Image by Or Reshef, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Image by Or Reshef, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

All I got were scraps

The leftovers

After work

After chores

After the lawn was raked and the laundry clean

After my sister

After my brother

I lived

and grew

and fed

on scraps

I left

Moved away

Took to hanging around the backs of restaurants

looking for handouts

I found someone to take me home

and share his leftovers with me

After work

After the laundry was clean and the dishes were done

After dinner was made

After the dogs

and the cigarettes


he fed me

Scraps of love


by a careless hand


off the floor

As I stooped and bowed

before him

Looking up with adoring eyes

at the man who fed me

They were scraps

and they were all I could get

When you welcomed me to your banquet feast

your love buffet

I ran to your table

and took all I could fit

Then more

You let me eat

I was starving

The first time the table was bare

I wept

Sure it would never fill again

But it did

And it keeps on filling

with delicious things

Nutritious things

Things you make for me

and things I bake for you

some things we cook together

Our table is always full

Laden with delicacies

Heavy with spicy dishes

Rich with home-cooked creations

And I never go hungry

Because you taught me to feed myself

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Fuck the Simpsons

Well, not all the Simpsons*

Just you, Anita.

By Nicole Hanusek birthday balloons / party

Photo By Nicole Hanusek – via Flickr creative commons

Fuck you.

You were there that night.

The night of the Very Bad Thing.

It was his birthday.

He had a few friends over to stay the night at his mom’s.

It was a trailer, like yours, but smaller.


He had two siblings, I think.

A younger brother and sister.

Their bedroom was so crowded.

The whole place just had stack and piles everywhere. You had to climb and step over things, turn sideways to get around the columns of stuff.

His mom and stepdad had the bedroom with the only bathroom in the place.

I had to go in there in the middle of the night, feet from where they were sleeping and snoring, to pee.

Megan didn’t spend the night.

You brought her for the little party with homemade pizza and cake. I helped make them.

You gave him a stuffed Elephant.

His nickname was Ellie.

Because he had a big penis.

I think he gave the nickname to himself.

You used to laugh about that, about Ellie.

and how I was scared of it.

I was scared.

I was scared of him.

You also gave him a bottle of lotion and a box of tissues.

It was a huge joke.

He needed those things.

Because I didn’t put out.

You laughed. Megan laughed.

He laughed.

It was so funny.

To you.

He used that against me. That night.

See, he’d say. They feel sorry for me.

Because you don’t put out.

He used to tell me I “gave” him blue balls.

Because I liked making out.

but that’s all I liked.

I was 14.

We would make out, and he would get turned on.

I would turn him on.

It was mean of me to do that to him and then not want to “take care” of him.

See, he’d say.

You’re supposed to.

I shouldn’t need tissues and lotion.

Your gift to him was sympathy.

Here. Because your girlfriend doesn’t put out.


You fucking bitch.

Ha, ha. You all laughed.

Poor Blayne has to take care of himself.

Ha, ha. Shay’s scared of his dick.

What was I supposed to do?!

I WAS 14!!

Did you think a 14-year-old should be giving handjobs?


Having sex?

I WAS 14!

I hated you, then.

I always had.

You were the “cool” mom. But to me, you were cruel.

You were Megan’s best friend.

But we needed moms.

I needed a mom.

A mom who says it’s OK to make out, if that’s what your body wants to do. And it’s OK to not want to do things your body isn’t ready for.

Your 14-year-old body. Your 14-year-old mind.

When we were 12, Megan and I got called to the principal’s office about a letter. It had the word ‘slut’ in it. I wrote it.

I told my mom I didn’t. That I didn’t know what it meant.

Megan told you the same thing.

You were pissed, I think.

You talked to my mom.

You were both concerned about us using that language. About us being mean.

Two years later, you were mocking me with a box of tissues and a bottle of lotion.

Ha, ha.

See, he said.


I was 14.

*So I don’t get sued for defamation, I’ve changed the names in this post. But  not very much. Because people need to know about this. Although the primary purpose is me working through my anger, people need to know that this is not acceptable behavior. This is not good parenting, or adulting. (Yes, I know that’s not a word.) But it is a terrible thing to do to abandon your adult responsibility to encourage children, all children, to develop healthy sexuality and protect them from harmful situations. This woman did not do that. Her words added to my shame and were used by my abuser as “reasons” why I had to do what he wanted me to. I know she was an unwitting participant in my abuse, but I believe she should be held accountable. If not the part her words played in my abuse, then at least for her cruel and harmful action of shaming a 14-year-old girl about her sexual development.

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Hurts so good

I dropped a bomb in the newsroom

And when it went off, people were angry.

But not at me.

They were angry on my behalf. Angry at my attacker. Angry at my assault. Angry at him.

Which is as it should be. But things have never been as they should be in my life.

No one has ever gotten angry for me.

When my co-workers were coming up to me, clenching and shaking their fists, they didn’t say ‘sorry.’ They said it made them angry. Said it filled them with rage. And some of them said nothing at all, and instead sat with clenched fists, trying to calm themselves.

It was touching. It was empowering. And it was strange.

Strange because I had never experienced this outside of my support group. Those women, they have to care. You can’t sit every week with someone baring their soul and not care about them. When they shake and yell out in anger, it is part of their healing, too. They are yelling not only for me and what has been done to me, but for themselves and what has and still is being done to them.

I know what to do in group. Commiserate. Say, ‘I know’ and ‘Thank you.’ Sit with them and their feelings, whatever they are. Accept them. Practice non-judgement and staying present. They will continue to deal with their anger on their own time. It’s part of their healing journey. They know what to do with it.

My co-workers? My family? My friends? They don’t.

And I don’t know what to tell them.

I can deal with my anger, just barely. It is a new and long-suppressed emotion. But I know what to do with it. I yell. I throw things. I run. I kick. I box. And I write.

So I’m writing. And so are you, readers and friends. If you care to. You are going to help me write — and I am going to help you get angry.

I’m working on a new poem. It’s called “500 Fuck You’s.” And it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s me saying “Fuck you” to those who have hurt me or not protected me. Saying “Fuck you” for this, this, and this. Calling them out specifically for their dangerous or neglectful behavior. Saying “Fuck you” to societal forces that allow these behaviors to proliferate.

I had the idea to gather some of these from my friends, co-workers, readers and loved ones, to express their anger as well as mine. I’m offering you the opportunity to contribute your voices and anger. It can be about my situation. It can be about abuse that you or a loved one endured. It can be about a society that silences and shames survivors. A society that devalues women and children. About Bill Cosby, Jerry Sandusky, Woody Allen, Roman Polanksi, or the hundreds of others. Whatever. As long as it’s angry.

To guide you a little bit, here are examples I’ve written/gathered so far:

“Fuck you for hurting my friend ”
“Fuck you for not believing her”
“Fuck you bad egg”
“Fuck you he said, fuck you she said”

You get the idea. If you want to contribute, you can comment below, email me, text or call me. I’ll compile them and integrate them into the poem, which I will publish here.

So thank you, in advance. Get angry, and then get writing.


“Sl-shadow” by Pascual De Ruvo Statue of Liberty

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An Angry New Year

"Sydney fireworks" by Vijay Chennupati

“Sydney fireworks” by Vijay Chennupati

Welcome to 2015. I’m smack in the middle of recovery: For my PTSD, set off by a 2013 sexual assault. For my semi-shitty childhood, neglectful parents and for the abuse I suffered during my teen years.

If you’re reading this, you already know all of that. What you might not know is that I am fucking pissed about it.

I’ve been fucking pissed for years, possibly since early childhood. And I think 2015 is as good a time as any to finally express that rage. In a healthy way, of course.

So I have chosen this blog. For the next few weeks, I will be writing out my anger to the people at which it is directed. Like a snakebite, I need to draw out the venom until there’s not enough left to poison me. I’m putting it back to them, because they should be the ones to feel shitty about it, not me.

Here is the first of my anticipated multitude of rageful diatribes. Enjoy. And if you can’t do that, then maybe you can at least get angry yourselves. It’s time to stop being afraid of our anger and express it instead.

Let it go, fuckers, let it go.

This is a bill. It’s for the helicopter flight I took from Lost Lake to Golden, when my ectopic pregnancy ruptured.

I’ve already paid over $600 for the hospital stay, the surgery, the recovery and followup and pain medication. I also paid more than $600 in December alone for therapy from the PTSD that resulted from the whole thing.

If we had made an actual baby, you would owe me at least half of the costs for child support. So why should I pay 100% of the health care costs resulting from your demon spawn bursting out of my right Fallopian tube and ruining it for life, nearly killing me in the process?

That last line might make you think this is a funny, good-natured letter. It’s not.

In less than two weeks, I’ll be taking disability leave from work. Two months, at least. I’m doing this to deal with the PTSD. And I’m writing you this letter because I don’t want to start 2015 the same way I spent 2014: Scared. Terrified to see you, hear you, think about you. Too afraid to cross the newsroom to take a piss because I don’t want you to look at me.

I have nothing to be afraid of. You do.

I had planned on writing a more friendly note, a non-accusatory one, so that you would have a chance to respond, maybe to apologize. But then I realized that you had a chance, and you didn’t do it. I gave you that chance to be sorry when I got back to work after my three days in the hospital and three-week recovery. When I told you what I’d been through: The pain, the helicopter, the surgery, the almost dying. That it had been your “baby” and that I wouldn’t have had sex with you if I had been sober. If I had had a choice.

That was when I expected you to be sorry. To admit that you felt terrible I’d been through so much, and to agree that you made a mistake. But you didn’t.

Remember what you said? “You’re still a good egg.” You told me I was still a good egg. Which implied that there was some reason I might not be a good egg. Like I had done something wrong, instead of you.

The only things I did wrong were to 1.) Drink too much and 2.) Trust you. I thought you were safe to drink around, to be drunk around. But you weren’t

It took me a long time to accept that you did a shitty thing. But you did. You did not act like the nice guy everyone thinks you are. Do you know what my boyfriend would have done if I got that drunk around him? He would have put me to bed with a glass of water and a bucket by my head. My friend Geof, who was with us that night, would have made sure I had a a safe place to sleep if I had been at his house. He would have left me alone. Neither of them would have done what you did. Nor would any of my guy friends. No one decent would do that.

It was shitty, and you’re shitty for doing it.

I remember you lightly slapping my face, saying, “Stay with me, stay with me.” I remembered that as the Rocky Mountain Rescue people were carrying me down the mountain on a stretcher. I kept wanting to close my eyes and go to sleep. But they wouldn’t let me, because I was bleeding out. One of the rescue guys kept saying, “Stay with me.”

Except, unlike you, he cared what happened to me. You didn’t give a shit, not then, not when I told you, and probably not now. You didn’t give a fuck about what your decisions would put me through. Are still putting me through. I wasn’t even in a factor in your decisions, and I was in no shape to decide things for myself.

You took it upon yourself to decide things for me.

  • You decided I wanted to have sex with you.
  • You decided I wouldn’t mind if you didn’t use a condom.
  • You decided it would be OK for you to cum inside of me, not knowing if I was on birth control.

Because whatever happened after, you didn’t care. It would be my problem, not yours.

Well, it’s not my problem anymore. I’m giving it back to you. Because it’s your shit.

Your shitty decision, your shitty self.

Your rape, not mine.


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One year on the road

“The way your abuse was handled wen you were a child has a lot to do with its subsequent impact. … If no one noticed or responded to your pain … the damage was compounded. And the ways you coped with the abuse may have created further problems.”

— “The Courage to Heal” Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

“There were signs … And more than whispers.”

— “Goblet of Fire” J.K. Rowling

My sophomore year, I dropped out of volleyball. I’d been playing since Jr. High. Three years. My junior year, I stopped running track, a sport I’d been doing for four years. I didn’t do any sports that year, except for a club bowling team with some girlfriends. I also stopped going to Friday night games and parties. I gained 10-15 lbs. I spent much of those two years in my bedroom, succumbing to a slowly worsening depression.

I remember a piece of writing I did from that time, where I described being in the bottom of a dark pit that I couldn’t climb out of. And even if I could, I didn’t want to; it was more comfortable here. Familiar. Where I belonged.

I also got my first-ever “B” on a report card during that time. Not a huge deal, most of you will say. But I never got B’s. Never.

These were the signs. These were the whispers. That no one saw or heard.

Well, not no one.

My 16th birthday, four of my friends very sweetly brought me balloons and cake at school. A touching gesture, and a surprising one. I can’t remember them doing that for anyone else in our little group. I kept those balloons, with handwritten messages of love and friendship, for seven years, moving them from apartment to apartment around Orlando with me. They only got left behind when I headed to Colorado.

That year, our tenth, had been a rough one for us.We moved into a new school building. Our larger group was splintering into smaller cells; the girls that partied, and the girls that didn’t. The grown-ups and good girls. We all felt the strain. But perhaps I showed it more, probably because I was dealing with something on top of all the normal teenage angst.

The end of my freshman year, I ended a relationship with my abuser. It was months of emotional and physical pain, and one incident in particular that is still too painful to think of for long. That’s the one I’ve never spoken to anyone else. Ever. I can’t even bring myself to think of it without panicking.

We broke up a few months after The Incident. And then, I dropped into a deep depression that lasted for two years.

It wasn’t until I read the above words from “Courage to Heal” that I connected those two things, The Incident and The Depression. “If no one noticed or responded to your pain”

I’m very good at hiding my pain and panic. Even now, that’s something Mr. T and I are working on, with my therapist. Because even when I’m falling apart, I hold it together. I’ve had to. There was no falling apart in my life. My family didn’t have time for that. So those two years in high school were the closet I got. No sports. No friends. Gaining weight and dropping grades.

Subtle signs to the outside observer. But it wasn’t an outside observer I needed to notice me. It was my parents. And they didn’t.

I had two other periods of depression; at 13 and 19. Both followed sexual trauma in my life. But no one made that connection — not even me. Not until I read those words. “No one noticed your pain.” Not my parents, not my doctors. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, a label I never felt quite fit. Especially not now that I’ve been off prescription medication for nearly five years without another hospitalization or period of major depression.

When you connect the dots, they reveal a very clear pattern in my life: Four traumas — three cycles of depression. Now that I can see that picture, I can see what probably kept me from a fourth cycle of depression following my latest trauma: My support group.

This time, I reached out. I learned that just waiting and hoping for someone to notice would be a wasted venture. And so I made sure that, this time, someone heard me. Someone saw me.  And they did.

To say these women saved my life is, I think, not an overstatement. They are helping me not only to navigate the present, but to reclaim my past. Those long-ago experiences that went unacknowledged — they give me the recognition I craved. Beyond that, they accept my pain, without questioning or downplaying or telling me tomorrow will be better. They sit with it. They hold its hand. And they give me hope.

As we near Christmas, and as I mark the passage of a year in this support group (Dec. 16), I think about gifts. And by far, the gift these women have given me is life itself. Trying to struggle through this without support would be impossible for me. I could have ended up mired in depression, back in the hospital, or worse. But here I am, facing things with friends at my side.

One year ago tomorrow (Dec. 18), I wrote this post. It was after my first-ever support group meeting. I have experienced acres of growth since then, and broken the pattern of my life. All because of one simple choice to do just one thing different in the hopes that everything would then change.

I shared the following poem in that post, one year ago. Today, I share it again to encourage anyone dealing with similar issues to take just one step to break an unhealthy cycle. Just one.

So, as I signed off a year ago, so I say again … Here’s to a new road.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson

Chapter I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I fall in.

I am lost … I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.


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When I Stumbled Upon the Glass

For Roberta

Why didn’t you look,

she said

when I stumbled upon the glass

I had not seen.

When I stumbled


upon the glass

she said,

what did you do that for.

But I didn’t think

that I would fall.

Once more

I stumbled

upon the glass.

Didn’t you learn,

she said

but I hadn’t known

that it would hurt.

And now I sit

among the glass

upon which

I stumbled

that I could not see

that I hadn’t known

that I didn’t think

something so beautiful

could hurt

so much.

And I wait

for her hand

that does not come

while a voice

that tells without asking


and how

and why

I came to fall.

And I shout

to the legs

that pass me by

I fell!

I fell!

I fell!

But they do not stop.

So I cease my shouting

and sit


in the glass

that keeps on cutting.

But one day

A hand

and a voice

that does not ask why

that does not say how


it reaches out

and helps me from the pile.

As we look down

on the glass

stained with blood

and dust

and the debris of years

I say,

I fell

and the voice answers,

I know.

And together, we clean away the glass

and the dust

and the blood

and the debris of years.

We pick them up,

piece by piece,

and arrange them into something

that makes sense

and when we’re done

I think,

it really is something beautiful to see.

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War & Peace


“To pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps, one must first have boots.”


You heard this tossed around a lot in in the past few years, in the never-ending debate over public assistance, economic mobility and the plight of the poor.

I liked it, because it highlights the desperate situations that so many people come from, and the hypocrisy of critics whose backgrounds were decidedly more privileged.

I think of it now because of something my therapist said to me as we prepare to wage war on my infidelity.

Waging war.

Those were her words. But I’m starting to see it.

  • We’ve identified the enemy. (Poor/no boundaries, attachment issues, deep psychological need for affection)
  • We’ve prepared a battle plan. (A rigorous schedule, time off from work, a set timeline with multiple therapy sessions a week and an end goal in mind)
  • We’re fortifying the stronghold. (Strict diet and exercise guidelines, daily yoga and meditation practices)
  • We’ve recruited allies. (Mr. T and some work friends)
  • We even have a contingency plan if the battle goes ill.

But before you go to war, you must first attempt peace.

I need to make peace with my problem.

I am not the problem. I am a good person. I am not the problem. I am a good person.

I will repeat this — 1,000 times a day if necessary — until I can separate them in my head; myself and my issues.

We are going to war against my problem — not me, my therapist says. I am not a bad person, she says. I am a very good person, who very bad things have happened to. It is those things we are fighting, and their aftermath.

Know thine enemy, they say.

It is key to understand this, my therapist says, so that I can have some compassion with myself. So, too, it is important to understand that my response to these things is natural.

“It is the most natural response to the circumstances you experienced.”

If you take a plant and put it in the dark, it will not grow correctly, or at all.

If you hit your puppy, it will grow up cowering. It will always cower at raised voices and raised hands, even if you stopped hitting it long ago.

If you take a girl and fill her life with stress and yelling and anger and secrets and put-downs and attention or affection in exchange for sex, she will do what she has always done to get love.

And it’s not right. And it’s not OK.

But we are going to war against it, not her.

I am going to war against it, as I have been attempting to do all my life. But this time, I’m getting weapons first. The skills I didn’t develop growing up. The lessons missing from my education. The beliefs that were stolen from me, repeatedly, by family and boyfriends and co-workers and classmates and lovers, until I had no chance of recovery.

Self-worth, peace of mind, independence, boundaries, self-protection, love, connection, authenticity, integrity, acceptance, support — these are the armor and weapons I hope to gain.

Finally, I am getting boots.

And maybe this time, when I try to pull myself up, I’ll make it.

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Why we speak/Why we stay silent

With Bill Cosby and his alleged dark activities in the news, there are questions I hear very often when the situation is being discussed. Questions that, I think, only someone who has been abused can answer. And so I will, because I think people are generally good, generally willing to accept the truth, and generally appreciative of a different perspective on a matter as complex, confounding and uncomfortable as sexual assault.

But first, some facts, because that is what every debate full of opinion needs.

  • Cosby settled with Andrea Constand in a 2006 civil suit for an undisclosed amount. 13 women were listed as Jane Doe witnesses in the case, and during the ensuing media coverage, at least three came forward publicly to share similar stories of being drugged and/or assaulted. While the Philadelphia DA declined to press charges in a criminal case, he had this to say:

“I didn’t say that he didn’t commit the crime. … What I said was there was insufficient, admissible, and reliable evidence upon which to base a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s ‘prosecutors speak’ for ‘I think he did it but there’s just not enough here to prosecute.’”

  • Cosby once persuaded National Enquirer to kill an interview with another accuser, fearing her claims would bolster Constand’s suit.
  • In total, 21 women (that number is growing everyday) have accused Cosby of assaulting them; 12 of them publicly, 9 anonymously.

(Read for yourself: , )

And now to the questions, which I’ve heard from several people, all of whom I respect and care for enormously. Please understand that I am not speaking for these women; I am merely sharing my experience and the experiences of other women from the perspective of having survived sexual abuse and the terrible aftermath that follows.

Why is all this surfacing now?

In January 2014, NBC announced plans for a new Cosby primetime sitcom, putting the star back in headlines. In February, Dylan Farrow published her op-ed in the New York Times about why it is painful for her every time Woody Allen is in the news, possibly motivating Gawker to publish this article about another icon of pop culture who has been plagued by allegations of sexual assault, although the public seems to have forgotten about them. Three days later, Newsweek interviews two women who accused Cosby. In the months that follow, the story pops up here and there on various media outlets, but a biography of Cosby makes no mention of the allegation that span decades.

Oct. 16: Hannibal Buress mentions the Cosby allegations in a standup, and it goes viral, trending on Facebook and Twitter. This was the first time I had ever heard of the accusations. More media interviews with accusers follow. Then a meme generator on Cosby’s site becomes a fiasco, as people use the opportunity to make meme after meme referencing the accusations. This, too, trends worldwide on Facebook and Twitter.

November: More women come forward. NBC cancels the planned series. Netflix decides not to release a Cosby standup special. TV Land pulls The Cosby Show from syndication. Several venues cancel planned Cosby standup events. And the topic keeps trending.

Why did the women take so long to come forward?

This is what happens when a survivor elects to come forward about her abuse: She tells, usually someone close to her. Her family (or whoever) believes her and supports her; she is encouraged to get help. She may go to the authorities, but most likely not. Around 60% of rapes are never reported. (  She spends some time in therapy. She might go to a support group. She gets on with her healing, a process that can take years.

And that’s the best case scenario. Most of the time, what happens is not best case. Many survivors are not believed. Many meet hostility, anger or oppression instead. Because so few people are equipped to deal with a survivor, they are often told to simply move on, forget about it, focus on the positive. Even worse, they face blame. Why you were alone with him? Why did you drink so much? Why didn’t you scream louder, kick harder, or fight at all? Worst of all, they are not believed. They are told that their attacker is a nice guy. He would never do something like that. They must be mistaken.

Place those women in a very public forum with a celebrity as the accused, and the stakes are higher. Death threats, threats of violence, threats of sexual attack and assault, personal information shared online, hackers breaking into personal accounts … These things can and have happened to women who have come forward.

I have not publicly named my attackers. I’m not sure I ever will. Because we have mutual friends. Because he is a nice guy. Because he is in the military, and criticizing our nation’s heroes is tantamount to sedition. And, mostly importantly because I’m not sure I want to believe what happened.

I don’t want those guys to be abusers. I don’t want what happened to me to be abuse. Because then it really is scary, and horrifying, and I’m not sure I can face it.

It took six  years for me to tell anyone what happened to me; 13 years since the original incident, and I’ve shared only a fraction of it in therapy. The worst of it, I’ve still never spoken aloud to another living soul.

It takes years, sometimes a lifetime to face what happened to you. Asking these women to share their stories is asking them to relive the very worst moments of their lives. That’s something I’ve not been able to do. At least not yet.

Why are all these women speaking up at once?

You know the one thing that could make me speak up and name my abusers? If somebody else did.

A friend, a co-worker, even a complete stranger; it wouldn’t matter who. Seeing someone else be that brave would not only inspire me, but it would make me feel as if I had a duty to stand alongside them, in solidarity, as they face what would surely be an onslaught of negativity and questioning of their character.

Secondly, if someone else spoke out about my abusers, it would provide something that I have been searching for my whole life, yet haven’t found: Confirmation. I need to know that my instincts are right, my experiences true. If they happened to someone else, as horrible as it is, I feel more validated. I would stop second-guessing myself; my thoughts, feelings, recollections, my memory and intuition. My sense of self. I would know that I was right.

Don’t you think some of these women are lying/jumping on the bandwagon to get attention?

The false accusation rate for rape and sexual assault is 8 percent. (Source:

If we use the facts we are given, the rate of false accusation among the 21 or so women who have accused Cosby, then 1 of them is lying, statistically. One of them is opening herself up to hatred, public scorn, and threats of violence and death.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there is one person, one very sick person, looking to capitalize on the biggest news story of the day. But I don’t think that’s the norm.

It is more likely that these women feel as I do, as most survivors do: Emboldened. Compelled. Relieved, even. And finally ready to come forward, their trails blazed for them by another brave soul.

These are the questions that have been asked. Now I have one of my own.

How many women will it take?

How many need to come forward before their combined allegations are taken seriously? How many women spoke up before your opinion shifted? Before public opinion shifted? These allegations are decades old, some of them. Cosby settled with Constand in 2006. 13 women were prepared to testify against him. But be honest: What convinced you more, the shared stories of more than a dozen females, or the statement from the DA about Cosby’s guilt?

Maybe you still don’t believe, not fully. To you, I ask: How many women will it take before you believe? How many women is this one man worth, to you?

I understand the hesitation. It is a hideous thing to be accused of, and particularly painful for his fans.

Cosby the character, the actor, the comedian, was funny and gentle and upstanding. His aura of fatherly wisdom and familial devotion said to us, “Trust me.”

And we did.

To accept that he is the same man who drugged and assaulted even one women, let alone the dozens that have now come forward, is to admit that we were wronged. Not wrong. Wronged.

I wasn’t wrong to think that Cosby was funny; he is. You weren’t wrong to admire the character he presented, that of loving, likeable father. That character was and remains who it was created to be: Kind, caring, relatable. That doesn’t change because the man behind it was a monster. Neither does the monster become less so because the persona he portrayed was someone we looked up to. The two are separate matters. The only thing that changes, given the facts before us, are how we perceive them both, the man and the character.

It feels disgusting to realize that someone we once admired was capable of such atrocities. We feel raw, exposed, ashamed, vulnerable.

I want you to do something Americans are terrible at: Keep feeling those things. Concentrate on them. Really let them sink in.

Now multiply that by 100. 1,000 even. That is how it feels to be a victim of such an assault.

To accept the stories of these women lessens those feelings. And not just slightly; tremendously. Being believed is, for so many women, the first step on the long and painful path to healing. Without it, we cannot even begin.

That is why these national stories, these women who are strangers, are so important to me. To all survivors of abuse. Because their story is our story. Because we watch, obsessively, every case of assault that plays out across the Internet. We follow, in fear, the fate of those courageous enough to step forward, knowing that their treatment at your hands is a looking glass into our future, should we ever choose that path of radical honesty. We measure, constantly, the public mood on rape and all it means for survivors, gauging whether or not it is safe for us to speak up.

As we beg you to believe them, there is a separate and additional plea: Believe me.

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What’s my age again?

Me, at 13.

Me, at 13.

This week, I am 13.

I am 13 because that is the age my therapist ordered me to be.

Remember 13? When crushes felt like they were literally squeezing your insides. When the first touch of skin on skin — even holding hands — sent electric chills through your body. When a good makeout sesh was the height of sexual excitement.

At 13, there was possibility.

When I was 13, that’s when all those good things stopped, and shame entered the equation.

When I was 13, I had my first trauma. After that, everything got messy.

My therapist was intrigued but not surprised when I told her that when I cheated, I set a firm line with my co-conspirators that mirrors exactly the first sexual boundary of mine that was ever crossed: My pants stay on, and your hands stay out of them.

The kissing, the hand-holding, the sexting, the feeling up — all these things are cheating. As my therapist said, “The affair started before you even touched.” But I have always been able to commit these acts with relatively little remorse. It is only when I violate my own rule (or have it broken for me) that the guilt kicks in.

That invisible boundary exists even in my incredibly loving and stable relationship. I’m generally happy as a clam (pun intended) to round bases 1 and 2, but anything beyond that, and I have to work really hard (pun also intended) to stay present, and even harder to, ahem, get there.

It’s been 13 years since that night at my friend’s house, but the results are often still the same: An arbitrary line of sexual conduct is crossed, and I freeze up.

Apparently, I’m still 13. Sexually.

Because that’s when I last felt 100% safe and 100% excited about sex. The last time I still had 100% ownership of my own body.

And so I seek out that 13-year-old feeling of novelty. I go for the forbidden to give me butterflies in my stomach. In short, THIS is why I cheat. At least in part.

Another part? My brain is trying to heal that original trauma. At least, according to my therapist.

There is a psychological term for this, called reenactment. (Also repetition compulsion).  It is very common among survivors of trauma, whatever that trauma was. Essentially, people place themselves — consciously or unconsciously — in situations similar to those in which the trauma occurred, sometimes many times, in the (typically subconscious) hopes of being able to “resolve” that incident: In other words, to get a different outcome, one in which they are in control and the trauma does not happen.

So this, too, is why I cheat.

Whenever I would get myself into a situation where there was potential to stray, I would tell myself, ‘This time will be different. This time, I’ll just not do it.’

I would set benchmarks of behavior for myself, as described above.

“This time, we’ll only hug.”

“This time, we’ll only kiss on the lips.”

“This time, we’ll only make out.”

But every time, I would go past that. Every time.

At the very moment that self-imposed rule was flouted, the emotional effect is immediate and very, very familiar. Excitement turns to remorse, sexiness to shame, confidence to disgust.

Just like when I was 13.

I would say that my therapist has taxed me with reliving this trauma, but the truth is, I have relived it a million times. I have been living it, folding the shame associated with abuse into the whole of my sexuality.

MeNMrTSo the only difference in reliving it now is that I have a trained professional and a loving boyfriend at my side to help me: She makes sure I don’t freak out during therapy, and he makes sexy time fun by respecting me when I say no, reminding me that I’m safe and loved, and by generally being up (or down) for anything I need. Which this week means pretending we’re 13 again.

Remember 13? When crushes felt like they were literally squeezing your insides. When the first touch of skin on skin — even holding hands — sent electric chills through your body. When a good makeout sesh was the height of sexual excitement. When the threat (or promise) of sex wasn’t a dark cloud of expectation hanging over your heads, but an exotic location to be visited someday.

13? It’s looking better all the time.

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This is a photo of me and my Chive twin. I took a picture of myself (left) after finding this one (right) online. I thought the girl looked just like me. If I didn’t have a longstanding personal rule against duck lip selfies, I may have thought that girl was me. I immediately knew I had to recreate the outfit, the pose, the duck lips, and send it to the Chive. I needed to meet my twin, if only on social media.

But this picture has never seen the light of day. Because after I took it, I realized we couldn’t look more different. She’s a size 0, easy. I’m a 6 on a good day, a 4 whenever I buy Calvin Klein. (As often as I can, because, hello, I fit into a size 4.) My hand’s all wonky, my duck face is more like a ‘Holy shit, was that a bug in my drink?’ face, and her cleavage is seriously outclassing mine.

I actually photoshopped myself thinner in the hopes of ‘salvaging’ it and therefore my epic post.

I’m sharing it now, unedited, not to draw attention to the sameness of the images, or to their differences. I’m sharing it because a few days ago, I saw this video:

For those of you who didn’t watch this, first off, I’m going to tell you that you suck. Watch the damn video! Secondly, I’m going to share these little tidbits from the talk with you:

“When it comes to exams, if you don’t think you look good enough, specifically if you don’t think you are thin enough, you will score a lower grade point average than your peers who are not concerned with this.”

“Women who think they’re overweight — again, regardless of whether they are or are not — have higher rates of absenteeism (at work). Seventeen percent of women would not show up to a job interview on a day when they weren’t feeling confident about the way that they look.”  (Meaghan Ramsey, Dove Self-Esteem Project, #KissTheMirror)

I’ve never missed a day of work or a job interview because I didn’t like my hair that day, but I have stayed home from a party. I have skipped out on meeting up with friends; canceled a date; sat in the back of the classroom and kept my head down, instead of the front row where I could ask questions if I needed to.

And — perhaps more humorously but ultimately as important — I have not engaged sexually with my boyfriend on days that I feel fat, fugly or otherwise less than appealing. You can laugh if you want, but think for a minute of all the orgasms being missed out on because of hairy legs and armpits, food bellies or missing makeup. And, yes, forgoing potential climax does not cost our economy millions in lost productivity annually, but think about what that implies. If we are so uncomfortable with our own imperfections that we can’t even let ourselves be seen by those closest (literally) to us, how is there hope for us in the wider world?

I’m aware that this isn’t only a female problem, but I do think it is predominately ours. To my gentlemen readers: Ask yourselves, when was the last time you stopped your girlfriend from going down on you because you hadn’t trimmed your pubes in a few days? Or have you ever not gone out because you had a really big breakfast burrito and your T-shirt fit a bit more snugly than usual?

I’ve done both of these things this week.

I’ve also done something most guys would never dream of: Photoshopped pictures of myself before posting them to Facebook. I’ve made my arms thinner. I’ve tucked in my tummy. I’ve trimmed down my luscious bubble butt. I’ve even sculpted my face. If I could with any success, I’d even out my nostrils, which always seem to face at different angles to the camera.

Let me be clear, in case you can’t tell from my photos: I look pretty damn good. I’m in adequately decent shape. I’m average weight for my height; I have nice, clear skin; and that hourglass figure everyone loves. But it doesn’t matter. Because the photos I see online of other “regular” people? They still look thinner, tanner; their nostrils more even.

And it doesn’t occur to my that they might have photoshopped their pictures, too. Or employed another one of my favorite tactics: Selection perfection. In scouring my phone for this post, I couldn’t find a single “bad” photo. Not because I can’t take a crappy picture, but because I immediately delete those not up to snuff. So it continues, the myth of perpetual beauty and casual perfection, a standard we cannot attain but that we never stop trying to reach.

We’re in a selfie arms race. 

But I’m laying down my weapons.

I’m starting #FierceNotFatFridays. Once a week, I’m going to post a photo that I normally wouldn’t. One that I don’t particularly like. One with weird eyes, a double chin, or the noticeable absence of a thigh gap. (Which will be all of them. I have never had, nor will I ever have, a thigh gap. Because I am a real person, not a Barbie.) And I am going to notice the things that actually make me worthwhile as a person.

MeConsider this my first one. In this photo, my hair is fabulous. And now some little girl has my fabulous hair because I am unselfish and giving and not as vain as I could be.

My legs are strong, and they push me to work each day on my bike, which conserves oil that I would use driving, and cuts down on harmful emissions.

My eyes are big, blue and beautiful. But best of all, they see things. They see potential in others, and beauty where others see struggle.

My lips do so many great things. (Keep your BJ jokes to yourself, haters!) They sing. They speak words of encouragement and inspiration to friends. They make jokes. They tell the truth.

Here’s one: When I first conceived this concept,  I was afraid. Scared that by posting unflattering photos, by looking fat or ugly, people would think I was fat or ugly.

But a bad picture doesn’t make me an ugly person, any more than a good one makes me beautiful. A photo is a moment in time, representative of nothing more. It can’t capture what defines me; my actions and attitude toward others. I’m hoping that adding this one more action will help me bit a little bit better of person.

I hope some of you will join me in this. We might not be able to kill the Internet trolls, but we can make it cooler to be confident than cruel. And we can’t force the magazines and advertisers to abandon photoshop, but maybe we can convince regular people (and maybe some celebrities. You hearing this, Beyonce??) that it’s not worth the effort. That thinner thighs don’t make you a better person.

We won’t magically transform the haters into lovers, but we can at least make an effort at loving ourselves a little more.

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