Wednesday, August 15, 2018

SOL = Statute Of Limitations


© 2018, 8/16/2018 Chantelle Henderson


Freakin’ statute of limitations. Let's see.  I was abused from 14-18 by a man I babysat for.  It screwed me up in my 20's.  In my 30's I started getting help through therapy and writing my abuser a very detailed 7 page letter.  In my 40's I began to feel empowered as a survivor and overcomer.  And yet the SOLs (Statute Of Limitations) make me lose my faith in our justice system time and time again.  Why?  If you're abused, assaulted, molested, raped, whatever you want to call it, as a child of ANY age, the fact of the matter is that unless a miracle happens, you're not going to get “physical – see, hear, touch, feel” closure after years of silence.  For MANY survivors it does in fact take years, and others, an entire lifetime, if at all. 
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First you have to learn that it wasn't your fault and that can take an entire life time.  Then you begin your journey of healing after you realize that. I am 47. Yes, I sent a letter to my abuser in 2007, but this year I felt emboldened by my soul sister survivors who have come forth out of the shadows to say, “ME TOO”.  In them and their stories, I learned that I could still tell mine.  I have seen with my own eyes that giving my abuser’s real name is not just for me.  It’s for others who have been or potentially will be violated in the future.
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Very recently, I called and confronted my abuser on the phone in 3 separate phone calls. In all of them he denied any wrong doing. When Ry grabbed the phone and asked him if he knew Chantelle Thomas, at first he said no, so Ry asked him again and he says, "Oh. The babysitter?" So then my abuser keeps saying, "I don't know what you're talking about." In all 3 phone calls he kept asking repeatedly, "What do you want from me?" My one and only response every time he asked was, "An apology." It was at least 10 times if not more of the back and forth. His wife had the nerve to grab the phone and starts yelling AT ME. Not her pedophile husband, but ME.  I strongly believe she knew what was going on when it was taking place.  Tell me if this makes sense.  So word on the street is that your husband was being made to look like “Chester the molester” and it’s because of you.  So you’re FORCED to apologize to her and him for “lying” even though it was the truth.  Logic tells me that I should not let that same girl within a million mile radius of me or my husband or my kids.  Well, a month to two months later, guess what?  She started using me again as a babysitter.  Something is very wrong about that, wouldn’t you agree?  I digress.  I felt even more empowered after the third call.  I simply gave up any hope that he would actually own what he did and apologize. It was time for me to accept the saying, “Sometimes you have to accept the apology you never got”.
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KNOWING that the SOLs in Georgia were not on my side, I was resolute in my pursuit of justice at any level.  Sometimes it does come in a courtroom, with a gavel and robe, surrounded by 12 strangers who might vote guilty, not guilty, or no verdict at all.  That being the case, I filed an official police report. The police officer who took my call, in the beginning, kept reminding me of the SOLs. "Are you planning on doing anything like a lawsuit or civil suit? You know the statute of limitations is up. Why do you want to do it?" My response, "Because it is a part of my closure." "Well mam", he says, “I don't think I can do that, but let me check with my Sargent and call you back.". Much to my surprise he did call me back and took the report. He pissed me off, though, because he sounded EXTREMELY unsympathetic and almost arrogant.  If I didn't know any better, I would have guessed he just got out of diapers the day prior. That's okay though, because I got the report done. It's officially on record. It's public. Anyone can go and get a copy. In my upcoming article about my "ME TOO" story, I will include a copy of it. 


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You see, all these years later, despite the “ME TOO” and “TIME’S UP” movement you still come in contact with ass hats like the policeman who could care less that your childhood innocence was violated and taken from you against your own will. Don't ask me why it's taken so long for me to come forward (with more detail), or any victim for that matter. For me, it was never uncomfortable for me to say, “I was sexually abused from 14-18.”  I said it very matter-of-factly, with little or no feeling.  It had just become a part of my life story.  It never occurred to me that it was okay to say his name, share details of what happened, or even to disclosed that I confided in no less than 3 adults at that time what was going on who chose not to come forward.  I just assumed that because they didn’t say anything that it was no big deal, so why should I care.  In fact, by that time I was so groomed by my abuser that I began to look forward to seeing him.  My own body betrayed me.  Puberty was happening and his abuse only added to the raging hormones going on in my 14 year-old body.  It got to the point that I thought I was falling in love with him and that he would leave his wife and kids for me (around 16’ish).  “Why didn’t you tell your parents?”  That’s a question I get asked a lot.  Well, for starters I was way too embarrassed.  I was convinced that it was my fault because I was “allowing” it to happen.  I thought it would get him in trouble, which I didn’t want.  I believed that I wouldn’t be able to see him again. Do you now understand what goes through the mind of a childhood sexual abuse victim?  It’s like a cult.  You don’t realize you were in one until you get out and see things as they really are.  There’s no more blurry vision; only 20/20.  Just don't ask why one of the victims on a laundry list of accusers took so long to report it. In the latest uncovering of priest abusing children, one man has waited SEVEN DECADES. SEVENTY YEARS, to come forward and say, "ME TOO." (https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/15/us/pennsylvania-catholic-church-victims/index.html). 
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Unless you have suffered abuse of any kind, at any age, you do not have the right to have an opinion that does not support victims of sexual assault and abuse. You may have them, but you have not paid the price to do so.  You’re nothing but noise.  You do not get to judge how a survivor and overcomer has dealt with or is dealing with how they choose to share their story and do whatever it is they need to in order to move on. You have not earned the right to say that Bill Cosby (charged), Harvey Weinstein (admitted), Larry Nassar (charged), Priests (found guilty), or others in a position of authority who have been found guilty, are really innocent.
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I was surprised earlier this year when I simply posted a status that read, "Victim blaming must stop." And you know what? People disagreed with me citing that it's interesting how "all these women have come out of the woodwork for their 15 minutes of fame." Well listen to me and hear me good, when you say stupid s*%t like that, you are re-abusing the victim. You are causing him or her to go back into hiding. You are communicating to them that they should stop going down their avenue(s) of healing-no matter what it looks like-because, "Nobody will believe me." IT DOES NOT MATTER WHEN THE ABUSE HAPPENED. THE FACT IS THAT IT HAPPENED AND THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH. I have always said that I would rather believe a victim and be wrong, than doubt the victim and be right.
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Truthfully, there is a majority of us that never get closure.  We just learn to move on from “it” as best we can.  It doesn't matter if it was just yesterday or seventy years ago, we do not have the luxury of forgetting. You see, we have paid a price to give voice to our abuse, pain, lost innocence, and suffering as a result of a rapist, child molester, pedophile, or any other predators that I have failed to mention.  I make no apologies nor am I hesitating to expose and publicly name the man who molested me from 1985-1989. His time is up. People say, "Aren't you afraid he will come after you?" Hell no! I can take a polygraph and put all doubt to rest, just as he can and should if he really thinks he didn’t or has amnesia.  And if there is still a way for him to make my life miserable, I can and will keep talking louder and more passionate because one thing he did not take from me is my voice and my ability to call him out and stand up for justice, not just for me, but for all of my "ME TOO" sisters.
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Wow!  This was (is) supposed to be about the statute of limitations, but it appears I needed to get out some other things.  Going back to my initial intent in beginning this post, I am asking that you PLEASE FIND OUT WHAT YOUR STATE'S STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ARE AND BECOME ACTIVE IN HAVING THEM OVERTURNED OR RADICALLY CHANGED OR EVEN BETTER, THAT THERE AREN'T ANY.  At the very least, expand the time frame, even if it’s only by a year.  You’d be surprised how that can change the entire trajectory of a survivor’s journey to help bring peace to her or himself, and give others permission to do the same.  Please visit http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/local-lawmakers-support-bill-that-would-extend-statute-of-limitations/article_180d3a72-a030-11e8-a1b8-f3ec6bc1b242.html to find out how you can help.



Monday, August 6, 2018

Friendship Day 2018


© 2018, 8/5/2018 Chantelle Henderson


Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the following as a friend. Right after that is a list of synonyms, also from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
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Friend:
A person who has a strong liking for and trust in another really close friends who like to do everything together and are always sharing secrets.
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Synonyms:
Alter ego, amigo, buddy, chum, compadre, comrade, confidant, confidante, crony, familiar, intimate, mate [chiefly British], musketeer, pal.
When I woke up, I had no idea was National Friendship Day! The moment I found out, I went to a place in my heart that holds precious and sacred memories of those who have supported me in the past, the present, and Lord willing, the future. It’s interesting because two of those slots that are taken would have been filled by two people who are no longer a part of my life-at all. But I do not grieve. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that it didn’t affect me. I just knew I had to let go if I wanted there to be room for the ones I have now. Amongst the obvious smile and laughter is a stranger who is now one of my best friends. I’ve only known her for a little bit over a year. But when your heart connects to someone else’s heart, you just know. Three of these women I have known for 24 years and one for 30! I say that, to say this-true friendship, (meaning a real tribe of women who have your back and you have their’s) knows no space or time. It only knows love, joy, laughter, and dancing. Your bond is also forged in the furnace of the afflictions we face in life. It’s the result of countless tears from pain and soul crushing seasons. Sisterhood is also found in the ocean of laughter, sometimes so hard that your side hurts, tears from laughing so hard turn your face beet red, or you’re drinking something and they say something so hilarious that you spit your drink out all over them and yourself.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. I have yet to hear a story about a real friendship that hasn’t experienced misunderstandings, hurts, or even being pissed off at each other. When all is said and done, it all comes back full circle. You both say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Can you forgive me? What can I do to make it up to you? What do WE need to do to move forward and on to better and bigger things? Let’s make this right because we’re in this thing called life forever! You’re one of my four quarters.” Many times people have asked me, “Tae Tae. What is this four quarters business you always speak of?” Well, there’s a quote about friendship by an unknown author. “I would rather have four quarters than 100 pennies.” Years ago I really enjoyed 100 pennies. It was a blessed and fulfilled season in my life. As I grew older and wiser I became keenly aware that boundaries are important, if not vital, to a successful friendship. I learned through experience (both good and challenging) what is healthy in relationships and what is not (for me personally); what I am willing to accept, or let go of. I came to the conclusion and acceptance that 4 quarters really is all I need. When I say 4 quarters, I don’t mean just four friends. It’s a metaphor. I also love my acquaintances. They too are a part of my tribe in their own right and I need them in my life too! They are not an afterthought or “spare” friend. They have great meaning in my life and heart as well.
When Jesus was nearing the Garden Of Gethsemane He left other disciples behind and only chose to take three Apostles: Peter, John, and James. There are moments and seasons when you are in a place of great suffering, uncertainty, and deep, personal, life altering circumstances. That’s when you take your Peters, James’, and Johns with you. The others were not “left behind” because they didn’t matter. They just were not meant to go with Him to the garden. They were not assigned to travel the treacherous, winding, sacred, and secret place that was a part of Him enduring the greatest suffering known only to our risen Savior. Even Peter, James, and John did not comprehend the eternal consequences of their prayers or lack thereof. Jesus came out from the garden and found them sleeping THREE TIMES! I say that to say this: Give grace to those people in your life who are “sleeping”during your battles. What any friend WANTS to do, desires to do, is to join you in the fellowship of your suffering through prayers, words of encouragement, and to be with you in your greatest time of need. That’s great in theory, but in reality they may be too tired or are living through their own garden experience. Just say to them, “Sleep on.” Don’t get mad at them. Love them with the same strength you would as if they were awake. Also, when someone is facing a giant in their lives and they don’t share it with you until after everything is said and done, don’t take it personally. Don’t allow jealousy and envy to take root because you weren’t invited to the “garden party”. It’s not about you. It is about them. Your role may be that of a “bouncer”. You are in Jesus’ tribe for sure, but instead of going into the garden, you have been assigned to guard the entrance to ensure that it is not breached and remains closed so others can’t enter. Maybe your purpose in any given situation is to pray, fast, and intercede for your friend. You don’t have to know every single detail of their storm to do that. Just be on shore when their ship comes in. No matter what “level” of friendship with someone, just remain loyal. Don’t lie. Be honest. Be real. Be transparent. Be a safe person. Be a keeper of their secrets. Be available as you are able. Make sure you are giving as much as you are taking. Have realistic, healthy boundaries and communicate them to each other. Don’t set high expectations on the other person that are impossible for them to live up to. Make allowances for each other’s faults. Don’t say anything about them to anyone that you would not say to their face. Tell each other, “I love you!” every single opportunity you get. Let them know they make a difference in your life. Shower them with hugs. Cry with them. Laugh with them. And sometimes, just sometimes, sit in silence with them. Don’t try to fix whatever is “broken” in the situation. Just be there.
I’ll leave you with this example. About 4 years ago we relocated back to Georgia from Florida I was super excited!!! FINALLY we were back home! Once the excitement of arriving wore off I looked around and there were boxes all over the place. The unpacking and the tasks involved in it was too much. Because I have severe lower back issues, I couldn’t do anything and that was very frustrating in and of itself. I was in a deep hole of depression and isolation - very deep. Through a friend I went to high school with, I became great friends with his wife. Beyond great. We met for dinner with them less than a month after relocating back to Georgia. We had an extremely obvious heart connection on the phone but especially when we met face to face. You know how you tell people, “If there is anything you need, don’t hesitate to call me!”? What is the usual response?, “Oh. I will let you know! I promise.” We said that to each other often and meant it. Most people don’t think they’ll have to use the “I promise. I’ll let you know!” card. The day came when I so desperately needed it. I just could not get out of bed because I didn’t want to live life that day-literally. I decided to swallow my pride and actually reached out to her, my lifeline. I took this precious sister of mine up on her offer. I was very honest about my anxiety and depression. Without any hesitation whatsoever she asked, “Okay, what can I do? Tell me.” Through tears and hyperventilating so much because of them, I asked if she could pick Jeremy up from school for me and bring him home (30 minutes each way- bringing him home then going back to her home). She did not hesitate to say “YEP!”. When she dropped J off she sat with me for a bit just hugging and loving on me. I WILL NEVER EVER forget it.
Unfortunately, my depression lasted for days which turned into weeks. One afternoon my best friend and nephew came over (without me asking) and she told me to “get my ass out of bed”. I whined and complained, telling her I could not do anything. She let me lay there for a few minutes in the bed, blankets up to my neck, but then said, “Okay. GET UP! Physically you cannot do anything. However, you can get out of bed, sit on the sofa, and tell us where to put everything as we unpack boxes.” So that’s what I did. Before she left, just about everything was in its’ place. There were little things here and there but nothing I could not have managed to do on my own.
Those are two examples that were defining moments in my personal relationship with them and eventually others.
I want to encourage you to take the time to reach out to your tribe, one by one, whether it’s a hundred pennies or four quarters, and be intentional and heartfelt about telling them what an amazing gift they and their friendship and sisterhood or brotherhood means to you. Tell them specific qualities they possess that endear them to you. Speak out loud the ways they make your life richer and fuller. Sometimes we need to hear it-not just on World Friendship Day, but every opportunity you get.
HAPPY FRIENDSHIP DAY.
๐Ÿ’š ; Tae Tae



Monday, July 23, 2018

Reach out. Show up. Just be there.



© 2018 Chantelle Henderson

People, people, people (and myself)...we need to fully understand that when people we love invite us into the messiness, broken, hardship, and dark seasons of their soul, THEY ARE NOT PROJECTS SO THEY DON’T NEED TO BE FIXED. What they need more than anything is to be listened to, hugged, cried with, and be loved unconditionally. I’ve learned throughout my life that my greatest healing is often found in silence. You being there and makes it about them.  That is all some people need. A listening ear without responding is difficult, but do your best not to try and “fix it”. When you prove to someone that you can be trusted, they will often reveal their brokenness and battles and shortcomings more readily. Again, don’t make it about you. Give your advice and counsel ONLY if they ask for it. If they don’t, that’s okay. The challenge we ALL have to remember is that it is okay not to be okay. So many suffer not realizing that. “It’s okay not to be okay” is not some clichรฉ or buzz phrase or a quick answer to someone suffering from a broken heart and crushed spirit. It is a truth that we must accept if we are to experience any healing. We sometimes feel the pressure to be okay and “on” at all times. Simply put, no one can live up to that expectation.

We build these impenetrable walls to keep others out, while failing to see that the same wall keeps you in isolation. May we all try to seek, and to understand that the the Bible makes it clear that we will have suffering on this side of eternity. Just let that sit for a minute. Acknowledging and embracing that truth is half the battle.

Personally, I cannot relate to people who haven’t gone through anything. When someone says they have never had a day, a moment, or a season where they experienced hardships and suffering, they are either deceived or really believe that lie. Look, we are all ragamuffins in our own way. We are sinners among sinners and beggars among beggars in need of Christ’s compassion, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love. Nothing you have ever done or will do can separate you from the love of Christ....NO THING. Let us begin to tear down our walls and lay them brick by brick at the foot of the cross which is where healing, restoration, and wholeness begins. The chains of guilt and shame are broken. You’ll probably see me with my own stuff. If you do, just wave and say, “Halleluyeeeer”.

The past few months have been extremely difficult for me in so many ways that no one knows about-not even my tribe. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve been guilty of carrying some pretty enormous things these past few months that I should have shared but I chose not to. I didn’t follow my own advice. It was a mistake. None of us are meant or created for carrying our burdens alone. I’ve been robbing my tribe and myself of the opportunity to walk with me in my pain, despair, confusion, and hopelessness. Together we could have walked on the path to a place of resting, refreshing, healing, and wholeness. I’ve dealt with some major battles lately that include some regrets, anger towards some folks, forgiving some people who have hurt me deeply, and the need to have wisdom and clarity regarding so many areas of my life.

I’m tired y’all. I’ve been “self care” this and “self care” that, but I wasn’t walking it out in my own life. It seemed that every time I thought I was ready to jump back into some sense of normal (whatever that is), I was blindsided by Life happening.

About 3 weeks ago, with Ry’s blessing, I decided to take a very short four night sabbatical (alone) and left my phone and laptop at home. I checked myself into The Hyatt with my Bible, a few pens and hi-liters, some Bibles, books, and journals. I used that time to climb up and sit in the lap of my Heavenly Daddy and just be; not do or strive or push or worry, but just REST and ABIDE; I so desperately wanted and needed regain eternal perspective and renew my spirit. It was a time of me just receiving love and acceptance from the Lord. I’m not suggesting that you should do the same. For me, I HAD TO. I reached full on burnout mode. Was everything “fixed” when I checked out? Not so much. But I got some much needed rest and I walked out hopeful, at peace, and better than the day I arrived. Rick Warren said, “Sometimes the most holy thing we can do as Christians is rest.” Let’s begin there-leaving the unmet expectations, the striving, the push and pull and rearranging that makes us think we have control over every situation. In our feeble attempts to do life alone, we are digging ourselves into a deeper pit. I did my very best to turn the betrayal, the abandonment, the bitterness, and the heaviness of it all at His feet. Honestly, I still carried-no carry some of that stuff, but I am not going it alone anymore. I know that several of you can identify with what I’m saying. You’re going through it too. But you may not be able to leave the responsibilities of taking care of kids, and housework, and your job and check in to a hotel. What you CAN do is reach out to your most trusted people and let them know what you are going through. Tell them what you need. Be real and raw and honest about your life. Don’t do what I did, which was isolating myself and internalizing all that was happening. Let someone help you carry your weight of depression, anxiety, fear, worry, sickness, anger, bitterness, sin, and anything else that I may have missed. That’s what having a tribe is all about. If you don’t have a tribe, you have me. None of us are really truly ever alone. That’s one of the greatest lies of the enemy. First and foremost, we have a God who will never leave or forsake us. Secondly you are endlessly needed, wanted and loved by those around you. Again, if you believe you don’t have that, then reach out to me because I do.

There is not a person on this account that I don’t love and have great adoration and compassion for. You are here because your relationship matters in my life, even if it is through social media.

Throughout the Bible Jesus used various methods to heal, deliver, and restore people. I think Facebook and other social media forums have gotten a bad rap. I personally have built extremely meaningful friendships with people in other countries, with people I met 7 or 8 years ago through Facebook who became great friends that are dear to my heart. It has renewed old friendships while creating new ones. It has provided a way for a person to communicate that they need prayer without calling, texting, or meeting up when they simply don’t have the time to handle it that way. Memes and gifs give us the gift of laughter. You see, it’s all about how you use it. I’ve been majorly guilty of acting a fool and showing my behind on social media. I’ve even lost friendships because I didn’t keep my mouth shut and let the whole world know what should have been kept private between two people. Most recently, it is how my beautiful birth sister found me! Does it get any better than that? It is such a major avenue for encouragement and edification, for friendship and laughter, for support and sharing. Social Media is what you choose to make it.

Lord have mercy! How did I go from it being about not fixing people to the wonders of connecting through the power of the World Wide Web? You know me and my rabbit trails. I start with one small sentence and it turns into a book.

So let’s TRY to go back to the beginning:

• Broken and hurting people are not projects that need to be fixed by you.

•Oftentimes the best and only answer is to listen and remain silent unless they ask for your thoughts and opinions.

•Let’s all start knocking down our walls so people can come in and you can get out of the isolation that these walls have caused.

•IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY!

•We ALL have issues. PERIOD.

•It’s time to take off the mask. If people judge the real you, the problem is them NOT you.

•Reach out.  Show up.   Just be there.

•Freedom! The truth sets you free! This can only happen if you’re honest with yourself and those around you. In fact, what you will find is that the more you allow others to see the real you, you are empowering those around you to do the same.

•If you are always the one helping others , don’t forget that you still need help too. It’s not a competition. It’s just that you cannot pour out of an empty cup.

•We all fight battles no one knows about. That’s why we don’t judge.

•We all suffer. Just because we don’t talk about it doesn’t make it disappear.

•Use social Media to bring people up, not tear them down. Before you post something remember that even if you post something and then delete it there’s this feature on most phones called a screenshot.

•Being real is scary. I still struggle to share my giants with my tribe because I think I’m a burden but the truth is that I am not a burden and neither are you. I’m not saying it will be easy or even comfortable. You may feel embarrassed or shame or guilt or rejection, but you do not have to do it on your own. And the awkwardness that will most certainly happen sometimes will create many funny and inside jokes for years to come. You may be crying now, but it won’t always be that way. Take baby steps if you must, but choose to move anyway.

•You are a unique creation of the most High God. He formed you before you were ever conceived. He knows the number of hairs on your head. You are beautiful. You are wanted. You are amazing. You have a beautiful soul. You are accepted. You are extraordinarily special. You are wanted. You are needed. You cannot be replaced. YOU. ARE. LOVED!

***DISCLAIMER: *** IF YOU OR THE PERSON YOU ARE HELPING MENTIONS ANYTHING AT ALL (NO MATTER HOW BIG OR SMALL) THAT THEY ARE THINKING OF HURTING THEMSELVES OR OTHERS, YOU DO NEED TO SPEAK UP.  IF YOU ARE ABLE AND HAVE THE TIME AND/OR MONEY TO ASSIST THEM, DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO TO GET THEM IN TREATMENT ASAP.
๐Ÿ’š Tae ๐Ÿ’š ;