Thursday, October 9, 2008

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence is an issue that I hold close to my heart. I have known friends and family who have fallen victim to or were the victimizers of domestic violence. I have a cousin who was murdered by her husband because she did not get out of their abusive relationship. Two of my aunts were in physically and psychologically abusive marriages, though they were fortunately able to escape and live a better life. The saddest thing about domestic violence, as an outsider, is that the people watching this happen can really only stand back and wait for the victim to reach out for help and pray like hell that help can reach them in time.

Domestic violence is more than physical abuse. It is also mental, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological abuse. It can affect anyone from young to old, light to dark skinned, male to female, rich to poor. Domestic violence does not discriminate. It can even lie dormant until something snaps or it can be present from the beginning of a relationship. It can be hard to identify or it can be blatantly obvious. There are so many different levels of domestic violence that you can be a victim without realizing it.

Studies show that victims of domestic violence are afraid to leave that relationship. Be it monetary reason or fear for their life, victims feel that it is safer to suffer the abuse rather than escape the abuse. Unfortunately, this decision can only end on a sad note, as in my cousin’s case. Victims begin to feel that being abused is their lot in life or that they deserve it for whatever reasons. Some victims, especially women, fall under the category of pathological fixers who believe that they can still change the other person or the relationship.

There is help! If you are a victim of domestic violence, tell someone or call the hotline. Share with your best friend or trusted confidant or favorite relative that you don’t feel safe or comfortable in your relationship. People are your friends for a reason and family whether you like it or not and they all care about you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone that you know, call up the hotline. It’s anonymous and confidential and the person’s a complete stranger who’s trained to help you. Even if you are the victimizer, share your concern with someone else. The first step to getting out of an abusive relationship is to seek help.

For the friends and family of victims and victimizers of domestic abuse, you can help too. Simply being supportive of your person can help immensely. Be helpful and earnest but not judgmental when asked for advice or help. It’s your person who’s suffering, not you, so be there for them and keep your comments to yourself. But most importantly, use good judgment in whatever situation arises that you are included in. The hotline is also available for friends and family to call for advice and guidance.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Boston, Part 1

Boston is amazing! (Best way to start off a post about Boston, eh?) That's right, two weeks after I get on my first airplane ever to fly up to the unknown, I am finally writing about my experience. Yes, I am a procrastinator, but I am also a working girl who's trying to fit in a new season of tv shows and also some family/friend time. Enough excuses! Let's talk Boston!

For those who did not know, I had bought this fated plane ticket in June. I can blame it all on a guy, Josh. I met him and decided, this guy just may be worth conquering one of my fears in life. An irrational fear, grated, but a fear none the less. So, on a whim, I bought a plane ticket with JetBlue three months in advanced of the decided date: Josh’s birthday. Call me crazy, yes! The next day I freaked out about actually buying the ticket. At least I managed to get a direct non-stop flight. That helped my fears. For the following three months I managed to keep my family in the dark, with the exception of my brother, while I turned to my friends and co-workers for advice and reassurances. They even helped me prepare for telling my mom, which surprisingly didn’t go as bad as I thought it would. In fact, my family as a whole took the news much better than I could have hoped. I did more freaking out over the little things that didn’t matter, like that fact that I’ve never traveled outside the South. And so that is my story leading up to Boston.

For the record, I officially do not like flying now. However, I have decided that flying is a necessary evil if I ever want to live a little. The flight itself was not terrible at all. I just did not appreciate my stomach moving with the plane. That’s all. The views from the plane were breath-taking, though. We passed over Manhattan! The entry into Boston is gorgeous, also. Someone planned that well. (foreshadowing!)

From here, I debarked and found my luggage without any problem. I was quite proud of myself for being able to follow the signs posted all over the place! Then, before I knew it, I was welcomed to Boston by strong arms in the best hug I’ve had in months. Next I was whisked away to Providence, RI for the Stars concert. Before I go further, I have to say that driving through Massachusetts and Rhode Island reminded me so much of driving though northern Alabama. There’s so many hills and trees! It was gorgeous. So in Providence, we were early so we walked around to find the venue then to grab something to eat. I was starving! We found this local Irish place, Murphy’s Deli & Bar. The food was great and the place was very nice. The area of Providence we were in, which I think is downtown, is gorgeous. The buildings are so old and historic looking. The whole area had a great vibe. Finally into the concert we went! The venue was Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, which used to be a theatre! That was really cool. Now it’s been updated into a club complete with giant discoball! That concert was absolutely amazing! They were so energetic and enthusiastic and interacted with the crowd a lot. I rocked my socks off. Unfortunately we had to leave and drive back to Medford, MA, just north of Boston. Such a cute place! Josh’s apartment is really nice! Walking through it just helped to increase the want to live alone again. After the tour, I passed out from sheer exhaustion, though I did wake up in the middle of the night confused about my surroundings. But I got over it and went back to sleep thankfully. So this was my Thursday.

Friday dawned bright and early as my body decided that even on vacation I have to wake up with the sun. Oh well, I wanted to be ready for our adventures of the day anyways. Friday I had an informational interview with the director of graduate studies in the department of English at Boston University. However, before I could even get to the interview, we had to get to the interview! So, at my prodding, we took the T. I rode on a subway! That was a really cool experience. It was like a really fast streetcar that goes underground and through tunnels and so many people ride it! The fare is ridiculously cheap, making this a most excellent mode of trans-city transportation. Except that you have to wait a bit sometimes for the right tram to come along. After speeding along and waiting underground once, we finally made it to the campus of BU, located in Cambridge, just west of Boston, along the Charles River. The interview was only so-so. I learned that graduate school does not seem to be the best option for me. The director had several suggestions for me, too. So overall the interview was valuable. By this time it was well after lunch so we passed up the only Popeyes in the greater Boston area! to eat at the Boston Beer Works which happens to be right across the street from Fenway Park. I had a delicious salmon salad and blueberry beer while Josh had a turkey and ham? club sandwich. After a quick stop for a touristy photo of me under a Fenway sign, we strolled down Commonwealth Ave to downtown Boston. The old row houses were absolutely wonderful, as was the ‘neutral ground’/greenway separating the street. It was so cozy and walkable. We even walked down Newbury St. which felt like walking down Magazine St. here in town with all its little shops and boutiques. We finally came upon Boston Public Gardens and Boston Common, two sizeable parks just next to downtown Boston. The coolest thing about Boston Common: there’s a parking deck underneath the park! How cool is that? Awesome city planning right there. We continued walking along parts of the Freedom Trail, through Government Center and Faneuil Hall and the surrounding Marketplace. That was pretty awes-inspiring to sit in the assembly room of Faneuil Hall. After sitting a spell, we continued on to Mike’s Pastry, a place Josh raved about. Indeed it was delicious. We both had a strawberry cheesecake slice. Heaven on a plate. I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate at the time, else I would have gotten a cannoli. I’ll have to get one next time I go back up to visit! After savoring the sweet heaven on a plate, we boarded the nearest T train thing and headed back to Medford and Josh’s apartment where I promptly plopped down, exhausted. We did a lot of walking! The day was not quite over yet, though. We still had to eat dinner, which was a large specimen of chicken and bacon pizza. I must say, I was rather impressed. Can I dare say that the pizza is much better in Boston? Thus concludes our Friday, and also Part 1 of my Boston adventure!