Posts Tagged ‘aftermath of abuse’

Today I was reviewing advice online to help rebuild self-esteem after abuse and the article linked below was to the point, don’t try to fix everything, be patient with yourself.

Be patient with yourself. Think about how you’d treat a best friend who had just been through the same situation. You likely wouldn’t tell them to “get over it already.” Let yourself take as much time as you need to sort through your emotions, feel what you need to feel and slowly come back to a positive outlook on the future.

The linked site offers a ton of resources such as forums and groups to support you in the aftermath of abuse, for teens and adults. My goal is to provide you with resources and this looks like a pretty good one. To read the rest of the article click here Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem after abuse.

I wrote this poem years ago and still read it daily to stay inspired and focused:

Dream Focused

Look at nothing else
Put on all your blinders
Or what you want you will lose sight
Concentration is important
Even though it may not seem
If you wish to have what you want in life
You must focus on the dream
Live it
Feel it
Be it
or nothing you will have
For those without a dream in life
Wander down the path
Someday you will feel frightened
Lost and all alone
Close your eyes and search your soul
For something to pull you through
A memory
A dream
A promise of tomorrow
The fate is in store for you must first be thought by You!

If you have a site that offers support or know of one please share it in the comments, we are here to help each other heal, if not, what was the point of all of this?

Free Printable of Poem ready to frame – click here!

Love & Peace,


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the children of death row_FB

As I writer I love a good quote, the one that had been on my screen saver for months at the time of this writing was written by Ernest Hemingway and it read: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” My true sentence will come a little later.

Have you ever read something that compelled you to take immediate action because you were so moved?  Well, I had one of those moments tonight as I was relaxing in my bed watching Ted.com (Ideas worth spreading) a site where you can listen to discussions on a wide variety of topics.

I was randomly scrolling through the new content, the first speech was about how the world is over-medicated and over-diagnosed, but that is another discussion.  It was the second talk that inspired me to get out of my comfy bed and write to you.

The speech was by a lawyer named David Dow and it was dated January 2012. In the speech, he talked about learning about life from a death row inmate.

While I am sure that deep down I knew that each man on death row was once a child, hearing him say that each one maybe lived in abuse, witnessed it, was abandoned or lived on the streets struck me to my core as I thought about all of the children that live or have lived in dysfunctional homes, my son included.

What really hit me was when he said that 80% of death row inmates in Texas had been in the juvenile system as well.

He talked about how at one time these little boys still had a chance to be supported before they turned to murder which forever sealed not only their fate but that of another human being.

Once the murder was committed, it then became too late to help; after all, a murder was committed and innocent life was taken.

As a mother that escaped a violent childhood and marriage, I knew all too well how the way we grow up impacts who we become.

I also know that it was by the Grace of God, my dedication to being his mother, and endless prayer that my son turned out to be one of the most amazing men you can meet.

Sadly, this is not true for the 2,624 men that are currently sitting on death row, counting down the days until their last meal.

The men on death row were once children too

I was far from being the perfect mother. To this day I vividly remember sitting at my kitchen table talking to my sister as we discussed that I should leave this man before the baby was born.

I was 27-years-old and had always been insecure and unable to trust my gut which I am sure stemmed from my dysfunctional childhood. This insecurity caused me to think that all of my life decisions were the wrong ones. I feared that taking my child’s father from him before he was even born would haunt me for the rest of my life.

Little did I know at the time that keeping his father in his life would be what ended up haunting us both for the rest of our lives.

My son was one of the lucky few men to be able to break the chains of domestic violence and a dysfunctional home as an adult, something I will be forever grateful for, especially when I see my grandson who lives a life of safety, love and security.

Again, sadly not all young men will have the strength or resources to break these chains, and while it is too late to turn back the clock for the young men currently on death row, it is not too late for us to change the future for the children that are growing up now, that may currently be destined to have their last bed in life be a small cot on death row.

I write to support women in the aftermath of domestic violence so this was written with you in mind.

If you are like I was and you play that old record in your head, “I can’t take them away, the kids need a mother or a father,” trust me, you are not doing them any favors.

Ok, enough about that, so what brought me to tears and made the jump out of my comfy bed to write to you tonight, it was something this young man named Will said as he shared a horrific memory from when he was 5-years-old and living with his mother who was a paranoid schizophrenic.

The children of death row lived in abuse

The night before Will was about to be executed his lawyer, David Dow, asked him, “do you really remember your mom trying to kill you when you were 5, or do you just remember others saying that she did?”

The young man replied, “no disrespect, but when you are 5-years-old and your mother is chasing you around the house with a butcher knife that is bigger than you are and she is screaming she is going to kill you and you have to lock yourself in the bathroom and lean against the door and holler for help until the police got there, that’s something you don’t forget.”

If this is not a true sentence, I don’t know what is.

After his mother was hospitalized he was sent to live with his older brother who would eventually kill himself with a bullet to his chest.

Will was then bounced around from family member to family member until he ended up living on his own at around 9-years-old. He then joined a gang and committed multiple crimes until the most serious one that he had been on death row for, murder.

I try to imagine my young son who was around 5 when his father was removed from our home, he would eventually have counseling and support but even that was not enough to save him from the aftermath of abuse.

I then try to imagine my little man being pushed out into the world all by himself and forcing him to figure out a life that most adults struggle to deal with.

My truest sentence, “if you remain living with a violent person your children will have a greater chance that they too will be violent or attempt suicide or like I did they may become passive and allow someone into their life that can easily take advantage of them.”

This is from my own experience as a child that tried desperately to be invisible in a very dysfunctional home to trying to comprehend as an adult why the man that said he loved me also tried to stab me with butcher knives and hold me, hostage, in my own home as he threatened to chop me up with the large ax he held in his hand.

Because I felt he needed to have a father so bad I was forced to watch as my son has had to struggle much of his life with remembering his father sitting him on top of our kitchen table while he had me pinned in a chair. His father held a switchblade to my throat and said, “say goodbye to mommy.” My sweet little blonde hair blue-eyed little boy who was around 3 to 4-years-old at that time said “bye mommy,” in his happy little voice as if we were playing a game.

I am sure that Will’s memory along with what I watched my son live through triggered the emotions in me tonight. I encourage you to watch the video by David Dow, you can find it on Ted.com under David Dow.

After you watch it decide, is it really worth ruining the rest of my child’s life to stay with a parent that is unstable just for the sake of having that other parent?

This is not about men or women, both can be toxic, it is about saving our children!

While Will’s story is heartbreaking, David Dow doesn’t just give us hope but real solutions that we can stop violence and prevent another child from ending up on death row if as a society we put the funds into supporting these children when they are young before a life of crime even happens.

This is about keeping our children innocent and off of death row.

When something like this really moves me I feel compelled to share it with you in hopes that we can prevent suffering in the world, especially for our children.

They say one person can’t change the world but David Dow has managed to change it for the countless men that he has supported on death row, he understands that these men were all someone’s little boy at one time.

If this moved, you pass it on, there is still time to stop another little boy from ending up a death row inmate, maybe even your little boy.

After this article was finished I realized more advice on how you can help was lacking. 

Most of us don’t know what to do, you may read this article and think, this was sad and then return to your hot cup of Starbucks or scroll through your social media for a bit. If the image of these young men continues to sit on your mind and you want to do more, make a donation to a local charity like the Domestic Violence Hotline, a number that many of these young men may have called at one time for help. 

Find a local agency that supports disadvantaged children and give your money or time, they both make such a difference. Become a big brother or find a young man to mentor. If you have a voice, share this with the world like I am doing.

While I do not have all the answers, I am willing to speak out and hope that you will join me in this fight to save our children.

Love & Peace,

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“Everyone agrees it’s important to live in the moment, but the problem is how,” says Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard and author of Mindfulness. “When people are not in the moment, they’re not there to know that they’re not there.” Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes intentionality and practice.

Living in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled living in the moment after domestic violenceDo you struggle to live in the moment?

Are you safe and away from abuse but still struggle to stop and smell the flowers?

You are not alone, for many, myself included, letting your guard down and enjoying simple things can be a struggle after years of domestic violence. Most times you feel like you are doing everything that you can to avoid living in the moment by thinking about the past or thinking about what you are not doing or need to do for your future.

Definition of Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. 

I am very aware that I struggle to stop and smell the flowers as the saying goes, “living in the moment.”  Tonight in a moment of inner reflection I realized why I struggle to live in the moment.  This sudden epiphany happened while doing one of my regular calming rituals which is taking a scalding hot bath to the glow of any resemblance of a candle, could be a fake one, real one, doesn’t matter, just the glow is what I am looking for.

Do you struggle to stop and smell the flowers after domestic violence or trauma

Anyway, tonight I put the candle on the side of my tub, shut off the lights and stepped into my sanctuary of bubbles. I know I really need this me time when I have gone the extra mile and added some bubbles.  Just like the glow of the candle, as far as the bubbles I don’t care where they come from either, could be some shampoo, just something about the bubbles helps put my mind in that relaxing, stress-free place.

When I take a bath like this, I am totally living in the moment.

I have one of those minds that never stops thinking, so here I am, laying in my hot bath and thinking about how much I was really enjoying this moment as the hot water started to work on my tense muscles and the candle, darkroom, and bubbles started to work on relaxing my mind.

Of course, my brain was overthinking and I realized that other than the clarity of a hot bath like this, I struggled with being fully present and living in the moment, pretty much most days.

Then it hit me full force like a punch in the gut why I am this way, as a child I lived in abuse and was surviving moment to moment, and then later in my marriage, which was the most traumatic time of my life as I didn’t know what level of violence was in store for me today, I was again, surviving moment to moment. 

There were days I can still remember when I drove home from work sick to my stomach, wondering what I was about to come home to. I would often stop at a pay-phone (no cell phone then) and call the Domestic Violence Hotline. Sad to think that I had the number memorized in those days. I would just vent to the poor lady on the phone that I was terrified I would die today. She would beg me not to go home but I would thank her for letting me vent and I would hang up and head home.

Each time I entered my home I was living in the moment wondering, when I turned the knob was he going to come at me drunk or when I was washing the dishes later would I be struck from behind with a cast iron pan or turn to see an ax at my back.

Now, this was living in the moment!

I now wonder if because I had to live that way for the sake of my survival do I almost now struggle living in the moment.
Does this make sense to you?

[bctt tweet=”I was so living in the fear of the moment for so long that now I wonder if because I had to live that way for the sake of my survival do I almost now struggle living in the moment. Does this make sense?” username=”rebeccaburnsorg”]

If I were fully living in the moment now, they are great happy moments. I have been safe physically for many years.  I have a loving man that was meant for me, a great family, health, food (fell in love with a man that loves to cook and is amazing – put that on your list of must-haves) and a roof over our head and dreams of an amazing future.

Out of everything on that list, feeling safe and being able to sleep without fear of the monster in the closet means more than anything.

The reason that I wanted to share my inner struggle with living in the moment isn’t to hear, “poor me,” but to help you understand why you too may struggle with living in the moment once you are free from abuse. I know I can’t be the only one to struggle with this, you may not have suffered abuse but we all have reasons we struggle to enjoy the moment.

Even if you are out of the abuse and you are safe and not worried about being terrorized you may struggle to live in the moment. Especially the really good ones as you may fear they won’t last.

Please share if you still struggle to live in the moment or what you have done to overcome this. Just having this moment of clarity on why I struggle to live in the moment has helped me to be more fully present.  Like they say, “you can’t change what you don’t know.”  I know this has been true for me.

How can you learn to live in the moment now? 

  • Give your full focus on the task you are doing. Enjoy little things from doing the dishes to sitting in the sun for a few minutes.
  • Learn to love and appreciate what you have learned to live in the moment.
  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t try to be perfect. It will take time to really living in the moment.  If I can do this, so can you!
  • It may sound silly but create morning rituals, this has really helped me

The biggest thing that has helped me is my morning ritual of enjoying my coffee in bed. I have learned to really appreciate that time and the taste of my coffee, I then pray and say what I am grateful for. During this time I really focus on my enjoyment of the moment.  Creating rituals to pull me into the moment as I enter a situation and being conscious of this has really helped me.

ReBeccaBurns.com eMpowering Women

Living in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled to live in the moment after domestic violenceLiving in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled to live in the moment after domestic violence

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