Back in Action

Sorry I’ve been missing for a couple months. I had an ethical dilemma; although none of the women were identified nor identifiable, I was unsure if it was OK for me to be posting their stories, being that they are so intimate and painful.  But speaking with some women I work with, they would much rather me share their experience and educate others. 

The topic that I am interested in discussing in this post is the show Snapped.  Apparently, which I did not know, the show does not need the woman’s consent to do the show.  This is absurd to me because, not only is the segment ABOUT them, but it portrays them in a horrible, skewed light.  One woman I work with at the facility came into the group and mentioned that she had spoken to a family member and her show was aired.  She later explained that she gave no consent whatsoever, she tried to fight them with no luck, and people from her community sold her pictures and gave interviews.  As if she was an entertainment attraction! How ridiculous…

I, myself, have only caught two episodes of this show.  I was turned off automatically by the introduction, flashing “greed” and “lies” across the screen.  Overall, the show portrays these women as “female murderers.”  I may be biased, seeing only two episodes, but the ones I have viewed and the story of the woman mentioned above were of a woman that was abused and was courageous enough to choose survival over death.  This woman did not want to hurt anyone; she wanted to survive, much like you and I and every other mammal on this Earth!

Anyways, the two episodes I have seen completely minimized the factor of abuse.  Out of the 60-minutes of the show, maybe 30 were spent on how vicious, cold-blooded, and horrible the women were and about 3.5 minutes basically said oh yeah she was abused all her life, as a child and as a girlfriend and as a wife, but let’s go back to how horrible she is and how she is a MURDERER! How could she do such a thing?!?!?! Um, well because she was abused all her life!!!! As a woman who works with abused women, I can identify this cause-and-effect relationship. Not only that, I notice the 3.5 minutes where they discuss what has happened to the main character, the “murderer.”

A show like this is pathetic.  It uses these horror-story lives to get ratings.  To be honest, people love gory murder stories; in my opinion, they’re going to hear murderer and want to tune in anyway.  These shows, I think, should include a psychologist, social worker, victim, ANYONE to just add an extra 8 minutes of how often abuse happens, what effects it has, ANYTHING!  Our society needs to be educated about this topic.  It is so easy to look at the dead person and label him as a victim.  Sure, some of these men were wonderful when sober… or with their kids… or on a good day.  But does that make it ok to point fingers at the woman? She is also a victim.  If she wasn’t a victim, she wouldn’t be behind bars or at an emergency shelter.

Basically, the point of this post is to keep this in mind if you watch this sad excuse for a show.  I’m not saying don’t watch it; my guilty pleasure is Bad Girls Club so I’m no one to tell you what you can and cannot watch. But when you do let your braincells melt while watching this for an hour, keep your eyes and ears open for the domestic abuse in MOST (not all) of the “documentary.”  And always remember that there are three sides to every story – both sides and the truth. 

Another Free Man

I was reading the article about Daisy Coleman (here’s the link: http://jezebel.com/is-maryville-missouri-the-next-steubenville-1445028162 ) and was wondering why rapists simply get a slap on the wrists when they can severely ruin someone’s life.  Imagine you are enjoying yourself at a party, as Daisy was, and drank a little too much and some piece of shit takes it upon himself to have sex with her even though she is barely conscious. If you actually put yourself there, you will feel helpless, attacked, meaningless… In future relationships, Daisy will most likely have a lot of trouble becoming intimate with her partner, even something as little as a gentle touch.  Instead of feeling adored and beautiful, Daisy’s defenses will go up and she will most likely remember that night when she was raped and videotaped by a bunch of dickheads. As you can probably tell, I am enraged by this because not only did these boys ruin her future relationships, but they were let go! I guess it was a big oopsies, oh well.

This happened to one of the women I work with.  Not only was she molested as a child, but she was gang-raped trying to get back into her apartment.  Not only was she molested and raped in her apartment stairwell, but she was also raped two other times. So yes, that is four times.  And guess how many times justice was served. That’s right – ZERO.  When she was gang-raped, no one would help her because they feared the gang would come after them, too.  When she was raped another time as an adult, she went to the police. The man was arrested and went to jail for three months and that was it.  The last time she was raped, she was scared to go to the police due to cocaine being in her system.  And for any numb-skulls reading this, judging her, thinking she’s just a coke-head, probably asking for it, let’s back-track for a moment.  Maybe she was using drugs to numb her pain. Hmm, possibly from being raped three times. See how this malicious act can ruin a life? I hope there are some lightbulbs out there…

So what I gather by this failed justice system is that a man cannot control himself.  I mean, if he’s free, that must be the reason, right? If one of the victim’s family was forced to leave their home, the two girls were bullied and kicked off the cheerleading team, and the guys got nothing, it must be the women, right?

People blame women for rape because of the way they dress, but look-the-fuck-around, girls are taught to dress like “little skanks” because of YOU womanizing men anyways.  So where’s the source of the problem? Others may blame it on the alcohol, saying “they shouldn’t be drinking anyway.” Does that make rape okay?  When a man has sex with a woman when she is drunk, even if consensual, it is rape! Would she have sex with your nasty ass when she was sober – probably not.

This is NOT okay. Women need to be treated with respect, not as objects. Society pressures us to be rail thin, wear short shorts, low cut tops, heels, but then it’s OUR faults when we are raped. Let’s pretend we have half a brain and fight against this injustice.

Sorry this was more of a rant than a story. Also apologize for any errors, midterm week & no time for proof-reading!!

Letters to Abusers

I was very anxious. Not only do I hate reading, but I hate reading in front of people, especially those I don’t know.  Even worse, the content.  Today, I would be reading letters, written by inmates, to their abusers.  The staff must read the letters so the author can hear it from someone else, bring it to life, feel their words.

I am impressed with some of their writing and creative abilities; beautiful work.  I am even more moved by their honesty.

Okay, it is my turn to read another letter.  I open it up.  The handwriting is frantic and frazzled all over the page. I begin to read “Dear lover, I have failed miserably in trying to change you….”  I feel her pain. I remember myself as a young naive girl, trying to change my boyfriend into a better man. I remember the sadness, the feel of defeat.  Only now, I imagine it with angry fists and loud screams. Trying to change the man you love and fight for your life at the same time.

I continue to read.  She states somewhere in the letter: “I loved you but I hated what you became when you drank.”  I am trying to keep my composure.  Almost done with the page full of emotion, remorse, and pain.

I pause when I stumble across a sentence that states that this abuser, this monster, was the “only man I have ever loved.”  I read it carefully.  My eyes are warm with tears, but I do not cry.  I look up.  Even though the letter is anonymous, I know who wrote it.  I see the pain all over her aged face.

The author begins to weep. This woman still blames herself.  She explains, that night, it was him or her.  She wishes it was her because she would have to suffer much less if she were gone.  The woman explains that, since in prison, she cannot stand herself, she is depressed and has no self-esteem.  She feels as though she is a monster.  To me, though, she is a survivor.

This man would drink, come home, and abuse his wife.  And she loved him with every bone, gene, cell in her body.  She even said herself, “I would never leave him, everyone knew that.”  This woman, so in love and devoted, now sees herself as a cold monster that deserves to be dead.

Well, here it goes…

I’m the type of person that gets really into something and then abandons it. An “I’m-thankful-for” jar, a diary, exercise, blogs, diets, even Candy Crush and we all know how addicting that is.  However, I hope I keep up with this one. I figured blogging would be a good way to debrief and unwind.  I not only am a student studying to get a Master’s in Social Work, working a part-time job in retail, trying, yet failing miserably, in maintaining a social life, but I am also interning 21 hours a week at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility with the Family Violence Program. This is all very rewarding but certainly is taking a toll on my stress levels. So, I find myself here, typing away, hoping it will relieve me of some tension.

Now, if you were the one of many to think to yourself “Bedford?! The maximum security prison?? You work with all those nut-jobs??” You are not alone. I have gotten that a lot lately. That is also why I am creating this blog. I want to share my experiences with you all, obviously without names or identifying information. I want to pass this information along, not only because it is like watching the ID channel at times, but because these people are not “nut-jobs.” They are incredible women.

The women I work with have been through everything and anything. They are where they are because of a mistake. Or because they needed to protect themselves. Yes, someone may have died or been hurt by their doing, but they are muffled, labeled, and put away for years. The media likes to write titles like, “jealous girlfriend stabs boyfriend to death over mistress,” but they like to leave out the part where he beat her. Repeatedly. That time he raped her. The final incident where it was him or her. They forgot to include the part where she chose survival over death. Self-preservation over violence, brutality, and manipulation. I want their stories to be heard. These women are not monsters. To me, they are survivors.