Sanctuary for the Abused

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Letter from Nicole Brown to O.J. Simpson

(This letter was introduced in Simpson's civil trial)

O.J. -- I think I have to put this all in a letter. Alot of years ago I used to do much better in a letter, I'm gonna try it again now.

I'd like you to keep this letter if we split, so that you'll always know why we split. I'd also like you to keep it if we stay together, as a reminder.

Right now I am so angry! If I didn't know that the courts would take Sydney and Justin away from me if I did this I would (expletive) every guy including some that you know just to let you know how it feels.

I wish someone could explain all this to me. I see our marriage as a huge mistake and you don't.

I knew what went on in our relationship before we got married. I knew after 6 years that all the things I thought were going on -- were! All the things I gave in to -- all the "I'm sorry for thinking that" "I'm sorry for not believing you" -- "I'm sorry for not trusting you."

I made up with you all the time & even took the blame many times for your cheating.

I know this took place because we fought about it alot & even discussed it before we got married with my family and a minister.

OK before the marriage I lived with it & dealt with (illegible) mainly because you finally said that we weren't married at the time.

I assumed that your recurring nasty attitude & mean streak was to cover up your cheating and a general disrespect for women and a lack of manners!

I remember a long time ago a girlfriend of yours wrote you a letter -- she said well you aren't married yet so let's get together. Even she had the same idea of marriage as me. She believed that when you marry you wouldn't be going out anymore -- adultery is a very important thing to many people.

It's one of the 1st 10 things I learned at Sunday school. You said it (illegible) some things you learn at school stick! And the 10 Commandments did!

I wanted to be a wonderful wife!

I believed you that it would finally be "you and me against the world" -- that people would be envious or in awe of us because we stuck through it & finally became one a real couple.

I let my guard down -- I thought it was finally gonna be you and me -- you wanted a baby (so you said) and I wanted a baby -- then with each pound you were terrible. You gave me dirty looks of disgust -- said mean things to me at times about my appearance walked out on me and lied to me.

I remember one day my mom said "he actually thinks you can have a baby and not get fat."

I gained 10 to 15 lbs more that I should have with Sydney. Well that's by the book --Most women gain twice that. It's not like it was that much -- but you made me feel so ugly! I've battled 10 lbs up and down the scale since I was 15 -- It was no more extra weight than was normal for me to be up -- I believe my mom -- you thought a baby weighs 7 lbs and the woman should gain 7 lbs. I'd like to finally tell you that that's not the way it is -- And had you read those books I got you on pregnancy you may have known that.

Talk about feeling alone ....

In between Sydney and Justin you say my clothes bothered you -- that my shoes were on the floor that I bugged you -- Wow that's so terrible! Try I had a low self esteem because since we got married I felt like the paragraph above.

There was also that time before Justin and after few months Sydney, I felt really good about how I got back into shape and we made out. You beat the holy hell out of me & we lied at the X-ray lab and said I fell off a bike ... Remember!??

Great for my self esteem.

There are a number of other instances that I could talk about that made my marriage so wonderful ... like the televised Clipper game and going to (illegible) before the game & your 40th birthday party and the week leading up to it. But I don't like talking about the past It depressed me.

Then came the pregnancy with Justin and oh how wonderful you treated me again -- I remember swearing to God and myself that under no circumstances would I let you be in that delivery room.

I hated you so much.

And since Justin's birth & the mad New Years Eve beat up. I just don't see how our stories compare -- I was so bad because I wore sweats and left shoes around and didn't keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you liked it -- or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes.

I just don't see how that compares to infidelity, wife beating, verbal abuse --
I just don't think everybody goes through this --

And if I wanted to hurt you or had it in me to be anything like the person you are --I would have done so after the (illegible) incident. But I didn't even do it then. I called the cops to save my life whether you believe it or not. But I didn't pursue anything after that -- I didn't prosecute, I didn't call the press and I didn't make a big charade out of it. I waited for it to die down and asked for it to. But I've never loved you since or been the same.

It made me take a look at my life with you -- my wonderful life with the superstar that wonderful man, O.J. Simpson the father of my kids -- that husband of that terribly insecure (illegible) -- the girl with no self esteem (illegible) of worth --she must be (illegible) those things to with a guy like that.

It certainly doesn't take a strong person to be with a guy like that and certainly
no one would be envious of that life.

I agree after we married things changed -- we couldn't have house full of people like I used to have over and barbeque for, because I had other responsibilities. I didn't want to go to alot of events and I'd back down at the last minute on functions & trips I admit I'm sorry --

I just believe that a relationship is based on trust -- and the last time I trusted you was at our wedding ceremony. It's just so hard for me to trust you again. Even though you say you're a different guy. That O.J. Simpson guy brought me alot of pain heartache -- I tried so hard with him -- I wanted so to be a good wife. But he never gave me a chance.

Note: O.J. Simpson testified he never received this letter.
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Friday, August 25, 2006


Brenda Schaeffer

Real love is not addiction nor is addiction love. Yet, because of the human condition, these two experiences seem to come together and result in the incredible pain and suffering we are witness to or experience directly. We are drawn to the chemical highs love, sex and romance produce. The neurochemistry of love can become a drug as difficult to give up as alcohol or cocaine. Words we often associate with addiction include obsessive, excessive, destructive, compulsive, habitual, attached, and dependent. And when you think about it, some of these words are also used to talk about love. And the similarities do not stop there.

The love addict may understand intellectually that their behavior is self destructive, but physically and emotionally they are drawn into it over and over again. The number and variety of out of control behaviors when love is withdrawn are becoming legion in the daily news: “Young woman ends abusive love relationship and is brutally murdered.” “CEO charged with sexual harassment.” “Coach sued for child support by a former lover.” “Domestic abuse charges filed by wife of a professional sports star.” “Public official caught in scandalous affair.” How is it that we are simultaneously seeking wellness and love but descending into a well of violence and obsession?

What is love addiction?

Love addiction is any unhealthy attachment to people, euphoria, romance or sex in an attempt to get needs met. Psychologically, love addiction is a reliance on someone external to the self in an attempt to heal past trauma, get unmet needs fulfilled, avoid fear or emotional pain, solve problems, fill our loneliness and maintain balance. The paradox is that love addiction is an attempt to gain control of our lives, and in so doing; we go out of control by giving personal power to someone outside ourselves. Addictive love is an attempt to satisfy our developmental hunger for security, sensation, power, belonging, and meaning. Love addiction is very often associated with feelings of “never having enough” or “not being enough.” None of us got everything we needed in just the way we needed it in our developmental history. We literally walk around with holes in our psyche and look for others to fill those holes.

No matter how it plays out, we unconsciously look to others to “fix” our fear, pain, and discomfort and tolerate or inflict abusive behaviors in the process. We use and abuse. This other can be any important person in our life that we unconsciously hook up with: a child, a parent, a friend, a boss, a spouse, and a lover. Or, as in romance or sexual compulsion, it can be someone we don’t even know personally. In sex addiction it can be a pornographic image. It can be as mild as a codependent relationship or as lethal as a fatal attraction.

Why love addiction is so common.

At the base of love addiction is a violation of trust. We have all had them in some form or another. Because of the betrayal of trust we both want and yet fear closeness. Our fear is both biological and psychological and runs deep.

Since we are meant to be in relationship we have no choice but to figure out a way to be involved with others. Love addiction is the answer. It is quite clever and often gets passed off as the real thing. Sometimes you have to look very closely to notice the difference. But we really do know in our hearts and in our soul’s when we have been fooled, are fooling our self or just plain fooling around.

We do not become love addicts living in a vacuum. We live in a culture of image and ownership. We are measured by how good we look, how much we have, and if we have someone by our side that supports a good image. We have, sadly, been groomed to look outside ourselves for happiness and love. Our obsession with love pervades every aspect of popular culture from romance novels to rock and pop song lyrics, and even great works of fiction, poetry, drama and art. Our culture idealizes, dramatizes, and models a dependency that says we cannot live without another person, sex or romance. We become dependent almost unconsciously.

Culture and psychology are not the only things directing us towards love addiction. When it comes to love we are neuro-chemically vulnerable. Biology provides us naturally with the three sensations of pleasure--arousal, fantasy, and satiation--as a way to experience life to its maximum. These three planes are controlled by hundreds of brain chemicals that we are only at the beginning stages of understanding. Without these chemicals we would not have the ability to appreciate our own human nature and the earthly gifts. PEA, for example, is a neuro-chemical that produces arousal states; it keeps us alert and motivates us to action. Discomfort states--including pain--are also identified by the presence of neuro-chemicals, and help us identify our normal human needs so we seek satiation. Chemically controlled feelings of satiation then tell us we have had enough and--hopefully--we stop and experience a feeling of physical balance. Eating until we are full is a good example. Still other chemicals are necessary to a rich fantasy life. We luxuriate in a future of pleasing options. We revel in a piece of art and feel great passion as we write a song. The biochemistry of this self-induced trance states allow us to deeply experience a sunset or envision our beloved.

Contentment, creative passion, fear, and sexual excitation—each has a neurological analogue. Though these chemicals are meant to enhance our love life we can become dependent on these “feel good” chemicals and self medicate our ills with them.

Types of Love Addiction

In my clinical practice I have found it important to distinguish between three types of love addiction: love, romance and sexual.

Love Addiction

Love Addiction is nothing but a misguided dependency on others in an attempt to fulfill unmet developmental needs. We often choose people similar to those in the past who did not meet our needs hoping this time we will end up satisfied. But because they are similar or we view them as similar, we end up feeling dissatisfied once more. A key element in identifying dependent love is how we feel when the person disapproves of us, disagrees with us, moves away from us, or threatens us.

An escalation of behaviors occurs when the love object threatens to leave us psychologically or physically. Dependent love is always self-serving. It survives on psychological myths: “I will take care of your fears and inadequacies so you will take care of mine.” “If you fail me, I will do whatever it takes to keep you around.” “But since I do not know how to be intimate or fear intimacy, I will allow only so much closeness or push you away.”

On a psychological level love addiction makes perfect sense. Our attractions are psychological. If I believe men are never there when you need them most, I will find them. If I need a woman who won’t support me, I will find her. Dependent love addicts fear abandonment or betrayal. The most important thing is to be in a relationship or on the edge of a relationship. They often hang onto abusive relationships for fear of being alone. They may or may not have romantic or sexual feeling for the object of their attention and drama substitutes for intimacy.

Romance Addiction

Romance Addiction refers to those experiences when the object of love is also a romantic object. This object/person can be a romantic partner or live only in the love addict’s fantasies. The “fix” may be an elaborate fantasy life not unlike the story line of a romance novel, or the euphoria of a new romance. In either case, the rush of intoxicating feelings experienced during the attraction stage of a romance—a state sometimes referred to as limerance—is the drug that can become a substitute for real intimacy. The pursuit of this high can become an addiction in itself. Often, it becomes a dramatic obsession that results in the stalking of the romantic love object by the obsessed person. The love addict seeks total immersion in the romantic relationship, real or imagined. Since the romance-driven high is dependent on the newness of the relationship or the presence of a person, romance addiction is often filled with victim/persecutor melodrama and sadomasochism. Bizarre acting-out behaviors are often a by-product of romance addiction. When the euphoria of new love wanes, the romance addict often moves on looking for a new romantic encounter with its high or obsessions.

Sex Addiction

The power of sexual love is unequaled in human experience. In fact, sex may be the only experience that profoundly affects all three of the pleasure planes (arousal, satiation, and fantasy) in our neurochemistry. It has the potential to be the pièce de résistance among life experiences. It is easy to see, then, how sex can become an addict’s drug of choice.

Sexual addiction is a sickness involving any type of uncontrollable sexual activity that results in negative consequences. When obsessive-compulsive sexual behavior is left unattended, it causes distress and despair for the individual and his or her partner and family. Denial causes the sexual addict to distort reality, ignore the problem, blame others, and give numerous justifications for his or her out-of-control behavior. The addiction progresses until sex becomes the essential need, more important than family, work, or spiritual integrity.

We live in a culture that promotes sex as the drug of choice. Perhaps the mounting negative social consequences of sexual compulsion will motivate society to take this problem more seriously. The cost of this addiction to our society is more than financial. The fabric of our spiritual, emotional, and relational lives is affected as well.

Dependent love may or may not include a romantic or sexual component. When the object of love is, or has been, the romantic and sexual partner, the stakes run high. When a person’s object of dependent love is also the object of his or her romantic and sexual desires, he or she will experience intense behaviors when the object of love withdraws or threatens to withdraw.

Most, if not all relationships have elements of unhealthy dependency as well as healthy interdependency. The difficulty with love addiction, however, is that we cannot stop loving or relating! Nor should we! Therefore, we must learn what is love and what is addiction and build on the best aspects of our love life. Why get out of love addiction? The biggest reason is that it limits and stunts our growth as a human and spiritual being.

Seven steps to getting out of love addiction:

1. Believe that healthy love is possible.

2. Be willing to assess your love life honestly.

3. Accept that the only person you can change is you.

4. Connect the unhealthy aspects of your love life with your inner beliefs and past trauma.

5. Change your beliefs to those that encourage healthy love

6. Let go of fear.

7. Experience yourself as unconditional love and live it.

Post Script: if you need help…do yourself a favor and get it!

In summary, obsessive, dependent, erotic love often is a misplaced attempt to achieve that fusion we so deeply desire. We want to end the feelings of isolation caused by our learned restraints against true intimacy. Aroused by the experience of love, one often is willing to suspend those restraints in order to merge with another. If the merger is dependent and immature, the result is love addiction. Life energy is directed on the pursuit of gratification rather than growth. If mature, the love will grow and expand.

As Erich Fromm said, “This desire for interpersonal fusion is the most powerful striving in man. It is the most fundamental passion, it is the force which keeps the human race together . . .. Erotic love . . . is the craving for complete fusion. It is by its very nature exclusive and not universal.” Without agape, universal love of others, it remains narcissistic.

Sex, love and romance are delightful aspects of our humanity. Some of the most powerful experiences relate to the meaning and beauty of love, sex and romance. They can be a sacred form of connecting or they can be an egoist’s attempt at self-fulfillment.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Online Predator's Profile

-You know how people are forever telling you to go with your instinct? It's true; you should. If you think an online friend is lying to you, he (or she) most likely is.

-If he seems too good to be true, then obviously and most likely that is the situation. He may present himself as the perfect match to what you are looking for, only someone you wish you could be with. He could share similiarites, make you seem like you're his priority, and seem "perfect" in countless ways. Another precaution to take when you find yourself in a relationship with someone online.

-One who seems they could never betray you, seems trustworthy, and one who would never let you down, is one who is probably very likely to break your trust easily. In fact, the whole time, an online predator is continuously breaking your trust by ensuring you how "trustworthy" he may be, luring you into the fake comforts of the predator.

-In reality, the online predator is insecure, although he may not seem to be in his relationship with you. He can make you look up to him, giving himself a benefit of self-confidence.

-As an obvious point, he may tell you things and plans he has for you, that appears to be a perfect dream to you, but in all truth, he is planning something rather unhealthy or not exactly something you would feel comfort in, even though he makes you think that it is.

-He will lead you to believe that his reputation stands strong in his home area as a well human being. Making you think that he is safe, and well loved and known by many, and is respected by all who knows him, thus making you feel safer in continuing a relationship with him. In reality, the perpetrator, is generally exactly opposite of the person he leads you to believe he is, usually one without such honor, and lacking great reputation among his friends, family, etc.

-He will attack others and belittle many others, but with you as an exception. The person could guide you to believing your "current local boyfriend/spouse", friends, family etc. aren't good enough for you, and make you believe his thoughts as well, sometimes turning you away from those people. And by him denigrating others, he starts to become superior and a higher priority in your life, as he very well planned to.

-It is unlikely that the person has many long-term friends. Especially since the fact that he dedicates so much of his time to luring, tricking, and lying to you (and others). Which also proves that point that his reputation isn't as great as he claims it to be, leaving him with fewer friends. Most predators don't mind this however; many are accustomed to isolation.

-An online predator cleverly plans things, many times with every little detail mapped and sorted out, making sure he successfully gets you to believing his stories, and him, damaging you as well, for his own benefits and satisfaction, though you don't realize it.

-A predator knows his activites are something he needs to keep discreet, so his online activities are carefully hidden, not revealing what is he doing. He keeps himself a secret and you become part of that secret.

-The person appears to be charming, someone who any person would want to be in a relationship with. He could be the typical "Mr. Right" and fill in every blank that you have wanted in a partner. But obviously, him being "perfect" means he can lure and manipulate his victims with more ease, and getting them to stay because of his "charm".

-The predator makes careful selections in the choice of his victims- usually victims who appear to be in need of a self-esteem boost, certain weaknesses (lonely, divorced, disabled, abused), etc. and tried his best to comfort you in giving you the "confidence" you need. He scouts out these certain weaknesses from complaining about certain things to him, or straight out telling him. He can work in very smooth ways.

-Of course this person will seem to be amazing and a perfect match for you. They can change themselves to be exactly what you need, and want, thus making you long for them. Anything you like-they like, anything you need-they have, anything you want-they they can get. It may just seem like mere coincidences, and just make you believe this is the perfect partner for you, but remember, they already aren't being their true selves, so they can mold themselves into anything that will suit you perfectly, regardless of their truth.

-The person behind the computer may seem to have plenty of self discipline and control over any actions, but in reality, has a major lacking in self control and confidence. The only place they seem to find that control is in this relationship he has created with his victim. And that's a reason why he does so much to keep this relationship active and alive, because it's one of the few things he can take over with. It seems as if he is creating a "fake life" for himself, which is better than his life in reality. In his fake life, he can be anything great that he wants to be, and trick his victim into thinking he is superior and perfect, and forming a relationship with someone that he probably couldn't in reality, as his own self.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Potholes on the road to recovery

from Douglas Larsen,

One of the more common potholes on the way to emotional healing are the memories brought back by anniversaries of traumatic events. Even if you're not consciously tracking these anniversaries, your subconscious is.

A few basics
After a traumatic event of almost any kind, as you work to recover emotionally, anniversaries of the day of the trauma will take you by surprise. In the first year of healing, a feeling of pain or anxiety will usually strike at the 3 month, 6 month, and one-year anniversaries of the event. For some reason, a 9-month anniversary reaction is relatively rare.

After the first year, you will tend to have one-year anniversaries. Years Three and Four will be less intense, and you will start to feel that maybe the memory of the event is fading. But then, at the 5-year anniversary, you may have a more intense reaction.

Then, generally speaking, things calm down until the 10-year anniversary comes around.

What happens?
Basically, your subconscious keeps sort of a calendar/diary of bad things that have happened to you. At each year's anniversary, things are usually very similar to how they were when the trauma happened. The sun is in the same place in the sky, the weather is usually similar, your yearly activities are generally similar, the smells and sounds and foods you eat are similar to the time when the trauma occurred. Anniversaries during the Christmas holidays are expecially powerful, because the sights and sounds and smells and food are so unique to that part of the year. All of these inputs will trigger memories of the trauma.

You may not even be aware of the memories that are being triggered by these inputs. Most people just feel unusually sad, unusually anxious, or both. Anyone who has been battling depression or Post-Traumatic Stress will feel like they are sliding backwards as their depression takes on new strength. The feelings will vary according to the feelings you had when the trauma occurred. Some survivors don't feel sadness; they feel extreme anger. Some sexual assault survivors have extra trouble being around men, even men they trust implicitly. However you felt immediately during and after the trauma, your anniversary feeling will feel like the bitter dregs of that.

A personal example
I'll offer a personal example to illustrate this phenomenon. Recently, I went through a very painful anniversary process related to my battle with cancer. It took me completely by surprise, because it was the twentieth anniversary! My fifteenth anniversary had been unremarkable, although my tenth had been rough. But twenty years later? I was amazed.

Another twist was what the anniversary was about. It was not the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. It was the anniversary of my first chemotherapy session. Things are much better nowadays, but twenty years ago, chemotherapy deserved all of the fear and dread that its reputation held. The drugs would hit me like a brick tsunami, making me vomit continually, not letting me breathe, leaving me almost choking to death on my own vomit. It was unbelievably horrible, and I am still sort of surprised I survived. I remember one morning, my wife said we had to get going so we'd be at the hospital on time for the chemo, and I refused to go. "It's too horrible," I said. "I'd rather die." My wife had to drag me out of the house and stuff me into the car.

I did thank her for doing that (although not for awhile), but it wasn't until two years after I finished chemo that I decided that it had been worth it; that it had been better than dying.

Twenty years later
And then, twenty years later, there I was, feeling sad and anxious, worrying about death in general, jumping at unusual noises. I finally asked my wife if there was an anniversary, and she remembered the start of my chemo. As soon as she said it, I knew that was it. It felt exactly right; it was just that after twenty years, it all seemed like a bad dream I had once had.

The big anniversary numbers tend to be the most significant. I will probably have a similar experience on my twenty-fifth anniversary, but with our current understanding of psychology, most professionals figure I won't have a significant anniversary reaction again until my fiftieth. My thirtieth and fortieth anniversaries ought to be fairly mild.

How do you handle them?
The thing about these emotional reactions to anniversaries is, they don't come with a label. You just discover that you're feeling lousy, and if you've been charting your progress at all, you begin to feel pessimistic about your chances of eventual recovery -- "Geez, after this much time and this much therapy, I still feel this cruddy?" you will probably think.

It's hard to believe, but placing a name and label on your feelings will make an enormous difference. You're not regressing, you're not sinking into madness, your meds aren't suddenly losing their punch. You are simply remembering what it was like back then. And now that you have it labeled, you can attack the bad feelings with the logical part of your brain. Some of it will come naturally. As you realize that this is all about a past event, you will quickly note how different things are now. In this case, the bad feelings and painful emotions are pretty weak. They are easy to kill with proper logical attack, as you identify the "hot" feelings and attack them with "cool thoughts" as described in Dr. David Burns' excellent book, Feeling Good, which I wish everybody would buy.

Renewed Optimism
In my case, as soon as I had identified and labeled my lousy feelings, I had a considerable sense of relief. Within a day, I was able to kill off the hardier "memory feelings," and was feeling normal again. This was quite a victory. If I had not identified and labeled my bad feelings, I wouldn't have been able to isolate and attack them, and they would have stayed with me for quite some time, slowly fading away when the external cues finally changed. But that is a long, slow process, and you feel lousy for a long time.

You and I, we've already put in plenty of time feeling lousy, right? So try checking on anniversary dates the next time you feel really in the dumps. It might save you a lot of grief.

P.S.: And if you're not in therapy, go get into therapy!
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Suppose you had 10 months to make a new life for yourself and your kids.

That's about how long people fleeing domestic violence in New York City get if they're lucky: 90 days of emergency housing with a possible 35-day extension, then another 180 possible days of subsidized housing.

Not a lot of time.

Still, victims who make their way to the Center Against Domestic Violence find a wealth of services aimed at helping them reestablish themselves.

"The pressure is that there is such a short time," said CADV Executive Director Judith Kahan. "There are many services in this emergency period that a person might need."

Some 300 families — more than 650 women and children and at least two fathers with kids in tow — availed themselves of CADV services last year, said Rona Solomon, CADV's deputy director.

Most were in desperate need.

"People are coming in who have just been battered," Solomon said. "They're recovering from emotional injuries and physical injuries. The goal is to move them from being in a crisis to where they can go on with their lives."

CADV was founded in 1977 as the Center for the Elimination of Violence in the Family, a joint effort of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women, the Brooklyn YMCA and the New York City Mayor's Task Force on Rape. A year later, the center lobbied Albany legislators and became one of the first domestic programs in the country that allowed children to be housed with their parents and the first to provide day care within the shelter system.

CADV now operates three shelters in the city: Women's Survival Space and Women's Safe Start, both in Brooklyn, and Women's Second Start in Harlem.

Kahan is particularly proud of CADV's many training programs, including the Relationship Abuse Prevention Program, or RAPP, now operating in 20 public high schools across the city, which helps teens recognize the warning signs of domestic violence.

It also offers date violence prevention training for teens, and has a pilot program, Speak Your Peace, that teaches teens healthy relationship skills.

CADV also offers counseling for adult abuse victims, onsite legal services on divorce, custody, immigration and other issues and crime-victim advocacy.

The average abuse victim in the city is a minority woman, about 28 years old, from an economically disadvantaged household. But Kahan said domestic abuse also occurs in middle- and upper-class households, where women may be more reluctant to report it for fear of losing their lifestyles.

The New York City Domestic Violence hotline receives about 150,000 calls a year.

CADV and the abuse victims it counsels have been deeply affected by the city's housing crunch.

Not only have surging rents made affordable housing difficult to find, cutbacks in federal Section 8 funds and a formula that steadily decreases housing subsidies over time put added pressure on women to build new lives in a hurry.

"A lot of what we do in emergency shelters is help people get their lives together: their paperwork lives, their emotional lives and their physical well-being," Solomon said.

"We only have this tiny timespan where we can load in a lot of things to help people move away from being victims to becoming survivors," she added.

You can reach CADV at its 24-hour, multilingual hotline at (718) 439-1000.
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Sunday, August 13, 2006


What About Low Sexual Desire?
Sometimes referred to as "hypoactive" sexual desire, this problem occurs in men who experience a diminished libido or sex drive. In these cases, the problem is not in becoming physiologically aroused. Rather, it is a lack of desire for sexual relations. Men with low sexual desire miss out on the enjoyment of sexual relations. Their partners also suffer from not feeling intimately connected with them. As with erectile dysfunction, the causes of low sexual desire can be mostly psychological, mostly medical, or both. Depression, anxiety, marital conflict, stress, a recent loss, unresolved bereavement, trauma, a history of sexual abuse, and certain personality traits are common psychological causes of low sexual desire. Medical factors can include aging, hormonal imbalances, medications, neurological disease, chronic pain syndromes, and many serious illnesses. Low sexual desire is best treated by an experienced psychologist and a physician.

What About Sexual Addiction?
Compulsive sexual behavior describes men who cannot control their sexual behavior. Sexual addiction may involve having an excessive need to have sex with one partner; or, it may involve excessive sex with multiple partners for which there is no emotional connection and no real satisfaction. Sexual "acting out" can cause the addict, his victim, and his partners serious psychological and physical harm. Engaging in high risk sexual behavior dramatically increases the chances of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease. Sexual addiction almost always involves severe marital strain and can also result in serious legal, financial, occupational, and social problems.

The causes of sexual addiction are often rooted in emotional problems coexisting with a personality disorder (narcissism/ psychopathy) and are best treated through a variety of psychological therapies: cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, and psychoeducational strategies. Marital and family therapy are often indicated, as well as long-term involvement in a 12-Step support group. Medications can also help control inappropriate sexual impulses, especially when the impulses are related to problems of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and attention-deficit disorders.

What About Sexual Anxiety?
Many people are plagued by fears of sexual intimacy and deprive themselves of enormous physical and emotional pleasure. Adult sexual anxiety may result from childhood sexual abuse, lack of sexual education, religious teachings, parental attitudes towards sex, a history of dissatisfying sexual relationships, emotional conflicts regarding "normal" sexual behavior, shyness, or an "anxious personality." Sexual anxiety is best treated with various psychological and behavioral therapies.

What About Paraphilias?
These are a variety of disorders involving sexual arousal to "unusual" stimuli or from a nonconsenting person. Paraphilias include: pedophilia (attraction to children), exhibitionism (arousal by exposing oneself in public), voyeurism (arousal by watching others engage in sexual activitiy), froteurism (a desire and compulsion to "touch" others while in a public place", fetishism (arousal only to certain objects or to selected body parts), sadism (arousal by inflicting real or imagined pain inflicted on another person), or masochism (arousal by having real or imagined pain inflicted on oneself). Normal men and women may be aroused by a wide range of stimuli. They consent freely and respectfully to engage in these experiences. However, people with paraphilias are often aroused only by one stimulus; or, by violating the rights of another person(e.g., children or nonconsenting adults).

What About Sexual Abuse?
Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse (especially during childhood or adolescence) often results in adult sexual disorders: sexual anxiety, problems with intimacy, low sexual desire, sexual arousal problems, orgasmic dysfunction, depression, and low self-esteem. These problems are best treated with psychological, psychiatric, and medical interventions.
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

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He'll meet you and sweep you off your feet;
He's nice and he's funny, so cute and so sweet.
Surprisingly he likes the same things as you;
He does all the things that you love to do.

He's the perfect guy, the one of your dreams;
You belong together or so it seems.
He looks in your eyes and plays with your hair;
He tells that he'll always be there.

His touch is so soft, his hold is so tight;
His words are so soothing his kiss is just right.
You ditch all you friends for your new obsession;
You don't realize your future is full of depression.

You think that you love him, you give him your heart;
little do you know that he'll tear it apart.
You do what he wants you know its not good;
You told him "slow down" you thought he understood.

You let it slide by he's just having fun;
You'll learn to like it as time goes by.
He's taken your heart and locked it away;
And you see him with a different girl the next day.

You cry and you grieve, but then you forgive;
He'll never do it again as long as he lives.
At this point you've fallen into his trap;
He has all control when you're in his lap.

You believe he's sorry you're together again;
You give him another chance, he's your best friend.
You're right where he wants you, he molds you like clay;
And you see him with girl number three the next day.

He got what he wanted, accomplished his goal;
He still has your heart, which he evilly stole.
He's taken your purity, you still can't believe;
You feel so hurt and cheap and extremely naive.

You know he's an ass but you still want him back;
And you grieve about all the qualities you lack.
All you wanted was to have some fun;
Now you wish this whole thing had never begun.

You wish one day you'll see him cry;
That one day he'll feel what you felt when he killed you inside;
But you know that he won't he's to numb to pain;
He'll be with some girl while you cry and complain.

Beware the player's they'll steall your heart;
And they'll give it back once its all torn apart.
Don't let them suck you into they're game;
Cause once you lose you're never the same.
(BY: Becky)
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Monday, August 07, 2006


What is the Sex Industry?
The sex industry involves a wide range of activities including: prostitution, phone sex, stripping, pornography, mistressing, madaming, being a "provider," pimping, and all other forms of commercial sex work. This might include performing on live internet sex sites or placing an ad in the “Alternative” section of a newspaper and advertising for a "benefactor," "hobbyist," "monger" or "sugar daddy."

It is easy to be in denial about our addiction, when our culture, on the surface, appears to validate our involvement. For example, if you are a stripper, it might seem as if you receive a lot of attention and money for your performances. And yet how many times, while practicing “our art” were we verbally, or even physically harassed? How many times did customers cross that line and make us feel we deserved it because after all, we were strippers?

Or, perhaps we tell ourselves we aren’t really in the sex industry at all. If we are “performers” who are paid to have sex in front of web-cameras, we may tell ourselves, “at least I’m not on the streets.” Or: “I’m only doing this until I get my first big acting role.”

The method by which our sexuality is conveyed does not change the fact that we are indeed involved with the sex industry. The sex industry is the sex industry, whether it is played out behind closed doors as an exclusive call girl, while being filmed as an internet sex site performer, or during a stage performance as an exotic dancer.

We find that focusing on our differences keeps us stuck in our addiction. We are any man or woman, of any race, religion or sexual persuasion who accepts money or goods, for sex, or sex related activity. We all have different pasts, different kinds of clients, and different prices.

We wish to de-glamorize the sex industry. There is nothing glamorous about winding up stuffed in a dumpster, raped, dehumanized, and treated like a piece of meat.

The Sex Industry violates basic human rights
We believe that it doesn’t matter how long you did it, how you earned it, how much you got paid, or how long you have been out of it. We believe that the sex industry violates basic human rights: the right to be treated with dignity and respect. We do not believe it is a victimless crime. Everyone loses, both the prostituted individual, and the perpetrator.

How can I define Sobriety?
When we use sex, in any form, in exchange for material or monetary gain, we release our addiction all over again.

Therefore, the date in which there is an absence of sex related earnings is the beginning of your sobriety. When we accept money or goods through only legitimate means, we will begin to be free from our addiction. The only way to keep from returning to active addiction is not to take that first transaction. Our sexuality is no longer for sale.

Today, we know that are bodies are sacred, and we respect who we are by placing a protective boundary around our sexual selves. Together, we will examine our beliefs, deal with our issues, and become empowered to be the person our higher power intended us to be.

We no longer feel the need to attain a sense of power through our sexuality. Instead, we are busy rebuilding our sense of self, discovering our true talents, and perhaps retraining ourselves so that we are fully contributing members of society. We are worthy, recovering sex industry survivors.

We understand that as we begin to tell our stories to other recovering sex industry survivors, we heal ourselves and each other.

Sex Work Linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Rather than criminalizing prostitution, we wish to dismantle the causes that lead to this addiction, such as childhood sexual exploitation, post-traumatic stress disorder, and our society's glamorous portrayal of sex work.

We will try anything to not have to address the shattering of our core personal identity. Joining together as survivors, we finally find a place where we can openly admit all our shameful secret.

Even if you have been out of the sex industry for many years there is an aftermath, a scar, or what countless studies are now calling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can lead us to continue to act out, and to abuse substances (drugs, alcohol, toxic relationships, ect).

About the Aftereffects
There are aftereffects associated with being in the sex industry.

The sex industry brands the psyche of the person with its stigma. Prostitution is a form of sexual violence, a severe form of sexual abuse. Many of the same aftereffects of sexual abuse survivors apply to sex industry survivors.

Joe Parker, of the Lola Baldwin Foundation, states that “Prostitution becomes an irrevocable identity, one that is very difficult to discard.” And so together, we work to help you discover your true authentic self.

Together, we will work to uncover, discover and discard the faulty sense of self that is the cause and the source of our symptoms.

There are a constellation of symptoms associated with participation in this world.
· Sexual dysfunction or avoidance of sex

· Feeling like you’ve turned a trick without getting paid

· Disassociation (feeling split off from your feelings)

· Sexual overdrive and promiscuity

· Drug abuse and or alcoholism

Other things don’t go away simply because we stop involving ourselves with the industry. Some of these symptoms or problem areas might include:

· Depression

· Nightmares

· Anxiety attacks

· Sleep disorders

· Flashbacks

· Phobias; compulsions

· Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sexual Challenges
Sexual dysfunction is a very common trait in sex industry survivors. We call it The Split.” This is a complete sexual shut down or disassociation between the body and the mind during sex. Others also describe this as turning a trick without getting paid.

Other members describe a feeling that any sexual encounter is really an act. We are unable to experience what we have heard is called: “Lovemaking.” It isn’t “lovemaking” to us. It is an experience, an act, a fantasy, where we stand outside of the experience viewing our performances. We feel split off from our sexual experiences. This is “The Split,” or a sense of being disassociated.

Why Does it Hurt to Love You?
Yet another common symptom or characteristic of sex industry survivors is the tendency towards addictive and abusive romantic relationships. It is almost as if at some level we feel we deserve the abuse. Caught in a vicious cycle, we rescue alcoholics and/or addicts. This gives us a temporary feeling of importance. Because we are just as powerless over another’s addictions as our own, we cross an invisible line and lose control. We ignore the warnings signs that were usually there, those big bold letters marked: “TOXIC.”

* Domestic violence

* Verbal abuse

* Emotional/Psychological Abuse

* Codependency

* Caretaking

The most graphic example of this type of relationship is the pimp/whore relationship. Traditionally, the pimp operates by undermining the prostitute’s self esteem so that, over time, she begins to believe that she really is worthless, and powerless without his “protection.”

Yet many survivors never associate with official pimps. But if we look at our history, we may find an individual who had many of the characteristics.

Behaviors we might expect from this type of personality include:

· Attacking our (current/or previous) lifestyle and then financially profiting from it

· Abusive to our sense of integrity

· Attempting to control our activities

· Forcing us to engage in sexual activities that are no longer appropriate for who we are today.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder—a set of emotional problems that occur after someone has experienced a terrible, stressful life event. Another way to think about PTSD is “after trauma anxiety reaction.”

Sex industry survivors often suffer from PTSD that they first experienced in their childhood, coupled with the stress of being involved with sex work. The founder of our program began to experience severe PTSD after she had been out of the industry for over a decade. “I believe the stress disorder was brought on because of the abusive marriage I got into,” she said. “After he found out I had been a prostitute he would say things like: once a whore always a whore. I felt emotionally flattened on a daily basis. Because I didn’t have anyone to discuss my past with, I started acting out and being promiscuous.”

If we have not dealt with the issues surrounding our involvement in the industry, we will inevitably re-create the pain and drama that is familiar to us. Long buried pain and fears become triggered, and we experience the stress now, that we were unable to experience then.

As our founder’s experience shows us, we are then at a high-risk to either relapse completely, or act out our addiction in seemingly innocent ways that eventually might catch up with us. These might include: sexual compulsivity, or finding ways to get others to pay for things we are capable of paying for ourselves. In other words, we set up a form of an exchange. We barter our sexual energy for some type of material compensation. While all this is going on, we may not even think of it as a relapse. That is why we need to stay in the meetings. The meetings will keep us out of denial.

Recovery Is the Way Out
Whether we were a stripper, a phone sex operator, a porn actor, a live website performer, a street prostitute or an exclusive call girl, we have found that our experience of addiction gives us a common bond. We are addicted to that first transaction, and once we take that first transaction, we lose control over where the disease will take us.

For some, the outcomes are jails, institution, or death. There is an extremely high mortality rate for those of us with multiple addictions. And even if we get out, if we do not address the shame, the pain, and the hurt that come from turning our sexuality into a product for sale, we will continue to feel a sense of disgrace.

Recovery helps us come out of the closet, and tell the secrets that we thought we would take to the grave with us. We discover that we are only as sick as our secrets. We find, through listening to those who have shared our addiction, that often incest, cultural expectations, and a shattered self esteem created a belief that the sex industry was our only way to survive.

We draw strength from a dynamic spiritual truth that is at the core of our twelfth step: one sex industry survivor helping another. We find that the therapeutic value of one sex industry survivor helping another is without parallel.

For information on getting a group started in your community, call 888-702-7273.

If you know anyone who may wish to meet and talk with other survivors, please give them this flyer. They may be still involved, but have a desire to quit. Others dealing with other survivor issues (incest) are welcome.

There are online discussion groups. A recovery textbook is in the making, as well as other pieces of literature.


Today I place appropriate boundaries around my sexuality. My body is a sacred temple, an expression of my divinity. I choose the sacred path. I choose to experience my sexuality within the context of a loving, nurturing relationship. I hold myself in high regard, and the choices I make around my sexual expression reflect this. I have the right to say no.

I have the right to grieve the painful memories and recognize how these experiences led me to certain beliefs. I uncover, discover, and discard the beliefs about my sexuality that no longer serve me.

I have the right to disregard cultural and religious messages that do not serve me. If I need a time of abstinence or celibacy, I honor my need to do this. I have the right to explore my sexuality so I am empowered by my choices. I let go of the need to be a victim. I honor my emotions, and I recognize that pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth.

As I work to go through my emotions, instead of around them, I discover a new peace of mind. Every day I am growing stronger. I take the hand of another survivor and together we will build a bridge to a healthier tomorrow.
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Saturday, August 05, 2006

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