Monday, June 27, 2011

Embrace Fearlessness


Participating in this e-course from the amazing blogger Liv Lane of Choosing Beauty is the single best thing I have done to date to develop my skills and find my voice as a blogger.  This blogging prompt came from her over the weekend in an email:

I'll be writing something revealing about me and I ask you to do the same. Reveal something on your blog about YOU that you haven't shared yet: a personality trait, a bad habit, an odd talent, a fear, a breakthrough, an opinion, a belief. Then come over to Choosing Beauty and add the link to your blog so that others can easily find your post. It's a fun way to build traffic and gain support.

When I first read about this challenge in the course post on Friday, I choose a different topic to write about than what I am about to share here today.  The notes about that topic came easily and filled several journal pages quickly.  But as I re-read the email blog prompt a few moments ago, I knew that I had to write about something completely different.  Something that I have never written about and never speak of.

Some years ago I was grabbed off the street, dragged through a park and down a river bank, and was tied up, blindfolded and raped repeatedly. I was sure that I was going to be killed, but I was left on the rocks and told not to move for fifteen minutes.  The rapist said that he would be watching, and that he would kill me if I did.

But what I just shared with you isn't what I never talk about.  I have spoken about this often.  First to the 911 operator at the pay phone I made my way to, then to the police officers who picked me up to drive me to the hospital.  I spoke to nurses, doctors, detectives, a wonderful reporter who shared my story as a way to help other women, friends, family, the representative from victims resources who came to the hospital, and later to a therapist. 

What I never talk about is that I am afraid.  Every. single. day. of. my. life.  What the rapist took away from me is the ability to look at the world without fear. 

I am sure that many of my friends and family would say if they read this "but you never seem afraid", or "I never knew that you are afraid", or something along those lines.  And I am glad for that.  It is very, very important to me that I not live my life with outward fear, that I not appear as a victim.  There is a very frightening statistic about rape that I learned shortly after this happened to me: 1 in 4 women are raped at some point in their life.  1 in 2 rape victims are raped again.  1 in 2.  Why?  Because appearing afraid, appearing as a victim, makes you an easy target.  So I decided to never, EVER show fear. 

One of the best resources available to women who have been raped is the Joyful Heart Foundation, founded by Mariska Hargitay, star of the long running TV show 'Law and Order, Special Victims Unit'.  I wish it had been in existence a few years earlier when I was attacked, but I am glad that it exists now.  From their website:  "The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse and shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues."  I just can't tell you how much I have learned from and been comforted by the stories of sharing and community on their website.

Do you have a Mantra?  A mantra is a sound, syllable, word or group of words considered capable of creating transformation.  Do you have one?  I do, it's "Fearlessness".  I sometimes wear a pendant designed by Me & Ro for Joyful Heart:

But I wear it because I like it and it's pretty, not because I need to be reminded of my mantra.  In every situation where I feel fear, the mantra echos in my head, helping me to be brave, and to face the world. 

Embrace Fearlessness, my friends.

With love,
Anita

21 comments:

  1. Anita,
    Thank you so much for speaking from your heart - and for sharing this, which I can only imagine how painful it was (and continues to be).

    I would like to share with you a resource a friend of mine has created - Violence Unsilenced - http://violenceunsilenced.com/

    Sending love and peace to you...
    Lance

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  2. Lance,
    Thank you so much for your kind comments, and for sharing the link. What a great site! I am going to enjoy exploring it.
    xo,
    Anita

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  3. Anita,
    You have such a story to share and have done so beautifully. Please don't ever let fear keep you from being your true self - you are beautiful!
    xox
    Dream Barefoot,
    ~Lesa
    http://twitchingtoes.blogspot.com/

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  4. Oh, Anita! Thank you for 'going there' and sharing this. It's so much easier to put on that mask of fearlessness than to OWN it and BELIEVE it, right?

    As part of my therapy for PTSD, which I suspect you may have after such a violent attack, I did EMDR to literally re-train my brain. It really helped me w/ my fear. Not sure if you've done this or explored this, but thought I'd put it out there as an option. Thanks for being so brave - I know this post is going to help others!

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  5. Hi Anita, Thanks for sharing your story & being so brave. I am also glad you shared about the Joyful Heart Foundation too! A cause I can surely wrap my arms around being a former victim of violence too. I'll be sure to sign up before I leave going to look around now. Congrats on being fearless! (hugs)Theresa

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  6. Thank you all so much for the love! The whole experience of this class and the way everyone is challenging themselves and sharing so honestly is incredibly uplifting!

    Lesa~ You are beautiful, too. We ALL are!

    Liv~ You are so right, the mask IS easier. But it's not real, and that gets old after a while! I am not familiar with EMDR at all, but I am going to find out all about it now! Thank you, thank you!

    Teresa~ I hope that you love Joyful Heart as much as I do! You are sure to like the link that Lance shared (above) also.

    xoxo

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  7. Just wanted to thank you for sharing this! When I was 19 I was grabbed by a stalker... and was blessed to get away. Despite that I lived with a lot of fear for many, many years and I know that it is a lesson in courage sometimes just to get out and move in the world as though you don't have fear... congratulations to you on your daily bravery and for the courage to share this with us.

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  8. Shauntelle,

    I am so happy that you got away! It must have been a horrible experience, especially at such a young age. It saddens me how quickly the ugliness in the world can forever change a life. I am glad that we have been able to create and to find beauty here in bloglandia!

    Thank you so much for your kind words!
    xo, Anita

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  9. When I was 19 I was also grabbed off the street, by a couple of men. I didn't tell a soul for nearly a year. I did live in fear for many years, but have been able to work through it. Though I'll always be much more aware of the dangers of life than others may be, I'm blessed to be able to live without fear. I pray it'll be the same for you someday! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  10. Anita, there is such power in this post. I will carry this in my heart whenever I feel afraid. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  11. Oh Anita, I am so sorry for that horrible night and what you have had to live through since. I thank you for sharing this very personal story. I am praying for strength, hope, and courage for you and for every woman who has ever been violated. May you always carry in your heart the knowledge that you are loved by many, many friends. Please don't ever stop being the amazing, inspirational woman you are. Anne xoxo

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  12. Grateful to you
    for your bold clear voice
    and the brave choices you make
    daily
    to not be defined by the
    horrible thing that happened to you.
    THANK you for not stopping there
    ...for moving forward and taking new ground.
    We're all richer for it.
    HUGE grace and peace to you
    in all your parts.
    -Jennifer

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  13. <<>> oh Anita, thank you for your fearlessness! I am at a loss for words, but your sharing has truly touched me. Peace to you

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  14. Anita - thank you for sharing your story...you are truly a brave woman.

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  15. Loved reading your story, and u are such a fearless woman... bravo to you.. you survived you survived, and now? You are THRIVING. xo hugs and love to you, bonitarose.. I am participating in this prompt too! hugs

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  16. Your story moved me. I'm tearing up as I type this. I live in fear, too. I've never been raped, but more than half of my female friends and family have. It's so rampant. And it deeply saddens me. For a long time, I have wanted to enroll myself and my daughter in self-defense classes. I think every woman should take them. Thank you again for sharing your story and the Joyful Heart Foundation. I will definitely check it out.

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  17. Hi Anita, I'm taking Liv's course, too and am at a loss of words after reading your story. I am sorry that you have been through such horror - I can't even imagine. Your courage and wonderful, beautiful heart fills me with awe. Your mantra is powerful. "Fearlessness!" Thank you for sharing.

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  18. Anita, reading your story makes me appreciate how much my challenges and life experiences have been easy in comparison to what you have experienced. My heart reaches out to you.

    Liv speaks of EMDR, I am also familiar with this. I have experienced many different healing modalities over the years and EFT has been the most incredible healing tool for me. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT could really help you release the fear you are living with daily.

    All the best to you! Thank you for sharing.

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  19. Thank you for this post, Anita. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. Em x (BBTL)

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  20. Anita,
    You were the sweetest person when I knew you in HS and through all that you have been through...of which I had never known, You ARE an inspiration ! You still are the sweetest of anyone I have ever met ! In this cruel world you are actually blessed to have the capacity to turn dark,scary ugliness into strength that others can learn from. You are an amazing person and I'm so glad to have read your blog ! it saddens me that you have gone through any of this! It seems that you do have an angel on your shoulder ! I pray that the years ahead will be everything that you pray for !
    Your friend, Christie.

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  21. (((Anita))) I've just found your post through our current BBYL course and wish I could convey to you my feelings of sadness that this happened to you.

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Dear friends,
Thank you for taking the time to comment! ! I want this to be a space of free and open dialog, within the boundaries of respect and basic human kindness. Whether we are in agreement or not, all comments will be published so long as they meet that requirement.
xo, Anita