Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Blog Of The Day Awards Winner

shared by Barbara at 6:20 PM 0 comments


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


"I really believe that the symptoms of PTSD are a normal response to outrageous experiences. And that our minds and emotions are healthy. So when symptoms come back again, they are the result of your mind trying to get even healthier."
shared by Barbara at 8:47 AM 0 comments


Monday, January 29, 2007

What to do when taking care of yourself seems selfish.

When we have been abused sometimes when we put our foot down and finally start taking care of ourselves and our safety it looks selfish to others and to ourselves. The first thing to remember is that taking care of yourself IS NEVER SELFISH. If in our daily lives we encounter someone who makes us uncomfortable we have a right to remove ourselves from that situation with no regrets and no apologies. If others see that as rude or a threat somehow, that's their problem ultimately.

Taking that first, second or five hundredth step towards taking care of ourselves is probably, for some, the scariest thing to contemplate. We have been trained all our lives to not stand up, that we can't take care of ourselves, that we are basically worthless human beings. AND FOR MOST OF OUR LIVES WE HAVE BELIEVED THAT WITH EVERY FIBER OF OUR BEING. It's hard to untrain that. It's, at times, impossible to believe that we can be of any use to anyone.

Ok now the flip side, we of the abused, can be pretty fucking bitchy sometimes!!!! And while it's never ok to be abusive, I think it can be agreed that when taking into account the deep trauma we have lived through, some bitchiness is understandable. Also some perhaps overly defensive reactions can come up. (It's taken a long time for us to realize, "OH YEAH I HAVE A RIGHT TO DEFEND MYSELF") Then we get over sensitive and go overboard in defending ourselves. The pendulum needs time to swing to the middle. For some of us this takes longer than for others. IT'S A MATTER OF TRUST. In many ways, for those of us who were abused as children, we have to grow up all over again in a more healthy fashion. We have to learn to trust others, no easy task when 95% of the people we've encountered in our lives have betrayed us in one way or another. Plus, when we were children, we were violated in the worst ways. And we were not allowed through fear of further torment to defend ourselves. WE ARE LEARNING TO DEFEND OURSELVES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OUR LIVES AND IT AIN'T EASY!!!

One final thought, I hope this comes out right!!! Please try not to ridicule or chastise when someone is just trying to keep safe. There is no right way to do this healing thing and we all come up with strategies to deal with stuff. Sometimes what we come up with when we don't know what else to do or have tried everything our strategies may seem trite, but at that point in our healing it's all we can do.

by my dear friend, Nancy
shared by Barbara at 7:58 AM 0 comments


Saturday, January 27, 2007


V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.

Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups within their own communities. In 2006, over 2700 V-Day benefit events are taking place by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls.



V-Day 2007 benefits of "The Vagina Monologues" will take place between February 1 and March 8, 2007.

To check for an event in your area,
click here.
shared by Barbara at 2:53 AM 0 comments


Wednesday, January 24, 2007


While in college and throughout your life, everyone is engaged in various relationships, both platonically and intimately. Not all relationships are unhealthy, however, many people are involved in unhealthy relationships. We encourage you to review the information on this page and download a copy of our healthy relationships continuum to see where your relationships are!

Relationship violence is…
A pattern of physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abusive behaviors used by one individual to assert power or maintain control over another in the context of an intimate or family relationship.

Often on a continuum and rarely occur as isolated incidents.

Behavior ranging from verbal threats, put-downs, and name calling to hitting, slapping, pushing, and sexual abuse.

Typically planned and repeated as part of a pattern to control the relationship.

Against the law.

A violation of an individual's body.

It affects everyone including the victim, their family and friends.

Types of abuse
This following list includes types of abuse that may be present in violent relationships. These behaviors may be present at different points during the relationship, to varying degrees, or not at all.

Emotional abuse: Includes actions by a partner that systematically destroy a person's sense of self-esteem and self- worth. Emotional abuse includes jealous behavior, ignoring feelings, belittling values, restricting social activities with others, and withholding love, approval, and affection.

Verbal abuse: Using words to injure another person. This includes name calling, insults, threats of physical and/or sexual violence, threats of self-harm and/or suicide, humiliation, intimidation, and exaggerated criticism for mistakes.

Sexual abuse: Includes any forcible sexual activity that occurs without consent. This can range from unwanted touching to forcible penetration. Sexual abuse also includes verbal criticism of one's body.

Physical abuse: Includes any behavior that causes or threatens bodily harm. Some examples are hitting, slapping, grabbing, breaking things, or threatening to do any of the above.

Cycle of abuse in relationships
Abuse in relationships can follow a cyclical pattern. There are times when abusive behavior happens only once, but unfortunately this is not the case in most abusive relationships. Violent behavior typically repeats throughout the cycle. Keep in mind that not all of the victim/abuser behaviors listed below always occur, they are just some examples of commonly reported reactions.

Stage 1: Tension building: The abuser becomes edgy and starts to react more negatively to frustrations. The tension rises to a point where the abuser feels that he/she has lost control over the behavior/actions of the victim.

Abuser reactions: moody; withdraws affection; criticizes and puts victim down; threatens; yells.

Victim reactions: attempts to calm abuser; nurtures; withdraws from daily activities; feelings of walking on eggshells.

Stage 2: Acute explosion: This is the shortest of the stages because violence most always occurs at this point. The abuser's anger is out of control. The victim becomes more emotionally detached because becoming emotional with the abuser is more likely to trigger violence. It typically ends after a violent outburst by the abuser.

Abuser reactions: physical violence like hitting, choking, slapping; sexual violence ranging from unwanted touching to forcible rape; emotional violence like humiliation, yelling, name calling, badgering; use of weapons.

Victim reactions: attempts to protect self; calling police, family, or friends; tries to calm abuser; tries to reason with abuser; fights back; withdraws.

Stage 3: Honeymoon: This is typically a welcomed stage by both the abuser and the victim. The abuser expresses remorse for his/her actions and the victim starts to believe that the abuser can change and stop being abusive. This stage continues until the abuser begins to feel confident again and starts to feel a loss of control over the victim's behavior. This stage has shown to decrease in length over time and has been shown to in some cases, disappear totally.

Abuser reactions: promises to get help; asks for forgiveness; gets gifts for victim; promises love and devotion.

Victim reactions: agrees to stay; sets up counseling; feels happy and hopeful.

*This information is adapted from Walker, L. (1980) The Battered Woman and a brochure titled "Dating Violence" from Sexual Assault Services and Crime Victim Assistance, Rutgers University.

Characteristics of abusive vs. health relationships
Abusive relationships are based on power and control while Healthy relationships are based on respect.

Emotional abuse (abusive relationship)
Putting another person down; using mind games; humiliating partner; using guilt; constant criticism.

Fairness & negotiation (healthy relationship)
Seeking mutually satisfying resolutions to conflict; using compromise.

Isolation (abusive relationship)

Controlling what your partner does, where she/he goes, how she/he dresses, who she/she sees and talks to.

Non-threatening behavior (healthy relationship)

Acting in a way that makes partner feel safe and secure.

Intimidation (abusive relationship)

Using looks, actions, and gestures that instill fear; destroying partner's property.

Respect listening (healthy relationship)

non-judgmentally; being emotionally understanding and affirming.

Making threats (abusive relationship)

Making or carrying out threats of individual harm to self, partner, or children; threatening to leave partner; threatening suicide.

Honesty and accountability (healthy relationship)

Accepting responsibility for one's actions; admitting wrong; communicating openly and honestly.

Using "power over" (abusive relationship)

Treating partner like a servant; making all decisions without consulting partner's wishes.

Shared responsibility (healthy relationship)

Mutually agreeing on a fair distribution of work; making joint decisions.

Sexual abuse (abusive relationship)

Making the partner be sexual in ways the partner does not want; treating as a sex object; forcing sex.

Trust and support (healthy relationship)

Supporting partner's goals; respecting the partner's rights to feelings, opinions, and activities.

Economic abuse (abusive relationship)

Trying to keep partner from becoming/remaining financially independent.

Economic partnership (healthy relationship)

Making financial decisions together and making sure both benefit from the financial arrangement.

Using children (abusive relationship)

Making partner feel guilty about children; using children to relay messages.

Responsible parenting (healthy relationship)

Sharing parenting responsibilities; being a positive non-abusive role model.

(Adapted from "Is your relationship heading into dangerous territory?" brochure from the University of Texas at Austin (2001). (
shared by Barbara at 5:06 AM 0 comments


Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Our thanks to "H" for this find!
shared by Barbara at 10:00 AM 0 comments


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Discovering Pornography or Infidelity

A Letter to Injured Spouses
by Joann Condie, RN, MS, LPC

Discovering infidelity
Let’s begin by stating the obvious: Anything with this title is extremely difficult to pick up and read if you have been hurt by a spouse’s sexual betrayal. Your emotions can leave you feeling shipwrecked or lost at sea, with wave after wave of tears drowning your soul. Or, you may be without tears, one minute strangely numb and the next filled with indescribable rage.

Either way, it may seem as if you are going crazy. You’re not. You may feel completely abandoned. You’re not. You may feel as if God himself has left and no one could possibly understand or help. Again, this is not the case.

Your profound sense of betrayal and excruciating pain is normal and natural, considering a grenade has been thrown into the most precious relationship in your life. You will be able to regain your balance and start moving forward; eventually you will be able to hold your head high and look forward to another new day.

The purpose of this article is to provide specific suggestions and guidelines, and to offer hope and help to get through this day and the days to come. You may wonder how anyone could offer hope at a time like this. You may also wonder why you should consider my suggestions. Let me reveal a little about myself.

I am not a woman who has lived a victorious Christian life, floating above the clouds. I am your fellow sister who has also been wounded. I have been wounded by my own sins and by the sins of others. Truly, all sin is damaging, regardless of the source.

In fact, all of us might be considered “walking-wounded” in one aspect or another. Some of us have scars that are visible and obvious, while others have wounds that have been kept hidden, wounds that have not yet begun to heal. However, we can do more than be healed; we can become “wounded healers” for others. Many years ago, I offered a personal prayer: “God, don’t waste my pain.” In this, and in so many other ways, He has proven faithful.

Although I do not know the specific details of your story, I have counseled many men and women over the years that have walked in your shoes. Regardless of where you might be at this moment, if you are willing, you can begin moving forward, step by step. We can take this walk together. I suggest we ask God to join us, because no one is more qualified or more capable to bring healing than the One who created you, your spouse, and your marriage.

Preparing for the journey
Surviving infidelity or sex addiction can seem like trying to maneuver a convoluted path up a steep mountain in the middle of the night. If that isn’t treacherous enough, numerous land mines lie hidden just beneath the topsoil. It is a frightening experience; it’s difficult to know where to put down your next foot. However, using a trusted road map and a trusted guide reduces your chance of greater harm to yourself and your family.

Knowing how to manage your immediate crisis will be easier if you analyze your life map and recollect your past relationship responses. For example, when past relationships hit a difficult snag did you tend to retreat into self-blame or were you more likely to lash out and criticize others? Were you able to assertively address conflict or did you choose to fight unfairly? Has it been easier for you to remain wounded and end a friendship than resolve the differences? Were you able to objectively assess what was occurring in your past relationships (or current marriage) or did you miss the red flags?

Understanding your past behavior will provide keys to how you are responding to your marital crisis today. Recalling your actions might be relatively easy for you or it may require considerable concentration, but the task is worth the effort. Here are four examples of how some spouses respond to infidelity:

(1) Curious Bystander
If you are a Curious Bystander, you have had many anxious days and nights. You can’t understand why the knot in your stomach doesn’t go away even after hearing your spouse’s words (which were meant to reassure you, but didn’t). For example, your husband may have chided you for mentioning the numerous porn sights you keep finding on the computer. Perhaps, when confronted, your wife minimized evidence of a chat room romance.

Confronted with the incriminating data, your spouse might have given multiple explanations. These excuses may have seemed reasonable, but did not convince your heart that all was well. Your gnawing questions never seemed to be fully answered by you or your spouse. Eventually, you wore down emotionally and entered a downward spiral of self doubt. Sadly, through this process, you began ignoring your God-given discernment.

Curious Bystanders have great difficulty assertively confronting others. They generally waver, convinced that nice people don’t stir up trouble (they want peace at any price), and they fully believe “it will all go away if it’s ignored.”

(2) Previous Victim
Victimization occurs in the form of sexual, emotional, physical, or spiritual (a) abuse and/or (b) neglect. Some people have been treated as objects to be used. This might have occurred in childhood with sexual molestation or in adulthood through sexual harassment or rape. Sexual abuse creates horrendous life-long damage to victims, especially if they have not received adequate counseling to heal the wounds. From my experience with treating adult survivors, I find that young boys can be more seriously injured psychologically than their female counterparts. And, unfortunately, men are less likely than women to get the help they need.

Others have been treated as objects to be ignored. Perhaps, because you were female, your brothers received more attention or privilege, or your male coworkers automatically received promotions and bonuses you didn’t get. Consequently, you don’t trust men in general. Or you might be a male with a father who was never available to play catch, shoot hoops, or watch your little league game, and your mom was smothering and over-involved in your life. You may not fully trust members of the opposite sex.

Victims of abuse or neglect receive a “double whammy” when their spouses cheat on them. If the original damage in their lives is not addressed, they will be ill-equipped for developing healthy relationships; after discovering their spouse's infidelity, they are ill-equipped for dealing with the fallout.

(3) Love-blind Survivor
Do affirmation, love, and respect seem to escape you? Do you have a past history of rocky relationships with unhappy endings, only to find yourself now in a rocky marriage tainted by infidelity? If this is the case, you may be able to identify with the people who were treated as objects to be used or ignored.

You may, however, be saying just the opposite. “I had a perfect childhood with a loving caring family.” You might admit, however, that your life seems performance-driven, with a high priority placed on a polished image. Your marriage may have been described as “perfect,” leaving you completely shocked at what you discovered. Yet, infidelity revealed an intimacy disorder not much different from those with the visibly troubled marriage. How can that be true?

In both cases, the skills for developing an authentic, intimate relationship with your spouse were lacking. The desperate desire to fill the God-shaped void within you cannot be satisfied with people or performance. (This topic is addressed more fully in Intimacy and Basic Trust.)

(4) Spiritual Barometer
You may be a person with a history full of faith, or of no faith at all. Either way, I would guess that you are experiencing some form of spiritual distress right now. For example, if you have never considered yourself a Christian, you may be recognizing for the first time how much you actually need God in your life. Or, as a Christian already, the devastation of infidelity may have caused you to reassess what you truly believe about God. Since the betrayal came from the person you loved and trusted the most, your pain can lead you to wonder if God also betrayed you. You may have asked (audibly or within the secret recesses of the heart): “What kind of God would allow such a terrible thing to happen?”

If you are wondering about your relationship with God or about God’s relationship with you, don’t feel alone; many others in your situation have felt this way. I highly recommend reading Dr. James Dobson’s book, When God Doesn’t Make Sense. This comprehensive book addresses the tough questions asked for centuries, including some asked by King David, who wondered why the wicked could mock God and get away with it.2 Let Dr. Dobson’s book point you back to an accurate view of God and provide encouragement and comfort to your soul.

If you have gained some insight and understanding about your past response patterns, we are ready to go to the next stage of recovery.

Joann Condie is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor and Registered Nurse who counsels individuals, couples, and families on a number of issues, including sexual addiction, sexual dysfunction and chronic pain. In addition to training professional counselors, physicians, and church leaders, Joann works part-time at Focus on the Family and maintains a private practice in Colorado Springs, CO.

1 For the purposes of this article, infidelity is defined as any sexual violation of the wedding vows. This could include pornography use, affairs, sexual chat room discussions, and other similar betrayals. We recognize that among Christians there is dispute about what is considered infidelity for the purposes of granting a biblical divorce. The author’s intention is not to settle that theological dispute, but to address any circumstance in which a spouse feels sexually betrayed. Apart from the theological implications, the pain, confusion, and anger are similar for all these situations. This article only intends to help a spouse move forward in a healthy, biblical manner.

2 Psalm 10.
shared by Barbara at 2:30 AM 0 comments