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i lost another sister today. Tanya Shattuck-Williams died today. Tanya was my nephews foster-mother. for the past few years, she’s been family. She was a really sweet, warm girl. She was a wonderful mother to my nephew. She fit into our family well, she treated my parents they like were her own from the start, as they did her. We felt really lucky that she wanted us to be able to be as involved as possible with my nephew, because in these cases like that, it’s totally up to the foster parent. It was like something finally went right. She was great with him and loved us and we were all a family. There were also her two other girls (her husband’s girls) Allison and Arianna, both under the age of 12. the girls, Tanya’s mother and sister, they all became extended family. My heart goes out to all of them, and everyone else that knew and loved her.

i am sad. i am heartbroken for my nephew. he lost another mother today. he’s four. he has already lost one and thankfully, isn’t near old enough to understand what happened to her. he knows her by picture, he’ll tell you that’s his mother. tanya taught him that. but what actually happened, the whole tragic story, that would all come later, and that was good. he’s been with tanya for three of his four years. tanya is his mother. he loves her. this one, he will feel. he will know. he always wants his mommy even after a short stay away, and he will cry for her. it is heartbreaking.

i almost wrote the title of this post as a facebook status. and then thought better of it. as it turns out, i have a lot of religious people on my friends list. i wouldn’t want to offend anyone, at least not without at least explaining first. i’ll still use this title as my status, but if you dislike it, at least you can read my argument. then condemn me, if you would have anyway.

i’ve written about religion before. i’ve never been convinced with the whole idea of god, it’s a complex issue. thinking about it today i think its in part because then i would have to believe that everything happens for a reason. Or, maybe more that it is somehow God’s Plan. especially when someone dies, you hear this a lot. God’s Plan? i cant even really think about this. i cant believe that. i will not believe that. because if i were to believe that were true, and he not only allows but plans the kinds of horrible, violent, heartbreaking things that happen to people, then i would have to believe that he is a cruel God. Christians believe that God sacrificed his own son to be tortured and killed to save us. they say he knows your pain. that he makes you stronger, he helps you heal. but i don’t know anyone who has felt these kinds of pains, that wouldn’t want to spare it to someone, anyone, everyone else if they could. so if God, being almighty and merciful, overtly does not, doesn’t this make him a vengeful, spiteful God? who, based on faith alone, would even want to believe in something like that? not me.

i don’t really know what i believe. i am reflective on the idea of a spiritually supreme being of some sort, but i don’t believe it to be a God in any Christian sense of the word. i like the idea of there being some sort of spiritual realm, although i couldn’t possibly fathom anything about it. if there were some sort of higher power in it, i highly doubt it chooses or plans anything that happens in our daily lives down here. wouldn’t it make more sense that we would sort-of be like ants in an ant farm? we’re all busy, fast-paced and small down here, and they have a vast universe to float and expand in an eternity of peace? that sounds a hell of a lot more comforting to me. isn’t comfort one of the main reasons for faith in the first place? who’s to say though? it’s still only relevant after you die.

what i believe in, is that there is no why or reason or sense to most of what happens to people. it’s tragic, and heartbreaking, and unfair, and just is. sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it sucks, and sometimes it breaks you. and it probably will again.

i am bitter, i suppose. my dad always told me growing up, “life’s not fair”. this was mostly because my sister and i always had to have everything even, or one would complain that the other got more, or longer, or whatever. one of us would yell, “but that’s not fair!”, and we would always get back “life’s not fair!”. (this taught me that when something kinda stinks and you don’t like it sometimes you just gotta get over it if it’s not a big deal.) But I do think it is sort of instinctual to want to cry out at an injustice. when you feel you are wronged. or when you feel someone else was very wronged. i feel like crying out. this is not fair. not for her parents and her sister, i know all too well how deeply this aches. not fair for my nephew, the girls, or my family who just went through this a few years ago… it’s just too much. it’s just too soon. it’s just not fair.

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Rest in Peace, Tanya. You will be deeply missed. We love you.

seasons passing

is it possible that almost another whole year has gone by? seasons have come and gone. a winter of heartache, with as many tears as snowflakes. a spring of sunshine and new experiences; a new home, new people, new places. of laughing again. of fun. a time of emotional rebuilding. and then drama. and stress. a summer of escape. a short-term home with friends. of drinks by the pool. of concerts, bon fires and softball. of professional failure. of new love, and another new home.

fall has come in like a lion. what started sunny and peaceful shifted suddenly to cold. to betrayal. to hurt and confusion… to reflection.

i remember this time last year, and the direction i know now that it was headed. the winter that was to come. and i wonder where this winter is headed.

i think of my sister. reflection always leads to thoughts of her. being October, and Domestic Violence Awareness month, i am particularly thoughtful on this topic. my sister must have felt heartache. i wonder if in her final seconds she knew. if she knew that the man she loved and had given everything to, was committing the ultimate betrayal. i wonder if she was angry. or just sad. or, if in the Lifetime movie spirit kind of way- forgiving.

i wonder if that is possible. and i wonder, what betrayals are forgivable?

abuse is never forgivable, but that is not what i mean. what hurt, which lies, what kind of betrayals are forgivable? should any be? as an idealist, should you refuse to forgive those who lie and betray you because you respect yourself enough to demand better? or as a realist, who understands human nature and behavior, is it inevitable that everyone at some point will hurt or lie or betray you in some way, and so forgiveness -at least of some- is too, inevitable?

Two years ago today was the worst phone call of my life. I remember that night like it was yesterday. It was April 9th 2008, around 6:30pm. I was at my apartment in Wilton with Josh, my boyfriend at the time. I was standing at my sink, rinsing off a pound of macaroni. I was making tuna mac salad. It was seasonably warm for April, and I always celebrate the start of the warm weather seasons by making tuna mac salad. It puts me in high spirits.

The phone call came from one of my sister’s best friends. She asked me if they had found her. She meant Angela, my sister. I told her that I didn’t think so, that I hadn’t heard anything. She told me she had a friend who was a neighbor where my sister had been living. He had just called her, telling her that there were police at her trailer, and he had seen them take something out from underneath it. She said “Oh my god I hope it isn’t Angela”.

My parents had reported Angela missing to the police the day before, April 8th 2008. We had been trying to get in touch with her for about a week prior to that day. My parents had received a voicemail from my sister’s husband’s mother, saying that Angela and Art had been evicted; that he was moving home and that Angela had left him, but hadn’t taken her things with her and my parents needed to come get it. We hadn’t heard from her about this. Neither had anyone else- no one that we knew, anyway. It hadn’t really been unusual for us not to hear from Angela for lengths at a time over the previous several years. She didn’t always have a cell phone, and when she did, she rarely had minutes to use it. She didn’t have a car most of the time.

But my parents were worried. We called around to the few numbers that we had for her friends, asking them to let us know if they saw or heard from her. I posted messages online to old friends I knew who were still around the Hudson area, asking if anyone had seen her, and to keep an eye out for her. I was a little nervous, but knowing Angela I honestly expected to end up finding out she had been hiding out on some random friend’s couch, without thinking to call any of us to fill us in. This wouldn’t have seemed unusual. We figured if that were the case, she would show up at her family court date on the 8th. She had been looking forward to that date. She had been reminding us of it for months. When she didn’t show up there, my parents expressed their concern to the judge, and their intention to file a missing person’s report. The judge, also concerned, ordered a follow up in case my parents failed to file.

I told Angela’s friend that I would call her back. I was slightly incredulous at that point. But unsure. My sister’s friends haven’t always been the reliable information type. They were more the gossip and blow-up-information-to-make-it-more-dramatic type. I called my parents. I hesitantly asked my mother when she answered if they had heard anything, because I got a call saying that the police had found something underneath her trailer. I’ll never forget the sound of my mother’s voice on the phone that night. She has always had an expressive voice. It shakes when she is scared. It cracks when she is upset. My mother took a shaky breath and said yes. That there were policeman at their house, and they were saying that they had found someone at the trailer, but they weren’t sure if it was Angela. She told me that they were still talking to them, and that she would call me back.

I started pacing. I paced a lot that night. My mother called me back not long after. She had her trying-to-keep-it-together voice on. A little shaky, with some cracking and more than the normal amount of breaths. A tone I have become very familiar with over the last two years. She told me that they were going up to the hospital to identify the body they found, and that she would call me afterward. She later called to tell me that it was in fact Angela.

I was in shock, I think. I paced. I repeated “oh my god” at least a few hundred times. I would get flushed, have to take my green hoodie off and go outside. And then I would get cold, put my hoodie back on, and go inside. And then I would get claustrophobic, and go back outside. Josh would hug me and I would feel confined. I would back out of it. I would pace some more.

I called my sister’s friend back. I called my best friend Katie, who lived in the next building. I had Josh leave for the night. I was going to go to my parents the minute I woke up. He didnt want to leave, but he did. Katie came over for awhile. We watched the story on the news.

My sister had been under that trailer for over a week. For over a week while we looked for her, while we wondered where she was, she was already dead. Beaten, half naked and rolled in a blanket, lying beneath a trailer in Claverack.

I hadnt talked to my sister in almost two months. Not since before her husband was released from jail in February. Before that, she and I had been talking fairly often. She was staying at my grandmother’s and had internet access, so we would speak through AIM or Mypace almost daily. I knew that when her husband was released, I wouldnt be hearing from her much. She was going to be renting a trailer in claverack, and she wouldnt have internet there.

This article, Police Find Woman’s Body is from two years ago, the day after they found her. At the end of it, it references her myspace page, and comments I’d left her that February and March, after she had gone off with her husband and stopped calling or speaking to us.

I left her two comments during that time. I am haunted by these comments. Especially the last one I left. I was mortified that they were referenced and even linked to from this article. To spare you the trouble of navigating a myspace page (does anyone even still use their myspace accounts anymore?) these were my comments:

Mana Feb 18 2008 9:59 PM
should have known you’d disappear as soon as the crack head got out of jail…

Mana Mar 4 2008 9:55 PM
hope you’re not dead in a ditch somewheres…

When I left that last comment, I had no idea of the context that would take later on. I was being facetious. Flippant. And it haunts me still, two years later. It will haunt me always.

Memories are funny things. The way they can feel like they were so long ago and yet at the same time feel as fresh as if they had just happened.

I never finished my tuna mac salad that night. At some point the pound of pasta went into a bowl and into the fridge, where it stayed during the next couple of weeks that I spent in Chatham with my parents. For the last week or more at this point, I have been talking about making some. Warm weather has come to Saratoga- and I have been excited, like always, to celebrate the start of the warm weather with the first batch of the season. But I have not had the time. As fate would have it, today I find myself with the time. I consider it. But I will not make it. Not today.

My sister, Angela DeLyser Morgan was murdered two years ago today. Or maybe yesterday. We will never really be sure. Either way, it is a very sad anniversary.
ange

I am reminded of my sister all the time. My parents live in the same house that we spent the majority of our high school years in. I go home to visit them every weekend. My sister’s old room is now a bedroom for my nephew- her son, when he visits, as he does often. Her picture hangs in his room. He looks so much like her, at times it seems almost unbelievable. These are obvious reminders. I can picture her sitting in the living room, or running up and down the stairs. I can feel her presence in the memories of past events and old stories my parents and I recall. She was always there.

There are less obvious reminders. Sometimes it’s as simple as being asked a variation of the question, “do you have any siblings?” I had a client come into the office just the other day. We chatted briefly as I showed him to the conference room and got him some coffee. He thought I looked familiar, and was trying to place me. He asked me if I had a sister. I hesitated. I always hesitate at this question now. I have to choose what I think is the most appropriate response. This time, I responded with “no”.

At first, any time I was asked this question I kind of stumbled and would answer a little pathetically with something like “I did, yes” or “not anymore”, which inevitably begs the bigger question, “what happened?” Or sometimes, just resulted in an awkward apology from someone who was confused but too shy or too respectful to ask me about it. I have one of those faces where strangers often think they know me, or know someone who looks just like me. Such was the case with the client the other day. And while I feel that it is best in these situations to simply avoid the story, the apology and potential awkwardness, answering no still felt like a betrayal to her memory.

There are even less obvious reminders. Any time I see an old picture of Kate Walsh. When Cher comes on the radio. Last week my roommate asked me if I wanted to go to church with her on Easter. Even this reminds me of her.

I immediately declined the offer. I told her I “don’t do the whole church thing”. It made me take note of how quick I am to dismiss the whole subject in general. In a way, I admire the power of faith and the peace that comes with believing in something bigger and more important than yourself. I see a lot of good in believing in a higher purpose, or in places like heaven, or the afterlife. But there are things I simply can’t believe in. Or maybe rather, simply would never want to. The idea that one man died for the sins of every man to come. That an “all merciful God” allowed his son to be tortured to death. Who then, for thousands of years, would allow the people who love him to be treated in thoughtlessly brutal and terrifying ways is just a completely repulsive idea to me.

But my sister believed in God. At least, I’m fairly certain sure she did. We both attended the First Reformed Church in Chatham as children. We went to Sunday School every week, and the church service afterward with my grandmother. We sang in the choir, we preformed in the plays. When I got to be about eleven or so, my parents let us decide for ourselves if we wanted to continue going on a regular basis. I didn’t. Angela did. She went every week. She later went on to be baptized and confirmed through the church. I don’t really know what her specific beliefs were.. we never talked about it. I was happy to not be involved and I think she was happy to have something that was her own.

My grandfather on my father’s side died in May of 2007, about a year before Angela. Many of the Chatham Central School faculty, and the First Reformed church congregation attended his services. I stood next to my sister at the front of the greeting line. I was the first person you met as you came up to the casket. I hardly recognized a person there. But Angela remembered every one of their names. She whispered them to me as they came up in line- both their names and where we knew them from- so I would be able to greet them properly. She was warm and open-hearted with them, and they had so many nice things to say to her. I remember her vividly like this.

Less than a year later, standing at the front of the greeting line at her services, I saw many of the same faces. They all had lovely things to say to me, about her.

It is two years later and I am still just learning of some of the effects that losing my sister has had on me. I believe this will be a feeling I will have for many years to come. Last year, it made me think about life in general in a totally different light. I’m still adjusting the ways I choose to use that insight to enrich my life and better myself. I’ve found it can all too easily take you in the other direction if you’re not paying enough attention. I am paying more attention. More recently, I am learning the effects that it has had on my heart. The way that my brain now processes functions related to those matters. I keep a safe distance now. I think in a way, I am scared to get too close to anything that I might lose. I hold on more tightly to those things and those people who have claimed a place in my heart. I cling to them desperately. This fear of loss I’ve developed has, at times, felt overwhelming.

So now, as I reflect on Angela’s life, the loss of her and the effect that has had on my life, as well as upon those of my family and her friends, I decide I will be less fearful. Fear has a cunning way of holding you back. My sister knew fear. So I decide I will have the courage to use the wisdom of my perspective to keep fear from strangling me. From stunting me. I will not be afraid to try new things. I will not be scared to push myself. To do more. To be better. I will aim high regardless of the fall. I will give myself fully. I will love openly. And I will lose, occasionally. Maybe more. And my heart will ache. But I will have tried more, done more, loved more. I am still here, and they will still be with me, as Angela is. I remember. I reflect. I revise. I am still here. And I go on.

Rest in Peace, Angela. I love you.

Penelope Trunk is one of my favorite bloggers. I read her blog religiously. She writes career advice for the young generation in the new workplace. Shes a PR genius, and holds nothing back about herself. She’s smart, honest, and totally addicting.

Recently, she tweeted a comment that caused an uproar in the media world, as well as severe backlash among readers, which made headlines on such powerhouse news networks as CNN, ABC and AOL. This was her tweet:

“I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.”

In response to the uproar, she posted this blog to defend her tweet on this topic, to which she says “That it is such a common occurrence and no one thinks it’s okay to talk about is terrible for women.” This blog post has received 701 comments (so far) in response. Some are outraged responses at her casual mention of having a miscarriage at work- which they consider to be inappropriate and TMI, some are furious about her flippant attitude about seeking an abortion, and others defend her courage to talk about real things women are going through that no one else talks about.

I’m not here to talk about her blog post, but this got me thinking. There are a handful of emotional, highly controversial social issues that are really important to me, personally. They’re all way more common than most people want to believe, but they aren’t being talked about. From miscarriages, to abortions, to domestic violence, to childhood sexual abuse.. it’s unnerving to realize that all of these are heavily women’s issues. This is not to say, by the way, that I am ignorant enough to believe that only women are victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse- but largly, the majority of those affected here are women.

Statistics back this up, although these issues in particular are difficult to get firm numbers for, because a majority of cases are never reported. Especially when it comes to domestic violence or childhood sexual abuse. Because.. no one talks about them.

In Forward, 1993 it was estimated that there were 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America at the time. And that was 16 years ago. The majority of childhood sexual abuse victims are under age 12.

In 2003, the National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control said that an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assult by an intimate partner each year. A 2006 poll by the Allstate Foundation states that nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is, or has been a victim of domestic violence.

From 1967 to September 2008, there were approximately 50,200,000 abortions performed in the United States. The Alan Guttmacher Institutes reported in 2008 that roughly one third of women will have an abortion during their reproductive lifetime.

We are talking about millions of women who have shared experiences with these topics – so why aren’t more women talking about them??

Because of the social stigma, of course. That keeps those involved under a shadow of shame and guilt. Sharing human experiences should be empowering, but this stigma instead creates a feeling of being publicly victimized. Why the stigma? How did we get to a place where such hugely common topics are so clouded with ignorance? How does this evolve?

BECAUSE NO ONE HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT THEM!

I applaud Penelope for opening up the conversation. We need to start talking. I’m going to tell you why. We have a responsibility. To ourselves, to other women, to our children, to our future generations to have a real platform for, and give a real voice to conversations. To sharing these experiences.

I’ve had a miscarriage as an adult. It happened the day after I found out I was actually pregnant. It was really early, just six weeks. Had I not gone to the doctor because I thought I was getting sick, I wouldn’t even have really known I was pregnant when it happened. I went to the doctor again, and confirmed what I already knew. Having spoke to friends about it after, I know there are other women who have had early term miscarriages and didn’t even realize it. I won’t go into detail about how you can know the difference, but there are ways (and if you are a woman, you know should about them!). My point is, those friends wouldn’t have known, and probably wouldn’t have seen a doctor to make sure they weren’t at risk for an infection- had we not spoke about my experience with it.

I’m also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It was a distant family member, but I never told anyone in my family about it. Until last year. Last year, the family found out that two of my older cousins (who are brother and sister) were also sexually abused by this same family member, when they were children. They just told their parents. When I heard, I spoke to my cousin about it. And then later, my Aunt. I wasn’t ready to tell my parents at the time, it was an extremely difficult and emotional time for my family. Which we will get to. But last month, I told my parents too, and I am relieved. And now, maybe, in the near future when emotions are settled (that’s a whole other blog post) we can have those honest conversations with the whole family.

As far as my cousins go, I understand why they never said anything to their family, after all- I had never said anything to mine either. It’s the stigma. The shame and the guilt that you feel even though you know you shouldn’t feel it. The victimization of it. My cousins’ experiences were a lot worse than mine. I empathize with them in a way that I never would have if we didn’t share this kind of experience. I understand them in a totally different way. And now we’re talking about it. I was fortunate, when I was younger, I had friends I spoke about it with. I also had friends with stories of their own, like mine. It took them years to tell their parents too. This happens to millions of children.

What if when, my cousins were little, there was no “that doesn’t get talked about” attitude? What if there were free and open conversation about this among families and friends. Why aren’t children given the opportunity to discuss it more? If they had, my cousin would have been long gone before he got to me. I don’t fault them, I would never, because I understand them. But, I want better than that for my children, and for all future generations.

We need to start talking.

Domestic Violence claimed the life of my sister, Angela last year. Angela had been a victim of her husband’s abuse for quite some time. But she would never admit to it. Even with a face full of bruises, she would claim she fell on the ice. There is the stigma of guilt and shame attached to women involved in domestic violence as well. So they don’t talk about it. I tried to get my sister to talk to me, but I did it in all the wrong ways, and she never would. I had recently moved out of town, and though I heard talk about it, I had no idea how serious the situation had been.

During the trial I heard stories of how bad it had been between them at various times throughout their relationship. A neighbor had seen him fling my sister into the street onto the ground while she was several months pregnant. He threatened her and made her call family members in the middle of the night asking to borrow money, because he needed to buy drugs. He hit her in front of other people, then acted like it didn’t happen. He choked her and threatened to kill her in public. He dragged her by the throat through their house while their newborn was in the apartment. There were lots of things.

No one ever talked about it though. The defense asked the witnesses why they didn’t call the police during those instances, and most of them testified that they just didn’t, they didn’t feel it was their business. Some that Angela had asked them not to, as that would only make it worse. So it didn’t get talked about.

You always feel like there was so much more you could have done, if you’d known. But we should know. We should have been talking about it, really talking about. Her friends should have been talking about it, we should have been able to make her feel like she could talk about it, with all of us. If we had all been that way from the start- things could have been different.

The social stigma, the “forbidden topics” have to end. Yes, people will disagree, yes they are emotional and controversial topics, but we need to get over it. And we need to learn how to deal with it effectively.

We aren’t talking. We need to start talking. And we need to start listening too. We need open, honest conversation. We need to try to create an atmosphere of support and non judgment. That acceptance comes from understanding, and THAT comes from conversation and shared experience.

So People, Ladies, Everyone. Please. Start talking.

my sister, Angela DeLyser Morgan was murdered one year ago today. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around that concept, but it seems impossible that an entire year has passed. twelve months, four seasons, a full set of Holidays and birthdays and regular days filled with the triumphs and heartaches of joys of the every day. yet I feel as though everything that has happened since last spring is hazy, but the pain and surreal horror of what happened is as fresh as it was only days old. my sister has missed an entire year of her young son’s life. a year of hugs and catching up at family functions, a summer of sunny days spent outside, a fall of apple picking and a wintertime of baking and Christmas caroling, which she loved.

sometimes its hard for me to really imprint on myself that my sister is gone, and not just out of touch. I have to remind myself that she was murdered. her life was taken suddenly and violently by a man that had no respect for her life or the life of their son. I have to remind myself that what happened to her happens far too often to far too many people who just don’t believe that their situation is “that bad”. Who don’t believe that something like this can actually happen to them, to their friends, to their family.

when I first heard about the abuse I shook it off. I thought; people fight, sometimes they lose their tempers.She didn’t want to leave him, so I let myself believe that it couldn’t be that bad. I myself have been in relationships where the arguing has escalated into fighting that would leave bruises on my arms and legs for days or weeks at a time. I saw how it could happen. I condemned her husband for it in my head, a weak man that has to exert his power and control by physically dominating someone smaller and weaker than himself. It’s pathetic. After time, I tried talking to her about it as well, but she would deny it and defend him and I considered her pathetic for that as well.

the one thing I can assure anyone who knows anyone in this kind of situation is that if something were to happen to them, you probably can’t imagine how guilty you will feel. I have trouble expressing the amount of guilt I feel, on so many fronts, about what happened to my sister. I feel guilt about the contempt I showed her when I found out, instead of the compassion and support she needed. I feel guilty about not paying enough attention to what was happening to know how serious it was. I feel guilty for not being someone she felt she could trust with this. Mostly I feel guilty for not knowing enough about how to help her when it could have mattered.

so in memory of my sister, I have put together some information on Domestic Violence I think everyone should know. I urge anyone in an abusive relationship, and anyone who knows anyone who may be in an abusive relationship to get educated and get help. because it really can save lives. Domestic Violence is EVERYONE’S business.

If you are in an Abusive Relationship:

If you’re being abused, document the abuse. If you’ve been hurt, take pictures. If others have witnessed the abuse, ask them to write it down what they saw or heard. If you are being assaulted or your partner is breaking the law– call the police.

Identify safe areas of your house. Know where to go if your abuser attacks. Avoid small enclosed spaces with no exits, like bathrooms, or rooms with easily accessible weapons, like the kitchen.

Have a code word. Come up with a word, phrase or some kind of other signal that you can use with friends, neighbors or co-workers if you are in danger and in need of the police.

Make a list of emergency contacts and memorize them. Identify several trusted friends, family members or coworkers who you could contact if you need a ride, a place to stay, or someone to contact help for you. Memorize the number of a domestic violence hotline, and a local shelter.

Make an escape plan. Keep some cash stashed somewhere safe. If you need to leave in a hurry, have a small amount of cash on you for cab fare, public phones or other needs. Keep a spare car key hidden someplace you can get to it quickly. It is also a good idea to have an escape kit stashed at a friend’s house consisting of cash, clothing, and any important documents.


Know your rights
. Familiarize yourself with the laws set forth for Domestic Violence in your state:

Domestic Violence Arrest Policies by State

Information on Civil Protection Orders by State

Standards of Proof for Domestic Violence Civil Protection Orders

If you know someone in an abusive relationship:

Listen – Victims of domestic violence have trouble talking about what their experiencing for fear of being judged, rejected, or betrayed.

Believe – Domestic violence occurs within every social strata, is never acceptable and it is serious. don’t downplay the situation.

Assure them they are not to blame – Many victims of domestic violence are made to believe that they are to blame for their abusers actions. Tell them they do not deserve to be beaten, nor did they cause the violence.

Support without dominating – Encourage them to see that they still have choices and support them in the choices they make. don’t tell them what to do, don’t yell at them for doing what you consider the wrong thing. Let them know what you think, but let them know you want to help.

Be there – Supporting a victim of domestic violence can be demanding, but victims need to know that you will not desert them, further making them feel as though they are alone and helpless.


Get Help
:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states. ndvh@ndvh.org

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Serves as a national information and referral center for the general public, media, battered women and their children, allied and member agencies and organizations

WomensLaw.org – Provides thorough, easy-to-understand legal information and resources to women living with or escaping domestic violence or sexual assault.


What you can do
:

Donate a Phone:

Call To Protect – The national CALL TO PROTECT program enables people to retire their wireless phones in a manner that will help the environment and raise funds for national organizations working to end partner violence.

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Other Posts about My Sister:

Dear Ange

My Victim Impact Statement

the sentencing hearing of my sister’s husband is less than two weeks away. convicted of second degree murder, his exact sentence will be given February 20th 2009, just under a year after my sister’s murder. before sentencing, family members of the victim are allowed to submit what are called Victim Impact Statements to the Judge, which he is allowed to consider when determining an appropriate sentence.

almost everyone in my family wrote one. we submitted eleven Victim Impact Statements to the District Attorney’s Office. this, i am told, is quite a lot. i read all of the victim impact statements my family members submitted this weekend, and i am revisited by an aching sorrow for the pain felt by so many.

my six year old cousin insisted on writing her own statement. she dictated it to her mother and instructed her to send it just as she had spoken it. i am in awe of this child. here is her statement – written exactly as she instructed:

Angela’s husband should be in jail for 10,000 months because we are sorry that Angela died. He could have hurt the baby. What he did was wrong. What he did was bad; he should be in jail for a super long time! Angela was my cousin and you should respect that. I miss her a lot and you should respect that because you [judge] love others too. -Sophia

my own impact statement was much harder to write, which i was surprised at. much of what i have been writing about has stemmed from what happened to my sister, so i thought the words would come easily for me. they did not. i’m not satisfied with the statement as a whole at all, but the mere fact that i was able to get it written felt like an accomplishment.

here is my Victim Impact Statement. The State of NY vs. Arthur Morgan Jr.

Dear Judge Nichols,

My name is Amanda DeLyser, Angela Marie Morgan was my older sister.

The last time I spoke with my sister was just over one year ago. She was living with our grandmother in Chatham at the time while her husband was in Columbia County Jail, serving several months for violating an order of protection against him on Angela’s behalf. During these several months, Angela and I spoke often. It was the closest that she and I had been since we were much younger. She was happier and healthier than we had seen her in quite some time. She was enthusiastic and warm, she was active in church and she had hopes for her future.

The very last time we spoke was February 6th 2008. The day before her husband Arthur Morgan Jr. was to be released. My sister and I argued that day. I yelled at her for the decisions she was making. She was planning on renting a trailer in Claverack for them to live in together. She told me that they were a family, that there were problems but they were going to work on them together. She was attempting to assure me that we would still hear from her after she left. I mocked her- insulted her for thinking that Artie would ever change. I was angry with her. That would be the last conversation that she and I ever had. I will be haunted by that conversation for the rest of my life.

It was just two months later that we found out that Angela was dead. The week prior to that day we had been worried that something might have happened to her. Arthur’s mother- Janet Morgan left a voicemail for my parents telling them that Angela had left Artie and hadn’t taken any of her things, and claimed that Angela said that the next time she left “no one was ever going to find her”. This was not like my sister. If she had finally decided to leave Arthur we would have heard from her. She would have come home. Angela had a family court date that week. She had been talking about that court date for months. When she did not make it to the hearing we knew something was very wrong. My parents filed a missing persons report that afternoon, and they found Angela the next day. In a blanket, left underneath that trailer in Claverack like garbage.

All Angela ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother- to have a family of her own. She thought she had found that with Art. My sister loved that man. She would do anything to make him happy, to keep their family together. Arthur Morgan promised to love my sister. He promised to honor her, cherish her and keep her safe yet he did none of these things. He used her, controlled her and abused her repeatedly. He was a pathetic excuse for a husband, a father and a man in general. He never provided for his family by holding down a full time job. He isoltated Angela from her family, her friends. I now know that this is not the first time he had beaten a woman he claimed to love. Before Angela he had a girlfriend who had to use a Domestic Violence Shelter in order to get away from him.

Angela’s murder was a devastating loss for my entire family. Arthur Morgan didn’t just take my only sister from me. He took my parent’s first born daughter and my two year old nephew’s mother. He took a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin and a friend to many. One of the hardest things for me, is knowing the pain and fear that Angela must have suffered at the time of her murder, the horror and betrayal she must have felt when she realized that someone she loved more than anything was actually killing her. The helplessness she must have felt knowing she was going to die. Angela did not deserve to be so cruelly taken. She was a good person with a big heart who was impressionable and taken advantage of. She wasn’t a crack addict, as Arthur claims. She didn’t use crack cocaine before she met him and she didn’t use it those several months last year while he was in jail. She was a gentle person who loved music and children and her friends.

You never think that violence like this can exist in someone that you know. Someone you’ve spent Holidays with, someone you’ve called family. This has taught me a lesson I’m not sure I could ever have been prepared to learn. I am scared of the things I now know so many are capable of. I am scared to trust that those I love will not hurt me. I am saddened and angry about the loss of my innocent faith in people. Mostly I am angry. I am angry that I will never get to speak to my sister again, that I will never get to see her again. I am angry that the last image I will have of her is the beaten, blackened face Art left her with. I look at her son and often cry for what she always wanted and is now missing.

I honestly believe that if Arthur Morgan Jr is ever free to live in society again that there will be another woman, another victim, another family shattered. So I ask you to sentence him to the maximum penalty permitted by law. If Arthur asks you for mercy or leniency in his sentence I beg you to remember the lack of mercy he showed to Angela. I ask you to think about the lack of respect for human life that he showed when he beat his wife repeatedly in the face, dragged and left her dead body underneath their trailer and moved out- fully intending to continue on with his life as though nothing had happened. I ask you to look at all of the domestic violence related incidents that police were called to their residences for. I ask you to remember the face of this man as he sat here during trail. Apathy, no emotion or respect for anyone besides himself. Arthur has no remorse for the pain he has caused. To this day he denies ever having hit my sister at all, which is so undeniably false that it’s almost laughable. But nothing about what happened to my sister is laughable. I ask you to give Arthur Morgan Jr a sentence as close to the one that he gave to my sister as possible. He decided she deserved to die for what he believed were crimes committed against him. I only wish you could be as harsh with your sentence, as it makes me sick to my stomach to think that I will be helping to pay to give Arthur a better life than he ever bothered to give himself or my sister.

Thank you, Amanda DeLyser

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