Hip Hop and Rape Culture

Today’s entry comes courtesy of Blair Robertson. She is taking a closer look at the correlation between music and rape culture. (Link is set to open in a new window/tab.) Please keep in mind that this may be triggering. If you find yourself being triggered, please stop reading and do something kind for yourself instead. – Amanda

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I want to write a tip-of-the-iceberg- article about the effects of hip-hop and rap music on rape culture today. In one of her recent posts, Amanda Brock addressed the rape-laden lyrics of a lot of popular music; I want to focus on hip-hop. In my opinion, this genre had a direct causative effect on my daughter’s rape.

Becky Blanchard, in The Social Significance of Rap and Hip-Hop Culture, says, “Hip-hop music is generally considered to have been pioneered in New York’s South Bronx in 1973 by Jamaican-born Kool DJ Herc. At a Halloween dance party thrown by his younger sister, Herc used an innovative turntable technique to stretch a song’s drum break by playing the break portion of two identical records consecutively. The popularity of the extended break lent its name to “breakdancing”. She goes on to say, “Hip-hop music originated from a combination of traditionally African-American forms of music–including jazz, soul, gospel, and reggae. It was created by working-class African-Americans, who, like Herc, took advantage of available tools–vinyl records and turntables–to invent a new form of music that both expressed and shaped the culture of black New York City youth in the 1970s.” Rap seems to be rooted in the long oral traditions of Africa, expressing the oppression of the African and Afro-American people. Blanchard goes on to say, however, that hip-hop and rap were discovered by corporate labels, and the commercialization and commodification of the genre quickly diverted the lyrics from\ social, political, and economic problems into those of violence, misogyny, and homophobia. She claims that, “according to Davey D, “The business of music has bastardized rap.” “

For example, Dorian Miller-Rosenberg, in Music News, cites the 15 Most Misogynistic Lines In Rap History, including 1) “My little sister’s birthday/ She’ll remember me/ For a gift I had ten of my boys take her virginity.”–Bizarre, and 2) “Slut, you think I won’t choke no whore/Til the vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more?!”–Eminem.

One of the forerunners of the commercialization of the rap movement was Def Jam records, with one of its earliest presidents being Russell Simmons. Under Simmons, the rappers made the leap to the ever-present usage of the terms “bitches” and “hoes” for women, and the music was increasingly sexualized, with little regard for women’s voices or consent. His sexist attitudes and repudiation of women was highlighted in 2006, during his infamous approval of a Harriet Tubman sex tape. In one part of the documentary, he is asked why he can not address sexism and misogyny in hip-hop, and responds with, ““I think we have to challenge sexism as a whole…the way it stands in the community, not the poetry that is a reflection of it” (Womanifesto: Exploring Sexism, Misogyny and Accountability in Hip-Hop, For Harriet) He doesn’t seem to realize that the poetry he is selling is creating the community as much as the reverse.

As the company was working to become the multi-million dollar corporation it is today, a young woman went in and made herself indispensable, working with Simmons in his bedroom, with drunk partiers sleeping off the night before all around her on the floor. She soon became president of Def Jam records. Who do you suppose that was? Why, the mother of my daughter’s rapist, of course. And this was the environment in which he was raised. Women were ‘bitches” and “hoes”, to be raped or killed at will. In an article in UKEssays, entitled “Mysogynistic Portrayal of Women in Male Rappers”, they conclude that, “Kubrin and Weitzer in their study claim that misogyny is the general characteristic of rap music. Not all of the songs discredit women, but the objectification, intensity of insults and perpetuation of violence towards women stand out to the extreme.

Whatever his mother thought she was teaching him, this is what he learned. And what he puts forward, to this day, on social media. I only wish she had been more like the mother of Earl Sweatshirt, a noted rapper and member of the group Odd Future. His mother was a law professor at University of California; his dad, who left them when Earl was 6, was a famous South African poet and political activist. Earl got involved with the other musicians at a very young age, and was well known for his recordings by the age of 16. According to an article in New Times Music, by Kat Bein, “His debut mixtape made the rounds on hip-hop blogs as a fan favorite. It was equal parts artistic and shocking. The then-16 Sweatshirt showed an incredible talent for unique flows and a mature diction but made waves when pairing that musicality and rhythmic skill with near-obscene stories of kidnapping, rape, cop-killing, and deranged violence.” My son, a fan of his, said he simply could not listen to his music, because it was so filled with graphic and explicit rape imagery. He then did a horrendously violent music video, apparently seen by his mother. She promptly pulled him out of the group, and shipped him off to a therapeutic retreat school in Samoa, where he remained until he graduated. He spent time there working with rape victims, hearing their stories. He returned to music after he graduated, and his content reflected much introspection, growth and maturity. No longer did he rap about rape and violence.

The rape culture-reflecting and-producing hip-hop/rap movement doesn’t catch all the youth in its realm, not even all the musicians, but it takes the strong will of a solid mother and/or upbringing to resist. The music has a seductive beat, and the words worm themselves so far into the subconscious of young men today, I’m convinced it contributes to a lot of the rapes taking place. Annie’s rapist’s mother continues to maintain that her son was falsely accused, and has taken great strides to become a “Christian minister” since the rape occurred, so she will be viewed as a righteous woman and mother. But he was born into the rap culture, bred in its inner circle. He set out that night to rape somebody, and my daughter became the easiest target. If he hadn’t heard a rap song about it, he could write one.(He’s also a rapper, did I mention that?) Recently, on his Facebook page, he posted a picture of women learning martial arts that said, “GIRLS MUST TRAIN…Rape, Abuse, Domestic violence, kidnap, abductions, kwk, TRAIN or DIE.”

One Survivor’s FAQ

A very dear friend of mine wrote this in response to some questions she has often been asked about abuse and her history in particular. She has been generous enough to allow me to share them here. All links are set to open in a new window/tab. – Amanda

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I have been asked so many questions about my abuse. So I am going to shed some light on those. These are my personal answers to those questions.

1.       Why did you stay so long?
Well there are several different answers. First and foremost I did love him, and I honestly didn’t realize how bad the verbal abuse was until he put his hands on me. Second I was scared of losing everything including my kids. You know having seen shows and movies where the courts gave the abuser custody because they had the home. Third, I really thought he would change since he seemed to every time I left. Lastly, Because I wasn’t sure how to leave, or if I would be safe if I left.

2.       How did you leave?
Well I have explained this before. I waited for him to go to work and filed a restraining order. Luckily the police were on top of it because the moment he came home from work he was served with it and was never again in my home.

3.       How can I leave an abusive relationship?
There are assorted ways you can do this. You can do things how I did. Or you can contact your local domestic violence shelter and ask for help.  Sometimes a police officer can force the abuser to leave if you can call them.

4.       What do I do if someone tells me they’re being abused?
First of all believe them. They may only speak out about the abuse once and if they do and aren’t believed it could possibly cause them to never speak out again. Offer any help you are comfortable giving, a place to stay, money if possible, a safe place to use resources (telephone, internet, or friends and family visits) as that is how isolated these victims have become. Do NOT I repeat do NOT tell them to leave, suggest it yes, but never force the issue, if they are not ready they will not remain strong if they do leave. Just be a listening ear and a positive reinforcement for the person confiding in you.

5.       Who can be abusers?
The answer to this is simple, while it is mostly women and children who receive the abuse, men can receive abuse as well. Gay and lesbian relationships as well can result in abuse.

6.       What are the different types of abuse?
Physical Abuse, Psychological Abuse, Financial Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Spiritual Abuse

Another helpful hint for those of you that want to know what the lasting effects are from domestic violence click here 

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If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call your local authorities or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). If you are not in immediate danger, but need someone to talk with or help finding your local resources, please contact me either on my Facebook page Hit Me No More or at my e-mail HitMeNoMore@gmail.com – Amanda

Miracle in the Night

Today’s entry comes from Blair Robertson. In it, she shares what happened in the nights after her daughter’s rape. This is a bit different from what is usually discussed here, but I found it compelling, and worth sharing. – Amanda

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I am not a believer. I’m a spiritual person, with a sense of an over-arching spirit in the Universe and inside each of us, but I don’t believe in a humanoid God that dabbles personally in the lives of humans. So, after my daughter was raped, if one more person had said to me, “God’s got her in His hands…Leave it to God, He’ll take care of her…God will make this all okay in time…”, I think I would have punched them in the face. If God were “taking care” of my little girl, why didn’t He stop that bastard from raping her in the first place. I’d have had so much more anger to deal with than I already did, and I was drowning in it already. I do, however, believe in spirits, and in guardian angels; souls on the other side visit me often, and I find that to be completely natural. Go figure.

Annie was raped on her college campus, in her room, in NYC. I live in North Carolina. I flew up and stayed a week with her, keeping her with me in a hotel room, while we completely redid her room, rearranging the furniture and buying all new bedding, from mattress pad out. The police had taken her sheets. She lived on the second floor of a locked women’s dorm, and we decided not to move her room; after all, the room didn’t do anything to her. She practiced taking naps there in the afternoons, while I was a phone call away at the hotel. I knew, though, that when I left, she’d be scared to sleep in there. I knew that I would if it were me, after all that had happened. So I got the idea to Skype with her at night, so she’d know I was listening for anybody trying to get in, and I could break in on her bad dreams. She liked the idea of me guarding her dreams.

We had details to work out, like what time, where to put the computers so we could be sure I’d hear and see, what lights to leave on. The lights bothered her, so I told her to go ahead and turn them off; I’d be able to hear her still, and call to her. I left a nightlight on in my room so she could see me if she woke during the night.

I didn’t sleep much. I watched over her at night, and went to sleep in the morning, when I thought it was safe. When she got up, she’d just turn the computer off. So I sat a lot and watched a black screen, thinking and feeling all night. I began to notice something strange. In this dark room of hers, with blackout shades on the window, I started seeing lights. I saw a red glow coming off of her body, and each time, a blue light would rise from the floor, and cover the red light and her. When the lights would come up, I could see all the pictures she had taped on the wall behind her bed. They were that bright. This happened several nights before I told her about it. She was freaked out, afraid of them, and afraid I’d lost my marbles at the same time. I told her they, especially the blue light, filled me with peace, that she didn’t have to worry about it. She watched then, and didn’t really see the lights on me.

One night, I had slept a little, but woke in the darkness just before the dawn. I watched, and the red light kept coming off of her, and the blue light kept coming up and covering her, like they were battling for her. When the blue light came up, the light turned lavender. I stayed awake, and watched until she awoke at noon. This happened for hours, until finally the room was completely lavender and stayed that way. When she woke up, the room suddenly stopped being lavender and became dull light, the color one would expect it to be at noon in a room with a dark shade at the window. In the hour or so before she awakened, I opened another window on my computer, and researched spirit lights. I learned that red was the color of anger, confusion, pain; blue was the color of peace, comfort, calming; lavender is the highest color of spirit, it represents mercy and transformation, a becoming one with Spirit. If that’s not guardian angels, I don’t know what is! When I told her all of this, she was skeptical, but less afraid of them. She still wasn’t sure she believed me, so, on several different nights, I took video of them with my phone.

We told very few people about the angels. People think we’re crazy already, especially me. But they brought great comfort in a time of horror, fear, and anger.

I guess what I took from them is that the light, the real daylight, comes in the morning, and the real light of our lives will come again one day, when we make our way through the tunnel of darkness that has covered our path since her attack. But in the darkest part, in the darkness of the night, the angels are spreading light to cover and calm the pain, bringing inner peace to our dreams, and effecting transformation even when we can’t feel or see it.

Why is my hot stove burning me?

I wrote this a while back, when a friend asked me to explain what an abusive relationship was like. Yes, there’s certainly more I could have put into it, but this was enough to answer my friend’s questions, so that is where I stopped. I am sharing it here, for those of you who may not understand what it is like to be in an abusive relationship. Also, while it is written from the perspective of a female being abused by a male, women are not the only ones capable of being abused, and men are not the only ones capable of abusing. Anyone can be abused, and anyone can abuse. But no one deserves it.

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A woman may be touching a hot stove, and wondering why it burns her. Her friends all tell her that she needs to stop touching this hot stove, but she refuses, saying that she loves the hot stove. When her friends point out her burns, she makes excuses, saying that she turned up the heat too high or that she did not touch it the right way.

When she shows up in the emergency room with burns on her hands and arms, the nurses in triage ask her if she has been touching a hot stove. She denies it, claiming she is just clumsy.

She loses contact with her friends and family, because all she has time for is touching this hot stove. She wonders why this stove is burning her, when all she wants to do is express her love for it.

Her counselor tells her that the hot stove is burning her because that is what hot stoves do. She refuses to believe this, repeating her excuses about how she turned up the stove too high, or did not touch it in the right way.

If you are touching a hot stove, please know you are not alone. I was touching a hot stove up until just over three years ago, when I finally got the courage to walk away. There are people willing to help you if you will only let them. If you know a person touching a hot stove, please do not give up on them. They need you more than ever, even if they will not admit it.

This is how it is in an abusive relationship. A woman may be in an abusive relationship, wondering why she is being abused. She does not understand that an abuser abuses because that is what they do. She makes excuses and denies the abuse, thinking it is her fault. But it’s not. She did not do anything to make them abuse her. And she cannot do anything to make them stop.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call your local authorities or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). If you are not in immediate danger, but need someone to talk with or help finding your local resources, please contact me either on my Facebook page Hit Me No More or at my e-mail HitMeNoMore@gmail.com  – Amanda

What is rape?

This entry is going to discuss how rape is defined, and what it looks like. This topic may be triggering, so please proceed with caution, especially if you have been abused, raped, sexually assaulted, or otherwise traumatized. If you find yourself unable to handle reading this article, please stop, and do something else. Your safety is of utmost importance to me, and if that means you don’t read what I have written, I am alright with that. All links are set to open in a new window/tab.

According to the RAINN website, rape is defined as “forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object.” Force, in the case of rape, is defined as violence, threats of violence, coercion, or if the victim is unable to provide consent (unconscious, drugged, disabled, injured, under age, or otherwise unable to clearly indicate consent).

That definition is rather broad. Hopefully I can help clear up some of the ambiguity that it leaves. Rape can occur under many different conditions or in many situations. There is partner rape, which is what it sounds like – where you are in a relationship (dating or marriage) and your partner rapes you. There is statutory rape, where the victim is below the age of consent as defined by local law. There is acquaintance rape, where the victim and rapist know one another but are not dating. And, there is stranger rape, where the rapist is a stranger to the victim. All of these are considered rape, and all of them are crimes. None of them are the victim’s fault. Period. Ever.

Before I continue, I want to emphasize something VERY important. It does NOT matter where you were, or where you were not. It does NOT matter what you were or were not wearing. It does NOT matter what you had or did not have to eat or drink or smoke or shoot up. It does NOT matter how your body reacted. Rape is rape is rape, and it is ALWAYS the rapist’s fault! Please don’t blame yourself. There is NO victim who has EVER “asked” to be raped. There is NO victim who “deserved” to be raped. And rape is NOT about the sex. It is about power, control, and intimidation.

I have been raped more times than I will ever be able to count. And not all of them were the same. (All of these names have been changed, and can be read about in greater detail in My Story.) There was Alex, who I didn’t even realize had raped me. I’d always thought it was sexual assault. But as I got more involved in doing what I’m doing with outreach work in the areas of abuse, rape, and sexual assault, I realized it was actually rape, since he penetrated my vagina with his finger. Then there was Phil, who I’d been in love with for almost three years, and who I’d dated off and on that whole time. He raped me in my sleep one night while I was staying the night at his place. (Which I had tried to get out of, but couldn’t come up with a reason he didn’t have an answer for.) And then there was Ben, who raped me more times than I’ll ever be able to count. He raped me in my sleep, frequently after I’d told him “No,” already. He would insist on sex immediately after fighting, with no apology or making up of any kind. If I refused, he would simply wait until I was asleep, and take it from me then.

All of those count as rape. None of them were wanted. And none of them were my fault. Also, none of them were reported. Rape is a highly under reported crime, which makes the statistics hard to compile. I chose not to report because I was ashamed, and because there was no proof other than my word. It doesn’t help that my own mother told me I deserved what had happened with Alex because she felt I’d broken the rules. It took me many years to realize that she was wrong, that it was not my fault.

I’ve said it before about abuse, and I will say it now, about rape. It is not just men hurting women. Men can be raped, too. Women can commit rape. No one is immune from being raped, unfortunately. And absolutely NO ONE deserves to be blamed for their rape.

I hope this has helped answer what rape is, and what it may look like. If you would like to learn more about rape, please click the link above to the RAINN site where there are many resources available. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call your local authorities or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). If you are not in immediate danger, but need someone to talk with or help finding your local resources, please contact me either here, on my Facebook page Hit Me No More, or at my e-mail HitMeNoMore@gmail.com – Amanda

Why is it easier to tell strangers?

Today’s entry comes from a dear friend. She makes some very accurate observations on why it is easier to talk to strangers about having been raped, abused, or assaulted, than it is to talk to your friends and family. – Amanda

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Today I want to talk about the reasons why it is easier to talk to complete strangers rather than trusted people in your lives about whatever abuse you suffered.

First you have shame. You tend to be ashamed of “allowing” this to happen to yourself. Ashamed of the time it took you to leave or escape. You are ashamed of the resentment you feel towards society, religion, basically anything that you once held so high in standards. You have this feeling of not being worthy of people time, a lot of times because you have been told this by your abuser. A shame that runs so close to your soul’s core that you fear telling a loved one will shatter their core because they had no idea.

This leads to resentment towards your “trusted” family and friends. These are the people that are supposed to love you even at your worst, and yet when you did finally reach out for their hand, they pulled back. Especially, resentment towards the criminal justice system and their lack of knowledge of any form of domestic violence situations. In my case I made it to where he wasn’t able to come back into my home, by getting a restraining order, changing my locks, and following the courts rules regarding the restraining order. Yet, he texted my phone telling me what time I was leaving, when I was coming home, what I was wearing, what our children were wearing (which he couldn’t have known if he was outside of the 500 feet that he was ordered to stay away from me). When taken to the prosecutor in my town I was told “It’s just text messages.”  I asked them “So he is allowed to stalk me?” Their reply made me so angry “That’s not stalking, it is telecommunications harassment” That is why we tend to resent the criminal justice system. Resentment I feel is a bigger part of telling complete strangers rather than those whom are supposed to be your trusted confidants.

Then there is fear of judgment. Things such as: “you were not raised to take that from anyone” why did you stay so long?” “Why didn’t you leave the first time” Judged for the things you “allowed” to happen to you. When talking to police or anyone in the criminal justice system (if you are brave enough to go that route) you tend to feel this sense of negative judgment. They do not understand because they have never been where you are.

And last but not least, we have fear. Fear that we won’t be believed. Fear, that if we have children, they will taken out of our custody and horrible things said to them about us. Fear that if we tell the people we trust the most we will turn on us and side with the abuser.

Fear, judgment, resentment, and shame………. The reasons telling a complete stranger is easier than a friend or family member.

Mothers of Victims

Today’s entry comes courtesy of Blair Robertson. In it, she takes a look at child abuse. In particular, she looks at the reactions of mothers married to men who have abused their child(ren). It may be triggering, particularly if you were abused as a child, so please proceed with caution. And if you find yourself being triggered, stop reading, and do something kind for yourself. – Amanda
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How on Earth did that mother continue to allow her husband/boyfriend to force sex on her daughter? That was one of the questions I heard the most when I worked with child molesters, and a way more complicated question than it seems.

I wondered the same thing when I started facilitating a group for spouses, so that’s where we started. Little did I know that the answers would be coming, in bits and pieces, for months.

The first, most predominant answer is, as you might imagine, “I didn’t know.” And, contrary to the popular beliefs of almost all outsiders, most mothers didn’t. Know. Until they walked in on it, or the child told her. A lot can go on in a busy household, and I thought that, as a mother, I’d know it all, but I wouldn’t, and they didn’t. My son, who is now 25, delights in telling me all the things he did when he was young that I never knew. Fortunately, incest wasn’t one of them. His were mostly stories of jumping in the river from a tree branch, saying “vagina” in his second-grade class, etc. Mothers are quite busy. They often work, leaving the kids at home with dad, then do all the housework after a few hours of deep sleep, all while keeping the children during the hours that dad works. Mothers need help. Most often, the abuse started while dad/stepdad was bathing the children, washing the daughter’s hair. The fun of bath time turned to inappropriate touching. My daughter’s dad gave her baths, too! What was the difference? Who knows? Whatever it is, the one thing it comes down to is integrity. You either have it or you don’t. And you have it until you don’t. And for child-molesting dads, that can change in an instant.

As things progress, the perpetrator gets more afraid of being caught. He gets clever, offering presents to the child who doesn’t tell, making it a “daddy/daughter secret”, even resorting to threats. And the threats are often not towards the child. Most men threaten to hurt Mommy if the child tells, which is far more scary to the child than a threat to hurt her, because she is already being hurt, and knows it.

So what about mothers who do find out? Well, I’ve known more than one woman who was sitting in the living room with a loaded rifle the next time dad walked in, who turned the spouse in, who got the child out of the situation immediately. Unfortunately, it’s not usually that easy or that clean. So many moms expressed to me, “Well, it happened to me the whole time I was growing up, and I’m ok.” No, they’re not ok, but they may not know it, and that’s the tip of a huge iceberg. Moms who grew up being molested may have been daughters of other moms who grew up the same way, far back into generations past. When you don’t know any different, when something is “familiar” (pun intended), how do you know to do anything about it? They may have grown up not liking what was happening to them, but they didn’t like “whuppings” either, and nobody did anything to get them out of the situation. These women often unconsciously “choose” a spouse enough like what they know of daddy/grandaddy/uncle that they practically set up the scenario to happen again, not even conscious of what they are doing.

There is also the patriarchy/money trap. Many of the mothers I worked with had grown up in patriarchal cultures where the man ruled the house, and whatever he did, they had to accept. This is often connected to the money issue, where the dad is bringing in all the money, and leaving is just not an option. What’s a young mom with several children to do on her own, with no education or job skills (often), no child care, no way to even find a place for them to live? There were many times when the child was sent away to relatives, or even given up to DSS, so the mother could stay and get the money she needed for other children or for herself.

And sometimes, the knowledge is just too painful. Denial is a powerful thing, even among the most affluent and able families. A family I know is a “model” family in a small Southern town, daddy a well-placed lawyer, mother beloved by all, scions of the local church, doing way more than tithing every year, respected by all. They walked in on the older brother sexually assaulting the little sister at young ages, scolded and separated the children, then went into denial so fiercely that the subject could never be brought up again. They had way too much to lose. The daughter finally told someone who reported it when she was in high school, and another lawyer in the family squashed the DSS investigation, so the family could still maintain their respect in the town, and the daughter continued to suffer.

Mothers told me they tried everything they knew how to, if they couldn’t report it or get out. They tried never letting the kids out of their sight. But everybody has to sleep. They tried fighting the husband, but the same patriarchy/money questions came into play. Many tried giving the husband/boyfriend so much sex that he wouldn’t need it from the child; that method just won’t work. Once the thrill of the illicit, forbidden act has started, routine, dull sex from a spouse is not going to easily replace it. And, child molestation is more about power than it is sex, anyway.

They only way to stop the cycle is for the women to be empowered, often through (free) counseling. They need to know that the generational cycle of abuse can stop, and needs to stop, here. They need to know that they can be elsewhere, that they don’t have to stay in a situation and keep their child in a situation of abuse. They need to be counseled on education, how to finance it, how to house and feed the children while they pursue a degree or a career; they need the support they have never received– emotional, financial, practical. One young woman started in my group, had been beaten by her husband when she confronted him about watching pornography with the daughter and touching her while they did. She had no empowerment in any way. Somehow, though, she reached down inside herself, reported him, managed to get a job, managed to get the law to order him to give them money, went back to school, and obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work, so she could go to work for DSS to help other mothers save their children. Many children have been saved by this young girl who had first told me, “It happened to me, and I’m fine. The girl will be ok too.”

Cyberstalking

Today’s entry comes from a dear friend of mine. In it, she takes a look at the shortfalls of the current laws regarding stalking. – Amanda

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Come on, justice system catch up to 2014! As of July 2, 2014 the laws in the state of Kentucky (not sure about other states) DO NOT include cyberstalking which according to the National Institute of Justice the definition of cyberstalking is the use of technology to stalk victims—shares some characteristics with real-life stalking. It involves the pursuit, harassment, or contact of others in an unsolicited fashion initially via the Internet and e-mail. Cyberstalking can intensify in chat rooms where stalkers systematically flood their target’s inbox with obscene, hateful, or threatening messages and images. A cyberstalker may further assume the identity of his or her victim by posting information (fictitious or not) and soliciting responses from the cybercommunity. Cyberstalkers may use information acquired online to further intimidate, harass, and threaten their victim via courier mail, phone calls, and physically appearing at a residence or work place. Knowing firsthand how awful it is to be looked in the face by our county attorney and told “It’s just text messages” They were text message that told me what time I was leaving, what I was wearing, what the children were wearing, what time we got home. He asked me numerous times where I got the money for my car (I didn’t have one while we were together). When I took all of this to the county attorney, he said the only thing they could do was send him a warning letter, warning him that if he continues the harassment he would have charges pressed against him. Mind you I had a protection order that he had been violating from day one. Looking at this man dead in the face I said to him……… They can’t find him to serve him divorce papers, or to serve the jail time the judge gave him for violating the restraining order, what makes you think you sending him a warning letter is going to do anything?” I thought his office personnel was actually going to bust out in laughter. I then, as I was walking out the door, I said “What am I supposed to do, ball it up and throw at him when he shows up at my door with a gun?”

On that very day while fighting with those people, a woman was shot by her estranged husband. She was denied a protection order because “it was just text messages” or the actual reason “No allegation of domestic violence” ……. Just text message, right. She received over 180 text messages in a 2 week period.  You can read her complete story here. Well had she been granted that protection order her estranged husband wouldn’t have been able to legal purchase the gun he used to try to kill her, not succeeding, she is now a quadriplegic. Because most places, not saying all, do not check for the mental illness part of the restrictions, but all legal gun sellers do check for the felony and protection order status. She fights every day to walk again, but even more bringing so much awareness to domestic violence and trying to change these laws to allow cyberstalking to be included in petitions for protection orders, and stalking charges.

 So with all of that said please take a moment out of your day and sign a petition if there is one in place in your state to include cyberstalking in these outdated laws. If there is not a petition in place……. Start one!

How to Support Someone who Self-Harms

Today, I want to take a look at a few things that you can do to help support someone who self-harms. Obviously, you don’t want to encourage that behavior. But what can you do to help them? What can you say that won’t make things worse? Where do you even begin? All links are set to open in a new window/tab.

First of all, acknowledge how hard it is to reach out. What they are telling you is that they know their old methods for dealing with hurt, anger, sadness, fear, &/or anxiety are not working, but they don’t know what else to do. This is as big of a deal as an alcoholic saying they don’t want to take that next drink. It is very hard, very scary, to reach past all the fear, doubt, self-loathing, and other negative emotions, and let someone else in. Don’t take that lightly.

Do NOT judge them. They are coping in one of the only ways they know how right now. They are quite likely already judging themselves. They don’t need to hear from you about how bad of a habit this is, or how much damage they are doing to themselves. What they need right now is to know that they are loved and cared for. So tell them. Tell them how much you love them. Tell them all the things that make them amazing, unique, and wonderful. And tell them often. Because hearing it once is nice, but it doesn’t always stick, especially when a person is in so much pain they are intentionally hurting themselves.

Ok, so you’ve acknowledged their bravery in reaching out, told them you love them, and you’re not judging. But now what? Well, now you can help them come up with some alternatives. The Sirius Project has an amazing list of other options. Help walk your friend through them. Help brainstorm some other possibilities. Keep in mind, not every alternative is going to help every person every time. So encourage them to keep trying until they find one that helps them this time.

Talk to them. Ask them if it has helped them, long term, in the past. If they are honest, they will admit it hasn’t, and has often times made things worse. Ask if it will solve any of the problems they are currently facing. Ask what got them to this point, where they are wanting to self-harm. If you can, help come up with solutions that will actually solve their problems, rather than make things worse.

Don’t offer ultimatums like “If you do it again, I’m done,” or “If you don’t stop, I’ll have you committed to the hospital” (if that’s an option where you are). Those kinds of statements will only encourage them to stop trying to reach out, and start hiding it better. It will add to their (already immense) feelings of shame and guilt.

If they engage in self-harm in spite of your attempts to help stop them, don’t walk away from them. They still need you. This is a very hard addiction to break. Help them come up with a plan for next time. Be as available to them as you can be. But above all, never stop loving them just because of their addiction. One of the biggest fears among those who self-harm is that those who love us will walk away once they realize how hard this addiction is to beat. We need reassurance that, regardless of how many times we may slip, you will still be there, and still care.

This does not mean they have free license to dominate your time and energy, however. You do have a right to tell someone that you still love them, but are no longer able to be their only source of help and support. If that time comes, try to help them find other support, whether it be therapy, a chat group, or another means of help.

As always, if you need further help or support, or need/want to chat with someone who cares, please feel free to get in touch with me either through here, through Facebook at Hit Me No More, or by email HitMeNoMore@gmail.com – Amanda

What is Self-Harm?

In the last entry, reference was made to self-harm, also known as self-injury. I realize that this is a term that many people may not be familiar with, so I thought it would be prudent to take a look at what self-harm is, and why someone would resort to it. This is something I have personally struggled with for many years now. I started cutting when I was 16, and started trying to stop when I was 18. I am now 31, and just under a month away from hitting one year cut free. Please proceed with caution, as this topic may be triggering, particularly if you have struggled with self-harm. If you find yourself being triggered, please stop reading and do something kind for yourself instead. All links are set to open in a new window/tab.

Wikipedia defines self-harm as  follows: “Self-harm (SH) or deliberate self-harm (DSH) includes self-injury (SI) and self-poisoning and is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue most often done without suicidal intentions.” Self-harm (SH) and self-injury (SI) are synonymous, and as such are often used interchangeably. So, that answers what self-harm is. But what does it look like?

Self-harm can look like any number of things. For me, it most often is a blade used to cut myself. For others, it is hitting themselves hard enough to cause bruises, and sometimes even broken bones. Some people burn themselves. Some scratch their skin. And so on and so forth. Basically, if you can cause harm to yourself by doing something, it can be used as a form of self-injury. Eating disorders and substance abuse typically are not classified as SH, however, because the resulting tissue damage is usually an unintentional side effect.

Ok, but why would someone do that to themselves? What could they possibly hope to achieve by hurting their body?

The answer to those questions are complicated, and yet very simple. It causes a release of chemicals in the brain that gets you high. You then get addicted to that rush, and continue to seek it out. SH is considered a negative coping strategy, in that most people who do it are attempting to cope with something too big for their usual coping skills. This is why it’s important to learn healthy, non-harmful coping skills when you’re trying to stop hurting yourself. It is often used to deal with abuse. The pain in the body drowns out the pain in the mind, and often leads to a numbness where nothing is felt. That nothingness is, to someone who self-injures, preferable to the pain they feel before they injure.

It is important to note that while someone who self-injures is NOT making a suicide attempt, it CAN lead to life threatening injuries or infections. That makes it important to properly care for wounds, including sometimes having to go to the hospital. However, since SH is so widely misunderstood, many people are hesitant to seek medical treatment for their injuries.

In tomorrow’s entry, I will share some tips on how to help support someone who self-injures, including what you can do to help them stop. In the meantime, if you self-harm, know you are not alone. Whatever it is that led you to this point can be dealt with in healthy ways. There is a link to self-harm alternatives on the Resources page on this site. If you want or need to talk with someone who understands, please feel free to get in touch with me here, through my Facebook page Hit Me No More, or by email at HitMeNoMore@gmail.com – Amanda