A Message of Hope for Survivors

If you have experience dv or sexual assault or if you know some one, this may be worth you reading. I am writing this because you are not alone. There are many people around the world who have experienced similar, who are also thinking and feeling similar. Except we all don’t know each other, therefore you feel isolated and alone. I am one of those people. When writing about things like this, I often wonder whether I am the right person to be sharing my experience and this message of hope? Every day I feel like hiding under a rock, yet my passion to talk about this and empower other women drives me out from under that rock. I have mentioned in other blogs that I was molested by a family friend on and off between the ages of four to twelve. I think it is appalling and absolutely unacceptable behaviour by any one that does that to a child. Yet I’m also aware that there are many other people who’ve had much more horrific experiences than me. It’s not an uncommon thing for people to have their own family not believe them. I’m lucky my parents believed me. I may have been bullied at school but it was mainly name calling, exclusion and I was slut shamed at the same time I was taking the man who molested me to court, but there are plenty of kids out there who are brutally beaten up every day by other kids. I was in a dv relationship from 2002 to 2007. It was mainly verbal and emotional abuse, intimidation and there were a few physical incidents but we didn’t have kids and I didn’t have horrific injuries. There are plenty  of women who experience horrific injuries, who fear for their lives and they also have kids to worry about. Last year I was raped, it was by some one I knew but it wasn’t a violent attack in a dark alley with a stranger. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who may be in a better position to write this but I think what I have to say is worth sharing. There are many forms of abuse, physical and sexual are just two types. There’s also emotional, verbal, financial, social, not to mention stalking. My thought process about down playing my experience is probably similar to many other people who are survivors. I don’t particularly like to go around calling myself a survivor but at the same time I also don’t think of myself as a victim. We  tell ourselves that other peoples experiences are worse, that we should have done things differently and that it shouldn’t be affecting us so much. We not only beat ourselves up but the rest of the world tells us we should be over it by now. We are constantly blamed for what we did and didn’t do. So we carry this burden with in ourselves and become careful who we share it with. We have learned the hard way that people find this type of thing terrible,  they are aware it happens yet it is often too confronting for them to think about it any more than just having some sort of awareness. Often people don’t know how to react when it is some one they know. They don’t have the skills  to support the person and there are many common misconceptions. Yes it’s very frustrating when it seems so many people seem to judge and not understand. It’s easy to feel angry for what happened and angry at the world but often people can’t truly understand what they haven’t experienced, especially if they aren’t very well informed. It’s perfectly reasonable and human to feel anger but it is unhealthy, a waste of time and energy to live in that state. The only person anger will affect is ourselves. It’s not going to make any difference to the perpetrator or any one else. Perpetrators are usually skilled at doing things behind closed doors or when no one is around. Often they are well liked people and there fore it’s difficult to believe they would do such things. It’s much easier for people to believe the person they put on show to the rest of the world than to accept they are a predator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

You may already know this but your experience is real. How you feel is valid.  There is no time limit on healing from these experiences. Trauma may last weeks, months or even years. You were abused, there is nothing wrong with you. Normal human beings don’t go around hurting and destroying other people. You haven’t done anything wrong, they are in the wrong. In fact, you have the strength with in to heal and rise again. When you rise, you will be a much better and stronger version of yourself. These unfortunate experiences don’t define us. As you read these words it may be hard to believe you can get past where you are now. Don’t be too hard on yourself, it takes time. Do what you need to for you so you are in a better space. Whether it be counselling, journaling, art and craft or joining a support group. I’m doing all of the above but my support groups are a couple of Facebook groups, message me if you would like to know what groups they are. There are plenty of people in the groups who have similar experiences, thoughts and feelings. The groups are very well moderated by admin. I’ve found it good to connect with people who understand. Honestly I’m still not entirely over my experiences but I’m fighting to be a better person and to help empower others who are have experienced similar.  A blog and joining a local committee might not be much, but I’m doing my best. We are all doing our best and as I always say ‘our best is enough.’

I thought I might mention here that this also happens to boys and men. The majority may be women but it does happen to men. They are also in need of support. Violence and abuse is awful no matter who it happens to.

(note: I found the wording to this image on Instagram via tinybuddha.com)

There’s nothing like getting out in nature!

Getting out in nature is not something I do very often. It’s not that I don’t want to, I just get busy with work and kids. I don’t get much spare time but when I do I often become a bit of a hermit. I relax on the lounge, write my blogs and books whilst watching Netflix. On Saturday I went on a bushwalk with a friend. We began the walk at 10:45am and finished about 3:00pm. When we arrived back to the picnic area we had afternoon tea. My friend and I both enjoy photography, we stopped and took many photos along the way. The walk went in a loop and about half way around we stopped for lunch. It was good to have some time out in nature, with good company and to have some time away from social media and our busy lives. I was sick all last week but pushed myself to go to work. Although the walk was a long one with some steep, rocky parts, I think it was still good for my wellbeing, even if had been unwell. I’ve actually been inspired to get out in nature more. Other than being good for our wellbeing, it’s good exercise and an opportunity for me to take photos.  I think I’ve been inspired to get out in nature more often.

Monday I had the day off work. I have been sick for most of this year and Monday morning my whole house hold slept in. That means all four kids also slept in and we woke up ten minutes before I was supposed to leave for work. It would be great if they actually slept in on weekends, lol. I was still really run down so I decided to take the day off work. It was a kid free day because the older two were at school and the younger two were at preschool. I have really needed to have some sick days recently but  pushed myself to go to work. I really needed  to recover from being sick and also get myself in a better emotional space. My emotional journey  is another blog, lol.  I actually went and got a massage, I was so sore. The muscles in my whole body were like broken up concrete, I’ve had this a lot lately. I went to the chemist to get a puffer and a preventer puffer, whilst I was there I bought some espom salts. Before leaving the shops I bought myself some Chinese soup because soup is supposed to be good for you when you are unwell and I love Chinese. When I arrived home I put some relaxing music on and had an Epsom bath. After my bath I did a mini meditation and had a nap. Other than that I relaxed on the lounge, went through some of the photos I took and wrote a couple of blogs on my laptop. If you are interested in seeing some of the photos I took on my bushwalk then click here.

 

Equal and Worthy

This is a photo me when I was thirteen years old. My Mum took the photo on my grandmothers wharf.  I have chosen this photo because it a very vulnerable time for me in my life, I have gone into more detail in another blog

This is a photo me when I was thirteen years old. My Mum took the photo on my grandmothers wharf. I have chosen this photo because it a very vulnerable time for me in my life, I have gone into more detail in another blog ‘My Version of 13 Reasons Why’My Version of 13 Reasons Why’.

As a mother I don’t know how many times I’ve heard comments like ‘your lucky your husband helps around the house’ or ‘where are the kids, is your husband babysitting’? Isn’t looking after your own kids called parenting regardless of whether you are a man or a woman? If the kids are both ours, we both work and both live in the house, then isn’t it fair that he would do some of the house work? The other thing that bugs me and I know also bugs many other Mums is how a Dad can take the kids out and get comments about how he is such a good Dad. Which he probably is, but the Mum never gets any compliments. She usually gets comments as to what she should or shouldn’t be doing. The exact same thing happens when Dads post on social media compared to when Mum’s post. One of the first questions I was asked by many people after I had my four babies was ‘when are you returning to work’. These days there is a much bigger expectation that women who have kids work, whilst those who don’t tend be judged more for staying home. In the past women were judged who didn’t stay home but now it seems the scale has tipped in the opposite direction. I know many women who feel guilt for staying at home because they don’t feel like they are contributing enough and they have also experienced judgement from others. It is fantastic that women are able to work but there is no need for all this guilt and judgement. I also wonder why there aren’t more jobs available the are within school hours. Because fitting into a standard 9am-5pm job means that we have to cover costs such as daycare, before and after school care. These costs take a large amount of our pay. The other cost of working 9am-5pm means the kids no longer have parents walking them into school when being dropped off and picked, then being there for them in the afternoon to give them afternoon tea and do homework with them. It is a mans working world and women with children are trying to fit into that instead society making more family friendly jobs available. The gender pay gap is also another issue for many, I personally am not affected by it but I think it is worthy mentioning here considering it is an issue.

From the beginning of time it  seems sexism is rife. In this age where men and women are supposed to be equal, there are many ways women are just not equal and this starts from a young age.  Boys and girls see their mothers doing the majority of the house work and cooking whilst their Dads watch football and drink beer. I know that is a very generalised comment, there are some men who are very good cooks and women who also like to watch the footy. I’m just trying to paint a picture and I’ve have actually witnessed this a lot. The 2016 census results revealed women still do the majority of house work regardless of whether they work or not and a whopping one in four adult Australian men doen’t do abosolutely any housework at all.

A lot of kids are given gender appropriate toys and are scolded if they play with a so called in appropriate toy. I think fair enough if kids are drawn to certain toys, there is a lot of argument that they may in fact have been conditioned to be drawn to certain toys. I’m not going to argue whether they are conditioned or not but I have known little boys who aren’t allowed a toy kitchen, to play with ‘girls’ toys or to do dancing class because they are girls things. They hear phrases like ‘such and such is for a girl’ and ‘don’t be a girl’. On TV, the internet and magazines little girls and boys are bombarded of images of what is considered beautiful and most models are pretty skinny, tall and with all their make up they look glamorous There is nothing wrong with being skinny or wearing make up but they do not reflect all women. A large percentage of women do not look this way and  are not this body type. A lot of time  the women they see are sexualised.

As boys begin to get older their peers make sexist comments, sexist jokes and inappropriate grabbing is thought to be ok by many teenage boys and some young men, they just brush sexual harassment off as just a joke. Girls are much more likely to be slut shamed than guys. In this age where both men an women are supposed to have equal sexual freedom to participate in casual sex if they wish, the woman is still judged more harshly. It is much easier for a women to fall for a guy they have a casual encounter with, This is because we release a bonding chemical during sex. However with men, emotion and sex are in different regions of the brain. There for he won’t see or feel the same way for a woman he hooks up with, compared to a some one he feels something for and wants more from. A guy is also  less likely to not want any more from a hook up because he’s already got all he can from her and doesn’t want to be with some one who sleeps around. However it is much more acceptable for a man to engage regularly in casual sex until he finds a partner. This whole hook up culture is supposed to be women’s chance to explore their sexuality and feel empowered but many women’s experiences are far from empowering. The hook up culture is more beneficial for men. About 80% of males reach orgasm whilst only 40% of women do. This being partly due to the guy not making as effort with some one he doesn’t care for and not understanding how to satisy a woman sexually. Women experience a much higher rate of negative emotion afterwards. Emotions such as regret, shame and feelings of worthlessness. A big part of this post hook up hang over is due to societies double standards and because of men’s, especially younger men’s lack of understanding of the sexual and emotional differences between men and women. There is equal opportunity for both sexes to participate however it is more beneficial to one of the sexes because we are different. Yes some men have more feminine brains and some women more masculine, this has nothing to do with sexual orientation. What  I’m talking about some of the basic differences in how we are wired and it is something that people don’t seem to talk about or educate our kids about. It is always the girls who have to protect themselves. They are told they are ‘just being boys’.

When I say this, I’m not talking about absolutely everyone, but the girl being too emotional and the guy not getting it is a common thing. Especially when younger. Too often it is said to girls ‘your too emotional’ and ‘get over it’. If a guy is appearing to be an arse then people often say ‘well he’s just young’ or ‘he’s just being a guy’. Yes maybe young and unaware, but is that an excuse for disrespecting women and treating them poorly? I wonder if some of this ignorance would be avoided if they actually taught the emotional and sexual differences between men and women in high school. Communication would be a good thing to teach as well. A lot of people fumble through relationships not being able to understand each other properly because they don’t have the communication skills. Many times where it seems a guy is being an arse or the woman over emotional is just a lack in understanding of each other. As we grow past our teen years and early twenties, many of us know this and begin to understand the opposite sex a bit better.  I know every one has to go through their own lessons and heart breaks but I think a lot of hurt and misunderstanding can be avoided if high school kids are taught some of these life skills. Instead of just the physical side of sex education and the importance of protection maybe a whole subject on relationships would be beneficial. I wonder if teaching some of these things would also help reduce some of the sexism in our society.We have made great scientific advances, become more connected with our world and people through social media and the internet, yet we are not so good at relationships, interacting on a personally level and really understanding each other. Often the women are the ones who are trying to fit into a man’s world. We dim our emotions, pretend we are sexually the same and stay silent on things that matter. When we don’t feel comfortable with something or as though we are not being treated right, too often we brush it off and tell ourselves things like ‘I’m over reacting’ etc. Young women especially have a tendency to do this and put on a front, yet the guys don’t know how much women are holding in behind the mask. They don’t realise the struggle and often don’t realise the impact of their behaviour. I locked myself up for years afraid to say how I really felt, but in doing this I denied myself and i was taken advantage of too many times. One thing I realised is that usually people don’t intentionally hurt others, they are often unaware of how they are affecting another person and do not realise until they are told. If no one tells any one anything, how are they ever supposed to know? Yes there are men out there who are intentionally being predators. I think it is so important to teach our girls to have a voice, to be assertive, confident in who they are and express themselves with ease. We can talk about sexism and change until the cows come home, but we need to be the change we want to see by modelling that behaviour to our children and confidently using our voices. Using our voices only goes so far, the deeply ingrained attitudes of society can only be changed by also educating our children.

It is quite easy to brush off what I’m saying as ‘making a big deal over things’ but I’ve experienced sexism my whole life. 1 in 6 women has been raped, 1 in 5 young women/teenage girls has been pressured into sexual activities, In a lifetime 1 in 5 women have been stalked or experiences sexual harassment, 1 in 4 has experience emotional abuse or sexual assault and 1 in three has experienced physical violence. I have experienced all of them. Pretty much since I was 12 years old there have been many times I have experience inappropriate sexual comments, grabbing and jokes. I am one of of every one of those statistic I just mentioned. I have been stalked, sexually assaulted, raped and experienced both emotional and physical abuse from different men. I am just one person and many of the women I know have also experienced these things. If you are reading this, then you would also know a woman, at least one, probably more that fit into these statistic.

Yes you are worthy!

Men! They can be a woman’s greatest dream, a complete nightmare or something in between. Many of us go through so much of our life wanting to be loved and to find the right guy. Yet as we get older we realise nothing outside of ourselves can fill the gap. A guy isn’t the missing piece in our life. We can only be whole when we realise that we already have all the power, all the strength and all the love with in. Don’t let any one else make you believe otherwise, even that voice inside your head that tries to bring you down. I have had some really valuable lessons with this recently, I thought I knew it well but I guess I still had more to learn and more growing to do.

Last year was an absolute shocker for me with men. It really made me question my worth. I went through a difficult separation with me ex and he went off the rails for a while. Then there was the 11 women guy who pretended he was interested in me and wanted more than just a one-night stands . I was clear I wasn’t ready  for  anything serious but at the same time wasn’t into meaningless one-night standards. I know I can’t do purely phsycial with out liking the other person at all. It turns out he lied and manipulated me just to get sex and then afterwards cut me off. I was one of eleven women and it t really shook me up at the time I questioned myself because I wasn’t able to tell the difference between what is genuine and what is good acting. I wasn’t in madly in love but I did like him and think he was a decent guy. I didn’t expect much but I wasn’t expecting to be used and discarded like an object. I don’t think a bit of honesty and respect is too much to ask but I guess you can be disappointed no matter how reasonable your expectations are.

Then there was the very drunk one-night stand with a work colleague which  turned out to be the worst experience of my life with a guy. I drank a lot, so my memory is a bit patchy but what I remember was not good at all.  I know with casual sex there isn’t supposed to be that intimacy or  feeling that you have when in a relationships with someone but no matter how casual sex is, a woman still wants to feel wanted, sexy and as though the guy is into her. She wants to enjoy herself too but I didn’t feel any of these things at all. Not one bit of pleasure, it was as though I was just an object. There are other things that occurred which I thought you’d only do if the woman specifically requested but I won’t go into detail about that. Afterwards I feel asleep and woke up at 5am in the car park freezing my arse off. I realised I hadn’t even locked the doors. We had both been drinking, so none of us would have given our best performance. Even though it was terrible, the drinking made it more forgivable. The thing I that found hardest was afterwards he acted different and has been avoiding me ever since. I did try to talk to like normal but his responses were very short, he barely stopped to talk and kept walking away whilst I was still talking. I thought it was quite rude, so I gave up on trying to continue on as normal like it was before anything happened. I don’t have the time of day for anyone that doesn’t have the time for me.

Shit experiences happen, especially when drunk., get over it move on, At least I didn’t have to see the 11 women guy again, it was just harder to do when it was someone I already knew and see regularly. Then add to that, he has the reputation of being the town bike and I was not only one who has had a really bad experience with him. I now know we all our experiences were pretty much the same. For the past five years, I had always liked and respected this person but now that has changed. My perception my have changed but I do not dislike him or think he is a bad person. I do not think either of these guys are bad people.  I know everyone has their own issues and is not perfect. I am very far from perfect, therefore I’m not pointing fingers at any one. I was an active participant in these situation and no one can make you feel anything. Our emotions are products our own thought processes. So why blame anyone else when I needed to check myself. I had to look into why these experiences where such triggers for me. The only person I have control over and the ability to change is myself. How, when and if these guys do any self-work is their business, it is not mine or any one else’s. It’s not place or any one else’s to judge.

Last year may have been a difficult  year but I have a lot be thankful for. Obviously for kids, family, friends, good health, having a job etc; but I am also thankful for all the difficult people and experiences in my life. They have  made me stronger, more certain of who I am and gain a stronger sense of self-worth. Now I wonder why I was letting anyone make me feel insecure. The way they were is a reflection of them; it was not a reflection of me or any of the other women. It does not say anything about us; it says everything about them and who they are.  The way I dealt with it and reacted says everything about me and where I was at the time.

I was aware things like this happen and that many women in their late teens and early 20’s experience this sort of thing, along with casual sex and dating. Here I am at 37 years old and I can say well I have now experienced dating and casual sex. When I joined up to do online dating, I did it for the experience because I had always just jumped into relationships too quickly, with the first person who came along and never took the time to look around. I wanted the experience of meeting different men and consciously not jumping. That is exactly what I did (for dinner and coffee, not sex) and I met some nice people but none of them were it or any one I would want a relationship with.  I was also understandably really wanting a connection after being show shut down for so long in my last relationship. We didn’t communicate or really connect physically and emotionally. I know I’m not ready to be with any one, so no one is it at the moment. I’m not in a hurry and happy to wait. It doesn’t bother me how long I have to wait, I’m happy with my life and trust the right person will come along at the right time. The whole experience made me realise what I do and do not want when it comes to men. I had always set the bar way to low. I am so much better than I thought I was and capable of achieving much more than I ever dreamed. I

I have daughters and a son and  hope through my experiences  I will be a better parent with understanding and supporting  my kids with this sort of stuff when they are older. I really want my girls to know their worth and to never have regrets because even in difficult things, there is always an opportunity to grow and learn. I never want them to be ashamed of themselves or anything they do because we all make mistakes. I want them to know they are beautiful, inside and out.. I hope to encourage them to go for their dreams because they will be capable of anything they put their minds to. Never settle for anything in life, especially a guy because women do not need a man to be happy or fulfilled. I want the same for my son and hope to teach him to respect women, to be thoughtful, consider how they are feeling and treat them really well no matter how casual a relationship is. I want him to never do anything that he would not want done to his own mother or sisters. I want this for my kids because they not only deserve it but I did not have them within myself self. It took me a hell of a lot of hard work and big part of my life to gain these things.

I am thankful for these experiences, lessons and realisations. I am beginning to feel more empowered.

Taking Care of You

Some times all you need is to eat some really  good healthy food, do a meditation and have a few good sleeps. You know you will then be just fine, as long as you remember to regularly take care of your wellbeing and not continually run on empty. The rest of the world says ‘come to this, come to that, do this, do that, eat this, eat that.’ They like to try to tell you why you are bit burnt out and all the things they think you ‘should be doing’. Since when did having four young kids, working and focusing on some personal goals not be enough? Goals such as regular exercise and meditation, practising piano and writing. Add into that the kids activities and parties, keeping on top of the house work and washing, then trying to squeeze in some time with family and friends. There is virtually no such thing as just having some time to relax. A decent eight to nine-hour sleep is rare. It’s more like between four and six hours.  So pardon me if that is not good enough reasons to be burnt out at some point. What ever happened to the days where  being a Mum was considered a full-time job with out adding anything else? It is the age of the super Mum and I think we often push and push ourselves even when we are running on empty. Honestly I think I have just described many of our lives. Sometimes we just need to tell the rest of the world to piss off because it’s ok to take care of your wellbeing and it’s ok to say no. Take care of you and everything else will take care of itself. Fill a car with petrol and book it in for a regular tune up and it runs fine. What happens when it runs out of petrol? It’s very obvious that the car won’t work. We are the same but often we  forget to take care of ourselves. This is another thing I know all too well and I’ve really been working on but I think I just needed to be reminded again. When you have such a busy life, it’s quite is to say yes to some things that seem little at the time. At the time it seems no big deal, however if your already running on empty then all the little extra things can be the difference between recovering from being over tired and actually burning out. For me I’m having to really focus on ‘what are my priorities’ and ‘what are my goals’? Anything that doesn’t fit into my priorities and goals, anything that is taking away from them, that is causing me to be more stressed and over tired, deserves a resounding confident ‘no’! I have become much better at saying no, I was always a yes person. I still have some work to do with saying no. I find if I’m not being conscious and mindful with my time, energy, priorities and goals then it’s easy to become side tracked, easy to say yes when you should have said no, easy to scatter your energy every where and then be left feeling wiped out. Priorities and goals are important but so is having some down time (me time.) Whether it be a little sleep in, a bath or reading a book. When was the last time you scheduled some me time so you can relax and in turn recharge? Having a busy life and being a Mum is not an excuse. You need to make the time and if it is something you want enough, then will make the time. If you don’t want it enough, then you will make excuses. Even if it’s just ten minutes before the kids get up or ten minutes after the kids go to bed. There has to be somewhere you can schedule in some me time.  I know it sounds harsh but it’s too easy to have all the excuses in the world as to why we can’t do something. If we want something enough, then we still make it happen despite every thing else. It’s all up to you and whether you want to make it happen or not. It won’t necessarily  be easy but it’s truly worth it. It’s your life, there’s no judgement about what you do and don’t do. It’s all your choice as to how you wish to live and if you wish to do anything to ensure you are also looking after you. For me, personally I find when I am well rested and have some time out, I feel much more than refreshed. I have more energy, I am better focused, more efficient, I’m even a better parent and over all a better person to be around. I just had to have a think about what is important to me, what are my goals, what are my passions? I then wrote them out in bullet points and stuck them on my Fridge where I could see them. How was I going to regularly incorporate these things into my life? I have a calendar that has six columns. There is a column for each of the kids, a column for myself and a spare column for notes. I put everything on there, school, kids activities, birthday parties, family functions, appointments and it is also where I schedule in my time, whether it be exercise, meditation or an early night. It seems to work well for me, but as I always say, do what works for you. Below I have inserted a photo of my six column calendar and the goals list that is on my fridge.