What the world does to you as a woman is something to ponder. As a young girl, I was soft and sweet. It was what society expected of me, but it was also my sensitive personality. As time went by, I had to fight, even though I didn’t always want to. It became necessary to survival. When I was sexually abused as a child, a part of my soul was silenced. When I went to college and learned to drive at the same time, after already working for many years, I had to stand on my own. When I left my cult religion, I had to leave everything I had ever known behind. When I became a mother, I had to face the world that considered me and my beautiful gift illegitimate. When I worked to raise my daughter, and balance the world on my shoulders, I also had to teach her how to survive this life as a woman. When I finally escaped every controlling and abusive situation, and there were many, I had to rebel against the system at hand. When I became an advocate, I had to use my own voice, even though people didn’t understand it – so I often spoke alone, though knowing there were others out there who were hearing me and knew they weren’t alone. When I have had to fight because society doesn’t understand how to deal with traumatized, depressed, grieving survivors, I had to know I was enough even though I was told that I was broken. And now as a scarred, tested, wise woman, still not even old, I am this. I will not let anyone beat me into submission, fuck with my mind, tell me what I can’t do, strip me of my dignity, steal my rights, or hush me with their ignorance. I am a woman who has been through the alleys and the valleys, and I may be tired and heartbroken, but I will not be owned. I will not be owned by you for any reason, especially not your desire to kill my spirit as a woman and mother, disabled person, or survivor of poverty and violence. I will not be owned.
A prominent (married) lobbyist that I’ve known for many years invited me for a visit, and I thought it was a friendly gesture to catch up and chat. Partway through, he imposed himself on me and tried to kiss me. And then I realized he wanted to trap me and try to have sex with me. Fortunately, he wasn’t overly aggressive and I was able to leave without having to fight him off. He ran into me yesterday, not expecting me to be where I was and was very surprised and short. He is depending on my secrecy. If I were to tell, it could ruin his marriage and career. It made me think that if we started a new wave of demonstration against sexual abuse, where we out people on social media, I think it could be a deterrent. If he knew he could be named publicly, I think he would think twice about acting as a predator.
I need to break my silence, because that is what keeps us victims. He served me a couple glasses of wine (a tactic that is often used) and mid-conversation, started complaining about his marriage, probably to create a perception that he was on his way out and soon to be single. So much manipulation. I was trapped and cornered, and he thought he had a good set up. Some women may justify what happens to them because we blame the victim. Victims are never at fault. What he did was predatory. It was a premeditated plan to try to coerce me into having sex with him. I consider this attempted rape. We need to have many more conversations about what rape looks like because we live in a rape culture, and sexual abuse in its many forms is pervasive and even socially acceptable. Secrets keep us sick, we all need to learn more and be very frank and honest about what is happening.
Here is information from the world health organization on sexual violence against women: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/.
Most are not reported and there are many reasons for that, namely the psychology of victimhood in our society. So what I would encourage, is dialogue and telling people what happened to you, and getting help if you have been abused/assaulted. Together we can change the dynamics of our culture, so that we have healthy, safe interactions with each other that will lead to safe, healthy communities.
#nationalpreemieday: This was Imani at 5 days old. She was 2 pounds, 6 ounces, and 14 weeks early. She had a significant brain hemorrhage and a condition that causes blindness, was fed through an IV, lived in an incubator, and was breathing with a ventilator here that I’m holding in place. Plus a list of other issues and a prognosis filled with uncertainty. She didn’t breathe on her own for months, and went home when she was apnea and bradycardia free for 24 hours – which means she didn’t stop breathing and her heart rate didn’t drop. I had just turned 19, was a victim of sexual abuse & had complications that were genetic & accelerated by socioeconomic stress & domestic violence. I was unmarried, living with a schizophrenic roommate who died from suicide. We moved from place to place to survive on home care worker wages and were regularly in imminent danger. I almost died in a car accident that happened because I was sleep deprived & malnourished. She almost died many times from a number of causes. I didn’t know if my child was safe much of the time because I had to leave her with unstable people who were all I had in order to work. It’s a long, traumatic story. I still can’t believe that we are still surviving. Nobody knows what it has been like, except for us. Our triumph is not in any vainglorious declarations, but in the next day building on the last, toward a vision of happiness that includes transforming the ugly into beauty around us and for others.