Words Became Deeds: Threats Become Actions

You know the allegory about the boy with a bad temper who drives the nails into a post & then pulls them out, but realizes they each left a hole? Or the story about the smashed dish never being able to be put together again perfectly (because you can’t say “I’m sorry” and magically make a plate whole again)? Sometimes words leave damage that is unseen, it’s true. But often times it is a precursor to physical violence and emotional/psychological damage that leave marks both literally and figuratively. Be careful with yourself. Don’t push yourself to fix someone like this (that’s their job), and please pay attention to how often it occurs (it’s easy to let hope cloud your memory—make a mark on your calendar for every time you are verbally abused so you can remember more clearly).

The video & audio above is how the verbal abuse sounded—and how the physical abuse looked: The punch through the grey bedroom wall & wreckage of a several hundred pound dining table, the babies’ high chair, the dining chairs, the vases & dishes under it, the drywall-anchored hook of aprons that was ripped out of the wall and left in the middle of the floor — that was after The Heart Ball in 2012. You may remember seeing us there. Perhaps you went as our guests? We had a wonderful time. He said later that he couldn’t remember what set him off, but “you must have done something.”

He thought that was “rock bottom”?

email from cmh

[Click above to enlarge email.]

Apparently not. Because the assault & battery that damaged my knee, ankle, that gave me the bruises you see in the video above occurred September 30/October 1, 2013. And, outside of a courthouse, that was the very last time I saw him. I have not spoken to him and don’t plan to again. Ever. [Update: I have spoken to him in a courtroom. Afterward, in June 2015, he called and left a voicemail asking me to coffee.]

In legalese, my abuse sounds like this:  “…certainly Ms. Hamelberg is not without some degree of fault so to speak due to the fact that certainly she had decided to confront Mr. [Chris] Hamelberg in probably a manner that could have perhaps done better under cooler — under cooler sense or a cooler head but at the same time it’s clear to the Court that Mr. Hamelberg physically assaulted Ms.  Hamelberg on the night of September 30 or the early morning hours of September [sic] 1. 

I believe certainly that Ms. Hamelberg’s testimony with respect to the injuries that she received at the hands of Mr.  Hamelberg were credible. I believe certainly she suffered numerous injuries including bruises on her wrist, a damaged left knee, a swollen ankle. 

Mr.  Hamelberg apparently has had other incidents which have caused damage to the furniture and holes in the walls at the residence, so I believe certainly there has been a history of domestic violence and anger control issues from Mr.  Hamelberg.”

:The Honorable Judge Holly Clemons (Champaign County, Illinois, December 11, 2013)

Warning signs to look for: Past abuse (in this case, multiple police reports made by Chris Hamelberg’s first wife for Domestic Abuse that I was unaware of, etc), Familial history, drug use, alcohol abuse, verbal abuse that starts gradually and escalates, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-like personalities, you feel like you are walking on eggshells, your friends notice you are not the same, and more. Please ask for help if you are having trouble identifying abuse. It is a common problem. The abuse seems to sneak up on you until you have trouble identifying it as domestic violence.

Here’s the thing: An abuser doesn’t change just because you leave them, they simply change their tactics. It is up to you to leave them…don’t ever expect them to participate in you gaining your safety or freedom.

If you sometimes feel like YOU are a post with nails being driven into it or a smashed plate, you are in the wrong relationship. Prayers may help, but God wants us to help ourselves, too. Be strong. Leaving is one option. There are others. There is help…ask for it. You can do this. The sooner, the better. 

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PTSD After Domestic Violence

“I begin to compensate for the drips in my marriage. I’ll be better. I’ll be a better wife. I’ll make sure the house is clean and dinner is always prepared. And when he doesn’t even come home for dinner, I’ll keep it wrapped and warmed in the oven for him….

…Why did I stay? I stayed because I was isolated; I was financially dependent on him; I was sleep deprived; I was told and I believed I was worthless; I was worn down from constantly being on guard for the next attack.

I stayed because I was more afraid to leave.”

You Can Get PTSD From Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship


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Domestic Violence Kills More People Than Wars

Domestic Violence Kills More People Than Wars. Sigh.

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Sign here saying I can batter you in the future. Now, wanna hang out?

That Friday when your abusive husband’s attorney sends you a legal document to sign including a clause saying you release him from “all claims, actions, causes of action, rights, liabilities, obligations and demands of every kind and nature, known and unknown, past, present, and future, including but not limited to claims, actions, causes of action, rights, liabilities, obligations and demands for injuries, damages, costs and/or expenses, arising out of, directly or indirectly any conduct, behavior or action by him against her, including but not limited to claims for abuse, neglect, assault, battery, tortuous conduct, domestic violence, emotional distress, libel or slander.”

Followed by that Monday (just this past Monday, actually) when he calls and leaves a voicemail asking you to meet him at a coffeehouse the next day. “Hey, It’s Chris, 4 o’clock Monday….[etc]… I still have the same cell number so you can probably just give me a ring back there – um – sometime tomorrow. Uh, that’d be great. Thanks.” 

It’s been 20 months since I last spoke to him outside of a courtroom. What do I have to do before he, his attorneys, and the system stop asking me to participate in my own abuse?  :LH

[Update: Here is the voicemail recording from Chris Hamelberg in June of 2015. Understand this—I received an Order of Protection against him in December of 2013. I have only spoken with Chris since October 2013 in a courtroom. He sounds “normal” here, right? Except it’s not normal to call your estranged wife a couple years after you beat her for (presumably) the last time, after she asked for an Order of Protection, she has reported your violations to her Order of Protection, and has had nothing to do with you. He is talking here as if we’d had prior recent conversations. We had not. We had seen each other and spoken to each other in a courtroom for our divorce that same month. That’s it.

The check he refers to herein is a settlement for marital assets that ultimately he would not end up paying me for months, so I suspect strongly that Chris Hamelberg did not intend to meet me at a coffee shop that day to drop off a check, or insurance cards (that I already had copies of, of course). To me, this sounds like a person just needing to make some kind of contact—ANY kind of contact—and who was hoping for a call back to “take it from there.” Otherwise the communication could have gone through attorneys, as was proper and had been how things had been handled for nearly two years at this point.

So, yes, this action of his, combined with his attorney sending me—at the same time—a document asking me to hold him harmless for any future domestic violence, assault, or battery toward me—considering what he had already done to me—scared me. He doesn’t sound scary. That is kind of the point with abusers. They don’t sound, look, or act scary, until they do.

Beyond scaring me and triggering old memories and fears, it was beyond frustrating. I had dismantled my life, gone to court, called police, asked for help, gotten divorced, DONE EVERYTHING THAT THEY TELL YOU TO DO TO GET AWAY FROM YOUR ABUSER, and here he was, calling me up like we’re old friends. Like he’s a great guy. Like nothing I had done to show that I was done had gotten through to him at all. Sad and sick.]

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…Why I Didn’t Tell You…

From This Is Why I Didn’t Tell You He Was Beating Me: “You don’t see her as much because that’s what abusers do: They isolate their victims from friends and family. They do it subtly, though. He’d never go so far as to say that she isn’t allowed to see you—that’s too direct and he’s much smarter than that. Instead he manipulates her into staying away by doing things like picking a fight with her when she comes home. [“You abandoned us!,” he said for weeks, when I attended an evening work event with my brother.] That way, the next time you invite her out, she’ll decline in order to avoid another fight. Or he’ll accuse her of loving her friends more than him. So that she’ll stay home instead of upsetting him. He uses her love for him like a weapon.”

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“I’m not going to be silent.”

Via Jezebel, Terry Crews, “On the importance of men supporting the feminist cause:

I kind of relate it to slavery. Or even civil rights. Let’s not even go back to slavery, let’s go to civil rights—the people who were silent at the lunch counters, when it was the black lunch counter and the white one or the schools were segregated…and you were quiet. You were accepting it. Same thing with men right now. If you don’t say anything, you are, by your silence—it’s acceptance. I’m not going to be silent.”

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Tell Your Story, On Your Own Terms

“‘We can also go a long way toward preventing male sexual and domestic violence against women by stopping the pervasive and pernicious victim-blaming,‘ Douglas says. ‘The media, for example, should quit asking the toxic, ‘Why did you go back to your abuser?’ and ‘Why didn’t you leave?’ A reporter could say instead, ‘As you know, there are some who question your credibility because of some of the choices you made. What, if anything, would you want to say to them?’ That is respectful journalism. The [accuser] should never be made to feel like she has to justify the choices she made or makes.

Finally, in his own work with Men Stopping Violence, Douglas sees firsthand the power of healing through sharing. ‘I see survivors who are finding peace through coming forward and telling their stories. One of the most powerful things that survivors can do is tell their own stories, on their own terms,‘ he says.”

:NOMORE.org, Why They Weren’t Believed

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Being Outed “Isn’t Pretty, But It’s A Good Thing.”

“These women aren’t basking in 15 minutes of fame. They’re not piling on a lawsuit. They’re not going to send Cosby to prison. They’re not going to get a confession or an apology or even a comment, according to Cosby’s lawyers.

What they’re doing is airing a festering grievance, encouraged by a groundswell of public outrage fed by search engines and shared on social media. They’re making it weird to watch those reruns.

They’re changing the conversation about rape in America. It isn’t pretty. But it’s a good thing.”

:Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, on the societal impact of outing abusers. 

(Update: Contrast this with The Wrap’s victim blaming BS via Jezebel.)

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What’s the Point?

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The above, from David Adams’ Identifying the Assaultive Husband in Court: “Too often, those who are in a position to intervene have failed to educate themselves about wife abuse,” and, “Even our questions betray a preoccupation with the victim’s choices and responsibilities rather than those of the perpetrator. We ask, ‘Why does she put up with it ?’ rather than ‘Why does he beat her?'”

This is precisely the mission of this blog — to educate on the issue of Domestic Violence, specifically in Champaign County, Illinois, and to use metadata* gathered by FOIA, as well as information gleaned from research, interviews, and firsthand accounts, to tell the story of a system that still in many ways fails to respond to “best practices,” state laws, and local and municipal policies and protocols in the handling of Domestic Violence cases.

More on the not-so-subtle linguistic ways that we fail to hold abusers responsible and put the emphasis on the victim in Jackson Katz’s TED talk citing Julia Penelope’s work: Watch it here, or read it here.

And last, from Julia Penelope’s talk at Boston College in 1990: “Another example of a grammatical structure that is used to avoid responsibility are the ‘get passives,’ said Penelope. In this structure, the object of the verb is responsible for what happens to the object, she explained. In this case, the object seems to be looking for trouble, and the object equals the agent. These ‘get passives’  transfer the responsibility to the victim. One example Penelope gave was, ‘The rebellious students were attacked/’ and the passive ‘The rebellious students got attacked.’ Another example was, ‘Many women are raped everyday,’ and the passive, ‘Many women get raped everyday.’ Penelope ended by advising the audience to try to identify the agents within and attune themselves to passiveness in language. She also told them to work to destroy the patriarchal language prevalent in society. Dr. Penelope revised the children’s ‘sticks and stones’ saying to, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words do permanent damage.‘”


*Clear data and analysis will help us help others. If you’d like to get involved in data analysis, email info@wordsaredeeds.com for meeting dates & times.

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“My Name Is Not Jane Doe”

From WaPo today, a woman who’s been trying to tell her story for most of her life:

“Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story? Only when a male comedian called Cosby a rapist did the accusation take hold.

In 2004, when Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit against Bill Cosby for sexual assault, her lawyers asked me to testify. Cosby had drugged and raped me, too, I told them. The lawyers said I could testify anonymously as a Jane Doe, but I ardently rejected that idea. My name is not Jane Doe. My name is Barbara Bowman, and I wanted to tell my story in court. In the end, I didn’t have the opportunity to do that, because Cosby settled the suit for an undisclosed amount of money….” (Read more.)

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The Only Predictor of Being a Victim of DV: Being Female

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Credit: The Compiler, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Winter/Spring 2008

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The Aftermath

Champaign, IL — I haven’t written a lot about the aftermath of Domestic Violence because I’m still finding my way and seeking treatment. In some ways, I still have to protect myself from my abuser, so I don’t feel qualified to offer answers (even my own) as I might if many years had elapsed since I’d been violated.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and for me that helped make sense of a lot of the emotional arcs and associated physical reactions I’ve had, and helped guide me to the right kind of therapy for me.

Plainly put, the abuse doesn’t stop the moment you get away from an abusive person. Your brain and body have become accustomed to being assaulted (whether with words or fists) and to reacting to that stimuli. Those triggers are still there and your entire being is still trying to protect you constantly — it’s called hyper-vigilance. That is perhaps the most important thing to remember while you heal after being abused: Your body may feel like it’s working against you, but it’s still trying to protect you. The danger signals your brain continues to send that can result in flashbacks or nightmares are uncomfortable, but they are very simply a result of your innate alarm system having been set off too many times in the past.  Your body and mind must be retrained to work in the way it did before you experienced this kind of trauma.

More on PTSD from experts to come, but in the meantime, please know you’re not alone, there’s help, and that many, many people have once experienced what you are right now. If you think you may be experiencing PTSD (see the diagnostic criteria below), please make an appointment with a Doctor and talk to them about what you are going through. —LH

In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association revised the PTSD diagnostic criteria in the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) (1). The diagnostic criteria are specified below.

Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. The sixth criterion concerns duration of symptoms; the seventh assesses functioning; and, the eighth criterion clarifies symptoms as not attributable to a substance or co-occurring medical condition.

Criterion A: stressor

The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows:  (one required)

  1. Direct exposure.
  2. Witnessing, in person.
  3. Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.
  4. Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.

Criterion B: intrusion symptoms

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s): (one required)

  1. Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive memories.
  2. Traumatic nightmares.
  3. Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) which may occur on a continuum from brief episodes to complete loss of consciousness.
  4. Intense or prolonged distress after exposure to traumatic reminders.
  5. Marked physiologic reactivity after exposure to trauma-related stimuli.

Criterion C: avoidance

Persistent effortful avoidance of distressing trauma-related stimuli after the event: (one required)

  1. Trauma-related thoughts or feelings.
  2. Trauma-related external reminders (e.g., people, places, conversations, activities, objects, or situations).

Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood

Negative alterations in cognitions and mood that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (two required)

  1. Inability to recall key features of the traumatic event (usually dissociative amnesia; not due to head injury, alcohol, or drugs).
  2. Persistent (and often distorted) negative beliefs and expectations about oneself or the world (e.g., “I am bad,” “The world is completely dangerous”).
  3. Persistent distorted blame of self or others for causing the traumatic event or for resulting consequences.
  4. Persistent negative trauma-related emotions (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame).
  5. Markedly diminished interest in (pre-traumatic) significant activities.
  6. Feeling alienated from others (e.g., detachment or estrangement).
  7. Constricted affect: persistent inability to experience positive emotions.

Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity

Trauma-related alterations in arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (two required)

  1. Irritable or aggressive behavior
  2. Self-destructive or reckless behavior
  3. Hypervigilance
  4. Exaggerated startle response
  5. Problems in concentration
  6. Sleep disturbance

Criterion F: duration

Persistence of symptoms (in Criteria B, C, D, and E) for more than one month.

Criterion G: functional significance

Significant symptom-related distress or functional impairment (e.g., social, occupational).

Criterion H: exclusion

Disturbance is not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

Specify if: With dissociative symptoms.

In addition to meeting criteria for diagnosis, an individual experiences high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:

  1. Depersonalization: experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if “this is not happening to me” or one were in a dream).
  2. Derealization: experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g., “things are not real”).

Specify if: With delayed expression.

Full diagnosis is not met until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately.

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Your Response to DV Matters

“Men who batter their wives or girlfriends generally are not seen as abusive individuals by those outside the family. Usually, the batterer maintains a public image as a friendly and caring individual who is a devoted family man. Over time, the batterer destroys the victim’s friendships and family ties so that the victim is isolated. Because most people feel uncomfortable around the abuse, those aware of it avoid contact with the victim. Others avoid contact with the victim because they do not want to admit that the violence occurs. This isolation leaves the victim psychologically dependent on the batterer. The victim fears retaliation by the batterer for calling the police, going to court, or leaving. Most battered women are aware that the police are unresponsive to their calls for help. Prior lack of effective intervention by friends, the police, and the courts leads the victim to believe that no one will treat the abuse seriously.”

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8 Ways to ID a Battering Husband

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A concise read on the characteristics of domestic abusers and why and how Domestic Violence is both actively and passively suppressed, this article in the New Hampshire Bar Association Journal lists 8 ways to identify “Assaultive Husbands.”

1 – Discrepency in public versus private behavior

2 – Minimization and denial

3 – Blaming others

4 – Controlling behaviors

5 – Jealousy and possessiveness

6 – Manipulation of children

7 – Substance abuse

8 – Resistance to change



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you are sorry

you say you are sorry
that you understand it is abuse
you say you will fix things
no medicine
no therapy with your father
no major life changes
no quitting drinking
you say you will fix everything
but the answer is always

that doesn’t stop you from wanting
a move-in date
unconditional love
from me, the answer should always be

or i am

are a good man
missed a workout
forgot to go to church
lost your temper
didn’t get a text back
drank too much
didn’t know where i was
didn’t like who i was with
did like who i was with
did know where i was
did get a text back
you are

but this isn’t
the last four days
two weeks
getting worse
nor getting better
this is your

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Does Champaign County Have A Pro-Prosecutorial Stance For DV?

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Via The Compiler, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Winter/Spring 2008.

Does the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s office have a pro-prosecutorial approach to Domestic Violence? In the wake of a plea this month in a significant DV case involving a shooting here in Champaign County, I have (yet) more questions than answers.

In my personal case (with far less serious physical injuries, but very serious emotional and mental damage), I have begged the Champaign County State’s Attorney for information, prosecution, and protection, yet my abuser has never been charged. Even when my abuser admitted violating my Order of Protection, the SAO’s office said his violations “lacked jury appeal,” and refused prosecution.

More on this latest plea, and the State’s Attorney’s policies regarding DV, as well as data on who gets prosecuted for Domestic Violence in Champaign County and what comes of the prosecution, as details emerge. :LH

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Will the NFL Go Purple?

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I guess the NFL said “I want to stay out of it” this year. Weird. Wonder what the problem was? :LH

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“I Let Him Define Reality.”

“How many times did I find myself on his bathroom floor cowering beneath him, feeling the hot spit land on me as he screamed? Stop crying like a baby. You’re crazy. No one else would put up with you. How many times did I shudder on that floor counting my breaths, bringing myself back from the brink of suffocation during a panic attack that was triggered by one of these maniacal and regular assaults?”

:Reut Amit (Follow her on Twitter.) :LH

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Sexism & Role Reversal: A Short Film

Oppressed Majority via Brain Pickings:

And in case you still somehow believe that’s exaggerated: This. :LH

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DV Victims As Blow Up Dolls?

Some guy dressed up like Ray Rice for Halloween, dragging his “wife” prop along with him. No. Words. :LH

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No More… (Play it. Share it. Live it.)

Champaign, IL — I have had people in Champaign-Urbana say all this to me and about me, and more. No more, “I’m trying to stay out of it.” No more, “He said/She said.” No more passing the buck when victims speak up and beg for help.

Here’s the NFL’s new PSA. Who will volunteer to be in the Champaign County version? :LH

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