Dear Fierce Ones,
This blog post is contains some pretty explicit and graphic details that were hidden under a blanket of shame for nearly 40 years.
My husband Avery began his dysfunctional coping mechanisms from the time he was quite young.
When you grow up in extremely abusive conditions…it leaves it mark upon you. It leaves you with scars. It leaves you with coping skills and patterns, or rather… lack thereof. It leaves you with anger and rage.
My first years of marriage to Avery have been incredible in terms of the bonds we have formed, the intimacy we have shared and the work we have done in our lives. We are more in love today than ever…But, it has also been a rough road, because I married a very wounded person. I married a man who would suddenly fly into rages and even though his anger was rarely directed at me, it was not pleasant to be around. The kids were scared of him, and when he drank alcohol…it got worse. I had seen hints of bad behavior before we got married…but afterwards…it got worse. The honeymoon period was essentially over before it even started. He lost his job. I became the only person earning money. In addition to that, he began to smoke marijuana on a daily basis…multiple times a day.
We talked about this stuff. All of it. I faced it with a fierceness I have never known before and we worked through it all and it was tough. There were many times when I wanted to kick him to the curb, and I did just that.
Once. He and the kids loaded up the truck and drove…AWAY.
I felt relief and deep sadness and at the same time I SET MY BOUNDARIES.
He got the message that I loved him, but I was not going to live this way. He had to change or I was going to divorce him.
Daily, we fought our way through the mess of dysfunction and chaos and abusive behaviors that threatened to destroy our marriage completely. It took all the strength that I had. It took all the strength that he had and finally we have made it to the other side.
In the beginning…love is blind.
In the end…love is the guiding force to overcoming what we are blind to in the beginning.
I knew Avery had it rough as a child when I met him. He told me about it. Not everything at first…but enough to know it was bad. Here is the root cause of his anger and rage, told in his own words as part of his healing journey…Grab some Kleenex.
This is my story and I will start by thanking Adam Roa (the art of choosing love) for having the courage and integrity to start this. It is on now. It's giving me the strength to muster the courage I needed to be able to tell my story about my brother and my dad and our struggles with anger and abuse. I especially want to thank my beautiful amazing wife and my soul mate Stacie. Without her, I would not be on this healing path. This abuse has plagued me for forty years and now I'm done numbing and hiding from it. I can't hold any one else accountable for my reactions to what happened to me…except myself.
I'm going to get choked up and cry but I'm not apologizing because I'm not ashamed. NOT any more. I'm stronger for it. We hurt ourselves more by trying to escape the abuse, the anger and emotional pain. I shamed myself, I physically hurt my already spiritual hurting heart to escape the pain of sexual and physical abuse and betrayal given from my brother and father. I do not know how many beers, bottles of booze, cigarettes and joints I have consumed to try and forget. I transmuted my pain into anger and it is now time to stop. This is ruining men and is affecting our culture in a very negative way. Our strength needs to be in healing and not in hiding in denial or shame. No more hiding and running from it.
We're here to help each other. We can not do this journey alone and we are not alone. I need y'all, and y'all need me. We need each other, for there is strength in numbers. Do you really think burying this abuse in anger, drugs and alcohol is being strong? In believing this we are all lying to our selves as the true strength is found in the truth. Yes, this happened, but now what?
What are we as men going to do about it?
Do we run and hide?
We must be brave, be strong and stop running, and face our demons together. All of me gives love to this tribe, our tribe of men and women dedicated to stop the abuse, the generational curses, failed marriages and cycles of abuse. I'm ending this for the men in my family.
Enough is enough.
I lost my brother to this, he died cold and alone. He was hit by a car, whether an accident or suicide I'll never know. There were times I was glad he was dead because of what he did to me, and there were times I cried because I never got to say goodbye. To this day I miss him and hate him simultaneously. I lost my brother and even though my father is still alive he's lost to me. My light and my talents have been hidden by this, we pass these on from father to son just like we pass on skills. We pass anger, hatred and pain unknowingly and it's time to stop the generational curses.
The only place I felt safe was at old man Don's house (another story I'll share,) he took care of me, he never hurt me or lied to me. He taught me how to fix and make things.
He gave me worth.
I remember the first time my brother sexually abused me. I remember saying to him NO! I remember him continuing anyway and him making me give him oral sex and how he choked me. I remember how painful it was when he sodomized me. I remember sitting on the toilet afterwards and watching the water turn red because blood was dripping from my bottom. I told my dad, but he did nothing, no talking, no counseling, nothing.
I felt completely abandoned and ashamed.
I remember the sexual abuse and that is what damaged me, that is what I'm healing from right now.
Well I'm not going to hide anymore and I'm not going to be ashamed and I'm not going to numb it with drugs and alcohol. I'm not going to turn my back on the other men in this world who are suffering and who need my help. This is the art of choosing love, this is part of belonging to a tribe and taking on a responsibility that's greater than I am. This is my crusade now and I'm pledging my heart and my life to helping those that I can if they're willing to accept it.
I was recently down in Mexico for vacation and I met a man at the pool. He was in town to perform in a rap show in Playa del Carmen. We started talking and somehow the conversation gravitated toward the subject of abuse and we talked about how the men in both cultures have have been weakened to the point of being abusive themselves. I shared with him that I was sexually abused and he came right back and said that he was sexually abused also and both of the men that abused us were family members. For me it was my brother, for him it was his uncle.
I have realized that men like us can come together and talk about this terrible thing. I know other men that are really hurting, they're raging and crying and suffering inside. They can release it too, they just need our strength, they need our support they need to know that there are other men out there and they are healing and they're willing to help. This is my #metoo.
As men were taught not to cry or show vulnerable emotions because it is weak, you feel less than, or you are not a man. I have come to learn that crying and actually showing vulnerability and becoming vulnerable yourself is true strength. It is letting go.
We are like a balloon that is over-inflated, stretched to our capacity and ready to burst. Crying and showing vulnerability, finding someone who has been there and letting it out helps us deflate it. It helps us release and it requires true strength and courage.
While writing this I've heard a voice that told me to "BE QUIET," it scared me and I'm not sure where it came from. I've felt this negative presence before, hindering me from becoming who I need to be. However I'll assure you that I'm not afraid and I'm not going to be silenced anymore. I'm strong and I'm not hiding my talents and strengths from the world. I'm an artist. I hand craft didgeridoo's from agave stalks from the desert. I weld steel sculptures and make custom gates. I don't call contractors or repair men. I do it all myself. From remodeling an entire house to fixing my own septic system.
I love growing my own food and feeding my family. I love trimming one hundred foot tall trees and swinging from branch to branch with a chain saw. About the only thing I can't do is carry a tune or play an instrument, but I've never put my mind to those things.
I AM STRONG,
I AM NOT ASHAMED,
I AM ENOUGH,
I AM LOVED AND LOVING...
Sexual abuse is extremely prevalent in our society. It has been denied, it has been secret, it has been ignored and it has happened to 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men. It is time to heal ourselves from this ongoing horror.
We are all affected by this. Our society as a whole. Our culture. Our relationships with ourselves and each other. It is difficult to talk about. It is shameful to talk about. It conjures up images in our minds and rage within our souls at the injustice, at the pain, and at the damage left in its wake.
My daughter is in high school and she recently did an essay on rape culture. The stats are pretty horrifying.
Here it is.
Rape culture is a concept in which rape is normalized due to social concepts about gender and sexuality. Rape is an unlawful sexual activity and usually carried out forcibly or against a person's will according to Webster's dictionary. Rape is commonly forced on a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception. Something not talked about as much in rape culture is that men can also be victims of rape but because of how the social construct works it is seen as weak and that's why more women speak on the topic then men, but men still get raped.
Rape culture is excusing rape. Rape culture is when men and women are scared of coming out, it is when rape is considered 20 minutes of action, when gray rape is justified and when No doesn't mean No.
Examples of rape culture include…
Blaming the victim by saying “She asked for it.” “You lead him on.”
Excusing sexual assault “Boys will be boys” or “She's just a girl”
Sexually explicit jokes,
Tolerance of sexual harassment,
Pressure on men to score and pressure on women to not appear cold,
Normalities like women are known as submissive and men are known as dominant,
Teaching women how to avoid getting raped instead of telling men not to rape,
Assuming only “weak” men get raped, and refusing to take rape accusations seriously…
all of the above as stated by Marshall University.
If people have said or done any of these things then these people are apart of the rape culture epidemic and the reason men and women are terrified of admitting to being raped.
Why are men and women terrified of admitting to being raped?
It's because of rape culture.
The culture excuses rape and its accusations so people who are victims of rape are terrified of coming out. The New York Times did an article on a rapist who was sentence to 6 months of jail and here is what the press and public has to say about it “A recall effort against a California judge was announced on Monday in a sexual assault case at Stanford University that ignited public outrage after the defendant was sentenced to a mere six months in jail and his father complained that his son’s life had been ruined for “20 minutes of action” fueled by alcohol and promiscuity.” They are excusing his actions because he was under the influence and claimed “20 minutes of action” should not be as excessive as a 6 month sentence.
20 minutes of action can give someone a lifetime of mental issues,
20 minutes can ruin a person's trust
20 minutes can tear someone down forever.
Mostly women are speaking up and getting turned down for telling their truth. An excuse for rape accusations used in court trials frequently is gray rape. Stated by Wikipedia…
Gray rape is sex for which consent in unclear, no knowledge or confusion of the unlawful act.
Gray rape is usually because of drug use weather this drug use was purposeful or proposed on them like being roofied or getting offered more of the drug. Because of gray rape accusations cases cannot be prosecuted. This is heartbreaking for a rape victim and a next step up for the rapist.
One of the most upsetting parts about rape and rape culture is the statistics. 97% of rapist never spend a single day in jail. These rapists should be considered criminals. 1 in 5 American women will have survived rape and 1 in 7 men will have suffered from rape.
Think about those 500 facebook friends.
81% of women and 35% of men suffer from mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, PTSD after rape occurs.
An hour of suffering can amount to a lifetime. Statistics show that 51.1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner, being partners with someone doesn't mean they don't have to ask first. And the worst of it all, is that 63% of sexual assaults are not reported, 63% of perpetrators have not suffered the pain they insured, as stated in an article by NSVRC.
Rape culture is masked by excuses, its when the victim is asked “Why didn't you say no”, It is when survivors are asked “Were you drinking”, it is when victims are scared of telling the truth, it is when survivors are asked “What they were wearing”, It is when people feel bad for the rapist, and it is when
No doesn't always mean No.
Respect always and
I like how she ended this essay.
I don’t know about you…but I personally know several people who have been raped. My husband was raped repeatedly. Other people that I am close to have shared their stories of sexual abuse with me. As a nurse…I have heard even more stories of rape and sexual abuse. The cost of this issue is beyond measure. It seeps into every aspect of our lives and our culture.
I say ENOUGH.
It is time to fight. For ourselves. For our future. For a world where rape culture is found only in the history books and we shake our heads at how it was once such a problem in society.
For me…the fighting is done first in my own life and in my own family. Then…through my words. Through my story, through my husbands’ story and through sharing the stories of others and what to do NOW.
The fighting is done through no longer excusing the fallout and continued dysfunctional patterns of anger and rage and numbing…but rather through tears, and sharing, acceptance of the past, releasing of the past and lots of healing hugs. The fighting is done through forgiveness and grace. Through letting go of the past and moving into a new life. Forming new habits. New ways of managing the pain. Not managing the pain, but actually…HEALING IT. Letting it go. Yes…we are left with the scars…but the scars no longer hurt as they did when we were freshly wounded and bleeding.
You have survived it.
You already survived the horror and terror and shame and ALL THAT SHIT.
HOWEVER… If you continue to pick and lick your wounds…causing them to continuously fester and never heal…they infect your life with poisonous toxins that infects not only you..but the people in your life that you love and care about most…the ones closest to you.
If you lose them…you lose everything that matters.
My fiercest fight is to teach us all that it is possible to empower ourselves to move forward and then reach back…not with regret and shame or anger and revenge…but with helping hands for the others…the ones who haven’t been able to let go and heal…YET.
The first step for me was AWARENESS. I had to become self aware and see beyond the simple situation and what the deep rooted issue really was.
So many times as human beings we get caught up in the situation and simply react…we don’t see or understand what is really happening. We forget that we are not each other’s enemy. We are all in this together because we are all inextricably connected. We need to be here for each other and we will figure it out.
The second step for me was to decide ENOUGH was ENOUGH.
I admit that for my entire life…I was an enabler, an excuser of bad behavior…I allowed a lot of shitty habits into my life, from myself and from others. WHY? Because I always had knowledge of the pain driving the bad behavior and I excused it. “He was abused as a child” is a really great excuse for anger. RIGHT?
Of course it is..and of course that is how my husband managed his pain and rage at the abusive situation as a child…but when that becomes your management style…it becomes your habit, and it becomes who you are. We literally are our habits and lets’ be real…
Angry people are usually ASSHOLES, and Enablers are usually VICTIMS. That has been an ongoing chapter in the story of my life, but not anymore. I am taking my life back and writing a new chapter by choosing a different way now.
Hurt people…Hurt people.
We are like animals caught in a trap…when anyone comes near…we snarl…we bite…we growl…because we are caught in a trap and it HURTS and we don’t know how to get out of it, OR we don’t want to release the trap out of fear that we will hurt even worse than we already are. Or we deny that we are even in a trap…Everything is FINE! Right? It’s all good.
But what if…you are stuck in a trap of your own thinking, your own habits, your own dysfunctional patterns and behaviors?
What if you are sick of it?
What if you have had enough?
What if someone comes along who is able to help release you?
What if releasing the trap hurts a little…but then you are set FREE?
Are you willing to release?
Are you willing?
It really is a choice that only you can make.
You have a choice about how you respond daily…minute by minute…and it is never too late to start changing. Every minute is a new opportunity to start living your life in a new way.
Choose love…for yourself. Choose to have a heart so filled with love for yourself that it obliterates all shame, all rage, all sorrow, all regret, all pain, all of the SHIT that you have gone through, all of the mistakes, all of the suffering.
Nourish your body and your mind with positive thoughts, plans, and habits.
See yourself as that child you once were…and still are…and LOVE YOURSELF,
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF,
FORGIVE YOURSELF and
FORGIVE THE ONES THAT HURT YOU.
We are responsible for our own happiness.
We are responsible for taking care of ourselves.
We are responsible for our actions.
NO ONE ELSE.
Choose your future…NOW.
As I write this now, today…I will tell you that we have come so far…and we will continue. Never do we “arrive”…we continuously reach forward striving towards excellence…or we reach back with helping hands to support each other. We only become better.
We have decided to share our story in the hope that you will be inspired to fight fiercely to become better. To become the hero of your own story. To become the person you always wanted to be.
Vulnerable and Free.
Find Your Fierce
Take the journey
Works cited women’s center, 2019, April 1 2019 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Google dictionary, 2019, April 1 2019 6, Google dictionary, 2019, April 1 2019, 7 Wikepedia “culture” 2019
Definition of culture
8 Wikepedia “rape” 2019 Definition of rape 9 “Rape culture is real” march 27, 2014, What rape culture is 10, 11,12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
march 10,2014 Everyday examples of rape culture 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25