Tag Archives: trauma

Affirmation Cards

In a few of my previous posts I’ve talked briefly about affirmation card and the many benefits. I’m really happy that I started making and using them a few years ago after a friend of mine suggested them. They were key in me healing and becoming able to say I love and respect myself. Affirmation cards can be about anything negative in your life that you are trying to change into a positive. They can be for addiction, depression, anxiety, anger, eating disorders and so much more. You can tailor them to tie into your spiritual or religious beliefs or leave that out if you are not spiritual/religious. 

One thing I tell everyone is, give them time and use them once a day while looking at yourself in a mirror. It can be scary at first, embarrassing or a little painful. I remember when I first started them I wanted to throw up saying such nice things about myself, but after a week I started to look forward to doing it. Now I completely believe the ones I have worked on. “I am beautiful”, “I don’t need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy”, and “I deserve happiness” are three of the cards I have used, and still use the most. 

I decided to start making affirmation cards and dress them up with flower embellishments and brads. I have an Etsy shop and try to tailor the art I sell from my shop towards healing and recovery. I finally have some up! If you’d like to take a look you can find my shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ValkyrieAesthetics

Have you ever used affirmation cards? If so, what are some of your favorites? If not, would you like to try them? Thank you for reading!!!!

Breaking the silence.

The first account of abuse I can remember today was at age four. I was an innocent, happy, loving and gentle four year old that was in love with being alive. I was abused physically, emotionally, and sexually. No one deserves abuse, especially a child. As I grew up, I was victimized again and again and again. Every single time the perpetrator was someone I knew, usually a family member or friend. Having more than one abuser strengthened the lie I was told that I was bad, dirty and deserved what was happening to me. I began to believe that I was born to suffer and be beat and broken. I made friends with people who took advantage of me, I stayed around family members who hurt me and I picked lovers who tortured me. For a long time I have kept secrets…secrets of my abusers. Why did I do this? Because I was afraid to die. I was afraid that one, several or all of my abusers would track me down and kill me. If you need a second reason…it was also because I was afraid of what this harsh world often thinks of victims. That they must have deserved what happened to them.

I was told that they loved me. I was told that they cared, and this was how people who loved each other proved it. I was told that I was bad. I was told I was a slut. I was told that I was a piece of trash. I was told no one would believe me. I was told if I struggled I would be killed…or my family would be. I was told that a husband could not rape his wife. I was told many sick lies. Do you see what I just said? LIES. I was told LIES. abusers lie to their victims to induce deep and paralyzing fear. They do this to ensure you will keep THEIR nasty secret. You are innocent, you are clean and beautiful and worthy and do not deserve to be harmed. The brainwashing sets in fast, but you can reverse it.

Today was one of the most difficult days of my life. I wanted to write this short entry to tell you that. Today I struggled bad. Today I drove myself to a city where many horrible things were done to me that changed me forever. I went to the police station and it just so happened to be across the street from one of the locations of the abuse. It was hard…no it was VERY hard. I took a deep breath in the car and I looked at myself in the mirror of my visor and said out loud: I am doing the right thing. I walked in and I retold the abuse that spanned many months to a police officer. She took my statement and she comforted me. I was blown away by how well she was trained for this. She knew that I would second guess myself, that I would become fearful and sick. She knew that I would hear the lies in my head and want to dart for the door. She reassured me and helped reorient me. I am very thankful for the people behind the scenes in this process…you know who you are (if you ever read this) and I am very thankful for the friends who support me when I’m strong, and more importantly support me when I am struggling to hold on. I always say…there is nothing wrong with having help. When a storm comes the captain needs more men to help on the ship. Get the help you need, keep your eye on the goal and hold fast.

I know that coming forward and breaking the silence is extremely painful and scary. The thought of it even can induce pain and panic. I strongly believe this is one of the hardest things a human being can go through…but it is possible and in most cases it helps a lot. I can tell you that I feel great relief and confidence already. I am still scared, but I am no longer ruled by my fear. It took me 26 years to get here, so be gentle with yourself. This takes time. I still have many many many more miles to go. I just want you to know there is hope, help and healing. You don’t have to live in the darkness anymore, afraid to live your life. It is them that should live in fear, not you. You aren’t alone, I am with you! I love all of you.

Your friend, Dandi

The victim-blaming pandemic.

The victim-blaming pandemic.

“She must like the abuse”

“She was asking for it dressed like that”

“Why didn’t you just leave?”

“Why didn’t you fight back?”

“Maybe if you hadn’t drank so much, he wouldn’t have raped you.”

 

REALLY? I mean…really people? These are just a few of common victim-blaming statements I have either heard personally or seen online, on people’s Facebook accounts, etc. This behavior is insane! It has come to my full attention that victim-blaming is not just a social media or occasional problem. This is a deadly pandemic.

Blaming victims instead of their abusers does a significant amount of harm in many ways. In my personal experience, after hearing “why didn’t you just leave” and “why didn’t you fight back” I withdrew into myself, became more depressed than I already was, blamed myself further and eventually attempted suicide. I attempted to take my own life…that is how much power their words held. (And I am not alone, millions of people go through this every day). The victim-blaming that was put on me also caused me to not pursue justice against the men who did unspeakable things to me against my will. Obviously, years later, I have found the strength to change my mind, but the sad truth is waiting even a few weeks after destroys evidence and chances of conviction. Sometimes it’s not possible to prosecute your attacker, please know I am not getting down on anyone who hasn’t, but if at all possible, please try. At least try. I wish that I had of immediately. Placing the blame on the victims also empowers all perpetrators to continue hurting others, but also to further “justify” their actions. People who rape, beat and abuse others tend to have severe mental health issues such as narcissistic personality disorder (just to name one). Although I am not a psychiatrist, I have experienced people like this throughout my life. These people truly believe they can do no wrong. It is so dangerous for victim-blaming behavior to strengthen their belief that what they did is not wrong.

 

Here is a link to several public service announcements that were eventually discontinued due to their victim-blaming nature. Several of them implied that women wouldn’t be raped if they would just drink sensibly.

http://www.businessinsider.com/anti-rape-psas-that-blame-the-victim-2013-3#

 

Good sources for more on why victim-blaming is a pandemic that needs to be stopped NOW:

http://www.decision-making-confidence.com/victim-blaming.html

http://www.care2.com/causes/5-instances-of-victim-blaming-that-will-make-you-want-to-scream.html

 

                I absolutely recommend that everyone read this brave woman’s story. I stumbled upon her story here: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/02/im-a-victim-blamer-but-only-when-the-victim-was-me/

Please know that it can be triggering, but her story (like many others) helps me to not feel alone, and to be reminded again that nothing that happened to me was my fault and I have every right to have justice and closure and to move the hell on with my life. Her story also brings up another great point that I didn’t even touch upon. Gender does not matter here and neither does sexual orientation. Perpetrators come in all genders, sexual orientations, colors, sizes, occupations, religions, everything. I don’t give a shit if you are white, black, Asian, southern Baptist, catholic, atheist, male, female, straight, pansexual or whatever…you have no right to touch me, make lewd comments to me, kiss me, or anything else without my consent. Your religion or lack thereof does not justify your actions. Nothing does. It is wrong, PERIOD.

 

There is a large portion of the world’s population (America is no exception) that need to realize how poisonous, hateful and ignorant their views on victims are. Victims of violence no matter if it’s sexual, verbal, psychological or physical do not volunteer or deserve their abuse. Victims of violence also do not deserve to be blamed by the public and made out to be sluts. Comments like “why didn’t you just leave?”, “why didn’t you fight back?” and my personal favorite: “your outfit invited it” are pure asinine and hateful. No one can truly understand why someone didn’t “just leave” or “fight back” until they are placed in a situation people like I have survived. One very common reason people like me didn’t “just leave” or “fight back” was straight up fear. Until you know what it is like to be threatened with death, torture or the death of loved ones if you leave or fight back…you have no opinion. I like many others was a victim NOT A VOLUNTEER of severe, brutal, cold-blooded torture and abuse that damaged me in ways that will never be reversible. Yes, I was a victim. My past is NOT my fault, nor will it ever be. But the beauty is…my present and my future are mine and I will not let anyone take it from me. Now that I am on my journey of healing I have taken responsibility of my future and it will be a great one. Please, I urge everyone reading this to take inventory of themselves especially if you have ever found yourself blaming the victim and not the perpetrator…please see how cruel, hurtful and wrong these views are…and most importantly, see that these beliefs (especially when made public) allow the abuse, assault and violence to not only continue…but to thrive.

 

You will not steal my future and a special shout out to victim-blamers

**Before I write this post I just want to remind all of my readers that the content can be highly triggering, especially if you’ve been a victim of SA in the past, please be sure you are grounded before you read. I don’t want anything written to hurt, only to heal**

As survivors of trauma and multiple trauma we often live in fear, even when we do everything we can to break free of it. For the most part, I don’t live in fear anymore, however, that doesn’t mean that I am no longer hyper vigilant, stressed out, anxious and still very often brought to my knees by a panic attack. Yes I have been making great strides, but even yesterday I had a full blown panic attack in a Meijer supermarket and had to rush home. I still make sure that I have something in hand while in parking lots or walking up to my door in case someone were to attack me. I still suffer from vivid and horrific nightmares that have me drenched in sweat when I wake. I still have days where it is very difficult to shake the fear that it’s not over. Despite all of that, I am happy, I am hopeful and I am now pursuing justice.

I have many abusers and for a long time this made me very ashamed. It also made me feel that there was something terribly wrong with me and that I must have deserved each and every trauma. This is wrong. It is never the victim’s fault that they were hurt. I don’t care what anyone says, it doesn’t matter what the person was wearing, what time it was, where they were…none of that matters. Someone decided to do something horrible, to take something from me that they had no business taking. Just because a bakery puts their pastries and cakes in the window of their shop doesn’t mean someone has a right to smash in the window and take what they see. It may sound like a stupid analogy, but there are many people around the world who believe if a woman or man dresses provocatively they deserve to be sexually assaulted. Maybe this simple analogy will get to their simple minds. The victim did not ask to be hurt, the perpetrator is the one at fault and should be harshly punished.

I was first sexually assaulted at four years old. My childhood was ripped from me before I even had a chance to have one. Many years and details of my past are gone because they were traumatic and another one of my personalities took the abuse for me so that we, as a whole, could survive. My past was Hell and was robbed from me. I want to take a moment to again, point out to the victim-blamers out there that victims did not volunteer for their abuse, they did not ask for it, they did not invite it. In no way did the four year old little girl I was ask or deserve the horrific things that happened to me. As a young adult, the many times I was touched, kissed, groped, raped, sodomized and beaten in no way did I volunteer or ask for it. I am so angry, no, rageful when I hear people say that a victim asked for it because of what they were wearing or where they were or the infamous “why didn’t you just leave”? You cannot understand until you have been there.

My present is very complicated. Monetarily I struggle, I struggle with my appeal to the Veterans Administration for an increase in the disability for PTSD. I am anxious every day, some days I cope with it using meditation, playing with my children, deep breathing, writing and art. Other days it is impossible for me to find relief without medication. I am currently pursuing justice pertaining to four of my abusers. This has been a giant trigger and it has been responsible for my sudden increase in fear of leaving the house. In the past few years I have made great progress in getting myself out of the house, but currently I am usually choosing to stay indoors where I feel safe. I will get back to where I was, but for now I need to be gentle and patient with myself. This is a very difficult and scary time, but it is not the end. My present is also exciting. Despite the anxiety and stress of money, job, school stuff, I have two wonderful children I love more than anything and I get the privilege of taking care of them, loving them and watching them grow. I also know that with hard work I will be successful with my art.

My future…all I can say is, it is mine. No one else’s. I have lived in the dark, in the deepest pits of Hell one could experience due to fear. It is time that I get out and live a fear-free, healthy, happy life. I think it’s about damn time my abusers are the ones who have to live in fear. I will no longer stay quiet. I am taking responsibility of my present and future.

Whatever horrible things happened to you in your past, they were not your fault and they are not your fault now. You are not responsible for your past, the people who harmed you and failed to protect you…that is on them. You were a victim. But now in your present, looking forward to your future…please know that those are your responsibility. This is the key to making the transformation from victim to survivor. Take control of your life now, heal, stand up for yourself and refuse to let anyone else run your life any longer. Have an addiction due to the horrors of your past? Tell addiction to go fuck itself and allow yourself treatment (I apologize to anyone offended by my foul language at times, sometimes I feel strong language has its place). I have a particularly strong loathing for addiction. Please love and respect yourself enough to take your life back and live it! I promise you…life as a survivor is MUCH better than life as a victim.

Just as a reminder, RAINN is an amazing organization who is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can reach them at: http://www.rainn.org/ or call them at: 1-800-656-4673. Everything is confidential.

Please seriously consider prosecuting your abusers. I know this is a tall order I am asking of you…I know it’s terrifying. I am in it actively right this very moment as I type these words. But please know that it will set you free, and it will ensure those sick people will never harm you or another person ever again. You are not alone in this fight! Even if you don’t have family or friends to support you, please know that I care and I will support you.

As always, I am proud of you, I congratulate you on another day, and I love you. Every day we are one step closer to where we want to be. Let’s do this together.

Your battle-buddy, Dandi.Image

Whether you know me or not, rape is rape.

Whether you know me or not….rape is rape

Hello again everyone. Before I start on today’s post I want to apologize for the time I have spent away from writing. As I touched on very briefly in my previous post, my life has been very full lately and because of it I needed to focus extra hard on my own self-care. Now that things are a little less hectic, I have time to write. This post, is one on something I have been needing to start talking about and just didn’t know when the right time was. Well, now is the perfect time. **PLEASE know that this post has a high potential to be extremely triggering, so please make sure to ground yourself before reading**

Painful and traumatic experiences are not meant to happen nor are they meant to stay inside of the person it happened to. I am a firm believer that until you can find the strength to start pulling those experiences out of you, making the transition from victim to survivor is only a hope in your soul. You must endure the pain and fear of getting them out, but once you do it gets easier and the healing begins. Healing is what brings strength, hope and wonderful things. Please don’t get me wrong, I can relate on a deep level…this part of recovery is the hardest, but it is worth it.

When I was 21 I was very lost, probably the most lost I have ever been in my life. I had gotten clean from drugs and alcohol about six months prior but was still very much brainwashed by my addiction, living as a drunk and acting as if I were still using. I was deeply depressed, anxious, angry and instead of confronting the demons tearing my soul apart, I blamed everyone around me. I blamed my biological father for physically and emotionally beating me as a child,  never being there for me or loving me, I blamed my friends for not saving me, I even blamed my mother despite the fact she was the only human being who was gentle and loving towards me and never stopped believing I could be well. I am sure at this point in my life, being around me was a living Hell.

During all of this I had been dating someone I had met while I was in the Marines. He was a Marine too, and had been one of my combat instructors during MCT (Marine Combat Training). When I was medically retired from the Marine Corps after being raped by another Marine and left emotionally and psychologically destroyed, this man seemed to come in and sweep me off my feet. Never in my life had I ever met someone so able to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and not tip others off to his true nature. He had me so fooled. I was damaged by what happened to me in the Marines and instead of protecting myself several of my alters, who until recently were terrified to be alone and equated it with dying were very much in control. The thought of being alone terrified me and all of my alters, we felt as if the entire world had abandoned us and we were willing to latch onto anyone who showed us affection so that we wouldn’t disappear into madness.

This man had been told by his command to stay away from me, that he had already broken military law by having a friendship with me while I was still active duty and they would not tolerate him pushing himself further into my life after I got out. He did not listen to them, even after they shipped him off to Japan for a year. He sent me a cell phone; he sent me cards telling me how much he cared for me…even loved me and wanted my life to be perfect and safe. At the time, that sounded amazing…someone cared, someone wanted to protect me! Of course, me being as damaged as I was at the time, I couldn’t see how false his promises were and how potentially deadly his lies were. I stayed in touch with him, I agreed to date him and I stayed with him even during the frequent obsessive phone calls that consisted of him threatening me, belittling me and telling me no one else cared. He would tell me that only he could truly love me and protect me, that my mom despised me and only wanted to hurt me. His screaming and cruel conversations hurt me, but I believed his lies and stayed with him.

After a year in Japan he came to Michigan and told me we were going to Texas where his family was to be married, and then we would move to Virginia (his next duty station). He swore to me that we would be happy, that he would take care of me…that he would save me from all of my demons. There were two problems with this that I could not see at the time. One, he was lying and two, no one can save you…you have to save you. I ended up marrying him down in Texas and I knew right before the wedding that I was making a huge mistake, but I didn’t know how to get out. I was over a thousand miles away from home or any relative I was aware of and surrounded by his family who seemed to think scaring me with religion would make me be a submissive and perfect wife for him. And many people wonder why I have a problem with Christians who are fanatical. Please understand I am not discriminating, I believe all religions have people like this and as wrong as it is, there is nothing I can do about it.

After we were married we spent a few days in Texas with his family and then made our way to Virginia Beach, VA. Little did I know, Virginia was going to be the location of many horrible and some amazing experiences. Only a few weeks into our marriage I was not only miserable, but I was worse than I was in Michigan. He had me trapped like a beaten animal, controlled every move of mine and made me hate myself to my very core. He reminded me all the time how I was fat and I seriously needed to lose weight. (I had always been underweight, but in the past year from being on fourteen psychiatric medications and one for my thyroid I had gained a lot of weight). He would cook for me, which made our new neighbors believe he loved me and doted on me, but he would give himself a normal plate of food and mine was very limited. If I asked for more or was caught getting into other foods I regretted it. He would yell at me, call me names and make me feel like a disgusting pig because I was still hungry. I would cry and that would only piss him off more.

As if the food debacle wasn’t enough he would force me to look at porn with him, something he knew (and actually, everyone who knew anything about me) upset me greatly. He would pull up pictures of these trashy women known in the porn world and point out to me what was so beautiful about her and how I needed to change so I would be like her. I was furious, scared, depressed and above all humiliated. He drove my car everywhere and forbid me to go anywhere without him. If I wanted or needed to go somewhere he was my chaperon. I was so scared to leave the apartment that walking down the street to the gas station sent me straight into a full blown panic attack. He had basically ripped the wings from my back, bound and then burned them, all the while making me watch. I started cutting myself again and taking more of my medication just so I could numb some of the pain he was making me feel.

I was hospitalized again; despite his attempts at telling me I didn’t need therapy, a suicide attempt landed me in the hospital. The nurses, doctor and counselors all seemed to know something wasn’t right in my home situation, that my “loving” husband wasn’t who he tried to convince everyone he was, but no one could convince me to tell the truth. Now things were scarier…I was very far from home and no friends or relatives where around for me to run to, I was completely trapped.

When I got out of the hospital the medication continued, the physical and emotional abuse continued, I begged to go to therapy and finally got him to cave. He would attend all of my sessions and every time I would try to talk about how I felt he would interrupt me and tell the therapist how he felt instead. I got absolutely nothing out of those sessions. Things continued to get worse. He would want to have sex and I wouldn’t. He made me feel sick about myself and frankly, I thought he was the most repulsive thing I had ever encountered in my life. I couldn’t stand being in the same apartment as him, why would I want to have sex with him? Intercourse was already a very difficult thing for me. Most of my alters and I were very uncomfortable with sex or even sexual language. It all made us think of the rape in the military. We needed someone loving, gentle and patient who understood that we had been through a lot and could someday enjoy sex, but that it would take time and care. He did not care that we had been raped and abused since a young age nor did he want to take his time being sexual with us…it was whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.

He got sick of me resisting, sick and tired of my “excuses”. He started coming home from work on his lunch breaks, pull my pants off of me, have sex with me and then leave. He literally would be there at the house for ten minutes or less. Just to fuck me and then leave. I never said no, I never fought him. I knew better. I just let him do it to me and once he left I would clean myself up, cry and then either sleep or hurt myself. I was so angry at him for what he was doing to me, but I was also angry at myself for letting it happen. It was a sickening feeling. Back then I didn’t realize that he was raping me. He was my husband….so didn’t that mean that any sex between us was consensual? The answer is a big fucking no. It doesn’t matter if the person stealing sexual contact with you is a stranger, a family member, a friend or a significant other. Rape is rape. He knew I didn’t want to have sex, he knew I could hardly stand to kiss him, but he didn’t care. All he cared about was pleasuring himself.

I started staying at a friend’s house whom I had met in the hospital. My stays became more frequent and longer. Finally I found the courage to stay with my friend and her family and tell him that I wasn’t coming back. I was having a lot of problems with kidney stones again and my friend took me to the hospital one night when I was having abdominal pain. The nurse came in while I was drinking the contrast for the CT scan they were about to do and told me to stop drinking the contrast. She informed me that I was pregnant. I was so horrified and yet happy in those next few days. I had always wanted children of my own, who I could love and protect…but I did not want his baby.

I continued to stay with my friend and her family and tried to stay as calm as possible so that my baby would be safe, but my husband, his friends and family blew my phone up daily telling me I was a tramp and a horrible mother to keep his baby from him. The guilt got to me and I went back to him. It wasn’t long before his anger got so out of control that he pushed me hard into a wall and threw my phone that I had been using to call friends for help. The police arrived and asked me if I wanted to press charges, but I was too scared. I left with my friends. That night they took me to the emergency room because I had started bleeding. A week passed and the baby was okay, the bleeding had stopped and yet again out of fear and guilt I went back.

Only a few days after I was back I woke up in horrible, agonizing pain that I can only attribute to a kidney stone passing during childbirth. I was bleeding heavily and I knew that I was miscarrying my baby. My heart was breaking and my body was weak and still all he could say to me was: I have to go to work, drive yourself. So I did. I drove myself 9.9 miles (which was 20 minutes) to the emergency room. By the time I got there my entire car seat and my pants were soaked with blood. I remember getting to the waiting room and then I don’t remember anything until I was in a bed in the ER being asked what my blood type was.

Eventually after all of this, I got away from him, stood up to him and got a divorce. After everything he put me through, the torture, the loss of my baby, the thousands of dollars he took….I am stronger, wiser and sure as Hell never going to let another person take advantage of me or anyone I love. Please know that no matter what the circumstances are no one has a right to hurt you. No one has a right to put their hands on you to hurt you, to say cruel words or make you feel that the world is better off with you dead. You deserve YOUR life. Stand up for it!