sexual abuse

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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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.

Underneath

Underneath the energy
Called skin, I
Am weighted, a
Reinvented spawn of
Seeds processed through
Universal time.

You said you
Didn’t know how
such things happen.

You lied.
I felt it inside.

I sat confirmed,
In the least, smiling.
They were duped, used,
Arrogantly believed it
Was special gifts
They received.

Oh, you fools.
We gave you nothing.

Instead, we insured a
Planetary pureness, after
You had purged the Mother,
Wringing her like a sponge,
And so the consequences will
Burn you to ashes.

Stone.

This is not your home.

Displaced energy you
Disrupt the synergy of
Life with your anger and
Separated strife, while
You beg for balance,
Yet choose to comply.

Time has bent backwards
As the hybrids rise,
Bringing in tides of
DNA advancement.

You see,
The Cabal never
Stood a chance.

We just observe them
Believe so, and in
The crevices of the skin
We live waiting
To activate the gleam
That will finally
Melt the screens
So the sleepers can see.

©VennieKocsis.com

#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.

Why You Need To Make This Small Investment In Your Life

I’ve been through some of the worse a child can endure; torture, sexual abuse, child labor and more. Cult life was excruciating, daunting and extremely emotionally isolated.

My healing journal has been difficult as well. Being diagnosed with mental impairments thrust me into shame and despair for a long time.

So, how did I get through? Fifteen years of hard work and a big mirror reflecting back at me.

This brought me to a place of wanting to share my journey with others. One of the excruciating parts of talking to survivors, is how many are alone, can’t afford therapy and are just struggling to be heard.

So, I started a channel where I can listen and share. Through videos and posts, you, the subscriber, can come to understand more about mental health struggles. I am currently doing a video series on Dissociative Identity Disorder.

I am in love with this channel. Subscribers are private unless you choose to comment or openly participate. I can garauntee a constant stream of information and so, so much more.

Click to join:  My Private Channel

When Cult Members Attack

Peeling off layers of truth about growing up in a cult which still exists has also released an influx of opinion, perspective, experience and much more from those who were also involved in this cult. 

Since first publishing “Cult Child”, I’ve been examining the ways in which my fellow cult survivors have reacted to my publication. Now that I am speaking out more vocally on forums such as the radio, they are seemingly reacting more.

One of the main observations I’ve gathered is that those who were older when the cult began, have a differing perspective than those of us who were either children taken into the program or born into the cult, with those same adults being either our parents, caregivers and/or present and influencing adults.

 We children have a differing set of circumstances as we witnessed and experienced horrible abuses. The adults who doled out or stood by and did nothing live in deep denial, often lashing out, calling us liars and being accusatory. 

When I say adults, some of them were in their early twenties and participating in the severe beating and abuses of children. I see them for where they stand, deeply mentally ill and having to carry the horror of what they either did to children or did not do to help them. 

Just as we victims carry the images of what was done to us, likewise our abusers must carry the images of what they did and/or witnessed.

Another way that I am attacked is individuals leaving poor starred reviews on my book where they can. Luckily Amazon requires one to be a purchaser of a product for the review, so in the least, I get a small compensation for having to be re-abused and attacked for telling the truth about my abuse. 

I am not one to be intimidated by gang stalkers. When they call me a liar, I ask them which farm they grew up on? Who did they know? Were they a child? Who were their parents? What specifics can they give to prove, first off, that they were a part of the cult at all. After all, one must have been there, to factually call me a liar. 

Furthermore, if they were not on the exact same compounds as I was, they can speak nothing of my life or the experiences of my family. Since stories of abuses have come from every compound Sam Fife and his cronies created, then I ask, if the person was an adult, why they did nothing to turn in the child abusers? So, this attack is easily lain to rest for me.

Another avenue that is used, is to say that I am out for money, made from the backs of other people who suffered in the cult as well. First, aren’t most authors hoping to make a living from writing, after all, writing is our passion? Why then are we not allowed to make a living from what we are bestowed to do? 

Secondly, when one reads “Cult Child”, it takes but one page turn to understand that this is the story of me and my family. Every story contained in the first book of this set, yes, there’s a sequel coming, is related, and pertains directly to my family. 

However, if I chose to write a book telling the stories of others who survived, I have the legal right to do so. It is not, however, my intention. Not just because their stories are not mine, but because I have other projects that I look forward to delving into. So, this attack is easily lain to rest for me.

My family owns the originals of all photos which are contained in my books. If you happen to be in one of those photos, luckily for you, I chose to blur faces. Luckily for you, there is a disclaimer in the front of my book that states I have changed names for privacy and liability purposes. 

Luckily for me, I am well informed, have consulted an entertainment attorney before publishing and scoff at the ideal that anyone related to Sam Fife’s Move of God thinks they in any way hold any rights to the story or photos containing and relating to my family.

As for the statements made about me that return in the circle that is my support network, I somehow feel a great sorrow, for old people who make statements that we children were seductive, leaving me to understand that the pedophilistic mindset this cult built its roots on, still exists today. 

It amazes me most that our abusers never stopped to consider we would grow up one day. Did you not think we would have a voice? Did you not think we would have something to say? 

You don’t get to say “Yes, it was bad and all but…”. There’s no “but” which follows sexual abuse, demon possession casting out rituals, beliefs in end times, beatings, sadistic mental manipulation, sleep deprivation, brainwashing, demonology, spanking of babies, Old Testament animal sacrifice (Ware, MA) and more. 

You see, I am not alone in this truth. I just happen to be the most outspoken. We children are now adults in a gathered tribe, quietly supporting one another, and we are large in numbers.

The network of survivors is so vast that the messages I get which are attacking of me, either myself or someone I know, remembers the person doing the attacking. These people were adults or elders children, seeking to silence the truth about the hidden horrors of Sam Fife’s Move of God. 

It never fails to be consistent, that those who step forward to attack me were in some way an abuser, worked in a nursery where they could abuse children, were mean spirited, witnessed the abuse of children, and did nothing. Now, they have grown into bitter, self-righteous things who remain the same abusive evil they were when I was a child. 

You don’t think we remember you, the things you said and did? Nothing has changed in regards to your existence, except now, you don’t get to silence me. And you won’t. Abuse is silent. You will never abuse me again.

EDIT 11/25/16: For those who took part in the free download of “Cult Child”, thank you.  For those who missed it, sign up at: http://VennieKocsis.com to be notified of the dates for the next free download days.  There will be one 5 month. Thank you for such an immense interest this month!  I am honored that you are interested in understanding the cult abuse of children. 


 

Abstract Aberration

The Original One wavers, lazily sleeping, snacking and avoiding. Might I silence the fire, burning and buzzing in the spine? We run into the trails, avoiding the undergrowth of tree roots pushing their way through the ground.  We grab at leafy branches.  She’s an avalanche avoiding her own rubble.   Sideways in the gradients lingering around our eyes, the shadows whisper.  They run beside us, and we wonder if we are shadows to them, dark echoes leaning against their eyelids.  Where do we go when the pressure explodes and the heart is torn?  Where do we scream the aftermath? Into pillows, the skies or buried inside?

Words. We create language for the anguish.  The Brave One stands in her place, warrior and explorer of the past.  She will find answers for the empty spaces.  Don’t fear the faces.  Look into their eyes.  Don’t cry.  We stand beside oceans, gazing through windows of waves.  One day the illusions will pass and the pieces of the flashes will merge into view.   We  see truth for what it is, a planted alibi to cover every lie the truth hides, and humans will bend at their knees to kiss the feet of the malevolent just for a promise of heaven.

The Dark One peers, silently into the whispers, always with us, there are none who can attack our back.  It is revealed in instances, and she chuckles, amused at the minions.  Might she cut open the simulated empathy being used as weaponry by the mind swindlers?  Taking a piece of each, she throws their banter into the dark matter, and turning her face, strides away.  There are days when she is habitual, residual and invisible.  There are moments she is unaffected, stone faced and solid, looking at the rejected faces of the displaced, with malice.

They are an inconsequential waste to this place and should die off, jump cliffs and return into nothingness.”

The Wise One watches, taking in the whole of their life, assessing and regressing into the violet of her quiet.  Traveling back, she brings the messages so they can know the next step.

Nothing is permanent.” She says. “Stay inside the moments.”

We hold hands in the color tunnel where the memories funnel in.  We rewind back, watching the past, progress to the present and the continual disturbance.  The film strip plays sporadically and without warning, disarms the army.  We didn’t morph into what was intended.  We’ve pretended for years, watching you, and now we see all the way through.  You’ve been duped.

(cover art by Simona Ruscheva “MPD” oil on canvas)