I don’t see enough immigrant activists and immigration groups publicly standing with planned parenthood as they’re attacked left and right.
I am tired
Did social justice movements leave us silent?
We knew about gender roles way before it formulated as a word in our vocabulary. We knew because our fathers and brothers behaved and were treated differently than moms and sisters.
When processing emotions of what happened last night with regards to immigration, they’ll come out in all kinds of ways.
For the past two years I’ve become outspoken about being sexually abused as a child. I also lived undocumented for 19 years. While both, undocumented and victim/survivor, aren’t identities I carry with me, they’re realities that have impacted me. Sometimes, support from other immigrants isn’t where it should be.
When I started walking on this path of healing I thought forgiveness was part of the adventure. I thought about forgiving past friends, ex-partners, and the man who sexually abused me. Time and time again I am asked if I have forgiven him.
“It’ll bring you peace” they say to me.
I also heard the infamous, “if you don’t forgive him you are at risk of repeating cycles of abuse.”
“You’re just as bad as he is.”
“Forgiveness helps you move forward.”
“It is part of surviving a crime.”
“Forgive Angy, forgive.”
I. Am. Sick. And. Tired. Of. This.
The only person I have to forgive and make peace with is MYSELF me yo Angy. Hello! Did we forget I was the one who has had to deal with the consequences of all this?
I need to forgive myself for all the times I said I should’ve done more, better, different. I need to forgive me for all the blaming I placed on myself. I need to forgive myself for all the times I replayed it in my mind wondering if I said “no” loud enough. If I indeed pushed him off. If I said something to start the abuse. I need to forgive myself for all the sleepless nights and lack of food. I need to forgive myself because I did do enough and I am worth more.
I exist and I am breathing for myself and me only. I am not here for you. I am not here for him. I am not here to forgive him. I am not here to let him know that what he did is okay now. It is not my job to make him feel better. It was not okay. It never will be okay. I am not here to prioritize him. Forgiveness has become a tool to control survivors. Tying our peace and comfort into his existence.
Does anyone ever speak to him about forgiveness? About apologies?
I will never be at peace and that is something I’ve come to terms with. No, I am not like him and never will be. That dark silhouette in the distance on my walk home will always make me squeeze my keys harder. Dating will always feel unsafe. I will always flashback. Those nightmares will always pop up. The paranoia I feel in bathrooms and during solo cab rides won’t disappear. This is the reality of my healing.
Forgiving myself and learning to cope with the cards I’ve been dealt is part of my survival. Learning to manage, reduce, and maybe even eliminate triggers and flashbacks are my reality. Forgiving myself is my priority.
Laughter and happiness are all on my path to betterment. It is up to me to take care of myself. I will not sacrifice my soul and well being for his sanity. I refuse to forgive you, because I am too busy forgiving myself.
It’s amazing how the mind works
how one smell
one touch can bring back so many memories and make you travel back in time
put you back to the exact day you felt that, saw that, smelled that
Triggers are also a curse
He sexually assaulted me many months ago
I remember it like it was yesterday and no matter how often i write about it and how often i cry about it i still have those memories buried inside of me.
I’m starting to think they’ll always be there.
His cologne was really strong
It burned my nose and stayed on my skin even after I got home
I’m sitting here listening to music randomly and Dandole comes on
That song was playing that day
and I immediately go back to that moment
the fear the fighting the adrenaline in my blood the need to escape
It’s crazy how the mind works
I’ve heard it all from, “God wanted it this way” “are you sure that really happened” “but it happened a long time ago” to “you are being dramatic” and “just move on”. Everytime it hurts the same. It’s like being stabbed in the face. I wish we were more compassionate, understanding, empathetic.
When interacting with a survivor, keep in mind that while it is difficult for you to hear what they’re saying or think of a response, it’s more difficult for them. Not just surviving the violence but living with it every day and deciding to share with someone else.
Remind yourself that it’s not about you.
So I came up with this list. Please add anything I’ve missed.
When someone tells you they’re a survivor
(Many people read too much into this. They may be sharing with you because they need to get this off their chest. How you react to this information will determine further interactions.)
-Thank you for sharing this with me
-Wow, I don’t know what to say your bravery has left me speechless. How can I be of support?
-I’m here to listen to everything you want and need to share
-I believe you
-Things like this shouldn’t happen, thank you for sharing, you are courageous
-I am here for you, you’re not alone
-How can I be of support?
-I don’t know what to say but I can listen
Someone tells you they need support in ____________ area
-Do you want me to come with you while you make a report?
-Would you feel more comfortable if I went with you to the clinic?
-Yes, I can be here when you make that call
-Yes, I can be here with you and we can search for support groups or counseling services together
-What would be best for you? I’m here to support your decision
-I don’t think I’ll be able to go with you to the police station/clinic/support group/healing circle/[insert activity here] but I can be of support after, maybe have something to eat and talk it through?
-I’ve heard about this club/group/center/organization that provides really great support and services, maybe you’d be interested in checking it out?
Statements that include God/religion in a positive way
(Please don’t tell anyone that “God wanted it this way”)
-God made you strong and brave to overcome many obstacles
-People do bad things and sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but we have each other and God to walk on a path of healing
-Sometimes people do things that we don’t understand, we don’t have all the answers but in prayer we can find relief
-It’s hard to make sense of all this and try to understand why bad things happen to people, but we can walk on a path to healing because God made you a fighter.
When I was younger I had this wild idea that whenever I adjusted my immigration status, everything would be okay.
I used to think that papers, that is, a social security number, work authorization, a state ID, citizenship, was the answer.
On November 22, 2013 I received my U nonimmigrant Visa approval letter. I applied for this visa in January of the same year. To be eligible for a U-Visa, one must have been a victim of a crime in the United States, be impacted emotionally and/or physically, and have helped the police/government in the investigation of said crime.
I was sexually abused by my step father for four years. Starting at the age of four and ending at the age of eight. And while the abuse happened such a long time ago, it is so present today that sometimes it feels like it happened yesterday.
I became involved with the immigrant rights movement in 2009 after realizing I wasn’t eligible for financial aid and seeing no way out. Hopeless, confused and afraid the New York State Youth Leadership Council found me when I was a high school senior. I became a member and stayed involved ever since.
I got used to the idea of being undocumented. I learned how to work with it. I learned how to apply for work without a social security number. I opened a bank account without a social security number. I traveled within the United States without a state ID. I received several private scholarships without proper documentation. I was accepted into college. I started college. I overcame many of the things some told me I wouldn’t be able to do. I became unafraid.
More than being unafraid on paper, I was living fearlessness. I attended rallies and helped coordinate some of the coming out events in New York. Was featured in several media outlets. Started the country’s first undocumented youth advice column. In other words, I didn’t let my undocumented reality stop me from doing something. From resisting. From speaking out for myself. And I learned. I learned immigration history, I learned deportation and detention practices. I learned about state laws and programs that keep funding those centers. I learned about international laws that force people to leave. I learned why Colombia was so under resourced and violent when my mother got up and left. I learned why she wasn’t able to obtain a visa and why we became undocumented. I learned about the long history of border militarization and poverty wages. And I also learned that getting these immigration papers wouldn’t solve any of this.
I found out I was eligible for this U-Visa while being screened for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals eligibility. It came as a surprise to my mother and I. We had been screened years before, and found nothing. All of a sudden, I was eligible for a U-visa and the thought of adjusting my status became a real one. One I never had before.
None of my contributions and hard work mattered. This U-Visa strictly looked at the sexual violence I had survived. It defined me. It shaped me. It made me eligible for a U-Visa but all the violence and discrimination I faced as an undocumented immigrant in the United States for 20 years didn’t. It hurt. It continues to hurt. Everything about me had been summarized to four years of my childhood. The United States’ way of apologizing was giving me a visa. A visa that I can’t leave the country with. I can’t apply for financial aid. I can’t get health services. I can still be deported. A visa that has undermined everything I’ve pushed for and gave back without being welcomed. The simple fact of wanting to be with my family, or of attending college, or of living here for 20 years isn’t enough. I needed to be hurt. Hurt so bad beyond repair to even get on a line.
And so I sit here, thinking about this approval. About the work authorization card that came in the mail. About the social security number that followed. About the fact that in 2016, if all goes well, I’ll be able to apply for a green card….and I still feel the same emptiness.
Go ahead and call me spoiled. A brat. Dramatic. Whatever.
We deserve better than this. We deserve way better.
It was never about papers, citizenship, a social, or a state ID. It was about the ways in which we treat immigrants in this country, and around the world. About the systems we have in place that drives people to migrate. About the circumstances back home and US backing of that. About the cookie cutter requirements and categories we allow immigrants to enter under. About who gets to work, live and love here. About who doesn’t. And having papers won’t change any of this. It won’t change or make up for the 20 years we lived without them. And it won’t change the fact that the rest of my community still lives under constant threat and fear.