May 23, 2006
Survivor Art, Poetry
But, I don't want anyone to miss these advocacy and awareness art projects. As I said in the post below, my hand (and my poem) will go into Jodi's project, called The Show of Hands. Jodi is also participating in the month-long Healing Through Creativity festival in Hurricane, West Virginia this July. Supporters and survivors of physical and psychological trauma are encouraged to enter art, music, writing and poetry for this event. Original artwork is being shipped to WV now--May 15 through June 15, 2006.
About ten years ago, I had my first experience with another art project that's meant to raise this type of awareness: The Clothesline Project. It's been around since 1990 and raises much-needed awareness on all issues of violence against women.
I really want you to check out the Child Abuse Survivor Monument; it's extremely massive and impressive. It's currently a Canadian-only project for survivors of any kind of child abuse. I have heard some rumblings that it may be coming to other countries sometime in the future. For Canadians, there is still time this summer and fall to include your survivor hand outline and written message. Check out this creative colossus and consider making a donation. The project is in need of financial assistance and its site makes contributing easy.
For other advocacy website links, go to my dot com site, www.survivorscanthrive.com. Click on the page called Advocacy/Prevention, under Resources. The links on my blog sidebar here are really just for blogs.
May 19, 2006
Take a Stand, Raise Your Hand!
I'll be mailing in my handprint for The Show of Hands next week and I've written a poem to go along with the print. "Raising my hand" coincides with my recent rant on the indifference people show toward child abuse, and child sexual abuse in particular.
Here' my poem. Please be careful, it could be triggering. It's another non-modern rhymer, but I think the wording is as timely as it can be:
Raise Your Hand
If I raise my hand,
will you recognize
my story, my fear,
the pain in my eyes?
I know how much you wish
I would just go away.
But, I'm standing up.
I've got something to say.
They raped me, tried to break me
and toss me aside.
Too long, I felt the damage,
believing their lies.
Did you know
you had the power
to spare a child
the years of shame?
When you avert your eyes
and are deaf to her cries,
she's left thinking she has
only herself to blame.
I ask you now,
will you still turn away
when a million voices
ask you to stay?
Will you listen and believe?
Will you take a stand?
Your own precious daughter
is raising her hand.
Copyright 2006 Marj McCabe ~ All Rights Reserved
May 13, 2006
Are We Leaving The Door Wide Open For Child Abuse?
I've been rather down lately. Too much illness, therapy management and death. I'm not clinically depressed or spiraling down into the "hopeless/helpless" pit where I've resided in the past. Yet, I am quite frustrated. Frustrated at my inability to affect positive change. I guess the goal of my rant is to channel that frustration and anger outward, instead of turning it inward and feeling depressed like I've done so many times in the past.
I'm pissed off at and absolutely flabbergasted by the lack of concern about the abuse, harm and molestation of our precious, innocent children. I feel like I'm the only one who cares about this important issue sometimes. Rationally, I know I'm not the only one. But, I keep coming up against this seeming uncaring and ambivalence. I just want to scream!
I'll give you some examples from parents in my immediate community: where I live, where my kid goes to school, where my family attends church.
But, first some background. I admit, when I moved to Colorado seven years ago, I was naive. For some reason--the clean air, the beautiful mountains maybe--I had this assumption that my adopted state would be more progressive. I gotta tell you, it is a state that is nowhere near what I would describe as progressive. Much of it is just too backward, right wing and conservative for my personal taste.
Fortunately, I reside in a small enclave where people are quite liberal, proactive and environmentally "green" (relatively speaking anyway). My son attends a school where many students get there on foot and parents are highly active and involved. I attend a Unitarian Universalist church that strongly promotes peace, justice, respect and nonviolence.
Yet, I am baffled by the apparent lack of concern--by these same people--about protecting the safety of innocent children. My first sign came when I realized that I was the only parent of a third grader at my son's school who had signed up for the KidPower program made available there. Not one other third grader attended this valuable workshop to learn how to stay safe.
Another incident occurred recently: A neighbor actually got in an argument with my son's 10-year-old friend and proceeded to slap him across the face. It was rather interesting--the boy who was slapped lives the same distance as I do from the irate neighbor (who has since moved, thank God). The boy and my son, however, chose to run to my house after this happened. As you might imagine (if you've read my work and realize how fervent I am on this topic) I was immediately consumed with righteous anger.
I asked both boys to slow down and calmly tell me their interpretations of what had just transpired. Indeed, it seemed that, while the boy may have become somewhat verbally belligerent, the neighbor got carried away and struck the boy across the face with her hand. I gotta tell ya, if it had been my kid (who can be, at times, equally argumentative and sometimes disrespectful) I would have immediately marched up to that woman's door and told her in no uncertain terms that she is never to touch my child again or I would be calling the police.
But, this was not my child. I felt that any confrontation would be more potent and appropriate coming from the boy's own mother. I asked my son's friend if he wanted to tell his mom about what had happened and he said that he did, but wanted to think it over first. I told him that we would respect that decision, but that I hoped he would eventually feel comfortable sharing because I thought it was important for neighbors to know that we mothers were not going to tolerate having them treat our children in such a violent, disrespectful and unacceptable way.
So, the three of us went outside. The offending neighbor had retreated into her house, but the boy's mother was now outside. The boys ran over and the story came spilling out in all its drama. I was deflated and disappointed by the mom's response: "Oh well, they're moving out of here soon anyway. Besides, if I talked to her about it, it wouldn't do any good." Then, she advised her son that she expected no retaliation out of him.
Damn. I didn't want any retaliation either. I don't agree with meeting violence with violence. But, I was very disappointed that this mother chose not to advocate for her child in any way. My son and I had a long, private talk about the matter and I hope he realizes that I would have stuck up for him in a more assertive way.
The most recent event just occurred this past weekend. My family was attending a little "goodbye" get-together for a neighbor who has decided to move to a lower altitude. In a little conversation circle, we discussed what's been rumored as a similar incident involving the music teacher at my son's school. The teacher has left the school because of allegations that she forcefully touched one of her students (one rumor is that she slapped the kid).
The woman sitting next to me (also a mother with kids at the school) piped up, "I heard that all she did was touch the kid on the shoulders and shove him back down in his seat." She proceeded to lament about how this poor woman (my words) was probably never going to be able to come back to the school "because of the way this school is." I wanted to blurt out, "What way the school is? You mean, intolerant of child abuse?" Though I was seething inside, I stayed quiet because I didn't want to start a heated debate when we were there to say a nice goodbye to a friend. The night was about her, not about me and my soap box.
But then, every single person in our circle proceeded to give their opinion about how society has changed. Maybe I'm reading into the comments, but they all seemed to be of the opinion that our schools today are making a mistake "sparing the rod" when disciplining children. The comments were about how it wasn't that long ago that much stronger force was used to keep kids in line and a teacher wouldn't have to leave the school for something like that. I finally interjected, "But, that was in the days of corporal punishment and I'm glad we no longer have that."
Then, an elderly lady sweetly said, "Yes, but it's a shame that you can't even give a kid a pat on the back or a kind touch on the shoulder anymore." I've been thinking about that one. She's right. It is a shame. But, why is it a shame? Because we can't man-handle kids any more? In my opinion, the shame is that children today are starved for the attention of a healthy touch and a listening ear. I'm a former CASA (court-appointed advocate for abused children), stay-at-home mom and I do volunteer work with a lot of children. I see and hear just how starved these kids are.
I don't think we have a healthy balance in this society. There's definitely got to be a better way.
However, things being as they are, I'm willing to be restricted by the rule that adult leaders of kids programs cannot be alone with children. I prefer that volunteers abide by the strict rules of conduct that CASA requires. I'd even resign myself to a restriction where the healthy touching of children is confined to their own homes and family rather than see innocent children raped, beaten, or otherwise abused. I'd rather live with these new rules than have to live with the fact that one out of every three girls in our country is sexually abused by the time she is 18.
I choose to live with these rules. I choose to talk about the uncomfortable subject of child abuse. I choose to advocate for children. My old therapist thought I took on too many of the world's sorrows and troubles. But, if we don't take on these tough issues, what will happen to the children? What will happen to us as a society, as a species? What will happen to our planet?
Please help me take a stand for children. Please talk about this HUGE, important issue. Please advocate for children--at least your own. Express your righteous anger and outrage when a child is hurt, abused or the victim of any violence. Let the kids know that they can tell and they will be supported and protected. Otherwise, you're leaving the door wide open for the abuse of our children.
May 04, 2006
You know, I was feeling quite depressed thinking about how the "good people" seem to die and the evil ones (like our perps) just keep living and, often, prospering. But, you know what? This amazing young woman--this bright and shining soul--must have accomplished what she set out to do in this life. And I know she has moved on to even more amazing things.
And her spirit lives on in her writings and in the hearts of the people who loved her so. There is comfort in that. I am so grateful that my cousin is finding comfort right now. Thanks for all the well-wishes, thoughts and prayers.
I also wanted to share something else that happened at this recent funeral. I knew my estranged mother would be there. Quite frankly, I was scared to see her. My scared little inner child doesn't want to ever give her a chance to hurt me again.
I knew she would come up to me at the funeral and "act like nothing ever happened." First, she approached my twin and asked for a hug. My sister politely said, "No." My mother immediately turned to me and approached me and reached out to touch my arm. I backed away and told her firmly, "Please do not touch me without my permission."
Some may not understand, but for someone who grew up with no boundaries at all and who has had to work very hard at assertiveness and setting limits, this was a major victory for me. It was something I've needed to do. It felt like a major accomplishment for me.