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Abuse is Many Things

This blog is still quite new. I still need to make posts about the things this blog is supposed to be about, and I will do that.

However the subject of abuse in its many forms is a subject that’s important to me. I’ve been abused several times over the course of my life. I was verbally abused, never beaten.

Just because they didn't hit you, doesn't mean they didn't hurt you. Words hurt.

Words hurt. More than I want them to. Artwork (c) 17 August 2013, Windy Johansen.

I was called worthless. Homeless. Lazy. Fat. Stupid. Told that my disability wasn’t real and that I should just do whatever was wanted, because I could, but I was just…holding out on them, I guess. Treated as an imbecile. Treated like a liar. Screamed at for breathing too loudly. Belittled. Spoken to condescendingly. Patronized.

I’ve had people act as if I was mud on their shoe.I’ve been treated like I didn’t matter. I’ve been told that it was okay if I died. I’ve had my religion bashed. (I suppose that happens to everyone. It doesn’t get nicer just because billions go through it.)

I’ve had the facts from real doctors ignored by teachers. I’ve had teachers and administrators ignore my lawful 504 plan and do whatever the heck they felt justified in doing. I had people in my school years lie about my abilities just so they didn’t have to provide services that I needed (they said certain test scores were better than they actually were). That 504 plan should have been an IEP. I should have had special education services. I did not.

I wound up dropping out of school one month from the end of sophomore year. I wonder if having my needs met would have helped.

I have been told that it was only words, that I should just take it. That I was weak. That I should move in with one of the people who’d abused me. It was only words, after all. I should just ignore it.

I guess if you’re poor and desperate, abuse is okay. I mean, it keeps you from having to do anything, so I guess it’s okay. Except it isn’t.

There are two someones who would give me a panic attack if I ever saw them. I was still supposed to visit one of them, because someone thought I should.

Abuse is more than fists, and more than someone viciously raping another. Few people know I was sexually abused. Given how they speak when I talk about “just” verbal abuse, I’m not about to share that! I would be told that it wasn’t enough.

And since you are unlikely to know me from Adam, I feel I can share this.

Words hurt. Stealing kisses is only cute if you’re not pressuring anyone into them.

And it takes a superhuman to leave abusive situations. I feel it is because too few care. They’re not the ones who are supposed to care for you. I know it is because abuse makes you feel too worthless to leave, and the carelessness of so many can’t be helping.

I’ve left abusive situations, only to have my intelligence called into question. I left those situations because my sanity was in danger, but apparently I was meant to get a job, set myself up, and then leave. I should have stayed until I had money to leave.

Because it wasn’t really abuse. Except that it was.

Because I was a perfectly fine, perfectly healthy adult who simply didn’t want to work, and shouldn’t be helped because I needed tough love. Except I wasn’t fine. I wasn’t healthy. I wanted to work, but I couldn’t. I was (and still am) too sick to work. I needed someone to care that I was being abused. If I was well, I’d never have fallen into any of those situations.I needed someone to care.

I got a lot of anger, and a lot of people talking over me to tell me what was what. They knew I could work. They knew I had every ability to do everything just the same way they did. They knew I was just being lazy, and asking for handouts…and worse, asking for them when I did not need them.

I don’t trust people anymore. If you ever wonder why, this is why. My inner monologue of “fark you” once someone’s crossed the line is what saves my bacon every single time I fall into some other abusive situation. Is it nice to keep this idea around? I don’t care. I’m the one who has to get away, and on my own steam. I was thirteen when I learned the sad truth that people who should give even one tenth of a rip about you so often don’t.

I can only imagine what people must go through when they have the stubbornness stolen from them. Not only is there precious little support for anyone, but leaving an abuser can be just as deadly as staying in some situations. I was lucky. My abusers were just jerks. Many are far more than that.

This video tells you why so many stay in abusive situations.


Did you watch it? It’s important to watch it.

The people who are trying to leave abusive relationships are not the same people they were when they entered that abusive relationship. Their psychological state is not the same. They are afraid. They have likely been told that if they ask for help or report, they or their loved ones will be killed.

Children are abused. Women are abused. Men are abused. Disabled are abused. The elderly are abused. Poor, wealthy, American, Arab, Asian, European, Native American, Australian, African, Pacific Islander? Abused.

Nobody should be abused. No one, No one deserves such treatment. No one.

Etsy closes down a legitimate shop for ‘protesting’.

Rose quartz teardrop in bronze colored wire.

Picture and jewelry design, (c) 15 March 2012 Windy Johansen

So, this post isn’t particularly inspiring. And inspiring was what I wanted this site to be about. I wanted this site to showcase the things that make my heart and your heart skip a beat because of their beauty or power.

Oh well. I can’t be the good guy who does nothing. And this did make my heart metaphorically skip a beat. And it is powerful.

Maybe the next few days will reveal an inspiring story in this. Divine providence has a way of doing that.

In the last couple of weeks, there’s been a huge scandal involving Etsy.

It started when Etsy featured Ecologica Malibu as their featured seller. Ecologica Malibu was represented originally as a single person making wood furnishings and decor from reclaimed boat wood.

Fascinating enough, even if I’m not into that sort of thing.

And then, I start to see reports that she isn’t everything she claims to be. Well, hm, that’s not good.

Right here, I’m going to offer some links, because I’m not good at technical explanations, and this is not a good time for word weaving.

This article from the Consumerist tells the story quite well, and links to other resources that tell the story much better than I can.

The story continues in this article, also from the Consumerist.

This is a short, yet informative article about this event on MetaFilter.

This link points specifically to a comment on that MetaFilter article from a woodworker. Very informative. It illustrates how this stuff isn’t well made, and seems to be made by a variety of people, with varying ideas of quality.

Then, on the Regretsy forums, someone links to this blog post. The artist, Hanna, tells the story of how Etsy shut her down for protesting. She posts the message that was supposedly a protest message, and that’s when the metaphorical beat-skipping occurred.

What was the message Nicole posted? What was this inflammatory statement? I’ll quote it here.

” ‘Shop contents are currently unavailable while I work on re-branding and movement of merchandise. I support artisan and hand-crafted goods and, as such, believe a show of solidarity, support and praise is necessary to encourage small business owners in the continuing herculean endeavor to survive in a world of commercial mass production. I urge consumers to support the artisan marketplace and creative community in general and appreciate your interest in my work. Thank you.’ “

Yeah, I can tell she’s unhappy. But to shut her down for protesting? Especially when she isn’t? That’s ridiculous.

Of course, given the inability of Etsy to take any kind of statement that isn’t sucking up…yeah.

I love her reaction to their message (bolding mine).

“Now, tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain there was no mention of Etsy, disuptes or Etsy sellers anywhere in my shop vacation announcement. And, though I’ve read through it multiple times, apparently I lack the intelligence to comprehend Etsy’s very concise, comprehendible, and not at all vague terms of use, and in exactly what way my announcement broke with a policy conveniently brandished when protests run rampant in the forums. “

Etsy’s TOS are pretty vague. Vagueness gives wiggle room, and yet….they can’t even keep their own rules, if this whole scandal is any indication. With the closing of Nicole’s Etsy shop, they’ve illustrated just how thin-skinned they are about people discussing their inability. Nicole could have had other things in mind when she posted that message, but they chose to see it as an attack on them.

Etsy, your morals are showing. Trying to hush people up only makes things worse for you. If you’d admitted your mistake, and honestly told us what went wrong, so many of us would be happier with you.

As it is, I’ve started this site to get away from you. I’m approximately $50 poorer for it, but my heart is light as a feather. I know I won’t have to apologize to my customers for your dishonesty.

Be sure to read the comments. So many voices. Does Etsy truly believe no one has any other platform to speak, besides their own?

My comment is as follows:

“My goodness, this is crazy! They really DO think that everyone will ignore their dishonesty if they cover enough mouths.

Luckily, they don’t own the whole internet. I may yet post a protest post on my blog. They cannot shut the world up.

I was gonna sell little things on there, but I honestly am reconsidering that. They can keep their ignorance of how the world works. I won’t help them succeed.

I found out I was driving traffic to their site with my links to my Etsy store. When I took down several links to my Etsy shop, the traffic went way down.

When my own online store is ready (I’ve only got a blog there now), I’ll be able to get my own traffic to my online store, the same as I was before. In fact, I’ll probably do better on my own than I ever could with them.

Nicole, as long as people know you’re here, you’ll rebuild your traffic. In fact, now that this thing with Etsy has happened, you’ll possibly get more.

Your work is beautiful, and I wish mine was as cool.

(Also I’m sorry for the novel I appear to have written.)”

Someone else posted this comment, as an anonymous user:

“I just found this through a friend who sent me a link to the handmade discussion. I have known about the reseller aspect, but really did not understand How Much of an issue it is. I have had my shop for two months and feel quite unhappy about all of this.

There actually was a huge negative response to an article last summer when I was still only a purchasing customer from shops, which made my stomach very upset. I got off Etsy for over 6 months trying to make up my mind what to do.

I am not very vocal about things and am unlikely to challenge Etsy in any way or make comments. I am just very sad right now. My dream of being a professional artist, where I can support myself seem to just be moving further away.

I wish you great success in your endeavors and will follow all that is going on to see how things transpire.

That made me sad for what this could really cause. It’s not only businesses that are being hurt, it’s artists. If someone is so disillusioned by this that they don’t make any more art, what does that mean for everyone? Art is how so many of us communicate. It’s how so many of us remind ourselves of the beauty of the world. It’s how we learn that the world is at once beautiful and ferocious.

Without art our world becomes cold. Math is something that can be appreciated as art, also, so what great minds can we lose as a result of this dishonest pursuit of money at the expense of the people that we are?

I know it’s overdramatic, but I’m saying it anyway. What are the human costs in this?

That scares me. Even if the world stays up to its eyeballs in art of all kinds, we stand to lose a lot if we alienate our artisans.

Once I post this post, the Etsy link will be gone from my first post in this blog. I believe it is the last link (controlled by me, anyway) to go down. I could have sold something, but I cannot support Etsy’s inability to admit when they’ve messed up. Not even in some tiny amount.

That’s my protest.

Have fun, even if things look bleak.