Monday, December 22, 2014

There's No Place Like Home

Home can mean different things to different people. For some home is where you lay your head at night; for others home is where your loved ones reside. We make homes in our hearts for the ones we love and sometimes home is established in the place you go to speak to God. Whether home is defined by brick and mortar or the stuff that dreams are made of, one thing is for sure: home is supposed to be where we feel loved, safe and comfortable.
Home made cinnamon rolls.

Growing up I toiled with the idea of running away from home. Its weird when you're a child because that's probably the only time where home can be destructive, but leaving is an unlikely  consideration. I knew very little outside of home and the thought of wondering the world scared me. Though home consisted of pain, rape, mental abuse and humiliation, it was still the place where my brother and sisters lived. In my young mind the only way I could run away was if I took them all with me. 

When one of my sisters was a baby and the abuse from my father seemed unbearable, I had dreams of growing breasts and producing milk so I can breastfeed my baby sister and run away with my siblings. I still dream some of those dreams, and the town that we
Sitting up in my room
run away to has presently made it's way into some of my other sleep visions. This place of freshly paved roads lined with cream, gray and white houses and buildings with arches in front of them, became my other home. I became addicted to the feeling of serenity and safety that through it my subconscious offered and it contributed to my desire to sleep as much as I could to escape what was happening to me. Today it is one of places where I go to when I meditate, and I find myself drawn to architecture that reminds me of the buildings in my dreams.  

My mom and I went to church recently and the preacher spoke on bringing the glory of God home. He spoke about how people are happy outside of their residents, and jolly when they spend time with their friends; but miserable when they are at home with their family. I couldn't relate. It took me twenty-three years to get away from the home I grew up in and now that I have my own, I've created a space so filled with love it is the only place I want to be most of the time. My children are happy when they're home (I can barely get my eldest to go out with her friends and I anticipate a phone call in the middle of the night when my youngest sleeps over his grandmothers house), and my friends see it as a place to escape to. 
I go out into the world to work, learn, teach, help and expand my territory. And while I bring the glory of God home all the time, I am thankful that my home now is not only a destination for glory, but a source of it as well.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Repairing The Internet

As a survivor of sexual violence people I meet tend to walk on eggshells with me when it comes to things of a sexual nature. I am also expected to be modest and demure, and am judged on my expression of feminine sensuality. The vulgarity of what has happened to me has branded a salacious annotation on my forehead that I may never escape. When I relay my story I notice some of my audience reprocess their thoughts on my attire as they survey my cleavage and measure the clinginess of my pants. For a moment, I see their consciousness disconnect from my words as they attempt to imagine me as an exploited little girl; after which they compare their depiction of my child self, to the woman that's standing in front of them. Then their demeanor changes from that of engaged participation to withdrawn embarrassment.

When choosing the cover of my book, most that I looked to for feedback chose the picture of me wearing a turtleneck. Family members try to convince me to wear long skirts and loose shirts because they don't want anyone to think I "...liked what was done..." to me. And on my journey to expand my story to different media outlets I'm told that the posts on my blog where I speak of things like "yoni" and "orgasm", poses questions about my character. To this I ask: what gives? What is it about me that warrants such unrealistic expectations? I am a woman for crying
Bruce K. Cantrell
out loud; I have needs, I am confident, courteous, maybe a little flirtatious and most of all, just being myself! Then I realized; to blame myself for the discomfort people feel when they associate my victimization with my mature grown womaness (Grown womaness: feminine confidence and personal responsibility of ones own sexuality), is like saying as a child I did something to make my father molest me.

While I understand that the thought of a child being raped is difficult for most to digest, I can't help but be concerned how much of that difficulty is due to sexual arousal the thought provoked. Do people shuffle in their seats at the listening of my story, not because of a surge of compassion and sympathy running through their hearts, but because of a rush of passion and lust welling in their groins? Is sexual deviancy more common that we think?

Case in point: Kim Kardashian was recently featured posing nude in Paper magazine's winter issue

titled "Break The Internet". Before the release of the physical issue an internet sample was posted online, to which most people commented that they found Kardashian's pictures "shameful", "gross", "degrading" and "disgusting". Ignoring whatever photoshop or artificial enhancements that Kim Kardashian may or may not have had, the only adjective that came to my mind was: beautiful! There she is, a voluptuous, gorgeous woman standing demurely in the nude. All that was on display was her body. She is not presenting herself in a pornographic way. She is not spread eagle sticking something up her twat or sandwiched between two men with oversized genitalia. She is simply standing there, full breasted and big bottomed with an enduring smile on her face. So why are people so offended? I'll tell you why; because they are uncomfortable with their own thoughts (not including the haters of course). The problem with most Americans is that their minds
are in the gutter. An when I say "in the gutter", I don't mean erotic thoughts and feelings in general. I mean distorted, misguided, irresponsible, misconstrued interpretations of mental eroticism. How can an individual be so uncomfortable with their own sexuality that they hide, suppress and deny it, but consider themselves authorities on standards of sensual expression? All they're doing is impressing their own sexual guilt on others. The only reason why those that respond negatively to my expressions about sex in my writing take issue with it, is because they have a problem with what and how it makes them think and feel.

Now don't get it twisted, I don't condemn anyone for their thoughts; one's actions are all I'm concerned about. 
But, don't chastise me and claim I (or Kim for that matter) am inappropriate because I make you uncomfortable, when the fact is, you make yourself uncomfortable. 

Now that that's been said, seen and I'm sure very soon, heard; take some responsibility and instead of judging me, help me do something about those that do turn their thoughts into actions. The world (both physical and digital) will be the better for it. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

In Memory

It's been a while since I've written a blog post and I feel like I don't know where to begin. A lot has happened over the summer. I've learned quite a few lessons; and taught some. I took my kids on our first rode trip (I will share pictures and video before the year is out). I got to know special people and I published Volume 1 of my book. But this post isn't about those things.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of when my fourth child for my father grew her wings. I miss her dearly. At times during my family's very eventful summer, I found myself feeling guilty enjoying activities we would not have been able to enjoy if she was still with us. We even went to Great Adventure for the first time since she died. 

Losing one of my children has probably been one of the hardest things I've had to deal with. The torture my father use to put me through I eventually became conditioned to. And even then I always trusted that my Creator would deliver me. But when your child goes back to The One, there's no coming back; there's no way to find her; theres no escape from the loss. There is only time and I am a testament that while time does not heal all, it does make things a lot easier.

I wrote a poem last year for her and I want to publish it here. I contemplated if I should post it on the blog I created about KoKo, but most of the posts on that blog was written from a painful place. Since Unashamed An Open Book is more about healing and growth, I have included it below. 

The Production of A Drop

Thoughts of you ran though my head today, as usual. Bittersweet memories shove me back to a period that is ever-present in my mind. I imagine our times spent together, the struggles we endured together, the moments of joy we experienced with each other, and I miss them. 
As my surroundings blur, so my minds eye can focus on the visions of you occupying my brain, my stomach constricts like the palm of a fist. The energy in my groin begins to rise into the space in my belly that continues to get smaller and smaller as if it will implode on itself. I focus on your smile in my head and the way the hair on my arms would rise when you touched me. Its selfish of me really, the self pity I feel because I, I, I....Miss you.
The energy in my belly begins to gyrate looking for a way to escape because the force is just too great for this little space at the core of me.

Instantly its not in my belly anymore. With one exhale this energy skips past my lungs unaffected by the intrusion of the immaterial mass.

I’m lost in thought now. Transported back to a time where I can smell the small crease between your collarbone and your jawline. I experience the tickling sensation between my fingers as they glide through your hair. Now my neck is warm and tingly. Forgetting for a moment the surge of energy climbing its way through the core of me, I notice my throat is dry so I swallow.
As the muscles in my mouth contract and relax, my jaws flood with saliva, as if in anticipation of something in my stomach that needs to be digested.

My esophagus responds like it has a mind of its own, and it almost hurts. Not enough so to restrict my breath, but enough to make me conscious of the slim shape and small size of the tunnel that serves as a path of physical survival.

Suddenly my mental journey through time with you comes to the day you were no more. Well, no more with me as I understand it. I see myself helpless, helpless, helpless and again, very selfishly I, I, I, pity me.
The energy that began in my groin has left a faint trail of its presence in my throat and is now clawing its way through my face. Uncontrolled by my conscious mind, my nostrils flair in an attempt to adjust to the diminished air flow caused by the swelling in my sinuses. A response triggered by the journey of the immaterial mass making its way through the core of me.
Just as I open my mouth to make use of an alternate breath escape, the conduit connecting my sinuses to the glands in my eyes begin to swell. I notice that my surroundings are not only mentally blurry but physically distorted as well.
The corners of my eyes itch slightly as I try to push my self pity aside and hold on to the visions of you in my mind smiling at me. I hear your voice just as clear as if you were whispering in my ear when I laid next to you. My lower eyelids are weighted with the hold the energy clawing up my face has. Invisible fingers seem to pull on my lower lash line forcing me to squint just a little.
The thought of how much my life has changed now that you are no longer a part of it, invokes an alternate ending answering the question “what if you were still here?” And again, selfishly, I feel sorry for myself.

These thoughts mixed with the itch in the corner of my eyes, combined with the tingling of my sinuses, in unison with the constriction of my esophagus, effected by the tightness in my belly, stimulated by the energy in my groin, causes me to blink. Then, the energy, the immaterial mass making its way through the core of me, clawing up my face, is released as moisture in the form of a drop escaping the windows of my soul. I miss you my daughter, and I cry.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I've been dreaming about my father every night for the last two weeks. Themes of my dreams include everything from him calling me on the phone to tell me that his appeal had been approved and he would be out of jail within a couple of days; to a regular day in my present life with him in the background. In my sleep, the sound of his voice echoes through my head as if he has penetrated my thoughts. One morning when I woke, I pictured him sitting in his cell meditating on me and my children, plotting what he would do to us if he ever escaped. Questions of his exposure to the media flooded my brain; did he see the Katie Couric show? Has he read the numerous internet articles written on him? Does he follow my blog? My interpretations of the dreams where my dad is in the background of my everyday life, is a psychological manifestation of him in my life through my children and my work. And for the dreams where he tells me he's getting out of jail...well, that's a fear that I'm sure every person that has had a crime committed against them where the perpetrator has been convicted and punished, has. 
Dwennimmen. Adinkra symbol for strength

My mother's concern with me publishing my book is that it would make my father famous. That he would develop a following of pedophile supporters who share compassion for his predicament.
I told her while I did consider the possibility, I came to the conclusion that if he didn't have a following of sympathizers already, any he gained going forward will also be exposed to the consequences of engaging in child sexual abuse. "Let him become famous..." I told my mother. "...because in doing so, he will prove the perfect example of what could happen if you are to exploit a child for your sexual pleasure." 

I was sixteen years old and my first child was five months

I plan to visit my father in jail in the near future. I feel the chapter in my life that includes him won't be finished until I do. The only time I confronted him directly was at his sentencing. He held a piece of paper up to his face while he accused me of lying. I've grown since the last time he attacked me; since the last time he tried to contact me; since the last time I testified in court and since he cowered at his sentencing. He doesn't know me anymore and I'm sure he believes he still has power over me. I'm looking forward to the day when I look into his eyes as he suffers the consequences of his actions, list off all of my successes and achievements and say "You did your best to destroy my potential and you failed. Look at me now."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How Do You......?

"...did that [being sexually abused] cause problems in your marriage as far as getting to know someone and trying to explain everything?" That's the question that Truth, one of the hosts of The Morning Wood on Gyroscope radio, asked me during my interview. And though I gave a short answer on the show, his question inspired a question that I had to ask myself: How does being sexually abused effect my relationships?

Me and Sinn, one of the hosts of the 'Morning Wood', getting
some grooving going during a song break. 

After looking back on my history with men; noting the ones that would be considered failures; concluding that they weren't failures, just not what I needed or wanted; and evaluating what I do want in a relationship; I theorized that being sexually abused effects not only my relationships with men but my relationships with all humans. But being that I was sexually, physically and mentally abused for seventeen years of my life, it's difficult to imagine what my life would be like had I not experienced the one I've lived. Which poses another question. Who would I be had I not been abused?

A friend of mine sent me a link to a blog written by therapist Louise Behiel. Ms. Behiel's post "The 16 signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse" was both informative and disheartening. Disheartening because symptoms like "not being able to tolerate water being splashed in your face" and "seeing double entendres in ordinary conversation" suggests that almost everyone including newborn babies have been sexually abused. And informative because indicators that in my own research I've found to be associated to sexual abuse like; being unable to have sex in certain positions and a victim's abuse of drugs and alcohol, (which I myself have no issues with, but have spoken to women that do) made complete sense. Her source of this list is from a book called Secret Survivors by E. Sue Bloom (1998). I've ordered this book so I can read it in it's entirety and give it a more educated review, but the list published on Ms. Behiel's blog to me does more harm than good. Most comments in reaction to the list had people thinking that every little glitch in their lives was due to childhood sexual abuse. Yes, people tend to be products of their environment but there are other causes for alcoholism and drug abuse that have nothing to do with being touched inappropriately when you were five. 
That being said; I am more protective over my children than most parents are. Being in the same room as my abuser puts me on edge. I use to have a very sensitive gag reflex, And my sexual boundaries may be set outside the next girl's limits, but should I look at these as disfunction?

Child molestation is a grotesquely calamitous deviance in our society. It inflicts wounds on victims that may never heal and causes handicaps in survivors that no amount of therapy could ever correct. But the truth is, these wounds and handicaps are a part of who we are. Learning to function in spite of them, only makes us stronger.

I believe that destructive behaviors like self inflicted pain, promiscuity and the abuse of others, are a victim's denial that the trauma they suffered cannot be removed. If one excepts what happened to them and proceed with a course of treatment, healing and management, they could function in a productive manner. Granted, I am not a psychologist and I have no certificates to prove that my ideas are backed by an accredited institution but I have lived my life and I am still here. 

To know that the day my father touched me changed the course of my development towards a life of possible disaster saddens me. At the same time, it makes me all the more passionate about being a survivor, a parent, an advocate for women and children, a positive role model and an encouragement to other survivors.

I do not spend my time dwelling on the fact that I am different from those that have not been molested.  I do not attempt to run from things that will forever be a part of me. If I did, it would cause a constant feeling of failure and I would be miserable. I know that wounds heal and disabilities forces you to sharpen other skills.

Being abused greatly effects my personal relationships with men. While life with my father has shown me the selfish, evil potential of man kind, I also have more appreciation for loving, considerate, kind men. I am a hopeless (and hopeful) romantic, and if that's because I was molested as a child; oh well.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Victims Of Crimes Vigil

When I was asked to speak at the Passaic County Victims of Crimes Vigil, I was honored and excited. Not only would it be an opportunity to speak with other survivors of crime but it would give me a chance to continue to raise awareness on child molestation and domestic violence. I was told that the assistant prosecutor (the prosecutor who worked on my case against my father) would introduce me, and I was to speak for five to seven minutes. I thought: sure, no problem! The length of my name alone will count for two minutes, so I have nothing to worry about. Then four days before the event, I received another call saying that I was to speak for fifteen minutes! My stomach did a dive like an olympic swimmer off his board, because I couldn't imagine what I would talk about for fifteen minutes. Oh the pressure!

Well I didn't quite make it to 
fifteen minutes, but I hope that every minute I had the microphone in my hand, would be sixty seconds that a crime survivor could be touched positively.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Woman's Worth Part 3

If there is anything in the world that could make a person digress from being a sophisticated, mature responsible, member of society, to a jejune, idiotic, unscrupulous social basket case; it is matters of the heart. Just the other day I watched a small group of males and females with ages ranging from 34 to 46 act like a group of kindergartners fighting over who's playing next to who in the sandbox (pure imagination considering I've not been to school lol). And it was all due to love. Whether one is 16 or 61; throw sex and emotions into the mix, we all revert to a very primal instinct. Defense of territory. Which brings me to my third and final installment of 'A Woman's Worth'

Yinka Shonibar's Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 0.300 hours
Now I really should be doing homework, but over the last few months I've developed feelings for someone that has me very distracted. He's single, but there are a lot of women in his life (old and new) vying for his attention. This predicament that I find myself in has got me thinking about womanizers, players, dandies, and polygamists; and how they effect the value that a woman put's on herself in a relationship. 

My viewpoint on committed relationships may be a little different from most women. I grew up in a family where the patriarch had relations with multiple females concurrently, yet it wasn't governed by any particular religious belief or culture. This was not a lifestyle that my parents agreed on when they first married, but something that my father manipulated my mother into over the years. 

Cleopatra is a representation of a woman's influence over men. 
I was taught that a woman is supposed to unconditionally serve the man in all aspects; and this theory was supported with examples from various cultures, belief systems and religions. Since then I've formulated my own thesis on the subject, using biology to support my ideas. For me it boils down to this: if man had not created the institution of marriage and monogamy, as a species we'd have one primary focus. To be fruitful and multiply (AKA, the survival or our species). On average a woman produces one egg a month. Once it is fertilized, gestation is complete, birth commences and the lactation period ends, two years would have passed. In contrast, a man has nowhere near the procreation limits that a female has. His millions of sperm gives him the ability to make multiple babies with only one orgasm. He is neither the vessel nor a source of nourishment for life, giving him free agency to plant his seeds as often and in as many places as he is physically able. That being the case, I fully understand a male's struggle with maintaining a monogamous relationship. It's biological baby!

Harriet Tubman helped roughly 300 slaves
escape slavery. 

Now you may ask "Aziza, does that mean you are a polygamist?" And my answer is yes and no. 
Western culture dictates that a relationship between a man and a woman should consist of one man and one woman. Some feminists believe that any female who allows her man to be with other females, degrades and devalues herself, while putting the integrity of their coupling at risk. My opinion is that a woman sets her own value. There is no institution or belief system that can do that without her approval. You can be in monogamous relationship where your partner cheats on you and treats you like shit, or you can be the 4th wife of a loving household who has the support of 3 sister wives. You can also represent a minuscule fraction of the bedded roster of a modern day Casanova, or one half of a power couple ready to take on the world. My point is, the going rate of a female individual is set by said female individual (yes I objectified us). If a woman holds herself in high value, than others will hold her in high value also. If you know your worth, than you will set a standard for yourself, and everyone around you has no other choice but to except that standard.
Harriet Beecher Stow's Uncle Tom's Cabin was
pivotal in the abolition of slavery by garnering sympathy
for the plight of African Americans.

Granted we have centuries of oppression piled onto everything feminine. Time periods where we were declared and burned as witches because we began menstruating. Rapes inflicted on us as a spoil of war. Belief systems that alienate us during our monthly cycle, and religions that blame us for sin and suffering. But as a source of infinite power and the cradle of life, drawing those who want to own and control us is to be expected.

We as women have to recognize the power we have in ourselves. In doing so we will recognize that same power in our daughters, sisters and other women, in turn increasing the agreed value of our species.  I mean, when you think about it from a theological stand point, if man was created first, women are version 2.0 (you know, the version after the kinks were worked out). And from a scientific standpoint, female chromosomes are XX while male are XY. What is a Y but an X missing a leg (things that make you go hmmm).

Though still working on her legacy
Aziza Kibibi knows she's the shit. 
So I go through all this to say what about love and relationships? Only you can determine how to conduct your relationship.  Titles like polygamy and monogamy only have the weight we give them. When a woman understands her worth, she sets the standards of her relationship with a man and uses her power to determine what she will and what she will not allow. Whether she shares a man with another awesome female or keeps the man to herself, does not decide her value in a relationship. 
But, the value she puts on herself as a female and human being, does.  

We are the origin of humanity; we are the saviors of civilization; we are masters of ingenuity and we are the nurturers of nations. We are jewels finer than any that can be appraised by an outside source. Study and know your worth ladies, and you will find that it is beyond measure.