Gift Getaway Retreats

Experience the 21 Roles which Reveal the Depths of Femininity 

Looking back, the puzzle pieces started appearing for me very young.

Starting in my teens, I was sensitive to anything I could learn about being a good woman. I remember Mom teaching me the way to iron your husband’s shirts. I was very interested and was always picking up the clues. But, it was so many years and relationships before the clues begin to complete the puzzle of womanhood for me.

In my forties, I knew that my purpose and mission were helping people as a therapist and a teacher. I consistently made sure to see men and women as equals and to be responsible for mentoring good marriages. Then, in 2012, I allowed myself to focus on the feminine. At last, I started synthesizing my works into a retreat to care for women. My lifelong hobby of gift giving turned into a method for making learning experiences delightful and unforgettable. I could create fun discoveries which immediately inspire women’s access to their internal gifts and depths.

So much that holds women back has to do with expectations we teach about men and women in our heritage of beliefs. The obvious hardships about knowing gender equality pour through the lens of religion, patriarchy, misogyny and prejudice. Our cultures are now negative to the point of being largely conflictual, harmful and insulting. Suspicion and defense color the ethos of our times. Yes, our older generation is right. Our communities and families aren’t as safe nor as generous as they once were. We have lost so much trust, warmth and courtesy in general. I am determined to maintain kindness and care in my islands of influence. My intention is to awaken the lost art of femininity.

The Gift Getaways are beautiful. They are substantial, meaningful, playful and friendly. For the first time, I am making these five Gift Getaways available to the public. Stay tuned for the schedule!

Happy New Year from Heather.

Violence? No Tolerance.

Domestic Violence Destroys Homes and Families.

Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence kills the foundation of good.

I want to do whatever I can to stop such stupidity, ignorance and evil. This is another symptom of our twisted times and why I’m at work on Mentoring a Generation. I have curated some of the best-informed voices to share here. My sincerest support for the victims and the families which must break the cycle of allowing viciousness in the home.

Go to TED Talks. Here are two of the best!

The Story of Crazy Love

“Abuse thrives only in silence.”

-Leslie Morgan Steiner

How We Turned the Tide on Domestic Violence

Esta Soler has guided Futures Without Violence to become one of the world’s most effective advocacy organizations in the effort to recognize and prevent gender-based violence. The agency she founded 30 years ago provides education, policy development and training to reduce the prevalence of violence against women and children, and to care for its victims. “When we started, there wasn’t even the language for this,” says Soler. 

Futures Without Violence — then called the Family Violence Prevention Fund — lobbied for a decade to get the Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994. Congress upheld and expanded the law in 2000, 2005 and most recently in 2013. Today, Futures Without Violence has offices in San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C. — but their vision is for a worldwide moment to end gender-based violence. Today, Soler is committed working with anti-violence activists around the world to pass the International Violence Against Women Act.

The important thing about the social media activity now is that real women are telling their stories — and they’re all different.


Esta Soler: And don’t forget #whymenabuseandhurt, which Kevin Powell added to this week.

The important thing about the social media activity now is that real women are telling their stories — and they’re all different. Leslie’s situation is completely different from what Janay [Palmer Rice] went through or what the woman who created #WhyIStayed went through. The ability for individuals to tell their own stories and have them circulate — it’s wonderful, because others don’t feel as alone.

Both Esta Soler and Leslie Morgan Steiner are activists working to end domestic violence. Soler was instrumental in passing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which celebrates its 20th anniversary on September 13, 2014. (Watch her TED Talk: How we turned the tide on domestic violence) see page 13. Steiner, in her early 20s, married the man she thought was her soulmate. Then, he repeatedly held a loaded gun to her head. (Watch her TED Talk, see above: Why domestic violence victims don’t leave).

I was able to end my own crazy love story by breaking the silence. I’m still breaking the silence today. It’s my way of helping other victims, and it’s my final request of you. Talk about what you heard here. Abuse thrives only in silence. You have the power to end domestic violence simply by shining a spotlight on it. We victims need everyone. We need every one of you to understand the secrets of domestic violence. Show abuse the light of day by talking about it with your children, your coworkers, your friends and family. Recast survivors as wonderful, lovable people with full futures.Recognize the early signs of violence and conscientiously intervene, deescalate it, show victims a safe way out. Together we can make our beds, our dinner tables and our families the safe and peaceful oases they should be.

From Belleruth Naparstek

How to Leave Your Abuser and Still Stay Safe


I mentioned last week “The 7 Easy Steps to Becoming a Victim of Domestic Violence” (see page 7), the most dangerous time for the abused partner is once she (or he) actually hits the road. That’s when the offender has nothing to lose. Over 70% of the murders that happen in these relationships, happen then.

That’s why it’s imperative that this exit be carefully planned, highly tactical and very secret. So that’s the general thrust here: be sneaky, crafty and wily – your life may depend on it.

So, this list may look totally paranoid to you – but it’s not paranoia when your partner thinks they own you and feels that they have the right to retrieve you…. or worse, destroy you for committing the outrageous act of leaving them.

See more at:





  13. BE ON GUARD WITH 911

Pre-Escape Tactics:

GET SUPPORT: First off, get support. Tell a trusted (and tight-lipped) friend, relative or colleague what’s going on. Enlist their help. You can also get help planning your escape at your local shelter; or from a trained advisor at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at Or, if your computer is being monitored, call them at 800−799−7233. But immediately after the call, call someone else, so your abuser doesn’t hit “redial” and discover your planned defection.

PLAN FOR WARNING TROUBLE: Have a predetermined plan with your friend(s) for when you’re in trouble. Decide on a code word you can say or text, to signal you’re in danger; or use a visual signal like a porch light being on or off, a shade raised or lowered in a certain way.

HIDE MONEY: Start stashing away whatever money you can. If you set up a secret account, get a post office box so the bank statements don’t come to the house. If it’s cash, hide it at a trusted friend’s house, in a safe deposit box or at a locker at work.

EMERGENCY GRAB AND GO: ave an emergency bag packed and ready in case you have to get out fast. This should include an extra set of keys, ID, car title, money, credit cards, shoes, clothes for you and the kids, immunization records, a spare cell phone, a list of phone numbers of friends, family, docs, schools and your local shelter.

CAR READY TO GO: Speaking of getting out fast, consider making it a habit to back your car into the driveway, leaving the driver’s door unlocked but all other doors locked. Keep an extra car key with you.

DOCUMENTATION: Keep a journal to document the violence, including dates, events – even email or text threats. And keep any photo evidence of physical abuse. But keep it in a safe place.

ABUSER’S SCHEDULE: Know your abuser’s schedule and patterns, so you’ll know when it’s safest to leave. If you can, pick a time when it will take him a while to realize you’re gone.

QUICK ESCAPE LOCATION: Decide in advance where you’ll go if you have to leave quickly. Remember that a shelter can help you stay safe and provide you and your kids with temporary resources, services and supplies. If it’s the house of a trusted friend or relative, make sure you have a key.

Post-Exit Tactics:

NEIGHBORHOOD: If you’re going to a new home (or after your stay at the shelter), best to make your new home in a well-populated area, maybe even an apartment building or in a Neighborhood Watch area.

FALSE TRAIL: You might want to consider creating a false trail that’s at least 6 hours from your new location. Call real estate agencies, hotels and schools there to mislead your abuser.

NEW PHONE: Get a new cell phone and number. Verizon has a program (Hope Line) that gives free phones to shelters, by the way.

UNLISTED PHONE: Get caller ID and an unlisted phone number.

PRIVATE ADDRESS: Careful with your new address – don’t give it out. Consider getting a P.O. Box for mail, sign up with the state for an address confidentiality program, and get your address off your voter registration.

NEW LOCKS: Get new locks for doors and windows at your new home; also motion-sensitive, outdoor lights, an alarm system, steel door and smoke detectors.

DON’T GIVE ADDRESS: Don’t disclose your location online.

PROTECTIVE ORDER: Get a protection order and keep it with you. Also, make sure family, friends, your kids’ school and co-workers have copies.

NEW HABITS, NEW LIFE: Don’t go back to old places and patterns: attend a new church, change up your routes to work, get a new bank, hang out at a different coffee shop, and so on. If you can, change your work hours and the school your kids attend. And change any appointments that your abuser knows about.

HELP AT WORK: At work, let your supervisor know about the situation. Get your number off the company directory. Change offices if you can. Have security walk you to your car, and park your car near other cars and as close to the entrance as you can get.

CHECK YOUR COMPUTER: Spyware could be on your old computer. Have a techie friend check it out. You might need a new one.

SAFETY PLAN WITH KIDS: Have a safety plan with your kids. Alert their school or day care about the possibility of danger or kidnapping.

BE ON GUARD: Stay alert and aware. Have your phone out, ready to call 911 if necessary. Pay attention.

TALK AND SHARE: Talk to trusted friends, professionals and family about the violence. No more isolation!

And, a shorter checklist if you don’t live together:

How to Leave a Relationship with Your Abuser and Still Stay Safe

  11. ON GUARD WITH 911

The 7 Easy Steps to Becoming a Victim of Domestic Violence

Hello. Well, here we are again, back at Domestic Violence Awareness Month. So I guess it’s time to describe what it looks like. It can affect anyone. There is no one sociological profile of who this is likely to be, except that 4 times out of 5 it’s a woman and she’s most likely to be between the ages of 18-34.

THERE IS A PATTERN: There is a pattern to an abusive relationship, and that’s what I want to describe here, because, odd as it might sound, people don’t always realize they’re in one.

Domestic Violence Pattern

  1. Seduction – He charms her to get her close.
  2. Sympathy – Flatters her as his savior.
  3. Isolation – Cuts her off from family & friends.
  4. Tantrum – He rants, rages and breaks things.
  5. Attack with Blame – Assault and remorse.
  6. Rescuer Role – Beatings are tolerated.
  7. Wakeup Call – Felony stops trauma trance.
  8. Escape – She needs a plan to escape safely.

The sequence goes more or less like this:

SEDUCTION: First, the victim is seduced and charmed into thinking she (as I said, it’s usually a she, although sometimes it’s a he) is the most amazing, wonderful, special, heaven-sent person ever.

SYMPATHY: Second, the abuser confides some of the suffering he’s experienced and elicits sympathy for all the demons he’s had to contend with. The compelling idea, stated in so many words or not, is that she and she alone can save him.

ISOLATION: Third, the victim becomes isolated – disconnected from family and friends and community – trapped physically, financially and emotionally. Sometimes she is physically moved away from her support network, but sometimes she’s just discouraged from going out much. Her friends and family are disparaged and it just becomes easier to see them less and less. If she gets to keep her job, she knows to come home right away after work or her commitment and loyalty are questioned.

TANTRUM: Fourth, the abuser introduces the threat of violence. This can take the form of impulsive rants and rages, putting fists through walls, standing over her with barely controlled fury, collecting and carrying weapons, kicking the cat – things like that.

ATTACK WITH BLAME: Fifth, he directly attacks her. Often the violence is framed as something that she caused – she didn’t do an errand or was late coming home; she was distracted and not listening to him; she brought take-out home for dinner…. After the pummeling, there is usually dramatic remorse, heartfelt apologies and possibly even a passionate make-up love-fest.

RESCUER ROLE: Sixth, the pattern of attack and remorse becomes habitual but escalating in frequency and intensity. In spite of severe beatings, injuries and trips to the ER, it’s possible that the victim still isn’t thinking of herself as a battered partner – rather, in her mind she’s the strong one, the rescuer of a troubled man, and the only one who can heal him. And there’s no close friend or family member around to suggest otherwise.

WAKEUP CALL: Seven, finally something happens that snaps her out of her trauma trance – maybe he almost kills her; or he terrorizes one of the kids; or maybe someone else’s reaction from catching an inadvertent glimpse of the abuse allows her to see the whole pattern with fresh eyes.

ESCAPE: This is when she may escape or try to. This is also the most dangerous time for her. He could kill her – 70% of murders in an abusive relationship happen after the abusee leaves or tries to. That’s why the leaving has to be very tactical, carefully pre-planned and must involve heavy support and protection from others.

I’ll talk more about how domestic violence victims can safely extricate themselves next week. (Page 1) …ponder this and see if any of it might apply to you, a friend, a family member, a neighbor or a co-worker.

35% of WOMEN, 29% of MEN: Because it happens a lot: over 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and over 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Here’s the good news: people really do extricate themselves and heal and completely rebuild their lives after living in the hell I’ve just described. But the first step is realizing they’re one of these statistics.

So please send this on to anyone you suspect can use it. Bite the bullet, risk offending them and just do it.

I mentioned “The 7 Easy Steps to Becoming a Victim of Domestic Violence”, the most dangerous time for the abused partner is once she (or he) actually hits the road. That’s when the offender has nothing to lose. Over 70% of the murders that happen in these relationships, happen then.

That’s why it’s imperative that this exit be carefully planned, highly tactical and very secret. So that’s the general thrust here: be sneaky, crafty and wily – your life may depend on it.

So, this list may look totally paranoid to you – but it’s not paranoia when your partner thinks they own you and feels that they have the right to retrieve you…. or worse, destroy you for committing the outrageous act of leaving them.

Thank you to Belleruth Naparstek from

Sincere Gratitude to Leslie Morgan Steiner for these Resources



National Domestic Violence Hotline

1.800.799.SAFE (7233)


National Sexual Assault Hotline

1.800.656.HOPE (4673)


National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline



Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

1.800.4.A.CHILD (422-4453)


Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender National Help Center



National Center for Victims of Crime


National Council for Aging Care


National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges


National Network to End Domestic Violence


My own website lists hotline resources plus many shorter articles on relationship violence.


One Love Foundation

This organization is dedicated to ending teen relationship violence; it has an app-based survey and short video.


Twentieth Century Fox, 1991
HBO Documentary Films, 2013


Evan Stark
Oxford University Press, 2009
Martha Stout
Harmony, 2006

Violence against women — it’s a men’s issue

Why is it that, when we talk about sexual violence and domestic abuse, we talk about the women involved and erase the men from the conversation?

Jackson Katz: Violence against women — it’s a men’s issue

TED Blog

Culture Tedx  5/29/13

The end of sexual violence and domestic abuse?

A resource list of organizations working toward this.

Jackson KatzatTEDxFiDiWomen

In his TED talk, violence-prevention educator Jackson Katz explains why sentences like “Mary is a battered woman” are far more common than ones like “John beat Mary.” The takeaway of Katz’s talk: That we have to stop thinking of violence against women as a women’s issue. He urges men to look at the various institutions in society that help produce violent behavior, and to become leaders in calling out behavior that’s entwined with violence against women.

We asked Katz to compile a list of resources for those invigorated by the conversation on how we can shift cultural norms, as well as for those who want more information on organizations that tackle sexual violence and domestic abuse. Here, Katz’s incredibly comprehensive list.

Men’s organizations working to end violence against women, children and other men. Go to this link:

ReBuilding Trust after Infidelity

Here is the most recent request I’ve received. So many people are suffering after experiencing a loss of trust. Of all my talks on You Tube, about one-third of the views are on my re-building trust video.

Dear Heather,

I desperately need help. I came through your videos on youtube and was moved with your words. 

I need your handouts about Forgiveness and Rebuilding Trust. How can I have them?



The Five Steps to Forgiveness

Forgiveness Model

Forgiveness Guide Book

Forgiveness Guide Book