Survival Skills & Strategies

Rihanna and Chris Brown

“Why don’t you just leave?” It sounds so simple. Pack up your bags and go.

Oprah introduced me to When Men Batter Women: New Insights into Ending Abusive Relationshipsby Neil Jacobson and John Gottman. It is a must read book for anyone deciding whether to stay or leave.

Why? Professors Jacobson and Gottman discovered there are two types of abusers: “pit bulls” and “cobras.” These descriptions are brilliant. A pit bull can’t and won’t let go. A cobra will strike to kill when it feels threatened. These same characteristics are found in abusive people.

The domestic violence paradigm and system deals quite effectively with cobra abusers.  But, people attempting to leave a pit bull abuser frequently find themselves on their own to survive as best they can.

A pit bull is the person who decides, “if I can’t have her/him, no one can.” These are the abusers who commit murder/suicide. When the pit bull realizes the relationship is indeed over, the object of their “affection” is in mortal danger.

How do you know the difference?

Remembering Crystal: Life’s Lessons on Escaping the Abuse of a Powerful Man

  • Lesson One: Recognize “the Look”
  • Lesson Two: Find a Safe Hideout
  • Lesson Three: Take Threats Seriously
  • Lesson Four: Make Friends with His Enemies
  • Lesson Five: Accept that Freedom Isn’t Free
  • Lesson Six: Perceive the Welfare System as Your Angel Investor
  • Lesson Seven: Adopt a New York State of Mind
  • Lesson Eight: Dream Big and Have Faith in Your Dreams
  • Lesson Nine: Leverage Your Talents and Professional Expertise
  • Lesson Ten: Break Down the Wall of Silence and Connect with Survivors
  • Lesson Eleven: Pay It Forward

Leaving an Abusive Partner or Spouse: What All Women Need

“Why doesn’t she just leave?”  There’s no question that will infuriate a survivor of domestic violence more than this one.

Most domestic violence murders take place when she leaves.

Women everywhere are less likely to be abused and have more freedom to leave if they have four essential factors in place:  financial self-sufficiency, accountability, forgiveness, and safe havens.

Orders of Protection: A Victim’s Frame of Reference

Should a woman seek an order of protection when she has been abused?  Is it the best course of action to take? Or should she not pursue an order and just call the police as needed?  To read Rita Anita Linger’s guest column, click here.

My Protection Circle

We all need “protection circles” ~ to be surrounded by people who are there for us ~ to celebrate the good times and to weather stormy seas.

Yet, by definition, domestic violence is isolating.  We can become alienated from those who were once dear to us because we are ashamed about what’s happening behind closed doors or because a controlling person in our lives demands we cut our ties or is hyper-critical of our friends, family, or colleagues.

madea Sense of Humor: Get Yourself Some Madea Going On!

You may have seen Tyler Perry’s movies.  You probably don’t know that his comedy comes from his efforts to lift himself up from where you are right now.  Madea was his alter-ego who helped him survive, thrive, find joy, and become outrageously wealthy.

Windmills of Our Minds: Faith or Fear?

Windmill ©2009 Carole MayInstinctively, we react to threats to our safety with a fight or flight response.  It ramps up our adrenaline and sends us into a temporary high.

It can, at times, help us to literally move mountains to remove ourselves and those we love from peril.

For those of us who have experienced abuse, it can also ruin our health.  We can end up with health concerns like complex PTSD (C-PTSD), auto-immune disororders, and cardio-vascular problems.

Bullying: Oprah’s Call to Protect Kids

We can all learn from Oprah’s advice to kids and their parents today about how to deal with bullies and child molesters.

This is what Oprah wants you to know:

  • 90% of child molesters know their victims.
  • Molesters don’t choose their victims at random.
  • Molesters manipulate their victims to make it feel good.
  • If you have experienced incest or sexual molestation, tell someone.

3 responses to “Survival Skills & Strategies

  1. I was sure of the best way to reach you. So I’m posting here. I’m writing you to see if you have interest in covering in your blog the launch of the country’s very first searchable online database of domestic violence agencies. It’s called and includes roughly all 3000 of the agencies in the US.

    When someone visits, in a matter of seconds – from a desktop, smartphone or tablet – that person can find help closest to them based on their location, language and service preferences.

    This release ( talks about the important strategic issues this new free non-profit service resolves. Succinctly put, finding help online has been too difficult up until now. The service is offered as a partnership between National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and my family’s charity Theresa’s Fund.

    With the recent news about the NFL getting tough on abusive players and October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, and with 25% of women having experienced domestic violence, making your readers aware of this breakthrough service is both timely and potentially life-saving.

    Chris McMurry
    Director, Theresa’s Fund

  2. Mr. McMurry,

    You may not be aware that I have essentially retired. I maintain this site because it has been helpful to many abuse survivors. You should know that I’m not a fan of the NCADV or our nation’s shelter system because they refused to protect me from the abuse of a high-ranking judge. The NCADV has been eclipsed by the National Network to End DV (NNEDV) for good reasons.

    Most shelters are well-equipped to deal with “Cobra” abusers, but they don’t have a clue how to protect a woman involved with a “Pit Bull” abuser ~ the guys who kill when they realize she’s serious about leaving ~ they can’t let go ~ the guys who stalk a woman after she has left him.

    I am sharing this with you because I get the sense that you are a very well-intentioned person who wants to do what he can to help protect women. I applaud you. Therefore, I will invite you or your publicist to write a guest column for my blog to promote the launch of your new service. After it is posted, I will share it with my DV network on Facebook. Further, if you have developed a logo, I will feature it prominently with a hot link to your site. This last offer will likely have the most everegreen benefit for women fleeing abuse because it will not require any search of my site.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Anne Caroline

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