You can’t stop where you come from because it’s in your blood, it’s in your DNA..” ~ Lia Marie Johnson

Lia Marie Johnson, actress, singer and YouTuber, released a heart wrenching song and video titled “DNA” about the devastating impact domestic violence has had on her life; and her struggle to break free from the cycle of abuse. 

Past my bedtime,

Blue and red lights,

Come take you away,

Hate to see you like a monster,

So I run and hide...”

According to statistics, as many as 10 million children witness domestic violence each year. In the United States, in a single day (2008) 16,458 children were living in a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing facility, while an additional 6,430 children sought services at a non-residential program. (fromThe National Network to End Domestic Violence, (2009). Domestic Violence Counts 2008: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services). And in Canada, on any given day, about 2,500 children are living in an abused woman’s shelter with their mothers (Little Eyes, Little Ears). 

Witnessing abuse includesWitnessing can mean SEEING actual incidents of physical/and or sexual abuse. It can mean HEARING threats or fighting noises from another room. Children may also OBSERVE the aftermath of physical abuse such as blood, bruises, tears, torn clothing, and broken items. Finally children may be AWARE of the tension in the home such as their mother’s fearfulness when the abuser’s car pulls into the driveway.” (Domestic Violence Roundtable) Witnessing abuse is traumatic to children, even if they are not physically hurt, and causes harmful effects on every part of a child’s life physically, emotionally, socially and developmentally. Children who witness abuse are also more likely to become involved in abusive relationships as adults (which is not limited to intimate relationships but could involve any social interaction such as: work, church/religious involvement, friendships, or a pattern of being manipulated or taken advantage of.) 

The video for “DNA”, released in 2016, shows the cycle of abuse in two parallel stories of Lia witnessing domestic violence as a child, and later experiencing it in her own life as a young adult. 

Public Domain Image:

The damage that abuse has created in Lia’s life are vividly depicted in the video for “DNA” – these are common struggles many survivors face – she is a young adult who is seeking love and attention in the wrong places. She is the life of the party whose smile hides the turmoil she feels inside. She feels depressed, anxious, insecure. Lia’s life is spinning out of control as she parties and drinks. For more info on how domestic violence affects children, please read: Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence

Research has also shown that children who are exposed to violence, or are victims of violence, are at a much higher risk for entering abusive relationships in later in life – meaning the cycle of abuse continues. This is also true for Lia, who reveals in the “DNA” video, her own experiences being involved in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. Lia says about this relationship,”When I wrote this song, I was at a really low point. I saw a lot of similarities. I didn’t want to be like that.” (Lia Marie Johnson – DNA “Behind the Scenes”). The similarities are shown in the video, when images flash back and forth between Lia and her memories of her parents, where she witnessed her mother being abused by her father. The song also reflects the inner conflict Lia feels – torn between fear of her father and the love she has for him.

Lia says witnessing abuse left her with low self-esteem and feeling that she “would always be a f– up” but she later learned, that she can change her life. And what she saw in parent’s life does not have to repeat into her own. Which is true, it is possible to break the cycle of abuse. If you have been a victim of domestic violence or exposed to it, there is help, support and resources available to assist you with safety planning and other needs (please see list of Helplines below). 

Are the pieces of you

In the pieces of me

I’m just so scared

You’re who I’ll be when I erupt,

Just like you do

They look at me

Like I look at you

I won’t be, no

I won’t be like you

Fighting back,

I’m fighting back the truth …”


Additional Reading: 

Child Abuse and Neglect: How to Spot the Signs and Make a Difference

The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children (Domestic Violence Roundtable)

Little Eyes, Little Ears: How Domestic Violence Shapes Children As They Grow by Alison Cunningham & Linda Baker



National Child Abuse Hotline: 1.800.422.4453

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.7233

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network: 1.800.656.4673

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474



Public Domain Photo

Several years ago, I found myself escaping an abusive relationship after being physically assaulted. I was homeless with two small, traumatized children to care for… despite the bleak circumstances, the life ahead of me was so much better than the one I left behind.

The children and I stayed wherever we could – on the couches of friends or family willing to take us in, slept in our minivan and in a battered women’s “shelter”.

The “shelter” was a roof over our heads but little else – it lacked supportive services and was generally a toxic, chaotic environment. Toys and games for were donated to the “shelter” but children were not allowed to play with them. I don’t know why. The kids were rounded up in the living room and sat on the dirty floor playing with dust balls or watching whatever was on TV – no cartoons because there was only one TV and the adults chose all the programming. My children were already traumatized and being in this environment just made things worse. So I made it a point to take my children out of the shelter during the day, and find activities or parks to visit.

It was during this time that my “art advocacy” was born. I started taking pictures to record our lives as being homeless; I wanted to speak out against the abuse that was done to us.. and the only safe way (at the time) was in pictures.

To keep my children busy, and to keep their mind off our struggles, I would tell them “tall tales” – long, adventurous stories. From these stories I found the voice that had been suppressed due to the abuse and began writing stories and poetry.

I found community and church forums to display my photography or read a poem. Then I started creating picture quotes to raise awareness about abuse, and the issue survivors face when leaving abuseThrough art, I was not only creating a way to raise awareness and give voice but I was also creating a new life for myself. 

I am now sharing my art and photography on “Parenting Abused Children”, to share my journey and offer an encouraging message that it is possible to heal, and overcome abuse.




Blessings,  EJ, © 2017


Pockets full of pebbles and a head full of dreams...

Pocket full of pebbles and a head full of dreams…


Public Source:

Public Source:

Divorce: 6 Things To Never Tell Your Children

‘When we choose our words carefully, when we look past ourselves, our own egos however wounded, and realize that our children’s healthy emotional well being should trump any and all manipulation, self-victimization, snide remarks, etc voiced to our children about our ex-spouse we will be doing our job as a parent.” -Grace Power Strength, 2013

Divorce 6 Things to Never Tell Your Children” is an article that delves into the emotional turmoil following divorce, and the difficulties dealing with an ex partner who is abusive, vengeful or harboring anger/resentment.  Toxic behavior the ex displayed during the relationship doesn’t just end because the divorce is final, or the relationship is over but continues post separation, and often spills onto the messages sent to the children or emerges in their parenting.

This article exposes “6 Things to Never Tell Your Children“, which are common statements made to children, that are unhealthy, and hurtful. And also reveals tips on how to detect manipulation, and hidden messages. The article offers tips on how to avoid playing into the manipulation, and mind games, so you can maintain your sense of peace, and give your child the sense of stability that they deserve. 

About: Grace, Power Strength is an insightful, and encouraging blog penned by Jennifer Gafford that blends stories from her personal experiences with practical tips and advice concerning abuse, divorce/custody, personality disorders, healing from abuse, and spiritual wisdom (and more).

Grace Power Strength

One thing I have learned from co-parenting with an abusive, personality disordered ex that NOT saying anything is just as painful, and just as dysfunctional as manipulating or saying inappropriate statements to a child. By “NOT saying anything” I am referring to an ex partner that refuses to communicate, refuses to share information and attempts to completely shut out or remove the other parent from the child’s life.

When your child goes to spend time with the other the parent, that child should just be able to enjoy their visit and grow their relationship with their parent, and family. When a parent refuses to communicate, and will not share any information on the child’s progress or well-being it creates a toxic environment that promotes hostility, secrecy, and hinders the child’s ability to trust or feel secure with the other parent. It also places an adult responsibility on the child – who is burdened with keeping secrets, or is put in the role of relaying information (or being brainwashed to only tell certain things, or told to give false information or told not to say anything at all).

Parents need to find ways to communicate and share information regarding the child. In cases where abuse is present, there needs to be boundaries on what information is shared (i.e. child focused and not getting into the personal life of the other parent, also maintaining address confidentiality if that is an issue) and a safe method of communication should be developed.

Judges, Guardian ad Litems, therapists and other professionals working with the family also need to be educated, and taught to recognize domestic violence and how it manifests post separation in order to properly address the family’s needs, and be aware of safety concerns. Family Courts and CPS have a responsibility to keep safety a priority, and recognize abuse to avoid actions that would unfairly punish a victim of abuse, or place the children in danger. Family Courts also need to be aware of their own actions so they do not enable abuse to continue, and so that orders do not empower tactics used by abusers.

In dealing with my abusive ex, the most important thing I have learned is to recognize his abusive, personality disordered behavior for what it is. I sought education and sought support from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and also sought help from abuse advocacy organizations.

In my relationship with my ex, I did not have the ability to speak for myself, and was dominated and controlled by his violence, or fear of what he would do to me or the children. When I escaped from the abuse, I was not truly free because I carried with me years of conditioning, where my survival depended on acclimating to abuse or adapting my true feelings, and true self to meet his selfish demands. There was no peace. I could not even voice what I wanted, or what I needed for myself. Getting support has helped me to heal, and reclaim my sense of self. So it was important is to recognize, and get educated, on domestic violence and develop a safety plan.

An additional resource, NAMI helped me to identify, and seek support, in dealing with issues regarding my ex’s personality disorder in a way that was informed, non-judgmental and offered peer support. I no longer felt alone in dealing with these types of behaviors, and felt better informed – which meant I was not reacting in a personal or emotional way; which in turn gave me a separation from my abuser that was needed to maintain my own distinct space or boundary.

I also would say that every person has their journey… the process of divorce, healing and re-creating your family is not easy, but no one has to be alone in this process. We can learn and grow from each other; and through our experiences, and insight, help to educate and inform others.

~ EJ



What Messages or Words Would You Advise to Never Tell a Child?

And How Do You Cope With Co-Parenting, or Dealing With a Toxic Ex? Any Tips on How to Find Your Calm or Maintain Your Peace?

Plz Post Below!



“These tears that I cry, ain’t worth it,
This circle around my eye, ain’t worth it,
These bruises that I feel, in the mornin’ time,
ain’t worth it,
But I’m worth it…
And His love is all I need,
And His love, it never hurts me,
And His love, loves unconditionally,
So I don’t need you to love me…

“His Love” by Tiana Leandra is a powerful video that combines statistics about domestic violence with a faith-filled message about what real love is (versus abuse, power and control).

Known for her humble and graceful presence, Tiana has embraced the hearts of many people. She sings contemporary Christian/Gospel music that is focused on God’s power working through real life situations, and encouraging messages to uplift, and inspire.

ALLEEO MUZIK/TMG presents: Tiana Leandra “HIS LOVE”
From Debut Album ” MY HEART’S DIARY”

Tiana Leandra YouTube Channel

Tiana Leandra Facebook

Do you feel “stuck” in your marriage? Is there a nagging sense that something is wrong between you and your spouse but you don’t know what? Have you tried “everything” to “fix” your problems but still, nothing seems to change?

Dave Willis tackles the 7 common patterns of dysfunction that wreak havoc on his marriage in an article on Family Share: The 7 Types of Dysfunctional Marriages

These are the most common patterns, but it does not limit the other types of problems that may exist. Willis is not a therapist; this article is based on his experience as pastor who has interacted with other married couples from all over the world. Willis is also married.

In brief, the common types Willis mentions includes (there is more detail in the article):

1) The Scorekeepers – Who keep score of the other partner’s behavior and use that to control or manipulate.
2) The Fantasizers – Live in a fantasy life, not reality.
3) The Outsourcers – Escape into other people, careers and personal pursuits at the expense of their marriage.
4) The Blamers – Blame their partner for anything and everything that is wrong.
5) The Separatists – A marriage where both people are living two separate lives, and have lost the togetherness and equality that marriage requires.
6) The Deceivers – A marriage that lacks trust and is troubled with secrecy and lies.
7) The Quitters – A partner that quits when things get tough.

The article does not talk about domestic violence (which includes emotional abuse, a strong theme in these patterns of dysfunction) but I think the warning signs should be mentioned to raise awareness of the possibility, in case abuse is happening in the relationships. Early detection of domestic violence is crucial in helping a victim be safe, and get needed help.

Power and Control Wheel:

Warning Signs of Family Violence (Fulton Co. Violence Task Force)

You do not have to live in chaos or dysfunction! Recognizing there is a real problem in your marriage is the first step to getting help. You do not have to make these choices alone, nor do you have to be trapped or stuck in a situation that seems out of your control, there is help and support available to break free from the dysfunction, and live the life you were meant to have.

— EJ, 2015

211 is a free and confidential phone line for people in North America to find local community resources. Open 24/7: 211 Resources

Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-8255 or 775-784-8090. Or, text “ANSWER” to 839863.
Staff and volunteers are available 24/7/365. This is a confidential and free service. Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour crisis line is here to provide safe, non-judgmental support for individuals in any type of crisis. In addition to our 24-hour crisis hotline, we also offer crisis intervention through text messaging. Text “ANSWER” to 839863.
Crisis Call Center

Crisis Text Line serves anyone in any type of crisis, providing them access to free, 24/7 emotional support and information they need via the medium they already use and trust: text. Here’s how it works:
Someone texts into CTL anywhere, anytime, about any type of crisis.
A live, trained specialist receives the text and responds quickly.
The specialist helps the person stay safe and healthy with effective, secure counseling and referrals through text message using CTL’s platform.
Crisis Text Line

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Note: This is a list of things that can help with the “holiday blues” and what to avoid. This is NOT to be used as or to replace medical or therapeutic advice.

These are insights that have resulted from my own experiences in dealing with the grief/loss/trauma of losing my children due to an unjust court ruling that gave full custody an alleged abuser, and has alienated me from my children. Please feel free to add your thoughts or self care tips to the comment section below!

Self Care is what you to give yourself nurturing and care. Self Care can be used for a variety of reasons: to help relax, to lessen anxiety, to help cope with a difficult situation, to work on a personal goal…are just a few ways self care can be utilized.

Some Self-Care Tips for dealing with the “holiday” blues:

** 1) DON’T CAVE IN TO PRESSURE, EXPECTATIONS or SHOULD’S. Forcing yourself to do things trigger painful memories, or to act like everything is fine when it is not or giving in to make others happy at your expense is harmful.

DO BE ASSERTIVE to express your needs. It may help to talk with a supportive person (friend, family, religious support, support group, counselor, etc) ahead of time to come up with a plan on how to deal with the holidays or to help you learn how to better communicate and express your needs.

** 2) DON’T ISOLATE OR WITHDRAW. At times you may need to take time for yourself but if you increasingly find yourself alone, avoiding social relationships or feeling trapped by grief, that may be a sign that isolation is working against you.

DO STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR GRIEF. If needed, seek additional support or professional help. Visit friends or family. Go outside/be in nature. Seek spiritual support. Attend a grief support group or other support group.

** 3) DO DISTRACTION: Distraction helps overcome feeling “stuck”, can help when you are focusing too much on one thing, and can change your mood. Some ideas: Relaxing bath/spa/manicure, Music, Movies, Scrapbooking/Journaling, Spending time with friends/family, Visit park or museum, and Prayer/Meditation, Cooking/Baking etc.

DON’T: Abuse drugs, alcohol, ENGAGE IN RISKY OR UNSAFE BEHAVIORS TO DISTRACT! If you finding yourself in dangerous situations or feel out of control, immediately seek help or call a crisis line.

** 4) DO RE-FOCUS YOUR ENERGY: Grief/loss/trauma drains a tremendous amount of energy and personal resources, and at time can be overwhelming or feel like it is holding you back. Re-focusing involves using that energy in a positive way so you can move beyond the grief (making it more manageable, and giving you more control over your thoughts and emotions). Some ideas: Volunteering, Spending time with pets, Spending time with friends/family/spiritual support, Enjoying a hobby, Gardening, Exercise (Aerobics, Yoga, Hiking, Biking, Walking, Swimming, Dance, Sports etc.), Community Education or other classes, Support Group, Art/Craft/Sewing Projects, Play musical instrument, Cleaning, Going to the mall, Going to amusement park, etc.

Refocusing your energy can also be to take things associated with your grief, loss or memories and re-channel them into something that has purpose or meaning to you. Or to adapt what was lost to a new situation or new purpose.
One way I re-focused: As a mother, I really missed cooking family meals. Cooking was a way for me to share my creativity, and love with my family. I re-focused my cooking energy, that was largely used in grief, and found new purpose by cooking meals or treats for friends/family who were in need or who were ill and then delivering the food. This helped me feel connected to an important part of what made me feel like a “mom” and helped me move past the grief of not being able to cook for my own children because I found other ways I could share, and use my talents.

** 5) DON’T PRETEND EVERYTHING FINE OR NORMAL. This may actually increase your feelings of grief, trauma or helplessness.

DO: BE REAL! Be gentle, and give yourself positive messages. There may be days you do not meet your own expectations, or you are not reaching the goals you feel you should. Let go, tell yourself “it’s okay” and focus what’s important—you! You may need extra self-care during tough times. It is okay to take your time to process, grieve, heal and do what you need in order to cope, and rebuild your life–even if those steps are not the way you used to live life, they are steps towards healing and growth.

Certain holidays or special events may be triggering or difficult to cope with. Consider honoring or celebrating the event in a different way—one that has meaning to you, and is comforting. Or perhaps this is a day for you to distract, re-focus your energy or do extra self-care. Be creative, and gentle on yourself. Ideas: Volunteer, Light a candle, Release a balloon, Spend time with supportive people, Go on a daytrip, Wrap yourself in a warm blanket or heating pad, Enjoy a special meal or treat, Get a makeover, Go fishing, Go on a picnic, Get a massage, Take time to honor or remember your loved one, Say a prayer, Meditate, Go out for dinner etc.

Grief is only one step along the journey of loss, there is much more ahead. Hurt, loss and grief can be overwhelming but there is hope—grief does not have to define your life, these painful steps ultimately lead towards healing. The loss may never go away or be replaced, but it is possible to lessen the painful emotions, and rebuild your life—even to experience joy again. To find strength where there was hurt. To find hope where there is despair. To hold your loved one close but not be held back. To remember without the painful knife stabbing through your heart. To smile where you once cried. To celebrate a holiday, birthday, anniversary or special event in peace. To reconnect to life. To regain your voice. To find purpose. To re-discover a dream. To dedicate yourself to a cause. To take the next step, and another.

— EJ Perth, © 2013.

Seeking a spiritual connection
Seeking a harassment order.

I want to hold you forever
I’m gonna hurt you.

I’m not sure I want things to slow down
I’m not sure I want to spend another minute with you.

You’re my inspiration
You’re a bitch.

A life together, in love forever.
A criminal past.

You have made me a better person
You are so unappreciative.

I will cherish our togetherness in spirit
I will take the kids from you,
By making up stories…you are crazy

Your a great mom with much to offer,
I’m fortunate, the children are fortunate…
You’re a piece of work,
Who would want you now?

You’re my past, present and future
You’re going to feel pain, just the way I did.

I have cleaned up the broken glass
The books torn from the shelf,
and thrown at me
The dishes smashed on the floor,
(We will never have a matching set)
Wiped tears from trembling faces
With the last of my strength,
I will walk away from the mess
I will rise from the ruins
Of “our togetherness in spirit”
And keep my hands up,
To grasp at the sky
The wind moving between my fingers
A new sensation—free.

EJ, ©2006

Some of the lines from the beginning of this poem were taken from things my abuser said to me, and later the things he did.
In this poem, I want to show the progression of abuse..the charm and manipulation,and then the violence and breaking free…