Tag Archive | crime

Going at it alone: more lessons from Josh Duggar

josh-duggar-reason-for-abuseRecently the Duggar family went on the record in an effort to lay to rest the scandal concerning Josh Duggar’s molestation of his sisters when he was fourteen years old.

In the interview the Duggar parents admit that Josh informed them of his behaviour three times across 2002 and 2003 and that each time the family decided it was best to deal with it from within the family boundaries instead of going outside of it.  When that did not work on the first attempt, they went to their church for help.  On the third time in 2003 they sent Josh to a faith-based camp for help.  But in all three cases it was dealt with entirely from the tiny confines of their close-knit community instead of informing the law and allowing the state to step in.

In 2012 I wrote a report for Yahoo Voices concerning rape and incest within the insular orthodox Jewish communities, a report that was re-posted into this blog before Yahoo dismantled Yahoo Voices.  In that report I called for an end to victim-blaming in religious communities.  Sadly with the Duggars his victims are also defending his behaviour, no doubt partially because the Duggar parents are in denial themselves regarding just how serious sexual violence is.

Until we start treating sexual crimes as serious, until we stop making excuses for those who violate the physical integrity of other people, and until we genuinely punish the perpetrators of these crimes while providing a strong and protective support system for those hurt by them then of course we cannot expect to stem this epidemic of violence and sexual violence.  Even in 2015 we treat rape as “no big deal.”  Women and men both do this, including victims of assault and sexual assault.  We keep making excuses and telling those hurt to shut up and “get over it.”

Now as a healed survivor, I am the first to say that experiencing assault and sexual assault does NOT BREAK YOU.  It doesn’t taint you.  It doesn’t make you less of anything.  In fact it becomes an opportunity for transcendence, to grow into something greater and be a better person — no different than any other form of hardship.  This isn’t lessening the horror of the experience; what I suffered WAS HORRIFYING.  A healthy human being MUST BE HORRIFIED by violence and especially sexual violence.  At the same time, our societies have this habit of not only dismissing survivors when we speak up (been there!), but also treating us as the walking dead.  So we are dismissed first for daring to speak up and second when the wounds heal — as they must heal.

It’s a culture that favours those who rape, beat, and kill and treats those who receive this treatment as surplus population who had better just die off quickly so our societies can pretend there’s not a problem.

Most alarming to me is the matter of the insular community.  Why?  Because I see its danger as someone whose insular community made it easy to continue these acts of violence and to continue dismissing me when I sought help.  Yet, unlike the Duggar girls, I went to adults for help — but they wouldn’t  help because of the insular community.  It was easier to call me “evil sorceress” or “seductress” (right because four year old girls instinctively know how to seduce men 10x their age into sex?) than place that phone call to social services that would have taken me to safety.

The larger problem is therefore not Josh Duggar — a man who doesn’t deserve to have his children grow up with him — but the communities themselves.  We can only help people in need when we go beyond our castle walls and allow the larger secular community to intervene, to enforce laws written to protect children and provide safe home environments for everyone.

Yes, our governments are not perfect; there has never been a truly perfect government.  But when we fail to trust others beyond the boundaries of our small communities we set ourselves up for exactly the epidemic of violence and sexual violence plaguing our societies.  Protecting the community becomes more important than what is right and just for the people being hurt.  This was the case at Penn State and it is the case with the Duggar family.

What is your take on the Josh Duggar matter?  Reply to this post with your comments below and let’s get a serious conversation going!


Aisin-gioro Pu Yi Is Dead

1922 at the age of 16. Emperor in name only.

One hundred years ago, I lived in the Forbidden City.  From 7th February 1906 to 17th October 1967, my spirit was known by the name Aisin-gioro Pu Yi, the Xuan Tong Emperor.  I was the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, a life that was used against me early in this life, as if being reborn as Laurel A. Rockefeller was merely a continuation of who and what I was before.

Can it be any wonder that in “The Ghosts of the Past” many of my characters have exactly the same problem, continuing in each new incarnation as if they still lived as each previous self?


I remember one of the earliest rituals done to me as a little girl, memories burned into my mind because they were so hurtful.  In a circle of candles a small Manchu-style crown was placed.  The dagger used to cut my throat just below the left ear was covered in Chinese characters in a message conveying some sort of evil purpose.  In the ritual, my former life was evoked many times.  I was still responsible for my mistakes, they said, mistakes born out of a very different time and situation.  On my head they placed guilt, claiming that I was responsible for the millions slaughtered in my name as the Emperor of Manchukuo — a paper emperor.

I was a coward, unwilling or unable to stand up for myself, to counter the relentless humiliations and bullying.  On one hand, people flattered me with “wan sui,” the traditional salute calling for an emperor to reign ten thousand years.  They bowed and called me by honorific titles.  But at the same time, they bullied me and demeaned me, constantly playing mind games and controlling me.

My spirit never broke, but I found myself very lost.


Evoking the past made me start this life feeling just as lost as I was in the 1940s.  That was by design, of course, to make me think that God hated me for “letting” the Japanese commit their crimes.  As if I could really be responsible for the concentration camps across Manchuria.  As if my hand slaughtered the countless civilians in 1937 in Nanjing.  Guilt, sorrow, despair.  How can a three year old be yoked with such as these?

As emperor of Manchukuo

On top of this, my church called me “evil sorceress” for saying no when my body was sexually violated.  What their logic was, I cannot understand.  No three year old is a sexual wanton!


Still through these dark times, I remember feeling as if someone watched over me in a truly kind and loving way.  In my dreams, I saw him in the guise of a medieval knight like in the stories of King Arthur, my own appearance like a fine English princess locked up in a tower like in the storybooks.

In my dreams, my “prince charming” told me all was not lost, that I was me, not Pu Yi.  He said he did not know where I was, but he would find me and rescue me from my despair.  He said he loved me.  He said he has always loved me across every life, every incarnation.  Fear not!  Believe in tomorrow!  Believe in love and true love’s kiss.  For he would never stop searching for me until he found me — even unto the ends of the world.


I only heard him in my dreams.  I only knew him on the deepest levels of my mind.  But he never left me.  I still feel him in my dreams.  Only this time I know he lives in England.  This time I have a clue who he is.


With my feelings of loss and isolation over the completion of Boudicca, I chose to watch the movie, The Last Emperor, the story of the life I lived as Henry Pu Yi.  One might call that emotional torture — not the thing you really want to watch when you are already feeling lonely and sad.  But I am rather pleased with how I handled it.  Before I would get lost in those memories.  Tonight I finished the movie (half last night; half tonight) mostly feeling just the weight of all that bullying.

I have been told that I am too humble, that I do not credit myself enough for my abilities and my accomplishments.  What really struck me about the movie was just how relentlessly I was bullied and controlled.I was never granted the freedom of normal men; everyone used me for something.

In some ways, it feels like not much has changed.  And yet it has.  Pu Yi is dead.  Laurel is alive.

How can I ever soar on the wings of success as long as I feel chained into the ground by that yoke put upon me as a little girl.


But here is news and this I hereby affirm:  Pu Yi is dead.  When he died, all responsibility for his actions died with him.  Whatever cowardice characterized his life, I have a new start as Laurel.  His life is his.  My life is mine.  I am Laurel.  I am Laurel.

As Laurel, I get to decide my own future.  I refuse to live Pu Yi’s life anymore.

I live mine.

Love will come to me.  Success is mine already.  My writing is beautiful.  I am beautiful.  Rest in peace, Pu Yi.  Your life is over.  Laurel’s has just begun.

Poverty and the Perception of “Blurred” Sexual Lines

Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video glorifies rape.

In 2013, Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” highlighted American rape culture with its message that when a woman says “no” to something, she does not really mean it.  The naked women parading across his video made it perfectly clear where the lines, to him, are most blurred.


It is easy to look at the song — and all the controversy it created — and chalk it up to a mediocre “musician” playing a publicity stunt, a stunt that had Mr. Thicke laughing all the way to the bank.


Except I’m not laughing and nor should any woman anywhere in the world.


The problem is not the video, of course, but what it represents:  a culture where women do not need to be respected, where men believe “no” means “not yet,” and where that “not yet” is easily changed to “yes” if the man simply pursues aggressively enough.


Among the affluent, this culture has very little meaning.  With enough wealth and power, a woman can live her life feeling reasonably safe because she can hire protection for every aspect of her life.  While we do hear of celebrity stalkings, they are rarely fatal.  Money can buy safety and security.


But what about the rest of us, especially the poor?  What about the millions of impoverished women who are struggling just to buy food and pay rent?  Especially in low income housing where crime rates are higher, women find themselves vulnerable.  Police department budgets are strained; they don’t have the money or manpower to truly “serve and protect” as they are mandated.  Sexual harassment, rape, and so forth are just not worth responding to in the minds and budgets of the police when there are drug offenses, murders, and so forth to respond to.


In our predatory sexual culture poor women are forced to fend for themselves.  Like when a simple act of politeness to a neighbor is taken as an invitation for sex.  Say no, I am not interested and the advances do not go away.  Why should they?  If women do not actually mean “no” when they say it, it becomes in the interest of the man to keep pushing — to force his way into her life, into her mind.  That these advances obviously frighten her is not important.  No where in American culture are such obvious communications actually deterrent.  American culture says that women ALWAYS WANT IT — FROM ANYONE WHO SEEKS IT.  And worst of all:  there is no perception that there are any negative consequences.  Not to sexual harassment.  Not to rape.  After all, who cares if a poor woman is violated?  Ignore the crime and nothing bad will happen — to criminal or to law enforcement.  And when (not if) a predatory man with a mind that says “you have nothing to lose” violates a woman’s dignity, it remains easier for all involved or near the woman to simply claim “she had it coming to her.”


Because for the poor, there is no such thing as “no,” no right to refusal.  No human dignity.


We must stop tolerating this.  Men must stand up and start caring again about the dignity of women, to stop being predators and become protectors — not in the sense that women are objects to be own (that itself is predatory), but in the sense that human life has value — rich or poor.


Old Fashioned respect needs to return.  For every person deserves respect.  Every life is sacred.


The Myth of Perpetual Trauma

Originally posted June 25th, 2012

“You really need to see a therapist” advises a perfect stranger responding to my comment on a news blog where I discuss the gross under-reporting of sex crimes and domestic violence. My remark is sociological in nature, referencing data I learned in my university education which included sociology, social psychology, and pre-counseling psychology courses. The person reading it regards my data as “angry” and “hurt” in nature and assumes that I am a survivor of some sort of domestic violence or sex crime who needs professional help.

She was correct in assessing that I survived something, but completely off-base in her assumption that surviving something automatically means that the person is so traumatized by the event(s) that she presently needs professional therapy. Knowing nothing else about me, she could not know my personal medical history, much less the details of the crimes, yet she felt it appropriate to stick her head into very private personal business. Her underlying assumption was “if victimized, then need help.”

As well-meaning as her intent was, it is faulty in its logic. Every single person and every crime is different. We each respond to the stressors in our lives differently.
Sometimes a stressor like domestic violence or rape un-nerves us, undermining our capacities to live normal life. In these cases, it is probably advisable to seek professional help in getting back to a more productive mental state.

But the point of therapy is not to stay in therapy forever; the point of therapy is to get BETTER and NOT be in therapy any longer. The point of therapy is to HEAL – just as you heal from a physical woundIt is SUPPOSED to end; if no end is in sight, then the treatment isn’t working and a new therapist and/or approach is needed, just as you would do for any physical condition – like my chronic migraines where prescription drugs didn’t help, but a change to holistic therapy DID in reducing my physical pain.

Just as a stressor may unnerve us, it may equally INSPIRE us; we can and typically do respond to stress POSITIVELY. Surviving domestic violence or a sex crime often provokes us to make positive changes in our lives, allowing us to break destructive habits, increase in wisdom/insight, and grow deeper in our chosen spirituality. We learn from every experience in our lives; the most stressful events are generally the best teachers.

Despite living my life today with physical scars on my body that will never really go away from the crimes I suffered, I can honestly tell you that I would not change anything about my life, even and especially the mistakes I’ve made.
I am not less of a person. I am not weak for surviving criminal behavior. All of these experiences have given me insight, forced me to grow religiously, and developed inner resources and skills I would never have been able to. Through the crimes I suffered, I came to finally overcome several bad habits I’ve had that, in hindsight, have been rather self-destructive. Under the stress of coping with these hurtful events, I have discovered that I BLOSSOMED as an individual. My insights and understanding of the world is rooted in them.

Have I ever gone to therapy? Absolutely, many times over the course of my life, and using many different approaches. But therapy did its job: to help me cope and move on.

Surviving a crime is not a life sentence, no matter how brutal, horrible, or long-lasting. We all heal and move on. Surviving is not weakness, not something to be pitied. The strongest people in the world all survived some sort of serious trauma. Remember that next time you hear someone suffered something; odds are really good they are tougher inside than you are!