Friday, 5 February 2016

Time To Talk

This week has been both Mental Health Awareness Week and Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Week. It's an interesting but quite fitting coincidence considering the amount of mental health issues that arise as an after-affect of being on the receiving end of sexual violence/abuse. If you've been reading this blog, you'll know I'm a rape survivor and I struggle with mental health issues as a result of sexual violence and other non-sexual abuse issues I've experienced throughout my life. I have anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm also autistic.

It's not very possible to describe how life is day to day because one day is very different from the next. Some days I can be relatively calm and function almost normally. I can get up from bed, take my medication and go about my day ready to tackle the world. Other days I can barely see a point in leaving my bed out of sheer fear for what might happen. Little things like putting the oven on to cook dinner or getting dressed can be extremely daunting. Certain activities that most would find really mundane e.g. signing on at the job centre can be quite draining and I have to retreat back to my residence in order to unwind. Unexpected noises are sometimes really distressing especially sirens, honking horns, fast passing trains and loud building work. I depend on wearing headphones and listening to music when I'm out alone so I can listen to a noise I can control and still be able to pay attention to what's going on around me.

Social interactions are a mental minefield of me trying to appear fine when inside I'm unsure of what to say. I get so anxious when out that I get super reluctant to let people buy me drinks for fear I'll be spiked once again. Being around strangers is a nightmare. If I'm with a group of people and only know a couple of people, I cling to them for dear life to feel safe. In order to cope at comic cons, I have to prepare myself the week before and keep myself busy during the weekend so my brain hasn't enough time to overthink.

It doesn't get much better in the night. I am a very light sleeper and am very prone to waking up more than once in the middle of the night because of a strange sound. I struggle with flashbacks of the rapes and sexual assaults which creep up a lot in the night. I can wake up either sweating and trying to catch my breath or in a phased, numb state akin to being zombified. When I first started dating my now-partner, it took a while before I could sleep in the same bed as him without feeling anxious despite the fact I know he wouldn't attack me. I've struggled with sex and whilst I'm quite comfortable in my relationship, it doesn't stop me having moments of excruiating pain during sex or becoming overwhelmed and needing to stop.

This is just an overview but I feel it's important to tell. Many know that rape is illegal. Many know it's wrong although some are very quick to blame the victim rather than the attacker. Not a lot of people actually stop to think about how we as survivors have to deal with our mental health afterwards. There's a giant stigma around being a rape survivor and there's still a stigma around having mental health issues so we're in a very stigmatised place. I wish to end that stigma in my own way by being honest about my own struggles and to begin a proper dialogue in the hopes that support services for survivors get proper funding and support. I want the stigma to end so that others like me can get proper help and lead lives without fear.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Roosh V Is Not A Man.

In my mission to try and raise awareness of sexual assault & rape and heal from my own experiences, I am overwhelmed by the support I receive from both men and women whether they're survivors or otherwise. It's a great thing for us all to unite against the people who perpetuate rape culture and help people who need our help. I want to highlight the problematic factions that want to oppress women.

One of them is Daryush "Roosh V" Valizadeh. You may have heard of him before - he runs the reprehensible Return Of Kings website and his own personal blog website under his known name Roosh V. I'm not linking either of them because I don't wish to send over more traffic to their sites although feel free to go to their websites if you absolutely want to. He is known as a pick-up artist who actively teaches men to sexually harass women in order to seduce them. He has gone as far as to suggest that the only way to stop rape is to make rape legal. Don't believe me? Go to an article he wrote called How To Stop Rape. He advocates the legalisation of rape on private property. Needless to say he uses a lot of misogynistic rhetoric to promote his ideas and, astonishingly, make money from either desperate or deeply misogynistic men.

As a summary he and his followers believe:

  • Women deserve to be raped
  • Women ask for it due to the way they dress and/or behave
  • Women deserve to go through sexual violence in order for a man to satisfy his desires

Suffice to say, it's absolutely disgusting. A friend of mine compared him to our Stone Age ancestors but another friend pointed out that that's an insult to them. Roosh V and his supports don't see women as property - they see them as prey. I am potential prey. So is any female member of my family. So are all my female friends. So are all your female friends, your female members of your family. If you're a woman, they see you as prey. This man is a predator grooming other predators. Their inadequacies with women and inability to seduce one through the normal, legal means has turned them into dangerous, vile beings. The things Roosh V teaches at his seminars are hate speech and his promotion for sexual violence against women is monstrous. They wish to harm women for the sake of their own self-gratification. It's mentally disturbing.

As a survivor, I've come across my fair share of people who've been nasty to me because of what I've been through. I've seen people try to excuse rapists (including the ones who raped me) and blame the survivor for "provoking" the attacker. A part of me was shocked that someone like Roosh V can exist and gain a following. It's an insult to me not only as a survivor but as a woman. I am a human being. I should be able to live my life without fear of being attacked because a guy thinks he deserves to enact his desires on me whether I consent or not. I deserve safety and protection. Every woman does. We are not objects to be used as mere cum buckets for men who don't care for anything except getting what they want when they want. My boyfriend wouldn't think of treating me or anyone else in that way. My brothers would never treat anyone in their lives that way. They are real men. Roosh V and his supporters are not.

Whilst I debate whether or not I go to any protests of his seminars in the UK, I absolutely recommend if you wish to see him banned from the UK to sign the petitions going around for that purpose. I want everyone to share this post and get the word out about this sort of rhetoric and how just one survivor feels.

My advice for the supporters of Roosh V - you wish to commit a violent crime against someone else for the sake of your own desires. There's something very wrong with that. You are not on a mission to reclaim masculinity and free men. You are on a destructive path that'll only lead to misery and the annihilation of mankind. Please go get psychological help to resolve your problems.