Recent Blog Posts

Recent Posts

Myths Behind The Idea That Domestic Violence Is A ‘Personal Problem’

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

A common perception still today is that domestic violence is often considered a personal private problem and shouldn’t be exposed.

Some attitudes in the United States have changed over the past decades.
The 1994 Violence Against Women Act pushed justice systems across the country to take domestic violence seriously and treat it as a crime—a landmark victory making it easier for police officers and first responders to deal with intimate partner violence. But a survey of 500 elected U.S. sheriffs found many felt neutral or agreed with common myths about violence against women like why don’t they just leave?

Another myth is that abusers—especially the charismatic and respectable ones in public—suddenly snap when they hurt their partners. Research shows abuse is almost always a pattern of behavior. Abusers aren’t out of control; they use violence as a tool for control.

Often, violence goes unreported or hidden before becoming noticeable to either first responders or friends and family. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, between 2006 and 2015, an average of 600,000 incidents of domestic violence went unreported each year. Only 34 percent of people harmed by partners received medical attention for their injuries. Many victims keep silent out of fear of reprisal or escalation. Leaving the relationship is worse. Abusers typically get more violent when their victims leave. Separation is often called the most dangerous time for victims.

Intimate partner violence follows predictable patterns. It’s almost never a one-off incident. It’s not a matter of victims provoking their abusers or of abusers being out of control. The issue of who is at fault isn’t complicated. It’s always the abuser or abusers being out of control. The issue of who’s at fault isn’t complicated. It’s always the abuser. People are victimized by partners across race, class, gender, education and geographic lines—it isn’t a private family matter. It’s a major public health issue that affects close to 10 million Americans every year.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie must deal with the fact that her parents will not support her when she decides to leave her abusive husband Claude who controls all the finances. She has to find a way to freedom with her child without reporting it to the police. Claude, the famous plastic surgeon, would pay them off, and Katie would suffer further brutality with the fear she wouldn’t survive.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I read an article about why domestic violence awareness hasn’t caught up with the #MeToo movement and thought I’d share some of the findings.

After the #MeToo movement went viral, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence created its own hashtag, #SurvivorSpeaks to try to bring more attention to the issue, but it has not taken off the way #MeTo has. There is still a lot of stigma around domestic violence. There is the added layer of blaming the victim because the abuse happens over several months or years in what people view as a consenting adult relationship. “Why doesn’t she just leave?” is asked over and over without sympathy or understanding for the victim.

Another reason is the #MeToo movement has shown the strength of multiple accusations, but in most cases, men have not been held accountable until several women have spoken up together. This is difficult to replicate in domestic violence cases, where there is one victim in an isolated relationship who is unlikely to know about past abuse. Domestic violence victims usually speak up alone.

There is another element missing from the conversation surrounding domestic violence—public outrage. It often takes a high-profile celebrity case to start a cultural movement. When it happens to regular people no one seems to care. Victims haven’t seen others hold domestic abusers accountable. They are often afraid to speak out against their abuser because of dire consequences—even death. As a society we must decide to take seriously the issue of domestic violence and work towards eradicating it.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie is a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault at the hands of her famous plastic surgeon husband, Claude who has also controlled all the finances. Katie finds ways to save money in order to escape with her child but is hesitant to speak out or go to the authorities for fear of her life.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Can You Spot An Abusive Partner Before You Get Involved?

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Is it possible to spot an abusive partner before you get involved? It is difficult in many cases. Many abusers are highly intelligent, clever and charming. They use this technique to deceive and manipulate drawing the victim in. As survivors know, the transition from love to control to violence can be slow and unnoticeable—sometimes taking years.

Here are a number of factors that are suspected to contribute to someone becoming abusive. Recognizing these factors may help identify risks related to possible partners.

A history of abuse in one’s family or past
Being physically or sexually abused as a child
A lack of appropriate coping skills
Low self-esteem
Codependent behavior
Untreated mental illness
Drug or alcohol abuse

Abuse is not just physical violence. Usually it is foreshadowed by other forms of behavior and violence. Here are a few of them.

Calling someone names or putting someone down
Shouting and cursing
Making threats
Extreme jealousy and suspicion
Keeping someone away from their family and friends
Throwing things around the house or at another person in a violent manner
Controlling the finances

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie experiences many of these forms of abuse by her famous plastic surgeon husband, Claude. She came from an abusive family and was repeating history. He quacked like a duck at her body when she was pregnant, yelled profanities in her face, forced her to have sex, isolated her and controlled all the money. After the last battering, she realized she might not survive another one and wanted to protect her child. That was the beginning of Katie making a plan to escape.

If you need help, you can talk in confidence to a trained domestic violence advocate free of charge by contacting your local domestic violence shelter or advocacy group.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

What Survivors Can Collect For Evidence Of Abuse

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Here are some suggestions for collecting evidence of abuse. I hope they are helpful.
Any written rules imposed by the abuser
Information about abuse of previous partners
Proof that you are being financially marginalized
Records proving you provide most of the child care
Diary of physical and nonphysical incidents with dates, times and frequency
Video and Audio recordings of argument or conversations
Photos or video of any injuries of you or family members along with medical reports
Police reports
Screenshots of repeated calls, emails, texts or social media messages along with recordings of voicemails and phone conversations from abuser
Verbal accounts and testimony from any witnesses
Documentation showing workplace incidents where abuser stalked or harassed you
Photos or video of weapons used to harm or threaten you along with items damaged or destroyed.
Veterinary records of any pet abuse

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, set in the 1990s, Katie doesn’t have all the video, recording social media opportunities that are available today, but she keeps a diary and documents all the physical and nonphysical incidents that happen to her due to her husband Claude’s abuse. She also has written orders from Claude of what she is supposed to accomplish on a daily basis. She has proof that Claude controls all the finances and is forced to save for her escape from pocket money she collects. Katie is the primary caretaker of her daughter Rose. She refuses to go to the police because Claude, the famous plastic surgeon, would pay them off and that would be worse for her. Gillian who is Katie’s friend, has seen her bruises and encourages Katie to leave. Katie makes a plan to escape with Rose and eventually becomes free.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Statements Abusers Make To Control Their Victims

It’s almost summer, and I hope everyone had a pleasant Memorial Day Weekend. Often the holiday weekends bring on more violence and abuse instead of peaceful enjoyable interactions.

I wanted to share some of the statements abusers will make to keep their victims under control. These are only a handful but might be helpful in deciding whether you are in an abusive relationship or not.

1. You’re a dumb bitch.
2. You’d be more attractive if…
3. It didn’t hurt that much.
4. I love you and it will never happen again.
5. I’ll kill myself if you leave.
6. I don’t remember doing that.
7. You’re stupid.
8. You’re too sensitive.
9. You deserve it.
10. No one will ever want you.
11. I’m sorry.
12. No one is going to believe you.
13. You’re crazy.
14. Why do you make me hurt you?
15. You’re ugly and fat.
16. You’re cheating on me—you whore.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Claude, the famous plastic surgeon, uses mental abuse, in between his physical assaults on his wife, Katie, to control her. He tells her she’s fat and ugly and wants to perform surgery on her to make her more appealing, so Katie undresses in her closet. He tells her she’s stupid and that she over reacts to everything—even makes things up. He says he doesn’t remember hurting her or if he does, it’s her fault because she needs to be taught how to behave. The worst battering Katie got was in her three-year-old daughter’s room when she was putting her to bed. In an odd way, Katie looked at the batterings as a relief from the constant barrage of obscenities and threats Claude made—there would be a bit of relief for a while—sometimes even, “I love you and it will never happen again”—until it did, and she began to make a plan to get out.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Children’s Domestic Abuse Wheel

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

As we come to the end of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I wanted to share how violence affects children in relation to the Children’s Domestic Abuse Wheel. The wheel is divided into eight sections with these headings: Emotional Abuse, Physical and Mental Effects, Sexual Abuse, Using Children, Threats, Sexual Stereotyping, Intimidation and Isolation.

Emotional Abuse involves doubting reality, fear of doing wrong and expressing feelings, inconsistent limits and expectations by caregiver, inability to learn at school and low self-esteem.

Physical & Mental Effects where children may feel guilt and shame, think it’s their fault, are demanding and withdrawn.

Sexual Abuse involves shame about body, feeling threatened and fearful of their sexuality, inappropriate sexual talk behavior and children having access to pornography magazines and movies.

Using Children where the child is being put in the middle of fights or take on roles of parents and are used to resolve conflicts and take sides.

Threats help child to learn to manipulate because of their own safety issues due to effects of violence in family, expressing anger in a way that is violent, abusive, or not expressing anger because of their own fear.

Sexual Stereotyping helps the child to learn either to copy abuser’s dominant abusive behavior or copy the victimized passive submissive behavior unable to express feelings or who they are.

Intimidation is putting children in fear by: using looks, loud actions, loud gestures, loud voice, smashing things, destroying property with fear of physical safety.

Isolation is the inability to develop social skills, feeling alone and different, keeping harmful secrets and not trusting adults.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Rose, Katie’s three-year-old daughter, tries to stop her father from beating her mother. Unable to, she comforts her mother after and blames herself for the battering.

Let’s speak out to help end this hidden epidemic of domestic violence and child abuse.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

April brings spring flowers and is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child abuse is under-reported and is a hidden epidemic. Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members—almost five a day. Nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The child maltreatment death rate in the US is triple Canada’s and eleven times that of Italy. Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year. The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations. The highest rate of child abuse is in children under one year old—24.2% per 1,000. Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, ethnic and cultural groups. According to Prevent Child Abuse America, domestic violence often occurs alongside child abuse and neglect. Domestic violence constitutes the single greatest precursor for child maltreatment fatalities. Collaboration between child abuse and domestic violence organizations and intervention programs is essential.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie is beaten by her famous plastic surgeon husband in front of her three-year-old daughter, Rose. Rose is Katie’s only witness and screams at her father, “Don’t hurt my Mommy,” and tries to stop the battering. She is only able to comfort Katie after the fact as she lay on the floor. This life-threatening incident gives Katie the strength to organize a plan and eventually leave her abuser husband taking Rose with her. Rose refers to her father’s facial expression as a “monster face,” and Katie reassures Rose over and over that it wasn’t her fault and that now she’s safe. Katie is very supportive and gives lots of love and affection to Rose. She also finds professional help for both of them through her close friend Gillian.

Let’s speak out to help end this hidden epidemic of domestic violence and child abuse.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

White Ribbon Day

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Last Thursday State leaders in Massachusetts launched the White Ribbon Day campaign to end domestic violence. Thousands of men and boys took the pledge to end violence against women and promote safety and respect. The pledge reads, “From this day forward, I promise to be part of the solution in ending violence against women and all gender-based violence.” According to Jane Doe Inc., 28 people died from domestic violence related issues in Massachusetts last year. The group is taking a stand to prevent these tragedies in the future by changing societal attitudes through the campaign. People will wear white ribbons throughout the month of March to show support for the movement.

“The widespread prevalence of sexual harassment, sexual and domestic violence of epic proportions is not new; it’s just being exposed and called out, mostly by very courageous survivors who are saying, ‘no more,’” Jane Doe Inc. Executive Director Debra Robbin said. The campaign is also using social media to raise awareness through the hashtag #ReimagineManhood promoting values including healthy masculinity, gender equity and racial justice. States across the nation are also participating in the movement against domestic violence.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR that takes place in the 1990s, there are no men wearing white ribbons—quite the opposite—they would have laughed at the idea and said those people were crazy and overreacting. Katie is told this by her husband Claude who beats her mentally and physically and by her parents when Katie tells them she wants to leave. “There must be something you are doing wrong. Try harder. It’s your responsibility. Go back and fix it,” they told her. If there had been more awareness about domestic violence and what Katie was going through, maybe she would have had more support and less suffering.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

Rob Porter And Discrediting Some Of The Myths Of Domestic Violence

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

The Rob Porter scandal in the White House has brought the domestic violence issue into the spotlight with the opportunity of once again debunking some of the myths. Why don’t the victims just leave? How can a high-profile, hardworking, friendly, successful man be a wife beater? On the surface, it makes no sense. But often this is the case, and under these circumstances, when the wife seeks help, there is none. One misconception is that all perpetrators are monsters when in fact they can be charming and seductive. Porter was described as a man so decent because of his performance in the workplace that he couldn’t have possibly beaten his wives and girlfriend. This point of view makes it very difficult for the victim to leave. Porter’s second ex-wife said, “When I tried to get help, I was counseled to consider carefully how what I said might affect his career. And so I kept my mouth shut and stayed. I was told, yes, he was deeply flawed, but then again so was I. And so I worked on myself and stayed. If he was a monster all the time, perhaps it would have been easier to leave. But he could be kind and sensitive. And so I stayed…”

In my novel, SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie is married to a famous plastic surgeon who brutalizes her physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. The outside world tells her how lucky she is to be married to him, and that she should appreciate it more than she does. Her parents also support this view and offer no support. He’s talented, handsome, charming and seductive. Her parents picked him for her to marry and don’t want anything to disrupt the union. They tell her if there is a problem in the marriage, it’s her responsibility it fix it. She spends too much time blaming herself and trying to please until she decides she has to get out.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO

The Cycle Of Abuse

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

The cycle of abuse will continue over and over until the abused one stops it. There’s a script domestic violence follows with the abuser rigidly in control. The survivors develop a script of their own and repeat the same lines over and over to themselves, friends and family—It will never happen again, he says he’s sorry, it’s my fault I made him angry, I should do a better job then it wouldn’t happen, he’s under so much stress right now, he’s only controlling me because he loves me so much.

This is the cycle of abuse, and it has four stages:

First, tensions build and the survivor becomes fearful and does whatever she can to placate the abuser.

Second, there is an incident that can be verbal, emotional, psychological or physical mixed with threats, anger and intimidation.

Third is the excuse stage where the abuser apologizes, blames the survivor or denies the abuse occurred at all.

Finally, there is the calm stage where the incident has been forgiven or denied and things are back to normal or even better than before—“the honeymoon stage”—until it starts all over again.

The length of the cycle often diminishes bringing abusive incidents closer together. Many survivors are either too ashamed or too fearful to leave their abuser. Some think they are in love with their abuser and in time will be able to change them. Others just want it to go away and try harder to please the abuser in order to bring back the ‘good times.’

In my novel, SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie cycles through these four stages over and over again at the hands of her husband Claude a famous plastic surgeon until she realizes that it’s not her fault and in order to survive and have a different life free from abuse she has to get out with her daughter.

Take good care of yourselves,

PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO