Until it happens to you

I received a call last week around 9 PM from one of my amazing aunts. This aunt, in particular, holds a special place in my heart. From the start she was my Godmother, but she became my best friend. She was also the Maid of Honor at my wedding.

When she called, she was crying and telling me how strong how I am. She also told me that she was sorry for not realizing how much I had gone through. My aunt said she was trolling Lady Gaga on YouTube and came across a video of Lady Gaga performing “Til It Happens to You.” While watching the performance she immediately thought of me.

I told her that I knew she always thought that I was strong, and that we have talked about things before, just maybe not for a long period of time. She was one person I reached out to for my project involving my family and friends. She told me that she is not good at writing her emotions, so her part was short, but sweet.

I reminded her that I wouldn’t be here right now without the support of her, even if we don’t talk about it all that much. After we hung up, I went to watch the performance. Click here:Lady Gaga – Til it happens to you live

While I had heard the song before, I think I only half listened to it, either because I was working on something else or because I didn’t know what kind of emotion it would stir up…especially since Lady Gaga has been such a huge part of my life and healing process.

The words to “Til It Happens to You” really hit me after our conversation. I can only imagine that it must be very hard to write a song about sexual violence, especially if you have gone through it. It’s important to note that both Lady Gaga and Diane Warren (cowriter) are survivors of sexual violence. I know that it has been very difficult to talk about what happened to me until I realized that it helped me heal.

It is a very simple song with simple lyrics, but it really brings truth to the matter.

“You tell me it gets better in time.” It does get better…….but it will always be a part of me. I am definitely out of the dark days of my healing, but I am still healing every day. Healing from rape has become a part of who I am. So you can sit there and tell me it gets better but you really won’t understand.

“Tell me how the hell could you talk, how could you talk?” This goes two ways for me. I think the lyrics actually are meant to be directed to the person that is telling the survivor that it gets better in time. I took it as an individual in my life who wanted me to be silent and wanted me to not share my story. But how could I not if it made me feel better?

There have been days in the past 11 years that I have battled with myself and thought that my rape was my fault. I can particularly remember one day, while driving 15 minutes to work, crying the whole way and thinking: Why would he do this to me? I knew him, he was an acquaintance that I worked with for two summers. Then I thought I put myself in a dangerous situation. Which I did. But I remind myself that it is NOT my fault. IT was NEVER my fault. A crime was committed against me.

“Till your world burns and crashes, Till you’re at the end, the end of your rope. Till you’re standing in my shoes, I don’t want to hear a thing from you.” It’s scary to think of some of the dark places I was in, in during my healing process…sometimes I don’t want to think back to them. However, those days along with my support system, pushed me forward.

What really kills me to the core is to know that there are so many others in world that have gone through some form of sexual violence and or abuse. The pain and suffering that so many others had/have overcome or still are working through. The countless others that lost their lives to sexual violence is horrific and you wouldn’t know how it feels until it happens to you.

So I suggest you all take at least a few minutes to listen to this song because it truly is powerful.

I hope I can make it through the Oscars. gaga-itunes

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I’m not that kind of girl

Lena Dunham is an actress on an HBO series “Girls.” When I first heard about Lena, nothing truly stood out to me.  In my world, if you aren’t Britney Spears (or one of the other pop tarts I love), then you probably aren’t totally on my radar.

My attention was drawn to Lena, however, when she released her book I’m Not That Kind of Girl. While I have not had time to read the book, I do plan on it. In her book, from my understanding, she is very open about a time in college when she was sexually assaulted.

Lena, since then, has been a huge advocate for sexual violence survivors and a voice calling for a stop to this issue while changing our culture.

More recently, Lena penned an essay regarding the situation surrounding Kesha and how this recent turn of events is about more than just Kesha herself. She highlights how this our legal system feels towards victims of sexual violence and abuse.

In Lena’s essay she writes, “So let me spell it out for them. Imagine someone really hurt you, physically and emotionally. Scared you and abused you, threatened your family. The judge says that you don’t have to see them again, BUT they still own your house. So they can decide when to turn the heat on and off, whether they’ll pay the telephone bill or fix the roof when it leaks. After everything you’ve been through, do you feel safe living in that house? Do you trust them to protect you? That explanation is really for the judge, Shirley Kornreich, who questioned why — if they could be physically separated as Sony has promised — Kesha could not continue to work for Gottwald. After all, she said, it’s not appropriate to ‘decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated.’ Guess what else is heavily negotiated? The human contract that says we will not hurt one another physically and emotionally. In fact, it’s so obvious that we usually don’t add it to our corporate documents.”

When it comes to our legal system, I simply don’t understand how if someone is charged with rape, they can get a plea bargain attached to a lesser charge.

Lena continues, “What’s happening to Kesha highlights the way that the American legal system continues to hurt women by failing to protect them from the men they identify as their abusers.”

Therefore, even in a criminal case if someone pleads guilty to the charge, they can then obtain a lesser charge, and potentially face a lesser punishment.

While I admit that I’m still educating myself of the legals system and it’s process, I find that I agree with Lena’s point. Personally, I feel that the judicial system is not set up properly and doesn’t protect those that need protection.

Check out the rest of Lena’s essay here

Born to break the doors down

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Kesha. I am sure most of you know her as Ke$ha. You can’t forget the dollar sign…..well now that she actually dropped it, her name seems a little more formal.

The only way you probably do not know the name Ke$ha is if you are not into pop/popular music. Ke$ha came on to the music scene in 2009, with her single Tik Tok flying up the Billboard charts until it hit the top spot at number 1. Since then she has a had a number of other 10 ten hits, and a pesona that comes across as wild, crazy and care free.

If you have heard anything about Kesha recently, it is because of her civil case against her long time music producer Dr. Luke. Dr.Luke is chart topping producer and has not only worked with Kesha, but also other artists such as Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry.

The suit explained the charges were for  sexual assault, and battery, sexual harassment, gender harassment, civil harassment and unfair business. From various articles it is said that right now this is only a civil suit but Kesha is currently looking at all actions and potentialy reporting to the police.

To some, this may seem odd. Why would some who is willing to go to court with a civil case  that involves violence not want to make it a criminal case? After doing a little bit of research, I learned the difference of filing a civil suit as opposed to a criminal case. If one chooses to file a civil they:

  • A private lawsuit, meaning that the plaintiff(the survivor)initiates the action, not the state.
  • The Plaintiff has more control over the case and may confront the perpetrator, if they choose.
  • There is a lesser standard of proof than in criminal cases.
  • Downside: you have to pay the cost of the suit, where in a criminal case, the county the trial is conducted in pays for it.

Civil suit cannot undo the harm the perpetrator caused, damage awards and the opportunity for vindication can make these suits attractive for survivors.

With all that said, you still might ask the same question, why would Kesha, a survivor of this type of violence, not want to make this a criminal case? Regardless of what kind she wants to file, I still stand behind her 100%. Why would a young woman who has achieved fame, money and hit records through the world’s most successful producer be so desperate to get out of her record contract with the person that made her a star? There has to be something very wrong in this relationship.

Unfortunately yesterday, Kesha did go to court and left in tears as the ruling came down that she will not be released from her recording contract and will have to continue to work with her abuser.

this just shows how our judicial system really works. A woman that is raped and abused must continue to work with her abuser and doesn’t even want to put her perpetrator in jail,

As Kesha’s song Warrior states: “We were born to break the doors down fighting till the end.” Kesha, even though this outcome is not the way it should be, we ARE born to break the doors down and will continue to do so until sexual violence comes to an end.

Let us know you thoughts and also check out some related articles below!

 

People: Yesterday’s Ruling

Celebs support Kesha