“What’s the deal with the phone, Kevin?” I crossed my arms in front of my chest. Standing in the shade of a jewelry store, I felt the breeze writhe around me like an anaconda, cutting off my air.
“I saw the football scores and I lost a lot of money. I need to call Boston.” My stomach slammed onto the cement sidewalk of Taos, NM. My mouth was paralyzed, open.
“I don’t want to hear it, Joyce. This is the money that we need to have to live on. I’ve got
to call and make another bet to win this back. I’m not arguing about it.”
“Don’t worry,” Kevin said, picking up my hand to kiss it. He held it tight in his lap.
“But you promised.”
He instantly dropped my hand and held the steering wheel between white knuckles.
I stared out the side window as the Rio Grande and cottonwood trees flashed by. After a few minutes, Kevin reached once more for my hand. Tears washed down my cheeks when I turned to him. He squeezed my fist. I stared into the face of the man I still loved, still couldn’t trust, and those hands that held all my ups and downs. The hands that carved soft ankles of wood fairies in basswood; hands that stealthily pushed blocks of exotic woods through band saws; hands that rubbed oil and wax onto birdseye maple until the patterns came to life. Hands that also coiled and thrust like cobras, delivering me their poison.
“Honey, it’s gonna be okay,” he said. “It really is. You just need to trust me.” Skin tingles. I’m up.
Continue to watch his lips move. See how he runs his left hand through his long black hair. When the hue of his face transforms to that red that makes you tremble, turn to look out the side window. See the purple shadow of mesas against broken wooden fences. Watch as lightening shreds the sky, as rain slaps the front windshield. Imagine yourself homeless. Hunting through restaurant dumpsters. Nights sleeping in the back of the truck, clustered together, the three of you, green garbage bags of clothes for pillows. See yourselves clumped together as you were that night a year ago, in the parking lot of the Tropicana in Atlantic City, when Kevin won $3,000.00 at Black Jack and then lost it all, along with everything in your checking account except the $200.00 stashed in your pocket. Imagine the bookies you’ll have to hide from. Guys you know only as Steve and Sonny. Guys huge as weight-lifters with linebacker-thick necks and leather jackets. Watch as they ask Kevin where the money is. Flinch in horror as they point the gun at Crystal. Then watch as they turn the gun on you.
(Excerpt from The Out Of Body Girl, A Memoir by Joyce Hayden)
As many of you may know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. With that in mind, I’ve introduced this week’s column with a scene from my memoir, The Out of Body Girl, which focuses on the last 18 months of my relationship with a charismatic, abusive gambler. When Kevin and I first moved in together, he told me to leave the money I made at my bank job, and later as a waitress, in his top dresser drawer. Rather than serving as the red flag it was, I found it somewhat comforting that Kevin was keeping an eye on me. As the middle child in my family, I was, as is typical, the overlooked kid. In addition, I made it very clear to my parents that I didn’t need anything, and consequentially, I was often left to my own devices. Who I was and what I did, for the most part, went unnoticed. It was a blessing in that I led myself down an artist’s solitary path; it was a curse because I never felt I deserved attention. So having Kevin keep an eye on me felt like love, like he cared. Slowly, even I began to see the control he held over me as I handed over tip money every night. It got to the point that I had to ask him for money if I wanted to buy something personal for myself: a book, earrings, a sweater. By the time eight years had passed, I was convinced that even though I was the main bread winner, it would be impossible for me to take care of myself financially. Kevin always told me I was an “airhead” when it came to finances and I was “lucky” that he took over for me. Amid the day to day gaslighting regarding money, Kevin was also a gambler who admitted if he ever couldn’t pay the bookies back, we’d run. Living between fear and shame, the financial abuse was a main reason I stayed with Kevin so long.
I have included text this week from the National Network to End Domestic Violence website regarding Financial Abuse. We hear about physical abuse; we understand emotional abuse, but not as many people are familiar with financial abuse present in many violent relationships. Please take the time to read the article to clearly understand the implications of this form of abuse.
This week’s articles also focus on the current state of Puerto Rico; an update on the March for Black Women; missing Native American women; dealing with disability as a young girl; “whitewashing” mass murderers; and the privilege of a white male rapper.
So, for these stories and more, Please Read On! Your comments are always welcome!!!
“Life or Death as Puerto Rico’s Older People Go Without Essentials”/ by Amanda Holpuch/ The Guardian/ October 3, 2017
2. “Also, 50 to 60 percent of black girls are sexually assaulted, but people have a hard time believing this even though they know historically, we have endured rape and have been enforced to endure generations of rape,” she continued. “Black kids are born to poor black mothers. How do you not see that as a racial-justice issue?”
“Thousands Descend on Washington, DC, for the March for Black Women”/ by Angela Helm/ The Root/ October 1, 2017
3. The women Matthews works with who are impacted by sex trafficking and sexual violence are at an even higher risk of going missing. These women are often homeless or were taken from their homes and so no longer have a connection to their communities — the people who would notice when they’re gone, Matthews said.
“Why Do Missing Native American Women Go Unreported?”/ by Tom Weber and Jo Erikson/ MPR News/ September 5, 2017
4. Financial abuse, while less commonly understood, is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a survivor trapped in an abusive relationship and deeply diminishes the victim’s ability to stay safe after leaving an abusive partner. Research indicates that financial abuse occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases. Surveys of survivors reflect that concerns over their ability to provide financially for themselves and their children was one of the top reason for staying in or returning to an abusive partner. As with all forms of abuse, financial abuse occurs across all socio-economic, educational, and racial and ethnic groups.
“About Financial Abuse”/ by Staff/ NNEDV.org/ 2017
5. But none of the perpetrators of the major US terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam in the past 15 years have come from the nations on Trump’s travel ban (either the original one or the new, revised version that was released late last month). In fact, the country home to the biggest number of terrorists who have carried out successful attacks inside the US is the US itself.
“White American Men are a Bigger Domestic Terrorist Threat than Muslim Foreigners”/ by Jennifer Williams/ VOX/ October 2, 2017
6. It’s impossible at this point to understand the “pro-life” stance of these so-called pro-life Republicans. In an effort to end health-care reform, the GOP casually forgot to reauthorize the funding for a bipartisan, highly popular Children’s Health Insurance Program that is responsible for keeping annual checkups, prenatal exams, and affordable care for roughly 9 million young patients or expecting mothers from low- and lower-income families without insurance coverage. Now that states are in danger of running out of money to fund CHIP, Republicans are not only trying to reduce the funding, they are demanding cuts to Medicaid and the ACA in exchange. Their love of the “unborn” is just as circumstantial in their immigration policy, where pregnant people in ICE detention centers are being denied medical care and in some cases miscarrying and then being locked back up.
“There is Nothing Pro-Life About the GOP”/ by Robin Marty/ DAME/ October 3, 2017
7. Matt Bomer is the most recent appropriator of trans feminine experience. Anything, a film about a cishet man who falls for his neighbor, a trans sex worker, produced a groan-worthy bit of hackneyed dialogue in the only preview scene released so far. In the scene, Bomer’s character knocks on her neighbor’s door and asks for sugar, inviting herself inside in the process. She then proceeds to hit on this man that she’s just met. It’s a completely inauthentic portrayal of trans womanhood, seeing as trans women can’t aggressively pursue men in a society that all too often kills us.
“Our Femininity isn’t Artificial: Hollywood Must Stop Casting Men as Trans Women”/ by Katelyn Burns/ Bitch Media/ October 3, 2017
8. As a child trying to understand something about living in my body and in our community, neither of my mother’s explanations was of much use. I don’t say this to fault my mother. She grew up, as most of us did, being told not to point or to stare or to ask questions when it came to ways that people differ. This is where that pact of silence originates, from our attempt to be thoughtful and careful with one another. Now more than ever, while the emotionally delayed bully who inhabits our highest office models baiting, cruelty and mockery instead, every attempt at kindness is essential.
“Finding Myself on the Page”/ by Ona Gritz/ New York Times/ October 4, 2017
9. One of the recommendations in the United Tribes letter was that tribes be given greater access to money in the crime victims fund. Hoeven’s office said that currently only about 0.7 percent of those funds are provided to tribes despite the fact that American Indian and Alaska Native communities are victimized at much higher rates than other groups.
“North Dakota’s Senators Propose Legislation to Address ‘Epidemic’ of Missing and Murdered Native Women”/ by Blake Gumprecht/ Bismark Tribune/ October 1, 2017
10. Stevenson felt that it was crucial to find a way to incorporate this history into what he describes as a landscape “littered with the iconography of the Confederacy.” Conceived by mass Design Group, a Boston architecture firm, the memorial’s design comprises 816 suspended columns, each representing a U.S. county in which EJI has documented lynchings, with the names of that county’s known victims inscribed . The columns will be made of Corten steel, a material that oxidizes when exposed to weather; over time, rust may bleed onto nearby surfaces. (The metal was used to great effect in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.) Viewers walking through the pavilion will gradually descend. As they do, the rust-colored columns will hang above them , a frank suggestion of dangling corpses.
“Hanged, Burned, Shot, Drowned, Beaten”/ by Kriston Capps/ The Atlantic/ November 2017
11. I was nine years old the moment I first “felt fat” and began actively mounting my campaign to tame the contours of my body. Pictured in a Girl Scout uniform, green knee-high socks, long tangled hair falling over my shoulders, and squinting into the camera, my breasts are already budding, waist curving, hips flaring. That moment in the corridor of Brockton Avenue Elementary School holding up a prize art project was my first awareness of being embarrassed by my body’s burgeoning feminine form. For me, “fat” wasn’t excess body weight. It was looking too much like a woman.
“My Eating Disorder at 55”/ by Andrea Jarrell/ Harper’s Bazaar/ October 3, 2017
12. The Pennsylvania Republican’s “no abortions except for my mistress” stance was revealed today, when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette successfully unsealed the divorce proceedings of Shannon Edwards, the formerly married woman with whom Murphy was having an affair until recently. Murphy admitted to the affair in September. Edwards, a forensic psychologist—it’s all so Shondaland!—exchanged texts with Murphy earlier this year wherein she implied that the anti-abortion legislator had personally encouraged her to have an abortion during a pregnancy scare.
“Pro-Life Congressman Adopts Sensible ‘Abortion for Mistresses Only’ Stance”/ by Erin Gloria Ryan/ Daily Beast/ October 3, 2017
13. Before we begin, you should know what this is all about. Instead of waxing eloquently about how white men get to become sympathetic figures even after they commit the most heinous acts imaginable, we decided to show you.
“How to Whitewash a Mass Murderer/ by Michael Harriot and Stephen A. Crockett Jr/ The Root/ October 4, 2017
14. But Macklemore’s popularity at a school jokingly referred to as “White Man College” isn’t accidental. Whitman — like Macklemore, and so many of the earnestly liberal white residents of the Pacific Northwest — struggles with the same fundamental existential crises of privileged white allyhood. Namely: Is it possible? Does it always tip toward self-exonerating performance? And what does it suggest about the entire concept of “allyhood” when it can be shelved so readily?
“How Macklemore Laid Down His White Burden”/ by Anne Helen Petersen/ BuzzFeed/ September 4, 2017
15. Climates of violence are sustained by creating distinctions. No deaths are inexorable. Binaries that equate Islam with terrorism are xenophobic. Last year, there were strides to expand the definition of terrorism beyond Islam, after the Charleston shootings by a white killer in a black church. This expansion must continue in order to create systemic changes in gun control legislation. America needs to free itself from the shackles of prejudice and discrimination, to allow for true justice for all those slain by acts of terrorism.2
“Psychotic Breaks Have Become a Race Privilege”/ by Raad Rahman/ Guernica/ June 24, 2016
Joyce Hayden left her university teaching job two years ago in order to pursue her own artistic work. An assemblage artist, painter, and writer, Joyce is currently in the process of acquiring an agent to represent her memoir, The Out of Body Girl, which describes her 8 year relationship with a charismatic gambler and the dangerous road that eventually led to her freedom. Her chapbook of poems, Lost Handprint, is forthcoming from Dandelion Review. A freelance editor and writing coach, Joyce’s writing services and a selection of her artwork can be found at her website joycehayden.com. Joyce is available for commission art work, including celebration shrines for loved ones and pets.