Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Hairy Truth Came Out

The day had come.

Thursday 26th June 2014, 1pm, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom

All gone!

My JustGiving page is still going so going so do donate if you can.

This is not the end. I'm still going to continue to raise money for Rape Crisis through fundraising but I'll continue to document my journey to healing and survival. I'm also going to document my hair regrowth and how I deal with being bald.

I wouldn't have been able to do this without the support of the incredible people who've helped me along the way including my awesome mother, my incredible fellow-survivor sister who did my hair and make-up beautifully, the friends who turned up, the friends who couldn't but sent all their love and everyone who got the word out and/or donated. You guys are the best.

Lots of love and solidarity. Always <3 XXX

Monday, 23 June 2014

Victim No More

This is another "share something awesome" blog.

I want to bring to your attention a charity based in Bournemouth called Victim No More. They help men and women who've been domestically abused and/or sexually assault/raped. It's run by a wonderful woman called Angela who is also an incredibly strong survivor.

She is currently preparing for an event she regularly runs called CharFest to raise money to help fund the charity. It's a wonderful event full of cosplay, music and fun for all the family. It's happening in Bournemouth in August this year. Go to the site I've linked to and if you're interested, definitely buy a ticket.

Angela and I have spoken to each other about the experiences of being a survivor and I'm continuously inspired by her positive outlook and brightness, her passion for helping others and her enjoyment in life. She's an incredible woman and as a fellow survivor I admire how well she's done. Check her out - she may just touch your heart too.

3 days to go. Less than 72 hours. I'm now counting down the hours... Wow!

Lots of love and solidarity <3 XXX

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Ana Anonymous

I want to bring to attention the blog of another survivor. They are known as Ana Anonymous. They have not waived their right to anonymity because backlash is unfortunately quite commonplace. I have had my fair share of mine so I can understand why this person has chosen to remain anonymous.

I have read the blog and it's a very interesting and powerful insight into the world of mental health, eating disorders and survival. I implore you to read it through this link:

5 days to go! I've reached my target but I know we can reach more. Do check out my JustGiving page and if you're able to, donate!

Lots of love and solidarity <3 XXX

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Target Reached.... Again!!

So during my shift at work I recieved the news that I had reached my £1000 fundraising target for Rape Crisis a week before I'm due to cut off/shave off all my hair. I am elated! Thanks to everyone whose donated and helped me get this far. I couldn't have done it without you!

The journey is not over... I still have to do the deed of course. I will do in exactly one week from now. If you wish to donate, do see my JustGiving page and click on the black, thick line under the donation totals. Keep following my blog as the journey continues!


Lots and lots of love and solidarity <3 XXX

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

One More Week...

...until the hair is gone. I'm finally at that point where the hair is due to be gone within mere days. Here would be a good time to explain how the day itself will go.

So here it is: Around 1pm on Thursday 26th June, I will be having my hair cut and shaved totally off by my awesome older sister Liza. I will be having it filmed and photographed. I'm also going to try and get someone to hand out cards for the blogs so anyone passing by may then go find out what I was doing this for.

Unless you have been advised otherwise by myself or close friends, I would encourage you to come down to High Wycombe if you wish to show your support. Take pictures, tweet about it, show it off on Facebook - get it all out there so we can raise awareness and raise more money for Rape Crisis.

If you're not able to make it, don't worry! We all have lives! Instead, maybe share this blog or the link to my JustGiving page telling everyone on your profile what I'm doing.

The people who've supported me thus far have all been very wonderful. It's a massive reason why I continue at all.

As always, lots of love and solidarity <3 XXX

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Exposure and Shame

With 12 days to go, the day I get rid of my hair is edging closer and closer. Scary yet exciting doesn't even cover it. I'm veering between the two when I'm not caught up in both at once. Getting rid of my hair for me is pretty radical but adding the fact that I'm doing this to raise money for Rape Crisis and  I've outed myself as a survivor and started telling my survivor's story amps it up.

Telling and being open about being a rape survivor has always been seen as a taboo. It still is. I've told people about what I've been through. Whilst many have been very kind and supportive, a lot have also expressed puzzlement about me being so open. 

"Why would you want to expose yourself like that?" 
"Aren't you worried about the way people will see you?" 
"Are you sure you could handle the exposure?"
"No one's really that open about it - are you sure you should be?"

I think I've proven my point just from the fact people have to ask these questions. I appreciate the concern I'm sure they have. Here's my response: I have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. Why should I remain quiet whilst thousands... No, millions of women are attacked in this vile and disgusting manner around the world? Many of them are shamed wrongly in the name of supposed honour or religion. Many are frightened into keeping quiet. We are expected to be quiet because it's the general expectation of a patriarchal global society. 

I refuse to be quiet. If not just for myself and the people I love then for all the survivors who go through their daily lives with their trauma buried deep within. I will stand and be counted. I won't rest or stop campaigning for changes until the changes come. I want to live in a world where women don't feel scared to venture alone. I want to live in a world where the rapists get found and punished under the harsh hand of justice under the law. 

Don't get me wrong - I still deal with feelings of shame, despair, anger, fear, upset and anguish. My anxiety, depression and PTSD are pretty damn severe. I have a long way to go in my own journey to healing and peace. I haven't dealt with it in the most perfect manner. I just want my story to help others and awaken the general population to not only the fact there is a problem with sexual violence but just how difficult it is to be at the receiving end so that something can finally be done about it.

Check out my JustGiving page if you feel like donating to the cause. It won't be long now. 

Lots of love and solidarity. Always <3 XXX

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Remaining Inspired

There have been many points in my life where I've really struggled. I've really struggled to see a point and have lacked motivation or inspiration to continue in life and do what I love the best. There have been times when I've felt like I've always been wasting my time but something always brings me back...'s not a singular thing. It's usually a cluster of things that include my family & dear friends. Sometimes it'll be people I've never met, known people, whose stories or words inspire me and make me keep going. I want to share some of that today in the hopes you too will also be inspired to continue your own journey or start something great.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou
"Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart" - Ancient Indian Proverb
(Discussing being targetted by the Taliban on "The Daily Show") "I started thinking about that and I used to think that the Talib would come and he would just kill me then I said 'If he comes, what would you do Malala?' Then I would reply myself, 'Malala just take a shoe and hit him' but then I said 'If you hit the Talib with your shoe then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others that much cruelty and that much harshly. You must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and education' then I said I'll tell him how important education is and then, 'I even want education for your children as well' and then I'll tell him 'That's all I want to tell you. Now you can do what you want.'" - Malala Yousafzai
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank
A Pep Talk from Kid President to You
This one is for fans of Hellsing Ultimate. Go watch the series if you can because it is sublime (although I have got to put out trigger warnings because latter episodes show scenes of sexual assault, rape and there's a lot of violence too albeit fantastical violence.)
It's a moment that inspires because even when you think there's no possible way, there always is one.
Interviewer: Why do you write strong female characters?
Joss Whedon: Because you're still asking me that question.
My great-grandmother Hilda Hill. Born in the very end of the 19th century, she lived to the age of 93. During her life she left school at the age of 14 to become a nanny, married, had 11 children, lived through two world wars, became widowed with teenage children. She died in 1991 when I was mere months from turning two years old. She lived an extraordinary life full of hardships and joy yet also spent her life with a notebook & a pencil on her person in case an idea came to mind. She wrote poetry until the very end of her life. I wish I had known her for longer but I feel a part of her is within me, propelling me creatively and through the hardships of life.
"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise

It's now exactly 14 days (2 weeks) till I cut off/shave off my hair for Rape Crisis. If you feel inspired enough to donate, please do on my JustGiving page. When you get to the page, click on the black line under the total sums raised thus far. Keep following my blog as the time draws closer.

Lots of love and solidarity <3 XXX

Sunday, 8 June 2014

I Don't Owe You

Before we begin: what happened at UCSB was absolutely awful and my sympathy is with the families of the people murdered and attacked by someone who had major issues. My thoughts also go to the killer's family as they try to make sense of what he did.

Unless you've been living under a cave recently or simply don't pay attention to the news, you would know that on (date), a man shot and stabbed students at UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara). His video manifesto was found shortly after. It would appear that the reason behind his attack is his anger that he couldn't get "hot, blonde women" to go out and have sex with him because they'd rather be with "dicks." When he describes the kind of woman he wants, he doesn't identify any trait that would indicate he was interested in women as people. He wanted an object to gratify him and he was angry that women exercised their right to reject him.

You'd think that people would be pointing out the incredibly flawed logic that this killer had and maybe have a proper discussion on how regulations need to be out in place so people like him cannot own fire arms. You would also think it was obvious this guy had issues and that people would come to the conclusion he was I'm the wrong. You'd be mistaken. There has been an outpouring of people saying he is a victim of "society's ideals". I've seen/heard people go "This is what happens when women don't give guys a chance." 

I'm not even remotely sorry to say that I completely disagree and am disgusted by this. We are not objects. Women are people - we breathe, we talk, we laugh, we feel. We're flawed and so are you. We are just as human and you expect US to just do your bidding like a thoughtless thing? If you were told by a woman who weren't attracted to that you just had to do what she wanted and fuck her whenever she wants, you wouldn't do it and I guarantee you would complain. 

"Women only fall for dickheads, not me." Have you ever considered that maybe it is YOU that is the dickhead? You seem keen to throw people you don't even know under the bus out of pure bitterness. Yes, there we abusive people and yes sometimes people fall for them. That's called having a manipulative charm. I'm not happy about it either as abuse is a serious problem but frankly, that's not the fault of all women everywhere. 

Excusing this murderer by blaming women and demanding they "give men a chance" feeds into the myth that men simply can't control themselves and women are just so damn provocative. This is a myth that needs to be seen as such. It is incredibly damaging and is precisely an aspect of the attitude that perpetuates the rape culture and gets women like myself raped. Don't believe me? Explain this: how is saying women rejecting 'nice men' was responsible for the UCSB murders any different from saying that I was responsible for being spiked and awaking whilst being raped? 

I'm getting majorly sick of people who constantly moan they're not getting any and blame it entirely on a specific gender and do nothing but bitch about their non-existent sex lives. Here's a tip: stop moaning constantly, get out there and just be a good person. Different strokes for different folks: I may not find you attractive but someone else may find you the most beautiful specimen on the planet. If you don't find anyone it's not the end of the world. There are far worse things to endure than not getting laid like losing a loved one, being evicted from your home or being forced into an act you do not consent to. Have a bit of perspective. 

This isn't what happens when you "don't give men a chance." This is what happens when society treat women like fuck objects and act like its their right to do so. It's not my problem if the facts cannot be faced. I don't owe you. 

I now only have 18 days to go till I cut off/shave off all my hair in aid of Rape Crisis. I am now under £200 away from reaching my target. If you can, please donate to my JustGiving page. All proceeds go to Rape Crisis.

Lots of love and solidarity. Always <3 XXX

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Me, Myself & I

"Jen, you do have an awful lot coming up at the moment. You do have to make sure you treat yourself."
"What do you mean?"
"You have to be kind to yourself too. It's all well and good doing things for other people but you've got to put yourself first sometimes."
"And that won't make me really selfish?"
"No. Why would it?"

I've had this conversation with a few close friends recently as my hair cut date approaches. I've been throwing myself into this and making sure taht I keep up the fundraising and keep up the work. I had said I would take time for me but truly, I wasn't.

Truth be told, I didn't really know how to put myself first. I've felt irrevocably selfish for doing so. The repeated tellings of "Be a good girl", "Think of others before yourself", the countless abusive remarks from the one abusive parent and the ensuing bullying throughout my time in compulsory education & sixth form has solidly reinforced to me that I don't deserve anything. Other people were always the priority, I've used this as a form of self-punishment especially in the aftermath of being raped, finding out I was pregnant and subsequently miscarrying. I felt like I really couldn't deserve to put myself first. Ever. Why should I when I could be silly enough not to spot the red flags in the predator who attacked me? Why should I when I failed to keep a foetus alive?

To say it's harsh is an understatement - I may have mental health issues but that doesn't make me unaware. I definitely would never say it to a fellow survivor. Far from it: I'd be telling them that they did deserve to put themselves first and that if anything it was a necessity to deal with what they've been through. So why on Earth wasn't I prepared to do the same for myself?

I'm still trying to work a lot out and I am, as I previously stated in other entries, awaiting psychological therapy under the NHS which is hopefully going to be a mix of talking about things and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.) 

For now, I have to start practicing what I preached. Start doing the things I feel comfortable with to make myself feel better and to make sure I'm okay first. If I want a few minutes alone to give myself a break from a social situation, I should allow myself that break. If I want to go out and see people, I should do so. It has to be a bit more about me as the time draws closer to do one of the biggest things I've ever done.

Continue to support me by keeping up with my blog and donating to my JustGiving page. Just under 3 weeks to go!!!

Lots of love and solidarity XXX <3

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Are they abusive?

I was rooting through my coat pockets to get rid of any rubbish I may have accumulated over time. I came across a great card I was given at the Million Women Rise protest this year from the Butterfly Foundation. It explains what characteristics are indicative of abuse and what are indicative of a loving partner. I feel that this has to be shared considering that over 90% of people are raped by someone they know, a lot of whom are ex/current partners of the survivor. 
Here are Person A and Person B. See if you can guess which one's which. For this, I removed binary gender pronouns as abusers are never specific to one gender.

Person A
This person...
  • Shouts
  • Sulks
  • Smashes things
  • Glares
  • Calls you names
  • Makes you feel ugly and useless
  • Cuts you off from your friends
  • Stops you from working
  • Never admits when they are wrong
  • Blames you/drink/drugs/stress
  • Turns your children against you
  • Uses the children to control you
  • Never does their share of the housework
  • Never looks after the children
  • Expects sex on demand
  • Controls the finances
  • Threatens or wheedles you to get their way
  • Seduces your friend/siblings/anyone else
  • Expects you to be responsible for their well-being

Person B
This person...
  • Is cheerful
  • Consistent
  • Supportive
  • Tells you you look good
  • Tells you you're competent
  • Uses your name
  • Trusts you
  • Trusts your judgement
  • Welcomes your friends and family
  • Encourages you to be independent
  • Supports your learning, career etc.
  • Admits when they're wrong
  • Is a responsible parent
  • Is an equal parent
  • Does their share of the housework
  • Accepts that you have the right to say 'no' to sex
  • Shares financial responsibility
  • Takes responsibility for their own well-being and happiness
  • In short, acts like a reasonable human being

If you think you may be in an abusive situation seek out those who love & care about you and services such as National Domestic Violence helplineRape Crisis (if applicable) or the Police (if applicable)

23 days to go until the hair goes! Please continue to support this blog and donate if/when you can by going to my JustGiving page and donate by clicking the thick black line by the sum totals.

Lots of love and solidarity <3 XXX