Jennifer Ramirez: Tips to Help Women Overcome Abuse and Empower Themselves

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Episode Description

WARNING: This episode might be triggering for anyone who has experienced or is trying to heal from domestic violence, sexual abuse, financial abuse or any type of intimate partner abuse. Listener discretion is advised.

Domestic violence doesn't happen the way most people assume it does. Relationships don't start out being abusive. They start out with one person showering the other with love and affection.  It's not until later - sometimes years later  - that the relationship takes an abusive turn.

What's more, domestic violence doesn't only happen among the poor and uneducated. Women from all walks of life, all races, creeds, socioeconomic and educational levels fall prey to domestic violence.

Because of the sexual, physical, and financial abuse she suffered during her lifetime Jennifer Ramirez started &Rise, a non-profit organization to empower women to rise above their adversities and embrace their authentic selves.

In this podcast episode Jennifer shares her personal journey and provides insightful advice on navigating relationships, spotting red flags, and finding a safe way to leave an abusive relationship.

Show Notes

National Domestic Violence Hotline


About Jennifer

Jennifer Ramirez is an author, entrepreneur, trauma life coach, reiki practitioner, and speaker that is passionate about helping women live their best lives. She is the Founder of the nonprofit organization, &Rise, whose mission is to empower women to be the ultimate versions of themselves no matter their adversities.  Jennifer has years of experience working with survivors and provides trauma-informed care to those she works with. Jennifer is a passionate advocate for all women and offers prevention education to help empower and educate women on healthy relationships, red flags, and healthy coping skills.

Connect with Jennifer

You can find Jennifer on Facebook at Women Rise Chicago, on LinkedIn at &Rise, on Instagram at &Rise, and on TikTok at &Rise.  You can also find out more about Jennifer and &Rise at Women Rise Chicago and the best way to contact Jennifer is at [email protected].

Key Takeaways From This Episode with Jennifer Ramirez

  • Jennifer is the founder of &RISE, a nonprofit helping women survivors of trauma become empowered. They provide counseling, support groups, workshops, career development and more.
  • Abuse happens to women of all backgrounds - it is not limited to any particular socioeconomic group. Many suffer in silence due to shame.
  • Abusers slowly gain control over time through emotional and verbal abuse first before escalating to physical abuse. It's important for women to recognize the signs and make steps to get out when it starts impacting their self-worth.
  • When leaving an abusive relationship, safety planning is critical - having a plan, money saved up, important documents, and emergency contacts. The time after leaving is the most dangerous.
  • Seeking counseling can help prevent getting into another abusive relationship. Becoming self-aware of patterns and warning signs is key.
  • Trust your intuition - if something feels off, pay attention. Go slowly in new relationships and watch for red flags like love bombing, lies, and speaking poorly of others.
  • Healing takes work but you can get to a positive place. Make the choice to improve yourself. Give yourself grace. Trust yourself more over time.
  • Spread awareness of organizations like &RISE that help women rebuild their lives after trauma. Donate or attend events if you can.
  • Do you like what you've heard? 

    Share the love so more people can benefit from this episode too!


    Tips to Help Any Woman Overcome Abuse and Empower Themselves

    Jennifer Ramirez


    abuse, coping skills, safety plan


    Karen Covy, Jennifer Ramirez

    Karen Covy Host00:10

    Hello and welcome to Off the Fence, a podcast where we deconstruct difficult decision making so we can discover what keeps us stuck and, more importantly, how we can get unstuck and start making even tough decisions with confidence. I'm your host, Karen Covey, a former divorce lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, turned coach, author and entrepreneur. And now, without further ado, let's get on with the show with me today, it is my pleasure to have Jennifer Ramirez. Jennifer is an author, entrepreneur, trauma life coach, reiki practitioner and speaker who's passionate about helping women live their best lives. She's the founder of the nonprofit organization &RISE, whose mission is to empower women to be the ultimate versions of themselves, no matter their adversities. Jennifer has years of experience working with survivors of domestic violence and provides trauma informed care to those she works with. Jennifer is a passionate advocate for all women and offers prevention education to help empower and educate women on healthy relationships, red flags and healthy coping skills. And who couldn't use all of that so? Jennifer welcome to the show.

    Jennifer Ramirez


    Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

    Karen Covy

    It is my pleasure. I'm so excited for our conversation because I think it's going to be a really important one, and you're the founder and executive director of &RISE. I want to start by asking you what is that organization, what's it all about and what does it do?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest01:52

    So to give you a little bit of insight on the logo, so the ampersand and the and means your stories and over. Yet there's more to tell on. The rise means rising above any adversities that you face. So it's not just a pretty logo, is something, it means something.


    So we work with a lot of women from all different walks of life, color, backgrounds, socioeconomic status, race, and you know, the common denominator between a lot of these women is that they're trauma survivors of some sort. The majority of the women we work with are sexual and domestic abuse survivors, but we also get women that have gone through religious abuse, cult abuse, sex trafficking, different types of trauma. So we offer free counseling, free support groups. We do a lot of educational workshops that teach, like you said, healthy coping skills. Red flags, you know. We do orders of protection workshops so that women understand their, their rights and can advocate for themselves in the court system, so that they actually know what the rules are. And then we also do financial education and we offer career development. So we help with resumes and mock interviewing skills and, yeah, we do just a lot of great things to help women kind of heal and thrive after trauma and abuse and helping them be that best version of themselves, no matter what they've been through in the past.

    Karen Covy Host03:13

    That's amazing. But and there's so much there that I want to dive in and ask you about and but the first question that comes to mind you said you help women from all walks of life. What kind of woman is the kind of person who is likely to be abused?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest03:30

    Believe it or not, there's no. There is no like. Oh, there's a common misconception that only women, you know, that don't have money or poor, poor people go through domestic violence, and that is absolutely not true. We've worked with lawyers, we've worked with doctors, nurses, all types of women from different you know, that have master's degrees and doctor's degrees that still go through this. So this is just proof that you know, like abuse, no, is no color, shape, size, you know, or anything like that. It happens everywhere.


    It's just a lot of people don't really talk about it, so we don't really know. So that's where that misconception comes from. So we can be, we work with all different types of women. You know, it's very, very it's like a big melting pot of like who we see coming in. So it's not just like white women or Hispanic or black, you know, we see everybody and, like I said, some people don't have high school diplomas and some have doctorates and like master's degrees, you know, and make a lot of money and some don't, you know. So it's just it's very different, it's very mixed, that's.

    Karen Covy Host04:31

    I think that's a really important message for women to hear, because when you're in that situation, when you are the victim of abuse, you number one, feel very alone, like, and very ashamed, because you always assume. Everyone that I've ever talked to, who works in this field or who has been a victim themselves, says a similar thing, which is that you know they were ashamed to let anyone know they didn't think you know it's like how could I have let this happen to me? So what would you say to the women who are out there or maybe too ashamed to step forward and go get help?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest05:10

    Yeah. So that is just the first thing I'll say. You are not alone. I know what it's like to feel like that feels just embarrassed and like not wanting to tell anybody because it's like, wow, how dumb can I be? It's the things we say to ourselves. But I also like to tell women that we're not dumb and abuse isn't.


    It doesn't happen right away, it happens over time. So, for example, the guy's not going to go and I'm talking about guys because I work with women but abuse it can be a woman or a man. He's not going to go, punch you in the face and start calling your names. You're first the first date, right, because if you did, you would never see him again right, most of us at least. So they, it progresses. You know they start with like love bombing you know, my gosh, it's the most amazing things and they want to marry you. You're the best woman and the best thing ever. And then you're like, oh my gosh, you know I am so lucky to have met this person.


    And then, over time, the abuse slowly starts to happen and it happens with, like, usually emotional abuse and verbal abuse first, and then it slowly goes into physical abuse and things like that. So a lot of women get into it like, but what I should have known better? But it's like you didn't know because it didn't just start off like that and by the time these women kind of realized that they're in this situation now. Now it's like been a long time in. You know, now they're in love with this person, they might have kids, they're married, have houses together, things like that you know. So then it's even harder to go. So I will say that that you know, and it's never too late to make a different decision, you know, and obviously if physical abuse is involved, you have to be really careful of how you get out. You can't just get up and be like see you later, especially if there's physical abuse, because that can, you know, put them in really like a high amount of danger.


    But yeah, I would just start with that is just like just remembering that the abuse was subtle. You know they're kind of tricky you into it. You know that's what happened to me too. It didn't just start out like that. My abuse and my last abusive relationship wasn't really abusive till the second year. That's when it got really bad. And then the like third year after was really really bad, so it didn't. And there's some people that I know, like where the abuse didn't happen for like 10 years. Then you know so like it's not, like it always just happens right away. And you know so. As long as you realize what's happening and then start making steps to get out of that and start working on yourself and that type of stuff, that's what matters. It's never too late, you know, to get out.

    Karen Covy Host07:30

    Yeah, you mentioned. You know your own abuse and the things that you have lived through. Would you mind sharing your story for people?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest07:37

    Sure. So I went through childhood sexual abuse from my dad. I was there when I was seven years old and that's kind of what started all of my abuse, you know, into other things. So grew up being told keep it a secret, don't tell anyone. And then also, when the family found out, nobody believed us. Everybody believed my father, who denied it still to this day denies it.


    And then you know, when you grew up that way, you know sexual abuse is a very, very like, deep, deeply ingrained abuse. That like can sometimes last a long time and there are still things that I struggle with with it. I've worked through a lot of my own stuff, but you know it's very deep and you know there's a ton of guilt and shame, you know, associated with that too. So then you grew up thinking your voice doesn't matter. You know you're only good for your body. You know that's what you start to think. I know I can speak for myself at least. So you just think that like well, all I'm good for is just like having sex with people. And then you start to like, you know, get into that. And until you start, I don't know, until you start to realize that like wait, this isn't me. This isn't who I want to be. Why am I doing this? That's what happened with me. I'm like why am I choosing these type of guys? Why am I letting them treat me like this? You know, like. And then, yeah, like it took me a really long time to get there, though, where I was just like. I deserve better than this. I don't deserve to be like this, you know and that was with my last abuser like, just, it just finally clicked.


    One day we got into a really bad fight, and you know, he was just. He had started the fight, he it did turn physical, but then, because I was the one, I call it reactive abuse. So basically, he's reacting, I'm reacting to his abuse. So, like, I hit him, but instead of you know him being like I shouldn't have done that to you, he was like, oh my god, look what you did, look what you did. You know, like he blamed it on me.


    So then I started to really think, and he was also very narcissistic, so I used to always believe all the lies that he would tell me to guess, let me like crazy and be like. You see, it is you, it's you, it's your crazy. Look at you and like every time I thought, like am I going crazy? Is something wrong? Maybe he's right. I really started to believe like I probably am not really a great person, because this man's never happy, no matter what I do, there's always a complaint. I can never do it right. So I really did start to believe all the lies that he was telling me about myself, until one day it's just like I said I had a life-al moment. I was like no, he's the crazy one. He can't like keep a job, he doesn't help me. Like I'm over here doing everything and this is not right. Like how did I get into this situation? Like I have a grown man child and I was like I never signed up for this. You know so anyway. So that's a very, very quick overview of my story.


    It's taken a whole long time to get here and a lot of work and a lot of counseling and a lot of like just healing work, and that's why I teach women how to heal and work through just different things.


    You know, like I said, I've been through sexual and domestic abuse, so I know what it's like to feel like you're just always going to be sad, you're always going to be miserable, you're always going to be depressed, like there's no hope. You know, you get into this place where you just feel like, how am I ever going to get over this? You know, and I know that it can feel like you're going to be stuck there forever. But if you just really make the choice to work on yourself and to work through your healing, no matter how hard it is, you can come on the other side of it. You know, and it's not something that happens overnight, it's something that's very intentional and takes a lot of effort, but it is worth it. When you do that work, you know, and to say that you've overcome something so terrible is a really huge accomplishment, and a lot of women have done it, and that's why I'm here to share my story very openly and to let them know that it can be done, even though it's tough, you know.

    Karen Covy Host11:10

    Yeah, I know that a lot of women who are in an abusive relationship they try to get out and then they go back. And then they try to get out and then they go back. How? What would you just say to somebody like that? What can they do to finally get the confidence to break free?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest11:30

    So there is. This is a tough one because you know a lot of the times they're going back because they're going through love bombing, right. There's a cycle of abuse. You know the abuse and then you know, like the whatever, the manipulation, and then it goes down to I'm so sorry, I'll do whatever you want, I'll never do it again. And then they do it again. And then you know you do the cycle. Then you fight again and then they promise they'll never do it. So you do it.


    So I always tell women I want you to really think about, like what you deserve. And I also tell them write yourself a letter and or write a list and say the things that will never tolerate again, or another list can be things that I want out of a partner, the things that I know I deserve. And once they write those things down, they're like whoa, it's almost like a punch in the gut where they're like, oh like, I want this for myself. So why am I allowing somebody else to treat me completely opposite of this? And I tell them I'm like, and if you, you know you see yourself kind of going back into it, look at your list, keep it nearby you so that you can look to see the things that you wrote down.


    I didn't write them down for you. Those were all things you wrote from your heart that you know you deserve, and you know there's probably deeper work to do if you keep going back and just like falling into the trap of you know. A lot of the times, too, it is that these guys are promising the world you know, I'll do this, I won't do that, I'll go to AA, I'll go to counseling, you know, and they might go once or twice, you know, but you have to. Just, I always tell people to remember to not just listen to the words but listen to the act, watch the action, because if anybody could say, I'm going to do whatever you want, but, like, at the end of the day, are they actually doing what they say they're going?


    to do you know and not just tricking you, because a lot of people say, sure, I'll go to counseling and then they'll go one or two times and be like but I went, I tried, and then try to like, use that against you. You know as well.

    Karen Covy Host13:13

    Yeah, you mentioned before the importance of especially if there's physical violence involved of having a plan that you can't just walk out the door and say, okay, bye. You know, and I know that, or you know, you tell me this is what I have heard and read and in the work that I'm doing is that one of the most volatile times, like the most dangerous times, in a domestic violence case is when you leave, right, so can you say more about that and about what someone can do to prepare to leave so that they keep themselves and their kids safe?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest13:51

    Yeah. So I would highly recommend if somebody finds themselves in a physical abuse and they're scared or they think that he's going to do something to them, I would highly recommend calling the domestic violence hotline so that you can get yourself an advocate that can help you with your personal safety plan, because they know better than I do, because I don't do safety planning with people. However, I do know about safety planning so I'll go over that. But basically, safety planning is making sure you have everything you need for when you leave. Obviously keeping it a secret from your abuser, because if they know, they're not going to let you leave or something bad can happen, right. So like making sure you have all important documents like driver's license, social security card, passport, any type of mortgage or rent documentation, kids, birth certificate, anything you need for the kids and making sure you have that in order. That way, if you need to leave and you need to go apply for anything, you have all your paperwork with you. Also, they also recommend getting a separate bank account, like a secret bank account, and trying to save as much money as you possibly can. That way, if you do need to leave, you have money to sustain yourself and you're not just like, well, I left, but now I have no money in the bank. So that's another important thing too.


    They say, if you possibly can, to have means of transportation. So like having an extra car. I know that's probably not likely for most people, right? But also if you live in the city, like I do, having a bus, car. They're like trains, they can get around and things like that.


    Another thing too off the top of my head Just keeping emergency numbers, writing them down instead of keeping them in your phone, because you don't know what's gonna happen with your phone. So any type of important numbers, whether that's emergency contacts or just your lawyer or whoever you know, like because we don't really Memorize phone numbers anymore. These you know in these days. So that's another important thing to do. And, like I said, just really like having a plan for when you leave, where you're gonna go, where you're gonna stay.


    You know, maybe you have to go through different people, you know, just having that plan, who can I say with, who's gonna support me during this?


    And some of these women might have to go to a shelter they might not have support systems where they can go to their mom and dad, to the sister's house they might have to go. So, like that's also, I say, getting an advocate so that they can help you know where to go next and what to do next, you know. Another thing to keep in mind is if you're really, really scared for your life, you know, livelihood, or the lives of your children, because sometimes these abusers use the children against you to hurt you, getting an order of protection or like a restraining order against the abuser, you know, so that they can't follow you and you know not saying that that can always stop them, but for the most part it does, because it scares people, you know. So just live the top ones that I could think off of off the top of my head, but yeah, I definitely advise to like talk to an advocate.

    Karen Covy Host16:44

    Yeah, I think that's a really important message for people to hear. And just so that everyone listening to this knows, I will link in the show notes the domestic violence hotline, which is national right. So people can you know, you can call that, you can. There's so much Help available, but you have to look for it and you have to know what you're looking for right. And so let's say you know somebody does get it together. Talk more about that. The Bank account, the way to support yourself. What are ideas like? What can women do? Because I know that Even people who are making money, it's about the control of the money, and I have heard a lot of instances of financial abuse where, even if the woman is making the money, it's deposited into an account that her husband or spouse, husband or Relationship partner or whatever the situation is, they control that money. She can't get access to it. So what do you have any ideas for people like that, who are able to earn but don't have access to what they earn?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest17:59

    Yeah, that's really, that's a really tough one to answer, just because all those you know every situation is very unique and different. Um, so, obviously, if they're like the breadwinner here let me think this through if they're the breadwinner, they could again Start a separate bank account. You know, maybe even if you're starting with the 50 or 100 bucks you know, and just like taking it out in cash and then depositing it, um, and your secret account, if possible, uh, I would say doing it in small amounts. That way they're not. You know, if you're taking out 1500, you are going to get question what, where's that money going? Right, but like, if it's smaller amounts, you could just say I need the cash to go get my nails done or something, and you know Like it can use something like that. That's why I say smaller amounts and just trying to like keep, keep that secret as much as you can.


    But I think people too, once they leave, it's easier to be able to take over their finances because they're not being controlled anymore. But, like, definitely in the situation because I've been through like financial abuse too were, you know not exactly where they're like making me put all my money in an account and they're taking it, but kind of similar to that, um, and it's a really tough situation to be in, because then you start to feel like you know, am I ever going to get out of this? It's like what am I going to do? Like if this person is taking my money or threatening me if I don't get to give them the money, that they will do something to me. So it can put people in a really tough situation. So that's another case where I would also say talk to an advocate. Um, because financial abuse is a really, really detrimental one, because obviously we need money to live and if you don't have it, then you know, you just put in a really bad situation.


    And also I would say, with this and the other thing we just talked about too, is Documenting everything. So good thing about baking systems is that there's a paper trail with everything that you do, whether you transfer the money, take it out. So if you have a case like against this person and say, hey, they did all this stuff, you can at least, if it's going through being a count, you have that like paper trail of the things that are going on. But also this part isn't really pertaining to financial abuse, but I always tell people document, document, document, document everything you possibly can. I know that videos and stuff like that don't always hold up in court, but why not? If you have proof, why not? If you can get an audio recording, a video recording, if not, that's okay. If you don't Get a notebook, or keep it in your phone like date and time of the incident, what happened, who was there, what was exactly said, and keeping track of all of that.


    Because when People start to go through the divorce process or they start to get in order protection or whatever they're, you know, going to court or just dealing with their abusers through like the justice system, they first thing they ask you have proof? Did you go into a domestic violence shelter? Did you call for help? And if you don't, they use that against survivors. Yeah, you didn't call for help. But a lot of the times we don't call for help because a lot of us know that the you know we don't want the help, maybe from the cops. They don't have the best you know like track record with them. We don't trust them. So a lot of people don't go for help but that is actually used against you in court.


    You know Well if it was really that bad. You should have called for help. You didn't never called, sign one one, why not? And then they start to throw that against you. So that's why I say, okay, I didn't call because I was scared, but I did document everything that happened, from you know, 2000, I don't know one till 2023, you know, I have every instant instance. So I always tell people just document, document, document as much as you can. That way they can never say, well, there's not enough proof here, like, well, I have everything that's ever happened, you know, and I think that's super, super important. And I see so many women that don't do that and then they end up losing you know in court and it's really Sad to see because it's not like they're lying. They just didn't have that proof that is required, you know right.

    Karen Covy Host21:48

    I mean that I was just speaking with another podcast guest a couple of weeks ago who said you know what she learned in going through her divorce, and it wasn't even an abusive situation, but just one where things were her, her ex, her now ex was taking advantage of her and the kids and not wanting to pay for anything and blah, blah, blah. And she, you know, her way of putting it was that it doesn't matter what happened, it matters what you can prove. And that's really true, and especially in today's day and age, I always, you know, coach and counsel my clients to get their proof and get it out of the house. Get it, get the proof. It's easier today with the cloud, with everything in the cloud. Get things you know, make pictures, make copies, get everything out of the house, because if you've got to just Pick up your purse and run, you'll still have access to it, versus if it's in the basement or in the bedroom, it's just gone. You know, you know you mentioned.

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest22:49

    another thing that just reminded me about safety planning is having an extra bag with underwear, bras, extra clothes, extra clothes for the kids. You just reminded me of that. That's another thing to have kind of make it look like it's just a bag or whatever, but it really, you know, keep it in your trunk or keeping it at your you know, a close friend's house or somebody. That way If you need to leave, you have stuff and you don't have to worry about oh, now I don't have, like you know, a toothbrush or something like that. That's another thing to, you know, have a bag with, like medicines and just those basic essentials that you would need 100%.

    Karen Covy Host23:20

    And you know, I want to go back to going back to your story. You mentioned something that is also very, very common for people who are in abusive relationships is that you get out and then you do it again, and then you get out and then you do it again. What can someone do who has been in an abusive relationship so that they don't just repeat the behavior and make the same mistake again?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest23:44

    Yeah, I highly recommend seeing a mental health counselor or therapist. That will help you so much to work through why you keep choosing the same people. Because there is a cycle there. You know, we don't even realize it. We don't realize like, oh, I'm dating the same guy, but this one has blue eyes and brown hair and the last one had brown eyes, and you know white hair or whatever you know.


    So they think like, oh, it's a different person, or this one has a different job, so he's a little bit better than the last one, but then the internal stuff ends up being the exact same because we all have a type, right? And I always tell girlfriends this for a single, I'm like, okay, we all have a type, but just because we have a type doesn't mean that that type serves us or does anything good for us. There's a reason we're attracted to a certain look or a certain type of personality, but just because we like that doesn't mean that it's always good for us, right? I know a lot of people get so into looks and stuff like that it doesn't matter, because that can be taken away tomorrow, you know, and if he has a bad personality, that's what really matters. So, anyway, I would highly recommend going to a mental health professional so that you can start working through that. And also, self-awareness is a really, really big piece of the healing journey. So understanding why you have the friends you have, why you choose the men you choose or women, whatever, you know, why you allow people to treat you a certain way. Maybe you have little to no boundaries, maybe your people, please, are really uncovering. Why am I like this and do I like it? If you like it, fine, go ahead, enjoy it, but if you don't, then okay, then there's something I might need to change here.


    You know that's what happened with me. I became so angry. I became this really angry person where I was just mad at the world, everybody and, like I started becoming a person that I didn't even recognize anymore and I was just like I don't like her, like it's not like the best version of myself. She's like mean and like just like ready to go ready to fight with like anybody. Because I went into like protection mode, because I was so sick of everybody taking advantage of me and abusing me that I was like I'm going to like get them before they get me. And that was also really self-destructive, because I'm a really good hearted person. I don't like to hurt people intentionally. But I started becoming this person where I was like I'm going to hurt you first before you get me and then that's the way I keep myself safe.


    But that wasn't serving me. It worked for a little while to keep me safe, but then, as I started healing, I'm like this is no longer me. I need to think of you know, do something better. So then I really just became super self-aware, where I was like, okay, if I was dating somebody new, I'm like, is this the same type of guy I dated before? If yes, then I should probably say goodbye and try something new, even like friendships and like just different decisions I was making. I literally would take a step back and I'd be like did I do this before? How did it work? Okay, it didn't work out for me, so maybe I should try something new.


    And I that's how I ended up here, you know just really understanding like, is this serving you? Does that person serve you anymore? And I, you know, people do come in our life for a reason. In their first season, there's usually a reason that they're there to teach us some type of lesson, even if it's a hard one. You know like sometimes it's those hardest lessons that really make the biggest impact. So yeah, so that's what I would say. I would say, just really try it hard to understand, like, why you make the decisions you make. And if you think they're not serving you, then try to delve into that deeper and change it. You know, because we're the authors of our own story and you can make it however you want it to be. You just have to be willing to do the work. To do that, you know.

    Karen Covy Host27:10

    Yeah, 100% and it you know. I love how you frame this because, ultimately, everybody always wants to control what's outside of them, but the only thing you get to control is what's inside of you, and that's where it all starts. That's where the change happens. That's also the thing that we don't want to do you know, but it's that work that can fundamentally make a huge difference.


    So let's say, somebody is doing the work but, you know, they're not sure of themselves. They haven't been, you know, in a healthy relationship for a long time. So they meet somebody, they think that they think they're breaking the pattern, but they're not sure what are the red flags that they can look for to say, uh no, this, this is not going to be healthy.

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest27:56

    Yeah, for sure, and I love talking about red flags just because I think we can easily look them over, especially if we're attracted to stuff. He's so cute, he's so funny, so, uh, there's a red flag with fine. You know, like we tend to do that and we tend to like to be a little bit forgiving, especially when we're just meeting somebody. So a big red flag when you first meet somebody is that if they're trying to move too fast, they try to make you their girlfriend right away. They're trying to move in with you right away, trying to marry you right away. Telling you they love you is a huge red flag right away. If they tell you they love you, like right away, that is such a big red flag. And I do think that there's some instances where people generally like literally do fall in love right away, right, but like that is a red flag for me, and I've had a lot of guys in my past tell me they love me like the first week or second week of knowing them, and I'm like what? You don't even know me though. You know, I don't think it's love, I think sometimes it's infatuation that people mistake for love, and so that's one of them. The moving too fast thing is another. Another thing.


    And also being really careful about like or not careful, but like listening to how they speak about other people, especially exes. You know ex-wife or an ex-girlfriend and don't get me wrong, Situations can go wrong, it could be the other person, but if they're calling her out of her name and just speaking really poorly about her, that's a really big red flag because that's if they're doing that to her, then don't think that they won't talk about you like that one day. You know, and you really don't know. There's two sides to every story and I've met like a lot of my girlfriends are dating right now. So like they tell me the things that the guys say about their ex-wives or the ex-girlfriends and I'm like that sounds really weird. Like he gave you a lot of information for just saying, hey, what happened here, relationship, but he's just like bad mouthing her or saying that she's a bad mother and she's a this and she's a that.


    Like I think that's a big red flag to also how they speak about just other people. Also, if you're out with him and he's talking down to a waiter, to a busboy or to the, you know, that's very telling to me too, like the way that they treat service people. You know there's some people that treat them like oh, they're just a busboy who cares. They're like they're still a human being. It should be treated with respect, because that will be telling of like how they're also going to treat you or your friends and people they also don't know. You know, what else can I say is a red flag. Can't think of anything, of anything else off the top of my head right now.

    Karen Covy Host30:18

    Pretty big ones, you know, there are.

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest30:20

    Oh, another one too, lying right away to like if you find out they're lying. You know, I know. For me I missed one with my kids dad. He lied to me about his age and age seems like, oh, it's not a big deal, right, and at the time we were only 19,. But back then I didn't date guys that were younger than me, so I would have never even given him a chance. And he knew that and I didn't find out till I saw his ID.


    Like a couple months after he started dating I found out he was like 18 and I was like I thought you said you were 19 and he's like, oh, but I knew you weren't going to date me if I told you the truth and that should have been the biggest deal breaker for me. But I was like, okay, you know 19. So I was okay, whatever. But now that I look back I'm like you should have taken it and ran with it, but I didn't know about red flags back then. I had didn't even know there was such a thing as abusive. I mean, I knew there was physical abuse. I didn't know about financial and emotional abuse and things like that, which he did put me through. So, yeah, I would save that one to just any little type of lie. Even if it's a white lie, it's still a lie, and that's a really big one to pay attention to, for sure.

    Karen Covy Host31:20

    Yeah, and you bring up a really good point that abuse comes in many shades and shapes and colors and kinds, right, it's not just physical violence, where somebody is really, really beating you up and I've heard extreme cases of financial abuse, of emotional abuse, of you know, and all of those take a toll on a person, on the victim, like it. It beats you down and I have to say, talking to you right now, you are so full of life and so positive and so bubbly, right, how did you? How did you get to that point? How did you get through everything that you were through and you know, come to be the human that you are now?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest32:07

    Yeah, a lot of work. Honestly, I always told people healing is the choice, and I made the choice to work on myself. We can choose to write, get up and exercise and get the dream body we want, or sit on the couch and eat donuts all day. You know, it's all a choice. If you're really unhappy with your life and you're really unhappy with how things are going, you know, then you can make the choice to continue doing what you've been doing and going down that same path, or you can say I'm going to do something different and it might be a lot of work, but I think the end result will be worth it, you know. So that's what I decided. I said I'm going to work on myself. I want to be the best version of myself for my daughter, because I have somebody here watching me.


    And also I went through a lot of like familial abuse to where, like I was a scapegoat in my family. I was the loud one. I was always told, you know, like you're too loud, be quiet. And you know. So it's still like that and you know, I think a lot of the adversities in my life have made me really strong, but I also am very blessed to do the work that I love what I do. I love working with survivors and just being. You know, a lot of them thrive and heal and do better. It's so incredibly rewarding to see that. But another like I said, I did a lot of work on myself too and just the conscious effort of like wanting to do better and like learning about new things, teaching, like myself, about abuse, and like learning about boundaries and how to implement them in my life. That was not an easy thing and I'm still working through some of that and much better than I was, but like also paying attention to the red flags and people. And another thing too because of all the abuse that had went through in the past, I didn't trust myself and I didn't trust my decisions and I was, was codependent, and then I also had to, like always get validated by other people, so like I didn't even trust my own intuition.


    Like I would be like what do you think about this email? Was she being rude or what do you think about that? Do you think that was? Even like, instead of me knowing that I thought that was, that was my initial response was like that was rude. I have to ask other people what do you think about this? And then get their validation and I'm like I should be able to trust my initial instincts. You know my initial response was that she was being a jerk. And why do I have to have 10 other people if they think she's being a jerk too, you know? So, like really just trusting yourself, you know, after time will happen when you contact them. Yeah, absolutely.

    Karen Covy Host34:21

    And that brings up a really good point, because, you know, the focus of this show is on making decisions and the challenge that a lot of people have is, if you don't trust yourself, you can't make that decision, and that's a big part of the reason why a lot of people keep stuck and going in a circle. And going in a circle because you ask this person, for you know one friend, for you know what's your opinion of this, and then the next person, the next. Pretty soon you've got 10 different opinions. Yeah, now you're more confused than when you start with.

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest34:52

    Yeah, very true. Yes, yeah, and it's important, I think, to. Just as time goes on, I know initially, when you're going getting out of like abuse and stuff like that, it could be really hard to trust yourself. That's what a lot of the women I work with say like, how can I possibly trust myself? Like, if I could be so trustworthy, why would I have chosen this person? Why would I have gone through this? I would have allowed him to treat me like that. And I'm like, because you knew what you knew at the time. You know you got to give yourself grace for the things you didn't know. I'm like, but now you're working on yourself, now you're healing, you know and give yourself credit for that.


    Cause we also too, I think, as women, don't give ourselves a lot of credit and acknowledgement and give ourselves a grace or even celebrate ourselves when we do good things and hard things. You know, and I always remind them like that was a win. I always remind the women that was a win. I was like I hope you know that that was a win. And then they always oh, this is not that big of a win. I'm like that's a huge win, like what are you talking about? And I always remind them and then, when I say it, they're like I think you're right, oh my God, yeah, you know. So like I think that's important too, and then, like I said, as time goes on, like you start to trust yourself.


    But now I'm at this place where I like completely trust the decisions that I make, in the way that I'm being guided, like you know, and just believing it in 100%, and like another thing too we as women also have really good intuition.


    We get natural women's intuition and it's there for a reason, it's trying to guide us, and a lot of the times we don't listen to it. You know we always ask oh God, send me some signs, I want some signs, and we literally have some signs all around us, so we don't listen or we don't really look around at the signs that are actually there. So, like, if you get a bad feeling about somebody, whether it's a guy or a friend, somebody in your family you get that gut feeling where you're like oh, this doesn't feel right or get out of here, you've got to follow that. There is there for a reason and not everybody has that. I won't say everybody, but I think most women have that and men don't really have that natural like intuition like we do. So I think it's a gift and, you know, should be utilized because it's like a free navigator.

    Karen Covy Host36:51

    Yeah, you know 100%, and I think it's also like a muscle the more you rely on it, the more you listen, the stronger it gets, and then the more you can trust it and it becomes the upward cycle instead of the downward cycle. Yeah, definitely so you know. Speaking of work, the work that you do is absolutely amazing and so needed. How can people support you or and support your organization and rise if they wanted to do that?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest37:26

    Sure, so, of course, for always taking donations if anyone wanted to donate to the cause. Otherwise, you know, just telling people about our organization, you know, sharing our stuff on social media with other people, sharing our events we do a lot of events and you know, unfortunately, there's a lot of people out there that do struggle in silence. So just sharing something on social media can really impact another person's life without you really even expecting it to. I've heard of like people like that I don't even really talk to. I saw your video and I was crying and I'm like, oh, I didn't even know. You looked at my stuff, you know. So, like that's why I put it out there, because you never know who needs to see it.


    And, like I said, there's a lot of people suffering in silence that maybe don't even know that there's help out there for them or that there's anybody else out there that gets it, you know. And so when people come to our groups, they're like wow, like I finally feel validated for the first time in my life and that for some people is just like the first step to healing. Like I, finally somebody out there believes me. You know, Sometimes you just need one person to be like wow, like sorry you went through that. I believe you and it just can really change a person's life and the way they heal, moving forward.

    Karen Covy Host38:29

    Yeah, 100%, 100%. And you know, speaking of events, I know you've got an event coming up in September. Can you tell people about that? Sure.

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest38:39

    So we have our second Casino Night Gala. So it'll be, you know, casino games, craps, roulette, blackjack, poker, all that good stuff. And it's just, yeah, gala fundraiser. It's between &Rise and the WESOS Foundation. So the WESOS Foundation helps provide seed money for new women entrepreneurs just starting a new business, and obviously, &Rise, we work with survivors. So both organizations are all about empowering women.


    We also have one of our sponsors, Capital One Cafe, so everybody who attends our event will leave with a free swag bag, so yeah. And we have spectator tickets. So if you're not really into like playing games and you just kind of want to be there to support, we have those tickets. And then we also have like tickets for if you want to gamble, but gambling, just also say we're playing with fake money. They're not actually losing money. It's not a real casino night, right, it's just for charities. So if anyone's interested, yeah, we'd love to see you come by and support. It's a great, great cause. And we have a lot of awesome silent auction gifts like Botox, various tickets, Blackhawks tickets, different things like that, and a lot of raffle prizes as well.

    Karen Covy Host39:48

    I love that. Everything from Botox to the Bears. I mean, what's not to love about this? And for those who are listening, the URL where you can go to find the casino night event and sign up is at wesosfoundationorg. That's W-E-S-O-S and you can get tickets there and we'll also link to it in the show notes so people can find it with a one click really easily. But where can people find you if they want to follow you, if they want to learn more, if they want to help out?

    Jennifer Ramirez Guest40:23

    Sure. So yeah, if you want to learn more about &Rise, visit our website, www.womenrisechicagoorg, or you can reach me directly at Jennifer@womenrisechicagoorg. Also, if you want to visit our IG page, it's and, yeah, the word and underscore, rise underscore. And we have a really great IG page, too, where we just have a lot of information about abuse and healing and things like that.

    Karen Covy Host40:51

    So definitely check it out Awesome, Jennifer. This has been such an eye opening and important conversation, so I thank you very, very much for being here and for those of you who are out there listening or watching, if you like what you hear, if you like what you see, I encourage you give this a thumbs up, like, subscribe, share, and I look forward to seeing you and talking to you all again next time.

    Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

    Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


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