Be Your Own Hero.

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It’s been a difficult time for me.  I’ve been waiting 90 days+ for the verdict in my family law trial.  I’m experiencing a lot of triggers and finding it harder to stay positive and optimistic about the future.

Quite frankly, it is terrible for my mental and physical health to have contact with my abuser.  It upsets me, it triggers me, it causes flashbacks and disassociation, it confuses me, gaslights me, makes me doubt myself, my abilities, makes me feel crazy and like nobody believes me.

Unfortunately, he is the father of my children and I can’t just go no contact.

It’s awful.  It’s awful being told I have to “get along” with someone who treated me so badly.  It’s frustrating being told by many institutions such as the kids school, the CAS and some doctors, that I should be more neutral, not let my past impact me, that he’s a loving parent and basically a good person.

Hold on a minute….basically a good person?

That’s what I told myself for years.  It’s just sexual abuse.  It’s just the sexual stuff, he’s otherwise “basically a good person.”  Telling myself that kept me locked into the relationship for years longer than I should have stayed.

Someone who doesn’t believe in consent is not “basically a good person” they are an abusive person.  He is an abusive person.

Privilege in society allows abusers to “pass” as basically good people.  They know how to act, to charm, to make their victims look crazy or unreliable or unbelievable, they know how to discredit others, they know how to tell different lies to different people to suit their needs.  Most abusers can make you think they are basically good people, but in reality, the signs are there that they are not good people.

The saddest part is that because abusers are expert liars and manipulators they can often convince everyone who might be able to help you, that they are good people!   So the abuse they perpetrate goes unnoticed and unacknowledged by anyone who might be able to support or rescue you.

Suddenly, they are “basically good people” and you are perceived as mentally ill and crazy.

Abusers gaslight the system.  That, combined with the societal privilege, rape culture, and patriarchy, allow them to pass unseen, and unnoticed through our world, abusing people as they please and not being stopped.  In a parallel experience, the survivors are believed less and less, as a web of lies is spun about them by the abuser to those around her who might assist her in escaping.

This is what I’m experiencing in my life.  It’s been 3.5 years since I left my abuser but I’m still locked in a web of abuse.  Very few people within the “system” believe me, and those who DO believe me and my kids, are seen as biased!  It’s an unbelievable, frustrating and maddening situation.

The more I protest, advocate and fight for myself and my kids, the more I am labelled radical, crazy, not neutral, too angry etc.

So what are my options?

I feel like the only option is to be my own hero.

At the end of the day, my ex-partner would like nothing more than for me to fall into a crisis and commit suicide.  He wants me to kill myself so that he can be right.  So he can prove that I’m crazy and that I don’t care about, and have never cared about, my kids.  He won’t stop punishing us until he reaches this goal.

But it’s been 3.5 years, and generally I’m more mentally healthy than I was before.  Generally, I take care of myself.  I’m working full time.  I’m becoming more confident in myself and my career.  I have some supportive friends and a supportive family.  I’m not falling into a crisis.

I won’t let him destroy me.  I’ll stay alive as long as I can just to spite him.

I’ll be my own hero, if nobody else will step up to protect my kids.  I’ll protect them and myself and do everything in my power to survive.

Survival is the best revenge.

If you are experiencing abuse, be your own hero.  Believe yourself.  Support yourself.  The rest will slowly follow.

Mansplaining.

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I’m single right now.  Single enough that I sometimes frequent online dating apps, despite the peril and the ridiculousness involved.

I’m also queer.

This is the term I use to self identify my sexual orientation.  Key word being “self” identify.

Recently, I’ve been hoping to meet another woman or anyone who doesn’t identify as a cisgender man.  I haven’t met anyone.  There are fewer people online who are also not straight, and so today I switched my profile to show me everyone (men and women).

I messaged briefly with this guy, he seemed interesting and apparently we were a 92% match.  That was BEFORE the train wreck of mansplaining that derailed the conversation.

Dude: What’s the difference between bisexual and queer?

Me: It’s just another word for not straight. I’d be open to dating any gender, including trans folks, so bisexual doesn’t seem to quite fit and I just like that way of self identifying.  It seems to fit.

Dude: Isn’t that pansexual?

Me: (silently thinking is this actually happening?)  Yes, that’s true. pansexual, but I identify more with queer. I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it gives a decent explanation of it:

Because of the context in which it was reclaimed, queer has sociopolitical connotations and is often preferred by those who are activists—namely, by those who strongly reject traditional gender identities; reject distinct sexual identities such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight; or see themselves as oppressed by the homonormativity of the politics of the broader “gay” or “LGBT” community. In this usage, queer retains its historical connotation of “outside the bounds of normal society” and can be construed as “breaking the rules for sex and gender”. It can be preferred because of its ambiguity, which allows queer-identifying people to avoid the sometimes rigid boundaries that are associated with labels such as “gay”, “lesbian”, or even “transgender

….so… I like it for those reasons.

Dude:  I get that but, assuming the purpose is to indicate who you’re (sexually) attracted to, selecting “queer” seems unnecessarily vague. Especially given that queer could meant that you’re gay, bisexual, pansexual or everything in between.

Me:  That’s what it means..and that’s okay.

Dude: silence

What the actual f#@k just happened?  This complete stranger,who I’d known for about 5 minutes online, decided that my sexual orientation was “unnecessarily vague” and that he knew a better word (pansexual) for me to use to define myself more clearly.

This is a terrible example of mansplaining and oppression rolled into one.

In my experience, folks choose words to define themselves based on how they feel and how they want to express themselves.  The words marginalized groups use to define themselves are important, and often have historical or political significance.  Nobody has the right to tell someone else that their identity is incorrect or inconvenient.

This is the type of binary thinking which problematically excludes so many people.  People don’t just exist in boxes: gay or straight, man or woman, black or white, disabled or able bodied and so on.  There are beautiful spectrums of folks in this world, people who identify all along those spectrums and don’t identify with binary concepts.  Self identification doesn’t exist for the convenience of others.

When it comes from outside it’s a label and labels are for jars, not people.  When it comes from inside, self identification can be liberating and empowering.

Please, ask questions from a place of curiosity if you do not understand a word or concept.  Better yet, educate yourself first.  That’s what google is there for!  But don’t assume that you know a better, more accurate or clearer word for someone to use to define their own lived experience.  It’s not cool, it’s oppressive and it is certainly not attractive.

Smash the patriarchy!

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Sometimes the systems that exist in society just seem nonsensical to me.  I am bewildered on a regular basis at how poorly systems work to protect the rights of marginalized folks, children, women, trans folks,  People of Colour, Indigenous folks…I start to wonder who or what the systems do support and uphold.

I believe the answer is that they support privilege and privileged people.

When a man accused of sexual assault has his views and ideas on the situation treated as equally, if not MORE valid than those of the survivors, the system is broken.

I’m feeling angry right now and this post may be somewhat cryptic because I can’t write about everything I’m coping with until a later date.

I just wanted to say that not all opinions are equally valid.

Some opinions are based on facts, lived experience, research, expertise or some combination of these things.

Other opinions are just plain lies, untrue and not supported by anything.

Yes, you have the right to think anything you want, but you don’t necessarily have the right to state all those thoughts out loud in every circumstance.

Some opinions are actually oppression and bigotry, cleverly DISGUISED as valid opinions.

In some cases there is an absolute truth, something that exists outside of opinions and is just real.  In some cases, people only have their lived experience and they must be believed that their lived experience is valid.

But what happens when an abuser states that his lived experience, opinion and view is that he didn’t abuse anyone!?  That the survivor is seriously mentally ill and making up accusations to damage his credibility?

Who do we believe?  Where does the absolute truth lie?

I’m willing to concede that for outsiders it can be difficult to tell what is truth and what is fiction.  But when an abuser says that he didn’t abuse anyone, shouldn’t we take this with a grain of salt?

That’s not what I have observed.  In my lived experience, abusers are believed outright.  They are rarely challenged.  Their views on the situation during the time of the abuse are considered true and valid.

Survivors are doubted, questioned, berated, accused and treated like they have every motivation to lie about the abuse.  The system gaslights them and confused them, mirroring the way they have been treated by the abuser they are escaping from.

I don’t even see equity or equal treatment.   It would be easier for me to accept if the systems (police, hospital, court, child protection) viewed both the abuser and the survivor as potentially biased.    Trust no one.  Believe nothing.

But that isn’t what I see.  I see the systems used against the survivor to benefit the opinions, rights and preferences of the abuser.  I see the system used to dismantle the credibility of the survivors who are brave enough to come forward.

Why do we accept to live in a world where abusers are innocent until proven guilty, but survivors are treated as guilty of lying from the start?

I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I want to change the system.  I want to smash all the institutions I see around me and rebuild them from the ground up, grassroots style, with the input of marginalized communities highlighted and validated.

Smash  the white supremacist,  capitalist, cis-heteropatriarchy!

I’d like to see a revolution. I’d like to wake up tomorrow and build a whole new world.

The worst part of it is, that the only thing worse than a woman coming forward to speak out about sexual violence, seems to be a woman survivor advocating and agitating for changes to the systems that have continually failed her.

Silence is the enemy of change.   I’m willing to bet that the majority of “average people” out there still believe we have a justice system, police and child protection systems that are impartial and unbiased.  People speaking out and telling their stories is the only way to shatter this misconception.

I refuse to stay silent.  The systems have failed me and my family, over and over again.