Is Someone Stepping on Your Toes?

boundaries for midlife happiness

Stepping on your toes, invading your space, crossing a line, ignoring your wishes – whatever you call it, when somebody does it to you, it feels bad. It means they went beyond your personal limits, also known as boundaries. Your boundaries are a reflection of your personal Identity. They define who you are and area measure of your self-worth.

Boundaries are Important for Women’s Empowerment

Boundaries are important for you to have. When someone doesn’t respect them, it says that person doesn’t respect you. You feel like you don’t matter.

Also, and more often than you – or anyone – would like to admit, when someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, you feel powerless, even unsafe. Safety is a too-often unexpressed or hidden fear, especially in women.

In the workplace, it could be anything from office gossip or dumping extra work on you to asking you to do something inappropriate. In relationships it can include interrupting, over talking, muzzling, criticizing, yelling, and physical violence….and those are just the big ones.

When it happens to you, what do you do? I used to suck it up. Then, in therapy, the therapist told me I had terrible boundaries. He was correct, and I knew it. I needed to make a change. I did.

If you know what I mean, and want to make a change too, read on…

How Midlife Women Can Create a New Boundary

The thing about boundaries is that very often you don’t know what your boundaries are. You can turn that around. Here are four steps you can take:

  1. Decide on the boundary or boundaries you want. Pick a period of time (a week or a month). Notice what happens and pay attention to how you feel. Do you have a co-worker who consistently interrupts you during meetings, You’re annoyed, yes, but why?
    Does one of your friends talk down to you, and when s/he does, you feel “less than” or stupid? Is it the words, the tone of voice, or something else?
    When you and your spouse argue, does s/he go from 0-10 on the anger scale fast and starts yelling? What happens inside you?
  2. Once you identify the offending behavior, figure out what you want instead. This is is important because  you can’t just complain. It’s unproductive. For example, you want the co-worker to hear you out before speaking, or your friend needs to change the tone, or nobody – not even your spouse – can yell at you.
  3. Decide how you will tell the offending person. When you have a boundary, you have to know what to do when someone crosses it. That can be a challenge – especially if you were raised in “good girl” mode. So you have to know what to say.
    Start by giving the other person the benefit of the doubt; many people don’t even recognize what they’re doing. So sometimes a simple “I don’t know if you realize it but you [behavior] and when that happens, it makes me feel [your reaction]. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t’ do that anymore.” Chances are that person will be surprised, and apologize. And then you can let them know that you’ll have to stop them if it happens again.
    If the offending behavior doesn’t change, create a signal –  word (like STOP!) or a gesture (Like a “talk to the hand” sign)
  4. Practice. Like anything you do in life, you aren’t going to get good at boundaries right off the bat. You’re likely to experience stressful signs, like a red face or fast heartbeat. That’s normal. It’ll get better with practice.

Live a Life You LOVE!

You deserve to live the life you love with a good sense of self-worth and the feeling of emotional and physical safety. Boundaries will go a very long way in giving those to you!
Start now! If you need help creating a life you love, check out my Savvy Sizzle “No Regrets” Workshop!

#victoriousWoman #Women’s Empowerment #MidlifeREinveniotn #confidnece #Self-Worth

February: Women and Heart Health

Knowledge is power for midlife women!

midlife women heart health month

Health knowledge puts you in control of what happens with your body.

Did you know that h
eart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among American Indian and Alaska Native women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer as a cause of death.

Resources to Empower Midlife Women

Here is a list of resources that can help you identify, understand and prevent heart disease: 

  1. Myths about heart disease and women: https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/facts/common-myths-about-heart-disease 
  2. Do you know what happened to Susan Lucci?: https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/womens-health/a26144012/susan-lucci-heart-health-scare/ 
  3. Did you know JAW PAIN is a sign of a heart attack…and there’s others that you might be surprised about: https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/womens-health/g2923/heart-attack-warning-signs/
  4. Want to bring down your blood pressure naturally? Here’s how: https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/wellness/a55690/what-to-do-if-you-have-high-blood-pressure/
  5. Think you’re too young for heart disease? https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/a23065148/fox-sports-jen-hale-cardiomyopathy/
  6. TIPS: 10 ways to keep the female heart healthy! https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=97aaf1dc-cc96-44e5-95ad-6f20509bdd8d
  7. Did you floss your teeth for your heart today? The bacteria that causes gum disease can get into your bloodstream and elevate that protein that’s a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. https://www.healthline.com/health/gum-disease-and-heart-disease

#Victorious Woman Project, #Victorious Woman, #WomensEmpowerment,  #VictoryChicks, #AnnmarieKelly, #FiveYearMarriage #KeynoteSpeaker

Radio Wrap-Up: Domestic Violence

AnnmarieKelly.WCBM..webOctober is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Today I’m so happy to be getting over the cold I had all week…and so grateful it wasn’t ebolla! Not that I thought it was, but all the news has been scaring us silly. But what I did think we should be fearful of was calf liposuction. There are so many articles, that I can’t link to just one. So just google it and be amazed!
Also, if you want to read that article about the size of engagement rings: Is Bigger Better? You can download the study here: A Diamond is Forever. And what was your experience? Did you have a bigger diamond and get a divorce or did you stay together. Or maybe you had a regular diamond and, contrary to the “research” you, got divorced. Do you think it matters? Let me know on facebook at VictoriousWomanProject
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Survivor Linda Slavin came to Happy Hour to talk about it. Linda was a Victorious Woman Honoree a couple years ago.  We didn’t go into all the details on the air, but if you want to read more of Linda’s story, here it is: Linda SlavinDomestic Abuse Awareness
Linda stayed over for some Chick Chat. Here are a couple articles that we referenced: Goodell News Conference and the comparison of violence between NFL and non-NFL. Also, here’s a link to the Encyclopedia Britannica about Sharia and Family Law
October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is so much pink this month – from neckties to cereal boxes, that you don’t have to go far to be reminded to do a breast self-exam and get your annual mammogram. BUT, what you do need to be reminded of is this: when you go, be sure to ask for a collar t0 protect your throat from radiation – most places don’t ask if you want it, you have to be proactive.

1st Prize – Juliana Palmcook – Balloon Rally

Do you remember when you were a child and held on to a helium balloon? Have you ever had the experience of the balloon getting away and flying way up into a blue sky? For me I had those childhood experiences many times and even wondered how I would get my balloons back. As well when I was a child I was severely abuses for many years. Besides living in an abusive household when I was in middle school I met and wound up the subject of gang related assault and manipulation. Despite the abuse in school and out of school I could at times manage to carry straight A’s and be invisible in the eyes of my teachers. At high school graduation there was still some abuse and I had setbacks in grades at times. However, I still was accepted at the University of Michigan and my school principal let me walk the stage with the honor students at an awards’ show.
My healing tool was my creative mind and art. My guiding grace was my kindness and reaching out. Faith carried me through the darkest nights.
Three years into my university repressed memories surfaced and I could no longer keep up with my curriculum. I left and went back to my home near Detroit, Michigan. I picked up odd and end jobs and eventually met my future husband. It was the very first time I received my first true hug in the world. I could have hugged him forever.
Two years later we married and two years after that we lost our home in a foreclosure. My husband found a job in Wisconsin. During this time he worked 10 hour days and would be gone for over 12 or more. In this isolation since we lived in the country my mind broke into 3 parts. His care-giving toward me came first and he lost his job. We then moved to the city of Wausau to gain more support and that we found.
I started attending the Womens Community and groups. I learned that I was not alone. Some of my counselors taught me how to make special envelope cards and dolls. My husband taught me how to sew. I learned how to knit, make dolls, pop-cards, quilts, stuffed animals and to be an inventive cook. I reached out everywhere to volunteer at benefits, make care packages for people having a rainy day and cook meals and deliver them to those in need. As I did this I realized I was nurturing the neglected parts of myself from the past. It was a win-win.
Since then when I would get angry I sometimes would yell. I learned that there are other ways to deal with anger than harsh words toward the people who care about you. I started to walk briskly in the morning and work on more art and cooking. I learned how to communicate with my husband and to tell him directly what I needed like -please rub my back and calm me.
Within a few years since my first time at the Women’s Community I learned how to forgive. I constantly let go of the pain, anger and fear so I could find joy and experience the here and now. I was missing out on a lot with having DID-Dissociative Disorder.
Today we have money woes, etc…but I learned with my creativity that I could let go of that too. In my mind, at night I visualized a helium balloon and wrote with a black marker -Money. That balloon flew to heaven. The next day I received an unexpected check in the mail. Every night I write a word on a balloon and let it go to heaven. I have made amends with this and now my heart is not as heavy. I still have scars, but I let so many balloons go and gave it to something bigger than me-the infinite universe. It actually worked better than planned and today I can proudly say I am victorious because I found love, was able to forgive, gained wisdom, am still able to be kind and can be joyful. I will end this with sending a balloon up to the sky with my signature quote “ It matters how we walk on others’ hearts either harshly or softly, both are remembered.”
by Juliana Palmcook

Murder of Innocents

Today’s inexplicable violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut resulted in the murder of twenty-six innocent people. Already there are people pushing the political agenda for gun control. Once again, the real issue is being ignored.
According to the timeline presented by law enforcement, the shooter first killed his mother by shooting her in the face. Then he went to the school where his mother work and shot twenty children and several adults.
Guns were the weapon, but the cause was domestic violence and mental illness. It cannot be anything else. In the coming days we will learn more, but no normal person does what this murderer did…they just don’t.
When I was a kid, my sister was anti-social, manipulative and had an uncanny sense of finding and going after the place where someone was emotionally most vulnerable. Her long fingernails were weapons and I stopped biting my nails just so I could protect myself. I know what it’s like to live with someone with whom you can be the best friend when you go to bed but be the mortal enemy in the morning. My sister’s behaviors were largely ignored because my mother made excuses for them, dismissing them by explaining that my sister was “moody” but would grow out of it. She didn’t.
Except for me, no family member would acknowledge my sister’s mental illness…until my sister’s first suicide attempt. Then everyone acted like it was a shock. My mother blamed my sister’s spouse.
In the coming days I’ll guess we’ll learn the same things about this Connecticut shooter and the Oregon mall shooter as well. We’ll find out there were signs (there always are), probably dating back to early childhood. Sadly, it’s easier for families to ignore mental illness than acknowledge it – right up until the “big blow-up” that forces everyone to pay attention. In my sister’s case, the violence was self-directed. In other cases, innocent people die.
As a society, we have to look more closely at the issues of emotional intelligence. Domestic abuse, domestic violence and mental illness can all be traced back to a lack of emotional intelligence. My sister wasn’t evil then and isn’t now, but I often wonder if my sister would be in a better place in life if, instead of excusing her bad behaviors, she’d gotten help.
If you are living with or know someone who is “troubled”, there are places to go for help. Start with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They have resources for you for dealing with the mentally ill. Today they have suggestions for helping your own children deal with today’s very sad news. Visit: https://www.nami.org
If you missed my take on the NFL murder-suicide, read it here: NFL Murder

Is the Media Deaf, Dumb and Blind?

Last weekend, Jovan Belcher, the US NFL linebacker who played for the Kansas City Chiefs football team, murdered the mother of his infant child. Then he killed himself in front of his team’s general manager and head coach.
While the media expressed shock, much of the media used this murder as a reason to make a pathetic political statement about gun control. During Sunday night football, Bob Costas went on a highly-televised rant. He quoted a sportswriter – another man – who also blamed guns. The implication was that if only people couldn’t get guns, this woman and the “wonderful” football player would still be alive.
When the media men weren’t talking about gun control, they talked about head trauma and the need for better helmets. Cheez, if so many sports players can afford a gun and a lavish lifestyle, why can’t those million dollar players spring for their own “safer” helmets?
On one Sunday morning talk shows I was stunned to hear another man talk about overweight being the culprit. He implied that if there weren’t so many three-hundred pound players, the brutal tackles that are part of football wouldn’t cause such head trauma.
Maybe there should be a ban on football too. It encourages hitting and knocking people around. It’s a violent and stupid activity. So maybe it’s football that is at fault.  Maybe if there wasn’t football, Kasandra Perkins would still be alive today.
Here’s what wasn’t covered by almost everybody: THE TRUTH. Jovan Belcher killed Kasandra Perkins during an incident of domestic abuse. If Belcher didn’t have a gun, and he was that out of control, he would have strangled the woman or beat her to death during his a fit of uncontrollable rage. And he wouldn’t have committed suicide in front of the people who had helped him professionally. Did Belcher think he was performing in a stage show, like taking himself out in the proverbial blaze of glory. Another act of abuse.
Gun control, safer helmets and weight management would not have saved that young woman’s life. A ban on domestic violence might have.
Domestic violence kills. Most of the people it kills are women (85% according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics). The CDC says that 25% of all women are victims of domestic abuse, and those are only the ones who report it.
Domestic Violence is an epidemic in the US and around the world. Some cultures still believe it is a man’s right to abuse and kill a woman if she dishonors him (honor killings).
Why are we talking about gun control? Guns don’t kill, people do. And the people who do are the ones who don’t have the emotional competence to deal with negative emotions. Let’s start a worldwide conversation about that…and do something about it.
 
 

Aren't There Any Strong Women?

Question: I came here from another country and am enjoying the freedom women have in the U.S. Something  that surprises me is that it seems like all the strong women are on the liberal side and it also seems like women are supposed to be liberal. But I have conservative ideas and I’m almost afraid to express them to anyone. Aren’t there any strong conservative women? The only one who stands out is Sarah Palin, but I don’t agree with her either. Are there others? Akanksha
Answer: This is a great question, Akanksha, and about a topic that is more confusing for women all the time. I have both a direct answer and an opinion. Yes, there are strong and purpose-driven conservative women. There are a few of them serving in Congress right now:

  • Kelly Ayotte (NH) is a fireball and proud Latina
  • Michele Bachman (MN) who wanted to be her party’s presidential pick; she lost to Mitt Romney
  • Susan Collins (ME)
  • Olympia Snow (ME)

Those women are just four of the Republican women serving in Congress, and look out for newly elected Senator Deb Fischer, the rancher from Nebraska with a tougher-than-nails history; she’s one to watch! Outside of Washington DC, in the states, there are four female Republican Governors.
And there’s Carly Fiorina, the first woman to have led a Fortune 20 Company (Hewlett-Packard). For six years, Fiorina made Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Business” list.
Meg Whitman is well-known too. She took over the reigns of e-Bay in its early years. In ten years Whitman grew the start-up into a 7.7 billion dollar company.
Both Fiorina and Whitman ran for office in California, for Senator and Governor respectively. Both took a beating in the press and lost their elections.
That brings me to the opinion part of my answer.
You aren’t the first woman to tell me you are nervous about expressing conservative views. One woman told me that her spouse, her best friend and me are the only people she feels comfortable talking about her conservative ideals. When she talks to people who disagree, she feels bullied. I know what she means. Another women, whom I’ve known for a long time, once told me during a political discussion, “I don’t know how we can be friends.” That kind of comment is condescending and smacks of liberal progressive chauvinism (LPC). LPC is a prejudiced belief rooted in the superiority of liberal progressive thinking (as opposed to liberal or conservative thinking). It is the same attitude that is behind male chauvinism. Both are a form of bullying.
LPC presumes a woman is predisposed to a liberal thought process. Labeling conservatism as a “war on women” LPC’s use pro-choice and abortion rights as the high-flying banner of self-righteousness while sweeping domestic violence issues under the carpet. So, in the LPC world, it’s critical to fight on Capitol Hill for laws affecting my uterus but not for laws that would seriously punish the man who’s beating or emotionally abusing me in the name of love. Do you know that abortions are on the decline and though the Violence Against Women Act is seventeen years old, domestic violence is on the rise? In 2010, according to the US Department of Justice, 407, 700 women were victimized by an intimate partner and 37.5% of all female murder victims were killed by a current or former partner. Why fight for a woman to have an abortion but not for her right to feel safe in her own home? That makes no sense to anyone but an LPC.
And, if a woman doesn’t agree with an LPC, then surely there must be something wrong with her. On Michele Bachman’s website, one enlightened soul wrote, “[I] still think she is transgendered. It’s the only influence which explains her opinions and lifestyle choices.” As far as LPCs are concerned, if you are gay, black, handicapped, a pedophile, or a murderer, the LPC will take up your cause with sympathy and support. But if you are a conservative thinker, you must be so damaged that you don’t deserve any consideration. You need to be trashed, bullied, censored, blacklisted or anything else that will get you back in line…thinking the “right” way. Of course, until thirty or so years ago, the world thought the same thing about women who didn’t want to be married or who didn’t want children. We now know they were wrong…very wrong. Feeling like George Orwell’s 1984 yet?
Clearly, in LPC, ideology rules. Why, even if you are a liberal Democrat who doesn’t move in lock-step with the LPC movement, you aren’t immune to LPC. Ask Michelle Rhee, a Demoncrat who was appointed the first chancellor of the Washington DC school system, the 3rd most well-funded school system in the country, and also one of the worst. Rhee was hired to fix the broken DC school system.
From the start, Rhee used a tough but common-sense approach to overhauling the failing system. She closed schools, fired principals and wanted to make teacher’s salaries performance-based. It’s a very long story but basically the unions wouldn’t do business with Rhee unless she watered her proposals down. The LPC’s vilified Rhee for taking such a hard line. In the end, Rhee resigned.
And, in the LPC movement, women are expected to take one for the team whenever necessary. In 2008, remember how everyone thought Hillary Clinton was the presumed Democratic nominee? That is, until the boys behind the scenes found a man they thought has a better chance to win. Forget that Barack Obama had a fraction of the experience that Hillary Clinton had. I remember those first few months when Obama challenged Hillary. She looked as though she didn’t know what hit her. But every working women knew…it was the old boys network in action. It was same thing that men usually did – and sometimes still do – to women in the workplace.
After the election, Hillary Clinton accepted the position of Secretary of State but she wised up. When there was a scandal brewing over the murder of the Libyan ambassador and three others, she disappeared. That’s when the LPC’s trotted out UN Ambassador Susan Rice to tout the party line (instead of the more logical and appropriate choices of Hillary Clinton or VP Joe Biden). Now Rice may not be promoted to the next level because we now know that what she said wasn’t true. Liberal Progressive Chauvinism on parade for all to see.
So, Akanksha, I would stand up for your conservative values. You came to this country to experience a freedom you didn’t have in your own country…and it includes your right to speak freely and feel safe doing it, even when others disagree with you. There are plenty of strong conservative women, and you must be one of them. I hope my lengthy answer gave you the confidence to empower yourself to find and use your conservative voice and speak up! It’s women like you who will make the difference!
Good luck and best wishes as you move victoriously forward!!
In victory,
Annmarie


Anonymous response

Annmarie, I’m a bit baffled by your comment that progressive liberals are not concerned about violence against women. Abortion may get the headlines, but addressing violence against women is a huge part of the liberal/progressive agenda. Remember that the Violence Against Women Act you cite was drafted by Joe Biden and signed by President Clinton. Instead, it is the conservative politicians who champion “legitimate rape” and try to disempower women (e.g., by trying to limit access to birth control), which is why I am always surprised when a woman supports them. But everyone’s entitled to her opinion. I deplore any kind of bullying and agree with you that the media is quicker to trash a woman in a powerful position than a man. I also had the same reaction when Obama first challenged Hillary Clinton; her experience would have been invaluable as president.
To Akanksha and to everyone regardless of your blue/red status, I would say stand up for your values but investigate the politicians you are considering supporting by looking at different news sources including those in other countries (readily available on the Internet); if you just watch one station or read one paper you won’t get the full picture.


Response from Annmarie Kelly

Yes, those two conservatives said really dumb things about rape and abortion. But that’s not the norm. And it certainly isn’t the norm with conservative women. I wish they would be quicker to condemn bizarre statements and stronger about expressing their values.
And yesterday I watched the news about the football murder suicide. Over the weekend, and the little I watched yesterday, the network and cable news was all about gun violence and not domestic abuse, domestic violence or mental illness. Of course, having lived with all those, I wonder why more isn’t done to protect and educate women about the first and why we aren’t addressing mental illness. And what about substance abuse? It isn’t likely that someone who isn’t on steroids has a neck that fat; that comes with steroid use. Last night, ABC spent more time on a segment about drowsy driving than the whole coverage of the murder suicide, which focused on Bob Costas, gun violence and head trauma. This is a great opportunity to talk about domestic violence, which is what happened. A young woman is dead because she lived with a killer.
I agree with your last comment totally. I watch as much as I have time for and figure out who matches my values. Unlike many countries, we get to choose. It makes me crazy that so many people listen to sound bites instead of substance. My model for that was my mother, who always voted for the person my father told her to vote for until returned to the workplace, and then she voted for who the union told her. I think that still isn’t unusual…and, as a voting population, we have to do better.
I so appreciate that you took the time to read and respond!!!

Domestic Abuse Awareness Month

October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. You probably noticed all the pink ribbons for breast cancer…but how many purple ones did you see? Probably none. Why?
Activist Lucinda Marshall has a possible reason. She suggests, “Breast cancer sells. October is an awareness month for breast cancer and domestic violence. Yet media coverage shows we’d rather be aware of breasts, even sick ones, than talk about abuse.” And Rachel Griffin, on a Ms. Magazine blog post, questioned why the NFL adorned its teams with pink everything…and has an interesting answer at msmagazine.com
Maybe domestic abuse is so common or so embarrassing that we don’t want to talk about it. When I was interviewing women for Victorious Woman!, many women told me their stories, but few would go “on the record” and use their own names. And not all abuse is from an abusive spouse or boyfriend. Domestic violence can happen in the home from a mother, father, or sibling. For me, it was a much older brother who hit me and used degrading language. He continued until I could learn how to fight back and win. I did, but not until my late teens. Then, more than a dozen years later when he said something against my mother and I defended her, he threatened to “crack me” in the face. But by then I was strong and, in no uncertain way, put an end to his despicable and abusive bullying.
With so much attention paid to Breast Cancer Awareness this month, it’s easy to let domestic violence slip away almost unnoticed. But did you know:

  • Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
  • Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends

In case you missed it, this month’s Victorious Woman Honoree is a survivor of domestic violence. Read her story: Linda Slavin

October Victorious Woman Honoree

Linda Slavin
Domestic Abuse Survivor

“They’re my blood…you’re not.” Those were the words Vincent used to let Linda know that he expected her to take care of his mother and his siblings, as well as him. Vincent’s belittling words and bullying behaviors supported Linda’s already low self-esteem so that she believed she had no real worth except to him…and that was enough to keep Linda submissive. If she ever complained or didn’t do what he wanted, Vincent beat her. And just in case Linda would ever think she could have a life without Vincent and his family, he promised her, “If you leave, I’ll kill your family.” Linda feared leaving as much as she feared staying.
Abandoned at six months by her parents after they split up, Linda’s treasured the tiny family that included the paternal grandparents who raised her and an aunt, uncle and four cousins. Though her father would come around from time to time, Linda’s mother visited her only once during her early teens. Linda wasn’t receptive to the reunion. “It was awkward,” Linda remembers and confesses, “I didn’t even talk to her.” Linda never saw her mother again.
While growing up Linda was a good kid, well-behaved and diligent. In high school, she excelled in her studies. Linda graduated in the top one-third of her class and earned a scholarship to study at St. Frances Hospital in Delaware where she planned to become a radiologic technologist.
At the same time, Linda’s aging grandmother decided to move to Florida. Linda could have gone with her but if she did, she’d lose her scholarship. If she stayed, her grandmother told the teen she would be “on her own.” With all the optimism of youth, and believing she was resourceful and capable, Linda didn’t think twice; she decided to stay.
When she started school, Linda met and traveled around with a typically teenage crowd. That’s how she met Vincent. First Linda befriended Vincent’s sister and then met Vincent through the group. When Vincent first asked Linda out, she felt safe because she felt she knew him. She liked that he “didn’t let anyone walk on him and he didn’t let anyone get away with anything.” Linda also noticed how he took care of his mother and sisters. She liked that too. “He was hard core,” Linda admits, saying that Vincent made her feel safe and “I think I needed that.”
Yet almost immediately after their first date, Linda had a fearful feeling and wanted no part of a relationship with Vincent. She tried to put distance between them, but it seemed impossible. In the days before society understood stalking, Linda remembers, “Wherever I went, there he was.”
During those days, Linda was used to visiting Vincent’s house and, since her apartment was an hour away, she sometimes stayed overnight. At first Linda compared living at the house to living in a dormitory. But there was a mother and sisters and brothers, so it quickly felt like family and Linda liked the feeling. It was easy to stay and before long it was her home. Between Linda being in the same place and Vincent’s persistence, they soon became intimate.
From the beginning, Vincent was abusive. He smacked her and beat her. Once he even doused her with kerosene and then, like some kind of crazy joke, flicked matches at her. Still, in those early days, Linda says stayed for two reasons: Vincent protected her and she knew “he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me…but him” and “I had no place else to go.” Looking back at those days, and understanding her history of abandonment, Linda now thinks, “I probably would have gone with anybody.”
While her home life was crazy, at school Linda found peace and fulfillment in her studies. She did so well that she graduated at the top of her class. Before leaving school, Linda was offered a scholarship to continue her studies, but she turned it down. She knew that her home life would make further education impossible.
Instead, Linda got a job. She was skilled, liked her work and was making good money.
Meanwhile Vincent did very little. He got into trouble in the neighborhood and if Linda complained, his mother defended Vincent. He did odd jobs and his income was, at best, sporadic. Whatever little money Vincent made went to his mother. Then his mother got into financial trouble with her house and was going to lose it. Linda was the main wage earner in the house and Vincent convinced Linda to purchase the house; she agreed. Everyone – Linda, Vincent, his mother and siblings – lived in the house…and Linda paid the bills. Complaints about being used were pointless. If she said anything, Vincent denigrated her. Linda got used to keeping quiet.
When Linda found out she was pregnant, life didn’t get better. Vincent wanted to marry Linda but she resisted. But a few days after giving birth, Vincent demanded that they get married, telling her “You’re not going anywhere.” Linda gave in because, she explains, “I had that much fear…I lived in constant fear.”
Though married and the mother of his daughter, Vincent continued to beat Linda. Everyone knew but no one helped. Vincent had grown more violent and, Linda says, “Everyone knew his demeanor and knew he was dangerous. They were afraid of him.”
Even though Linda was making enough money to support herself and her child, and could leave, Linda described the common complexity of domestic violence, “Everything was my fault. And I felt, ‘I made my bed and now I have to live with it.’”. Also, when abusive to Linda, Vincent would say he was sorry. Linda wanted to believe him.
Linda was pregnant again.
For a brief moment in time, after their son was born, Linda thought parenthood might have changed Vincent. He was working steadily, making good money and taking care of their daughter and son. While the abuse didn’t stop, at least Linda felt like she had some hope. But the change was short-lived. And, in the 1980s, there was little consideration and even less help for victims of domestic violence. Others often blamed the victim.
One day Vincent told Linda they were moving. He found a house fairly far away from their families and moved Linda and the children there. “That’s when the real horror started.” Vincent started drinking and doing drugs. He became paranoid and often accused Linda of cheating on him with his friends. He would disappear for days at a time. When he returned, not only did Vincent beat Linda, he would sometimes throw her outside without her clothes or hit her with chains. During his most paranoid nights, he would make he stand in a corner for hours watching over him while he slept. He would insist that Linda check and recheck the windows and doors to make sure they were locked.
Vincent’s friends told Linda that Vincent was having an affair. She hoped he was and would leave her. But he would always come back, and demand cruel and sadistic sex – the kind that continues to haunt Linda to this day.
Linda’s turning point came through an experience with her church and a woman who encouraged and helped her practice radical forgiveness. At first Linda balked at the idea of forgiving the man who was her tormentor. But the woman convinced her to try. During that time, Linda had her first ah-ha “God is real” moment.
As a result of her prayer work, for the first time in her relationship with Vincent, she no longer feared him but started to see Vincent differently. Instead of the powerful bully she’d lived with for almost ten years, Linda saw a man who was a weak, sad individual who needed help. I didn’t see his power anymore. I had the power.”
Afterward, Linda’s life changed. The next time Vincent raised his hand to her, she stared into his eyes and challenged him. Instead of hitting her, he backed down. Then Linda saw fear in Vincent and realized, “He knew he didn’t have the power any longer.”
One night Vincent left. Linda expected him to return in a few days. When he didn’t, she wasn’t sure if he ran off with the woman he was supposedly having the affair with or if he was in trouble with drugs, or if something else happened. She tracked down Vincent’s friends but all she got were vague answers about some man who owed Vincent money. When she found Vincent’s truck, Linda pressed the friends again and one of them told her, “He’s never coming back.” Shaken, Linda went to the police and filed a missing persons report. Though Linda believed Vincent was dead, she needed to know for sure. Until she did, Linda couldn’t feel safe or be free.
Over the three years that followed, Vincent didn’t return and Linda’s life got worse before it got better. She couldn’t pay the bills or the mortgage. She went bankrupt and lost her house to foreclosure. Linda and her children moved into a small apartment. In order to protect herself financially, she filed for and was granted a divorce from Vincent. All the while, she stayed connected to her church and felt supported by the congregation.
Linda’s life eventually turned a corner. She gradually got back on her feet. Though in the back of her mind there was some fear about what would happen if Vincent came back, she didn’t let that thought overwhelm her. Instead Linda put one foot in front of the other. Day after day, step by step, Linda moved forward.
Within a few years, two good things happened. First, the police told Linda that Vincent was, in fact, dead. He was shot through the head and they were looking for his killer. Then Linda met and married a man who was kind, gentle and who loved her and her children. Life was good.
To this day, Linda admits she still experiences a kind of after-shock from her years with Vincent. She works hard to keep thoughts of those bad days at bay so they don’t interfere with the good in her life today. She also played a part in finding Vincent’s killer and putting him in prison for the rest of his life.
Linda has advice to other women who are living with domestic violence. “I understand what it’s like for you to believe you’re safer staying than leaving,” Linda whispers, but then gives this unwavering and adamant message: “GET OUT. “Have two plans – one for safety and another for leaving and GET OUT NOW.” Linda also tells women that, unlike the 1980’s when there was little or no help, the 1994 Violence Against Women Act provides for domestic abuse crisis centers in nearly every town.

BRAVA, LINDA!

Victory usually comes in small steps that lead to wonderful successes.
You took those small steps in victory and your triumph is a model for other women!

Linda Slavin tells her story in her book, Found Missing.
You can find it at foundmissingbook.com, and in hard copy or for kindle at Amazon.com

You can safely find information about domestic abuse crisis centers at
https://www.thehotline.org
or 1-800-799-SAFE

Read about more Women Who Inspire at www.VictoriousWoman.com
Annmarie Kelly is an author and motivational speaker from Chester County. Her mission in life is to help women empower themselves so that they can live stronger, happier and on-purpose lives. Learn more at AnnmarieKelly.com.

Victorious Woman Contest Winner – Second Place

Paula Whittaker
Letting go of ANGER, FEAR and HATE

Every woman I know complains about her in-laws sometimes. I could top anyone’s story though- I had the worst in-laws. When my son was 7 months old he suffered a brain injury while in the care of my brother-in-law. To this day I do not know what really happened, but the doctors said shaken baby syndrome. After a lengthy investigation, charges were filed and my brother in law accepted a plea bargain.
My son fully recovered quickly, but I did not. For over three years I was close intimate friends with ANGER, HATE and FEAR. I was a victim. I did not talk to my husband’s sister or her husband, who had been watching my little baby when this happened.
I’m lucky I had a spouse who understood I could not maintain a relationship with his sister and her family and he fully supported me. He cut off all ties too. This put a severe strain on our relationships with my husband’s parents and grandparents too.
I really let ANGER eat away at me. It affected my life on a regular basis. ANGER, FEAR and HATE are a heavy burden to carry. They consume time and energy. They hurt emotionally and physically. I felt righteous, I felt guilty, I felt mad, and I felt sad too. I could cry at the drop of a hat.
For three long years my husband and I would occasionally talk about his sister and her family. I know my mother-in-law and father-in-law hated having this major split in their family. I know my husband missed his sister and her family and I missed them too. We had spent a lot of time with them prior to the accident and now there was emptiness inside of me and sometimes when ANGER, FEAR and HATE were taking a break, I really felt a hole. I missed that part of our family. I wanted my kids to grow up and know their cousins.
But the question was – how do I let go of ANGER, FEAR and HATE? They had become my closest friends. I knew though that they were physically and mentally draining me. I needed to move on and become a survivor and stop being a victim. I approached the subject of reconciliation with my husband and we agreed to reach out to my in-laws. I sent out a simple email – we wanted to see them, we did not want to rehash any events, we just wanted to see what happened. I wanted them to understand that I did not know how I would react to seeing them; I might not be able to sit in the same room with them. And I understood if they did not want to see us, because they were mad at us too. I supported my brother-in-law being prosecuted.
So, one spring afternoon we met at the playground with our kids. I saw my nieces for the first time in years. They saw my son for the first time since he was 7 months old. He was almost 4 at this point. They met my daughter for the first time. We fell into awkward conversation but it came easier as the afternoon went on. By the end of the day, ANGER, FEAR and HATE were on their way out. FORGIVENESS and LOVE started to replace them.
It has been 2 years now and I know some people do not understand how I could FORGIVE and even more, how I can LOVE. I consider my sister-in-law and brother-in-law among my best friends. It is a choice I made. I get to choose how I feel. I determine if I am going to let FEAR, ANGER and HATE rule my life, or if I am going let FORGIVENESS and LOVE be my companions. It is empowering to take control over my feelings instead of letting them be in control.
I chose not to be a victim anymore. I became a survivor. It is good for my family, good for my body and good for my soul. I lost that chip on my shoulder. My kids love their cousins. My husband has his sister back. The hole I had in my heart is filled.
My advice to other women who carry ANGER, FEAR and HATE around – Let them go. You don’t have to find LOVE to set you free. You can just let go of the heavy burdens and chose FORGIVENESS and INDIFFERENCE. Choose not to let negative feelings weigh you down. Make the choice not to let yourself be a victim anymore. You don’t forgive someone for their benefit. You forgive them for yourself. The person doesn’t even have to know that you forgive them. You just need to know it inside yourself. Make a conscious decision to let go of the bad feelings. You’ll lighten your load. Your mind and body will heal.
For me, victory is choosing how I feel.

Congratulations, Paula Whittaker!

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