Saturday, September 6, 2014

Be Aware. Stop Domestic Violence.

Domestic Violence isn't a game, a joke, or just a passing topic of conversation. It isn't just something for the NFL to talk about for a little while in order to look good. Domestic Violence and other forms of domestic abuse are a way of life for women (and men) all over the world, and domestic crime is epidemic in our society.

Right now, someone is currently being beaten to death by someone they loved and trusted.
Right now, someone is being raped by someone who once promised never to hurt them.

Right now, women (and men) and their children are homeless, living in cramped quarters in shelters for domestic violence, trying to rebuild what's left of their lives.

Right now, there's a victim living in fear, who can't or won't leave the danger zone they call home.
Right now, there's a victim barely getting by, stuck in a helpless situation due to a lack of funding for a local shelter, or the fear that there's nowhere safe to run.

But there ARE safe places for victims of domestic violence, places that are the real life versions of what I imagined when I wrote the Safe House in Fighting For Freedom.

In providing shelter, hotline assistance, and legal advocacy to victims of domestic violence and abuse, organizations that focus on helping victims of domestic abuse take a strong stand against domestic crime and provide desperately needed support to countless victims all around us.

Right now, at least 1 in 3 people have fallen victim to domestic partner violence and/or abuse. One in three. We campaign against violence all the time, don't we - against guns and terrorists, against war. But in 2012, 6,614 men and women were killed at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But 11,766 women were killed as a result of domestic violence.

The violence we speak out against isn't just on the other side of the world, or even just in the politically charged cities of our countries. It isn't just in places where racism still runs rampant, where poverty drives desperate people to crime in order to survive, or where mentally damaged men, women and children seek to victimize each other in malls, theaters, churches, schools.

Violence is right in front of all of us, in our homes, in our neighbors homes, and we turn our heads. We pretend we don't see. We pretend we don't realize. Or worse, we tell ourselves that it isn't our problem.

How many people told themselves that what was happening to Angela Brower wasn't their problem? Luckily, she was able to save herself - she was able to escape without suffering the prosecution that plagues Marissa Alexander.

I grew up in a world where domestic violence was normal - it occurred in almost every living situation I had as a child, regardless of where I was or who lived there. It occurred in the homes of many of my family members. It occurred in the homes of many of my friends.

I saw things thrown, I saw things broken.
I heard ugly words, and vile threats.

When I was young, I saw a man strangle my mother, holding her body against a wall, her toes barely touching the front porch of the single-wide trailer we lived in ... because she didn't put enough mayo on his sandwich. In another incident, he hit her with his truck, pinning her leg between the truck he was driving ... and the car his only daughter had taken shelter from him in.

I remember having to be pulled out of class at school, humiliated in the guidance counselors office. I had to strip my clothes off so that police could take photos of the bruises on my body.

I remember rage. Fear. Helplessness.

My first serious relationship, I got slapped in the face, just once. I never allowed it to happen again, but for the longest time, I believed with all my heart that it was a little bit my fault, that I asked for it.

By the time, I realized how wrong that was, I was in another relationship, one that also got abusive - just once. He grabbed my wrist, held me back from walking away from an argument. I panicked; I turned around with fear twisting my gut and fire in my eyes. And I hit him in the face. Maybe a part of me was warning him, maybe a part of me had gone back in time, finally standing up for my personal right to space and the control of my own body. It doesn't matter why, really - he let go. Later, we talked and it never happened again - although we both knew his brother would regularly beat his girlfriend ... he even beat her all through her pregnancy with their child, and she wouldn't leave him. Violence was rife in that family too.

Now that I have children of my own, I watch them closely, even with other family members. Even with their dad. Even with people that I've trusted all my life - because all too often, it's the people you trust who hurt you the most.

That's why domestic abuse is the worst kind of violence - it isn't just ugly. It isn't just sad, or scary. It's sneaky. It's so quiet, like a dark demon shadow walking through our homes, through our families. And we don't stop it - we turn away.

Don't turn away. Help me spread awareness for domestic violence and victims who spend their lives suffering silently. Lend your support here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

With my recent blogfest (except for the last post, where I talked about my ALS Ice Bucket Challenge), I talked about review bullying. pansy authors, and bully authors. Often I made little jokes, and sometimes I downright made light of the situation, but the truth is, bullying is real. And it is painful. It is damaging, and it has lasting consequences that you probably can't even imagine.

Even the strongest people have their weaknesses. Even the strongest predator can become prey, and all it takes is the changing of a small tide for the hunter to become the hunted.

It makes me wonder what these people - both the bullied and the bullies - see when they look in the mirror. I mean, I was always taught as a child that a bully is a bully for one main reason: insecurity. And we all know what bullying does to a victim - it makes them insecure. It makes them doubt. 

I guess misery really does love company.

But what's behind the scenes, behind the eyes and the outer fa├žade of the average person?

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see hair color, eye color, skin color? Do you see freckles or wrinkles, scars or weight or stray hairs? Or do you really see the person within?

Do you look into the mirror ashamed? Do you see "liar" or "thief"? Do you see "attitude"? Do you see "slut" or "pig" or "snob"?

Or are you able (yet) to look into the mirror and see "beautiful" and "lovely"? Can you look into the depths of your own eyes and see a person worth knowing?

Some of us can, some of the time.

I have to assume that you will look in the mirror and see some mix of those things. You will see your eyes; you will see the color and the style of your hair, and whether it is messy or neat. But you will also see the innermost truths of who you believe yourself to be, and this is where you gauge not only your level of confidence, but who you truly are.

If you were me and you didn't like me, you'd see eyes that don't match, a face that's just too far over the line of symmetry, a round-tipped nose that's just not perfectly straight. If you were me, you'd look in the mirror and see round shoulders, too-big upper arms, and a round body that just won't slim down no matter what.

But if you were me and you did like me, you'd see pretty eyes, just a little slanted - and enchanting because of their uniqueness. You'd see kissable lips and a ready smile. You'd see the softness of a mother, protected by the hard edges of a tough life, a body that's been put through hell and is still going strong.

And if you know me like I do, you'll see a little girl who grew up poor and afraid, a little girl who was an unwilling witness to unbelievable cruelty and sometimes unspeakable sadness. You'll see a little girl who grew up too fast in a world where innocence was stolen fast and early. You'll see a mother who fiercely protects that innocence in her own children. You'll see the ravages of empathy, evidence that "the weight of the world" is a real measurement of the burdens of life.

You'll see the grown up product of domestic violence. You'll see a grown up product of bullying.

But, because of my experiences and the experiences of the people I love, you'll see a friend to victims of rape, violence, and insanity. You'll see an advocate for the underdog, a hopeless romantic.

You'll see a heart that beats mightily, a soul that bleeds words, and a spirit that can't help but stand strong.

You know, if you were me.

What would I see if I were you?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Version of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I know, I know. I should have written about this over a week ago when I got challenged. I should have, but sometimes, life gets in the way, and I was doing other things, sorting through my feelings over the recent various author/indie dramas, and trying to get my writing mojo back.

Because, as many of you have noticed, there's a bit of a time lapse going on ... my last book release was some time ago. But I assure you, I am writing ... it's just so desperately slow.

Anyway, in the midst of social media marketing and other non-writing things that take up my daily life, I managed to get tagged for the Ice Bucket Challenge. Not really on purpose, but hey, it's a craze, right?

Everybody's Doing It.

So I got tagged by a friend, and I did it. Because the hugeness of ALS touches my heart. And of course, I made a video - with slow motion replays. Wanna see?
Check me out, freezing down in the YouTube box below.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: 'Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes' by Denise Grover Swank

*About The Book*
"It all started when I saw myself dead."

For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad, even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She's had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone's toilet's overflowed, but she's never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: there isn't enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect.

Rose realizes she's wasted twenty-four years of living and makes a list on the back of a Walmart receipt; twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before her vision comes true. She's well on her way with the help of her next door neighbor Joe, who has no trouble teaching Rose the rules of drinking, but won't help with number fifteen - do more with a man. Joe's new to town, but it doesn't take a vision for Rose to realize he's got plenty secrets of his own.

Somebody thinks Rose has something they want and they'll do anything to get it. Her house is broken into, someone else she knows is murdered, and suddenly, dying a virgin in the Fenton County jail isn't her biggest worry after all.

*My Review*
This book did what you want a book to do - it sucked me in and forced me to feel something. Rose is a sweet character, and although she's a bit immature at times, I found her mistakes and her thoughts to be fairly realistic. I also really loved how things grew naturally between Rose and Joe ... and I loved Joe, even when I hated him a little.

The romance aspect of this story had me laughing, "awww"ing, and smiling to myself, and the mystery aspect of the story was spot on. There were some good twists, some good turns, and a few unexpected little happenings. I read the book without reading the summary, simply because it was next in line on my kindle, and the death of Rose's mom really threw me, as did the other death in the story.

I loved that the little bit of country flair in the story wasn't overdone, and honestly, I can't wait to read Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons, the next book in the series.

Due to a few grammatical and formatting errors, 4 stars for Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes.
Want to give this book a shot? One-click it easily on Amazon.

*More About Aurelia B Rowl*
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