Adventures in Grownup Land : Buying a House

I want to sell my house and buy or build a new one. I decided to put my current house out on Facebook on a local homes for sale page. I’ll list it with a realtor later. I know I shouldn’t be insulted by some of the low ball offers I get, but the most insulting part of these offers is the ignorance behind them. Buying a house is a serious investment. It’s not like going to Walmart and buying a TV or Christmas tree… I know people that put a lot of research into purchases like that, so why wouldn’t you research buying a house? You can Google it for cripes sake! There’s even articles with pictures! Despite the fact that there are already articles out there about this, I’m going to add my own list to the mix. So here ya go, what you need to know about buying a house before you go out and start insulting people.

  1. Check your credit. If there are any delinquent marks out there, try to get them fixed. A good credit score means better rates.
  2. Know what you’re looking for and what part of town you want to live in. Make a list of make or break items like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Make a list of optional items like a fenced in yard or how many garage stalls. Look at where the schools are in town. You want to be happy with what you buy, and you want to have good re-sell potential.
  3. Be prepared to stay in one place for the next three to five years. That is how long it will probably take to build enough equity in your house to be able to sell it for a little profit.
  4. Save up some money. Ideally, you want to have 20% of the value of the home to put towards a down payment. If your loan to value ratio is more than 80%, then most banks will require private mortgage insurance on your loan. That can be pricey, so having 20% down can save you a lot of money.
  5. Get pre-approved. I don’t mean going out onto a bank website and using a mortgage calculator. Sit down with a bank and go over your finances and find out what they are willing to lend you. This gives you an idea of what houses you can realistically look at and will give you a firm number for negotiating.
  6. Find out what closing costs the bank will roll into your loan. Most of the time, the buyer is required to pay for an appraisal and inspection. The bank will choose the appraiser, but the buyer can choose who inspects the house. This will run you upwards of $1,000 and sometimes you have to pay all of that out of pocket. Also check to see if the realtor’s commission will be rolled into the loan.
  7. Ask the home inspector questions. Find out what they think about any issues they found with the house. Are the problems mainly cosmetic, or are their major issues with the house? Small cosmetic fixes can be used when you’re negotiating the price of the house (things like a flooring allowance or exterior paint) but large issues like a mold problem or a bad foundation are not quick fixes.
  8. Find a good realtor. Ask around and see what kind of reputation the realtors in town have. Meet with them and see if you’re comfortable enough with them to ask them questions. They will be like your business partner for at least the next one to three months, so you want to find someone that you work well with.
  9. Don’t look at houses that are more than $20,000 out of your price range. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment by looking at a house that is way out of your price range. You’re also wasting the seller’s time and the realtor’s time. Most sellers have a good idea of what their house will appraise for, and they set the list price accordingly. If you can’t find a house within your price range that has all the things you want, then it’s time to reevaluate what you want for features in your house.
  10. Know the market. Is it a buyer’s market, or a seller’s market? How many houses are on the market right now and what are they selling for? What selling price is typical for the homes in certain neighborhoods or with certain features? What is a typical price per square foot for homes sold in the last six months? Are there restrictive covenants in place in certain neighborhoods? Is there an HOA that you will have to belong to? What are the property taxes like? Do you have to get flood insurance? A good realtor can answer these questions for you.
  11. Be prepared to negotiate. A good realtor really comes in handy when you’re ready to make an offer on a house. Your initial offer can be less than the asking price for the house, and the seller will usually counter your offer. Things like closing costs can be used as part of the negotiation.
  12. Don’t expect to find the house of your dreams right away. Buying a house is a process that takes several months. You may need to compromise on certain things.

Those are the big points I wish people knew before they started looking for a house to buy. It’s a big waste of time to start looking at houses before you have all your ducks in a row. Most realtors won’t want to work with you if you’re not pre-approved for a loan. Most buyers won’t take you seriously if you make an offer on their house that is $50,000 below their asking price. So don’t just jump into this whole buying a house and being an adult thing. It isn’t a video game. Do your homework. Find a realtor. And happy hunting.

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I believe that there are three sides to every story; side A, side B, and the truth, which falls somewhere in the middle of both sides. I am faced with a dilemma. It’s one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenarios. One that I never thought I’d find myself in. The rest of this post may contain triggers for anyone who has ever been a victim of domestic abuse, violent crime, or who has ever been incarcerated.

First, some back story. My father is in prison for murdering my step-mother. She died in 1999 and he received a sentence of 27 years for her death. I will tell you that I believe with all my being that he is completely innocent of her murder. You can believe what you want to believe. For sixteen years my father has been incarcerated for a crime that he did not commit. He has been moving forward with his appeals and hoping to prove ineffective assistance of counsel in an effort to overturn his conviction. I won’t go into any further details about what transpired. It’s on a need to know basis, and if you don’t know me well enough for me to consider you a close friend, then you don’t need to know my side of the story.

Growing up, I watched crime dramas, I’m sure we have all seen one at some point. Law and Order, CSI, NCIS, Unsolved Mysteries, countless movies like Double Jeopardy, and documentaries about real life cases. I had an idealistic view of how our justice system works. I believed that innocent people could prove that they’re innocent. I believed that the courts rarely failed. I was wrong. For every guilty person that goes to prison, there are probably just as many innocent people that go to prison as well. I can only speculate as to why that is. Money, greed, corruption, lies… It feels like money buys justice the same way it buys mansions and yachts. After living through the ordeal of testifying at my father’s trial, I can tell you that our justice system is a farce. Every court may not be that way, but from my father’s trial, and some others that I’ve witnessed, our current system certainly isn’t just.

Out of the blue last week I received an e-mail from someone claiming to be from a television production company. She wanted to include my father’s case in a documentary series that her company is producing. (I won’t name names.) At first I thought it was a joke. I hit the internet and trusty Google to see if this was legit. It was. I read through their website and Facebook page. I watched teasers for their documentary series. I found this person on LinkedIn. I fired off a message to a few family members asking if they had been contacted. One of them had received an e-mail almost identical to mine. Naively, I asked how this person had found my name and work e-mail. Google. Facebook. Public court records. I commiserated with a friend about what my best course of action would be. I’d decided to feel this out and see what they were after. I didn’t want to jeopardize my father’s case. I didn’t want to slander my step mother. I have a little sister and she doesn’t deserve to have my discussing her mother like that. My questions were met with an e-mail telling me that this person would have to check with their legal department. I haven’t heard back from them yet.

Now my wheels are spinning. My thoughts pinballing from one possibility to the next. I had a conversation with the other relative that had been contacted. What should we do? We decided to sit tight and see if things go any further. What if they decide to proceed without us? Would we rather have our stories included in an effort to balance out a show that could make my father out to be a monster? We concluded that we wouldn’t have any legal recourse to issue a cease and desist. All of the court proceedings are public record. So now we wait. The more I think about it, the more it pisses me off. Some television company can profit from our families tragedy. They can spin this however they want to just so they can make a buck. They can have the truth in front of them in black and white, and they can color the story as they see fit in an effort to sell a product. A run of the mill story won’t sell. They have to sensationalize it. They won’t interview my father, only “people familiar with his case.” So what do we do? Participate, or not participate? Ask more questions, or try to pretend this never came up?

I don’t want my father’s case splashed all over like it’s a Kardashian drama. I don’t want my family’s heartbreak to be up for public consumption with random people weighing in with their opinions. My siblings don’t need that. My grandparents don’t need that. My father doesn’t need that. My son doesn’t need it either. We need to be left alone and allowed to continue on with our lives and hope that once my father is released from prison we can regain some sense of normalcy again.

I refuse to slander my stepmother for the simple fact that I suffer from a condition known as human decency. Her family has suffered because of this as well. My sister will never know her mother or get to form her own opinions of her. Her memories will forever be skewed by what other people tell her about her mother. I treat her family the way I wish people would treat mine. I don’t want stories out there about my dad. I don’t want people speculating about his character or morality. I don’t want strangers weighing in on what they think about him and my family.

I’m left with a feeling of betrayal. A feeling that I’m stripped of my privacy. If my life has any tiny detail in it that someone might be entertained by, then someone can come along and blow it up for the world to see. Pieces of my life can be condensed into clickbait and fodder for gossip. I’m not even famous and my life can be sensationalized.

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You Get What You Deserve

My best friend decided that she’s had enough of guys treating me like crap (raising my hand over here with a hallelujah!) So, to combat this issue, she tasked me (aka forced me) to write out a list of what I want and don’t want in a relationship. My first list was garbage so I had to write it again (dang those best friends anyway.) Sometimes seeing all of that written down is humbling. The written word, staring at you from the screen or the page, has a lot of weight. Having words confront you like that makes them harder to ignore. So what do I want? Respect. Honesty. Communication. Affection. Kindness. You don’t need the full list to get the gist. It really doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize that all of this adds up. When one of these things that you want doesn’t happen, then the entire list starts to crumble. So you need to understand that this list of things that you want, is actually a list of things that you deserve. Tell yourself that this matters. Give yourself the courtesy of having enough respect for yourself to know that you deserve to get everything that you want. Be honest with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Communicate with yourself. Treat yourself the way you want other people to treat you. You get what you deserve, so make sure what you think you deserve is awesome.

Now, when I’m told that I deserve better, I wonder why someone else thinks they know what I deserve… When that’s someone’s way of explaining why our relationship won’t work, I view it as a cop out. They obviously don’t know what I deserve, because if they did, then they’d realize that what I actually deserve is respect. I deserve the truth. I deserve an explanation. I deserve to be treated like a person who has feelings and not a possession that can be discarded. I deserve an apology. What I don’t deserve is silence, deception, a ghost or a slow fade. Just for clarification, ghosting is when one person in a relationship suddenly disappears. All communication stops; it’s radio silence. A slow fade is when communication slowly disappears. It usually consists of excuses as to why that person can’t see the other person. They’re busy, but they still miss you. They promise that they’ll see you as soon as they can. They make plans with you and then cancel at the last minute. Several messages and a phone call every day turn into a few messages here and there, and then days without any communication, until finally all communication stops and the ghost happens. Both endings lead to one person wondering what the hell happened.

The ghost or the slow fade seem to be the new way of ending things. Instead of being considerate of another person’s feelings, one party just disappears and the other party is left wondering what the hell happened. I can only speak from my own experience, but the person left wondering what the hell happened is left imaging every scenario that could have led to the end of the relationship. Did the other person die? Were they in a horrible accident that left them unable to communicate with me? Maybe they lost their phone… Did they move on to someone else? Was everything they told me over the course of our relationship a lie? Was the sex really that bad? Oh shit… do I smell funny? The prevailing thought is that something truly awful must have taken place, but the reality is that the person who ghosts is unable to be truthful. There is no closure for the person who is ghosted on. It adds to our belief that people can’t be trusted. If the ghost is preceded by a slow fade, then it is even more confusing. Why lead someone on by keeping the lines of communication going and then slowly reducing your communication until it’s just gone? Until one day, they just stop replying to messages and stop answering phone calls. Was it all some twisted game? Is there some kind of thrill in knowing that the person they’re doing this to is left wondering what happened?

Ending a relationship without hurting the other person just isn’t possible. Unless both of you come to the conclusion that the relationship is no longer viable, then someone is going to get hurt. Does the truth hurt? Yes. Is the truth better than no explanation at all? Yes. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think being hurt by the truth is preferable to being hurt by a lie. Being deceived is a slap in the face and it makes you question yourself and your decision to trust a person. Not giving someone the courtesy of an explanation is a way of deceiving them and it turns everything you said or did prior to disappearing into a lie. Put yourself in the other persons place and decide how to proceed. If you know what you want, and what you deserve, then you should understand what the other person wants and deserves. You get what you deserve. So what is it that you think you deserve? Make your list. Read it. It probably isn’t much different than mine.

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Sins Of The Past

How do you move on? Is there a length of time it takes to get over the past? Old wounds heal eventually, but they leave scars. Sometimes you can’t keep yourself from picking at them; thinking about what happened, if there was something that could’ve been done to repair a relationship. Sometimes you’re lucky you make it out. Most often, if you’re damaged badly enough, you carry the weight of the past with you, wrapped around your neck like a scarf that can get so tight that it cuts off your air, a constant reminder of what can go wrong. You wonder sometimes if there’s something that you do that keeps getting you into the same pattern. I know I’ve got trust issues. Who wouldn’t when they’ve been through some of the stuff I have? The problem is, how do you get to know someone without projecting those problems onto them? How and when do you decide that they’re different from what you’re used to? Better yet, how do you convince someone that you aren’t like the people that they’ve been with before? What do you do to prove that you genuinely don’t want to hurt them? You can tell them, sometimes over and over, that you don’t get that angry, that you don’t scream or confront, that you don’t lie or cheat, that you really are a good person… but how are they to know that they can believe what you’re saying? Is there a way to convince someone, or even convince yourself, that the sins of the past won’t be repeated?

I suppose some people never recover from the damage. Some people put up a wall that is impossible to breach. They decide it isn’t worth the risk to open up to anyone else and give them the power to hurt them. Because that’s what trusting someone does; putting your trust in someone means that you are handing them a weapon to use against you and you never know if or when they’re going to use that weapon. I’m optimistic that there are actually people out there who don’t treat other people like they’re disposable. So I keep opening myself up because I haven’t decided yet to give up on the possibility that there’s someone out in the world who won’t take advantage of me or use my trust against me. Is it hard to trust someone? Yes. Is it worth the risk? I hope so. Almost every time I give someone the means to destroy me, they do it, whether they realize they’ve done it or not. I can count on one hand the number of people in my life who have my trust and don’t abuse it. I am grateful beyond words that these people who have the weapons needed to destroy me instead choose to love me. It is because of these few people that I continue to move forward with my life with a little sliver of hope that I can find more people like them. It’s another risk vs. reward situation. Everybody has to decide on their own if the risk is worth taking on the off chance that instead of getting burned again, they get to experience the warmth of the flames without being consumed by them.

I’ll wait forever if it’s worth the waiting…

She’s been cheated one too many times…


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WOD: Minutiae

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a word of the day… Minutiae, plural of minute, the small precise or trivial details of something; the minutiae of everyday life.

There are certain things that you get used to or even take for granted when you’re married or in a long term relationship. The fact that there is a someone there with you, someone to go home to, to share a meal with, to fall asleep next to, to share life with… these are things that we become accustomed to. No matter how your relationship ended, the fact of the matter is that there was someone there to bear witness to the minutiae of your life.

I got to thinking about this because I had something in my eye. No. Really. I’m weird like that, so just bear with me. As I’m standing there in the bathroom trying to flush my eye with saline solution, I’m thinking about how much easier it would be if there was someone else there to help. This is such a small thing, but someone else to take a look and see what the frak is in my eye and help me get it out. I’ve thought about this before when I’m trying to zip up a dress, or when I’m so sick I don’t want to move but I still have to get up and get my son ready and take him to school. I’ve thought about this when I come home and I’m exhausted and I still need to make dinner and do dishes and do laundry and do bedtime and argue about teeth brushing… or when I have another migraine and I still have to somehow function when all I really want is there to be someone there with me until I finally fall asleep to reassure me that everything will be taken care of while I rest and recover. Or even when there is something so funny that you just need to share it with someone… but there isn’t anyone right there to share it with. These are such small matters, but they are things that I was used to after almost a decade of being with someone. No matter how much I loathed being married those last few years, there was another person there to bear some of the burden that comes with the tiny details of living.

One of the hardest things about dating after coming out of a long relationship is the fact that you’re so used to sharing everything that it’s hard to throttle back. I have a hard time remembering a time when I was dating, before I got married. I’ve had to redefine my idea of a date and try to just wing it. How the hell am I supposed to know if I’m dating someone or if they’re my boyfriend? That feels like high school all over again. How am I supposed to decide if I can trust someone? What should they be allowed access to? There is a craving there to have A SOMEONE. Someone that is present and just by being present makes things better. When does let’s date each other become I trust you, become let’s sleep with each other… become stay the night… become meet my kids… become holidays… become I love you… become let’s move in together… become let’s get married… There isn’t a timeline somewhere that lays all this out. So all of this is both terrifying and exhilarating. This is all a chance to either find your someone or get hurt again. It’s a gamble; risk vs. reward. There are no guarantees and no way to know if you’re in this alone or if the other person is feeling the same way.

I can talk tough all I want about being strong and being able to make it on my own. I can make jokes about giving up and getting a third cat and really committing to being a cat lady. I can sit and watch and wish and hope… I can try and fail and try again… At the end of the day, when I’m alone with my thoughts and trying to go to sleep, there is still that need to have someone who was there to SEE me. Someone else to witness the minutiae and make it less trivial. It’s the whole tree falling in the forest debate… but if there is no one there to see your life unfold around you, does that mean it didn’t happen? You’re still living, of course, but you’re the only one who sees it all. Is it better to open yourself up and share the minutiae, or just keep it all to yourself? I’m still trying to figure that out. Is it worth the risk of losing again if there’s a chance that there could be someone else who wants the same thing. Someone to see the minutiae and make it a little less small…


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What the Hell is up with Social Security and Why should I care?

Give me the benefit of the doubt and at least read paragraphs 3 and 4, pretty please :)

So, what the hell is social security? A tax? A benefit? An annoying way the government steals money from every one of your paychecks? Are you wondering why you stopped getting Social Security statements in the mail in the month leading up to your birthday? Or maybe you’ve never even seen your Social Security statement. Why should you care about it at all? Maybe you believe the media when they tell you that Social Security won’t be solvent for much longer. Whatever the case may be, I’m here to tell you that you should care about Social Security. Hopefully by the end of this post I will have you convinced to at least take a look at your statement.

Starting in 1999, the SSA (Social Security Administration) began mailing paper statements to all workers over the age of 25 who were not currently receiving social security benefits. Eventually, the cost of sending out paper statements to all these Americans reached a high of $70 million every year. Due to budget restrictions, in April of 2011 mailing of paper statements stopped. An on-line version of the social security statement was created so that people could still access their statements and people could begin enrolling to access the site in May of 2012. In February of 2012, the SSA resumed sending paper statements to workers over 60 who weren’t already receiving benefits. Now that the boring history lesson is over… here is why you should care enough to go on-line and register to view your statement at

Social Security is more than just a retirement plan for workers. In the event that you become disabled and can no longer work, your social security wages will be used to calculate a disability benefit. If you die, then your spouse and children will receive benefits that are calculated using your social security wages. I know we all want to believe that we will live long, healthy lives and we don’t want to think about the possibility of something bad happening to us. The reality of life is that it’s unpredictable and it’s better to be prepared for the bad stuff then to be blindsided by it because you never take off your rose colored glasses. SSA gets your social security wages directly from your employer every year when your W2 is submitted by your employer to the Federal Government. If you’re self-employed, then you report your wages when you file your taxes every year. If, for some reason, your wages are reported incorrectly to the SSA, then your benefits could suffer. So, checking your statement every year for wage errors is a good idea so that you get the benefits that you worked for. All you need to do is compare your social security wages (W2 box 3) and Medicare wages (W2 box 5) to what the SSA has on file.

Are you worried about identity theft? A good way to see if someone is illegally using your social security number to obtain work is to check your statement. If any of the wages look wrong, you should call the SSA to verify the numbers. If you try to create an account on-line and you’re told that someone with that SSN is already registered, then that means another person has used your SSN to register with the SSA and you should call them and find out what’s going on. Catching identity theft early is important. You don’t want someone else to be able to collect your benefits or make it so that you can’t collect your benefits. You can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or you can go to and look up the information for your local SSA office.

Why should you care about checking your wages if you aren’t going to retire until you’re in your seventies? Well, your final benefit is calculated based on your 35 highest years of wages. The SSA uses a formula called AIME (Average Indexed Monthly Earnings) to put your wages into current years dollars and determine what your retirement benefit will be. If you start working at age 14, and you work until you’re 68 that is 58 years worth of earnings that have been reported to the SSA. Ostensibly, the highest years of your earnings will be when you’re between the ages of 30 and 65. But, if you take time off to be a stay at home parent or go to college, and you aren’t earning social security wages, then your 35 highest years will be impacted. So, once you turn 18, you should really be paying attention to your earnings record. (You have to be 18 in order to register at to view your statement.)

So, if all this talk about death and identity theft hasn’t scared you into signing up on to view your statements, the only thing left for me to say is that this is your money. Every paycheck you get has social security taken out of it, and your employer has to match that dollar amount, with few exceptions. This is your money. It belongs to you and you’re basically letting the government hold onto it until you decide to ask for it back (disability, death, or retirement). If you care about how much money you have sitting in the bank, then you should care about how much money you have sitting in the social security trust. So please go sign up and take a look at your statement. The SSA has done an excellent job creating a very secure website, and they partnered with Experian to create a set of questions that they use to verify your identity. So, it will take you a few minutes to sign up. Once you’re signed up, you can view your earnings record, estimate your benefits, see your benefit at different retirement ages, and be able to apply for benefits.

Now, if you’re worried about the solvency of social security, I can give you a brief history lesson. If you’re not worried, then you can stop reading and go to

Social Security began as a social insurance program in the United States as part of the WPA during President Roosevelt’s administration. Before the 1930’s, many individual states had started creating programs for the unemployed, disabled, or elderly, but there was not a national system in place. The precursor to Medicare was also established during the Roosevelt administration. At first, Social Security benefits were not available to Federal or State government employees because of the pension benefits that they already received. In the 1950’s, contributions rates were 1.5% (today the rate is 6.2%) Also beginning in the 1950’s social security coverage was extended to state government employees on a voluntary basis for any employees that were already covered under a retirement system. Federal employees were granted Social Security benefits during the Reagan administration in 1986. It was also in 1986 that every dependent over the age of 5 that is listed on a tax return must have their own Social Security number. From 1937 to 1990 the contribution rate (tax rate) for social security went from 1% to its current rate of 6.2%. A lot of reforms were made during the Reagan administration and the Bush (H.W.) administration to ensure that social security would remain solvent and be able to pay out benefits into the 2000’s. Current reports indicate that the social security program should be fully funded until sometime between 2030 and 2040. Social security and Medicare money is put into a trust that is administered by the Federal Government. Obviously, when social security was established not many people were thinking about population growth and extending the program to all working Americans for more than one hundred years. The contribution rate for social security has remained stagnant at 6.2% since 1990 (with the exception of the employee contribution rate briefly going down to 4.2% in 2011 and 2012). So, for over two decades, the contribution rate has remained the same despite inflation and the percentage of American workers applying for benefits. Obviously, this is a problem that needs to be addressed so that those of us who have been paying into the trust our entire careers will be able to draw that money out when we need to. This is something that Congress will have to address soon by making amendments to the Social Security Act. If this concerns you at all, might I suggest writing to your congressman about it? If Congress and the President have been able to keep the trust solvent for almost a century, I’m sure they can continue to do so for decades to come. Obvious ways to keep it solvent are by increasing contribution rates, changing the retirement age, or changing the benefit calculations. Personally, I don’t see a reason to worry that something won’t get figured out and I will be out all the money I’ve paid into the trust… but you just never know.

If you want to learn more, you can visit for a chronological history of social insurance and social security.

A table of historical contribution rates can be found here

And of course, please register to view your statement here

If you’ve read this entire post without falling asleep, CONGRATULATIONS! Now carry on with your day.

*I am in no way affiliated with the Federal Government or the Social Security Administration. I’m just a nerd who likes this kind of stuff and enjoys learning about strange things like the history of social security.*

UPDATE: In 2015, if you turn 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 or 60, and you don’t have an on-line account, then 3 months before your birthday you should receive a paper statement.

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Domestic Violence and Gender Stereotypes: We need to talk

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the US Dept. of Justice, domestic violence is described as “… a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. …physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.” This definition is an “area of focus” as part of the “Office on Violence Against Women.” Why is it there? Not once in that definition is gender mentioned. That means that this abusive behavior can be perpetrated by anyone. Now, I would like to point out that I am a woman. I have been on the receiving end of sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological domestic violence. I survived. I got out. Now I look at this conversation from another side and see that we need to alter the way we talk about domestic violence.

More than 830,000 men are victims of domestic violence every year. It is very difficult to find current statistics on domestic violence where a woman is the aggressor. It is even more difficult to find statistics on domestic violence that separate the orientation of the people who are the victims. Yes, I’m talking about women being the aggressor towards men and other women. I’m also talking about men being the aggressor towards other men. Think about every graphic, article, news report, or statistic that you’ve seen recently about domestic violence. Do you recall seeing one where a man was the victim? What about seeing something where one man was abusing another man? Or seeing one where a woman was abusing another woman?

Right now, our society is in the midst of sweeping reforms in the way we view intimate relationships. In the majority of the United States, same sex couples are now allowed to marry. Antiquated laws about cohabitation and racial mixing are being struck from the public record. If we’re going to talk about gender equality, then doesn’t that equality extend to our conversations about victims’ rights? We need to start thinking of everyone as people and put an end to our us vs. them mentality. We need to stop assuming that women are the weaker sex and realize that regardless of gender or orientation, all people have the potential to be abusers, and all people can be victims of abuse.

I vividly recall thinking that something was wrong with my father’s relationship with my stepmother. (I can’t go into detail about all of this because of pending legal actions, so forgive the generalizations.) Looking back on those years he was married to her, I have to ask myself, why did he stay? Was he scared that his masculine identity would be undermined by reporting his wife to the authorities? Was he afraid that no one would believe him? Was he scared that his career in the military would be jeopardized? How did he think his family (parents, siblings, children, etc.) would react? I wish he would have said something. I wish he would have understood that no matter what the outcome of his coming forward was, it surely would have been better to out her as an abuser than to put himself and his children through the tragedy of the way their relationship ended. If he could have seen into the future, would he have made different choices?

In no way do I want to downplay the seriousness of domestic violence against women where men are the aggressor. Instead, I want people to open up the conversation. We need to speak openly about this in order to remove the stigma attached to reporting domestic violence. We need to have these conversations as a society. By talking about this openly, we can set an example for our children. I don’t want my son to think that no one will believe him if he says that someone he’s in a relationship with abuses him. Likewise, I don’t want him to think that only women can be victims of abuse. I also don’t think that we need to be teaching our daughters that they can’t be abusers. This sets them up to think that their abusive behavior is somehow different or less reprehensible then abuse that’s perpetrated by a man. We need to make sure that we stop making light of girls’ abusive behavior so that they don’t grow up to be abusive women. We also need to make sure that when we’re talking to our children about their intimate relationships that we don’t pull punches when we talk about the harsher aspects of being in a relationship with someone. They need to know that no matter their gender or orientation, they have the right to speak out and speak up. No one deserves to be abused.

If you or someone you love is a victim of domestic violence, please reach out. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233–facts-52.html

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