These are the stories of courage, hope and inspiration. Today, this Sunday, a story which is meant to bring about hope in one of the toughest of circumstances.
It’s serious, it’s wrong, it’s sick, it’s demoralizing and it needs to stop.
This week it’s about finding a way to end one of society’s most harrowing realities. Being a husband and the father of two daughters I can understand the importance of getting this message out there.
Everyone has a story. This Sunday the hope is that one woman’s story will save a life.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (78): Silence Is Not An Option
The message is simple and has been since the beginning of time: never hit a woman.
Pamela Anne knows this first-hand, at the hands of someone she loved. It’s usually the way it happens. Love – life’s most powerful emotion can be turned against you in a vicious, unrelenting cycle of power, control, abuse and pain.
Pam, a former federal investigator, says she could never have imagined she would end up sharing a story like this one. During the interview it was painful to hear her tell it, to recount any of the details, the long pauses between thoughts, the fear and sadness in her voice was palpable. It’s what happens when you become a victim.
For Pam it began on a dating website. She says she started a relationship with two men she met online. As time went on Pam finally made a decision: “I was dating them both seriously”, she says. “One I decided to marry. I chose one over the other. The one I chose turned out to be the nightmare of my life.”
Pam says the man she chose to spend the rest of her life with was a lot like her father, tough. He had a beautiful home on the water, a boat and his own business. She says she was attracted to the power, the control this man could wield with almost anyone he came in contact with, especially the men who worked with him in his business… a landscaping, hardscaping business which required tough, physical labor. Pam’s husband talked tough, acted tough and ran a tight ship. But what most attracted Pam to her man, shortly came back to haunt her.
The signs started early and it was always about control. Pam says her husband didn’t like the fact that her job as an investigator kept her working after-hours, so he asked her to quit and join his business. She did and she quickly noticed how that one move meant a huge change. “I worked for him, I was the office manager”, says Pam. “I quit my job as a federal investigator to work for him. He asked me to quit my job. That’s when I realized I lost my control and he took it over.”
Pam says it started with verbal abuse and demands: “He didn’t like what I wore, he didn’t like the jewelry I had. If I was out with him I had to look better than a cocktail waitress in Atlantic City. I had to look good on his arm. But I’m a Bucks County (Pennsylvania) girl, I grew up a tomboy, so I didn’t know what all this was about.”
What it was all about was a decade of abuse. From a black-eye Pam says she received on her honeymoon to the day she finally escaped, most of her time together with this man was one of living under powerful control. “We were together ten years. There was abuse about 75 percent of the time. When his business went south, when people couldn’t afford to do things and use his services, and he couldn’t control his men, he took things out on the people he loved.”
She continues: “He used to lock me up in bedrooms and lock me up in closets. He had so much money in a cash business, but he wouldn’t give me money to live. When I took money for food and groceries I would get beat up. Every day I would wake up wanting something to do and he would decide when I could, or could not go into the office. I was running the business as office manager, but he would decide when I could work. I never knew what day he would feel good or what day he didn’t feel good. Did we have a week of good things? Or did I have a black eye or still recovering from a black eye. That’s the way it worked. I was out on a fishing boat, my husband was an expert fisherman. He would take me out fishing and then when he got angry he would throw my purse overboard and anything I had to communicate with my friends and family.”
“After every event, after everything he did to me I wouldn’t go to work, but he would call me by 10am that day. He’d say, ‘Honey I love you, I want to be with you. It’s gonna work. I’ll get help.’ It doesn’t work like that, it never worked like that and that’s what these women (those being abused) need to know, it doesn’t work.”
“The worst attack I had from my ex was during Hurricane Sandy when he had me trapped in our home at the shore. We had a special cabinet in our bathroom with gauze, band aids, neosporin, etc, just for my injuries. I suffered black eyes, broken ribs, lacerated eardrums, had my phone broken, jewelry stolen, car keys stolen… all so much a pattern of the abuse. I was sexually assaulted. I know as husband and wife we can think we can say it like that. But it’s true. When we say no, it’s no.”
To hear Pam describe the details of her time with this man, it’s almost too incredible to believe, unless you live in that world. “I will tell you what keeps us around”, says Pam. “The great personality of the abuser. If I was to bring you into a bar and sit you with my girlfriends and introduce you to him you would say he was awesome. It’s powerful what they have on you. They absolutely make you believe that you are sh*t and you have nowhere to go without them. I took my whole life and put it in his hands.”
Divorced in April of 2014, Pam is now on a mission to help these women of domestic violence to find a way out, or to notice the signs and stop it before it starts. She also says she wants to be there for the women who call police and for the police to listen to them. Pam says every time she called the police, her husband would say she pushed him. It’s a he said-she said. Pam says she wants law enforcement to take it seriously when it comes to domestic violence, she says there is a lack of trust because too many police officers do nothing, or just don’t know what to do. She says there needs to be trust developed so they can take action on the first call, not the 10th.
But there’s so much more. In Pam’s own words from an e-mail she sent to me following our initial conversation:
“It is clearly the choice of the victim to leave. When that choice is made, I’m encouraging women to prepare for the day. Take pictures of all injuries to remind yourself of what happened that day – and send them to friends and family you trust. Obtain a support network. Begin to hoard money. When you do leave, typically after a significant event and you are done, you CAN’T look back!”
“Get help… understand, psychologically, this was not your fault. Talk about it – to anyone you trust. Let people help you. This is key!! Don’t attempt to do this without anyone else’s knowledge. Let those around you help you. This is not a time to feel embarrassed. I can’t stress how important it is for a person who knows of anyone they think might be in a domestic violence to report it. OUR GOAL IS TO SAVE LIVES!”
Pam is sharing her story and taking action to do just this…to save lives. She recently spoke to about 4,000 people at a concert in Pennsylvania dedicated to Domestic Violence Victims. She says she had so many people coming up to her after sharing their own personal experiences. She knows this is widespread. It’s a problem in all facets of society from the high-profile cases in entertainment, professional sports, to the unknown or ignored cases of abuse in your own neighborhood.
Pam is doing more speaking engagements and very recently launched a Facebook Page: Silence in Domestic Violence is Not An Option (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Silence-in-Domestic-Violence-is-Not-an-Option/885292821525921) The page has had more than 12,000 hits and 300 people actively engaged in just one week.
Pam says breaking the silence and making people aware is the first wave of action: “Giving the victim HOPE that their life will be far better once they leave the situation may not be easy at first but the outcome is far better than what it will be if he/she stays. Domestic violence only gets worse with time never better.”
Pam wants this interview, this story and this blog to help get the word out there and let the victims and survivors know they are not alone.
And to understand silence in domestic violence is NOT an option.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time
Mark Brodinsky: Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Speech Writer, Speaker, Emmy Winner, Field Sales Leader: USHEALTH Advisors (http://www.prweb.com/releases/markbrodinsky/072015/prweb12862708.htm)
Author: The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
The Sunday Series is now a podcast on iTunes: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/sunday-series-courage-inspiration/id1028611459)
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