Ray Rice and Dometsic Violence

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about Ray Rice’s assault on his then finance Janay.  Another video was just released showing what actually happened in that elevator and his contract with the Ravens has been terminated and he has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Unfortunately some people don’t understand the severity of domestic violence until they see it with their own eyes.  They can be told she was knocked out but after seeing a man hit a woman that hard, it has much more of an emotional “Oh my God” impact.  Then people understand.  I don’t think he would’ve been fired if that video hadn’t gone public.  If the NFL saw it but no one else, I think they wouldn’t have said a word.  Public outcry is the only reason they terminated his contract and suspended him.

Even though that may be true, I don’t think the video should have gone public.  First of all, it makes the victim relive that moment over and over again.  Second, survivors should be in control of their own stories.  They determine when or if it is ok to talk about their assault and what details to share, not the media.  The survivor always has to be in the forefront of our minds, not the scandal or ratings.

I read yesterday Janay’s reaction, blaming the public and media for her husbands termination and it breaks my heart.  It was his conscious choice to hit her twice and knock her out, it was his fault.  I wish she could say “The media shouldn’t have made that video public, that is my story to share, not theirs.  It is a shame what happened to my husband, but he shouldn’t have hit me.  There is no excuse for that.  His decision made him lose his job” because that’s the truth. 

I was also reading on Twitter a wonderful hashtag #whyIstayed and #whyIleft.  I hope that really shines light on domestic violence.  I’ve read so many people saying she stayed for his money….there are a lot of reasons why a victims stays even if their partner doesn’t have a dime to their name.  It’s a strange mindset to be in a relationships with someone who hurts you or doesn’t respect you.  At the time it makes complete and total sense to you when the rest of the world wonders why.  Living in fear, living with someone where you always have to watch your back becomes an every day habit, you get used to being afraid like it’s something normal.  That’s the point where you feel so worthless than you actually believe you deserve the way you’re being treated, that you did something to cause your partner to treat you that way, so you just be careful as to not to set them off.  That becomes your life.

There have been some very positive changes in society and as we all work together we can make a difference, we can make a change and we can fight this.

Side note: There is still space at the seminar I’m hosting with Jessie on October 11th at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.  If you’d like to register, please visit www.1is2many.eventbrite.com.  If you don’t live in the area but still want to make a difference, I’m doing a walk for Mutual Ground, a local domestic violence/sexual assault shelter and am currently fundraising.  If you’d like to contribute please click here.

♥ Meggie

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Hard Work Pays Off

For the last few months, I’ve been working my butt off.  A lot of things have happened recently.

First of all, the wonderful manager of WAR Chest took a well deserved trip.  So for the past 6 weeks, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work in the store on Friday’s.  It was so much fun!  I absolutely love talking to people and doing everything in the store!  I can’t think of one thing I dislike. 

She has also asked me to help plan events for the boutique, which I am so excited about!  Event planning is one of my favorite things to do.  It’s challenging, keeps me busy and I love coming up with creative new ideas! 

Not only that, I’ve been taking some photographs of volunteers as models.  This is something so new to me.  I love photography, but I don’t typically take photos of people so I’m learning the best ways to pose people and how to direct them to create the perfect shot.

Through that work with the boutique, I’ve been contacted by a local fashion blogger to potentially take photos for her blog!!  I should be meeting with her soon and I am so excited!  Also, a volunteer wanted to hire me to take photos of her grandsons.  How exciting is that?  I can maybe start making a little extra money doing something I love and continue to perfect my skills.  With student loans to worry about, any extra income would be wonderful.

I’ve taken over the Instagram account for Feral Fixers, a local cat rescue.  I’ve also been working more of their events and trying to help with marketing as best I can.  They’ve been working so hard to place so many cats and kittens in a home.   If you live in the Chicagoland area (especially Dupage County) check them out!

On top of that, I’m still doing a fundraising walk with my sister, my best friend Kristiii and my sister’s friend for Mutual Ground and I’ve just signed on to run a 5k for Traffick Free.

Finally, my pride and joy.  The last few months I’ve been working on a seminar to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault.  I have been emailing back and forth with Benedictine University and finally scheduled a time and reserved a room.  They have been so immensely helpful, I can’t even put into words!  It’s been really long days and nights, scheduling photo shoots for marketing material, editing those photos, adding our information, writing event details, setting up accounts, sending out press releases hoping to be picked up by someone, creating contact lists and so much more. 

I’ve been working so hard to get everything together and it is finally happening!  So far 9 people have officially registered and we are hoping for many many more.  I am getting to the point where I am almost completely exhausted, but so excited at the same time.

If anyone is interested in coming you can register at www.1is2many.eventbrite.com

I can’t thank the people who have been helping enough and I’m so excited to see the outcome of this event! Keeping my fingers crossed!

♥ Meggie

Stop the Victim Blaming

I was just reading this article about an ESPN reporter who went off about the Ray Rice situation.  For those of you who don’t know, Rice is a professional football player accused of knocking his then fiancée out and dragging her unconscious body into an elevator.  As of right now, his punishment is a 2 game suspension.

Stephen Smith begins by saying how deplorable it is for any man to lay his hand on a woman. He talks about how he would involve law enforcement.  A good start right? but then things get infuriating…

He continues to talk about thing he would tell women which would be “let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions” because we all know that in an abusive situation, the victim (man or woman) has obviously done something bad enough to be beaten.  WRONG!

Another reporter, Michelle Beadle, began to speak out against his ridiculous statement so he defended himself.  He reiterated that domestic violence is wrong, that no one should ever do it but of course he follows that up ” But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong being done upon them?”  Are you being serious right now?  He obviously has no comprehension as to what an abusive relationship is.

I think if people could prevent domestic violence, no one would be in that situation in the first place….  Women’s actions do NOT cause an intimate partner to become violent with them.  Men’s actions do NOT cause an intimate partner to become violent with them.  How are they supposed to prevent it? Please do share with the world your preventative measures.  I’m sure we’d all love to hear them.

Do they include not dating a violent person?  Well, the thing is, with domestic violence perpetrators, victims don’t know they’re violent until they are already in the relationship.  Perpetrators don’t act violent toward everyone they know and they can be the most charming men/women you will ever meet.

Is another preventative measure to not be around them if they are under the influence of alcohol?  Well, alcohol does NOT cause domestic violence.  Alcohol, as everyone knows, lowers inhibitions and makes it easier for true personality to come out.

Domestic violence is about control over a person.  Victims can be men or women and perpetrators can be men or women.  Victims can feel lost, hopeless and worthless.  They can also feel as though they deserve these actions when in fact they don’t at all or they can feel that if they love them enough, the abuse will change.  No two victims feel the same way.

Let’s just remember though, a victims does nothing to deserve violence, a victims does nothing to provoke violence and any decision a victim makes really has no relation to violence.  If a partner is willing to lay their hands on the person they say they love, there is no reason for that ever and therefore women (or men) do NOT need to make sure they don’t provoke the actions of an abuser.

I truly don’t think he will ever understand why his statement was so wrong but this is why we need to continue to raise awareness of issues like domestic violence. We need to teach our young men and women what domestic violence and sexual assault is so our future generations don’t grow up saying statements like this.

♥ Meggie

#Yesallwomen

I’ve seen this hashtag being used, #yesallwomen.  Initially I didn’t know it was in response to anything, but I loved it.  I truly think it does open up people’s eyes (especially some men who don’t necessarily see a problem with how society treats women).

I can relate to the majority of the posts as well.  I can relate to being afraid in a dark parking lot in the middle of the night, keys braced by my fingers just in case a man attacks me.  I can relate to going to a party or club and not drinking too much because I knew I could get attacked and then be blamed because society tells me it’s not the rapists fault, it’s mine.  I can relate to being harassed on the street, the feeling of someone actually grabbing my butt and laughing like it was ok when I was terrified.  Through the work I do, I’ve heard the abuse stories, the rapes, assaults, beatings, I’ve heard it all.

I know I was primed by society to know I wasn’t safe alone, that if I was with a man, he should walk me out into that dark parking lot, join me on the street and defend me from potential harassment and assailants because it is safer to be with a man.  The men I grew up with were never taught to be afraid because a woman might rape them or attack them, but I was taught a man could and that was a reality I had to accept.  I had to accept the fact that I could be attacked, be taught how to keep myself safe, but potential attackers didn’t have to be taught not to attack me in the first place.

That is what you learn, growing up as a woman.  People tell you that you’re supposed to go through life independently because you can do anything, just don’t dress like a slut (whatever that means), don’t drink too much and always stay armed if you’re alone, keys between your fingers, mace in hand.

After doing more reading, I discovered that this hashtag was in response to the shootings in Santa Barbara and I see more and more articles appearing on my Facebook focusing on ‘women’s’ issues and how the shooting solely relates to those issues. To be perfectly honest, it is really bothering me.

I agree, his manifesto was sexist and misogynist, however I do not believe one bit that this is solely a woman’s issue nor should it be made into one.

As a feminist, I fight for equal rights, equal for both men and women.  I recognize my own struggles in society as a woman, however I know men have different struggles at times as well.  With regards to the shooting, we need to talk about the sexual violence against women, we need to talk about how we are NOT property, men do not OWN us, we are not to be sexually dominated.

At the same time we need to talk about the hyper-masculine version of a man that society creates and pressures men to be.  They are supposed to be strong, dominating, sexually driven and yes that is part of the reason why there is violence against women (another great conversation) but it also impacts men as well.

If we’re going to bring in topics on how this hurts women, we should talk about how it hurts men too.  We should also be talking about how when men are sexually assaulted they can’t come out and talk about it because then they appear to not be ‘real men’.  God forbid a man is sexually assaulted by a woman!!  Our society makes that into a joke that is seen in movies, we laugh at that, think it’s not even possible.  What about when a female beats her male partner??  That’s a joke in society too.  There was a video that was created first showing two actors.  First the man was grabbing and hitting the woman in public and people intervened!  They said they’d call the police, shouted at him to stop, were visibly upset!  When the tables were turned and the woman beat the man, no one came to help me.  There were actually people who laughed at the scene, as if it were a joke.

So yes, I strongly believe we need to talk about violence against women, we need to start this conversation, we need to talk about what we go through, we need to talk about how the stereotypically masculine image hurts us because we are turned into sexual property.  At the same time, we need to acknowledge that this hyper-masculine image also hurts men as well, especially in cases of abuse (as it hurts women).

If this hashtag was unrelated to the shooting that would be a different situation where it could only involve the struggles women face.  Since it’s not and if we’re going to bring up all these topics of violence against women, we should do the same for men.We must have a conversation, and all-inclusive conversation about abuse, neglect and how gender expectations hurt us, not only as women or as men but as a society.