2017/06/30

Sometimes…

Da Goddess @ 10:19

Sometimes, for fun, I will spend a couple hours editing trivia over at IMDB. Most of the edits are to correct spelling or to clarify the sentence/paragraph because they often read as though they were written by someone using a translation app.

Occasionally, I will submit trivia. I have a lot of it floating around in my brain. It’s almost always useful for nothing other than IMDB.

2017/06/16

This Is How You Do It: Body Positive Message

Da Goddess @ 02:57

A mom on Instagram had this discussion with her kids after her daughter called her fat:

My daughter called me fat today. She was upset I made them get out of the pool and she told her brother that mama is fat. I told her to meet me upstairs so we could chat. Me: “what did you say about me?” Her: “I said you were fat, mama, im sorry” Me: “let’s talk about it. The truth is, I am not fat. No one IS fat. It’s not something you can BE. But I do HAVE fat. We ALL have fat. It protects our muscles and our bones and keeps our bodies going by providing us energy. Do you have fat?” Her: “yes! I have some here on my tummy” Me: “that’s right! So do I and so does your brother!” Her brother: “I don’t have any fat, I’m the skinniest, I just have muscles” Me: “actually everyone, every single person in the world has fat. But each of us has different amounts.” Her brother: “oh right! I have some to protect my big muscles! But you have more than me” Me: “Yes, that’s true. Some people have a lot, and others don’t have very much. But that doesn’t mean that one person is better than the other, do you both understand? Both: “yes, mama” Me: “so can you repeat what I said” Them: “yes! I shouldn’t say someone is fat because you can’t be just fat, but everyone HAS fat and it’s okay to have different fat” Me: “exactly right!” Them: “can we go back to the pool now?” Me: no.

Each moment these topics come up I have to choose how I’m going to handle them. Fat is not a bad word in our house. If I shame my children for saying it then I am proving that it is an insulting word and I continue the stigma that being fat is unworthy, gross, comical and undesirable. Since we don’t call people fat as an insult in my household, I have to assume she internalized this idea from somewhere or someone else. Our children are fed ideas from every angle, you have to understand that that WILL happen: at a friends house whose parents have different values, watching a tv show or movie, overhearing someone at school — ideas about body image are already filtering through their minds. It is our job to continue to be the loudest, most accepting, positive and CONSISTENT voice they hear. So that it can rise above the rest. Give me a (high five) if this resonated w u! Just do you! Xoxo Allie

When we stop allowing media or other people define beauty for ourselves, when we consistently teach and remind our children that true beauty comes from within, we will have stronger, more well-developed kids who’ll spread that message, who’ll grow up avoiding fad diets and unhealthy practices, who’ll grow up with stronger, healthier senses of self, and who will be advocates for body positivity.

God created each of us to be unique and that’s what we are. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Beauty comes from within. It’s something we all have innately. But we forget. We allow media to dictate the definition of beauty and that must stop. We don’t need to have people who have long forgotten that beauty is about the light and love we have within us rather than some airbrushed image they paste on the cover of their magazines. We are more than what someone who’s never met us tells us we are or should be!

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! WE ARE BEAUTIFUL. Just as we are. Remember that. And help others believe that.

2017/05/16

#15: The Blogiversary

Da Goddess @ 10:29

In the past 15 years, a lot has happened.

I’ve moved ten times (more if you count the times I’ve had “transitional housing” in between stops), I’ve made some lovely friends, I’ve lost three of my favorite bloggers (death can suck it), lost several offline friends, finalized a divorce, lived with one blogger, broke up with that blogger, met the love of my life, had to say goodbye to the love of my life, moved forward, lost a career, gained a new perspective on life (one I wouldn’t wish on anyone), have taken THOUSANDS of pills in an attempt to fight pain, had two kids graduate from high school, had one kid get married, met a swell guy whom I love a great deal, became a “grandma” by association, became a crazy cat lady mommy to two​ lovely cats, had one cat die, have doted on remaining cat, taught remaining cat a number of tricks, fallen in love with hummingbirds, done some traveling, complained a lot, cried even more, had poop bark, laughed, cursed, found joy and sadness, and just kept on living life one day at a time as best as I can.

It’s been strange and occasionally exciting, fun and delightful, heartwarming and heartbreaking, and I still survive.

There are no deeply profound lessons to be found here in this post. It’s just the verbose version of making a mark on the door jamb as a means of recording the passage of time and the growing pains that come with the territory. I’m here. I exist. My blog still rambles along with me.

You know, when I began blogging, I had no idea where it would lead (I still don’t) or how much it would change my life, but I’m glad I started this journey. Fifteen years seems an eternity. Fifteen years seems like the blink of an eye. Either way, it happened and the archives offer some smidgen of proof that it did.

Thanks to all who’ve stuck around for the ride.

2017/04/29

Mr. Mockingbird Goes to Town

Da Goddess @ 00:21

Mr. Mockingbird’s patterns have revealed themselves.

We get the lion’s share of his nightly operatic endeavors, but he does share the love with others, thank God.

Mr. Mockingbird, henceforth known as MMB, now spends time in other trees in our neighborhood. He moves down the street one big tree at a time. Thankfully, some of the trees are slightly further down the street than others, giving me a most fantastic break from his endless racket!

MMB also takes a week off. I’m hoping this time, however, will be a permanent break because — fingers crossed — he’ll have a mate. That’s my wish for him. And for me. Mostly for me. Only slightly for him.

Say a prayer for me MMB that his songs​and effort have finally paid off for the little guy.

2017/04/16

Christos Anesti!

Da Goddess @ 08:52

Christos Anesti! He is Risen!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Before the dawn, Mary and the women came and found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They heard the angelic voice: “Why do you seek among the dead as a man the One who is everlasting light? Behold the clothes in the grave! Go and proclaim to the world: The Lord is risen! He has slain death, as He is the Son of God, saving the race of men.”

Thou didst decend into the tomb, O Immortal, Thou didst destory the power of death! In victory didst Thou arise, O Christ God, proclaiming “Rejoice” to the myrrhbearing women, granting peace to Thy apostles, and bestowing resurrection to the fallen.

The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin! Again I say: Rejoice! Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb! With Himself He has raised all the dead! Rejoice, all you people! Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem! The Glory of the Lord has shone on you! Exalt now and be glad, O Zion! Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!

Happy Easter, my friends!

2017/04/11

To Kill a Mockingbird

Da Goddess @ 03:00

Atticus Finch said it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird, but he never met the asshat living in my tree. He also didn’t live during the time of car alarms, which are the preferred call of this particular miscreant.

I won’t actually kill the mockingbird, but I’m not opposed to serving up a big ol’ heap of “shut the fuck up!” on a silver platter.

This mockingbird in our ficus, well, his current occupation is night singing. Every night. Hour after hour, he continues with his nutso shrieking.

In addition to the car alarm impression, he does a particularly annoying crow, parrots, DUCKS(!), and he’s even managed to kind of hit upon meowing.

WTF is with this bird? Why our tree? Look, I get that he’s looking for a mate. And I get that he’s trying to “outsing” the other local males (which can be heard just down the street). I just don’t understand WHY our tree! Yes, our tree is lush and full of other birds, but whyyyyyy us?!?

I have no answers. I have a headache, but no answers. And my patience are running thin.

We’ve tried shaking the branches while he’s mid-song. He stopped singing for 30 seconds. We’ve hissed at him. He trills and squawks back. I’d let Fletch at him but 1) it’s dark and 2) Fletch would likely come away with more damage than the bird.

At this point, I’m open to suggestions from anyone and everyone.

Please. Please help end this nightmare.

2017/04/04

Random Facts: If I Were to Scream

Da Goddess @ 12:00

If I

    were

to scream because I had to define “subjunctive mood verbs” I’d be well within my rights to do so. Mostly because I had NO FUCKING IDEA there was such a thing!

I love the language of writing. I love that it’s often tricky and sometimes even downright ridiculous. But I also hate it when I come across something about which I’ve never even heard. Or, if it had been covered during an English course, it was so convoluted I simply blacked out from sheer confusion and lunacy of the whole shebang.

I mean, c’mon! Subjunctive mood verbs? When did someone find themselves so bored that they had the time to conjure up such a thing?

Was is used in the first and third person singular past. It is used for statements of fact.

Were is used in the second person singular and plural and first and third person plural. It is used in the subjunctive mood to indicate unreal or hypothetical statements. The words if and wish usually indicate the subjunctive mood.

Ridiculous, right?

At least I now know. And because I took the time to find out, my head hurts and I think I deserve some relief.

Sigh.

2017/04/03

Random Facts: Seahorse

Da Goddess @ 00:38

The seahorse can give birth to anywhere from 5 to 2,500 babies — or fry. Roughly 0.5% will survive.

In general, the male seahorse will be ready to breed again within hours, which is pretty remarkable as they’re the ones that must gestate the eggs in a pouch for 9-45 days.

We humans have it so good.

2017/03/02

Happy World Book Day!

Da Goddess @ 15:06

If you know me, you know I absolutely adore books. I love the written word. I love getting lost in the written word. I love the feeling I get from reading, even if that feeling is of frustration or anger at the writer (if I’m involved enough in a story to get upset, then the author’s done something right — they made me CARE!).

My mom gave me the second greatest gift of all when she taught me to read. The first gift, obvs, was love. But even if she hadn’t loved me, I’d still have reading. And reading is power.

A good story will draw you in. It will make you FEEL. It will make you forget the real world for a while. It will open your mind. A good story will open your heart. It will take you to places that only exist in the imagination. It will help develop your imagination. And, dare I say, a good story will inspire you to reach for the stars, and beyond.

There are no goals without imagination, without dreams or dreaming. How do you learn to dream, to believe something is possible if not for the stories other people tell?

I often ask kids about their favorite books. I ask them what they like about the story and the characters. Many kids tell me how they’re inspired by the ideas set forth in the books they read. They tell me how the story could continue, what adventures the characters might find in a new chapter (or seven!). When a kid can tell you what they’d like to have happen next? Well, my friends, that’s magic! That’s imagination. That’s the sign of a child whose brain has been engaged. And that’s a big win in my (pardon/no pardon the pun) book.

Whether our children are reading physical books or on an electronic device, WE ARE WINNING! They’re learning. If their minds are engaged in reading, they’re developing tools they’ll need to become whoever they dream they can be. Because, and here’s the secret, when they read, they can become the characters in the stories, if only for a while. And if they can do that for a while, they begin to believe it’s possible more and more often…in real life. That astronaut in the book? That could be me! That brave knight/princess in the story? That could be me! The character who just discovered a new tribe or animal? Me! Even when the author includes a physical description of a character, while you’re reading, that description falls away and you begin to inhabit the character. If you were to close your eyes in the middle of the tale, your face is the one you’d see if the character looked in the mirror. That’s the power of reading, of imagination. That’s how you start teaching kids to dream.

When I was little, I loved stories that inhabited colorful lands full of colorful characters. Dr. Seuss knew what he was doing. Sneeches, with or without stars upon thars, were fun playmates on days I was kept inside. Or maybe one of the twenty-twenty Daves would come by to save…the day from absolute boredom while stuck in my cave. Chances are, the Cat in the Hat would also stop by, if only to help me find trouble to squeeze out of by the lash of an eye.

As I got a bit older, Trixie Belden became my muse. With her and the Bobwhites, I solved neighborhood mysteries that no one else could have solved. I traveled with her, laughed with her, cried with her. When I felt lonely, Trixie was there for me.

Always, always have a book. When you’re watching TV, have a book to read during commercials. Going to the doctor? Take a book. Got a lot of books and spend a lot of time at the doctor’s like I do? Ask if you can bring in a few to start a lending library. Old magazines will only last so long.

As soon as possible, get a child their own library card. Make the library or bookstore a regular part of your week. Investing in a child’s mind is investing in the possibilities of their future. Let them become invested, too, as they tell you what they’ve read and what it means to them.

I know I’ve told the story many times of how Mojo would walk into walls because her nose was stuck in a book. And how LD was potty trained with the help of book on dolphins, porpoises, and whales. He was so proud the day he was allowed to take that book everywhere he wanted because he was finally out of diapers. And let’s not forget how my kids would do their chores or finish dinner because their reward was a trip to the library or bookstore!

As my kids grew up, people would give them gift cards for Borders or Barnes & Noble so they could choose their own gifts. Instead of ONE present, they ended up with many. And they were the kind of gifts that kept giving because they turned out to be creative, thoughtful, and funny people. Had they only had TV or video games, I doubt I’d be saying the same (or I’d be lying about them).

I don’t know where I’d be if not for the books I read as a kid. I don’t know where I’d be if not for the books I read as an adult. I do know I’d never have dared to dream of becoming a nurse if I hadn’t read books about candy stripers and nurses. I’d have never dreamed of being a photographer, either. I wouldn’t be passionate about wildlife if not for reading “Born Free” or even “Misty of Chincoteague”. That’s how powerful the written word can be.

I wish you a very happy World Book Day today — and every day! May the book be with you.

* Inspired by Definitely Dreaming

2017/02/26

Closed Borders

Da Goddess @ 05:11

Back when the bookstore, Borders, was still around, I’d often take the kids over for storytime and to just look at/read books. It was a wonderful way to spend the day. It was a treat for all of us.

Borders was brilliant in that they always had carts and racks of books on clearance set up at the entrance of the store. I always stopped to take a look. ALWAYS. And 99.98% of the time I’d end up with a stack of books to sort through and purchase.

Best part? I’d find so many $2 books for the kids that I’d always have a special treat/reward for them at the end of the day or week or after they accomplished something special.

Two of my favorites were “Showdown at Lonesome Pellet” and a book of mazes. A long time ago I blogged about “Lonesome Pellet” and I may have even mentioned the maze book. I’ve found where to get a copy of “Pellet” but haven’t yet solved the mystery of the maze book.

I don’t recall the name of the book (which, of course, makes finding it nigh on impossible) but I recall quite clearly the look and premise of it. It was colorful, inside and out, and to get from one page to another, you had to “jump” through a hole. A literal hole. In the page. There was always more than one, too. Sometimes you went through to the next page, sometimes you went through a few. No matter, it was FUN! Each hole took you somewhere new, kinda like a choose your own adventure story.

I’ve tried googling the book using every description under the sun to no avail. Why can’t I find it?! Why did Borders have to close? WHYYY?? They were so helpful and informative when it came to researching even the vaguest book description.

Someday, maybe someday, they’ll be back.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

2017/02/04

My Official Valentine’s Day/Early Birthday Wish List Item #1

Da Goddess @ 03:41

I’ve written plenty in the past about my love for Honeyboy Edwards. I’ve talked many an ear off several unsuspecting friends about Honeyboy.

At this point, if there were even the merest chance that anyone I run into DOESN’T know Honeyboy is part of my heart, my soul, my very DNA, I’d be surprised if they were surprised by this first item on my not-so-distant wish list for Valentine’s Day, or birthday.

It is, of course, a brand new release of David Honeyboy Edwards. I want the CD. I want the DVD. And, God help me, I need another copy of his book in my collection (I foolishly loaned it out and never got it back, the bastards!).

So, there it is.

What do YOU want for Valentine’s Day?

2016/09/11

15 Years After: Life Post-9/11

Da Goddess @ 05:39

After 15 years, my heart still beats a little too fast, my chest feels too tight, and I remember that sense of disbelief as if it were yesterday.

I also remember my neighbors gathering, not so much to talk, but more just needing to be together with others.

My children had questions. I had questions, too. But parents had to be strong and talk the kids through the scary news. We could only panic or cry in private. The kids needed us adults to be their safe haven. So we were.

I remember Mr. Rogers saying during times like these, when you’re frightened or feeling lost to look for the helpers. I keep thinking about that now. How many of us remember that? How many of us have become helpers?

I’ve been a helper and I have to say, helping others during terrible moments makes you stronger. It truly does.

I try not to be one who needs a helper now. I do what I can to be there for those who have no one else, who don’t know where to turn, who maybe just need a hand to hold onto.

I try. And I try very hard to support the helpers whose jobs require the support of the community. Whatever we can’t do, they are out there making sure it gets done. They work harder and longer than everyone else. And they need us to be there for them when all is said and done.

Today I think of the lives lost 15 years ago. I think, too, of those who have since died because of the work they did to put out fires, find survivors in the wreckage, or to reclaim the remains of the dead. I think of those who have flown over, sailed around, or walked in foreign lands in the name of securing our freedom, chasing down the evil minds behind the attacks on us. I think of all the innocents who’ve been caught in the crossfire.

Mostly, I think. I remember. I hurt. And I give thanks for all that remains.

Some far off day, long in the future, there will be no one left alive who remembers the attacks on American soil. It’ll be one more story in a history book. Until that happens, I will remember and I will speak of that day. I have to. I cannot forget, nor should I.

Never. Forget. Never forget. NEVER FORGET. NEVER. FORGET.

2016/09/04

On This Day 10 Years Ago: September 4, 2006 — Steve Irwin Died

Da Goddess @ 00:00

Over the years, I’ve written about the impact Steve Irwin had on the lives of my family. Below is a repost of something I wrote in 2009, which still rings true. I’d like to add a few thoughts.

Steve may be gone, but we’ve witnessed new generations carrying on with his mission. Irwin daughter Bindi is officially an adult and continues to talk about the need for conservation, advocates for the animals, and has become a true global ambassador for wildlife. His son, Robert, does the same. Though his younger years perhaps limit his visibility, he aims high and reaches or exceeds that mark with pure, unbridled enthusiasm. Both Irwin kids are passionate, educated, and very well-spoken, which is a testament to not only their mother, Terri, but to the foundation of keen interest and the solid work their father did in the name of wildlife conservation.

As I mention below, my own interest in wildlife began early. My parents were the leading contributors to this, but I was also intrigued by the work of Marlin Perkins, who was pretty much all my generation had in the way of a wildlife educator/promoter. There were others who followed, of course, but that was the start of my budding curiosity. I’m so very grateful for the path Perkins paved because it brought us Steve.

I’m grateful my children grew up in the Age of Irwin. I’m grateful for the first class shows they had, to see the world through khaki colored glasses, to see wildlife conservation as something exciting and important.

For those reasons alone (though there are many more), I continue to mourn the loss of the great wildlife warrior named Steve Irwin.

I’ll never forget the year LD turned two and on Christmas morning he went crazy when he saw one of his presents was a three or four foot plastic crocodile. He immediately jumped it, covered its eyes, called for Terri (his sister given a co-starring role in his funny little world of Croc Hunterdom) to get his shirt off and wrap it around the croc’s head. Yes, LD was two and had absorbed enough Irwinisms to run his own fake rescue and relocation in our living room.

Dressed in his regular uniform of khakis (the boy wanted what he wanted), we headed over to my sister’s house for more Christmas activities. The croc came along. Anyone speaking to LD that day had to address him as Steve. To this day, there are probably a few people who were dating relatives or friends of my sister and brother-in-law who really believe this is my son’s name. We probably should have considered it, but for the simple fact that the ex’s brother carries the same name and they weren’t on speaking terms at that point. Still, my little 2 year old had made his stand about the name and his goals for the day: he would be Steve and he would be on croc patrol. No cats, people, or food would go missing if he could help it! (Okay, maybe a little food, but that was only if it was near enough to a chair he could climb up to get at it.)

And he did it all with an Australian accent. My American born baby boy sported a fair dinkum Aussie accent. Because that’s how his hero spoke.

This was how it went for two and half years, give or take. Halloween costumes were, naturally, khaki and sported fabric paint representations of Australia Zoo’s logo, with the name Steve below that. We’d attached frogs, lizards, and snakes to his shirt (all plastic, of course…our collection was immense…still is) and his shorts or pants, and his hat, although the hat was from the Norwich Gators (close as we could get at the time). Our pumpkins were carved with crocs and “Steve” and occasionally a panda or regular jack o’lantern pattern. But they still represented The Man.

When the news broke during the early hours on Sept. 4, 2006, I was awake and editing for Blogcritics.org at the time. I heard it. And everything stopped. Then I started flipping channels and it was everywhere. It didn’t seem real. Finally, I emailed my friend Pat who lived at the zoo and received the sad confirmation that it was, indeed, tragically true — Steve Irwin was gone.

What unfolded after that was beyond anything most anyone anywhere would have ever expected. Despite the popularity of the Crocodile Hunter series and other spin off shows, no one could have predicted just how widespread this man’s infectious enthusiasm reached. Straight out admiration, parodies, and even a handful of naysayers…the man, his mission, had stretched around the globe and back a million times. He made the scariest animals important, even lovable (except leeches and I’m afraid I’ll never laugh as he did about them), he made us care about the animals he encountered, taught us why they were special, why we should want them around. His plans were grand and he was making great strides in realizing many of his dreams, which ruffled a few feathers and caused some backlash, but Steve did it all for one reason: to protect the land and the animals, and give our children more than just picture books filled with photos and drawings of animals and trees we once encountered on land. Careful management could and can preserve habitats and healthy populations of animals if we can find a way to work together — from land management, husbandry, careful community planning, caring individuals, and sensible care plans from government agencies to help keep nature a viable and valuable part of our heritage.

It’s a message I was taught by Marlin Perkins, local Native Americans, and even by my parents (except snakes, but that’s a cause I took up on my own). To me, what was the point of keeping the forest if there were no animals? What was the point of loving the animals if they had no home? I learned it early and have always carried this with me. My conservationist roots run deep and likely always will. I guess my kids came by it honestly.

And then one day, Steve and Terri Irwin showed up and echoed what I’d grown up hearing. They even went far beyond what I’d learned and gave me new ideas, a new means of understanding, new hope! It spread quickly. I wasn’t the only one looking for a way to learn. It became part of our watercooler conversations.

Then we got that punch in the ol’ solar plexus we never wanted to hear. Yes, Steve Irwin was a celebrity and we often roll our eyes when a celebrity dies. But this seemed to run a bit deeper. Here was a young man actively, passionately chasing the dream of educating the world about our natural resources. He wasn’t famous for kicking a soccer ball or wearing the latest styles or releasing a record of music he had little to do with. He was out getting dirty and conducting research that continues to this day to enlighten us on the habits and lives of creatures we previously understood little about. He gave us tools to learn and set us upon a course of caring.

It’s been three (er, now 10) years and it still hurts. Thankfully, there are people everywhere who have picked up the mantle and carry on.

It may mean nothing to you, but it continues to mean a great deal to this family. Each of us, in our own manner, have found a way to carry on educating friends and strangers about the animals we encounter, the land upon which we live, the land that surrounds us, and how important it is for all of us to work together to keep it working.

Steve Irwin may be gone, but plenty of people in this world are carrying out his work, sharing the knowledge, spreading the word.

We miss you, Stevo.

Gone But Not Forgotten

2016/07/17

TJH: Inspires — It Speaks to Me

Da Goddess @ 22:23

I have loved the series Ride with Norman Reedus. Loved. It.

I don’t really watch The Walking Dead, but LD does. I’m familiar enough with Reedus through that as well as some of his movie roles. I think I just missed the boat on TWD and kind of feel like I’ll catch up on it eventually. It’s not a big watching priority right now. I do, however, like watching (and make a habit of watching) shows about people exploring the world around them. So, Ride fit into my viewing queue beautifully.

The season finale was tonight and featured Peter Fonda. I was trying to hold back the tears by the end of the episode. Perfection.

I’m kinda crushing on Norman after this. Much in the same way as I crushed on Ewan McGregor after watching his Long Way series.

But back to Reedus. In addition to his exploration of his surroundings, he’s constantly photographing what he sees. (I don’t know anyone like that. Do you?) And he has a book* of his photography, which I want so badly! It goes on my wish list immediately.

I hope you can find the series somewhere, watch, and fall in love like I have. I think it’s highly likely you will.

* http://www.bookmasters.com/marktplc/04377.htm I can’t code links on my phone, so just follow the link.

2016/06/07

Six Months is not Enough

Da Goddess @ 01:11

I feel sick to my stomach that six months was considered an appropriate sentence for the attacker. I feel sick to my stomach because it’s not anywhere close to a deterrent for the next guy who decides he’ll assault someone and he knows he can get away with it.

My heart aches for this young woman because of all she has endured — including the trial, the questions about her life, the treatment of her by the probation officer, and so much more.

I have been in her shoes, minus the trial and national exposure. I didn’t go after my attackers because of who one of them was. I wish I had as I later learned there were more victims of his. I don’t know what happened in the other guy’s life and don’t want to know. In fact, my heart says it’s best for me not to know anything about either of them.

Just like this young woman, I was lucky to have had some incredibly supportive people in my life. They helped me through the first year of recovering from the attack. And for all those who continued to help me long after, I can only say thanks. The memories never go away completely, but they do blur around the edges and they don’t have power over me as they once did. When I read about how this young woman (and many others) have suffered, a part of me feels their pain, the panic, the anxiety that follows. I wish I’d had their courage when I was attacked. I didn’t. But I do have a bit now and am no longer ashamed by any of it. I’m hoping anyone in a similar situation understands how important it is to realize they have nothing to be ashamed of. Their attackers should be ashamed, while the victims should be supported by family, friends, and the community.

As long as there are foolish judges handing out lenient sentences, parents who obfuscate the truth and try to raise pity for their criminally convicted children, and a society that tries downplay the seriousness of sexual assault cases, these stories will continue and the victims will continue to feel ashamed for something in which they had no choice but to endure.

Your mother, sister, daughter, wife, cousin, best friend, next door neighbor…She is the one who carries this weight and this pain when the rest of us don’t give sexual assault cases the utmost care and gravity they deserve. It’s time to stop victimizing the victim over and over again, somehow turning them into a villain for expecting justice. It’s time to stop downplaying the attacker’s role and turning him into some sort of misguided, lost soul.

We need to educate our children so they understand the difference between right and wrong, teach them to take responsibility for their actions — regardless of the consequences. If they do the crime, they do the time. It’s not negotiable. Rich or poor, boy or girl, black or white or purple, famous or not. At some point we must stand up for victims and stop allowing the perpetrators to control the narrative, stop giving them nonstop media coverage. Let’s remember the victims could be our family, friends, or even ourselves.

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