Monday, November 17, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* on "How Are You Feeling?"

In therapy, clients talk about their feelings. Therapists ask, "How are you feeling today?" 

Conversations with my therapist(s) frequently sounded like this:


“Lynn, what are you feeling?”
“I don’t know.”
“You must be feeling something.”
“No, nothing.”
“Please, tell me what it feels like.”
“I don’t know.”

I shrugged my shoulders, which was not an acceptable answer to the question of “how are you feeling.” How should I know? I had no clue, no compass, and no map to lead me through the hot and sweaty tropical jungle of twisted emotional thorny vines that lay strangled with family secrets and lies.

My step-father had taught me to deny my feelings at seven years old. He said, “Whenever someone asks you how you are doing, you say, ‘Fine, thank you,’ no matter what.” He added, “Speak only when you are spoken to.” He raised me under his spell of “children should be seen and not heard.” These powerful childrearing dictates led to the cold, calculating climate of control that froze all feelings into a block of ice that could only be released when talk-therapy chipped at the surface decades later.

What I felt was numb, which is a suppression of real feelings. Talking about my experiences and emotions in therapy years later did not feel good. If/when I felt, I felt crappy. Even in the company of a therapist I sensed I was safe with, one whom I trusted and developed rapport with, I dared not enter the realm of emotion. I was afraid to unlock my heart and uncover emotions. If I felt a bona fide feeling, I would surely go insane.

I felt all alone. Loneliness envelopes my being, seals me in a tomb lacking air. I am trapped in the darkness of my heart, all alone, Choking and grasping to find tender loving care.
With that admission of feeling in the form of prose, my therapist taught me that putting words to experiences and the emotions they carry can dispel the hold they had on me. She said, “As your fears recede, courage will emerge. Love was locked inside, shielded by fear. When the darkness of fear disappears, the light of love appears. You built walls around yourself to block out bad feelings, so you also blocked out any good that could come your way. You perpetuate pain by locking up feelings.”

My therapist explained that the depression used to cover up emotions can become a permanent part of the personality. She said, “The symptoms of anxiety and depression you experience are not personality flaws but the consequence of childhood wounds. When you excavate and explore emotions, you allow the fear to fade.” Digging deep like this may alleviate the depression, and allow room for expansion of joyful feelings.

I also had to accept that emotions are transitory, universal, and can co-exist. I had to trust that feeling would not drive me crazy. I learned that feeling could lead to positive emotions, especially L-O-V-E. I understood that in my head, but I needed to feel it in my heart.

Transformation from fear to love requires more than rationalization and intellectualization. Healing transpires from fully feeling emotions, and then taking necessary action, like this: determine the cause of an emotion, identify the feeling, and acknowledge its presence. Honor an emotion in the moment; just be with it, and that is more like going sane.

My therapist and I started with where I was at: scared to death of the world at large. There was a pervasive apprehension that cast an ominous shadow on my world. Slowly, we examined the fear to make it manageable. With each exhale of fear, I could inhale the courage to face my fears, feeling compassion for myself and others. As Eleanor Roosevelt says, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. . . You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” That is how we learn how to feel.




Post completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivors Story
*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* Reviews "It Happens Every Day"

Robin Sax is an expert on sex crimes against children. She was a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted offenders for the child sexual assault division. As an attorney and advocate for victims’ rights, she appears to be as passionate as she is knowledgable.


Sax says she wrote the book to illustrate what transpires when a district attorney prosecutes a child sexual assault case. Using a no-nonsense style of writing, Sax shows the reader how the criminal justice system works, or does not work, for its victims. She incorporates case studies as well as descriptions of crime scenes and victim statements to get her main point across: “child sexual assault has become a social epidemic.”
The book is divided into two parts, “Behind the One-Way Mirror” and “Behind Counsel Table.” Sax shows ways in which cases are investigated, how children are treated through the process, and what happens when a perpetrator is convicted. The reader learns about the justice system without the sensationalism of TV court drama. Sax provides an extensive appendix, separates fact from fiction, and offers her expert opinions.
Whether or not a victim pursues a criminal charge against a perpetrator, this is what Robin Sax knows for sure: sex crimes “will affect the victim’s outlook on life, decisions, and relationships for the rest of his or her life.”
Any advocate, expert, and concerned citizen should read this book to help protect children and raise awareness because 93% of victims know their attackers. @robinsax





*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* on the Beatles + Your Vote

I wasn't always eager to vote because I was brought up to believe my opinion did not matter. My stepfather trained me to deny my interests early on by repeating: "Children should be seen and not heard." He disparaged my fondness for reading, art, and the Beatles. When I was 8 years old, Beatlemania swept the country. The girls at school swooned over John, Paul, George, and Ringo. We traded Beatles’ cards the way boys traded baseball cards. I waited with anticipation to see The Fab Four on The Ed Sullivan Show. However, my stepfather forbade me to watch the show; he said,  "The whole world has gone bloody hysterical over a group of mop-haired, no-talent freaks. Those hooligans are out to ruin American youth and embarrass Great Britain. You call that music? I call it crap!" I learned that my voice had no power and my values were insignificant.

When I was 18, I got my voter's registration only so that I had an ID for bars. Why should I vote? What difference would my vote make? Who cares what I think? How can I make a decision without my parents telling me what to think and how to feel (or not feel)? These questions are not unique to me; they are common amongst people who have been abused, devalued, and disregarded.

Fast forward: My therapist told me that my inner messages were stifled by the opinions of others. Through her I learned that my interests and opinions do indeed matter. At least, they matter to me now. And I have a responsibility to acknowledge them and take action.

Go ahead, form an opinion and exercise your rights! You matter! Your opinion is important! Your vote is essential! If you need inspiration to get out there and vote, watch the movie Iron Jawed Angels. The story illustrates all that women pioneers had to go through to ensure that we have the right to make our voices heard!



*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted.
Post completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story


Friday, October 17, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* on Domestic Violence, Definitions

What is Domestic Violence? This is a GENERAL DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and does not indicate the entire and complete service of of legal definitions; if further notes are needed, consult an attorney. This is to offer information as needed while hearing about domestic violence.
  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OCCURS WHEN ONE PERSON USES INAPPROPRIATE POWER and CONTROL OVER AN INTIMATE PARTNER.

  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A PATTERN OF ABUSIVE BEHAVIORS.
THESE ABUSIVE BEHAVIORS MAY INCLUDE
VERBAL
SEXUAL
PHYSICAL
ECONOMIC
EMOTIONAL
LEGAL DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 18-6-800.3
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MEANS AN ACT OR THREATENED ACT OF VIOLENCE UPON A PERSON WITH WHOM THE ACTOR IS OR HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ALSO INCLUDES ANY OTHER CRIME AGAINST A PERSON OR AGAINST PROPERTY OR ANY MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE VIOLATION AGAINST A PERSON OR AGAINST PROPERTY, WHEN USED AS A METHOD OF COERCION, CONTROL, PUNISHMENT, INTIMIDATION OR REVENGE DIRECTED AGAINST A PERSON WITH WHOM THE ACTOR IS OR HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP.
INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP MEANS A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPOUSES, FORMER SPOUSES, PAST OR PRESENT UNMARRIED COUPLES, OR PERSONS WHO ARE BOTH THE PARENTS OF THE SAME CHILD REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE PERSONS HAVE BEEN MARRIED OR HAVE LIVED TOGETHER AT ANY TIME.
Prepared by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story, for informational purposes only.


*Tolson4TEARS = Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* on Domestic Violence, Invisible Forms

Not all forms of domestic violence are life-threatening, but domestic abuse can escalate until someone gets hurt.

If a friend says of a mutual friend, “Her husband is abusing her!” do you think of an abused woman with black eyes? Probably, yet domestic abuse may be invisible.

The following is paraphrased from a narrative in my memoir Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story

I was twenty-two years old. A friend, Sally, and I were in the kitchen my small apartment. Sally, a seamstress, was pinning the waist of my skirt for alterations. Due to stress, I'd lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. Since we'd known each other for about nine months, we were chatting comfortably as she tucked and gathered the fabric to fit my 5'4" 104 pound frame. 

My husband of a year burst into the apartment. He surveyed the situation, and, as if I were not in the room, he barked, “She wouldn’t need her clothes mended if she wasn’t such a scrawny broad! She’s a piece of work, isn’t she?”

Sally had not witnessed his verbal tirades before. I was afraid that he would sabotage our friendship.

He mumbled something about “worthless women” and slammed the door on his way out.

I wondered what I had done wrong.

Sally spoke softly, “Does he typically speak to you so mean?”

Sally seemed to be a sincere friend, so I confided in her. “Sally, it’s all right, he talks like that all the time.”

“It’s not all right. He’s abusing you.”

“Sally, no way! He never beat me or broke a bone. He never pushed me down the stairs.”

“Lynn, I've noticed. The way he treats you is awful. Does he hurt you in other ways?”

He’d grab my arm and twist both his hands around it, until I bruised. He’d say, “If you weren’t such a skinny runt, you wouldn’t bruise so easy.” He smacked me and claim it “was just a love tap.” He frequently hurt me with punches, pinches, and slaps, but it was rationalized or justified.

I divorced him a year later with Sally’s help, the guidance of a therapist, and an attorney.

But the wounds of emotional abuse take a long time to heal.

When we put a true story in front of the facts, the experiences of a victim become real.

What is domestic violence?

State laws vary in defining domestic violence but common elements include:

A pattern of abusive behavior when one person uses inappropriate power and control over an intimate partner. (click here for more information)

What is emotional abuse?

The emotional abuse pertains to what he said, and how it made me feel.

  • He made me feel bad just for being a woman.
  • He made me feel humiliated by putting me down.

Almost all abusers who are physically violent use emotional abuse.

You never know who amongst us is enduring emotional abuse. Help someone who tells you that she or someone she knows is being abused by her partner. Sally saved me.

Prepared by Lynn C. Tolson, @lynntolson author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story 


*Project4TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted





Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* on Domestic Violence, Emotional Abuse

We typically think of the results of domestic violence as a woman with bruises and black and blue eyes. This essay examines the aspects of insidious forms of domestic abuse. What is emotional abuse, and how does it pertain to domestic violence?
Emotional or mental abuse occurs when one partner attempts to make the other feel bad about herself. Emotional/mental abuse often crosses lines with psychological abuse. These forms of abuse are destructive to self-esteem and self-confidence. Here is part of my story to illustrate emotional abuse, excerpt from Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story:
When I was nineteen, I was involved with a man eighteen years older than me. Todd and I had nothing in common, except that he reminded me of my deceased father. I did not have the wherewithal to tell him to get lost. I tried to escape him by moving to a different town, but he found me, and he moved into the same apartment complex. (This occurred in the 1970s. These days his behavior would qualify as stalking).
I was friends with a married couple my age, Cathy and Scott. When I tried to release myself from Todd’s grip to spend time with my friends, he demanded that I give him equal time. Todd became possessive because, he said, he loved me. He slammed my door and his door to demonstrate. The stucco landing of the apartments shook like an earthquake in California. There had to be a rational explanation for Todd’s conduct.
“He’s just jealous,” Scott said.
“Yeah, he must love you a lot,” Cathy said.
I ached to be loved. So I mistook the outbursts for love.
When Scott and Cathy invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with them, they said that I could bring Todd if I wanted, but I wanted my friends to myself.
The day before Thanksgiving, Todd degraded my friends. He called Cathy a “pain-in-the-ass broad” and said Scott just “wants a piece.” Todd insisted that I eat at a holiday buffet alone with him. I was afraid of another door-slamming scene, so I declined Cathy’s offer.

As Todd and I walked past their apartment to the car, Cathy cheerfully waved, “Happy Thanksgiving.” Scott commented to me, “You look like a model in that dress. The green matches your eyes.”
Todd gritted his teeth: “I told you so! He just wants to get in your pants.”
Then Todd grabbed my elbow to steer me toward the inside of the sidewalk. “Never walk on the outside. That means you’re for sale.”
Was he a pimp? Was I a prostitute? It seemed like I had sold out something, in some way, but I did not know exactly what it was.
It was impossible to say “no” to Todd. When I tried to be assertive with him, he’d shoot my words back like an errant boomerang until what I thought I said did not sound like what he said I said.
There were several interwoven yet invisible abusive occurrences. The abuse is about what he did and said and how it made me feel:
He used intimidation tactics by making demands and slamming doors, which made me feel fearful. Not only is this immature, it is also an indicator of an abusive personality and of someone who does not have communication skills and/or coping abilities.
He used emotional abuse by disrespecting my desire to be with friends, which made me feel embarrassed. If he has to have the final say, and it is a unilateral decision rather than a mutual agreement, then he is in control.
He used isolation tactics by controlling where I went, which made me feel lonely. He deliberately sabotaged my social relationships. He also made me doubt my choice of friends by disparaging them.
He used psychological abuse by maneuvering my body to the other side of the walkway, which made me feel diminished. He confused me by twisting my words around, playing mind-games with me. If you could see the face of an abuser who does this, he either has a smirk because he knows he’s “one-up” as if he’s winning a competition of words, or he has a look of pity because he thinks, “oh, poor dear, you just can’t understand.”
There is no physical abuse in these scenes of domestic abuse, yet women are scarred for life from emotional/mental/psychological damage. Let this article about invisible forms of domestic abuse inform you of how women are emotionally wounded. If you discover a friend in this position, let her know you care, tell her it’s not her fault, listen without judgment, and encourage her to get help. If you recognize yourself, don’t stop believing that you deserve to be treated with respect.


Post completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story
Tolson4TEARS*: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted