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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Logo Contest

It's time for a new, original Zen Parenting logo. And, seeing as how I have absolutely no artistic or creative ability, it's time for YOU to create said new, original Zen Parenting logo.

Here's the deal:

- submit your logo to ZenParenting1@yahoo.com along with the subject line "New Logo Contest"
- DEADLINE EXTENDED: December 16th, midnight MST
- you may enter as many submissions as you'd like
- the Zen Parenting/Zen Dads admins will choose the top 8 and put the masses to vote upon
- the winning artist will see their logo used on all things Zen Parenting as well as a copy of Dr. Sears' The Portable Pediatrician and a custom tie-dye item of his or her choice


- I'm drawn to clean and simple
- I like an Asian feel
- I prefer something that just has "Zen" in it, rather than Zen Parenting, so it fits with all our pages
- I'm looking for something that stands out and is easily read in a newsfeed

So, there you have it. Have fun!

Ready, set, go!

Now I'm Just Flat Pissed

I have three accounts with which to manage my Facebook page. I do this, because I've learned my lesson (well, rather, I've learned how to skate around my "lessons"). My primary account is currently on its second 30 day block issued in a 40 day span of time, my secondary account is now on a 3 day block, and my tertiary account is on its first 1 day block. What did I do this time? Good question. Nothing. I shared this article from I Am Not the Babysitter.

Now, it wasn't removed from her page, which is how I was able to get the link still, so it wasn't a guilty-by-association thing. No, this was reported and removed from my page specifically. And I'm pissed about it. I have precious little Zen left about this b.s. I know that in all likelihood, it's none of the people on the page. I also know, though, that there are those "fans" who disapprove (loudly and often) of much of what I post and I just can't figure out why they stick around and report what offends their delicate sensibilities rather than just click "unlike" and be gone.

There are many who have been telling me for a long time now that I'm being targeted. I have such a hard time believing this, because I'm just not good at being a victim nor do I buy into conspiracy theories. However, I'm now having a hard time believing it's not true. Scads of pages shared Jamie's post. None of them got dinged.

I cannot even recall all the stupid reasons for which I've been grounded by Facebook. Breastfeeding photos, a foreskin article, a birth article, a video about hand expression, and now this - all have resulted in punitive action against me. There is more, I know, but these are the ones that come to mind as I write with one hand while the other strokes the hair of the boy attached to my boob. (Yes, there is still good in the world.)

And before anyone offers something irritating like, "Maybe you could stop posting such controversial things," let me just stop you right there and say firmly, "No." I'm not on the page to preach to the choir. I'm here to educate the uneducated, enlighten the unenlightened, to dislodge heads buried in the sand, even those heads that are deeply, firmly, and long-buried. There are going to be struggles along the way. That is to be expected. I don't like it, but it's what I signed up for. The fact that I'm pissing so many people off so often tells me I'm doing my job and doing it well. If I post nothing but fluff pieces out of fear, I'm not changing anything. People don't like change. It's scary and maddening. I won't stop doing my job to make things more comfortable for those who live in fear of that change. I won't. I have my back-up page, my primary account is no longer an admin on the page, I've got myself squared away and I'm in position to continue fighting the good fight until there is no more fight to be had. Bullies be damned. I'm not here for them. I'm here for the babes. (And now I'll end, so I can get back to the most important of babes to me - mine.)

See you on the flip side!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Favorite Things

Snuggles in blankies and cuddles while sittin'
Gazes while nursing they make me feel smitten
Trips to the park where we play on the swings
These are a few of my favorite things

Crayons and markers and stickers and doodles
Learning to say "nunus" instead of noodles
Toddler that dances around while he sings
These are a few of my favorite things

Oreo faces and ice cream mustaches
Kisses that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Testing the "floor food" that to me he brings
These are a few of my favorite things

When the poop flies
When the puke spews
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Teaching and learning 'bout gently not hittin'
Kissing his owies when crawlies have bitten
Getting creative when tantrums he flings
These are a few of my favorite things

Finding new places to have love canoodles
Watch him discover new cool things like poodles
Husband that never knows words when he sings
These are a few of my favorite things

Learning new ways to resolve marriage clashes
Being impervious to peoples' bashes
Making sure nobody's penis has dings
These are a few of my favorite things

When the snot drips
When the pee streams
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Friday, October 26, 2012

No, I Am NOT Master of My Domain...I Don't Even Want to Be!

Masturbation. There, I said it. It's out there. Now, let's talk about it freely, openly, honestly, and like we're not freaks for saying it, knowing about it, and doing it - because we ALL do.

It has always bugged the heck out of me that masturbation is a socially accepted norm for males, but still taboo for females. I'm on a one-woman mission to bring the joys and benefits of masturbation out into the great, wide open. Here's why: our kids do it, too, and I have a real problem with people having real problem with that.

Babies masturbate. Even in ultrasounds, babies can be seen touching their genitals. Toddlers masturbate. Preschoolers masturbate. Kids masturbate. This goes for boys and girls. Masturbation is not exclusive to junior high school boys with their mom's Victoria's Secret catalog. Masturbation is not exclusive to bachelor men with too much time on their hands. I was a masturbating machine. And good for me! (I say was, because I have a child attached to my body a pretty fair chunk of the time now and that leaves precious little alone time for such enjoyment. The fun shall return with time, however.)

Masturbation is normal, natural, and healthy. Men who ejaculate frequently are less prone to prostate cancer. Women who orgasm frequently are more prone to, well, does it even matter? I mean, orgasms just feel good and they're their own benefit!

The littlest ones are not touching themselves to experience climax. It just feels good. Besides, they spend so much of their time disconnected from their genitals (while in a diaper), so when they break free for a moment, they want to explore and discover their bodies. Far too often, when those little hands start exploring those little parts, parents fend them off and keep them from doing so. Mothers, in particular, are apt to find masturbation in their children, especially their girls, embarrassing and uncomfortable. This is a cycle of shame. Girls are told they should be little ladies. The glory that is masturbation is kept from them. Nobody speaks about it to them or with them. They grow up thinking they're the only ones who do it and feeling ashamed of that - ashamed of their bodies. They go on to either continue feeling that shame or fighting that shame, though, in some part many never get past it. It then passes on to their kids, especially their girls. Someone has to break the cycle. I am that someone. So are you.

When I was little (5-6 years old), I remember going to bed every night and touching myself. I wasn't doing it for pleasure purposes. I had yet to discover my clitoris to any real extent. I was just checking stuff out. I was feeling the folds and the different textures of my labia. Every night, my dad would come tuck me in. He would smell my hands to see if I had been touching myself and scold me for doing so. It didn't stop me, but it sure made me feel like a vile, horrible human being. And I felt ashamed.

When I was a teenager, I was caught masturbating with a back massager. Privacy and boundaries were no-nos in our home, so my parents walked in and out of my room, even if the door was shut, freely and with complete entitlement. I was never talked with, never told that what I was doing was OK. Instead, while I was at school the next day, they found and threw away that tool in the outside garbage can, even going to the extreme of making sure it was hidden under other trash in the receptacle. It didn't stop me, but it sure made me feel like a vile, horrible human being. And I felt ashamed.

As an adult with my first few sexual partners, I had no idea that mutual masturbation was not only OK, but GOOD and FUN and seen as a plus. I hid the fact that I masturbated. And I hid the fact that I was intimately familiar with my body, that I knew what felt good to me. As a result, I was probably not as active a partner as I could've been in those very early years of sexual activity.

Luckily, I'm a fast learner. Masturbation is fantastic! Masturbation is most certainly not shameful in any way for anybody. Masturbation is fun for kids of all ages, you know, like Monopoly, but not.

The bottom line is this: masturbation is normal and natural. And your kids won't know otherwise unless YOU teach them otherwise. Don't. Just don't. You get the choice whether to perpetuate or break the cycle. Choose to break it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

“It has been high all along…” - Birth from a Zen Dad's Perspective

Guest Post by Zen Dad Raphael Costa

I can clearly remember the long chats I had with my wife regarding the birth of our daughter. We gave her a name, we pictured her face… Yes, all of that 2 years before we actually had our girl! It was such a thoughtful event, full of details and joy mixed with perfection.

In April 2010 we got married, a very pleasant experience and the whole idea that now we are a family ready to expand was phenomenal. It didn’t take long actually, and on the 16th of March 2011 we had our sweet little girl, Hannah - and that’s exactly what I want to share with you.

I’m a Brazilian born and bred in Rio de Janeiro, and my wife (Lisa) is South African. I know that might not mean much, but it’s just to make a point that we both came from a background that is very family oriented. So, family is a BIG thing for us – even before we met each other! With that in mind, everything related to our new family was really thought upon and planned with every single possible detail. And of course, the birth of our daughter wasn’t any different.

My wife, Lisa, was very specific about the way she would like to birth our angel. So we had our birth plan lined out : Water Birth, Non Medicated labor and in case of emergency C-section, we would like to have a skin-to-skin delivery process. Of course, in order to make sure we didn’t get to the “emergency” piece of the plan, we got the most ‘pro natural’ doctor we could find. Although 300% beyond the cost our Medical Aid could cover, we did it because we wanted the best possible scenario to make sure our plan would come to pass (we live in a country that has a very high csection rate, in fact at the time Hannah was born we didn’t know one person who had a normal birth).

What an exciting moment!

Yes, we are pregnant… Let’s test it again! Yes, we are pregnant! Awesome! Let’s celebrate.

For a dad, there’s no better thing to hear than you have one of your own on the way! It’s just amazing. As the Greek culture says, a man is not a man without a child. Even though it’s radical, I can fully agree with it. There’s just so much that goes on with the news of being a father that your whole life changes around.
We were getting ready! We started our pre-natal class at the best pro natural school we could find. For a couple of months, every week we would sit in a class full of moms and dads that were sharing the same dream and the same expectation: Normal Birth and NO CESAREAN!

We’ve learned about the statistics of “Emergency C-Sections” in South Africa and how RIDICULOUS they are. But somehow, we felt comfortable that we had a good doctor that – by the way – brought the first Water Birth bath to the country. We were happy with that; we placed all our hope in him! He will make our plans happen!

At that stage, I was at a very hectic job which really prevented me from spending some more time on birth preparation, but I certainly was a very involved dad! I went to all check-ups and I cheered every time I heard about my baby.

The time was getting closer and the not-so-bright-side of this started coming to me - all those worries about provision, sustainability, schooling (I was still a young dad!), and all that jazz. So, I found myself throwing myself even more into my work, which gave me a great sense of security. Little did I know that a child doesn’t need provision as much as she needs a present father. Anyway, my wife passionately reminded me innumerous time that my priorities were skew, which I’m now very grateful for. So, I manage to fix myself up and I managed to carry on worrying less and really acting more in preparation for my girl’s arrival.

At an earlier stage of her life, my wife had some complications with her blood pressure, which raised a red flag, but she was and is a champ! She took the pregnancy very easily without any issue. All was doing well! We had the bag packed with all the massage oil, snacks, the birth cd full of songs, we had everything!

It’s countdown time Houston, we are ready to launch.

Ok, this is the part that might not be that important to most of you, but I really feel I should explain to you all so that you can understand the reason why I’m actually writing it. My childhood wasn’t a very confident one. I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, nor the cutest. So I had some serious self-esteem complications that lead me onto a deep path of insecurity. THE FACT THAT I COULD FAIL MY DAUGHTER AND MY FAMILY WAS NOT ON! So I want this to be right and I want it badly.

Three weeks prior to the due date my wife’s blood pressure wasn’t settling. Yep, our precious bubble had somehow been affected by something that was out of our control! We took her to the doctor and we stayed in a monitoring machine for about 30 minutes and according to all the result, all was ok and we just had to monitor it and return in case of a lack of improvement. Good deal! We got home, she went to bed and we monitored!

On our next visit we were made aware of the fact that the doctor we’d painstakingly selected and paid 300% our Medical Aid coverage will not be working in the week of our due date because of a Bike Race that he would be participating in! What the hell!? Does he realize that he’s not doing me a favor and that this moment is the most important moment of my life? We carried on; I kept that anger away from my wife so that I could make sure she wasn’t affected! But Ah! If I could only….

To cut a long story short (although meaningful), on the 15th of March 2011 my wife’s blood pressure wasnt settling. So, we followed the instructions and we sent her back to the clinic – same machine, same time, different results. Now, the nurse had to show the doctor (by the way, he was there – two days before his departure). So, we explained the whole situation to him. After looking at our file and at my wife’s blood pressure takings, he then put on a worried face and said the sentence that names this little article “it’s has been high all along”. Hello! What are you here for? Why does my wife have to have her blood pressure measured before every consultation then? It has been high all along and it was also in your file all along!! But you know, I have a rather peaceful personality and I wasn’t ugly or anything I just wanted to solve the issue.

He said that due to her situation he would have to induce my wife that evening and then start the labor process in the next morning. I can still feel the exact same emotion I felt in his office. We were so naïve, we believed what he said.
They said my wife would have to stay in to be induced. She hadn’t had the time to go back home and get her bag as well as the baby bag that we forever planned! She couldn’t GET READY. Furthermore, they told me that I couldn’t stay with her overnight. WAIT HERE!! My wife and I had never slept a night apart from each other, this is our moment and I don’t want to go. I tried with all my strength, but I couldn’t convince them to let me stay. I attempted to sleep in the parking lot, but my wife then realized that it would be better if I went home and brought her stuff in the next morning after I got a good rest. WE WERE STILL BELIEVING FOR A NATURAL BIRTH.

I went home. It might sound cheesy, but it was the longest night I had ever had at that stage. The fact that my wife was at a clinic and I wasn’t there with her wasn’t too ideal for me. It might be extreme, yes – I know. But that’s who we are, an Attached Family.

I get to the hospital next morning and she was already induced and the “process” had already started. It was funny to us, because it wasn’t really working for my wife. She was normal. The contractions were of someone that – like her – wasn’t ready to give birth. But, we still believed, after all, we had the best doctor.

After trying the whole day (pacing the corridors, bouncing on the exercise ball, trying all of the tricks we learnt at our antenatal class) the contractions weren’t progressing and my wife wasn’t dilating enough to give the doctor hope. He reinserted the gel 3 or 4 times. I remember he said, “Let’s see what we can achieve before 6pm”. He would visit us every hour to monitor the contractions and the dilation [not very comfortable by the way]. After a couple of tries and 18 hours later the doctor said that this was not going to work and we would have to call a C-Section. Boom! The world fell apart. I was feeling hopeless, helpless, powerless and at the same time excited that I was going to see my girl. My wife tried so hard to make this happen and the fact that we wouldn’t make it breaks my heart so bad that I can still feel it. Oils, sweets, music, massage guides, all of that in vain.
According to the doctor my daughter had her cord entangled on her neck twice, which was not allowing her to drop in to the right position. The next day when he visited us for a check up he also casually mentioned that she had an occult prolapsed umbilical cord which basically meant if her head pushed down onto it during contractions there was a possibility she would go into distress and could be deprived of oxygen. Funny, because while we were visiting the doctor almost weekly and paying a fortune for it he would say “if I had to design someone for natural birth, I would design a baby exactly like this.”

We tried to recover. We tried to keep positive. We were tired, it was a long day of much work with no results. We accepted the need for the C-Section. We just decided to stop fighting. At around 21:00 we entered the theater for our C-Section. We manage to get a nice “midwife” to support us and help us with the skin-to-skin cesarean.

My wife was sedated; my daughter is on the way! They cut my wife wide open and they take my sweet daughter out of her tummy quite aggressively. Sorry daughter, we didn’t plan that.

I could finally see and feel my daughter, the most gorgeous little girl alive. Although the whole experience was devastating it all paid off by looking at that sweet little face.

As a dad, I went from UNDER CONTROL to I CAN’T DO ANYTHING. It was massive, it was hectic, and it was frustrating to say the least. The bottom line is that we can’t trust other people’s decisions. We know what is best for us. If it was today, I would take my wife back home with me and we would wait. We could wait! The thing is – the birthing business is powerful and perhaps one of the most secure markets to be in. There are too many hidden (not so hidden) agendas to take the mom and dad into real consideration. Would I do it again? Yes! Would I do it different? Yes, completely!

My wife and I are completely in love with Hannah, our daughter. A beautiful breastfed, baby worn, unvaccinated, babyled weaned and co-sleeping, healthy little girl with two awesome attached parents! ;) We are not getting fooled by any “medical” excuse to push something we don’t want. We are now a well-researched parenting team that makes decision with one person in mind, our baby girl.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This is Getting Old

Me again, your friendly neighborhood pornographer. Writing to tell you I've been blocked for yet another 30 days. This time, I educated others on how to hand express milk from a lactating breast. Shame. On. Me.

This is my second 30 day shunning in 40 days. The first was for posting an article about the functions of the foreskin. Heaven forbid people become educated. I, for one, much prefer to remain blissfully ignorant than to be presented with information that might rock my long-held and shakily-founded beliefs. This makes total sense to me. So, I get where Facebook and the people who report such posts are coming from. I have clearly crossed the line from validating everyone's choices and beliefs to challenging and teaching. I don't know what I was thinking. My deepest apologies.

Oh, wait, one more thing...NOT.

I cannot tell you how many women have written to me both publicly and privately to say, "Wow, I had no idea...thank you for sharing!" in regards to any number of posts on all sorts of different topics. It is for them that I will continue to post without shame or fear. It is for them that I will do what is right, not what is easy.

So, since it seems to be just a matter of time until Zen Parenting's Facebook page gets deleted altogether, I've created another page so that we can pick up where we leave off if and when this occurs. Head over now and "like" Zen Parenting Part Deux to make sure you don't miss out on the goods.

Zen Not-So-Secret

Since sharing my story of sexual assault, I have gotten dozens of comments and messages from people I know and don't know both hinting at their own abuse and telling their full stories. I am overwhelmed by their trust in me and the hurt that I feel for them.

That brings me to my latest venture: Zen Secret-No-More.
I'll keep a running blog post of stories you all wish to tell. So far, I have all stories of sexual abuse such as my own, but they can be anything you want to tell. Every time a new story comes in, I'll update and repost the blog.

I cannot tell you how cathartic and empowering sharing my story was. I didn't, for a second, think it would be. I would imagine this might be the case for some of you. Holding in a secret can feel so lonely. Here's your opportunity to lessen your burden just a bit.

There's no pressure and there's no due date. If and when you feel like sharing your secret, send it in via PM on the page or to ZenParenting1@yahoo.com. No questions asked. Everything will remain anonymous unless you state that you wish it to be otherwise.

All my love,

Another of my stories, one only my husband knows and only knew partially until he read this: In my second year of teaching, I met a couple and the three of us hit it off. They were fun, I was fun. We went back to their place - I forget why exactly. They poured me a glass of wine - along with something extra. They proceeded to rape me as a couple. He raped me anally. I recall only bits and pieces. I have flashes of the night. I remember him turning to her and asking her permission to rape me anally. I remember waking up naked and completely confused in their guest room. I couldn't find my clothes, I didn't know where I was in their house, I didn't know how to get out of there. I woke up feeling more drunk than I'd ever felt in life. I made my way out of there, but not without great difficulty. I was unclear as to all that had happened, I was in more headache pain than I'd ever been in, and I was completely shaken and guilt-riddled. It wasn't until a year later when I told my now-husband the story and he told me I had been raped that I finally admitted that to myself. Until that time, I felt so guilty and stupid for having put myself in that position. I still struggle with this, but telling it here is yet another step in that healing process for me. ~Zen Mama

Danielle writes, "My story... My parents separated when I was a baby. My father told me later it had a lot to do with the fact my mother continued to use methamphetamine while she was pregnant with me. Still, he left my brother and me with her. They created my little brother in the middle of their divorce. The three of us lived with her, she was mentally abusive, narcissistic, and incredibly neglectful. We lived in terrible conditions. She wouldn't clean the house, blaming her mother for making her do chores when she was younger. She was "burnt out". She was also a "Daddy's girl". She would get money from him, get his prescription medication (my first clue to her drug problem), and leave us with him whenever she wanted. He was awful. He molested all of us. I blocked it out for quite sometime and I still have memories come back to me. His house was built in the 70s and his closet was one wall length with sliding mirrors for the doors. He would usually make us do stuff in front of the mirrors. I told my mother when I was about 6 or 7, that "Papa was doing things he shouldn't do". She didn't even act like she was surprised. She said she'd take care of it. Well, it stopped for a while. When I was ten I was starting to develop, but did not yet own a bra. I was in his house with my mother one day and he commented on the shirt I was wearing. He came over and looked down my shirt right in front of her. I looked over to her for help, but she was sitting there watching and she had a smile on her face. I could not believe it. I know now she let him abuse us so he would give her money (or pills or whatever else she wanted). When my baby brother was 9 she decided she was tired of the responsibility and sent him to live with our father. Baby bro was the first to tell someone other than Mom. He told our aunt, my mom's half sister. My grandma had her from a previous marriage. He had done the same things to our aunt, so she believed baby bro. She later asked me (after my mother had completely dumped us on Dad) informed me she already knew, then told me never to tell my grandmother because it would "break her heart". Two years ago I told my grandmother. I couldn't keep it in. Something brought up the topic of my aunt running away when she was so young. Mimi, my grandma, said she knew her claims and they were simply not true. That angered me so much. After all the abuse Mimi took from that evil man, he still had her convinced he never touched our aunt. I tried to walk away, but Mimi followed me demanding I tell her what I was so mad about. I had to say it. We cried for a while. She wanted him put in jail. He was 90 years old at this point. I told her to let him go. He didn't have much longer to go. I told my aunt later that Mimi knew. She asked what she said. I told her of our conversation. She was angry. Angry that Mimi believed me, but didn't believe her all those years ago. That's why she didn't want me to tell her. I couldn't help thinking how screwed up we all were because of this one man's terrible actions. This isn't just my story, it's part of our story. My family. He hurt my cousins and brothers, my aunt and my Mimi, he hurt me and got away with all of it until he died. I'm fortunate because I was the only other female, I've been able to see it wasn't my fault. My cousins and brothers have yet to deal with it, but I can tell how it has affected their lives as adults. My grandpa died before Christmas 2012, a few months after I told him that I remember what he did to us. He never apologized. I never got to say that I forgive him. I think it would have been a lie. I can forgive him for damage done to me, but my brothers? No. They're like my babies. I potty trained both of them. Wiped their butts til they were in grade school because their chubby little arms couldnt reach around their fat little bodies. I can't forgive him for Mimi. She is destroyed. My son was born a week or two after papa died. I can't tell you how relieved I was. My baby would never know that evil, but since I know evil like that is out there, he will never be subjected to anything of the sort.
There's so much more I could write, things I left out, promises I have made to myself, but my fingers are tired. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell this. Not many people have heard it, but people need to know. If your child acts scared of someone, it isn't for no reason. Find out what the deal is and don't let your babies be scared. Or scarred."

Attached Mommas writes, "Since reading through all of the comments of the sexual assult post.. I wanted to comment but wanted more people to see my post this way...

My grandmother was kidnapped at 4, raped with a knife. for 2 years. She grew up to be non stop raped/beat by her mom's boyfriend's.. and by her boyfriends.. She obviously grew up with mental health problems. That were never acknowledged, never treated and barely diagnosed a few years ago (shes 65)

She then became 'that mom' who allowed her babies (my mom) to be raped, and beaten by her husbands/boyfriends. The one who raped her for over 10 years was her step father. PAUL WALSH. he lives in texas. and has a 'family'.

My mom is.. so messed up... she has EVERY SINGLE mental illness you can think of. Extreme bipolar along with extreme manic depression.. schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD, and the list is endless. She has never been properly treated or helped in any way.. She has tried to kill herself (o.d., sliting throat) multiple times in front of my little sister.. She contemplates suicide every day of her life.
She has let my little sister be molested by our uncle who also molested a 6 year old boy.. he has aids. She allowed us to live in a home of our 'uncle' who was in jail for 18 years for molesting a 17 yr old, at 20 something yrs of age.

My point.. is that she never got help, she always has played the victim, she thinks shes worthless because of what was done wrong to her. She HATES herself. She cuts herself, she hates her life.

I was blessed to have her leave me as a 2 month old baby and never made contact with her until I was 16..

I BROKE THIS CYCLE of abuse for MY family. My daughter will never be in these situations and i'll die before I let that happen.
Don't be afraid to voice your struggles, your fears, and what has happened to you. You need to seek support in some form or another (healthy of course) Don't be my mom, because its NOT YOUR FAULT. We are beautiful men and women who have had things happen to them that should never even be thought of.. My heart and my soul goes out to every single one of you whether you were forced to kiss or to have sex.

You are SURVIVORS. You are BEAUTIFUL, WORTHY, STRONG, and loved, even if I am just a random person. Don't ever think what has happened to you makes you any less worthy of a loving, intimate, secure relationship. you can and will get through this. My family are not success stories and may never be.. but you can be. But you need to get help-even if that's just forgiving.. or sharing your story.
And don't ever lose faith in yourself."

Anonymous writes, "Killed by your whispers.

In this book, called my journal,
I once had on each page,
phrases and swirls of joy,
and writings of happy days.

But now the black ink runs,
with the tears I have cried.
It's because of your whispers,
and all of your lies.

The ink slowly runs,
down each sad, dark page.
It now mixes with crimson.
I cut for each mistake made.

For years my poor journal,
had to also endure my own pain.
It heard of all my hurts.
It felt each time I cut again.

For so long I have wrote,
about each day that I've cried.
But now because of your whispers,
I am no longer alive...

I once wrote with black.
Now it all has turned red.
I have now written the last page.
Wrote with only two words, "I'm dead".

My last page was written in blood,
from the delicate heart you broke.
You had shown me no mercy,
with the many whispers you spoke.

My book is finally finished.
You'll now find me lying cold.
"Killed By Your Whispers" I've called it.
My suicide note told...

This is a poem I wrote right before my suicide attempt at age 14. I had molested and raped my entire childhood. I don't even remember when it began...before school I think. I don't know who my attacker was. I have blocked most of it out. I just remember his hands. Strong, and rough.

At age 9 my brother started touching me. He would surprise me from behind and put his hands up my shirt. He came into my room every night, touching me and making me do things to him. It finally stopped on my 13th Birthday. The day I got my first period. My best Birthday.

When I was 12 my parents divorced and my mom asked her girlfriend and the girlfriends son to move in with us. He was 19. The first time I methinks was when he moved in with us. We camped outside that summer, the older kids and I. (I was the second oldest of 7 kids) every night he payed beside me masturbating. I always felt stupid for feeling the way I did about it. I felt dirty and bad. I felt like I shouldn't care because hey, at least he's not raping me.

During my years in elementary school, there were a group of 5 boys my age. They cornered me everywhere. They forced me into the boys bathroom, the computer room, empty classrooms, a hidden spot on the yard at recess. They always tried to take off my clothes, and made me touch them. They pushed me around. I hated school. So I made sure to never do my homework so that I had to be in detention, away from those boys.

From my thirteenth birthday, till I was 16 I never had any issues with sexual abuse, assault, etc. but it was an extremely dark time in my life. Plagued with nightmares, self mutilation, eating disorder, and attempted suicides. I lived in the hospital for a while but no one could help so they let me go.

Then the spring after I turned 16 I started going to a school for troubled kids (teen parents, sick kids, kids with behavioural difficulties). I met an older guy there, he was 19. His little brother was best friends with my little brother so I didn't see the harm in us all hanging out sometimes. He was nice, he listened. He seemed to care so much. One day after school he asked to walk me home. I agreed and he added that he just had to drop by his his house for a minute to grab something. So off we went. It was raining so he said I could step inside, and I did. Then all of a sudden I was thrown to his bed. I could barely comprehend what was going on before I was tied up and he was sitting on top of me. I was screaming for him to stop, to get off, trying to get away. He shoved his hands into my pants touching me. I couldn't see what he was doing but I felt...everything. It was terrifying. I finally broke the cord that was holding my ankles and wriggled out of the computer cord that held my wrists. Pushing him off with all of my strength I kept up and grabbed a glass and knocked it on the counter, breaking it. I picked up and piece just as he lunged forward trying to grab me. I cut his arm and ran out the door. This attack is still so very vivid to me.

I tried to tell multiple people about the abuses I have suffered throughout my life. Some stopped speaking to me. Some thought I was just trying to seek attention. Some accused me of lying. Sadly my mothers response was the hardest on me. When I told her about the self mutilation she laughed and told me I wasn't doing it right, not deep enough for anyone to care. I cut deeper after that. When I told her about the rapes by my brother she told me I was lying, that I probably asked for it, that it was consensual. So I never told the police the truth when they questioned me. When I told her about the attempted rape by my "friend". She told me that he went to talk to her that same day and he had something very different to say. She believed him.

I am now 22 years old. I have three beautiful children. I am doing everything in my power to keep them from harm, to educate them, to respect them...and to BELIEVE them. Thank you!


Anonymous writes, "My dad has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. My dad would leave for work in the morning and, most nights, go straight to the bar afterwards. There were many days that I never even seen him because he didn't come home until after I was in bed. My mom tried to talk to him about it & the toll that it was taking on their marriage, but he refused to acknowledge a problem.
After my sister was born, my mom returned to work and met this guy who she started having an affair with. When I met him, I didn't like him. I just got a weird feeling about him. Eventually, my mom said that he wanted to take her away and asked if I wanted to go. I said, "No, I don't want to go anywhere with him! But you're NOT taking my sister without me!"
Something must've finally clicked with my dad because he decided to take my mom out one night. Who did she get to watch my sister and me? The guy she was having the affair with. It was the first time that he was ever alone with us. I just went about playing in my room, like a 7 year old would. He left my sister, who wasn't even one at the time, strapped into her car seat when he came into my room. He took my clothes off & started touching me, putting his finger in me, and eventually his penis. I was crying, staring at a clown sitting on a shelf in the room, trying not to think about what was happening. He got angry with me when I told him that I was going to throw up and told me that I was lying, but I assured him that if he didn't stop, I would throw up all over him. He finally got off of me and told me to get dressed. Then he left the room, came back in with my sister in her car seat, pushed me out of the room, and locked the door. I screamed and beat on the door, but realized that it wasn't going to do any good, so I called the only number I knew, my old babysitter. She called the cops before coming to our house. In the mean time, hearing my sister's screams from behind that door was terrifying. I had no idea what he was doing to her, but it didn't matter...she was just a baby, and I wished that it was me back in there with him, so he had never hurt her.
At some point in time, the guy had taken off, out the bedroom window, so the cops didn't get him that night. My parents came home and found out what happened before my old babysitter and the cops left. Then we went to the hospital to be examined. I was, physically, okay, for the most part, but my heart sank when they said that my sister may never be able to have children because of the damage that that sick bastard had done.
That guy was arrested and we were told that the best chance of a conviction was for me to get on the stand and testify against him. All I could think about was justice for my sister. I agreed to it and was warned that his lawyers would not take it easy on me just because I was a child, but I was up for the task. I don't really remember much about the trial, except for being asked if my rapist was in the room and me pointing him out (if only looks could kill), being asked if I had been coached in any way, which I hadn't been, and then, my lawyer asking me, "What do you want to happen to this man?," to which I replied, "I want him to DIE for what he did to my baby sister!" My lawyer replied, "You don't really mean that," and I assured him, "Yes, I DO!"
He did go to jail, but I don't remember for how long. I don't remember his name, and it's probably better that way.
Despite being urged to, my parents didn't take me for counseling. They hoped that I was young enough to forget about it.
Unfortunately, it wasn't over there. My mom found out that she was pregnant. She didn't know if the baby was my dads or the guy she had an affair with, the one who had raped me (and did whatever it was he did to my sister). She said she wanted to get an abortion. I begged & pleaded with her to keep my baby brother or sister. First, she said that she was afraid that my rapist would be the father and my sister & I would hate our sibling. I tried to tell her that it wasn't the baby's fault and that we would love him/her, no matter who the father was. My dad even begged my mom to keep the baby and was willing to raise it as his own if it wasn't. Then my mom said that we couldn't afford another baby and I reminded her that we couldn't afford my sister either, but we still had her.
I came home from school one day to find out that my mom had went and had the abortion anyways. Up until that point, I had always been my mom's little shadow. I didn't say a word to her for a whole week. What had already happened to me didn't hurt as bad as losing my baby brother or sister. My heart was shattered.
My parents never talked about it. Any of it. At least not in front of me...excpet for the one time I over heard my mom telling my dad that she was leaving because she was afraid that we would remember and blame her for it. More than 20 years later, they still don't want to talk about it. I didn't even talk about it until I finally broke down in front of a friend 15 years later. I've only talked to a few people about it, but, for the most part, I keep my story quiet. It's not just my story. It's my baby sister's story, too, and she doesn't even know it. I have carried this burden for myself AND my sister for 25 years now and will continue to do so. She was just a baby when it happened. She doesn't remember her molestation or the fact that our mom had an abortion. Telling my sister now would destroy her & I will not do that to her. I don't want her to blame our dad and his alcoholism, or my mom for having an afair, or hate our mom for killing our baby brother or sister. Or just plain think that our mom is a coward - their relationship is strained enough as it is.
It has taken a long time, but, now, I realize that my dad has a disease. I understand why my mom had an affair, and I don't blame her. While she is a coward for leaving us, I know that she has suffered, and still does, from the choices that she has made. I have also forgiven my rapist and asked God for mercy on his soul, and I pray that he has never harmed another child. I didn't forgive everyone that I had previously blamed for their sake, I did it for my own. Holding all of that hatred and anger wasn't hurting anyone but myself. I needed to let go, so I could move on with my life. I'll never forget and it will always hurt, but at least now, it's not holding me back from living the life that I deserve."

Anonymous writes, "It was nearly over 10 years ago. I was about 14 or 15 years old and my grandparents lived in New Orleans. We would spend random weekends with them because they lived so far away. Well my grandpa (step father's dad) started hugging me longer and tighter but I didn't notice at first. Then it progressed to him hugging me from behind and groping my chest. It felt terrible but I figured it was just the awkward movements of a old man. Then he started to say things to me, about how he would sneak away from his wife so we could be alone. I wanted to say something but it felt so wrong to accuse my new step-dad's father of being a creeper. He never did anything more then rub on me and say things about wanting to have sex with me before it came to a sort of light. I over heard my mother and step-dad talking one evening. Apparently he had been making these promises and emotions know to many local woman and was just suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I never admitted to being one of them but from then on we were never allowed to spend unwatched time with him and he was put on medication. Chances are he had no idea who he was talking to and it hasn't been a issue since. This doesn't make it hurt less or scare me less but I've forgiven his mistake and moved on."

Anonymous writes, "I was 15. I'd never had any kind of real 'contact' with anyone yet, but I had a boyfriend. He was one of those guys your parents don't like. Didn't seem to have a lot of prospects in life or much self-respect, but he was polite to me and I considered him a safe bet, meaning I didn't think he would dump me before I was ready.

We were at school, at some kind of club event after hours, helping some oversight teacher transfer loads of junk from a storage closet to their car. There were like seven or ten students plus the teacher doing this. At some random point my boyfriend and I wound up in the closet together while everyone else was either outside or headed outside, and he just stopped what he was doing, shoved me down onto my knees, and stuck his dick in my mouth.

I didn't make a sound. It was so unexpected, so out of the blue, that I didn't know how to respond. He moved himself around a bit there until we heard someone coming back and then I got up real quick because I didn't want to be caught, didn't want to be in trouble. Like I was about to be caught shoplifting or something, and that was honestly the first emotion I was aware of having during the whole event. I wasn't offended or excited or hurt or intrigued or anything, it's like I was a non-entity, a robot, until the prospect that I might be found that way, and then I felt guilty.

Whoever it was came and went, and then my boyfriend went back to what he was doing. I never tried to get him to stop.

Eventually the opportunity ended, and then eventually, so did the work. I walked myself home like I was supposed to. I kept up a normal face, normal attitude, around the teacher and the other students, but once I was alone, walking along a wide-shouldered highway, I started crying. I was sobbing so hard I couldn't walk right, and then I asked myself why. That was the second emotion I was aware of having: confusion. Why was I crying? I thought it seemed like something a girl does in a movie after she gets raped, is she cries. So I asked myself, was that rape? And I decided it wasn't, because I never protested. So nothing bad had happened. I stopped crying. And I went home. And I didn't tell anyone.

This was my boyfriend's new favorite hobby. It was the first thing that happened every time we got a second alone. For a long time I found it nothing but supremely boring, but I never complained except by acting distractible and uninterested. Over time it grew into other forms of sex, other forms of domination. I started trying to talk to my parents about it, but they acted like I was breaching the norm by discussing something gross, like the consistency of my turds. One time we were all in the car together on the way to somewhere, me and him in the middle seats of the minivan, both my parents in the front seats, and my two younger sisters behind. He pulled out a knife, held it to my throat, pushed me back and leered at me and told me he could make me do anything he wanted. Everyone was watching. No one said anything.

It's amazing how quickly you can normalize to crazy situations if nobody tries to shake up your perspective and make you realize how crazy it is. I started to crave this behavior instead of, or actually as if it was, the healthy attention paid between two people who truly care about each other. We moved into role-playing full-out rape assault scenarios. He found it thrilling. In a way, so did I.

This went on for about three years. I tried to break up with him multiple times, but he guilted me about having a love that was 'conditional,' as if only people with a cheap heart and a grubby soul ever feel love that isn't 'unconditional,' -- which of course his was, which only proved how much more beautiful than me he was inside, if I ever left him. I stayed.

I knew some nice boys, and at least a couple I knew would have been quite happy to offer me a nice relationship, but nobody could get me out of the situation I was in. Everyone was polite. Everyone gave me my space. Nobody judged. Nobody objected.

I finally got away from him when I turned 18 and moved to a different state. I had several nice boys trying to get my attention when I arrived at college, so I picked the one whose moral sensibilities seemed closest to my own, and we've been together for 12 years now. He's sweet and patient and kind and flexible and encouraging, and I've never told him any of this. It's only recently that I let go of my initial assessment that 'nothing bad had happened.' But something bad did happen. Sometimes I seem to go years without thinking about it and I imagine that it doesn't matter anymore, but then I'll read something or see something on tv that recalls it to me. Then I start fantasizing about being in a relationship like that again, and I know that it's still with me."

"Telly" writes, "I am 22 years old, the oldest child of four. My sister D is a little more than a year younger than me, my brother W is three years younger than me, and my youngest brother D is one month shy of being exactly 10 years younger than me. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, and both of my parents were raised in households that believed in "spanking." As a child, I was spanked quite often, but now that I'm older and have some perspective, I know this spanking wasn't necessarily because I did something wrong. More often than not, I can recall being punished for inconveniencing or irritating my parents. In putting all these pieces together, I realize I'm a victim of physical abuse. This realization came some time when I was in middle school. When I realized I was being abused, the first thought I remember coming to my mind was that it was most certainly wrong and I needed to find a way to stop it. But when you're abused, it's hard to step up and try to stop it, because you're so afraid the abuse will get worse. On that note, let's begin.

I was four or five years old and had peed my pants one afternoon. I tried to hide my soiled pants in the chicken coop of the farm where we lived and my dad had found them. He found me, made me put them on my head, and came after me to spank me. I started to run up the stairs in our house, so I could hide in my bedroom and my dad kicked me in the butt. I flew up about three or four steps before falling down a few more of them. I remember my mom objecting and telling my dad to calm down, but he still caught up to me and beat me. The next day, my butt and both of my shins were covered in deep purple bruises. My preschool teacher had pushed my pant legs up so she could tie my shoes and saw the bruises and, of course, she asked about the bruises she could see. I told her the truth (my parents had been very thorough in teaching me, with a belt across my young bottom, that lying was bad) about what my dad had done. When my mom came to pick me up, my teacher confronted my mom and had already called Child and Youth Services (CYS). I remember my parents telling me over and over that I shouldn't tell anyone else about what happens at our house because it's nobody else's business, and so began the covering up of the abuse. I don't remember much of anything after telling my teacher about this incident, but my parents have told me CYS was involved. I was too young to know or remember that part of the incident.

I noticed, also when I was very young, that my dad preferred my brother over my sister and me. I noticed, in the way that kids do, that my mom never had an opinion of her own - my dad made all the decisions. I realized that my dad is sexist. If my mom did anything wrong, my dad would become so irate that it was terrifying to be around him. The entire family walked on eggshells around him when he was like this - and he was like this all the time. He hated his work and he brought that hatred home with him. He told my mom she was fat and worthless, that she didn't keep the house clean enough. (How the hell do you keep a house clean with four kids running around?) He made my siblings and I feel worthless. As soon as I got into school, I would get good grades and the only people who would tell me they were proud of me were my grandparents and my great uncles, and my mom. While their pride was a nice pat on the back, they had always supported me, so it didn't feel like a big accomplishment when they praised me. They were all people whose opinions didn't matter to my dad. All I ever wanted was my dad's approval, and I never felt as if he cared a bit about me. Even now, when I do talk to him, I feel like he's talking down to me.

I know I've blocked many, many memories of abuse, and they're hard for me to recall. I remember some more clearly than others. Most are bits and pieces, harsh words and old hurts that never seem to heal, little land mines that ruin my day.

I remember being somewhere around 8 years old…I can't remember what I did wrong, but I remember I had gotten a beating and didn't think it was fair. I wrote my parents a letter and put it on their pillows. I told them I'd call the police if they hit me again. My dad knew that my favorite person in the world was his dad - my Pap. He sat me down with all my siblings, and told us that Pap told him to beat all of us until one of us told him who wrote it. I said I did it and he told me Pap told him he should 'beat me until my ass bled.' I didn't believe him, and later, I told Pap about this and he said he never saw the letter I wrote and that he never would have suggested we be beaten bloody. Another nice example of how sick my dad's mind is - using lies about my favorite person against me.

I can remember a lot of times I was slapped or pushed against cupboards or jerked around by my hair because I was told to do something and hadn't acted on the instruction immediately after it was given. Sometimes it was my mom, sometimes it was my dad. The times that undid me most were when my dad was already angry and decided I was a good target for his anger because I'd made a mistake or 'had an attitude' when I spoke to him or my mom.

I remember one night after I had gotten my ears pierced at ten years old, I was in the bathroom cleaning my piercings when my dad stumbled in the bathroom naked to pee. I went to leave, and he stopped me. He looked in the toilet and saw the amount of toilet paper I'd used when I wiped, and noted that it was ‘a lot of toilet paper for such a small pussy.’ I ran away feeling disgusted and violated, even though he hadn't touched me. I wanted to vomit.

There are a lot of times I can remember being lectured on who owned the house, who bought the groceries when I mentioned I didn't like how I was treated. My dad would point out ‘See that milk you let sit out on the counter? I BOUGHT THAT. YOU ARE NOTHING AROUND HERE. I am the only reason you're alive. YOU LIVE UNDER MY ROOF. YOU WILL DO EXACTLY AS I SAY.’

When I got older, my dad would try to keep a running tab of all the money I owed him for things he had to buy for me. This became a more frequent occurrence during my high school years because my mom wrecked our van when I was 16 and it came out that she had been borrowing tens of thousands of dollars from Pap, who is retired, diabetic, and really can't afford to support a family of six and buy all his medications. Pap had to tell my dad that he couldn't afford to lend us the money for a new car, and my dad finally figured out that my mom had been paying the bills and buying everything he wanted, not with his money, but with my grandfather's. My dad was furious with my mom, and the emotional abuse he inflicted on my mom still affects her to this day, though she refuses to leave him.

The next clear memory I have was from when I was fourteen. It was the first time I was directly and purposefully involved in CYS being called about abuse in my family. The night before, my youngest brother (who was four at the time) had been playing with a mirror my dad kept on the stand next to his place on the couch, and he told my brother not to play with it. My brother touched it again, and my dad hit D in the head so hard that he fell over, banging his head on the couch on the way down - my dad had his feet propped up at the time, so D had hit his head on the metal bars that hold up the foot rest, and had a big bruise immediately. It didn't end there. My dad ended up standing up and nearly squishing my brother's head in the foot rest as he folded it down, and then D tried to run away, and my dad chased him with a belt and hit him with it everywhere he could - his face, his arms, his back. It caused me physical pain to hear D screaming and crying and begging Daddy to stop hitting him, saying he was sorry and seeing my dad's face, blank with hatred and rage. I tried to step in and was punched in the face and knocked against the wall. I very nearly blacked out. My mom just stood and watched, like we both deserved the beating we were getting. I felt so helpless and useless.

The next day at school, someone saw me crying, sitting on the floor of one of the bathrooms, and told my guidance counselor, who came and found me. She talked to me and I told her about my parents and their abuse, so she made the call for me. CYS came in to talk to me that afternoon. I told them everything I could remember at that time, about what happened the night before and about more abuse that I can't remember anymore. CYS then went to the other schools to talk to my siblings, who didn't tell the CYS folks the truth out of fear of my parents. I can't blame them, but I wish they had stood up. I know they finally did stand up during later calls, though.

That night I went home and my parents wouldn't talk to us kids, not even my baby brother. They didn't talk to us for the better part of a week after CYS was initially called. My siblings, except D, were angry with me and wouldn't talk to me. That first night, my mom set my dad's dinner on the table and my dad yelled at her, saying something about how us kids would probably slip rat poison in his food if she left his food unattended like that. Everyone was on edge. The physical abuse stopped, but that made it morph into emotional and psychological abuse.

The biggest slap in the face of all of it was that CYS said the allegations of abuse were 'unfounded.' So nothing was done to stop what was happening, because they didn't believe it to be abuse. My dad was working his manipulative, charming side when he met the investigators, and I could see their belief in him as an abuser just disappear when he spoke. I felt sick.

Around this time, I started cutting myself. Not because I was trying to kill myself, but because I was so full of emotional pain that I didn't know how to express it otherwise. The scars showed the world my pain. I drew and painted and it wasn't enough. Cutting was a way for me to feel pain and let it out. I was so upset that I wanted to die, but I didn't have it in me to kill myself. I didn't know where to turn for help. In time, I stopped cutting, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was one of the only things I seemed to have any control over back then. My mom didn't notice the scars until just before I graduated high school, two years after the last time I'd cut.

The physical abuse was horrible, but the emotional and psychological abuse is probably the worst of it all. I can't even begin to recall all the times my parents made me feel like I didn't matter. Being called a bitch, worthless, a piece of shit, stupid, etc. - that was normal for me, and I truly believed all those things about myself. I felt so ugly - aside from being abused at home, I was teased at school. It took a long time to believe in myself and my worth again, but I'm still not where I should be in regard to believing in myself.

I know there was a CYS call between the time I was fourteen and the time I was seventeen, but I don't remember what happened leading up to that.

I remember the one when I was seventeen clearly - I was home while my dad slept on the couch. Nobody else was home, and I was doing homework on the internet. I had eaten dinner and let the bowl sit on one of the stands in the living room. My dad woke up and slammed the stand onto its side, knocking everything directly at me. The bowl I'd let sit cut my foot when it shattered. I went to school the next day and my favorite teacher again called CYS. I asked to be placed with my grandfather for the weekend following the call, and when I went to his house, he told me he was worried about our family. I realized he had no idea what his son was doing to his grandchildren, and I told him. I showed him my cutting scars, and I told him about every incidence of abuse that I could remember. I had just stopped cutting a little while before this, and he asked me to stop. I promised him I wouldn't anymore, and then he told me that if my siblings and I needed to get out of there, to come to his house. He would be happy to have us, and that way we'd get a break from our parents. Knowing he was on my side was so empowering, but it came way too late - I was about to graduate and I had decided to join the Navy upon graduation. The disgusting things I experienced in the Navy are a totally different story, but in a nutshell, though I had joined to escape my parents' abuse, I had enlisted and felt as if I'd just traded one form of abuse for another. I'd traded my child abuse for sexual harassment. But anyway, let's get back on topic.

I have so many memories of my mom punching and throwing W against cupboards in the kitchen when he ‘smarted off’ to her. My mom and dad both hitting my sister when she ‘smarted off’ to them. My dad even punched her and me in the face a few times, so that we had to hide the knuckle marks before school for the next few days. My mom literally shoving D out of her way and ignoring him when he needed her because she didn't want to deal with 'it', like my brother was a thing, not a child. I tried to step in and stop things a lot because I didn't care so much when it was me getting hit- but seeing my siblings get abused was the worst form of torture, because they're younger than me, and it's my job as oldest to protect them. I think the worst pain of all was seeing my youngest brother D being hit and cursed at by my parents. For the first four years of his life, I was the one he cried for when he fell down. He was my baby, and I was his mom ever since he learned to motion for me to pick him up. He followed me everywhere, and my mom had PPD so she didn't have anything to do with him after he was weaned from breastfeeding at around 5 months. And when I wasn't playing mom to D, my parents didn't have the patience to take care of him.

At thirteen, I hit puberty and then, at fourteen, D stopped wanting to come near me because I was so angry and depressed and full of hate. I couldn't be patient with him anymore, and I still feel so guilty about that. I didn't know how to be a mother, and I am afraid that after all the other abuse he suffered, my inability to mother him has just added to the pile of hurts that may never heal. I know now it wasn't exactly my responsibility, but I still feel guilty. One day I will ask D for his forgiveness, when I can explain things to him better. Someday I'll also ask the forgiveness of all my siblings for going to the Navy and leaving them in that house. I thought I'd earn enough to get them out and I was wrong - I never did.

Along with the obvious mental and physical abuse, there was a lot of neglect, too. For instance, I went to the dentist in 4th grade and then didn't see another dentist until I arrived at boot camp in 2008, though my teeth desperately needed help. My youngest brother injured his knee somehow when he'd been walking for a few months and when he was injured, reverted to crawling again. My mom didn't take him to the doctor for months. When she took him anywhere, she took him to our chiropractor (and she'd been neglecting to take my brother while she had her regular visits) because the X-rays were cheaper. She also knew the chiropractor wouldn't report her for neglecting to bring him in for care.

Today, my sister D and my brother W have moved in with my grandfather. D doesn't speak to my parents if she can help it, but W works at the same machine shop as my dad, so they see each other every day. W doesn't let my dad get to him anymore, and I'm glad he's able to do that. D still lives at home with my parents, a thought that horrifies and worries me every day. He seems to be doing alright, but every now and then I get a call about yet another incident and my worry doubles. I usually call Pap and ask him to grab D for me for a couple of days, but I still feel so much guilt that I wasn't there to protect him like I should.

As for me, I was stationed on board a ship that was home-ported in San Diego, California in 2010 and have lived here since. I recently separated from the Navy. I am affected by the abuse I suffered as a child on an almost daily basis - although I worked in a high stress environment in the Navy, I never did learn how to cope with it well. I dealt with my stress on deployments by working out as much as time allowed, which wasn't necessarily a good thing - I'm already slender and on deployment, the food is inedible at best, so I lost even more weight.

Because of the way my dad treated my mom about keeping the house clean, I try to keep our apartment as clean as possible, though I know I fall short. I am sort of waiting for my husband to get upset with me for it, even though I know he won't. It's an irrational response to the abuse I suffered and witnessed. (my dad claimed his cheating on my mom and his abuse of her are because she can't keep house.) I have at least a few days a month where I can't make myself get out of bed because I'm so depressed. I make sure that if I have a day like this, the next day, I force myself to get out of bed early, I do some yoga, meditate, eat right, etc. I feel certain that my anxiety and depression would never have developed if I had been raised differently. It took me a long time to realize my mood swings and ‘off days’aren't normal, and I'm currently considering going back for more therapy. My husband is retired from the Navy, and so I could get treated for next to nothing, money wise. I'm afraid of being put on medication, though. I'm also a little afraid of laying all of this abuse out for a psychiatrist or psychologist, and being told, as I was told by CYS when I was fourteen, that my claims of abuse are unfounded. I know it's ridiculous, but it's still a fear. Irrational, just like the response I expect from my husband, who supports me and loves me through everything.

At 22, I've just reached my third wedding anniversary. I'm also pregnant with my first child, so my childhood experiences have recently come more sharply into focus. Thanks to my vivid pregnancy dreams, I've relived many of the horrors of abuse from my childhood, and each time I wake up in a cold sweat after nightmares about being trapped in my parents' home, watching my siblings being beaten and me useless to stop it…my resolve to break this horrible cycle strengthens.

I was home in Pennsylvania when I found out I was pregnant, and neither of my parents seemed to care very much about the fact that I'm carrying their grandchild. I'm toying with the idea of not allowing my parents near my baby, because I'm terrified they will try to parent my baby their way- the way that's left so many invisible scars on my heart and mind and body. My dad doesn't seem to listen to me when I do bother to call. My mom is better about it, but I know no matter how much I talk to her about attachment parenting, she will ultimately go back to what she knows. My parents have violated my trust enough by now for me to know they'll end up hitting my child if I allow my little one to spend any amount of time alone with them. I don't want that for my child, even if it means they'll never know their only set of grandparents. It's a hard decision, and I'm still mulling it all over.

When I first told my husband about the abuse, we agreed that our kids would never be punished in the way I was. I found Zen Parenting through a friend of mine on Facebook, and I will never, never be able to thank her enough for silently guiding me to better parenting choices. I've been reading about attachment parenting since I found out I am pregnant, and I'm excited to show my little one the love and trust I missed as a child.
I realize it will be a challenge to overcome the negative emotions I may feel toward my child. I realize it will be difficult to break the cycle, but I also know just how great the reward can be when I succeed. I know I'll make mistakes, but as humans, we all do. I just need to make sure my children know that I'm aware I made a mistake, and ask forgiveness, and tell them how I should have acted.

I received a small amount of therapy in the Navy, but I still feel as though I have a lot to work through. Despite this feeling, I know I can be a good parent because I have my mind set to it… and I've never been one to turn down a challenge. Most of all, though, I know that in gently parenting my little one, I will heal myself. Seeing my little one grow into the person they will be, uncorrupted by fear and violence, will be a balm for my battered heart and my bruised soul. And, simply put… there is nothing in the world more important to me than ending the cycle of violence and replacing the pain with peace."

Anonymous writes, "I know things could have been so, so much worse but I wanted to share this story for all the people who believe anything short of sexual contact isn't assault.

This is about my dad. I remember once in a supermarket he had told me that another man of around 45-50 was looking at me in interest. This was when I was around 12. He used to tell me stories about his previous sexual partners and how little he was currently having sex with my mum, how he craved that touch, etc. She was suffering from OCD and I was daddy's little girl because she didn't have time for me. We still held hands in public until I was around 15, when I had my first boyfriend and I decided that hand-holding was no longer a paternal thing. (In my defense I was home educated and had no contact with other people my own age, I cringe looking back, I should have realised sooner). He used to get quite upset and try to take it still. From around 12 he used to start slapping me on my arse, and commenting on well-fitting clothes and my "little round bottom". He used to drive me places and would constantly reach from the wheel or gear stick to my knee and squeeze it, sometimes hard. I soon got very upset and told him to stop doing it, he replied with something along the lines of "it's a father's right to touch his daughters little knee", it became a thing, a half-game that he would instinctively reach for my knee and I would slap his hand away. This didn't stop until I moved out at 19. He used to tell me; 'If I were younger, and I weren't your father, I'd be interested in you.' He used to insult me if I had spots or I'd put on weight, still does. When I first dyed my hair at 15 (a subtle shade of dark purple) he said 'you look like an old slapper'. My mother knew about all this, but not that he had talked so sexually about her and his previous partners to me. She was disgusted when I told her very recently but she's still with him. I'm now 21, he still asks for kisses on the cheek and I won't give them, I don't like hugging him because it makes me feel physically sick but I can't help coming into contact with him due to his relationship with my mother. Mum knows this and does try and keep him away from me. He will study me silently when ever I see him. Mum doesn't understand what I mean but my boyfriend does, he looks at me with school boy eyes.

Thank you for listening. There was a time when I first went to school at 11 when three girls who didn't like me took a hockey stick up between my legs and tried to 'hook' me on it. They weren't' punished although the school was told.

My argument is that if some of these ignorant people believe nothing short of sexual contact is assault, then what are they saying? That what my dad did was acceptable?"

Anonymous writes, "I was physicaly abused by my father. So was my mother. We lived In the woods in alaska . My earliest memory is of my mom and I running away from the cabin and sitting on a log with my mother crying . I was 2/3 years old I looked back at the house and I could see my dad's shadow and he was laughing because we couldn't go any where. I gave my mom my toy bc she was crying and I told her he helps me not be scared. Well years pass and we moved states with my dad and mom. We were living in a city and I was 12 years old I was getting beaten and I sicked my dog on my dad he tried to kill her. The police came to the door and my dad took my mom out side because there was a report of a man beating his wife. The police left and my dad told me what they said I screamed 'you were beating me! You lied to them' he told me if it bugged me that much to go tell them my self. I was 12 I didn't think they would care. (this hurts to write out) I looked at my mom and screamed 'why don't you stick up for us! Why don't you love me enough' I had bruses all over my arms and welts on my back and buttox I couldn't sit or lay down for weeks.
I'd like to say that I never was harmed again but I dated bad men for years. And one even started to abuse physicaly my daughter then it hit me my 3 yo was being harmed I left him I stuck up for her! I was single and prayed alot got to a better place and now am maried to some one who will never do that to me or her. You can break the cycle and there are more details I can give for an article if you would like but most of all stick up for your kids, and if you are law enforcement on an abuce call go in the house look at the children please!"

Anonymous writes, "I just wanted to say I think it's great that you are reaching out to sexual abuse survivors. This is such a taboo topic and lots of people are terrified of telling their story. I use to be one of those and still am and I am an adult now. My first sexual abuse encounter was when I was five. My parents had allowed me to sleep next to my grand father at the time and even though I was young I knew the way he was touching me just did not seem right or normal. Luckily even at five I knew that what he was doing was wrong and managed to run to the door yelling and screaming for mom or dad to save me. I did not know what to say, I never had been talked to about sexual abuse, about what it meant, about how to tell I mean who sexually abuses a young child it's unheard of (though common sadly) so I was never talked to about what to say. The whole ordeal was written off until I was old enough to know what was going on and at this point I am not really sure what happened at the age of nine but my parents had invited my uncle over to babysit my brother and I. This was in the day where Mr. Rogers was a fabulous show and the only computer I got to play with was one that you took a book and propped it up against the couch and pretended you were typing. I was called into the bathroom of the house we were living in, and the memory of what was happening is so blurry to me now that I don't even remember what exactly happened just that he pulled down his pants and I was forced to touch him. I was of course told never to tell anyone, that because I had been a troubled child growing up no one would ever believe me and I believe him. I was not exactly a good child, I was always perceived as "bad". This incident only happened once as did the one with my grand father and I never told anyone what happened. I began going to college in 1998, there I met my husband (then boyfriend). As we became sexually active together I never felt quite, I always felt ashamed but could never explain why. As we became more serious several years later I talked to him about my stories and he became angry. Christmas time was coming up and it was time for the annual get together we had every year since I was a child. A family Christmas party where I spent countless times seeing that Uncle once again, but my parents never knew because I never told them that their daughter was in the presence of a sexual predator. My boyfriend at the time had told me that I needed to tell them. He also told me he was not going to allow me to go, that he was not going to allow me to be in the same room as the man who abused me. So I forced myself in tears to write the long story of the two men who had sexually abused me and mailed it to my parents. They explained to me that they were sorry, they never knew and they understood. The incident was swept under the rug and my parents never spoke of it again. I quit going to those Christmas reunions but my parents didn't, you would think that knowing your daughter was sexually assaulted by her uncle that my parents would of stood up for me but they never did. I also never saw my grandfather again until he died of cancer and I visited the funeral for family support but deep down inside I really didn't care if he was dead. He was a sick creepy man that got the suffering he deserved. I was however forced to see my Uncle again but avoided him at all cost. It was at my brothers funeral and though I wasn't close to my brother growing up I needed to be there for my parents as they had just lost him to suicide, he was 29 years old. I never told anyone else about the incident not the authorities, no one. I know this may sound stupid but I do believe in Karma and I believe the suffering that both my grandfather had and my Uncle is having now is punishment enough. I still have intimacy issues but I am madly in love with the man I married as he accepts me for who I am. Even though I feel like a victim and terrible about all that happened to me I am a survivor of abuse and some children never get that chance. I am raising two children of my own and teaching them the importance of everything that I was never taught. Also I would like to stress that even though I never told I feel guilty that I never told. I just am not sure if anything can be done about it now and worry about the safety of my family. Thanks for listening and hugs to those out there who are victims of any kind of abuse!"

Anonymous writes, "I was raped by a close friend when he took me home from a party when I was too drunk to drive.

It was Independence Day of this year, I had just had a bad breakup earlier that day. I was drinking a lot, and had been trying to hook up with a guy I had always thought was attractive to 'get revenge' I guess...obviously not in a good state of mind. My friend got me away from him, and put me and our other male friend in his car, took him home first. Since I lived an hour away I guess we decided it would be better if I just crashed at his place.

I don't remember anything really beyond getting in the car at the party, dropping our friend off, and I sort of remember getting to his house. Next thing I know, I'm in his bed and he's on top of me. I have no recollection of how I got there, when he started touching me, if we even kissed...nothing. Just waking up, realizing we were having sex. I had him get off of me so I could go to the bathroom, then I came back to the bed...I think he may have laid with me there for awhile, but in the morning he was on his couch. I talked with him how I felt about it somewhat, how I didn't remember how it happened and he was never someone I had intended on sleeping with. He said details were fuzzy for him too, and maybe he shouldn't have driven. And that he had never seen me that way either. We agreed to pretend it had never happened.

We have so many mutual friends, and I really don't believe it was at all intentional...but I hate that I can't even feel safe having a close guy friend drive me home and/or take care of me anymore. I've told only one other person about this, a coworker who I knew had been assaulted before herself and would never be involved with him."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

This Girl's Sexual Assault

This girl was 10 years old in the 5th grade.
This girl lived in a tiny, old town on a quiet, little street.
This girl was the oldest of two living in small, single parent home.
This girl and her younger brother used to play with the three neighbor boys across the street every day. They weren't great friends, but they were all this girl and her brother had, so they played.
This girl's mother worked far away and long hours, so this girl helped raise her brother, only 19 months younger than she from the time she was 6 years old, when their parents divorced and their father moved away.

One Saturday in early spring in that 5th grade year, this girl and her brother were, as usual, playing with the neighbor boys; one older than she, one the same age, and the same age as her brother. The neighbor boys were large for their age; tall and powerful. The neighbor boys and she had their run-ins from time to time when they had attempted to bully this girl's brother and she protected him. But the neighbor boys were there and so they played. This day they played a game involving two teams. This girl's brother was on the other team, so this girl was left alone with the oldest of the neighbor boys and the one who was her age. This game involved crawling on the ground as one would on a military obstacle course to scoot over the ground fully prone. This girl was the only one on her team who took this position, though she didn't know it at the time. This girl discovered, too late, that the oldest boy was beside her, kneeling powerfully over her, jamming his hand between her legs and up into her very private crevice. This girl was assaulted. This girl's assault was watched by the other neighbor boy. This girl felt instantly alone, terrified, and humiliated. This girl spent her life learning from her family that emotions are wasteful and useless, so this girl brushed them off, moved his hand, and continued with the game, her head a mess and her innocence forever lost. This girl brushed it off another time as the neighbor boy again assaulted her and his brother watched. This girl and the neighbor boys went round and round like this several times, each time this girl broke a little more until finally she got up and went home.

This girl mustered up all the courage she could and said, "Paul [Paul Ring of Beaumont, CA] touched me." This girl was told to move with a tsk. This girl was dismissed. This girl was not believed. This girl was never the same again. This girl became this woman far too soon.

Today, this woman runs a parenting page on Facebook. Today, this woman posted a photo of another sexual assault - a very famous, beloved, and misunderstood photo.
Today, this woman relived that girl's sexual assault at the hands of dozens of commenters who doubted, didn't believe, and dismissed that assault. Today, this woman grieves. She grieves for that girl, for this woman, for that woman, for all the women and men in her world who both understand and do not understand, because something is wrong in their culture - the very much alive rape culture that so many are so quick to deny - when sexual assault is accepted as it was then and as it is today. Today, this woman changed. She does not know yet if it was for the better or worse. All this woman can hope is that someone else may have changed, too.

(To see the thread on the photo above, see https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=479052112126639&set=a.315627968469055.76743.309745955723923&type=1&theater¬if_t=photo_comment)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Diva Cup: The Ups, Downs, and Swear Words

My Diva Cup arrived fortuitously on the same day as my period. My innards are psychic.

Day 1:
Hate it. First of all, how the heck am I supposed to push it in? It flops open as soon as it gets in there which makes it all squishy and unpushable. I will prevail! Ok, maybe not. Now, how am I supposed to turn this thing?? It is slimy and gooey with my slime and goo and getting a grip on this sucker is impossible. I can tell I don't have it in right. My vaginal canal feels full and that just cannot be right. Dude...not happy.

Day 2:
The good news is it didn't leak overnight. The bad news is, I may scratch my vagina out. Why is it so itchy???? Off to battle this thing out and try again. May the force be with me.

Back from the bathroom:
Scratch that. Plenty o' leakage, just none managed to make it to the sheets luckily. My vagina is sore from all the digging. My tongue is sore from biting it instead of screaming my stream of choice swear words.

A friend recommends wearing a pad while I get used to this Satanic invention. This is a problem since: a) I loathe pads and haven't worn them since I got my very first period at 13, and b) I don't wear or even own any underwear, but that is for another post.

Dear Diva Cup,
I hate you with a fiery passion from the pit of my belly and the depths of my soul.
Not-So-Zen Mama

Dear Readers,
I must love you more than even I knew.

After yanking this ridiculous contraption out of my vagina about four different times today because I HATE IT, I finally decided to cut the stem. I left a little under 1/2 an inch. Let's see if that helps. It can't make it any worse, let me tell you. I also used the second suggestion for folding it for insertion. That actually did help a bit, because it felt like a Mack truck pulling in before.

Even later:
Cutting the stem made a HUGE difference. I no longer hate you, Diva Cup. It will take some time to get beyond the hatred I once so deeply felt, so I won't go as far to say anything other than I do not wish to burn in a fiery inferno you any longer.

Day 3:
Holy carnage, Batman! Last night, my son napped from 6:30-9:30 p.m, so he and I were in for a long night. Eventually, we both fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up at 5:30 this morning to move us into the bed, I knew something was wrong. I boobed him back to comfort and sneaked into the bathroom where I got the sight of my life. There was blood ALL over. I have discovered two things: 1) I am not a 12 hour kind of woman, and 2) my blood has anti-gravity powers. Seriously, there was blood up on my fat roll! How does that even happen??! Lessons learned. At the beginning of my period, no 12 hour stints for me. Also, I may want to look into joining the local Superhero Union, because I clearly have latent gifts. How they would be useful, I do not yet know, but I am sure I can figure it out.

After cleaning up the mess and creating what looked like a murder scene in the bathroom, I quickly threw this devilish monstrosity in again and went back to bed. Mistake #14859. Evidently, I didn't get it in there right, because an hour or two later, I coughed and out squirted another little gift. I was exhausted and in a hurry to get back to my snuggled slumber, so I tossed in a tampon and went back to bed.

Attempt #I-can't-even-count-anymore: so far so good. We shall see...

Let's talk poop. It says you can poop and pee without disturbing it. There must be some trick, because pooping makes it drop down and poke out. I guess chimichangas during my period are out now. However, if this is my biggest problem, things are looking up.

Day 4:
Methinks we've hit a homer here! I don't want to jinx it, so I'm keeping fairly quiet and trying not to think about it much (or sneeze, cough, or otherwise jiggle my insides). One thing that has really helped is spinning it before I get it all the way in. That was a no-go, as you saw on day 1. Doing it when it's still halfway out is MUCH easier and results in far less swearing under my breath.

Day 5:
And it's over. Phew! I made it. I survived, my vagina survived, and, most surprisingly, the Diva Cup survived.

Here's where I've landed on the subject so far: I ended up feeling fair to middling about it. I got better and better at is as time progressed and as I was able to practice more, so I imagine in another cycle or two, I'll have it down and will end up really liking it. I think I'll continue this review for another couple of months, but for now this is what you get.

I am not a big fan of something that is an acquired taste. I didn't like coffee the first time I tasted it, so I didn't keep tasting it. I didn't like salt and vinegar chips the first time I tried them, so why would I keep trying them? That's kind of where I am with this. I mean, I've committed to trying it for another two cycles, but I'm not honestly in love with the idea. I think it takes a lot of time, but I also think that I could solve that issue by getting another Diva Cup (or something similar...I'm considering a Me Luna). As it stands, I sit on the toilet, pull it out, dump it, put it in the sink, finish wiping myself up, get up, wash it out, sit back down, put it in, get back up, wash my hands again. It's just a little silly and time consuming. If I had a second, I could eliminate some steps and I'm all about streamlining.

I'm not drawing any hard and fast conclusions about it. Too many of you have said it takes time to get used to, so I'm reserving my final judgement for now. I'll update this as I go along, but for now, this is where I am: periods can be frustrating enough without adding to that frustration. I'm not sold...yet.

Round 2

Day 1:
Much easier to insert this time. About an hour after I put it in, I forgot I was even having my period. This is good news.

Day 2:
No leakage overnight (10 hours). Score one for Diva Cup. I do have to say, I really hate that stupid stem. What the heck is the point other than to irritate me and my vagina? I cut it completely off and both of us are much happier now.

Pooping remains a problem, as any time I do, I dislodge the cup. I don't have time to both poop and readjust. I'm a mom of a toddler. Pooping in and of itself is a luxury!

Day 3:
No issues whatsoever until I pinched my labia between my thumb and the cup as I spun it. I drew blood biting my tongue so as no to set my son's hair on end.

Day 4:
I don't know that I'll ever go as far as saying I love any feminine hygiene product, but I definitely no longer hate it and I like it better than tampons, the Instead cup, and certainly pads.

Round 2 Bottom Line:
I'm going to keep with it. I had absolutely no cramps, which normally I am afflicted with quite terribly. Huge plus in my book! The moisture level in my vaginal canal seems much better. Sometimes during that last day of my period with tampons, things feel mighty Sahara-like. With the cup, there's nothing sucking me dry. I feel like my vagina is happier without the bleached cotton torpedo up there all day.

So, ya, I'm going to keep at it. Like I said, I'm not on the "I love it!" train, like so many of you are, but I do feel the pros outweigh the cons. Final recommendation: get it, but be patient.

Round 3

I'll spare you the daily blow-by-blow and give you the summary, since not much has changed since the last round. Things came a little easier this time. I'm able to insert it with more efficiency and confidence. Having cut that stupid stem off makes things WAY better. I'd like to see them make a stemless option in the future. I still pinched the heck out of my labia one time when I was spinning it. Not a huge fan of that, let me tell ya. Pooping still pushes it out, but now I just kind of push it back in rather than remove it and start all over. One oddity that I've noticed over the last few months: when I have it in, I have to pee like a pregnant woman - frequently, urgently, and I never seem to get it all out. I did not enjoy pregnant peeing and dislike it when I'm not pregnant, too. A major plus is that my cramps, previously quite painful, are all but gone now. I can only attribute this to the cup and am likely to continue with it for that benefit alone.

I'm still not on the "I LOVE IT!" train, but I do feel like this is the lesser of all evils, so Diva Cup it is. Thus ends my Diva Cup blogging journey. I wonder what I should review next...

I recently had an ovarian cyst burst. Aside from pain that should've sent me to the ER (I will not be so stubborn next time), one of the side effects was that I can no longer wear my Diva Cup. I had just gotten to the point where the Diva Cup and I were friends and now my body rejects completely. Upsetting, to say the least. Thus, I will be changing to cloth pads as soon as I find a sewing pattern I think I can use.