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Monday, May 23, 2011

(WARNING: May trigger survivors) My response to Rep. DeGraf regarding his comments about rape

During debates about health insurance coverage, this idiot in Kansas (Rep. Pete DeGraaf) said that being impregnated during a rape is just like getting a flat tire, something women should be prepared for. Yes, really.  You can read about his stupidity here:
http://blogs.pitch.com/plog/2011/05/pete_degraaf_rape_flat_tire.php

DeGraaf's Web site lists his office number as 785-296-7693, his home phone as 316-777-0715 - that's at 1545 E. 119th St. Mulvane, KS - and his e-mail as pete.degraaf@house.ks.gov.
Now, after you've gotten good and angry you may want to make a phone call or write a letter. I know I did. I dialed his home number but hung up when the answering machine picked up. Which is probably a good thing because I was so angry I don't know what I would have said. So I sat down and started writing. Here is my response:


Dear Sir,
As a survivor of rape and sexual abuse I am appalled and disgusted at your callousness toward rape victims. Getting impregnated by rape is like getting a flat tire? Really? Just what the hell do you think rape is like? Because I can tell you. It's not a minor inconvenience that you should have planned for. No sir. It's being thrown down and ripped apart by someone you trusted, or a stranger, or your uncle, brother, father... even your pastor. It is being trapped in a motel room at 2am, too scared to move, knowing there's a payphone outside the door, but being too scared he'll hurt you again if you get up to call for help even though you think he's finally asleep. It's hating school vacations because you are trapped at home with your older brother. And the first chance he gets when your parents leave the house, he forces himself on you on the kitchen floor, and you have to mop up the blood with your own dress. It's going into the house of God and not feeling safe there because the one who preaches ever lasting life and love to you is also the one who forces himself on you when no one else is looking. But who would believe you? He's a man of God. It's years of therapy trying to erase the horror of the violations you survived, being afraid to walk anywhere alone at night.... being afraid to walk anywhere alone during the daytime, too. Being alone period. It's being suspicious of everyone you ever meet and afraid of never knowing or deserving love. It's feeling used, dirty, broken, disgusting, ugly. It's feeling like you will never ever feel whole again. It's living with shame, hatred, and fear day after day no matter how many times you talk to your therapist or how many pills you take. Is that what getting a flat tire feels like to you? Because if it does, I believe you need to seek psychiatric help. And if it doesn't, then I believe I have made my point.

Very sincerely and angrily,

(my name)
Survivor of Rape and Sexual Abuse
MSW candidate class of 2015


Now, I know it's a bit short, but I actually want him to read it. Also, I am still pretty f***ing angry and I'm lucky I got that much down coherently. Maybe I will write another letter tomorrow.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are you ready?

Providing we survive the Rapture this Saturday, will you be ready for Towel Day next Wednesday? Maybe if all us sinners have our towels at the ready on Saturday we'll be OK. *snerk*

Friday, May 13, 2011

30 DC - Day 30 (A bit late)

Sorry for the lateness of this post... I am a week behind butt (!) It's not all my fault... Spent much of the week recovering from a muscle strain in my back, and then Blogger was down for a bit and I couldn't log in... Another reason I am tardy on this post is that I wanted to do it right, and I had to take a pic of this pic since I didn't have it in my computer already. Ok, enough with the blah blah blah..... Onto the post...
Day 30- A picture of someone you miss.


This is my friend Jenn. She has been gone for 13 years now and I still miss her every day. We were friends for 20 years. We grew up in the same neighborhood, went to school together since kindergarten... she was like the sister I never had. There were good times and bad and a few years where we hardly saw each other at all. But by the time we hit 20 we were both back in the old neighborhood and spending most days together again. When I graduated from college (the first time) she took me out drinking - I'd never really drunk before, and definitely not in a bar. We spent many summer nights on my mother's porch drinking wine and talking about literature, philosophy, religion, politics... We disagreed on half the things we talked about but there was never any hard feelings. I know she had deep wounds from things she never talked about, but she didn't have to. I understood. We had a silent bond that no one else shared with us. She was a beautiful soul. She cared about animals more than anyone else I've ever met. She was vegan years before it became popular - sorry, hipsters, you were not the first. She gave me my first taste of vegan cheese - I hated it. I told her I could not be vegan simply on the grounds that I loved real dairy too much. She laughed and shook her head - then helped me polish off a box of Kraft mac & cheese - which, I reminded her, was not vegan. She bent the rules for me a bit.
I saw her only hours before she died, and I had no idea that it would be our very last conversation, our very last hug, our very last "wine & whine" session, as we liked to call them. I've always been a huggy person, but Jenn was my opposite. She didn't show a lot of outward affection towards people, although she was always loving on the animals. But I think people had hurt her too much. Every once in a while she would give me the one-armed-lean-in-hug, but she really wasn't big on PDA's. But that last night, before leaving my house, she hugged me and said "I love you" as she walked out the door. To my recollection she'd never said that out loud to me. I didn't think anything of it until the next day when I found out she had had a car accident in the middle of the night and hadn't survived. My mother told me. I didn't believe it at first, I had just seen her 10 hours ago, and then I collapsed and cried as my mother held me. And then I remembered her last words to me... "I love you". A gift from the Universe, that was. What I learned from that was to never hold back how you feel about someone. If you love someone, tell them, because it may be the last words you ever share with them. You never know.

Friday, May 6, 2011

30 DC - Day 29

Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.


Pure joy! Need I say more?


Thursday, May 5, 2011

30 DC - Day 28

Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.


My grandfather had COPD. He died a little over a year ago, gasping for breath. I don't remember him smoking, I honestly don't know when he quit, but he did smoke for years. I smoked off and on for 25 years. I managed to quit for a few years, stealing the occasional smoke a few times a year. I started up again 2 years ago and immediately started having breathing problems. The thought of struggling to breathe, of not being able to breathe, terrifies me. I put down my cigarettes the day before Thanksgiving 2010. I did sneak a few in the first 2 months, being around friends who smoke was just too hard. But as soon as I started having asthma attacks again I quickly strengthened my resolve and have not gone back. Thankfully, the smell of cigarette smoke now makes me sick to my stomach, which helps when I feel tempted. I hope I never go back to smoking. Even more than that I hope I never have to experience what my Grandpa did.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

30 DC - Day 27

Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.



This is me and my furry boy Brady. He is most definitely a part of my family. I adopted him when he was 3 months old. That was 10 years ago. Brady has seen me through 5 moves, a string of break-ups, and countless sleepless nights and bad body days. He always knows when I don't feel well and sleeps next to me most nights. He is always by my side when I'm laid up with a migraine or body pain. He even has his own pillow on the couch so he can sit next to me when I'm watching TV. He is my furry child, cuddle buddy, and the best listener I know.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

30 DC - Day 26

Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.


Elephants were my friend Jenn's favorite animal. When she died I saw elephants everywhere and it was as if she were saying "Hey! I'm still around you!" Years later, on a cold day in January 2004, I kissed Oakheart for the first time. Not only was it romantic, passionate, and utterly lovely, but I had an experience that was quite new and odd - in my mind flashed a picture of 2 elephants in the Serengeti walking together, trunks reaching out and touching each other. It wasn't until later that I learned Oaky had the same experience. And later still that I realized that that all happened on the 6th anniversary of Jenn's death. Whatever that may mean (and I have my theories), elephants have since become a part of the story of Oakheart & Jo. For our first Yule together, Oaky got me a pair of hand carved wooden elephants, complete with tusks. The smaller one (representing me) even lost those tusks around the same time I had my wisdom teeth removed. We have since collected a small herd of pachyderms, some wooden, some ceramic, some stone, some plush stuffies. Another year Oaky presented me with the cutest pair of tiny delicate sterling silver elephant earrings, which I wear quite often. Elephant paraphernalia abounds - to the point where some friends have started giving me elephant gifts because they've noticed my fascination with them. I have jewelry, candle holders, a throw blanket/tapestry, even a pair of salt and pepper shakers which fit together, trunks entwined. The elephants have come to symbolize the enduring love Oaky and I have for each other. A love that never forgets.

Monday, May 2, 2011

30 DC - Day 25

Day 25 - A picture of your day.


SPRING CLEANING!!!! And now my back is very angry with me. But the place looks good. Thanks to my Oaky for helping me out, I never would have been able to do it by myself.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

30DC - Day 24

Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change.



U.S. STATISTICS
Fact #1: 17.6 % of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape. Of these, 21.6% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 32.4% were between the ages of 12 and 17. (Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, November, 2000)
Fact #2: 64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date. (Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, November, 2000)
Fact #3: Only about half of domestic violence incidents are reported to police. African-American women are more likely than others to report their victimization to police Lawrence A. Greenfeld et al. (1998). (Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends. Bureau of Justice Statistics Factbook. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice. NCJ #167237. Available from National Criminal Justice Reference Service.)
Fact #4: The FBI estimates that only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.
Fact #5: In the National Violence Against Women Survey, approximately 25% of women and 8% of men said they were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date in their lifetimes. The survey estimates that more than 300,000 intimate partner rapes occur each year against women 18 and older. (Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, November, 2000)
Fact #6: The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years (Fisher 2000).
Fact #7: Men perpetrate the majority of violent acts against women (DeLahunta 1997).
Fact #8: Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) calculation based on 2000 National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice)
Fact #9: One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. (Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998)
Fact #10: Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% - one out of twenty - of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 19 out of 20 will walk free. (Probability statistics based on US Department of Justice Statistics)
Fact #11: Fewer than half (48%) of all rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (DOJ 2001).
Fact #12: Sexual violence is associated with a host of short- and long-term problems, including physical injury and illness, psychological symptoms, economic costs, and death (National Research Council 1996).
Fact #13: Rape victims often experience anxiety, guilt, nervousness, phobias, substance abuse, sleep disturbances, depression, alienation, sexual dysfunction, and aggression. They often distrust others and replay the assault in their minds, and they are at increased risk of future victimization (DeLahunta 1997).
Fact #14: According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, more than 260,000 rapes or sexual assaults occurred in 2000; 246,180 of them occurred among females and 14,770, among males (Department of Justice 2001).
Fact #15: Sexual violence victims exhibit a variety of psychological symptoms that are similar to those of victims of other types of trauma, such as war and natural disaster (National Research Council 1996). A number of long-lasting symptoms and illnesses have been associated with sexual victimization including chronic pelvic pain; premenstrual syndrome; gastrointestinal disorders; and a variety of chronic pain disorders, including headache, back pain, and facial pain (Koss 1992).Between 4% and 30% of rape victims contract sexually transmitted diseases as a result of the victimization (Resnick 1997).
Fact #16: More than half of all rapes of women occur before age 18; 22% occur before age 12. (Full Report of the Prevalance, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, November, 2000)
Fact #17: In 2000, nearly 88,000 children in the United States experienced sexual abuse (ACF 2002).
Fact #18: About 81% of rape victims are white; 18% are black; 1% are of other races. (Violence Against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)
Fact #19: About half of all rape victims are in the lowest third of income distribution; half are in the upper two-thirds. (Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)
Fact #20: According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS), a national survey of high school students, 7.7% of students had been forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to. Female students (10%) were significantly more likely than male students (5%) to have been forced to have sexual intercourse. Overall, black students (10%) were significantly more likely than white students (7%) to have been forced to have sexual intercourse (CDC 2002).
Fact #21: Females ages 12 to 24 are at the greatest risk for experiencing a rape or sexual assault (DOJ 2001).
Fact #22: Almost two-thirds of all rapes are committed by someone who is known to the victim. 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger (— 38% of perpetrators were a friend or acquaintance of the victim, 28% were an intimate and 7% were another relative.) (National Crime Victimization Survey, 2005)
Fact #23: The costs of intimate partner violence against women exceed an estimated $5.8 billion. These costs include nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical care and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity and present value of lifetime earnings. (Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Atlanta, Georgia, March 2003).
Fact #24: Domestic violence occurs in approximately 25-33% of same-sex relationships. (NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, October 1996.)
Fact #25: Boys who witness their fathers' violence are 10 times more likely to engage in spouse abuse in later adulthood than boys from non-violent homes. (Family Violence Interventions for the Justice System, 1993)
Fact #26: An estimated 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually for sexual exploitation or forced labor. (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 2000)
Fact #27: Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds. (UN Study On The Status of Women, Year 2000)
Fact #28: A University of Pennsylvania research study found that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to low-income, inner-city Philadelphia women between the ages of 15 to 44 - more common than automobile accidents, mugging and rapes combined. In this study domestic violence included injuries caused by street crime.
Fact #29: Following the Supreme Court's decision in 2000 to strike down the civil-rights provision of the Federal Violence Against Women Act (ruling that only states could enact such legislation), only two states in the country (Illinois and California) have defined gender-based violence, such as rape and domestic violence, as sex discrimination, and created specific laws that survivors can use to sue their perpetrators in civil court. (Kaethe Morris Hoffer, 2004).
Fact #30: A study reported in the New York Times suggests that one in five adolescent girls become the victims of physical or sexual violence, or both, in a dating relationship. (New York Times, 8/01/01)
Fact #31: At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are "missing" from various populations, mostly in Asia, as a result of sex-selective abortions, infanticide or neglect. (UN Study On The Status of Women, Year 2000)
Fact #32: Globally, at least one in three women and girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. (UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2/28/00)
Fact #33: A recent survey by the Kenyan Women Rights Awareness Program revealed that 70% of those interviewed said they knew neighbors who beat their wives. Nearly 60% said women were to blame for the beatings. Just 51% said the men should be punished. (The New York Times, 10/31/97)
Fact #34: 4 million women and girls are trafficked annually. (United Nations)
Fact #35: An estimated one million children, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each year (UNICEF)
Fact #36: A 2005 World Health Organization study reported that nearly one third of Ethiopian women had been physically forced by a partner to have sex against their will within the 12 months prior to the study. (WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence Against Women, 2005)
Fact #37: In a study of 475 people in prostitution from five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia):
62% reported having been raped in prostitution.
73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution.
92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately.
(Melissa Farley, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire, Ufuk Sezgin, "Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder" (1998) Feminism & Psychology 8 (4): 405-426)

Fact #38: The most common act of violence against women is being slapped—an experience reported by 9% of women in Japan and 52% in provincial Peru. Rates of sexual abuse also varies greatly around the world—with partner rape being reported by 6% of women from Serbia and Montenegro, 46% of women from provincial Bangladesh, and 59% of women in Ethiopia. (WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women, 2005)
Fact #39: So-called "honour killings" take the lives of thousands of young women every year, mainly in North Africa, Western Asia and parts of South Asia. (UNFPA)
Fact #40: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that 2002 saw a 25% increase in “honor killings” of women, with 461 women murdered by family members in 2002, in 2 provinces (Sindh and Punjab) alone. (Pakistan Human Rights Commission, 2002)
Fact #41: More than 90 million African women and girls are victims of female circumcision or other forms of genital mutilation. (Heise: 1994)
Fact #42: In eastern and souther Africa, 17 to 22% of girls aged 15 to 19 are HIV-positive, compared to 3 to 7% of boys of similar age. This pattern—seen in many other regions of the world—is evidence that girls are being infected with HIV by a much older cohort of men. (UNICEF/UNAIDS 2007)
Fact #43: : A 2005 study reported that 7% of partnered Canadian women experienced violence at the hands of a spouse between 1999 and 2004. Of these battered women, nearly one-quarter (23%) reported being beaten, choked, or threatened with a knife or gun. (Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2005)
Fact #44: In Zimbabwe, domestic violence accounts for more than 60% of murder cases that go through the high court in Harare. (ZWRCN)
Fact #45: a study in Zaria, Nigeria found that 16 percent of hospital patients treated for sexually transmitted infections were younger than 5. (UNFPA)