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July 18th, 2011 by Dr. Phil

The Senate Hearing on Domestic Violence

345301452_resizeListen up, all you Silence Breakers out there, it’s game time. A very vital piece of legislation that protects millions of victims of domestic violence is now before Congress, and we’ve got to make some noise to make sure it’s passed.

The legislation is called the Violence Against Women Act. It was first ushered into law in 1994 and is now up for reauthorization by Congress. I was recently invited to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a content expert to talk about VAWA, which funds programs that help survivors of domestic violence rebuild their shattered lives. The money from VAWA goes to building vital emergency family shelters and creating domestic abuse hotlines. It also trains police officers on how to better protect victims and prosecutors on how to establish better criminal cases that will stand up in court. And because of VAWA, these women have access to resources such as counseling, financial literacy education, gainful employment, long-term housing options and legal assistance.

In my testimony, I took great care to remind the senators just what is at stake here — every 15 seconds a woman is abused in this country. I did the math for them; during the first hour of that committee hearing alone, 228 women would be beaten, terrorized and intimidated — and by the end of day, three women would be murdered as a result of domestic violence. I also stressed the dangerous, long-term effects that domestic violence has on the more than 10 million children who will see their mothers, sisters or aunts beaten or intimidated this year, and how the violence they are having to endure will cause deeply-rooted problems, including eroding their personalities, mental health and mental fitness, resulting in a host of long-term issues, including alcoholism, drug addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few.

I showed the committee those devastating before-and-after photos of women who had been on our show — beautiful, healthy looking wives and mothers who had been beaten by their husbands or boyfriends. I talked about Audrey, whose ex-husband set her on fire after she left him, and I talked about Sandra, who lost her left eye when her boyfriend found out where she was hiding and attacked her. And I talked about how difficult it’s been to prosecute men who do such acts — and that we have to keep pushing for legislation to make sure that domestic abuse is taken out of the family courts and put into the criminal justice system, or at a minimum, we create a system of sharing information from one court to the other. “Red tape in the system means that red blood will be spilled in the home,” I told the senators.

Needless to say, I also informed them about our End the Silence on Domestic Violence campaign, and I told them about the thousands of you who have signed up to become Silence Breakers, always ready and able to give your time and resources to help.

And as the hearing came to an end, I thought, Boy, we need the Silence Breakers to come through for us right now. This summer, as I’m sure you know, Congress is looking for all sorts of ways to cut the federal budget, and I’m afraid adequate funding for the Violence Against Women Act is in jeopardy. The co-chair of the committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, went so far as to declare during the hearing that reviews of VAWA grants have uncovered problems with record-keeping and unallowable expenditures. “In today’s economic environment,” he said, “we cannot tolerate this level of malfeasance in federal grant programs.”

I agree with Sen. Grassley completely. We need to ensure that VAWA’s programs are held to strict accountability.  However, we need to make equally sure that we never turn our backs on women who are in crisis. And make no mistake, this crisis is getting worse, largely due to our economic downturn. Domestic violence numbers spike when people are stressed out over money. One recent report found that some 9,500 women each day cannot get the help they need. They are told there’s no room at the inn.

I worry about those 9,500 women because I know the danger they face.  As we’ve talked about many times on the show, nearly 70 percent of injuries and murders in domestic violence cases happen to women after they leave abusive relationships. It’s a phenomenon known as “separation assault.”  So they need a safe place. And if the federal government doesn’t step in with the funding, then those women are in real trouble, because right now, states and localities can’t afford to keep many of their shelters open, let alone build desperately-needed new ones.

345298042_resizeSo let’s keep active, Silence Breakers. Write to your U.S. representative and senator and let them know how important it is that they vote to re-authorize VAWA. Let’s make sure that money continues to flow into the programs that fund safe havens for those women who have made the brave decision to leave their abusive relationships.  For those of you who haven’t become a Silence Breaker and want to join our campaign, you can go here to take the pledge.

And, as always, if someone you know is an abusive relationship — or if that someone is you — we’ve got a lot of resources at DrPhil.com to help you or your friend get help.

Let’s do what we can to create a world where women feel safe. And let’s certainly make sure our daughters and granddaughters don’t grow up in a world that looks the other way or fails to react if they are the victims of violence. This epidemic cannot remain silent!

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69 Responses to “The Senate Hearing on Domestic Violence”

  1. Rob Beanham says:

    I am 43 year old man living in Australia, as a child i was raised in a home of domestic violence. I am the youngest of seven children, all of us were subjected to the domestic violence in our home. My comment is more in the form of a question that i dont know how to ask, How has my exposure to this sustained violence to my mother , my self and my other brothers and sisters affected me and effected my siblings?
    I have been doing some research on the web about domestic violence, my frustration is i cant seem to find any substantial study or investigation into how it affects children, into adolescence and then into adult hood. In my case i could really only describe the effects as something like a post traumatic stress, depression , anxiety, mood swings,personality disorders and sadly perpetrators of domestic violence in one case, are all evident amongst my brothers and sisters, and myself. While i am not a perpetrator of domestic violence i do suffer from depression, low self esteem, anxiety frustration and anger issues, all of these i believe are as a dirrect result of living and being raised in a highly stressed environment with the constent threat of violence or having to deal with a seemingly endless violent episode.
    I am wanting to find a way to forgive my father in order to move on, i am wanting to find a way out of this. I want to be able to make sense of it all and to understand who i am as a result of it and make positive changes in my life and in some way to help my siblings out of the same dark place.
    For me domestic violence was a paradox, we always felt its ever present tension, but we moved through our lives as if it didnt happen, in some cases almost with in a few minutes of a violent event. No matter how often we just picked ourselves up and got on with it imeadiately after wards, the ever present threat of it happening again was always with you. To this day i cant be in the same room with a couple arguing, i literally become terrified and feel the urge to run.
    My eldest sister three years ago after many years of fighting her fears and anxieties, took her own life. i believe this is an outcome of how she was raised along with all of us. She was 49, a mother of two daughters and my big sister.
    i have chosen to make the buck stop here, to stop this insidious thing from continuing its effects on me the people around me and now continuing its reach into another generation as my nephews and neices are touched by the after affects as their parrents continue to deal with it. I dont think my father realises just how hard his blows have been felt
    i would like an answer to my question. can you help me?

  2. Dear Dr. phill

    from all my heart i have to say that your are an angel to all theese women & children <3<3 Thanks for the person you & Robin are <3

    Here in Denmark we alsow could jused some ideas … så many womans is hidden and living in fear every day and night but you don;t go to present for very long time and some times the police …well they don;t care …

    I been thinking to give some help to the places where theese woman and children are, when they are leaving this man…

    Couls you help me to do something here in Denmark..to start something ??

    With all my love & blessings


  3. Misty Pappas says:

    I am a domestic violence survivor, yet my ex took my son away from me for over 8 months. I was a stay at home mom and didn’t have the money for an attorney. I am in the process of a custody battle, but he keeps calling CPS and making false complaints, saying that I’m hurting my child. His new girlfriend my old best friend stays home now and watches my son and they make him call her mom. He is only 3. I have to pick up my son at a police station and drop him off there. I’ve been living in hell. Even though I got away from him he still manages to find a way to abuse me. I wish someone would really help me. I call the police and they don’t care. I worried that they are abusing my son and taking pictures of it and saying it’s me. I’m a great mommy both my boys love me, and this hurts so much.

  4. Emily Fonda says:

    I was 24, when I became a victim of domestic abuse. My husband had never shown any signs of violence before we got married. Then about 2months into the marriage, he lost his temper with me over something silly that I’d done (I think I’d sprayed some Raid on his jeans by mistake when i was trying to kill an insect), and cornered me in the bathroom, threw a jug of red cool aid over me, and then ripped my top off and tried to take pictures of me looking humiliated cornered in the bathroom… naturally I was shocked, and very shaken up, but then later on he told me how sorry he was, and was very affectionate, and assured me it wouldn’t happen again – he sounded sincere… little did I know that over the next 18months that was just a small taster of what was to come…

    He became more & more controlling, i didn’t know anyone in the city, I am from Europe, and we’d only just moved to LA (although he had some friends there), but when i made friends with people, he would interrogate them over the phone & they would get scared off from being around me, we shared a cell phone, but he kept it, so any time I wanted to use the phone it had to be in front of him, and if he didn’t like how my conversation was sounding, he would grab the phone & hang up the call, or talk to the person i was talking to & make me sound like I was crazy… he would even mimic things I talked about, and he had a problem with me just generally chit-chatting with people about random things… yet when he called his friends he would be on the phone for ages just talking about random things… when I pointed this out one day, and called referred to him as a hypocrite, he beat the living daylights out of me, and smashed a plstic chair over my head (I’d blocked it with my arms)… then when i tried to get out of the apartment, he told me if I left he would pour bleach over my clothes… I got out as fast as I could… but when I eventually came back (thinking things might have calmed down) he wasn’t there – but my clothes were in a pile on the floor and they stank of bleach most were ruined, and he’d torn up other items with a knife – even some of my shoes… my arm had swollen up & I was worried it was fractured or broken, and I was a nervous wreck, the apartment manager ended up calling for an ambulance… and I was taken to A&E – the x-ray showed there was no fracture, I was just covered in bruises, and the police had taken a report, they told me to call them if he came back to the apartment…

    Eventually he came back, and he apologized, and told me he didn’t know what had happened, but that he loved me and didn’t mean to hurt me – he even had some flowers blah blah blah… I was naive enough to fall for it, though something had changed in me… After a few more episodes or verbal and physical abuse, and I’d told him i wanted to leave, he told me he would go to immigration & make up a bunch of lies about me, to get me deported – he had also taken my passport and hidden it and detroyed my ID, to try & stop me leaving – he would constantly go into my purse, & take anything he though was important to me, incl credit cards etc… & I’d had to start hiding my things or leaving with other people that I hardly knew (so I lost more stuff) – he would also beat me for money… there was one time he hurt me, and the neighbors called the police ’cause they heard the noise and he told me I’d have to go outside and tell the police it was a misunderstanding, or otherwise he would cut himself with a kitchen knife, & tell them I did it… it was such an awful time, & by that stage I was terrifed, & felt worthless – like I was nothing, my confidence had been destroyed & I was covered in bruises..I wanted to get away but I didn’t know where I could go, so I decided to wait for the “right” time/opportunity…the final straw came when I found out I was pregnant, he found out, through a medical clerk making an error, and at 1st he was really happy – I was in shock about the whole situation – then one day we were discussing baby names, & I didn’t like the name he wanted to choose, and he flipped out… I ended up cornered in the shower, he beat me – even in the belly, dragged me out of the bathroom like i was a rag doll, and kicked me when i was on the floor… I went to the hospital the next day for an ultra sound, and they found the baby didn’t have a heart beat, they gave me a print out of the “baby” scans, … the hospital had called the police, and i didn’t want to tell them anything, as i was so scared, however they told me they could prosecute without me under the People vs. -the story goes on, but by the end he ended up running away… the most he got was 5 days in jail… but there was never any big case, and it is the one thing I regret, as he could be doing it to someone else right now…

    If it hadn’t been for VAWA, I would not have been able to rebuild my life, secure my visa to stay here, and be able to move on with my life. I now look back at it like it happened to someone else, as I refuse to be a victim – I do still have trust issues, but I am also much tougher, and strong minded now, and I will not and have not ever let a man or woman disrespect me since. i was granted a divorce (though he tried to stop it), and I have a restraining order against him so he cannot come anywhere near me, my workplace, car, etc I also moved to another area, and have taken measures to the best of my ability to make sure he cannot find where I live – I also have certain people, who are letting me know of his whereabouts. I am one of the luckier ones – at least I did get out alive, and have no permanent damage…

    The one thing that needs to be changed with the legal system is that if the abuser is arrested and gets out on bail then he (or she) is entitled to return home (so if the victim co-habits with the accused, then that is when the victim is really in more danger,as the abuser will be mad about the arrest) – I believe that is why so many “victims” stay quiet, as unless they have the money to escape, or have a safe place to go, they will be left at risk… I was in that situation – hence why I didn’t want to deal with the police (I learned after the 1st incident how it worked)… We need to SAVE VAWA!!!!!!

  5. i know wht it is like to be mentaly an physicaly a buse by the person that is pose to love you…i was married for 11 yrs… on a daily bases i was mentally abused an most times physicly it all started when i got pragnet with my son i was bout 5 months when he got angery an shoved me down i didnt thk to much bout it tell later when i had been in the hay field all day an made him a hambuger for dinner an he threw it back in my face…after a few yrs thkn he would change i tried to leave many times but he would eather hold a knife to my thort or tie me up or something to were i couldnt leave…wht really done it for me is when i was only aloud out of the house 1 time a week for 2hrs to get wht we need for the week but i forgot to get toothpicks an he got so angery he held a shotgun to my head loaded with a 3″ mag shell in it infront of my kids that was it i was done an finally was able to get a way from that monster befor he killed me…thk you for your time….

  6. Dear Rob Beanham,
    I read you story I will not tell you it’s sad because word sad not enough to describing your situation darling I know that for sure because I was under abuse for long time from my x-husband & his family too .But to be under abuse child’s that sadness over anyone can imaging .
    I will tell this trues I know it from my personal life & from my voluntary work with children were under abuse .
    First:- you need face that all pain in your soul from that abuse and you need help for that (professional help )if you can’t do it by yourself .
    2nd:- you need to know all wonderful things in your personality inside out & be proud of them .
    3rd:-for me sport help me a lot & yoga. Writing about that like you did here will help .
    And finally :- don’t worry you will never be abuser like your father if you don’t want that & remember your past it’s just part of your life but it’s not you darling.

    My reply just personal opinion NOT professional opinion & forgive me if I made any mistake in English because English not my first language by the way learning new language it’s help too.

    My wish for you to find peaceful inside and a round now and for ever.
    Your friend in humanity

  7. Jen says:

    While the majority of those who end up being the victim in abusive relationships is women, I don’t think the focus should be just on them. Women can be the abusers as well; men the victims. I realize this is just part of the first steps to help end the cycle of abuse and provide help to those who need it- but I think there needs to be support for male victims as well.

  8. Rebecca Franklin says:

    I live in Australia and I grew up in a house with domestic violence and sexual abuse. When I was approximately 7, my mother met and married a man with schizophrenia. He held knives to all of our throats, beat us repeatedly and one night I woke up and found him bashing my 8 months pregnant mothers head into the floor, I screamed at him to stop and ended up running to the neighbors house for help. It was at this point my mother switched off emotionally from my sisters and I. She stayed with him for quite a while after that and then when she did finally leave him, she went on to other abusive relationships, including another step father who sexually abused me for years, until I left home at 16 after another attempted rape and subsequent bashing. My family is completely fragmented, none of us have a healthy relationship, I have nothing to do with my mother or sisters. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and disassociation disorder, I have had great difficulty in finding help and have learnt to manage myself as best as I can. I am lucky and have a wonderful husband and five children, I am determined that my children will never feel the way I did growing up and make sure I tell them how much I love them everyday. There seems to be know real understanding for the ongoing problems suffered by the families that have been exposed to domestic violence, I also would like some answers on how to heal.

  9. Jean Jr Sarrazin says:

    Sorry for my english typing.Im french living in montreal.I have been bully beford and now it the time to end that probleme.Ive tought killing my self…dont no why i never did it..but this need to end.It sad to see what other kids do to others…wow..everybody should be friends.Bullying is not cool..and you look like stupid.Dr Phil i give you my words to give you a hand.

  10. cuteness says:

    I do not agree… I am the parents and I am sending my children to school and the teachers should only be teaching ABC”S and Math and etc. Who does not want to join in and do that should be dismissed from the school and be sent to a troubled school where they should be taught that.

    i AM THE PARENT! Leave my children alone with you thinking you have to be the parent…. COngress the Gov stay out of our lives!

  11. Brandee says:

    My first love, boyfriend, etc… Ended up being… Well… A monster… We got together when I was 17, and I remained in this hell on Earth until nearly 20. The physical & mental abuse was extreme – Broken bones, internal bleeding, etc.. There were times when I felt sure “this time he’s going to kill me.” NO ONE could get me out of it. I would leave. He would apologize. I would fall for it. Every time. Then, the beating was the worst ever. I decided I would leave for good. No going back. Until a visit to the “Pregnancy Crisis Center” confirmed my deepest fears – I was carrying his child. I felt like I HAD to give our child a chance to grow up with something I never had – A Mom and a Dad in the same household. “Maybe this is the ONE thing that will change his behavior and make him the man he started out to be…” Was my thought process. So I went back. He beat me again, at 5 months pregnant, and I nearly lost the baby. I knew, then, I either had to change my life to save us both, or I was sentencing myself, and an innocent baby, to death.
    I got away and filed an Order of Protection. We went to court. The Protection Order was DENIED. Yes, that’s right. In spite of my bruised and battered (pregnant) body, Judge Joseph Foxman DENIED the Restraining order. WHY?? BECAUSE I WAS PREGNANT WITH THIS MONSTER’S CHILD… So, I left the state, and never looked back.
    Fast-forward to 17 plus years later. My son is going into his senior year in High School. He makes very good grades, and will be going into his 16th season in Baseball. Colleges are sending him letters of interest left and right. He is the love and joy of my life, and we have a bond of love that could never be touched.
    I went to college and pursued a career in Computer Science. I got my degree, and have been working nearly 10 years for an Actuarial Firm, as a Software and Technical Consultant.
    The “Monster,” went on a killing/beating spree and is in Prison in Wisconsin for attempted murder for a 17-year sentence. Then, he will stand trial in Florida for the murder of a Gainseville College Student. All of the women he hurt or allegedly killed bear a striking resemblance to me.
    I thank God EVERY DAY for the strength He gave me to GET OUT when I did.
    What’s more, I thank Him for my beloved son – Who, in every way possible, literally, SAVED MY LIFE…

  12. I believe everyone can change a behavior and I’ll be the first to say it’s not easy but it can be done.
    Even someone who abusive.
    Thank you speaking to all of us and even those in Washington.

    I would like to bring your attention to an Author called “Chris Crutcher” who lives in Spokane Washington area he wrote books on Teenagers being bullied.
    All though there fiction but the fact there all sorts of abuse going on.

    Coffee is on.

  13. I think we should put a stop to cyberbullying and bullying in general

  14. Carrie says:

    I applaud you, Dr. Phil, for your campaign to End the Silence on Domestic Violence. I am a survivor. I left my ex-husband when I was 6 months pregnant with our son. I did not want to raise a child in an abusive environment. Thanks to this law, I was able to rebuild my life. We are happy and healthy, but my ex remains a constant threat in the background. His latest harassment was just few days ago.

    I stopped being a victim a long time ago. I’m a survivor raising an autistic child in a loving home, defending him and my family from potential harm, while following all the rules. The rules aren’t good enough, unfortunately. They don’t keep you safe enough. Enforcing confidentiality is a joke in interstate cases as my address is now known. So, we lock doors as we will never be truly safe until my ex is permanently institutionalized or dies. We are pro-active as we can be. I’ve spent thousands of dollars in court fees over the years. I’ve had to explain why there is a threat since I haven’t been hit in “this state” by my ex. I have had to fight the system for every ounce of protection, had police officers laugh at me for being so scared of words.

    Ten years this has been going on and the excuse is he just wants to see his son, except he starts court ordered supervised visitation, but stops short… and every other year we are in court because I keep his son away from him. In visitation matters, he’s rich and stable in child support matters he’s poor and mentally ill.

    He has never met his son, yet I have not blocked visitation, just done what’s needed to keep us safe while providing reasonable access (meaning our right to be safe is balanced with his paternal rights). My ex has never been happy to not have free access to me and my son.

    I’ve got a file of court documents almost a foot thick. More needs to be done to protect survivors and their children from abusers. The courts slapped him on the wrist for breaking protective order after protective order. He has a history of threatening family and friends and everyone I’ve ever tried to establish as a middle man so he could have some relationship with his child without the courts involved before I threw my hands up and requested supervised visitation through the courts’ program.

    For instance, Maryland did a wire tap on my sister’s phones because he called so her so much she could no longer operate her home business. The record was something like 60 calls in 60 minutes! She turned out not to be a good middle man. He went through everyone, including my lawyers that way. Child support enforcement even suggested I leave child support alone because he harassed them sooo much that they didn’t feel it was safe for me to go after the arrears owed. Can you imagine?

    Now my new husband and I work to prepare our son for the day of visitation… but it is not soon enough for him, so he gets at me through the internet on my blog– my freedom of expression is restricted because he still hunts me down, but he gets smarter about doing so as time goes by. I reached out to his wife, which was a mistake (and I’ve got court records showing he has abused her as well, so I did my best to be careful and kind). Abusers learn to work the system. There is so much more that needs doing, but losing this law would be AWFUL.

    Abusers are addicted to abusing. Unless the judicial system treats them like addicts, there will be very little change. Harsher penalties are needed and more supports for the victims and survivors long-term (because 10 years and 3 states down the road, things aren’t taken seriously anymore).

    Your testimony is a great start. Please keep up the good work!!

  15. Bob Lee says:

    Cyber bullying is like any other form of bullying. If it doesn’t end in physical conflicts, it will kill the victim from within. Bullying is one of the many forms of abuse that can be the nightmare of any youngster. Mental abuse can leave scars that, without help, will last forever.

    Our children are our future and in order to fill our shoes with the confidence they will need, they must be raised in a healthy, loving atmosphere, full of trust and caring communication where adults don’t just talk, but ask then listen to the answers.

    Thanks for taking a stand on this, Dr. Phil.

  16. wendy says:

    lt happens mental abuse happens for real! im a stay at home mom of 3 and was bullied, harrassed, and intimidated for 8.5 years. i finally kicked him out 6 months ago and my children and i have been much better off. of course he still has time with his children and uses different methods, mostly money to control me.

  17. Bobel says:

    Thank you, Dr. Phil for being “our” voice’s. You are much appreciated!

  18. Rob Beanham says:

    Hey Rebecca, where did you find infomation on this? how did you find some answers to it ?

  19. Patty says:

    I left my abuser on my 21 birthday. I was turning 21 and something hit me literally and figuratively and enough was enough. I had to leave and go to a batter womens shelter for a short while. I was being hit, spit on and emotionally battered for way to long. It had been 4 long years.

  20. I've lost me says:

    Hey, I think you’re doing a great job.
    I try to watch as often as possible, but you go on TV here in Norway when I’m at work.

    I would really wish you could have taken up issues like suicide. I lost my boyfriend at the end of February this year, he hung himself. He would have turned 23 years 11 June. We got together and moved along the first time 18 November 08 I knew he had many problems from his past, but that he would die because of it, I had never imagined, nobody did it.
    I would really wish you could take this up with the young people do this while they are in a relationship. So maybe someone can think a little about it is actually one left who does not understand. We had planned a new apartment and a baby just a week before. And we had an argument and he went and a few days after he was found. The argument we had was worse than a discussion of who should wash the dishes. It was just stupid, and I tried to fix it but he would not calm down. So please! I know many young people struggling with many thoughts and I know that it is not something easy to sit back when you lose him you would share your life with. I am one of those who are struggling right now and must go on happy pills and i’m just 20.

    I had to give up the apartment we had. I can not handle living there because of all the memories, so I have now moved back to my mother since I can not live alone.
    Here is suicide a very taboo subject, so please get it into the light. Only these almost 5 months I have been friends with 3 of my age who have lost their lovers in suicide. Soo please!

  21. Pam says:

    While I sympathis with those woman who had to deal with and leave these situations, many woman are not in DV situations and play with the system. My only brother was killed by a woman who was violent. He tried to calm her down, when she would get angry and pull her gun out. He tried to deal with her when she stalked him and called his job repeatedly, she was jealous and the problem is when men deal with violent woman, the system is not very supportive. Not only did she shoot my brother 3 times, the Detroit Police Department recommended homicide but the prosecutor let her walk, without seeing the autopsy report. When it finally came out our family was informed that he would review it again if our family sued her in civil court. Straight, Boys and men are often victimized and it is overlooked and not takien seriously. I know have 4 neices who lost a loving father because their step mother was jealous of them.

  22. Sue says:

    In my oppion there is a very thin line between abuse and bullying to me it all the same thing. As I wrote earlyer My Step Dad use to drink a lot he was in my oppion a very heavy drinker. I had so much mental abuse growing up that I had started beleaving what my step Dad had said. I am not saying at times maybe I needed it I am 43 years old and really could have used someone like Dr.Phil to even talk to. I think in my oppion as well that the world is good for knowing Dr.Phil and honestly commend him for what he does it is not easy and is and will not be an easy road to travel. It is nice to see so many people that does write in on his shows.

    My step Dad’s thoughts of me was that I was so ugly that I would never be married there is no way in this world that a man would ever find me that attractive to be with me. This is just one of the things he would say to me when my Mom was never around to hear what he said to me. When I was raped the 5 times instead of helpping me get over things or at least try and get me some help he would say that I deserved it. My life now has big trust issues on anyone because of what my step Dad had all my life said to me.

    Honestly I could not say enough of the help that just by watching Dr.Phil and beleave it or not have been doing the rest of my steps of letting things go in my life.
    When I was 16 years old I started going to church just because I wanted to help me I found that was the only place I felt safe and be able to be me. It took a lot from the pastor at the first church I was going to, to get me to talk about things and get him to help me. If not for him I know that I would not have been here today.

    When I was raped the last 2 times the Church helpped me as at the time I was in teen bible witch was on friday nights. I come home real high on the bible when my step dad said “how can your god forgive you for anything especialy for what you have done.” . It was shortly after that I stopped going to church because I wanted to be out of my parents house before continueing to go to church because of my Step Dad.

    I really Thank the Churches and really commend them as well when you really need the solitude they will not turn away someone in need and if you think you are hideing anything think again they know everything. I am proof they know and they knew the minute I walked threw the door.

  23. sue says:

    i am a 40 year old woman in my second abusive relationship that has caused me to shoot meth in my arm everyday, ive tryed to get help but where is the law they let them out only to do it agagin. now im trying to quit and cant really i cvant do it alone help me damnit

  24. Thank you for sharing the information.I like it very much.it is of vital importance for me.

  25. Shelley Gaudreau says:

    I live in Canada, and sad to say we see much the same thing. Women who are so totally dominated by their abusers that they see themselves as helpless. In some cases they are isolated from friends, and family, robbed of economic independence. Robbed even of their self esteem. Fortunately our police departments, civic, provincial, federal, and first nations have developed a zero tolerance policy on domestic abuse. All an abused woman, or a witness to the abuse need do is call 911.
    The cops will come, and the abuser WILL be charged, either for attempted murder, assault, or sexual assault what ever the case may be.

    I also volunteer at one of our local food bank. Any woman or man, leaving a shelter or our Crisis Center qualifies for a start up kit, consisting of food, personal items, dishes, linens etc. We also provide referrals to other agencies, such as legal aid, counseling, job training, and welfare. Quite few victims of abuse have gotten a leg up on the world this way. Help is out there; it just takes the guts to finally say” No more! And I am outta here!!”

  26. Pam says:

    There are many woman who claim Domestic violance when they dont get there way or dont follow through with accusations or caught in lies. this ties uo the court systems and sometimes get innocent men in life long trouble. Someone woman start fights and when it gets out of control they call the police and play victim. I worked for a domestic violence hotline and about half the woman were playing games with the system.

  27. Jeannette Ruddell says:

    Both my daughter and I have been beaten and otherwise abused. Mine was my exhusband, before he became my ex. I still have health problems because of it and will for the rest of my life. My daughter was beaten up by her drunken boyfriend(now ex) they put him if jail for about 36 hrs. Let him out and he went back to Maine. There are still two warrants out for him but Texas won’t go get him. He left her with a torn rotator cuff of her shoulder, she wore a blace eye for better than seven weeks and had to work. She also has several herinated discs in her back from being thrown to the ground and him sitting on trying to get her cell phone away from her. Texas will not punish these men, maybe a slap on the wrists and they’r gone. I think he should be made to pay her medical bills and stay in jail for longer than 36 hrs. Please, please do something for the women of our state of Texas.

  28. Ann says:

    Thank you so much Dr. Phill. With the economy getting worse and worse I think domestic violence is going up. With so much stress in households right now everyone seems to be on edge and that can make even nonviolent people do things that they may otherwise not do.

  29. Kerterina says:


  30. Beatrice Rodriguez says:

    I would like to commend Dr. Phil and Robin for their unselfish acts of empathy and courage. I also would like to say that I admire their steadfastness and fortitude in such a very time sensitive social issue. It is imperative that the “Violence Against Women Act” be re-enacted to safeguard and educate “millions of victims.” I would like to say that Domestic Violence shatters family relationships and communities. It is a privilege to be a part of a movement that demands a united stand for dignity, respect, safety and inner peace.

  31. Susani Sacca says:



  32. Hannah Newberry says:

    The VAWA cannot stand alone-just words and an organizational chart ond some $ is NOT the answer to this crisis. The Federal Government needs to treat Domestic Violence as a hate crime focused at mostly women and children. The abusers need to be held accountable by the Federal Government because the states just will not-too close to the fight. The situation for women and children is bleak-we are dying everyday with the full knowledge of the United States. The constitutional rights of a select group of citizens-women and children of DV-are NOT being upheld. This is a civil rights violation.

    I survived over 10 years of Domestic Violence, where the perpetrator has a 30 year record of abuse and DV to both his wives and his children-all of them. In fact Child Protective Services deemed him dangerous. During my divorce hearings he violated the Protective Order, and continued to do so afterward. Law Enforcement and the legal system had proven their inability to protect anyone from this abuser, the DV shelters were full, there was no place for me to go with our son and stay safe. What he did was nothing short of witness intimidation-and he got away with it. I left the state to be with family and I now face Criminal Charges-simply because I lsft the state to get safe.

    I did contact ay many organizations and public officials and federal officials but there is no help for DV . I and my children continue to be vicitimized. We are POW in our own country.

    It is time for the Federal Gevernment to enforce the civil rights of it citizens.

  33. Karen Hartstein says:

    Heartbroken and horrified. Knew this was going on. Have been a victim. Now thriving and networking for change.
    Hid a woman and her girls in my home for 5 weeks while helping her fight her court case. They are now as safe as can be expected with him still loose.
    Dr. Phil: Thank you sooooooooooooo much for taking this up as a cause.
    Thank you for speaking to Congress. Thank you for articulating what I could not put my finger on before. “We need to move domestic violence into the criminal courts!” Why is it so bad now? Is it a fear reaction to women’s empowerment?
    Despite all I am doing at a grassroots level, I feel so impotent against the Chimera!
    Please keep an open forum on this. EVERY AMERICAN (not to mention the world population) is affected by this. Not being willing to accommodate with laws and money is just another form of abuse! SPEAK OUT! DEMAND CHANGE! EDUCATE! DARE TO LOVE AND TAKE ACTION! GET FREE! HEAL! THEN COME BACK TO “PAY IT FORWARD!”

    All my loving concern and continued efforts,

    Karen Hartstein

  34. oma says:

    WE think we are blessed when we hear how women are treated in third world countries. They have no rights, they can’t get divorced etc.etc The only difference in this country is that we have created a false sense of security by PRETENDING women have rights.
    If you are in an abusive relationship, you are dealing with a bully, who doesn’t follow court orders and restraining orders. The family court systems provide no financial security for women and their chilkdren, and the justice system provides no physical protection.
    Creating more laws is great, but unless they are actually enforced they are not worth the effort. Can we start a movement to hold the courts (and the judges we elect) accountable for the decisions they render.
    How many of you have a story on how the courts continued the abuse after you left the abuser?

  35. AJ says:

    I am currently in an abusive marriage and trying to work my way back to normal. We were married in 2006, legally separated in 2009, and living together again with 4 children. My question relates to how to control yourself and live with this type of a person. We have attempted relationship counseling and individual counseling to no avail. I am interested in finding a way to fight this thing. Currently, he is under court supervision, which has stopped the physical violence toward me. It does not, however, stop him from breaking all of my belongings and other items in our home. For some reason, he does not see this as wrong. Is empathy something that can be taught, and if so, would that make a difference? Maybe a better question is how can women who are living in these situations find and keep themselves. I enrolled in a Masters program, and I am finally graduating. It has been such a constant struggle with him stealing my papers, refusing to watch children so I can write a paper, smashing 2 computers, and several other outbursts. I’m just sick of being treated this way – locked out of the house with my 4 children and $3.86 in my bank account with a quarter tank of gas. Yet, our children seem to adore him…of course, only when he’s not smashing their toys or throwing garbage all over the house. I’ve been told to just show them that you love them twice as much as he blows up, but I can’t believe that’s enough. In the end, it’s not as much about me as protecting my children and letting them know this is wrong. If I don’t know what he’s doing to/with them when I’m not around, how can I guarantee that my children are safe? The police can’t protect me from being kept up all night for days in a row being hit in the face. How can I trust them to protect my children? But if I’m there, doesn’t me saying “no you’re not stupid” make a difference at all? I’ve read so many books, but I’m looking for a better counselor/resource referral to put it into a nice little daily stress relief plan…How do I protect my children, maintain my own sanity, and make sure that I don’t turn out to be a monster like him??

  36. Deborah says:

    I was a domestic violence victim in two other marriages first was very physical, the second very emotional. To work on this I became a domestic violence advocate. Even with restraining court documents the only solution I have found to keep every one safe is for the two in the struggle is to separate permanently. What we really are talking about is terrorism but in the home instead of the whole world. If you have been raised in it as I was you must make a discussion to not act on it as a solution to any relationship problem. You must get some help to get to this problem. It takes time but it is worth it. As we see finacial systems fail this problem will become more persuasive.
    If you are a family under financial distress be aware of how Americans are so tied into building self-esteem around their money. If you find yourself unemployed look for work and look for other methods(leagal of course) to help your income. Metals can help when recycling, due to it can bring in money. Realize that you are not your job. You are many things, your interests after worl, Volunteering can bring some self-esteem back it can also show others you are involved in the world. Some will pay you with food, that you may need at this time.

    Most of all talk to any friend who stays true, talk to your spouse if possible. Stay engaged in keeping yourself mentally healthy during the loss of a job so you can get another one.

  37. Kristie says:

    I was in a domestic violence situation, first it was a shove and then a few days later a slap on the back, I took my son who at the time was 15 and left to a friends home.
    I went the next day to the Agency that was recommneded and the only one in our town, I filled out paperwork and filed for a protection order, the order was not granted and a court date was assigend. While waiting for the court date, my son and I had no where to go, the Agency told me that I was not eligable to stay in the shelter because my son was too old. We stayed with friends and family, I tried to find a place for us to rent, I was working and trying to save up enough for a deposit and rent for a place for us to live. The Agency told me they could help with deposit, I said that would be great and was so thankful, when I asked for the assistance that I had found a place, they informed me all they could offer was $100.00. I was very greatful. Through this same agency, they told me they could get me legal help also, I again completed all the paperwork and waited and waited only to find out months later that I had been denied, the was no attorney who wanted to take the case. My then husband showed up at my parents where my son and I was and told my parents, ” I didn’t hit her that hard”. The court date came and the protection order was denied because there was not enough “phycial evidence” in other words he didn’t hit me hard enought to leave marks. I found the system to be anything but helpful and protective, until some is killed or badly beaten there is no assistance, or concern. I hired an attorney and a Reciprical Restraining Order was issued, neither of us could have contact and could not disturb the other, that was not a problem for me, but was for him, within weeks, he came to my work and took the car, the only vehicle I had, the police were called and informed about the restraining order, they told me beings it wasn’t “filed” they could not do anything, the title was in both our names and so he could take it. I could take it back, if I could find it. Our divorce was final this year. I will never forget what happened and I feel that the laws need to be changed a great deal. Nothing, nothing is acceptable, there is no degree of hitting physically or destroying mentally that is acceptable.

  38. vince says:

    dr phil i was shot with a hunting arrow and almost died over 20 years ago, the guy that shot me was on probation, and his probation officer told me he did not violiat his probation cause it did not say anything about him having a bow and arrow, never mind the fact he tried to kill me with the darn thing ofcorse, but to this day i never got any justice from any court in my county, the guy never stood trial over this and no one ever came to my aide in any attempt to help me deal with my mental statice over almost dieing, only recorse i had in this matter was to forgive the guy and remember gods words, VENGENCE IS MINE, sayeth the lord, i gave it all to god dr phil, im happy to say this day i feel good in spirit mind and body, my gut pains from all the sergury i went through all left me about 2 years ago, as i use to have to soak in a hot tub of water to kill the pain i was in almost every day scense the shooting, i would lay in hot water as hot as i could stand and cry and pray for god to please take my pain away, dr phil, god answered my prayers, i remembered god told me that night as i laied on the opp table having my intestons cut out cause the hunting arrow shreaded my intestons while god held me in his loving arms that i was not disabled i was only lazy, those very words healed me doc, im going back to work and i have no gut pains to this very day, maybe we should all try to give our troubled lives to god, after all god did indeed create all of us humans, and he can indeed heal all of us, i never could even afford any pain meds to assist meall these years dr phil, and now i do not even need a asprin for a head ache.

  39. Deborah says:

    Dear Dr. Phil

    I’ve tried to post this on your website. It keeps telling me to put a phonenumber, but won’t take the one I’m putting. Have tried different versions – how do you want it?? Anyway, here’s what I wanted to say:

    I just answered your poll about: – teens in love – does age matter. Well yes and no. It all depends.

    I dated a guy who was nearly 18 when I started dating him and I was 14. We lived on the same street and my parent knew him, and of course kept an eye on things. He was very respectful towards me, and we were together for 1½ years. So not all bad. As I look back I couldn’t have asked for a better first boyfriend. So somethimes there isn’t a clear yes and no answer.

    I have more to write and say, but will write again.

    Kind Regards

    Charlottenlund, Denmark, Europe

  40. Fern2 says:

    Any thoughts about Caylee’s law? I know you’re having the perjury committing Anthonys on the show, the least you could do is support it. Unbelievable.

  41. Tam says:

    I just watched the story about the angry mom, cruelty is not correction. I feel dr.Phil is guilty of making a celebrity out of this sick woman. This little boy should not have been brought across the world only to be abused. Airing the sickness of some people is tantamount to being an accomplice. Dr. Phil show has become almost as sensationalized as Maury Povich.

  42. Shaquana says:

    I grew up in a military family where the man was ‘King’ and the woman, my mother, was ‘nothing’. I worshipped my father and strove constantly to hear those words that every child needs to hear from their parent; “I’m proud of you”. The dynamics in our family were insipid and very destructive…I learned to hold my mother in contempt (because that was safe), and as such, to hold myself in contempt too.

    When I grew older, I married my father over and over again. It was as if I was trying to hear those words…from the same personality type…and of course, it never happened. I had, had the benefit of counselling and education and, in time, I learned to forgive, respect and be proud of my mother. The role she played was not an easy one to play. I am still working on the forgiveness, respect and pride of self.

    The consequences for me, for my family, for my immediate world as a result of this upbringing were expensive for all concerned. I have been on welfare–not enough self-esteem to apply for work for many years. I picked the same partners and continued the cycle even though I did try so hard to do differently.

    Back in the 1960’s and 70s, when I was growing up, my mother did not have the choices that I have had…and still it has been a very tough road. Due to my background, my earning capability was robbed from me…my health expenses were increased and my life-expectancy is shorter.

    A national campaign has and is in effect for those who smoke…to help them to quit because it is now acknowledged that smoking is bad for the health, and an expensive health problem. Domestic violence is, I would bet, a far more insidious and expensive ‘health problem’ for all of those concerned…

    The cost, I am sure, to ‘fix’ this problem…to work on solutions…to educate not only police and judges and lawyers, but doctors and nurses, teachers, ministers…all walks of society..is expensive…but the cost, the real cost, for -not- working towards ending family violence is far, far more expensive and long-term debilitating.

  43. from the family of Nicole Sinkule

  44. tammy gasper says:

    I am writing this post because the laws on domestic violence must change. a year ago I was raped and held in a sleezy hotel for 12 days they arrested him indicted him and then 3 days ago he was released. Now I am having to change my whole life, they are giving him back the gun he used to threaten me. They did not even do a real investigation help me change this.

  45. Serena Colgan says:

    Dr. Phil,

    You are an absolute god send for these people. You are full of insight and you are absolutely great at what you do. Your relationship and marriage with Robin, keeps me, at 21 years old, looking into my future. You are an absolute hero for me and my family!!!


  46. Y.Mus says:

    One of my goals is to change a very important part in the “rights of childrens act” from The UNCRC. Please make article 19 and 34 ( instead of a recommodation what it is right now) a law.
    I miss the protection of children in the justice system in article 19 and 34 Only in article 40 is a mention of protection of children in the justice system but only if they committed a crime. the protection of children is about the following: Children who are a witness and/or a victim of a crime. Is the police investigating the crime? Is the child protected by law and by the justice system. Is the child protected as well/good or even better as in the case of an adult who is a witness and/or victim of a crime. Is the child getting psychological support. Is the child shield of from the offender of crime. etc. etc. The suffering of children by crime must end. Children need all the protection and have a right of growing up healthy and happy and safely.

  47. jackie says:

    Google… jacqueline jones, Diary of Abuse, A lavish Wedding In The Mountains…it is a short story that I have had published on Associated Content. It is part of a bigger piece I have written. This is about the onset of my marriage, to an abusive man, and why I chose him. Feedback is welcome.

  48. A friend of mine was emotionally and sexually abused by her husband for many years and her children physically and emotional abused by this man. She left her husband and took her children with her, however, the one child of the marriage remains with the husband.

    The system does not want to hear about the abuse or about the alienation this man has been aloud to control. This little boy is being denied a good Mom, because the man who controlled this family has been given power by the SYSYEM to continue to control and emotionally abuse this family.

    The SYSYEM says it will help women to leave an abusive situation, help with healing and help the family to be safe. However, the SYSTEM is still allowing the abuse to continue when it closes it’s eyes to the truth of matter. The SYSYEM has silenced my friend from speaking out abuse and healing…with a COURT ORDER.

  49. timothy feimster says:

    Dear Mr President
    You are meeting with the Prime Minister of Tunisia on Friday to discuss the strong bonds of friendship between the American and Tunisian people. During that meeting, do you intend to question him on Walid Ben Sayeh who has a warrant issued for his arrest for refusing to return his American born children to their mother after losing custody. They were due to return home to the United States on August 31st and they have yet to arrest him and return the children, shouldn’t we find out their plan to remedy the situation before signing any agreements with Tunisia?

    If the country of Tunisia has changed!!! Then why can Walid Ben Sayeh walk in to a court house in Tunisia when he has Arrest warrants and then the courts give custody to him? why was he not arrested? i call foul play on the Tunisian Gov….. Does That sound like a country America wants to do business with and give free money to?? THANKS AMERICA

  50. Nikki says:

    I was a victim of abuse for 4 years, after I had my eye socket & clavicle broken by my ex and landed in the hospital I put him in jail took my babies and left never to look back.
    I am only disappointed that you had that big phoney faker Taylor “Shana Hughes” Ford Armstrong on your show crying crocodile tears about her alleged abuse. No police reports filed and she stayed even though she knew it was bad for her 4 year old. Her a supposed victim of child abuse. This woman is a class A liar & does our cause (that of abused women and children) no good.

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