Why?

“Why doesn’t she just leave!?”

So many women have heard this question whispered from friends, co-workers and even family. The answer, much like the question, is not so simple. While scores of women leave abusive relationships every day, it can be harder for some than for others. Lydia’s House has helped women from many different walks of life, nationalities and religions. No two stories are exactly the same, but a common thread is heard in the answer to “why” some women don’t leave:  it is sometimes harder to leave than to stay.

On average it takes a woman seven to nine times to leave before she leaves an abuser for good.  Independence is a powerful, yet scary thing.  Often times the reason for leaving is the same reason a woman has used to stay:  children, safety, money. All reasons to stay but ultimately the best reasons to leave. Children who grow up in abusive homes often repeat that behavior as adults.  Many women leave to keep their children from being abused and from growing up in horrible, frightening environments. Fear of being harmed if she tries to leave has kept many women in abusive relationships but that same fear has propelled women to leave as well. Oftentimes abusers control the finances to control their victims, but many women have used the desire to control their own money, and thereby gaining independence and power, as a strong motive to leave.

On this Fourth of July, we remember all of the women and children still living in abusive situations, and we celebrate the strength and courage of all of the women and children who have left an abuser and are now moving toward a life of independence and freedom.

-Pilar


Fathers: Our First Teachers

Fathers, at times are our unsung heroes.  A real, present, accountable father is an immeasurable blessing in a child’s life. Most of us have heard of the statistics of fatherless homes.  Statistics like those from the U.S. Census Bureau that show children in fatherless homes are nearly four times more likely to be poor.  Of course, a child doesn’t just need a father, but a good father, a good man. A good father provides a stability and example that children carry with them throughout their lives.

The most important job a man can have is that of a father.  In that role he is one the first teacher who will help form who his children will become. Dad can be the first to teach his daughters about what a real man should be; how a good man treats a woman. It’s so important for men to understand how they can help change a culture of violence by first setting the example in front of their children.  When girls witness violence in their home it is often repeated in their own relationships when they reach adulthood.  However, the reverse is also true. Girls who grow up with a supportive father who they see handle conflict in a normal and healthy way tend to accept no less in their own romantic relationships.

Dad can also be the person who shows his sons an example of how to treat a woman, even in times of struggle. Boys look to their fathers for far more than how to catch a ball or swing a bat. They look to dad to set the tone for how a man interacts with a woman.  A responsible father can show his sons that even though you have the might, you do not have the right to put your hands on a woman in anger.  Fathers who are loving and supportive of their wives tend to produce sons who respect women as equals.

There are an abundance of amazing fathers who not only financially enrich their children but who inspire, teach and love their children every single day.

To those fathers, a priceless debt of gratitude is due.

-Pilar


Happy Mother’s Day

Every year at this time we celebrate the magnificent honor it is to be a mother and the strength every one of Lydia’s House residents display in choosing a new path for themselves and their children. We acknowledge and thank mothers and mother figures for their unyielding loyalty and unmatched devotion to their children. We all know that motherhood is extremely challenging and can often present difficulties that we never imagined we’d face when we first looked at their little newborn faces. Motherhood is not always pretty and it is definitely messy at times. From dirty diapers to runny noses to the moody teen years and beyond.

Recognizing that not everyone has had the same past and an attentive mother who was able to teach the parenting skills needed, Lydia’s House offers parenting classes once each month that is lead by one of our Family Advocates, who is a License Clinical Social Worker. Parenting classes teach participants how to organize their time in their home-life, proper discipline for their children and providing healthy choices when it comes to nutrition for their family. These classes also teach how to set clear family rules, when it is an appropriate age to leave children home alone and to pay attention during playtime for safety (in the streets or surrounding areas). Emotional health and other resources are also discussed with their instructor and amongst the mothers.
We take on the task of bringing new life into the world and making that life one of meaning. From the minute our children are born, we are mothers. It doesn’t pay well and the hours are pretty long but it’s the best job in the world and we’re immeasurably blessed to be able to wear the title.

Happy Mother’s Day

-Pilar

 

Editor’s Note: This month of April, we are proud to present our blog written by Lydia’s House in-house Chaplain, Carolyn Held. 

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

Probably at some point in our life we’ve heard these words.  We are led to believe that words used against us by another cannot hurt us, or at least not harm us physically.

Unfortunately, during the course of our lives many have found this saying to be untrue.  Words have been used against us, and even though they did not break our bones, they did indeed hurt.

If you ask someone who has been abused by an intimate partner, chances are they would say the physical abuse, although horrible and painful, was not as bad as the verbal/emotional abuse.  How could this be?  What these women say is that wounds will heal, bones will mend, scars will fade.  But the words used against them, the things the abuser said, replay in their mind, over and over, like an unending record.

In the women’s spiritual circle, we have discussed the power of words.  These women know too well the power of words, especially the power of the words used by their abuser.  I asked the women to share some of the words that have been used in hurtful ways against them.  Words like hate, spiteful, hypocrite, ugly, stupid, lazy and liar were listed, and it was clear there were particular incidents brought to mind in which these words were used.

These words and the pain they caused may never be erased from the minds and memories of these women.  Thankfully these women are also adding new words to their vocabulary, words like love, strong, and free.  Slowly these women can add new words to describe who they are, to allow themselves to see they are not solely defined by the hurtful words of an abuser.

What words will we use, or allow others to use, to describe who we are today?


Women’s History Month

March is “Women’s History Month”. Women have been a force of incredible strength and indomitable spirit for as long as time has existed.  But it is in the last century that the contributions of women have truly been thrust into the mainstream. We have built and rebuilt nations, we have been at the forefront of technology and research, we have shown resilience unparalleled in the world. Perhaps most importantly, as mothers we have been the first teachers to every person of influence in our world.

A part of what Lydia’s House gives to its residents is the potency of the history of women. We are more powerful and tenacious than the history books tell. Only a group of people who are tremendously industrious and determined could have made the strides women have made in this country in the last 100 years. From not having the right to vote at all to being integral parts of our country’s administration. From not being allowed a seat in the boardroom to sitting on a rocket headed toward space.

Throughout the world women are finding their voice and revolutionizing their lives together. We can do and be anything our minds can dream. This “Women’s History Month” reminds us that there are no obstacles that we cannot turn into stepping stones. Should we ever need inspiration we need only look a little ways back at how far we’ve come and we can draw from the courage and fortitude of those that came before.

-Pilar