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Victim Blaming, one of the worst parts of violence against women

I have arrived in Albuquerque.  I am home safe with my mama.

The craziness of Mozambique continued as two men attempted to mug me and take my purse as I walked back to the hostel from eating my last meal in Mozambique.

I discovered something interesting about myself in that moment.  No matter what those two men said or did, I fought for my purse and my safety.  I kicked and yelled and flagged down a passing motorcycle.  I kept all but one shoe.

Why couldn’t I fight when my former friend assaulted me?  I’m still working on that.  Part of it was because I knew he would feel even more validated in hurting me if I had fought back.  And part of me just couldn’t.

That is the part of me I am really struggling with and need to work through before I head back out into the world.

Mom and I are going to be doing a lot of energy work in the future for this.

When I had arrived in the US and was able to get internet again, I found that I had been tagged in a harsh victim blaming post by the husband of the couple that I have previously been thanking for their help-

Though I understand their desire for things to be like they were before all this happened, for the bliss of ignorance, their post really hurt me.  All of the times I had asked them what I owed them had been met with “nothing, this is what friends do”.  Now it was all being reneged because they don’t feel I should continue to press charges.

None of us had done much sleeping.  All of us were trying to continue doing what we needed to because life goes on.  I was slowly being outcasted by them, all the ways they were “helping” me, they began to see in a negative way.  My belief is that it’s because I was the reminder that things weren’t normal any more.  I was the one living in their house, so I became the easy target for displacing all the frustrations of the situation.

The sad truth that seems to be missing in their argument, is that none of the need for their help would have been necessary had my housemate/ former friend not been aggressive, abusive, and finally assaulted me.

None of my living with them, or need translation help with the police, or any of the kindnesses they showed me would have been needed if it weren’t for his actions.

I didn’t do this.  I didn’t ask for any of this.  None of this is my fault.

I desperately tried to be as little a burden on them as possible and have still been met with this painful reminder that people will attack when your back is turned.

I can’t blame them.  It’s human nature to want things to be “normal”.  It’s normal for people to take the path of least resistance.  I left, I’m not volatile.  I’m the least resistant path to displace the frustration.

Victim blaming is just as much a part of the abuser cycle as the abuse is.

I just didn’t expect it from them, so it hurts more.

Please, all of you out there, don’t revictimize by displacing blame.  It makes it so much harder to follow through.  So much harder to fight the good fight when you feel isolated and alone.  So much easier for abusers to feel empowered.

I surely wish that this will never happen to them or their daughters. This is one of the worst parts of violence against women……

 
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Posted by on 21/04/2015 in Uncategorized

 

The heartbreaking realities

The first month of any class is the toughest.  Creating routines, getting basic English words for keeping the class moving along as they learn new material, and learning English phonics.
It’s right around week 5 when I get to start seeing the little lightbulb moments as they recognize they’ve learned and can understand.

We’re just getting there in all my classes. This week I saw three little lightbulb moments. And this afternoon, as I was walking around the island, two little girls were walking down one of the side streets.  They were quiet and walking hand in hand.   They happened to look up and the one little girl , who is my student in the preschool class, opened her arms wide and ran to me,  teacher Mari!!  Without any hesitation she jumped in my arms and let me pick her up.
She gave me a beautiful hug and as I put her down, in her best new English she tried to introduce me to her friend and coached her in how to say, my name is…
The two girls and I parted with them smiling and happily laughing.
As I kept walking down the coast, I started hearing, teacher Mari, teacher Mari!  I looked up further and a small group of my elementary age students were gathered and called me over. I was so happily surprised with how well they were using English to explain the game they were playing and show me off to their friends.
My evening adult class is a newer class, only two weeks, but they finally understood the pattern I’ve been teaching them this week and three of them right away started using other words they know in the same pattern!
It’s these moments that I teach for. These moments when they realize they know, they try to share, and they take it farther on their own.

I LOVE teaching. I LOVE it. 

And it breaks my heart, shatters it, to have to leave right now, just as it’s getting better for them.

Why does such terrible circumstances have to stop this progress?!  Who the fuck is this “nice guy” that everybody likes, that feels he has the right to keep me in a room against my will, and use ANY, let alone the amount of force, to make me listen to his drunken rants.  Who still maintains that if I had just sat and listened instead of trying to reach the door, he wouldn’t have hurt me so bad.

And as he’s all nice and calm again, admits he has a disease,
Well gosh! I should just let it all go, what’s the problem? , he’s going to get help.

Yeah. The fucking problem is that is a TRIED AND PROVEN PATTERN OF ABUSERS. 
Diagnosing a disease doesn’t change the fact that abusers pick and choose, are in full awareness, and know how to look remorseful, and put on enough charm to get away with it.  They use time to make it feel like it wasn’t that bad. And they use their friendships to make it look like the victim is making too big of a deal out of it.

Tried and true classic pattern.

And the heartbreaking reality is that it doesn’t just affect me. The bruises are gone, I can almost put my backpack on, get dressed, or scratch my own back again without my shoulders hurting.  My wrists still hurt but you can’t see anything wrong. People don’t look at me and flinch, or ask how I am.  Time is passing.  But it’s a time bomb, and I know that.
A time bomb that I can’t be here to see go off. 
The bomb may not go off here, if I leave. So in order to protect those that are helping me right now, I’m leaving here.
BUT THAT TIME BOMB WILL GO OFF SOMEWHERE IF LEFT UNCHECKED
I can’t leave that bomb unchecked. I will pursue the trial and whatever else is necessary to put checks and balances in place to ensure I’ve done my part.
Abusers don’t stop. They don’t get talked out of being abusers by the people around them.

The charming person isn’t who they are, it’s their cover up and protection against consequences. The charming side makes sure people, “can’t believe it” could be something the abuser would do.

This was a thought out act of violence. And because of it, my students will suffer.  My work here will be paused for who knows how long. These children don’t know what happened, all THEY will know is that I left. The adults have just another person who comes to help and leaves.

The heartbreaking reality is that it’s not just me that got hurt. But it’s me that will be doing the hurting of leaving.
And that sucks so much.

These tears fall with conviction. If education is my target, let violence be my arrow, and awareness be my breath.

 
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Posted by on 17/04/2015 in Uncategorized

 

Success!!!!

I’m the happiest teacher right now! 
My elementary school class (1st day in week 4 of classes) greeted me with, good afternoon teacher, as I walked in the door.
They said the whole  ‘today is Tuesday’, sentence the first time I asked what day it is. They all answered, ‘how are you’ with a variety of replies in full sentences.

Then we went over who, where, and what. I read them the wonderful book my beautiful daughter gave me for mothers day, and asked them those questions.  After only,5-6 tries they were answering correctly!
I’m in teacher bliss right now….. Aaaaaaah

 
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Posted by on 14/04/2015 in Uncategorized

 

Domestic Violence & The NFL: Five Things Roger Goodell Needs to Know

Domestic Violence & The NFL: Five Things Roger Goodell Needs to Know

Originally posted on The Game - 87.7 FM:

I don’t blame people who don’t get it. I didn’t get it for a long time. In fact, it wasn’t until I was sitting in domestic violence court with a client, holding her jaw (which was clearly broken) closed as she sought a civil Order of Protection, that I got it. I was the only person there on her side. Her ex-husband, who had put her in the hospital more than once, showed up to court with a Bible, his pastor, and a host of church members ready to attest to his excellent character. He was a “great guy.”

RayRiceElevatorVideoDomestic violence is an ugly, dirty, soul-sucking corner of American life. Before I was lucky enough to get to talk about sports on the radio, I spent years in domestic violence and family court, both as as a defender of abusers and as an advocate for victims. I’m ashamed to say…

View original 868 more words

 
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Posted by on 10/04/2015 in Uncategorized

 

Each time I rise

The last 12 months of my life have been a true example of how the yin and yang of life works.

Once upon a time, the rotations of this wheel took a long time. Now as I continue to grow, it turns more quickly.  The changes are more immediate.  The ability to see paths of growth more illuminated.

From getting a good job in Turkey, a country I had longed to see for years, and discovering the beauty of the land and people – to the overwhelming need to remove myself.

From being happy on my own- to a dream like relationship – to the nightmare of its sudden end.

From the relocation to this beautiful country and island on the promise of a job – to the realization that the job didn’t exist, the money didn’t exist, getting typhoid, visa issues, – to building a rapport with the people, starting to teach again, loving my students, having people smile and try to talk to me everywhere I go – to the nightmare of this week.

This last 12 months has given me highs and lows. 
I have seen beauty and ugliness in all the places and people.  I am surrounded, everywhere, by amazing people I am grateful to call friends. 
We are all here to help each other.

I believe when I go home, I will be able to curl up for a little while; enter the ash stage, I am burning now.

But I will be reborn again. Each time I rise, I am stronger, brighter, and more complete within myself.
I don’t know the next step yet for sure, but I will be a force, a powerful force for change. 

 
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Posted by on 10/04/2015 in Uncategorized

 

As my bruises heal

On Sunday night I left the pier where I’d been sharing some fun photo ops with my friends.  Using light to create hearts around my newly married friends. Laughing, dancing, having a good time.

One of my friends, a man I was sharing a house with, had been drinking all day.  He had been being rude and belligerent all day.  He was still.

I decided to leave. I made my apologies to the rest of my friends and headed back to the house.

I was working on school work when he knocked on the door. I let him in, he lived there after all.
I quietly went back to my work when he started verbally assaulting me.

Without saying a word, I quietly got my purse and shoes. As I headed for the door he asked where I was going.  I calmly replied I was leaving, we could talk tomorrow.

The next half an hour consisted of his blocking the only door out, being slammed up against walls, having my arms repeatedly wrenched back and up towards my ears, being picked up and thrown on the floor over 20 times, being choked and having my head slammed against the concrete walls.

Miraculously I was, “allowed” to make a phone call while in the bathroom, where he stood watch as I changed the pants I had peed in and finished emptying my bladder that had had his knee firmly pressed into it moments earlier.

My friend came just in time.  As she knocked on the door, he had his hands around my throat and I was unable to breathe.
I remember thinking if he hits my head one more time against the wall I wasn’t sure if I’d make it.

As he shoved me out of the house, still screaming at me, my friend was amazed at the state I was in and the amount of sweat he showed.

I did nothing, NOTHING to provoke this attack. I did nothing to prolong it. The only words I spoke were “Please let me go”, “we’ll talk tomorrow”, “you’re hurting me”.

Nothing short of someone else’s arrival was going to stop him. 

I tell you this because I need to get it out of me. I need to realize I didn’t cause this, I didn’t deserve it, and he had no right to do it.

And also because I want all of you to be aware.  If you hear anything like this, like my neighbors staring out their windows as my friend came to get  me, DO SOMETHING, don’t just listen.
If you’re in the position like I was, it’s not your fault, press charges, IT’S ASSAULT!

When I was married these things happened because he felt he had the right as my “partner”.  This time it happened, though I refused to be/ wasn’t his partner.

It doesn’t matter the relationship!!! Assault is assault. Period. No-one has the right to hurt you. No-one has the right to keep you locked in a room against your will. (except police) No-one and nothing justifies these actions, ever.

And I write because I REFUSE to be a victim. I will not step back from reclaiming my rights as a human, to not be afraid.

Though the humanitarian in me believes that he also needs help, and for my own well being I need to forgive, I also recognize that forgiveness does not mean tolerance. Forgiveness does not mean allowance, or justification.

And though I know I will be back here, I strongly feel for the people of this island and their education,  for the time being I need to leave. It will take a while. I need to finish classes so that I can raise money for the trial,  flights, etc.

Who knows where to next, but wherever I go, I will be stronger yet. I continue my journey and get stronger and stronger.

I am a Phoenix, rising brilliantly from the ashes, my tears will heal others, my song will lead heroes.

 
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Posted by on 09/04/2015 in Uncategorized

 

It’s all in how you look at it

I asked my friend for a quick break from all my teachery stuff. We headed off the island for a quick trip to a beach on the continent. Got there. Found some cool coral pieces and shells on the beach. Took some pretty sunset pictures, and headed back.

Can’t post pictures till I can use a computer, but check back later for them.

So, then, you could say that we got to meet some local families, talk a while, do some work together, take a moonlit walk through African bush, see fireflies, listen to swamp frogs play, and have an evening out.
Or.
You could say, we got the truck stuck in the swamp and couldn’t get it out.

I choose the first one, but. The second happened too.

Go big or go home.  Or. Try and go home anyway?

Livin’ large folks. Livin large.

 
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Posted by on 30/03/2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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