Sunday, March 18, 2012

Breaking Away From Control

Recently I seem to be hearing so many stories about domestic violence and controlling partners. Partners who think they can control a woman and if they can't they will resort to physical violence if they have to. They think they can force her to do what they want. I admire women who have had the strength and the courage to break away from controlling situations.
(Image borrowed from Emergency Egg)

In many of these situations controlling behavior starts verbally. In this great article that I came across it makes so many good points and the image that I found to express verbal abuse is such a great illustration of what a partner does when he (or she) is verbally abusing a partner. This is exactly how it feels.

The sad thing is that these partners do not realize how the controlling behavior affects the other person. "Verbal abuse is a way of exerting power over a partner and denying her individuality." The more often that a partner is abusive the other person starts to question her own actions. She starts to believe that maybe she should have done something differently. The partner often says things like, "You make me this way. You push me to acting this way. You don't know how to talk to me."

The hardest thing for a woman to do is to realize that this isn't true. It is NOT her responsibility to make her partner feel a certain way about himself and it is not her fault if he acts out in anger. That is HIS choice and NOTHING is an excuse for verbal or physical abuse.

I'm not saying that the woman should be abusive too, or ugly, or provoke him. But it isn't her fault if she isn't doing any of these things or if all she is doing is expressing her feelings. With men like this a woman is not even allowed to express her feelings because it will set him off and make him lash out in anger. Thus the control.

When a woman leaves a controlling or verbally abusive relationship she can feel broken. She feels like her wings have been broken and like she needs to mend them before she can fly again. She has to take the time to heal and maybe even find her voice again. Sadly, if she's been in the relationship a long time she has to mentally heal too. She has to get her partner out of her head and she has to stop being afraid. Don't ever judge a person who has been in a relationship like this because you don't know what she has been through mentally and emotionally.

Despite tremendous progress in laws against domestic violence, an average of three women in America die as a result of domestic violence each day. EACH DAY!!! Those are staggering statistics and they need to stop.

There are some things that we can do to help and we don't have to wait for Domestic Violence Awareness Month to do it. Here locally the Houston Area Women's Center is always looking for volunteers. There's also La Rosa Family Services, who is always in need of funds and volunteers. Right now they are providing services at the Denver Harbor Community Center. If you can't volunteer your time, volunteer your money to organizations like these. If your company is involved with the United Way you can elect where your money goes. I've done this before with the Houston Area Women's Center.

If you are in an abusive relationship where you need to get out, do it now. Break away from the control! Don't become a statistic.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

On My Soapbox About Education

OK, not really. I won't get on my soapbox. I'm just going to discuss some really disturbing figures. At least they are disturbing to me, maybe not to the politicians like Santorum who don't care if the lower or middle class get an education.

(Borrowed from who apparently borrowed it from A Time to Cherish Photography.)

This week I was looking at new research numbers for Houston and I learned that that only 2.7% of all Houston Hispanics have post-graduate degrees. Only 10.3% of Hispanics actually graduate from college, yet 22.6% have some college. Meaning that of that 22.6% some have associate degrees or went to college but didn't finish. 

Why does this matter? Because Hispanics are seriously lacking in higher education. I've blogged about this before, but that was two years ago. This research is the most recent data and when I read it it just makes me sad. There is so much work to be done in middle schools, high schools and even in the junior colleges and universities.

Thank goodness for organizations like Project Grad that help students stay in school and to graduate from college. I've had the privilege of mentoring a couple of Hispanic girls through this program in the past. I've also mentored kids in college and a couple of middle school girls. The best experience I've had so far was mentoring the girls with Project Grad and UH students.

So what can we do as a community? Get involved! Get involved with programs like Project Grad, Girls Inc. and other similar organizations. Call your local high schools and middle schools and find out when they are having their career days and volunteer to go speak to them. Schools are always looking for speakers. Educate them about scholarships and financial aid for them to go to college. Some kids are the first ones in their family to aspire to having a higher education and they may not even know what is available to them.

So this is my challenge to every one of you. Mentor a student this year. Whether it's a middle school, high school, or even a college student. If we all mentor one student to make it through school and to graduate from high school and then eventually college, we will make a difference. Also, volunteer at a local school, any school.

And if you're a parent, be the best parent you can be. Get involved in your child's education. I'm not perfect, but education is very important to me and something I really believe in. Be an example to the young people of today that will be the adults of tomorrow.