Tag Archives: choice

Representative Akin, Every Rape is Legitimate: An Open Letter

Hello Recovery Writers,

Rarely am I so angry about an issue that I feel I need to take it on in this manner, but when I read about this…well, you know how I am. This is not one I was just going to let go. I tried to stay dignified in my response, and I’m sending this letter onto his office. I encourage you all to write your own congressmen, as well as Rep. Akin himself if you feel as strongly about this as I do. I’ll include his contact information at the end of this article. As always, thanks for reading.

Update: In my zeal to get this letter written and out there, I originally called Todd Akin a senator; this is incorrect. He is a state representative who is running for senator in Missouri. My apologies for any confusion.

Also: There are now several petitions going around demanding sanctions for Rep. Akin. Here is a link to one of them if you’d like to sign (I already have, of course!):

CREDO Action: Tell Rep. Todd Akin: Stop lying about rape

Missouri Republican claims ‘legitimate rape’ rarely results in pregnancy 

Dear Representative Akin,

This is an open letter addressing your unbelievably idiotic and insensitive statements in the article above. How dare you attempt to qualify whether or not rape is “legitimate”. Until you have personally experienced rape, personally experienced unfathomable shock and trauma and shattering of your life and bodily integrity, you don’t get to say word one about the legitimacy of rape. And as far as the rate of pregnancy goes, if you’re going to have the nerve to try and use that as a factor to illegitimize rape, then at least have the decency to have actual science on your side. Despite what some pro-life witch doctor with a medical degree from Sally Struthers may have told you, pregnancy can actually happen without a woman’s consent. It happened to a friend of mine. For the majority of the time I was being repeatedly raped, I was “lucky” enough to have been a child, incapable of conceiving. The last time I was raped, I was severely anorexic and not menstruating, also making it highly unlikely. I didn’t get pregnant from any of the times I was raped, but I think about it sometimes: what would I have done if I had? I honestly don’t know. Back then, the morning after pill wasn’t available. Now, I would certainly do that first. And, by the way, the morning-after pill IS NOT a form of abortion! It PREVENTS pregnancy from ever happening, actually making abortions less likely to occur. If you’re really all about protecting life, supporting birth control is really the way to go. Keeping those pregnancies from occurring in the first place will stop abortions from happening. And if your interest is truly in stopping abortions- as opposed to simply controlling women’s lives and bodies- then really, you might want to jump aboard. Men like you who think that they have any right to legislate the choices available to women who have been raped truly terrify me. Like I said, you have not experienced this. You can’t IMAGINE what it is to be raped, much less to experience a pregnancy from rape. How dare you try to limit a woman’s options in that situation. As if it isn’t hard enough. The rapist should be punished. But the victim shouldn’t be. And that is exactly what you’re doing when you limit her ability to make decisions about what’s right for her body and her life.

Sincerely,
Sarah Henderson

Contact Representative Todd Akin

 

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New Poem: “Passing On”

 

 

 

 

So after that last blog post about moving on and leaving my trauma history behind, I was inspired to write this poem. I hope you like it. Peace, Sarah

 

11/9/11

 

Passing On

 

I feel something, don’t know what

Dragging, needing to be cut

 

Dry old bones that I still treat

As if they’re covered with fresh meat

 

These fossils have a proper place

Buried beneath the earth’s dirt face

 

Dead things belong underground

Where they cannot make a sound

 

Cannot call back out to me

Flashing back my history

 

Chaining me to what is gone

Keeping me from moving on

 

Pulling one eye backwards to

The things that I once saw in you

 

Making me listen again

To threats and screams, wrists being pinned

 

I now refuse to hear those things

I will not answer when you ring

 

Your name is Past, I’ll leave you there

It isn’t that I didn’t care

 

I’ve honored your pain quite enough

I’m focusing on other stuff

 

Facing my future, with you behind

A new beginning peace of mind

 

© Sarah Henderson 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Unchained Memory: Letting Go of My “Survivor” Identity

My therapist suggested something really interesting today that got me thinking hard, and I had to share it with you.

I’ve been feeling stuck for a long time now. Today I had a breakthrough because of my therapist’s suggestion, and this was it: Perhaps I need to stop identifying myself so much as a victim, as a survivor. Perhaps doing that keeps me chained to my past in a way that is stopping me from moving forward in my life, weighing me down, keeping me stuck. I like the way that telling my story helps other people tell theirs; however, at a certain point, does telling my story keep me in the story? Does talking about it constantly keep it alive in a way that it doesn’t deserve to be? I have honored my past. I have looked at it, worked with it, worked through it, talked openly about it, shared it with the world. I have analyzed it to understand how it affected me as a child and how it affects me now. I have written poetry about it and written it as a narrative. I have acted it out in psychodrama, made collages and paintings in art therapy, built sculptures in sand trays, and voiced parts in family systems. It has moved through my body in dance therapy, and moved through my thoughts in meditation. I’m not sure there’s anything left do with my past.

Except, perhaps, to leave it behind.

That is the one thing I have not done. I have not allowed myself to put my past in the past. I have kept it in the present by writing about it, publicizing it, using it to help others. And I’m proud of that. But keeping my past in the present like this seems to be detrimental to my future. I can’t wear the survivor badge forever. Not if I want to move on to other ways of being, move on to play other roles on my life. For instance, I want to be a nurse. I want to be a wife someday. I want to be a mother. I want to continue to be a writer, but about different things. I want to be a good daughter. I want to volunteer. There are a lot of roles I want to play in my future, and it will be hard to do while carrying that weight of my old victimhood. I just don’t need it anymore. I can be other things. I am so much more than my trauma. I am so much more than a rape victim, an abuse victim, a victim of any kind. I am so much more than a survivor. I can use those skills that I learned in my past as a survivor without dragging up the past with it. I can be a fighter, a fast learner, an intuitive person, thick-skinned, all those assets, without bringing up their origin. I can just appreciate their existence.

I am saying I can do all these things, but even as I write this, I am doubting it. Changing my perspective, letting go of my past will not be easy, might take some work. But I think I am ready to do it. I wanted to tell you all this, because it means there will be some changes to Writing for Recovery. I probably will not be speaking about my own past experiences anymore if I am going to really attempt this. I hope you all understand. I think I have written plenty about my history; enough for a lifetime.

What comes up for you when you think about letting go of that victim/survivor role? How would that change your life? I’d love to know what you think.

Thank you for supporting me in this. I hope you all continue to write and tell your stories as much as you need to, until you are ready to let go like I am. All my love, Sarah


Declaration of Independence from Stigma

I have something important to share with you all. Earlier a friend of mine gave a very brave statement when she said: “I have PTSD!! I’m not ashamed to talk about it!” Taking her example, I want to say this:

I have bipolar. I had eating disorders and PTSD, I cut myself and attempted suicide. I was a victim of childhood physical and sexual abuse. I grew up in domestic violence. I was raped.

And I am not ashamed.

I have done nothing wrong. I am not to blame for the abuse I suffered or the psychiatric disorders I am diagnosed with. I got therapy and take medication and that does not mean I’m crazy. I will not be silenced or shamed by stigma or societal pressure to keep these things hidden. They are part of my story, and I know they are part of your stories too. Join me in declaring that you will not be silenced by stigma!!! ♥


Domestic Violence Story Project: Cathy

Hello everyone! Thank you for joining me once again for the Story Project. This fourth story on our series comes to us from a woman who has really turned her pain into power. The way she did it may not work for everyone, and you may or may not agree with her spiritual views, but you must agree that she has taken her experience with domestic violence and used it to transform the lives of other victims. I believe Cathy to be a very brave woman, and I’m glad she was one of the fortunate ones who survived to tell her story. 

 

My name is Catherine Staton, and I am a survivor, advocate and spokesperson of domestic violence and abuse. I am the founder of MyHelpMyHope Charity, Inc. I could not believe the man I had married, was not who he said he was. He was a retired from the army as a drill sergeant and I was his cadet. At the beginning he would set the clock for 2am and I had to get up and have sex every morning before he went to work. And if I didn’t give it to him, he made my life miserable. I couldn’t even decorate our home without his approval. If he came home and there was a scratch on the wall, it was an argument. If my son put the dishes in the dish washer wrong or the wrong dish in the wrong cabinet, it was an argument. I was nothing but a sex machine.

Outside of that he had no conversation. His true self appeared 6 months after moving into his home and giving up mine. Before I moved with him, he acted like he loved my son. That changed once we moved in. After we moved in, it was like my son was not even there. I was head butted like a savage beast. I was told to get out. Can you imagine being married and your husband telling you to get out of your home? After you have physical and verbally attacked me, how is it that you think I want to lay with you? That’s what I would ask him. He would physically or verbally attack me and then want me to lay with him. He didn’t even expect me to drive my own car.

The day we buried my mother, this man wanted to have sex. Enough was enough. I fled for my life 3 years ago, went back after a year, and then fled for my life again 1 year after that, from extreme verbal, emotional, physical, mental and psychological abuse. When I went back the second I thought he had changed. I was trying to live according to the word. But nothing had change. I became very depressed, I lay in the bed all the time, I didn’t want to go anywhere. This time he didn’t put his hands on me but he verbally, emotional, mentally, and psychological abused me every day. I started praying to God more than usual. Then one day, I was driving in my car and I saw the clouds in the sky like I never seen them before, the grass and the trees weren’t just grass and trees any more.

Something was happening to me. God started my transformation. I tried to make my marriage work, according to the Bible, especially since God was transforming me. So I did everything I could to make this man happy, but it was not good enough. So as God transformed me, he spoke to me. I started volunteering at a domestic violence shelter, and educating myself on what was happening to me. I found out I was being abused. As I got more informed God put this shield around me. My husband would come attack me verbally and I wouldn’t hear a thing. During the last year of being abuse I developed an intimate and personally relationship with God and during this period is when I discovered my calling.

I started preparing myself to get out of that situation and when I got the chance I ran and never looked back. I created a new life for me and my son. I am happy to be here and that we are free. I truly believed how I was being treated, was the way a man was supposed to treat you, until I got married and started living for Christ and I woke up. I started speaking and doing things for victims and survivors. I decided to turn my negative into a positive. I decided to live to make a difference. I refused to let my circumstance take over me.

Peace is something powerful to have and I was glad to have it. My son and I could have a good night’s sleep. Change starts from within. I refused to let what my husband had done to me take over me. I had to start living my life for today. I had to get up and be obedient to what God was whispering in my ear to do. Go out there and show other victims and survivors that they don’t have to live a life of abuse. There is help and hope, if you leave. Transitioning wouldn’t be easy, but if I could do it, so can you. Through God all things are possible.

 

 

 

 

www.myhelpmyhope.org

Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

I Live to Make a Difference!

TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE!

(757) 202-2451


Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Abusive Behaviors

There are all different types of abusive behaviors: physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, financial, using children, and more. It can still be abuse if you are not being hit. You can still be raped, even if you are married. Being forced to have an abortion or carry a child you don’t want is abusive. Being isolated and having no control over the family finances, given an allowance like a child is abusive. Being told you are worthless is abusive. Women can be abusers. Knowledge is power; the more we know about domestic violence the more powerful we are to prevent and treat it. 

The following list is taken from the “Abusive Behavior Checklist” created by Central DuPage Hospital

Emotional Abuse 

  • Frequently blames or criticizes you
  • Calls you names
  • Ridicules your beliefs, religion, race class or sexual preference
  • Blames you for “causing” the abuse
  • Ridicules/makes bad remarks about your gender
  • Criticizes or threatens to hurt your family or friends
  • Isolates you from your family and friends
  • Abuses animals
  • Tries to keep you from doing something you wanted to do
  • Is angry if you pay too much attention to someone or something else (children, friends, school, etc.)
  • Withholds approval, appreciation or affection
  • Humiliates you
  • Becomes angry if meals or housework are not done to his/her liking
  • Makes contradictory demands
  • Does not include you in important decisions
  • Does not allow you to sleep
  • Repeatedly harasses you about things you did in the past
  • Takes away car keys, money or credit cards
  • Threatens to leave or told you to leave.
  • Checks up on you (listens to your phone calls, looks at phone bills, checks the mileage on the car, etc.)
  • Tells people you suffer from a mental illness
  • Threatens to commit suicide
  • Interferes with your work or school (provokes a fight in the morning, calls to harass you at work, etc.)
  • Minimizes or denies being abusive
  • Abuses your children
  • Breaks dates and cancels plans without reason
  • Uses drugs or alcohol to excuse their behavior
  • Uses phrases like “I’ll show you who is boss,” or “I’ll put you in line”
  • Uses loud or intimidating tone of voice
  • Comes home at late hours refusing an explanation

Financial Abuse

  • Makes all the decisions about money
  • Takes care of all financial matters without your input
  • Criticizes the way or amounts of money you spend
  • Places you on a budget that is unrealistic
  • Prohibits your access to bank accounts and credit cards
  • Refuses to put your name on joint assets
  • Controls your paycheck
  • Refuses you access to money
  • Refuses to let you work
  • Refuses to get a job
  • Refuses to pay bills
  • Causes you to lose your job

Sexual Abuse

  • Pressures you to have sex
  • Pressures you to perform sexual acts that make you uncomfortable or hurt you
  • Directs physical injury toward sexual areas of your body
  • Puts you at risk for unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Withholds sex or affection
  • Calls you sexual names (“whore”, “bitch”, etc.)
  • Tells anti-woman jokes or demeans women verbally/attacks your femininity or masculinity
  • Accuses you of having or wanting sex with others
  • Forces you to have sex with others
  • Threatens to disclose your relationship when you did not want it known
  • Forces you to view pornography
  • Pressures you to dress in a certain way
  • Disregards your sexual needs and feelings about sex
  • Accuses you of being gay if you refused sex (for heterosexual relationships)
  • Spreads rumors about your sexual behaviors
  • Forces you or refuses to let you use birth control
  • Makes unwanted public sexual advances
  • Makes remarks about your sexual abilities in private or in front of others
  • Rapes and sexually assaults you

Using Children

  • Makes you feel guilty about your children
  • Uses children to relay negative messages
  • Uses children to report on your activities
  • Uses visitation to harass you
  • Threatens to take custody of your children
  • Threatens to kidnap your children

Physical Abuse

  • Pushes, grabs or shoves you
  • Slaps you
  • Punches you
  • Kicks you
  • Chokes you
  • Pinches you
  • Pulls your hair
  • Burns you
  • Bites you
  • Ties you up
  • Forces you to share needles with others
  • Threatens you with a knife, gun or other weapon
  • Uses a knife, gun or other weapon
  • Prevents you from leaving an area/physically restrains you
  • Throws objects
  • Destroys property or your possessions
  • Drives recklessly to frighten you
  • Disregards your needs when you are ill, injured or pregnant
  • Abuses you while you are pregnant
  • Forces you to abort or carry a pregnancy

Issues for Immigrants

  • Lies about your immigration status
  • Tells you that they have the ability to have your immigration status changed
  • Threatens to withdraw/not file the petition to legalize your immigration status
  • Tells you that the U.S. will award the children to them
  • Tells you that you have abandoned your culture and become “white” or “American”
  • Stops subscriptions or destroys newspapers and magazines in your language
  • Tells you that U.S. law allows abuse as long as it is in private
  • Threatens to report you to INS if you work without a permit
  • Takes money you send to your family
  • Forces you to sign papers written in a language you do not understand
  • Forbids you to learn English or communicate in your native language
  • Harasses you at the only job you can work at legally in the U.S. so that you will be forced to work illegally
  • Calls you a “mail order bride”
  • Alleges you had a history of prostitution on legal papers
  • Tells you that U.S. law requires you to have sex whenever he/she wants it

Domestic Violence Story Project: Janette

Hello, thank you for joining me for the Domestic Violence Story Project again. Last weeks story started us off in Asia, where we got to hear firsthand what it’s like to live in a violent marriage. This week’s story comes to us from another brave woman, only all the way on the other side of the globe in Great Britain. It’s amazing to me that despite being on opposite sides of the planet, they have suffered in such similar ways…it just illustrates what an epidemic violence against women truly is. Although their experiences were similar in some ways, they were much different in others. Janette interacted with government authorities a great deal in her case, though they sometimes did more harm than good. As you will see, it has been a long and complicated road for her and her children.

Note: Some of the terms used in this story are of course, British, and may be a bit confusing. I’ve tried to remedy this wherever possible while still leaving the author’s voice intact. 

 

How to tell my story? How to explain the way I lived? How to learn to feel again instead of that empty resignation that I felt each day as I awoke?

I should have recognized the signs but I did not know the signs, I did not know about the cycle of abuse, I did not know about control and I certainly did not know about domestic violence!

I first heard this phrase after eighteen years of abuse- of violence, of manipulation and of control which manifested itself in pushing, grabbing, hitting me and breaking furniture during violent temper rages – it manifested itself in demanding sex and if I refused I was kept awake all night by his ranting and threats. It manifested itself in abusive language designed to make me feel belittled and full if low self-esteem . Eighteen years when my children would hear his rages and cower scared in bed

“A terrorist”- That phrase was coined by a lady who attempted to help him recognize his abuse – he was a perpetrator!

I reach a turning point seven years ago – I had had enough and one night – as he threatened me with the brass fire fender – I felt no more and listened to him smash furniture – I asked him to leave.

He did.

But he didn’t believe me and only when he was told he was a perpetrator of domestic violence did he put up a face of contrition.

I made a mistake – a huge mistake.

I accepted that he attend Pendle domestic violence initiative – hindsight is wonderful – but that was a mistake and I should have had him arrested.

Why?

Well now began his campaign to teach me who was boss – to teach me and punish me for what I had put him through.

In the words of my solicitor – you will never be free of him until he thinks he has broken you.

Never be broken.

He pretended he wanted to come home – he was a changed man – I nearly fell for it but intuition stopped me.

Unbeknown to me he was calling my daughter to try to turn her against me – he failed but my son being younger was another matter and he took my son – the worst day of my life.

My son had been spoken to by the Pendle domestic violence initiative and they – a government funded body- decided that a fifteen-year-old boy could live with a perpetrator, a man who had been interviewed by the CID on suspicion of abusing his step daughter – madness but it happened.

So be careful of these agencies, please think carefully!

My son was useful as a tool to get money from me – he had already set in motion a request to the CSA before removing my son. The CSA did their job – I had to pay for seeing my son, I had to pay for the heartache of not having my son with me – I did not see him at all because of his father and so I paid.

It is not just men but women too who are in this position and all told I paid 17,000 pounds to the CSA over 5 years

As for the perpetrator – he tried to get me fired from my job as a teacher and even wrote to the GTC to stop me ever teaching again! He failed, but imagine how it felt to have your career destroyed in this way.

Get a non-molestation order – I had to – do it to protect yourselves.

My mother died – bless her – and 2 days after her passing the perp asked for her will! Had I got a bequest? He wanted his share and my father was distraught – he got nothing but he put us through pain and upset that it cannot be forgotten.

Through all this and more I had a domestic violence officer, a specialist solicitor, supportive friends who refused to be swayed by his words and a rapid response on my house.

Be aware though that seemingly innocent government agencies can be manipulated legally to support these perpetrators.

The CSA will reinforce the collecting of monies it is not concerned with family matters.

The police are fantastic with violence issues but not manipulation and control.

A perpetrator programme – in my opinion and experience – simply empowers the perpetrator with more knowledge.

Often these agencies act innocently without realizing their part – that is no excuse.

I have now made tentative steps towards rebuilding contact with my son and my daughter lives with me.

And as for the perpetrator? Well, he has another victim.

Janette Webster