The Scars Are Real… and I. Will. Never. Forgive…

TRIGGER WARNING : THIS POST DISCUSS SEVERAL TYPES OF ABUSE.

Abuse of any kind stays with you for a very long time. Even the kind of abuse that is committed by one of the people who is supposed to love and protect you beyond anything else. You can remember some of it. You can remember the first day that it actually happened. Every touch, every smell, every taste. Then the hand patting the top of your head like you were a freaking dog and telling you that this was our little secret and we mustn’t tell anyone, and especially not mummy because she will only get hurt and I will make her cry.

No way on this earth was I going to do that to my simply amazing and wonderful mum because she did not deserve to be hurt because I was being naughty. This went on for years until I became fourteen and all of a sudden it stopped. I was never sure why, but I was so relieved. But I realise why now. I was too old for you wasn’t I? Too old and too past it in your eyes. I didn’t offer the same set of thrills for you anymore. I wasn’t “fresh meat”.

My wonderful mother died when I was 16 years old after a long battle against breast cancer. I spent a couple of years after my mum died drinking and taking every drug I could swallow. I applied for my nurse training. I got accepted but my head kept on telling me that once they knew what I was – something dirty, something tainted that they would rescind my offer and send me on my way. One morning I woke up and realised that I had to get clean otherwise I would never be anything in life. So I went cold turkey and sweated it out for that was the only option open to me. It was hell but I did it.

I had a job and was doing it to kill time until I started my nurse training. It was only waitressing but it was a job and it kept a roof over my head. Being kicked out at 16 makes you grow up pretty damn fast, it really does!

I met my ex husband on a night out with some friends from work. He was 11 years older than me and incredibly charming. By the end of the night he had managed to isolate me from my friends and manoeuvre me into a corner all by myself. I guess that should have been the first red flag that something was not at all right in this whole situation

He basically, for the first six months of our relationship, treated me like a princess. He put me on a pedestal and gave me everything that I wanted. Within a week of us meeting, he had persuaded me to give up both my job and my apartment, getting me to move in with him. He was effectively isolating me and I never saw it happening. I had to depend on him for food, shelter, money – everything. He had me totally under his control. He started to apply pressure on me about my friends. Why did I need them he would ask me. Why did I need them when he was everything that I could possibly need? I began to talk to my friends less and less and before too much longer, I had none. He had me totally isolated.

This was when the gaslighting started. He was slowly engineering sets of circumstances that would make me doubt my own sanity. I began to think that they were all my fault and that I was starting to lose it. He would make a point of telling me that I would never cope on my own and that I needed him. That I needed him to survive. I believed him so totally. One of his favourite tricks would be taking my door keys off the key hook and putting them in bizarre places like the bathroom, next to the toilet, or in the kitchen cupboards. I believed him so completely. I had done that. He would never do something like that. Maybe he was right. I was crazy and I would never cope in the world without him. I needed him to survive. Before too long I was utterly convinced I couldn’t function unless he was by my side.

The verbal abuse was so subtle at first. He would criticise me for wearing too much make up when we went out. My clothes were too slutty, my heels were too high. Soon I was going out in baggy jeans and long sleeved jumpers and trainers and no make up. The plainer I looked, the happier he was with me.

The closer that I got to starting my nurse training, his attitude and his behaviour started to change. It was so subtle that I never even noticed it. There were lots of snidey remarks about doctors and nurses and the things that they “got up to behind the scenes”. He constantly accused me of having affairs with doctors and also of having bisexual affairs with women as I had “dirty filthy queers” as friends and they rubbed off on me. (Yes, I had some properly amazing friends in the LGBT+ community and they kept me sane) but I never once had an affair with anyone.

The first physical blow came when I had been on my first ward placement about six weeks. I came home from my shift and he was hurling abuse at me and screaming I was a whore and I should admit my affairs. I burst into tears. How could I admit to what I had not done? The pressure became more intense, until he struck me with the back of his hand right in the mouth and knocked me flying back onto the bed. That was the first of many times that he raped me.

From then on in, the verbal abuse was a daily occurrence and the physical abuse occurred at least three or four and sometimes more times a week. The sexual violence was slightly less because a lot of the time I was simply too scared to say no to him. A no meant a beating and being forced.

I simply could not understand why this was happening to me. I had never done anything to deserve this treatment and I just had no idea why it was happening. I tried to think why. Was it truly me? Had I really done something so very wrong to deserve all of this? Many nights I lay awake whilst he was in a drunken stupor and I cried for the girl that I had lost.

When he proposed I accepted without even thinking. I thought that agreeing to marry him would calm him down and convince him that I was somebody that he could trust. Sadly not. The abuse picked up and became worse. It was a daily thing now.

Even having two beautiful babies did not convince him of my loyalty. Several more years went by and slowly the abuse got worse and worse. Many times I have been asked why on earth I didn’t just leave him. Nobody who has not been through this kind of abuse can ever really understand the answer to this question. I could not find the courage to leave because I was so utterly crushed and dragged down by his abuse that I believed every single word that he said. I was stupid, dumb, a moron. A fat, ugly bitch who would never ever cope without him to guide her.

Then one day came the straw that broke the camel’s back. He threatened the lives of the boys. He threatened them both with a ten inch long machete. That was enough. I waited until he was passed out blind drunk in the early hours and grabbed my bag and the boy’s coats and we ran. We left every single thing that was owned behind us, fleeing in only the clothes we stood up in. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared. I kept on thinking that he would find us and stop us. It was when the train was about 40 minutes out of the station that the “where the fuck are you?” phone calls started.

I fled to the house of a very good friend of mine. She protected me, made sure that I got the right help and was always there. In the end, the police took my mobile because my idiot ex actually made death threats and left them on my answerphone. Those messages were evidence in my court case.

Eventually I decided that I needed to return home. To make sure that my boys were safe and happy. I decided to come back to Scotland. I was raised upon the largest of the Shetland Isles until I was 8 years old. My ‘father’ one day decided that he was going to take us back to where he was born, just outside of Manchester in England. I missed my homeland so very much that I could not have truly considered settling anywhere else and knew that it would be the safest place for the three of us to begin to heal.

Luckily for me, I had a friend in Aberdeen. He was one of my friends from Shetland and he now lived on the mainland. I contacted him to let him know I needed his help to flee and he gave it willingly. He drove down to where I was staying, helped to pack up the meagre possessions that we had into a van and he drove us back to Scotland. He let us stay at his place until I was able to find the house that I live in now.

My life is safer now. The kids are no longer at risk from him and that is all that I care about. They have good lives which is all that matters.

I carry a great deal of scars both physical and mental from my 25 years of abuse. The mental illnesses illnesses that I have to live with as a result of the abuse are never going to go away. That I have accepted now. But I fight hard to keep my kids from seeing any more tears or pain from me. They have seen enough. They don’t deserve to see more.

I’m moving slowly through my life and I’m doing the very best that I can. I can think of two people I would stick my middle finger up to. My ‘father’ and my ex. They both told me that I was useless, fat, ugly, pathetic and would never cope without them. I have coped. I have escaped and we are moving on with our lives. My story is not over yet. ;

I guess that’s why I’m trying to write this piece. Fuck the piece of shit monster who abuses you. You can get out. When you feel the time is right for you, you can work. You can fly free.

But one thing I will say is this. I. Will. NEVER. EVER. Forgive. No fucking way. I’ve had therapists a plenty tell me that I should let go. Fuck that. I want to remember. I want to hate them. I want to loathe every single pervert who put his hands on me. I will never give them the satisfaction of knowing that they have gotten away with what they did. Suffer bitches. Just like you’ve all made me suffer. Burn in hell. Fuck you. All of you. You will never ever know peace while you know that you are not forgiven for your crimes.

To my fellow survivors (I refuse to use the word victim), I salute you. You can escape. You can fly and be free. I promise you. Be safe beautiful people.

Be kind to each other.x

An Open Letter To My Sons About Donald Trump…

A letter to my sons.
Hey boys. Your aged mother (well, I’m 44) needs to get this off her chest.
I’ve been a little bit upset since Wednesday. I’ve cried a lot and I’ve been very grumpy. Yes, I know. Grumpier than normal. That’s baaaaad right? There is a very serious reason for all of this. That cheese Dorito coloured asshat Donald Trump has been elected as President of the United States of America. That’s filled me with a sense of fear and disbelief.
Now, I’ll get a fair amount (if that many people read this) of abuse for telling you that I’m scared. Well tough. You are 18 and 16 so you are old enough to hear this and to cope with the occasional profanity that may come out of my mouth. You are my kids and I decide what I say to you, not some keyboard warrior with nothing better to do.
On the 9th November, we woke up to the unthinkable news that Donald J Trump had become the 45th president of the United States of America. I remember that I just went icy cold, started shaking and burst into tears. How could this happen? Everyone was so sure (myself included) that we would be waking up to the words “Madam President”. Yet against all the odds, the ever orange one with shares in L’Oreal hairspray had won.
Why did this happen? How could so many women, Hispanics, people of colour, Muslims, environmentalists and LGBTQ all vote for Trump? By their vote alone, Hillary should have romped home. She should have been tap dancing up the White House lawn. But this didn’t happen. Why didn’t it?
Here is one thing we know: Donald Trump, against all odds, will be the next President of the United States.

That’s a fact. How exactly it came to be is an open question. There will be dozens of books written about the real estate magnate’s path to the White House. From his trampling of the Republican primary field to a convincing electoral victory over Hillary Clinton after a shockingly nasty general election campaign, some could arrive in volumes.

1. He won because of Facebook and its inability or unwillingness to crack down on fake news

Via New York Magazine: The social network and others like it became a clearinghouse for fake news. Not simple partisan spin, but outright lies peddled as objective truth by shady actors both inside the US and abroad. 

2. Because of social media, generally

Via right-wing commentator Stefan Molyneux: The medium made the man — much as radio won the presidency for Franklin Roosevelt and television boosted John Kennedy, social media allowed Trump and his allies to drive the narrative.

3. Because of low voter turnout

Via multiple sources on social media: For a variety of reasons, from an enthusiasm gap to voter suppression, turnout in 2016 was lower across the board, but especially among Democrats. And it cost Clinton the election.

4. Because celebrity outlasts substance

Via Quartz: Trump’s name ID, celebrity and media-savvy overmatched Clinton’s policy acumen and data-driven turnout operation. 

5. Because of white women 

Via Slate: They were just as “racist” as their white male counterparts, with whom they identify more than women from minority groups. 

6. Because of white male resentment

Via The Nation: Forget economic anxiety — exit polls show people making the least money voted for Clinton — and focus on identity. The best evidence lies in Trump and his supporters’ calls to “take our country back.” 

7. Because of Russia after all?

Via The Washington Post: The Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said in an interview with state media that, contrary to Trump’s denials, “quite a few” people from his “entourage” have “been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”

8. Because the left and coastal elites shamed Trump supporters

Via The New York Times: The left has pressed on with an “ideology of shame” directed at the right, most notably now Trump supporters. 

In short: “The racism, sexism and xenophobia used by Mr. Trump to advance his candidacy does not reveal an inherent malice in the majority of Americans.”

9. Because rural Midwesterners don’t get out of the house enough

Via Patrick Thornton of Roll Call: It’s not just that elites are abandoning or ignoring Middle America — the “rural midwest” is doing the same, becoming more isolated and resistant to the diversity (of identity and thought) on the coasts.

10. Because the Democratic Party establishment didn’t push Bernie Sanders

Via The Huffington Post: By raising up Clinton over Sanders, the Democratic Party establishment (and its voters?) showed they favored the company and support of comfortable professionals over those beset by economic injustice. 

11. Because Reagan Democrats surged in Michigan and Midwest

Via former U.N. ambassador John Bolton: The so-called “Reagan Democrats” — white, working class voters who tend to lean Democrat but bend right for special candidates like Ronald Reagan and, now, Trump — are the story of this election. 

12. Not because of millennials

Via the Boston Globe: But do blame the media for focusing too much on them and not enough on the older white males who were the great, underreported story of 2016.

13. Because of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein

Via Vanity Fair: Clinton lost for lots of reasons, most notably the millions of voters who turned out for Johnson and Stein, thus denying the Democratic support she might have received in narrowly lost states like Pennsylvania. 

14. Because political correctness set off a nasty backlash

Via Reason: Trump’s promise to “destroy” political correctness, which has run rampant on college campuses and other more liberal enclaves, won him the culture war and, thus, the presidency.

15. Because he simply listened to the American people

Via right radio host John Cardillo: The political class (on the coasts) did not listen to or care enough for Middle America. Trump did. So he won.

16. Because college educated Americans are out of touch

Via the Alaska Dispatch News: Trump spoke to working-class voters, here mostly defined as those without college degrees, about the things they cared about: religion, liberty, marriage, sexuality, abortion and gun rights. And because “professorial sorts” who have spent time at universities drift into an “insular political culture,” their candidate was doomed to lose.

17. Because Americans are biased — but not against any race, ethnicity or gender

Via The Resurgent: The election was, simply, a referendum on the ruling class in Washington, D.C. None of the other issues, be they cultural or racial, came close to mattering as much.

18. Because voters believed the system was corrupt

Via The (UK) Daily Telegraph: Voters believed their political apparatus was corrupt and Trump was the only one who reliably affirmed that belief and promised to fix it.

19. Because he remembered ‘forgotten men, women’ of America

Via FirstPost: While Hillary Clinton held campaign rallies with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Trump was out talking about the “forgotten” working class, which in turn exacted a “revenge” on the political elite by voting for him. 

20. Because Democrats focused more on turning out supporters than growing the base

Via In These Times: The party and the left “have given up/abandoned/lost touch with the working class” — as evidenced by their lame effort to persuade people outside their base. By focusing on them, Democrats ceded all else. 

21. Because the Democratic National Committee selected the less competitive candidate 

Via WikiLeaks on Twitter: The party tipped the scales for Clinton, thus “defeating the purpose of running a primary” and in turn denying Sanders, a better candidate, the chance to win.

22. Not because of racism

Via Bloomberg View: Never mind the backlash to the country’s first African-American president, this wasn’t about race in the slightest. If race were an issue, then Obama wouldn’t have won two terms and many of the states Trump himself prevailed in on Tuesday.

23. Because of Comey

Via USA Today: The FBI director’s decision to revive the Clinton email circus with a letter to Congress two weeks before Election Day killed the Democrat’s momentum and derailed her plans to finish the campaign with a more uplifting message. It also distracted from things like Trump’s comments in the “Access Hollywood” tape.

24. Not because of Comey

Via The Washington Post: Clinton lost because exit polls showed more than half of voters believed she was “corrupt.” And that was her own fault, not Comey’s.

Any one of these suggestions could be the reason that he won. It could be a combination of some or all of them. Whatever the reasons, I am sickened by the fact he won. Each and every person who voted for him ought to hang their heads in shame and disgust.

What we are saying by a Trump vote is that it is OK to verbally or physically attack someone because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Bullshit! Fuck that!!! It is so NOT ok! It is not OK to yell racist taunts or touch a woman without her consent. It is not OK to put your hands on another person without their consent. Ever.

People tell me I have no right to be scared of Trump because I’m Scottish. Well excuse me for being afraid of a psychopath with the nuclear codes in his pocket. World peace is EVERYBODY’S business, it really is!

Why have I written this letter? I want you to know that it is OK to say HELL NO!!! It is OK to rage against the dying of the light. It is OK to fight back!!!

As I write this, people across the USA are protesting against Trump and his presidency. They are fighting back. What we have to do is stand with them. We have to speak out against Trump and do it globally!

If he builds that wall, then we have to be ready to tear it down.

I want you to read this and know that we will never stop fighting. All it takes for evil to prosper is that good men do nothing.

Love you boys.

Mum.x

An open letter to those who have prejudice against the mentally ill…

I see you. You point and whisper. Your words slither through the air and slide down my ears like a poisoned caress. You make horrible comments. You use words like retard and think it perfectly OK to do so. You don’t see the wounds that your words and actions can cause.

OK, I get that it that if you are seeing someone have a meltdown/panic attack and you have never seen this kind of thing happen before, then yes – it can be a scary thing to deal with. But you wouldn’t point and whisper about seeing somebody having an asthma attack, so why should the reaction to meltdown be any different at all?

Do not use words like crazy, insane or psycho to describe yourself. Those words have been used to mock, dehumanise and exclude mentally ill people since their conception and they are not yours to reclaim.

OK, sure, it is human nature to fear what we don’t understand. Since many people don’t understand mental illness, they fear it. Mental illness also carries a stigma (a mark or sign of disgrace), and that stigma prevents a significant number of people from seeking help. People use stigmatizing words like “cuckoo,” “psycho,” “wacko” and “nutso.” Just as we wouldn’t mock someone for having a physical illness, we should not mock someone with a mental illness. The following are examples of some myths and facts:
Myth: Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness.

Fact: A mental illness is not a character flaw. It is an illness having nothing to do with weakness or lack of will-power. People do not choose to become ill.
Myth: Those with a mental illness are violent.

Fact: Those with a mental illness are more often the victims of violence.
Myth: Schizophrenia is split-personality.

Fact: A person with Schizophrenia may have audible hallucinations such as “voices” talking to the individual.
Myth: A person with Depression can just “snap out of it”

Fact: Until the brain chemicals have been balanced or the precipitating factor has been resolved the individual will most likely continue to have the symptoms
Myth: You can’t recover from a mental illness

Fact: With proper treatment and support you can recover

So next time you think it’s cool to mock somebody with a mental illness, I’m here to tell you before you start that it is not OK. You have no idea at all of the damage that you will cause by your ignorance. If you see something that unnerves you then take a step back, walk away and make an effort to try and learn something before you open your neurotypical mouth and cause an immense amount of damage.

Learning about mental illness should be a part of every school’s curriculum. Every school should have a mental health nurse available during school hours – the number of teenagers who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or experienced suicidal ideations in the UK in the last 12 months is one in four. They need support at school. Not ignorance from others.

Likewise adults should be able to access mental health care when at work. They should have the support to be at work if they wish to be there.

You know what stops people from functioning and living their lives? Your ignorance. People have worked so very hard to try and get through the day and then your callous words can rip it all down in a matter of seconds, and the person is back to square one and has to fight through hell to get back there.

So please. The next time you are about to make an off the cuff remark about any aspect of mental illness, don’t. You have no idea who is standing near to you and what they will hear.

Thank you.

To the managing director of Always sanitary towels…

Dear Sir/Madam,

Your irritatingly cheerful “Have a happy period” slogan. It gets on my nerves. In fact it gets right on the cracks in between my nerves and right the way down to find the last sane nerve. The one I was saving for when I ran out of coffee.

What is happy about having a period? A big fat fucking nothing, that’s what. What’s happy about bleeding so heavily you ruin at least five pairs of knickers and have to use enough sanitary product to sink a battleship? Forgive me for this, but I’ve been happier when contemplating the contents of my cat’s freshly soiled litter tray! What is happy about crippling abdominal pain and a bloated abdomen that leaves a woman feeling like Buddha’s living twin? Wanting to drown your hormonal tears of misery in a pint of ice cream them top it off with enough chocolate to feed a sub-continent does not leave me feeling thrilled. There is nothing fun about being stoned out of your box on painkillers and sobbing into your cake in front of a corny chic flick. Not a happy time!

Then there is the matter of how much they smell. In fact, forget that, they really stink! There is a horrible stinking sickly sweet smell to the things. Rather like a 1970s market bought perfume, only the smell of your sanitary towels doesn’t disappear after around half an hour. More’s the pity. I’ve smelt nicer rotting compost if I’m brutally honest. What on earth made you think women would gleefully slap that stench next to the most intimate area of their body? Has nobody explain all about the Ph of ladygardens to you?

Seriously. Have a word with yourselves. Oh, and send chocolate. My supplies are low.

An open letter to people who judge me…

You look at me now. You see somebody who is in a wheelchair. You see somebody who is visibly upset and trying to hide their face. You hear my tears. You see that I’m overweight. What do you do? Instead of doing the right thing which is to just ignore me, and go on with your day, what is it that you choose to do?

You point. You laugh. Yes, you actually have the gall to laugh at me and to encourage your knuckledragging fuckwit friends to laugh at me too. The fact that this causes me even more pain means nothing to you. It just provides you with more fuel for your sadistic fire. How can you be so cruel? You are happy to watch my tears flow and you glory in my pain.

You perpetuate every single prejudice about people in wheelchairs that rattles around in your tiny little pea brain.

Allow me to enlighten you, dear reader, about just two experiences out of the many. One day I had been to a hospital appointment. As a treat to myself on the way home, my friend took me to Hobbycraft. I was excited to go as I needed to top up my craft supplies. On our way around the aisles, we kept coming across two women. One of whom was pushing a pram. Every time, she would give an over exaggerated tut and begrudgingly move out of way. Then I overheard them talking a couple of aisles away. “People like that shouldn’t be allowed out at the same time as normal people!” To which the other replied, “Yeah, pain in the arse cripples!” I was so humiliated. I burst into tears and put my basket down on the floor and my friend just took me straight home. Yes, I know that I had just as much right as anyone to be there. But after that, I couldn’t bear to be there. It hurt too much.

The second example now. I was on my way to another hospital appointment. My friend was pushing me along. I noticed a little girl of around five or six years old staring at me. I smiled at her and gave her a friendly little wave. She took a step towards me, at which point her mother grabbed her arm and pulled her back. (Fair enough I thought. You don’t want your child talking to a stranger.) The woman then said to her daughter, “NO!!! Dont go near that! You don’t know what you might catch!” I just couldn’t believe the level of ignorance present there! I cried for the rest of the day.

How would you feel if this were you? Your sister/mother/auntie? Would you still be happy to perpetuate such hate and prejudice?

Think. Think before you open your mouth. You never know just how much damage your poisoned words can actually do.

An open letter to body shamers.

You all know who you are. You think that you have the right to sit in judgment over women and their bodies. Whether you are fat shaming or skinny shaming, you pull apart women when they are feeling low and vulnerable and you rip into their appearance and make them feel even more worthless than they already do. You criticise women for being too fat, then you also take them apart for being too skinny. Women have to try to achieve utterly unreachable standards of beauty, and they are ostracised if they do not fit in to that miniscule bracket.

I started to become aware just how bad the issue of body shaming as shortly after I first read about the fabulous Tess Holiday. The Daily Fail led the fat shaming charge by letting the vile little man Steve Miller rant about Tess in their vile little rag. You can see that here. There has been some appalling behaviour to Tess and ladies of a similar size on Instagram. I’m proud to say I actively seek out and report this fat shaming accounts. They make me sick.

The worst body shamer at the moment has to be hatey Katie Hopkins. The UK’s most professional hate monkey has said some really vile things about overweight people, but this attack upon an audience member in her new TV show as nothing short of vile bullying.

Another victim of body shaming has been Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. Skinny shaming is just as vile as fat shaming. People thought they had the right to call her things like “bag of bones” or in the case of one of the Loose Women presenters, calling her a “too skinny bird”.

Just what the hell gives you the right to tear into women and mock their appearance just because YOU have an issue with their weight? YOU are the one with the problem in this situation. Whatever happened to sisterhood and being there for each other? Just stop it OK? Just remember the next time you open your mouth to criticise that you could do more damage than you think!