CHAOS OF THE WORLD’S TRAUMA, SHAME, AND PAIN

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When the ‘Me Too’ campaign went viral, some people spoke up just to say that the anger of the women coming forth made them uncomfortable. They felt bullied, and that they’d done nothing wrong. Women were dismissed (by some) with counterarguments, justification, comparisons, etc. None of that makes what we are saying less true, but it’s clear that certain people don’t want to hear or accept what’s being said.

I support the “Me too” campaign because people are talking and listening. I want to weigh in, not because I want anyone to feel bad for me or what’s happened to me, but because I want to advocate for awareness. If speaking up helps anyone at all, then it’s worth it. Shame not only keeps us from talking ; it keeps us from listening. It keeps the culprits or would-be culprits from acknowledging their mistakes. Nothing changes.

It’s sad but true; we are conditioned to feel ashamed. Some people even fear to go to the doctor for problems having to do with private body parts. I’ve seen that over and over. People are ashamed of their bodies and how they work. People can even die because of shame.

Not only do they hide behind their shame; they take on the shame of others. Like their family members, their gender, their ethnic group or race, their religion. Here is my motto, if I didn’t do it, I don’t have to get defensive over the people who did. I just have to listen to the heartache and the grief. I have to want to understand, and I have to do what I can do to help fix it.

Indeed, shame has kept us from believing and supporting each other. I’ve heard, “Well it never happened to me, so why would it happen to you?” People start comparing and justifying.

They don’t get that it has more to do with being vulnerable in the moment than being attractive, or that vulnerability alone is attractive.

It’s particularly disheartening when women join in the chorus of saying that someone may have been asking for it. Rape means there was no legitimate consent, so nobody asks for it. There are no circumstances where anyone deserves rape, and that includes prison. I don’t care who you are.

As for the counterarguments:

“Men are also sexually harassed and abused.”

“Women can be predatory, too, and often their harassment or abuse is not questioned.”

Yes, it is unacceptable and appalling that anyone would dismiss male rape and abuse or expect men to suck it up or enjoy it. That’s just bullshit.

I agree, too, there is no limit to the amount of damage some people, male or female, are willing to do to your psyche, to your reputation, to your body, and to your soul.

The thing is, if someone of either gender were to come to me and tell me they were harassed or abused, I would listen. I would give that person the benefit of the doubt. I would feel empathy and offer validation, support, or comfort. I wouldn’t sit in silence, attempt to dispute their claims or get defensive because, hell, I am a woman, too, and I don’t do that. Nor do you need to justify to me that you felt threatened or abused. I will not dismiss you. I won’t stand for your being mocked. And I’d like to think many others feel the same way I do.

I’m thinking back now, and it’s hard to remember every single incident of sexual assault and harassment in my life. There were many.

I escaped two rape attempts by fighting and getting away. Another time, I fought and lost. I was groped on the street twice. One of those times, the guy told me if I didn’t like it, I shouldn’t wear a tank top. Not that it matters, but it was over ninety degrees. He followed me for blocks taunting me, and no one did a thing. For the rest of the summer, on workdays, no matter how freaking hot it was, I wore a jacket when I went out to lunch. I was followed several times in the streets of Manhattan by men talking to me about sex. I was fired twice for rejecting my boss’ advances. There were elevator incidents with higher-ups, train incidents with sleazeballs. Male doctors have often felt entitled to say or do things that were highly inappropriate. And I must include emotional rape. Predatory narcissists excel at it. They devote a lot of time and effort to perfecting their game. It can leave you feeling traumatized and violated, but a lot of people don’t understand emotional rape, and the narcissist, ever the charmer, can come out smelling like a rose.

These things didn’t happen to me because I was a perfect ten, as someone suggested that most victims are. I’m not—never was and never will be. I wasn’t dressed provocatively beyond looking pretty good in my clothes. Evidently, it doesn’t take much to provoke—especially when you are young. It seems you can do that without even trying.

So, for those who feel uncomfortable when this issue comes up, know that many of us feel uncomfortable walking on the beach, going out alone at night, wearing shorts, wearing tank tops. And we are used to being uncomfortable. We’ve been uncomfortable about all of this through most of our lives. We’ve felt bullied, and we’d done nothing wrong. To this day, I am uncomfortable having to pass any group of men whether on the street or in the office, especially if it is a confined space.

A thing I hear often is that men worry about being falsely accused. They say the “catcalling” complaints confuse them because many women like compliments from strangers and to have men flirting with them. They assume women like feeling sexy, and that the response from men makes women feel good about themselves.

First, let’s not confuse the issues. Catcalling, like rape, is about power and control, not desire, and it may also be about anger or hate and deeper issues. With catcalling, there is often an assumption about what a woman wants. Both groups prefer to target the vulnerable, like someone who is alone or someone very young, etc. One man put it to me this way, “How are we supposed to tell the difference between women who like it and women who don’t?” He said he thought that the way a woman dressed was the signal.

Catcalling is usually more than one guy, often a group of guys hollering at you, among other things. Their “compliments” are extravagant, although the goal, for the most part, is not to get to know you. You can shield your eyes, walk faster, refuse to respond, and they won’t stop. Your discomfort either amuses them, or they are clueless about how you feel and don’t care. It’s particularly confusing for young women. They may want to be pretty but not be the center of attention, and they are scared of what these men may say or do.

People are often of the mindset that a busty woman or a woman who happens to be sexy is a good target and probably looking for it. Being well-endowed does not justify harassment, and while it is normal to want to feel sexy and attractive, it doesn’t mean sexy and attractive women are open for business to all.

A lot of time, too, overt sexuality stems from having been previously victimized. That includes feelings of unworthiness and a need for attention, admiration, and validation.

I get that some women may enjoy the attention simply because it feels good, just like some women enjoy rough play and manhandling. Whatever two consenting adults enjoy is their business, and that’s why it’s good to get to know people and what they like. We can’t assume.

Flirting, to me, is a mutual thing. People smile, say hello, and they take their cues from each other. There’s no assumption, no disrespect. It doesn’t dehumanize anyone. I think people who flirt with one another genuinely like each other, and they care about one another’s reactions. Making someone blush is different from making someone cringe or fear for her life. For that reason, flirtation can be flattering. No one is saying a woman should never feel complimented by a stranger finding her attractive.

Most of us don’t want to make false accusations about harassment or abuse. It is hard enough coming to terms with these things when they do happen, and we share your concern about false reporting. Many of us are mothers. We have sons. We don’t want to destroy innocent people. We know a little something about that. And we want people to believe true victims who come forth.

Anyone who would falsely accuse someone simply isn’t normal and, unfortunately, you have to learn how to spot the toxic people, like we’ve had to and watch for the red flags. In addition, ego and obsession will cloud your perception and impair your judgment, so it’s important to work on that, like we must. I feel you.

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The answer, as I see it, is empathy and mutual respect. We must put ourselves in the other person’s place and observe and respect boundaries. It’s not a contest if we’re all on the same side.

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© Copyright October 17, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

 

THE TRUTH CAN BE DEVASTATING, FRIGHTENING, AND DEADLY!

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Young/New Adult-Dark Suspense-Literary Fiction

She was left fighting her demons alone . . .

For sixteen-year-old Danielle DeCorso, the old house in Glastonbury was an eerie place to grow up. Coping with mental health challenges exacerbated by a traumatic family dynamic, Danielle watches from the window for two men in a dusty black sedan who keep circling the house and harassing her with phone calls. The two predators drugged her and her cousin, Angie, and then lured them from Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport to a secluded cottage on Long Beach West. She remembers feeling dizzy, the room spinning. She recalls screaming, crying, fighting, and then slipping in and out of consciousness. Angie, however, has no recollection of the incident.

When Danielle attempts to jog Angie’s memory and convince their best friend, Farran, that the two strangers had victimized them, no one seems to believe her. Alone in her pain, Danielle remains guarded, obsessed, and withdrawn. Soon she is sinking deeper into a tumultuous world of adolescent isolation and change. Grief, guilt, and anger send her spiraling into an even darker place.

Tormented by terrifying nightmares, she fears she will lose her sanity, or possibly her soul. Is she having post-traumatic stress hallucinations, as one of her friends suggest, or are her recurring nightmares as real as they seem? Trapped in an unyielding emotional bondage, Danielle continues the fight to reclaim her power. Startling revelations awaken her newfound spirit, inspiring a once naïve girl to grow into a woman of defiance and courage.

“A dark, alluring and fascinating book about a girl trying to crawl out of the darkness and despair and grow in strength and spirit.” –Books Are Love

“A gripping and emotional story about trauma and abuse…” – Elizabeth Greschner

“…an emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

“…a startingly intense look into the lives of the young teens in present day America!” –Deepak Menon

“This book will catch you right in from the start.” –Peggy

“…a powerful story right from the start.” –Joanne Dore

“I can’t wait for her next book because now I’m hooked!” –Lori Stanley

“I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.” –Denise Buttino Terrell

Available on:

Amazon
(If you buy the paperback on Amazon, you can get the $2.99 Kindle edition for $.99.)

Barnes & Noble
(for paperback & Nook versions)

iTunes
(for iBooks on your Mac or iOS device)

Free review copies are also available. If you’d like to review this book, please contact me for your complimentary copy.

Here is a preview of the first chapter:

CHAPTER ONE
Connecticut, Summer of 1987

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room.
The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window.
I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds.
Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment.
I prayed, always.
Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight.
The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it.
“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.
Sickened to my core, I hung up.
It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall.
I lifted the receiver.
“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy.
“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam.
They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me.

***

Shattering Truths, was originally published in January of 2016 under the title Provenance of Bondage. The re-release has a lot of new material but is a bit shorter than the original, since I decided to cut some of it as well. I’m very happy with the new version, and I think readers will be, too!

***

 

© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Shattering Truths Cover by KH Koehler Design

RAPE CULTURE: WHY WE ALL NEED TO BE ON THE SAME SIDE

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Chrissie Hynde, singer/songwriter of The Pretenders, recently blamed herself for the sexual assault she experienced when she was 21. She recounted her temerarious behavior in a memoir, subsequently stating that she got what she’d been asking for in an attempt to rebel or escape her dull upbringing in Akron. One of her comments was, “That’s what those motorcycle gangs do.” She was talking about rape, and she believes it was her fault.

When I read her words, I felt more sadness than anger. Sophie Heawood of the The Guardian expressed much of what I was feeling in this piece:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/sep/05/sophie-heawood-in-defence-of-chrissie-hynde-sexual-assault

As she eloquently stated, “You can’t start blaming Hynde for blaming herself, or the whole cycle of non-empathy continues.”

I will say, taking responsibility for our part in what happens to us is an essential part of maturing. For me, that means examining what occurred, learning, healing, and deciding what you might have done differently . It doesn’t mean that the crime was not 100% the criminal’s fault, or that it can be justified.

Hasty generalizations are problematic as well. Rape is not what motorcycle gangs do. It’s what that particular group of bikers did. Similarly, rape is not what men do. Nor is it a typical response. Men are not barbaric Neanderthals who are unable to control themselves. Disturbed individuals, who, among other things, use aggression to deal with their anger, hurt, and shame, commit rape. A man who wants to persuade a woman to go further is not going to rape her unless he has those anger, control, and power issues.

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Of course, being careful and taking precautions to avoid disaster is a good idea. Who said it isn’t? That doesn’t mean because you weren’t or you didn’t; rape is an appropriate consequence.

Then we have this crap about clothes or how women present themselves in situations where everyone is drinking and ready for fun. I’ll go out on a limb here and say, many people have made unfortunate choices in clothing, attention-seeking and drinking. It’s happened at some point, maybe more than once, especially in those young naive years. More people than we’d expect suffer from a lack of self-worth, too, and don’t have any idea why they have this compelling need to seek attention, admiration, and approval. It doesn’t mean they want someone to rape them. Have whatever impression you want and judge away about a woman’s transparent bid for attention if that’s your thing, but the outcome shouldn’t be violence, ever, or slipping someone drugs. I don’t care if you think that woman is stupid and drunk and making a complete fool out of herself. I’ve lost count of the people I’ve seen acting drunk and stupid. Get her help if you care so much, because that’s what she needs.

Most of us humans don’t want to hurt anyone, and most of us don’t know how easy it is for those who can. We don’t know that until it happens because we can’t imagine violating a person that way.

Rape statistics are mind-boggling, and yet, a recent campaign to create awareness #YesAllWomen resulted in a backlash from rape apologists and detractors of both genders.

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Rape is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.

By the way, anyone who thinks the ‘God’ they worship sends gifts of babies through rape is seriously brainwashed. That is horrific. Was he sending that gift to the ten-year-old girl in Paraguay—raped and impregnated by her stepfather? I don’t see how a person in a right state of mind could believe that. Besides, a child is not a gift or a toy or this thing you bend to your will at all costs. A gift is something you can do whatever you want with when you receive it because it belongs to you. A child is a human being you choose to bring into the world because you’ve committed to loving, nurturing, and protecting him or her in every way you know how. That child belongs to himself or herself.

Those who peddle this hogwash are more concerned about controlling women than they are about babies.

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Much wrath is directed at the “angry feminists” who have a right, as we all do, to be concerned and angry. And yes, I’m a feminist as long as equality is an issue because that’s why feminism exists. I am also a humanist.

A while back in New York City, I attended an annual walk against rape with my then boyfriend. He came to show his support and didn’t feel welcome since there was an anti-men sentiment. It was true of that event, and it may be the case with some women. It’s not the agenda of all feminists or every attempt at creating awareness.

One of the chants that day was, “Women unite, take back the night.” I thought it should be all of us uniting—men and women. That’s the only way it will work. The majority of men are on our side, and guess what? Rape happens to them, too.

We have to trust people in life. Perhaps instead of taking advantage of that trust and the vulnerability of others, we could care for and about each other. That matters above everything, how we treat one other. Wouldn’t you agree?

Fact Sheet on Sexual Assault
Sexual Violence Statistics  

 

 

© Copyright September 2, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.