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Jackie Tortorello - Learning To Love
Learning To Love

by Jackie Tortorello

If you're looking for a source of empowerment, this blog is for you! With knowledge and news about the beauty that lines within all women, this is a space where you can become stronger and more confident from the inside out. Jackie Tortorello discusses topics such as domestic violence, sexual health and relationships, as well as connects with women from all walks of life who can relate and want to share their own stories.

Jackie Tortorello
10 Tips For Learning To Love Yourself

Learning to love myself is one of the most rewarding processes I have ever undertaken. It is also one of the hardest. It wasn't always easy and it wasn't the most comfortable experience, but it taught me a lot about myself and how I can better extend my love to others. If you are looking to grow, or begin the process of self-acceptance, check out these tips on learning to love yourself.

1. Look in the mirror and say it

You may not believe it at first, but looking in the mirror and saying “I love you” can help you to better connect with yourself and all the reasons you are great. If you don't believe it today, keep trying on a daily basis and eventually the idea of self-love will stick.

2. Experience new things by yourself

Go to a movie. Eat at a restaurant you have never tried. Check out a new coffee shop. The list of activities you can experience by yourself is endless. By doing new things, you become self-sufficient and more aware of the positive activities you enjoy.

3. Eat right and exercise

Maintaining physical health can help you feel better mentally. It will also give you the chance to look inward and assess ways to improve, giving you a new perspective as you shed unneeded habits and possibly pounds.

4. Set goals

Setting one realistic goal you can achieve can help you realize how powerful you really are. It could be as simple as attending one yoga class a week or cooking a new recipe. Either way, make sure the goal is not too extreme and can be measured in some way.

5. Listen to good music and sing loud

Opening your heart with some really good tunes can help beat out stress from your daily life and make you feel a little warmer inside. It's a known fact that certain music can increase your mood and help you experience a sense of well-being.

6. Meditate

Taking a step back from your own mind can open you to a whole new world of possibilities and perspectives. Meditation is clinically proven to reduce your heart rate and calm the body. It also opens your heart and mind to the world around you and allows you to connect to a greater consciousness.

7. Meet new people

Talking with a different group of people can help you better understand yourself. It can also teach you about alternative lifestyles while forcing you to step outside of your comfort zone.

8. Connect with old friends from the past

Write a letter to a friend from the past and tell her your favorite memory. Doing this can help you better understand where you came from as your share a positive memory with a friend. By loving others, you can learn to love yourself.

9. Write daily

Writing in a daily journal can provide an opportunity to reflect on the world around you and understand things you might not. It can also help you deal with feeling sad or chronicle a positive life event.

10. Acknowledge your journey

By acknowledging where you come from and accepting where you are, you can acknowledge all the positive things that lie within. This is not something that happens in one day, but rather, a process that takes place throughout one’s lifetime.

Jackie Tortorello
Erin's Experience: A Story About Abuse

As a 22-year-old growing up in Indiana, Erin never guessed one of her boyfriends would beat her, berate her and lock her in her own house. She is now 32-years-old and willing to share her story. After enduring a cycle of psychological abuse and physical violence for almost a year, Erin ended the relationship and moved to Chicago where she maintains a career as a personal injury attorney.

When did you first realize the relationship was abusive?

About two months in he started causing problems for no reason. He locked me in the house all the time and he would leave for periods of time. He would get pretty drunk and would wake me up at five in the morning. He would punch me in the back, and like pin me down, spit on my face. At another poin,  he pulled a gun on me.

What did family and friends say?

My friend went with me and took me to the police station. She's the one that finally got me to go. It took me a long time to even report it because I felt bad that I was going to get this guy arrested. We have mutual friends, I work with his friends. I felt guilty.

Were there any red flags?

He was Immediately into saying that he was my boyfriend and telling me that he loves me. Two months into he was causing problems for no reason, always screaming at me.

His friend even warned me about him. She said there's been stories about him and his ex-girlfriends. But you just figure that “something happens” and you never hear both sides of the story. I didn't listen because ex-girlfriends or boyfriends say things that aren't necessarily true.

What happened when you ended the relationship?

We broke up, finally, and then he starts stalking me. He's waiting for me in the parking lot of my apartment building, threatening to kill my brother and calling me constantly. Just call after call after call after call after call. Leaving messages, showing up at my work.

I went out with someone else and he called me and knew who it was because he was sitting in my parking lot and watched me go out with him.

Did you ever speak with police about his behavior?

He was calling me while I was at the police station. Over and over again. So I go to talk to the police and try to file an order of protection. I tell them I don't know what to do, this guy has guns and he's pulled them on me before so I'm scared for my safety.

The cops are like, “Why didn't you come to us sooner? How stupid.” It wasn't a positive experience.

I walked around the building looking for places I should go. They kept sending me to different places. I finally talked to this officer who knew him from high school. He took down the information and called the guy and told him to leave me alone. That was all he did. So he stopped for a little bit but then saw me out on a date with another guy and started all over again, but calling from a private phone number.

Were there any reasons why you stayed in this relationship longer than you should have?

My whole life had been pretty abusive so it's not that abnormal for me to be dealing with that kind of stuff. I never felt like really terrified even though I probably should have. It seems odd now that I look back and see that I wasn't scared.

I felt bad that I was going to get this guy arrested. We have mutual friends, I work with his friends.

He was always telling me how great I am outside when he was abusing me. He was always really persistent. Always calling me, trying to get back together with me. I just stayed with him until I started dating other people.

What advice do you have to give to other girls experiencing this situation?

It's hard not to think that it's all your fault. Just be careful. He wanted to be involved too quickly and wrapped up into it too quickly.

How did you recover from such traumatic experiences?

Eventually, I changed my phone number and I moved here (to Chicago). I was working two jobs and into school full time. I just kept myself busy. I try to be open about it and I don't want to hide it.

Jackie Tortorello
Recovering From Domestic Violence

Dealing with the aftermath of domestic violence or domestic abuse is different for every survivor. While there are some commonalities for everyone who has experienced abuse, the recovery process is different for all. One of the best ways to recover from domestic violence is to take a step back and with the help of loved ones or a counselor, reexamine the situation through a new set of eyes.

By asking questions and understanding the situation from a new perspective, you can start the process of healing. At first, it might seem painful, but after a period of reflection and thought, the bruises will heal and so will your heart. Consider these thoughts after experiencing abuse:

  • The victim is not responsible for the abuse that was incurred
  • No one deserves to be battered or abused
  • As a survivor, you made the best choices you could at the time
  • The survivor is most responsible for their personal process of healing
  • Even if the survivor feels that life is out of control, internal reflection can help curb the damage
  • Friends might not understand how you feel or what you experienced but they are there to help
  • Living inside an environment that is consistently chaotic requires unusual means of coping
  • Cutting off contact with your abuser can prevent more damage before it starts
  • Take care of your physical needs through diet and exercise
  • Avoid emotional stressors for a period of time. Taking care of yourself after you experience abuse can help you rebuild your life or start a new one completely.

By surrounding yourself with supportive loved ones and a team of counselors, beginning again is only a few steps away.

Jackie Tortorello
Talking With Police About Abuse

Women who have experienced domestic violence often feel isolated and fear that they can't turn to anyone for help. However that is simply not true. By speaking with police and other legal authorities, action can be taken so that further violence is prevented.

Police Reports

A police report will help document abuse and make the first step towards filing criminal charges. The person filing the report will be asked a series of questions that indicate what happened and why. It's best to file a police report as soon as the event occurs and in some cities you can even file online. Provide as much information as possible and be sure to let authorities know you feel threatened or unnerved. Once the report is filed, you become a witness in the case that is created against your abuser. A detective will be assigned to your case. You will not have control over whether or not this case ends up in court nor are you guaranteed a conviction for your abuser.

Protective Order

A protective order will require your abuser to maintain a certain distance from you as well as your property. In some states it's called a protection order, restraining order or injunction. Despite the legal ramifications of filing, the abuser does not always obey. Sometimes abuse can become even more intense after the victim files a protective order because the abuser realizes he is losing power and control but if you fear for your safety and your abuser is a casual acquaintance, a protective order may help.

Always remember that police reports and protective orders do not completely protect you from the threat of abuse. Instead, they are small steps you can take to develop a network of secure protection. By using your own judgment, you can decide if these steps are necessary or if they may make the situation worse.

Jackie Tortorello
Raising A Body-Confident Kid

You want your daughter to look in the mirror and feel powerful. You want her to smile with confidence and pass her light onto others. But in a world filled with photoshopped ads and sizes too small to shrink into on your skinniest day, she is competing against a harsh world.

Instilling body-confidence in your daughter will foster an attitude of self-acceptance that carries over into adult life and shapes the perception she has of herself. It's important because according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 40 to 60 percent of elementary school girls (ages 6 to 12) are concerned about becoming too fat or gaining weight. By cutting off harmful thoughts at a young age, our daughters, friends and sisters can live in a more positive, non-judgmental world.

But How Do You Do It?

How do you instill the idea of beauty in a flower that has yet to form? How do you make your daughter believe she is good enough? If you don't model a positive perception of your own body-image, the task is next to impossible. By speaking positively about your physical features in front of your daughter, she is more likely to project those connotations onto herself.

Teach your daughter to look below the surface and recognize positive qualities that lie within. Not only will this help her to recognize the universal gifts she has been given, it will teach her that others are beautiful in their own way.

Don't project the idea that being thin is equivalent to being beautiful. Beauty comes in all forms and is best viewed in its natural state. Yes, weighing less can help you live a healthier and longer lifestyle, but no one should be judged by the size or shape of their waistline.

Teach your daughter to be comfortable in her developing body. Let her know that physical changes are okay. Navigating the physical form of the female is confusing enough, let alone when changes are occurring at the influx of hormones. By teaching her about self-acceptance, she can endure the physical changes with a positive perception.

By instilling a personal sense of beauty and confidence in your daughter, she can project that image and remain confidence within herself.

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15 Quick Quotes For When You're Having A Tough Day

Sometimes this world is tough and all we need is a small piece of inspiration to help pick us up and dust us off. By checking out this list of 15 inspirational quotes, you will know you're not alone and that you can face challenges with a stronger mind and motivate others to do the same. This list will also help you realize struggles other women have faced and the way they conquered them. 

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Debby Ryan: "Love Should Never Leave A Scar or A Bruise. It Should Never Hurt"

Photo Credit: Splash 

After escaping an abusive relationship, Disney star Debby Ryan joined the Don't Look Away Campaign, a movement that stresses that everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. As the star of the Disney series Jessie, Ryan not only uses her show to highlight the challenges young women face but to also get involved with a greater cause.

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Do You Understand Domestic Abuse?

Bruises and cuts are easy to cover, but it's the bone-twisting anxiety that might give you away. If your friends haven't noticed an absent smile or tear-stained cheeks, they're not doing their job. Or maybe you're better at masking the signs and symptoms of domestic violence than most. By understanding abuse, those who have experienced it can stop the cycle while friends and family speak up on your behalf.

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Domestic Violence In The Digital Space

Many people think that domestic violence only happens face to face. But in the fast-paced world of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, digital abuse has become a growing trend. According to the Urban Institute, one in four teens is harassed online or through texting by a partner they have been romantically involved with.

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Feminists To Follow On Twitter

The feminist movement on social media has gained some major attention in the past year, with women joining forces for a common cause and sharing knowledge. This list of Twitter feminists should be added to your feed.

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New Mobile App Supports Victims of Domestic Violence

For women hoping to escape an abusive relationship, the challenge of calling the police and appearing in front of court can seem like a daunting task. However, with a new mobile app released by The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's App Brewery and the Sojourner Family Peace Center, things just got a whole lot easier.

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Protect Your Heart By Spotting These Relationship Red Flags

There are some subtle bad signs that deserve your attention when you begin dating someone new. Sometimes we are unwilling to open our eyes to the truth because we are too busy enjoying our new relationship or we think he will change. Spot these red flags in the beginning of your relationship and you can prevent some major heartbreak down the road.

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What To Say To A Friend Experiencing Domestic Abuse

Where did you get those marks? Is he hitting you? What's going on with this relationship?

If you think someone you love is experiencing an abusive relationship, you might be struggling to ask certain questions. While it can be very painful to stand by and watch the one you love experience abuse, it's ultimately up to them to end the cycle. However, there are certain things you can say to motivate them to get help and exit the relationship.

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#TheDress Raises Awareness About Domestic Violence

Photo Credit: The Salvation Army

Remember that dress? The blue and gold one that played tricks on the eyes? Well, it's now being used in an anti-violence campaign designed to stop abuse against women.

Jackie Tortorello
Silence Won't Save Us But Speaking Up Can

"I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't" - Audre Lorde

I know what it's like to pick up the pieces. I know what it's like to feel confused. I know what it's like to become a statistic and wonder if life will ever go back to the way it was before. After surviving the experience of rape at the age of 19, I vowed to enlighten women on preventing sexual abuse in their own lives while helping others who have endured similar situations.

By talking about issues like sexual violence, domestic abuse and women's health, we can take back the power and learn facts designed to save lives. This blog intends to create a community dedicated to informing and empowering women about issues they face each day.

According to the Huffington Post over 38,028,000 women have faced physical harm from an intimate partner and the trend continues on a global scale. Our culture might capitalize on issues like domestic violence with trending conversations on social media and graphic pictures on the news. But still, with numbers much larger than most bank accounts, physical and mental harm towards women has become an American epidemic.

In the wake of disaster and in everyday life, women need to know that their voices have not gone unheard. There are a number hotlines, websites and organizations just waiting to help. My blog is one of them as it serves as a source of insight into understanding different forms of trauma women have experienced.