Denise N. Massey

For Dorothy Gale of the Wizard of Oz, home is in Kansas. It is a safe place with Aunty Em where Toto can run and she can sleep safely in her bed at night. Whether it's the MGM televised version or the stage production of "The Wiz", Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz" impacts the lives of many people. It occurs to me how much Dorothy is like someone in an abusive relationship. Both are looking for a safe place to call home. Dorothy's discoveries can help better understand relationships in the cycle of domestic violence.

Just like real life, not everyone in Oz is pleasant; there are evil witches and flying monkeys. They appear to be great and powerful but are actually just false illusions in crystal balls. Abusers are the same. They like to present powerful, threatening images. Realistically, they are really out of control and trying everything they know, including abuse, to get control of you. Toto pulls the curtain away and Dorothy looks closer at the "great and powerful Wizard of Oz". What she sees is just a man, weak and afraid. If you look closer, you may see the same flaws in an abuser -- jealousy, anger, violence, lies, and fear.

Dorothy has several friends that support her during her journey through Oz - the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion. These friends are each looking for something. By journeying together, each friend finds intelligence, love, and courage. You, too, can be supported by friends who are looking for peace in their lives. Share yourself in support groups where building confidence and self-esteem helps face the world of "lions, tigers, and bears".

From the yellow brick road, through the haunted forest, and back home to Kansas, Dorothy is followed in Oz by a higher power. Dorothy's grace is Glenda, the Good Witch of the North. You, too, have a higher power like Glenda. Recognize this higher power, invite it into your life, and accept the healing it will bring. You might not cross many poppy fields. But when things look worst, there is nothing more refreshing than a light shower of bright, sprinkling light.

The most important thing Dorothy discovers in Oz is herself and the power she has to change her life. You have this power, too. While Dorothy's ruby slippers are the symbol for her power, the actual magic happens when Dorothy begins to believe SHE holds the key to her destiny. This is so true for people in domestic violence. How many times have you been told that there is a safe place called home just waiting for you but you didn't believe it could happen. It can happen as long as you are willing to believe in yourself and agree that you have the power to be safe and secure. Just click your heels three times.

Stories are great and they can help understand many of life's problems. But, Oz doesn't exist in reality and neither do magical ruby slippers. Still, the power to change your life is very real. To help remember Dorothy and remind me of the power inside myself, I wear red socks instead of ruby slippers. Anywhere, anytime, I can click my heels three times and seek a safer, more peaceful, loving home and relationship.

Believe in fantasy or seek out reality, each of us makes their own choice whether to follow the yellow-brick road. For me, I think I'll wear more red socks.

One of the first steps in stopping abuse is to stop the cycle of abuse. This means that one must be able to recognize that things can change. Yet, change is often difficult and hard work. Like a well-worn record, it is very easy to slip back into the established grooves of life. When establishing a new style, it is important to exercise your mind to recognize other options. Try out the variety in the following fairy tales to help encourage you to think beyond accepted patterns. See if you can add a new twist to your favorite story, whether it's myth or reality.

What would have happened if Little Billy Goat Gruff crossed the bridge and his brothers stayed behind? Let's say Billy's brothers were too afraid to cross the bridge despite his urgings that the grass was much sweeter and life was much better on the other side. Billy has already proven that the troll can be beat and life is fuller on the other side of the bridge. But, he cannot force his brothers to trip down the same path as he. Remember, you, too, cannot force people to choose a better life, they have to make that decision on their own. Just go "trip, trippety, trip" across your own bridge and hope that others will follow.

Have you ever been called ugly or stupid just because you were different? Maybe you, like the Ugly Duckling, are not just a regular duck, but a swan in waiting. Because he was different, his family and acquaintances ridiculed him and eventually drove him away. When a victim of abuse decides to change their life, they will find many familiar ducklings beginning to throw stones and ridiculing the increasingly obvious differences. Just remember that, you, like the Ugly Duckling, will grow into a beautiful swan. Out of a trying and often ugly history, a graceful swan can emerge. Because ugly is in the eyes of the beholder, it, too, can be a compliment.

Did you ever think about what would have happened to the three little pigs if they didn't cook the wolf when he fell down the chimney? Would they have been holed up in that brick house forever? As you will remember, each little pig built a house of stronger construction material, until the third little pig is able to construct a house of bricks and keep the big, bad wolf from hurting him. Likewise, abuse victims build walls of even stronger material to avoid being hurt. What the third pig failed to recognize, however, was that he kept everything else that was good in the world outside, too. Little pigs, learn to construct windows to see the world and be able to determine when it's safe to come out. Recognize your cleverness to avoid the pig, don't imprison yourself on his behalf.

What would have happened if Little Red Riding Hood had recognized the wolf? Would he have eaten her or would she have gotten away? The first question should be how Riding Hood would be able to recognize the wolf to begin with. Victims of abuse often go through life with blinders on like Riding Hood's red cape. Never taking time to take a better look until they are too close, they often get bit. Take a better look - look for the too large teeth, eyes, and ears. Sniff around for the smell of other victims. Seek out the woodsman for protection before going to visit.