I have a story to tell. I am angry. My daughter and I have been persecuted. Our Charter Rights as Canadian citizens were violated and this was never addressed by the Canadian government. We were supposed to disappear. We haven’t. I have been waiting, for ten long years and I am now ready to open my big mouth and holler it. Shall I? If I do, then those within the Newfoundland Justice system and in Ottawa will have a lot of explaining to do. I may appear to be a small fish but I have teeth like a shark.
Ten years ago this coming August I lay face down in the dirt, covered in bruises while a maniac sped away in his truck with my five year old daughter. I didn’t see her for three months during which time I went through the shelter system in the US, initially as a battered woman then as a homeless person.
I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on this past episode, although if I wanted to I could choose any horror in my life to discuss, from sexual and physical abuse and poverty as a kid to the suicide of my mentally ill first husband. So why does this one period in my life seem to have a meaning beyond those that came before? Because it didn’t happen to me, it happened to an innocent child; my child.
I’ve always been clear about the people and circumstances around me and this awareness has contributed to my jaded view of what this world is. There is a deterioration in the social structure on this planet that is hardly surprising given the sham compassion on which we’ve built our communities. I suppose you couuld say that at least the human race has progressed to faking respect for the vulnerable.
Right about now you may be thinking that I am full of shit and that is your right but the bare knuckle facts are that I am in a position of authority to speak about things like corruption, ineffective social programs with their anaemic and feeble attempts to do anything but line their pockets with tax free money and create barriers for those who suffer daily and need help. Oh yes, I have the credibility to say how it really is and not the mass delusion that passes for truth on this planet.
I could wax eloquent for you and make the filth palatable and easy to swallow, but then that would defeat the purpose of this post which is to plant a seed or two that may or may not sprout and eventually flower. At least I will have dug the hole and dropped it in, which as it happens is my entire purpose for breathing.
For those you who know this story, feel free to flee to the more subtly pleasing social environs of twitter, facebook or god forbid, the real world. What follows is the timeline that came to the astounding sum total of ten years, an entire decade of persecution, abuse, terror, poverty, homelessness and yes, writing. I could go back to when I first went to the us and regale you with stories of beatings, intimidation, rape and isolation but overkill is not what I’m aiming for here as you will see.
Time line of my previous ten years:
August 1 2002: My child’s father beats me and kidnaps our five year old daughter. I call the state police who then turn the matter over to the tribal police. The tribal cop comes and the first thing he asks me is if I am drunk, NOT if I am okay although he can see my body is black and blue. The fact that I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs seems to be lost on him. My gut sinks as I take my very first step on the path of degradation, humiliation and persecution courtesy of all sorts of agencies.
August 1 2002: I enter a domestic violence shelter. I meet some other women. I am inconsolable. I am now taking the second step on the path, this one is all about nightmares, PTSD and the daily diet of terror and dread I feel for my missing child. The fear for her safety consumes my every breath and yet this seems to be unimportant to those around me who are supposed to be helping sad little fuckers like me. Early on I am beginning to smell a rat in the social service sewer and boy is that bastard pungent!
August 2 2002: I am informed that only tribal police will handle this case as it occurred on the reservation. This is not an revelation to me as I know the full well the score of all things tribal with regard to my child. The evil monster who took her is related to the chief in a neighboring tribe and is a landowner in this reservation. My goose is cooked and I know it. They take photos of my bruises and say all the lies they have memorized by rote: “we’ll keep an eye out for the vehicle. We’ll call you as soon as we locate them.” I look in the cops face and say “Bullshit.” He looks away. I leave.
August 3 – September 7: I live in the domestic violence shelter. Everyday I file new paperwork with the court and I am told I have only one option for legal representation: An attorney who works for the tribe. Legal aid won’t represent anyone in a tribal court, thus my right to fair representation is another lie I must swallow. Having no choice I see this attorney. He is a fool. I recoil, realizing that my child and I are on a downward spiral with no end in sight. What do I do? I say fuck you! That is my child and I WILL find her and you can all kiss my arse. He shakes his head as if I am mentally ill or at the very least seriously deluded and naive. This entire time is spent in on and off the reservation, waking up in terror with nightmares that are more horrifying than anything Stephen King could conjure. Eventually, a bench warrant is issued, but no one is actually looking for my baby, but they sure are filing lots and lots of paperwork! The sheer volume of court orders, statements and warrants would make lead anyone to conclude that much was being done to save my child. On september 4, my child’s birthday and one day after my 40th birthday, they inform me he has been located and ordered to return my child to me and appear in court. I sit in the tribal court, filled with expectation, arms aching to hold my little girl. I sit some more. In fact, I sit there for four hours until I am newly informed that she won’t be coming after all as it is clear he is ignoring the order of the court. No one seems very perturbed by this new development and it becomes clear to me and the social worker with me that this was all a ruse and not real at all. Something happened to me then and there, a resolve built on the foundation of indignation and anger. They were fucking with me from the get go but I was going to rescue my child if it killed me. Little did I know this would nearly happen in two different ways. Finally, this episode ends and I am sent elsewhere to live.
September 7 – September 28: I live in the YWCA shelter for homeless women. My entire time there is spent trying to stay alive, eating from the food bank, (when I eat at all) getting a crash course in jurisprudence and the mountain of corruption I must climb as well as finding a lovely, rather large lump in my breast. This lump is examined at the free clinic. The physician’s assistant tells me after a mammogram and an ultrasound that the lump is not normal and if I wait to have it removed I could die. Ah, a new horror but oddly one that strengthened my resolve felt previously in the tribal kangaroo court. I am now on a mission and I don’t give a shit who tells me no. I have to find my child and take her home to where we were born and get this thing out. If I don’t I will die and she will be left in the care of an abusive monster. When my time runs out at this shelter I am given two options: a Pentecostal shelter for homeless women or the street. I choose the shelter.
September 28 – September 29: I enter the Pentecostal shelter towing my one posession: a suitcase containing every photo of my child, her toys, some of her clothes and my notebook filled with anguished poetry and letters to my now dead first husband. I have one outfit and I am wearing it. I do however have the luxury of two pairs of underwear and three pairs of socks. I am doing well for a homeless person and I damn well know it too! Although I have been living on Starbucks week old donuts that they donate to the shelters from the bottom of their generous corporate hearts, my 5’7” frame is carrying only 98 pounds and I am feeling it. Anaemia is now my bosom buddy and we black out everywhere together just us two. It is in this state of physical weakness I enter the intake office of this shelter to encounter who I have soon began accurately referring to as Nazi Iris. Her finger jabbing in my face while she asserted in her harsh German accent that I needed to accept that I was NOT going to ever find my child was only enhanced by the room filled with concentration like bunks lining the walls. The irony that I carried a copy of Anne Frank’s diary in my suitcase was not lost on me. After being told I could either 1. Take a shower in the morning or 2. Eat breakfast, that we were not permitted to swear, accept help or share transportation with each other, use a cell phone, miss prayer services three times a day or not be in our bunks by 10 pm, I decided to leave the following morning and take my chances on the street. But before I left I place that copy of Anne Frank’s diary under my pillow, proving that I still maintained a bit of my soul despite efforts but others to destroy it.
September 29- October 2: I live on the street. I eat nothing. I have no coat and it is cold. I learn quickly that you have to choose your spots carefully and that cat napping is all you should ever do lest you find yourself raped, robbed (yeah I know I had nothing of value but nothing of value is something to a junkie) or murdered. After a few days of this, the water from the bus station fountain is all that is keeping me alive physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually, my little girl is the power inside me. On my morning trek to the water fountain I meet one of the girls from the YWCA shelter and she informs me she now has an apartment. I begin living there, where we sleep on the floor and eat mouldy bread and rotten food from the local food bank. I am happy though because I can now sit on a toilet without fear I will catch something. This way of living goes on for some time and I bond with this beautiful woman and two others from the shelter who also stay with her. They gave me the love and emotional strength I needed to carry on until I finally found my child.
This is of course the condensed version of events because I am concerned about that attention span business we no longer have thanks to twitter and soundbites. Bear in mind though that the people and experiences I’ve left out were life altering to me. Perhaps if I believe it will matter I will attempt once again to find a publisher but until unicorns dance on rainbows I’ll keep it in my word program and marvel at our surival, the power of love and the immense size of my balls when challenged.
Tomorrow I will post part two. Oh I bet you can’t wait for that! Highlights: wiping shit off walls in a care home, being drug through court and having a lump removed from my breast and so much more!
It all began suddenly
a protracted five year activity
just a finger
the index specifically
poking sternum with a tyrant jab
being kept dog down
a blackmail of your love
bartering her life and innocence
he tests this and your mental strength
as he says with a laugh, “The human mind can only take so much, bitch.”
a shameful tarry fear that breathes it’s soul cancer into each day
some nights you crawl as he demands
with slug and night creatures
wherever the notion takes him
the whim arrives
to make you beg
until your knees bleed
and your heart nearly stops from the pain and terror
He laughs with derision
places the reward for your humiliation in your degraded arms
for one more day
until the sadist needs to feast again on your emotional response
Just wanted to post a small portion of a documentary that opens up the internal workings of a renowned poet and an icon to many writers. This is an interesting slice of the loaf that is Bukowski. Children should NOT watch this!
Suze loved her drink and her pills
but she loved her bulimia more
She felt safe to act out her lack of control
behind a locked bathroom door
Brewery Bay on wedding day
The world in the palm of my hand
Turned to mad hot ashes slipping through
my fingers like hour glass sand
I frantically tried to reclaim each grain
and count them one by one
But the sun left the sky in the blink of an eye
Leaving us blind, deaf and dumb
She was here before me
A pretty girl like Plath
No one talked about her shotgun wedding
her shotgun death
Self inflicted ends are not discussed
in homes with proper speech and lies
It was easier for them to pretend her away
than admit that she wanted to die
ROOT (for J.M.)
How does it feel for you
that you are alone in the country of old age and isolation
The seniority of clarity during the hours, minutes and seconds of each day
aware that your caustic hate finger poked and pushed too much
the innocent and gentle
hit too hard
took it too far
Look at the road behind you now
you are close to your mortal end
The wreckage is heaped on the once empty places in between
where your love is supposed to be
Two wives died to get away from you
and your son overdosed in his bed
But you know that I know that you are the twisted root
the cause of the rot and disease
and when I hear of your longed for demise
your final rolling away
I can’t deny
I’ll smile all day
Vindictive bitch that I am
I won’t mourn your loss of life
I’ll be too busy being terribly pleased
First, I just wanted to let you know about a wonderful place on the web that now lists me as a member: Feminist blogs.
If you have time, take a stroll over there and read some insightful writing by some of the most dynamic feminist writers on the web.
I’ve also written a very short verse that relates to another area of my novel.
Arms I used to protect you
were beaten black and blue
He shoved my face into the dirt
They day he kidnapped you
The past couple of days have been troubling for those in this world who cherish freedom and peace and in particular for women and children. I was going to write this post the day before yesterday, but changed my mind as the cares of running our business and being a mother tilted my universe in the other direction. After ruminating on the ‘mother’ part this morning, I’ve decided to discuss a couple of news items and a blog post by a fellow writer that have piqued my interest for very personal reasons. My hope is that it will positively open up for discussion an epidemic that is usually dismissed as soon as it’s mentioned. Let me explain by starting with the news items. The first photo below is obvious. Singer Rihanna at singer Chris Brown’s assault trial and Rihanna covered with the bruises and blood Chris Brown inflicted on her body. I will briefly encapsulate the verdict, in case you’ve missed it: Chris Brown was found guilty as charged. He was sentenced to 5 years probation, 180 hours of community service in addition to attending domestic violence classes. For a first offence many have stated this to be harsh. What do you think? I’ve my own opinion (you just know I do), but I very much want to hear what you think. Why? Because you not only change laws, but as writers, you are artists who deal in words and they are power. Words change lives and the world. Before you comment, please look closely and contemplate those images, then scan down and look at the other image of Neda Agha Sultan, a beautiful 27 year old philosophy student who was shot dead June 20, 2009 while attending a protest against the elections in Iran. It’s pretty graphic and if you can’t tolerate that sort of thing, then please don’t watch it. I ‘ve posted only the link for this very reason. Neda’s story is far more tragic but it is still about the same thing: violence. No matter the context, why is it one human being feels it is their right to oppress, imprison, beat, murder, terrorize and torture another simply because they don’t agree and are delighting in their human right to be free. Okay, now the blog post. Here is the link
Debbie Schubert I won’t elaborate, it’s important to read it and I urge you to. Debbie is a wonderful writer and an even more wonderful person and this is a story that is all to common and happening around probably this very minute, somewhere on the street where you live.
My story. This coming August 1st, it will be seven years to the day I was beaten and my daughter was thrown in a truck and abducted by her other parent. I won’t go into details but suffice to say after three months I found her and it was truly a miracle. We were abused by the system over and over again and the person who did this got away with it. I’m sorry to say, this is usually how it all goes down for victims. Why? Because the public doesn’t demand a change to the law and the subsequent enforcment of that law. Why? Because people are hindered by the shame of it happening in their own homes. The usual picture of an abused woman, for example, is that of a weak waif, uneducated, pregnant in highschool, poor etc. The True portrait is this, but it is also, a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a dentist, a singer, an actress, a dancer, a…now get ready for this, psychiatrist, an accountant, a CEO, a pilot, a writer, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a black woman, an oriental woman, an asian woman, a white woman, an aboriginal woman, a persian woman etc…I think you see what I’m driving at. For all any of us know it could be YOU. It’s impossible for me to condense or distill in one blog post everything that needs to be said, but it will always boil down to the dialogue. First we must talk, then we must agree and decide, then we must inform. Fiction, fantasy, chick lit, horror, satire, poetry, no matter the genre, it’s a writer’s job to expose the truth and inform or teach through the entertaining use of words. If you don’t believe this, ask someone who has their right to use words taken away. You may see it in a new light. Okay, that’s it. Remember to send the good vibe to your fellow scribes, talk about that which makes you uncomfortable and utilize that talent you have.
Neda Aghan Sultan Protest Shooting: http://foolblogger.com/neda-agha-sultan-video/
Neda Agha Sultan