For those of you not in the know, my husband and I ended our marriage in January of 2016. The split was amicable but difficult for us both. After the separation, I was treated to the customary vitriol associated with being a woman in possession of a nefarious, magic muffin. I was called a whore and other uplifting names. Blame for the split was placed squarely on my shoulders, despite the fact that my husband and I repeatedly told people this was our personal business, the split was amicable, that the two of us wished the best for one another, and that the split was for the best. I was further attacked for not having physical custody of our daughter and these character assaults, ironically all from women, were harsh, hurtful, damaging, and isolating, and not only caused me pain but my family as well. To this day, my ex remains my closest and most trusted friend.
In March of 2016, my father died of cancer. This was particularly difficult for me to not only accept but to deal with, and in May of 2016, I decided a move might make healing easier, so I relocated to Charleston, SC to finish a mystery series based on the area.
Last night, I received a phone call from a well-meaning individual who wanted to inquire about my mental health. He said I seemed angry and negative and this stood out to him in contrast to the positive, happy person I had been a year ago. This man suggested that it was my duty as a writer to empower others, and to be positive and uplifting. This man has followed me for three years and gently urged me to get help and to get back to writing and being the happy, positive influence on others I had been in the past. Before I go on, I would like to say thank you to this person for taking the time out of his day to ask if I was okay, and for even noticing anything amiss in my personality at all.
I’ve repeatedly had to defend the passionate way in which I address human rights violations. Worse, I have to defend even writing in the dark fiction genre. I’m not sure if my male activist friends and male dark fiction/horror writers are ever routinely asked if they’re angry, but I kind of doubt it. Usually, men like this are respected, called leaders and strong, and offered other attributes of praise for their words/work. I won’t linger on this issue, as I’ve addressed it SO MANY FUCKING TIMES. Suffice it to say, in my literary and activist pursuits, I’m not an angry woman, and you can all fuck off with this sexist shit.
However, I am going through some things in my personal life and do have some anger to deal with in regard to those issues. After the separation and my father’s death, I became depressed. I also suffered from empty nest syndrome, which is nothing to take lightly, as I’ve discovered. Writing was impossible under the emotional duress so I focused instead on victim advocacy and began working full-time in the hope that these distractions might help the words to return. I was working on two books, and the content was especially dark, much darker than I had the capability to endure with the turmoil in my personal life being so heavy. I rejected two book deals in the last few years. They were shit deals. I have been writing sporadically here and there, but not with any consistency, and this is not ideal for any novelist, but I will resume writing on a regular basis when I am ready, and I will publish the novel I finished in March of 2016, just not anytime soon.
During my time in Charleston, I was sexually assaulted six times. The last sexual assault, which occurred barely a month ago was terrifying and worse than any other sexual assault I’ve experienced in my life. I’m a survivor of child abuse, child sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, and various sexual assaults from people I knew and trusted and from strangers alike. I’ve dealt with multiple stalkers as well. I’ve been sexually assaulted sixteen times in total, and reported all but the last six assaults to police. In these reported cases, only three men served jail time. Together they served a grand total of two nights and three months jail time before being released back into society. There are people serving longer sentences for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. So, no, I did not report the last six instances of sexual assault, because what’s the fucking point?! I wish I could say this number of sexual assaults/abuse was my experience alone, but sadly, this is the norm for women around the world, and it doesn’t look like that situation will end. Ever.
Currently, I’m experiencing PTSD from the last assault. I did everything right. I didn’t mislead my attacker or make him think I was attracted to him in any way, I was not dressed provocatively, I was not drunk, nor was I out in public at night, alone. I was asleep in bed. I must have said no at least fifty times, if not more. When I chose to confide in others, these were the responses I received from each person:
Was he drunk? Where was my boyfriend?
Really?! I shouldn’t have to point out the fundamentally flawed thinking in these responses. The majority of rape and sexual assault/abuse cases go unreported because of the lack of justice and due to this type of blame placement/victim blaming. Alcohol was not to blame for my sexual assault nor was this my boyfriend’s fault for simply not being present. The blame rests solely on my attacker. It was his fault and his alone.
Which brings me to the point of this post. I don’t believe myself to be a public figure in any sense. I apologize to anyone who feels I’ve abandoned them during my hiatus from writing. I’m not responsible for your happiness. My duty as a writer is to tell you a story. That’s it. I’m not even responsible for your interpretation of that story. A story is all I owe you. Nothing more. You are responsible for your own happiness, and if you’re experiencing trauma or pain in your life then I encourage you to seek professional help.
I take my mental health seriously, and once I’ve healed, I’ll resume writing. Even after I’ve healed, I’ll still be accused of being an angry woman. I get that. This patriarchal society hates “outspoken” women.
I thank everyone for their concern and ask that you respect my privacy and my family’s privacy, as they do not wish to be a part of whatever my affiliation is with the public. Some of you have gone as far as to send messages of a sexual nature to my eldest daughter, and this is not okay. For the sake of my family’s safety and privacy, and at their request, I will no longer mention them publicly.
I am grateful to all my readers and followers, especially to those of you who have been with me from the beginning. Thank you. I am especially grateful to the man who took the time out of his day to inquire about my emotional well-being. Thank you for noticing, thank you for caring, and thank you for being a friend.
Know that I’m safe, I’m in counseling, and in time, I will be okay, but for now, let me be angry, let me be sad, and let me heal.
“Write something,” he said in the thirty-fourth of thirty-eight messages sent at 5:14 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. “Anything. Share it. If you want to be a writer, this is what you do. Write.”
The only problem I had with the advice is that I am a writer. A published author, in fact. His words utterly dismissed my hard work and the accomplishment that comes from having published.
I knew this writer from my critique group days. We worked in two groups between 2012 and 2014 during which time, I sent a critique to the man admonishing what I felt was a misogynistic writing style. I cautioned that he risked alienating a large fan base with such a voice. Upon further reflection, I apologized for what I felt might be censorship. He accepted my apology and I put the incident out of my mind.
We stayed connected through social media randomly messaging one another for feedback and encouragement on various writing projects.
I managed to publish my first novel in 2015 and then completed my second novel. After several traumatic life changes, I decided to take some time off from writing to focus on myself. I heard from him a few times during my writing sabbatical. Once, he called offering to help me move, suggesting we go out for drinks afterward. Having already moved, I declined the offer. No big deal.
Our contact remained sporadic but friendly until recently when he called my cell at three a.m. to ask if I was in town. My SO asked who was calling so late, and hearing him, my friend responded, “He’s asking the wrong question. He should be asking why I’m calling.”
The conversation continued as awkwardly as it began, consisting of incoherent ramblings with disjointed references to that critique I had sent some three to four years prior with an odd fixation on my sexual relationship with my ex and my sex drive level. Uncomfortable with the discourse, I informed my friend that my SO and I were retiring for the evening and suggested we resume the conversation later in the day. When I woke, I discovered the following message to which I tried to offer a polite response. He messaged again, but I decided not to respond.
My silence prompted a barrage of early morning messages, thirty-eight of them, to be exact.
And so, after a year-long hiatus in writing, I felt compelled to sit down and pen this carefully thought out response:
LOL. What the actual fuck? I’ll pass on the critique as, after all these years, your writing is still nothing more than misogynistic drivel. That whole rejected male/fragile ego plot is played out and oh, so cliché, though it lends itself well to your tired, redundant adjectives and poorly written insults. Feminazi? Really? Yawn.
I’d love to write more but must get back to social justice warrioring, but I’ll leave you with the words you requested:
In a move that has both stunned and angered Sanders supporters, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton today. Activists have expressed their anger and shock at this recent turn of events and many have become discouraged and disillusioned with the movement, forgetting the core fundaments of Bernie’s campaign.
Many Americans have come out in support of the Bernie movement in recent months, giving their time and money in support of the presidential hopeful, propelling the grassroots movement from obscurity to its now millions of supporters at home in the U.S. and abroad. But many, focused merely on a four-year Sanders presidency, have missed one important core fundament of the movement: “This campaign has never been about any single candidate. It is always about transforming America.” (Bernie Sanders speech in Burlington, Vermont). Many activists have become burned out in their efforts to end the corruption of the two-party system and by their efforts to elect a man whose record is without blemish or scandal, a man whose life has been devoted to the American people. In his wisdom, the 74-year-old senator, has done more than plant the seeds for a revolution. He has ensured that the movement doesn’t die:
“Election days come and go. But political and social revolutions that attempt to transform our society never end. They continue every day, every week and every month in the fight to create a nation of social and economic justice. That’s what the trade union movement is about. That’s what the civil rights movement is about. That’s what the women’s movement is about. That’s what the gay rights movement is about. That’s what the environmental movement is about.
And that’s what this campaign has been about over the past year. That’s what the political revolution is about and that’s why the political revolution must continue into the future.
Real change never takes place from the top down, or in the living rooms of wealthy campaign contributors. It always occurs from the bottom on up – when tens of millions of people say ‘enough is enough’ and become engaged in the fight for justice. That’s what the political revolution we helped start is all about. That’s why the political revolution must continue.”
Which brings me to my point. I’ve joined every Bernie activist group on Facebook I could find. My email’s inbox is full of emails from activist groups whose only purpose is to see Sanders in the White House. I’ve signed more petitions on Bernie’s behalf than I can count. I voted for Bernie in my state’s primary. And being in these activist groups, I’ve come to know and love so many wonderful people. Lately, I see many who are discouraged. I see many who feel they aren’t doing enough. Many who wish they could do more. I see many people who are angry at Bernie’s endorsement of Hillary. They’re discouraged and feel betrayed. They feel the Establishment is too corrupt to be defeated.
To those people, I want to remind you that your efforts have not been in vain. Your financial contributions, your phone banking, your petition signing, your tireless attempts to educate and inform other voters, and the countless hours spent canvassing neighborhoods, all that you’ve done to turn this “fringe” movement into the revolution it has become, none of this has been in vain.
But you must not get discouraged. You must not allow yourselves to fall into the manipulative mode of thinking that all is lost. You must not become burned out. You must not feel betrayed. You must not feel inadequate no matter how small you believe your role is in this revolution. We the people, the millions of supporters backing Bernie Sanders, WeThePeople are the life of the movement. Though we’ve regarded Bernie as a savior of sorts, we have to understand that this isn’t about one candidate. It’s not about this election. It’s a revolution.
I’ve found that sometimes the most important part of activism is keeping others from getting discouraged or burned out. Don’t give up. Breathe life into the revolution. Urge others. Organize the efforts of others by concentrating and directing your fellow activists on necessary and time sensitive goals (like getting Jill Stein on the ballot in all fifty states). When you see a fellow activists burning out, stoke the fires and fan the flames.
Realizing that this movement isn’t solely about one candidate, and owing to the corruption of the DNC, the voter suppression, gerrymandering, and fraud committed against the American people, I’ve not simply focused on Bernie Sanders. I’ve spent hours phone banking for Jill Stein, my plan B. If Bernie isn’t on the ballot, I want someone on it who represents the American people and not Corporate America. Jill Stein is a true progressive candidate with the Green Party. I won’t vote against my conscious nor will I continue in the lesser of two evils cycle.
It’s time for the 99% to unite against the 1%. We are the life and breath of the Sanders movement. We the people are the revolution, and united WE can take back democracy. Don’t give up now. The Revolution continues.
“Real change never takes place from the top down, or in the living rooms of wealthy campaign contributors. It always occurs from the bottom on up – when tens of millions of people say ‘enough is enough’ and become engaged in the fight for justice. That’s what the political revolution we helped start is all about. That’s why the political revolution must continue.” (The Transcript of Bernie Sanders’ Vermont Speech)
Historically, women have been underrepresented in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and many women pioneers have seen their work credited to men, their contributions in STEM omitted from history books. Still, there are women today who are making great strides in STEM, paving the way for and inspiring young women throughout the world to pursue STEM careers of their own.
I’ve never met Ey Abellana, a nineteen-year-old engineering student from the island of Mindanao, south of the Philippines. She messaged me one day to say hello after we connected on social media through a joint interest. I told her I loved her work. She always looked like she was having fun and always had a smile on her face. She responded, “Oh, I’ve just mastered the art of looking at things in a different light, though it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.” She asked what I did and I told her I was a writer. I asked the same of her, curious about her work, about which she frequently posted. “I can never compete,” she said. “I’m a student and a peace, equality, and environmental advocate. So mostly I do community works if I’m not sitting in the four corners of my room.”
Her response struck me in its modesty and overwhelming underestimation of the sheer importance of what she’s accomplished at such a young age. She said I inspired her, which was exactly how I felt about her work. I was deeply moved by the depth of her humanism and activism. Thus began a series of messages to this young woman in Mindanao whom I’ve come to greatly admire. I share her story in the hopes of inspiring other young women to pursue their dreams and to inspire those like-minded individuals who are working so hard in their own communities as activists and advocates.
Ey (pronounced like hey without the ‘h’ – a nickname that represents the triple AAA initials of her real name) describes her work and place in it as luck at having been given platforms to do the work for which she’s passionate. Ey refers to her work as little things. Yet another understatement of magnanimous proportions for which she has an endearing knack.
Ey describes Mindanao as an island stereotyped as unpeaceful and troubled by armed conflict. This conflict led her to question true peace and whether it was attainable. She began volunteering with small NGOs for indigenous people, applying for different youth programs which enabled her to meet and understand people from the different areas of the island she called home.
The conflict she referenced began in the late 60s when an armed Muslim group (Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF) sought a Moro homeland to which the Philippines government gave a militaristic response that resulted in numerous deaths and the civilian displacement of both Muslims and Christians. The 70s found the government and MNLF in peace talks and led to a peace agreement with the main armed front of MNLF. However, armed conflicts continued to occur between the government and a second opposition group known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. As is so often the case, non-combatants are caught in the crossfire, resulting in homelessness and human rights violations. Ey lives in the peaceful city of Davao, but has friends in Mindanao who have been affected by the fighting. They call her a city girl. “MNLF call themselves freedom fighters. The Moro rebels want to gain independence and autonomy like a full cessation based from historical oppression. In our forums, we also meet their leaders. All they want is peace. But displacement from home, war and bloodshed are happening. We are hoping the incoming government can end it all.”
Ey is an advocate of three things: environment, women empowerment, and peace. She says these things led her to the different phases of her life and she didn’t realize until later that they were all symbiotic. She was raised by four women, amazing women she calls them, with no father figure. Her mother is strong and independent, one aunt is career oriented, and she describes her grandmother as gentle and forgiving. Mamu, another aunt, is charismatic. She says the four women gave her life lessons growing up, and having come to know Ey, I would say those lessons were well learned. One can see the embodiment of those life lessons and the characteristics she attributes to these four women in all that Ey does and in who she is as a person.
Of her advocacy on women empowerment she says, “Although I haven’t been involved much in community based programs with this advocacy, I believe that who I am at the moment is because of my vision for myself: to become an independent woman who believes in and empowers other people.” Something I would say she’s more than accomplished. Her current focus is the environment. She began scuba diving over a year ago. “There are moments in our lives so defining that it directs most of your actions into something else. Beneath the ocean, I found my Narnia. Something that I really wanted to protect.”
Ey is a Geodetic Engineering student, which she describes as physical and mental work. Geodesy is a branch of applied math and earth sciences, a scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth (or any planet), including its gravitational field, in a three-dimensional time-varying space. Geodesists study geodynamical phenomena such as crustal motion, tides, and polar motion. For this, they design global and national control networks, using space and terrestrial techniques and rely on datum and coordinate systems (Wiki). In typical Ey fashion she downplays the importance of her studies. “Big words when in reality it’s just measuring everything with a steel tape. With engineering, I wasn’t really interested in it if I’m to be honest. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, a linguist or a communication analyst. Math is something I never excelled in, and maybe that’s the deal breaker, but I’ve always wanted to break free of my comfort zone so I took engineering. I wanted to be a real lady in a man’s world.”
At nineteen, she’s already accomplished a great deal. “After I get my degree, I really want to get teaching units. Maybe teach indigenous kids. Or law, be an environmental lawyer perhaps? Haha, it’s got nothing to do with engineering per se. If given the right scholarship though I really want to practice engineering abroad while I study. I think it will be a great immersion for me so that when I return to my country, I can share more of the world.”
For women considering a career in STEM, Ey offers the following advice, “It’s not gonna be easy. Even if they say that we’re living in the 21st century, people will still doubt you. You are still not going to get that job, not that project, not that position because you’re a woman. Be courageous in saying and proving that you can do what men can do and sometimes even better.”
Ey has encountered discrimination from some of the most unseemly places. “I don’t understand how some of my professors say we’re not fit for the job because we’re girls.” Early on women are being deterred from pursuing STEM fields by their very own educations but Ey says the discrimination continues with internships. “They say, oh, you’re a girl. Are you sure you’re willing to give up that skin cream? That’s literally the first question. Not even skills related. I only had three female engineering professors, one of whom went from being a field engineer to teaching when she didn’t get the chief position she was over qualified for on account of her gender.”
Ey ended our interview with an inspiring message by including her favorite song, “My Wish For You,” by Rascall Flatts. I continue to be amazed by her work. Ey Abellana, like so many in her generation, are making the world a better place for all living and for future generations. Little things, she calls them, but those little things are making a huge impact in Mindanao creating ripples of change and inspiring others around the world to do little things of their own.
*With special thanks and my deepest gratitude to Gomer Legaspi for his contribution regarding the Mindanao conflict. Thank you.
I’ve been writing on family court corruption for the last two years, focusing specifically on IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) and women, since statistically, women make up a larger portion of victims. IPV is focused on because it’s present in nearly every case of family court bias and corruption. While this advocacy is important for many reasons, it does little to unite protective parents and sometimes singles out protective fathers who may or may not be victims of abuse themselves. And yet, with all this activism, advocacy, awareness, and legislative change, I still hear the same question asked by victims of family court corruption: Why is there still no change? The advocacy and activism approaches made by various groups have garnered a mainstream awareness and fought tirelessly to pass new legislation so I’m not knocking these various activist groups or organizations. They have helped countless victims and some of these groups have become family court watchdogs doing their best to set new case precedents while placing family court judges and lawyers in the media’s spotlight, important because judges are protected by immunity for their rulings.
Still, all this activism and awareness has done little to combat family court corruption, a war against families that was documented as early as the 1800s when large numbers of Native American children were removed from their homes and placed in Indian Boarding Schools. The Indian Adoption Project began in 1958 resulting in some 2300 children being adopted or placed in foster homes. [Restoring Native American Families, PBS]. Many will argue, rightfully so, that this was cultural genocide, and I agree, but I would like to point out two glaring realities of both the Indian Adoption Project and today’s family court corruption saga:
Stealing children from loving homes is not new in America.
The Government is trampling parents’ rights, telling parents that they know what’s best for our children.
There is some debate on whether family court corruption is a conspiracy and to that end, I’ll simply quote a fellow activist and point out that if judges had nothing to hide, they wouldn’t issue gag orders in these cases. In my own case, the lawyer informed me it was a common practice to pay off certain expert witnesses and others like family counselors and therapists. There are cases where judges have overturned decisions favoring one parent to then award custody to abusive parents, and in nearly all of those cases, the judges have had documented evidence of child abuse and domestic violence and issued gag orders against the protective parents involved. Why the sudden change of heart? I’ll leave you to ponder that, but if you think that family court isn’t earning monetary profits, you’re woefully naive or willfully blind. These cases have been well-documented and submitted in a petition to the UN by the Women’s Coalition. The money in these cases can be tracked on a federal level. It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s a fact.
But there’s a side to family court corruption that we don’t often hear about and those are the stories of the children who’ve been separated from their loving parents. Rarer still, are the stories of children taken from loving fathers and placed with abusive mothers. The following is Aaron’s story.
The Synanon program was founded in 1958 in Santa Monica, California by Charles Dederich. The program was an alternative community originally designed to be an alcohol and drug abuse rehabilitation program. Later, Synanon became the Church of Synanon, infamous for its cult-like practices. One of these practices, in particular, called The Game, was a method of therapy wherein members brutally criticized one another. The Game eventually became a 72-hour practice and effective brainwashing technique. Synanon reportedly made members shave their heads and forced divorces, abortions, and vasectomies. Members were beaten if they broke the rules or tried to escape. Matt Novak’s, “The Man Who Fought The Synanon Cult and Won,” describes these practices and others in greater detail. Eventually, The Church of Synanon was investigated for illegal activities, including murder, and lost their tax-exempt status with the IRS.
Once Synanon disbanded in 1991 (though a branch may still be in operation today, in Germany), a new program was created based on Synanon called Amity. Amity, like Synanon, is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, founded in 1969 in Tuscon, Arizona. They received federal grants and began a program for convicts arrested on various charges.
Aaron lived with his mother where he was regularly beaten by her boyfriend, Jamie. He describes his life with his mother, “I would pull needles out of her arm in the morning. I remember the blood in them. I spent most of my time away from the house. A week before she went to prison, I got up to go to the restroom and there she was partying with everyone as usual but with a shotgun. She said, ‘I thought I told you to go to bed!’ But with the gun pointed at me and everyone was laughing. Fifteen minutes later she shot out the back sliding glass door and the dog. Almost killed it.” Aaron’s mother, a heroin addict, was arrested on a weapons charge and for the destruction of government property after she drove through a military fence with a loaded .357.Following his mother’s arrest and conviction, Aaron lived with his father. “I got stabilized and started to excel in school, even got invited into a program for those that score high. I stopped fighting. It was the only time in my life that was normal.” Aaron was six-years-old when his mother was arrested.
Aaron’s mother’s weapons charge earned her a year in prison. Two former Synanon coordinators worked with Amity, and one of those, a woman whom we’ll call, Jane, went to court for Aaron, the first child at Amity. Aaron refers to Jane as his handler in the Amity program. Aaron’s mother’s release from prison was incumbent upon her entering treatment with Amity. Aaron entered Amity in late 1980, early 1981 and spent two years in the program, living in two different Amity facilities. He was seven-years-old upon entering Amity and nine when he left.
When asked if his mother’s treatment at Amity had been successful, Aaron responded, “No. The Game destroyed her. They had her on the stage for three weeks, yelling at her, calling her names. It was a very, very mean and hateful thing. I had to watch that. This was in the beginning, at the first location out in the desert before Circle Tree Ranch. Jane seemed to have it out for her the whole time. Jane taught me the Game well. She used me to destroy my mother often and all the men. I could make them cry at Jane’s request.” Aaron added, “I was taught by Jane that my mom deserved it. “Jane was comforting amidst the mental torture and games. I was lost. I had daily meetings with Jane for months to counter that effect. Watching peeps and my mom getting viciously attacked every day … Jane counseled me at first, confused me more like, it got to where I was mean to everyone. She had to tone my reaction down. Jane was very likable. I even asked her to be my mom. How fucked is that?
“They used the Game to full effect. Complete with isolation, gas lighting, stonewalling, and every cult trick. It evolved in the 90’s to psychiatric versions, like the confrontation therapy used by Tuscon Psychiatric when I was sixteen. Sucked. All the rich kids ganged up on us poor kids with the help of staff. That is another horrible story, though. Basically, the Game is the breakdown method in use today. I was just some kind of test rat.”
The Game wasn’t the only Synanon refrain members were forced to endure. Aaron recounts bonfires that were strange, “like some cross between therapy and church.” Amity members were forced to watch the Synanon movie. He adds that men and women were kept separated in their own quarters. Of Amity, Aaron states that it was tame in comparison to Synanon. I asked if he’d noticed cult-like behavior at Amity, practices like those used at Synanon, and Aaron replied, “That is where Synanon differed. [Amity] didn’t outright do that stuff unless you ran.”
While in Amity, Aaron was watched by his two “buddies,” members assigned to keep watch over him. When he left the Tuscon facility and relocated to Circle Tree Ranch, Aaron’s experience changed. He’d met a young girl there named, Jill. “At Circle Tree, one of the Watchmen molested my friend Jill. The Watchman did this every night next to me. He threatened to kill all of us. I turned him in at school. He went to jail, but things got weird there. That is when people started to go missing. After I found the knife, wallet, and watch … it wasn’t long then, even my mom ran.”
Aaron believed those who had gone missing had run away and says there were no investigations into their disappearances. I told him it must have been a difficult thing to be so young and have the courage to turn in the Watchman for Jill’s abuse. He replied, “It was more difficult to keep watching. Jill hated me for it cause she thought someone might kill her mom. She stopped talking to me.”
Aaron’s mother abandoned him at Amity when she fled. He called his father to pick him up. “My dad had no clue why I was so screwed up. Didn’t know what to do. I was very depressed.” He later moved to Massachusetts to live again with his mother who eventually relocated to Tuscon, and last Aaron heard, was leaving the Covenant House, a Christian half-way house.
As we were wrapping up the interview, Aaron made a couple of chilling observations, “When the program outside of Tucson [Synanon] was going on in the 70s it was far messier. Kids came up missing and others it seems were just handed over.” He later added, “Seventeen thousand children go missing out of America every year. This is an industry.”
An industry profiting off of children, fueled by Ronald Reagan’s Drug-Free America program. According to Amity’s Circle Tree website, “In 1986, Amity was recognized by the U.S. Senate as a model for its work with juvenile offenders. In 1987, Arbiter [Naya Arbiter, Director of the residential substance abuse treatment program] was appointed by the President as one of 125 national experts tapped for the White House Conference for a Drug-Free America. Later, Arizona Senior Senator Dennis DeConcini visited Amity and was particularly impressed with the success of alcohol and drug addicted mothers who were allowed to bring their children to Amity during their recovery process. DeConcini asked Amity senior faculty to work with him on the design of a federal initiative. This initiative made over $100 million in funding available for alcohol and drug treatment rehabilitation programs throughout the U.S. which used elements of Amity’s model and methodology.”
Aaron is married now with children of his own. He says the story of his time at Amity is not about him. “So many other children need help.”
Aaron’s story is hard to hear but one he describes as tame in comparison to Synanon. In addition to shedding light on the psychologically damaging practices of some rehabilitation half-way houses and how government funding is being used in such abusive practices, Aaron’s story answers that question so often asked by victims of family court corruption. Why is there no change?
“Michigan makes loads off stealing children for their privatized foster care. One town reported 50% removal of children from their homes. Very sad and angering. They target the really poor with no hope of fighting and get members of the community to testify against them like they’re in league. These families are getting destroyed so others can line their pockets,” Aaron said of family court.
He’s referring to Clare County. Author, Yvonne Mason writes:
In the majority of cases, school officials, such as teachers and counselors, never suspected child abuse or neglect in the families that were prosecuted. Moreover, in most cases the family physicians never suspected child abuse or neglect in the families prosecuted. Families are targeted because FIA [Michigan Department of Family Independence Agency] must justify its need for State and Federal grants to keep its workers employed. Currently, FIA receives, in Federal grants, $2,000 to $4,000 per month per child in foster care and $10,000 per child adopted out into permanent homes after the parent’s rights have been terminated due to neglect and abuse. The State of Michigan provides matching funds to FIA. Bill Clinton recently signed new legislation providing for an additional $2,000 to $4,000 per month per child in foster care and $10,000 for adoption. FIA is making money hand over fist through our tax dollars. FIA social workers receive bonuses for removing children from their homes and for adoption. The incentive for abuse of power is extremely high and has occurred at alarming rates.
During 1996, Clare County removed 50% of the children in the county for neglect and abuse in the home. It is very hard to comprehend that 50% of the parents in Clare County are neglecting and abusing their children. Clare County is a “demonstration county” that is a pilot county for The Binsfield Laws supported by Federal Grants. These programs involve privatizing the foster care system. The foster care program hires private industry to service the foster care needs of the county children removed from the home. Currently, Eagle Village in Hersey, Michigan holds the foster care contract for Clare County FIA.
The Courts believe that the FIA workers are the professionals and take their word as gold. The parents cannot defend against FIA. The testimony and statements mean nothing in the Probate/Family Court. In fact, the Court can issue an emergency pick up order for the children based on only FIA’s statements in an ex-parte hearing conduct[ed] by the judge and the FIA worker. The parents are not present during these hearings. The Court will issue an ex-parte emergency order allowing the FIA work to enter the home or child’s school to remove the child from the parent’s custody. [The State of Michigan Has A Dirty Little Secret. It Is Called Child Protection Services. Yvonne Mason]
Why is there no change in family court corruption? The reasons are simple. We’re not fighting family court corruption in the political arena where we should be fighting it, and we’re not targeting the corrupt use of government funding. We’ve targeted issues that are important, but not the problem at its source. We’ve separated family court corruption into a fight on domestic violence, on alcoholism and drug abuse, on poverty, and on gender. I’m not saying these issues shouldn’t be fought for or that they’re not important causes, but in the fight against family court corruption, our efforts must also include a demand for family court reform and a focus on corruption at a government level. We must look at the profits, the grants, and the government funding that once in the hands of corrupt individuals or groups, enables abusive atmospheres like Synanon to thrive. Though issues of IPV and drug and alcohol abuse are important and have been widely documented in cases of family court bias, family court corruption is not a gender issue. It’s a human rights issue perpetuated by special interest groups and programs and the corporate government that all prey off of social issues in family courts. Keep fighting social issues, yes, but also mount a political attack on corruption because until then, we’re not tackling the issue at its core but merely fighting skirmishes on the edge of what is a much bigger issue. We must unite our efforts to focus on the politics of family court corruption if we are ever to see an end to this nightmare endured by so many American families.
I’m not your enemy. I’m not one of the guys. I’m skinny but that doesn’t mean that I believe my worth is more or less than anyone else’s. We are more than our bodies. I’m not going to bash you in the hopes that doing so will make men like me. I don’t think men are children who need women to raise them and neither should you. I’m not going to call you a skank or a slut because of that awesome skirt you’re wearing or because your cleavage kicks ass. If you want to do pageants, that’s fine. If you want to be a stripper, that’s fine too. If you want to be a doctor or a scientist, that’s cool. My feminism will be intersectional and not limited to white, hetero, Christian, able-bodied and minded women. I will not call you catty.
If you say you were raped, I’m going to hold your hand and help you through it. If you’re taking a stand against social injustice, I will stand with you. If you think you’re one of the guys because women are bitches, I’ll still think you’re awesome. If you say you’re not like other girls, I will know that you believe there’s something inherently wrong with femininity and I will work harder to end misogyny. If you believe you have a specific gender role to perform because of your vagina, I will quietly show you all the things you can do when you don’t limit your awesomeness to societal constructs but I won’t knock if you’re a housewife either.
I will talk with you anytime, I will listen, I will shop with you, I will take dressing room selfies with you. I will not eat ice cream with you because I’m allergic to that shit, but I will hang with you while you do. I will be your friend because I’m not your enemy and you are not mine. I will be uplifting, I will be supportive. I will cultivate as many female friendships as I can, understanding that one of the best things in this world is the intimacy that comes from friendships with strong women.
KTLA, meteorologist, Liberté Chan was interrupted during her broadcast by morning news anchor Chris Burrous to request that she put a sweater on over her dress. They’d received a lot of emails, he said, and everyone had an opinion about her dress. And this is in California, FYI.
In response, Liberté Chan, posted this video on Facebook:
People felt her “cocktail” dress was inappropriate for a weather report. I can’t stress this enough: IT’S FUCKING 2016. Apparently, America is stuck in its Puritan days, unwilling to accept that women HAVE FUCKING ARMS. Let’s review, you cunt ass prudes:
Shaming a woman for her attire is dehumanizing. Slut-shaming makes implications about a woman’s sexuality and worth based on how she chooses to express her sense of style. Women don’t get dressed for you. Slut-shaming projects what you believe a woman is thinking or intending by her attire and stems from a person’s sense of entitlement to a woman’s body, patriarchal beliefs, jealousy, and/or one’s own insecurities. A woman’s body is her business. Not yours.
By whose definition do we determine: promiscuity, modesty, and lady-like behavior? And why does this only apply to women?
America, you’ve got bigger fucking problems than female anatomy. Women aren’t the aesthetic accouterments of Mother Earth placed on this earth to exist solely as objects meant for the gratification of others. And one more time for you bitches in the back…if you have an issue with a woman’s attire or her shoulders or her knees or her arms, that’s on you, asshole. And that goes for you prude ass women too. Check your internalized misogyny. Women aren’t your enemies and it’s not a fucking competition. Women’s bodies aren’t inherently evil. We have fucking tits and vaginas, not nefarious magic muffins and black magic boobs because fucking biology, you dicks. Enough of this bullshit sexism.
We’re an embarrassment to the world. It’s past time America left puberty behind and dealt with her sexuality issues already. Fucking, white Christ on a cracker. Yes, I’m aggravated. No one should be talking about this kind of shit anymore. It’s time to grow up and join our European progressive neighbors at the big kid table. We need to start focusing on real issues like bringing back democracy, ending corporate and government corruption, rebuilding infrastructure, education, etc. These are real issues, not Liberté Chan’s fucking arms.
Recently, someone told me they have no idea how to act around me. They said I’m out of their grasp. They said they didn’t know how to live in my world. Another told me that I should tone back what they perceive as aggression. Yet another told me to think silently. I’ve been told that I don’t play. I’ve been told that there’s nothing quite so cutting as my honesty. I’ve hurt people with my words though not intentionally. I am first and foremost a writer and perhaps there have been none so hard to love as those of us who wield a pen. We are by trade, burdened with the task to always be objective, to always be honest, and to never bow to a lie no matter how soothing. We cut deep. We expose. We wound. But for me, these words aren’t rooted in malice but a need to be completely free and unbound by any chain. We bear our souls so that you may find yours.
I’ve been called funny and fierce. I’ve been told that I will cut a person down only to build them up again. I don’t get much in the way of reviews, but readers message and email often, their stories and pain freed by my writings, thanking me for what I do and what I say. I’ve been told that my writing is powerful and gripping. I’m honored that you’ve chosen to share your stories with me and hope that you’ve found some measure of healing, of joy or of entertainment in my work.
Not long ago, I was involved in a situation that seemed somewhat sketchy and posed some risk to my personal safety. I can’t say for certain that I was in danger, though the situation was deeply disturbing and left me shaking. This past week, my safety is once again a question of concern for friends and family and those closest to me have warned that my work may be to blame. I’ve been urged to consider the effect my writings have on those around me. And I have. It’s never been my intention to cause anyone pain. Change for a better world has always been my inspiration. I took time recently to consider dialing back my activism. I considered writing romance. I thought, perhaps I have been careless.
I spoke with my grandma yesterday. She said it may be best to tone things down a bit. My grandma’s Irish of the Adair clan. Neither my grandma or the Irish are known for remaining silent so that others may be placated by the sweet and soothing lie that comes with denying who you truly are for the sake of peace. I respectively call bullshit, aye?
I cannot keep silent about certain issues. I have written in the past, fluffy pieces, cute stories, and yes, some romance, but have not felt that this work had any value. I’ve lived most of my life, muting myself, adapting to the needs of those closest to me so that they may be comfortable, but I have evolved and so has my writing. I am no longer content to placate others. My voice and tone do not lend themselves to works that don’t force the reader to examine their beliefs or to works that don’t demand the reader to look at the darkest parts of life and the human psyche. Feel good works are not my thing and you don’t read my work to be soothed. Deep down, you love the cheeky bitch that I am. I’m told it’s my most endearing quality.
I’ll keep moving forward with my activism, though I will take a break for now so that those close to me can catch their breath, given certain recent events. I realize this post is a deeply personal departure from what I normally write and not for all of my readers. If I’ve offended you or upset you then understand that that is ultimately no reflection of who I am nor does it have anything to do with me. Your offense is nothing more than a translation of your own fear, denial or the defense of your personal belief system you feel I’ve attacked. Whichever the case, the offense you feel is a scope that must be pointed inward to you, the reader, as I’ve merely touched on something you’ve suppressed.
To the person who feels out of my grasp, I exist in the words and therein you’ll find me. I’m bound only to my thoughts, beliefs, and principles and will only ever answer to them. May they always find me loyal. Would that everyone had the freedom that only an artist can know.
Over the years, we’ve heard some wack ass shit coming from Republicans and with every new showcase of puerile stupidity from the cracked out conservative base, we are made painfully aware of the acute lack and diminishing quality of education in this country.
Republican crazy is sweeping the nation and infecting citizens like some new Black Plague. When infected with Republican crazy, one loses the ability to shut the fuck up, feels morally superior to others, believes they’re fucking scientists, and then pushes their psychotic, shady science, perverted legislation on the whole damn country.
It’s past time we educate these cranks especially on matters pertaining to women’s issues. Like rape. The following graphic illustrates Republican views of rape.
It’s time anyone who doesn’t understand rape, be made to experience rape. Anyone seeking to do away with rape kits or abortions or anyone who thinks rape victims should share custody of their child with their rapist. Anyone who has ever believed in legitimate rape. Anyone who has ever compared rape to the fucking weather. Anyone who thinks rape is God’s plan or that rape victims should make the best of a bad situation. All these twisted fucking shits and anyone who agrees with them should be raped.
Let’s make a Republican Rape Robot to you know, teach politicians how their body can shut it down. Let’s see if they just go with it and relax, and when they scream and beg for help, let’s then debate what they were wearing or how much they had to drink. We can all muse at how God intended for them to be raped so they could understand fucking empathy. And for the ugly politicians, we’ll congratulate them on their rape and tell them they’re lucky and should be grateful.
These individuals lack empathy and understanding. The Republican Rape Robot is the answer for these unfeeling, empathy lacking, misogynistic dickholes.