Posts Tagged Susan Murphy Milano


“WHY DON’T THEY JUST LEAVE? (Asked the legislator, the police, the neighbor, the passive observer etc…)

The Sabel (Cabbage) Palmetto Tree of South Carolina – 


They are remarkably hardy, resistant to fire, floods, coastal conditions, cold, high winds and drought. Sabal palmettos are very cold-hardy and able to survive relatively short periods of temperatures as low as 7 °F –(13 °C)  and occasionally much lower. Maintenance of the Cabbage Palm tree is very easy and very adaptable. This palm is known to tolerate drought, standing water and brackish water. Even though this palm is drought-tolerant, it thrives on regular light watering and regular feeding. It is highly tolerant of salt winds, but not saltwater flooding.

Under such hardy palms swaying in the breeze, lives a state, the State of South Carolina under siege with the highest homicide rate against women in the country, for the third time in ten years!   Many of these victims have come through a personal siege of their own, of which intimate partner violence is a very real component.  They have had to be hardy, adaptable and tolerate extremes…just like the mighty Sabel palm. Who is there to offer a safety net?  Enter Elmire Raven, M.A. (pronounced El-meer), Executive Director of My Sister’s House in North Charleston, South Carolina!

The primary reasons given by victims for remaining or returning to their abusive relationships generally fall within a few categories.   According to Raven, a seasoned professional who has lived and worked in the trenches with the victims of intimate partner violence for 25 years, the heart of the matter can be distilled to the following justifications. (I commented regarding each category below.)   Keep in mind, that generalities can be dangerous, as every person; every case has its complexities. However, these truths continue to bind victims to their abusers just the same.

  • Love – is blind- When we’re in it, we see what we want to see…
  • Paternity – is a biological fact of life, but it has noting to do with morality;
  • Potential Homelessness – keeps us down and out and nowhere to rest our weary mind;
  • No Transportation- No wheels or anyone to provide those wheels forces us to remain a “prisoner of our current circumstances;”
  • No Financial Resources- If a woman has no money to sustain her plan of escape; it cannot proceed, as basic financial resources and a way to continue a cash flow is vital to independence.

Why is it that legislators, police, neighbors and others believe that it is a simple matter of “just leaving?”   The truth is, they do not understand the dynamics, the clever manipulations and keen observations of the abuser and the power they have over the victim; what information, threats they use to “keep the woman in line.” In the mind of the victim, the perpetrator’s threats are  worse than her current situation.  And so, frequently, she is resigned to “go along to get along,” taking the abuse, injuries and terror in stride, devoid of dignity, living a surreal numbing existence.

One tool in the “Domestic Violence toolbox” being circulated nationally in honor of the years of effort by the late Susan Murphy Milano, is the prevention tool known as the EAA -Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit which is a component of her revolutionary Document the Abuse program.

My Sister's House, Elmire Raven, Shattered Lives RadioAlthough South Carolina has consistently been in the “top ten” of intimate partner homicides, the tri-county area which My Sister’s House serves has recently seen a decrease in the numbers within their area. The most significant reason is the unity of organizations, the pooling of resources, and working together for the common goal, helping victims.  They have also taken on the added responsibility of providing temporary resources for survivors of human trafficking, a growing population with unique requirements, and different from those of domestic violence.

Shattered Lives Radio had the pleasure of examining the issues surrounding intimate partner violence in South Carolina and universally.

Join us for the interview with Elmire Raven. Below are selected written highlights of the show.

 Listen to Shattered Lives Radio

  • Introduction to our guest
  • The evolution of domestic violence –IPV programs in the South and what they offer now
  • Ranking of Number one in homicides against women- Why?
  • Guns, legislation and what a perpetrator is charged with….OR NOT!
  • The Key- Community support and involvement
  • Discussion of housing, transportation  and the trips to court
  • No tools in order to leave…..
  • The victim – Making a decision; What’s involved? 35% -5 to 7 times…..
  • Do they ever turn people away?
  • A discussion of “to report or not to report”
  • Opportunities for cutting edge collaborations with Human Trafficking and HIV initiatives:
  • Human Trafficking victims – A very complex issue!
  • Building a new facility in the future!
  • Donation & Contact Information:
  • Administrative Line: 843-747-4069;
  • 24 Hour Hotline:   843-744-3242  In -State
  • 1-800-273 –HOPE  Nationwide-24/7

Questions for the Listening Audience:

  • What’s the significance of these numbers in the discussion– 36, 85?
  • In Elmire’s opinion, what is the biggest influence on the number of homicides in South Carolina?
  • Criminal Domestic Violence Coordinating Council – What’s it all about?
  • Is the faith-based community part of  the answer?  Why-Why-not?
  • What are the components of their volunteer program?
  • What is the main reason why women return to their abusers?
  • How is enabling a factor and reasons for returning to the shelter?
  • How to we sort out “getting the perpetrator in trouble” versus stopping the abuse?
  • What is the average stay for residents at My Sister’s House?
  • Is there a central place in Southeastern South Carolina for those who are trafficked?
  • What can be done in rural areas?
  • What influences  came to play in Elmire’s success with My Sister’s House?
  • What was Elmire’s parting comment re debunking the greatest myth?

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.


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“HUG FEST” (Reflections of the 9th Annual CUE Center Conference for the Missing)

CUE Center National Conference


Photo by  Cynthia Hayden Guinn

People talk about the major milestones in life that leave lasting impressions – the birth of a child, marriage, the death of a loved one, transitions of achievement such as graduations, religious rites etc.   However, the average person will never know the extent of the life changing experience noted at the Community United Effort (CUE) Center for the Missing Conference until you are a participant and active observer.

The recent 9th Annual Conference held at the Courtyard Marriott Carolina Beach Hotel was a sight to behold on so many levels.  Ladyjustice was treated to this incredible event for a consecutive year along with 2-300 others…

Familiar faces, southern jargon, a tireless network of volunteers at the ready, a meeting of the minds for information exchange,  the crossing of hearts and many, many, many HUGS throughout the four days – essentially a non-stop HUG FEST!

Upon arrival, LJ was asked at the registration desk when she would be presenting….which was very flattering and a bit amusing, as almost without exception presenters “get only one chance at bat.” Changing of the guard and the experts is healthy and keeps things fresh…

The pressure and responsibility was off for this crime fighter….  A year had passed with a much larger “resume” of radio shows and catalog of diverse blogs… a greater expanse of social media exposure  and Voila…. more credibility.

On the surface, the CUE Center Conference possesses the usual ingredients – a registration process, various gear and books for purchase, exhibit tables, an agenda filled with activity, entertainment,  Southern style food, endless donated gift baskets ad raffle opportunities,  an impressive lineup of speakers and many dedicated volunteers to address your every need. BUT, BUT, BUT, the most amazing aspect for this writer was the opportunity to observe the new connections made between people, between agencies and organizations,  between states, between “newbies” and veterans of the conference… AND the appreciation for what the CUE Center consists of at its core.

It’s as if a few hundred light bulbs were perpetually popping all over the place to Ladyjustice’s delight! Not only that, but two very special events enhanced the overall experience.

As a memorial tribute to friend, colleague, mentor, homicide survivor, victim advocate and intimate partner homicide expert, Susan Murphy Milano, heart shaped lanterns took to the skies…. From the water’s edge and hotel balconies, one witnessed a long line of illumination floating to greet Susan in heaven. Working in teams of two, participants released lights of hope and love against the backdrop of crashing surf….such a soulful reminder of SMM’s presence that will forever live in our hearts. Monica Caison, Founder of the CUE Center also created a special passages award, presented by Delilah Jones on behalf of our beloved Susan Murphy Milano.

Secondly, the Candlelight Vigil at Riverfront Park was a tapestry of emotion.  Uplifting song, a little levity delivered by the MC, interspersed with the sobering fact that we were there to honor the missing and perhaps presumed dead, the beautiful yet shocking wall of victims, inspirational words and prayers by religious leaders… the heart wrenching stories of surviving family members, award presentations to wonderful volunteers, the finale ritual of lighting candles were contrasted by the bitter cold air and ONE THOUSAND HUGS AND TEARS…

Reflections of Selected Presenters and CUE Members…. (Just a Few Highlights) 

“Inspirational, raw, spoken from the heart with great pride and frequent tears shed.” Such is an accurate description of Marilyn Gambrell- a pioneer for “disposable children” of incarcerated family members;

“Effervescent, high energy, caring, very creatively visual, medically based and “a little preachy for your own good.” Such is the essence of Dr. Dalal Akoury with her incomparable style of conveying information;

“Tell it like it is, wounded, but far from defeated, caring and legally precise…” Michelle Cruz readily admits her hard knocks, using her personal experience to the best advantage to present and future victims of crime;

“A friendly, approachable, down home story teller, motherly, keen observer and investigator with a huge network of colleagues…” Sheryl McCollum uses her common sense and her instincts to accomplish amazing things, taking another look where others have not been as successful;

“A snappy dresser, legal eagle commentator who gets to the heart of the matter in the courtroom and in the spotlight of television and radio.”  Holly Hughes is hard hitting and can match wits with anyone, is a staunch advocate for crime victims and law enforcement as well;

“Such a gentleman, dedicated and skilled rescuer and sonar technician” (as well as coffee delivery man)

“Loving, “huggy” dedicated, law enforcement and missing persons advocate, animal rights activist with a heart of gold.”  Yup… that’s Connie Braddock;

“A petit ‘tiger in your tank,’ loving mother, searcher/rescuer and a “find a way around every obstacle” kind of person.”  Kelly Osborn is the epitome of fearless perseverance;

“Offering help, kindness, spiritual support when it really matters and many, many photos….    Lisa Valentino is the consummate friend and volunteer, a virtual fixture around “the CUE water cooler;”

“Feisty to the nth degree,  takes no crap from anyone, gifted and compassionate friend to all people involved in missing persons.“ Yes indeed, that’s our Monica!

We highly encourage all readers to become familiar with all of these movers and shakers for the missing.  Do it today…Do it tomorrow… Just do it!



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Life Altering Pursuits: Changing Stress and Harnessing Resiliency


A former colleague and dear friend, just prior to her passing on to heaven, referred to her life’s work for those experiencing intimate partner violence, the EAA (Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit) as a “beautiful symphony.”  When one can manage the demands of the day, minimize the harmful stress and truly harness resiliency, no matter what the challenge, there is indeed a “beautiful symphony” at work!

Pam Ressler, RN and Founder of Stress Resources, LLC, is that rare combination of compassionate and skilled healthcare provider, researcher, instructor, healer and a woman and mother who also knows devastating personal loss.  Following a long career in nursing…she saw the need to make a greater contribution, learning and imparting holistic mind/body medicine to those in her profession and beyond. Ladyjustice and Delilah joined her  in discussion focusing on stress management and resiliency …. ‘Pertinent to everyone facing violence,  personal crisis, tragedy of mass proportions and terminal or chronic illnesses.

To listen to the Podcast: CLICK HERE

  • Introduction to guest, Pam Ressler, RN;
  • Stress and the forms it takes; Who it affects;
  • Pam’s background and the evolution of Stress Resources, LLC;
  • “Mindfulness” the greatest need or commonality across different environments;
  • Exciting research to validate mindfulness;
  • UMass Worcester 1979 Jon Kabat Zinn – Mindfulness Resiliency ad Meditation  into the Heath care setting with Chronic Pain Patients
  • Building Resiliency Tools: & Neuroimaging
  • Anatomy of Fear 101 – Brain Changes with Mindfulness;
  • Shifting versus shirking….
  • Delilah on the fascination of neuroscience and bringing it to the level of public comprehension;
  • Pam’s makes her case for the importance of social media;
  • Ladyjustice asks  if resiliency genetically based; How do we determine who can come out whole and can resiliency be learned?
  • Studies in concentration camp survivors and workplace situations Victor Frankel and  Suzanne Cabbasa
  • “The Three C’s and more….  “- Control, Commitment, Challenge, Connection;                             Suzanne C. Kobasa ;
  • Delilah speaks candidly about her experience and emotions with her caretaking with Susan Murphy-Milano;
  • Re-defining Connection…..  spirituality, feeling larger than one’s self- making meaning of your life;
  • A discussion of caregiver blogs and the benefits…
  • The sense of being overwhelmed with trauma and how to keep others connected;
  • A blog as a record…. the person is not forgotten- Susan Murphy Milano and Newtown Mass Murder examples;
  • Chat room question: Has Pam worked with families who have members who go missing?
  • Differences with unpredictable, prolonged illness;
  • Our perception of dealing with our adversity if it is a chronic situation: A study of young women with kids with and without chronic illness; Jon Kabat Zinn;;
  • Why do we need to be concerned about caregivers… What are the consequences?
  • What are the positive outcomes of the Elizabeth Blackburn study?
  • Delilah on the lack of resources for Caregivers….
  • Aging and chronic disease- How to take this information in the virtual level
  • For a later show: telling our stories and honoring health and wellness:

Stress Resources, LLC
97 Lowell Rd.
Concord, MA  01742

Office Address:
97 Lowell Rd. 3rd floor
Concord, MA  01742
Phone:  978.369.5243
Fax:      978.369.5853

Questions to be Answered by listening to this Radio Show;

  1. Can we be less stressed if we can  just get a few more things done?
  2. When did mind/body tools become essential and why?
  3. Building Mindfulness- What’s it all about?;
  4. What are the consequences of stepping away from the moment?
  5. What were the results of mindfulness
  6. What are the important findings in the brain when we use mindfulness meditation?
  7. What do professional athletes do to enhance performance?
  8. What is the charge of the medical profession so they we can utilize these tools?
  9. How do some people “ride the wave vs. being pulled under?”
  10. Understanding the Three C’s…
  11. Why is the “Fourth C Connection” essential? How do we find resiliency through blogging?
  12. How do the Four C’s relate to blogging?
  13. How to find hope and healing in the darkest of tragedies?
  14. What are kilomeres?

Shattered Lives, Pam Ressler,Stress Resources,ImaginePublicityPamela Katz Ressler, MS, RN, HN-BC is the founder of Stress Resources in Concord, Massachusetts, a firm specializing in building resiliency for individuals and organizations through tools of connection, communication and compassion, Pam is a frequent speaker to local, national and international audiences on strategies of resiliency and serves on the board of directors of the Integrative Medicine Alliance. She is an adjunct faculty member at both Tufts University School of Medicine and UMass Boston (College of Nursing and Health Sciences), and recently served as a consultant on a federal grant addressing stress resiliency for new nursing graduates. Pam is a frequent contributor to various print and online journals, and has been interviewed extensively on her research on resiliency and social media in healthcare.  Her interest in stress resiliency stems from her 30 years of work in the healthcare industry, but more importantly from her own life as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, business owner, educator, community volunteer, etc, etc, etc…and her attempt to find balance, sanity, and joy amidst the mess, chaos, and beauty of life.

To learn more about Stress Resources visit the website:

Life Altering Pursuits:  Changing Stress and Harnessing Resiliency

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Thank You World…From “Ladyjustice”


(Observing the One Year Anniversary of “Shattered Lives” Radio Show)

February 4, 2012 to the present…. One year of wonderment… education, passion, tears, laughter and helping many, many people….  Where do I begin?  It has been… and continues to be immensely rewarding.  It is a heck of a lot of work… But most of all, this groundbreaking show is a true pleasure and a labor of love.  It helps to feed Ladyjustice’s insatiable intellectual curiosity and creativity… and keeps her out of trouble…most of the time!

As they say on the Award shows, “I wish I had time to thank each and every person in a special way.” However, I do not… The best way to thank everyone is to continue to do this work as a public service…and to honor my father, who was murdered by a career criminal almost 32 years ago…  

With the exception of my mentors in this venture, I can only list the guests: “stars appearing in my constellation.”

*** I encourage you to please go to the archives, enjoy and learn from all of them!  

  • Susan  Murphy-Milano – My mentor and dear friend, motivator who pushed me beyond my limits, who saw the possibilities when I didn’t…whose voice is still in my head and forever in my heart.  I hope she would be proud of me and this milestone;
  • Delilah Jones – the master PR professional, jovial co-host, dear friend, compassionate caretaker, “mother hen” and invaluable resource, I thank her for all that she has given over and above her prescribed role…. My life would not be the same without her presence and guidance;

List of Guests and Affiliations:

  • Introduction to Ladyjustice with  interview by Delilah;
  • St. Mark Varnau- San Diego Police Department – Elder Abuse;
  • Janice Smolinski- Billy’s Law and Adults Who Go Missing;
  • Sam & Wanda Rieger- Creators of the Melanie Ilene Rieger Memorial Conference against Violence (on behalf of their daughter);
  • Robin Kramer Interval House-DV;
  • Bob Rahn, PI, Management Resources, Ltd;
  • Michelle Cruz,  Connecticut State Victim Advocate;
  • 10) Dr. Laurie Roth, TBI;
  • 11) Robin McHalen True Colors-LGBTQ;
  • Denny & Faith Griffin- Vehicular Death;
  • Tim Palmbach – Forensic Science, Henry Lee Institute;
  • Andrew Norton, Legislative Liaison, State of CT  Services for the Blind;
  • Anna Doraghazi  & Lavinia Masters – Sexual Assault;
  • Melissa Cann – Family Survivor – Long Island Serial Killer;
  • “At the Movies” Reviews with Ladyjustice & Delilah;
  • Duane Bowers – Trauma Specialist (#1)
  • Chuck Elgin & Robin Moore- Sonar & Rescue Dog Techniques;
  • Kim Anklin – Management resources Ltd; Sexual Harassment;
  • Ann Baldwin- Baldwin Media;
  • Raymond Bechard “The BerlinTrnpike” Human Trafficking;
  • Kim & Kristin Anklin-Workplace Harassment –Violence;
  • Imagine Publicity – Showcase of Clients;
  • Roger Sylvestre- Ct Fire Academy;
  • Michael Dooling, Author of “Clueless  in New England”
  • David Francis – The Jon Francis Foundation;
  • Antoinette Bosco- The Death Penalty;
  • Diane Tomassetti-  Baggins End Guest House-

“Pampering Yourself”

  • Derek VonLuchene – Ryan United;
  • David Kaczynski-Brother of the Unabomber ;
  • Duane Bowers –Caretakers #2;
  • Marylyn Gambrell- No More Victims” Kids of                           Incarcerated Parents;
  • Susan Murphy –Milano “Holding My Hand Through Hell”
  • Dottie Laster & Betty Houbion – Human Trafficking;
  • Peter Valentin Henry Lee Institute Evidence Collection;
  • Al Dressler- Facechecks- Vito Colucci Investigations;
  • Bob Rahn-Cold Case Vernon Jones;
  • Jillian Maas Backman- “Getting in Touch with Your Spiritual Side”
  • John & Becky Glezen PFLAG- Hartford;
  • Michale Callahan- “Too Politically Sensitive”
  • Duane Bowers –Sandy Hook Massacre #3;
  • Melissa Marshall- Disability Issues;
  • Eryn Cervantes – Citizens Against Homicide Conference;
  • Marilyn Gambrell – “No More Victims” (#2);
  • Anna Doraghazi CONNSACS – Richard Fourtin Case – etc. (#2);
  • Diane Fanning True Crime & Fiction Author 

     Thank you very much…from the bottom of my heart! 

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