This is Scary

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/03/28/german-rail-service-to-roll-out-women-only-train-cars-amid-fears-over-migrant-assaults.html

It’s very sad to see that people who have found a safe haven from the violence of war in Syria, are biting the very hand that opened the doors of safety to let them in.

I have seen enough first-hand to know that men from religious communities where women are expected to cover themselves, consider any woman who does not cover to be a “whore,” fair game for sexual harassment and assault.

These “migrant” (in quotes because they are refugees, not true migrants) men are confused.  They think that German women should play by their rules.  They forget that they are actually guests in their host country, and should be on their best behavior.  Instead they have brought a new brand of terror into the home of their hosts.

But is Germany making noises about packing these criminals off, back to where they came from?  If so, please let me know, because I would like to wish them bon voyage.

No, instead, Germany’s response is to provide special segregated train cars for women and their young children.  Boys up to 10 years of age can ride with their moms.  Otherwise the boys must ride in the cars with “everybody else.”

Ohhhhh-kaaaay.

How many things can you find wrong with this picture?

First…uh, first….

There are just so many, I don’t even know where to start.

First, Germany needs a massive kick in the ass for tolerating what amounts to an epidemic of lawlessness, to which it responds not by deporting the perpetrators, but by punishing women for the crime of going on about their lives as German citizens and not putting on burkas so as not to get raped. 

The concession of designated rail cars for women who don’t want to get raped is outrageous.  How about designating male-only cars instead, for males traveling without a female escort?

And what about male children over the age of ten, who, in the female-only scheme, cannot travel with their mothers?  I would never, ever trust a young male to the same criminal element that is causing Germany to scramble for a solution to sexual assaults on its women.  Have they not heard of “bacha bazi”?  “Boy play/games,” that means.  Rape of boys, very common in the Arab world, culturally acceptable in many areas.  Not so much in Germany, though.

I am not interested in politics.  At.  All.  I am interested in the humane treatment of all creatures.  And I have a particular interest in protecting people who do good in the world.

German women and children should not have to pay the price for its misguided government having opened its doors indiscriminately to gangs of ruffians who repay kindness with raping and pillaging. 

I’m sure there are many good-heated and deserving refugees among the evil ones.  Let them police themselves!   Or are there really so many bad apples that the whole barrel is rotten?   So many, that women must take refuge in separate rail cars, in their own native land?

Those who bite the hand that opens the door to safety must go.  The good and kind people who opened their borders to those who appeared to be in distress must not live in fear for their safety.  They must not sacrifice their quality of life for a public relations campaign on the part of their government.

Or is Ms. Merkel in bed with Mr. Trump????

Compassion, Not Judgement, For Girls Like Me

I have been unwillingly sucked into a Facebook conversation with the wife of an old and dear friend.  She loudly condemns abortion, and calls everyone who has had one a “murderer.”

In that case, I guess I am a murderer in her eyes.

At age 16 I was drugged, dragged into a dark, damp basement, and brutally raped.  Then the same rapist started “sharing” me with his friends.  I finally escaped, onto the streets, where I traded my body for food, shelter, and sometimes a five dollar bill.  I was in a state of dissociation that has followed me down the years–45 years, to be exact–as of this coming April 22.

This righteous lady crows that she was also raped, and managed to have her baby, with the help of my friend.

Lucky lady.  I had no friends at the time, nor anywhere to turn.  I was homeless, and knew that my baby would be taken from me by the state if I had her.  I’m sure it was a “her.”

So I took the only path that I could see, and I had an abortion.

It was horrible.  It turned out to be on the the last day of the third month.  It traumatized everyone, including the doctor who did it.  On my follow-up visit to the hospital, he accused me of “having sex irresponsibly and then getting rid of it.”

I could not reply to him.  His judgmental attitude triggered feelings of my mother’s constant judgment and criticism, and it rendered me speechless.  I took his verbal thrashing and went away feeling like a kicked dog, along with the terrible sadness of pregnancy loss.  I had already felt the little flutter of life, I knew I had killed my baby, and I was being castigated for taking the only path open to me.

A few days postoperatively my breasts swelled up and started leaking fluid.  I made a panicked call to the medical resident who had performed the abortion.

“You’re lactating,” he said coldly.  “Buy a tight bra.”

“Lactating.”  I had to look that one up.  “Producing milk.”  Oh no.  More grief, fueled by the physical evidence of no baby.  And I bled profusely, because of the lateness of the abortion.  Money for pads there was none, so I relied on rags ripped from cloth things I found in the dumpsters, that I washed by hand without soap, because there was usually no soap in the public restrooms where I washed my hair in cold water, and rinsed out my underwear when they got too stiff to be comfortable.

“Tight bra?”  I didn’t have money for a 25 cent hamburger, let alone any kind of bra.  So I leaked and ached for a couple of weeks till it went away.

Oh God, those were horrible times.  And yet, they were nothing compared to the abuse that drove me from the parental “home.”

Sure, I could have gone to one of the “homes for unwed mothers.”  One or two of my classmates had suddenly disappeared, only to return several months later, depressed and bereft, stigmatized and avoided.  Our mothers strictly forbade us to socialize with them.  One of them whom I knew well suicided.  I could not bring myself to go that route.

Yes, I had an abortion.  I don’t regret it.  I’m sad about it, always will be, and wonder what would have happened if I had had my baby.  She would have been almost 45 now–what would she be doing?  She would not have had much of an upbringing, if I had kept her the way this lady did.  I had no resources myself.

Nowadays there are many options for girls who get pregnant: open adoptions, where the girl can participate in her child’s life, and in the adoptive parents’ lives, almost like another child in their family.  There is foster care, which can help a girl grow up while her baby is in a safe place (usually!).  There are many programs that support pregnant teens with educational and job skills while they complete their pregnancy, so that they can support themselves and their baby and not be dependent on their own families or the state for sustenance.  And of course there are the many grandparents–more grandparents than birth parents are willing to help their grandchildren through an accidental pregnancy and with helping to raise the child, for multiple reasons.

So I ask, don’t judge me for the decision I made as a child.  What I need is compassion.  Even if you are vehemently against abortion for your own reasons, and would never have an abortion in your own life–please be kind to those who are in desperate straits, and choose abortion because that is the only avenue they can see at the time.

The King and Queen of Denial

Today started out like any Wednesday, taking care of my 89-year-old father so my 87-year-old mother could get out of the house for the afternoon.

Dad was a little “off” today: he wasn’t happy with his omelette for lunch.  He would rather have had one more piece of toast but preferred to grumble about it rather than ask for it.  I didn’t mind.  After all, he’s 89 and very disabled, in pain all the time, and it amazes me that he manages to get through most of his days in mild-to-moderately good spirits.

Mom came in from shopping, bringing the mail that she picked up at the post office.  There was a package from LL Bean for me.  She wanted to see what was in it; I demurred, because the gift for her upcoming birthday was in it.  She got demanding and insistent.  There was a bit of a tussle until I finally remembered that there was something in that package for me, too, and I cagily extracted it.  That satisfied her.

I looked at my mail; nothing but “begging letters.”  I have specific charities I give to regularly, so I threw them all in the recycle bin.

The conversation turned to politics, and somehow got onto someone whose past as a prostitute had recently been revealed.

Mom reacted acidly.  How could anyone sink so low?  What in the world would cause anyone to do THAT?  She’d rather die.

“I did that,” I said quietly.

“YOU DID NOT!” She shouted, staring at me blinking out of her little birdy eyes as if I was the world’s biggest liar.

“Come OFF IT” shouted my father, several decibels softer than he would have in his prime, but doing the best he could muster.

“You were never a prostitute,” stated my mother matter-of-factly.

“Unfortunately, I was, when I ran away.”

“Then you deserved what you got!  You’re lucky you didn’t pick up some disease!  Maybe you DID pick up some disease,” she said thoughtfully.  “Why in the world did you do that?”

“I did it because I was cold and hungry, I needed food and shelter and safety from the streets.”

“You never told us that.  You never told us anything.  You just left us all of a sudden.  You robbed us of raising you!  You robbed us of our only child!”

I robbed them of their only child.  That was all they could think of.  They didn’t ask me why I ran away to California, or why, when they flew me back East for a family event, I ran back to California as soon as it was over.  Even if they had asked me then, I wouldn’t have told them.

I was scheduled for an abortion. I needed to get back to California.

It’s been forty-four years since I bought that one-way ticket to San Francisco.  Forty-four years since the bullying at school, my mother’s frequent unpredictable rages, and the vicious rape that took my virginity rolled up into critical mass.  I knew I had to either kill myself or get out of there.  I chose the latter.

I hit the streets in California broke, disoriented, and from my perspective now, unbelievably vulnerable.  Nowhere to stay, nothing to eat.  The weather was cold that spring, and I was dressed for California sunshine, not cold fog.

The first night I stayed with a friend I had met at a summer camp.  Her parents had a party that very night, and I went to bed early, exhausted from the trip.  The bedroom door opened and closed, and suddenly a man’s body was on top of mine.  A voice hissed in my ear, “Don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt.”

It was the same thing my first rapist had hissed.  That first time.

Many more rapes, and finally it dawned on me that I could get food and places to stay and maybe a little money to buy a new toothbrush.  Nothing big-time: I didn’t even know what I was doing.  Just surviving, that’s all.

Why didn’t I give up and go home?

Because the streets and the rapes and the johns were better than the screaming and the “silent treatment” and the rapist there who watched me like a hawk, trying to get me to “be nice” to his friends in exchange for some Panama Red….and the school principal who regularly lectured me on the fact that I was a weirdo and would never amount to anything.  At least this bad scene was MY bad scene.  I chose it over being a one-girl shooting range at “home.”

“Home is where the heart is.”  There was only one heart, and it was beating in my chest.  Now, as then.

“You deprived us of raising you!  You robbed us of our only child!”

And yet…and yet what?  You only thought of yourselves?  You still, forty-four years later, think only of yourselves and not why I ran away, let alone what happened to me out there?

“You deserved whatever you got.  You chose it.  You deprived us of our only child!”

God help us.

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 http://soul-destruction.com/on-prostitution.

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 –

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ruth-Jacobs/e/B008O

US: http://www.amazon.com/Ruth-Jacobs/e/B008OJ0ZMC

Soul Destruction website: http://soul-destruction.com

Author Website: http://ruthjacobs.co.uk

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.

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.

But.

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.

Noga The Wonderdog: my anchor to reality

Noga the Wonder Dog

Meet Noga.  She’s my Psychiatric Service Dog.  What service does she provide for me?   She keeps me grounded in reality.

You see, many years ago I was raped.  Not once, but many times.  And that has provided me with a whopping case of PTSD:  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The way I coped with being a homeless street kid who got raped a lot was to dissociate.  To leave my body behind, while horrible things were being done to it, and go floating away to Somewhere Else.  It became a habit with my brain, to dissociate from anything threatening; and at last my brain started doing it all on its own, in response to triggers that I may not even be aware of.

And even now, forty years later, I often find that I have been “gone” for hours at a time.  I often have no idea what happened to trigger the episode.  But Noga can tell when I have dissociated, and she jumps up on my legs and “bops” me with her feet, and if necessary, pulls at my pants leg to bring me back to the here-and-now.

And then there are the nightmares.  In my last post I showed you a picture of all the pills I have to take in order to get through the night.  But even with all those drugs, some nights (like last night, for example) I will dream, or hallucinate, or both, that someone has climbed through the window and is standing over me.  B.N. (Before Noga), I could spend hours in a half-dream, half-waking state of paralysis, waiting for the intruder to make his move.  But Noga is a fierce 13 pound watch dog, and she bites!  Now if I have a nightmare I can reach over and if Noga is sleeping beside my left shoulder as she always does, I know there is nothing to fear and I can safely go back to sleep.  Here is Noga keeping the bed warm:

Noga refuses to get out of bed on a rainy morning!

Whose bed do you think this is, anyway?

There are other things she does for me, besides being my Service Dog.  She keeps my right elbow at the proper height for typing by curling up under it, for instance.  That plaid thing is my elbow.

20130319_221249

Plus, she’s just my cute little buddy.

20130114_104325

Noga hates getting her hair wet.

Photos courtesy of my Samsung Galaxy SIII phone.

 

Sleep PTSD

Michael Jackson died of sleep.  More correctly, he died of trying to get a good night’s sleep.  Notice the expression:  Good Night’s Sleep.  Not a Bad Night’s Sleep, or even a Night’s Sleep.  A Good Night’s Sleep.  That is important, and I’ll tell you why later.  First I have to say that thankfully, the only thing I have in common with Michael Jackson is off-the-charts insomnia.  Michael Jackson was a sad, sorry, probably bad, person.  He was a great singer, a brilliant choreographer and dancer, an insomniac, and a pedophile.  He was horribly abused as a child, but that does not excuse his pedophilia.  Now I am ranting about Michael Jackson.  I will stop now.

I don’t know.  Maybe I do have something else in common with MJ.  I think something happened to both of us when we were little children, before the age of talking.  I have noticed in my life as a pediatrician and specialist in child abuse, focusing on child sexual abuse, that things that happen to preverbal children often cannot be healed, because there is no way to access them.  Sometimes you can get to it through modalities like hypnotherapy and NLP; I’ve done them both.  In fact, I’m a certified NLP practitioner, and during my year’s training I had many hypnotherapy and NLP sessions focused on my inability to sleep, and all of them made sense, and none of them worked.

You see, I am a professional non-sleeper.  When I was a child I often took a book and a flashlight with me under the covers and read till dawn, then went out to enjoy the morning birds’ chorus until it was time to go in the house and pretend I’d been asleep.  Not sleeping was a sin, in my house.  “You go to sleep right now!”  As if that were something voluntary.  I don’t know, maybe it is, for some people.

Sometimes I would get so scared at night that I would cry, and my dad would sometimes come in and make me “an Army Bedroll.”  (He is a World War II veteran.)  He would make me a tight cocoon with my covers, a comforting blanket embrace.  Then he would like down on the floor next to my bed and fall asleep.  He can sleep anytime, anywhere.  How I envy that.  I would listen to him snore, and find myself awake in the dawn, having slept soundly, and he had gone back to bed with my mom.  (For the record, I will say here that my father never, ever did anything that could be remotely considered to be inappropriate with me.  Ever.)

From the Army Bedroll I learned to make a mummy case out of my bedding.  I would get all the covers tucked under me as tight as I could, including over my head.  I do not know how I breathed, but since I am still alive that is proof that I did (hmmm, maybe my brain dysfunction is due to chronic nocturnal hypoxia).  This seemed to work for a while, but soon it wore off and I found myself just lying there mummified until early morning, when I would drift off to sleep until the alarm clock of my mother’s screech “Get up, it’s time for school!” would wake me and I would struggle out of my tangled prison.

(Aside: When I was ten I got hit by a car and spent a week in the hospital in a minor coma.  When they moved me into a regular room my parents came to visit.  I was trying to get some sleep, so I had mummified myself.  I was rudely awakened by my mother’s shrieks when she saw me lying there with the white sheets over my head.  I still get a satisfied snort out of that.)

The hormonal armageddon of puberty seemed to bring about a welcome shift in the sleep department.  Instead of being permanently wired, I became permanently sleepy.  That was nice.  I had a few years’ respite from the night-time nasties.

Then I ran away from home, and endured a series of nocturnal intruders in my bed.  No more sleeping at night for me.  Night was not a safe time to sleep.  It was a time to be vigilant.  And so my nocturnal PTSD reawakened.

As those of you who read my blog with any regularity know, when I am not writing about electric toilets or outhouses, I generally write about my own boring alphabet soup of psychiatric diagnoses: BP, PTSD, OCD (what, I haven’t written about that one yet?  Oversight.  Note to self.), ASD, MDD, blah blah blah, boring.  I’m just so sick of it.  I just want to go back to work and have fun being a doctor like I used to, not sit around being ashamed of my life, the way it’s turned out.

Yes, I am ashamed that I have to take four different kinds of medicine in order to fall asleep (read: pass out from drugs).  Seroquel, which also helps me not feel anything the rest of the time; clonazepam, which helps with the night terrors; lorazepam, which helps calm me down so I don’t leap out of bed and run out the door if I hear a noise; and zolpidem, which has recently had some very bad press in the medical literature, but since I don’t seem to be able to sleep without it, and since bipolar disorder is known to be worsened by lack of sleep, I am stuck.

I just read a great article on how to retrain yourself out of insomnia, using a combination of NLP and DBT techniques.  It looks like it would work for anybody who has “normal” insomnia.  The problem is with me, sleep is associated with being raped, so I don’t think it’s going to work.  I’m going to give it a try, though.  Nothing to lose but a few drugs, and a great deal to gain.

Is Prostitution Ever Voluntary?

Yes, I know this is a blog about being bipolar.  And you know what?  I think the topics of bipolar-ism and prostitution go hand in hand.

And why is that?  It is because pimps hone in on the vulnerable, the lonely, the ones who are looking for love and not finding it, the ones with poor self esteem, the depressed, the confused.  And because the mentally ill often become homeless, jobless, drug-addicted, and desperate.

It’s still January, and January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  I’ve been reading a lot and learning a lot about the dynamics of sex trafficking and prostitution.  Among the things I’ve learned are that:

  • Depending on the study, the average age for entry into prostitution is 11 to 13 years old.
  • The vast majority of prostituted youth (and adults) come from abusive homes.
  • Girls (and sometimes boys) are often “groomed” by “loverboys” who give them jewelry, clothes, and mostly, attention, and when they are “ready” they are abducted and forced into a life of slavery.
  • This goes on in virtually every country.
  • Girls who try to refuse to cooperate are beaten and raped into submission
  • Girls are “domestically trafficked,” which means they are moved from city to city within a country: like from Columbus, OH to Detroit, MI, for instance
  • Girls as young as 12 and 13 get arrested, thrown into jail, and charged with prostitution, while pimps and johns go scot free

Can you imagine being taken away and raped over and over, many times a day, for years, until you either “disappear” or get spit out on the street because you are too old to appeal to the child rapists any longer?  It just totally tears me apart.

And then there is the child pornography.  Need I say more?

But prostitution is “the oldest profession.”  Isn’t it?  Women (and men) CHOOSE to sell their bodies because

  • They like sex
  • They like money
  • They like sex AND money
  • It’s easy money
  • It’s an exciting, glamourous lifestyle
  • It’s empowering to women to be able to do whatever they want with their bodies

Not really.  If you want to know how glamourous and empowering the prostitution lifestyle is, look at the rates of drug abuse.  Prostituted women are either given drugs by their pimps to keep them cooperative, or else the women themselves develop drug habits to escape from the hell of being used as sperm receptacles.  Those with serious drug habits often do get into a vicious cycle of having to get money to buy drugs, and the quickest and easiest way to do that is to turn a trick.

I have known a lot of prostitutes, and not one of them has done it because she enjoyed the sex.  Sex for the prostituted is for one thing: money. And most of the time most of the money doesn’t go to her, it goes to the pimp or madam who rents her out.  Prostitutes learn how to dissociate when a john is on top of them.  The problem is, the dissociation doesn’t always work: that’s where the drugs come in.

Now we come to runaways.  As some of you already know, I was a teenage runaway.  I ran away from an abusive home after being drugged, abducted, and brutally raped by a man who had been admiring me at work.  So I ended up on the street.  I wasn’t there because I wanted to be; I was there because I thought I was going to find peace and love.  What I found was that if I needed food, shelter, a shower, drugs, anything really, the only way to get it was to sleep with some guy.  If I didn’t have a place to crash (meaning a guy to sleep with), I slept outside or walked the streets all night.

That was back in the early 1970’s.  Things have changed now, for the worse.  Runaways now are caught and funneled into the sex trafficking business by pimps who work the streets looking for them.  It is very easy to spot a runaway.  Your hair is uncombed, your clothes are a mess from sleeping under some bush in the park, you are probably carrying a backpack, maybe a sleeping bag if you thought that far ahead.  You look homeless, because you are.

So some handsome, well groomed guy offers to buy you a meal, and you are hungry.  Then he offers you a place to crash, and you are tired of sleeping in doorways or in the park, and have probably been raped a couple of times by now so you are ready to come indoors.  Then you discover that you can’t get out.  And then the nightmare really begins.  That’s the way it is now.

As for the glamourous call-girl life, I’ve known a couple of women who’ve done that.  I thought about it myself sometimes, when I was young and beautiful and needed money to make it through college.  Yeah, I have some friends who got through school by “turning tricks,” as it was called back then.  I have never seen such damaged people in my life, apart from the ones who were kidnapped into it.  My friends who were “voluntarily” prostituting themselves found their self-esteem eroded trick by trick, and to bolster themselves up they had to turn another trick, and another….”the life” becomes an addiction.

We were all hooked on cocaine.  My cocaine habit was small change compared with theirs.  I did coke because it actually treated my depression (I didn’t realize that till years later); they did coke because they couldn’t stand their lives.  I got my coke by sleeping with dealers; they got their coke by turning tricks to make the money to buy more coke.  I guess I was a prostitute too, huh?  I just didn’t do it for cash, because I was scared to.  I did it for “stuff,” whatever was needed at the time.  Yeah, I heard myself being called a “coke whore,” but I chose not to listen until one morning I woke up next to yet another man I had never seen before, and I quit. Cold turkey quit.  I was one of the lucky ones.

To get back to the original question: Is Prostitution Ever Voluntary?  My answer is: it can look that way, when it’s an adult woman who makes what she thinks is an informed, purposeful choice, because she thinks she can make money quickly and easily that way.  But once in “the life,” a woman becomes trapped, either by her pimp or her drug habit or the crushing of her soul that is prostitution. Then it’s not voluntary: it’s slavery.

 

Reblogged from In the Booth with Ruth: Dina Leah

Dina Leah, a survivor of child abuse and rape, ran away from home at age 16 only to find herself homeless on the streets. The only way to get shelter, food, and other necessities was to have sex with strange men. This led to more rapes, and a vicious cycle of drug abuse, survivor sex, and homelessness. She is currently writing a novelized memoir, using a pseudonym out of fear of her abusors. Ruth Jacobs, tireless advocate for change and abolition of prostitution, interviews Dina here about Dina’s life as a writer. In a second interview on Ruth’s website, Dina talks about her life as a runaway and how it has affected her, both as an activist for street kids and in her own personal life.