SOMETHING ABOUT SLEEP IS VERY WRONG

When wakefulness is seen as the main event, no wonder so many have trouble sleeping. Can we rekindle the joy of slumber?

In Evelyn De Morgan’s numinous painting, Night and Sleep (1878), Nyx, the mighty Greek goddess of night, hovers across a dusky sky with her beloved son Hypnos, the sweet-natured god of sleep. The painting and the Greek gods it captures depict a radically different way of understanding and relating to sleep. In antiquity sleep was personified, transcendent, even romantic.

Both Nyx and Hypnos had personality. Nyx was beautiful, shadowy and formidable – the only goddess Zeus ever feared. A Mother Nature figure with attitude, she was most protective of her son, even when he engaged in divine mischief. Which he did. But Hypnos was also gentle and benevolent, an androgynous mamma’s boy. Occupying a liminal zone between sleep and waking, he often seemed a bit dreamy. If he showed up at a sleep clinic today, he would likely be diagnosed with narcolepsy – a disorder of heightened permeability in the boundary between waking and sleep.

Nyx and Hypnos were denizens of the underworld. She was the original night owl, a fierce guardian of nature’s circadian rhythms who magically transformed day into night. With her support, as seen in De Morgan’s painting, Hypnos gently scatters crimson poppies, sleep elixirs, over the planet below. As in the more recent tale of the Sandman who sprinkles sleepy dust over the eyes of children, we are reminded that sleep is bequeathed from above. That sleep is grace.

Nyx and Hypnos were a dynamic duo of sorts – supernatural heroes who romanticised night and sleep. Nyx gave birth to sleep and created an aesthetic of darkness where Hypnos could flourish. And Hypnos loved sleep. Surrounded by fields of wild poppies on the River of Oblivion, his lair was a sanctuary – a cool, magical retreat open to all in celebration of the sensual, even sexy, mysteries of sleep.

Today, mother and son have been largely forgotten. Nyx has been in exile for well over a century as our night sky is eroded by light pollution. And Hypnos is remembered mainly by his namesakes, hypnosis and, surely to his chagrin, hypnotics. Sleep is no longer personal, transcendent and romantic – it is medical, mundane and pragmatic.

Sleep has been transformed from a deeply personal experience to a physiological process; from the mythical to the medical; and from the romantic to the marketable. Our misconstrued sense of sleep and consequent obsession with managing it are the most critical overlooked factors in the contemporary epidemic of sleep loss.

Something is very wrong. Despite decades of innovative sleep research, escalating numbers of new sleep specialists and clinics, and an explosion of media attention and public health education initiatives, the epidemic of insufficient sleep and insomnia appears to be getting worse.

In any given year, 30 per cent of adults report at least one symptom of insomnia, including trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or obtaining restorative sleep. The first decade of this century saw striking increases in the prevalence of insomnia, its associated daytime impairment, and use of sleeping pills. During this period, the diagnosis of sleep disorders jumped by 266 per cent and the number of prescriptions for sleep medication spiked by 293 per cent.

Many millions more suffer from chronic patterns of insufficient sleep resulting from the untenable expectations of modern life. In 1998, the National Sleep Foundation reported that 12 per cent of Americans slept less than six hours a night. By 2005, that number had jumped to 16 per cent.

The deleterious impact of chronic sleep loss on daily life is no longer news. Poor sleep significantly compromises our productivity and safety. And it seriously undermines our physical and mental health by triggering chronic inflammation in the brain and body. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmune illnesses, diabetes, obesity, cancer and depression…

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http://sorendreier.com/something-about-sleep-is-very-wrong/

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The Psychology of Doubling Down

by Tracy Moore

Why some people go harder when faced with evidence they’re wrong

 You’ve seen it before: A friend, acquaintance, coworker or random high school friend posts on social media about chemtrails or dubious science on global warming or a side-eye questioning of whether the pay gap is real. Commenters or friends rush in to question the faulty thinking—but instead of examining what’s being said and rejiggering their worldview, the original poster doubles down, pivoting to any other argument that solidifies their original point. What’s behind the double-down, and why is it so hard to resist?

President Trump provides some of the most clear-cut recent examples. He recently doubled down on the North Korea issue, claiming that his threat to send “fire and fury” their way was not only not harsh — it actually wasn’t harsh enough. As The New York Times noted:

“Frankly, the people who were questioning that statement, was it too tough? Maybe it wasn’t tough enough,” he told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “They’ve been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years, and it’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries. So if anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough.”

Trump did it again with Charlottesville, refusing to condemn neo-Nazis by saying there was blame to be issued on both sides. When called out on the false equivalency, he doubled down again, insisting that the alt-right and “alt-left” are simply two sides of the same violent coin. As the Los Angeles Timesnotes:

At his news conference, Trump made a glib and utterly unpersuasive argument that tearing down a statue of Lee would put the U.S. on a slippery slope to … something. “This week it is Robert E. Lee, and this week Stonewall Jackson,” Trump said. “Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

Naturally, he’s done it many other times.

Most of us know the term double-down from blackjack. You’re dealt two cards, and you have the option of potentially doubling your profit by taking on the risk of one more card. Maybe you go bust, but maybe you win big.

“It is considered the ‘money’ move in basic blackjack, a way to make twice as much profit with one flick of the wrist,” Matt Villana writes in a guide for when to use the move in cards. “Dealers and pit bosses refer to it as ‘reaching deep.’ For the rest of us, it’s known as ‘doubling down.’ And, to be honest, most of us do it way too often.”

We do it too much in life, too. And in real life, the application is slightly different. In gambling it’s a term used for calculated risk, one that typically indicates you have enormous confidence in winning. In real life the confidence applies to the conviction that you’re somehow above the fray of facts, and also possess just enough stubbornness required to die on that hill. It requires a steadfast refusal to admit there’s any possibility that you’re wrong, followed by wild scrambling to save face.

In other contexts, people use the term to simply mean make more effort or do more, as in “double down” to help Haiti, or “double down” on women’s issues. There is also, it’s worth noting, a KFC Double Down sandwich—the bread is replaced by two pieces of fried chicken.

But most of us nowadays use double down to indicate stubbornly clinging to a notion in the face of evidence to the contrary. And while the doubling-downer feels smug and confident, to the observer, it often looks like an obvious hot-air pivot by someone too insecure to consider that they might be wrong. While we should expect politicians to do it (after all, their livelihood depends on appearing to have the answers), anyone is capable of doubling down — journalists, partners, friends, scientists and colleagues.

Especially men? There are no statistics to indicate that men are more likely than women to double down on a bad argument. But Georgetown linguistics professor Deborah Tannen told The Atlantic that, at least when it comes to arguing differences between the sexes, men are more likely to see arguing as a contest, whereas women are more likely to see it as exchanging information. The result may be that men are motivated to do whatever it takes to “win” an argument, which could include coming up with anything to keep looking right, facts be damned—or at least heavily manipulated…

more…

https://melmagazine.com/the-psychology-of-doubling-down-32a237c1570a

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THE 5 MOST DANGEROUS DEMANDS OF FEAR

by Dylan CharlesEditor Waking Times

It seems the fear is taking over. After all, it’s been such an integral part of our lives for such a long a time now that, sadly, life just wouldn’t feel normal without it.

They used to say that if it bleeds it leads, implying that fear-pimping was somehow an acceptable part of economic growth. But, we know there’s more to the story. We know that fear is a tool used for social control. It’s a weapon of mass destruction and mass deterioration of mental health. It’s a technique used to entrap us into lower consciousness, to keep us humming along in a dense vibration. It keeps the reptilian brain in the driver’s seat, and used to create conflict and chaos.

Most importantly, though, fear, whether real or perceived, keeps us focused on survival and security, forgetting that abundance and cooperation are both possible and far more enjoyable.

“Fear begins and ends with the desire to be secure; inward and outward security, with the desire to be certain, to have permanency. The continuity of permanence is sought in every direction, in virtue, in relationship, in action, in experience, in knowledge, in outward and inward things. To find security and be secure is the everlasting cry. It is this insistent demand that breeds fear.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Those in positions of power in government and in the media know this all too well. They use fear to influence the behavior of the masses. They front it as an offer we can’t refuse, telling us it’s okay to be afraid, because, we have them to protect us. They use it as justification for the ever-expanding military industrial complex and the Orwellian Permanent War. They use it to manufacture political consent, and to manufacture tolerance of the ever-incessant attacks on privacy and liberty.

And here’s the catch-22: The more we give in to the tyranny of fear, the less secure we are. Fear is a trap, and here are five tricks it uses to enslave you.

1.) The Fear Tells You to Indulge in Anger and Hate

This one is widely understood, but worth repeating. If you’re unable to overcome fear, then you’re open to anger and hate, of which we see so much of in our world today. What is rarely discussed, however, is that fear is what fuels the anger and hate, and that fear that drives the unrest and chaos we see in our world.

Yoda, of course, said it best:

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” ~Yoda

2.) The Fear Expects You to Abandon Rationality

There’s a stark difference between fear and caution. Caution is a functional process that occurs in the present moment to keep us out of immediate danger. The fear in question here, on the other hand, is more like an art form, a type of refined capacity of human imagination. And imagination doesn’t need rationality.

Fear tells us to ignore facts, statistics and direct experience, and focus instead on hype, sensationalism and comforting lies. It draws our attention to the worst case scenarios, no matter how ludicrous they may be. From this perspective, sensible solutions to problems are practically invisible, and options are thin.

3.) The Fear Wants You to Try to Control Things Which are Beyond Your Control

“We think we are running things. But unless we reconcile what our unconscious and subconscious fears and motivations are, we are just a child on a bus with a toy steering wheel making ‘vroom’ sounds with our mouth. We aren’t in control of shit.” ~Aubrey Marcus

more…

About the Author

Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist esoteric arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. …

This article (The 5 Most Dangerous Demands of Fear) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/08/18/5-dangerous-demands-fear/

 

 

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We Are Nowhere Close to the Limits of Athletic Performance

Hsu_BR_LewisTHE PREVIOUS MODEL: Carl Lewis running the anchor leg of the men’s 4x100m relay race at the 1984 Olympic Games.David Madison/Getty Images

Genetic engineering will bring us new Bolts and Shaqs.

For many years I lived in Eugene, Oregon, also known as “track-town USA” for its long tradition in track and field. Each summer high-profile meets like the United States National Championships or Olympic Trials would bring world-class competitors to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. It was exciting to bump into great athletes at the local cafe or ice cream shop, or even find myself lifting weights or running on a track next to them. One morning I was shocked to be passed as if standing still by a woman running 400-meter repeats. Her training pace was as fast as I could run a flat out sprint over a much shorter distance.

The simple fact was that she was an extreme outlier, and I wasn’t. Athletic performance follows a normal distribution, like many other quantities in nature. That means that the number of people capable of exceptional performance falls off exponentially as performance levels increase. While an 11-second 100-meter can win a high school student the league or district championship, a good state champion runs sub-11, and among 100 state champions only a few have any hope of running near 10 seconds.

Keep going along this curve, and you get to the freaks among freaks—competitors who shatter records and push limits beyond imagination. When Carl Lewis dominated sprinting in the late 1980s, sub-10 second 100m times were rare, and anything in the 10-second flat range guaranteed a high finish, even at the Olympics. Lewis was a graceful 6 feet 2 inches, considered tall for a sprinter. Heights much greater than his were supposed to be a disadvantage for a sprinter, forcing a slower cadence and reduced speeds—at least that was the conventional wisdom.

So no one anticipated the coming of a Usain Bolt. At a muscular 6 feet 5 inches, and finishing almost half a second faster than the best of the previous generation, he seemed to come from another species entirely. His stride length can reach a remarkable 9.3 feet,1 and, in the words of a 2013 study in the European Journal of Physics, demonstrated performance that “is of physical interest since he can achieve, until now, accelerations and speeds that no other runner can.”2

Bolt’s times weren’t just faster than anyone else in the world. They were considerably faster even than those of a world-class runner from the previous generation that was using performance-enhancing drugs. The Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson achieved a world-record time of 9.79 seconds at the 1988 Olympic Games, beating Lewis and boasting that he’d have been faster if he hadn’t raised his hand in victory just ahead of the finish line. It would later be found out that he’d been using steroids.

The potential improvements achievable by doping effort are relatively modest.

Even the combination of an elite runner and anabolic steroids, though, was not enough to outcompete a genetic outlier. Bolt achieved a time of 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Athletics Championship, setting a world record and beating his own previous record by a full tenth of a second.

We find a similar story in the NBA with Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal was the first 7-footer in the league who retained the power and agility of a much smaller man. Neither a beanpole nor a plodding hulk, he would have been an athletic 200-pounder if scaled down to 6 feet in height. When Shaq got the ball near the hoop, no man (or sometimes even two men) could stop him from dunking it. Soon after his entry into the league, basket frames had to be reinforced to prevent being destroyed by his dunks. After the Lakers won three championships in a row, the NBA was forced to change their rules drastically—allowing zone defenses—in order to reduce Shaq’s domination of the game. Here was a genetic outlier whose performance was unequalled by anyone else in a league that has long been criticized for its soft anti-doping policy; for example, it only added blood testing for human growth hormone to its program last year. Whatever doping may have been going on, it wasn’t enough to get anyone to Shaq’s level…

more…

http://nautil.us/issue/51/limits/we-are-nowhere-close-to-the-limits-of-athletic-performance-rp

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What the Buddha Taught Us About Race

What the Buddha Taught Us About Race
The Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Thailand | Photo by Christopher Rose http://tricy.cl/2evDRt3

Thai forest monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu discusses four main takeaways from his new translation of the Sutta Nipata.

By Emma Varvaloucas
Below, the monk answers four quick questions about the Sutta Nipata.
 

What are some suttas in the Sutta Nipata that are not famous, but are worth getting to know? Perhaps the most important section of the Sutta Nipata is the Atthaka Vagga, a collection of 16 poems on the topic of nonclinging. But there are some hidden gems in the rest of the collection, too. The Arrow (3.8) is a very strong statement on the need to overcome grief, and The Rod Embraced (4.15) starts with the vision of the world that led the young Buddha-to-be to seek awakening. As he says, he saw people floundering like fish competing with one another in small puddles, and there was nothing in the world that wasn’t laid claim to. Every time I read that passage I think of the time I saw salmon arriving at their spawning grounds in a stream no more than an inch deep, struggling to flop themselves over other salmon already dead, while bears were hovering around ready to strike. All that fighting, while in the end they were all just going to die.

You describe the common thread among the suttas in the Sutta Nipata as a response to the culture of ancient India, where brahmanical doctrine was the prominent religious tradition. How would you describe the Buddha’s relationship to the brahmans and their system of belief, and how does this collection illustrate that? We know from other texts that brahmans in the time of the Buddha were obsessed with the question of defining the true self, whether the true self survived death, and if so, how to make sure that it had enough to feed on. And we know from other parts of the canon that the Buddha regarded all these questions as wrong-headed because they got in the way of answering what he saw as a much more important question: how to put an end to suffering and arrive at a dimension where there’s no need to feed. The Sutta Nipata, though, touches on these topics only briefly. Instead, the brahmans presented here seem to be united only in their belief that they are better than everyone else, and the Buddha goes into great detail as to why people cannot be judged on their birth and social status, and should be judged by their actions instead.

That sounds especially pertinent to the issues of racism and classism that we still deal with today. How can we apply the Buddha’s positions from ancient India to contemporary times? Two of the Buddha’s teachings on racism and classism are especially applicable today. The first is the point I just mentioned: There’s nothing about birth or social status that makes a person good or bad. People are good or bad solely in terms of their actions, and so that’s how they should be judged—not by the color of their skin. There’s a nice passage in the Vasettha Sutta (3.9) where the Buddha notes that, with common animals, you know the animal by its coloring and markings, whereas the same standard doesn’t apply to human beings: There’s no physical mark that tells you whether a person is trustworthy or not. If you judge people as good or bad by their appearance, you’re reducing human beings—yourself and others—to animals.

The other teaching is a little less intuitive but just as important. There’s a sutta on the topic of body contemplation whose title, interestingly enough, is Victory (1.11). It gives a long catalog of the disgusting details of the human body, and then ends by saying, “Whoever would think, on the basis of a body like this, to exalt himself or disparage another: what is that if not blindness?” If you think that white skin is somehow special, imagine what a pile of white skin would look like on its own. That should be enough to subdue racial pride…

more…

https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/what-the-buddha-taught-us-about-race/

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John Quincy Adams on Efficiency vs. Effectiveness, the Proper Aim of Ambition, and His Daily Routine

John Quincy Adams. Portrait by John Singleton Copley, 1796.

“The spark from Heaven is given to few — It is not to be obtained by intreaty or by toil.”

“Those who work much do not work hard,” Henry David Thoreau observed in his prescient meditation on the myth of productivity and the measure of meaningful labor a century before the dawn of the cult of workaholism, which continues to bedevil us with ever-accelerating virulence to this day.

A generation earlier, John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767–February 23, 1848) — another man of introspective genius and uncommon wisdom — dug at the heart of modernity’s foundational disconnect between efficiency and effectiveness: our tendency to pour tremendous energy into doing things, with little reflection on whether those are the right things to do in the first place.

His journals, now published as John Quincy Adams: Diaries 1779–1821 (public library), offer an exceedingly insightful record of one extraordinary man’s reflections on his own nature, haloed with luminous wisdom on the universals of human nature. Throughout them, the sixth President of the United States examines the paradox of how even the most industrious self-exertion can fail to attain a worthwhile result and why unfocused ambition is a guarantee of frustration rather than fulfillment.

In the spring of 1819, six years before he won the Presidency, 52-year-old Adams anticipates Kierkegaard’s proclamation that “of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous [is] to be busy,” and laments the absurdity of ineffectual busyness that animates his days in office as Secretary of State:

Every day starts new game to me, upon the field of my duties; but the hurry of the hour leaves me no time for the pursuit of it, and at the close of my Career I shall merely have gone helter skelter through the current business of the Office, and leave no permanent trace of my ever having been in it behind.

Years earlier, in observing his own habits of mind in the course of his voracious self-education, Adams had become aware of the meager correlation between effort exerted and results obtained when a clarity of purpose is lacking — even the mightiest discipline, after all, is wasted without a clear direction. In a diary entry penned on the final day of 1804 — a year he considered distinguished by “its barrenness of Events” — the thirty-seven-year-old Adams laments his tendency to lose himself in rabbit holes of what may be interesting but is not relevant to his larger aims:

My studies were assiduous and seldom interrupted. I meant to give them such a direction, as should be useful in its tendency; yet on looking back, and comparing the time consumed with the knowledge acquired, I have no occasion to take pride in the result of my application — I have been a severe Student, all the days of my life — But an immense proportion of the time I have dedicated to the search of knowledge, has been wasted upon subjects which can never be profitable to myself or useful to others — Another source of useless toil, is the want of a method properly comprehensive and minute, in the pursuit of my enquiries — This method has been to me a desideratum for many years; I have found none in books; nor have I been able to contrive one for myself. From these two causes, I have derived so little use from my labours, that it has often brought me to the borders of discouragement, and I have been attempted to abandon my books altogether — This however is impossible — for the habit has so long been fixed in me, as to have become a passion, and when once severed from my books, I find little or nothing in life, to fill the vacancy of time — I must therefore continue to plod, and to lose my labour; contenting myself with the consolation, that even this drudgery of Science, contributes to Virtue, though it lead not to wealth or honour…

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https://www.brainpickings.org/

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What Domestic Violence Against Men Looks Like

by C. Brian Smith

“It’s hard for a guy to say ‘I need help,’” says Paige Flink, the chief executive of the Family Place, a domestic violence shelter for men in Dallas that opened in May. “It’s just not a natural instinct for a lot of men.”

The Family Place is on track to serve 65 to 70 men this year, Fink tells me, and she says there’s no common denominator among them. To wit: Of the seven men who currently live at the shelter, one’s girlfriend began beating his daughter; one was strangled by his male partner; and one was stabbed by his brother, after the resident had accused him of sexually abusing his daughter.

Then there’s Joshua Miller, whose girlfriend smashed their 2-year-old son’s guitar into his forehead. When the police arrived, however, Miller was the one cuffed. “Men are not looked at as victims,” he told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month. “People say, ‘A woman can’t hurt you.’”

Miller’s experience is typical, says Emily M. Douglas, a professor and department head of Social Science & Policy Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, whose research over the last 15 years has largely focused on partner violence against men.

She says the need to be “macho” has resulted in men not even considering themselves victims or realizing the violence they’re experiencing is a crime. “We don’t think of men as being capable of being victims or targets of abuse. We associate them with moral and physical strength and being protectors, which doesn’t align nicely with an image of someone being physically abused, psychologically manipulated or degraded.”

Plus, when men do seek help, she adds, they often feel they’ve lost their “man cred” — i.e., strength, self-reliance, etc. “That’s largely an internal barrier that women haven’t had to overcome.”

According to the most recent study from the CDC, there are more men than women who are victims of intimate partner physical violence. I ask Douglas if that could possibly be true — after all, aren’t men thought to be more aggressive?

“Research since the early 1970s has shown that men and women perpetrate violence against each other at roughly the same rates,” she says. “It’s an issue that’s largely been overlooked. And men have trouble finding help.”

For example, she says when men call domestic violence agencies or law enforcement they’re often ridiculed. “Men report that the police often laugh at them and say things like ‘What’s wrong with you? Can’t you control your woman?’”

“When I called the police to file a complaint against my former wife,” Ian Alterman wrote in a 1994 letter to The New York Times, “the initial response was amused disbelief. When I finally convinced them my complaint was real, the response — without missing a beat — was, ‘So hit her back.’”

Nine years before Alterman’s letter, the U.S. National Family Violence Surveyfound that when domestic violence calls to the police were made…

  • The man was ordered out of the house in 41.4 percent of cases when a woman called, but the woman was never ordered out of the house when the man called.
  • The man was threatened with immediate arrest in 28.2 percent of cases when a woman called, but the woman was never threatened with arrest when the man called.
  • The man was threatened with arrest at a later date in 10.7 percent of cases when a woman called, but the woman was never threatened with arrest at a later date when the man called.
  • The man was actually arrested in 15.2 percent of cases when a woman called, but the woman was never arrested when the man called. In fact, in 12 percent of cases when the man called, the man himself was arrested.

Men receive a similarly unsympathetic reaction from friends, Flink says. “The minute they start talking about what their girlfriend is doing to them they say, ‘C’mon man, buck up.’ Then the guy feels like he’s not as strong of a man. It’s emasculating.”

Accounts from both the history books and tabloids seem to support the notion that none of this is all that new:

Although DIY castration is rare, when men are the victims of domestic violence, there’s a much better chance they’ve been physically injured. That’s because, as journalist Philip W. Cook points out in Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence, the stereotype of a husband getting a plate thrown at him or being hit over the head with a rolling pin is accurate. “Women were significantly more likely to throw an object, slap, kick/bite/hit with fist and hit with an object,” he writes…

more…

https://melmagazine.com/what-domestic-violence-against-men-looks-like-74ce9500ab8d

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