I’m always perversely drawn to stories about exploited children, in the same way I tend to slow down to look at traffic accidents. I have this need to learn how something that terrible could have happened. I want to figure out how to prevent it from happening in the future, even as I know I’ll be all but powerless to do so.
It’s a heartbreaking story. It started in depression-era rural Canada, before most people knew that these types of mega-multiple births were even possible. And in no time flat these girls were taken away from their parents and raised in a facility where the general public could observe their play times. For a while there, they drew more tourists than Niagara Falls. Souvenir shops and food stands were built. They were also used to endorse products.
They were not the first children used as commodities, and they won’t be the last. It’s horrifying how often people are willing to rob children of their childhood. The lifelong damage by adults, especially professionals who ought to know better, boggles the mind.
This abuse comes in many forms. Wild children who are then raised by scientists. Child brides. Indigenous children ripped from their families and sent off to schools that are designed to rob them of their culture. Sex trafficking and child pornography. Abductions. Girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Child soldiers in Africa. Those kids who are subject to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of any kind. Children who don’t know any better who participate in family reality shows in America. Baby beauty pageants. Child actors and singers who never see their own money. Children ripped from the arms of their parents at the US border to prove a political point. Young athletes who are raised by their coaches. Children born of slavery. Children kept by the worst kind of foster parents who are only in it for the money. Children forced to beg, steal, or sell things in the streets instead of going to school. Children used as pawns in nasty divorces.
The fact that so many of us survive to adulthood with even a modicum of sanity is a miracle. We’d like to think we are above the animals in this world, but good luck finding any other animals that would treat their offspring the way many humans do. It’s sickening.
If you are one of the parents who are doing your best to provide a safe, loving, and functional childhood for your child, or one of the people, like me, who chose to be child free, then thank you.
I just heard the most disgusting recording ever. It was Tyreek Hill and his fiancée Crystal Espinal discussing how his three-year-old son’s arm was broken. It’s hard for me not to get emotional about this.
From an emotional standpoint, it seems clear to me that this huge NFL player broke this small child’s arm. Big man. Class act.
In fairness, at the time of this writing, neither adult has admitted any wrongdoing. But here are the facts from the recording:
Espinal says the child is terrified of Hill.
Hill tells Espinal she should be terrified, too, and insults her.
Hill admits he told the child to shut up and stop crying.
Espinal says the child said, “Daddy did it,” and “Daddy punches me.”
Espinal admits she stuck up for Hill with investigators. In other words, she knew what he had done to her child, and yet she prevented investigators from finding out.
Hill admits that when the child cries, he makes him open up his arms and he punches the kid in the chest. He says the child respects him.
They both accuse each other of using a belt on the child.
We will never be 100 percent sure of what happened, but it’s quite obvious that both of these adults have some extremely questionable parenting skills, and that child is in danger.
To be quite clear, there is no excuse for injuring someone who is 8 times smaller than you are. There is absolutely no justification for it. And respect? That is earned through love, not through threats and violence. I have no respect for someone who feels the need to punch me in the chest or break my arm.
When you prey on someone who is clearly more vulnerable than you, does it feel good? Do you feel like you’ve accomplished something? Is it some sort of triumph?
It’s easy to abuse small children, little old ladies, women half your size, smaller kids in the school yard when you’re backed up with a group of jeering friends. It’s a lot less work to harvest the low hanging fruit. Sure, you can do these things, but you shouldn’t. Every civilized human being knows that. The fact that there are certain people out there who know that and yet do it anyway, and others who enable them, says a lot about what they are.
They are predators. They are twisted, evil, cruel, ignorant animals that should be locked up in cages for the rest of their lives.
My whole life, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. That feeling intensifies when things are going well. Because I can’t have the nice things. I’ve never had the nice things. At least, not for long.
Sooner or later, everything seems to turn to sh**. If I’m braced for it, I can usually handle it, and come out the other side. I’m nothing if not a survivor. But if that darned shoe takes me by surprise, then that would be bad. Really, really bad.
I remind myself of Nelly, a wonderful dog, who flinches every time you reach out to pet her sweet head. She knows all about what having it bad used to be like. She learned early that flinching can soften the blow. How do I explain to her that I love her, and I’ll always love her, and I’ll never hurt her? She deserves to be petted and cuddled and adored. I want her to be able to own it.
I deserve the good stuff, too. I know it. And here lately I have been experiencing it. And I enjoy it. Mostly. But I can’t seem to get out from under that mental shoe of mine. It’s always there, stinking up the place.
I think there are a lot of people out there, walking around with a shoe in their heads. Please be patient with us. We may not show it well, but your goodness really is appreciated. Probably even more than it would be if we were one of those lucky shoeless people.
During my wedding ceremony, one of the things I said to my husband-to-be was, “You’re the more cautious one.” Afterward, a friend came up to me and expressed her total shock about that. In a nice way. She’s a pure delight. But the implication was that she found it really hard to imagine that anyone could be more cautious than I am.
That, to me, is really fascinating.
Okay, standing beside that friend, I’m sure I come off as shy and retiring. She’s amazing. She’s colorful. She’s larger than life. Total strangers will stop her on the street to talk to her. (Which is wonderful, unless you’re with her and happen to be in a hurry.) She lights up every room that she enters. She’s got that indescribable “it” factor. Rock on, my friend!
But my being quiet, thoughtful, and ever-so-slightly slower moving does not necessarily equate with caution. Let’s review:
I’ve been to 19 countries.
I lived in Mexico, all alone, when I was 19.
I spent a summer away from home, doing construction work on an Air Force Base, when I was 16.
I used to camp deep in the forests of Appalachia, a week at a time, with only my dogs for company.
I survived a childhood of sexual abuse.
I have met several friends face to face that I had previously only known on line.
I worked graveyard shift, in total isolation, for 13 years.
I sold my house and moved three hours south, where I knew no one, to go back to college.
I started over, yet again, moving 3100 miles from Florida to Seattle, at age 49. It was a place where I had never been, and where I knew no one.
I managed not to have children despite intense societal pressure.
I got married for the first time at age 53.
Have poured my heart and soul out in this daily blog since 2012, revealing things about myself that many people wouldn’t even have told their best friends.
So many good things came from the Christine Blasey Ford hearing. She started a long overdue national discussion about abuse and, even more basically, about what it means to be a woman in this world. This genie will never be put back into the bottle, and I think our culture will be all the better for it. Being heard provides an opportunity for healing.
Believe it or not, I’m a very quiet person. Because of that, it’s assumed, I hope correctly, that I’m a good listener. Therefore, people tend to confide in me. So I have heard a lot of amazing stories of survival over the years.
These stories have left me with two lasting impressions. 1) We live in a world that is a great deal more violent and abusive than most people realize or care to admit, and 2) I will always be fascinated by people’s ability to survive and even thrive in spite of the many obstacles that are thrown in their paths.
I know a woman whose mother tried to kill her on multiple occasions. I know a woman whose parents attempted to beat the gay out of her. I know a woman who was sexually abused at an extremely young age by a never-ending series of her mother’s boyfriends. I know many people who have been beaten up for simply being who they are. I know a man who was so severely tortured by his alcoholic father that to this day he is afraid of his own shadow.
I’ve learned of knives being held to throats. Legs broken and improperly healed. Humiliations and punishments beyond your worst nightmares.
Every one of these people survived in spite of, not because of, the people around them. Those people should have been supporting them and raising them up in life, not beating them down. The fact that abusers seem to flourish in this society is an outrage.
Survivors are my heroes. They have a depth of character that people who have had the good fortune of waltzing through life unscathed will never achieve. But I’ve come to believe that depth of character wasn’t brought out by the abuse. I think it was always there, deep inside. Humans have this uncanny ability to default to incredible if given half a chance.
So, if survivors are already awesome, imagine how much more they could have been without the toxicity that was injected into their lives. What gifts has this hostile world deprived itself of? What are we missing? How much further could this society have evolved without all the harm that it inflicts upon itself? What an incredible waste.
Something to think about.
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These are very triggering times, boys and girls. And they should be. They should be. Because Trump’s piss-poor attitude about Christine Blasey Ford is just a reflection of our general cultural ignorance regarding the subject of sexual assault and abuse.
One of the most outrageous things to come out of Trump’s pie-hole (and let’s admit that that bar is already set pretty freakin’ low) is, “Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?”
Um… because the FBI doesn’t deal with the abuse of traumatized teenagers? Because 36 years ago, nobody gave a shit about girls being sexually assaulted? Because to this day, it’s an uphill battle to get justice in these situations?
Gee, I dunno. Why on earth didn’t she report Kavanaugh 36 years ago?
Let me jump on the bandwagon with the thousands of others out there who are attempting to patiently explain #WhyIDidntReport.
Forty-Three years ago, when I was 11 years old, my stepfather began sexually abusing me. This went on for two years, until, at age 13, I broke a board across his knee and told him that if he ever touched me again, I’d kill him. And he knew I meant it. I knew I meant it. I’ve never been so certain of anything in my entire life. He never touched me again.
That was the closest I ever came to justice. Other than that, he got off scot-free. And he didn’t do me the courtesy of dying until I was 27, so I could have reported. But I didn’t. Here are some of the millions of reasons why:
I was a good girl, taught to respect my elders. He was the adult in the situation, so even though what he was doing felt awful, to my young mind, it must be right. Right?
I was 21 years old before it occurred to me that what he did wasn’t my fault. No one ever told me that. (It’s not your fault, either, by the way.)
I was afraid that if I spoke up, I’d be taken away from my mother and thrown into foster care, where the abuse would continue, this time by strangers.
I didn’t want to bother anyone. It’s not polite to rock the boat.
I was afraid that if my stepfather went to jail, we would become even poorer than we already were, and we were living in a tent at the time.
I didn’t want my mother to get into trouble.
Because I was just a kid, ill equipped to take on the whole world.
I didn’t want the world to know my humiliation.
I didn’t understand how the law worked.
I saw on TV how women who went to court about these things where treated like whores and emotionally abused by the defense lawyers.
I was shy.
I had such low self-esteem I didn’t think I deserved justice.
I didn’t want to think about it.
I wanted it all to go away.
When I told my mother, she said I was “making too much of it.”
When I told his adult son, he didn’t do anything.
When I told a counselor at school, he didn’t do anything.
I was all alone in this.
Most of my female friends had been abused at some point, too. They didn’t report, either.
Because as time wore on, I knew I was less and less credible.
Because it would be my word against his, and he was a white male.
Because attitudes like Trumps are the rule, not the exception, and because of that, we get Supreme Court Judges like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
I could go on and on. But if you are the kind of ignorant asshole who doesn’t feel that all of the above is enough, then there’s no convincing you. So I’m done.
One of the great features that I get to take advantage of because my blog is on WordPress is the “search engine terms” feature. It lets me know what questions or phrases people have used to find one of my blog posts. (Never fear, it doesn’t tell me who is searching for what or even when, so if you recognize yourself below, rest assured that I do not.)
Can I just say that there are a lot of strange people in cyberspace? Some of them are so odd, in fact, that I feel the undeniable urge to interact with them. I’ve done a post like this before. But new levels of bizarre seem to have cropped up, so I thought it was time for another one.
What follows are honest to God search engine terms in bold, my response to them, and links to the blog posts these queries probably came up with.
Can psychopaths have friends? Actually, I’ve gotten many queries along these lines, and they never fail to make me sad. Yes, I used to have a friend who was a psychopath, for many, many years. I thought she was my friend, but was I hers? In retrospect, no. I must have served a purpose for a good long while, but as soon as I stopped serving that purpose, as soon as I started pushing beyond the boundaries that she established, it was over.
If you’re making this query, dear reader, my first instinct is to tell you to find a better friend. Psychopaths, by their very nature, cannot and do not truly care about you. You deserve more. Set your sights higher. See also: My Friend the Psychopath.
Is it bad to change your favorite color? Well, I’ve done it. And the world didn’t come to an end. So I’d say no. A better question might be, “Why do I care if it’s bad to change my favorite color?” See also: Changing My Favorite Color.
Gas gauge empty pee, gas gauge montana pee. Okay, there’s a story behind this query. There has to be. And I’d love to hear it. But it probably sent you to a post about my trip through Montana when I was moving from Florida to Seattle.
Can you get addicted to acupuncture? Yes, I once wrote a blog post called Addicted to Acupuncture, but I didn’t mean literal addiction. I just liked the way that title rolled off my tongue. I apologize if this caused any confusion. I absolutely love acupuncture and highly recommend it. I can’t imagine how an actual addiction would be possible under these circumstances, but then, I’m no doctor.
Where are the best location for the drawbridge and why? Er… over a river? Where you need a lower bridge but taller vessels must still transit the waterway? I’m really not sure what you’re getting at, and I doubt any posts of mine were much help. This one must have just sent you to my blog in general. I hope someone was able to answer your question for you.
Why is he picking a fight with me? I have no idea. If he does it often, though, you may want to move on. This kind of thing can go downhill quickly. Take care of you. Good luck. See also: How to Become a Battered Woman.
Why are drawbridges so scary? I am sorry you feel that way. You’re not alone, though. I’m sad to say that quite a few people are frightened by them.
The most common reason I’ve heard is that when you’re going across them, you can feel them move and bounce. But trust me, you do NOT want a rigid bridge. Rigid bridges can lead to disaster. We learned this with Tacoma’s Galloping Gertie. You really do want a bridge to be able to move and flex within reason, so it can adjust to shifting weights and winds and temperatures. If you don’t allow for that, the bridge will find a way, just like Gertie did.
Other people are afraid of the open grating that many bridges have, as opposed to solid asphalt or concrete. This is to reduce weight and wind drag when they are up in the air. I used to be afraid of these grates, too, but trust me, they will support your weight. Buses and semi trucks cross over them all the time. If they can support that, they can hold up your car, your bike, and/or you. Just don’t look down. You’ll be okay.
Other people are afraid that the bridge will open up while they are crossing it. There are a whole lot of safety systems in place that you aren’t aware of to prevent that. And most bridgetenders take their jobs very seriously. Do people get hurt on drawbridges? Yes, it happens. You can do a lot of very common sense things to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. First of all, DO NOT wear headphones or ear buds when crossing a drawbridge. You want to be able to hear the warning gongs that signal that a bridge is about to open. And if you see a red light, stop. If you see a gate go down, do not try to run past it or crawl under it.
I’m sorry you are stressing out over this. I just suggest you stay safely outside the gates when a bridge is opening and enjoy the show! If you allow yourself to become fascinated with drawbridges, they won’t seem nearly as scary.
Construction man cement porn. Okay, I have no freakin’ clue why this brought you to me. And I’m not sure I want you to stay. Maybe you stumbled upon my post about Gender Specific Jobs? I don’t know. But I’m kind of worried about you.
Drawbridge jokes. If you know any, I’d sure love to hear them. But I got nothin’. Something about this job having its ups and downs? Yeah. I’ve never heard that one before.
Weird face. I sure hope this didn’t bring you to me because of my face. That would be crushing. But perhaps you stumbled upon my post about Uncanny Valley. That one has some weird pictures. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it.
How to hate alcohol. It just so happens that Why I Hate Alcohol is one of my most visited posts by far. It seems that there are quite a few people out there who hate it, and for very good reason. I think if everyone did, the world would be a much nicer place.
Unfortunately, there’s no one who will be able to convince you not to like alcohol if you do, in fact, like it. The fact that you’re making this query leads me to believe you are ready to make a change, though. I wish you the best of luck.
Anorexic women with breast implants. Okay, I did write a post about Valeria Lukyanova who is the poster child for this. But I hope you didn’t just go there to “admire” the picture of her. My post was a cautionary tale. This woman is not healthy, and I hope you don’t want to emulate her.
Hoop skirt pee, and/or six inch heels. I wrote about the first topic because I was genuinely curious about how this maneuver was pulled off. But it seems to have drawn quite a few fetishists to my blog. I’m quite sure they leave very disappointed. And I think the photograph of the heels in another post (in which I was trying to explain how self-destructive humans can be) is the most viewed photo in my whole blog. That kind of makes me sad, because the post is informative, but I bet it’s rarely read. I wasn’t really trying to please pervs. Oh well.
Graffiti is like dogs peeing on lamp posts. I do tend to agree. But I have to say, some graffiti definitely approaches the level of art. And I think I said as much in my post entitled Sliz. It’s a shame these artists choose to destroy other people’s property instead of using their power for good.
So welcome to my blog, you fascinating, quirky people! Hope you’ll come back soon.
Someone told me the other day that I’m very composed. It took me by surprise, but I suppose it’s true. I don’t enjoy drama. I haven’t thrown a tantrum in, oh, at least a week or two. (Joke.)
I think the reason I’ve never thought of myself as the poster child for composure is that I know what’s going on on the inside of me. That is a bit more chaotic than the outside stuff. If all that turmoil were on the surface, I think people would assume I was crazed.
For instance, I’ve been perpetually freaked out ever since Donald Trump took office. I’m surprised I haven’t developed ulcers from the sheer frustration I’m experiencing as I watch him systematically destroy everything he touches.
I also tend to lose my cool at this time of year at work on my drawbridge. The sailboats are out in force, and for whatever reason, most owners don’t seem to take the time to know what the hell they’re doing with those very expensive toys.
And don’t even get me started about pedestrians. I haven’t crushed anyone yet, mind you, but they sure make it a distinct possibility. And I’d kind of like to keep my job.
The one thing that brings me closest to violence is witnessing the abuse of children or animals. If you can’t pick on somebody your own size, I’m sorely tempted to give you someone your size to pick on. But you wouldn’t like it.
I also can’t abide selfishness or greed. Be as self-destructive as you want. It’s your life. But when your actions negatively impact others, I take issue with that. And for Pete’s sake, take responsibility for your actions. Grow the %@$& up.
I find liars despicable, and people who are hellbent on believing those lies to their own benefit are even worse. If you can’t reach your destination without taking one of those two crooked paths, then you might want to reexamine your destination. It most likely will not turn out to be the paradise you envisioned.
So, am I composed? The jury is still out on that one. But I find that chocolate helps.
If you’re a fish, you don’t know you’re in water unless you jump out of it. That stands to reason. We humans are much more self-aware, and yet most of us don’t spend much time thinking about the fact that we’re in air. (Would that we did. We’d probably be less apt to pollute the atmosphere.)
When you think about it, it’s rather amazing how adaptable we are to our environment. It’s a great survival skill. Unfortunately, it means that many of us put up with emotional toxicity that is profoundly destructive to our psyche. It’s really important to pay attention to your surroundings and set high standards. If you don’t think you deserve much out of life, then what you’ll get is utter crap. Water seeks its own level.
Sometimes people tolerate abuse because they think it’s the norm. That isn’t an unreasonable conclusion to make if you were brought up with abuse. Only if you visit other households and discover that they’re not all filled with shouting and fury would it make you realize that your situation isn’t typical.
I once had a coworker who constantly told stories about the police being called to his house. I looked at another coworker and said, “Is he the norm, or am I? Because, my whole life, I’ve never had to call the police to my house. Not once.” Coworker one seemed really shocked by that. Coworker two just shook his head sadly.
In other cases, the abuse sort of sneaks up on you. I wrote about this in a post entitled “How to Become a Battered Woman.” It’s like boiling a frog. You can do that successfully if you turn up the temperature very slowly, bit by bit.
I’m thinking about these things more and more, because as my life becomes increasingly emotionally healthy, and as I surround myself with more and more people who treat me with decency and respect, people who are honest and reliable and communicate in an assertive way, I’m starting to see how much poison I used to tolerate in my world. I can’t imagine ever being back in that unhealthy place ever again.
It really is possible to swim in crystal clear water. It may take some getting used to, but it feels wonderful. The first step to take is to raise your expectations and realize that you really deserve the best. If I can do it, you can, too.
I’m an introvert. I like peace and quiet. Alone is my natural state. I also love nature. The wind in the trees, the smell of dirt, the bugs, the very flora and fauna of it all. It grounds me.
You’d think I’d love fishing. I probably would, but for the fact that my stepfather loved fishing. He used to drag us fishing all the time when I was a child. Most likely I’d have enjoyed it if he hadn’t been a sick, twisted, sexual abuser, which meant that there was always this air of palpable tension and impending doom wherever we went. So now, in my head, the whole fishing concept is all tangled up with that disgusting pig.
I kind of resent that. He stole an activity from me that I would have taken to like a fish to water. (See what I did there? Sorry. Had to.) He put his slimy fingerprints all over it, and now it is forever tainted for me. I really shouldn’t give him this power.
I thought about trying to take that power back, but then I realized that I always felt bad baiting the hooks and hurting the fish. And forget about killing and cleaning them. No. Not my thing at all.
So maybe I just need to be an UN-fisherman. I could take all those elements I liked about fishing and apply them, and discard the rest. There’s nothing that says I can’t go out into the wilderness and sit on the banks of a river and just… quietly be.