Love Shouldn’t Hurt

For florists it’s one of the biggest money-making days along with Mother’s Day and the December holidays. For candy makers it means millions of dollars, even during a recession.

For the wives and children who are victims of violence and abuse, Valentine’s Day is just another day of fear, dread, and anxiety.

Many women (and some men too) are hurt by the same people who once promised to love, cherish and protect them.  When this happens, the fear of abuse and even death can be overwhelming.

Love Shouldn't HurtThis Valentine’s Day whether you are in a happy, loving, committed relationship or you are one of the many people who will be celebrating “Singles Awareness Day,” one of the things that you may be thankful for is a brief reprieve from domestic violence. 

Although there is some evidence that Valentine’s Day is connected to a spike in domestic abuse, according to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Valentine’s Day is actually one of three days where there is actually a slight decrease in reports of domestic violence (the other two are Thanksgiving and Christmas). 

This is a tiny bright spot within a very dark issue that usually only comes to light when a celebrity has been caught on tape abusing their partner or because someone who you have never heard of has been killed after years of abuse.

Sadly, domestic violence is overwhelmingly common in the United States. Twenty people are physically abused by their partners every minute. Nearly 5 million women are victims of physical abuse by their partners every year and over 38 million women in the United States have experienced physical intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. 

Unfortunately, there are some for whom Valentine’s Day is not a happy day at all.

Here’s hoping that you have a great Valentine’s Day full of love and affection with your friends, family and significant others.

Why Does Domestic Violence Occur?

Why does domestic violence occur? 

Domestic violence is negative emotion channeled into a physical, mental or emotional the inappropriate outburst onto the significant other.  This outburst, which is overwhelmingly male-to-female violence is due to a combination of stress, poor impulse control and a lack of appropriate coping mechanisms. Men who have witnessed or experienced violence in their family are more likely to perpetrate it in their romantic relationships.

For couples, domestic violence tends to persist in a cycle.  First, tension builds between the batterer and the woman. Second, the perpetuation of violence and third, the abuser appears calm and loving, begs for forgiveness, and promises to seek help. During this third phase, the man acts deferentially, often showering his partner with attention and gifts and treating her like a queen.  Victims tend to avoid seeking help or stop any legal action against partners during this phase.

Domestic violence persists because of silence. Victims who often feel scared or ashamed remain quiet, avoid getting help or letting others know about what is happening to them.  Unfortunately, this silence, which is understandable, tends to reinforce the idea that domestic violence is uncommon and should remain a private matter.

In order to end the cycle of domestic violence, we must come together, express empathy for victims, and intolerance for abusers.  If you, or if someone you know is being harmed in your home, you are not alone.  Please get help and let others know what is happening. 

Let’s make this Valentine’s Day the beginning of the end of the cycle of domestic violence.

Faith-Based Help

Reach Out Speak Out A Domestic Violence Support GroupReach Out Speak Out is a faith-based non-profit dealing with families in domestic violence situations. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men are in some type of DV. That means that someone you know, could be your neighbor, co-worker, family member, or friend is involved in some type of domestic violence situation.

Reach Out Speak Out‘s mission is to help women in need of assistance due to domestic violence; to provide shelter, food, clothing, and the necessities of life; to provide information through books and counseling; to enlist the help of other professionals with domestic violence experience; to speak at faith-based organizations and other community meetings regarding the warning signs of domestic violence.

Reach Out Speak Out has been a nonprofit ministry since 2013. Every member of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board has either worked with domestic violence victims and organizations or was a victim in their own life. Reach Out Speak Out is structured to help the women within our faith-based community and church. Although there are many organizations that help and shelter women and men affected by DV, there is a very small percentage of organizations that help specifically in this area. Since this particular group of women seems to stick with an abuser longer because of their faith, Reach Out Speak Out will educate them from a Biblical perspective. We will not use the “world’s” view on the subject. Although those views are very acceptable, the person we are talking about has been surrounded with a different guideline of living.

We welcome the opportunity to speak to your business or community organization to help get them involved in our mission. We always accept donations of non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, toiletries and paper products as well as gift cards for groceries and gasoline.

You can check out Reach Out Speak Out at ReachOutSpeakOut.org (501(3)(C) 47-1630804 and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/reachoutspeakout.

Elizabeth Sullivan, Chair-Elect

Reach Out Speak Out

Cell: 813-985-1970

New Year, New You?

Like many people, I’ve been busy, tired, overwhelmed at times but enjoying life during the holidays. As I reflect in the last year and begin looking forward to the next year, I can’t help but stop and think about how much I’ve learned and grown this year. This is one of the harder blogs I’ve written so far, so without further delay-my topic this week is verbal/emotional abuse new year new you– can I leave?

**Disclaimer** let me preface this by saying I am not a counselor, theologian, psychologist, or anything of the like. What I share here is from my own experience (I grew up with an emotionally/verbally abusive father) and personal research, with as much scriptural support as I can include.

What is Domestic Violence?

While domestic violence typically brings to mind physical abuse, there is so much more than hitting/beating/punching involved in abuse. While the signs can be “hidden” by long sleeves, pants, jackets, etc., the signs of verbal and emotional abuse are much more difficult to see. These invisible scars go deeper than a physical bruise and are often happening at the same time as physical abuse. However, verbal and emotional abuse is frequently seen without any physical abuse involved (though they may lead to physical violence as well). This “invisible” abuse is more common than people realize-especially in religious settings. After all, what man (or woman) of God would think it ok to physically hurt their spouse or significant other? But giving correction, redirection, and advice (Galatians 6:1) is “Biblical”, right? And aren’t wives supposed to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22)? Ephesians 4:15 encourages us to speak the truth IN LOVE. That’s the key-in love. Verbal abuse is not spoken in love.

Verbal and emotional abuse is a long-term pattern, not the occasional ugly words after an argument or fight. It wears down your self-esteem, makes you doubt yourself because negative, hurtful, demeaning things are repeated until you begin to believe they are the truth and the abuser has “won” control over your emotional and mental well-being. Over time, this can also affect your physical health as you lose the motivation and desire to take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

So, I AM being abused. Now what?

In my “untrained” opinion, prayer is first. Counseling with a pastor or Christian counselor can be beneficial if the abusing spouse is willing and able to realize and accept their responsibility. Sadly that is not often the case. The abuser often is unwilling to realize and admit fault. They often even think they’re truly being “helpful” and doing the right thing by “fixing” you. Sadly it’s a common mindset in the abuser.

Maybe you are wondering if it is just you, if you are broken, if you are not forgiving enough, taking things too seriously if you are the “bad” one… Take a look at Proverbs 10:6, Proverbs 16:27-29, Proverbs 18:21, Proverbs 19:19 and Luke 6:45 for just a sampling of what God says about the evil man. Does this apply to yourself or your spouse?

Already tried the counseling, prayer, and self-evaluation? What’s next? Separation? Divorce? Is that even “allowed” in religious/Christian circles? While God doesn’t condone or encourage divorce, may I just remind you that He loves you deeply and you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). He is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). And He warns frequently of the power of the tongue in many scriptures. Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 21:23, Psalms 10:7, Proverbs 10:20, James 3:8, Jeremiah 9:8, and 1 Peter 3:10 all speak about the power (for good or evil) the tongue holds. It’s a strong muscle that is often used as a weapon. Ephesians 4:29 tells us not to let unwholesome talk proceed from your mouth.

You, my friend, are not a doormat, punching bag, or anything less than deserving of God’s love and grace. While not specifically directed at marriage, Proverbs 14:7 advises us to “leave the presence of a fool”. I Samuel 18-21 is devoted to David fleeing from Saul because of Saul’s evilness and trying to harm David. Proverbs 22:24-25 exhorts us to not to associate with an angry man or you will learn his ways. I Corinthians 15:33 says “Bad company corrupts good morals”.

Stay or Go?

Only you can make this decision for yourself. Proverbs 18:14 says “The spirit of man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit, who can bear it?” (NASB). Seek wisdom and guidance from the Lord and those trained to offer wise counsel. Proverbs 2:10-15 and Proverbs 3:5-8 encourage seeking wisdom from God and not just your own understanding. I encourage you to pray, seek out God’s will and guard your heart. If you’re ready to start the new year fresh and need a little help knowing where to start, check, out this previous blog, He’s Making A List, And Checking It Twice, for making/checking your list. As always, if you need someone to talk through this process with, contact reach out speak out at reachoutspeakoutdv@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.

Wishing you all a blessed, happy and safe New Year.

He’s Making A List, And Checking It Twice

listSanta isn’t the only one that should have a list. If you or someone you know is in an unsafe domestic violence situation, you need to have your own list for when you are ready and able to leave. There’s no time like the present to make your own list and start checking it twice. While you may be waiting to get through the holidays for your kids, family, etc. this is a great time to get ready to leave safely.

What should be on your list? Legal papers (license, social security, birth certificate, passport for you and children), financial paperwork (bank statements, credit report, retirement statements, tax returns), health documents (insurance, medical history for yourself and children), paperwork for your assets (mortgage, rental agreements, car title, car insurance, etc.), personal information (phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, account passwords).

The above list is a starting point, so make your own list and check it twice. Have your escape plan ready so you can get out safely when the time is right. If you don’t have a family or friend you can go to, there are shelters available. In an emergency situation call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).

Stay safe and have a happy holiday season. If you are able, give yourself the best gift you can and get your list started so you can get into a healthier happier new year.

Be Kind

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” ― Wendy Mass

Be kind. The ripple effects can go on foreverI was chatting with a new coworker the other day, and we were just getting to know each other. As we were both sharing where we are in life, the fun, the struggles, etc she said “See, that’s why we always have to be nice to people. We never know what they’re going through.” Wow, what a wonderful and timely reminder as we head into the busiest holiday season of the year.

Be nice. Easy, right? Not necessarily. In the hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking, planning, traveling, and more, it’s quite easy to rush and lose patience with people. Family, friends, coworkers, fellow shoppers- anyone is liable to be an outlet for our frustration. But before you lose it with the person that cut you off, consider that they, too are fighting a battle you know nothing about. Take a deep breath, smile, and be kind.

Are you or someone you know fighting a secret battle? Are you hiding bruises or scars (physical, mental or emotional)? Don’t go through it alone. Reach Out Speak Out is here to listen and help. Don’t let another holiday season go by without getting help for yourself or someone you know that needs it. Contact us at ReachOutSpeakOutDv@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.

‘Tis The Season Of Giving

'Tis The Season of GivingAs we head into December, I can’t help but think about how we are entering the season of giving. Giving Tuesday may be past, but giving -baked goods, time, gifts, love is not. Not only is it the time of giving for friends and family at Christmastime, but it’s also the time to think about year-end gifts for nonprofit organizations like Reach Out Speak Out.

Who We Are

We are a nonprofit 501 3 c organization that reaches out to religious groups and organizations to speak out about how domestic violence is wrong. We offer support to women and children who are getting out of danger and back on their feet in a safe environment. Reach Out Speak Out helps in a variety of ways from a listening ear, to counseling, to short term or long term help, to encouragement and much more.

We have just reached our 5-year mark as a nonprofit, 501 3 c organization and we are really taking off! We need your help. Our first 5-year program family is wrapping up their time and we are taking on more families at the 5-year level and in many other situations that need short or long-term assistance.

Ways To Help

There are many ways to give.
Financially, you can mail a check payable to Reach Out Speak Out to P.O. Box 48797 Tampa, FL 33646. If you would rather donate online,  y
ou can give via PayPal by using the button below:


Please consider us in your charitable giving as this tax year ends. You can feel good that you are blessing a worthy cause while you get a tax break for yourself. Individual, foundation or corporate level we appreciate your time and gift. We also have a scrip gift card program where you can buy (and donate) gift cards for your holiday and everyday shopping needs. See https://reachoutspeakout.org/thankscriping/ for more information.

Don’t have money to donate?  Your time and talents are incredible gifts! We are also looking for auxiliary members. Please contact reachoutspeakoutdv@gmail.com for more information on how to join us!

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

“Nothing is better than going home to family and eating good food and relaxing.” Irina Shayk

Family HolidaysFamily Holidays Aren’t Always Like On TV

But what if your family is not the safe, happy, “perfect” place it appears to be to others? Many people look forward to holidays with friends and family. Yes, you may have that “crazy” family member, that one strained relationship, that recent loss you’re still grieving. Imagine that stress all day, every day, with no warning what will set it off.

For many people in domestic violence relationships, this (holidays) is the most difficult time of year. The abuser has to be on their “best guest behavior” with all the extra family and friends around. They keep up the “perfect family” appearance until the last person leaves, then the floodgates open. Maybe it’s just the regular anger/abuse/frustration. Maybe it’s even worse because they had to “behave” longer than they’re used to.

After The Holidays

When the smiles and happiness of the holidays are over, what goes on behind the closed doors of those “perfect” families? It breaks my heart to think about it. And how hard many of these families work to keep up the appearance of being ok.

Do you know a “perfect” family that isn’t so perfect? One in four women is in a domestic violence relationship. Do you know someone in a domestic violence relationship that needs help? While we cannot help until or unless the abused person is ready for it, Reach Out Speak Out is here year-round to offer support, a listening ear and help. Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pg/ReachOutSpeakOut/ or email us at reachoutspeakoutdv@gmail.com

 

Thankscriping is coming!!

Thankscriping?

Wait, what? I thought it was called Thanksgiving…. Ok, so it’s both. “Scrip” is
a gift card program where you order cards and I mail them directly to you. The
best part is it doesn’t cost you anything extra, and the company gives a
percentage of the purchase price back to Reach Out Speak Out. So you can
donate to Reach Out Speak Out just by shopping.

Scrip Gift Cards Galore!

gift card Scrip Reach Out Speak OutThanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas are all coming up
soon! But you don’t just have to shop for gifts for others – shop for yourself guilt
free. And this program lasts year round so go ahead and make it a habit to stop by
for all your regular shopping needs. From gas stations to grocery, hardware to
health and beauty, department stores to dinner out, shop with scrip has
something for everyone. Use gift cards like cash/credit/check and know you
donating to a worthy cause at the same time.

Don’t want to order and wait for cards to be mailed to you? No worries!
There’s an online website MyScripWallet that offers eGift cards and reload on
select physical gift cards right from your mobile device. It’s a great instant value
anywhere you shop.

Wondering how to sign up?

This link will take you to an information and instruction page that has the enrollment code
for ROSO. Sign up soon and enroll in presto pay (safe online payment via your
checking account) to be ready for cyber Monday shopping. I will be placing the
next corporate order for physical gift cards on Saturday morning, December 1 in
order to get the gift cards to you in time for Christmas gifting.

For those near and far who would like to do something to help out our
clients and families that are survivors of domestic violence, this is a great way to
get involved! We even use this program to purchase gift cards for our clients for
Christmas and birthday presents and everyday groceries.

Feel free to contact me with any questions at ReachOutSpeakOutScrip@gmail.com!

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

During this month of Thanksgiving, I want to start off with a huge thank you to all those who helped make our 3rd annual Purple Passion event a great success! This year was our biggest and best year yet, and word is getting out. Thank you to all who donated food, items, time, and especially New Identities for allowing us to use your beautiful salon to set up. Of course, we can’t forget those who came out to support us!

For those of you wondering what Purple Passion is, it is our largest annual fundraiser where you can come to have great food, fun, fellowship and of course shop our wide variety of silent auction items. We have something for everyone and items in all price ranges. I’ve heard several people comment that we have the best variety and deals (but maybe I’m just biased…). From fall to Christmas, kids to adults, activities to gift cards, sports to spa to everyday items, we are a great one stop shop for all your holiday needs. See pics below for a sampling of this year’s items.

If you weren’t able to make it out this year, start thinking about next year. We always hold this event during October for domestic violence awareness month. Next year will be even bigger and better. We look forward to seeing you then!

Thankful Grateful Blessed Purple Passion 2018