Pearls & Vodka


I will never forget getting a text in early 2014 from a lifelong friend telling me that she was leaving her husband because he had beaten her. I was completely caught off guard. I would never have dreamed that their relationship had gotten so tense that abuse had taken up residence in their home. She was so strong in the midst of such heartache. She was in so much pain both physically and emotionally; and yet so resilient. She met my Mom and me at the beach a few months later. I had just gotten engaged a few days before and even though she had just separated from her husband she was there to celebrate with me. And, she was about to move to California to start a new life. She was so determined. And she did.

I don’t remember exactly when she started talking about starting her own company. But she wanted to start a business that followed the one-for-one type model. A company that made a profit, but also gave to something important. Raised by a strong family of women, she’d always been someone drawn to women in leadership. She worked on the other side of the aisle from me politically. She worked for people like Sheryl Sandberg and Hillary Clinton. I worked for people like George W. Bush and John McCain. Her life’s mission was always to empower people. She may not have said that or even known it, but it has always been a part of who she is for as long as I have known her.

The 2016 Presidential campaign went far different than she thought it would. I remember texting her that night when it had become obvious that Donald Trump would be the 45th President, I told her I was sorry. I knew she had worked so hard on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton. I knew she really believed in her. I didn’t have to share the same opinion to feel sorry for her. I’d been there. 2008 was a similar experience for me. It was the end of my political career. It was a loss that was a little less surprising but losing always hurts. Campaigns are fueled by blood, sweat, and tears. Win or lose; it’s an emotionally grueling process. And I was sorry for her.

Life didn’t come to a screeching halt for her then, just like it didn’t in 2014. She picked herself up, not by bootstraps, but by the Tieks™ she is always wearing and moved to Charlotte. She started over again. Every day was filled with texts about coffee dates, or drinks, with 5-6 people; just networking. Refueling. And as soon as she topped the tank off, she told me it was time to start that business. And I was welcome to come along for the ride. And I did, without hesitation. Sometimes you just believe so much in people that you don’t care what they want to do, you are in.

thread talk™ was born. For each blanket purchased, thread talk™ donates a portion of the proceeds to to help fund critical wish list items for their 1500+ shelters nationwide. The mission of thread talk™ is to spread opportunity through comfort. Opportunity for what you might ask? Love. Confidence. Serenity. The comfort spurs the empowerment, and then you have a revolution. That’s the dream. That’s the goal.

I’ve never personally walked through domestic abuse.

But if you have, you are not alone.

Here are some statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence [1]:

  • 1 in 3 women will face some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 4 men will face some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • On a typical day, there are 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.
  • Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.
  • Only 34% of those injured by an intimate partner receive medical care for their injuries.

I’ve been doing interviews with survivors or domestic violence for thread talk™, and the stories are heartbreaking. It’s so hard to fathom being so cruel to another human being; especially someone you claim to love. The mind games are unreal. I never realized how far stretching domestic abuse is. It’s not just physical abuse, or even mental/emotional abuse, its other things like financial abuse as well. It’s such a dangerous trap. And the victims who leave, who start new lives, who seek help, who press charges, they are the brave ones.

Abuse is not just fist to body violence.

1 in 5 women, and 1 in 71 men, in the United States, have been raped in their lifetime; about half of those are raped by an acquaintance. 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men are stalked in their lifetime in the United States. 72% of murder-suicides involve intimate partners. 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence every year, and 90% of these children are also eyewitnesses to this violence. [1]

Did you know that between 2003 and 2008, 142 women were killed in their workplace by their abuser? [1]

Did you know that the cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $8.3 billion per year? [1]

If you are walking through this hell, you are most definitely not alone.

S.M. Stirling wrote in, Dies the Fire, “Now let’s move on to the subject of how a real man treats his wife. A real man doesn’t slap even a ten-dollar hooker around, if he’s got any self-respect, much less hurt his own woman. Much less ten times over the mother of his kids. A real man busts his ass to feed his family, fights for them if he has to, dies for them if he has to. And he treats his wife with respect every day of his life, treats her like a queen – the queen of the home she makes for their children.” [2]

It’s so easy from the outside looking in to ask, why don’t they just leave if they are being abused?

If only it were that easy. The problem is sometimes they can’t even visualize what’s beyond that relationship. They can’t fathom walking out that door and never coming back. Often, they feel like they are imprisoned in the walls of the abuse. Their abuser holds the key and has no intention of unlocking the door. Often times they feel powerless. Sometimes they blame themselves. Occasionally they decide that they came into the relationship of their own free will, they locked the door on themselves by staying and they threw away the key. A lot of times there are false promises, that should never be believed, but are.

In We Need to Talk to Kevin, Lionel Shriver called domestic violence, “A poor substitute for the sort of passion we like to extol perhaps, but real love shares more in common with hatred and rage than it does geniality or politeness.” [3] You’ve heard the saying “crime of passion.” It’s insane how society perverts love. Society taints passion, and it becomes hatred. Our culture twists love for control.

In an abusive relationship, all the power goes to the abuser. The victim is a pawn in their game. Until they decide to stop playing the abusers game and play their own. Once they see a pathway out, the tables are flipped. The victim becomes the survivor. And a survivor is a force to be reckoned with. The old saying goes, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” You dare not stand in the way of a survivor who is empowered to take back control of their life.

Survivors have to focus on the life they want to live. If they think too long and too hard on the life they are living, the fear will win. Being abused is like being kidnapped and never having enough money to pay off the kidnapper. Deciding to walk away is saying “screw it” and escaping anyway.

Abuse shows no concern to race, gender, creed, age, wealth, appearance or religion. Abuse doesn’t care if anyone ever could imagine you being a victim. Abuse is a powerful force that can take down even the fiercest road blocks.

But surviving, escaping can tear down mountains. It’s a hurricane force wind. It’s a tornado of strength and hope.

Give a victim of domestic violence and inkling of confidence and the abuser better hide. Once a victim finds the strength to love themselves again, there is nothing that can stop them from living their best life.

Domestic violence is not always easy to talk about. It’s still a taboo subject to many. And that has to stop. It should have never been the case, but alas, here we are. Domestic violence must be talked about. Even when it is difficult to talk about, talk about it anyway. Too many people are suffering in silence today.

How dare we as a society let them stay alone?

So how do we end domestic violence?

I think it’s by raising a generation that understands that we are all different and that we should never take advantage of that difference. Some are strong, some are weak, some are tall, some are short, some are skinny, some are chunky, some like girls, some like boys, some are girls and like girls, and some are boys and like boys. No matter someone’s appearance, their bank account balance, their position, their sex, their color or their religion we must respect them. And we must always respect ourselves. We must raise children who know how to deal with their emotions. And we must raise children to be cognizant of emotional swings that are too high or too low. We must make sure our politicians find ways to start pouring funds back into our community mental health systems to make sure that everyone has access to the help they need to work through their issues before they take them out on someone else. We must raise children who understand how to help diffuse a situation and teach them to refuse to escalate their emotions or the emotions of someone else. We must teach our children to take 100% personal responsibility so that the actions or words of someone else cannot push them to take physical actions. We must mirror for our children proper communication skills with our spouses. We must raise kids in homes full of peace and not screaming. We must teach our kids the importance of self-realization, self-control, and empathy. We have to raise a resilient generation. We have to teach love, concern, and genuineness.

It’s our responsibility to raise the next generation, let’s teach them that violence is never the answer.

Here’s my challenge to you today:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Purple is the color of domestic violence awareness. Join the #ispypurple challenge! It’s super simple. “Spy” something purple, take a picture, post it on Facebook or Instagram, tag three friends to challenge them. And don’t forget the hashtag #ispypurple. Let’s make this thing go viral to spread awareness, and empower those who are in the midst of violence to have the courage to walk away and to those who have left to be confident in their decision to never return.

And as a shameless plug, go check out thread talk™, buy a blanket for a friend who needs a little confidence. Or buy yourself a blanket to experience a little self-love. Your purchase helps out the domestic shelters in your area. A purchase that helps someone else is the best kind to make!

Be safe. Talk to a friend. Report violence when you see it. Teach respect. Love one another.