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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CDC's latest report: 1 in 4 women were violently attacked by a husband or boyfriend

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) yesterday, based on a telephone survey conducted in 2010. Results show that "on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States." You can find details of the report here, as well as a fact sheet and toolkit.

One in 4 women in the U.S. say they were violently attacked by a husband or boyfriend. NPR calls this a "startling" number. NPR reports that as many as 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.

Personally, as a women's health advocate, I'm not at all surprised. As I read through the comments from government officials and others who seem truly shocked by the results, I'm relieved that the CDC's report will help spread awareness of this ugly part of our society that has remained hidden for far too long. It's time for us to take notice and take action. Thankfully, the CDC has begun a new annual project in this area....it will be interesting to see how the agency proceeds to tackle this major public health issue.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What has evolution got to do with it?

Two U.S. researchers are trying to connect domestic violence to ancient origins while attempting to provide an evolutionary explanation for the root cause of violence. For example, they say that domestic violence "carries a selective advantage tied with reproductive success," and "jealousy is an adaptation to keep couples together."

I'm not sure I buy this research - their study results seem very simplistic and don't really achieve anything of great value when it comes to determining who might and might not commit acts of domestic violence, or what the root cause of such violence is.

The article announcing this research appeared yesterday in New Scientist. Critics are saying that this perspective will only serve to give people an excuse to commit violence. (Evolution made me do it!)

As someone who has experienced first hand the horrors of domestic violence, I don't think I'm all that interested in evolutionary biology to provide an explanation for why I experienced what I did. I don't believe that science particularly plays much of a role in the degradation, destruction, seemingly endless pain, gripping terror and emotional paralysis that domestic violence causes. As far as what causes domestic violence....that's completely out of the scope of a couple of evolutionary scientists.....

Monday, June 6, 2011

One woman dies every 20 minutes: Help spread awareness of female genocide in India

Rita Banerji of the 50 Million Missing Campaign visited my blog and left a heartbreaking comment on my previous post, sharing the story of a woman who was abused in horrific ways by her husband and in-laws. At one point, they force-fed her acid. I can't even imagine her suffering. And yet, mainly due to cultural reasons, she chose to stay with her abusive husband. That kind of story makes my heart ache.

Rita also shared with me this stunning statistic...every 20 minutes, one married woman in India dies at the hands of her husband and/or in-laws.

So what is the 50 Million Missing Campaign? Here's what the organization's website says: "The 50 Million Missing is a global campaign to stop India’s female genocide. In three generations more than 50 million women have been selectively eliminated from India’s population through practices like female feticide, infanticide, intentional starvation of girls, and dowry related murders. This is the largest, ongoing genocide in human history, and it is occurring across all sections of Indian society, irrespective of class, education, economics, religion and community."

This international campaign is powerful and far-reaching, and yet needs many more voices to help spread its message and bring an end to India's female genocide. To learn more, please visit http://50millionmissing.wordpress.com or contact the organization at 50millionmissing@gmail.com.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Crusading for a cause; After suffering personal losses, women reach out to help others

Wow! How cool to appear in a magazine article along with Deborah Morosini, Christopher's Reeve's sister-in-law, and other women advocates!! It's humbling to be in an article alongside such amazing women who are doing incredible work to help others.

So many have known hardship, have somehow overcome it and then went on to speak out and advocate for others, ...and that's a beautiful thing.

You can find the article by clicking here and going to page 24-25.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Charlene Rubush, a great source of inspiration, kindly visited my blog

Charlene Rubush visited my blog recently and I was so touched by the comment she left behind that I thought I'd post it (below) along with a link to her awesome blog. Charlene is a freelance writer who specializes in women's issues as well as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Her blog, Win Over PTSD, is incredibly well done and contains a wealth of resources and information, especially for combat veterans and their families. She has also written a book, found by clicking here.

I'm very touched by Charlene's communication with me in the past, and most recently, and continue to admire her work.

Hello again Kristin,

I just "stopped by" again, and am touched by your response to my latest comment- You are such an inspiration to me!

I understand your thoughts about not posting as often in order to "move on." But I will look forward to the times when you do post, as all your readers will be interested in your progress and recovery.

I haven't been posting as often on my blog about combat-related PTSD. I had to take a mini-break too. -But I'm always compelled to come back to it, as I know the need for my experience and knowledge is out there.

I commend you for helping that woman overseas. Awesome!! You shine a bright light of hope for all of us who have "been there." I wish you peace, joy and love. Words cannot really express how much I admire you, as a woman, and as a courageous, compassionate human being.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Re-visiting the traits of a sociopath with input from a concerned woman

A woman recently emailed me about a new relationship that she is in that has her concerned. She's been dating a guy for a couple of months now and is wondering if he might perhaps be a sociopath. Although I posted the below info from Lovefraud.com in a blog post back in June, she commented on it and shared her current experience (in red). So I'm posting it here. I'm grateful that she took the time to go through the list of sociopathic traits because I think there are probably a lot of women out there who can relate. It's so important to be able to recognize the traits of a sociopath. Although it's estimated that only 4-5 percent of our population are sociopaths, they're still out there, and that number may actually be on the low side.

10 Signs that you’re dating a sociopath

If your new romantic interest exhibits all or most of the following behaviors, be careful.
He or she might be a sociopath.

1. Charisma and charm. They’re smooth talkers, always have an answer, never miss a beat. They seem to be very exciting. He's a bit shy actually. But he is also good at talking and joking around when alone with me.

2. Enormous ego. They act like the smartest, richest or most successful people around. They may actually come out and tell you that. Also rather shy, but he did manage to tell me that he belongs to Mensa and has a high IQ. He did manage to tell me of lofty plans to have his own business and make a million. Kind of pie in the sky talk.

3. Overly attentive. They call, text and e-mail constantly. They want to be with you
every moment. They resent time you spend with your family and friends. YEP YEP YEP many many texts, wants to know what I do during the day, one night when I dropped a call and didn't text a while asked "where did you go" seemed to be annoyed that I dropped out of range for a couple of hours.

4. Jekyll and Hyde personality. One minute they love you; the next minute they hate
you. Their personality changes like flipping a switch. Never toward ME yet. But I saw the flip as he felt slighted by someone's comment and as waiters in restaurants ignored him. He took it personally and got very grim and sullen. Very unpleasant and persistent mood. Made me feel actually alarmed and scared.

5. Blame others. Nothing is ever their fault. They always have an excuse. Someone else causes their problems. Not yet. Except in talking about three ex wives. It's kind of all their fault. I wish I could talk to them.

6. Lies and gaps in the story. You ask questions, and the answers are vague. They tell stupid lies. They tell outrageous lies. They lie when they’d make out better telling the truth.

7. Intense eye contact. Call it the predatory stare. If you get a chill down your spine when they look at you, pay attention.

8. Move fast. They quickly proclaim that you’re their true love and soul mate. They want to move in together or get married quickly. YES!!!!

Wants me to meet his parents.
Said he was in love with me.
Said he doesn't want anyone else to touch me!
Mentioned in passing, this would be his commute to work from MY HOUSE. We live 2 hrs apart. He is hinting he'd want to live with me and drive to work from my house. I made no comment. He said it again on the drive. Very weird.

9. Pity play. They appeal to your sympathy. They want you to feel sorry for their abusive childhood, psychotic ex, incurable disease or financial setbacks. He wants to fix his anger problem he says but hopes I will UNDRSTAND him. That is a pity thing.

10. Sexual magnetism. If you feel intense attraction, if your physical relationship is
unbelievable, it may be their excess testosterone. I've never felt this in my marriage. That's why I am an easy target.
Sex was unbelievable. He got to me emotionally bec of it.
Ive never felt so desired or loved with my husband...and I constantly want sex with him, and way too soon. And I believed it was LOVE making rather than sex, and he called it that.

Now I feel that maybe I was even just used for sex? I don't know. He said he was in love with me before we were intimate, but we did get intimate very soon. Ironically he couldn't perfrom the first tiem he was so nervous but it was totally fine later.

I don't know what to do.

I think he is a sociopath, but I 'm not sure.

It sounds to me like this guy truly could be a sociopath - there are certainly enough red flags here to raise concern. And the fact that she is concerned is reason enough for her to end it with him....

(For more information on the traits of sociopaths, visit Lovefraud.com. The site was created by freelance writer and book author Donna Andersen, after her own experience being married to a sociopath.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Letting the Venom Fly: The Marking of a Crazy Anniversary

Today, February 5th, marks the one-year anniversary of the terrifying evening when I actually had to call the police to keep me safe from my then-husband, Neil Zucconi. This was a turning point for me, when I realized that my short-lived marriage to my second husband was definitely, absolutely, undeniably over. And when I realized how far, far, far down he had brought me - down to the point where I had to dial 911 for the very first time in my life and ask for police intervention. (Yes, my house became known in the neighborhood as "the" house where the police came due to domestic violence, thanks to Neil.)

Even though I've worked my way through the overwhelming shock, denial, pain, grief, anger, and every other emotion that wreaked havoc on my mind during the hellish 10 months that I was married to Neil, I'm going to give myself permission on this one day - this one-year anniversary marking a nightmarish evening - to LET THE VENOM FLY.

And yes, I repeat, I HAD TO CALL THE POLICE TO PROTECT MYSELF FROM MY H-U-S-B-A-N-D. How pathetic is that?!? What kind of man would terrify his wife to the point where she had to call the police to have him removed from her house - a house that he did not even own?? (Yes, obviously a rhetorical question.) But still.....let's explore this question, rhetorical or not....

Would this kind of man be:

1) An absolute jerk?
2) A man without even a half an ounce of pride?
3) Maybe some kind of psycho?(ie: see my blog post dated January 14)
4) Merely another law enforcement dude with a seriously major ego that keeps him feeling he's above the law?
5) All of the above? None of the above? I'm open to suggestions because I honestly cannot figure out what someone like that could possibly be thinking.

What I do know without a doubt is that I'd never been more terrified than I was on that night of February 5, 2010. I have the 7-minute 911 tape to prove it. And that call came after roughly 40 minutes or so (it seemed like hours) of drama, when Neil had spent time pacing through my house talking incoherently and at times angrily, his eyes flashing. And he wouldn't leave. (Again, I ask: What kind of man...?!?....hmm. See #4 above)

At one point, he and I were standing in the laundry room, in between the cat litter box and the back door to the garage. Yes, ironically,...we were very near a box containing shit. (See my post dated October 8, A Shit Hole of a Marriage.) And I was hoping that he would suddenly, magically, leave through the door so that I would never have to see him again. But, instead, he turned to me and said that I should give him a blow job. Really, Neil?!? Nice. (And what kind of man...?!...See #1 above.)

The fear that had started as a ball in my stomach the minute he'd forced his way through my front door earlier that evening, swiftly rose up to my throat at that point and I somehow made it to the phone in the next room, managing through the wave of nausea to then run into my bathroom where I felt safe enough to dial 911. He obviously knew that I was calling for help (my house isn't that big), and yet he still refused to leave and continued pacing through my house, from the kitchen to my bedroom to my closet and back, at times yelling at me. (What kind of man does this?!?....See #3 above.) As I clutched the phone, crying and shaking and trying to listen to the 911 operator, I wondered if he was going to pull one of his guns on me. I wondered if I would see my children again.

So... back to the present, one year later, when I occasionally look back on that night, incredulous that it even happened to me. Still somewhat stunned that I actually had a man like that in my life at all. A man who not only terrified me on that night and on other occasions as well, but who also had an affair with a married woman the entire time he was with me. So....what kind of man would DO something like that?!? (See #2 above.)

And, yes, this blog post is not my typical - yes, it is spewing anger and not at all pretty - but you know, it's all indicative of that horrible, hellish, nightmare of an evening when I was frightened to death by a SHIT of a man who doesn't deserve the above analysis or even another millisecond of my time and brain energy. You've just got to get angry, scream out and let the venom fly in order to release it all and move on.

So I'm done here. I've expressed what I wanted to mark this insane anniversary, and for the rest of my life I won't give it another thought, other than to use my story to help advocate for others who may find themselves in a similar situation. Because as much as I'd like to believe that there are no other bad men in the world, I know well that there are other men like Neil out there who are frightening and abusing women -- simply because they can.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Family Court System Is Broken - this blog rocks!!

There is a fabulous and very helpful blog called Family Court System Is Broken that was started by a woman who was fed up with the many fallacies of family court. It is crucial that domestic violence victims and their advocates know about the flaws that exist in family court, as well as the differences between family court and criminal court systems.

One issue that struck me while I was reading a post on this blog entitled What You Need to Know About Divorce if You Have Been in an Abusive Marriage is the fact that many abuse victims are so caught up in the hellish cycle of abuse that they don't know which end is up. An abused woman may not know if/when her abusive husband is lying, and even when she suspects that he is lying, she still hopes that he isn't. It's that awful fog of denial that prevents many abuse victims from seeing and comprehending what is actually happening to them. By the time it's apparent that a divorce is on the horizon, the abuse victim is often so incredibly exhausted, emotionally drained and terrified about her finances, that she's willing to do just about anything to avoid a nightmarish divorce process.

But when an abusive husband tells his wife that he wants an "amicable" divorce, she can't afford to believe him for a second. Even though it may sound tempting and easy. The truth is, there is no such thing as an amicable divorce with an abusive spouse. It's just not going to happen, and the abuse victim will most likely end up being victimized all over again in the court system.

There are some great tips as well as helpful links throughout this blog - it's well worth checking out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How do you trust again?

I recently received an email from an incredibly insightful woman who is on her own journey of recovery and healing where she hopes to regain the ability to love again. She asked me how my experience of being in an abusive relationship has shaped my actions and perceptions of men.

I thought this was a great question and it really made me stop and think. I know I've gone through stages over the past year where I've felt a total lack of faith in ever being able to have an honest and loving relationship again. Men seemed like the enemy. I was so blown away by all of the overwhelming deceit and the horrific abuse that I experienced while married to Neil Zucconi, that it was difficult to look beyond it all and envision myself dating again.

Fortunately, I happen to have some really good men in my life who have helped me tremendously through their friendship as I've gradually gathered my strength and my faith back. My first husband has been my steadfast best friend through thick and thin over the past 25 years. And I also have some fantastic friendships with men whom I've known since elementary school, as well as colleagues, family friends and neighbors, who have all helped me shift my perception and renew my faith in the fact that only a very small percentage of men out there are bad eggs. I just happened to pick one, but it was through no fault of my own.

I guess I got to a point a few months ago when I made a decision not to let what my ex did to me affect my inherent trusting self. I've always been a very trusting and open person. And I'm not going to let a monster change that. Because that's part of who I am. And I won't let a person or a life event strip part of me away. I feel good about dating now. I've got myself back - my confidence, my sense of humor, my happiness, my tremendous appreciation of my life....and I'm happy to share it with someone else.

I know that I'll find more heartache and struggle and I proceed through life. I don't bother with having faith or trusting that I won't. That's futile. Because it's going to happen. But.... I also know that I'll get through it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sudden violence and a face that says a thousand words

I took a little hiatus from this blog over the holidays and can't say that I really missed this topic much at all. I obviously started this blog for a reason - to express myself and heal during an inordinately stressful time in my life - and over time it has morphed into more of an advocacy piece that hopefully will help others find help and heal as well. Even as positive as that is, it's still hard to be in this realm because of the memories of the past year that get stirred up. So the past few weeks have been a good break for me.

But, as it happens, the tragic shooting six days ago in Tucson somehow, in a weird way, drew me back here.

At first it was just the shock of the sudden violence that got to me. It hasn't been all that long since I experienced the shock of violence in my own life, and I guess I'm still slightly sensitive. Maybe my PTSD symptoms are still holding out just under the surface, waiting to strike too quickly. Plus it hasn't been easy seeing this absolutely evil-looking, bald man staring me down from every newspaper I've picked up over the past few days. That has been enough to make my stomach drop. When one of my friends called me to say that the accused Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner, reminded her of a photo she had once seen of my ex-abuser, that totally gave me the chills.

Another thing that freaked me out was a segment on Channel 3 News that provided insights into Loughner's face. Yes, his face. A professional "face reader" who has worked with the police on various investigations was asked to "read" Loughner's face and provide info on his character. The two photos below are both of Loughner: the one on the left shows the left side of his face paired with its mirror image, and the photo on the right shows the right side of his face with its mirror image. How wild that this is the same person! The face reader said that he obviously is a sick person because the two sides of his face are so completely different. Apparently this is common among people with....issues. Especially those who try really hard to portray a certain persona to others when, in reality, inside they are completely different.

I also just happened upon an interesting article in The Washington Post today about schizophrenia. Again, I got the chills. The author pointed to the discussions raging in the media on whether or not we should blame politics or mental illness on Loughner's turn to horrific violence. And of course the old debate of whether Loughner's apparent schizophrenia is innate or due to external factors has provoked thoughtful discussion as well.

I guess a similar debate could go on with regards to domestic violence. Does a person become an abuser due to outside influence or is abuse simply part of that person's biological makeup from the get-go just waiting to rear its ugly head?

When it comes to schizophrenia, according to the author's research, external factors such as politics or violent media have no connection whatsoever to the illness. And, sadly, schizophrenics also apparently suffer from anosognosia, which means the inability to have insight into or knowledge of one's own illness. So someone like Loughner doesn't believe that he is ill. So therefore he most likely can't be helped. Hmm.....sounds like someone I knew.

I swear, those photos of Loughner truly give me the creeps. Especially those strikingly menacing eyebrows on the left image. Yikes. If you're interested in watching the "face reading" segment on Channel 3, click here. It is fascinating. Even if it does kinda make you want to hurl....