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Category Archives: consequences

Don’t disrespect me.

When I’m teaching beginning English learners about verbs, I categorize them into 4 basic types; state, do, feel, and think.

A state verb is basic ‘to be’; I am (a woman, a mother, a daughter, a teacher, alive), I am — years old, I live in –. Your basic states of being…

A do verb is whatever you do….   Run, eat, play, sleep, etc.  Feel verbs are happy, like, love, angry, wishful, etc.  And a think verb is along the lines of want, plan, consider, believe.

So, what is respect?  For me, respect is a think.  Respectful can be a feel or a do, or even a state, but actual respect is a think.

And along the lines of you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself first, I believe that you can’t respect someone else until you respect yourself.

So how would I define respect?  I find it difficult to define think verbs without using variations of the word, but if I had to choose one synonym it would be equality.

When I believe that the life of another is equal to mine, I respect that life.  Which, when turned around, if I believe that someone else’s life has more worth than mine, I cannot fully respect myself.  If I believe that my life has more value than someone else’s, I can also not fully respect myself, because then I have subscribed to a value system that ranks life value, which automatically places me on a spectrum, in which I can be less than, putting me right back at unable to fully respect myself.

So, in my definition,

Respect is the belief of equal value of life, its states, thoughts, feelings, and actions.

When I feel respected I feel as if I am seen with equal value.  When I feel disrespected, I feel that I am seen as having less value, by the other person.

This concept of respect, it is something I think about a lot.  I’ve been through enough situations, seen enough abuse in my life, that I’m constantly trying to figure out how to respect myself and others, without being victimized.

Can someone be respectful without having respect?  Yes.  Doing a respectful action is part of social manners.  Someone can know and perform all the social manners without having ‘the think’ of respect for the other people they are performing those manners around.  Abusers use that skill very, very well.

Abusers are sure to point out all the “nice” or “good” things they do, trying to prove they’re a good person.  Look at this thing I did.  I do everything for you.  Watch me do this good thing, see I’m good.  I got this for you.  I did that for you.   I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I would never hurt you, remember all those good things I do?  Those prove what a good person I am.

But see, abusers don’t respect themselves or the people they abuse.  They’re trying to stay on top to prove they’re not less than anyone else.  There’s a deep need to be seen as being good, that people who respect themselves and others don’t have.  In my experience, people with high levels of respect don’t have to point out the good they do.  They hardly even recognize their respectful behavior as anything but just what should be done.  There’s no need within themselves to prove they are good, they just are good.  It becomes a state verb, not just a think verb.

Abusers, in my opinion, have subscribed to a rather stark value system; one with very few steps between, a rather black and white system.  They need to feel as if they are seen at the top of that system, because they feel that they’re not.  They make sure to use more, have more, be more so they aren’t seen as less.

And they see their victims as lower.  They test, and then pick people that have more respect, who subscribe to a much different view of the value system.  Isn’t that the crazy thing, I think to myself all the time; the people who respect others, who value the people around them, treat people well, fairly, respectfully, those are the people preyed on by abusers.

Truly, I think that if we subscribe to a value system on life at all, we are all, at some point or another, within a wide range of abuser and victim.  But, it has really struck me that the people who respect the lives of others, treat others the way they want to be treated, are caring, empathetic, giving, those are the people most often targeted by abusers for relationships.

It’s a weird kind of circle, abusers feel afraid of being less, so they make others feel less, to feel like they are more.  If you stay, you are clearly less because the abusiveness is tolerated.  But….. at the beginning, it’s tolerated because of the very respect for others that makes them a target.

And if you show any kind of equality, then they must knock you down to make sure you are less.  Insults become more personal, more derogatory.  Threats become more realistic.  And, I’m sorry’s become more frequent.

Sociopaths and narcissists aside, the abuser feels bad for being abusive, making them feel bad about themselves, perpetuating the need to make you feel bad, so they can feel good, which cycles around and around and around.

The nice side of an abuser can only be seen for a limited time though.  An abuser can only allow themselves to be seen as not having the power for short amounts of time.  Those short amounts of time are a manipulation, a way to stop the consequence of losing their victim; win them over again, prove how good they are again, be equal again.; because they want the respect, from their victim, that they can’t give themselves.

That respect then becomes demanded for.  Respect me.  Look at everything I do.  I’ve been good, now respect me.  I’ve been respectful, respect me.  Respect me -or I won’t do these things -or I’ll take these things away -or I’ll make you fear me.  Fear=respect right?

Once those cycles have repeated enough….. it can, and often does become more than threats, more than derogatory slights.

People who haven’t seen these cycles, in all their stages and multiple wraps around a relationship, struggle to understand.  But it really comes down to value, equality, and respect.

 

I continue to stretch out and increase the many increments of the value system, trying to get as close to the zero point on this half-life depreciation.  I meditate and pray for help to respect myself, by seeing the intrinsic value of all life around me, as well as preserving my self-respect by not allowing others to treat me as less than.

I’m not finding it very easy.  Power is a corrupter for those who don’t respect themselves or others.  I do not seek out power.  Others see that as weakness.  I am open about my short-comings, because I want to learn, not because I think I am less than, but others see that as a weakness.  They cannot see their own faults, and so shift the repercussions of their faults to me, blaming me, saying she even says she has faults, this is her fault.

Because I do not seek out power, does not mean I don’t have power.

I have my power, my control of self.  I do not need to control others, because I understand that any form of trying to control someone else, is abuse.  But others see that as weakness.

 

I am not weak.

 

I keep getting up, and I learn.  I learn and I grow.  I have been getting stronger and stronger.

 

Just like learning a language requires repetition, practical experience, and meaningful use, so does truly learning respect.

I’m confident I can say, I respect me.

I respect you too, so understand that means that I won’t accept your disrespect of me or others.

I’ve spent a life time earning my own respect through giving, forgiveness, educating myself, kindness, tolerance, and doing my best to understand even those people who have hurt me terribly.  I’m not perfect.  I still have trouble fully shaking the value system.  I have spent a lot of time working through that system to get where I am now.  I still have much to learn; but I respect myself enough to understand I don’t know it all.  I respect others enough to know that I can learn from them, I can talk with them, I can share with them, without ever needing to hurt them, belittle them, or make them feel less than.

This is my life in words.  I keep writing about abuse, learning, traveling, and being me.  Glimpses into my head means glimpses into my progressions through healing.  It’s a freaking process man.

Maybe someone out there today needs to read that they’re not alone in trying to understand respect.

Maybe it was watching the special on the Dalai Lama…..  maybe it’s just my life right now……

Whatever it is,

Light and love to you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes, it’s the little things

Sitting at a cafe, trying to stay warm, I think about all kinds of stuff.
One thing I’m thinking of today… Before I left the States, someone said, “I hope you find what you’re looking for out there.”

It’s weird.  Maybe, I’m weird.  But, I’m not looking for anything out here, except what is out here.  I just want to be part of the world.

It’s weird, I suppose, because I have met quite a few expats running from things, running to things, looking for something or someone, trying to forget someone or something.  But, I’m not.  I didn’t set out here to find anything, not even myself.  I had already found myself before leaving the States the very first time.

I just want to see the world.  Plain and simple.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it, for a long time.  But, I’ve wanted to see the world since I was a little girl.  I dreamed of visiting sites I learned about in History classes or read about in magazines.  Traveling has been a dream for as long as I can remember.

And I finally found a viable way to do it.  A way that makes me happy.  A way that helps me feel like I’m contributing to the world I want to see and be part of.  Teaching.  I love teaching.  I love traveling.  Therefore, I completely love my life.

Are there people that don’t get it?  Sure.  Of course.  That’s ok.  They don’t have to get it.  It’s my life, and I completely get it, so they don’t need to.

There are a few who are worried for me.  Some that think I’m crazy.  There are even a few that are mad at me because I have chosen to live the way I’ve always wanted to.  Frankly, I say, that’s on them.

It’s the little, every day moments that I love out here.  It’s the smile on the barista’s face when she sees me because she gets to practice her English when I order.  It’s the drive through a little village and seeing the people driving a few head of cattle across the street with motorcycles and cars trying to go around.  It’s looking up at beautiful mountains dusted in snow.  It’s seeing a Chinese man walk across the street and feel pangs of missing a place I called home for a while.  It’s the little things that make me feel part of the Global community that keep me loving it so much.

I know a few people who have goals to see x amount of places before such and such a time, or step foot on every continent, or other really awesome goals.  My goal from day one, has been to teach around the world, so that I can be part of it.  I want to learn from it.

I am learning from the world.  I am teaching in the world.  I am being in the world.  I am happy.

Recently I’ve told a couple people a bit of my life stories.  It used to make me sad afterwards.  But one incredibly great thing that came from the ugliness of my time on Ilha, is that I can truly feel my own strength.  I have been through the baseness that mankind has to offer and not let it harden me.  I have learned how to be a better, stronger, kinder, more understanding and compassionate person because of what I’ve been through.  That’s apparently a lot more rare than I understood before.

I’m freaking proud of me.

One of my students asked me yesterday if there was anything I would change if I could go back in time.  I didn’t even hesitate to say no.  I like who I am and I wouldn’t be the me I am, if it weren’t for the things that shaped me into me.  So, no, I wouldn’t change anything.

Do I wish that I could have learned a few life lessons without the pain? Sure, but both are necessary to recognize either, so……  I’ll be happy just being the me I am, with the stories I have.

Mostly, I tell my stories in order to let it not hurt me any more.  But I also tell them because I hope other people can learn from them without having to actually experience them.  I started traveling again so soon because I didn’t want to let fear get the upper hand.  The longer I held off, the harder it was becoming to believe I could again.  SO, I told fear to fuck off.

And here I am.

Walking around a beautiful city every day.  Teaching amazing students from all over the world.  Working with supportive, caring people.  Making friends with other amazing teachers.  Sitting at cafe’s and pondering the little things that make my life happy.

My peace is tangible.  My joy surrounds me like a beautiful sparkly cloud of awesome.  I am happy just being out here in the world.  I’m not looking for anything; every day brings me something new to wonder at.

#Lovelife.  #Noregrets.  #TeachPeace.  #Notallwhowanderarelost

 

 

 

John Goosen knew exactly what he was doing.

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During the time that John Goosen was assaulting me, I found one thing very strange.  He would hiss insults at me as he twisted my wrists and shoulders, wrench me into wrestling submission moves.  Growl threats while throwing me around.  Spit in my face with his quiet words meant to tell me how much pain he was going to inflict on me, as he kneed me and held me down.  And then, after I would cry out for him to let me go; he would shout, “I’ll let you go as soon as you calm down!”.  That happened 5 or 6 times.  I would reply that I was calm.  “I am calm.  I’m completely calm.  Just let me go and we’ll talk about it in the morning.”

It didn’t make any sense to me at the time.  Even in the state of things, I was at odds with myself at how calm I was.  Part of my mind kept insisting that I needed to fight back, to get out, to shout for help.  But something kept me from doing any of that.  There was a calmness that I could not comprehend, but that kept telling me I couldn’t give him any reason to feel justified with what he was doing.  So why did he keep shouting for me to calm down?

It wasn’t until the last minutes, where he was choking me and banging my head against the walls, that I couldn’t stay calm.  The survival instinct was louder than the calm voice for just those last few minutes.  And even then, once I decided to stop fighting and let him kill me, I was crying for my children, for their loss.  I was crying, but I was not hysterical until I heard the knock on the door.

I remember thinking that the only thing he was truly shouting was for me to calm down.  It didn’t make any sense.

Immediately after I was assaulted, I went to the local police station.  They told me to go to the hospital and get checked out.

So I did.

As I left the hospital, with Caroline, John Goosen drove up.  He started shouting at me from the vehicle that I had to listen to him.  He had more to say to me.  He got out of the vehicle and took a few steps towards us, still shouting profanities, insults, and demanding that I listen to him.

I ignored him.  We kept walking back to the Police Station.

He got back in his vehicle and drove off.  He had parked at Louis and Caroline’s house, halfway between the hospital and the police station.  He was standing on the side walk, in the shadows of an already dark street.  Then as we got closer he started in again.

I kept walking.  Kept on ignoring.  Gave my report.

The next morning, I found out that during the time I had gone to the police station and then to the hospital, John Goosen had called my mama.

In that call he told her, in his best concerned voice, that he was so worried about me because I had been acting like I was possessed and that he’d had to restrain me to keep me from hurting myself or him.  What could she do to help him help me?

He spread rumors that I had been drunk and he had needed to calm me down.  Police went to ask others who had been with us that night, how I’d been behaving, what they thought had happened.

He knew before he even locked me in the room, how to play the crowd, so that he could avoid any consequences for what he planned to do.  He flipped his whole persona, put it all into place, acting the concerned citizen, immediately after he attacked me.

And then flipped back and continued to harass me afterward.  He tried to get me to react. Tried to find a way to make me do something to look the way he was trying to paint me.

He knew exactly what he was doing.  He wasn’t acting crazy.  He didn’t “have a moment”.  He didn’t just snap.  He planned it out.

His “calm down” shouts, were his alibi.  His call to Jean was an attempt to  deflect anything I said to her afterwards.

John Goosen knew exactly what he was doing the whole time.  It was a premeditated act of violence by someone who had done this enough times to know how to premeditate it.  He knew where to hit to not leave visible bruises.  He knew the twists and holds that inflict pain and injury without leaving marks.  He knew to say some things loud and everything else soft.  He knew exactly what he was doing.

I keep writing because I want his name to come up on Google.  I want someone else trying to find out if he’s OK to visit, to know that he’s not.  I couldn’t put him in jail where he belongs.  But I have to do something, to do my part in protecting his next potential victim.  How I wish that whoever else he has assaulted had written something I could find.  He had no concerns at all in telling me to look him up.  He knew nothing was out there.  He doesn’t now.

I know he reads this blog.  Now he knows his name and what he’s done is out there.  I will continue to put his name out there for the world to see.  This is the only way I have to try and inform, to protect.

#noonedeservesviolence

 

 

 

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An open letter to my children: Life is a learning process, so learn the good and let go of the rest.

To my beautiful adult babies,

Once upon a time I held you deep inside me.  I cradled you and kept you safe.  I loved you from the second I knew you were.  That hasn’t changed one bit.  I still hold you deep inside my heart, cradled and safe in my love.

I didn’t always do everything right as you grew up, but I tried, and I’m glad.  I always did the best I knew how to at the time.  I wanted to do my best for you.  You brought out the best in me.

I gave you everything, all of me, especially when you were little.  I was always there.  I rarely let you cry because I was right there for you.  Every moment that you looked for me, I was there.  I wasn’t anything for myself, I was only your mother.  I spent every moment doing all I could to help you see how loved, wanted, cared for, and cherished you were.

But because there wasn’t any part of me that was just for me, I allowed abuse to grow.  I turned a blind eye, justified, and felt I had to lie in the bed I’d made.  Because I didn’t nourish me, I didn’t know who I was or how to be, or how to stand up for myself or you.  Because I had become so dependent, because I didn’t believe in myself, I stayed longer than I should have.  Once I saw how far it had gone, how much it was becoming part of how you saw the world, I knew I had to stop it.  For your sake, I found a way to stand up.  Because I love you, I looked for a way to discover me.

I ended a heartless place so that you could have two places that could love you, instead of one that sent the message that abuse was ok.  I love you, so I fought for you.  I can only account for my place, and for my place, I gave you all I had to give; discovering and maintaining only the smallest part of me, for me.  Thankfully, you have also received love from your fathers home.

I gave you everything I could.  I fought for what I feel were injustices toward you.  I fought for continuity, for safety, for fairness.  I held you when you felt the pains that came from the unfairness and purposeful deprivation meant to punish me through you.  I tried to support you and let you feel the freedom to be yourself that I had never felt.  I cried for and with you as the abuses changed but continued.  And I started to search for myself.

I should never have given up all of me.  It made me blind to the beginnings, the place where I could have stopped the abuses before they affected you all so much.  I should have finished school no matter what I was told back then.  I should have gone to College even when you were all little.  I should have not made you so dependent on my being there for everything, instead of helping you know you can stand on your own feet, feeling that you could trust yourself.  I should have maintained enough self that I could have stood up for you when you were little, and stood up for myself from the beginning.

Not everything was bad.  I am grateful for all the love and good that has happened in both homes.  I am grateful that much of the abuse has abated and that you feel loved by both your parents.  I am grateful that you have multiple places you can feel cared for, wanted, and safe.  I am grateful for the many examples you’ve been given over your lives of the good in people.  You have strong characters in your life to draw example from.  It is ok to see the bad, walk away from the bad, and still love the person.  Often the reason I hurt so much is because the pain was being sent from someone I cared about, someone you cared about.  But that doesn’t take away from the good.  You have been given much good along with the abuse.  One does not negate the other.  Appreciate the good, always.

Learn from my mistakes.  When you go into your future, your relationships, maintain YOU.  Remember who you are without anyone else, who you are all by yourself.  Be ok by yourself.  Determine the things that are important to you, and don’t compromise them for your partner.  Get your education, get experience that will help you maintain you.  Those two things, education and experience, are the only things no one can ever take from you, without killing you.  Don’t make anyone dependent on you and don’t be dependent on anyone else.  Make sure that you can survive without anyone’s help.

Build yourself up so that you can be a good person, friend, partner, and parent.  Don’t give up who you are to be in a relationship, add to who you are, and be the kind of partner that adds to who they are.  Don’t accept manipulation, coercion, degradation, belittling, threats, or any form of abuse from anyone, but especially not from the people you love.  Know who you are-so you are not easily swayed by others. Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.  Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with others.

And also learn from the things I did right.  Let everyone be who they are.  Support those you love.  Fight for those you love.  Maintain boundaries for yourself and for others.  Set yourself routines and goals. Get your education and go see the world.  Learn from your mistakes instead of lashing yourself over them.  Recognize your strengths AND your weaknesses.  Listen to people, watch people, and learn from everyone around you.  Try your very best to put aside your ego and think what it must be like in their shoes, think from their perspective.  Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.  Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with others.  (yes, these two are both things I did wrong and things I did right)

Recognize and stay away from abuse and abusive people.  Don’t be an abusive person.  Reflect on yourself and see where you can change things.  It’s not only ok, it’s really important to reinvent yourself as you mature.  Look for the good in people, it’s usually there.  Give a few chances, but not so many that it becomes acceptable.  Know how to walk away with dignity.  Stand up for what you believe in.  Know how to step in with full intention and love.

And, learn from others.  Learn from those you love, those you like, and those you don’t like.  Sometimes we don’t like something in someone else because we’re hiding that same thing from ourselves.  Take a look; see if that’s the case before making a rash decision.  Understand that people will hardly ever see the real you because they are living their own lives, and that’s ok.  First impressions are rarely real and other people’s opinions are only their own.  Get to know someone before making any decisions about them.  Become friends with everyone.  Sit down and have real discussions with people.  Watch others for the sake of learning, not comparing and judging.

You are all adults now and the transition is complete.  Who you continue to become, how you choose to treat yourself and others is on you.  You have good and bad influences from everyone in your life so far.   You get to choose what influences to keep or to let go.  Letting go of a certain trait or way of doing things is not letting go of the person that demonstrated it.  I hope there are things that you choose not to follow my steps in, because I know there are better ways now too.  I hope you see things that you do choose to follow my lead in.

Life as an adult isn’t always easy, in fact, quite possibly, it is rarely easy.  We’re here to learn, we’re here to become the best we can be.  So don’t give up.  You’re better than that; you’re worth more than that.

Being a mom isn’t easy.  I’ve cried and felt like I was ripping apart over your lives at times.  I don’t see that changing, I care as deeply as any mother can.  I’m not the mother of children anymore, I’m the mother of adults.  It’s a weird new universe we exist in now, and I’m excited for what it can bring.  As we all go about living our adult lives, creating our own spaces and ways of being, the most important part of our relationship will be communication.

I’m grateful for the wonderful communication we’ve had most of your lives.  I think we’ve been luckier than most in that department.  It will be even more important now, so make sure you do your part.  We are all each other’s support system, don’t be the weak link in the system.  Let’s stay lucky.

Every day I am grateful that I am your mom.  I was blessed with three wonderful souls to care for.   My love for you is how I have finally come to find and love me.  I am who I am because of each of you.  And I maintain who I am so that you can have a better example than I gave before

Go be the best you can be.  Draw the best from all your resources, let go of the things that harm you and others.  I am proud of the people you are and excited to see who you continue to become.

 

I love you,

Mom

 

 

A lesson in parallels, holding my head up high: Stop victim blaming.

I cannot help but notice the undeniable parallels of my time in Mozambique and my time in Montana, besides the fact that they both start with M and have 3 syllables.  This month, and this weekend especially has been enlightening.

Let me elucidate a little.

I went to both places on a hunch, a spiritually guided hunch, knowing one person.

I went to Mozambique on the promise of a job as an Admin Asst for a construction company,  I am currently an Admin Asst for a construction company.

Both John Goosen and my dad are emotionally abusive.

I was invited last minute to a friend of John Goosen’s wedding, I was invited last minute to a friend of my employer’s wedding.

I went out dancing with the group of people I barely knew for both weddings.

And here is what made this weekend, these particular moments stand out to me.

A couple weeks ago, someone I know posted his outrage at a man who had choked a girl and thrown her across a room.  At first, I thought he was standing up for me, shedding light on what had happened.  But, it was about someone else he knew.

That being the case is fine.  Be outraged. We all should be. And he was properly outraged at the abuser and stood up for the victim.  But it was in the comments where ‘situation’ came up that began to bug me.

The idea remains that there are situations that violence can be tolerated, understood, or at least not in need of outrage.

This woman’s situation and mine were parallel.  We were both violently attacked, choked, and thrown across a room.  I was continuously assaulted for half an hour.  I don’t know what else happened with this other woman, but it doesn’t matter, two men decided that was the way to behave.  She and I were both violently attacked. Neither of us deserved it.

This weekend’s wedding and ensuing revelry gave me tangible evidence, something so very in my face real, that the last shreds of doubt are gone that even one tiny bit of my assault was my fault.

I am, quite literally, in the same setting I was expecting in Mozambique, same job, same social circle.

And, the first time I’ve really gone out while here in Montana was practically the same situation as the night before I was assaulted.  Wedding of people I’ve only just met, out on the town, dancing, drinking, etc.

Here in Montana, I’m having to be the same kind of trusting, the same kind of maneuvering through the living situation, the same kind of putting myself out there socially.  It’s too similar to be mere coincidence.  I believe that the Spirit has given me this glimpse, this reminder, this moment to be able to compare and to see truth.

Every step of the process that wasn’t safe for me, was John Goosen’s purposeful, deliberate fault.

I put as many precautions into going as I knew how to, but he was intentionally creating an unsafe environment and circumstances, while also creating the illusion of the opposite.

Everything that made Mozambique unsafe for me was his orchestration.

It was not my choice to go to Mozambique that made me unsafe.  It was not my choice to “make the best of the situation” that made me unsafe.  It was not my choice of living situation, my choice to leave Turkey, or Taiwan, or Czech, or America that made me unsafe.  Nothing I did made me unsafe.

It was solely John Goosen’s deliberate intentions to manipulate me, lie to me, isolate me, threaten me, make me feel unsafe, and ultimately assault me that made me unsafe.  His choices made me unsafe.  He made me unsafe.  He assaulted me.  He is at fault.

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John Goosen. Willem Johannes Goosen of South Africa.

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JohnGoosenFB; living in Mozambique

There is no situation created where the victim of violence is at fault.  No domestic situation, no relationship status, no style of clothing, no sexual orientation, no amount of alcohol, no color of skin, no language, no religion, NO anything, EVER that is deserving of ANY kind of violence.

I don’t know if it just makes people feel unsafe themselves to think that this type of violence could happen to them, no matter what, without provocation, without reason, so they have to make the victim have some fault in order to absolve themselves from the possibility that it could happen to them, and therefore feel safer.  I don’t know.  I don’t understand it.

But I put myself in exceptionally similar situations in both places, and here, in Montana, with the same type job, having to work through things with my dad/ live with an abuser, going out with new people, mostly men, wedding of new people, drinking, dancing, general debauchery, etc.  I was completely safe.  People I had only just met, my male boss, a bar situation, lots of ways that could be construed as putting myself into dangerous situations.

And if a violent action had happened to anyone there, it is reasonable to think that others would blame the victim.  It was only a “fun night out” because no one ended up in a violent situation.

In Taiwan, I lived with 4 men.  I was never in danger.  Not once in a year and a half did any of them even come close to raising finger to me.  They were kind and protective.  In a wide variety of situations, I knew at all times that I was safe with them.  Living with men doesn’t make me unsafe.  I wasn’t lucky that I found a rare breed of good housemates.  The general population of men are safe.

Being a victim does not make the scenario dangerous.  Being an abuser does.

#StopVictimBlaming

Because we do so little to put the focus and the blame where it belongs, abusers get away with violence over and over again.  We only live in the “dangerous” world, because we don’t stop violence, instead we question people for being victims.

~

I did 2 sets of 8 pushups today.  My wrists are healing, my mind is healing.  My determination remains strong and new avenues to pursuing  justice are coming around.

My goal is to make sure that John Goosen can never hurt another woman, another person, again.

This month’s, this weekend’s parallels bring me even more healing.  Even more understanding. Even more determination.  Everyone deserves to live their dreams, go for their moons and stars, to be the best version of themselves.

#noonedeservesviolence

There are some really wonderful groups out there I’m aligning with, some great bloggers, and some non-profits with strength beyond what I am capable of solo.  Violence stops people from believing in their greatness.  It stops people from believing in each other.  It stops peace.  No amount of violence can ever bring peace.

Education needs to include teaching ways to achieve peace.  Education needs to be given to everyone.

“If we don’t teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence”  Colman McCarthy

 

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The Blog Tour Blog Post

Thank you BetterNotBroken for your wonderful and thoughtful blog; you have helped me and many others.  And thank you for the invite to be part of The Blog Tour!

Let’s see there are a few rules…..   I need to answer 4 questions, write an original piece, and nominate 4-5 other bloggers.   If I nominate you, and you accept, you are supposed to answer the same 4 questions, nominate other bloggers, and write your original piece to be published on Monday, June 8.

This is not the first time I’ve been invited to something similar or given a blog award. It’s not the first time I’ve accepted. But it’s the first time I’m following through. I have been worried about having too many people read my blog. But, as I’m in “conquer fear” mode, well….. let’s do it!

1             How does your writing/ creative process work?

Oi. I don’t really know. I write how I feel at the time. That’s about the only prerequisite I have for myself. I don’t write on a prescribed topic or stick to one thing. I write when I feel like writing, I don’t stick myself to a schedule. I’ve tried a few times to do the 30 day challenge and I have yet to complete one. Doesn’t mean I won’t, just haven’t yet. My process: write when I feel like it about what I want to.

2             What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on how to spot the abusers. I’m trying to pull out the secrets and display them so that we can all just be safe. No one should have to worry about their safety. There are tells, I want to put them out there.  Oh, and my fear of dogs.

3             Why do you write or create what you do?

I started as a way for my friends and family to know what I was up to as I finished University and embarked on my journeys around the world. Now I write because it keeps me whole. And hopefully it brings goodness to the world on some level.

4             How does your work differ from the others in your genre?

Well, how does it not really? I think all diary type blogs are unique. We all have different lives, learning different things. Maybe mine is different in that I jump from topic to topic.

The blogs I nominate are:

MarriedNomads

MeerkatTravelGang

Taiwanna Adventure

Our Life in 3D

And now for my original post:

Dear Me,

I hardly ever tell you, but I know how strong you are. I know I tell all the ways you aren’t strong too often. I’m sorry. I know you put your brave face out there and make comments about how awesome you are to make-up for all the awful stuff I tell you.

Those words are not true, but you don’t like to hear how good you are. I was just trying to keep you comfortable. I shouldn’t keep repeating them. It’s not fair to you. You’re good with uncomfortable. It’s one of your strengths. I’ll be better.

I don’t tell you often enough how brave you are. I know you say you aren’t, you’re just living your life. But you live your life by your heart. That’s bravery. You don’t take no for an answer when you make up your mind. That’s bravery. I sit silently hoping nothing goes wrong and ready to help you pick up the pieces in case it does. But maybe if I told you more that you are brave, told you more that your courage in the face of obstacles, that taking that first step, every time, made me so proud of you, maybe you would take more first steps.

Your fearlessness scares me sometimes. But we get to have wonderful adventures because of it.

It’s ok to stay open. It’s ok to still be all of who you really are. You have been so true to yourself these last 10 years. I know I keep telling you that you should be more like other people. Sometimes I get so frustrated when you refuse. But, it’s only fear I’m speaking.   Why should you listen to my fear? I’m really grateful you don’t. It’s habit, but all habits can be broken. I will work so hard on this. I don’t really want to be like everyone else. I like you just the way you are.

I’m sorry I keep stringing out those mean questions, flooding you with doubt. You don’t bring these terrible circumstances to you. You are not defective. You don’t have a sign that says, “abuse me”. Those people are out there, with or without you. It’s their place to choose their actions, not yours. It is their wrong doing to harm you, not yours. Their abusive nature is their legacy, not yours.

I know you’ve been hurt. It’s ok to feel the pain. It’s ok. Feel it and keep speaking. Speak up. Speak out. You have a voice that can help others, which can help stop abuse all over the world. Your strength can help, can make a difference.

Go ahead and do it. I will be here supporting you. Along the way there will be more people supporting you. Look how many friends you have supporting you right now. Please forgive me for a life time of misguided thoughts meant to derail you from the inside. Remember this when the naysayers start talking. Remember to dismiss them. They are not speaking from truth, but rather from their own derailing misguided inner voices.

You are kind and patient and accepting and loving. That is your legacy. You know thousands of people and only a small handful have hurt you. Kind and accepting are not bad traits lady, they’re pretty damn good ones. Thank you for not entertaining those doubt-inducing questions, no matter how persistent I was. I am ashamed I ever asked them. I won’t again.

I want you to stop joking when you say that you are awesome. Please believe it. You are. Keep taking the hands of others and help them see how awesome they are, but believe it of yourself as well. Because it’s true.

It’s almost lunch time, so I should probably stop writing so we can eat. Keep strong my darling. There are bright beautiful skies ahead.

If YOU also want to join the Blog Tour, let me know  🙂  

Good Luck to you all in your many adventures!!!  Thanks for reading  🙂

 

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You need consent to touch me

You need consent to touch me

Let’s talk about a more round meaning to a new buzz word: Consent

Disclaimer:        Absolutely all of this post is about adults. I am not even going to venture into the world of children with this post; not parent/child, child/ child, adult/child. This post is about adult/adult behaviors, and more specifically about violence against women.

I hear consent being used a lot these days, and for good reason.

Consent is agreement or permission to do something, for something to happen or be done or to allow something to happen.

But it’s becoming a very squared off version of a much rounder word. I’m finding that consent is being squared off into a meaning that solely relates to sex. And it’s being narrowed down more and more into that, as we try to define what is and is not considered consensual sex.

Giving / receiving consent for sex is SUPER MEGA AMAZINGLY IMPORTANT CRUCIAL and UNDENIABLE. I am not saying it isn’t.

What I am saying is that isn’t *all* consent means.

Consent over what happens to my body should not stop at my lady parts. My WHOLE body needs consent to be touched in any way, at all times.

It’s my body.

Sexual Assault is a part of Physical Assault. You can’t touch me sexually without touching me physically.

Any means in which someone continues to touch you sexually, without your consent is sexual assault. All sexual assault is horrible. Rape is the end all worst thing that can happen in a sexual assault.

Non-consensual sex is rape. End of story. It is. And it is a crime.

But, what about the rest of my body? What about the rest of Physical Assault? If I’m not getting raped, does that mean they don’t need consent to touch me?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

What’s the end all for physical violence against women that doesn’t involve sex? Death

Again, let me state that I am NOT trivializing rape, –rape is a form of death. I know. I’ve been raped. I know the shroud and have spoken with the reaper. But I am trying to complete the whole here.

Consent does not stop at sex. Consent means any way you touch me needs to have my approval.

If I reach out my hand to shake yours, that’s consent. Feel free to grab hold and shake my hand. If I reach out to hug you, and you want to hug me back, that’s consent. Hug away. If you come up behind me and put your hand on my shoulder, I turn, see who you are, smile and say something nice, then shaking my hand or hugging or other forms of nonsexual touch will probably be ok.

If I see who you are and pull away, then you no longer have consent to touch any part of me. Not even my fingernail. You don’t get to reach out and try to pull me in. You don’t get to grab my arm. I don’t care how much you want to talk to me.

If I want to leave the room, there is NO way that you can stop me that is not abuse.

It’s a very general but important concept.

No one can make another person do something. You can’t control anyone.

No matter how high ranking you are, the other person still has their own ability to decide.

The only way to MAKE someone do what you want is through coercion, manipulation, deception, and physical means. Each of these is a form of abuse. No one can make you do anything without being an abuser. ( *this does not include those incarcerated by the law)

You can’t make people do anything.

Each of us has the right to choose what we do.

Sexual or not, you don’t get to touch me without my consent.

So here are a FEW things that I don’t consent to have happen to my body that don’t involve sex:

Having your face in my personal face space. Don’t crowd me. It’s a threat, it’s meant to be a threat, and it’s not ok.

My hands squeezed to a point that my fingers and knuckles press together painfully.

My shoulders or neck squeezed or grabbed with intent to hurt or stop me.

My chin pinched to turn my head or hold my head still.

My hand/ wrist/ arm yanked in order to turn me or stop me from going somewhere I choose to go.

You probably shouldn’t flick me either. I will probably not see that as an acceptable way to touch me.

And some real for sure definite no ways:

Getting pushed up or down stairs, through a hall, over a chair or table, or down into anything.

Being shoved up against a wall or door.

Being picked up and thrown down.

Having my arms wrenched behind me and pulled up.

Being hit, open-handed or closed-fist. Neither one is acceptable.

Having my throat closed by squeezing.

What are the little physical clues? The things that abusers start with? They ways they test the waters? No one starts out the way the man who assaulted me did. The level of violence he went to the first time he chose to assault me went far past testing the waters.

My ex husband started with small things; things I didn’t notice because I was already used to them. But even at his worst, he never reached the level this guy did the first and only time. Yes, this guy knew I’d been abused in my marriage. Because of that knowledge, he felt safe to jump in right where he left off with his last victim.

The thing is abusers start small and subtle. How much power can they take? It’s a rush. It’s about control and power. And abusers use control and power like a drug. They have to have more to keep the rush. They need to see loss of power in the other in order to feel the rush. It’s not a Snap! There’s no moment when all of a sudden a normal guy goes all abuser on someone.

I want to open this discussion up to you. Let’s help each other. What are the physical clues that a man is an abuser? What are the subtle ways they test the waters to see what they can get away with? What physical touch do you not consent to?

I’m going to write about emotional abuse soon, because that is a predecessor to physical abuse. It may not always lead up to, but physical abuse is never without emotional abuse. But this post is about the physical.

 

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I forgive you

Dear Louis and Caroline,

I am writing to let you know I forgive you.
I forgive you for writing your Facebook post.
I forgive you for feeling you needed to write it when I had only ever sung your praises both publicly and privately.
I forgive you for writing it while you knew I would be flying and unable to read or answer it until after all your friends had seen it.
I forgive you for deleting any responses my friends put on it and then making it only for your friends to read.

I forgive you for believing that such a violent act against another human being needs nothing more than his say so that it won’t happen again with no consequences.
I forgive you for taking such a harrowing experience and trivializing it.

I forgive you for lying to me about what you felt I owed you.
I forgive you for lying to me about paying for the classes I taught.
I forgive you for believing that asking to settle between what I owed and what the classes cost, was asking for money.

I forgive you for not emotionally being there for me.
I forgive you for blaming me, instead of John Goosen by assaulting me, for the inconvenience of my staying in your home and eating at your restaurant.

I forgive you for accusing me, not John Goosen, for any part of the missed honeymoon time of our friends.
I forgive you for saying I “complained”.
I forgive you for only helping me move my things after being asked to by the honeymooners.
I forgive you for refusing to help me to have John Goosen arrested for his crime of assault and battery.
I forgive you for calling me selfish because I hadn’t gotten over it a mere 9 days after having been violently assaulted.

In replace of anger and frustration, I give forgiveness and compassion.
I give you a brush, with a mirror, for your daughters.
I give you a long, two person hammock that will easily fit two very tall individuals.
I give you all the things I left you, knowing that you could use them well.

I know that you both are also victims of the abusive cycle. It hurts me to see two sensible people behave the way you have, but I can
understand the need to find release from such a frustrating situation.  I understand it’s easier to release it on someone who isn’t there.

It hurts deep inside a person to know that they have been, and are friends with someone who is a violent abuser. You have long known that John is verbally assaulting at most times, that he becomes physically aggressive and out of control when he drinks, and now you know he is actually emotionally capable of killing someone with his bare hands.

That is hard to deal with on a very deep level. A level that many people don’t like to uncover and look at in themselves.

I didn’t like looking at that part of me when I was married. How could I love someone who hurt me all the time?
But I’ve already had to take that part of me out and give it a good long look-over. I’ve already spent many years and dollars on dealing with that part of me.

I’ve already had to deal with knowing and understanding the capabilities abusers have; the capability to look remorseful in order only to escape consequence; the capability to use faces, lies, and time to change how people see what happened.
I’ve already had the experiences that show me what to do in this situation. You haven’t.

I’ve had someone stand up for me before and have learned how to stand up for myself because of it.  You haven’t.

No one likes to stare abuse in the face.
People want it to go away. They want to think it isn’t really true, it wasn’t that bad, he wouldn’t really do that.
Because it’s easier that way.

Humans like things to be easy, simple, and not abusive. But this situation isn’t any of those things.
I only know what to expect and what to do, because I have already overcome it before.  You haven’t.
I don’t blame you for wanting things to go back to normal.
And I forgive you for expecting it to.
I forgive you for the pain you have caused me in addition to the pain of having been assaulted by your friend.

From this second on, I completely forgive you both, Louis and Caroline.
I cut my cords to you both with forgiveness, compassion, and love. Forgiveness of the acts, compassion for where you are, and love for who you are and what good you did do for me.

I forgive you.
Good-bye.

 

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Of course hindsight begs the questions that can’t be known to ask at the beginning.

I keep asking the questions and having to remind myself that I couldn’t have known before what I know now.  Reminding myself that I am not the one to blame here.

Many people don’t understand my wanderlust, or how I can travel alone as a woman. And even those that understand that, have trouble with the fact that I let Spirit guide me as much as research. Thankfully there are a few that totally get me.

As I look back on the events that led me to Mozambique, I keep looking for my faults. There are some. One is that I could have taken more time to get my ducks in a row beforehand and not gone in so dead broke.

Even with that, I went for the job the same way I have other jobs. You get to know the people, get trained, get to know the area -once you’re there, not beforehand.  I did my research.  I googled the guy that offered me the job. I did some research into Mozambique.

I did not run willy-nilly through the wildflowers towards the great wilds of Africa without a care in the world. I checked it out. I was offered a job as an administrative assistant for a construction company, with room and board provided and a small, but for the area very good, monthly salary. I was told my visas would be covered by the company. The guy even gave me his full given name to look up. Everything seemed on the up and up.

Of course now I ask myself, why weren’t you more careful, why did you just believe him, why did you travel across the globe alone because some guy offered you a job?
Because the truth is, I was the same careful I was heading for Czech and Taiwan. I knew one person going in, I had not met before arriving. Turkey was a little different because I went with a friend. But I still went in with the idea that sure, there will be adjustments, but things will be ok.

Why do any of us believe it when we’re offered a job?  Um, because it’s normal to.

I’ve travelled across the globe, alone, for jobs several times now. There was nothing heading in to this that was more abnormal than any other job you get from online contacts. Hindsight is the only reason I, or anyone, is asking these questions.

And this is the more prevalant form of victim blaming. Why did you/I do that? Why didn’t you/I do that? Why weren’t you/I more careful?

-This is IMPORTANT –

These questions put accusation on the victim, when it is the assailant/abuser that needs the questions!!

Why did he think it was ok to lure someone in, knowing full well that he didn’t own any company and couldn’t provide
any of the things he lied about? Why did he think it was ok to lie? Why wasn’t he more careful with this person
that trusted him? Why did he think it was ok to send off their passport so they couldn’t leave the island? Why does
he think it’s ok to verbally, physically, and situationally abuse the people around him? Why did he lock someone in
a room? Why did he assault that person? Why did he plan out the lies he would tell others about the assault, in
advance of the assault? Why does he think he shouldn’t have any consequences for his actions?

These are the real questions that need to be addressed.

If I keep asking all those victim blaming questions, I can’t grow and move forward. The questions I need to ask need to come from where I am, not where I was. Some of the questions I need to actually ask myself are: Do I feel like someone is going to attack me everywhere I go? Is travelling alone a bad idea? What can I learn from this situation? What do I want to do next? Am I really going to go back to Africa? To Mozambique? How can I do my part to protect others from the harm this guy is capable of?

I know that Spirit told me to go to Mozambique. I don’t even question that. One could ask why, seeing as how my entire time there was one frantic disaster after another, and I totally see that point. But I never felt and don’t feel that it was wrong to be there. I questioned the things that happened, but not that I wasn’t supposed to be there.
I believe there are two main reasons Spirit led  me there.
One: I do have work to do there, I do need to go back for that work. But it is a harsh land, a harsh people, a harsh spiritual environment. I was under near constant spiritual attack while there. I was given a glimpse of what I need to gather before going back. I needed to experience, in order to understand what I need, so I can accomplish my work there.
Two: I believe that this man sensed my unguarded personality and preyed on it. However, unlike the average woman seen as vulnerable, I am a spiritually, emotionally strong woman. I am not weak just because I choose not to close myself off and present a guarded and leery woman to the world. I believe I was Spirit’s way to stop this man from preying on someone without my strength, and damaging another human being past a point they could deal with, or for many years, or both, or possible killing them.  Am I ok with having gone through this in order to have protected someone else?  You better believe it.

Do I think someone is going to attack me everywhere I go? No, by and large people are good. If I judged the world only by the harm that can be done, well, I’d never leave my room. Is travelling alone a bad idea? No. I’ve been doing it for a while. One out of hundreds of people I’ve met in my travels does not deter me. Do I need to be more careful than a guy travelling alone, yes. Sadly. Should it be that way? NO!

And when we start putting all the blame where it belongs, ie the abusers and assailants, and catcallers,
people who think that women are property, then women can start being safe just because they are a human being with
equal rights to safety, not because they’ve armed themselves enough.

Am I going back? Yes, I need to gather my resources in order to do it right, but yes, I will be going back. I have work to do there.

One big lesson I am learning is to let go of the emotional pain that comes when you feel betrayed. I had no emotional connection to the guy that assaulted me. But I had an emotional connection to the family that turned their backs on me and began flinging ridiculous accusations at me. Spirit will take care of me and them in whatever way it sees fit, and I have to let go of that feeling of betrayal. I am, but I’ve had a couple days of frustration over it.

Losing a trust is such a big deal to me. Partially because I know that others can trust me. Partially because I have witnessed time and time again, that when you give people trust, they become trustworthy, when you give them honor, they become honorable, and when you give them abasement, they become corrupt, etc.

I choose to see the best in people, give them the best of me, and believe that it will bring out the best in them.  Nine times out of ten, that’s the case, so that one kinda hurts when it’s a “friend”.

I answered all the questions going in, to the best of my ability to without being able to see into the future. Sure, the same questions looking back will result in different answers, but we don’t live life in reverse. So I take my lessons, my insights, and my resolve into the future. A future in which I will travel, I will teach, I will not let fear get the better of me, and I will do my best to create positive change wherever I go.

Remember as you go through life and encounter similar situations, to ask yourself  if the questions you are asking put accusation and blame on the victim in the situation, or on the aggresor/abuser, where it belongs. At no point, under no circumstance, no matter what they believe in, who they love, what they are wearing, drinking, etc., should anyone feel that violence or a crime against them is their fault. We have a basic human right to dignity and safety, period. No one has the right to violate, hold hostage, assault, or commit a crime against us for any reason. None, there are no reasons that are acceptable. No moments, no amount of alcohol or drugs or jealousy, or
anything, ever, for anyone. Ask the questions that support the victim: How can I help you? What do you need? When do you need me there?

I want to thank all of you for your wonderful support and kind kind words! I haven’t posted many of the comments that I’ve gotten, but know that I have read them and love you for them!  Soon I’ll be back to posts that are less grave.

 

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