Insecurity often basis for abuse

Domestic Violence
By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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Editor’s Note: This is the final installment of the Telegraph’s three-part series on domestic violence. To read the full series, visit By Eileen Wilson Telegraph Correspondent Rifling through mail, checking cell phone call histories and text messages are normal for Mo, who insists that lovers are unfaithful and that constant vigilance is the only way to know someone’s love is true. And, if Mo does find evidence of marital infidelity? That’s when all hell breaks loose. “I attack, I hit, I kick, I throw things at my partner,” Mo said. Mo, short for Mona, is a woman. A 5-foot 6-inch tall, 160-pound whirling dervish when she’s angry, Mona, though in her late 20s, looks like any smiling, trouble-free college student. Mona, of Folsom, has struggled with violence in relationships ever since she can remember. She’s been the abused and abuser. She has also struggled with drug dependency, which she blames for her violent behavior. Mona attributes jealousy and insecurity on both sides, to creating nightmarish, conflict-filled relationships. “I attacked a boyfriend once, then he head butted me and broke my nose,” she said. “I feel so insecure. I have major insecurity problems.” Mona said men have told her she was ugly and “a piece of trash.” “It affects the way I feel about myself today,” Mona said. “It affects me more than I even know.” Mona’s imagination tends to run wild when she’s using drugs. “I create these crazy scenarios in my head,” she said. “When I’m sober, I’m a completely different person.” According to Nancy Atchley, pastor and executive director of Powerhouse Ministries in Folsom, victims of abuse, and abusers as well, suffer from a low self-image. “They find themselves homeless or addicted to drugs. That’s how so many people deal with the pain and trauma of their lives,” Atchley said. “A lot of men and women have relationship addictions as well. They need to have a partner to feel complete (and) to feel they have value.” Powerhouse Ministries offers spiritual and practical help for people who are in need. “We have a drop-in center where we can meet you. We can get a feel for if you are in immediate danger,” Atchley said. Powerhouse can provide help with a housing deposit, and with addiction issues, which might include a stay in their transition center for women and children. “We offer a two-year program — a live-in program that will help you get your life turned around,” she said. In addition, the center offers counseling, utilizing volunteer therapists. They offer health care assistance, and transportation to health-care providers as well. In extreme situations, the ministry refers clients to WEAVE, which stands for Women Escaping a Violent Environment. The organization is based in Sacramento. Atchley has been involved in couples’ violent arguments in the center lobby before, which often led to police intervention. “I witnessed a situation where a man was literally hitting a woman’s head on the concrete. I honestly thought she was dead,” Atchley said. “Some cases start out not life threatening, but it builds, and each time it gets more serious.” Atchley has been helping underserved populations for almost two decades and finds joy in working with area youth, many of whom are children of prison inmates. “We teach youth what is appropriate; what is acceptable behavior,” she said. Teen events like “Love on the backseat,” which includes open discussion on topics like domestic abuse and teen pregnancy, are helpful. “A lot of kids — their parents don’t talk to them,” Atchley said. “We offer anger management and spiritual counseling, but we mostly provide practical help. We also help people, regardless of their religious beliefs.” Atchley said that for some kids, Powerhouse provides the only sanity in their lives. Her goal is to plant seeds in their hearts. Mona is turning to her faith for guidance as well. Recently remarried, her incarcerated husband hopes to get out of prison some time this year. Mona hopes to maintain her sobriety, and her temper, when her spouse is released. “I’m trying to get my husband in church as well, so we’ll both be on the same page,” she said. “I’ve lost everything. I was trying to live two different lives and it caught up with me.”