“Are you trying to break families?” asked the principle of the school.
A few years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to a group of young women about violence.
During the talk, I asked the audience about violence in their homes and under what circumstances they would accept violence from future boyfriends and husbands. They all said they would not accept, but I knew better. One in three women will be abused in her life.
The sad truth is that women don’t really think about future violence and when they don’t put an end to it quickly, they begin to believe it’s too late.
IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO WANT VIOLENCE TO END.
IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO BEGIN TO LEARN THE TOOLS ON HOW TO END VIOLENCE.
At the end of the talk, the school principle asked the question that started off this blog post.
The ONLY answer to this question is this…
IT IS THE ABUSER WHO HAS BROKEN THE FAMILY full stop.
Have you struggled with responding with compassion and love when an individual challenges your boundaries or your truth?
Listen to this episode of the Caring for the Caregivers podcast as Indrani and special guest, Mark Silver, share their wisdom and experience with addressing challenging responses and staying in your power when faced with challenge.
00:00 Intro 01:30 Indrani- Scenario and Introduction of Guest Speaker, Mark Silver 08:02 Mark- How to use training and practice for challenging responses 10:20 Discussion 14:16 Mark- saying No from a place of strength 18:25 Spiritual Power Discussion 25:20 Honoring the Physical Vessel 32:03 Summary and conclusion
She was only 16 or 17 years old. I had just given a short presentation to a group of students and I asked for questions.
She was brave.
She asked what she could do after she had been beaten, and still had to stay in the house.
My heart hurt for her. I knew her pain at a cellular level. I knew her well. I WAS her. I remember being beaten so badly and having welts all over my body, and having to dry my tears. I was told to “go wash your face and when you come out I better not see any crying, you asked for that beating.”
Of course, dear reader, I did not ask for any beating. I had made some childish mistake and I was whipped like I had murdered someone. I remember going to the bathroom, and I was not allowed to shut the door, the abuser needed to “see” that I was not going to have any more “crocodile tears.” I had to suck up all my pain and come out smiling like a good girl. This behavior lasted well into my 50’s.
Don’t let them see you cry those crocodile tears. “They don’t care “…was the voice in my head.
To this day, I still have a hard time owning my pure emotion and I have to fight really hard to not push them down, allow them to morph into anger or rage, or blame. It will probably be a life long lesson. Some days I win and some days I lose.
I told the young lady to try to find a place of solitude in her home and tell herself that one day, she will be out of the house and the abuse will stop.
She could not tell her parents, her parents would be angrier that she “embarrassed the family,” and she would be beaten even more. I told her to use school as a respite. I wish I had someone to tell these things to me. I did not. I had no one to tell me that the abuser was wrong, even though they were caregivers, and said they were beating me because they loved me.
They were wrong. They were telling lies.
We do not hurt what we claim to love.
I deserved love and attention and guidance, not rage and anger and beatings. I have a clear memory of being about 12 years old and kneeling at the side of my bed, praying. My abuser came into the room and asked what I was praying for, and I said for strength. The abuser was pleased.
Yes, I was praying for strength, but strength to live in my hellhole called my childhood.
If I could not get the strength, I prayed that God would take me that night because I could not go on. I was praying to die, at 12 years old. I was not taken, so I guess I got the strength …… and that strength has been parlayed into the work I do now. We are resilient beings. We can stand a lot of pain. If you are in a hellacious situation, and you are an adult, reach out to your local shelter for confidential help. Even if you don’t leave, there are services you can access. They can help you with a plan.
There are people who care that you are in pain.
If you know a child living in a hellacious home, try to be a point of comfort to that child. They need to know you will keep their confidences and that you are a safe place to lay some burdens.
Be that safe place for someone. Someone needs you.
How has my personal story been sitting with you so far? My hope is to help you begin your journey of healing shame, and become the activist you desire to be! Meanwhile, I’m taking a DEEP BREATH. What I’m about to tell you will help me “Live-A-Brighter-Life.” This is the vulnerable place that Brené Brown talks about. This is the place where Indrani Goradia encourages me to be brave.
So, in the Part 1 blog I slightly touched on my story of being raped as a young teenager. As a young girl, I was walking tall, confident, and very secure in myself as I entered into the high school scene. I was involved in all of the sports, highly regarded in my church, played many instruments in our school band, and never broke “the rules.” My parents were known as responsible and loving people, who were living the blue collar “American Dream.” But as we know so often, many of these kinds of families are hiding a secret. Our secret was I had an older brother who was suffering from his own demons of a mental illness and drug abuse. This was back in the 70’s and 80’s when families rarely talked about their private lives. As you can imagine, I made sure I was the “good little girl,” and wanted to make sure I never disappointed my parents, my community, or my church.
In my youth, I was taught that being a “good little girl” meant that you should help people, and do the things God would want you to do here on earth. I thought that was a reasonable request, so I set out doing my best to do JUST that. I had found and befriended a teenage boy who was older than me, and living in a challenging home situation. I continued a friendship with him against my father’s wishes. You see, my parents had some kind of gut feeling about this boy that I wasn’t aware of. So (on a rare decision to disobey my father) I decided to go to this friend’s house and invite him to church. This is where my nightmare began, and did not end for 30 years.
Many of you reading this article right now can completely relate to this story. Certain feelings are stirring up in you, and you can understand the rush of trauma I was experiencing during and after I was raped. Some of you have been raped, sodomized, or sexually abused in your life. You know the feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation, denial, anger, confusion, betrayal, uncertainty, and grief about the loss of innocence that was taken from you. The nightmares have been haunting you for years, and your entire existence revolves around this suffering. And then the biggest question of your lifetime…. Do you tell anyone what happened to you?
I made it home somehow that horrific day, crept into the shower, and felt frozen in my body. I made the painfully conscious decision that I could not tell my parents, or report what had happened. I had disobeyed my parents, and “this is what I deserved.” I told my best friend at the time, and throughout the years I have felt obligated to tell my partners. My parents found out just a few years ago about my rape, and even after a 30-year career in law enforcement and private investigations, I could not NAME my feelings about what had happened to me.
It’s been almost four years since I received the opportunity to start REALLY healing from my rape. When I began to tell my story, the grip it had on me began to release.
What story is gripping you tight? What story is holding you hostage? I had not been open to therapy…. Ever! But through the encouragement and help of people I trusted, I began to see a therapist for my PTSD.
At Indrani’s Light Foundation, we encourage our community to reach out to the people they trust if they need help. In module 4 of the “Live-A-Brighter-Life” workshop series, we teach about “Finding Resilience.” Indrani teaches that separating and insulating yourself from others is a petri dish for shame. Brené Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly,” is my new Bible now, and as I continue to teach Indrani’s “Live-A-Brighter-Life” curriculum, I continue to heal my shame.
Part 4 of my blog series is coming up next. If you’ve been a victim of discrimination, or have ever been shamed or treated differently because of your race, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other situation, I encourage you to keep following my blog series. I lost my beloved career because I was a woman, and a lesbian. I will talk about how I coped with this loss, when the grieving process began, and how I have come to understand this trauma.
I’ve always had a passion for helping women who have suffered abuse of any kind. Why did I choose this particular passion? I am a rape survivor. As a young teenager, I fell victim to an older teenager who preyed upon my kindness of wanting to help him with his “demons” by inviting him to church. He disappeared after the rape, and I chose not to report the rape to police, or my parents for many heart-wrenching reasons. I told my best friend at the time, but my nightmares only seemed to get worse.
I did, however, make sure I got into the front seat of a police car as a police cadet soon after I was raped. I felt safe, and I believed I could help other girls and women if I was a police officer.
As a police officer, I made every effort to handle the domestic violence calls, the reports of rape, sex abuse, or teenage girls who were being abused by their parent or guardian. I investigated every case with a fine tooth comb, dotted every “i,” crossed every “t,” and wanted justice for girls and women who cried out for help.
What I COULDN’T do in my 20 years in law enforcement, was advocate for the girls and women who DID NOT, or COULD NOT seek help. Police officers must remain objective, and are ethically held by the rules of law. I did what I could to encourage these women and girls to report their abusers, but that was the extent of my power.
After 20 years in law enforcement, I became a private investigator, and working criminal defense cases came with this territory. After being a defense investigator during these abuse cases, I became acutely aware of both sides of the stories. After interviewing and representing multiple “alleged” abusers, many of them told me their family history, the abuse they, themselves, suffered as children, and the demons they fought for most of their lives. Many of these men admitted their guilt and asked for help. Other abusive men admitted their guilt, but showed no remorse, and believed the woman “deserved what she got.”
Now that I’m retired from law enforcement and private investigations, I was left with confusing thoughts, beliefs, and judgments, with no clear answer of why men are so abusive to women in our world. The latest statistic from the United Nations is that 1 out of every 3 women will suffer abuse on this planet. This is a staggering pandemic. This means that YOU, or someone you know … a sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, best friend, or daughter ….. has suffered some form of abuse. Maybe you are the abuser? Maybe you were a victim of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse as a child? Or maybe you are being abused now. Where do you go for help? Who do you trust?
In the next “Part 2” blog series, I will share how Indrani Goradia, Indrani’s Light Foundation, and Brené Brown came into play for me. Meanwhile, I’m feeling vulnerable about sharing my story this way, so I’d love some feedback about how this blog is resonating with you. Do you have a similar story? Do you have mixed feelings about becoming an activist? Tell me your thoughts.
With deepest gratitude,
Director of Education & Training
Indrani’s Light Foundation
This week, Team ILF is thrilled to announce the public release of Indrani’s TEDx Talk from the Port Of Spain.
This was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for Indrani to speak to the world about making spanking and corporal punishment a thing of the past, and challenges people to bring peace into their homes.
Indrani brought several ordinary household items onto the stage, such as a shovel, a hammer, a wooden spoon, and a belt. They were portrayed as instruments of torture and weapons. The quote from a parent such as, “I’m beating you for your own good,” is a LIE.
Let’s stop the cycle of abuse in our communities, and we need YOUR help to make this change. Indrani’s Light Foundation and other organizations that have a mission to end domestic violence cannot do this work alone. It takes ALL of us to share the message and educate our generations how to discipline our children without using violence.
Now that you have watched Indrani’s TEDx Talk (if you haven’t watched yet, scroll up and watch it now) share it with your own friends, family, and community. Post this on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter….. share with everyone! We would love your comments and feedback below ….. what are your thoughts about this message?
Here is our continuing blog series of excerpts of Indrani’s TEDxPortofSpain Talk. The public release of her entire TEDx Talk should be available soon. Until then, here is the third excerpt from Indrani’s TEDx Talk:
“Jails are full of people who were abused as children.
Our personal pain and inherited cultural ignorance must never be passed onto our beautiful and vulnerable children. Children need to feel cherished.
…… Boys who receive abuse go on to abuse their wives and their children. They think violence is love.
Girls who receive abuse go on to expect and accept abuse and to abuse their children, they think abuse is love.
They grow up to parrot another one of the Living Lies…when they are struck with force and fury, they are told …
This hurts me more than it hurts you…, This Is A Lie!”
CALL TO ACTION
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Your donation will be used towards eradicating gender violence, training community leaders and sharing behaviour-change tools with people who are ready to leave violence behind and create a brighter, more peaceful world.