Advice for navigating transitions in work, life, and relationships from Dr. Loretta L.C. Brady and her team members at BDS Insight.
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Someone wanted to write in, but they are too afraid. This is a column for the person who can’t ask the question.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A friend of mine is promoting a great awareness campaign; purple lips to raise awareness – sure to start a great conversation around the school or office. Latasha Jackson of Fort Worth, TX, lost her parents to domestic violence when her father murdered her mother and then killed himself. Her mother died trying to protect her children and now my friend runs an organization called “ I Am Cheryl’s Voice” because that is her calling now that her mother Cheryl can’t speak for herself.
Last week a young woman from Nashua was identified as Brenda Gerow, a murder victim missing from 34 years ago. When she went missing she was the same age as my mom. At the same time Brenda was moving to Arizona, my mom was fleeing domestic violence from a step-parent at a time and in a state where there was little awareness of the coercion and control cycle that abusers use to keep their victims tied to them even when there is danger.
I am lucky; I still have my mom despite the brutal treatment she survived at the hands of some of her partners. But I also love a family member still under siege of a violent relationship and even though it’s decades since Cheryl’s mom, my mom, and Brenda Gerow were under attack, there is little changed about the pattern of intimate partner violence that permeates our culture– except that now victims don’t have to only be living with their abusers, thanks to the far reach of mobile technology.
Today victims have a legal system that understands coercion and control, but we operate in a world where we still are more likely to ignore controlling behavior than to confront them. We still tend to presume a victim is responsible for the abuse if they return to their partner, rather than understanding how dangerous leaving can be. Data on how frequent “DV” is during pregnancy and how often DV abusers harm children to contain and control their target victim reveals just how insidious and treacherous this bond can be for victims.
One thing that has changed in the years since DV became a term, and since shelters opened for those fleeing their partners? Survival rates of men. Women kill their partners far less often in communities with accessible DV shelter care than when there are no shelters, or they are inaccessible. And no, DV isn’t a male problem. Women are violent to their male partners at similar rates as men are to their female partners, they are just not as lethal when they are violent. It’s an unpopular statement, but the research on violence and control tactics is convincing.
I didn’t have a reader question this week, but this was on my mind. Stories of new tragedies, reminders of old ones, and knowledge that anyone can be a victim have me thinking.
I am thinking about how brave survivors are, whether they have left their abusive partner or not. My lips are purple in honor of those who leave, in solidarity with those who stay, and in grief for those of us who mourn those lost to this preventable problem. Support programs that help children to be confident in their worth, to be clear in their boundaries, and to trust themselves when they sense threat. If you need one I shamelessly suggest the Granite YMCA; Full disclosure, I am a board member and this is a Capital Campaign year and I want them to realize their vision for youth development!
If you recognize signals of coercion and control in your relationship, know you are not alone and not to blame. You can’t love an abusive partner into gentleness. You can’t change their behavior by being “better” than you are. This isn’t the same as saying that an abusive partner can’t change; but change happens only through professional support and accountability. If you are in a dangerous relationship work with your local crisis center to develop a safety plan; leaving abruptly isn’t always the safest strategy so get help problem solving lots of ways to improve your options and decrease the risk to you and your loved ones.
→Women’s Safety Clinic Oct. 6 organized by Manchester Police Department to be held at the Traning Station. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 603-668-8711.
Alright, it’s your turn. I hope you’ll join me in seeking clarity for the shifts you are navigating.
Readers of Manchester Ink Link seek relevant, local, and pragmatic reporting. Carol Robidoux provides layered reports that allow all of us to feel not only part of the story, but partners in resolution. My hope is that this column will serve as a compass for readers seeking clarity in the chaos of their businesses, personal lives, or relationships. From time to time we will have guest columnists offer their insight on a challenge. This information is simply opinion, but I hope you will share your stories so that others can gain clarity for themselves. Questions are powerful. We hope you will share yours here.
Loretta L.C. Brady owns BDS Insight a culture, crisis, and conflict management firm in Manchester. She is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Saint Anselm College. She, her husband Brian Brady, and their 5 children live and work in Manchester.
The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. This column, its author, the newspaper and publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. Dr. Loretta L.C. Brady, clinical and organizational psychologist, offers her and guest columnist opinions on a variety of current event and reader submitted subjects. She and they are expressing personal and professional opinions and views. Manchester Ink Link and Dr. Loretta L.C. Brady are not responsible for the outcome or results of following the advice of this column in any given situation.
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