Recent Blog Posts

Recent Posts

Five Ways To Get Money Matters In Order Before You Leave

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends:

Here are five tips you can use to organize your finances:

1. Gather Documents. Try to have access to shared accounts. Compile PIN codes, passwords, copies of credit reports, print-outs of any financial records or bank accounts, birth certificates for you and your children, your driver’s license, Social Security number and tax records. You can contact the IRS for copies of jointly-filed tax returns and banks for copies of jointly-held account statements.

2. Set Up Your Own Accounts. If you can set up accounts safely, open a bank account in your name and have statements delivered electronically to a friend or family member’s address or P.O. box your abuser does not know about. Start your own credit life to build your own credit history.

3. Accumulate cash reserves. You’re going to need money when you leave. If possible, stash away some cash in a safe place other than a bank—a trusted friend or family member’s house, place of employment or in a safe deposit box your abuser doesn’t know about.

4. Change Beneficiaries on Your Accounts. For individual insurance plans like health or life insurance and accounts such as a 401K retirement account through your place of employment, you should change your beneficiary to someone other than the abuser. For jointly held policies and accounts, both parties will need to be privy to the information if the beneficiary is changed. Speak to a lawyer about how best to handle that. You should be able to find free lay legal counsel through your local domestic violence nonprofit.

5. Make a Budget. Planning your finances ahead of time can save you a lot of worry when it is time to go. Figure out how much you’ll need to live on, make a list of possible expenses and then make cuts where needed.

After you leave, you’ll want to hide your financial activity from your abuser. For accounts and credit cards that are yours alone, change your PINS. If you’ve opened up an individual savings account, put your assets there so the abuser can’t access them. You may also want to see if your state offers the Address Confidentiality Program.

To repair credit history ruined by the abuser, pay your bills on time. Building your credit is slow and tedious, and only you can do it.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie hides pocket money, part of her allowance and whatever else she could find in her art books. Claude had no interest in her books, so it was safe. Little by little, she saved up enough to pay for a divorce lawyer and organized an escape plan that would set her and her daughter free.

Take good care of yourselves,


Abusers Are Using Smart Home Technology Against Survivors

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Abusers unlock doors, change temperatures and listen in on cameras as a new way to torture.

Survivors who have left their abusers assume they are living a safe, new existence but are being besieged by random acts of confusion aimed at setting them on edge, and portraying them as delusional to law enforcement and the courts when they report it.

Abusers remotely turn on the heat in the survivor’s house via her smart thermostat during the hottest days of summer. They remotely unlock the survivor’s home and car doors. When the survivor tries to report it, they can petition the judge in their children’s custody case saying it’s a security issue they’re worried about, making the survivor appear as an unfit mother. They unlock the survivor’s electronic front door, go inside and take just one item from her home at a time leaving her feeling on edge and unable to report it without proof.

Other reported incidents of abusers included listening in through a survivors’ smart TVs, devices like Amazon Alexa or Echo, or wi-fi-enabled home security cameras. Those who are tech savvy can figure out how to use them as built-in spy devices eavesdropping on conversations in whatever room of the home these devices are placed in, and then using that information to stalk, threaten or intimidate a survivor. Often these things go hand-in-hand with other types of abuse or child custody battles, with the abuser tormenting the protective parent before court to make them rattled and appear mentally ill.

According to experts, survivors should change wi-fi passwords frequently using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that are not connected to the survivor.

Think about getting rid of smart TVs or Alexa in your home.

Avoid using public wi-fi for your devices. Turn off your “automatically connect settings.”

Make sure software for all your devices is updated regularly. If possible, buy a router that has smart home-security built into it.

Keep a log of all the suspicious activity occurring to report your case.

The use of tech to stalk is real, and it will always outpace law enforcement, legislation and victim resources.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Claude tapes Katie’s telephone conversations, hires private detectives to follow her, bribes the police, threatens to take her daughter away from her and keeps her financially dependent, until fearing for her life and the safety of her daughter, Katie breaks free.

Take good care of yourselves,



Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Why do domestic violence victims give their abusers one more chance over and over again? Abusers are cunning and manipulative. They know exactly what to say to change the minds of their victims who are caring and traumatized. Trauma bonding is the type of attachment one can feel toward an abuser. It involves compassion, love and hope that things will change, but it also brings confusion. How can one love someone who hurts them? The victim must be doing something wrong.

Many children who are abused by a parent can experience trauma bonding and then, as an adult, this can become the way they define “love,” making adult relationships especially confusing.

Here is a list of some signs of trauma bonding:

You feel stuck and powerless in the relationship but want to make the best of it.
You don’t know if you trust the other person, but you can’t leave.
You’d describe your relationship as intense and complex.
There are promises of things getting better in the future.
You focus on the “good” in the person, despite behaviors you know are abuse.
You think you can change your abusive partner.
Your friends and/or family have advised you to leave the relationship, but you stay.
You find yourself defending the relationship if others criticize it.
The abusive partner constantly lets you down, but you believe them anyway.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie grows up with love and abuse mixed together and then marries Claude who hurts her mentally, physically and emotionally but always promises to change. Katie tries to please him, to change him, to pretend and make excuses over and over until she realizes that she must get out for her and her daughter’s survival.

Take good care of yourselves,

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It provides an opportunity to shed light on the domestic violence issue and work towards ways of preventing it. Domestic Violence Awareness Month originated from the Day of Unity, first held in October 1981 and created by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Day of Unity became a week focused on three main themes: mourning those who have died due to domestic violence, celebrating and honoring survivors, and building a community of those working to put an end to domestic violence. The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in 1987, with Congress officially passing the Public Law 101-112 two years later.

Millions of people are affected by domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Awareness Project explains domestic violence as, “a pattern of abusive behaviors—including physical, sexual and psychological attacks as well as economic coercion—used by one intimate partner against another to gain, maintain or regain power and control in the relationship. Batterers use a range of tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure and sometimes kill a current or former intimate partner.”

In the United States, there are more than 10 million victims of abuse every year. An average of 20 people experience physical violence from their partner every minute, according to the NCADV.

In 2014, the Huffington Post reported that 10 million children are affected by domestic violence on an annual basis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.

Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are most commonly affected by intimate partner violence, according to the NCADV.

There are many ways we can help raise awareness for domestic violence, support survivors and find ways to end domestic violence.
Help to educate others on domestic violence and the warning signs to recognize it.

Listen to survivors’ stories and assist them in finding ways in which they can receive help, such as hotlines and local shelters.

Speak out against domestic violence and support organizations that are empowering survivors and helping to end domestic violence.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie experiences psychological, emotional, financial and physical abuse from her husband, Claude, until she begins to see that she can’t change him and has to organize a plan to get out.

Take good care of yourselves,


Sexual Child Abuse

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Sexual Child Abuse refers to the involvement of a child in sexual activity to provide sexual gratification or financial benefit to the perpetrator. It includes contact for sexual purposes, molestation, statutory rape, prostitution, pornography, incest, or other sexually exploitative activities.

Children living through abuse and violence unnecessarily suffer the negative effects of this trauma for the rest of their lives.

Here are some of the sexual abuse statistics:

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.

Over 65,000 children were sexually abused in 2016.

8.6% of reported child abuse cases were sexual abuse.

34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members.

96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults.

Caregiver alcohol or drug abuse is a child abuse risk factor putting kids at much higher risk for being abused.

325,000 children are at risk of becoming victims of commercial child sexual exploitation each year.

The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14 years old, and the average age for boys is 11 to 13 years old.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie experiences child abuse from her parents, and her daughter, Rose, experiences child abuse from her father, Claude. Katie decides to leave Claude with Rose to start a new life free from abuse.

Let’s protect our children and take good care of yourselves,


How Witnessing Domestic Violence Can Have Lifelong Effects

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

According to a recent study, witnessing domestic violence as a child could be just as damaging as being abused. When a child is exposed to either violence directly or witnessing violence, the fight or flight mechanism of the child is activated on a regular basis, and that is not normal. In some cases, witnessing the violence is worse because the child may carry guilt —watching something they were helpless to stop.

Children who watch inappropriate ways of handling stress can have trouble learning proper ways to solve problems along with many other issues. They can be more prone to anxiety and PTSD and more likely to become alcoholics, drug users and suicidal.

Santina Proctor witnessed horrific abuse of her mother when she was a child. “I would sabotage relationships when I felt like the people were getting too close to me. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD.” Since then Proctor has started her own non-profit called, “It’s Not Your Fault 91” to help others. She provides support to victims and encourages others to get the help they need because she knows the devastating effects of witnessing domestic abuse.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Rose witnesses her mother, Katie, being beaten by her father, Claude. Rose tries to stop it by screaming, “Daddy, stop. Don’t hurt my Mommy,” but is unable to reach Claude. She comforts her mother after it’s over but remains hypervigilant and disturbed.

Take good care of yourselves,


Alarming Effects of Children’s Exposure to Domestic Violence

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and I want to bring attention to the effects of children’s exposure to domestic violence and the significance of it. Blake Griffin Edwards who wrote this article, says domestic violence takes many forms including chronic arguing and yelling, controlling behaviors, threats and intimidation, threats of suicide or murder, threats involving weapons and serious injuries and fatal assaults. There is always a destructive undercurrent of power and control.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that in homes where violence between partners occurs, there is a 45% to 60% chance of child abuse, a rate 15% more than the average. Even when they are not physically attacked, children witness 68% to 80% domestic assaults taking a toll on them. The psychological aftermath of exposure to domestic violence can include fear of harm or abandonment, excessive worry or sadness, guilt, inability to experience empathy, or guilt, habitual lying, low frustration tolerance, emotional distancing, poor judgment, shame, and fear about the future.

The attention given, emotions felt, and memories imprinted onto a child’s brain in moments of stress become linked together and tainted—feelings, beliefs and choices in relationships and so many other facets of life. These children are victims.

Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely than their peers to experience a wide range of difficulties, from anger and oppositional behavior, to fear, low self-worth and withdrawal, to poor sibling, peer and social relationships. Studies have found evidence of much higher rates of pro-violence attitudes, rigid stereotypical gender beliefs involving male privilege, animal abuse, bullying, assault, property destruction and substance abuse.

Witnessing domestic violence is an experience sufficiently intense enough to precipitate posttraumatic stress in children. Children who are also physically or sexually abused are at a higher risk for emotional and psychological problems than those who witness such violence and are not physically or sexually abused.

Unfortunately, meaningful intervention occurs only after a child has endured direct and continued exposure and the damage is done. We need to find ways to more effectively intervene within our families, schools and communities to instigate help and healing to end this plight.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, the pattern of child abuse is seen through Katie in her childhood to marrying her abusive husband that her parents picked for her and to breaking free of it. She is determined to break the cycle of abuse and live free with her daughter saving her child from the effects of domestic violence.

Take good care of yourselves,


‘Coerced Debt’

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

‘Coerced Debt’ often follows domestic violence survivors and is another roadblock to building their future. Abusers use debt to trap their victims. Credit cards and loans taken out under two names, but never paid back, can cripple a survivor financially.

Angela Littwin, a law professor at the University of Texas, coined the term. She says there are two types of domestic violence: situational violence and coercive control where one partner seeks to control and diminish the other. “The abuser’s goal is essentially to undermine the victim’s free will,” Littwin says. “The abuser does that by making demands that the victim does something, and implying that there will be consequences for non-compliance.” Those demands often involve financial actions that the victim might otherwise not take, or that do harm to the victim’s financial situation.

A ruined credit report can cost an abuser more than the ability to obtain a credit card. “More than 60 percent of employers use credit checks for at least some jobs,” she says.

Joint credit accounts are another source of risk for those in abusive relationships. “If the victim is more financially stable… then the creditor is going to go after the victim.” Littwin says changing the situation for joint account holders is difficult. The survivor would need to show that their name had been added to the account fraudulently, or through coercion. This is difficult to do even though debt by coercion is unauthorized use under the law.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie has no credit standing. Her famous plastic surgeon husband, Claude, controls all the finances. He withdraws all the money from their joint checking account along with removing his name, leaving her nothing. He also sells a small fund of Katie’s and puts it in his name because the banker agreed to do it. Katie is trapped until she can save up enough money from pocket change and her “allowance”, and that takes time. She must be patient and stay much longer than she wants in her abusive marriage, until she reaches her goal.

Take good care of yourselves,


How Narcissistic Parents May Use Their Children

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Narcissistic parents tend to see their children as possessions and as extensions of themselves, as opposed to individuals in their own right. This can lead to the child growing up to develop serious identity issues. “Who am I?” and “Who can I trust?” are common questions asked.

Narcissistic parents also lack empathy for their child and view the child’s sole purpose in life as being to serve their needs. Two ways parents use and exploit their child is to treat her/him as both a source of emotional support and an emotional punching bag to vent their anger. Other reasons include keeping the child in her/his place and also to ensure that self-esteem and confidence remain low in order to control and manipulate. These parents also rely on the child to provide constant emotional support, resulting in the child becoming not only the parents emotional punching bag, but also their emotional caretaker, ‘parentifying’ the child.

Narcissistic parents tend to have a ‘black and white’ view oscillating between demonizing their child and idealizing her/him. They are incapable of empathy and love for their own children and for people in general, making it very difficult to correct this devastating behavior. For this reason, some adult children sever connections with their narcissistic parents while others try to reduce the dysfunctional relationship by setting up appropriate personal boundaries.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie is raised by two narcissistic parents, who use her as a punching bag and for emotional support. Right after graduating from college, they pick her husband for her, and Katie readily agrees to marry in order to please them and to separate from them. With little sense of self, she believes she can create a perfect life with her new husband. It takes her some time to realize that she has married an abusive narcissist and goes to her parents for help. They refuse. They don’t want to see the marriage they put together broken. It’s Katie’s fault and up to her to fix it.

Take good care of yourselves,


Patrick Stewart Says Domestic Violence Is A Man’s Problem

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Another common perception is that domestic violence is a women’s issue, and therefore men don’t have to take responsibility. Often the victim is blamed for doing something to have caused it.

Patrick Stewart, the English actor, with a career spanning almost six decades, is challenging the idea that domestic violence is a women’s issue. As a young boy, Patrick Stewart would lie rigid in bed at night waiting to hear his father rage at his mother while bracing to throw himself between his parents to protect his mother.

At a panel event organized by the domestic violence charity Refuge, Patrick Stewart said the reason why he was speaking was “Because domestic violence is a man’s problem. We are the ones who are committing the offences, performing the cruel acts, controlling and denying. It’s the men.”

Unfortunately, the people listening are almost entirely women. At this panel, there were five men among the journalists, activists and supporters. Women run the charities and staff. When victims speak out, they tend to be women. But this should not give men reason to look away. Many don’t understand the problem and don’t come to listen and participate. Patrick Stewart and other men who are speaking out about domestic violence are changing that dynamic by encouraging the male population to get involved and support the victims.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie is has two male abusers—her father and husband. Both of them demand that she stay in a marriage where she is being physically, mentally, emotionally and financially abused. They tell her it’s her fault, and she needs to try harder—keep the family together at all costs. When she decides to go against them she is accused of being mentally unstable and is cut off by her father and husband with no support. She is a failed wife and mother. In spite of that, Katie fights them and struggles to gain her freedom with her daughter.

Take good care of yourselves,