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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.

photo

John Goosen. Willem Johannes Goosen of South Africa.

JohnGoosenFB

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 endeavor to walk in the world: Overcoming

The endeavor to walk in the world: Overcoming

HEALING

Through a variety of ways, I have healed internally much faster than anticipated.  Mostly, through determination to not stay stuck in a place of fear.  However, there have been some other wonderful helps along the way. That is not to say I am through with the process.  Hell no.   But I’m farther along than I thought I would be right now.  Much farther.

My journey through becoming a shaman is slower than I expected, but far more powerfully healing than I anticipated.  It packs a punch and then I need time to process it all.   But, I am.  AND THAT IS AWESOME.  I am reaching and stretching and seeing life in bigger and better ways.  I am definitely more confident in my own abilities to trust my journey and its processes.  I am more confident in my spiritual strength and ability to follow my own path no matter who says what about it.

I have had to stare down my childhood and many of the ways that my parents, but specifically my father at this point, primed me for abuse in my future, albeit mostly unknowingly.  And I have had to work through the fear, very real and serious fear of confronting him about it.  But I’ve done it.  And he’s listened.  And though it was incredibly scary, it has been equally freeing since.

I am sifting through the book of my life and placing bookmarks between the pages I need to work on.  I am unfolding the page corners that I had dog-eared for quick reference; the stories I keep thinking back on, that keep me from growing.  I am going back and making new notes on the memories to remind little me that we figured out that problem.  And I am holding my book with newfound love, wrapped in my arms, against my chest; whereas before I held it at arms length, always afraid it would open to the wrong page when I wasn’t looking.

I am ready to travel and teach again.  I am ready to meet new people and find more joy.  I’m ready to start being me again.  And it feels pretty damn good.

RESEARCH

My research and discovery process is and has been enlightening to both the awareness that is already out there and to the still greater amount of awareness and education that is needed.  I have discovered terms I had never heard of, yet know the details of intimately, like Gaslighting.

Unless you know the term, you can’t find it as a form of abuse.  There’s no Google lookup for the individual terms within the forms of abuse, that I’ve found anyway.  It takes looking through hundreds of other avenues to find the term, then start looking that up. I’m working on changing that.  I’m collecting terms.  In fact, if you know of any, please comment, I need the help.

Boy have I had my fair share of gaslighting!  Look it up, you’ll be amazed, enlightened, and hopefully strengthened in your understanding of abuse, how to spot it and stop it.  And I’m starting my own new term, Halfening, the victim-blaming coddling of an abuser for fear of repercussion, after those that did it to me.

FEAR

I don’t like to think that I’m afraid of the unknown.  I actually like heading off into some new adventure, not sure what to expect or how things will turn out, who I will meet along the way, but ready to find out.

However, the unknown of where and when my next adventure begins…….   I am not liking this unknown at all.  I actually pretty much hate the interim.  It causes me panic and to make decisions too fast in order to at least be headed in a certain direction.

BUT HEY, I am in learning mode.  So, even though I’ve had a couple different opportunities to just head into the crazy wild blue, I haven’t taken them.  I’ve given more thought, I’ve taken more time.  I am learning.

LEARNING

I’m still working through the fear of trusting myself.  It is frustrating because I know that I made a fast decision to head off to Mozambique, but I also know that I was guided there.  I trusted my guide and I am actually coming out of this far stronger than even I would have guessed.  But, I am keenly aware that I was guided there to find out that I don’t know how to see the signs of abusers.

I asked for understanding of what happened with Sven.  I thought I had figured out my confidence, my refusal to put up with abuse, my love of self.  And then bam, confidence shaken.  And on the heels of that, Willem Johannes Goosen, aka John Goosen, of South Africa, happened.

This lack of confidence is a layer of the thick blanket of victim blaming that we hold onto.  It is both safe and suffocating.  I need to trust my gut and the results of following my gut.  Sven went against what my gut told me, but he worked until he convinced me.  Mozambique was completely following my gut.  Bad things happen no matter what.  Great things happen no matter what.

During the time I thought Sven and I were moving forward, I was so happy. I was so in love.  I had a great time, and I don’t regret one minute of it.  People ask me if I ever think of revenge; plot for someone to beat him up or something.  I don’t.  Truthfully, the best revenge is that he lost me.  I’m pretty awesome.  Don’t abuse me, and I’m top freaking notch.  That’s his loss not mine.

Mozambicans are wonderful people.  The local people amazed me in so many ways.  The scenery was wonderful and I am so grateful to have been to Africa.  And because of what happened in Mozambique, I have learned what happened with Sven, and what happened with the ex-husband and the few other ex relationships along the way.

I need to trust my gut and press forward with the decisions I make based on my instinct, without fear.  That blanket makes it safe to say, “if only”, “why didn’t I”, “I can’t”, “I shouldn’t”.  Those things feel safe, like they will keep me safe, but bad things happen no matter what.  Hiding from my path doesn’t keep me safe.  Running into or away from, doesn’t guarantee safety.

Just like I keep telling my little step-neice, it’s ok to make mistakes, that’s how we learn.

and

GREAT THINGS HAPPEN NO MATTER WHAT

ANOTHER DREAM

I need to stop worrying about safe and put my focus on non-abusive.  I had a dream last night.  I was swimming deep in the ocean with a group of whales.  They kept coming over to me and then going up to get air.  Somehow I was not needing to go get air, yet they kept insisting I should.  After I did, they showed me where land was and so I went up.

Everywhere I walked there were snakes. They were mostly out in the open, yet all of them had only their head and part body showing, the rest curled up in their hiding places.  A few were slinked back inside their hideout.  There was a child with me, and we were walking together.

I was not afraid of the snakes, but I knew I couldn’t give them any energy/ acknowledgement/ attention or they would bite.  I had to teach the child to see without giving acknowledgement, to not be afraid, not be curious or get too close.  The scenery was varied as we walked, rocky, grassy, outside, inside, and there were snakes in a snack booth and a book case.  They were talking to us, some trying to be helpful, give advice, offer to get things for us, but we had to remember they were still snakes.  If we gave them any acknowledgement, they would bite us.

There were many blue things as well, blue was a significant color.  There were people, men, women, children all around us, some talking to the snakes, some not.  Some were holding the snakes, some were collecting them, but many just ignored them.

Snakes and whales have interesting meanings in dreams and as power animals.  I’m curious to see what comes of this.  But I woke up feeling very good.

That’s all for now follks.  I’m doing really well.  I’m looking forward to my next adventure.  I’m singing, crying, laughing, and otherwise feeling the feels of life and loving it.   Go be awesome today, I plan to.

 

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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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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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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”.  Telling them that my mom was sending money, they just needed to tell me how much, and they said none.

Now it is 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.  But, I was slowly being outcasted by them.  All the ways they were “helping” me, they began to see in a negative way, because I wasn’t dropping the charges.

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” not been aggressive, abusive, and finally assaulted me.

None of my living with them, or need of 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.  This is not my fault.

I desperately tried to be as little a burden on them as possible.  I began eating as little as possible.  I helped with the house and girls whenever they asked, 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. He’s still living there, they are still living there. 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.  It’s what happens when those around don’t want to think about it anymore.

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.

Now I am being labeled as a “psycho” by them for continuing to believe that justice needs to be served. He’s not a psycho for having assaulted me, I am for pursuing charges.  He doesn’t need consequences that will follow him so that others will be protected in the future.   Because in their eyes, I should let it all go, on his word that he will get help. I am the one who behaved wrongly by continuing the process.

And he is taking all this in.  Realizing he’s gotten away with it, for the time being, again.  He is being empowered by their actions.  And they don’t even realize it.

I surely wish that this will never happen to them or their daughters. I can only hope that no-one in their family goes through what I have, but if they do, I hope even more that their friends don’t do this to them afterward.

This is one of the worst parts of violence against women……

 

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You see it’s all about that bed, bout that bed, no kidding

You see it’s all about that bed, bout that bed, no kidding

It would seem that my prior non-diseased self may have underestimated the amount of time it takes to recover from Typhoid. Apparently 5 days is not long enough. Nor is 7, or 8. Yes, I am still spending most days in bed.

The frustrating part is that while laying here, I feel fine. So I get up and try to do something…… then, it hits me. The weak, dizzy, tired, must go back to bed feeling.

Sunday I thought I’d fight through it and just go do some easy walking around, conversation, no big deal. I sat most of the day. However, Monday found me so damn drained I laid in bed for the majority of it; not even able to complain.

Today again, I feel ok while sitting here, but not once I get up and do anything, drained. I’m eating though. Getting my veggies and meat and starch. I have a sugar craving like I’ve never had before, so I figure why not? I’m eating anything I can right now. I’m eating at Escondidinho, instead of bed, so I’m getting a little exercise on the walk there.

The progress towards a school is, albeit slow, still marching on. Education is my life, even when in Africa, hahaha.

So, in my boredom I’ve been going through some of my photos and I’ve selected a few of my favorite sunrise and sunset photos from the last 2 weeks. Here ya go.

I'm amazed every day at these beautiful skies.

I’m amazed every day at these beautiful skies.

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Mother Nature creates beauty that is awe inspiring.

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I think I hear music in the air ❤

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My rooftop is one of my favorite places!

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The small fort is on it’s own little island that is only accessible by foot, and only during low tide.

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Can you say wow?!

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That’s the continent on the other side and two fishing boats.

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Yup.

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The color contrast made me speechless.

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Night night sun…… Thank you for your colors.

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A creepy crawler on my bed. Not a great bed fellow……

I’ll put a few photos of me up once I don’t look as sick as I do right now. No one wants to see this mess. But soon I’ll be back at it. Beast mode will continue. And so will my journey through education.

 
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Posted by on 03/03/2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Well that was fun…… NOT

Sometimes I wonder how on earth I survive. It seems I have some pretty powerful guardian angels watching out for me!

I’m pretty health conscious overall. I try to be clean and hygenic. I bleach everything when I clean. I’m cautious about what I eat. I exercise. I’m aware of my surroundings generally.

But even with all that, sometimes you will catch something anyway. And I caught Typhoid Fever.

Here’s a website in case you want to know http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/typhoid_fever/

I think I got it from swimming in the ocean near my place. The locals will often go crap on the shoreline during low tide. I won’t be doing much ocean swimming any more. The restaurant I eat at has very clean practices, so I am sure it wasn’t from contaminated food.

I’ve been a little ill off and on since a couple weeks in but I put it up to adjusting to the heat, a new environment, a month without electricity, etc. It was never too bad. Turns out all my symptoms were the Typhoid/ Salmonella incubating in my system this whole time.

Monday I woke up not feeling great but good still. I took some sunrise pictures, did a short workout, ate breakfast, taught a class, ate lunch, everything seemed normal.

I went for dinner, I’m talking to those around me, the food has almost arrived and I started feeling very tired and dizzy. Then apparently I fell over with a seizure. A full-on bite my tongue seizure. I came to feeling so disoriented. It felt like I was waking up from being asleep. I had been having a really intense dream. I remember thinking the dream was so vibrant and full of color and sound and then I was waking up. I couldn’t focus, everything was blurry, I didn’t recognize anybody. It was really weird.

I couldn’t move my hands or feet, they were stuck in this weird position, for a while. Throughout the night this happened 2 more times. There were also several times where my muscles would tense up and I couldn’t talk, but I was still mostly aware.

I was taken to the local clinic. I don’t remember much of anything. But I remember saying that I could feel the IV moving in my veins. The nurse had used a non-typical IV solution for me because they had run out of the normal one they use.

Why? Because of a freak accident that had happened earlier where a small, 3 C-battery lamp had exploded and severely burned three people.

The IV happened to have a milk product in it, which luckily John was able to catch very quickly. He literally saved my life several times that night by being diligent and watching every step the hospital staff made. Kept alive.

John and Caroline came with me while I called my mama before heading to Nampula to a bigger clinic. I am relying on her heavily in my time here because of what a wonderful Shaman she is. This island has a lot of bad history to be worked through.

Fazlo drove us all to Nampula through seriously torrential rain. It was a scary ride, I can’t lie, but he maneuvered through everything. Dodging people, cars, potholes, and animals in the road when he could barely see past the front of the van.

The doctor in Nampula didn’t believe anything any of us said at first. He just kept asking what drugs I had taken and not believing when I said none. He agreed to keep me overnight for observation and then get a full blood draw in the morning because the laboratory was closed. He was quite obviously placating us and still thought I was just on drugs. He flat out insisted I hadn’t had any seizures even though it was notated by the first clinic.

Through some weird miracle I mentioned that my tongue felt like it was made of metal ever since the first seizure. That stopped him in his tracks. All of a sudden he believed. The blood tests were ordered, the laboratory was suddenly not closed, and I was given a bed in the clinic.

I spent the night with all my limbs feeling like they needed to stay contracted. It hurt so much. I’m really glad John stayed with me because the intensity of the whole situation would have been unbearable by myself. I owe him a lot of gratitude.

2 IV rounds of antibiotics and a round of safe hydration fluids, a restless night, some translation issues, a round with police over said translation issues, borrowed money to help increase my inability to get my visa squared away, wonderful people that gave us a place to lie down, eat something, and rest before the trip back to Ilha, the taxi car’s fan belt breaking, waiting for a new car to drive us back….

I’m just glad it’s over. I don’t feel as dizzy today, though my kidney hurts and every muscle in my body is sore. Every one. I’m drinking lots of bottled water. I’m staying in bed and resting.

That wasn’t even a little bit fun, but I’m on the mend. The work I am supposed to do here will be trying I think, but I also believe it is worth it.

 
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Posted by on 25/02/2015 in Uncategorized

 

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2 days in a row with electricity!!!

2 days in a row with electricity!!!

It is really humbling and amazing when things you have taken for granted most of your life become luxuries to be celebrated.

I got to take a real shower. I got to turn on the tap and brush my teeth! Conserving bottled water and only brushing my teeth once a day, SO glad to not be doing that for two days now.

Running the AC at night and not sweating through sleep-difficult nights is such a rich luxury I want to kiss the AC machine.

Life is good.

It’s an interesting phenomena that even with everything seemingly wrong, I’m learning how to make my time right here.

In Turkey, I had money, I was saving money, I could go see a movie or go to a mall. I had an oven, beauty products, my choice of hygiene products, but I was miserable.

Here, well, I have none of that. In fact, I have the most of nothing I’ve ever had, but, I can do good work here.

The construction company that has me doing their accounting asked me to teach a few of their workers English. We’ve only had 4 lessons but I am being stopped by people on the street every day now, to ask about English classes for themselves or their children. There is a desire to learn.

As far as I have heard so far, there has never been an English school here. And with the tourism industry about to boom here, what with all the hotels and museums currently in construction, there is not only a strong need, but a strong desire to learn.

I’m trying to find ways to make a living here while doing research into the needs. It’s a struggle, like I said, everything is seemingly going wrong. I wasn’t able to exchange my Turkish money, so I have none. My visa is setting up a daily fine that I can’t pay, plus the cost of the new visa once I get the fines paid. I have to figure out how to pay that while not making any money. My work at the construction company is paying room and board, so I have a roof over my head and food to eat, (with electricity I also have running water again !).

Luckily for me, being dirt poor is not new, I can do this too. Especially when I get to see some of the most beautiful scenery of my life.

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the office

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My room

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More of the wonderful things I get to see each day

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I got desperate for something sweet and wanted to make some cookies with my last egg…. I tried, that’s good. Right? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s funny, I asked my mama to send me some goodies while I was still in Turkey. Now those things seem so trivial, salsa, dried green chile, comfort foods. I still want paint, mosquito repellent, crayons….

I haven’t worn a stitch of makeup since I left Turkey. My needs to get by have been drastically altered, for the better I think. I look around me and see such poverty, yet such joy in life. People of all ages sing as they go down the street. It is not unusual to see people dancing wherever they are.

But it is also not unusual to see people just sitting. There is very little work here. The schools on Ilha are the best in this part of the country and many children are bussed in to attend. But the local children can’t afford it. They walk around the island all day, rolling tires with sticks, drawing in the sand, but just meandering around until night time.

I know I can do good here.

As I continue my research, I hope to begin posting more about the history of Ilha de Mozambique…. a place I am beginning to love.

 
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Posted by on 14/02/2015 in Expat, health and healing

 

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Bangers for Breakfast

I’m wishing I had been able to get my Wicked Tinkers CS’s downloaded before I left.   Missing my bagpipes today.  Weird, but true.

I accomplished a few firsts this last week!

First week since my fall that I’ve been able to go to the gym 4 days in a week.

First time since the fall, that I did weighted squats WITH the squat bar!!!  Heck yeah!

First time I ran past my goal time without even realizing I had, until I looked down, and I had past by 5 min already and I wasn’t even really ready to stop!!

First time I drove the scooter outside of my little area here…  AND drove it all over northwestern Taiwan in search of a beach.  I may not have found a beach yet, but I can add a lot of scooter time and sight seeing onto my “ta done” list.

First time I killed a freshly satisfied mosquito that was INSIDE my mosquito net.  sigh.

First time I made plans to go to a Latin Carnival!!

First time since I’ve been here that I can share the newness of it all with someone thanks to my new friend Jennifer.  It really does make such a huge difference.

I didn’t have bangers for breakfast this morning, but, maybe I can find The Wicked Tinkers online and listen to some amazing bagpipe and didgeridoo, feel good, toe tapping, awesomeness this evening.

 

 

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