I feel like a voice lost at sea

I feel like a voice lost at sea

There are times when I’m walking when I feel like it’s all for nothing, that the stories I carry with me are hopeless, that the fight against abuse and awareness and assault is never-ending and all efforts are fruitless. I feel like a voice lost at sea, that my pleas for compassion and help fly into the void, unheard, ignored, passing by and drowning in deep waters.

Sometimes the steps are hard and heavy, the weight of the pain pressing down on my soul, and I push on wondering if it means anything at all.

I bring up domestic violence in a classroom of thinkers, and the subject is brushed aside. I mention social work to someone who asks about my education, and they ask if I don’t just sometimes want to smack a woman who won’t leave her abusive life. And “but why?” comes up so often, I tire from explaining. My words fall on deaf ears; compassion is in short supply for “those people who won’t stand up for themselves.” My heart breaks with each judgment, each pointing of the finger at victim instead of abuser.

My heart aches to make people understand. Sometimes I realize the only way some will truly understand is if they too suffer at the hands of such ugliness, and I would wish that on no one, but then my soul cries out: how do I get you to see, to do something, to feel something more than pride that you would never let that happen to you, or boast even how you saw the red flags and got out, unlike those other ones who aren’t strong enough?

Waves crash down on me as I anchor myself to these deep waters of pain, these heavy stories of despair and loss, and I plead with you to hear my voice, to set yourself free from judging those who hurt so deeply around you, and to embrace the idea that we can all step in and make that difference in one life, one moment of listening and hearing at a time.

I feel like a voice lost at sea, looking for each lighthouse of compassion, each safe shore of love. I beg for your mercy and grace and love, each of you, for someone else. Pain is pain is pain, so let my voice be heard, let me be loud enough to get your attention, to notice, to see, to allow yourself to be that one person for someone in pain.

Is it you?

Do you hear me?

The First 300+ Miles

The First 100 Miles on Scars and TiarasWhen I took my first steps into this journey of 1,000 miles, I had no idea how much it would begin to change my life. I could not know then that I would carry so many stories and learn so much more about my own healing as I walked each mile. Up hills, around corners, through snow and slush, from winter to spring, sometimes walking, often running…I had no idea that not only would my body grow stronger, but so would my drive, discipline, and ideas.

In less than 400 miles, I have already filled my heart a million times over with stories of pain and loss, bruises and blood, but also with survival and strong will, thriving and beautiful love. The lessons keep coming.

  • Healing, like going the distance, is one step at a time. 
  • Sometimes the journey is long and you look up and realize you haven’t gone far. Take time to look back to see how far you’ve traveled. 
  • 200 Miles on Scars and Tiaras

  • Shame is heavy. Take it off and leave it.
  • Some days are harder than others. They just are. Give yourself grace.
  • Every story matters. All of them. There is no worse or better. There is only YOUR story, YOUR healing, YOUR journey.
  • It is not a competition to heal faster than the next person. Grace to you who think you must hurry up.
  • It’s OK to grieve for your childhood, your teen years, your virginity, your innocence. Whatever was taken from you, you are allowed to feel sad about it, to deal with it on your terms.
  • “Pray about it” isn’t a one-size-fits-all cure. It’s damaging to tell someone if only they will pray about it, they will be healed. I believe in the power of prayer and in God, but I also believe God gave us others to help us, and that includes counselors, doctors, family, and friends. The same goes for “have faith.” Essentially, those words are telling victims they aren’t healed because they don’t have enough faith. Not true. It’s a process, not a quick fix.
  • 300 Miles on Scars and Tiaras

  • Fear is a liar. Shame is its twin. You are worthy of so much more than the lies tell you.
  • No one asked to be hurt, deserved it, had it coming, brought it on, or should have, could have. The blame belongs with the abuser, not the victim.
  • Not all lives will be saved or have happy endings, but we can learn from each story. And maybe, just maybe we can do better next time.

I’m not going to tell you this journey has been easy and fun. It hasn’t. There are days I don’t want to go, days I don’t want to know. I will stop reading halfway through someone’s story, or want to run when I realize they are about to tell me something painful. Pain is heavy and I carry it with me because that’s who I am. But it isn’t easy. And so, as I close in on 400 miles, with a long journey still ahead, I ask that you walk with me — in spirit, in person, in prayer, in good thoughts, and in love. In truth, we never really walk alone when we are loved, and so it is my hope that we can keep loving each other.

Why I gave up on writing letters to the victims/survivors

1,000 Miles in 2014When I started this project, this 1,000 Miles in 2014 challenge, my only intention was to walk for victims and survivors of painful abusive pasts (and present), to be a voice for them, to walk in their honor and memory. I wanted to raise awareness and money along the way, but first and foremost, I wanted to push myself in a way that forced me to focus and remember and act and do.

Then came the idea to write about each walk. And it was going well.

And then it wasn’t.

I fell behind. During a bout of financial issues wherein we lost our Internet service for over a week, all in the middle of a struggle to find my balance with school and work and life, I fell behind on the letters. The words were with me as I walked, but the time and effort to sit down and write them out would not be. I made attempts to catch up, but the truth is, it became overwhelming.

Then I just couldn’t catch up. It became this heaviness I carried with me each day. This need to sit and perform. Every to-do list carried this one: Write Letters for Scars and Tiaras. Then, when I couldn’t fit it in, the guilt and pressure became even heavier. My mind began to wander when walking — from thoughts and prayers for the person I was walking for, to guilty thoughts about not having time to write their letters, and I have to write their letters because I wrote the other letters and now they will feel like I don’t care and then they might miss the point of the walk! Or, as the case really seemed to be, I was beginning to miss the point.

The point? Ah yes, just walking the miles, concentrating thoughts and prayers and hopes and love toward the person I was walking for. The letters were a last-minute idea. Not a bad idea, but an extra idea, one that quickly became more busy work and less action work for the task at hand.

And so, with peace — sweet whispers carried through new spring bird calls and loving caresses from gentle blowing winds — I felt the need to let go of that idea. To return with the original enthusiasm to simply walk the miles, to share the who and how far, and to leave it at that.

The challenge was never about making busy work for myself or shining a spotlight on how sweet or kind or motivating my words could be toward each person. The challenge was love-based, awareness-based, and action-based, and I am returning to that now.

“I’m not alright”

“…I’m broken inside, broken inside…” -Sanctus Real

*The following story features sexual assault / rape situations. Please proceed with caution.

 

 

http://klockephotography.com/

There are some stories that never get told. There are some that stay locked away, deep inside, never to see the light of day. But when they stay in the dark, they fester and grow and latch onto good things, turning them bad.

There are some stories, though, that need to be told, even when they can’t be told on stage, in the spotlight. Instead, they have to be told under the disguise of anonymity. Because I can’t let this live inside me anymore. I can’t keep that part of me broken and distrustful and suspicious.

When I was about nine years old, one of my family members tried to rape me.

There, I said it.

My family. Rape.

And it’s not like no young girl has never been raped by someone in her family and that it’s unheard of. But this isn’t a story on the news or on the talk show circuit. This is my story. It happened to me. And for too many years to count, it’s the one thing I’ve never been allowed to talk about.

Why haven’t I been allowed? Because…I don’t know. Because I love this person, I guess. Because I don’t want to hurt him. Because because because maybe it’s the one hurt that I’ve never really been able to understand.

We were home alone, as we often were, and we were playing. A bed was still up in our living room from where our neighbors had stayed the night after all their household goods were packed away in a U-haul, ready for them to move away. We were chasing each other, wrestling. I was always a scrappy little girl.

One minute we were laughing and jumping around the bed, and the next he was pushing a blanket or pillow or something over my face and trying to yank down my bathing suit bottoms. It probably took me a full half a second to realize what was going on. I was not, after all, a stranger to sexual abuse. But I was shocked that it was him. Except, not really. It wasn’t the first time he’d done something weird, like the night I found him breathing over me while I slept, but it was the first REAL something.

Laughter turned to screams, and I kicked and scratched and hit at him, the whole while with one hand holding onto my suit bottoms. I refused – REFUSED – to let him get them down. I fought with everything I had in me and tried with all my strength to get away. It could have been a minute or it could have been an hour.

I fought. I fought. I fought.

I was always a scrappy little girl.

My mom and her husband came home then and he ran. I was hysterical. My stepfather demanded to know what was wrong and as I told him, I watched his face turn a horrid shade of red, and I knew I was in trouble. But he balled his fists and he was on my side. I wasn’t his, but for just that one day, he made me feel like he cared enough that I could be.

My mom asked me, “Are you sure?”

Never in my life had I ever felt so small and unimportant.

Was I sure? Was I sure that he was trying to rape me? Was I sure that I just fought to save my virginity from someone who is supposed to love me and not hurt me? Was I sure this person who I loved more than anyone in the world had just tried and failed to rape me?

Yes, yes I was sure. Even I didn’t want to believe it, but I was sure.

The police came and took him away. He spent a year or years in jail and then a special camp, and I felt guilty the whole time. It was probably my fault. I was the one wearing my bathing suit. It wasn’t his fault that he was a young teen being teased by my little girl body, right?

But here’s the real story: When he finally came home, I wanted him home. I loved him and looked up to him and I wanted to believe something went wrong inside his head. I wanted to believe something demonic took over him. I wanted to believe because he’d been hurt when he was younger that he couldn’t help himself.

One day when we were home alone (because yes, my mother still left me alone with him), he tried again.

AGAIN!

It took him about 30 seconds to realize what he was doing and he stopped as I screamed and kicked and punched again. And I thought, “I have lots of clothes on. How is this MY fault?”

“Punch me in the face,” he said. “Punch me. I deserve it. Stop me. Punch me.”

I shook my head, tears streaming down my face, my shoulders hitching up and down as I quivered with fear and disgust and denial. Even at that moment, I didn’t want to hurt him back.

“Punch me!”

So I did, and it hurt me, and all I could think is, “When do you stop causing me pain?”

I never told anyone that he tried again. Or that he had been weird before the first attempt. And for years, I felt like I owed him something, like absolution or to pretend none of it ever happened. But it did. It happened, and one day I grew up and had children and realized I didn’t trust him. Or hell, I didn’t trust any older male around my own daughter. I closed the door on him because it seemed like the only way to protect my children. And myself.

Yet, at times I get a real glimpse of how broken I am inside the wee little girl places of my heart and I cry for her, for me, because it’s not fair to not be all right. It’s not fair that on top of all the other people who hurt me, the one I looked up to, the one I knew I could turn to no matter what, he hurt me the most. In the end, he broke me the most.

But I’m not really allowed to talk about it.

 

Woodland Park, CO: Teen Violence Awareness Month Event

ATTENTION Teller County (and Park, El Paso, Douglas Counties)

Teen Violence Awareness Month Event
Woodland Park, Ute Pass Cultural Center

March 22, 10:00 – 12:00

Teller County Victim Assistance is recognizing Teen Violence Awareness Month with a two-hour event focusing on healthy relationships and featuring domestic violence survivor Angela Giles Klocke, who will share her personal story as well as awareness information. Teen dating violence, bullying, etc. Tips for parents and teens alike.

Teen Violence Awareness

Self

The Self I see
When I look at Me
Is not who I feel inside.

The reflected view
From the looking glass
Is from one I cannot hide.

That brave teen
Rattles about
Still trying to be free.

But those days have past,
Are behind me now
Leaving only the adult version of Me.
-AGK, 2005

Friday Five: 5 Signs That Your Loved One Might Be Being Abused

Friday Five will be published every Friday starting May 2014.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what you might see or experience, but the following may help you see past what they may be trying to hide. In doing so, you can change your approach in supporting them.

1 – Lying. One of the first things I remember is when I started to lie. In the earliest days, when it’s all new, victims aren’t very good at it (unless they have a history of lying due to previous abuses or experiences). Their stories change and they scramble to fix their errors.

2 – Isolation. Remember how your loved one always wanted to go hang out? And now she never wants to? In fact, you haven’t seen her in weeks, maybe months. Abusers like to isolate their victims. Sometimes they do this by threats, and sometimes they do so by convincing the victim that others don’t really care about them. It’s all about control.

3 – No longer talks about the relationship. Maybe your loved one isn’t being isolated but now they never talk about the relationship they are in. Once they went on and on, maybe about the good, maybe about the bad, but now? Nothing. If you ask, they avoid answering. This is often because they have been forbidden from talking about it, or they have gotten in trouble for sharing even the smallest detail that might have made the abuser look bad, or even they just can’t find it in themselves to lie to you. So they just don’t talk about it at all.

4 – Change in personality or behavior. Your loved one used to laugh all the time. Now she doesn’t. She used to have goals. Now she doesn’t. Once upon a time, she was the happiest person you knew, so brave and full of life. Now? Not anymore. She’s sad, or depressed, or angry all the time. She just isn’t who she once was.

5 – Physical wounds. Bruises, cuts, scars — all unexplained. She has excuses, of course, sometimes really great stories (see #1), but she can’t look you in the eye as she tells you she ran into the wall and that’s how she broke her nose. Or maybe she has several small bruises on her arms, likely from being grabbed or held against her will, and she can’t explain them.

Next time, we’ll talk about ways to approach each of these situations.

When the honeymoon is over

When the Honeymoon is Over

He comes home, his arms overflowing with roses for you, a cute teddy bear tucked into the flowers, and he smells so good.

“I love you so much,” he says. “I am so sorry I hurt you. I don’t mean to. I just get so angry when you {fill in the blank} but I just want to be a better man to you.”

You melt.

You were sure, only an hour ago, that you would definitely this time for real be done with him. No more hitting, yelling, lies, or cheating. You were done, seriously!

But now you melt. You want to believe him. You want your family to be whole, your relationship to survive, and you want to help him be a better man. All you have to do is stop making him so mad!

You give in to one more try not because you love roses so much, or that teddy bear changes your world, but because you want more than anything to believe in this man you love, that you can help him, that he can change, that your life deserves happiness, and after all, you’ve already put five years into this relationship. It deserves another chance.

And so, once again, you enter the honeymoon phase.

The definition* most people associate “honeymoon” with is this one: a vacation or trip taken by a newly married couple.

Another definition is: any period of blissful harmony

That’s how you know it. Maybe you never call it a “honeymoon phase” because it’s never occurred to you that it’s a repeating cycle, but you have noticed that often, by the time the roses have died, he is back to calling you names, pushing you around, not coming home at night, and then when he does return, he doesn’t smell good but rather reeks of alcohol or smoke or another woman.

When the Honeymoon is Over

It’s the honeymoon phase that keeps you in, though. That’s when you see him for who he was in the early days, when you first fell in love with him. That’s when you catch the glimpses of all the good parts — his smile, his sense of humor, his tender touch. And that’s what you hold on to to get you through the rest. Or maybe because you really are sure you can love him enough to save him from this, that you can be good enough to please him, and if you just try a little harder, this won’t keep happening.

But it does. And it will. Despite your best attempts, despite all the self-talk, there’s a part of you that is afraid to leave, and another part that is afraid to stay. These two war with each other, and paralyzed with guilt and indecision and fear, you stay.

And you look forward to the next honeymoon.

*Dictionary.com

Announcing 1,000 Miles

On December 28, I was out walking, breathing in the mountain air, soaking up the sunshine, and I felt powerful and strong and alive.

Alive.

Every once in a while, I find myself staring down that statement: I am alive.

Sometimes, it’s easy to get too comfortable in the details of everyday life, to sit back and relax, to forget to LIVE, not just be alive. There are so many who don’t get that, who aren’t here anymore, or worse, they are, trapped in a life of pain and sadness.

But I am alive. My legs work. My mind works.

These lyrics popped into my head as I pounded the pavement, fists pumping, heart racing as I tackled the big hill in my neighborhood.

“I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more”
-Proclaimers, I Would Walk 500 Miles

“Next year, I’ll walk 1,000 miles,” I thought. And then, “But why?”

Why indeed? I love a good goal, deadline, whatever, but 1,000 miles? For no other reason than to say I did it? The very idea seemed silly, one of my many silly ideas that often come and go. But my thoughts persisted.

“Walk for someone.”

“Who?”

The answer didn’t immediately come. I pushed on, content that I was already over the two-mile mark. The last several weeks had been very cold, so I hadn’t walked much. But on this day, my body just fell into the natural rhythm of exercise, traveling the same steps I’d taken before.

“I feel so great! So alive!”

“And there you go,” my heart thumped back at me.

“Ah, yes.”

That’s how the idea shaped itself, grew with each footstep, each crunch of the gravel beneath my very alive self.

In 2014, I will walk 1,000 miles to raise awareness for the abused – past, present, and future – and in their honor…in OUR honor. For those currently there, and those who came out. And especially for those who never got the chance to live.

Please join me on this journey.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? CLICK HERE!

{JOIN ME!}

1,000 Miles in 2014