October 27, 2009


In all the years that I was with my husband, almost 11 in total, I can't think of a time when I felt respected by him. My children had a visit with their father this past Saturday October 24th, and for the first time in 11 years, I felt he showed me respect. It may seem like, "Okay, so what?" But if you don't understand what it feels like to never be respected by someone, you don't know how amazing it feels when they do.

It may also seem like no big deal in which that respect came, but again, it was a big deal to me. The Sunday that my son was admitted to the hospital which was October 11th, his father came down for a planned visit with the kids. At first I just thought that my son would be checked out at the hospital and that we'd be out of there in an hour or so and that maybe he wouldn't run around and play with everyone else. But since it turned out he was admitted, the visit then became a hospital one.

I mentioned in a previous post that for the first visit with the kids he showed up with his mother. I was cool, went along with it and didn't give any attitude about it, but I didn't expect his visits with the kids to include others, especially in the beginning. So I expressed to him after the visit that I would like if he could just let it be him and the kids for a little while. There's a lot of repair that needs to take place between him and them and they are confused enough about him, let alone throwing in other people from his side of the family right away.

Their grandmother made no attempt whatsoever to contact the children since we left. We even contacted her once while we were in shelter and got her voice mail, and she never returned the call. She never called to see if they were okay and never called to say hi or wish any of them a happy birthday. So this is not someone that I felt my kids needed to be around right away.

I am protecting them from toxic people, and I don't care who the person is or what their relationship to them is. If they don't love or even like my kids, they aren't going to be around them, period. She cut them off and kicked them to the curb right along with me. If she can cut off her love from them so easily, then that's toxic in my book.

I also didn't want him to show up with his daughter from his previous relationship. She is 20 years old and she has never accepted our children. When he first told her that we were pregnant with Justina when she was 13 years old, she was not happy and went home crying to her mother and she called him about it. Mind you, he hadn't been in a relationship with her mother for at least 5 years at this point. Now I am sympathetic to and understand that kids suffer from the breakup of their parents for a long time, sometimes forever, and they all go through it in their own ways.

But she didn't accept and wasn't happy about our first, second or third child. A few weeks after we had Joshua, she basically wrote her father a Dear John letter, that he never let me see, he hid it and didn't even tell me about it until about 2 months later when I inquired as to why she didn't show up for Solomon's birthday. He had already talked about it with his friends and mother. I was only his wife, I guess I wasn't on the need to know list.

From what he told me her letter said, she felt abandoned by him and he had a new family now and she didn't want anything to do with him or us anymore. He wouldn't tell me what she said about me, but I'm sure it wasn't pretty. Her mother never accepted me and was disrespectful and mean to me from day one and taught her daughter to be the same way.

Although she was their big sister and had a bit of a relationship with Justina and Solomon, like their grandmother did, she cut them off when she cut me and him off. They didn't hear from her in over a year or so, and when they finally did, it was because he was on the phone talking to her and put the kids on the phone to say hi to her. He always delivered them to her after that, she never came around to see them anymore, and I didn't appreciate that. Because again, if you don't love or like my children, then don't be around them.


Anyhow, after I had expressed to him that I would like if he could come alone for the visits for now, he got an attitude and accused me of trying to exert "power and control," he loves that word combo. I told him that it had nothing to do with that, that it was about the kids and him right now. Well, he ignored me and showed up for the second visit with his mother AND his niece.

He was going to show me who was in charge. Not only would he bring his mother again, he'd bring someone else too. So you can probably see how this was going to turn out. It would be a circus. He would bring more and more people and feel smug that I just had to sit there and take it. He would disrespect me and my wishes and enjoy every minute of it.

So it was time for me to nip this in the bud before it got out of hand. I reminded Jeff that I had sole legal custody of the children and in case he didn't know what that meant, it meant that I made the calls about everything concerning their lives. No one shared that authority with me, not the courts and not him. I could say who they could be around and who they could not. I told him that if he would like to keep disrespecting me, that he could show up at the next visit with a whole carload of people, but that he would not like what was going to happen.

Being the type of guy he is and always has been with me, I was expecting to see his mother again when he pulled up, and I was fully prepared to follow through on what I intended to do if he did. Well, to my pleasant surprise, he was alone this time. It was like a miracle. Jeff had showed me the respect I was due as the mother of his children for the first time ever!

And remember those sunglasses that he always wore for the entire time he visited with the kids? Well he wasn't wearing those either! I had told him in the email in which I talked about the visits, that if he wanted to keep playing mystery dad with the kids, that was his choice, but that it didn't seem like a wise way to build closeness, it really created more distance. The kids were so used to seeing him wear them, that they told me Solomon asked him where his glasses were. I guess he wised up.

I remember being about 4 or 5 months pregnant with Justina, our first child. Jeff and I were homeless, staying in one of those hostels in NY. His ex had called about 11:30pm while we were in bed and there was no emergency. She just used her position as the "mother of his child" to call and chit chat with him at an hour that would be disrespectful to his current partner.

When he finally got off the phone with her about 20-30 minutes later, I said to him that since there was no emergency that he should've let her know that it was too late to call, that he was in bed and that she could talk to him in the morning. Well what did I say that for? He proceeded to tell me, so what it wasn't an emergency? She was the mother of his child and she could call whenever she felt like it. When I tried to tell him that it was disrespectful to me and he was showing her that it was alright to disrespect me by engaging her, he just got angrier and yelled more.

He ended up hitting me and again fought with me - his pregnant soon to be "mother of his child," over the rights of a woman he was no longer in a relationship with, but whom he respected more than he would ever respect me, regardless of the fact that I became the "mother of his child" 4 times. That was emotionally one of the more painful fights I remember. There were so many of them I can't recall all the triggers for them, but I remember that one because I was pregnant and it was over "her." I got hit and hurt because I said something about her and what she shouldn't be doing.

So even if he did it out of fear of what I might do if he showed up with his mother again, doesn't matter to me. This man showed me respect for the first time and it was a nice feeling. There's a heaviness that is lifted and there's no trouble or tension when there's no disrespect. All I had known in my relationship with him was that heaviness, that tension and nervous feeling that something could happen at any moment because of the lack of respect for me as a woman, his wife, the mother of his children, a human being, and a child of God.

Again, it's sad that for him to show it, there had to be a consequence for doing things his way hanging over his head. Why can’t he just do it on his own to do the right thing by me? But whatever, he did it and it was good for me.

I wonder what it was like for him?

October 26, 2009

Spousal ~ Child Support Round 5

Whew! It has been a very exhausting month. The kids and I are finally starting to feel better after a month of the flu, high fevers and a sinus infection for which I am still taking antibiotics.

Getting right back to business, we have our fifth and I pray final appearance before the support magistrate this Wednesday October 28th. I won't be driving up to NY for this one; I'll be down here on the phone again. I don't even care about hearing everything. Usually it's just Jeff appearing with some nonsense that the judge yells at him for while I sit there silently.
The last time we were in court the judge told me that I could fax any information that I had for her to the number on the paperwork. I had to send a package. I had too much stuff to fax. I don't know if it will help or not, nothing can really prove how much he makes because it's under the table, but I hoped to at least show how he spends and what some of the needs and expenses are for me and the kids. If nothing else, it is my opportunity to have my say in this case that's been going on since June.

My husband had called me a few times and actually tried to convince me that I should sign some sort of support deal with him outside of this and drop this case. He tried to tell me how it would be more beneficial for both of us that way. According to him, I could get more money upfront if I dealt with him rather than waiting for the child support system to dole it out to me in pieces. And if he were to get locked up for nonpayment, then I wouldn't get anything because he would be unable to make money.

Pause and think about that for a second. After all that has happened, does he still think I'm stupid? He used to call me dumb, stupid and idiot, those were the more decent names he called me. But he must've really believed it when he said it and wasn't just saying it only to be mean, hurtful and abusive.

I didn't even need a half a second to see how ridiculous his proposal was on so many levels. Number one, he is a liar and I would never make a deal with a liar. Number two, if I made a deal with him in which he is swearing he would pay me, how is that any different from him giving the money to the support collection unit? Why would he end up in jail for not paying me if his intention is to pay me?

Number three, I'd have no recourse if he didn't pay me. Oh, but I would according to him. My recourse would be to file for the support in court all over again. Was he smoking crack? After 6 months of this, I'm supposed to drop it with only days to go, to enter into some "legal" deal with him in which we sign some papers saying he's going to pay me, and when he doesn't, I'm supposed to drive back up to NY and file for support all over again and take it from the top?

LOL!!! That was hilarious. I told him thanks, but I was fine with things the way they were and had no desire to do anything different at this point in time. I reminded him that I tried to work things out with him regarding everything back in July to no avail. He's just afraid the judge is going to put him in a work program, which would be like worse than hell for someone like him.

I don't know what God plans to do as far as this goes, but there ain't a thing I can do about it, it's all completely in His hands, just as everything else has been thus far. And I think God's been doing a pretty good job so far with all this legal crap that Jeff started. The score is Tee - 2, Jeff - 0. God knows what we need, He knows when we need it, He knows what we need it for and He knows exactly every way in which he intends to provide it. I just have to keep trusting, believing and standing.

As I said before, I'm living my life as if Jeff will never provide anything for us. That way, anything that comes is just extra. I'm believing God to lead me to the job that I should have as I search for one. It is literally like finding a needle in a haystack out here, so I absolutely need His help on this. I don't know how, I don't know why and I don't know when things will change for us. But at least I can say I know Who will change them.

Well only two days to go for the hearing now, I'll let you know what happens...

October 9, 2009

Can't Teach An Old Dog

I thought that perhaps based on the tiny interaction that I had with my husband when he came for the visit with the children, that maybe he had come to some realizations and made a change for the better. Someone that he has been working with expressed to me that he believed he was in a better place after learning some things.

All I can say is that unless someone has a change of heart, there will be no change of nature or character.

I decided to test the waters to see if he had indeed changed at all. I initiated some emails between us and based on the things that I touched on, his responses to it would reveal to me what was going on behind the sunglasses.

Well let's just say that a leopard really doesn't change it's spots. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Once a liar always a liar. Add whatever proverb that talks about people remaining the same ad infinitum. They all apply to him.

His responses clearly let me know that he is still in the same sad place. He still accuses me of being angry, even though my emails to him have the same tone that I write these blogs in. He accuses me of wanting to exercise power and control over him. He accuses me of manipulating the children and the court system against him.

He throws out there that I can go to the court and tell them that he's a good daddy, so that he can have unsupervised visits and sleepovers with the children immediately, because he says he has never harmed them. He still doesn't realize the incredible amount of trauma his children have suffered because of him. He must think that all 6 year old girls want to kill their fathers! He must think that it's normal for kids to be in therapy because of their home life.

He continues to lie to me about things I supposedly said or did, telling me that I was refusing to take money from him that he was trying to give me, that I was telling him I didn't want any support from him and wouldn't cash checks he was giving me. He gave me one check for $500 back in January. I cashed it in January and used it. So I don't know what he's talking about or what's the point in him making up these things. It's so much easier to deal with the truth. He's truly pathological and disturbed. But it doesn't make me angry, I feel so sorry for him. He is pitiful.

This is a man that sees nothing wrong with hitting a pregnant woman. How low can you go? Most people see pregnant women as delicate and should be treated with care. Well, I guess no one told him that. He fought me through all four of my pregnancies with his children, whether early, mid or late term. He fought me 2 days after I gave birth to our 3rd child and began hitting me in the head repeatedly as I sat in the rocking chair nursing our newborn. He never gave me a moment of peace, unless he was high. Weed was like his medication. I was afraid when it ran out.

Here are a couple of direct quotes from him in these recent email exchanges (words of Jeff in blue):

"The fact of the matter is we can agree we were in a bad marriage and it needed to stop."
LOL! Again, he doesn't see his abuse as the reason why things were bad. We were just in this "bad marriage," for no real reason. I guess in his mind there are good marriages in which abuse takes place. I guess those are the ones in which the women take their beatings quietly.

"We both want nothing to do with abusive behavior or a dysfunctional relationship of any kind in our lives anymore, and we have achieved the foundation for that reality in the choices we have made."
LOL! He has the audacity to say that he wants nothing to do with an abusive relationship in his life anymore, but yet he was the one creating the abuse. WE achieved that foundation by the choices we made? Uh, I think my leaving the abuse made the choice. If I didn't leave he probably would have fought me yesterday, be having a fight with me today, and starting a fight tomorrow.

"We tried on our own and that didn't work. We tried counseling that didn't work."
LOL! There's that "we" word again. We didn't try anything. I went to counseling and support groups on my own. Toward the end we were attending "marriage counseling" sessions at the church, but he'd sometimes fight me right after those. We didn't need marriage counseling, he needed batterers counseling all by himself. He didn't try to change that behavior, he just wanted me to stop being mad about it. That's what didn't work.

"As it is said, there are three sides to every story, two accounts and the truth. You say I never loved you, I say I have, (two sides of the story). The truth is, I don't have to justify the true love I have had for you anymore than you need to justify your feelings of not being truly loved."
LOL! Clearly in his mind, you can love someone and abuse them at the same time. You can love your wife and fracture her rib. You can love your wife and fight her while she is carrying your child. You can love your wife and spit on her. You can love your wife and call her a b!t%h. So according to him, my side - that he didn't love me isn't true, and his side of saying that he did, isn't true either. He says the truth is, he doesn't have to justify the love he had for me.

"You knowingly have had all the power through out this, not the system. That's why you placed the restraining order on me against the children. You can still tell "the system" anytime that I am fit to have them spend weekends with me right now, and it would put an end to Solomon, Joshi and Stini spending limited public time with me immediately."
LOL! He says I have knowingly had the power through out this, not the system. Well, I don't know where he gets that from. He's the one that introduced the courts into our lives, but somehow he manages to keep forgetting that. He went and hired a lawyer and filed for custody of our kids against me. All I did was tell the truth. I had to say why my children and I were in shelter. It wasn't because I suddenly got tired of having a place to live and thought living in a shelter would be fun. We were in a place to be protected from him.

I had to get an order of protection so that he would stop harassing me. He called me 24 times on the day I was at the courthouse. I was told to go to the Safe Horizon office within the court and they would help me. They asked me what happened and I told them. They typed it up and sent me down to the courtroom with my petition. I never had one before, I thought it would instruct him to stop bothering me. But the judge felt based on what he had done to me and the children, that he should be ordered to stay away from all of us completely.

Now that it all didn't work out as he planned, then it was all part of my diabolical and ingenious plan to keep him away from his kids while I take over the world. Then he says I can let the system know that he is a nominee for father of the year and should have sleepovers with his kids right now. LOL!

Oy vey! Dealing with him is exasperating, but very funny at the same time. Funny in a head shaking sad way.

In any event, it was expressed to me that because he has turned over a new leaf and was happy now, that perhaps we didn't have to go back to court again and I could work out the support with him. I didn't believe that when it was told to me and I know for a fact it is an impossibility. Besides why would I do that after we've come this far? That would be utter stupidity on my part to drop the petition now, with only 19 days to go. Four court appearances since I filed in April, this should really be the last one now.

He won't do the right thing unless he is ordered, then he will be afraid to do the wrong thing. His word is not his bond. His word is worthless because he has never kept it and he is not an honorable man. So I will go on over to the Domestic Relations office today to put in my papers for electronic testimony. I'm not driving up to NY again for this. And God will do whatever He has already decided to do, regardless of what Jeff shows up with this time.

I told him that I will continue to pray for his redemption, because he needs it, but also because it allows God to continue to heal me. There is an exchange that takes place when we pray for our enemies and those who hurt us. We give God our pain and He gives us comfort, joy, and peace. That is why when we can feel good in spite of things being done that are bad, it surpasses all natural understanding.

He is supposed to start his Domestic Violence course on Monday. It's ironic and appropriate because October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. I just hope that he gets some truth and understanding out of this class from the standpoint of the victims. Most men aren't in these classes voluntarily, so there is no real desire to change. They are there because they are ordered by the court and will usually just go along and play the game, often becoming better at lying and manipulating others. He definitely fits the profile of one that would become a better batterer.

But as I said before, he's in God's hands. All I can do is pray for him because he will go back and forth with me until the end of time trying to convince me of how wrong I was to behave angrily toward him. He doesn't care at all that I also had low self esteem and felt sad, numb, dumb, helpless, afraid, despair, and depressed. Why? Because those things don't help make me out to be his abuser, they make me his victim.

All the talking in the world will just go over his head because he is completely blind and in total darkness. As the devil is a liar, there is no truth to be found in him either.

When we lay down with the devil, we wake up with evil.

October 5, 2009

Gotta Say It Was a Good Day

So Saturday my children, my husband and I took the first step on a long road to rebuilding their tattered and torn relationship with him. And it turned out to be a surprisingly nice day. The weather was perfect, so that added to the sunny feeling. I was anxious while getting ready because I hadn't seen my husband outside of court since February 5th, the night he was served with my order of protection, and we argued before I went over to the precinct. Since that time we hadn't spoken at all and when I would see him in court, I didn't get any positive energy from him.

He had texted me to say that he was about an hour behind schedule, which was fine because I was running late and beginning to feel even more anxiety which was turning into a headache. After he called to let us know he had arrived, I got the kids in the van and we got there about 15 minutes later.

Being that I had never seen his new car, I didn't know which one was his, so we were looking for a blue car. I didn't see him sitting in any of the cars in the parking lot as I drove up, but as I parked I noticed his mother sitting in the passenger side of a blue Volvo station wagon. I wasn't happy to see her initially, because it felt like an ambush.

When I tried to tell his mother about his abusive behavior towards me about 2 years ago, after he started a huge argument with me on the first and only Mother's Day she ever spent with us, she didn't want to hear about it.

Since she hadn't tried to contact me or the children since we left her son, for their birthdays, to see if we were okay or anything, I felt that she must have believed his version of history - that I was abusing him and therefore considered me the "bad" wife. So I didn't know what to expect. I certainly thought his visits with the children were going to be just between him and them.

In any event, it turned out that she and I spent most of the time talking while he visited with the kids. We didn't talk talk, you know about the 800 lb. elephant in the room, but we talked about stuff and again it was surprisingly not too awkward.

After my husband walked out into the parking lot from the fun center, they got some things out of the car and came over to greet us. They had quite a few bags of toys and clothing that had to be loaded into our trunk. Once that was done, instead of going straight into the fun center, my husband asked if we could go over to the adjacent park since it was such a beautiful day, to which of course I consented. He played with the kids and they played with him. He let them take turns "driving" his car around the parking lot. After a while the kids told him they wanted to go into the fun center.

Before we went, there was a moment when we were all seated at the same picnic table. To break the ice, I asked Solomon if he wanted to sing his remix of Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone?" To which his father replied, "Oh, he did. He rocked it." So I suggested Solomon do it again for his grandmother. So Solomon began to sing his special take on the song once more and his father began to play a beat on the table. It was a nice moment, we cheered for him when it was over. Then it was over to the fun center where they played some more. They were having a genuinely good time and I was very glad about that. Justina was even calling him dad and interacting the whole time.

At one point at the fun center, I was at a table with baby Emmanuel, Justina and his mother. He came over to the table and I asked him, "Would you like to hold your son?" He took Emmanuel and went over to the kids and played with them and Manny for a couple minutes, then sat down with him for a few more minutes. When Manny began to get upset, he handed him back over to me. He made no acknowledgement, but I know in his heart, when he looked in that baby's face, he could see his own face, except smaller, fatter and much cuter.

When it was almost time to go, Solomon got very upset and cried as he usually does when his visits with his father come to an end. He is a little boy who really misses having his father in his life on a daily basis and has a lot of pain there. He's the sensitive kid in the middle. Joshua is too young, wasn't as affected by the violence, and has a very happy nature and doesn't care either way. Justina was the oldest and was so affected, she wanted nothing to do with him. But Solomon was just the right age to be affected and yet still want to be with him.

He told me that he wanted to go home with his father just for a day. I told him that he would be able to do that soon, but not right now, because he has to be back in school on Monday. He understood, but he was still sad. His father took him aside and talked to him for a little while and he calmed down some more. Then my husband came over and told me that if he's really upset and freaking out, to just let him call him.

When it finally came time for the visit to end, instead of only 3 hours, they had spent about 4 & 1/2 hours together. Their father thanked me, he smiled and talked to Manny and said goodbye to him and the kids. His mom and I hugged, and the kids left happy while playing with some of the new toys they had received.

It was a nice time, nothing to complain about. The one thing that would make it better would be for my husband to take off his sunglasses in the future. He had them on the entire time whether indoors or out and to me that's a strange way to visit with your kids. There are no paparazzi following him around, so no need for the incognito tip.

Justina said she asked him, "Why do you have your sunglasses on?" She said he told her that he didn't have anywhere to put them. ??? How about leave them in the car? I hope at some point he will realize that it's weird and inappropriate to keep them on while spending time with his kids and take them off so that they can really have a visit with all of him and be able to look into his eyes when he tells them that he loves them.

But all in all, I have to say it was a good day and a great first step toward salvaging and mending what we can of the children's broken relationship with their father, their broken lives and their broken hearts.

(The photo of the children with their father was taken at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on April 10, 2008.)

October 3, 2009

Daddy Claus Is Coming To Town

Well at about noon today, my children and I will head over to a family fun center where they will have their first supervised visit with their father since July 27th. Unlike the other supervised visits, this one will occur down here in PA instead of NY and there won't be anyone there who is a part of the "system." This visit will be supervised by me, so it will almost be like any other time in our past when we've taken them to Chuck E. Cheese or some place else.

The differences today and from now on will be the lack of interaction between their father and me and I will be carrying an order of protection. Hopefully that will ensure that on this family outing, there will be no arguing, as it was so common on outings in the past.

I'll sit off in one location and when he sits with them in between playing, it will be in another. The kids haven't been around us together since we left home in January, I hope this won't be too difficult for them. It will be strange for all of us, but I believe we'll get through it.

I asked the kids if they are excited to see their dad and I got mixed responses. Justina says, "No," Solomon says, "Not really, I'm a little scared," and Joshua with his customary ear to ear smile says, "Yes!" I try to calm their fears and reassure them that everything will be alright. That nothing bad will happen because we are in a public place and daddy doesn't want to get in trouble. I tell them that he is coming to see them so that they can have fun and he's not going to mess that up. I hope that I'm right.

We prayed over the visit the past few nights and we prayed again last night. Although for some batterers an order of protection means nothing and the thirst for revenge or desire to punish their former abusee for leaving them is worth going to jail for in their minds, I don't think my husband fits into that category.  I think he loves himself, his life and his freedom too much to violate it by starting anything with me. But I can only say that is what I believe, it's not what I know. He has said and done things since this all started in an attempt to punish me that I wouldn't have thought he'd do. So you never really know someone completely, I guess.

I hope my husband focuses on the love he had for them and not the hate he has for me. His negative feelings towards me has caused him to act spitefully in ways that have hurt his children. So I hope he remembers that apart from me, that he did love these children at some time in his life. Again, at least I believe he did. But I used to believe he loved me too. Reality is often a hard pill to swallow.

I am trusting God on this and I guess that is where my belief is coming from more so than my husband's nature. I have entrusted this visit and all that occurs today into His hands and believe that all will go smoothly. And above all, I really want my kids to have a good time and a fun visit with their father.

I will let you know how it went...

October 1, 2009

This Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is currently recognized as domestic violence awareness month. So many people lose their lives due to family violence that virtually all of us are or will be touched by it directly or indirectly at some point in time. It may be a friend, family member, classmate, neighbor, co-worker, or member of your church. You may know the victim or you may know the perpetrator. That's why it's important for people to become aware and educated about the various dynamics that are involved.

You may be in a position to help someone find their way out of an abusive life, the way a friend of mine helped me. You can carry hotline numbers in your cell phone and give them to someone who may need it. You may be in a position to talk to the batterer that you know and advise him to get help. You may be able to donate money, your time, clothing, food, toys, bedding, etc., to an organization that helps victims.

Maybe you can be that shoulder to cry on for someone that confides in you about their situation. If you are, do me a favor, don't ever ask them what did they do to make the person who abused them mad, don't ask them why do they stay. Don't make them feel in any way that they are at fault for what has been happening to them. What you can do is listen, let them know that they aren't alone and you will help them get out if they want to.

I lost a cousin to domestic violence many years ago. She had a violent boyfriend that used to beat her. Well one day this man shot her in the apartment they lived in with her 3 young children (ages 5, 3 & 18 mos.) - the 2 youngest were his daughter and son. He blew a hole in her with a sawed off shot gun and then left, leaving those terrified and traumatized babies alone with their dying mother. I can't imagine the fear and shock those children were in. It still makes me cry to think about what they went through.

The friend we are staying with also lost a friend to a violent husband. She was planning to leave him. She was doing it more methodically and was almost done with all she felt she needed to do before leaving. But it wasn't soon enough. Her husband shot and killed her, then killed himself, leaving their two young sons orphans.

Sometimes people forget that usually there are children in these homes where violence is occurring. These are the smallest and most innocent of victims. It is terrifying for children to witness adults fighting, let alone their parents. My children experienced it their entire lives and that breaks my heart much more than anything that was done to me.

When my daughter tells me that at times she was under her covers crying and trembling while hearing her father fighting me, it makes me cry. She was the only little girl in the house and this is her introduction to what a man is and how he treats women. I was supposed to be daddy's girl and she was supposed to be daddy's little girl. Yet we were nothing to him. During one of his violent episodes she and I huddled in the kitchen on the floor next to a window. He came over and dragged me across the floor, and as she clung to me screaming, he just dragged us both. This was about a week before Christmas.

I think of all the times when she was a baby and toddler before her brother was born. Then even after he was born, but still too young to be a companion to her. How frightening it had to be with no one to hide with while daddy hit mommy. My daughter said that she hates her father. I am trying to help her move past those feelings through forgiveness so that she can be free.

My little boys who may have been too young to clearly articulate it's affect on them, other than to say they were scared and it makes them sad, have also been deeply wounded. They naturally looked up to daddy as little boys are expected to. Daddy was supposed to show them how to treat women. But daddy didn't know himself and showed them the wrong way, so I guess I'll have to.

I'm saddened at the fact that my cousin, like so many other women, have lost their lives at the hands of stupid, angry and violent men. Women who didn't make it out in time or didn't know how to get out. I thank God that I had someone help me. Thank you Shei, I love you girl!!! You saved us!

So please take a minute to follow a link and read a little bit so that maybe you can be that lifeline to someone else one day.

http://www.safehorizon.org/ - This organization was the one I called after I was given the hotline number by a good friend. They offered to get me and the children into a safe and confidential location. It was in that moment in time that I decided I could actually leave my husband. We were in a secret shelter within 2 days. Having some place to go made the difference.

http://www.tplv.org/index - After leaving NY and coming to PA, I was told about this organization. They offered counseling and support groups for victims in addition to shelter. My children and I were able to continue the counseling we started in NY with some great people down here. Because the damage inflicted by domestic violence goes so much deeper than the physical wounds, being in counseling is so very important. Every person that has experienced DV should have someone to talk to that understands them.

http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org/ - This organization works to bring about social change in the area of domestic violence by giving a voice to those affected by family violence. They bring the much needed attention to these issues to the legislators and politicians on every level of government to bring about the changes that are so necessary. The website is full of tragic news stories that are sad examples of family violence to the extreme. People lose their lives everyday because of this, it's more prevalent than you can imagine and it's so under reported.

The following links deal with the effects domestic violence has on children.

These links are to various organizations that provide information, resources, and help.