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Category Archives: violence in Africa

The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

They say when things get tough, that’s when you see people’s true colors.

In each of my trials, I’ve been shown the “true colors” of my friends.  I’m lucky to have so many good friends.  I appreciate all the calls, messages, shows of support, and offers to hang out now that I’m stateside again.  And, I truly appreciate my online friends as much as my in-person friends. 

Blog of many colors

Right now I’m coming to grips with how this atrocity even happened.  I was handling all that Mother Nature was dishing out; no electricity, no running water, violent storms, horrendous heat, Typhoid Fever, with a fair amount of grace I think.  And then without warning, at the end of my weakest state, John Goosen went on an unprovoked ape-shit rampage and decided to fling me around like a rag doll to make me listen to his drunken rant.

Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  That’s normal.  I write more on my good days, but lately it’s writing about my bad days.  That’s also normal.

I value being able to read through other blogs to see the uplifting and helpful information out there.  Feeling like there is a community of people who understand the process I am going through is so wonderful.  Sometimes it can be difficult for my in-person friends to understand.

And then there is always the hope that through this blog someone else can be helped as I work through everything and keep living the day to day as well.  Life goes on and this is how I’m trying to learn as I go.

All the Colors change

Once something traumatic has happened, you see the world differently.  I see the world differently.  Not better or worse, just different.  Things that were once important aren’t any more.  Things that weren’t important suddenly are.  Everything is colored a little differently.

Different or not, I’m still trying to walk through this world. I’m still trying to learn from this and become a better person for it.  I still see the beauty in the sunrises and sunsets.  I love listening to the birds in the morning and the coyotes in the evenings.  I enjoy conversations, cold beers, painting, reading, laughing.

But behind it all I’m trying to find my voice, give voice to those who don’t have it, and blaze a trail for change.

I pick at and piece through the trash pile that is the ways abusers work.  It is alarming how often I pick up a piece of that trash and think, “Oh, that looks familiar, that must be mine.”  Only to turn it over and see an Abuser’s name on it. It’s a bit disheartening to see how pervasive the blaming/ shaming way we treat victims is. 

For example, we all have heard “there’s a way victim’s walk, or hold their head, or (….) that clues abusers in that they are a good target”.

First,

and I want to scream this at the top of my lungs,

NO ONE SHOULD EVER. BE. A. TARGET. 

It doesn’t flipping matter if PersonX walks around with a real sign that says, “I let people abuse me”, PersonX should not get abused.  PersonX should not be a target.  PersonX should feel and be safe.  End of story.  Even if the sign has shiny flashy lights with arrows.

No one should be a target.

Think about that for a minute.  If PersonX has poor self-esteem, (and that shows through their posture), there are people out there who are compelled to hurt PersonX because of it.  Abusers look for people who already feel inferior, then Abusers humiliate them, isolate them, manipulate their emotions, make them feel crazy, makes others think they’re crazy. 

And instead of denouncing the Abuser, instead of stopping the Abuser from finding and hurting others, the general population looks at PersonX and says, “hold your head up more, walk straighter so abusers won’t target you”.  Everything gets shifted over to PersonX.

Why are people so afraid of Abusers that they can’t stand up to them?  I stood alone in trying to get people to see see John Goosen as an abuser.  The other people in Mozambique were so afraid to stand up to him.  He needed to work. He needed his space.  It wasn’t good what he did, but he’s sorry.  He needs medication.

Not a single person, other than myself, looked at him and called him out.  Not one person actually stood up to him, except me.     

It has been enlightening to say the least, to realize every single person I’ve discussed abusive situations with has given ways to change PersonX.

Ex:   “I’d try to get them alone to tell them I could help them if they leave the abuser.”

“Abuser has a (…) problem.  PersonX needs to be more understanding.  I mean get away, but then they need to worry about themselves, not Abuser.  Good riddance, they can deal with themselves”

“If you just tell them to leave, they say ‘it’s only one time’, or ‘Abuser loves me’.  You have to give them little examples how to leave without really saying they need to.”

“I don’t understand why PersonX would go back after that.  PersonX needs to get their head examined.”

Not a single person suggested that the Abuser needs to change. 

The Abuser straight up thought, “Hey PersonX looks (insert adjective of choice ie, lonely, sad, etc.).  If I make them a little less (adjective) they’ll take any shit I dish out.”  “If you feel bad, I want to make you feel worse.”  “And I’m going to make you and everyone else think it’s your fault.”

And everybody else thinks, “PersonX should’ve made themselves look less like a victim.”

This is what abusers do.  They work the whole scenario from the beginning.  From the initial lure to the end, everything and everyone in their environment is part of the set up to get off scott-free.

Our True Colors

I think we are so entrenched, as a general population, in generations upon generations of dysfunctional families, war torn memories, secrets, and lies that we don’t even know how to see the first red flags anymore.  Abusers have done such a trick on the mainstream psyche that when we finally see the red flags, we all point fingers at the victims.

But how can we stop the abuse from happening if we start at the end?

What do you think? 

As you’ve heard/ read my and other stories, how many times have you asked the ‘questions of change’ to the victim rather than the abuser? 

How can we change that scenario?  How can we really stop abuse if we don’t change it?

 

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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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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, realizing I was being held “nicely” as a hostage, 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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As my bruises heal

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

The man I was having to live 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 everyone 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.

The next half an hour consisted of his locking the only door out, being slammed up against walls, while he spewed threats and profanities at me, twisted my arms and wrists, having my arms repeatedly wrenched back and up towards my ears, being picked up and thrown on the floor over 20 times, being thrown up against walls, strong-armed onto the floor where he put his forearm against my throat while telling me he was 4 times as strong as me and twice my size, repeatedly hit me while telling me it was too easy, held me down with his knee in my abdomen.

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 where he had held his knee into it moments earlier. Afterward, he tossed me across the room again where I begged him to let me go. Then, as I crawled across the floor he picked me up and threw me again, grabbed me by the throat, tightened his grip to the point I couldn’t breathe and began banging my head against the concrete wall.

Caroline came just in time. As she knocked on the door, he had his hands around my throat, choking me until 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, screaming at me, Caroline 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. He was planning to kill me.

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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