On This Sunday: It’s No Joke

Of all the horrible things the bigoted orange twine ball that is Donald Trump has said and done, his long-documented mistreatment of women has drawn the greatest deal of attention as of late.

We all know by now Trump’s penchant for publicly talking about his supposed sexual conquests, demeaning women for being too old or too fat, how he wants to bang his own daughter Ivanka among a whole host of horrendous things he’s been known to say. Within the last week, several women have come forward to allege that Trump has sexually assaulted them in the past. I have no reason not to believe these women, as with most people who have experienced something as horrific as this by anyone else.

Sexual assault is a serious matter that sometimes takes having to know someone who has experienced such a thing to truly understand its impact. It’s also through different yet fundamentally similar life events that help to tangentially apply one’s understanding of sexual assaults in general.

Within the last few months, two female friends of mine directly told me they have been sexually assaulted in their lives — both instances marking the first time anyone has ever told me such a thing. One told me she was once date-raped while the other was not specific about what happened but I was able to easily deduct it was something terribly bad. I suspect there are many more women in my life — friends, former colleagues and maybe even relatives — that also have stories like this but I have either yet to know or will never know. Although difficult in nature, I hope to have more private conversations like this from people who are willing to share their own experiences so that I can better empathize with them, cope with them and heal with them. It truly makes a difference.

I never experienced sexual assault myself although growing up, I have been abused in other ways to understand the trauma and horror that victims undergo. They all share common traits — a seemingly powerful person taking advantage of someone seemingly indefensible.

Such was the case when I grew up as a child, living with a physically-abusive father. It was horrible at each turn — the fear, the pain, the trauma, the feelings of defenselessness. I finally escaped all that when I entered foster care at age 13, although one of my subsequent foster parents engaged in psychological abuse with the same effects as what I went through with my father. It was under their care I once attempted to commit suicide. Bottom line, my father and that particular foster parents can rot in hell. I wish the same or for some kind of justice for those who engage in sexual assaults. There is no rhyme or reason for any of this type of behavior.

Oh, and screw Trump. Anyone but him on Nov. 8.


On This Sunday…: About Last Sunday

On This Sunday, thank you.

That’s right. Thanks to you, the reader, for taking the time to read my story last week in response to the recent spate of domestic violence incidents involving NFL players. If you were watching the news this week, I’m sure you’d be shaking your head like I am over how the NFL continues to poorly address this issue. I’ll leave it to others to hold the league and its players more accountable on that matter.

The story I told last week is something that I have always been comfortable sharing, despite its dark subject matter. I believe that sharing stories like this to others is one of the best coping mechanisms to help me recover through such trauma I experienced as a child. I shared my story last week not to bring attention to my own story but rather to add some personal perspective of how this is a real problem that affects real people. That’s what I hope readers took away from all this — domestic violence and child abuse should not be trivialized and should be taken more seriously.

If you know someone who might be a victim of domestic violence or are one, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233. The hotline is open 24/7 and is completely confidential.

If you know someone who might be a victim of child abuse or are one, please visit this link for the contact information in your state.

On This Sunday…: Role Models, Part II

This is an extension of the previous edition of On This Sunday…

ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, with a commentary on Minnesota Vikings reinstating Adrian Peterson and why this is the wrong move.

UPDATE (8:30 a.m. PT Wednesday): The Minnesota Vikings has since reversed course and barred Adrian Peterson from playing for the team until his legal matters are resolved.

On This Sunday…: Role Models

Celebrities. Activists. World leaders. Athletes. These are just some of the many types of people that we look up to as role models — individuals that set exemplary standards for how we should live our lives to make this world a better place to live in.

On This Sunday, we learned that there are some within one of those categories that failed us all — athletes. More specifically, I’m talking about NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

In a nutshell, video surfaced this week of Ray Rice beating his then-fiancee in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino in February while Adrian Peterson is indicted for child abuse charges against his young son.

While I’m not much of a sports fan, I’m sure Rice and Peterson are talented athletes in their own right. They are admired by many football fans young and old, poor and wealthy, black and white among other attributes. There probably are young children that aspire to be just like them someday.

These incidences of domestic violence — which we all know happened with Rice — and child abuse — which is alleged with Peterson — do a great deal of harm to their reputations as the exemplary figures they are supposed to be to young children.

It is heartbreaking to see that these individuals would inflict the kind of physical harm against the very people that they supposedly love — the same harm these players should be protecting their loved ones from by others. Trust is broken. Fear is instilled. Psychological scars emerge. These are the byproducts of abuse by their lovers and parents that should have never happened in the first place.

I know that feeling too. I was physically abused as a child by my father.

I lived with my father for the first 13 years of my life before I entered the foster care system. I remember, as a young child, often fearing that my father will go off on me for any reason just about every day. Sometimes, there was no reason or involved reasons that had nothing to do with me. Often times when such physical abuse occurred, he had been drinking like he did on a near-daily basis. He often promised that he would protect me from others that may try to inflict harm toward me. While no one else ever tried nor did they have any reason to do so, my father was the only person in my life that did the very thing he promised to protect me from.

To this day, he refuses to apologize for hurting me in the most undeserving way imaginable and I don’t expect he ever will. He has betrayed my trust to the point that any potential efforts on his part to show remorse or regret for his actions cannot be taken seriously. I have not had any contact with him since May 2007. Frankly, I prefer to keep it that way for as long as he lives.

A few people in my life since have suggested that just because I believe child abuse is morally and legally wrong that I also oppose corporal punishment such as spanking. One foster parent I lived with even attempted to justify child abuse as a practice by pointing me to a magazine feature story of a Korean pop star who credits the harsh physical punishment she sustained from her parents for becoming successful in life and being the upstanding citizen she supposedly is. Others, including individuals commenting on stories about the two NFL players, suggested that the woman and child were deserving of such abuse due to perceived lack of adequate discipline among children these days or that men are still superior enough to women that they feel entitled to mistreat and degrade women all they want.

All of this upsets me. Child abuse is not the same thing as corporal punishment. If it leaves bruises and cuts on the victims, that’s not corporal punishment. That’s abuse. If a victim bleeds as a result and to any extent, that’s not corporal punishment. That’s abuse. If you’re having crumpled papers being shoved into your mouth — which once happened to me as a child– that’s not corporal punishment. That’s abuse.

Domestic violence and child abuse should not be equated to spanking as it is not the same thing. Abuse toward women and children are illegal, immoral and reprehensible acts that no human being ever deserves to be put through, no matter what the nature or the extent of their alleged misdeeds are. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever for abuse.

If you beat a child or a significant other, you do not love them. Instead, you are the problem. You are the one that needs help and lots of it. Remember that this isn’t all about you. This is about the people that you supposedly love — spouse, fiancee, life partner, significant other, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends among many others. For years, I have personally witnessed what the actions of one man will do to his relationships with family and friends — it sets off a destructive chain reaction that impacts everyone that ever crossed paths with him. Don’t be that person. You’re better than that.

The only thing role models should be hitting is the field for each game, not their loved ones.