Monday, February 10, 2014

Girl Scouts

I've been looking for a place to volunteer the past few months to no avail. Either there's a fee, too demanding hours or nobody gets back to me.   An acquaintance just now thought he was sending me a link to the Girl Scouts cookie finder, but it was actually to their volunteer application. Hmmm....

I was a Brownie & then a Girl Scout until I was 13. My troop leader strangled me & had me kneel on broken glass. Whenever my troop went camping, we cleaned up other troops' cabins ("only boys use tents") because it was practice for housewifery. Until I read Manifesta & a Bitch Magazine article in '06, I thought that's just what Girl Scouts was. I talked with Jennifer Baumgardner & Amy Richards (authors of Manifesta) about how my experience didn't match up with their or Bitch's descriptions; they urged me to alert Girl Scouts Of America of those abuses. GSA was shocked & sent me a formal apology. Because my troop leader had retired, nothing more could be done unless I chose to press charges. That troop leader was Mary Lappe in Chicago.

Maybe volunteering for Girl Scouts of America would be a good move for me, what better way to ensure that the same horrors I endured don't repeat? I interned with Project Girl, a very similar organization, & loved it - not to mention all the LGBT youth work I'veve done. I dunno if I could be a troop leader, but they have opportunities for monthly volunteering.

I'd have to talk with a representative before investigating further, make my experience & concerns known. After what happened to me, all I really know about GSA is what I leaned from that book & that magazine (which I still have!) as well as tumblr's occasional posts cycling around.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Abuse Survival, Moving On?

Starting about mid-high school, deviating from the abusive situation I was in was the main motive for most of my actions, behaviors, beliefs, etc.  It was only because of my supportive, welcoming, wonderful high school (yes, you read that right) that I was able to realize what was going on in my life was both wrong and destructive.  At times I just full-on rebelled against the abuse, in my small and goody-2-shoes way, but otherwise I knew that escape - both mental and physical - was healthier and safer.  

Only with adulthood can I fully understand the extent of the danger I was in; for the past 10 years I wished that I had acted out more (participated scholastic bowl & stage crew, taken AP classes.  What a rebel).  But simply saying "I wish we went somewhere fun on spring break rather than cleaning at home 14 hours a day" nearly got me pulled out of school altogether, so taking those forbidden academic opportunities would have reaped unknown horrors.  It's a little sad that this small fantasy of acting out in school had to be quashed by the reality that could really only be understood with maturity.

Due to time, distance and counseling, I'm getting to the point where the experience of abuse is no longer a factor in my decision-making.  Because of the choices I have made that have brought me to this healthy place, I don't need to escape as much anymore.  I don't want my life to continue to be defined by abuse, I'm ready to move on...though that's a scarier idea than I could've imagined.  Without well-honed vigilance, how can I ensure that I don't walk right back into that?  I speak and write so much about abuse partly to keep track of my healing and partly because so many survivors appreciate it, could I continue speaking out for others after shedding these vestiges?  Occasional triggers and nightmares continue, there are still some bad days - maybe choosing to move on would decrease the frequency of these.   

I still don't know if it would be a good idea to make the names and transgressions of abusers known to the internet - it's very tempting, not for vengeance but to warn the schools with whom those terrible people still work.  There's also the fear that what happened the last time I named crimes will repeat: nobody will care.