Assault, Beauty, Dating, Domestic Violence, Equality, Feminism, Health, Ideals, Life, Life Lessons, rape, Relationships, Self-Help, Sex, Sexual Assault, Violence, Women, Women Empowerment

Ashlee’s Story: Repeated Abuse Since Childhood

Trigger Warning:

 

Many times a person’s first encounter with sexual assault is when he or she is a child. This scars and shapes who they are and who they become for the rest of their lives. Protecting the lives of children should be one of the most important things we can do because children cannot speak for themselves. We need to do better for our children.

This is the third story in my Sexual Assault series, you can read the first two here: Callie’s Story: A Silent Cry for Help and Mary Kay’s Story: When Pressure Turns to Torture 

The main blog starts here: It’s 2017 and We Still Aren’t Safe from Sexual Assault

This is Ashlee’s interview:

What compelled you to share your story?
I’ve held it in for years and the only people who know are my therapist and my fiancé.

Where did the incident take place?
My first account with rape happened in Punxsutawney, Pa. at my biological mothers house. The second time, my own apartment in DuBois, and then the third time it happened in DuBois at a friend’s house I was staying at.

Did you know the attacker?
Yes with all three. The first incident I was attacked by family members, and the second and third time they were people I thought I could trust. It can come from anyone even if you know them.

What happened?
At the age of three I was sexually assaulted by my three older brothers. They took me and my little sister upstairs to “play.” The oldest had thrown me on the bed and pulled my pants down and did his things to me. Then my two other brothers did the same thing. After they were done with me they did the same to my younger sister. At this time they were 11,9,5.  It was reported and then we were put into foster homes, but nothing happened after that.

At the age of 18, I was living on my own after getting out of the group home in DuBois. I had a male friend that I knew so well and was a friend of mine for years come stay because I was sick and wanted company. I had taken my medication and passed out on the couch. I woke up with him inside me and his hand around my throat. I tried to say no but he covered my mouth and told me that if I refused he would get rougher and hurt me.

Finally, at the age 20, my father kicked me and my daughter out the week before Thanksgiving. We moved back to DuBois with a friend who was renting rooms out in his house. I was in the process of looking for a job and fixing things with my now fiancé. It started two days after I moved in. He would pin me up against a wall or the bed while I was trying to do laundry or getting ready for bed along with my daughter. I would repeatedly say, “No I have a boyfriend,” or just, “No.”. He kept saying if I didn’t give it to him then he would kick us out on the street, and if I told the police that he would lie. Everyone in the house knew what was going on and wouldn’t help. Soon enough I made my fiancé move in with me hoping it would stop, but because he worked night shift it continued to happen. At first I didn’t tell him what happened, and when I did he threatened to leave me and wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t upfront about the abuse in the first place.

Did you seek legal help? And if so, how long did you wait before getting the courage to come forward?
Not for all of them. I was too scared to know what they would do to me and how it would affect my life more than it already was. I’ve only told my therapist. I wish I would have got help and got justice for what has been done to me.

How has this affected your life?
It has affected me in many ways. My fiancé and I can’t even have sex because I have flashbacks and I start crying.  I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from this and other things that have happened to me.

If you had any advice for other survivors, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to get help. Just don’t wait as long as I have. Get all the help you can to get justice.

If you could say anything to your attacker, what would you say?
I hope other people come forward if you’ve done it to them so you can rot in jail.

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Assault, Beauty, Dating, Domestic Violence, Feminism, Health, Ideals, Life, Life Lessons, rape, Relationships, Self Defense, Sex, Sexual Assault, Uncategorized, Women, Women Empowerment

Callie’s Story: A Silent Cry for Help

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

This is Callie’s story. The name has been changed to protect her identity. She was comfortable enough to share the location of the events. This is in an interview format. Here is the link to the first part of this series: It’s 2017 and We Still Aren’t Safe from Sexual Assault

Here are the other stories in this series: Mary Kay’s Story: When Pressure Turns to TortureAshlee’s Story: Repeated Abuse Since Childhood

I’m compelled to add that if you or anyone sees domestic violence or sexual assault happening, you should report it. Please do not turn a blind eye. So many people are in precarious situations and they are silently begging for help. HELP THEM! Here are a list of resources: RAINNDomestic Violence Coalition

What compelled you to share your story?
I have never told anyone but my now husband about the abuse.  I just had our child and I feel like it is my responsibility to come to terms with what happened to me and try to be strong enough to one day publicly speak out.

Where did the incident take place?
There were too many incidents and locations to count. His home, the high school, my home, the city park, restaurants and stores.

Did you know the attacker?
He was my boyfriend at the time.  I was freshly 16 and he was 20.

What happened?
I met Chris at Community Days in DuBois, Pa.  I was with some girlfriends and he came up to us with a group of his friends.  He was so charismatic and handsome; I was immediately smitten.  He would build me up and make me feel so wanted.  About two months into our two-year relationship he changed.  He became physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive towards me.  Physically he would push me, hold me down, and hit me.  One night when I was at his home he pushed me down a flight of stairs. His mother watched it happen and just walked away.  He would tell me no one but him would ever love me and that if I left him he would kill me and my family.

I truly believed all the things he said to me; I was so young I didn’t know better.  I was basically screaming for help without actually telling anyone, and no one noticed.  I was sent to psychologists and put on medication, and still no one helped me out of this relationship. 

When I had just turned 18, his brother punched me for absolutely no reason one day.

I somehow got the courage to put an end to our relationship.  I stopped answering any kind of communication from him.  He started standing outside of my home and work and would just stare me down. He would send me terrible threats through Facebook and text.  My now husband would walk me to and from my car at work.  I actually moved to Pittsburgh for a bit because I was so scared.  Eventually he stopped contacting me, but he found out I had moved back to DuBois several years ago and told a mutual friend that he was going to get me back.  I began seeing him walking in my neighborhood, my husband and I decided to move out-of-town. We’ve kept our address a secret for this reason.

Did you seek legal help? And if so, how long did you wait before getting the courage to come forward?
I did not. I knew I needed help but I didn’t know where to go.  I also felt people would not understand why I couldn’t just leave for so long.

How has this affected your life?
I am constantly looking over my shoulder.  I have run into him three times in stores, and each time I was able to make out to my car before having a full blown panic attack.

If you had any advice for other survivors, what would it be?
You are not alone, and you are worth so much more than you think!

If you could say anything to your attacker, what would you say?
You took advantage of a young girl. You knew what you were doing and you are still doing it to other girls.   You shattered everything about me into pieces. I lost who I was.  In spite of you, I have found a good and kind man and I have a wonderful life now.  You were wrong!

Beauty, Health, motherhood, Relationships, Self-Help, Women, Women Empowerment

The Baby Feeding Battle

When I found out I was pregnant, I was flooded with a million emotions. These emotions haven’t really left me even though I gave birth in late January to my child. I feel happiness. I feel sadness. I feel rage.

I could go on and on.

Motherhood is the best and worst thing at the same time. You’re scared probably 90 percent of the time you’re doing something wrong and the other 10 percent you are actually enjoying your child.

That brings me to the topic of this blog: feeding your newborn.

You’ve heard it a million times. You’ve seen it everywhere. And like it or not there is, unfortunately, a war between breast feeding and bottle feeding. What’s truly unfortunate about the whole war is that it is hard enough battling outside forces when it comes to feeding your child. The last thing on any woman’s mind should be fighting that battle with another woman that feeds differently than her.

Around week 20 of my pregnancy people had started to ask me if I planned to breast or bottle feed. Some of these people were health care professionals while others were counselors. Then, of course, there were the family members and strangers that would come up to you. I always responded truthfully with, “I am going to see what the baby wants. I plan on breastfeeding but if it doesn’t work out I will happily switch”

You would swear that I just told them I was going to drown my child in the ocean.

“Breast is best.”
“Don’t you care about your child?”
“You know your child will be smarter if you breastfeed.”

It happened every time I was asked. Eventually I just told people I planned on breastfeeding forever to get them off of my back. Which in hindsight, I should not have folded to societal demands.

It is said that research shows that breast is best. I’m not even going to argue that point because it’s not worth it. I encourage women to breast feed and I encourage women to bottle feed.

What research doesn’t tell you is how you, as a mother, will react to breast feeding.

I mean the emotional demons.

My child was breech and I had a c-section. Also, as a first time mom, my milk did not come in immediately. Actually, my colostrum didn’t even come in immediately. To top it off, my baby had low blood sugar. I wouldn’t say the deck was stacked against me, but it certainly made it very difficult to feed. I remember the hospital stay. Trying to get my colostrum to come in was the worst. They hooked me up to a pump and nothing came out. Absolutely nothing was coming out of me. So as I laid there listening to my child cry for nourishment, I felt pretty useless. The nurses kept putting her on me to feed and she would just get frustrated. They too would get frustrated. Well. I would be frustrated if I was trying to eat and nothing was coming out. Finally after her sugar went too low for their liking, they gave me some formula and a syringe to feed her. I felt relief because she finally was going to be fed.

It took six days for me to get my milk in. I became a slave to the pump and to my kid. But I was willing to do it to give her the best start in life. I supplemented formula only if absolutely necessary.

Then. All hell broke loose.

First, no one told me about lactation migraines. Every time I fed my baby for a prolonged period of time, my vision would blur and I would get this debilitating migraine. I would have to take my child off the breast just so I could see normally again. But again, I wanted what was best. Second, my baby became ill with a 24 hour bout of vomiting and diarrhea. I tried to feed from the breast, she would vomit. The next day I tried formula and she finally kept it down. I decided to try breast again and she would vomit.

I went like this for a week

Then, the demon known as post partum depression reared it’s ugly head.

I cried. I felt useless. Then I realized something: I’m not going to let my motherhood be defined by my boobs. I switched to formula and haven’t looked back.

Motherhood is not defined by a biological relation. Motherhood isn’t defined by how you feed your baby. Motherhood is the love you give to that little human being. Motherhood is making sure that child never suffers.

Breastfeeding wasn’t for us and I don’t regret that. My sanity and life has been saved by this decision. I can sit with my child and feed her and she smiles. She hears my voice and she smiles. I wasn’t going to let a failure to breastfeed take that away from me.

To all the mothers out there: you are beautiful. It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, what does matter is that you respect that some women feed their babies differently than you. Next time you encounter a mom that feeds their baby differently, I encourage you to give that mom a pat on the back and tell her she is doing an awesome job. I still get crap for my decision to bottle feed from the pro-breast movement.

We need to #NormalizeFeeding.

And I mean all of it.

Check out my princess in this cutest baby contest and vote for her to win 🙂
https://www.bidiboo.com/baby/4581274260099263-Anya/

Adventure, America, Beauty, Bucket List, Death, Faith, Family, Health, Ideals, Life Lessons, Loss, Relationships, Self Improvement, Self-Help, Suicide Prevention, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Women Empowerment

How Social Media is Destroying Humanity

When we think about humanity as whole, what do we think? We think of a species, the Homo sapiens. We think of a superior species that has been set to rule over the rest of the creatures on this planet.

However, it’s becoming clearer every single day that we are a species that is digressing at a rapid rate. Much of that has to do with social media.

Before social media took over the world as we know it, human beings were forced to do this terrible and archaic thing known as actually talking and communicating with each other.  We had to, dare I say it, speak to other people. We had to find out what makes them tick. We had to find out their secrets.

We had to actually care.

We do not care any more. We only care about something when it is trending on Twitter or is ranked highly on Facebook. Otherwise, we do not care about anything.

Last week was the first time I openly mentioned my depression online because of the tragic passing of Robin Williams. I told my story to provide an outlet for others that are suffering from depression to come forward. I battled back from trying to commit suicide. And to this day, I can say that successfully without any medication, I manage my symptoms with self-affirmation. I came forward and was happy to see that many people reached out to me to say that I made them feel more secure in themselves. They felt like they could share their stories. They, like me, shared one similar sentiment:

Why does it take a major tragedy for us to talk about such a serious problem terrorizing people all over this country?

The answer: Because unless it’s on social media, NO ONE CARES!

I saw the trending Tweets: #suicideprevention #depression and so on and so forth. I saw them, and while it made me happy….Deep down, I was mad. I was mad because no one cares enough to talk about this unless it’s a trending Twitter topic. It showed me that people are becoming less and less human. Our depth of caring is at an all-time low.

Fast forward two days and we have the Ice Bucket Challenge. And everyone forgets about their #suicideprevention tags

Now, I support causes for charity 100%. That’s not my complaint with this scenario. My complaint is that, once again, we need something to trend on Facebook or Twitter for us to care about a terrible disease. What is even worse in my eyes is that instead of just challenging people, we are wasting clean water. Literally. This is America and I get that we have clean water. But let us consider the thousands upon thousands of people all over this world that would kill to drink the water we are pouring over our heads to avoid a donation to charity. Originally, you were supposed to donate as well as do the challenge. However, along the lines it became, do the challenge or donate.

Seriously. You are dumping clean water that millions would die to drink over your heads to avoid a major contribution to a charity that helps cure a terrible disease?
ARE WE THAT ARROGANT?

And to everyone that keeps saying, “But it’s raising awareness.”
You are missing my point. You really are. And I do not know how to make it clearer.
You should always care about people with terrible diseases and you should donate to them as often as you can. You should care. ALL of the time. You should not waste clean water when so many people are not fortunate to have that luxury. There is a little kid without shoes in a third world country drinking water out of a sewer right now while you avoid donating money to charity with your ice!

And, in a few days. #ALS will not see any donations. They will go back to seeking out donations that no one will want to donate to because it is no longer a trending Twitter topic.

And not to mention, that ALL charities need our assistance and by “requiring” people to donate a large sum to one charity disinclined them to donate to multiple because they cannot afford it. I am very happy that so many people donated to this charity, but the premise is not right. We should not need to plaster ourselves over social media to donate to charity just so we can trend on Twitter or Facebook.

If it were not for business purposes or networking for causes I believed in, I would delete Facebook and Twitter. Besides the fact that people want to “trend” the amount of defamation and slander on these sites is astronomical.

And we wonder why the world hates us.
We are arrogant. Nothing more. We are extremely arrogant. The reason terrorists come to our country to commit mass murders is because we are arrogant. The reason some of our citizens snap and go on shooting sprees is because we are arrogant.

WE NEED TO STOP.

We need to stop being arrogant and start caring about our fellow man. We need to donate to charity because it’s right. We need to talk to people so that they know they are not alone.

WE NEED TO CARE.

But most of all….

We need to evolve.

 

Beauty, Dating, Health, Ideals, Life Lessons, Self Improvement, Women

The Brazilian Blowout

My hair is afrotastic.

Yes. Afro-freaking-tastic. I can’t wash my hair every day because it dries out my scalp. But if I don’t wash my hair after two days, my roots mat together into dreads. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my curls but I hate how much they expanded with the rain and never EVER laid right. I know part of this is because I’m biracial and the crown of my head is so frizzy and dry it is pathetic.

So, naturally when I found out about this thing called a Brazilian Blowout, I HAD to try it.

I’m going to tell you one thing: DO IT.

I am on week two since having it done and I can tell you it’s awesome. In fact, I’ve been taking photos of my hair once a week and plan to post them into one blog post.

Let me give you the low-down on what this treatment is. It’s not a chemical process that is going to fry your hair. You go to the salon and you get your hair washed with this special cleansing shampoo. Then you are washed and conditioned with step two in the product line. After that, the stylist will add a serum to your hair, blow dry and straighten your hair. The heat bonds all of the proteins and vitamins that are in  products to your hair. Then, the stylist will rinse you, add some serum and product to your hair and then blow dry and straighten your hair again…..And BOOM. Your hair is silky smooth and not frizzy. The process lasts for three months.

Now, I was a little nervous to see what my hair would do after I washed it. I liked my curls and I knew I didn’t want them to be gone completely. And, I was right in thinking that they wouldn’t be. I still have my curls, but they are much looser and less frizzy. In fact, there is essentially no frizz at all. And my hair dries a lot faster.

So, let me break it down into pros and cons:

PROS: Hair is more manageable, hair is less frizzy, hair dries quickly,hair texture doesn’t change for the worse, hair feels healthier, it takes less time to style (I went from a flat-iron time of 2 hours to 20 minutes and still maintained curl)

CONS: It is a long process (Set aside 2.5 hours for this treatment)

Here’s some beginning pics:

This is the night before the blowout when I completely brushed and picked out my hair (And before I did laundry, obviously)

BEFORE. LE FRIZZY
BEFORE. LE FRIZZY

AFTER: LE SHINY
AFTER: LE SHINY

The bottom picture is right after the treatment.

 

Do it, you won’t regret it.