Tag Archives: domestic violence

Five #Books That Scare Me!

There are some books much more terrifying than the scariest haunted house or even Stephen King’s imagination.

  1. What We Know About Climate Change by Kerry Emanuel
    I don’t know of any scarier subject than climate change. In those two words the future of earth and its inhabitants are held hostage.
    In this book, Emanuel begins by saying: “Scientific research has solidified the idea that human-induced climate change presents significant risks to our descendants, and the understanding of key elements of those risks. For example, the acidification of the oceans by increased input of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is now viewed as among the most significant threats posed by our ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels. But even while science has reached a strong consensus that climate is indeed changing, that the change is caused mostly by us, and that it poses important risks, public recognition of and concern about these risks has diminished (emphasis is mine; not Emanuel’s), particularly in the United States.”
    To me—this is truly scary stuff! Image a few decades from now when your grandchildren are raising their children; image that just getting enough drinkable water is a near impossibility; image that crops are so scarce that millions starve to death…. Scary, huh? Stephen King, let’s see you top that!

  2. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
    In the first few pages of her book Malala says, “…I’d imagine that on the way home a terrorist might jump out and shoot me….” She goes on to say, “I wasn’t scared, but I had started making sure the gate was locked at night and asking God what happens when you die. I told my best friend, Moniba everything.”
    Imagine the constant fear of living in the shadow of such a threat! How hard your heart would pound at every slight noise, every rustle of the underbrush, every strange human that walked toward you.
    Malala, a Pakistani teen, was shot in the head by the Taliban while on a school bus en route to her home simply because she wanted an education. This is flat out horrifying. I can’t imagine the terror she must have lived through, and yet she emerged a strong young woman who campaigns relentlessly for educational opportunities for girls.
    What is truly beyond scary and right into terrifying, however, is that violence toward girls who want to obtain an education is not uncommon in our modern world.

  3. The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice by Kathryn Bolkovac
    I can’t describe the horror within the pages of this book as well as the author’s book description: “When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support the UN peacekeeping mission. She was assigned as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit. The lack of proper training provided sounded the first alarm bell, but once she arrived in Sarajevo, she found out that things were a lot worse. At great risk to her personal safety, she began to unravel the ugly truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution and their connections to private mercenary contractors, the UN, and the U.S. State Department. After bringing this evidence to light, Bolkovac was demoted, felt threatened with bodily harm, was fired, and ultimately forced to flee the country under cover of darkness—bringing the incriminating documents with her. Thanks to the evidence she collected, she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, finally exposing them for what they had done. This is her story and the story of the women she helped achieve justice for.
    At first read, you don’t want to believe that these words could be true. I want to assure—they are true. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that thrives not only in war torn countries, but in industrialized nations, such as the United States. I know.
    My research when I wrote Street Harvest, (https://www.amazon.com/Street-Harvest-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KVREDIC) included discussions with Washington State Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit (MUPU) helped me grasp the widespread cancer of human trafficking. Here in the United States where we supposedly value children, a child goes missing every FORTY SECONDS. Many of these kids wind up on the streets.
    Street kids, transient and untracked, are particularly high risk for becoming victims of forced prostitution, export to overseas brothels, and victims of death porn where are children are filmed as they are murdered while being sexually abused. Children as young as six years old are at risk. My book is fiction based on factual research.
    Kathryn Bolkovac’s book is factual; and, it is a very scary reality. I have never seen a horror flick that made my heart pound as hard or caused fear to dry out my mouth so thoroughly as what the reality of human trafficking does.

  4. The 51% Minority (How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It) by Lis Wiehl
    The Introduction of this book begins with a dinner conversation where there was discussion of civil rights, the Supreme Court and other current events. The author writes, “…then a gentleman seated to my right, a successful gay professional, said something that alarmed me. ‘I certainly wouldn’t want to be a woman today,’ he told the table. ‘It’s a no-win situation. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t with every single decision, and your body is a political playground. At least as a gay man, I know where I stand. As a woman, you’re stuck in some weird societal purgatory.’
    ‘Yeah,’ another man agreed. ‘Isn’t it strange that women are fifty-one percent of the population and still get the short end of the stick on almost every front?’”
    In my upcoming thriller, Attack!, I quote research I did on Theodore Roosevelt. In the late 1800s, he wrote his thesis for Harvard on the rights of women. It was his contention that women should have absolute equality in marriage and not even be expected to assume their husbands’ names. In other writings, he maintained that women should have the right to vote, the right to hold property, the right to work at any profession and to receive equal pay for equal work.
    We have won the right to vote and the right not to assume our husbands’ names; however, Latina women continue to earn fifty-six cents to a white man’s dollar for performing the exact same job while black women earn sixty-seven cents and white women earn seventy-four cents and every woman grows up under the certainty one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. We know that we must live a hyper-vigilant life if we are to reduce the odds. We can never let our guard down in public; never relax and get a little tipsy; never daydream our way home from work after dark; and even in our own homes, we must remain aware of the potential to become a victim of domestic violence or home-invading rapists.
    How is that for heart-thundering suspense? For never knowing from what quarter the attack might come? Horror writers—eat your heart out! You can’t write fiction as terrifying as this reality.

  5. Beyond the Silence, A Woman’s Journey to Freedom by Aya Walksfar
    What would you do if your child was suddenly ripped away from you? Taken as hostage to force you back into a situation of certain torture, violence and blood? How much fear would slice through your guts, freeze your innards?
    Beyond the Silence is fact cloaked in fiction. Based on the lives of real women who have fought back, survived, and triumphed, this book enters the dark world of cultural and familial abuse; childhood sexual molestation by religious persons and family members; domestic violence and forced BDSM during marital rape. How does a girl grow up or a woman survive a culture that preaches females are second class human beings? How does a woman overcome the propaganda that makes her feel crazy for believing her own reality?
    These subjects are the elephants that sit at Sunday dinner around the family tables all across America. These are the elephants that eat at the tables of rich and poor; black, white, Native American and every other race. These are the elephants that have no regard for which religion you follow, which nationality you proclaim, or which region of the country in which you are born.
    The fact is: No woman is safe. She is not safe on the streets, on the job, on public transportation, in her school, on a university campus, or in her home. Regardless if she is seven years old or seventy-eight years old, she is at risk every single day.
    And that is the scary reality of being a woman in America today. Haunted houses simply cannot compete with that kind of scary.
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Hard Road Home Front Cover
The Story Behind Hard Road Home
Many times those charged with keeping troubled kids safe become their worst nightmare. Already feeling as if they are broken, the child believes s/he is at fault for the adult’s abusive behavior. Abuse by the foster parent, or other authority figure, confirms this belief: it must be their fault since more than one adult abused them. They must’ve “asked for it”; or, somehow “provoked” the assault.
Such beliefs coupled with low self-esteem program the child to act in ways that mark her/him as a victim. Perpetually trying to please, and always failing. The cycle of abuse repeats itself, over and over, with different abusers.
After aging out of the social services system,this learned hopelessness continues to haunt the young person. Often s/he drops out of school, and can’t find a job with a living wage. In economic desperation and emotional neediness, s/he moves in with an abuser. Her/his self-esteem and economic position works to keep them locked into the unhealthy relationship.
Either introduced to alcohol and drugs by the abuser as a way to further control over the victim and to undermine self-esteem/self-confidence, or discovering the awesome numbing effects on their own, the victim becomes addicted. Addictions lead to deeper feelings of inadequacy and further confirmation of worthlessness.
Having never learned to relate to others in a healthy way, s/he cannot accept that anyone would want to befriend her/him if s/he wasn’t sexually pleasing and easily available. Relationships with adults during childhood have confirmed this reality in the victim’s mind.
Many young people die trapped in this cycle of never-ending abuse.
Hard Road Home goes beyond the tragedy of such children. When people read Casanita Redner’s story,Hard Road Home,five things will remain with them:
1. This story is based upon facts, though I have fictionalized the account to be able to concentrate on clarifying the message. Like Cas, however, there are young people who have found the strength to fight free of childhood sexual abuse. Remember: No matter how dark
2. Adults, whether central or peripheral to the child’s life, can in fact aid the child in laying a foundation that will allow her/him to escape this vicious cycle of abuse. In Hard Road Home, Cas receives these building blocks for a stable foundation from her grandfather, her grandmother, and other healthy adults she meets along the way.
3. Every adult has the responsibility to become aware of victimization of children, and to work–in whatever capacity that they can–to end it. Whether you are an educator, an author, a doctor, a counselor, a social worker, a foster parent, or a neighborhood adult you can make an impact.
Journey you make
4. Child victims are NOT responsible for the crimes against them, regardless of how they dressed, walked, talked, or acted. Children are worthy of true friendships and deserve healthy relationships.
5. If you have been a child victim, I am here to tell you: you can break free. You have the right to build a good life for yourself. You are lovable. You deserve people in your life who value you. Believe in yourself! You are worth it!
Are you one of the adults who help shine a light for young people during a dark night? Are you a survivor of childhood abuse? Please leave a comment.
You can always reach me at ayawalksfar@gmail.com


4 Lessons From A Child

All too frequently those who are charged with keeping young girls, especially troubled young girls, safe, become the predators that damage them the most.

Hard Road Home Front Cover

A classic example is the foster father who rapes the young girl placed in his home because her home is not a safe place to live. Instead of finding acceptance, safety and an adult to help her understand and overcome her past experiences, she is faced with another rapist/child molester.

The young girl is already feeling as if she is somehow broken; that it is somehow her fault that her father/mother beat her or sexually molested her. Now, another adult is repeating the same crimes against her. This serves to confirm that whatever bad thing has happened, and is happening, to her is her own fault. She brought it upon herself because she acted provocatively; dressed provocatively; said the wrong thing; led him on; asked for it; and any number of incorrect beliefs.

If the girl is “groomed” by the predator–this is often done by pretending to love the victim, giving small gifts, seduction rather than use of force–she may come to believe that no one else will ever understand her the way “he does” and when she is no longer of interest to the predator, she will become depressed and feel heart broken. Some of these young women commit suicide. At the very least, she will never be able to truly realize that she was a victim, rather than a participant, and her chance to heal will suffer.

Unfortunately, in either case–groomed to be a sexual object or raped forcibly–she will then subconsciously act in ways that mark her as a victim. And the cycle repeats itself, over and over.

Even after she ages out of the social services system, these beliefs continue to impact her for the rest of her life. She becomes unable to value herself and so she often fails or drops out of school. Unable to support herself becomes one more pressure that forces her into unhealthy relationships and makes it nearly impossible for her to leave them; she frequently becomes addicted to alcohol and drugs in order to numb her feelings of inadequacy and in the end confirms her own worthlessness; she will sometimes enter the sex trades because she doesn’t believe she has any other value and she doesn’t believe she is intelligent enough for any other type of work. She is the woman who inevitably seeks out domestically violent partners who further degrade her.

She lives what she has been taught over and over by authority figures: her value lies in sexually pleasing and being sexually available. If a person is not sexually interested in her, she believes they would not want to be around her; to be her friend. Her internal motto is: if he/she doesn’t want me sexually, why would he/she want me at all? She is unable to form healthy friendships with either gender as she doesn’t have the self-esteem necessary. Without those healthy relationships, she has no place to learn that she has value that is unrelated to her sexuality.

Many girls die trapped in this cycle of never-ending abuse.

In Hard Road Home I explore the dynamics that place young girls in such an untenable life. If I stopped at that point, it would be a heartbreaking story, although well worth the time to read and understand it. But I go farther and explore how a young girl might find the strength to refuse her victimhood and how that might play out in her future.

It is my hope that when people read Casanita Redner’s story four things will remain with my readers:

  1. This story is based upon facts, though I have fictionalized the account to be able to concentrate on clarifying the message. There are young women who have found the strength to fight free of childhood sexual abuse.
  2. There are ways that adults can help lay a foundation that will allow such a young girl to fight free of her victimhood. In fact, Cas is blessed by these building blocks given to her by her grandfather, her grandmother and other healthy adults that appear in her life.
  3. It is each adult’s responsibility to become aware of this type of victimization and to work in whatever capacity that they can to see that it ends. As an author, writing is the tool I use to assume my part of this responsibility.
  4. If you have been a child victim, know that you are not responsible for the crimes against you; you are worthy of true friendships and healthy relationships; you can break free and build a good life for yourself. Believe in yourself! You are worth it!

To read about recent cases:


“…..The two foster fathers caught abusing the girl received suspended prison sentences – at least initially – after Pierce County judges opted to use a sentencing scheme available to sex offenders who abuse children they’re close to.

Had she not been living with the men, both would have faced years behind bars; instead, they were able to avoid prison time entirely through Washington’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative law.


……She was first placed with Jose Miranda and his wife, Juanita. Jose Miranda would later become infamous for the sexual abuse he perpetrated on children during the nine years he was a foster father.The Mirandas were licensed as foster parents even though Juanita Miranda’s own children had been taken from her while she was living in California. Having been convicted of crimes in Washington, Oregon and California, Juanita Miranda also tested positive for opiates while she was pregnant six years before the girl was placed with the couple.

According to the lawsuit, Juanita Miranda was under Department of Corrections supervision for a felony theft when she and her husband were approved as foster parents. Both lied to DSHS on questionnaires meant to prevent convicts, addicts and people too sick to care for children from becoming foster parents….” All material bracketed by these quote marks was taken directly from the Seattle PI article, link above.

Another case, this one in Oregon:





Interviewer:  This week I am privileged to interview Special Crimes Team member, Detective Maizie O’Hara.  Detective O’Hara, thank you for taking time for this interview.

Detective O’Hara: (smiles) Lieutenant Williams said it would be good for us to talk to you, so here I am.

Interviewer:  Are you a native of Seattle?

Detective O’Hara: No, ma’am. I grew up in Ellensburg, but I moved to Tacoma.

Interviewer:  Were you a detective in Tacoma?

Detective O’Hara: Yes, ma’am.

Interviewer:  What brought you to Seattle and the Special Crimes Team?

Detective O’Hara: (a cloud passes over her face) I…felt like it was in my best interest for my career.

Interviewer:  (lifts brow) Would you care to elaborate on that?

Detective O’Hara:  No, ma’am. (Her lips press tightly together)

Interviewer:  Okay. Let’s talk about something else. What do you think about having a woman as the second in command of your unit?

Detective O’Hara:  (Beams a big smile) I think it’s awesome! Don’t get me wrong, though. Lieutenant Williams is really great, too.

Interviewer:  Why did you become a police officer, Detective O’Hara?

Detective O’Hara:  (All signs of levity disappears) To help women. I want to help men, too, but I became a cop to help women.

Interviewer:  Do you think you’ve been able to do that, so far?

Detective O’Hara:  (A furrow appears between her eyes and her lips turn down at the corners) Yes, I believe I have.

Interviewer:   Then why the down look on your face?

Detective O’Hara:   (Bites her bottom lip) Well…I guess I idolized law enforcement before I became a cop, and for a while after. (takes in a deep breath and lets it out slow) But sometimes, being a cop isn’t enough. As a cop, I have to stay objective, but sometimes, I need to get involved to make sure that justice happens. It kind of…(she shrugs) It kind of wore the shine off the brass, I guess, when I figured that out.

Interviewer:  (after she is silent for a long moment, interviewer speaks) Can you tell me anything more specific about your epiphany?

Detective O’Hara:   No, ma’am.

Interviewer:  You’re a police officer and you serve all of us that way. Are there things that you do to specifically try to help women?

Detective O’Hara:   Well, I volunteer at a domestic abuse women’s shelter. I read to the kids so the women can have their support meeting. You know, so the little kids don’t interrupt and…well, women don’t always like to talk about stuff around little kids. And, I’m going on a walk in November with some women friends to show support for domestic abuse survivors. And, I have a friend with a facebook page and sometimes I post links on it that are important.

Interviewer:  Sounds like you’re pretty serious when you say you want to help women. Why don’t you have a facebook page?

Detective O’Hara:  (ducks head) I’m not very good with techie stuff. (raises her head and gives interviewer a shy smile) I have a girlfriend who’s going to teach me about doing a facebook page. We just haven’t had the time yet.

Interviewer:  I’m not great with techie stuff either. (gives a smile to Detective O’Hara) What kind of links do you post?

Detective O’Hara:  Stuff about domestic violence, and sometimes links to pages where women are doing something important to help the world and each other.

Interviewer:  If there was only one link you could recommend that people go check out, which link would that be?

Detective O’Hara:  (catches lip with teeth and worries at it)  Well…there’s a blog called upworthy.com and they posted this link to a site where these women in Amsterdam do this really powerful dance performance. They’re in the Red Light District over there and they’re dancing in the windows of this building, like an apartment building and there’s all these men gathering on the street to watch them dance because….(a flush reddens her cheeks), because it’s really very sensual. You know?

Interviewer nods

Detective O’Hara;  Anyway, after the dance is over a big sign up on the top of the building flashes and says: “every year thousands of women are promised a dance career in Western Europe. Sadly, they end up here.”  Then it flashes “Stop the traffick. People shouldn’t be bought and sold.” Actually, according to Upworthy millions of people are affected by human trafficking every year; not just women in Europe. Their whole dance was about making people, men especially, understand how terrible human trafficking is.

Interviewer:  Whoa, sounds like a powerful video. I will definitely post that link here. We’re almost out of time. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the women of our audience?

Detective O’Hara: Just…well, just don’t let anyone tell you stuff like you aren’t good enough, or pretty enough, or thin enough. You are enough, just the way you are!And, if they say stuff like that, get away from them because they aren’t really your friend.

Interviewer:  Again, Detective O’Hara, thank you for coming in and sharing with us.

To visit the site recommended by Detective O’Hara:

“Who Doesn’t Like to Watch Half-Naked Girls Dancing? These Guys After They See Why It’s Happening    http://www.upworthy.com/who-doesnt-like-to-watch-half-naked-girls-dancing-these-guys-after-they-see-why-its-happening   (Red Light District, Amsterdam.)

To learn more about Detective Maizie O’Hara, read Sketch of a Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team  http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

Sketch of a Murderebook 7 30 2014

Visit Aya at http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar