Category Archives: Domestic Violence

Is He Abusive? Signs of Relationship Danger

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

When I worked with batterers, people always asked why the women stayed.  Why didn’t they ask why the offenders were violent? Is it because it’s easier to blame the victim? Is it because these abusive men scare us as much as they scare their victims, so it’s easier to confront the victims?

Women (and I mainly talk about women—because my experience is all with male abusers and female victims) often don’t recognize patterens of abuse until they are in so deep that escaping takes more money or power or strength than they can muster.

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Not Our Shame


With every listen, the Trump sex assault tape sounds worse. Every syllable engenders feelings of being small and wretched and humiliated. I search for the genesis of these emotions, for the source of my desire to curl up into an invisible ball.

And the truths wash in:

The time my neighbor’s boyfriend covered my six-year-old crotch with his (fifty? sixty?) year-old fingers, inserting them through the fabric, while giving me a swim lesson in Coney Island. My shame, even now, floods back. My shame. My sister was with me. We were two little girls.

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Also posted in Cultural Politics, My Life, My Opinionated Self, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Weaving a Safety Net for Strider & Gallagher Wolf: Let’s All Help



“It’s not known what Justin Roy used to punch a hole in Striders stomach in December 2011.”
“The life and times of Strider Wolf” Boston Globe, Sarah Schweitzer

Many calamities conspire to push a family off the edge: abuse, illness, accidents or a confluence of all these events.

Strider Wolf underwent three surgeries in four days to repair the torn intestine suffered at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend. His brother Gallagher, 11 months, also suffered, but couldn’t speak. Their grandparents—already using every resource they had to maintain what they had— took them in, but at great costs and with only the slightest help.

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Why Did She Stay? How Come Nobody’s Asking Why He Did It?


(Originally posted September 2014)

And the blame continues.

Twitter & Facebook abound with it. Some claim with surety that they’d leave after the first minute a man touched them. Other wonder (with an air of superiority) why Janay Rice married Ray Rice in the first place (often accompanied with gold-digging, victim-blaming reasons.) Many question her ‘role’ in the situation—wondering why she stayed, sat next to him, tweeted support, etc, etc, etc.

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Also posted in The Murderer's Daughters | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Working With Batterers

71043938For ten years I co-led groups for violent men. I sat in a circle with a male co-leader and anywhere from 8 to 18 men who’d been violent with their wives, girlfriends, dates, sisters, or another woman in their lives.

Their violence ran the gamut from emotional abuse of the most devastating sort, to smacking, to slapping, to punching, pushing, prodding, to breaking bones to murder (thankfully not many.)

This was a Certified Boston Batterer Intervention Program. Most men were ordered into the program by the Massachusetts courts, some by the Department of Social Services, and a few were volunteers—or as we called them, wife and girlfriend-ordered.

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Fiction From Emotional Fact


A parent’s tragedy will always influence the life of their children—often to an overwhelming degree. Writing fiction from the emotional truth of one’s past can be liberating and also confusing. How do writers use their past without being wedded to events as they happened? How do we write honestly, without spilling family secrets that other’s want kept private?

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Also posted in Books, Family, Writing | Leave a comment

Five Facts about that Bad Boy of Yours


Perhaps the lure of the bad boy is similar to the lure of climbing Mt. Everest. It feels so good to conquer it and get to the top—despite all the pain you felt on the ascent. Unfortunately, you have to climb down and start all over again to get back up to that thrilling peak.

Working with batterers for almost ten years afforded me plenty of material and plenty of insight. The clearest and most useful lesson I learned was this: a ‘bad boy’ isn’t edgy, exciting, and a bag of fun, he’s mean and selfish and looking out for number one—himself—all the time.

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Project Sarah of Jewish Family Services Fundraiser: KUSI

On Good Morning San Diego with Dana Koppel to talk about the fundraiser for Project Sarah in San Fransisco – KUSI News – San Diego CA – News, Weather, PPR

Also posted in The Murderer's Daughters | Leave a comment

More Than Sticks and Stones: Words Hurt

Here’s a big fat lie: Stick and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.

Words slice to the bone.

When we explode, we’re not out of control—we’re using our anger to control and shut people down.

I freeze at yelling, I’m silenced by harsh words, and I wither each time someone criticizes me with cruelty. Perhaps it’s that I grew up in a home filled with slaps, screams, and insults, or maybe I am as over-sensitive as some have suggested. Either way, is it my job to control my sensitivity, or the job of others to control their mean?

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Romantic or Realistic: The Bad Boy Quiz

73103865Awhile ago I wrote my warning about falling for the ‘bad boy.’ Now it’s time to figure out if you have one lying next to you. And what kind. You may think you have a Marlboro Man while in truth you’re harboring a Hannibal Lector.

Take a look below. Which one is your bad boy?

The Romantic Lead: Rhett Butler. Heart of gold hiding inside a scallywag. Has tons of money. Always shows up to rescue you. Loves children. Once committed to you, he’ll sweep you away to a fully staffed mansion and the best big O you’ve ever had.

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Also posted in Cultural Politics, Love & Marriage | Tagged | 1 Comment