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Friday, November 5, 2010

Situation Coathanger (WARNING: SA)

WARNING: This post talks about sexual assault.

Once there was a little girl with a mummy, a daddy and two brothers. From the time she was born, her daddy loved her very much, and paid her more attention than he ever paid her brothers. Her mummy didn't like that very much, so to make up for it, she spent more time with her two sons. When the little girl's daddy started to be inappropriate, her mummy didn't notice. Eventually, the mummy got tired of the daddy never paying attention to anyone but his little girl, so she got a divorce from him. Every second weekend and a share of the holidays, the mummy sent all the children to spend time with their daddy; and later, with their daddy and his new wife. When the children visited their daddy and stepmother, they were usually not treated very nicely, not even the little girl, and the whole time, the daddy was inappropriate with the little girl, and so was her new stepmother.

When she was 12, her mummy kicked her out and sent her away to live with her daddy. After two years, her daddy didn't want her anymore either and he sent her back to her mummy's house. For the next few years, when she went with her brothers to visit her father and her stepmother, he wasn't inappropriate in that way anymore. When the girl got old enough, she moved back out of her mother's house and got married. That didn't go very well for her, either, but her father and stepmother knew they couldn't touch her while she was married. When the girl's husband wanted a divorce, she found a new boyfriend to keep her safe, but when that ended, she had to move back in with her mother.

The little girl's mother wanted to prove that she was a good mother, so even though the girl was now a woman, she had to call her father on special days and wish him nice ones, because if she didn't, her mother might kick her out again, and this time she didn't have anywhere to go...

I am 27 years old, and even though I have tried to cut contact with them; if my father and stepmother want to contact me, all they have to do is ring my home number, and I am bullied and/or tricked into talking to them. I am 27 years old, and whenever I am bullied into seeing my father, he still assaults me.

I am working on getting out of here. I have been on the housing list for a year, as the highest priority. I am in the process of moving interstate so that I can be and feel safe. But in the meantime...

In the meantime, my younger brother came down to my bedroom on Wednesday night, and asked me whether I was doing anything on January 8. I didn't even look up from what I was doing, I told him I wasn't sure but presumably I had no plans. As he said, "good, then you're going to Dad's", I looked up and saw the phone in his hand. My father had to have heard everything. My brother walked away, triumphant.

Ten minutes later, he returned and handed me the phone because my father wanted to talk to me, too.

There is no such thing as safety in this house, not for me. He can get me anywhere. He can come after me at any time, and my family will just hand me over.

This is always a difficult month for me, for unrelated reasons, but right now I am a mess. I am in the process of trying to quit alcohol as a coping/destruction mechanism; I am trying to organise things for this move; I'm in the process of reporting the assault when I was 15; I am trying to fix the friendships that fell apart when I came back from a holiday three months ago; there's a few other things going on that I'm not able to talk about right now; and I am trying to deal with everything that November means for me... and now this.

I want to say that I can't do this, that I don't have what it takes to live through this, but I know that if I choose to, I can and I will. I'm struggling, though, to want to choose to. Until I can get out of here, this is what my life will always be. And that's hard to know.

I know I am walking into a situation where I am going to be assaulted. I know that as much as I have been trapped into it, that doesn't stop it being a choice. And that means that I am, by definition, choosing to be assaulted. And that's where it gets too hard. Because I do not want it, but I am choosing it. And if I am choosing it, I deserve it. If I am choosing it, when it happens, it will be my own fault. It would be different if I didn't know, if I thought there was even a chance I would be safe, but all of my precautions come to nothing, every time. And I still go. I do have reasons for why I make the choice I make, but I cannot shake the belief, the knowledge, that this is my own fault.

This coat hanger binds me too tightly, I can no longer breathe. I wanted to challenge these thoughts, but I don't know how.

If anyone out there has any suggestions, they would very much be gratefully appreciated right now.

Cheerleading/Challenge Statements:
It's okay to do things to look after myself. It's okay to be a little bit gentle with me right now.
Even if it feels like the rest of my life will be like this, it won't be. Eventually something will change.

*Explanation on title: Carol and I were discussing this sort of situation after my call to dad for Father's Day. When she asked me to give the situation and the feelings associated with it, a shape, it was very clearly a coat hanger.


  1. I'm not sure if I can be helpful or not, but I can tell you what got me out of an abusive situation: I knew I was going to die.
    The person abusing me wouldn't have done it- they "needed" me. I would have. I felt that if I let it happen one more time, it would always happen. I didn't think I was strong enough to go through it again and survive. So I left. I had no where to go. I didn't give myself time to think about that or I would have talked myself out of leaving, even though I knew what staying meant. If I had allowed myself to think or to stop, I would have stayed. That thought still terrifies me.
    I was homeless. It wasn't that bad; I was much safer that way.

    I know this isn't what you want to hear, and I'm not sure that I should say it. But going *is* a choice. I can see that you do know that- just as I can see that you can't really accept it on all levels because of what you think that means.
    It *DOES NOT* mean that you deserve what is happening. It *DOES NOT* mean you want it or that it is your "fault".
    It means that you are being as strong as you can right now. It means that you are making the hardest choice in the world, and doing the best that you can to survive. There is never anything bad or wrong about that. Your decision may or may not be the best thing for you- you are the only one who can decide that. There is no shame in either decision. There is only survival, and doing what you can to create the future you want for yourself.

    You are a wonderful, brave, amazing person, and I love you. I, and many others, care for and about you. Please be gentle with yourself.

  2. You are SO brave to talk about this.

    I can certainly relate to some of this, and as I step away from an abusive relationship, I can hear myself saying to the support workers/psychiatrist, "It's my fault. It must be my fault."

    I'm not going to talk crap and my head is not in a good place to offer anything more than love and support, and to tell you I'm listening.

    Take care of you,
    xx Pixie

  3. Iargainn, (I want to call you what I always call you, but I'm not sure I should!), you say you know it's not what I want to hear - and I'm not sure whether that's accurate or not - but definitely in there is what I needed to hear. I keep coming back to it, it still makes me cry.
    Thank you. Thank you more than I have words for.

    Pixie, thank you as well, for your kind words and for the love and the heart behind them. I hope things work out for you in the situation you're leaving, too.