Sanctuary and Serenity

Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

“Sometimes Even to Live is an Act of Courage.”

Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1976).

What is Domestic Violence?

Abusive situations:

No one has the right to abuse another person.  If you find yourself in a situation where you do not feel safe, there are steps you can take, and help you can receive!


Domestic violence is an escalating pattern of abuse in which one partner in a relationship controls the other through force, intimidation, or implied/threats of force.  Violence refers to physical, sexual, mental/emotional, economic, and verbal abuse/assault.

Symptoms of Assault:

* Are you scared of your partner’s temper and do you change your behaviour so you won’t make him upset or angry?
* Do you see your family and friends less and less since you met your partner?
* Have you lost a job due to your partner?
* Do you have to ask permission to do things?
* Are you afraid of expressing your opinion or of telling your partner what your needs are?
* Have you been forced to have sex against your will?
* Do you do what you are told, just to avoid trouble?
* Has your partner humiliated you in front of other people?
* Have you been hit, slapped, shoved, locked up, tied up, burnt, threatened, kicked, bitten, punched, choked by your partner?  Has your partner ever threatened to use a weapon against you?
* Have your children ever been hurt or threatened by your partner?
* When something happens, does your partner promise never to do it again?

Everyone has the right to live in a home free from violence and abuse!  If any of these things are happening to you, you might be the victim of domestic abuse.  Domestic abuse seldom gets better by itself.  In most cases, it escalates until someone gets hurt or killed.  You should seek help immediately, and have a safety plan…tell someone…get counseling!

If You Decide to Stay:

If you are not at the point where you are ready to leave, you should have a safety plan!

Here are some suggestions to help ensure your safety in an emergency situation:

* Keep a small bag hidden in a car, or at family or friends, containing a change of clothes for you and your children.
* Keep a spare set of keys, and some money hidden somewhere safe.
* Make copies of all important documents.
* Extra medications you and your children might need.
* Emergency phone numbers…police, battered women’s hotlines and shelters, friends, family, 12-step sponsor, etc.
* You might want to ensure you do not provoke the situation (This does not mean you deserve the abuse, it means that sometimes we fight back, or respond to the abuser, which may cause the situation to escalate.)
* Pre-arrange a safe place to stay, away from the situation.
* Ask the police what your options are.

Other Preparations Prior to Leaving:

* Open a savings account and/or credit card in your name to establish or increase your independence.
* Obtain a Protective Order.  Keep it with you at all times, inform co-workers, friends, and neighbors.
* Call the police immediately if the abuser breaks the Order.
* Devise a code word to use with children, family, friends, and neighbors for when you need the police.
* Ask “safe” neighbors to call police if they hear a disturbance from your home.
* Practice getting out of your home safely!
* Review your safety plan as often as is possible.

Safety During an Explosive Situation:

* If an argument is unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you have access to an exit.
* Stay out of rooms where weapons might be available…bathroom, kitchen, bedroom.
* Get out of your home as safely as possible.
* Use your instincts and judgment.  If the situation is very dangerous, you might have to consider giving the offender what they want, to calm them.  You have the right to protect yourself, and your children.

Always remember:

* NO ONE deserves to be hit or threatened.
* Leaving your abuser if the most dangerous time.
* You and your children deserve to be safe!!!

No one knows your situation like you do…protect yourself.  First, and foremost, your safety and that of any children.  No one can tell you that you must leave a situation, or a relationship that is unhealthy.  You must make this decision for you.  But you can find ways to protect yourself and those you love.  We all deserve respect…from ourselves as well as from others.  We all have the right to be safe.  Look after yourself, be safe.

Goddess grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

“I pray to accept with a serene mind, the things I cannot change, knowing it is futile to be obstinate about the inevitable.  I pray to be resolute, to take action in things that must be changed.”

When I say the Serenity Prayer, over and over again, I could fall into the habit of merely parroting the words without being aware of their meaning.  This would blunt one of my most useful tools.  If I think of the meaning of each phrase as I say it, my understanding will grow and along with it my capability to realize the difference between what I can change, and what I cannot.
The prayer states first that there are elements in my life which I have no power to change; my serenity depends upon my accepting them.  The more I fight them, the more they will torment me.  “Courage to change the things I can” gives me unlimited freedom to work on those elements which are my concern.
The Serenity Prayer suggests that I ask “for courage to change the things I can.”  The word is things, not people.  True, there is much room for improvement in my life, but it can come only from changing my own attitudes and actions for the better.
“In every problem, great and small, the Serenity Prayer will work for me if I keep aware of its meaning every time I say it.”
~One Day At A Time in Al-Anon.

~ I took the liberty of making *God* interchangeable with *Goddess*…I think the meaning is still relevant!~

The Dating Women’s Bill of Rights.
( I like to think of it as the *peoples* bill of rights…some basic rights, I never knew I even had in life…)
  1. I have the right to trust myself above all others.
  2. I have the right to decent treatment by anyone I date.
  3. I have the right to refuse to date anyone.
  4. I have the right to be safe on a date.
  5. I have the right to stop blaming myself for dating abuse.
  6. I have the right to be assertive on a date.
  7. I have the right to pay my own way on a date.
  8. I have the right to mutually consenting and pleasurable sex.
  9. I have the right to refuse to have sex.
  10. I have the right to be respected as a person.
  11. I have the right to disagree with my date.
  12. I have the right to say no.
  13. I have the right to get angry.
  14. I have the right to fulfill myself with or without a man in my life.
  15. I have the right to know who I am.
  16. I have the right to know who I am dating.
  17. I have the right to determine the criteria concerning who I will date.
  18. I have the right to use my own transportation on a date.
  19. I have the right to leave any dating situation my instincts tell me to.
  20. I have the right to prosecute for battery and sexual abuse.
  21. I have the right to emotional support and understanding from others.
  22. I have the right to a healthy dating relationship.
  23. I have the right to control my own destiny.
  24. I have the right to be selfish and get the good things I want from a relationship.
  25. I have the right to be loved.
  26. I have the right to be cared about.
  27. I have the right to intimacy.
  28. I have the right to high self-esteem.

I have the right to trust myself above all others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~By Claudette McShane~


1.  telling all

2.  talking at an intimate level at the first meeting

3.  falling in love with a new acquaintance

4.  falling in love with anyone who reaches out

5.  being overwhelmed by a person -(preoccupied)

6.  acting on the first sexual impulse

7.  being sexual for your partner, not yourself

8.  going against personal values or rights to please others

9.  not noticing when someone else displays appropriate boundaries

10. not noticing when someone invades your boundaries

11.  accepting food, gift, touch or sex that you do not want

12.  touching a person without asking

13.  letting others direct your life

14.  letting others describe your reality

15.  letting others define you

16.  believing others can anticipate your needs

17.  expecting others to fill your needs automatically

18. falling apart so someone will take care of you

19.  self abuse

20.  sexual and physical abuse

21.  food and chemical abuse

One of the things we do automatically (and take for granted) is breathe.  Think what would happen if we stopped.  Now think about breathing deeply.  Most of us breathe very shallowly, forgetting that our whole body needs to take in air.
This deep-breathing technique is a literal lifesaver.  There are three parts to it.  First, fill up your belly with a big breath and push out your navel.  Now, still holding your breath, breathe into your mid-section, and then up into your chest.  Hold your breath as long as you can, remembering to drop your shoulders in the process.  Now gradually exhale and reverse the order – begin with the chest then exhale down and out through the belly.  Repeat five times.
If done on a regular basis, this breathing exercise triggers an instant relaxation response.  It also gives us a greater ability to enjoy life.  It is a lifesaver when you are in a panic or are about to have an anger attack.  I highly recommend it!

~Angela Jackson, Celebrating Anger.

This serves much the same purpose as “beat the pillow”.  However, as the figure comes back to you, you can work up an anger response and really let your fists and body go!
~Angela Jackson – Celebrating Anger

Opera is one of those quick energy changers, and it’s fun.  You need to do it before you think about it or else you won’t do it.  All it entails is that you start singing about your frustrations in operatic fashion.  You don’t have to have a good voice; a raspy screech will do just fine.  The intent is simply to sing out your anger.  After you sing the first two lines you will undoubtedly start to laugh, and so will everyone else.

~Angela Jackson, Celebrating Anger.

What would we do without it?  Humour is a definite godsend.  We need to be mindful to use humour on ourselves, not to ridicule others or point out how funny they look.
We human beings are ridiculous in our antics.  If you’ve ever spent any time people-watching you know how funny we are.  Take this opportunity to be a humour sleuth and find out what is funny in the situation you’re angry about.  Think of the ridiculous.  Ask yourself, “If I was to look back at this incident in 10 years, what would I find funny about it?”  (Don’t wait 10 years, find it now!)  Next go to the mirror, look at yourself, and see how funny you are.  Find just one funny thing about yourself.  Don’t wait until later to laugh; do it now!  Humour keeps you young.  It changes the energy in any situation and it allows you to gain perspective.  Laughter is the shortest distance between friends, so why not be a friend to yourself and laugh your troubles away?

~Angela Jackson, Celebrating Anger.

Exercise is very important in anger management.  Exercise keeps our bodies in balance.  It allows us to release toxins and physical strain.  It is also good for our hearts, our muscle tone, our self-esteem, and our all-around body maintenance.
If you are a Type A personality, an “on-the-go person,” try doing something relaxing, like yoga or swimming, to give your body the balance it needs.  Alternate this with your squash or tennis games.  Yoga means “union” and is especially good for releasing stress.  Type A’s are generally driven by tension, and they need massage and more flowing activities to create body harmony.
If you are a Type B personality, a more easy-going personality, you could take on more vigorous sports.  If you have the knees for it, go for a daily jog or a brisk walk.  Join a local sports group.  You don’t have to be a professional.  Most high schools host evening classes in everything from volleyball to hockey.  Racquet sports would be fine for you, as would aerobic exercise.  Churning up your energy is the key for you.
Walking is wonderful for everone.  All you need is a good pair of shoes and some commitment – daily exercise is one of the best preventative anger tools around.

~Angela Jackson, Celebrating Anger.

Set goals when you have problems.  Write out your problem list and turn each one into a goal.  Examples…
I feel hostile at Jim.
Improve relationship with Jim.
I am nervous around my boss.
Communicate more clearly with my boss.
I feel stressed.
Take regular de-stress breaks.
The more you focus on goal solutions, the less you will live in the problems, and the more your life will reflect this choice.

~Angela Jackson, Celebrating Anger.

A mistake is a chance to take it again.  At one time I worked in the film business.  We made many “takes” on each film.  I learned a valuable lesson.  A mis-take is simply a missed communication, a misinterpretation.  It’s an opportunity to “take it again.”  What matters is finding the gift in the problem.  When you notice yourself or someone else making a mistake, then take it again.  Find the gift.  Stretch your mind.  Increase your tolerance.  Allow yourself to enjoy mis-takes.  Make them often.  Use them to learn about life, and welcome them with warmth.

~Angela Jackson, Celebrating Anger.

Sing loudly when you’re alone.

Take singing lessons: opera, jazz, or blues – anything where you have to let out your voice.

Register in a martial arts class.

Express your feelings, especially the angry ones with which you don’t feel comfortable.

Do the exercises listed under Anger Tools…

Buy some crayons and paper.  Choose the colour that represents anger to you and let go on paper.

By using some form of instant intervention, you begin to process your anger, so it doesn’t stay trapped inside your body where it can hurt you.  Don’t think that because you don’t feel anger you don’t have it.  I assure you this is not the case.  We all do.  If you have hidden your feelings from yourself, perhaps because it hasn’t felt safe to express them; it doesn’t mean you don’t have them.
Tell your subconscious mind that it’s okay to let your feelings out, that they won’t kill or maim you or anyone else.
Do just one anger-acknowledging exercise today, and notice how good you feel.  Keep track of this in a journal.  Use the anger activities as an ongoing anger workbook.  Make sure you chart your progress.  Remember, anger is a human emotion – one we all share.
If you can’t feel your anger for the moment, that’s fine.  Just acknowledge that you have it somewhere.  Maybe it’s lodged in your elbow or your knee – the one that always hurts.  Think of your aches and pains.  Do you have a pain in your shoulder?  Do you feel this pain in particular moments or with certain people?  Are there people in your life that “give you a pain in the neck?”

Listen to your body.

Make a physical inventory of your body.  List any places that cause you discomfort or pain.  Then ask each place what the pain is about.  Write the answers in a notebook or journal.
Pay attention to your body.  Listen to it.  Get help with your body needs.  Tune into your inner voice.  Ask yourself what your body needs, and believe what it has to say.  You are your own best counsel, and it is important to follow your own good advice.  Remember the wisdom of the ancient Chinese saying:  “To know and to not do, is not to know!”
I’m not advocating that we spend our lives navel-gazing.  Nor am I saying that it is wrong to look after people, to care for and to give unto others.  We all need to give and receive.  Our very future as individuals and as a society depends on this kind of exchange.
I am suggesting that we begin our charity at home with ourselves.  We need to give to ourselves before we can give to anyone else.  Otherwise we will walk around wounded, looking for someone to help or heal us, believing that if we do enough good deeds, if we are kind enough to others, eventually our turn will come, and we’ll get back what we give out.  If this is what we expect, then the reality that people often cannot or will not give back can easily lead us to anger.
The truest form of giving, and the one least likely to backfire, is giving without expectation.  We can only do that when we have enough self-nurturing to give freely, so that we don’t need or expect anything back.
It is difficult to give to ourselves.  That’s why we don’t do it.  Many of us feel that we are not deserving, that we are not good enough.  We find it much easier to give to others.  So if you are a giver, start giving to yourself.
Feed yourself pleasure.
  • Take a walk.
  • Go to a nearby park and use the swings.
  • Read that book you’ve been longing for.
  • Call up a friend that makes you happy.
  • Play basketball or volleyball.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Learn how to _______________.  (Fill in the blank with something you ‘ve always wanted to learn.)
  • Take time for relaxation exercises.
  • Do something just for you every single day and notice how good you begin to feel.

  • Checklist for Hidden Anger. If we have a national fault, it is hiding our anger from ourselves. Here is a checklist to help you determine if you are hiding your anger from yourself. Any of these is usually a sign of hidden, unexpressed anger

    1. Procrastination in the completion of imposed tasks

    2. Perpetual or habitual lateness.

    3. A liking for sadistic or ironic humor.

    4. Sarcasm, cynicism, or flippancy in conversation.

    5. Over-politeness, constant cheerfulness, attitude of “grin and bear it”.

    6. Frequent sighing.

    7. Smiling while hurting.

    8. Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams.

    9. Over-controlled, monotone speaking voice.

    10. Difficulty in getting to sleep or in sleeping through the night.

    11. Boredom, apathy, loss of interest in things you are usually enthusiastic about.

    12. Slowing down of movements.

    13. Getting tired more easily than usual.

    14. Excessive irritability over trifles.

    15. Getting drowsy at inappropriate times.

    16. Sleeping more than usual.

    17. Waking up tired rather than rested or refreshed.

    18. Clenched jaws—especially while sleeping.

    19. Facial tics, spasmodic foot movements, habitual fist clenching and similar repeated physical acts done unintentionally or unaware.

    20. Grinding of the teeth—especially while sleeping.

    21. Chronically stiff or sore neck.

    22. Chronic depression—extended periods of feeling down for no reason.

    23. Stomach ulcers.

    This is not about rage. Rage is anger out of control and taking over your whole being. This is about the feelings we call “irritation”, “annoyance”, “getting mad”, etc. All of these negative feelings share one thing in common: they are considered undesirable at best, sinful or destructive at worst. We are taught to avoid them—to avoid having them if possible (it isn’t) but certainly to avoid expressing them. Unfortunately, many people go overboard in controlling negative feelings; they control not only their expression , but their awareness of them too.

    Because you are unaware of being angry does not mean that you are not angry. It is the anger you are unaware of which can do the most damage to you and to your relationships with other people, since it does get expressed, but in inappropriate ways. Freud once likened anger to the smoke in an old-fashioned wood-burning stove. The normal avenue for discharge of the smoke is up the chimney; if the normal avenue is blocked, the smoke will leak out of the stove in unintended ways—around the door, through the grates, etc.—choking everyone in the room. If all avenues of escape are blocked, the fire goes out and the stove ceases to function.  Likewise the normal (human) expression of anger is gross physical movement and/or loud vocalization; watch a red-faced hungry infant sometime. By age five or so we are taught that such expressions are unacceptable to others and lead to undesirable consequences such as being beaten or having affection withheld.

    We learn to “be nice” which means (among other things) hiding bad feelings. By adulthood even verbal expression is curtailed, since a civilized person is expected to be “civil.” Thus, expression is stifled, and to protect ourselves from the unbearable burden of continually unexpressed “bad” feelings, we go to the next step and convince ourselves that we are not angry, even when we are. Such self-deception is seldom completely successful, however, and the blocked anger “leaks out” in inappropriate ways, some of which are previously listed.

    The items in the list are all danger signals that negative feelings are being bottled up inside. It is true that each of them can have causes other than anger (procrastination, for example, can be due to an unreasonable fear of failure), but the presence of any of them is reason enough for you to look within yourself for buried resentments.  If you are human, you will find some. If you are fortunate, you will find few, since you have learned effective ways of discharging them. If you are like most of us, you will need to unlearn old habits before you can learn new ways of handling “bad” feelings—ways which are constructive rather than destructive.

    Getting rid of a lifetime accumulation of buried resentments is a major task which is one of the goals of psychotherapy.  Whether such a process is necessary for you should be decided in consultation with a qualified professional person. our immediate concern in this paper is to provide you with some techniques which will help you stop adding to the pile, whatever its existing depth.

    The process of dealing with negative feelings can be divided into three parts for purposes of discussion, although the living of it is all of a piece. The parts are:

    1. Recognition of the feelings.

    2. Owning it—acknowledging that it is yours.

    3. Discharging it—acting on it in some way.

    RECOGNITION: Everybody has her own body signals indicating current, on-the-spot anger. Look for yours: friends and relatives might be helpful, since they may be aware of your irritation before you are, and may be able to tell you how they can tell when you are upset. Some common signals are: clamming up; blushing; shortening of breath; drumming with fingers; foot tapping; shaking or twisting; laughing when nothing amusing is happening; patting or stroking the back of the head; clenching jaws or fist; tucking a thumb inside a fist; yawning or getting drowsy; suddenly refusing eye contact with another person; fidgeting; apologizing when none is asked for; a pain in the neck, gut, or back; headaches; a rise in voice pitch. The list is interminable; try to find out what your signals are.

    If you find yourself depressed or blue and don’t know why, think back over the past twenty-four hours and try to figure out who did something to anger you. (Depression is usually the result of repressed anger). Forget that you are a nice person and imagine yourself to be the touchiest, most unreasonable, childish person on the earth. review your day and look for an incident where this imaginary person might have gotten angry. When you find the incident ask yourself why you didn’t get angry. Chances are you did and didn’t know it.

    Remember what you actually did and said in that situation; try to “relive it”; you may learn some of your own internal anger signals.

    OWNING IT: The anger is yours. The other person may have said or done something that punched your anger button, but the anger is yours, and so are the feelings it triggers. You cannot make someone else responsible for your own feelings. Blaming does not help. Nothing the other person does will help, unless it is in response to something you do.

    Accepting anger as your own is easier if you discard the idea that feelings need to be justified. They don’t—and frequently cannot be. “Should” and “feel” are two words which do not belong together. It is senseless to say that someone” should feel” some way. Feelings are just there in the same way your skin, muscles and vital organs are just there. In fact it is downright harmful to worry about what your feelings “should be”. Knowing what your feelings are is the best start to deciding the best thing to do.

    DISCHARGING IT: First, foremost, and always, don’t hide it. You’ll probably not be successful anyway.  Anger demands expression. If you have recognized it and owned it, then you will have a choice of when, where and how you may express it. Society and your own safety forbid violence. Friendships and other interpersonal relationships (husband/wife, employer/employee) make explosive verbal expression ultimately self defeating. Just saying, “That makes me angry,” or “I do not like it when—” may not be as satisfying as bashing someone, but it is far more satisfying than saying and doing nothing. There are in reality a few situation in which it is in your best interest to delay expression, but none in which you can afford to delay recognition or owning. —the New York Adult Children of Alcoholics. 21.

    ~A handout from Jerry’s group…Big Thank Yous to Jerry!!