So often I find myself looking for that light switch that will cause everything make sense. If I could just understand the intricacies of how this one thing works it will all make sense. I think that same thought over and over for each aspect of healing. It’s been a long hard road in part because I feel driven to understand all the intricacies of how my mind processes what I’ve been through, and why people do the things they do. Understanding is good and we need to understand how things have affected us, but sometimes we don’t need to understand all the ins-and-outs. Sometimes the answer is “just because” and there is nothing else to it. That’s frustrating, I know.
So often I have wanted to come to you and say “Here’s the switch that will change everything”. Flipping a light switch is so easy. We just flip that switch and the light comes on. Healing, I have found, is not as easy as flipping a light switch. It takes time, patience, giving ourselves grace for not always getting it right, and forgiveness towards ourselves and others. It’s more like watching a bucket fill with water one drip at a time. The changes come; just sometimes slowly. So, give yourself grace, do lots of self-care, and watch your bucket fill up.
I know this blog isn’t glamorous, suspenseful, or even all that interesting at times (or at all for some). However, healing often isn’t any of those things. It can be boring, dreary, painfully slow, and has a real lack of fireworks going off every time we make a new stride in healing. There are times of great excitement though. That new break-through can be exciting and exhilarating to us, but to no one else. Because only we know how hard we have worked for that break-through and how great it feels to have finally reached it. It is my continued hope that even in the mundane of my healing and of what I share, you are able to connect and see you are not alone in your struggles.
This was me. This is what I looked like in high school around the time the abuse by my stepdad was ending. I was on the tennis team. I was in honor classes and made mainly A’s and B’s. I was quiet and kept to myself for the most part. I was a naive and compliant kid. Not one to ask many questions or rock the boat; I did as I was told. I had only a few friends who would have anything to do with me outside of school. I wasn’t the kid who had a ton of sleepovers with friends. Home is where I would be.
Home life was not great. I was the family and marriage counselor. I was the one the whole family looked to to make sure my mom didn’t commit suicide. They made her my responsibility. There were times I used my body as a shield to keep her from driving off while crying hysterically. She would often tell me how she wished she could drive off of a bridge or just run away. So I would stand in front/behind of her car to keep her from driving off while crying hysterically because I didn’t know if I would ever see her again if I let her drive away. I did the majority of the cleaning and I did everyone’s laundry.
This is my Denim Day protest. I didn’t wear skimpy clothes. I wasn’t a flirt. In fact I was shy. I was a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, and I still am. There was nothing about me that would have said I “asked” for it, and that’s because I didn’t. No one ever does.
Let me say that again.
No. One. Ever. Does.
When I was four years old my mother was attacked in front of me by a serial rapist, Robin Scott Dasenbrock, who had broken into our apartment. I woke up to seeing my mother struggling in front of me with a man who had ahold of her from behind. When I screamed he let go of her and ran.
Later, someone made a comment to my mom that if this man wanted to have sex with her then why didn’t he just ask her out on a date. For one thing, a date does not equal a responsibility on the part of the woman to sleep with the man. For another, what would dating have to do with a stranger breaking into your apartment and attempting to rape you? This implies some kind of responsibility on the part of the victim to placate to the deviant urges of a rapist. That if only the victim would have given it up then there would have been no need for the man to rape her. Victim blaming at its finest. My mom did not do anything to invite this man into our lives in such a way. She certainly did nothing to “ask” for it.
So the next time you hear about a victim of sexual assault remember this:
What they wore has nothing to do with it.
The level of alcohol in their system has nothing to do with it.
Their behavior has nothing to do with it.
Their line of work has nothing to do with it.
Their sexual orientation has nothing to do with it.
Their compliance to their attacker has nothing to do with it; they were trying to survive.
Sexual assault can and does happen to boys and men.
They in no way “owe” it to anyone to have sex with them.
There is nothing they could have ever done that would imply they “asked” for it.
They are in no way responsible for the vile actions of another.
It was not their fault.
Remember these things and treat victims accordingly with sensitivity and compassion. Knowing it was not their fault, and they did not ask for it. The only one responsible for a sexual assault is the offender, hold them accountable for the assault, not the victim.
Denim Day is fast approaching. Do you know why Denim Day is important?
Denim Day was started in 1999 after Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, saw on the news a protest over a case in Italy where a rape conviction was overturned by the Italian Supreme Court. Which ruled the sex in this case had to have been consensual because the victim wore tight jeans. The Italian Supreme Court surmised the victim would have had to have helped take her tight jeans off, therefore, the sexual encounter would have had to have been consensual. As a response to the ruling, women in the Italian Parliament staged a protest on the steps of the Supreme Court wearing jeans. This protest was aired in the news internationally where Patti Giggans saw it and was inspired to start the first ever Denim Day protest to bring light to all the myths surrounding why women and girls are raped.
Denim Day is important because there are still many myths that surround victims of sexual assault that need to be addressed and dispelled. The only way to end rape culture is to end these myths which suggest it is somehow the victims fault. This is an important conversation that needs to be had.
No one asks to be raped or sexually assaulted. What the victim wears or how they look has no bearing on why they were victimized. They did not “ask” for it by their behavior or what they were doing.
In Society’s attempt to rationalize why someone would do such horrible things it has wrongly placed that blame on the victim. Society thinks no one would be so evil, therefore, there must be some reason; there must have been something the victim did to elicit such a thing. That “something” has spawned into: it must have been what they were wearing; they were drunk and asking for it; everyone knows they sleep around and are a slut; you should see the way they always flirt with everyone. The list goes on and on. What Society is missing is placing the blame on the one person to whom it belongs to…the offender. The Offender is the sole person responsible for their actions.
Instead of asking if the victim must have “asked” for it, why not ask what is wrong with the offender that they would do such a despicable thing, and how can we further protect society from this predator. Those are the real questions that need to be asked.
This year Denim Day will be held on April 24, 2019.
Denim Day’s website has a good article on some misconceptions about sexual assault. You can read it here.
My last post was about how I was affected by the news of my abuser getting off of probation nearly 15 months early. It has been a long road for answers.
When I was finally able to get answers as to why he was let off of probation this is what I was told, “it was a mistake” and that “no one thought to check for a second set of evidence”. The Dallas County DA took my abuser’s attorney’s word on the matter of whether or not my abuser should be on probation without doing any fact checking. So when the matter went before a judge the judge made a ruling based off of inaccurate information due to the inability of the Dallas County DA Office to do simple fact checking.
I wrote a letter to the Texas Attorney General asking for help. I wanted to see if there was any way to correct the situation by getting my abuser back on probation to finish serving the 15 months of probation that he should be serving. I was told by the Texas Attorney General’s Office that they have no oversight control over District Attorneys. They told me you cannot make a DA do anything. You cannot make them prosecute a case or impose a sentence on anyone. While I can understand why that may be; I simply wished for the DA to reexamine the ruling with all the facts. Something that wasn’t done in the original ruling. I was told that if I wanted to I could file a complaint. Which I’m planing on doing. In addition, I was informed that I could seek out advise from a lawyer to see if there were any additional options available to me. After reaching out to several attorneys, and not really getting anywhere with that, I used the Attorney Referral Program. I paid $20 to be referred to any attorney where I would get to talk to that attorney for 30 minutes for that $20. Again, I was told you cannot make the District Attorney do anything. If they have made a ruling, even if it was by “mistake”, then it is done. So, that’s it. There is nothing that can be done.
This is what I struggle with, where is the accountability for bad rulings? By admission, the ruling was a mistake. To my understanding this ruling does not aline with the rule of law when all the facts are taken into account. In my search for answers I was even told by someone the ruling didn’t seem legal, but yet there it was. All I wanted was a way for this to go back before a judge where this time all the facts would be known, and then let the judge make a decision. I wish the Dallas County DA Office would have held themselves accountable, and taken steps to rectify their mistake.
So, here I am with no avenue of recourse, but to file a complaint. A complaint that I’m sure will do little good. An attorney may be reprimanded for failing to do their job, but I won’t hold my breath on that. At the end of it all my abuser has still gotten away with getting off of probation 15 months early. As a victim I feel I still deserve to see him serve out his full sentence.
I wish I could say that I’m winning at living as though I know what normal is, but last week was a total bust for me. I found out that my abuser is off of probation a lot sooner than what I feel he should be. A judge decided that he had fulfilled his 10 years of probation. My understanding of things would have put him off of probation in 2020. I wish I had clarity. I’ve made phone calls and am still waiting for someone to explain to me, to help me understand this ruling.
When I heard the news, I couldn’t breath as easily, I started feeling shaky and started crying. I felt as though my legs had been knocked out from underneath me. I was not at all mentally prepared to hear my abuser is off of probation. To hear he is no longer being closely monitored, or that the no contact order is no longer in effect. All this scares me. I know a no contact order is just a piece of paper, but that piece of paper brought a lot of comfort to me knowing that he could not legally contact me. There’s the rational part of me that knows his sense of self-preservation is to high for him to contact me or to even come close to me. Then there is the part of me that lived my most impressionable years living with a man who is not just abusive but also vindictive. That part of me will always be scared of him and what he is capable of doing. It’s a real struggle to allow the rational side to win over fear.
IF ONLY we could heal as quickly as it took for the trauma to take place. There would be no lasting PTSD because we would all heal before it could affect us in such a way. We wouldn’t have to worry about anxiety or depression. These would all be fleeting things and over before they could have any real lasting effects. Sometimes it’s nice to think about how easy things would be IF ONLY healing could be done so effortlessly. But reality calls, and we must answer it, and continue the fight to heal.
One day we will do that one thing that will help us feel as though we are functioning just a little bit better. Then at some point we will do it again. Then one day we will notice that one thing is becoming easier to do, and we’ll do it more often than before with the hope that one day it won’t be a struggle at all. Today’s one thing for me was something as “simple” as taking a shower and blow-drying my hair. This “simple” act helped me feel as though I’m functioning just a little bit better since hearing the news about my abuser getting off of probation.
At the moment, healing is a struggle. While I admit healing is a struggle, I must also admit it takes a strong person to fight to heal. I feel we must give ourselves credit for the strength we have to not only survive trauma and abuse but to take up the task to heal from it. We should take pride and comfort in every battle won. For every battle won puts us that much closer to our goal of healing.
Here’s to that one thing, that one win, and fighting for your goal. May today’s battle to heal be filled with those “one things” and those “little” wins; may it take you one step closer to your goal.