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.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Old friends are back in touch and shocked by my Order of Protection story

Long-time friends of mine from Texas reached out to me yesterday. It had been a while since we'd been in touch, so it was really good to hear from them. They had happened to come across my blog, and were of course stunned to read the nightmare that has transpired over the past few months. They felt that my story was fitting for a Hollywood horror movie.

Yep. That's true. A total horror movie. An ultimate nightmare. So I filled in my friends on the gory details of what had transpired to cause me to file an Order of Protection. And as I was emailing them much of what had happened, it felt so incredibly surreal. I read over the email before I sent it, and it seemed so matter of fact. As if I had just written someone else's story. This craziness couldn't have happened to me.

But it did. And somehow I've survived. And I've turned away from it as quickly as possible, shoving it behind me and forging ahead with my life.

So far so good, but there are still times when a painful memory will rear its ugly head and I have to work at it to kill it before I begin to crumble.

The one thing that is so hard to get past is the fact that one human being can be so inhumanely cruel to another. It's so hard to understand. Especially when those human beings are married. But I know that I'll never truly understand the way someone like that thinks.

And am I thankful.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lessons in domestic violence recounted in Kathleen Krenek's insightful article

I just came across a fantastic opinion article that actually ran nearly two weeks ago in the Silicon Valley Mercury News. It was written by Kathleen Krenek, executive director of Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence. In the article, Krenek refers to the Mel Gibson tapes and basically analyzes aspects of Gibson's behavior that are obviously that of a typical batterer.

Gibson's phone calls indicated stalking, asserts Krenek, by the fact that he was "calling repeatedly, in this case allegedly 30 times in one day, including in the middle of the night,...(and) attempts at sleep deprivation through the calls ..."

It seems like most people, including the media, have spent a lot of time analyzing the content of Mel Gibson's phone calls, but what Krenek brings up, which is the stalking aspect of the phone calls themselves, is very important. Just the fact that he made these repeated phone calls is scary. And I know very well how scary it is to be on the receiving end of repeated, degrading phone calls. When I was dealing with repeated, stalking-type phone calls, I had the advantage of having access to the caller's phone records since we shared a cell phone account. When my phone was turned off, which I had to do at night when his phone calling was often incessant and interrupted my sleep, I could track his calls even when he didn't leave a voice message. And it was scary to see the frequency and crazy times of night that he attempted to call me.

This type of behavior is obviously all about control, and that's what I believe Mel Gibson's problem is. He apparently can't take the fact that he's not in control. He was grasping for some semblance of control through attempts at intimidation and degradation. But all that he accomplished with his horrific tirades on the phone was to give the world a reflection of himself.

Krenek ends her article with encouragement for people to act to bring an end to abusive behaviors. Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence is an incredible organization that was actually the second domestic violence shelter program to start in the state of California, and the very first domestic violence shelter to offer bilingual English-Spanish services in the U.S. You can reach Next Door by visiting their web site here or by calling their 24-hour hotline at 408-279-2962.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More interesting stuff from Adam Khan's blog on sociopaths

I wrote about Adam Khan's blog nearly a month ago, and I continue to follow the comments to his "Common Everyday Sociopaths" blog post. One of Adam's recent comments pointed to an article in Scientific American Mind that is titled "Inside the Mind of a Psychopath." Apparently, scientists claim that the worst psychopaths aren't necessarily "bad" people, they merely suffer from a brain abnormality.

Well, no duh. Of course sociopaths/psychopaths have a brain abnormality. Anyone without a conscience has to have something seriously wrong with their brain, and it doesn't take a degree in neuroscience to figure that one out.

What caught my eye was the comment right below that one, written by an anonymous commenter who asks if it's possible for a sociopath to experience some form of love. Of course, this is a rhetorical question since a sociopath is incapable of truly loving another human being.

The comment goes on to explore whether or not a sociopath is "bad." And it's a fascinating comment. Interestingly, the writer asserts that it's irrelevant to think in terms of whether or not the sociopath is bad. Obviously, if you're the sociopath's victim, you'll believe him to be bad, most likely downright evil. But if you think along the lines of the sociopath, good vs. bad and right vs. wrong are completely irrelevant because "morality is concerned with how our actions affect others and human inter-relations." A sociopath's world is "devoid of feelings and human relations."

The above mentioned article in Scientific American Mind states that "One of the most striking peculiarities of psychopaths is that they lack empathy; they are able to shake off as mere tinsel the most universal social obligations. They lie and manipulate yet feel no compunction or regrets—in fact, they don’t feel particularly deeply about anything at all." So true. Sociopaths can't love another person since they can't feel anything on a deep emotional level at all.

Remember this like a mantra helps tremendously after breaking up with a sociopath.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Candlelight Vigil for Missing Arizona Woman, Friends and Family Seek Answers

A group of devoted friends and family held a vigil yesterday for Jamie Laiaddee, a 32-year-old Arizona woman who has been missing for nearly five months. Flyers have been posted all over the Phoenix area as loves ones are determined to have closure on this tragic case.

Laiaddee's boyfriend, Rick Valentini, is the suspect in her disappearance, and has been in jail since May. The more information on him that has been released to the media, the more the guy sounds like an absolute sociopath in the worst possible sense. Not only does he have at least one known alias, and has been charged with forgery as well as with misconduct involving weapons, he has also used online dating sites to reach more women. He actually used Laiaddee's credit cards (after she had disappeared) to pay for online dating services, and proceeded to go on dates with several different women in the Phoenix area before police arrested him on May 28 in connection with Laiaddee's disappearance.

This bit of info on Valentini I found interesting....when he met Laiaddee, he pretended to be a college graduate. He apparently attempted to create a persona that would impress her. Nice.

He must be quite skilled at conning women, since he has several photos posted online that show him with different women that authorities assume he met online. All I can say is thank goodness he's in jail. And it makes me wonder how many others like him are out there, working the online dating sites....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Cut Ties With Your Abuser Online

This article on CBS.com really made me laugh, although it does have some pearls of wisdom when it comes to cutting your online ties with an ex. You can so easily delete an abusive ex from your online life with just a click of a button....if only it were as easy offline!!

The greatest one is IDump4You.com, which purports to "take the messiness out of any breakup," and where you can pay a small fee to have the web site break up with someone for you. There are different tiers of service, from the $10 basic quick breakup call to the $50 divorce call. Personally, I think this is an awesome way to dump a sociopath.....in fact, if you visit the site and click on "psycho" in the upper navigation bar, you'll find an audio file dated 8/11/10 called "Kara dumps Matt." (That must have been the best $10 that Kara's ever paid in her life.) I just about fell out of my chair laughing as I listened to Matt.....hmm.....sounds so eerily familiar, even down to the way he talks.

As far as maintaining your online accounts such as Facebook and Twitter after a breakup, I think it's crucial to change all of your passwords. And to re-visit all security settings on all of your accounts, especially any blogs. On social networking sites like Facebook, you'll want to go through your list of friends and eliminate the ones who have any ties to your ex-abuser, especially his relatives. Even if your ex isn't a member of the same sites you are, it's wise to be as careful as possible.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In the Domestic Violence song, 'Love The Way You Lie,' Eminem and Rihanna give accurate depiction of an abusive relationship

Released on June 22, this catchy song by Eminem is all over the radio these days. I like the beat, and whenever it's on the radio in my car, I belt out the lyrics right along with Rihanna. The song is so easy to relate to when you've been entangled in an abusive relationship. The fact that it features Rihanna is especially moving since she had her own struggles with domestic violence. When she sings, there are no tears, no whining, no regret or apologies....she simply puts out the truth of an abuse victim's perspective in a very telling, straightforward way.

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
But that's alright because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
But that's alright because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie, I love the way you lie

Interestingly, the lyrics are written from the perspective of the abuser. It's filled with his heated arguing, excuses, and lie-filled apologies, and clearly shows the vicious cycle of abuse that makes up domestic violence.

I can't tell you what it really is
I can only tell you what it feels like
And right now there's a steel knife in my windpipe
I can't breathe, but I still fight while I can fight
As long as the wrong feels right, it's like I'm in flight
High of a love, drunk from the hate
It's like I'm huffing paint
And I love it the more that I suffer
I suffocate
And right before I'm about to drown, she resuscitates me
She fucking hates me
And I love it
Where are you going
I'm leaving you
No you ain't
Come back
We're running right back
Here we go again
It's so insane....

You totally get how demented the thought process is of the misogynistic abuser and just how evil he is. The abuse depicted in the song is all too common, and anyone who has been abused will most likely feel the lyrics are all too familiar. It doesn't really matter what's said or done by the abuser -- abuse is abuse and the end result is that it feels just as degrading and horrific regardless.

....Don't you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk
Told you this is my fault
Look me in the eyeball
Next time I'm pissed
I'll aim my fist at the dry wall
Next time
There will be no next time
I apologize
Even though I know it's a lie
I'm tired of the games
I just want her back
I know I'm a liar....

It's a pretty deep song for Eminem and I think it may actually end up making a difference as young people are exposed to it and feel it resonate with them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Your abuser could be stalking you via your cell phone!

A friend of mine brought an article to my attention today, and I really want to spread word of it to women who are trying to escape an abuser and stay safe. Location-tracking programs that are in some cell phones can be really helpful, like when you're trying to keep track of your teen's whereabouts. But they can also be very harmful for domestic violence victims.

The article in today's Wall Street Journal brings this issue to light by mentioning a recent case in Arizona where a man used his wife's cell phone to stalk her. According to the article, an increasing number of domestic violence victims arrive at shelters complaining that they can't figure out how their abusers are tracking them down. They're shocked to discover that their cell phones are the tool being used to find their location. Especially since a cell phone is often an abuse victim's lifeline, quickly putting her in touch with the police and others who can help in times of crisis. It's becoming common practice for women's shelters to provide domestic violence victims with new cell phones that can't be tracked, while completely dismantling the cell phones the victims bring in with them.

Before reading the article, I was aware of how cell phones can allow GPS tracking, but what I didn't know was how sophisticated the tracking software has become. Software such as MobileSpy can even track and record text messages. That's truly scary. Like if a woman is dealing with an angry, jealous abuser who would go ballistic if he knew she was texting another man.

With the various moneymaking add-on programs being offered by cell phone carriers, I'm wondering where the incentive is for them to ensure that abusers and stalkers aren't utilizing the programs for domestic violence purposes. It seems to me that these tracking systems are way too easy to abuse.