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Entries in sexual abuse (7)

Thursday
Jan152015

The Sound of Silence | Still No Justice ~ 2015

How do you write a blog post following the update about the blog post you wrote last year? The post exposing what your father did to you and your sister? The post that explains that your father is an unregistered, unprosecuted sex offender?

It's hard to follow an update post like that with a cheery blog post about crafting, sewing, saving for a new boat, or working out. It all seems empty when compared with how my sister and I feel right now. 

For those who have tried to help us, by sending words of encouragement, or more importantly, by sending emails and phone calls to the Governor of Alaska and the Fairbanks DA, thank you.

I tend to listen to songs over and over. This is on repeat right now.

"But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence"

Sunday
Feb232014

I Should be Blogging about Provisioning

The view above me as I work out in the plaza of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.

In 2010 I avidly followed several boats and their blogs as they crossed to the South Pacific. I was pregnant, and then had a newborn, and was fascinated by families like Totem and Forgeover and wanted to see how they worked the sailing life with kids.

There is no way I would have guessed that I'd be spending my last several weeks before crossing the Pacific Ocean with a loss for words, especially since I know people are following our blogs the same way I was following others in 2010. How will the crossing work with two young kids? Will they have fun? Will it be scary? Dangerous? Worth it?

I imagined that I'd have whole posts outlining how I was carefully provisioning, with spreadsheets and mathematical formulas. I would gleefully show how we had meticulously organized the boat and talk about the exciting places we were going to visit.

The truth is, I can really only focus on the basics right now. Simple basics, like wake up and greet the day and my family joyfully. Mindfully make breakfast. Sit in the cockpit as the girls play, and I drink morning coffee and listen to the net. 

Attila from s/v Bettie. She's a wonderful workout partner.

After that, I wait for my workout partner to stop by and we work out on the finger of the dock while her two month old makes funny faces at us in his baby seat and Cora and Lyra squawk away while they play next to us, their heads peeking out from time to time between the canvas privacy panels to see what we are doing.

I find myself going through peaks and valleys as I slowly pull myself out of the cavern of the events from January. Ever so gradually, my lows are not getting as low as they used to be, and that is good, because having academic conversations with myself about the pros and cons of suicide is just not a great place to be, ever. I had no idea what would trigger me until after the post was published and I got side swiped by the sheer amount of stories from others who had experienced something similar. Trying to read Dylan Farrow's own account was overwhelming for me. And the next low, another something I hadn't expected, was innocently checking the search queries on our blog. I love to look at the search queries to see the funniest or weirdest search term that will get someone to our blog.

Let me tell you, the types of things that people type into Google that related to my post about my father in January, that are unbelievably disgusting, is mindblowing. I was trembling as I looked at vile search query after vile search query, feeling like my blog and my writing had been violated again, like I could never go back to that search page, or have any fun looking up quirky search terms...ever.

And after I saw those queries, the words festered in my mind. I mentioned it casually to Eric and within a few hours I had instigated a fight with him. Some stupid fight, that led me to yell, "Why are we fighting about something this idiotic? Oh my god, I just need a hug!" And I launched myself into his arms and bawled my eyeballs out, sopping his t-shirt and gasping that I had ruined our blog. 

Another low point. But I woke up the next morning and I told Eric, "Enough. I can't live like this anymore."

I told him that he needed to force me to work out. Every day (with breaks when needed). I desperately needed the endorphins. I was on a new medication and after the week or so change of weaning off of one med, and on to another, I could shake myself out of the annoying technicolor brightness of a world warped by a change in anti-depressants to say, "It's got to be me that helps to fix this."

And so Eric helped me. And I helped myself. And I'm on the three-pronged approach: medication, therapy, and exercise.

While the medication is helping, helloooooo energy and interest in the things I used to love, my creativity feels dampened. I have a burbling of posts to write, words flow in and out of my head in paragraphs, and my nightly series of dreams would make a full and interesting novel every time I awake. My inner mind is a non-stop creation machine, but somehow the creativity can't tumble out of my mouth, or my fingers, to type it all.

With less than two weeks (or so) to go before we set sail, instead of getting a blog full of provisioning, and route planning, and fancy sailing vocabulary, you get the basics in my life that I'm actually focusing on.

Family work outs at the plaza.

Amazing 12-year-old Mira from s/v Lilo.

Making use of some of the amazing babysitting offers we have been inundated with this sailing season in Mexico.

With Steve from s/v Landfall and Hamish and Rani from s/v Western Explorer.

Having one too many margaritas with friends.

Being the most 'boring' couple at dinner. Seriously, the couple in the background? Christian is from Uruguay and his wife, Florence, is from France. Next couple? Sabine is from the Netherlands and her husband, Terry, is from New Zealand. And the last couple? Ted is from New Zealand and Stella is from England. Hey, at least one of our kids was born in Mexico!

I've been hanging out with all five of these amazing women. The six of us gave birth in Mexico in 2013 and we all live on sailboats. It's a Mexican, boat-baby BOOM!

We celebrated Lyra's birthday yesterday and had our going away party. I will miss the friends we have made here.

Things I want to write about:

1. Lyra's birthday party.

2. Reflections on Lyra's first year.

3. The brilliance that is Cora.

4. Provisioning.

5. The cool people we have met here.

6. Everything I wanted to write about in December and January, but couldn't.

7. The wonderful things I have sewed lately.

But I may not get a chance to. And that's okay. One day.

Right now, I focus on basics like my family, my friends, my health, the food we eat, and working diligently on achieving our goal of sailing westward, very soon.

Getting to spend my days with Cora, Lyra, and Eric, is grounding, satisfying, and enough. I'm looking forward to the Pacific sail and pressing the 'reset' button.

Friday
Feb072014

Taking a Break

Taking a break from the blog and social media. I'll occasionally check email. If you really need to get a hold of me, contact Eric.

Much love ~ Charlotte

Monday
Feb032014

Cracking Me Open

When Sariah and I went for our road trip to Phoenix right before publishing the account about our father sexually abusing us, we talked for hours about the possible outcomes of publishing the truth versus not saying something publicly. We tried to spin off of on all the variables; we pondered about what could happen to us, to our husbands, to our kids. How would it affect us? Or the people we loved? Or our futures, or their futures? We knew it would be hard.

We had no idea how hard.

I thought it was funny when a therapist-friend left a comment on FB sounding surprised at my hurt reaction to our brother saying we were making it up.

"Oh, you didn't expect that?"

No. No, therapist-friend. In all the eventualities we tried to prepare ourselves for, our own siblings not believing us, or defending our father, never occurred to us. I guess we were just naïve. Neither Sariah nor I, are trained therapists. We have no previous experience doing something like this. I tried to buy the 'Handbook to how the tell the world your father is an unprosecuted sex offender' but couldn't find that book anywhere. (If anyone has a copy, please send it my way).  We held each other's hands, took a deep breath, and hit 'publish,' and our world cracked apart.

We have been inundated by messages of support and thanks. Quite literally, hundreds of women, and men, have messaged us to say thank you for telling the world what our father did, for not being quiet, for not letting him slip away into life, again to be free to hurt other children. And if I have to re-send that post every year to the schools and city officials of Taos, New Mexico, or wherever my father lives, I will, until he is prosecuted, and put on a sex offender list so people can be made aware without the need for our very public warning.

Along with all those hundreds of Facebook, website, and email messages though, have also been people pouring out their hearts. I have read more accounts of horrific abuse that others have suffered than I could have even imagined. Figuratively, it is killing me, and I've got to stop reading them, at least for now, before it literally does.

I don't think any decent person could read even one of the messages and not be upset by it. And to get as many as we have? It is crushing my heart. My empathy vein has been slashed open and I am spilling every ounce of energy I have reliving other people's agonies too.

I get it. People want to share what happened to them, too. It is such a relief to tell someone who will listen. To feel heard and validated for what you have been through, but again, naïvely, we didn't expect such a response.

And then Dylan Farrow published her own account about her step-father sexually abusing her, and I tried to read it, almost threw up, and had to stop. To read how someone else also tried to put it all down in words, I couldn't get through it. It seared me open again.

I feel like a vintage glass, whom someone is holding tightly in a sweaty palm. At any second, either my sides will be crushed by the weight of their grip, or the person holding me is going to let me go and I'll splinter into a million pieces when I hit the ground.

Two nights ago, still alone while Eric was out of town, I thought about taking my life. I sat there toying with the idea, almost as if the concept were an egg yolk and I was stringing it back and forth between my fingers, stretching the thoughts from my thumb to forefinger, waiting for the egg yolk to snap. I have no idea how long I had been sitting there contemplating it, until I realized exactly what I was doing: having a conversation with myself about how much better it would be if I weren't alive. 

It would be so much easier.

I wouldn't have to deal with any more pain.

I could rest. It would be quiet.

I wouldn't have to talk about it anymore.

But how would I do it? Drowning? No. Pills? Maybe. A knife? No.

What about the girls? They couldn't find me dead; how awful.They need me. I'd have to wait until Eric was home and could take care of them.

What about Eric? 

And so my mind cycled, thinking. And then it cycled in an even larger orb around those thoughts and I observed myself thinking it all, realizing that I had never ever been so low that I had such crystal-clear thoughts about just slipping quietly away from life. It was scary. I messaged Eric. I messaged Sariah. I told them what I was thinking. They talked to me until I felt better. Eric got home the next day. 

But, really, feeling suicidal was also NOT an outcome we thought about when considering whether to publish the post or not.

----------

I've got to pull back. If you have messaged me, and I haven't written back, I just can't right now. Some day I might be able to, but I don't know if I'll ever have the words to ease your suffering, or know what to say about your abuse. If there is a way I can help, someone I can email or message, something concrete I can do, let me do that, but I can't write back just now while I'm so awfully frail myself.

Here are things I want to write about: Lyra is almost one, why I'm glad that Eric is back, the girls' quarter berth and the new lee cloth I'm making, provisioning for the South Pacific, and our sail across the ocean. 

Also, please, if you run into me in person, this isn't a topic I want to chat about on the docks, or around my my daughters. While yes, I made the account of my abuse public, that doesn't mean I can talk about it the way I can talk about sewing or yoga. If you want to discuss it, give me a heads up, let me know why, but let's not do it in front of my three year old. She doesn't need to hear even key words about it right now. She'll know the whole story when she is older, but not now. Thank you!

----------

I often immerse myself in music when I need soothing. This song has helped today.

 

I've been looking for a fight

All the trouble that I know
Trying to lose the world inside
But it's got no place to go

Oh I'm armed and dangerous
At the whim of my command
I've been searching for an angle
For a cause I can defend

Oh take me home
Let me go all day
Just be here til I know
Til I know that the riot's gone, the riot's gone away

I've been haunted all my life
On the brink of something close
People know that I ain't right
Know I'm grappling with a ghost

Oh I'm armed and dangerous,
And I'm deafened by the fray
Waiting for the day I'm able
And I said it all this way

Oh take me home
Let me go all day
Just be here til I know
Til I know that the riot's gone, the riot's gone away

~ Santigold, The Riot's Gone

Sunday
Jan192014

Emotional Fallout | Sexual Abuse, the Gift that Keeps on Giving...

Excerpt from an email I sent to Eric, who is in Mexico getting the boat ready for departure:

I've been going running every time I get angry, which is at least once a day. I run so hard and so fast that I feel like I am transported back to my teenage years when I would run the same way, like I was trying to force my knees down into the pavement with every step and hammer my body against the ground while I flew.
 
Some people punch walls, I go running.

So now my right knee is killing me. As are the balls of both feet. I went and bought a new pair of shoes. Much more supportive and cushy then the green ones I had. My feet are still a little swollen but I'm icing the pads of them, and my knee, and that helps.

Sariah and I went on a road trip the weekend before I hit 'publish' on the blog post exposing our father as a sexual predator. We talked for a long time about whether or not we wanted to publish, about the fallout that would occur from going public, because there is always fallout when you deal with something like this so publicly. I realize in hindsight that we were incredibly naïve. There is really no way you can ever prepare yourself for something like this. Luckily Sariah and I have been alternating on our bad days; this has been convenient, as we are there to support each other as we both freak out emotionally. I feel raw. 

We have been inundated with messages of support, but sadly, also with the massive amount of people, male and female, sharing their own stories of abuse and survival. We have received hundreds of accounts. One woman contacted us to say that after reading our story she had called a therapist and scheduled an appointment for the first time in her life. Another woman said she had never admitted the fact of her abuse to anyone, ever, much less write it down in an email to tell us about it. People have been abused by their grandfathers, uncles, fathers, step-fathers, mothers, cousins, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, neighbors and strangers. Sometimes the stories are so painful to hear that I break down in tears, or have to close my laptop and walk away.

The hardest part, though, and the part we were so naïve about, has been the response by family members. Never in our wildest dreams, or any of our discussions about publishing the post, would we have guessed that at least two of our own siblings would turn against us and stand with our father. Both one brother and one of our sisters have said we are on a 'witch hunt' and messaged us to say that they don't believe us. They think we are making it up. And they have sent us messages like: 

You get uglier with very passing year. Get back on your boat and disappear. 

Apparently, and I've only learned this after the fact, it is quite common for family members to rally around the perpetrator instead of the victims. It leaves me shocked and saddened, not only because the sister in question has allowed her daughter to be alone with our father, but why anyone would think we would make something like this up? To write something so horrifically painful and make it public, for what? Shits and giggles? 

People have said we are incredibly 'brave.' I have heard this over and over since Monday when we published the story. I don't feel brave. I feel tired. My heart feels like it is prying itself open with pain. People have said that our post gave them the courage to go public with their own stories, in an attempt to stop their abusers from hurting others too. If you do go public, just be prepared for the emotional fallout. It is intense and very real. 

Thank you for all the words of support and encouragement and to everyone who has taken action to try and help us obtain justice.