Advice for the New Year


Advice From 10 Iconic Feminists To Get You Through 2017

Jenavieve Hatch Associate Women’s Editor, The Huffington Post

GETTY IMAGES

”Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless.”

Activist and writer Rebecca Solnit said this in the foreword to her book, “Hope in the Dark” ― a book originally written during the Bush Administration about avoiding the pitfalls of cynicism in the face of injustice and fear. This year, shortly after Donald Trump won the presidential election, “Hope in the Dark” sold out.

For many women, 2016 was a wildly difficult year, and “hope” often felt like a difficult thing to come by.

After all, we didn’t just watch a man accused of sexual assault win the 2016 presidential election ― we watched him win against a significantly more qualified candidate, who happened to be a woman. We watched him win with a running mate who has spent his career trying to diminish the rights of women. We’ve watched him fill his cabinet with men who have been accused of domestic violence.

But in moments of despair and uncertainty, we can, and should, look to the women who have spent much of their lives fighting the relentless fight against injustice of all kinds.

In the words of 10 trailblazing women, from Angela Davis to Cecile Richards, we can find the comfort, shared rage, and motivation necessary to move forward.

bell hooks

GETTY

”Cultivating the mind of love is so crucial. When love is the ground of our being, a love ethic shapes our participation in politics. To work for peace and justice we begin with the individual practice of love, because it is there that we can experience firsthand love’s transformative power.” ― bell hooks, Lion’s Roar, November 2016 

Gloria Steinem

GETTY

”We have to stop looking up, especially with Trump now, and start instead looking at each other.” ― Gloria Steinem, in a speech at the Make Equality Reality Gala, December 2016

Angela Davis

GETTY

”How do we begin to recover from this shock? By experiencing and building and rebuilding and consolidating community. Community is the answer…Whatever we are already doing, we need to do more. We need to accelerate our activism.” ― Angela Davis, in a speech at the University of Chicago, November 2016 

Cecile Richards

GETTY

 “We’ve got work to do, and not a minute to waste. Those of us with privilege have a responsibility to use it as allies in the fight for justice and opportunity for all. And every one of us has a responsibility to stand up for what we believe. Don’t wait for permission or an invitation to get involved ― reach out, start organizing, send a message to anyone who will listen. The election doesn’t define our country ― what we do next does.” ― Cecile Richards, to The Huffington Post, December 2016 

Diane Von Furstenberg

GETTY

”We must believe in the values of tolerance and inclusiveness that are the fabric of our country. We must believe we can make a difference and use our influence by creating beauty, optimism and happiness. More than ever, we must embrace diversity, be open minded, be generous and have compassion.” ― Diane Von Furstenberg, post-election email to Council of Fashion Designers of America, November 2016  

Lea DeLaria

THE HUFFINGTON POST

”In this heterosexist society every male is preferable for any position of power than the most qualified female in the world. Maybe I had forgotten this simple fact. Maybe I believed we as humans had moved forward. Maybe I was lying to myself. This concept has once again been made painfully clear to me. I am a radical butch dyke queer activist. I intend to keep my rage.” ― Lea DeLaria, to The Huffington Post, December 2016

Alice Walker

GETTY

”Real change is personal. The change within ourselves expressed in our willingness to hear, and have patience with, the “other.” Together we move forward.  Anger, the pointing of fingers, the wishing that everyone had done exactly as you did, none of that will help relieve our pain.” ― Alice Walker, in a post on her personal website, November 2016

Dolores Huerta

GETTY

”It always gets better before it can get worse. But it will get better. Like everything else, and like our past struggles, at some point we win, but before that win, there’s always that loss that spurs us on.” ― Dolores Huerta, Santa Fe Reporter, August 2015 

Rebecca Solnit

GETTY

”Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.” ― Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark, March 2016 (third edition)

Hillary Clinton

GETTY

”Believe in our country, fight for our values, and never give up.” ― Hillary Clinton, in a speech at the Children’s Defense Fund gala, November 2016

 

bjwordpressdivider-1

 

Things have been tough since election day. Now we look at a New Year and the the inauguration of a president most of us didn’t want. The “You are not my president” marches continue around the country. Boston is planning a large march. On the 21st there will be a million person march in Washington D.C.

 

It appears that Trump will keep some campaign promises and others he is no longer interested in. We have talked and discussed and worried about the people around us. 2017 will bring us the answers to all that is unknown presently. Women are facing a renewal of sexism and inequality as many other groups will also experience.

 

These women each hold up some hope and suggestions for the future. I encourage all of my readers to read and use anything that speaks to you.  I think that as we learn how to respond to next year’s challenges and protect the marginalized around us, we will grow in kindness, compassion, and understanding. Will our words and actions be challenged by some other citizens? It is possible. But as we stand up and speak out, we will be showing our children and our children’s children that we lived our convictions and we cared about injustices that happened to the unfortunate. We care about racism, misogyny, deported immigrants, disabled people, anti-semitism, and Neo-Nazis. We will work to eliminate these hate groups and will protect their victims.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

 

This Will Help to Heal Hearts


Humans around the world have been shocked, saddened and feeling grief. We are all brothers and sisters and we share this one beautiful planet. We all feel pain and grief in the same way and we are grieving in our individual ways.

 

These barbaric attacks bring negative energy to this world we all share.  I heard this and it is one of my favorite songs and one Whitney Houston sang in the movie, the Bodyguard.  This young child has the ability to touch our hearts and lift them up some from pain and death. May God bless him during his life and may all feel the power of love as you listen to him.

 

Please take the love you feel and pass it on to someone else and may the Jihadists know we will rise up. We are the human race and we will oppose every negative thing they do. Also, as we love each other, we love them too. They are also God’s children and we are expected to love all of God’s children. Make no mistake, we will work to stop them in every move they make.  But love is still our best weapon, and we will use it against them, by loving them anyway.

 

Namaste, Barbara, the Idealistic Rebel

 

 

 

 

bjwordpressdivider

ParisPeaceSign

Notes towards a poem that can never be written


I have long been a fan of Margaret Atwood.  Her stories and poems always touch me and, more importantly, they make me think.

This poem is from a collection of poems from 1976-1986, and it is no less relevant today than when it was written over 30 years ago.  The sadness in the world has not lessened, the losses are as great, and still we want to look away.

If the world is to be a better place, we must see it for what it is — even, as Ms. Atwood says, through tears.

 

Namaste,

Barbara

bjwordpressdivider

 

 

Because we have had enough!

Because we have had enough!

 

 

Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written

 

i

This is the place

you would rather not know about

this is the place that will inhabit you,

this is the place you cannot imagine,

this is the place that will finally defeat you.

 

where the word why shrivels and empties

itself.  This is famine.

 

ii

There is no poem you can write

about it, the sandpits

where so many were buried

& unearthed, the unendurable

pain still traced on their skins.

 

This did not happen last year

or forty years ago but last week.

This has been happening,

this happens.

 

We make wreaths of adjective for them,

we count them like beads,

we turn them into statistics & litanies

and into poems like this one

 

Nothing works.

They remain what they are.

 

iii

The woman lies on the wet cement floor

under the unending light,

needle marks on her arms put there

to kill the brain

and wonders why she is dying.

 

She is dying because she said,

She is dying for the sake of the word,

It is her body, silent

and fingerless, writing this poem

 

iv

It resembles an operation

but it is not one.

 

nor despite the spread legs, grunts

& blood, is it a birth.

 

Partly it’s a job,

partly it’s a display of skill

like a concerto.

 

It can be done badly

or well, they tell themselves
Partly it’s an art.

 

v

The facts of the world seen clearly

are seen through tears;

why tell me then

there is something wrong with my eyes?

 

To see clearly and without flinching,

without turning away,

this is agony, the eyes taped open

two inches from the sun.

 

What is it you see then?

Is it a bad dream, a hallucination?

Is it a vision?

What is it you hear?

 

The razor across the eyeball

is a detail form an old film.

It is also a truth.

Witness what you must bear.

 

–Margaret Atwood

Human Rights Violations in Our World


 

Some days, we all need some humor. I have over a foot of snow here. So you get humor!!!

 

The world calls it FGM or Female Genital Mutilation. I prefer to call it exactly what it is: a violation of a woman’s human rights. Alice Walker has written a book about it and I read it about twenty years ago while I was doing some work for the UN. I was so horrified, I threw up. But I read every word of the truth and went on to do some research.

 

It is Black History month and I decided that I wanted to write about this because it is happening around the world to women of color. It is an old tribal custom that is supposed to make the little girls marriageable. It has been handed down from generation to generation for centuries.

 

I am going to describe this procedure because we have to know what women around the world are suffering. And as people are immigrating here, they are bringing this barbaric ritual with them and so it is happening here and in European countries.

 

When girls begin to get their menses, their mothers take them to the tribal woman who performs this cruel procedure on little girls so a man will want to marry them. Their mothers hold them down as there is no anesthesia used. The cutting and sewing are done while the girl screams and cries. It is terribly painful.

 

Now, the reason for this barbaric act is that they cut the labia or sew it up so there is only a small spot for urination. If she has sex, it would tear her apart. Sometimes, the clitorus is removed so that she will never feel any sexual pleasure. If there is no pleasure, then the girl/woman will not stray because sex is painful and causes bleeding as well as pain.

 

At first I was very upset with the mothers, then I realized it was the way they all grew up and they didn’t know any better. They didn’t know that the majority of women do not have this experience.My horror was so deep it was a physical reaction to the words.

 

Whether you are male or female I realize that most of you would react in horror. But the men brought up with this ritual feel that they own the woman and since women are inferior to men, it is a way to keep her from wandering into another man’s bed. We all know how women seduce men and that the men are innocent.

 

Men are so solidly behind this ritual that some of them have their wives sewn shut before going away on business to ensure her fidelity. Some check their wives’ genitals everyday to make sure she is intact.  Childbirth is even more painful than usual because of the mutilation these girls/women go through. Some die from infection, some try to run away. It is nothing but pure torture and misogyny.

 

It is a serious problem and it isn’t disappearing. Some girls/women just don’t get married so they won’t have to have it done. Others are tortured and killed. Humankind is a dysfunctional species living in a dysfunctional world. Men and women need to know what is happening so we can get the practice stopped.

 

Since the governments are trying to curb this atrocity, families are now taking girls farther away from home.

Since the governments are trying to curb this atrocity, families are now taking girls farther away from home.

fgm11

                                         This little girl has survived the procedure.

 

fgm7

             Tears are still streaming down her face.

 

This is the procedure being performed.

This is the procedure being performed.

fgm1

Darren Wilson resigns


Copyright NPR 2014

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns

November 29, 2014 6:46 PM ET

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, shown during his medical examination after he fatally shot Michael Brown, has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, the AP reports. Wilson has been on administrative leave since the Aug. 9 shooting.

AP

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown nearly four months ago, is resigning, according to his attorney.

Wilson’s resignation was announced Saturday by Neil Bruntrager, who says his client’s resignation is effective immediately. Wilson had been on administrative leave since Aug. 9.

In his resignation letter, Wilson writes that he hopes his resignation “will allow the community to heal.” The Ferguson Police Department has not confirmed that it has received this letter.

A grand jury spent more than three months reviewing evidence in the shooting incident before deciding that the 28-year-old police officer would not be charged in the case. The confrontation and grand jury decision sparked continuing protests in the St. Louis suburb and across the country.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted the full text of Wilson’s resignation letter:

“I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process.”

 

bjwordpressdivider

 

I am sharing this article with you because not only am I a feminist, but I am a humanist. I believe in certain actions that make up civilizations. I am not writing about the grand jury decision. I am writing about a man, it could be any man, who is capable of killing someone and going on with their life as they always did.

 

Darren Wilson spent his time between the murder of Michael Brown and the verdict moving from house to house. He feared for his life. He feared for his life…as Michael Brown must have at those last few moments of his life. Hands up. No longer running. He turned to face the officer who was chasing him. He was doing the right thing and he was shot in the head and killed for his effort.

 

Darren Wilson said he feared for his life. That seems very cowardly to me. Police officers are supposed to be men of rational thinking and bravery. This officer running after a kid who may have stolen some Cigarillos and walked in the street. Was Michael’s behavior without fault? No it wasn’t. He exhibited the behavior of a teenager with raging hormones. Mouthy, not listening to adults and breaking rules. I have four teenage grandchildren and I have stood toe to toe when they got angry.

 

But angry they were, for about 20 minutes then the kid I knew returned. Should they have been murdered for their actions? No. They get grounded and there is a talk about anger management.

 

Now, there is Officer Darren Wilson who got paid administrative leave for being a coward and shooting at Michael’s head knowing he was going to kill him. They say he got death threats and he had to move around for safety. He also got married. In a very quiet, under the radar ceremony, he married a fellow officer.

 

People protesting and grieving around the country and then even in the world. I have tried to imagine what Michael Brown’s parents must feel like but I can’t. Not really. I have lost a husband and it was the most horrible experience. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing a child. Both of his parents have done their best to mourn in public, to try to receive justice from our country and from the world.

 

They are so very courageous in my mind. They are not the only parents in America that are dealing with grief, sorrow, injustice and pain because their child has been shot in the bloom of his life.

 

Thousands if not millions of people are grieving in the world for their children who do not have justice. Officer Darren Wilson is celebrating his nuptials and starting a new life. He is not grieving and he has denied being remorseful. A civilized man would not be living in joy after taking a life, even in the call of duty. Shame on you Darren Wilson and shame on your bride for celebrating your joy when you are responsible for the pain of Michael’s family and friends.

Is Gratitude Trivial?


I saw the Neurologist this morning. We had an unusual conversation. We talked about gratitude. I learned some interesting facts. Most of our conversation was taking place around the concepts of past, present and future. They are doing more and more research on the way the mind works.

 

I think this is a very important direction for neurology  to go into. So little is really known about how our minds work. How do each of us learn best?  How do we survive trauma and violence? What can we learn about how to deal with mental illness and the part it plays in violence in our world? Why are some people drawn to violence and some completely repulsed.

 

They know some victims of violence, have a brain that rewrites itself. It goes around the areas damaged by the pain, trauma and fear in the past. But do they all rewrite the same? Probably not, because some abused children become serial killers and some are good citizens who care about others.

 

Writing is one thing that scientists suggest as a way to deal with the traumas in our lives. When you sit down to write and put pen to paper, what comes out is the real truth and sometimes what we aren’t aware of on a conscious level. Free writing is putting pen to paper and just write without stopping. Write for thirty minutes. If you hit a block, write stuck, stuck, stuck until the words begin to flow again.

 

Scientists are doing case studies about going back to basics. To start at the very beginning. To go into a meditative state. Breathe in and out slowly and put your awareness on how the breath flows, how your heart is beating and how your lungs are taking in air and pushing used air out. As you finish the outbreath and are beginning to take your next in breath say thank you with an open heart. The thank you is for the fact that your body works. There may be parts that are not working right, but the basics work. Your body will take you where you need to go. Even if it constantly hurts, it is still working and you are here. So thank you is all that is required from you. It is pretty easy, yet it effects your mind and how your subconscious works.

 

The subconscious mind lets go of pain, trauma and fear. The future becomes brighter and manageable. The scientists have determined that chromosomes elongate and we begin to feel younger. I don’t think any of us would mind feeling younger.

Namaste to everyone.

 

bjwordpressdivider

 

 

Feeling a little bit younger is good.

Feeling a little bit younger is good.

 

 

Don’t live with Violence


If you are living with violence, you must protect yourself and your children and get out. We all go into a relationship feeling love and having dreams. Your wedding day was just what you had wanted it to be. You had a beautiful honeymoon and you were so happy and so in love. It was a perfect wedding night.

 

Now, you are dressing for dinner. The two of you had had such a lovely afternoon and a delicious dinner. People toasted you in the dining room and when the band began to place you danced in your husband’s arms. A nice man asked to dance with you, but your husband said no. He was pretty quiet for the rest of the evening.

 

He decided you were going to go up to your room. You didn’t really want to leave but tomorrow was sightseeing. He says nothing on the way to your room. You are thinking about the nightgown you are going to wear to bed. He walks into the room behind you; then shuts and locks the door. You turn around with a smile on your face and he opens up his hand and hits you so hard that when you look in the mirror, you see the red hand print.

 

You are stunned. What happened? He is yelling and calling you names and telling you are a slut because that man asked to dance with you. You face aches. He grabs your arm and twists it while telling you that you will never dance with anyone else. He is shaking you so hard that your teeth chatter. You are trying to get away and are terribly afraid. What is going on?

He walks out, slamming the hotel door. You stand there with tears running down your face. Why did he get so upset? What should I do? You clean up and carefully get ready for bed. Carefully, because your face is very sore and your arm hurts. You cry yourself to sleep.

 

In the morning, you wake and his side of the bed is empty. You are shocked and very confused. Then the door to the hotel room opens and he walks in. He looks awful. You can tell he has been crying. He has brought you a huge bouquet of red roses. He is sorry. He never meant to handle you in a violent way. He loves you and it will never happen again, he swears. He kisses you and cuddles you and you make up. Your world becomes whole again. He is so wonderful to you, considerant and thoughtful.

 

Life goes on. Everything is fine. And one day, a girlfriend calls and asks you if you want to go shopping. You said, “Sure.”

You quickly get ready to meet her at the Mall. You leave a note on the kitchen table in case you will be late coming home.

You and your friend shop, have lunch and a couple of glasses of wine. It had been such a fun day. You are now a little bit later than you expected, but you left a note. No problem. You walk into the house and call out, “I’m home.” Your husband walks into the living room where you are hanging up your coat and  begin to show him your purchases. His voice drips with sarcasm. “Where have you been?” You mentioned the note you had left. He says you hadn’t had his permission to go shopping. What? What is he talking about?”

 

He grabs you and punches you in the face. You hear a crack and then another punch. You go down to the floor and he begins to kick you. He kicks you where bruises will be covered with clothing. You are screaming at him to stop and he is screaming at you. He accuses you of meeting a man and cheating on him. He picks up your purchases and throws them everywhere. You can’t stop crying. He holds up the nightgown you bought to wear for him and he rips it apart. He screams you had worn it for your lover.

 

He took you to the hospital and refused to leave you side. You had taken such an awful tumble down the stairs. The staff allows him to stay. There isn’t much they can do for you. They bind your torso, give you pain meds, suggest you carpet the staircase which your husband agrees is very important. You go home with your discharge papers and he gently helps you out of the car when you reach home.

 

He is again sorry. Terribly sorry. It will not happen again. Please don’t leave him. He can’t live life without you. He will kill himself if you leave. You are in agony, the pain pills are making you fuzzy and soon you just fall asleep.

 

You used to discuss this type of incident with your Mom and your sister. You met a woman who is being battered but what she suffers is so different from what happens to you. As the months and years go by, your lady friend went to a Domestic Violence shelter. You never see her anymore. The shelter moved her to a new state so she could start again with a new identity. Your mom develops Cancer and he gets edgy when you go to see her. The day your Mom dies, you feel totally lost and there really isn’t anyone to talk to. You don’t realize that he has gradually isolated you from all of your friends and your sister. He calls them trouble makers. He is the one who really loves you. The only one who loves you.

 

Now, you just do what he says. Nothing matters anymore. Then one day you think about the battered woman you had been friends with. You wonder if the Domestic Violence Shelter is still in town somewhere. You get ready and call a taxi. You tell the driver what you need and he delivers you at the Shelter.

 

You talk with a counselor, have a bite of lunch. They explain what they can do for you, including legal representation. You decide to go home and pack a suitcase. You have to get away from him. So you go home. The shelter gave you a list of things to bring. You are moving as quickly as possible and try not to forget anything like your medicine. You hear a small noise behind you and you turn. Your husband is standing there screaming that you cannot and will not leave him. He pulls a revolver out of his jacket and shoots you dead. The neighbors hear the screaming and the gun shot and call 911. You are dead on arrival at the ER.

 

More women are killed trying to get out of a battering relationship than at any other time. Abusers have a motto. I call it a motto because it every one that I ever worked with would tell the woman, ” If I can’t have you, no one will.” I can tell you from my experience that they mean it.

 

Does this mean you should stay? No. Never. But the leaving must be planned in advance and in secret. No one can know where you are going. There is an underground railway to move women who are in the greatest danger. Some abusers are just much worse than others. Though none of them are good. Usually a well executed plan can take a month or more to put into place. Don’t go back. He will kill you in time or you will kill him trying to protect yourself. There are so many women and men working to help abused women. You are never alone. Domestic Violence is a crime. The court system will punish him for what he did to you.

 

If you are a man being abused I must give you the same advice. Abusers don’t stop abusing. Male or female. They will simply move on to another partner and begin the battering again. People care about you. So try to get out. Try to get to a safe place, a shelter or even a hotel. Talk to counselors and the police. No matter what, it is never all right to hit another person. You deserve better. You deserve to not live in fear and violence.

 

 

Zentangle by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2014

Zentangle by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2014

                                                                                       for Artists4peace

Freedom Writers


Freedom writers teacher, Ms. G.  Freedom Writers Teacher and role model (still from the Movie)

A little while ago, I wrote about a teacher in Long Beach, California who was teaching English to kids who had problems of some sort. I had watched the movie and discovered the book. It is available in bookstores and on Kindle and Nook. Ms. G. taught freshman and sophomore English. Well I am now reading the book which is an anthology of the student’s work.  The students were told to write in their journals, and the anthology includes various entries from each of their journals.

To encourage participation without the possibility of humiliation, the journals were all anonymous, but the entries were numbered.

The students wrote about what was happening with their families and their lives, and why their English class in Room 203 with Ms. G became Home; for some of them a second Home, but for many, it was the only Home they had.

Some of them wrote about going home from school and opening the mail and finding an eviction notice.  Others wrote about the fact that there was no food in their house, and no money to buy food.  They wrote about being molested or physical beaten by their mother’s significant other.  They wrote about watching their mothers being beaten, and trying to pull the abuser off their mothers while blood is running off their mother’s head.

Some of them wrote that they lived in very bad sections in Long Beach.  , some children would stay late at school to finish their work, but because they lived in such dangerous areas it wasn’t safe to be out after dark, particularly for the girls.  Ms. G would wait until the children left and even though she did not herself live in Long Beach, she would personally drive each child home to keep them safe.

More than one student wrote about how hard it was to keep their minds positive, to keep hope in their hearts, that they would get good grades, and be able to do everything that they wanted to.  They were surrounded by negativity, and that was what made it so hard.  Everywhere they looked, there was negativity.  This negativity was where the violence and the gang life style, and the intolerance and bigotry that surrounded them came from.

The students learned through Ms. G’s class to respect themselves and to believe in themselves.  They wrote of seeing the whole world differently after reading books, biographies like Zlata’s Diary, that showed them that other people have gone through really difficult times and survived, and got stronger, and turned themselves into better people.

The students wrote about how reading opened up the world to them, and they learned about what was possible, not matter where you lived or what kind of background you had, you could be a person who gave backed to the world.  You could make your life be how you wanted to be, instead of what the world said it had to be.

One student even wrote how her mother ever gave her curfews or rules to follows, so she got the idea that she should give herself curfews, because she didn’t want people to know that her mother was neglecting her.  She felt like she had raised herself, and that it wasn’t easy.

After they had compiled their journals, choosing the pages to submit, Ms. G had the compilation turned into a book.  Ms. G then contacted the Secretary of Education, and told him about her students and their projects, past and present, and about the book created from their project.  He invited them to come in person to bring him the book.  Ms. G and the students earned the money for the trip to Washington, DC, and got to meet the Secretary, who was very impressed with their book.  SOme of the students were blown away just walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  When they reached the Washington Memorial, they encircled the monument, held hands, sang and said prayers.

Some of the students wrote about that trip, and how they felt so light and full of hope joined together around the Washington Monument.

When they returned to Long Beach, they found out that another student in their school, not a Freedom Writer, had taken a trip to Vegas with friends, and while their brutally raped and murdered a 7 year old girl, while another student watched and did nothing to stop it.  The students wrote about the difficulty of balancing the positive energy from the trip with the horrific news that someone they knew had raped and murdered a little girl.  It was a difficult time but they made it through together, and when the media came to the school looking for headlines about the murder, they went out against school regulations, and sang and talked to the media not about the horror perpetrated by one student, but about what the 150 or so of them had accomplished instead.

The negativity that surrounded these students is what is causing the distrust, distress and violence in the world today, but this wonderful teacher and her courageous students stand as a shining example of what positive energy, hope and understanding can do to make the world a better place.

 

 

BJWordPressDivider

 

 

Who

 

 

BJWordPressDivider

 

 

Freedomwriters

 

guarda5

What a Wonderful World


 

Life is a glorious adventure. We are given opportunities to learn lessons and to face challenges. We are given happy times to make joyful memories and we are given times of such amazing joy, we need to pinch ourselves to see if it is real.  Life is golden and bright white light and it is such a good thing to be alive.

 

Life is also like that coin in your pocket. The one you flip and choose heads or tails with. Life can be painful and terrifying, it can be a waking nightmare. Ask a veteran what they think. Life can break your heart into small pieces. You can hear it crack open in the silence of your life. Life can produce as much darkness as it can light. It can take away your ability to trust and it can give you the friend who will be by your side for a score of years or more. Life can bring you shock or happy reverie and smooth sailing or rough seas.

 

So, in reality, life is a combination of events which can enrich and strengthen us or break us and leave us like a wounded bird at the bottom of a tree. What makes the difference?  We do. We are responsible for the outcome. We are not responsible for what life drops in our laps, but we are responsible for what we choose to do with it

 

Some people have rough lives and have a struggle year after year. Some of these people will rise up out of the mire and pull themselves up. Some will reach up to pull another person down with them. Some face terrifying heartache and loneliness and will do all that is humanly possible to make everyone around them as miserable as they are. Some choose to fill their hearts with an acid that damages their broken hearts even more than they were and are guaranteed to make someone else’s heart hurt as much as their own heart does.

 

Some people allow themselves to be so damaged, and seek no treatment for their damaged bodies, hearts and souls. Others will choose to seek help. To seek medication if necessary. Some will turn from the light that is in their lives and will seek to blot out that light wherever it can be found. Science hasn’t figured out yet why two people can go through the same horrible experiences and yet one will become a serial killer and one will spend their life trying to make the world better. Doctors and scientists are trying alternative measures to help people completely heal so that the remainder of their years on this plane can be filled with more light and love than they would otherwise have. Some choose to sneak around in the dark and making others suffer for what has happened to them. It is the innocent that they hurt. Perpetuating the problem and the pain.

 

It doesn’t matter if you believe in God, or which God you believe in. It doesn’t matter if life bent you or broke you. Each day is your choice. What are you going to do to make this world a wonderful place for yourself and for others? Tomorrow morning is a chance for you to make a new choice or to reinforce the ones you have all ready made.

 

No one can make this choice for anyone else. Never allow anyone to make it for you, even if your life is on the line. Each day wake up knowing you are what you are and you will make life easier, smoother and more loving for someone else. Or you will wake up, angry, resentful, bitter and try to make someone else feel the same way you do. I choose the love, joy, compassion, kindness and peace. That is my decision every day no matter what happens.

 

 

BJWordPressDivider

 

 

 

 

 

 

guarda5

Just What is Marital Rape


What is Intimate Partner Rape?

In the past, sexual assault was thought to be assault by a stranger upon an unsuspecting victim. As we’ve learned more about sexual assault and rape, it’s become clear that much sexual assault occurs between two people who do, in fact, know one another.

Intimate Partner Rape (also called Intimate Partner Sexual Violence (IPSV) or Marital Rape) is a rape or sexual assault that occurs between two people who currently have – or have had – a consensual sexual relationship. Intimate Partner Rape may occur in relationships that have an existing pattern of domestic violence.

Intimate Partner Rape can occur in ANY type of partnership – dating relationships, marriages, and gay or lesbian relationships.

Most states now recognize that rape within a marriage or long-term intimate relationship is illegal and can be prosecuted.

Rape Versus Sexual Assault:

While state laws may vary, the generally accepted definitions of rape and sexual assault are as follows:

Rape – Forcible penetration of the vagina or anus with finger, penis, or object. Rape is also forced oral contact upon genitals.

Sexual Assault – Any unwanted sexual touching, such as forced kissing, handling of breasts or vagina, forcing one partner to fondle the other’s genitals, or forcing one to watch pornography.

Rape and sexual assault may be used interchangeably.

Forms of Intimate Partner Rape and Sexual Assault:

It is important to realize that one does not have to have physically fought off or said “no” for an act to be regarded as sexual assault. Tears or other expressions of discomfort are reasonable indicators that sexual activity is not desired.

Sexually violent partners often do not seek consent, or if one does say no, it does not stop the sexual activity. Emotional abuse and manipulation are often used in conjunction with sexual assault and rape.

Submission is never the same as consent. The following methods may be used to manipulate or abuse a partner:

Threats toward the partner, their property, or someone else

Using guilt to engage in sexual relations

Sexual activity after continuous pressure to engage in sex before you’re ready

Pressure to perform acts which make a person uncomfortable

Physical violence

Continued sexual activity after it’s indicated that sexual activity is no longer welcome (even if consent was given initially)

Overpowering with physical force

Deprivation of liberty until demands of a sexual activity are met

Sexual intercourse while asleep or incapacitated

Denying reproductive choice to partner

Filming or photographing sexual acts without consent

Using sexually degrading names

Making degrading comments about sexual performance (“you’re shitty in bed”) or body (“you’re a fatass“) alone or in front of others

Controlling choice of clothes

Implying that a past rape was not rape or that “you liked it”
What are Some Common Reactions to Intimate Partner Rape?

Any rape or sexual assault may lead to a variety of reactions – some immediate, others longer-term. These reactions depend upon many things, including past experiences, type of force used, relationship of offender to the victim, and age of the victim. Here are some common ways that victims handle intimate partner rape:

Rationalization – “It was just that once.” “It’s my fault.” “I led him on.”

Minimizing – “Hey, at least he didn’t beat me.” “It’s not so bad.”

Dissociation – “I don’t have any feelings about this.” “I can’t think about it.” “I won’t think about it.”

Denial – “That didn’t happen.” “Rape happens with strangers, not partners.” “He would never hurt me.”

Focus upon the good – “Think of all the GOOD things we have.” “She/he really IS a good person,” which means the victim is the bad one.

Self-soothing behaviors – watching television, showers, smoking, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.

Submitting to additional sexual assaults to avoid a repeat of the rape.

Strong sense of betrayal and shock that someone they loved could sexually assault them.

Humiliation and a feeling of being “dirty.”

Anger and Guilt – if they’d been better partners, the rape wouldn’t have occurred.

Inability to trust another intimate partner or feel comfortable being intimate again.

Post-traumatic stress disorder
Because victims of intimate partner rape usually have homes and children with the attacker, they are often unlikely to report rape and other forms of abuse. This means a victim of Intimate Partner Rape has likely been raped repeatedly.

Those who have experienced Intimate Partner Rape may experience more shame and self-loathing for being in – or remaining in – an abusive relationship.

As the rapist is someone the victim had chosen to be intimate with, the victim may begin to question who he or she may trust.

Types of Partner Rape:

There’s been a common belief that rape is about sex. It’s not. Rape, especially partner rape, is about power, violence, and control.

Anger Rape – this type of rape is particularly violent and performed in retaliation, as punishment if a man believes his partner deserves it. This especially occurs in response to her leaving, flirting with someone else, or showing him up.

Sadistic Rape – Anger rape is performed to punish a woman, but sadistic rape is performed when the attacker enjoys causing pain or humiliating his partner. This may involve cutting, biting, burning, or urinating on his victim to humiliate her.

Power Rape – this type of rape is a clear demonstration of “who the boss” is. Abusive partners often want sex after beating their partners, and this type of rape forces a woman to forget the fight and make up. This rape may not be violent, but it may instead involve force. This type of rape occurs when a woman is bullied into sex or intimidated into giving in to keep the peace.

Obsessive Rape – any type of rape by a partner who insists upon performing repeated bizarre or fetish-like sex. This may involve repeated oral or anal rape.
Why do People Stay After They’ve Been Raped by Their Partner?

There are many reasons that people stay with an abusive partner. What you decide to do is ultimately up to you, and you don’t owe it to anybody to explain your motivations. If you stay, you should have the same amount of love and support as ANY other sexual assault victim.

Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Widespread in the US

New survey finds these types of violence affect the health of millions of adults

On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, according to findings released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story – more than 1 million women reported being raped in a year and over 6 million women and men were victims of stalking in a year, the report says.

“This landmark report paints a clear picture of the devastating impact these violent acts have on the lives of millions of Americans,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The information collected in this ongoing survey will serve as a vital tool in the Administration′s efforts to combat domestic violence and sexual abuse. And the report underscores the importance of our Administration′s workExternal Web Site Icon to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.”

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, or NISVS, is one of CDC′s latest public health surveillance systems and is designed to better describe and monitor the magnitude of sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence victimization in the United States. It is the first survey of its kind to provide simultaneous national and state-level prevalence estimates of violence for all states. Launched in 2010, NISVS also provides data on several types of violence that have not previously been measured in a national population-based survey.

Key findings in the NISVS 2010 Summary Report include:

For women:

  • High rates of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence were reported by women.
    • Nearly 1 in 5 women has been raped at some time in her life.
    • One in 4 women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
    • One in 6 women has experienced stalking victimization during her lifetime in which she felt very fearful or believed that she or someone close to her would be harmed or killed. Much of stalking victimization was facilitated by technology, such as unwanted phone calls and text messages.
  • Almost 70 percent of female victims experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before the age of 25.
  • Approximately 80 percent of female victims of rape were first raped before age 25.
  • Female victims of violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence) were significantly more likely to report physical and mental health problems than female non–victims.
  • Across all forms of violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence), the vast majority of victims knew their perpetrator (often an intimate partner or acquaintance and seldom a stranger).

For men:

  • About 1 in 7 men has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
  • One in 19 men has experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
  • Almost 53 percent of male victims experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before age of 25
  • More than one-quarter of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.
  • Male victims of violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence) were significantly more likely to report physical and mental health problems than male non-victims.

“This report highlights the heavy toll that sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence places on adults in this country. These forms of violence take the largest toll on women, who are more likely to report immediate impacts and long-term health problems caused by their victimization,” said Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Much victimization begins early in life, but the consequences can last a lifetime.”

The report findings also underscore violence as a major public health burden and demonstrate how violence can have impacts that last a lifetime. For instance, the findings indicate female victims of violence had a significantly higher prevalence of long-term health problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, frequent headaches, chronic pain, and difficulty sleeping.

Every woman has the possibility of being beaten or raped by a partner.

Every woman has the possibility of being beaten or raped by a partner.

Marital rape

Marital rape

And nearly twice as many women who were victims of violence reported having asthma, compared to women who did not report violence victimization.

“The health problems caused by violence remind us of the importance of prevention,” said Howard Spivak, M.D., director of the Division of Violence Prevention in CDC′s Injury Center. “In addition to intervening and providing services, prevention efforts need to start earlier in life, with the ultimate goal of preventing all of these types of violence before they start.”

NISVS provides data that can help inform policies and programs aimed at preventing violence as well as addressing the specific information needs of state and national governmental and nongovernmental organizations, while providing an initial benchmark for tracking the effectiveness of prevention efforts.

For more information about NISVS, including the executive summary and study details, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs.

CDC′s Injury Center works to prevent injuries and violence and their adverse health consequences.

  • For more information about sexual violence, please visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/

If you or someone you know is the victim of:

Additional resources: