I’m just now realizing how brilliant Amy Winehouse was and it’s killing me


This is a very thoughtful and sympathetic recalling of British-born Amy Winehouse, whose singing was her gift.

Originally posted on Lauren Carter:

amy-winehouseI’ve been listening to a lot of Amy Winehouse lately. It’s pretty much all I’ve been doing. That and watching her videos, interviews and documentaries. I should have realized how brilliant she was a long time ago, but I didn’t. And now that I have, it’s like I’ve become obsessed.

A guy I briefly dated in 2007 burned me a copy of “Back to Black” and told me I should check it out. He said something about it being “different” or “retro.” But because he was kind of lame, and because people would regularly send me terrible music they claimed was incredible, I was skeptical. I dismissed his words, ignored the Amy Winehouse buzz and didn’t bother to play her album a single time. I mostly knew her as the girl who sang that kind of cool song “Rehab,” the one with the beehive who looked…

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Domestic abusers are really addicts of a type – Opinion

Here is the latest Pat Watson column as it appears in Share Newspaper

Although recent focus has been on public exposure of  domestic abuse by professional football player Ray Rice, this kind of addictive behavior occurs throughout society. To attach so-called racial identity to it is to confuse the facts. There are enough studies that domestic violence is almost twice as high in homes of law enforcement officers. Furthermore, sociologist Scott Melzer, a postgraduate researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that that “men in the following occupations have higher rates of violence at home than men in managerial occupations: 
Men in “female-dominated occupations” (i.e., clerical workers), 47% higher;
Men in “physically violent occupations” (i.e. police, military, correctional) 43 percent higher.
Men in “dangerous occupations” (i.e., working with explosives, mining, emergency workers), 23% higher.”

Domestic abusers are really addicts

The recent video airing of the knockout punch from professional football player Ray Rice to his then fiancée, now wife, Janay Palmer, that occurred in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February of this year, has again put the disturbing matter of spousal abuse at the forefront. Back in March 2009, the public was presented with photographic evidence of Barbadian singer Rihanna’s bruised and swollen face following her being assaulted by her then boyfriend, rapper Chris Brown.

These are the public faces of spousal abuse; this type of domestic violence is sickening. We fear for the lives of those who remain with their abusers while also wondering what is inside the heart and mind of a person who would perpetrate such cruelty on the person that would otherwise be his love partner.

The broad public response in the face of this type of unhealthy relationship shows unawareness of the dynamics.

- See more at: http://sharenews.com/domestic-abusers-are-really-addicts/#sthash.ApowsqgP.dpuf

When a Man Beats a Woman – Book Excerpt

In the aftermath of the public discussion of yet another high-profile incidence of spousal abuse, here is an excerpt from In Through A Coloured Lens

March 16, 2009

When a Man Beats a Woman


A disturbing story of assault involving two young, high-profile entertainers who are romantically involved is only one of countless millions of such acts of violence perpetrated by one supposedly loving companion or family member upon the other. Years after, the assault on photogenic Barbadian pop singer Rhianna by her fresh-faced boyfriend Chris Brown continued to make headlines.

We consider famous and talented persons to be larger than life, so we commonly assign god-like qualities to them. That could explain why this type of brutal but, sadly, everyday assault continues to sustain such an intense level of interest – someone who seems so special caught in the same crisis of violence as untold nameless women and men.

The FREDA Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children fact: “Almost 75% of women who leave or stay apart eventually return home to their partners: for the sake of the children (31%); to give the relationship another chance (24%); when their partner promises to change (17%); because of a lack of money or housing (9%).”

Countless couples co-exist in the private hell of domestic violence unnoticed or undetected by the world at large, or even their next-door neighbours. That is, until one of them kills the other – the killer most often being the male partner.

A woman tells a horrendous story that begins with her teeth. She says that almost all her teeth have been knocked out over a lengthy period of time by the man she lived with, and who fathered her five children. They are no longer together, but while they were, he would lock her in their home, imprisoning her, every day as he left to go to work. He would lock her in and take the key. She endured this for years before finding the strength to escape that life. She sought the help of a support agency. No longer a victim, but a survivor, she reflects on her abuser with pity for him.

Statistics Canada fact: “Most multiple-victim homicides and murder-suicides were family-related, and the vast majority of accused persons in these types of incidents were male.”

A young woman whose marriage is failing is discovered by her husband to be having an adulterous relationship. His response is repeated blows to her head. She quietly plans her escape and fearing the worst, she moves to another town.

FREDA Centre fact: “…a large majority of wife killings are precipitated by: a man accusing his partner of sexual infidelity; by her decision to terminate the relationship; and/or by his desire to control her.”

A hairdresser whose childhood was spent in an abusive home becomes involved with a man struggling with alcohol addiction. He assaults her whenever he drinks. Eventually she leaves.

FREDA Centre fact: Women married to or living with heavy drinkers, are five times more likely to be assaulted by their partners than are women who live with non-drinkers. ”

We can be thankful that none of these survivors made the news as homicides.

If one good thing could come out of the very public exposure of Rihanna having been beaten up, battered and bruised so badly, it would be to get both those who abuse and those who are being abused to seek help to confront and repair the dynamics that lead to a relationship of violence.

To the abused person: Your love won’t fix the person abusing you but you can get help for yourself at the Assaulted Women’s Helpline in Toronto (416-863-0511).

To the person who abuses: You must know that trying to control another person’s life through violence is unhealthy, and moreover criminal, behavior. One place to start to get the necessary help to change this behavior is Counterpoint Counselling and Educational Cooperative in Toronto (416-920-0268).


If We Take Life Too Seriously, Life Will Seriously Take Us – Book Excerpt

In the wake of the loss through depression of Robin Williams, here is an excerpt on mental health and mental ill-health from In Through A Coloured Lens
October 26, 2009
If We Take Life Too Seriously, Life Will Seriously Take Us

One of the unspoken truths of this world in its totality is that it is really one of organized, controlled lunacy. The evidence is everywhere, and while so many of us have had those moments, some individuals lose the façade entirely.
A case in point: A person travels from another land to this one – heart and mind filled with hope for a new and better life. But somewhere along the adventure, her hope dims and in response she finds a new way, nothing like the imagined one. In fact, her life is one of carting bundles, and it does not allow for daily hygiene. It finds her positioned between doors at the underground entrance to a downtown subway station where she humbly seeks your spare change. You might smell her presence before you even see her.
She couldn’t have imagined this as a young woman in the now faraway Caribbean homeland where her dream of traveling to a new country to find a new life was born.
Where does she go at night, one wonders?
You don’t see many Black women living on the streets of this city – a testament to the resiliency of the many, and our invisible, informal support system. But there are some. Being so few, they stand out. They live in our midst, yet still are on the outer edge. There was another who used to collect spare change at Bathurst and Bloor. Where is she now, one wonders?
Another woman of colour, though coaxed, refuses to tell her story. She keeps the details of her life to herself, holding on to her dignity, controlling what little privacy she still can. Yet, her life is very much a public statement, as daily she drags her large, battered piece of luggage around with her. Her hair is sprinkled with grey; some teeth have gone missing. But every day her hair is neatly combed, makeup beautifully presented, although that does not hide the frayed edges of her psyche.
Some days, if she allows you, there will be conversation. One day she gave away that she has a daughter. Where? She doesn’t say. But she will talk nonstop about the “iniquity workers on the Earth.” She will tell you that the devil will trick the unaware in many ways and she will talk, half in a trance, about the spirits of evil that are busy fooling us all with enticements of wealth and power. She will speak to you, but she is not friendly. And if you listen carefully, with empathy, you can hear her keen intelligence mixed in with the madness. You will get a sense of what plagued her mind until she tipped over the edge. You will understand that she is crazy, but not stupid.
If you ask about her swollen foot, bandaged but not seeming to heal, she will tell you frankly that she doesn’t care to discuss that at this time… or any time. She has lost her mind, not her pride. To have come so far to a new land and then to have taken this unforeseen road is heart-wrenching misfortune.
On another day, in another place, there is the other, older, woman of colour. She doesn’t seem to be as disconnected from reality as her younger counterpart. She is friendly, with an approachable demeanour, if you can manage to overlook the smell. For some who abandon themselves to uncontrolled insanity, this is an instinctive defence, keeping them safe – other people are less inclined to approach them because the stench ensures they have a wider personal space. Yet, with compassion, some individuals extend a hand.
One of the pointed differences between the relatively few man and women of colour who live daily on the streets of this city– at least from this observer’s perspective – is that the women’s unstable mental health is not tied to drug and alcohol addiction. Other pressures came to bear to take them to the private hell of mental illness and the public admission of their homelessness. What rejections, what disappointments, what patterns have been running throughout their lives? How is it that they have so lost their humour?
The singer Seal reminds us “we’re never going to survive unless we get a little crazy.” In other words, allowing the madness out a little at a time prevents a full-blown leap into the chasm. Our sisters on the street remind us that Adversity has its own plan. Yet if we take life too seriously, life will seriously take us.