Ignorance On Twitter Kept Me Up All Night

My friends have gotten an earful from me about people saying “gay” as in “stupid.”
There’s a whole website dedicated to ending the derogatory use of retard(ed).
People on my campus debate all the time about who can use the N-word and who can’t.
But it’s time we talked about another word/phrase that we need to stop using.

And for those of you who just read that, rolled your eyes, and thought “People need to stop being so sensitive!”

Shut up.  Just shut up, sit down, and listen to me.

It’s time we stop joking about sexual abuse, not only joking, but trivializing it.

If you did an awesome job on a test, good job.  You did an awesome job on the test.  But no, you didn’t “rape it.”

If someone says they were raped, assaulted, abused, molested, used, etc. No matter what their character is, no matter how they present themselves, no matter how they dress, no matter how many hook ups they’ve had, no matter how many times you’ve caught them lying before… You believe them, you support them, and you find them help.  You don’t laugh about it to your friends or brush it off.

And seriously, if I hear one more trivialized comparison between a sexual remark and sexual abuse, I will throw my already-broken-laptop out the window.

Don’t understand what I’m talking about?  Let me explain…

Some students from my university put together a page where people could anonymously submit crushes and flirty remarks. Some of the comments have said things like “Jane Doe has the best butt on campus” “I’d like to ride John Smith” and “SoAndSo can pop out of a cake for me ;)”  Yes, they are sexual.  Yes, they are over-the-top.  Yes, they are inappropriate.  But the responses I’ve seen against this page have boiled my blood.

Obviously, people have spoken out against this page.  Calling it “immature” “rude” “offensive” “degrading” “disgusting” “childish” and many… MANY.. other words.  Seeing as how most of the posts on the page are silly, humorous, or things like “This guy is such a cutie” “She is so gorgeous” and seeing how even the inappropriate comments are mild… I think it is an overreaction. Out of the 54 posts on that site 12 could be stretched to be considered inappropriate.   BUT on to my point…

One dissenter of the page wrote “it is nothing less than a form of sexual abuse.” and that’s when I knew I would write this post.

Sexual abuse is “a crime to knowingly cause another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat.”  Yes, those remarks can be considered inappropriate.  But sexually abusive?  Not a chance.  Degrading?  I wouldn’t even go there either.  Degrading is to de-grade someone, to lower them down in rank.  These comments, although inappropriate and immature, were intended to give someone a confidence boost, not to humiliate someone.  I can’t bring myself to call them degrading.  It’s just mindless people.  Not abusive.  And honestly, half of those posts were probably written by guys and their roommates about each other as jokes.

If you still stand by this idea that the people posting on the site are hypocrites and dirty pigs… and if you still think that what is being said on that site is sexually abusive.  Consider this.  Have you ever been locked in a room, pinned down, struggling to keep unfriendly hands and other body parts away from exploiting you?  I have.  I am a survivor of sexual abuse.  Survivor.  It’s a term applied to victims to honor and empower their strength to heal.  And I find it offensive that my assault gets classified in the same category as “That guy, the crazy one on the volleyball team, he can give it to me any day.”

To the person who said “it is nothing less than a form of sexual abuse,” I don’t know you.  I don’t even think we’ve ever said hi to each other.  But I will say this.  That page is MANY things less than a form of sexual abuse.  I’m not saying this to attack you or vent my anger.  I’m saying this to open people’s eyes.

I understand that the Christian community can be highly sheltered and doesn’t talk about sexual things outside of “I get to have sex because I’m married!  It’s awesome!” “Ye perverse sinners.  How dare you look at porn or quote Family Guy!” or “This is my testimony… BUT JESUS.” I would be willing to say that Christians are so afraid of how desensitized our culture is to sexuality, that they have over-sensitized themselves.  But seriously, let’s get our definitions right.  Don’t confuse stupid innuendos with sexual abuse.  Doing that trivializes the traumatic experience that someone has gone through.

Sexual abuse can tear apart families, destroy marriages, and ruin lives.  I’ve seen it cause problems for my friends and their relationships.  I’ve seen it make peers run out of classrooms sobbing from triggered memories.  I’ve seen it take over and consume my mind.  It is real.  And it is serious.

People need to understand the weight their words have.  No more talk of how your team “raped” the other team.  No more disregarding or worse, laughing at, that girl’s claims that she got molested by her date.  And no more labeling things as “sexual abuse” that are merely inappropriate.

Don’t be so quick to give something a weighty label in order to drive home your message.   You have no idea who you can hurt by doing that.

It’s Been Another Year

November the 7th.  Back again.  I was hoping that this year I wouldn’t think about it, and that one day I’d be like “Oh… isn’t that day coming up?”  Only to discover it had passed several days ago.

Only it didn’t.

I was sitting in class.  I wrote down the date on my notes and was tracing over it with my pen… and it hit me.  11/7.  So much for paying attention in class?  I couldn’t focus.  My mind was consumed.  I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone.  I wanted to get away and get alone as soon as possible.

But I really couldn’t.  There was a snow storm today so I couldn’t be outside, my roommates were all in the apartment, and there was no way I was going to hash out these issues in the silent library.   There was just no where to be alone.

So I distracted myself.  I stuck with someone who helped me keep my mind off of it for most of the evening.  And I was blessed by friends with kind words of encouragement and a wonderful, perfectly-timed cup of hot chocolate.  (I’m really beginning to think that my love language is, in fact, food.)

Yeah, there have been times today that I’ve questioned whether or not to take a second shower because I needed to cry… (and I HATE crying)  There have been moments that I have gone into other worlds, consumed in thought about it all.  There have been moments that I’ve muttered strings of four-lettered-words under my breath in bitterness because not only did something happen that I didn’t ask for and that I tried to stop… but it is also still a part of my life today.   “Hey cool… You weren’t invited. Oh, even better!  You’re not leaving.” (more four-lettered words…Lime, Ruby, Sand, Work… )

But today… as crappy as it has been mentally and emotionally… today was better than last year.   Last year I was in the fetal position on the floor of my apartment doing the ugly cry after I had written out everything I was thinking and feeling on paper.

It’s been two years.  I wrote this post last year at this time and while I do experience a lot of that from time to time… I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made.

I’m not as sour at people for being sympathetic or trying to be encouraging… I really appreciate it.

I feel more comfortable with talking about it, which I needed.

I’ve been having fewer panic attacks… thank GOD!

And I really feel like I’m healing.

But the two most important things?  I’ve found myself again and I’ve found peace with God.

I don’t know why bad things happen… why there’s evil… why God allows it to exist.  But I do know that God loves me and wants what’s best for me.  And what would be better for me?  To have a perfect/harmless life?  Or to wrestle with God in order to understand and know Him more?  I think I’m better off with Him than I am with this earthly life.

And myself.  I’m so glad to be back.  I’m glad to feel stable again.. to feel like I can freely give out hugs without fear again.. to feel confidence, joy, and beauty in myself again… to be making decisions in prayer and thorough examination and not just fear anymore..  I love it.

Today sucks.  The world sucks.  Sin sucks.  Evil sucks.  November the 7th sucks.

But my God is good and He’s making His face shine down upon me today and I cannot thank or praise Him enough for that and the progress I’ve made.  Hallelujah

My Thoughts On 9/11 – That Have Nothing To Do With Nationalism, Air Planes, or Terrorists.

I remember the day well, as most people do.  I remember the sadness, the fear, and frankly the confusion that I felt.  It’s a hard concept for a 9-year-old to wrap their mind around, but I understood that it was a horrifying tragedy.   Every year on the anniversary of the day I never know how to feel.

I want to jump on the bandwagon and post a status on facebook about today, but I fear that the more “facebook cause” like statuses that get posted, the more this day becomes like the “repost this if you’re against animal cruelty” photos that go around and that does an injustice to this day.  I would tweet something about being proud to be an American or how our nation has pulled together because of this, but let’s be honest, our country today is not what it was 11 years ago.   So then I turn to think about the day…

As the daughter of a pilot, I am reminded of the civilian tragedy side of 9/11.   Families who lost loved ones that were just doing their job or going about their normal lives.  And I think of all the families who’s main provider lost their job due to the airline industry falling apart.

As the daughter/granddaughter of veterans and the sister of an army soldier, I am reminded of the war on terrorism.   I think of the countless soldiers who gave their lives in service and the families who suffered loss, whether it was a life or just time without their loved one.

But this year, a new side of 9/11 sticks out to me that I want you to think about too.   Something else has captured my thoughts.   Last year, I was trying to convince myself it didn’t effect me.  But this year, as someone living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (and acknowledging it), I find myself thinking of those who struggle with PTSD as result of 9/11.

Over 10,000 people are said to have PTSD as a result of 9/11 and that number does not include the soldiers who have fought in the war on terror.  It’s easy to dismiss this, but I want to shed some light on the topic.

Imagine having to relive the worst day of your life over and over in your head.  The thoughts just waiting to be freed any second.  It could be a smell, the tone of someone’s voice, the face of a stranger that remarkably resembles the woman who was standing next to you at the time, the way a branch scrapes across your skin on your morning walk, a certain set of words, or emotions you feel about a completely unrelated event that can set you off.  Suddenly you’re swamped with thoughts. You may be in the middle of the mall, but your mind is back there.  You may be in a meeting at work, and your emotions start running wild.  You could be sitting in the back of a car out with friends, and your body starts sliding into a panic attack.

It’s scary, it’s embarrassing, and it’s just hard.  It’s not something I would wish on anybody, not even my worst enemies.

To think, we’re reminded of the tragedy of 9/11 every now and then, but to those thousands of people 9/11 has become a part of their life.  Those firefighters, witnesses, policemen, and survivors.  They have lived with 9/11 for 11 years.

Beyond the debilitating nature of the disorder, I especially think of the guilt that comes with it.  The “Why did I survive and he didn’t?” guilt.  The “I only witnessed it.  I wasn’t actually in the midst of it.” guilt.  The “My family and friends are tired of me talking about this” guilt.  or the “Why can’t I just get over it?” guilt.  And piling 11 years on top of it… that’s just torture.

I am beyond thankful for the many counselors and therapists who have helped the 9/11 PTSD victims cope with their symptoms.  To be honest, it is debated whether or not PTSD really ever goes away, and I’m sure for a lot of them, being 11 years removed from the event, they can say they no longer struggle with it or that they have come to a place where they find their symptoms quite manageable.  At the same time, there are many who struggle with PTSD who see 11 years as nothing compared to how long they’ve dealt with it.  Even if they have learned to handle the symptoms, keep in mind that memories like that don’t just go away.

So today, as you remember those who have died, those who have lost loved ones, and those who have fought because of the events that took place on September 11th, don’t forget the PTSD victims in your thoughts and prayers as well.

God bless our nation and God help us all.