******* TRIGGER WARNING*******
This blog post will touch on topics of coming forward, speaking up and what that means as a survivor of sexual abuse/assault. While I won’t go into detail, the topic in itself may be triggering for many survivors. It is not my intention to trigger, only to inform. Continue reading at your own risk.
I’m feeling inspired this morning after I came across a social media post from a survivor seeking advice from those that have come forward about their abuse. This person is seriously considering coming forward, filing a report against her abuser and is looking for support.
My personal thoughts on this matter, I fully support her decision and know first hand just how difficult this is.
Could you imagine if all survivors took immediate action against their abuser(s)? A society where we could come forward, be believed, not have to relive our trauma over and over as we explain in full detail the vile acts that we were forced to endure. A society that wasn’t corrupt and the sexual predators weren’t protected but rather all given a minimum of 15 years in prison with no chance of early release, no special privileges. Imagine if that punishment was universal in every State, Province, and Country. The same sentencing should be imposed upon those who knowingly make false claims. I do imagine this and I think the acts of sexual violence would decrease because of harsher punishments with no wiggle room to bribe down to a lesser sentence.
The reality is, that’s never going to happen. Greed and corruption exist, not all humans possess the qualities of integrity and accountability; sadly I don’t see things changing for the better anytime soon.
The best opportunity for a survivor to come forward is within 48 hours of the encounter. This small window of time is the only chance to retrieve any evidence that may be present/left behind. Having the courage to get yourself (or get someone to drive you) to the local hospital is your best chance to ensure that your abuser(s) gets taken into custody.
Without evidence (physical, video, audio) a witness or another survivor that is willing to speak up, the odds of a survivor being taken seriously rapidly decrease. It’s now a matter of a “He said, She said” scenario and it becomes more difficult to prove/prosecute.
Coming forward is especially difficult if there is a Statute of Limitations that prevents survivors from reporting the crime against them after 7, 10, 15 years after it took place. It is frustrating when we process trauma differently and for many of us, our brain has protected us by hiding that trauma for 15+ years. We weren’t aware that a crime against us had been committed until it’s too late. Where’s the justice in that? There isn’t any!
Coming forward within the 48-hour window doesn’t ensure that the brave survivor is granted a “happily ever after” ending. Coming forward doesn’t just affect the life of the survivor, but in most cases affects the lives of those around them. That idea alone is enough for many of us to not come forward at all, especially when the abuser is a family member.
Does coming forward about the abuse you endured make you selfish? Absolutely NOT!
Does coming forward about the abuse you endured come across as “Seeking Attention”? Absolutely NOT!
Yet so many of us are made to believe the opposite is true. That’s because those that are making us feel that way are scared, afraid and don’t want to deal with the aftermath, the judgments, the whispers, the rumors and the hardships that will most definitely follow.
Should that guilt be enough for us survivors to stay quiet and keep our mouths shut? That is up to the survivor. I can’t answer that and speak for everyone.
I was told that there would be “consequences” should I choose to speak up and tell my “story”. I was 9 years and my mother who walked in on my last encounter with her boyfriend was in complete denial. She didn’t believe me even though she witnessed it happening. I knew that this moment was my opportunity to speak up and tell her everything. That wasn’t enough, she was still siding with “him”. I was told that if I was ready to deal with the “consequences” that she would drive me to the hospital and that I would have to endure some very uncomfortable tests and there would be questions that I had to answer truthfully.
I knew that I didn’t do anything wrong, I wasn’t the one lying to my mother about what she walked in on. I had no reason to be punished. I knew that if I couldn’t prove to my mother that I was telling the truth, the abuse would continue and her boyfriend might actually follow through with the death threats he made against my younger brother and mother. How could things get worse for me than they already were at that moment?
The testing and procedures performed at the hospital to collect the evidence took place, not one of my favorite moments. I still have a hard (emotional) time at every OBGYN appointment some 30+ years later. But I knew it had to be done, not just to prove my abuser wrong, but to help protect myself and my brother from possible harm. Also to ensure this bastard doesn’t hurt another little girl. I couldn’t live with that guilt, knowing that I could have done something and didn’t.
The consequences of coming forward appeared shortly after, while still at the hospital. Due to the nature of the crime, me being a minor and the doctors were convinced that my mother was not going to break off the relationship (they weren’t wrong); Child Services were called along with the local police detectives. Long story, short. My brother and I were placed in foster care that evening. What was supposed to be for the weekend, turned into a few weeks, that turned into a few more months. I entered the foster system at age 9 and never got out until I aged out of the system.
Sure, I pressed charges against my abuser and had my day in court. The evidence was tested and obviously came back as his, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. A small victory for me. My younger brother was completely innocent, had never been abused, had no idea what was going on. He didn’t know what was happening or know why we couldn’t go home. I fought for him, pleaded that he should get to go home.
Being 9 years old and not fully understanding the whole picture.
We later learned that our mother was still visiting her boyfriend (my abuser) in prison. It was those secret visits that caused her to lose her parental rights. We were close to coming home (after 4.5 years). After the proof, after all that I endured and sacrificed to protect myself and my brother, this was how I was rewarded. This was my consequence and my brother was an innocent bystander.
Was Justice served? YES. I got to the hospital, evidence was collected and used to put my abuser away for 10 years. One less sexual predator out in public.
Was the outcome what I had hoped? Not in a million years. I can only be accountable for myself, and I did just that. I didn’t do anything to be ashamed of. Just ashamed to have a mother that didn’t believe me and kept putting my abuser before her kids.
My mother has failed me on several occasions, but that’s a story for another day. The best thing she did was to allow me to make my own choice and drive me to the hospital that morning.
While the situations are similar, there are many variables to consider if you are thinking about coming forward/speaking up about the abuse you endured. As much as I love the idea of all survivors coming forward, I know that many can’t, some aren’t aware that they should. All of which is okay, just know that I support your choice.
For anyone considering coming forward:
- Do so when you are ready, not because you are feeling pressured.
- Be prepared to relive your trauma and share your story several times to several people. It’s mentally exhausting.
- Without evidence or witnesses, filing a police report is still helpful. Should another survivor report the same abuser, that might be enough to prosecute.
- Most importantly, Know that you didn’t do anything to deserve this. The abuse you endured was not your fault in any way.
- Start your healing process when you are ready, not because the court mandates it. When YOU are ready.
- You are not alone. There are many support groups that you can join, even online to help you process what you’re feeling. There is no shame in seeking support. Nobody understands better than someone who’s been through it.
- For the Parents of a child that comes forward- bring them to the hospital- be supportive no matter the outcome- Protecting your child comes FIRST- Be the adult they need you to be, hold the abusers accountable, no matter who it turns out to be.
Coming forward and reporting the abuse that you endured isn’t easy on so many levels. The courage and bravery required to speak up doesn’t come easy. When you finally do, it’s possible that your claims aren’t taken seriously or they are dismissed as a misunderstanding, especially without proof/evidence. Even with proof and there is no shadow of a doubt, the aftermath is unpredictable. One thing is for sure, you won’t get a Thank You and your efforts won’t get recognized, because it’s not seen as heroic when it most certainly is.
If the TV and Movies have taught us one thing, it’s that in this world, there are Heroes and Criminals/Villians. Heroes help to put the Criminals away, Heroes protect the innocent. This seems to be an acceptable norm, except when it comes to sexual abuse. Sexual Predators are often disguised, hiding in plain sight right under our noses, posing as heroes. Sexual Predators have infiltrated many positions of power and they use that position of power as a means of protection. Now, these Criminals are able to protect other criminals and the Heroes are the ones that suffer.
Welcome Back Blog Readers,
In this post, I’d like to dispell the falsehood of a popular meme that has been spreading across the internet.
Here’s the link to the topic for today:
Just a reminder folks, anybody can create a meme about anything; it doesn’t mean it’s true. While there is an abundance of great information on the internet, there is also a great deal of misinformation.
It only takes one second to share false statements; why not take a few more seconds to verify the information before you share it.
Here are the FACTS as it applies the refugees in the USA:
Here are the FACT as it applies to the refugees in Canada:
Here’s a PDF that breaks down the amount(s) and length of time that the various payments are dispersed to eligible refugees and their family.
Do refugees receive financial assistance? YES, many of them do if they qualify and are eligible.
How much money do they get each month? That amount varies from State to State and Province to Province as well as other factors.
How long are the payments received? Depends. Sometimes it’s a one time only payment. Eight months is the cut off for most, but in some circumstances, refugees could receive payments a bit longer.
Do refugees receive payments right away? NO. In many cases, refugees have to obtain proof/documents and meet certain criteria before they are deemed eligible. Each family and reason for their refugee status varies.
If you have any further questions, I encourage you to do a bit of research. Google is your friend.
Learn to think for yourself and stop feeling obligated to jump on the refugee/immigration bashing bandwagon. That mentality doesn’t make you more “patriotic.” If it weren’t for immigrants/refugees like your grandparents/great-grandparents, you wouldn’t be able to call yourself a proud American.
Welcome Back Blog Readers,
I know that it’s been a while since my last post. Life happens, being an adult means doing things like working to pay the bills and remembering when the important identification cards are about to expire.
That’s what I’ve been dealing with lately. By dealing with, I mean acknowledging that these are tasks that I will focus on, at some point very soon. Just not today.
My Drivers License, Health Card, and Permanent Resident Card all expire in 2020. Naturally, they all require a new updated picture so I can’t renew them online.
One task that I do need to focus on is reading through the Discover Canada study guide and finish filling out the application to start the process of becoming a dual citizen. Since the application time for Citizenship is unknown, I will have to renew my PR card and pay the $50 fee just to be on the safe side. I do have until April 2020 before my PR card expires, but I don’t want to take the chance of having my Citizenship application/test/interview/Oath run longer than that. It’s not worth the risk of having my PR card expire when it’s something I have to hand in during the process.
For those of you that don’t know, a Canadian Permanent Resident card has to be renewed every 5 years. I’ve already renewed it once back in 2014 and being the procrastinator that I am, I thought that I would have already become a Canadian Citizen before having to renew my PR card a second time. Like I said before, Life happens.
What will becoming a Canadian citizen mean for me?
I won’t have to fill out applications or renew a PR card ever again, yay. Once I get a Canadian Passport, I won’t have to renew my US passport, yay. I will have all of the same rights as a natural-born citizen, included the chance to vote and serve on a jury (something I can’t do up here). Becoming a Canadian citizen doesn’t automatically mean I’m no longer a US citizen. That’s where the DUAL part comes in.
I can hold both passports (but most likely won’t). I will be able to vote for both US and Canadian elections. I will be able to apply for any benefits that I am eligible for when that time comes. I will still have to file a ZERO return for the USA as well as the Federal/Provincial taxes in Canada every year. Sadly, filing a US Zero return is required even though I left the US in 2009. It doesn’t mean that I owe, nor do I get a refund. It’s a 1040EZ and another form that basically states that I made nothing for the US to tax me on and I owe nothing. The only way to get out of that is to renounce my US citizenship and pay a hefty fee. No thanks, I’ll pass on that option.
Anyway, that is the news for now.
If anyone has any questions about the US to Canada immigration process, I’m happy to answer and provide links to help you learn more.
One last tidbit before signing off….
For those of you going through the process, DOCUMENT all visits outside of the country. Keep a journal and log each trip, the dates, where you went. Same with all of your addresses going back 5 years and where you worked/studied. this information will be super handy when it comes time to renew your PR card or apply for citizenship later on.
Welcome back blog readers,
I know it’s been a while since my last post. Life happens, and sometimes not much happens that’s worth sharing.
During the last month, I have been keeping myself busy with work and have been hooked on playing Diablo 3. The game has provided over 100 hours of entertainment thus far. The fact that my brother, his wife, and their oldest son also play makes the experience more enjoyable.
As far as work goes, things have gotten a bit busy/chaotic now that we are in the summer months and the kids are out of school. You might think that we’d be fully staffed since the high school kids are off for the summer. You’d be incorrect. The summer means more people taking their vacations.
Back in the day, there was a limit/restrictions as to how many associates were authorized Time Off within the same department. There was more coordinating involved as to not approve everyone to take their time off at the same time. Seems things have changed and we are left continuously short-handed, this time it’s not just one week, it’s the entire month of July.
Due to my pre-existing health conditions that will never get better (scoliosis), I’m only supposed to work 3 shifts per week, 4 at most as long as those days are split allowing me a chance to rest in between. For the most part, that has been happening and things (my back and the ability to work) has been manageable.
What people may not consider is that working in the Bakery department is physically demanding. Climbing ladders, reaching for the products in the freezer, lots of bending and squatting, loading up carts and pulling them through the store with more bending and squatting as you stock the shelves.
I did expect that I would be put on for an extra shift while our department is short-handed, to be expected. Four shifts over seven days is my maximum as long as they are spread out with a day OFF in between. It took a while for my manager to get it right, even though it’s not that hard to figure out or work with. I can work any 3-4 days, while closing shifts are better for me, I can open. What used to happen is that I’d get scheduled the last 3 days of the week and then the first 3 days into the following week. That doesn’t work for me, 6 shifts in a row, no time off to rest.
Right now I’m in what I call the Calm before the Storm. I’ve already worked Saturday 27th, Sunday 28th, Monday 29th and I’m not scheduled again until Monday, August 5th. Seems like a pretty sweet deal considering that I didn’t request anything special, it’s just how my manager created the schedule.
Here’s my schedule for the following week:
- Monday 5th, 3:30 – 10pm
- Tuesday 6th, 3:30 – 10pm
- Wednesday 7th, 3:30 – 10pm
- Thursday OFF I have my Chiropractor Appointment in the afternoon. Good thing, I’ll be needing it.
- Friday 9th, 3:30 – 10pm
- Saturday 10th, 3:30 – 10pm
- Sunday 11th, 3:30 – 10pm
- Monday 12th, 3:30 – 10pm
I was asked to cover Tuesday 13th, I only agreed if the person asking could take/switch any shift of mine from the 9th-12th, adding another day would kill me. She opted for the Monday 12th for her Tuesday the 13th. Still, a very grueling schedule for me considering my limitations and restrictions.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if we were looking to hire more people for Bakery/Deli as we need help. Nope, no job posting for either department. We have one associate out recovering from surgery, one high schooler going back in September and two attending college when the next semester begins in less than 35 days. That leaves me (part-time evenings) and one full-time opener to bake, stock, clean both Bakery/Deli. It’s just too much to keep up with.
While looking through the job postings, I noticed there was one for the Cash Office (part-time). I decided to apply for the position as an Internal Transfer. I’ve been in the Bakery department long enough to know that for whatever reason, the Fresh departments are always short-handed, if not Bakery, it’s Meats, Dairy, or Produce. I also have to be realistic about my situation (health-wise).
As much as I love what I do and take pride in what I put out, I know that I can’t do it much longer. I’ve been told to take it easy (by my manager) and not lift/move things I shouldn’t, in which case I wouldn’t be as productive. I move in ways that I shouldn’t and I will continue to do so because things have to get done and I’m a team player. Knowing this about myself, I have to do things differently and not put myself in a position of risking further injury or early disability.
From what I’ve been told from an associate that did work in the Cash Office the schedule seems to be set with rotation weekends 7am-11am and Monday/Tuesday 7am-3pm. So I’d either get two shifts or four, and they would rotate. That would work well for me, especially since I can’t imagine that there would be much heavy lifting and I’d have the chance to sit. While I do need at least 18 hours/week, I could always pick up one shift for Bakery on Thursday.
The associate I talked to said that chances are good that I would get that position since it’s hard to keep filled. The only reason why I would not, my manager doesn’t allow me to transfer because he’s already short-staffed and doesn’t want to lose me. I haven’t talked to my manager about this as it was very last minute and I rarely see him. The Store manager knows, and he accepted my request, so we’ll see how it plays out. Hopefully, I can cover both departments, make a little more money while ensuring that I don’t cut my workable years short.
Other than that, there is nothing new going on with me.
Thank you for your time and reading and your interest if you are following me.
Happy Wednesday ~ Hannah
Shortly after posting this, I noticed a missed text on my phone. My presence is being requested to close tonight. The high schooler that was scheduled, called in and seems to be making a habit of that at least once a week. We are prepping for Inventory tomorrow and someone is needed to work in the freezer to count our products. Awesome!
Guess what I’m doing this evening? Working beyond my limitations and taking one for the team. I’m going to leave a note that lets my fellow co-workers know that they should consider me UNAVAILABLE until my next scheduled shift. I expect that I’ll be getting another text for me to cover for someone in the next few days.
Too Bad, I’m not coming in anymore until Monday. It’s great that I’m considered reliable, dependable but I will not allow this workplace to be the death of me. Hire a few more associates that want to work because I can’t cover for everbody all of the time while nobody covers for me.