sex abuse

#SurvivorVoices Guest Post: “Today Is the First Anniversary of My Freedom”

Guest Post by Adeena Blumenfield

April 16, 2017, at 6:22 PM

Today is the first year anniversary of my freedom.

Exactly one year ago, on April 16, 2016, with the help of Fraidy Reiss of Unchained At Last, the police were called to my home during a violent incident. My now ex-husband was arrested immediately. This incident opened up a journey of freedom for my sons and me.

This wasn’t a loving marriage gone sour, or a typical domestic quarrel. It was an arranged, forced marriage, in a sadistic and calculated, controlling cult where a man like my ex thrives. You see in this patriarchal cult, it is a man like my ex’s ideal environment. In this community following the rules is the only thing that is sacred. Humane treatment of women and children or morals are never a priority.

I was raised in the Charedi community of Kiryat Sefer, Israel. The oldest of nine children, I spent my childhood days and nights changing my siblings’ diapers, bathing them, cooking, and cleaning our meager home. Constantly trying to fit in, I prayed to God to help me believe in him. Inside of myself, I was fighting the endless questions of his existence, resulting in deep guilt.

I was in shame while wondering why would God give women a brain, if their sole purpose on earth was only to serve men? Was the creation of women in vain? Is our life’s purpose just about avoiding hell? Or is hell right here on this creator-less earth by a religion created by humans? I lived in a silent abyss of mental confusion.

Without my consent, I was engaged at 19 and ultimately forced into a loveless, abusive, and extremely violent marriage. Having no say in most of my daily activities and definitely not having the freedom of life choices, I gave birth to three children within 4 years.

The sexual assaults started during our engagement. What he wanted, he took. The rapes began after we were officially married. The physical abuse began with my first pregnancy. With the birth of my first child, the child abuse began.

My ex-husband informed me daily that, “According to Jewish law, I own you! I can do what I want to you. Your body no longer belongs to you. It belongs to me, and I can do what I wish, how I wish, when I wish.” So, he did.

Nine years of torture and torment ensued. Nine years I lived in constant anguish and horror, sorrow and terror. Nine years where every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.

One year ago, my ex was locked up in the county jail, in the sex offenders unit, where he belongs. His bail was set at $100,000 in full, which my own parents paid. My family and the religious community funded his team of top New York city attorneys.

Yet, when I asked them for help, I was told, “You’re not the one sitting in jail. You will not need an attorney at all.”

I was heavily pressured by my family, the Rabbis, and even the community leaders, including city Councilmen, to go back to the police and tell them that my testimony was a lie. When I refused, I was verbally abused.

Why are you being so difficult?” They demanded of me.

Then another tactic of coercion was attempted when the Rabbi told me he COMMANDED me to lie, considering it a “Mitzva” (a good deed done from religious duty).

I asked them how would I be protected against my ex. The Rabbis and community leaders informed me that my ex will return home immediately in the hopes to “cover this mess up“. They instructed me that the next time he assaulted me, I should give THEM a call. I should never again involve the police.

My family supported this reasoning. They explained to me that if there was a divorce in my family, it would scar them, preventing my younger siblings to ever have an equitable match. Their status in the community mattered more than mine and my children’s safety.

I stayed strong, I did not give in. I held by the truth. I fought for my children’s, and my freedom. The community shunned me. My family disowned me. Yet by my side stood Chani Getter of Footsteps. The support of this organization gave me the strength I needed to keep fighting. I was not alone.

The Superior Court found my ex guilty of serious crimes, including but not limited to, child abuse and neglect, child endangerment, aggravated assault, criminal restraint, and long term spousal rape.

Last month, with the help of Patrice Lenowitz of The Nurtured Parent Support Group for Survivors of Domestic Abuse, and Richard Pompelio of the New Jersey Crime Victims Law Center, the criminal case was finally over. My ex plead guilty on multiple criminal counts. I received full custody of my children. He was denied any access to them. We hope he never will.

In the past year, my sons and I have evolved from being beaten up under the control of a clinically diagnosed Sociopath, to living in a domestic violence shelter, to finally re-starting our lives fresh, in a wonderful neighborhood. My sons are in fantastic public schools. I am in college, studying Molecular Biology.

This transition has not been easy by any means. Yet, we have started a journey that I can finally trust, a new life for all of us. I walk this journey in freedom, with great friends by my side, creating great new memories to look back on and look forward into new and amazing experiences.

There is a life of hope after domestic violence. As Anais Nin so eloquently said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I took the risk to blossom, and now, I am blooming and creating new blossoms.

Thank you to Adeena for being a brave Survivor Voice. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Violence, please reach out. If you feel that your computer use is being tracked, be cautious and try to use the phone or another computer instead. See resources below for global Domestic Violence support.

National Domestic Violence Resources:

ORGANIZATIONS/AGENCIES

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Line
3300 N.W. 185th Street, Suite 133
Portland, OR 97229
Phone: (503) 203-1444
Toll-free: 1-866-USWOMEN (International Crisis Line)
Organization dedicated to assisting American women living overseas victimized by domestic violence. Outreach, safety planning, extensive support services, general info on domestic violence at website.

Arugaan ng Kalakasan
45 Maalalahanin St.
Teachers Village
Quezon City, Philippines
Phone: (02) 921-8013/928-7774 / (02)430-4227
E-mail : aru-kalakasan@phi.gn.apc.org
Arugaan ng Kalakasan is a SEC–registered NGO providing services for battered women and mobilizing the community to action against domestic violence.
Service : Free face–to–face counseling by appointment
Schedule : Monday to Friday 8:00 – 5:00 PM

Canadian National Clearinghouse on Family Violence
Family Violence Prevention Unit
Public Health Agency of Canada
200 Eglantine Dr.
Ottawa, ON I9O 9D1
Phone: (613) 957-2938
TTY Toll-free: 1-800-561-5643
Toll-free: 1-800-267-1291
The NCFV is a national resource centre for all Canadians seeking information about violence within the family, including spouse/partner abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse.

Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant International University
10065 Old Grove Rd.
San Diego, CA 92131
Phone: (858) 527-1860 x 4160

Muslim Women’s Help Line
Unit 3, 1st Floor
GEC Estate, East Lane
Glasgow, UK
Phone: 0808 801 0301
Hotline for Muslim women and girls in the U.K. dealing with domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other problems.

National Domestic Violence Hotline (Canada)
Toll-free: 1-800-363-9010
All provinces. Bilingual (English & French).

National Organization of Battered Women’s Shelters (Sweden)
ROKS, Hornsgatan 66
118 21 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: 08-422 99 30

Nottelefon Zurich
Phone: 044 291 46 46
Pages available in German, English, French, Spanish & Italian) Counseling by phone and in person, free referrals to doctors and legal advisors, for women dealing with sexual harassment or abuse, or exploitation by therapists, doctors, ministers, at work or home.

Provincial Association of Transition Houses of Saskatchewan (P.A.T.H.S.)
1940 McIntyre Street
Regina, SK S4P 2R3
Phone: (306) 522-3515
P.A.T.H.S. is a non–profit organization comprised of safe houses, shelters, transition and interval houses throughout Saskatchewan for women and children victimized by family violence. The Hot Peach Pages provide links to hotlines, shelters, legal and general info on family violence for Saskatchewan, and throughout Canada.

Scottish Women’s Aid
2nd floor
132 Rose St.
Edinburgh EH2 3JD
United Kingdom
Phone: 0131 475 2372
24-hour helpline: 0800 027 1234
Support and information, referrals to refuges, counseling, and services for children.

Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE)
c/o Austrian Women’s Shelter Network
Bacherplatz 10/ 4
1050 Vienna
Austria
Phone: 01-5482720
Refuges, hotlines, education, counseling throughout Europe.

Women’s Aid Federation of England
P.O. Box 391
Bristol B599 7WS, England
Phone: 0117 944 4411
Freephone: 0808 2000 247

World-Wide List of Domestic Abuse Agencies
Global inventory of hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centres and women’s organizations, searchable by country, plus index of domestic violence resources in over 70 languages.

“Ownership” Featured Blog Post

**TRIGGER WARNING**

One of the ideas that I have struggled with the most this past year is that I was a slave. I was owned. Words that are hard enough to type and still stumble and bumble off of my tongue. My heart clenches, my hands shake, and my mind screams NOOOOOOOO every time I delve into this subject in therapy or on my own. I still ask how? why? Questions for which I will never really have answers.

Read More at Sunset – Fire, Ashes, Rebirth

A Story of Religious Abuse and Torture

Introduction:  This piece is a contribution from an abuse survivor.  It details extreme abuse and could be triggering to readers.  Please consider caution if you are a trauma survivor.  

By Lusciana Philomena

I was born in the US in the nineties. My sister was quite older than me. She had her own issues, but this is my story. What I will say, is that at one point, I discussed my childhood abuse with her. She believed me in our mutual conversation, then betrayed me and told one of my parents about it. The result was the family turning against me and calling me a liar. It created a new wound in me. Yet, I also saw that the Narcissistic triangulation that my parents created with my sibling never ended. It was hurtful to have a moment of validation taken from me by the betrayal of my sibling.

My parents were blue collar workers who both came from military families. We didn’t move around a lot, but we did move churches quite often. Yet, regardless of what denomination my mother and father were trying out at the time, we always reverted back to fundamentalist, Pentecostal Christianity. This was my life from birth into my twenties.

For those who don’t understand the Pentecostal religion, it is a belief system of rituals such as prayer through laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, frenzies, clapping and dancing as if filled with the “Holy Spirit”. I imagine Christianity is wide spread enough that most people have a grasp on this sect of the religion. We were taught about demons, ingrained with demonic threat and fear. We were often put through rituals where throngs of the congregation members would lay their hands on us children to fill us with the spirit of God so that the demons wouldn’t enter us. I was claustrophobic. I felt panicked when I was in these moments. They scared me, and the energy pressed down on me, as I felt small inside of these moments.

I began having nightmares as a child. I would lay in bed awake for hours at night praying and pleading with God to please not let Satan take me. Because of the extreme nature of the fear and torture I was experiencing, I became adept at dissociating away from my body. I was often threatened with eternal torment in a place called “Hell“. I was told that I could lose my salvation and be damned. Yet, in those same breaths, I was also told how much God loved me. I could not make sense of anything around me. Many days were filled with fear, uncertainty and there was no safe place for me. There was gossip, deceit, and trickery everywhere in my environment. I never knew who I could fully trust.

I also attended a private Christian school from kindergarten until I graduated high school. Private schools are not required to adhere to the same curriculum or child safety rules as public schools. In private school, abuse was constant. Since the religious belief systems were also the same as the church we attended, they used the same methodology of punishment. Teachers subjected me to solitary confinement in closets and rooms until I lost track of time. There was physical abuse, severe mental and emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, public shaming and humiliation, degrading remarks, inappropriate sexualization and touching, and isolation from other children and the outside world. I was kept inside of a bubble of fearful compliance.

There were layers upon layers of cover-ups at school, as the staff was always watching us and each other. I felt constantly surrounded by human predators waiting to pounce. My mind was terrorized. I was often the focus of being targeted. I thought I was just the worst child in the school. In the beginning, I was a well-behaved child who merely daydreamed. Looking back, I believe at that time I was actually beginning to dissociate from life as a whole. Soon, I decided that since I was going to be in trouble anyways, I might as well give them a reason to punish me, so I began to act out. This at least gave me a satisfactory feeling of justification versus being punished for nothing.

In my home life my father was a confusing man. He could be the most loving father and also the most brutal. Since this was all going on at the same time as the abuse at church and school, I tend to remember these time periods as one, long bundle of abuse. My father taught me “games” that I eventually was conditioned to ask for and even enjoy, which haunts me to this day. I believed that I was born to please my father and make him happy, protect him, and do his bidding at all costs. I also believed that once my father died I would have nothing left to live for therefore I would have to end my life after his. I was conditioned to be my father’s puppet by him directly as well as his immediate family, who told me that I must do what my father commanded.

Some of the “games” he played with me included nerve shock torture where he pressed his fingers deeply into trigger points in my body, pulling the tendons up and away from the bone, then twisting and grinding them. Places he targeted were behind my knees, my neck, and my pelvis area. He purposely created a mixture of pain and sexual pleasure in my body. Regardless of my age, my body scientifically responded, giving him the results that he wanted.

Other forms of torture included tickle torture where I was forced to stay still or else the game started over; he used light breath, fingers and whiskers to tickle my body. All of my father’s sadistic leanings were filled with sexual elements. My household was rife with sexual inappropriateness. My mother would also sometimes behave in inappropriate sexual ways, behaviors that I should not have been exposed to as a child. I soon believed that my mother knew what my father was doing and didn’t care. My father would freely smack me on the behind, as if I was his girlfriend, whenever he wanted. He pinched my skin in inappropriate places, tried to get me to kiss him and chased me around the house. My mother simply hollered at us to settle down.

My father contorted my limbs, bending them the incorrect way. This caused excruciating pain, and I would scream. He threw ice water on me randomly when I was showering. Sometimes he would just stand in the doorway and flick the light off and on, off and on, repeatedly. I could not say a word or ask for him to stop. I was in complete compliance. My mother sometimes participated, throwing water on my face in the morning until I woke up feeling like I was drowning. I was yelled at to get up for the day, again my lights being flicked on and off, on and off. It was all because I was a heavy sleeper, they would say, sometimes laughing at me at the same time.

The torture my father enacted on me seemed endless. He would press into my sternum until the pain was excruciating. He pulled my fingers apart so wide it felt the skin would rip. He’d instruct me to stick out my tongue, grab it with a towel and pull until I screamed from the intense pain. He would laugh when this was happening. He would laugh intensely, as if it was the most entertaining thing. Sometimes he would lead me around by my tongue as I was in pain. Yet he would be laughing, since to him, it was a game. My father allowed me to have pets. Not because he wanted me to be happy. No. It was so he could use them to abuse me further by abusing them. I had the belt used on me to the point that I dissociated from my own body in order to withstand the pain.

As I became older with my father grew more deeply confusing, because coupled with his “games” of inducing mind blowing pain on me; he also showered me with love. At times he whispered in my ear that he loved me and would whisper other loving sentiments. There were moments of doting on me. He had endearing pet names for me. He also treated my pets the same way, sometimes loving them, sometimes cruelly abusing them. These moments induced a great love and bond with my father which intersected itself into the fear state that I existed inside. His behavior created a duality through which I could not critically navigate emotionally.

This abuse was also coupled with ritualistic religion, such as my father quoting Bible verses in the middle of abusing me. I have many gaps for which I don’t have answers. My body and my intuition have an idea of what hides inside those gaps. I often don’t even want to think about the possibility of what more my father did to me, that my mind has chosen to suppress. My mother projected jealousy onto me and in doing so, also physically and mentally abused me. She made me shower with her. Both my father and mother bathed me far beyond the years that I should have been being taught to bathe myself.

My father was an alcoholic and pill user. One night when I was a young adult he physically and sexually assaulted me. I hit him multiple times to get him to stop. Years later, when I confronted him, he alleged not to remember those moments. Yet, with persistence, I finally got him to admit to abusing me, and he said he was sorry. Then he proceeded to use emotional blackmail on me, victim blaming me and trying to make me feel sorry for him, saying that I was “killing” him. My mother was no help when I called her, blaming me for the situation and saying that she didn’t have time to be bothered. I felt helpless and in shock. She further stated what a terrible person I was for hurting my father with such lies. I knew that when it came to accountability in my family, I may never have it.

Because of my childhood, I endure flashbacks, complex PTSD, an eating disorder and fibromyalgia. I have insomnia to avoid the night terrors. I am hyper-vigilant about being followed, and I am often in fight or flight mode, feeling trapped. My capacity to develop my own spirituality as an adult has been severely hindered due to having a constant, tangible fear which lingers inside of me. Being an abused child left me with mental health and physical disorders. I have severe body somatic pain which can’t be associated with any one specific physical injury, leading doctors to connect my body pain to the reality of body memories.

Body memories are caused by trauma settling into our cells. Therefore, the body manifests the abuse on a daily basis, causing severe genital pain, joint and tendon pain, neuropathy that shoots nerve pain through my whole system. The nerve pain mimics the tendon shock rituals performed on me as a child.

The most confusing part about my abuse is how my parents could be so loving at times and so sadistically brutal at others. I realize that my identity belongs to them and now, I am struggling to figure out who I am before I was born into a childhood of abuse and confusion. I am sifting through broken pieces to integrate them so I can get to know who I really am.

Because of my experiences I have a great capacity to understand others who have been tortured. I know that as I continue to work through the aftermath of my own abuse, I will continue to grow and be a strong support for my fellow survivors.

I don’t know if I’ll even understand why I was tortured, except to understand mind control on a level so deep, a parent believes a religion justifies the abuse of their child. I want to know who trained my father to utilize such specific torture methods on my muscles and limbs. There are so many questions that leave tangled pieces in my mind. As a child my mind fragmented into “pieces or aspects” in attempt to endure what I was being put through however they have more or less integrated now. I wish my parents knew how much accountability and truth would change the course of each of my days. I wonder if my paternal grandfather learned these torture methods while serving in the military, and in turn, used them on my father. Again, I may never have these answers.

And so, I must stand inside of radical acceptance and continue creating who I truly am.

ART

When art comes out of me, it can take on varying forms, depending on who is holding the pen or the paint, as you will see in the pieces below.

 

POETRY

                Another outlet for my pain is writing poetry.  This expression has been a crucial part of my healing journey.

Porcupine No Longer

Ashamed and frozen in fear, time stops.
Pretending to be asleep; staying very still…
Lying and waiting, pretending it’s all just a dream.
“NO! Get up! I have to do something!” SCREAM!
*Silence*… I don’t make a sound. No one can know. Ashamed!
Eyes now scrunched up tight and fists form into balls.
Go into my mind. Pretend I am a porcupine.
Can’t touch me! Can’t touch me! I am a porcupine!
Doesn’t work…
Porcupine’s quills have been plucked clean away! Exposed.
Body is a map whose lands have been plundered before.
Monster’s fingers are legs, walking the map, exploring it all.
Monster is greedy: taking what is not his to take.
Too scary. So scary. Can’t be happening.
Dumb, wretched girl.
Pretend. Pretend. Pretend. Smile. I’m alright.
Tomorrow I’ll pretend I don’t remember what happened at night.

Healing Under a Canopy

Stroll through the shaded wood I must;
Liniment for a marred soul.
In love with the seclusion it offers;
I yearn for the peace it brings.
Amble about in nature’s song
I stroll along to such sounds:
Singing birds, dinky feet on Forest’s floor, water-a-trickling.

Healing from a pain so deep
It threatens to crush my voice.
I rebel, fight back, scream, kick, cry.
I will not allow this.
You cannot have my soul.
My past will not destroy me!
Your ‘control’ is merely an illusion.
I am no longer a child.

For I see the light.
It’s above me,
Filtering through the leaves.
It streaks my face with gold.
I feel its warmth on my skin.
This is the color of confidence.
I give myself the permission.
I can heal.
No one else can have
Me.

I smile.
I laugh.
I cry.
I’m filled with joy.
I am at peace.

Up ahead, I see a bridge.
I will cross it.
I will burn it down.

My story is the story of countless children being raised just like I was. Please don’t forget them. I want other survivors to know that you are not alone. Time and self-work make days easier. Please know that healing to a level of thriving is absolutely possible. To kids everywhere being abused, you are so strong and brave. You have the right to speak up; to tell your story; to be believed, heard and protected. You have the right to be safe and loved. You are not alone, and there are many of us Advocates dedicated to rescuing you and helping you heal.

#MondayBlogs: “Split”: Glorifying MPD 

Am I the only MPD carrier who the movie, “Split”, pissed off? From “Sybil” to “The Many Faces of Eve” to “The United States of Tara”, the media has proven time and again how little research they’ve done on this impairment, and how much they enjoy glorifying it.

Now, every other young person seems to suddenly be walking around with MPD, now classified as DID, as if it’s cool, some kind of fadish excuse for shitty behavior.

There’s the girl on YouTube who does videos in costume in each of her “alters”. There are DID blogs everywhere I look, telling stories of what “alters” have done and said, and I watch quietly from a distance.

I can usually tell immediately who is faking it. I know how MPD works. One, I live with it daily. Two, I self integrated out of pure survival, without even realizing what I was doing, and it doesn’t involve putting ones head down and calling up a “child alter” like JZ Knight channeling her 30,000 year old alien, Ramtha.

I have known only a couple of other people in my life who I would agree with their MPD diagnosis. I’ve personally met one therapist who completely gets it on a level most therapists have yet to even figure out. They have a lot to learn.

A simple example. Do we dress different on days when one of our alters is in the forefront? Sure. So do you, depending on your mood. So, what makes us different? Most likely the conversation in our heads. We have collective conversations. I don’t discuss intimate details of my personal diagnosis simply because there are too many people out in the cyber world who actually think it’s cool to live with this impairment. Cool enough to mimic it.

To you fakers, I say, let’s trade for a day. Then you might not think it’s so cool.

For a movie like “Split” to glorify this impairment as horror, an impairment which is a result of severe childhood trauma, minimizes the every day organization integrated MPD carriers live with and the level of work it takes to be a high funtioning person. Instead of making an accurate film depicting the real workings and curings of MPD, Hollywood creates imaginary tales of horror, of which very few movie goers will ever take the time to truly fact check.

Instead, when MPD is mentioned, the response is “Oh, like Sybil?”, and I want to slap someone awake. I want to ask them when was the last time they did some scientific research. Hollywood scripts are not accurate depictions of the rare impairment of MPD.

What is the result of this media irresponsibility? The possibility of people committing crimes and claiming MPD defenses. Worst of all, a stigma gets put on us by the general public; that we are dangerous. Yet, we are not.

You don’t know us; any of us. You either deny the right to our collective existence with False Memory attempts or dismissive indications, or a mere disinterest in the interim of your life, so we of the MPD society are those “weirdos” who don’t really matter.

We do matter. All of us. We are multi-intelligent, after all, we have numerous people inside of us, all functioning at once. We love to study. We study you. We assess your lives. We live in multiple realities every single day.

So please, get your head of of the media’s ass and come meet me and my alters personally. We openly talk about our lives here. Be cautious who you follow and what you believe. Educate yourself on this syndrome.

I don’t adhere to having a disorder. I am not mentally ill. My abusers and those who deny and/or attack my child abuse are mentally ill. Me? I’m a wealth of interesting people if you throw away the stigmas and introduce yourself to us.

She Cannot Watch

 

She cannot watch this world with it’s lack of concern. She cannot watch humans share stories of horror before they click the channel to another station. Satiation. Satiation. Bring the brain to another dimension. Escape the images. Babies dying. Children crying. Mother’s weeping. Father’s gone flat. This is the aftermath of a planet turned cold.

This is real chemical warfare, when the DNA sitting inside of the body no longer has a voice; when it has become robotic, static and unconcerned with the burdens carried by the most innocent of her species, the children. This earth is seeping and shaking in flight, preparing to sling forward, and so she draws her sword. She straps on metal boots to stay rooted in place. She slices through aggravation and loss. She beheads egotistical diatribe and places aside ignorance with intellectual rhymes.

Everything they hear goes in one echoed ear and through the rear of the skull where everything’s gone numb; where smart has become the new dumb, because the last book read was forced in high school and current events are spread from digital non-evidence.

Opinions carry more weight these days than facts. Belief has become an actual thing as if it is valid so the cabals tally up tithes to set aside for parties with children whose eyes have gone hopeless with the knowing that nobody’s listening to their silence scream. There is hope left still inside of her; that in the depths of the crying, they will know help is coming.

No one hears them because the masses are adhered to the harmonic tone of their own voices, bounced back onto them from their blinders, and they become so tightly bound inside of their illusions that their sensibilities drown.

She will ride high on invisible steeds with chariots of good deeds, boundary lines clearly defined and fight stalwart battles, until generations of trauma have been healed. One life at a time. No child left behind. One step. One wound bandaged,  then a chance to become accustomed to the scars left from being ravaged.

You sleepers and your habits have left the vulnerable tattered. So, she waits. She watches. She listens to the clock’s tick tock as time comes in waves. There’s a storm rising. Can you hear the quiet? When it explodes, everything you know will change, and you will never again be the same.

M7