Resolutions and the New Year

As we enter a new calendar year, let's remember that resolutions can be made at any time.  When we find something about ourselves that we would like to improve, we can use the four P's (passion, planning, patience, and persistence) to accomplish our goals.  We can use passion to get started and planning to give us map of how to get where we want to go.  And if we slip....so what?  We pull patience and persistence out of our tool box, dust them off, and carry on.  I talk more about the four P's in my "The Little Book of Success: Turn Your Dreams into Reality with Four Simple Tools."  It's available at Amazon.com for a wee fee of $2.99 for electronic readers and $4.99 for a paperback.  One of my goals this past year was to attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October.  Being there lightened my spirits as the balloons soared.  Happy New Year.
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Book Cover - 30KB

Here's the press release for my latest book.


Contact: Barbara Bentley
www.adancewiththedevil.com and www.barbarabentley.net                            

Little book delivers big with simple, easy-to-follow message for making dreams come true

My success as a novelist began when I adopted the principle of the four P’s. Many have talent, but it is pursuing our dreams with passion and overcoming obstacles with patience, persistence and, sometimes prayer that brings true success. The Little Book of Success should be on every home coffee table.
~ Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author

Life can be complicated, but our response to it needn’t be. So says Barbara Bentley in her slim, unassuming, and highly inspirational book The Little Book of Success: Turn Your Dreams into Reality with Four Simple Tools.

While writing her acclaimed first book, A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath, Bentley realized she was relying on four simple tools to get through the planning, drafting, and publishing process. What’s more, it dawned on her that these “4 P’s” – passion, planning, patience, and persistence – had time and again turned her dreams into reality. Though Bentley had other plans, “This little book demanded to be written.”

One chapter at a time, The Little Book of Success documents how the simple and effective tools of passion, planning, patience, and persistence helped Bentley build a house, earn a college degree, write a book, and craft a legislative bill that eventually became law. Each chapter concludes with questions that invite readers to “Give it Some Thought,” while the print version of the book includes a few lined pages for readers to jot down ideas that emerge.

“Lessons learned are lessons to be shared,” Bentley notes. “The fact is, in spite of difficult circumstances, dreams can come true and success can be achieved with the help of these four simple and completely free tools.”

In keeping with this philosophy, Bentley maintains the website www.adancewiththedevil.com to educate the public and to provide links to agencies and websites that can help victims who have encountered a psychopath.

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Author: Barbara Bentley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Marketing and was the Outstanding Undergraduate of the Business School at Golden Gate University in 1986. Her new degree allowed her to advance in the Quality Assurance arena, from which she retired after a thirty-nine-year career. A victim’s advocate in California, she was directly responsible for the passage of Assembly Bill 16 that changed California divorce law. Her story was featured on Lifetime's Final Justice and NBC's Dateline, and the Huffington Post highlighted A Dance with the Devil as one of five books to read to learn about psychopaths. She lives with her husband in Northern California, where they share their passion for photography, winemaking, and traveling.

The Little Book of Success: Turn Your Dreams into Reality with Four Simple Tools

By Barbara Bentley

Available in paperback ($5.99) and as an eBook ($2.99) at

For more information, email Barbara@barbarabentley.net or visit www.adancewiththedevil.com
and www.barbarabentley.net


Thirteen Red Flags of Dating

Red Flags

Thirteen Red Flags of Dating: 

Lessons Learned are Lessons to Share

It’s human nature to want a loving relationship, to have that someone special in our life to share our dreams and joys, our hopes and fears.  Existing long-term marriages and partnerships attest to the possibility of connecting with the right person and we want to experience it, too.  But as we enter the dating scene, we must remind ourselves to proceed with the same caution we would use when approaching a lake in which we’ve never swam – we slowly stick our big toe into the water before jumping in to make sure it’s not a life-threatening 40 degrees.   We need this approach to dating.   We need to test the waters with each person that attracts us.

As wonderful as it can be, dating propels us into a danger zone.  If we are to make it through without damage, we must be aware of and pay attention to the red flags.  But what are the red flags?  And why do we ignore them?  These are the questions I asked myself after my husband attempted to murder me and I found the answers as I wrote my book “A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath.”   Following are the red flags that waved at me during the first three months of our relationship, although there were many more that occurred during our nine year marriage.

THE SET-UP:  It all started out innocently.  A girlfriend called me at work and asked me to be a fourth at her dinner party that night.  She hated to set an uneven table.  “It’s not a real date,” she said.  “It’s just dinner and you’ll never have to see him again – even though he is quite interesting.  He’s a retired rear admiral and his father was Admiral Perry who started the Seabees in World War II.”  I didn’t want to go.  I was tired from working an extra shift and didn’t feel in a social mood.  But I acquiesced.   After all, Helen was my friend and she offered a “safe date” in her home.

RED FLAG NUMBER ONE:  I allowed myself to be talked into a situation that I would have preferred to have skipped.   My inner voice begged me to stay home and rest, but its good counsel fell on deaf ears.

RED FLAG NUMBER TWO:  The antisocial fools more than just the person with whom they are romantically involved.  They are encountered in situations at work, school, church, and organizations.  There is no “safe place” from an antisocial if he or she wants something from us.  But I knew nothing about psychopaths, other than how they were portrayed in the movies as serial killers.  And I didn’t realize that this was the first time that Helen would be meeting John.  It was her husband who was doing business with him and not for that long.

THE FIRST DATE:  The night we met, John Perry was charming and quite the dashing figure with his Irish smile and twinkling eyes.  He said all the right things; did all the right things.  Or so I thought.  John lavished his undivided attention on me, asking me about my life, about what I liked and didn’t like.  The questions were not asked with rapid fire.  They were interspersed throughout our conversation and I revealed a lot about myself without knowing that I had done so.  John also regaled the dinner party with exciting stories that included famous historical figures that were family, Hollywood stars that were friends, his service with a branch of the CIA, and the battle in Vietnam where he won the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He also tugged at my heart strings when he mentioned how his four children ignored him, even though he tried to be a good father.  And I bought it:  hook, line, and sinker.  And when we parted that night, I thought it had been an interesting evening, but I didn’t think about a romantic future with John. 

RED FLAG NUMBER THREE:  We women reveal too much about ourselves when we meet someone new.  We provide an unscrupulous character with details that help him tailor his approach to infiltrate our hearts.   He then knows what to say and how to say it.

RED FLAG NUMBER FOUR:  Talk is sprinkled with famous personalities that impress us and we believe it’s true.  After all, why would he lie?  We feel a sense of excitement knowing someone who had rubbed elbows with the rich and famous.

RED FLAG NUMBER FIVE:  John presented himself with distinguished careers, including a clandestine one.  We tend to automatically believe people in certain positions, like judges, policemen, CIA agents, ministers, and military officers.  But just because someone says they are one of these, we must not automatically believe them.   Antisocial personalities especially love the CIA and FBI because these positions are hard to prove and they also offer the perfect excuse for unexplained absences or the inability to get in touch with them.

RED FLAG NUMBER SIX:   John was a great conversationalist, witty, articulate, amusing, entertaining, and told unlikely but convincing stories that put him in a good light.  If questioned about a fact, he quickly spun the story and presented a plausible explanation.  It’s especially easy for antisocial to spin their stories on internet dating sites.

RED FLAG NUMBER SEVEN:  John played the sympathy card.  Oh, how we women respond to this!  We feel sorry for the man who bares his soul with sadness and we immediately want to make it better for him.  We can fix it.  Just give us a chance and we’ll throw all of our energy into relieving him from his emotional pain.  Our codependency switches into overdrive.   Women don’t fear the person they feel sorry for.

MOVING IN TOGETHER:  A couple of weeks later, I had tickets for a concert and no date.  So, thinking I was a modern woman and with no other prospect, I called John and asked him to attend with me.  He gladly accepted.  After we returned from the concert, I invited John in for a drink.  We started dating, but he was always evasive about me coming over to his apartment.  Within two months, John had moved into my home with limited furniture and his dog.  We were having a fabulous time.  However, it didn’t take him long to ask me if he could use my credit card as his commission check had not come in and he needed to take someone out for a business lunch.  He would pay me back as soon as his check came.  I gladly handed my credit card over (the fixer again, right?) and didn’t think much more about it until I got my next statement.  He had charged quite a bit more than just one lunch.  When I confronted him, John stormed up the stairs to pack and I immediately I begged him not to go.  “We’ll work it out,” I said.  Not too long after that he asked me to finance his van as his lease was up.  I did that, too.  And all during this time, I met only one friend of his whom he said was a distant fourth cousin.  I did not meet or talk to any immediate family members.  “They think you’re a gold digger,” he would say with bended head.   I ignored the funny feelings I would get in my stomach each time the subject came up.

RED FLAG NUMBER EIGHT:  John was evasive about where he lived.  He had a story of how his third cousin had been living with him in his house, so John had moved to an apartment.  He lamented that it was sparsely furnished and he felt funny having guests over.  Why wasn’t I more suspicious?  The story sounded a bit odd, but I ignored the red flag. 

RED FLAG NUMBER NINE:  I allowed a man I hardly knew to move into my home.  What was I thinking?  Well, it was exciting.  I was a grown woman and felt liberated by the choice.  But why didn’t he bring more with him?

RED FLAG NUMBER TEN:  I allowed John to manipulate me into giving him my credit card and financing a loan for him.  Women should never allow their money to be used by someone else, especially someone we hardly know.

RED FLAG NUMBER ELEVEN:  John used fear to keep me in his web when he stomped up the stairs.   My insides churned.  Here I thought we had a perfect relationship and now he wanted to leave.  Besides that, how would I pay off his exorbitant spending on my credit card if he left?

RED FLAG NUMBER TWELVE:  I did not meet nor talk to John’s family.  Phone calls between John and his family always transpired whenever I wasn’t home.   “Oh, you just missed talking to my Grandmother,” he would say as I came home from church.   There was always some excuse why we couldn’t call, the main one being the gold digger card.  When I finally questioned John about why his long distance phone calls with his family did not show up on my telephone bill, he calmly said his family always wanted him to call them collect because they knew his funds were tight.   

RED FLAG NUMBER THIRTEEN:  I ignored my little voice, that voice women especially have that we call intuition.  Each time John’s actions tugged at my soul, I felt uneasy.  But I chose to stuff the feelings away in a place where they wouldn’t bother me.  Big mistake!

MARRIAGE AND ALSMOST DEATH: After living together for almost a year, we married in a sleazy ceremony in Tijuana, not in the military chapel with swords crossed as I played it out in my dream.  Our marriage continued for nine years.  It included many good times with my family and friends, amazing travel, and special treatment as an admiral’s wife.  But red flags also occasionally swirled around me.  When I finally began to pay attention, it was too late.  John tried to murder me rather than loose his golden goose. 

WHY DO WE IGNORE RED FLAGS?  Why did I allow John in my life?  As I gathered data for my book, I looked back at where I was mentally and physically at the time I met John.  I can see the red flags clearly now, buy why did I ignore them in real time?  While not dating, I had a busy life.  I had just moved “over the hill” to a city fifteen miles away from family and friends because it was where I could afford to buy a home and I was busy decorating.  I was working full time.  Twice a week I would trek into the city as I pursued a BS in marketing at the university.  Yes, I was busy. 

But somewhere deep down inside me, somewhere in a place I could neither feel nor understand, I was lonely.  I wanted someone with whom to share my life.   I became John’s prey because an antisocial can sniff out loneliness as easily as a hunting dog on the trail of an unsuspecting forest creature.   And once he trapped me, I became part of the crazymaking world of the psychopath.

 Lessons learned are lessons to be shared.  My number one tip for survival is to get to know yourself and to identify when loneliness may be pushing you into an unsafe journey.   Then start slowly.  Build trust.   Pace how much you reveal yourself, especially on internet social and dating sites, where it’s even easier for someone to misrepresent themselves. 

Dating helps us find that special someone.  It’s fun.  It’s invigorating.  And we must always remember that it’s possible to build a healthy relationship as long as we pay attention to the red flags along the way. 

Barbara Bentley, Author
“A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath”
“The Little Book of Success: Turn Your Dreams into Reality with Four Simple Tools”



Twitter:  @BarbaraBentley

Books are available in electronic and print format on all major book retail web sites and in print form in major and independent bookstores. 


Have Pen - Will Travel

               The Heroine                        Paris Apt Where She Lived

Summer is coming! Vacation plans are being made. Among dreams of swaying palms hugging sunny beaches, towering redwoods filtering sunbeams, or mesmerizing museums expanding knowledge, have you ever thought of incorporating your writing passion into your itinerary? “And why would I do that?” you say. How about conducting research, networking, honing writing skills, or observing people and places for future story inspiration?

In August 2010, my husband and I took a three week European river cruise and I used the opportunity to research the heroine of my book-in-progress about a strong  woman who lived in Paris from 1898 to 1900. Our tour just happened to start in Paris, where my husband and I ended our honeymoon with five busy sightseeing days. So major sites where not of interest. We had ascended to the top of the Eiffel Tower, perused the halls of the D’Orsay and Louvre, and gawked at the splendor of Versailles. Ah, but what about finding the home of my heroine, and the art school she attended? I was excited with the prospect. I had the addresses and used a map program to pinpoint the locations. As we walked the Paris streets my heroine walked, passed the restaurants where she was courted by her lover, and saw the building where they had lived, I knew that this experience would help me bring this part of her story to life. The photos I shot that day keep the memory alive.

We can plan events during our travels that may provide networking opportunities with other writers. This thought came to me recently as I prepared for a panel presentation. I had decided to provide attendees with a list of the CWC branches in Northern California, including my own, and went to the state website for branch information. I clicked on several links and found programs that sounded interesting. An idea struck me. When traveling throughout California, why not attend a CWC meeting at another branch? All branches offer interesting meetings in various formats. This is a perfect way to network with other writers and build relationships. It’s also a good way to let others know what an outstanding branch we belong to. Just remember to bring your membership card with you.

I believe the ultimate vacation, at least once in our lives, is to attend a week to ten day writer’s workshop, free from family, free from cooking, free from cleaning, free to write, write, write, unencumbered by the distractions of everyday life. Include the family or a friend at either end of the workshop and it can be a win-win for everyone. I treated myself to the ten day “Write It, Sell It” workshop in 1994. Not only did I absorb valuable writing tips, I also networked and found my writing mentor. Later, she would give me a lead to my New York literary agent.

Travel also affords us with the opportunity to observe people and places that may ignite a passion for a possible story. We can take a journal along, or a small notepad, and jot down ideas and descriptions that spark our interest. Or we can just absorb new information as we travel along. This is how I got the idea for my current work-in-progress. In 2005, my husband and I toured a jail in Ireland. The guide pointed to a dismal cell and proudly stated that my heroine had been held there after a revolutionary uprising. It didn’t mean much to me at the time. But, further on when we toured a lovely mansion, we were surprised to learn it was her childhood home. We learned more of her compelling history. On our way to Dublin, we saw a statue erected in her honor and I snapped a photo. Later, when deciding what my second book would be about, I thought of the stong Irish woman.

Paris Restaurant Where She Ate                                        Paris Street Near Her Apartment

Bentley Supports AB1522 to Modify Her Law

When I changed the California divorce law in 1995, it was limited to the conviction of a spouse for attempted murder. I was told that was the only way to get it passed. It irritated me that my bill was limited as there are many types of violent felonies committed against spouses. But I was the first to challenge the no-fault divorce law and I wanted the bill to pass. So I accepted the limitation. I documented my stuggle in my book "A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath."

Several years ago, a male victim rallied to have the crime of solicitation for murder added after he suffered at the hands of his wife. I was not aware of his effort, otherwise I would have testified on his behalf.

Today there is another attempt to modify my law and I wholeheartedly support the change. Imagine your spouse brutally rapes you and then you're required to pay him alimony before he goes to jail. And, you have to pay his attorney fees! Rediculous. Here's the press release that came out today and I'm honored to be included. I will be in the state capitol on Monday and Tuesday.

PRESS RELEASE (3/15/2012) Rape Victim Fights Back to Get Law Changed:No Alimony To Husband Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Her

Next Tuesday, March 20, 2012, Crystal Harris, a 39 year old successful financial analyst from Carlsbad California (San Diego County) and mother of 2 boys, will testify before the Judicial Committee of the California Assembly in support of Assembly Bill 1522 (Toni Atkins-D-San Diego) to stop the next judge from awarding alimony and attorneys fees to a spouse convicted of a violent sexual assault. In 2010, Ms. Harris’ husband was convicted by a jury of sexually assaulting her (forcible oral copulation). He is now serving a 6 year sentence at Norco State Prison. And, Ms. Harris was ordered, by San Diego Family Law Judge Gregory Pollack, to pay her husband’s attorneys fees ($47,000) and $1000/mo in alimony until her husband was imprisoned. Initially, the alimony award was $3000/mo, but, reduced due to the domestic violence. Ms. Harris calls it, the “rape discount”. The alimony is temporarily suspended while Shawn Harris is in prison and being 100% supported by taxpayers. Yet, under the current law, he will be entitled to ask for spousal support upon his release.

In 1995, Barbara Bentley fought back, too. After her husband was convicted of attempting to murder her and a judge ordered her to pay alimony and retirement and pension benefits, she fought tirelessly and successfully to get a law passed that prohibits California judges from awarding such benefits when a spouse is convicted of attempted murder or solicitation of murder. (Family Code Sections 782.5 & 4324). Ms. Bentley will also be at the hearing.

Now, Crystal Harris, along with the bill sponsor Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, California NOW, Barbara Bentley, political leaders on both sides, Crime Victims United, the California DA’s Association and many others are requesting that the law be amended to include “violent sexual felonies” as defined by Penal Code 667.5 (rape, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, and assault with intent to commit above felonies). It’s the right thing to do to protect victims from being further traumatized.
(In California, alimony is not mandated. It is awarded at the judge’s discretion and domestic violence incidents specifically allow judges to deny it.)

HEARING for AB 1522: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9-11 am State Capitol, Assembly Judicial Committee

Copy of AB 1522: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_1501-1550/ab_1522_bill_20120118_introduced.html

Video of Crystal Harris Interviews & news reports on trial:
http://news.yahoo.com/victim-ordered-pay-attacker-spousal-support-201444230.html (good summary)
http://www.10news.com/news/29947450/detail.html (trial facts)

MEDIA INTERVIEWS CONTACT: Crystal Harris (cjharrispretzer@yahoo.com, (760) 402-9447) is available for in-person interviews in Sacramento/Bay Area next Monday & Tuesday, and telephone interviews.

Assembly Contacts:
Bill Sponsor, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins at (916) 319-2076
Judicial Committee Chair, Assemblyman Mike Feuer at (916) 319-2042
Committee Vice Chair, Assemblyman Donald Wagner at (916) 319-2070

Here's another nice mess you got me into....Oliver Hardy

 “Here’s another nice mess you got me into”……….Oliver Hardy
It’s hard to admit, but our country is in a mess right now.  Each day the newspaper glares with depressing news:  stocks down, more layoffs, people losing homes, murder and abuse rates up, war skirmishes and death.  It’s enough to make one want to reach for the Prozac to dull the pain.  Even our elected leaders looks like Oliver and Hardy as they chase around making a bad situation worse by their inability to get together to help this country.   

This post is not about which political party is right…or wrong.  It is about our Constitution and equality for all.  I did not originate the following but I feel it has a message provided through facts and suggestions that illustrates how equality seems to be lacking between elected officials and the average American. 

 “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests”.
- Patrick Henry –

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only three months and eight days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971..before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could pass the following with such speed and alacrity?  Unfortunately, I believe greed and favoritism will block such a reform from ever happening.   Or, could we as average citizens, promote change by taking up the banner and bombarding our congressional representatives with emails, letters, and phone calls asking for such ground-breaking legislation?

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

  1. No Tenure/No Pension:  A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

  2. Congress (past, present, and future) participates in Social Security.  All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.  The fund may not be used for any other purpose.

  3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as most Americans do.

  4. Congress will no longer vote for their pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

  5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

  6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.  All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective January 1, 2012.  The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.



The following story is not original to me.  It appeared in my email Inbox and I'm sure it has made the rounds throughout cyberspace.   I like what it has to say because....ahem....I can remember doing many of the things mentioned by the older woman.  Besides the recycling message, I feel this speaks to us in other ways.  The most obvious is that's it's easy to criticize that which we have not taken the time to validate.  It also illustrates that the younger generation can always learn something from their elders, if they only took the time to listen.  Instead and all too often, the older generation is the brunt of unkind jokes.  This is not something new.  But, as we get older, we realize just how short our time on this earth is.  So enjoy every phase  of your life's journey -- be kind to others and yourself -- and hopefully you'll be able to become the older generation so you can share the wisdom you've gained along the way.  It's another way of recycling!

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.  The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That's our problem today.  The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right -- that generation didn't have the green thing in its day.   Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.
In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.
But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.
Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right -- they didn't have the green thing back in her day.
Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right -- they didn't have the green thing back then.
They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But they didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked
instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?


To Blog or Tweet?

I can't believe that's it's been over a year since I wrote something on this blog.  It's not for lack of content.  There are enough happenings in everyday life to provide fodder.  Maybe deep down I figure that readers are not really interested in reading my extraneous thoughts as they can choose from so many active bloggers who are willing to share their musings.  But what it really comes down to is TIME.  There are only 24 hous in the day and, with all the social media available, I would have to sacrifice too many of those hours to be active on all the sites. 

So early on I chose to concentrate on my web page and blog.  For a writer, we're told that we MUST have at least one of each to reach out to our target audience.  Alas, I found that I was not very good at blogging and I latched onto Twitter as my preferred method of sharing my thoughts.  I like the idea of 140 characters.  Brevity sometimes does provide clarity and it's a good exercise in editing.  My Twitter name is @BarbaraBentley, making it easy for someone to find me.  I now have 11,859 followers.  In case you're not up on Twitter followers, many of these are people out to sell a service and I refer to them as my "not real" followers.  The "not real" followers use programs that blitz the Twitter world with auto-follow programs. 

But many of my followers are "real."  They are woman to whom I have religiouosly reached out to share my thoughts on domestic violence, psychopaths, recovery, and positive living.  I also like to share my photographs of nature.  I have worked my way through the alphabet, targeting women's names, and have reached the letter R.  But I am selective.  I choose not to follow people who feel a need to be vulgar or sell themselves for sex. 

As you can imagine with over 11,000 followers, I can't read all the Tweets that pop up.  But I enjoy each tweet that comes to me as an @BarbaraBentley or DM (direct message) and I answer every single one.   And for those who do not want to sign up with Twitter, I feed my tweets to the home page of my website

So now you know why my blog entries are few and far between.  But don't give up on me.  I will try to do a little better with thoughts that take more than 140 characters to share.  In fact, I'm going to post something in a couple of minutes.

Thanks for reading and, as always, may you feel laughter in your life.


Bentley on Candian TV

I continue to be amazed at the publicity opportunities that have appeared for me to tell my story to help others.  In May I received an emai from a producer at Make Believe Media in Vancouver, British Columbia. She told me that they were putting together a show called "The Devil You Know" and wanted to know if I would like to be one of the eight hour shows of the series.  Now, I've had some amazing publicity for my book "A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath" and you would think I would be used to the cold calls.  But I'm not.  Each time I'm contacted I'm excited as as ever.  Fireworks explode and it takes my breath away.  I couldn't say yes fast enough. 

The crew showed up to film in June.  The director, sound technician, and camerman came down from Canada and stayed for over a week!  They spent two-and-a-half days filming with just me for direct interviews and "B" roll shots.  Several of my friends who knew "the admiral" were also interviewed.  In fact, the production company flew one couple down from Oregon just for the shoot.  I provided photographs and home video to augment the piece.  One of my favorite memories is my husband and I sitting around our patio table in the shade area after a long day of filming and sharing our homemade wine with the crew.

 My segment was named "Devil in Disguise" and it is scheduled to air on the Canadian TV network VIVA on October 30 and November 5, 2010.    The Canadian satellite or cable providers and the corresponding channels for VIVA are listed below. If you don't see your provider listed below contact your TV provider to find out how to tune in to VIVA and "The Devil You Know."
TV ProviderVIVA Channel
Shaw Direct147/507
Source Cable172
ShawBC- 96 or 159
AB- 92
MB- 92 or 159

The production company will probably see the series to cable TV in the United States and the UK.  Stay tuned for announcements.  Remember you can keep up with me on Twitter @BarbaraBentley and If you don't want to sign up with Twitter, you can always go to my home page at www.adancewiththedevil.com where the Twitter feed shows up.


Hall of Fame Awards - My Speech

                                                      Barbara and Ann                                      Delivering the speech

On March 18, 2010, I was honored with being the keynote speaker at the Contra Costa Commission for Women's 10th Annual Hall of Fame Awards.   There were around 300 people present to honor four women who have contributed to the community.  The commission was established 26 years ago to make a difference in the lives of women and children by improving the economic status, social welfare, and overall quality of life for women in Contra Costa County.  For some reason, the program part started at the beginning of dinner.  Ann and I barely had eaten our salads when she went to the podium to introduce me.  I guess the speech was a success.  You could barely hear forks scraping against plates!  The audience laughed and clapped at all the right places and no one threw rotten tomatoes! 

Ann was the emcee for the evening.  She is very generous with her time for local charities concerned with the welfare of women and children.  She is the CBS 5's Eyewitness News Weekend Editon anchor and also covers Tri-Valley and Contra Costa County.

The following is an excerpt from my speech.

I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore

And I know too much to go back and pretend.

‘Cause I’ve heard it all before and I’ve been down on the floor.

No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.


Oh yes, I am wise but it’s wisdom born of pain

Yes, I’ve paid the price, but look how much I gained.

If I have to, I can do anything.

I am strong (strong).

I am invincible (invincible).

I am woman.


How many recognize the Helen Reddy song? How many were able to hear the melody as I read it?   Good, because if I had had to sing them, I don’t think anyone would be left in the room right now.  I can’t carry a tune! 


These lyrics hold special meaning to me because of my story and I was delighted when I found out the theme for tonight was “Honoring our past; looking toward the future” because I think that’s just what this song is saying. 


We all have a past – full of stories – sad and glad.  We have built our lives based on our stories and we continue to use them as we look toward the future.  No one’s stories are more important than another’s.  What’s important is what we do with our stories to go beyond ourselves to help others.


Each of the honorees tonight have taken their stories, built on their strengths and passions, and found ways to give back to the community.  They now join previous awardees as women who have demonstrated leadership, women who have created community, women who have preserved the environment, and women who have contributed to the arts.  They are an inspiration for all of us tonight and I thank them for their contributions.


From my childhood into my forties, life seemed pretty much normal – nothing extraordinary to be sure – definitely nothing that would lead me to change a law or gain national recognition. But, after my second husband tried to murder me by ether asphyxiation, I decided to write a book to educate women.  I was about to honor my past while I looked toward the future.


In preparation to write my true crime/memoir A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL: A TRUE STORY OF MARRIAGE TO A PSYCHOPATH, I scoured photo albums, calendars, day planners, and documents, digging deeper and deeper into my experiences to understand what had happened in my life.  As I dusted away the cobwebs and organized and analyzed my data, a pattern emerged.  Any success in my life occurred when I had faithfully applied four tools that I came to recognize as passion, planning, patience, and persistence.  I fondly call them my four P’s and I love to share them as powerful tools we all can use.


Passion, planning, patience, and persistence helped me build a house and get a university degree while working full time.  They also helped me to extricate myself from a harmful relationship, change the law, and write a book. 


My story starts out quite innocently.  When I was 35 years old, I was divorced and had dated a man for one year.  We broke up when I moved fifteen miles away.   Dating was not foremost in my mind and I wasn’t looking.  I had a full time job and was going to Golden Gate University at night. 


Then one day a friend invited me to be a fourth at her dinner party.  That night I met John Perry.  He said he was a retired rear admiral and that he was the son of Admiral Perry who started the Seabees in WWII.  He was quite the conversationalist, very witty, and charming.  He was the life of the party and very attentive to me. He shared his stories of daring exploits in the military.  He even said he won the Congressional Medal of Honor.


A couple of weeks later we went out on our first formal date.  Then he took me to Mexico City on one of his business trips.  We stayed at the best hotels, ate at the finest restaurants.  I was excited, and quite impressed.  Within three months John moved into my home.  He didn’t come with much (a red flag I didn’t recognize at the time) but he did have the sweetest golden retriever named Gobi.


Then the abuse started.  It wasn’t the type of abuse that made me feel I was the victim of domestic violence.   It was financial abuse.  John figured out how far he could push my limits and boundaries and he asked if he could use my credit card…..just once, he said.  But he lied to me.  And when the credit card bill came a month later I was shocked at all the charges.  It made me mad and I confronted him.


Then the second type of abuse appeared….verbal or emotional abuse.   When I confronted John about the charges, he got angry and stomped away from me.   When I asked him where he was going, he glared at me and snarled, “I know when I’m not wanted.  I’m going to pack my bags and leave.”


Fear froze my bones.  If he left how would I pay the bills?  I had a good job, but I was not flush with money.  So I started a pattern that would continue for nine years.  I backed down.  I told him we would figure some way to make ends meet until his commission check came.  After all, I thought, many relationships have financial difficulties.


The verbal and financial abuse wasn’t every day; sometimes it was not even every month.  But when it would rear its ugly head, I would feel trapped under his crazymaking power and control.  And the sad thing is that during this time, it was MY properties that were being used to support his excessive spending.  About every two years we would increase the second mortgages until we owed almost $200,000, which today is equivalent to about $400,000.  I allowed it because John said he would receive $200,000 from a house he sold, although the payment would be in seven years.


But in-between the discussions about his spending and the refinances, we had a lot of good times.  I have been piped aboard ships as an admiral and his wife.  We sat in the special military stands for Fleet Week.  I had my university graduation party at the Officer’s Club on Treasure Island, when it was still a naval base.  It was a grand affair:  a band, delicious food, a cake.  I joked that all that was missing was the bride and groom!  And I went to the Inauguration and Inaugural Ball for Bush the First in 1989.  We even sat in the Medal of Honor stands where everyone in the parade, including the president, stop and salute.  John impressed people at the ball because he wore his congressional medal of honor.


Then it began to unravel.  By the end of 1989, the FBI showed up at my door, but John had a quick and logical explanation for that, just like with a lot of things that started to not make sense.


I call 1990 my crazy year.  My inner self was trying to tell me something was wrong, but I was doing a good job of being in denial. This was the year that my domestic abuse turned physical, but not in a traditional way that would have waved a red flag.  John knew that one boundary on which I would not budge was physical violence.  He knew that if he started battering me, the marriage was over.  He also knew that his promise of an influx of a large amount of money was not going to happen.  What was he to do?  Murder came to mind.


The physical episodes appeared three times that year.  There was a car wreck, a gun in a briefcase, and a fall down the stairs.  But John experienced them right along with me, so I was not suspicious.


Yet, a little voice nagged inside of me.  So I started investigating.  Today it would be easy to search John’s name on the internet, but the internet was in its infancy.  And I didn’t have money to hire an investigator.  So what did I do?  I went to the library.  I found facts…some supported John’s stories…but most did not.


The most dangerous time for a woman is when she tries to leave a domestic violence relationship and I walked right into that trap.


I foolishly presented my facts to John, hoping to learn the truth about him.   He again twisted things around, making me feel like I was crazy for suspecting him.  But I had challenged him and he realized I was close to the truth and that his plan was about to be exposed.  He didn’t want to lose his position or my money.


So he tried to murder me by ether asphyxiation.


After the attack, I sought counseling to gain my strength back for the trial and John was convicted of first degree attempted murder.  It came out during the trial preparation that John was not a retired rear admiral; he was a con man with an FBI record.  But his father was Admiral Perry that started the Seabees in WWII.


As I recovered from the abuse, I wondered why it had happened to me.  Then it came to me.  I needed to write a book to help women understand about psychopaths, but I didn’t understand that the story wasn’t over.


When I went to get divorced from John, I was told that I would have to pay him alimony, give him half of my retirement fund, and pay car and medical insurance on him.  It was the law! It made me mad.    So I decided to change the law, even though it would not help me. 


I was constantly told I could not change the no-fault divorce law of California.  I could not put fault back into it.   It took me a year-and-a-half to find someone to carry the bill.   I used passion, planning, patience, and persistence and made it through committees, the assembly, the senate, and to the governor’s desk without a negative vote.   I did change the law of California and it has been active since January 1, 1996.


Former Senator Rainey once said, “There are some people in this world that you don’t want to make made – and Barbara is one of them.”


Around this time, I met up with an old friend and a romantic relationship blossomed into marriage. By now the book had been on the back burner for several years. I could have forgotten about finishing it.  In fact, several friends even told me that I should get on with my life.  But they didn’t understand my passion; they didn’t understand that it wasn’t for me that the book needed to be published – it was to help others understand the crazymaking world of psychopaths. They also didn’t understand that I had a deep belief that God would see that the book was published when it needed to be published.


Over the next ten years, I finished writing my book, constantly relying on passion, planning, patience, and persistence every step of the way.  I signed with a New York literary agent, and my story sold in four days to Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin, U.S.A.  My book is now in bookstores and libraries in the United States and Canada, and on the internet.  This year it will be published in Polish, so I can say I’m an international author. 


I have been blessed with many amazing opportunities to support my goal of educating the public about psychopaths.  In 2003, my story was on Lifetime Television’s “Final Justice” hosted by Erin Brockovich.  In 2008, I appeared live on live on Channel 7’s A View from the Bay, right before the book was released in November.   In 2009, I was the recipient of the Paul H. Chapman Award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice in Atlanta, Georgia, fin recognition for my legal reform work.  Also in 2009, my story appeared on Dateline NBC.  The first air date was June 7 – opposite the Tony Awards.  The Tony’s got a 10 rating; I got a 9.  I almost beat the Tony’s!  And this Monday I heard from my Dateline producer that Peacock Productions may retool my story to make it available to various cable networks.


But, I must admit that the most unexpected part of my journey has turned out to the most rewarding.  It’s the emails that I now receive from women and men across the country, from all walks of life.  I’d like to share one such email.


 "Thank you so much for sharing your horrific story.  I, too, was married to a sociopath.  My children and I escaped on July 5, 2005 and each day is a struggle to stay safe.  Until I read your book, I felt alone in my struggle.  Now I feel I have a friend.  Like you, I have recognized an injustice in the family law code--sociopaths should not have unfettered access to their children.  I have decided I would like to change (the law) as well.    While my children and I continue our journey of healing, your book has inspired me to not let the abuse my children and I suffered define us, but for us to move forward and redefine the situation.  Thank you again for sharing your struggle and helping me to move my own life forward again."


 I continue my advocacy with my comprehensive webpage that offers information and links on domestic violence, psychopaths, writing, and my wine making hobby that I share with my husband of 13 years.   You can find it at  www.adancewiththedevil.com


This evening, I shared my story so that you may be inspired to recognize your hopes and dreams, and know that they are possible to attain.  You hold the tools within you.   With passion, planning, patience, and persistence……you can achieve the success that fills your life with meaning and pleasure.  You can honor your past and look toward your future to help others. You can be one person that makes a difference.


In closing, here are a few more words from Helen Reddy.


I am woman, watch me grow, see me standing toe to toe,

As I spread my loving’ arms across the land.

But I’m still an embryo with a long, long way to go

Until I make my brother understand.


Oh yes, I am wise but it’s wisdom born of pain

Yes, I’ve paid the price, but look how much I gained.

If I have to, I can do anything.


(Say it with me)

I am strong (strong).

I am invincible (invincible).

I am woman (woman).



Thank you.