My Survivor Story Re-blog #MondayBlogs

The Mending Mads Silent Auction is almost over. We reached our goal the very first day! I’m humbled by the response of the authors and vendors who participated. Those who bid on items, thank you so much. Through RAINN, your money will go to help those in need of comfort and healing.

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I touched on a few of the reasons that Mending Mads and raising money for RAINN are important to me. With statistics of sexual assault as they are it seems impossible not to know someone whose life has been touched by it. For me the gravity of stopping sexual violence goes beyond friends, family, and basic compassion for my fellow human being.

I am a survivor of sexual assault.

Consciously, I have very little memory of this time in my life and no solid memory of the actual assaults. Too young to hang on to no more than small impressions left by the train wreck my trauma left behind. My lack of memory is a blessing and a curse. There really is not good way to be left with the aftershocks of being violated. Not quite three years old, I was a very boisterous and precocious child. My father was overseas with the Navy so it was just Mom and I. She attended night school working towards her bachelors in psychology. While she was at school I was left in the care of a woman and her husband, family friends of my parents. For the sake of this post I will be referring to my attacker as The Man.

****TRIGGER WARNING! My story includes details that may be a trigger to some readers. Please continue with caution.*****

 

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The Man and my father met on the base where they were both stationed. His wife was very sweet and he was supposedly a fun guy to be around. Originally it was The Man’s wife who was my babysitter but for reasons I cannot remember The Man ended up taking over the job. Fast forward I don’t know how long to the night I came out of my bedroom long after I should have been asleep. I informed my mother that it hurt. She asked me, “What hurts?”

I pointed down the front of my diaper and said, “Where The Man put his fingers.” Immediately after I became hysterical because I wasn’t supposed to tell. “The Man said he’d make you go away and I’d never see you again!” I wailed. The Man had ensured my silence by threatening my mother’s presence in my life. I always was a mama’s girl but as my father was currently gone she was all I had. The Man told a child he’s leave her completely alone in the world if she told on him. This small act on his part impacted me so greatly for the rest of my life it was nearly crippling. I suffered from separation anxiety until I was a teenager. Sleepovers with friends, trips, just going to school terrified me; my family might be gone when I get back.

My mother blamed herself and to this day thinks she should have seen some sign The Man would hurt me. She remembers the weird irritation on my genitals that she chalked up to a recurrent diaper rash. She remembers washing my blanket and wondering what I’d spilled on it, in retrospect she knows it was The Man’s semen. Going to school for psychology, specifically to help abused children, while her own is being assaulted under her roof. To say Mom needed therapy as much as I did is an understatement. I’ve never blamed her and I hope one day she’ll stop blaming herself as well.

The truth is Mom is my hero. The Man’s commanding officer tried to sweep it all under the rug. I was just a kid, probably lying. Even though mom had a report from the pediatric ER physician stating it was obvious to him I had been sexually abused, the CO refused to do anything. Mom wouldn’t be told to go away. She threatened to go to the newspapers. With her permission they would print my name, The Man’s name, the name of the Navy base and every person she’d come into contact with since I told her my terrible secret. That’s how mom met the base commander. He apologized and shipped the CO to one of the worse bases you can end up at. The Man was arrested and tried in military court. He spent two years in prison. The shackles of his abuse will stay with me until I die, two years seems too easy. PTSD, anxiety, depression, mistrust, fear, nightmares; the list goes one!

You don’t get to get over sexual assault. It lives with you forever. Without the love and support I’ve received I wouldn’t be a functioning adult. I was told in junior high not to share my story because it makes people uncomfortable and then they won’t want to be around me.

It makes you uncomfortable? Well, it made me uncomfortable too. You won’t want to be my friend? Too bad for you. I will not be silenced and made to feel ashamed. I will speak out. I will fight for myself and others until the day comes when the offenders are too uncomfortable to commit sexual assault. I will make a difference. The Mending Mads Silent Auction is one way I am raising awareness, educating the public, and helping to fund an organization dedicated to getting other survivors the help they deserve.

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The FREEdom of Art #MondayBlogs

It all started with this status on Elizabeth York’s Facebook page.

Wow! I am completely speechless. I had seen one of the books purchased were returned and then I noticed more… Didn’t think anything of it until I got a email. I don’t even know how to reply.

Hang on to your shorts, people. The email is a doozy.

“Ms. York, I wanted to tell you that your books are above par and you should be proud. I was able to read them all, but sadly I returned them all because they range from $0.99 to $2.99 and that is just too much for me to spend on a ebook. Can you please make all your books in the future free so that I do not have to return it?”

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Um, okay. I had to read it a few times to really let it sink in that she was admitting to stealing from both Amazon and the author. As you can imagine this post went crazy and was shared by authors, readers and bloggers. It’s almost too crazy. Could there really be people like this out there? Baffles the mind.

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But wait, there’s more.

Another post from Elizabeth shows up.

Yesterday I had to walk away from Facebook. I had to take a deep breath, count to ten, and then turn it off. You all rallied behind the injustice and some even told me of the same message, but I had to shake it off my own way.

I walked a line of whether or not to post what she had sent me because I have been yelled at previously for screenshotting people, but at the same time I felt what she had said and done was going to happen again and again. Sadly, she admitted it has.

I blocked her, but had a feeling she wasn’t gone when a friend request hit with a similar name, and then I got the following message. Due to the fact that Amazon is “investigating” the incident I will not disclose her name, but because she is someone’s beta I won’t hide the profile picture.

I seriously doubt this person will ever learn a lesson the easy way, or come down off her high horse, but I am not going to let her drag me down anymore.

 Here are screen shots of the follow up message from the “give me free books” emailer. Foul language warning. 

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Cover art, editing, interior formatting for ebook, interior formatting for print,  copyright, and marketing are services I pay for every time I publish a book. It ain’t cheap. To break even on expenses I have to sell close to 500 copies The lower the price of the ebook, the higher the number of books I need to sell. This is to BREAK EVEN.

This doesn’t factor in the time I spent working on it which is several hours EVERY day. Sometimes I miss meals, I lose sleep, I can’t enjoy much leisure time, and my family doesn’t get my full attention. I can’t get this time back no matter how many copies I sell.

Putting out a polished product, the best I can deliver to readers, is the goal so I am happy to pay it in money and time. It’s not really a hardship because I enjoy my readers. They give me the greatest reward with their love of my characters and the world I am building. I juggle being a mom, wife, and author but I cannot imagine doing anything else.

Would you go to the theater and not pay? Do you walk up to the redbox kiosk and yell at it to spit out a DVD without putting any cash in? No. Because services are paid for. Entertainment is a service and it deserves to be paid for so you can enjoy it. I pay the same way everyone else does for my own escape from reality.

To close, I’d like to share this picture someone posted to Elizabeth. I feel like it perfectly sums up the situation at hand.

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Family of the Heart #MondayBlogs

 

This post is going to be a lot more personal. I hate when people beat around the bush so I’ll just spit it out and go from there. My father in the biological is a donor number but the man in the picture below is my Daddy, and he loved me more than anything else in this world. 170545_1751310897555_526108_o

My parents were married in the seventies and tried to have kids for several years. When nothing happened they made an appointment with a specialist for fertility testing. The results came back that both of them were contributing to the problem. Mom might be able to become pregnant, but it would be a hard road. Daddy was told he couldn’t. They were devastated. Daddy told Mom on the way home after they received the news that he would let her go so she could get married and have a chance to be a mom with someone else. Mom didn’t marry him to have kids, she married him because she loved him. Whatever happened in the future with children, they would face it together.

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They came within minutes of adopting a baby girl. Mom and Dad waited at the hospital, fully expecting to meet their baby. As sometimes happens, the birth mother changed her mind and decided to keep her daughter.

I don’t know how they got onto the idea of artificial insemination, but I am glad they did. A donor would be chosen with similar physical features to my dad. His sperm would be used along with a lot of fertility medications for mom. Even still, it was over a year before they finally had a positive pregnancy test.

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Daddy was asked if would be happy being a father to another man’s child. His response is one that fills my mom with pride to this day.

“Any post pubescent male can be a father. I am going to be a daddy.”

Here are the things I know about my donor.

  1. My donor’s sperm was used to help conceive at least three siblings. I was the last.
  2. He was a medical student with light skin and light hair.
  3. A handsome monetary reward was given to him in exchange for his contribution.

Here are the things I know about my daddy.

  1. He attended every award ceremony, sporting game I cheered or danced at, recitals, competitions, tryouts, and parades. Fought for me when I was unable to stand up for myself and helped me learn to fight my own battles. Cried when I cried. Laughed when I laughed. Suffered through the girl drama and teen angst with me by being a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. Made every Christmas, birthday, vacation, and special occasion memorable.
  2. What more could I possibly need?

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Daddy got to walk me down the aisle when I married Mr. B. We lived with him for the first year of our marriage because he had a big house and we were very poor newly weds. When Mr. B was away at boot camp it was Daddy who told me to ensure I wrote him a letter every day, and I did. It was what kept Mr. B going. Daddy wrote him letters too. He was proud of the man I married and got to have experience what having a son would’ve been like. When I called to tell Daddy I was pregnant he cried and laughed at the same time. He shouted, “I’m gonna be a grandpa!”

Sadly, his health declined and he passed away five months before his grandson was born.

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All over the world people are being raised outside of what biology calls family. Why should science get to tell me who my heart can call family? Unless we’re talking about genetic code, then science doesn’t get a say. My father is the man who cheered me on and loved me every day from birth until his death. His mother, sisters, nieces and nephews, etc are my family. There is family of the blood and family of the heart.

 

 

Science sided brain has the dumb. #mondayblogs

Have you seen any of the millions of YouTube videos where they mess with molten or red hot materials?  You can watch molten copper poured into a coconut, molten aluminium dumped in a swimming pool, molten glass/tar/lava onto an iPhone. Destroying iPhones looks like a popular one. There is also a whole channel dedicated to a red hot nickel ball. Viewers send in whatever they want the host to put the RHNB on. I watched floral foam, styrofoam, and gak (remember that stuff?). As I am watching I am reminded of a personal defect; I touch things I know I shouldn’t.

Four year old me laid a hand on the hot stove burner because Mom said it’s hot, don’t touch. So I touched it.

At eight I grabbed the end of metal sparkler after it burned out. Still hot, quite painful. Don’t recommend it.

On the lake when I was fifteen I was done in by a fishing hook in the finger. I’d like to say it was an accident because I grabbed the fish wrong but no. There wasn’t even a fish. Found the hook, touched the sharp part.

There is a voice in my head and it is science/common sense dumb. Hot stuff can’t really be that hot if it isn’t on fire, right? Facepalm with me, dear readers. Since I know I cannot be trusted and there isn’t enough supervision in the world to save me, I avoid certain things. Pretty much any scenario I think could devolve into an episode of World’s Dumbest starring yours truly is off the books for me.

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Leaving the science to Neil. 

My children think I am nuts when I tell them not to grab certain things.

“We know. We’re not gonna touch it. Seriously, who would?”

Me. I would.

Now, if you will excuse me I think it is time I watched this video again. It’s for preschoolers, because they have it together better than the science sided part of my brain.

Reality? What reality? #mondayblogs

For this week’s edition of #mondayblogs, let’s examine my full immersion into the fictional world. Maybe you can relate.

I have a small issue with reality. Events and characters from fiction are real to me. Not in the sense I need therapy to help me differentiate flesh and blood people from actors playing roles/CGI/’people’ in books. My problem is I take the experiences to heart. This is a 50/50 deal because the emotional payoff can be GLORIOUS or it can turn me into a shuddering mess of snot and tears.

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Being selective and spoiler friendly minimizes the risk of a nervous breakdown. The Fault in out Stars is probably a great book. I will never read it because I need to be able to function as a human being afterwards. Minimal exaggeration here. I can’t cry it out and move one. No, the trauma will bury itself in my soul and cause be to burst into tears at random times until the day I die. A few times I have managed to escape by refusing to believe the fake reality. For example, I refuse to believe any Alien movie after James Cameron’s film exist. So, two movies and then the rest are just a non canon fever dream. Why? Because Hicks and Newt. You want to tell me I’m wrong because there is just no way Ripley could have gone on to live a happy life with Hicks and Newt? Prove it.

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Bioware is a company known for producing the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises. They are also synonymous with ripping your heart out of your chest and laughing while you bleed out on the ground. The stories of Bioware heartbreak are many. For some, it helps us to cope by sharing our pain with others who understand. Beware of spoilers in the video below.

With every choice, even in previous games, effecting future events you gamble with your chances of a happy ending. I don’t know anyone who played through one time and got it all ‘right’. Maybe you don’t care about that kind of thing but for me it is personally vital to my sanity. Yes, I’m striving for the fluffy bunny and magical unicorns of joy conclusion. If you think it makes me a loser, you can bite my magical unicorn ass.

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