My Name Isn’t On A Dove 

Amazing really.  I’m not exaggerating because it’s totally amazing that my name isn’t on one of the doves which hung from the ceiling at Wood Quay Venue today.

As I walked into the room at first glance I thought that Christmas decorations  had been put up.  But on closer inspection from my seat, I realised that they were beautiful peaceful white doves. Each dove symbolising a life lost through violence .  On some of the dove’s children’s names joined their  Mammy’s and their story told on the other side. Stories of a sad reality which lies hidden in communities in Ireland but which Women’s Aid is bringing  to the forefront of our society. A society which has to stop victim blaming and examine the real traits of the abuser who can be a street angel and a house devil.

Grooming  sets the scene as a false sense of security sets in.  This false security prevails  until the   moment the victim sees the abuser for what and who  they are and not what and who  they claim to be.  A trigger point has to be reached by the victim to see the abuser as an abuser and not a lover or friend. This point can’t be forced and  sometimes families and friends have abandoned her because they don’t understand the steps needed to walk away.  Once at this trigger point,  major decisions can be made with the guidance of Women’s Aid.  The work to be completed before walking out is tough I won’t tell you lies.  To be honest for a few weeks parallel lives are lived as documents are gathered, money saved, clothes and bedding bought and a new home found.  While planning nothing can change in the home until the very last moment or else the abuser will discover the plan of abandonment and then life gets very dangerous.  This is I’m guessing when most women are killed.  And today their names hung on beautiful white doves today reminding us that they existed as very important cherished loved ones.

My name could have been on a white dove today because he threatened to chop me up and put me in the boot of my car because I didn’t  have money to buy chicken and chips.              After this,  I made one massive mistake and that was to refuse a barring order and ask for a safety order instead.   Silly, silly  Mrs Fixit was going to fix her abuser.  ha ha,  this can’t be done.  So get out and make a new life before becoming a name on a white dove .

 

 

 

 

SATU: My Entry into It : Sexual Assault Trauma Unit

SATU: initials for words which if I heard before in my life I wouldn’t  have paid much heed to because they weren’t relevant to my life or world.   A safe middle-class world which was to be rocked by abuse and rape .   But now every time I hear them uttered my mind whirls back to what they stand for . The Sexual Assualt Assualt Treatment Unit which is based in the Rotunda Hospital  Parnell Sq, Rotunda, Dublin 1.  I didn’t even know where this maternity hospital was,  never mind where  SATU  was inside  the massive building.  Parnell  square was vaguely familiar because of trips to Dublin over the years at Christmas.   

You see I was raped in my home a place where we all feel safe and protected.  A place where things like abuse and rape should have no room or space to breath.  But my home was full of rooms of abuse over a short but intensive period of time and the grand finale was rape.

I never dreamed that in my 40’s I would become a victim of anything so horrific , Yes in my mind I could become a victim of rape or assault outside the home as I walked home from work or to work .   The route I took was lonely at times from the shopping centre through a seafront park, past a hotel garden before I took a path back onto the road again.  But I was so cocooned in my knowledge of this route I believed I was safe there and yes I was safe there but I wasn’t safe in my home.  It should have been our home but after the first time, he hit me I began to call it my home and at that moment I should have in all reality reported the abuse.

The gossip police and all the old traditions of a close-knit local community forced me to keep my mouth shut rather than bring  the abuse, verbal, physical, mental, emotional  and digital out in the open. Fear and shame were my companions as I lived my life under his reign but I began to learn little ways to evade him.  Being timed taught me to add time to work shifts. Being questioned about my whereabouts taught me to move fast so I could fit in appointments with the women’s aid outreach worker.  Having my phone checked when he thought I was asleep taught me to delete every call and text before entering the house. Being beaten taught me to dress with care to hide the bruises from the world. Having food thrown at me after I cooked taught me that no matter how much I tried to please him I couldn’t.  Being followed taught me to walk fast and learn new routes to evade him.  Being alone in the lonely world of abuse taught me to reach out now after I have come out the other side to help others.

Now you’d imagine from all these lessons that I could have learned the major lesson. The major lesson is to walk out before your carried out. But NO I was going to be Mrs fix everything, Mrs sort it all out and save the marriage.  Despite being offered a barring order from the courts i refused it and settled for a safety order. The safety order  was my idea  of a band-aid plaster which would heal the gaping hole in our marriage. A marriage which had two sides depending on who was talking  to who.  A marriage of two agendas but one party  had a dark idea  while the other was full of ideas of a long happy marriage.

SATU was the rock my marriage ended on but it wasn’t the trigger point on which I decided to report the abuse.  Before getting to the point of rape my trigger point was earlier. The trigger point is a very important step in the process of decision making when being abused.  It’s not just a case of getting up and walking out.

The Gardai were wonderful when I reported my rape. Despite being a young guy he didn’t bat an eyelid and never made me feel ashamed or dirty all through giving my statement.  By the time this was done I was informed that my sister had arrived and she took me to eat before we were driven to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in the Rotunda hospital. This was where I stepped deeper into the world which was the flip side of my previous existence. An existence which had seen me at 19 go to my husband house from my father’s house and live a normal quiet life. But now I question what is normal in this world.

Forms were filled with the help of the outreach worker from the Dublin Rape Cris Center and the nurse.  I was introduced to the Doctor who was to examine me and  take samples for evidence. The poor guy was so nice apologising for the invasion  every step of the way. Going through this ordeal was like being raped again no matter how nice everyone was. And  because I had washed there wasn’t sufficient evidence to bring the case to court. That’s another lesson I learned to share with everyone ” Do Not Wash If You Have Been Raped”.

I moved with the help of a social worker who was assigned to me but bureaucracy   and red tape meant that her wonderful help backfired on me.  And I had to start filling out every form she had so helpfully filled for me  because they were not accepted even though I had signed them.  This hurdle  was  overcome,  and I regained my life by attending the Rape Cris Center in Dublin for counselling. Every time I travelled to Dublin I went from Leeson St to  Grafton St and bought myself a small present. Each present represents my recovery. I still have them today not to remember my rape but to remember my walk forward on the path of life.

My life and what I knew as ME changed dramatically. From being able to confidently be in crowds I couldn’t cope with loud noises or people standing in my personal zone. Approaching me from behind became a big no no and if a hug became too intense and long panic can still come visit me but I have learned to control it.  When friends startle me by surprise or out of fun I had to retrain myself to see the funny side and overrule the shock, anger and fear with laughter.

Rape is not a dirty word and the only person who should be ashamed of rape is the rapist. Nobody asks to be raped. Clothes, drink or talk do not cause rape. The rapist causes rape. The night I was raped I sleeping . I didn’t ask to be raped and end up experiencing the path of a rape victim, but I have had that experience and I have chosen to use my experience to help others by speaking about it.

The biggest lessons  I have learned is that forgiveness is the key to my future.  Forgiveness closed one door for me and opened another  door while enabling    me to live my life with no bitterness.   Another lesson is that taking steps of faith works because they are answered by our believing.

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TRADITIONS 

​Tradition is the platform we stand on and should be something we are extremely proud of no matter where we live or where we come from.

Our lives are impacted by many  different  traditions.   First we have traditions  passed down from generation to generation  in our families, then our community has its own  traditions  .

We as people are shaped  by traditions we come  into contact with and carry  them with us throughout our lives into our new communities and relationships.
If we are lax about holding on to our traditions  they will be lost like baggage  left behind on a train.

  In losing  our traditions  we loose a piece of ourselves, a rich part of ourselves.   

Never be prepared  to drop traditional

ways, ideals or ideas just to fit into society.  Society does not need clones,  it needs strong people  who stand on a strong foundation of unique tradition.  
Unique  traditions are one’s passed down  through  families and these combined with community one’s create social  values

Mental Illness Through A Childs Eyes

Our children’s mental wellbeing needs to be looked after before they suffer from mental illness not after.
Also, the lack of understanding and knowledge of mental illness in a family member can cause massive problems for a child when nothing is explained to them. This is compounded by the disappearances and reappearances of the parent throughout their childhood.
Just imagine for one moment your a child and a happy parent sees you off to school but by 2pm the door of your home is opened by an aunt. You are told that your parent is in the hospital.
Everything goes through your mind: Was I so bold. Is it because I didn’t eat all the dinner? Yes, its because I’m bold.
If mental illness is not explained to children they play the blame game and end up blaming themselves for the disappearances.
There is no point in telling a child that a parent suffers from their nerves To this day I see a picture in my head of a parent carrying a bag full of nerves.
Give children credit where its due and explain this illness to them so that their world will be more stable and not too confusing. God knows children understand a lot more than we realise.
Also never blame a child for your suffering with mental illness. Their words and actions do not cause mental illness but if you blame them they will grow up with a very battered outlook of themselves.
Never say to a child that your statement will cause me to have a breakdown and I will end up in hospital. By saying things like this you’re removing a child’s confidence to speak to you freely. The child will find that silence is a safer option and dwell in their own world. By stopping free conversations with your child in the long run you are losing out on a great relationship with the growing child. This important time is lost just because as parents we thought we knew best and never explained Mental Illness and its impact on family life.
Relationships among family members are changed and the parent who was meant to be the carer and mentor becomes a stranger.
The child will seek emotional support and love elsewhere.
The child bonds with whoever they feel close to during their confused childhood and the parent who suffers from mental illness has lost a treasured relationship.
So for our children lets be open about mental illness and remove all the taboo and mystery. Don’t let a child carry unnecessary baggage around in life, just talk and communicate effectively
What qualifies me to say this is that I was that child

 

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Suicide Is Not Painless

 

Suicide crosses all barriers and cultures. It doesn’t stop to ask are you black, white, orange or purple.  Nor does it ask are you male, female, fat or thin. rich or poor.  Suicide has no respect for the size of your home or whether you own it or rent it.  It doesn’t give a monkies if you have two or fifty-two friends, it doesn’t care if your single, married, gay or swing both ways.

The only thing suicide cares about is having a person commit that final act.  The act of suicide is a lonely destroying act and for some, its planned over time, while for others it’s a spontaneous action.   A spur of the moment decision to end all the pain.

Believing the world will be a better place for everyone once they are gone suicide is the only option when all doors of communication are closed.  Doors of communication get slammed in everyone’s face in this hectic rat race of life.  Yes ! people say ” I hear you ” but they are not actually listening and are missing the total anguish in the voice of the talker.   The talker gets tired, worn out from trying to find solutions to a situation which is beyond their control, a situation which escalates and accelerates like an express freight train.

Suicide lingers in the shadows, lurking without a care.  Hiding the glow of every new day, stealing the warmth of life.  Yet for the planners, it looks cozy, like a rocking chair drawn up to the fire on a wet winters day.  For the spontaneous suicider, it wraps its layers around them like a thick fleece blanket as they slip deeper into the idea while completing the act of suicide.

Suicide is not painless and it’s definitely not blameless,  Everyone is hurt. The people left behind have so many unanswered questions and guilt trips to travel on.  If a person survives suicide they are still full to the brim with pain and have to face everyone who they felt were not there.

Suicide is and always will be part of society as long as people are not prepared to listen and  we humans keep saying that we are ok .   It is ok not to be ok and its ok to ask for help.   Talk to save a life.  Listen to save a life because you don’t know who suicide is looking at from the corners of life

What an amazing inspiring day in Dublin.
First, we attended a seminar on Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage, Child Marriage and Reproductive Abuse and Launch Of Loving Love and Care For People Worldwide Annual Report 2014/2014 . This was hosted by Ini Usanga the founder of LCP in the morning.
In the afternoon it was over to Dublin Central Mission where we attended a public meeting on ‘Islamophobia and Racism Denial’ with Alana Lentin an Australian based political sociologist and anti-racism activist.

Alana Lentin is an associate professor in Cultural and Social Analysis at the University of West Sydney and works on race, racism and anti-racism. She has done extensive research into the contemporary politics of migration and collective action for migrants’ rights and the politics of multiculturalism. Among her books: Racism and Antiracism in Europe, Race and State, Racism: Beginners Guide, The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age (with Gavan Titley). Her current book project is Racism and Antiracism in the Digital Media Era (with Gavan Titley).
This second event was organised by our friends at Anti-Racism Network Ireland.
Alana gave an informative and inspiring lecture after which questions were taken from the floor. All the questions and answers were great.

Tired and honoured to have been invited to both events Speaking From Experience,

Memories

She stood viewing the harbour as if the area was hers.  It might not be her’s but the memories which came bombarding through her mind are her’s.  Memories from other harbours and seaside areas that brought her right back to childhood.

A childhood with never ending hot summer days which only ended after prayers were recited.  Joe’s Cafe with its Icecream Sundies and sprawling long walk up the hill towards it.   Swimming in the evening when the beaches were nearly empty and void of all holiday makers.  Climbing rock’s …………………….OH how the memories come so wonderful.

 

Read more in my book which will be coming out