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22 May 2023 @ 02:22 pm
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11 October 2014 @ 05:15 pm
"No one is ever free until they tell the truth about themselves and the life into which they've been cast. Write it down; tell it to a friend in need, or a stranger who needs diversion. We are all here to be a witness to something, to be of some aid and direction to other people."--Tennessee Williams/Interview with James Grissom/1982/
On Deciding What Counts: Elizabeth Ellen and What Makes A Victim

Mallory Ortberg responds to a victim-blaming essay by Elizabeth Ellen regarding two recent stories of rape and statutory rape in the literary community. (see for more background.)


"The first time I said No, the first time I turned my head away, the first time I crossed my arms over my chest and walked away, the first time I said “What are you doing?”, the first time I displayed a clear and obvious distaste for what was being done to me rather than with me should have been enough. That expectation — that the person saying No should be prepared at any moment to fight someone else off – is an undue burden."


I would argue that if a person has committed rape; if a person has sought to overwhelm and override the will of another person in order to physically and emotionally dominate them, then bringing the rape to light is in fact the best possible thing that can happen to that rapist. It is better to bring rape to light then to hide it. It is better to apologize for a crime committed against another person than to try to pretend it never happened. You cannot apologize until after it has been acknowledged that you did something wrong. You cannot be redeemed until you have admitted you need redeeming. You cannot move on before you pay for something. Someone’s life can never be ruined because they were forced to publicly acknowledge that they committed rape.

You can ruin your own life when you rape someone else. You have ruined your own life from the inside out.

I do believe that it is possible for many people — for most people — to be redeemed for what they have done wrong. But forgiveness cannot come first. Forgiveness can never come before the hard work of acknowledging, of atoning, of apologizing, of enduring punishment, of changing.

see also, for definition of sexual assault and consent:
05 October 2014 @ 03:44 pm
18 years ago I gave David a card that asked him if he would be interested in dating me. I was too shy to ask in person. The next day we met at Erik's Deli and talked for hours. Eventually we got engaged and in 1998 we were married. We have the ups and downs of any married couple with illness and accidents and job losses.

I will not claim that we are a perfect couple. One thing I will say, we try always to be kind and respectful and I think that's helped us avoid the bitterness that can creep into relationships when people don't feel they are being treated well.

I think kindness builds up a reservoir of goodwill that helps you through the hard times.
22 September 2014 @ 04:44 pm
I'm in migraine mode so I can't do an intro that would really reflect how important this post I'm linking to is. If you've ever had questions about boundaries, being a good ally or felt dissatisfied with how your own allies interact with you, this might clear up some things for you. It's a really comprehensive discussion of boundaries.
09 September 2014 @ 04:18 am
Why Don't You Just Leave That Jerk?

by Tapati McDaniels

"Why don't you just leave that jerk?"

Haven't most of us thought or said this when we've heard a battered women's story? It seems so simple, doesn't it? Just leave, and you won't suffer anymore. Just leave, and your problems will be solved. What do you see in him (or her) anyway? Can't you see what a jerk he (or she) is?

I admit, I've thought the same things and bit my tongue more than once to keep from saying them. I have reminded myself many times that a little over 15 years ago*, those things could have been said about me. It is the perspective of my own recovery from battering that keeps me from preaching the just-leave gospel to battered women. I remember how it was, and how those words would have shut me off from avenues of support that I desperately needed.

Behind those words is a judgment, the judgment of all would-be fixers. "I can live your life better than you could; I have all the answers and you are too feeble, too simple-minded to ever figure it out without my help." The condescension inherent in "codependency" is almost never recognized.

The fact is, we can't make those choices or learn those lessons for someone else. The revised version of the twelve steps written for Codependency Anonymous begins, "We admitted we were powerless over others..."

The root of this desire to fix is a need to stop the pain of watching someone suffer. We don't do it for the battered woman. If we asked ourselves what she really needs, we might see that she needs time and space to find solutions for herself.

In my own case, I was a young woman with very low self-esteem when I met my ex-husband. He soon saw to it that what little self-esteem I had was extinguished by his verbal abuse in the form of relentless criticism. When I became pregnant with my son, his physical abuse increased in severity and frequency--which is not uncommon.

I first tried to leave him when my son was six months old. I had friends in another state that would take me in until I found a place to live. I had never lived alone, but I tried to make myself go through with it. I got as far as leaving with my stuff, but in the night before my scheduled plane flight I was suddenly filled with terror at the thought of being on my own with a child to support in a place I had never seen. I couldn't go through with it. I returned home, to the familiar, to the known.

Things were better for a brief time and then the abuse escalated again. I was pregnant with my daughter when an incident happened that I felt could have threatened her life. Again I left, this time for a local friend's home. I stayed there until I found someone to share an apartment with. I was surprised my husband didn't try to abuse me when he visited the kids, as he'd said he would kill me if I left. I guessed it was hard to tell which men really meant that and which were just making idle threats.

Eventually I was lured back by my husband's continued good behavior and promises that he'd learned his lesson. I think it's important to understand that most batterers are not brutal 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They'd be easy to leave if that were the case.

I think of abusers as being like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Dr. Jekyll can be very, very nice and considerate. Mr. Hyde can be terrifying indeed, but seems like an aberration. The wife thinks of Dr. Jekyll as being the real person, the person she fell in love with. An important part of the process a battered woman goes through is learning that these two are inseparable and that she's never going to have one without the other (unless he does a great deal of hard work in therapy).

For over a year, after I returned, he did not hit me even once. However, the verbal abuse continued, and he would storm through the apartment and throw things, yelling and stomping around in a threatening way. The implication was that if I didn't do what he wished, it would be me next--bouncing off the wall.

I remained on guard with him, not entirely trusting his good intentions. It was during this period that I began to read a lot about battering and about becoming assertive. The seeds of my independence were being planted.

When he began abusing me again, I left and took our two children back to my family in Iowa. This was a last resort for me, since my family was also verbally abusive and manipulative.

I relented enough to tell him I might return if he got it together financially (we were homeless), and we corresponded. I had my independence, but with the illusion that we were still officially a couple. I guess it was sort of like riding a bike with training wheels.

He visited me in Iowa for a few months and I got to compare living with him to living without him. I began to consciously weigh the benefits of each. I realized the only concrete benefit of him being there was free babysitting.

I also realized that even if it were true, as he often told me, that no one else would want to marry me--I would be much happier living alone than living with him.

It took a few months to come to this conclusion after he left for the west coast, and it was very much an internal process. I did not discuss it with anyone, and from outside it may have appeared that I was as dependent upon him as ever. Nevertheless there came a day when I was able to write the letter to him that freed me forever from the life of abuse I had led. Knowing that I had given the marriage every chance to succeed, I was never haunted by doubts or guilt about its end.

Recovery does not stop with the act of leaving the abuser. I had to learn how to rebuild my self-esteem from the ground up, and I would say that I continue to recover to this day. I see it as a life-long process.

What does a battered woman need from her supporters? She needs for them to be willing to honor the ups and downs of her process, to be reminded from time to time that she does not deserve abuse, that she is worthy of love and respect, and to provide the assistance she requests when she is ready to leave, no matter how many times she goes back.

*Published 1994 in La Gazette
04 August 2014 @ 04:35 pm
We spent all day yesterday at our future home, cleaning, moving stuff out, getting our new stove and dishwasher delivery and other prep for Saturday's move. I did some pre-cleaning with serious chemicals to eradicate mold and mineral deposits so today I'm really congested. Tuesday the cleaners will work on making it safer for me to live there by concentrating on the worst of the mold and grime and Friday the carpet, upholstery tile and grout cleaners come. Hoping it is habitable by Saturday! I think some areas will need paint very soon, though, to seal away whatever mold spores burrowed into the painted stucco walls.

I am trying to focus on the coolest aspects like new appliances and vintage light fixtures.


These are in the bedrooms. I scored a vintage Kitchen Aid mixer yesterday, left behind by Dave's grandma Helen. I had just been looking at a chart of the different mixers the day before, trying to figure out why the Artisan was so much more expensive than the Classic. :)

Saturday I did something really stupid and got a mild concussion. OUCH! You would think that being on blood thinners would make me more careful. SMH at myself. At least the ER trip was mercifully brief.
31 July 2014 @ 04:33 am
I'm sad that it's so difficult to talk about what's happening between Israel and Palestine right now without bending into a verbal pretzel to not seem insensitive to those hurt on either side or to be taking sides or not on the "right" side. I'd like to be on the "side" of peace and mutual respect, nonviolence and ending oppression. I'm on the "side" of people not being killed, mutilated, bombed, having infrastructure destroyed or losing their families. I'm ultimately on the side of the entire human race growing up.

I am heartened that there are people in both Israel and Palestine who feel the same way and work towards peace, even if they don't always prevail.
Therapists, Patients Criticize Kaiser Over Long Delays for Therapy


One Kaiser therapist from a Northern California facility described similar concerns. She wants to remain anonymous out of fear for her job. She is unnerved by the common practice of steering patients into groups instead of individual therapy sessions.

“I feel unethical when I go home at night, and feel really guilty,” she said. “People are suffering, and I fear some of my patients will commit suicide for lack of ongoing treatment, but I’m powerless to treat them because I don’t have return visits available.”

Another therapist who worked at a South Bay Kaiser says she quit her position earlier this year because she considered the treatment of patients there “unethical.”

“Patients that need individual therapy are not getting it,” she said. “We had to tell patients we offer group therapy. … The patients that are the most severely mentally ill are the ones that can’t speak up for themselves, and the ones who get lost in the system. With the Affordable Care Act, we’re seeing more and more of those patients.”

ETA See also

The controversy picked up steam recently when Zane said she will use the 2011 suicide of her husband while under the care of Kaiser’s Santa Rosa psychiatric department, plus her role in approving Kaiser’s contract with the county, to push for changes.

Zane informed me that she told Kaiser, “I have personal tragedy, political power and a national debate on the failure to provide mental health services all on my side — and I’m going to use all three of them.“