Childhood Depression 

It was Erin's teacher who first recommended that she see the school guidance counselor. In her opinion, the 10-year-old displayed all the characteristics of a problem child: her ability to concentrate was limited, her grades were slipping, and she would rebuff any child who tried to play with her. Equally hostile to adults, Erin abruptly turned away from anyone who spoke to her.In the counselor's office Erin was silent, sullen and simply lowered her head when asked a question. After a moment, the psychologist walked around the desk and crouched to face her. To her surprise, there was a look of despair in Erin's eyes, and tears rolled soundlessly down her cheeks.Erin suffers from childhood depression, a mood disorder that makes mockery of the so-called happy carefree days of youth. Until quite recently, many mental health professionals believed that children couldn't possibly get depressed, because they were too young to experience the feelings of pain and despair that characterize adult depression. During the past decade, however, it has become increasingly clear that not only does childhood depression exist, it's far more common than we might have imagined. While there are no official statistics for the number of children who experience major, or clinical, depression before the age of 13, some studies say it's as high as one child in 10.Signs of childhood depression include: no interest in school; falling grades; no interest in seeing friends; a marked change in sleep patterns (insomnia or excessive sleeping); low energy; fatigue; poor appetite or overeating; physical restlessness or listlessness; complaints of headaches, stomach aches, or other aches and pains; difficulty concentrating or making a decision; feelings of worthlessness or unexplained guilt; obsessive thoughts of death or even suicide. Depression in children rarely comes out of nowhere; there is almost always something that precipitates it. Usually it's the interplay of biological, environmental and genetic factors.

Clinical depression has been linked to an imbalance of neurotransmitters--the chemical messengers in the brain that control actions & emotions. This imbalance makes it difficult for children to react to a situation in a 'normal' way. An invitation to a birthday party or the prospect of a holiday, for example, holds little appeal for a depressed child who has lost the ability to experience pleasure. Major events, such as the death of a parent or divorce, can send children into an emotional tailspin--just as they can adults. For children at risk of depression (those who have lost someone they love, for example), even a comparatively minor stressor--a fight with a friend or a bad grade at school--can trigger full-blown depression. Children with parents who are or have been depressed are three times more likely to be depressed themselves. The earlier the age of a child's first bout of depression, the greater the likelihood that it's hereditary. Doctors are convinced that the earlier the condition is diagnosed, the better the chances of a faster and more complete recovery. Children are taught how to change their thinking and behavior patterns that are responsible for their depression. Cognitive therapy teaches children to monitor and evaluate their own performance and to develop problem-solving skills. Another effective treatment is aimed at enhancing a child's self-esteem by emphasizing and praising areas of competence and enjoyment. Drug therapy is another avenue of treatment. Antidepressants have met with a degree of success but require further research. Children and adolescents benefit most from drug therapy when it is combined with the individual and family psychotherapy. The most important thing a parent can offer a depressed youngster is family support; they must remember what the child is going through is not his or her fault. It is not a personality weakness or a moral lapse. It is a debilitating medical illness that requires intervention. If you suspect your child is depressed, the first thing to do is to talk to a pediatrician or a family doctor. They will be able to answer your questions and advise you on a course of action. Taken in part from 'Homemaker's Magazine'--Katherine Gougeon; Dr. Mario Capelli (a child psychologist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa), Dr. Tatyana Barankin (a child psychiatrist and head of the Clinic for Children at Risk for Mood Disorders at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto).

The courage and strength of my little friend DIANA inspired me to create this page. I had never before known a child victim of abuse until I met Diana. She is a beautiful girl who does not deserve to be subjected to the emotional & physical abuse which she endures every day of her life. Unfortunately the miles between us prohibit me from taking her out of that nightmare and into a home of peace and comfort. If you know of a child being abused, please do not stand by and do nothing. Please. You just may be the only hope that child has of being free of a needless and intolerable situation.

APRIL is National Child Abuse Month

Please read this heart wrenching poem, sent by Marge, about a little girl named:
My name is Misty
I am but three
My eyes are swollen
I cannot see,
I must be stupid,
I must be bad,
What else could have made
Made my daddy so mad?
I wish I were better
I wish I weren't ugly,
Then maybe my mommy
Would still want to hug me.
I can't speak at all
I can't do a wrong
Or else I'm locked up
All the day long.
When I awake I'm all alone
The house is dark
My folks aren't home
When my mommy does come
I'll try and be nice,
So maybe I'll get just
One whipping tonight.
Don't make a sound,
I just heard a car
My daddy is back
From Charlie's Bar.
I hear him curse
My name he calls
I press myself
Against the wall
I try and hide
From his evil eyes
I'm so afraid now
I'm starting to cry
He finds me weeping
He shouts ugly words,
He says its my fault
That he suffers at work.
He slaps me and hits me
And yells at me more,
I finally get free
And I run for the door.
He's already locked it
And I start to bawl,
He takes me and throws me
Against the hard wall.
I fall to the floor
With my bones nearly broken,
And my daddy continues
With more bad words spoken.
"I'm sorry!", I scream
But its now much too late
His face has been twisted
Into unimaginable hate
The hurt and the pain
Again and again
Oh please God, have mercy!
Oh please let it end!
And he finally stops
And heads for the door,
While I lay there motionless
Sprawled on the floor
My name is Misty
And I am but three,
Tonight my daddy
Murdered me.

There are thousands of kids out there just like Misty. And you
can help. And please pass this poem on because as crazy as it might sound, it might just indirectly change a life. Hey, you NEVER know.

APRIL is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

All the children who are being abused, humbly thank you for your efforts to help them, I'm sure I can say for them.
With Love ~Marge


What is alcoholism?

(Taken in part from ‘Overcoming Addictions’ © 1997 by Deepak Chopra, M.D., ‘Learning to Live Again’ © 1991 by Jill Smith and Brian Smith, ‘Stop Drinking and Start Living’ © 1989 by Stephen E. Schlesinger, Ph.D. and John J. Gillick, Ph.D., ‘Understanding Co-Dependency’ © 1990 Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse and Joseph R. Cruse).

Alcoholism is a term that is frequently used in connection with the abuse of alcohol and its detrimental effects on people’s emotional and physical health. However, it has not been defined in such a way that we can point to a group of specific behaviors and symptoms and say, “This is alcoholism.”

In many ways, the serious study of alcoholism is still in its infancy. We know only a little bit about the many drinking problems that are variously lumped together and called alcoholism. We would like to be able, for example, to explain why some people develop alcohol problems and other people don’t. Unfortunately, we do not really know.
Fear of the past, fear of the future, fear of using the present moment for experiencing real joy—so many fears haunt the ways in which we have become immersed in addictive behaviors. Fear is also a part of many treatment programs for addiction. Yet a fear-based approach cannot be successful for the majority of people over an extended period of time.

The addict is a person in quest of pleasure, perhaps even a kind of transcendent experience; this kind of seeking is extremely positive. The addict is looking in the wrong places, but he is going after something very important, and we cannot afford to ignore the meaning of his search. At least initially, the addict hopes to experience something wonderful, something that transcends an unsatisfactory or even an intolerable everyday reality. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in this impulse. On the contrary, it provides a foundation for true hope and real transformation.
Fully developed alcoholism—that is, alcohol addiction—can be defined more specifically than alcohol dependence, and it can be identified through a limited number of well-documented traits and characteristics:
Prioritizing, Increased Tolerance, Withdrawal Symptoms, Craving, Internal Conflict, External problems.

In the first stage of using alcohol, the subject experiences dramatically reduced stress and lowered levels of tension. Over a period of six months to two years, the alcoholic begins to drink almost every day in order to achieve this experience of relaxation. Typically, he or she has a higher tolerance for alcohol than the average person.

When blackouts or memory losses suddenly begin to appear, the second stage of alcoholism has been reached. The blackouts usually involve intermediate memory, such as activities or conversations that took place during a period of drinking on the previous day. Memories of events both before and after the blackout remain unaffected. During this stage, the subject begins to realize that his or her drinking has reached a new level, and tension or guilt becomes associated with the activity. Drinking may begin to take place in secret.

The third stage is when the drinker moves from more of less controlled intention to out-of-control behavior. The addict now immediately and reflexively responds to tension by drinking, and may even cause or fabricate incidents to justify drinking. Often, the addict begins each day with a drink and spends the evening becoming seriously intoxicated. This state may continue for many years, during which the addict remains able to hold a job and function socially, although close relationships become deeply strained.

The fourth stage is the chronic phase of alcohol addiction, and it is marked by prolonged periods of intoxication. There are serious problems involving physical and mental health, personal and professional relationships, and the police. Even brief withdrawal from alcohol produces unpleasant and frightening symptoms, and the addict drinks in order to avoid them. Tolerance for alcohol abruptly diminishes, and even small amounts of liquor now cause drunkenness.
In this fourth stage, as these people ‘hit bottom’ and feel themselves caught up in total despair, they quite unexpectedly experience a new spiritual awareness. They begin to call upon a higher power to life them out of the depths to which they have sunk. A small percentage of alcoholics even experience a moment of dramatic revelation, similar to a religious conversion, in which they recognize that they are in the hands of some supreme destiny. In other words, they experience a sort of ecstasy. This transcendent phenomenon is as equally well documented as the other stages of the alcoholic disease. Perhaps the disease itself could even be interpreted as a deluded attempt to reach this point—a descent into hell that must precede the vision of paradise.

Alcohol Dependence describes a drinking pattern that is more serious than Alcohol Abuse. Two categories of criteria apply to this diagnosis. The first category contains nine items, three of which must apply to the person:

The person drinks more, or over a longer period of time, than he intended.
The person has a persistent desire, or he has made one or more unsuccessful attempts, to cut down or control the drinking.
The person spends a great deal of time getting his beverage, drinking, or recovering from the effects of drinking.
The person is frequently intoxicated or suffering from withdrawal symptoms when expected to fulfill important obligations at work, home, or school or when drinking is physically hazardous (e.g., drinking and driving).
The drinker gives up or curtails important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of his drinking.
The person drinks continually despite knowing he has a persistent or recurrent social, occupational, psychological, or physical problem that is caused or made worse by the drinking.
The person needs markedly increased amounts of alcohol to get drunk or to get the desired effect, or he experiences less and less effect after continually drinking the same amount.
The person experiences characteristic withdrawal effects, such as uncontrollable shaking; nausea or vomiting; excessive sweating; racing heartbeat; increased blood pressure; headache; inability to sleep; weakness; seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not actually there; unrealistic thoughts, such as being pursued by others; or seizure.
The person often drinks to relieve or avoid the withdrawal symptoms described above.


Prompt treatment minimizes the degree to which alcohol damages the body. Prolonged heavy drinking has very definite negative effects on the drinker’s health.
Prompt attention reduces the amount of social disruption and emotional trauma the drinker and his family suffer. Loss of jobs, financial debts, domestic violence, and child abuse all accompany alcoholism.

If you decide to seek help, the next questions are “Where?” and “How do I find out what I need?” Generally, these questions can be answered best if you can talk with someone who can help you evaluate the seriousness of your problem. This person may be your family physician. It may also be someone at a local alcohol treatment center.

There is no “average” treatment. People should take care to select the types of treatment which best suit them and their drinking problems. This means that people must learn to choose alcoholism treatment services in the same discriminating way they choose their clothes and other products. The general goal of treatment for alcohol problems is for you to learn how to get along comfortably in life without needing to use alcohol.

The first thing that will probably happen when you seek help is that someone will take what is generally called a “drinking history.” It is a necessary first step in treatment because it helps you and the interviewer understand your problems past and present, and decide together on the best course of treatment. The “drinking history” can be collected by questionnaire, generally consisting of several types of questions such as:

What is your chief complaint right now?
What do you usually drink? (Beer, vodka, wine, etc.)
How much do you drink on an average day?
How long have you been drinking that amount?
When did you have your last drink?
When did you start drinking?
When did your drinking become a problem?
How has your drinking caused problems in your life (at home, work, etc.)?
Have you experienced physical symptoms as a result of your drinking? (Pains, shakes, memory lapses, seizures or convulsions, injuries, etc.; has your mind played tricks on you?)
Have you been treated by a physician or at a hospital in the past few years?
Have you been treated for an alcohol problem before?
Why have you come for treatment at this time?
What medical problems do you have at this time?

After the drinking history is completed, a decision can be made about the most appropriate type and sequence of treatment for you. For some people the next step in treatment is detoxification. The best detoxification tool is time. The only way to get alcohol out of the body is to give the liver time to take it out of the blood and break it down. This process might be uncomfortable for you because you could have to put up with some unpleasant effects of withdrawal from alcohol. If the process of withdrawal is merely uncomfortable, detoxification can be accomplished safely in a non-medical setting. Some places have sobering-up stations that help people “dry out” without the aid of medication, and this can be a safe and very effective way to sober up. But for some, the process of detoxification is more complicated. Some people have consumed too much alcohol for too long and experience some serious side effects when they stop drinking. For them, medical supervision of their detoxification is a good idea.

Detoxification deals with the alcohol actually present in the body; rehabilitation deals with drinking behavior. It most often focuses on helping people accept the fact that they have a drinking problem, helping them gain insight into the reasons behind their drinking, and offering them forms of treatment that help them cope with life without drinking.

Heavy drinkers do not continue their drinking because they enjoy it. They continue drinking because they need it to function. Yes, they ‘need’ it. Drinking is one of a number of alternative solutions to problems of living. Perhaps some questions might be helpful. Try asking yourself these:

What would be difficult for me in my life if I never drank again, starting right now?
What would my life be like if it weren’t for my drinking?
What would I have to learn (or change) about myself in order to stop drinking and stay sober?
What would I have to learn to do differently in my life in order to stay sober?
What situations will really test my decision to stay sober?
What obstacles will stand between me and sobriety after I have “dried out”?

People constantly face stress in our modern, complex world. But not all people react in the same manner to the situations in which they find themselves. Some cope quite well; others do not. Some of those who do not may develop psychological problems in response to the stress. Others may learn to cope by drinking. Those who have learned to cope by drinking—and you may be among them—can also learn to cope in more effective and less damaging ways. Do not underestimate your capacity to understand and change the relationship of your drinking to the rest of your life.

“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the people I cannot change; Courage to change the person I can; and the Wisdom to know it’s me!”

Health Organizations regard alcoholism and addiction as a disease, however, that isn’t enough to remove the guilt, embarrassment, and shame for some of us. These confused feelings have hampered us from getting straight in the past and can get in the way again. It is a fact that addiction is not a matter of wear character or lack of willpower. Our disease has affected us physically, mentally, and spiritually, and so we’ve become genuinely sick.
Although addiction is a treatable illness, there isn’t a cure for it. It can be arrested, though. Arresting the disease means “to stop its progress,” and it is the only way to figh this terminal illness. Although our disease is progressive and terminal, it can be arrested no matter how long it has been active. If we have to have a terminal disease, this is one we can live with because we can stop its deadly progress.
You cannot arrest the disease of addiction by yourself. To look at this disease in a half-believing, foggy manner will only send you back to the hell you thought you’d left behind. Begin to check out some local meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Try both “open discussion” and “speaker” meetings to help you to understand which meetings are best for your recovery problem.

For a few meetings, just sit back and listen to the other addicts who’ve been clean and sober for months or years. As they share their relatively contented lives with each other, and discuss their daily problems, try to identify with them. Comparing yourself with others, with thoughts like “I’m not like that person in any way at all,” is being closed-minded. All addicts are alike in one way or another. If nothing else, we are all defiant and rebellious; the word “stubborn” sums it up. Try the way millions of other recovering people are finding solutions; notice how they depend upon each other’s knowledge.

The following statements are promises that will be kept—guarantees—if you keep going to meetings:

You will be clean, sober, and happy.

Your guilt over the past will leave.

You will forgive yourself and others.

You will find peace and serenity.

You will work well with other suffering addicts.

Your “poor me’s” of self-pity will leave.

You will learn to find yourself by forgetting yourself. Your fears and loneliness will disappear.

You will develop a good, positive attitude and outlook on life, filled with gratitude and humor.

You will realize the love and beauty of your Higher Power, and find the strength you’re always sought.

“The light at the end of the tunnel: an addict can’t ‘think’ his or her way into a good living; he or she must ‘live’ a certain way into good thinking.”

IN CLOSING, HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM CO-DEPENDENCY (co-existing dependencies)? The signs, symptoms and complications of the disease are described as follows in the following groups of self-assessment characteristics:


Do you avoid reflecting on unpleasant thoughts?
Are you a Pollyanna about difficulties?
Do you withdraw into reveries to fulfill needs?
Do you exhibit magical thinking or superstitious beliefs?
Are you minimally introspective with a barren inner world?
Do you fabricate events to bolster self-illusions?
If you are not introspective, do you internalize experiences poorly?
Do you minimize?
Do you see things as they are or the way you wished they were?
Are you irritated by others’ assessment of you or the manner in which you behave?
Are you frequently very confused by what’s happening in your life?

Do you have trouble showing your feelings?
Are you phlegmatic and lacking in spontaneity?
Do you procrastinate and put things off?
Do you appear lethargic and lacking in vitality?
Are you emotionally impassive or unaffectionate?
Are you cold and humorless but edgy?
Do you have mood shifts from dejection to anger to apathy?
Are you unable to experience pleasure in depth?
Do you restrain warmth and affection?
Do you vacillate between being anguished and numb?
Do you try to keep emotions under tight control?


Do you seem attracted to risk, danger and harm?
Do you maintain a regulated and highly organized lifestyle?
Are you excessively devoted to work/productivity?
Do you suffer from eating disorders?
Do you suffer from nicotine addiction?
Do you suffer from sexual preoccupation and/or acting out/
Do you suffer from exercise excess?
Do you suffer from gambling and/or spending problems?
Do you have chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom?
Do you actively seek attention and solicit praise?
Are you competitive and power-oriented?
Do you sustain monogamous relationships?
Do you insist others do things your way?
Do you constantly seek recognition and admiration?


Do you volunteer to do unpleasant tasks to gain approval?
Do you anxiously anticipate ridicule/humiliation?
Have you made suicidal threats or attempts?
Do you undermine your own good fortunes?
Do you place yourself in inferior or demeaning positions?
Do you act arrogantly self-assured and super confident?
Do you fail to complete tasks beneficial to yourself?
Do you feel dejected or guilty after positive experiences?
Are you compliant, submissive and placating?
Are you uninterested in people who treat you well?
Do you appear indifferent to praise or criticism?
Do you engage in self-sacrifice and martyrdom?
Do you feel helpless or uncomfortable when alone?
Do you chase after people who treat you poorly?


Do you seem socially aloof and remote?
Do you have difficulty doing things on your own?
Do you tend to socially isolate?
Do you control interpersonal relationships?
Are you relationship dependent?
Do you go to great lengths to avoid being alone?
Do you provoke rejection, then feel hurt or humiliated?
Are you devastated with close relationships end?
Are you fearful of loss or desertion?
Are you drawn to relationships in which you will suffer?
Do you have close friends or intimates?
Do you stay in problem relationships fearing abandonment?
Do you have a pattern of unstable and intense relationships?


Do you show little desire for sexual experience?
Do you frequently worry about your heart, blood pressure or having cancer?
Are you preoccupied about the shape or appearance of your body?
Do you visit a physician frequently for different problems?
Do you have high blood pressure or heart irregularities?
Do you have numerous stomach, bowel and bladder problems?
Do you have numerous headaches, insomnia or backaches?
Have you had actual organ damage—heart attack, ulcers or arthritis?

If you find that many of these characteristics apply to you and are uncomfortable or painful in your life but not disabling, then it might serve you well to speak to someone who can help. Your physician may be able to help you and/or refer you to a treatment program and/or therapist.



Feel you cannot live without him.
Stop seeing other friends or family members, or give up activities you enjoy because he doesn’t like them.
Feel like you have to walk on “eggshells” to keep him from getting angry.
Feel afraid to tell him your worries and feelings about the relationship.
Stop expressing opinions if he doesn’t agree with them.
Feel that you are the only one who can help him and that you should try to change him.
Stay because you feel that he will kill himself if you leave.
Believe that his jealousy is a sign of love.
Believe the critical things that are said to make you feel bad about yourself.
Believe that there is something wrong with you if you don’t enjoy the sexual things he makes you do.
Believe in rigid roles for men and women where a power imbalance may exist.
Remain silent out of fear that you will not be heard or believed.
Feel that you cannot tell anyone about what he is doing to you.
Feel that no one will take you seriously or believe you.


You are not allowed to be friends with others; jealousy is evident.
You are criticized for what you wear and what you do.
Activities like driving fast or doing reckless things are used to scare you.
You must explain where you are and whom you are with at all times.
Others are told about things you did or said that embarrass you or make you feel stupid.
You get hurt or scared when things get “carried away” during horseplay.
You are held down until you give in or feel humiliated.
Anger is expressed about trivial things – like being late for a date or wearing the “wrong” clothes.
Your friends or family are criticized and you are asked to stop seeing them.
Depression or withdrawal are evident but feelings will not be discussed.
Modeling has come from an abusive home.
Anger or violence is heightened due to the use of alcohol or drugs.
You are forced to do anything sexually that you don’t feel ready to do – either by physical force or by putdowns, threats to leave or other emotional pressures.
You are continually told that you are stupid, lazy, fat, ugly, a “slut”, and so on.
Rigid beliefs about what men and women should be and do are held.
Degrading jokes about women are made or flirting with others is done to scare or upset you.
Threats are made to hit you, hurt your friends or pets, or commit suicide if you don’t comply.


If you are injured seek medical attention.

Take time away to think about what has happened.

Assess whether you want to continue with the relationship.

Talk to someone you trust who believes violence is not acceptable in a relationship ie. teacher, school counselor, minister, social worker.


Act in ways that promote your dignity and self-respect.

So long as you don't violate other's rights in the process.

Say no when you want to, without feeling guilty.

Experience and express your feelings honestly.

Respectful treatment is everyone's right.

Take time to slow down and think.

If you need information, go ahead and ask for it.

View your mistakes as allowable and opportunities to learn.

Expect to do less than you are humanly capable at times.

No one can expect you to do your best all the time.

Everyone is entitled to a change of mind.

Seeking what you want is the human thing to do.

See yourself as a worthwhile person.

The following was written by Tara; her feelings & emotions during her relationship with an abusive boyfriend:


My wounds are cut open,
Blood seeping through
The bandage that will no longer hold.
The salt you pour is making it all worse
And all the painful things you say
Make the cut deeper each day.
I sit there and watch
As you sit there and smile
You're happy to see that I'm dying
Your life is now worth while.
You feel as though you're better
Than everyone else you meet.
You hurt me when I want you,
When I turn away you're sweet.
These head games you play
Make me want to run away
Although I stay,
I know I'm slowly dying.
Hurt by you so many times,
And I keep coming back.
You rely on my esteem which I lack.
My wounds are slowly taking over
My body and my mind.
It's gotten so that I'm completely blind.
Therefore I don't see the pain,
I don't see the hurt,
I only see the happiness you gain.
Which is enough to keep me coming back,
Enough to keep me here
At least for a little while
Until I disappear.
I pray that one day you'll let me leave,
You'll let me live again
However, until then,
I'm stuck here with you
And the anguish, and the growing wound.

Child abuse happens at all ages; we must do what we can to stop it.



My name is misty

i am but three,

my eyes r swollen

i cant see,

i must be stupid,

i must be bad,

what else could have made

made my daddy so mad?

I wish i wee better

i wish i werent ugly,

then maybe my mommy

would still want to hug me.

I cant speak at all

i cant do a wrong

or else im locked up

all the day long.

When i awake im all alone

the house is still dark

my folks arent home

When my mommy does come

ill try and be nice,

so maybe ill just get

one whipping tonite.

dont make a sound

i just heard a car

my daddy is back

from charlies bar.

I heard him curse

my name he calls

i press myself

against the wall

i try and hide

from his evil eyes

im so afraid now

im starting to cry

he finds me weeping

he shouts ugly words,

he said its my fault

that he suffers at work.

He slaps me and hits me

and yells at me more,

i finally get free

and i run for the door.

Hes already locked it

and i start to bawl,

he takes me throws me

against the hard wall.

I fall to the floor

with my bones nearly broken,

and my daddy continues

with more bad words spoken

i'm sorry!", i scream

but its now much to late

his face has been twisted

into unimaginable hate

the hurt and the pain

again and again

oh please god have mercy!

Oh please let it end!

And he finally stops

and heads for the door,

While i lay there motionless

sprawled on the floor

My name is Misty

And i am but three

Tonight my daddy






Violence within Lesbian relationships has been a hidden problem. For lesbian women, being abused by a woman partner creates an emphasis upon her lesbian identity and leaves her vulnerable to homophobia and misogyny. Many women view lesbian relationships as a positive alternative to potentially abusive heterosexual relationships. There is an assumption that lesbian women use “egalitarian principles” in their relationships. Given that women are perceived as nurturing and supportive, abusive interactions seem contradictory. There is an added fear that acknowledging lesbian battering will generate even broader negative images about the lesbian community. Lesbian women are often ostracized, discriminated against and seen as participating in sexually deviant behaviour thereby threatening the moral and social fibre of patriarchal society. Homophobia can diminish self-esteem, isolate and add stress to lesbian couples.

-lesbian women come from every race, religion, social, economic background, occupation, political affiliation, age, and ability.
-there are no distinguishing physical characteristics that differentiate lesbian women from heterosexual women.
-many lesbian women are feminists, but feminism is a political perspective that some lesbian women may not share.

Lesbian relationships are never abusive – FALSE
Violence does exist in some relationships despite an assumption that lesbian women are caring and supportive to one another.

Lesbian violence only occurs in “Butch/Femme" Relationships. The “Butch” is the batterer and the “Femme” the victim – FALSE
Most lesbian women do not assume explicitly Butch-Femme roles nor do they automatically impose who has more power or control in the relationship.

Abuse between lesbian women is mutual – FALSE
In violent relationships, there is most often a perpetrator and a victim. A perpetrator cannot be distinguished by any features such as height, size, or age. Defending oneself against a perpetrator does not make one an equal contributor to abuse.

Lesbian violence is caused by substance abuse, stress, childhood violence or provocation – FALSE
Although such factors may help explain why an abuser acts the way she does, there is no simple cause and effect relationship. Abusers have choices and are responsible for their violent behaviour.

Violent and Coercive Behaviours exist in lesbian relationships just as they do in heterosexual relationships. Sexual, physical, controlling, psychological or emotional abuse are all examples. Also, threats and destruction of property exist in abusive lesbian relationships. Homophobic control is a specific of a lesbian relationship; threatening to tell family, friends, employer, police, church community, etc. that the victim is a lesbian is she does (or doesn’t) do this or that; telling the victim she deserves all that she gets because she is a lesbian; assuring her that no one would believe she has been violated because lesbians are not violent; reminding her that she has no options because the homophobic world will not help her.

We are all equal, regardless of our gender choices; we all deserve equal rights and assistance.

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