Tag Archives: sexual abuse

Woody Allen and Open Letters

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DylanFarrowI don’t think I have ever watched a Woody Allen film. If I have I probably was unaware that it was his. It wasn’t because I was boycotting him. I just never found his ideas very interesting. Maybe there’s a reason for that and now I have very good reason to boycott his films all together. If you haven’t seen or heard yet, Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan, recently wrote an open letter to him and his fan’s in an op-ed in The New York Times. Her letter obviously struck a chord with me as a fellow survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I also sympathize with her because like her, I was afraid no one would believe me because everyone liked my step-father. She is fortunate that her mother and other family members have stood by her side. It is unfortunate, however, that the courts decided to drop anything against Allen because having a young girl testifying would have been traumatic for her. Would it? Maybe for the time being but growing up knowing that someone who is capable of such heinous acts has been free to continue those acts as well as prosper and gain notoriety as someone influential and talented can be more traumatizing. Having to live everyday with those nightmares and to have to be constantly reminded of that person can be worse. Woody Allen should have been charged and sent to jail. He should have never have the opportunity to become the person that he has become.

I’ll be honest. What really makes me angry about all of this is how the general public has reacted. I never knew anything about Dylan until the Golden Globes when I started seeing news reports about Mia and Ronan’s tweets regarding the perverted Allen. Since then, I have been sick over the celebrity reaction to her story. Why in the hell do so many people support him? I think a lot of it goes back to society’s general idea of what a pedophile or child molester looks and acts like. Allen has gained a lot of support from other celebrities because they have a hard time believing that he could do such a thing. This breaks my heart. When will people realize that child molesters don’t fit any certain mold? They don’t look any certain way. Most of the time, they are people that you know and trust.

It is very important to not doubt or blame the victims. This isn’t helping. Stories like Dylan’s are very important in our fight against sexual abuse and assault. Victims need to know that coming forward and talking about it will help prevent abuse and put these monsters behind bars. I really hope that Dylan knows she has support. I support her and truly hope that she has found peace and healing in her life.

You can find Dylan’s letter here.

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5 Things Never to Say to a Survivor of Abuse

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I think that it’s very important for people from all corners understand how to approach others when they reveal that they have been abused.  Some people are well meaning but don’t understand how their comments can be very insensitive and sometimes also justify the actions of those that abused us.

  1. You need to forgive that person and move on with your life. The problem with this thinking is it’s not that easy and the “forgive and forget” mentality lets the perpetrator off the hook. Not all of our abusers have faced punishment and in my case, probably never will thanks to ridiculous laws. I don’t equate forgiveness to the idea of letting it go. Forgiveness gets rid of any punishment and life continues on as normal. Letting it go is something that happens after the victim is satisfied with the amount of therapy and release of  mental tormenting caused by the abuse. They are able to not allow the abuse control who they are as a person and don’t use it as an excuse to hurt others.
  2. Let it go (aka. Get over it). No. No. No. Don’t ever say this to someone that has been assaulted, abused, molested, raped, etc. This sort of thing doesn’t just happen on command and can take years and years for a victim to recover from. How about you just get over your grandma’s death? Oh, you’re still sad about that? Get the picture? Sexual abuse can seriously paralyze some people emotionally and sexually. They don’t just “get over it.”
  3. Why didn’t/don’t you call the police and turn that person in?
    The problem with sexual abuse and assault is that it’s not talked about enough. Most victims are terrified to say anything. In my case, I was plagued by guilt on so many levels. I also didn’t know that the clock was running out of me. The statute of limitations ran out in my state over 4 years ago. Back then, I was still trying to convince myself that everything was ok, but it was definitely not. In other cases, the victim feels like no one will believe him/her or perhaps they feel threatened. I recently found out that my stepfather molested and raped another family member for years. He had threatened her that he would kill the entire family if she told anyone. Given that a rapist or molester will only serve a relatively small sentence, any victim would be terrified of what could happen once that prison sentence is over or they are out on parole. In my case, I was told that my mother would be the one to kill everyone and herself. He played on her mental instability and knew exactly what he was doing. I still have that irrational fear. Others may lose their entire family in the process or even to greater lengths, their entire town could turn against them depending on who the abuser is. Just look at the Stubenville case.
  4. Gross. That was too much information! I got this once after revealing that I had been molested to a close friend. I was shocked. I expected a little more sympathy than that. Seriously, though, if child sexual abuse grosses you out consider the fact that one out of every seven kids you know is probably being abused. This statistic is only based on what is reported. It could be higher than that. So consider that there are victims that sit next to you at work or church and run the register at the grocery store. There are a lot of us. It’s too common. If you are going to be grossed out about it, then stand up and help do something to stop it. Apathy isn’t what we need and making you comfortable shouldn’t be our top priority.
  5. That person doesn’t LOOK like a child molester/rapist.  News Flash: just because a guy has a tan wind breaker and weird mustache does not make them an automatic candidate for sexual violence! There are people leading churches, schools, colleges, military, organized sports, etc. that have been convicted of sexually abusing children. These are people that the community looked up to and respected. Most of the time they have good taste in clothes and are very charismatic. If they aren’t leading, they are infiltrating organizations that have weaknesses so they have easy access to their victims. There have been attractive, young female teachers that sexually abused male students. This is just as wrong as a male teacher having sex with a 12 year old female student. They are still predators and manipulators. Looks can be deceiving. Don’t let yourself be fooled! Other predators are right under your nose. In my case it was my step-father. Most kids are abused by someone that has access to the living quarters like close friends or family members.

What does all of this amount to? When someone confides in you that they have been abused, the best thing you can do for that person is to believe them. If they are a minor and you feel that the abuse is ongoing, you have an obligation to report it. The other thing is to be genuinely there for that person. When I finally came out about my abuse earlier this year, I talked many ears off on top of writing this blog. It was the best thing for me. Knowing that others cared enough to listen and understand me and be a sounding board for my thoughts was such a gift!

 

 

Project Unbreakable

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projectunbreakable

I have been really tied up with school lately so I haven’t had a lot of time to orchestrate the posts that I wanted to. However, I did just come across this amazing project on Facebook and I wanted to share. It’s called Project Unbreakable. It was started by 19 year old, Grace Brown who took pictures of people holding signs of quotes from their attackers. The abuse ranges from adult rape to child molestation. The goal is to bring more awareness to the issue through the art of photography. Her project has been featured in the media. Glamour Magazine and The Huffington Post just to name a few.

I wanted to share this because so many of these quotes hit home for me and I know that I could add to the ones that I already looked at.

Here would be some of my submissions:

“Dads and daughters do it all over the world, all the time. It’s totally normal.”

“It’s our little secret. If your mom finds out she would kill me or put me in jail. You love me too much to let that happen, right?” *** Unfortunately, even after my mother found out, she did nothing anyway and is still married to this man.

“I guess he just wanted to make you all his.” My mother after I confronted her when I was 18.

I could go on and on.

You can follow them on Facebook or check them out on Tumbler. Also, please share it! This is wonderful way to give power to survivors and let other victims know that they are not alone.

We may be scarred but we are not broken.

Pedophiles, Molesters and Incest- Oh My!!!

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dorothyThey are everywhere. You probably know some. They are friends, family, neighbors, fellow church members, church leaders, teachers, doctors… you name it, they have filled those shoes. Yes, Virginia, child molestation is a big problem in our country. It’s a bigger problem worldwide especially if you throw in child sex trafficking and child brides. It’s 2013, folks! Children are not worthless pieces of property anymore. I say all of this because I find it disheartening how little people give a shit about the subject. There has been interest in my story but sometimes I feel like it’s because it’s a sideshow for someone else’ entertainment. This is a serious topic that affects millions of people, not just me. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to talk about. It’s gross to hear. It’s sad when you find out that someone you know or love has been victimized. It’s also maddening when you find out that you know someone who was the perpetrator, especially when it’s someone you have been emotionally tied to in a good way. It’s hard to look at that person different or imagine that they should be in prison for the rest of their lives. I get that, I really do.

I know it’s a difficult subject. I understand that it’s a hard pill to swallow that you probably know a child that is being repeatedly violated by another person you know.  You want to know how we get them to stop? We start talking about it. We bring it up at the dinner table. We talk to our kids and other parents. We get the word out that we know how to spot a pedophile and we know what to look for in a child that is being abused. Turning a blind eye or a deaf ear is not the right thing to do. If you can put your energy into fighting for or against gay rights, abortion, the environment, animals, etc. then you can put a tiny bit of effort into this subject. The good news for you is that it doesn’t cost any money or time, just your attention.

Here’s what I want you to know. I want you to know how to spot a potential pedophile. They aren’t always that creepy looking guy with a pencil mustache and Coke-bottle-bottom glasses. They can be as good-looking as Brad Pitt, as successful as a top university’s football coach, a spiritual leader or even female. I also want you to know how to recognize that a child is being violated, especially your own children. We also need to understand how to protect our children without causing unnecessary fear or being a crazy helicopter parent.

The next few posts will address these three topics. It’s a sort of research project for me. If any of my readers would like to add their two cents on how to spot pedophiles, victims or how to talk to kids about it, please leave a comment or private message me and I’ll add your words with credit into these posts.

Statute of Limitations

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In the past, there were a few select people who I had told about my abuse. Most of the time they would ask if I would press charges against my step-father. I always convinced myself that I wouldn’t press charges because I didn’t want to go through the process of court dates and such. I also live in a different state which complicate that. Nobody ever really asked me that question until I was well into adulthood. I didn’t really start waking up from the emotional coma that I was in until recently. By the time I was asked about that, I had already gotten married and had my son. I was also playing pretend, just like my mother, trying to convince everybody that everything was fine. I basically told everyone that I didn’t believe that he was a threat to the public and that I was purely a matter of convenience since I lived with him. I figured that he only abused me because I lived in the same house as him but I really didn’t think that he was, or ever would, prey on anyone outside of the house. I  also was working on my relationship with my mother and giving her a clean slate and a second chance with me. This was all before I found out that I wasn’t his first victim and I began to “wake up.”

I beat myself up about this when I first came to terms with the abuse. I’m over that now but it is something worth discussing. I’m from Oklahoma. The statute of limitation used to be only 5 years but was extended to 7 years in 1990. Senator Debbie Leftwich (OKC-D) even said that 7 years was not enough time for most victims. In 2005 the statute was finally raised to 12 years after discovery. It’s really confusing though. Even at 12 years passed “discovery, ” the latest that I could have done anything would have been over 3 years ago. I’m not mad at myself anymore about it but I sure do wish that this law would be overturned in favor of no statute of limitations for victims like myself.

Sometimes I think, what if I lived in a state with no limitation? Would I go through with pressing charges at this point? Just the thought makes my stomach turn because I am still fighting with my own cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, I don’t want him to harm anyone else and justice must be served but on the other hand… he was my dad and even though I can’t stand him now, the little girl inside of me loved him at some point- for years. Logically, my mother should be charged as well for enabling the abuse and not reporting it. I still have mixed feelings about her as well. I feel like their lives are really shitty right now so do I really want to go and make it even worse? I think it all goes back to the fact that I think that I would feel horribly guilty of any punishment that was bestowed upon them. It’s all so conflicting!

So, I’d like to throw this question out there to other readers that have a similar past. Did you live in a state with the statutes or not? If your perpetrator is free because of these laws, how do you internally justify things without beating yourself up about it? All in all, I think that all citizens need to be made aware of these kinds of laws. Not everyone is completely aware. Even my own step-father was ill-informed way back when it was only 2 years. He thought that if he didn’t penetrate me, then it wasn’t illegal. He couldn’t have been more wrong. His ass would still be in jail right now or at least be on the sex offender registry.

Here is a list of state-by-state statutes for anyone interested from the NDAA.

 

 

The Dark Parts of My Heart

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As positive and upbeat I may portray myself, there are still skeletons in my closet and deep dark secrets that I will probably never share. It’s ok. We all have those. Some of them might not even really be a secret but rather how you really feel about something or someone. One of those skeletons for me was how I really felt about my parents. Even though on the outside my relationship with them seemed to be normal but what I felt on the inside was far from it. Keeping in mind that I just came forward about my abuse and started this blog about two months ago, I am really having to face how I truly feel about these people. I sometimes felt bad for the way I felt. I never let anyone know about it because I didn’t want anyone to thing that I was lacking in ethical standards. The truth is, however, I always secretly hoped that my parents would just drive themselves off a cliff or something.

I feel terrible for having those thoughts because I am not a violent person nor do I wish death upon anyone but I had never really faced the pain within the deep, dark crevices of my heart. I suppose that I felt, in a way, that if they were deceased then my pain would magically disappear. I realize now that probably wouldn’t be the case. The one thing that would most likely disappear would be my mother’s drama but that has gone away… for now.

One of the fears that I had about disowning them was that they would get suicidal. My dad has always been depressed and had, in the past, mentioned very coyly people who couldn’t handle life anymore and just snapped. It’s also one of the reasons that I never pressed charges. I convinced myself that he was of no danger to the public and just didn’t think it was necessary. Truthfully, I just didn’t want to go through the drama of court appearances, my mother and the possibility of him committing suicide to avoid being raped in prison.

My fear of disowning my mother had more to do with her mental state. She always made it seem like I was her “savior” and that she couldn’t live without me. I hated this. She was almost co-dependent on me. I was not dependent on her, thank goodness! She felt like I needed to fill the gaps in her life that she couldn’t fill with legitimate friends and family. Well, they all hate her so I felt like I had no choice. I was scared and I still am a bit of what she is capable of. The woman is bat-shit crazy and is just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

I do live about a 7 hour drive away from her which is good. The other day I had a thought that crossed my mind that scared me. What if she went on an all-out lunatic crazy-spree and drove up here to try to kill or hurt my family or me? My heart sank. She has never been that violent or even close but there are a lot of factors in her life right now that could send her over the edge not including my situation. I think that she is too narcissistic to commit suicide but I don’t know if she is crazy enough to commit homicide. I feel myself beginning to cower in fear of her much like I did when I was little but this is much more serious. I don’t want to suggest that she is capable of it because I really don’t know.

I had a dream the other night that my husband and I were taking shelter from a bunch of tornadoes in a ditch. I think we came out of it fine. I’m not superstitious nor do I believe in the validity of dream interpretations but I do know that they could mean something psychologically. Perhaps I’m in the midst of my own tornado outbreak and maybe there is one heading my way. Either way, I know today that they are not my responsibility and what they chose to do with their lives, even if they end it, is not my problem. I have to be ok with that. I have to accept that it’s not my fault and not be conflicted with the other feelings that I have because my head and my heart are surely at war with one another.

Personal Responsibility

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One of the recurring themes in my mother’s life is that of personal responsibility. She has always had a hard time accepting it. When confronted about something that she did wrong, she would always blame someone or some situation instead of just admitting that she was wrong. When confronted about not taking responsibility, she would always blame the fact that she didn’t have a mother to teach her right and wrong therefore she has a hard time recognizing when she is wrong. Ok, that’s sweet but it’s still a cop-out.

Once my brother and I both became adults, we really started to confront her about these issues. Of course there was always some excuse. One of the big things that I would push is just her overall worldview. I am a huge proponent of living in the moment. I have always had the attitude that your life and your world are what you make it. When there are people living in 3rd world slums but are very happy and people who live in multimillion dollar mansions that are miserable, that tells me that money has little to do with it and attitude is everything. So, when I would talk to her about her life and she would go on and on about how miserable she was and how it was all Dave’s fault, I would be quick to answer “then leave him.” She would always agree that it was a good idea. I even went as far as to find a 2 bedroom condo that was affordable for her just to get the ball rolling. She would stop that ball in its tracks every time.

The truth is, my mother doesn’t want to take responsibility for her own life. She loves the drama. She feels justified in putting the blame on someone else. When it really came down to it, not only did she not want to be alone but she couldn’t live without cable, internet, a nice car, a nice neighborhood, her cats, etc. She was not willing to make any sacrifices to save her relationship with her children because she knew that she would have to give up a few things in order to make it on her own.

When money finally got tight enough (she’s unemployed), Dave and her had to move out of their nice suburban rental home because they couldn’t afford the payments anymore. My grandparents allowed them to live in their investment condo for almost 1/3 of what they were paying in rent for the house. It was very generous of them but they had a condition: they wanted to leave all of their furniture and fixtures. My parents would have to put all of their things in storage. Understandable. They are in their 80’s and don’t want to be moving furniture back and forth. They had nice furniture anyway. Was my mother grateful? Fuck no. Up until I finally cut it off with her, she bitched and complained about goddamn everything.

I am a problem solver by nature. It’s part of my biological makeup. Ok, I don’t know about that but I am definitely a problem solver. I’m good at math and computers and organizing and all of that. So, when a person comes to me complaining about a problem I immediately try to help them find a solution. What is the point of suffering when there are viable solutions, right? My mother complained about everything from their furniture to not being able to get cable right away. I suggested that perhaps she could spend some time outside getting in some exercise by walking. It was spring after all so the timing was perfect. The neighborhood wasn’t nice enough so scratch that. I suggested that perhaps she should listen to music and read books and rediscover her inner artist. Well, there was an excuse for that too. I gave up.

It’s not all about taking responsibility for one’s actions but also their own life. If you aren’t happy but yet you have shelter, food and clothing, then find out why. If it’s depression then get help for it. If it’s not then try to change your worldview. I always told her that nobody will be happy for her. Nobody will live her life for her. That goes for all of us.

She even tried to blame Dave for her abusing me as a kid. I did confront her a few years ago in as loving of a manner that I could. I told her that she wasn’t a good mother. Yes, she fed me and clothed me and bought presents but that was about where it ended. She blamed him and told me that he was always coercing her to beat me and spank me and that he would tell her that is how parenting is done. I tried to sympathize with her but this just never sat well with me. She was still trying to play me on the fact that she just didn’t know any better.  I still have a hard time accepting that.

What I have learned to accept is the fact that I am an autonomous, responsible human being myself. I am responsible for not only myself but also my children which is why I had to make the heartfelt decision to cut my parents off. The welfare of my children is of utmost importance. Also, I consider my own happiness and life to be my own responsibility. While my husband and I are working hard to get a college education, I have come to terms with the fact that things might not always work out as planned. Even if we end up living in a mobile home on food stamps, I still have to be able to find pleasure and enjoyment in the little things in life. I think that I have achieved that. I consider myself one to have a “silver linings” type of attitude. It drives my husband up the wall but I really do try to be positive and stay on the sunny side of things. If I don’t, I find myself becoming like my mother which I promised myself  I will never let happen.

I also have the responsibility of ending the abuse in its tracks. I don’t care if it’s been a generational thing. It ends with me. I have caught myself a few times getting full of anger and rage and have had to find a way to stop it and level my emotions out. It’s necessary. I never want my children to go through what I did, even on a small scale. I don’t want them to have to recover from their childhood when they are adults. I want them to look back at their childhood and remember all of the fun, love, mischief, family and all of the positive things that a child should remember.

I may have missed out on my childhood but I have an inner child emerging and a responsibility to ensure that my children always remember a beautiful childhood.

My happiness is my own. My pain belongs to me. My life is a reflection of all of those things and it is my choice to turn it all into something beautiful.