A Mental Health Moment:  New Year….New Hope

Bernadette Joy Graham,
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC, CCHt, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor

Happy New Year Dear readers!  Since 2019, life has been rather challenging in both new and same ole old ways.  New things such as masks and vaccination mandates and old things such as crime, violence and homelessness.  So, what have or will you vow to change for this new 2022 year?

A challenge is a challenge such as the mental health challenge I wrote about for the last three months of 2021….how did you do?  You can rate it on a scale from 1 – 10, if you at least made a goal or two give yourself a  2 or 3, if you met a goal or followed through that would be a solid 7 and if you feel you made great change in your life, give yourself a pat on the back and keep on going!

This month, I am revisiting an historic challenge that has yet to see improvement but I believe has worsened due to the pandemic….Domestic Violence (DV).  Victims of DV had a most difficult time seeking and receiving help before the pandemic and then locked down more than likely with their abusers in 2020.

Going further back, I’d like to share a true story from October of 1993, when a man received a distressing call from his daughter and arrived at her home with the police only to find her body on the floor lifeless after being stabbed 21 times by an ex-boyfriend while her two young boys ages 8 and 11 were in their rooms.  He and his wife would later take custody and raise those two boys (who are today successful men and doing well by their grandparents).  The ex-boyfriend served 17 years, and died of cancer in a local hospice in 2017.  The young woman was the only child of Mr. & Mrs. Art and Ellen Jones.

In great efforts to bring awareness and to address DV, the Jones’ worked with local shelters and organizations to help victims and survivors in need as no parent would ever want to receive a phone call and later find a child’s body as Mr. Jones did on that evening.  With the help of other individuals, the “No More Domestic Violence Inc” exists today as a 501c3 Non-profit and the Jones’ are just as devoted today to helping others now more than ever.

So where does mental health fit into DV?  Everywhere and everyone.  For clarity, the Jones’ are not past nor present clients of mine but I learned of their story in the past few months from them directly.  I specialize in grief and their loss is a great one yet I was amazed at, first, how they stuck together. Often the loss of a child separates the parents. I’m sure they had their moments but they are still together today strong as ever.

Secondly, they took the energy of their grief and put it to work as I addressed earlier to help others as both a preventative and intervention measures.  While mental health has an immense stigma attached so does DV.  There is embarrassment and fear to leave the situation as DV has shown to cross all socioeconomic classes, races, genders and sexuality.  It can happen to children and the elderly as well.

Domestic Violence is a violent crime against a partner in a home dwelling.  It is abuse of physical, sexual, emotional and mental toward another person in a home.  Due to the abuse happening in the home, the victims often feel it is a private matter and hide their wounds both physical and emotional in nature often from fear of retaliation from their abusers.

Abusers inflicting pain on another are committing a crime and typically suffer from a mental health diagnosis and instability.  It is not a crime to have a mental health diagnosis but left untreated often causes terrible and fatal crimes. They need help, professional assessments to assist in changing their ill thinking and behavior.

As DV is a crime, the police and courts are involved.  The abusers are sometimes sentenced to time in jail and/or probation and protection orders.  The victims and survivors also need mental health care as any abuse will reduce if not totally inhibit a person’s functioning in caring for their children, working, education and relationships overall if not properly addressed.  Victim’s/Survivor’s please note…this is not an experience to sweep under the rug and try to forget…please seek help to heal the wounds you cannot see.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence about 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.  “About 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and or partner stalking and injury (PTSD, contraction of STDs, etc.”  By state, Ohio ranks in the middle as of 2021 DV against women was 35.6 percent and against men 30.0 percent.

If you would like to assist in the Jones’ efforts in any capacity, please contact them directly with information below.   If you are a victim, contact law enforcement, get to safety, ask for help.  People, please stop calling the police for a false allegation just because you’re angry for them not wanting to be with you or whatever the case may be, you are taking police away from doing their job, it’s just wrong.

You may contact No More Domestic Violence, Inc., at Mailing Address P.O. Box 141241 Toledo, Ohio 43614 Home Address 642 Hampton Avenue Toledo, Ohio 43609 Phone 419-345-2970.   In addition, there is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).  Seek out mental health care (both victim and abuser).  If you have to question if you are an abuser, that’s a red flag that yes, you need some help.

Red flags are often ignored in relationships early on, don’t ignore them even if you are color blind.  If you have ever seen a purple bulb nightlight outside someone’s home, it is a national symbol of Domestic Violence so that the historical issue that still does not have the attention it needs today in 2021 is still important and matters.  We all matter and we all have various issues that can complicate and end our lives.  People who have not experienced DV have less of a reason to support the issue or care than if they are a person who experienced say discrimination.  We can’t all support everything that has a cause but we can all support each other where we can and see fit.

Mr. & Mrs. Jones, I commend you for your tireless efforts and pray that you receive the support you need to carry out your mission so that no parent ever has to hold a memory of losing a child to such violence.  Thank you for sharing your story with me and allowing me to share it with others.  Unfortunately, grief is the price we seem to have to pay for love.  Love is not violent.  Watch out for red flags and turn on your purple lights people, it’s a new year with renewed hope.

If you make just one goal this year, make it to get your mind right….everything else will fall in place accordingly.

Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Provide feedback or reach out at graham.bernadette@gmail.com  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929  (Appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 3454 Oak Alley Ct. Suite 300 Toledo, OH 43606 www.bjgrahamcounseling.org  Available for team building, employee empowerment in motivation and better understanding mental health in the work place.  Accepting new client ages 13 and older.