Damned if you do, damned if you don’t in domestic violence

This whole Stephen A. Smith/Ray Rice saga has my wheels turning. It actually goes back to an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience where Bill Burr (one of my favorite comedians) was a guest.

They were talking about domestic violence and how they do not condone it, but they wondered what happened in the car prior to Chris Brown beating down Rihanna and how it is a fair question. Did she ask him what he wanted for dinner or did she tell him that he had a small dick and she just fucked all his friends?

What brings a person to the tipping point?

The problem with this dialogue is that it’s really hard to have without it sounding like you are blaming the victim, even when you are not and explicitly reject the notion that domestic violence of any form is a viable resolution.

Do we have a duty to protect ourselves in these situations? To a point, we do. And I’m looking at this from the human point of view, completely impartial to the sex of victims in all violent situations.

Let me give an example. I used to hang out with a guy who got into fights almost every time we went out. I mean every single time. In one of these altercations, I got in the middle and tried putting an end to the situation, thinking, “If I’m in front of him, no way this guy throws a punch.” I was wrong. He did throw a punch and I’m the one who’s face it landed on.

I don’t know if he meant to hit me or was aiming for my then friend and missed. In retrospect I was just as guilty as my friend that day for what happened. I had no business getting in the middle of that fight and while that guy should not have thrown a punch knowing that a female (or really a human!) was in front of him, I should have known better.

Why? Because you don’t know what someone’s trigger is. You don’t know what the tipping point of their temper is. You don’t know what happened to a person in their life and in their day leading up to the point where they snap and violence becomes their reaction to stimuli.

I mean this as a warning to men and women both. You don’t know how far a person will go, and sometimes the perpetrator themself has not yet come to realize the limits of their anger. Maybe they’re just an inherently violent and horrible person. Maybe life has been kicking them in the balls for weeks or months or years and it is all culminating to this moment when they just lose it on the first person that pushes their buttons, completely indiscriminate to that person’s sex. Maybe they suffer from some sort of mental illness.

So do I think, especially as a survivor of domestic abuse, that people need to be aware during altercations of what they are doing? Yes. They do. Men and women alike in any and all situations. You have to protect yourself and we all have had that moment where something came flying out of our mouth in a fight and we knew immediately that we went to far.

That does NOT mean that a man has a right to lay his hands on a woman. That is NEVER EVER the solution and if you come to that point you’re a piece of shit and you should be locked up. (But instead, we forgive and forget as long as a person is pumping out hit records, throwing touchdowns, or blocking shots on the ice. It’s a disgrace.)

Domestic violence is NOT the victim’s fault, no matter what. You are not the problem. You do not deserve to be beaten by another person. You are not in the wrong.

But that does not mean that we have no responsibility to not escalate situations to where they get out of control because you simply do not know if the other person will fight back with words or with punches. Everyone knows when they are just pushing someone’s hot button relentlessly until the moment they explode.

I reflect very hard on my history as a victim of violence and constantly seek a reason. I look at each individual incident and wonder where it went wrong. What brought another person to lay his hands on me and do unspeakable things? In my particular situation, I didn’t bring it to that point with words. He was truly just that fucked up of a person that shit was completely random and was mostly the product of extreme paranoia and low self-esteem. I was an easy target and the most readily available.

But I think we’ve all seen fights in public where you recognize where something needs to end and the people need to shut up and walk away, but instead someone has to get in the last word and go for the proverbial knock out punch and end up landing themselves a literal punch.

Some people lack self control or just fucking snap. Every single person out there has a responsibility to do what they can to prevent all situations from turning violent. You cannot always prevent this, but you can try by keeping your own composure.

If it turns violent, get help and know that regardless, it is not your fault. But we still need to take the higher road and not escalating situations so that they become worse. I do not find this to be unreasonable.

Ray Rice’s wife is the victim. Plain and simple. He is a piece of shit and should be in jail,  not on the football field. However, Rice’s wife has a duty to protect herself, especially knowing that he will not hestitate to beat her until she is unconscious. That does not mean that she is “asking for it.” It just means that like two strangers in a bar, she has to be smart and do all she can to diffuse situations before they get to the point of no return. She is well aware of who she married and what he is capable of. If she is going to go in for the long hull, she needs to do everything she can to protect her body from harm.

Whether you are a man or a woman, strangers, friends, or in a commited relationship, you are the only person y0u can always count on to protect yourself. Violence is NEVER EVER EVER the answer in ANY situtation, at any time and in any place.

But no person is without responsibility for their personal safety. But that doesn’t mean that we are blaming victims of violence. There is simply a need to always consider your safety in all situations, most especially when you are dealing with someone who has a history of violence. It could mean your life.

If you are the victim of abuse, you do not have to stand for it. Get out. Get help. Stand strong and know that there are others out there who care and understand and will be there for you.

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A Women’s Locker Room

By Rachel

We’ve all heard horror stories about the men’s locker room. It is almost a staple in stand-up comedy. Old men walking around with shriveled up little penises (peni?), hairy, and flabby, and just hanging it all out everywhere. They just don’t care.

The ladies locker room is just as bad. It is full of its own terrifying incidents.

I usually visit at off-peak hours. I like the locker room quiet. I don’t have to get dressed next to other people or share space at the mirror. I don’t have to wait for machines out in the main room and I can sometimes utilize the various studio spaces. Queue up my yoga app and run through a routine in complete silence. The locker room might be the biggest perk though.

The problem with the women’s locker room is mainly that it is unfortunately a potential look into our futures as a female. I cannot get onto the weight machines fast enough. Nothing motivates me like seeing an elder physique sauntering around a locker room after a good steam.

Naked elder folk are not exclusive to the men’s locker room. Old women walk around naked as they day they were born in the ladies room as well. Saggy, spot covered boobies  everywhere. They don’t care. You don’t want to look but you cannot help yourself. It’s such a train wreck. The women’s locker room is the most evil crystal ball in the universe. It’s enough to make you either vomit or sprint back to the treadmill.

Naked  nastiness aside, some women don’t understand etiquette. More than once now, I’ve been blinded by older female vag.  I’m getting dressed, I turn around, and someone has a leg perched up on a bench, flashing their coochie.

I’m sorry, ladies. But no one is licking your hoo-ha after age 45. I’m pretty sure that is the expiration date on that activity.  Open your pants like an all you can eat buffet now while you still can. I now understand why women have reconstructive surgery downstairs. I wonder if Obamacare covers this?

Chatty Cathys are another issue. It’s okay to put your bra on before attempting to hold a full blown conversation with me. Really. I’ll wait. I’ll help you clasp the back if you need, as long as I don’t have to keep nervously averting my eyes so I don’t look like a perv while I’m talking to you.

My gym is funded by my employer, so in  addition to being open to the community, there are a lot of my fellow employees there as well. There is entirely too much- “Oh you work there too? What department? Do you know so-and-so? How long have you worked there? Do you always come here at this time because I’ve never seen you here before?” with titties flapping as you’re wildly gesturing. How can I concentrate on this interrogation with your headlights blinding me?

In a guy’s mind, a women’s  locker room looks like the Playboy Mansion. Even I wish that it did. It’d be less miserable and it wouldn’t smell like pee mixed with various awful perfumes. I’d rather look around and feel worse about my own body because I haven’t attained maximum babe status than feel bad because I am going to be old and forever pruney.

I thank the bearded Jesus every day that my mom still looks good at 51 years old. It’s some consolation that if I at least take care of myself I have a fighting chance and not disintegrating on my 47th birthday.

The women’s locker room is just as much of a shit show as the men’s room. I cannot unsee the things I have seen or unhear the things I have overheard. Have some modesty, ladies. Confidence is fine, but I don’t need your sweaty snatch in my face because you don’t have the decency to get dressed without attempting to contort yourself into odd positions.

The Magazines are Bullshit

By Rachel

Cosmopolitan Magazine is bullshit. I think around age 25 is when you first start to realize that “The Bible,” is nothing more than a 150 pages of propaganda and lies. If you’ve read one issue of Cosmo, you’ve read them all. Dick sucking tips that most men wouldn’t want you to try, pages full of outfits and accessories for a “woman on a budget” that aren’t the least bit affordable, and pictures of size zero models that are supposed to represent you.

Has your boyfriend ever asked you to put a scrunchie around his cock? Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Let’s rewind.

Today, I saw this posted on the almighty book of faces. (It’s the most accurate place to receive news, right?)

cosmo

Plus sized? I didn’t think this could be real. So I dug around. I found this. Browse through the photos. Here is another example:

cos-08-bathing-suit-plus-size-model-de

Can I be totally honest with you for a minute? The size and shape she is in this photo is the size and shape I was the summer before I had my son. Size 10. Had no issue wearing a bikini instead of a tankini, shopped in the juniors section still. I didn’t consider myself plus sized. I honestly felt really good about myself and thought I looked healthy. And I was healthy. I weighed about 165 pounds or so and I was content to stay at about that size.

The point of all this is that calling this clearly beautiful woman “plus size” is part of the reason that women suffer from body dismorphia. All this talk about “thigh gap” and calling this curvy, but very pretty woman “plus size” makes reaching your goals seem even more unattainable. Since when is a size 8 or 10 plus sized?

Can’t she just be a “model?” They put it out there that she is plus sized, making it seem like she is so brave to wear a two piece bathing suit in a magazine. It’s bullshit in the highest form. It’s an insult to really all women. We attach these extra descriptors to people that are completely unnecessary.

I have friends that are all sizes and they are beautiful. I don’t refer to them as my “skinny friends” and “plus sized” friends. They are just my friends. They are all gorgeous each in their own right, but I don’t love them because of their physical attributes.

What this added word in the headline of this photoset did achieved the opposite of what I’m sure was its good natured intent. What I’m certain Cosmo meant to do was empower women by saying that being plus sized doesn’t make you ugly. But when you attach a photo of an average sized woman with a body that most women would kill for even if they have to gain weight to attain it (yes, some skinnier girls wish they could gain weight and be more curvy), you’re sending a mixed message to your viewers.

Women who are “too skinny” are told to eat a cheeseburger and women who are curvy or overweight are sarcastically told to “have another cheeseburger.” It’s a never ending cycle of women attacking other women. rather than helping women to look past dress sizes and encourage women to accept one another and to look beyond size for what true beauty is.

Flipping through dozens of pages of women showing off their ribs followed by a page featuring a healthy looking young woman and calling her “plus size” (which let’s face it, we all read as “fat” or “overweight”) is setting women back. Cosmo doesn’t practice what they preach, and neither do many other magazines. Instead, they force images on us that seem impossible to mold ourselves into.

While trolling Cosmo’s FB page, I found this conversation. It’s about a “bullshit dating site” that is for skinny girls only. The comments are amazing.

cosmo comments

Pretty much sums up my thoughts. You display faux outrage because it caters to your audience, but in the process, you are losing because people aren’t dumb. They can see the hypocrisy simply by looking at the cover of your magazine.

If you want to see what most women consider “plus sized,” look at Forever 21’s website for their plus sized section.

Size zero, or size 18, it doesn’t matter what your size is. Cosmo isn’t going to stop being Cosmo, but we need to start being kinder to one another as women and that is the one thing we should all take away from this. Stop worrying about your friend’s thigh gap or lack thereof, and concentrate on if she is being a good friend.

And stop going to Cosmo for sex and make-up advice unless you want to get weird looks from your boyfriend (trust me, some of these positions will break the hips of even the most athletic couples) and spend $156 on a bottle of foundation. It’s for a woman on a budget!!!!!!!!!

I’d Rather Be Alone

By Rachel

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I was the victim of sexual  abuse. Calling myself a “victim” is something that I am having a tremendously rough time dealing with. It’s not something I ever wanted to be or be viewed as. Who wants to be a victim? I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that for four years, that was my life, let alone the implications of what it means with regard to me on a personal level.

Victim. Weak. Manipulated. Naive. Afraid. Betrayed. Used.

Typing these words is just as hard as saying them aloud. How could this have been me? I was smart. I was strong. I was supposed to meet a wonderful guy and have a family. But I didn’t. I fell prey to someone who knew exactly how to take advantage of my weaknesses and use them to break me down in every way possible.

Some days I feel perfectly fine. I’m happy. And overall, I am happy and pleased with my life. But since I’ve began to confront my past, I also have days that all I can do when I lie in bed at night is cry until I can’t cry anymore. I have moments where I just get lost and stare into space. There are times where it is easier to become numb than feel the anger and the pain. I just shove everything down like I have become accustomed to doing over the years.

After I published the last of the three blogs I wrote, I’ll admit, I fell apart emotionally. While I was writing, I felt alive. It was like years of secrets and lies escaping at once and freeing me from their weight. Once I began receiving messages from readers, I panicked. It was finally real. It wasn’t a skeleton hiding in my closet. I put it out in the open because I believed it would be theraputic and would solve everything. What actually happened was I took the first step in healing. It couldn’t happen with just one click of the mouse. It’s going to take time.

Since I have written about my experience, quite a few people have come to me and told me that they had similar experiences or were abused by a domestic partner in some way. Most recently, a very good friend of mine confided in me that she shared my experience.

I don’t like hearing that I’m “not alone.” I don’t want to hear it. It doesn’t make me feel better. It doesn’t make it easier to know that I’m not the only one. It absolutely breaks my heart, especially knowing that several of my closest friends from over the years have been victimized in some way.

I’d rather be alone than know that the people I love and care about have hurt the way I did.

The damnedest part of it all is that I’m living a paradox. I need to know. I need to know that I’m not alone because I can help someone else get through what they have experienced. I need to know because it keeps me fighting. I don’t want my friend to hurt the way I do or to have to feel what I feel as I work through my issues. Knowing her personally though, maybe we can help each other.

My friends that know have been amazingly supportive since I put this out  for the world to see. The people I consider my best friends have been patient and understanding as I start the healing process. I appreciate every day that I have them available to listen when I need to talk. Having someone I know intimately though to talk to that has also survived abuse will help me in so many other ways.

I’d like to say that since August and September that I’ve gotten better, but the truth is, I don’t know if I’m better. A lot of days I feel worse, but I know that it is because I’m forcing myself to stop ignoring and start letting it out. I’ve ripped off the bandaid and now I have to find a way to survive the consequences of doing that.

I’d rather be alone, but it’s painfully ironically lucky that I am not.