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Houston, TX bore witness to a horrific mass murder over the weekend: Valerie Jackson, her six children, and her husband, Dwayne Jackson, were shot to death in their home. Police have arrested David Conley, who is Valerie Jackson’s ex-boyfriend and presumed to be the father of her eldest son and one of the victims, Nathaniel Conley, 13. After negotiating with the hostage team for hours, David Conley finally surrendered and has been charged with murder. Conley had been previously charged with domestic violence for attacking Jackson in the home she shared with her husband.

“We do not and cannot understand the motivations of an individual who would take the lives of so many people, including children,” Chief Deputy Tim W. Cannon said in a news conference about the murders on Sunday. The urge to write off this level of horror as incomprehensible—as a form of unfathomable evil—is understandable.

But the blunt fact is that we can understand the motivations of someone who would do this. Domestic homicide is committed almost entirely by men who feel off-the-charts levels of male entitlement—men who feel so entitled to control a woman just because they’ve dated or married her that they resort to violence to reassert control.

Indeed, the 2015 Pulitzer for Public Service went to the Charleston Post and Courier for their chillling but through examination of South Carolina’s domestic homicide problem. For anyone under the illusion that domestic homicide is mysterious—for anyone who cares about preventing violence at all, really—the seven-part series, titled “Till Death Do Us Part”, is a must-read.

One of their interviewees was Therese D’Encarnacao, who survived her husband shooting her in the head after she told him she was leaving. “If I can’t have you, nobody can,” he told her right before he pulled the trigger.

“Some of this is rooted in this notion of women as property,” state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter told the Post and Courier. That notion persists in prominent ways. Just look at the recent dust-up between singer Ciara and her rapper ex-boyfriend Future. As Lonnae O’Neal of the Washington Post pointed out last week, when Ciara posted Instagram pictures of their son cuddling her new boyfriend, Future melted down, and sadly, a lot of people on social media—along with New York radio host Ebro Darden—defended Future’s tantrum. It’s another way of corroborating the idea that a man gains ownership over a woman simply by having a relationship with her.

And if a man feels entitled to control a woman, it’s not a huge leap for him to resort to violence to get his way. Domestic violence, even when it ends in tragedy as horrifying as the Texas murders, is probably the least mysterious form of violence there is.

Read more:

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• To those who say: “Why doesn’t she just leave him?“, this is why.

• This isn’t just humans being narcissistic or territorial or greedy. This is men murdering women because they feel they “own” them. This is slavery. This is patriarchy.

• Anyone previously charged with domestic violence or assault should not be able to acquire a gun or any type of firearm.



by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

Note: Issues of verbal control can exist in any relationship, heterosexual, gay or lesbian, male towards a female partner or the other way around. Since more is known about verbal abuse in relationships where a guy is controlling his female partner, this article will address those relationships. However, a simple change of gender in any of the names is all it takes to apply the principles to other pairs.

Verbal abuse takes many forms: from loud rants to quiet comments; from obvious put-downs to not-so-obvious remarks that undermine the partner. What all the methods have in common is the need to control, to be superior, to avoid taking personal responsibility, and to mask or deny failures.

The myth in Hank’s and Mary’s relationship is that he is much, much smarter than she is. She does admire him, but not as much as he admires himself. He trumps anything she says with a stronger, maybe louder opinion. He calls her ideas naïve or ill-informed or even idiotic. Mary thinks he may be right. Since marrying Hank 3 years ago, her self-confidence has plummeted.

Jake, on the other hand, hides his need for control in his relationship with Marilyn under sarcasm, jokes and puns. “Why,” he says, “doesn’t Marilyn understand I’m just joking?” Why? Because she is the object of those sarcastic remarks, “jokes” and puns. He both publicly and privately keeps her off-balance by joking about her insights, her goals, and the things she cares most about. She has come to question her judgment about her ideas and about him. Lots of people think he’s funny. Maybe, she thinks, he doesn’t mean it. Maybe, she tells herself, she needs to have a better sense of humor.

Frank can’t stand to be seen as responsible for any failure. When he makes a mistake, his mantra is “I may be wrong but you are wrong-er.” If his wife says he has hurt her feelings, he claims not to remember having said what he said or having done what he did. He tells her she is “too sensitive.” He whines about being a scapegoat for other people’s problems. He doesn’t seem to get that he is the perpetrator, not the victim.

Al isn’t subtle. His wife and kids never know what to expect when he comes home. Will loving, caring Al be at the door with treats for the kids and something nice for his wife? Or will the Al who flies into rages, who threatens them with physical abuse and swears and calls them names show up? The whole household walks on eggshells. Even when loving-Al is around, things can change in an instant if he is the least bit frustrated. Last week when his 5-year-old spilled milk at the dinner table, he yelled at her for an hour. When his wife tried to intervene, he backhanded her. Everyone got real quiet. Then – the storm blew over and Al left for the rest of the evening.

If you recognize yourself in any of the above scenarios, you are being verbally abused. Make no mistake: Although verbal abuse doesn’t leave visible scars, it does do damage. The victims’ self-esteem is eroded. Children who watch one parent being put down and diminished by the other develop a skewed and sad view of how relationships are supposed to be.

6 Signs You Are Being Verbally Abused

  1. Like Mary, you feel you just can’t win. No matter how carefully or kindly you try to work out a problem, your partner says things that make you feel like you’re in the wrong.
  2. Your self-esteem and self-confidence are shot. Your partner isn’t your greatest fan but your greatest critic. He often tells you that his comments are “for your own good.
  3. When you say he has hurt your feelings your partner, like Frank in the scene above, tells you that you are too sensitive. When you point out that he has said something inappropriate or hurtful, he accuses you of trying to make him look bad. You notice that he rarely takes responsibility for his part of a problem. Somehow he manages to convince himself and even you that anything that goes wrong is your fault.
  4. You often are the brunt of jokes that make you feel bad. The guy who is fun and fun-loving outside the family unleashes a more vicious or undermining humor inside. Other people don’t believe you that the guy they know is so different from what you experience. Like Marilyn, you find yourself constantly questioning yourself.
  5. You have to walk on eggshells at home. Your home isn’t a sanctuary for you and your kids. It is the place where you are most afraid and embarrassed. You and the kids stay away as much as you can. When you are there with your partner, you all do everything you can to make sure nothing happens that could set him off.
  6. If you’re not very careful, the verbal abuse escalates to physical altercations. Even if you are very careful, what starts with words can end up with physical aggression toward you or destroying things, especially things you value.

Whoever made up that rhyme about “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” was just plain wrong! Words do hurt. They can break a person on the inside just as surely as a whack with a stick bruises the outside. People who are subjected to verbal abuse suffer. People who are subjected to it over time can get so used to it that they lose their sense of themselves as people worth loving. If you see yourself in any of these stories, know you are not alone. There are things you can do. Part II of this article will discuss them.

How I Got PTSD From My Marriage

Stop. Just stop asking why a woman is so stupid and so weak when she stays in an abusive relationship. There’s no answer you can possibly understand.

Your judgment only further shames abused women. It shames women like me.

There was no punch on the very first date with my ex-husband. That’s not normally how abusive marriages start. In fact, my first date was probably pretty similar to yours: he was charming, he paid attention to me, and he flattered me.

Of course, the red flags were there in the beginning of my relationship. But I was young and naïve, probably much like you were in the beginning of your relationship.

Except my marriage took a different turn than yours.

An abusive marriage takes time to build. It’s slow and methodical and incessant, much like a dripping kitchen faucet.

It begins like a little drip you don’t even notice — an off-hand remark that is “just a joke.” I’m told I’m too sensitive and the remark was no big deal. It seems so small and insignificant at the time. I probably am a little too sensitive.


I occasionally notice the drip but it’s no big deal. A public joke made at my expense is just my partner being the usual life of the party. When he asks if I’m wearing this dress out or whom I’m going with, it only means he loves me and cares about me.

When he tells me he doesn’t like my new friend, I agree. Yes, I can see where she can be bossy. My husband is more important than a friend, so I pull away and don’t continue the friendship.


The drip is getting annoying, but you don’t sell your house over a leaky faucet.

When a playful push was a little more than playful, I tell myself he didn’t really mean it.

He forgets he’s stronger than me. When I confront him in yet another lie he’s told, he tells me I’m crazy for not believing him. Maybe I’m crazy … I’m beginning to feel a little crazy. . . .

THE REST of this storyhttp://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/how-i-got-ptsd-my-marriage

In her page-turning memoir A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL: A TRUE STORY OF MARRIAGE TO A PSYCHOPATH, Barbara Bentley weaves a story of how fairy tale dreams, trust and hope collide with the crazy-making world of psychopaths and domestic violence.

Psychopath — the word evokes fear and reminds us that serial killers stalk our society. Alarmingly, most psychopaths are not killers like Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy, or even killers. Recent studies reveal psychopaths (a.k.a. sociopaths) permeate our everyday lives as ordinary people who move through life wreaking havoc on unsuspecting victims.

As frightening as this revelation is, it is Barbara Bentley’s hope that her compelling story will help others recognize the psychopath’s deviant behavior before it’s too late for them.

Lessons learned are lessons to be shared. Through personal experience, Bentley shows in her book that inspiration is culled from mayhem, hope shines light through darkness, and strength emerges with belief in one’s journey.

MORE information including where to buy this book can be found here:

Patrick Stewart as a baby with his mother, GladysMy father was, in many ways, a man of discipline, organisation and charisma – a regimental sergeant major no less. One of the very last men to be evacuated from Dunkirk, his third stripe was chalked on to his uniform by an officer when no more senior NCOs were left alive. Parachuted into Crete and Italy, both times under fire, he fought at Monte Casino and was twice mentioned in dispatches. A fellow soldier once told me, “When your father marches on to the parade ground, the birds in the trees stop singing.

“In civilian life it was a different story. He was an angry, unhappy and frustrated man who was not able to control his emotions or his hands. As a child I witnessed his repeated violence against my mother, and the terror and misery he caused was such that, if I felt I could have succeeded, I would have killed him. If my mother had attempted it, I would have held him down. For those who struggle to comprehend these feelings in a child, imagine living in an environment of emotional unpredictability, danger and humiliation week after week, year after year, from the age of seven. My childish instinct was to protect my mother, but the man hurting her was my father, whom I respected, admired and feared.

I witnessed terrible things, which I knew were wrong, but there was nowhere to go for help. Worse, there were those who condoned the abuse. I heard police or ambulancemen, standing in our house, say, “She must have provoked him,” or, “Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight.” They had no idea. The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured. She did not provoke my father, and even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict. Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it. No one came to help. No adult stepped in and took charge. I needed someone else to take over and tell me everything was going to be all right and that it wasn’t my fault. I wanted the anger to go away and, while it stayed, I felt responsible. The sense of guilt and loneliness provoked by domestic violence is tainting – and lasting. No one came, but everyone knew. Our small houses were close together. Every Monday morning I walked to school with my head down, praying that I would not encounter a neighbour or school friend who had heard the weekend’s rows. I felt ashamed.

The truth is that domestic violence touches many of us. It is very possible that someone you know – a friend, sister, daughter or colleague – is experiencing abuse. One in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her lifetime. And every week two women are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales, and 10 women take their own lives as the only way they know how to escape a violent partner. You are almost certainly paying for it. Domestic violence costs around £26bn a year in medical, legal and housing costs.

This violence is not a private matter. Behind closed doors it is shielded and hidden and it only intensifies. It is protected by silence – everyone’s silence. Which is why, in 2007, I became patron of •Refuge, the national domestic violence charity. Every day the organisation supports more than 1,000 women and children through its national network of refuges and services. At Refuge, women and children are given psychological support to help them overcome the trauma of abuse. A team of independent legal advocates are on hand to protect women at high risk of violence through the legal process.

Most people find the idea of violence against women – and sometimes, though rarely, against men – abhorrent, but do nothing to challenge it. More women and children, just like my mother and me, will continue to experience domestic violence unless we all speak out against it. You can do this by supporting Refuge’s latest campaign, Four Ways To Speak Out.

• The current image at the top of the page on this site is from Paul Klee’s “Refuge”

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