Wednesday, May 07, 2008

perpetuating the legacy of woundedness (creating a new cycle of truth)

some facts:

-from the time i was 6 or 7 until i was 13, my older brother sexually abused me.
-when i was 9, my parents walked in on it, did nothing (aside from scolding me). this was not the first or the last time they failed as parents, not the first or last time they failed to protect their child(ren).
-i come from a wounded family. my mom was sexually abused and raped. so was her mother. my dad grew up in a less-than-supportive household. my mom's first husband, my oldest brother's father, was an abusive alcoholic rapist. my brother, the one who abused me, was sexually abused. it was not a family of love. it was a family of facades, of falsehoods. our family dynamic is based squarely in denial.
-i am healing. my parents are not. my brother, the one who abused me, is not. my oldest brother has some stuff he could work on as well. (thus, part of the reason i am extracting myself from this family, immersing myself in one that loves me, one i chose.)

every so often, i look at all of the terrible, abusive/unloving (unable to love) parents, and my heart breaks, ten times over. and i wonder: why the fuck are these people bringing children into their lives?

which brings me to the underlying reason for this post:
my brother's girlfriend is pregnant. 11 weeks along. (only one more week for a legal abortion in virginia...but she's not going that route, and as much as i wish she would, i can't - and wouldn't, even if i could - force her. obviously.)
she's keeping the child.
my brother, the one who abused me, is going to be a father.

i'm not going to go into the individual feelings of obligation i feel toward this child, to save this kid from the abuse that may or may not happen, or to alert hir mother to the possibility so she can save the child if/when the abuse starts. (projection much?)

i will, however, go here:
the continuation of the legacy of abuse.
people talk all the time about breaking the cycle. they'll say, "it stops with me."

but does it really?
how can you know that for sure?
in most places, there's no way you could lock up your abuser for long enough that he'll no longer be able to find victims - the law doesn't work that way in a rape culture such as ours.
you can't control your rapist's/abuser's life to the point that he will not have access to more victims.
you can speak out, you can call him out, you can name the abuse for what it is. he may or may not believe you. if he believes you, he may or may not get help. if he gets help, he may or may not change. you have no control over that.
sure, you're naming it. you're coming out about being abused.

but what does that really do, outside of yourself? can you expect it to do anything outside of yourself?
if "it stops with me," what power am i claiming for myself here? and is that really power i even have access to?

fact is, i can't control anything outside of my own individual reality. i can't make ashley abort this child. i can't make john not abuse the kid, and i can't prevent anything when it's outside of my own existence.
i know, of course, that if john abuses his child, it's not my fault. there's nothing i can do to stop it. and that, right now, if i were to decide to fulfill that perceived obligation and not detach from my family, i wouldn't be taking care of myself in any way that would allow my presence to be beneficial to this child.

what's the point, then, in speaking out? outside of oneself, i mean. if there's no chance of controlling your abuser's life to the point of preventing him from abusing again, how are you breaking the cycle of abuse?
i guess the answer to that (or, at least, the best i can come up with now) is:
the point is making it known. the point is speaking it so that other people can continue to speak it.
the point is creating a new cycle, one of truth and words and speaking and listening, in whatever form(s) those things may take.
in speaking, in making it known, you're creating a second thought for those rapists and abusers. you're not being a passive victim, and so you're making it harder for them to abuse someone else. on a societal level, your voice is disrupting the rape culture. on a community level, your voice is carrying to others, creating a space for others to speak. on a personal level, your voice is creating a space for you to inhabit, a space of truth, because life is not possible or worthwhile without truth.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

quick hit: some south dakotans really hate women. still.

Leslee Unruh and her ilk are at it again. for real this time, though.

(leslee spearheaded the anti-choice campaign in South Dakota two years ago, heading both the lobbying for the abortion ban law - passed by the SD legislature and signed by the still-governor mike rounds - and the "vote yes for life" campaign that answered Planned Parenthood's campaign (the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families) challenging the law and leaving it up to the voters. she's pretty much pure evil.)

just last week, leslee's new campaign - Initiated Measure 11, which does the same thing as the 2006 law, with a couple important differences - gathered enough signatures to put the abortion ban back on the ballot for south dakotans to vote on in november.

in 2006, SDCHF's approach was thus: the abortion ban passed by the legislature was extreme and didn't even include exceptions for health of the woman or for rape or incest.
i took issue with this strategy, since it kind of avoided the whole abortion as a basic human right (i.e. abortion = choice = bodily autonomy) and kept abortion in that shame-full closet. and it opened up the door for exactly this:
the same measure, but with exceptions for health, life, and rape/incest.

we only won with 56% of the vote last time around.
i do not doubt that we'll lose those crucial 7% who will vote for this law to take effect because it has those exceptions. because, you know, it's ok to control women's bodies in general. just not in those few anomalous cases where the pregnancy is endangering her health or the even rarer occasion when she's willing to come forward about her assault.

i'm saddened. and angered. and disappointed. and disillusioned.
i may be going to south dakota again this year. i'd better start working on those long "o"s and my midwestern accent.