The Mirror

There are times in all our lives each of us wonder, what does the world see when they see me. When I look in the mirror, I see all of my flaws, real and perceived I count them off one by one. Staring in the eyes of my harshest critic, I see each year stamped across my face telling a story I might rather forget, or wish was never written at all. So I stare, I run fingers through hair sprinkled with silver, I count the furrows across my brow, the lines surrounding my mouth and eyes; then I wonder where the time escaped to and what others see.

Does the world see my flaws in the same way I see them? Can a stranger read my pain, my triumphs, my  history as if it was a roadmap written on my face, across my skin and over the angles, plains and curves of my body, or do they only see slight imperfections where I see something altogether different, something damaged, unworthy of a second glance, unlovable in the harsh light of day.

Cool wind dances across heated skin

Leaving memory of other breath

Fingers trace the water’s edge

Sending ripples across a reflection

Unrecognized in the moonlit glow

Coalesced I come together, softer

In the silence memories pull nearer

The ethereal me beckons, closer

Remember, beauty under stars

Shredded without thought, nor care

For youth, innocence or hope

Lost in a scream for mercy

Tracing the water’s edge once more

Reflection lost to harder currents

Merged again, harder and more true

In the moonlit garden of memory

Does the world see my flaws? Does the world see the scars of my history? I don’t know, some of them are obvious, they are badges of honor I can’t help but wear them on my skin every single OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAblessed day of my life. I wish this were not the case, but it is the skin I live in the only skin I have so it is the skin I will have to walk this world in and the skin I will leave this world in. My problem? Truly, my problem is so many people over the years have left their calling card, announced their presence and left me something to remember them by; I can’t seem to step away far enough to start over again without carrying them along with me.

So, when I look in the mirror, I see my history. Some days I see myself victorious, but other days I see myself vulnerable and hurt, stupid for all the times I have laid myself open. When I look in the mirror, what I see is someone unloved and unlovable, someone who is not worthy of honest straightforward love, who must pay for any affection with something, either straightforward with my money or something else of value, including pain, because this is how it has always been.

Every single day I work toward changing my vision and work toward demanding more. But some days like today, this is what I feel.

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

What I Learned

Well it is time to finish up with the Minnesota trip, it was fabulous; great fun, great people and really two truly wonderful causes to support and talk about. I don’t want to end this on a sad or terrible note; however, I think it is important to remind everyone why we went to Minnesota, why we walked in the cold and the rain.

Kay Marie Sisto

Kay Marie Sisto

We walked in memory of Kay, one victim of domestic violence who lost her life. Please visit her sister Kim at My Inner Chick to learn more.

Some terrible facts about domestic violence, why this is important to support solutions and an end:

  • One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew.
  • Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
  • Nearly one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.
  • Nearly 7.8 million women have been raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Sexual assault or forced sex occurs in approximately 40-45% of all battering relationships.
  • 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men have been stalked in their lifetime.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police. 1

These are just some of the cold facts of domestic violence, for more read the domestic violence fact sheet. If you are a victim of domestic violence, please seek help there are resources available. If you know someone who is at risk, please reach out to them, assistance is available.

We learned the power of life through organ donation over this weekend also. We met Ed Dean, who received Kay’s lungs, saving his life. He drove twelve hours with his family to meet Kay’s family, walk in memorial, pray at her grave in thanks. It was a powerful testimony. If you aren’t an organ donor, please consider it there is so much need.

Mr. Ed Dean praying at Kay's Grave

Mr. Ed Dean praying at Kay’s Grave

What else did we learn and see?

Here are the last of the pictures from our four-day extravaganza in the great state of Minnesota.

We learned people still live in little red and white trailers. Even in the cold, the young man we suspect lived in this one was under the shelter with his computer, guess he didn’t get good reception inside. Isn’t this adorable?

Not a little red corvette

Not a little red corvette

We learned shopkeepers in Duluth are funny, just go ahead and shoplift in this store why don’t you? Prosecute and advertise!

Bad Criminals!

Bad Criminals!

We learned Red likes Moose chairs, isn’t she adorable? Please pay a visit the esteemed Red and her blog about the trip here.

A Throne for Red

A Throne for Red

We learned even wet and cold we can still smile!

To the end, dammit

To the end, dammit

We learned dinner with friends, both old and new makes things nearly perfect.

Friends, new and old

Friends, new and old

Thank you Kim, for the opportunity to participate and contribute; you welcomed us with open arms and made us feel part of a wonderful group of family and friends. Your warmth and hospitality made the trip so much grander than it already was just because we were supporting a cause close to both our hearts.

What I learned? Sometimes it is better to get outside of myself, outside of my comfort zone, let my walls down and reach out beyond the security of my electronic home (blog, internet) to the real people who make up my world. They are worth it, they are fabulous.

1 http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

http://www.nnedv.org/resources/stats.html

http://donatelife.net/understanding-donation/statistics/

http://www.ncadv.org/

Walking in the Rain

According to my sister in spirit, Red of the M3 fame, we might have discovered the secret of eternal youth. Yes, it is true good works and a good drenching seems to be the two key ingredients necessary! Of course, perhaps it was the cold the really truly unbelievable nearly 40 degree below my norm cold that added to my youthful enthusiasm to walk 5K for a good cause.

This weekend Red and I made our way from our respective Southern climes (think warm) to the great northlands of Minnesota, Duluth to be precise. What the hell? You would be right to ask, good question. It was all for a good cause. Duluth has certainly failed to make the transition to summer I will tell you, however even had it been colder than it was at 47⁰ I would have still bundled my happy ass up and shown up.

I met Kim Robinson of My Inner Chick via blogging; she is a spectacular woman with a loud and wonderful voice. On May 26, 2010 her sister Kay was murdered by her then estranged husband, since that time Kim has been an postcard picture2activist voice against Domestic Violence in Duluth. Every year to raise money and awareness the Kay Marie Sisto Memorial Walk / Run / Roll to End Domestic Violence is held. This year we showed up and the man who received Kay’s lungs, with his family did as well. I suspect for Kim and her family this was far more meaningful, Mr. Dean lives on, reached out to Kim and the rest of the family to say thank you for his life and now is walking to honor Kay (you can see some of the interviews in the links below).

The walk was held on June 1, 2013, the first day of summer. The temperature in Dallas that day was 89⁰, my kind of day. On the other hand, the temperature in Duluth did not rise above 51⁰; you would have a hard time convincing me it got that warm. We arrived, without much difficulty at the park and collected our wonderful goody bags, hugged Kim and prepared for our walk. I had my camera with me knowing I would be walking slowly, might as well take advantage of the nature trail. Kim told us last year it was raining, with a glance at the sky and the hanging cloud cover I thought, “hmmm, wonder if it won’t start again this year.” I kept this thought to myself, no need to curse the walk and walkers before we get started.

Runners up first, after speeches and the bell ringing off they go. Next up are the walkers, we were the last to leave; no sense holding people up with our slow selves. The trail was a real nature trail, beautiful but uneven and for me a bit of a challenge. Never mind, it was a good walk for a great cause, I continued to say this to myself with each uneven step. We made it to the comfort station and they had Reese’s Peanut butter Cups! This was the halfway point, I was I admit proud of myself. We took a quick comfort break then continued on.

What do you think was next on our walk? Nearly to the end, we could see it truly, people were turning the corner at this point. Oh yeah, the dreaded first drops of rain. I wasn’t wrong those clouds had been full of rain and were just waiting for us to be all the way at the end before opening up. The return walk was miserably cold and wet, uneven footing, drenching cold rain and just a bit of a wind to insure that cold went through to your skin and bones.

Never mind, it was for a good cause! I am so glad I did this. Below are some of the pictures I took during the Duluth trip hope you enjoy!

Bridge view from hotel morning of walk.

Bridge view from hotel morning of walk.

Sunk in bay, note the fog

Sunk in bay, note the fog

Mr. Dean, having rung the bell for Kay

Mr. Dean, having rung the bell for Kay

Anyone guess how hard this was for me?

Anyone guess how hard this was for me?

Red before the rain

Red before the rain

A burst of Spring

A burst of Spring

View of the River

View of the River

My reward from Kim

My reward from Kim

The fabulous Kim of My Inner Chick fame

The fabulous Kim of My Inner Chick fame

I will post a couple of more on this trip, there is more to tell. It was a great trip.

http://www.northlandsnewscenter.com/news/local/Michigan-Man-Walks-in-Honor-of-Woman-who-Saved-h-209798561.html

http://fox21online.com/news/video/kay-sistos-memory-lives-many-ways

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/52070890#.UatCqUC-2uI

http://www.northlandrunner.com/run?page=Race&raceId=285

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/198945/group/scrapbook/

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

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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?’

domestic_violence-285x300

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/

Where have all the Flowers Gone, Boomers and Feminism

When I was born in 1957, society was on the cusp of change, women, particularly in the West, were beginning to shake off traditional roles and demand their place in the offices and the boardroom. I was born in the last cohortwikipedia.com of the Boomers, the generation of rebels and idealists. Mine was the generation swept up in the second wave Suffrage, rebranded Feminism and ignited by the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Mine was the generation who wanted more than marriage and a house in the suburbs, who are now struggling at the end of our careers and wondering just what in the hell happened.

My generations coming of age began in 1967, better known as the Summer of Love, it ended with the start of the Reagan years in 1981. During the intervening years we saw many changes in our thinking, our social views and even across the approximately 69,000,000 members of the Boomer Generation still alive, there is a greater divide than in other generational cohorts. Perhaps this is why we struggle so with the loss of all we gained during the great uprising of our youth, the time when we were still fresh, rebellious and idealistic.

It was during this time we pushed for freedom to choose a career and delay marriage and motherhood; we thought we won. We won the right to access contraceptives whether we were married or not (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). Through the generosity of a single woman, Katherine Dexter McCormick hormonal birth control was developed by Gregory G. Pincus and finally brought to market as an oral contraceptive in 1960. We saw our right to health privacy and body integrity affirmed (Roe v. Wade, 1973). In 1972, we saw the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), sponsored by Martha Griffiths (D-Michigan) in the House and Sam Irvin (D-N.Carolina) in the Senate, pass with bi-partisan support.

What you might not know about the ERA:Wikipedia.com

Finally, in 1994, then Senator Joe Biden a legislator of our generation drafted and passed with broad support the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA HR3402, 1994, 2000 and 2005) which until this year has been reauthorized with little opposition. The 112th Congress is still battling to reauthorize VAWA this time, thus far the Senate passed the reauthorization with new provisions reflective of our times while the House in a very partisan vote said ‘Nay’ and is busily rewriting for the third time their offering with reduced funding and of course changed provisions.

Some things you might not know about women both locally and globally:

  • Women perform 2/3 of the world’s labor, this includes both paid and unpaid
  • Women make up 51% of world’s population and 50.9% of the US population
  • Women with children make up 13.1% of our entire national community, or 8.3 million women. Women globally head 83% of households.
  • Women account for 2/3 of the world’s illiterate adults.
  • Women globally earn only 11% of the world’s income and own <1% of the world’s land and assets. In the United States, on average women earn .77¢ for each dollar earned by a man for the same work.
  • Gender based violence kills more women worldwide than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. It is estimated one in three women will be the victim of gender-based violence between the ages of 15 to 44.

We hear a great deal of rhetoric right now with the political season upon us. A lot of slogans dancing across our screens and men talking big about morals, ethics and the Right American Way as they beat their drums and flap their gums rapidly to keep the money pouring in. There are billionaires buying elections, Churches crying the blues, talking heads spewing hate and idiots making up nonsensical string theories to scare the naïve into cult like head nodding while they chant the names of their favored candidate or platform meme.

One thing I believe as a woman is true, we have looked away too long. There is indeed a war being waged and we are losing. When I asked ‘what the hell happened’, it was a very real question not just about our jobs but our public life, safety and enfranchisement within society. In 1967, we thought we were moving into a new age of freedoms and opportunities. What we have found instead is a scarceness of opportunity as we approach our retirement. We did not achieve equality for ourselves and our daughters’ watch helplessly as what small steps forward we did take is being stripped from them through legislation intended to diminish them and effectively strip them of their freedom.

The 112th Congress has floated the following:

  • 61 Abortion bills since they have been in sessions, or should I say Anti-Abortion bills.
  • 813 separate pieces of legislation specifically related to health care and insurance, much of which is directly related to the Affordable Health Care of 2009.

What the 112th Congress hasn’t done is focus on putting our nation back on track and working in a bipartisan way to fix what is ailing us. Instead, what we have seen is women being pushed further and further down, across the nation laws are being passed that are draconian in nature and elected officials are using language that even a decade ago would have seen them run out of the office. Meanwhile, women are being silenced for saying VAGINA.

What is next?  Will we be back to begging in the streets when we grow too old to sell our wares?

I leave you with this, it is I think relevant and I leave you with one other question is it time to stand back up not only for American women but for all women everywhere.

SOURCES:

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-14.pdf

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

http://www.opencongress.org/money_trail

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-01-26/features/9001070809_1_decency-real-thing-guardian-angel

Never Again, I will Hate You

It was February 9, 1972 when I went home to wait for what would come it would not be pretty. Around 6pm February 11, I went into Induced Labor after the Instillation Abortion and my mother was quite put out by the inconvenience of my timing. She and my father were preparing for a Valentine’s Day party, now they would have to take me to the hospital instead, damn I was a troublemaker and rude on top of it. My father had finally been told and was not happy with the choices made, there was nothing to do though but go along, it was done. I was driven to the local hospital and escorted into the emergency room. That was it, she left me there they went off to the party, I was alone to finish what she had started.

I will not tell the rest. It was horrifying and terrible. Three weeks later, before I was healed my mother took me back to the doctor and demanded I be fitted with an IUD, because as she had so clearly stated previously, ‘I am not having any more Bastards in my house.’

This was the Year

This was the year I learned to love the Blues.

This was the year I slapped my mother and said, “No more, never again.”

This was the year I began to regularly run away from home. This was the year my mother told the Juvenile Court systems to ‘keep the Bitch’, leaving me in lock-up for 7 weeks while she was in Hawaii. This was the year I entered the Foster Care System and was subsequently declared both a Juvenile Delinquent and Incorrigible.

This was the year, on December 15, I ran away from my foster home and everything else familiar. I wouldn’t see or speak to anyone in my family for just over three years. I had turned 15 that September.

This was the year I started on a path that would teach me everything I would ever need to survive anything life threw at me. The year that would strip the last of any innocence I might have clung to and any hope I might have had. This was the year I made a desperate choice to save my own life no matter the price.

Winding Roads to Perdition

The road from Seattle to San Antonio was long I hitchhiked the entire way. There were stops along the way. Sometimes people were kind, feeding me and giving me a place to sleep for a day or two. There were still hippies on the road back then, people who were willing to reach out a hand for nothing much in return. Other times, people weren’t so kind and what they wanted in return for the offer of a ride, a meal or even a cup of coffee wasn’t simply a thank-you. Sometimes I found myself in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. I learned quickly to evaluate who was offering a ride and politely refuse them if they didn’t ‘feel’ right.

Texas isn’t as cold in the winter as other places, especially central Texas. I have a long history here, which is what drew me back when I ran. Unlike most runaways of the time who made their way to San Francisco and Los Angeles I headed to the land of my heart. San Antonio in the early 70’s was a booming and dangerous military town, not a safe haven but easy enough to find havens for short periods and easy enough to find work if you weren’t too picky. People didn’t ask many questions back then, not how old you were, not for ID.

This is where I met my first husband, at an after-hours bar where I was waitressing. His father ran the poker game in the backroom. It was a whirlwind romance; he swept me away with sweet words, real dates and trips to buy real clothes. Nobody had ever pursued me like this before, treating me as if I was precious and valuable. Within weeks we were living together, Sundays were dinner with his parents and siblings, cards and dominos in the backyard. I was part of a family, prized and cared for.

Everything changed soon enough; I was too young and didn’t see it didn’t understand the signs. First it was the little things, the jealously the screaming rages. Then the name-calling began. As the months wore on my nerves frayed and my fear rose, he became cruel or maybe he always was. It started with open hands, the slaps that cut a lip or bruised a cheek. Soon it escalated, closed fists that didn’t stop with one or two but continued until I was curled in a ball on the floor no longer able to beg for mercy.

Everything Comes Back to You

September 17, the day my choices were forever stripped and I learned the meaning of hate. That day started just like any other day. The day didn’t start out well, I had been sick for a couple days, with fever and cramps, this always tended to cause problems since if I was sick I couldn’t work, couldn’t earn money for the household and by now I was the only one working on a regular basis. It was also the start of the football season, I was supposed to prepare something for a party that evening but I was too sick to get out of bed. This earned me a vicious beating; one focused where I hurt, the region of my Cervix and Uterus. I guess he though if he beat me hard enough he would beat the pain out of me.

He left me on the bed, bleeding and curled around myself. His mother found me three hours later and called an ambulance. I was barely coherent when I arrived at the hospital but I was able to tell them I had an IUD. They were unable to remove it; they were also unable to determine the extent of the internal damage without surgery.

I woke up on September 18, one day before my 16th birthday. I had been in surgery for 5 hours. The nurse looked very sad and said she would call the doctor. The doctor didn’t look very sad, just concerned.

He said my IUD had perforated my uterus wall. That they could not repair it and that there was other damage as well. They were forced to remove my uterus. He also said one of my ovaries had been damaged and had been removed. Finally he said I had Syphilis, my husband had given it to me, there was no doubt about this diagnosis, no doubt where it came from either. My husband, the man who had beaten me, while screaming his love for me  had destroyed my future fertility and infected me with a potentially life-threatening disease. That son-of-a-bitch was standing beside my bed with his parents; hanging his head in shame as the doctor delivered this terrible and terrifying news and all he could do was say he was sorry.

The doctor watched me closely, ‘do you understand everything I have told you?’

‘Yes, I will never have children and he made me sick’

I understood. My rage was cold it was like an arctic ice flow. I asked everyone to leave and told the doctor I was in pain. I could not face the future just then. I thought, as the morphine slid through my veins and I drifted off;

‘I will never love anyone or anything again, I will never love God again.’

Part One: https://valentinelogar.com/2012/06/02/no-bastards-no-choice/

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.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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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