Pinned down, not knowing if he was going to push my face into a hot radiator, he raped me. Telling me over and over that no one will ever want me again; that I am his; and that he would kill me if I tried to leave him.
That is how I lived my life until I got the courage to get away from my abuser. Then the stalking increased. We are possessions to our abusers. I never imagined that I would have to live in fear of him finding me.
As I heal, I know God is watching over me. God is protecting me. I can Thank God every day that I am free of the abuse.
There are many precautions that one must take to stay safe. To learn the steps to leave abuse, check out my book: Domestic Violence Survivor Handbook, Steps to Freedom; Second Edition. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09K1TTY17
Log Book of Incidents: Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Other Abuse is a companion book to help survivors document their abuse. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B5KV58D4
The Helping Survivors website provides a comprehensive guide about sexual assault in a rideshare. For more information: helpingsurvivors.org/sexually-assaulted-uber-lyft-driver/.
For help, if you have been assaulted, call 800-656-4673, National Sexual Assault Hotline. or go to their website: https://hotline.rainn.org/online, where you can chat online.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (#TDVAM).
“You have rights in your relationship.”*
You can set up boundaries for yourself and others.
No one has to live with violence in his or her relationship.
There are many ways teens are abused. Some are subtle.
The wheel here shows types of abuse, whether physical, emotional or sexual.
If you need help, you can text “LOVEIS” to 22522 to speak to an advocate, or visit loveisrespect.org.
They are available 24/7.
*Know your Relationship Rights
#TDVAM21 #teenDVmonth #knowyourworth #loveisrespect #outrageintoaction #innovef #breakthecycle
International Domestic Violence Hotlines
Domestic violence numbers are on the rise with #ShelterInPlace orders during the pandemic of Covid-19. Also known as #StayAtHome orders, these put victims of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, child abuse and sexual violence at a higher risk. The home may be the most dangerous place for many people.
“Do not give up. Help is available. Make a safety plan to escape. Make a phone call.”~CL Valens, Domestic Violence Survivor
International Domestic Violence Lines:
Americans overseas: 833-SAFE-833 or 1-866-879-6636
Australia: 180 -737-732
New Zealand: 0800-733-843
South Africa: (+27 11) 715-2000
Brazil: 1: +55-51-211-2888
Puerto Rico: 787-765-2285
Dominican Republic: 809-200-1202
How would I know if I have traumatic brain injury from abuse?
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) often goes unrecognized for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). There are many ways people are physically abused. There are usually no visible signs of TBI.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Have you ever been choked?
- Have you been placed in a sleeper hold?
- Have you been slammed against something?
- Have you had furniture or other objects thrown at you, hitting your head?
- Have you had your hair pulled, so hard that you fell to the ground?
- Have you been punched to the floor and then pulled across the floor by your legs or hair?
- Have you been hit with something hard, hit with a fist or slapped?
- Have you been karate chopped?
- Have you ever been body slammed?
- Have you ever been kicked?
- Have you been picked up and thrown?
- Have you been shaken?
- Has this abuse happened more than once?
- Did you lose consciousness?
- Have you been checked for brain injury?
There is a higher risk for permanent damage when these types of physical abuse happens more than once. Many times traumatic brain injury (TBI) from domestic violence goes unreported, resulting in brain injury symptoms that can last a lifetime.
I am a TBI domestic violence survivor. I have not had agencies discuss traumatic brain injury with me. I mentioned it to them and they said, “Oh, you have PTSD from all the years of intimate partner violence.”
Here are some of the symptoms that I had:
- Loss of consciousness
- Balance issues/dizziness
- Memory issues
- Mood issues
- Problems with reading, writing and numbers
- Slurred speech
- Sleep issues
- Nausea, vomiting
I knew I needed help and that all my symptoms were not just PTSD. As an outpatient of a brain injury rehabilitation facility, I completed cognitive, behavioral & emotional programs as well as speech and vision therapy.
Here is a link to learn more TBI symptoms: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/tbi/conditioninfo/symptoms
This blog is to alert domestic violence survivors to seek medical help for possible traumatic brain injury and for agencies to implement programs to screen for TBI, if you have not done so already.
*”Domestic violence (DV) is a common cause of brain injury in women, who constitute the vast majority of victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
Domestic violence service providers.
Screen everyone who seeks DV services for TBI. A brief screening tool that was designed to be used by professionals who are not TBI experts is the HELPS.2
HELPS is an acronym for the most important questions to ask:
H = Were you hit in the head?
E = Did you seek emergency room treatment?
L = Did you lose consciousness? (Not everyone who suffers a TBI loses consciousness.)
P = Are you having problems with concentration and memory?
S = Did you experience sickness or other physical problems following the injury?
If you suspect a victim has a brain injury, or they answer “yes” to any of these questions, help them get an evaluation by a medical or neuropsychological professional – especially if they have suffered repeated brain injuries, which may decrease their ability to recover and increase their risk of death. If the victim wishes, reach out to the TBI service provider with information about DV, what support they need, and what services are available to them. Look for ways to work together.”* *https://www.opdv.ny.gov/professionals/tbi/dvandtbi_infoguide.html
Stalking is defined as: harass or persecute (someone) with unwanted and obsessive attention; move silently or threateningly through (a place)
Some signs of stalking are:
- Follows you as you travel
- Sends you unwanted text messages, cards, and emails.
- Sends you unwanted gifts, like flowers.
- Uses social media/GPS to track you.
- Constantly calls you and hangs up; or leaves voicemails.
- Appears in places, they should not be; waiting outside of your employment, church, house.
Stalkers control their victims, try to trap them and become threatening in many ways.
Your school life, work, social life, and daily functions are affected.
There is always a fear of what might happen should the stalker find you.
The feeling of being hunted can cripple you.
Stalking is illegal in every state.
Get the police involved and make sure to find out their jurisdiction. You may have to involve multiple locations.
Victim advocates are very helpful. They can provide assistance with safety issues.
Always know it is not your fault. You did not cause this person to become a stalker.
You may have to relocate, as I did. A restraining order did not stop my abuser/stalker.
My stalker appeared where he was not supposed to be. I was a confident, strong woman who became fearful of shopping, going to church, in fear of answering the door and spent many sleepless nights wondering if my stalker was outside. I alerted people ahead of time of where I was going so they could be on the lookout for my stalker.
I always was looking around everywhere I went, even when driving until I went into hiding.
I am still very cautious when answering the door after relocating. I have heard of stalkers finding their victims years later, so I stay alert to my surroundings.
You can feel panic at any time, even years later. Telling my story encourages and strengthens me, knowing that I can help others. I know that God is protecting me wherever I go. Praying daily has helped me gain back my confidence.
Here are some ways to keep safe:
- Stop all communication with the stalker.
- Remove yourself from social media.
- Alert your friends, employer, and family members that you are being stalked.
- Change places you shop, routes you drive and times of your activities.
- Get some training in self-defense.
- Keep track of all interactions with your stalker, even if you do not think they mean anything. In the future, you may realize that minor incident was leading up to something major. Stalkingawareness.org has resources, such as a “Stalking Incident and Behavior Log”.
- Go to the local authorities.
- Get a protective/restraining order. The difference between protective and restraining orders is explained here: https://victimconnect.org/resources/protection-orders
- Become part of the address confidentiality program: http://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center/help-for-victims/address-confidentiality-programs
- Take back your power.
Written by C.L. Valens; Advocate, Author and Speaker. “I am in hiding for Domestic Violence and Stalking. Relocation and a permanent restraining order have not stopped my abuser/stalker. The arrest cases were dropped for lack of evidence. After the last arrest and release, I asked the district attorney, ‘What will it take for you to stop him, for him to kill me?’ I got no response and stay alert to my surroundings every day.”
Holidays and Domestic Violence
Holidays and Domestic Violence
Holidays are a time for celebration with friends and relatives. For domestic violence victims, it can be exhausting and dangerous.
Your abuser may appear as a perfect person in people’s eyes. Pay attention to what they are doing. Are they drinking too much? Are they arguing with people?
When I realized my abuser was getting drunk, I asked him to leave the celebration. Sometimes he would leave before he was out of control. Other times, he would ignore me.
He would always remind me how I embarrassed him. No one knew about the abuse. I dreaded all invitations because of the years of abusive behavior.
When we spent birthdays and holidays at home, I feared what the abuser would do to ruin another celebration.
Now that I am away from my abuser, I can enjoy holidays, even if I am alone.
If you are living with your abuser, I pray for your protection. May you find peace and healing this holiday season, if you have escaped the abuse.
Domestic Violence and Homelessness
“Domestic and sexual violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children, and the need for safe and affordable housing is one of the most pressing concerns for survivors of violence and abuse.”*
“This video provides an understanding of the connections between domestic and sexual violence and safe, affordable housing, and provides tools for advocates working at this intersection”**:
The Intersection of Homelessness and Domestic Violence
Nobody should have to choose between living in abuse and being homeless. We all can do our part to bring awareness to helping those of us who flee abuse. Many survivors have young children. Many have not worked outside of the home. Many stay because being homeless is not an option for them.
Click here for PDF download of infographic*
The role of stigma in domestic violence
“We can all work together to raise awareness and reduce domestic violence.”
C.L. Valens, Innov-E Foundation’s Executive Director, was featured recently in internationally known Healing Stigma’s blog: The role of stigma in domestic violence: How one survivor left an abusive marriage & is now helping others.
Trigger warning: “I was slowly dying inside, crying every day, and my health was failing.”
“….the man behind the smile was a brutally different person.”
As a survivor of domestic violence, CL’s mission in life is to help other survivors heal from abuse and take their life back. Her book, “Domestic Violence Survivor Handbook, Steps to Freedom” is the just the beginning of CL’s many ways she is helping victims become survivors.
#spousalabuse #domesticviolence #stopthestigma #domesticabuse
Mental Health and Domestic Violence
Feeling his hands around my neck saying, “I am going to kill you b….”, living in fear, knowing I might not see the next day! That is how I felt many years. When I finally got away, I did not realize how scared I was of my abuser. Just the thought of him made me tremble to my inner core. Seeing him, made my legs so weak I could not walk.
Standing against a wall after getting a temporary restraining order, trying not to pass out, I realized that this was the end of my abuse and the beginning of a new life. I was making a statement that I would no longer tolerate abuse of any kind. I was scared, not knowing the next move, I realized that no matter what happened I had to get away and never look back. Appearing in court with him was more than my body and mind could handle. After the first arrest for stalking, with the restraining order in place, the court accepted my plea not to appear with my abuser in court again. For that, I am grateful.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and that was a reminder for me to realize how much I have healed both mentally and physically. PTSD is something I will live with the rest of my life, but fortunately, I have learned ways to cope with it. I found many ways to heal alternatively and I want to help others learn those ways and become survivors, leaving the victim mentally behind.
One way that was healing for me was to write, “Domestic Violence Survivor Handbook, Steps to Freedom“. If you are a victim of abuse and trying to find your way to freedom, please check out my book.