Monday, 29 September 2014

Stomaching My Body

I've had issues with my body for many years. It's not even close to the most shocking thing about me and it's not unique to me either as many people have struggles with their body. It's no surprise that I do considering I spent my formative years being bullied relentlessly. There were many reasons for that but appearence was definitely in there. Anything you could bully someone for, I was bullied for. I was made to feel incredibly ugly and unattractive. I was just starting to heal some of those wounds and move past it when I was raped.

After I was raped I wanted to hide myself away not just by hiding in my bedroom but by concealing my body. I wore baggier things unless I was roped into wearing something more revealing. This only got worse post-miscarriage. I rarely wore make-up, dresses were scary and more critically I felt like the ugliest piece of shit that roamed the Earth. I still do. If I get told I'm attractive, I question why. I wonder what their ulterior motive is or whether they're trying to force me into something I don't want to do. Hell, the man who raped me spent weeks trying to get me to get with him despite my persistent refusals. What would make me think that anyone telling me I'm attractive is at all genuine? Because I sure as hell didn't believe it myself.

This has started to change. A chain of recent events have started to make me feel that maybe, just maybe, I'm not the ugliest thing in the world. I have the ability to be attractive and I believe in it. I've started to explore myself and my body which hasn't always been easy whilst enduring various medical tests for various medical problems.

One of the stickiest issues is showing off my abdomen area. I have a few issues with bloating and my weight due to having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It's made me insanely self-conscious even in the most intimate of settings and that only got worse after I had experienced pregnancy then the miscarriage. I had to confront it head-on when I went swimming recently. I didn't have a swimming costume and a friend very kindly lent me a bikini that just about fitted. I haven't worn a bikini in years, I felt scared to wonder out into a public arena in a bikini, my stomach out for show. I did it. I felt good not just from the exercise but from conquering and proudly wondering out in a challenging outfit. Sure, I could definitely get toned and get fit but hell it's a start.

Bikini selfie costs a few seconds. Body pride = Priceless

I even felt confident enough the next day to immediately reach for a dress, make myself look nice and wear a lot of jewellery. Why? Because I can if I want to. Does anyone else get to tell me what to wear? Nope.

Lots and love and solidarity <3 XXX

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A Helpful Quote

I don't lie about my journey being simple. I'm glad I don't because whilst there are excruciating moments riddled with pain and misery I have had some incredible moments of joy. I have started to take the power and control back. The journey is not over.

Lots of love and solidarity. Always <3 XXX

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

An Open Letter to Sam Pepper & his fans (that he & they will probably never read)


I know the liklihood of this being read is incredibly small but I feel so motivated by the events that have unfolded recently with Sam Pepper's abhorrent videos that I think I have to say something if only for the benefit of the people who regularly read my blog.

I came across the disgusting "Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank." video on YouTube and I also came across several of the 'humourous' videos that have some consistent themes to them: sexually assaulting women for sick amusement whether it's with a fake hand or a lasso. Suffice to say not only a woman but as a survivor of rape and sexual assault I was beyond disgusted. I still am now. Sexual assault is not a laughing matter regardless of what point you're trying to make. Making a joke out of an issue that affects millions across the UK, let alone the world, is a poor choice to say the least.

I'm not alone in my disgust. Many people have taken to Twitter and Facebook to express their disgust, some of which (including a friend of mine) have ended up in debates with supporters who seem very keen to threaten violence against people who express disdain. Some YouTubers have signed an open letter asking that these videos should stop being made and taken down.

The response? A ridiculous and insincere video known as 'reveals' defending the pranks. There was a claim to want to shine a light on domestic abuse and I must give small credit for putting links to abuse information. However the video only talked about men being at the receiving end of abuse and men being the victims of assault as if that's the bigger problem. Yes, it's a problem too and yes it's bad HOWEVER there is a much, much bigger problem with women being sexually assaulted, raped and abused. In the UK alone 85,000 women are raped every year and 850,000 women are sexually assaulted. Women are targetted on an everyday basis. Both male and women-targetted abuse is something feminism wants to stop because funnily enough, unity is what feminism wants. Something that is not being understood by a certain Sam Pepper.

On a simple and serious brief point - what the bloody hell does domestic violence against men have anything to do with the videos of your fake hand touching arses or using a lasso to 'ensnare' women? Just asking.

Mr Pepper, you said yourself that you don't understand what it's like to be a woman whose been assaulted. Allow me to enlighten you as a survivor of both sexual assault and rape. It's abhorrent, extremely frightening and an isolating experience. You feel dirty, invaded and that feeling doesn't go away. It sticks and you feel like the world is an evil, glaring place. In the times where there are witnesses, they've either laughed or done nothing. My experiences have left me incredibly scarred. I'm struggling with PTSD, anxiety and depression. I sometimes cannot sleep for not only repeated flashbacks that scare the shit out of me but also for the fact that I was drugged and realised I was being raped whilst regaining consciousness. I have major issues with trust, intimacy and many other things. Sometimes I feel so scared and alone that I can't bear to get out from under my covers to venture out of my bedroom, let alone my house.

Is my pain funny? Are my experiences to be used for cheap comedy? Apparently so judging by the content of Sam Pepper's videos. You take delight in insighting misery upon women by assaulting and pressuring them. Clearly you find what I've gone through a source of amusement. Congratulations for catering to the sick demographic of internet users who are rape culture enablers.

I have one challenge for Sam Pepper and anybody who endorse what he did or think that making rape/sexual assault jokes - say it to my face. Come out of hiding from your keyboard and fake-bravado personas and tell me that my experiences are to be ridiculed and laughed at. I dare Sam Pepper to look at me in the eye and tell me the experiences of myself and many other survivors should be laughed at for enduring what we've had to endure. I bet he won't. Not because he's repentant because he isn't but because he's too cowardly. So are his supporters.

Many thanks for reading,

P.S. #WeSupportYouDottie

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Debunking the Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding rape and sexual assault perpetuated by the enablers, apologists and the attackers themselves to justify the culture that dictates blame where it doesn't belong. Myths are very damaging to survivors and they need to be not only addressed but debunked continuously until they stop. Without further a-do, I will list some of them now and debunk them with the facts.

Myth: Rape only happens to young, 'attractive' women
Fact: People are raped regardless of age, gender identity, class, sexuality, race etc. Sexual violence has very little to do with attractiveness because it's an act of violence.

Myth: They didn't get hurt or fight back. It couldn't have been rape.
Fact: Rapists often use threat of further violence or weaponry to intimidate their targets. Fear is incredibly powerful, powerful enough to limit the ability to fight back. Personally, I was absolutely paralyzed with fear when I came to that morning. I couldn't move out of fear and horror. It was rape through and through. I was pretty convinced I was going to die and in the face of that, I was scared beyond words. The fact I didn't feel able to fight back doesn't make it right. Rape is never justified.

Myth: Men of certain races/backgrounds are more likely to be sexually violent.
Fact: There is no typical shadowy figure who is likely to rape. The perpetuation that certain races rape more than others is nothing more than racist propaganda. There is no correlation between the incidence of rape and race, social economic class etc.

Myth: "I was under stress/drunk/depressed/on drugs/not myself."
Fact: There is no justification for rape ever no matter how much the rapist wishes to justify themselves. Rape is never justified.

Myth: "She was so intoxicated/unconscious."
Fact: If someone is unconscious or if their judgement is impaired by alcohol or drugs, they are legally unable to consent to sex. Having non-consensual sex with someone who is intoxicated or unconscious is rape. Rape is never justified.

Myth: "She was wearing 'slutty' clothes. She was asking for it."
Fact: Wrong. Men are able to wear whatever they wish, why is there a double-standard that means women can't do the same? Generally when the media reports on women being raped, the survivors are always described in the 'roles' they have e.g. mother, politician's daughter, teacher's wife etc. There's always a discussion about what she was wearing, whether she had been out alone, whether she was drinking, her general behaviour as if to shift responsibility away from the rapist to the survivor herself. Some publications have gone as far as to portray rapists as victims of malicious allegations, stupidity, carelessness - anything! Ever heard of the victim of a robbery be blamed for being provocative? Didn't think so. Rape is never justified.

Myth: Men who rape or sexually assault are mentally ill.
Fact: Studies show that as few as 5% of rapists are under psychotic episodes at the time of their crimes. Few convicted rapists are referred for psychiatric treatment. Again, this is used as another way to shift the blame away from the rapist. Rape is never justified.

Myth: Rapists are sexually frustrated/don't have the opportunity to have sex with a willing partner.
Fact: Rapists are just as likely as anyone else to be in a significant romantic relationship. One in five women are raped by their partners. As a crude side note - has nobody heard of masturbating/sex toys? They're readily available at not even majorly unreasonable prices (your hand is free of charge). I have a few friends that aren't in relationships, are sexually frustrated but would never rape a woman because they are decent human beings. This myth is not only a sick jusification attempt but it's also a means to make women mere sex objects. We're not. We're human beings.

Myth: "They shouldn't be wondering around at night alone. That's when the strangers in the alleyways leap and attack."
Fact: 90% of rapes are committed by known men whether they are family relatives, friends, partners, ex partners etc. By process of elimination, only 10% of rapes are committed by strangers.

Myth: Women often make up stories or lie about being raped.
Fact: There is a majorly disproportionate focus by the Media on the very small number of cases each year that involve supposed false allegations of rape/sexual assault. In March 2013, the Crown Prosecution Service published a survey confirming that false rape reports are very rare and they suggest they make up less than 1% of all reports. Do the media report on this? Nope! This is incredibly damaging and the statistics back it up. It is estimated that only 15% of the 85,000 women who are raped and the 400,000 women who are sexually assaulted actually report the incident. One major reason for this is because there is a major fear among survivors that they will not be believed.

There are more myths out there, I could spend forever debunking them. This is only the start but the one message resonates; rape is never justified no matter what. This is the truth and it has to get out there far and wide.

Lots of love and solidarity <3 XXX

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Bad Days

They suck. Big time. It's at times all-consuming. I'm either over-ridden in pain and fear or so far gone I'm numb to the world. I can't feel because I cannot cope with the outside world.

I'm in a low patch. It's been gradually arriving for a while but a week ago it finally kicked into full swing. A mixture of stress and pressure from a variety of sources hasn't helped the situation in the slightest. I've been signed off work for the time being. The idea of stepping outside the door is a daunting prospect, let alone going out into the world as a functioning member of society. A full night's sleep is elusive. The anxiety attacks are intense and sometimes triggers can be so overwhelming that I can hardly breathe.

The flashbacks are back. The blinding visual memories of what he did are just the icing on the cake. Sometimes I can smell the same smells, feel every sensation... it's like I'm there again. And again. It's like I never got to leave, I never escaped. I'm re-living it on loop. I wish it would stop because it's driving me crazy at night. I used to have no qualms about sleeping in the same room as another human being. Right now, that's a scary prospect unless I happen to trust them. Even then, I feel obligated to warn them that I'm not the best of bed fellows.

It's a whole load of fuckery on top of fuckery. I know that's a very ineloquent way of saying it but frankly there is no good way to put it. The vocabulary isn't there to describe the fullness of how it feels. It's scary enough for me to launch into denial. Seem a lot happier than I actually am because my true feelings would push everybody away.

Sometimes I can see a bit of lightness. Sometimes I give myself a break. But I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the support of my friends and family, particularly the two friends who rescued me last Wednesday night at the bus station whilst I was in floods of tears. Being messaged from afar hoping I get better or even resuming a non-pressurised sense of normality sometimes has been enough to bring a small smile to my face.

It's The Bad Days. I just want to see it through so I can get back to a better place and get back to the Road of Healing.

Lots of love and solidarity. Always <3 XXX