physical abuse

Article “Domestic Violence Strikes Home”

Agnesian HealthCare Domestic Violence Program Coordinator Tiffany Wiese said many victims are often hesitant to call police because they fear that their abuser will retaliate against them.

“Until our systems become more consistent in dealing with abusers through prosecution and rehabilitation, victims will probably continue to be fearful,” Wiese said.

“Victims should report in order to hold abusers accountable and keep their families safe, but the reality is that this may put the victim and their family in more danger.”

Many victims of domestic violence stay in a relationship out of fear, said Lindee Kimball, executive director of Solutions Center of Fond du Lac. Last year Solutions Center assisted 225 victims of domestic abuse.

“Victims try to leave their partners about seven times. They go back thinking things will be good for a while,” said Kimball.

“It’s all about the power and control that the abuser exerts over the victim. They think it’s easier to go back and deal with it, hoping it won’t happen again. The scariest part is when they do leave. The abuser hates the fact that the victim is taking that power back. That’s usually when something happens.”

….Under Wisconsin law judges don’t know if domestic abusers own firearms. And if an abuser lies about owning guns or ignores a court order to turn them over there is often no follow-up and no penalty.

….Last year a relatively high number of children — nearly 25 percent — were killed by their fathers or other adult male household members.

“The male abuser knows what’s dearest to a mother — her children. They know they can hurt her most by taking them or harming them,” Kimball said.

….The Fond du Lac Police Department launched an enhanced victim follow-up protocol this summer led by the Domestic Violence Intervention Team. Officers accompany victims to meetings with counselors/advocates at Agnesian HealthCare or Solutions Center to obtain additional information or offer counseling services victims may need following an assault.

….Kimball said friends and neighbors can also assist domestic violence victims, especially those who try to hide the abuse.

“After Nicole Anderson died, many folks started second-guessing themselves, wondering if they had missed signs of abuse. If you’re friends with someone and you suspect abuse, don’t be afraid to ask them because just maybe they’re waiting for you to ask so they can open up that gate,” Kimball said.

“And if you think someone is being hurt address it, don’t ignore it. It might be too late next time.”

Domestic Violence Strikes Home by Colleen Kottke

 

Sentencing of Madison Mother Who Starved Her Child

The stepmother of a 15-year-old girl who ran away from home starved and vastly underweight was sentenced Friday to five years in prison on reckless endangerment and mental harm convictions.

Melinda Drabek-Chritton, 43, of Madison, had a role in the neglect of a girl who badly needed professional help to cope with lifelong emotional issues.

But although she initially tried, those issues were not addressed between 2008 and Feb. 6, 2012, when the girl ran away from home barefoot and dressed in pajamas and was found by a passer-by who called police.

……Genovese said that Drabek-Chritton and the girl’s father, Chad Chritton, initially did try to help the girl when they brought her to Wisconsin from Texas in 2006, where she had been living with her birth mother and her mother’s husband, who was a sex offender.

The girl initially claimed that the man had sexually abused her, then denied it, but Dane County Human Services investigators found there was ample evidence to show that she had been sexually abused.

After the girl’s last medical appointment in 2008, Genovese said, Chritton and Drabek-Chritton decided that they “didn’t want to be bothered with her problems and gave up.”

When the girl was found she weighed only 68 pounds. She told police that she had been confined to the basement of the family home, starved and was not allowed to use the bathroom upstairs.

She said Drabek-Chritton abused her and encouraged the girl’s younger half-brothers to treat her badly as well.

Chad Chritton, 42, was convicted in March of felony child neglect but a jury deadlocked on other charges. Prosecutors will re-try him in November.

Drabek-Chritton’s son, Joshua Drabek, 19, is scheduled to stand trial in February on sexual assault and child abuse charges. –Ed Treleven, Stepmom of girl in abuse case Sentenced to five years in prison

This statement from the above article is one reason why I fear the system may fail Richard and Tracy‘s kids (another is the slap on the wrist he got for choking his kid, and other cases I’ve read about in our state in the past several years, of kids being killed after CPS did not do its job):

But he said there is lots of blame to go around. Despite near-constant intervention with the family by Dane County Human Services, nobody helped the girl. “This case is a system failure,” Ozanne said.

CPS was called seven times on the Chrittons, but kept closing the cases as “unsubstantiated.”  Even probation agents didn’t catch it.

Reading about this case is also when I first came across this information about food hoarding.

This raised new red flags about Richard and Tracy, because they once told me their kids were hoarding lunchmeat.

Since by now we already knew about the abuse and Richard choking one of the children, my husband and I both wondered if there was more going on than we knew about.

This isn’t about kids sneaking away snack food because their parents don’t want them to have it.  This is squirreling away things like lunchmeat and other foods because you don’t know when your next meal will be:

“She said the girl’s behavior in the hospital was consistent with that of a persistently starved person. The girl ordered as many items from the menu as she could, then hoarded the food and tucked some away for later, Knox testified.” —Judge orders trial in Wisconsin starved-teen case

 

So why does a child hoard food? Often food hoarding is directly connected to significant neglect that the child has experienced in consistently having their basic needs for life sustaining food denied or inadequately met.

As a result, the child is forced to become prematurely self-reliant in meeting their own basic needs. –Charley Joyce, Child Neglect and Hoarding Food

 

Cracker crumbs found under a pillow.  Moldy food rotting under the bed. A stash of food hidden in a backpack. A child who sits at a table and eats – and eats – and eats, until you are afraid their stomach can handle no more.  Sound familiar?

…Children communicate needs through behavior. On a deeper level, this issue is not about food but about control. The child is not yet ready to trust the adults in his or her life to provide a secure, safe environment.

That trust cannot be won by threats, punishments or shaming behaviors.  This behavior does not come out of a vacuum. Rather, it is an adaptive response to deprivation. It often stems from years of food insecurity. –Lisa Dickson, The Power of Food: Tips for Handling Hoarding

 

Incidences of food maintenance syndrome have been linked to acute stress, particularly from personal traumas such as abuse or maltreatment.

In many cases, children with food maintenance syndrome have undergone periods of neglect where they did not have access to adequate amounts of food.

The child then develops a heightened survival instinct related to food; whenever the child has an opportunity to consume food, he or she does so in excess and hoards any remaining food.

In situations where food is not consistently available to meet basic needs, overeating and food hoarding are natural reactions to fight off potential future starvation.

However, these habits can continue even when food has become readily available thus causing food maintenance syndrome. The characteristics of this disorder are a sign that the person afflicted still feels insecure about whether his/her basic needs will be met….

Food maintenance syndrome is rare in the general population but there are certain demographics where it is very common.  In particular, foster children are prone to food maintenance syndrome.

Abused or neglected children who are not in foster care also frequently display symptoms of food maintenance syndrome. —Food Maintenance Syndrome

LYING, STEALING, AND HOARDING FOOD: Survival techniques gone wrong

Read more about this case here.

 

Parents, DON’T beat your children!

I just had to unfriend somebody for posting on Facebook that we should beat our children.  Dang it, people, in this day and age—!!!!!

Fortunately, she was an acquaintance, nothing closer than that.

But after the crap I went through with Richard and Tracy and how they beat/choked their children, and reporting them to CPS, and then getting stalked by them for a year for speaking up about it, I don’t want to go through this crap again with somebody else!!!!

I was already wary of this person after I heard her cuss at her kid one day.  But this confirmed it.  😛  If she had said “spank,” I would’ve let it pass.  But she used the word “beat.”  😛

I quietly unfriended her shortly after reading her post, and did not take a screen print.  But as near as I can recall her post, it was:

Parents, you should beat your children.  You need to be their parent, not their f**king friend.

Um….There’s a HUGE middle ground between beating/abusing children and being too lax.  😛

[Update 12/6/14:]  In early 2014, I saw her at a checkers tournament.  Hubby and I both were appalled when, during a discussion on child abuse, she justified grabbing her little boy’s ears, saying it didn’t hurt him, etc.

She may have said other things as well.  But this confirmed my decision to unfriend her.  Well, that and some abusive things she said about Hubby later on, which caused me to block her as well.  I also saw her smack the boy in the mouth once for using the same language she herself does.

Reblog: Photo Essay Shows How Abusers Manipulate Victims

Tonight I have found three blog posts of particular note:

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, a photographer, put together a photo essay called Photographer as Witness: A Portrait of Domestic Violence.  She didn’t go into this job planning to portray domestic violence; it just happened.

There has been some flak over her not stepping in, but keep in mind that she’s a woman, and that the police told her she could have done nothing to help, that the violence could have gotten worse.

Of course, there were others in the house, so I wonder why they didn’t gang up on the guy after calling the police?  But in any case, her photographs became important evidence against the abuser.

Photo Essay Shows How Abusers Manipulate Victims is Amanda Marcotte’s response to this photo essay.  She shows, step-by-step, how abusers can turn anyone into a victim who does not leave.

Then there is Darth Vader is a tricksy hobbit.  I don’t agree that we should be cutting off abuse victims from venting just because it bugs us, but rather put up boundaries in ourselves to keep from getting overly caught up in another’s pain. But this blog gives an excellent explanation of why abuse victims don’t just leave and get it over with, and why we should support them anyway.

As a witness and confidante to the abuses of Tracy against Richard, I did not follow what this blog recommended; I did not feel it was right to stay silent; I could not force myself to be more than a polite acquaintance to Tracy.

Tracy, like Shane, the abuser in the photo essay (pictures 18 and 19, see captions), twisted my friendship with Richard into something it wasn’t, and my actions into something they weren’t, because I saw her abuses for what they were.

I have always been a fierce defender of my friends; I could not hide my contempt for her verbally abusing, controlling and slapping my best friend Richard while she lived in my house.

So I became her target, as she manipulated Richard into believing the worst about me, until she finally found a reason to blow up at me, turn Richard against me, and force me to submit to her–so I cut her out of my life instead.

My blogs–which Richard and Tracy read a little more than a year ago–went into great detail about how horrible Tracy acted, and vented how I felt about Richard for staying and for helping her abuse me.

But I did not expect them to ever find the blogs; that was accidental.  I never meant to tell Richard all those things I felt about him staying with her and putting up with her bull****.

However, a feeling of guilt over that victim-blaming, is tempered by the discovery that Richard is also very abusive.  You can read it all in my story, here: “The Darkness Engulfs Me.”

I began to realize, after discovering that Richard had choked his 9-year-old daughter to unconsciousness, how he had manipulated me as well.  I still believe his stories of Tracy’s abuse, because I saw it for myself.

But I now see myself as a pawn he used to drive Tracy’s jealousy, to keep her tied to him, and my husband and me as pawns used by both of them against each other, while also manipulating my husband and me into feeling pity for them and giving them all sorts of stuff.

Richard would make a show of not wanting us to help them, yet somehow we kept finding out they were “in trouble”–again–and offering food/money/etc.

So not only were Richard and Tracy manipulating and abusing each other, but they were also manipulating and abusing me.

Over time, Richard was Tracy’s proxy, grooming me by trying to convince me that I was behaving horribly to Tracy, and subtly trying to make me believe that I deserved her ire for how I “behaved.”

Then this happened, when Tracy found a reason to blow up at me verbally:

6) Once the victim is groomed, wait for an opportunity to claim she provoked you, and then beat her. Maggie said jealous stuff to Shane, so he had his pretext to claim she provoked him. –from Photo essay shows how abusers manipulate victims

What Richard did in keeping me tied to him, is pretty much what is described here, but without the sex/romance/marriage parts:

One of the most heartbreaking truths is that feeling love, hearing all the words you’ve ever wanted to hear someone say to you about love, having the most intense sexual chemistry, being able to stay up all night and have long, deep, intense conversations about the things in your heart do not necessarily mean that you can build a happy life with someone.

They do not necessarily guarantee that the person who generates all those feelings will be kind to you and treat you as you deserve.

So when someone describes abusive or unkind behaviors we’re quick to say “That’s not really love” or “You shouldn’t love him” or “he doesn’t really love you” or “DTMFA.”

And we’re not necessarily wrong to think that or to say that. Obviously I personally think it’s important to fight against the way that our culture pressures people, especially women, to stay in romantic relationships even when they aren’t working.

But when we treat someone’s feelings as unreal or unimportant in skipping to the part where they should do what we want them to, we forget that finding out that the person who makes you feel such intense feelings is not really good for you and that it’s not going to end well is fucking shattering.

Breaking off a relationship that has been important to you, even if it was a dysfunctional one, entails feelings of extreme grief on the way to whatever relief and freedom is possible.

Take out the parts about sexual chemistry and make it into a friendship scenario, and you’ll see why it was so hard to break off the friendship with Richard, even with his gaslighting, devaluing/discarding, and Tracy’s abuses.

Also, I am a very shy, quiet person, as well as an introvert, who struggles to make friends, so I was very lonely.  I have had many deep, abiding friendships in my life, but most of those friends live far away now, and I had always wanted a friend who would be my “bosom friend” (as Anne Shirley terms it), who would always be there throughout my life.

Richard seemed to be that friend.

(Don’t say that’s my husband’s job.  He’s my husband; that’s a different role altogether; you don’t sleep with your friends.  Everybody needs friends outside their marriage.)

And yes, breaking off the friendship did cause extreme grief which continues to this day.

Richard also groomed me in this way:

People in abusive relationships are used to being told what to do and how to feel. They are also used to having a lot of drama – extremely high highs and low lows – as normal.

An abuser will try to convince a victim that their feelings aren’t real or don’t matter. And they will try to convince them that really outlandish, not okay behaviors are normal and okay.

And that it’s normal & expected to have screaming fights, or be constantly dealing with cheating & jealousy & control, or to have sex when you don’t really want to.

An abuser’s message is: This is normal and also the best you can ever expect from life. If you told other people, they wouldn’t believe you. –from Darth Vader is a tricksy hobbit

Richard didn’t have screaming fights with me etc., but when I objected to how Tracy treated him, he tried to make me believe these things are normal and not abusive.

Not only that, but when Tracy screamed at me over Facebook and wanted to scream at me in person as well, Richard and Tracy both tried to make me think this was “normal,” that “99 percent” of people would behave the same way she was behaving over my supposedly horrible “behavior.”

If you want to read an in-depth account of the psychological twisting done by abusers, just read my accounts linked above, which were written a short time after the abuse occurred.