Moving Words Into Action

Things seem so different now that I am writing and speaking and working as Taylar Nuevelle. While incarcerated and since I have been home I assist justice-involved women.  I have moved my project from a dream to action! Please join me as we grow the Who Speaks for Me? Project. https://www.gofundme.com/who-speaks-for-me-project

impacthub_panel_2_sif_sharing-our-stories_11-3-2016Panel: Sharing Our Stories to Reclaim Our Lives. November 2016 (photo courtesy of Gabriela Bulisova)

When I went to prison, I had very little knowledge of trauma.  I knew that I had survived physical, emotional, and sexual violence growing-up and when I was in high school I went into foster care.

However, no one spoke of “trauma” in terms of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Everyone just saw me as this person who was beating the odds.  Despite the fact that I almost died twice while in high schools because of suicide attempts.

Survivors of childhood abuse often find abusers in their adult life and this is what I did.  Through a series of events and choices I ended up doing 4.5 years.  However, my story is not the story that moved me to create the Who Speaks for Me? Project .  While incarcerated I was able to learn the stories of the women incarcerated with me as I helped them with their legal cases for post-convicion relief, navigating the prison grievance process and/or gaining visitation with their school age children through court ordered visitation.

What I learned from reading over the transcripts and talking to the women was that 85% of them had been sexually abused as little girls and/or raped as adults. I discovered that most of them had suffered physical violcence during childhood and had also been victims of domestic violence.  I started to keep track of the stories and realized that we were survivors.

During my incarceration I was put on suicide watch many times and the last six months of my incarceration I spent three months on and off on suicide watch.  There was no consistent or appropriate mental health treatment. One day as I lay on the mattress on the floor in the cold (so cold my finger tips turned blue) suicide watch room, I wrapped the quilted blanket around the quilted gowns (as this is all one wears on suicide watch) and looked up at the ceiling and whispered, “Who Speaks for Me?” That was my last stint on suicide watch.

I was returned to my unit and I came up with a business plan for a non-profit called the Who Speaks for Me? Project. The goal of the project is to educate the public, criminal justice system, and politicians about what I call the, “Trauma-to-Prison Pipeline for Females” in order to build a Trauma Informed Justice System.

I have started this project.  In October of 2016 I was invited to be a guest speaker at the DC Jail for women during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. After my talk, I was cleared to start a program for the women at the jail, “Sharing Our Stories to Reclaim Our Lives: Unpacking the Journey on the Trauma-to-Prison Pipeline for Females” is a reading writing/program. It will also be offered in the community for women in the halfway house and justice-involved women on supervised release with the probation department.

We will also hold community forum panels in which the justice-involved women in the community will share their stories before and during incarceration and their process of reentry.  Volunteers with the Who Speaks for Me? Project helped with such a panel in November of 2016 at the Social Innovation Festival and it was educational and healing. The audience wanted to know when there would be another panel and the women who participated want to participate in more panels in other areas of the city.

We are trying to raise money to apply for our 501(c)(3) status, brand our logo and to purchase the books that will be used in the program, the jourals, and notepads and pens as well as money to buy travel passes for the justice-involved women who participate in the program in the community.

Our board is together and made up of former justice-involved females, advocates who work with women in prison, and allies of dismanteling the trauma-to-prison pipleline for females. We have our Employment Identification Number, logo, and our website is being built by a volunteer. With your help we can began to build a trauma informed justices system through education and encourage treatment not jails when there is a clear case of trauma; as well as change the system of incarceration to provide Trauma Informed Care and Approaches for justice-involved females.

I survived and since I have been home I have been able to share my story through writing and public speaking.  Just as importantly, I have been able to continue to assist women who are incarcerated and once they return home. I have been humbled by people who have stepped up to volunteer with the program and move this project from a dream I had of making a difference into action. Once we have our non-profit status, we will be able to apply for funding and grow the program to include creating model programs around the country and offering Trauma Informed Care and Approach trainings to those who work in the criminal and family courts:  judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors and social workers and psychologist that work with justice-involved-women.

I went to prison and I did not return back home better, but I am not bitter.  I continue to work on my mental health issues through therapy that focuses on recovery from trauma. Its been two years and I have not given up and I want to bring the issues of justice-involved women to the for front of our conversations and advocacy for criminal justice reform and reduce recidvism and mass incarceration.

Join the Who Speaks for Me? Project and watch what we can do together.

Peace be with you,
Taylar Nuevelle,Founder/CEO
Who Speaks for Me? Project

 

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An Open Letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton from Taylar Nuevelle

Dear All,

I haven’t updated this space in a while as I have been posting for my blog that will becom a part of my soon to be launched website and I’m writing under  my real name. As I move forward with advocating for criminal justice reform for women and building a Trauma Informed Justice System, I have to be willing to shed my cloak of shame so that other women like me will begin to stand up and speak out.

I posted an Open Letter to Ms. Rodham Clinton. You can follow this short link http://wp.me/p6XZUc-3O or visit whospeaksformeblog.wordpress.com.

The Spring and Summer were very emotionally painful for me. However, I  moved again, to a lovely building and the space is just perfect for me. I also published another Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post and a Blog for the Vera Institute  vera.org. The former got me fired (although my boss encouraged me to write it she got in trouble and through me under the bus, but no worries as we have an amazing Office of  Human Rights here in DC and I have a lot of support from a community of advocates and lawyers) and the piece for Vera has enabled me to move forward and I have been receiving offers for paid speaking engagements and for publications that will start in 2017.

You can also find me on Facebook under Taylar Nuevelle and twitter @taylarnuevelle

May the peace be with you all,

Taylar Nuevelle (aka Amme Voz)

Survivor

 

“This Girl Is On Fire”

fire image

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) allows mp3 players and has contracted with an outside, for profit, company to provide secure players (at a high price for inmates) and access to purchase music from a database of approved music. Any music with “explicit” lyrics is excluded; or if discovered removed from the database. Being in a federal prison does not mean a lack of access to information to the outside world. And all the women at the prison I was at in 2013 knew that Alicia Keys had dropped a new single at the end of 2012 and in 2013 it hit our database of music for purchase.

I bought the song and at any moment at any time on the compound, in the units, showers etc., women were screaming loudly ‘This Girl Is On Fire…” One day as I walked down from the upper tier to the lower tier where the computers and other cells were, I was smiling as I heard all the different voices at separate stanzas of the song singing —then a woman walked along side me and said, “Well I wish someone would get some fucking water and put her out!” She was mad that she did not have an mp3 player and probably sick of our singing.

Tonight as I stood preparing cakes for a woman who was incarcerated with me, to celebrate her 50th birthday and freedom, I was listening to Pandora and as I thought of my friend, the song, “This Girl Is On Fire,” came on and I started singing at the top of my lungs. I mixed eggs, and butter, chocolate and sugar and kept singing and it was amazing.

Alicia Keys is a part of the movement to end mass incarceration, and I just want her to know that incarcerated women are buying her songs and finding inspiration in them. I want Ms. Keys and all of you to help shed light on the collateral damages of women who are incarcerated: the children left behind; the physical and sexual abuse that we suffered prior to prison; and the lack of adequate and appropriate mental and physical health care while incarcerated. I want you all to know that we suffer and that the criminal justice reform movement is not just about men. We women are unjustly incarcerated, over sentenced and suffer in ways I cannot express without shame and fear of losing what mental stability I have.

The woman who is celebrating her freedom and birthday tomorrow is ON FIRE and is FREE. She was sentenced unjustly to double digits and served over five years. We were and continue to be friends. While incarcerated I often told her, “You will not wear this time.” In 2014 we were cell mates and we promised each other that, “A year from now we will celebrate each other at Christmas and our birthdays.” This has come true. This is Grace. Faith. This is Justice in the midst of an unjust system. While I did all of my time, my heart sings for each and every woman who has her case over turned or sentence reduced. Lucille Clifton says it best in her poem, “The Lesson of the Falling Leaves”:

the leaves believe
 such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is god
i agree with the leaves

I agree with Ms. Clifton. I believe in change. I believe in all of us. I believe…fallen leaves image

Amme Voz

When Your Soul Says Yes: What do you do?

yes_imageI think I’m becoming more spiritual. I’ve been rolling this blog around in my head for two weeks now, but I felt it might be too much. But then today at church, the sermon really meshed with what I wanted to write about.

There is a gospel song titled, “My Soul Says Yes”. Two weeks ago T was dropping me off in Columbia Heights—I bum rides all the time from different people—after an event about the draconian police measures our mayor is trying to implement. Before I got out of the car T started talking about where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going. She is so much a part of where I am and where I am going. I wanted to write this blog, but I thought it might be misconstrued.

Then today the minister talked about Bartimaeus, the blind beggar that asks Jesus for sight. However, the importance of the message to me was not about the healing, but the desire to see. Most importantly for me is Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want from me?”

T asked me this question when we first met. I answered, “For you to see me, believe me stand by me and fight for me.”   I do not believe T ever has been unable to see. This is her gift. When she dropped me off two weeks ago she told me that she feels so vindicated when she watches the shift in people who have judged me unfairly and without just cause. T has done everything I asked for and more. When I was about to be street homeless, she put her reputation on the line and used her power to speak for me, fight for me, believe in me and stand by me. Her soul said yes to what she saw. T sees so much and her soul says yes to the many who are marginalized and unseen, more often than not, to the point that she becomes ill—and yet she continues to see and say yes.

When I listened to the sermon today I realized that my soul too says yes, but often I do not have the resources or privilege when I say yes. Yet this does not stop me. In a three-week period I stepped in when I saw police harassing poor, traumatized individuals suffering from mental illness and homelessness. I inserted myself and quietly asked questions. I have stopped being the “Amen” corner, and started to become the Seeing and Soul Saying Yes Advocate. I’ve put myself in the position of being arrested three times recently and this could have my supervised release revoked and me put back in prison. However, when I think about T and I merge it with the lesson the minister gave today, I realize that the gospel song, “My Soul Says Yes,” is not about standing out as a Christian. It is about standing up in the face of injustice and following and acting regardless of the risk to myself.

 

no to hate_image

T has put her reputation on the line for me—someone no more important than a blind beggar on the roadside—because she has been given the gift of sight and her soul says yes. This is the example I want to follow. My soul says yes in the face of injustice and then I act and do things accordingly—like T. And you? What do you do when you have the gift of sight? I hope your Soul Says Yes
Amme Voz

Chicken Soup For A Returning Citizen’s Soul

From My Kitchen Not A Book

Pot of Chicken Soup

Today was one of those days where I could not leave the house. My PTSD had me homebound. This did not overwhelm me as I decided to try and unpack the rest of the books and see if they would fit on my shelves. The sadness, depression and anxiety lifted slightly as I figured out how to free all the books. And they sighed and sung to me.Tall Bookcase

The problem with unpacking after being incarcerated is that memories and losses are stored along with possessions. As I stroked and removed my books I found cards and pictures of friends and my son. I came across a post card my best friend E sent to me while I was in prison. E and I have been arguing a lot lately. Mostly I believe it is because we have not seen each other in almost six years because we live on opposite coasts (and I was in prison for so long), and we are both struggling financially and with our own trauma.

On Sunday evening E and I had an argument and I said, “Maybe we should take a break.” And she responded with, “Maybe we should,” and hung up. When I found the post card tonight I phoned her and knew she would answer. This is love between us of the purest kind. We are each other’s Lifetime and I always want to take the long way home with her. Many people have thought over the years that we are lovers—sexually—but we are not. Yet we are lovers. We love one another unconditionally. We love one another with all our gifts and flaws and I know she will never leave me and she knows I will never leave her.

Before I phoned E I had sent out a text message to my new lead caregiver and to my former co-worker/friend/ former lead caregiver—that read, “I need soup!”I was feeling a particular type of sadness and I always crave soup in this state of mind. (Truthfully, what I need is a service dog and I have been investigating “pooper scoopers” as this is the only issue for me (along with the cost)—but I digress).

I phoned E and I said, “Can I make chicken soup? I have chicken, snow peas, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, fresh basil that I froze and garlic and onions.” Erin asked, “Is it a whole chicken or parts?” I responded, “Thighs. I have thighs.” She then told me how to go about it. Then I said, “I have four chicken thighs. They were on sale.” “That’s a lot of chicken,” she said, “That’s going to make a lot of soup, but you can always freeze it.

Then I went about making my chicken soup for this Returning Citizen’s Soul:

-Boil a soup pot 2/3 full of water and add lots of salt (“It really takes a lot of salt,” explains E)
-Add your chicken and boil for 15 minutes (E says, “You don’t want your chicken tough”)
-Remove chicken and then add diced potatoes to the broth
-Reduce heat to a simmer
-Finely chop red onion and garlic (I used the Cuisinart) and sauté in a tablespoon of Olive Oil
-Add diced tomatoes to broth (I used canned because I didn’t want to blanche tomatoes—lazy me)
-Debone chicken and add to broth mixture—add more salt!
-Add fresh snow peas that are trimmed and cut in quarters
-Add onion/garlic mixture and sliced mushrooms to what is becoming your soup
-Add fresh basil, oregano, and lemon pepper, more salt
-Throw in a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes

Then stir it all together and hold your heart with compassion and hope; have one bowl for yourself and then give the rest to a Returning Citizen.

I put my soup in a little red bowl and ate two helpings. My soul felt better.Bowl of Chicken Soup

My books are breathing, I set up my writing desk, my chicken soup is cooling, my heart is a little heavy, but I do not want to die. This time of year is a challenge for me, but I am learning to take care of myself in spite of it all. I am fighting to live because so many are holding me in their hearts with compassion, faith and love.

BookCase_Computer Desk

Blessings,

Amme Voz

Suitcase Living

Dedicated to the Homeless (Seen and Unseen)

On August 21, 2015 I officially stopped being homeless and moved into a one-bed room apartment that is MY home.

My Kitchen

On June 22, 2015 I became a part of another statistic. Quite frankly it’s getting kind of irritating. No. I was never in a shelter, or street homeless. I was a part of the homeless that are invisible and terrified of what hitting bottom really means. The homeless that have no fixed address, but someone else’s home to sleep in—someone to be beholden to.

Those sleeping on the couches of friends, families or people who pretend to want to help us—are homeless. Suitcase dwelling was difficult and riddled with anxiety for me when I was staying with someone and her family. It was even lonelier and harder for me once I was moved to a hotel paid for by the government agency that assists those who survive domestic violence with temporary shelter.

suitcasebagsbags_purse_bin

When I was forced out of my apartment because of the poverty pimps that prey upon the marginalized with mental health struggles and who have a “criminal history” I joined the tribe of the homeless. I started a journey that would lead to suitcase living that lasted exactly two months.

The hotel where I was housed was in a pretty shady neighborhood. To get to public transportation, I had to walk ¾ of a mile—which is nothing. However, I had to walk over a bridge that abuts a wooded area and this is where the street homeless live. Each morning as I headed to work or to appointments the first thing I saw on my walk was a man’s closet, bathroom and bedroom. It was a reminder of where I might end up. It was a reminder for me to be grateful and to not give up.shirts_ny_ave

Getting free from suitcase living has been difficult and terrifying. Although I always had a dwelling, I was a part of the homeless population in DC because I had no fixed address. And everyday as I hunted for an apartment and was rejected time after time the clock was ticking and I was terrified that the man I saw each morning was foreshadowing as to my new home.

Yet I am lucky. I am surrounded with love from people who owe me nothing. Other than my niece, I have received no support from any other family member. I sit here amongst my things and I know how vulnerable I was/am and so many came forward and fought for me with their privilege, words, power, honesty and steadfast support and belief in me.

However, I  continue to struggle with feeling safe and secure because so much has happened and every step forward seems to send me 20 steps back.I am slowly unpacking because I am terrified of feeling at ease.

Tonight, I finally put all the dishes away. Yesterday I set up my baking rack and most of the books are living their lives on their shelves—but I do not have enough bookshelves.  My friends sent me hundreds of books during my incarceration (to add to the hundreds that I was missing) and they are with me—these books from incarceration are a part of me. And I will soon find shelves for them to live upon.Baking Rack

The clothes are struggling to slowly make their way out of the suitcases and bags. The shoes are still in baskets and my leaning bookshelf laptop desk sits empty. I am afraid to set it up and write my stories on it. I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Leaning Computer Desk

Still I have been getting up every morning and thinking there is much to do. There are so many who are silenced. There are families living in motels that are in shady areas because this is what the City thinks they deserve. There are men and women in bushes bathing with jugs of water and sleeping on dirty mattresses that are on an incline. There are women and men rotting in prison with mental health struggles and no advocacy and help.

Then there are the poverty pimps that had the audacity to ask my advocates why I feel entitled to a place of my own. We are all entitled. Each and every one of us is entitled to quality, safe housing, enough good healthy (and unhealthy should you desire it) food, clothes, shoes and medical attention that is preventative and holistic and so much more—like Compassion.

I listen to fake nonprofit poverty pimps and jackass politicians and government employees sitting on their Good Government Job (GGJ) Asses and pissing all over the poor, hungry and/or those “convicted of crimes”. And often they quote the Bible—true story the poverty pimps I encounter often tell me what great “Christians” they are—to justify spouting hatred and cutting benefits and assistance to the most needy and I want to remind them that deeds speak of your faith not hypocrisy.

“If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Yes, I just quoted that! Read the Book of James. And then hide your faces in shame. Just. Equal. Fair. Society. For All.

T, E, D, W, A, E, J, C and S your unwavering support for me and all the others that you carry with you in your hearts and fight for—put the F in faith for me. Your works are alive and I am a testament to how you all use your gifts. I keep moving forward because of all of you.  I take nothing for granted and feel honored by your gifts.

Amme Voz (remember I am Episcopalian) 🙂

 

When Compliments Hurt

help_wrist banage

Recently I was a guest speaker at an event involving some fairly sophisticated and “educated” people in the field of psychology and incarceration. I was there to speak about my experiences while incarcerated and struggles with mental health.

Whenever I am invited to speak or be on a panel, I look my best. I spent two hours on my hair, my nails were freshly painted and I had on a beautiful pale peach suit jacket and slim fitting black skirt and of course strappy heals. I looked fierce. I had to because the crowd I was facing knew me as a formerly incarcerated person with mental illness. They did not know me as a free person and I wanted them to see that I am surviving and at times thriving.

While the talk went over well and I did not puke, gag or use any potty language, I think I came across too stable. I did that thing that I learned years ago that is called a coping skill. I prettied myself up, became hyper articulate and disassociated myself from the person I was describing; the person before them who is a trauma survivor before, during and post prison.

smiling face_mental illness sign

After the talk I stood in the hallway with my co-workers and a few of the group I had spoken to about my struggles and survival. The talk turned to women with mental illness in prison and bringing Trauma Informed Care training to all the prisons for all staff. One woman looked at me as I explained how important this was to me and she said, “Yes. But you are not like those women we interviewed.” I paused and said, “What do you mean?” She answered, “Look at you. You are classy. Articulate. So well put together. These women are really damaged. They have suffered abuse after abuse. Just so much abuse they are destroyed.” Then another person from the event looked at me and said, “And you are an amazing self advocate.”

My heart constricted. I placed my hand over it and looked at both of these individuals, who meant me no harm and I said, “You never saw me in the Turtle Suit. You never saw me when I was unable to speak for myself.” I wanted to say, “You don’t know anything about how much abuse I have survived. You know nothing about how damaged I am.” And still they insisted that I am not like “those women” interviewed at the prison.

Yes. I am well put together. But I dare you to step inside my head and look around. I want all of you to know this: The stories of survival that I share with you are easy. The abuse that I write and speak about is not even a tenth of what I have survived. And it hurts when people look at me and tell me I am not, “…like those women.” Not only is this a slice into my soul survival it is an insult to “those women”.

 

faces_mental illness

I am “those women”, and one day I will be able to tell my whole truth. For now, just know that it is by Grace that I do not openly show that at times I live in an alternate world. Hear this truth, each day is a struggle for me against the past and slipping into complete madness. By Grace I manage to show the make-believe me. As my therapist says, “Fake it to you make it.” I have this wish for all of us—those women who are me—that we make it.

bill clinton quote on mental illness

Amme Voz

You Got That Look

 

brown wonder womanA couple a weeks ago I was walking in China Town/Gallery Place in NW DC. I was on my way to a job interview that I did not want but would have taken it out of desperation if offered. Jut before I got off the train, I exchanged my flip flops for my black leather Calvin Klein sling back heels that I purchased pre-prison to go with my black Calvin Klein suit.

slingback heels

China Town is tricky in DC. Many of the sidewalks are brick and have traps for those of us strutting around in heels hoping for jobs we don’t want. I was trying so damn hard not to get stuck and trip (which has happened before). It was warm, I was deciding if I should take a Xanax because I was recently homeless and staying in a very crowded and hostile place. Thus, I was exhausted from having nightmares and my life felt like (feels like) one shit show after the other.

As I struggled to stay upright and look “normal” this man passed by me and said, “Oh yeah, you got that look?” He was short, dirty, and looked at me as if I was responsible for his height and hygiene issues. I responded, “Well I don’t know what ‘that look’ is and whatever it is I don’t want it.” This JackAss looked me up and down (obviously angry about his shortness and homelessness) and said, “When I knock yo’ ass down then you know what fuckin’ look I’m talkin’ bout.”

Fascinating. Here I was deciding if I needed to take a Xanax to keep my shit together and this asshole threatens me. I stopped in the middle of the crowded sipink macedewalk, full of its traps, and said, as I pulled out my pink canister of mace, “Well you should know when you try and knock me down I’m going to mace your ass and then you can tell me if I got that look. Asshole!” Then magically my anxiety vanished. I straightened my suit and walked steady and strong.

 

 

At the same time I felt deep sadness that I pass without even trying. I have no shame about being a Returning Citizen. I suffer humiliation because the media decided mendacities sell better than honesty, but time will heal that wound and truth will out. I have no guilt about being queer, but I feel immense shame about my mental health struggles. My biggest hurtle is myself and believing that I need to “confess” my story, as my boss explains to me. I owe no one my story except for my son.

If people choose to appropriate me for their own purposes and refuse to see me, I cannot change their ideas and beliefs. But here is the truth: I am homeless; I have three weeks left in the hotel paid for by a government agency that helps victims of crime and then I don’t know what will happen if I cannot find an apartment; and each and every day I battle with anxiety and random triggers.

Here is the more important truth: If you knock me down I’m going to get back up and then you should run. I’m no longer waking up everyday planning my death or thinking, “If it gets too bad I can kill myself.” Instead, I wake up, pull myself together and do the work of surviving so that other women like me will live easier. As Miki Howard sings, “You can count me down, but you can’t count me out.”

determined_survivor_resilient

Amme Voz

Too Controversial For Al Jazeera TV

Too Controversial For Al Jazeera TV

What never ceases to amaze me is how people are complicit with injustice. I don’t talk about my case on this blog because it is extremely hurtful, shame filled, and humiliating what the press did to me because of who my case involved. And I am not bitter, just so sad that I could not speak for myself and that I served four and a half years and I know my truth, as do the people involved.

Right now there is this hubbub because our President (and I absolutely adore him—Haters don’t even go there with me this is my blog) went to visit a federal prison in Oklahoma. Prison reform is all the rage this week. However, TalkPoverty.org did not reach out to me about prison reform, we have been working on the article for about a month. When they first found my blog they complimented my writing and asked if I would be interested in writing for their organization, and the article just spilled out of me.

After some vetting and decision-making, Talkpovert.org agreed to publish me, not because of the reason I went to prison or for how long. The staff recognizes that the important part of my story is my suffering and struggles while incarcerated: how prison officers, administrators, psychology staff and inmates abused me. The point of my story is that there is not even an ounce of rehabilitation and in fact prison officials at every level tried to tear me down and the wounds of my incarceration continue to weep.

Today, I received a call from a non-profit that works with DC female Returning Citizens. They informed me that Al Jazeera TV (which I actually used to watch) was trying to find a Returning Citizen to interview, someone who knew first hand the dehumanizing conditions of prison. With permission my name was given. The producer called me and I sent her to the TalkPoverty.org article. However, she knew my real name and I had to tell her my story. She was like, “Great. Great. This is what we are looking for.” Then she said, “We will send a car for you tomorrow at 4:30. Get your hair and make-up done and lead off with your story. It will air tomorrow night at 11:00.”

Later, the producer called back and asked for more clarity of my story. I don’t know if it is the fact that I am queer or the fact that my case involves a situation that would call into question the entire DC local judicial system. I really do not care.

What pisses the hell out of me is that these assholes came looking for someone “like me” and the organization they contacted knows how well I present and how compelling the issues are that I raise. What makes me want to scream is that they have the audacity to tell me the I am “Too controversial for Al Jazeera TV.” And putting myself out there is still painful and terrifying.

Fact: I’m not too controversial for you Al Jazeera TV. I’m too Precious! If you want honesty, truth telling and soul speak then please come looking for me. Otherwise, as Salt-N-Pepa say, “Either treat me right or just step-step.”

Al Jazeera TV you have just been left swiped, “I hate to be ya”!

Amme Voz

I Believe You

 I Believe You

 

When I was in my early twenties people would often ask, “Why do you talk so fast?” I would either laugh it off or hunch my shoulders. At some point I paused and thought about the fact that at times I spoke (still speak) at such a rapid speed it was hard for people to understand me and/or keep up. It has lots of clinical explanations, but the truth is harder to speak and accept.tongue_heart_image

This is what I figured out.

When I was a little girl, my older brother and I were beat with leather belts, the buckle of belts, extension cords, wire hangers, wooden hair brushes, “switches” from trees etc. etc. We were often punched, kicked and/or burned, and that was just the physical abuse—the emotional and verbal abuse is too, too much to touch.

The beatings always began in the same way: questioning about the “bad” behavior. Often the accusations of transgressions were not based upon fact. So, I believed that if I could just get the truth out fast enough, my mother or stepfather—sometimes my aunt or an uncle—would hear me and believe me. Each time I was asked about why I had done x, y or z I would start speaking really fast. Faster. Faster. Faster. The end result was always the same. Me running. Me being caught. Me being beat

This is what I learned.

At age eight from my mother, during a beating, “It’s supposed ta hurt.” So, I lost my tears for almost ten years.

This is what I carry.

At age nine, from mother, staring her down, refusing to cry as she slapped and punched me, “If your own mutha don’t love you. No one will eva love you. And. I. Don’t. Love. You.”

This is who I am.

Broken. Afraid. Recovering from a lifetime of trauma. And I learned today that I have been waiting a forever and a day for a stranger, to look at me and tell me that my current abuser is just that an ABUSER.

This is what happened.

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The Hearing Examiner sat across from me, and my two attorneys. She had left the poverty pimp—the head of the organization that housed me, abused me, and then retaliated by making me homeless—wait outside away from me. The Hearing Examiner sat across from me—a homeless, mentally ill, convicted felon—looked me in my eyes and said, “I believe you. I believe everything you told me.” Lifetime. She knew me less than two hours and—as one of my attorneys said—the Hearing Examiner knew I needed to hear her say, “I believe you.”

This is who I am becoming.

itissafe_formetospeakEmpowered because my therapist, my lawyers, and a very special man, K, surrounded me in light, love and validation. Vindicated, because I stood tall, spoke in spite of fear in front of the head of the abusers of the wicked organization and did not back down.

This is the truth.

We made change today, for me and all the current and future clients of this organization that attempted to tell me, “It’s supposed to hurt” and that, “No one will ever love me.” Alone, none of us can change the world, but we proved today, that together, that is another thing coming.

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I might not be someone’s only only Love. But I am loved. That Mother—and all the other Dementors that have come and gone and will try to come— is another smite to your lingering harm.

Blessings E, T, A, K, and the Hearing Examiner. Thanks for hearing AND believing me.

Amme Voz