#MeToo

I was back and forth about whether I should write about my personal experiences with sexual harassment and assault since I already mentioned it a while back in My Story II – The Downward Spiral, but after what I was seeing earlier today on Twitter, I decided I need to say something.  I am extremely pissed off about what I saw today – the incredible hate, ignorance, demoralization, and politicizing directed towards those who have been stepping forward.  What these people passing judgement do not seem to understand, is that this is a huge issue that has been going on for far too long.  This is NOT a political phenomena, quit accusing the brave people stepping forward of having a liberal political agenda – that is absolute bullshit.  Just because you have never experienced sexual harassment and/or assault does not mean it doesn’t happen.  This is something that happens on a daily basis around the world to all genders, and people of every color, creed, nationality, sexuality, etc.  I am well aware that there are other atrocities also taking place daily around the world, but that does not mean this issue should be trivialized.  Also, quit playing the blame game by saying accusers should have stepped forward immediately rather than waiting – there are many reasons why those who experience harassment and/or assault do not come forward straight away; one of the main reasons is because often the perpetrator is a person in power over the victim and the victim can’t just come forward.  Never mind the fact that the accuser is often treated as someone who is being ‘opportunistic’ or as someone who wants to intentionally harm the perpetrator.  This type of thinking is another reason why people do not come forward – that they won’t be taken seriously, in the case of harassment, it’s my words against yours, and guess who is typically going to win that argument?  Of course, the person in power; and if that person has enough money, they will use it to bribe the accuser to keep quiet or hire good lawyers who will help sweep it under the rug.  The reason you see what is currently going on – in this case, women in Hollywood – all of a sudden stepping out at once is because there is strength in numbers.  Once people start speaking up, it helps others who have had the same experiences have the strength and courage to say something.

As for me – I already went into as much detail as I will go into about my assaults (see above link), so I will discuss harassment here.  Roughly ten years ago, I held a job in an office ran by all men, with the exception of one woman.  We had four male bosses who ran what we all referred to as the old boys’ club because they were always working to cover for each other, and played a power game over the employees.  It is also worth noting that of the approximately 50 employees in this office who reported to these men, almost all were female who had similar physical characteristics (that the bosses deemed attractive).  The sexual harassment (and gestures from one in particular) from our supervisors was atrocious, and it went unchecked because they used fear to keep the staff quiet.  The very small handful of male employees also participated in this harassment.  I worked in this office/environment for three years and endured this because I was in a situation where my family depended on my income and there were few options for employment in the town we lived in.  At one point, it got to be too much and I even spoke with quite a few of the ladies in the office about us all going together to report what was going on, and they did not want to because they feared being blacklisted by the employer.  One woman even went so far as to say we needed to be very careful about accusations that could damage the men’s careers.  What the hell??  Why is it people continue to think about how the outcome will affect the perpetrator??  This is part of the reason this issue continues…this, plus creating fear is why this becomes a vicious cycle.  I asked this one woman in particular why she was so concerned about the men, even when she acknowledged that the behavior was unacceptable, and she replied that she just ignores the comments and gestures, and brushed it off as ‘boys being boys’.  The truth is, this type of thinking is beyond inexcusable and is a major factor in why this type of behavior has gone unchecked for so long.  Sexual misconduct often causes long lasting psychological scars in those on the receiving end.  Many people find themselves needing regular therapy and even prescriptions to be able to function from day to day.  Sadly, some turn to substances to help them escape the constant reminder of what happened to them.  There is also a sense of shame and guilt that is extremely difficult to grapple with, and many struggle with that for a very long time.  As I look back, I realize that it was during the time I worked in that office that my drinking started spiraling out of control, and I sank into a very deep depression.  Thankfully, with a lot of work, I am sober today and moving on, but nothing will erase these memories from my past.  So, to those disbelievers and others passing judgement, I hope you never have to experience or endure sexual harassment and/or assault, and I hope the same to those you love.  Please show some compassion to those who have come forward, and bravely shared their story, they have already been through enough, don’t add more negativity to it.

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Sharing my thoughts on an addict’s story published on NPR

Article:  Longtime Heroin Addict Fights for Recovery

As someone who has struggled with various addictions throughout my life, the worst being alcohol, reading this story about Andrea Towson touched me and hit home.  I was never addicted to heroin, but I feel that many of my days while active in my disease mirrored hers… get up, start drinking, make sure I have enough to get through the day and into the next, plan on how I was going to get more, then continue drinking until finally passing out.  Every day was the same.  And it was a nightmare.  I also had more than one near death experience, but still continued to drink for some time before finally ‘waking up’ to the idea that I needed help.  On July 13th, 2017, I gratefully celebrated five years of sobriety.  It also happened that an AA event that my spouse and I attend every year was a week early this year and fell on the same weekend of my sobriety birthday.  My favorite part of the event is the countdown.  Now mind you, upwards of 1000 people attend this event every year, and what is staggering about this number is that we live in a small community.  During the countdown, the person at the podium starts by finding out who has the longest sobriety – it’s usually someone with 45-50 years.  Then we countdown one year at a time, and those who have that period of sobriety stand up to be recognized while everyone claps and cheers for them.  Once the countdown gets to one year, then we continue by month, and once we hit one month, we countdown by day.  There is always someone who has only one day of sobriety.  That person walks to the front along with the person who has the most time, they hug, and the person with the most time under their belt gives the person who has the least time a copy of the ‘big book’ and words of encouragement.  I always tear up during the countdown, especially when I see those who have only days or weeks stand up.  I remember that time so clearly and how hard it was and wondering how anyone could make it a whole year, or even longer.  As time has gone by, I have grown and gotten stronger and no longer wonder how, as I am living it day by day.

Sadly, there are many who will never experience sobriety because their lives will be taken too soon as a result of their addiction.  It is unfortunate too that rehab is very costly, and often there are no available beds, leaving those who want and seek treatment out on their own.  Addiction is very complex; there are many factors in play as to why someone becomes addicted.  Too often people who have never been there do not understand this, all they want to do is point a finger and place the blame.  And unfortunately, the U.S. currently has an administration who largely does not understand addiction and they are going about fighting the current epidemic all wrong.  Most of the people who are out there still struggling are good people; many have the qualities our society deems as good, but we can’t see these qualities because they are masked by drugs and/or alcohol.  Many would be very shocked and surprised as to how many people who currently hold, or at one time held, positions of power and prestige also have a past that includes addiction.  The point is, addicts are worth saving, and building walls and returning to a 1980s-style ‘war on drugs’ absolutely will not stop the problem so many are facing.  Instead, educating people and the public, creating safe places for addicts to go to, and providing support and programs is what will help.  Congrats to Ms. Towson for finding sobriety and reaching out to others, I wish her the best!

My Hopes for my Daughter

Though she is just an infant, like most parents, I have hopes and dreams for my daughter.  While I am trying my best to make a good life for her and to expose her to culture, diversity, and the arts, I hope to help her reach her full potential and revel in the simple things.  I want the best for her and for her life to be full and happy.  I want her childhood to be magical, not filled with constant fear.  I want her to feel free to express herself and most importantly, to be herself.  I want her to not be afraid letting the world know who she is in love with, no matter their gender, color, or ethnicity.  I want her to have choices when it comes to her health and well-being.  I want her to know it’s ok if she is unsure about her gender.  I want her to grow up respecting the planet and the plants, animals, and people living on it.  I want her to know we are all one in the same and to not let hate fester in her heart.  I want her to have the freedom to follow her personal spiritual journey and to not feel coerced into a specific belief.  I want her to be strong and independent, and to stand up for what she believes in.

As a side note – I know where I personally stand on political, social, and religious issues, and my intent is not to shove my beliefs down someone else’s throat.  The U.S. is a free country, and with that, we have the freedom to have our own thoughts and feelings, ideas and choices.  However, I do find it deeply disturbing what is going on all over the world today.  I can’t sit back and pretend I am not bothered by reports of animal abuse, hate crimes and hate speech, different groups of people living in fear, being marginalized, profiled, and shunned because of their color, ethnicity, or identity, and people passing judgement because someone goes against what they deem as ‘normal’ and/or ‘right.’  At the end of the day, we all share this planet.  At the beginning of every day, we have an opportunity – an opportunity to do good, to care about others and not just ourselves, to learn and become educated about topics that make us uncomfortable, to remember history and work to not allow it to repeat itself, to realize we don’t know the struggles someone else is facing, and to simply be nice to one another.

~LadyDom13