Letter to my Rapist

It wasn’t until recently that I came to realize how my rape truly affected me. At the age of 16, I lost my virginity to being raped. I never before realized how for decades, this act plagued me, and my encounters and involvements with men. I minimized the violation, to being passed out for most of it. I would contribute my lack of relationships and non-existent future commitments to my dysfunctional childhood and my parents lousy-at-times marriage. 

My parents had a volatile at times, abusive, demeaning relationship. And, at an early age I never wanted to get married because of the fear that all marriages were what I saw growing up. But now I can no longer be in denial, to recognize the pattern I kept on recreating from the night I was raped and the following day or two after, I had with my rapist. 

Since my awakening a few weeks ago, that hit me like one of the biggest breakdowns that I possibly have ever had, I wanted to go to the middle of a desert and just yell. Yell out at all the things that rape did to me and took away from me. Yell out the rage that has been buried for decades that came from a place, his bedroom, that has to be unleashed. Yell for a girl that lay there, almost entirely motionless, unable to defend herself. 

There was something else I knew I had to do, before yet again, my emotions subsided. I had to write it out. Write out my thoughts and emotions. Vent as I know how. Write a letter to him, as if he were ever to read it. This is that letter and all the things I would like him to know his actions did to me.

To my rapist,

I am writing this letter to you because unfortunately I cannot say in person all the things that I would like to say to you. If I was able to get in front of you, 6 feet apart, with you not being able to say anything, this is what I would like you to know.

It has taken me decades to realize all the harm you have done. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago did I realize that there was actually something that I was in denial of. What I was in denial of was the implications and harm to my future that night would be when you took my innocence from me and violated me. When I’ve spoken of my rape, for decades, I would say that thankfully it hadn’t affected me too much because I was passed out for most of it. Just those brief seconds that I woke up out of my drunkenness from the pain, is all I remember. Of you asking me to help you with it to put it in me. Did you at any time realize I had no idea where it went?! I was still a virgin and so clueless on what sex was. I was a child in a 16 year old’s body. And, how old were you? You had to have some clue that I was very young.

What made you think you had the right to do that to me?!! Was that the price that I had to pay for you and your roommate hosting a party for me and my sister‘s farewell visit to Chicago?! Or, did you think just because my sister left me in your bed to sleep off the alcohol that it was OK for you to do what you wanted to do to me?!

I didn’t come from the best upbringing. You and your roommate while skating up and down Sheffield Avenue, must’ve seen us drinking all the time on the brownstone steps. Supposedly, I drank so much the night that you raped me that I was throwing up all over myself, and your bathroom, that my sister had to clean me up. Yes, my childhood and the things that I had experience and were told and shown to me affected my self-esteem and how I valued myself. But, your brazen judgment to force your needs on me made my subconscious solidify that I was only worth being used and discarded. That I had no value.

I went through life being used, again and again. And at the age of 21, I found myself as a high class call girl which brought a sick sense to me that I had value. If men were going to pay to be with me, I had to have some value, right? I started to think that I was worthy. But, all it was again was the repeated pattern of that night, being used and discarded for another man’s sexual pleasure. I thought to myself, is this the only thing I am good for? For decades, it rarely went beyond that point. The two relationships that I had were dysfunctional. One was with a pathological lier and cheater and the other was on again, off again, because of his drug use and other women he wanted to date. Though he never technically cheated on me, he later died because of his extensive drug use over the years.

What really woke me up to the damage you inflicted and that I was repeating that night over and over and over again was when I finally healed from the death of my ex and the intimacy issues that caused. I found someone that I wanted a relationship with. We had dinner the first time we met, talked for hours, and had sex too. Probably because you did what you did to me, I never learned how to date. I never knew how to take it slow if I really liked someone. Most of the time, I had sex on the first night. But, back to this guy… I left his place in the morning, happy. Happy because I thought he was so great. Happy that we clicked so well, especially even during our conversations and interactions. Happy that I had finally moved on from putting a wall around my heart. And, happy that I could finally have met someone healthy that I could eventually have a relationship with. But, after a few days of texting back-and-forth, I blew it by texting him after not hearing back one time. I thought he had ghosted me. I texted him that if he was ghosting me (because my initial thought was yet again he just used me like most others do) to just let me know. That freaked him out. And, we were done until I brought him back into my life a month or two later, by hiring him as my web designer. We texted and chatted a lot. It wasn’t always about business. But, he made it clear that he didn’t want a relationship right now. I was willing to take whatever I could get from him. And, a little part of me thought that if he spent some time with me that he may actually start liking me. But again, all I had ever gotten is being used and discarded after what needs were met. And after a few months of texting and chatting and not seeing one another, I ended the personal chats. In my heart I knew he really didn’t like me. But, then about two months later I rekindled it because my heart still lingered for him and what could be.

I saw him one more time. He came over late to just have sex with me. It had been six months after we last saw each other. But my naïve, still juvenile, self still had hope that this would mean something more. It had to mean something, right? Sex wasn’t just this act, was it? This thing that men just do to you? About three weeks later, on my birthday, I asked him to come over. He nicely texted me and said he couldn’t do this anymore. That he wanted a serious relationship. And, he apologized if it was coming out of left field because he had said he didn’t want a relationship. I wished him the best, instead of telling him that that is all I ever wanted from him. But it didn’t matter because I think he already knew that.

After that text I threw my phone. I cried. Why not me?!?!!

Sadness turned into anger because it was just then that I realized the connection and who I was angry at. It was YOU!!

It was because of you that I was there, crying on my birthday, yet again a man telling me that he didn’t want to be with me. I was again not worthy for anything more than to have sex with. To be used and discarded. I had been there so many times. I even had a baby with someone that wanted nothing to do with me and my baby. He never even paid child support until he really had to, and by then my son was 22!!

I’ve never heard, I love you. I’ve never been close to knowing what it feels like when a man wants to commit himself to me. Commitment, marriage is something that happens to other people.

I wondered why I ended up in situations where a man didn’t want to be my boyfriend or future husband. I’d always say I had a bad picker. Part of me thinks that since that night that life told me that I was worth nothing more than sex, that even though I can be loving, sweet, gentle, smart, strong, dorky at times, that men will want nothing more than just to have sex with me. That they will not care to let me go. That they will never see me as someone special and want to always be by my side.

Yes, I’ve had guys that could have been those other guys. The other guys that valued my worth and wanted to be with me and not just have sex with me. But, I didn’t want them because I was subconsciously, reliving that moment. The night that everything change for me. The night and act that would haunt me forever as a ghost that I had never realized until now.

But, now I see you! I see the mark you left on me, by you doing what you did to me!! I think that I was just trying to master the situation and turn around what that did to me. I was trying to rewrite history. For decades, I was trying to prove that I had more value than just sex. I was trying to master and change the outcome. As in *The Body Keeps Score, “reenactments were an unconscious attempt to get control over a painful situation and that they eventually could lead to mastery and resolution.” Over and over and over again, I went through enormous amounts of pain and heartbreak without realizing that this is what I was trying to do! I wasn’t being authentic and speaking up to myself and for myself that I deserved better, I deserved more.

This is what you did to me!!!!! You took away 35 years of me potentially having been loved by another. Years of not knowing what it is like to have a family out of love. Years of not sharing life with another. Years of memories not shared with another adult.

You fucking suck!!!

But now that I am no longer in denial on what you raping me did to me, I won’t let this awareness of harm go. I will learn how to unlearn all this dysfunction that your rape did to me. I will be conscious and aware of the repeated patterns my subconscious will want to repeat. I will speak up and say that I want a relationship because I know my worth and I am kind of a great woman to know and be with.

I do not wish you harm. But, I do hope you feel a little sad and remorse about what you did to that beautiful 16 year old girl! And, me.

  • The Body Keeps Score, by, Bessel Van Der Kolk. pge.32 (on Julia) “There is no evidence for that theory-repition leads only to further pain and self-hatred.

FACTS

Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

Children and Teens: Statistics

  • In FY16 alone, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 57,329 children were victims of sexual abuse.
  • One in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.3
  • 82% of all victims under 18 are female.4
  • Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.2

The effects of child sexual abuse can be long-lasting and affect the victim’s mental health. Victims are more likely than non-victims to experience the following mental health challenges:5

  • About 4 times more likely to develop symptoms of drug abuse
  • About 4 times more likely to experience PTSD as adults
  • About 3 times more likely to experience a major depressive 

Everyone Is Affected by Sexual Violence

  • Every 68 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.1
  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).4
  • About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.4
  • From 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse.5
  • A majority of child victims are 12-17. Of victims under the age of 18: 34% of victims of sexual assault and rape are under age 12, and 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are age 12-17.

RESOURCES

If you or if you know someone who has been sexually assaulted, here are some ways to seek help.

National Sexual Assault Hotline

1-800-656-4673

#daterape #rape #survivor

*Other Image by, @the.holistic.psycholigist

Memories through a Photograph – Innocence Lost

Every once in a while I come across this picture. I have a few pictures from this night in 1986. I always had a camera handy to capture anything and everything. I’ve probably captured too many memories that most would like to forget. But, the more times that I have come across this image, I try to look for something deeper than just people posing to have their picture taken. I guess I try to look for the innocence or at least remember it or try to remember what it felt like. The innocence of that girl to the far right that was so stoked to be there because she had a crush on the guy next to her. The innocence of a night that a few acquaintances, that had only known each other for a few months, were getting together before she left to go back to her hometown in Texas. The innocence that would quickly disappear in a matter of hours because of the consumption of alcohol. The innocence taken from that girl that night. Did she have any inclination that a few hours later she’d be violated and her innocence would be taken from her?

The guy, Scott, that usually wore a tall blue mohawk and would skate up and down Sheffield Avenue, now had the same silly grin as she and was putting his arm somewhat around her to make her feel comfortable being in front of the camera. She was so happy. But, she was probably really uncomfortable on the inside because she didn’t know how to make sense of what was going on with the two people to the far left. The guy to the far left, she had been dating for the whole time that she was back in Chicago while staying with her two sisters. This was her second trip out there. She was only 16 and had dropped out of high school back in Klein, Texas. She’d come and stay with her sisters because it was hard to live with her alcoholic mother back in Texas. She and that guy had only recently, days before, broken it off. They had been dating for over a month. One night, heavily intoxicated, she came back to her sisters’ place after getting in a fight with him. She didn’t want to see him anymore because of his frustration with her not putting out. She had never had sex before. She liked him, but not in that way or maybe she just wasn’t ready. This was the first guy that she had ever dated and now, he was dating one of her sisters.

When I’ve seen this picture in the last few years, I can only imagine how many mixed emotions I was feeling that night. I still didn’t know how to make sense of much in my life, much less my emotions and new experiences. The only way I learned to cope was to either isolate myself in my bedroom, while diving into my depression, or drink too much. That night I drank too much. I remember just a short period of time after arriving at the cute guy with the mohawk and his roommate’s place.

I have a few pictures. I have a few minutes of memory after arriving, about a minute or two in the middle of the night, and the next morning when I got up to find myself naked next to a guy (Scott’s roommate) naked. I remember looking frantically, but quietly, for my clothes and my purse. I didn’t want to wake up this guy next to me that I remembered was on top of me in the middle of the night, naked, trying to put his penis somewhere down there, in me. At the time, I still hadn’t even known that a penis goes into a vagina. I was 16 going on 12. All I remembered was that what he was doing to me, hurt. The pain is probably what sobered me up briefly out of my blacked-out, passed-out self. I remember him grabbing for my hand to help him, and instead I was moaning in agony and was moving my hand up to his chest to try to push him off of me, before I just passed out again.

I had known hurt, sadness, and violence before. I had seen people that said they loved one another, but hurt each other like people that love each other shouldn’t. But, there was still a little bit of innocence when I look at myself in this picture before it was taken away from me. The world was still not yet completely cold,  dark and viciously mean.

All I can think of is how clueless I was. Clueless that someone would do something like that to another. Clueless of what had happened. Was that what sex was?

My 16 year old self, may have been clueless of what had happened (sex, rape) because not only had I never experienced sex, but it was also foggy from all the drinking I had done. It was like flashes of images of that night that has stayed with me for the rest of my life. I remember that morning feeling horrified as I finally put on what clothes of mine I could find and as I was trying to leave I ran into Scott in the living room. I was so embarrassment and shameful to see him. What he must had thought. Did he think that I had been a willing participant?

I said many times, over the following decades, of how it had happened and that thankfully I was passed out for most of it. That because of this, it really didn’t affect me as much as all the other things that had happened to me before that night and what would happen in the years that followed. But is that true?

Did the girl in that picture fully realized how colder, detached, and broken her heart had become after that night? Did she see the lingering consequences that night left in her to lead her into darker and more painful experiences in the following years to come?

She walked in as a little girl, saddened at times by what her life had given her so far, but was still hopeful that life might get better. And, in a matter of hours, she had walked out of those guys’ apartment into a world that was beyond her comprehension and her soul was too fragile to fully ever wanting to understand. At least through seeing this image over the years, I can now come to some acknowledgement of how much that night truly affected me and can connect some of the pieces of when and where it did encourage years and incidents of more abuse or disrespect. 

 

#rape #Daterape #rapesurvivor #teenrape

Loving My Long Hair

I love my long hair. I used to really love having short hair, also. When I was a child I remember my mom having my dad take me and one of my sisters to the barbershop to get our hair cut. We had long hair and my mom had a hard time brushing through it in the morning before school. We’d always scream and cry out, saying it hurt. It probably hurt because she was brushing it so harshly. So, she ended up having my dad take us to get it cut. I remember crying hysterically at the barbershop. Since about that time, maybe the age of five to about 17 years old, I would have either really short hair or shoulder length hair. I learn to like short hair but I don’t think I always looked the cutest with it. Then when I was 16 I shaved all my hair off except my bangs. I really loved that style at that time. Or maybe I just loved how brave I was to do it, especially in such a conservative state like Texas and city like the suburbs of Houston, where we lived. I arrived in California with that haircut and actually a lot of people liked it. But after growing it out, it was rare that I cut it to shoulder length. There were times that I did and I think the last time was in 2008. But cutting it short, later in life, I’d always regret it. There’s also been times that I’ve cut my hair off because I’ve been upset over a guy. Not like a Britney Spears moment, well maybe a little, but it has always been more like a freedom to rebel against what men preferred or what society considers beautiful.

grace

So it was funny this week, dealing with what happened on my birthday (see the blog post – Happy 51) that I had two dreams about cutting my hair. One dream was that I shaved it all off and the other dream was that I cut it to just above my shoulders. I don’t know if they were dreams or nightmares because I did wake up in the morning with the thought of, oh my god what did I do! Thankfully they were just dreams. But, I think my psyche was reminding me of those things I used to do when I got dumped or felt some sadness over a guy. I also think my psyche was telling me, Hey, that’s not you anymore! Look at what you did not do! He’s not that important!
In the end, I really truly love my locks. May be annoyed to keep my hair down all the time or style it, but I truly do love my long hair and will never let some guy come between me and my hair.

 

#longhair #breakups #britneyspears #britneyspearsshavedhead #gratitude #itwasonlyadream #lovemyhair #longcurlyhair

Overcoming the Fear of Speaking Up

I’ve lived in fear of speaking up most of my life. I’ve only challenged it sometimes. Covid and quarantining makes you really have time to think. It gives you the time to work on things about yourself that you may want to change or the things about your life that you may want to overcome. Speaking up or writing about anything and putting it out there for the whole world to see, without fear, is something I struggle with.fearful

Fear. It’s hard to be a writer and to be fearful. As a writer, knowing that fear will hold you back, is a hard thing to tackle and overcome. I write a lot about personal or private experiences and my thoughts or opinions on many matters. I am not scared of sharing. 

scared

Though, I am scared of retaliation or backlash or just plain physical harm or threats because doing so. A friend and I recently spoke about speaking up. We both come from addicted childhoods. Alcoholism. Never being allowed to speak up is a condition that comes from growing up in a household that had alcoholism in it. We are supposed to be seen and not heard. You can never rock the boat in a household where anything can set off the alcoholic or the other adult that has to maintain some kind of household that has to deal with an adult that is constantly making a wreck of their lives. So, when I was speaking with my friend, I had mentioned to her that I was in fear of a physical response more than anything. Sometimes I have also felt guilty, too. Even guilty of speaking up when I was hurting. As most adult children of alcoholics do, we swallow everything and try to remain silent. We bury our feelings, our thoughts, our words.

Never being able to speak up was hard. Because for the most part, if you spoke up or confronted anything, you’d sometimes get hurt. A slap could come from anybody. If someone didn’t like what you had to say even if you were being honest, you could be backhanded. Even from a sibling. So, I learned to never be confrontational. Yes sometimes I slipped up, regurgitated my thoughts, but I am only human and it was rare for me to do so.  

speaking upSo now as an adult, I have navigated to try to learn how to speak up without fear of harm and in a more civil manner than shouting or fighting, which is what I saw growing up. It’s hard to learn something you were never taught, so it has been challenging at times, but necessary. We must speak up when something is wrong, we must speak up and ask for a raise at work, we must speak up in court when you’re battling someone that keeps lying and doesn’t want to pay you child support, we must speak up and say what we are looking for in a relationship, and we must speak up on how we expect to be spoken to or treated. But, when I write and have written over the years my fear comes from people’s thoughts and opinions on how I should not say something about something or someone, even though time has passed and I hold no resentment. I cannot help it if they are in so much fear of secrets being revealed, their own shame for things they’ve done, or just that they like to maintain an image that is clearly perfection. None of us are perfect. Time has passed and people have learned and grown. But, some of us are trying to speak up to break the silence, break the cycle of keeping secrets and toxicity, tell others that they are not alone, and heal by sharing and talking to one another.

This fear that I have keeps me back. I’m scared of what will happen to me. The fear is based on physical harm more than anything. It’s just what I was trained as a child, not necessarily that it would happen as an adult. Let me tell you, the PTSD is real, but at least nowadays I am aware what the panic is and where it comes from. The physical harm could happen, but more than likely it wouldn’t. So it’s been hard to overcome this fear of physical harm coming from speaking your truth. But this morning in the rarest of moments that I’ve had, I know that I need to challenge this fear and stop being scared and hiding. I cannot be scared of what someone might do. I cannot be scared of what could happen. Fear in some cases, is irrational and it is holding me back as a writer. I must let go and live my life to the fullest.

Without fear there is only abundance. Without fear there is only freedom. Without fear there is only true fulfillment and happiness.
I will live this day and the rest, moving forward, walking through fear and not let it hold me back.

Adios 2020. Hello 2021!

2020 is over and I was reflecting on this tough year through my pictures.
A little year ago, at the end of 2019, I was so looking forward to 2020, which was going to end with a trip to my homeland, Peru. Things were going so well and the upcoming year looked so eventful and promising. But, one thing that life has taught me, over and over again, is that a lot is out of my control and that I should remember that I can get through mostly anything.
The year started off great. On the 1st day I started my commitment to regaining my health and dedication to be consistent with exercise. I challenged myself every weekend doing 5-7 mile walks at the beach and I actually stuck to it . My birthday at the beginning of March found me traveling to one of my favorite places, Santa Barbara. My son and his girlfriend even came up to spend the day with me. The original plan wasn’t Santa Barbara though. But, there was so much talk about a virus that was taking so many lives overseas and beyond and countries were starting to close down, trying to lessen the spread of a disease that was brand new. Within days of returning from my trip to SB, a complete shutdown and panic was setting in on Los Angeles and the world. We left work early on a Thursday with the intent to work from home for at least the coming week. I rushed to the market to fill up on groceries and any essentials. All week long we had heard about stores being emptied and toilet paper was scarce. For the time being my physical wellness had to wait. I was worried about how my mental wellness was going to take the thought of a deadly virus which had no cure or even remedy. It was only two years earlier that my depression reappeared after being gone for over a decade and a half. I had worked so hard in 2019 on myself and I didn’t want panic to make my life dark again. The worry of death was definitely going to be tested. I had so much I still wanted to see, so much I still wanted to do. I didn’t want to go yet or especially leave my son too early. Covid-19 was testing me. I quarantined by myself and didn’t even venture to a store or get delivery for over three weeks. I zoomed briefly with my therapist, but I was well aware after 1-2 meetings that now was not the time to dive into issues that still needed to be healed. The best thing for me was to try to make the best of my time and stay positive. But bike/beach paths were closed. The fear of venturing out to come across some who was unmasked frightened me. Just like weeks earlier with Italy and most of Europe, New York and Los Angeles and other cities across the country, everything had to wait. Life had stopped as we knew it and our daily lives were at a standstill.
Within a few months, I learned how to protect myself. I learned to work through my fear of dying too soon. I learned that even though I like to be alone, I don’t like to be lonely. I learned that I can be very resourceful and know how to stay busy and alone. I probably already knew that, but not to the level of weeks on end. 2020
Thankfully I kept working Monday-Thursday, just now from home. I easily gave up the occasional eating out. I picked up the commitment to myself at the beginning of the year and as soon as the beach paths opened up, I got back on my bike. I and the rest of the country dealt with the heartache that even in 2020 to some, black lives don’t matter. I embraced my son’s maturity and mind to take this virus seriously (he has asthma). I also felt proud that he protested and stood for the fact that Black Lives Matter and that he finally understood what his mom had warned him about for so long – that not everyone will see beyond his skin color and that even in 2020 his life doesn’t matter to some. I learned on a deeper level that I can truly commit to something. I was finally conquering my diet and was working off the 30lbs I gained after Matt’s death in 2011. 2020 was also the year that I fully got over my intimacy issues. Little by little over the prior two years, I was feeling like I was almost there, but not fully. I had put up a wall after Matt’s death, and really wasn’t sure if I was going to entirely want to love again. And, even though the man that taught me that I am over my heart being closed off didn’t work out, I learned through our one night together and weeks of communication that I could love again and I want to be fully loved.

Grace Lozada Author
Oh 2020, you kept me busy with having me dive deeper to see what I was capable of, what I did and did not love about myself and living situation, and so much more. I read more, I stimulated my brain more with word puzzles, I listened to more music, I got to witness a Congolese man being baptized in his final days during a baptism that was performed by people from the Congo, I kept up my love of taking pictures, and I pushed myself further on my bike rides. Another good thing that came out of meeting that man. He had said to me, “I bet you can ride further “. So I did, doubling my distance at times. I now do 25-30+ miles on my bike! I learned that I can easily adjust into new routines. Maybe when things get back to being better than they are now, I’ll look forward to my old routines finding their way into my new routines. I learned that I truly enjoy myself and still can amuse myself on my bike rides, taking pictures, or while just feeding the birds at the beach. My strengths, vulnerability, and perseverance is undeniable and if anything I wish to truly hold onto when I look back at 2020 is how much my child grew in this year and how grateful I am of my life and whom I have become. I look forward to this next year and the next, and the next after that, and the next after that! I’ll never take my life for granted.

Don’t call me Sexy!

Do I either have no reaction or pretend not to acknowledge when you call me, sexy? Yes. Other times I just cringe when I’m called, sexy.

Maybe it is because I don’t think of myself as sexy. Maybe I truly don’t like or understand the word, sexy, and why it is used. Maybe it is because I lost my virginity to a rape and when I used to (and sometimes still do) hear about rapes it was sometimes considered the female’s fault for what she was doing or wearing. Maybe because I think there’s more to a woman.

female writer

Or, maybe I sometimes see the word sexy as it’s definition:

Definition of sexy

sexually suggestive or stimulating : EROTIC

When I hear the word sexy, I think of sex and to entice.

I hope that 100% of the time, I’m not projecting that nor am I ever trying to come off as trying to do something to you than be myself. If you think that is sexy. No, it’s not.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love sex and I love when someone I’m with is really into me. So, it’s not that I am rigged, hate men, or have trauma. I just think the word sexy is kinda degrading, disrespectful, and gross.

female  author

You can call me beautiful. You can call me gorgeous. You can call me pretty. But please. Never call me sexy.

Stopping Traffic Documentary

Last month I finally sat down and watched the rest of the documentary, Stopping Traffic. I had previously watched the first half a month earlier. I believe that I have had it in my Amazon Prime watch list for more than a year, so it really took some time to muster up the emotions or triggers that I thought may arise. And, I just wanted the appropriate time and headspace to be able to sit through it and take it all in.

If you don’t know my story, somewhere along my journey in my early 20s I became a high-class call girl in Hollywood. It was the early 90s and I had been driving in from Huntington Beach, California with a friend to go to the Roxbury nightclub in West Hollywood. That’s where I met my future pimp. He had apartments over the years that girls would work out of seeing movie producers, executives, doctors, rich international college students, and some other wealthy men. It wasn’t until my girlfriend died that I made the move to Hollywood, unknowingly being lured into this life of prostitution.

It was a hard time in my life because I had never lost someone close to me and I was at a crossing point, of moving back in with my parents which was toxic or moving up to the City of Angels. So, even now 20+ years later, it still affects me.

I wrote about prostitution in college, while I was in the business. It was the impetus of writing my memoir, Evolving to Grace. I have had many large and brief thoughts and discussions on the topic of prostitution. The feelings I have for myself was that prostituting myself ate away at my soul and what little self-worth I had. It even had me dive back into a very familiar mindset, suicidal depression. What’s worse, it even almost got me hurt.

So, it was a big deal to watch this, maybe not just so that I can explore my thoughts again on my own experience, but the real bigger picture which is human trafficking. Were they going to merge prostitution in with human trafficking? I was curious about other people’s thoughts and what they are trying to address. 

Human trafficking has been a huge topic over the last years. The media and organizations have spotlighted the side of human trafficking which includes children being sold for sex. But, human trafficking is much more than that.

Based on the Department of Homeland Security, *Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.

Stopping Traffic, Stopping Traffic documentarythe documentary that can be viewed on Amazon Prime or downloaded on itunes, was focusing on children (including teenagers) sold, whether it be for labor, but typically, mainly for sex. This is by far the worst part of human trafficking and I believe that it is worse than any agency believes. It’s horrible and sad and I think more needs to be done about it. It needs to be spoken more in the mainstream and like the documentary addressed, it’s not just happening over there, in that country. It is happening all over the United States.

While I was in that life, I briefly met some girls that were a little younger than I. I was in my early twenties. I think they were over the age of eighteen, but I can not be for sure. They were girls that had a pimp that had a complete network of girls that traveled from city to city, walking the streets or running ads looking for work. It was very different from my situation. When they spoke about their situation, they made it seem like they were active, willing, participants, but even at my young age, I felt like that really wasn’t the case. There was fear behind their words when they would share their world, their life. Not only fear, but also no way to get out.

Stopping Traffic was a good documentary to show some sides and personal opinions of what can be done to “stopping human trafficking“. I don’t think though that they made a clear enough separate distinction between prostitution that is forced, coerced, and the sex work/trade industry. But, when it came to how and why some children end up being trafficked, they did an excellent job of addressing that. And, the creators and spokespersons on the film gave options on how the viewer can help and be aware.

As far as prostitution goes, there are so many different types of prostitution. Yes, forced or fraudulently coerced of any child and individual should be punished and stopped immediately, but the sex trade/sex work (also prostitution) industry shouldn’t necessarily be woven into human trafficking which I felt the film had a grey area when they spoke about it. It’s a broader picture to explore with many varying levels to it. Maybe for someone to make a documentary about.  

I’ll write more about prostitution and sex work at a later time.

But for now, I suggest watching Stopping Traffic. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

 

* https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/what-human-trafficking

Opening the Wounds – Black Lives Matter

Opening the wounds. Are we finally done tolerating the mistreatment of black people? 
I heard that said by a news-reporter this morning on Good Morning America – ‘Opening the wounds’. These past two weeks have definitely opened up the wounds for me and lots of people. My heart aches, but it also cries with hope.

It has now been two weeks since George Floyd was killed by a power-driven, racist Minneapolis cop. George Floyd is one of many African-American/Black men that are profiled as aggressive men that we, they, should fear, but as friends have mentioned, he was a gentle giant. His friend that was with him that day and witnessed his murder over the course of 8 minutes and 46 seconds, said that George was trying to defuse the situation. We’ve all seen countless videos of black men being killed by cops, only to have a brief spotlight in the media and a moment of outrage and sadness for what might have led to that happening. But, what’s circulating is that this is different. Or, at least we hope that it is! black lives matter
2020 has been a year that has taken us and the world to the edge of breaking because of the pandemic, having millions lose their jobs, not knowing where to get food to feed themselves or their children, and having us all lockdown for months. There has been time to become more introspective, pushing ourselves to realize what’s important, to slow down and appreciate time with family, learn and realize things we never thought we were capable of doing, and to value our health most of all. It’ll be written in history books. Most of us have grown by this experience and have not known perseverance like this ever before. But, has it taken being in lockdown, having so much time on our hands too really see what’s been going on for black people in the United States and that this is the time we will really make a difference, a serious step towards anti-racism?
Before you start thinking that I’m being pessimistic, I am also hoping with all my heart that there will be more than protests and riots and wanting everyone to think – Okay, what do we do now, how do we really change this, besides saying I’m not racist, I will teach my children to not be racist. That is always the first step. Teach love at an early age. Teach that there is beauty in all people and that everyone is equal and has the ability to do as much as anyone else.
Growing up Latina, new in this country in the 1970s and living in a predominantly white community, I learned about biases and racism early—towards myself, my family, and the less than handful black people in our community. I tell my son that I’m not sure when it started or why. Maybe it was a combination of where we lived in Ohio, being foreigners, and not looking like everyone else that I recognized that it was very obvious that it was not okay being different. And also, that 4 years after we moved to this country we could have been one of many families that sat in front of their TVs and watched Roots. That the combination of these things broke my heart and made me always have empathy, awareness, and sadness towards what people of color, especially black people, have to endure. I understood, to a degree, the racism that they have to deal with. Black people have to deal with a different level of racism and bias that if you are not black, you will never truly understand. Both people of color, brown and black, get held back by many because of judgments or stereotypes. Some people in authority want to just round up Hispanics and send them back to their country, while for black people, people in power are just okay with them being killed.black lives matterAs I wrote before, I’ve been talking with my son about what is going on. He is hunkering down about 30 minutes from me in Los Angeles, living with his girlfriend, and trying not to become a statistic because he has asthma and Covid-19 would not be great for him to catch because of his underlying condition. He is 25 now. And, he is half Haitian. For me, this time and moment now, with George Floyd’s death, the protests and riots are emotional because not only is he half black, but that he finally understands how he is perceived in this world.
A few nights ago, after he wrote a Letter from the Editor piece on what was going on (yes, he’s an Editor, writer, photographer for a huge music conglomerate), I told him, like I have probably shared many times, that I’ve been hoping for an end on how black people are perceived. That my heart has always been with them since an early age. That my best friend in 2nd grade was black and I was heartbroken when I was told that I could no longer be friends with her and that I didn’t care how much darker her mother was (my mom did). That when I saw Star Wars that I couldn’t decide who I had a crush on more, Harrison Ford or Billie Dee Williams – I think Billie Dee won that for many years because of films like Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues. That I’ve not only been slightly jealous of how beautiful they are, but that I have been captivated for years by the Maasai people in Africa and that I would love to go and photograph them. That when I’d later go to college, I chose to take African American History classes over any other history. That I was thrilled to meet Rev. Jesse Jackson before a Rainbow Coalition event. And when there were talks to end Apartheid in South Africa, I cried. I was beside myself in overwhelming joy when Nelson Mandela was freed, became President of South Africa and that I was able to see him when he came to Los Angeles. I still wear once in awhile the baseball cap I got from that day that represents his prisoner ID number. *”Prisoner 46664″ continues to be used as a reverential title for him.” That when I first met Tupac, that I was not only in awe because he 2Pac, but also that his mother had been a Black Panther. For more than 40 years, my heart has stood beside the African American/Black race. Every time a small coverage was shown of yet another death or mistreatment of someone of color, my heart broke. I voted in favor of some black politicians and wanted desperately at work to do a happy dance every time someone mentioned about President Barack Obama being first elected. I raised my son telling him, warning him, that people and especially cops will single him out just because of the color of his skin. But when we spoke after he posted what he wrote about the injustice of yet another black man being murdered that was obviously not resisting arrest or branded a weapon, that he finally embraces and understands what it means to be a black man in this country. I told him that for me and how he should embrace it, that it is beautiful. Black people are beautiful inside and out. They have given us so much. Our dances, music, sporting events, fashion, art, film, food, comedy, have been highly influenced by them. They have been inventors and scientists, like –

The Three-Light Traffic Light, Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923

Automatic Elevator Doors, Invented by Alexander Miles in 1887

Electret Microphone, Co-Invented by James E. West in 1964

Carbon Light Bulb Filament, Invented by Lewis Latimer in 1881

Color IBM PC Monitor and Gigahertz Chip, Co-Invented by Mark Dean c. 1980 and 1999

Marie Van Brittan Brown – Her original invention consisted of peepholes, a camera, monitors, and a two-way microphone. The finishing touch was an alarm button that, when pressed, would immediately contact the police. Her patent laid the groundwork for the modern closed-circuit television system that is widely used for surveillance, home security systems, push-button alarm triggers, crime prevention, and traffic monitoring.

Patricia Bath—laser surgical device. Bath is a contemporary inventor and ophthalmologist from Harlem, New York. She is the first black female doctor to receive a medical patent. In 1986, she invented the Laserphaco Probe, which has revolutionized the treatment of cataracts.

Charles Drew—blood bank. created the life-saving concept of large-scale blood banks, starting with research into the storage, processing, and shipment of blood plasma during World War II. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2015. Drew was born in Washington, D.C. in 1904. As a surgeon, researcher, and inventor, he invented the modern blood banks. Since World War II, his invention has gone on to save thousands of lives.

Frederick Jones—refrigeration machine. Jones was a self-taught engineer with a number of important inventions. His most notable invention was a refrigeration machine used to transport blood, food, and medicine during World War II.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams – In 1893, Dr. Williams became the first surgeon to performed open-heart surgery on a human. His patient, James Cornish, survived. 

Alfred L. Cralle (1862-1920) received US Patent 576,395 in 1897 for an “ice cream mold and disher,” or mechanical ice-cream scoop, which is the basic design still used widely today.

Lloyd A. Hall (1894-1971) developed a method for combining sodium chloride with crystals of sodium nitrite and nitrite to keep nitrogen in the air from spoiling food—a method still used today to preserve meats—and other food preservation techniques. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2004 

Lonnie G. Johnson (born 1949) may be most famous for inventing the Super Soaker water gun (US Patent 4,591,071), but he is also a former NASA engineer who now runs his own research and development lab working on clean energy solutions. In February 2017, the Lemelson Center featured him in our Innovative Lives program series, where he talked about his inventive life and varied career. The list goes on and on.

I could continue with so many more, but I just wanted to point out that they are just as accomplished. That they have shown a resilience that no other race could ever endure, while still knowing that all of us have used what they’ve so willing contributed to society.
Yet we sit here now, starting to come out of quarantine for months with another death of a black person by the hands of a cop. It’s 2020. We’ve made more progress and finally, all cops are not getting away with murdering a black man trying to say that either he was resisting arrest or they were in fear of their lives. Have we made progress? Yes. Have more non-black people stood alongside this beautiful race to say no more? Yes. Do I wish with all my being hope, finally, there will be such an enormous shift that people of color will see and get? Yes.
Do we need to do more? YES! black lives matter
This fight to end racism won’t stop here. We must continue to not forget, let our voices and votes count. We must teach our friends, family, community, and children that they are just like anyone else. Probably even more exceptional because they still get up every morning, smile and greet you, hoping that one day their brother or sister won’t become another statistic.

*Wikipedia

#blacklivesmatter #BLM #georgefloyd #justiceforbreonna

May is Mental Health Awareness month!

May is #mentalhealthawareness month. There have been quite a few times in my lifetime that I’ve come back from depression, suicide attempts, or just cycling through, what I thought was a breakdown at the time, but really was a transformation. For the most part, most of these moments were long ago. resilence

Nowadays, I am just so happy that I survived. I get choked up sometimes when I talk about it. All we ever want is for the pain to go away. And, I’m here to tell you that it eventually does. Life gets better if you work at it. Situations that you thought would just continue, come to an end. Choices you make can change the life end up having. You just have to learn to love yourself, do what’s best for you, and work through your past traumas.

Life is a beautiful thing and so are you! beauty

Wellness – Turning away from Negative Thoughts

I used to be consumed with negative ways, more so, my thinking was negative. It didn’t help that my situation at home sucked. Life within an alcoholic home (mother is/was an alcoholic) is very chaotic and it is especially worse when the alcoholic is not so nice when she is under the influence. Fighting, verbal/emotional/mental abuse, neglect/abandonment, and not knowing what next will erupt is not a situation a child should live in. A child needs a nurturing, loving, attentive, and consistent environment where they are guided to becoming a healthy, kind, and productive adult.

So, as an Adult Child of An Alcoholic, I am very aware that most of us that are either ACoA or come from dysfunctional families that our essence – mind, body, and soul are affected by the shame and abandonment that comes from these environments. We don’t know any different from our environment and especially our home life.

We come into this world as curious, happy, sweet beings. What we learn at first, especially in our first 5 years is critical to our brain development and sense of being. What is going on at home. How individual family members speak and treat each other. How they look at you and treat you. How they feel about themselves and the world. All this is taken in by you when you are a baby and child. All this has an effect on you and how you view the world, people, and yourself. Your self-esteem is formed. Your way of being is formed. Your cognitive skills are developed. The six types of cognitive processes are attention, perception, memory, language, learning, and higher reasoning. The processes are interdependent and occur simultaneously. Perception is very important here!

Basically. Your development. Your child development sets you up on how you grow into adulthood. I can’t discount that genes do play into who you will become. Your temperament also plays a factor. Coming from a family of four girls, me being the youngest, none of us grew up the same as far as it comes to our thinking or how we choose to live our lives. Our selves, our brain development, where the family was as far as in the disease of addiction and abuse, all have had an impact and made us very different in certain ways.

positivity

But, my negativity was one of the strongest at an earlier age. Looking back in some instances, this not only hurt me, but has also helped me in fighting against adhering to the dysfunction. But mostly, the negativity hurt me because I could not change my environment and could not find any other way but to be negative toward my environment which lead me to a continuous way of thinking that made my depression more severe and made how I viewed the world and people very badly. It was very pessimistic and the negativity made me view myself in a way that was way too harsh and unloving.

Examples of my negativity were – I just can’t do anything right. I’m so ugly. I’m so fat. I’ll never be good enough. Every single thing that happens bad in the world will happen to me. I hate myself. I hate my life. And I hate the way I feel.

Where is the freaking reset button?

Well, there was a reset button. It took many years, maybe even decades. I still have to stop myself sometimes. At some point, I realized that I had to change the way I thought. My perspective needed to change. And, once I started to re-learning how to think, how to view things, how to stop myself in my tracks in my brain and say things to myself like you are pretty, you are smart, you are strong, was it only then that I viewed myself, the world, and others in vibrant colors and warmth. I feel like I had always been loving and kind. With that being said, I was rarely ever a mean person. Most of my bad way of thinking was internalized. I am just saying that I believe I came into this world trusting and knowing how beautiful things and people are and how even in a difficult situation there can be a silver lining and a way to rise above. My being probably somehow yearned to be that person once again and it took some time to reprogram myself away from what I was introduced and conditioned to for so many years.

Changing my perspective has been once of the most challenging but life alerting things I have done.

By changing your negative way of thinking, to a more positive way, you then become more resilient, can handle issues in a more productive way, are less stressed, you lean away from depression (unless your depression is caused by a chemical unbalance or something else), and you just have a better outlook on life, the world, and yourself.

Please don’t focus on the wrong or negative. Give yourself positive affirmations and focus on the things you have done right or that are good about you. When you stop and think about what you are thinking, say positive things to yourself, changing your perspective. Don’t criticize yourself for thinking negatively. You are harming yourself by beating yourself up. Just redirect your thinking in a gentle and loving manner and find a new way. Much love ❤

positivity

If you are thinking of having a child, have children, or being a care-taker of a child, here are some good tips below. You can also read more about child development on Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child site and what they list as 8 Things to Remember about Child Development.

 

Parent Tip

Recent brain research indicates that birth to age three are the most important years in a child’s development. Here are some tips to consider during your child’s early years:

  • Be warm, loving, and responsive.
  • Talk, read, and sing to your child.
  • Establish routines and rituals.
  • Encourage safe explorations and play.
  • Make TV watching selective.
  • Use discipline as an opportunity to teach.
  • Recognize that each child is unique.
  • Choose quality child care and stay involved.
  • Take care of yourself.

Never take anything for granted

You really can’t take anything for granted. Family, friends, work, a paycheck, bike rides, sunsets, days off, taking pictures, hugs, kisses, holding hands, the beach, the sun, a walk at the beach or through a favorite museum, ACA meetings, eating out, and sitting in the sun for hours.Whatever it is, try to never take anything for granted. And know, that we make this little sacrifice to save lives.

Healing is a long journey

Healing is a long journey. It doesn’t happen overnight and I believe you’ll always be healing. But, you’ll move on to a better self and better life that you’ve created for yourself. Many unhealthy behaviors that you learned, will be unlearned by better choices. A lot of trauma that you suffered will be healed, but like I’ve heard many times last year, it’s like peeling away layers of an onion. So that takes time and despite what others say, I believe that some trauma may not be 100% healed, but will be replaced with coping and understanding.
With all that being said, I say YAY to HEALING, going through the pain, acknowledging the impact most things made on my life, and finding my way.
✌💗🙌

What you do today, affects tomorrow. ❤
#childhoodtrauma
Remember that you are always thought of.
Much love