Not Only Shouting: Different Types of Emotional Child Abuse

Well, folks, this is April 30, the end of April’s Child Abuse Awareness Month. But let’s not stop being aware of child abuse just because it’s the end of April. If you see a child being abused, speak up. If it’s a parent screaming at a kid in a store, dragging him along by the arm with a “Just wait till I get you home” hissed between clenched teeth–what can you do? That’s a really tough question. If you go up to him and say, “Excuse me, but you seem to be abusing your child,” the pathological parent may very well stop his behavior and make some lame excuse like “Oh, I we were only horsing around,” and then when they get home the child REALLY gets it for being the “cause” of “attracting attention.” I just don’t know the answer to that one. But I do know that if you hear angry voices and sounds of violence coming from the apartment next door, your call to the emergency authorities might save a life. Make the call.

The Invisible Scar

dismissive-parents-smApril is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month. At The Invisible Scar, we are focusing on exploring the definition of emotional child abuse, such as the various types, how to help emotionally abused children, and  resources for healing.

When emotional abuse is shown in movies or TV programs, the abuser is often a huge, ugly, fierce-looking adult. The abuser never looks like the kind-faced person next door. The abuser is never an ordinary person, never someone known to his neighbors, never someone who shops at the local store, has friends, or keeps a regular job. The abuser is easily to spot. The abuser might as well carry a sign for all people to see.

In real life, however, abusers aren’t always that obvious. They might look huge and fierce—but they can also look gentle and meek. In real life, emotional child abusers can be far sneakier. In some cases…

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Why is it that the tiniest thing will set me off spinning out of orbit?  I went over to Facebook to look up a rabbi I want to visit when I am in Jerusalem next time, and there on her wall was a comment from that guy I had an affair with last year.  Well, I had high hopes (actually was completely convinced) that it was “the real thing,” but it turned out to be an affair.  So I though I was over it, and was really quite proud of myself for getting out of an abusive relationship before it became addictive (yes, I have a tendency to become addicted to abusive relationships.  Has to do with the way I was raised, according to my psychologist).  Various anniversaries of benchmarks in the relationship came and went, and some I made note of in a casual way and was pleased that I didn’t have a reaction to them, and some I sort of reacted to but not badly and talked it out with my therapist.

Enter Facebook, that double-edged sword of connectedness, whether you want it or not.

I saw his name, and his comment, and a sly comment to a former lover of his who had also commented…..and suddenly (flashback) he was in my bed getting ready to force his cock down my throat, and I freaked out, because unbeknownst to him I had been raped that way, and besides he should have asked before doing something so invasive, and he stopped, and I thought oh, what a good man because he stopped.  Never thought of it that the fact that he would do such a thing “on our first date” was an outrageous disrespect of my SELF, and what I should have done was to throw his ass out of my house and my life then and there.

But I didn’t.  And why?  Because my self image is still where it was forty years ago when I was living on the street for a living and taking pot luck.  Telling some dickhead “no” was not an option.  So that might be why, when push comes to shove,  my reflex is to thank the bastard for not violating me.  For not raping me.

There had been signs, during the long-distance phase of our relationship, that he wanted what he wanted, and objected to my having my own priorities.  But I ignored them and pretended they didn’t exist, for the most part, except for one extreme boundary violation that sent me to bed for three days with a violent PTSD reaction.  But I got over that one too, and soldiered on with the relationship.

Fast forward a few months, and I was in his bed, halfway around the world.  We had just lain down, no contact yet really, and he grabs my hand and pushes it toward his cock, without asking, without any tenderness at all.  That triggered me bigtime. because how many times has that happened to me in the past, against my will or without my wanting it?  I drew back my hand.  Angered, he then grabbed my wrist and forced my hand downward.  I ripped my hand out of his grasp and laid it on his belly.  I should have read him the riot act and gone to sleep on the couch, and taken a cab out in the morning, but instead, “You know,” I whispered in my best whore voice,” you’ll like it better if I do it my own way.”

“Go to hell with your fucking game-playing!” he said, and rolled over, farted, and went to sleep.  I was left shaking, in a cold sweat.  The next morning I packed my bags, but I didn’t leave yet.  I tried to talk to him about the sexual stuff, but he just shouted at me that I was playing games and would not engage with me.

I stayed another week.  We didn’t have sex at all after that.  I was constantly reprimanded: I left the faucet dripping; I left foot prints in the bathtub; I used the wrong knife to cut up fruit (that was a big one, precipitating a screaming fit on his part), I this, I that.  So, since I hadn’t unpacked my bags, I arranged a ride to the other end of the country.   As I was leaving, he staged a scene:

“Are you leaving, just like that?”


“Don’t you want to talk about it?”


“Do you really want to leave it this way?”


“We’ll keep in touch, right, we’ll keep this dialogue going, won’t we?”

To this one, I lied “Yes,” because I knew that if I said no he would launch into something that would keep me standing at the door when all I wanted was to walk through it and be gone.

I wonder now, whether I have the capacity to identify a truly good man.  I met a few, during my time on the streets, but they belonged to somebody else.  I’ve met a few since then, but ditto, married or in a relationship.  I think I might be able to see one, but so far my longing for someone to fit the picture I have in my mind and my heart has got me into more trouble than I can begin to describe.  I think the factor of unavailability helps me to see the goodness in a man, because my subconscious believes that a good man is not for me.  Therefore the attractive ones are the “bad boys” who abuse me and do me wrong.

There are exited prostitutes who manage to focus on the nice, sweet guys, I guess, from what I’ve read.  And yes, I did have encounters with nice, sweet guys, and all of them were married, and I don’t know what they wanted with me in the first place, but there you go.  Unfortunately, my life was peppered with rapes of different kinds for so many years, that it’s hard for me to disengage from them enough to pick a guy who is not a brute.  I sometimes fantasize about having a relationship with, say, a paraplegic, someone for whom sex is impossible, but then I remember that all abuse is not sexual, not by a long shot, and it would be just my luck to get into a relationship with someone who was platonically abusive.

I hate to think of living the rest of my years alone, aging and dying alone with no one to share the “golden years (hah!)” with.  Getting old is not for the faint of heart, said my grandmother, crazy as a bat but wise in her way.  But now that I have become a true recluse, I have no idea how to meet a truly good man to share life with.  An interesting one, with quirks I find endearing.  I’d like one who loved me for who I am, craziness and all, who respected and even adored me, and made love fully in mutual agreement.  Is that too much to ask?

My Mental Magic Shield

I just had a revelation.  I’ve always told everybody something I learned in my NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner course in 1997-98, which is, All Illness Has A Purpose.  All illness has a message that your body is trying to teach you.  Even when it’s a horrible illness, like God forbid cancer, or Lou Gherig’s disease (did I spell that right?), or you name it.  The reason for the disease is to give you the opportunity to grow the spiritual organs that you are missing.

Hard one to swallow, eh?  Yeah, for me too.  I’m always grateful that I don’t have anything worse than what I have, although in suicidal moments (or days, weeks, months, or years) it seems as if I really could not feel worse no matter what was being done to me.

But tonight, as I was alternately reading stuff on children of narcissistic mothers (I have one: a narcissistic mother who is the daughter of a narcissistic mother–what a joy) and a 1981 textbook on runaways, what causes them and what to do with them (I was a runaway in 1970-71), I got a revelation.  What do my psychiatric diagnoses do for me?  They shield me.  They stand between me and the world.

This is a double edged sword.  Because my Bipolar Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (which I do not think of as a disorder, but an advantage) put me one level of separation away from the world, I feel isolated a lot.  I used to feel lonely, but now I feel more comfortable when I’m alone, which is 99.5% of the time.  On the positive side, my “disorders” protect me from a lot of the slings and arrows I would otherwise be subject to, if I was out in the world and participating in it.

Twice that I can remember, some other human being was trying to coerce me into doing their will, and I said “Don’t do that, you’re hurting me, you know I’m mentally ill,” and they stopped.  So that was a positive way to use my illness as a defense.  On the other hand, it would have been much healthier to say “stop doing that because it’s a shit thing to do and I won’t put up with it.”  Now THAT would be a healthy way of defending one’s self.  But since I wasn’t up to it because I actually WAS feeling ill, using my illness as a shield was a good strategy, I think.

On the other hand, I don’t wish to cultivate this defense mechanism, because I think it could become a habit: “oh, poor me, I’m mentally ill, don’t stress me out.”  When actually, what I should be saying is “Hey, don’t fuck with me, you’re taking advantage of me, you’re trying to abuse me, you’re seriously pushing my buttons.”  But that has always been a problem for me, because of the way I was raised.

When I was a child, “back-talk” was rewarded with “back-hand” across the mouth, prolonged tirades including belittlement, insults, curses, and other forms of crushing.  The Silent Treatment usually followed.  Banishment to one’s room was routine; but as soon as I got old enough to grok the situation, I stayed in my room voluntarily, or stayed outside, even if it was cold or raining, rather than be in the nasty indoor weather.

So I learned to say as little as possible, if confronted by negativity or abuse.  I always laugh when I read accounts of rape trials where they look for signs of struggle on the girl’s part.  Oh yeah, great if they find his skin under her fingernails; but let’s be realistic: when some dude who is twice your size says, “don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt,” you’re probably going to keep as quiet as possible and let it get over with so he will go away and leave you to your quiet private hell.  I know that one very well.  Way too well.

I have to say I think I was more of a rape-magnet because of my abusive upbringing.  When your mother tells you you’re nothing, you’re shit, etc., etc., etc., after a while your subconscious incorporates that into its reality, and it becomes part of your personality, that you are somehow substandard protoplasm, and rapists get that on their radar from miles away.  It’s like, shit, if there was some asshole wanting to rape somebody in the general vicinity, all he had to do was turn around and, pow, there I was, telepathy or something.

That was before I figured out that I was crazy and therefore had a good reason for people not to fuck with me.  I have permission now to get really, really angry.  I can unload on people if I get that pushed.  But it freaks me out, because I am a pacifist.  I unloaded on a particularly toxic asshole last year.  It was the first time in my life I have ever done that.  No, it was the second time.  The first time was when my ex-husband “forgot” to come home from work one night.

So I’d much rather use my magic shield: I’m mentally ill, don’t fuck with me.  I don’t know how healthy that is, but it’s better than heaving a vase at their head.

Interview With Ruth Jacobs, Author and Anti-Trafficking Activist

I’m excited to have a guest on board here at Bipolar For Life:  Ruth Jacobs, author of the upcoming best-selling novel series Soul Destruction.  Part one of the series, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, will be released worldwide on April 29, 2013.

Ruth Jacobs no border

Soul Survivor: Ruth’s gritty, hard-hitting novel features a more-or-less close-knit group of friends who have at least two things in common: drugs, and prostitution.  So what is this book doing on my blog, which tries its best to stay focused on mental health and child abuse issues?  Probably because this group of tough customers has more than just two things in common.

Let’s read a passage from Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, and then we can ask Ruth to help us understand.

Aunt Elsie made tea and they sat on their usual white stools at the white, plastic table in the kitchen. Elsie, as always, sat facing the back door and Shelley, facing the hall. From her chair, she could see the picture frames that stood on the hall table. Although she couldn‘t see the pictures, she knew each one from memory. The pictures were of happier times: baby pictures of her and William, a school picture of William when he was about ten, a school picture of Shelley taken around the same time, putting her at seven or eight, and a picture of them both with their mother before she became ill. That last picture, taken in Brighton in the summer of 1983, was from the last holiday they‘d had with just the three of them. Until that year, Rita had taken her and William to Brighton every summer. Neither she nor her mother had been back since, but William had, once.

Shelley gulped her tea and apologised to her aunt for the short visit. On her way to the front door, she stopped at the hall table. It was the missing pictures she noticed. There was no record from that last holiday until she was fifteen years old and William was seventeen. As if those years in between had never existed. Of course, they had. They all wanted to forget them. But how could she erase them when she‘d endured them? However much she tried, those years wouldn‘t stop replaying in her head. That‘s what caused the rage, the despair, and the excruciating pain that fed on her soul.

S/S: Ruth, this passage starts out looking pretty normal.  I mean, prostitutes don’t have aunts named Elsie with whom they have tea every week, do they?  What, you’re telling me that prostitutes are people like you and me?  Shocking.  But wait, reading on, we find that things are not so happy as they once were.  There seems to be a skeleton in the family closet, perhaps?

You and I have had some conversations regarding prostitution and what might set the stage for a girl or woman to become caught up in it.  Can you talk a bit about that, in the context of the passage we’ve quoted?  What is it here that might have propelled Shelley in the direction she’s taken?   Something happened, didn’t it, something terrible, it seems….

Ruth: Yes, something terrible did happen. I don’t want to give any spoilers about the book for people who will be reading it, but I think it’s very important to know that a large percentage of people in prostitution have a history of being abused as children, whether that be physical and/or sexual abuse. Childhood abuse can set them up as targets for pimps and traffickers. Many women in prostitution started as children. Children do not make these choices. They may be forced by another, they may be homeless, as some I know have been, and out of desperation for a roof over their head for a night or something to eat, they turn to prostitution. For some they have been treated and viewed as sex objects and feel that is their worth. There are more complexities in this, and studies and research into the links between childhood abuse and prostitution have been conducted. For anyone who would like to understand more, my dissertation on prostitution, which I undertook back in the late 1990s, can be read freely here

S/S: Let’s go on to another scene from your book.

Emotionally exhausted, Shelley slept until a nightmare woke her late afternoon. Swaddled in her favourite duvet, she shuffled along the cold, black and white floor tiles in the kitchen. She poured a glass of water and took it through to the lounge. She landed herself on the sofa, then picked up one of her new, sparkling dessert spoons and began cooking up her fix.

What she‘d heard from Tara yesterday shocked her. Not that another call girl would have a past like that, most of the hookers she knew did. The shock was that Tara knew what she had gone through as a child, yet hadn‘t confided in her. Was it her fault Tara had never been able to tell her? Possibly not – Tara hadn‘t told Nicole either. But Shelley knew she could have been a better friend. There were things she could have done differently, things she could have said differently, and things she could have not said at all. She remembered the cruel words she‘d spoken the day before.

Guilt grew from her gut and permeated her body. Her breathing shallowed. This had to be a big hit. It would take more heroin and crack than usual to change this feeling. This feeling on top of her grief, her anger, and her fears had done more than add to them. It felt as if they‘d all been amplified. The noise had to be muted.

The speedball she‘d prepared was overgenerous but essential. She needed to get to nirvana. Without a tourniquet, she squeezed her wrist and went straight for a visible vein in her hand.

She fell back on the sofa and thought this time she might die. This was overdose territory. She lost control of her body as she convulsed. She tried to scream for help but no words came, not recognisable words. She could hear herself babbling but couldn‘t tell if she was making those sounds or if they were coming from inside her head.

S/S: Now we’re hearing Shelley’s shock upon finding that her friend Tara, too, has things hidden in her past, things that she’s been unable to speak about, and Shelley’s over-amplified guilt at seeing herself as not having been a better friend.

Ruth, why would that upset Shelley to the point where she nearly kills herself to get away from the pain?

Ruth: It’s not that alone that brings Shelley to this point. Already being in an extremely dark place, the situation with Tara tips her over the edge. Shelley carries guilt that does not belong to her, as many survivors of abuse do, whether that be childhood abuse or being raped as an adult, for example. This victim-blaming culture perpetuates that. For example, when a woman is raped, some people will blame that rape on what she was wearing, whether she was drunk or had taken drugs, if she was out late at night alone etc. The rape is the fault of the rapist and no one else.

Shelley is a sensitive, kind and caring young woman. She is quick to take on responsibility for caretaking others, as she had as a child within her family, and still does during the time the novel is set in her early twenties. She feels inadequate, not good enough, in many ways. From being at the receiving end of abuse in her childhood and the negative messages that go along with that, she speaks to herself in that same way. In transactional analysis, a branch of psychiatry, it is said we have three ego states: parent, adult and child. The parent ego state is formed by what we hear from our parents/guardians as children. If they are berating when we are children, those ‘recordings’ play out in our heads as adults. It is possible to change these, but I have struggled with it myself.

S/S: So how does child abuse feed into prostitution?  What percentage of prostituted women were abused as children?  Is there a differential between different types of abuse, like physical, emotional, or sexual?  Does that matter?

Ruth: Various studies have been conducted in this. The figure I have from my dissertation is that 75% of women in prostitution have been victims of childhood sexual and physical abuse (WHISPER Oral History Project, 1987). A more recent UK study revealed that 45% suffered sexual abuse and 85% suffered physical abuse within their families (Home Office 2006).

From my personal experience of knowing many women in prostitution and many who have exited, all those I have discussed childhood abuse with have suffered that themselves. I have also known some men in prostitution, though only a few, and again, all those who I discussed childhood abuse with had suffered that too. Some people in prostitution have suffered emotional and verbal abuse in childhood. And there are some who will not have suffered abuse as children. But there is clearly a very strong link between childhood abuse and prostitution.

S/S: Thanks so much, Ruth, for helping us to understand some links between childhood abuse and prostitution.  As a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist, I saw many young people who had ended up on the streets doing whatever they needed to do to stay alive.  Many of them had to resort to prostitution just to buy food and have a place to stay at night, although many were homeless, largely due to drug addiction that ate up all their money.  When they came into my clinic, I had a golden opportunity to talk with them and ask about why they were out on the streets instead of living at home.  Many cited “mom’s boyfriend” who was either currently sexually abusing them or trying to.  Others spoke of ongoing physical abuse since early childhood; others said that their parents “just didn’t care about them and they felt better just being on their own.”  Often, I just couldn’t hold my tears back and sometimes they cried too, although most had trained themselves to have a tough exterior, out of necessity.

More about Ruth Jacobs and her writings:

Soul Destruction: Unforgivable

SD-front border 

Enter the bleak existence of a call girl haunted by the atrocities of her childhood. In the spring of 1997, Shelley Hansard is a drug addict with a heroin habit and crack psychosis. Her desirability as a top London call girl is waning.

When her client dies in a suite at The Lanesborough Hotel, Shelley’s complex double-life is blasted deeper into chaos. In her psychotic state, the skills required to keep up her multiple personas are weakening. Amidst her few friends, and what remains of her broken family, she struggles to maintain her wall of lies.

During this tumultuous time, she is presented with an opportunity to take revenge on a client who raped her and her friends. But in her unbalanced state of mind, can she stop a serial rapist?


Soul Destruction: Unforgivable is released 29 April 2013. Available worldwide from all major online retailers in paperback and e-book. Pre-orders are available direct from Caffeine Nights

Further information and contact details:

 Ruth Jacobs’s Amazon author page –



Soul Destruction website:

Author Website:

Ruth Jacobs Bio

 Ruth Jacobs writes a series of novels entitled Soul Destruction, which expose the dark world and the harsh reality of life as a call girl. Her debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, is released on 29 April 2013 by Caffeine Nights. Ruth studied prostitution in the late 1990s, which sparked her interest in the subject. She draws on her research and the women she interviewed for inspiration. She also has firsthand experience of many of the topics she writes about such as posttraumatic stress disorder, rape, and drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to her fiction writing, Ruth is also involved in non-fiction for her charity and human rights campaigning work in the areas of anti-sexual exploitation and anti-human trafficking.

In Memory of John Fleagle: He Once Was a True Friend of Mine

It’s Friday night and all I can think of is John.  I know why: it’s only five days till Beltane, May Day.

Sumer is iccumen in, loude singe cuccu,

Groweth sede and bloweth mede,

And springthe the worlde anew,

Singe cuccu,

Owe bleatheth after lambe

Lowthe after calve cu…..(13th c. round, author unknown)

And we would go down to the Charles River before dawn on May Morning, with the New Cambridge Morris dancers, and take off our clothes and bathe in the frigid Charles, and then dress all in white.  Then, with John and I and assorted others playing pipes and tabors (a medieval drum), we would all set off, the dancers in their marching step and the musicians setting the pace, until we came to Harvard Yard.  There the Morris would form a ring and begin their special May Morning dances.  The accompanying Laydies in their white robes would laugh when the Jester, with his balloon made from an inflated pig’s bladder attached to a stick by means of a string, would mischievously smack their behinds with it; they would run after him and try to catch him, and he would run off swinging his pig’s bladder over his head and laughing maniacally.

The Swordsman bore upon his upraised sword a huge round cake upon a board, and doled out slices to everyone.  The one who got the silver charm hidden in the cake would have his or her heart’s desire fulfilled that year.  (And hopefully not a broken tooth in the bargain.)

Then on to Cambridge Common, where the Maypole was in place, with its many-coloured ribbons tied to its base.  At a signal from the Master, each one took his ribbon, and when the music commenced, the dancers began to weave the pole, half dancing sunwise and half widdershins, until the ribbons were woven into one, and tied again at the base.  Then the eggs and ale were passed around, and merry-making continued until the shadows grew long in the afternoon.

John and I met at Old Sturbridge Village, a 17th century reenactment museum in Western Massachusetts,  in 1973.  We were both playing for a day of dancing there.  We were playing in different bands, and met during a jam session between dances.  We fell in friendship-love immediately.  His beautiful chiseled features, tousled blond hair and lithe body in his period costume intoxicated me; but not only was he beautiful in form, but an ancient yet innocent purity of spirit caught me up in its beauty.  And to boot, he was a musician of rare talent and skill.  How rare, I was to discover over the next four years.

Soon after the Sturbridge Village dance, I decided to move from Western Massachusetts to Cambridge, where I was involved with the Contra Dance and Playford (English Country) Dance scene.  John and I often crossed paths at the dances and played in the pickup bands.  He wanted to move into Cambridge too, so we collected a group of four musicians: John, Elliot Ribner, Peter Amidon, and myself, and we rented a four bedroom flat in what was, at that time, one of the low-rent districts of Cambridge, which is now the high-rent district: Inman Square.

Our flat at 6 Marie Street became a hub for musicians and performing artists of all sorts.  John was mainly involved in Early Music, and studied with Marleen Montgomery, a wonderful teacher who had a large school and consort called Quadrivium.  I also studied in Quadrivium, as did Peter, and thus our place was crawling with krumhorns, sackbutts, racketts, serpents, and every size of recorder from sopranino to bass.  Elliot was involved with Irish music and shape-note singing and radio production, and I was of course the resident Old-Time banjoist when I wasn’t playing krumhorn or mandolin, singing ballads or madrigals or rounds and catches.  The place was a beautiful cacophony.

John became fascinated with luthiery and set up a workbench in his already tiny room off the kitchen.  His first project was a rebec, which is a medieval predecessor of the Middle Eastern Rebab.  He played it like a madman, once he had it made.  Then, having become proficient in playing the lute, he endeavored to make his own, and toiled away at it every spare moment.  I knew this, because my room abutted his, and through the thin wall I could often hear him planing the wooden ribs late into the night.

Photo credit: Magnatune

Photo credit: Magnatune

We often played music together.  We would get a book of recorder duets and play right through the whole thing; or sing rounds for hours at a time.  John was one of the world’s only natural counter-tenors (in the bad old days, countertenors were produced by castrating little boys who had the bad luck to have beautiful high-range singing voices.  John not only had all his body parts, but his singing range stretched from baritone to countertenor.)  His voice soared effortlessly into octaves that floated away in the clouds.  I, stuck in the lowly land of Alto, could only thrill to the wonderful flights that came out when he opened his mouth.  It always amazed me that John would sing and play with the likes of me, a mere mortal.

We were close; very close.  Sometimes we would lie together, fully clothed, on the camping mat that John called a bed (he rarely slept); for this he would have to sweep away some of the wood shavings that piled knee-high in his room (“I don’t have time to take them out!”).  We would lie there holding one another, breathing together, eye-gazing, weeping from the sweetness of it, wanting to be lovers but never daring to harm the pure love we cherished for one another.

As John’s skill in musicianship grew, so did his time commitments.  Soon he was playing with two other consorts, in addition to Quadrivium.  He would rush into the house, shower and change clothes, and rush out again.  Once I caught him in the pantry, with a bottle of vinegar in one hand and a bottle of oil in the other.  He was taking swigs alternately from one bottle and the other.

“John, what on earth are you doing?” I cried.

“I don’t have time to make a salad,” he said, blushing.

I saw him less and less that year, as I was working two jobs plus gigging several nights a week, and he was busy with all of his commitments.  We managed to play a Renaissance Faire together now and then, or perform for the Society for Creative Anachronism; and of course every year on May Morning we went down to the Charles with the Morris Ring.

Things changed; I moved off to Chicago, and John joined the Early Music consorts Alexander’s Feast and the Boston Camerata, and we soon stopped writing.  I heard through another former roommate at 6 Marie that he had married and moved to California.  I was joyful that he had found his mate, but still a bit sad that we had never managed to overcome our fear of ruining things, and had remained chaste lovers.

John died in 1999, of throat cancer.  It struck me as a bitter thing, to inflict such a death on a singer so sweet: he was known in close circles as “L’Ange,” The Angel.  I learned of his death a few months after he was gone, from one of the roommates.  She gave me one of his recent CDs, and do you know, I have not yet had the courage to listen to it.  I think I might just die of grief.  I loved him so.


John Fleagle, L’Ange

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture


Uzbekistani (Bucharin) Jews putting on an impromptu play about Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai for the holiday Purim, taken at Shuk Machane Yehudah (the central marketplace) in Jerusalem with an iPhone, 2010

depression comix #120 (rape, suicide, self-harm trigger warnings apply)

Clay tells it how it is, once again. Cruelty kills.

Depression Comix


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Soul Destruction

Is prostitution an okay and healthy if it’s entered into voluntarily? Is there really such a thing as voluntary prostitution? Are people who want to end prostitution just repressed prudes who want to dictate other people’s lifestyle choices? Come on over to Black Box Warnings as our own Ruth Jacobs, author of the Soul Destruction book and diary series on the life of prostitution and drug addiction, tackles these thorny questions, and join the discussion!

Earth Day, And I Am Alive And Well

Earth Day  has always been a challenge for me.  Some of you may be old enough to remember the very first Earth Day, April 22, 1970.  It was a big deal: there had been an environmental consciousness movement rumbling beneath the earth’s crust, and suddenly it broke through in fire and smoke into a real above-ground popular movement with a “Day” all its own!

But that’s not what was happening for me.  I was a misfit 16-year-old, lonely and depressed, and somebody liked my legs, and I got dragged into a dark musty basement and violently raped.  The physical and psychological (not to mention sexual, oh no) consequences have followed me like an unwanted companion all of my life.

Hence, every April 22 since 1970, that would be 42 of them not counting this one, I have had a relapse of the off-the-charts PTSD symptoms that I got courtesy of the events of that day, plus a large dose of depression to go with them.


This year I have been hard at work writing my novel, which is based on the events of that day and the seven months following it.  I have written that scene many times, minutely, going over and over it to make it perfect.  I have submitted it to a few contests as a short short fiction piece, and had it rejected because it was too graphic.  Victory!  I am not pulling punches.  I am not turning away in fear or disgust.  I am writing it like it is, like it was.

And today is once again April 22nd, “The Unhappiest Day of the Year,” as I used to dub it.

But guess what:  I’m not unhappy!  I’m not keyed up with the tension of waiting for the “big one,” the giant wave of PTSD to hit, pulling me under and keeping me inundated until it decides to leave me bedraggled and panting on the sands of release.

I just feel normal.

I grant you, I am a little suspicious of this, but I’m going with it, you betcha.  If this means that all of the agony of describing that day in living color time and time again has allowed it to flow out of my head via the miracle of touch-typing, then I thank all the gods and goddesses there are, even the ones I don’t know about.

Happy Earth Day, people.

Sometimes A Scream

Photo on 2013-04-20 at 21.37


Sometimes a scream

Gets stuck behind

My breastbone

It’s the one for when

I gave my dog away

130 pounds of

Black Alsatian sweetness

He didn’t like my boyfriend

I should have kept the dog

That dog knew my heart

And now my heart is hurt

And that scream, stuck behind

My breastbone

Has no way to get out

Sometimes a scream

Gets jammed in my windpipe

In my voicebox, really.

It’s the one for when

I closed the office door

For the last time:

Children’s Health Care

Office Closed.

I locked that door myself

But I left something inside

A chunk of bleeding flesh

It looks like a piece of my liver,

The one that is stuck in my windpipe

Trying to scream.

Sometimes a scream

Struggles with my lips,

As I fill the compartments

Of my medication boxes

One, two, three, seven

Pills for tonight

More for the morning

All to keep me from

Screaming and screaming and screaming.