Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sleepy Moose

Soft Mooser
Warm Mooser
Little ball of fur!

This has become his new nighttime spot
Happy Mooser
Sleepy Mooser
Grr, grr, grr!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Story - Abuse part 5

Today, I'll be telling my story, my personal experience with abuse, and how I got out. This is highly personal and painful, so while I am open to comments, please be respectful.

Stage 1: Seduce and charm
My ex (now affectionately known as Dingleberry) came into my life when he was at the end of another relationship. We met because he was still friends with his ex, who was friends with my brother. We all ended up at a trivia night together and got along well, so the same group got together a few more times in the following weeks. He flirted with me and flattered me at these various events, and having never been in a romantic relationship before - and frankly a bit desperate for one at the ripe old age of 21 - I was pretty naively smitten. A boy! Who likes me! What?! That's crazy talk. But there he was and yes he apparently did. We started off pretty slow, since he was still living with his ex (his story was that they'd gotten a lease together and were amicable enough even after breaking up that they decided to share the apartment until the lease ended), but when my grandmother announced she was getting remarried that fall, we seemed serious enough for him to be invited.

The wedding went remarkable well. It was a small, fairly casual affair being that it was a second wedding for a woman late in life. Dingleberry charmed most of my family by chatting freely with everyone, joking, and helping to set up before the event and clean-up after. He received many family members' stamps of approval. I felt that I'd made a good choice. He became my first everything, including, regrettably, my first kiss and sexual partner.

He confided in me early on that he'd been abused as a child by his mother. After the end of our relationship, I started to realize how many things he probably lied about, but I have to say that this one I believe, having met the woman. He also "confided" in me about abuse he'd suffered in the Navy and the PTSD he still struggled with* and was successful in garnering my sympathy and affection as a result of these heart-breaking secrets (read: lies).

Stage 2: Isolate
Dingleberry encouraged me regularly to avoid "toxic" relationships. If someone upset me, his solution was for me to cut that person out of my life. They clearly didn't really care about me, so why waste my time? I was young enough, naive enough, and petty enough that this seemed to make sense, and I far too often took his advice, treating some friends with indifference. He also behaved incredibly differently around me than he did others. If I was in the room, he tried to play nice with everyone. Most of the time. If I wasn't, he didn't pull punches. He was abrasive and rude without cause around many of my friends, when moments before he had been ingratiatingly nice. Combined, these behaviors served to annoy people and gave the impression of him being "fake." Which he was, of course. More significantly, by now he was a fixture in my life, so this off-putting and sometimes outright offensive behavior meant that the friends I still had didn't want to spend time with me if he was going to be there. And he was, of course.

I know my friends did the best they could with the information they had. They couldn't know what Dingleberry would ultimately become or how bad it would get for me. At the time, he just seemed like kind of a douche-bag. So the solution of avoiding him, and as a consequence me, seemed basically harmless. That was part of his strategy to emotionally isolate me. I didn't understand why they couldn't get over their feelings about my boyfriend and just be there for me. I felt like I had no one to turn to or talk to when I needed someone. That feeling was exacerbated by moving across the country, but I felt it even before we moved away because I could tell that my friends didn't want to be around him/us. So in addition to just seeing them less, I was also less likely to reach out because I felt it wouldn't be acknowledged. My advice to people now is that, if you have a friend who is in a bad relationship, stick around as much as you can. Maybe the guy is just a jerk and isn't outright abusive, but leaving your friend to handle either situation alone can be dangerous and depressing. Plus, when and if it hopefully does end, they will need some support to escape and recover.

This relationship started at the beginning of my final year in college. It was the point in my life at which I was applying to grad school, as I wanted to be a full-fledged SLP. Dingleberry encouraged me to apply to San Diego State University (SDSU). He framed this request as an opportunity for me: SDSU was a great school with a great program (true) and it would allow me to live on the west coast (which I'd always wanted to and would still like to again someday). It would broaden my horizons! And what was the harm in applying? I could always say no, but I was so smart and so good that they would be crazy not to accept me. I had to at least try. So I did, and I got in! Even now, it's a moment I hold dear as it was indeed a pretty big accomplishment. He explained that it would be easy for us to get along in California because he'd lived there before during his time with the Navy. He knew all about it and could guide us. You can see that there is some overlap between stage 1 and stage 2, as he used his charm to isolate me. We moved to California, where I knew nothing and no one.

I was hopeful about the move. Not long after we arrived on the west coast, he proposed. We seemed to really be starting a life together. And even though I didn't know people, I thought I would make friends at work and school. But because of his reckless spending I had to drop out of school, unable to afford it. I got along well with my coworkers for a while, but he would harass me at work and upset them. Since he was so careless with our money, I could never afford to go anywhere but work, making it almost impossible to meet others. Additionally, he cheated on me multiple times over the course of our relationship. He only confessed to one, for which he begged forgiveness, but staunchly denied the other affairs. I found them because he used my laptop to check Facebook and usually forgot to log out. Thinking I was in my account, I would check messages and see conversations with women with whom he was sleeping. He had so well engineered my isolation that I was dependent on him for almost all human contact most of the 15 months I lived there. As not even he had much of an attachment to me, I was well and truly alone,

Stage 3: Introduce the threat of violence
I mentioned before that I think this is the stage emotional/verbal abuse falls into. While not a direct threat of violence, it softens the victim, lowers their self-worth and their resistance so they are more accepting of any kind of abuse.

After we moved, and some before, the name calling started. Dingleberry claimed this was simply an effect of his upbringing: his family were loud, violent arguers. They didn't really mean it, that's just how they interacted. This was his excuse whenever he called me stupid, worthless, boring, fat, lazy, useless, and/or ugly. I didn't know how to take care of a house, never mind that he never cleaned or cooked because that was my responsibility. I was uninteresting and embarrassing should we ever be interacting with his friends (recall that I had none at the time). I didn't earn enough because I only worked part-time as a way of allowing time for my graduate classes which I was no longer taking because he'd lost all our money. At the time, he was unemployed, though he pretended not to be because he "worked" as a webcam model. In one of the cruelest threats of our relationship, he insisted I had to become a "model" as well because we needed the money. When I couldn't handle the emotional fall-out that accompanied that situation, I quit and he harassed me for it throughout the rest of our relationship.

You're so pathetic! Just shut up, I don't want to hear from you.

This was the stage when, similar to Leslie's situation, he informed me that he had guns hidden throughout the apartment. I now believe this to be false as I cleaned that place from top to bottom and never found them, but the message was clear: he had the tools to hurt me.

This was also the point at which he became violent toward our possessions, including our dog (adopted using my money and without consulting me). He would often throw and break things, again, including our dog, putting more than one hole in the walls of the apartment that I ultimately had to pay to repair. The throwing and screaming and name calling happened as a result of several possibilities that all boiled down to one basic behavior on my part: disobedience. Or at least his perception of disobedience, though Dingleberry would never put it in such words. It happened when I did something the wrong way, when I corrected him, did something I shouldn't have altogether, spoke to someone I wasn't supposed to, interacted with other men, had other men look at me. Offenses were constant and impossible to predict. A classmate from school reached out to me once, months after I left and invited me to lunch to catch up. I told him about the invite and he seemed unperturbed. When I returned home, however, he insisted I had been meeting another man because I was having an affair. It couldn't have been a friend because I had none. Furthermore, he liked to role play that I was spending time with other men, and after the fact scream at me because my performance had been too believable and I must actually be cheating - oh the sad irony!

Stage 4: Violence
I was fortunate in that I escaped before I experienced much physical violence in the sense of beatings, but I did experience some. Dingleberry would want to "wrestle" with me. I have play wrestled with siblings and cousins when we were children. I have also play wrestled with my current - and wonderful! - Fiance. That's not what Dingleberry was really after. This was real, full on, competitive-type wrestling. He had an advantage in that he'd actually competitively wrestled before, and in that he knew what was coming. It never failed that he would contort my body into some extremely painful hold and keep me there until I was sobbing and begging for release.

The other physical assaults I experienced included sporadic kicking when I upset him or was in the way, shoving for the same reasons, and choking during intimacy because he "thought I'd like it." Most of the physical violence I experienced in our time together manifested as the choking did, as sexual violence. During our time together, he forced himself on me when I actively refused him 4 times, and coerced me into sex dozens of others. Another, more specific description of what happened is that he raped me, more than once.

Stage 5: Murder/stalking
Obviously my story did not end in murder, as I am here today telling it. But I did experience stalking.

The first summer after we moved to San Diego, several things changed. Dingleberry made a work friend with a long-term girlfriend. He wanted us to appear normal, so he decided we should have couple friends, and we began spending time with them regularly. That summer, a friend of mine from Tennessee decided to move to San Diego as well, so I was seeing her more often. Another friend got pregnant, and called to share the news with me before most others as we have been very close. These events are significant because they gave me outlets for expression. With other people in our lives, it cast a brighter light onto exactly what was going on, and forced me to really confront it. I now had people who asked me how I was, or how we were, and I started giving more honest answers. Although my friend having the baby (we'll call her Rara) still wasn't geographically close the way the others were (the couple we'll call CK and the girl that moved we'll call D), her opening up to me inspired me to open up in turn.

I started sharing my concerns about my relationship with D. I started going to church again with CK, where, as fate would have it, the pastor was doing a series on healthy relationships, and I was reminded of my worth. I started talking more with Rara, and it wasn't necessarily that we discussed Dingleberry's treatment of me, but just that I finally felt I wasn't alone.

It was during this time that, due to my incredible unhappiness and stress, I stopped having regular periods. Terrified I might be pregnant, I became even more stressed and started having panic attacks. This was further compounded by Dingleberry picking a fight with his mother, who had been coordinating our wedding plans in Tennessee. She was petty and vindictive enough that she canceled everything we'd planned for our wedding in September. This turned out for the best as our relationship would shortly end, but added to my worries at the time.

The literal terror I experienced at the thought of being pregnant translated to a decision to abort the child. It turned out I wasn't, but something at that point finally clicked. I realized I'd been subconsciously planning for the fact that we would get divorced some day, and didn't want a child tying me to this man for the rest of my life. I was also reasonably afraid that he would end up abusing the child, too. I realized I had to leave.

Sensing things had changed, he confronted me via Facebook messenger while I was at work and insisted I tell him what was going on. I told him I was ending it. At the time, I still wasn't quite able to admit I was in an abusive relationship, so I said it was because I didn't like who I'd become in our time together - which was true. I contacted my parents and told them what had happened - just the break up, none of the gritty details - and that I needed to come home and they immediately responded with overwhelming support. Even across the country, they had sensed something was wrong and were eager to help. My father bought me a plane ticket home for the end of October to give me time to collect my belongings and find a replacement for my job (I'd found a full-time receptionist position by then). I collected my things that night and spent the last month with my friend D. It is worth noting that the last month was easily the most fun I had in California. I look back on that time with great fondness and nostalgia.

Once I came home, he refused to leave me alone. He would call or text demanding money. Despite the paperwork he'd shown me they (we had a roommate at this point) were turning in to take me off the lease, he now admitted he'd lied and I had to pay up or ruin my credit. Worse, that it would ruin my father's credit since he had cosigned the lease. My father hadn't signed anything - another lie. I told him he wouldn't get a cent. What were they going to do, evict me? He'd already toileted my finances, so I wasn't worried about that either. Now that I was free, I could see through all his tricks and traps. I blocked his number and Facebook account. I refused all method of communication he tried to send me. I finally paid almost $300 to separate our joint cell phone account and cut off his line. Worth every damn penny. It was probably a year after the end of our relationship that I was able to cut him out of my life completely, and we hadn't married, didn't have kids. I imagine it's much worse for others.

Stage 6: Recovery
A new stage, one that I created instead of Dingleberry.

Remember that I told you when Dingleberry and I first met, he was living with his ex? Turns out, she's kind of awesome. We're actually pretty decent friends now, almost like a bizarre support group for a very specific situation. Turns out, he stalked her too, contacting her often after he and I started dating. He bragged to me when stalking me about his new girl. Her sister contacted me once, asking me about Dingleberry because they were engaged and about to have a kid. I told her the truth, which was that the idea of him as a husband and father terrifies me. I hope the girl got free.

It took me months even after leaving to really realize what he was. I still today think back on that time and realize something he told me that I just accepted as a fact then was probably a lie. It was probably more than a year before I labeled him an abuser, and even longer before I really admitted it to myself that I had been abused.

Why? Why did I stay? Part of it was as Leslie said. I was in love with a troubled man and only I could help him. He's suffered abuse, and PTSD. And we were going to be married! I wasn't (and still am not) the kind of person to take that commitment lightly. I couldn't just walk away because things were tough. Plus, where would I go? He'd isolated me so well, I didn't feel I had anywhere to turn. He'd lowered my already pitiful self-esteem to the point that I really believed no one else would want me.

The rest is the other part of the answer from Leslie's talk. In a very real sense, I was out there alone. It was dangerous for me to leave. I knew on some level even then, that if I set him off it could do permanent damage. When I collected my things that last night, I made sure our roommate and my friend D were both present. I was never alone with him from that point on, if I saw him at all.

So after all this deeply personal, overly revealing stuff, what's the point. Why did I share? For the answer to that question, let me remind you of Beth Moore's talk:

Where the devil has his way:
1. People live among tombs (literally or metaphorically - living in the past)
I have struggled with living in the aftermath of my abuse for a long time. I didn't know how to let go of the pain and disappointment of my past. As Beth put it, I was repeatedly breathing air into a corpse. The abuse was over and done, and even years gone, but I still couldn't stop obsessing over it. I've gotten better about that, and sharing this story is part of my process of putting it in the past where it belongs.
2. People have no voice
I was saved the minute I spoke up to my friends and family. Leslie says the same was true for her; abuse thrives on silence. I want to also let others know, who may currently be lacking in voice, that they are not alone. It's why I've publicly shared aspects of my experience that I never have before. You are not too lost to be saved. You can get help and you can get out. Until then, we must be the voice of victims and insist that this isn't ok. Demand that not be allowed to continue.
3. People do self-harm (physical or emotional)
One last confession I'll make is that during the time of my abuse (and other moments of emotional turmoil) I have been a cutter. Not often, not much, but it was a way of coping, a method of controlling a life in which I'd lost control. Freeing myself from Dingleberry and firmly claiming my self worth was the catalyst I needed to free myself from the burden of self-harm as well.
4. People are out of control and out of community
This one is obvious - I was lost and alone.

Where Jesus has His way:
1. Demons have to flee (again, literal and figurative)
As soon as I got back to church, I realized my relationship was wrong. And I got out.
2. People find a sane place in His presence
I often felt like I was out of my mind around Dingleberry, something he actively tried to cultivate so I wouldn't leave. Absent that influence, my head is finally clear.
3. People are robed in worth and dignity
This is perhaps the most significant thing Beth said, and the biggest reason I wanted to share with you all. I felt so ashamed of my past I've been hiding from it, and in that way, giving it power over me. In Christ, I have my freedom and my dignity back. I realize not everyone reading this is a Christian, but I can promise you that you still have nothing to be ashamed of. Someone else taking advantage of you and hurting you is NOT your fault. Stand tall and walk forward. They have no power to affect your worth.
4. People go and tell their stories.
And here we are full circle. Inversely related to having no voice, I felt the need to share my story now that I am free.

No one needs to live with abuse. Talk, and ask for help. We can put and end to abuse and domestic violence. Thank you for sticking with me through out this series. Be safe and well, my loves!

* I do not intend to make light of PTSD. It is a serious condition that many service members suffer from, and for which they deserve our support. My comment here was meant to indicate my lack of belief that Dingleberry was telling me the truth when he claimed to have the condition.

This is the final part of a multi-part series about abuse, addressing my personal experience, representations in media, and general information. No more additions to the series will be published. Find part 1 here part 2 here, part 3 here, and part 4 here.

Credit for the framework of this post to Leslie Morgan Steiner and Beth Moore, whose websites are linked above. Thank you for reading.

Black Coffee

This picture makes me Smile for oh-so-many reasons. First, it's my awesome panda mug, a gift from my brother this past Christmas. Second, It's a lovely day outside with a big green yard in which dogs can (and do) play. Third and finally, as the title indicates, it's black coffee.

The cup originally came with a cute panda spoon too, but I broke it :( Sad panda!
Allow me to explain! I love coffee like I love scary movies and spicy food: the idea is really appealing but I don't tolerate the actual product well. I prefer my coffee with cream and sweetener (not sugar!) and a lot of it! Whipped cream? Certainly, my good sir! However, this habit of adding to my coffee can be expensive when totaled over the course of a year, and it's more time consuming to prepare in the mornings. I don't want to give up coffee, because they keep putting out new studies talking about how good it might be for you. So I decided to slowly wean myself off of my add-ins by reducing the amount I used each day. I'm pleased to say that today I am drinking it black. And I actually do kind of like it! It helps that I have good quality coffee. I'll keep doing black coffee for the next several days/weeks until I'm totally down with it. At that point, I may or may not go back to occasional add-ins, but I want to at least be able to drink it straight.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Other Side

So remember my 2 Daily Smile posts about the Christian women's conference I went to with my mom? Here's a couple of links in case you need a refresher. I promised you more, and here it is! It might take me a while, but I keep my promises!

My mother texted to invite me home since I hadn't been in a while. She sent me a picture of a newspaper clipping about the conference, and since she and I have done a Beth Moore written Bible study with the women of mom's church before, I was familiar with Beth and enjoyed her presentation style, her take on things. My mother said she would pay for my gas and ticket if I chose to come, since I was currently unemployed.

The very picture I received
Once upon a time I might have been embarrassed to admit I'd received such an offer, much less that I'd accepted it. But I'm a little older and wiser, and I knew this was too meaningful an opportunity to pass up because of a misplaced sense of pride. So I told my mother I'd be glad to come, and we made plans.

I left a little before lunch for Memphis, in my mama-sponsored vehicle, and arrived only about 45 minutes before we had to head out again to get to the Forum on time. Although neither of us typically enjoys spending time in traffic, one of my favorite parts about the trip was the car rides since they allowed my mother and I some quality time together. It was just the 2 of us, conteplating what we were about to hear or what we'd just heard, catching up on those little tidbits about our respective daily lives that it doesn't occur to you to call and share, but you miss none-the-less, making jokes and laughing, and just enjoying each others' company in a way we hadn't had much time for lately. 

We were able to do some of the same once we arrived since, if you paid attention to the photo above, the doors opened and hour and a half before the event began on Friday and an hour early Saturday. We decided to arrive early both days so that we could get good seats - 9500+ women with no assigned seating is a bit of a mad house - plus we had to pick up our tickets from will call the first night. We got a bit of a snack from one of the many overrun concession stands, and waited.

It is impossible for me to describe the emotional impact of the worship in which we participated. The musicians and vocal performers were truly talented and obviously passionate. This tour meant a lot to them, you could tell, and they worked their tails off to deliver a meaningful, worshipful sound. Both mama and I were moved to tears more than once, especially with their performance of the Newsboys' song, "In Christ Alone."

Seriously, it was magnificent. Near the end, they softened the other instruments dramatically and played some deep, reverberating, powerful drumbeats for the lines, "There in the ground, His body lay. Light of the world, by darkness slain. The bursting forth [BOOM] in glorious day [BOOM] up from the grave [BOOM] he rose again [BOOM]!" It was like listening to the beating of my heart in time with thousands of others. 

Then came Beth. You guys, if you haven't heard her speak before, I highly recommend it. She is funny and passionate and down to earth. She's also incredibly intelligent and well-read and studied; she knows her stuff. Perhaps most significantly, she is extremely compassionate. The entire last hour the second day was spent taking prayer requests from members of the audience. She would immediately stop and fall to her knees, pleading with God to offer the women his comfort, mercy, grace, and help. She also called us to turn to our neighbors and pray for them, aloud, as one group. I said it before on my Smile post but, "I'm not sure I've ever heard anything quite as beautiful as 9500+ women singing together unless it was 9500+ women praying together." It was a truly overwhelming, powerful experience. I left feeling refreshed and renewed and hopeful.

Part of the reason I wanted to talk about LPL is because I want to encourage you, dear reader, to experience it for yourself. It is so worth it, and it can be a relatively cheap experience for you. In a couple of weeks (September 13), Beth Moore and Living Proof Live will be airing their annual simulcast performance. Check if your local church has signed up to participate and what it would take for you to be there. If they haven't, there is still time to sign up!

The other reason I wanted to talk about the event is because of the impact it had on me personally. Beth's chosen topic was titled "The Other Side." She was addressing passages in Mark and Luke that dealt with Jesus saving a demon-possessed man. Beth used the passages because she wanted to show us what it looks like when we allowed the devil into our lives. It hit me profoundly because, as you may recall, I'm currently working on a series about abuse. I realized that a lot of what was presented at the conference related, and it's part of why (in addition to severely limited time and energy) I chose to wait to post this now and postpone my final installment in that series.

I don't want to rob you of the experience of listening to Beth's presentation of this material, so I will simply lay out the 8 points she made and leave the discussion to her (seriously, go see her live!). I'm including them because I think they are meaningful in their own right, but also because I plan on referencing them tomorrow when I finish the abuse series (which is why this post is included in the series despite not being directly related).

Where the devil has his way:
1. People live among tombs (literally or metaphorically - living in the past)
2. People have no voice
3. People do self-harm (physical or emotional)
4. People are out of control and out of community

Where Jesus has His way:
1. Demons have to flee (again, literal and figurative)
2. People find a sane place in His presence
3. People are robed in worth and dignity
4. People go and tell their stories.

Some of these points will be more relevant than others when we come back to this tomorrow, and you might even be able to tell which ones.

[I want to share a bit about Beth before I go. Her bio doesn't mention it - but she freely will - Beth experienced abuse in her childhood. She's been through depravity and pain, and she will share that story with you readily to show that you are not alone. One of the best things I've heard her say time and time again is that it is impossible not to fit with Jesus. You can not go so far, or be buried so deep that He does not want you back, and she has put that to the test!]

We'll wrap this sucker up tomorrow, dears!


Good news, everyone! I've got an interview soon for a job at a place! That's as specific as I'd like to be at this juncture so as not to jinx it, and also to protect myself from real life repercussions related to posted about my job online in the event I'm hired. Still, I'm pretty excited! I'm sure you'll all read about the horror show that was my Monday, so this is a much needed pick-me-up. Hopefully, although I know this one is more specific to me personally than usual, it will brighten your day as well. 

The world is good! Things work out! Hold on to hope! You can do it; don't give up!

But for real, I get how frustrating it is when you are pouring out all of your effort and hope and it just doesn't seem to be working. That's pretty much the exact situation I'm currently in. But try to Smile anyway. It'll make you feel a little better, and little more positive. And have faith that you will prevail, even if not necessarily in the way you originally thought.  Happy Friday, loves!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Easily one of my favorite foods of all time, I present to you:

Pancho's cheese dip is the bomb! It is stupid tasty and unfortunately only to be found in Memphis and surrounding areas. Some of you may recall that I no longer live in that area. So I was especially pleased and surprised when my mother brought me some on her recent visit. I've converted Fiance into a Pancho's lover also - there really is not better cheese dip to be found, spicy and creamy and perfect - and we're saving it for a special occasion. The next time you're in Memphis, stop in almost any grocery to pick up some, or just try it (and other delicious treats) at one of the restaurants! It comes in white and regular, and while you can only get one size ordering online, if you stop in stores they have half-sizes too. They also have a dressing that is out of this world. Crazy good on pretty much anything, including salads. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Might not be able to wait for that special occasion after all, or even share....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

National Dog Day

I'm going to talk about something near and dear to my heart. That thing is puppies!

My Moose, look at how cute he is!
In honor of National Dog Day - which I realize was yesterday, but you know how this works! I update on Wednesdays! Stop complaining! - I'll be flooding you with pictures of my pooch, and, extra fun for you, dropping some knowledge on your ass.

Here's Moose and his adoptive big brother Beau. Moose wants to play constantly; Beau is a good sport who tolerates such nonsense because he knows that children are our future.
Specifically, I want to address breeders. There are a lot of people out there, including some dear friends of mine, who make the mistake of looking for their pet with a breeder. There are lots of reasons you shouldn't do this, which I will enumerate in detail shortly, and only one reason I can imagine you would: you want a specific breed of dog. And I will grant, to a person not in the know, a breeder seems like the best chance for getting the specific type of dog you want. Here's why that's crap.

He knows just how to tilt his head to melt you heart.
First of all, and I may get some disagreement here, but purebred dogs are a hugely bad idea in general. When we breed the same bloodlines together so much to retain that purity, called inbreeding, we are also repeatedly breeding in health defects. These defects get worse and worse the more we breed "pure" dogs. Here is an article from the Humane Society that explains the problem in detail, and here is an article from PetMD explaining the issue more succinctly (although I disagree with the phrase "quality breeders" as I don't believe there is such a thing.) And here is a excerpt from the PetMD piece for the truly lazy who don't want to click either link:

"As many of these gene pools are limited or closed, the risk of genetic defects rises significantly with each successive coupling.

Defects include a higher risk of cancer and tumors; eye and heart disease; joint and bone disorders; skin, immune system and neurological diseases; and even epilepsy."

See what I mean, he's so good at posing!
So, really, if I had my druthers, purebred dogs wouldn't happen at all anymore. Let's let nature take it's course and breed those defects out! But let's say you're not interested in a real, true purebred show dog. You just want a type like Border Collie, Labrador, Springer Spaniel (fun fact, all of these breeds are shown in my pictures!). That's great! There is still no need to seek out a breeder. There is a great site called Petfinder that is set up to help you find the breed you want, in your city, from a rescue. Let's leave breeders out of the equation.

He's so cute when he's napping! Who are we kidding, he's cute all the time!
Now that I've brilliantly cast down the one reason to go to a breeder, let's discuss more specifically why you should never go to a breeder! Some of these I've already touched on a bit, but here we go:

1. Dogs bred for pure bloodlines suffer from genetic defects that negative affect their health and reduce their quality of life. It is not a practice we should support. Mixed breeds have a much better chance at a long, healthy life.

2. It's estimated that between 6 and 8 million pets enter shelters each year (that number includes cats and dogs). Only about half that number get adopted while around 2.7 million are euthanized.* Those are not numbers I want to live with guys. They only way to ensure these shelter dogs (and cats!) live is to bring them home! If you want a pet, save a life! Only 30% of pets currently in homes come from shelters*. We can do better.

3. Tying points 1 and 2 together, an estimated 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred*. So if you're hellbent on getting one, you still have the opportunity to rescue one and save a life.

4. Rescues are cheaper. They cost less to bring home because you're not paying for some dog bred to be a show champion, they usually have fewer health problems you'll have to pay for, and a lot of vets give discounts if the animal is a rescue as a way of encouraging people to rescue. 

5. Why does it matter where the dog came from? Maybe I did get it from a breeder but if I didn't buy it, it would have ended up in a shelter too! That might be true, although odds are still good that someone else who doesn't know better will swoop in and take the dog. The flaw in that logic, though, is that if people refuse to buy from breeders and only adopt shelter dogs, that dog will still end up in a home. Maybe even yours. And breeders will go out of business! As it stands now, breeders contribute to the dog overpopulation problem. We don't need more dogs being born when there are literally millions currently waiting for homes!

6. The point that is most important to me is that - while I'll allow there are some people out there who breed dogs responsibly in the sense that they take good care of the dogs and do genetic testing to find and care for any defect (still don't support breeding them though) -  many breeders are not responsible or ethical. What I'm referring to are backyard breeders and puppy mills. Backyard breeders are defined as:

"people who breed animals, often without registration. In some cases the animals are inbred narrowly for looks with little regard to health," (from wikipedia). 

Puppy mills are even worse. According to the ASPCA

"A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation that places profit over the well-being of its dogs—who are often severely neglected—and acts without regard to responsible breeding practices."

A puppy mill can be likened to a dog factory. Often, the animals are kept in cages that they NEVER leave, unless sold or being used to breed. They receive little food and water, and less care. These are dogs that often die from neglect, or if lucky enough to be rescued, suffer from life-long health problems as a result of the abuse. Here's a video from inside one:

If that video doesn't break your heart, you have ice in your veins. And there are hundreds of similar if not worse examples. We can help put a stop to this kind of cruelty by eliminating the demand for breeders. Just refuse to patronize them.

7. My last point is not about breeders specifically, but I feel I need to point out that you should be careful when you get cats and dogs from pet stores as well. Some pet stores, the good ones. pair with shelters so the animals you purchase are rescues. But far too many work with backyard breeders and puppy mills. Do a little research first, and don't support any business that keeps this practice alive. 

This is an older picture. He was still so tiny! 
Moose was a rescue (as was Beau, but he's not mine so I'm not telling that story). He was a bit of a non-traditional rescue in the sense that we skipped the middle man. A friend of mine found him and one of his brothers walking down the street in Memphis. I saw this picture of him:

Precious little baby!
that she posted on Facebook, asking if anyone could take him. (Someone had already claimed his litter mate.) Otherwise he'd end up at an already overcrowded shelter. My heart melted. Who could say no to that precious face. So I talked to Fiance (at the time Boyfriend) and we agreed we could take him. This was just days before I was to move from Memphis to Nashville, so we bought supplies and I picked him up on my way out of town. Here we are, at his happy ending. He has a home with other dogs to play with, regular vet visits to keep him in good health, and people who love him with our whole hearts. He's so big now! And such a goofball.

Please, please, please help us put a stop to breeders and the unnecessary deaths of dogs. Adopt and save a life. It's so worth it.

*Statistics from the Humane Society webpage.

Plants vs. Zombies

So, I'm a bit late with this news, but with PSN down this past weekend and my mini-road trip to consider, I think we can let it slide. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare has officially been released on PS4! YOU GUYS, I'm so excited. My brother first introduced me to this game, which is a online 3rd person shooter based on the original PvZ. And while I am terrible at all of the video game things, especially shooting ones, I have loved every second I've spent in that game. You can customize your characters by "buying" add-ons with points you get during matches (there are official names for all that, I just don't remember them). AND! You can play zombies! It's pretty awesome. For a while there, it was only available on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Fiance and I don't have an Xbox One, and the 360 version doesn't allow for 2 people to play on the same system (There's an offline version where players defend a base from zombie incursion), which is pretty significant if you ever interact with other people IRL. So we waited, and glory of glories, here it comes on PS4, which we do own, and which has the 2 player feature. I am so excited I cannot refrain from constant giggling and wiggling. Frankly, it's weird, and it's frightening to small children.

Isn't it beautiful? We don't have it yet, but oh, we will!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stay The Night

I watched a video about the making of this video quite a while back. Then I heard the song on the radio and got excited, "It's finally out!" I've heard it dozens of times since then, so I have now memorized it. I still love it, the sound of it is mesmerizing to me. Finally, just yesterday, I stumbled across the finished product of the video I watched so long ago. It delivers more powerfully than I would have expected for such a lyrically simple song, and is fascinating to watch multiple times. Suffice to say, it made me smile and brightened my day when I was having a rough one. Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014


I'm not going to name names or companies, but I feel the need to talk about a recent, highly disappointing interaction I've had with a potential employer. I feel the need to talk about it because I'm angry and hurt and don't really know what else to do with myself at this point. I would not try to stop anyone from patronizing this place (obviously, or I'd say who it was), as I'm sure they are very competent and considerate of their clients. But that was not my experience.

Word first came to me of this place in particular almost 3 months ago from a friend. I investigated by googling them and reading up on the people involved, services provided, etc. It seemed promising, a great place to complete my CF. I contacted them the only way I could find listed on the website, one of those generic email generators where I provide my name, email, and question and they might get back to me. Over two weeks later, someone did finally contact me and this person told me they were currently interviewing and would be happy to receive my resume. A glimmer of hope bloomed in my heart. The area I live in is fed by a lot of different graduate programs, so while there are many job listings, they are (apparently?) overrun with applicants and I'd been struggling to get my foot in the door thus far. With cautious optimism, I sent my resume in and waited to hear back.

Another fortnight later I hadn't heard back. Unwilling to surrender as this was the only place so far to put me in contact with an actual human and not an automated application system, I emailed my contact again to follow up.

No response. Another fortnight passes. We're a month and a half in at this point. I email again.

Another fortnight. Finally my contact responds to my repeated emails and asks me if I am available for a phone interview the next day.

Success! I don't mean to brag (maybe a little) but I am a great interviewee. With only one exception, I've never interviewed for a job that I have not later been offered. This was exactly what I'd hoped for. If I could just get someone to talk to me, I felt certain I could show them what an excellent addition I would make to their team. I immediately responded with a time frame in which I was available, and anxiously awaited the phone call the next day.

Nothing. No phone call. In the early afternoon, after our interview window had ended, I emailed my contact to ensure the person had my number correct and discover if there had been some unforeseen issue that co-opted our appointment time. (Our correspondence was exclusively through email because my contact never provided me with a number by which they could be reached.) No response that day or the next. Then came the weekend, during which I did not expect contact, but I still didn't hear back on Monday. Finally, this process having been drug out over 2 months thus far, I called the general number on Tuesday. It connected me to an automated menu that listed 3 options: clients make an appointment, clients pay their bill, and the facility's contact information (redundant, don't you think, since I had clearly already found their number?). I chose bill pay because I figured that was most likely to get me to a person.

I spoke to someone who never provided their name and explained that for reasons unknown, my contact had missed our appointment the week before. The person on the line with me assured me my name and number would be passed along, and I was left to play the waiting game again.

Nothing the rest of that week, no contact.

I called again early the next week and couldn't even get to a person this time. I left a message. No response.

Finally, that weekend, I send a respectful but matter-of-fact email to a general email address that I'd be able to find and explained that I'd been waiting 2 weeks for some feedback about my missed appointment, and hadn't received any response to my 2 phone calls (didn't make any mention of the previous 2 months I'd waited to get to that point). I attached my resume, adding that I thought my name had been passed along to someone different that the person I'd originally been speaking with and I wanted this new person to have access to it. Monday, I finally heard back.

The new person apologized twice for the delay in getting back to me and explained that the facility had been making some staff changes and my name and situation had slipped through the cracks. New person asked if I would still be available for a phone interview in 2 weeks.

I again, somewhat hesitantly, celebrated. I was now in contact with, it seemed, the right person. We had scheduled the interview with much more advance notice, so odds were good it would actually happen, I would be charming, cue job offer. Finally.

Today was that day. 2 weeks I spent preparing myself for this interview. Nerves and hopes were both high that today, almost 3 months after initial contact, I would finally get somewhere with this facility. I slept poorly and suffered through nervous nightmares. Finally, I got up hours early and tried to distract myself with the internet and the Bible. I set up an interview station with everything laid out that I might need to refer to in order to answer questions. I sequestered myself away from Fiance, Moose-dog, and all other living beings in the house (except bugs, probably) and anxiously waited.

Ring, ring.

Hello? This is she! Nice to talk to you to. Yes, I did have a good weekend. And yourself?

I think I mentioned it in the email, but we actually don't have any open positions right now. I just like to meet people in the field and develop a good size set of names I can pull from should a need arise. So tell me about yourself.

We chatted very generally for a few minutes more, and I think it went well enough that my name will remain on the list of future possibilities, but almost immediately, my hopes were crushed. I had trouble not breaking down right then and there on the phone, and I'm still fighting the urge. Are you kidding me?! I spent 3 months chasing after you people because you implied you had openings and no one would freaking just talk to me and tell me what was going on! And NO, you didn't mention that there was no position. Why would I interview for a position that doesn't exist?!

Chasing this particular lead down did not technically prevent me from following other opportunities, and I have been sending out emails, resumes, and applications to other places in the meantime. I've made phone calls and talked to other agencies. But I focused most of my energy on this opportunity because they repeatedly lead me to believe there was an actual opportunity and I'd been able to get in contact with the people directly in charge of interviewing and hiring, something I hadn't been able to accomplish with other places. Of course, once in contact with those people, they were ridiculously unprofessional in the sense that they repeatedly ignored my emails and messages and shoved me under the rug, but that really only made me more determined. Maybe you won't hire me, but dammit, you are going to say that to my face! I refused to allow them to ignore me so I would go away. If you don't have a job for me, just say so!

I guess, in that way, I got my wish. But it would have been really nice, and frankly and hell of a lot more professional, if they'd just said so from the beginning so I didn't waste my effort on them for 3 months. I could have been chasing someone else down.

Fiance and I discussed how it was kind of like a shitty relationship. Some douche-y guy that keeps giving you just enough positive feedback to make you think there's a chance, so you don't want to just walk away because what if this is the one? But it never quite happens and finally he just cuts you loose after all your other prospects are gone.

And that's the part that is most upsetting. I've focused a lot of energy on this place because I kept getting promised an interview for a (though I didn't yet know it) non-existent job. I've already applied to everything else in the area that I'm qualified for. I've even applied for some things I'm not (yet) qualified for and listings not in the area, but after 4 months of unemployment, I no longer have the funds to relocate for a job. I don't know where I go from here.

What do I do now?

It's-a Me! Mario!

Today has already been a bit rough (see the regular post forth-coming) and so I've decided I'm going to stare at this gif until I feel better. It's going pretty well. Nerdy, funny, and cute, how could you not Smile? Here's hoping everyone's Monday is a good one!

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Sorry for the late post all. I've finally returned home from my weekend traveling. Here are a few more photos from the Living Proof Live conference I attended. It was amazing! I loved every second. I laughed and cried the whole way through. I have to say, I'm not sure I've ever heard anything quite as beautiful as 9500+ women singing together unless it was 9500+ women praying together. More about this conference later, goodnight all!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Living Proof Live

I'm traveling, attending a Christian women's conference called Living Proof Live, hosted by Beth Moore. Beth is awesome, I've done some of her bible studies in the past, and she's better live. This session's theme is "The Other Side." I'll have more to say later, but for now I'll just say it's been such fun and rewarding experience. Special thanks to my mom, who invited me and is pictured below.

Friday, August 22, 2014


My dog's name is Moose, have I mentioned that before? Anyway, as is the case for many other pets, he hates baths. But as soon as someone else gets in there, he's suddenly super interested! It's pretty adorable.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


In our quest to avoid sugar, Fiance and I have been searching out sugar free creamers. Because we like coffee, but only if it tastes like something else. My future mother-in-law (fMIL) and I are both hazelnut lovers, and we're slowly converting Fiance since hazelnut and coffee go so very well together. Then, one day, we found this. Glory of glories, both sugar and fat free, and TOASTED. Let me tell you, after extensive taste testing, it does indeed have an authentic toasted flavor that differs from typical hazelnut creams. It's delicious and you need to try it. Always brightens my morning!

Go forth and drink!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Remaining

You guys, I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I LOVE scary movies. It's kind of a weird obsession. I love scary movies like I love hot sauce: It always makes me cry but I still want more!

So let's talk about a new scary movie coming soon. As you should have guessed from the title of the post, the title of the movie (dun-dun-DUN!) The Remaining! It comes out on the 5th of September, so it'll be here soon for us all to enjoy by screaming and hiding under our blankets. Check out the trailer:

In case you didn't put it together, this is a scary movie about the Biblical rapture, that is, the taking of the souls of the saved while those left behind suffer through the apocalypse. That's a simplified explanation, and if you want more detail grab a copy of the Good Book and get to reading Revelations. There are detailed descriptions of how everything will go down. Descriptions that the writer/director of the film, Casey La Scala, took to heart when creating it. He promises Biblical accuracy.

I've got to say, as a Christian as well as a horror fan, I'm pretty intrigued by this cross-over. I'd certainly like to believe that the end of days wouldn't be so terrifying for those left behind, but it does kind of make sense. And while I know La Scala specifically approached the project intending to make a horror flick and not just a retelling of Revelations, it's still nice to see that he's not treating the source material as a joke or simply mining it for money. This is a project that matters to him, that he's been working on for some time. 

The "taking" of saved persons is radically different from representations in other interpretations of the rapture, specifically the full-on disappearance of people portrayed in the Left Behind series. Personally, La Scala's version makes more sense to me. Those of you familiar with the text will already know, but Christians are promised new bodies upon our arrival in heaven, perfect vessels free of disease and defect. Why would we need to bring our old bodies with us only to have them immediately replaced? Also, people die and go to heaven now (depending on your beliefs) and they don't take their bodies. La Scala gives a detailed explanation of why he chose this protrayal, and I suggest you read the whole article linked for more information about the film.

"In really diving into the word ‘paralambano’ — the Greek word … what’s interesting is that same word is used when the angel tells Joseph about Mary — ‘Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,’” Peluso said of scripture. “So obviously to take her … is not to make her disappear. It’s another shade of this word, to bring someone into yourself — to receive them.”

All in all, the film looks really interesting and scary to me, while remaining respectful of and accurate to the source material, which holds a lot of importance to a lot of people. It's definitely on my to watch list, so in a few weeks I'll report back on how it delivered.

If you're looking for something scary to watch in the meantime, Oculus recently came out on DVD...
A scary movie starring Amy Pond and Starbuck? I'm there and I'm scared!

Chicken Noodle

Yesterday, to quote myself, I "Woke up at 6 am with the kind of headache that made me believe I needed to wrap my head in bandages or the pieces of my skull would separate and float away and my brain would leak out. So my perfect fiancé made me chicken noodle soup from scratch and I'm sitting here in PJs and sunglasses eating my soup. It's awesome, he's awesome, and I feel a little better."

And today, here is that soup!

He also made me chili-cheese hot dogs and cookies because I was craving them and felt bad. What a guy, right? I'm definitely keeping him!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bird is the Word

For the first time, this is not a photo from my life. It's technically not a photo at all, but that's not the point. I found it, it made me laugh hysterically, so I want to pass that joy onto you. May it brighten your Tuesday with a Smile!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wedding Planner

(Here's a dreaded wedding post! Aaaiiee! Run for the hills!)

A friend recently asked me how my wedding plans were going. Our conversation inspired me to respond to that privately-asked question in a public post, weeeee! So here we are. And the answer is!




I mean, okay, not literally everything, and not literally hate, but I'm turning out to be waaaaaay more picky than I ever would have thought. I hate to describe myself as a non-traditional bride because I've seen enough reality TV shows to know that EVERYONE is a "non-traditional bride" these days. Non-tradition is the new tradition. And honestly, even if I don't love it, I do find lots of stuff that I like. At first. The thought process goes something like this:

Hmm, that might work.
It's cute.
Is it cute?
Is cute the best we can do?
You know, it's really not that cute.
It's just weird.
People will be confused.
People will be confused and offended.
I will be confused and offended.
It's terrible and I hate it!
What idiot ever thought this would work?!

And so the thing, whatever it is, gets cast aside and we start all over again. I spent weeks - weeks! - trying to find some music that I wanted to walk down the aisle to. Every time I would find something a little pretty, I would listen to it 2 or 3 times, and suddenly it was awful.

Seriously, eventually this:


Similarly, it has taken me two months to find a wedding band, and it's (you guessed it!) non-traditional. It's been so difficult to find stuff because everything normally associated with weddings is abhorrent to me, and I'm not really sure why. This weirdo (you can't tell, but I'm pointing at my face) doesn't even like cake! Because my hatred of everything is so rampant, fickle, and irrational, I won't post any of the choices I've FINALLY made here. I've saved links to them so I can use/purchase them someday, but I don't look at them anymore to prevent hate-growth. I really have to try not to even think of them.

All in all, though, it's actually been a pretty fun process so far. Even when it's hard to find something I like, I have the luxury of spending a lot of time on it right now, so I'm trying to nail stuff down to at least 2 or 3 top options, so once I'm working all I have to worry with is paying for everything. That'll be the easy part - HAHA, I made a funny! - but really, I am trying to keep things on the low end price wise. I want a pretty wedding, but I also want no debt and the ability to buy a house at some point. I just don't see the rationale behind spending a house sized budget on a wedding. You guys can use your money to get drunk, I'm not paying for it!

I have found some useful resources that keep me organized and provide a little guidance. The Knot is handy for creating a free wedding website so you can keep guests up to date on plans. It also reduces the cost of paper goods because your save-the-dates and invites can direct people to your site, which in turn can provide all that extra info people often include with invitations (directions, accommodations, nearby activities and attractions, etc.) I would not use it to assist with planning however, as it is a VERY traditional site. Weddings according to The Knot, must be executed in a very particular way, following a very particular timeline and using a very large budget. Some better options for the planning side are Offbeat Bride for more eclectic and less stereotypical ideas, and Wedding Wire for the budget conscious bride. Pinterest is always good for inspiration, too. If you like a hard copy planner, like me, this is the one I chose. It's got tons of useful information about timelines, budgets, and just general wedding stuff. It comes with a tote and a hole-punch and extra space for adding your own worksheets and pages as well (don't love the pink, though). Finally, specifically for paper goods, I found Postable. Postable let's you email your guests, who then click on the included link and fill out their mailing information. Postable compiles that list for you so your mailing list is organized and easily available, plus, portable! I'm pretty sure you can even print labels from it! The down side is that people have to follow through on the email, and you'd have to get everyone's email, so it's not a perfect solution. Still seems like it's worth a shot.

courtesy of the offbeat bride website linked above

I'll leave you in peace now, as I know it's gets old hearing about other people's wedding plans unless you're planning one of your own. Happy Monday, everyone!


I did enjoy the coffee, but more to the point, check out this mug! Ever since some commercial I can't even actually remember, I have wanted clear glass coffee cups. I don't yet have my own place (see: unemployed) so I haven't searched that assiduously thus far, but I still like to check whenever I visit a home good store just in case. I've not found them yet. Even if I do find clear ones, they are inevitably plastic to prevent easy breaking. That might be practical, but it annoys me. I want glass, darn it! I'm sure they are easily found on the internet, when the time comes for me to purchase, but I was so pleased to finally see and hold one IRL. It was exactly as I'd always dreamed! And confirmed that I do indeed want glass. This one, found when I ordered coffee at an Italian restaurant, is more of a mug while I want a cup, but you get the idea.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Engagement Party!

You guys, this was an awesome time. If you were there, you know. It lasted 8 hours, all told. We drank, ate, and were merry, We played lots of games, Cards Against Humanity among them, and just generally had a blast. Best engagement party ever!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why Doesn't She Just Leave? Abuse part 4

The above is a video starring a woman named Leslie Morgan Steiner about her book Crazy Love in which she discusses why victims of domestic violence don't just leave. It's about 15 minutes long and well worth your time to watch, and I'll break it down in text as well.

Leslie discusses the typical stages an abuser moves through in order to keep the victim on the hook, so to speak, using her own life as an example:

(Please note that for the sake of easy, consistent noun/pronoun usage, we're going to discuss the scenario of a heterosexual male abuser and a heterosexual female abuse victim. This is of course, not always the case. Abuse can and does happen in other situations as well, and in fact, over 40% of domestic violence victims are male.)

Step 1: Seduce and charm

Exactly what it sounds like. The abuser will present themselves as a charming, and typically somewhat damaged individual (this lays the ground work for violent behavior later ). Leslie's boyfriend told her how he himself was abused as a child* which gave him a sense of vulnerability and openness designed to further entice her. Abusers typically target young women in their teens or early 20s with little or no relationship experience and lavish attention on this person. The abuser will make his partner feel special and loved (and may even believe themselves that they do love her) in order to manipulate her into a long term, committed relationship so she will be reluctant to leave later without making some attempt to repair the relationship.

Step 2: Isolate

Also, pretty self-explanatory. The abuser encourages their partner to separate from family and friends, often presenting completely reasonable-seeming reasons why. Leslie provides the example of her now fiance (future abuser) telling her that he got a job offer elsewhere and finally felt strong enough to pursue it because she had helped him so much, pressuring her to move away from her known life to a small town some distance away. This step can refer to the use of emotional or geographical isolation, and often both. This way, when the violence starts, the victim feels she has no support system, no one to turn to except the abuser himself. (Of course, most of us have family and friends that would come to our aid in such a situation regardless of the distance, but we'll get to that in a second.)

Step 3 Introduce the threat of violence

In Leslie's case, she describes a scene in which her fiance held a gun to her head. At the time, he did not physically harm her (that comes later), but made it abundantly clear he could. The goal in this stage is to gauge the victims reaction to the threat, which informs the type and prevalence of violence later introduced. This is the stage in which emotional abuse begins, degrading the victim's sense of self-worth, convincing her - slowly, with oft repeated insults and verbal cruelty - that no one would find her worthwhile. This increases her emotional isolation and makes her less likely to turn to others for help. He blames his outbursts alternatively on her and his violent past so that she never really sees him as an "abuser," but someone who is damaged (remember how he laid the groundwork for this in step 1). This is also the stage of throwing things, breaking things, and making it known that there are weapons in the house, that violence may happen at any time.

Step 4: Violence

This is when what most people traditionally think of as "abuse" begins. Please take a second and note that it took us 3 steps and several months (if not years) in the relationship to get here. This is one part of the reason victims don't "just leave him!" If one met a man for the first time, or even the second or third, and he punched you, of course you would report him! But by now the victim has been in "love" with her abuser for the long term. They've established a life together. And similar to the way it took time to work up to violence, the acts of violence also slowly build from (relatively) minor transgressions to major harm. In Leslie's case, the first time her abuser hurt her was just days before their wedding. He choked her and then almost immediately apologized, blaming his actions (as we discussed above) on stress and his past experiences. She still walked down the aisle. Eventually the beating became more brutal and more frequent. And here we see the reason why women/men/whoever is suffering at the hands of an abuser stay.

Why does she stay?!
Because the victims of domestic violence/abuse don't know they're being abused. They don't know their partner an abuser. In Leslie's words: "I was a very strong women in love with a deeply troubled man, and I was the only person on Earth who could help [my abuser] face his demons." Hence her term "crazy love."

Step 5 : Murder/stalking

This is what happens when victims do finally leave, if they can. Here is the answer to the title question, but we'll come back to that. After the end of the relationship, the abuser will spend months to years stalking their victim. Social media, phone calls, email, text messages, all to prolong contact, often even after the abuser has entered into another relationship. If the couple had children, the abuser will take advantage of the family court system to prolong contact with his victim and torment her through their children. Finances can be manipulated to maintain contact as well. As I said, it can take years to fully escape them.

If you survive your escape.

So why doesn't she just leave?!
Because leaving is dangerous and often deadly. Over 70% of domestic violence related murders happen after the relationship has ended. As Leslie explains, at this point, the abuser has nothing to lose.

At the end of the video, Leslie comes to her point that initially inspired me to write this series. She points out that abuse thrives in silence, so we must break that silence and talk about it. Leslie got out when she told others about her abuse and they helped her. My situation was slightly different in that I haven't spoken about my experience with abuse much before (though I did cover it briefly and vaguely on my old blog), but I still reached out for help and got it. So talk. Talk about abuse. Spread the knowledge you've gained from my writing the the resources I've linked. And PLEASE, be considerate when you talk. Be compassionate. For so many people, the questions "Why did she stay?" and "Why didn't she just leave?" are code for "It's her fault; she should've just walked out." I hope you all understand now that it's just not that simple.

I leave you with one final PSA (in 2 parts):

*I want to clarify that this excuse is absolute horseshit. It's not impossible that someone who was abused could later in life become an abuser, I suppose, but it is not typical. It used to be considered likely, even one of the key contributing causes of abuse, that the abuser had been a victim themselves in childhood. Here is a great Upworthy post about it (please read, it's a short comic!) as well as the Wikipedia entry the comic refers to:
Causal factors of child sex offenders are not known conclusively.[126] The experience of sexual abuse as a child was previously thought to be a strong risk factor, but research does not show a causal relationship, as the vast majority of sexually abused children do not grow up to be adult offenders, nor do the majority of adult offenders report childhood sexual abuse. The US Government Accountability Office concluded, "the existence of a cycle of sexual abuse was not established."

This is the part 4 of a multi-part series about abuse, addressing my personal experience, representations in media, and general information. Additions to the series will be published on Saturdays. Find part 1 here part 2 here, and part 3 here.

The next installment in the series will cover my personal experience with abuse, laid out with the general framework provided in this post courtesy of Leslie Morgan Steiner's work. Find part 5 here.