Politicizing Rape Inflicts More Injury to Victims
Five Latina rape survivors share their stories and fight for rights
Elia Esparza, Spicy Cilantro
Originally published at Spicy Cilantro
Published on LatinoLA: November 5, 2012
When the Republicans decided to make "rape" a political issue, they underestimated the firestorm of controversy they were creating. Spicy Cilantro asked five women to share deeply painful and personal stories, and to our surprise, not one of them hesitated. Guess calling American rights activist Sandra Fluke a "slut" by a fat ignorant white drug addict man was not a good idea. After a few dimwitted GOP men shared their insights on "legitimate rape" and that "pregnancy resulting from rape was God's decision," they discovered it was not a winning pitch.
Spicy Cilantro's women will be first in line to vote on November 6th for president. We are big on protecting our women rights and hope you will join us. If you can, take the time to reach each woman's story and give us your feedback. Share this with other friends.
Lisa: Silence Added Pain to Brutal Attack
In 1994, at the age of 22, I was brutally raped on the campus of my alma mater UC Davis. I refused to report my rape because my father was a public official and I couldn't bear watching him and my mother deal with such a horrific situation publicly. There is no greater pain a young, innocent, naive woman can endure than an assault on her body, mind and spirit. The year prior, I lost my mother to breast cancer and little did I know only six short years later I would bury my father and second mom ‘«Ű both victims of cancer. Those were some of the anguished moments of my life.
The darkest days were never behind me. Nearly 60 days of complete sadness, bewildered fright, extreme humility, painful betrayal, intense anger and deafening loneliness don't begin describe what I've experienced this summer. I was born into a family of incredibly intense, strong fighters ‘«Ű the women especially ‘«Ű and I found no way possible to gather my own strength to fight the battle standing in front of me.
Some people who matter turned away from me and those who love me spent every waking moment making sure I didn't fall into the scary abyss known as depression. I'm a changed woman forever. My view on politics is negative at best and public service ‘«Ű something near and dear to my heart ‘«Ű is something I've all but given up on. I no longer believe in making the world a better place for my children through my active participation, but instead I'm focused solely on ensuring that my children fight for their place in this world. Some say my feelings will change; I see it differently.
The night is always darkest, pitch black just before I see the dawn on the horizon. I'm still writing my story, never again allowing those around me ‘«Ű family and friends ‘«Ű to define who I am. I will not judge; I haven't walked in your shoes. I will not criticize; I don't know what's best for you. I will love and forgive my enemies; best advice I ever got from God.I'm holding on for dear life, putting my faith in God and no one else. I may be down but trust me, I'm not out.
‘«ŰLisa is a community activist who is passionate about education and public service. She lives in Sacramento with her husband Edgard and children Andres (13) and Emilio (10).
Louisa Azul: Attempting to Integrate Grace
Without grace, I for one, am nothing.
It is common belief that that we do not remember our lives at three and four years old. That is not true. How can a mind that young translate violent familial betrayal into understandable facts? It can't. However, the body never forgets the pain, shame, fear, and guilt.
My mind remembers what I call "the stoppers": the events, my mother's discoveries that stopped father's abuse. His molestations ended before I went to school, but I remained afraid to speak and trapped in a whirlpool of confusion.
Today, finally able to love the four-year-old Me who survives, struggling with the seen and unseen pieces again, and again, and again over the years, I now migrate through the shards of the puzzle finding occasional peace writing poetry.
prays for deliverance
smashes the mirror
falls to the floor
reassembles the pieces
sips the cup of grace
‘«ŰLouisa Azul is a small business owner from the Midwest. She is compiling her poetry into a chapbook and a haiku collection.
Eliana: Little Girl Secrets
I never thought I would be talking about this in 2012. After my childhood sexual abuse ruined my two marriages, womanhood, shattered any semblance of dreams, self-esteem, self-confidence and after therapy, spiritual guidance, and some anxiety fighting perks like Xanax ‘«™ somehow I managed to get on with my life. Then several GOP buffoons shared their knowledge on "rape," it was like someone had grabbed me from behind and pressed me against a prickly bush of jasmine and violated me all over again.
My mother was a divorced woman with two kids, my brother three years old and I four when she remarried. My brother and I fell over each other rushing to put our new father's slippers on. I still remember how happy we were to be a family with a mom and dad. I believe there are men who seek out women with children because they conceal a deep and dark secret of being pedophiles. I can now say without a doubt that my stepfather never loved my mother. But he did love her kids. Especially, me.
From about fie years old until I was almost 15 years old, my stepfather violated me in every horrible way imaginable. In my youth, child abuse was an unspoken taboo. My mother never found out because I hid it so well. I was frozen with fear and also afraid that she might kill him and then I would be an orphan. Honest, I believed this.
I'm not sure how to explain the fear I felt. Do you know that I could never take a shower until I was 15 years old? The water raining on my body scared me to death. "He" made me believe that he could make gasoline pour out of the facets and that I would burn to death if I ever said anything. Fear invaded my soul like a cancer, eating away at every childhood dream I ever had. I was scared of everything. A dark room. As a child I'd be eating my meals and I'd scream hysterically if an ant crawled nearby. My stepfather never missed a beat. To frighten me, he'd lay an ant on my arm or a snail inside my bathrobe pockets as reminders that he was the one in control of my person, body and soul.
I grew up with so much fear, it's no wonder my childhood sexual and emotional abuse nearly destroyed me. I had to endure four years of therapy before I would allow a butterfly to stand on one of my fingers.
The abuse stopped when at 15 I pulled out a giant butcher's knife out from under my pillow. I swear to God, I would have killed him if he dared to touch me one more time. I wish I could say the pain stopped at this point but no, it haunted me into adulthood. The scars are just too deep.
Silence is the name of the game because no matter what, the victim is always made to feel it is somehow her fault.
I am pro-choice, pro-women, and pro-Barack Obama.
At eight years old, I screamed in silence. As the over-the-hill adult that I am today, I will fight hard if my peace and happy, cherished moments are threatened‘«™ and I'm not about to surrender any part of my womanhood to schmucks who know nothing about women.
A Vote for President Barack Obama, is a vote for me. For all women.
‘«Ű Eliana is an editor, writer, author and blogger, and a child abuse prevention advocate.
Lydia Nicole: Sex In Spanish Harlem
I grew up in the middle of Spanish Harlem AKA El Barrio, to a Mom and Dad who were in the business of selling sex. By the age of six I saw things that children should never be exposed to. I was surrounded by sex, drugs, and bad makeovers. You see my father was a V.I.P. He was a very important pimp and my mother was his prostitute, and in Hollywood that makes me an actress.
My mother sent my siblings and I to catholic school "Our Lady Behind the Alley" because it was the law in El Barrio.
So, I grew up with two very opposing beliefs -- One was dark and one was very, very dark. Yet with all the ugliness that took place around me I was blessed with a very creative mind. And because of the prostitutes, the criminals and the church I learned how to sell anything to anybody at anytime. I was adored and protected by the drug dealers and number runners because of my ability to mimic them, tell tales, and give blow-by-blow news accounts of everything everybody in the neighborhood was doing which earned me the nickname of "La Loca".
Because they all thought I was crazy.
But all that pain and fear fertilized my creativity. It drove me to be an actress and comedienne. I learned to take my pain and make it funny. But more importantly I learned to use my childhood tragedy and artistic skills to bring healing and hope. I would not trade my childhood for anything in the world. I thank God everyday for growing up in el Barrio, going to catholic school and getting raised by Spanish Harlem's version of Boardwalk Empire.
‘«ŰLydia Nicole is a veteran actress who also writes, produces and motivates the masses. She is also a stand up comedian and was a regular at Hollywood's famed Comedy Store, and featured at The Laugh Factory, Ice House, and various latino hotspots. Lydia performs her autobiographical one-woman show based on her childhood "A Rose Grows in Spanish Harlem" in which she transforms herself into over 25 characters. But most importantly, Lydia is the proud mother of an NYU student.
Marisol: My Childhood Molestation Was Akin to Slavery
Seriously speaking, I was a slave. Not only did my step-father molest me, but he treated me like a slave. I had to iron his work clothes, warm up his tortillas, have the house clean before he got home from work, and I feared him. I feared his wrath, and I feared bedtime. I had to put up with him from the tender age of 7 to age 15.
My childhood was spent dressing in closets and fearing bedtime and showers. I was distressed. That is why when he called me "India," "chata," "fea," and "estupida." I did not believe him. In my soul I knew not to believe. To tell you the truth, school saved me. I was a straight A student and knew that I was not stupid. But you know the way he went around that? He said that I might be school smart, but that I was not life smart.
My mother used to tell me that he suffered greatly in Mexico. She said that he was mistreated by his aunt. Pobrecito type of thing. He was an orphan. She had great compassion for this man of power. And power he had. He had power over my nights. It is a wonder I was able to function in school.
People ask me and say, "Why did you not tell your mother?" Jeez! What makes them think I never told my mother?! Isn't it unbelievable how when you tell people of this experience that they try to blame the molested? I do not know what is worse, telling your mother that you were molested when you were age seven and her telling you that he was only curious, or growing up and people telling you to get over it.
Let me tell you how this experience has shaped me. Today, I call myself a shaman. But before I called myself that, I knew to be "In, but not of this world." You see, I did not believe in "reputaci??n" (reputation) because reputaci??n was the incest secret keeper. At age 11, I told my mother to leave him. At age 11, she told me to my face "Don't tell anyone about this because they might think ill of me."
I loved my mother. I kept the secret to save our family unit's reputation. She cared very much about people's opinions of her. She was willing to sacrifice her daughter for it. But that is not the only reason she allowed him to have his whims. She told me we needed his money. It was a food, or no food, decision process. It is a patriarchy process. Because he was a man, he made the money in this society. My mother had no family here in the states. She was a poor immigrant woman and she was vulnerable. She was also suffering from PTSD because of spousal abuse by my biological father. What does this say about our racist, classist, sexist culture?
Every night as he was jacking off in from of my little body, I prayed the "Our Father" prayer. Church did not save me. God saved me. I grew up to become an educated shamanistic woman of color that writes about the key to social change. And I am beautiful!
‘«ŰMarisol is an educated woman of color who endeavors to promote the general welfare of the status quo through her shamanic writings.. a dream come true. Marisol had a spiritual awakening and is currently dancing and writing on a daily basis.
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