Tag: assault

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

For You the Survivor

“My darling,
Be gentle with yourself.
Your hurts are already bruising,
You do not need to draw blood.

Offer yourself the kindness
You have been saving for others;
Know that you are built
For tenderness;
You are not a stone-walled fort
To withstand a siege of swords;
You are not a deep ravine
With no way out.

My darling, love yourself.
Offer yourself unto yourself
In the temple of your spirit;
You are your own redeemer.
Do not forget the depths of the soul
And that all the answers
Are a garden growing in yours.
Know you are a warm being
And that sooner or later we,
Like moths to a flame, will all
Be drawn into your orbit;

My darling,
Know that you are loved
And that even the universe has
Spent fourteen billion years
Waiting to meet you;
Do not grieve over goodbyes
Because it is a blessing
Simply to have known you –
You, who like a small candle
Have given meaning,
However brief, to the lives
Of others;

Darling,
Know that though you are strong
You were not made invulnerable;
You are not a fortress, so
Hold fast against the storms and
Dig your heels into the ground.
When it is over gather yourself
And clean out the cuts;
Know your first-aid and administer it.
Know that you have done it before
And that you can do it again, my darling;
Know that you cry because you are alive
And that it tastes so damn sweet
When you can finally face yourself
And say the words: ‘I love you, I love you,
I love you.’

SAAM Links and Resources Pt. 4

National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1.800.656.HOPE

At any given moment, more than 1,100 trained volunteers are on duty and available to help victims at RAINN-affiliated crisis centers across the country.

How does the National Sexual Assault Hotline work?

The concept behind the hotline is simple. When a caller dials 1.800.656.HOPE, a computer notes the area code and first three digits of the caller’s phone number. The call is then instantaneously connected to the nearest RAINN member center. If all counselors at that center are busy, the call is sent to the next closest center. The caller’s phone number is not retained, so the call is anonymous and confidential unless the caller chooses to share personally-identifying information.

Read More Here: https://www.rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-hotline

Survivor Stories Pt 4

It took me over three years before I shared my story online.
I was sexually assaulted in November 2011 by my roommate, who was also one of my best friends.  The trust issues it left me with bled into nearly every aspect of my life, but the strength I gained from dealing with the pain and guilt and confusion helped to build me into the person I am today.  It was a pivotal event in my life, and a large part of the reason I became a feminist blogger and activist.  I knew it was important to share with my readers in the way a superhero’s origin story is important to share.  Not that I considered myself anything like a superhero.  But anyone with a passion has more influence if they share one of the major sources of that passion.
But I hesitated to share my story on my blog, not because I was ashamed or because I didn’t think I was ready–I’d already shared it with most of the people I knew in person–but because I knew I’d be treated like dirt.  I’m a feminist blogger, after all.  We get crap for pretty much everything we say.  MRAs troll #feminism on Twitter constantly, and they are shameless.  I’d been called a “feminist cunt” for far less.  I didn’t think I could take the slut-shaming, victim-blaming attitude that I knew would be unleashed on me as soon as I released my story.
As a blogger who discusses difficult topics such as feminism, politics, and social issues, I was no stranger to being vulnerable online.  But as frank as I could be about sex, religion, race, and even my period, dealing with the hateful backlash and powering through it, talking about this horrible thing that happened to me was on its own level entirely.  And it wasn’t a level I was at yet, despite having no trouble talking about it in person.  The topic itself was my subconscious line separating “internet people” from “real people.”  If you’d have asked me outright, I’d have said I didn’t think there was a difference.  But deep down, I really did.
So I wrote drafts of it over and over for years, never hitting publish, chickening out every time at various points in the process.  I just kept putting it off, telling myself I wasn’t ready for one reason or another.
One day, out of nowhere, a little voice in my head said “it’s time.”  I hadn’t even been thinking about it, it came into my head while I was running errands on a completely normal day.  Still I knew it was true.  And I listened to that voice.  I found an old draft, edited it, formatted it, and set it up for SEO.  It told the story like a narrative, bluntly and honestly, but not shying away from the emotions I was feeling during it.  I read it through, hesitated, and then went back through and changed his name to a fake one, telling myself as I did it that he was lucky because he didn’t deserve to have his identity protected.  I read it through again, breathed deeply, and hit publish.
Then I waited.  And an hour later, the storm fell.
I was right about Twitter.  I was attacked mercilessly.  I spent a whole day trying to explain to men’s rights trolls why it really was assault, why it wasn’t my fault, why people too weak to defend themselves didn’t deserve to be assaulted.  I explained why my story wasn’t invalid because some women experienced far worse.  I got accused of “cheating” and “having an affair” (Derek was married, I was not).  I was called all kinds of names, especially coward, because part of my assault story was saying no over and over again but being too afraid of being harmed to scream or fight.  I felt like I was going to crumble into little tiny bits.  I felt alone.  I began to wish I had never posted it, thinking it didn’t help anyone, and all I’d gotten out of it was harassed.  I began to suspect that I was right all along to be afraid of that soulless, evil place called the internet.
Sinking deep into all this hurt and depression, wondering if I’d miscommunicated something in my story somehow that made all these people attack me, I added a long afterword to the post.  I clarified that Derek had been physically terrifying and that I had reason not to fight him, I explained why I hadn’t gone to the police, and I shared some of the things people had said to me that made me feel obliged to share all these defenses.  I reached into an already vulnerable heart and dug up all that was left–laying out every bit of the fear I’d felt and what I’d gone through on the table.  “Here,” I’d said, “have it all.  Maybe then you’ll understand.”
Looking back, I probably didn’t need to clarify any of it.  The story told itself, and anyone with a heart and/or brain would realize upon reading it why I would’ve been afraid to fight back or go to the police.  Those people on Twitter were just assholes, really and truly.  But I was feeling beaten down and I was desperate for people to understand me.  It was my last, flailing attempt to reach for humanity in this strange virtual space.
Shortly after I posted the update to the post, about ready to give up entirely, my blog filled with comments from my readers and blog friends.  Every single one of them was supportive.  They told me that what happened to me was awful, that it wasn’t my fault, and that I should ignore the Twitter cretin.  They told me they loved me–people I’d never met in person.  They told me I was okay, and they lifted me up.  The clouds began to clear in my heart.  I felt loved again.  I felt like there were actual human beings out there on the internet.  And I started to feel less alone.
One or two women messaged me privately to tell me how much I had helped them through their own issues with sexual assault–how just reading another woman’s story, just knowing someone else understood what they’d gone through, was huge for them.  The clouds parted some more.  Another woman told me she was inspired to share her own story on her blog after reading mine, and shared the link with me.  I cried reading her story, but I felt encouraged afterward.  It was all being paid forward.  My vulnerability and my pain weren’t for nothing, and neither were hers.
I discovered something beautiful about the internet through this experience.  It isn’t simply a hotbed of evil, nor is it a place of pure goodness.  It is a reflection of the best and the worst of humanity, made up of millions of very real people, and at the end of the day, the good means far more than the bad.  I now have faith in the internet the same way I have faith in people–some parts are horrible, and lots are mediocre, but its capacity for beauty far outweighs all of it.
And maybe it took a terrible experience to realize this, but isn’t that how we arrive at most beautiful epiphanies?  I wouldn’t take it back for the world, because the love that picked me up after being broken down not only brought me closer to my digital friends and encouraged me to continue to be brave and open online, it also taught me a valuable lesson: people are just people, whether in person or on this weird virtual reality called the internet.
Samantha Clarke has a humorous feminist blog called Jill of all Trades, where she recently shared her sexual assault story if you’d like to read it.  She can also be found spending way too much time on Twitter.

SAAM Links and Resources Pt 3

How I Forgave Myself After My Rape

After the rape, I kept what had happened close to my heart like a special secret for a long time, and doing so kept it a part of me. It was only when I started speaking the truth of what had happened to me that I was able to see it as something separate from myself — as something that happened to me, rather than something that I was. For those survivors who feel as though you are defined by the violence, none of us, including you, are defined by what has been done to us. We define ourselves. Let that secret go: hold it out apart from you so that it can be seen for what it really is.

 

Read More Here: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a18885/rape-dear-sister-excerpt/

Survivor Stories Pt 3

 I wish I hadn’t seen his struggle.

I wish I could look back and only remember the ugly times.

The times he abused me.

The times he neglected me.

The times he abandon me.

I wish I didn’t have to see the times he cried.

The times he was vulnerable.

The times he was scared.

The times he was human.

I wish I could only remember the monster.

I wouldn’t be left with the crippling doubt.

Was it the humanity protecting me in my weakest moments?

Or was it the predator, merely defending his prey?

I wish I didn’t see the difference between them.

Two souls, trapped in one body.

I wish I could hate him.

I wish I could blame him.

I wish… I wish… I wish.

-Survivor

Raw. Real.

Another song I stumbled upon while putting together the series which I thought would be worth a share. I think it beautifully illustrates the mental back and forth that often comes after surviving any trauma really, but especially a sexual assault. So often victims are blamed or silenced, and when they do finally work up the courage to share their stories they are immediately accused of attention seeking or making things up. People may not believe you, but that doesn’t take away the validity of your feelings or experience. The more people who speak up, the more apt society becomes to change.

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embed]https://youtu.be/4mplS8SiAK4[/embed]

SAAM Links and Resources Pt 2

What Is Rape Culture?

Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. A look at the cultural factors behind the statistic.

“Rape culture” is a culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm — in which people aren’t taught not to rape, but are taught not to be raped. The term was first used by feminists in the 1970s but has become popular in recent years as more survivors share their stories.

Here, a beginner’s guide to the major elements of rape culture.

Read More Here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/what-is-rape-culture

Survivor Stories Pt 2

I hate you in the city.  I feel nothing but the steel barriers that you’ve forced my heart to construct when I’m surrounded by concrete and car exhaust; the hardening of a million people in endless squareness.
I hate you in the bedroom too; in softness and ease I can think only of the push of your chest onto mine and the tips of your fingers on my chin.  Even when I am making love, you’re never far away, always ready to pounce on my heart and remind it how bitterly broken it is.
It is only in the white sands under the sun that I don’t hate you.  It is only in beauty that accepts all that I can remember you as human, that I can feel your own broken heart and forgive it for breaking mine.  I will still hate you when I go back to the city, and I will still fear you when I go back to the bedroom, but right now, in Gaia’s most beautiful Eden,
I can love you.
-Samantha Clarke
Samantha has a humorous feminist blog called Jill of all Trades, where she recently shared her sexual assault story if you’d like to read it.  She can also be found spending way too much time on Twitter.

The Great Debate

 Last week I came across an article written by a young man who decided to share his experience being on the other side of a rape accusation. He believed the woman’s claims were unfounded and went forward to express that. Obviously, heading up my series on SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) I felt compelled to comment. At the beginning I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, because while only less than 5% of sexual assault accusations prove to be false, there unfortunately ARE times when false accusations are made. The more I began to discuss things with him the more it became obvious that it was in fact the author himself making false accusations against his hapless victim. He knew the consent laws, and chose to ignore them based on circumstances. What made it even worse is that he attacked “feminism” for “empowering women to make false accusations”.

In short he was merely trying to justify his actions, and complain about consent laws. Consent laws that when followed protect not only women from being assaulted, but also men from being falsely accused. Or any combination of genders involved in any number of relationships. The laws, especially the laws in states that define consent as something one can NOT legally give under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances are designed to protect people on both sides of the equation, I fail to see the problem with them. Yet many people (not only men but men seem to be the most vocal about it) seem to think that by defining consent this way it is somehow unfair.

I look at it like this: much like the law defines how much alcohol you can consume to safely drive, the law must now define how much alcohol one can consume to safely consent to sexual activity. Sure, there are any number of people who can safely operate a vehicle at greater than the legal limit, but there are also many people who can not. The same is true when drinking before consenting to sexual activity. There are many people who can coherently consent after more than one or even a few drinks, but there are also many who can not. In order to protect the masses the laws must impose limits. It is fully within your rights to ignore such limits, but when you do you are making the choice to open yourself to numerous risks. Either of being assaulted, or being falsely accused.

It’s pretty easy to understand really. Now do the laws need more definition? ABSOLUTELY. Riding the wave of change, the challenge to what has unfortunately become a society and culture that not only glorifies, but normalizes sexual assault and abuse there will be backlash and fierce opposition. One step forward, and two steps back so to speak. It’s going to take time to find a middle ground giving the victims the necessary legal protection from further abuse, while also protecting those accused. There will be victims lost through the cracks on both ends, but does that mean we should stop the pursuit? No, most certainly not.

While I am not on board with a lot of feminist ideals, the movement is right on track as far as sexual assault awareness and advocacy. If feminism is what empowers victims to speak out and take a stand, I am all for that. Especially in the face of such vocal opposition from what seems to be a growing number of predatory individuals. As I stated above, it isn’t limited to a specific gender or sexual orientation. It’s not men vs women. It’s predator vs victim. PREDATOR vs VICTIM.

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