Domestic Violence Should Not Be Politics as Usual

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​Sunday will be the sixth anniversary of my friend’s death. She was murdered by her ex while simply living her own life, washing a tea kettle out when he came up behind her and ended her life. For all of us who are touched by domestic violence and abuse, we ask if there was something we could have done, something we should have been aware of. I participated in my own share of victim blaming until I saw the larger picture of having your finances and only home tied up with someone who is threatening. 

I think we all like to believe the best of people, and if we’re wrong, we just pick up and walk away. Everyone has friends they can rely on, but how true is that really? Can a mom, the mom who seems to have all the problems, is never on time, offering flimsy excuses with the two kids, both in diapers – can she crash on your sofa or spare room indefinitely? Are you friends with her domestic partner? Who will you believe?

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and it takes on a variety of forms. Some, though not many, don’t realize they’re abusive; it’s the way they were raised, and they think it’s “normal” to slap your wife and kids or grab her or slam doors and drink a little too much. Others seem like the perfect couple, family, etc, and no one knows what’s going on inside someone else’s home?

For B, my friend, when she had nowhere to live, she arranged to live in her house. Her house, that she paid for, contributed to the down payment of, was responsible on the deed for, but also on the property where her ex lived. I thought that was crazy. However, what else could she do?

He threatened her, but people say things they don’t mean all the time.

Why didn’t she call the police? Well, she did, several times. In fact, the police paid a visit to their house the night before she was murdered. They didn’t believe there was a problem; not a real one. Don’t set him off, though.

I didn’t understand.

Now, in Congress, in the House of Representatives yesterday, a bill was passed that will now go on to the Senate to be voted on. If it passes the Senate, I have no doubt that President Trump will sign it. He signs whatever he’s told to.

This new bill, that might become a law, which by the way also exempts members of Congress from its new rules and changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as affecting private insurance and employer insurance along with Medicaid and Medicare, defines pre-existing conditions in horrific ways and will affect someone you know.

They say that pre-exisiting conditions will be covered, but that depends on the state you’re in, and legal access to health care doesn’t mean that everyone will have it or be able to afford it.

For example, four of the pre-existing conditions mentioned specifically are: domestic violence, sexual assault, c-section, and post-partum depression. What do these four things have in common? In addition to being completely and arbitrarily unpredictable and randomly occuring, they also only happen to women. The first two – domestic violence and sexual assault – are perpetuated by men onto women, but as is the case in many instances, women pay the brunt of the violence against them.

This is one of the most blatant and disgusting and obvious moments of victim-blaming.

They’re looking at getting rid of well visits and preventative care, maternity leave, and pre-natal care as well.

I’m appalled.

In today’s Congress, had my friend survived her gunshot to the head she would be blamed for it as a victim of domestic violence. It would be considered a pre-existing condition and not covered under the Republican’s repeal and regress health care plan.

They’ve had eight years to come up with something, and they’ve failed. However, they continue to punish women for their failure.

Do not let this Republican controlled Congress and White House continue to abuse women and their families.

If you or someone you know are in danger or in a domestic abuse relationship or situation, contact the The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They can help you and find resources for you wherever you are.

If you or someone you know are an LGBT+ youth and in an abusive situation, contact The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. They can put you in touch with someone who can help you.

You are not alone.

50-44 – Postpartum Depression

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​When you give birth for the first or second time, the expecting books, the online information sites, and the doctors and nurses are very much aware that this is new for you, and they take great care in giving you as much information as possible including on postpartum depression.

postpartum depression can occur in women who’ve had no other history of depression.

You are told very clearly what to look for: loss of appetite, fatigue, lethargy – because none of those things happen when you have a new baby unless you have depression, right?

Two other symptoms to watch out for are if you can answer yes to the following questions:

Do you want to hurt yourself?

Do you want to hurt your baby?

Since my answers to both of those questions were  resounding NOs, I knew I was in the clear.

Despite that I couldn’t make decisions or do anything that wasn’t taking care of the baby, or even lying on the floor with the tiny baby, both of us crying hysterically. It went on and on, and every time I thought I must be depressed, I need to see a doctor about this, I would go back to those two questions and answer them:

No, I do not want to hurt myself. No, I do not want to hurt my baby. I just need a vacation; a day off. And I muddled through. I just wasn’t strong enough to handle a second baby. I must be doing something wrong.

Not to mention that my mother had just died; eight weeks after the birth of my son, which came eighteen months after the death of my dad. Of course, I was depressed, but I wasn’t, you know, depressed.

It wasn’t until eight years later and actually becoming suicidal, wanting it all to just end and being diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety was able to look back at that time, lying on the floor crying, not wanting to do anything but sit in a chair, sometimes holding my baby, not cooking or wanting to eat, did I realize that I did, in fact, have postpartum depression.

It’s hard to look back and know that if only I’d looked deeper into it, I could have come to of it sooner. As it was, when I became pregnant with my third child, when my second was only six months old did the hormones kick in, pushed the depression away, and saved my life.

I was miserable, and I had help. My husband stayed home and worked as often as he could, especially after baby number  three was born, and my mother-in-law visited and stayed with us for extended periods to help us out and visit.

We need to listen to new or not so new mothers when they complain about how hard it is. Even if we complain all the time, we need to take a special listen after the baby’s born. Offer support; don’t wait until it’s asked for. By then, it’s probably too late and the request is coming from a shrieking, arm flailing door slammer.

The questions shouldn’t be will you hurt yourself or your baby; the question should be how are you, are you okay, can I help? Do you want me just to come over and watch you and the baby sleep for an hour?

postpartum depression is hard to recognize. I never recognized it until I was on anti-depressants and in therapy for about six months. I was lucky. I never wanted to hurt my kids. If they were with me, I wouldn’t hurt myself, but looking back it is one of the scary experiences I’ve ever had, more than when I was actually suicidal.

The good news is that I came out of it. I survived. I look at my kids everyday and I’m glad I’m here with them. I survived and I’m still surviving. I’m hyper-aware of how I feel. I have my coping mechanisms, which I’ve adapted to over time.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re crazy or imagining things. Take care of yourself first. Love yourself first. Always keep fighting.*



[*Always Keep Fighting and Love Yourself First are from the Always Keep Fighting (AKF) campaign to raise awareness and fight depression through Supernatural actor, Jared Padalecki’s charities.]