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


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


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


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


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.