Handing out of dose of reality one “ugly” story at a time

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More and more victims/survivors are getting sick and tired of being shut down by ignorance and injustice. They’re speaking out and writing. Find out how and where by reading my latest story published to The Washington Times Communities:

Domestic Violence Victims are Speaking Out, Handing Out a Dose of Reality

First annual “Silent No More” walk/run to fight domestic violence

Silent No More CollageThis past weekend, Saturday, October 20, I participated in my first walk to fight domestic violence: Silent No More.

I have been participating in charity walks, runs, and bike-a-thons since I was in 4th grade. Growing up in Westernport, MD, I remember the principal and teachers at Westernport Elementary School holding the annual spring assembly encouraging each student to ride in the St. Jude’s bike-a-thon to help raise money for the sick kids who couldn’t ride. Those were the days when I had to go door-to-door to get people to sponsor me as little as a dime for every mile I rode. I was 8 the first year I rode, and I wanted to ride at least 50 miles so I could get a trophy. (And I did! My first trophy!) By the third year I participated, I wanted to ride the 50 miles and get the most sponsors to raise the most money to help those kids. I raised a lot but not the most. I still got a trophy, but the trophy meant less to me than the first and second trophies I had won. As an 11-year-old, I learned that I could make a difference just by doing a little something one day out of the year and that I could have fun doing it.

Since then, I have done many, many charity walks. The walks have all been to fight some type of disease like breast cancer or juvenile diabetes or prostate cancer or heart disease or AIDS. These events bring out hundreds of participants and raise thousands of dollars every year. I am always thrilled to be a part of these events and know that even a few dollars add up and can truly make a difference in someone’s life and the lives of many. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t dedicate my time and money.

I learned about The Silent No More 10K run/2M walk through Facebook and desperately wanted to be a part of it. The event was held in Morgantown, WV, the home of West Virginia University and the Mountaineers, which is almost 4 hours from my home near D.C. My mom and son went with me. I fully expected my son to sit next to my mom at the table I setup to display my book and business cards. But about 10 minutes before the horn sounded, he told me he’d like to walk with me.

He ran ahead of me for the first mile, while I lagged behind and walked and talked with a couple of walkers I just met. On the return trip, things were different. He ran out of steam, and I had to say goodbye to my new friends and walk slower back to the finish with my son who I also carried on my back several hundred feet. We finished together, and I won a book (“Sister of Silence” by Daleen Berry, a memoir of her abuse and escape) for being the first woman walker over 40 to finish. (Over 40. Still sinking in.)

Overall, the day was bitter-sweet. The turnout of participants seemed low to me (less than 50), and the media showed up late AFTER the race began. Also, there were some runners who participated just for the opportunity to say they ran and competed, not because they were there to support the cause. I know this because the turn-around point for the run portion of the event was not attended by an event coordinator, and many of the top runners did not see the cones and ended up running more than a 10K. About half a mile more! The finishing times for the top runners and finishers were well above their personal best. (Apparently, this isn’t good for a runner’s resume.) The winning runner was so disappointed by the failure of the event planners that he left before awards were distributed! This was very sad to me.

But the day had its perks, too. I met my Facebook friend and fellow blogger Ray for the first time. I also met author Daleen Berry and the race coordinator Kevin. I sold the first soft copy of my book (most sales have been through Kindle and Nook), and I met many people dedicated to the cause to fight domestic violence/intimate partner abuse. I learned about Samantha’s Sanctuary located in Morgantown and that the money collected on race day will go to buying Kindles preloaded with resources and books to help empower victims of abuse. (Maybe they’ll load my little book on the Kindles they distribute. Who knows!?)

My wish is that the event will become an annual event and that next year will bring more support. No, we’re not fighting breast cancer or heart disease. We’re fighting something that is just as debilitating and life-threatening. Is support so low for this cause because domestic violence is a disease with a human face unlike cancer which is a disease caused by something inhuman? Or is it because too many people still blame the victims of domestic violence and have given up on trying to help? Regardless, it’s a cause that desperately needs more support and funding. Hopefully, my son will continue participating with me, and maybe one day he’ll even be one of the top finishers on race day. One thing is certain, he is learning that events like this aren’t about winning or raising the most money. Events like this are about supporting those who don’t have the resources to save and support themselves, because just knowing someone or many someones care is enough to save a person. Peace!

The Times is calling!

The Washington Times CommunitiesBringing awareness to issues historically overlooked or misunderstood is an ongoing, roadblock-filled journey. As a blogger and author, I understand the limitations of outreach and realize not everyone is going to “get it” upon first read or even multiple reads. Heck, some of us didn’t “get it” even after being literally punched in the face with the facts! The only thing I can do and will do is continue to write, share, research and share some more.

Last week I was notified that I have been selected as a new column writer/content contributor for The Washington Times online Communities. I feel it’s a definite step toward reaching an even greater audience and spreading awareness of domestic violence/intimate partner abuse and how personality disorders (and sociopaths) are at the root of much of the abuse inflicted upon the victims. I also intend to share even more healing approaches I have used and others have shared in our blogs, comments, and stories. This column will be an opportunity to share OUR stories and OUR blogs and put an even greater dent into an otherwise ignored, destructive and emotionally debilitating personal and social issue.

If you are unfamiliar with The Washington Times Communities, check it out! My profile has not been added, yet, but I will let everyone know as soon as it is. I will be provided with a snazzy and official-looking badge to add to my blog, which should help increase my credibility and the credibility of all the blogs I reference and sources I quote and share.

My column will be included in the Health & Science category with the title Living Inside Out Loud and the tagline “Connecting to our emotional, physical, and mental health one story at a time.”

The following is the proposed description I sent to my editor today for review (it’s surreal to think I have a real editor to work with, someone who will help me to improve my writing and research abilities so even more people might “get it!”):

“Ms. Carrasquillo is passionate about sharing her experiences and learning from others. Through her writing, Ms. Carrasquillo attempts to make the connection between our health (mind and body) and our everyday lives and choices. She infuses yoga, meditation, and mindfulness into her work and hopes her stories and articles spark reader interest and curiosity to study and research beyond what her column can provide. She believes learning begins from within and that knowledge should be shared out loud.”

Thanks to all of my blog followers, book reviewers, and comment providers for making this possible. I am sure these were all factors that the editors considered as they deliberated and made their final decision to invite me to write for them.

Namaste!

The mask of a sociopath: awareness of cluster B disorders and sociopaths

mask of a sociopathAccording to Martha Stout, Ph.D. and her book The Sociopath Next Door, sociopaths make up 4% of our society in the West. That’s about 1 in 25 people walking around among us without a conscience, without the ability to measure, or care to measure, the morality of their decisions and actions. Would you know how to identify a sociopath if you saw one, met one, started an intimate relationship or entered into a business contract with one? More than likely the answer is “no,” because unlike what we read on the television news or see in Hollywood movies, sociopaths aren’t just serial killers and murderers. Rather, they are members of our communities who we would never suspect of evil or wrong doing and who seamlessly blend into society with the rest of us.

Imagine someone you respect and whom many others respect unconditionally in your community, city, or small town.  He’s a CEO, chief of police, principal, or football coach. He has a college degree in one hand and a glass of expensive scotch in the other. He wears a Rolex or TAG Heuer on his wrist. He has a nice pearly white smile and the manners and charm of a prince. He has a squeaky clean driving record, a home, a wife, and children. He has influential friends. He shares lunch with judges and other high-profile leaders in your community.  He’s the person everyone trusts and honors.

Now imagine an abuser, rapist, or murderer in your mind. What does he look like? Is he a filthy, jobless degenerate with an alcohol or anger management problem? Is he the guy who yells at his wife in public and spanks his kid in the check-out line of your local grocery store? Does he smoke and wear clothes with holes in them? Does he drink Pabst or MGD out of a can? Does he swear and curse in the presence of women, children, and the elderly?

Hmmmm? What if I told you that the person you should be most fearful of and suspicious of being sociopathic is the one most respected in your community? What if I told you the dirty, jobless guy is the least of your community’s concerns? (He’s still a problem, but he’s easy to spot and monitor.) What if I told you the very person you think you should trust is the one person with whom your secrets, interests, desires and vulnerabilities should never be shared? Kind of pisses you off, doesn’t it? It should scare you, too.

But not all is lost. You can still protect yourself. There are ways to identify who could be the sociopath in your life. The first step toward identifying a sociopath is to first recognize people with a Cluster B personality disorder. These include:

*Antisocial personality disorder—

  • Disregard for others
  • Persistent lying or stealing
  • Recurring difficulties with the law
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others
  • Aggressive, often violent behavior
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others

Borderline personality disorder—

  • Impulsive and risky behavior
  • Volatile relationships
  • Unstable mood
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Fear of being alone

Histrionic personality disorder—

  • Constantly seeking attention
  • Excessively emotional
  • Extreme sensitivity to others’ approval
  • Unstable mood
  • Excessive concern with physical appearance

Narcissistic personality disorder—

  • Believing that you’re better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerating your achievements or talents
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings

(source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/personality-disorders/ds00562/dsection=symptoms)

All sociopaths suffer from at list one (if not all) of the Cluster B disorders, but not all folks afflicted with a Cluster B disorder are sociopaths. Alone, a Cluster B can wreak havoc on your life if you allow it, and the more overlapping of the four disorders a Cluster B possesses, the more destructive he can be. It won’t be until it’s almost too late for victims of Cluster B personalities to know or even suspect that the Cluster B is also a sociopath.

But how can we, as lay persons, make that determination and measure the leap from having JUST a personality disorder to being a sociopath without a conscience? How can we accurately, as non-scientists, measure the truth and conscience of another person? Out of respect for the researchers in the field of psychology and neurology, we can’t. Only a skilled and experienced professional in the field can diagnose or determine the mental state of a person we date, marry, or cohabitate. But we can still listen to our intuition and act in order to protect our own mental health and existence and that of our children.

So, instead of waiting to find out if your Cluster B is also a sociopath, it’s best to be on the safe side and assume that he is. In my experience with a sociopath, I made the mistake of trying to disprove he was a narcissist (because who wants to accept being a victim?) when I should have gone with the safer assumption that he was a full-blown sociopath. I would have escaped sooner, and then I could have spent my time away from him (in a safe place) reflecting, researching, and making the determination as to what he was and remains to be. Making such an extreme assumption is not a very scientific or politically-correct thing to do, but it certainly would have saved me a lot of blame, shame, and guilt.  I recommend that each of you, if in an abusive relationship, assume the person who is abusing you (physically, emotionally, and/or sexually) to be a sociopath and get out, seek support, and try to put your life back together before it’s too late.

This is nothing to joke about. There may only be 1 in 25 people who are sociopaths (and that’s a low estimate, in my opinion), but there are far more people in our society afflicted with one or more of these equally relationship-destructive disorders of Cluster B. We prevent and seek early detection for diseases like cancer and heart disease. Shouldn’t we be preventing and seeking early detection of the potential mental health dangers of others who could, in turn, destroy our own mental health and ruin our lives completely?

*Antisocial vs. Asocial Behavior
One very important distinction needs clarified: antisocial behavior and asocial behavior are NOT the same thing and often misunderstood and erroneously defined by us lay people.

Antisocial behavior does not mean a person avoids social situations. On the contrary, folks who are antisocial participate to a high degree in social activities and use people and public situations in order to exploit or cause harm.

Asocial behavior is defined as an avoidance of social situations. People who are asocial reject or fear social situations, people, and events. These individuals are not charming, charismatic, or in search of attention.

My lucky number is 13

I am 13 for 13 with my yoga challenge. I have been creeping around the “cooler” area of the hot yoga room for a few days. Not that I’m afraid of the heat, but I know the heat can REALLY get to me if I am not focusing clearly on my breath…

…I have not been focusing on my breath. There! I admitted it. I have been oscillating with my moods the last week or so. Much of it has to do with the recent tragedy involving Susan Powell’s children and their sociopathic father.

I am not one of those parents who considers my child a possession. My child is his own person and has been since the day he left the womb. My responsibility is not to own him; my job as a parent is to guide him and make certain that he is clothed, fed, and sheltered. It is my duty to keep him safe and give him freedom to explore his world.

So, when I see evil inflicted upon a child by a parent who obviously does not respect the individual existence of his children, I become enraged in my heart. Why couldn’t Josh Powell have simply killed himself and left those boys in the loving care of his grandparents? Why did he feel the need to take possession of them and murder them? If he was truly concerned about being discovered as the murderer of his missing wife, why would he choose to go out with such a dramatic bang, clearly being remembered only AS a murderer?

the sociopath next door coverHe did what he did because he is/was a sociopath. According to the recent publication The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, PhD, roughly 4% of the population is without a conscience; they are sociopaths who are capable of hurting people without remorse or worry. That is 1 in 25 people, folks!

I know one of these evil people. Thank goodness he isn’t next door to me. Hopefully he traveled back to the Far City and won’t return. 🙂

“It’s an English garden…”

Wow! SocialStudiesDC posted this today. Too hilarious! DC is filled with mindless talk like this. (And there ARE men in this city who speak with this James Spader Less Than Zero/Pretty In Pink faux-riche attitude, what I refer to as “Nasal Snobbery”).

I would have thrown more acronyms in the mix and mentioned Dupont Circle and its “Amazing!” architecture (puke), but overall, it’s on point.

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