***To make this clear, this post is dangerous to read.***
I see abuse in its entirety there is no difference in how it is delivered. I will be giving this speech next year to a Royal Commission. I have thought long and hard if posting it here would be to give the impact of it away. I thought to myself there will be those who will not be able to hear what I have to say. Not because they are unwilling but because they are not able to. I make no apologizes for what I am to write or say. My pain goes far to deep to do that.
***If you are to sensitive stop reading now.***
Thank you for this opportunity to allow my voice to be heard. I am extremely humbled to be here, it is an honour to be invited. Though I wish it was under different circumstances. I am under no illusion that as I sit here that the voices will begin to start.
Some will say you have no right to talk in this space.
While others will say you have no idea what you are talking about.
Lastly there will be those who will say you are cancelling women’s voices.
As Levar Burton recently said we are not in a cancel culture, continuing on he said “I think we have a consequence culture and that consequences are finally encompassing everybody in the society.” I kindly ask that you stop take the time and just listen to my story then judge me afterwards. I would also like to acknowledge the courage of my daughter who is also here with me.
Moving on from the Naysayers and Mr. Burton. The consequences towards abusers should be no different to than the suffering of the abused. The actions of the abusers are epidemic in size, it is not exclusive to one demographic. The damage abuse causes lasts a lifetime. Just so we are at the same level of understanding. Abuse is defined as any action that intentionally harms or injures another person.
Abusers don’t care if you have a disability or not, but it does empower them. Abusers don’t care if you are Cis-gendered or Transgender. Abusers don’t care about your age, height, or weight. Plain and simple abusers just don’t care and they never have. They do however, feel it is their right to attack anyone that they assume to have power over. We must also understand that abuse is a learned set of actions. No child is born knowing how to hate. It is learned from others and is conscious choice that we teach the children and they perpetuate it into adulthood recreating the cycle. It has to end somewhere. Though we are here once again talking about it all over again as if it was never talked about in the first place. There are those who will deny that they are even part of the problem. But the truth is in their words and actions.
As a person who enjoys volunteering and has done so for many years. I am board member of the Human Library of Launceston and a member of Engendered Equality. I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with so many different people in all demographics. I have also had the displeasure of knowing that my story is not alone. My story although has been heard countless times, now I am telling it again.
Though this time is different, this time I cannot measure the outcome of telling my story. You see every person who has been abused in one form or another measures their actions to avoid the risk of more abuse. I expect that the abuse I receive on a daily basis will continue for me speaking out to this commission. There are those who wish me to keep my story silent for their comfort is in the shadows. They will dismiss everything I say and even me being here.
My story is a consequence of others actions. It is time for them to face their consequences. It is time for others and myself to drag those actions into the light for all them to be seen. I am only one voice amongst so many before me that include Hanna Gadsby, Rosie Batty, Grace Tame and the list goes on and on. Yet we have not been willing to stop it.
Over the years I have heard such off handed comments as “You should just kill yourself, you freak, you are worthless, you are going to hell, you are the reason for all that is wrong in the world, and my favourite hate the sin love the sinner.” That last one is a classic for passive aggressive religious abuse and I have heard it far to often. You must understand that I own and operate a website designed to combat the lies and misinformation about being Transgender and Gender Dysphoria. No one should have to create a website to defend their existence. Yet I saw the need and I did so for those who are younger that they might not face the abuse I have all my life. People need to learn that they cannot keep running from the facts when they don’t like them.
In 2018 the Launceston Examiner newspaper published an article about myself. The comments that followed on the Examiner’s Facebook page were indicative of abuse. The Examiner neglected to police and remove abusive comments. Some of that abuse came from those that I had helped during difficult times in their lives. One of the sad facts about today’s society is that there are those who attempt to hide behind their computers in a false hope of anonymity. Where they feel it is their right to express beliefs regardless of the lack of evidence to support their accusations. Some have even gone to the point of being bigoted. Knowing what I know now about those people, I would not change what I did to help them. I helped them because it was the right thing to do, it is too bad that they have never learned those lessons. But the Examiner is not alone there are some mainstream media outlets that far worse they fan the flames of abuse and hate to make money. Yet we accept this as we have been conditioned to accept it. I know that is a hard pill to swallow the bitter truth always is.
Since the conception of my grandmother there has not been one generation of our family that has not been abused in one form or another, I am no different nor is my youngest daughter. I do not speak only for myself alone. I also speak for voices that cannot be heard or who have lost their lives to the abuser’s actions. I have my daughter’s permission to mention her story. Her story is also one of abuse in form of Sexual Assault. She is too young to sit here and describe her abuse without it reopening wounds. So, I speak for my daughter as well.
Please forgive me if I get a little emotional and use improper language at times. This is not going to be easy to talk about. But it must be done because as a society we have chosen not to stop it.
In 2016 I first spoke up about this type of abuse in my first published manuscript. I was not prepared for the cost of telling the truth about the past. You see my family is amazingly good at hiding secrets. They taught it to the youth, generation after generation. They also become angered when those secrets are exposed. My grandmother is part of the stolen generations in the United States. She has long passed from us. Her abuse is also part of my story. Some even refuse to see it even as it stairs them in the face, father.
While my grandmothers abuse is not because she was disabled it was because she was Native American and a Woman. Her abuse was sickening it lasted her entire life. My siblings and I were purposely cut off from her by our abuser. I did not even know what she looked like until last year. She passed away when I was 12 years old, I was never allowed met her. I never spoke to her on the phone. She passed away without my father at her side in the hospital. He was not allowed to be there by my mother. I remember the yelling and arguments at that time. That year was very rough in our household. You see my father can be a good man, though his willingness to hide and turn away from the truth is, was, and will forever be his own downfall. We are estranged because I told the truth of my story for the world to hear. Because I am talking to all of you listening, I will continue pay a price for telling the truth. This is also a form of abuse.
This is where I need to explain a small bit about my mother who was the abuser in our family. There were times when my mother was a kind and loving person.
I miss that person. Though sadly for the most part she was not. I feel looking back most of my family were in a form of Stockholm Syndrome with her. That means we appeased her by sympathising with her to avoid her attacking us directly. Though when our backs were turned, we were the target and the others that once were the target, now joined in. In a way it is a very sick and twisted game to pit each family member against another. We are not a close family. It took me moving a half a world away to see what was going on. Let me make this clear there is no excuse for abuse in any form.
The cost of abuse in my life has been monumental resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and four attempts of suicide. All of them before the age of 22. My first attempt was when I was 12, my final attempt was when I was 21. To many that is just a number. But it is my reality and a horrific set of memories that lead up to each attempt. My community in the US have a 55% suicide rate. While in Australia we have a 30%, we are doing something right, but we have a long way to go. But it is in jeopardy thanks to the religious rights bill and the arguments that surround it. Make no mistake that bill will be used to justify abuse. Not only the LGBT+ communities but all women as well.
At one stage in my young daughter’s life, she battled the very same suicidal feelings for the abuse she suffered and not being listened to by the proper authorities. It broke my heart to see my child in such pain. What many people don’t understand about suicide, is that it is an attempt for some escape an overload of pain. This time it was in my child’s eyes that were pleading for help.
One time my father once said to me after one of my attempts that I needed to reach deep down inside and find that little spark of hope and use it to light a fire.
That was the only thing my father said about my attempts. My mother said nothing and was not with my father when he picked me up from the hospital after my last attempt. But I made a choice to not be lackadaisical with my daughter’s pain. We are very close because I said to her in her darkest hours “You are listened to, you are cared for, you are loved, and you matter.” I also took the time to find her the best help I could. To this day I have never stopped being my daughters champion nor has her brothers. Sometimes the right words at the right time make a difference. But they have to be backed by actions.
To be honest, the words from my father were from a person who I thought never lost all hope and but were as empty as a lake in drought. They were the words from someone who can see the sun on a bright day. I did not see the sun and I could not find a spark until I was much older and was far away from my mother. Please don’t misunderstand me I do love my mother and I wish she could have gotten the help she needed. But to her she never had a problem and none of us were equipped to tell her she did.
After that last failed attempt, I thought to myself “look you can’t even do this right.” If you did not know you can even be conditioned enough to be you own abuser. Did you know a person can even be driven to suicide? My sisters don’t even know my full story. I believe this is the first time they are hearing more of it. I was once told by one of my sisters who heard only a fraction of my story “If we would have known what was going on we would have done something”. But that is are just words that people use to comfort themselves as they try to relieve their inactions. It is like sending thoughts and prayers after a mass shooting, it does not mean anything. It will resolve nothing, only to make you feel good about yourself.
They could have never known because I did not matter to them, they are 9 and 11 years older than I am. I also hid the truth from them as I did not think they would listen, I was right. But we don’t talk as I will not stand for their abuse towards me being Transgender. One of them said to me you need to give up your children because you are sick and need help. I stated earlier that abuse is a learned trait. Where did my sisters learn to abuse? Where does the cycle end? It ends with us making a stand to not accept abuse in our lives. To also defend those that are abused, so here I am telling my story again. Though at what cost, I do not know.
I wish that was the only direct result of the abuse in my life. In my youth I abused drugs and became an alcoholic. Why? Because the pain in my life was so great that I needed to be numb to survive. I am now 22 years sober; every day is a victory. To anyone trying to become sober I believe in you, you will succeed. Like I said my family hides secrets well. I used to hide the pain that I was in and could not find a way out of. Then the method of hiding the pain became a trap. Everywhere I looked there where others just like me. Doing the same thing to hide the pain that we could not get rid of. 22 years ago, I woke up one morning and like a light bulb turning on I figured it out. I stopped drinking that day. A lesson I learned far too late, at far too great of a price.
I started to look for the solution. Part of that was starting over in a new life in a new place. I did not think it was going to be in Australia. I did however think that it was going to be in Montana or Alaska. I could hide there and live out my days until I faded away. I did not have any hope.
Though Australia did something for me that I have never felt before. I started to live, I felt alive. For a short time, I lived without the pain of abuse in my life. One of the saddest things we don’t talk about is the conditioning to accept the abuse as normal. I did allow my abuser back to be in my life for a short time here in Australia. But I made a stand to stop her abuse and paid a price for that choice. In 2007 we returned to the US to visit family and friends. My mother shunned and ignored my family and I during that visit. She passed away in 2016. Though I did find peace in forgiving her a day before she passed away in a phone call. But I will not forget, I don’t get that luxury.
Though meanwhile I ended an abusive relationship at the same time. Sometimes you have to take your freedom back. We must remember that abuse is not just physical. Sometimes others can see it when we cannot. Some abusers start very slowly then when you are looking back you are running from a freight train.
Since we are here to talk about abuse and being disabled. Let us begin to talk about my disabilities. I like so many others distain the use of the word Disabled. I also don’t like to dwell upon the past and the actions of others. But for this moment in time, I will describe my challenges and the actions of others as a result of them. I survive with chronic pain, severe dyslexia, PTSD, and some might say being Transgender is a disability even though they are wrong. Let’s start with the simplest one of my challenges and the direct abuse as a result.
Chronic pain, if you don’t know much about it you are not alone. Even the medical community is somewhat perplexed about why people suffer from this. There is no magical cure to stop the pain just different ways to live with it. But for me they don’t even know why it is there in the first place. All we are told is to try this drug or the next each with their own side effects. Do this or do that. When CBD a natural way to ease the pain is a controlled substance.
Mine started when I was ten years old and the pain has not stopped since then. I remember it like it was yesterday. You see pain and trauma can leave an imprint on one’s mind that does not fade with time. We see this in those who suffer from PTSD. I was asleep in my bed when I was awoken in pain that I had never known before. My knees began to feel like hot iron spikes were being driven into them. I cried out hoping my parents would come to my rescue. I woke the next morning with the equitant of a hangover and was shipped off to school. This was done without a second thought to the residual pain I was in. Even though I told my mother what was happening. Just so you know wilful neglect is abuse.
Chronic pain is a constant companion in my life even to this day. The older I get the worse it gets. Even as I sit here talking to you, I am dealing with a 5/10 pain threshold. Though I have learned over the years not to talk about it. As the results are that some people who were in my life used to mock and abuse me for it. Even in front of our children.
As a child I never received proper medical attention for my chronic pain. All I was given was “Suck it up, it can’t be that bad, Stop complaining, and take some pills” and the list goes on and on. Though one time I was finally taken to see a doctor where I was told you need to exercise more. I replied back, you do understand the more I exercise the more pain I am in. He gave me two knee braces even though I told him the pain only started there but was sometimes in my hips and lower back. I was ignored.
In that same appointment this doctor told my mother that it might be psychosomatic. That I might just be trying to get out of chores and school. To which my mother took that as gospel. No further medical attention was given to me about the chronic pain. My mother would only repeat what the doctor said with a twist, “It’s all in your head”.
But the pain is different now it is even in my back, elbows, hands, and feet it is all over my body. There are times it hurts to breathe. There is not a day that I am not in pain. I have very limited energy because of the pain. There are days that when my children and others are not looking, I fall to pieces due to the pain. But I press on, after all I am a parent… Like I said my family hides even pain well.
What is worse is as an adult allowed myself to be in an abusive relationship with a person that said the same things. I even had one person in my life say to me “You’re not a woman, you have never given birth so you don’t know pain.” I have never compared my pain to anyone else’s nor have I ever compared my story of abuse to anyone else’s. They are exclusively mine and I wish them on no one.
In 2020 I started to have a new health problem that I thought was an escalation of my chronic pain. For the first time in my life, I felt pain that I can only describe as a 10/10. I started to have the shakes and tremors. I was also falling down for no reason. I could be just walking with my children and the oldest one would catch me before I fell over. I did not even know I was falling. I had to use a cane to walk. At times I thought I was going to die because the pain because was so high. I sold our car because I was fearful of causing an accident or worse killing someone. I take responsibility for my actions.
But that is not the abuse, that came from my ex-partner who kept telling our children that I was faking it. That I was trying to get money from the government. To this day I have never applied for a disability support pension. I am still able to be employed even though I am in constant pain. My mind is as sharp as it ever was, even though my body fails me at times. Abuse does not have to be direct to the person it can be done indirectly. Causing a person to have to defend their disability is abusive. Using children is despicable.
I am very fortunate that I have a fantastic Doctor. Who figured out what was going on with the issue of Shakes, Tremors, and Falling over. Who knew that Vitamin B was so important? It appears that my body does not get it from food now. I thought great another reason my body hates me. You see that last line I just said is also conditioning of self-abuse. It takes a long time to get out of that way of thinking. Let us move on to the next challenge.
When I was 12 years old a problem became prevalent in my life, it was Dyslexia. For the record I am Dyslexic since birth. I have always had a learning disability as long as I can remember.
When I was in sixth grade when I could not do the school work required of me. In fact, I could hardly read. I knew what every word meant by itself but if put in a sentence I could not understand it. The words had very limited meaning because they moved or got lost to a point where what I was reading made no sense. I had limited or poor reading comprehension.
What also compounded this problem was when I would be required to read in class. Reading out loud was one of my biggest fears because doing that made me sound like I had a stuttering problem. Raising my level of anxiety through the roof. But this was not the abuse. The abuse that I have lived with all my life due to my Dyslexia only started in those years. That abuse was perpetrated by people I trusted, cared about, and even loved with all my heart.
Throughout my early school years, I was dubbed too hard to deal with. Teachers would use me to make an example of, with such lines as “See if you don’t do your homework you will end up like…(ME)” or worse “Let’s see what the failure has not done today” when turning in homework. There were also times when the math teacher would have the class exchange papers for grading a snap test. As that teacher would collect the papers to note the grades. When he would see mine, he would say out loud “Well this is not a surprise another failing grade, by miss Robins.” This also emboldened students to also abuse me both physically and verbally.
I was once told by my father that if I got into a fight I had to win, but I was not allowed to start them. Though I could fight the pain in my body would peak higher than it was worth. Meaning the pain of getting assaulted by kids in school was less pain than if I fought back. There were teachers who would watch me being attacked. When I would ask why they did not stop it they would say “I did not see anything” even though they were 3 meters away. There was also a principle who would call me DRK (Dirty Rotten Kid). Think of the cost of that to a child’s mental health. I used to return home hiding my bruises from the attacks. It was not any better at home, I just did not want to get into any more trouble for not winning.
Then both of my parents would verbally attack me for not doing better in school. Now telling your child that they need to improve is not an attack or abuse. But throwing things, yelling at them, or even making them fearful is abusive. Demanding of your child to improve that has a learning disability without providing support and tools is also abusive.
I hid report cards or learned to doctor them to hide the real grades. I got caught oh did I pay for that choice. I even thought I could do nothing right. But they did not care to listen longer than five minutes when I did ask for help, I felt like I did not matter. They did not even talk to the right people to help me with Dyslexia, I felt devalued. I was in 9th grade when my parents tried to finally get me some help for my Dyslexia. But for some reason this one-time they took action they did it completely wrong. They found a private education group who promised to help. But my parents did not do their homework and it was a scam. I sat in a room with other children just like me and did nothing for a whole year. But I was reminded all the time by my mother that it was my fault that she had to get her first job. Because she had to send me to a private school. That it was my fault for being Dyslexic. If you did not know that is abusive.
When I did return home, I would just to sit in my room all alone and build things out of Popsicle sticks to avoid being around her. People wonder why by the age of 16 I have already tried three times to commit suicide. In looking back now and I am so lucky I did not know how to do it correctly. Being free from abuse is the most enjoyable moments of breathing and life. If I had to describe the feeling, it is like enjoying a cool night’s air as the scent of fresh flowers drift by.
When I was 17, I left school because of one teacher who said something to me. As I sat down in the front of the class because she was going to teach something about history. Which I love history I can’t get enough of it. I guess that is why I spent years learning about it later in life at university. But what was said is very reminiscent of history itself. It has forever been burned in my mind. “You can’t sit there. People like you can sit in the back.” a disgusting historical statement, isn’t it? As I moved, she continued to berate me “The only reason you are here is so that the school can get more money for you warming a seat. When you are 18, we will kick you out of school and the only thing you will be is a bum on the street.”
Those were the words I needed to hear. So, I walked out of the school right then and there with that teacher yelling at me to get back in her classroom. As I drove away from school I pulled over on the highway and broke down in tears and anger. It was not going to be any better at home.
Quitting school was not acceptable and the abuse that followed in that conversation was done regardless of the reasons why. I was told to return to that school and apologize then ask them if I could finish or I had to get a job. I was lost and confused to say the least. I felt worthless and did not know what to do with my life. I had no education or viable skills. Going back to that school and begging was not going to get me the help I needed. I went back to school just not the way my dad wanted me to and without help from my parents. I had to learn how to read with the help from a couple of university professors who are heroes in my life. Even though my life was still falling down around me. The effort that those two people gave, started me on a journey of education that has not ended.
In my last relationship my ex-partner would make fun of my Dyslexia. For example, to this day I cannot read Fox-n-socks by Dr. Suess. As a parent reading to your children is one of the biggest joys in life. But it is also still one of my biggest fears, yet I sit here now facing that fear again. Fox-n-socks is a reminder of what I used to go through in my younger school years with words moving and stuttering included.
Sometimes the abuse only changes and so does the abuser. When I would try to read fox-n-socks to my young children my ex-partner would laugh at me as I stumbled over the words. When I would come out of the child’s room the abuse from that person would leave me angry and upset to the point that I could not even look at them. I even considered trying to numb my feelings again. I was broken hearted that the person that I loved, hated me. But I remained sober because no one was going to take that victory away from me.
One day I suggested to that partner that I wanted to write a book. This was a dream of mine to be a writer. The abuse that followed led me to deleting the 40,000 words that I was up to on my first book. Just for context the average book contains 80,000 to 120,000 words. Crushing my dream at the time and my hopes. Then this person continued with the comments and abuse of my dream for months. While laughing about it to others. It damaged our relationship in ways I prefer not to go into.
To give you an idea what my dyslexia is like. Take a pair of glasses and smear some oil or grease on them and try to read a couple of paragraphs of something you have never read before. Then tell someone what it meant. You see I mix up B’s & D’s, 6’s & 9’s, I’s & J’s, 1’s & I’s, Words move, Sentences lose words and meanings, and the list goes on. What an average person could read in five minutes would take me an hour. But then the result might be I would not understand what I read. Don’t even get me started on proper punction be happy with full stops and commas. Believe me when I say my poor editor.
Let me make this clear the abuse I receive for being dyslexic has remained in my life until 6 years ago. My issues with Dyslexia have not gotten better and people still feel the right to make fun of dyslexia. Some people would think that as you get older things like this improve, they’re wrong. Because no matter how much I worked on improving my life there always seemed to be that one person to drag me down until I closed the door on them. They can hide from my words all they want; they don’t matter in my life any longer. I have moved past them. I have achieved the goals they once mocked. Things improve at the moment that you say “NO, I AM WORTH MORE THAN YOUR ABUSE.”
I have worked very hard to read and write the best I can to even become a twice published Author. I am currently working on seven different books at the same time. This is part of my learning issues which can also be that Dyslexia is linked to being part of the Autism spectrum. I have learned to write my books using some of the best software available. Understand that I have never held one of my works in my hands and read it cover to cover. It once took me about 30 hours to read a book. I still have a hard time understanding what I read. As an Author I use software to read back to me that I have written which solves that problem.
The world is not designed for people who have dyslexia. Recently we had the Census it was not designed for people with dyslexia in mind. Worse than that normal life sometimes mocks us. I was once pulled over by a police officer in Launceston. He asked me for my driver’s license and then said can you read it to me. I looked at him and said “no”. He was shocked and asked why. In a kind response I said I am severely dyslexia the font on that license is so small I am not able to read it. He told me what was wrong and let me go get it fixed. My license was out of date, the problem is that the date sits on a clear field with black writing and a very small typeface. I have bumped into him since then and we have had a few laughs about that day. He told me that day changed him for the better. Now he no longer asks people to read their driver’s license. The world is changing for people who have dyslexia but it is slow in progress. But it is still faster than those who have not learned it is not their right to abuse.
As I said earlier people who are abused look for ways not to be abused. When I was also 12, I was in the Boy Scouts. I loved boy scouts it was time that I could get away from my normal life and my mother. Which kept getting worse with every year. But my learning issues also became a badge of shame for me. I had a very hard time not being able to focusing on what needed to be done all the time. But also, not being able to understand what is being told for me to do or what I had to read. I also use to be mocked for being the last person in the troop to achieve badges and ranks. But that did not matter as much as I was away from my mother.
Remember I have Chronic pain, we were on a 50 mile / 80 kms hike in five days. I don’t walk fast, every movement in my knees hurts. Add on top of that a backpack with supplies, I was in a lot of pain and slow. My troop leader while a great man, he did not know what was going on in my life or behind closed doors of our home. My parents hid so much, if it did not make my mum look good, she did not talk about it. So, let me make this clear, home was not safe, school was not safe, and the Boy Scouts was limited in its safety this story is only going to get worse.
Due to the abuse, I received in my life. I have a group of words that I teach my children not to say for any reason towards anyone. One of those words had an impact on my young life with such negativity that I made this rule. I promised myself that if I ever had children, I would never allow them to say it. That word is loser, it was said to me by a person who would later in life apologise for his actions growing up together. I was his target because I was different. I say only “Target” because it is out of respect, he humbled himself to apologise. I say this again for everyone to hear, you never know what is going on behind closed doors. Even I did not know what was going on behind his. Matt called me one day out of the blue and told me how sorry he was for his actions of the past. This was an international call he tracked me down to call me. He really did humble himself on that call. A year later Matt ended his life. I found out later that he was abused by his father. We were adults now but he could not find another way out of his childhood pain; I wish I would have known maybe I could have helped. I wish he would have never been abused. Not one single person deserves to be abused. There is no excuse for abuse.
Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Yes, I am Transgender and I have been since birth. I identify as a Transwoman. No, it is not a choice. No, I am not trying to erase anyone’s Cis-gender identity that is just asinine. Being Transgender is not a disability. But I do have Gender Dysphoria which is something different it is a catch-all term for a collection of symptoms which include but not limited to stress, anxiety, and depression. Remember I told you about my past suicide attempts before I was 22. Having Gender Dysphoria did not help in preventing that. Nor does just talking it out. What has been shown to help is proper medical intervention. But making this clear we cannot get that type of help in Tasmania. We have to fly interstate to get that medical attention at a cost because it is not covered. Plus the gatekeepers of Tasmania will not let my community receive proper medical attention.
Gender Dysphoria is a disability unlike being Transgender. Because it impacts your day-to-day life. It is mostly curable; all people have to do is just stop the abusive words and accusations. Stop placing road blocks to allow people to receive proper medical attention. With these simple acts, lives will improve. With Gender Dysphoria you can have a little or a large problem with the symptoms. Mine can be difficult at times but I deal with it. My education has led me to know what is going on and how to work with it. But others are not that fortunate.
Now that we see the Elephant let’s look at the scars. You see I was 6 years old when A+B did not equal C for me. Meaning that my body and mind did not agree, if you have never felt it you don’t know what it is like.
I told no one because I too was scared to. I was too young to know what being Transgender was, let alone Gender Dysphoria. It was the 70’s and 80’s this was not discussed. Just to be blunt, not one Transgender person wakes up one day and says “I want something chopped off.” That is a totally different problem called body dysmorphia. Parents back then did not know this stuff. There was no indoctrination back then and there is none now.
Furthermore, it was not common for it to be discussed in medical circles. We have come a long way since then. We know how to resolve most of the issues with Gender Dysphoria. But we don’t do it because there are those who would rather abuse those in need of help than allow them to have a good life.
When I was 10 years old my mother lost her father. The once kind person changed into someone else, my abuser. When I was 12, I was dealing with the emergence of Gender Dysphoria. When I told my mother, what was going on I was greeted with contempt and conversion therapy… I will not continue to call it Therapy it is nothing but Torture. They use the word therapy to make it sound official when in reality it is nothing more than snake oil with a traveling sales man. They also use the word therapy to make themselves feel better about the torture they give to others. This is abuse make no mistake about it. If you support it then what does that make you?
I know recently we have heard many horror stories all over the world about Conversion Torture and what it has done to people in the LGBT+ Communities. My experience is no different but it is part of the abuse I faced for my disabilities. Being punished for not being able to see the sun through the clouds of depression and anxiety is abuse. Being punished for having Gender Dysphoria is abuse.
Since we are talking about abuse let’s talk about my experience with religious conversion torture. It was the worst abuse that I have ever felt in my young life. The trust that a child (me) had in my mother was irrevocably broken on the first day. It has shaped me in ways I wish I could undo. I wake up at 3 am almost every single night because of what happened behind closed doors.
I had to explain what I was feeling to a complete stranger. Whom had no right to hear my issues, let alone was not qualified to act as a therapist. For context my mother just outed me to someone I did not know. This person was a so-called religious leader who gave instructions to both myself and my mother. That I needed to pray three times a day and go without food on Sundays so that God would take away my problems. He told my mother; she was to go through the house and remove popular music and no radio. Limit what was on TV for me and be careful about what books and toys I had. She was also told to do random spot checks on me. Apparently to her this meant throughout the night while I was sleeping. In this first interview I was told that if I could not do what I was told, that responsibilities would be taken away from me at church. Because I was unclean.
I watched my music collection get thrown in the fire barrel at our house. I could say nothing and I had no right to do so. MTV was banned so was any other questionable tv shows like MASH all because of Klinger, Boy George, and David Bowie. Room inspections were where my mum would go through my room with a rake when I was not there. Leaving it in one pile and making me put it all away. Before my father saw it. This was done to make sure I was not hiding anything. Every day I was asked did I say my prayers and if she did not believe me, I had to do it in front of her. It appears that praying was more important than learning to read.
On Sundays both my mother and I had to meet with this religious leader to give feedback. If the problem was still there, I was not praying correctly that it was all my fault that God was not listening to me. Gender Dysphoria does not work like this, nor does being Transgender.
What does a child think at these requests? Do I ask that my body matches my thoughts or that my thoughts match my body? When I asked for clarification all I received was more abuse not only from my mother and from this so-called religious leader as well. Can you comprehend the amount of Anxiety and Depression before and after every meeting? If I was brought to tears, I could not do it in front of my mother or this so-called religious leader. The abuse that would follow, (sigh) it was better to suck it up and break down at a later time. My mother did not tell my father what was going on. As I said if it did not make my mum look good, she did not do it. My dad thought the sun shined out of her ass, even to this very day.
This went on for two years until my mother got bored with it. I also lied and said it was working. I was lucky that it was only pray-away, room inspections, fasting, and verbal abuse. There are far worse things that could have happened. I am glad that this so-called leader did not know about the other forms of torture.
What made this even more distressing is that in my last relationship the person almost had me convinced to return to this type of pseudo-therapy. I even came so close is to have meetings with them. But like a flood of memories after being told the very exact same thing just by a different person I remembered the trauma. It led this time to education and common sense taking over. After making a stand for my own mental health I was told that my sins were going to be my undoing.
There is no sin for just existing. As a historian you would be hard pressed to prove to me that the book you would be quoting from was an exact transcript of the person it was alleged to have come from. As 2000 years’ worth of translations and political pressures have ruined what might have been the truth. Yet many who support this torture don’t care about the facts of the harm it causes. People wonder why I laugh when I am told I am going to hell. I have been in hell every day since I was first abused. Live with that for a while.
One thing needs to be clear; I was not a perfect child. I acted out a lot. You see sometimes bad attention is better than no attention at all. It was the only times my parent’s paid attention. For my mental health we are going to move on.
Last let’s talk about the residual and flow on effects most commonly known as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). A large number of the society assumes that PTSD is only attributed to returning soldiers. While their suffering has brought it to the forefront of people learning about it. What they need to understand that any person who has suffered any type of trauma can be at risk. There is no time line for the onset of PTSD. I did not start having issues with mine until I was about 5 years into a bad relationship. I also did not know that so much pain resided deep down inside.
When we are looking at how mine presents itself, I struggle to enjoy a full night of sleep without being woken up every night at or about 3am with a deep fear of someone entering my room and ripping off my sheets then yelling at me. In my last relationship I was subjected to being hit and kicked as I slept as well. I would wake up with bruises and sore in places that were not that way when I went to bed. The gripping fear of something happening to me when I slept is frustrating to say the least. When we left the abuse 6 years ago, I started policing who entered my little family’s life. I would also go on dates and see traits that reminded me of the last relationship, panic attacks got to love those. I do not enter my kitchen at home without making sure that it is safe. It only takes one plate to mess with your head, try several.
I like so many others would love to be in a relationship. But the problem with that is the time it takes to explain I am still somewhat broken becomes more problematic than it is worth. Even though at my age all those looking for relationships come broken in one form or another. But no one wants to face that reality. Thanks to my education and understanding can see the issues that underline the stresses and how the abuse has impacted my life. Though it does not mean that I can stop them or even remove the overall impact of them. Any person entering my life has to deal with the issue and that now I am mostly a stay-at-home person.
For the most part trusting people can be difficult. There is now an overwhelming desire not to enter a relationship that reminds me of the past actions of others. But policing every little detail is tiresome and becomes more and more not worth the effort of it. It would take someone who is very exceptional to enter my life.
Let’s not even get into the abuse a person would receive at being in a relationship with a person like myself or a person with a disability.
I was asked to think about some suggestions to bring to your attention on ways to help resolve the problem of abuse. As a society it’s hard to admit the truth, yet here we are again. It is even harder for us as individuals to admit that we allow some of these monsters to exist. Or that we are the monsters. I see abuse in its entirety it does not matter if that abuse is toward one group or another it is all abuse. I struggled with bringing something new to the table as a suggestion. It has been said over and over again, but we are still asking the same damn question. Never reviewing let alone acting upon previous answers. How many more times do we have to say stop abusing us.
What I really have are some comments. I feel what is lacking is Accountability, the system is broken and so are the abusers and the abused as a direct result. It is a never-ending cycle, but we do not want to hear that. We want words that comfort us to continue to be blind just enough to get by. Afterall it is not you being abused, right.
I have an emetise amount of respect for Grace Tame & Rosie Batty. These two women had to make a stand just to drag something into the light that should have never been allowed to be in the darkness to hide in the first place. The sad thing is that most of society will forget their efforts and the reasons why they needed to make a stand. Let me make this clear, those of us who have been abused will never know the luxury of forgetting. It is forever burned into our minds as our bodies pay the price.
Let me expand upon that. We currently have one of the best healthcare systems in the world but it is constantly under the threat of attack by those we elect. They demonize those who need assistance in many forms. They trivialize the suffering of those who have been abused. Meanwhile some of the elected try to convince the public that the disadvantaged are taking more than their fair share. Or that there is even a group that is making it unfair in sports.
Some of them feel it is their right to not only attack others with misinformation and outright lies. They use media services to perpetuate this. All in hopes of gaining support from a certain subsection of society. Ignoring the fact that their actions will hurt and are abusive. Then they turn a blind eye to abuse that they have created.
If you strip away their hate, misinformation, and lies. What are we as the public left with? They also feel it is their right to raise cost on healthcare directly impacting on everyone to receive affordable care. This also includes mental health services which are not covered by Medicare. Meanwhile they can easily afford it. While those of us with disabilities suffer. Let’s not even start talking about the poverty line and the willingness to keep people at it.
But that is not the worst of the abuse. Then add on top of that because of the actions of certain elected individuals. Those that support them are happy to demand that rights of others be removed. They want laws to be changed so they can feel better about their abusive actions. They are championed on by those elected individuals. We argue about the issue of conversion therapy even though major medical organizations throughout the world have already stated that it has no real benefit and is akin to torture. If I have to spell it out for people Torture is Abuse. We don’t allow it in war time thanks to the Geneva convention. So why do we argue about it being practiced in general society.
I cannot tell you everything that I have gone through in my life at the hands of my abusers. Some of it I am not legally allowed to mention. This is because the legal system protects the abusers, while allowing the abused to suffer. We allow monsters to avoid the consequences of the justice system. Some to return to Rome. Where they hide behind the walls of a corrupt system that has emboldened the monsters in the first place. We must not accept a one-hour nonmandatory classes to show you can be a better person. We must hold the monsters accountable.
Then we have sporting heroes that are actually monsters. For example, Margrett Court and Israel Folau who feels it is their right to attack the LGBT+ communities. By the way there are those in our communities that are disabled as well. Then we have countless others that abuse their wives and children. They even expect that there be no long-term consequences for their actions. But we continue to leave a stadium with a name of an abuser on it. We even shower these people with accolades.
Them with an army of supporters that include the Australian Christian Lobby who should be listed as a dangerous hate group no different than the KKK. They fully and openly support conversion pseudo-therapy and any other attacks on the LGBT+ community. What about a Murdoc newspaper that dedicates a whole section to attack one part of society almost on a daily basis? What have they done lately to lift society rather than tear down? When is their abuse going to stop? When will they fully be held accountable for their actions? Or are we just too scared to face the monsters we have supported in the past? As a member of some of the world’s most persecuted societies I am always amazed that there are those who claim to be (use air quotes) “good” people yet are willing to abuse.
I am not here to say woe-as-me to you, I am not that type of a person. Yes, my story is not one of happy trails. I suffered a lot of abuse in many different forms. I am here however to say to those who cannot be here and to the doubters, look at me, hear my words. I am Dyslexic and I am a Published Author with a higher education. I speak multiple languages. I am a person who deals with chronic pain and I have stood on top of glaciers. Even though every step wracked my body in pain. I am Transwoman with Gender Dysphoria and I am a safe person ask my Friends, Children, and their friends.
Finally, I am a survivor of abuse and to any child who can hear me you are worth every breath, you are listened to, and you matter. It may get dark at times but life is better with you in it. Keep talking. There are those of us who have your back it will get better. We will make sure of it. I challenge this commission to demand the same. Things only improve at the moment that we say NO I AM WORTH MORE THAN YOUR ABUSE.
To the abusers, we see you, we know your secrets that you hide, we know your excuses, and we know the lies you tell. We will turn on the light in the darkness and there will be no peace for you. We will make it difficult for some of you to be re-elected. We will demand accountability as a consequence for your actions. Finally, to my abusers, I got up after you knocked me down. I succeed where you said I will not. I stand here proving your lies wrong. I am holding the light now. I will not be silent, there is no excuse for abuse and there is no excuse for you. Time for you has run out!
Thank you for your time.
***If you need to talk to someone after reading what I have written please do so. If you are being abused in any form get help now. Freedom from abuse opens a world that you have been missing. If you are in Australia below is the links to get help. Don’t second guess yourself trust your gut get out and start to live. I will not play games with you, it is going to be hard and your heart will break. Sometimes having to start all over is worth it. Kintsugi Pottery is the art of repairing pottery with gold. Do it for yourself repair with gold, you are worth it.***
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I am sorry I have children and I don’t just give out my mailing address. Is there something I can help you with?