Listen for the Whispers of Abuse

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The statistics in 2023 are still staggering.

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. For one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
  • On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

I’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Gardella. Once a victim herself, she is now victorious and has penned a book that addresses the signs of abuse, the types, and importantly what to do and what not to do if you suspect someone you know is being victimized.

The Author

Jennifer Gardella, Ph.D., is a survivor of domestic violence and a passionate advocate now raising awareness about this pervasive issue. In her debut book “Domestic Violence Awareness: Listen for the Whispers of Abuse” Jennifer shares the remarkable journey she took transforming from victim to advocate.

In the throes of the abusive relationship, Jennifer did not know that it was domestic violence nor that her abuser was slowly dismantling her well-being and life. It was only after her escape that she began to comprehend the intricate layers of abuse and manipulation she had endured.

With unwavering determination, Jennifer has now made it her mission to educate others, ensuring that victims and their friends, loved ones, family members, and colleagues understand that domestic violence extends far beyond physical harm. Her writing focuses on the tactics used by abusers, including emotional and psychological abuse. She emphasizes that we need to keep looking for abuse but also start listening to the stories of victims. Jennifer wants to empower individuals to recognize the signs, offer support, and ultimately help victims break the cycle of domestic violence.

In Jennifer’s personal life, she adores her three fabulous adulting children, her dog Henry, and a great guy who recently slipped an ice-skating rink on her finger. She loves spending time with her circle of trust, to whom she is eternally grateful, as they each played a critical part in her escape.

Jennifer completed her undergraduate work at Fordham University and earned a master’s and Ph.D. in educational psychology and statistics from Rutgers University. In her professional life she is a digital marketing consultant with expertise in helping business owners reach ideal clients using blogging and social media.

Jennifer looks forward to connecting with readers and those who work in the domestic violence space.

The Book

In Domestic Violence Awareness: Listen for the Whispers of Abuse, readers will discover multiple methods to tune into the experiences of victims beyond only looking for physical harm. Many secret layers are discussed, including love bombing, the dark mirror, blaming, reactive abuse, hoovering, trauma bonding, financial abuse, fat shaming, post-separation abuse, and gaslighting. This book is essential for family members, loved ones, friends, and colleagues who harbor concerns but find themselves perplexed about how to support a victim.

The Interview

Why were you the best person to write this book?

I have a unique perspective as a survivor of domestic violence who rebuilt her life after escaping.

Who is your intended audience and/or reader for this book?
  •   When I lived in abuse, I had no idea that the emotional and psychological brutality I was experiencing was domestic violence (or even abuse). I believed he had every right to rage like he did because of his background.  I thought it was my responsibility to heal him. When victims see the information, I hope they will say, “Oh, that is my life,” and start to safety plan to get out.
  • Loved ones, colleagues, friends, and family members who know abusive behavior is going on in a relationship but don’t know what to do about it. Rather than just say, “he’s just a jerk” or “It’s none of my business because she chooses to stay with him,” they will now know she is living in abuse and needs help.
  • Human Resources Executives: so, they realize the types of support they need to put in place for employees (victims and those supporting victims).
  • Everyone else so that they know the signs of emotional and physical abuse and how to talk to and support victims. Once you hear that someone is a victim/survivor, you must let them know you are a safe space.
Not all domestic abuse is physical. What are the other types?

Domestic Violence is any pattern of behavior of emotional and psychological abuse that is meant to control, manipulate, coerce, or intimidate a victim.

Emotional and Psychological Abuse:   humiliating, constantly criticizing, threatening, blaming, ignoring; neglect, isolation.

Gaslighting:  get the victim to doubt her own sanity (“you are lying” “that didn’t happen”)

Shame:  Fat shaming, financial shaming (I have more than you or I make all the money)

Financial Abuse:  holding power over all the money.

Reactive Abuse:  he attacks her, and she fights back.  Then he blames her for her actions, forgetting what caused the fight in the first place.

Trauma bonding:  a cycle of abuse – he love bombs her then drips in abuse. Then love bombs her again to bring her back – slowly, this cycle continues, but the abuse gets worse and worse, and the love bombing is fewer and farther apart.

How do female abusers differ from male abusers?

This one I can’t answer… yet.

What are the signs that someone you know is being abused?

You’ll hear it from the abusers themselves – they humiliate their victim in public with an awful story, or he has a humiliating nickname for her.  He publicly makes fun of her.

Then, you hear from the victims in the stories that they share:

  • He doesn’t let me have my cell phone in the house.
  • He screams and rages and then blames me – I apologize but have no idea what I am apologizing for.
  • I’m not allowed access to any money – I must ask him for a credit card or cash to buy food for the house and clothes for the kids.
  • I clean the house, and he inspects it. When he finds things wrong, I must start over.
  • He screams that he isn’t attracted to me and wants me to lose 10 pounds.
  • He serves me my food because he doesn’t want me to eat too much.
  • His ex-wife sent an email that upset him, and he raged at me for two hours, accused me of wasting his time (even though I hadn’t said a word), and then I apologized – but I’m not sure what I apologized for.
If you suspect a friend or relative is being abused what is the safest way to approach them?

Assume that the victim has no idea she is living in abuse, and if she isn’t being physically hurt, it might take some time for her to understand fully.

You may want to talk to her or slowly drip information (hey, I read this blog post, book, article, and it sounds exactly like a story you told me about your life).

What NOT to do: Start off too strong with questions like “Why do you stay with him?” or “I could never put up with him, not sure why you do.”  You do not want to tell her she is living with domestic violence or that he is abusive.  She could run back to her abuser and tell him, and then he will forbid her from seeing you (isolation)

Is there a national domestic violence phone number?

https://www.thehotline.org/

800-799-7233

What was your writing process?

At the start of 2022 Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 2022 I decided to write a post a day about the forms of DV that we all don’t know about – the psychological and emotional.  The response was overwhelming – calls, texts, comments on the posts & private messages with victims sharing their stories, or individuals reaching out to support victims.

In the end, a therapist friend asked me where I was getting the information because she wanted it for her clients.  She shared that there was nothing like it available.  I shared this request with my good friend Mary Fran Bontempo (also a writer) who told me to publish it.

As I cleaned up the posts to publish, the book swelled and contracted as I was still processing the abuse.  A few friends read it – gave comments – I made some changes – and sent it off to the formatter.

How did you choose your publishing process?

I decided to self-publish because I wanted the book out as soon as possible.

I did use an expert formatter who helped me get the files ready.

Will you write another book?

Absolutely.  There is a memoir in this story that needs to be told.

Are you available to speak on the topic of domestic violence, and if so, how can you be reached?

Absolutely and I have been already!

I can be reached at jennifer@thegardellagroup.com

Or individuals can book a call with me to discuss their needs:  https://callwithjen.thegardellagroup.com/jens-calendar-booking-page

On a lighter note, do you have a favorite local restaurant, and if so what are you ordering off the menu?

Pineville Tavern in Buckingham PA:  Sometimes it’s a delicious healthy salad, sometimes it’s the famous Cheesesteak Eggrolls and a French Martini

Pinevilletavern.com

What is your TV guilty pleasure?

I love to binge-watch clever series.

When reading a book what is your favorite genre?

Clever chick lit, self-empowerment, business success.

I do not have a favorite – I always have one in each category going.

 

For more information, please visit her website at: www.JenniferGardella.com

To purchase the book: https://a.co/d/ejQxG1L

 

 

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