Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is an umbrella term describing any form of unwanted physical sexual contact in which consent is not given.

Triggers #donaldtrump #nevertrump 

So, all this talk about grabbing private parts in the media has me more than a little unsettled. It has reminded me of the years of sexual assault I endured in my marriage and it makes me physically ill.

A little background:

In my marriage, it was expected that the daily butt and breast grabbing was part of my (then) husband’s right to my body; “That ass is mine, don’t forget that.”

Translate that to I was nothing more than an object to be utilized in any way to please my man.

“You should be thankful that I still want to grab your ass” and “plenty of women would love to have this attention” was a recurrent theme when I asked him over and over and over again to STOP.

I would plead to him that his behavior and unwanted grabbing made me uncomfortable.

He wouldn’t stop.

At the time, I honestly felt he was right, that I should be thankful. My lack of self-worth left me vulnerable to being a victim. Unwanted touching was something I had to survive every.single.day. I was brainwashed by a man and a society that objectify women. I learned to push aside my instincts, and my need to be heard and respected.

I should be thankful. I should be thankful.

Suffice to say, there is more to my story, but what I aim to make clear by this disclosure is that any unwanted sexual contact is a sexual assault. Even within the confines of a marriage. You have the right to say no, and be to be heard. Your body is your own. You are not an object. You have a fundamental right to demand respect.

Today I AM thankful. I am thankful for my strength and tenacity on escaping my marriage. I am thankful for what walking away has taught me about myself. I am thankful for healing and finding my voice. I am thankful.

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Sometimes you have to look back, just to see how far you have come.

New Birth; I have come a long way   .00000

A Slow Death; 2009

            I don’t want to fight. I reign in my thoughts, like a turtle withdraws his head to fend off attack, carefully tucking in my pride. My words will not be right anyhow, I just want to crawl into bed and sleep so I can forget.

But he persists relentlessly and my silence infuriates him more than my words. I have played this game for years and never won. But here I am again. Stomach clenching, mind frantic, I am rendered helpless as he blocks my attempt to escape and locks the door.

Cornered, I scream vile obscenities, spewing anger. “Hit me, hit me, you crazy fucking bitch” his furious, baiting words come at me. Clenching my fists, I start a tug of war in my mind. If I hit him, he will kill me; if I do not, I die a slower death of submission.

Quickly, I escalate into a caged, wild animal desperate for escape; my bedroom serves as my cage, my husband, the captor.

I tightly squeeze my eyes shut and try to will it away. I open them and charge to the door but he follows my every move and I feel his hot breath on my face.

I am powerless.

My heart pounding, fear crawls up my spine. Hate fills every pore of my body.

I hate myself, maybe more than I hate him.

I am worthless.

Sobbing and pleading for mercy, I receive none. “I told you that you are crazy!” he screams at me. Defeated by these words, I think he is right, again.

Too Sensitive? Too_______? Fill in the blank.

I was accused of being “too chipper” when asked how my day was yesterday, which made me laugh at first, but then I paused and considered why someone would take issue with me being joyful? I reflected on the first half of my life; my dysfunctional childhood and marriage where criticism ran rampant and I was always “too sensitive,” “too loud,” “too this,” or “too that.” For too long, I internalized other peoples’ condemnations which had me convinced I was inadequate and somehow flawed. The point of this disclosure is to share what I know to be true; feelings and reactions are genuine, learned through exposure to a highly critical environment, and we should not allow others to discount them. Even the good ones. I am chipper, most of the time. And I claim it.

With that said, we should also consider the person who is being critical. Often, critical individuals struggle with their own inadequacies and choose to try and make themselves feel better by criticizing others. In other words, outwardly manifesting their own feelings of unworthiness.

Who in your life lifts you up? Who is often critical? There are so many loving and supportive people in the world, surround yourself with them.

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A Slice of Peace

This morning I have been contemplating my path of evolving feelings toward my Mom and Dad who are no longer here on earth.  As and older, more self-aware individual I can recognize the pain and longing I felt for what it was; my wish to have a perfect relationship with humanly imperfect beings. It took some major soul searching to understand that I have to accept people as they are, or if unable, quietly walk away. For me, walking away is brave and more loving as it gives space to myself and others to be at peace without constant pressure to conform to others’ standards that may not be acceptable. I think of the years I spent trying to make my parents (and others in my life) into what I thought they should be instead of appreciating what they had to offer and… I mourn the time lost. I was constantly looking externally, expecting pieces to fit where I wanted them to instead of looking internally. This external thinking was a great way to distract me from my own wounds, my own faults, and my own part in the equation of a relationship. Yet, I have found that blaming and expecting others to fix your own “stuff” is much, much more painful in the long run (as there is no end) than the initial (and profoundly) painful realization that I am just as imperfect as everyone else. Thus, forgiving myself has opened my heart and mind to forgiving my Mom and Dad and has allowed me to see the many gifts they did give me, such as their own version of love and support. Oh, there are moments where I selfishly still long for what my parent’s couldn’t give me or be the answer to a problem I am facing; however, I remember them both as who they were – imperfectly loving human beings who where just trying to find a slice of peace, love, and happiness in the only way they knew how. Just like me.

Raw Vulnerability and Connection

“And I feel like I am naked in front of the crowd ‘cause these words are my diary screaming out loud and I know you’ll use them however you want to” Anna Nalik ~ Breathe

As this New Year begins I am thinking about how we often impose our perceptions on other people’s words and conceptualize those words into making sense in our world, rather than asking questions and really, deeply listening to one another. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is difficult enough, but feeling a need to meet others expectations really creates a wedge between true vulnerability and self-acceptance. To live abundantly and joyfully we need deep human connections, and truly connecting with one another requires raw vulnerability. How often do we miss the opportunity for human connection because we are afraid of “being naked in front of the crowd?” I have found my “naked” moments have revealed to me the ability of some open and self-accepting people to not only allow, but also sit comfortably with my vulnerability. On the flip side, some people’s inability to accept vulnerability comes from their own perceptions getting in the way of acknowledging that it is not about them and thus, insecurity ensues.

The desire for meaningful connection can lead us astray if we are trying to fit in and be accepted rather than being open, raw, and understanding. Trying to meet other’s expectations only creates a perpetual cycle of failure and missed opportunities for true human connection. It has been my experience that more often than not, people struggle with accepting raw vulnerability because they are equating it to their own self-worth instead of realizing it is not about them. With that said, it has been moments of raw vulnerability that has led me to the most meaningful relationships in my life. How very difficult that we have an innate need for self-protection of our ego and an innate need for connection, yet the two work like oil and water; they don’t mix. Which leads me to another quote that begs consideration:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson