7 Tips for Getting a Friend Through a Divorce

When the Dalai Lama says that his religion is kindness, you may think that he’s being a little simplistic. But have you considered what it means to be kind? It means really listening to others, allowing your friends to open their hearts and listening to their problems without judging them, then finding the right response that may lead them gently in a new direction.

 A classic time to be truly kind is when one of your friends is going through a relationship breakup. The end of a relationship is one of the most difficult upheavals many people will ever face. It’s an emotional roller coaster that you would like to help your friend survive, but how do you do that?

 Here are 7 tips for how you can help your friend navigate this emotional mine field.

  1. Be careful not to assign blame. Your friend may be blaming his soon-to-be ex, thus fanning the flames of anger. Or he might be blaming himself for failing to keep the relationship alive and healthy, and is angry at himself and guilt-ridden. You can remind him that not all relationships are meant to last forever, and the romantic relationship can transform into one of friendship, which is especially important if children are involved. Suggest he find a place where he can express his anger safely and release his guilt, such as in group therapy.
  2. Encourage your friend to express her feelings, whatever they are. If she’s being stoic, remind her that emotions that aren’t expressed can get trapped in the body where they can do physical harm. She can take up beating pillows or kick boxing or going down to the beach to holler at the waves, whatever it takes to let the emotions run their course.
  3. Help him understand that this is a period of significant loss. Loss of a significant other can be worse than death, and requires a mourning period and great personal adjustment. Grief is normal. He may be losing all their mutual friends, where he lives, even his pets. Remind him he has the opportunity to gain a better understanding of who he is by himself, without having to defer to another, an understanding of what he really wants in life, and what he needs to do in order to heal himself. All of which require time.
  4. Reassure your friend that her sex life doesn’t end when the relationship does; in fact, it may improve. She is still attractive (no matter how old she is) and worthy of finding love again, when she is ready. Her self-esteem need not be lessened by divorce, and there’s no need to “prove” her desirability by jumping into another relationship right away. And if your friend is of the gender of your own preference, don’t think jumping into bed with him/her is an act of kindness, it’s not. Stick to being friends without “benefits.”
  5. Help him with practical matters that may be new to him, like setting up a kitchen and cooking. He’d probably love help with moving, getting settled in the new place and making new friends. Above all, stay in touch with him so he doesn’t feel alone.
  6. It’s very therapeutic to watch others going through the same things you are. Watch movies with your friend that can help her express what she’s feeling, from “The First Wives Club” and “War of the Roses” to “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Waiting to Exhale,” “The Squid and the Whale,” “Wonder Boys,” and a host of others.
  7. We all “get by with a little help from our friends.” Be the friend who can make your friend laugh.

As Oprah has said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” Now that’s the kindness of a true friend.


Capital Punishment Punishes Everyone

Troy Davis was murdered by the state of Georgia on Wednesday, September 21st, yet there remains much doubt about his guilt. Justice seems to have taken a lethal injection in the Davis case – in my opinion, capital punishment is itself a crime. When we deliberately execute someone, we diminish our own humanity.

The only good to come out of the Davis execution is that it has ramped up the forces of those of us who want to see capital punishment abolished. If only it wasn’t such a handy platform for politicians who want to be seen as “tough on crime.” Just look at Rick Perry in Texas, whose constituents cheer his stand on the death penalty.

There are other ways to keep murderers from harming anyone else. I know there are evil people out there. I know there are those who deliberately set out to harm others. But capital punishment is a crime against humanity.

Click here to read my blog on the Huffington Post and post your comment there – make your position on capital punishment known; make your voice count.


Help Keep Our Young Men Alive

They are so young. In their teens and early twenties. And, around the world, they are now dying at a higher rate than children.

It used to be that infectious disease carried away far more little ones. But some of those diseases are being brought under control and infant and child mortality are decreasing. Now, it’s reckless driving, violence, and suicide that make us lose our sons, brothers, friends.

It’s always painful to read about young men who are tormented about their sexuality being beaten, bullied, or killed, or committing suicide. It’s always troubled teen boys who barge into schools with semi-automatic weapons. It’s male drivers under the age of 25 that are the most likely to be involved in fatal auto crashes. They’re too busy doing other things while driving, like texting. It’s young men, especially those involved in street or gang violence or drug trafficking, who are most likely to die through homicide.

The big question is why?


When Caring Too Much Causes Illness

While much of the regret we harbor inside comes from our own actions (infidelities we’ve had, accidents we’ve caused, debt we’ve gotten ourselves into) as well as from those important things in life we failed to do (opportunities unexplored, love not shared, forgiveness unspoken, once-in-a-lifetime events not attended), sometimes regret stems from something that has nothing to do with us. Something we have absolutely no control over or say in. Sometimes regret—those feelings of grief, sorrow, and remorse—come from our exposure to the world’s innumerable tragedies and devastations.

We all feel how small the world has become through the advances in technology. With a mere click of the mouse or remote control, the whole world comes into our lives and living rooms. On a daily basis, many of us witness unimaginable violence and suffering. Kidnappings, murders, suicides. Genocide, terrorism. Natural disasters that leave millions in their wake. Public figures coming to tragic ends as they lose battles with drug addiction or disease. And, of course, a national and global economy on the brink of depression. The daily news provides no shortage of things to feel empathy for, and for those who continually tune in with an open heart, this constant negative input eventually takes its toll on their psyche and physical health.

The mind-body connection dictates that what enters our consciousness also enters the rest of our being. When we take in the energy from the outside world, and attach to it emotions such as sorrow and remorse, that energy has to go somewhere. Unless we release it, which few know how to do, it goes into our body, where it blocks our energy field, causing stagnation and, ultimately, a physical or mental disease condition. I hear this complaint all the time at my energy healing workshops. I see the havoc too much empathy is having on people’s lives.

At a recent seminar, for example, 20-year-old Mandy joined me on the stage, complaining of recurring bladder infections. Talking with her, I learned that she was a passionate, empathetic young woman who worked for an animal rescue while attending school part-time. Her frequent health problems kept her from work at times, and she regretted that she was not able to devote more of herself to saving the plethora of homeless animals.

Mandy is clearly a person who feels deeply. Not only does she advocate for the animals at the shelter, but she also went to Louisiana after the Gulf oil disaster to help with the devastation that happened to people and animals there. As we talked about her terrible regret over the devastation to the Gulf and the wildlife that make it their home, the picture of her health became clear.

In Mandy’s energy field I picked up a great deal of bitterness, the result of frustration about all the animals she felt powerless to help. This unprocessed bitterness was the cause of her bladder problems. While her heart was in the right place—she wanted to do her part to alleviate the suffering in the world—she wasn’t aware that she was allowing her need to help overpower her ability to help, leaving her feeling frustrated and bitter.

Many people, like Mandy, feel that selflessness is the only way to be a “good” person, that anything less is narcissistic or self-centered. I adamantly disagree. I see all the time the kind of toll this takes in people who come to me for help; it’s in their energy fields and in the various dysfunctions of their life, including emotional pain and, for some, like Mandy, illness of the body.

Please don’t get me wrong, empathy and compassion are high virtues. Of course they are. They are the reason I do the teaching, speaking, and energy healing work I myself do. They stir us to alleviate suffering and to uplift others where we can. But we all have to know the point at which it becomes too much to handle. Where the wise adage of “Moderation in all things” has gone out the window. When we give too much of ourselves, taking us off kilter, it doesn’t do anyone any good. As we’ve seen, getting bogged down in the tragedies of others, distorts our energy centers, or chakras, blocks our healthy energy flow, and lowers our own vibration to the point of disempowering us and making us susceptible to dysfunction and disease.

So, what can you do if you’ve already depleted yourself to the point of anger and resentment, disempowerment, and/or illness? The following simple steps can help pull you out of a regretful state and reverse any blockage accumulating in your energetic, emotional, and physical systems. They are powerful tools for self-healing that bring emotional pain relief as well as act as energy healing to the body:

  1. Take time for yourself. This was the first thing I recommended to Mandy, who wasn’t doing any of the things a girl her age would normally do. We all need time for ourselves, time to just be—to relax, unwind, socialize, play. We need time to enjoy being alive without an agenda of getting something done. Otherwise, life tramples our boundaries and some of our essential needs go unmet. Talk about the perfect recipe for anger and resentment! You’ll see this all the time in the healing professions, where people give, give, give and never get in return. They become overwhelmed with anger and resentment, which, of course, only adds to the toxic energy buildup in their energy fields and bodies that then manifests as disease. It also detracts from the quality of service they have to give. Bottom line: Before we can give to others, we need to first fill our own wells.
  2. Tune out some of the negative and tune in more to joy. Go on a “news diet,” cutting down on the amount of death and destruction you take in and adding in its place something lighter, like play. While it’s important to know what’s going on in the world (which you can do, by the way, by skimming Internet news sites for about two minutes), you don’t have to witness every replay of the World Trade Center crumbling or every dying bird in the Gulf. Instead, add to your day some laughter and joy. I watch one rerun of Seinfeld every night an hour before going to sleep to get my laughter quota and to take a few minutes to relax my mind. You’d be amazed at what a powerfully renewing “therapy” this is.
  3. Uplift the planet by raising your own consciousness. Instead of trying to rescue the world in person, which will eventually deplete you, try uplifting the world by raising your consciousness. The easiest ways to do this, which you know about already if you have read my spiritual self-help book Truth Heals, are through journaling, meditation, and prayer. Writing in a journal helps you clear out your emotions on a daily basis. It’s great emotional hygiene! When I first began journaling to heal myself of cancer, I took a notepad around with me and jotted down every emotion I had, as often as I had them. I wrote it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly—anger, jealousy, resentment, you name it. When journaling, nothing is off limits. In fact, the uglier the better, as you need to get those toxic emotions out, to keep them from building up and creating energy blocks that can ultimately cause disease.

Meditation and prayer expand our consciousness and allow us to connect to and communicate with a higher source. As we begin vibrating at a higher frequency, we lift others up—just by our presence. Think of meditation as simply connecting your consciousness to the unified field for a certain period of time, where your consciousness sends out ripples into the vast ocean of consciousness, ever expanding at a higher level. Prayer, especially when it takes the form of gratitude for the perfection that lies just outside our human view (for example, visualizing the Gulf in all of its former glory) can also create the very state we desire. Certainly more productive than wallowing in helplessness and overwhelm, this can also do more for healing the situation than traveling to the disaster site to lend physical support, which may be unrealistic for many. From my own remission from cancer, plus years of training and working with people around the world, I know for a fact that journaling, meditation, and prayer have a tremendous, tangible power to heal.

  1. Redefine what it means to be of service. Many of us think that being of service needs to be grand, and so we give more than we can afford. Usually, this giving is out of a need for approval and acceptance. Deep inside, we don’t feel we are enough, and so we compensate. We’re so desperate for approval that we lose all sense of our boundaries and self-care. But being of service is really just about love. It’s the “chop wood, carry water” instruction from the famous Zen proverb: Take what nature has given you, just be exactly where you are, and do what you do with an attitude of love. Elevate others; mean them well. Intend them happiness and health. When you align your actions with those intentions, you’ll be of service to everyone you meet. And, don’t forget to include yourself in those you care for!

These few changes can dramatically improve your emotional health as well as the state of your body. The love, care, and service you give needs to be from a balanced and filled place.

One final cautionary word about empathy for all the aspiring healers out there: We all do empathic healing naturally, mostly with our family members and pets—where we take their pain and illness into our own energy fields and bodies to “process.” One of the first things I teach someone who wants to become a healer is how not to do that! That’s because empathic healing requires you to take in another’s negative energy through your own body in order to move it out of them; fine on occasion, but not as a daily practice. For more information about becoming certified as a healer in my 21st Century Energy Medicine Program, visit

Oprah addresses incest again

It takes courage to speak out about incest, but talking about it is a major component of healing from the trauma of abuse. It’s bottling up the secret that keeps a victim feeling “dirty,” and filled with guilt and shame. Yesterday, Oprah had a follow-up show to her interview with Mackenzie Phillips that featured more brave souls who shared their experiences of incest—women who had been afraid to speak out until Mackenzie opened the door for them.

One of the guests was Kathryn Harrison, who had written a book about her 4-year incestuous “affair” with her father, called The Kiss. When it was first written, over a decade ago, no one believed her. As more people reveal their experiences, it will become safer for victims to open up about the traumas that shaped their lives.

Watching Oprah’s show, I was once again triggered to remember some of my past with my father. You can read about it at


Domestic Violence: Breaking Free

I just finished writing a piece on Domestic Violence; you can read more about domestic violence abuse in the resources section. I get really triggered just writing about this topic. It seems like everywhere I turn, I find more cases of Domestic Violence, not less. Recently, we’ve been focused on MacKenzie Phillips and Roman Polanski – talk about violence. Last week, I worked with hundreds of individual women at ISpa, a high end conference for the spa industry, where one would NOT expect to find victims of violence. The first day, I worked with a lovely woman in an executive position who had been badly beaten by her boyfriend – he had broken her nose.  So don’t assume that you’re safe because your partner is college educated and has a job. Domestic Violence does not discriminate; it affects us all.

Please share your stories here. We can only be safe when we refuse to be silenced.


David Carradine and Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation

It looks more and more likely that actor David Carradine’s death was related to the risky sexual practice called auto-erotic asphyxiation, or AEA. It’s the grown-up version of what kids call the “choking game.” Carrdaine, who is best known for his recent role in the “Kill Bill” movies and the mid-’70s TV series “Kung Fu,” was found in his Bangkok hotel room with ropes tied around his neck, genitals, and wrists. His ex-wives confirm his penchant for dangerous forms of sex play.


Why did the Craigslist Killer’s fiance stand by her man?









Why do women feel the necessity of standing by their man even when he’s proven himself to be not only untrustworthy, but even dangerous? We’ve watched Megan McAllister originally stand by Philip Markoff, Rihanna maybe/maybe not stand up for Chris Brown, Silda Spitzer stick to her marriage despite her husband’s way with call girls, Hillary Clinton stand by her man, and so many others. In this blog for the Huffington Post, I talk about the way women are unconsciously trained in patriarchal myths we may have thought were long since gone.

Stand by your man . . . no matter who he kills or beats up?

What exactly was Megan McAllister thinking when she said, “I love my fiancé and will continue to support him throughout this legal process”? Or more accurately, what was her state of denial as she watched officers retrieve the panties of Philip Markoff’s victims and the gun used to shoot one of them from the hollowed out “Grey’s Anatomy” book he kept under the bed they slept in? This was the “loving and caring person” who kept duct tape, plastic zip handcuffs, and a semiautomatic weapon in his home. Just how blind can love be? Read full post


Is Love Blind? Ask Megan McAllister

How could Megan McAllister, the fiancée of the Craigslist Killer, Philip Markoff, possibly consider that he’s a “loving and caring person” after all the evidence against him? For that matter, what causes a lot of women to be blindsided by their men’s faults? Think of Rihanna going back to Chris Brown, or Silda Spitzer still standing by her man. Is it pure denial, or are there unconscious promptings at work here? It would be wise for us all to bring more awareness to the ingrained beliefs we carry that are a hand-me-down from old patriarchal ideals. They have not been wiped out by feminism and women’s rights. If you think you’re free of them, think again. Read my blog on the Huffington Post here.


Can Of Worms: Huckaby Rape with a Foreign Object

Based on the scores of comments to my latest Huffington Post blog, it looks like I’ve opened up a real can of worms in the psyche of the American public by writing about my own experience being abused with a “foreign object,” and delving into the unthinkable area of what could be behind a pedophile’s horrific acts. I am always seeking to shed light in the dark corners. The more aware everyone is that these types of abuses are suffered by innocent children all over the world, and the more we become unafraid to admit what has happened in our own lives, the sooner we can put an end to this scourge of humanity.

There is so much confusion and wrong thinking– especially in a case like that of Melissa Huckaby, where a woman, a mom, allegedly sexually abuses a young girl. I hope this blog offers readers some insight into a dark and murky area.

Melissa Huckaby and the Unthinkable Sex Object

As horrifying as the murder of an 8-year-old is, the truly unimaginable aspect of the Melissa Huckaby case, for most people, is her alleged use of a foreign object to rape Sandra Cantu. How could a woman, a mom (!), do this to a little girl? How . . . why . . . with what kind of an object? It’s unfathomable, hard to think about, dark, evil. The only “safe” conclusion is that the woman must be insane. In fact, along with other experts, I doubt if Huckaby is insane. And as I know both from personal experience and from working with many abused women, rape with a foreign object is not as unusual as one would like to think.

I make no excuses for Melissa Huckaby nor for anyone who commits abuse.

Read the full Article at HuffingtonPost

Additional comments from the discussion thread at the Huffington Post article:

I tried to make it clear that it’s been my professional experience, working with both those who have been abused and a few perpetrators, that the sort of thing that has been alleged in this case is rarely about sexual attraction per se, but is more about power. When a pedophile is acting unconsciously from his or her own experience of abuse, gender is often irrelevant.

I have actually worked with a few perpetrators. What I learned from them was how individual each one’s motives were and often how totally unconscious they were of them. As Bejugo noted, sometimes it’s about sex, sometimes it’s about power. My experience has been that it’s most often a combination of the two: that they had an early sexual experience that was titillating and that the urge to re-experience that feeling works in tandem with the need to overpower another.



December 10, 2007

Witnessing violence in person or on TV, like the shooting that occurred this week at an Omaha shopping center, can wreak havoc with our bodies. Typical initial reactions are feelings of not really being here, feeling disbelief, floating or spacey or detached. These are feelings of shock. It’s very important to actively work our way out of shocking incidents, even if we only saw it on television; otherwise, it can cause us trouble later. Post traumatic stress syndrome, suffered by so many Vietnam and Iraqi vets and by so many after 9/11, is the medical term for what can happen when we store trauma in our bodies.

I would worry about post traumatic stress symptoms for anyone exposed to this kind of trauma. They can show up weeks, even months, after we’ve been exposed to violence. Be on the lookout if you develop phobias or insomnia or digestive disorders or substance abuse. These are all indications that we haven’t yet successfully processed the violence out of our bodies.

It’s really important that we address trauma as soon as possible. Witnessing violence, whether in person or on television, can cause anxiety, phobias, sleeplessness, and even a sense of not really “being here.” It can negatively affect immune function and bone health, and is a causative factor in rectal and colon cancer.

In order to counteract the negative effects of such an event, of primary importance is to simply talk about what happened and how it makes you feel. In addition, the simple practice of coming into the present can help the parasympathetic nervous system take over to manage anxiety and help us cope.

Then go out and spend some time in nature. Watch the sunrise. Listen to the birds. Sit on the grass and smell the scent of terra firma beneath you. This is not denial or avoidance; this is re-grounding. Take a few deep breaths and connect to your feet, then work up to your calves and your knees, then up to your stomach, chest, throat, and finally the top of your head. Acknowledge the feelings in your body and, when you are ready, say to yourself: I want to be here now.

All of us face tragedy at times in our lives. When a tragedy of this magnitude occurs, a shock wave travels throughout the collective mind: it can happen anywhere at anytime. Our shared helplessness at that exposure can draw us together. Talk about what it means to go on, console each other. Compassion and care will, over time, allow the rest of us to go on.


Did Drew Peterson Do It?

Did Drew Peterson do it?

December 3, 2007

Did Drew Peterson kill his fourth wife, Stacy? That’s the question on everyone’s minds today. The family members of his missing wife certainly think so. A key witness and relative of Drew’s told a friend that he helped move a barrel that was warm to the touch from Peterson’s bedroom to an SUV. Two days later that relative was so distressed he tried to commit suicide.

Is Drew Peterson a sociopath? He certainly exhibits many characteristics. He doesn’t seem to be upset about his wife’s disappearance. When interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today show, he looked indifferent, arrogant, almost bored. For a man who had a history of following his wife everywhere she went and checking up on her constantly, he has no evidence or information about the alleged boyfriend he claims she had.

The typical sociopath has enough superficial charm to attract people to them. They’re inclined to be manipulative and cunning, have a sense of entitlement, lie easily, lack remorse, are callous, not concerned about wrecking the lives of others, and exercise unreasonable control over others. Think O.J. Simpson—a classic example of sociopathic behavior and a dead wife.

Drew’s been married four times, so clearly he has enough charm to initially attract women. Stacy and a former girlfriend both reported that he was very, very controlling—following them everywhere. The mysterious drowning death of his third wife is now being investigated. Perhaps it wasn’t an accident. The media who follow Drew and the interviews he has given show a man who seems to have a disconnect between what he claims and reality.

How can we avoid hooking up with a sociopath? Any time you meet someone who has these characteristics, run, don’t walk, in the other direction. Women especially need to be very careful to avoid men who are both charmers and liars, who don’t seem to care about your welfare, and, most dangerous of all, want to control you. Ladies, it starts small: they tell you you can’t talk to your friends on the phone or see your family. If any man ever does that to you, leave immediately and don’t come back, ever!



The Choking Game

November 15, 2007

Why are kids engaged in the choking “game?”

It’s natural for teenagers to want to court danger; it’s how they get ready to move from childhood to adulthood. Even just a hundred years ago, there would have been opportunities for 15-year-olds to prove they were adults by killing a wild animal or doing tricks off a horse or going west. Today’s kids have very limited choices: they can drive too fast, do drugs and alcohol, or, more recently, participate in the choking game. Whether they do it to one another or alone, it’s a really dangerous activity, and hardly a game. Any time you deprive your brain of oxygen, it starts to die, and can result in a stroke, seizure, or even death. Recent statistics show nearly a 1,000 deaths a year from this deadly “game.”

So why do kids do it? Is there something addictive about the game?

Yes. It produces both euphoric and erotic feelings. And when you’re unconscious, you can’t protect yourself from abusive behavior; that’s what happened to this poor girl. The message she mistakenly sent to her boyfriend and his friends was that she didn’t respect her own body, so why should they?

What can parents do?

Since our brains develop last, well after our bodies, teens often don’t have the mental capacity to appreciate danger, so parents need to point out it out, even to their strapping 6-foot sixteen year olds. Just as you would warn your children about the dangers of driving too fast or drinking and driving, you will also want to warn them about the dangers of this crazy practice. And watch out for warning signs: bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, headaches, or ropes or cords in unusual places.

Knowledge and safety go hand in hand.


Oprah School Scandal

November 5, 2007

Children feel three main emotions when they are abused:

1. Fear that they will be hurt or humiliated or blamed.

2. Anger that they are like prey, helpless and powerless.

3. Shame because they are sure it’s their fault. When anything goes wrong, kids blame themselves.

One out of every three girls will have been sexually abused before the age of 18 in the US; worldwide, the figures are even higher. The fact that it happened at this school, whose founder, Oprah Winfrey, stands for the welfare of girls and women around the world and whose very purpose in opening the school was to provide a protective and caring environment for girls, shows just how pervasive this problem is.

What I’ve learned from working with thousands of abuse victims is that abuse destroys children’s basic sense of place and safety in the world, especially when it’s inflicted by our own family or caregivers. If not treated, it tends to show up later as illness and addiction. The key is treatment to remove the fear, anger, and shame that come with abuse. There are therapies that address this problem and can undo the damage—the sooner the better. It will be crucial to involve the parents so that the children don’t feel they have a terrible secret they have to keep.



September 10, 2007

Mary Winkler shot her minister husband, Matthew, in Selmer, Alabama, in the back and killed him after 10 years of abuse. The final straw, according to Mary, was when he put his hands over their one-year-old baby’s nose and mouth in an effort to stop her crying. Mary “snapped,” got out of a closet the shotgun that he had threatened her with in the past and pointed it at him,“so she could talk to him.” Then she heard a “big boom.” He collapsed to the floor and bled to death within a few minutes.

Charged with first-degree murder, Mary was convicted in April of voluntary manslaughter, and was released from prison in August. She spent her last two months in custody in a mental health facility where she was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. All told, she spent seven months in custody. Her three children (8, 6, and 1 year old) were placed in the custody of her husband’s parents, who are now trying to get permanent custody of the children. Mary is also trying to get custody. Her ex in-laws have sued her in the civil courts for $2M in connection with the death of their son.

Mary was obviously the victim of serious emotional and physical abuse. Her father reported years before seeing her face bruised, despite heavy make-up she used to cover her injuries. Mary testified at trial that her married life was living hell: she couldn’t do anything right and was terrified of her husband. She also testified that he insisted that she dress up as a hooker in the bedroom and forced her to have oral and anal sex, which she felt were unnatural. He often threatened her life.

Oprah interviewed Mary recently, and that interview showed she has all the marks of someone with post-traumatic stress syndrome. She seems “flat” and almost emotionless. She is unable to look at the interviewer or the camera, which evidences all the shame she carries for never being able to measure up to her husband’s increasingly unreasonable demands. During the interview, she repeatedly blamed herself for her husband’s problems and says she hasn’t suffered enough. This is classic behavior for someone heavily abused: the victim thinks it must be all their fault.

Like so many wives of men in public positions, Mary tried to keep the abuse a secret. She was overworked, lonely, and had nowhere to turn—a situation likely to become explosive.

Women can learn much from Mary’s situation. If you feel afraid for your own safety or that of your children, don’t wait! Get help immediately. It’s like the frog that sits in water that gets progressively hotter until it dies; lots of times we don’t realize just how miserable and unsafe we really are while the heat gets turned up a little each day. Mary said to Oprah,“I’m a different woman now. I speak up more.” We can learn that lesson from her!

Can Mary get her children back? It will be up to the Tennessee judge, but she should. Her conviction of manslaughter in no way infers an inability to be a good mother to her children. Her children need her.