Recent Blog Posts

Recent Posts

The Abuser And Food

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Now that we’ve entered the holiday season, abuse seems to escalate in so many ways. Food is such an important part of enjoying the festivities along with certain customs and traditions connected with food and other pleasures. Sometimes the abusers decide to use food as a way to assert power and control limiting what their partner eats or shaming them for their food choices. Sometimes the abuser convinces her to break contact with her family, and she views this as being protective—especially when her childhood has been abusive. She thinks he’s going to take care of her instead of isolating her.

In my novel, Katie experiences both shaming and controlling what she eats by her husband, Claude, as seen in a restaurant with her friend Gillian and her husband when Katie tries to order what she wants—pasta—and Claude says it’s too fattening. He tells Katie to order the chicken paillard with salad instead. Gillian confronts Claude and says Katie has a right to order what she wants, but Katie caves into Claude to avoid confrontation. She undresses in her closet to avoid his criticism of her “fat body” even though she is a size 6. He’s obsessed with women gaining weight and hates Katie’s pregnant form. He seems to value the starving model figure of young females that in some ways resemble adolescent males over the feminine. He has also tried to isolate Katie from her parents and Gillian. Katie is happy to have distance from her parents and sees it as protective on Claude’s part.   She tries to separate from Gillian to stop her probing questions about Claude and his obscene remarks about Gillian, but Gillian will not give up. She keeps offering help, suggesting Katie report Claude for abuse, suggesting therapy and offering Katie and Rose a place to stay. Katie refuses. She doesn’t want to put Gillian in a difficult position professionally with her father and Claude, but Gillian’s support motivates Katie to make a plan to get out.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Sex And The Surgeon

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

My mother, who was an operating room nurse, inspired me to follow her into the nursing profession. She told many stories of surgeons misbehaving in and out of the operating room, and in the 1970s they got away with it. She saw surgeons grab nurses behinds and refer to them as “easy.” A quickie in the medication room in between cases or on the operating room table before the next patient often occurred. The reason given for this behavior was the need to satisfy the huge libido of the surgeon—that was the excuse—but it was imbalance of power and in some cases, fear of the nurse losing her job. One operating room nurse reported a well-known surgeon for sexual harassment. As he cut his patient open and moved his knife in deeper he kept referring to it as “like making love—the separation of the flesh, the penetration of the knife.” He kept on, and the nurse said she was offended and asked him to stop. He continued, and she reported him. She was fired.

In my novel, Dr. Callahan, Katie’s father, when operating on a patient, describes the process in a similar way to the surrounding doctors, Katie and audience. Gillian, his assistant and good friend of Katie’s, looks at her as if to say, “Is he kidding?” But it goes no further. Katie knows he’s not—she’s used to hearing that and much more. He refers to women as “girls,” beats his wife with a wooden stick and has picked Katie’s husband, his fellow Claude, for her with little room to say, “No.”

Recently there has been a focus on sexual harassment—verbal and physical—and rape. Let’s hope this is a new phase and that laws are changed so that the process for the victim is not only made easier but fair. We need to break the silence and speak out for change.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

 

 

 

 

Eating The Leftovers

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

I hope you were all safe over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Often domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse escalate during the holidays. When I worked in the emergency room, I saw it over and over. Drugs and alcohol played a part along with high expectations of family and disappointments. I remember a young woman who came in with a knife wound on her arm and said her boyfriend had cut her because she had embarrassed him in front of his friends. She spilt the leftovers she was holding to grab her bloodied arm, and he forced her to eat the food off the floor. “I’ll cut your throat if you don’t,” he said. “The worst part of it is that he did it in front of my three-year-old son,” she cried.

This scenario is all too frequent, and I wrote about it in my novel. Katie is battered by her famous plastic surgeon husband on Christmas night in her daughter Rose’s bedroom when she is putting Rose to bed. The child tries to stop it by screaming, “Stop! Don’t hurt my Mommy,” to no avail as Katie lies on the rug waiting for it to be over. This incident is the turning point for Katie—next time he could kill her— she decides to make a plan. She will never be able to change what her daughter saw or forget her screams, but she can try to never let it happen again. With no support from her family, no job and little money she begins to plan an escape—but it will take time to implement. Her husband controls all the finances, but she saves from her pocket money. An elderly woman offers her a part-time job with a flexible schedule, and Katie grabs it terrified that her husband will find out. Slowly step by step, she inches towards freedom.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Sexual Harassment In The Workplace And At Home

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

The spotlight is now on sexual harassment from Hollywood to Congress with much in between, and it’s long overdue. Women have put up with it, considered it part of the job description and have been silent out of fear. Sexual harassment and rape occur in situations where there is an imbalance of power—a young actress/actor trying to make a career—a young person in Washington trying to keep her job and move up the ladder. There has always been the “casting couch” mentality regardless of the workplace arena. It happens in relationships and marriages as well.

In my novel Katie, the heroine, is married to a famous plastic surgeon, and she is continually raped and sexually harassed by him. He thinks she’s his property and can behave any way he wants—and does. Katie has been raised to be subservient and doesn’t think about what she wants—it’s a question of pleasing her abuser so she can avoid more abuse. In the beginning, Katie uses avoidance and denial to protect herself but then opens up to her friend Gillian who is an MD. “Don’t you understand, you are being raped? He’s forcing and demeaning you to have sex against your wishes—it’s not because you’re stupid, fat, ugly or don’t prepare his meal on time—it’s not your fault—you’re terrified.” Katie is shocked by Gillian’s description but then slowly begins to think about what her friend has said.

Katie needed to be given outside information and support to realize the situation she was in. Her friend Gillian offers to help in any way she can, and Katie’s denial begins to fall apart. A new voice in her head begins to develop that says, “This is not your fault. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. Life has something else in store for you. Make a plan. Get out. You can have a new life.”

Let’s hope the spotlight on this issue continues to help the victims who have been sexually harassed, tormented and raped. We need to break the silence, support each other and speak out.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Turning False Thinking Into Positive Thinking For Children Of Domestic Violence

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

I read this article on breaking the cycle of domestic violence in children’s lives and wanted to share some of it with you.

Here are 4 falsehoods that children learn in domestic violence homes and how to counteract them:

“I AM FEARFUL. BAD THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN.” Growing up under the constant threat of violence in the home can make a person constantly on high alert. Instead think, “I HAVE MORE COURAGE THAN I KNOW.” It takes incredible strength to survive growing up and surviving a home where domestic violence was prevalent. You are resilient.

“IT WAS MY FAULT. I CAUSED IT AND I SHOULD HAVE STOPPED IT.” Children think emotionally, not rationally. Carrying around guilt can be common, and can lead to feelings of unworthiness and shame. Instead think, “I NOW REALIZE THAT I COULDN’T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF OTHERS.” Sharing your story with others helps.

“ANGER GIVES ME THE POWER AND CONTROL I NEVER HAD.” Instead think, “I TRANSFORM THE IMPULSE OF ANGER AND RESENTMENT INTO PASSION.” Feel a sense of power by controlling your anger and transforming it into a passion to achieve your dreams instead.

“GOOD THINGS DON’T HAPPEN TO PEOPLE LIKE ME.” Children can feel hopeless when witnessing domestic violence, and they may feel like nothing they do makes a difference. Instead think, “THE INJUSTICE I EXPERIENCED AS A CHILD CREATED A SPIRITUAL STRENGTH INSIDE ME.” Your life has a purpose. Believe that you made it through your childhood because you are special and guided, and there is something here for you to do and become.

For more information go to cdv.org.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Protect The Children

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

I hope you had a restful weekend. Now it’s the start of a new week, and I wanted to share more on the effects of domestic violence on children. They are the innocent victims that don’t understand what is happening—filled with fear, helplessness and self-blame—they try to find their way through this horrible maze.

One girl remembers her mother on the ground after her father threw her there. She was terrified and didn’t know what to do. Always scared of her father—to disappoint him, not be obedient and trigger a rage—always worried about her mother’s safety, she had trouble functioning in school and showed signs of depression, low self-esteem and anxiety. Now as a young adult her relationships are affected. She doesn’t trust, she’s terrified of men and has tolerated more abusive behavior than she should have in her adult life because it has seemed normal.

In my novel, SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie’s young daughter Rose witnesses her mother being beaten and thrown to the floor in her bedroom. Rose screams to have her father stop to no avail. She cannot stop him, heal her mother or control when it will happen again and feels it is her fault.

Some of the negative effects of children who have come from domestic violence situations are post-traumatic stress disorder, anger issues, anxiety and a hard time in school and getting along with other children. Some places to get help include Children’s Justice Center and Brigham Young University’s Comprehensive Clinic.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Practicing Humane Medicine

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

It’s Friday and it feels like summer—amazing weather for November. I hope you have some relaxing plans for the weekend. Harry and I are going to the Farmer’s Market tomorrow to pick up some fresh vegetables, honey and fruit. This week was difficult for Harry who has chronic pain from arthritis. Over the years, he’s had knee replacements, back surgery and shoulder rotator cuff surgery, and it has left him with chronic pain. He had an acute episode on Monday when he sneezed, and something went out in his shoulders. He was in excruciating pain with no pain medication to take. He called his rheumatoid doctor who refused to give it to him because he said he was afraid Harry might fall—he didn’t want to take a chance or get involved or have a record of prescribing medication that would put him under the spot light.

After several rejections, I called a doctor that I had worked with in the emergency room, and he agreed to write the prescription knowing it would not be abused saying, “of course, it’s the humane thing.” As a nurse, I know there is an opioid crisis, and doctors have been over prescribing, but there should be recognition of elderly patients who need relief with compassionate treatment for those who suffer—a happy medium.

In the old days, doctors and surgeons did not let their patients suffer—“give them whatever they need” was often the mantra—with alleviating pain as their primary goal. Times have changed with the current opioid issue, but let’s not forget the people who are not abusing it or addicted to it and need relief but can’t get it. Why should they suffer, and is that practicing good medicine?

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

The Shelter

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

I hope all of you were able to get some rest over the weekend. The weather has been amazing for this time of year.

Harry and I went to a shelter where we volunteer our time once a week and try to give whatever we can to help. We took toiletries from our trip abroad, clothes and shoes that no longer fit and pizza for lunch. The pizza disappeared, and we went out and got more—milkshakes, too. We’re coming back for Halloween—Harry the ghost and Pris the witch with gobs of treats. We’ve also volunteered to help for Thanksgiving, and Harry is going to be Santa this December. The children suffer life-long effects from seeing, in most cases, their mothers beaten and yelled at with no financial escape—often they are next. The children have no voice, are powerless to stop it and feel it is their fault. Sometimes, Harry and I can put smiles on their faces, get a hug and hear them laugh. We leave feeling complete—grateful to be able to give back.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Children And Domestic Violence

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and here are some statistics from different articles on children that I wanted to share.

Each year, an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence by family members against their mothers or female caretakers.
American Psychl. Ass’n, Violence and the Family: Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p. 11

  • Boys who witness domestic violence in their own home are three times more likely to become batterers.
    Straus, M.A., Gelles, R.J. & Steinmetz, S. Behind Closed Doors. Doubleday, Anchor, 1980.
  • In homes where partner abuse occurs, children are 1,500 times more likely to be abused.
    Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Family Violence: Interventions for the Justice System, 1993
  • Forty to sixty percent of men who abuse women also abuse children.
    American Psychl. Ass’n, Violence and the Family: Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p. 80
  • Fathers who batter mothers are two times more likely to seek sole physical custody of their children than are nonviolent fathers.
    American Psychl. Ass’n, Violence and the Family: Report of the American Psychological
  • Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p. 40
  • Children are exposed to or experience domestic violence in many ways. They may hear one parent/caregiver threaten the other, observe a parent who is out of control or reckless with anger, see one parent assault the other, or live with the aftermath of a violent assault. Many children are affected by hearing threats to the safety of their caregiver, regardless of whether it results in physical injury. Children who live with domestic violence are also at increased risk to become direct victims of child abuse. In short, domestic violence poses a serious threat to children’s emotional, psychological, and physical well-being, particularly if the violence is chronic.

Not all children exposed to violence are affected equally or in the same ways. For many children, exposure to domestic violence may be traumatic, and their reactions are similar to children’s reactions to other traumatic stressors.

Short-Term Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

Children’s immediate reactions to domestic violence may include:

•    Generalized anxiety

•    Sleeplessness

•    Nightmares

•    Difficulty concentrating

•    High activity levels

•    Increased aggression

•    Increased anxiety about being separated from a parent

•    Intense worry about their safety or the safety of a parent

 

Long-Term Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

Long-term effects, especially from chronic exposure to domestic violence, may include:

•     Physical health problems

•    Behavior problems in adolescence (e.g., juvenile delinquency, alcohol, substance abuse)

•    Emotional difficulties in adulthood (e.g., depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD)

Exposure to domestic violence has also been linked to poor school performance. Children who grow up with domestic violence may have impaired ability to concentrate; difficulty in completing school work; and lower scores on measures of verbal, motor, and social skills.

In addition to these physical, behavioral, psychological, and cognitive effects, children who have been exposed to domestic violence often learn destructive lessons about the use of violence and power in relationships. Children may learn that it is acceptable to exert control or relieve stress by using violence, or that violence is in some way linked to expressions of intimacy and affection. These lessons can have a powerful negative effect on children in social situations and relationships throughout childhood and in later life.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Women And Domestic Violence

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

To honor Domestic Violence Awareness month and to expose this epidemic, I wanted to include more statistics from an article that I read.

  • Every 9 seconds a woman is battered in the United States.
    AMA, 1998, Georgia Department of Human Resources, 1999
  • Nearly 5.3 million intimate partner victimization occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older. This violence results in nearly 2 million injuries and nearly 1,300 deaths.
    Center for Disease Control, 2003
  • Conservatively, each year 1 million women suffer nonfatal violence by an intimate.
    Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey (NCJ-154348), August 1995, p.3.
  • Other estimates include 4 million women in the U.S. are battered each year.
    American Psychl. Ass’n Violence and the Family: Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p.10.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
    American Psychl. Ass’n Violence and the Family: Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p.10.
  • Ninety to ninety-five percent of domestic violence victims are women.
    A Report of the Violence against Women Research Strategic Planning Workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Justice in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1995.
  • As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.
    Gazmarairian et al, 2000
  • Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former intimate, to 3.9 million women who are physically abused by their husbands or live-in partners per year.
    U.S. Department of Justice, Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, March 1998: The Commonwealth Fund, First Comprehensive National Survey of American Women, July, 1993.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice reported that 37 percent of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.
    Department of Justice, August 1997. Violence related Injuries Treated in Hospital
  • Emergency Departments. Michael R. Rand. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  • About four in ten female victims of intimate partner violence lived in households with children under age 12.
    Reprinted and adapted from ‘News Flash’ (http://www.fvpf.org/newsflash), an online newsletter of the Family Violence Prevention Fund.
  • In the United States, researchers estimate the 40 percent to 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends, frequently in the context of an ongoing abusive relationship.
    Bailey et al., 1997
  • Fifty-seven percent of homeless families identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness.
    The United States Conference of Mayors, A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities: 1999, December 1999, p.94.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO