Domestic Violence

I Won

CN for suicide, self harm, mental health

13 months after my personal independence payments were cut, I won my 2nd tribunal. 13 months of crowdfunding my rent. 13 months of reducing my food intake, buying the cheaper brand, going without, and feeling humiliated but on Friday, a panel ruled in my favour. There was no objection from the DWP representative who, I could have sworn, was even crying at one point. I felt bad for scowling at her after that!

I self harmed 4 times during that period, when I absolutely could not comply with the measures I’ve worked at to protect myself. I dissociated more frequently. I got as far as buying the instruments I would need to end it. Drew up a plan. Resisted writing the suicide note because that would make it final, and only because the people around me pulled through when I shared my invasive thoughts (a thing I was only able to do because I’d been taught, by my first therapist). They reminded me I’d managed to survive this long because people wanted to help me. They made me think about the people who look to me for strength and how my demise would impact on them. I didn’t really care in that split second but when the feverish urges passed I felt a bit sheepish I’ll admit. People do take strength from my courage.

When the DWP cut me off and sent me their decision, they said they were not disputing the fact that I had these disabilities just whether or not I qualified for personal independence payments. 13 months on and I’ve just been told I do. So was it really necessary to put me through this? What is its purpose otherwise? Survival of the fittest? It’s not strictly true anymore though is it? I’m nowhere near the fittest but I have recourse; to advocates, to friends who work in the public sector and health professionals who actually listen. Perhaps this mum didn’t?

Even with all the support I have, I came the closest I ever have to ending it. I didn’t enjoy asking for help, again and again, I was isolated and lonely as a result. I might be an anarcho-communist but I still have the hardwiring of a society that celebrates charity as a virtue but not if you’re on the receiving end. The shame still lingers. I didn’t want to die, I felt I had no other choice.

Recently I read about a young woman called Holly Cowlam who took her own life when she was diagnosed with depression. Holly had been studying psychology and so had some understanding of mental health. I get the sense, because she knew her chances in life would be greatly affected, as they are in a society that demonises mental health, she felt she had no other option. I know what that’s like; the shame and hopelessness. I refused to acknowledge my own mental health for 20 years, telling myself I was stronger than those others who had succumbed. In the end, you can’t really prevent it. I am the sum total of all the violence and treachery inflicted on me but with the right support, and freedom, and protection, I know I can get better.

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What I do not need, and could have really done without, was being treated like I’m making it up. As a repeat victim of sexual and domestic violence, gaslighting is a straight up trigger for my PTSD. Being treated like I am insignificant and somehow asking for more than what is my right, having paid into a system for many years and on an emergency tax code more often than not (I did a lot of temp work because I was sick even then only I wouldn’t admit it) eventually wore me down in a way my mental and physical conditions do not, because I believe I can overcome them (to an extent). I needed time and space to heal not to be hindered by a cruel and abusive process.

Advocates for humanity must ramp up the pressure on this government and demand justice for all those who’ve needlessly died in our country. The architects of social cleansing must be tried for their crimes against our humanity.

You can judge a country by the way it treats its animals/poor/prisoners/women/disabled folk.

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The Injustice of a Racist Britain

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White supremacy is in white people’s DNA. They’ve ruled the waves, they will never be slaves, they do the enslaving. From the toffs to the chavs they whip into a frenzy in the name of white skin, they all BELIEVE they are superior (unless they are actively dismantling white privilege and abolishing the structures that enable it).

You can show them evidence of white people’s crimes and they will minimise it, from the cops to the court system and beyond. The brutal murder and rape of Alesha McPhail at the hands of a 16 year old white male has been fairly muted compared to the sensationalist and somewhat salacious accounts being reported on the matter of jihadist teen brides keen to repatriate. No, I personally do not believe all should be forgiven and forgotten in cases such as these but I do not think we should be making children stateless (or anyone for that matter – NO BORDERS). If we can hide the identity of a 16 year old rapist and murderer who inflicted some of the worst injuries the police have ever seen on a 6 year old baby, a suspect who’s never shown any remorse, and continues to evade justice by perverting the course to it (he says the semen was planted on the child’s body by a vengeful Jezebel), then we can show compassion to a young person who was groomed into her role as a sort of useful idiot. There’s no confidentiality clause for young brown people when they are suspected of committing heinous crimes. No, not when 76% of Sun readers have made their minds up about letting her and the baby rot in their sorry refugee camp. With scenes from the BBC’s Bodyguard fresh in everyone’s minds, brown Muslim women are already condemned as traitors and terrorists, sly and sneaky. Why take the risk eh?

When Asian men groom young white girls everyone is up in arms (eventually) but their primary victims, their wives and daughters and mothers are fair game. Isis teen is born evil I guess, just like all the other darkies. Listening to her though, with the tiniest bit of compassion and understanding of the naive developing mind of a teenage girl (she was 15 years old when she was recruited) and not as an other but one of our own, born and bred, I can see only how she has been neglected and pushed to the limits by a society that has rejected her from the moment she was old enough to understand she was an other, and how easily a predator could have taken advantage of that. She appeals to the British public’s sympathy because that is the image we’re given of white people, they like to see themselves as magnanimous and she is aware of it, as we all are. Sadly I don’t think she actually believes it (as none of us do), but she’s desperate. She has given her newly born child the kind of protection she has never afforded herself. To her own detriment she is appealing for the safety of her child, as any mother would. She needs guidance and rehabilitation not spiteful retribution. People like Maajid Nawaz managed it but I have to wonder, is it because he routinely toes the British National party line on good and bad Muslims? Do you have to jump hoops to satisfy white interests? Swear allegiance to queen and country? A rhetorical question obviously, I can confirm this to be true.

Every day I see more evidence of white crimes, the likes of which chill you to the core and make you not want to step foot out of your front door or have your own children. I had a white lady anti vaxxer threaten to lick me, at one end of the batshit scale and read of threats to lynch women of colour MPs who dare to speak out against Brexit, down the other. I’ve had my own troop of white savages threatening to rape and kill me since a white journalist used an opportunity to deny racism was everywhere. Imagine if Helen Lewis had been sympathetic to our pleas all those years ago or any of her journalist friends instead of throwing us to their fascist following. Are we really going to let the media and politicians get away with the hellscape they’ve created?

Farage has recrutied 100,000 people to his newest fash party. Like all his other ventures into the mainstream this party has only one objective and that’s racism. He’s not building a legitimate party to win a war of words he’s putting together an army. He has threatened violence before. He has denied murderous violence, in the wake of the white supremacist slaying of Jo Cox in broad daylight. He is dangerous and should have already been blacklisted. Why hasn’t this happened?

The liberal/left wing media denied Britain was racist and turned everyone against the people who were trying to wake you up to this reality. Then they claimed antisemitism was the only racism any of us should pay attention to and rushed to the aid of European nationals threatened with repatriation under Brexit, whilst they quietly condemned the Windrush generation to deportation and destitution. They let brown foreign nationals die in hospitals from treatable diseases because their humanity is lost. Everywhere I look I see intense suffering of ethnic minorities and trauma that will span some generations to come and injustice wherever white people commit crimes.

To be a white supremacist is to be inhumane.

Sex abuse is synonymous with power

CN – Sex Abuse

Another day, another slew of reports on sexual predators facing justice in our criminal justice system, and how some of them evade it. The use of scare quotes for eg can suggest the reporter is scornful of the information being relayed or that it is has struck a chord with them, and is throwing it out there for the reader to make up their own mind. By introducing an element of doubt, by questioning the use of particular words they cast shadows on the validity of the interviewee’s opinion. The mainstream media don’t so much as report the news, or uncover grave injustices, they shape it, they can fashion it out of thin air. How would you know otherwise, unless you were there at the time? You don’t believe everything you read, do you?

20181115_183758‘Committed paedophile’ PC Ian Naude was convicted today of raping a 13 year old girl in the back of his car and filming the attack. He also pleaded guilty to 31 other offences including misconduct in public office and grooming of other teenage girls, one of whom threatened to kill herself. What’s particularly harrowing about this case is how Naude was due to start as a junior officer in 2017 but the process was put on hold when an allegation of rape was made against him. I believe them, and the authorities perhaps should have done too but no further action was taken and the recrutiment process was continued.

Thinking back to my work as a support worker for women fleeing male violence, the standards that must be satisified in order for a case to make it to the CPS are as much about whether or not a victim is telling the truth as they are about evidence against the perpetrator. Surely PC Naude would have been required to undertake a CRB check before he was permitted to interact with members of the public? They take a while to process for non police related professions, about 3 months, but the police have access to multiple systems including POVA and other registers for the protection of vulnerable children and adults they can check before the official papers come back. Odd then that the police authority failed to notice the two child grooming allegations naming him reported to Staffs and West Mercia police in 2017.

A persistent and ‘committed paedophile’, Naude was able to bypass security checks that should have flagged him up as a concern before he was ever recruited. He should never have been allowed to interact with members of the public least of all vulnerable minors who were looking to him for protection. He is not the first and he won’t be the last. The police should just stop expecting the public to trust in them when they cannot guarantee our safety in their presence.

Who can we trust? We can’t trust the police, who seem disproportionately represented in sexual and domestic violence statistics, they offend at a rate 5 times higher than the national average. We can’t trust the media, they spent decades watching and covering up Britain’s nasty treasures, and crawled out of the woodwork post Savile to confirm they had seen it all unfold but that stopped rather abruptly when we turned on them for being such useless complicit witnesses to horrific child abuse. I would suggest it’s one of the reasons they stay focused on Asian grooming gangs. The racist outrage and plots for revenge are all consuming, there’s no space to think about anything else. With propaganda focused on predatory savages, the police, media, government and all their collaborators got a get out of jail free card.

I suppose Lord Lester is so self assured in this scheme he can approach Asian survivors of violence like Jasvinder Sanghera (an inspiration to many women like myself) who founded the Karma Nirvana project in 1993 to provide culturally specific support to women experiencing domestic violence, and promise her a peerage if she slept with him. He groped her and chased her around his kitchen, after offering a place to stay when she missed the last train home. They had been working on changing the law to make forced marriage an offence, back in 2006. I remember that project, I too was involved in a small way when the Asian refuge I was working in invited members of the house of lords to come see the crucial work we were doing with women who had no recourse to public funds. I am utterly disgusted by the revelations that one of ours was being harassed and assaulted by the very people we were appealing to for social justice.

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I believe Jasvinder Sanghera. I am not at all surprised however that there are people including Lord Lester himself, saying she is a liar. What kind of a world do we live in when a trusted and upstanding member of a network that protects victims is being framed as dishonest? “I was acutely aware of the power imbalance”, she said “If I’d said anything, who would believe me?” She felt all the same things all victims do, even with her CBE and many awards and accolades. She has waived her right to anonymity because she continues to stand for all women, in every way she can.

She is going to need support, especially as it seems the establishment are doubling down. How on earth do we contend with the all powerful, those with such a blatant disregard for common people, who use their punitive powers to cast aspersions on victims and survivors? Jasvinder herself has said she feels as though she “has been victimised all over again”. Power has asserted itself.

They can frame it however they like, the mainstream media and politicians, we know different. They’ll print an article here, and another there, news they can’t afford to ignore but they won’t join the dots to expose the network, not like they do with Asian grooming gangs. There’s no middle page spread on the privileged establishment old boy networks running through the centre of all public services, because they run all the papers too. They’ll throw the odd working class monster to the dogs, for balance, but won’t ever report on the pervasive and far reaching sickness of familial child abuse, the most common of all sex abuses in the United Kingdom. You are more likely to be raped by your father or brother or uncle than you are ever to come in contact with an Asian grooming gang.

The problem is too huge to take care of one sector at a time. Instead we need a class war and survivors must take the lead.

Asian Woman Doesn’t Speak For Me

In 2010 I finally found the courage to turn my back on a toxic relationship I had suffered for 5 years. As an historic victim of child abuse with toxic internalised object relations, I had very little experience of healthy interaction within an intimate setting (my father was extremely abusive to my mother) I was hardwired to experience negative emotions in a positive light. My brain translated fear/anxiety into excitement. The very early interactions you have in a romantic relationship, unspoken even, determine whether you give someone a chance and if I’d been just like any other young woman in her 20s with a secure attachment to her early caregivers I would have given this man a wide berth. Unfortunately, I was not, and I was already in too deep the first time he revealed his true nature.

When people suggest victims of abuse could leave if it really was that bad, they are in fact suggesting they do not believe the victim. I tried, many times, to break it off, run as far as I could but abusers know you have nowhere to go, it is in fact one of the things that attracts them to you in the first place, not so much the neon sign on your forehead asking for trouble but the vulnerability we carry all around us, the sadness that seeps through and the need we have to fill all the empty spaces with love, whatever the cost. Estranged from my family, whom I’d fled to escape abuse, I found myself leaping out of the frying pan into the fryer, barely a year into the relationship, when he ‘put his foot down’ and decided he would no longer pander to me, because I had asked him to rinse the bath out after he was done.

Abusers know you have no recourse so they do what they like. They use your body, place their own thoughts and feelings in your brain, pushing yours into the furthest recesses where you can’t find them so easily, gaslighting you until you don’t know who you are anymore. You forget who you are, in a bid to keep them happy, because you know they’re capable of love and empathy, that’s how they draw you in, and you can’t help but wish it will be like that again someday. In the course of an abusive relationship a part of you dies forever. For what it’s worth I am glad that part of me is dead and buried, I was afforded the opportunity to be born again, in a sense. I am at peace with the fact my 20s were destroyed by this leech of a man who did not deserve me. One of the lasting memories I have, if only because of how ironic, is of various male friends of my exes crowing in disbelief he’d managed to score a girl like me. Of course, it was all done in the name of ‘banter’ and whilst I am not personally an advocate for jokes that make no one laugh but insult often vulnerable people, it did cheer me up and now I know they were telling the truth, which is probably why he used to get so upset back then and scream at them he had me cos he was worth it.

You might be wondering why I am bringing this reprobate up now, 7 years after I washed my hands of him. When feminists talk about domestic abuse in the context of gendered relationships, a binary set up, usually with one person in a traditionally male role and their partner female, this dynamic also being prevalent in homosexual relationships, we are keen to illustrate the difference in how this abuse is perpetrated because it matters. It matters in a society where opponents of feminism will accuse women of holding equal structural power and control and being just as likely to commit domestic abuse and get away with it. This is simply not true, gendered violence against women is encouraged in a patriarchal system. The penalties for gendered violence are poor, conviction rates abysmal and support is hard to come by. The rate for repeat offence is the highest in domestic abuse, compared to all other crimes. 76% of victims/survivors will endure further violence for daring to leave. There are many ways men continue to control women they believe to be their property, sometimes many years after the relationship broke down, directly but also indirectly, affecting your future relationships and career even.

This is where my ex Shihab Salim Joi creeps in. Despite his unacceptable behaviour during and shortly after our split, using gendered slurs against me, saying I was a slut for e.g. and good for nothing else he had the audacity to ask me for information regarding a book he was thinking of writing. He wanted to write about domestic abuse refuges and what could go wrong, and wanted to pick my brain for insider information. Obviously I said no. He promised me exposure, as though it was the magic word that would erase memories of him domestically abusing me (most of it was mental/financial/sexual but he thumped me a couple of times). I put *my* foot down and told him to get stuffed.

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A few years later, I was googling myself (at least I’m honest) when I saw a link to Asian Woman Magazine which confused me, I had written stuff for Asiana but that was when I was still dating the editor, Shihab Salim, his work for Asian Woman was definitely post-split, after he’d been made redundant as a victim of the credit crunch. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read what it said. Not only had someone used my name and job description from Asiana, I was the ‘agony aunt’ for a bit, they had given out the kind of advice an abuser would deem suitable. As a staunch feminist who hates most men I am hardly going to advise you pander to any manz fragile ego. If these shoddy little men can’t get a grip on their own toxic masculinity I would advise you kick their asses to the kerb and let them cry wank into the night, you are worth more than some man child who missed out on key developmental stages and really just wants you to be his mum. THIS is why I have written this post. When you google my name, or Shihab’s I want this link to show up too.

I contacted Issuu who said they cannot amend or delete any content without the publisher’s consent but the publisher/editor is as elusive as Wally, in that I can’t find her, even though her name is all over the internet. I can’t/won’t submit a DMCA request because copyright infringement would mean they used words I’d written without my consent and I want it noted I most definitely did not write the frankly, badly written frottage of an excuse for journalism published by J Wimal, clearly without editing, otherwise she would have known I wasn’t at all involved in Shihab’s shameless display of male entitlement and indirect harassment.

It has been 7 years and I am still having to deal with this man turd and his attempts to control my opportunities. This is why women don’t leave. We’re afraid they’ll carry out threats to destroy us, our reputations (as it is in my case), or even our lives, the 52 women murdered by their intimate partners every year a testament to this, for daring to think of themselves for a change, for saying enough is enough.

UPDATE: Issuu have quarantined the offending article as the publisher appears to have deleted their details from the Issuu database. Thank you to Jonas at Issuu for taking my concerns on board.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I will never cease to be amazed at the lies people tell, even when you have evidence to the contrary. What is going on in that tiny little brain of yours Shihab? Is it perhaps a barely veiled threat to out me, giving the name on my passport without my permission (kinda your MO), as though you can scare me into a corner in defense of my anonymity? You were one of the people who convinced me to change my name! You said you wouldn’t employ anyone who sounded like they might wear a hijab and suggested I include a photo of myself with my CV.

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That’s really odd, because if you really are telling the truth here that’d mean you also used my image without my permission.

It behooves you to tell the truth as it happened, Shihab, lies always have a way of unraveling themselves.

Poor Shihab, leaving a trail of angry ex girlfriends in his wake, when he is just a kind and decent sort. I’m not the first to say he’s an abuser, and I won’t be the last. I have plenty more evidence should anyone require it. You won’t take me to court because you’ll lose. Just saying.

The Politics of Violence Against Women

As a survivor of domestic violence and a repeat victim of online harassment and abuse, neither of which were acknowledged by the authorities or the commentariat responsible for throwing me to the trolls in the first place, I am angry but also demoralised by the display of ignorance and entitlement our feminist women MPs have treated us to the last few weeks.

Lucy Allan the Conservative member of parliament for Telford was found to have lied about the death threat she allegedly received in response to the fact she’d voted to bomb Syria. Similarly Stella Creasy lamented the ‘call doxxing’ she’d clearly imagined being as there is no such thing. Doxxing is what happens when someone trawls the Internet for your home and work details, pasting them online so that anyone can access your private information. Trolls and those with actual criminal intent (to rape or kill) are then free to hunt you down and hurt you. This hasn’t happened to Stella and even if it did the police would do their jobs, unlike the reality for the majority of victims who are not permitted to even defend themselves with words because it shows they weren’t frightened or intimidated by the perpetrator. Victim blaming aside, in my personal experience the authorities pass the buck on whose duty of care it is to safeguard vulnerable people online. If you’re an MP though, the cops are answerable to you, it’d be more than their job’s worth to treat the elite the way they do the rest of us plebs so to use this language not only incorrectly but to suggest there is no recourse is a blatant lie, especially when someone has already been jailed for getting on Creasy’s privileged side.

Siobhan McDonagh, another Labour MP claimed the attacks on her were comparable to domestic abuse, using emotive language in order to appeal for sympathy because we do care about victims in this country. Domestic abuse is so called because it happens in the home. It is where one person lives in fear of another, a relation, intimate partner, regardless of gender. It is not at all comparable to the righteous condemnation that goes hand in hand with being a representative for the people, particularly when you’re not doing a very good job of listening to your constituents. How do these MPs suggest we behave given that we’re being sold down the river for objecting to more war (and a million other policies) by these elitist warmongering neolibs?

However their words have not had the desired effect, instead survivors have expressed their dismay and unease at this appropriation of survivor language by women who should definitely know better. Why aren’t they trained in women’s issues, how can they be unaware of the ways in which patriarchy denies justice to victims on the basis that “women lie”? When one woman makes a false allegation of anything that is viewed within society as a women’s issue, it has a knock on effect for us all. It’s sad and unfair but a fact that whenever we do make progress we do so for the whole of womankind. Similarly when one of us fucks up, we make things difficult for all.

When Jeremy Corbyn was voted in as leader we were told how unfeminist it was to overlook the female candidates but the feminists themselves don’t understand how unfeminist it is to use these particular words in the wrong context, when so many women are denied justice.

Please stop using the words we use to describe our lived experiences. As marginalised people we need them to describe the actual things we suffer without justice and for people to understand what those experiences mean. To undermine this language is to undermine the work we do in the community and online to raise awareness of violence against women, something of which I’m sure the capitalist fems haven’t the slightest clue.

(To bomb Syria, where there will most likely be women and children is a feminist issue but then white feminism was adamant race wasn’t a feminist issue at all so they’re hardly going to join the dots here)

Shout your abortion

Following the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood services in America (state funded), abortion activists took to Twitter with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion to counter the arguments made by zealous anti choicers. If you’ve ever followed the ever present attacks on family planning or been involved in actions to support your local abortion clinic you’ll have been confronted by some very strange people indeed. With this in mind I knew that tweeting in solidarity would provoke a backlash, I just wasn’t as prepared for the kinds of things completely random people on the internet would say to me (and me, a seasoned survivor of trolls).

I tweeted:

I didn’t say I’d had an abortion or that I agreed or disagreed with termination (for the record, it’s your body, your choice) but I knew it would reach those people whose lives it had saved, at least those who acknowledged the established life within the pregnant person carrying a promise of potential life (20% of first time pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, 80% of those before 12 weeks gestation), which is in no way a baby or a person (person being a societal construct). When a foetus is squatting in your uterus it does not cancel out the life already in existence, without which the foetus wouldn’t exist at all. Bizarrely this fact seems to have escaped these people.

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Nope, not what I said at all

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Logic clearly evades you for refusing to accept there is life in the person carrying the foetus.

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This tweet is particularly interesting because it feeds into the idea that pregnancy is essentially a woman’s fault. By opening my legs I am consenting to a foetus being installed in there. If this person could acknowledge the sperm provider and the condom issue many men have (yeah sure, they’re ‘too tight’) and spread that responsibility about a bit I’d be less inclined to believe they were woman hating scum.

For example all these people with their righteous war on people who carry foetuses (I doubt very much any of these people has even considered the fact that other genders are also capable of pregnancy, this is a specific hatred driven at cis women for not being masculine/male/patriarchal).

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The idea that all unwanted pregnancies can be attributed to selfish promiscuous women is entirely misogynistic and anti woman. These people would probably accuse a woman of entrapment if she happened to get pregnant and wanted to *keep* the foetus. Similarly there is no sympathy for women choosing to abort because their life depends on it. Going back to my original tweet, I said it because I used to work as an advocate for women in abusive relationships and have seen firsthand the violence inflicted on women for being pregnant in the first place. 30% of all domestic abuse begins in pregnancy. This is because the pregnant partner is suddenly vulnerable and dependent. Controlling abusive people use this to their advantage. It’s not uncommon for perps to threaten forced miscarriage, the idea that they put the foetus in there and they can also take it out should the victim refuse their every whim. There are people who cannot grasp the complexity of human relationships, and crisis points, relationship breakdowns, never mind the systems we have created to control people according to kyriarchy so it is a bit of a reach on my part to expect compassion.

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You are not representative of almost 8 billion people worldwide.

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76% of women faced a further incident of violence for having the audacity to leave. The period after a survivor leaves the perp is the most dangerous, “if you leave I will hunt you down and kill your kids”. 

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This guy thinks we should run all decisions by him because it’s all about him. It’s not and he is nobody.

This assertion that complete strangers have of themselves as the saviours of the unborn would have more merit if they were willing to consider the life of the pregnant person but they cease to be human from the point of conception instead acting as a vessel for the precious new life everyone’s going to forget about once it moves out of the uterus. The pregnant person will be left with the foetus they did not want.. What’s that you say?

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Complete strangers think it’s ok to tell me to sacrifice my body and wallow in the guilt of my unwanted pregnancy which I’ll then have to hand over to a stranger, the system, uncertainty. Pregnancy can be life threatening, from the phsyical difficulties to the mental strain it can put on a person, no one has the right to torture you for having the misfortune of being born with a uterus. If pregnancy doesn’t kill you then labour might. Cis men have no say in the abortion debate because they will never carry a foetus or suffer the fallout if things go wrong. The reason they are so vocal on the anti-choice scene is because they are redundant if they do not exert patriarchal power and control. They won’t ever create life so they control it.

From the frightening to the downright ridiculous, opponents of bodily autonomy reveal more about themselves than the people they target, they’re nosy and perverse, poking around in strange uteri.

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Ah, Americans.

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I keep looking for the illegal thing I’m supposed to have said but to no avail.

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If a person is feeling suicidal cos they’ve been forcibly impregnated, an abortion is life saving and I would go as far as saying therapeutic in terms of their recovery, and regaining control of their own life.

Every single one of these people and the many I didn’t document failed to see the hypocrisy in their words. The life of the foetus cancels out the life of the person carrying it, without whom the foetus wouldn’t exist at all. Personally I’m not here to change your thoughts on abortion or bring you round to my superior way of thinking – something anti-choicers may want to examine in themselves – but to ask you to cast the first stone only when you can say you are completely sin free.

Also, this stance on abortion seems to be as far as they’ve got in terms of a world view and how that actually works in practice. They’re all ‘save the foetuses’ but how many of these advocates shared the same enthusiasm for the precious lives of Syria’s existing children, rejected by Europe, asleep in the freezing cold, barely surviving? Or the fully formed babies with given names blown to pieces in Palestine? How about the severely disfigured infants of Fallujah? Selective outrage makes a mockery of the whole pro-life movement. The planet is exhausted by our reproductive efforts, live viable children are treated as though vermin, domestic abuse blights the lives of some of those foetuses saved by those ignorant of life in its entirety, yet hellbent on power and control. That’s all it is.

Why the truth matters to me

truth

Growing up a stranger in the place of your birth is disorientating. Asides from the challenges one might encounter when starting at a new school, like making friends, children with foreign parents have to overcome additional obstacles in order to fit in. They must learn another language sometimes, as I did, but language is one of those things small children master within a surprisingly short period of time. Other barriers to assimilation are not so easy to tackle and there are so many, it’s no surprise people from ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately with poor mental health.

When you are told you are, but also feel, a member of the underclass, you either buy into the narrative – especially when you’ve not been taught to think critically – or you seek to distance yourself from the perceptions others have of your people. You buy into their hate or your own, in a bid to survive, but to survive well. Self-love just isn’t an option. I was conscious of the lies I needed to tell if I had any hope of accessing the world I wanted to belong to as early as age 6 when I decided I wanted to be called Sam. Even for one so young and innocent I had an inkling Sam was a name they just couldn’t mess with. It was English for a start. I didn’t have to spell it out every time, or have people poke fun at it, whether my peers or teachers (who should have known better). Even at this age I knew I had to change who I was if I was to have a fighting chance in life.

Racism wasn’t the only thing that informed the shaping of an identity that sat at odds with who I was inside. In fact as time went on, it became less of a conscious thing and something I normalised, and believed everyone did. Of course I now know this isn’t true, that many people are born into their identities and have the freedom to express them without the judgmental white gaze waiting for them to slip up.  Or the limitations of a violent home, living your days in fear of attack, never knowing where the next hit was coming from, desperately trying to cover up the evil truth from outsiders, in case they confirmed you did actually deserve the abuse you endured.

I was bubbly and outgoing, smart and organised, my mouth permanently fixed in a smile. I was part of the school council, a class monitor, a straight A student, a member of the quiz team and captain for rounders, netball and cricket. We were the champions of it all. None of the teachers would have guessed the situation at home was escalating, that we were living in fear and self-harming. My personality was split early on, through necessity; I had to be two different people in order to survive. Entering the big wide world as a teen on the run, I had to invent another persona to fit in with all these interesting new London types from all over Europe and beyond. When I left school, I left my world, my friends, my life behind. I had to learn how to speak in a way that didn’t set southerners off in a fit of giggles at my dulcet Brummie drawl. I had to be flexible if I was going to make it, whatever it would take. I lapped up my token status as the one who wasn’t like all the others, as though this was a reflection of my amazingness and not a divisive and racist microagression used by white people to remind you of your place (not so worthy but not so bad either, a reminder to keep doing what it is you’re doing for cookies), and keep you from questioning their problematic views.

Of course I didn’t know then that I didn’t have to be so amenable. I was on the run from a culture I had rejected because of the ways in which it made me a target and was desperate to adopt new ways to help me blend in. I became so many different things to so many people; I forgot who I was and what I wanted. I lived a life where I was manipulated by people who identified this willingness to please and then exploited it. I was used and abused, scapegoated. I was called a liar for keeping secrets I was too afraid to share. A gestalt therapist I accessed through my work noted that I smiled when I spoke of negative things and asked me to consider the incongruence between my words and my body language. I had become so jumbled up in my thoughts I began to dissociate whenever I was afraid. There was drug abuse, promiscuity, domestic abuse in my intimate relationships whilst I struggled to hold down a job as an advocate fighting for victims of domestic abuse. I was my own best example of bad practice though it did have the bonus of making me non-judgmental, however hopeless a situation might have seemed, I believed it was essential they had access to the same support. Cops for eg are less likely to want to help repeat victims, especially those who may have been warned off from being a witness previously (cos it’s all about them and paperwork, not an infectious social disease).

I couldn’t find my way out of my living hell. I couldn’t access the support to do so because then people would know my secret; that I was ugly and horrible, and undeserving of love and respect. That I should die. My adult relationships confirmed the self-hatred I had as a small child; nothing I did would ever change the fundamental flaw from within, my low social standing as the daughter of immigrants who never did escape the ghetto or the colonial mind-set (despite the straight As) and respect for hierarchy (within patriarchy). I was a slag before I had even kissed a boy, they must have known what I would grow into I reasoned.

A tragic incident in my personal life provided the catalyst for PTSD. All the feelings I’d ever suppressed bubbled to the surface and consumed me. I existed, and that’s all I can say for my consciousness over the period of a year except that I never want to go back there. With the right support, I was able to identify the pathways responsible for the ‘random’ panic attacks. I sorted the snapshots in my mind onto the correct collages and vowed to trace them back to the first triggers so that I could beat them. In order to do this, I have to be 100% honest with myself and everyone else or the carefully constructed administration of my mental health will fold in on itself.

A huge part of my recovery is about owning my genuine mistakes and experiencing them in a way that doesn’t cripple me with anxiety (the white commentariat can go to hell for the ways in which they hindered my progress, not forgetting the PoC who’ve perpetuated the lies about me).

Don’t lie to (or about) me; I will come at you with the rage of a woman who knows she is being gaslighted, because it triggers a collage of all the people who’ve knowingly put me in harm’s way, by minimising, denying and erasing my experience of things. I always feel a little crazy following a spat with people who lie because it hits me hard in a way you cannot appreciate. Sunny Hundal occupies the same brain space as the mosque teacher who molested me and continued to enjoy the kudos of being a holy man. Helen Lewis triggers the same feelings as the guy who molested me at 15 then said he’d heard I was a slag so thought he’d try his luck. That dude denies to this day that he ever put a finger on me.

If I say something and it seems dishonest to you, run your concerns by me, to my knowledge I am always telling the truth. I do however appreciate the arbitrary nature of most things so if you know better, do tell. I won’t lie and say it doesn’t help if you’re already a friend, coming at me with criticisms, however well intentioned, won’t end well if we’ve barely exchanged a RT, or even the bare minimum of support considering the shitehole the internet can be (and has been towards me).