March 22, 2006
Survivor Aid--Dream to Reality
Haullie Free, who commented on the last post about her upcoming documentary project, Voices of Strength also worked on the music CD, Mindful Lullabies. It features artists such as Jen Woodhouse, Jason Spooner and Amy Fix and can be purchased here, at Cafepress. All of the proceeds from the sale of this CD go to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Haullie says some of these artists may be interested in performing for Survivor Aid. Yeah!
I've been visiting the PostSecret blogspot to view Frank Warren's depression and suicide awareness project. The postcard secrets are moving. An art exhibit like this could be a powerful addition to the art aspect of Survivor Aid. I plan on contacting Mr. Warren.
I also just heard about Michael C. Irving's Child Abuse Survivor Monument. Hey, Holly and Survivor--this is a Canadian project. The goal is to have the monument tour Canada. Maybe we can bring it to the US and other countries as well.
And for our film festival, I'm researching more and more films made by and for survivors. At Leah's Life--Survivor-Thriver blogspot, I found out about Nancy Schwartzman's film, Between Us. Thanks, Leah! We might also want to add Allison Anders' Things Behind the Sun and the movie, Speak that was created from Laurie Halse Anderson's book.
Let's keep these ideas coming! One final point for this post--I want to make it clear that my vision is not to exclude male survivors. I believe their need for awareness is even greater than for women. I put up a few male survivor ideas on the previous post. Any other ideas out there? Please comment and add them. If you've commented here and expressed an interest in being a part of Survivor Aid, you will be receiving a personal e-mail from me soon.
March 16, 2006
Survivor Aid for Rape & Abuse Awareness
But, it's something we still don't talk about much. This heinous abuse of other human beings--of children--is something we turn away from and pretend doesn't happen. Yet, it's happening all around us. No one is immune. Girls, boys, men and women--even babies--are being molested, raped, beaten and battered, often in their own homes.
I want to stop thinking about it and start some action! Yeah, let's blow this thing wide open. Why can't we? What I want is something huge, that nobody can deny. I want a Farm Aid-type concert. Let's get some more celebrities involved in this. Let's get Tori Amos, Carlos Santana, Axl Rose and Mary J. Blige to play and sing their hearts out for their fellow survivors.
Do you know, back in 1985, the first Farm Aid concert raised over $7 million? Let's raise more than that for abuse and assault awareness, prevention and intervention. Let's combine our Farm Aid-type concert with a film festival. We can get Angela Shelton to come as we show Searching for Angela Shelton. What about Celesta Davis' Awful Normal and Ethan Delavan's Stories of Silence? Maybe Lifetime Television would release For the Love of a Child for us.
What else can we incorporate for this mega awareness aid event? I'd like to see an event that's like Farm Aid, The Sundance Film Festival, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, The AIDS Memorial Quilt and a huge awareness exhibit "trade" show all rolled into one.
We could probably get some survivor art projects like The Clothesline Project, "The Show of Hands" and Nobuko's photo project, "The Faces of Rape and Sexual Abuse Survivors" to join in. A summer, month-long event in West Virginia, called "Healing Through Creativity" is already planned to combine workshops, readings, performances and art exhibits for survivor awareness. But, why not get some famous celebrities and performers to help out?
How 'bout a poetry reading by Maya Angelou? Athletes like Laveraneus Coles and Chris Witty (Olympic speedskater) could lend a hand. Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, Marilyn VanDerbur (former Miss America) and Oprah Winfrey could lend their famous faces and names. Can you imagine the money and awareness we could raise if Oprah got involved? And why not Teri Hatcher herself?
Maybe we could have performances by actor/writer Martin Moran (The Tricky Part) and Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues). Naturally, for the art exhibit entity, we'd need some works of art. Does anyone know any famous artists who are also abuse/assault survivors? Of course, we would ask for entries from any and all survivors. My main thrust, however, is celebrities, famous people, recognizable faces who can really put a face on this epidemic and dispel the stigma. The goal is to really get people talking about it.
Any ideas on where the funding should go? The first three organizations that came to my mind are: Childhelp USA, www.childhelpusa.org, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), www.rainn.org, and Equality Now, www.equalitynow.org. But, I don't want this to be a women's issue. If there's an area that surely needs more awareness, it's the issue of male survivors of sexual abuse and assault. Does anyone out there have a good candidate for an organization that's helping male survivors? Leave a comment and let me know.
Also leave me a comment to add to the list of famous (living, of course) celebrities, athletes and performers who are survivors of rape, child abuse and child sexual abuse. And if you know of any movers and shakers who you'd consider "friends" or supporters of survivors, let me know who they are as well. I've thought of Andrew Vachss. You can view his site here. I've also thought of Meryl Streep and Marisa Tomei (Equality Now spokeswomen) and Teri Polo and Peri Gilpin who played Childhelp USA co-founders in the Lifetime movie, For the Love of a Child. Any other ideas? How 'bout more ideas for worthy survivor causes?
You say I'm a dreamer? I'm not the only one, am I?
Leave your ideas, inspirations and insights on a comment. Let's get this list going! By the way, does anyone know any influential folks who could help us get such a dream started toward reality? I've met Angela Shelton and Marilyn VanDerbur. Angela's pretty busy touring with her movie. Hmm, I don't know. Anybody know anyone who'd really get passionate about this? Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts.
March 10, 2006
Celeb Speaks Out As CSA Survivor
What prompted Hatcher to come out of her hiding is learning that another of her uncle's victims--a 14-year-old--had committed suicide. With the TV star's testimony, Richard Hayes Stone pleaded guilty to four counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Without Hatcher, the case against Stone would probably have been dismissed.
Hatcher told her Vanity Fair interviewer that the conviction made her feel validated. She blames the "victim thing" for making her ask herself if she was just crazy and making things up.
When Hatcher was eight or nine years old--after her uncle had already been abusing her for three or four years--she went "ballistic" at the mention of him coming over to the family house for dinner. Though the topic was never discussed, Hatcher's parents "removed" her from the situation. The girl never saw her uncle after that. Though she was protected from the pedophile from then on, Hatcher blamed herself for the abuse. Probably at least in part because, as she says, "Nobody wanted to talk about it."
It's precisely because nobody wants to talk about it that I applaud survivors like Teri Hatcher. What I truly want to see now are more celebs coming forward and admitting that they, too, were sexually assaulted or abused as children. We know that there are many, many survivors out there. There must be, with a statistic like one in three girls and one in six boys sexually abused by the age of 18 in the US. Some celebrities have come forward, but not many.
Let's blow this thing wide open, once and for all. Let's lose the stigma and the shame that's being attached to the survivors, and place it firmly where it belongs--on the perpetrators.
March 07, 2006
A Show of Hands for CSA Survivors
Like me, Jodi is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Jodi's idea is to see a show of hands of everyone who has been affected by CSA. If you'd like to be included in her project (which will be part of a touring art exhibit sometime in the future) you can contact Jodi and request one of two types of handprint kits. They are both free of charge. The first type involves a photochemical process that uses the sun to create an image of your hand (it must be kept in the sun for 20 minutes). The second type uses ink and is more like a fingerprint for your entire hand.
Survivors can add artwork or words of their own to the image of their hand. I am requesting a handprint kit for myself and am arranging to do the handprints as a project for the incest survivor support group I belong to. Jodi is also asking for survivor stories to go along with the handprints in her exhibit. You can write a poem or a full narrative of your story to be included.
Jodi lives in Wilmington, DE and will be offering some opportunities for locals to add handprints in person at various workshops and events she plans on attending in the near future. The last survivor opportunity I want to make you aware of is the fact that Jodi will be printing all of the poems, prints and stories on handmade paper. Get this: The paper will be made out of survivor clothing. So, if you've got a 100% cotton piece of clothing you'd like to see go into the paper, contact Jodi and add that, too.
March 01, 2006
Sexual Abuse Survivors--Today is Self-Injury Awareness Day
I'm writing a new section of my survivor story. What a journey it has been. "What a long, strange trip it's been," the Grateful Dead sang. Indeed, it has been. I've started a new page on my website, www.survivorscanthrive.com, called "Strange Trip." You can find it under "My Story."
Since today is Self-Injury Awareness Day, I guess it's time to come clean about my own experience with SI. I have only indulged in this particular form of harming myself a handful of times. It's been the same every time. Always on the alert for any visible sign that might prove to others that I'm crazy, I've kept it well-hidden. I've always been afraid that someone's going to find out that I'm just as whacko as my father and lock me away. Therefore, I have never cut. I have always scratched and I've always done it somewhere that would not be very noticeable.
Hell, while we're discussing things that I'm ashamed of, I might as well weave my SI story into the time when I felt like I was abandoning my son. You see, during the most intense phases of my recovery work--when I was doing trauma processing with my therapist twice a week--I needed to have a safe place to get away and stay. I was sleeping at an extended stay suite at the time. I had my reasons for doing this.
My son, who has always been a very intense child, has sensory integration dysfunction. This leads to a lot of discomfort with strong reactions such as loud crying, screeching and yelling. During this period, this type of behavior from my son would launch me into full-blown flashbacks where I was witnessing the horror of my beloved, little twin sister being tortured and there was nothing I could do about it. At this time, my son's screams became the pleading, begging and whimpering of my sister. I just had to have a place of escape, where I could get grounded and keep safe.
During my time in the suite, I got a lot of therapy homework and exercises done, as well as much reading, research and writing of my book. (It will be published some day.) It was a productive time. It was also an excruciatingly lonely time for me.
One day, I felt particularly lonely and unloved. It happened to be my birthday. I was going to go to the house for a visit later on in the evening of my birthday anyway, so I decided to drive down a bit early. I remembered that my husband and my son had a play to go to or some such event. But, I reasoned, I could visit and play with my son and while they'd be gone, I could hang out, use the Internet access and celebrate when they returned.
When I arrived, I let myself into the house and announced, "Hey, I'm here!" No response. The house was very quiet, but I knew somebody was home. I peered into the kitchen. There were my husband and son sitting at the kitchen table. David appeared to be giving our son another lecture. They both looked up at me, but neither offered a greeting or got up to meet me. I could almost hear my heart drop, "Clunk!"
I glanced around the kitchen. There were no flowers, wrapped presents, balloons, or cute, little hand-made things from my young son. Nothing. I pretended I needed to go to the bathroom. I looked further around the house. I feigned thirst. I looked in the fridge. Nope. No cake in there either. There were no signs to indicate that they had any birthday celebrating planned. What?! Had they forgotten that it was my birthday? I felt lower than low. I felt completely unloved, alone and unlovable.
I went and hid in the bathroom (I did this a lot in my heavy dissociation days). I stayed there while the guys left for their event. Maybe they would grab some flowers and a little cake from the grocery store while they were out. No! I decided that would be too little, too late. I began to scream at myself while I hit myself in the head with the heel of my hand (another form of SI). "Stupid!" I yelled. "I am stupid and nobody loves me!" I decided I didn't want my son to see me go psycho. I also felt sure that he was better off without me.
I ran for the car and sped away. Luckily, this time, I did not run away; I didn't have to (my husband was paying for the hotel, my safe place). I went straight back to my little lonely suite. I did not bother to turn on any lights. I went into the bedroom and flung myself onto the floor in a dark, safe corner. There I stayed for a long time, curled up in the fetal position and rocking myself. I didn't want to feel anything. I wanted to disappear.
But, the negative self-talk that went on in my head was ruthless. The dark, the rocking, the safe corner, nothing could keep it at bay. It kept repeating mean things like, "Nobody loves you. You're not worth loving. You don't deserve to be happy."
After an unknown amount of time passed, I began to scratch. I found a place on my neck, under my hair and just below the hairline. I scratched rhythmically as I continued to rock myself. I scratched and scratched until I felt the warm, wet blood on my fingertips. "There, see?" I told myself. "I do bleed. I am alive. I matter...at least this much." This seemed to make the ruthless chatter subside.
After a while, I got up out of my corner to go to the bathroom. I turned on the light and saw the dried blood crusted under my fingernails. I immediately felt ashamed and shitty about myself. But, it was still better than how I had felt before I drew blood from my neck.
This was my last SI incident. It was over two years ago. This is my first detailed communication about it. I tried to tell someone about the SI once when I was hospitalized for my PTSD, but the person didn't take the time to listen. I looked at the note in my chart. It said, "Breaks her fingernails." I wanted to scream at this imbecile, "No! I use my fingernails to scratch my skin until I bleed!" I felt unheard and invalidated. I never attempted to broach the SI subject again.
Fortunately, the trauma processing I've done over the last couple of years seems to have targeted some of the old feelings of being worthless and invisible. I think that has carried over to my SI because I've had no temptation at all to do it. I hope that temptation never comes back.
Here are those SI links I promised. Two of the largest SI resources on the web are from the UK. The Self-Injury International Internet Service, www.siari.com.uk, says its the "largest self-injury resource on the web." Life SIGNS, www.lifesigns.org.uk, offers self-injury guidance and network support.
At the website www.psyke.org, you can find an SI forum with over 4,000 registered users. You can also post personal stories and poetry there. Recover Your Life, www.recoveryourlife.com, has an even larger forum, with over 7,000 members. This site offers live chat and live assistance and a first aid guide. You can also post biographies, artwork, photos, poetry and lyrics there.
I do not see self-injury as being the same thing as attempts at suicide. This suicide prevention site, however, has a large SI resource area. The organization is called Befrienders at www.befrienders.org. Their motto: "Reduce suicide worldwide with 31,000 volunteers in 40 countries." Suicide is an issue for survivors, whether they self-harm or not. So, I post this site here.
Copyright 2006 Marj McCabe ~ All Rights Reserved