Monthly Archives: September 2018

Cosby,Trump, Kavanaugh, and Rape Culture

The first time I was sexually violated was when I was around 6 years old.

 

Growing up my parents made SURE I knew where people SHOULD NOT touch me and what was inappropriate. I always thought this type of conversation went on in EVERY household and that I was instantly immune from the negative emotions and repercussions that came along with “being touched down there”. BOY OH BOY was I wrong.

Hearing and reading the various reactions to the Bill Cosby verdict this week have me reflecting on my experience with sexual abuse and misconduct. While I was never violated by a family member or neighbor, my first sexually inappropriate encounter was at the hands of my 7-year-old classmate. I remember how confused, scared, helpless I felt as he and his friends circled mine that day on the playground. I remember being shoved down to the ground as he got on top of me. I remember squirming as he simulated sex all while trying his best to put his hands down my panties. Thankfully I was able to get away before he could succeed. I remember running back to school, dirty from being held down in the gravel and being scolded by my teacher for getting back to class late.

When you are sexually violated (whether you experience some actual sex or not) it messes with you. You ask yourself a million questions and try to make sense of what happened — even as a child. Did you say something to make them mad? Did you do something wrong? Did you in any way make yourself open to this act and make the violator think it was okay?!

You don’t automatically process “oh I should tell someone”. You try to figure things out in your mind and decide how you are going to move forward.

This is what makes me annoyed and upset with people who have made negative remarks about the accusers of Bill Cosby and even Brett Kavanaugh. TRUTH: some women and men who cry rape cry falsely. TRUTH: most of them are telling the truth.

I remember going home that night and having a debate with myself — to tell someone or not to tell? I felt nasty and too embarrassed to tell my parents outright, so I was happy when my babysitter Sabrina Thompson asked me that night how my day was as she was helping me get ready for bed. My nerves were on 10,000 when I finally hinted that something was wrong. If you know Sabrina, you know she doesn’t take mess and is unapologetically bold. I’m so thankful for her persistence that night because I told her what happened and how “a boy jumped on top of me.” I still remember her face — now that I’m an adult I know why it was fixed the way it was — she was ready to jump into action; but she probably recognized that I was honestly afraid and was able to reel herself back in and calmly explain why what happened to me was wrong….. why she needs to tell my parents. At the time she was in 9th or 10th grade by the way.

CAN YOU SAY MATURE!!?!?

Even though she convinced me she wouldn’t tell my parents, she eventually did and I’m so glad. Later that week they sat me down and talked with me about what happened and answered questions I had. Because they knew the truth, they were able to truly put me at ease and I was able to continue my childhood with few lingering effects.

Like the Bill Cosby victims, all victims of sexual trauma aren’t blessed enough to have a ‘Sabrina’ to step in when fear has stifled our own courage.  Even though I was unfortunately sexually assaulted again later in life, I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that I would be one messed up chick if I hadn’t had Sabrina’s help the first time in speaking out. If she would have not told my parents and allowed me to stay silent, I would have stayed in the bad headspace I was in and probably try to deal with the trauma myself. A child’s mind isn’t set up for that. No one is really.

While I can honestly admit, that first assault still has had some negative effects on my life, my life is richer and healthier than it could have been all because I was able to tell the truth and have a compassionate ear to listen.

Like you, I plan to keep an eye on what happens with each of these #MeToo and assault cases and take note of comments like Donald Trump’s . I know that the world has a long way to go and things are not going to get better overnight. It’s up to us to really HEAR one another and support one another instead of immediately resorting to jokes and harsh criticisms — you never know what victim you may be pushing into hiding.

 

  • Joc

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The Lesson I Learned From A Butterfly

A butterfly is a multifaceted creature. The way it’s born, the way it blossoms into adulthood, and the way it floats on into its last phase of life is all one transient mystery. Dozens of people I know adopt butterflies as a symbol a loved one’s spiritual presence. “OH did you see that butterfly just then?! They must be watching us!” The butterfly is swift yet peaceful all at once.
oThis past Saturday I walked into a hospice facility with my grandmother. My parents and I took her to the coast to visit her best friend in LIFE who was nearing death. Upon entering the main hall, we were greeted by butterflies. Not just one either! The entire wing was flooded with butterfly accents. I immediately took notice but was too caught up in my own selfishness to recognize what these butterflies were trying to teach me. You see, due to some personal conflicts, I haven’t been able to get down to the beach area in YEARS and had already decided that I was going to make my way down to the shore after this ‘quick’ little visit with Grandma. While I was spiritually praying for my grandmother’s strength and her best friends’ family, I was also anxiously checking the clock, becoming more disappointed as the seconds slipped into the next hour.
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As my mother and I sat comforting my grandmother, my dad quickly whisked out of the room and into the main hallway. Saturday was also the birthday of his late baby brother who died in January of this year. As I peered out the doorway, contemplating if I should run out and hug my dad or give him some space, I noticed a gigantic wire butterfly hanging on the wall above him. It was then that I began listening to what the butterfly was trying to teach me all along. It was then that I completely threw out my beach plans and began to totally focus on supporting the one person that needed my support the most — my grandmother. My selfish ambitions of taking a dip in the sea melted away and the power of love filled up every space of my consciousness.
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Fast forward to yesterday morning. My mom preached at her childhood church for their homecoming celebration and even though we had grandma’s best friend in our hearts, we were happy and able to enjoy ourselves. Things were blissful up until the announcement was made at the end of service that my grandma’s friend had died just minutes prior. My grandmother WEPT. She just wept.
As service ended, and as everyone got up, laughing and chatting (as church folk normally do) I sat there beside my grandmother and consoled her. She let the full weight of herself rest on my shoulder. As people were trying to have small talk, TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS to her pain, the lesson of the butterfly came back to mind.
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The butterfly with its complexities is one of the most beautiful creatures you will ever see. It doesn’t make much noise, but with the flutter of its wings — its presence is still felt. While its lifespan isn’t terribly long, it gracefully transitions wherever God takes it. Like the butterfly, my grandmother’s friend went quietly to the place where God was taking her and left a lasting impact by way of the precious moments my grandma was able to spend with her prior to her death. If we wouldn’t have been in town THIS weekend and if we would have gone to the beach and said “we’ll just see Mrs.Eloise tomorrow”, my grandmother wouldn’t have had time with her real-life butterfly before she transitioned.
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Lesson completed. What was the lesson: that like the butterfly, humans are transitory creatures wonderfully made by God yet awfully complexed.  We swiftly transition from birth to adolescence to adulthood and the afterlife almost as mysteriously as we came to be. Compared to eternity, our lives aren’t long at all so each peaceful moment of love should be cherished. Sure there is nothing wrong with wanting to do things for ourselves at times, but when compared to basking in creating memories of love — there is no comparison.
God has humbled me once again and left me in awe of His sovereignty and majesty. This weekend was not ‘luck’. These were not some random series of events selected by the ‘universe’. El Elyon, The Most High God divinely orchestrated each detail of our trip down to the date we chose to visit because He KNEW my grandmother needed that last day with her best buddy; and THROUGH this weekend, He has allowed me to grow once more by teaching me a lesson in love with a simple butterfly.
Be blessed and love more ya”ll,
– Joc

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