Breathtaking

Blind_Justice_(2830780815)
By Tim Green from Bradford (Blind Justice) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The news out of Alaska shows that the public outrage over Brock Turner’s light sentence  (and similar cases) made no difference. It’s like they’re doubling down on letting these creeps off the hook.

“Judge Michael Corey accepted the deal, noting the outcome of the case could be described as ‘breathtaking.'”

Interesting word choice.

Justin Schneider was let off with time served. 1 year. Guidelines restricted sentencing to 2 years because they’d accepted sex offender treatment. They do this in order to get the cooperation of the offender. I hope it works. I am skeptical it will. I know the victim will spend years, if not the rest of her life, dealing with the fallout from the trauma. He changed her and she doesn’t get off with “time served.”

BREATHTAKING.

We trauma survivors often hold our breath, “Chronic breath holding and effortful breathing are not healthy because the muscular effort, coupled with the effects of stress on the nervous, hormonal, and immune systems, can impair both physical and psychological function.” It’s a classic symptom of PTSD and Complex PTSD. Breath taking indeed. She has a life sentence of coping with strangulation – he literally took her breath – kidnapping, and sexual assault. He lost his job. Okay, he has a felony on his record. The overconcern with what the attacker has to cope with as he goes on in life, well, that is breathtaking.

I was in a therapy group for women molested as children and the therapist who ran it was the first person to mention holding my breath as a symptom of what had happened to me. At the same time, I was taking improv and met Tamara Silvera, vocal coach and a distant cousin by way of our Jamaican dads. I worked with her with the added bonus that when we were in class at the now-defunct IO West, she could signal me when I was holding my breath. I did it a lot. Now I’m more aware of it. I still hold my breath when I write about what happened to me. I started writing before #MeToo and am feeling an increasing sense of urgency knowing first-hand how many cannot or will not tell their stories and very much want and need those of us who can tell ours to speak up.

The news cycles since October 7, 2016 and that infamous Access Hollywood tape have been a nightmare for anyone who has been sexually assaulted as an adult, as a child, or both. It got worse in October, 2017 with the Weinstein revelations. Coupled with the injustices from ignorant judges such as M Marc Kelly (Kevin Rojano-Nieto sodomized a 3 year old and Kelly cut 15 yrs off the mandatory minimum in 2015; the 4th District reversed the ruling & resentenced), Aaron Persky (recalled over Brock Turner), and Michael Corey in Alaska have caused immeasurable distress and despair from all of us who’ve suffered from sexual assault we’re now seeing in #WhyIDidntReport: “I say our, because I am included in this. When I read Trump’s tweet this morning, first I stopped breathing. When the most powerful person in the land denies your lived experience, it feels like someone punching you in the diaphragm.”

Blind justice is legal concept meant to point to neutrality when dispensing justice. Remember justice?

justice

n. 1) fairness. 2) moral rightness. 3) a scheme or system of law in which every person receives his/ her/its due from the system, including all rights, both natural and legal.

Moral rightness takes into account the effect the assault had on the victim, the sufferer. Fairness adheres to minimum sentencing requirements. There are strong indications we do not want a more just society, let alone a kinder one. But if we do, we’re going to have to fight harder for it, consider the victim’s POV, and have a much better understanding of trauma and its fallout. Because #TimesUp

What's brave?

brave, metoo, child abuse, rape
Photo by Leio McLaren via Unsplash

Another predator is exposed. This time it’s Harvey Weinstein. Stars are making statements. Some of these are thoughtful and reflective. Glenn Close says she’d heard the rumors and writes, “Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad.” Her entire statement is worth reading in the link above.

I’m having a difficult time with those who say they’re shocked. Harvey Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret in Hollywood and, sadly, not unusual. If someone working regularly in Hollywood is truly shocked, it shows they don’t notice those around them who are not in positions of power. I would ask them going forward to notice the expressions and postures on set, especially of women and children. I hope the way this is breaking wide open helps identify other predators, including the pedophiles, on film and TV sets. And the predators in other workplaces around the country.

Given the statistics of child molestation – depending on the source, 1 in 4 or 5 women (and 1 in 6-10 men) – and the number of Weinstein’s victims to date, it is likely that a percentage were molested as children. My issue with the language gushing over the bravery of the women coming forward is this: the victims with child abuse/incest in their background who do not come forward are also brave. Bravery for them, particularly after being re-traumatized, is what anyone else might consider “normal functioning.” Getting out of bed in the morning can be an act of enormous courage.

So yes, kudos to those who’ve come forward. We need them, especially Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie and others who have the clout to amplify the message. But let’s not forget those who’ve been hurt beyond measure who can’t or won’t go public out of self-protection, not so much for their public safety or career as for their own mental and emotional well-being.

  They are no less brave. 

Regarding the courage of the abused child, watch this interview: Arthur Miller totally got that about Marilyn Monroe: start at the 4:22 mark for the entire answer and 5:53 for the meat.

When the Access Hollywood tape came out, I had nightmares and recalled one incident in particular that I’d locked away in a closet in my mind. When I heard the audiotape of the NYPD sting of Weinstein, another came back. I am far from the only one. I’m seeing dozens of others on social media saying the same thing. It is a profoundly painful and disturbing experience to have these things resurface unbidden. These predators do not only hurt their victims, they affect most everyone else who has been molested and/or raped.

This is why I am writing my memoir. If you want to support that effort, you may do so here.

What’s brave?

brave, metoo, child abuse, rape
Photo by Leio McLaren via Unsplash

Another predator is exposed. This time it’s Harvey Weinstein. Stars are making statements. Some of these are thoughtful and reflective. Glenn Close says she’d heard the rumors and writes, “Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad.” Her entire statement is worth reading in the link above.

I’m having a difficult time with those who say they’re shocked. Harvey Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret in Hollywood and, sadly, not unusual. If someone working regularly in Hollywood is truly shocked, it shows they don’t notice those around them who are not in positions of power. I would ask them going forward to notice the expressions and postures on set, especially of women and children. I hope the way this is breaking wide open helps identify other predators, including the pedophiles, on film and TV sets. And the predators in other workplaces around the country.

Given the statistics of child molestation – depending on the source, 1 in 4 or 5 women (and 1 in 6-10 men) – and the number of Weinstein’s victims to date, it is likely that a percentage were molested as children. My issue with the language gushing over the bravery of the women coming forward is this: the victims with child abuse/incest in their background who do not come forward are also brave. Bravery for them, particularly after being re-traumatized, is what anyone else might consider “normal functioning.” Getting out of bed in the morning can be an act of enormous courage.

So yes, kudos to those who’ve come forward. We need them, especially Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie and others who have the clout to amplify the message. But let’s not forget those who’ve been hurt beyond measure who can’t or won’t go public out of self-protection, not so much for their public safety or career as for their own mental and emotional well-being.

  They are no less brave. 

Regarding the courage of the abused child, watch this interview: Arthur Miller totally got that about Marilyn Monroe: start at the 4:22 mark for the entire answer and 5:53 for the meat.

When the Access Hollywood tape came out, I had nightmares and recalled one incident in particular that I’d locked away in a closet in my mind. When I heard the audiotape of the NYPD sting of Weinstein, another came back. I am far from the only one. I’m seeing dozens of others on social media saying the same thing. It is a profoundly painful and disturbing experience to have these things resurface unbidden. These predators do not only hurt their victims, they affect most everyone else who has been molested and/or raped.

This is why I am writing my memoir. If you want to support that effort, you may do so here.