Mental Health in America

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I wrote a post on the American Justice system a few months back after attending a court session on my nephew’s murder.  It is appalling! Well, unfortunately, I have now had experience with the Mental Health system in America.  After I tell you my story, you will most likely agree with me as to why we are having so many mass shootings in America.  Tell me you work for the Mental Health system in America and I will tell you to find a different job because you are helping no one.  Sorry to be so blunt but from my experience, it’s true.  It’s all about money.  They don’t care about the patient.  They just drug them up in hopes it will help or so they don’t have to deal with the patient.  So, the pharmaceutical company is making money as well, thanks to the mental health workers. Continue reading

Modern Day Slavery: Human Sex Trafficking Among Native American Women

This is the essay I did as a nonfiction piece not a creative nonfiction piece.

Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry, and though it affects nearly every community across our nation, it is commonplace here in the US and in Indian Country.  According to Lisa Brunner, Executive Director and CEO Sacred Spirits First Nations Coalition, who testified in front of Congress, “Native women experience violent victimization at a higher rate than any other US population.  More than 1 in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetime; more than 6 in 10 will be physically assaulted. Native women are murdered at more than ten times the national average” (Brunner 2016).  According to a new report published in May 2016 from the National Institute of Justice, “Among American Indian and Alaska Native women, 56.1 percent have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime and 14.4 percent have experienced it in the past year. Among American Indian and Alaska Native victims, 96 percent of women and 89 percent of men have experienced sexual violence by an interracial perpetrator” (Research Report p 11).

Prior to colonial contact, violence against Native women was very rare.  In fact, women were acknowledged to be sacred and revered members of their communities. However, the long-term impacts of government actions which caused widespread poverty, low educational attainment, high rates of community and interpersonal violence, high rates of alcohol-related deaths and suicide, poor physical health, and corroded family and community relations.  The U.S. government outlawed gatherings for ceremonies and it wasn’t until 1978 that American Indians were allowed to fully practice their traditional religions. All of which the U.S. government has never acknowledged, never apologized for, or attempted to compensate for its treatment of American Indians.

From the mid-1500s when the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto wrote in his journal how he and his men had captured Appalachee women in Florida “for their foul use and lewdness” (Galley 2002).  The fact that Native women would have sex with colonist that were connected to trade made them out to be tainted and mercenary (Fischer 2002). Because of these beliefs, Native women were raped and harassed by English surveying teams and the framework was set to justify the sexual exploitation of American Indian women who colonist believed to be sexually loose, mercenary and immoral having no regard for the norms of decent society. The U.S. Army, as immigrants moved westward, not only killed American Indian men in battle, but also slaughtered entire encampments of women, elders and children.  Referred to as “breeders”, American Indian women were raped, murdered, and sexually mutilated.

The atrocities continued throughout the generations.  In the 1850s, the U.S. government established and relocated American Indians to reservations for assimilation.  In 1879, the Bureau of Indian Affairs opened Carlisle Industrial School in Pennsylvania, which became the model for government-funded, Christian-oriented Indian boarding schools.  In its 39 years of operation, approximately 12,000 American Indian children attended (Anderson 2000).  According to the Dawes Allotment Acct in 1887, each reservations was broken up into 160 acre parcels which was allotted to individual heads of family, and it allowed the government to sell any unallotted land which resulted in 17 million acres of Indian land sold to companies or white men.  From 1950 to the 1970s, the U.S. government performed involuntary sterilization of Native women, approved of tribal termination and urban relocation efforts, and enforced large scale efforts into adopting Native children into white families.

What does all this have to do with today’s sex trafficking of Native American women?  Plenty.  History set the stage to what can be “described as “a perfect storm” of victimization, oppression, and poverty that makes Native American women vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation” (Shattered Hearts Report 2009).  According to the Trafficking Victim Protection Act (2002), “Trafficking involves sexual exploitation of persons, predominately women and girls, involving activities related to prostitution, pornography, sex tourism, and other commercial sexual services.  Victims are often forced through physical violence to engage in sex acts or perform slavery-like labor.  Such force includes rape and other forms of sexual abuse, torture, starvation, imprisonment, threats, psychological abuse, and coercion” (22). Most of these victims were sexually abused as kids.  Some young women are coerced into believing they are providing for their families.  All are poverty stricken and feel this is their only “career” choice.

Almost all the stories sound alike.  In the city of Duluth, a port city in Minnesota, many Native women, mothers and daughters alike, are driven into prostitution by poverty and homelessness.  Generations of Native women have sold themselves in order to survive.  There has been a large increase in the number of prostitutes since 2000, especially those who are underage.  Criminals know they are less likely to be arrested or prosecuted for trafficking and the overhead is far less than that required for selling drugs.  The internet has increased the demand for prostitutes with escort services, both online and by phone, which provides a somewhat legal means for prostitutes and buyers to connect.  The internet also aids the movement and coordination of prostitution.  Pimps coordinate meet-ups between the women and buyers at rural bars and strip clubs.  The police noted it seems to be growing in organization and sophistication (Pember 2012).

Between the significant lack of federal or state funding for helping domestically trafficked or prostituted women, and the distrust of law enforcement among Native girls and women many traffickers suffer no real consequences even if they agree to testify.  Lieutenant Scott Drewlo of the Duluth police notes, “As an example, “the big boat case” of 2000, in which a 14-year-old Native girl was sold to the crew of a ship by a gang in Duluth. According to Drewlo, organized crime in the form of gangs has played a large role in trafficking girls in and around Duluth for years. The girl was locked in a cabin on the boat for days while the crew raped her repeatedly. She managed to escape when the ship was in port in Cleveland and made her way back to Duluth, where she contacted police. In the end, however, she was too frightened to testify and disappeared. We have no way of knowing how many times this sort of thing has happened,” he says (Pember 2012).

Vednita Carter, founder of Breaking Free, a Minneapolis-based non-profit dedicated to helping women escape prostitution says “true choice is the ability to change your mind and leave a situation, however, you can’t just walk away from prostitution.  Once you’ve been involved so many things have happened that prevent you from leaving. I like to call it New Age Slavery.  At some point, their spirits fall down and they see that they are indeed victims” (2)  She claims initially some glamorize the life and speak fondly of the attention from men, wearing fancy clothes, going out to eat, staying in nice hotels.  “I tell them that’s not prostitution.  I ask them how they felt when a stranger ordered them to their knees and demanded they open their mouths. Sometimes they being to cry,” Carter said.  It is then they come to realize they’ve been hurt, things have happened to them that they never expected to happen.  A man can do anything he wants to a prostitute; “the women who come to us are broken” said Carter.

Now that sex trafficking is beginning to get the attention of federal, state, and tribal health and social service agencies, they are struggling to create meaningful ways to serve sex trafficking victims. The stringent barriers created though are causing problems.  Some services are requiring adult victims to cooperate with law enforcement to receive services.  Because some victims won’t cooperate, they are turned away.  Minors, on the other hand, are not required to work with law enforcement, but are encouraged to do so.  The first and only shelter designated to serve Native American sex trafficking victims has recently been funded by the Department of Justice.  Located on the Crow Creek Reservation, Pathfinders, as it’s called, is due to open later this year and will offer long-term housing for survivors as well as mental health, job training, and spiritual support services.

The question arises, would sex trafficking decrease if prostitution was made legal? The Nordic Model, also known as the Sex Buyer Law, decriminalizes all those who are prostituted, provides support services to help them exit, and makes buying people for sex a criminal offense, in order to reduce the demand that drives sex trafficking.  It was pioneered in Sweden after extensive research and has been adopted by countries such as Canada, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand. The UK is currently looking into implementing the Nordic Model.  Has it worked? According to the countries that have criminalized sex buyers, such as Sweden, have seen a significant drop in sex trafficking per capita than Denmark and Germany where buying sex is legal.  Street prostitution has halved and the Swedish government determined that this is not because prostitution has moved inside.

Native American women experience violence, rape, physical assault, and murder in the United States at a higher rate than any other population.  This outrage alone should make people stand up and take notice. Prior to colonization, violence against Native American women was rare, however the long-term impacts of government actions caused widespread poverty, high rates of alcoholism and drug use, and low educational attainment throughout the generations of the Indian nations.  History set the stage for the perfect storm and Native American women became vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation.  Because of poverty and homelessness, mothers and daughters alike have turned to prostitution in order to survive.  Thanks to the dedication of many organizations like “Breaking Free” and funding from the Justice Department, giving these women a choice to end their life of prostitution with shelter, education, job training, and spiritual support, there may be hope for some of these women.  Gaining trust in law enforcement and providing safe access to those who decide to go after their perpetrators remains a huge problem in helping victims.  Some think adopting the Nordic Model will decrease sex trafficking everywhere. Awareness is key to the start of the solution.  We must, as a nation, end poverty; we must, as a nation, end homelessness; we must, as a nation, embrace our brothers and sisters with compassion and understanding. For without our help, this crime on women will never go away.

References

Anderson S, (2000). On sacred ground: commemorating survival and loss at the Carlisle Indian School, Central Pennsylvania Magazine (May edition).

Brunner, Lisa (2016). Executive Director and CEO Sacred Spirits First Nations Coalition. Personal Interview. 16 Sept. 2016. Print.

Carter, Vednita. (2015). Founder and President of Breaking Free

Fischer K, (2002). Suspect relations: Sex, race, and resistance in colonial North Carolina, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, p. 56

Gallay A, (2002). The Indian slave trade: The rise of the English empire in the American South, 1670-1717. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 34.

Pember, Mary Annette. (2012). “Native Girls are being Exploited and Destroyed at an Alarming Rate”. Indian Country Today Media Network. 16 August 2012. Web.

“The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of American Indian Women and Girls in Minnesota”. Shattered Hearts. Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. August 2009.

 

American Justice System

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Last May my nephew was murdered in a home invasion which was done by the RBC gang in Denver, CO.  Out of the 14 gang members responsible, all have been caught and the majority of them were juveniles at the time of the crime.  One juvenile is in California, where, after killing my nephew, he traveled from Denver to Torrance and proceeded to break into a little old ladies home, beat her and robbed her house.  Her neighbor though saw a strange vehicle parked in front of her home and called the police.  Lucky for her.  This guy is a killer and I can guarantee he would have killed this little old lady before leaving her to identify him.

When the police arrived at her home, they caught one guy who had tried to run away the other one was hiding in the attic of her garage.  If the canine unit had not been called in, I fear he would have gotten away.  The dog found him and notified his handler.  He was quickly arrested.  But because he was only 17, California news was not able to show his face.  That wasn’t the case in Colorado.  His face was plastered all over the news because he was wanted for first degree murder.  A young black male with long dread locks and blue eyes.  Already a career criminal, he is still being held in Los Angeles to face his crimes there, hopefully, he will be charged as an adult and then Colorado will get him to face murder charges here.

As I sat in court today listening to the judge and the taxpayer paid defense attorneys, I was astonished at how little I actually knew about the American justice system.  What a racket!  And we are paying for it.  We are paying for these criminals to use the system to benefit themselves.  Out of all the cases I heard from 830 am until 1130 am, 3 white guys were charged with probation violations, drugs (meth), resisting arrest and the rest of the criminals were black or Mexican, drugs and probation violations for who knows what.  One young Latina girl was in for probation violation.  Apparently, she pissed dirty.  The judge sitting on the bench was extremely kind to all the inmates.  He greeted each one pleasantly and would then proceed to go over their case and why they were once again standing in front of him.

This young girl had been given probation back in April 2017 for drugs.  She was ordered to take drug rehab classes and pay some fines.  She did neither.  In fact, when her probation officer gave her a pee test, she failed it.  Her lawyer continually made excuses for her.  She had had a job at McDonald’s but got fired because she called in sick (ahhh, that doesn’t happen if you call in sick once.) She had been searching for other employment to no avail, according to her attorney and this was the reason she wasn’t able to pay for her fines.  Oh, and she had just found out she was pregnant so the probability of her using drugs during her pregnancy was not going to happen.  (Really?)

The judge was a wise man, which is why he was sitting on the bench.  He spoke to her kindly.  He let her know he had been very lenient with her back in April, he had given her 2 years probation, some fines to pay (total of $500), and required her to take some drug rehab classes.  She violated her probation, hadn’t paid but $60 towards her fines, and she was using drugs again.  He didn’t believe her when she told him if he put her in jail, it would hinder her finding a job and getting her fines paid.  He didn’t buy it.  He started her probation all over again from today (2 years), her fines were $600, and now, since she didn’t seem to be learning her lesson, he gave her 45 days in jail.  The officer came up and cuffed her hands behind her back and took her away as tears rolled down her face.

A shocking revelation was seeing the way some of these girls were dressed like hookers!  They were laughing and joking in the hallways.  One girl was wearing a pair of jeans, if you could call them jeans, the holes were so large there was barely any material on her legs, with thigh high black suede heel boots and a white sweater.  I looked at the victim advocate who was there and said, you know, when I was growing up, I was taught to always look and dress professionally.  She turned to me and said, well, they’re probably going to get to see their man. To which my husband said, well, maybe they are dressed for their profession, prostitution.  I did a piece on poverty once, thinking this was why there were so many Mexican and Black men in prison, but to see how these young girls were dressed today had nothing to do with poverty and everything to do with upbringing.

Another criminal couldn’t speak a lick of English and was from some place in Africa. I have no idea what language he spoke but they had to call someone on the phone to translate what the judge was saying to him and what he was saying to the judge.  When he left the court room, I wanted so badly to run after him calling “Sir? Sir?” to see if he would turn around.  If you can’t speak English and you’re in this country committing crimes no matter what that crime is, you need to leave.  Don’t waste the American taxpayers money on him, send him home.

Two of the dirt bags that took part in robbing and taking my nephew’s life were up for arraignment, which is why we were in court, mostly to support my husband’s sister and husband.  After hearing stories about how the defendants families would show up in the court room in previous hearings taunting my sister in law and husband, we felt we needed to show them support and maybe knock a few teeth out in the hallway if they did it while we were there.  Surprisingly, when they did see us, they didn’t say one word.

Both men plead not guilty, which understandably, they want to waste more taxpayer money even though strong evidence, fingerprints and blood, as well as GPS monitors, place them at the robbery/murder.  They are in jail with no bond, and both came out with smug looks on their faces.  Glancing over at us, smiling, but guess who will be smiling at the end of all this when they are found guilty and spending years behind bars. In fact, when that verdict is read, I will be standing and clapping my hands.

One thing I learned, and I’m sure you didn’t know this either, unless you’re in law enforcement, when a convict is wearing a GPS tracker, they can go wherever the hell they want to go.  Now it depends on the reason they are wearing a tracker and what the judge rules for that tracker, but these little gang member, career criminals were able to roam the entire metro area without 24/7 monitoring.  That’s right.  Here’s another false sense of security for the general public.  We are not safe from these pieces of shits.  The only good thing about the tracker is it places them at the scene of the crime.  However, it didn’t stop them from robbing not only my sister in law’s house, but 7 other houses that night.  It didn’t stop them from having a handgun and shooting my nephew or shooting a 12 year old lab in the face.  It didn’t stop them from stealing a car. Nope.  But it did help the police find these asshats sooner than later, after the damage was done.

The American justice system is a very long and frustrating process.  They tell me it’s because they don’t want to convict anyone who may be innocent.  Seriously? Then how come innocent people have gone to jail? By the looks of these people, none of them were innocent and no amount of jail time or probation time or fines will make them turn a corner or see the light.  No, I actually prefer the justice system of the old West, or China even.  Hang ’em high.  Eye for an eye.  Am I cynical?  You betcha.   If you don’t believe me, try sitting in a court room and watch and listen.  I have no doubt in my mind, you will walk away shaking your head just like I did.  This isn’t poverty at work, it’s a lack of disregard for your fellow man and the unending cycle of always wanting or deserving of a hand out.

Resolutions are for Sissy’s

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The reason I say that is because rarely are resolutions kept.  I know, for me, every year in the past, I have made resolutions only to drop them, so this year, rather than make some silly, sissy resolutions, I have decided to adopt a new attitude.  You can be with me or not.  We all need different things in our lives to keep us pumped.  This will keep me pumped and at peace for a long while.  Happy New Year everyone!

I’m walking into 2018 with a clear heart & mind:
If you owe me, don’t worry about it – you’re welcome…
If you wronged me, it’s all good – lesson learned…
If you’re angry with me, no argument – you’ve won…
If we haven’t spoken, it’s cool – I love you & I wish you well…
If you feel I have wronged you, I apologize…it’s never intentional.

Life is too short for all the pent up anger, holding grudges, pride, spite, extra stress, drama & pain that comes along with it!

I’m Sorry
Please Forgive Me
Thank You
I Love You

Peace, Love, & Blessings

False Sense of Security

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It was a cold December Friday night, the first to be exact. The moon was as full as it has ever been, at least that’s what it seemed.  The local high school was putting on a concert.  Since there really isn’t much to do in this small town, especially on a Friday night, the kids who were attending were excited to be able to let their hair down and do some dancing.  The concession stands were busy with students purchasing snack foods and drinks.

One of the young organizers of the concert was running a concession stand and forgot something at her home.  She told her fellow workers she’d be right back.  She jumped into her car and headed back home.  Home was on a ranch which sits back from the road.  A smart student who was on the speech team, was in the drama club, preparing for the school Christmas production and along with other school activities, her music was most likely playing loud from the iPod she had plugged into her car stereo.  The only lights available on that dark road leading to her home was the full moon and her headlights.

(Speculating here:) As she approached her house, she noticed a light colored mini van parked in the driveway.  She knew it wasn’t her parents, they were busy running the restaurant they owned in town.  She knew it wasn’t her brother because she had left him at the school listening to the concert.  She knew it wasn’t her sister because she was away at school.  Maybe it was one of the ranch hands?  Without hesitating, she entered her home only to find out it was a stranger robbing their house.  What happened then only God knows.

Her friends thought it odd when she didn’t return to the concert and this is when they became concerned.  When the police were called, they went to her house, to find it ablaze and found her car in the driveway, but no sign of Maggie.  The fire department was able to put out the fire before it spread.  But the police were closed mouth about the whole incident.  They even got a judge to place a gag order on the case.  Did they know who this person was?  Did they not want him to get away?

For a week, the small community was left to wonder, What happened to Maggie?  Maggie, the star student who never had an unkind word to say about anyone.  Maggie, who many would see sitting in the family restaurant on weeknights working on her computer either on homework, a new speech, or studying her lines.  Maggie, who was so popular, everyone loved her.

And then exactly one week later, everyone found out that Maggie’s body had been found in the burned out house.  The house where she had surprised a stranger by coming home.  This stranger who stole weapons and ammo from her parents home, who took a gasoline can and set the place on fire either before or after killing her.  This evil, POS who obviously has no conscious or value for human life, was given an entire week to disappear.  The only descriptions so far: White man, 20’s, flash burns on his arms, driving a light colored mini van 1990s or early 2000’s model, last seen driving north on the 285 (for those that don’t know, he was headed towards Denver).  Gang member?  Who knows.  What we do know is he is armed and dangerous.

When I drive by their ranch gate, it is filling up fast with flowers and balloons.   A candlelight ceremony was held last night at 7:00 pm at Crow Hill Bible church in her honor.  Yes, we live in a very small community but most up here live on an acre or more of property.  Maggie lived on a ranch where they raise cattle and their house is set about a mile off the road.  You really don’t see much suspicious activity up here though we do keep our eyes open to it.  We have a false sense of security.  Bad things happen everywhere.  Evil people are everywhere.  I’m sure Maggie had no idea what was taking place in her home until it was too late.  She was only seventeen, graduating this May and most likely would have been going away to college.  Evil took her future away.

We really need to get over the false sense of security most of us have up here just because we live in a small community.  Don’t leave your purse in the car; lock your doors; lock your garage; get a safe and put all your valuables in it; get an alarm system.  In today’s day and age, living in the country or in the mountains is not what it used to be.

RIP Maggie.  You were loved and will be missed by many.  Let’s bring your prep to justice.

 

Happy One Year Anniversary!

 

 

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Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been one year since I started my blog.  Time flies when you’re having fun.

Some of you may think my writings are controversial.  Good.  Because they are!  My inspiration comes from the many things happening in the world right now.  And as you all know, I’m opinionated.  You don’t have to agree with what I write and honestly, if you don’t, I’m glad.  I love hearing other people’s opinions.  I’m not writing to change your mind, I’m writing to get down what’s on my mind.

This year I published some of my creative writing essays I wrote in college.   I also wrote about the women’s march, the women who are just now coming forward with harassment allegations, the fact my son and ex daughter in law won’t allow my grandchildren to visit me in Colorado, and other life events.

I’ve had several surgeries this past year, I graduated with high honors after trying to obtain my BA degree for almost 40 years, yikes!  But the fact remains, I did it!  I’d love to get a job but living in the Rocky Mountains in the winter is not when I want to be on the road to commute.  So, I’m looking for any type of editing job or freelance writing job I can do in the comfort of my own home.

We went to Italy and found my grandfather’s birth certificate as well as where he was born.  We were there for 15 days and just fell in love with Sorrento.  I really would love to live there for a year, just got to talk the hubby into actually doing it.  Bucket list!

I am still writing the serial killer novel with my writer friend Christine, and since we just decided where we want the story to go, the writing seems to just flow out of us.  Here’s hoping it will be completed early 2018.  I love our killer, Grant Dolan. But seriously, we really need to finish up the story because it seems our ideas are being written up by other writers, but great minds think alike.  Just keep this in mind, we started writing this book back in 2012, so it was our idea first!

We had a new baby granddaughter born last February and have another one on the way, either January or February.  We have just been so blessed this year.

I had my white Jeep painted pink and since I also sell makeup (Younique) I had eyelashes put on the headlights.  Whenever I am out and about in town, I constantly have people wanting to take a picture of my Jeep.

My hubby purchased a Volkswagon Trik which he is totally remodeling.  Once the Spring hits, we will sell our Harley Road King and hopefully, he will have the Trik cherried out so we can take it out for some serious cruising.  I may even try my hand at driving it…we’ll see.

We’ve had some happy times this year and some very sad times this year.  Our nephew was murdered in a home invasion and my sister in law and brother in law are having to deal with the aftermath of that tragedy.  Fourteen gang members were a part of the murder and fortunately, all of them were found and are currently being tried for not only his murder but the home invasion of 7 other houses, one where a dog was shot in the face but survived.  No one should have to go through such a devastating ordeal.

Since we live in a small town, I also write about how politics work up here.  We had a new board election and unfortunately, the candidates we were hoping would be voted in to make the necessary changes needed in order to keep our schools top notch didn’t get voted in.  So, business as usual.  Don’t be surprised when I write a story about the closing of our schools up here due to poor management.  I’ve already written several articles for the local papers and of course, the editor goes over them with a fine tooth comb.  But that’s okay.

So here’s to another eventful year full of life’s surprises.  And please feel free to leave me a comment on anything I may write, whether you agree with it or not.  It helps us writers know we are being “heard.”

I also started a tumblr account, if you would like to follow that as well.  Here is the link:

https://rockymountainwriter.tumblr.com

If you know of anyone who is thinking of writing their memoir or their families memoirs or needs a ghostwriter (I’m not proud), please give them my information.  I’m also getting into editing so if you know a writer who needs their work edited, I’d be happy to help them out for minimal charge.  Thank you so much for following me!

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy 2018!!!

Women who don’t speak up!

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It seems every morning when I wake up there is a new allegation of some man in power who sexually assaulted, harassed, or told a dirty joke to a woman who was highly offended.  Some of these allegations apparently happened over 30 years ago, some 20, some 10.  My question to these women:  Why didn’t  you speak up sooner?  Why did you wait so long to make public these acts of injustice?  I am highly suspect of women who choose not to stand up for what is right.  Your excuses are lame.  Come on!

Continue reading

#METOO

Pink!

It didn’t surprise me when I learned Harvey Weinstein was a sexual predator.  He was a powerful figure in Hollywood and could make or break an actor or actress.  You would think after Anita Hill blew the whistle on Clarence Thomas, these men would have gotten a clue.  The sad thing is, many of these women allowed men like Weinstein to get away with being an abuser rather than call him out on it years ago.

I have to admit, I too, was a victim of several sexual predators disguising themselves as  bosses and co-workers.  I felt like I had to act like a willing participant in order to keep my job.    Continue reading