A Personal Plea- Part 10
CC image courtesy of Flickr, duffyemma92
Edited by Wende Benner, HA Editorial Staff
Editorial note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kit’s blog, Dauntless in Denver. Kit is a homeschool and ATI survivor. It was originally published on November 28, 2016. Not every part of the series explicitly mentions homeschool, but each part ties to her homeschool experience. The political opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the political stance of Homeschoolers Anonymous or HARO.
Over the last two weeks, I have poured my heart and soul into these posts. I have talked about things I have never talked about before. Extremely personal and painful things. Some posts have been harder to write than others. At times, I have had to pause for a few days to figure out how to proceed. But no longer. Here I am, at the end. And perhaps this is the most personal and revealing of all my posts. Here I am, ready to tie together the last nine posts with my thoughts and feelings regarding the recent election of Donald Trump. I hope that it helps make clear my specific issues. This may get raw.
In the first three posts, I talked about my year of ongoing sexual harassment and assault. I talked about how it affected me, and my body image. How, instead of defending me, and sending a clear message to my abusers that sexual harassment and assault are never okay, the school ultimately sided with the boys and their parents. It wasn’t looked at as unacceptable behavior. It was largely dismissed, and I was left to continue in my own shame, as my abusers continued on, and got bolder as time wore on. Granted, the school never knew about the assault, but why would they? I was already treated like a problem. Why should I think they would treat assault any differently?
The night before the election, I had my first PTSD dream about my sexual abuse at school in well over a decade. It’s important to note that at this time, I didn’t think there was any way Trump was going to win, so it’s not like I was actually worried or afraid. At least, not on a conscious level. But I still had a dream that I was back at that school. Those five boys were abusing me again, and when I went to report it, the principal was Donald Trump. Instead of doing anything about it, he told me, “boys will be boys,” and that this was normal behavior. If I didn’t like it, I should either shut up or find a new school. And then he joined in. As I watched the election returns the next night, and he gained more ground, I could feel the panic attacks building inside of me. The next morning, I had to call into work, because I’d had 2 panic attacks before 8am, and I would have 4 more before the day was out. Never in my life have I ever had six panic attacks in a single day.
I felt incredibly unsafe and unprotected.
Not only had the nation elected a self-admitted sexual abuser to the office of President, but they had also elected someone who is an abuser in many other ways as well. In ATI, I got a lot of crap from those who were supposed to protect and support me. My mom would tell me to go to my room and not come out until God had changed my heart and shown me the error of my ways. Whenever I would bring that up (she did it often), she would straight up deny ever having said something like that. She would never do that. And yet, I knew she did. When I would reach the point of desperation, and feel like I couldn’t deal with Mom’s abuse anymore and ask to talk to Dad about it, she would insist on being there, and then flat out deny everything I said, or else deny any wrongdoing. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Many people I had contact with in our church, and in ATI had those exact same patterns. The gaslighting was so intense I often wondered if I wasn’t just entirely detached from reality. Not only that, but with any accusation against me by an authority, I had to prove myself innocent, or I would be treated as guilty, and punished accordingly. If something went wrong at home, I was often my mother’s scapegoat. Obviously, I had done something wrong. Even when they were proven wrong, none of my authorities (with the exception of my father) ever really admitted to any wrongdoing. It was all justified, sidestepped, or flat out denied.
My entire life, I have worked incredibly hard to thrive in spite of some fairly serious disabilities. And I have succeeded. I have seen a very clear shift from ableism to inclusivism in the last twenty years. Society has become more and more accepting of those of us with various limitations and challenges. Instead of mocking us, or relegating us to a corner, society has made incredible strides in accepting us, and our differences.
Over the last 12 years, I have closely studied the suffering of the marginalized in the United States and elsewhere. I have seen what happens when the basic rights of people are trampled in favor of the majority. What happens when fear grabs hold of people. Not insignificantly because of my own lifelong experience with gross injustice, I have felt incredibly burdened with justice. With knowing that African Americans and Latinos, women and immigrants, Muslims and Jews, disabled and LGBTQ- the other– are being treated justly. And if not fully justly, at least better than before, with visible efforts to continue improving. I have seen this as a moral imperative. Jesus was clear: Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me. All of these habitually marginalized groups, of which I am a part, these are the least of these. I don’t see it as an option to either protect or not to protect. I understand the abortion argument. If you like, add the unborn to my list of the marginalized.
My struggle here is not a political one.
It has absolutely nothing to do with politics. My struggle is a personal one, and a moral one. No, I’m not upset that my candidate lost. I voted for McCain and Romney. I’m used to that. Out of four presidential elections, my candidate has won once, and that was 12 years ago. I have never had an issue with anyone who voted for the “other” candidate. But that was all political.
Dear family and friends who voted for Trump, here is where I address you personally and directly.
I am having such a hard time dealing with the fact that you voted for someone who is the spitting image of many of those who have personally abused me.
Those who have sexually objectified me, and violated me. Those who have twisted their words and my words to fit their own agenda. Those who would never admit to wrongdoing, or show any kind of remorse for the incredible wrongs they committed against me. Those who gaslighted me to the point that I seriously questioned my own sanity. You voted for the person who is, in one person, in one body, the essence of all of my abusers in one. You voted for the person who has no respect for me, or for what I have been through. You voted for the person who mocks the disabled. All of the things I detailed above about my own experiences, I can give multiple examples of Donald Trump doing exactly those things to other people. Donald Trump is an abuser and a predator, who abuses and preys on people just like me. And you voted for him.
Not only that, but he has proven himself to be a direct threat to African Americans, Latinos, women, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. He has not shown himself to be any friend to the disabled, either. The only marginalized group in this country he has at all promised to protect, is the unborn. Because I see defending the “least of these” as an absolute, non-negotiable moral imperative, I cannot overlook the direct threat he poses to six (at least) of these groups, in favor of defending one. I don’t understand how those I respect and love, and those I thought valued all human lives and rights equally, voted for Trump. I do not understand how you could do that. Like I said, this is not about politics for me. Believe me, I could make this about politics. But at the end of the day, I really don’t care about that part. This is about protecting the unprotected. This is about making sure that those who have been traditionally marginalized in this country, and in the Western world, do not find themselves back 100 years in safety.
Yes. Those of you who voted for Trump, you voted for the embodiment of my abusers. You voted for someone who poses a direct threat to the vast majority of the marginalized in this nation, and I am having one hell of a time trying to swallow that. I am not someone to throw away relationships. But this is something that is going to take time. If I’m being honest, I don’t feel like you’re safe for me to be around. I’m on edge when I’m around any of you. And it’s going to take me a lot of time to be able to sort things out. Don’t question my love for you. I love you all. I do. But I don’t know how to be “business as usual” with you.
I hope you all understand my heart in all of this.
I hope you understand I’m not trying to shame or accuse. I am telling you how this makes me feel. And how this is causing one of the biggest struggles of my life. I don’t even know where to start with this. But here it is. And I hope you can accept this, and have grace for me, and the many, many like me who are in a very similar position. Thank you, for sticking with me through 10 parts. Thank you for listening. I am finished.