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This Monday, October 14, is designated as Columbus Day in America. It’s not okay. Christopher Columbus was a vile human, as evidenced by his own journals, the journals of his crew, and by general history.

Let me preface this blog by saying that I am an Italian-American (among other things), 1/4 Siciliana, but I do not play the game of supporting a heinous historical figure just because he’s from my part of the world. Not cool.

There was a man on a news program the other day vehemently defending Columbus, his basis being that he was Italian and Italians should be proud of their heritage. Um, excuse me, but why should any nationality be proud of its criminals? Again, not cool. Here are some valid reasons to not celebrate Columbus Day:

  • He did not prove the world was round nor did he discover America. That had already happened.
  • He enabled and encouraged rape of native women. From one of the journals of his crew: “While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful woman, whom the Lord Admiral [Columbus] gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked — as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought she had been brought up in a school for whores.” Sick. Disgusting. Reprehensible.
  • He opened the Atlantic slave trade by forcibly capturing approximately 1,500 Taino and attempted to bring them to Europe to offer them for sale. Many died on the way over, the rest were sold as slaves in Spain.
  • He ordered the torture and murder of natives. Natives were hunted for sport, fed to dogs, and punished in horrible ways for not being able to find gold.
  • He and his crew introduced widespread disease into the New World. 
  • His arrival was the beginning of the genocide of the Taino.

As with all history, we not only have to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly, but to designate which is which. Columbus definitely fits into the later two categories.

My suggestion? Instead of celebrating a rapist and murderer, why not celebrate Indigenous People Day? Or celebrate Bartolomè de las Casas, a Spaniard who devoted his life to helping the natives in the New World. Or just ignore Columbus Day. These are all good options.

This is a really good link if you want to learn more: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day

Peace.

 

 

 

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*Caution- This post contains information that is disturbing, especially for younger readers.  So why am I writing this? Because it’s time for responsible, decent, people to stand up and stop letting it happen, to stop shoving it away because it’s uncomfortable and ugly to talk about. Because children’s lives matter and we must protect them. We’re not. That’s why.

Each time I became a parent, I loved to watch my babies sleep. Their faces were so peaceful, so serene, so beautiful. I loved interacting with my children, talking to them, watching them as they discovered new things, their joy at sneezes, peek-a-boo, and snuggling. Their innocence is awesome, and in using that word, I mean it would literally fill me with awe. I marveled at how pure they were, unspoiled by the world, and it was bittersweet to realize that bit by bit, they would slowly lose that innocence as life happened to them. It’s supposed to be that way. Our brains grow and change, enabling us to handle more complex thoughts and emotions that take us into adulthood, leaving that childhood innocence behind to be a moment of nostalgia for our parents.

But there are children who lose their innocence much more quickly than they should. This has been focused on more by the news lately, especially where I live, but also on the national level. A child prostitution ring was just busted this week in the Detroit area involving nineteen children, the youngest of them only twelve years old, the same age as Youngest Child. Does Jarod from Subway ring a bell? The actor Stephen Collins? I don’t think that there is a week that goes by without a story in the news about some pimp or pedophile being caught at what he was doing. Yes, I said he. I realize that there are women who also abuse children, but the vast majority of child sex offenders are male. By the way, I absolutely detest the way people use the word “pimp” to compliment a man. A pimp is a filthy, heartless, money-grubbing person who sells women for sex and then takes their money. The word “pimp” is not a good thing. Please understand that and adjust accordingly.

Before you dismiss this blog content as something that doesn’t touch your life, think again. Perhaps you don’t know anyone who was forced to be a child prostitute, but read about this ugly statistic: You know at least two people, probably more, but at least two people who were molested as children. You may know their stories, you probably don’t, but statistics show that one out of about four girls and one out of about every six boys has been sexually abused before the age of 18, meaning that it’s much more common than most Americans think. (https://www.nsopw.gov/en/Education/FactsStatistics?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1) Most children never tell, not even as adults. That’s a sick, sick, sad, thing. Now think about this. You may also know someone who perpetuates this, either by actually being an offender or someone who knows what’s happening, yet does nothing to stop it. Eradicating the world of this disease is something that should be on the radar of any decent adult’s conscience. More on that in a bit.

Websites and chat rooms help these creeps connect. When the internet was invented, it was a huge bonus for their sick minds. It’s a big, anonymous playground, a place where they can bond and connect over their crimes through complicated servers. Millions of pictures and videos of children being abused are traded online every day, like baseball cards. Millions of children are physically sold online every day. Let me say that again. Millions of children are physically sold online every day, in India, Japan, Russia, China, Nepal, Malaysia, France, Germany, and almost every country in the world including the US. The sex trade doesn’t just encompass children in poor developing countries, it concerns the children next door, down the block, your on relatives. You just don’t know, so it’s really important to pay attention to the children in your life. Make yourself accessible to confide in and above all, BE PREPARED TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND CALL THE AUTHORITIES!!!

You see, abusers don’t broadcast what they’re doing. Mine didn’t. People were absolutely shocked when they found out what had been going on. That’s the way it usually works. When I told my 6th grade teacher the situation in a journal entry, she told me to talk to my mother, but never bothered to call the police. I’ll never know why she didn’t, but I still feel betrayed to this day. Children are helpless when it comes to this kind of thing. They need adults, they need YOU to step in the minute you understand that something is going on that shouldn’t be. You don’t have to confront the suspect, in fact, you probably shouldn’t. It’s very easy: Call the authorities. You don’t need a fancy phone number or website to report abuse. You can, if you want to, of course, but 911 works, too. Be that hero that a child needs and get them help. End their nightmare.

Another thing that we need to do, as the responsible adults we should be, is to not only raise our kids right, but to also be a good example for them. We need to teach our kids that no means no. We need to teach our boys that girls are not to be objectified, but to be respected as the equals they are. We need to teach our girls to not let anyone mistreat them. We need to teach our kids, boys and girls, about sex, real sex, not the kind that they can find online for free. We need to teach them that sex is about trust, intimacy, and love, and that they have the right to say no at any time. We must teach them that no one has the right to touch them in ways that are uncomfortable and that if someone does touch them, they are not to blame. We need to teach them that they must never be afraid to come to us with any scary situation, and that we will believe them, even if the person that touched them inappropriately is a beloved family member, family friend, clergy, or teacher. They need to know that they can trust us, that we will help them no matter what, and that they are important and loved.

What kind of a sick mind uses a child for sexual purposes? What sort of person knowingly destroys a child’s life for their own sick appetite? Pedophilia is a real psychiatric condition, one for which there is no cure. Control is another issue for many abusers. Do I feel sorry for these people? I feel sorry for someone who has the urges that they do, but my compassion takes a serious hit once they victimize a child through pornography or any other means. There is no excuse to abuse another person, none whatsoever. I have no answers, so I leave them to the psychiatrists. And God’s judgment. This is where I have trouble controlling hatred.

I also don’t have a lot of sympathy for adults who know that a family member or other loved one is viewing child porn or is actually abusing a child. For whatever reason, ignoring the fact that someone is sexually abusing children is selfish and wrong on so many levels. It’s never okay to not help a child. An abused child will suffer the effects for the rest of his or her life. Take it from one who knows. Adult survivors are more likely to suffer depression, low self-esteem, are more likely to abuse drugs and/or alcohol, and are more likely to attempt suicide, especially if they never told anyone about the abuse or if their abuser was never caught. If you know someone who participates in child pornography, you need to pick up that phone right now and end it. Every child in those photos has been abused and if you don’t turn them in, it’s on your hands, too. Do the right thing.

I don’t mean to be a downer, and abuse against children has, unfortunately, always existed. But I hear about it almost every single day and I’ve had enough. Enough of hearing about girls being raped on their way to school in Detroit. Enough of seeing teenage boys tearfully recount their victimizations as children. Enough of high-profile citizens trying to hide behind celebrity and money to cover their crimes. Enough of seeing pictures of little girls in brothels in other countries, who are the same age as my 3rd graders, being interviewed in magazines about the life they’re forced to lead. For the love of God, and I don’t take His name lightly, ENOUGH! We must stand up, we must fight against this evil. If these realities don’t make you sick, I don’t know what will.

Do the right thing. Let our children lose their innocence naturally and gradually, the way they are supposed to, not through the hands, or computer, of a pervert. Again: do the right thing.

If you are being abused or know of someone being abused, please call 911 or your local police department. If you need help, message me. I will support you.

Amen

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