Small-Town Elitist

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.

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January 31, 2009

The Patriarchy Movement: Submission, subordination, danger, and attraction.

Well, I am glad to see that the complementarian and patriarchal movements are starting to get attention from liberal and progressive sources.

I think that it is important that these movements be examined, and that everyone reach their own conclusions about them. I feel they should not go ignored.

I would like to use my personal space to explore where I stand with this movement, which is not exactly knew to me.

Nearly seven years ago, I became a born-again Christian. I still consider myself a follower and daughter of Christ, but I am transitioning to a place where I can’t stand by evangelicism. That is another story for another time, but this post should begin to shed some light on my exit from conservative Christian settings.

Long before I became a born-again Christian, I was a feminist (and have never truly crossed over to anti-feminism, to be honest). When I entered the church, there was shaky and scary new ground for me to personally confront. My attraction to feminism was an outgrowth of how an overtly religious school counselor treated me when I confided physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as a child. Now as a new Christian, I was essentially admitting that I felt my position on gender relations as a feminist were wrong. What was going to take its place?

This was when I began my education into the various stripes of complementarianism and patriarchy in the 21st century church.

Because I knew of the teachings that one must submit to her husband, I intially had determined for myself that I would never marry and never have children because I’d grown up in a home where there was domestic violence. I was terrified by giving a chunk of my autonomy over to a future husband, I was setting myself up for further abuse.

Eventually, I came to the decision that I would read about “biblical femininity,” and, how to put this politely…martial obligations, specifially, I wanted to know what was required of husbands.

Good luck finding that. In the past, internet searches had trouble finding sermons and essays on these obligations, and even now, you will still find more sites yammering on about what women must do and must not do. When you do find a man’s obligations, it does sometimes seem like a good game. For someone who’s lived their life with abuse, protection does sound great. But a certain realism has to set in, and you realize that there’s a huge danger in giving your personal autonomy over to a mere mortal who is just as messed up as you are, if not more.

Everything seemed so daunting, so painful, and as a survivor, it was so triggering.

One thing that is indeed very triggering about complementarianism is that not all of its proponents like women all that much. Many of them are actually misogynists who are content to blame women for society’s problems. Some take vigorous offense to any thought that God might actually be Goddess, or that a woman could be a leader in a male God’s church.

And worst of all in my experience, I found lots of blame for victims and survivors of abuse in a complementarian structure. Once, at women’s Bible study, I was given a little booklet of quotations, some biblical, some not quite, on issues that women face. I was horrified and disgusted to read an admonishment not to wear skimpy clothes under the “rape” section. Years after that, Michelle McKinney Hammonds book The Power of Femininity horrified me with its suggestion that men abuse women when their authority is challenged.

I ask you, is that a view of men you want to have? That they are cowards and bullies?

The EWTN network had a series with Alice von Hildebrand and Father Benedict Groeshel which I actually liked, which stressed a reconciliation between man and woman.

In light of that idea, how does showing complementarian men to be bullies and cowards work towards this reconciliation??

I don’t have any idea of what to replace complementarianism, including egalitarianism, but I do know that as it stands, complementarianism has some flaws and vulnerabilites that make me wary of it.

September 17, 2008

Alaska women say no to Palin, and other linkage.

Phew, I have a lot of links to catch up on, because I’ve had a busy day! 🙂

Yesterday’s linkage:

Crooks and Liars report on a really nice sized rally of Alaska women who do not support Sarah Palin.

Feministe add to the growing amount of scary information on Sarah Palin’s administration in Wasilla Alaska saying “no” to paying for rape kits.

The blogger at kmareka.com speculates that the reason Wasilla and Palin charged rape victims for their own rape kits may have been an insidious attempt to discourage getting the kits done so that the women would not have access to emergency contraception.

MOMocrats compare the educational history of the major presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

Christian Liberal elaborates the differences between a nation using its power wisely versus using force.

Natalia Antonova has a snark filled post about the cluelessness of McCain and Palin.

Latoya at Racialicious compares Sarah Palin and Condoleeza Rice in a respectful but critical manner. I enjoyed this post!

Reappropriate has a post about the Republican party’s sudden and hypocritical “embrace” of feminism.

Season of the Bitch critiques Saturday Night Live’s sketch with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.

Speaking Out has an awful story about a comatose woman who was raped by her husband.

Today’s Linkage:

Marcella at abyss2hope writes about how the issue of rape is affecting an Oregon senate race.

Crooks and Liars reported on a vicious attack against the women who were part of the Alaska women’s rally against Sarah Palin. A conservative talk radio host called the women “maggots” and gave the women’s home addresses over the air.

Feministe has a fun and interesting post about how to make feminist ideas more accessible to everyone.

Hear Me Roar posts comments from actress Megan Fox slamming the way Disney treats their teenage starlets.

MOMocrats wonder aloud if the Bush Administration may not come with an October Surprise in the form of Osama bin Laden.

Rachel of Rachel’s Tavern links to an essay examining white priviledge through the lens of the media coverage of the Palin family.

Racialicious documents a racist attack against Barack Obama that is trying to be passed off as political satire. *reaches for barf-bag*

Season of the Bitch has an interesting quote about feminists who attack feminine women and lipstick feminists.

Speaking Out talks about the terrible treatment of trafficked teenage girls in North Texas.

Cara at The Curvature has an action alert and information on Troy Davis, a man who is facing the death penalty and for whom there is doubt about his actual guilt.

White Trash Academic has a couple interesting links on higher education, including some not so surprising shenanigans from Liberty University.

Renee from Womanist Musings writes about the silencing white feminists do to women of color.

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