Domestic Violence is a Community Problem

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If there were one place a person expects to be protected and made to feel safe, it would be in the home space, yet every day news reports tell a different story. It is a story of violence and abuse in family and intimate partner relationships. The story is ugly, frightening, and in some cases implausible. And while the reasons for violence may vary and are even debatable, the issues of domestic violence remain a growing social and moral problem in our backyard as well as around the world. The textbook, Understanding Social Problems, states, “In U.S. society, people are more likely to be physically assaulted, abused and neglected, sexually assaulted and molested, or killed in their own homes rather than anywhere else, and by other family members rather than by anyone else” (Mooney, et al., 159). However, most Americans take care and pride in making the family a priority, and safeguarding and defending the family unit and its values. But several conditions including personal, social, and economic factors have contributed to domestic violence in communities globally, and Brevard county, though a relatively small community is no exception.

According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there were 4,064 reported cases of domestic violence offenses in Brevard County in 2011 alone. Compare with 7,140 between 1998 and 2002. But according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics on family violence, between 1998 and 2002 about 3.5 million violent crimes were committed nationwide against family members, 49% were crimes against spouses and 11% of which were children victimized by a parent. But a 2009 article in Florida Today “Opinion Matters” suggests that statistics shows only a small portion of the horrific picture because these crimes are often “crimes of silence.” The article also claims that at lease 4 out of 10 domestic violence incidents are not reported. This is disturbing because silence only serves to protect perpetrators and disarm victims. Many women do not come forward because of fear, embarrassment, financial dependency and other social issues. What is even more troubling is Florida Today’s assertion that each day at least three women in the United States alone will be murdered by an intimate partner and that domestic violence affects 32 million Americans annually.

The Domestic Violence Victim Services Guide, created by the Women’s Center with funding from Health First states that “Abuse can happen to anybody and it does. It does not matter if you are rich or poor, where you live, or whether you are educated. It happens regardless of age, race, culture, or whatever your region happens to be.” Domestic violence is a real threat especially to women and children and it is a growing problem in Brevard County communities. But it is worth noting that many abused victims as well as the abusers are continuing a cycle of abuse. This is because their self-esteem has been beaten down for so long that they have come to believe they are either causing the abuse, or they deserve it.

However, there are several organizations in Brevard County dedicated to responding to domestic violence and working towards prevention. One of which is The Women’s Center. Located at 1425 Aurora Road in Melbourne, Florida, the Women’s Center is committed to addressing the needs of women and empowering them to lead, safe, healthy and self-sufficient lives. Stating that domestic violence and sexual abuse occurs daily in Brevard County, the non-profit organization speaks to the basic needs of these women by providing them with a wide range of programs and services including: transitional housing, victim advocacy, counseling services, career guidance, job training, and financial assistance. Budgeting workshops, reimbursement for transportation, medical expenses and healthcare are also provided for homeless women and their children. Annually, the center helps over 10,000 women and their families escape a dangerous environment.

The Brevard Chapter of The National Organization for Women (NOW) is also on a mission to break the silence around domestic violence and abuse. During October, the National Domestic Violence Awareness month, Brevard NOW host “Take Back The Night” in Melbourne. The purpose of the event is to promote a community wide effort to end domestic violence and to let victims know that they are not alone. The chairperson, Paccione asserts, “Our [NOW] vision is to empower women and their families by providing a venue which brings together all the resources available in our community. Our goal is for all those affected by domestic violence to rise up and say victim no more!” Still, although there are many national and local resources to help with prevention and repeat occurrences, ending family violence will no doubt be an uphill battle because of the various reasons adult victims stay in abusive relationships.

In conclusion, the problem of domestic violence in Brevard County communities is one that affects all its citizens because it affects all race, religion, culture, class, gender and age. Victims of abuse are hiding in plain sight. They are our friends and neighbors, our coworkers and classmates, our church sisters and brothers. We marry them or into the family, and only by breaking the silence and reducing the stigma can society hope to significantly reduce the problem. For any society to be healthy, its citizens must be physically and mentally healthy. Brevard County cannot afford to turn its head in the other direction and walk by. We must give voice to the voiceless in the battle against domestic violence. We must teach each other that corporation is necessary, compassion is key, and information is power.

 

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Break Free From The Past

I learned something very interesting this week. I have always wondered how an elephant—the largest and one of the most powerful land animal on earth—can so easily be restrained with only a strong rope. Well, it seems that when the elephant is young, he is tied to a large tree and after weeks of trying to get away by straining and pulling without success, he eventually gives up.

So, when the elephant reaches his full size and strength, he won’t struggle to break free, because as soon as he feels the resistance, he stops. He believes he is held captive and can’t escape.

I won’t go into the history of our races and cultures with this analogy, because that is not what is troubling for me at this time. What is more troubling is how many of us are not experiencing true freedom, simply because we have been conditioned to believe a temporary situation or condition is permanent. We have allowed our past and the enemy to hold us captive. Some of us have been so inured to hardships, abuses and biases that we believe we cannot break free—and that is what the enemy uses to keep us fixed to that “large tree!” It’s a trick to prevent us from living victorious lives! You are empowered to live victoriously. Walk in your victory!

[But] now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you (Romans 8:1-2). We are free indeed!

Stay blessed.

 

VERBAL CONDITIONING: MY FINAL THOUGHTS

 

I do not believe conditioning our children for failure in ever intentional. No parent gets up one day and say, “I’m going to abuse my child until he or she is unable to trust, sees nothing good in the world, looses all sense of self, feels unworthy of love and accepts abuse as normal.” I refuse to believe any parent purposefully speaks spiritual death into a child’s life. Most of us simply do what we know or, we learned from our own parents or other adults in our family. Others may have become abusers because they are filled with resentment, shame and a sense of hopelessness because of what others have done to them.

As a parent, I continue to learn through trials and errors, but my hope is that my adult children do not hold my mistakes or lack of parenting skills against me. Furthermore, I trust they do not measure my love for them against the mistakes I have made, but understand that I did the best I could with what I had. Now, it is very comforting to know that God is in the business of restoration and I have His phone number.

But even with forgiveness, some things are impossible to forget. So watch what you say and do, whether it is to your child or someone else’s, because we are going to have to give an account for every self-defeating word we speak into the life of a child. Words packed power and they can leave lasting scars, but the wonderful thing is that words also have the power to heal and inspire. Scripture tells “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

Expect the best from your children and begin by speaking greatness into their lives! Ask them about their feelings, dreams and thoughts on issues that affect them. Validate them and, please listen to them! They are worth your time and effort. When things are looking bleak and hopeless, and depression and discouragement threatens them, pray for them and with them. When they make mistakes or mess up, do not enable them, but do not condemn them either. Show understanding, forgiveness and mercy. Remember, they know your thoughts on moral and social issues. They have observed how you behaved when confronted with difficulties, fears and stress. They were watching how you handled disagreements. In other words, our children know us.

Blessings

 

Belonging Places Social Blitz Tour by Maryann Weston

Belonging Places Blog Tour Flyer Belonging Places
Genre: Women Fiction
Suspens

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Three women; three stories on life, lessons and love. Three journeys towards the belonging place; three journeys back to self. Liliana Flint-Smith is starting out on her own. Leaving a dysfunctional family behind her and with nothing but a university degree in librarianship, Liliana moves to a remote village in the country. Different from everyone else in the town, she must find her place in a society that doesn’t take kindly to strangers. With the help of an old woman who lives in the flat next to her, Liliana begins to find herself and discovers it was never about her changing, but about learning to be herself. Estelle Wainwright is successful. She’s burning up the career ladder and has just made editor at a national women’s magazine. Her husband Joel is also carving out his niche as an architect and, together with son Corey, is the picture of success. Or are they? Journey with Estelle as she fights the tension within herself: work and home, career and husband, businesswoman and woman, and navigates through a crisis that will test the decisions she has made about how she lives her life. Jill Bridges is struggling to stay afloat. With the loss of her husband and her children busy with their own lives, she’s facing the prospect of a nursing home. But it’s her independence that makes her life worth living and she’ll be damned if she’ll bow to society’s plans for her. With a fierce will, Jill must find a way to triumph over old age and emerge into a life that still holds meaning.

BOOK EXCERPT

 

 

Liliana raised one barely visible eyebrow. “Nothing’s wrong is it?” she said, starting to worry. She really needed to get through this degree. The money her grandmother had left her was starting to run out, and Mr Liazzorini from the pizza bar could only give her two shifts a week. She was tired of the endless baked bean sandwiches, eggs and mince, supplemented by loads of vegetables…because they were cheaper than meat. As she approached her final semester at university, she wanted out, and to begin her search for her ‘place’, she thought wryly as she fingered the corner of the books in her hands.
“Nothing’s wrong at all. In fact everything is fine Liliana. I just wanted to talk with you about an Honours’ year next year…in English. But more of that later when we’ve got that much needed coffee in our hands. I’ve only had one this morning and it’s nearly 11 o’clock!”
She linked arms with Liliana and half propelled her towards the coffee shop. Once they were seated, she took out a piece of paper which resembled Liliana’s academic transcript.
“I hope you don’t mind Liliana, but I was able to access your subject marks in this English major and I have to say they are impressive.”
Liliana’s eyes widened and she waited for the joke to come next. When it didn’t, her expression became one of puzzlement. “Ah…I’m not sure I know what you mean. I’ve not done that well in my English major.”
Hari smiled as she took a long sip of the soy latte she had ordered. Liliana was waiting for hers to cool, a little bit nervous of testing the heat against her lips in case it spilt.
“I’m telling you Liliana, your marks are better than good and I think you have the right attitude to take on Honours…you seem to understand what the writer is actually saying…the guts of it, if you know what I mean and not what academia wants you to think. You’re a complete natural and I think with a little bit of mentoring, you can make a place for yourself here.”
Liliana finally took a sip of her coffee and noticed with disappointment it had gone slightly cold. “Here? Oh I don’t think so…I mean I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I don’t want to stay here.”
Hari looked slightly puzzled, and a little bit hurt, Liliana thought.
“I’m not sure I know what you mean Liliana. What I’m offering you is a career path to perhaps, one day, lecture at this university. Perhaps write yourself. I really think you’re capable of all this,” she said, waving her arm in an expansive gesture in the general direction of the university.
Liliana couldn’t help smile but she quickly forced it back.
Liliana couldn’t help smile but she quickly forced it back.
“Thank you. I really mean that, but I can’t stay here. I’ve got to find my place and this is not it,” she said. She reached into her purse and took out $3 in silver coins. She placed them on the table and bit at her lip. She really was quite nervous at having to disappoint Hari Theodori.
Hari touched her arm again. “I understand Liliana, but promise me you will think it over.”
Liliana nodded before hurrying out of the coffee shop. She could still make the 301 back to Blacktown. Luckily the term was nearly over and if she arrived and departed Hari Theordori’s classes on time for the next week, she wouldn’t have to talk about the prospect of studying Honours.

BONUS: Dawn of the Shadowcasters
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Adventure

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Only light can drive back the darkness. Only Stevie Vegas can stop the Shadowcasters. It’s been a year since the 13-year-old skateboarder found out he was an Illuminator with special powers – the ability to read minds and make things happen. Then, he was forced to use his new powers to fight the Shadowcasters. Now they’ve turned up in his hometown wanting revenge, and it will take all his skills as an Illuminator and the help of his friends to beat them again.

About The Author

 

 

Me (1)

Maryann Weston is a professional writer and communicator, working in private enterprise and for government. She lives in Goulburn, Australia. She has been writing all her life across many mediums and for many purposes. Maryann has written for newspapers – features, news, legal stories – and for government, niche magazines, websites and for social media campaigns.

Maryann has written for private enterprise and managed numerous public relations and communications campaigns over the years. For the past 25 years, she has put words together in various ways, for a diverse audience and a variety of reasons, through her professional work and now as an author.

Her debut novel Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles is a story about a young skateboarder who has ESP and an amazing Kickflip (skateboard trick for those who don’t know). Her second novel Dawn of the Shadowcasters is Book 2 in the Stevie Vegas Chronicles series and is in Production with Lodestone Books and will be available on 30 May 2014. Maryann has also authored her first adult fiction book, Belonging Places, which is in production. It’s a book for women, and about women and will be published in March 2014.

Maryann has also authored her first adult fiction book, Belonging Places, which is in production. It’s a book for women, and about women and will be published in March 2014.

You can follow Maryann on Twitter @MaryannWeston or Facebook at Imagine If – Maryann Weston Books http://www.facebook.com/shadowscape.stevievegas, Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/westonfamily1/ and her blog at WordPress http://www.extrasensitiveperson.wordpress.com. For more information about Maryann and her books, head to her website http://www.maryannwestonbooks.weebly.com

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COUNT THE COST OF REDEMTION

Easter

It is human nature to complain when we are going through difficult times. Many of us have kept records of the times we needed God, but thought He wasn’t there simply because we did not see the result we expected. The truth is, we want what we want and we want it now. However, seldom do we take time to give thanks for all the mess God has saved us from or brought us through. And rarely, if ever, consider the sacrifice or the cost. But from the moment Eve lingered in the Garden of Eden with the devil, which resulted in her and Adam getting evicted from their home, God’s plan for our restoration was activated through the incarnation of His son Jesus Christ. Consequently, the ministry of Christ was set in motion in three stages: The cradle, the cross and the crown of glory.

From the cradle Jesus came to earth as a human babe, born in a lowly manger, made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7 KJV). He came as the perfect sacrificial lamb to die as atonement for our sins. The joys of His birth were short-lived, stripped by His looming death, because there was always a plan in place for our salvation—if we choose to accept it. We must consider that no sin is too great to forgive and a person does not need to get his act together before coming to Christ since He came to meet you right where you are, and give you a fresh start.

The fresh start came at the cross. Jesus was born to physically die on the cross—the cruelest instrument of death known to man—and he lived and ministered carrying the cross on His shoulders. Paul, the Apostle, wrote that Jesus was not seeking admires; He was calling followers. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” And this is reflected in the song written by Isaac Watts:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride. 

So today, you and I can be assured of our salvation because Jesus endured the ultimate curse, torment and humiliation on Calvary’s cross. He to paid the debt that we could never be good enough, or do enough good deeds to satisfy without His blood. Jesus’ selfless sacrifice led Him to achieve His crown of glory.

Because God’s plan was always alive, when Jesus was on the cross and He said, “It is finish,” our debt was paid and it was a new beginning awash with grace and mercy for man. Unconditional love is the energy that drives true sacrifice. It was love that drove Jesus to the cross. Author C.S. Lewis said, “It costs God nothing so far as we know, to create nice things: but to covert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.” Knowing that Christ came as a human babe to a cradle in a manger, endured the cross, and now wears a crown of glory, we can be assured of our salvation as we count the cost of redemption and live a life that honors Him. So after all is said and done, at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

HAPPY EASTER! BLESSINGS!

 

VERBAL CONDITIONING: PART 3

There are no perfect parents. We all make mistakes, and while some of us have learned from our mistakes others continue without a thought or care to the generational damage they are inflicting on their children. Mother is defined as a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child, and/or supplied the egg, which in union with a sperm grew into a child. The Bible dictionary defined mother as a female parents, a woman in authority. Mothering, however, is the nurturing of an infant or small child by its mother. But some parents have used their status as adults and parents to release them of accountability to do what is right and to lead by example. Still, like it or not, with authority comes responsibility.

The idiom, Do what I say, not as I do should not be an excuse to be hypocritical and reckless. Authority does not mean laying down rules without regard to personal responsibility. I have heard the “I am grown so I can do what I want”line often used by parents to shun accountability and excuse bad behavior. But adulthood indicates—at least some level of—intellectual maturity because we have learned something from life and willing to help others avoid the same pitfalls.

Furthermore, whether you believe in God or not, “Train a child in the way he should go” means we give them the tools they need to make the right choices to fulfill their purpose. But those of us who believe in God must teach our children and grandchildren by words and by deeds what it means to fear God. We help them to develop a healthy appetite for the Word of God with the hope that they will come to depend on Him knowing that they are valued, loved and cared for. So “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Hence, verbal conditioning suggests that if children hear something often enough they are likely to believe it, and if they believe it they will live it. Whether we bless or curse our children, our words become a tape recorder that plays over and over in their heads affecting their self-image, behavioral patterns, the ability to give and accept love, and the ability to make good decisions. So when a child hears over and over that he/she is ugly, dumb, stupid, worthless, good-for-nothing, will never amount to anything in life, eventually that child will believe it and live up to those expectations. That is how we conditioned our children for mediocrity, failure or greatness, and it is how we teach them that abuse in all its ugly forms are normal and tolerable. We must never forget that what children see in the eyes of a parent becomes the lens through which they view themselves.

THINK ON THESE THINGS:

When a father pats his teenage son on the back and tells him he’s the man because he has scored with a girl, then turns around and calls his daughter a tramp or a slut because she makes a decision that may or may or have resulted in pregnancy, how can we wonder why so many men do not respect the women in their lives?

When a mother tells her daughter that men are either drunks, gamblers, womanizers or wife beaters, but as long as he’s paying the bills she should be happy, how can we wonder how our daughters can settle for abusive, debasing relationships that seeks to disarm, isolate and rob them of life itself?

WATCH FOR MY FINAL THOUGHTS ON VERBAL CONDITIONING

I AM SO IN LOVE!

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We were created to love! We yearn to love and be loved. Our thirst for love is unquenchable, our appetite insatiable, and yet we are always afraid of opening up ourselves to others. The excuses are numerous: he/she is going to hurt me, rob me, cheat on me, not love me back, leave me…the list goes on. These excuses are all about self. We cuddle and protect our complaints, grudges, bitterness, malice, resentments and fears while blaming others, but failed to understand that love is selfless. Once we get pass the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, and false starts, we will come to understand that the best gift we can give anyone is love. I am not saying the complaints are not legitimate, but we should not allow them to thwart true love when it comes. I am under construction, but I believe that once we truly understand the origin and sacrifices of love, we won’t be so afraid to offer it. Love—not lust or sexual gratification—brings us face to face in the glowing image of who we are.

Let us learn from the cross. The cross is not about pain, misery, suspicion, fear or mistrust. It represents love in its purest, freest, finest, most generous state. It teaches that love is selfless, demonstrative, faithful and sacrificial. Love is not weakness. Love is strength. It is power! Love is the ultimate gift and we were created to keep unwrapping it!

I vow to never stop unwrapping love!