horrible, abusive bully had an affair with a married woman while he was married to me. He terrorized her while attempting to persuade her to leave her husband for him. Knowing that I had actually married such an animal, and wondering how many other women he'd hurt, was extremely difficult to deal with.

Speaking out and trying to spread awareness of domestic violence has been incredibly empowering (one of my TV interviews can be viewed by clicking here) and I've met some amazing advocates along the way.

The healing part has definitely been a process. Yeah, I've got my groove back and I'm back on my feet, but I'm still learning.

In the meantime, I'm so very grateful for my amazing family and extraordinary friends who always have my back and were there for me when I needed a hand up. The father of my kids has been my best friend for the last 25 years through thick and thin, and his unwavering emotional support over the last year has been a godsend.

My kids taught me how strong I truly am, even when I felt my weakest. My strength was reflected in their eyes whenever they encouraged me along the way. They also showed me how steadfast their faith is, how superhuman their resilience is, and how gracefully they look to the future with hope. No matter what other horrible monsters they may encounter in life, I know the kids will be fine.

So as 2011 approaches, I look forward to starting afresh, taking a deep breath and looking ahead while 2010 slips far, far behind me.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Seniors dealing with domestic violence are often overlooked

Many people think of domestic violence victims as being young women, and most likely young women who are not all that bright or experienced, etc. There's definitely a stereotype, which only makes it that much harder for many women who are being abused to come forward and seek help. Especially if they're seniors. Older women who are dealing with domestic violence often suffer in silence, and when they do speak out or seek help they find that there is no help for them.

Not only are they fighting against stereotypes, they are up against a system that is not prepared to help them. According to an article in today's Arizona Republic, "most domestic violence programs and shelters serve younger women with children." So what do you do when you're in your 60's or 70's and are desperate for help and support?

Fortunately, as covered in the article (pasted below), there is a local program here in Phoenix, DOVES, that helps older women escape domestic violence and get back on their feet. Without DOVES, these women would have no hope.

To learn more about the DOVES program and to watch a video about it, click here. DOVES is in need of donations, especially at this time of year, and can be reached at 602-264-4357.

Abused seniors turn to

DOVES

by Brennan Smith - Dec. 8, 2010 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

C.J. suffered domestic abuse throughout her

45-year marriage.


In 2005, she fled her husband in Indiana

and came to the Valley.


The then-62-year-old seemed to have no

place to turn - most domestic-violence

programs and shelters serve younger

women with children.


C.J. lived at Phoenix Sky Harbor International

Airport and in downtown buildings while she

desperately sought assistance. She was

finally referred to the Area Agency on

Aging's DOVES program, which provides

services for older people who are victims of

domestic violence and have run out of

options.


Alice Ghareib, director of DOVES (Domestic

Violence Does Not Respect Age), said older

women are not eligible for assistance

through organizations designed for younger

abused women with children.


"This population, there are no services for

them. There are no other options," Ghareib

said. "The issues of the older population are

unique. We need to be able to provide

services across the board no matter what

the age is."


DOVES helps about 150 senior domestic-

abuse victims yearly with transitional

housing and support groups, while also

raising awareness.

"Just because couples turn 50, it doesn't

mean domestic violence goes away," Ghareib

said.


C.J., now 67, said she had endured abuse

most of her life as her husband mentally and

verbally belittled her. Her husband is now

dead, but The Republic is withholding her

full identity to protect her safety.


"Verbal abuse for me, being naive, started at

the beginning of the marriage, and as the

years went by, it got worse and worse," C.J.

said. "I thought I was worth nothing."


In August 2005, she said, her husband

pushed her up against the bathroom wall

and the sink. He began cursing her and

choking her. Finally, she got away to a

friend's house. She decided that night she

was leaving.


The next morning, she took a flight to

Arizona with $75 in her pocket and a bag of

clothes and arrived with nowhere to stay.


DOVES took her in. She was given temporary

housing and began attending support group meetings.

Victims also receive assistance applying for

public benefits, pursuing legal action and

purchasing basic necessities.


The program costs around $350,000

annually and is largely supported by

community and business donations, Ghareib

said.


Season for Sharing has raised about

$30,000 for the program since 2007. It is

one of more than 130 agencies or programs

supported by the annual campaign, which

last year raised $2.86 million to assist

Arizonans in need.


"I can't say enough about the DOVES

program," C.J. said. "If it hadn't been for

them, I don't know where I would be right

now. I really don't."


Asked what advice she would give to a

woman who was suffering the same abuse

she went through, C.J. said she would tell the

woman that it isn't her fault.


"I don't care what you did or what you do,

abuse is never justified," C.J. said. "I would

tell them you have that right to leave, but

only you can make that decision."


Senior-abuse victims are encouraged to call

DOVES at 602-264-4357 for help.



Monday, December 6, 2010

Blaming the victim instead of the sociopath

An interesting article was posted today on the Lovefraud blog. Apparently there is research on the traits of women who are most commonly targeted by sociopaths. These traits include: having a high level of compassion, tolerance and empathy as well as a willingness to compromise personal interests for the larger picture.

I've heard people say that if you just toughen up and refuse to be bullied, then you won't fall prey to a predator like a sociopath. But this seems to put all of the burden of blame on the victim rather than the abuser.

I think that no one really knows what makes a sociopath target a particular person. No one really knows how a sociopath's brain works, not even the top researchers. And that's frustrating for a survivor who is dealing with that lingering question of why she was targeted in the first place while hoping to avoid another sociopath at all costs. We all would like to be able to figure them out so that we can sense the red flags from the get-go.

So maybe we need more research into why these sociopaths, who have no self-esteem, no real identity or self control, actually do what they do. Why they take a woman's desire to invest in a relationship and manipulate it to fulfill their own needs. Enough of the research into why some women become victims -- that's beside the point. Absolutely anyone can become a victim. No one is immune. I still can't help but wonder how sociopaths can do the hurtful things they do and still live with themselves.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Is my ex-boyfriend a sociopath or just a jerk?

I've just received an email from a blog reader who really wants to share her story and seek advice, so I'm posting it here. If anyone has an opinion or just wants to offer support to her, please feel free to comment below. It sounds like she's gone through a hellish dating experience, so I imagine that any words of support would be very welcome. Here's what she wrote me:

Kristin, I've been following your blog and I think it's great that you're sharing your story and helping to educate people about sociopaths. I just came out of a relationship and my head is spinning. I want to know if my ex-boyfriend is an actual sociopath or just wrapped up in himself and emotionally abusive as a result.

We had what I thought was a real connection and things moved very fast from the beginning. He kissed me only an hour after we met, and things went at light speed from there. I was so crazy about him - he seemed perfect for me and it all felt very comfortable. I've known jerks in the past, and I was looking for any red flags with him. There were none. He's divorced and has a couple of great kids and seems to be a loving dad. His life revolves around his kids, which impressed me.

We were at the point where we were getting very serious - he told me he loved me and that I was "the one" and that he could see himself spending the rest of his life with me.

Then we went to a Halloween costume party. It was awful. All these older 40-something couples were playing endless drinking games with beer (and no, believe it or not this wasn't a frat party) and getting really crazy. We were at the party for five hours. At one point during the party, the host (my ex's good friend) groped me when no one was around - he literally felt me up my dress and also pulled down the top of my dress and grabbed my breasts. He pulled his penis out of his pants and said he wanted to "f--k" me. I was so scared. I pushed him away and told him that I didn't think his wife would like it. I immediately got away from him and found my (ex)boyfriend and told him we needed to leave. As soon as we got in his car, I told him what had happened and his response was, "Oh, well, he was just drunk."

I couldn't believe his response. I felt so hurt that he didn't seem to care. To make it worse, a couple of days later my ex asked his friend about it as well as some of the other guys who had been at the party. He said he wanted to find out what "really" happened. Naturally, the guy who attacked me, and his friends, all told lies about me, like that I had come onto him, etc. So my ex basically blamed me for what had happened and believed I had caused it.

I was beside myself and completely devastated, so I broke up with him. Then just a few hours later he texted me that he had changed his mind and believed me. I told him if that was true, then I wanted to try to work things out. I still loved him so much. He said that he was very hurt that I'd broken up with him, but he thought there was still hope for us, and he would just need some time to get over the fact that I'd broken up with him. I told him that I was so sorry for breaking up with him, but I hoped he understood how upset I was when he said he didn't believe me.

A few days later we spent the night together and I really thought things were going to go back to the way they were and that we'd be able to move past what had happened at the party. The next morning as I was leaving his house, he said he'd call me. But he didn't. About a week went by. Before this, we were calling each other once or twice a day and texting dozens of times every day. I finally texted him and asked him why he hadn't called me and also asked if our relationship had all just been fake, made up of lies. He texted back, very angry, and said that he was completely offended that I would accuse him of such a thing. There was no additional communication and that was over a week ago. I basically wrote him off and was starting to get over him. Then he emailed me today out of the blue, apparently still very angry, saying that he can't believe that I would think that our relationship hadn't been real when he really had meant it when he said he loved me.

I just can't continue this drama. I don't know what he wants from me now. And I think it's so ironic because he's the one who told me repeatedly that he didn't want drama in his life. Is he just a jerk? I don't really think he's a sociopath because he seems to truly care for his kids and tries to do the best for them - I don't think a sociopath would care like that. I'm just trying to get a handle on what kind of personality type this is so I can avoid it in the future.

I'm grateful for any advice.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Purple Ribbon Council's Face of Hope

I'm so very honored to have been chosen by the Purple Ribbon Council as their Face of Hope. It has been less than a year when I was literally in the fetal position, unbelievably battered and without hope. I'm grateful to be able to share my story and to hopefully help other women who are suffering.

Purple Ribbon Council is an amazing organization founded in 2006 by Donna Bartos, an extraordinary woman who is a survivor of teen dating abuse. Her goal has been to create a national movement to help prevent domestic abuse before it starts and to interrupt the cycle before it is too late. I love the Purple Ribbon Council's vision statement: Break the Silence, Break the Cycle, Save Lives. That says it all.

Click here to go to Purple Ribbon Council's Facebook page and to find out more about this wonderful organization and how you can get involved in one of its upcoming events.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Reese Witherspoon, cool jewelry and spreading awareness of domestic violence


Since 2004, the Avon Foundation has worked to fight against domestic violence by spreading awareness, funding women's shelters and developing education efforts and prevention programs. Reese Witherspoon serves as Avon's Global Ambassador and has traveled all over to spread word of the Avon Foundation's Speak Out Against Domestic Violence campaign. She works hard to let people know that one in three women are targets of domestic violence at one point in their lives.

Avon's fundraising efforts include a line of jewelry, and 100 percent of the proceeds goes to fund domestic violence shelters. Witherspoon herself wears an Empowerment Ring that is included in this special product line.

At a time when we're seeing so much pink for breast cancer awareness, it's good to know about the efforts that are being made to spread awareness of the other worthy cause that is promoted during the month of October ....National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Shit Hole of a Marriage

I do occasionally write fiction, so I guess you could take this blog post with a grain of salt.... ;)

On March 20, 2009, I married Neil Zucconi in front of a Justice of the Peace. My three beautiful children were our maid of honor, flower girl and ring bearer. They were so happy for me. Like me, they believed I was marrying a good man.

Fast forward to our honeymoon in Maui ... it's late at night, in our hotel room where my husband is pacing and yelling obscenities at me, calling me filthy names that I can't imagine anyone ever calling me.
Me: (sobbing, on the bed in the fetal position) I'm sorry I didn't eat ice cream for dessert with you. Please don't hurt me.

Back up to a few months before we married, when he is proudly telling my teenage son about the Criminal Law degree he got many years ago from a San Diego University.

Fast forward to six months into our marriage when things were very shaky, the verbal abuse had done nothing but escalate, and things got even shakier when we had this conversation:
Him - You love me, don't you? (sweet smile)
Me - Why? (holding my breath)
Him - (big sigh) I don't really have a college degree. I lied. I didn't want you to think I'm the stupid shit that I am.
Me - What are you saying?
Him - Really, I don't have a college degree. But I am taking this online class and I thought if I could get my degree online and just never tell you, then it wouldn't matter anyway because eventually I'd have my degree and it wouldn't be a lie anymore.
Me - So why are you telling me this now?
Him - Well, I'm failing this class (because I'm a stupid shit) and I need you to write my final paper for me so that I can pass. And then I can eventually get my degree and it won't matter that I lied to you about having a degree.
Me - So what else are you lying to me about?? For all I know, you could be having an affair.
Him - No, babe. I'd never do that. I love you too much. So ... would you write this paper for me? Come on, you're my wife. It's your duty if you love me.

Fast forward to September, 2010, when a woman discovers my blog and emails me to let me know that she had an affair with Neil the entire time he was dating me, engaged to me, and during the beginning of our marriage until she finally broke it off when his controlling and stalkish behavior started to scare her. She knew nothing of my existence until she found my blog.

Back up to February 9, 2010, when I went to court and filed divorce papers. I was terrified, beaten down by the abuse, beyond devastated, ashamed that I'd ever married him in the first place, (ashamed that I'd ever dated him, that I'd ever kissed him, that I'd ever given him 5 minutes of my time....) and still reeling from four days previous when I had to call 911 for the police to remove him from my home when I was terrified for my life. Shortly after filing for divorce, I filed an Order of Protection against Neil Zucconi.

This man brutally dragged me into the realm of domestic violence. This wasn't supposed to be my world. But since I am here, I am fighting back, sharing my story with any and all who will listen, and spreading awareness to help other women who deal with the insanity and chaos that exist in this realm. This shouldn't be their world either.

Please remember that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Twice as many women die from domestic violence than from breast cancer. Let's stop the violence.

Take what you want
Steal my pride
Build me up
Or cut me down to size
Shut me out
But I'll just scream
I'm only one voice in a million
But you ain't taking that from me, you ain't taking that from me ...
... Sometimes all it takes is one voice
"Strip Me" by Natasha Bedingfield

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's time to go purple

October is not just about going "pink." It's also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What most people don't realize is that domestic violence touches a lot more women's lives each year than breast cancer. One in three American women experience domestic abuse. Four women every day in the U.S. die from domestic violence.

The public assumes that we can control domestic violence, unlike breast cancer. But that's not true.

Domestic violence can seep into your life unannounced, catch you unaware and bring you to your knees before you can even catch your breath.

Just like a disease.

Domestic violence permeates into all aspects of a person's life. It controls, threatens, yells, beats, bruises, stings, scars, rapes, tortures, shames, rages, extorts, terrifies, degrades, defiles, sickens, horrifies, destroys....and kills.

Be aware. Spread awareness with the purple ribbon. It's time to go purple and end the violence.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Charlene Rubush provides excellent resources on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

I'm honored that Charlene Rubush visited my blog yesterday and kindly left a comment on my previous post (below). Charlene is a writer, researcher and former wife of a Vietnam Veteran who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and not only has she written a book on PTSD, but she also has a fantastic and extremely helpful blog, Win Over PTSD.

Charlene has an amazing range of resources on PTSD available on her blog, and I noticed some very interesting information on domestic violence and PTSD. One of her posts, dated April 7, 2010, covers an article that explored a study on the effects of war on men and how combat veterans are "more than four times as likely as other men to engage in domestic violence." This is a stunning statistic, but I'm really not all that surprised, based on what I've read about combat veterans and the challenges they face when they return to society.

Although my ex-husband has never experienced combat, he has served in the Marines and has been in the Army Reserves for nearly 17 years. I wonder if there have been studies on domestic violence and members of the military who have not actually spent time in combat. I'd be curious to know if those men would also have a higher likelihood to commit acts of domestic violence as compared to men who are not in the military. There may be something about the military environment itself that would contribute to domestic abuse.

I've always been proud to be the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran. However, now I definitely have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to the military simply because of my ex-husband. Shortly after I filed the Order of Protection against him, I was so relieved to pack up all of his Army uniforms, boots, hats, etc., and get that stuff out of my closet and out of my house and into a storage facility. It all represented nothing but violence to me. Because he wore it. Nothing to be proud of there.

It's true that military members and families have a great number of challenges to deal with, from PTSD to other mental health issues. Charlene Rubush's blog is absolutely worth checking out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Healing from the trauma and stress of domestic violence is not easy

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Martin Luther King (This quote is engraved on a wall at the base of the Statue of Liberty.)

Earlier today I was talking with a victim services advocate who works in New York City and does amazing work to help women recovering from abusive relationships. She mentioned a book that she often recommends to survivors of domestic violence. It's a workbook titled "Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence" by Edward S. Kubany, Mari A. McCaig and Janet R. Laconsay, and is for women who have left the relationship or marriage and are ready to heal and move on. Apparently, it's not as helpful for women who are still in an abusive relationship.

Here's an editorial review as provided on Amazon.com: "Second only to survivors of war and victims of rape, women who are severely assaulted by their husbands or partners are the group of trauma victims most likely to suffer from the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Researchers estimate that as many as 80 percent of these women will manifest signs of the disorder in the months and years following an assault. Until now there has been no book specifically written to help these women deal with PTSD. This sensitive and compassionate book, at last, offers them hope."

That's a pretty powerful and eye-opening statement, regarding domestic violence survivors as being "second only to survivors of war and victims of rape." And, yes, I totally believe that, having been there myself. I've never in my life experienced anything more degrading or painful as the violent, verbal assaults that beat me down during the ten long months of my abusive marriage. In addition to the abuse, the fact that he cheated on me during all that time was simply further proof that I had married a truly disgusting and hurtful person with apparently no morals or conscience whatsoever.

The book was published in 2004, and I'm not sure what has come out on the topic of domestic violence survivors and PTSD since then, so I don't know if there might be anything better or more relevant out there. I plan to check it out myself to see if it would hold any relevance to my situation. I still deal with my own recovery practically daily. Although time heals, it's not enough. Recovery takes work as well as patience.

I've written quite a bit on a couple of national web sites about my recent nightmare, and thanks to the feedback from many of the very compassionate women on the sites, I've realized that I'm not alone in this. I think it's incredibly important to share resources like the book mentioned above so we can all help each other. Sadly, domestic violence touches the lives of far too many women - 1 in 4 reportedly - and I imagine there are even more women and children than we can even fathom simply due to the stigma and shame that are attached to domestic abuse. I still have a hard time admitting that I actually married an abuser.

I'm speaking out so that hopefully it will be easier for more women to speak out as well, and seek help.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Today's Article in The Arizona Republic on my police victim services advocate who went to amazing lengths to serve my ex with an Order of Protection

Kudos to The Arizona Republic for recognizing Betsy Jo Fairbrother's fabulous work in today's article while helping to spread awareness of domestic abuse!

Many people may not realize the wonderful, free services that a local police department provides to victims of domestic violence.

I know I didn't, and I was extremely grateful that my police department was there for me when I was going through my Order of Protection nightmare. My advocate, Betsy Jo, went to heroic lengths to have my then-husband served with the Order of Protection. It took a month of tireless work on her part, collaborating with numerous authorities from the National Guard to two different Sheriff departments to TSA's Internal Affairs, and more, before she tracked him down.

As reported in the article, I'm forever grateful to Betsy Jo for her extraordinary dedication to helping victims of domestic abuse.

I'm also grateful to the media, by the way, for giving the issue of domestic violence the media coverage that is so greatly needed to spread awareness and hopefully bring an end to this insidious aspect of our society. There will be more media coverage of my story in the coming days and weeks, including from the E. Coast, and I'll be posting links to an upcoming in-depth TV interview that is slated to air soon as well as a magazine article, and hopefully more....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why I'm speaking out

Someone recently asked me to write a summary of my story .... what I've been through over the past year and why I'm speaking out to spread awareness. So here is what I wrote:

I was married to a good man for 18 years, and we have three extraordinary children. Unfortunately, we had differences that we couldn't work out and divorced in April of 2008. He remains my good friend and is an excellent father to our children.


Only a few months after our divorce, I met a man who I thought was wonderful, and I quickly fell head over heels for him. An Air Marshal and Army Reservist, he had never married and had no kids. He seemed to love my kids, and when we married six months after we met, it felt natural and right.


But soon after we married, things didn't feel so natural and right. His facade began to crack, and lies started to show through. Such as the fact that he had told me and my children that he had a college degree in Criminal Law, but in reality he had never finished college.


When the verbal abuse started, I was not only horrified, but ashamed and embarrassed. It became apparent that I had made a terrible mistake, and yet I remained in a state of denial for several months as the wonderful man I thought I'd married simply faded away and I no longer recognized my husband through all of the degrading name calling and emotional manipulation. I cried nearly every day of the ten months we were married.


One night in February I called the police to remove him from my home because I was so completely terrified that he would physically hurt me or worse. When the police officers encouraged me to file an Order of Protection against him, that was the first time I'd heard those words.


I soon discovered that filing an Order of Protection against my husband was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was devastating to think that I had to go to that extreme measure to keep myself safe. Especially when I was trying to keep myself safe from the one person who I thought had my best interests at heart. Someone I trusted and opened my entire life to. Someone I believed in. To have to cope with the fact that my husband never really loved me at the same time when I was also dealing with having to file an Order of Protection against him was beyond devastating. It was also an extremely lonely place to be. Sadly, I discovered that for much of the time we were together, he was having an affair with a married woman (who actually provided me with written documentation of their affair). The combination of the abuse and the betrayal have been horrendous to deal with.


I am speaking out and sharing my story with the hopes that I can reach other women who may be hiding in the shadows with their own stories of abuse. The only way to eradicate domestic violence is to lean on each other, stand up, speak out and educate. The main thrust of my message is: you are not to blame and you are not alone.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

TV clip from yesterday

A clip of my interview that aired yesterday morning to promote last night's Gala:



AZ Coalition Against Domestic Violence Gala

The Gala last night was a wonderful event, and I completely enjoyed learning more about the amazing and powerful work that the Coalition does, as well as hearing other domestic violence survivor stories.

Here's a link to a video of my presentation at the Gala.

I've received some awesome media coverage of my story, and appeared on the Channel 12 News after the Gala. Here's the link to last night's 10 o'clock news....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeZtoQXLj9s

I had another interview air on Channel 15 yesterday morning as well, and will be posting that clip soon.

Expect to see additional media clips in the next couple of days.

Many kudos goes out to the Gala organizers for a great evening!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My interview on Channel 15 ABC News this morning!

I was interviewed yesterday by Channel 15 (ABC15.com), sharing my story and spreading awareness of domestic violence. Clips from my interview aired on TV twice this morning - during the Channel 15 News at both 5:00 and 6:00 am!

I'm thrilled for the exposure and the opportunity to promote the AZ Coalition Against Domestic Violence Gala this evening!! It will be an extraordinary event as well as a fabulous chance to spread awareness.

Today marks my "coming out" in the media with my domestic violence story. One reporter who interviewed me previously asked what the benefits are of "coming out." I would have to say that the main benefit is spreading my message that the horrors of abuse/domestic violence can seep into the life of any woman of any walk of life. It doesn't matter your background or socioeconomic status or education level, etc. It can happen to you. All it takes is getting involved with just the right guy....


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why did he do this?

I just ran across a very insightful article on the Lovefraud blog by Liane Leedom, M.D. Her article asks the question "Why did he do this?" That's the big million dollar question asked by all victims of sociopaths. A typical, compassionate person most likely will never be able to fathom the answer to this question, because the sociopathic mind is beyond sick and impossible to comprehend.

In her article Leedom asserts that there are three main qualities that are missing from a sociopath.

1) The ability to love
2) Impulse control
3) Moral reasoning

I believe that impulse control is a biggie. I've read in multiple books on sociopaths that they are extremely sexually driven. That's a fact. Whether their hyper-sexuality is due to their apparent high testosterone level or just plain greediness, who knows. But when you've got the combination of a lack of impulse control and utter lack of moral reasoning, you can understand how sociopaths see nothing wrong with having affairs with multiple partners. Or with abusing their partner(s). Or with demanding total control of their partner(s). Or any of the other things that sociopaths do.

Well, sort of....

No, actually, not really.

I honestly can't understand it. Can't even begin to wrap my mind around it. But then again my mind doesn't work that way. So when a writer like Leedom attempts to answer the question "Why did he do this," you can analyze the qualities behind the sociopathic behaviors, but still, you're never going to find the answer you're searching for.

In my opinion, the best part of the article is this:

"One of the main reasons why victims high in empathy do not recognize sociopaths is that the desire for power is non-conscious. People high in empathy make use of their knowledge of their own emotions to interpret the emotions of others. Can you see then why people who rely on empathy in interactions with others completely miss sociopaths? An empathetic person correctly observes that sociopaths enjoy the company of others. He/she then self-references his/her own feelings of affection with regard to enjoying other people. The victim is fooled into interpreting power motivations as affection-related motivations."

Basically, the answer to the question "Why did he do this" is ... because he could.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Click to Empower Domestic Violence Survivors with Allstate Foundation and the NNEDV

I stumbled upon the National Network to End Domestic Violence web site via Facebook and it's a great way to get involved and make a difference when it comes to spreading awareness of domestic violence while helping victims and survivors. The Allstate Foundation has started a campaign where they donate $1 to the National Network to End Domestic Violence for every person who "likes" their page on Facebook.

For more information, you can go to the Click to Empower web page by clicking here.

And to get to the web site for the National Network to End Domestic Violence, click here. It's a fabulous organization dedicated to creating a social, political and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists. I can't think of a more noble mission.

Recently, Dr. Phil partnered with the NNEDV, which has definitely strengthened its advocacy outreach capability. He announced this partnership on his September 13th season premiere, when NNEDV's president, Sue Else, appeared as a guest on his show.

I love all of this recent advocacy - the momentum is building all over the country as organizations are reaching out and bringing domestic violence to the forefront of our nation's issues. Seeing the Click to Empower page on Facebook this morning was a great way to start the week. This stuff is what my blog is all about. :)

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Advice on how to deal with cheating

A friend, who shall remain anonymous, offered an answer and some advice regarding my previous post. I had asked what other women would do if they found out that their husband had been cheating on them the entire time while they were dating, engaged and newly married. My friend had this to say:

"I know that mind-boggled feeling...been there myself before. But just remember that he and his stuff are not about you. We go through life and sometimes we get someone else's "stuff" on us, but you were smarter than many women who think that if they stick it out a little longer, things will get better. Or worse, that it's their fault they got some of their guy's psycho baggage on them. You were amazingly smart and swiftly got out much faster than most. So don't let his shenanigans make you feel bad about you.
Being cheated on feels slimy, but we give the cheater power that he doesn't deserve by feeling that way for any length of time. I know I've felt emotionally raped by it, and they do steal our trust of others. But I decided a long time ago that men like that don't deserve my knowingly giving them my self-esteem.
What a total creep. If nothing else, all of this just validates that getting out fast was the smartest thing you could have done."

Thank you for the encouraging and very wise words, my friend!

Infidelity only adds to the nightmare

So, my readers ... what would you do if you just found out that your husband had been sleeping with another woman, a married woman no less, while you were dating him and engaged to him, right up until the point when you married him? And, not only that, but he became scarily possessive of her and pursued her even when she wanted to break it off, to the point where she became frightened.

Would you:

a) scream
b) cry hysterically
c) vomit
d) post about it on your Facebook wall

Just curious how other women would handle this....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A blog reader shares some fantastic 'safe online dating' tips!

A visitor to this blog left an awesome comment to my previous post on the perils of online dating. I love the comment so much - it's extremely helpful - that I thought I'd post it here as well so that others can easily find the info.

Here's what the anonymous visitor wrote:

Some additional helpful tips.

1. Google can provide potentially helpful information on people.

2. Make sure a friend knows where you are and who you are with and DO NOT change locations and neglect to update your friend.

3. Have a friend call 15-20 minutes into the date so you have an excuse to leave easily if needed.

4 Do a case search for arrest records in the city or county the person claims to live in and/or comes from.

5. If you are ordering food or drinks make sure you order and receive your order directly from your server, not from your date.

Be safe!

This is truly fabulous information, and a great addition to the list I started in the previous post (below). I'm really thankful for all of my readers, and commenters, who take the time to read, write and talk about these important issues - it's so important to spread awareness so that we can all be safe!!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are online dating sites like Match.com dangerous or totally harmless?

I have a couple of single friends who have tried online dating sites like Match.com, and their experiences run the gamut from total disaster dates to meeting guys who were actually very nice and fun to be with. I was recently reading a newspaper article about some of the nightmares that have occurred when people ranging from fairly harmless tricksters to dangerous predators use online dating sites as a vehicle to reach and target innocent people.

For example, one guy on Match.com was conning women by pretending to be a doctor or a federal agent or even an army reservist defending our country. In reality, he was a college student who lured women out on dates with him so that he could drug and rape them. He now faces plenty of prison time for his crimes.

However after that story we're still left with the big question of "how do you know the guy is for real" when you're staring at a profile page like the one above of "flyguy" on Match.com. (By the way, Match.com profiles are public domain, so keep in mind that when you create a profile on a dating site, anyone can link to it, like to this guy's profile.) So this "flyguy" says he's an "outgoing romantic divorced man," but how do you really know he is what he says he is? Is he really "outgoing" or actually a lazy-ass couch potato with one friend? And what does "flyguy" mean by "romantic" exactly? Does his idea of being romantic mean taking you out for a nice dinner and then calling you a f*cking b*tch when you won't eat ice cream with him for dessert? And when he says that he doesn't let his traveling get in the way of "spending quality time with that special woman who happens to be in his life," doesn't he really mean "women," because you just don't know if he might be the kind of flyguy to play around. Hmm... And he says he's divorced, but how do you know if "flyguy" ever, say, abused his wife? You just don't know....

Apparently in recent years men have become bolder about targeting their victims on dating sites. A survey research study conducted by Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 reported that about 20 percent of online daters admit they lie about themselves online. Some say that the statistic has grown much larger since that study. There certainly are a lot more online daters than there were four years ago. I can only imagine that the number of liars has increased as well.

A much more recent study that came out just last month at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association brought in a lot of interesting information about online dating and its idiosyncrasies. There are definite trends when it comes to lying. People tend to add inches to their height and tens of thousands of dollars to their salaries. They probably add hair to their head. And college degrees to their credentials too....

So, again, if you decide to try online dating, how do you know what you're getting into? How can you tell an honest guy from a liar? A smooth-talking, winking federal agent from an Army reservist? A degreed professional from a sexting creep? A "flyguy" from a guy who has his feet firmly planted on the ground? Hmm. Well, it's really impossible to know. But what you can do is be smart and very, very careful. For one thing, remember that in the media you occasionally read and hear about various cases where women have been victimized by sociopaths and other demented sickos after meeting them online. Don't simply assume this couldn't happen to you. It can. And can it ever.

So the precautions you can take? I would consider the following:

- Meet your date in a public place. Very public.
- Schedule your initial date to be structured, say for exactly an hour or whatever you're comfortable with. But be clear that you have another commitment afterwards so that you're not stuck with him stringing you along and eating up your valuable time. (Don't let him be in control.)
- Assume that his online profile is a lie. Ask questions even if he answered them already on his profile. See how he answers them in person.
- Above all, trust your instincts. If you sense the slightest red flag, go with your gut feelings. Do NOT give him the benefit of the doubt in any respect. You do not have to be nice. Read through the charm. Remember that sociopaths are the most charming ones of all.
- And, if you decide to see him again, go s-l-o-w-l-y with your relationship.

I'm sure there are lots more safe online dating tips out there - this is just a start. At the very least it may help you steer towards caution as you shop the online dating sites.

Good luck, ladies!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Donna Bartos recognized for her outstanding work by the Hon Kachina Council

Donna Bartos, founder of the Purple Ribbon Council based in Phoenix, Arizona, recently was awarded the Hon Kachina Award for her tremendous contribution in the domestic violence realm. Bartos is an abuse survivor herself, and started the grassroots organization in 2006 to support, benefit and empower victims.

Bartos has done amazing work to spread awareness of this insidious problem that is rampant in our society. She created an annual event called "Girls Night Out to Cut Out Domestic Violence" that has become a nationwide movement that celebrates survivors of domestic violence. This event is an evening for women to hang out together getting spa-type services while celebrating the empowerment of women who have overcome the tragedy of abuse.

It's awesome that Bartos has been recognized by the Hon Kachina Council, which each year recognizes the achievement of amazing volunteers while also spreading awareness of the importance of volunteerism. This is quite an honor, and I think it's wonderful that the Hon Kachina Council is helping to bring domestic violence to the forefront of the critical problems plaguing our society today.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence to honor an amazing Victim Services Advocate

I am thrilled to share the news that the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence has chosen to honor Betsy Jo Fairbrother, an incredible advocate with a local police department's Victim Services program, who has helped countless victims of domestic violence throughout her career. I can't even begin to imagine how many women's and children's lives have been touched by her while having their lives greatly improved as a direct result of her services.

In fact, Betsy was my advocate when I was going through my Order of Protection hell, and I honestly don't know what I would have done without her. She was there for me, practically 24/7 and totally helped me get my life back. I actually nominated her for the award, and it's awesome to know that something positive has come out of my own horrible experience.

When I nominated her, I heard through the domestic violence community that many, many women have been singing her praises over the years, and there are a lot of people in the domestic violence realm, from judges to police officers to victim services volunteers, who are aware of Betsy's powerful reputation. This is the first year that such an award has been bestowed on a victim services advocate by the Coalition, and it's only fitting that it would go to Betsy.

I continue to thank my lucky stars that I just happened to get paired up with Betsy back when I first got involved with the police and decided to file an Order of Protection against my then-husband, Neil. She is one incredibly strong woman I'll never forget.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

A nice email from a friend made my day!

I received the nicest email from a friend who has a career in law and knows the domestic violence realm quite well. When I filed for divorce last February and then filed an Order of Protection against my husband, this same friend suggested that I go buy the book "The Sociopath Next Door." That book was just the beginning of what is now my library of books on sociopaths and abusers that I've read over the last several months to educate myself enough to hopefully avoid a future nightmare like the one I've just survived.

Anyway, I digress ... back to the nice email ....

So this friend of mine emailed me the absolute nicest note after he visited this blog for the first time. I was really touched and want to share it here. As any blogger or writer knows, writing is a very solitary endeavor. It's just you and your computer. And when you're attempting to spread a worthwhile message or push an advocacy agenda, you often wonder if anyone else out there is reading what you're working so hard to put into words. My friend's email is all the more appreciated because he reminded me that this kind of work can indeed make an impact.

Here's what he wrote to me:

"Your OOP survival blog is very powerful! One of the great things that I admire about you, Kristin, is your ability to 'find your voice,' and use it to affect true change. I know very well how painful it is to discuss and rehash painful experiences that we have experienced, but in some small way it is quite liberating. I used to think that the phrase 'time heals all wounds' meant that I had to wait years to start to feel 'normal' again. But I have since learned that I am in charge of my own healing process.

I believe wholeheartedly that great things are in store for you. Personally and professionally. You have truly been blessed with an abundance of gifts, talents and insight that needs to be shared. I can say with absolute certainty that ANYONE who comes into contact with you will find themselves forever changed.

Beyond surviving the horrible atrocities you have endured, you are thriving. You have been faced with reprehensible trials in your life, but you have emerged stronger, more focused, and infinitely more resilient. Keep moving forward confidently in your journey with the self-assuredness that you possess. Wishing you serenity, and boundless joy."

How nice is that?!? (Thank you, my friend!!)

Incredibly, it has only been about 6 months since I was quite literally in the fetal position, my self esteem cruelly crushed and my life filled with terror. I'd have thought that it would have been my husband who would write me a nice email - the kind (like the one above) that would lift me up, filled with caring thoughts that would make me feel like I'm glowing from the inside out. It shouldn't have been my husband who smashed my heart, annihilated my self worth and obliterated my feelings with twisted, cruel, obscene words.

But .... things, and people, aren't always what they seem. Or what they should be. So I'll press on, move forward with this blog and keep trying to advocate so that other women can hopefully avoid the situation that I found myself in. And I will appreciate every single nice email and blog comment that comes my way and lifts my spirits as I continue my journey of healing and recovery.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Stop Abuse For Everyone, a SAFE online support group with a multitude of domestic violence resources

I just came upon the web site of a wonderful human rights organization that offers unique services for all victims of domestic violence. It is called SAFE, (Stop Abuse For Everyone), is based in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and has been around since 1996. It is especially geared towards helping those domestic violence victims who typically fall through the cracks of domestic violence services and the legal system.

What's unusual is that SAFE provides an online support group as well as a lengthy list of online resources. It's easy to find the state or country where you're located and with one click you can find a seemingly endless listing of domestic violence resources and organizations in your area. One organization that the SAFE web site refers to is www.womenslaw.org, that provides very helpful legal information on how to file an Order of Protection (restraining order) and how they work. This is a great resource that I wish I'd known about last March when I filed my Order of Protection.

SAFE's online support group gives domestic violence victims the opportunity to easily participate in a forum with other victims and survivors. The support group is a safe place to reach out to others, share experiences and find a wealth of support. In the online forum, there are all kinds of domestic violence-related discussions going on, such as dealing with verbal abuse, how to move on after an abusive relationship, dealing with the shame of being abused by your husband, how to support your husband through his anger management issues, and lots more. It's helpful to have online conversations on domestic violence issues all in one place.