** This is a raw emotional post. These are fresh feelings as they come out. Writing these down and showing them to you all is a great way of letting my feelings be heard. **
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Your bones are trembling, your knees are weak, your heart is racing as fast as it possibly can just so it can get out, get out of this.
Confronting the person who has hurt you is a very hard thing to do. If your attacker is someone you still see in your every day life, who still remains in your family, your school, your circle of friends… you understand this all too well, just like me. Whenever you’re talking to your attacker, everything you’ve done to cope with your abuse comes completely undone, your strength unravels and you begin to feel as though you’re going to collapse. You begin to try and hold onto things, try and get in touch with someone who can make you feel better, you listen to music to drown out the reality of what is actually going on.
That just happened to me, just now.
Family gatherings are hard when you have to face your attacker, the person who harmed you for so long. The worst thing for me as a survivor is facing this person, talking to this person. I try and be strong and pretend like everything is OK, I try and pretend like we’re close but deep down I can’t. I am damaged, but I am strong.
How can I not see this person as a rapist, how can I not see this person as someone who is out to hurt me for their own pleasure? I can’t.
I was abused for twelve years and the attacker looks at me like I’m staying in the past and that I should just forgive and forget…. Are you kidding me? Am I suppose to lie and say I don’t lock my bedroom door at night, that I don’t worry about cracks in the door… worrying that you’ll peak through the cracks just to see my exposed body? This is where the attacker plays victim.
“I feel the pain too, It hurts me greatly to know what happened. It should have never happened.”
But it did.
“I didn’t want it to happen either, I tried to make it stop.”
But it continued.
The attacker continues to push, beg, cry, pester you until you give in, pressures you into doing the things you don’t want to do and then claims it was mututal. It is never mutual. Don’t give me your victim bullshit, you’re not the victim here. You have no right to tell me that I should forgive and let the past be the past, that was MY childhood, my childhood was stolen from me. It’s time for me to be your burden, remind you of what you did to me.
I am only three years out of the abuse, the rape, the pressuring… everything. My wounds are just as fresh as the first day my attacker laid hands on me at the age of six. I was a slave in my own home, no one was there to protect me but myself.
Attackers will refuse to admit that they were wrong, that they were the cause of all the abuse. Attackers do not understand the physical and emotional pain and damage that comes from being hit, slapped, bruised, thrown against a wall, raped, and touched. They either think of it as mutual because it is the best way they cope or they blame you for their actions. This is where I will continue to tell others, it is NOT your fault, you are NOT to blame, you are the survivor here. It wasn’t what you were wearing, or that you had one too many drinks, or you were flirting and being “suggestive” and deserved it. No. No one deserves to be raped because of how they were acting, if they were drunk, wearing a skirt… There is no reason to harm someone, there is NEVER a good reason to harm someone. No means no, no always means no. Do not fall for the “I’m the victim too” game, continue to be heard and continue to speak out against it.
What the attackers wants out of that is for you to doubt yourself, to give into the game. You’re stronger than that, I know it and you know it.
This is powerful, and so brave of you to post. Thanks for sharing this.
[general trigger warning: child sexual abuse and rape]
Sometimes I am a survivor, and other times I am a victim. I’m here, and I am a victim of child sexual abuse and rape. Well, so what? Maybe that makes some people feel uncomfortable, that we are going around and (gasp) existing as people-who-survive and people-who-are-victims. But when I draw attention to my situation, I am claiming my right to exist in this world as a full and complex person, with all of the wants and needs therein. So labeling myself as a victim is not something horrible; it’s realistic. Yes, I was a victim of child sexual abuse and rape. And yes, it has all affected me in significant ways. That is a fact.
If I can’t acknowledge this, the fact that I have been and sometimes still am a victim, I create unrealistic standards for myself. I make myself believe that I must always be strong, that I must always be the Survivor with a capital S; always powerful, always laughing and never crying. I tell myself that I must always be tough and unflinching in the face of fear, in the face of a kind of death that reaches beyond the body and into the heart.
I know it is a faux pas to repost your own content, but i was rereading this and it really got to me. How did I even write that last line? It makes me tear up every time I read that paragraph because it feels so right and true to me. It’s just…so utterly unbelievable that something like that even came out of me.
Thank you, Audre Lorde, for giving me the inspiration to write like this.
Introduction by Robert Bensen
Stiya’s promise of “untold satisfaction and happiness” for Carlisle boarding-school graduates was not kept for Black Bear (“Who Am I?”). His account creates a different portrait of the graduate, of one who suffers extreme emotional, physical, and spiritual damage, and whose identity and life are determined by the efforts he or she makes to over come that damage.
[Adailyriot disclaimer- Trigger Warning: TW for domestic violence, rape, abuse]
Who Am I?
By Black Bear
Who am I? I am a Blackfeet Indian from Montana. I am more Cree than Blackfeet, and I hardly look Indian, but I am enrolled Blackfeet. I am not quiet half Indian- some French, Irish, and Scottish too. I was my Grandpa’s Blackfeet Indian boy. That is all I ever knew.
I am a little boy who grew up with drinking and fighting all around him. I remember the sounds of beer bottles hitting the wall. I remember my father thrusting his fist through a glass door in a drunken rage because my mother tried to lock him out –shattered glass and blood where all over the floor. I remember loud angry voices and the terror of silence, waiting, for the next act of violence. My mother was beautiful with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. She liked laughter, hot jazz, and good times. She dressed in expensive clothes and preferred Chanel #5 –most say she was a very classy lady. My father was good looking and a star basketball player. He liked pretty women and he lived fast and fought hard. My mother and father drank and partied all the time. Pretty soon they drank and fought each other. Then I had many stepfathers and stepmothers. Drinking and fighting is what I remember most about growing up. That is all I ever knew.
I developed a bone disease in my right hip when I was six. I was in and out of hospitals, on crutches and braces. I spent two years in hospital in Helena, Montana. I wasn’t sick; I had all the energy of any six-year-old. They strapped me to the metal frame with a canvas covering to keep the weight off my hip. The nurses were mostly kind, but they could not nurture me. I don’t remember my mother coming to visit very often, and I never remember my father coming at all. I remember looking out the window, watching other kids play, and crying. Dying cancer and tuberculosis patients were in the next wing. I remember the screams at night. I remember being scared, and my skin yearned for a comforting, loving, nurturing touch. I remember going inside to entertain myself, for eternity. That is all I ever knew.
I am a boarding school Indian. When I say this, you know something about me already. I had to work details, slopped dishes, mopped and polished floors. I scrubbed toilet bowls and scoured sinks. Memories of nights on hard bunks still haunt me –a scared little kid, eyes wide open in the dark. One night a big boy came to my bed. He told me that if I told, he would hurt me good. He did –pain of penetration, stifled screams, and “lost innocence.” The dorm attended kicked our asses up the stairs if we didn’t move fast enough. The kind war vet with the slow mind used to take us upriver and show us how to make fire and boil coffee –the best I ever tasted. That is all I ever knew.
I survived on the streets of Portland, Spokane, Cut Bank, and Browning. My parents still drank. I lost count of how many stepfathers and stepmothers I had. I lived in foster homes, mostly with white folk. Some were good to me, and some were not. They needed money, and a few needed an extra hand with work. They did not teach me about being a good Indian boy, but they did teach me how to survive in the cities among non-Indians. Once my father came home drunk and beat up a woman he was with. She whacked him with a vacuum cleaner hose. I knocked on the ceiling with my crutches to signal the neighbors upstairs to call the police. The police came. They took my father away to jail. The woman took off. The neighbors went home. The social workers put me in a detention home for six months, because they didn’t know what else to do with me. My father came to see me once. He was drunk. I told him that I didn’t want to see him anymore when he was drunk. That is all I ever knew.
I went back to boarding school in Montana. I was older now, but it was the same old stuff. Only now the fights were over whether I could speak Blackfeet or whether I knew my Indian ways –and I was teased because I did not. The ones who did know were called blanket-asses and teased or beat up anyway. You weren’t supposed to know your ways or speak your language in those days. I went to high school in Browning. I began to drink and party and found I liked women just like my father did. I stayed in town on the weekends with my dad at the old Yeagan Hotel. He was still drinking. He slapped me once when I told him that I hadn’t been drinking that night. “Don’t lie to me, boy!” he said with stale booze breath. During my sophomore year I met a pretty girl at a river party in Cut Bank. We got real interested in each other. When I told my dad, he said “No. No. She is your sister!” “Oh!” I sad, “you never told me about my sister.” That is all I ever knew.
I left Browning and went to Haskell when it was still a high school. It was pretty good: three squares and a roof over my head for more than a year at a time were new to me. There were over a thousand students from many different tribes at Haskell. Today I have relatives anywhere I go. It feels good. I received a full National Merit Scholarship to the University of Kansas. I felt lucky as I had no other hope of going to college. My father had a years sobriety when he came down to my graduation. I was very happy and proud that he was there, but he got drunk and thrown in jail. He didn’t come to the graduation. That is all I ever knew.
At Kansas, they gave me all of my scholarship money at the beginning of each semester! I learned how to shoot pool pretty well, and I learned how to play a good hand of cards. I liked to party, and I still liked women. I ran out of money before I flunked out. After I left school and worked for a while, I came back to Kansas and played even harder. Then I got a rancher’s daughter pregnant. That is all I ever knew.
As a father, I tried to be responsible for the first time in my life. I worked at whatever I could find for eight years before returning to Kansas. This time I worked for my degree during the day and worked at night to support a family. I graduated –first in the family! I became a bureaucrat with the federal government. I had muttonchop sideburns and wore wingtip shoes and pinstripe suits. That was the American dream, wasn’t it? I drank more and more and ran around on my wife. For me, “Indian Affairs” wasn’t about politics or the BIA. I played and drank hard. I hurt people and lost wives number one and number two and three wonderful children. Now I was just like my parents. That is all I ever knew.
I quit drinking in Tucson, many years later. I had gone to a four-day Indian golf tournament in Phoenix. Stayed drunk the whole time. When I drove home, my bones ached. I quit cold. They call me a dry-drunk because I never went to treatment. I was sober, but not healed. I looked around me. I didn’t like my job. I didn’t like my friends; we just drank together. I didn’t like myself. I knew that I had hurt many people and was not a responsible person –to myself, to my family, as an Indian person, or to my community. I realized that the world would be a sorry place to live in if everyone was like me. That is all I ever knew.
I quit a promising career and good money and left Tucson to start over in life –sober. I consulted for different tribal groups for several years. I married a Pueblo woman and went back to school. Also, I learned how to make pottery. I sat on the plaza in Santa Fe for four years selling my wares and paying my dues. But I still had not dealt with my addictive behaviors. I lost wife number three. This time I felt the loss. That is all I ever knew.
I met some Lakota friends who began taking me to sweats and teaching me about spirituality and responsibility. I stopped toking and got clean. I went home to Montana to learn about my own ways. It is not easy to humble yourself in your mid-forties and tell “elders” who are fifteen years younger, “I am ignorant but I want to learn!” I learned about Blackfeet teachings, language, and songs. I was brought out from behind the barrier at Sun Dance and given my Blackfeet name in ceremony. I now had a Blackfeet identity. The name was given to my father by his father. I have the right to give the name Black Bear to my son, and it has dignity. Today I have a good relationship, a garden, and a home. Yes, I know what the Gallup drunk tank smells like. I experienced and survived boarding school. I understand the pain of abandonment. I know the terror of sexual abuse. I understand the shame of not being a good parent. However, now I try to be a good person and use my experience and understanding to help others. Now I know what I never knew. I know who I am, and it is all I ever knew.
Thank you, Creator.
TW: Sexual abuse, abuse
Nearly 200 immigration detainees allege that they were sexually abused while being held at detention centers across the country since 2007, according to government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The documents reveal allegations by detainees in nearly all states that house immigration detention facilities, suggesting widespread sexual abuse within the system.
The ACLU released the information obtained from several agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, on Wednesday—the same day its Texas chapter filed a lawsuit on behalf of three immigrant women who say they were sexually assaulted while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a detention center in Taylor, Texas.
“The fact that these women sought sanctuary in the United States – only to find abuse at the hands of officials they thought would protect them – is wholly inconsistent with America’s self-proclaimed reputation as a beacon of human rights and protector of human dignity,” Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said.
TW: Domestic Violence, Rape, Extreme Violence.
Do you believe in the rights of women, or do you believe in multiculturalism? A series of verdicts in the German courts in the past month, have shown with hot, hard logic that you can’t back both. You have to choose.
The crux case centres on a woman called Nishal, a 26-year-old Moroccan immigrant to Germany with two kids and a psychotic husband. Since their wedding night, this husband beat the hell out of her. She crawled to the police covered in wounds, and they ordered the husband to stay away from her. He refused. He terrorised her with death threats. So Nishal went to the courts to request an early divorce, hoping that once they were no longer married he would leave her alone. A judge who believed in the rights of women would find it very easy to make a judgement: you’re free from this man, case dismissed.
But Judge Christa Datz-Winter followed the logic of multiculturalism instead. She said she would not grant an early divorce because - despite the police documentation of extreme violence and continued threats - there was no “unreasonable hardship” here.
Why? Because the woman, as a Muslim, should have “expected” it, the judge explained. She read out passages from the Koran to show that Muslim husbands have the “right to use corporal punishment”. Look at Sura 4, verse 34, she said to Nishal, where the Koran says he can hammer you. That’s your culture. Goodbye, and enjoy your beatings.
A Lebanese-German who strangled his daughter Ibthahale and then beat her unconscious with a bludgeon because she didn’t want to marry the man he had picked out for her was sentenced to mere probation. His “cultural background” was cited by the judge as a mitigating factor.
A Turkish-German who stabbed his wife Zeynep to death in Frankfurt was given the lowest possible sentence, because, the judge said, the murdered woman had violated his “male honour, derived from his Anatolian moral concepts”. The bitch. A Lebanese-German who raped his wife Fatima while whipping her with a belt was sentenced to probation, with the judge citing his … you get the idea.
Indeed, in the name of this warm, welcoming multiculturalism, the German courts have explicitly compared Muslim women to the brain-damaged. The highest administrative court in North Rhine-Westphalia has agreed that Muslim parents have the “right” to forbid their daughter from going on a school trip unless she was accompanied by a male family member at all times. The judges said the girl was like “a partially mentally impaired person who, because of her disability, can only travel with a companion”.
Listen to Jasvinder Sanghera, who founded the best British charity helping Asian women after her sister was beaten and beaten and then burned herself to death. She says: “It’s a betrayal of these women to be PC about this. Look at the figures. Asian women in Britain are three times more likely to commit suicide than their white friends. That’s because of all this.”
As the Iranian author Azar Nafisi puts it: “I very much resent it when people - maybe with good intentions or from a progressive point of view - keep telling me, ‘It’s their culture’ … It’s like saying the culture of Massachusetts is burning witches.” She is horrified by the moves in Canada to introduce shariah courts to enforce family law for Muslims.
Yes, it would be easy to keep our heads down, go with this multicultural drift, and congratulate ourselves on our tolerance of the fanatically intolerant. But I can give you a few good reasons not to. Their names are Nishal and Ibthahale and Zeynep and Fatima, and, yes, they were women.
Some excerpts from “How multicultralism is betraying women” by Johann Hari. All emphasis mine. I found these paragraphs get the the heart of this argument. I recommend reading the full thing.
To add another perspective, I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian culture. While it’s harder to find outright justification for anti-woman violence in the Bible than it is the Koran, I’ve still encountered Christian men that have used their beliefs and worldviews to justify marital rape, child abuse, and emotional abuse of their families, and many Christian women who also believe the justifications. (If anyone’s interested in further reading, I’d suggest the blog No Longer Quivering as a good starting point). There’s a lot of Christian privilege dynamics that go into this and make it a bit different than the aforementioned situations, but I don’t have the spoons to deal with that right now :-(
But, even as someone who’s still a practicing Christian of some undefined sort (my personal beliefs line up pretty well with Unitarianism) I still don’t think that my religious freedom, or anyone else’s, should ever, ever extend to the “right” to practice my religion in a way that actively harms or infringes upon the rights of other human beings.
I am REALLY not liking the wording of this whole thing. AT. ALL. It essentially pulls out that prescriptive feminism that a lot of white feminists use against WoC: You can be a woman or your culture. Pick one and make an enemy of the other. THIS is why many women of color won’t claim feminist. Because it essentially boils down to Eurocentric “feminism” that alienates WoC because they had to abandon themselves in order to appease “women’s rights.” To say that “multiculturalism” betrays women is bullshit.
The problem here isn’t multiculturalism. It’s bigoted jackasses. Look at old court records, a lot of the same kinds of justifications are trotted out against abuse victims regardless of their background. Using a skewed interpretation of Islam to victim blame is just a new expression of the same old misogynistic shit.