The Daily Routine

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I Never Loved My Body. Here’s Why.

When I broach the topic of my own sexuality and where I am inside of it, I am sometimes told that my state of mind and feelings regarding my sexuality are just skewed by my child sexual abuse. I don’t completely disagree with that perspective. It’s not a new concept. It’s a scientific fact that child rape shatters a human both mentally and physically.

I do however, disagree that’s its skewed. I wouldn’t use that specific word.  My whole view of sexuality was formed from being raped as a child.  To define my perspective as skewed is implying that I once had a choice to know what sexuality even was.  Just as I have had to travel a path of re-programming my DNA back to its authentic thought perspective form, to expel physical and mental childhood trauma, so I’ve also had to do work specifically with my sexuality.

 “You see, I’ve never loved my body, but not because my body isn’t lovable. It’s that the natural urge to love myself in any way was taken from me by abusive adults.”

Vennie Kocsis

You see, I’ve never loved my body, but not because my body isn’t lovable.  It’s that the natural urge to love myself in any way was taken from me by abusive adults.  When I say, “never loved my body”, I don’t mean standing naked in front of a mirror and being happy with what I see. I didn’t love my body by not caring how it was used. I didn’t know what boundaries were. I didn’t know that I had an option of saying no. By the time I was old enough to learn I could say no, I was formed into a fearfully compliant and sexual system. I often moved into a space of sexual robotics, dissociated away from the act itself, even convincing myself that I loved individuals I did not love, so the programmed guilt of my sexuality would not plague me.

Growing up in a religious cult, I was taught that my body was a temple. Masturbation was a sin. Females who had sex before marriage were vile, dirty whores. Girls who were caught being seductively raped by much older men were blamed for their own fear and compliance. We were taught that our bodies belonged to the Christian God until a husband was chosen for us.

We were taught purity in conjunction with being raped by pedophiles, who came in droves to backwoods communes full of children; pedophiles who sought healing from the religious ministry, a ministry more intent on their doctrine and accepting the pedophiles into the fold to cast out the “pedophile demon”, than on the safety of us children.

If you think all rape is violent you are wrong. There are many ways a predator takes what they want from children and/or adults. Sometimes it’s soft coercion through gifts and items given, so the predator can later say, “Now you owe me.” Sometimes it’s offering sweets, toys or gadgets to little children. Sometimes it’s seducing a teenager or adult who blindly believes and hopes for love. Sometimes there is the use of drugs and/or alcohol. Sometimes it is taken by force as the victim fights to no avail. The list of ways rape is enacted is long and varying.

The media tends to highlight violent rape when soft coercive rape is possibly more often used. It can leave even the victim blaming themselves. It can coerce the victim into believing they participated and even enjoyed it. It shatters the mind into countless pieces.

Whether through physical violence or mental coercion, when the intent of the rapist is to TAKE for them-self, it is, indeed, rape. It is not a fully consensual act.  Children cannot consent to and should not be consenting to sexual acts.  It is a violation for which there is no coming back.  There is no argument for this.  The fact that child rape damages a human so deeply, is proof enough of its dissecting aftermath.   When fear or falseness is involved in the taking of anything from another human without their awareness, it is an absolute act of taking. It leaves scars. It leaves a broken body and mind as the predator walks away full and fed.

Shattered throughout my whole-body system, physically and neurologically, I ran through life in many modes. At times I was in fight or flight for days. Other times I was dissociated. I had other states of being come into my forefront as the authentic me wandered and self-moved like a robot behind them. I had no way to gauge what was healthy for me.

I would search many facets of sexuality, from bisexuality to the lifestyle of fetishes and BDSM; to poly-amorous attempts and more. Being a sexual abuse survivor, I had no self-awareness to connect my spirit with my sexuality.  I had yet to call my soul back into my body.  Instead, sex became a way to both numb and sometimes expel rage and pain.

I had been trained to never say no. I had been trained that saying no would leave me punished and/or shunned.  Saying no meant I wasn’t a good person.  Saying no meant I was selfish. I had been trained for compliance since the age of three. It was all that my mind and my body ever knew.

Many victims of sexual abuse take a journey through exploring extreme sexuality. I do not blame them or judge them for this journey. There is both a disconnect and a confusion in the mind towards our sexuality when we have been raped starting at a very young age. We sometimes become dominant to control being hurt. Yet, in the quiet of our mind, the pain still exists. We sometimes become compliantly submissive, believing if we give our bodies fully, that we will be loved, often ending up further abused.

I am not ashamed of my sexual past.  You should not be either.  Let no one shame you, and please do not shame yourself.  All my experiences, especially the ones which left me hurt and damaged, with more scars, remnants of my pain left in the hands of men who only cared about their own wants and having visuals to hold for their own pleasure, have formed me into who I am today. This does not erase their accountability for their predatory behavior. Acceptance is merely my path to freeing myself from the hold these sexual patterns have had on me.

I believe deeply in my own sacred sexuality. I now know that my vagina belongs to MY body. I am not a fan anymore of the ideal that sacred sexuality means giving my body away. This does not at all feel in alignment with my spirit or what makes me feel comfortable inside.

I have misgivings about the industry of sacred sexuality. It is a new-age trend rife with predators, many seemingly moving through one partner after another, and charging money to other humans to “free them from their sexual traumas and blocks”. One can only wonder the effect this has on individuals emotionally, especially when they have been severely sexually abused. I see the trends of sexual gurus, and their followers crawling behind them, believing that “free sex” means “healed wounds”.  I’ve see the aftermath from those who have awakened to understand they were being preyed upon by ill-intended individuals.

I am becoming very comfortable in owning this personal space. As the numbers of my age rise, the more I am deeply connected to the ethereal strand holding my body together. I have come to many realizations over the years. I have given my body to other humans for the wrong reasons, most of which did not align with my greater good.

Sexual healing, for me, has been learning to say no without fear of rejection and loss.

Healing from my sexual abuse has meant being willing to walk away from anyone who can’t respect the space I am choosing to be centered into, who would still coerce me or place me in a compliant or humiliating position, even after me having said it wasn’t where I wanted to be.  Healing has meant walking away from those who may have a hold on this part of me. Healing is putting my body first in health and energetic care.  Healing has involved learning to be alone with myself without feeling lonely and loving my body with a healthy perspective.

I dare say be mindful of your intuition, fluttering there below your rib cage. If you feel as I feel, in a space of exclusivity, with no urge to give yourself to others out of a “free sexuality” trend following or patterns of past abuse, don’t let anyone persuade you away from yourself.  Do not judge, but more so, do not let yourself be judged for not following along with any patterns of group think.  You have the right to be an individual with your own choices.

This poem grew out of this journey, as my childhood sexual abuse has been the deepest wound I’ve had to clean.  It is the wound which has held the densest toxins and had the strongest hold on me.

Somewhere

There are kisses invisible

Sent by men who

Stare at ceilings

Dripping with strands

Of hair.

I don’t dare travel there.

Imagine surprises;

Beach town getaways,

Watching watery sunrises.

But aloneness

Doesn’t call

For such privileges.

Floating to other circles,

Hoping for different hues;

Something new,

Unfamiliar.

Some call it

‘Being loved unconditional.’

I don’t know what

That feels like.

I know abuse and use,

Sex feigned as passion.

Forever exists;

Waiting somewhere.

by Vennie Kocsis, 2015

As I am rising higher inside of my own power, I am wielding an invisible sword called boundaries.  I reserve and demand the right to say no. I do not consent to being love bombed and flattered into giving myself away. I hold onto my power, as it is my sovereign right to be in full control of my human body. My mind can no longer be persuaded to go against the greater good of my own thoughts and desires.

As it is, so shall it be.  img_3657Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of CULT CHILD, and hostess of Survivor Voices radio show every Sunday at Freedom Slips.

VennieKocsis.com

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Are You Successful?

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“From Waif to Warrior” by Vennie Kocsis – Available for Purchase at: vennie-kocsis.pixels.com

I was asked “Do you feel successful.”

Yes. I do.” I answered.

Their face squinched up.

But you don’t even own a house.”

I had to chuckle. I wasn’t offended. I actually welcome these conversations. It opens up perspective. I was able to explain that I have never wanted to be tied to a mortgage. I don’t like being tied to payments period. I have never had that desire. Anytime I was, it was a great struggle for me. I felt chained and inside of the humanoid mill.

I have always been a wanderer, a traveler, even at times, a runner, from situations I couldn’t handle. But I never have longed for riches or looked at that as a definition of success. If I ever longed for it, it was in a thought of how many people could be helped if wealth was in the hands of the compassionate. Yet, mainly, my mind is always ablaze with possible creations, projects, new ideas to filter in or let blow away in the wind.

You see, I am successful because I walked through fire, burning and scalded to now stand in the most authentic space I’ve ever felt. I am successful at owning the totality of my own life, shamelessly. I am successful because I wrote my story, years of aching and crying, vomiting into plastic bags, most often alone, in dark rooms, screaming out the childhood torture to expel it from my molecular structure.

I am successful for the songs which flowed through me to soothe my spirit and the poetry book so eloquently penned; that I found my gratitude and can look at four brilliant, independent publications. MY hands made those. MY DNA poured those timeless scrolls into tangible literary works. I am successful because they will remain forever, precious to someone.

I am successful because I get to be who I was born to be. I get to create art. I get to CREATE anything I wish. I get to call my own shots. I get to stand in a place of empowerment and not fear of loss. I am successful because I am at peace in this space.

Our definition of success could be defined the moment we are doing what we love, when we are healing and growing. Maybe therein is the critical switch, a word definition, away from accumulation and into inspiration.

I am successful.

Vennie Kocsis is the author of CULT CHILD and host of Survivor Voices Show, airing every Sunday @ 6PM PST. She is an advocate against child abuse and indoctrination. She is an artist and poet residing in the Pacific Northwest.

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#MondayBlogs – A Cult Memory

Growing up in Sam Fife’s Move of God cult, reading material on the Delta Junction, Alaska, compound was very censored. Magazines had pages, pictures and sections removed, all deemed by the cult leaders to be “bad for our minds.”

One girl managed to sneak in The Chronicles of Narnia, The Borrowers and Stuart Little, which she let me borrow, quickly read and give back to her with the promise I wouldn’t tell anyone she had them.

One of my cherished possessions was a box set of The Little House On the Prairie series which I found in the clothing bank, a community room where we could rummage through all the personal belongings other people gave over to the cult. I read and re-read those books until the pages were falling out.

In my post-cult teenage life, at the age of fourteen, one of my first introductions to television would be Little House On the Prairie series starring Melissa Gilbert. I would weep hysterically when Mary went blind.

These books were a comfort to me in the cult. So much about Laura’s life was familiar; the isolation, the hard work, the struggles of growing up in a primitive and patriarchal world.

I received a sweet random act of kindness the other evening when my brother stopped by to give me a “never been used” color version set of the Little House on the Prairie series he’d found. It warmed me to hold these books in my hands again. He is always thoughtful with gifts.

I was momentarily swept back to how often I fell into books, reading them over and over. Watership Down, the tales of Laura Wilder and the many pieces of literature that got me through, let me escape the trauma and somehow made me feel less alone.

Books are treasures. They are a place where many of us kids jumped to escape the traumatic surroundings we so desperately hoped to one day be brave enough to run from. We must preserve them and encourage children to read, taking a break away from technology.

Vennie Kocsis is the author of CULT CHILD and host of Survivor Voices Show, airing every Sunday @ 6PM PST. She is an advocate against child abuse and indoctrination. She is an artist and poet residing in the Pacific Northwest.

I Know Anger. It Is the Unleashing of Pain.

I visit Ethnic Fest in my city today and encounter an end times, sign toting, fear dealing kid in the park who I wind up so hard, his last words screeched at me are “WOMEN SHOULD SUBMIT TO MEN!”

But let’s back up. It happens like this. I admit. I bait him. I see the big, hypocritical sign. I go cynical and comedic. I go in for the kill. However, he IS partially responsible, since he walks my way.

Everything in its season, yes? Maybe it is his time to be touched.

When he walks by, I beckon him to a table where I sit with friends. They remain silent throughout. Then so, the conversation between the two of us begins.

“I have a question, sir.” I ask politely, pointing to his sign. “What if God tells me to believe something that Jesus says I should never obey? What then?”

“That would never happen.” He states.

“Then why tell everyone to do that?” I ask.

So begins our back and forth banter as I “innocently” start pecking at his cognitive dissonance. I ask blanketed biblical questions as if I “kinda” know the Bible. He quotes scripture like a robot. I act curious. I am wringing him like a sponge to see where his head is.

Then a couple of things happen, and things change to a negative tone very fast.

ONE

“So, the whole ritual of eating bread and drinking the juice, what does that represent?” I ask.

I have on bright blue eyeliner. I am shiny, smiling and leaned forward in interest. To him, I am a potential. His face lights up at the chance he now has. He believes he is educating me. He is in an undercover linguistic role reversal, and his ego is blind to it.

“This is how we signify ourselves. Jesus said, eat of my flesh and drink of my blood…”

“So like cannibalism.” I interrupt.

That’s when the body language shift happens. I see his muscles tense and the anger set in. He just got challenged. This is against the rules. No one trained him for this one.

“YES!” I think to myself. “I’ve got him.”

TWO

At this point, a very attractive young woman, in her possible mid twenties, passes, and she low fives him. I watch as they lock hands for a second. She has on a long, body fitting and low cut, bright green maxi dress. She sashays her hips as her shoulder-length, brown hair sways over her back.

“Good job, Brother.” She says directly to him.

“Thanks!” He responds.

His face changes as she passes. His ego was just injected. He is reminded of why he does what he does, by that beautiful girl in the green dress who says “Good job.” That feels good, something no one often said to him in life. My senses are reading multiple movements, emotions and gray areas at once.

“Flirty fishing, huh.” I say casually.

“Yeah.” He laughs. “No, wait, huh?” His face changes to very serious.

“Oh, there was this cult. You know they used attractive females to lure members.” I explain.

“Oh, no. That was just a girl I met in the parking lot who’s a Christian and KNOWS what I’m saying is true.” He is defensive.

He doesn’t catch my subtle hint, that I am educated on luring and religious scamming; that I used the word cult; that I get she is giving him her approval, and I just watched him soak it in like it was his last drink; that there’s no parking lot anywhere close to the park. She represents their possibility. Evangelism brings income, and pretty Christian girls bring possibilities.

But hey, that’s just semantics. Back to the more important topics.

“Ok, so back to the cannibalism.” I re-direct.

That word is a trigger word for him so I make sure and use it again. I want him to think about it every time he takes his communion. I want to plant anti-virus words inside his programming. He scrambles to talk about signification, and I watch him change with agitation as the conversation grows.

I am fascinated with his body language and eye movement. Each piece of debate is flipping and turning him. I play with him, arguing scriptures, letting him feel like he is winning, and I stay dumbed down.

I rile him back up by accusing him of disobeying the Bible by arguing with me, but because I won’t tell him the exact verse to back that up, he says it’s not in there.

“You haven’t read the whole Bible then.” I reverse taunt. “If you did, then you’d know that verse.”

I want him go look it up, in his need to be right and find he’s wrong. Just a couple cracks in the screen.

I ask him what church he attends. He tells me they don’t have a church. He tells me that they go to people’s houses, “PREY” with them and have Bible studies.

“So what’s your story. Tell me about your past.”

He immediately shuts down.

“I don’t talk about my past because God instructs us to be ashamed of our pasts. To ask for forgiveness for those sins, but to stay in shame. They are not to be boasted about. Aren’t you ashamed of your past?” He demand.

“Not at all.” I calmly reply. “The Bible says to testify about the struggles we come out of.”

“Well, you should be.”

Ah, the crazy making. That is supposed to trigger my shame. Yet, I have none to trigger.

“How sad.” I say quietly, looking directly at him. “To live in shame.”

He is talking over me now, and he is angry. I understand talking over. It is akin to choking someone to shut them up. He is now telling me that I am a woman, and God instructs me to submit to him. I laugh. I can’t help it. It’s funny. I know this one also. They’re trained to try and trigger females with that stupidity. It’s a sad state of mind.

I try to give him a card. He refuses to touch if. Like it might be a demon. I am glad he doesn’t take it. I’m good with this wacko not knowing who I am.

I can see he is really riled up in a very negative angry way. His roots are rocked. I know anger. Anger is the unearthing of pain.

I feel I should probably make a slight turn to calm him and wrap this up.

“Well, let me ask you something. Does the Bible say God is love?”

“It does.” He agrees, still agitated, his foot tapping rapidly.

“And we are made in God’s image?”

“Yes.” He agrees again.

“Then we are all love by that definition?” I ask softly.

He is suddenly silent. It is as if a robot has been turned off. I am actually surprised at this silence. I expected an immediate robotic response of some contrary scripture as has been his pattern. I didn’t think it would be this simple of a concept which would stump his “hell, hatred, believe and obey” theology. He appears, for the first time, to have grasped a simple thought.

I decide it is a perfect time to be done.

“Hey, thanks for talking to me. Now we can go be love!” I say cheerily, waving my hand as I turn back around to the table.

He walks away, carrying his huge sign as he calls back that I am a wicked, evil woman sinner that should submit to him aka he didn’t, as the man, get the last word in or win the possibility of my pocketbook. Or to shove his questions down; to make me the villain because being wrong isn’t an option.

And I’m thinking “People actually let this man in their homes.”

As my friends and I walk out I see another young man just like the one I’d been speaking with. He has this fancy loud speaker hanging around his neck. It has volume buttons and is attached to a headset and microphone; like the ones used at trade shows.

This guy is also holding a sign and is standing on the corner screaming to the people passing by, talking about their sins. No one is paying any of them attention. They are just park nuisances.

“You sound like Jim Jones.” I lean in fast and hard, hoping my voice picks up on the microphone.

He turns the volume off.

“What?” He asks.

“You sound like Jim Jones.” I repeat.

“Who’s that?” He’s got this confused look on his face.

“Google him. He was a preacher who talked in a microphone just like yours.”

The fact he doesn’t know who Jones is lets me know these individuals are trained cultists who’ve been sequestered from common known truths and possibly internet access. Evangelistic missions with youngsters like this are managed by their handlers, who keep them on tight leashes.

These are swindlers’ puppets standing on festival corners looking for their handler’s next victim. Their masters have chosen the most programmed, best looking and youngest, yet legal, of them to send into the streets.

I think of Scam City. There is a tier racket going on. Extremists looking for followers. He has no church. His church is gaining entrance to people’s homes and lives with the use of a religion.

This is a dangerous criminal racket for which the “tourist” of life should be aware. Becoming a “tourist”, away from our own capable existence, molds a human into prey for the predators who use their religious wares to reel in the “tourists” who’ve become lost. But it’s a scam. Beware the mind pickpocket. They take your thoughts AND your wallet.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of CULT CHILD and other publications. She is the host of Survivor Voices Show on Freedom Slips; Studio B.

Why You Should Think Twice Before Collaborating


In my twenty plus years of writing and creating art, I have rarely collaborated with other creatives. I enjoy being a stand alone, independent person. Experience has also taught me some harsh lessons in regard to collaberating.

There was one good time on Paltalk in the early 2000’s when I sang a hook for a producer in Las Vegas. We did that for fun, creating a parody song. I still have the copy of it and occasionally listen, enjoying the memory. That one was a casual and positive, collective collaboration.

The few other collaborations I’ve done have left me jaded. I hear this often from indie creatives. So why does collaborating with other creatives end up like this?

What I have experienced is a simple lack of ethics and a self-serving intent. They simply don’t give a shit. They don’t think their behavior will ever come back to haunt them.

When I say I’m going to do something for someone I do it. If I’m having struggles producing the exchange I promised, I communicate about it. I care about my character as a creative being.

In my experience, ethical creatives are difficult to find, especially when dealing with any Hollywood related type individual. My personal experience had been that many of them are narcissistic sharks who will love bomb a person with a fantastic promise; a lie to get what they want. If you plan to deal with Hollywood types, armor up and lawyer up.  Frankly, lawyer up period. 

Sometimes collaborating can be a great advantage for a creative who is starting out. It allows for networking and connection. I support guest blogging for writers. You get to control your content and you can share it as much as you want. I highly recommend this platorm for writers. I don’t consider this to be collaboration persay, as there is normally no exhange promise or writing as a collective. Guest blogging expands the reader platform for your writing.

However, in regard to exchange collaboration, the question remains. Is there going to be a balanced exchange of product and the sharing of creative work?

My previous, and certainly final, experience in being burned on exchange collaboration happened like this.

In 2015, I made a collaboration exchange agreement through email with a videographer. I wrote a poetic script for the videographer’s short video. In exchange, the videographer was going to make a video for one of my pre-recorded spoken word poetry pieces.

I emailed the videographer three of my recorded pieces. In a return email, they decide they liked my poem “Illusion”, a piece I had not publicized and would do so with the video was given to me to publicize. The videographer asked if they could put some music to to my poem. I agreed.

I waited. I watched the videographer making videos for other people, but my video had not arrived. I gave them time. I understand that paying projects come first. That’s how I work as well.

The following year, the videographer and family went through a transition, moved, had to re-settle, and so I gave space for them to balance out. Being patient and giving allowances, I waited, didn’t bother them, figuring when their dust settled, I’d receive what I was promised.

I observed as they did just that, becoming a part of a sensationalized situation. I still held space, feeling that advocacy work came first.

Yet, I saw the videographer was making videos and doing photo shoots for people. So, I decided to email and see had they forgotten about me? Possibly. It can happen when people go through life transitions. 

Ok. I stay in my critical thinking, hoping I’m not witnessing what my gut had really told me from the beginning; that people will use others for gain, then throw them away.

I messaged the videographer on Facebook messanger. I could see the person had just been active a mere fifteen minutes earlier.

Again… my message Ignored.

They’ve been active on Facebook messenger since I sent the message.

Still ignored.

So, I am resigned to take it for what if is and let it go. Now I know how these people are. True colors have shown themselves. They attach to people for as long as they might gain from them and then its seemingly over.

I do things in writing for a reason. I am a writer who likes to have proof of truth. I document. I keep emails and messages.

It was 2015 when I originally handed over the script for their video. In 2016, I have Facebook communications about the video I was supposed to receive. It is now 2017. I still have nothing.

This is about seeing the ethical system of other people. Instead of a simple response of “hey, oh gosh, so sorry this has taken so long thanks for being patient.“, I am ignored.

Guess what that triggers? Shunning. Being extracted from.  A myriad of emotional battery replaying. 

When I am treated this way, if someone asks me about them, they’ll get the truth of my negative experiemce. I don’t run in popularity contests. I don’t use people for personal gain then throw them away.

I’m not as pissed off at the lack of being given what I was promised, as I am at the blatant disrespect of being ignored. I’m no longer promoting those who are unethical people. I don’t care who they are. If you got mentioned by me in a radio interview, or your work shared to my thousands of followers and then fucked me over, you will never be promoted by me again.

There are no second chances when someone openly disrespects me. I don’t play nice. I don’t kiss the ass of academia, which is slowly phasing and dying out. I don’t worry whether someone is going to like or even endorse my work. Why?

Because running on this mindset is a recipe for being used, being bullshitted and it’s frankly, inconsequential. Most readers don’t give a shit if your novel has a forward written by someone with PhD after their name. unless you are writing an academic book.

Readers read content. I usually skip forwards as a reader, to get to the meat of a book. Most readers I know do the same. Blurbs don’t impress me either.  You can have a blurb from a president on your publication. If your book doesn’t interest me, that blurb is not going to make me buy it.

Additionally, it doesn’t necessarily sell your book. Marketing knowledge and the money to invest in advertising will sell your book/product.

So all of the spazzing and pining and usery I have experienced in my decades of being a public creative, from my experience, means nothing except being the teacher of lessons.

What matters to your audience is how well you write and create and more than ANYTHING, personally connecting with your target market.

In summary, my advise and perspective is to focus your time and energy on YOUR own work. Don’t give it away. Definitely don’t give it away on a promise, even in writing. Unless you have the resources and desire to sue, should you not receive what you were promised, more often than not, you will find yourself empty handed.

I also don’t want you to pattern your networking based on my experiences. Just take them into consideration and move forward better armed to build your boundaries.

And without QUESTION, follow your INTUITION. If your tummy feels off about it, say no and don’t look back. Don’t live in the mindset you “need” people to be successful. You only need authenticity and consumers for your product.

As you rise, people will tell you how much they can do for you, that their collaberation will make your work better, that their written forward will boost your sells and more. I disagree. I know authors with forwards by academia who are making nothing on their books because they have no marketing skills. 

Good marketing is what matters. Investing in yourself matters. Your own voice will sell your product. So, think twice before collaberating. And remember, the imagined professional reference you think might endorse your product could also lose you consumers if that professional is not respected. 

 Don’t be afraid to stand alone.

Child Abuse Injuries


These are the days when my childhood haunts me; when my hips ache like they’ve been beaten with a mallet; when my neck goes tight all the way down to my lower back, and the irritation sits deep in my throat. These are the days I hold private, away from the possibilities of careless minds. These are the days I ask why they did that to me as a child, leaving me with sporadic days where my sacrum cries out in pain from the shatters, and I struggle to move myself around, when all I want to do is keep my legs propped up to relieve the pressure from my hips. When physical pain is a result of childhood beatings, and there is no cure, a rage fills you, because you didnt consent to be broken. So I go quiet, and I cry through it, and then I rise the fuck back up.

Children’s Book Review: RASCAL FARMS

I am a lover of children’s books. Amazon’s merge into digital children’s books to accommodate Kindle was a great step in keeping up with fast advancing technology.

When Brad Peterson of Synesthesia Books submitted to my blog for a review of RASCAL FARMS by author, Anderson Atlas, I jumped at the chance to review this publication for children. 

Brad cordially sent over an e-version of RASCAL FARMS, along with a blurb for the book.

“Raccoon, gets tired of hunting. He decides to steal food from a farm nearby. Bear gets in on the action as does Fox, Badger and Owl. But the farm soon runs out of things to steal. The rascals learn how much they hurt the farmers and make amends. They choose to work together for their food by building their own farms and trading with each other.”

I set off with my electronic notebook to have story time and read RASCAL FARMS with my two eldest granddaughters, ages 10 and 6-years old. I thought there could be no better feedback to gain, than that of the children themselves.

RASCAL FARMS is filled with great art. I can only assume that Anderson Atlas is both artist and author since there is no illustrator credited, at least not in the version I was sent.

Colorful and wonderfully symmetrically drawn, Raccoon’s daily life is well depicted in the beautifully created illustrations.

The opening sentence of Brad’s blurb states: “Raccoon, gets tired of hunting.” Yet, the opening line of RASCAL FARMS tells a different story of Raccoon having a hard time finding food in the vast forest, as shown on the first page below.


Raccoon and his family are not the only ones struggling for nutritious food in the forest. In fact, all of Raccoon’s friends are foraging for the scraps that the forest has to offer them.

It so happens one day that Raccoon comes across a lush industrial field, rich with vegetables. He finds a chicken coop where he takes a couple of eggs. He gathers some vegetables and brings them back to Mrs. Raccoon, who is not very happy at the idea of her husband stealing, even for food.

I paused here as I read this to my granddaughters. I was immediately suddenly swept back to being a teenager.

You see, after I left a life growing up in an end-times cult, my family was forced to settle in one of the poorest parts of Martin, TN. We lived in a trailer park across from an industrial farm.

Impoverished and eating government cheese, beans and rice, my sister and I often tiptoed across the road in the night to get a head of cabbage, some carrots, corn or potatoes. It was our only possibility of getting nutrition into our diet as our mother barely scraped by, working two jobs already, just for us to survive and have electricity.

I felt immense empathy for Raccoon. I knew that only those who were poor and had struggled as my family had, could really feel Raccoon and his friends’ dilemma.

My granddaughters couldn’t relate to having to forage for food, as they have been lucky enough not to experience poverty.

Nevertheless, I continued to read on as Mr. Raccoon spills the beans about the farm to his other forest friends, merely wanting to help them be able to get some nutritional food for their families as well.

Soon, all the animals from the forest have pillaged the farm, and the owners are left with nothing, destitute and homeless, losing their farm as the poor and hungry animals have become filled with gluttony and greed, leading them to steal ALL of the farm’s industrial equity. Now, there is no food for anyone, even the farmers, who have been pushed into poverty from the loss.

Raccoon and his friends decide to grow their own gardens. Upon the gardens’ successes, the poor animals return all of the stolen food to the farm and continue to thrive together as a forest community, growing their own food.

They make a pact with the farmer to barter and share foods.  The farmer’s child promises to leave food on the porch in case the animals get hungry. 

As I read, my 6-year-old granddaughter was quite distracted, fidgeting, sighing, looking around as she waited for the story to end. I had to continuously re-direct her back to the story.

My 10-year-old granddaughter remained engrossed in the story, never losing attention.

This observation led me to understand that this book would be more suited for ages 9 and up; children who have passed into a critical thinking age.

To understand the mindset of my grandchildren, they are raised to be free thinkers, to care about the planet and to love themselves. These are the basic tenements of our family. We do not have religious or social leanings. We are of the mindset that all humans deserve the humane right to a comfortable life. If that means we must help others, we are a family willing to do so as we have the means.

When I had finished the book, I asked my eldest granddaughter to give me some feedback on the story. She shrugged, unsure of what to say.

Well, what do you think it’s trying to tell you?” I coaxed her.

Um, not to steal?” She answered, unsure, her eyebrows furrow.

Tell me what you think of the book in general then.” I suggested.

OK.” She sighed. “So, first, animals can’t build gardens so… if they’re starving in the forest they wouldn’t know HOW to build gardens AND if they DID they would have just made a garden FIRST and not have to go to the farmer’s field so… that doesn’t even make sense, but I DO like the art.”

I chuckled a bit to myself as she animated her points with hand gestures. She was assessing the book from a reality based perspective. She was left with the basic understanding that animals can’t create gardens and poor people shouldn’t steal, even if they’re hungry.

Now, to offer an adult perspective of RASCAL FARMS, this book is written metaphorically, and appears to reveal the author’s mindset in regard to social class systems. This mindset is played out with subtlety and would need to be explained to a child by the reader.

I was left with questions for the author. If the intent was to write an objective children’s book, there were so many elements left out.

  • Why didn’t the farmers ever care about the animals who were poor and scrounging for food in the forest in the first place?  
  • Why did it take a bad situation for the farmers to realize the animals were in need?
  • Why didn’t the farmers teach the animals to farm? 
  • Why didn’t the farmers just leave food on the porch for the poor animals from the beginning, instead of only agreeing to do it AFTER a negative situation happened?
  • Why did it take struggle to create a comradeship between the poor animals and the successful farmer?

This book left me with the impression that the author finds poor people who “steal” in order to eat, to be bad people. I had to explain to my granddaughters the unrealistic nature of this book; how restaurants in America throw away tons of food a day and can’t even donate it to the people who starve in our country.

I explained to my granddaughters that most poor people are not lazy, and for the most part, they don’t steal or cause the wealthy to crumble. I did not want my granddaughters left with that impression, as we are a philanthropist family who does not want our children to have a non-empathetic mindset toward those who have life struggles for various reasons.

I reiterated that yes, stealing is bad, and it is also equally negative to ignore our planet and those who suffer on it, as the farmers ignored the animals in the forest in RASCAL FARMS.

I explained that if not the for the forest, the human farmers would have no oxygen, as trees are needed to breathe, and animals provide an intricate part of our eco system. Therefore, the farmer too, was guilty of only caring about themselves.

My granddaughters walked away as soon as I was done, restless to go jump on their trampoline, and seemingly slightly agitated.

This book does not align with a heart of giving and caring about the poor. My granddaughters, being kind hearted girls, were even seemingly put off by the implied, apathetic and even classist victim-blaming message in RASCAL FARMS.

Mr. Atlas would have created greater balance had he incorporated farmer empathy toward the animals, who were so desperate for food they were eating slugs.

Instead, this book implies to a child that poor people steal and can’t think on their own to work hard; that they cripple people who do work hard for their wealth, and therefore poor people owe the rich people they’ve crippled… because poor people steal when they’re in need.

The book doesn’t address whether the forest was farmable or if anyone had ever taught the “animals” to farm. I also find the metaphor of using animals to represent the poor to be offensive. The wealthier and “hard working” class in the book gets to be human.

I was hoping to find a lot of positives in this story. The ideal of bartering and trading doesn’t get presented until after the poor animals are represented as thieves.

This book is geared toward a parent who wants to set a certain mindset in a child, in regard to classes of people. I cannot assume an author’s intent. I can only assess the attempted metaphoric style of this book’s writing.

There are many genre’s of children’s books. I don’t know if there is an Elitist genre’. If there was, this book would fit perfectly inside of it.

I hope Anderson Atlas will write another book and offer a more socially realistic perspective which does not imply the poor people are animals who just steal and pillage hard working people. I also hope to see an illustrator credit, even if it is the author. This is not a book I would buy for my own grandchildren.

Vennie Kocsis is the author of CULT CHILD, an Amazon best-seller in cults and religion in 2016. She is an advocate against child abuse and indoctrination. She is currently writing RISE OF SILA, the sequel to CULT CHILD. Her other publications and art can be explored at VennieKocsis.com