Abolish Direct Provision

Introducing cosmetic changes to the Direct Provision system will not be tolerated by the people in DP nor by their supporters. The whole system stinks and is held together by corruption as the pockets of lots of catering companies and building owners are lined every year. I am hazarding a guess that not one centre owner has ever spent a week living in a room in their own room under the conditions that the people living in DP have to suffer. Prisoners get early parole for good behaviour from prison and DP is a prison so I think the residents should be freed for their exemplary good behaviour. Children should not be residing in these prisons which the government calls “HOME” 

 

              Child of female prisoner

17. (1) A child, of less than twelve months of age, of a female prisoner, may be admitted to a prison and remain with the mother to facilitate breastfeeding until the child has reached twelve months of age.

(2) In the case of a prisoner who gives birth to a child during the term of her imprisonment, the child may be admitted to a prison and remain with the mother in prison, until the child has reached twelve months of age.[220]

I am not saying, separate families. What I am saying is abolish DP and bulldoze down every building so that they can never again be used in such a fashion for financial gain by so few from the suffering and misery of so many

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Teenage Suicide

Suicide at 13 was no joke. But then again suicide at any age isn’t a joking matter and when I hear someone say ” I want to die”  my antenna goes up.  Nobody should be in that lonely place and position that they feel suicide is a better option than living.  Living a fulfilled should be the only option for us all but sadly the reality of life is that suicide exists and while we battle against it the number of victims soar.  Every town in Ireland has been rattled and plagued by the icy chill of suicide as young and old choose its eery call.

People whom to the outside world have it all, but what exactly is having it all?   Is having it all just about having what everyone else wants or what they think makes happiness and contentment.  Material goods don’t bring instant happiness, love and understanding to a person life when all they want is to be listen to, understood and to have their questions about what is a puzzle to them explained.  But families now never cease to amaze me when explanations are not shared with younger members because its presumed there is no need because they won’t understand or the issues won’t have any effect on them.  Untold damage can be done to our younger generations by leaving them out of the loop of family communication and presuming too much.

Never presume anything with children even when they become a teenager.  By the time they are teenagers all this lack of information about what should be their family life makes them feel alien from their own family and shoves them into a spiralling downward trend.  Because communication is not strong between them and their parents this affects how they communicate in the outside world.  The world where they struggle to find a place to identify with others.  But then again what is it they have in common with their peers when they can’t identify their own struggles.

Reaching 13 and struggling with the normal teenage anxieties plus a few other things thrown into the pot made me feel unable to cope.  Coping wasn’t in my dictionary as life was a process of getting up, attending school while trying to stay out of trouble.  But it seemed that no matter what I did trouble found me and it became my middle name.  Trouble, with a capital T it seemed followed me around no matter how hard I tried to please.  By trying to please didn’t work because I was compared to my siblings by teachers and my parents. But what wasn’t recognised back then is that each of us is unique and do everything to the best of our ability.  At times I overheard conversations about me and it wasn’t exactly confidence building to hear your parents say to each other they didn’t know what to do with you.

Entering secondary school should have been exciting but it was a minefield as teachers sang the great academic achievements of your sister in 6th year not realising that you just wanted the earth to swallow you up as yet again you failed tests.  All this combined with parents friends reporting your every move outside of the home and a home where nothing was explained about a parent’s mental illness.  An illness which shrouded the home like and invisible mist but which was clear enough for you to know this wasn’t normal.  What was the point of continuing to struggle under this weight when you weren’t even allowed to see the one boy who you began to see just because the parents considered him too old? Being 13 really was too hard and one evening I decided to show them all that the world would be a better place without me because I just wasn’t really needed, wanted or loved and had no purpose in the great role of life.  My mentally ill parent had a  stash of uppers, downer and balancers which I took to ease myself out of this shocking place, this place that at 13 I considered to be the loneliest place anyone could be.

Oh gosh! I was found slumped over my books as I had tried to continue studying and very fast everything was put in place for me to be quietly taken to Wexford general hospital in my parent’s car. Hush Hush we mustn’t let the neighbours know what she’s done now.  Funny enough years later at an uncle’s, funeral I discovered that my extended family hadn’t even been privy to the information of my overdose.  What a strange world we live in where suicide is not talked about because of the shame, stigma and embarrassment it carries with it  Let’s break the stigma of suicide and remember to tell everyone “it’s ok not to be ok”

Looking back now I see communication or lack of communication has a lot to answer for as has the way we communicate.  Communication on a superficial level is fine socially at events but among family members, it’s not good enough. Family members should know each other well enough to pick up when someone is contaplating suicide or is feeling so isolatated and low that suicide might become a better option for them than life.

 

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My Freedom Butterfly

“You see, butterflies are things of beauty and fly without being trapped.” – Bernie

“He wanted me to get a tattoo. I got one and he got angry because it wasn’t big enough. I found out that there was another woman who had a tattoo and he wanted me to be like her. There was a problem, she was petite and like a doll. Her style was very different from mine. I love my casual wear but he tried so hard to direct me towards heels and jeans with glitter and slinky tops. I began to hate going out, because what I wore became an issue and unknown to me, I was competing with a doll. The abuse was verbal, emotional and physical. I was told I was big, and the punches came when he wasn’t pleased with how I looked. Here I was in my 40’s getting another tattoo. He was adamant that this one had to be big. For me, it is big because the pain was bad. But he still wasn’t happy because it couldn’t be seen but I wanted it to be discreet.

I chose this butterfly, which I now call my freedom butterfly. You see, butterflies are things of beauty and fly without being trapped.
Once I reported all the abuse and my rape, I flew and regained my beauty by regaining my confidence which he had scraped away every time he abused me.

The abuse came in many forms and at unexpected times. My phone was checked when he thought I was asleep or I was in the shower. He shouted at me in public but strangely enough, people just walked by. I was called names and accused of not giving him money, even though I was paying all the bills and I gave him what I had. He threatened to cut me up and put me in the boot of my car, all because he wanted chipper food and I had no money to buy it! He urinated on me when I was trying to rest on my day off and then beat me for making the bed wet. Plates of dinner made artwork on the walls and to check on where I was he would ask me questions about something at home. A cream became his favourite item to question me about so I bought a second tube and carried it about with me always ready and gaining more freedom. He wanted control of me but didn’t want me, the person. He just wanted what he could gain from marrying me. I was a puppet in his agenda, an agenda which he had already got before even meeting me. Thankfully, I have turned my life around after getting help from Women’s Aid and the Rape crisis centre.”

 

Unconditional Love

The wound is open, gaping like a door open for all the world to see.  But the world doesn’t see because I smile.  I smile to hide the emptiness that fills that hole, the void left a crater on the ground.  But the ground feels no loss because it’s tough and solid. My heart sliced in five, one piece for each child. Four now adults while one stays forever a child playing in God’s garden.  The heart soft as putty in the window fitters hand flutters when the ears hear a child call, Mammy. Even after all these years and knowing their adult’s,  tears threaten to tumble because of a secret longing which lies deeply hidden in public.

A longing so strong that it’s stronger than any tsunami to hit this earth. A longing to feel arms around me, not just any arms but their arms.  The arms which stretched for me from when they were small with trusting eyes. Arms which wrapped around me even as we all slept.  The hands which mimed mine in actions throughout the day in the kitchen or garden, cleaning, baking, planting or reaping.

The heart pulses life through this weary body which just occupies space,  space which is filled with memories.  Memories which act as plasters but don’t hold the gaping hole together because it’s someone’s birthday  or Christmas and emotions threaten to send tears flowing.  Memories of life with them,  Them who are loved so much, loved unconditionally. Loved with each and every beat of this divided heart and breath I take.

They say time will heal things but time won’t heal this wound.

 

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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