What steps do you take to avoid sexual assault?

Social researcher Jackson Katz asked hundreds of men what steps they took on a daily basis to avoid sexual assault.

Katz states:

“At first there’s a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. Then the silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally a young guy will raise his hand and say ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states ‘Nothing, I don’t think about it.’”

The column on the right is what women answer.

Misconception

I’m drawing a line in the sand. If you don’t support women, get the fuck off my page.

This morning I came across a video of Donald Trump speaking to the people of Mississippi that still has me shaking in anger. After Dr. Ford finished her testimony, President Donald Trump, stated Dr Ford had a very compelling testimony. The man then proceeded to turn around and make a mockery of her testimony while speaking to the people of Mississippi. Laughing with the crowd at the very words Dr Ford said.

As someone who recently had to stand and face her attacker while speaking to the events of a night I never want to remember but will never forget I am broken. I’m broken for Dr Ford, women and our nation as a whole.

The strength it takes to speak up, to sit across from the man who raped you, to be traumatized and victimized again and again just to speak up for what is right is gut wrenching. Nobody should have to sit through baseless “suggestions” from opposing council that you wanted to have sex with your attacker, that you wanted the attention or that you in fact convinced him to have sex with you. But we do. We do this because we don’t want anyone to ever endure what we have. Because we want that man to realize what happens in the dark will be brought to light. Because we’re letting men know that if they hurt us, there will be repercussions.

And for the women who support these men, the women who defend them? Shame on you. Shame on you for standing up for a monster. Shame on you for victimizing the victim. Shame on you for not looking at cold hard facts because you so desperately want to believe you son, husband, father or boyfriend isn’t capable of something like this. I’m disappointed in you not only as a woman but a human being.

Now I want to speak to the biggest misconception surrounding all of this:

JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE ISN’T CONVICTED DOES NOT MEAN THEY DID NOT COMMIT THE CRIME.

The system is broken. The odds are never in a victims favour despite being the victim because the government would prefer to let one rapist go than convict one innocent party. And for anyone who wants to argue that victims lie and these men are innocent I have some cold hard facts for you:

“Research for the Home Office suggests that only 4% of cases of sexual violence reported to the UK police are found or suspected to be false. Studies carried out in Europe and in the US indicate rates of between 2% and 6%.”

So why do we speak up? What’s the point? Why allow someone to berate us and tell us what their client is paying them to say didn’t happen? Why do we put ourselves through a year of waiting just to go to trial? Because we have to. Because we’re tired of this and the only way this changes is if we keep talking. The more we speak, the less our voice shakes.

Trials rarely fall in the victims favour but you know what? That man will think fucking twice before assaulting another woman.

I found my voice, I won’t lose it.

February 2, 2017

This is, bar none, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I’ve been putting this off out of fear. Fear that once I start I won’t be able to stop. Fear that writing this will create more wounds on my already battered soul and fear that I won’t be able to convey just how traumatic this experience has been.

Should I start by telling you that being raped caused me to have a mental breakdown and later left me suicidal? Or would you like to hear how it’s changed my relationship with my family forever? Or perhaps that I lost life-long friends out of both alienation and harassment? Or maybe, you’d like me to share how giving up on myself caused me to gain 50lbs and absolutely despise the reflection looking back at me in the mirror. There are so many points in which I could start with, how is one to choose?

To begin, I’d like to take you back to before I was raped on February 2, 2017. You see, if you’d have known me then, you would know that I’ve always struggled with my weight and self image. You’d know that I’ve always resented the person I saw in the mirror. I craved the attention and affection of others because it was sadly hard to come by. I carry words both men and women have said to me since I was a child. However, if you knew me you’d also know I reached a breaking point. That at 25 I decided enough was enough. There were a series of events in my life that were out of my control at the time, so I decided to regain some of that. From baby steps to large leaps I worked harder than ever before and accomplished losing 65lbs.

This accomplishment helped change my perspective on life. Sure, my body and life were far from perfect, but I learned over time that this was more than okay. I gained confidence, security and was ready to conquer the world. I became incredibly proud of who I was and was happy with how my life was turning out.

With my newfound outlook and weight loss came the attention and affection I once desired. I was no longer a ghost in my own life. And, overtime I began to realize I didn’t need the attention and affection of others. All that mattered was how I felt about myself. It hurts me to tell you that there was a vast difference in how I was treated while obese to when I was thinner. Enduring this first hand had left me determined to remain humble. In short, I chose to see the good in people and take them for face value for everyone deserves a chance.

Following February 2nd, 2017, this changed.

I’m no longer proud of my accomplishments.

More often, I find myself resenting them. Perhaps if I were still 200lbs this wouldn’t have happened often creeped into my mind. I wanted to go back. I wanted to be the sick, miserable person I was before because in my mind, being a ghost in my own life was better than this kind of attention. I began to cover up as much as I could. I closed myself off from getting to know anyone. I loathe attention and affection of any sort and still do to this day.

I cannot tell you what it’s like to loathe the person you’ve worked so hard to become. Not only did I have a hard time appreciating my triumphs, they brought me a significant amount of anxiety.

Determined to undermine what I had become, I did my best to avoid being seen and heard and retreat into myself. From avoiding people, to dressing in dark clothing with hats and sunglasses as large as my face. I wanted the least amount of attention as possible. I wanted to go back. I wanted to be ignored. Daily tasks became hurdles I had to overcome. Walking around in public left me shifty and weary of my surroundings for months. Untrusting of the person who would serve me coffee or the man walking down on the opposite side of the street. Being hyperaware every second of everyday became increasingly exhausting. To the point that I struggled with leaving my home.  To the point where I let my life fall back into the pit of self hatred, to the point of regaining 50lbs.

This monster, who I never want to remember but will never forget has left me to be a prisoner in my own life. He creeps his way into my thoughts on what are said to be my “better” days and has sabotaged my accomplishments, my life, and the lives of those around me. You ask me to explain in detail how this monster has impacted my life and the truth? This horrendous event hasn’t just impacted my life. It’s impacted the lives of the people that surround me. This has shattered the lives of my loved ones to depths I will never be able to repair. My father, during my breakdown, had to witness his baby girl fall apart in the middle of the street. My mother, the strongest woman I’ll ever know, dealt with the brunt of my anger and frustration. My sister, who I lived with at the time, had to bare witness my downward spiral and having the police respond to fearful suicide watch calls without any real grasp as to what was happening and my best friend? My best friend put her life on the back burner trying to support me to the point where it took a toll on not just her mental but also her physical health. I pushed people away. I cut others out. I harassed friends on my darkest days and alienated them on the others. You see, when you’re in it, you don’t understand. You don’t see it.

It’s hard for me to sit here and admit that I had a mental breakdown. To admit that I was suicidal. To tell you in my darkest hours I’ve said some of the most heinous things to the ones that I love. It hurts me to say that I’ve spent a lot of time the past eight months resenting and blaming the people who stuck by me for where I am today. I now realize that if it weren’t for them I probably wouldn’t be here. All that has happened wasn’t out of punishment rather it was out of love and support. They were working for me not against me. I can’t bare the thought that I pushed them beyond their breaking point time and time again. They’ve had a front row seat in my life slowly falling apart and in saying this my heart breaks but also swells knowing they never gave up on me despite having given up on myself.

And now? They sit on the sidelines in hopes that I rebuild all while living in a constant state of fear. Fear that I will be swallowed by the depths in which I fall. Fear that I haven’t fully recovered. Fear that they cannot protect me every second of every day. They don’t say this, but I know. I know from the rapid depletion of my father’s health over the past six months. I know from the way my mother now looks at me. I know from the words my best friend will and will not say.

I miss my life. I miss my friends and the girl who truly felt as if she had life figured out. It wasn’t perfect, but she embraced it knowing that didn’t matter. I often breakdown because all I want is to go back. To rekindle the friendships. To regain that confidence. To my job that I loved. To being proud of the reflection in the mirror for she embraced her flaws. Now when I look in the mirror I see an empty shell. I often tell those who are close to me that if you shook me, I would sound hollow. That the echoes in my body would carry on for a life time. I find myself struggling to move forward because all I want is to go back. I miss my life and who I was but in writing this I’ve come to realize there is no going back. That I am no longer the same person I was before my life quite literally fell apart nor will I ever be. I am forever changed by these events and all I can do now is learn to live with them. They are as much a part of me as the blood that runs through my veins.

The events over the past year weigh me down more than I’ll ever be able to convey. I have many regrets, but I now know that I’ve carried this guilt for far too long. With tears running down my face I now see that all of this is not my fault. I realize that this, this is the impact this monster has had on not only my life but the ones I love.

On February 2, 2017, I was raped by a monster and this is how it’s impacted my life.

Awake

The nights I lay awake in bed, I wonder if I’m in your head. Do you miss me or even care? These are the thoughts I cannot bare. I hate to think you gave up on me, but now I know what I did not see.

There are days when I miss you so, but I understand friends come and go. We cannot help if we do not change, so I’m walking away no longer afraid. My past is draped in sadness and despair, but I refuse to say it’s not fair. We all have struggles that’s a fact, just remember you can always bounce back.

The nights I lay awake in bed, I’ll always remember what you said. I hope you’re happy, I hope you’re well when I think of you now my heart swells. Friendships come and friendships go, I hope you know I still love you so. I’m not angry or even sad I’m thankful for the times we had.

I love you. I miss you.

You would be so fucking proud of me. So proud. For speaking up. For taking my voice back. For finally fucking writing and not being afraid. I love you dearly because I know now that you said you were doing me a favour because you did not want to hurt me. Because we love each other dearly.

We are not equipped to love people. We are not equipped to share feelings without breaking down and we fear showing someone a side of us that in turn they won’t want to deal with. We hate to burden in fear of someone throwing in the towel. 

Our feelings are a carbon copy of how we feel inside and we feel everything the same way. I know this because I did the same thing to you. I prompted a conversation knowing it would push you away because I love you and didn’t want you to give up on me. You think you’re doing me less harm by staying away and in turn protecting yourself but know that we’re both hurting immensely.  

Unconditional love is knowing that you can and will do wrong because nobody is perfect. But love is about working through the bull shit. Trudging through those awful times to come out on top and celebrate the triumphs together.

I love you. I miss you. You gave me this strength. We aren’t friends but you told me I had a voice and you told me I could do anything, just like I tell you. Because we believe in each other. 

 So thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the person you are. We are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope you’re well. I hope you find this strength and courage on your darkest of hours knowing I’m still in your corner and always will be. I miss you more than anything.  This is for you. For me. For all of us.

“Fuckin’ white people”

“North American people are the only ones to line up for something as enjoyable as coffee just to take it and go sit on their ass at work.”

I’m paraphrasing this a touch. My friend started it off with “Fucking white people.” I didn’t see his point of view before, but overtime I’ve come to realize what he was really trying to get at:

There is a huge difference between North American culture compared to European and South American culture.

“Hi, I’d like, an extra-large coffee with two milks and a sleeve for the cup.” I say after waiting in line for ten minutes. It takes them two (maybe two and a half) minutes to get my order. During this time, I’m staring at my phone to make sure I’m not late for work.

“Extra large with two milks.” I hear from behind the counter. I smile and grab my coffee and check the time once more. I walk out the door like the rest of the cattle people heading to be branded with coffee in hand. By the time I get to work and settle in for the day, my fresh, hot coffee is now warm at best and piss cold it is when I’m finished.

(Editor’s note: I literally just had to nuke my latte because it’d gone cold while working!)

Now, in Europe or even South America the culture is very different. The emphasis isn’t put on the rat race and competition but more hard work and enjoyment. They’re happy to bust their ass and work hard day-to-day, but when it comes time to enjoy something they’re going to enjoy it knowing they’ve earned it.

I believe the point my friend was trying to make here was this: when you take a coffee to go you take the simple pleasure out of it. In Europe and South America, the culture is a much slower pace. They bust their ass hard at work but when it comes time to enjoy something or celebrate a win they’re going to kick back and do just that. Because they know not only that they’ve earned it, they deserve it.

I can’t tell you the last time my coffee was hot from start-to-finish, let alone the last time I sat in a café for pleasure.

North Americans have stopped taking the time to enjoy themselves because they no longer believe they deserve it. While life is about progression it’s also about enjoying life in the moment. We put so much emphasis on being successful that we stop enjoying the time it takes for us to reach the level of success we desire/aspire to reach. We’ve lost how to sit back and enjoy something because we’re always looking for that instant gratification. Working through obstacles to reach a goal is what makes the victories and accomplishments so sweet.

And what happens when we do accomplish something? We downplay it. Erase the significance, and move the goal post, rather than, I don’t know, celebrating it? What’s the point? We’re working towards these goals with no real destination and no satisfaction once reached. We equate happiness and enjoyment with a reward we refuse to give ourselves, and that can’t be how life works. If you’re always moving your goal post, you’re going to live a very sad life.

To erase the significance of a win is to deny yourself happiness. This is unacceptable. We are not perfect, we are human. We can and must celebrate the small wins because know this: a win is a win. The only person who can let that win be taken away from you, is you. You may be asked what’s next. You may be asked now what? You may be asked why are you celebrating? The beauty? That’s for you to decide.

Your trash is my cash – how I make money from garbage

If I told you that I make money from another person’s garbage, would you believe me? Better yet, if I told you that I picked up the once TV unit above from the trash and made $120-dollar profit from two hours work, would you keep reading? Good. Keep fuckin reading. Now the truth of the matter is if you’re reading this you either want or need more money. Whether you’ve lost your job, want to be your own boss, pick up a new hobby that you can profit from or save for that next vacation – we all want more. I’ve found the way. The life-hack. The ultimate DIY and the best thing of all? Anyone can do it.

Something you may not know about me is I live in Downtown Toronto. Canada’s very own New York City. People from all over the world migrate to this city with dreams of a better life. We currently have the fastest growing housing market in the world where the average single-family home can easily sell for $60,000 over asking price. It’s insane. The cost of living is increasing drastically and our pay rates are staying the same.

What does that mean you ask? What does one have to do with the other? Guys it means I’m fuckin poor. I’m barely scraping by and this to me is just unacceptable. I used to accept this but I’m done.

Fact: the average millionaire has seven sources of income.

Do you know how long I’ve spent working a 9-5 job miserable just to come home, watch TV while stuffing my face just to do it all again the next day? Since my first office job. It sounds pathetic because that’s exactly what it was. It was fuckin pathetic. I have been living the life of a robot and I refuse to do this any longer. When you realize that life is about progression and working towards goals and aspirations and that you can achieve ANYTHING you put your mind to then you will not fail. You will have set backs but you will learn from them and understand that they make you stronger.

Okay I know you’re all thinking “Lindsay, get to the point. Tell us how to make the $$$$$$.” Here it is:

  1. Find your driving force
    My driving force is the criticism I receive and my current position in life but understand that my driving force is different than yours. It takes time to figure it out so don’t beat yourself up over this. Like everything, it takes time.
  2. Analyze and assess
    I don’t pick up just ANY piece of furniture I see. I take a moment to assess it. You must know what you’re getting yourself into. Yes, the furniture is free but how much work does it require? How much money do I have to put into it before I make a return? How will I fix it up? And most important: Would I buy it? I’ve gotten this assessment down to two minutes. Don’t bull shit yourself. It either works or it doesn’t.
  3. Find your target audience
    I say to myself during an assessment “Would I buy this” because I am the market I want to target. I want to appeal to people in their early 20’s up to mid 30’s because I have more knowledge on styles and trends they tend to follow. This allows me to apply it to the project at hand for a maximum return.
  4. Find your platform
    This one is fun because the options are endless. There are many ways to sell the furniture you’ve restored and you can use as many as you need when you’re first starting out. A few of my favourites are: Facebook Groups, Craigslist, Kijiji, Etsy and Instagram. Now don’t forget about step 2 when finding your platform. There are many things to take into consideration. How much is shipping? How much will it cost me to deliver? How much will I profit?  Remember these questions are crucial to your success.
  5. Get to work!
    I loved this project because I knew the moment I saw it I wanted to turn it into a seating bench. My original assessment was no more than .5 seconds long. I wanted to paint it white and make some seat cushions. I wanted to market it as an outdoor bench. I began sanding it down and when I grabbed my paint I noticed I had teal. A light bulb went off and I changed my approach. I’ve always wanted a nice statement piece in my house. A rustic piece of furniture in a random colour to make a room pop. I want people to walk in and go “OU! Where’s that from!” so I decided I’d go with an antique TV stand. I couldn’t be happier with this split-second decision.
  6. Stage. Stage. Stage.
    I cannot reiterate the importance of this step enough. Drill this process into your brain and you can send me a thank you note later. The rate in which a product will sell is dependent on many factors and one of the easiest factors to fuck up is staging. People underestimate how much faster a house will sell if is staged right. What do I mean when I say staging? I mean making it livable. Functional. You want your audience to look at it and think “that would look great in the living room!” or “That’d be perfect I never thought to use it for that!” You must share your vision for it so others are able to picture it in their own space. People need visuals. This gets me every sale. Every time. I pick a couple different ways in which I think it could be used and decorate it accordingly. 
    I originally set out to stage this as a TV stand or coffee table but while staging it as a TV stand I couldn’t help but wish I turned it into a bench. Another light bulb! I went for lunch the day prior at a cute little restaurant and sat on the patio. The reason I share this is because I remembered they had wood benches with a pillow behind it. I ran to my room and grabbed every pillow I had and started playing around with it. I couldn’t have been prouder of the outcome.
  7. Final assessment
    Final step!! Assess your work! Consider the quality. Consider the time and money you’ve put into it and decide on a price that you find to be reasonable and that you yourself would be willing to pay. This assessment took me two minutes. I spent a couple hours on this project sanding it down, painting, staging and posting it. I did not have to spend money because I had the paint but I was damn proud of this shoe bench and would have been happy to keep it for my home. I wanted my price to reflect that. I decided on $120 and posted it just to have it sold and picked up three days later.

 

 

 

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