Women, Children, Animals, Men, Citizens. From the beginning.
The words “speak from the heart” roll around and around my brain as I try to write the first sentence of my story for you, because I want to reach into the heart of you and to do this I need to pull out my heart and present it to you, what’s left of it that is. Not much of a gift, I apologize, but please accept my offer of my beaten and broken and stitched back together and deeply scarred heart. I’m so very scared to share my story with you, my heart is racing, my skin is getting itchy from stress, I’m holding back tears because where I need to go to be able to tell you this is still very raw and real for me and will be for a large part of my life. I need to take you on a journey through my childhood, where it started for me, where it starts for most of us.
I remember the words in my mind today as clearly as I heard them the day they were thrown at me.
“Why don’t you just go have sex already?” screamed at me by my Mother. I was 14 and this was normal, my normal.
This was not the first or last time she would say something to that effect. The issue of my virginity was often up for random discussion or the end of a joke or made into an insult. Growing up my mother was the one that called me a slut more then any man ever has. Slut, whore, dirty little slut, loser, bitch, stupid cow are names I had thrown at me from the person that was meant to be my teacher, my light, my guide in the world.
My childhood was marked with the teaching of submissive violence. If we didn’t do something right or if my mother was in a bad mood or our tone of voice wasn’t right we would get hit, often those hits turn into beatings. We were bad; I was bad, now I must be punished, put in my place. I must submit all control, I have no power, I am powerless, is what I was being taught at five years old. At five I learnt to be a victim, to play the victim role, to be silent, to not stand up and voice my opinion. I learnt I was worthless until somebody wanted something from me.
At about six years old I remember walking out of my house in bra and panties to show off for a boy, my first stepfather screamed me at to get back in side and put cloths on, my half naked body was wrong, something was wrong with me. This boy I remember playing the ‘rubbing’ game with. Rubbing up against each other. I remember craving sexual attention as if it was normal.
One of the things I feel most guilty about was that I couldn’t protect my sister (C) from my mother, I tried, jumping in front of the beatings only worked for so long, and then I started to get angry at my sister, blaming her for me not being able to protect her. This created a lot of fighting growing up, I have deep guilt I still carry with me to this day, over not protecting her and not protecting my younger sister from her as well, I made a promise at ten years old to the new born baby in my arms that I couldn’t keep, I was still to powerless. The violence towards my baby sister will haunt me for the rest of my life. I scream at myself to this day why I didn’t grab the baby and run out of the house, someone would have seen that marks all over her baby body after mum had attacked the poor 2-3 year old for crying over her food. I should have done more, it was my fault and still is my fault for every hit my little sister has had to endure for the last 16years of her life. I made the same promise to my baby brother in one of hismidnight feedings, mum never got up for his feedings, often it was me, sometimes it was my sister (C), ask my family today who feed the baby and they would tell you it was (C). Every good thing I ever did has been forgotten unless that good thing somehow gave them the impression that I had a happy childhood and they will use that good thing as a weapon to prove me wrong somehow. They only remember what they want to remember.
I started developing breasts early, at about eleven. That is when the comments from my step pop (step grandfather) started and I don’t remember having a visit from then on, where he didn’t comment on my breasts. My lumps, their size, how big they might get, all sexual and all not something I should have been hearing at that age.
And now for the moment, was it inevitable? I liked attention, the old guy that was my pops friend, around my pops age. He gave me ice cream, lots of ice cream and lots of attention, took me away from home, which I hated being. This moment, where I tell you I was old enough to know what he was trying to do, I knew what he was. While staying at his place I chose to pretend- yes I pretended I was asleep on his lap one night, his hands on me, his hands, the more asleep he thought I was, the more they moved over me, touching my breasts, and then down my pants. He whispered ‘I love you’ as he touched me, I let him. I don’t know why. I should have said no, I was only pretending to be asleep. Why did I do this to myself? I was around the age of twelve and I let this old man touch me. I didn’t tell anyone until I was about 15 and nothing happened. They didn’t do anything, and this older man went onto having small kids live with him, those kids turned into violent teenagers, I saw one of the girls once and I knew, I knew what was happening to her, I could see it in her eyes. I did nothing. I failed again.
I was about 15-16, I was wearing long pants and a t-shirt nothing ‘sexy’ I would say- casual. I walked down the back stairs of my house towards my room which was under the house. My second stepfather was putting washing on the line; he looked at me and said “Ooooohh I wonder how many years in jail I would get for rape” Looking dead at me, and he laughed. I headed into my room. This is a man that has hit me for years, being able to put his hands around my neck and held me off the floor against the back door of our house because I was being a smart arse, for voicing my opinion that was different from his. If he wanted to, he could have raped me and there would have been no way I would have been able to fight him off. I just hoped he never would act on those thoughts, lucky for me; he never has, towards me at least.
Hits over the head, normal. Hits on the butt, normal. Being forced to submit, normal. Beaten until I scream and beg and say I’m sorry a million times, normal. Beaten until I pee my pants and then beaten for peeing my pants, normal. Screaming insults “SLUT, BITCH, SHUT THE FUCK UP, I HATE YOU, DO AS YOU ARE TOLD OR ELSE! ” etc. normal. Cold showers after a beating, normal, they minimize the bruising and then we were made to give mum a hug after because she was sorry, she just got to mad and went to far, I just made her mad.
To far? Beatings wrong but hitting ok? A little violence is ok? A little pain is ok? I hated myself the same amount, the smacking and the beatings, there is no difference to how much pain I felt emotionally. A smarter child might have been in self-preservation mode and today those are the adults that smack their kids and claim they are FINE. I’m 26 now and I’m fine as well, until I am not, until I’m screaming my head off over nothing and lashing out at my partner. I have no right to do this, however understandable it might be. I still have the responsibility to heal and not act this way. No one has the right to hurt anyone. I know how I was ‘raised’ does not equate to a fully functioning rational adult human. However how I was raised is seen as normal. All the scientific research that shows the dramatic negative effects this attitude has towards a child is being ignored. Maybe some things would be seen, as ‘that’s too far’ while most of it would be over looked just because it was a parent to a child where a child has no rights. Somehow through all of it I can stand here and be different. Able to look upon the trauma and say “it happened to me, it is not ok, just because you are fine does not make it ok. Just because you hurt them less then what you were hurt doesn’t mean you are doing the right thing.
We judge violence on levels of ‘how much pain they cause’. We have a welfare system for both children and animals. Welfare is a system based upon how much suffering is too much suffering, or put it another way, how much suffering can they get away with before to many people complain. Right now I am writing this for a human based campaign against rape culture and yet most of you that read this drink cow’s milk, milk that is taken from a mother whose baby was taken from her after she was raped. The machine they put her in, is named the rape wrack by farmers. She will be raped by two people, one that shoves their whole arm into her anus, and another shoves their whole arm into her vagina to implant the bull’s semen, they will rape her every year of her life to keep her pregnant. She will only feed her calf for 24 to 48 hours and then boy calves sold to become veal and her daughters will be raped at one year old, destined to repeat their mothers life, this goes on until her milk production goes down and she becomes worthless where she will become fast food ‘meat’ after 4-5 years when her body gives out from the suffering (A Cows normal life span is 25 years). This is all normal and LEGAL on all farms under the welfare system, so that humans can take what they want from her; because she is not human her rape counts less? Do animals not have rights to their own bodies? Like children? Like human females? Like human men? Are our bodies not our own? Rape, violence does not discriminate, it crosses all age’s lines, and all gender lines, all races lines and species.
It is all oppression, an attempt to take control over another, to take what they want. Want sex? Want milk? Want silence?
They want to know they have power. They want you to feel they have power.
Have I been raped? No. Have I experienced rape culture? I’ve been verbally, emotionally and physically abused through out my life. I was dehumanized, I was degraded, and I was taught that I had no value and no worth. I could never say no. What I wanted never mattered, I was never told why, it was never explained, I was just always wrong and when I was wrong I got pain. No meant pain. Using my voice meant pain. So it depends on what you would define rape culture as. Rape has nothing to do with sex, EVER. Please understand this; rape is ABUSE when it shows up in the FORM of sex. Abuse is the hold of power over another, oppression.
I hear people say things like ‘boys will be boys’ and yet girls are being sexualized at a younger and younger age or taught they have no value if they express themselves sexually. We demand children not cry or make a scene in public. Being a child is wrong. Doing what is normal for a child is seen as bad behavior that we must stop, we must shut them up. They must do as they are told, they are wrong simply because they are a child.
A woman is wrong simple because she is a woman? She must not make a scene, she must be polite, she must cover up or she has no value. No sex before marriage or you have no value. Your skirt must be a certain length or you have no value. She must not speak her mind or she is a bitch, she must be thin or she is fat or she must be fat or she is a skinny bitch. They need to cover up or they are asking for it. Women call other women sluts. If all her bits are hanging out, she is acting like she has no value (slut), being sexual and female some how makes you a slut. Or as a female your only worth is in being a sex object, or in having babies and getting married. These are the rules for you. Women must be silent and men must be tough.
Please think about these things for a while: Do you ask your child for a hug or do you just take? Does your child’s father bribe your child into hugging him? Does he say it is allowed because he is her dad? Do you tell a child why you are touching them? Are they allowed to say no without getting hurt? When you look upon them are they your property, do they belong to you or do you see your self as their guardian in this world? When you teach them wrong from right, do your actions towards them match your words? Are you teaching them that those with power get to do what they want to those that are weaker and that some forms of violence are ok?
Smacking is abuse, like there is no happy rape; no level of rape is worse than the other, no rape more wrong or less wrong. All rape is wrong, all abuse is wrong and smacking is wrong. Those that justify it are the same as rapist and those that spread victim blaming, a claim that somehow the victim deserved what they got because they broke someone’s rules or pushed someone to far? The submission is that same, the fear is the same. The lack of rights to their own body is the same. And worse, you are teaching them that bigger people take what they want from little people, strong take from weak, it is learnt and it can be unlearnt. Rape can be stopped it can end.
I’ve left out the memories of the beatings and what I did to ‘provoke’ them. It is not important, like what a rape survivor did when they got raped; the survivor is not responsible for the actions of others. What I hope is to reach out to you and teach you is that a large part of this starts with the culture of oppression. Whither it is a parent on a child, a man on a woman or a woman on a man, or human on animal, it’s all the same thing. Oppression.
I still have nightmares, I awake up after watching one of my sisters getting beaten or my 3 years old sister dragged down the hallway by one arm by her fathers (my second step dad). I wake up in a sweat and I cry. For hours, days, weeks. It stays with me forever.
I have triggers, I only need to hear a tone of voice from a parent towards their child and I know what that child is going through. I know their confusion and fear. I’m taken right back to feeling powerless or I hear them threaten to smack the child, I fight with all I have not to either collapse and die or to attack that bully of a parent and teach them what smacking does first hand.
I will spend years undoing what was done and learning what I didn’t learn. Trying to become a functioning adult, trying not to be scared to leave my unit. Trying to finish my studies and not avoid it because I’m so scared of failure, of getting the question wrong. Because I have to over come the fundamental belief that everything I do is wrong and that I am not a failure.
The pain is still there, inside, so deep. Trying to heal from it is slow and a rollercoaster, I think I’ve healed or moved on and then something happens, or nothing happens and I’m dealing with another bunch of emotional shit that often leaves me on the floor of my lounge room or bed room or shower, just crying, or screaming or nothing, feeling nothing because I’m not numb to feel anything at all.
To this very day, when I’m faced with a moment where I must speak out against a wrong, I start to have a panic attack; my heart races and I start to shake. I must say something, I must do something, but every time I ever spoke up growing up I was hurt and when I spoke up at age 21 and come out very vocally about the abuse at the hands of my mother, my whole family turned their back on me. I was hurt again. I have little to no contact with my blood family especially my mother. It took me 21 years to realize that no matter who is hurting you they have no right, family or not. I stood up for myself and I started speaking my truth.
This is what I know.
Having a vagina is NOT an open invitation. Having sex does not make you less of a being. The clothes you wear, does not make you cheap. You have the choice to have sex, it is your body, and it takes NOTHING from you to make that choice or to not make that choice. If someone wants something from you it is their issue, not yours. You are not a cock tease. You are not a slut; In fact, there is no such thing. It is a word used to dehumanize you, to control you, to oppress you. You we not meant to fit into a box, you a not meant to be definable, you are extraordinary because you were born.
What is the answer to oppression? It is not more reforms; it is not new laws, not a few changes, not a little time, the entire system is wrong. Our system is built on oppression in the very design of it. How can we be free of oppressing each other when the current system we live in is based on oppression? One thing and one thing only will allow for us as a species to move out of the pain of what we are and what happened to us, giving us the sight to see what we could not see before. How we are all connected.
It is time for Revolution and it begins from inside you. I’m studying an Advanced Diploma in Business, with my goal of building my own business to help others heal from trauma and anxiety while I fight for human and animal rights. How did I get here? I’ve come a long away and still have a long way to go. But I know I will get there. I will not be the person I was raised to be because something was different for me; I had an awareness to how damaged our system was that allows so much suffering to happen. I am not a perfect person; I wasn’t born to be perfect. But I was born for a purpose and not the purpose anyone else puts upon me. I strongly believe there is no fixing this system, trying is like putting a Band-Aid on a bruise. It was built this way. We need something new, and we get there through finding it inside ourselves.
It is time we start looking at all our choices. From all sides, rape is just one element of a much bigger issue. I am a feminist for woman equality, I am a human rights activist for human equality, and I am vegan for animal equality. My choices affect the world and I want to be aware of all these choices and how they will affect the world. I was passive and submissive as a child; I want to be assertive and actively involved as an adult. That is my human responsibly.
Women, Children, Animals, Men, Citizens. I unequivocally reject all forms of oppression.