I am at a hotel. I think I’m dying. I have a bruise from where the Farmer slammed me into our bed post.

I took the kids and went to a hotel so I could have time to think. I think I need to move into a hotel for a month.

The Farmer told me that he will not beat me up any more if I do not make him stay up late talking to me.

If you asked him why he is still being violent to me, he would tell you that I’m impossible to live with. That I never stop talking. That I never leave him alone. How he can’t get any peace and quiet in his own house. That’s what he’d tell you.

And he’d tell you that I should be medicated.

I’m trying to make sure this is a career blog, because, if nothing else, if I don’t have a career then it’s pretty hard to have the discussion of why I am not leaving.

I am having trouble writing, in case you haven’t noticed. I’m not great at faking things. I am trying to do business as usual because we all know that I should have left the last time there was violence.

Look. I can’t even write “the last time he beat me up.” I tried to, but then I thought: “No. It’s my fault. I deserve it. He’s right. I’m impossible to live with.”

Our couples therapist told us we will never make any progress. The reason that we will never make any progress is because neither of us can be vulnerable in a relationship.

This might be true.

The Farmer responded by saying he thinks we are making good progress. That was when he had made it to two months without hurting me. He said that was progress.

I feel like I am never going to get past this if I don’t write about it.

Some days I wish I had a real job at Brazen Careerist where I had to go into an office every day. I think it might be good for me. Structure is good for me.

I thought it would be such a big deal when I stopped working there. But it’s not. No one really cares. The company moves on. I show up to board meetings and there are people working there who I’ve never even met.

When I was growing up I always heard women say that you should have a career so you can take care of yourself without a husband. What if there’s a divorce? You need to be able to support yourself! Don’t let yourself get stuck.

But now we know more about work. It’s fun to have a career. It’s fun to get the accolades that work provides.

And we know more about domestic violence. You don’t need a career to leave. You need something else.

I am not sure what. I think I might need a hotel. But really I need to know what is keeping me there. I’m pretty sure that blaming myself is keeping me there. I think, “Why would I leave him when it’s all my fault?”

This is what I felt like when I was a kid. I was taken out of my parents house when I was fourteen. But I kept wanting to go back. I kept thinking that I’d be better and they’d like me better.

My parents were banned from family therapy because of poor behavior. The final blow to their time in family therapy was when they said the family is much better with me in the mental ward.

So I did therapy alone, and after a while I got that feeling again: That maybe now I would be the type of person my parents liked and we could all get along.

I lasted one day at my parents house before there was violence.

I tell you this to tell you where my comfort zone is. Right there.

And I tell you this to tell you that I blame myself for getting myself into this. I think I have poor relationship skills. I think I am probably only interested in sharing my feelings if I’m writing them.

I think my closest relationships in my life are with my kids and with you, the person reading my blog.

The hardest thing about leaving is that no one cares. My parents were so relieved when the police finally took me out of the house. The police said, “We’re going to have to take her now,” and my mom said, “Thank you so much! Please do that.” She wasn’t mean when she said it. She was genuinely relieved.

That’s how the Farmer will be, too. He broke up with me 50 times while we were dating. He loves the feeling of getting rid of me.

That’s why I can’t leave. I want someone to miss me.

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722 replies
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  1. Liza
    Liza says:


    Leave. Before he hates you. Before you hate him. Before you really start to believe its your fault. It takes two to create violence.

    This. This is not progress.

    Just leave.


    P.S, Minneapolis is very entrepreneur.

    • Pluma
      Pluma says:

      I came back to read to make sure Penelope seems okay and see comments such as this and feel compelled to point out NO it does not take two to create violence- what in heavens name could Liza be thinking.

      I thought to not comment at all but that seems dangerous, if one person thinks such a thing, how many others are wrong about the dynamics.

  2. Steve C
    Steve C says:

    Please Penelope… take care of yourself, your kids. Return to what you know best. You have so many people supporting you and I’m one of them. My heart aches for you to find a place that can bring you anything close to peace and happiness. You still have time to find rewarding peace and fulfillment. There’s no perfect in this world, just varying degrees of comfort and achievement with crap mixed in. The crap part… we can control that but it takes the wherewithal to say god-damn it, I’ve had it and it’s time to move on. Honestly, Penelope, it’s not too late for you. Make that move… write about it… inspire others to follow in your footsteps. Together, we can all find courage. Do it, Penelope.

  3. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Oh P. As someone else who lived in a violent home for way too long, I can tell you that yes, you will blame yourself and no, it’s not your fault. Of course it isnt. Logically, it can’t be your fault, but there’s something in us that makes us blame ourselves. I didn’t get out until I had a 100 percent sure place to go. I made the plan and I made sure it was airtight and then one night I put the plan into action. And it worked. I hope you can fun your plan. And if your plan is to stay in a hotel until you figure out another plan, then that’s just fine. Take it one day at a time. But don’t go back. You deserve so much better. Hugs.

  4. sk
    sk says:

    I miss you when you don’t write. You’re funny, honest, articulate and you always make me think. Big hug and I hope you find the strength to make the right decision here.

  5. E Green
    E Green says:

    Dear Penelope!

    What’s the point!? You know you should leave. It amazes me, how many of us women will take all types of abuse for the sake of having a man in our life! God please help us understand how to let go! Love is not suppose to be painful in any form. My interpretation of the part of the marriage vows that says “until death do you part” does not mean one has to be six feet under…. it means when the marriage is “dead”…. leave immediately!

  6. Jocelyn
    Jocelyn says:

    I agree with the resounding sentiment above, to leave.

    What if your relationship was a business? Love, happiness, support the product. Clearly The approach is flawed. Walk away, start over, reinvent.

  7. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:


    You know this guy,I found his blog through you. READ TODAY’S POST.

    And then link to it on your blog for anyone else who’s ‘down’. This will help right now, this minute. For any situation.

  8. Cat
    Cat says:

    Penelope, you are one of my favorite writers. I have missed you in my RSS feed. I never know what to think of you, and that’s why I like you — you are an authentic person with interesting thoughts. You are smart. Totally selfishly? I DO miss you when you don’t write.

    But I also want you and your family to be safe. Please, do whatever you feel you need to do to take care of yourself.

  9. Pascale Soleil
    Pascale Soleil says:

    I have no doubt that you can be a maddening, frustrating, annoying, mind-blowingly irritating person to live with.

    But healthy, civilized adults do not use violence to address interpersonal difficulties. They don’t scream and break things. They talk or they walk. They exercise self-control and self-discipline; they don’t try to control or discipline the other person.

    You can only work effectively on your own interpersonal skills in a safe and supportive environment. It looks, sadly, as if your relationship with the Farmer is NOT such a situation.

    You cannot be a good mother to your children unless your are a good custodian of your own life and well-being. Get them somewhere safe so that you can do the work that will let you navigate relationships in security and with joy.

    Find among your friends a truly happy married couple, preferably one who has been together for twenty years or more. Listen to them, observe how they interact each with each other, ask them how “love in action” looks, sounds, feels. Talk to them about how they resolve conflicts – big ones about money or time or child-rearing or sex. You desperately need healthy models in real, live people so that you can believe it’s really possible.

  10. Karolina
    Karolina says:

    I read your blog every day because you are inspiring and sometimes you are funny.

    I worked so hard in college and it led me nowhere. Your blog is what keeps me motivated to hang in there and look for different avenues–hell, even CREATE different avenues for myself. And I’ve been doing that.

    So, THANK YOU PENELOPE. THANK YOU for taking the time to educate me about the harsh economy we live in and motivate me to grab it by the horns.

    P.s. I will miss you. So will any of your other readers. Take care of yourself!!!

  11. Rachelle
    Rachelle says:

    Here’s the thing about abusers, they draw you in. You used to work at Brazen Careerist, then you moved to Madison, the kids went off to school, now they don’t. It’s like coming close to a black hole and getting sucked in.

    In any case, when you spoke about “quitting” that struck a chord in me. You will never be perfect enough to avoid the farmer getting angry and hitting you.

    He can’t stand your yakking? No problem, find a deaf man.

    In any case, who am I to talk about this? I went back after having a boiling pot of soup thrown on me (Causing 2nd degree burns waist down) You have to find your own path out. Abusive relationships are so addictive, the drama, the making up and the entire cycle. It has nothing to do with being smart either and the cognitive dissonance only makes you hate yourself more.

    It is entirely possible, to be successful and have severe abuse in your relationship.

    I think the hardest part for me was figuring out that it’s ok to love the abuser and still choose to stay away. I was very ashamed and conflicted. I read a book by the Dalai Lama and he kind of separated love from other emotions, for me. It helped a lot. So it’s ok if you love the farmer, but from far away. It’s ok to miss him and grieve not having him around.

    What I miss the most when I’m single is just having companionship, someone breathing the same air as I am and being around.

    Reach out to your friends you would be surprised how many of them care.

  12. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I left a situation like yours 6 years ago. I thought the world was going to end. Instead I met a wonderfull partner and could not be more happy. It took me 10 years to leave. I wanted to for a long time but did not have the strength. Alanon helped me leave. Go to some Alanon- meetings to gain insight and strength. Btw when I first attended Alanon I did not even know my spouse was an alcoholic.

  13. Gwenn
    Gwenn says:

    Get the hell out. I would definitely miss you if anything happened to you. Those kids come first, and violence is never healthy for kids. Take care Penelope!

  14. Shelley
    Shelley says:

    P. first big hug to you. You say you choose interesting over happiness. Physical violence isn’t interesting, it’s bad energy. Positive energy is interesting, and happy too.

    Your gift of gab, wanting to talk all night, is a wonderful thing. It is a gift. The problem is that it isn’t a gift to the farmer. You need to find someone that appreciates your gift. The reinforcement of someone loving your gift is soooo much better than being missed.

    I learned this from leaving my first marriage. Marriage #2 is with a man who loves the gifts I give him. And I love his. It is so much better than the bad energy. With the good energy of this relationship, we do great things together and it is beyond interesting.

    I so hope you seek a life of positive energy interesting. I so hope you quit this bad energy. It breaks my heart to know that you are surrounded with this right now. I will be sending you lots of positive energy to live your best life, for you and the boys. xoxo

  15. Karolina
    Karolina says:

    I don’t like the tone of my last post.

    Penelope. Be strong. You’re a wonderful writer and a powerful think tank. You’re capable of anything.

    Please take care of yourself.

  16. Angela Wilson
    Angela Wilson says:

    Oh, Penelope…
    He beat you and if he could not not hit you then he needs to go away. If he cannot stand you talking to him and you cannot stop then he needs to go away. Or you need to stay away until you can or maybe forever.
    Nobody should be getting hit in any of this.

  17. w.s.
    w.s. says:

    I actually totally understand what you are saying about wanting to be missed, and feeling paralyzed by the idea that it would be a relief to the farmer if you finally just left, and dreading that re-enactment from your childhood. The worst part is the the dread, the thinking about it, about how you think it’s going to make you feel. You’re not going to be able to create the situation you need to feel good about leaving the farmer, it’s just impossible, and you’re obviously getting your ass kicked while trying.
    Once you go, you will continue on just the way BC does, the way everything does. Everything continues on. You will survive, and who knows, maybe you’ll be happier not fighting all the time and making your kids wonder what happened to their strong wonderful mother who used to look out for herself and for them.

  18. Becky
    Becky says:

    Penelope, something I appreciate about you is that you tell the truth as you see it. You are the person standing in the middle of the room saying what everybody else is deliberately not seeing, because they have some reason to deny the truth.

    Now you are on the other side of that transaction; your readers are telling you some truths that you will want to deny. You have done us a favor over the years by telling us what you see; now please listen to what we are telling you.

    It’s good that you are at a hotel. Well done. Next step: find some housing that is more permanent than a hotel. Deal solely with logistics for now. There will be time to deal with the emotions and try to understand this later, when you are someplace safe that you can be for a while.

    If you can’t deal with logistics, contact a domestic violence organization or the Brazen Careerist EAP, and tell them you need help with the logistics of finding housing. Tell them you have Asperger’s so they understand why you need this kind of help. If the first place you call can’t get it for you, call someone else. Go down the list of commenters offering help if you need to.

    If you want to grow and become a better person, you will need to get into a different environment. The environment on the farm will continue to get worse. You have already seen this; going back to your parents not only didn’t make things better for you — it didn’t make you better. As you are observing, this situation is the same. What you were looking for by moving there is not there to find.

    You can do this. You’re strong enough. Your kids need you to find a new place to live. Your readers need you to find a new place to live. You have already taken some steps in a good direction by going to the hotel. Keep taking them, one at a time.

  19. Jon
    Jon says:

    A couple of things – €“ when your in the middle of things you just can't seem to see what is so obvious from the outside. This is where so many of your great attributes and abilities are actually holding you back that work in so many routes. In sports and work – €“ you do the extra lap, pick up extra skills – €“ you become unbeatable because you never quit and won't give up. That ability to win against all odds enables the forging ahead of innovation and amazing feats of pushing the limits of human abilities and the beauty of what an individual can overcome. This is not a race – €“ nor is it winnable – €“ nor should your efforts be directed towards this situation to "fix it" or make it right. The family you come from or are currently in isn't as important as the family you will become. To gain the strength to move on – €“ if you children were in the same situation and being hurt and treated as you are – €“ what would you say? No way in hell does anyone deserve that and you wouldn't allow them to go through it – €“ nor will you. You want to be missed and loved – €“ but you already have that and their hearts are in the hotel room with you tonight.

    When your kids look back on this someday – €“ they won't remember the extra lap, or working late or any of the other markers and milestones that litter the sports pages and resumes. They will remember that their mother was so strong and loved them so much that she broke the cycle to give them the life that both they deserved and she deserved. That no individual or family deserves to EVER be treated like this and its unacceptable. Tonight watch them sleep, put your hand on their chest and feel their little hearts beating, kiss them on the head and go to sleep.

    Tomorrow you get the opportunity to show your kids how to win and move forward in the biggest race they will ever face – €“ it's called life. It will be your greatest achievement and gift that will define and shape your not only you and your childrens – €“ but their children as well for generations to come. Its like in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" – €“ you don't even realize how many lives you can touch.

    You can do it – €“ all the roads you have traveled will bring you to the moment and crossroads tomorrow with your kids. You get to write the ending to this story – €“ truly the greatest blog you will ever have!

  20. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth says:

    Okay, anyone who actually lives in Wisconsin should know that if she feels stuck in the situation it’s because she doesn’t make the money that she says she makes. Living out here is tough and not really as glamorous as she has tried to make it seem. Anyone with sense (which sorry but Pen, you don’t really have) wouldn’t have moved to a farm out in Wisconsin. The type of living that they make out here is sweat equity. There are no secrets that can be revealed in a weekly blog for “fast money”. Penelope, I am not going to fault you or the Farmer. You are two different people who can not work together because your whole foundation is opposite. The farmer sweats day to day off the land making enough to just survive. You come from a point of view that a person should be able to capitalize on peoples mistakes or non-mistakes (all your advise is about dealing with other people’s personalities). And so I go back to my initial statement: you are using the farmer because you need to be taken care of (money) and as soon as you realize this you will have the power to move on. Yes I know that money is a huge issue but you have to realize that no matter what, you will be okay.

  21. zan
    zan says:

    a brilliant 63-year-old comedy writer wrote about life in a very smart, enjoyable, no-holds-barred blog called “say it ain’t so, joe!” his december 23rd post is titled, “if this were your last day alive, what would you do?” and included lists of “things i regret” and “things i am proud of” — a list that included his two sons. here it is, if you’re interested: http://qualityshows.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/if-this-were-y0ur-last-day-alive-what-would-you-do/#comments

    he was found dead by his own hand in an LA hotel room three days after he wrote that post.

    i don’t think i need to explain my reason for telling you about joe.

    i haven’t read all of the responses to your post, but they’re probably all right and true, every one of them, from the guy who said you had a nice ass, to the woman who called the cops on your husband.

    thing is, you KNOW what you need to do, you WANT to do it, and this blog is the easiest way for you to get agreement on what you must do.

    okay, honey, you have it: scoop up your little guys and fly to that which you know works for you. go to a place where find a way to love yourself as much as you love your boys, and do it before it’s too late.

    • zan
      zan says:

      …i meant, go to a place where you can find a way to love yourself as much as you love your boys…

      …but you knew that. still, it bears repeating.

  22. inomhe
    inomhe says:

    I left a violent man a few years ago. I am only now finding my way out of the twisted and unhealthy mental space I’d begun to inhabit. A lot of what you say sounds very familiar.

    But I think, Penelope, if I were in that relationship now, you would have a lot of power to do good in my life. I think that if through reading your blog I watched you struggle as you have struggled, and then if I could watch you leave the farmer, it would give me a huge boost in finding the strength to make my own decision to leave my ex.

    Who knows how many abused women are reading your blog right now. What’s better than being missed is saving lives, which is what you would be doing if you let us watch you find the strength to leave a bad situation.

    So many of us care about you and respect you. And yes, we miss you when you don’t write. You are important to so many people through this blog, and, speaking for myself, you have helped me in many ways. I think you can feel good about helping more people in really important ways by modeling the kind of difficult, painful, smart choices that someone suffering physical abuse needs to make. You’re in a unique position, with your willingness to be open and with the popularity of this blog. You can do so much good right now, by letting us watch you leave him, and telling us about it.

    You are a strong person. Once you leave, you might be sad, but you’ll make it through to the other side, start a new life again, and things will eventually get better for you. And you will have saved a lot of women from a lot more bruises, and maybe saved some lives.

    Thank you.

  23. Valter
    Valter says:

    I smell “drama queen” here. :-?
    You’re not dying; if you were, you’d be in a hospital.

    Sorry Pen, I care about you, but – at the same time – something doesn’t quite fit.
    What I’ll write it’s not meant as a criticism, but as questions for you to ponder.
    I think you really need to question yourself and your motives – blaming the Farmer or finding some “quick fix” is not going to solve your issues underneath.

    The naked picture, the fact that you stay in the farm, the way you talk about this… it seems you strongly need to get attention.
    – Is this a way of getting “love”?
    – Is nagging the farmer a way to get his attention – and thus his love?
    – Maybe even the beatings are, for you, better than indifference?

    Why aren’t you leaving the farm? You and the Farmer aren’t a good fit, that’s obvious. And this is not even about the beatings (even if violence is something serious): both of you look unhappy together.
    – Are you afraid of loneliness?
    – Are you afrad of “failure”? Is another broken marriage kind of an embarassing failure to you?
    – Are you afraid you won’t ever find someone able to love you? Hence, stay in the farm is the lesser of evil?

    Maybe this has to do with your family trauma/rejection more than it seems. Maybe with the Farmer you are re-enacting the same old wound: he’s pushing you away, and you try and try again to be accepted and loved by him. You hope you will change “enough” to make him love you. Except, it doesn’t happen, like it didn’t happen with your family.
    You can’t change the past, and reliving it is no way to change it; it’s just messing with your wound again and again.
    – Why are you nagging the Farmer? (to the point to make him violent)
    – Is your constant need to talk a way to communicate, or to “vent” some overwhelming inner pressure?
    – Is your talking a way to feel – again – loved? (“If he listens to me, I’ll feel appreciated / accepted / loved”)
    – Can you come to term with the possibility that the Farmer won’t ever love you anymore? How does it make you feel? What next?
    – Can you accept the fact that some people won’t ever love you? And that not because you aren’t worthy of love, but because some people aren’t a good fit.

    Above all, I think you really need the help of a good therapist. Without a good awareness of your issues, even leaving the Farmer is no real solution; you would recreate a similar situation sooner or later. There seem so much going on inside you, and it’s not going to fix it by itself.
    The problem is not him, it’s you; not in the sense you are to blame, but in the sense of responsibility: you’re creating the situation, it’s you who can going out of it.

    In the meantime, I think staying away from the farm is the best option. Not only to stop the violence, but because in the farm there’s lots of friction and conflicts, so you’d be even more confused. And you need – instead – some peace and calm to make your thinking clear.

    Lastly, you have to face the possibility that your marriage – and the life in the farm – has come to an end. No need to hurry out, but think about it. Don’t look at it as a failure, but as a part of your life with good times and good learning.
    I know you were really betting on it; but denial won’t help anybody.

    Oh, one more thing: you’re not a bad person. I think you’re a good person, with lots of good qualities. But you also have some serious issues, that wrecks your relationships; but the issues are not you, they are something you can get rid off.
    You’re like a beautiful painting with a stained glass; you need some good “cleaning”, but the painting behind the spots is worth it. :-)

    Take care, and consider yourself hugged. XXXX

    “Truth will set you free.”

    • stopthebullshit
      stopthebullshit says:

      You are a good person to have written this response…Thank You Very Much! By the looks of all of the comments many people care for Penelope and The Farmer…and some see through the carefully crafted Show and Drama to gain support for the ultimate Heroine “Penelope”
      Penelope…see a Psychologist not a therapist(they are bullshit)….The Farmer has shown his love an devotion to Penelope for a long time(read the blog) and it seems that Penelope may be pushing away the best love of her life.

  24. Pete Vazquez
    Pete Vazquez says:

    Wow, I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the picture (and the context therein), or the story. Thank you for being so open, but I do want to turn away…then again, I want to crack a bat over the Farmer’s head…anyhow, get away, get time to think, and you’ll find the answer is..to move away.

  25. CL
    CL says:

    You promised that you would leave for 30 days. Give yourself that much time away from the farm and the Farmer.

    I’m not sure about Jo-Jo’s idea of calling the local police, but the police are getting involved, just as they did during your childhood. Do you want your kids to grow up and think that it’s normal to have the police coming by the house when there are domestic disturbances?

    • Deanna
      Deanna says:

      It is not a bad thing for the police to be involved in domestic disturbances. It is a bad thing that domestic disturbances are going on AT ALL.

      Children are not scarred because police come by. Children are harmed when people do nothing.

  26. Momma Kack
    Momma Kack says:

    I wish you and I were still in touch so we could talk. You need serious help. You push away anyone that ever starts to care about you. Your neighbors, the boys in the goat business, Kelli, Kerri. Everyone who really wanted to be your friend, some how we are no longer included. I miss the boys and talking with you. Call sometime :)

    • Momma Kack
      Momma Kack says:

      I will try. My 18 year old son came home late last night worked up over 2 police cars heading up our dead end road. Your right people, it is a worry for all! We have lived next to the farmer for 10 plus years. He is a good guy! Not sure if it is the mix of the two, but they always say it takes 2 to fight!

  27. ADoodle
    ADoodle says:

    From everything you’ve written it sounds like you’ve been in therapy for a good chunk of your life (since you were 5, you wrote). So mostly I’m just sad that it hasn’t helped you enough to break free of the things holding you back. But if you really want off the drama/abuse train, I believe you’ll find a way. And we’ll still read your blog when it becomes drama-free bruise-free butt-free, I promise.

  28. Nathan
    Nathan says:

    My advice is to the Farmer… If Penelope is unable to leave then you need to get out now, before you do something even more regrettable than what this post describes. I’m not judging either of you. A bad situation is a bad situation and this one just may have gone too far.

  29. S.K.
    S.K. says:

    You’ve made a lot of major life decisions like homeschooling based on the research, so have you looked at the numbers for people in your situation? Here’s a couple to get you started:


    The level of injury resulting from domestic violence is severe: of 218 women presenting at a metropolitan emergency department with injuries due to domestic violence, 28% required admission to the hospital, 13% required major treatment. 40% had previously required medical care for abuse.

    42% of murdered women are killed by their intimate male partners. 4,000 women are killed each year because of domestic violence.

    Domestic violence is repetitive in nature: about I in 5 women victimized by their spouse or ex-spouse reported that they had been a victim of a series of at least 3 assaults in the last 6 months.

    An estimated 70% of men who abuse their female partners also abuse their children. In homes where spousal abuse occurs, children are abused at a rate 1500% higher than the national average.


    Children who are exposed to relationship violence are frequently traumatized themselves. At minimum, exposure to this kind of violence is itself a form of psychological maltreatment. For example, some have suggested that a great preponderance of PTSD or PTSD symptoms are exhibited by children who are exposed to violence in their own home (Lehmann, 1997; Terr, 1991). Even more serious is the suggestion that when boys are exposed to relationship violence as children they are more likely to abuse their partners as adults (Hotaling & Sugarman, 1986; Kalmuss, 1984; Sudermann & Jaffe, 1999).

    If you can’t rationalize it emotionally, I hope you’ll consider the data: leave now, before it gets worse. Please.

  30. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    Scarlett Johansson Leaked Pics Prompt Question: Why Do So Many Women Take Strange Candid Shots of Themselves?

    What I Learned From The Naked Career Advisor. Career Help in the Nude? Nice Try.

    Unfortunately, leaked nude Scarlett Johansson photo week continues in the news. As such, I'd like to ponder another question raised by this whole mess. Why do so many women take strange candid photographs of themselves?

    I mean, the leaked pics of Scarlett Johansson appear to be something she just took with her cell phone on her own. They don't really appear to be the sort of thing that she was prepping to send to a boyfriend/girlfriend or such. I don't know that for sure, but these look like random candid shots she just took for herself. Admittedly one might ask why she was naked if so, but we won't get too far into that since we don't have Scarlett Johansson's mind here to examine.

    The reason I say that these look like the sort of photos she took for herself is the fact that this isn't the first time we've run into this phenomenon. By looking through the social websites of shared photos from someone else's web site, we find that a number of the women over the years have a habit of taking photographs of themselves for no particular reason.

    At least, as far as I can tell these pictures have no purpose. Oftentimes these pictures are not of a place and/or time that the woman taking the picture wants to remember. Not a vacation, not an event of note, nothing. They do not appear to particularly be portraits and the often do not appear particularly carefully photographed. They just appear to be random candid photos, like these women want to see what they looked like wandering around during the day and just didn't bother to delete the pics.

    I have very few photographs of myself and those that exist were usually taken by someone else. I do not recall ever having held a camera and taken a picture of myself for no reason.

    Regardless, since I've only encountered women engaging in this behavior we'll stick with that. And so, why the hell do these women do this? I asked my wife and she replied that it was just something that women do. Is that accurate? Is that even an answer?

    (Sounds suspiciously like "It's a Jersey thing" to me.) Do all women really do this? If so, why? Apparently even Scarlett Johansson does this.

    Frankly, I'm puzzled. Anyone have any insight on this? I'd like more of an explanation than what I have received. I doubt I'll get a satisfactory explanation, but I'd certainly like one.

    Career Advice Help in the Nude? Nice Try.

    There’s a woman who is conducting so-called "Career Advice" or "World's Most Influential Guidance Counselor" blog sessions in the nude and no one is asking the most important question. Why? And I don’t mean the “Why?” that is getting the answer “Because it helps people open up and talk more openly about their feelings.”

    I mean, “Why does she feel the need to bare all while she writes to professionals and call it Career Advice or Guidance Counseling?”

    This reminds me of the woman named Sarah White who is conducting so-called therapy sessions in the nude. How does body language factor in? Crossed legs? Open? Any non-verbal communications expert will tell you that crossing is a no-no. So, um….

    Respectfully submitted,


    • MichaelG
      MichaelG says:

      I’m guessing the picture is a combination of two thoughts:

      – I’ll take a picture of my bruise. No, that’s too pathetic. I have to make it sexy, so that I’m posting it with a smile.

      – I have a picture of myself bruised. Now, how to crop it so that it’s artistic and interesting?

  31. webermom
    webermom says:

    As a child of abuse, I know how terribly hard it is to even think of leaving an abusive relationship. Even if you believe that you somehow deserve this treatment, I’m sure your heart knows that your children do not. You children do not deserve to live in a house with a violent man. They deserve the security of knowing their mom is safe. They deserve the love and emotional well-being that you didn’t have as a child. Don’t let anyone take that away from your kids. If not for you, leave for them.

  32. Deanna
    Deanna says:

    Penelope, the thought has occurred to me while everyone gives you the advice to leave for the sake of the boys that you may actually believe you are staying for the sake of the boys. I sense this may be at the crux of the tug of war in your soul over this. You have mentioned many times how much they enjoy the farm life, and how they have thrived, and learned many new things they would not have learned otherwise. Although the farmer has this horrible dark side, there are aspects of him, namely his farming knowledge and willingness to be involved in teaching them, that have been beneficial. I sense that perhaps you are weighing in your mind what is the lesser of two evils. You can stay and endure the abuse while giving your boys the continued exposure to farm life and positive aspects of the farmer. Or, you can leave and [temporarily I might add] break their hearts in losing the farm life and all it entails but also permanently remove their exposure to an abusive male role model.

    Yes, he is teaching them all about pigs and crops but what else is he teaching them?

    I believe in your heart you know the right answer to this quandary. The answer to most of our dilemmas in life is simply a difficult decision waiting to be made.

    This is far beyond being just about vulnerability or a lack thereof, or money or even about you and the farmer. I truly believe you don’t want to break the boys’ hearts. Many speak here in the comments about the children watching the abuse that goes on and beg you to leave for their sake. My guess is they have heard plenty of fighting however my hunch is also that they were not present in the bedroom when this occurred and you believe they may be shielded from what is the worst of this, so all things considered it may be best to stay for their sake, so they can be on the farm.

    Penelope, please consider more than the temporal. There are other places that can be very positive, healthy, learning and growing experiences for the boys.

    I’m praying for you. For peace, for courage, for wisdom.

    With much love

  33. MPK
    MPK says:

    Dear Penelope, I’m sorry you’re hurt. Change is never easy to start, but once you’ve started the process, you’re likely to appreciate its effects. In this, your, case there are some things you should start to accept:
    – you need to take action or you need help doing so. You should probably get a coach, maybe it’s called a life-coach, or a mentor or a caregiver, since your husband can not be that person. You probably should always have someone steady to turn to, maybe not even someone with expertise but someone who will be there for you no matter what you say. I’d you can’t find someone right now to love you unconditionally – and now just doesn’t seem like the right time to get into a new relationship – you should hire that person. If you can’t send your children to school, hire a homeschooling teacher for you. You already have a job and it is too difficult to combine it with being a mother, a wife and your particular self. You already need more care for yourself than a regular person without any special challenges, your children need to be taken care of too. (so: get someone for you, get the children into a school or get them someone other than you to school them, at least for now);
    – accept that getting help probably means you’ll always need help for certain things. You did a lot of great things to get yourself into a more or less functional life before, you can’t possibly be expected to do that all over again for yourself by yourselves AND for your boys who need more than regular care (you can’t do everything yourself);
    – though violence is never right, it apparently lies in human nature to turn to it. I’m not saying everyone does that, just that it happens so much, it must mean that most people in some way get their frustrations out through violence. Though you probably already knew that one day you’d get physically hurt again, it’s not your fault. Let authorities deal with the violence or leave it at that the farmer is already outed as a person who turns to violence when he can’t deal with emotions. You have guts to write and show and tell, now just don’t stay stuck in that phase. Move on to the next. Quitting is not failure, it’s a step towards having succeeded in finding the courage to change. Change the situation first, then maybe work on changing yourself, but as you say you are diagnosed with Asperger’s you can’t change all your ways. You can do this one thing for your your children: do what your parents didn’t, so they won’t have to start writing columns or blogs about it later. Start something more positive for them. Maybe they can write to you about their homeschooling. Maybe they or you can blog about that or some other subject one day. (who knows how talented they might be at that).
    – I wonder how your blog posting works: is there no one telling you anything about what (the photo) or how not (the photo) to publish? For injuries: a tape measure or an object which anyone can guess how big it is (a pen, a hand, a toothpick) and a description of the body part and then just a photo of the bruise would do. I understand how you came to post this one, I just feel that you should have had someone (and not your child, I hope you’ve kept some of this private) help you.

    Start by turning to someone who doesn’t need anything from you, a friend who has been there for you before. And let go.

  34. unicabaker
    unicabaker says:

    I have just recently begun to read your blog,therefore have no history with what has gone on with you and “farmer”.
    I was sexually abused by my father, then raped at 23 by two men at gunpoint. I then spent many years in and out of abusive relationships. I understand your pain, I understand how difficult it is to move on. I even understand that your pain is so deep you would post that picture of yourself!
    I also know that when the pain is enough you will take the action necessary to get yourself out, if you still can. I do not have children so thankfully I did not bring anyone along on that horrible, self-destructive ride. This is not meant to shame you, I repeat I understand the pain. I believe your post was a plea for help and I’m glad someone called the cops.

    I was a smart, successful business woman, big house, all the toys…no one knew what went on behind closed doors. I do not believe that physical, mental, emotional abuse is your fault. I do believe that you engage in some way.
    It took me years of therapy to break the cycle. I broke the cycle! You can break the cycle! You are worth it!

  35. gwen
    gwen says:

    Hi There,
    I have read your posts for a long time and this one really made me sad and a little scared for you…. I am a marriage and family therapist, I have an adult son with aspergers syndrome and treat many others who struggle with it. It’s very hard for me to tell how much of this vulnerability for abuse is aspergers related and how much is something else, but I really want to encourage you to get some help for yourself. you need someone you trust to help you navigate through relationships and fill in the pieces that you can’t fill in due to the way you thing about and see things. It’s not your fault that you are in this situation, but it is your responsibility to find the help to get you out.. mostly because you have children… They will be traumatized seeing you being abused and that itself IS considered emotional abuse. You deserve to feel safe in your home, with your partner…. what is the point otherwise. I know you are afraid of being alone, or not finding love maybe, but this isn’t love…. it’s unhealthy dependence. Maybe Alanon meetings would help you if you can’t find a therapist. Have you ever had a therapist who was very familiar with asperger syndrome?

    regarding the relationship .. obviously there is some need being met there than overrides your need to be safe and valued. Do you know what that is?

    My heart goes out to you… I can tell how much you are suffering. Will you get some help?

  36. David
    David says:

    hummmm…first Penelope…when you aren’t writing you are missed… X 62,000 X some factor of sharing which adds up to…come on girl…a lot of people are listening and want to read more – .when you are not writing, you are missed out here.

    and…well…three things

    1) clearly, Penelope you are a challenge for this world and those that live in it, including yourself

    2) you have two boys that are your number 2 and 3 priority… so do the right thing by them….for number 1 too…you. But remember, you aren’t quitting a job here. This is a difference game, different blog post, and “quitting” isn’t the right word here. It’s “leave”.

    3) the farmer, stop…he needs to read #1 and if the challenge is too great….then read #2…and help Penelope do the right thing. And again, I’m not talking about quitting.

    Don’t take this the wrong way… I do care… but I’d rather not see that photo and read about “quitting”.

    Blessings on you and your New Year!

  37. Kathryn C
    Kathryn C says:

    You are so much better than the Farmer. I know if you were sitting in front of me I could convince you of that. Call me if come to LA. I’m serious.

  38. maria
    maria says:

    A good mother is the one who protects her kids from abusive environments ,not a mother who keeps her kids in the house and homeschools them .You are becoming your abusive parents and it’s a sad vicious circle

  39. downfromtheledge
    downfromtheledge says:

    My first thought: what if everyone who’s been put in this situation posted pictures for all the world to see? And the answer is: the woman would still always be to blame, and instead of being disgusted by the man, people would sympathize with how hard she must have been on him to get pushed that far.

    My second thought: isn’t sad to see how many people unabashedly berate the victim in 2011? It's not enough that you already blame yourself, or that you understand how your past has led you to exactly where you are. My theory is that the people who are self-reflective enough to examine their weaknesses are at least evolved enough to take responsibility for their role in things, unlike the holier than thou.

    Whatever we believe we’re worth, deep down at our core, is what will be reflected back to us in the way people treat us. I have yet to figure out how to acquire self-worth, so I just don’t get into relationships (probably also because I don’t believe I’m worthy of one … see how this works?)

    Not many people know the gaping hole inside of feeling all alone in the world to deal with this, when all the options suck. None of us can escape the responsibility of making these decisions on our own.

    Wanting to be missed; I can relate to that. Before I was even out the door I found personals ads and “adultfriendfinder” postings from my partner of 7 years, and he was out at the bar the very weekend I left. It was like I never mattered at all. That was 8 years ago and I’m still screwed up from how shitty that relationship made me feel about myself. Even though HE abused ME, it was all still somehow my fault. I wanted him to understand the damage he did to me. He never will.

    It's kind of sickening that, no matter how bad it gets, the fantasy prevails that the person will somehow change and rescue us from how horrible we feel, or be capable of meeting our needs. In reality, we only prolong the process of forcing ourselves to move on.

  40. DBT
    DBT says:

    Penelope, I first heard of DBT when you wrote about it for yourself. I have looked into it just a little bit for myself via various websites, but find that just a couple of pointers towards radical acceptance can do wonders in helping me to navigate a situation.
    You need to accept that things will not change and you will not receive the love that you need and want in this situation. There is no need to blame yourself for being in this situation. Gwen, above, is correct in that Aspies are vulnerable, but you do need to protect both of your sons.
    As others have stated, you are phenomenal at reading others’ situations. Just not your own. If you need more data than previous posters’ DV stats, I remember reading about how exposure to violence changes the wiring of a child’s brain. And it is not for the better.
    I am so very, very sad for you all right now. Please just revisit DBT, either on your own or through the phone consults of the therapist you had mentioned.
    Please try to see things as they are and not as you want them to be or believe that they should or could be.
    Hoping for the very best for you and the boys.

  41. Agnese
    Agnese says:


    Take care of yourself and your sons. You’re figure out how, and why, if only you let yourself. While you do this, I suggest (like a number of other commentators) that you put some physical and mental distance between you and the Farmer.

    I have no personal experience of domestic violence, but what I’ve learned from reading about the struggles of others is that logic stops being logical and optimistic perceptions of what you can do to change things within the relationship are most often not based in reality.

    Best wishes,

  42. MichaelG
    MichaelG says:

    This does not seem like a match made in Heaven — it never did.

    I see him as a loner who wanted some excitement in his life and got more than he could handle.

    I see you as a dreamer who thought she could change her whole life and find some peace and stability by living on a farm. But it’s not for you.

    You need work challenges to feel you are accomplishing anything in life. By doing nothing but be wife and mother, you are relying totally on your social skills, which are your weakest area.

    You are still young enough to start over, and the two of you don’t really have much of a relationship to save.

    I know you hate being rejected and feeling like you failed at this. But it’s time to cut your losses and move on.

    The farmer should also know this is over and just end it. You make it sound like he’s asked you to leave many times. Maybe he really means it this time?

  43. Julz
    Julz says:

    For someone who is obviously very smart, intelligent, capable and independent I don’t get why you are playing the victim here, it doesnt even seem like a loving relationship that sometimes goes a bit violent, it just seems that you are unhappy and making really weird and wrong decisions.

    If you go back you are just being too weird.

    Time to step up and be the strong woman you know you are, start respecting your body and your mental health and the environment of your children.

    You have many blessings to count, start focusing on the good you have, on what makes you happy and what you want your life to be like.

    Time for change… and perfect timing, as the new year is right around the corner…

    Make 2012 a year you are proud of.

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