Domestic Violence Awareness – Part Two

October 2, 2015

Yesterday we featured part one of this series. If you missed it, please click here to read it before progressing here with our domestic violence article. 

J – If a woman has to leave, what resources are available for her?

L – Our agency offers emergency shelter for up to three months, where there is no financial cost associated with being in the shelter. We will talk with her about what she would like to see happen. If she needs to relocate, then my agency pays for a bus or train ticket.

If there is anything else that the individual needs, we will look for resources to cover the cost. If the lady would like to stay in the area, she can work with the Shelter Manager on creating a resume and looking for gainful employment.

When a woman decides to leave that can be the most dangerous time for her. So we safety plan with her and talk about modifying her schedule, changing routines and passwords to emails, phones and other devices.

Domestic Violence Awareness 1

J – What happens to the attacker, and what options are there to keep a victim safe?

L – This depends on the situation. If law enforcement was contacted, the batterer could be arrested. If not, the victim still has the option of going to the magistrate’s office and obtaining the charges on her own.

There is the option of going to court to request a Preliminary Protective Order, which if granted will last 15 days. Then there will be another court date for a Permanent Protective Order, where both the victim and batterer are present at court. This order can be as long as two years. There are also batterer intervention groups that batterers could be ordered to attend.

J – How is success measured?

L – Success is very individualized. Each person gets to decide what they feel is successful for them and their family. For one person it may be leaving the relationship, establishing independence and locating self-sufficient housing. For another it may be staying with their partner after the batterer completed a batterers’ intervention program.

For our shelter we have a less than 2% recidivism rate. People think that it is a pattern for victims, and that is not necessarily true.

J – I know this is a difficult question, but have you seen unsuccessful cases?

L – Unfortunately, we have had homicides in Bedford that were a direct result of domestic violence. In some of the cases, it was out of the blue and none of us saw it coming.

There was one client that had filed charges, obtained a Protective Order and even moved out of the locality. So, on paper, she “did everything she should have”, but that still did not stop her batterer from killing her.

I try and look at each case and give it the respect it deserves, which means that each lady I work with has the potential to be murdered. Knowing that, I attempt to do all that I can to ensure that I have provided all the information and referrals and thought the case through every scenario that I could.

I like to think that one day my job will no longer be needed, but it is a beautiful idea that will not come to fruition.

Domestic Violence Awareness 4

J – What about recovery and the future?

L – It is important to know is that it is absolutely possible to recover and become stronger. When a person is in an abusive relationship that seems like such a foreign concept, but it is possible.


Need help? We urge you to call one of these free, confidential 24-hour hotlines below. If you have questions or find yourself in immediate need, there are trained people in place to help, and you can remain anonymous if you wish.

·      National Hotline – (800) 799-7233,

·      Bedford – BDVS (540) 587-0970,

·      Lynchburg – YWCA (888) 528-1041

·      Roanoke – TAP (540) 580-0775,

·      Roanoke – Turning Point (540) 345-0400,

Domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse. It can take on many other forms.

·      verbal abuse

·      financial abuse

·      sexual abuse

·      economic abuse

·      use of coercion and threats

·      intimidation

·      isolation

·      minimizing

·      denying

·      blaming

If you have a friend you know or suspect needs help, here are tips on how you can help.

·      Let your friend know that you are there to help (and possibly that you suspect  she is in a difficult situation).

·      Allow your friend to talk when she is ready.

·      Listen.

·      Be familiar with local resources that can be helpful.

·      Show kindness and support.

Want to jump in and support Domestic Violence Prevention Month? Join us for this year’s Onetober project! Each day during the month of October, commit to wearing something purple. Whether you decide to wear the same scarf each day or choose to mix it up and wear a different item every day, be sure to use #onetober so we can see what you are up to! Feel free to also use our new #clutchinspires to bring awareness. Let’s join in this fight and spread awareness together!

Domestic Violence Awareness Onetober


Domestic Violence Awareness – Part One

October 1, 2015

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it is also our Onetober focus this year. Please join us in wearing purple each day during the month of October, and find out more here

Autumn’s arrival brings cooler temperatures, which causes us to retreat indoors. Evenings spent on the deck are traded for cozy nights taking in a movie or binge-watching our favorite Netflix series. No matter the genre of choice – comedy, drama or documentary – the scenarios presented on the screen often remain in our minds. We chuckle days later when recalling a funny sequence, or we are haunted by lingering uneasiness after seeing portrayed moments of peril.

Movies such as Sleeping with the Enemy, Enough and The Burning Bed are of the latter type. If you are unfamiliar with these films, they cover the topic of domestic violence – a subject that offers a feeling of relief for the viewer once the movie finally ends and we can turn away from the graphic images. The lead actresses in those films – Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez and Farrah Fawcett – heard the word “cut” and were able to stop acting and return to a safe, secure environment.

Unfortunately, for many area women (and men), there is no promise of an ending when it comes to the topic of domestic violence. Daily living it, there is no liberation or option to turn away. And it’s time for that to stop.

October is a fitting time to bring light to this topic as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1981 designated October as a month of unity. Taking cues from the military’s Purple Heart honoring those who were wounded while serving, the color purple was chosen to be a symbol of peace, courage, survival, honor and dedication to ending the violence.

There are many local agencies dedicated to that symbolism, one of those being Bedford Domestic Violence Services (BDVS). Spreading the word about their programs through events such as CenterFest and by specially designated purple law enforcement cars, they are raising awareness by being proactive.

The Director of BDVS, L. Leanne Dudley, MSW has worked at the agency for over 14 years. After serving as a relief worker at the shelter, she decided to invest in their programs full time. “My mother worked for Bedford Department of Social Services for the majority of my life, so it felt like a natural progression for me to be involved with a human service agency. I was offered the position of Shelter Manager and over the years worked my way up until I became the Director almost five years ago.”

Domestic Violence Awareness 3

Having years of experience and a heart for helping local victims, Leanne answered our questions about domestic violence, steps to take and how to help others in need.

J – What is the definition of domestic violence?

L – Domestic violence is an intentional pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual to exert power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship.

J – Why is this an issue that victims tend to cover up and/or not seek help with?

L – This is a very scary and embarrassing situation. Domestic violence tends to not occur on the first date; it happens slowly over time. While we as a society have come a long way in the movement to bring the cause into the light and provide safeguards for those affected, it is still underreported.

This goes back to the victims knowing their batterer far better than any of us. What my staff and I know are the dynamics and probabilities of what a batterer may do, but our clients are the experts on their family.

Domestic Violence Awareness 2

J – When should a victim seek help?

L – When they feel they can. It is easy for me to say from my safe office that victims should contact my agency immediately, but that is not always an option. I would want a woman in this situation to know that there are agencies out there that will support them and not tell them what they need to do but rather provide them with education and options.

When they call a hotline, they do not need to provide any identifiable information. They can call to talk about what is going on and create a support system for them so they can take that next step.

A lot of the women are not sure if what they are experiencing is domestic violence. We take that moment to engage with the caller and gather more information about their situation. There may not be any physical violence yet, but there may be other things such as verbal or economic abuse.

J – After a victim contacts the hotline, what is the next step?

L – It is up to them where we go from there. We are about self-determination and empowering clients to take whatever steps would be best to maintain their safety. Each person has their own special and unique needs, and it is the job of my staff and myself to help that person down whichever direction they choose to take [obtaining Protective Orders, entering a shelter, counseling and/or relocation]. We want to help individuals and be a support system, not create additional stress.

Bedford Domestic Violence Services is available to help answer questions and also aid victims if and when they are ready and at the comfort level of the client. Here are their statistics from the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

·      hotline calls – 5120 answered

·      walk-in center – assisted 276 clients

·      emergency shelter – provided 754 nights of emergency shelter

·      court hearings – attended 332 hearings

·      victims – 90% female, 10% male

·      provided aid to more than 100 children

Need help? We urge you to call one of these free, confidential 24-hour hotlines below. If you have questions or find yourself in immediate need, there are trained people in place to help, and you can remain anonymous if you wish.

·      National Hotline – (800) 799-7233,

·      Bedford – BDVS (540) 587-0970,

·      Lynchburg – YWCA (888) 528-1041

·      Roanoke – TAP (540) 580-0775,

·      Roanoke – Turning Point (540) 345-0400,

Want to jump in and support Domestic Violence Prevention Month? Join us for this year’s Onetober project! Each day during the month of October, commit to wearing something purple. Whether you decide to wear the same scarf each day or choose to mix it up and wear a different item every day, be sure to use #onetober so we can see what you are up to! Feel free to also use our new #clutchinspires to bring awareness. Let’s join in this fight and spread awareness together!

Domestic Violence Awareness Onetober

Craving more? Be sure to stay tuned for the second part in our series. 



Living with Arthritis

April 20, 2015

Several years ago, the pain in my hips was so bad, I couldn’t sit or stand for long periods of time. I never slept through the night; all pain killers lasted no more than 4 hours – even the ones that claimed to work for 12. Searing hip pain would wake me up every night.

I finally caved in and went to the doctor to seek an answer, but I told him outright that I didn’t want any narcotics. I wanted to sleep at night, not through the whole day. I had been to see him a few years earlier when the osteoarthritis reared its ugly head for the first time. The base of my thumb was frequently painful, not just from overuse. He told me it was arthritis and recommended over-the-counter painkillers, which also double as anti-inflammatories, and they pretty much did the trick.

But a few years later, my feet and my hips started to hurt. The doctor said there were a number of prescription, non-narcotic painkillers specifically targeted to arthritis. He said we could start with one and see how it did. The first anti-inflammatory analgesic I tried, Mobic, worked well, but left me groggy during the day, so he lowered my dosage. I was finally able to sleep through the night.

Then he gave me the best advice I’d been given about my arithritis – MOVE! He said to walk for at least 20 minutes every day, even if my feet and hips hurt. He said if I kept walking, the pain would eventually lessen.

And he was right. At first, my feet balked at the distances I was walking, but then I started to wear shoes with more cushioning, which helped. I started with 20-minute walks, gradually increasing my time and distance. Now I add stairs (think Monument Terrace) and hills (the Hill City anyone?) to my daily walks. In September, I walked the 4 Miler race at the Virginia Ten Miler. I wasn’t attempting any land-speed records, but I was proud to complete the four-mile course.

In addition to walking, I started swimming, which also benefited my lungs. This summer, I took a racquetball clinic and played for two hours every week. Since then, I’ve played intermittently. Aside from running into the wall on occasion, I have had no injuries from the game. This fall, I started taking a yoga class. The teacher offers “cheats,” in the form of foam blocks, to keep participants from hurting anything, or falling over.

Learn to listen to your body – press yourself to do more and go farther, but don’t risk injury. If the pain is excruciating, and worse than usual, you probably shouldn’t do it. I’ve found some pretzel-like yoga poses to be too painful for my hips and knees, so I modify them, but I still do a variation of the poses to help increase my strength and flexibility.

photo by Crystal George Studios

photo by Crystal George Studios

There are so many options to modify the pain of arthritis. No one should have to live with it. Talk to your doctor and see what he or she suggests.

  • Arthritis is not a single disease, but a cluster of symptoms related to the joints. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which is found in more women than men.
  • Typically, symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. It is often found in adults and the symptoms increase with age, but children can also suffer from it. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in adults over the age of 55.
  • Cartilage sits on the ends of your bones to keep them from touching or grinding against each other. Osteoarthritis, which can be the result of repetitive actions, injury, genetics, obesity, or infection, causes the cartilage to break down.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the following therapies may ease symptoms:

  • balancing activity with rest
  • using hot and cold therapies
  • regular physical activity
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support
  • using assistive devices
  • taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines
  • avoiding excessive repetitive movements

~ Deirdre Serio

Making Your Own Deodorant (It’s Easy, Inexpensive and It WORKS!)

April 5, 2015

I’m someone who likes to eat healthy and is relatively concerned about what I put on my body. I also recycle and try to live responsibly. I wouldn’t call myself a tree hugger, and I wouldn’t necessarily peruse a Paleo or gluten-free menu. I definitely have made some interesting strides over the past year or so that I wanted to share with you. One in particular… deodorant.

Now I know that talking about smells isn’t the most fun, but they make antiperspirant for a reason, right? So we can at least admit that someone out there just might have an issue with sweat or less than fresh armpits. For me, when I was about 13 I started to notice a change and that I needed to start to wear a little something to increase my personal hygiene.

Homemade Deodorant Recipe

Well, I do have to say that I have been using that pore clogging substance on my underarms for DECADES, which was a little scary to me when all of the research came out about breast cancer potentially being linked to the aluminum that is in antiperspirants. So, I decided to make a switch.

I first started using a rock salt, which worked well, yet it needed to be applied a few times a day (and I was always self conscious about how well it was really working). Also, the salt stung a bit after I shaved, and sometimes the rock itself would have rough spots on it that would make my underarms raw… ouch! I then tried the rock salt spray, which worked ok, but then I started to use antiperspirant once again for a confidence boost. Hmmmm…

So, last fall, I started thinking yet again about what I was putting on my body and the potential harm it was doing and how I could maybe try to make a change again. I did a lot of online research (and also asked a few questions!) and found that Primal Pit Paste was quite possibly the answer. It was easily found at our local health food store for around $10 a pot, so I gave it a try.

Now, mind you, it is more of a lotion (although not liquidy in the least) that you can apply to your armpits either with an applicator or your fingertips (it’s so much easier that way), and it worked great… it really did! But then I had a look at the ingredients: coconut oil, a baking soda like substance and some essential oils. My mind’s wheels started churning. I had all that I needed at home! I stock coconut oil for a variety of beauty and cooking reasons, and baking soda is a staple. I also happened to have some lavender essential oil just sitting around unused, so… I decided to venture out on my own and make my own deodorant. Really!

Months later, I am still making my homemade deodorant and walking around confidently all day long. It really does work, and I also feel that I am doing something better for my body rather than plugging up my pores.

I am a runner. I do have to admit that I’m not 100% fresh after a good run, but I am always headed home to shower after a run, so I figure that is ok (and I don’t smell horrible, but I would just say that I am more self-conscious about it).

Ok, on to my super easy recipe!


  • equal amounts of coconut oil and baking soda (this depends on the size of your container, but I would say anywhere between 2 tablespoons each for a small batch or 1/4 cup each for a larger batch)
  • essential oil in your favorite scent

Clutch - Homemade Deodorant


  • Put your coconut oil into a microwave safe dish and microwave it to melt it because it is a solid at room temperature (I would start at 15 seconds and then do 10 second intervals after that because it melts easily).
  • After your oil is melted, add the baking soda and essential oil and stir (use as much or as little essential oil as you would like… I am usually fairly generous with my 10-12 drops for a larger batch).

Clutch - Make Your Own Deodorant

  • Transfer the liquid into the container that you will use for storage (here I used an empty bareMinerals tub to have enough deodorant for travel).

Safe Natural Deodorant Recipe - Clutch Natural Deodorant Recipe - ClutchHomemade Deodorant - Clutch

  • Either allow the deodorant to harden by leaving it in a safe place where it will not spill OR by putting it in the refrigerator.
  • Stir the deodorant every once in a while so that the baking soda does not settle into the bottom of the jar (you will have to do this more often if you place it into the fridge because it will harden more quickly).

Clutch - Coconut Oil Deodorant


  • For me, I prefer to just use my fingertips. If I am being completely honest and not doing this for “looks” for my blog, I actually make a small bowl of the deodorant and leave it on my vanity with a tiny spoon inside of it. I take the spoon and scoop a little bit out of it (I would say a half tablespoon) to use each morning.
  • Take a small amount (again, a half tablespoon, or whatever is right for you), and rub your fingertips together to melt the deodorant. The oil will melt, and you will feel the baking soda as tiny granules in your hands.
  • Once it is melted, just apply with your fingertips to your underarms in a circular motion. I would BE CAREFUL to only wear your undergarments when doing this so that the oil can soak into your skin and not get on your clothing. Also, allow for a few minutes until you get dressed so that you do not end up with oil on your clothes (this doesn’t happen often to me as the oil soaks into the skin really well).
  • After you are done putting the deodorant on your armpits, just rub the remaining oil into your hands… the oil moisturizes and the baking soda acts like a light exfoliant. I always just rinse my hands to get the baking soda off, and I do not use soap so that the oil stays on. It’s a bonus to end up with exfoliated, smooth hands afterwards!

Well, that’s it. My super inexpensive, at the ready (really, just purchase the ingredients to have on hand), safe deodorant. Feel free to ask me questions, express opinions or just share your experiences. I would love to hear it all!