March 31, 2009
I chose this for my caption: Children are adorable, precious, innocent...and wanting to be wanted.
Unwanted Child - by Marj aka Thriver on Polyvore.com
March 27, 2009
Free The Slaves!
I was definitely a sex slave to my father. If I did not perform one of my "job duties" to his satisfaction, punishment (torture) was swift, cruel and inhumane.
Even before I retrieved the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse, I always remembered the verbal abuse, physical abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, etc. I have always felt like my birth guaranteed my parents free slave labor.
With my mother, it was free domestic labor. My sister and I would stand on chairs, as we had the sole responsibility of the family dish washing starting at age seven. We were not yet old enough to reach the kitchen sink. I got so good at scouring toilets, scrubbing bathtubs and mopping floors, that by age 11 I decided to farm out my cleaning skills to the neighbors and I actually got paid for it.
After my parents divorced, the duties I was expected to perform for my mother increased. Her two favorites were forcing me to give her foot massages and rubbing her head when she had a headache (which was daily).
You may call these childhood memories "incest," "parentification," "not age-appropriate" or simply, "chores."
What these memories feel like to me--then and now--adds up to pure slavery. I had no freedom. I had no choice. I had no means of escape.
It seems to me that, when we think of slavery on a large scale, we think of The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. We think of Africans being shipped across the ocean, sold, forced to do menial labor, beaten, whipped and treated as less than human--treated as animals, or even below animals. Many of us in the US think of Abraham Lincoln, The Civil War, and The Emancipation Proclamation of 1862.
We think it's over.
Indeed, slavery is illegal world-wide. But, it's far from over. In fact, as the United Nations recognized its International Day of Remembrance of The Victims of Slavery on Wednesday, March 25, it reminded us that some 100 milli0n Africans were forced into slavery in the 200 years of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Today, FTS--Free The Slaves--estimates that 27 million people are enslaved at the present time.
Folks, that's Right Now!
Have you heard this statistic about modern-day slavery? Think you heard wrong? Well, have you heard any of these terms: child labor, exploitation, trafficking, sexual slavery, child soldiers? These are all forms of modern-day slavery. If you go to the Unicef website, at www.unicef.org, you will find a whopping 22 pages of related articles on modern-day slavery, sprinkled with the terms I've mentioned above.
Since many of us haven't thought of slavery since our US history classes in school, let's do a refresher on the definition of slavery. FTS defines slaves as being "forced to work without pay under threat of violence and unable to walk away." Think this is something that only happens on some remote island, far, far away? FTS provides a glogal map of modern slavery occurrence. There, the US is highlighted prominently, along with China, Russia, India and South American and African countries. Each country/region gets categorized as "slave labour used both internally and exported" or "receiver of slave labour and products."
Here are some statistics you may not know, from the FTS "Top 10 Facts About Modern Slavery:"
- At least 14,500 slaves are trafifcked into the United States each year
- Slaves work in fields, mines, brothels, restaurants...even homes
- Slave owners use many words to avoid the term slavery, such as "debt bondage," and "bonded labor"
- Around the world, the average cost to turn a human into a slave is only $90
FTS believes that we could totally end slavery within 25 years. But we must educate ourselves about the problem. We must raise awareness. Below, I've listed a couple more sites that you can visit to educate yourself about modern-day slavery and raise your own awareness. If you want to help us raise awareness in the blogosphere, go to Bloggers Unite.
- While FTS is a movement/charity in the US, Anti-Slavery is international
- Justice Sunday is this Sunday, March 29. Get details at UUSC, The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
March 20, 2009
March 18, 2009
Doormat No More!
Boundaries. Limits. Self-respect. Assertiveness. Confidence. Self-Esteem. They all seem quite interrelated. I'm sure these are all concepts that anyone who has felt like they have "victim" stamped on their forehead has struggled with. I know I have.
I remember it like it was yesterday: "Work on your self-esteem!" was the battle cry at the after-care program I was attending after my first big stint in the psych ward of a hospital. I guess they figured that anyone who had been suicidal needed to work on their self-confidence.
This was before the retrieval of most of my childhood sexual abuse memories. This was before the onslaught of PTSD, with its flashbacks, nightmares and terrifying moments spent huddled against a firm, safe wall in the fetal position. This was way before I knew about parts, "splintering," and my severe dissociative disorder. I guess I just wasn't ready yet for an overhaul of my self-esteem.
But it's an important topic and survivor issue. I don't think I did much--not right away, anyway--with the books I shelved and the notes I took on the topic. But, I do think I took a lot of baby steps toward assertiveness over the years. Those baby steps have added up and I can now look back and see that I have gotten quite far!
Just the other day I had a run-in with some fellow dog owners who were allowing their two large-breed canines to trample and urinate all over my flower garden. They were belligerent, rude and all up in my face with a "it's no big deal, lady" attitude. On top of it all, these folks were construction workers who were at my neighbor's new house to install some hardwood floors. Were they being paid to be rude to their customer's neighbor? Hell, no!
I stood my ground, stayed safe and immediately called my neighbor who came right over and told them to get those dogs out of there and never bring them back. Yay, little ol' assertive me!
Was it as simple as I've just described? No. Are you kidding? I have a bunch of wounded, inner parts, remember? Man, did I get some little part action!
This scared me at first. It seemed so over the top for the situation I had just encountered. But, as many of us child abuse survivors know, it's not always about the now, it's about the past...especially the unresolved, traumatic past.
I lost control and ended up hiding in the dark, safe closet for a while. Sometimes I just give in to this. After a while, when nobody ends up coming to drag us out of there by the hair, I can convince all myselves that we're safe now. But, that wasn't the end of it. There were a lot of tears; terrified sobs, really. As much as it scared me, I looked in the mirror during this time. What I saw was a desperate, terrorized little girl. Yeah, that wounded little one got triggered alright.
I spent the rest of the day validating the tears, fears, terror and despair while trying not to get "flooded" by the dug-up emotions. I interspersed feeling these feelings with lots of comfort techniques. I did anything I could think of to just comfort and soothe that scared, wounded part of me.
This is one of the few times I can think of when I was assertive and felt the feelings in an appropriate way. I think this is progress. My therapist thought so, too. I guess I have come a long way. I think my doormat status has evolved into something much healthier. I wrote a poem about it.
Doormat No More
I have always
been a doormat.
But, the dirt
that's been scraped
from the throng
of careless boots
seems to have contained
a few viable seeds.
My once barren mat
seedlings of assertiveness.
At first, only
tentative, tender shoots
barely poke through
the trampled earth.
Then, saplings of self-respect
reach for the sun:
boundaries, affirmations and
the ability to say "no."
I am growing
hybrids of strength
into a mighty grove
Copyright 2009, Marj McCabe ~ All rights reserved.
March 13, 2009
Telling the Secret at the 22nd Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse
March 12, 2009
Quote of the Day
"The solution to sexual violence in America is not more laws, more guns, more police, or more prisons. The solution to sexual violence is the acceptance of reality."
~ Gavin De Becker
Today is a therapy day. So, I'm off to do the seemingly-endless and oh-so-fun work!
March 05, 2009
Lucky You: You Can Be a Part of our March Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse
Our host this month is RR--Rising Rainbow-- over at My Clouds, My Storms, and Multiple Personality Disorder. When she realized that the carnival would fall on Friday the 13th, she had this to say:
"The theme of this carnival will be 'telling the secret'...I guess my reasoning behind this theme had to do with the Friday the 13th date of the carnival. With the superstitious nature of the date, it reminded me of all of the messages there are around "telling" in the first place. From there it was an easy leap for me to 'let's talk about telling the secret.'"
Of course, you do not have to submit a blog post that follows the theme of this edition at all. As usual, we will have our regular categories of Advocacy & Awareness, Aftermath, Healing & Therapy, In The News, Poetry and Survivor Stories. We welcome all survivors, supporters and advocates of child abuse awareness and prevention--whether first-time contributors or regulars. And don't forget: You can always nominate a blogger you admire and their post that has a child abuse topic. Submissions are due by Wednesday, March 11. If you want to submit a post to this carnival you can use the submission form here. Please note: Something is wrong over at Blog Carnival dot com. When you first go to the submission form, it looks blank. Just scroll down and you'll eventually see the fields to fill in.
Action--->Please leave me a comment if you have already submitted or plan to submit to this carnival edition. That way, I won't come to your blog or e-mail you and bug you to submit something. ;) Thanks!
Thanks for your contributions and support of our carnival which is going into its 22nd edition. And thanks to RR--she's going to be a fantastic host. I just feel lucky about that! *wink*
March 01, 2009
SIAD--Self-Injury Awareness Day
Trigger Warning: Please be careful when reading this post. Self-injury topics can be very triggering and/or re-traumatizing for self-harmers, abuse survivors or not.
I notice that I haven't written about self-injury for a while. I used to be active in some self-injury forums, and I haven't visited them for a while either.
I have to be honest: I thought I had self-injury licked. I felt so good about the accomplishment when I wrote about my past personal experiences with self-injury on the "Strange Trip" page of the "My Story" section of my website, Survivors Can Thrive! I went for a couple of years, at least, without harming myself. This was during the period of time when I was getting a lot of trauma processing done with a therapist who's an expert in traumatic stress. Then the dissociative sh*t hit the fan, I got a new therapist, I discovered "splintering" from my dissociative disorder, and...I noticed self-injury creeping back into my life.
Since I have never cut, I think it took me a long time to be honest with myself that I was still a self-injurer. But, self-injury can take many forms. For me, it is usually scratching. I thought I knew why I did it and wrote about that on my dot com site and also on a March 1 post back in 2006 here.
But, since I've been more aware of my dissociative "episodes," I notice that there seem to be some times when I self injure as a way of self-punishment of some sort. In addition to the scratching, I sometimes bang myself in the head with the heal of my hand. This is usually accompanied by some verbally self-abusive statements such as, "I am so stupid!" or "I'm an idiot!" It makes me so angry now--thinking about it--that I identified with my abusive father and repeat the same insults that he used to rain down on me as a child. They are almost word-for-word, for crying out loud! Aaaacckkkk!
I feel very ashamed after I indulge in any self-injury behaviors. I still feel shame admitting these things now. It feels like a failing, when I've been so determined to break the cycle of abuse. I've been successful at doing this with my own precious child, but I don't consistently offer the same unconditional love to myself.
Well, as I find myself saying, again and again, awareness is the key to change. So, let's all do our part to raise awareness about self-injury, today and beyond. Here are a few links to other bloggers who are also raising awareness on this SIAD day:
Also, you can find some self-injury support, forums and other resources on my "Survivor Issues" page of my dot com site, which I just updated at the beginning of January. If you are dealing with self-injury, please know that you are not alone. So, please, don't try to go it alone. There is help and there is support. I'm glad that SIAD--Self-Injury Awareness Day--helped me gain awareness on a survivor issue that I need to work on some more with my therapist. And I'm grateful to be reminded again that I am not alone in this struggle.