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Focus on healthy relationships

The Emery County Domestic Violence Coalition presented its annual domestic violence awareness luncheon on Oct. 4. The guest speaker was Lou Mueller from Utah State University, San Juan Campus.

Three women each day lose their lives to domestic violence. Children suffer from the affects of domestic violence.

The group observed a moment of silence in memory of those victims of domestic violence.

Mueller was introduced by Debbie Thornton from the coalition. Mueller said, "I am thrilled to be here. My husband Phil accompanied me. I was a victim of abuse when I was 21 years old. It was from my first husband, not Phil. At college, I met a guy, he was confident and smooth. My first husband was well liked, articulate, educated and very violent."

Mueller explained how she had blocked out those years of abuse and a history her mother had written which included those years was very emotional for Mueller as she relived those experiences reading her mother's history.

She only knew her husband three months when he asked her if she would run away with him and be married. He wanted to leave that very night and she remembers driving to Elko, Nev. in a blizzard. She said on the way out there she kept asking herself what was she doing, but she was too wimpy to back out. It was one of the worst days of her life. She spent five years in that relationship. She explained away her bruises. One time she told her mother she ran into a clothesline.

One day her mother showed up at her house which was unusual because they didn't visit often. She told Mueller that the family knew she was being hurt and they wanted her to leave her husband. Her dad had bought her a car and one day when she was home alone she took her young son and took her plants and left everything else behind. She didn't know if she would be welcome at home. She stopped at a phone booth and asked her mom if it was OK for her to come home. Her mother said, 'Of course, it's OK.' There was no remorse on her husband's part.

Victims of domestic violence don't usually make a clean break the first time. "One time he ran off to California with one of my friends and was gone for a few days. I told the friend she could have him. He didn't beg me to come back when I left. I was blessed to have a family to go to. Some people don't have anyone to turn to. Be a resource, be a safe place for these victims to turn. I am speaking from experience. Most victims of domestic violence don't want to talk about it, they are ashamed. I needed my mom to tell me to get out. Getting out saved my life," said Mueller.

She told of the program she teaches young people, that helps to identify relationship problems and to avoid falling for someone who is a jerk or jerkette. Mueller was divorced for six years when she met her husband Phil. Don't rush a relationship she cautioned. Take your time and really get to know someone and spend time with them, that is the only way you can get to know them is by spending a lot of time with them. There are some people today who get married based on an internet relationship with someone they haven't spent any time with.

"That's dangerous. Take your time. Research shows it takes at least 90 days for someone's true colors to come out. Prior to that they can fake it. They can only put up a front for so long," she said.

Trust is something that must be earned in a relationship. Mueller said being in an abusive relationship made it hard for her to trust again. "You're wounded, you're not healthy. You need to be healthy yourself before you can be in a healthy relationship. Trust is earned when we do what we say we're going to do and we are honest. Expectations either build or destroy trust. When expectations are met or exceeded, your trust impression improves. When expectations are not met, trust is not earned and your relationship is moving in the wrong directions. You must strengthen yourself before you are able to help others. I wanted fidelity and honesty in a relationship. The third step is rely, you must establish trust before you can rely on another person."

Mueller told of Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. Physiological needs must be met first like breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing and sleep. Safety and security come next, including health, employment, property, family and social stability. After those needs are met, love and belonging which includes friendship, family, intimacy, sense of connection. Those factors being in place self-esteem comes next where a person is confident, realizes achievement and has respect for others. Self-actualization is next including morality, creativity, spontaneity and acceptance of yourself and others.

Good ingredients for a healthy relationship include, honesty, kindness, respect, humor and caring.

"My abusive relationship taught me what I wanted in a healthy relationship. Be committed to your spouse. Relationships with other people of the opposite sex could come between you and your spouse and it's not healthy. "Commitment doesn't walk away when things get tough. I can't imagine that," said Mueller. Phil has been sick and Mueller was there for him. She said if she was the one who was sick, she knows he would take care of her.

"When you get into a healthy relationship you don't move from one level to the next level until you complete all the steps involved including know, trust, rely, commit and touch." Commitment means making sacrifices, being true to each other. Putting someone else first and accepting responsibility. Take one step at a time and do not be in a hurry. Build a solid foundation before the relationship gets physical. Sexual activity clouds reality. If you bypass knowing someone, trusting someone, relying and being committed to someone, you are just friends with benefits.

Mueller's neighbor lady during her years in an abusive relationship told her to get out, and no earthly possession is worth your life. Worldly things do not matter. Mueller said it is so important to have healthy relationships because research shows married couples have better health, better sex, live longer lives, have greater financial security and greater happiness and happier children.

Pres. Barack Obama said, "During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we stand with all those who have been affected by this terrible crime, recognize the individuals and groups who have stepped forward to break the cycle of violence, and recommit to putting an end to domestic violence in America."

The coaltion served a pizza lunch to those in attendance and gave away several door prizes. Call 381-4743 with any questions about domestic violence and the help that's available.




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