Category Archives: Personal

Technical Difficulties – 2nd Edition


Image Description: a “Very Demotivational” meme, which is a picture of a panda trapped on a branch, with a black border around the picture with white-text captioning down the bottom of the picture: “Technical Difficulties: We has them…”

I’ve been thinking of starting up (surprise, surprise!) another writing project, the big problem is that I’m currently torn between what kind of platforms I should use, I don’t know if my intended project is more suitable for Podcasting, a YouTube Channel or perhaps a combination (somehow?). Perhaps I should discuss my new writing project and maybe it’ll help me with he decision process. I want to set up a platform where I talk about Mental Health and ADHD (as well as some related topic things like stim toys). As I’m not a qualified therapist or counsellor, I would only be able to talk from the podium of my own experiences, so the video path would involve journal-like videos talking about my diagnosis, my personal diagnostic process, as well my interconnected mental health problems.

I’m going to be honest, YouTube has a large market on the “journal/confession” style of video, and while that results in great content like Katie Morton’s YouTube Channel and Annie Elainey’s YouTube Channel, it leaves me wondering “What do I bring to the table that is unique and different?” and “how can I possibly stand out?” See, the funny thing is that there is a lot of ADHD journal-style channels already out there, usually they have ten videos and then they haven’t been updated since or they have been updated but there are irregularities in postings or big gaps.

The problem is that I understand only too well why that is the case, I’ve been doing the same thing too pretty much all my life and I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to embark on yet another project, invest a lot of my time, effort and limited financial resources into a platform only to give up half-way through. And, yeah, I’m perfectly willing to admit that my scatter-gun approach to… pretty much everything might be apart of the problem. My usual method of throwing things at a platform and seeing what sticks isn’t working for me or isn’t working as well as I’d like it to. It’s not that I’m not willing to give both a go, its not that I’m not willing to take risks, what I’d like is some feedback before I make the attempt.

What’s the Project going to be about?
My objective is create channel (regardless of whether its YouTube or Podcast) that covers the following:

  • journal-style content of my personal mental health and Adult ADHD diagnosis process.
  • Facts About ADHD – episodes that focus on the facts and resources regarding ADHD (like books and support groups available). I want these episodes to have a more Australian approach to it and my focus will primarily be Adults with ADHD, because unfortunately the majority of resources currently available tend to be more geared towards children with ADHD and their parents.
  • Interviewing Mental Health professionals or people involved with positive Mental Health support (like social workers or support groups)
  • Mental Health Q&A videos (possibly?) or stuff that’s connected to Mental Health like Stim Toy reviews, Bullet Journal stuff, or Journal exercises

I suppose I should include the possible pros and cons of each platform.

YouTube Channel Pros:

  • Dramatic reenactments with my collection of Weighted Plushies: this is the aspect of making videos that I’m looking forward to the most. I’m already thinking and detailing in my mind the jump-cut sketches I could possibly make.
  • Editing: I enjoy the editing process of film-making, I’m currently using Adobe Premier, which is great if not a little complicated (I’m doing a Skills Share tutorial for it, just to make sure I know exactly what I’m doing). There’s also lots of help and tutorials online.
  • Equipment: I already have all the required equipment to start making videos (I found a tripod at Big W for roughly AU $25), I could literally start tomorrow if that’s what I wanted.
  • Audience Interaction: YouTube is a great method of interaction and for building a community and there’s a proven track-record of people building successful and supportive mental health communities. It’s a big component of why I want to do this.

YouTube Channel Cons:

  • Super Awkward: When it comes to making movies and taking photographs, I’ve spent most of my time behind the camera, and I’m pretty good at directing (aka telling people how to do their jobs). But I don’t have that same sense of confidence when I’m placed in front of a camera. I tried to make a short introduction video for my YouTube Channel, I tried four times to do a short 30 second clip and kept fucking up the short basic script I had devised for myself, eventually I thought “Fuck it!” and decided on doing a voice recording with my phone and pictures instead of video footage (you can view the intro video down below, don’t feel bad for laughing, the video is very much a rush job)
  • Marketing: From the research I’ve doing, a lot of the ADHD journal-style channels are created by people presumably in the USA, now this could give me an edge, an Australian woman talking about her personal experiences would be unique, but there is a risk that this is too unique and that only small percentage of people are going to interested in it. There’s also the problem that there are A LOT of people doing this already, and while I think this is awesome and I’m very much for ending the stigma surrounding ADHD and other Mental Health problems, I still need to ask myself “What am I bringing to the table?” and I’m not entirely certain that I would be adding to the conversation.
  • Interaction: Lets be honest here, YouTube isn’t known for being a safe place, where online harassment is taken seriously. While I know I have reasonably thick skin, the problem is that I don’t know if the possible good I get from this channel is going to out-weight the potential harassment I’m going to receive online. I’m not saying harassment or bullies should hold you back from doing what you want to do, because there are always going to be bullies and nay-sayers out there telling you not to try, this is more from a self-care and time management perspective.
  • Timing: I mean, with regards to filming, it’s lot more work involved in making YouTube videos in comparison to writing blog-posts on WordPress or Tumblr. With videos, you need time to film, organise a guest and/or work around guest’s schedule, edit film, possibly edit audio, publish it on YouTube, and then also make a blog-post about it on WordPress.
  • Length: I’m going to be honest, I talk a lot and at a fast pace, There’s also the problem with YouTube that videos are expected to be short (the implied maximum being 12-15 minutes) and I often feel that this time-constraint isn’t always appropriate for Mental Health discussions, a Mental Health problem can’t always be tackled in a 15 minute video, sometimes it’s more complicated than that. It also doesn’t give much time for me to answer any possible questions people might ask of me.

Podcasting Pros:

  • Comfort: I have no problems with recording myself via audio, I’m also super comfortable with Adobe Auditions (from what I remember, it’s super easy to use, although my memory isn’t the most reliable). In contrast to Adobe Premier, which is a little more difficult (or at least it is for me) and it wasn’t obvious how to use certain features like captioning
  • Experience: I have some limited experience to creating audio files due to taking a University unit Radio Production, I’m also looking into volunteering for a community radio station once a week.
  • Marketing: Mental Health Podcasts, such as The Mental Illness Happy Hour, have a proven track record of success.
  • Accessibility: For transcription, I can use a paid-service such as Trint and I can make my podcasts as long or short as I like.

Podcasting Cons:

  • Equipment: I have yet to obtain the recording equipment I would need to begin podcasting and that’s mostly because of cost, the audio recorder I have in mind (which is the cheaper of the two options) costs AU $180. Unlike the equipment I have for video recording, if I decide I don’t want to make videos, I can still use my camera and tripod for other things, but this isn’t the case with the audio equipment and I don’t want spend money on equipment I’m only going use once or twice.
  • Experience: I’ve been making short films since I was teenager, so I kind of know what to expect when making videos with other people, but I’ve never made a podcast before so I’m not sure what to expect, and that’s a little scary.

Problems that would affect both projects:

  • Effort: Maybe taking on a new writing project isn’t the best idea at this point in time. I’m struggling creatively, everything feels like too much effort and I just can’t, my situation kind of does have a “Going Through The Motions” type of feeling. I’m not doing well with my novel-writing, I had hoped to have a 1st draft of Orion finished by now, maybe I should focus on that instead and figure out why it’s not working for me. There’s a serious concern that I’m just using this idea for a new project as an excuse to procrastinate.
  • Knowledge: Maybe I’m not the best person for this type of project, I have no formal qualifications and I only have subjective experiences to work from,
    I also don’t have the best social skills, a key component required when trying to get people to agree to interviews
  • Interviews: While I would love to do interviews regardless of my platform, getting the right people to agree to interviews will be a challenge.
  • Social Media: I would have to set up some separate elements of Social media for this new project, not a lot but some, possibly a separate Twitter or separate Tumblr page for people to ask questions, and seeing as I’ve just recently had to shut down my Havering blog because I just no longer had the mental capacity to maintain it, I feel a little anxious about the idea. I don’t want to set up social media for this project, only to delete it a few months later.

Maybe this is something I need to think about for a little while longer, however, I’d really appreciate it if readers could let me know what they think. Is this something you’d be interested in? Would you prefer YouTube or would you prefer a podcast? What about a combination of the two? I don’t know, I’m just putting ideas out there. If you’d like to check out my introductory video for my channel, the video is just below:

The Dysfunction Junction: Is There A Specialist In The House?

Image Description: a large cluster of smiley faces in the centre of the picture. In the background are multicoloured words against a black background like breath, here and now, accept, track, sense repeatedly printed in the background over and over again.
Image Description: a large cluster of smiley faces in the centre of the picture. In the background are multicoloured words against a black background like breath, here and now, accept, track, sense repeatedly printed in the background over and over again.

Since the end of October 2016, I have been trying and failing to find a specialist doctor qualified to assess people on whether they have ADHD (or possibly something else). One of the unfortunate side effects of Mental Health services is that financial status is often the deciding factor in accessibility.

The only reason I can afford to have therapy sessions for my increasingly unstable anxiety and my pursuit of an ADHD diagnosis is because I have a partner who is willing to support me, he earns a decent wage and we have some savings set aside.

It’s funny just how big a factor money really is in gaining the mental health support services one may require, and by funny, I mean fucking awful. The sheer cost factor was one of the many reasons why I hesitated to pursue an ADHD in the first place, that and, because of my past bad experiences with bad/incompetent doctors, trust is a big factor.

How do I know this person is qualified? What’s their range of experience? Do they have experience with Adult diagnosis? Do they have experience diagnosing Adult Women? And the most terrifying question of all: What if I don’t have ADHD? What if I’ve just been slightly dysfunctional the whole time, and I’ve just been wasting all this time and money for nothing?

Whenever I was given a referral letter to a specialist, I made the effort to google search and attempt to find as much information about these “specialists” as possible. Unfortunately, the clear majority of specialists regarding ADHD are male doctors. I regard this as a bad sign, especially considering the shitty attitude some people and the medical industry have towards Neurodiversity and people who aren’t white cis-boys.

It was why I was so happy when my local GP found a female doctor in Ballarat who stated she was qualified for Adult diagnosis for ADHD and Autism, unfortunately one of the downsides was I would be waiting a minimum of two months before I could see her.

Another downside is that each hourly session was $400, however, I did some research on her, found positive comments, noticed she had a minimal internet presence (a website with a photo and brief bio) and I booked an appointment, expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

I had previously tried to contact a male specialist and due to the rudeness of the receptionist, I never bothered to book an appointment, I figured if you’re that rude to a paying customer, clearly that specialist doesn’t need my money (sad part is that it’s probably true).

But when I contacted Ballarat Psychiatry Group, the receptionist was super nice and very helpful with my inquiries. If you work in the mental health industry, don’t be an arsehole to people over the phone, the people calling up clearly have enough problems to deal with, I can’t stress this enough.

And then the waiting began…

In the almost three months prior to my appointment, I figured it would beneficial to do as much research as possible, print out things to give to the specialist in a bid to minimise the wastage of time. To maintain a vague illusion of organisation, I purchased a specifically set aside compendium-folder (bright pink of course) so that I could keep all my “Mental Health Stuff” all in the one place.

In my view, I had only an hour to distil twenty-eight-years’ worth of dysfunction, I did not have high hopes for this, especially since in therapy sessions I tend to go off on unrelated side notes and forget what I was even talking about in the first place. To try and combat this, I made sure to take lined paper and pens with me, so that I could take notes or make dot-points before the session.

When I went into the doctor’s office for my appointment, she began with the usual scripted dialogue people with when meeting for the first time:
“Hi, how are you?”

I responded with “Fine” automatically, because that is what we are taught to say, we are taught to say we are fine even when we are not (especially when we are not), “fine” is the only socially acceptable answer. Then I reminded myself that I wasn’t paying $400 an hour to be “fine”.

I corrected myself, “Well no, I’m not fine, I wouldn’t be here if I were. I’m inquiring into an Adult Diagnosis of ADHD, I’ve done all this research,” I handed over a bright pink A4 sized document-wallet filled with documents. “And I thought we could start there.”

The fact that she discarded the document-wallet pretty much as soon as I gave it to her was a bad sign to me, however, it was the expression of bored disdain that irritated me (and continues to irritate me whenever I think about it, yes, I’ll admit it, I’m at times terribly petty).

It turns out she’s not qualified at all to assess people on whether they have ADHD (even though it says so on multiple internet resources). Apparently, she primarily dealt with patients who came to her looking for help with ADHD, but it turns out they don’t have ADHD, they just have Anxiety or Depression. Personally, I feel that’s a weird kind of specialisation to have, I mean, what would she do if she came across a person who had Depression and Anxiety but also had ADHD as well?

Anyway, I was offered two choices, choice A was she could email a referral letter to my local GP doctor, and then I would have to book an appointment with my local GP and obtain the referral letter via my GP (the Ballarat doctor couldn’t just print out a referral letter then and there and give to me). Choice B was that I continue with the appointment and she would attempt a paper-form of assessment over multiple sessions and then refer me onto a specialist.

My thought process was that a person who isn’t qualified to assess me is going to ask me questions (if she’s not qualified, how can I trust that she’ll ask the right questions?), over multiple sessions (3 x $400 = $1200) and even at the end of that, I still wouldn’t have a definitive answer because at the end, she’d still have to refer me to a specialist.

So that would be at least three appointments with her and an appointment with an actual qualified specialist (for the sake of argument, let’s assume the qualified specialist charges at the same rate), so that’s $1600 worth of appointments with no guaranteed answers. I’ll admit my first knee-jerk reaction was “shove that up your arse” but somehow, I managed to contain my frustration and annoyance at having my time wasted, although I’m sure my emotional state was probably obvious.

I chose to cancel the appointment and deal with the ADHD specialists directly (or as directly as I could).

I was ranting to my councillor about this and she gave me the suggestion of contacting the RMIT Psychology Clinic and encouraged me to inquire if they had the ability to perform an Adult ADHD assessment.

My councillor informed me that the doctor seeing me would be a graduate doctor (with a senior doctor to supervise) which was why the session would be cheaper. So, I decided to check this out first, and keep the ADHD specialist referral letters for later, in case the RMIT thing doesn’t work out.

Unfortunately, and perhaps this is only me, but I found the website confusing and vague so I’ll try to add more information.

Without a concession card, the doctor session will cost AU $30 and the Assessment Report will cost AU $100 (plus the cost of petrol and possibly parking, IDK, the place is located in Bundoora), however, I want to point out that if you have a concession card, fees and such will be cheaper for you, I can’t say specifically because it will depend on what you’re pursuing the clinic for (the website does have some information about fees, I just didn’t find it clear enough for me).

You will need a referral letter from a GP to gain access to the service. My GP didn’t know about this service (Latrobe University also has a psychology clinic as well in case that university is closer) and, as a result, the RMIT Psychology Clinic has been added to the database my local medical centre maintains for services like these, so hopefully this will help other people too.

When I contacted them, it did involve a bit of fluffing about (a short time on hold while they found the right department/right doctor to speak to, standard university stuff really), but my assigned doctor got back to me within an acceptable time frame and I’ve only had to wait a couple of weeks before I could get an appointment.

Like with all good deals that seem too good to be true, there is a catch, one of the conditions of gaining access to a cheaper assessment is that my appointment will be recorded for training purposes. Apparently, according to the doctor I’ll be seeing for my appointment, a lot of people don’t engage with the service because of this, which is why I’ve made sure to mention it directly.

I’ll be going for my appointment with the RMIT Psychology Clinic next Wednesday and my thought process on this is that perhaps it’s a good thing a recording of my appointment will exist, hopefully it can be used as evidence to help support other people like myself.

Although I don’t have high hopes at this point, I must test out my options, even if this is simply a process of elimination. I’ll ask if I can receive a copy of the recording. I should be able to under the Freedom of Information act.

Speaking off obtaining information, I’ve also been investigating into getting a copy of my records from my forced attendance at Orygen Youth Health, now I wasn’t forced to go there because of a court mandate.

The doctors involved with Orygen Youth Health just repeatedly told me I had to go to appointments and I couldn’t leave the program until I was a legal adult. As an adult, this comes across as “that might not be technically illegal, but definitely sounds unethical” category.

Making a traumatised teenager feel as though they have no choice but to attend therapy sessions with a doctor who won’t listen and keeping said traumatised teenager ignorant of their medical rights belongs in the “Dodgy as Fuck” category.

But then again, the Orygen Youth Service was free for me to access because my mother and I had concession cards, so maybe this is more of a “you get what you pay for” type of situation (not that it makes what they did okay).

I began investigating my Orygen Youth Service medical records back in December and still haven’t received my records, but my thought process was that “What the hell was that Doctor thinking?” and then I needed to know the exact answer to that question, or at least the closest approximation I’ll be able to obtain.

I also thought as I’m not doing my assessment through the education system (not by choice I may add) it may be beneficial to obtain “official” medical documents and see if they can help my cause. Although, I have strong doubts about this.

If you’re in a position where you’re able to pursue a diagnosis for a Neurodiversity condition through the educated system, I encourage you to do this, Doctors are like University Admins, they require an almost bureaucratic level of paper-work to justify you getting an appointment.

I just wanted to add thanks if you managed to get this far through the post, I know it’s absurdly long, especially since it’s a super long post about how not much progress has been made, hopefully next Wednesday will put me in better position and I’ll know where to go from there.

The Dysfunction Junction ~ An Introduction

Image Description: a large cluster of smiley faces in the centre of the picture. In the background are words like breath, here & now, accept, track, sense repeatedly printed in the background over and over again.
Image Description: a large cluster of smiley faces in the centre of the picture. In the background are words like breath, here & now, accept, track, sense repeatedly printed in the background over and over again.

Welcome to The Dysfunction Junction, a series of blog-posts I am going to write as I try to figure out whether or not I have ADHD or if I am just Weird. Now, I know some people will object to my use of the term Weird, but as I have spent my entire life being made to feel Less because I am Different, I think at this stage I’m entitled to reclaim Weird and Crazy if it so pleases me. Especially since every time I try to figure out what that precise Difference is exactly, I have been (and continue to be) denied access to a label and a diagnosis, and therefore to services that could potentially help me handle my Dysfunction.

Instead, I am left with labels like Weird, Crazy, Freak and Broken by default. But I am not Broken, I am not Less, and recently Kim gave me another word, a glorious inclusive word that matches me, and that word was Neurodivergent. It was in a Tumblr post, but unfortunately, I cannot find the direct quote (I have been looking through Stim Toy posts trying to find it) so I will be paraphrasing here, but it was essentially along the lines of:

“From what you’ve told me about your experiences in general and your experiences with mental health, you’re not Neurotypical, you definitely sound Neurodivergent, and you’re welcome to play in our sand box.”

It will sound silly, but I almost began crying when I read Kim’s response, I was so happy not just because of Kim’s acceptance but for the underlying message of “it’s okay, I see you, and you don’t have to pretend to be normal.” Because for most of my life I have been trying and mostly failing to adhere to the role of “Normal Person” without a script. I am not “normal” or Neurotypical, I never will be, so naturally I keep failing and beating myself up about it (if everyone else can do it, why can’t I?), although my failures as an adult are small and possibly dismissive in comparison to the failures I committed as a child and teenager. I have learned how to blend or appear “normal enough” by rote, not because it comes naturally to me, socialising and interacting with other people is hard work for me.

I am trying to change my current situation by pursuing an Adult Diagnosis of ADHD, but until I get a Yay or a Nay, I’m kind of stuck in this state of Purgatory. I can’t move forward with possible treatment (more on this in a later post) and I can’t go back to pretending I don’t have a problem. I recognise I have a problem, some of my closest friends and family are willing to recognise I have a problem, but because in the past certain doctors have refused to recognise I have a problem, I can’t get the appropriate help I need now without a diagnosis.

These posts are not to function as a self-hosted Pity Party, but rather to act as a guide for other people who might be considering the same type of options as I am. But as I live in Australia, I have limited access of Australian doctors qualified to assess Adults with ADHD, and the Australian Medicare System also limits me, my approach will be primarily Australian-orientated (just in case that wasn’t obvious).

But I would also like to mention up front that the diagnostic criterion for an Adult with ADHD is similar to an Adult with Autism or Adults belonging to the Autism Spectrum. While I don’t think I have Autism, I can’t deny the possibility that I could be Autistic instead of having ADHD, although I think it’s unlikely. There is also the possibility of having both ADHD and Autism, although I think this also unlikely, if I had both, surely someone would have noticed or said something before now (maybe? I think? At this point I really don’t know anymore), however, having said that, I have often found resources or articles for people with Autism to be helpful for me.

Concerning Autism and ADHD support groups, there is a lot of focus on international organisations like The National Society of Autism (located in the UK) and Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) (which is predominantly located in the USA). I’m sure both these groups do amazing things for Neurodivergent people in their respective counties, but their helpfulness is limited in international situations like mine.

Amaze (formerly known as Autism Victoria) doesn’t get nearly the same amount of attention as GRASP or The National Society of Autism, although Amaze does produce a magazine The Spectrum (if anyone is interested in contributing to it). I have found that Wrong Planet and Autism Women’s Network are more internationally friendly or more internationally appropriate.

On the ADHD front, I found valuable articles and resources at ADDitude Magazine, but for something more Australian orientated, I have also found this website Every Day with ADHD which has resources for parents and children for different states in Australia but also in New Zealand.

While I’ve been able to find Australian support groups and online support groups for transgender people (this post has a list of resources), I haven’t been able to find an organisation or support group for transgender people who also have Autism or ADHD. If anyone knows about transgender-focused support groups for Autism or ADHD, please leave me a link in the comment section, I would be happy to add the link/s into the post.

The key objective here is to help and to inform, so at this point I want to add the obvious disclaimer that I am not a qualified or experienced medical professional. I cannot and will not offer a diagnosis for Autism or ADHD, however, I will add resource links at the bottom of the page, and what you do with them is completely up to you. If someone out there stumbles across my blog and finds this helpful, then great, otherwise this is just going to be me ranting about how messed up the Australian Medicare System is and just how lacking the Mental Health services available in Australia are.

Links:
~ADDitude Magazine – Home

~ADDitude Magazine – Self-tests and Quizzes

~ADDitude Magazine: The Truth About ADHD in Women

~Decades of failing to recognize ADHD in girls has created a “lost generation” of women by Jenny Anderson

~ADD on my mind: diagnosing attention deficit disorder in adults by Yasmin Noone

~So Much Stranger, So Much Darker, So Much Madder, So Much Better: Autism with a side of ADHD

~The link between autism and trans identity By Bryony White

~Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)

~Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, LGBT Groups Release Statement on Needs of Trans Autistic People

~The Chameleons: women with autism | The Feed SBS (YouTube Video)

~Different As Pie: So You Think You Have Asperger Syndrome? (Youtube Video)

~Musings of an Aspie: Aspie Tests

~Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate: A User Guide to an Asperger Life by Cynthia Kim

~Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone

~Bitter Autistic (Tumblr): a collection of quizzes and other tools to help with self diagnosis as well as tips and tricks for ADHD

~Bitter Autistic (Tumblr): NOT SO COMMONLY TALKED ABOUT/ATYPICAL AUTISM TRAITS

Audio Stimming: Postmodern Jukebox

Image Description: The keyboard of a piano with a single page of sheet music on top of it
In my family, Music is a big deal, and every Christmas I would make Mix-Tape Style CD’s for my friends and family. Unfortunately, one of my parents would regularly work Christmas Day, and would listen to the CD on the way to work. My father is a walking encyclopedia on the History of Music. If you give him the name of a band, he will rattle off the band’s history and placements of specific songs on radio charts. My partner on the other hand, as kid, did not possess an interest in music. He had limited exposure to FM Pop radio stations and ABC on AM, which didn’t change until he finished secondary college and moved to the “big city” of Bendigo for University access. The only time he listened to music regularly was in the car as he and his step-father traveled into Melbourne together.

This was a strange idea for me to grasp when my partner told me this. It was very difficult for me — a person who is sometimes overwhelmed by sound — to comprehend that for my partner, bands and songs were not distinguishable from each other, but rather blurred together to form one large homogenized blob of decade-associated-noise. Which is why my partner and father will occasionally have weird moments, such as when I play a song my partner vaguely recognizes and I tell him it’s (for example) by Fleetwood Mac. He’ll raise an eyebrow at me and say “That’s Fleetwood Mac?” (though in his defense Fleetwood Mac does change it’s vocal-line up frequently). My father will be incredulous at my partner’s inability to detect a particular band’s style by a mere few bars of music. My partner will shrug non-nonchalantly (“What are you getting all riled up for? It’s just music.”), which will naturally annoy my father further.

Although, I have exposed him to my weird and strange assortment of music, I must confess it mostly consists of 90’s alternative rock — I am a product of my time period in some ways. As my partner’s car is a Japanese import, it can only access AM radio stations, which makes it a little difficult to keep up with modern music. So, it has only just recently come to my attention that auditory stimming is a thing. I hadn’t realised it until I saw a tumblr post mentioning a list of stims, and “listening to the same song over and over again” was one of them, which is something I’ve been doing since I was kid.

The thing is, I still do this and I’m starting to think it might be one of my “feel good” stims (as opposed to my “stress relief” stims which are fidget/hand orientated) and I hadn’t realised it until now. It’s funny, I’ve been trying to figure out “feel good” stims for my characters in my Pushing Boundaries series, and I should have realised sooner why I was having such difficulties. If I couldn’t figure out my own ones, I could hardly figure out ones for my characters. At this point, while I can figure out Mary’s “feel good” stims, it’s going to be more difficult for a character like James, who mostly listens to audio books and classical music, and I have a feeling that it’s going be a process of elimination.

So, for the last two days, I’ve been listening to Youtube videos made by Postmodern Jukebox, and these videos have been helpful for character development and Auditory Stimming:

The Original Artist:
~All About That Bass by Megan Trainor
~Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
~Closer by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
~Habits by Tove Lo
~Hotline Bling by Drake
~Lovefool by The Cardigans
~Stacey’s Mum by Fountains of Wayne
~Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging by Fall Out Boy
~Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood
~Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys and Barbie Girl by Aqua (the 90’s was a weird time)

The Postmodern Jukebox Version:
~All About That Bass – Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version ft. Casey Abrams, Haley Reinhart, Morgan James and Ariana Savalas
~Bad Romance – Vintage 1920’s Gatsby Style ft. Ariana Savalas and Sarah Reich
~Closer – Retro ’50s Prom Style ft. Kenton Chen
~Habits – Vintage 1930’s Jazz ft. Haley Reinhart
~Hotline Bling – Vintage ’40s Swing ft. Cristina Gatti
~Lovefool – Vintage Jazz ft. Haley Reinhart
~Stacy’s Mum – Vintage 1930s Hot Jazz ft. Casey Abrams
~Sugar, We’re Going Down – Vintage Big Band Style ft. Joey Cook
~Sweater Weather – Vintage French Pop / Edith Piaf-style ft. Cristina Gatti
~Barbie Girl – Vintage Beach Boys Style ft. Morgan James

This is just a small sample I’m working with. I’m hoping if I use a small sample, it will make it easier to focus my attention. I am so easily distracted by noise and sound. There are way more songs available from the enormously talented singers and musicians that work with Postmodern Jukebox.

All About The Bass: I’ve already written about my issues with the Megan Trainor version (link is here), however I can’t deny I enjoy listening to this version of the song. Morgan James also changes the line to “go ahead and tell those skinny ladies that”, and coupled with her delivery of the “Naw, I’m just playing, I know you think you’re fat” line sort of makes it more tolerable? IDK, it’s up to personal interpretation. My favourite part of the song is when all three ladies harmonize together (which is audio catnip for me). The first time I listened to this song, I couldn’t help but close my eyes and sigh; I was not aware I was doing that until my partner raised an eyebrow at my behaviour.

Bad Romance: The funny thing is that Lady Gaga herself is a self-taught pianist, so she often performs Poker Face in this style, which I think is great. If anything, I encourage artists to be able to sit back and strip down their music to the essentials. Ariana Savalas and Sarah Reich work great together as a team, with Sarah performing tap dancing. I would have thought the tap-dancing would make it distracting, but it’s complimentary (or at least that’s the case for me).

Closer: While it’s clear that the guy from The Chainsmokers could not sing to save his life, this is not the case with Kenton Chen and the other vocalists Mario Jose and Vince Cannady. They provide lovely tenor and countertenor harmonization. But this song highlights the fact that talented musicians and vocalists are still restricted by the song. The lyrical clunkiness of the chorus is highlighted because these are talented musicians and vocalists. Much in the same way that Elvis Presley’s bad acting was highlighted further by surrounding him with a cast of talented actors. But, getting back on topic, I just love this style of music. Amongst my favourite songs are I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) by The Four Tops and Why Do Fools Fall In Love by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers.

Habits: I love the Haley Reinhart version of this (I’ve replayed this countless times over the last two days). I adore Haley Reinhart’s smoky/raspy Mezzo-soprano voice, or at least I think that’s what it’s classified as (I am in no way a music expert). Haley Reinhart is an engaging performer and she is exquisite to listen to.

Hotline Bling: While I despise the original version of this song, I do enjoy the Hotline Bling memes which are hilarious (the Star Wars one is the best, no exceptions). But much like All About That Base, when Cristina Gatti sings this song, it somehow becomes more tolerable (is that the right word?). When I asked my partner to listen to it, he said “Great, now I have to take this song seriously.” He described it as “like Amy Winehouse”, to which I replied “Why do you say that like it’s a bad thing?”, especially since I also love Amy Winehouse’s music such as Rehab (I play this constantly), Back To Black and Valerie (I know this is Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse, but you get the general idea)

Lovefool: As stated previously, I adore tracks performed by Haley Reinhart, but I also really like the original as well. It’s one of my favourite songs, I think both versions are good, but my partner thinks this version is too close to the original. Let me know in the comments section if you agree or disagree.

Stacey’s Mum: This song is a bit of guilty pleasure of mine, and while I enjoy both versions, I’ve got to say that Casey Abrams is mad talented.

Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging: Although I am a big Fall Out Boy Fan, I love it when female artists do covers of songs originally sung for/by men. After all, despite the fact that Otis Reed originally did sing it, Aretha Franklin’s version of Respect is the one that’s most well known, and it’s obvious Aretha Franklin’s version is the better one (not sorry in the slightest). Joey Cook’s version does not disappoint, it sounds just like I imagined a vintage big band to sound like, and the black and white visual adds to the jazzy atmosphere.

Sweater Weather: While I do like the original, I prefer Cristina Gatti’s version, not just because she is lovely to listen to (singing in French!) but also because, unlike the original song, the music composition is consistent throughout the track, the original track slows down the melody for some weird reason near the end. This reminds me strongly of Dancing With Myself by Nouvelle Vague, although I do also enjoy the Billy Idol version of Dancing With Myself as well.

Barbie Girl: With regards to Aqua, I actually have a copy their first album (I give full permission to laugh) and while Barbie Girl was most certainly overplayed, it wasn’t Aqua’s best song, my preferred Aqua songs would be Good Morning Sunshine (even though it has a weird rap moment?) and Happy Boys and Girls (if you could turn Diabetes into a sound, I’m fairly certain it would sound like this). With regards to The Beach Boys, I think Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys is an overrated and, quite frankly, jarring song (there’s a reason people only use the first minute and thirty seconds of that song). I feel that Wouldn’t It Be Good (one of my favourite songs) and I Get Around are better examples of The Beach Boys trademark harmonizing vocals.

And this is why Youtube is both a terrible and wonderful thing. For the last two days, I’ve been feeling happy whilst listening to music, but feeling positive and feeling productive are not the same thing. It’s impossible for me to write and sing at the same time (I’ve tested this). Words can be distracting to productivity, which is why one of my PWE teachers recommended listening to instrumental sounds while writing like cinematic soundtracks or classical music instead.

I have found that I’m more productive with music playing in the background with speakers. I’m not as productive when I’m listening to my mp3 player and headphones, but then again, I live with just my partner and me so that’s possible for me to do that (I understand that’s not possible for everyone). If using Youtube, make use of the playlist function, I found that the playlist function was super helpful and I didn’t have to worry about what video to play next, it automatically went to the next one. This way I could just run it in the background while I did the dishes and the laundry.

So, let me know in the comments section down below if you’re into this type of music or if you like an alternative cover version of a song.

Links:
~Queer Without Gender – Experience Atypical: Sound
~Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist: Signs And Symptoms Of Dysfunction
~Todd In The Shadows: Closer by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
~Todd In The Shadows: The Best of 2013
~The Rap Critic: Hotline Bling by Drake
~When you try all the sounds and beats on your synth while only playing coldplay – viva la vida
~Auditory Stimming

The Things We Don’t Talk About – Part 2

The difference between rape and sex

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post will be discussing the following: Rape, Rape Culture, Sexual Assault and Child Molestation.

Before we begin, I recommend anyone reading this post read the following:

Raped On The Battlefield: What Male Veteran Survivors Know By Robert Evans

Why I Kept My Rape By A Priest A Secret (And Can’t Anymore) By Robert Evans\

5 Reasons Why Non-Traditional Rape Narratives Are Important by Sian Ferguson

The Things We Don’t Talk About is going to be a series of blog-posts I’m going to be writing with the primary focus of Rape Culture and Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse Experiences, I will also be discussing my own experiences with Rape Culture, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault. While Part 1 discussed some Rape Culture Myths and Facts, I want this post to focus on Rape Culture Myths involving the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community and GSRM (Gender, Sexual and Romantic Minorities) community. Despite the that being apart of the GSRM (Gender Sexual and Romantic Minorities) community has become “trendy”, the Narrative for Rape and Sexual Assault has resisted change and the dominate Rape Culture Narrative is still “Cis-gender Male Perpetrator/Cis-gender Female Victim”.

Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal, who is a Professor of Law at the University of Canberra (which is the capital of Australian and where Federal Parliament resides and where they make Federal Laws) is considered a leading expert. Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal has written 12 distinct works involving Rape Culture (in Australia and in other countries like Japan) and the Australian Legal System (which is based on the Westminster System), however if a supposedly “leading expert” is still using the “Cis-Male Perpetrator/Cis-Female Victim” Rape Culture Narrative, there’s a serious problem and this needs to stop. A victim/survivor can be anyone of any age, of any ethnic background, of any gender or no gender at all.

Even though I was sexually assaulted/molested by two males, this specific Rape Culture Narrative (one that usually involves penetration, which doesn’t always happen) and essentially implies that an act of rape and/or sexual assault is only a “legitimate case” of rape and/or sexual assault if it contains one or two very narrow and possibly irrelevant qualifiers. But the truth remains that Rape is Rape and it doesn’t require qualifiers. There is no such thing as “a legitimate case of rape” or “a legitimate case of sexual assault” because ALL incidents of rape and/or sexual assault are legitimate.

If a person feels cohered, pressured or threatened (indirectly or directly) into having sex with someone else, then it is Rape and/or Sexual Assault. It doesn’t matter if a person experienced an orgasm, it doesn’t matter if they made their Rapist breakfast the next morning, if a victim/survivor feels violated by the experience, if a victim/survivor feels that what they wanted or needed wasn’t respected, if they felt they couldn’t say no (Silence Is NOT Yes), then it is Rape and/or Sexual Assault.

The “Cis-Male Perpetrator/Cis-Female Victim” Rape Culture Narrative doesn’t just hurt people, it kills people, it doesn’t just exclude myself from the conversation, it excludes the LGBT and GSRM communities from the conversation as well. According to Human Rights Campaign and their article Sexual Assault and the LGBTQ Community:

As a community, LGBTQ people face higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalization, which put us at greater risk for sexual assault. We also face higher rates of hate-motivated violence, which can often take the form of sexual assault. Moreover, the ways in which society both hypersexualizes LGBTQ people and stigmatizes our relationships can lead to intimate partner violence that stems from internalized homophobia and shame.

Yet, as a community, we rarely talk about how sexual violence affects us or what our community’s unique needs are when it comes to preventing sexual assault and supporting and caring for survivors of sexual violence.

The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found for LGB people:

44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women

26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 29 percent of heterosexual men

46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians

22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of heterosexual women

40 percent of gay men and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21 percent of heterosexual men

Within the LGBTQ community, transgender people and bisexual women face the most alarming rates of sexual violence. Among both of these populations, sexual violence begins early, often during childhood.

Among transgender racial minorities, 24 percent of transgender American Indians, 18 percent of transgender people who identified as multiracial, 17 percent of transgender Asians, and 15 percent of Black transgender respondents experienced sexual assault in K-12 education settings – much higher rates than students of other races. Transgender women respondents experienced sexual assault more often than their transgender male peers.

Nearly half (48 percent) of bisexual women who are rape survivors experienced their first rape between ages 11 and 17.

For LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault, their identities – and the discrimination they face surrounding those identities – often make them hesitant to seek help from police, hospitals, shelters or rape crisis centers, the very resources that are supposed to help them.

85 percent of victim advocates surveyed by the NCAVP reported having worked with an LGBTQ survivor who was denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that among those transgender respondents who had interacted with police 6 percent had been physically assaulted and 2 percent had been sexually assaulted by police. Among black transgender people, 15 percent reported physical assault and 7 percent reported sexual assault by police. Additionally, 22 percent of those transgender people who had attempted to access shelters reported being sexually assaulted by either another person in the shelter or by shelter staff.

However, this is all highly centered on the LGBT and GSRM communities in the United States of America, what about the the LGBT and GSRM communities in Australia? Well, I have statistics regarding the LGBT and GSRM communities in Australia as well. According to Australian Human Rights Commission article Face the facts: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People:
Face the facts

However for those who aren’t visually-orientated or find that difficult to read:

On 1 August 2013, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was amended to make discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status against the law. Despite this important step forward, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in Australia still experience discrimination, harassment and hostility in many parts of everyday life; in public, at work and study, accessing health and other services and securing proper recognition of their sex in official documents.

About LGBTI people
Australians of diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity may account for up to 11 per cent of the Australian population.

The reported number of same-sex couples has more than tripled between 1996 and 2011.

In 2011, there were around 6,300 children living in same-sex couple families, up from 3,400 in 2001. Most of these children (89 per cent) are in female same-sex couple families.

Intersex people are people born with physical, hormonal or genetic features that are neither wholly female nor wholly male, or a combination of female and male, or neither female nor male. As with the general population, people with intersex variations have a broad range of gender identities and sexual orientations. There are no firm figures for Australia’s intersex population. Estimates range from one in 2,000 births to four per cent of the population however the Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII Australia) recommends a mid-range figure of 1.7 per cent of all births.

Key issues for LGBTI people
A large number of LGBTI people hide their sexuality or gender identity when accessing services (34 per cent), at social and community events (42 per cent) and at work (39 per cent). Young people aged 16 to 24 years are most likely to hide their sexuality or gender identity.

LGBTI young people report experiencing verbal homophobic abuse (61 per cent), physical homophobic abuse (18 per cent) and other types of homophobia (9 per cent), including cyberbullying, graffiti, social exclusion and humiliation.

80 per cent of homophobic bullying involving LGBTI young people occurs at school and has a profound impact on their well-being and education.

Transgender males and females experience significantly higher rates of non-physical and physical abuse compared with lesbians and gay men.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are three times more likely to experience depression compared to the broader population.

Around 61 per cent of same-sex attracted and gender-questioning young people said they experienced verbal abuse because of their sexuality, while 18 per cent reported experiencing physical abuse. Young men (70 per cent) and gender-questioning young people (66 per cent) were more likely than young women (53 per cent) to experience verbal abuse.

Positive developments
LGBTI young people at schools where protective policies are in place are more likely to feel safe compared with those in schools without similar policies (75 per cent compared with 45 per cent). They are almost 50 per cent less likely to be physically abused at school, less likely to suffer other forms of homophobic abuse, less likely to self-harm and less likely to attempt suicide.

People in same-sex couples tend to be more highly educated, more likely to work in highly skilled occupations (53 per cent compared with 43 per cent) and more likely to have higher incomes.

On measures of general health and family cohesion, children aged 5 to 17 years with same-sex attracted parents had significantly better scores when compared to Australian children from all other backgrounds and family contexts. For all other health measures, there were no statistically significant differences.

Did you know?
Almost half of all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people hide their sexual orientation or gender identity in public for fear of violence or discrimination.

There’s also this report, the Intimate partner violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer communities report written by Monica Campo and Sarah Tayton

Prevalence
There is little population-wide data available on the prevalence of intimate partner violence in LGBTIQ communities. Large-scale surveys such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey (2013) do not collect data on LGBTIQ identity, and the Australian component of the International Violence against Women Survey (Mouzos & Makkai, 2004) focused on male violence against women. Further, there are methodological issues with existing studies. For example, most studies use convenience samples, raising questions about how representative the figures are (Tayton et al 2014; Calton et al., 2015; Edwards, Sylaska, & Neal, et al 2015; Tayton et al., 2014). As Edwards and colleagues (2015) highlighted, discrepancies in how intimate partner violence is defined; whether studies assess lifetime violence/current relationship/previous year; and whether measurement scales were used or not, mean there are often large inconsistencies between studies.

Further, as described above, there is a lack of recognition of intimate partner violence within gender diverse or same-sex relationships and under-reporting of intimate partner violence in general (Donovan & Hester, 2010; Leonard, Mitchell, Patel & Fox, 2008). Discrimination, stigma and non-recognition of same-sex or other gender diverse relationships further present barriers to the collection of statistical and demographic data and thus obscure the realities of intimate partner violence in LGBTIQ communities (Lorenzetti et al., 2015).

The Australian Research Centre for Health and Sexuality (ARCHS) conducted a national demographic and health and wellbeing survey of 5,476 LGBTIQ people (Pitts, Smith, Mitchell, & Patel, 2006) and found significant levels of intimate partner violence:
41% of male-identifying respondents, and 28% of female-identifying respondents had experienced physical violence within a same-sex intimate relationship; and

25% of respondents had experienced sexual assault within a same-sex intimate relationship (with women-identifying and trans respondents more likely to experience sexual assault).

A smaller study of 390 LGBTIQ respondents in Victoria, also conducted by ARCHS (Leonard et al., 2008) found that that just under a third had been involved in a same-sex relationship where they were subject to abuse by their partner:
78% of the abuse was psychological and 58% involved physical abuse;

Lesbian women were more likely than gay men to report having been in an abusive same-sex relationship (41% and 28% respectively); and

26% of respondents had experienced sexual assault within a same-sex relationship (Leonard et al., 2008).

This research, in addition to international data (e.g., see Donovan, Hester, Holmes, & McCarry, 2006; Edwards et al., 2015; Lorenzetti et al., 2015), suggests that intimate partner violence occurs in LGBTIQ populations at similar levels as within the heterosexual population.

LGBTIQ children and young people’s experiences

Though this paper focuses predominately on intimate partner violence in adult relationships, it is important to note that LGBTIQ people may face abuse and violence across the lifespan as a result of their gender or sexual identity, including from within their own families. A national survey of LGBTIQ young people aged 14 to 21 years (Hillier Jones et al., 2010), for example, found that significant rates of young people had experienced abuse with:
61% of young people reporting verbal abuse as a result of their gender identity or sexuality;

18% reporting physical abuse as a result of their gender identity or sexuality;

80% reporting the abuse occurred at school; and

24% reporting they had experienced verbal and physical abuse in the family home.

For the young people who reported abuse in the family home, the abuser was most likely to be a parent and more likely to be their father than their mother.

Now, it might not be obvious, but it is my strong opinion that Bullying (especially bullying at school), Domestic Violence, Rape and/or Sexual Assault and Rape Culture are all links in an interconnected chain of suffering. One link leads to another. When you, as a parent, tell your sons “Boys will be Boys” or “Be A Man”, you are normalizing bullying behaviour and domestic violence in boys. When you, as a parent, tell your daughters “he only does that because he likes you”, you normalize bullying behaviour and domestic violence, you teach your daughters that their consent doesn’t matter and that how they feel doesn’t matter.

If your daughter has the courage to come and tell you that they may identify as a Bisexual, or a Lesbian, or Queer and you’re response is, “it’s just a phase” or “it’s just hormones”, you are telling your child you cannot be trusted to have a conversation were their needs and rights are being respected. If you don’t talk to you child or spawn about the possibility of them or the people they know (or might know in future) of being a member of the LGBT community or the GSRM community, you create a vacuum of silence and ignorance and silence and ignorance lead to abuse.

My parents constantly warned me of the dangers of people I didn’t know, but it never occurred to them that I could be molested by people they knew or to tell me what those specific dangers were or how to recognize a toxic relationship, what is consent? I was molested and sexually abused because I was ignorant of what consent was and what consent entailed, I didn’t know how to object because I didn’t know how to object, I was uninformed of my rights and I didn’t realise how things are “supposed” to be between people of different age groups.

Everyone has the right to be safe in their own home and inside of a classroom.

I’m not really sure how to end this post, I’ve been working on this post for a few days and I honestly don’t know what else I can say, however I wanted to apologize in advance if I’ve excluded anyone from this post or the previous one. If my words offended or hurt anyone, I’m sorry if that happened, that was not my intention and I will work harder on trying to be more inclusive. Especially since this is such a draining topic for me to write about. This isn’t cathartic for me, or at least not yet, I have to force myself to write these posts, because these posts scare me, however I feel this burning pressure inside of me to do so, to keep writing about this (even though it hurts me). My fear of inaction is stronger than the fear of a reaction. Despite the reassurances of my awesome friend, I do not feel brave or kick-arse when I write this, mostly because I do not feel as though I’m really adding anything to the conversation that hasn’t been said before or perhaps has been said before but better by someone else.

However, I was reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and she said that when she wrote her previous book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (which is where she talks about her struggles with Depression, Anxiety, ADD and Mental Illness as a multi-layered complicated aspect of her life), she said that by talking about her struggles with Depression gave her father “permission” to come forward and talk about his personal struggles with Mental Illness as well. So, to be honest, while apart of me knows I have to write this post because this is a conversation that needs to happen and is too often dismissed or silenced, I feel as though giving permission to talk about Rape and/or Sexual Assault and Rape Culture isn’t enough, I feel as though I should be doing more, but I don’t know what that is just yet.

Links:
~RAPE PREVENTION: COMBATTING THE MYTHS by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal

~What is Rape Culture? by Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre

~RAINN – The Criminal Justice System: Statistics

~Sexual Assault in the LGBT Community By Lauren Paulk

~Transgender Victoria – this is a service and community centre for transgender and gender diverse people in Victoria, Australia

~The Zoe Belle Gender Centre – a not-for-profit service centre for transgender and genderqueer Victorians.

~Genderqueer Australia – Information and networking for non-binary/genderqueer Australians

~Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria (ARCV) – Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria run a separate peer support group for transgender people in Melbourne

~Genderfork – an online community for the expression of identities across the gender spectrum.

~Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria

~Another Closet: Domestic & Family Violence and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer People (LGBTIQ)

~Is Your Service GLBT Friendly?

~Service Guideline for Gender Sensitivity and Safety

~Sexual violence and gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex, and queer communities by Bianca Fileborn

~Glossary of best practice terms from Teaching Tolerance

~Community Action Tool Kit for Addressing Intimate Partner Violence against Transgender people

~What is the legal process for rape cases in Australia?

~A rape victim’s story: Six months of assaults, five years in court

~Sexual assault: What action is being taken?

~Sexual assault: How common is it in Australia?

~When women rape by Andy Park

~5 Reasons Why Non-Traditional Rape Narratives Are Important by Sian Ferguson

~CASA Forum – Centres Against Sexual Assault Fact Sheet

~Let’s Talk About It! A Transgender Survivor’s Guide to Accessing Therapy

~30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege

~5+ Ways to Make Our World More Transgender-Friendly

~Bennett, Theodore — “No Man’s Land’: Non-binary Sex Identification in Australian Law and Policy” [2014]

~Overland: Transgender justice By Eliora Avraham

~25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture by Shannon Ridgway

~3 Ways My Parents Unintentionally Taught Me That My Consent Didn’t Matter by Anonymous

~4 Things We’re Not Saying When We Say ‘Rape Culture’ by Maisha Z. Johnson

~4 Ways the ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Attitude Harms the Men in Our Lives by Rachel Brandt

~These 14 Women Were Brutally Attacked for Rejecting Men — Why Aren’t We Talking About It? By Jenny Kutner

~Hare Psychopathy Checklist

~51 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

~50 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships

~23 Warning Signs of a Toxic Friend

~When You Realize a Relationship Is Toxic and It Needs to End

~A Cool Recovery Tool: It Helps You Act/Not React In A Toxic Relationship

~Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink

~These Black Artists Made T-Shirts to Remember Women Lost to Violence By Jamilah King

~Stop Telling Women To Smile

The Things We Don’t Talk About – Part 1

rape culture

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post will be discussing the following: Rape, Rape Culture, Sexual Assault and Child Molestation.

The Things We Don’t Talk About is going to be a series of blog-posts I’m going to be writing with the primary focus of Rape Culture and Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse Experiences, I will also be discussing my own experiences with Rape Culture, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault. Now, I have obtained the bulk of these Rape Culture Myths and Facts from The Blue Bench, however as the site is mostly orientated towards rape and sexual assault statistics in the United States of America, I’ll also be adding relevant Australian orientated information to the Myths and Facts.

The Blue Bench – What Is Sexual Assault?
Myths & Facts
There are many myths about sexual assault that are both commonly accepted and continuously perpetuated in today’s society. These myths and beliefs place blame on victims while minimizing the responsibility of the offender and the seriousness of the crime. As a result, victims of sexual assault are often left feeling isolated and ashamed without the support they need to begin to heal.

Understanding the facts and dispelling the myths surrounding sexual assault is crucial to ensuring that victims are treated with respect and receive the support and services they need.
MYTH: Sexual assault is often the result of miscommunication or a mistake.
FACT: Sexual assault is a crime, never simply a mistake. It does not occur due to a miscommunication between two people. Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact obtained without consent through the use of force, threat of force, intimidation, or coercion.

MYTH: Sexual assault won’t happen to me or to anyone I know.
FACT: Men, women and children of all ages, races, religions, and economic classes, and can be and have been, victims of sexual assault. Sexual assault occurs in rural areas, small towns and larger cities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a rape or attempted rape occurs every 5 minutes in the United States.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Anyone can experience sexual assault. 1 in 5 women in Australia will experience sexual assault at some time in their life. 7% of all people who experience sexual assault are adult men. While age is no barrier to experiencing sexual assault, women aged 15 to 24 years are most at risk.”

MYTH: Sexual assault is provoked by the victim’s actions, behaviors, or by the way they dress.
FACT: Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. Sexual assault is a violent attack on an individual, not a spontaneous crime of sexual passion. For a victim, it is a humiliating and degrading act. No one “asks” for or caused their assailant to commit a crime against them.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “If you have money in your pocket does that mean you want to be robbed? Research shows that sexual assault is not caused by the look or behaviour of the victim.” I also think the following two pictures illustrate my point perfectly:
Still-Not-Asking-for-it
Slut Walk Picture

MYTH: Most sexual assaults occur between strangers.
FACT: Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows: a neighbor, friend, acquaintance, co-worker, classmate, spouse, partner or ex-partner. Studies show that approximately 80% of women reporting sexual assaults knew their assailant.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Most know their attackers. In 70% of sexual assaults the offender is a family member, friend, work or school colleague. Of the remainder, the offender is usually someone the person meets socially or dates.”

In my own personal experiences of sexual abuse, I also knew all three people who sexually assaulted me, I went to primary school with one of them and we were often put in the same grade (so I was sometimes forced to interact with him everyday for a long period of time), so did my parents.

My parents were friends with a family through a church group, lets call them the Papa Family, they had a daughter (two years older than me), one son who was a year older than I and one son that was two years younger than me. I shall refer to the two members of the Papa Family as Charlie (daughter) and Mike (son).

Charlie and Mike sexually assaulted me and cohered me into sexual activities repeatedly, over an extended period of time, on separate occasions (they didn’t sexually abuse me at the same time is what I’m trying to clarify).

The other person who sexually abused me was Adrian (this is his real name, he’s dead now, so I can say what I like), an older man who was in his fifties, he was also a member of the church group my parents attended. While Adrian was a high functioning alcoholic for most of his life, he had joined the church group in a bid to obtain the help and support he needed (I never once met a member of his immediate family).

Both my parents knew this man, my father and him were close friends due to a mutual interest in carpentry, my mother had taken care of Adrian when he had become very seriously ill with pneumonia, they had known Adrian for years before he molested me, there was no reason to suspect him and therefore my parents had no problems with me and my younger sister spending long hours alone with him.

MYTH: Sexual assaults only occur in dark alleys and isolated areas.
FACT: A sexual assault can happen anywhere and at any time. The majority of assaults occur in places ordinarily thought to be safe, such as homes, cars and offices.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Most sexual assaults occur in the victim’s or perpetrator’s home, car or workplace. Sexual assault by a stranger accounts for less than 1% of sexual violence and an attack by a stranger in a dark place is even less common.”

In my personal experience, When Charlie (daughter) and Mike (son) sexually assaulted me or cohered me into sexual activities, these occurred in the Papa family’s residential home (usually via sleep overs but sometimes during the day, the key factor was witnesses not time). I believe the parents still live there, but I’m uncertain.

When Adrian molested me, we were at the Eltham Leisure Center, a swimming pool (with extra stuff like a spa and sauna), what I want to point out that it was a public space (with people constantly fluttering in and out) and it was in broad-daylight.

MYTH: Women falsely accuse men of sexual assault or “cry rape.”
FACT: Reported sexual assaults are true, with very few exceptions. FBI crime statistics indicate that only 2% of reported rapes are false. This is the same rate of false reporting as other major crime reports.

MYTH: Men don’t get sexually assaulted.
FACT: Men can be, and are, sexually assaulted. In Colorado one in seventeen men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Sexual assault of men is thought to be greatly under-reported. Any man can be sexually assaulted regardless of size, strength, sexual orientation, or appearance.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Yes, they do.”

MYTH: Most sexual assaults are interracial.
FACT: Almost all sexual assaults occur between members of the same race. Interracial rape is not common, but it does occur.

BR KYLE: In my own personal experience, all three of my abusers were white.

MYTH: People who commit sexual assaults are mentally ill, abnormal perverts.
FACT: Sexual offenders come from all educational, occupational, racial and cultural backgrounds. They are “ordinary” and “normal” individuals who sexually assault victims to assert power and control over them and inflict violence, humiliation and degradation.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Sex offenders look perfectly normal. They come from every class, profession, age and culture. They are not confined to any particular group or activity. They are usually ‘nice’ and social. This is how they establish trust and are then able to manipulate the person into a location where they can commit their act without interruption or witnesses.”

In my own experience, the sexual assault events took place when Charlie, Mike and I were all children. If you saw them in the street, you probably wouldn’t think their were capable of of molesting another child who was roughly the same age. Charlie (daughter) has hand a range of boyfriends and is now married and expecting a child/or has had a child (I don’t know, I try not to have anything to do with Charlie, Mike or their parents). Mike joined the army and I think he’s currently stationed in Darwin? (as I said, I don’t know, I try not to have contact with these people or their parents).

MYTH: Victims who do not fight back have not been sexually assaulted.
FACT: Anytime someone is forced to have sex against their will, they have been sexually assaulted, regardless of whether or not they fought back. There are many reasons why a victim might not physically fight their attacker including shock, fear, threats or the size and strength of the attacker.

BR KYLE: According to “Rape Prevention: Combating The Myths” by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal, “Studies have shown that in the majority of rapes, the perpetrator does not use force which
results in physical injuries (Green 1987; Weekley 1986). The threat of force and death and the intimidation inherent in gender stratification are sufficient.
In reality, many forms of covert coercion and force may be used in rapeIt is the victim’s fear of the assault and its outcome that render her passive, not compliant, and without consent. Since many victims of rape are also survivors of incest and other sexual abuse they may ‘shut down’ their emotions and bodies at the onset of a rape; they learned this ‘survival’ behaviour as children (LundbergLove & Geffner 1989).
Other women have been socialised not to be aggressive or assertive, and their comparative lack of physical strength may contribute to less of a willingness to fight back. Thus, female passivity is a quite common response to male violence.”.

This is a gendered approach to the situation and that’s super problematic because anyone can be raped. I couldn’t find a lot of Australian information or statistics on this particular topic, if anyone finds stats and/or information regarding this and wants to send me a link, please do so via the comments and I’ll add it.

Now, in my own experiences, not one of my abusers threatened me with physical violence, they verbally and emotionally threatened me should I try to expose them (golden child vs social pariah dichotomy is very popular amongst sexual predators, especially Priests within the Catholic Church). Adrian also made threats towards molesting my sister (apparently this is also common tactic amongst sexual predators) in order to keep me compliant. They didn’t need to beat me, their words were enough.

MYTH: A rape survivor will be battered, bruised, and hysterical.
FACT: Many rape survivors are not visibly injured. The threat of violence alone is often sufficient cause for a woman to submit to the rapist, to protect herself from physical harm. People react to crisis in different ways. The reaction may range from composure to anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and suicidal feelings.

BR KYLE: According to “Rape Prevention: Combating The Myths” by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal, “Unfortunately, this myth is still accepted by segments of the criminal justice system. The survivor who does not evidence injuries which she acquired through resistance becomes the incredible victim.
This image is a by-product of the previous myth which mandates physical force as an element of sexual assault. The reality is far different. Almost three-quarters of the victims in a Victorian sexual assault phone-in reported that ‘they felt an overwhelming sense of powerlessness’ (Corbett 1993, p. 136).
In addition, women have often been advised not to resist in order to minimise the likelihood of severe injury or death. Rape is the only criminal act which has required resistance to substantiate that a crime occurred.”

Like the previous statement, this a very gendered approach to the situation and therefore super problematic. I couldn’t find a lot of Australian information or statistics on this particular topic, if anyone finds stats and/or information regarding this and wants to send me a link, please do so via the comments and I’ll add it.

MYTH: “If you wouldn’t have been drinking, you wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted.”
FACT: Alcohol is a weapon that some perpetrators use to control their victim and render them helpless. As part of their plan, an assailant may encourage the victim to use alcohol, or identify an individual who is already drunk. Alcohol is not a cause of rape; it is only one of many tools that perpetrators use.

BR KYLE: In my own personal experience, when I was sexually assaulted and molested, I was either a child or under the age of sixteen, which would have made it difficult for me to be either drunk or access alcohol and/or drugs, my view is that alcohol and/or drug usage is irrelevant. Anyone can experience rape or sexual assault, regardless of whether or not they have consumed alcohol or drugs. Now, as I was molested by a man over the age of eighteen, Adrian could have bought alcohol on my behalf, this didn’t happen because, as I stated previously, he didn’t need to. I was sober when all of these events occurred. However, I don’t want readers thinking I’m invalidating someone else’s sexual assault or rape experience, if alcohol or drugs were used to assault you or someone you know, that experience is just as valid as mine. There’s more than one narrative.

MYTH: Serial rapists are uncommon.
FACT: Most every perpetrator is a serial rapist, meaning that they choose to use coercion, violence, threats of force, etc., to assault people on a repeated basis.

MYTH: When women say no, they really mean yes.
FACT: Yes means yes! When someone says yes, s/he or they are explicitly giving consent. Silence does not equal consent. It is the responsibility of the person initiating or escalating sexual activity to gain consent at each and every level. If you are ever unclear about your partner’s wishes, ask for clarification. If your partner says no or seems unsure, respect that person and her/his wishes.

BR KYLE: I think these videos says everything that needs to be said on this particular topic:

Also, as a child, I didn’t understand what was going on, what sex was or what even consent was. This is why you need to teach children from an early age about personal boundaries and consent. Most of the time, it did not occur to me to say no, because I didn’t know what was going on in the first place. It was years before I realised the full implications of what had happened (it also took me years to remember again). Adults see sex and consent as interconnected things (or at least they are supposed to), this is not always the case with children.

MYTH: If a person is aroused when he/she or they are assaulted, then it is not really sexual assault.
FACT: Orgasm does not mean that someone “enjoyed” the sex, or that they wanted it. Orgasm can be a natural biological reaction that someone can’t control; it does not mean that forced or coerced sexual activity was consensual and often this is used to silence the survivor.

BR KYLE: According to “Rape Prevention: Combating The Myths” by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal, “This myth is reinforced by certain stereotypes about male sexuality such as men’s alleged inability to control themselves if they are aroused. These are false images. Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is an act of violence which uses sex as a weapon. Rape is motivated by aggression and by the desire to exert power and humiliate.
Just as wife-battering had to be taken out of the privacy of the home and criminalised in order to effectuate any change, rape must be taken out of the sexual realm and placed where it rightfully belongs in the domain of violence against women. The latter view of rape as a sexual act is perhaps one of the most pervasive, enduring, and damaging myths; damaging since it contributes directly to another misunderstanding about the crime.”

I see where the author is coming from, but just as anyone can be raped, anyone can experience domestic violence. I think we need a more gender neutral approach here. However this is a big topic and I plan to tackle it separately in another blog post. I want it known that the “you came so you must have consented” myth is a complete load of bullshit, no statistics required.

MYTH: The reason that men get raped is because homosexual men are raping them, and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals rape more or are more likely to be sex offenders than heterosexuals.
FACT: There are no statistics that support the idea that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered individuals are more likely to commit sexual assault or be sex offenders than heterosexuals. In fact, sex offenders are disproportionately likely to be heterosexual men.

BR KYLE: The fact that this myth even exists deeply offends me and I will be going more into it in another blog post, however I want it known that my high school friend group consisted of mostly straight people with one gay guy and a few bisexual women. None of them ever made me feel uncomfortable in a sexual way, none of them ever tried to force themselves on me or tried to cohere me into doing something sexual that I didn’t want to do. They were my friends and they respected me and I respected them.

MYTH: It is ok to pressure or talk someone into sexual activity.
FACT: No! This falls into the category of coercion. Coercion is a tactic used to intimidate, trick or force someone to have sex with him or her without physical force.

Links:
~Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia – Myths and Facts

~Rape Prevention: Combating The Myths by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal

~Everyday Victim Blaming – Rape Culture: An Australian’s Perspective

~Everyday Victim Blaming: Blog Resources

~White Ribbon: Ten common myths and misconceptions

~Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone: #IBelieveHer Rape Myths 101: AKA Not My Nigel! *Trigger Warning*

~The Hunting Ground: Is there a rape culture on our campuses?

~5 Bizarre Realities of Being a Man Who Was Raped by a Woman

~Most Victims Are Men: 5 Realities Of Rape In The Military

~Raped On The Battlefield: What Male Veteran Survivors Know

~8 Ways the Legal System Screws Rape Victims (Like Me)

~Why I Kept My Rape By A Priest A Secret (And Can’t Anymore)

NaNoWriMo 2015: Novel Research and Preparation

nanowrimo1
Just a short post today as I noticed I hadn’t made a blog post for the entire month of September and I figured I had better fix that. Behold!

A History of Kirkby Stephen by Douglas Birkbeck

A History of Kirkby Stephen by Douglas Birkbeck

As I’ve previously mentioned, my step-father died in March 2015, however he was born and raised in a small village named Kirkby Stephen in the United Kingdom. Most of his family still live there with the exception of two siblings. As a form of tribute to him, the setting of my NaNoWriMo project for 2015 shall be the village of Kirkby Stephen. Now I suspect my main problem with this choice of setting is not just because I have never been there myself (I can use Google Maps) but because I’ve never left Australia at all. I have no experience with International travel. I don’t even own a passport (I should really fix that, perhaps I could use it as an excuse for novel research?).

My father works for QANTAS so I know I can ask him about the ins and outs of organising a flight from Melbourne Australia to I suppose Newcastle UK (which is weird for me because I have family that live in Newcastle Australia. Did you know that on every single continent there’s a city named Rome?). I mean, would an Australian flight even stop at Newcastle International Airport or would the flight plan be more likely to stop at Edinburgh International Airport? Scotland is like a four drive from Kirkby Stephen, which for an Australian is a difficult concept to think about (in Australia you can drive for six hours and still be in the same state).

However, those are small easily solved problems. The truth of the matter is that the reason I hesitate is because I’m scared about writing this. This is a real place with real live living people and there’s a chance those people will find out that I’ve written this and there’s a chance that people who know me (and I know them) will read this and judge me because well let’s face it, my novel isn’t going to be normal. I couldn’t do normal if I wanted to (and I don’t want to). Or worse, what if it is normal? And by normal, I mean incredibly boring. What if I put my everything into this and it’s just not good enough and/or no one likes it? Not even my mum because my mum has actually been to Kirkby Stephen and of course she’ll want to read it, then she’ll be all like, “I don’t understand why the main character has autism and why his best friend is a black lesbian” and not even in a “You’re evoking the black best friend cliché” kind of way.

While I’m aware that this all sounds very mundane and very much in the category of “First world problems”, however even when you have become accustomed to word-vomiting into The Great Ether-Abyss known as The Internet, regardless of whether you have a legion of fans or are getting minimal responses, the idea of someone you know reading your words, judging and weighing and finding you inadequate is sort of terrifying (where is my brown paper bag? Where is it?!). However, if anything, that fear of judgement, that fear of being held accountable for my own words (because they matter, they have always mattered) is the very reason why I must continue. As I have said before, an absence of fear does not equate to Bravery, Persistence in the face of Fear is.

Lets Do This!

Links:
NaNoWriMo – Website
NaNoWriMo – Blog

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