Archive | August, 2011

The Lure of Abuse: Why Sammi Giancola of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” is Heading for Destruction

31 Aug

” ‘Jersey Shore’ ? Why would anyone talk about that show on a blog about surviving rape?”

Okay, I admit – I’m addicted to MTV’s reality breakout hit show “Jersey Shore”. I know it’s not the most intelligent programming to be a fan of, but my excuse is I’m still kind of young, single, and just like watching the scene of an accident from the comfort of your car as traffic control police urge you to drive past the damage, with “Jersey Shore” it’s hard to look away. :-p

From an entirely different angle, I’m dedicating myself to speaking out against abuse of any kind. Rape is the focus of my blog because I feel that the topic of rape doesn’t get the amount of attention it needs to be taken as seriously as other crimes that are just as terrible. But I think that any conversation about physical, sexual, emotional, spousal, domestic, elderly, child, or verbal abuse is worthwhile on this blog, too.

Please click away now if you can’t stand “Jersey Shore” … I won’t hold it against you!

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"Jersey Shore" Sammi Giancola and Ronnie Ortiz-Magro (courtesy of DeviantTattooGirls.blogspot.com)

Messing With A Good Thing

Season 4 began with the infamous house couple Ronnie and Sammi broken up, freshly single, and heading from the Jersey Shore to party in Florence, Italy. And really, they should have stayed that way. Ronnie seemed to want to drop Sammi for good, and Sammi was making a lot of commentary about working on herself and just wanting to have a good time. Their relationship was simply too volatile to work. They alienated a lot of fans in season 3 with all of their bullsh – I mean, arguing. I kind of like Sammi (even with her ‘smelling doo-doo’ facial expression and grating voice and being way too into herself and her looks) and wanted to see her better off this season.

But they got back together in episode 3 while viewers around the world screamed a collective “NOOOOOOO!!!”

A preview for episode 4 showed what looked like another classic “Rammi” blowout. The episode aired last week and confirmed that we’re probably in for another season of intervention-worthy fighting. Drunk Sammi spilled out her fears of Ronnie cheating again, causing a brawl between Ron and Mike ‘The Situation’ when she named Mike as the one who informed her about Ron’s desire to hook up with 5 girls in one night. Episode 5 airs in my neighborhood tomorrow, and although I don’t know what happens to Mike yet (looks like the guy may have flat-lined thanks to Ronnie), I’m pretty sure of one thing: Sammi has to get the hell out of this relationship before Ronnie kills her.

More drama (courtesy of BSideBlog.com)

HelpGuide.org has a list of questions to ask yourself if you’re worried that you might be in an abusive relationship., and Sammi and Ronnie’s relationship answers positively to most of them, including:

Does your partner (Ronnie):

  • humiliate or yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • blame you for their own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • destroy your belongings?

Do you (Sammi):

  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?

What’s changed since they got back together? Nothing. But what is kind of stunning and at the same time sad is, Sammi came into season 4 looking dead serious about moving on from the hell that was “Rammi” Season 3. Unlike her previous appearances, Sammi stayed out of bed – all day! – and interacted with the rest of the cast in the house, and stayed away from Ron. It was obvious that it was hard for her and she admitted to missing his company (who would find it easy to live with their ex just after a break-up?), but Sammi never initiated any contact with Ron … unless she was drunk. She told the cameras that she knew how destructive their relationship was for the both of them, but in the heat of a packed nightclub with a few cocktails tossed back to blur her vision and her judgment, watching the only guy she had feelings for – however dangerous – getting close to other girls had to make her terribly alone. Being lonely is probably why Sammi decided to take Ronnie back just one more time, even though she had to basically pretend that everything that had ever gone wrong in their relationship was her fault, and ignore the fact that Ronnie once broke her reading glasses just to hurt her.

“He beats her but she stays, so she must love it.”

Sammi’s case is also an example of how hard it is to motivate yourself to get out of an abusive situation. When you live with someone that’s abusing you, you’re in contact with that person constantly. That’s a huge amount of opportunity to get inside your head, twist your thinking, and have you depending on your abuser for sanity. It’s easy to grow to feel like, if you can somehow convince your abuser of not wanting to harm you anymore, you’ll be justified in thinking you’re worth anything better. After all, your abuser is someone who is supposed to love you by the sheer nature of your relationship to him or her – because he or she is your parent, your relative, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your spouse. If he or she can’t see anything in you that’s worth loving and protecting, why should anyone else be able to? Right?

No.

Sammi will never read this blog, but I really believe she’s a combination of low self-worth and bad friends and family, who doesn’t deserve all the hate she gets for being an idiot. Run, Sammi, run! After all, this wasn’t too long ago:

Season 3 in a nutshell (courtesy of Crushable.com)

My Mother Hates Me … and I’m Okay With It

30 Aug
yelling

Mom yelling (courtesy of DisciplineProject.com)

You may have already read about the first and second time I was raped, and the nightmare that followed. In the past I’ve also mentioned that I was once a victim of emotional and physical abuse. Today I wonder if that set the tone for life as an adult punching bag, especially after I read the news story of a mother who tried to hide rape in her family by taking her pregnant mentally disabled daughter to get an abortion.

My Family

I’ve always felt there was something “not right” about my relationship with my mother. I didn’t think about the relationship I had with my father as much, because … well, there was no relationship. My parents divorced when I was four years old and my brother was two, and since then I can count the number of times I’ve seen him on one hand. I remember enough of him from back then to know that he was physically abusive towards my mother – apart from the stories my mother tells me about him, I recall him driving her out to a bridge one night trying to get her to commit suicide, and perforating one of her eardrums during a row. My mother moved my brother and I away from him, and remarried shortly after when I was about seven. This is where most of my memories start.

I was lucky to have a stepfather that took my brother and I as his own children and loved us accordingly. But there was never anything other than pure hatred from my mother. Growing up she made my brother and I feel as though we were meant to apologize for the biological father that we had by frightening us with stories of what he did to her in graphic detail, whether we wanted to hear them or not (and it was 99.9% of the time, an emphatic not). She insulted and teased us for inheriting most of our father’s physical traits, trying to make us feel ugly and barbaric. When we brought any school grade below an A+ home to show, we were called “stupid”, “retarded” – but I can’t think of any one time when we were rewarded for an achievement.

She finally had two children by my stepfather, and from then on we would hear nonstop about us being the throwaways. Sometimes she would hit us, but it was rare (I think, because it was so terrible and my stepfather wouldn’t stand for it). I’ve been struck with a table lamp. I’ve been told several times that she’d kill me. But what made me fear her the most was her cold, indifferent and hateful stare. I got the stare whenever I cried, whenever I screamed, whenever I was sick, or whenever I looked directly at her. I saw it was the day she kicked me out of her house, less than a week after my stepfather died of terminal cancer 4 years ago.

And I kept going back to her with my tail between my legs, because I didn’t trust myself to be independent – to be anything other than what my mother thought of me.

The lights in my head turned on only after I tried to go home one last time, when I was laughed out of my church community and cast away by the criminal justice system in a city of supposed ‘new beginnings’. I hoped that if I told my family about what had happened to me, my mother would welcome me back with tears in her eyes. Instead she ranted and raved to my siblings about how much of a failure I was, while I sat in her living room crying. I picked up my suitcase and left.

Emotionally Abusive Parents

Eqi.org gives some common characteristics of emotionally abusive parents that help to paint a clearer picture of what such caretakers are like:

Each parent was emotionally abused by their parents. There is a high chance they were also physically abused or physically punished harshly, even if it was called “discipline”

The parents lay guilt trips on their children and teenagers.

The parents make their children and teens feel responsible for the feelings of the parents.

The parents invalidate their children and teens.

The parents are unforgiving.

The parents are judgmental.

The parents frequently disapprove of the child or teen’s actions or feelings.

The parents emotionally abandon and or emotionally neglect their children and teens.

They may also:

– Ridicule the child or teen

– Mock the child or teen

– Humiliate the child or teen

– Ignore the child or teen

– Threaten the child or teen either with punishment, rejection or abandonment

And from Deal.org, I found this definition:

“Emotional abuse is commonly defined as the systematic tearing down of another human being. Like most forms of violence, emotional abuse is based on power and control over another person. It is probably the least understood of abuses, although it is the most prevalent and most destructive. The victim comes to see him or herself as unworthy of love, affection and respect. “

which sounds eerily similar to what rape and sexual abuse do to a person.

Accept That You’re Innocent

Knowing this today helps me to feel a bit better about letting my parents go. Being raped or sexually abused is never the victim’s fault, and neither is being born to parents who are incapable of or simply refuse to love their children appropriately. The blame belongs to the rapist, the molester, and the deadbeat father or mother. Society may try to blame you for being the victim of either situation, by saying you were “fast” or “tempting with that outfit”, or by saying that “no parent hates their child” and you’re “just a brat”. You weren’t any of those things. You were simply targeted.

When Parents Prime Their Children For Abuse

29 Aug

If you took a look at your local newspaper this morning (especially if you live in the state of Ohio) or read some of the Google headlines today, you might have come across this article at LifeNews.com: “Mom Uses Abortion to Hide Rape of Mentally Disabled Daughter”

Here are some of the most poignant quotes from the story:

A Houston, Texas mother stands accused of taking her adopted mentally disabled daughter to Ohio to get an abortion in an effort to conceal the fact that her son raped her daughter.

According to a KTRK-TV report, Cynthia Greenwood, 50 faces charges of tampering and fabricating evidence because she took her daughter for the abortion after police began investigating the alleged rape. Officials tell the ABC television station that they believe Greenwood took her mentally disabled girls to Cleveland, Ohio for the abortion in an effort to conceal DNA evidence that could have otherwise been obtained to prove the rape charges.

Isaac Greenwood, 19, is reportedly the father of the baby. He is Cynthia green’s biological son and is suspected of raping the unnamed daughter, who is 13 now and was 12-years-old at the time of the rape. Officials say she told her father about what happened and she is now in foster care.

The article goes on to comment on the problem Ohio reportedly has with a number of its Planned Parenthood centers performing abortions on young victims who are made pregnant by their assault, and hiding these crimes from the criminal justice system. Gross negligence by companies which claim to care for the vulnerable sector of society is disgusting enough, but I’ll leave that topic alone for today.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse turns my stomach so much because it usually is a violation of a person’s trust by someone he or she knows in a position of power over the victim. Sexual abuse frequently happens at the hands of a spouse, older sibling, relative, neighbor, friend, friend’s parent, teacher, mentor … the list goes on. It does happen and it shouldn’t be overlooked, but sexual abuse from a stranger is rare simply because the molester doesn’t get the opportunity to come in contact with his or her victim more than a few times. When the violation happens once or for a very short period of time – say, over a few days before the molester disappears from contact forever – it’s called a sexual assault rather than sexual abuse.

Here is a case of the most common kind of sexual abuse: abuse that happens within a family. If the allegations turn out to be true (and really, why would a 12-year-old girl lie about something so horrendous?), then a mother decided to protect her deviant son from facing the consequences of the crime he committed against his younger sister, rather than protect her innocent daughter from a life-changing nightmare. Her actions made it clear that she valued her daughter’s safety less than she valued their family’s image. She was willing to put her young, mentally disabled daughter, her own flesh and blood, through the additional trauma of enduring an abortion on top of the abuse she had suffered, just to protect her own neck and her deviant son’s. And the article mentions that the girl first told her father about the abuse, if I read it correctly. Why didn’t he stop this from happening?

Parents who can’t be trusted

Parents are the first set of adults a child learns to model themselves after, and they are the ones who are responsible for teaching their children how to function in the world when they grow up. If a child grows up without being able to trust their parents for basic needs such as safety and love, where is he or she supposed to find the foundation to build a normal life on as an adult? Now this poor girl may be psychologically damaged for life, and God forbid find herself in more abusive situations as an adult, all because that was what she learned was normal growing up. I really pray she will find a foster home with caretakers who are able and willing to care for her the way her birth parents should have, but refused to do for their daughter.

I have a personal beef with people who have children and choose not to love them, in addition to the beef I have with people who rape. Tomorrow’s post may be a good opportunity to explain why I feel the way I do about lousy parents.

Does God Care About A Rape Victim?

25 Aug

Here is a place where you’re allowed to be angry, hopeful, triumphant.

After doing a series on famous people who have lived through rape (read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 here if you’re interested), I wasn’t planning to write anything depressing as my next post, but today I was hit by a nasty wave of depression. Have you ever had a day where everything suddenly feels hopeless and futile? The kind where you find yourself crying so hard that you can’t talk, your thoughts are dark, and every bone in your body aches from the pain of just existing? That’s the kind of depression I’m feeling. To pretend like it’s anything else would be dishonest of me.

"Footprints in the Sand"

After my second rape and the psychological aftermath, I’ve found that I spend a lot of time questioning why I’m alive, and also where God is in all of it. If you know my story, you might remember that I once was a religious Christian. I grew up Catholic and went to church with my family every Sunday, and I was the kind of kid that loved the idea of a great fatherly spirit watching over me – maybe because I grew up in an unloving household. I always believed that God was my only guaranteed friend, and when I became an adult and decided that the Catholic faith wasn’t for me, I still wanted to be part of a church and still wanted to know how to be closer to Him. I wasn’t “Cathy Christian” at all, I mean, I still sinned like everybody else. But I tried to live by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments and was introduced to a church that I thought supported those beliefs. That was where I met N, the man who raped me last year and pretty much destroyed my public reputation and life.

I don’t understand why God would allow so many miserable things to happen to me, all in such a short span of time. I’m trying to file a lawsuit against N for personal injury with the evidence I’m still holding, but I’m frustrated because although I’ve contacted a handful of lawyers this week looking for representation, I haven’t heard from anyone. I still remember what it felt like to have the district prosecutor’s office call me in July and tell me that my case wasn’t worth pursuing, even though the recorded confession that I had from N was what got the prosecution to take the case in the first place. What will I do if no lawyer wants to represent me even for a civil charge? I don’t even want to imagine being cast aside again. I don’t think I can bear that agony again.

But that’s what happens to so many rape victims around the world, and also sexual abuse victims, incest victims, victims who were molested … they never get justice. According to RAINN – the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network founded by alternative rock singer Tori Amos – 15 out of every 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail. Of the estimated 39% of attacks that are reported to the police, only 16.3% of those reports lead to a jail sentence for a rapist.

Isn’t God keeping track of all of this?

I was taught that God is all-seeing and all-powerful, and that even though He doesn’t just hand out blessings and happiness like a spiritual Santa Claus, He is a God of justice and mercy. It was hard for me to see where some atheists and unbelievers are coming from until very recently. I don’t mean to give the impression that I’m trying to convince anyone reading of being for or against any religion – I believe in religious tolerance even if I am/was a Christian. But now I can’t decide what I believe anymore, and I feel rather betrayed at times for trusting God. I’ve stopped going to the church where N and Pastor D are, and haven’t really felt the need to look for another church of any kind. I don’t pray that much anymore, just sort of argue with God and cry – it feels like I’m really talking to myself. It’s like, what is the point of all this suffering? To teach me a lesson in how to absorb pain? Why does God deny justice to the family of a 4-year-old child that’s molested and murdered by a psycho caretaker? Why does God allow the courts to throw out complaint after complaint and devastate so many victims trying to seek help from the legal system? Should anyone look at the example life of a suffering or paralyzed victim and be excited to believe in God?

Today I really don’t know what to think, but I’m welcoming any and all feedback. I know somebody out there can help me find some clarity.

Famous Survivors of Rape: Part 4

23 Aug

This is the final post of a 4-part series that began last week. Click the link if you would like read about Ashley Judd, Billie Holiday, Connie Francis, Fiona Apple, and Fran Drescher, here if you would like to read about Joyce Meyer, Kelly McGillis, Mackenzie Phillips, Marilyn van Derbur Atler, and Mary J. Blige, or here if you would like to read about Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Pamela Anderson, Queen Latifah, and Rita Hayworth. I’ve also done posts on Gabrielle Union and Fantasia Barrino that may interest you!

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Here is the last set of 5 rape survivors you may (or may not!) already know about:

Sandra Dee (April 23, 1942 – February 20, 2005)

Sandra DeeThe American child actress of the ’50s was most famous for her starring role in the movie Gidget and her marriage to heartthrob singer and actor Bobby Darin (also once famously involved with Connie Francis). But Sandra grew up confused by the trappings of life as a performer (her modeling and acting career began at the tender age of 2), and later when her mother remarried to real estate developer Eugene Douvan after divorcing Sandra’s father, she was forced into sexual intercourse with her stepfather from the age of 5 until Douvan’s death when Sandra was 12. In an 1991 interview, several years after her career ended and she had married and had a son, Sandra recalled:

“Gene didn’t molest me only in the mornings, but during the day, the night, whenever he wanted to and there was an opportunity. “He’d say, ‘Let’s snuggle’, and I never fought back – I was too small. Too young. “

Teri Hatcher

Teri HatcherToday the 46-year-old actress is most recognizable as ‘Susan Mayer’ from the primetime hit series Desperate Housewives, but Teri first got her start as a showgirl, model, and star as Lois Lane to Superman’s Clark Kent in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Once upon a time she was also the most frequently Google-d woman on the Internet! In May 2006 Teri first revealed to Vanity Fair magazine that she had been a child victim of incest at the hands of her uncle-in-law, Richard Hays Stone. He would take her on car rides under the guise of going to pick up her cousins from school and molest her in seclusion, graduating to rape when she was 7. Teri wasn’t able to tell the rest of her family about her pain until she heard about a 14-year-old girl from Santa Clara County, California, who committed suicide and left a note implicating Teri’s uncle as the man who had molested her. In 2002 Teri helped prosecutors convict Richard Hays Stone of his crimes by telling her story in court, and she is a vocal advocate for sexual abuse victims today.

Tim Roth

Tim RothHe was born in Dulwich, London, England, but the 50-year-old English actor’s most notable roles are in the American films Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Planet of the Apes, and his hit television show Lie To Me, for which Tim won a People’s Choice Award in 2011. Growing up, he was a victim of incest, as he said in an interview with The Daily Mail:

“It happened during my childhood up to my early teens and although I’m not going to say who it was, he’s long gone now – and I hasten to add it wasn’t my father or mother. Things happen to you in your life, but you don’t want to consider yourself to be a victim – you want to be a survivor and the first thing that helps you do that and helps you get through it is speaking and finding your voice. I’d been wanting to direct a film for years and told my agent to start looking for a script. The first one that came through the door was the one for The War Zone. If you are a survivor of abuse and you get the opportunity to tell a story about that subject, then you can really get in there and tell the truth. It was a fantastic chance for me to exorcise a lot of demons. I’m very proud of the film and proud of the fact that it’s even been used as a teaching tool.”

Tori Amos
Tori AmosShe was a piano-playing child prodigy from the age of 2, and after a highly successful career as an alternative rock singer, songwriter, and composer in the 1990s, 48-year-old Tori Amos is one of the top live acts of all time according to Rolling Stone magazine. She was nominated for 8 Grammy Awards and has sold over 12 million albums across the world. But just before her rock career began, Tori was raped by a fan who approached her on her way home after performing in a local bar, and kept the horror of what she had experienced deep inside her memory for years before she wrote the song Me and a Gun, which tells her story. Her song made such a great impact with fans that Tori reached out to do more, and created RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) – the only nationwide-available toll-free hotline for rape and sexual abuse survivors in America. She is still a supporter of the organization to this day!

Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry When he dons a woman suit and totes a rifle as the wild matriarch character ‘Madea’ from his well-known plays and films, Tyler Perry is almost unrecognizable as a 41-year-old actor, director, playwright, screenwriter and producer who ranks as the 6th-highest paid actor in Hollywood by Forbes magazine. He’s friends with stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and Janet Jackson, and worked with stars such as Gabrielle Union, Idris Elba, and Whoopi Goldberg, to name a few. He’s been outspoken about once being homeless, his abusive father, and Tyler has also shared his story of rape with the world. The mother of one of his childhood friend’s would lock Tyler into a room with her in her house and refuse to let him free or give him the key to let himself out unless he would allow her to have sex with him. His movies may be obnoxious to some, entertaining to others, and downright offensive to many more, but say what you will about Tyler Perry – he’s pulled himself out of a history of horrors.

There are so many people in the world to draw hope from, survivors who have been brave and willing to share their stories and sympathize with you. Who inspires you most?

Famous Survivors of Rape: Part 3

19 Aug

This is a continuation of the 4-part series that began on Monday. Click the link if you would like read about Ashley Judd, Billie Holiday, Connie Francis, Fiona Apple, and Fran Drescher, or here if you would like to read about Joyce Meyer, Kelly McGillis, Mackenzie Phillips, Marilyn van Derbur Atler, and Mary J. Blige. I’ve also done posts on Gabrielle Union and Fantasia Barrino that may interest you!

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Here’s 5 more rape survivors you may (or may not!) already know about:

Maya Angelou

Maya AngelouThe 83-year-old renowned poet is also the author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which is given in many American high schools as required reading for students. She also holds more than 30 honorary degrees and is a Pulitzer Prize nominee, as well as the recipient of 3 Grammy Awards for her spoken word albums. Maya was 3 years old when her parents divorced, and lived under the sole care of her mother from the age of 7 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother’s then boyfriend, a man named Freeman, raped Maya when she was 8, and she found the courage to tell her older brother, who told the rest of their family members. Freeman was found guilty in court, jailed for one day, and four days later was found beaten to death, which filled young Maya with so much guilt that she didn’t speak again for almost 5 years afterward. But today her voice is heard around the world as one of inspiration!

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah WinfreyEasily the most influential woman in the world, 57-year-old Oprah Winfrey (actually born with the name “Orpah”, named after a character in the Bible’s Book of Ruth) is a former American television host, the owner of her own television network and countless programs, an actress, a producer, and a philanthropist – and she’s also the wealthiest woman of the 20th century.

At the age of 6, Oprah and her single mother Vernita Lee moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but spent much of her time alone while her mother worked long hours to support their family. She was constantly molested by her uncle and a family friend, and when she was 9 a 19-year-old male cousin began to rape Oprah, forcing her to run away from home  once when she was 13. She never dared to tell anyone about the abuse she had suffered until she confessed everything to her family more than 10 years later, but nobody believed her story or even acknowledged her suffering … until she got her own talk show.

Pamela Anderson

Pamela AndersonThe 44-year-old actress-model is most famous for her starring role in the ’90s hit show Baywatch, her stint as Playmate of the Month for Playboy magazine’s February 1990 issue, and her marriages to Motley Crue’s lead singer Tommy Lee and rock singer Kid Rock. Before she was famous, as a teenager growing up in Canada, Pamela was raped twice. She once said in an interview that:

“My first experience with sex was non-consensual. The guy ran around in a panic afterwards saying ‘What have I done, what have I done’. Looking back it was awful. I felt like everyone knew that I had had sex, like it was tattooed on my forehead.”

In the same interview with Jane magazine, she told the story of her second assault:

“I started growing breasts, discovered make-up and had my clothes ripped off by a crazy abusive guy I was dating who locked me outside my house naked. I’ve been naked ever since.”

Queen Latifah

Queen LatifahToday she glows at 41 years of age, is a former singer and rapper turned into a successful Hollywood actress, and she’s a spokeswoman for CoverGirl cosmetics. Queen Latifah is also the recipient of a Golden Globe award, 2 Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, 2 Image Awards, a Grammy Award, and several nominations for Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Awards. But about a year ago she opened up to Essence magazine about the sexual abuse she suffered when she was a little girl. In the care of a babysitter, Queen Latifah (then a young Dana Elaine Owens) was raped. She said to Essence:

“He violated me. I never told anybody. I just buried it as deeply as I could and kept people at an arms length. I never really let a person get too close to me. I could have been married years ago, but I had a commitment issue.”

 

Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987)

Rita HayworthThe late American film actress and dancer was one of the greatest names of her time. Her cute and innocent image was made famous as a pin-up photo, and she worked with other Hollywood greats such as Fred Astaire and was once married to Orson Welles and Prince Aly Khan. She was tutored as a dancer by her father Eduardo, but traveling across the country as a young performing girl with her mother Volga far away at home, her father saw the opportunity to abuse Rita. Eduardo often beat his 10-year-old daughter into submission, slammed her into walls, and began to rape her as often as twice a day. Rita was confused and believed that their relationship of incest was normal for a father and daughter. It wasn’t until many years later when Rita told her husband Orson Welles about her abuse, that she began to see the truth for what it really was.

 

The final part of the series will be posted Monday, and this time you’ll get to read the stories of a few male rape survivors. Come back for more inspiration!  

Famous Survivors of Rape: Part 2

18 Aug

This is a continuation of the 4-part series that began on Monday. Click the link if you would like read about Ashley Judd, Billie Holiday, Connie Francis, Fiona Apple, and Fran Drescher. Sorry for the delay, everyone! It’s been a busy week for me, but I appreciate you hanging in there :).

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Here are 5 more famous rape survivors you may (or may not!) already know about:

Joyce Meyer

Joyce MeyerThe 68-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri is a world famous Christian author and speaker. Her televangelist program Enjoying Everyday Life is shown and heard in 200 countries around the world, and she has written more than 90 books on self-help and Christian life improvement topics. Before her ministry began, as a young girl Joyce was raped continually by her father (more than 200 times!), and grew up believing that she would never amount to anything. She’s said in interviews:

“Because I was raised in an abusive environment, I married the first guy that came along out of fear. I was afraid that no one would want me and I would end up alone. Fear makes you desperate and I know many women marry the wrong guy out of fear. He left me to go and stay with another woman and I was pregnant at the time. He was claiming that the baby wasn’t his. I left the marriage and the girl who did my hair took me in because I had nowhere to stay and I couldn’t go to work anymore. All these things happened to me – but I am still here.”

Kelly McGillis

Kelly McGillisRemember the pretty leading lady from the 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun? Well, today she’s 54 and no longer acting, but happily married to her lesbian partner of more than 10 years. However, Kelly made headlines as one of the first actresses in Hollywood ever to go public with her story of rape. Before she landed her role in Top Gun, Kelly was studying drama at Juilliard School in Manhattan when, one day, her apartment was broken into by 2 teenaged boys. She and her then girlfriend were gagged and bound, beaten and raped, and Kelly was interviewed as saying that she long believed God had punished her for secretly being a lesbian. One of her attackers, a 15-year-old boy named Leroy Johnson, was caught and sent to jail for 3 years after confessing to the rape. She went on to play a rape advocate in the movie The Accuser.

 

Mackenzie Phillips

Mackenzie Phillips 51-year-old Mackenzie is best known for acting in the movie American Graffiti, the TV sitcom One Day at a Time, and for being the daughter of John Phillips, a singer behind The Mamas & the Papas. She shocked her fans in 2009 during an interview with Oprah Winfrey when she accused her father of introducing her to (and encouraging) a drug habit, and beginning to rape Mackenzie from the age of 19. Mackenzie told her family members, but only her half-sister, singer Chynna Phillips, believed her claim. Mackenzie has been denounced by the rest of her family, even though Jessica Woods, the daughter of Denny Doherty (another singer from The Mamas & the Papas) publicly stated that her father knew about the incest.

Marilyn van Derbur Atler

Marilyn van Derbur AtlerShe won the title of the 1958 Miss America pageant. Today the 74-year-old beauty is an author and founder of the American Coalition for Abuse Awareness, as well as One Voice. As a youth, Marilyn was raped repeatedly by her father, the millionaire socialite Francis S. van Derbur, but suppressed the pain of her assaults until she was 24. She spoke of suffering from anxiety, physical paralysis, and depression throughout her life in an interview with People magazine, and described facing her father with the truth:

“After seeing a psychiatrist, I decided I had to talk to my father. When I went to him at his house, I started by saying that it was the most difficult thing I had ever done. He said, ‘Just a minute,’ and climbed the winding staircase, two steps at a time to the second floor. I didn’t hear a toilet flush or a phone call being made, and when he came back, I knew instinctively that he had a gun. He had always kept them around the house. I talked for almost 20 minutes, and my father didn’t deny anything. He said, ‘If I had known what this would do to you, I never would have done it.’ I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now. After our conversation, he pulled out the gun. He said, ‘If you had come in any other way [which I took to mean public exposure], I would have killed myself.’ I believe if he had used the gun, he would have killed us both. From that day on, we never spoke of it again. The month before he died, he knew my life was beginning to shut down, but he never reached out to help me.”

Today she describes surviving incest as “the greatest accomplishment of my life”.

Mary J. Blige

Mary J. BligeThe 40-year-old ‘queen of R&B’ has recorded 8 albums (all certified multi-platinum), as well as ranked on Rolling Stone magazine’s top 100 list of the greatest singers of all time, and she is the only recording artist ever to have won a Grammy each in Pop, Rap, Gospel, and R&B. She revealed during an interview with VH1’s Behind the Music that she was raped as a 5-year-old girl by a family friend, saying:

“I remember feeling, literally right before it happened, I just could not believe that this person was going to do this to me. That thing followed me all my life. The shame of thinking my molestation was my fault – it led me to believe I wasn’t worth anything. I ended up becoming my environment. It was bigger than me. I had no self-respect. I hated myself. I thought I was ugly. Alcohol, sex, drugs – I’d do whatever it took to feel better.”

But Mary J. is happily married as of 2003, and on top of her career success she is the co-founder of The Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, Inc.

 

The series continues tomorrow, with a poet and talk show host to add to the inspiration list. Come back and take a look!