The News Cycle Bites

soapboxpile“A bad year and a bad month to all the backbiting bitches in the world!…” 
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote

Disclaimer

The first man to call me wife also called me whore and property. I have written about my nearly three years under his roof and his fists, here and elsewhere. I have exposed small parts of my life as a runaway at 15, a claimed woman child with no safe haven until he stretched out his hand and lifted me up. No, he wasn’t a ‘true’ husband, but by Texas law, he could claim the title and I did not know better. I was young, uneducated and afraid. I was afraid of him, I was more afraid of the streets.

I will not catalog every abuse, suffice to say in my nearly three years with him he broke several bones, he beat me so badly I lost my uterus and one ovary, he broke my nose more than once. Other parts of my body, suffered long-term damage and I carry many scars where I had to be stitched up after one of his beatings. This doesn’t even come close to cataloguing the emotional damaging those three years did to me. I never fought back after the first time.

People often ask why we stay, why an abused partner stays. There are many reasons, sometimes fear is the overriding reason. He told me if I tried to leave he would find me and kill me, I believed him. I was also afraid of the streets I had already been on, something I had already lived through and understood. I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to for help. In the early 1970’s there was no domestic violence laws, no shelters to protect us. In fact, domestic violence was ignored entirely unless someone died.


 

Domestic violence took over the news cycles the past couple of days; we have been subject to the left hook of Ray Rice in the elevator. Everyone has an opinion and for the most part that opinion is there is no pit in hell deep enough or hot enough for Ray Rice. Furthermore, the NFL and the DA didn’t do enough to punish him for that left hook and what followed. Dragging his fiancé out of the elevator, leaving her lying on the ground, legs and arms akimbo and name-calling, AP presumably has a video with audio in which the casino offers to cover up for him.

Here is the problem in this entire scenario, Janay Palmer Rice slapped Ray Rice first, she spit on him first in the elevator  and appears to have been the aggressor before the infamous left hook. None of us knows what came before the three minutes we have been made privy too, we don’t know what else their lives look like. We don’t know who they are, separately or together. We only know the Left Hook and being the good little drones we all are, we have drawn our conclusions and we have publicly pilloried Ray Rice, without ever once questioning her actions that came before.

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Could he have handled it better? Restrained her instead of punching her, maybe he could have. Likely, this would have been a better choice. However, this says people don’t have a right to defend themselves from an assault if they are men and it is a woman assaulting them. It says as a woman, short of wielding a knife and threatening a man’s life, I can do just about any damned thing I like and get away with it, that no man has a right to hit me, not even in self-defense.

I call bullshit. Yes, me a survivor of horrific domestic violence where I never once defended myself, where I never once raised my hand or my voice, I call bullshit.

There are far worse in the NFL then Ray Rice, if the NFL wants to make examples start with those who have killed, used drugs, been arrested for DWI, or hand all the abusers the same outcome as Ray Rice, it is simple to find this information, go here.

In the meantime, I have another issue with this entire news cycle. It is the diversion, the look over there style of reporting. The amazingly simplemindedness of it all has me dumbfounded. While the entire nation focuses on the left hook of Ray Rice, we forget the national tragedy of a militarized police force in every town, big or small across the land. We forget the unarmed men and women, mostly of color, mostly Black bleeding out on our streets.

We forget Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, Marlene Pinnock and these are just the names of those beaten or murdered by cops between July and August of this year.

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At no time did these names, did these murders, did this tragedy elicit the call to action by so many from every side of the aisle, as the left hook of Ray Rice. The murderous acts of cops do not so much as cause our elected representatives to blink. Riot gear, tear gas and wooden bullets turned on peaceful demonstrators doesn’t elicit even 5 minutes of; ‘calm your asses down out there’ from the administration. But the Left Hook of Ray Rice has Congress demanding action from the NFL and the President of the United States issue statements.

I will say it one last time; I am a survivor of domestic violence. At no time did I defend myself; I knew if I did, it would be worse. I was fifteen when it started. I was eighteen when I ran. There are many reasons why a person stays, sometimes it is fear, other times it is love; sometimes it is because we are so broken we think we deserve the abuse. No one can judge. We do not have the right to judge Ray or Janay, not now and not then. What we do have the right to do is step off and start looking at this situation with more clarity.

Men should not hit women; in most cases, they are larger and stronger. However, women shouldn’t hit men, shouldn’t attack, shouldn’t place themselves in the position where a man must defend himself and thus will likely hurt her in the process. I am sorry but self-defense is not abuse. It is a fine line, I understand this however, women are as responsible for staying on the other side of that line as men are. Some of the things I have heard over the past couple of days are idiotic, things that would seem to mean that we expect men to be saints, at all time. Things that would seem to mean a man has no right ever to defend himself under any circumstance, this is simply wrong and wrong-headed.

Some things that are important to know with regard to Domestic Violence, men make up approximately 40% of domestic violence victims.

Over a year ago we fought to refund VAWA, the battle was hard fought and there were some significant concessions that had to be made. Some of the issues the GOP hated? The expansions of services to poorly served populations including Native women on reservations and the LGBT community.

In the meantime, cops are beating and murdering in the streets and the outcry isn’t near what it is for the Left Hook of Ray Rice.

What is wrong with the morality and values of this nation? Don’t you think it is time to start asking this question?

Another take on it: http://theobamacrat.com/2014/09/09/raymell-mourice-ray-rice-abuser-victim-or-both/

I leave you with this.

Some Good Things

I want to do a bit of a feel good today, there are things I care deeply about and things others care deeply about and thus are giving of their time and energy to raise awareness and money for. Today I want to highlight a couple of them in the hope you will endorse them and if you are able, give.

My friend Kim Sisto-Robinson of My Inner Chick helps to organize every year a walk to fight domestic abuse in honor of her murdered sister Kay. Last year Red and I were there, despite the tsunami of my personal  life I am hoping to be there again this year. It is an important event, it is a meaningful action and despite last year being cold and wet, it left me feeling as if I took a stand and did something good, no matter how small.

Why is this important to me? As a Domestic Abuse survivor I know how hard it is to get out, how hard it is to find yourself and run. I also know if you don’t how if you don’t you can die and those who are left behind will never be the same, Kim’s writing is a testimony to the great love and great loss of her beautiful sister. Here are some of the pictures from last year, I hope I can add to this:

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Want to come walk the beautiful path in honor of Kay and all victims of domestic violence:  http://www.theduluthmodel.org/events.html

Want to learn more about DAIP or donate even if you can’t walk this year: http://www.theduluthmodel.org/about/index.html

If you are in a violent situation, please get help: http://www.thehotline.org/help/path-to-safety/


 

BeautifulNext up is my lovely niece who has decided to go to Jail for a cause, better this than the alternative! Angela has always been one of my favorites, wild child, adventurer, audacious and loving with a smile that brightens rooms and a laugh that is absolutely infectious. I have always secretly marveled at her daring and her ability to make the absolutely best lemonade out of lemons.

This isn’t the first time Angela has stepped outside of herself to do something for others, it is though the first time I can use my platform to help her. So if you have a few spare dollars, kick them her way for a good cause, here is what the Muscular Dystrophy Association does with your donations.

  • $1,480 Funds 20 minutes of research
  • $800 sends one child to MDA Summer Camp
  • $100 pays for a support group session
  • $74 funds one minute of research
  • $30 funds one Flu Shot

Help a girl out and help raise bail for my intrepid niece and MDA: Angela’s Bail Page

Remembering Chris Keith, aka “The Adventures of a Thrifty Mama”

Another woman, a mother and her son touched by violence who ultimately lost their lives, leaving three other children behind. This is the face of domestic abuse. Please read and if you can help, please do so.

Poor as Folk

I “met” Chris through my Facebook page for my personal blog crazy dumbsaint of the mind and I in turn become a fan of her blog Adventures of a Thrifty Mama in the City ‘Stead, and then later we got to know each other outside of blogging. For those  who don’t know how online friendships work, they might be confused when I call Chris my friend. Online friendships are funny things and sometimes it happens that the people you trust online with your experiences  and thoughts are these people you’ve never even had so much as a cup of coffee with.

Chris & I had a lot in common. We were both struggling to feed our families real food on a food stamp budget and defied being stereotyped as “welfare mom living off the system”. We both were striving  to create a sustainable  and secure food sovereignty for ourselves…

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Primal Whisper-VAWA

I apologize for the length of this post. I hope you will read and consider passing it on. This is a personal story of Domestic Abuse. This is a personal appeal to anyone who reads this story to get active and demand justice for all members of society who are victims of Domestic Abuse. Demand Congress pass VAWA without changes to the current incarnation. Thanks

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1971, one year before it all began

1971, one year before it all began

In 1972, I was 15; I was first a ward of the state then a runaway, a street child then finally a ‘wife’. In 1972, I was the victim of domestic abuse that would continue for three years. Abuse both physical and emotional, that would strip me of my pride and humanity that would leave scars I bear on my body and soul and that would very nearly kill me.

In 1972, there were no laws to prevent a man from beating his wife. There were no Domestic Abuse Hotlines. There were no Safe Houses. There were no cool down periods, unless some cop took pity on you.

In 1972, the best you could hope for is either he would die of a heart attack while beating you or he would give you quick death. No one was going to help you and you had no rights, you were chattel.

I have written about this before, touched upon some of my experiences as a victim of domestic abuse in previous postings, here:

https://valentinelogar.com/2012/06/03/never-again-i-will-hate-you/

https://valentinelogar.com/2012/05/03/inside-domestic-abuse/

I have tried hard to stand up and say I am not a victim; I am a survivor of Domestic Abuse. The truth of the matter, for each of us who survived violence the truth is different. When our partner, our love, our spouse was throwing us against a wall, laying unloving hands upon us, kicking us when we were down painting our days and nights in pain and fear we were indeed Victims.

  • We were victims of the person who said they loved us.
  • We were victims of our destroyed ego, our fear and our great need to make it right.
  • We were victims of a society that did not see us in our desperate need.
  • We were victims of religious institutions that told us we must return to spouses who were nightmares.
  •  We were victims of financial systems that did not allow access credit and sometimes even banking in our own names.
  •  We were victims of law enforcement who were trained to walk away from ‘domestic’ situations.
 cuttingedgenews

Perhaps, if we are standing today and we are standing without that partner we are free, but I still remember. In my very bones, I still remember. It isn’t so much I remember his brutality, though it is hard to forget; I remember the police who walked away as I swayed in the middle of the living room barely able to stand upright. I remember them looking at me knowingly, staring at the bruises, the blackened eyes, the fat and bloody lip or the bald patch in my head. I remember them telling us to keep it down or telling him, ‘I had enough’.

I Had Enough. Were they judging the beating had gone on long enough? Were they judging the amount of blood or the number of visible bruises? I have always wondered about this, always wondered what code they were speaking, sometimes they laughed with him as he agreed to ‘keep it down’. These visits by the police, these drive-by stop in and calm down visits always earned me at least one more closed fist from him as he walked by, ‘See what you did? Why can’t you be quiet?’

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There was only one time, my husband this man who was supposed to love me went to jail. He didn’t stay long. It didn’t matter. For once my survival instinct kicked in and I used everything I had simply to grab that life preserver when it was thrown.

A little background –

  1. Texas in 1972 was still very backward about a great many things, marriage being one of them race relations being the other.
  2. My ‘marriage’ was common law, I wouldn’t find out for several years he didn’t have a legal hold on me though I still refer to him as my first ‘husband’.

The last terrible beating and the night my husband went to jail, it wouldn’t be the last beating just the last terrible one.

He had lost badly at a poker game that night, he did this often especially close to the time rent was due. For whatever reason, somehow, his losses were always my fault; I was always the target of his rage. It was the spring of 1974, I had learned by now never show emotion, never speak my mind and never react. It didn’t help; nothing could stop his need to lash out. That night was no different as he stumbled into the bedroom stinking of smoke and whiskey I could taste the beating to come, my body relaxed to absorb his fists.

‘Wake up you stupid bitch!’

Slam, into the wall. My head bounced twice, at least and my body slid down to the floor. He had picked me up from the bed and thrown me across the room, already first blood had been shed. I curled into myself, hoping this would satisfy him, the blood patch on the wall sometimes it was enough.

‘Dumb cunt, look what you did to the wall!’

Thwack, thwack again. His shoe caught me squarely in my ribs as I curled into myself. No more I thought. But, there was more to come. Already I was crying, tears and snot joining on my face as I tried to stand.

There were no more words now, just fists and feet. Furious, he beat me to the ground time and again and when I lay there as he panted above me, he would kick me demanding I stand up. Finally, when I thought, ‘No more, enough’, I did stand and I tried to run.

Running was the worst mistake I could have made, it triggered his predator instinct, he chased me out the door and into the front of yard. Before he caught me, he had grabbed a bat, one of those hollow aluminum ones. He  continued to beat me when I was down on the ground. Finally, after what seemed an eternity the police arrived, someone must have called them. I was on the ground, unrecognizable and he was standing above me panting. I still remember the conversation:

‘Sir, sir what are you doing? You have to stop!’

‘I have stopped; this is my wife I can do anything I want.’

‘Miss, is this your husband?’

‘No, I have never seen him before.’

As the handcuffs clicked closed, ‘You are under arrest…….’

‘Bitch, I am going to kill you!’

‘Sir, I suggest you calm down and be quiet.’

When the ambulance arrived, I was taken to the hospital. I had multiple broken bones including;

  • Broken jaw
  • Broken nose (third time)
  • Cracked cheek bone
  • Hairline fracture, skull
  • Four broken fingers
  • Seven broken ribs
  • Hairline fracture, pelvis
  • Internal bleeding
  • Plethora of contusions

He stayed in jail for 7 days until his Daddy sorted things out. I stayed in the hospital for 9 days.

Yes, I went back. For a time I went back. The psyche of women in these relationships is strange; we think if we only could fix ourselves, if we only did better they (the ones who so terribly harm us) would stop. It isn’t of course true but we have been so badly damaged we believe it. We don’t love ourselves. In not loving ourselves, we also lose the flight or fight reaction.

In 1972, there was nothing to save me. Police, had no resources and DA offices had no laws under which to prosecute unless we were fortunate enough to be killed. If we ran, if by some off chance our flight instinct kicked in the courts were against us, we ran with nothing, no resources and no access to resources.

oneinfourwomen

The Violence Against Women Act changed that. It has been over 700 days since this act expired. Women, men and children are at risk. The reasons for the Congressional GOP members to stand against this act are frankly their own ideological ignorance. This act has Bipartisan support and always has, this is the first time since 1994 this act has not been reauthorized; all because it expands services to under-served communities.

What you and I can do:

Contact your representatives in Congress and demand they pass the Violence Against Women Act as it stands today with expanded services: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Other sources:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa_factsheet.pdf

http://denisedv.org/what-is-the-violence-against-women-act-and-why-is-congress-playing-politics/

Inside Domestic Abuse

The 112th Congress has refused to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, significant in the original passage it opened the door to what had previously been viewed as private family matters and provided both education and funding to help victims and law enforcement. Never, since its original passage has it been the subject of a partisan fight on the floor of either house of Congress, yet this year it is. The overall tone of the Right, women are of no particular value unless they are in the kitchen, pregnant and silent. The objection to the Bill, is the expansion of services, the boogie man of ‘other’; Gay, Transgender, Native Tribes and Immigrant Women are included in this years re-authorization, we all know none of us are part of humanity and should be served, right?

I wrote this several years ago. At the time, it was wrenching to write. Today it remains wrenching for me to read. To answer the question, I know first hand what it is to be a survivor of Domestic Abuse. I also know how very important this Bill is to all those Women and Men who are now and will be in the future Victims. I ran from an extremely volatile, horribly violent relationship after having been hospitalized multiple times with multiple broken bones, I knew I would not see my eighteenth birthday if I stayed. I had nowhere to go, no money and no support structure; still I ran as far and as fast as I could go.

I survived.

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Why we stay, pitiful in our bruised bodies and our excuses, our fear palatable yet even before we are healed we return to the hell that is home. Why do we stay? The question is asked repeatedly, often with a tone of derision. Our answer, sometimes that we love him, sometimes worse that he doesn’t mean to hurt us he loves us. The truth though is harder for us to admit to you when you ask and ourselves; this is all we deserve and we have nowhere else to go.

How did we get here?

Is it because we seek what we believe that we deserve? Do we have a neon sign swinging over our head that says “I am here and vulnerable”; I will take it, whatever you dish out. I will take it and even be grateful to you for staying one more day, one more month, one more year.

Have we been so convinced by our mothers, our fathers, or society that we must conform, not speak out; not fight back that we will take the slaps, the closed fists, the kicks and on our knees begging for it to end still be thinking that he loves us and if only we do better it will not happen again?

Why is it that we stay? 

Why do we make excuses, transparent excuses for the broken teeth, the black eyes, the bruised arms? Why do others believe our excuses? Do they really think that we are so incapable of walking from our beds to our baths that we run into doors once a month or once a week? Is it easier to believe that we are so clumsy that we cannot walk up or down a flight of stairs? Do those who claim to care for us find it easier to ignore the truth than acknowledge that we are in danger?

Why is it that we allow ourselves to be so brutalized? What happens to us that our flight or fight instinct is entirely broken? We find no comfort, realizing even those to whom we reach out for help find us incomprehensible in our pain. Even if we finally find it in our spirits to run, to escape we are broken by the prison of our shame. Our defeat is what we carry with us; our inability to explain our willingness to take what our abuser gave; his love in closed fists, slaps, kicks, hate filled words that tore down the walls of our humanity and convinced us that we had no value in our homes or in the world.

Run, with Nothing but You

The telephone, our greatest enemy each time it rings we jump through our skin; we know it might be him. We know we are still weak and frail; that we have no defenses against his apologies and his protestations of his own weakness. Even through our nightmares; those screaming, cold sweat nightmares; we know that if we hear his sugar coated voice telling us that it will never happen again; we might believe him because we need. Who else will love us now? He has destroyed all that was ever lovable in us. We know that in our heart and soul; in whatever humanity we have left we know that we might listen and might return. It will be good for a while; as good as it was in the beginning. Then it will start again, we know that too; even knowing these absolute truths; we are weak and fearful and lonely.

Our frailty during our initial freedom, so tenuous, unreal to us because there is no one to confirm our existence and we don’t know where to begin. The slightest sound behind us is no longer the precursor to pain. The footsteps on the stairs, not a reason to fear but maybe a friend come to call instead. Bumps in the night no longer herald a rape by the person who promised to love and care for us. Still all those sounds send us into a paroxysm of fear, self-doubt and finally anger that our lives will never be without our abuser because he is inside of us; he has replaced everything  that was good with his vileness. We may have escaped him physically but we will never escape him fully, we think this now and in our hearts know this as a truth. We have lost ourselves to his definition of us, weak and of no value.

Nightmares

Our minds work in miraculous ways. If we can stay gone long enough we begin to heal and rebuild. We can begin to take the abuse he called love and place it in appropriate boxes sealing them tightly and marking them as our hated history. When the boxes are full of our past we can stack them in a room within our mind padlock the door; knowing that some day we might return to examine them to try to understand what led us there; but not today. Today just stack the boxes tightly, shut the door and turn the key. Face each day knowing that the door exists and all the boxes exist waiting for us to be strong and come back to learn; but not today. That we might revisit them in our nightmares and run screaming down the corridors of our sleeping mind; waking in cold sweats and shaking in fear; this we can escape. This will happen for some of us it will happen forever, when we least expect it sometimes at the end of what we thought was a great day. In our nightmares the maniacal horrors of our past will sneak through the cracks of that door we locked to terrorize us; to remind us of what was or what might have been.

Future Glory

Our history does not have to hold us hostage; we can shape our future we can redefine ourselves. We were somebody before they arrived to tear us down. Somewhere else in our mind we have a room with a locked door that contains the “us” before them, before the abuse. We have the key to that door also, even if it is lost in the trash that our abuser has piled on us. We have the ability to unlock that door and find the “me” that was before them. Perhaps we will find there were reasons we let them in, the neon sign that was lifted above our heads inviting them in; we can fix this. Possibly we will only find ourselves in the here and now that we are stronger now, more able to face today because of our past. Perhaps we will only find only that we can let go, say no more and look forward without fear.

Whatever we find we will ultimately know that we are precious, worth more than the blows, the slaps, the kicks, the venom that dripped from the lips of our abuser. We will know no amount of pain masked as love is the truth and abuse is not the reality that we deserve in our lives. We will roar our anger and our frustration at the waste of our days in agony rather than joy. We will cry out our pain. We will whisper our validations of self and finally scream our truths in the wind if no one else will hear us.

We will most certainly stand free of what was told to us as the truth knowing finally it was a lie.   

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