Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

“M” –Mangled Marriage of Mack and Marissa


domestic.violence.battered.woman500x250, americansendingabuse.org

source: americansendingabuse.org –National Hotline, 24/7, 1-877-1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Mack had just gotten out of jail for beating his wife nearly to death. After only three months in jail, he was now on probation and court ordered to attend “stupid” outpatient therapy once a week for two hours for a whole year! “Disgusting” was his cleaner thought. He wouldn’t bother to go, but if he didn’t, the therapist would report him and he’d just end up back in a cell–“no thank you!” So attend he did–hating every moment that he had to pretend he was learning “anger control–how stupid do they think I am?”

His great desire was to get his wife back. He was pretty sure he could do that, but for that damn therapist who kept talking to her. The therapist would never encourage her to return to him. Just the opposite, she’d gotten his wife to take a protection order against him, and he could not go closer than 100 feet to her! He’d lost custody of his son…”all because he’d lost his temper…once…okay, maybe two or three times. He didn’t mean to hurt her, but she aggravated him so much, she was so stupid sometimes. Still, she was drop dead gorgeous, and he loved her in some ways. But sometimes, he just had to haul off and smack her! He just got out of control this last time. He didn’t mean to pick up the butcher knife, didn’t mean to cut her arm, her hands–he was just so mad, and the knife was just there. It really was her fault, if she would just shut up!”

“I truly believe I can get her back, if I can just talk to her! I have to see her,” Mack thought to himself. So, he hatched a plan. They both had to go to the large public mental health center for counseling. The center took great pains to schedule them on different days however, so they wouldn’t cross paths.

“What can I do? How can I fix it so we are forced to run into each other there, and we can talk?” Mack knew there had to be a way, and he was scheming as hard as he could! When he was at the center for his group therapy tonight, he noticed that the cleaning crew left the front office open while carrying out the trash. The office was always locked, you had to talk to the receptionist through a glass window. But here was the door, propped open! There sat the appointment calendar for anyone to thumb through! Quickly, he picked it up, opened it to the current week, and “yes! –Marissa was scheduled at two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Stupid therapist!” A plan began to form in his mind.

Wednesday brought a bright, sunny day in Georgia. Marissa was scared to death as she loaded the last suitcase in the trunk of her car. She’d already arranged for the sale of her car, and the buyer was taking delivery in an hour at the Mental Health Center of all places.  She was headed to school to get her five year old son Michael. She couldn’t believe it, but she was leaving the state today!

She really thought Mack was going to kill her this last time he’d beat her. He’d cut her as well. Although she loved him, she knew now that he’d surely kill her if she let him into her life again. Her own group and individual therapy had convinced her she had to get away. She should have done it while he was in jail, but now she had to take Michael and go! She had no money–that was part of the problem. But once she’d convinced the therapist she was serious, the shelter had introduced her to the Underground Railroad for Abused Women. She was scared to death, but today was the day. She would take Michael with her to the Mental Health Center.  A lady from the Women’s Shelter would meet them there, and take them to the train, bus, or airport, she wouldn’t know until it happened. They would give her a new ID, a new passport, and send her to a home where she and Michael would stay, just tonight, one night! The next night they would be staying in a different home or shelter, or hotel. Her expenses were taken care of. It was like entering the witness protection program. She’d filed for divorce while Mack was in jail. He’d signed the papers in exchange for reduced active time. She’d said goodbye to the few friends and family she had, just saying she had a job opportunity and was moving away. Her parents were deceased, she hoped to never see Mack again.

Marissa knew that in about seven to ten days, she and Michael, from now on to be called Ken, Kenny, or Kenneth, and his Mom Carol, would arrive at their new home, an apartment paid for by the Underground Railroad. Kenny would go to school and be safe she hoped. She had a job waiting for her, she didn’t even know what yet, but different from what she’d done before. She was scared a bit, nervous, but excited also. “Finally,” she thought “Michael And I will be free, safe, and able to pursue a more normal lifestyle.” She was only thirty years old.

Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, Mack was putting his plan into motion. What he didn’t know was that Marissa and Kenny had arrived at the Center at one thirty. She had signed papers and transferred the title to her car to its new owner. Pocketing the cash, she met with her therapist only long enough to say goodbye and be shown out the back door to a waiting car, with tinted windows, where they quickly loaded her, Michael, and their suitcases. Waving goodbye, Marissa and Michael were gone, on their way to their new life before two o’clock.

Not knowing any of this, Mack took a break from work “to run an important errand,” he told his boss. Within minutes, he’d called in a bomb threat against the Mental Health Center from a pay phone. He drove directly there, thinking he would surely find his wife in the parking lot, evacuated along with everyone else. He laughed, no one could beat him, he always got what he wanted!

When Mack pulled up near the Mental Health Center, he was delighted to see all the staff and clients standing out in the parking lot, just as he’d predicted. He parked on the street, and began to look for Marissa. He saw the police forming teams, each with a bomb-sniffing dog, and enter the building to search. Half of him wished he’d been able to plant a real bomb!

He walked around a bit, but didn’t see her! “Where could she be?” He knew she wouldn’t still be in the building. Then he saw her therapist, his also, “that stupid woman!” He looked carefully, then approached the counselor. “Hi Angela, what’s going on?”

Angela was surprised to see Mack for sure! She smiled at him and said, “Hi Mack, what brings you here this time of day?”

“Well, I was coming by to settle my bill, and I heard on the radio about the bomb threat. Thought I’d swing by and check it out. Everyone okay? I thought I’d heard that Marissa had an appointment this afternoon, it worried me, so is she here?“

Red flags went up immediately in the therapist’s brain and intuition, but she stayed calm, and kept a smile on her face, as she said, “Oh, thank heavens, as it turns out, Marissa canceled today. I can’t remember why, but we rescheduled for later in the week.” (She lied to protect Marissa, hoping the delayed appointment time would keep him from searching for her beyond the center.)

Mack said he had to get back to work, but she saw him circling the crowd and the building. She immediately sought out the nearest police officer she could find. She pointed Mack out as she and the officer watched him get into his car and drive away. Immediately, the officer issued a bulletin for him to be brought in for questioning as a person of interest in the planting of the bomb at the Mental Health Center, or the issuing of a false report.

It was determined before long that there was no bomb in the building. Angela entered with all the other staff, although she didn’t feel very safe or comfortable. The afternoon and evening continued as if nothing had happened. About six o’clock however, Angela got to talk to the same police officer she’d seen earlier. She reminded him that she’d reported that one of her male clients, arrested formerly for domestic violence, was seen loitering around the Center during the bomb threat evacuation, and that he’d admitted he was looking for his wife, from whom he was separated. She asked if he knew whether or not he’d been involved.

The officer said he was just coming to see if Angela was still in the building, and continued to tell her the outcome. They had picked Mack up to be questioned as a person of interest. Under intensive interrogation, Mack had admitted he had planned the whole thing, that he had called in the bomb threat. He admitted that he’d wanted to see his wife evacuated from the building, and even how he’d discovered her appointment time!

Angela was surprised and saddened, even though on some level she’d suspected just that! She knew, and it came to happen, that when he appeared in court the next morning, his probation was revoked and he was sent back to jail for breaking the terms of his release–trying to harm his wife, get close to her, possibly threaten or intimidate her, and calling in a false report. This meant of course, Angela would no longer have him in the Men’s Violent Offender’s Group either. While sad, and wishing she could have done more to help this couple, she also used his incarceration as a warning to other group members that they meant business–that if the men failed to attend group and participate, or broke the rules of their probation or restraining orders, they would be reported and go back to jail. It had an impact, most didn’t want to lose their freedom.

Mack got out of jail a year later, and immediately went to see Marissa. He was surprised to learn she had moved away quite a while ago, no one seemed to remember just when. He used the internet, but could find no trace of her. After he was back at work, he used his first paycheck to hire a private detective to find her. Even the detective was unable to discover her whereabouts. The women’s shelter, the Underground Railroad had done their jobs well, and Carol and Kenny were happy in their new home and community.

(© This fictional story by Helen Y. Holshouser, was inspired by a true one, unfortunately.)

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How Can We Help Prevent Child Abuse?

How do I prevent child abuse in my own home, and help others do the same?!

I found the website below while researching child abuse, and thought I’d share it with you. Its exactly what I’d like to say to any concerned person, so I decided to quote them for your information. Hope you enjoy, and feel you can get help if you need it. I will put a list of local and national help numbers on the next post. Perhaps  you can print them out and keep them in a private place so you know what to do.  Wishing you the best that life has to offer, which is a lot better than abuse!

Helen Holshouser



You Can Help !!

You Have What it needs to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect if you may:

1) Volunteer little of your time and money: Get involved with organizations working to prevent child abuse. Try to support families with emotional or financial problems. You can do more than what you think you could. You can make a change in the right direction.

2) Discipline your children thoughtfully: Never discipline your child when you are upset. Give yourself time to calm down.

Let’s remember that discipline is meant to teach a child and not a way of revenge.

Use privileges to encourage good behavior and time-outs to help your child regain control.

3) Examine your behavior: Abuse is not just physical. Both words and actions could inflict deep, lasting mental wounds.

Be a nurturing parent. Use your actions to show children and other adults that conflicts can be settled without hitting or yelling and that effective talking and listening can make a difference.

4) Educate yourself and others: Help educate others in your community about Child Abuse and Neglect.

Simple support for children and parents can be the best way to prevent Child Abuse.

After-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm. Be a voice in support of these efforts in your community. Remember, any small effort can make a step towards the right way.

5)Teach children their rights: When children are taught they are special and have the right to be safe, they are less likely to think abuse is their fault, and more likely to report an offender. Encourage you children to view the www.be-free.info site. It contains helpful information.

6) Support prevention programs: Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported.

Parent education, community centers, respite care services, and abuse treatment programs help to protect children by addressing circumstances that places families at risk for Child Abuse and Neglect.

7) Know what Child Abuse is: Child Abuse and Neglect takes more than one form. There are four main types of child maltreatment: physical abuse, physical or emotional neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Often more than one type of abuse or neglect occurs within families. Some types of maltreatment, such as emotional abuse, are much harder to substantiate than others like is the case with physical abuse.

Children can also be emotionally abused when they are rejected, berated, or continuously isolated. Refer to description of child abuse in this site.

8) Know the signs: Unexplained injuries aren’t the only signs of abuse.

Fear of a certain adult, difficulty trusting others or making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene, secrecy, and hostility are often signs of family problems and may indicate a child is being neglected or physically, sexually, or emotionally abused.

9) Understand the causes: Most parents don’t hurt or neglect their children intentionally. Many were themselves abused or neglected. Very young or inexperienced parents might not know how to take care of their babies or what they can reasonably expect from children at different stages of development. Circumstances that places families under extraordinary stress—for instance, poverty, divorce, sickness, disability—sometimes take their toll in child maltreatment. Parents who abuse alcohol or other drugs are more likely to abuse or neglect their children.

Report Abuse: If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of Abuse, or if a child tells you about abuse, make a report to the proper authorities in your country.

When talking to a child about Abuse, listen carefully, assure the child that he or she did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that he or she is not responsible for what happened.

11) Invest in Kids. Encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families.

Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments. Ask your local and national lawmakers to support legislation to better protect our children and to improve their lives.

12) Strengthen the fabric of your community: Know your neighbors’ names and the names of their children, and make sure they know yours. Give stressed parents a break by offering to watch their children. Volunteer. If you like interacting with children, great, but you do not have to volunteer directly with kids to contribute to prevention. All activities that strengthen communities, such as service to civic clubs and participation on boards and committees, ultimately contribute to the well-being of children.

Give your used clothing, furniture and toys for use to poor families. This can help relieve the stress of financial burdens that parents sometimes take out on their kids.

13) Be ready in an emergency: We’ve all have heard about the screaming-child-in-the-supermarket in UK whom was killed by another 2 children. Most parents take the typical tantrum in stride. But what if you witness the scene in the supermarket or anywhere else would you believe a child is being, or is about to be, physically or verbally abused? Responding in these circumstances technically moves beyond prevention to intervention, and intervention is best handled by professionals. Still, if you find yourself in a situation where you believe a child is being or will be abused at that moment, there are steps you can take. Bellow are examples of what you can do:

Talk to the adult to get their attention away from the child. Be friendly.

Say something like, “Children can really wear you out, can’t they?” or “My child has done the same thing.”

Ask if you could help in any way—could you carry some packages? Play with an older child so the baby can be fed or changed? Call someone on your cell phone?

If you see a child alone in a public place—for example, unattended in a grocery cart—stay if you can with the child until the parent returns.

 Finally—and most important if you are a parent—remember that prevention, like most positive things, begins at home. Take time to re-evaluate your parenting skills. Be honest with yourself—are you yelling at your children a lot or hitting them? Do you enjoy being a parent at least most of the time? If you could benefit from some help with parenting, seek it—getting help when you need it is an essential part of being a good parent. Talk to a professional that you trust; take a parenting class; read a book about child development.


Retrieved from

The Be-Free Team. 2012. You Can Help. 

(If this link doesn’t take you directly to the website, copy and paste it in your address bar.

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Staying Safe While Preparing to Leave the Abusive Situation


This is an excellent resource for legal information regarding Domestic Violence. I am reprinting one of the pages from  this  website so that you can see the important messages they have for you to consider. I highly recommend this resource. The url is given again at the end of this post.   Helen

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

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Staying Safe

·         UPDATED April 26, 2011


Getting Ready to Leave


No one deserves to be abused. If you are in an abusive relationship, and you feel that you are ready to leave the abuser, here are some tips to help keep you as safe as possible when preparing to leave.

Following these suggestions (often known as a safety plan) can’t guarantee your safety, but it could help make you safer. However, it is important that you create a safety plan that is right for you. Not all of these suggestions will work for everyone, and some could even place you in greater danger. You have to do what you think is best to keep yourself and your children safe.

·         Getting ready to leave
·         After you’ve left

                                       Getting ready to leave

·         Make a plan for how you are going to leave, including where you’re going to go, and how to cover your tracks. Make one plan for if you have time to prepare to leave the home. Make another plan for if you have to leave the home in a hurry.

·         If you can, keep any evidence of the physical abuse and take it with you when you leave. Make sure to keep this evidence in a safe place that the abuser will not find – this may mean that you have to keep it in a locked drawer at work or with a trusted family member. If the abuser finds it, you could be in more danger. Such evidence of physical abuse might include:

·     Pictures you have pictures of bruises or other injuries. If possible, try to have these pictures dated;

·     Torn or bloody clothing;

·     Household objects that the abuser damaged or broke during a violent episode;

·     Pictures that show your home destroyed or messed up after violence happened;

·     Any records you have from doctors or the police that document the abuse;

·     Whenever you are hurt, go to a doctor or to an emergency room as soon as possible if you can. Tell them what happened. Ask them to make a record of your visit and of what happened to you. Be sure to get a copy of the record.

·     A journal that you may have kept with details about the abuse, which could help prove the abuse in court.

·     Anything else you think could help show that you’ve been abused.

·         Get a bag together that you can easily grab when you leave. Some things to include in the bag are:

·     Spare car keys;

·     Your driver’s license;

·     A list of your credit cards so that you can track any activity on them;

·     Your checkbook;

·     Money;

·     Phone numbers for friends, relatives, doctors, schools, taxi services, and your local domestic violence organization;

·     A change of clothing for you and your children;

·     Any medication that you or your children usually take;

·     Copies of your children’s birth certificates, social security cards, school records and immunizations;

·     Copies of legal documents for you and the abuser, such as social security cards, passports, green cards, medical records, insurance information, birth certificates, marriage license, wills, welfare identification information and copies of any court orders (such as your protection order or custody order);

·     Copies of financial documents for you and the abuser, such as pay stubs, bank account information, a list of credit cards you hold by yourself or together with the abuser;

·     Any evidence you’ve been collecting to show that you’ve been abused; and

·     A few things you want to keep, like photographs, jewelry or other personal items.

·         Hide this bag somewhere the abuser will not find it. Try to keep it at a trusted friend or neighbor’s house. Avoid using next-door neighbors, close family members, or mutual friends, as the abuser might be more likely to find it there. If you’re in an emergency and need to get out right away, don’t worry about gathering these things. While they’re helpful to have, getting out safely should come first.

·         Hide an extra set of car keys in a place you can get to easily in case the abuser takes the car keys to prevent you from leaving.

·         Try to set money aside. If the abuser controls the household money, this might mean that you can only save a few dollars per week; the most important thing is that you save whatever amount you can that will not tip off the abuser and put you in further danger. You can ask trusted friends or family members to hold money for you so that the abuser cannot find it and/or use it.

·         If you are not employed, try to get job skills by taking classes at a community college or a vocational school if you can. This will help you to get a job either before or after you leave so that you won’t need to be financially dependent on the abuser.

·         Getting a protective order can be an important part of a safety plan when preparing to leave. Even if you get a protective order, you should still take other safety planning steps to keep yourself and your children safe. A legal protective order is not always enough to keep you safe. Locate your state in our Know the Laws section to find out more information about getting a protective order.

·         Leave when the abuser will least expect it. This will give you more time to get away before the abuser realizes that you are gone.

·         If you have time to call the police before leaving, you can ask the police to escort you out of the house as you leave. You can also ask them to be “on call” while you’re leaving, in case you need help.





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Taking your children with you

·         If you plan on taking your children with you when you leave, it is generally best to talk to a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence and custody issues beforehand to make sure that you are not in danger of violating any court custody order you may have or any criminal parental kidnapping laws. This is especially true if you want to leave the state with the children. Read more about this under the Parental Kidnapping section of our website and/or go to our Finding a Lawyer page for a list of free and paid legal services.

·         If you are considering leaving without your children, please talk to a lawyer who specializes in custody before doing this. Leaving your children with an abuser may negatively affect your chances of getting custody of them in court later on. Go to our Finding a Lawyer page for a list of free and paid legal services.


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After you’ve left

If you are fleeing to a confidential location and you fear that the abuser will come look for you, you might want to create a false trail AFTER you leave.

·         You could call motels, real estate agencies, schools etc. in a town at least six hours away from where you plan to go.

·         Ask them questions that will require them to call you back. Give them your old phone number (the number at the home you shared with the abuser, not the number to the place you are going).

However, do NOT make these phone calls before you leave. If anyone calls you back while you are still with the abuser, or if the abuser is able to check your phone to see what numbers you have called, the abuser would be tipped off that you are preparing to leave, which could put you in great danger.

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Retrieved from: 

About WomensLaw.org |Support Us |Privacy Policy |Terms and Conditions |What’s New On This Site
© 2008 National Network to End Domestic Violence, Inc. All rights reserved.



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What Should I Do if I am Attacked, Slapped, Punched, or if my Child is?

What should I do if I am attacked, slapped, punched, or if my child is?

Call 911, don’t talk yourself out of it saying you don’t want to hurt your husband, wife, or partner, ruin his reputation, or embarrass your children! If you are scared, trust yourself!  Leave, protect yourself and your children!


Hi, this is Helen talking. If you feel you or your children are in danger, leave the house if you can, and go to a neighbor’s or a friends or family members and call the police. If needed scream, take your children and run, whatever it takes to be safe.

When someone is out of control, angry, is not the time to try to reason with them, just leave if you can. Think about it ahead of time if possible, like right now.
 What if…
You got yourself one of those remote car starters that had an alarm on it! They make your car horn honk, the lights flash, and a loud alarm sound. It will surely make someone call the police. If it costs too much for you, try to find a way to raise or borrow the money—your own and your child’s life just might depend on it! Dealerships can order them.

Don’t hesitate, just grab your kids and leave. Don’t talk, you can explain later. Think how to be safe. Shelters and those kinds of  places will help you rebuild your life. Better to have a life, than your child’s Wii system, they’ll be sad, but alive!

If you have no car, or can’t ever afford the remote key fob to set off an alarm, there are many less expensive things out there. There are stun guns, pepper gels sprays, steel batons, back up cell phones for when he grabs and destroys yours, and even personal alarms you can carry or wear. There are gadgets that hang around your neck and are alarms, easy to set off. You  can go to the library and do a search, search Google or Yahoo for “Self Protection”.  One  web address I found where you can order self protection items is http://www.tbotech.com When you make a purchase, consider  having them sent somewhere else so that your husband/wife won’t know you ordered them. Once they come however, you must keep them with you at all times, on you, or within reach.







From the Heart of a Southern Woman

 An Introduction to a Series of Blogs

       Hi, I’m Helen  and I’ve been enjoying blogging for almost a year now!  I have so much I want to write about, that I couldn’t choose just one area.. I understand that one of the most important things for a successful blogger to do, is to build a sense of community. Well, I’d love that! I am blessed to live in a wonderful neighborhood, middle class, diverse population, with myriad ages and skills! We are a great little community! Professionally I used to be a master’s level psychologist, and in that capacity I had the opportunity to work with a lot of families and groups struggling with very stressful issues. I’m no stranger to that struggle in my own life either. But group therapy is one of the neatest things I’ve ever had the honor to be a part of or conduct. In group, a community builds very quickly. so perhaps doing that for 20 years makes me realize how important and wonderful it is. Hopefully you will enjoy what you read here, or learn from it, or just agree to disagree! Anyway, I hope you will come back and suggest that some of your friends look me up. I look forward to your comments and hope we can begin a good forum.
        Because I’m hoping for a diverse group of readers,  I intend to write about several different subject matters, in hopes of posting something you might be interested in. But I will try to return to each topic often enough for you to realize the continuity. If you have topics you want me to include, or think would be helpful, I would love to hear your suggestions.   The first couple of blog entries will talk about the joys of my own neighborhood.  Along with that, I’ll begin to introduce you to my Red Hat Society group- the Royal Red Divas. I have the total joy of serving as Queen of this group!   You have to laugh just seeing us all dressed in our regalia!   Next I want to blog about abuse and abusers– what happens when you grow up in an abusive family, as I did. Domestic Violence awareness month is coming up, and I want to talk about it!   Other subjects I’d like to share are my thoughts on  gardening; disabilities;  prayer, angels, and blessings.  . Hope you have a great day and let me hear from you. Helen