Bowles is a licensed clinical social worker currently working
in California as a medical social worker at a county hospital.
She obtained her Master's degree in social work from U.C.L.A.
Since graduating in 1993 she has worked in a variety of settings,
including private practice, with children and families, frail
elderly, and chronically and terminally ill clients. Prior to
becoming a social worker she was a deputy sheriff. She believes
this law enforcement background provided her with an increased
sensitivity to abuse issues, including domestic violence.
She has seen
first hand the damage domestic violence does to the individual
and family. It crosses all demographic barriers: financial, racial,
ethnic, age and sexual orientation.
Our thanks to Jennifer Bowles!
Hi Jennifer, My situation is a little unusual, I feel, from the
fact that I can't seem to find anyone else who is dealing with
it. The abuse I suffer Isn't from a husband or a parent. It is
from my sister. I am 20 and newly married but still living in
my parents home. They invited us to stay there while we get on
our feet. We both work full time but don't make much money at
all and can not afford to move out. We seem to have no where else
to go. Well my sister who is 18 also lives at home.
we where young we would get into fights. As I got older, about
10 I think, I started feeling bad for hurting a family member
so I stopped hitting her and picking fights. My parents, though
wonderful people, never disciplined her. She grew up very spoiled.
She continued attacking me up till I left home and took to life
on the road when I was 19. I didn't really want to leave home
but I felt I couldn't deal with her any longer.
the short time I was gone, only 6 months maybe, I married my boyfriend
who had gone with me. I began to miss my family, even my sister,
after a while and decided to come home and take my parents offer
to help us get on our feet and have a normal life. When I returned
things hadn't changed with my sister. She continued to belittle
me every time she got in a bad mood, which is often, and to attack
me. Even though my husband was so angry about it I asked him to
do nothing so that I wouldn't stress my parents out more. Now
I have found out that I am pregnant and my sister has become worse.
She is even more violent than before. My parents can't or won't,
I'm not sure which, control her. When my mother pulled her off
me the other night, she told my sister that she could cause me
to miscarry. Her response was, "I don't care."
are still not really doing anything accept yelling at her briefly
and telling me to stay in my room all the time so that she can't
start any more problems. My husband has to escort me to the bathroom
at night for fear of what she might do to me while my parents
are asleep. My husband is furious about the situation. Nothing
is changing and now I am worried about what might happen to my
child from this. I know that since my parents won't take control
of the situation that I should leave but I don't have much money
and I don't know what to do. We need to find housing and we don't
even own a car. So much is hindering us from moving that I don't
know where to begin. Is there any place I can get help? If so
how do I go about it? Will people even help with a problem like
this? I know there are lots of programs to help people that are
abused by parents and spouses but my problem is different. I am
at a loss for what to do and I don't know where to turn.
It sure sounds like a bad situation. Your sister sounds mentally
ill, actually. Is she using drugs? The fact that your parents
do nothing but tell you to stay out of her way indicates that
your sister has some hold over your parents also. I agree that
you and your child are in danger and though it may not be a subject
most people talk about, abuse by family members other than significant
others or parents is still a problem. Plan to leave. Talk to the
homeless social services people and the domestic violence service
workers in your area and ask them for referrals to agencies that
may be able to help with rent. In our area Catholic Charities
assists if they have funds, with move-in costs. Would your parents
be able to assist with a gift of money or a loan?
Do you have
friends you could stay with or other family members? Since you
sound like your earnings are quite low you may qualify for housing
assistance (contact your local Housing Authority). You likely
have a mental health crisis team/hotline in your area. Call them
and discuss the situation. They may provide you with good referrals
or sound advice related to where you live. In the meantime, you
need to contact the police (I mean calling 911) in the event she
attacks you again. You are likely thinking this will upset your
parents, but you may be saving them from being attacked once you
leave and I'm hoping they would feel also responsible should something
happen to you, your husband or your baby. It's possible your husband
may get mad enough to stop her from hurting you and cause injury
to your sister. This might cause him to be arrested should your
parents decide to side with your sister and say it was not to
protect you or was in self defense. I know I'm having to read
between the lines considerably with what information I have to
go by. One last thought for you would be that YOU were able to
stop this behavior at the age of 10. She has not been able to
control these impulses which tells me there may be something more
going on such as substance abuse or mental illness. The call you
make to the police or mental health could be the beginning of
helping not only you but your family. It will take a lot of strength
to "make waves" which is something you have not been likely allowed
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Questions and Answers (Click on the linked numbers below):
2. Divorced, did
not keep documentation for protection. What should I do?
3. I'm getting divorced.
Do I tell the judge about my husband's anger? Should my daughter
be with him?
4. How do I find
an Abuse Center in My area?
5. How can I help
my friend see that she's in a cycle of abuse?
Thank you, Jennifer
7. Is verbal abuse
considered domestic violence?
8. I've left my
husband - why do I feel so sad and guilty?
9. I'm being abused
but no one can tell.
10. How does domestic abuse
affect the children of the marriage?
11. When do you get past the
12. Husband abusive and terminal.
I'm pregnant. Can I make it on my own?
13. Therapists and false memories
Who do we tell if a child in my son's class is being molested?
15. My children are afraid of
their father but he has part custody, what do I do?
16. This relationship is tearing
down her self-confidence piece by piece.
17. I got away from the abuse
but now my daughter is suffering.
18. Why do so many women end
up in abusive relationships?
19. Is yelling verbal abuse?
20. Steps toward recovery?
21. Parents drinking affects
22. My dad was verbally abusive
to me and I now suffer from low self esteem.
23. I can hear the neighbors
fighting. What should I do?
24. My ex says no to counseling,
but I want my kids to go.
my boyfriend showing signs of being abusive?
26. How can I prevent visitation
27. Question about one of Jennifer's
28. Finding strength and independence
29. I worry so much about my
children when they are with him and his new wife.
30. My friend got out of one
abusive relationship and into another.
31. Helping my brother with
32. My husband is an alcoholic.
33. My sister is abusing me.
34. My mom was abusive. Will
I be too?
35. Abusive husband and a new
36. How is past abuse from my
deceased husband affecting my 4 1/2 year old?
37. My best friend chose a controlling
boyfriend, just like her father. Help me explain to her.
38. My husband intimidates me
into sex. Is this abuse?
39. Husband has anxiety and
is becoming violent
40. Separated, pregnant and
thinking of working things out with abusive husband
41. Question about verbal abuse?
42. Is my boyfriend abusive?
43. Ex-husband and unpaid child
44. Surviving molestation
45. Our arguing has turned physical
46. I left my verbally abusive
realizes she is the abuser
48. Husband's health is making
49. Abuse and chronically ill
50. Abusive relationship and
going through divorce proceedings
51. Granddaughter may lose custody
52. Relationship with abusive
boyfriend is like obsession
53. Very afraid of abusive,
54. Are my boyfriend's actions
55. I worry that my children
will be molested because I was
56. Why do women stay or have
a hard time leaving?
57. I need help to get away.
What can I do?
58. Elderly parents are abusing
each other, alcohol involved.
59. Is my daughter being abused
by her stepmom?
60. Do you discuss female domestic
violence towards men and children?
61. Friend keeps going back
to abusive boyfriend
62. Alcohol problems as teens
related to growing up in a violent home?
63. I left my abuser... a message
64. How to help a pregnant friend
65. Resources for domestic violence
in the military?
66. Nephew in abusive relationship
67. My husband is too controlling
68. Advice from someone who
69. I left and now I'm confused
70. Thank you, Jennifer
71. My husband mentally abuses
72. I've taken steps to leave
my abusive husband, but am worried about my daughter
73. Abuse in friendships?
74. Why do women oppose mandatory
75. My husband is frightening
me with his anger
Am I becoming my father?
77. Love and abuse
78. Boyfriend threatens me
79. Husband wants me to get
an abortion, is verbally abusive.
80. My mother-in-law is harrassing
81. Children verbally abusive
like their father
82. Son and daughter-in-law's
arguing affecting grandson
83. Should I call my husband
on each verbal abuse?
84. My fiancÚ babysits and I
am worried about his temper
85. My friend's child is affected
by abuse by father
86. Every time he hits me, he
blames me for it, then repents, apologizes and feels bad.
87. Acquaintances from church--the
woman is attacking her husband. How can I help?
88. Shelters - how do you find
your funds to live on and where to go?
89. My friend appears to have
no way out!
My husband is in prison and we're divorcing. Visitation rights?
If you are in immediate danger