Monday, October 8, 2018

Work To Be Done

I almost pulled the plug this week. Facebook has made me more ill than normal. I like staying up to date with my friends and families. I’ve tried more recipes that people have posted than I can count. I’ve laughed at classic Gary Larson cartoons as well new ones from Berkeley Breathed and Wiley Miller. My biggest complaint has been that’s it’s an incredible time-suck and I spend far too much time bent over a glowing screen instead of burying my nose in a good book. But that’s not why I almost pulled the plug.

I have been literally ill with headaches the past week reading the accounts of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford appearance in front of the senate Judiciary Committee and her subsequent secondary assault in the media. Last week I posted a blog piece about my history with sexual assault and the online (as well as offline messages) were both uplifting and heartbreaking. To those women who privately shared heir stories with me – thank you. You’re the reason I told my story. I pray that you get the comfort you need as well as understand that it was not your fault. If you think you’re not brave you are wrong. Living your life everyday as well as you all do is incredibly brave.

I honestly didn’t tell my story for recognition. God and anyone else who knows me knows that is the very last thing I want. Getting people to understand and accept that it may take years for memories of rape to trickle into their consciousness was my goal after hearing people - not the experts, mind you -  say they didn’t believe Dr. Ford because she could only remember some details. And to read so many women vilifying Dr. Ford and other women for telling their stories has been gut wrenching for me. If those women aren’t to be believed, then how am I to be?

So I almost closed my Facebook account. Too much pain relieved in the past week. Too much crying as quietly as possible in locked bathrooms. Too many headaches and lost sleep. It’s. Just. Too. Much.

Then I read this story https://medium.com/s/story/gen-x-remember-when-men-preferred-hanes-and-you-were-an-uptight-bitch-6ba6db0feb80. I have a daughter in middle school. I have a daughter who is a very sweet and happy.  I want her to stay that way. I don’t want her to be assaulted and have people say she must have done something to provoke the boy. I want the script flipped. I want the stories to say how many rapists there are instead of how many victims there are. Actually I want rape to stop existing. I want women to be  treated with respect. We have a lot of work to do.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Assaulted: What A Nice Way To Label Rape

I’ve never spoken publicly about my sexual assaults. Yes. Assaults. Three of them in my lifetime and almost a fourth a few years ago. The first was when I was a child and to publicly speak of it now would be of no benefit as the perpetrator is dead and to do so would inflict more harm than good.

The second was a trusted friend of the family and a respected elder of our church. I was 15 years old and he groomed me over the course of the summer so that when he finally did push it over the line and I balked he tried to place the blame on me by telling me how much I liked it – the physicality of the interaction. It worked. I didn’t tell anyone for months because I didn’t want them to find out I had liked the attention and I couldn’t let anyone know I was gay in 1970’s small town Indiana. It was only after an aborted suicide attempt that I spoke of what had happened but insisted that no charges be filed as I was afraid of being put on the witness stand and having to admit my sexual orientation. Before you tell me I was wrong keep in mind that I was a child and the only knowledge I had then of legal proceedings was from watching Perry Mason or similar TV shows.

The third was in my 20’s and was a case of date rape. I didn’t report that one ether. Who would believe me? I was in a relationship with him. I had willingly gone to his house. We had both been drinking that night. How could that possibly be rape? And yet it was as I hadn’t consented and yet could not get him to stop even though he was hurting me. So I gave up and my mind took me someplace else during the act. I ended the relationship the next day.

The fourth potential assault could have happened on vacation about seven years ago. We were in Ft. Lauderdale and had gone out one night. I made the rookie mistake of leaving my drink at the bar while I went to the restroom . I vaguely remember a man in a Michigan ball cap hovering around and luckily Robbie made us leave when I went from sober to dead ass drunk in about 15 minutes. It wasn’t until the next morning we realized someone had slipped me a roofie.

So yes, I believe she was assaulted. I believe there are hundreds of times more women who are victims of assault and have never come forward than there are men falsely accused of assault.  And I also believe that women have for years not come forward because “who would believe me?” Or worse “I must have done something to cause it to happen.”

And if it’s you that’s been assaulted, I will listen and believe you, then hug you a little tighter (if that’s what you need)  and tell you that you do not deserve any of it – the assault itself or the feelings you may be harboring since then. Far too often the victim is made to own the act and not the perpetrator. We have to change that.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fear

Powerful thing, fear. Just the right amount of fear keeps us far enough from the edge of the cliff. But then again, a lack of fear allows us to jump. Hopefully with a parachute. Or deep water to plunge into as long as the cliff isn't too high. But too much fear and we never see what's beyond the edge.

Even now, after over two years have gone by, the interwebs strike fear within me. Will I say the wrong thing and piss off some troll? Will I say the right thing and piss off some other troll? Do I have anything to say? Is it intelligent? Provoking? Timely? Or just self-centered?

What if what I say hurts someone? What if I've been hurt but don't say anything because I don't want to hurt someone? Self-centered again? What if someone reads what I post and decides to tell me how stupid what I said is?

All these are valid in my mind. All of these can be distilled down to the fear of being criticized or worse: not being liked. A friend of mine recently asked if someone can be changed and initially I would have said yes. After thinking on it for a week or so, I would have to say no. I honestly don't think we change deep down inside. I do however believe we can change how we act or react to things and situations.

I stopped writing a few years ago because someone reached out to me here who knew me when I was a child. She's exactly the same age as I am -we share a birthday. One of my first memories is of her and I kissing as being under a tree in her backyard. We were about four at the time and I have no doubt we were madly in love. I mean how could it not be anything but love when you're four, but the way my memory works this may not have happened.

But hearing from her threw me into a tailspin. Someone from my childhood other than family remembered me and I couldn't have it. Or more accurately I couldn't handle it. You see, even though I talk from time to time about my childhood, I am rather careful about what I share and when. It's self preservation really. Too much of my teen years were spent hiding, being the invisible boy, shielding myself from physical and mental pain or abuse. Being the self-conscious kid I was the least little insult felt enormous so when the big guns were fired at me - faggot, queer, and worse - I retreated even further away from the world.

I read a lot in those years - which isn't a bad thing. But because of that I don't think I ever really learned how to deal with the real world. And yes, I'm quite aware of the number of years between then and now, but like I said earlier I don't think what makes each of us, us, ever really changes, we only react to those stimuli differently.

So Tina B., I apologize for not responding a few years ago. And if you want to, please leave me a private message here with your email, I'll respond. I'd like the opportunity to reconnect and find out if my memory is right about that kiss under the backyard tree.