In this guest interview, we meet with Celeste Plumlee, The Program Director at The Live & Learn Organization. This is a nonprofit organization located in Phoenix, Arizona.
In this episode, Celeste and Iris help to break down generational myths behind Domestic Violence. This episode of packed full of information for your general knowledge but to also help spot if you or a loved one and/or friend is in a situation that is not healthy too.
1 in 4 women have reported Domestic Violence in the US and the same numbers are being reported in my home county here in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Often people think:
-That wouldn't happen to me
-I could leave
However, you will learn here that this happens systemically.
If you are looking for resources locally in Arizona, you can see the information below but also reach out to Live & Learn directly. Also, you don't have to live here to support the cause!
We also discuss the many ways you can support Live & Learn. If you would like to help this Organization, please contact Iris at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit them at https://liveandlearnaz.org/. You can find more information on how to support them financially and/or by attending their upcoming events.
Here you can find additional information about:
-Annual Fundraisers and Events
**Please Follow them on Instagram at @liveandlearnaz or on Facebook.**
Please support Domestic Violence Month in October!
NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by a free AI transcription tool called Otter. Please forgive any typos or errors.
Hello, and welcome to the Amber Stitt Show and I'm your host, Amber Stitt. Today we welcome back Iris Ortega and we welcome Celeste Lumley to our show for the first time. Welcome ladies, how are we doing today?
Iris and Celeste 0:25
Very well. Thank you.
Hi, Amber. Thank you.
All right, so, so focusing on the Community is the 5th step of my Pathway to Peak Performance framework. So I thought it'd be great to have my friends here today from Live & Learn to share a little bit about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I thought it'd be a good idea to dive a little bit deeper into the domestic violence conversation, because not only does it affect households in general, but specifically women and children in Arizona. So this topic is near and dear to our hearts in the month of October for Awareness Month, but it is more complex than just an awareness month so I thought it would be great for Celeste to really bring some backgrounds and facts so that we can have a more of a thoughtful mindset about what is happening and so we can be proactive and learn how we can help and bring resources to people that might need this help as well. So that being said, Celeste, I'm gonna pass the mic to you and let you share a little bit about yourself. And your background and how you help over at the Live & Learn Organization.
All right, thank you. So my background specifically, relates largely to my experiences as a survivor of domestic violence. A lot of my work. I'm a social worker, and a lot of my, path to getting involved in helping other people came from my experiences. And then I've done a lot of work with other survivors, prepping them for telling their stories and talking about domestic violence in the community. Because it's so important I think when those of us that have experienced that can add that added context of breaking some of the myths I think of what we think of as people who've experienced domestic violence or what it is and how we feel protected from it. I think, I think when it's easy to say, oh, that wouldn't Well, I wouldn't let that happen. No, I would Oh, yeah, my hit me here. I wouldn't. That wouldn't, that could never be me. Then we can separate ourselves from people that are experiencing it in a way that can really be a barrier to helping and healing as a society because there really is a social issue. We treat it like a personal issue when it is it's behind closed doors that happens within families. But it happens systemically you know and it happens because of our culture and our society. And so there is a responsibility I think that we play in really understanding what domestic violence is. And something like Domestic Violence Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to talk about I mean, the statistics are often shared 1 in 4 women in the United States and in Maricopa County have experienced domestic violence that they report and that they identify and then they will talk about and so there's a whole lot of violence that happens that we don't realize is domestic violence. Yeah, we don't say you know, check the box on the farm that says yes, we have experienced that. So even though one in four numbers is really underreported, you think about four women in your life that you care about, you know what I mean? And one of them right, you know, he's been through this. That's a lot. It's a big impact.
Well, hasn't it changed in the last couple of years? There is a there's been a lot happening post-COVID with this and then mental illness too. So it's certainly something that we just really need to be more thoughtful of. I think your helping women share their stories is very powerful. I know that when I went through IVF and fertility, people may talk about or they might not talk about it, but when I share about that, even with a lot of men in my industry, they'll share their stories because they've been affected too. So when you're able to do that when it's time when you feel that you're you can do that because it's not easy. It does. I think that snowball effect of that, not I don't want to say positive but it can really help people maybe take some action or participate and provide resources to people so I really appreciate you taking the time to do that because of you know, it's very personal for you.
And so I feel like you've mentioned a little bit, I almost feel like you're touching on kind of that generational poverty kind of that since you said something about systemic so I know Iris I'm gonna have you share a little bit. So for those of the audience that hasn't met Iris yet, in the first episode, where she shares a lot about Live & Learn and the organization, there is a big focus on breaking that cycle of generational poverty, but you can see where that could be also, another piece of this domestic violence situation so there's kind of a combined effort there that we really need to be helping others with. So, Iris, let's have you share a little bit about what you do at live and learn. And then we'll dive into more of the heavier topic with Celeste again.
Yeah, hi, I'm Iris Ortega, the Community Engagement Manager at Live & Learn and I love that you mentioned generational poverty. As you guys already might know, the mission is to Break the Cycle of Generational Poverty. That's a huge focus for us and definitely, and domestic violence is one of our main focuses.
And so I love that Philip is here to share with us and you know, for anybody that didn't get that initial intro to live and learn, I invite you guys to go back and listen to that first episode and learn more specifically about the difference between generational poverty and situational poverty. Thank you. Let's be perfect and I have the show notes and description boxes with some resources that will link up as we talked about some of the things that you guys do. I'll have the availability to share the URLs and then how people can get involved. So Celeste, I think would it be a good place to start just talking about kind of what you see as maybe the background kind of some history? And then ways that this is becoming, you know, has been a problem in Arizona? Yeah, so I think a lot of times when you think about domestic violence, we think about physical violence, right? And that's like you know, this outward manifestation, and that a lot of times people consider that well, it's not domestic violence is there if there isn't physical violence and the real core of domestic violence is power and control and it is one person having power and control over another. And so in an abusive dynamic, there is a person with power and control and a person without it.
And so, we might see it as like, Oh, it's a fight, you know, or it's just like mutual like they're just setting each other off and it's just this, you know, people do fight and that is dynamic in relationships that are not healthy but in domestic violence. Specifically, there's somebody who is using coercion and intimidation, blaming, crazy-making, you know, gaslighting and like doing everything they can to for this person, that they're that is their victim, to be helpless and just really have like, they kind of get their, their identity stripped away from them by the things that are important to them. Get to get separated from that, you know, relationships get broken, they get isolated from their families and start questioning like if they even understand, you know, reality, you know, I mean, in extreme cases, it gets to the point where like, wow, like a really, truly being just kind of beaten down into somebody who doesn't recognize what their choices might be, or it'd be really genuinely limited and where they can seek help. And so it's understanding that dynamic, I think that it was so important. You know, we think that oh, somebody who is you know, they grew up with domestic violence, or they have poor self-esteem and, you know, they're just, you know, like, perpetrators are looking around for somebody who was like, the most broken, saddest person in the room and that's who they like, pluck up to, like, destroy, you know, and it's really not the way that works. I mean, a lot of times, you know, if someone is really wanting to control somebody, then you know, they look for things like someone who is trusting, you know, a certain were vulnerable thinks that vulnerable. Yeah, absolutely. And we're taught especially as women like we're taught, think about the Beauty and the Beast story, which I like and you know, the cartoon and the musical and all that but like there's this idea that you can get through that like the rough exterior, you know, and then you can like believe in this. And you see in them, like their beauty and their light and like you want it you know, and so somebody can capitalize on that. Do you know what I mean? On that, like goodness in you, you know what I mean? And flip it around to make it like you're the one that's causing the problems. You're the abuser you're you know what I mean and everything gets all twisted up, and you're just like, I don't even know what's going on anymore, you know, that domestic violence does to somebody, you know, so, yeah, it's just so much more insidious than the anatomy of a fight to might look like.
And, and I think, understanding how hard it is to get out of that is really important. You know, that it's not easy to just walk away. It's like this pattern. I just, my brain is going we do all this. There's all these whether it's a book or podcasts or trying to build these healthier habits, so we do these things and we say to people, you can build a habit, just little steps and every day if you do something positive, your brain will get trained to do better. You're gonna be you're gonna evolve, you'll grow as a person, but what with what you're saying, What if the opposite is happening? We are there this person the abuser is training the person receiving this little every day, whatever it might be happening, it is training their brain to feel like they are not good enough and it's okay to be treated this way.
And you can see how that could just spiral can you share with us gaslighting? I know I've read the definition and I hear it a lot. But what is that? So if you could either share a story or explain it so that people if they're listening here and they're going oh my gosh they can identify if that's happening in their world today? Yeah. Oh my gosh, it's tricky. And I hear it used a lot when someone like disagrees, with you, you know what I mean? I mean, gaslit you know, like, no, it's actually more than just disagreeing. So it's when.
Like, if I'm going to just tell a personal story, I guess. I don't know if it's very vulnerable, but I will do this. So I was I experienced domestic violence 20 years ago. I left that relationship a long time ago. And it's still in my head right now with this guy for nine years and it's still definitely a part of my, you know, my waking reality, unfortunately, at times, and, but he would do this thing where like, you know, he would tell me, you know, every everybody thinks you're crazy, right? You know that right? And I'd be like, what? Like, I don't think so. Like, you know, and then he and then he, like, drop in something like Oh, well, I was talking to like my coworker and she was like, how like your girlfriend like she's really like, she's kind of crazy, right? She seems pretty weird. Like, I don't know why you're with her. And he would like to drop these things of like can tell me like what other people said about me and like just and it got to this point where I was like, I guess I'm crazy. Like wow, like I thought I really thought I was alright, but all these other people are saying this and he's saying this and like, it was like the only input I was getting was him like planting this idea. I mean, it's brainwashing, right? He's like, planting this idea in my head. And then suddenly, I was like, Okay, I guess Wow. And I just adopted that I believe that about myself. So that was being gaslit like I was being told something that wasn't true. With the intention of convincing me that it was. It wasn't just like a manipulation. Validating. It's a lie. It's a complete lie. The validating, oh, so and so said it. So a third party says it so it must be true. Yeah, and it's just it's that like the Yeah, it's replacing someone's reality with a different reality that they believe to be true because that's just everybody's swearing. Like the walls are gray. And they're like, Really, though, I mean, it could swear this way. Like, no, it's in there. Like, alright, I guess I don't understand what gray is then. That's okay. Well, it's interesting, like this was me this whole time, you know, and it's just in it. And that's a rough line that is so hard to get past is then like you're saying like you have to go in and like unlearn that you feel alone because all these people are saying this about you? And you're like, Okay, how do I bounce this off somebody else?
He's telling you everyone's saying this and it's not true, but you might believe that if it you hear it enough, so right and then where can you go because everybody thinks you're crazy?
Yeah. I recently, I recently told you about this book. I recently read invisible women. It talks a lot about just things that are designed from the beginning of time, whether it's infrastructure products, or how women are left out of the conversation of it. So I feel like Celestron you're talking about this? I feel like women tend to get this here emotionally. The reason I bring up the book is that they talk about back in medicine. hysterectomy is for a woman that's hysterical because it couldn't figure out at the time of science, why the things were happening in the female bottom body and the anatomy in the hormones.
This is from medieval times. I think it has stemmed from periods of time. So I appreciate you sharing that story. I think it's probably very it can be common and we have to be aware of it so that we can stand up for ourselves and make sure that we don't believe the wrong things. And so I appreciate that. I know that in Arizona, you guys so live and learn is based in Arizona. Celeste, when did you start working with them? Six months ago?
Okay, cool. Yeah. So I know that you had a domestic violence conversation. There was maybe Iris too if there's anything you wanted to share as far as the statistics or what's happening in these homes today and how you guys are helping women with facing some of these things that we're talking about.
The number one thing that we do at Live & Learn that is so powerful is our clients have self-determined goals, right? They come to us because they want to make a change in their life, right they want to expand their education, their career, you know, they want to create this life for their children that's different than what they've had.
And that economic freedom buys a lot of choices that they can then where they can access you know where they're living. where their kids go to school, you know, even career choices when their education is more advanced, that kind of thing. And so, with domestic violence in particular, like women can be, they might come to us in the middle of an abusive relationship that they don't even recognize as being abusive. They might be trying to get out. They might have come from it in the past. It might be something they haven't experienced. I mean, because of course it's not always part of you know, every woman's story, but I heard a story from one of my co-workers about a client who the whole time she was working with us and building her resume and I mean, in terms of like her work experience and saving money and learning all these things. She was preparing to leave an abusive relationship. We didn't even know that that wasn't part of like what she was here for hours. Exactly, but it absolutely wants to and so. So I think that kind of those opportunities for one step for one that women can make their choices about what they want to do where their passions are the direction they want to go for themselves. And then how much more opportunity they have in their lives to make their own decisions when they have that kind of independence. And so even in future relationships, even if they you know, end up meeting somebody and those red flags start going they're like,
Wait, this doesn't feel safe. Like there's a whole they have all their own resources, you know, that they've accumulated and that they know and that they're theirs, you know, and so they're just that vulnerability is reduced some there's still the, you know, the cultural components and things that are kind of transcend that but it still gives women the opportunity for more choices for themselves and to have that independence.
What I love about the program is that it is two-years and usually a two-year program right? Often because if you do clap classes are still important. If there's a way to take a class here and there. I know there are other organizations even locally too, that can help but sometimes one class or a couple of months is not enough time because there are so many things that could be changing. So that's one thing I do love about your program, but I feel like Celeste when you're talking I feel like you guys are giving confidence to people to really you're a third party validating this is not okay behavior.
So whether or not this person the client is sharing, hey, I'm planning to leave. It was almost like she didn't even have to I don't think because you guys were doing the work and helping her in so many other ways. Maybe that's why she didn't have to share it. Because you were giving them her the tools, the family the tools needed. That's really neat. Is there anything else you want to share about the program Iris? Yeah, what you guys are working on?
Well, we have a couple of things coming up that are really exciting. And I'll let Celeste share about that a little bit. But I do want to tell you this story about a woman that I worked with a couple of years ago when I started working there I was the cleaning coordinator at the time but her name was Jessica and Jessica came into the program just really wanted to get a degree in wanting to do better for her family.
As with most domestic violence survivors, they're not always open about what's going on, and or they might not feel safe or comfortable sharing.
We kind of identified early on that something was going on, but she was not ready and willing to share a time. Jessica worked with me for a while and about a year in she finally let us know that she was actually in a very abusive relationship. So she actually had decided to become a substance abuse counselor because her partner was a drug addict. And this was affecting her family, her children herself. And when she was halfway through the program, she finally decided to leave that relationship. And so it goes again to say to show that if you're there to support them through their journeys that they're setting, when they're ready, and they have the resources needed, they are able to get out of those situations. And Jessica at that point when she did leave our relationship ship she had the tools needed to leave and stay out of that relationship because she was financially self-sufficient at that point. Which we know to live and learn. And you know, it's known that you know, financial dependency is the main reason where we're why women stay in abusive relationships.
So it's really ya know, I love Jessica she recently reached back out she's actually moved to another state. She's working for a local nonprofit where she lives and doing amazing things. She has three small children, they're all doing great and she just said, You know what I was like, thank you and think live and learn for everything that you guys were able to support me with. And, you know, even though sometimes we might feel a little bit of frustration, right, like, I know something's going on. I want to help her I want to do why doesn't she leave? If we're there to support them? If we're there, right to help them through that, like Phillip mentioned their self-determined goals. They are able to make the choices that are best for them to get them to a better place for their themselves and their families. But I don't know if the left if you want to share a little bit about our new partner that we recently joined the coalition. Oh, great. Yeah. Let's hear it. Let's hear more about that. Yeah. So we became members. of the Arizona Coalition and sexual domestic violence, which is great, uh, personally, like I volunteered with them. I was on their board for a few years and did and most of the work I did with domestic violence survivors was through the coalition. And so it's really exciting that now that we've just become members and so it gives us additional resources as an agency in terms of access to the most.
Cutting Edge is quite the right word. This is what comes to mind but you know the leading thoughts and ideas around domestic violence and the work the advocacy spec Yeah, yeah. And so, so it's really cool. So we've got it just it's a fun partnership. We've got some grant money from the coalition. It's through. It's federal like COVID You know, frustration money and you know, that is going through the county to different programs that are helping people who are working with victims and survivors of domestic violence and so yeah, and I think it's just it's adding that elements, one thing that lives in them does that I think is so important, and I think about like I was talking about, you know, when is me believing that I was crazy, right? And then I really did not my understanding of reality was completely off. There was something about seeing other people, other women, living lives that were more like what I envisioned for myself, that helped me hear the voice in my head that was like, This guy is wrong about you. Like this is not what you deserve. Like this isn't like you the spirit of who you are is much greater than this. And so I think even with Live & Learn coming to like our events and being involved their clan coordinators, like our clients who might be experiencing someone holding that power and control over them, like we're modeling this, you know, independent Yeah, you know, free life of being free from that. And in we have no way of knowing really what that effect is on somebody that but by seeing that and by us living that and being that then and all the other clients you know that they might be around and other people they interact with through Live & Learn, like we can give that seed and we don't really talk about it like that, but I'm just thinking about my experiences and how much we might be giving hope to people that we don't even realize just by living the life that we're talking about you know, having access my brain is going hope and possibilities.
The community aspect, when I was putting together Pathways, it was really around COVID It's kind of like the collection of the greatest hits of all these things I was seeing happening around me, the network, if you so if we have a story to share, I feel like we need to share it because we never know what that's going to do for another person. Because if you can see someone that else that that's been there, there's possibilities there's that hope, then hopefully with a personal development kind of working through the program, or other resources too. But through like the coalition, I know they had some resources or toolboxes I saw some kids online, but that to hopefully have some you have the ability to step outside and kind of see that it is possible for you to do better and have more and so that is that's where our hope is. And that's part of the hope blooms theme too that we live in learn how so that's really powerful. It's really cool. Yeah, that's our tagline is hope with an action plan. And I love that so much because everybody talks about hope, hope, hope, but you know, we have to put some action behind it. And the reality is that the women that come to our program are determined to have a better future for themselves. And so they are willing to put in the action that is needed right and to do the steps that are necessary to get to where they want to be. And so we're incredibly blessed to be able to work with women that are so determined, and hardworking, and to get to see the impact and the change in their lives.
Yeah, okay, so it sounds like we have a few ways we have Live & Learn the organization itself. And Iris and I talk a little bit about hope blooms. So we'll be sharing more about that on social media. And then now with the advocacy of the coalition. The acronym Celeste is it was the acronym for the group that we live in learned just partnered with Oh, it's a c e SDV.
Arizona Coalition and sexual domestic violence. Okay. That's a long one. So we'll link that up too. So I am always happy to introduce people to the group. So the communities we're talking about, I know that I'm actively participating. And so there are I'll be sharing more things that I as I can through the podcast and on my social media to allow people to get a chance to advocate and help donate and do more. So I really appreciate you guys sharing some of the personal stories and can't wait to do more with you guys. So for the listeners, I appreciate you being here. And if you have any questions on how to get involved, you'll have resources or just reach out to me directly. So thank you so much for being here. Ladies. Thank you so much. For having appreciated it. Thanks. Thank you
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