Small-Town Elitist

October 15, 2009

Questions about life and death, plus other linkage.

So I have a little free time after having spent a while continuing to pack up my house. I’m moving into a new one soon! 🙂 I’ve decided to do a linkage post first, and if there’s still some time, see if I can write something else.

Christian Liberal has an interesting post on a new study about near-death experiences.

Renee at Womanist Musings has a post about the racist new Nadya Suleman Halloween costume sweeping the nation… Racialicious has a post on Anita Tedaldi’s privilege showing with regards to her former adopted child. Jenn at Reappropriate wrote about some positive developments between President Obama and the Asian-American/Pacific Islander community.

Marcella at abyss2hope posted the 80th edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence. Great posts; I hope you’ll check it out! Natalia Antonova has plenty of snark and zero sympathy for Roman Polanski, who apparently is depressed behind bars. She also handles an idiot troll very well in her comments section.

And speaking of the tiniest violin on earth playing the background, Rush Limbaugh got his widdle heart bwoken over his being cut from the group interested in buying the St. Louis Rams after an outcry was raised over his notorious racism (especially towards Black athletes). Think Progress has the scoop.

BlueGal has a nice post about Gov. Howard Dean’s idea to allow people over 50 to pay for their Medicare. Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars wrote about the New York Times delibrately shutting out discussion of Single Payer care in its paper. MOMocrats has a guest post sharing why the author supports health insurance reform. At at RHRealityCheck, a midwife shares what the repercussions of not making health care available for expectant mothers are.

Cara at the Curvature has a post about a boss who fired his employee because of her gender identity.

Feministe writes in about the disgusting sexist comments the right wing has been making about Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Speaking Out has some excellent news about a class of 6th grade children in Sweden who reported Toys R’ Us so that it would be held accountable for gender-stereotypical toys!

Flip Flopping Joy has a post about UTNE Magazine’s list of 50 visionaries who are changing our world.

Season of the Bitch and Jonthan Turley have some thoughts about Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

At HuffPo, Arianna Huffington suggests VP Joe Biden resign the vice-presidency in protest over Obama’s plans for Afghanistan.

And last but not least, Majikthise has a rich post about an idiot affiliated with Frank Luntz who has been charged under the Patriot Act for making a fool of himself on an airplane (a must read).

Time to get back to packing.

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April 17, 2009

In Solidarity With the Shakers: A response to the Survivor Thread.

***Please note that this post may trigger!***

I too have survived multiple sexual assaults, abuse, and disrespect over the years.

I recently discovered the Shakesville blog for myself. Recently a very powerful post and thread was started, the Survivor Thread. Melissa of Shakesville asked the thread’s readers to tell their personal stories of sexual violence, with a gentle attention given to getting survivors of multiple hurts opening up and feeling free to share the magnitiude of what has happened to them.

Here’s some of what Melissa had to say:

And many of us who are survivors of repeat assaults will not speak of it; many of us will pick the “worst” one and talk about that in threads on assault, as if it’s the only one. We do this for many reasons: We might feel embarrassed by being repeatedly victimized, as if it’s indicative of a character flaw within ourselves; we might have trouble discussing multiple assaults without undermining what tenuous feeling of safety we have; we might have faced reactions of incredulity from people with whom we shared this information and thought we could trust; we might have been called liars or hysterics—accusations born of the silence about sexual assault.

I may post there soon to tell my story there personally, but for now, I will try and tell a shorter version (snapshots of my life, if you will) of my story. I tend to be long-winded, but I will try not to write a novel!

My first hurt was as a toddler. For a few months a “friend of the family” had access to me as a 2 and 3 year old. I am reluctant to call that experience rape with certainty. But my mother at that time took to examining me for signs of abuse, and at one point after one such visit she discovered me bleeding in my diaper. So while I was extremely young and can’t completely know what happened to me, the evidence is strong in support of rape. 😦 On my 4th birthday, we moved to another part of the state, and I never saw him again.

My second hurt, while not sexual abuse, was a violent physical assault at the hands of my father when I was 8 years old. He was drunk, and suffocated me to unconsiousness one horrible summer afternoon.

My third hurts lasted a long five years, and began when I was 9. We visited my great-aunt and great-uncle and their side of the family regularly. It was then my great-uncle began forcibly kissing me and touching me when he could get away with it. It stopped when I was 14 and refused to continue going to their home.

My fourth hurt happened when I was 11. I was in my backyard, playing with a black kitten named Leo, when a man in the house across the street whistled for my attention from his window. When I looked up, he was masturbating.

My fifth hurt happened was I was 15. I was in one of those teenage “sort of” relationships that was abusive. It consisted of unwanted touching, and physical cruelties, like being strangled from behing with a rope, or having the point of a safety pin pushed into the soft skin of my hand.

My sixth hurt happened on May 28, 1999, when I was 17 years old, and 2 weeks before my high school graduation. I was walking to a bus stop with a friend after school when I was chased, caught, and sexually abused on a busy street (with useless onlookers) by five or six guys. My eyes were closed for much of the assault. I didn’t want to face what was happening, and I was just screaming for help and trying to get away, so I don’t know the exact number of assailants I had that day. The exact number of attackers is irrelevant, however. One attempted rapist is one attempted rapist too many already.

My seventh hurt occurred when I was 20 years old, and I can’t speak of it.

My eight hurt began when I was 23. I have been stalked off and on since that point in time, by a man I thought I could trust. He sent sexually abusive messages to me, and eventually I learned he’d been accused of sexually abusive acts before, and also during the stalking.

My ninth hurt happened when I was 25. I was in a relationship with a man who I thought was kind and gentle. He had even protected me from previous abusers. But when I could not make love with him, he became coercive and intimidating. What little sense of safety I had was lost. And my inability to trust or feel safe with men began to rear its head again.

Those are the major things that happened to me. There were a lot of other little things, like getting my butt grabbed at junior high when I didn’t want to be touched, or getting my butt grabbed at a flea market at age 12 by a middle aged man who smirked the most disgusting smirk when I looked up to see who in the crowd was molesting me…

But I wanted to end this post in the following way: Yes, a lot of horrible things happened to me, yes I’ve lived a broken and desolate life, yes I have been legally disabled for a while partly due to PTSD. But my life is a happy one now. I’ve been a strong survivor for a long time now, but I am transitioning into the life of a thriver. So anyone at Shakesville, or anyone reading this who has been through these things, if life seems impossible to deal with, I understand. But it can and does get better. That’s my hope for all of you.

September 13, 2008

Another linkage catch up post.

I hope to get this post done quickly, I’m making up for the day off I took yesterday, and today I have been kind of glued to the television due to Hurricane Ike. I have plenty of family as well as friends in Southeast Texas, so naturally I’m concerned…

Anyway, yesterday’s intended linkage:

Marcella at abyss2hope talks about the development of her website. When it’s through it will educate people on date rape and other forms of sexual assault. Keep an eye out for it!

Crooks and Liars has a post on how the Bush Administration has cynically used 9/11 and the shadow of Bin Laden to their political advantage.

Feministe has an excellent post on certain feminists’ unwillingness to include considerations of race and class in their discussions of feminism.

I don’t have many words on this post from MOMocrats. Basically it includes a video of John McCain being a jerk to a woman representing a POW/MIA advocacy group… *shakes head*

Racialicious has a post about the theft of intellectual property from Asian-American website owner Myles Valentin by one of his so-called friends. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Here’s a doosy of an article, high heel shoes for toddler girls, hat tip to Megadeth.com forum peeps.

Season of the Bitch has a great write up about the play In Conflict, which deals with the lives of Iraq War veterans.

And White Trash Academic has a really sad post on the mental health of our veterans.

A Christian Liberal Perspective has a post about how remote killing technology is causing depression in those who have to use it.

Today’s linkage:

Hat tip to Christian Liberal: Women Against Sarah Palin

From Crooks and Liars: Sean Hannity goes beserk and yells at a policy person. Simmer down, Sean, seriously!

Feministe has a great post on the politics of Black women’s hair.

MOMocrats link to a comparison of Obama’s and McCain’s positions on taxes.

Natalia Antonova is rightfully worried about Sarah Palin’s eagerness to go to war with Russia.

Racialicious has a post about the situation that some feminists find themselves in following McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin.

Reappropriate writes about disturbing comments made about multiracial children by a Freakonomics author…

Season of the Bitch wants to reclaim lipstick from Sarah Palin’s politicizing…

And Marcella writes about how forced pregnancy is yet another way rapists and abusers control their victims…

Well, that’s it for now, I reckon!

September 10, 2008

I might not be canonized anytime soon, but I survived and I don’t regret it!

Time to open up a little bit up and talk about myself in a post, I guess. I’d rather it not be a heavy topic, but Feministe has a very good post on St. Maria Goretti, and in light of the discussion that is coming up from that post, I’ve decided I would write about how I feel about the canonization of Maria Goretti as well.

(Full disclosure: I come from a Protestant background, and will do everything I can to express myself respectfully in light of the centuries of conflict between Protestants and Catholics; besides, the first person to really show the love of Christ to me in my life was my late Catholic Grandma, if I made this post inherently anti-Catholic in nature, I would be disrespecting her memory and legacy too.)

For those who don’t know anything about Maria Goretti, you can read the Feministe link, or visit Wikipedia to read her story.

I first learned about the attempted rape and eventual murder of Maria Goretti in Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. I was reading the book because I was starting out to educate myself on feminism as teenager/young college student, and…I was trying to make sense of my experiences. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, incest, and teenage sexual assault. At about the age of 18, I got involved in anti-rape and anti-abuse activism, locally and online. Brownmiller’s book is an education in itself due to it’s detailed history of sexual violence in human society.

When I read the part about Maria Goretti, I definitely was left with a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. Survivors often struggle to have a sense of self-worth after losing their sense of dignity to sexual violence. The impression I got of the Maria Goretti canonization as a young survivor was the same impression I’d been getting from many other sources in society, that women and girls who’ve lived through sexual violence are not as valuable, that we are damaged goods, that we are somehow a problem. Why else, I thought, would women who died rather than be raped appear to be more valued spiritually than women who survived rape or abuse, and lived to fight and advocate passionately for the healing and restoration of the women and girls who would follow after them?

I don’t blame Maria Goretti for show she handled the situation that had been forced upon her. She was a child, and she shares no blame in this. I do worry what messages some in the Body of Christ, whether they are Catholic or Protestant, are sending to any and all survivors, whether they profess Christ or not. No one deserves victim blame, and victim blame has no place in the Church. So that any Catholic readers may understand that though this post was inspired by Maria Goretti, I am not singling out Catholicism, I experienced a painful situation with my previous church. I had been given a little booklet at my women’s Bible study, which had verses relating to certain topics that concern women, and I was horrified to discover that under “rape,” this booklet was admonishing me to not dress provocatively if I don’t want to be victimized again. Ummm, hello! Being covered up does not protect women from abuse, tragically. That too, left a bad taste in my mouth.

The “better dead than raped” adage is painful to be reminded of, as someone who, over the years of abuse and its aftermath, has struggled with PTSD, depression, and suicidality. I am still here though. I could have died during the abuse years, but I didn’t, and I am happy about that. I doubt anyone will be rushing to have me canonized once I do pass on, but that is alright with me. After counseling, finding the right medication, and making peace with God, it was worth it surviving the actual abuse, it was worth it to survive the crushing, suicidal depression. It was all worth it because I am here now, and I can find beauty and promise in life, and purpose. My life is more than what happened to me, and I am not damaged goods because of what has happened!

I would not trade places with Maria Goretti. I mean that as no insult. It’s simply how I feel. Sin has still been triumphed against because those who brutalized me failed to destroy me, and because it has helped me to look at my own conduct. And because I am still here, I will be able to help others ensure the sin of sexual abuse and assault will not destroy them either.

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