Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review of "A Private Family Matter" by Victor Rivas Rivers by Tolson 4 TEARS*

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

Review of  A Private Family Matter by Victor Rivas Rivers

How does a child survive his boyhood with a father who delivers endless emotional, verbal, and physical torture?

This is what the reader learns from Victor Rivas. Born in Cuba, his family immigrated to America before Castro’s rule. Yet Victor did not escape the sadistic dictatorship of his own father. The torture that the father inflicted upon his family is difficult for a reader to process, yet it brings awareness to the tough topic of domestic violence.

The reader learns of a frustrating social system that denied resources to the most vulnerable victims: women and children. When Victor’s mother visits a police station to tell of the abuse she was experiencing, she was told that there was nothing they could do. They told her to call the next time he was beating her! When Victor ran to the police station to show his bruised pubescent body to the officers, they told him there was nothing they could do because it was “a private family matter.”

Victor’s father ruined everything, and stole his son’s right to self-determination. After witnessing abuse upon his mother, his brothers, and his pets, as well as enduring the vicious assaults from his father, Victor runs away from his house-of-horrors. He was safer sleeping in a cemetery. Naturally, he becomes a hostile, hopeless adolescent.

Yet Victor was rescued by seven families, teachers, and coaches. He spent the last years of high school learning to give and receive love. He became an athlete, actor, and advocate.

A review of 300-400 words cannot possibly convey the poignancy of this story. It is well-written, with a sprinkling of enjoyable observations, such as an anecdote about acclimating to Miami in August, and the bug life “spawned by the moisture.” Victor Rivas Rivers also shares his survival lessons as he pushes through his tough assignment.

As an author of a memoir with the same topics, I can identify with the ironic twists and turns of the home-site battlefield, as well as the universal themes of triumph over tragedy. As an advocate, I would recommend this book as “a must read” for breaking the silence and cycles of violence and challenging society to promote peace in our homes.

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

On Self-Love via Tolson 4 TEARS*

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

Une vidéo qui parle à l'enfant blessé en nous...une vidéo qui fait du bien...je vous mets au défi de le faire...Extrait du film Angel-a avec Rie Rasmussen et Jamel Debbouze
Posted by Christophe Godfriaux on Friday, September 25, 2015

What is the concept of self-love? And how can you apply it?

From Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story 

"To increase my self-confidence, I peeked into the mirror each morning and repeated: I can, I can, I can. Once, I would have considered this a corny gimmick, but now I viewed it as a tool to get myself together. Prior to using this believing mirror technique, I would only glance in the mirror, afraid to face the image of shame, guilt, anger, and regret that reflected back.

My counselor, Karen, said, “You don’t see yourself as others see you.”

Afraid of the answer, I asked, “How do others see me?”

Karen responded: “I see a bright, beautiful woman with talent. You have paid too much attention to negative traits while neglecting your positive qualities. Try accepting all aspects of your identity, both your strengths and weaknesses. You are greater than the sum of all parts. Let’s consider the concept of self-love.”

I said, “Self-love? Isn’t that conceited?”

Karen said, “Conceit is a result of the ego, and a selfish point of view. However, self-esteem and self-love originate in the soul, which is the essence of love.”

Don't YOU deserve to be loved by Y-O-U?

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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

On PTSD Symptoms via Tolson 4 TEARS*

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

Those suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) often use common terms to describe the phenomena of the symptoms, citing "anxiety" "depression" "nightmares" etc. But how do those symptoms materialize, and how does it feel for the individual thus afflicted? 

The nature of PTSD** is such that a somewhat distressing experience in the present can morph into a devastating situation for the individual that has post-traumatic stress. Why is that? An individual with PTSD carries within his-her psyche the entirety of the horrible experiences that caused post-traumatic stress. The pain of the past experiences can be alleviated, but how can the experiences be exorcised, eradicated, erased? (I don't think they can be). So a seemingly innocuous change in the controlled routine of a PTSD individual (I'm talking about a minor-to-moderate inconvenience) can escalate to a threat of imminent danger and impending doom in the mind of one with PTSD. Thoughts and feelings get twisted, and the individual feels overwhelmed and unable to cope.

Metaphorically speaking, a nice spring rain shower, with a single benign thunderclap, can suddenly turn malignant as it increases power to that of a wild hurricane, with thunder and lightening and uncontrollable wind. The person with PTSD can become swept away by a gentle breeze in the present when those breezes collide with the brutal winds of the past, the hurricane gusts that knocked him-her down to the ground to begin with. PTSD is aggravated by the chaos and confusion of an upset, and a breakdown ensues.

The challenge for the person with PTSD is to determine ways in which he-she can transform a breakdown into a BreakThrough. It takes diligent practice to see that every minor inconvenience need not evolve to a major catastrophe. (Note to self: Keep a sense of perspective.)

**It is my opinion that the "D" in PTS-D be dropped because it is not I who is disordered but what was done to me that is disordered.

For more on the nature of PTSD click here

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On Characteristics of Victims + Offenders in Domestic Abuse via Tolson 4 TEARS*

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

By looking at this picture, no one would ever know that I was in a marriage fraught with domestic violence  I was so familiar with abusive relationships that I did not know what a healthy relationship was like. In therapy sessions during my twenties, I learned that "People often seek a life partner who serves to resolve issues of the past.” The implication was that I had done so by marrying a man who preyed on my vulnerabilities, repeating what I had experienced as a child via my father, my stepfather, and my older brother. I responded to my therapist's comment by saying that I was not looking for a mate who abused me! My therapist said, “No, not consciously. We sometimes operate on an unconscious level, which may lead to repetition of unhealthy patterns." She encouraged me to become more aware of patterns that pertained to my husband and family. "It’s not unusual to do things as we saw them done.”

Lynn C. Tolson
When we examine our motives, we make better choices. This illustrates why it is important to understand the dynamics of dysfunction: "If I know why I did what I did, I might do it better next time.” Realizing the characteristics of victims and offenders helps in determining whether it's an unhealthy relationship. You can't see the physical evidence of me as victim in this picture, but you can sense the traits that led me to perpetuate the roles. 

(victims and offenders may have some and/or not have all of these characteristics)



Socially isolated

Low self esteem

Believes traditional stereotypes

Often compliant with trivial demands

Suffers from guilt, denies terror and anger

Convinced she is responsible for the abuse

Believes all the myths about domestic violence

May have witnessed or experienced abuse as a child

Attempts to manipulate the environment to maintain safety


Emotionally dependent

Abused as children (typically)

Loses temper frequently and early

Displays unusual amount of jealousy

Has weapons & threatens to use them

Contradictory, unpredictable personality

Has limited capacity for delayed gratification

Drinks alcohol excessively (and/or other substance)

Commits acts of violence against people, pets, and objects

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

Sunday, July 19, 2015

On Abuse & Memory via Tolson 4 TEARS*

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

Blocked memory is a method of coping with the incomprehensible. My father had committed acts of violence upon me before I was a teen, all the while telling me, “You will remember...Nothing.” But my mind took pictures with photographic precision. I remembered what he’d done and how he had reasoned that it was my duty as his daughter.

When I was twelve, my brother raped me. He also used that phrase, telling me, “You will remember…. Nothing.” (How did he learn that phrase? Had our father used it with him?) What rationalization did my brother have? None!  My brother committed a calculated crime of unspeakable betrayal upon my mind, body, and soul.

While others my age were training their brains to pass a test, score a goal, or learn a foreign language, I practiced forgetting, willing my mind to zoom in on one event (my father) and zoom out on another (my brother). There was no clear focus; multiple transposed images soaked in a solution too corrosive for my brain to process.

Even then, I trained myself to forget. At age 43, the memories suddenly re-surfaced with a photographic clarity that could no longer be denied or dismissed. It was time to tell my self what my brother had done to me thirty years prior. It was time to release my memories from the prison of forced amnesia and feel the freedom of truth, that leads to peace of mind. 

Memories are not chronological, linear, or mathematical. They advance, retreat, and erase themselves according to the quantity/quality of the information the individual can manage at the time.

Anna Freud wrote: “Human beings are acquainted with only a fragment of their own inner life, and know nothing about a great many feelings and thoughts which go on within them, that is to say, all these things happen unconsciously without their awareness…. The importance of any event is by no means a guarantee of its permanence in our memory; indeed, on the contrary, it is just the most significant impressions that regularly escape recollection.” Anna Freud, Psychoanalysis for Teachers and Parents: Introductory Lectures (New York: Norton, 1935), pp. 65-66
But nightmares would awaken me with their shrewd yet senseless messages; the nightmares lingered long into the days. The images did not fade; they developed into flashbacks. What were they telling me? The nightmare-images-flashbacks cycle was more than I could handle, and I attempted suicide at age 25.

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

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tolson 4 TEARS* Reviews "Miss America By Day"

Marilyn Van Derbur, a native of Colorado, is one of four daughters of a prominent Denver businessman (he is deceased). Both parents were active volunteers, donating time and money to culture and civic organizations. Marilyn's mother would often state that she had the "perfect marriage" and Marilyn was told that she was "blessed by being born into a perfect family." Marilyn's life appeared to be perfect, as depicted by the smiles in the pictures she shares throughout the book. Marilyn was crowned Miss America while she was attending the University of Colorado in 1958. When she graduated (with honors) Marilyn was a guest host on Candid Camera and a panelist on To Tell the Truth, as well as in commercials. She also waved to the public while in the Cotton Bowl and Thanksgiving Day Parades. She chose motivational speaking as her career, and was named the "Outstanding Woman Speaker in America" and was inducted to the "Colorado Woman's Hall of Fame." Indeed, anyone reading her story might experience a twinge of envy for all the fame and fortune that seemed to come to her so easily and effortlessly.
Except...Marilyn suffered from physical symptoms including insomnia, tics, ulcers, and panic attacks. When her body and mind rebelled against the constant travel, she experienced full body paralysis, yet doctors found no organic cause. What else might Marilyn be rebelling against? She had to search her mind and spirit to find the answers.
One of Marilyn's earliest memories is of her mother reading the Bible before bed. Memories that came next had been repressed for decades. Marilyn writes, "I had never prayed. I didn't want a more powerful father and I knew, deep inside, that the Father my mother was praying to when I was a child wasn't protecting me." However, when her story went public via the Denver media and People magazine, she asked of a Higher Power: "I want to help...If you show me the way ...I will do whatever you ask me to do." Thus began the next chapter of Marilyn's life.

Not only does she educate with this book and her speeches, she also helps victims become survivors by sharing her healing journey. Throughout the book, Marilyn also shares with the reader her relationships with her husband and daughter, and the reader relishes in the emotional relief their unconditional love offers Marilyn.

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

*Tolson4TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide

Marilyn Van Derbur was interviewed by coach Rachel Grant @coachRachelG and you can hear the archived interview on Beyond Surviving Radio (see below). Rachel Grant is a sexual abuse recovery coach at Rachel Grant Coaching

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