The Speech (Trigger warning)

What is below lies a trigger filled attempt at a speech. I am going to give a speech about Rape. I have considered titles which are wholly inappropriate, filled with bravado, and would be more triggering and devalue my own experiences, such as “Rape, it’s What’s For Dinner.” Instead, I think the title may just be, “Rape.” My goal with this speech is to educate law enforcement officials and others about the facts of being raped. I also want to use this speech to reach out to survivors and victims, so that they can begin to heal. I think at this time my updating speed for the blog will be once a week.

I also want each of you to know I could not do this without knowing I have support from my readers. I do, and therefore I know I have a safe place to write. Thank you for that. Between paragraphs I am checking the spam folder on comments, I find it a bit frightening that all of them are for Viagra and Vibrators. Those comments didn’t start piling in until I began to write about rape. I am blessed to have a good spam filter, but, that is a terrifying association.

“Rape”

Rape is often used in the media for drama, there to add tension. The Fear of rape is something that most people have felt at one time or another. Rape can be defined in many different ways. There is date rape, statuatory rape, and then the simple category of rape. The words seem simple, yet, there is a strong reaction to each category. Some people are blamed for their rape, some are told they do not matter, and others manage to fight for prosecution. All of the victims of rape are simply that, victims. Rape could be classified as a hate crime.

What makes a person rape? Most rapists know their victim. The rapists get in close, they are trusted, and often it is an act of domination. It is an act of power. I have been raped. What power does a small child have? I do not know. Perhaps it was the power of life. My biological father was the first person to rape me. He brutalized my body, he tore me to pieces, and then he left me fearing that no one would believe me. My mind suppressed the memories of the worst attacks in order to survive. For years, I dealt with a monster in my bed. I would have rather had the monster under my bed, a figment of my imagination. I did not have the luxury of unfounded fears as a child.

In my journey for healing I began to remember, and due to the law at the time I could still prosecute him. I went to the police. I discovered the horror of being devalued. It is important to support victims of rape, instead of turning them away. The then Albuquerque District Attorney told me, “Your case is just not compelling enough. It won’t matter no one will care that you were raped.” Compelling enough? I still do not understand his choice of words or actions. Why does a case need to be compelling? Justice was lost that day. I was left with the horrible realization that he didn’t care enough about me to do anything. I cried for weeks, for I had wanted to protect other people from my father. I didn’t think he would stop just because I grew up.

I was silent for years after that about being raped. The years of silence festered in my heart. I took the blame onto myself. I presumed I deserved it, because why else would no one else care? It wasn’t until I reached adulthood and began to study law that I understood. My case wasn’t one that would get him political attention. My rape wasn’t important enough to him because he had no basis for what damage could be done. If I had been his sister or mother, he would’ve been enraged. A small and defenseless teenager? He could do as he wished with my rights. I had no way to fight him. I decided then that I wanted to become a lawyer advocating for children, especially those who were sexually abused. Although that has yet to happen, it is still amid my goals.

Another facet of rape came into my awareness as I was forced to confront disability. Bodies that are not as physically able or minds that are not cognizant of the world around them are more likely to be raped with less action comitted to the effort. I have been lucky as a woman with a disability, in that I can still defend myself. I had a “friend” try and rape me a few years ago. I was vulnerable, hurting, and had just found out my back was broken. He made excuses after the attempt. It was only through knowledge that I protected myself. I retained the use of my arms and used the bits of martial arts I could still perform to keep him back. He still hurt me, but, the violation of my body was prevented.

In any country people with disabilities are more likely to be raped. Many people believe the myth that a person with a disability cannot be devirginized, and as the myths pervade about disability and sexually transmitted diseases this leads to thousands of people becoming infected. I have run into the police even locally refusing to enforce any laws that protect my human rights, as a disabled person. They do not listen, and women without disabilities have to fight just as hard to have validation legally. Doing so just after a brutal attack is not just difficult. It is as impossible a task as Climbing Everest.

At the risk of triggering memories for any persons who have been raped I am going to try and describe the emotions involved in being raped. Helplessness. You cannot stop them, you are not strong enough, fear. Are you going to die? There is pain, emotional and physical. The sense of violation doesn’t wash off, even if the evidence of the rape can. You can never wash away the feeling of fingers, hands, and other parts of your rapist entering you. Time might dull that sensation but, the knowledge that you could not stop someone from entering your body is always there. It haunts you, it chases you. Empty rooms, dark nights, and hallways all become places where you might think you hear their voice, or a breathy little laugh that sounds like your assailant. It becomes harder to function, harder to go out. Sometimes it is impossible to stay inside. You want to flee. You want to scream. Some of the victims of rape do. Usually this ends with a brutal beating. Some are too afraid to make sound, and are left to wonder, if I had only screamed would I be saved.

Forever, you carry the burden of wondering what could have prevented this. Some, who know their attackers may not press charges out of fear for their lives. They are left knowing that their rapist is right there, able to harm them again and again if they so desire. Everyday activities become moments where you fear, where you must protect yourself. Even when you don’t know how.

If you are able to try and get police help you must relieve at least a few times the assault, with as much detail as possible. You must allow a stranger to see if they can find evidence inside of your body. You must also wait. What if they do not agree you were raped? This happens often. The police don’t bother with a rape kit, or they decide a person is unrapable. “You are too ugly to be raped.” This sentence is used to justify a denial of justice, to justify mocking a victim, and to justify the excuse that fewer people are raped than the statistics say.

The famed statistic states that one in four women is raped or faces an attempted assault. This might be accurate but with rape there is a huge gap in information. There are no accurate statistics for rape of the disabled, the rape of men, and the rape of women. These statistics try to compensate for those who do not speak up, those who cannot speak up, and yet without actual numbers they fail the victims and potential victims in many ways. The room for error leaves room for disbelief.

The second person who raped me was also someone I knew. I was in Elementary school and this boy decided that he needed to prove to me I was worthless. It didn’t matter that I had no faith in my self or my right to exist. It didn’t matter that we were friends. He pulled a gun out at his fathers house and held it to my head while using my body. I did not handle this well. I was positive no one would believe me. My mother didn’t, I did try to tell her. I had a history of behavioral issues that directly stemmed from the abuses I dealt with as a child. I took my own revenge. I was the one who was punished. I broke the windows in his parents cars, his house, and then I beat him with a metal pole. This course of action landed me in juvenile detention. He never was punished legally. I paid for my crime and his.

I am not finished healing from the experience of rape, but I am sharing with you the facts that I know. If a woman comes forward saying she is raped, she needs the benefit of the doubt. The rape culture in the United States teaches us that she must have deserved it somehow, that ugly women do not get raped, and it teaches us to shame the victim. The media perpetrates this, and despite the best efforts of parents, teachers, and even some of their peers, children do absorb these subconscious lessons.

Rape is a very real crime. It is painful, and it can change the way the victims of rape see the world. Many develope Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, their minds taking triggers from even a smell, and plunging them back into the memories of rape. Many choose to push people away, becoming angry. Some decide they deserved it and throw themselves into dangerous behaviors to try and not feel their pain anymore. Every victim of rape is effected. There is no set response to rape. Some victims may be quiet, appearing calm, others may scream and rage, and still many more may choose actions that include suicide.

If you or someone you know has been raped, or you suspect that a child is being abused please support them and assit them in contacting the police and the local rape crisis center.

At this point I will have my Person hand out little cards with the local crisis numbers listed on it. I do want feedback. I will rewrite this a few times, publicly too. I lost the spark part way through due to my cat jumping on me and spilling juice everywhere. He also deleted a page of vital statistics so I am off to find them.

I live!

I hope you all can forgive my silence. Here is a quick rundown of why my blogging may become a bit more sporadic. I will try to not be so lack luster in my posting, and I have stories to tell!

1. I am starting a public speaking business. I will try to travel and blog, though until I get a laptop that might not happen. I will try to use the scheduler on WordPress, if I can figure out how to make it actually post.

2. As an ordained interfaith minister at times I perform weddings. I like to assist with the planning, networking resources, and it is another time consuming affair, also at times with travel involved. I am currently in the process of helping plan a huge wedding with in three months.

3. I might have cancer. This year I am getting a double cancer scare. I have posted before about the annual cancer scare. This time my doctors think I have both skin cancer and uterine cancer. I don’t think I have either but we are doing biopsies (which left me incapacitated for three days) and tests just to be safe.

4. I am trying to keep my commitments as well. I am helping to start a new Toastmasters Club at both the local University and one at the other end of town. I am also going to be active in my regular two clubs.

This is all between writing my novel, on the blog, working on my art and I will also be crafting things to sell at craft shows and as special commissions. A lot of this occurs around wedding time. (Feel free to book me as a minister, I can legally marry you in most states and as an interfaith minister am able to work with many faiths. I also perform commitment ceremonies for those who cannot legally marry their life partners in most of the US at this time.)

I will continue my activism as well. It never ends, and although I am tired when writing this, I still need to wash my face to remove the eyeliner Day of Silence writing from the protest, I am exhausted but content. I will try to write tomorrow, and due to the incliment weather might just have more time.

It is spring and SNOWING!

Speeches

I have promised a catalogue of my speeches. So far these are the files I have gotten uploaded to Youtube.The youtube account name is TextualFury. I know some of the videos are flawed, okay all of them are. Feel free to comment here or on youtube if you have any input.


This speech is titled “What is a Service Animal?” At the end of the speech a copy of both the Federal and State law was handed out, with my business card as I could not explain the entire law with in even three hours. You can see me stand, you can see Sprite the service cat in action too.

This is a speech that is meant to explain my wheelchair. It is called “Thirty Seconds.” The goal of this speech was to work on my gestures, something that I find more challenging since breaking my back. I had to work through a lot of pain to even write the speech. The physical portion wasn’t painful during this rendition, though developing each motion was.

This is the same speech as before with some rewrites. I am trying to focus it into an inspiration with a call to action just to think, to help others, and to hope. This is a better angle but the sound is out of sync.

Here is my Person giving an extemporaneous speech that is meant to last between one to two minutes. Now you know my secret, he’s talented, eloquent, and adorable.This is posted with Permission.

His question was, “What was your favorite TV show during your childhood?” His answer for those who cannot view the video, was MacGuyver. I am planning to transcribe the other videos, though this will take time and I have no idea if I will get to it soon at all.

One final video. This is just the beauty of the local campus. Soft, beautiful birdsong and bright green ivy. This was filmed after the second version of the Thirty Seconds speech and Paul’s tabletopics. It was just too beautiful to not film.

Lessons Learned

Everyone discounts themselves at one time or another. Recently I have faced a lot of self doubt about my public speaking. My wheelchair has given me a renewed terror of public speaking, something I have not felt since my first speech during my years as the Speech and Debate Captain for my high school. This is another reason I went back to Toastmasters. The idea that I of all people could be afraid to give a speech was just mind blowing.

As an autistic I talk too much as it is. I cannot always stop myself, though that is something I am working on. Without treatment for my autism beyond shame, I learned to bottle it up letting my words flow out like the richest cream on stage. Now, I am going to start a new career as a Public Speaker. The difference between what I have done in the realm of Public Speaking and what I am starting tonight is this. I will get paid.

I did not think I was a marketable asset. A part of this is based on what I have heard my entire life. You are too fat, you are too ugly, no one likes pale people, no one likes skinny people, no one likes you. You aren’t worthy, this is the constant message that has been sent not just my way, but towards most children. Any difference becomes devaluing. I was supposed to go to Career Builders tonight to give a speech. I had it ready, polished, and yet two things occured that had me missing the meeting.

My doctor’s appointment ran late. I met my new doctor and obtained my pain medication for the first time in months. I also am going to see a therapist that specializes in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder AND Chronic Pain. My new medication specialist has told me even if this doctor and I do not work out, he will treat me. He didn’t question the validity of my service animal and was understanding about my nearly running him over. I left empowered, yet fighting Reynauds.

It started to snow as we left the office, and we discovered with only 15 minutes to get to the house and drive an hour that I had forgotten my brief case at the house. When we made it home and I climbed up onto my bed to grab it, I just gave in and laid down. Immediately I called the coordinator but, after that I checked my email.

There it was, the reminder that I had signed up for a free online speaking session with Darren LaCroix. It was free, and I hadn’t been so positive I wanted to help Career Builders yet. Key word being yet. So, I clicked the link to the session, locked William out of the room after he crushed my hands and asked my Person to turn up the heat so I could try and stop shivering.

I wouldn’t have given a good speech tonight due to pain, my brain fog, and shaking like a leaf in the wind. I couldn’t remember the opening to my speech and every other word came out as a breathy gasp. I also fell outside of the Comic Book store and my body couldn’t match my brain in fluidity. As I laid down and began to chat with the others in the audience, I woke up inside a bit. I realized a few things as the session wore on. I was left feeling like an asset and not an… well you know.

Some of the information, which I do not want to give in detail here so that you have to go and seek out Darren’s teachings, was pointed and was really just in the form of a question. If you answer it, you have a small portion of what is needed to sell yourself. Other points were broader, metaphorical yet directed.

I am now going to speak for Pay. I will learn how, and the beautiful thing is simply this: I am sellable. I am marketable. It isn’t just being a beautiful redhead, a capable person with a disability, it is also being able to share the information that I have gained through experience and broadening my audience.

I learned a lesson tonight. What is the lesson you have to learn? What will help you find the inner spark? I had lost it this week and now not only is my inner spark found but so is my future goal reset, bigger and brighter than before. I am reaching not for the stars but beyond them, for, I can’t fail. I can only win by trying.

Thank You is Sometimes All You Can Say.

This feels strange, to write. I am going to go for a crown. It took me a very long time to become aware of my own value, and through the Ms Wheelchair USA program, I can not only show my own skills and confidence but I get to hopefully inspire other women and men to be confidence. I have conversations daily with my friends, sometimes strangers, and every so often in the mirror with myself when my pain has me grasping for strength I am sure I will not find about confidence and value.

I minister aid to those in need. Today I recieved two gifts. One, is the first donation for my campaign towards the Crown, and the other was a bottle of holywater. I will not discuss my religion here, as I do not think that has bearing on who I am or what I am capable of doing, but I see this as a beautiful thing.

The woman who sent me the holy water is one of my strangers. It was just before Christmas and I went with a friend to the bookstore. Meandering we agreed to meet at the coffee shop and I went rolling through the shop. She looked happy, except her eyes. I remember how utterly void of joy they were, and she couldn’t seem to stop staring, so, I struck up a conversation with her about the books on the table. She didn’t take long to open up to me. I remember my utter shock at her telling me she was going to commit suicide. I responded before I thought with, “Why would you want to do a thing like that?” After an h our of conversation we hugged. I rarely hug people because it pains me, but, she needed a hug more than anything else. She told me she wanted to send me a package and after meeting me she couldn’t kill  herself. Our conversation touched on the spiritual, but mostly her need to be someone. She had forgotten herself for years to be a mother to a disabled child, and now her own grand child was disabled and she couldn’t fathom happiness for anyone. Today I recieved a thank you card, and the bottle from a local blessed spring. It reminded me of my power to inspire people. I did not need a reminder to know I am good, but, the reminder that I can touch people by being who I am was a surprise.

I then talked with a male friend of mine who often forgets to love himself. For years he has battled this and tonight I shared with him how I learned to love myself. I started telling myself three times a day in the mirror I love you. That was all I saw myself, when washing my hands. Then, I wrote on my stomach, legs and anywhere that was invisible to others, I love me. I love me. Over and over. It took a long time, then I started to believe it. Mike and I met over something daring, I did something that I might be ashamed of now, online as many others do. The evidence is thankfully washed away by server errors and time. I had made myself do something out of character, to see what would happen. I never went back in my shell. I instead became a real girl. No more hiding, no more sorrow. Shortly after this I broke my back, and had to resume chanting how much I love me. I still do some days, to help myself along when the pain burns me through and I forget that I am more than a disabled chick who can barely walk. When homeless Mike fed me, he even helped pay for Sprite the Service Cat’s vet bills. He is amazing, and, I hope that he remembers that. He reminds me of who I used to be, and even admits when he is wrong. A very rare individual whom I appreciate. He is who I turn to when even my well worn tactics fail, he can always make me smile and is the Brother of My Soul. He is greatness himself, and proved to me, before any other male could, that not all men are evil. Without him, I would still be fighting daily to not feel afraid in this world. Instead I feel love and warmth even in my darkest hours.

Then, I went into my favorite IRC, dedicated to graphic programers who make animal skins for IMVU, a 3D Instant messenger and started talking with a brilliant young woman. Her name, posted with Permission, is Weesha. We talk often, though the last few months before I started this blog that contact was rare due to no internet connection. I told her of my discovery, just before the deadline and without enough time, this year, to dedicate to my new goal of Ms Wheelchair USA. We brainstormed for ways that she can help me to spread the word about MWUSA, to reach my goal, and so that people can learn about my Platform. I haven’t finished fine tuning the platform yet, but tonight she spread the word far enough that the first donation was made by Jen, a person of similar interests, taste, and a person who deserves a very special thank you. My wonderful day started off in tears and has blossomed into a garden of delights.

I just want to say thank you, these people are beyond special. May any who read these words have as dear friends and family as I have. They feed my soul, they nourish my dreams, and wish for the dreams of all to come true. They deserve as much as they give. Each one has their hopes and dreams and this, dear readers, is my hope for them.

For Information on Ms Wheelchair USA please visit their website. There you can learn about the current Crown holder Beryl Holzbach.  I saw some of her youtube videos today and was brought to tears, mourning what is, and hoping that her advocacy brings great strides to the medical field.

Toasting the Masters…

Today I found my Toastmaster’s group. First try too! That part was utterly unexpected. Usually it takes a few trips around the group sets to find where I belong. Not today. I am still planning to go to the Albuquerque Toastmaster’s meeting tonight, but only to reconnect with oldfriends and really, only if I have the energy. I am kind of beat. The good kind of exhaustion come from energy well spent.

First, we had to find the place, and via Rand Mcnally’s better than Mapquest map maker (you can get turn by turn maps!) we had success. Walking in, there was a lovely security guard. She not only opened the doors for me but cheerfully gave me instructions on how to find the group and didn’t hesitate to allow Sprite the Service Cat into the building. The meeting was on the second floor of the building, and we entered it… the most awesome elevator I have ever seen. It was awesome despite my fear of heights. The back half was clear so you could see exactly where you are. If you fall you can see you are falling! The ride was smooth, and it was roomy.

Backing out I took note of the hall of doors and entered the first room, after seeing the Toastmaster’s TVC banner. I had a second to breathe and then the greetings started. Every person there had such genuine kindness and they were all excited at the prospect of meeting someone new. I transfered from the Scooter into one of the rolling chairs, because they looked really comfortable. They were sweeeeet. I volunteered myself to work if they needed anyone, and it turned out they did.

Today was their Club Level contests for the Annual International and Table Topics speech competitions. I was secondary timer, one of the required and more relaxing jobs. I had little to do but relax and enjoy myself. I did have bouts of nostalgia with the memories of Toastmasters Once Was, but, the toastmasters group I was in snapped me back fast, with their own brand of awesomeness. First and foremost the concept of a service cat was greeted with , “She’s adorable, and what a neat idea. You’ll have to give a speech about that sometime.” My brain almost broke with the acceptance.

It turns out that there is at least one, but I think two, service animal users. They often have a dog there, though the dog doesn’t react well to cats, so there is some coordinating to be done. I introduced myself, and went ahead and mentioned that Toastmasters is going to help me achieve my goal of Miss Wheelchair USA. This was met with excitement. I forgot most of the TM Groups names, but, they are so wonderful, I am going to join.

The speeches were all top bar, as a contest requires. One of the speeches was about the Superhero Inside, and almost made me squee out of habit at the words Batman, Superman, and of course Wonder Woman. This speech had appeal for any age group, and was so well delivered. I laughed, internally I cried just a little, and I laughed again. This speech will go far. The sec9nd place speech was just as fabulous, and it was about the discovery of Service Animals. The speaker talked about the joy and sorrow in sharing your life with an animal and encouraged the audience to get a pet of their own. The third speech was also good, though, it needed more polish and talked about the challenges of industrial labour. Each speech taught something, and each speech had a unique element. It was a hard contest for the judges. I got to count their sheets with the other Timer (Head Timer) and the Head Judge.

I came full circle. I left Toastmasters long ago (Six year!) just after the first round of contests, and I am returning just as it begins. I only felt welcome, even when Sprite spooked a member. She went under the table and rubbed against her legs, the poor woman (in a really snazzy outfit) was startled but again, so very gracious. I did not feel anything but that warmth of belonging.

I am going to start my speaking path over, as I am relearning about delivery from a wheelchair. it will be a challenge, but, how can I live without the joy of Toastmasters? Especially when the people are not discriminatory but accepting, the space is beyond ADA compliant, and, they will support my dreams? Just before I left a suggestion was made about having a Service Animal and Companion Pet gathering, that is a great idea with planning, though it must be done carefully to prevent fights.

I came away feeling energized, and only  grew tired when my wheelchair broke, though that is a post for another time.

Links:

Toastmasters International: Find a club near you, find information, or even renew your membership!

Toasmasters District 23: My home District

Toastmasters at TVC: My Group

How Kateryna Got her Speech Back!

No, I did not lose my voice and I am not Mute.  I have been ruminating over my past of late. Most of it has been painful, but in looking towards my future goals, I found a golden coated diamond nugget in the mush of hatred and disgust. Before I changed my name, before I was all grown up, back when I was a know it all teenager, I was a member of Toastmasters International. Just before I turned 17 my mother and I joined. I remember the years of struggles, speeches, and I realize that is where I learned to be confident.

I am looking for a new group with in Toastmasters, a return if you will to the best part of my childhood, when I began to take shape as an adult. I can think of all of the times I used the skills offered, all of the chances at Confidence that I wouldn’t have know how to handle. I can give an impromptu speech like nobodies business, all because of Toastmasters. Sometimes I try and pigeon myself into my room for life out of fear, but, Toastmasters will take away my excuse for not doing anything.

The excuse that has been winning? I don’t know how to give a speech from a wheelchair. I did recently, but, when I consciously think about the mechanics such as body language I feel panic. That will not due if I am trying to sell my knowledge. Be it my book, be it my experience advocating for my rights, or even trying to advocate for myself, excuses about not knowing how to talk from a sitting position are useless. Toastmasters can give me what I need, and maybe I can give them something only I have to offer.

On top of that, I once set a goal that I would become the best International Speaker with in Toastmasters. How can I do that if I am not actively competing? Silly me, forgetting those all important goals.

so if you are in TI, see you soon. I’ll be speaking confidently again in no time!

By the way, I had achieved my CTM and was one speech shy of my ATM Bronze for those curious toastmasters. I see the program has changed, but it looks like a stronger system

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