Category: SAAM

S.A.A.M. 2019

Here we are, April 2019. For those that don’t know April is the month set aside by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to bring awareness to sexually based crimes. For the past several years I’ve participated in SAAM here on my blog sharing different articles I found interesting, and adding my own two cents here and there on the topics often brought to the surface during SAAM.

This year, I’m going to do something a bit different. Instead of writing my own posts I’m going to share this wonderful little booklet here with you all.

This is a peek inside Turquoise Boot Straps: A Survivor’s Thoughts by Rebecca MacCeile; available now on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format. Check it out!

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESOURCE CENTER

* 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
* In the United Stares 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
* 51.1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance.
* 52.4% of male victims report being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger.
* 49.5% of multiracial women and over 45% of American Indian/Alaska Native women were subjected to some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
* 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male 
* 1 in 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.
* 8% of rapes occur while the victim is at work.

The problem of sexual violence runs rampant, and yet rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Of the remaining 37% reported less than 10% are found to be false claims. The facts are clear, and still the culture that would rather victims of sexually based crimes remain silent prevails.

Join Rebecca MacCeile as she throws off the shackles of silence and raises her voice. Turquoise Boot Straps: A Survivor’s Thoughts provides a glimpse into her journey of self-discovery while tackling many controversial topics at the height of the MeToo era.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca MacCeile is a loving wife and mom to three rambunctious kids, twin boys and a girl. She has been an avid blogger, blogging about her life and the challenges of marriage since 2011, motherhood since 2012, and the recovery process she went through after being diagnosed with PTSD in 2013.

ALSO BY REBECCA MACCEILE

Candy Apple Butterscotch: A Memoirh

Novelties: A Collection of Unfinished Short Stories

You can find the most up to date information about Rebecca and her upcoming projects online at: www.rebeccasbookshop.com

PRAISE FOR CANDY APPLE BUTTERSCOTCH

“This is one of those books that really hits home if you’ve had a terrible relationship. Not like a bad breakup over something stupid…but the kind where you’re totally convinced that this horrible person is your soulmate.”

“The accounts of the trauma are laid out in such a way that you know what’s happening and are able to imagine it but you aren’t bombarded with intense graphic imagery, which I appreciate as a survivor myself. Would definitely recommend!”

“This amazingly written gem takes you inside the author’s world and keeps you there, making you feel like a discreet “bug on the wall.” I could not put it down.”

Wrapping Up: S.A.A.M. 2018

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Wow, from April of last year until this year sexual assault has been in the news more often than it hasn’t. Which is an overwhelming, amazing, and disheartening thing all at once. I always dreamed of having a lasting impact by choosing to speak out about my own victimization, but never would I have imagined being able to witness the turning of the tide so to speak when it comes to this very important issue.

Over the last year I’ve been involved in many spirited debates about the subject of sexual assault, harassment and sexual violence. The most common denominator I’ve heard from people who don’t support victims coming forward is this: “if those women are telling the truth, why are they just now coming forward? Why wouldn’t you go to the police immediately after such a horrible crime was committed against you?”

My answer: “It’s not that simple.”

Even before the explosion of media attention a lot of people have asked me why it took me the better part of ten years to share my story. In addition to why I keep sharing my story over and over again, but mostly the question I hear most frequently is “why now?” I’ve been thinking about that aspect of regaining my voice for the past few months trying to come up with an answer.

Like any crime of an intimate nature such as sexual assault or rape there are many intricacies involved in the incident itself and the time immediately surrounding it. A big part of the reason it took me several years to begin to speak up about what happened to me is the fact that I repressed the memories for so long. The incident itself happened in December of 2005, and the first memory that resurfaced from the fog of repression happened in April of 2013. It took me an additional two years before I felt comfortable publishing my account, and an ADDITIONAL two years before I told my family what happened. Twelve years from the time I was violated so violently, until I built up the courage to inform my family. I didn’t even tell them, I printed out and shared what I wrote here to the world with them.

Why? Why did it take so many years before I was ready to confront what occurred and heal from it?

A lot of it stemmed from the fact that I entered into a relationship with my rapist soon after the attack. If I hadn’t been so busy loving my attacker, I’m fairly certain that the memories would have resurfaced more quickly. Instead I spent the next two years immediately following the attack, deeply in love with my rapist. That contributed a lot to the denial I eventually faced once my memories resurfaced, the guilt I felt if I were to “oust” him as it where.

The deeper intricacies surrounding that stem from my lifetime of emotional abuse at the hands of my mother. I felt that love was entirely self sacrificial and I maintained that stance until I began therapy in August of 2013. I was still very much in love with my attacker, even after our relationship ended. I felt that to remain true to my feelings of love for him and “prove” how much I cared about him that I had to maintain my silence. That is the biggest emotional reason I waited several years after my memories resurfaced.

There were also many logistical reasons that I didn’t immediately run to the police to file a report. For one, immediately after the relationship ended I moved to a different state. I returned to my hometown for visits here and there but never moved back making the legal system fairly defunct. I saw no point in reporting the case when I couldn’t follow through with pressing charges. I also saw no reason to drag up the past and put his family life in jeopardy. I thought that I was coping just fine and didn’t need to stir up emotions that I thought I had already dealt with. I was wrong. I hadn’t been properly coping, nor had I addressed all of the repressed emotions that accompanied the assault.

The third and final reason that made going to the police one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my adult life was fear. For all intents and purposes I was Emily Doe, and my assailant was Brock Turner. His father is an educated, successful, decorated military hero with many legal resources, money and political connections at his disposal. At the time I was a stay at home mom, who hadn’t yet finished my high school diploma let alone continued my education. My marriage and family was just getting started, and financially we ran a tight budget. Plenty of money to live comfortably, but not enough to spend on attorneys for a court case that would last several months at the very least and no political connections in my old home town. When I first walked through that door at the police station telling them that I wanted to report a crime, I was terrified that I would see jail time and my assailant would go free based simply upon his social status compared to my own. I’d like to think that my assailant’s father has more integrity than Brock Turner’s father, but I’ll never know since my case never made it in front of a judge.

The fact that I couldn’t be sure how much sway my assailant’s father would have over a judge caused my anxiety to spin wildly out of control, my PTSD to explode out of remission, and me to hesitate when calling the police for anything related to my assailant and his influence over my life. Twelve years later, I’d finally had enough. It got to the point where I would rather spend time in jail than have to endure my assailant harassing me and cyber stalking me any longer. I had reached my absolute whits end.

My fears weren’t exactly unfounded. As I said the case never went before a judge. If my assailants father had any involvement in the matter it happened entirely behind the scenes never making it to public knowledge. I was at least vindicated of my own alleged crimes even if I’ll likely never see justice for those committed against me. I was cleared of making false accusations, and I can speak my truth without fear of the legal system throwing me under the buss. That’s about as good as it’s going to get for me.

Would it have been any different if I hadn’t endured memory repression after the trauma, or if I had gone to the police immediately after the memories resurfaced? I can only speculate at this point, but no I don’t believe it would have. In fact, I think twelve years ago if I had come forward immediately after the crime I would have ended up in jail for “making a false accusation” or at least in a mental hospital against my will for incorrect treatment of a disease that wasn’t widely diagnosed in the general public until five years after I was raped.

This is where things get infinitely complicated… I regret that I didn’t recognize and get out of the toxic relationship sooner. I regret that I wasn’t able to come forward immediately after the crime took place. I don’t regret waiting to go through my most important phases of treatment and recovery before I came forward and I’m not ashamed that it took me eleven years to do so.

If I had one parting word of advice or encouragement for victims it’s this: take time to feel and process your emotions before jumping into the court system if at all possible. Police are trained to mess with your head as part of the interrogation process. It’s not easy to endure even with the confidence and undeniable proof that you have been victimized. If it takes you two months, awesome. Two years? Okay. Two decades? Great! In order for rape culture to finally reach it’s demise we have to be stronger. In order to speak your truth loud and proud, you have to be healthy. Take care of yourself first. Even if your assailant doesn’t see justice in this world, your recovery is the most important outcome of all.

SAAM: Guest Post

Up first on my roster of guest posts for SAAM is one of my long time blogging buddies CWMartin from Tilting at Windmills. He’s been a follower since my blogger days, and has even become a close friend over the years. I respect his opinion a whooooooooole lot so he is one of the only people I asked to write from a specific view point.

The following post contains something you rarely see, a Biblical perspective on the topic of sexual assault. Many people are quick to point out all the instances of assault and/or rape through out the Bible as a reason why Christianity is an outdated and flawed religion, but Chris sheds light on the other side of the coin.

Comments are OPEN this year, but will be strictly monitored. Respectful debate is welcome!

You can find more of CW’s writing over at:

http://humbleauthorbsp.blogspot.com/
Sunday Message: Sexual Assault and Me

A friend of mine on The Patchwork Diaries asked me to help her out with a guest post for her annual series on Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Specifically, she wanted a Biblical perspective. Now, this is a very serious, very emotional subject that requires a more sober hand than the snark that pervades even my Sunday Message posts, so I asked a time period to pray over whether I was qualified to do such a post. But in my very first cursory research, I hit a verse that so convicted me, that I knew I was going to have to do this. And, I knew things would never be the same afterwards. But I’ll get to that on the other end.
Sexual Assault comes up many times in the Bible. Everybody is familiar with the egregious example of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19; many may know about the very similar case of of the near-destruction of the Tribe of Benjamin in Judges 19-20. Both of these dealt with a culture of debauchery, an evil so great that- at least until the stories the last two New Years Eves in Germany- we would find hard to even wrap our minds around.
Many would be familiar with the story of David’s son Amnon, who raped his half-sister Tamar in 2 Samuel 13; and there are other examples. I want to look at a few things in these stories, and a few others that you might not necessarily put into the topic.
First, Sodom and Gomorrah. Two things about this story jump out to me. First, these people had a total lack of respect or regard for anything and anyone. And that fits most predators well. But what allows for such a climate? Well, how about the attitude of Abraham’s nephew Lot? For when the mob came to demand Lot’s angelic guests, HE was ready to comply, sort of, by passing them his virgin daughters instead. This kind of societal attitude can only grow when good people give in to the morals of the evil around them. And God’s opinion on the event? He let the mob spend their last hours on earth as blind in their eyes as they were in their souls.
Now, before you think societal attitudes didn’t matter in this story, let’s look at Ezekiel 16, wherein the prophet is told exactly why God destroyed Sodom:

49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

The Benjamin story is nearly a mirror image, except it is a concubine who actually does get sent out, actually does get gang raped and murdered, and the payback comes from the rest of Israel rather than directly by the Hand of God. The one additional lesson in this story is that Israel had no luck eradicating the evil until they “inquired of the Lord.” Get that? This is not a battle against a foe you can face down alone- and God is more than willing to help- IF you ask Him.

The story of Amnon and Tamar is also well known to many who have suffered assault by, as 3 out of 4 rape victims do, someone they knew. Tamar begged him not to do it, he did anyway, convinced he “loved” her. Afterwards, he saw her as garbage. Sadly there is no happy ending in this tale. She ended up “desolate”, and he ended up dead. One more point pertinent here- Amnon acted after being “egged” on by a cousin. How many men wouldn’t have the “courage” to commit the crime were it not for someone who, silently or verbally, encouraged the act?
But now let me look at some passages that tell a bit different story. If we learned anything from the recent elections, is that sexual assault need not always be physical, or carried out “all the way”. It can be a grope, or a “locker room conversation.” Here are some more examples in that vein.
Judah had three sons. The first born, Er, married a girl also named Tamar, whose story ends in the genealogy of Jesus himself. But for our purposes, we stop partway through the tale. You see, Er was evil, and God “killed him” before he was able to consummate his marriage. So Judah, as was his right, passed her on to the second son, Onan. In their culture, the brother had a duty to raise up children in his dead brother’s name. But Onan was a piece of work as well, and he availed himself of the pleasure, but “spent his seed on the ground.” And this is abuse of another shade- let’s call it dereliction of his duty to his wife. He was willing to take what he wanted, but not to give what he was bound to. You’ll find this story in Genesis 38.
Our next story is of Judah’s sister Dinah. A foreigner from the city of Shechem “fell in love” with her, and raped her. He apparently did love her, and in his mind apparently the ends justified the means- just say no not being a consideration in the culture. After admitting the crime, he, his father, and their entire city were willing to do the penance her brothers demanded- they would all be circumcised. As the story plays out, though, the brothers attacked while they were recovering and killed them all. Takeaways here are two-fold- if you DO love her, the ends do not justify the means, and no means no even if; and, this sort of thing will rarely end well.
Two stories left. The first, and it may surprise you, is David and Bathsheba. The Bible narrative (2 Samuel 11) never really paints Bathsheba as unwilling; she seems all right with everything. But ask yourself- what would it have mattered if she wasn’t? David was KING; he could do what he wanted. He could have raped her, had her husband murdered, and forced her to marry him, and she couldn’t have said a word. How interesting, then, that in the narrative, she DOESN’T say a word.
An additional thought at this point: David, for all of being “a man after God’s own heart”, failed to set an example for his sons. He had eight wives and an affair. Of his sons, Amnon raped his sister; Absalom killed Amnon for the crime, revolted against his father, and slept with David’s concubines IN PUBLIC just to rub his face in it. And Solomon? He had 700 wives and 300 concubines! And at the end of his life, all his great forgotten wisdom could teach him was how vain his life had been. Sexual sin doesn’t rob your example; it just makes it a horrible example.
Finally, how about Jesus and the adulteress who was about to be stoned in John 8? Here’s the thing here- maybe there wasn’t an assault; maybe the woman was just as guilty as the men said. But the men were basing the stoning on Leviticus 20:10, where it says BOTH parties are to be stoned. WHERE WERE THE GUILTY MEN? Their society had assaulted women by making the “law” change until it was SOLELY the woman’s fault. We were speculating on what Jesus was writing on the ground as they listed the charges against her- I’m betting it was a list of the men in the group who had slept with her, who would be called into the circle next. And I’ll bet that, upon reading the list, they were the first of the group to melt away after Jesus told them to let the one without sin cast the first stone.

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Okay, now we get to the personal hard part. As I said, I was doing a little research, I soon came to one of those “annoying” sites that name a Biblical subject and then throw any and every verse that can remotely be tied to to it. And the first of those verses damned me to the core:
Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Wow. And He’s right.
I have bent to the mob rule. Not out of fear, but of how it flatters my pride. I’ve accepted things because they were “acceptable”- and because they made me look good, feel good. Guilty as charged.
I have joined in the “locker room conversations” and done inappropriate things, encouraged by those I surrounded myself with. Guilty as charged.
I have treated women as objects. I have been the leering one, the “objectifier”. Guilty as charged.
I have been derelict of duty. If I have learned anything from David Jeremiah’s series on Agape love, I have learned that I have NEVER really known the kind of love that I SHOULD have given to a woman- any woman for that matter. Guilty as charged, in every sense.
I have taken advantage, trusting that the ends justified the means. Take, take, take, and never knowing what to give, how to give, or even TO give. And really never caring. Guilty as charged.
I have used my power in a situation to get, or attempt to get, my way. Guilty as charged.
I have played the hypocrite in defending myself- to God and to myself- many, many times. Guilty as charged.
I have DEFINITELY set the bad example. The times I have let my son down in this regard have been an ongoing and constant thing. I can only praise God that God did a better job with him than I did. Guilty, guilty, guilty as charged.

I know I am not alone in this. You never raped a woman, groped a woman, whistled as she walked by? Good for you. Have you used your power, to watch porn and take advantage of women who would never be on that screen if not for men like us providing them a reason and teaching them that’s all they’re good for? Have you truly loved your wife as Christ loved the Church- do you even realize what all that entails? Have you just went along with the standards of the day, in your mind if not in deed? Guilty as charged.
Women, I hope you draw from this story one clear fact- God is there, He cares, and is waiting only for you to ask to start helping you in whatever healing you require.
Men, I hope you draw from this TWO clear things. First, that assault covers a LOT of ground, and it may well be that we are ALL guilty at some level. And second, if you are doing it to HER, you are doing it TO JESUS. And that should chill you to the bone. It certainly did to me.

SAAM: Survivor Story Pt 1

The memories are missing but the pain is still there. I can remember before and after but none of the in-between. I’ve been warned that over time I’ll remember more. It will be hard but as my brain gets older the block will whither. As will the the blocked out memories of my dad beating up my mom.

I was so small, around 7 years old. My brother came home from playing basketball with a friend, Ray. My brother and Ray are in the living room whispering and giggling.

I lay curled up next to my mom in my long oversized tshirt. That’s what I always wore around, just a single extra large tshirt and my Barney panties. I was feeling sleepy and was just about to doze off when my brother told me to follow them, they had something to show me.

I fumbled around, drowsily, behind my brother to his bedroom. Ray was already there, his shirt suddenly missing. My brother closes the door and tells me he has something to show me and that I can’t say anything. It’s very important that I never say anything and that its gonna be a secret. That’s when he starts to unzip his pants…

Suddenly im on the floor, curled up and scared. I hear Ray tell my brother he should take me back to the living room, put me with my mom. I can feel the tears in my face and im shaking.

My brother takes me to the couch and I lay back down next to my mom. I don’t sleep. I just kind of sit there, and stare. Until eventually I drift off into some kind of sleep.

I stopped talking much after. I stopped smiling too. I became very disobedient and angry. I can remember going into the office and having CPS ask me if anyone has ever touched me. But I say no. Probably because I can’t remember anything happening, so I assumed nothing happened. Still, there is an empty void and sadness I can’t shake. A constant fear that dwells within me, unyielding. I go through my whole life afraid of boys, afraid of sex, deathly afraid of RAPE and being RAPED. I can’t even walk down the street alone without being terrified.

When I got married and lost my virginity, sex was always painful. Sometimes in the middle Id have panic attacks and have to stop. The pain was always so unbearable. Even so much as fingers penetrating me hurt badly. I hated sex… I avoided it as much as I could.

Finally, when I was 24 years old I went to the doctor and got help. I admitted everything and started crying and told that I didn’t even know if anything happened because I can’t remember. But sex hurts so bad and im so scared of it! They did an exam and found lots of scar tissue near my cervix and in the entrance.

The hardest part of finding out there was actually trauma was telling my mother. To see her cry and breakdown and feel like she had failed me. It is so hard to see your hero like that. I’ve loved my mom more than anything my whole life… And to see her say she wishes she could hurt her own son hurts. To see her think she is a terrible mother hurts so much. She is not. It was not her fault as much as it wasn’t my fault. And my dad, well he doesn’t know. He doesn’t because if he did, I would only ever see him in an orange jumpsuit until the day he died. He’d never get to meet his grandchildren because he’d be in jail for murder.

I underwent surgery to remove this scar tissue. Paired with therapy, I feel like I’m doing tons better. Sex is no longer the most painful thing in the world and I can get intimate up to 2 or 3 times a month now. Which seems so little, but when you were only doing it once every 3 or 4 months, that is a huge difference and lots of progress.

It hasn’t been an easy journey. I also suffer from Bipolar and Anxiety disorder. These things make sexual trauma that much harder to deal with. It’s exhausting. But im making strides and pulling through it slowly. I’ve become so strong. Im not afraid to say it now…

I was raped.

It is not okay. It is never okay.

If you have suffered from such a thing, speak out. It never helps anything to hold it all in, it only tears you apart and hurts you even more. Let it go, love yourself, know it’s not your fault and you don’t deserve it.

You are beautiful and whatever happened to you does not define you and never will.

-Survivor

Dear Readers

triggerwarningThis month at The Patchwork Diaries we’re discussing some very intense subjects. Please be aware that any and all posts during the month of April could be triggering to survivors and those recovering from sexual abuse.

Also, due to the highly emotional nature of our survivor stories comments have been disabled on certain posts. If you would like to reach out to us please feel free to contact us via our Facebook page: The Patchwork Diaries.

We will return to our regular posting shenanigans on May 1st.

Thank you,

The Patchwork Diaries

Kelli Goes to Court

Another old post that didn’t make it to publication last year. I held this one waiting to see the outcome of reporting my rape to law enforcement. Since things have pretty much settled down on that front I felt comfortable publishing the details of my case here. Not that I have any details that will affect the case. It’s still open, but it’s not likely to move forward. Unless my assailant has another mental breakdown followed by several WTF moments and gets caught anyway. Possible? Yes. Probable? Not likely. At least he’s not likely to pursue me anymore if his head gets away from him again. I’ve accepted the “end” to my case. But now I feel comfortable publishing it too. 

Omg this summer has been ridiculous. I’ve spent more time in legal battles over the past summer than I’ve ever been entangled in the court system before in my life. Now that I can finally talk about it…

The whole thing started with my mom and the assault. That was weird being swept up by the state and county prosecutor tumbled headlong into the most drawn out, court case I’ve ever seen. Of course before that incident I hadn’t been involved in any court preceedings lol. I’ve always been threatened with things, but this was the first time I actually went through everything.

Then, our builder tried to ghost us and leave our contract in limbo. That was an entire fiasco in itself holding everything up as far as purchasing a new home went. So I’ve got criminal court over here with my mom, and small claims court over there with the builder. I wanted to take it further and report him to the licensing board, county, state, BBB, you name it but I couldn’t because everything was in Hubs’ name. He just wanted to be done so we could buy a home. The more rational decision for sure, but my inate sense of justice was crushed. That happens a lot so I’m rather used to it by now lol.

THEN… things exploded with my ex and I finally filed a report about the rape/abuse I endured during the beginning stages of our relationship. That was the icing on the cake so to speak. The entire reason I ended up reporting the incident in the first place is because we got into an argument here on my blog. Instead of leaving me alone after we each said our piece, he continued to pursue me by sending me several emails. He wasn’t threatening by the legal definition, but his intentions were clearly implied. I responded to his emails asking that he discontinue further contact. He didn’t. So I called the police and submitted all of our most recent contact for them to review. Of course the fight we got into was about my S.A.A.M. advocacy and finally speaking up as a victim of a violent crime at his hand.

During the entire fiasco with two different police departments trying to get everything sorted out in the right jurisdiction, several officers asked me if he had indeed raped me. I answered honestly that he had which is why I began writing about it in the first place. The only thing that each jurisdiction could agree on is that I needed to go forward and file the report making my claims official. Off I went to a THIRD jurisdiction to file the report. It had been almost eleven years since the crime had occurred at that point, and while I was within the statute of limitations for that jurisdiction they still didn’t have enough physical evidence to build a solid case. The investigation is still technically open, and each jurisdiction has my name and contact information so I can testify if he finds himself in trouble again.

Which is absolutely killing me. I only wanted to take the appropriate steps to get him to leave me and my family alone. Now I’m wrapped up in three different jurisdictions for at least nine more years when the statute expires on my case. I appreciate the effort made by each officer, prosecutor and victims advocate I spoke to. They want to help me. They know that I’m a victim, but their hands are tied in bureaucracy. I don’t have any physical evidence that is solid enough for the US legal system to go on. It’s enough for law enforcement to verify that I’m not making false accusations, but it’s not enough for the lawyers and prosecutors to take the case in front of a judge.

It’s political. No one stands to gain anything from my case going forward. They’re keeping it on the back burner on the off chance that they need something highly publicized to boost their career. Maybe during the next election cycle the file will be opened again, but until then I’m just left in limbo with countless other victims who couldn’t come forward immediately or didn’t have “enough evidence” when they did. It’s disheartening to say the least, but it’s the way things are. This is why I continue my advocacy. This is why I keep on telling my story. It may not make a difference in my lifetime, but it will make a difference over all. Eventually the politicians won’t be able to ignore the Voice of the Innocent any longer.

SAAM 2017 Review 

April is a weird month for me. It’s always been a fairly triggering month even before I became involved with SAAM.

Long story short, my second assault happened in December. I lived with my attacker in an undefined sexual relationship until late February when we got into a fight where blows were exchanged. I moved out, but still owed him rent. So I met him at work one afternoon in late March to set up a time he could come pick up the money. After that we began talking again fairly regularly and ended up renewing our sexual relationship with a MUCH better definition in April.

When the complete memories of my assault surfaced years later, it also happened in April. That was extremely difficult knowing April was when we got back together in the first place. It really took me a few years to come to terms with the fact that I willingly went back to bed with the same man who raped me only a few months before. Especially considering that it was just sex with no strings attached before it took a nose dive into abusive dysfunction, and false promises of a more serious, committed relationship.

I still don’t really know why I went back to him. The memories of the actual assault were repressed. That was a big part of it. It wasn’t as shocking back then as it would be now for me to boomerang back to him. Yet, it bothers me none the less. The best sort of thing I can come up with aside from the repression is that I felt so broken, and worthless, and he was the only person who’d ever shown any sort of interest in me. A violent, toxic and unhealthy interest but I didn’t understand that until many years later. I was craving intimacy to feel whole again, and he was the only guy I knew willing to provide it. Plus, the idea of sex with a different partner was scary and made me sick to my stomach. Which should have clued me in that something was wrong, but it didn’t. PTSD memory repression at it’s finest.

It all happened in April, and now that I’ve come to terms with everything and really decided to move forward, choosing to use April, SAAM, to tell my story and raise awareness… it brings up a lot of those misplaced feelings of guilt. For a long time immediately after I began my treatment I felt guilty for falling in love with him. Like it was my fault that my brain shut off access to the traumatic memories, and I should have had a way to unlock it sooner. That, plus the questions of why did I go back at all, why didn’t I remember what happened to me, why didn’t I go to the police sooner, why did I stay with this guy for so long, why… why, why? From a scientific, psychological stand point it makes sense. I completely grasp the science behind it. It’s the emotions that I can’t wrangle or figure out. I already talked about that in my series this year in regards to my feelings toward my attacker. In essence it’s the same in regards to my feelings towards myself.

 I’m nearly 30 years old and I have no idea who I am. Still, have no idea who I am. I know what I do, I’m a mother, wife, author, artist, but those things don’t make me who I am. I don’t know that I’ll ever figure it out. I know I’m happy with the life I’ve made, that I have goals for my future, I’m actively (albeit slowly) working toward them, I know where I fit in the universe, I have comfort in my religion, but I still feel lost. Not nearly as much as I used to as I’ve learned to navigate much better after therapy, and with the support of my husband. Maybe that’s just part of the human experience all together…

Anyway… thank you all for reading and sharing in my journey during SAAM 2017. We’ll be back to our normal posting shenanigans on Monday.

SAAM: Born for Greatness 

If there was a theme song for SAAM 2017 I think it should be this. Every time I listen to it, I think of all the other survivors of sexual assault out there bravely sharing their stories against opposition, victim blaming, and shaming. Fighting through the mental illness that often accompanies survival of any trauma. Even those who carry the secret within them, unable to share their stories for whatever reason.

We’re not just statistics. We’re not nameless, we’re not faceless. We were born for greatness.

Guest Post: Sex Sells. Sex Crimes? The Media Decides

Next up on my guest Post roster for SAAM is NCthomas of Thinky Thoughts. She answered my call for guest bloggers, and I was instantly impressed with her writing. I’m glad I have the opportunity to share her thoughts with you all! Please stop by her blog and check out some of her other wonderful writing.

 

Sex Sells. Sex Crimes? The Media Decides

It feels like a daily occurrence that we hear or read about another sexual attack being committed. It can be from the national outrage of TV personas abusing their position of power, fame, fortune and popularity to the live rape of a woman on social media How the British media tackle the subject is a mixed bag.

The first story mentioned above is about the once so-called “British national treasure” (I guarantee not any longer) Jimmy Savile. The crimes Savile committed are wholly unbelievable and it is hard for anyone to fully take in the scope of what this man did to children, women and even, it has been claimed, corpses. I know what you are thinking when you look at photos or clips of the man; you’re thinking, “Are you kidding me Brits? You guys were shocked at finding this out? I mean, look at him!” I know what you’re saying. In fact, I agree. You only have to watch clips of Savile and how he conducted himself around young teenage women to know this man’s behaviour was not okay. In fact, it was wholly fucking unacceptable. Like this (please beware, that for some this may be distressing) clip for example

I was born later than the generation who revered Savile and so I really can’t comment on what people were thinking when they saw this kind of behaviour, or if they even noticed. What I can tell you though is that, as a nation, we were shocked and appalled by the magnitude of his crimes (which finally came to light in 2012), and not just that, but the institutions who helped cover for him.

When the story was finally released and it was out that Savile was a sexual predator, the reporting media, both print and television, joined us in our shock and disgust. A question arose: “How did this man get away with this for so long?” And that’s when the real horrible truth emerged. Not only was this man connected to very powerful people, he was also protected by powerful organisations: media organisations.

Dame Janet Smith, a UK judge, conducted an investigation into Savile and the BBC. And the shit hit the fan. Turns out that rumours had been around for years about Savile and what he was doing. It was quoted that victims never came forward with allegations due to an “atmosphere of fear” at the BBC where Savile’s career was most prominent, hosting iconic shows such as Top of the Pops where the live audience was predominantly female teenagers, or Jim’ll Fix It, a show where predominantly young children wrote in for Savile to bring them to the show and make their dream come true. These shows provided access and Smith’s report quoted many who worked for the BBC at a time when Savile did as hearing something about Savile and his actions.

  1. Radio and tv presenter Terry Wogan was approached by a journalist who asked him when Savile was going to be exposed. Wogan’s response to the journalist was that was her job. This journalist, Jean Rook, was known for her outspoken and ballsy reporting. She died in 1991. The allegations against Savile were finally made public was in 2012, Savile died in 2011. (For a timeline into the events please click here )
  2. Roger Cook, an investigative journalist, received anonymous tips that Savile was abusing patients at a hospital he volunteered at. This was in 1980.
  3. TV presenter and journalist Andrew Fleet said Savile and his exploits made their way around the rumour mill of Fleet Street (for non-Brits this is the Mecca of the British media and a lot of the time we call the press Fleet Street). In Smith’s report it is stated that these rumours were seen as amusing.

 

This is merely three examples of people who work(ed) in the media who seemed to know something about these horrific crimes. There are many more along with prolific celebrities (such as the founder of Childline, a service where children who suffer abuse can call in for support and help,) who were aware of what was going on. The report can be found in full here.

To work in the media is a competitive and, understandably, soul-destroying business. The constant search for that big headline at times can be fruitless, which can lead to utter shite like this , to the illuminating , to just plain lies . So why is it when many were given the opportunity for a big story they never took it and ran with it? I understand the so-called “atmosphere of fear” but all that means is everyone valued their career over doing what was right. That as long as they got a pay-check it didn’t matter that children were being sexually molested.

Obviously the Savile case is a very unique one, and hopefully we never hear of the likes again. So, let’s put that to the side. Let’s, for arguments sake, all agree that because of it’s uniqueness that it isn’t fair to write off the media’s handlings of uncovering sexual assault of any kind. Deal?

Okay. So let’s look at the reporting of other rapes. Less high profile, shall we say. I refer to the second link in my opening paragraph in which a woman was subjected to a gang rape that went on for hours and was streamed on Facebook Live. Did you notice whilst reading the article that in the final of the three bullet points at the beginning and the two final paragraphs of the article that the story mentions other crimes committed on Facebook Live, crimes wholly unconnected and not even under the same category as the one that is being reported upon? The finger swerves to social media and makes it share the blame in this horrendous act. The article has the tone that if it weren’t for Facebook Live then it wouldn’t have happened.

Then there is the coverage of the Stanford rapist in which a female university student was raped by a fellow student. The assailant, Brock Turner, was, quite rightly, vilified by most but there were some, including Brock Turner who chose to blame alcohol and the present culture we live in on his sickening act. Even so, due to the worldwide outrage at this story, the media were hard-pressed to cover this in any other way except for the revealing of a rapist. But there’s always one who can’t help themselves, this article’s headline is quite something and though the article does not actually state that it believes its own headlines, it chooses to go into the semantics of what legally is constituted as rape. It’s message reads as this: “Here’s what to say when this is all over.”

So far I have given examples of rape coverage in the media in which the media reports the actual event. Unfortunately many rape cases are never reported. The latest statistics for England and Wales are that an average of 11 rapes occur an hour and only 15% ever get reported. (At the time of writing this piece, I could not find statistics for Scotland or Northern Ireland.) The reasons behind not reporting these crimes can range from shame to lack of faith in the justice system. But realistically, how do you expect women to report when tv adverts like this are broadcasted on your screens? Why on Earth are messages like this directed to the perpetrator? It’s basically saying “remember not to rape, that’s illegal.” Do we do the same for murder? No! Of course we fucking don’t! It’s plainly obvious – don’t murder! And it’s that simple for rape. It’s that simple everyone. Also, where is the victims voice? If anything, that advert should be the encouragement of victims coming forward and reporting the crime.

Looking at this so far it’s hard to pinpoint what it is that qualifies the subject of sexual assault worth being reported. Considering the media helped cover Savile’s repugnant acts and adding the factor that many attacks go unreported, its easy to assume they don’t widely report on sexual attacks. Well, no actually, nothing grabs headlines better than a sex crime headline, so long as its high profile of course. I don’t need to provide links, just Google it. It’s extraordinary how many come up, particularly if you select the images tab. Yet, the strangest thing occurred only last week in Britain. What could have been a big story, one to instil outrage and disgust amongst the public, to rally us all together and say “well that ain’t happening,” was unreported.

Let me start from the beginning, in the 2015 budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the man responsible for destroying our economy whilst under the guise of trying to fix it) George Osbourne declared changes to the child tax credit system. For non-Brits the best way I can describe child tax credits is it’s a subsidy for people, with children, on low income. It’s found that child tax credit are received by lone parent families and it can be the deciding factor on whether their family eat for the next fortnight. Osbourne declared he would be capping the child tax credit to a maximum of two children. The only people who would be exempt from this restriction would be those who have had multiple children in one birth and victims of rape. In the circumstances of rape victims they have to prove their ordeal occurred in order to be viable for said tax credits. The act was passed last week, without a parliamentary vote, without coverage from the media, without outrage from the public. As the public rely on the media for such information they can be excused. So where were the media? Could it be that it was done so hush hush that even they missed it? No. One paper reported on it. And in some way that made it worse. Because it made it all the clearer that the press knew exactly what had occurred.

I wish I could come up with a decent conclusion to this blog post. I wish I could give some suggestions or some silver lining to it all. The media have a responsibility to not only inform but in some cases educate. We live in a world where we have to broadcast reminders not to rape; where when sexual assault occurs it’s blamed on alcohol and the stresses of the environment we live in; where if someone is caught joking about sexual harassment it’s branded “locker room talk” and “boys will be boys.” The media have this side covered. All the search for is the sensational story. They don’t really want to change the world. Why change the world when you benefit from the misery in it?

 


NC Thomas is probably the most boring person you’ll ever meet. She loves reading, writing, wearing pyjamas and staying indoors. On sunny warm days, a rarity in Scotland, she is known to put the central heating on.

ncthomasblog.wordpress.com – Thinky Thoughts

Guest Post: “Sunday Message: Sexual Assault and Me”

Up first on my roster of guest posts for SAAM is one of my long time blogging buddies CWMartin from Tilting at Windmills. He’s been a follower since my blogger days, and has even become a close friend over the years. I respect his opinion a whooooooooole lot so he is one of the only people I asked to write from a specific view point. 

The following post contains something you rarely see, a Biblical perspective on the topic of sexual assault. Many people are quick to point out all the instances of assault and/or rape through out the Bible as a reason why Christianity is an outdated and flawed religion, but Chris sheds light on the other side of the coin. 

Comments are OPEN this year, but will be strictly monitored. Respectful debate is welcome! 

You can find more of CW’s writing over at:

http://humbleauthorbsp.blogspot.com/
Sunday Message: Sexual Assault and Me

A friend of mine on The Patchwork Diaries asked me to help her out with a guest post for her annual series on Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Specifically, she wanted a Biblical perspective. Now, this is a very serious, very emotional subject that requires a more sober hand than the snark that pervades even my Sunday Message posts, so I asked a time period to pray over whether I was qualified to do such a post. But in my very first cursory research, I hit a verse that so convicted me, that I knew I was going to have to do this. And, I knew things would never be the same afterwards. But I’ll get to that on the other end.
Sexual Assault comes up many times in the Bible. Everybody is familiar with the egregious example of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19; many may know about the very similar case of of the near-destruction of the Tribe of Benjamin in Judges 19-20. Both of these dealt with a culture of debauchery, an evil so great that- at least until the stories the last two New Years Eves in Germany- we would find hard to even wrap our minds around.
Many would be familiar with the story of David’s son Amnon, who raped his half-sister Tamar in 2 Samuel 13; and there are other examples. I want to look at a few things in these stories, and a few others that you might not necessarily put into the topic.
First, Sodom and Gomorrah. Two things about this story jump out to me. First, these people had a total lack of respect or regard for anything and anyone. And that fits most predators well. But what allows for such a climate? Well, how about the attitude of Abraham’s nephew Lot? For when the mob came to demand Lot’s angelic guests, HE was ready to comply, sort of, by passing them his virgin daughters instead. This kind of societal attitude can only grow when good people give in to the morals of the evil around them. And God’s opinion on the event? He let the mob spend their last hours on earth as blind in their eyes as they were in their souls.
Now, before you think societal attitudes didn’t matter in this story, let’s look at Ezekiel 16, wherein the prophet is told exactly why God destroyed Sodom:

49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

The Benjamin story is nearly a mirror image, except it is a concubine who actually does get sent out, actually does get gang raped and murdered, and the payback comes from the rest of Israel rather than directly by the Hand of God. The one additional lesson in this story is that Israel had no luck eradicating the evil until they “inquired of the Lord.” Get that? This is not a battle against a foe you can face down alone- and God is more than willing to help- IF you ask Him.

The story of Amnon and Tamar is also well known to many who have suffered assault by, as 3 out of 4 rape victims do, someone they knew. Tamar begged him not to do it, he did anyway, convinced he “loved” her. Afterwards, he saw her as garbage. Sadly there is no happy ending in this tale. She ended up “desolate”, and he ended up dead. One more point pertinent here- Amnon acted after being “egged” on by a cousin. How many men wouldn’t have the “courage” to commit the crime were it not for someone who, silently or verbally, encouraged the act?
But now let me look at some passages that tell a bit different story. If we learned anything from the recent elections, is that sexual assault need not always be physical, or carried out “all the way”. It can be a grope, or a “locker room conversation.” Here are some more examples in that vein.
Judah had three sons. The first born, Er, married a girl also named Tamar, whose story ends in the genealogy of Jesus himself. But for our purposes, we stop partway through the tale. You see, Er was evil, and God “killed him” before he was able to consummate his marriage. So Judah, as was his right, passed her on to the second son, Onan. In their culture, the brother had a duty to raise up children in his dead brother’s name. But Onan was a piece of work as well, and he availed himself of the pleasure, but “spent his seed on the ground.” And this is abuse of another shade- let’s call it dereliction of his duty to his wife. He was willing to take what he wanted, but not to give what he was bound to. You’ll find this story in Genesis 38.
Our next story is of Judah’s sister Dinah. A foreigner from the city of Shechem “fell in love” with her, and raped her. He apparently did love her, and in his mind apparently the ends justified the means- just say no not being a consideration in the culture. After admitting the crime, he, his father, and their entire city were willing to do the penance her brothers demanded- they would all be circumcised. As the story plays out, though, the brothers attacked while they were recovering and killed them all. Takeaways here are two-fold- if you DO love her, the ends do not justify the means, and no means no even if; and, this sort of thing will rarely end well.
Two stories left. The first, and it may surprise you, is David and Bathsheba. The Bible narrative (2 Samuel 11) never really paints Bathsheba as unwilling; she seems all right with everything. But ask yourself- what would it have mattered if she wasn’t? David was KING; he could do what he wanted. He could have raped her, had her husband murdered, and forced her to marry him, and she couldn’t have said a word. How interesting, then, that in the narrative, she DOESN’T say a word.
An additional thought at this point: David, for all of being “a man after God’s own heart”, failed to set an example for his sons. He had eight wives and an affair. Of his sons, Amnon raped his sister; Absalom killed Amnon for the crime, revolted against his father, and slept with David’s concubines IN PUBLIC just to rub his face in it. And Solomon? He had 700 wives and 300 concubines! And at the end of his life, all his great forgotten wisdom could teach him was how vain his life had been. Sexual sin doesn’t rob your example; it just makes it a horrible example.
Finally, how about Jesus and the adulteress who was about to be stoned in John 8? Here’s the thing here- maybe there wasn’t an assault; maybe the woman was just as guilty as the men said. But the men were basing the stoning on Leviticus 20:10, where it says BOTH parties are to be stoned. WHERE WERE THE GUILTY MEN? Their society had assaulted women by making the “law” change until it was SOLELY the woman’s fault. We were speculating on what Jesus was writing on the ground as they listed the charges against her- I’m betting it was a list of the men in the group who had slept with her, who would be called into the circle next. And I’ll bet that, upon reading the list, they were the first of the group to melt away after Jesus told them to let the one without sin cast the first stone.

*************************************
Okay, now we get to the personal hard part. As I said, I was doing a little research, I soon came to one of those “annoying” sites that name a Biblical subject and then throw any and every verse that can remotely be tied to to it. And the first of those verses damned me to the core:
Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Wow. And He’s right.
I have bent to the mob rule. Not out of fear, but of how it flatters my pride. I’ve accepted things because they were “acceptable”- and because they made me look good, feel good. Guilty as charged.
I have joined in the “locker room conversations” and done inappropriate things, encouraged by those I surrounded myself with. Guilty as charged.
I have treated women as objects. I have been the leering one, the “objectifier”. Guilty as charged.
I have been derelict of duty. If I have learned anything from David Jeremiah’s series on Agape love, I have learned that I have NEVER really known the kind of love that I SHOULD have given to a woman- any woman for that matter. Guilty as charged, in every sense.
I have taken advantage, trusting that the ends justified the means. Take, take, take, and never knowing what to give, how to give, or even TO give. And really never caring. Guilty as charged.
I have used my power in a situation to get, or attempt to get, my way. Guilty as charged.
I have played the hypocrite in defending myself- to God and to myself- many, many times. Guilty as charged.
I have DEFINITELY set the bad example. The times I have let my son down in this regard have been an ongoing and constant thing. I can only praise God that God did a better job with him than I did. Guilty, guilty, guilty as charged.

I know I am not alone in this. You never raped a woman, groped a woman, whistled as she walked by? Good for you. Have you used your power, to watch porn and take advantage of women who would never be on that screen if not for men like us providing them a reason and teaching them that’s all they’re good for? Have you truly loved your wife as Christ loved the Church- do you even realize what all that entails? Have you just went along with the standards of the day, in your mind if not in deed? Guilty as charged.
Women, I hope you draw from this story one clear fact- God is there, He cares, and is waiting only for you to ask to start helping you in whatever healing you require.
Men, I hope you draw from this TWO clear things. First, that assault covers a LOT of ground, and it may well be that we are ALL guilty at some level. And second, if you are doing it to HER, you are doing it TO JESUS. And that should chill you to the bone. It certainly did to me.