October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Does It End October 31?

My first question was, why not everyday? Several women (angrily) asked me that same question when I posted or re-blogged articles related to domestic violence, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse. Well, I told them that I wondered that too, and that I didn’t name the dedication, I was just trying to honor the victims and the survivors because I come from that country and I am fluent in that language.
The question I have asked myself repeatedly this month is this: What does national awareness do for the victims? Does it change the abuser’s mind? Does he (or she) say, “Damn it! I’m not going to swear and scream at you until National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, you lucky bitch!”
Does he pay the bills, buy some food, keep his hands off his daughter because it’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Will the family have a month of peace? Will her neighbor buy ice for her black eye?
The abusers and the victims are all too aware of what domestic violence is and the people who don’t acknowledge it all year long because it’s easier to look away, well they don’t give a flying fig that this month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month either.
The women who go to shelters expecting to find a way out, expecting someone to teach them how to stand on their own two feet, hoping for training so that they can get a job that will support them and their kids in the future, what do they think about National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
How about asking the ones who returned home because the shelter was lacking in anything but a whole new set of rules, a bed and some used clothes.
The shelters where women in my family have gone provided a time out, nothing more. If you run a shelter that provides therapy, job training, education, legal representation and daycare, I apologize and I’d also like your hot line phone number.
I will post articles about abuse in October anyway, hoping that even one woman might find the courage to grab her babies and run for safety.
I have read the survivor’s stories and I have read the  “he killed her” stories.
I have a “he killed her” story. I had a cousin who was murdered in front of her young son, while living in a shelter.
I cry and I hold every victim’s and every survivor’s story that I have ever read or witnessed in my heart. Including my own.
Victims and abusers, survivors and inflictors, well, to them every month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. They just don’t talk about it.
So as this official National Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins, I feel helpless. I have no answers, no help for the millions who will go to bed hungry, crying and/or bruised tonight. For those who will sleep in their cars because it is safer than their home or because they have no home and friends and family are sick of helping them only to see them go back to the abuser.
I have tears, but Lord knows, they already have enough tears of their own.
Maybe we could make everyday Domestic Violence Awareness Day.

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Cry until you laugh…Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie
A No Help At All Handbook

Sometimes At Night…


The scars of abuse, any abuse, are permanent. Like a tattoo, they may fade with time, but they will always be there, just under your skin.


Sometimes as I drift off to sleep, my mind wanders back in time and I’m a little child again. The last conscious thought I discern is my voice calling, “Mom? Mom?” She doesn’t answer now, just as she didn’t answer back then.

In reality, I’m fifty-five years old, but as I fall asleep I lose track of time and I feel eight or nine. Terrified. Alone. A jolt of fear runs through my veins and I struggle to pull back from the drifting darkness of sleep where I’m trapped, helpless and afraid.

Losing the battle, I fall off the edge of awareness, tumbling through sleep’s doorway. The faces I see are familiar, but I fight the memories. I can’t bear to see what my subconscious wants to show me and the little girl inside of me is so afraid. I run from the illusion, crying, sobbing my heart out.

It seems to last forever, but as I open my eyes, I see the fluorescent numbers on my alarm clock. It’s been less than an hour since I fell asleep. I sit up in my bed, shaking, still afraid. My husband lies sleeping beside me, but I don’t wake him. Many nights, I have screamed until my commotion has awakened me and he has slept on, unaware. I don’t know how. I’d awaken him if he could comfort me, but he can’t.

Going out to the living room, wrapped in his bathrobe, I get my Marlboros, and make a pot of coffee. Then, I sit in the dark; my eyes squeezed shut, trying to stop the tears from leaking down my face. The aching for my mother is so strong that I actually pick up the phone to call her. Hesitating, I don’t dial the number. Holding the receiver in my hand, reality comes back and I hang up the phone.

My mother can’t bear my pain because she carries enough of her own. I don’t hold it against her; but, I’m so alone. All I want is for my mother to help me to feel safe. I’m vulnerable as a small child and that child doesn’t feel safe. My mother’s hugs and reassurances didn’t make the fear stop when I was a little girl; maybe that’s why I long for her to console me now. “Okay Mom, let’s agree to do it over and we’ll make it come out right this time!”

I’ll call her tomorrow and barely touch upon my fears, my need last night to hear her voice. I’ll hear the discomfort behind her words and I’ll change the subject. I don’t want to hurt her and she still can’t save me. The answer beats in my heart and on a conscious level, I know that. I’ve been blessed with that knowledge in my recovery from alcoholism, which also helps me to understand my father’s alcoholic rages, my mother’s co-dependency. Still, sometimes at night, I get lost in my past, tangled up in my nightmares.

My dad was so scary, ranting and raving until dawn, screaming that he hated us and threatening to kill us all. I would hide under the covers holding my baby sister, planning how I’d protect her if he came into our room. I wanted to kill him before he could kill us. Sometimes at night, he’d come into our bedroom and just stand there beside our bed with a hunting rifle in his hands.

I was powerless, unable to even breathe, frozen with fear. He never pulled the trigger, but a part of my childhood innocence died each time that he stood there. As he’d leave the room, I’d wet the bed and begin to breathe again. No tears. Just fear and anger. I was so angry that he was my dad.

As he stood over our bed late one New Year’s Eve, I thought that he was Father Time or maybe Death. He robbed me of my childhood with his alcoholic madness. He stole years of precious time. I couldn’t even go to school, because I was afraid to leave him alone with my mother. I needed to be there to protect her. Of course, I can see now that I never could’ve protected her or my sister. However, I’d have tried.

Although I hated him, I still tried to earn his love because he was my dad. The only note he ever wrote me is saved, treasured, because he signed it, “love, Dad.” I remember that he showered me with attention when I was a very young child, but he’d pulled away by the time I was about five. I didn’t understand and it hurt. I always figured that I’d done something wrong. I didn’t know that it was because of his own fears and childhood abuse or that he loved me the best way he knew how to, by leaving me alone.

The men in my life have all been angry and it used to feel comfortable, familiar. I tried to earn their love too. If only I could be pretty enough, if I could just be a perfect wife. I’m growing past that now, but it isn’t easy. My roots go deep. I still want to be loved, sometimes at any cost.

At times, I believe I’m a grown woman, but too often I react like a lost child. Sometimes after a nightmare, I hide in a corner of my dark living room and try to ease the fear. I curl up into a ball, crying, and rocking and I say, “It’s over, it’s over, he’s gone. You’re safe now.” The fear is so real at night because I regress back to childhood as I sleep and I become absolutely defenseless.

Years of recovery programs and therapy have helped. I don’t accept abuse from anyone (when I recognize it) and I can function out in the real world. Today, I can hold a job and for years I couldn’t even do that because of my anxiety. I’m developing self-worth and gaining self-respect.

Writing down my thoughts and feelings during these difficult nights seems to help me. I’ve written some of my best poems at dawn. My husband tries to understand, but he really doesn’t. Maybe that’s because he’s not afraid. I wrote lyrics about that thought and he set them to music for me. The song starts like this:

She’s looking through a window

That time forgot to close,

She’s staring at some memories

Full of pain she never chose.

My poetry is like therapy because the words help me to understand and organize these haunting memories. Each time I write I sense the past letting go, I see the pain being processed and the old wounds being healed. Still, sometimes at night, I’m so disoriented, a lost, little girl, trapped in a woman’s body.

I’m recovering on a daily basis, from alcoholism, co-dependency, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, Adult Child of Alcoholic issues, depression and anxiety. I’ve spent a fortune on therapy and with all my “program” have managed to raise my children in a dysfunctional home, while I was sober. I started chain-smoking when I’d been sober ten and a half years. I also drank one night that year and then tried to kill myself in front of my children. There were many reasons that I was brought to my knees. It happened mainly because I wasn’t taking care of myself and I let an excruciatingly painful situation overwhelm me.

I was very close to my A. A. sponsor at the time and attending my home groups faithfully. Nevertheless, I could not see the hope or the love, all I could see was my pain and the pain my decisions had brought to my children. I lost sight of everything that I’d learned when I let my pain become the only emotion that was real.

My Higher Power saved my life that night and He set me back on my feet. He used that experience to teach me and to strengthen my foundation. He helped me to move on. I learned about co-dependency then, my need to be a caretaker, my urge to save and my obsession to maintain control, control I never owned.

I’ve changed in many ways, during my last thirty odd years of sobriety. Some people like it and some don’t. I like caring about me and letting my loved ones make their own choices. I cannot save the world and it feels good to let go when I’m able. I don’t have to try to save anyone but myself. The hardest piece of recovery for me to grasp has been finding the willingness to face reality and to deal with life as it happens. Also, I need to learn to accept that life is not always fair and that not all my mistakes will be forgiven on this earth.

I look back and wonder how I ever came so far and then I understand. My Higher Power has led me and every day He continues to love and to guide me. When I was at my lowest point and couldn’t even love myself, He loved me. When I screamed at life and scorned my sobriety, when I turned my back on him, He loved me. The nightmares are rare now and my Higher Power never lets me go; still, sometimes at night…

Could Not Leave, Could Not Stay



Could Not Leave, Could Not Stay
touched, loved, held safe in my hands
until he was free on the floor.
where life knocked him down
and then he smiled no more.
memories of his face, turned toward me
small helpless child, eyes wide with fear.
lost moments, chances not taken
sucked up by time
washed away, year by year.
his precious innocence
his trusting smile,
soul bruised by words
so unkind, to that child.
and then time, it was lost
freely given, but oh, the cost.
could not leave, could not stay
trapped by fears
till the future became today.
could not leave, could not stay
a man stands on my floor,
mom, don’t cry, he pleads with me
it doesn’t matter anymore.

by Jeanne Marie




sometimes I wish, I think, I could have lived my life
without the soul stretching exercise
i could have been a dandelion floating on the wind,
at the whim of every breeze
i would have been happy blowing across the open fields
a dandelion puff scattered every which way
for a wish by a child with a grin and scuffed knees
no heart to be broken no regrets to sleep on at night
just a hundred puffs floating this way and that.
maybe a flower opening my petals for just one day
to bloom
to close, to leave
drifting on a whim as the wind carried me away.
i could have been a feather fallen from an angel’s wing
floating past your window
as under the covers you snuggled
eyes closed, not seeing me or any thing
i would have sprinkled blessing dust
across your windowsill
as I whooshed by
so no person could ever scar you
or beat you blind with lies.
sometimes I wish, I think, I could have lived my life
without the soul stretching exercise.

by Jeanne Marie

What You Feel…

“What you feel only matters to you. It’s what you do to the people you love that counts.” Author Unknown