Rape Culture

imageRape culture not only exists, it’s alive and going strong. As much as I’d like to say there are changes happening to bring awareness and to put a stop to it, it’s still out there thriving and doing well. As much as I’d like to deny it has such a huge impact and affect on my life, it does. Every darn day. I’d like to deny that it infringes on my daily routines but I’d be lying. I’ve noticed it more and more every day as the weather gets warmer and the amount of warm clothing required becomes less and less. I’ve not only noticed it, I’ve come to resent and even dread it. I can no longer remain in denial and say that it isn’t affecting me so much because I’ve woken up and I now see that it is. It influences so many of my daily decisions, whether it be what to wear or where I’m going, what time of day I’ll be going and which route will attract the least amount of attention.

 

Recently I began wearing my summer dresses to work because, well, it’s finally warm enough outside to do so, but I’ve realized that when I wear them I’m usually very self-conscious and really uncomfortable. I won’t even leave my bedroom at home unless I’ve put on a pair of shorts underneath my skirt. I’ve told myself that I do this because I have 2 small children who can’t keep their hands to themselves but the truth is, it’s the grown men who can’t keep their hands to themselves. Two summers ago I found that out the hard way when a male co-worker kept “jokingly” reaching down towards my skirt “pretending” like he was going to lift it up whenever I walked by him. After a few of these “fake-outs” he followed it up by sneaking up behind me while I was speaking to another male co-worker and actually putting his hands UP THE BACK OF MY SKIRT and touching the back of my bare thigh! I angrily told him off and stormed out of the room right into my supervisor’s office. We went to HR the following day and explained what had happened. Of course he was “spoken to” about it and he told her it wasn’t just HIS fault, that I was at fault too. He came here from another country and it is “normal” there.  So HR pretty much excused his behaviour and we were BOTH told not to let it happen again and to keep it quiet to protect his reputation! Wait, what?! You’d think a woman HR representative would understand but, nope.

 

This happened 2 years ago and I’m tired of hiding and covering up something I did NOT ask for let alone deserve. Why should I continue to hide HIS shame? It took a long time for me to begin to wear dresses again since that incident and even now I still feel uneasy wearing one. But why should I have to forego half of my summer wardrobe because some guy can’t keep his hands to himself? I shouldn’t!  Since the incident this man has gone out of his way to avoid speaking to me at all costs. He leaves the room if I enter, even if other people are present, and if I’m already in a room he will just turn right around and leave. He gives me dirty looks every time he sees me as well. I’m fine with no contact, in fact I’m all for it, but I am not fine with constantly feeling tense and uncomfortable at work because of him. Despite being told to keep it quiet, I’m sure he’s told people about it so why should I continue to keep this quiet? It’s eating me up inside. I’m still really nervous about wearing certain things to work because of this man. I see other women wearing whatever they want without a care but I’m not afforded that “luxury” all because one man took my choice of outfit as an invitation to touch me.

 

I don’t just feel uneasy at work when I’m wearing a dress, I pretty much feel that way no matter where I am, even inside my own mini van! Seriously, inside my own van. I was driving on a major highway commuting to work last summer listening to the radio, minding my own business when I heard the loud honk of a transport truck’s horn next to me. I immediately looked for the offending driver he was surely honking at for one transgression or another, but saw nobody near the front of his truck. I looked out my passenger window to see what was going on and saw a hand waving at me and giving me the thumbs up sign. Confused, I thought “yeah, you’re a good driver too” sarcastically. I didn’t get it until he continued to drive beside me, honking, waving and pointing at my bare legs protruding from the hem of my skirt. OH. MY. GOD! He was honking at me because he “liked what he saw”. I was shocked. I tried speeding up, slowing down and changing lanes but he continued beside me. It was rush hour so I really couldn’t just floor it to get out of there. He was relentless. This was more than just street harassment, this was in traffic on a highway. I could get hurt. Someone could get hurt. I did eventually manage some evasive driving and got off the highway safely but this scared the hell out of me. To this day I cover my legs with a sweater while driving in a dress.

 

I’ve noticed that I’m uncomfortable in a LOT of situations no matter where I am or who I’m with. It doesn’t matter. I see the looks in the eyes of these men in public and I just do not feel safe. Isn’t that what rape culture is? It’s that us women always have to be aware and vigilant of our whereabouts and surroundings “in case” something happens. We shouldn’t have to live like this. Nobody should have to. It’s like living in a prison. We are constantly scared and are never truly free. I’ve read a lot of articles written by men stating that they are the good one, women shouldn’t fear them and they get offended when we do fear them. It’s not because of THEM in particular, it’s because of this society and it’s because of rape culture. It’s going to take ALL men to work to eradicate it, not just a few here and a couple there. That’s what they don’t understand. How about we start teaching the boys to keep their hands to themselves and not to rape rather than having to teach women how not to get raped. Nothing will change until we do.

 

 

Advertisements

Reaching Out

From the title of my blog I’m pretty sure you get the idea of what it’s all about. I’ve lived through domestic violence throughout my life and have decided to use my experiences to help others. Having lived through violence and abuse, I know first-hand what it can be like. Every person and situation are different but there are many similarities as well. Because of my experiences I have what a lot of doctors, counselors, psychologists and therapists don’t have, something that cannot be learned from a textbook. I have experience. Having said that, I know what it feels like to feel isolated, lost, alone and scared. I know what it’s like to feel like there is nowhere to go, no one to turn to for support. As a child I prayed for someone, anyone, to come and rescue me. I begged for someone to talk to, someone who’d listen to me and comfort me. Back then there weren’t many services available; certainly nothing was available for a child to reach out to. We didn’t have the Internet yet and in the eyes of society and the police, domestic violence was a “private” matter. A dirty secret to be kept behind closed doors and definitely never talked about to anyone outside of the family and often even within the family.

Now there is help. The silence has been broken and millions of resources are available in schools, communities and online. The latter is where I found my voice. I have found an outlet in which to share my story, thoughts and feelings openly and freely. I can use it to help others. I’ve found a few different ways in which to share my story and spread awareness online. In fact, I began with this blog. One day I opened a WordPress blog account and my experiences flowed down through my fingertips, through the keyboard and onto the screen. It was one of the most liberating feelings to click “publish” and see my experiences, my story, shoot out into cyberspace. I’ve received many positive comments for sharing and that is such a rewarding feeling.

Shortly after I started the blog I decided to create a page on Facebook with the same name as my blog. It became an open forum for others to share and to come together to find solidarity, friendship and encouragement. I make sure to keep it a positive place for everyone, only posting positive and uplifting messages and images. I’ve even received many encouraging and positive messages from many of the others on the page. I’ve been lucky enough to make a few great friends from my page as well.

It was my Facebook page that led me to one of the biggest and most positive influences in my life over the last year. I came across an organization called Children of Domestic Violence (CDV.org). I found their page on Facebook and read through a lot of their posts and found one in particular that has made a big difference in my life. The post was asking for adult survivors of childhood domestic violence to be interviewed. To share their experiences and talk about how they overcame the abuse later in life. I gathered my courage and sent them a message and a link to my blog. They were quick to respond and I did an interview over the phone. It felt amazing to know that I could share my experiences with such an awesome organization. Soon after, I received a message from them as I g if I’d be interested in being a guest blogger on their website. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. I’d be able to share with so many people through their website. I could reach so many and maybe help a lot of people.

My first guest blog went up today, January 29, 2014 (link) and I am truly honoured and grateful for this huge opportunity. I want to thank them for everything they do to help children living with domestic violence as well as for the adult survivors. They’ve helped me to work through some very difficult times in my life and I know they’ve helped countless others as well. Thank you CDV for all you do. I may not have had support as a child but I know that children today do have help and support and I’m grateful to be a part of that.

Down Days

Everyone has a few days here and there where they feel like the walls are closing in on them. Where they feel like things are never going to get better. Some of us have a lot more days like that than we’d like. Whether it’s a result of depression, circumstances or both, these days all have one thing in common. They suck.

 

Lately I’ve been having more and more of these awful days. I can blame depression as well as circumstances equally for contributing to them. It seems that no matter what I do, how hard I try, it’s never going to be good enough. I feel like I’m drowning and I’ve got no means to rescue myself. My arms and legs are tired and sore from trying to keep my head above the raging water for too long. It feels like I’m fighting a losing battle, I keep fighting and trying but I’m spinning my tires and going nowhere fast. Nothing is changing, not for the good anyway. It seems as if the only change I’ve been able to see so far is for things to get worse. And worse. And harder and harder. It seems as if I’ll never receive help or feel relief ever again. Sometimes I just want to let my head slip blissfully beneath the waves and give up. I want to and I probably would have by now except for one thing that keeps me going and fighting, my kids.

 

Despite wanting to give up, quit, stop caring, I can’t. I care too much. I love my kids so much and I know they love me and depend on me to be here, to remain strong for them. I see it in their eyes when I’m having a bad day, going through the motions and putting on the fake smile while on the verge of tears and hiding a hurricane of inner turmoil. They sense that something just isn’t right and they make a point to hug me that one extra time or to randomly come up to me and kiss me, telling me they love me.I see such compassion and empathy in their young eyes, it melts away the anger, stress and tears of sorrow and gives me tears of happiness and pride. I know I must be doing something right.

 

Seeing my babies showing such emotion well beyond their years just amazes me. They truly care. I hope they never lose that in this sometimes vicious world. I hope they go on to live a life of love and compassion and teach their children the same. Although I experience down days, I know they are only temporary and I have everything to be thankful for, especially for my children. They are my light, my love and my life.

Knowing When You Need Help

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on my blog, not for lack of ideas, but for too many ideas and an overwhelming amount of stress. Since I’ve last posted, I’ve gone through quite a lot of stressful and overwhelming things. The list of everything would probably fill a novel, so I won’t go into detail, but I have been having a really hard time with everything. I’ve finally had some time to focus on everything that’s happened to me since early childhood and to finally begin to face those demons. It’s been so long and I have buried so much, so deep down that it’s going to take a long time to go through it all. I find that since I actually consciously told myself that I was ready to go back and remember things, memories are coming to the surface. Memories I had blocked out as a child in order to protect myself.

 

Since I’ve begun to remember things, my emotions have been all over the place. I know I harbour a lot of anger, the child in me does. I have abandonment issues, because my father chose to stay out of the picture and not to interfere with our lives. I wish he had. I wish he’d cared enough to check on my brother and me, even once. Maybe he could’ve put a stop to the violence in my home. Maybe he could’ve saved us. I still feel a lot of resentment towards my father, because he could’ve helped us, but chose to stay away. Our mother had told us that he didn’t want us in the first place and that he didn’t care about us. I think in a way she was keeping us close because she didn’t want to be alone. Even with her abuser in the house, she would’ve been alone and probably would’ve never gotten out.

 

I also have a lot of other issues that are common with child survivors of domestic violence. I’m almost a textbook case. I’ve developed and grown up to do things that a lot of child survivors do. I’ve even found many similarities of things I’ve done throughout my life to support that. Emotionally and psychologically I am also close to a textbook case. Reading many articles written by accredited psychologists I could swear that they’re writing about me. “I feel that, I do that, I’ve done that.” The thing that scares me about reading the articles and looking at my life is I have also acted out in my late youth/early adulthood very similarly to many child survivors of sexual abuse. I’ve done and felt things that are characteristics of childhood sexual abuse survivors. I do have memories of my mother’s abuser making me sit on his lap at the bowling alley while my mom was up for he turn, her back was turned and she didn’t see anything. I remember him telling me that he “wanted to teach me about life” and to “meet him in the basement after everyone had gone to sleep.” I don’t have any memories of actual physical contact besides sitting on his lap, I’ve blocked out years of my childhood, but I do remember those words very well.

 

As I’ve started this journey of going back and trying to heal, I’ve realized I can’t do it on my own. Not totally anyway. Soon after I actively started trying to remember things that happened in my childhood, I started having panic attacks. The first one happened on the highway while I was going home from work a month ago. Nothing triggered it, nothing that I can think of, but BAM it hit me so hard and scared me to death. I had to pull over and call 911 and take an ambulance to the hospital. THIS is the turning point in my journey. I could’ve crashed my van and hurt or killed myself and other people! That scared me nearly to death. I was not only putting my own life at risk, but I was putting everyone around me on that highway at risk too. I could’ve been seriously injured, who would take care of my children? My daughter has her father but my son has my ex abuser as his father. I couldn’t risk everything and leave my children without a mother.

 

THIS is when I took a step back and literally said “I can’t do this alone anymore.” I’ve been so stubborn trying to do it all on my own, being supermom, commuting to work, paying all the bills, going to court every month, healing from the loss of my mother 5 days before I had my son, dealing with childhood trauma, PTSD. The whole lot of it. I finally stopped, looked around and realized that I COULDN’T DO IT ALONE. I needed help. Professional help. So I did what I’d previously thought unthinkable, I reached out. I asked. The earth didn’t open up and swallow me whole. Fire didn’t rain down from the sky. I asked and I didn’t die. I’ve never been able to ask for help, never. But I did, and I’m now getting connected with an anxiety clinic, counselor, psychologist and soon I’ll call a counselor from a place that deals with victims of sexual assault. Even if it was years ago.

 

I’ve finally gotten to the point where I have asked for help and I’m now going to get it. I shouldn’t have put it off for so long, shouldn’t have tried to do it all on my own. I now see that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of true strength. It was easy to hide it all and try to do it alone but it was hard to reach out. It took strength, a LOT of it, and I did it.

Dear Little Me:

selfWhen I was little and going through the trauma of listening to my mom’s severe, almost daily beatings, I would lie in my bed and imagine my adult self slipping back into the past to comfort little me. I’d imagine my adult self holding me and comforting me, telling me that everything was going to be alright. My adult self would gather little me into her arms, stroke my hair and tell me that I would get through it, that things would one day be better. Adult me would tell little me to try and hold on, to try to remain strong, that there was a better life ahead for me and that I was destined to do great things. Those thoughts, hopes and prayers are what kept me going, they helped me to hold on and move forward. I truly believe that those fantasies gave me hope and kept me going. There were times when I even felt a presence with me, holding and comforting me. Stroking my hair and wiping away my tears. In a way I wanted my adult self to come back to the little me and be a mother to me the way my mom could not. She couldn’t comfort me during her relentless and violent beatings. She couldn’t be there when I needed her the most. So I did what I could to survive.

 

Now, as adult me, I remember those cries for help and I wish that I could actually go back to that scared little girl, all alone in her room, listening to her mother being beaten. I’d take my little self into my arms the way I take my own children into my arms to comfort them. I want to bring little me close to my heart and hug her tight, sooth her, let her know that there is hope. I wish I could go back and look into that helpless, lost little girl’s eyes and say: “Yes, you can, you can make it. You will get through this, I know you will because I did. I was you and I did.” I want to hold that terrified child, I want to take away her pain, her hurt, her sorrow. I want her to be a child, the child she never really got a chance to be. I want to give her back her childhood, her life. But I can’t.

 

If I could go back and actually talk to my little self, there is so much I’d say to her. I know I can’t save her from her fate, I can’t walk her path. I can’t take away the pain she’ll endure for most of her life because of abuse, but I could be there and encourage her. Give her hope. I wouldn’t have the heart to tell her what she will experience throughout her life as she grows up, marries and starts her own family. I would speak to her so that she could understand that she will make it through everything and emerge on the other side stronger than ever. I’d wipe away her tears, look into her big brown eyes and say:

“I know. I know what’s happening. I know how you feel. I know you’re scared. I know you feel alone and that nobody cares. I know you cry silently into your pillow every night while your mind is screaming for someone, anyone to come and save you. I know what you hear every night after you’ve gone to bed. I know what he said to you and that you know what that means. I know you’re terrified by the sound of his voice. I know your mommy can’t help you right now. I know all of it and I know you will survive. It’s not easy for you and the path you are on won’t be easy, but it will make you stronger. You will grow up to be kind, loving, compassionate, honest, sincere and much more. One day you will stand up for yourself and for others who don’t yet have a voice. One day you will shake off the chains that bind you to the fear, hurt, loneliness, shame and helplessness. I won’t tell you that it will get easier, I’m still wishing for that. You have a long journey ahead of you and you’ll feel more hurt, more pain, more sorrow, loneliness and shame but you are never alone. You will go through a lot in your life, a lot of bad but a lot of good too. You’ll excel in school, get a good job, have children of your own. You will instantly fall in love with them when they’re born. They become your motivation to keep going. They will give you the love and strength to get through everything you’ve gone through because you want better for them. It won’t be easy, it will take decades, but it will be worth it.”

 

I’d tell my childhood self that I love her and that she should love herself. That may sound silly to her but it will make all the difference later on. I’d tell her that is very important and try not to forget. I’d say “I know you may feel unloved right now but your mommy loves you with all of her heart. She didn’t want this for you, she wanted better for you but she can’t make it stop. It’s not your fault. Remember that, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Nothing you could ever do would make your mommy deserve this. No one deserves this. It’s ok to feel the way you do. Cry if you need to. Scream if you need to. Pound your fists into your pillow if you need to. Do all of it at once if you need to. Feel it. Let it out. Don’t hold it in, it’ll tear you apart if you do. Talk to someone you trust. Write it down or ask for help from someone you trust. Don’t hold on to the anger, let it out. Don’t let everything you’ve gone through make you bitter. You are a beautiful little girl and you deserve to be happy. I love you, I love you, I love you, I LOVE YOU! Don’t ever forget that. I’ll always be in your heart, I’ll never leave you, I’m here with you now and forever. Don’t forget that.”

 

I’d wipe the tears from little Michelle’s cheeks, pull her close to my heart, kiss her forehead and cheeks, and never let go. I love my younger self as if she were my own child. I love her so much and I wish I could take away all of the pain. I love her with all my heart. She is me and I am her. I finally realize what loving myself means. I get it now. I love myself and that makes all the difference.

My Story

My two children and me Christmas 2012

My two children and me Christmas 2012

My story begins in early childhood. It was great for the first 5 years of my life. My parents were married and I had a little brother. We lived in a nice big house in a rural area. I had everything I needed and wanted, everything was great. Then came the one night that changed the course of my life and sent me spiraling downward in a deadly tailspin. It was a night like any other, my mom put my brother and me to bed and she was in the basement reading and watching tv. My dad was out on a call, he owned a furnace and air conditioner business. My brother had snuck into my room and we were goofing off and being silly. Our dad came home and we heard mom give him his dinner. It wasn’t long after that when the screams began. We could hear thuds and my mom screaming. I froze in my bed, I couldn’t move. My brother begged me to go with him to see what was happening. He went alone, I regret not going with him to this very day. He witnessed our father beating our mother, it stopped as soon as my mom yelled to my brother to go upstairs. But he’d already seen enough, years of therapy were needed after that for him. My mom kicked my dad out and we had to sell the house and move. We lived in a crummy, dingy, dirty, cockroach infested apartment where my brother and I now had to share a room. My dad got visitation and my mom got custody. Before dad was to pick us up, mom would say dad was going to kidnap us and take us to Quebec so that we’d be scared to go with him. A few months later mom met THE ABUSER, the really bad one. He lived with his parents, a HUGE red flag for me now, just down the hall from us. He started talking to mom, taking her out on dates. He’d buy my brother and me toys and candy. He began giving us an allowance. Everything seemed great. Finally my mom got into assisted housing and we moved to a better neighbourhood into a semi-detached house with a huge yard and we all got our own bedrooms. We loved it there, we could play out in the street or in the big field behind our house. My mom’s new boyfriend, the abuser, moved in with us. He was still nice and bought us things. But it began to change, slowly. He’d be drinking with mom and he’d verbally abuse her, that’s what started and it escalated from there. I remember my mom and the abuser loved bowling, so they dragged my brother and me to the bowling alley very frequently. While there, they’d both proceed to drink, it all seemed fine, until we got home. My brother and I would be put in bed and we’d begin to hear the thuds and screams of our mom. He was violent, he’d throw her into walls, he threw furniture at her. when it first began I’d hide in my closet, but as it got warmer outside, I’d sneak out of my bedroom window, go around to my brother’s window and we’d escape into the night. Free from the sounds of screams, swearing, pleading, crying, PAIN. I felt horribly guilty when we snuck out because we were leaving our mom, but we knew he might come get us and we were so scared. I remember one time they actually realized we were gone and came looking for us. When they saw us, his anger was turned towards my brother and me. We got hit too. We got sworn at, we got torn down. I remember a lot of the fights, sometimes our mom would make us lock ourselves in the bathroom, with no window. We’d climb up to the top shelf in the linen closet, shut the door and pray he wouldn’t find us. I can still hear the screams, I can still see the blood and bruises, I can still see my mom’s poor foot when he threw the wood coffee table at her and snapped it. She had a cast for months afterward. I remember one Christmas he threw my mom right into the tree and beat her there. He broke a lot of the lights and ornaments too. I remember a lot of it vividly, but there are some years that I’ve blocked out. They went bowling a lot, in the summer it was every day, and they’d both drink and drive home with us in the car. One particular night he made me sit on his lap every time he was waiting for his turn, while my mom was up throwing the ball. He whispered in my ear to meet him in the basement that night after everyone was asleep so he could “teach me about life.” I knew what he was going to do. I was terrified. I didn’t tell. Even though my mom had told me she was raped by her brother and all of his friends from when she was 5 until she was 13. She’d told me that I could tell her, but I couldn’t. I KNEW what this man was capable of, he WOULD kill her, and us. Luckily, I dodged a major bullet that night. After we’d gotten home, the usual fight ensued and this time my mom made him leave the house. Thank you God! But the next day she forgave him, again, and we ended up at the bowling alley. Again he made me sit on his lap, again he told me to meet him downstairs. I asked “what happens if I fall asleep too?” and he said he’d come and get me. I began planning where I could hide in my room. That night there was another fight and my mom told him to leave. I told her then what he’d said to me and she called the police. I don’t remember much after that. I don’t remember if there were times he’d gotten me into the basement. If he did, I’ve blocked it all out, and it can stay that way. Although, it would explain a lot about my life and decisions I’ve made. I remember when I was 11 I had to testify against him. Finally my mom had him charged and he was on trial. It was terrifying having to sit up on the stand and testify what he’d done to my mom. The whole time his eyes burned right through my very soul. I remember he was convicted and my mom was granted a restraining order, I vaguely remember him coming back and violating it and being put back in jail. I think my mom even visited him in jail, saying she was sorry. Everything’s jumbled up in my head. I was too young to process this. A couple of years go by and my mom starts seeing the abuser’s best friend, yeah good move. But he was much kinder, gentler, soft-spoken, genuinely nice. He was good to us. They saw each other for a very long time. Now to my adult life. In college I dated a lot of guys, I mean a lot. I was in and out of relationships quicker than you could turn the page of a book. I went to clubs and bars, drank myself stupid 6 nights a week. I’d go home with guys I didn’t know. I was pretty messed up. I remember one of the guys I worked with asked me to hang out at his house a couple of times. I went and we just watched a movie and I drove home. But on my 20th birthday, he asked me to have my mom drive me over and he’d pay for a taxi home because we were going to celebrate my birthday with a few drinks and his family wouldn’t be home. I have never told anybody this before, besides my mom, nobody else knows. We were drinking and having a good time and it was getting late so I asked him to call me the taxi. He kept stalling and making out with me. He finally said he’d call but the phone and money were in his room and did I want to go and call from there. I went because I was really tired. He started taking off his clothes, then mine. He was all over me with his hands. I didn’t want to so I said “no” a couple of times, but he didn’t stop. I’d heard about date rape and I knew if I tried to fight him off, I’d get hurt, I didn’t want to have a violent memory, if I didn’t fight back it wouldn’t be rape, would it? I said “no” over and over again softly, but he didn’t stop. When he was done, he quickly got dressed and called me a taxi. After that he was cold to me at work. I began hearing rumors at work, I’d hear all of the guys calling me a slut, a HO, and a bunch of other names. I’d just go home and cry. I thought it was my fault because I was with so many people while I was in college. One night my mom heard me crying in my room and she came to see what was wrong. I told her what the guys at work were saying about me. She looked at me and said “Well, you DID sleep with him though, didn’t you?” I told her it wasn’t by choice, I’m not sure she ever believed me so I never told anyone else. A couple of years later, I began dating a friend I’d known throughout college. We were best friends and I loved him. We were great together. We got engaged the day I graduated and I was so happy. I thought it was my happily ever after. Nope. We lived with his parents for a while to save for the wedding, we got married and bought our own house. We then decided to have a baby. I was so excited when I saw the plus sign on the test.I wanted a baby so badly. At 8 weeks we were going to the doctor to do confirmation tests and figure out the due date. I’d calculated it to be Christmas Eve, awesome. Right before we left for the doctor I started spotting and I freaked, he calmed me down and said wait to see what the doctor says. The doctor said it could be implantation bleeding or a miscarriage, but we wouldn’t know right away. I was scared, I didn’t want to lose my baby. I was at work a couple of days later and my worst fear came true, I lost the baby at work. I never told anyone at work about it. My husband’s reaction was to say it wasn’t even alive, to get over it already. He told me to stop being so depressed. He became emotionally and psychologically abusive. He was a gaslighter (read my blog entry on gaslighting). He made me think I was crazy, that I was the bad one. Finally, 3 months later I became pregnant and we had a baby girl, she was an emergency Cesarian because she was a footling breech. As my husband watched the doctors cut me open, he said he had a new respect for me for having to go through that. It didn’t last long. He took 5 weeks paternity leave but instead of helping me, he just hung out with his friends and his brother, he’d stay out late drinking with my car, he didn’t have one. I became suspicious of him and checked his phone, I found a text from a family “friend” that she enjoyed having him inside her the night before. I confronted him, but he talked his way out of it (gaslighting) and made me think I was crazy, that I was in the wrong. I later found out, he left his email open, that he’d been having an affair since our daughter was born. I kicked him out that night. I told his parents, he was so mad about that. I sold the house and bought myself a nice little 2 storey house with a yard. I’m still in my house, I love it. Then I met THE ABUSER, my son’s father. I met him on Facebook, yeah I know, very stupid. I found out he lived with his parents in the neighbourhood I’d just left. We met up at a park, I had my daughter. I’d told him about my husband cheating, he had his in. He used my abandonment to get into my heart. He was there for me. He “loved” me. He’d have dinner on the table when I came home. He’d leave me flowers on my porch. It was great. I finally felt loved. He ended up sleeping over almost every night, we’d drink cases of beer a week together. Then it began. At first he’d just yell and I’d tell him to leave, and he would. We’d make up and go a few weeks being happy then another fight, more words, some shoving, he’d leave, we’d make up. It never escalated past that, until I became pregnant. After he “HAD” me, that was it. He’d shake me while pregnant, push me into walls, threaten me and my daughter, call me names, ripped me apart psychologically. I had no friends left, I was alone. 5 days before I had my son, my mom passed away suddenly. I was there, she was in my arms, a little piece of me died that day. I still have not dealt with it, 2.5 years later and I just can’t, the abuse is taking all of my energy. After we’d buried my mom, my abuser’s mother said we could use her house for the reception because it was short notice and we couldn’t get a hall. My abuser’s brother had found a bottle of alcohol my brother had stored in the fridge for our family at the reception, he proceeded to drink it all and was passed out in one of the bedrooms when my family arrived. Family began to leave and it was just me, my abuser, my brother and father, dad’s wife and a friend from highschool. Abuser’s father, little brother, daughter, neice, nephew and my daughter were all in the basement with abuser’s father watching a movie. We were talking and my family was having a couple of drinks, abuser was going overboard. His brother, whom was passed out, proceeded to start yelling for us to shut up, he was still so drunk that he couldn’t move. My abuser ran down the hall, kicked the door down, jumped on his brother and began beating him severely. My brother, father and our friend tried to pull him off of his brother but abuser’s father came rushing upstairs with all of the children following him. A physical fight ensued while my family was just trying to stop it, they were being beaten by abuser and his father. Horrible things were yelled in front of the children. I was pushed into a wall by abuser’s father. I ran outside crying and all of the children followed me. I was glad to get them out of there. We had to leave, but I could only take my daughter and I wish I could’ve saved them all. This is the memory I’m stuck with of the day I buried my mom. I ended up going into labour after that and on Monday I gave birth to our son, I’d forgiven abuser and he was in the delivery room with me. I thought everything would be ok now, that he’d change now that the baby was born. As I lay there watching the doctors working on my son, I hear no cry. What was wrong? He wasn’t breathing. I had emotionally collapsed at that point, I had NO feelings toward that baby. I was distancing myself in case he didn’t make it. If I wasn’t close to him, it would be easier to lose him. But the doctors got him breathing and he spent a week in the NICU with pneumonia. The first couple of days were ok, I was worried but knew he’d be alright. A couple of days later I was isolated and my son was too because I’d become very ill. After a week, we were released and ready to go home. I became depressed, of course I’d just lost my mother, was trapped in an abusive relationship and had just given birth. I saw a counsellor and doctors to determine if I’d be ok to take care of myself and the baby and they concluded that I was, but I had to take some medication. Ok, cool, no problem. My abuser used that against me. He became increasingly abusive, he never beat me, but he was emotionally, financially and psychologically abusing me. He kept telling me to go kill myself, so I made him leave and go back to his parents’ house. He managed to smooth things over enough to convince me to go up there with the baby, big mistake. He yanked the baby seat with the baby in it out of my hands, began yelling at me and telling me I was an unfit parent and I should just go kill myself. I’d be better off dead. He then forcefully pushed me into a wall in front of his mother and the children in the family, she folded her arms, turned her back on me and said “well, I didn’t see anything.” I called some friends from church and they came and smoothed everything over. I took him back again and he came home with me that night. About a week later I was really wanting him out of MY house. I was done. My daughter, the baby and I were out with a friend and we came home abour 5pm. He was on the couch and the whole house reeked of alcohol. I knew. I knew this was it, do or die. I unlocked my iPhone, turned on the video camers and put it face down on the pillow that I was nursing our son on. He of course started picking at me. Where was I? Why wasn’t I home with HIS son when HE wanted him? I remained calm and spoke with no emotion, he got angrier and told me to “go dig a ditch beside your cu&t of a mother and kill yourself in it?” I’d lost my mom 7 weeks prior. By this time he was in my face telling me how I thought I was so high and mighty and I needed to be taken way down. At this point my then 3-year-old daughter got between him in front of her brother and me to protect us. He grabbed her head in one hand and heaved her across the room. THAT WAS IT! I WAS DONE! I grabbed her and the baby and went upstairs and called 911, I whispered “domestic, he’s going to kill me.” Police were there fast. There was a man and a woman. He became beligerant with the male officer in the living room while I showed the woman the video. Finally the police told him to leave, he said he wanted to say good bye to his son, the police said it was okay and I should hand him the baby. I reluctantly did and he tried to take him. The male officer said no way and threatened to put him back in jail. Apparently he has a long and violent history. The officers told me to go to the court house on Monday and get a restraining order. I went, I got one. We ended up in court and I won full custody of our son. He’s breached all of the court orders. He threatened to kill me during an access exchange in a public facility. He was arrested and jailed, but he got his friends to come and key both sides of my new mini van and they spray painted it too. He continues to watch me, he has people watching me. I have an alarm system in my house, surveillance cameras on my van. I live in fear. We are back in court so I can hopefully revoke access to our son, his ex has teamed up with me to take access to their 9-year-old daughter. We are currently waiting for him to get come courses done and to get hospital paperwork and police incident records. He’s probably not going to do it anytime soon, so I sit here, with a brief sigh of relief. I started this blog and the Facebook page to help others. I know I’m not alone. I know there is a lot of unreported violence and victim blaming. I’m here not to break the silence, but to SHATTER it.

When I Get Sick

The last couple of weeks have been pretty rough in my house. I’ve had two sick children, of course NOT at the same time. I was called home from work three times and had to take one full day off. I’m a single mom who works about an hour and a half, on a good day, from my home. I’ve been commuting tor over 11 years now, 8 of which are at my current job. When I get called home, my poor children have to wait over an hour until I can get home. That’s the worst part of being so far away. People have suggested that I move but where I work is a fairly wealthy area and I could never afford to live there, let alone leave my church and friends here.

 

The first call came from daycare on a Wednesday, my 2-year-old son was throwing up everywhere and he had a fever. I left halfway through my day. I ended up having to take the next day, Thursday off as well because my son threw up everywhere as we were leaving for daycare. Friday rolls around, I drop the kids off at daycare and everything is great, until my cell phone rings again. This time it was my daughter’s school, she was sick  and had a fever. Will this never end? I again left work very early and picked my kids up. The felt better over the weekend and my daughter went to her father’s house.

 

I went back to work the following Monday and managed to get all the way to Friday without incident, then my cell rang again. This time it was daycare and my son was sick again. Oh come on, really? So, again I drove home very early and picked him up. This time I took him to the ER just to get checked out. The doctor said it was a virus, let it run its course, lots of fluids, yadda, yadda, yadda. At least I got a bit of an extended weekend. I liked that part.

 

This week everyone was fine on Monday, just colds and runny noses, that’s cool. This morning, Tuesday, I woke up choking on yucky stuff (the correct name grosses me out). Yay, now it’s my turn. Awesome. By the end of  today I had a nice fever going, a throat so sore I couldn’t eat dinner with my kids, what feels like a double ear infection and my entire body ached. The problem with being a single mom totally on my own is that I have to leave my own medical care until weekends. I lost my mom a mere 5 days before giving birth to my son, my younger brother moved to China, no joking, and my father moved an hour and a half from my home, but not near my work.

 

I do have friends but I can never ask for help, I don’t know why, but I just can’t. I feel that I can’t take any more days off of work because I’ve taken so much time for my kids when they were sick. So, as always, I am forced to wait until it’s a little bit more convenient to go to the ER. When I do go, it has to be a weekend and I have to take my kids. I’m sick and they’re running everywhere, I have no energy to tell them to settle down. My son is 2, he doesn’t always listen. It’s only Tuesday and I have to wait until Saturday because I don’t really have a choice.

 

Being a single mom, I always put my kids first and myself last. That isn’t always a good thing, if I’m too sick to look after them, then that’s also a bad situation. I know a lot of other single moms have to deal with this choice and it’s not easy. We feel guilty no matter what choice we make. If I decide to go to the ER before Saturday, I have to drag 2 kids and wait who knows how long, go fill a prescription at the all-night pharmacy and by the time I get them in bed it could be midnight. I get up at 5am every day to be at work for 8 so that would be so unfair to do to my kids and daycare. But on the other hand, I already have a fever and I feel awful. I’m pretty sure I have another double ear infection again. Being a single mom is not always easy, it’s not always as hard either. There are many ups and downs. I just have to roll with it and have faith that it will all work out.