Monday, September 22, 2014

A Rant to Victim-Blamers about Victim-Blaming

Unless you've been under a rock the past several weeks, you've probably seen the video. You know the one. Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay. We finally saw what happened inside that elevator--the truth wasn't surprising. Sadly, I had been arguing for weeks on social media with men AND women who wanted to believe all sorts of alternatives about how Janay's lifeless body wound up being dragged out by the man she loves.

When the first video tape came out--the one where she was dragged, before the actual knock out was released--I heard many iterations of the following:
  • She probably attacked him so he defended himself
  • If she's gonna come after a running back, that's what she gets--it's his job
  • They were both drunk
  • If he was drunk, he didn't know what he was doing
  • If she was drunk, she went crazy
  • Maybe he shoved her and she hit her head
  • Bitch was probably drunk and fell and hit her head
  • Bitch married him anyway--clearly wants the money
  • Bitch married him anyway--she must like getting beat
  • Bitch married him anyway--she must be stupid
  • Bitch married him anyway--she deserves it
And then, when the knock out video was released, it was similar victim-blaming, but more along the lines of "bitch married him, wants the paycheck," "bitch married him, she's stupid," etc.

I'm coming to the realization that in 2014, women continue to be treated as second-class citizens in this society. Hell, I had a friend message me on Facebook after hearing a poll on the radio that said more listeners thought ANIMAL abuse was wrong than intimate partner abuse. Hey, I love animals just as much as the next person but...really?!?'s more ok for a woman (in most cases, it's a woman)--a human being--to be abused than an animal?

I've had to step away from many online arguments over this, if only for mental self-preservation. Many people really are this ignorant about domestic violence. And they'll say these things with so much self-perceived if they KNOW what it's like.

Let me tell you: you have NO IDEA what it's like unless you go through it.

Take a step back and really think this through. Do you REALLY think a woman WANTS to get beat? That she likes having black eyes and bruises and physical pain? That she deserves to be harmed at the hands of the man she loves?! And make NO mistake about it...she does love him. That's only one of the probably 50+ reasons she has for staying with his sorry ass. Because guess what? He has already sucked her in and made her fall in love with him BEFORE the abuse starts!

Don't you people understand that?! It's not like these men fly their abuser flag for all to see! ESPECIALLY when they're trying to win over their next target.

Abusers LIVE for the pursuit and know exactly how to play the game. And that's what is it...a game. Win her and get control over her. Meanwhile, victims are falling in love because we're told how amazing we are, never met anyone like us, we're an upgrade from their ex, they can see themselves growing old with us, all they want is a long life of happiness with us, they'll take care of us, they'll take care of our kids if we're coming into the relationship with them, they'll give us the life we've dreamed of, we're just so beautiful and kind and good and blah blah blah blah blaaaaahhhhhhhhh. They've been waiting their whole lives for someone just. like. us.

So okay, to all you men who want to blame us...maybe YOU are the problem. Maybe YOU see too many behaviors in descriptions of abusers that hit a little too close to home; maybe you fear you might just be one. Ever thought of that? Why in God's name would you blame a woman for a man beating her or abusing her in any way at all? Would you want that for your sister? Your mother? Your cousin? Your close female friends? Because I'm sure they're not all stupid women, right? But guess what CAN happen to the women you love. No one is immune. So quit blaming the gender you're supposed to be so enamored by and give us a break and help us out a little. Have our backs! Talk to your asshole controlling friends--you know who they are and you know you have them--and tell them to knock it off! Call them out on it!

And I have so very much to say to the women who victim-blame other women. I got into it with one lady who claimed to know so much about DV victims because she'd worked with them back in the mid-80s. I didn't tell her I was a survivor for a little bit, and then dropped the bomb that I'm a DV and gun violence survivor--and recently. Not from 30 years ago. It shut her up. But I hate to even have to pull that credential. I couldn't sway her with anything I said prior.

See, she thought she knew better. SO many women who haven't been abused think they know. "I wouldn't put up with that shit. I'd leave right away." "I'm not weak." "I'm not stupid." I've met countless survivors as a result of my journey and I'm here to tell you: they are some of THE strongest, smartest women I know. NONE fit the stereotype of weak victim. They're sassy and feisty, funny, educated. Drop dead gorgeous. We're just like any of you who have had the good luck not to have met an abusive man. AND let's not forget: abuse is more than physical only. There's emotional, mental, financial, sexual. Just because you're not getting beaten doesn't mean you've never been abused in any way--and if you haven't, you don't know how lucky you are. It's 1 in 4, ladies, 1 in 4.

I swear I will not stop until this victim-blaming crap ends. What about ABUSERS?! Why in the world are victims being blamed for the horrendous actions of abusers? THEY need to be held accountable and much stronger consequences must happen.

This is insanity. Please share this blog with anyone in your life who really needs to be TOLD about victim-blaming. It has to stop.

Love and Support for Kate Ranta and Family 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I'm Angry. Really REALLY Angry.

I was challenged by a good friend on Facebook to do the 7 days of being grateful thing, or whatever it's called, but today I'm struggling. I feel very angry. I think I'll pour out all the anger here, as I never have before, and start the grateful challenge tomorrow.

I'm angry.
I'm angry that he tricked me.
I'm angry that I fell for his bullshit.
I'm angry that his words of love and affection meant nothing.
I'm angry that I fell in love but was only a pawn to him in some sick game.
I'm angry that I trusted him.
I'm angry that I was so naïve and stupid.
I'm angry I gave my heart to him.
I'm angry I envisioned this perfect life with this "perfect" guy and ignored his fucked up behavior.
I'm angry I allowed myself to so blindly follow his toxic and poisonous influence.
I'm angry that I was able to be manipulated by material things and empty promises.
I'm angry that I was able to be manipulated into RUINING relationships that mattered to me--and will probably never, ever get back.
I'm angry that he drove a wedge between me and my older son.
I'm angry that he controlled me.
I'm angry that I didn't know about emotional abuse and red flags.
I'm angry that I didn't know about sociopaths aside from what I saw in movies.
I'm angry that he exposed me to living with a husband who was addicted to pills.
I'm angry he was so psychotic that he drugged me.
I'm angry that HE imploded our marriage.
I'm angry that he blamed ME for the destruction of our marriage and family.

I'm angry that he destroyed me financially and it'll take years to crawl out of it.
I'm angry that he was able to play the system for so long.
I'm angry my family and I lost thousands upon thousands of dollars in legal divorce fees trying to pry me from his grip.
I'm angry that those who were in positions to protect us bought his complete bullshit.
I'm angry that police were so cynical about judicial [lack of] consequences that they wouldn't arrest him.
I'm angry that judges and magistrates continually gave him the benefit of the doubt.
I'm angry that I was viewed as the hysterical and dramatic wife--even though it was all based on being traumatized.
I'm angry that I was helpless to protect myself and my family.
I'm angry that he decided to do the ultimate in control--decided whether I lived or died.
I'm angry that he nearly killed my father who never once threatened him.
I'm angry that he didn't give enough of a shit about his own son that he would shoot through a door behind which he was standing.
I'm angry that he almost wiped out THREE generations of the Ranta family.
I'm angry that he was smart enough to know how to surrender without being killed.
I'm angry he didn't at least have the courtesy to turn the gun on himself.

I'm angry that because he's a sociopath, he likely isn't miserable in jail but is probably thriving in that environment among criminals that he can use and manipulate.
I'm angry he still gets his military pension and disability and can pay huge defense expenses as a result.
I'm angry that he and his slimebag lawyer collect $2500/mo in rent for our house, which should be in foreclosure but isn't.
I'm angry that I don't see a dime, and nobody can seem to figure this out or help me.
I'm angry the bank has done nothing about that, so that money goes directly to his defense.
I'm angry that he will NEVER plead guilty and not drag us through a trial.
I'm angry that he has more rights than we do as victims.

I'm angry that I now know about gun violence.
I'm angry that I live with PTSD and triggers.
I'm angry that I don't trust men--at all--and may not ever again.
I'm angry that I spook so easily.
I'm angry he subjected our son to blood and gore and trauma--things NO child should have to see, ESPECIALLY at the hands of his own father.
I'm angry that my hand is numb.
I'm angry that my father's hand is numb.
I'm angry that my family was exposed to the horror of abuse because of him--both before and after the shooting.
I'm angry because of the hate I feel inside.
I'm angry because of the turmoil I feel inside.
I'm angry to have lost the old me--that's part of the grieving process, too.
I'm angry for the loss of innocence.

I'm angry that good people I know and love are going through hardships, especially health-wise, and a demonic subhuman like him gets to live.

I'm angry that he's still alive.

Love and Support for Kate Ranta and Family 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Guest Blogger! The Beginning—​Red Flags

I'm welcoming guest blogs by family and friends who know me best! My first guest blogger is my dear friend, Kaysha, who wanted to share her thoughts and feelings about what she saw early on in my relationship with Tom. We texted yesterday after she emailed me her blog, and the one thing that sticks with me is that she, too, felt some of his behaviors were "off" and bizarre--but emotional abuse is tough to see. I'm so touched that she took the time to write this. It did bring me to tears, yet helps me so much. Thank you, Kaysha, and love you tons!
I am one of Kate's good friend's from D.C. We met each other at work about 15 or so years ago (eek, that long ago?). 
Kaysha and her daughter, Vivienne, and their dog, Zoe
I was friends with her when she was dating her ex-husband, when she was pregnant with her first child (in fact, I threw her a baby shower for him), and then the end of that marriage. We spent 9/11 together at my house, amongst many other of our good friends. Kate always speaks her mind, has a fantastic sense of humor, makes friends easily, never puts up with bullshit, and stands up for her friends and for what she believes is right. She is one of my closest friends, although geography has gotten in the way of how often we see one another.
Just a little background about me, I feel that this is quite relevant to what happened with Kate. For a few years, as a child, my mother was married to a man who was physically, mentally, and financially abusive to her. I witnessed a lot of this abuse from the time I was 5 until I was 9 (as I lived with them at the time), when my mother finally left her abuser. 
I watched her go to work wearing sunglasses, with apparently no one noticing the black eyes, or, more likely, no one having the bravery to mention it and ask if she needed help. Each payday my mother surrendered both her paycheck and checkbook to my stepfather (along with her car keys). We literally lived in a log cabin at the end of a mile or more long driveway so that we could be isolated from our family, friends, and even neighbors. If my mother wanted to drive the car and/or buy something, she had to ask my stepfather for permission and had to have proof and very good reasons to back such expeditions up. 
I witnessed much of the physical abuse (the log cabin was only one room, hard to miss anything there). I remember one night (before we lived in the log cabin) being woken up by my trembling 80 pound dog as my stepfather screamed and hacked his way into their locked bedroom door with a knife. My dog and I silently tip-toed back to my room and shut the door as quietly as possible and lay there the rest of the night hoping that he wouldn't try to come into my room. Anyway, my mother finally found the courage to leave him, and luckily she had a supportive family that we were able to live with until she could get back on to her feet.
I first met Tom the day of my baby shower. Kate was one of the hostesses for my shower. Everyone was atwitter about him. You see, it was a male/female baby shower, but it was exactly one week after Kate and Tom's first date. What kind of guy willingly goes to a baby shower for someone he doesn't even know? Many people were asking this, and the answers varied from "A great guy" to "A guy with no life." No one thought it was a red flag, but it certainly was unusual. I didn't realize then that that was also the last time I would see Kate without Tom until she finally left him. This is really important to point out. From that day on, I never saw Kate without Tom. No girls' nights out, nothing.
I think another thing about Tom that put people off was his teeth. He was very handsome, but his teeth were unnaturally blindingly white. It was weird. It put me off, but again, it was something that was hard to say made him a bad choice for Kate. Again, he was handsome, and maybe his (unnaturally) white teeth made him even more so to Kate. It seemed a bit odd to me that a man would spend so much energy on his looks, but who knows, maybe they were naturally that white? No way in hell.
Things moved pretty quickly with Tom and Kate. Again, Kate is a passionate person, so although I felt a little concern for how quickly things moved, I didn't really think it was a red flag. Kate was a single mom and met this guy who seemed totally into her, so why not let her enjoy that? She deserved to be loved. And she was no pushover, she always stood up for herself.
When Tom had his motorcycle accident, I went to visit them at the hospital. Let me say at this point, this is something that I did as Kate's friend. As far as Tom goes, I had been around him and Kate several times at this point, but felt no affinity towards him except for that Kate cared for him and I wanted to be there for her. Not that I disliked Tom, but I just never got much of sense from him at all. I am a very warm, friendly, huggy person, almost to a fault the person who likes to give people the benefit of the doubt. I didn't have misgivings about him, but I felt no warmth. And I certainly noticed that I seemed to be one of very few people that actually visited Tom when he was in the hospital. Also, Kate and I took a walk at some point and that is when she told me that he had a bad reaction to his meds and snapped and yelled at her. I remember asking her how that was possible. I had heard about people having allergic reactions to meds, but never getting mean on them. I even remember going home and doing a rudimentary Google on it and coming up with a page similar to this:

Again, I felt like I should mention this again to Kate, but she was so happy with him, and then BAM, before I got a chance, she called me and told me that he asked her to marry him in the hospital.
Again, red flags popped up everywhere in my head. Why in the hospital? So unromantic really, I mean he asked her to get the ring and bring it to him. And why so quickly? Why couldn't he wait till he healed at least and really surprise her and maybe get down on his knees?
I go over these feelings I have and others that I plan to share later, and I feel like I let Kate down as a friend. I saw these things but didn't share them with her because I didn't want to rain on her parade. Also, not only did I fail Kate as a friend, but it made me question myself and tendencies to give people the benefit of the doubt, over and over again. In the past it has mostly affected only me, and nothing so painful as this (the worst I can think of that happened to me was my $5,000 boyfriend, but that's a whole other story that has to do with me losing only a little pride and a lot of money). But after this I want to make a promise to myself and my friends that I will be more truthful and look out for red flags and call them as I see them. 
I promise myself and my friends that when I have a gut feeling or see red flags, I will react (when it has to do with myself) and I will share my concerns (when it has to do with my friends). That is what friends are for (and I deserve that as well). I don't know how Kate would have reacted had I shared my concerns at the time, but I know she would have continued to be my friend, and if there is the slightest possibility that by having that conversation, Kate would have gone in a different direction, away from that man, then it would have been well worth it. We'll never know.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Time When He Showed My Son the Gun

I want to talk about the guns.

He grew up around them. His father put guns in his hands at a very young age. There's a picture of him at around age 3-4 holding a dead duck by the neck. The duck was about as big as he was. Many parents in this country do these things--put guns in their kids' hands. We see how well that goes, what with a 9-year-old girl accidentally shooting her instructor with an Uzi. What could possibly go wrong when putting weapons of death into young hands?

Okay, I digress. I have strong opinions that I'm not going to get into here. The focus is on him.

So yes, he knew his way around guns. He hunted as a young boy, he shot skeet, he enlisted in the military out of high school, so was around them constantly as an adult. He knew how to put them together and take them apart, of course, as part of his training.

When I met him, he had more guns than I've ever seen in my life. Well, I guess I'd never really seen guns in anyone's home before; we never had guns in my home growing up, and I don't recall seeing guns in any friends' homes either. I'm assuming if there were any, they were put away and out of sight. He had a glass display cabinet full of hunting rifles. He also showed me his shot guns and hand guns. He was a bachelor at the time, no kids, so none of them were locked or stored safely.

There was a shot gun under the bed.

I didn't like all those guns, but in all honesty, given what he told me about his history with guns and with the understanding that he was military and guns are part of their culture, I accepted it. I didn't like it, but I accepted it as a part of being with him.

Obviously when I was moving in with my young child, I requested that he get trigger locks for the guns that weren't in the display case. He did, but wasn't happy about it. He didn't like the idea that he'd have to struggle with a lock should an intruder come in. I'll give him credit though; he did do research on various trigger locks and gun safes in order to store them safely yet still be able to access them quickly. I know one of the safes was a quick combo and one required a fingerprint to open.

I give him the credit, but now I'll take it away. Because those locks didn't remain on the guns. He took them all off eventually.

There's no controlling a sociopath.

He'd clean them in front of me. He thought it was funny to play with the laser on the hand guns. He knew I hated the guns, yet was always asking me if I wanted to hold them. He informed me that he'd be teaching our son to shoot--and know his way around guns--for his safety. He said he'd start teaching him by age 5. I really didn't have a choice in that matter. I did feel helpless.

Fast forward to early 2012. He had left Florida again to go back up to the DC area. I was moving back into our house. The photo below shows what he left behind in our bedside table for me to find.

All his guns had been seized a year earlier by the police when I was granted the original restraining order.

Yes, that's KY Jelly. I guess he wanted me to think he was banging someone in our bed. But he also wanted me to know he was armed again.

Now fast forward to September 2012. After he had gained back unsupervised visits, he had my son for visitation at a condo where he was renting a room.

My son re-told this story to me yesterday. He's a little older now and is able to tell more details. He said Tom showed him his gun at that condo. He said Tom told him that he was going to teach him how to shoot it. He said he didn't touch the gun, but that he felt scared something would happen.

He said it was the same gun Tom used to shoot us.

Note: So even though all his weapons were seized, he was still able to legally purchase a new one in the state of Florida. No matter what your stance is on guns in America, I think we can all agree that guns need to be out of the hands of domestic abusers and we need to close loopholes that allow those with abusive pasts to get guns.  

Love and Support for Kate Ranta and Family