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TECHNOLOGY CAN HARM

Generally, I welcome new technology, on my phones and on my computer. Google is my favorite for answering all kinds of curious whims. However, in one instance Google Maps did harm that can affect many women who rely on secrecy for their safety.

Recently, in Santa Rosa, California, Google maps listed the YMCA’s safe house for abused women and their children. To be fair, anyone looking for the shelter by name would have received a response saying that the shelter was in an undisclosed location. So far, so good.

However the program for the map did not pickup the undisclosed location message. The arrow pointed to exactly the location of the shelter on the street map.

An article in the Press Deomocrat tells us that when they were informed of the error, Google erased the location from the map. I hope their action was timely and that no resident was harmed as a result.

I believe in openness in the press and online. I feel that we citizens have the right to correct information about the world we live in. We seem to expect nowadays that we no longer have much privacy unless we ensure that our data is encrypted to the extent that even we cannot access it without several additional steps.

This is not just a local issue. Nationally and worldwide we need to consider the affect our actions have on our fellow citizens. No matter how clever technology becomes, its developers must act with accuracy and compassion when it comes to keeping us safe. I include military installations, the president’s itinerary, and safe houses for threatened crime-witnesses in my recommendation for secure location information.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, stricken and crippled by polio, the press willingly cooperated with the White House in not publishing photos of his struggles to stand and walk. Unfortunately in its search for top ratings, the media often forgets such courtesies today. Texters seem to consider any thought or occasion as a subject for public distribution.

I’ve noticed that since technology gave us the opportunity to instantly access information, the respect for even contracted nondisclosure agreements and personal privacy is weakening and in some cases it has disappeared.

Just because we can access private information, we don’t have the right to do so when safety of abused women is at stake. I support the effort to banish the addresses of all domestic violence shelters from Google’s  and other search engines’ data base.

Has your shelter been “outed” by a search engine?  Was anyone hurt by the disclosure? My readers and I would like to hear about it and about what you did to correct the error. Please respond to this post or email me at clw@clwoodhams.com.

Peace,

C.L.Woodhams, author.

The Outreach Committee, a multiple award winning suspense novel

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NEW TOOLS FOR OBTAINING CONTROL

We have often discussed in this blog the reality that an abuser acts from a need to control. While I don’t believe that a person has the right to control another, I have to recognize that for some the need exists.  Thinking about this need, and the horrific shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, I realized that the shooter tried to control his world too. I began to think of tools a person could use, other than anger and violence,  to control their surroundings.

Here are some tools that I suggest a controller/abuser use as a substitute:

  • Goals: Define what you really want in life and set goals to achieve it. When you use a pre-determined plan properly, you always know what your position is and where you are going. If life is not bringing you to your destination fast enough, change the plan and set different goals. Violence does not provide predictability because of its very nature.
  • Education: Study those around you to learn how to handle situations that you may encounter by negotiating instead of hitting. The more you know, the better you are at controlling conversation or situations.
  • Listening:. If given a chance, people will tell you where they are heading, what drives them, and give you clues as to how you can interact with or even control them, if that is what you need.
  • The world is about all of the people in it: Rich, poor, educated in your way, or not, young, old with a variety of religions, races, and cultural practices. If your need to control dictates that you must change something, nudge it in the right direction. You will be more effective than when you slash them with a knife or knock them over the head.
  • Identify opportunities: Be the first in a crowd to introduce yourself to a new person. Learn about that new person. Become a mentor. Use their knowledge to further your goals. Introduce your new friend to others and be in charge.
  • Love: When it is expressed, love goes a long way to bring control and make changes. The confessed shooter in Charleston told police that the church members were so nice to him that he seriously considered not going through with his horrific deed. If only he’d let them love him longer.
  • Compassion: Approaching a situation with compassion brings admiration, power and control your way.
  • Forgiveness. In court, the Mother Emmanuel victims’ families, just hours after their loved ones were gunned down, offered foregiveness to the shooter. How strong is their control of public opinion!

Anger and abuse are prevalent in many households, and in local, state and national governments as well as on the international level.  It’s not right on any level and I doubt that it is ever more productive than the avenues I’ve suggested above.

What are your thought on this issue? My readers and I would like to hear from you. Please reply to this post or email me at clw@clwoodhams.com.

Peace,

C. L. Woodhams, author of The Outreach committee, a multiple award winner.

WE’RE TAKING NOTICE

The other day, I discussed my suspense novel, The Outreach Committee, Because Marriage Can Be Murder, with a book club composed of fourteen middle-class women.

My book discusses the moral issues of spousal abuse and asks the question, “Is murder ever justified?” To start the discussion, I quoted the oft repeated statistic that one in three women will be abused in her lifetime. Then I asked how many of the members knew a woman who had been abused.

Because abused women are hesitant to talk about their struggles, I expected a smattering of affirmative answers. Thirteen of the fourteen women in attendance raised their hands.

I was both saddened and surprised by their response. Saddened because so many women in this small group, or people they knew, had been touched by abuse. Surprised that so many women had let it be known to someone that they had been abused.

Too many abused women feel that they will be hurt further or their lives endangered if they publicize that they are being abused. They may be right. Their abusers convince them that it is their fault that the abuse happens in the first place. Abused women are often convinced by their abusers that they are worthless to the outside world and the women feel forced to stay in the abusive relationship for financial reasons.

We discussed and welcomed the new attention given by women, and men, in our society to domestic violence and the media’s willingness to discuss it. Famous athletes who abuse their wives and friends, have helped to bring public attention to this blemish.

We cheered on the men who participated in a charity walk—in high heels—to bring in funds for women’s shelters. We found it interesting that two men in my writers’ critique group of twelve members chose to write novels about women who escaped from domestic violence and survived.

Also in our book club discussion, we talked about the many ways that we could help sheltered women, the ones who have survived abuse and broken free, and who are setting out on their own in a new life, We can find them jobs, train them in new skills, in handling their finances, and provide furnished places to live.

We were unable to find a way to help those women whose abuse is accepted, and even expected, by their cultures. Those women whose own families would send them back to their abusers to save their families’ reputation. There is much work to be done there.

Have you and your book club discussed an interesting book by or about women who have survived and broken free from an abusive relationship? My readers and I would like to hear about it. Please reply to this post or email me clw@clwoodhams.com.

If you’d like to read reviews of The Outreach Committee, please check the following links: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-outreach-committee and http://indiereader.com/2015/04/outreach-committee/

Peace.

C.L. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice

A MISCONCEPTION ABOUT ABUSIVE MEN

In depth reader reviews are coming in for my newly published book, The Outreach Committee: Because Marriage Can Be Murder.*

Alan, who volunteers for a domestic violence hotline, is concerned that the book addresses only the abuse of women. On the hotline he has talked to men who are abused by their wives or girlfriends.

When I started this blog, I received similar comments. While I recognize that men are abused by their spouses, I chose to concentrate on violence against women. It is more prevalent, and because of their relative physical sizes, women often receive more serious injuries.

And, in many cultures it is expected, and accepted that men have the right to “discipline” their wives. The opposite “right” is not given to women.

Alan also said, “I don’t know any abusive men.” Alan, I hope this is true. But let me tell you about a fact echoed by many of the women I interviewed while I was writing The Outreach Committee. Abusive men are very social and well liked by the people in their community outside of the home.

When these men court their wives they are charming, caring, and gift giving. As the door closes on their honeymoon, the bridegroom’s need to control takes over. In one instance, he tore up all of the men’s business cards in his successful wife’s sales contact file. In another he culled “suggestive” items from his wife’s closet, and threw them away.

My heart hurts for the new brides who are abused. They didn’t have a clue before marriage that their husbands were abusers. Now they are faced with ending their marriages or putting up with controlling and abusive men for the rest of their lives.

Did you have an abusive shock when your honeymoon ended? My readers and I would like to hear about it. And about how you resolved the situation. Please comment on this post by replying to it or by email to me at clw@clwoodhams.com.

Peace,

CL. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice.

*Available in print from Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com. In electronic format it’s available on Kindle and many other e readers.

IDENTIFYING AN ABUSED WOMAN

We’ve talked about how a woman can tell if the man she’s dating is a potential abuser.  We haven’t talked as much about how to identify an abused woman so that we can offer help.

You have a good friend who is worrying you:

  • She used to be the life of a party, always suggesting new things to do: go to the beach or a concert, hike the trails in the nearby mountains. make a party.
  • She refuses invitations, saying her husband wants to spend more time with her alone.
  • She changed her dress style, wearing clothes that are more like your mother would wear, with high necklines and long sleeves. She says her husband chose the clothes when he shopped with her.
  • You talk to her mother who practically raised you with your friend and hear that the husband doesn’t like big crowds, especially family gatherings.
  • She’s moving around like she’s an old woman with arthritis.
  • She can’t seem to make a decision without consulting her husband.
  • Sha has a good job and makes a good salary, but she has to borrow lunch money from you.
  • She doesn’t laugh as much.
  • She’s spending more time at work and doing less.
  • You ask her what’s wrong and she starts to talk and then stops and shakes her head.
  • When her husband is around, she agrees with everything he says in discussions, even when she is more knowledgeable than he is about the subject.
  • She tells you that her husband dislikes her family, then admits that he doesn’t like her friends all that much either.
  • She stops attending parties, even the girls-only ones.
  • She laughs off dark bruises on her wrists, saying she’s just clumsy, been cleaning closets, fell on the stairs, tripped on a rug, etc.
  • When you are with her, her husband calls her constantly, wanting to k now what she is doing and when she is coming home.

Should you be concerned? Maybe. The changes in your friend could be caused by a normal evolution of friendship. Or, your friend may have changed because she married a man who is compelled to maintain complete control at home, even if he has to abuse his wife to do so.  The outwardly charming man she married may have turned her marriage into a nightmare.

Take her aside. Ask her in private what is going on. Tell her you’ve noticed changes in her. Talk about her husband. Look for signs of his attempting to exercise complete control of her life. Look for signs of emotional, financial or physical abuse. Offer help.

If your friend denies that she is being abused or appears afraid of her husband, and you are convinced he is hurting her, you must prepare to help her in the future. Research the location of shelters for abused women in your area. Check on her frequently. Give her advice about assembling copies of family papers for an emergency. Then you will be able to jump in and help her when she breaks free.

Have you helped a friend break free from an abusive relationship? If so, my readers and I would like to hear about your experience, and hers. Please reply to this post or email me at clw@clwoodhams.com.

Peace,

C. L. Woodhams, author, The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice

A MUST READ

In the January 6, 2015 San Diego Union Tribune’s Dear Abby column, Abby answers a reader’s question about her relationship with a list of the warning signs of an abusive man. If you have questions about the potential of a man in your life to become an abuser, you must read this column headlined “Moody new husband shows signs of an abuser.”

If you do not have access to a newspaper, you can contact Abby at www.DearAbby.com or write her at P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles CA, 90069, USA.

Peace,

C. L. Woodhams, author of The Outreach Committee

THE MEDIA HAS CREATED A FORUM FOR ABUSED WOMEN 

Although we regret the need, still, for support to abused women, I am pleased to say that the newest and fastest growing support group for our cause against relationship violence is the media.

It started with their showing the videos of an NFL player’s elevator treatment of his then fiancée, now wife.  TV land took on one of its big cash cows and ran the story over and over. I’ll not go into their motive; we’re grateful for their bringing attention to our cause. Nor will I go into the reaction of the team’s upper management. This is about new spotlights on the evil of spousal abuse.

It encouraged me to see the “talking heads” on the morning and evening newscasts blink back tears when they reported what was done to the woman involved. Not a one asked what the woman did to deserve it, as I have heard from men in the past.

Recently, Tameron Hall of the Today Show made a presentation about her beloved sister’s fatal encounter with an abuser. Now women talk publically about being drugged and abused by a comedian who had the power to draw large audiences around the world. They do this even though the statutes of limitation are long past. I heard one newscaster remark that the “industry” had known about the comedian’s actions for a long time. The media didn’t dare bring the subject up back then, but they are willing to address it now. Progress is slow, but welcome.

A psychologist linked the comedian’s actions to the actor’s need for power and control. The comedian is not accused of spousal abuse. His wife calls him an ideal husband and father.  However, my readers understand that the need for control is behind the abuse of a woman.

What would be the media coverage of O. J. Simpson today? Would it include more than his trial and his football career? I like to think that it would also cover and chastise him for his domestic violence.

Each weekday afternoon, Dr. Phil addresses emotional topics and offers help to victims. His subjects often are abused women. It is hard to listen to their stories, but he does, and then provides them venues to assist in their recovery. His wife, Robin, is active in obtaining help for abused women through her foundation, “When Georgia Smiles” She also encourages men’s groups to discuss domestic violence and to offer help to those who shelter victims.

When I told women that I had started writing a suspense novel about domestic violence (The Outreach Committee, by C.L. Woodhams), several women admitted to me that they had suffered spousal abuse. Some were still experiencing it. Now, we hear women talking about the comedian’s many exploits and confessing that they had been duped and drugged in the same way by other men. It’s not that they are going to bring a lawsuit; it’s that they are relieved to be able to talk about the horrible experience without hurting themselves. I like to believe that these women coming forth reflect change in our culture. Women are becoming stronger and demanding their own place in society. They are showing their true selves, not just the persons that the men in their lives want them to be.

In my opinion, intimate and sexual activity among loving partners should be private. However I welcome with open mind and heart the media’s bringing our attention to relationship violence.

Have you, or someone in your life recently admitted that they were abused by a spouse or partner? Did they find support from men and women when they did so? How did you help them? My readers and I would like to hear about your experience. Please email me at clw@clwoodhams.com or reply to this post.

Peace,

C.L. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee. and Sweet Justice (Available from Amazon.com or Amazon.eur.)