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Counted harms... Countless Graces!!

Privilege is used to hide abuse… not only the abuses and oppressions of those “without”, but also that of those trapped within the confines of the elite.

I was born into a world of privilege, a family of middle class, to educated parents in a land of “wealth and plenty”. There I learned to pity those “less fortunate”, those living in economic poverty… but had no idea, as I hid and cried, that there were such things as physical, emotional and spiritual poverties as well.

I was in my teens before I recognized that my brilliant, but mentally ill father used social, economic and sexual coercion to control my mom, twenty before I acknowledged his physical domination over my sister and myself, and thirty before I knew the name of the emotional incest he perpetrated on me. I was thirty-five before I saw the conscious emotional abandonment and rejection by my mother, my “protective parent”.

And I am thirty-six today, as I start to distinguish the ways in which these cryptic injuries and the gender socialization that I have received with every other woman I know (i.e. even smart and athletic women are ultimately valued primarily for their desirability to men, a woman’s role is to make others feel comfortable both physically and emotionally, a woman who can love enough can change the behaviors of the poor, wounded men who perpetrate violence on them, etc.), have left me vulnerable to further detriment.

With my family and my culture having habitually intruded on my autonomy, I do not understand safe and healthy boundaries. I have continued to open my borders, not wanting to accept bitterness and blame, wanting to know the gentleness and care that I have not had before, yet I have experienced repeated violation instead.

How many times have men touched me without my consent, dismissed my voice, assumed a relationship that I have not agreed to, held dominion over me?

Twice in which tears streamed down my face and vomit rose in my throat, raped by men I was initially attracted to, but who ignored my self-rule. Seven years with a man twice my size who could control me with simply a hand on my chest, but who smashed windows, kicked with steel-toed boots and dangled me over staircases for added effect. Six years with a man whose words of hatred have left ugly gashes where physical ones never could persist… So many other numbers…

But I am taking new counts now… Twelve years of loving parenting. Ten years guiding other youth. Four years advocating professionally for women. Two years championing feminism. One organization that I am building. A million women linking arms with mine. 600,000 words to bring awareness. 20,000 leagues of compassion...

The rest of my days in which to apply my own privilege to creating a safe and just and joyful world for all women and girls.

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MaDube's picture

My dear, your story left me

My dear, your story left me speechless because I could see the raw naked emotion in your words. Dare I say I am proud of you and risk sound patronising, but the truth is I am proud of you. Coming from the other side, where we are less fortunate, the assumption is that we got the raw deal out of life and those who are affluent have got it easy and what they think are problems are not problems at all. This judgmental and myopic view has obvioulsy closed the space for women in your situation to talk and not sound ungrateful but the way you have expressed it here highlights the challenges in a way unparalleled. Keep on writing...

fem4femmes's picture

A swelling heart...

Thank you for your words of kindness and support! They leave my heart larger and I am strengthened in my determination today!!

Joy and laughter to you!!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Adepeju's picture

Absolutely brilliant piece

I'm joining you in your new counts of happiness :-)

fem4femmes's picture

Yay!!!

Counting on!! ... Limitless new friends to grow and make change with!!

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Adepeju's picture

*smiling* Check your

*smiling*
Check your messages...

Stella Paul's picture

Numbers are important

Numbers are important. They symbolize the amount of cruelty you were handed out and the level of soul crushing was done. But then, when you turn back, numbers are also what tell you the miles you have walked.

Yes, numbers are important;they tell you the heads and hearts you can now count as friends and well wishers. they will tell you how many of these friends are sharing your grief.

Numbers are important.But my love and support can cross the boundary of numbers. Love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

fem4femmes's picture

Counting together...

Stella- Thank you for the reminder that I am not traveling alone! It lightens the spirit to know that my experiences are shared and that each mile is one in which I am building new friendships, new love, new life!

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

amiesissoho's picture

Power of healing

I hope that letting others share your story without prejudice will be healing for you. You don't have to hide and cry any more. Sisters on pulsewire respect you for who you are to endure and have the courage to share it. I know you may be speaking for sisters out there in this big wild world who can never share the abuse they have faced from people close to them, people they trusted; but their world does not allow them to tell their story. Thanks so much for the courage to share yours.

Amie

fem4femmes's picture

Tears of joy...

Amie - as your name warns, you are indeed a friend of the heart! The safety and gentleness and encouragement that I continue to recieve here on World Pulse are healing indeed!

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Louisa_Russell's picture

Encouraging First Piece Marissa

You so personally and delicately explain the fierce political fact that no woman regardless of her race or class has escaped the fist of sexism. I appreciate that given the deck you got dealt you decided to carve out and count a good life not just for yourself but to go for the real thing - freedom for all. Because no woman is ever really free until all women are free and there is so much pressure to just focus on ourselves and making our indvidual lives okay. That alone will never cut it. It might work short term or partially but I like that you keep your eyes on the prize despite all the knocks.

fem4femmes's picture

Heartfelt...

THANK YOU!! - Dear, dearest friend of mine! Thank you for the many ways that you have taught me, challenged me and created a safe space for me to grow!!

I am so happy to have been able to share this with you and to receive your response! And I am eternally indebted to the Divine being that brought us together to share our journey and to strengthen and guide each other!

So much love, my treasured friend!!

m

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

usha kc's picture

Marissa,, My fren i am always

Marissa,, My fren i am always here to support you through my voice, through my feelings,, remain always with you dear.

fem4femmes's picture

Usha...

Counting your friendship this morning has begun my day with such joy!! Thank you and may you rest with peace and happiness tonight!!

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

nasreenamina's picture

Thank you

Beautiful to see is possible to go from pain to hope, and from hope to change. Xoxo

One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion

Follow me @DivinaFeminista

fem4femmes's picture

Hope..

Hope is where it all starts!! Thank you for hoping with me, the change we inspire will be that much greater!!

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Carlotta's picture

You write so well! And there

You write so well! And there we were always complaining about the material things that we did not have, yet we were blessed in other ways. I'm sorry about all the bad things that you suffered but am glad you emerged stronger, not broken. I shall be reading more of your journal entries. I feel i have a lot to learn from you.

fem4femmes's picture

Learning from each other!

Dear Carlotta-

Thank you for the very kind appreciation of my writing! It is hard for me to share sometimes, childhood fears of criticism keep popping into my head! I am so fortunate to have found a safe space like WorldPulse to share with such warm and generous women as yourself! We have much to learn from each other!

Peace and freedom today and always!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Okeny-Lucia's picture

You are special

Goodmorning Marissa,
Thank you ,my heart goes to you.Gal you are one woman of substance,I salute you dear.This is unusual to me,the many times of abuse,Gosh! Beastly human beings are walking in our midst,harming innocent souls.
Great work my dear friend.
Your strength is solid,I see you as a powerful person in mind and deed.Congratulation!
God Bless the work of your hands.
Live and let live

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

fem4femmes's picture

Heartfelt thanks!

Greetings, Lucia!

I have received your heart-gift and have been rejeuvenated by it! There are, unfortunately, those who will take advantage of the vulnurable and open-hearted... but the depth of compassion that I have been left with cannot allow me to regret any of it! It is when I think of all the other women who have experienced the same that I know I have chosen my true path!!

May your journey be joyful today!

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Celine's picture

Look on the Good side

Marissa my friend,

I read your story the first day but could not get myself to comment. Your story reminded me of a friend in my class during my first degree course.
However, I love the way you picked up courage in the closing paragraph recounting the good sides of your life. You are already giving more to society than you received. I urge you to forget about the bad times, dwell on the good ones in order to draw strength for your upward journey. You have a lot to contribute to improve world and the world so much need your valuable contributions. You are a designated change agent, a powerful voice for change.

Love,

Celine

fem4femmes's picture

There is an American song...

Celine-

There is an American song, whose singer I do not know but whose words echo often in my head... "I love this crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful, beautiful life!"

It is so true that much of life is painful and dark, but those are the moments that help us best recognize the beauty and light that never cease to surround us! While I cannot forget the past, I am dedicated to using it as a guide for my own growth and a guage to remind me that I do not know another soul's struggles, and so must cultivate constant compassion.

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. They settle heavily within me, so that I may not forget them either!

Much love and thanks,

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

lorraineumwiza's picture

Brilliant

Thank you for telling such an important story of resilience and amazing learning. You are awesome.

fem4femmes's picture

Radiating goodness...

Thank you for your encouragement! I woke this morning to read about the passing of Professor Wangari Matthai... the sadness that must be felt in Kenya and the world today! And yet, even that is a reminder of how much change we can effect working together!!

As she said, “We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind.” - I am so glad to feel your radiating goodness warming my day!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Tari Andrea's picture

What an Excitement!

Dear Marissa,

I'm pleased to meet you here. Starting to read your story from the beginning, i was frozen. Your story is so touchy, inspire other people (not only women but everyone) to live their life with dignity-- against violence, and equal opportunity. In some cases, I've seen the stories of women trafficking, women with disabilities, and others. They most have the same point with you, it's ll about being STRUGGLE, the way to OVERCOME 'problems', and how to SURVIVE. You are a brave woman who has passion to lead women's voices; to speak; to bring changes. Also to eradicate Gender Based Violence (GBV). You've brought positive impacts to society, caring others, and have learned a lot from your pasts! Personally, I'm truly inspired and would be happy to know more of your following stories.

Have a blessed day!

Tari
Indonesia

--
M&E of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
Indonesia

"Be the change that you wish to change." - Mahatma Gandhi.

fem4femmes's picture

Inspiration...

Dearest Tari-

Thank you so much for your encouraging words!! My own resolve is strengthened daily by the amazing words and work of the women here on PulseWire. The dignity and dedication shared here is the inspiration. I am so blessed to have connected with you today! Thank you for all you do for the women of Indonesia and the world!

Courage and light to you today!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Potter's picture

Alternative Math

I love how you are discovering and affirming a new calculation of your experience. You are claiming the lessons of a difficult journey as tools to build positive futures for yourself and all women and girls. Your voice is honest and brave and compassionate. I want to hear more! Keep writing and posting. The world needs to hear more and more from you!

fem4femmes's picture

Happy futures...

Dearest Jana-

If the future means reading with Madame Banana in a comfy, red chair then it is positive indeed! So much gratitude for your encouraging appreciation! It is profound, how authentic recognition from amazing women like yourself is helping to free my voice and my courage! Thank you!!

So many purrs and smiles to your day!!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

DinaYazdani's picture

Very touching

I think many women around the world are nodding in agreement to what you are saying. Your personal story is touching, and your hopes and goals for all women to realize their own potential is inspiring. Inshallah women from all over will recognize the stories you tell as ones they have experienced as their own and refuse to take it any longer as you had. Thanks for writing, and best of luck!

Dina

Email- Yazdani.Dina@gmail.com
Twitter- MojoThinkTank
Blog- TheGlobalConsciousness.Wordpress.com

fem4femmes's picture

Gratitude!

Dina-

I don't know how I missed your comment!! Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging recognition! My hope is that by sharing my own story, the multitude of women who have been taught to be ashamed and to shoulder the burden of blame for the harms committed against them, will know that they are not alone! - And your own presence reassures me in the same way!

Thank you for your unity and support for all women!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

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