Intimate Conversation with Ivette Attaud
Ivette Attaud, a Harlem, New York native and former Fort Bragg Army wife, has been a survivor of domestic violence and abuse for over twenty years. Ivette served on the Battered Women’s Justice Committee of Voices of Women Organizing Project in New York as well as contributed research regarding law guardians to their report Justice Denied: How Family Courts in NYC Endanger Battered Women and Children. She received a Certificate of Completion in Victim Assistance Training from the New York State Office For Victims of Crime; has received numerous awards for speaking at high schools and colleges; created and facilitated a domestic violence and abuse training for Chaplains called Healing The Body Before The Spirit and talks to teens in various high schools about dating violence and their internet footprint.
Ivette Attaud, publisher, a gifted author, highly sought-after motivational speaker and domestic violence expert, developed Healing The Body Before The Spirit, a domestic abuse educational workshop for the faith-based community. She has written numerous articles, including a recently-published article entitled Surviving the Loss of a Child for Spotlight On Recovery Magazine. More information can be found online at: http://www.mylifemysoul.com/.
Domestic violence affects two to four million people alone in the United States including teenagers and 54% of parents admit they haven’t spoken to their teen about dating violence or healthy relationships.
My Life My Soul, Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship is an honest and graphic true story of Ivette Attaud’s dating relationship as a teen and how it quickly manifested into a destructive, violent and psychologically abusive marriage. Ivette puts a face on domestic violence as she describes how she was able to break the emotional and psychological chains of her abuser.
Ivette recounts vivid memories of growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness; her experience with dating violence; her battle with depression; a suicide attempt; the loss of her infant twin daughter to a domestic violence assault and re-victimization by the New York City family court system, including actual documents! In the first part of this three-part series, My Life My Soul, Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship: Part 1 – Surviving, Ivette lays bare the life-long difficulties those in abusive relationships face.
BPM: Ivette, when did you begin writing? When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was born and raised in Harlem. I started keeping a journal about 10 years ago to release some of the emotional pain and trauma I had been dealing with since I left my abuser and to leave something for my children so they could gain some insight as to what I went through and maybe help them deal with their issues when they became adults. I didn't consider myself as just a writer; I considered myself a person with an important story to tell.
BPM: Do you see writing as a career now?
Yes, I do. I am a true entrepreneur at heart! I launched My Life My Soul, The Unspoken Journey of Life After Domestic Abuse to raise awareness about domestic violence and abuse and also launched MLMS Publishing to release my first book.
BPM: What inspired you to write your first book, My Life, My Soul? How did you come up with the title? Who designed the book cover?
I wrote this book as a way to cope with the loneliness and isolation that is felt by survivors of an abusive relationship, and to deal with the grief of losing my child as a result of the abuse. I experienced writer's block frequently, as this is a difficult topic to write about. Over 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the abuse, and one of the primary symptoms is re-living the trauma. It took me 10 years to write this because I needed to deal with the book setting off my triggers.
When I was invited to speak in public about my experience and scores of people approached me with positive feedback and shared their experiences with me, I believed that my book could help a lot of people. When I saw the statistics on teen dating violence, I included my experience with that as well.
I designed the cover myself to show that real freedom does exist for the survivor when they break the emotional and psychological chains of their abuser. My Life, My Soul - Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship: The title is a reflection of the physical violence and psychological abuse that threatened my life and the spiritual abuse that jeopardized my soul; and that leaving an abusive relationship is about breaking the chains that bind you.
BPM: Do you attempt to avoid the temptation of interjecting your own morals, value system or ministry in your writing?
Including my belief system in the book was important because the reader will not only understand how my belief system contributed to my being in an abusive relationship, but will see how I went about changing my belief system in order to break the chains of abuse and improve the quality of life for me and my children.
BPM: What insight does the book give teen readers on relationships?
The whole book is based on my experiences. I didn't want my book to be a glossed-over version of an abusive relationship. I wanted it to be as real to the reader as it was to me, so there is graphic language in the book. Not because that is my writing style, but because that is the true nature of domestic violence.
The book gives the reader insight on what a person in an abusive relationship goes through. It also helps the reader understand the isolation that survivors of relationship abuse go through. And, more importantly, that you can live a happy and fulfilling life after an abusive relationship.
BPM: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
As a result of the abuse, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of the symptoms of PTSD is re-living the experience. Writing this book meant that I re-lived the experience over and over again, including when I lost my daughter. Although writing this book will help a lot of people, it set off my triggers, which I have learned to manage. That is why it took me so long to complete it. But, the more I wrote, the easier it got to deal with and that meant I was on my healing journey.
BPM: Did you learn anything from writing My Life, My Soul and what was it?
We go through things in life for a reason. I was able to take a negative and turn it into a positive so I would be in a better position to heal and help others. I learned a lot about myself and what constituted an unhealthy relationship. I was also able to see how I’ve grown psychologically and emotionally from my teenage years, all the way to adulthood. Understanding where you’ve come from is crucial to knowing where you’re going. I also learned that I have a very powerful gift for helping people past obstacles in life that may be holding them back from achieving their goals. So, I am also a Personal Life Coach.
BPM: Is there anything that makes your book different from others in the same genre?
I write in a style that makes the reader feel as if I’m talking directly to them. While I was going through my experience, I told a lot of people about the abuse, including the military police, doctors, even the NYC family court system, and no one believed that an enlisted service member could be capable of abuse. As a result, my children and I fell through the cracks and no one did anything to protect us. Not only do I include actual court documents and excerpts in my book, but I mention the names of the people who pushed my children and I through the cracks, including judges. From what I’ve read over the years, there are a lot of people out there who have experienced the same thing.
BPM: What messages in your book, My Life, My Soul, do you want readers to grasp?
The book contains several messages: it inspires and gives hope to the survivor who is currently in or who has left an abusive relationship so they know they’re not alone; it’s an example for the families and friends of the survivor to know what NOT to do and say; it’s for parents and teens who want to know about the red flags of an abusive relationship and it’s for the professional who works with those who have experienced domestic violence and/or abuse. The reader has a birds-eye view of what the daily reality is like for someone going through an abusive relationship, whether you are a teen or an adult. I remember what my thought process was like as a teenager. I believe there is always something to learn from someone else’s experience.
BPM: In writing your book, how much legal research was required, if any?
I still have the court documents I received when my abuser took me to court. When I decided to publish this book, I went to family court to review my family court file and see if there were any additional documents in it. To my surprise, there were court documents in my file that I knew nothing about. I decided to include those documents in my book.
BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message enclosed?
There are approximately 32 million American men, women and children that have experienced some form of family violence. I wanted the reader to understand and know:
• The Military Justice System to know what the daily reality of someone being abused by an active duty service member is like;
• the Legal System to understand that there is more to addressing the issue of domestic violence and abuse than “whoever gets to court first and has the most money wins,”
• the Mental Health System to see how their decisions and diagnoses, without the appropriate follow-up, severely impacts the lives of the victim and his or her children long after the case is closed;
• the Medical Community to see that the number of bruises and broken bones that pass through their emergency rooms are more than statistics;
• the Religious Community to realize that you have to heal the body before the spirit;
• people whose loved ones are in an abusive relationship to recognize the signs of the type of severe depression that leads to suicide and to understand that family support is crucial in the healing process;
• parents of teens who are dating to recognize the red flags of an abusive relationship; and
• anyone who currently is in an abusive relationship or has left an abusive relationship to know that you are not alone and you can and will break the emotional and psychological chains that bind you.
BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book?
Readers who have a friend or a loved one who is in an/was in abusive relationship, and they want to have a better understanding of what they've experienced should read the book. Survivors of domestic violence and abuse internalize a lot of their trauma, and we don't talk about it too much. My book details the thought process of someone in an abusive relationship.
BPM: Now, let’s talk about the publishing industry. How did you initially break into the publishing industry? What road did you travel?
I initially decided to use a subsidy publisher some months ago. But the publishing industry changes so quickly, and more self-publishing resources became available to me, that I decided to fund the publishing of the book myself. It is a common myth that if you use a subsidy publisher, and they offer you a marketing package, that they will market your book. Their goal is to make money from the author. Regardless of the publishing method used, it will always be the author's responsibility to market the book themselves. I decided to independently publish because I am a true entrepreneur at heart (it runs in my family), and I love the challenges of running my own business.
BPM: How do you feel about self-publishing? How do feel about selling digital books vs. selling in a brick and mortar store?
It depends on what the author defines as self-publishing. I prefer the term Independent Publisher. It could be a subsidy publisher, or completely funding the publishing of the book yourself. The traditional publishing industry is slowly changing their bias against self-publishers. The choice between selling digital books vs. selling in a brick and mortar store goes back to the first question - what your goal is for writing your book. Both still require a lot of hard work on the part of the author to get their book in either channel. My Life, My Soul will be available in print and as an e-book in order to make the book available to everyone.
I want to re-emphasize that understanding your goal for writing your book is important. If you want to independently publish your book, you need to understand how the industry operates. For example, if an author plans on publishing independently out of his or her own pocket, and is working hard to market and promote that book, just know that all your hard work may be in jeopardy. I have seen many self-publishers disillusioned by the publishing industry because they don't make much money from the sale of their books. That is because while selling online is an important part of marketing and promoting your book, if they've listed their book at online retailers, they will undercut the author's price by selling their books at a discount.
BPM: Awesome advice! Do you have any more advice for other writers? Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?
There is a story inside everyone and someone will definitely benefit from what you have to say. I would advise anyone wanting to publish a book to do ask themselves the following questions: Why am I writing it and what are my goals? What results do I want to see from publishing this book? Am I ready to take on the challenges of publishing it myself and not use a subsidy publisher? What do I expect from a subsidy publisher? Do I have the resources to market this book? Do I want to make $1-2 dollars in royalties for my book, or do I want to keep more money in my pocket?
BPM: A Legacy is something that is handed down from one period of time or culture to another. Finish this sentence- “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers and new authors... ”
To blaze new paths in your writing and publishing journey and to not be afraid of the challenges. I am happy to say that after 10 years of writing and two years of promotion, that My Life, My Soul – Surviving, Healing & Thriving After An Abusive Relationship – Part 1: Surviving, is now available to make a difference in someone's life!
My Life My Soul tells readers things that someone in an abusive relationship, whether it is your loved one or friend, won’t tell you. It contains my deepest thoughts and feelings from when I first entered an abusive relationship at 16 through to an abusive marriage as an adult. I have included actual court documents as proof of how my children and I fell through the cracks of the systems designed to protect those in abusive relationship. You can view the book trailer and purchase the book at http://www.mylifemysoul.com/
BPM: Share with us a quote or brief excerpt from one of the most powerful chapters.
Here is an excerpt from the published book, My Life, My Soul – Surviving, Healing & Thriving After An Abusive Relationship.
Part 1: Surviving
...I was terrified by the time I arrived in the delivery room. No one was there to hold my hand, or to tell me everything was going to be okay. Doctors and nurses ran around the delivery room and failed miserably at trying to calm me down. I was too busy screaming from the pain and crying for the doctors to stop my labor.
The doctor yelled at the nurses, “Find a vein and get an IV line going NOW!”
I felt a shot of pain in my arms from where the nurses were hitting me as they desperately tried to get a vein to pop up.
“Doctor, all her veins have collapsed!” I heard a nurse say.
Someone exclaimed, “I got one!”
Someone else yelled, “Get it, get it, get it!”
Then the doctor walked over to me.
“We’re going to have to deliver those babies now. They’re in distress and it’s too late to stop your labor.”
Through my tears, I yelled with all the strength I had.
“You can’t take them now! It’s not time!”
“We have to. If we don’t deliver them now, all of you are going to die,” the doctor said.
My thoughts ran back to earlier in the day when Victor strangled me and I couldn’t breathe. The stress of fighting, along with the lack of oxygen, put my babies in distress. The doctor left my side and went to the foot of the bed while the nurses secured my feet in the stirrups. Everything happened so fast and the labor pains were so intense; it felt as if someone stuck hot knives into my belly. Then my thoughts turned elsewhere. Was this God’s punishment? What did I do wrong to deserve this? I was raised to believe that God had two faces; one that was loving and forgiving and the other one was mean and punished those who disobeyed him. All I did was marry a man because I loved him! What was so wrong about that?
The doctor broke my train of thought as he examined me to see how much more I had dilated.
“Don’t push!” The doctor yelled at me while he continues his examination.
“I’m not pushing!” I yelled back.
I tried to close my legs a little but couldn’t because of the stirrups. I wanted to resist the urge to push but I could feel a baby trying to come out anyway. The doctor bent down in front of me to prepare to deliver the first baby. He turned his head to say something to the nurse when, all of a sudden, he screamed, “OH SHIT!”
When he stood up, he held my baby upside down by her feet and his hospital gown was completely splattered with blood. The baby had to have come out feet first because of how he grabbed it. When the doctor yelled, I lifted my head off the bed and strained to see her. She was so tiny and I didn’t even hear her cry. I just saw the baby’s back as the doctor handed it to the nurse, who quickly ran out of the delivery room with her. Right away, I felt dizzy.
“The other baby’s transverse!” I heard a nurse say.
When an unborn baby is in a transverse position, it lays across the mother’s pelvic bone instead of the normal birth position of head down. It was dangerous for me as well as for my baby, because there was a possibility that my uterus could have ruptured which could have lead to both of our deaths.
The nurse grabbed my belly tightly where the still unborn twin was, trying to keep the baby from moving any further. The pain was excruciating. As the doctor moved back to the side of my bed, he told me what he had to do.
“Ivette, I have to give you an emergency cesarean section. The anesthesiologist has been called and he’s on his way here.”
I didn’t want to die like this! What would happen to my children? With the remaining strength I had, I motioned for a nurse to come to me.
“I need you to call my Kingdom Hall and ask for the pastor. Tell him it’s an emergency and I need him here now!”
I looked at the clock on the wall and it was close to midnight. I had memorized the number so I gave it to her and she ran off. The other nurse was still holding my stomach and she was hurting me so bad that I tried to push her hand away.
“If we let this baby move, you’re both going to die! Ivette, Stop it!” the nurse screamed at me.
I yelled out again what my religion was and that I didn’t want a blood transfusion. When I saw the doctor again, I asked how my first baby was.
“So far, you had a girl and we’re not sure how she is right now. The ambulance took her to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center where they have a neonatal unit and we have another ambulance on standby waiting to take this baby.”
It seemed like an eternity before the pastor finally arrived in the delivery room. Through my tears, I told the pastor what happened.
“Please pray with me. I can’t do this alone,” I told him.
He held my hands tightly, closed his eyes and I closed mine.
“Lord, we humbly come to you in this time of need to watch over our Sister who needs you now more than ever. Whatever your Will is, Lord, will be. Lord, I ask you to watch over her babies, that they be healthy and safe. In Jesus’ name we ask you, Amen.”
I said “Amen.”
As soon as he finished praying, a peace came over me like I’ve never experienced before...
(continued in the book, My Life, My Soul)
BPM: What has been your most difficult hurdle to leap? Marketing, promotions or gaining media exposure, etc. How can EDC Creations and our readers help you?
The most difficult hurdle is in converting the level of interest in the book into actual sales. As an author and publisher, I wear many hats. Not only am I responsible for the health of my business, but I'm also responsible for making the strongest efforts possible in my marketing and media exposure to make sure my book gets into the hands of those that can really benefit from it.
BPM: Share with us your latest news. How may our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow me on Twitter - @ivetteattaud or on Facebook. They can also email me directly at email@example.com
Domestic violence is devastating. Understand how to better help a friend or loved one.
Purchase My Life, My Soul - Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship, Part 1: Surviving on www.mylifemysoul.com!
My Life, My Soul - Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship
Part 1 – Surviving by Ivette Attaud
US $15.95; Nonfiction; ISBN-13: 978-0615440613
Purchase books here: http://www.mylifemysoul.com/
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