sex

Abuse: Deeper than Bruises

Hello, My name is Sarah and I have been a victim of an abusive relationship.

This is my story.

Before I share my story, I want to get us all on the same level.

Abuse is defined as the “cruel or violent treatment of a person (or animal) especially regularly/repeatedly.”

Abuse encompasses more than just physical violence, in fact there are 6 main forms of abuse that occur within violent relationships:

Physical 

Standing over you, getting “in your face,” blocking a doorway, grabbing you if you try to leave, kicking, punching, biting, slapping, choking, threatening to harm you, using weapons, throwing things, breaking things, punching walls or doors, driving recklessly, burning, cutting, pulling hair, stabbing, strangling, tying or confining you, preventing you from seeking medical care, murder.

Emotional

Insults, put downs, intimidating you, embarrassing you in public, talking down to you, not listening to or respecting your feelings, making threats, telling you you’re not “GLBTQ,” “man,” or “strong” enough, being jealous, possessive, controlling; excessive or threatening texts, wanting access to your messages, email, FaceBook/MySpace, spying, checking up on you, accusations of cheating, making you feel like you need to justify yourself, giving you no privacy, shaming you for your sexual orientation.

Verbal

Yelling, shouting, swearing, continuously arguing, interrupting, talking over you, put downs, using loud and threatening language and tone to cause fear, name calling, intimidating you, mocking you, abusive language.

Economic

Withholding money, opening up a joint account but you don’t have access, forcing you to leave your job, forcing you to get fired, shaming you for how you spend your money, not allowing you to work or get an education, putting all the bills/credit cards in your name, preventing you from using a car.

Mental

Playing mind games with you, twisting everything around so nothing is their fault and all of their behavior was caused by something you did or didn’t do, accusing you of doing things that they are doing, lying, manipulating you for control or sex, threatening to “out” you to parents, friends, classmates, distorting reality so you think you are losing your mind.

Sexual

Rape, unwanted sexual touching, vulgar comments, pressure for sex, forcing you to have unprotected sex, forcing you to get pregnant or to have an abortion, sexting, forcing you to have sex with other people or to watch your partner have sex with someone else, forcing you to use or participate in pornography.

ImageMy Story

In the summer of 2010, I met a guy at the summer camp where we worked. We hit it off and soon enough he asked me to be his girlfriend. He seemed like a great guy: funny, personable, charming. So of course I agreed.

That’s when it all started to go downhill.

It wasn’t too long before he started putting me down verbally. He would make comments about how I wasn’t “smart enough” to understand whatever it was he was talking about at the time. He would tell me to just “stop talking.” I didn’t really think anything of it…he was just being a guy right? Wrong.

From there he moved to my emotions, he would continue to make off handed comments about how my body wasn’t “hot”, “fit”, “attractive” and how he wished I looked more like celebrities like Megan Fox. So I started dieting. I lost about 20 pounds in 2 months. But even that wasn’t enough to make him happy.

The previous two behaviors continued for weeks…it became my new normal. I didn’t even realize that anything was amiss. Then things got worse that winter. He followed me upstairs at his parent’s house one day when they were out.  He proceeded to makeout with me. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but then he started making moves that I was not at all comfortable with. I kept saying “No. I don’t want to. Get off me. Stop.” Over and over and over again. That day he stopped.

Sometimes he would stop if I said “No.” enough times. Other times he wouldn’t.

Over time…there were times when I wouldn’t even protest. I felt like I was just an object. It didn’t matter what I did or said, I could just be used. He manipulated me into thinking that if I didn’t go along with it that I was a bad person. In my clouded head, I didn’t even realize that what was happening wasn’t normal and that it was incredibly unhealthy.

As a devout Christian, I also felt shamed, soiled, used, disgusting, violated and I felt like it was my fault for letting it happen over and over again. So I didn’t say anything to anyone. I pretended like everything was wonderful between us.

It wasn’t, but I was afraid of what he would do if I broke up with him. He was prone to violent outbursts when he was angry and I was legitimately scared that he would do something to me if I did.

So 2 years later with continued manipulation and abuse, I even agreed to marry him when he proposed.

About 3 months later though, he cheated on me. And in that hurt, I finally found the confidence to walk away. And even at that moment, I never even realized that our relationship had been abusive.

It took me a long time after we broke up to realize just how toxic our relationship was.

I knew that it was bad, sure, but I would never have said that he had abused me. It wasn’t until a psychologist explained to me the different kinds of abuse and that my situation fell within those bounds that I came to terms with it all.

Once I said the words: “I was in an abusive relationship.” I was able to start healing.

Healing took time. It took tears. But it happened.

I always have been a strong willed, independent woman and it scared me that even I could have so blindly been in an abusive situation. And the fact that I did, doesn’t make me any less of a person. It doesn’t make me weak or unworthy. It is an experience that I would never wish on anyone, but I am stronger for it.

Conclusion

I am now happily married to a wonderful man who is incredible and who loves me for me. I know this week’s post is a bit different than what I normally discuss, but my low self confidence in my own beauty was a huge factor in my situation, and I want to make sure that other women know the different forms abuse can take. Abuse doesn’t have a standard form that it takes, it’s unique to every relationship. However, there are common threads that I believe everyone should be aware of.

Thank you for reading my story.

You are a beautiful, strong, human being.

So stay smiling, beautiful! Happy looks great on you! (:

 

Advertisements

Blurring the Line: Sports Illustrated meets Barbie for the Cover

Can you believe that it’s been 50 years since the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?

No? Me either…but that doesn’t change the facts. In 1964 the first edition hit newsstands and ever since had sparked controversy concerning objectification of women, pornography, and other hot button issues. But this year, Sports Illustrated and Mattel either sank to new lows or soared to new heights depending on your personal convictions. Barbie will be the cover model, and in my opinion, both organizations have successfully and completely “blurred the line between women as objects and actual plastic objects.” (CNN)

We’ve all seen a Barbie doll, but just in case you’ve never seen the blonde bombshell, here she is on the cover of the magazine:

sports-illustrated-swimsuit-edition-2014-barbie-doll-377x500Her make up is flawless, her features completely exaggerated, her feet contorted to the form of permanent six inch heels.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition has long been criticized for only promoting “hypersexualized images of women” (Nicole Rodgers, editor-in-chief of RoleReboot.org)  and a homogenous form of beauty, emphasizing thin frames, little clothing, and leaving almost nothing to the imagination. But this pairing between the magazine and Mattel blurs the line still further. Rodgers argues it this way: “Barbie is not a woman, she’s an inanimate object. Juxtaposing her alongside real women as though the two are indistinguishable is dehumanizing, and in a literal sense, objectifying.”

But does any of this really matter? Are the little girls that are playing with Barbie actually influenced by her unrealistic portrayal of femininity? Some say no, but a growing body of research says yes.

Multiple studies over the past decade assert that play is an essential element in children learning who they are and how they fit in to their world. Point being that when they play with toys that portray an unrealistic sense of beauty, promote unrealistic values of femininity, and are generally distorted fabrications of reality, the children themselves are much more likely to experience low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.

It was this body of research and popular opinion that inspired Nickolay Lamm to create an image that portrayed Barbie, a doll with extremely unrealistic body proportions, next to a doll made with the proportions of an average 19 year old female in the United States. He wanted to challenge the notion that average is not beautiful and in challenging the status quo, he flipped it on its head.

normal barbie  This image is a representation of what Barbie would actually look like as an average 19 year old. When the internet rejoiced at Lamm’s creations, he took it a step further and began working to produce an actual doll. He created a crowdfunding site to get Lammily into production that has now raised $470,802 of the requested $95,000.

Lamm made a statement about his new Lammily doll: “[she] is an alternative to dolls with unrealistic beauty standards that dominate the market, like Barbie, or the hypersexualized Bratz dolls,” “My doll is a cool-looking doll that just happens to be average.”

lammily

Lammily is a wonderful beginning to what can hopefully be a new trend in children’s toys. While children themselves don’t care about what their toy looks like, as long it looks like fun, their parents do. Think of it this way, if your child doesn’t like vegetables are you just going to say “Ok, you never need to eat them.”?

Of course not! Vegetables are required for their growth and health, but you might try to disguise their cauliflower into their mashed potatoes. That’s what Lammily does. She’s a cool doll that provides a natural representation of beauty. Most likely, the girls playing with her won’t notice anything different about her than a Barbie, but most likely the girls self-esteem will be the better for it in the long run.

There has been some flack about Lammily; most notably that she is fit, white, and not all encompassing of racial diverstiy. Lamm has plans to release other dolls, “I’m hoping to extend the line to embrace diversity. From race to body type, I want this doll to be true to you!” (Lammily.com) Lamm does not promote that Lammily is the standard of normalcy, only stating that “average is beautiful.” As for Lammily’s fitness level, on the website he also asserts that Lammily promotes a healthy lifestyle and as a result of that lifestyle she has a fit body type. So, yes. Lammily is fit and white and she doesn’t encompass every single body type or race that exists today. However, there are plans to make more models that promote this diversity; and there is no denying that this is a step in the right direction.

As a woman living in the United States today, it is impossible to escape the hypersexualization of women from media to advertising to film to college campuses. The skirts keep getting shorter, the V-necks keep getting lower, the make-up keeps getting thicker, and overall — our level self-worth and self-confidence isn’t getting any higher. Thanks to big name companies that prey on the weaknesses of men and the sexiness of women like Sports Illustrated and Mattel, America has crossed into precarious territory. Their objectification of women took a step over the guardrail and now we’re dangerously close to the edge of accepting that women are like Barbies – plastic objects to be ogled and touched and undressed all while keeping our make up looking fabulous. 

Thanks to people standing up and calling for change like Nickolay Lamm, Stella Boonshoft, Lady Gaga, and many more there is still hope that women can be seen as humans again. We have the ability to affect change by instilling values into our daughters and sons that promote healthy body image.

Don’t sweat being average. Don’t sweat not being perfect.

None of us are.

Barbie isn’t a real woman.

Hell, those women in Sports Illustrated are only photoshopped manipulations of their former selves.

So be you.

Be normal (whatever that is).

Be who God created you to be.

Because, like Lammily’s slogan reminds us:

“Average is Beautiful.”

And so are you.

Stay Smiling, Beautiful (: Happy looks great on you.

 

Visit www.lammily.com/average-is-beautiful for purchase or more information on the Lammily doll