Learn the Facts About Elder Abuse During National Healthy Aging Month

September is National Healthy Aging Month

September is National Healthy Aging Month, a time to focus on tips and strategies for healthy living in later life. This a great time to reflect on how you are doing with your personal health goals. It may also be the perfect time to make some positive changes around things like:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Quitting Smoking
  • Getting Regular Check-Ups

Eating healthfully, staying active and fit, and seeing your doctor regularly are all important steps you can take to live a healthier life as you age, and we all know by now the incredible dangers of smoking. This post will focus on another potentially dangerous problem for seniors, one that is often overlooked when we think and talk about healthy aging: the issue of elder abuse.

What is Elder Abuse or Domestic Violence in Later Life?

Elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. When elder abuse involves the use of power and control by a spouse/partner or other person known to the victim, it is also sometimes recognized and referred to as domestic violence in later life.

Elder abuse can affect all people regardless of race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, social status, education level, religious affiliation, abilities, etc. and can affect both men and women. No one knows exactly how many older people are being abused on a daily basis, but we do know that many incidents of abuse go unreported. Some victims of elder abuse are high functioning, while others are frail and function poorly. Often, they depend on others to meet their most basic needs. Some may suffer from dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment. Many are victims of “domestic violence grown old,” meaning that the abuse they have experienced throughout the many years of their relationship and/or marriage has continued into later life.

Elder abuse and domestic violence later in life can take many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Physical abuse – The use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain or impairment. Behaviors include, but are not limited to: slapping, hitting, punching, burns, choking or breaking bones.
  • Psychological abuse – The infliction of anguish, pain or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. Behaviors include, but are not limited to: threats of violence and harm, attacks against property or pets/service animals and other acts of intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, manipulating family members, ridiculing values/beliefs/spirituality, abusing dependencies (e.g., medication, equipment) or withholding needed supports.
  • Sexual abuse/assault – Nonconsensual sexual contact of any kind, including sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent. Behaviors include, but are not limited to: demeaning remarks about intimate body parts, being rough with intimate body parts during caregiving, taking advantage of physical or mental illness to engage in sex, forcing the individual to perform nonconsensual sexual acts or forcing the individual to watch pornographic movies.
  • Financial exploitation – The illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. Behaviors include, but are not limited to: stealing money, titles or possessions, taking over accounts and bills, spending without permission or abusing power of attorney.
  • Neglect – The refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties to an elder. Behaviors include, but are not limited to: denial or delay of food, heat, care or medication, not reporting medical problems, understanding but failing to follow medical, therapy or safety recommendations or making the individual miss medical appointments.
  • Abandonment —The desertion of an elderly person by an individual who has assumed responsibility for providing care for an elder, or by a person with physical custody of an elder.
  • Homicide/Suicide – Killing a person (often spouse/partner) followed by suicide of the killer.

Signs of Elder Abuse via You Look a Lot Like Me

What are Some Signs of Elder Abuse?

Professionals, family members, and “trusted others” working and visiting with older people may fail to recognize signs of elder abuse due to a lack of training on detecting abuse. This is of particular concern because older people may be reluctant to report the abuse they are experiencing for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons may include:

  • Fear of retaliation.
  • Lack of physical and/or cognitive ability to report the abuse they are experiencing.
  • Not wanting to get the abuser—who is oftentimes a family member—in trouble.

While one sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, some tell-tale signs that there could be a problem are:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area, which may indicate sexual violence
  • Sudden changes in financial situations
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses
  • Strained or tense relationships and/or frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person

Despite the accessibility of Adult Protective Services in all 50 states (whose programs are quite different), as well as mandatory reporting laws for elder abuse in most states, an overwhelming number of cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation go undetected and untreated each year.

What are Some of the Unique Challenges that Victims of Elder Abuse Face?

Victims of elder abuse and domestic violence in later life each face a unique blend of realities and complicating issues that define their relationships and options. Factors such as fear, finances, other family members, health concerns, housing, pets and generational, religious, cultural and personal values about what it means to be a spouse or parent interconnect and are prioritized differently for each individual. Unfortunately, service providers often can offer only limited supports and so victims are left with difficult decisions.

  • Spouse/life partners may have been together for many years and the victim may value the longevity of the relationship. Cultural, spiritual or generational values may make divorce or separation unthinkable and/or adult children and grandchildren may apply pressure on the victim to keep the couple together. In addition, long-term relationships often contribute to the cultivation of memories, shared friends, family and home and fear of being alone.
  • Parents face unique challenges when deciding how to deal with abusers who are their adult children. Often the parents want to try harder to help their child and may resist interventions that may result in their child being arrested, institutionalized or living on the streets.
  • Immigrants may choose not to report abuse or other crime due to the fear of deportation for themselves and/or their abusive spouse/partner or other family member, any of whom may or may not have documentation. Additionally, some older immigrants are abused by their sponsor family. Many elder immigrants do not speak English. They may have difficulty getting a job or may not be eligible for Social Security or pensions that would give them some financial independence. In general, social services may not be equipped to provide services to older battered immigrants.
  • Religious values often play an important role in the lives of older people. Some older people may believe that their religious teachings (either through written word or message from faith leaders) mandate that they stay in marriages. For other victims, the fear of losing their church, synagogue, or faith/spirituality-based friends and community make considering leaving difficult (especially for partners of religious leaders, pastors, rabbis, etc.).
  • Health problems for the victim and/or the abuser can create obstacles for the victim to living free from abuse. Victims of long-term abuse may experience numerous physical and mental health conditions (some permanent and/or undiagnosed) as a direct result of the abuse and stress, and may require ongoing care. Staying with an abuser may seem a more inviting option than asking strangers to provide care or moving to an institution. Many older women feel it is their responsibility to care for a husband or adult child in need and/or may believe the threat of physical abuse is reduced because of the abuser’s frailer condition. Some victims who are planning to leave or have left may stay or return if the abuser becomes disabled or critically ill.
  • Persons living in institutions may have hoped the nursing home or residential setting would have provided safety from an abusive husband/partner only to find the abuse (particularly sexual) continues to occur. Victims may be abused by partners or relatives during a visit at the institution or during a home visit. Other victims are abused by staff or other residents. Too often nursing home staff and staff in other institutions are not trained to look for signs of abuse and neglect, especially when committed by family members.

Get the Facts about Elder Abuse via You Look a Lot Like Me

Who Are The Abusers of Older People?

Although more research is needed, what we do know suggests that the vast majority of abusers are family members, most often adult children, spouses, partners, and others. Abusers can be men or women, of any age, race, or socio-economic status. Elder abuse can also be perpetrated by friends, service providers, peers, and strangers.

What Can I Do?

As with other types of interpersonal violence, it is important to remember that victims of elder abuse or domestic violence in later life are never responsible for their abuse; perpetrators are responsible.

The good news is that, as part of your healthy aging strategy, there are a number of important steps you can take to protect yourself. Some of these include:

  • Taking good care of yourself and your health.
  • Attending support groups for spouses/partners and learning about domestic violence services.
  • Planning for your own future. With a limited power of attorney or a living will, health care decisions can be addressed to avoid confusion and family problems, should you become incapacitated. Seek independent advice from someone you trust before signing any documents.
  • Staying active in the community and connected with friends and family. This will decrease social isolation, which has been connected to elder abuse.
  • Knowing your rights. If you engage the services of a paid or family caregiver, you have the right to voice your preferences and concerns. If you live in a nursing home or board and care home, call your Long Term Care Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is your advocate and has the power to intervene.
  • Trusting your instincts and listening to the voice inside you when it whispers (or screams out) that something is not right.
  • Asking for help if you need it.

What Do You Know About Elder Abuse?

There are many wonderful organizations that can help you acquire the knowledge and skills to help protect yourself from any form of abuse in later life. All states have adult protective and long-term care ombudsman programs, family care supports, and home and community care services that can help older adults with activities of daily living. Call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for information and referrals on services in your area.

If you are being abused, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Help is available.

If you are a victim of domestic violence—no matter what your age—contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233.

If you are witnessing abuse that is immediate and life-threatening, dial 911.

If you would like to report allegations of abuse, but are unsure of where to call, contact the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-877-477-3646 or 1-800-992-1660. They will be able to further assist you.

If an older person discloses to you that they are the victim of elder abuse or domestic violence, try to

  • Listen to what they are saying in a compassionate and non-judgmental manner.
  • Respect where the victim is coming from—their values, choices, and concerns.
  • Understand that disclosure to others that one is being abused can be an uncomfortable and scary thing to do.
  • Assure the victim that help is available.
  • Refer the victim to a qualified service provider who can help.

Remember that it is not your role to verify that abuse is occurring, only to alert others of your suspicions.

Aging can be a time of grace, freedom, good health, and opportunity. So, get ahead of the game and plan for your future physical and financial needs now. Learn the facts about elder abuse and domestic violence and help spread the word by talking about elder abuse with your family, friends, health care providers, community members, and other older people. These preventative actions will help you to live free from abuse, so that you can safely enjoy the process of healthy aging!

September is National Healthy Aging Month


To learn more about elder abuse, please contact the National Center on Elder Abuse at 1-855-500-3537 or visit their website. *Do not call the Center to report allegations of abuse. 

To report allegations of elder abuse, please contact the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-877-477-3646 or 1-800-992-1660.


“Causes and Characteristics of Elder Abuse.” National Institute of Justice. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Sept. 2015.

What Is Elder Abuse?” Administration on Aging (AoA). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2015.

National Center on Elder Abuse, Westat, Inc. (1998). The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study: Final report. Washington D.C.: Authors.

15 Questions and Answers About Elder Abuse. National Center on Elder Abuse. National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), n.d. Web. 2 Sept. 2015.

Aravanis, Sara, comp. Late Life Domestic Violence: What the Aging Network Needs to Know. Ed. Susan Coombs Ficke. National Center On Elder Abuse (NCEA). National Center On Elder Abuse with the National Association of State Units on Aging, n.d. Web. 1 Sept. 2015.

Portions of this article were reprinted/adapted from the publication titled Domestic Violence Awareness: Action for Social Change (2005) by the Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP) of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV).

You Look a Lot Like Me featured in Panel Discussion Presentation by Dr. Steven Cadwell

You Look a Lot Like Me featured in NSGP Panel Discussion Presentation by Dr. Steven CadwellWe are so pleased to share that Dr. Steven Cadwell, Ph.D., LICSW, CGP, will be showing clips from You Look a Lot Like Me during his presentation When Intimacy Kills this Saturday, June 6th, at Simmons College in Boston, MA. Dr. Cadwell’s presentation will be made during a panel discussion titled When Love Kills: Abuse in Couples and Families, which will be hosted by the Rice Memorial Fund as part of the 34th Annual Conference of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy.

Dr. Cadwell is a licensed clinical social worker and certified group psychotherapist who has been in private practice working with individuals, couples, and groups in Boston, MA for 35 years. He teaches at Boston University, Harvard Medical School, and other institutions. Next month, Dr. Cadwell will be making his off Broadway debut of his one man show: “wildandprecious” at The Tank in New York City, located at 151 W 46th St.

We are honored that Dr. Cadwell will be featuring clips from You Look a Lot Like Me as part of his presentation on Saturday, and we thank him for his many years of dedication to ending violence in intimate relationships and families.

For more information on Dr. Steven Cadwell, please visit his website.

For more information on the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy, please click here.

For more information on how you can bring You Look a Lot Like Me to your private practice, university, organization, or community event, please visit our online storefront for details on our licensing options, or e-mail us at today.

The Flaws That Bind: An Interview with Rebecca Leo

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). In the coming weeks, all across the country, a wide variety of activities and events have been planned in the spirit of uniting all those who have been affected by and who are working to end domestic violence. In addition to creating a sense of true unity around this serious social problem, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time to mourn all those who have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence, to celebrate the lives of those who have survived, and to help raise further awareness of this issue in the U.S. and around the world.

Rebecca Leo

Author Rebecca Leo

In honor of DVAM, I wanted to introduce you to someone I really admire, someone whose work is helping to raise further awareness of domestic violence, author Rebecca Leo. I was first introduced to Rebecca during the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for You Look a Lot Like Me, and over the years, I have been fortunate enough to become acquainted with her writing. Her recently released novel, The Flaws that Bind, is a very important and beautifully written book. I asked Rebecca if she would be willing to share a little bit about herself and her work with all of you. She very kindly agreed.

Hope you enjoy!

Chloé McFeters

CM: I was honored to be able to read and review your new book, The Flaws That Bind. It was such a vulnerable and inspiring account of one woman’s struggle with domestic abuse. Congratulations! How does it feel to have this story set free in the world?

RL: I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my back. The book which I’ve been working on for over fifteen years has now taken flight. What a relief to see it sailing, like a kite! Who knows where it will go? I also notice that I have been smiling more, just feeling happy, more so than before. I have accomplished a long sought after goal, something that I never knew if I would achieve, and now I have. Hurray! It gives me feelings of relief, happiness, contentment, and confidence.


The Flaws That Bind at the Waverly Hospital Gift Shop in Waverly, Iowa

CM: Through our connecting on this topic, I became aware that you, like me, are a survivor of domestic abuse. How would you say that your personal experiences with domestic violence shaped the richly layered characters you crafted in The Flaws That Bind?

RL: I’ve had an adventuresome life, filled with many interesting persons. Some characters in the book were inspired by them. And in several cases, characters were composites of two or more people I’ve known.

CM: Much of the novel is set against the backdrop of Jamaica in the 1970’s. You did an exquisite job of bringing the beauty of Jamaican culture to life on the page, but you were also able to capture the palpable turbulence of the time in a way that allows the reader to really appreciate the frustration and hopelessness that many young Jamaicans were undoubtedly feeling. I sensed a deep respect and affinity for the country in your writing. Is Jamaica a place that holds a special spot in your heart? If so, can you share a bit about that?

RL: Jamaica does indeed hold a special place in my heart. After getting my children away from their abusive father, I did not return for over 15 years. But in the past 20 years we have gone there many times. It continues to draw me back, as if it were my birthplace. I think that is because it is the birthplace of my children, and that makes it my home forever. But it’s not only that, Jamaica is a beautiful island with perfect climate and kind people. I feel so connected with the island that I have considered having my ashes buried there and/or scattered in the Caribbean Sea off the shore of Jamaica.

CM: I fell in love with the character of Jac. What can you share with us about her?

RL: I love her, too…. like a daughter. Sometimes I just want to shake her, knock some sense into her. Other times I applaud her courage. And I agonize with her suffering and sorrow over how different her life has developed from her lofty dream of being a better parent than her own were. Always I root for her, want her to find a safe way out of the very dangerous predicament for the children and herself. I understand her worst fear that either David or she will kill the other and then the children will be sent to foster homes.

CM: You say that sometimes you just want to “shake” Jac. I have, many times now, heard (and witnessed) that same sincere heartbreak and frustration from a loved one, the family member or friend of someone who is being abused. In the past, I personally experienced that frustration from others, and I have also felt it myself when friends I love were being abused. It can be so sad and so difficult to stand by and watch while someone you care about is being subjected to disrespectful, controlling, and often dangerous behaviors, and it can be even harder to understand why your loved one isn’t leaving the relationship, even after you may have offered help.

As someone who has experienced domestic violence firsthand, what insights can you share for those family members or friends who might be faced with the deep desire to help someone they know is being abused, but who might also feel helpless, frustrated, or unsure of what to do?

RL: The subject is/has been so taboo. It’s hard to bring it up with victims because they are generally ashamed of what’s happening to them and/or are in denial. Plus they are afraid that the abuser will find out that they have told. So one could be creating a dangerous situation for the victim.

I think that a concerned friend or family member needs to let the abused person know of their concern for her/his welfare, safety and happiness, and that they are available to listen and to help without making judgments. It would help if that person is able to admit to being in a similar situation. That honesty can open a gate that releases a flood of confessions. But the concerned person should have no illusions that they can fix the problems. The best thing they could do if the victim confides in them, is get her/him to professionals. Connect her/him with the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). They will refer you to an organization in your area.

CM: Jac’s family life is… complicated. Can you talk about the reality that so many victims of domestic violence face: that sometimes simply going home isn’t an option because that home doesn’t actually exist?

RL: This brings us to the generational component in domestic violence. It’s very real for many reasons, depending on the circumstances. The child may have been physically, mentally or sexually abused, or all three. In any case, home is not a safe place. When that is the case, the child has been effectively abandoned. She (or he) is on her own, without protection, and therefore incredibly vulnerable in the society to anyone who would take advantage. And thus the cycles of abuse are repeated from one generation to the next. When Jac eventually gets therapy she discovers all this and dedicates herself to breaking that cycle. More about that process in the sequel.

CM: As part of her journey, Jac begins practicing the healing art of massage. I found it so poignant that Jac was able to use her hands to provide comfort and relaxation to others at a time when she herself was suffering such brutality at the hands of someone very close to her. Touch requires a certain level of intimacy and trust, precious gifts that painfully eluded Jac for many years. Do you think that massage could/should be more widely used as a healing tool for those who have been victimized by violence?

RL: A good question. My answer is “Yes.” But only at the hands of a very skilled, experienced and aware practitioner. There are many different massage techniques. My favorites are Shiatsu (acupressure) and reflexology. I think they are especially effective in releasing pain resulting from emotional trauma.

Although I have not used it personally, I’ve heard that Reiki is also very good.

CM: In your own life, what were some of the healing tools you utilized after leaving your abuser?

RL: Yoga, meditation, massage, counseling, reading, supportive friends, writing, dancing, and forgiving myself.

CM: I’ve learned in doing this work for more than eight years now that many, many people still view domestic violence as solely physical violence. Why do you believe it might be difficult for some people to acknowledge or recognize other forms of domestic abuse?

RL: Perhaps because the scars are not visible. Essentially any behavior which involves controlling another person through fear is a form of abuse. This can include fear of not being loved, fear of being abandoned, fear of being ridiculed. Exercising control with these behaviors is also used in parenting. This is not something that can be controlled by legislation, but it could become part of an expanded mental health program. As one TV personality recently pointed out, “We take care of children’s physical health and dental health, but not their mental health.” He has become an advocate of adding that to our health services — lifetime mental health checkups and care.

CM: Your story is clearly one that will raise further awareness about domestic violence, as the themes you explore in The Flaws That Bind are still as relevant as ever today. What are some things that you would like to convey to the public about this issue?

The Flaws That Bind

RL: With the publication of this book I have committed myself to be active in the effort to bring domestic violence out of the proverbial closet. It is a hidden crime because of the shame involved. Victims are ashamed, but in hiding the abuse they also protect the abuser. Victims are also afraid, for it is typical of abusers to forbid them to tell anyone, and that includes neighbors, friends, fellow workers, police, and relatives.

My message to readers is to be more aware of signs that someone you know may be a victim in need of help and find a way to reach out to that person. Talking about the abuse is one way to take away the power of the silence that surrounds it.

The quest for equal rights for women began centuries ago. Women were freed from slavery. Then we gained the right to vote, to work, to use birth control, to join the military, but we are still working for the right to equal pay for equal work, the right to have paid maternity leave, and the right to live free of sexual and physical abuse in the workplace and in our own homes.

Essential to this struggle is improved availability of mental health services. Since the widespread closing of mental hospitals in this country decades ago and the dearth of affordable mental health treatment, there has been an escalation of gun violence, and also of partner violence, which includes date rape and abuse. Increased public awareness of the problem is necessary if we are to see an expansion of services to treat perpetrators and more facilities to protect victims and support them in remaking their lives.

CM: I know that The Flaws That Bind is not your first book. What can you tell us about the others?

RL: The first book I wrote (on a typewriter) is titled Loving Touch for Your Child. It has not yet been published. If I were to revise it for publication, I may change the title back to the original one, Spare the Rod and Massage Your Child. I would appreciate feedback on which title is more appealing. Parents of young children are the target audience. The book explains how to use techniques of Shiatsu and Reflexology effectively in dealing with both health and behavior issues as well as for improving school performance. It is well illustrated with professional photos and drawings.

I contributed two chapters to The Revision Process by Robin Stratton. This is an excellent handbook for writers, and to this day I use it as a refresher course to help me write better.

I have also written two screenplays. The Bee Preacher is based on the life and accomplishments of an impoverished and uneducated Jamaican beekeeper. Angered and stymied by injustices of the colonial class system, he emigrates to the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century and works himself ragged until he becomes a broadcasting pioneer by establishing the first regular broadcast ministry in the U.S. But the toughest challenge is to forgive himself for the secret guilt that haunts him.

Yankee Swap, a comedy designed for winter holiday entertainment, features an extended family gathering wherein guests bring wrapped gifts to exchange in the New England tradition of re-choosing opened presents. When some people are unwilling to give up their gifts according to the established rules, arguments start and hurt feelings soon escalate out of control. One guest whispers to the hostess, “We gotta do something quick, or this family will never recover. It could be the end!”

CM: I read that you used to teach writing in the Boston area. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer who may be reading this interview, hoping to one day publish a novel of their own?

RL: Remember the old saw: Every journey begins with a single step. Likewise, every book begins with a single sentence. Do not be daunted by the enormity of the task. Just start somewhere and allow the story to unfold… one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. And then keep going. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get stuck trying to make any sentence or paragraph perfect. That is the beauty of computers/word processors: we can go back and revise again and again and again. Just get the thoughts out there on paper as fast as they pour from your mind.

Perhaps the most important factor in the development of my writing was participation in a writing group. The makeup of my group changed a bit over the years, but we generally met once every two weeks to exchange and critique manuscripts. Three members remained steadfast for at least a dozen years, and since I left Boston we have continued exchanging and critiquing manuscripts via the Internet.

CM: Do you have any treasured writer’s rituals that you can share with our audience?

RL: I can’t think of any rituals per se, except that I generally have a cup of coffee or tea on my desk that I frequently sip on. I also am constantly reading good books. Before I began what became the final rewrite of The Flaws That Bind I discovered that I liked the writing style of Daphne du Maurier a great deal. And so I loaded up on every book by her that I could lay hands on and read them. Sometimes I read aloud, listening to the prose. Thus her style got into my head and gave me confidence as I rewrote Flaws. And throughout the editing and proofreading I continued to read aloud. So many errors can be found that way, by hearing them, but which the eye misses when reading silently.

CM: What inspires you to tell stories? How have those sources of inspiration changed for you over the years?

RL: When I was a young child I enjoyed listening to my mother read books aloud, not just storybooks, but novels like Robinson Crusoe and Tom Sawyer. Later, writing in a diary became a daily ritual. Then I started writing poems and stories, but I really wanted to write a novel. It was the encouragement of my loving husband that finally gave me the confidence to undertake that task. He makes me feel special and supported.

CM: We have both had work published through Big Table Publishing. For me, it was a true joy to work and collaborate with their acquisitions editor, Robin Stratton, who also serves as editor-in-chief of the Boston Literary Magazine. Can you talk a bit about the experience of working with Big Table on this project?

RL: Like you, I am eternally grateful for the direction, support, expertise and resourcefulness of Robin Stratton. She has never wavered in her steadfast professionalism and endless patience and creativity.

CM: I know that you participated in a book signing tour for The Flaws That Bind over the summer. What was that like?

RL: It was rather like a roller coaster ride: terrifying, fun, interesting, exhilarating and also exhausting. Most importantly, it was a learning experience and confidence builder. Now when faced with promotional appearances, I am more relaxed and confident that I can deal with whatever comes up. The most surprising thing to me on the tour was how many women came up to me and quietly told me they had also been victims of DV. I know they were speaking confidentially, that even their friends didn’t know what they’d been through. This made me realize how much shame there is around the subject and how important it is to break that barrier which keeps women enslaved.


Rebecca at an Iowa Book Tour Luncheon sponsored by Cedar Valley Friends of the Family

CM: Will you be participating in any activities or events during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?

RL: Yes, several are planned: Two at libraries, one at a bookstore, and one at a women’s resource center where I’ll be addressing the graduating class of a new group who have just finished training to be crisis hotline operators.


Rebecca at a Write On Oceanside Event featuring local authors in Oceanside, California

CM: You have become acquainted with a number of domestic violence organizations as a result of working on and releasing The Flaws That Bind. Are there any in particular that you would like to highlight here?

RL: Yes. The two that I have been most active supporting are the Women’s Resource Center in Oceanside, CA ( and the Leap To Success organization in Carlsbad, CA (, both of which are working to transform the lives of women and children who have been victims of domestic violence. I respect their efforts very much, for the work is dangerous and unglamorous, while also being very rewarding when clients are able to transform their lives and families.


Launch Party for The Flaws That Bind with Dana Bristol-Smith of Leap to Success and Lorna Riley


Rebecca Leo at a Leap to Success Fundraising Event
Raising funds to empower women recovering from domestic violence

CM: The Flaws that Bind was released not too long ago and we want to be able to tell people how they can get their hands on a copy. Please tell us where to find your book.

RL: Signed copies can be purchased on my web site: Unsigned copies and Kindle versions are available on Amazon.

CM: Where can people go to learn more about you, your work, and any future projects?

RL: Again they can go to my web site (see above), or they can check on my Facebook page which is at:

On Thursday, Oct. 16, at 7 pm, at the Upstart Crow Book Store in Seaport Village, 835 W Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101, Rebecca will be talking about how she survived extreme abuse and reading passages from her recently published memoir-based novel, The Flaws That Bind. The book takes place largely in Jamaica, West Indies. She will then answer questions and monitor a discussion about combating and preventing these insidious crimes. Signed copies of her book will be available for purchase.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, National Authors’ Day, Rebecca will be at the Mission Branch of the Oceanside Library, 3861B Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA, at 2 p.m. where she will talk about surviving domestic violence, read excerpts from her novel, and answer questions. Signed copies of her book will be available for purchase.

For more information on DVAM events around the country, please visit the website for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV).

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