Category Archives: Society

Guilt, Shame, Prevention, and the Burden of Educating Others

In a very helpful newsletter, Cecil Murphey of Shattering the Silence stated that the following statements irritate him:

“You don’t need to feel guilty.”
“You have no reason to feel ashamed.”

I agree. I get both statements said to me often and they irritate me, too. These people mean well, mostly; at least the ones who aren’t saying it in a “man up, get over it” way.

I think what they are trying to say is, “It wasn’t your fault.” But saying it the way they do comes across to me like a glib attempt to “tell me how to feel” and it doesn’t help at all. It certainly doesn’t make the guilt and shame magically go away. I suppose it’s ignorance of how to help on their part, so I try to educate.

Cecil Murphey suggested (linked above) that saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurting” is better, and I agree. He explained that as children, we didn’t know we were not to blame. So we naturally blamed ourselves as children do, and guilt and shame gained a foothold.

Most of us were told we were to blame by our abusers, often people we trusted, and maybe even loved. Then guilt and shame took root – during the delicate formative years. We don’t choose to feel guilt and shame, and we can’t “decide” to stop feeling that. Does it make sense to say to a child with a broken arm, “You don’t need to have a broken arm”? It won’t be fixed because you said that. They need a cast and they have to go through the mending and healing and not try to climb trees until the healing is done.

Sometimes I realize that survivors need to educate people on how to help, and I try to; but most times I’m too busy trying to deal and heal to worry about it. I often wonder, “Why does the burden to educate and inform the public so often fall on the shoulders of the survivors who, quite frankly, have enough on their plate?”

It seems survivors are also the majority of people teaching others how to keep their children safe from predators. At times, the willingness of parents to put fingers in their ears and say, “It can’t happen to my kid” makes me very upset. Self-care is vital in this jungle.

Then the language of the education can also be problematic. Most prevention advocacy talks of “parents, watch out for these signs of predatory abusers” but rarely do they mention that parents can often be the predatory abusers of their own children. For a survivor of incest abuse, it is very hard to read that stuff.

The important part, to me, is trying to learn better how to help and prevent, and to move forward in eliminating child abuse, rape, and all other forms of crimes against children.

Most survivors want to help with this, it often helps us to help others; but we do have a lot on our plates just to keep breathing and heal. It would be wonderful to see more people, especially those who are not survivors themselves, helping to end, and prevent, child abuse.

I know it’s frightening and unpleasant to think about an abuser harming your child or kids you know. It’s far more horrible to become an abused child. Which is worse? (Trust me, being abused is worse.) Learning about it to prevent it is far better than doing nothing out of squeamishness only to find out your child was abused. Damage from abuse (especially of children) can last a lifetime and affect every aspect of the child’s life. “It can’t/doesn’t happen in my town” doesn’t and can’t help the children at risk in your town.

Isn’t prevention worth more than scrambling after a non-existent cure? Isn’t prevention and the safety of children worth some discomfort? I’d sincerely like to know; but too many people have their fingers in their ears and can’t hear the question – or the cries of abused children.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 12/11/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

www.AsAshesScatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter

Please read the Comment Policy before submitting a comment to the moderators. For more about me, you are welcome to read my story and visit the About page.

Thank you for reading.


Sex Ed, Consent, Responsibility: Can We Teach Them in Healthy Ways?

***Trigger Warning for child sexual abuse***

Consent can be taught without implying our sons are potential rapists. This is a fact that is ignored by many.

After reading this:

An Open Letter to My Son About Sex via the Good Men Project, 8/24/13 by Janis Whitlock, I was inspired to share my thoughts. Normally, I read the comments – even when they go over 300, but for self-care reasons I stopped reading these. For the record, “most” child sexual abuse survivors do not grow up to abuse kids, and “most” predators of children were not abused as kids. There is a pitiful amount of ignorance about this in those comments. Please educate yourself on abuse myths and statistics; that is the whole point of this post, after all: education and being proactive about it.

As a general disclaimer, I should add that as a male survivor of incest, with my mother as one of my abusers, the simple and usually benign notion of a mother talking about sex to her son basically creeps me out. That aside, I am also a dad of four kids, two girls and two boys, and they do need education, healthy information and facts; especially on abuse prevention and combatting child-harming deviants. Their mother and I handle most of this together, and our kids know they can ask either of us anything, or tell us anything.

The above linked article is a mother’s letter about sex to her son. In my opinion, it goes from “let’s have a healthy talk about sex not being bad” to “you are a boy so please don’t rape anybody” in 0 to 60 seconds. The whole letter isn’t bad, just certain parts, and I object to the saturation of anti-porn sentiment (porn depicting adults being legal) and the writer’s opinions being presented almost as facts. Teens are going to try to look at porn, the curiosity for boys and girls is already there. Also, if you haven’t talked to your son enough to already know he isn’t the raping type, how can you be sure he even likes girls? Maybe sex isn’t the only thing he’s been afraid to talk to you about?

In particular, it’s irresponsible for a person to make sweeping generalizations about what “all” or even “most” other women or men like or don’t like based on the letter writer’s own preferences and turn-offs, and then teach them as “facts”. Kids shouldn’t be required to become little copies of their parents or care-givers, after all. What if your son has a girlfriend who likes some things on your “women don’t like this” list? Will he think she is weird or gross? That’s not healthy either, right? Can we also stop pretending that only boys are curious about sex?

However, my main point is this: a healthy age-appropriate sex talk and abuse prevention education should include education on consent. There is a healthy way to do this and a damaging way. Saying anything that sounds to a young male like “you’re a boy, so please remember not to trip over your hormones and rape a girl” has no place in a sex-positive educational talk to a teen boy. Odds are, if we’ve raised them to understand, give, and receive respect for themselves and others, our kids won’t grow up to be rapists, killers, bullies, or jerks.

Another thing that is often forgotten or bypassed is that young girls also need to be taught about consent. Their consent and the consent of others are equally important. How many times have little girls kissed little boys when the boys didn’t want them to? Teach everybody about consent, not just the boys.

Finally, we have the ugly situation of many adults not even understanding (or caring about) what constitutes rape and consent. If adults aren’t educated on this, how can we expect kids or teens to know what rape and consent are? I read horror stories in articles on statistics or in the news about men and women who think buying an expensive meal entitles the person to have sex with you, like it or not. Also, far too many adults think a teen boy is “lucky” if his female teacher rapes him – as long as she’s “hot”. Yet if the genders are reversed, most of those people are suddenly outraged. Why?

We as adults need to get educated too, before we try to teach young people. We need to stop teaching them shame and guilt about sex and their bodies. Just because our parents did that, doesn’t mean it should be done to our kids, too. Our kids and teens need to be taught respect for others as well as self-respect. They need to learn that their bodies belong to them and that their bodies and sexuality have value and shouldn’t be indiscriminately given away like they mean nothing.

We also need to change the societal view and pressures that being a virgin is something bad or laughable, a condition to shed, tossing it out like garbage on the junk heap of our lives in some hollow rush to be grown up, to be maybe loved, or to “belong”. I don’t care about “waiting for marriage” in the least. Yet if self-respect and self-worth are taught, perhaps more young people will wait until they feel ready, with or without feeling “in love”. In the absence of pressure and ridicule, perhaps they could make safer and healthier choices.

Sex education, consent education, and abuse prevention education go hand-in-hand, or they should. For those with objections to factual sex ed in schools, do you know you are leaving your children vulnerable to all sorts of traps and tragedies? Abstinence Only doesn’t work. Teen pregnancy rises in any state where that is the only sex ed offered. More importantly, children need to know the proper names for body parts and know how to get help if somebody tries to abuse them. Age-appropriate sex ed and abuse prevention (and consent) can be taught to very young kids, and it needs to be taught to them.

Too many parents don’t find out “it can’t happen to me/in my town/to my kid” isn’t true until after their kid is abused. Don’t make your child pay the price (most often a lifelong and horrible price) for your ignorance and your preference to keep your head in the sand. Learn the warning signs of predatory and grooming behaviors in the people around your children (especially if you think you can trust them). Learn the warning signs of abuse in a child. Talk to your children, let them know they can tell you without fear if somebody is hurting them or making them afraid. This goes for bullying, mental health issues, etc. How many parents have found their child dead from suicide because of endless bullying and the parents never knew the child was being bullied, or never knew the child had mental problems or was being abused, because the child was afraid or ashamed to tell? Also, many kids do tell and are often not believed. Don’t teach your child that telling you they need help will not get them help.

Our kids need these types of education desperately. Many adults need them, too. The “birds and bees” sex talk dreaded by so many is far easier to have when you have already educated them on basic body parts, abuse prevention, and respect, long before they turn twelve or fourteen. Sadly, many parents skip those talks entirely and allow society and the media to teach their children, out of embarrassment. If you don’t teach your child, somebody or something else will. Some kids get taught ugly lifelong lessons by abusers, or stumble through pitfalls that a little guidance could have helped them to avoid.

One final point on rape: males aren’t the only ones who rape. Females aren’t the only victims of rape. This is a fact, whether you accept it or not. Telling boys “learn not to rape” is awful. It is in direct opposition to the intention of having a sex-positive talk with your son. Teach consent and sex ed. Foster a relationship where they feel safe to ask questions. Don’t make them think you believe their natural and good sexuality is nasty or potentially evil. That worms into the mind of kids and teens and does some ugly psychosexual damage. Imagine telling your daughter, “Try not to rape anybody.” You wouldn’t do that? Then please don’t say or imply this to your son, either.

I spent most of my life and all of my childhood being raped by adults, men and women. I was four when my father raped me the first time, five when he rented me to others daily. Prior to four, they were training me, grooming me, to accept sexual and physical abuse. At age three, my parents were teaching me how to “service them” sexually. This abuse was all I knew and they lied and said all parents were entitled to sex from their children. That was a pedophile ring, run by my father. They made and sold films and photos and made kids harm other kids in them. It has been an ugly struggle of slow healing to become the dad I am today, and that struggle is ongoing.

When I hear, “Teach men and boys not to rape”, my heart breaks. Teach everybody not to rape. Teach consent and healthy factual age-appropriate sex ed and teach abuse prevention. Learn warning signs…. Before it’s too late.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 9/11/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

www.AsAshesScatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter

Please read the Comment Policy before submitting a comment to the moderators. For more about me, you are welcome to read my story and visit the About page.

Thank you for reading.


Pithy Religious Quotes Need Warning Labels

Due to my issues and damage as a non-religious survivor of child sexual abuse (one of my abusers was a preacher) and as a survivor of rape as an adult, as well as having to deal with all the fallout from those traumas, such as physical, mental, and psychological handicaps, PTSD, phobias, religious triggers, bipolar disorder and occasional fights with suicidal thoughts, I have a big problem with the quote below:

“If you’re thinking about giving up, don’t… because God gave you your life because he knows that you are the only one strong enough to handle it.”

I realize some people think this is “nice comfort”, and they have “good intentions” in sharing it. However, unless you are speaking to peers of your own religion and/or people who also find this sort of thing comforting, I’d like to discourage others from sending this pithy trite quote to strangers who are hurting. Especially if they don’t share your religion, or if religion was part of their abuse or trauma. This should certainly not be said to a person battling thoughts of suicide, more so if you don’t know the person very well.

The quote above reminded me of two topics discussed by the excellent writer Christian Piatt, included with his gracious permission below:

#1 from Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use here:

Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve heard this said more times than I care to. I’m not sure where it came from either, but it’s definitely not in the Bible. The closest thing I can come up with is “To everything, there is a season,” but that’s not exactly the same. The fact is that faith, by definition, is not reasonable. If it could be empirically verified with facts or by using the scientific method, it wouldn’t be faith. It would be a theory. Also, consider how such a pithy phrase sounds to someone who was raped. Do you really mean to tell them there’s a reason that happened? Better to be quiet, listen and if appropriate, mourn alongside them. But don’t dismiss grief or tragedy with such a meaningless phrase.

#5 from Ten More Cliches Christians Should Avoid here:

The Lord never gives someone more than they can handle. What about people with mental illness? What about people in war-torn countries who are tortured to death? What about the millions of Jews murdered in the Holocaust? And this also implies that, if really horrible things are happening to you, God “gave” it to you. Is this a test? Am I being punished? Is God just arbitrarily cruel? Just don’t say it.”

~ ~ ~

“Happens for a reason” and “God never gives more than you can handle” seem to have been combined and morphed into the first quote at the top.

Stuff like this can push a survivor of abuse or rape, or a suicidal person, right over the edge. As “you were meant to have this suffering” rattles around in a person’s head, ricocheting off of their pain and horror, their abyss of multiple losses, and the hopelessness that trauma and/or mental illness has brought into their lives. Also, like it or not, not all people share your religious views, nor do they have to.

Here is one of the reasons why the quote at the top personally disturbs me:

Now I Lay Me Down

After years of being raped by that preacher (starting when I was five) on most Saturdays, I wince at quite an array of religious-based “comfort quotes”. Considering my father initially raised me from birth to believe that he was my “god”, religious “comforts” can get confusing and upsetting fast.

Here is the key: try to seek to know a little about the person you want to reach out to and hopefully help. Ask them if they are religious, if that is important to you in your life. Then be prepared to respect it if their answer is “No.” Remember that the goal (hopefully) is to help the person. You won’t be able to help them if you disrespect their views and their need for self care. My self care requires an absence of religious jargon. If that is not respected, I am placed in an untenable spot and subjected to unnecessary upset and distress. Also, it often makes me angry. Making others feel pain, distress and anger is generally not the way to “help” them.

So try to get to know them first, respecting their wishes to not let you, if that is the case. Here’s a great quote: “You have to be a friend to make a friend.” Also, the Golden Rule of “Treat others as you want to be treated” applies; so please slap a warning label on your religious quotes collection and ask first if they might be welcome… or not. I know I would thank others for this gift of respect, as that does make me feel that I am being helped.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 8/19/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter


“I wasn’t brave”, and the problem of assumed familiarity from strangers….

I want to focus on two things here; being called “brave” by random strangers who don’t know me, and having those strangers act like they’re entitled to behave as if we are best friends on the basis of a few tweets, or in a comment because they read one essay. Do you want to know how to help me feel more comfortable talking to you? In a way that could help you with talking to some other survivors of abuse you may meet? Then please, read on; and thank you for taking the time to do so. As for comments on this blog, please read the Comment Policy.

To those who have already put in the legwork to help me feel comfortable and to become my friends, huge thanks to you. You help me learn how to grow into a “real person” every day, and I couldn’t make it without you. To my fellow survivors, take from this what resonates with you, feel free to ignore the rest.

******************

As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I rarely want to be told I am brave/strong/etc. I realize people are trying to be supportive, encouraging, or complimentary, but it usually feels off to me and falls flat, especially from a stranger or somebody who only knows a few things I’ve written about myself. I typically gloss over and ignore the comment, hoping it will go away. This article by Justin Cascio has helped me grasp a better way of realizing why it bothers me, in particular #5, the “brave” section:

10 things people have said to me that you should never say to a trans person

From a stranger, it does objectify, and seems to be an assumed intimacy that repels me. I am not me to them, I am a cardboard poster boy for “all survivors”, or simply an opportunity for them to feel better about themselves. Also, I don’t see being a survivor as “brave”. The phrase “it takes courage to survive that” irritates me. Actually, all it takes is “not dying yet”, each day. I never felt “brave”. In the end, it feels condescending. (Thanks to Justin for this clarity. I really appreciate his blog.)

As a semi-random point, I’ll add this: I don’t “speak for all survivors”, nor do any of them specifically speak for me. We do often find kernels of truth or common feeling in each other’s words, but it’s a “take what resonates with you and leave the rest” sort of process.

So what to say instead of “you’re so brave/strong because you survived”? Well, for me, I’d rather have my efforts to keep plugging along acknowledged over assumed past “bravery”. Why? Because surviving isn’t a done deal, it’s an ongoing process; and for many of us, it is a lifelong struggle.

Also, I was serious about the “I wasn’t brave as a kid” part. It’s a matter of perspective, in the end. To me, brave would have been trying to run away or refusing to hurt others because they ordered me to. Both of those things would have resulted in my death. So in my mind, what let me survive was closer akin to cowardice, and being told “you were brave” just makes me feel bad, as the truth of my past rises up on cue to negate the “compliment”. Therefore, if the goal is to make me feel better, I’d rather be told, “I’m glad you are still here and it’s great that you do what you can to help others”. Tell me I’m a good daddy, or that you like my poetry, perhaps, if you do. “Brave” is only a lie that haunts me, in tandem with the other ghosts born out of guilt and shame.

Thank you for trying to understand, and for trying to learn that survivors are all different. Maybe somebody else feels better to be told they were “brave enough to survive that”. Maybe they don’t. As I said, none of us are poster representatives for all of us.

The best advice I can give is, if you want to really discuss things with me about abuse and survivorship, make an effort to get to know me. Do some reading here on my blog (without making assumptions) and try not to assume familiarity or display an expectation of intimacy in talking to me before I’ve decided if I feel comfortable with that. It’s the same common courtesy you probably display at any other event where you meet new people. The assumption of intimacy or friendship and the entitlement of expecting me to be buddies just because you believe you’re a decent and safe person, can quickly feel like red flags to me. I often have people exchange three tweets with me and then they seem to assume they are on a par with my support system of people, family and friends, and begin acting like they have the same intimacy privileges that they do. Frankly, that behavior makes me want to avoid those people. So if your goal is to make me feel better, please don’t do that.

If you simply want to ask my views on abuse or survivorship, please still make an effort to allow me to feel comfortable talking to you first. A good start is to do your own research prior, on your own. Speaking to an informed person who asks good questions and wants to discuss issues is a lot more comfortable for me than feeling like a poster boy you randomly want to tell you things to have a passing curiosity satiated. People of that sort are not why I’m here. I am here to try to help others like me or vaguely similar to me, and to help educate those who show some effort in wanting to help, too; especially if they have the goal of learning prevention to keep their own kids safe. That, after all, is the most important thing. Far easier to prevent than to make them endure a lifetime of trying to heal.

Also, please read As Ashes Scatter: My Story and About W.R.R. to learn more about me. It is quite jarring to have a (however well-meaning) stranger assume they know what abuse I suffered on the basis of one tweet.

In conclusion, it is also not helpful or appropriate to ask me how I feel today in reply to a serious tweet about abuse issues, or to offer “religion-based” comfort when you haven’t read the comment policy where I state that that is a trigger for me. I mean no offense, I just need to clarify these points to avoid feeling reluctant to tweet or speak out due to a fear that strangers will start assuming they are “buddies with privileges” and reply to me in ways that make me want to disappear. Thank you for your time and patience, and hopefully, for your understanding.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 7/30/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter


Rape is not a scandal, it’s a crime.

Society, the legal system, the news media and sometimes even advocates have stooped to using words and phrases that minimize rape, and I’d like to point out and discuss four that both aggravate me and make me angry:

The “Sandusky Sex Scandal”

Two advocacy terms: “child sexual abuse” and “child sex trafficking”

The term “molestation” (when used in place of the word rape)

Now, I’ll address them in backwards order.

News reports that say a child was “molested” when the child was clearly penetrated and raped. This could be a “legal terms get muddled issue”, but to me, it’s all rape. Yet if “molested” legally means “touched” (no penetration) why does the news say “molest” when penetration rape did occur? I see this as a deflection, a “softening term”. I don’t get into pointless debates of “this abuse is worse than that abuse” as it can all damage and impair for life. Yet this “let’s soften it for the public” bullshit makes me angry. The public needs to grasp that the perpetrator raped a child (in cases with and without penetration) so that they don’t end up on juries that acquit the rapist of a child because they think a bit of therapy can make them “stop touching kids”. When an adult is “touched on genitals without consent” it’s commonly called “sexual assault”, not “molestation”. Why the less serious term for the same crime against a child?

I’m stuck with both of the advocacy terms I listed because those are the “official terms” and make up a lot of the hashtags on Twitter. Even so, I object to the words “sex” and “sexual” in them. (I’m not fond of “sexual” being paired up with “assault” either, for that matter.) It should be “child rape” and “child rape trafficking”. We should abandon “sexual assault” too, and just call it rape. Sex is not rape and rape is not sex. A pedophile doesn’t “have sex with” a five-year-old boy or girl. He or she raped them. Yet many news stories do say an adult “had sex with a minor”. I realize I’m essentially arguing semantics, and legal terms and definitions have muddied the waters, but I think “rape isn’t sex” is a very important point to make, especially to victimized children. Teach them, “You were a victim of sex abuse” and then they get an intimate partner as an adult and the word “sex” is already tainted. The child rapes I suffered, perpetrated by male and female pedophiles (including both of my parents), have seriously messed me up in my struggles with adult consensual sex; in some part, because both were called “sex”. As a child, I was constantly told I was “having sex”. I started calling it “do sex”, as in “I have to do sex now.” To this day, I will sometimes say the term “do sex” if I feel nervous, and my support system knows the term as a general warning that caution may be needed. On my better days, the far more romantic “make love” is the more pleasant term.

Time to pick on the news media again. For me, this is a whopper: “Sandusky Sex Scandal”. Sandusky raped boys. A lot of boys, with both touching and penetration. It was rape. A “sex scandal” would be if Sandusky had a sexual affair with somebody else’s wife. “Sex Scandal” diminishes, distorts, and sanitizes the horrific rapes those boys endured. Another example is “the Catholic Sex Scandals”. A Catholic sex scandal is catching priests having sex with nuns, or some other “not supposed to” sex. Raping children is not a “sex scandal”. Yet the news media (of all forms and regions) seems to insist on slanting it that way. Rape is not a scandal. Sex is not a crime.

The news media can and does influence how society views these things. It seems anathema to me too, that the media usually seeks the stronger and more shocking (and issue-selling or website clicking) headline. So why do they downplay “Sandusky Child Rape Case” to “Sex Scandal”? To reiterate, getting down to basics, the word “scandal” in this usage is horrific. Rape isn’t sex. Sex isn’t rape – and rape is not a “scandal”… it’s a horrifying crime.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 7/16/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter


Only a Personal Choice is the Right Choice, for Coming Out as LGBTQ

Inspired by this article by Kile Ozier on the Good Men Project:

Stand up. Be visible. Contribute to the solution.

I wanted to share my thoughts on “coming out” via pressure from others.

I was looking forward to seeing the comments on the above article, but I fear the approach may be too draconian and a bit too guilt-trippy for most folks to want to engage with it. Especially when most closeted LGBTQ people aren’t just wary of a vague threat of not being accepted or losing a job. Actually, losing a job these days can ruin somebody’s life and their ability to feed their children. Plus, there is the very real, local and immediate threat of bodily harm and even death for some, according to where they live. Spouses could take away kids and never allow the person to see them again (since the media and society love to spread the lie that “gays are dangerous and will molest kids”). Many are not willing to risk these things, and like the concept of reporting one’s rape, coming out needs to be a personal choice with risks, pros and cons assessed. If fictitious Josh Smith comes out at the urging of others before he is ready, loses his family and ends up committing suicide because the loss of his kids forever is too much to face, what have we, the LBGTQ community, gained? A soundbite? A platform point? Josh is still dead. Likewise, if his neighbor shoots him dead because he doesn’t want “one of them” around his sons? Ignorance and bigotry is killing people right and left these days, so it’s not a vague threat. It is another risk to be carefully considered. Now Josh may kill himself because the loneliness, self-hate, and lies of the closet can cause depression and despair, too, so it’s all a risk – to come out or to not.

I have never been “closeted” as a bisexual; I spent my life hiding my abuse and rapes and didn’t much care if school peers called me gay or beat me up for it. What was that, compared to my home life of abuse? None of them hit harder than my father.

My boyfriend is partially in the closet. He started therapy now to deal with a past of parents who neglected and ignored him, while his father would beat him at any sign of “being soft”. His father spoke almost daily about how “those gays should just be killed” and the threat was not veiled at all what would happen if they knew he was gay. He tried suicide by drinking bleach as a child and his mother only said, “Don’t embarrass the family.” The “gay goes to Hell” was a constant theme, too. As a child, he believed it.

He only has a few friend groups that he thinks don’t know (though I suspect they do and don’t care) but he needs to work that parental BS and abuse out of his mind and heart and then choose for himself to come out fully. He probably has low risk of real danger, as he’s nearly a mascot to the police and the bikers around here. Still, like reporting rape, it is a crucially personal decision. Since each person is the only one who knows their risks, others can urge, but should not try to force or guilt trip that person into taking risks that could end in another person’s death or the ruin of their life.

I never reported my abusers as a child because I would have been killed. I watched them kill others, so it wasn’t an idle threat. As an adult, it took years for the “they’ll find me and hurt me” fear to fade, and to some degree it’s still something I struggle with. Yet I assessed risks and decided to tell, to speak out, to help others.

I have been fortunate, in that I am still alive and I am protected by a new and loving family. Many teens and even children as young as ten are struggling in homophobic homes and are terrified to come out. Some who do are killed, sometimes by their own parent or community. Others are cast out to be homeless, at risk of rape, murder, drugs, prostitution, or starvation. Some kids are bullied to the point of suicide on the mere accusation of being LGBTQ when they aren’t, let alone what happens to the ones who are. The “It Gets Better” video campaign has been helping those kids. So does the Trevor Project. Alas, there are next to no similar help resources for adults.

We also need some serious public relations improvements. If enough of society still hates/fears LGBTQ people and see us as a threat to them and to their children, we need to show them we are not a threat. We need PSAs and other media and laws changed and better examples set. We need to eradicate the lie that “Gays harm boys”. A gay man is attracted to a man, not to his seven-year-old son. Homophobes equate gay with pedophile, and that is the root of the Boy Scouts not allowing adult LGBTQ people to be involved. Pedophiles infiltrate organizations where they will have access to kids. Yet the Boy Scouts of America think boys are being raped because there are gays involved. This is a prime example of a wrong public perception that we need to debunk. Prove to society that LGBTQ is not a threat; that is why the younger generations don’t worry about who is homosexual or not – they don’t see LGBTQ as a threat.

Personally, I know many LGBTQ people in committed relationships who feel most Pride parades don’t represent them at all. When the parades turn into an excuse to have a drunken/drugged barely clothed orgy on a public street, you will have some in society using that as “proof” that LGBTQ is a threat. I’m not telling anybody how to enjoy Pride – just wanted to point out the possibly irrationally unpopular opinion that many family-oriented LGBTQ folks have. Most of them I know avoid Pride because drunken debauchery is not kid-safe. Basically, party wild if you want to folks, but don’t be surprised if Pride footage on the news is used as “proof” that LGBTQ is a threat.

I understand the frustration and the sense that, being on the other side of it without loss of one’s life, a person can look back and say to the closeted person, “Go ahead, it’s okay.” But we usually don’t know the risks they face, and we shouldn’t be so impatient that we are willing lose lives by not giving each person the right and space in which to decide for themselves.

Now that my words will probably be taken as well as a stick hitting a hornet nest, I’ll go sit in my bunker and wait to be attacked over them in general, by whomever.

I appreciate the passion of articles like the one above; but as a rape and abuse survivor, I only see that people need the right to assess risks they face that we don’t know about, and then make a personal choice for themselves. That way, it will be the right choice for them and it will give them strength to face the results of their choice. In the end, community spirit aside, we all have to face those risks and consequences alone, one way or another.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 6/19/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter


Silence is the Enemy

People often say: “I have no words”. Not me; I have plenty of words. Tracy Morgan speaks about stabbing’ his son to death if he was gay, and this filth surfaces in the comments on CNN’s blog, located here:

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/10/tracy-morgan-apologizes-for-homophobic-rant/

**********************************

June 10th, 2011 1:30 pm ET

Better dead than gay

Tracy’s healthy son likely would agree: It is better to be stabbed to death by dad, than living like a worm in the filth of another male

dkm

**********************************

I am grateful to the many other commentators on that page who vilified Tracy Morgan for his hate and reiterated how horrid it is to threaten to commit murder because a person loves someone of the same sex.

I am a polyamorous bisexual male. I am a father of four children who are loved and will be raised to not hate and to have compassion. My partners, a man and a woman, live with me and our kids. My male partner grew up with a father who harbored Tracy Morgan’s hatred. He hid his gay nature to save his life and yet tried to kill himself a few times as a child and teen due to fear and not being accepted or loved unless he was something he isn’t. Even pretending to be straight, his father beat him and his mother didn’t care if he breathed or not, as long as he did nothing to “disgrace” the family.

I am a survivor of physical and sexual abuse by both of my parents. I am also bipolar and struggle to stay alive on days when my past makes death seem better. Death is NOT better. People who are happy and not afraid of being harmed for no reason don’t consider suicide to be an option. Unfortunately, many people are in fear for their lives, while haters tell them they should die for being who they are.

LGBT PEOPLE (not just youth) deal with hate and abuse every single day, to one degree or another. They can’t marry in most parts of the world. Interracial marriage was legalized bout 44 years ago. Same-sex marriage is not “wrong” just as interracial marriage wasn’t wrong. Murder and assault are illegal. Freedom of Speech, yes, grateful for it; but yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater as a “joke” and see what the police do in response.

Some people, like the hateful one who wrote the comment above, will always be hateful; some can be helped to change their views. But most of the people complaining that gays are too sensitive and should suck it up and learn how to take a “joke”? The offense on that page is largely not about Tracy Morgan’s “comedy”. Gays and friends of gays are offended that Morgan said he would “stab his son to death if he said he was gay.” That’s not a joke, that’s hate.

I love comedy, I love “dirty humor”. I’m a fan of some very foul-mouthed comedians; but the comics I like don’t say things like that. What really makes me sad and angry is that controversy like this digs deep and pulls some ugly filth up from the dregs in the process. I know the LGBT community has come far, but when I read comments like the one above, I realize how far we still have to go. I just hope we’re all along for the ride and that none of our community will hurt themselves because others that spew such hate make them feel that there is no hope. There is hope. It does get better – but not by sitting around telling ourselves it’s going to be ok. We have to act. We have to speak out. We have to MAKE IT get better.

“Speak. Act. Silence is the enemy.”

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 6/10/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter


The Bible and Marriage Equality

Scholarly proof the Bible doesn’t hate LGBTQ or Marriage Equality!

Awesome pro-gay marriage posts from real Christians:

http://biblethumpingliberal.com/2012/08/06/about-christians-bigotry-and-homosexual-marriage-dear-sherree/

(The comments on this one above are amazing too, including one Torah scholar discussing the “abomination” misquote anti-gay people use so much).

This one is great too:

http://sacredpause-roger.blogspot.com/2012/07/same-sex-marriage-and-bible.html?m=1

This marriage equality issue and the hate and intolerance shown by so many “Christians” has seriously soured me on religion in general, even without my background of having been abused sexually as a little boy with one of my abusers being a church preacher and most of them were members of a church.

These men who wrote these posts (among a few others) prove that some decent religious people do exist. Just wanted to share….

– W.R.R.
8/8/2012


Children Were Abused By Teachers, Mr. Fletcher

Citing this story via L.A. Now: “Miramonte teachers to file grievances after removal from school” at http://topicfire.com/share/Miramonte-teachers-to-file-grievances-after-removal-from-school-19241128.html , I have to make a point about the authorities who claim to have the best interests of our children at heart. As I see it, both the school district and the teachers’ union are in the wrong in more than one area in this news article; but the following statement from Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, is the one I found most disturbing:

“We resent it when the district does so, and we resent it when this community and these parents have their children’s education deeply disrupted for no other purpose than to deflect criticism from an administration that failed to do its job.” – Warren Fletcher

What is being argued about is the Los Angeles Unified School District’s removal of the entire teaching staff (besides the two teachers who were arrested for child sex abuse) and replacing them with all new teachers. I can sympathize with innocent teachers, but I don’t think it is too draconian to expect them all to be investigated to assure parents and the community that there aren’t any more pedophiles hiding amongst them. One would think they’d all want to be sure about that.

Yet Mr. Fletcher’s words above disturb me intensely. “Deeply disrupt education for no other purpose than to deflect criticism”…? Mr. Fletcher, parents removed their children from Miramonte in droves because they don’t want their children to be raped or otherwise abused by teachers and staff at the school. Whatever political fisticuffs you wish to engage in with the school district for its decision regarding your teachers, don’t try to imply that their removal was solely to play a blame game while “disrupting education” in the process. What has disrupted education, and probably grievously damaged the lives of the abused students, was the abuse they endured at the hands of two of your teachers, sir, as well as the threat of possible abuse to the thus far unharmed (we hope) majority of the students at that school.

One assumes you are an intelligent man, Mr. Fletcher; I bet the plaques on your wall say so. It would be encouraging to parents and community (and the world watching) if you cared more about the safety of children than the reputation of your union, while hiding behind a fabricated outrage at the “disruption of education”.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 2/13/2012
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse. You are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter
@RagMan_RIP


The Alchemy of Hate

I propose that hate is the alchemy of turning life and love into death and despair.

For your consideration:

The pleasure of hating, like a poisonous mineral, eats into the heart of religion, and turns it to rankling spleen and bigotry; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands: it leaves to virtue nothing but the spirit of censoriousness, and a narrow, jealous, inquisitorial watchfulness over the actions and motives of others.

— “On the Pleasure of Hating”
William Hazlitt, ca. 1826

This quote could be interpreted in many ways and used by all sorts of “factions” on either side of many arguments.

However, one thing that continues to mystify me is the fact that those who believe their hate is righteous or sanctioned somehow tend become disproportionately upset when the group, race, creed etc of people whom they hate become angry at the accusatory and/or vilifying rhetoric that is being heaped upon them. If the people they hate chose to respond in like kind and with equal violence, the cycle of hate-fueled carnage is hard to stop.

Take anti-gay hatred, for example. A homophobe may spout rhetoric about how LGBT people are less than human, hated by (their) God, and their lifestyles are disgusting abombinations, etc. This person may feel gratified when other homophobes agree with them. Yet the moment a member of the LGBT community gets angry, takes offense, and responds, this homophobe often acts surprised, as if they are saying, “Why are you angry? What I say is true.” This attitude seems to believe that the accused don’t matter so they shouldn’t be allowed to protest, let alone defend themselves. If the accused is angry and responds with anger, the homophobe often twists the exchange to suit their rhetoric (i.e.: See how the gay person shouts foul language? It’s proof that he’s subhuman).

Another mystery to me is why even a reasonable approach falls on deaf ears. The homophobe seems incapable of “seeing the other side”. If they could do this, we could perhaps get a lot further in the effort to end hate. If the tables were turned and hetero rights were taken away, wouldn’t that same homophobe be outraged at the loss of his rights? Wouldn’t he become an activist to get them back, and become angry at the people who called him sub-human and said “God hates you”?

For some things there can be no compromise without at least one side changing their views, but why is the “live and let live” concept so unacceptable? If you can’t tolerate a type of music, is the only solution to ban and destroy it, and all those who create it, from the face of our earth? Can some people sit at their desks under a sign that reads “God is Love” and sign an order to murder all rap artists? Why is it so difficult to just change the channel?

If your “enemy” insists on a fight to the death, you have two choices: fight back, or wait to be slaughtered. Shouldn’t people who claim to be civilized and intelligent beings be capable of a third option? “Live and let live” is not as hard or repugnant as it may seem.

Now just as there are no compromises for some things, there are other areas where we do have to have laws to protect people that may curb the “freedom” of others. For instance, a non-offender parent can’t legally allow a pedophile parent to rape their child (even though some do, and get away with it). We have laws to protect children from rape. The harm rape does to any person has been a proven and studied fact. However, I have seen no concrete studies that LGBT people or their lifestyles, between consenting adults, that prove that “gay” is a threat. It’s all just fear-mongering from a position of ignorance, dogma, and hereditary hatred; a hatred that loves to twist things, including facts, laws, and interpretations of the Bible, to support its views.

If you look at the facts, which side has blood on its hands? Are there gays going out to catch and murder hetero people? Do gays beat a straight man, tie him to a pole and set him on fire? Do lesbians rape straight women to “teach them how women are supposed to act”? To my knowledge, these are all hetero crimes against LGBT people. I wonder if the murderers and rapists among my enemies have gone home and wiped the blood and soot from their hands onto the crisp white banner overhead that proclaims “Thou Shalt Not Kill”?

I am not anti-God, or anti-Christian. I am not anti-hetero; I know and love many people who are hetero and Christian, and they love and accept me. Yet as long as others choose to hate me and attack me just for being in the LGBT community, I have a bitter struggle ahead in the effort to remain anti-hate. Being attacked and having my rights either removed or never granted in the first place makes me angry. Being assaulted by those who are trying to kill me makes me rise up to survive, to defend my life. Do I not have the same right to defend myself as those who have made themselves my enemy? I didn’t create them to be my enemy. They chose to hate, to abolish, to outlaw, and in some cases to attack and kill, people like me. History has shown a long story of LGBT people being assaulted and murdered by those who hate them. Are there cases of LGBT people killing hetero people just because they hate them? If there are any at all, it’s bound to be a grossly disproportionate number. Most people in the LGBT community simply want to be left in peace – with the same rights as everybody else. For those in the hetero community who support their gay friends’ rights, that’s all they want to.

I see nothing but mass horror if the LGBT people were to respond in kind as their attackers do. However, I will not wait for the slaughter just because I do not want to fight. I prefer to seek that elusive third option of “live and let live”.

Something for all of us to consider is another example of hatred’s alchemy: school shootings. This tragic horror may simply be the rare extreme example of a person pushed beyond sense into a “hate for hate” response to endless attacks, humiliation, and the eventual atrophy of hope. In its place, hatred creeps into the heart, insidious and mindless. Even so, these people, so often children, don’t merely “snap” one day for no reason. There is always a reason.

In all areas and ways you may fall into hate, ask yourself why. What does it gain you, and what do you stand to lose because of it? Can you truly only achieve peace and happiness by wading through blood, or the pain of others you may not even know? You don’t have to embrace what you cannot agree with, but perhaps it wouldn’t end your way of life to simply leave others at peace in theirs?

As long as people hate and turn to violence to express it, be prepared to watch as they one day alchemize your love and life into death and despair. Knowing what’s at stake, isn’t a third option worth striving for? Live and let live is just that. It’s not so hard to do if we just try.

~~~

© W.R.R. 12/9/2011
For the fallen, murdered by hate; and for those who still strive to live in spite of it.


Innocence Vs Acceptance

Innocence: defined as a lack of being  worldly or carnal, but it’s a concept that is more than just physical purity. A majority of people in our society scoff at innocence, either in private or publicly. When they do so publicly, they are often repeated, retweeted, even hi-fived, ad nauseum. From there, scoffing often devolves into outright hostile mockery. This seems so odd to me; why all this hostility, this strange sense of superiority to innocence?

For those of us who are devoted parents, shouldn’t we want (and hope for) a certain level of innocence to be present in our children? For the most part, we do. Yet many of these same parents view a celebrity who gives the impression of innocence with utter disdain. Nobody can be “cool” unless they are worldly, experienced… even perhaps cynical. Those people are trusted, admired, and eagerly followed.

On the other hand, the scales of innocence and experience are a dicey prospect, sociologically speaking. If a celebrity goes too far over the unfixed and debatable “line” between entertaining experience and utter reprehensible debauchery, they are also shunned, mocked, and scoffed at. Of course, this situation isn’t limited to celebrity – it’s common in every town, every high school, and every conference room.

I suppose a person vilifying  the human train wrecks of society isn’t too hard to grasp, though it’d be more humane to pity them. They were chasing  fame and fortune, got lucky or had real talent, and then the pressure to stay on top of their game became too much for them. Strange that with the innocent celebrities, some people seem insidiously eager to see them fall, even while they ridicule the fallen.

It could be argued that it’s human nature to shun them, the innocent and the train wreck people alike. Both the “herd” and “pack” mentalities dictate that the unfit must be driven from our midst. Is it that simple, though? After all, one man’s unfit is another man’s brother, lover, daughter, son, mother, or friend. How many people who mock a celebrity who has fallen from grace have also gotten outraged that a homophobic bully targeted their gay friend? To the bully, taught to hate as they do, the gay person is as unfit as the celebrity who was being mocked.

It can’t be that simple. As motives go, when the train wreck person is rich and famous, the most common motive is jealousy. “They had all that, but look at them now, serves them right.” Serves them? For what? Why seek “punishment” for the rich and successful, when all most of us dream of is being  rich and successful? The line for buying lottery tickets is chock-full of hypocrites grousing about the fallen angels on the magazine covers they pass on the way to their chance at fortune.

At the root of this, for me, is the curious rejection of innocence. The innocent is mocked and then forgotten, but the celebrity train wreck stays in the news, because their plight is “entertainment”. Yet both the “cool” people and the train wreck people are ranked higher than the innocent in society’s brutal Darwinian scale of acceptance. Why?

There is even conflict among the innocent people. Some are happy with their situation and proud in the face of mockery, but others can’t wait to rid themselves of their innocence. Is innocence a disease? No, it’s not; but society tells us we must desire to be cool, and innocence isn’t cool. Remember those children? At least half of them if not more are probably sitting  around wishing  they were cool, and they know how to get there. Sex is a big route; then there are drugs, alcohol, smoking, and misconduct. Academic achievement is how to get branded a bigger nerd, not how to become “cool”. Blame society, folks.

Yet why does society reject innocence? I believe it is because society as a whole has already lost their innocence and they know they can’t get it back. There is a price to being  “cool”, being worldly; yet those who seek it don’t realize until it’s too late that maybe they’d rather not pay that price. Like the wealth they don’t possess, they end up rejecting  and finally mocking what they can’t have – what they can’t be.

Obviously, I’m discussing  the extremes of society for the most part, though I’m not even getting  into a chat about the real ugly deviants who enjoy hurting others for the “fun” of it. In the midst of the extremes, many people start innocent, grow up, get worldly for better or worse, trade innocence for experience and end up more or less happy. Some of these people even trade innocence for wisdom, compassion, and an ability to understand another person’s pain, and they lend a hand where and when they can.

For the record, I am not innocent in any context of the concept of innocence. However, I didn’t throw my virginity on a trash heap in an effort to be “cool”, or in a blind rush to usher in adulthood. My physical virginity was torn from me as a child, by my parents. To cope, I collected vices like other boys collect stamps. So that may give insight as to why I’m against the mockery of and active efforts to cheapen the value of innocence.

Now, though, I’m a parent. My children are innocent, free of the horrors I was forced to adapt to in order to survive. I want them to be free to choose for themselves in all aspects of life. What I don’t want is to have society tell them that unless they are this or that, they can’t be “cool”. Locking  them up in a convent isn’t the answer, though, so what do I do? Simple – I teach them about true choice, true value, and the real worth of innocence; and then I protect them from outside forces that would try to harm them.

My final question was: Why are people willing  to ruin their lives in the insane quest to be “cool”? I already know the answer, though. “Cool” is just a word. What it is at its root is acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t just mean one has friends. It means one won’t be shunned out of society. This drive to be accepted by our peers, our herd, or our pack; it’s instinctive, even primal.

In animals, the unfit is driven away or killed in order to preserve the health of the group. In people, it’s different, and far more brutal. We have “evolved” into a species that drives out the unfit, people who may not be unfit at all. They are merely branded “unfit” by the present group doing  the driving  out, because that group only wants members to be just like them. Anybody not just like the group could “taint” the group. This does nothing to improve the health of the group, or of society.

To me, this is nothing  more than our base instincts being  twisted into something sick and likely dangerous to many. For those who don’t agree, ask Stuart Walker of Scotland. Wait, we can’t do that; Stuart was beaten and burned alive, left out on the street as a warning – to other gay people. Yet most folks I talk to would agree that Stuart wasn’t “unfit” for any reason, and certainly not because he was gay. So why was he murdered? Because some people don’t agree with us that a gay man isn’t “unfit”, or a threat to their group.

One could argue I’ve wandered a bit from the topic of innocence and why it’s rejected and mocked. I haven’t – I’ve just carried it down a few different and variably disturbing pathways. What did neighbors, friends, and family say in the papers about Stuart Walker? He was a kind, decent, caring person, who hadn’t committed a crime or harmed or aggravated anybody. He was innocent.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 11/2/2011