Sneak Preview

Ever since I started my business, my books, present and future have, and will, center around children. I love children. I love to hear the belly laughs and the giggles. I love to watch them grow and learn to discern the difference between right and wrong and develop the inner consciences that help to make them do the right things. In fact, that’s where my logo comes from: Do the Write Thing! Little play on words, there.

On this blog, however, I address adults and write words of inspiration, health and wellness, personal, business, and (some) opinion pieces. I had never planned on writing a full length book, but I was recently led to do so and have accepted the request. Not too long ago, as some of you may remember, I wrote a series on sexual assault and domestic violence, something that affected me deeply and has stayed on my heart ever since I worked as a Forensic Nurse Examiner. Shortly after the articles were published I received a message that asked “Will you tell my story?” There was no way I could turn away from that message. It has been a jarring experience for both the survivor recollecting these events, and me, as the writer, but we’re doing it. Interestingly enough, I had met her 13 years ago but she didn’t remembered my name. When I told her who I was, there was no going back for either of us. We felt it was God who brought us together, providence if you wish. I’m trying hard to get this work finished; I would say I am close to being half-done. I am going to give you a sneak preview of the book and I hope you like it, as much as you can “like” situations such as this. Remember, NO ONE has to go through this alone. I’m going to include links to the series as well, in case you hadn’t read the articles and want to. I’ll let everyone know when the book comes out. Right now, I am in search of an agent to help get this one off the ground. I didn’t have one before, but I think it’s time.

‘Til Death Do Us Part (Tentative Title)

A true story of toxic love, alcohol, drugs, and abuse

It was a perfect evening, she thought, as the waiter at her favorite Italian restaurant took their orders. She had even been able to carve out some time in the day to have her hair and nails done before dinner. She was way overdue for that. She chose a nail color to complement the new dress from Sax she had just purchased. It seemed there just weren’t enough hours in the day to run her cosmetics business, get to the gym, and run the kids around to their multiple activities. They were so talented that she and her husband just couldn’t deny them the chance to be the best they could be, and they were. Of course, that required even more time to rush around to special lessons, team practices, competitions, concerts, and wherever else their superb talents enabled them to participate. That night was special because it was her birthday, her husband was home from his business trip, and the kids had all agreed to give up one night for the celebration. The three of them had even agreed to dig out their khaki’s and clean, neatly ironed dress shirts for the occasion. 

As he sipped his Dom Perignon, her husband couldn’t take his eyes off his beautiful family, especially her. A perfect manicure. Not a single hair out of place. And that sexy dress…. He could tell her workouts in the gym were paying off. He was so proud of his beautiful, impeccably arranged wife and the three handsome, well-behaved boys surrounding them at the table. 

She caught him looking at her and smiled as their eyes locked. She was so proud of him. Successful businessman, smart, funny, considerate, and not at all hard on the eyes. She was thinking they should have a family picture taken tonight.  

“I said something to you, B____!”

“What?!” Startled, Donna managed to get out the word as Max’s sharp admonition pierced the bubble inside which her fantasy was unfolding. “What did I do”, Donna wondered. “Did I leave the wrong clothes out for him or order the wrong drink for him”? Her mind rapidly scanned everything she could think of that would have raised his ire. 

“You really are stupid, you know. I told you I don’t like Italian.” 

Max’s words stung as she could feel the blood slowly creeping up her face, flushing her complexion with embarrassment as she tried to suppress the tears that were forming in her eyes. Or was it fear? Their son shifted uncomfortably in his chair, looking down to avoid the probing eyes of the other customers. Alex was all too familiar with this scenario, but it never got any easier, especially in public for all to witness.

As Donna’s fantasy faded from her mind’s eye, she forced herself back into the fire of reality.  This was her reality, not that perfect family at the other table, but why couldn’t it be like that for her? 

“I’m sorry”. She apologized. 

Once again, she was taking responsibility for what Max perceived as a failure on her part. Had he told her he didn’t like Italian? Or did he make that up because there was nothing else for him to criticize? These questions summoned up painful childhood memories of abuse, alcohol, drugs and promiscuity. No wonder she allowed herself to be treated this way. It’s all she knew.

Hoping for 1920-1921 publication

Links to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Articles

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/patricschrn.wordpress.com/995

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/patricschrn.wordpress.com/999

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/patricschrn.wordpress.com/1010

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/patricschrn.wordpress.com/1023

This One’s For You, Kids: Bullying Stinks

Hi, Parents. I know that your children do not read articles without a nudge, so I know you will get this first. I’m a bit of a Pollyanna sometimes; therefore, I believe that you will share this with your child and that they will read it. Hope springs eternal! I’m going to touch on a worn-out, but never outdated, subject: bullying. I’m a huge advocate for good mental health, and we all know what being bullied does to a person, so bear with me as I challenge and/or support your child.

Hi, Kids. Oh, I know. You hear about this all the time. It gets so old. But you know what? It can’t get too old. Ever. The dictionary says that when you bully, you “seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce” someone who appears to be vulnerable. Victims of bullies may be smaller, shyer, weaker, younger, or different than other people.

You can’t change these traits if you have them. You are who you are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adjust some a little. For instance, if you don’t think too highly of yourself for some reason, either because of constant criticism from people or your own perceptions of yourself, find some ways to get that self-esteem up. We all have at least one talent where we can say: “Hey, I’m pretty good at this!” Find it, or them, and be proud!

Don’t listen to all that stuff about being able to be anything you want to in life if you just try. They’re lies. (Sorry parents. It’s the truth.) You can be anything that you want to be in life within your own capabilities. Everyone has an IQ and genetic traits that make them good at some things and not so good at others.  I guess I’m sort of smart, but I couldn’t be a brain surgeon, even if I wanted to. I couldn’t pass it. We aren’t all the same. By thinking you can be anything you want if you just try hard enough, you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. If you know in your heart that you are doing the very best that you can, then that’s who you are. You don’t have to be the best, just be the best you.

Try to hang around other people when you can. Loners are easy targets. This might require you to go out of your comfort zone if you are feeling a little socially awkward, at least if you happen to be in bully territory at that moment. Welcome to the club. We have all been there. If you can tolerate that without even more anxiety, it might help. If you can’t avoid it, walk away. Take yourself out of the situation as soon as possible.

If you are being bullied, tell someone. Parents, adult relatives, school counselors, spiritual leaders, any trusted adult. There is help. You do not need to, and should not, go this alone.

If you ARE the bully, knock it off. I have the same advice for you as I gave to the victims of bullies. Work on your self-esteem. Why do you bully? Does it make you feel better than everyone? Are you trying to divert attention from your own weaknesses by shining the light on others? Do you even know that what you are doing is being a bully? Are you being bullied, yourself, by someone older or stronger than you, and this is your way of showing your anger because someone is hurting you? Adults aren’t perfect, either. Tell someone.

Bullying is hurtful, damaging, and just plain wrong, at any age. Parents, your kids have homework. Please share this with them.

No More Bracelets

As many of you know, recently I have been writing awareness articles on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. For various reasons, I feel led to share the stories of survivors of Domestic Violence. I can either write individual stories, or, if I get enough people to respond, I would like to write a book detailing each experience, information on the issue, and how to find help to get out of unhealthy situations. The title will be explained in the book, but it has significant meaning for me from my years as a forensics nurse. Some cases you just don’t forget.

Domestic violence, or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), as it is now known, can be in the form of sexual assault, physical assault, or psychological aggression. I want stories from anyone who has experienced any form of IPV: married or unmarried, woman or man, present or past. I would prefer knowing your real name for the purposes of communication and validity, but it will not be used in any publications or discussed with anyone else. If you want to choose your “name” for your story, please do. I’m not a fan of choosing names. I had a hard enough time doing that for my children’s books, but I will certainly do it for you if you don’t want to pick your own. Your story needs to be told. It may be just the thing you need: to talk about it; or it may be just the thing that someone else needs to hear.

As a nurse, and as a writer, too, I guess, I am obligated to protect information unless a person specifically allows me to share it, so nothing you send me will be shared in any way other than what you have approved. I will accept anything that sounds valid, so I do require that you not send anything that is not a true experience. I will not use profanity. If that’s a part of your story, which it may be, the words will be written as “(word deleted)” so the impact of your sentence will not be lost. As much as I may want to do so, I will not be able to report anyone to law enforcement, but if you are in a dangerous situation, my universal answer would be “Get out of there and call the police.” I will write your story with the details you give me, but if you would like to write your own, that’s fine with me, too. I may have to edit for length. This is new territory for me so I’m not quite sure how it will all unfold, but we’ll work together. Men are encouraged to write.

I also request that you share this post with everyone you know. I would somehow like to reach as many people as possible across the United States. That’s a daunting task, but the more representations I can get, the more helpful this project will be for people in different locations. Please send your stories to me at patricsch@itsallwrite.net. I have a questionnaire I will send you, once you express interest, to help make it easier for you. I think the more “academic” it is, the easier it may be for you to relive painful times.

Friends, I have no idea what I am getting into, but I believe I am being led to do it, and God knows better than I do. If I’m not interpreting His instructions properly, He’ll just use His big hand to squish this thing so it doesn’t happen. There will be no judgments, so let that part go. I hope to hear from you. 

Men Can Be Victims, Too.

This is the third article in my Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence series The first one can be found here and the second here.

Based on surveys, the facts are that most sexual offenses are committed by men against women.  I understand that is not acceptable to hear for some people, so to them I offer a challenge: Be a part of the solution. Help to fix those statistics. Don’t complain about a perceived injustice and then offer no solution. Facts are facts, but facts can be changed, and peer pressure works. Go for it.

Back to business now. What may not be quite as evident is that men are abused, too, both physically, emotionally, and sexually, by women. These disruptions of domestic harmony are referred to as Intimate Partner Violence, or IPV. As far as sexual assaults are concerned, statistically, 9.4 % of women in the United States have experienced a sexual assault, and of those, 51.1% were at the hands of an intimate partner. There are no statistics on how many men experience sexual coercion by an intimate female partner, due to their reluctance to admit the incident ever happened; but we know that it does. According to 2018 statistics, 85 % of domestic violence cases are women, and 15 % of cases are men. Looking at it in a different way, 35.6 % of all women and 28.5 % of all men report being abused, in some way, by an intimate partner.  I’m not a statistician but I am trying to be fair and report it from different angles. There are sets of statistics on incidence of events that have been broken down further into different categories and are quite interesting to review, so please check out the links. Whether it is a woman that is being abused or a man, everyone matters.

IPV, which can be in the form of physical or sexual violence, psychological aggression, or stalking, is a very real and concerning global problem. Society still dictates, openly or more subtly, that men must be the alpha presence in the house, and they should never be shown to be weaker than a woman. Men may be embarrassed; may worry that they will not be considered credible; or may worry that their female counterparts will tell a different story, expecting to be believed over the man, which does happen. Even in this burgeoning age of equality, some unwritten, antiquated standards persist, making men reluctant to report assaults by females.

Men are more likely to use physical force to maintain control over their partners, so injures to women are generally more severe than those that men sustain. Women are not exempt from using violence, but when they do resort to it, it usually consists of throwing things at their partners, kicking, biting or spitting. In extreme cases, a woman may attack a man with a lethal weapon in his sleep, sometimes after years of sustained abuse, so she does not have to face physical retaliation. 

More frequently, however, women use verbal and non-verbal methods to coerce. They can verbally abuse men at home, belittle them in front of friends, family, and colleagues or on social media. Mom may threaten to not let Daddy see his children if he leaves her or reports her to the police. If she controls the purse strings, she can damage their financial situation and run up credit cards. A woman could destroy her domestic partner’s belongings or threaten to harm their children or pets. She can be possessive, unreasonably jealous, suspicious, or spread rumors about him.

It is not doubted that both men and women can use manipulative behaviors or physical force to gain power and control over their domestic partners, but data shows that men are more violent, women more verbally manipulative. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule; these are not absolutes, but that knowledge is there.

The consequences of Intimate Partner Violence extend past the couple involved. Victims (survivors), of domestic violence are at risk for long term health issues such as depression, PTSD, residual effects from physical injuries, and anxiety. These effects have the potential to result in loss of productivity at home or at work, relationship problems with others, financial difficulties related to mental health care, lost wages from time off work, health care, and possible legal costs. If there are children involved, things can be scary and complicated for them, too.  

These can be frightening times, but no one needs to go through them alone. Man or woman, you are of value to your family, your friends, and yourself. Seek help at an Emergency Room if needed for treatment and/or documentation of the incident, call the Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233., and enter ongoing counseling to help you cope. But whatever you do, get out and get help. I have heard the complaint that there is no place for men to get help and that is not true. The hotline is for everyone. This link speaks to violence specifically against men. There is help for anyone who chooses to want it. Please want it.

Tell Me Why?

This is the second in a series on Sexual Assaults

For the purposes of this series, perpetrators of sexual offenses will be referred to in the masculine gender, as the majority are committed by men against women, but this is not the only scenario. Since it would be cumbersome to try and incorporate all the possibilities into the articles, it will be written as men against women, with no offense to the male population intended. This is not in any way indicative of men’s behavior in general, just speaks to a small segment of the population.

We are complex, each with our own brains, genetic make-up, and life experiences, all of which work together to form unique characteristics, but do you ever wonder what thought processes drive the decisions we make preceding each action we take? Every decision has a reason, from something as simple as deciding what to wear in the morning all the way up to the complexity of deciding to commit a crime. No matter how minor, all actions serve a purpose. This is the reason we analyze the thoughts and behavior of criminals, to see what makes them “tick”. (“Criminal Minds”, anyone?)

Up until the 20th century, it was believed that if a man was overstimulated, he would lose control in the presence of a woman, effectively absolving him of all responsibility in a non-consensual encounter. It was around this time that the feminist movement was born, directing more attention to women as victims instead of contributors to the situation, and research into this type of crime found a voice. In 1979, psychologist Nicholas Groth published his book Men Who Rape, a compilation of information gleaned from studying several hundred rapists incarcerated throughout the Massachusetts penal system. He concluded from his studies that the motivations behind sexual assaults had less to do with sexual desire and more to do with sadism, anger, or the desire for power. He called them “pseudosexual acts” and said that they constitute “sexual behavior in the primary service of non-sexual needs.” Although his conclusions were based on empirical evidence, this important research laid the groundwork for further studies into the minds of rapists, and his conclusions persist today.

Sexual assaults are acts of violence, not sex. Perpetrators feel they are entitled to another person’s body regardless of consent. Many start young, around college age. Certainly, rapists are not confined to the college population, but a college setting is ripe for these encounters to occur. Alcohol is flowing, inhibitions are inhibited, and peer pressure is overwhelming. Alcohol and drugs are often used as a means of incapacitating women, and men are more likely to commit sexual assaults if they are surrounded by those who approve of, and even encourage, the behavior

Rapists’ backgrounds are diverse, but there are some commonalities among them. Most, but not all, are unrepentant, and therefore more likely to repeat their crimes. They may attempt to justify what they did without taking responsibility, blaming the victim because of her clothes, alcohol, drugs, being out late, her behavior, or an archaic belief that “no” really means “yes”, etc. In their minds, it’s never their faults. They may even admit to non-consensual sex, but either do not know, or will not admit to themselves, that what they did was defined as rape. They may associate with others who either have committed sexual assaults or who are supportive of this behavior.

Some men have anti-social tendencies and have little regard for the laws and social norms. These people are not deterred by the threat of punishment, or even believe it will come to that. They may be self-centered, manipulative, less empathetic, and have a low regard for women.

Studies continue into this subject, including a new project on the rape culture in Hollywood. Since the #MeToo movement started in 2017, multitudes of complaints have come out of Hollywood about sexual assaults. The deadline for submissions ended on April 30th, but papers were being solicited for information on any aspect of sexual assault in Hollywood. Awareness of the scope of this problem and continued study into the psychological factors that lead to these crimes are essential to reducing the numbers of victims and the rehabilitation of offenders.

Video Games and ADHD: Friends or Foes?

Kids love gaming, but does gaming love them? Video battles are tons of fun, but how much is too much? What parent hasn’t worried about how much screen time their kids are getting at some point? According to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), greater than 9% of American Children ages 2-17 have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivity). Canadian studies have found the rate to be 5.4% among children and youth. Regardless of the numbers, the fact remains that it’s a problem. ADD/ADHD is a multi-faceted, complex problem, so where do video games fit within the puzzle?

Parents may be relieved to learn that it has been shown that video games do not cause ADD/ADHD. There is, however, a new malady that has been identified by the American Academy of Pediatrics: IGD, or Internet Gaming Disorder, and children with ADD/ADHD can easily find themselves fitting into this category. It is a diagnosis that is being researched further, but If you know anyone who has an addiction, either substance or behavioral (gambling), then you probably know the signs: unhealthy pre-occupation with gaming; inability to stop; withdrawal symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, and irritability when it is taken away, loss of interest in other activities; using it to escape problems; compromising relationships; “closet” gaming; etc. Research shows that up to 8.5 % of kids in the United States aged 8-18 meet the criteria for IGD.

Even though it has been established that playing video games does not cause ADD/ADHD, according to psychiatrist Dr. Perry Renshaw of the University of Utah, heavy gamers are more likely to suffer from this or from depression. Parents sometimes wonder: if their child has this ADD/ADHD, how can he/she can sit in front of a screen and concentrate on a game so well? They can even question the diagnosis. So, why is this, and what draws these children to video gaming?

For one thing, the constant lights, sound, and action are stimulating, and the movements are so fast that they must pay attention to what they are doing in order to accomplish the goals of the game. This is where children like this are “at”. They like lots of fast-paced activity that holds their attention. Classrooms, on the other hand, are no so exciting, and their minds drift off because they are not being stimulated enough.

Sometimes children with ADD/ADHD have problems with socialization and may have low self-esteem because they are constantly getting in trouble, even though they really can’t control their impulsivity. In the game, they’re often good, and they get instant, positive feedback. They accomplish goals, which they may have difficulty doing in life. Some research even suggests that certain games, especially the shooting ones, may improve children’s spacial skills, and help to prepare them for careers in science and technology. On the other hand, the gaming verbiage with opponents can tend to be a little rough, sometimes, and this may lead to rage and worsening self-esteem.

In conclusion, even though gaming does not cause ADD/ADHD, children affected by this disorder are drawn to video games, putting them more at risk for IGD, which is unhealthy for any child. Here is a good question to ask yourself: is your child controlling the screen or is the screen controlling your child? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests one hour of total media exposure a day for elementary age children and two hours for those in secondary schools. If your child is exceeding this, it may be time to review media rules.

This is a re-post of my article in
http://www.agoracosmopolitan.com/news/health/2019/04/30/13730-video-games-and-adhd-friends-or-foes.html