Life is Fragile


While remnants of Hurricane Irma bring a rainy and windy day to South Carolina. I think back to 2001. That year on this date my 92 year old grandfather had successful surgery to remove a sub dermal hematoma (blood cot) from his brain. While sitting in his hospital room my hubby & I watched in horror the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, & potentially the White House.
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I also thought about one of my oldest friendships and it being my sister-friend’s birthday. Her special day was forever changed. This happens when hideous things occur on any special day but September 11, 2001 was not a normal day.
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Also on that day was my mom’s last day working at O’Hare airport. She left work and stopped at my grandmother’s to take a nap as usual. She awoke to a world changed. Her former co-workers wouldn’t return back to work for weeks and then it was a whole different world.
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Life can change in an instant. It can be by the hands of humans or by natural disasters. Today I think of the number of hurricanes and earthquakes and think some of it is due to human’s arrogance. We all need to respect the planet because she is speaking loudly & boldly. May all who read this remember to hug & tell someone you love them today. Tomorrow is never promised.
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My Spiritual Journey


Yesterday, was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season for Christians worldwide.  Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran and various other denominations have a service where priest or pastors impose ashes in a form of a cross on parishioner’s foreheads.  The imposition of ashes mean many things but personally to me it is a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Just in December Christians celebrated the birth of Christ.  And each year depending upon when Easter Sunday is determined we begin the celebration of Lent as early as February.  Quite simply Easter Sunday is determined to be the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the spring equinox.  Yes, I know it had me scratching my head too!

img_8905For me the holiest of times is Easter because it is the reason for which Jesus Christ was born.  That is correct he was born to ultimately die for our sins.  I know it is heady stuff but it is the foundation of the Christian faith.  After a three-year spiritual journey, I chose to convert to Lutheranism and joined a Lutheran church last October.  This was after much soul searching and attending various churches with my husband, friends and solo.  Ultimately what lead me to the Lutheran faith was their doctrine which follows my beliefs.

I will not get into the details but I will say that each of us had to have our own faith walk.  I know many people of varying faiths.  Those who are even atheists and agnostics.  I know people of Muslim faith, my husband is Catholic and yes I am Protestant and have always been.  I know Methodist and even Buddhist.  Part of what lead me to Lutheran faith is it embraces those who believe otherwise and does not choose to condemn.

Looping back to the point of this post, I feel most serene and focused during the Lenten Season.  It is a time to reflect on the sacrifice that was made for us by Jesus Christ.  I am not a theologian and will not get into a discussion of various faiths and their validity.  I will say for me personally repenting by sacrificing something or like my husband collecting change to give to a charity cleanses our spirit.

In addition to the closeness I feel to God.  I also reflect on the life of my late mother.  She also enjoyed this time of year.  My mom made angel wings for her church’s Easter program and they are still being used some six years later.  When I was a child we enjoyed dying eggs in all fun swirling colors.  And I always received a fun Easter basket. Shopping for a new dress and shiny shoes was an adventure.  My mom died a few days prior to Palm Sunday and I chose to have her funeral service on Good Friday of that year.  It seemed only fitting for a woman who was humble and a servant of God.

Finally, I am looking forward to see where this year’s Lenten journey leads me. I have decided that the book “The Purpose Driven Life” is not something I need to read.  For the last few years I have tried reading, thinking that I would get a big reveal of what my life should be.  But I realize that listening to God and following the direction he pushes me toward, I am living my purpose.  Though I have found a new church home my spiritual journey continues and will do so until my final breath.

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Simple Savings Plan


savings

One of the top three New Year resolutions is to save more money.  Here is a quick and simple way to save well over $1,000 during the year.  You won’t believe how easy it will be just start with $1.00.  Yes, that is correct $1.00 during this the first week of 2017, then next week save an additional $2.00 then the third week add $3.00.  Below is the breakdown and summary of what you will save over a years’ time.

Now get to saving!

Week

Deposit By

Amount Deposited

Total for Year

1 1/6/17 $1.00 $1.00
2 1/13/17 $2.00 $3.00
3 1/20/17 $3.00 $6.00
4 1/27/17 $4.00 $10.00
5 2/3/17 $5.00 $15.00
6 2/10/17 $6.00 $21.00
7 2/17/17 $7.00 $28.00
8 2/24/17 $8.00 $36.00
9 3/3/17 $9.00 $45.00
10 3/10/17 $10.00 $55.00
11 3/17/17 $11.00 $66.00
12 3/24/17 $12.00 $78.00
13 3/31/17 $13.00 $91.00
14 4/7/17 $14.00 $105.00
15 4/14/17 $15.00 $120.00
16 4/21/17 $16.00 $136.00
17 4/28/17 $17.00 $153.00
18 5/5/17 $18.00 $171.00
19 5/12/17 $19.00 $190.00
20 5/19/17 $20.00 $210.00
21 5/26/17 $21.00 $231.00
22 6/2/17 $22.00 $253.00
23 6/9/17 $23.00 $276.00
24 6/16/17 $24.00 $300.00
25 6/23/17 $25.00 $325.00
26 6/30/17 $26.00 $351.00
27 7/7/17 $27.00 $378.00
28 7/14/17 $28.00 $406.00
29 7/21/17 $29.00 $435.00
30 7/28/17 $30.00 $465.00
31 8/4/17 $31.00 $496.00
32 8/11/17 $32.00 $528.00
33 8/18/17 $33.00 $561.00
34 8/25/17 $34.00 $595.00
35 9/1/17 $35.00 $630.00
36 9/8/17 $36.00 $666.00
37 9/15/17 $37.00 $703.00
38 9/22/17 $38.00 $741.00
39 9/29/17 $39.00 $780.00
40 10/6/17 $40.00 $820.00
41 10/13/17 $41.00 $861.00
42 10/20/17 $42.00 $903.00
43 10/27/17 $43.00 $946.00
44 11/3/17 $44.00 $990.00
45 11/10/17 $45.00 $1,035.00
46 11/17/17 $46.00 $1,081.00
47 11/24/17 $47.00 $1,128.00
48 12/1/17 $48.00 $1,176.00
49 12/8/17 $49.00 $1,225.00
50 12/15/17 $50.00 $1,275.00
51 12/22/17 $51.00 $1,326.00
52 12/29/17 $52.00 $1,378.00

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A Library Nerd’s Birthday


Today 50 years ago, I was born.  I was a few weeks early and my mom thought she had indigestion, until her water broke.  I believe from the day and hour in which I was born, until the various dates of my parent’s deaths that I was loved.  My dad wasn’t there for my birth but he was always there for my life.  Birthdays were always special and involved a chocolate marble cake with the most delicious chocolate icing created by his hands.  It is from my parents that I learned to love books and reading.  Our house was always filled with all types of books novels, non-fiction, magazines, comic books, newspapers, if it had words we read it…and hoarded it.

Due to the genetic love of books it is no surprise where I came to write this blog today.  I sit in one of my favorite places.  The United States Library of Congress, specifically in the Main Reading Room.  I have had a library research/reader card for a few years now but it still felt magical to walk through the researchers only and accessed limited hallway.  Taking the reserved elevator and entering into the beautiful and majestic space that is the center of the universe of all U.S. libraries still gives me tingles.

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View from desk 334..Main Reading Room

Yes, I know most people want to spend their 50th birthday on an island or far away destination; however, I chose my nation’s capital city for this blessed day and week.  And purposely this space to write this blog post.  Washington, DC is a pivotal place for democracy even though lately there has been a stale mate among political parties.  However, I believe democracy is the better form of government.

Those who’ve followed my blog know that I support the Democratic Parties Presumptive Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.  Today the FBI advised that there were no findings to indicate malice or ill intent regarding to deleted or missing emails.  This translates to know recommendation of criminal charges by the FBI to the U.S. Justice Department.  I never thought there would be anything found.  It is frustrating to see all the rocks that have been thrown toward former Secretary Clinton.  My belief is that strong women and ironically even those who stand by their spouses still are given grief.  I am not going to go into why I support her…you can read that on my blog “Why I Support Hillary Clinton for President”.  My reasons have not changed.

Now, I know why not talk about something other than government?  Well being born the day after the nations 190th birthday, I get giddy about government and democracy.  Oh yes and fireworks as well as good ribs and family cookouts.  Yesterday there were cloudy fireworks but awesome cannon sounds.  My husband and I attended “A Capitol Fourth” produced and aired live by PBS.  Well interestingly the fireworks broadcast were not those we witnessed.  This was a big slight on PBS for omitting this information and not being upfront.  Still I saw many amazing entertainers including Smokey Robinson, Yolanda Adams, and Kenny Loggins.

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View of the Main Reading Room Dome

Looping back, I am sitting in the Library of Congress because I love libraries.  They are filled with so much knowledge and information ready for you to find and read.  I know if I lived in the DC area this would be my primary place to write and study.  I plan to return during this week but today the 50th anniversary of my birth, I had to come to this place.  I can close my eyes and smell the scent and hear the crinkle of books at my childhood library.  Fredrick Douglass Chicago Public Library in North Lawndale community is where I received my first library card.  I don’t know where the card is today but the memories are still within me.  And my love for libraries is even stronger.

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Rule Number One, From My Mom


My mother’s number one rule was always treat people with respect.  Her advice is reflective of the golden rule that can be found in many cultures and religions.  Treating others as you wish to be treated is something said by mothers in all parts of the planet.  China, India, Africa, England, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and in other nations children are taught this simple but powerful message.

be-kind-blogSpecifically, my mother would say that individuals in the service industry can be your greatest allies.  Food service, custodial, and administrative workers were whom my mother referred to often as people who can help you.  I learned the truth in her lessons during my undergraduate college years.  While attending college many times when money was tight a food service employee named Teresa ensured I did not go hungry.  Custodial staff allowed friends and I to study while they cleaned up as long as we didn’t “mess up”.  I now better understand that the “messing up” they referred to was not always literal.  What it meant was for me and my fellow African American classmates to study hard and earn our degrees.  My numerous trips to the financial aide office and other university offices also showed how patience and respect for clerks helped me get assistance quickly…often before those who’d been waiting for hours.

My mother died five years ago but all the lessons she taught me over the years have served me well.  Recently there have been legislation put in place in North Carolina called the transgender bathroom bill.  The law states that the gender on your birth certificate should correlate with the bathroom you use.  However, transgender individuals who have not yet had full transformation can be put in an awkward and possibly dangerous situation.  The idea is supposedly to reduce the chance of lewd behavior or sexual assault specifically against women.

The same insensitive bill was presented in South Carolina, where I reside.  Within a week LGBTQ activist came together to organize a protest.  They attended legislative hearings and gave testimony on why the bill is a bad idea.  One of these people is a poet and friend.  I shared her post on Facebook and stated the following:

“This is my friend she is transgender.  She’s a poet and I use to be afraid to speak to her.  She may not know it but I was.  It wasn’t because of anything she did but my own isms and what I thought others would say.  I admit I still am wrapping my head around the idea of someone being physically born one gender and seeking to change it.  However, I do empathize with those of the transgender community.  They like others of the LGBTQ community have no physical interest in those outside of their community.  They aren’t trying to get you, your man, or your woman for that matter.  I’m still learning but one thing I believe is the bathroom bill is a bad idea.  The SC General Assembly needs to focus on infrastructure for the remainder of this session.  This is what matters most to me.”

When I wrote the message, I felt a little nervous.  But then I remembered my mother saying to always be kind.  I heard my father say speak your truth and don’t be afraid to say what is right.  The idea behind any bathroom bill is reminiscent of the Jim Crow laws in the early and mid 20th century.  The reality is that many individual/single bathrooms are used by both genders.  Without being able to indicate exactly how many instances have occurred where a person not of the gender or even transgender have attempted to use a restroom opposite their gender is not quantitative.  Sadly, criminals and those meaning others harm will get around any bathroom law.

I have always chosen to work toward the betterment of society through activism for art, political, and women’s issues as well as human rights issues.  It is disappointing to know that there are elected officials seeking to hold back any gender or race.  Here in South Carolina crumbling roads, education, and jobs are what I believe to be most important.  I strive each day to be my mom’s legacy and to be kind to everyone.  I think my mom would agree.

This video illustrates that the message of kindness transcends language barriers.  Grab your tissue and give it a watch.  Kindness begets…kindness.

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Good Love


A man in his late 20’s meets a young woman who just turned 20.  they sang together in their church’s young peoples choir.  The man was considered a black sheep by many.  He liked to have fun, play pool, and spin records on weekends in pubs.  An unexpected pregnancy resulted in the couple getting married.  The decision to get married took time and contemplation by them but the man wanted a family and to do what was honorable.

1795864_10202864896962497_1240607378_oThe couple were my parents.  Through highs and lows in their marriage including a brief separation early in their marriage, they persevered.  Upon my father’s death they were married for 31 years.  Both my parents are now deceased.  Last week was their 50th wedding anniversary.  I have no doubt if they were both living that they would have still been married.

My parents weren’t publicly affectionate but they showed loved by caring for each other.  Sharing time together and a lot of laughter.  Our home was always filled with the smell of good food, laughter, and music.

I was raised understanding that it was never right for a man to hit a woman.  My dad said these words to me when puberty occurred.  My mom was in one ear talking about the birds and the bees; and my dad was in the other ear explaining what it meant to respect the one you loved.  He also demonstrated this by example.  My parents argued sometimes but I never saw them ever be violent towards each other.

I am always saddened and angered to hear about women and men being abused by a partner.  No matter that demographic of the relationship it is never right to hit or hurt another person unjustifiably.  Justifiable violence should only occur in self-defense and even then there is a limit of what should or needs to be done…dependent on the situation.

One of my saddest and fondest memories of my parent’s union is the day my dad died.  My mother went to his hospital bedside to say good-bye.  She chose to go alone to have final time with my dad’s still warm body.  When she returned she sweetly said, “I kissed him”.  She continued to explain, “At first I was hesitant to kiss him.  But then I thought he never hurt me in life so he wouldn’t hurt me in death.”  The words my mother spoke were the simple summation of good love.

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An Interview: Tainted Love


When couples marry, they don’t envision divorce.  They especially don’t anticipate divorce due to domestic violence.  Most people who get married do so on a positive note.  Statistics complied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1 indicate in 2014 a ratio 46.4% divorces to marriages.  This means for every 100 marriages 47 will end in divorce.  For intimate partners “One in 4 women (22.3%) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner while 1 in 7 men (14.0%) have experience the same.”2

Last year I learned that a friend Gwen Hughes (name changed for her protection) was separated from her husband after over 40 years of marriage.  One reason was due to infidelity on his part but the greatest reason was due to domestic abuse during the duration of the marriage.  Gwen did not fit the demographic of a domestic violence victim…at least in my mind.  I now know that domestic violence or violence against an intimate partner spans across gender, race, and socio-economic status.

I asked Gwen if she would be willing to sit down for an interview.  She gladly agreed in order to share her story and maybe help another person in a similar situation.  Below is our conversation.

PaisleyPerspective: First I want to thank you for sitting down with PaisleyPerspective to share your story.

Gwen Hughes: You are welcome.  I am ready to tell what happened to me, mostly to help another woman or even a man.  No one should suffer with being mistreated.

Paisley:  How many total years were you with your husband including prior to marriage?

Gwen: I was with my husband two years prior to marriage.  We were married almost 44 years so just about 46 years.  We met in high school.

Paisley: So you were high school sweethearts?

Gwen:  Yes, yes, we were high school sweethearts.  Even though I should have known something back then…but we will save that for later in the interview.

Paisley:  When did physical abuse occur, before or after marriage?  Hindsight is 20/20 but were there any signs of possible abuse?

Gwen:  We had gone out on a date to a little hangout for teenagers.  We were standing and I remember asking, if we would just stand around or would we sit down?  He completely flew off the handle and started yelling at me.  I thought it was odd but brushed it off.

We graduated from high school and then were married after high school.  I was at school [college] and he was home this particular day.  I recall coming home and asking why he hadn’t taken out ground beef to thaw.  He became very angry and slapped me.  I got very upset and called my mother at that point our daughter was an infant.  I went and stayed with my parents and even called his parents.  His parents were upset as well and explained they didn’t raise him to be that way. Eventually with him calling I did go back home, mainly because we had a child together.  That was the very first time but it was very early on in our marriage and like you said hindsight is 20/20.

Paisley:  After the first occurrence how often was the frequency of physical abuse?

Gwen:   The abuse was intermittent.  Not always physical, it wasn’t like he would beat me with fists but there was shoving and threats…where he would threaten to hit me.  The emotional and verbal abuse was on going. He would say things like, “I was naïve, I was stupid, I didn’t know what was going on.”  He accused me of sleeping with other people even our pastor and high school friends.  He even said our daughter wasn’t his child and she looked just like him including his baby pictures.  In addition to the verbal abuse he was a serial cheater and he knew how that affected me.  It really impacted my self-esteem and mental well being.

Paisley:  So he was accusing you of the things that actually he was doing?

Gwen:  Yes, he was very deceitful but accused me of being a liar. There was a time when he came home from college to surprise me but of course my mom told me.  And he learned that I knew and when I acted surprised to not spoil it, he later called me a liar.  Even when sometimes I would tell someone I was busy, he would say I lied.  But he was the liar because he lied to me the entire time we were married.  I got married very young.

Paisley:  How old were you when you got married?

Gwen: I was 18 years old when I got married.  Part of the reason, why I got married was because I was pregnant.  There was somewhat a sense of shame on my part when I became pregnant.  I was smart and did well in school.  My parents never made me feel bad even with all that was happening; but I wanted to show my parents I was not a screw up.  They always showed they loved me.  Looking back, I know now getting married was a mistake. However, I was determined to make the marriage work.

Paisley:  Then and now how would define your socio-economic status during your marriage…on average?

Gwen:  I would say we were middle class.  When were first got married we did struggle like any young couple.  He was a good provider and hard worker.  However, with him in the military and us relocating often I always made sure I had a job as well.  So we had a nice lifestyle.  I took care of the home like any military wife being mom & dad when he was on duty.  Our daughter had a severe medical condition so I would get calls from school; and had many emergency room visits.  In addition to his salary, I made sure I contributed financially to our family.

Paisley:  Are you still working and if not what was your profession?

Gwen: No, I am no longer working…I am a retired educator.

Paisley: You have partially explained what kept you in your marriage.  However, were your family and friends aware of the abuse?

Gwen:  No they didn’t know.  My sister was shocked when I told her.  I smiled on the outside and kept it all to myself.  I just kept thinking I could try harder and plus I stayed because of my daughter.  I figured also no marriage was perfect.

I realize now that he has personality disorders, he is a nacreous and arrogant.  He is very self absorbed and he doesn’t have empathy for other people.  Looking back, I always knew there was something about my husband that was not quite right; I truly believe he has mental disease.

Paisley:  There is a book titled “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout.  In the book it has a statistic that 1 in 25 people have sociopathic tendencies.  That is a scary statistic.

Gwen:  Yes my husband definitely fit into that category.  When he was younger he used various substances to check out and to self medicate.  I was always the designated driver during our marriage.  Eventually he had to stop use of all substances which escalated the sociopathic tendencies.

Paisley:  Sadly he probably had similar sociopathic tendencies as a child?

Gwen:  Ironically his mother did say he was very much like this as a child.  He was even mean to his is sibling.

Paisley:  Well at least learning that you realized it wasn’t your fault how he was acting?

Gwen:  No it wasn’t but I did have some fault in staying with him.  There were signs early on even before I became pregnant.  But I kept thinking things would get better and he would grow up but he never did.

Paisley:  What ultimately made you leave your husband?

Gwen:  What ultimately made me leave was finding out about the last affair.  I was willing to stay if he was willing to go to counseling and work through or issues but he wouldn’t.  I realized that he just wasn’t capable to give me what I needed and things weren’t getting any better.

Then there was the final physical altercation where I could have been significantly injured.  This was after I realized it is over but before he moved out of our house.  In addition other discussions lead me to know it was truly over and through a court order he moved out and now we are doing divorce proceedings.

Paisley:  Did you have an opportunity to record any of the altercations?

Gwen:  I do have recordings and photos, so there is audio & visual evidence.

Paisley:  So what advice do would have for a woman going through a similar situation?

Gwen:  All I can go back to is what Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are believe them the first time.”  I look back now and there were so many signs I chose to ignore.  Don’t make the same mistakes that I made, don’t stay with someone who doesn’t honor you as his wife.  Or honor the vows that he made.  Don’t do it.  It doesn’t get better; it only gets worst.

Also wait before you get married.  Make sure you really know the person you’re marrying…don’t rush into a marriage.  Make sure you understand how the person interacts with his immediate family.

Paisley:  I was always taught how a man treats his mother will help indicate how he will treat his wife.

Gwen:  Yes it really does matter because my husband is so disrespectful to his mother and looking back he was always mean to her.

Paisley: Are you still concerned for your safety?

Gwen:  I don’t think he will track me down.  But he is very angry so I am concerned if I see him outside of my home.  He doesn’t understand because he says he provided me with a luxury home and car as well as other material things…he really doesn’t understand why it is over.  He has tried other little things to bother me but I don’t let him get to me.  He really does have some major issues and seems like he has all his life.

Paisley:  Were you raised in an abusive home?

Gwen:  My parents had arguments but there was never any physical altercations.

Paisley:  Would you consider getting married again?

Gwen:  I don’t know if I would get remarried but I would like a nice companion…a retired professional like a retired doctor or lawyer.  I no longer have tolerance for dealing with foolishness or any type of abuse.  First sign and I am done.

Paisley:  This is similar to an earlier question but what advice would you give to people before they get married?

Gwen:  Really get to know them and see how they interact with their family.  Pay attention to their habits if something doesn’t seem right trust your gut.  Don’t get so deep into a situation that you can’t get out.  And don’t be in such a hurry take your time no matter the situation.

Paisley:  Well that concludes my questions.  Again thank you for sitting down with PaisleyPerspective to tell your story.  I wish you well in the next phase of your life.

Gwen:  You’re are welcome.  Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

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xtKTM1rsYour next door neighbor, child’s teacher, favorite grocery clerk, or your best friend may be in a violent relationship or marriage.  Like Gwen Hughes many women as well as men are suffering in silence.  If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence seek help today (The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 http://www.thehotline.org).  Ensure it is safe before calling the hotline or accessing the website.  If you are able do so use a public computer, such as at a local library.   Gwen was lucky that she was never seriously injured during her marriage but many women & men are not so lucky.

“In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner. Apart from deaths and injuries, physical violence by an intimate partner is associated with a number of adverse health outcomes.  Several health conditions associated with intimate partner violence may be a direct result of the physical violence (for example, bruises, knife wounds, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, back or pelvic pain, headaches). Other conditions are the result of the impact of intimate partner violence on the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine and immune systems through chronic stress or other mechanisms.”3

Again if you are in an abusive relationship, your life and well-being are at stake please seek help today.

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Sources: 1 Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (n.d.) National Vital Statistics System. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm

2 Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (n.d.) National Data on Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs-fact-sheet-2014.pdf

3 Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (n.d.) Intimate Partner Violence: Consequences. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/intimatepartnerviolence/consequences.html

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