The Reality Of Sexual Assault, Victim’s Rights And The Court Of Public Opinion

“They paraded my panties around the courtroom like a banner of my guilt, my shame, and my horror”, a rape victim whispered. Victims of a “tragic rush to accuse” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper stated after dropping all charges and declaring three lacrosse players innocent of rape. “If you drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.”James Carville applying the nuts and sluts strategy to Paula Jones. Humiliating the victim was an all too common strategy designed to degrade the victim and deter reports of rape. Our Shock and Awe 24 hour news media ate it up and spit it out. Victims, targeted at every angle, slowly found strength and survivors of sexual violence worked tirelessly to establish safe havens and rights for victims. Today, all states and the federal government have passed laws to establish a set of victim’s rights to allow for certain protections, including but not limited to the right of information, the right to be treated with respect and dignity(no more panty parade), the right to apply for compensation, the right to a limited roll in the criminal justice process and the right to a speedy trial. On the flipside, the sixth amendment sets forth rights of the accused with guarantee a fair trial, the right of information, the right to legal counsel and the right to confront the witness to name a few. The rights of the accused are established in four out of the 10 constitutional amendments that make up the bill of rights. The judicial process is important to follow in order to respect and protect the rights of all parties, especially the tenuous rights of victims. Because these rights are so important it is imperative that we do not conflate the two parties and their position and create a social lynching or as Justice Thomas put it a “hi-tech lynching”. Relying on public opinion as to whether we follow process will only make victims less likely to come forward. Victims of sexual assault and or domestic violence are often shamed, belittled and terrorized and the last thing needed is to establish a precedence of a public trial where citizens shaped by their own experiences and agendas decide without fact or finding who is credible.

Politics have twisted these two sacrosanct rights, appealing to our individual moral compasses. Each side digging in passionately about their beliefs, fueling the political rhetoric, neither side right or wrong just inspired, but where does this moral subjective vigilante justice get us as a society.  Victims are re-victimized, and the social norm becomes “shout your mind.” If you believe it, it’s true regardless of the process. This blatant disregard for the judicial process is concerning because victim advocates have worked diligently for years to establish procedures and protections that remove the subjectiveness of individual conscience. No longer do we hear expressions that were once the norm “she wanted it” or “her skirt was too short.” Just as it morally wrong to victim blame, it is just as unconscionable to socially prosecute someone as a rapist without due process. When procedures are arbitrarily removed to suit specific agendas we open Pandora’s Box and potentially set back the rights of victims. It is disappointing that victims rights are being used to promote political agendas as the preservation of victim’s rights should be the top priority.

Sexual assault is a bigger issue than most people realize, yet still the most underreported crime. Recent headlines have brought more awareness to the trauma of sexual assault, and the gravity of sexual allegations. Rape is a violent crime, not at all sexual in nature. Rape is not about our skirt being too short or that we asked for it. Rape is sheer violence. Our legal system and our police departments are now armed with rape sensitivity kits, educated to utilize specific verbiage when questioning victims in an attempt to solicit memories and obtain facts. Our legal system no longer tolerates holding the victim’s underwear up in the courtroom with the implication that her whoreish ways provoked the attacker. Procedures now dictate judicial process protecting and providing safety for the victims and their families. Victims should never have to relocate or have death threats issued against them from their community because of a public relations “trial”. When we forego process we run the risk of setting back the rights of victims and once again silencing our voices. We cannot go back to the days of shaming victims.

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One in three women will be sexually assaulted. One in five will be raped and one in three will be the target of domestic violence. These statistics increase when children and even men are included. Sexual violence is a traumatic and life-altering vile crime. Weaponizing a victim’s testimony creates a time machine in which we are punted back 50 years and victims are called liars, and their motives and lifestyles judged with puritanical values while ignoring the motives of the rapist. In this age of polarization and #Metoo era, we cannot afford to take sides lawlessly and impose our opinions at will. More importantly, we cannot allow sexual assault cases to be tried in a court of public opinion, as our society did to Juanita Broderick just 30 years ago. We cannot go back in time and make assessments of guilt or innocence based on limited knowledge or how we as individuals feel. Victims must be protected and provided a safe space to share their story and seek justice, conversely if we desire to uphold victims rights we must respect judicial procedure for the accused.

This past month a woman was outed against her will, cross-examined and re-victimized. A woman who relied on her lawmakers to protect her, a woman who trusted these lawmakers to understand the specific procedures, respect her request for anonymity, and her rights as a victim. The bastardization of the judicial process, the polarizing response created by political power junkies only sets back and silences the voices of victims. Judicial due process and victims rights must not be warped into a one size fits all to advance personal agendas. As targets of violence and assault, WE rely on process to protect us and bring justice, therefore it is important to preserve the process for all. Public shaming and public humiliation based on “I feel he/she was telling the truth or I feel he/she was more credible” may aid in silencing our cause. Often victims know their accuser, especially children, and fear not only speaking their truth but fear for the well-being of the person who sexually violated them. The complications of sexual assault and abuse are extremely delicate and confusing, which is one of the many reasons we must adhere to proper procedure. Speaking out is difficult enough, let’s leave judgment and shame aside and respect victim’s rights and judicial process. Victim’s rights should not be a delicacy afforded to a few, but a tenable right for all.

Why don’t women come forward?

Fear of retaliation
Fear of not being believed by family or law enforcement
Self-blame and/or embarrassment
Fear of “not enough proof”
Shared custody of children
Fear of the justice system
Feel the crime wasn’t “serious enough”

https://www.pinnaclehealth.org

Reporting on Sexual Violence https://www.nsvrc.org

Victim’s Rights http://victimsofcrime.org

 

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Living Hell

“I have been thru a living hell in my 30 years of marriage. You all have walked this walk with me, some of you noticed and knew things were wrong, some of you were there first hand, some of you know why and how I have two daughters at this stage in my life. Yet, you never questioned me, never called me a liar. I love you all for that. You have stood by my side, there are those of you who are still in the deep of my life, still helping me to heal.  I paid a price with one man that I will NEVER pay with any other. ”

In the United States alone, thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband in the past year. Our reactions as bystanders vary from pretending not to notice, silent support, apathy to judgment. some of us are completely unaware of our neighbors or our friends’ struggle.

  • Women of all races are equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
  • On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or partners in this country every day.
  • Intimate partner violence a crime that largely affects women. In 1999, women accounted for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence.
  • On average, a woman will leave an abusive relationship seven times before she leaves for good.
  • Approximately 75% of women who are killed by their batterers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship.

The statistics are staggering and we can no longer ignore domestic violence. It is real. How can you help?  Support, not judgment. We don’t want to hear, “if a man hit me I’d do this” or “What is wrong with her that she stays”.  What we need, support.  “Yet, you never questioned me, never called me a liar. I love you all for that. You have stood by my side, there are those of you who are still in the deep of my life, still helping me to heal.

Thank you to my dear friend, Tanya, for allowing me to share a sliver of her journey.

http://www.domesticabuseshelter.org/infodomesticviolence.htm

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Power Of Coincidence

People come into your life for a reason, sometimes they pop in with a message, either subtly or in-your-face, and then they immediately leave your life. Others are there for a lifetime, weaving in and out and shaping who you are. It is no coincidence that angels appear at just the right time in our lives. These powerful personal coincidences are not spontaneous messengers but are messengers sent from a higher power. It is up to us to reflect on the message and ask ourselves what can we learn from the experience or this person.

Recently, I reconnected with a dear friend. Our friendship was omnipresent when our children were young. We spent countless hours together, sharing stories and experiences. We knew each other’s secrets and protected them. As with many friendships, however, our lives took us in different directions but our connection remained intact, ready to be reignited at a moments notice. Coincidently, or so it seemed, our paths crossed again at an airport. We both were traveling on the same flight and with another twist of fate, our flights were delayed. We spent 10 hours catching up and sharing the new details of our lives. It was a great day, but I questioned: “why after all of these years were we thrown together again”? What message was I to learn from our meeting?

We had talked about writing a love letter to our children. The love letter was not filled with the usual platitudes, compliments and “I love you’s”, but something more powerful. The letter was composed of three parts: I am sorry, Please forgive me, I love you. Her pen carried the message of her heart as she labored for a week writing. Her message of love, signed, stamped and sent. It was received with unexpected emotion, and it opened new lines of communication, love, and respect. I thought to myself, this is the message and I need to write my love letter.

Wiping the tears as I wrote my love letter, attachments to pain and guilt were being freed from my heart. The simple act of being so raw and vulnerable to my child was a little scary. We had been open before, but this was different, I was truly sorry for all the pain she endured and carried, whether I was the cause or not was inconsequential. Message sent and message received, or so I thought. Deepak Chopra teaches us that “coincidences are signals from the universe that can guide us to our true destiny.” The universe will continue to send the messages, and they will be bolder and bolder until we pay attention.

Fast forward, to a random stranger entering my life and, once more, by coincidence, our situation demanded we get to know each other and exchange knowledge. She was like a fount pouring forth information, from nutrition to spirituality. She sent me books, names of authors and photos. As we discussed the spirituality of letting go of judgment, attachment, and resentment we stumbled on the message of Ho’oponopono, the ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness, the spiritual and mental cleansing of the soul, of correcting the errors of thought. On the surface level, the philosophy is simply the living and repeating the mantra of “I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. This coincidental stranger completed the message. Finally, from our interaction, the full meaning of what I was supposed to learn was being revealed. “Nothing brings you peace, but your inner self” Ralph Waldo Emerson. The power of coincidence led me to discover we are all the sum of a whole, part of the universal conscience.

The story of connectivity is illustrated by Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, a psychologist who took a position in a mental facility inhabited by criminals in Hawaii. While the other doctors met and discussed strategy, he sat in his office with the files and photos of each of the residents and repeated the mantra of “I’m sorry, forgive me, thank you, I love you.” After four years 28 of the 30 patients were rehabilitated and released. The simplicity of ho’oponopono, in which the healing comes from within our own souls. We are all connected, share a universal conscious, there are no coincidences, just messages from the universe.

The love letter was only a small bit of the puzzle, without living ho’oponopono the letter was without depth. It wasn’t until the second messenger randomly entered my life that I began to dig further into the meaning of our meeting. Although my love letter was filled with emotion and tear-stained, my own purification and forgiveness were missing. Even Budha was amused when understood his purpose. His friends asked why he was laughing. He said, ” I am laughing because now I see the whole ridiculousness of my search. I have been searching for the lives together for truth and it has always been within me.” Reflecting on the premise that we are all connected and coincidence is divine positioning, purification starts within our own life and consciousness, that is the power of coincidence.

Everything comes to you at the right moment. Be patient.” anonymous

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Silence, the unspoken form of domestic abuse

Silence, the unspoken form of domestic abuse. Our silence allows the violence to become bolder. No longer could I  idly sit by and watch another suffer at the hands of an abuser or worse at the hands of friends who whispered, “Why does she stay?”, “I would leave him if he hit me”, or the worst one, “she must have deserved it”. When our loved ones turn their backs, belittle us verbally, physically and with severe neglect, what gives anyone the right to judge. Women who are physically abused, do not just suffer a black eye or bruises, most are victims of chronic emotional, financial or sexual abuse. They cautiously and silently seek refuge and strength from friends and family. When we carelessly, feel the need to empower ourselves with a false platitude like, “I’d just leave him” we send the message of shame on you. We send the message that the abused is weak, dumb and not worthy.

Today I read the written screams of a lifelong friend angry and hurt that her children watched as her husband, their father treated her with such violence and disrespect. They witnessed the abuse she thought she was hiding from them and yet they said nothing. How do you expect victims of abuse to be strong or just leave when so many loved ones sit silently and pretend a life of violence and infidelity are normal. Victims are often so filled with shame, that they try to hide, and cover for their abuser. It becomes a way of life. The cycle of violence continues right under all of our noses and we pretend. Actually, we embrace this warped normal, because we don’t want to get involved. We don’t want to recognize our own weakness that this could be us, because although so many profess false strength of “I’d never tolerate abuse”, we show our weakness by our silence. We don’t even have the strength to pull our loved one aside and let them know this is not alright and when they are ready we will be by their side.

Instead, we watch and in some cases, like my friend, we get the call, “I am sorry we watched the way dad treated you. Now it’s happening to me and I feel bad!” The cycle of abuse is not just perpetuated by abusers, silent bystanders, friends, and family facilitate the turning of the wheel of violence. Our silence teaches the next generation that this is how a victim shows love to the abuser. We protect them, after all, they have scars, they had a terrible childhood, if we just loved them more they would change  Sadly, our silence teaches our children how to be abused. Our silence assigns rights and excuses to the abuser, and tragicasounds_of_silence_by_astranat-d75x8sj  http://hopesrising.comlly, they somehow become the victims.

How is it we can watch abuse and normalize it until we ourselves are victims? Every 9 seconds a woman in the U.S. is a victim of domestic violence. 1 in 4 women are victims of domestic abuse. Three women are murdered every day by an intimate partner. In the United States, 4,774,000 women experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year. Each year, 2 million injuries and 1,300 injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused as a result of domestic violence. Three women are murdered every day by an intimate partner. Domestic violence is the 3rd leading cause of homelessness among families. So the next time you hear, “I’d just leave”, speak up, domestic violence thrives on our silence.

It is never too late to make a difference, with the simple phrase, “this is not your fault, I see what is happening and I am here when you are ready”. Get involved. If you see abuse, report it. If the ones who are merely watching the abuse are afraid, how do you expect the abused to have the greater strength? It is time to start being part of the solution and save a life. The life you save may be your own or someone you love dearly. Abusers target all types of women with varying social, economic and educational levels. Remember the next time you are at lunch with friends, at the store or wherever you may be, 1 in 4 women are victims. Do you have the strength to make a difference or will your silence continue to feed the violence?

http://act.liveyourdream.org

 

Posted in domestic violence, financial abuse, No fear, signs of domestic abuse, Surviving emotional abuse, Women's empowerment | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Message Of A Sociopath

Divorce is challenging, but divorcing a sociopath is terrifying, confusing and has long-lasting devastating effects.  Simply put, You were once the perfect mate and now you are the worst. This behavior you do not leave a sociopath, even if they leave you.  Their goal is to destroy you using any means possible, through financial measures, social connections, reputation and/or the ultimate weapon, your children. The message of a sociopath is you are all bad, the tainted one in the relationship. is called splitting and the sociopath is a master at it.
Recently, I stumbled across something that my ex had written to one of my children.  At a time when the message should have only been one of pride and support, it was the contrary, a chilling message filled with anger, lies, and hate. Each paragraph was about me and every reference to me articulated my name, not your mother, but my given name. It was weird at best. Normal conversation with your children, even in contentious divorces, is to say your mother… or your father…  The forced but deliberate verbal estrangement was not lost on me. The message was clearly defined if you have a relationship with Desiree you will not have one with me.

As I read and reread the hateful, insane paragraphs it filled me with a sadness but I finally truly understood the tremendous confusion my children go through daily and the price they pay to have a relationship with me their mother. To protect their privacy, I will not share the details.

As I began to meltdown, I shared my discovery with my father. His eyes widened as he read, his head shook in stunned disbelief and then sat for a brief second to digest what I had just thrust on him.  His first words were “he must have a miserable existence”. He advised me to just laugh off the craziness and let it go. With calm resolute, my father assured me that one day my children will see the truth or more accurately truly see their father for the man that he is. It is difficult as children when we take our parents off the pedestal and see them as people with flaws and more difficult when we see they have severe issues.

Sharing the information with my father brought me back to a time and space when I was the recipient of these  The stalking messages of I love you, I hate you, I’m watching you and I’ll get you literally came by the thousands. When the texts initially began my judgment was still clouded, however, as time progressed and I was away from the relationship I understood that the texts, calls, and emails were not normal by any standard.  They were sick and terrifying. Often I would let my close friend read them to confirm that I wasn’t crazy or overreacting. The more she read, she herself began to take precaution and encouraged me to do the same.  As a trained therapist, she recognized the instability and aggression in the messages.  She was afraid for herself and me. The gentle urging by her, my father and a handful of others to report the behavior to the police finally came to a head when I was on a business trip with my new job. The message was twisted and threated to hurt our youngest daughter, not physically but far more cruel.  I was shaken to the core and abandoned my job and flew home immediately. He had terrified me just days prior to this business trip, leaving a message on my phone stating our child was in the hospital barely alive and he’d fill me in when he was ready as to her status and location. As a mother this is the worst news you can possibly hear, I frantically called every hospital, my children to find where, what, only to receive a call from my daughter assuring me she was at her father’s house sleeping in the extra bedroom.  She was never in the hospital. In reality, he had come home drunk and full of venom and left a message to hurt and strike fear. Sick. When I stopped shaking and crying I realized that I could not take any more of this torture.  It was daily, I was living in fear, but still protecting him and keeping the abuse secret. He galavanted around town with phony tales of how much he loved me and how he wanted only to protect the mother of his children, when in fact he was terrorizing me. The police, detectives and the judges agreed. One even shared that I take extra precaution because these were the messages of a sociopath.  It was the first time I had heard the term but as time evolved not the last.

Occasionally, I receive a message directly from him meant to upset or strike fear, now the only emotion I feel is sadness. My heart breaks as I see the pain my children are feeling. I taught them to protect and accept this behavior for the sake of the family. I taught them that this was “our normal”. They are all adults now and I am confident that eventually their confusion and fear will resolve, boundaries will be created and our relationship will have a new depth and clarity.  As I wait I know it will be another 1st day of a different life.

Message of a Sociopath

The acrostic message is sickening.

abusive text messages 1stdaydiflife

3 Signs A Parent May Be A Sociopath

  • He or she emotionally harms others, including his children repeatedly, often seeming to do so on purpose.
  • After hurting another person, the sociopathic parent acts like it never happened and expects or requires the hurt one to pretend the same.
  • She lies or twists the truth or plays the victim in an attempt to deny or deflect responsibility. She freely manipulates people to get her way.https://drjonicewebb.com

 

 

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Battle on the Beach. Why women stay?

Imagine the sun warming your body, the sound of the ocean lulling your mind to the most peaceful tranquil state of existence, a cool drink quenching your yearning thirst, a warm breeze teasing the tiny hairs on your motionless body, the rawness of mother earth meditating through you bringing your mind and body close to a state of co-existence and peace. The merging of all senses, when abruptly your sense of sound is alerted to the voice of a friend saying in her Texas drawl, “….if a man hit me, I’d be out of there right quick”, “…no way would I let someone hit or abuse me.”  And suddenly, in a split second, I am ripped from my peace, my body tightens, the emotional wall fortifies, my mind returns to the place of judgment.

IMG_E3878 (1)

Nonchalantly, I slip into the conversation, without revealing my shame, my baggage, my heartbreak and tell her there are many reasons women stay in abusive situations. We stay out of fear, fear that others will know our dirty secret, fear that our children will know(even though they already know), fear we will lose our family, fear of judgment, fear of failing and not being able to provide for our children. We accept less because of shame. We are ashamed. Sometimes we have engaged in the abuse and that deepens our shame.

As my thoughts of shame and judgment find their comfortable shape in my mind, she re-iterates her statements. Her confidence and strength, re-birth feelings of guilt and mingle with judgment. It is frightening that feelings that I thought I discarded return so easily, and now fear was awakening. This need inside me stirred because I wanted her to understand her words of strength were resonating as a judgment. Her words cast aspersions that I was weak and pathetic. I wanted her to understand, but I didn’t want her to know. Even as I write this I don’t really want anyone to know the depth or the secrets of my personal journey. Afterall, a vulnerability in my world is the direct conduit to pain, deep emotional pain.

Quietly, without drawing too much attention that the conversation is personal to me, I state that we all make decisions with the information and with the feelings we have at that moment in time. Abuse is complicated. We all take different things from each relationship, and it is our humanitarian duty to provide a safe place without judgment for others who are trapped for whatever reason in abusive situations.

And as I abruptly as my peace was shaken, I quickly closed my eyes and feigned tranquility. Fighting the inner battle of my emotions, while desperately keeping my physical demeanor in check. As I pushed, the feelings of shame, judgment, guilt, and pain out of my psyche, I looked like all of the other carefree beachgoers. However, now I felt the intense heat of the sun, the cold drink now warm and unquenching, the waves thundered, each more bold and powerful and the once comforting warm breeze, now invaded my body without permission. A battle waged in my mind, but a new sentiment emerged. The new emotional comrade affirming that I found unity, even if briefly, and it is a privilege to help others find their peace. With this new emotional ally, my senses relaxed once more.

Common reasons people stay in abusive situations according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. http://www.thehotline.org

  • Fear: A person may be afraid of what will happen if they decide to leave the relationship.
  • Believing Abuse is Normal: A person may not know what a healthy relationship looks like, perhaps from growing up in an environment where abuse was common, and they may not recognize that their relationship is unhealthy.
  • Embarrassment or Shame: It’s often difficult for someone to admit that they’ve been abused. They may feel they’ve done something wrong by becoming involved with an abusive partner. They may also worry that their friends and family will judge them.
  • Low Self-Esteem: When an abusive partner constantly puts someone down and blames them for the abuse, it can be easy for the victim to believe those statements and think that the abuse is their fault.
  • Love: So often, the victim feels love for their abusive partner. They may have children with them and want to maintain their family. Abusive people can often be charming, especially at the beginning of a relationship, and the victim may hope that their partner will go back to being that person. They may only want the violence to stop, not for the relationship to end entirely.
  • Cultural/Religious Reasons: Traditional gender roles supported by someone’s culture or religion may influence them to stay rather than end the relationship for fear of bringing shame upon their family.
  • Language Barriers/Immigration Status: If a person is undocumented, they may fear that reporting the abuse will affect their immigration status. Also, if their first language isn’t English, it can be difficult to express the depth of their situation to others.
  • Lack of Money/Resources: Financial abuse is common, and a victim may be financially dependent on their abusive partner. Without money, access to resources or even a place to go, it can seem impossible for them to leave the relationship. This feeling of helplessness can be especially strong if the person lives with their abusive partner.
  • Disability: When someone is physically dependent on their abusive partner, they can feel that their well-being is connected to the relationship. This dependency could heavily influence their decision to stay in an abusive relationship.

https://www.freedomk9project.com

https://www.freedomk9project.com

 

 

 

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Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror, look at me

Show the woman that I see

Her eyes are soft, but they do not shine

Her mouth is full but does not speak

Her cheekbones high, her jaw clenched tight

Her rosy blush hides the fight

 

Mirror, Mirror, look at me1stdaydiflifemirror mirror

Show me the woman that I see

The swanlike neck holds an emotionless stare

Our eyes lock, the lids quietly lower

Your reflection has no depth

Our lips hold back the halted breath

 

Mirror, Mirror, look at me

Show me the woman that I see

I touch her cheek, she does not wince

I touch my cheek, it’s soft and wet

Strong and unwavering, unafraid to reflect

The years of physical and emotional neglect

 

Mirror, Mirror, look at me

Show me the woman that I see

My thoughts distort and distract

But I catch a glimpse, and long to gaze

Give me your strength, your resolve to see

The strong woman staring back at me

Desiree

 

 

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