Motivation V Defeat

After finding the inspiration to write my previous blog after eight months of silence I hoped revisiting the refuge in Melbourne had spurred the motivation to continue this challenge. However, as much as I want to pursue this, defeat is always sitting on my shoulder, primarily in the form of physical pain rather than emotional ineffectiveness.

In January I received a letter from South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence (CASA) confessing confusion as to how to proceed with my letter sent four months prior. It was noted the letter had not progressed to the CASA Forum as promised. I have not been able to respond but must.

Today, I read in the local paper that three brothers charged with the sadistic rape of a fourteen year old girl two years ago have had the case against them dropped. This in itself enraged me, but the inane comments in the media about feeling sorry for these men if they have been charged incorrectly and the impact it will have on their lives, or that the police would only have dropped charges if there was insufficient evidence etc., enrages me more.

The truth is that this poor tortured, now sixteen year old girl is too traumatised to face the court process knowing she will be grilled on the stand and made to relive every sordid detail. While some have claimed this to be a healing process I can’t imagine it being so for a fractured sixteen year old. I could not face the thought of proceeding through the court process in my forties or even now. Although feeling nauseous, ‘Mary’ would be unable to even read such reports without descending into an inconsolable, weeping state of grieving.

If there is irrefutable, undeniable evidence then the court system must be improved to prevent women being further humiliated and shamed and terrorised by having to prove they are a victim.

Silenced, destroyed, shamed and saddened

Silenced and unable to write since my last post on May 16, 2016, eight months have been taken from me, while I existed in limbo as a result of the verbal abuse I experienced from my boss in October 2015.

During that time I vowed to use this medium to name and shame my boss and my employer for the treatment I received, however, that may have to wait.

Yesterday I found myself one street away from where I believed the refuge I escaped to in many years ago was located. Always seeking to confirm any memory of my life I wondered if I could find it and how I would feel if I did.

Yes, there it was. The same brick wall, the same gate. The house looked different, but this was a sunny day, not the dusky evening I wrote of, standing distressed and exhausted outside that gate.

As I stood peering through the opening; wondering, thinking, trying to remember, a nun approached me asking if she could help. I responded, ‘No, I am just remembering’. She enquired if I had been there before. I replied, ‘Yes, probably about 1995 (1993 according to my book) and it was a women’s refuge, to which she answered, ‘It still is’.

My eyes searched for evidence of the balcony where I believed I had sat sobbing for hours. She confirmed it was there and asked if I wanted to go in. I did and I didn’t.

I revealed I had written a book which included my recollections of being there. She gently questioned how my life was now, what was I doing? I explained my work experience stating I now hoped to fight for sexual abuse victims to be included in the Discrimination Act.

Expressing my appreciation for what they do and for their care over 20 years ago, I offered her a signed copy of my book. She hugged me stating that, ‘God had a plan for me’.

If that is true I wish he would hurry up and tell me what that is as time is running out!

 

 

Truth or Lies?

“When one person makes an accusation about you or against you remember that usually it is not you that is the guilty one. Very often it is those who accuse you that are weak or have their own issues. They can make the most noise about something that is simply not real or the truth. Remember to stand in the light of who you truly are”….. Kelly Marie Callander

Positive acknowledgement is affirming even when you are 63

Exiting a meeting with lawyers this morning I was bereft, physically drained of all energy and sobbing uncontrollably. I leaned against a pole waiting for lights to change and sobbed, irrespective of who witnessed my grief.

This is an experience often referred to in Finding Mary and I can’t believe I am still fighting to be supported, to be heard, to be believed, fighting to validate my existence.

In this meeting I was asked to determine what I wanted out of this process of pursuing justice. Given the financial and emotional risks the easiest decision would be to walk away, dust myself off – AGAIN – and allow injustice to prevail.

Then I checked my post box and found a personally addressed card. Hesitant to open it, fearing something negative, I was proved wrong – incredibly wrong. The card read:

Dear Liz,

I bought ‘Finding Mary’ yesterday. Lay on my bed all afternoon and couldn’t put it down.

Thank you for having the courage to write your story. I also can’t remember my childhood, except for implicit body memories.

There were many occasions when I felt like it was me talking.

Thank you.

So, for all the pain and trepidation of putting my story out there, all the fear of trolls or rejection and in contrast to the person who delighted in telling me she didn’t enjoy my book, this one card has made my decision worthwhile. Thank you to the writer.

There are many out there still suffering the fear of what is now known as body memories and the dissociation that accompanies them. There are many who still do not believe and there is still debate in America about Repressed Memory Syndrome.

We still have a long way to go.

Secrets and Shame

Shame depends on secrecy to keep it alive.

Shame and secrecy are dangerous; they keep us hidden and fearful.

Abuse victims are told they have secrets that must be kept. These secrets are secrets of violation: abuse, violence, threats, belittlement, intimidation, sexual attacks. Dangerous things, made so much more dangerous by the shame that stops us talking about them.

When we speak out loud about such things, we are saying their secrets are not shameful – not for the victims anyway. We say they do not have to carry secrets; that this is not their shame, not their fault, not their burden to carry and they are not alone.

We say that shame belongs to the perpetrators, the ones who do have to hide what they’ve done. We shine a light on the excuses that try to shift the shame to the victims and show them for what they are – guilt. We say that their abusers hide from guilt by claiming responsibility lies with the victim. We say that this is wrong, that no one can ever be held responsible for the crimes someone else chooses to inflict upon them. We tell perpetrators the shame is theirs alone. And in doing so, we help victims become survivors.

A voice is the most powerful thing any single person has; use it to speak for ourselves and on behalf of others, and when we do that, we change the world.

Voices have been heard in Rome – and it is believed there are many more voices as yet unheard – voices that remain silent due to secrecy and shame. It is believed, and hoped – for the victims benefit – that these voices will become more prevalent given the wave of support that is being shown to the victims who have braved the Royal Commission and Rome. There are also thousands who have been abused outside the institutional system who are now struggling with the constant reminders and may eventually speak out.

All these victims deserve the human right of protection from further abuse in society; abuse in the form of derogatory, demeaning, insulting comments or behaviour that refers to their past. This is where I have found a void. Nowhere in the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Charter are victims of abuse afforded any protection and I believe it must be exposed. For victims to tell their story for the first – and sometimes even the thousandth time – is horrific and terrifying and they will be afraid to speak out if they still feel they have no protection.

We must search for an amendment to the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Charter.

Justice – then and now

In recent weeks further historical cases of sexual abuse have been initiated against Rolf Harris and Bill Cosby, some dating back over 40 years.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse is also investigating claims dating back that far.

Germany has swooped on three elderly former guards who served at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in WW2 where 1.1 million Jews were exterminated. Those seized are all men aged 88, 92 and 94. The 94 year old has been charged over the murders of 3,681 people at the Auschwitz extermination camp during the Second World War.

Some would ask what purpose it serves to spend all this time and money on events that occurred up to and over half a century ago.

WHY?
Because for all those years the victims have existed in their shame and disgust and terror and grief, with their locked in secrets destroying them from the inside.

Some would ask, and I have heard women my age say it, “I don’t believe it, why wouldn’t they have told someone then?”

WHY?
Here, the reasons become too many to list. Shame, brainwashing – being told it is your fault, no one will believe you, you will be responsible for the break-up of the family etc. Disbelief and sheer terror, to the point – as in my case – where your brain destroys any memory of your existence just to stay sane – in some absurd belief it would protect you.

But wrong!
The implicit (unknown) memories haunt and demonise you for a lifetime.

For the Auschwitz survivors PTSD was unheard of. They were probably so grateful to be released they never considered justice.

But society has evolved. What was accepted then is not accepted now. Today we have human rights that say you cannot discriminate against any person with the following characteristics. It also refers to not being able to victimise, harass or bully any person with these characteristics.

• age
• carer and parental status
• disability (including physical, sensory and intellectual disability, work related injury, medical conditions, and mental, psychological and learning disabilities)
• employment activity
• gender identity, lawful sexual activity and sexual orientation
• industrial activity
• marital status
• physical features
• political belief or activity
• pregnancy and breastfeeding
• race (including colour, nationality, ethnicity and ethnic origin)
• religious belief or activity
• sex
• expunged homosexual conviction
• personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics.

However, what my current situation has uncovered is that apparently, if you have a history of childhood sexual abuse, you are not protected from being derided, shamed, insulted and demeaned or potentially discriminated against. You do not fit any of these characteristics. So I will fight to bring attention to this. As more and more people are being encouraged to ‘come out’ and share their stories they should have the right to do so without fear of further verbal abuse and insults, the right to be protected.

After taking 50+ years to face my story, for which there was no justice, I do not have 50 years to wait for justice for my present situation.

AFL players – Idiots or self centered, self absorbed, immature, narcissistic morons

Once more we are subjected to grown men needing to flaunt their ‘manliness’…..NOT…..by distributing sexually explicit photos of themselves.

Once more we are subjected to club leaders, declaring they will not take a stand against these AFL players as it is regarded as a ‘private’ matter. Eddie McGuire’s feeble attempts at humour only devalue the behaviour and once more demonstrates his inability to connect with public – or appropriate – response.

Will the AFL do the same; or stand by it’s so called social media policy which states the league is likely to view ‘accessing, downloading or transmitting any kind of sexually explicit material’ as inappropriate – (includes SMS and instant messaging).

It appears men are learning nothing of the enormous efforts to educate and enlighten society to the scourge of sexual and domestic violence against women. A scourge that is built on and encouraged by this male back slapping, supposedly laugh a minute, look at me, mens’ club attitude. The only people who may be impressed by this behaviour are similarly minded – or mindless – morons.

But more tragically than men’s own inability to see themselves for who they truly are is the hard-to-comprehend, apparent support from their female partners. Instead of acknowledging the only people responsible for this appalling behaviour are the men themselves, it seems one partner is trying to deflect blame by claiming it is jealousy and ‘unhappy people trying to bring happy people down’.

To defend a grown man against such behaviour is abysmal. Will this woman become the mother who will go on to defend her son at child care if he throws a tantrum when he can’t get his own way, who will hide misdemeanours from his father when he is a teenager…..because fathers – even ones who have behaved abhorrently themselves…..will be stricter with their own children?

Will the current partner, future mother, contribute to the cycle of generations of men being permitted to behave abominably, not just disgracing themselves, their family and friends, but ultimately creating a societal circle where men view their bodies as powerful weapons and  themselves as superior and women will continue to experience horrendous domestic and sexual violence.

Women also have the power to contribute to change for the future.