“Abuse is stronger when its silent and it wants to be a dirty secret because it can take control over the victim as long as they live. “

An important guest post today.
This is an anonymous letter from a mother to her daughter as she watches her struggle in an abusive relationship while dealing with memories of her own past experience. Sometimes those who are closest to the situation feel the most powerless to help. I hope these words resonate with some readers and give them the courage to reach out for help or to help someone else they know dealing with domestic abuse and violence. 

I am not just a mom. I am the very person who watches and keeps track of you even though you are my adult child. It may seem I am not paying attention but I do; among the other busy life tasks I must perform every single day. I will always worry. I will always say something that supports your independence and recognize your qualities that makes me feel proud of you even though you are defensive and biting. I still feel disappointment, kindness, frustration and pride among other things. I have done the best I can in raising you and I know more than anyone that no parent is ever perfect. Especially when poverty is in the fold and the struggles that we experienced as a family complicate a content household.

I just wish that I was better able to share my story about my past. To convey my experiences as you grew up. The time before you were born before I met your father. I failed you by attempting to diminish the memories and the emotional hardship in talking about my experiences. It’s a terrible secret that no one in my family knows about; and in that silence I know abusers are given permission to continue when they aren’t even in the parameter in your life any longer.

So mom’s know things. I know things. I know he’s threatened to kill you. He’s threatened to kill himself to me. Mom’s see things in their daughters and know they are not okay. They see the bruises that are scoffed off or given some improbable excuse. They see you as an unhappy, argumentative illogical decision maker that demonstrates poor choices for your future independence. I am tired worrying and I don’t know how to fix it for you.

I remained silent and unwilling to share my terror too long because I placed it far back in my memories and built new ones to bury them. But as I realize now, the bones are always there and by burying them I can’t help anyone else, especially you. Abuse is stronger when its silent and it wants to be a dirty secret because it can take control over the victim as long as they live. Even if the abuser is long gone or dead.

When I was a young adult I made decisions about my life that were misguided. I could never confide to your Grandmother. She would have shamed me and not said anything useful as she lived out of state and out of touch since I was a young child. She would have blamed me, for certain, for not being something or say something to keep the violence going. I had no trust with her. You don’t have to trust me and as much as that makes me sad and a bit hurt it’s more important that you trust someone.

I made bad choices. Horrible ones. Most of it out of a false sense of compassion which turned into fear. In essence I let myself be held hostage by a stranger.

My sweet daughter, meet my abuser. A man who was ridiculously shy at first and for certain odd. I felt compelled to go out on one date. At the end of the evening when I told him honestly I wasn’t interested in seeing him again he erupted in such a scene – an emotional episode that I was completely in shock. I was eighteen and I had no idea what to do. You should have seen this through my eyes. He tried to set his hair on fire and screamed hysterically he would commit suicide if I did not see him again. Me. A stranger. He stripped off his clothing and huddled on the edge of the furniture in a tight ball sobbing with a lit lighter by his hair. He rocked back and forth inconsolable and out of fear of witnessing this and general concern over his well being I agreed, in terror and trying to understand what was happening, to go out with him again. I have no idea why honestly. I was terrified at what he was capable of doing.

So you see, in my silence about my past I neglected to teach you about my painful experience for you to learn from. I am not sure if you would listen anyway, but to give it everything I have as a parent I must; I will forfeit my shame and embarrassment to help you. My experience was short lived; only over one year. During this time it was extremely painful emotionally and physically.

I learned he was on parole for robbery in another state (“RUN!” I screamed in my head). He excluded me from my friends and I had to like only his (“STAND UP!” my inner voices demanded). I was held hostage by a stranger that I did not want to know or be associated with. I was better than this and I was confused at myself for the experience. He stalked me at work (“HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH! I told myself “This is not as bad as I think it is.”) He drank at least a case of beer every day that turned into rage and tirades breaking everything in sight (“SURVIVE!” my inner voices demanded).

Almost daily if the broken items weren’t my personal belongings it was the windows, doors, walls. and then he’d turn the rage by hitting himself or threatening worse (my inner survival took over). He’d turn that rage onto me if I became visible to him. If I argued back. If I spoke out. If I commented. If I didn’t have beer. If I didn’t cook dinner. If I kept something special. I was strong physically but it was the emotional barrage of unpredictable shocking behavior and assault that left me numb and incapable of acting. I hated him and worse I hated myself for being there. He would work for short periods of time before he lost his job due to his drinking, and terrorize me while driving my car which he also demanded to drive sober or drunk.

He’d threaten to drive us off cliffs and jerk the wheel toward the edge pushing the gas pedal. The worst lie about all of these experiences is that on the outside he was engaging, funny, and other people liked him. I would physically feel ill when people talked kindly about him (“CAN’T YOU SEE INTO MY EYES AND HELP ME?” I’d scream into my own silence). I tried to tell people what was happening, and they never believed me. I thought about that as he would rip off my clothes and push me outside the front door and lock it. As he would bite me leaving ugly raw bruises. As he would beat anything in his path making me feel weak.

I never got the help I needed from friends and in part because it was so embarrassing to fully confess the depths of terror I was living under. You can imagine my feelings of betrayal when I tried to seek help but couldn’t articulate fully – and “they” blamed me. People can be like that, so go to someone and keep talking until someone will believe you.

When I did finally flee from his terror I was exhausted. I had the paperwork in place, a protection order, but it didn’t stop. He chased me in his car on the rural dirt roads I lived. He broke into my home while I slept in that exhaustion and I woke up to him sitting on my bed, stroking my hair, begging for me to take him back whispering his own venom into my ear. I woke up in stark fear and pushed him off the bed and he once again raged.

I had to leave the state and go to an unknown area and start my life over and I tried my best to bury these bones to never have to think or acknowledge it ever happened. To bury myself in busy. To raise my family like it never happened. Until now. When I see it in your eyes.

So dear daughter. I see you. We give silence permission to continue the abuse. In our stories we grow stronger together and I beg you to recognize this in yourself. Before it’s too late.



[Daily Dozen]Potatoes in buckets, gardening as therapy, and good gardening tips

I guess “Daily” is a relative term here. Oh,well.I’m just trying to get back into a blogging groove. I’ll get there soon.
Here’s 12 gardening things for today. I’m starting to see signs of Spring here and getting antsy to get seeds started and things planted. You?

  1. The BEST Garden Ideas and DIY Yard Projects! – Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons – a lot of these are decorative ideas but some great ideas that would help be space savers in a small garden. I’ve done the wagon wheel idea before when I owned a pre-school but we made it a “Pizza Garden” with roma tomato,basil,oregano,etc. BTW, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons has a great Facebook pg,too…here. I’m rarely annoyed by it! (Trust me…that’s a huge endorsement from me. I’m so grumpy lately)

  2. Growing Potatoes in a Bag or a Bucket – Countryside Network – since there are so many pictures on social media of potato growing but with few details on how and what to do, this is a good one to read. It covers all the basics. This year I’m growing taters in burlap coffee sacks that I got for free from a coffee shop.

  3. The Curious Case of the Antidepressant, Anti-Anxiety Backyard Garden -I love this article so much. I have often said that gardening is the only therapy I can afford and it turns out there may be some sciencey data to support that.

  4. Kiss my Aster!: Take My Tomato, Please! – my favorite gardener-writer doesn’t like tomatoes the same way I do but I still love her and appreciate this list of the top 4 she grew in 2015.

  5. A Pyramid Planter for 15 sq. ft of Garden in Just 4 sq. ft. – Gardens All – I’m really just sharing this to show the general concept of a pyramid planter for anyone needing to grow upwards to save space. The one they show is pricey and the DIY one on pg 4 of the post requires more than a hammer and nails. If any of you come up with a super cheap and easy to construct pyramid planter, I’d love to see it 🙂

  6. Gardening Against the Odds: the restorative power of the garden – for the past 5 years the Conservation Foundation and The Sunday Telegraph have given out Gardening Against the Odds awards . This is a nice piece on the previous winners and emphasizes the power of gardening.

  7. A Kentucy Domestic Violence Shelter Helps Women Grow Food—and Confidence – a 40 acre farm that gives women escaping dv a safe refuge and employment with the added bonus of gaining skills,confidence, and therapy. Much love for this.

  8. Wise Pairings: Best Flowers to Plant with Vegetables – I am a devout practitioner of companion gardening. You absolutely should include flowers in your garden to create diversity and beneficial elements that aid veggie growth.

  9. DIY Pallet Top Garden: Using the most of your space to create a garden friendly for chickens and people! – Naturally Loriel – I love this idea and if I didn’t already have a fenced in garden, I’d be out gathering pallets right now.

  10. 28 Vegetables That Grow in Partial Shade | Small Footprint Family – I may have shared something like this before. Our last rental had mostly shade. I had good luck with all the brassicas and greens as long as I could keep the slugs at bay.

  11. 4 Problems with Starting Seedlings – Gardening Jones – All good advice.

  12. This is definitely not a complete list but it’s a good start for inspiration. I grew corn in a container last year. My advice with container gardening is to give it a shot, even if it isn’t typically something you see in a container. Even though I have gone through Master Gardener training, the bulk of my gardening experience is from trial and error, learning through doing.


If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please consider being a supporter at Patreon! Your support will keep content on the blog free and available to all on the internet as well as help me develop printed publications.  Donate here:  Poor as Folk on Patreon or make a one time contribution via paypal address luckyfishhomestead[at]gmail[dot]com



[content notes: basic income, homelessness,education,domestic violence,

χ NYC Low-income high school seniors march their college application to the post office  – “I am going someplace and no one can stop me.” Bless them.

χ Interview with Guy Standing o Basic Income

χ  Meathead Movers offers their services free to domestic violence victims fleeing abusive homes  – It might not sound like much but it is. It’s a big deal.

χ Parenting while homeless– An excellent long read focusing on the stress of parenting while living in a shelter and one initiative to support those families to build strong families despite homelessness

χ How Boise, Idaho has criminalized homelessness– they just shut down a homeless camp behind a church that was a refuge to 135 homeless folks.



Jodeci’s “Nobody Wins” makes a statement about domestic violence

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The video for Jodeci’s first single in well over a decade is a platform for the issue of domestic violence. There’s a part that touches on how poverty and the fear of poverty keeps victims trapped in abusive relationships. It’s a huge factor that keeps the abused from leaving.  A large percentage of homeless women became homeless after leaving a domestic violence situation. An abuser exerting financial control over the victim is quite common, preventing her or him from earning a stable income.

Here are a couple issues with the song and video I need to speak about. K-Ci himself was a perpetrator of domestic violence. In a statement when the song was released , K-Ci said, “We aren’t immune to issues that are important in our community. Domestic violence has always been an issue in relationships, but lately it’s been brought to the front of our community consciousness.”  I think we’re supposed to just assume that K-Ci has faced his own actions and learned how to do and be better, or if you’re unaware of the history there, K-Ci looks like a man who is stepping up to end violence against women. Either way, hearing more about what’s led to this activism via music would benefit those in the abuser role of domestic violence dynamics. The personal narrative of how he himself was not immune would certainly bring authenticity to the message.

The song itself isn’t all that in depth and might even make it sound like “fussing and fighting” is a 2-way street with victims having responsibility for having a part in their own abuse.

I certainly don’t want to undermine the message of the video by bringing up the problematic history because the message itself is important.

If you’re in an unsafe relationship and are able to reach out, here are some important numbers:


idvaac.org (Institute of Domestic Violence in the African-American Community)

ICYMI: #changetheconversation, food demand at food banks higher than ever, Utah is giving homeless people homes,and issues that affect transgender people



I know. My graphic is off center. I’ll fix it when I get my laptop fixed and don’t have to fight for time on a computer.


What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend? – More reiteration of what happens when poor people are given money.“You feel controlled by the world when you’re poor,” she said. “That was simply no longer the case.”

Eating local isn’t just trendy – it can help stop poverty – As Viki Sonntag of Sustainable Seattle has found, “Shifting 20 percent of food dollars into local direct spending creates enormous multiplier effects. Spending $100 at a locally owned restaurant generates $79 for surrounding local businesses, whereas spending $100 at a nationally franchised chain restaurant generates only $31 of income for surrounding businesses.”

David Brooks’ Utter Ignorance About Inequality -Refresher: David Brooks is that journalist who tried to make poverty a moral issue,not an economic one…among other things.
Robert Reich is like, “Oh,hell no. Sit down and let the real thinkers talk.”

UN World Food Program www.wfp.org Central African Republic: 9 Hunger Facts -Looking at food scarcity in Central African Republic: 2.6 million people need assistance, 60% have no food stocks available, 94% of communities don’t have enough seed for the next planting season,and aid is tricky to deliver because of security & safety to humanitarian workers.

Utah is Ending Homelessness by Giving People Homes -instead of criminalizing homelessness and maltreating homeless people like Captain Hammer in Hawaii did, Utah is giving homeless people apartments. Check out this comment thread for other cities doing similar.

4.8 million people will still not have healthcare coverage thank to jerkwad states who won’t expand medicaid.

What if we cared about those living in poverty as much as we care about celebrities?
via Woodgreen Community Services – Youth Settlement Services

“Being poor is not a crime:” transforming the struggle for housing rights worldwide | From singing in New York courtrooms to gluing door locks in Berlin: the struggle to protect housing rights is about more than bricks and mortar.

Poverty affects more women than men in US – yep. Now what do we do about that?

Sounds like a threat to me, especially when you can be a wage slave and still be hungry.

Demand for Food Never Higher in West Michigan-“This is the classic dilemma of American poverty: Without a job, a client has to turn to food pantries and public assistance; when she finds a job, she loses her public assistance and sometimes winds up with less than she had before; either way, she doesn’t have enough to get by. For many, the work requirements included in the House’s version of the Farm Bill could turn this situation into a true catch-22: by making food assistance available only to those who make too much to qualify for it.”
And it’s everywhere.


If you wear jeans, you’re not a woman: Transphobia at women’s shelters-22% of trans women reported experiencing domestic violence due to being transgender. 19% of respondents had been homeless at some point in their lives, a number which rose to 48% among those who had suffered domestic violence. And once in a shelter, At least one in four trans women in shelters have been physically or sexually assaulted while residing at the shelter.

March of Tigers – QPoC Domestic Violence Resources and Literature  -Domestic Violence shelters for Queer and Trans* People of Color in all 50 United States. This list will also contain reading resources with tools for addressing abuse and domestic violence in queer communities. Please add more if necessary.

ICYMI: Lots of low income & food stamp budget friendly recipe links

A round up of the stuff you may have missed this past week.


Food & Recipes

How to get kids to eat vegetables | No Ordinary Homestead -I used to be a pre-school teacher. One of the things I found thru my own experience teaching as well as raising my own children is that if kids participate in cooking & growing the food, they are much more likely to eat it.
And not surprisingly, tons of research confirms

Social Supermarkets -“In a nutshell, Social Supermarkets are markets that take surplus from other stores {items that are about to expire, are dented, mislabeled, etc.} and sell them at significant discounts to patrons who need some sort of economic assistance, instead of tossing them into the trash.”

Real Food Recipes to Replace Your Favorite Junk Foods – how to transform your fave “junky” recipes to real food ones. My tip: Don’t be intimidated by recipes that call for ingredients you’ve never heard or can’t find in your area. I’m an experienced cook and I had to google what an ingredient was yesterday lol
Totally use goggle when you are trying to find a substitute for an ingredient that is too expensive or hard to find.
(For example: Peanut butter or Sun Butter is a pretty decent sub for tahini)

25 Easy Crock Pot Dessert Recipes – Mmmmm, desserts.

100+ 30 Minute (or less) Meal Ideas for the Busy Cook | Love Bakes Good Cakes -Quick,easy…and a lot of them look pretty frugal,too.

Freezer Friendly | Well Rounded NY -budget friendly.

Frugality Gal: $1 Dinner: Super Cheap Meal to Make for a Lazy Night – It’s a group turkey-macaroni dish. Total cost $1.15 (her onions & peps were free,though)

90 Meals For $1.25 Per Serving (or Less!) – Daily Deals Blog – I was so confused because I scrolled down to the bottom and only saw 30. There’s 30 recipes for each meal.

1 Organic Chicken, 22 Healthy Meals, $49 Bucks  – There were skeptics when I posted this on my social media. I’ll have to experiment with it myself, maybe after the hollerdaze.

Secret Freegan scored all this food to donate to a teen shelter. Otherwise, it would be slated for trash.



Thrifty Living & DIY

A Thrifted and Thrifty Gifts Discussion: You Giving Thrifted Gifts? + Gift Wrap Ideas -I’m a big fan of thrifted giving. It’s about the only kind I do. Well, besides handmade.

5 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season –           I like this list for several reasons. Mindful donations, caring for people and the planet, and practical things nearly everyone can do.
I was happy to see Treecycling. I collect them from the neighborhood & drag them into the woods. #goofypaganlady

 Literacy Launchpad: 20 Places to Find Free Children’s Books Online – A good resource for families w/ Internet connection at home but can’t make it to the library when they’re open to take out actual books.

25 Ways to Naturally Clean with Salt ~ * THE COUNTRY CHIC COTTAGE  – Non-toxic. Cheap. And you can use food stamps to buy it. It works,too. I had coffee stains on my counter and salt totally worked.

Articles & Thoughts

Iowa wants its poor to give up smoking and drinking to qualify for Medicaid – “A single person at 50 percent of the poverty line makes less than $500 per month. That’s obviously not someone who can afford even a nickel in extra expenses. But that was the income level in Iowa’s initial application, which means that for all practical purposes the original goal of this program was to (a) deny government benefits to poor people who are smokers, drinkers, drug users, or overweight, but (b) provide the benefits if these poor people agree to fairly intrusive government monitoring that ensures they improve these behaviors.”

Study: Over 21 Million U.S. Households Can’t Afford Their Rent – yeah.


Activism & Awareness

Campaign Aims to Get Cell Phones to Survivors: Donations Wanted – If you have an old cell phone laying around, consider donating it to this program. They help domestic violence victims have a lifeline to help when they need it.


Transgender workers are nearly four times more likely than the population as a whole to have a household income of less than $10,000. It’s absolutely important to address how poverty and trans issues intersect. Check out http://transequality.org/ for more info.

When Drones Guard the Pipeline – Militarizing Fossil Fuels in the East By Winona LaDuke with Frank Molley.http://bit.ly/16cjzqz

Staff from the Chicago Bulls are spending the afternoon volunteering at the Food Depository! Thank you! They’re also fighting hunger with the Social Donation Plate. Check it out at www.thedonationplate.org.


Sharing is caring…so don’t donate to The Salvation Army.

Or single mothers who need help

I’ve been telling people for years, “Please don’t put money in those red Salvation Army kettles.” It had nothing to do with that hateful Salvation Army rep who proclaimed that gays deserve to die or any other LGBT issue but being a person that falls under the umbrella of the label, it  certainly doesn’t help my opinion of that church organization. Plus, LGBT people are more likely to be poor than heterosexual and cisgendered  people in America. Charities are supposed to want to help poor people.

I used to be quite involved volunteering  for a local domestic violence shelter. I would get a phone call about once a week from the shelter coordinator. She would give me a list of things they needed. ASAP. Women ,both with and without children, would come to the shelter with literally only the clothes on their backs. Maybe they had a small diaper bag ready to go with a change of clothes,some diapers, a bottle but usually they didn’t.

As women settled in to the shelter, they needed proper clothing for going to job interviews. The kids needed clothes to go to school.

When the women were ready to leave the shelter and move in to a place of their own, they had no real belongings to set up a household. Not just no furniture but pots,pans,dishes,utensils,towels,bedding…
The things you need to make a household function & take care of yourself & family.

The domestic violence agency depended on donations from the community since they had no real budget to help buy clothing ,let alone things needed to set up a household. The most helpful source of non-private individual donations was Catholic Charities. The worst by far was The Salvation Army.
If they did agree to give a family a voucher, they were allowed : one cup,one spoon,one fork,one plate per person. No beds or even just a mattress. Not even sheets,towels,blankets. They could choose some clothing but I don’t remember how much.  I’ve seen the large volume of donations made to the Salvation Army in my area. In fact, they send thousands of pounds of clothing to other countries.They could spare plenty for a family in need. They chose not to.

This wasn’t isolated to just the women trying to regain her life after domestic violence. I also mentored a lot of teen parents and the help they were given was the same. From what I saw personally, your house had to burn down to get any help from The Salvation Army. Or maybe your husband died just before Christmas. You could get some pity charity then.

They were also very clear that NO CASH GRANTS be given to families or individuals. The Salvation Army has a reputation of the place you go for thrifty shopping. The times I shopped there in the past, I did not find it affordable at all. I know that in part the high (to me) prices are because I live in a college town where an Ivy League University has residence and the SA prices things to take full advantage of wealthy student clientele base.  I don’t know where the Salvation Army profits go specifically but I know it’s not directly to families who need help. It seems that The Salvation Army tends to make themselves front and center when disaster and tragedy hit in a community or nationwide. Not so much for the other times.

Now ,that’s my perspective in my community. I have heard that there are good things being done elsewhere by The Salvation Army . That’s great,I guess.  That’s not what I saw here. I saw women (yes,they were always women. This does not mean there aren’t victims of domestic violence who aren’t women. That just happened to be what I saw) who were vulnerable and in need turned away when they easily could have been helped.

If you’re thinking of donating any spare change this Christmas time, think about your local food pantry. They are stretched thin nationwide. They will appreciate your donation and will gladly use it to help someone in need with no stipulations regarding sexual orientation or anything else.

Remembering Chris Keith, aka “The Adventures of a Thrifty Mama”

Chris just made this her Facebook header photo recently. I smiled every time I saw it . It should be said that Chris’ had a fabulous sense of humor.

I “met” Chris through my Facebook page for my personal blog crazy dumbsaint of the mind and I in turn become a fan of her blog Adventures of a Thrifty Mama in the City ‘Stead, and then later we got to know each other outside of blogging. For those  who don’t know how online friendships work, they might be confused when I call Chris my friend. Online friendships are funny things and sometimes it happens that the people you trust online with your experiences  and thoughts are these people you’ve never even had so much as a cup of coffee with.

Chris & I had a lot in common. We were both struggling to feed our families real food on a food stamp budget and defied being stereotyped as “welfare mom living off the system”. We both were striving  to create a sustainable  and secure food sovereignty for ourselves that didn’t require the safety net of the system, yet both strongly felt that the safety net needed to be there for people who need it to eat. Just a couple months ago, she  was interviewed on a local TV station to talk about the November food stamp cuts and what it could mean to low income families. We both had a history of domestic abuse &  trauma. Beyond that, we had very similar parenting philosophies and were proud Mamas to our larger-than-average family.

It hurts to write these things in the past tense, knowing that that tense does not apply to me as I’m still very much alive and still those things and she is not.On December 5th, Chris and her 14 year old son Isaac were shot and killed by her estranged husband, who was given his guns back by police only one day before.

I don’t want this to be Chris’ story. She was a survivor and now she isn’t. It’s murky territory to presume to speak for the dead but I think Chris would want it said that even though domestic violence can affect all different kinds of women (and men),  the fear of poverty is what prevents many mothers from leaving and if they do find the courage to leave, they do indeed find themselves subjected to poverty. Photo: Eaton Rapids High School Class of 1994 Lost a great friend, daughter and mother yesterday in an act of violence that I can't even fathom. Please keep Chris Keith's children and family in your thoughts and prayers in this very difficult time. If anyone you know is struggling with an unhealthy relationship and you can help please do not hesitate.There is a clear need to address the way families are affected by domestic violence and the part poverty can play on it.

I’ll put that discussion aside for now. When I talk about domestic violence issues in the future,I’ll be thinking of Chris. Right now, my thoughts are with her family & her three youngest children who are safe and being cared for by family. There is a memorial fund set up by Chris’ church. You can go here to make a contribution.

The church and family request that no more toys,clothing and gifts be donated. Monetary donations to the memorial fund are the most needed as Chris’ mom will need to remodel her house a little for the children to live with her and of course, both short term & long term care of the children.