Recognize the signs of domestic violence and abuse… Awareness is the first step in healing…

Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence…”  click highlighted text for more…

“There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner.

Domestic Violence & Abuse Help Guide… Quote from this website article…

“Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following descriptions of abuse, reach out.” 


When I write or talk about the subject of domestic violence and abuse, I get shivers and flashbacks of my own childhood and young adult experience.  One such memory is when my Dad freaked out when my brother and I came home with a jaywalking ticket while we were walking around Long Beach, California back in the early 1960’s.  I have a full brain catalog of painful childhood memories that seem to stick around forever.  In this case, and many others the memories are vivid.  My father exploded on many occasions when we were growing up for lots of small things.  Dad suffered severely from the emotional baggage of WWII and Korean War.  We were constantly in fear of him, and expected to be hit in the head on a moments notice and punished severely for things that were not always clear.  Mother would try to protect us but was mostly fearful of him too.

I carried all this emotional baggage with me for decades until finally discovering that talking and writing about it was actually healing.  These days in my later years in life I feel a peace of mind, especially since writing my first book and this blog.  This is my way of keeping the pain of the past at a safe distance.  My work in community service making a difference for children and families through my work with Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon keeps me firmly grounded.  My wife, Judy, is my best friend and soul mate, who provides loving support every day, is a huge factor in my journey of healing as well.  Once becoming aware of the circumstances of domestic violence and child abuse, you can begin your own journey of healing.  But it is a work in progress.  The memories of a painful past come back to haunt most trauma survivors unless we confront the demons head on…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…


How are survivors affected by the constant news of NFL domestic violence and child abuse? Is this kind of stressful awareness and triggers of past emotional pain healthy?

The Joyful Heart Foundation…A Message from Mariska… It all started for me when I began my work on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit over a decade ago. In my research for my role, I encountered statistics that shocked me: One in three women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Every two minutes in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted. More than five children die every day in this country as a result of child abuse and neglect, and up to 15 million children witness domestic violence in their homes each year.

The Joyful Heart Foundation…  Quote from this website article…

“Families or individuals who have experienced domestic violence are in the process of healing both physically and emotionally from multiple traumas. These traumas can have various effects on the mind, body and spirit. It is natural to experience these, and acknowledging the effects can be an important first step in embarking on a process towards restoration and healing.

People who are exposed to domestic violence often experience physical, mental or spiritual shifts that can endure and worsen if they are not addressed. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly three in every 10 women—about 32 million—and one in 10 men in the United States who experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner reported at least one measured impact or effect related to forms of violent behavior in that relationship.1


I am a survivor of domestic violence and child abuse…a lifelong journey of healing is a work in progress…  I noticed this past two weeks with all the news and video clips pounding away at my mind, that my usually upbeat disposition was starting to change for the worse.  It became difficult for me to keep the images and feelings of past emotional pain at a safe distance.  The images of childhood traumatic experiences started to appear much more frequently and put me back in a depressed mental state.  Eventually my healing therapy and training kicked in and I started talking about my feelings with my wife and a close trusted friend.  This was the first step in getting back on track as indicated in the above quote, “ acknowledging the effects can be an important first step in embarking on a process towards restoration and healing.

My close and trusted friend, Byron Lewis, is also a student of NLP.   Byron has written several articles for this blog about NLP (click on highlighted text for more on these alternative treatment strategies for trauma victims) and the therapy value of practicing techniques that can be very effective.

Just today over coffee, Byron, reminded me of one such NLP technique that addresses the images of pain from past traumatic events so that they are not all consuming and powerful.  It works this way…  When the image appears or as soon as you become aware of the image, keep it pictured in your mind and focus on the experience.  Next then, if the image is moving, freeze the frame. If the image is in color, make the image black and white, then look away.  Once the image has changed, try moving to look at it from a different position as if it is projected on a screen. Practice this technique over and over again whenever the painful image appears…  The ultimate result is the image will no longer have power over your thought process…you are then back in control of the present mindfulness of living in the moment…

For me, the journey of healing from a traumatic past is always a work in progress.  Human connectedness, including support from family and friends is truly the best way to keep the emotional pain from the past at a safe distance.  Trying to remove the pain of these images with denial never works and it takes so much longer to heal.  Being proactive and completely aware of post trauma symptoms is the very first step in healing.   Good luck on your own journey of healing…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…


Sir Patrick Stewart’s Story Inspires Trauma Survivors to Make a Difference…

Sir Patrick Stewart…photo by — Nino Munoz

Finding a Light in the Darkness… Sir Patrick Stewart “banished his demons by fighting for battered women and veterans…by Meg Grant…

“Far from the heroic, self-assured characters he’s played — and the joyful person he is today — Stewart was for decades a man plagued by fear and stifled by rage. The roots of his struggle go back to a difficult childhood, marked by poverty and abuse that took him years to understand. Having only recently opened up about the trauma of his early years, he now behaves as a person liberated, and eager, finally, to step out and join the party.”


When self-talk of being too old or who cares enters my mind at the prime age of 68, mentors like Sir Patrick Stewart, 73, come to my rescue.  I have written about Patrick Stewart in the past.  Patrick’s childhood was toxic (click highlighted text) in a post WWII culture of silence, secrecy, and pain.  He grew up in a home suffering from the symptoms of PTSD created by the trauma of his father’s WWII combat experience.

Patrick Stewart’s father  (click on highlighted text for video clip) was angry following WWII and was violent toward his mother…but did not abuse his children…  It was quite the opposite in my father’s case following WWII.  We siblings took the brunt of Dad’s anger for many years, especially during the “too terrible to remember 1950’s.”  My mother lived in fear of course, and the constant toxic conditions at home caused her to suffer terribly with secondary PTSD.  Mother still has flashbacks at age 96. 

Like many trauma survivors following WWII, years of silence, ignorance, and stigma attached to mental health issues caused the emotional pain to linger on for many years and even a lifetime.  Those survivors like Patrick Stewart discovered a career passion that kept the pain at a safe distance.  Eventually, once becoming aware of the roots of PTSD and alternative treatment strategies, thousands of trauma survivors like me, including Patrick Stewart, have been able to start our own path of healing by reaching out and making a difference for others.

Although a work in progress, it is possible for trauma survivors to achieve peace of mind and a joyful life even after many decades of emotional pain from the symptoms of PTSD.  I now feel blessed to have been able to confront my own demons in very healthy ways…  Please take a look at my archives and find a topic that gets your attention… To learn more about alternative treatment strategies click “Letting go of what you can’t change,” a recent post.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…


“After husband’s tragic death, widow takes on PTSD” – Stars and Stripes

In this May 2, 2014 photo, family, friends and members of the military gather beside Kryn Miner’s casket after his funeral outside St. Lawrence Church in Essex, Vt. His widow Amy Miner, third from left, believes the Veterans Affairs health system must do more to help veterans who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after returning home. EMILY MCMANAMY, BURLINGTON FREE PRESS/AP

Widow takes on cause of PTSD awareness…

In this May 12, 2014 photo, Amy Miner, of Essex, Vt., poses in Burlington, Vt., with an April 2013 photo of herself and husband Kryn Miner, an Army veteran who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and who was shot to death by one of their children in April after threatening to kill the family. Amy Miner believes the Veterans Affairs health system must do more to help veterans who struggle with PTSD after returning home. HOLLY RAMER/AP


The story referenced in this blog post, is very real to me, and the tragedy can happen to any family living with the painful circumstances and toxic behavior connected with family dynamics in the privacy of home.   I write in my book about the constant fear and threat that can make loved ones feel trapped and in fear of their own lives.  Constant outbursts of anger and rage causing emotional and physical abuse have the potential of a life threatening action either as a suicide to end the pain, or the ultimate act of defense by a loved one to escape the nightmare of domestic violence.

We must do more in our communities at the local level to take ownership for helping veterans on their journey of healing in life after war.  In my view, the VA does not currently have the capacity to provide critical care or appropriate personal connection with veterans when they return home.  Veterans suffering from the painful symptoms of PTS feel lost when they return home.  If there is an unrealistic expectation of what the VA is supposed to do or not do, responsibility for caregiving in the local community can suffer.  The lack of speedy access to “tender loving care” and the ignorance of denial at home where our warriors live, puts lives at risk every day.  I know from my own childhood experience how scared we were as siblings observing my father’s frequent rages and angry outbursts.  We had no choice but to stay out of the line of fire as much as we could.  We couldn’t wait for the opportunity to get away from home to be with friends or in the safety of teachers at school.

If this tragic story, along with my own reflective comments, rings a bell in your own circumstance, or with someone else, do not hesitate to seek help from friends and neighbors, including local mental health resources.  Do not give up or wait for the VA to act.  The local community must take action as the primary caregivers of veterans who struggle adjusting to life following extended deployments in combat.  Don’t let your hero feel lost in the shuffle of a higher bureaucracy and alone at home suffering in silence not wanting to impose on friends, family, and local resources.  Our warriors protected us and risked their lives.  Now, we must do our part to care for them when they return home.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation, A Son’s Story

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author