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.

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....


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.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A September weekend in Sedona brings hope to a healing heart

I am in an incredible place right now - one of the most beautiful spots in Arizona. I decided to spend the weekend in Sedona for a little escape and to be surrounded by the stunning red mountains during this long Labor Day weekend.

The last time I was here was exactly a year ago with my then-husband. It's hard to believe that it was only a year ago that I was in this gorgeous place, and that there have been so many hellish and traumatic events that have happened since then. At that time, during that Sedona get-away a year ago, there had been a few hints of what was to come, but for the most part I was oblivious. I was still caught up in loving the man I thought he was and in total denial of the slip-ups in his facade that he'd so masterfully created for me. Denial was such an easy path to follow back then.

Now, looking back, I'm still sad. And I wish I wasn't still so sad. But I tell myself that it's only been about a couple of months since we settled and I put the ugly, sordid Order of Protection case behind me. I guess I'm expected to still be sad. I mean, my heart was not just broken but smashed into a bunch of tiny pieces that I've gradually been putting together.

My heart will heal. I can feel it at times when there is a glimmer of hope, like yesterday when I discovered a new hiking trail that I never knew existed. I hiked for two hours, stumbling upon incredible views of the side of a burning red mountain, or random patches of prickly pear cactus in total bloom. Every time a smile came to my face with each discovery at a turn in the trail, I felt in my heart that things are getting better. I know it will take more time, but any kind of recovery requires patience. And most of all, time.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lovefraud writer asks how you know you've encountered a sociopath

A great article came out today on Lovefraud.com by Dr. Liane Leedom. It definitely resonates with a lot of Lovefraud readers, considering the dozens of comments that keep popping up below the post. Leedom asks how one would know that they've come across a sociopath. For those of us who have been with a sociopath, this question can be terrifying since the last thing you want to do is end up with another sociopath. But how do you know? If you've already been "taken" once, can it happen just as easily again?

Leedom makes things very simple. In the article, Leedom simply asserts that it is the lying that defines a sociopath. If you recognize the lying, you can recognize that you've got a sociopath on your hands. Leedom explains, a sociopath's lying is not your average harmless white lie, and therefore relatively easy to recognize. A sociopath lies to manipulate or uphold an image that he has created through his lying. The lie, or lies, can be absolutely stunning and can take your breath away if you've taken it for granted that what he's told you is reality.

According to Leedom, you don't need a checklist to know if you've encountered a sociopath. Identifying a sociopath is as simple as this: "If you are astounded by another person's capacity to lie and misrepresent reality, you can be sure you have encountered a sociopath."

Yep, I've been there, done that. Once I was told such a whopping lie that he upheld for an entire year, that when it took me a few days to digest the fact that I'd been lied to in such a big way, he actually got angry at me for "not getting over it yet." Nice, huh....

You just can't win when you're with a sociopath. But you can leave! :)