Thursday, November 28, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 34

There are a few things I ask writers to do for me. Not be shitty people isn't usually one of them. Knowing their craft? That's negotiable. It depends on what they're trying to do vs. what they're actually doing. Not blowing the only tension in the fucking book by removing it entirely? Yeah, that'd actually be one of the FEW things I ask writers to do.

Yeah, we're all about to find out that Anita Blake isn't pregnant.

When should this plot have been resolved? The last chapter, when Anita looks down and discovers she's bleeding, and then during the "summery" chapter when LKH says "It was just a period, not a miscarrage" because miscarrages are usually incredibly awful things further compounded by post-partum depression (Because the same mechanism applies)

Instead, it's getting resolved well before the three fourth's mark. When it comes to story values, LKH is fucking tone deaf.

Oh, and for tonight and possibly the next few nights I am without a computer with Kindle software, so unless the quote is worth typing, no quotes from the text. I'd say "You'll have to follow along" but frankly, unless you bought it a long, long time ago, if you're following along at home, you're either really dedicated or demented. I'll let you decide which one you are.

(For the record, I'm demented)

They go see the doctor. Anita's OBGYN is, of course, male. Anita makes it VERY VERY CLEAR that she does NOT WANT TO BE THERE. Anita's doctor proves that he is a saint by not protesting the number of men Anita requires, and by giving them a private room to wait in. Though I'd assume they'd manage to do this for everyone possible.

Anita also establishes that Joseph, the local werelion leader, brought a ton of people with him for Anita to snack on because he Does Not Like Haven. All caps are required. Haven, Sesame Street fetish aside, is apprently real bad news. I would like you all to apprciate that, if MLPFIM existed when this book was written, Haven would probably be a brony. With pink hair. His nickname would be Pinkie Pie and not Cookie Monster. I don't know if I should be glad or feel cheated.

They make very sure that Anita understands they brought her submissive people. Folks, if you are in a position where leaders need to bring you tithes of people to keep you from fucking up their lives? You've done something very, very bad and you've been doing it for a really long time.

Two of them are not old enough to drink, and this is established by having them study for tests while in the waiting room.

Obviously, neither of them will be picked.

LKH takes time to establish that natural bad-ass trumps military training via Claudia and "Lisandro". The wereheyena guard includes Graham, sadly, and somebody named Ixion. Anita reminds us all that Narcissus is a creepy abusive fucker bordering on cult leader, and that he renames all of his men once they're inducted into his pack. I'd like to know if he's still deliberately infecting gay and now not-so-gay men to make his pack more powerful, because NIC made that really fucking obvious and if that's still the case, the renaming is a version of Nope somewhere between the cultervention three chapters ago and the shower-rape of Anita.

The doctor comes into the room, notices that Anita is on the verge of making herself bleed, and just tells her to stop it. Dr. North (that's his name; I think he's blond) is officially the most laid back medical pro in existance.

We go over the "We've got four versions of lycanthropy WHICH BREAKS EVER ESTABLISHED RULE but no big" issue, and then Dr. North tells Anita that she tested positive for both Mowgli's and Vlad's syndrome, but negative for pregnancy.

How. the fuck. does that work.

LKH wants us to think that "OH ANITA IS JUST THAT SPECIAL AND AFFLICTED" but all I'm hearing is "I don't understand how blood tests work." A quick google turns up several sites that seem to indicate that all blood tests look for are abnormal blood chemistry levels which indicate, and I quote, "an increased risk of chromosomal abnormality" end-quote. There's nothing in my VERY breif google search to suggest that defect-specific blood testing is possible. It suggests that what a blood test does is identify the possibility of a birth-defect that is diagnosed via a series of sonograms and tissue samples. The blood tests aren't looking for genetic abnormalities, just hormonal ones. This is the medical equivilant of time of death being sometime last thursday, maybe. There's a posibility that these abnormal hormone levels could mean birth defects. They could also mean twins. I could see a test for Vlad's testing for vampire hormones of some sort that would not normally be present in a bite, but what the bloody blue fuck are they testing to discover Mowgli's? Are they testing for every possible single version of therianthropy ever? All the many non-human hormones an animal might have? Because these tests aren't "Let's look for non-human proteans". They're "Let's look for this specific variation of this protean that we know only shows up under this set of circumstances'. Blood tests, like most medical and forensic tests, can only look for what you tell them to see. That's not "general non-human proteans", that's "This very specific chemical that we've developed a detection test for". And if it is a non-human hormone that's breaking the placental barrier, how is this not making the mother routinely sick? Women have intensely severe reactions to babies that have a different Rh factor than theirs: they self-abort the baby. That's just a differing blood factor. We're now talking about a blood chemistry so dramatically different that it crosses the placental barrier and infects the mothers blood, and can be detected by a shotgun-style blood test. There is no fucking way these pregnancies should be carried long enough to be detectable, let alone to eat its way out of its mother.

And the thing is? Having these two tests is actually a pretty nice sort of worldbuilding. They don't fall apart because they don't make sense. They fall apart because we have to imagine a way for Anita to have the syndromes, but not the baby, and that means finding out how pre-natal blood tests actually work, and that leads to this pandora's box of PREGNANCY DOES'T WORK THAT WAY. And this all goes back to LKH wanting Anita to be that fucking special that she and she alone gets to break the universe's rules. If Anita were actually pregnant? We'd buy one, or maybe both tests. But Anita's not pregnant, and that brings up the never-to-be-answered-question of what could cause that kind of false positive?

Fuck it. Dr. North brings Anita onto the medical bed, and the chapter ends, as they have consistantly, with a special little tidbit of quotable angst.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 32-33

I had a real good conversation with a couple of ya'll last night, and it reminded me why I, at least, keep reading this awful shit. It's because the subject matter is something I want to read about. Rape and all. The issue I have is *not* that sex happens (Other than the sex being vanilla and boring 99.99999% of the time). I actually like reading about, well, an awful lot of the same things that keep appearing in this series. And of course the plots have so much goddamn potential it's insane. The issue is that all that potential is wasted, and all the other things--the abuse, the rape, the sexism, the racism--are all done wrong.

In other words, boys and girls, it's not the content that's the issue; it's the perspective.

The last three chapters could easily have come out of the lifestory of an escaped cult victim whose first attempts at running failed, and the realization is being treated as selfish stupidity on Anita's part. Anita has to constantly prove her value as a human by being better at things than someone else, rather than simply being alive and competent. And of course, let's not forget that Anita's been raped at least once a book since Narcissus, and it's praised as a loving act. Anita rapes other people, and it's a fault on their part that they no longer want to have a relationship with her.

But you see that next book and pick it up out of morbid interest and read the promise of something that is exactly what you want right now...that won't actually happen in the book. The last book promised us a zombie plague, zombies, mayhem, vampires, shapeshifters, more zombies, relationship politics, sex, and another good helping of zombies. What we got instead was a left-field villain, the same shitty gender politics in place of actual relationships, and Nathanial running around active crime scenes in his bondage collar, all wrapped up by the standard LKH handwave in the last few paragraphs of the book. And what you get instead of enjoyment is this kind of paralizing awe, like, HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS. And of course, trainwreck syndrome: You want to know if it can get worse.

It gets worse.

Chapter 32 starts with Anita and Requiem having mind-alteringly boring sex, all the usual trademarks in place; a penis alternatiely "His nakedness" or just "himself" because everybody is defined by their genitals. And then...look, everything about this chapter is set up so that Anita will fuck someone she doesn't want to fuck. LKH deliberately established that Anita doesn't want Requiem, and then systematically manipulated her into a position where if Anita doesn't fuck Req, Damian and Nathanial die. So we're already way, way, WAY into psychological fuckery. When I read shit like this, I'm thinking that all LKH had to do was make Anita want to screw Requiem. We wouldn't need to have lives at risk, we wouldn't need to have this endless dick-measuring chess game. It'd be two people fucking because they want to fuck

So in the middle off all this, with Damian and Nathanial's lives on the line, Requiem decides to stop right before Anita hits orgasm, because Anita hasn't proven that she's in love with him.

“Finish it,” he said, voice showing the strain of his control.
 “Your words betray you, Anita. You use me only because you must, not because you want me.” Anger flared through me. 
“My body wants you, Requiem.”
 “But your heart does not.”z

So first Req and Jean Claude manipulate Anita into sex she doesn't want, and then decide to shut the sex down with Anita believing not fucking Req will kill two people she does love, because Requiem wants his ego boosted. Meaning that Anita will believe she killed Damian and Nathanial through her inability to give a man an emotional handjob.

So, to her credit, Anita says "Fuck this shit" and tries to find somebody else.

And this is the point where we took yet another rail cart downhill. I mean, we did full on cult-induction manipulation two chapters ago. HOW CAN THIS GET WORSE?

The text implies that Anita's ardeur searches the entire circus for an able penis. There are lots of penises in the place. Asher, Jean Claude, Richard, Haven, most of the were-rats. There are plenty of people she could latch on to. There is only one person, however, that she promised to keep her hands off of because he'd been abused by Belle Morte and he'd had enough of that shit, thank you. So yeah, she decides that London is the dude she needs to fuck.

And she doesn't ask him. Nope. She throws all her power into him and sends him climbing over every other warm and not warm body in the room to get to her.

His face lowered toward me, his breath escaping in a sound like a sob, before he pressed his mouth against mine. That sound made me remember that there was something important about London and the ardeur. Something I needed to remember, but he kissed me, and I stopped thinking about anything but the feel of his mouth on mine.
I can't decide if this is the second, third, or twenty-somethingth rape in this book. And not only is it rape, but it's the magical equivilant to force-feeding an alcoholic a bottle of tequila. Which is also some of the imagery LKH uses during the sex scene. Because we can't be allowed to forget that London is an ardeur addict. That might spoil this scene's very special something. Meanwhile London's responses are described as being "frantic" and "panicked" and we are frequently given little reminders that London is the last person on earth Anita should be fucking right now. There's one little bit where he's described as being flat-out terrified beneath the ardeur's mind-altering effects, and Anita remembers that whoops, he's addicted to this and he made her promise on multiple occasions TODAY that she would never ever ever ever touch him with the ardeur, and she even apologizes, because mentally raping an addict with their addiction of choice is totally like bumping into someone with a cup of hot coffee. And then they go right back to fucking.

And again: All LKH had to do was have Anita and Requiem have voluntary, consensual sex and we would not be reading about this.

The chapter ends with them both orgasming, and then Anita holding London while he sobs and she wonders just how much it cost him to do that with her. Because the image of a rapist comforting their victim and thanking them for their generosity is totally the way to end a chapter.

LKH has created a character with the power to literally rape millions of people at once. And then continually sets up scenarios for forced, damaging, non-consensual sex that make NO SENSE AT ALL once you factor in that all we needed to do to avoid that was have the author script both characters to want to fuck.

Chapter 33 opens with Remus, the were-hyena leader, finally doing something sane. He asks Jean Claude for permission to get his people the fuck out of the circus.

See, this little display, and the two chapters before it, have illustrated an awful lot about the priorities for these people. Nobody gives a fuck about your mental well being, as demonstrated by the cult-vention around Anita in chapter 30, keeping Anita hooked into the Richard/JC/Anita tri-whatever has made her incredibly fucking dangerous, she's got the self control of a two-year-old on pixie-sticks, and promises don't count for shit. EVERYONE is now staring at Anita like 'WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST DO" because she just did something terrible. And for those of you keeping pace with the abuse manipulation chart, getting out of her relationship with Jean Claude now means admitting to herself that she just raped an addict who had come to her for help and who trusted her to protect him and keep her word. Which will be very hard to accept, especially if London has just joined the harem, because every time she fucks him she'll be revictimizing him.

Jean Claude responds to Remus's concerns for his people with, basically "Dude, she's offering free sex!"

I think several of them would have been more than happy to help protect ma petite, in these circumstances.”

Remus is insistant, and the were-rats agree. They're scared to death and they don't want to be involved in this anymore. Jean Claude lets them leave.

Anita spends a minute struggling with the impulse to guilt and shame, and then decides that Remus pulling his people out is a sexist criticism of her as a person, and not a move made to protect vulnerable people.

But in reality, as Remus had said, most of them were ex-military or ex-cops. Which meant a woman was always working uphill with them anyway. They’d seen me have sex with one man, and once the story got around it would be more. The really weird thing about the rumors would be that some of the men who had actually witnessed everything would be convinced that I’d had sex with more men. I’d be lucky if some of them didn’t claim they themselves had had sex with me.

It's not the sex, Anita. It's the circumstances. By your own admission, every man in that room was explored by the ardeur, which means every man in that room is aware they could have been pulled into sex with you. But it's the fact that you raped someone who came to you for help that's the big kicker. You do not give a flying fuck about their lives.

There are a few guys, however, who basically eye-fuck Anita. She tries to glare them down and defuse the tension by being a bigger bad-ass than they are, but naturally she fails because she's not comfortable being "more naked than the rest of the room". Who rescues her from the objectifying gaze of shitty human beings?

Nathanial. He marks her as "his woman" and that makes everything better.

That look that a man gets when another man encroaches on his “woman.” Nathaniel, who shared better than any man in my life, was marking his territory. That dark, possessive look never wavered from the parade of men. He rested the side of his chin against the mound of my breast, making it clear that he had a right to be there, like that, with me, and they did not. I didn’t think Nathaniel would grasp the problem, but he had.

Which means that the stupidity up there was the "right" move to make. I'm dumbfounded. I have no words. I can't even. There is no even for me to work with here. HOW CAN THIS SHIT STILL GET WORSE.

Richard drags in a limp Damian, because of course Anita raping an addict isn't enough to fix the problem, and he dumps Damian on the bed. Jean Claude decides that it's because Damian is awake too early. Damian and Anita share some sappy romantic dialogue and then oh good fucking Christ

He managed a weak smile. “It would be nice,” he took a labored breath, “if you’d stop almost killing me because you don’t want to screw other people.”
There it is, black and white, straight from the text. LOOK AT IT.

Then Nathanial touches both Anita and Damian and I guess it's their turn to level up. Hey, we endured rape, psychological manipulation and near death experiances. We should at least get a full level Raichu out of the deal.

 And then Remus comes in and says, in summery because the dialogue is AWFUL, "I thought you were a slut before but it really is life and death for you, so you need to get Narcissus to give you guards who are comfortable with the idea of surprise non-con sex."

Note that qualifier: It's life and death for her. SHE'S not a slut. (FYI that's the word the book's using) Nope. Other women who have highly active sex lives are, but SHE'S not because if she doesn't fuck someone frequently all her boyfriends will die.

I'd say "Fuck me" but I think that'd actually happen at this point.

Richard and Asher then decide to have a dick-measuring contest over how Richard didn't want to watch Anita fuck Requiem. Who is now completely gone, I have no idea where he went, and I really don't care. The conversation accomplishes nothing. Neither does the one between Asher and Anita, where Anita tries to avoid informing Richard--you know, the first guy she ever raped--that she just did it again, to another person who, like Richard, had asked her specifically not to do that to him ever.

Anita says "You're just doing this because you're angry and you don't want to tell us why."

And the reason for this? Asher is pissed that Anita keeps picking straight men, which means he won't ever get to join in. He states that he doesn't go outside of Anita's relationships because he's worried that'd give Jean Claude an excuse to cut him off completely, which is probably exactly what would happen, given that JC is a manipulative asshole.

Micah steps in and says 'Let's get everything settled and we'll talk about your issues later." Asher says that won't ever happen, and he's probably right too, but he drops it because, again, everybody in this room is a manipulative abusive asshole and tonight they're all working in high gear.

London comes back into the room. Anita, naturally, is classy as ever:

He’d never really been on my guy radar, and now he was food.

Note the dehumanizing word choice, my lovelies. He's not a lover. He's not a boyfriend. He's not a guy. He's food.

He almost makes it out of the room, and then has a full on emotional meltdown because he just lost his sobriety and it wasn't even his choice. And just like every other fucked up thing in the book, London getting readdicted to the ardeur is treated as a good thing. He says he feels better than he has in centuries.

Yeah. Way to invalidate every addiction recovery process EVER, Laurell. It takes a lot of skill to shit on that many people in the space of one fucking chapter.

The chapter ends with Anita pouting about how complicated her sex life is. Yep. A steady diet of rape does tend to fuck everything up. I got no sympathy.

Danse Macabre--chapter 31

So. Anita's big act of contrition is sex with Requiem.

Jean-Claude’s voice cut across the panic. “Requiem, your moment has come.” He looked at me. “If you fight him, they will die. Drop your shields, and let his power take you. Let him awake the ardeur, and feed.”
Yeah, JC's role is "fucking cult leader." Yeah. If somebody you know makes shit like "living your own life  how you want it" into a life or death situation that is detrimental to your own health?" It's NOT a good thing.

I did what he asked. I let go. Let go, and fell into eyes the color of sea water where it runs deep and clear and cold, and the blue dark glows with the cold light of phosphorescence, shining off the backs of creatures that never saw the light of day.

I like that paragraph. Too bad that 1. it's melodramatic as fuck because nothing about this paragraph is special and 2. It's describing something that is so. fucking. wrong.

Yeah. I'm still highly disturbed by the last chapter. That's not sex. That's not consensual, that's not cool. That's how abuse happens, and it's still how it happens. Guys, I am not kidding. We, as human beings, are hardwired to respond to pressure like this by submitting to our abusers. That's because we know on an instinctive level that this kind of pressure means the next move might mean the abuser tries to kill us. It's not a sign of weakness on the victim's part. Returning to an abuser is a last-ditch attempt to keep the victim alive. And it's a response that is absolutely fucking correct. I said it yesterday, I will say it again: The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the victim is trying to leave. If you are an abuse victim and you're trying to get out, you CANNOT be careful enough. I know too many stories where the victim did everything "right", they followed the advice, they cut the son of a bitch off cold, and they still died in the end.  The problem is that humans are hardwired for short-term survival. We don't care about thriving in the long term; we just want to survive today.If you've left an abusive situation and you're still alive, you are an incredibly lucky human and you need to take a minute to thank yourself and your supporters for getting you out. And if you're still in one it is not your fault. You're not an idiot. You're not weak. You are fighting for your life on the most literal level and it is not right for you to be in that position.

 Nathanial takes a minute to tell Anita that he loves her for going back. Yeah, the smart abusers make a big deal out of the victim returning to status quo. Reward that behavior and you buy yourself time to set the victim up for a bigger fall the next time they try standing up for themselves. Get fucked, Nate.

He turned to Jean-Claude. “I cannot break her. I cannot get through!”

How the fuck do you write a line like "I can't break her" and think "this is romantic"?

I’d fed the ardeur a hundred times, and it had never been like this.'re going to make me research the Anita Blake timeline, aren't you?

For the record, the timeline for these books is broken beyond all hope of repair. The last three books, best case senario, all happened in the space of two or three months. That said, the best estimate for a timeline puts this book as little over a year from NIC, which is when Anita got the Ardeur. If she's had to fuck somebody every morning, that means she's "fed the ardeur" it well over three hundred and sixty five times. If that increased to twice a day, as it did in Incubus Dreams, that means she's done it a minimum of a hundred and twenty times in the last two months.

That is a lot of fucking.

And the best part, of course, is that Anita hasn't done any of it voluntarily.  Unless the dude in question is a broken mess (IE Asher) Anita does everything she can to get out of sex. Because it's very important we establish that Anita isn't a slut. Liking sex and enjoying sex and volunteering to have it are all things that icky sluts do and Anita isn't like that. She's not having sex because she wants it. She's having it because if she doesn't, the men in her life will die.

I kept my arms locked around his neck, and he reached out, and brought Requiem into view. “When you helped him raise need in yourself, you raised it in him, as well. Would you deny him?”
If I'd spent three chapters making it damn clear that the idea of fucking the dude made me uncomfortable? Damn straight.

Because that's the issue here. It's not that Anita is having sex, boys and girls. It's that she's gone out of her way to establish that she DOES NOT WANT THIS, and the men influencing her--Micah and Jean Claude--pounded her until they came up with a scenario she had to submit to. And again, in case I haven't pounded the subject into the ground enough, this isn't just sex with Requiem. This is Anita's act of contrition for trying to get out of the relationships. She has to fuck Requiem to make up for trying to get her own life back.

  • I had an instant of seeing so far into Requiem that I started to cry. Weeping not my tears, but his. He wanted the ardeur again, yes, but more than that, he wanted a place of refuge. A place where he could stop being afraid; he’d been afraid for so very long...I did the only thing that would keep him well and truly safe. I made him mine.

End of chapter. I want to puke. She doesn't even get to keep her own emotions. She has to cry REQUIEM'S tears.

Guys, seriously? You are no one's refuge. The only person who has any right to call you their salvation is yourself. You are under no obligation to save anyone else. If you want to try to help other people, that's great, but because the only person you can actively change is yourself, the only person you can rescue psychologically is yourself. You can point someone else to healthy behavior, but they have to do it themselves same way you have to do it yourself. If you want to be a savior, go get fireman training and pull people out of burning buildings. It'll be safer for all parties involved. If someone has tied their personal and sexual well-being to fucking you, it's not good, it's not healthy, and it's a huge red flag that you need to avoid that person while they seek actual help. And if anybody tries to tell you that you're "Saving" them by staying, all they're trying to do is guilt trip you into not leaving.

 I know I've gone a little off the handle the last couple of days. I don't know why this subject makes me see red the way the rape portrayals and the non-con and the misogyny and the racism don't, but I sincerely do not care. Personally, I don't think I can emphasize this enough. This shit is not okay. It's not normal. Abusive situations are literally life and death. Abusive relationships are terminal, and ending them is much, much more dangerous than perpetuating them. I don't want to trivialize it by saying that walking out makes everything better. Ending abuse isn't a case of staying miserable and being happy. It's a choice between a certain, long, drawn out death, and a risk of quick, violent death with a good chance of life afterwards. People only attempt to leave abuse when they become overwhelmed by the pain involved in the relationship. It's like a fox gnawing their own limb off to escape a trap. You will never be in as much danger as when you start trying to get out of abuse, there is no such thing as being too cautious in your attempts to end the relationship, and the ONLY way to make it stop is to either remove yourself or the abuser from the situation. If you are still in contact with the abuser, you are still being abused, and if you try to leave, you risk getting killed.

Stay safe, my blog readers. Please stay safe.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I want advice

Last night one of ya'll pointed out that it is difficult for disabled victims of violence to run. I went looking for advice for victims of domestic violence because I didn't have any, and I found out that's mostly because there isn't any. Not easily accessible via google. There's a few bits and pieces that I could find, but no good list of things you could do as a disabled person to make the abuse stop.

I don't think that it's a victim's responsibility to end abuse, but if an individual wants to try, they ought to know that there are options. I've spent today brainstorming and connecting those little bits and pieces into something I'd like to be usable.

I want you guys to tell me what I got wrong, what I missed, and what still needs to be addressed. I get that I'm an idiot, but right now I really don't give a shit how stupid or not stupid or whatever I am. I want a list of responsible actions a disabled person can take to protect themselves. I also want to know what an ally can do to protect the disabled, but I do NOT want to emphasize that someone should endure abuse, waiting for outside help, just because they're somehow impaired. EVERYONE should know what options they have, and how to use the existing systems to better themselves. Tell me I'm wrong, PLEASE tell me where I've fucked up, tell me what in the system needs to be changed, PLEASE, but if you know something about how disabled people can protect and defend themselves from abusive situations and cycles, please pass that information along. If there's a resource site I can look at, please link to it in the comment, if there actually is a list of advice and steps someone can take, please pass it on. I CANNOT FIND THIS INFORMATION ANYWHERE and unlike a lot of victims in crisis I DO know where to start looking.

THIS IS NOT FOR THE BLOG. Or, you know, not ONLY for the blog. This is something I want to pass on up to my stepmother and my father. They're both in positions of authority in hospitals and they are both deeply connected in the outreach systems in my community, both through their church and through their place of business. They're in a position to pass this information on to the programs they work with every day and they'll probably be just as pissed as I am that this has been overlooked. If it is this hard for me to find information beyond "Pay attention to what's happening and be ready to report it" (Which, btw, risks INCREASING danger to the abused person) then whatever you've got, blog-readers, is probably much more valuable than that lecture you're about to give me. GIVE ME THE LECTURE. I need to hear about ten million of them. But please pass any data you've got on.

This is what I've cobbled together so far.

-Figure out what your options are. Can you run? What are the obstacles to physically leaving the situation and can these circumstances be overcome? Even if you are bedridden, it may be possible to arrange an escape plan. Do NOT discount this option until you have completely exhausted every possibility. 

-Refuse to be isolated. Maintain contact with as many people outside the situation as possible. Get underhanded if you have to. The most important thing you can do is stay in touch with the people who are not harming you. If you’ve alienated anyone at the abuser’s request, get back in touch with them as soon as it is safe to do so and ask for their help. Trust me, 99% of the time these people have been waiting for you to reach out to them. It is entirely possible that they will have their own plan in place, ready to go. Because of the way our system is set up, no one can do anything to help you until you reach out. This is one reason why your abuser will do everything in their power to cut you off from the outside world. Do NOT allow this to happen. You will have to be careful about how you time your cry for help, but right now you can make sure that cry will be heard.

-Create alternate social media accounts. Disposable e-mail address, disposable facebook, disposable twitter. Memorize the passwords and account names and delete your browsing history frequently. If your abuser lives in the same home, set an alarm to “snooze”, turn the volume down if you can, and delete your history every time it goes off. ALWAYS erase your history when you are done using the internet. Use your disposable accounts to contact your local advocacy groups and support networks ONLY. Do not use these accounts for casual contacts with uninvolved people. NEVER stay signed in to these accounts. Sign out, delete your cookies, erase your history. The best thing you could do is have a second set of accounts that you use when you know your abuser is watching. When you've made your ally contacts for the day, sign into the dummy accounts and make sure your abuser sees them. They’ll spend their time monitoring those accounts instead of the accounts you’re using to contact your allies.

-Investigate your medical situation. Find out what “reasonable care” is for someone with your condition and, if it’s at all possible, begin planning for how to provide that care without your abuser. This will tell you what will and will not be possible for you, and again, make sure that you have exhausted every single option before you give up on the idea of escape. This will also enable you to make a case for how your abuser is harming you.

-Begin documenting EVERYTHING. If you have an ipad or other electronic item with a camera, take photographs. Document when you receive necessary food and medical care, how frequently, and how you are treated when this occurs. Time of contact, nature of contact, frequency of contact. DO NOT KEEP THIS WITH YOU. DO NOT KEEP THIS ANYWHERE YOUR ABUSER CAN FIND IT. It may mean e-mailing yourself these records. Do it. If the abuse is verbal, try to obtain a recording device (your cell phone might work, your computer or ipad could be adapted to work) so that you have documented what they are saying. Share this documentation ONLY with people who won’t bring it up with your abuser until after your safety has been secured. YOU DO NOT WANT THE ABUSER TO KNOW YOU ARE DOING THIS.

-Find out what your legal circumstances are. Who is your legal guardian, who has your power of attorney, and how many legal ties stand between you and your abuser? Will it be possible for you or someone outside the situation to sever those ties? 

-You will need to find someone you can trust outside of the situation who can sit on your circumstances long enough for the two of you to formulate a plan. This is your primary ally. Even if you are not disabled you ought to have a primary outside contact to help arrange things when the abuser is watching. Your ally will have to be someone you can trust completely with everything from money to transportation to medical assistance, who absolutely, positively, comprehensively WILL NOT contact your abuser. Be VERY careful in choosing this person. Being with an abuser warps your perception of reality and people, and it is entirely possible for you to choose another abuser. Another thing to consider is that Social workers, councelors, doctors, nurses and police officers are all REQUIRED to report abuse to Adult Protective Services within twenty-four hours of receiving that information, and APS is REQUIRED to act on those reports within forty-eight hours of receiving them. The good news is that means by law the people taking care of you HAVE to report abuse regardless of if they believe you. The bad news is that means your abuser can be notified of your accusations within three days of you reporting your abuse. If your abuser is made aware of an investigation and they are NOT removed from their position as caregiver, you will be in massively increased danger of abuse and retaliation. Unless it is an emergency, it may be in your best interest to avoid reporting your abuse until you have a plan to either escape the situation, or defuse your abuser’s attempts at retaliation. Do your best to avoid a confrontation until your safety and well being are secured.

-If your abuser is your primary caregiver, try to set up your ally as their alternate and suggest that your abuser take breaks from providing care. This will give you the opportunity to sign paperwork, make telephone calls, document conditions around the household, and set up alternate methods of care without their presence. If running is an option, this will also lay the groundwork for your chance to leave. This may not work, but it’s worth a shot.

-Get a PO box your abuser does not know about. You may have to get your ally to set this up and to handle mail deliveries. This will allow you to obtain things to assist in both your efforts to document the abuse, assist your medical situation, and to facilitate any possible escape plan. It is also very important in the case of an escape attempt that your "previous address" NOT be the mailing address your abuser has access to. When you file a change of address form, a notice is sent to your previous address. If you have an established PO box that notification will go there, and not directly to your abuser.

-Set up alternate methods of funding and investigate fundraising. You may need a lawyer. You will most likely need money to set up medical care on your own. You may need to procure alternate housing once your abuser is out of the picture. A new bank account would be ideal. If that is not possible, investigate a pre-paid credit card that allows direct deposit transfers. Allow your ally to set these up ONLY if you trust them with your money. It’s best if you keep these under your name and under your control. Once you have a place to put your money, look into ways to raise money on your own. Etsy. Ebay. Donations from interested parties. I would recommend being VERY wary of using crowdfunding resources unless you can absolutely trust your ally, because crowdfunding requires proof of address and a time commitment that you will not be able to provide simply because your abuser will be watching. The absolute last thing you want your abuser to see are your fundraising attempts, especially if you manage to raise a large dollar amount. Your ally would have to manage this. But try everything, no matter how farfetched it sounds. The more money you have at your disposal, the more options you have when securing your safety.

-If phones are an option for you, Get a disposable cell phone and several SIM cards that will fit that model phone. You may want to have your ally keep a second phone of the same model. SIM cards retain the cell’s number and call history, and replacing the SIM card in your phone gives you a new number and a new call history. It’ll be cheap, and if your abuser becomes suspicious and begins trying to restrict your access to communications, you’ll have a backup. Learn how to remove and replace SIM cards on your own and keep an UNUSED card in the phone when you are not actively communicating with allies. Hide the SIM card you use to contact allies someplace very secure where your abuser is very unlikely to find it. This way, if your abuser finds the phone and checks your call history it will be blank. If they confiscate the phone, you’ll still have all your contact numbers on the SIM card and your primary ally may be able to get you the backup phone. If not, you can give the contact SIM card to your primary ally and they will be able to notify authorities and keep your other allies informed.

-Using your new phone and dummy accounts ONLY, acquire an advocate well-versed in your disability. Inform them of your situation and provide them with the documentation you’ve been keeping. Reguardless of what you do next—escape or confrontation—have this advocate with you at all times during the final stages. But be extraordinarily careful in how you communicate with the advocate. Your abuser will absolutely attempt to cut you off from this person. Do not allow them to know your advocate exists until it is too late for them to isolate you.

-Stockpile any and all medications, necessary equipment and supplies you will need. Ideally, have what you would need for two to three days. This is something you will have to give your primary ally, as it is too dangerous to keep this around your house. If your abuser finds it, it's a red flag that you intend to leave and/or get rid of them. EVEN IF YOU PLAN TO STAY AT THAT LOCATION, you need to have an emergency supply of necessities your abuser cannot access.It's entirely possible for them to sabotage your medications or medical equipment on their way out, or to hide something you need to force you to back down and withdraw your accusation. If it is possible for you to get a spare to your ally, do it.

-The ideal way to confront an abuser is to remove yourself from the situation and never talk to them again. This may not be possible for you, but you may be underestimating your ability to create your own escape. If you are being abused in an institution, you may be able to set up a transfer to a different facility, especially if you’ve managed to obtain an outside ally and funding your abuser does not have access to. If you are being abused in the home, you may be able to set up an escape plan with your ally, especially if you’ve arranged for your abuser to have a day off outside of the home. If you can be driven to and from doctor’s appointments, you can be driven away from the abuse. If you’ve arranged for your primary ally to be your abuser’s alternate caregiver, you can arrange for an outing with your ally—doctor’s appointment, a trip to the hairdresser—that will allow you to be loaded into transportation without the abuser’s suspicion. You could also arrange for your ally to meet you at a doctor’s appointment and leave when your abuser is not watching--this would also be the time to notify your doctor about the abuse. Alternatively, arrange for your abuser to leave the home for whatever reason, and vacate the home as soon as your abuser is no longer present. If you are bedridden, or you require a lot of medical equipment, arrange for an ambulance to take you to a secure facility. As soon as you are out of the abuser's reach, IMMEDIATELY contact the police, Adult Protection Services, and any social workers or caseworkers you have and notify them that you were being abused and that you have removed yourself from the abusive situation. 

-If escape is not possible, then you have to remove the abuser. If you are in an institution, wait until the person abusing you is gone for a prolonged period of time—a weekend, a vacation, something that will keep them out of the building and away from you long enough for steps to be taken. Notify any allies you have and, if possible, get them in the room. Once you’ve ensured that you are not alone, notify the abuser’s supervisor, the social workers in the building and the licensing board monitoring the facility that abuse is occurring and provide the documentation you’ve been keeping. Instruct your allies to refuse to leave you alone until the issue with the abuser has been resolved. DO NOT COMMUNICATE WITH THE ABUSER OR ANYONE DEFENDING THEM. If the facility calls the police to remove your allies, inform the police that you are being abused, you do not feel safe without the presence of your allies, and you would like this situation to be resolved. Show the police your documentation. Make absolutely sure you contact the licensing board monitoring the both the facility and the abuser. If the licensing boards are aware that abuse is occurring, the facility has to address those accusations and they CANNOT retaliate against you. If a nursing board or medical board are notified that a nurse or doctor is abusing a patient, by law they HAVE to investigate that accusation and there is a very good chance that board will pull the abuser's license. And again: If it is at all possible, transfer out of the facility

-if the abuse is occurring in a home situation, when you are ready to move contact social services, Adult Protective Services, any caseworkers that might be working with you, anyone supervising your abuser (And if they're a doctor, an LPN or a RN, contact the licensing board) and the police. If at all possible, have your allies meet with the police prior to any confrontation, provide them with the documentation, and request to have the police meet them at the home during the confrontation. Have your advocate accompany them, if they are not the same person, so that the advocate can explain the nature of your disability and prepare the authorities for any excuses your abuser may provide. And above all else, make ABSOLUTELY SURE that you are not alone when you confront your abuser, and that you are not left alone after. Do whatever it takes to get the abuser off the property.

-Your abuser may hold legal authority over you. You have the right to revoke power of attorney. Do it. If your abuser holds legal guardianship, have your ally seek an emergency custody hearing to get a court-appointed guardian immediately prior to any attempts to remove either yourself or the abuser from the situation, and do not make your move until guardianship has been established with someone you can trust. 

-If you can't run, You’ll be staying at the same property for the time being. This is incredibly dangerous. Your abuser knows where you are and will make attempts to get back into your life and/or retaliate. Because he knows the property, there is a good chance he can get close enough to hurt you. THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO IS HAVE YOUR ABUSER IN JAIL AS LONG AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. That won’t last, so you’ll have to take steps to protect yourself short-term and long term. Deny them access to the property. Either you or your ally should learn how to change locks (it’s easier than you think) and purchase new lock kits for every entrance. Be ready to change the locks immediately after your abuser vacates the property. Do not go to bed until every door on the property is rekeyed, including “Inside” doors that connect your house to a shed or garage. If you can't rekey it, chain it shut and put a padlock on it. Even if your abuser was not provided with a key to your house, they probably have one now. If you can’t afford new lock kits, switch the locks on your house with the locks on your ally’s house. Make sure that every door and window is secured. For the first week or two, do not stay at the property alone and DO NOT leave the property vacant for any length of time AT ALL, especially not if your abuser is still attempting contact. You abuser may call a locksmith and have the doors rekeyed to regain access, so it is important that either you or someone you trust be there to stop this from happening. Get the abuser’s name off bank accounts, utility bills, credit cards, and emergency contact sheets. Continue to document all contact with the abuser but do not, under any circumstances, communicate. Don’t answer their phone calls. Don’t answer the door. Don’t even open unwanted texts or e-mails. Document the contact, retain the (unread) text or e-mail, and then keep going.

-You may need to plan to move. Your abuser knows that property intimately, they know where you are as long as you stay there, and they’ll know how to get to you. If your abuser makes no attempt to contact you during the first month, and you have evidence they’ve moved on, it’s probably safe to stay. If your abuser has made repeated attempts to get back into your home and your life, or they are still calling you and making other attempts to contact you, or if you have seen them in the neighborhood, I highly recommend you begin the process of finding a new home and moving there. And again, DO NOT use your current address for anything. Instead, use your P.O. box as your primary mailing address. When you get to the new property, file change of address with the PO box as the previous address. Otherwise, notification of the new address will be sent to the current address, and if your abuser has any access to that address’s mail they will know where you are now.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 30

Guys, first off, brace yourselves. This is bad. There's no humor tonight, because there's nothing funny about what I just read. 

When I was thirteen, I read a book by Piers Anthony. My mother was pretty happy I was reading, and she didn't police my reading habits because, you know, that's not what cool moms do. Most of the time I'd agree with that 100%, but Piers Anthony is probably one of the most reprehensible human beings on planet earth. Most of his books involve some version of pedophilia, and that's the least awful thing he randomly includes. This particular series interested me because it involved world hopping, but it also exposed me to the concepts of gang rape, suicidal depression/ideation, pedophilia as a positive relationship and self-injury. It was, in fact, the first time I ever encountered the concept, and naturally every single thing about it was wrong. The protagonist is a fourteen year old girl who was abused as a small child, bullied in school and finally gang raped at a party at least a year before the book began, and is understandably depressed, and rather than having her parents realize that she's cutting herself in a tree and hiding the blood in the nastiest tin can on planet Earth and getting her much needed help, she gets whisked away on a romantic adventure by a twenty-five-year-old stranger who confirms her depression is utterly incurable and she's going to be that way for the rest of her life, and let's go magically relive all our trauma because it's not like we don't have flashbacks every fucking book. The bonus round, of course, was that when Mr. Anthony portrayed Self Injury he got every possible detail wrong. Protagonist cuts because she's too chicken-shit to be suicidal (This is what the text says) rather than because it offers a measure of relief (and because your subconscious is screaming HELP ME I CANNOT HANDLE MY SITUATION ANYMORE GET ME OUT AND GET ME HELP)

I refuse to give Anthony credit for my struggles with self injury, but I do have to admit that was the first seed ever planted. The things writers create speak to us on a level below conscious thought, simply because that's how storytelling works. You're holding the conscious interest with a shiny event, while you're shoving plot twists and character development under the brain's front door so the subconscious can process it. And a lot of other things get through. The writer's intent, their biases, and an awful lot of unintentional messages. A book is never responsible for an action, any more than a grain of sugar is responsible for fermentation. It doesn't trigger anything, but it contributes something to an individual's under-thought.

Laurell K. Hamilton's writing contributes the concept that abuse and forced consent are acceptable behaviors, and then it reenforces that concept over and over and over again. Not because unhealthy relationships are featured, but because these relationships are praised. And if someone is in an abusive relationship, and they see that relationship reflected in, say, Micah's rape of Anita in the shower, or Jean Claude's constant manipulation of Anita, and they read page after page of Anita praising those actions as love, love, true and unadulterated love, those pages have contributed to an abuse victim accepting their situation. 

Our brains are constantly processing information. One thing they constantly reprocess are comparisons. How does my life measure up to everyone else's? And it doesn't look at cars or houses, but rather histories. Is it normal for my husband to say this after I fail? Should my girlfriend be doing that? Is this normal? Is this acceptable? Am I doing okay, or do I need to change something? That's why having a gay character be a character and not a joke is important. That's why using rape as a joke is fucking wrong, and why having all the unlikable characters die in the slasher movie is the worst trend in movies ever. It's got nothing to do with being offended, and everything to do with the information being fed to the individuals who are still processing reality. And if you do get offended, it's probably not because you're personally insulted (unless you are). It's because on some level you understand how fucking damaging that attitude is to people who don't have defenses against that yet. It's why I find Prosperity Gospel and people like Hubbard and Warren Jeffs (Google it. Seriously. Start reading now and come back when the nausea gets overwhelming) to be pictures of fucking evil. LKH's target audience are women. Some of them will be married. Some of them will be married in abusive situations. Some of them will read about Anita's relationships and compare them to their own relationships and decide, based on that information, if how they are being treated is normal and healthy.

Think about that, and keep reading.

Anita is having a full on meltdown. This is the first positive thing I've found in the book so far. Emotional meltdowns aren't inherently bad. Frequently, if you're in an abusive relationship or you're struggling with addiction, they're good. They're the moment your subconscious finally kicks up the conclusion its been working on for months: This is not a good situation, nothing about this is good for us, and we need to get out. What we call an intervention is an artificial meltdown, a fake "bottom" to hit because the real "hitting bottom" could be fatal. I've had about three of these: Once when I realized my cutting had gotten out of hand, once when I understood that I'd gotten in a bad situation involving family, and once when I had a panic attack at my last job. These are not fun. Your entire worldview has been carefully built, either by yourself or, more likely, your abusive piece of shit significant other, to preclude exactly this revelation, and so that's the first thing to go. You lose all points of reference. You've been taught not to trust yourself, so you've just lost track of what's real. You feel guilt, you feel betrayed, usually by yourself, you feel a massive amount of pain and sorrow. Every time I went through this, I had the shakes anywhere from an hour to a couple of days. It's difficult to function physically, it's almost impossible to function mentally, and the one thing blazing through your mind is I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE.

 I heard a voice, a hysterical voice, saying, “Don’t want to do this… can’t do this. I can’t do this.” I realized it was me, and even realizing it, I couldn’t stop the babbling. “Can’t do a baby, tests, don’t want to do the ardeur anymore, no more, no more men, no more adding to my life.”
If Anita had one real friend in that room, she'd be out of all of this in thirty seconds. This is not a momentary lapse in judgement. This is a physical breakdown.

But here's the thing: Abusers are terrified of this moment. Sometimes it's subconsious, but most of the time they consiously know damn well that if you actually break through the shaky part and even one person confirms what you just said, they've lost you. So while you're sobbing and screaming and trying to remember how to run, they're being nice and sedate and calm, and breaking out the guilt trips.

This is exactly what happens next:

“It (Anita leaving) will destroy your power base,” Asher’s voice, though I couldn’t make my eyes search the room for him.
 “So be it,” Jean-Claude said. I fought to see him clearly, watch him look to Richard. “Why the tragic face, Richard? You could be free of the triumvirate, Richard, free of me.”
Guilt trip the first: It'll destroy everything Jean Claude built, and it's all Anita's fault. She's the one that wants to leave. Everything else is going so well. In choosing to leave, she's just decided that her life is more important than Jean Claude's entire empire.

Anita just flat out said it: SHE WANTS OUT. She wants out of the relationships, she wants out of the baby, she wants out of the magic. And this is the nearest that Jean Claude et-al ever get to honesty: Anita can't be allowed to leave because that shatters everything they've built. NONE of which she benefits from.

YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO LEAVE. Even if it destroys the world (and it won't. Abusers are amazingly resiliant monsters) you have every right to say "Fuck that" and walk out the door.

Jean-Claude’s face loomed into view. “Ma petite, drop your shields. Drop them just enough for me to sense you. Let me share energy with you. You are unwell.”
Hey, we're going to invalidate your thought process and accuse you of being ill. Just let us back in and everything will be alright. You're sick, that's all. You're not thinking right, and I am, and if you'll just trust me I'll make everything better.

I can't decide if I want to scream or vomit right now.

This is how cultists keep their membership. This is how absuers keep their victims. It's never the victim's choice to stay. EVER. You cannot make a choice when you are never allowed to even consider the alternative. The victim chooses to leave and then gets pounded back into staying. Anita did not choose this lifestyle. She's fought it tooth and nail every step of the way and now she's literally screaming I WANT OUT and it's a sudden dogpile of negativity, invalidation and death threats.

Oh, have I not brought that part up yet?

“Damian.” I opened my eyes, and found myself staring into a black blur of a face. Nathaniel moved back far enough for me to have a chance to focus on him. 
I repeated what he’d said. “Damian.” 
“Damian will die,” Nathaniel said.
In other words, "I'll die if you leave me."

Lemme back up a bit and address the part right before that:

I was trying to do a take-back, on a game that had played too far for a do-over. The front part of my brain knew it was too late, but it wasn’t the front part of my brain that was in charge. How do you argue with the subconscious? How do you argue with a part of your brain you don’t even know is there most of the time?
Your subconsious is smarter than you are. It doesn't kick this shit up to fuck with you. When you break down like this, your brain is telling you you need to get out. And it is never too late to get out. It doesn't matter if you're married or you've got kids or he's dying of cancer or she's suicidal. If you want out, GET OUT. If you've had one of these scream-cry moments, especially if it's recent, and you didn't listen to it? You were right then, and it's time to go.

 So Jean Claude repeats it several times: If Anita leaves, Damian dies and it'll be all her fault. Then Micah brings up that even if she runs, she'll still be pregnant and she'll still need to go see a doctor. Which is bullshit. Yes, she still needs to deal with the baby, but she can do that with Ronnie, and by making a different appointment (Because the men might meet her at the current one and do this again. In fact, if I were Ronnie and Anita said she wanted out, I'd have her make an appointment with a different doctor, and then make plans to leave the state) and she can decide to terminate the pregnancy. It'd make the running a lot easier.

Anita says that if she leaves, she'll be free of the Ardeur. Jean Claude, of course, has a reply:
“In truth, I do not know if the gifts and curses you gain through the vampire marks will vanish if the triumvirate breaks. It may leave you as I found you, alone and safe in your own skin, if that is what you truly desire. Or you may retain some abilities, but lose the aid of…” He hesitated, finally finishing with, “all of us, in your struggle with the ardeur.”
Translation: It might not go away, and if you've still got it when you've left, I won't help you.

Yeah, loyal readers: Your abuser will always have a reply. Always. Do not EVER EVER EVER try to reason with an abuser. Don't interact with them, don't discuss your choice. Make a plan to deal with their attempts to get you back (which ought to involve hanged-up phones, a new place to live, and as many friends between you and them as you can possibly get) and then LEAVE. If you let them start talking there's a good chance they'll talk you into staying, and this time staying might kill you.


And finally, Jean Claude, Micah AND Richard all bring out the big gun: Leave, and you'll die.

“I simply do not know what will happen, because what I feel you doing is impossible. Only true death should be able to break you free of my marks. Since what you attempt has never been done, I do not know what the outcome will be.” His voice was utterly bland, empty, as if his words meant nothing.
Micah touched my face, turned me to look at him. I could see him clearly, finally. His kitty-cat eyes were so serious. “Nothing that is happening is worth dying over, Anita, please.”

Richard hugged me from behind, bending all that six-feet-plus of warmth and muscle around me. “Please, Anita, don’t do this.” His breath was so warm, almost hot, against my hair.

This is textbook. As in I can name about fifteen different situations where exactly this happened to people. Most of them are people who tried to escape a cult (IE Elissa Wall, Marc Headley, Carolyn Jessop, Jenna Miscavage-Hill) but I know a few where women tried to escape individual abusers and had to either run for their lives or find the nearest thing to a bunker to live in, just to get away.

And Anita gives in. This entire situation is treated like a loving intervention on Jean Claude, Richard, Micah and Nathanial's part, and not a classic case of an abusive system struggling to retain a key member. Their loving embraces and kisses and concerned faces are described in warm and glowing terms... Or to TL:DR everything up there:


I want you to take three seconds and imagine an abuse victim on the cusp of bottoming out and running, reading this. This isn't just the senario, kids. LKH IS WRITING VERBATUM WHAT ABUSERS SAY. This is exact. THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENS. THIS IS HOW IT WORKS. And she's saying that it's a loving, concerned act on their part, because clearly the victim just went momentarily insane.

The vomit bucket is over there.

And of course Anita decides to stay for Damian's sake. Jean Claude says that they must "reawaken" Anita's powers because she shut everything down in her aborted escape attempt. He demands she drop her sheilds and her cross and submit to him completely. Which is standard fare: Abusers will require their victims to preform an act of contrition for the "sin" of trying to leave them. It's a pretty key stage in psychological manipulation; your victim has decided that all the holds you've got on them aren't enough to keep them from running, so you have to get another hold on them before they try to run again. Surrender has a kind of indebtedness to's very difficult to admit you were wrong about someone after you abase yourself in front of them. Your pride would rather have you continue to be at risk than deal with being ashamed...and that's not intended as a condemnation of pride, just a descrption of mental function. Pride is not evil. Shame is painful. Even if you are not at fault for the circumstances you are in, you will still feel responsible and ashamed for being there. Feeling shame is not an admission of guilt. It's something hard wired into our psyche and we don't get a choice about whether or not we feel it. An abuser knows this and will deliberately manipulate their victim into circumstances that are shameful so that the victim has to choose between their freedom and debilitating psychological agony. If the victim tries to run, that just means the abuser hasn't found something shameful enough, and they need to step up their game.  The next time the act of contrition will be bigger, the fallout more painful, and escape will become that much harder.

In other words, blog-readers: The shame isn't yours. There's no reason to feel it. You'll still feel it, but it is alright to let it blow through you without owning it. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.

I admitted to myself in that one moment why I’d stopped wearing a cross most of the time. Oh, I kept one in my vampire-hunting bag, but I didn’t wear one much. To bed, but, oh, hell. I kept waiting for the cross to glow when I did something. I kept waiting for the cross to glow because of some vampiric ability that I’d inherited from Jean-Claude. I kept waiting for it to glow against me.
Abusers also use religion as a way to manipulate their victims. "You're so bad, God will never love you" is a pretty common theme, usually followed by "Unless you do every little thing I tell you." That's another reason to continually force victims into activities the victim finds shameful: Going back means admitting you did those things for nothing. That is a very difficult hurdle to overcome, and it is one that abusers deliberately invoke over and over again. Having to face your peers and/or your religious beliefs after abandoning them is an extraordinarly painful experiance. Having to say "I'm sorry" to your friends and family. Having to repair broken credit, or return to your religion after doing things you know were abhorrant to it. One of those "acts of contrition" I mentioned earlier, that Abusers will frequently make victims preform is further rejection of their old families and support systems, another step of alienation that makes it that much more unlikely for the old support system to reach out to the victim, or for the victim to reach out to the support system. Their goal is to make you feel so bad about yourself, you feel that you aren't worth helping. And they will continually push you further and further into that belief system.

This is one reason, dear readers, why it is VERY important that you never judge someone in an abuse situation. People in abusive systems frequently become abusive themselves, (See Anita) precisely because nothing alienates a healthy individual from a sick one as fast as abusive behavior. This means the victim may be just as dangerous as the abuser. You may have to take steps to protect yourself from the individual, but if you care for that person, it's very important that you not allow their behavior to alienate you too far. Don't get involved in their life (it's dangerous for you AND for them) but make sure they know that when they're ready to run, you'll be there. And take the time to study the literature on their situation so that you can take the steps necessary to protect yourself and them when they finally make a break for it.

Basically, keep your distance, keep yourself safe, but let them know you're still there. You could save their lives.

Everybody else clears out of the room and Asher and Jean Claude drown Anita in a memory-flood that seems to be every sexual experience they've had together, ever. Anita freaks out a little bit because she's overwhelmed, Richard gets some of it, a couple other people get knocked on their ass because of it, and Jean Claude makes absolutely sure that Anita knows it is all her fault:

“I would have preferred other memories to share, ma petite, but when you breached your unnatural shields, I did not dare restrict your access to me. I did not dare shut the marks down again.”
Nathanial then disappears, and it turns out he went to go spoon-feed Damian his energy until Anita was "ready" to support them both again, and Jean Claude tells her that if she doesn't get back with the program, they'll both die. End of chapter.

This chapter was very difficult for me to do without breaking something. This scenario isn't a hypothetical to me. I've seen it happen to people I love over and over and over and over again. I've had to give the "Distance yourself, but let them know you'll be there when they're ready" speech to a couple other friends of mine within the last four months. I had a relative I love marry a verbally abusive alcoholic who spent years playing this exact cycle out, over and over and over again, until he got tired of it. Each time she ran, he started this intensive campaign of alternating threats and affection until he convinced her she'd be safer with him than running from him. It wasn't over until he decided he was ready to move on. And the next woman he moved on to? Yeah. He beat her.

When a woman winds up in a cycle like this, it is not her fault. It is not her fault she's in it, it's not her fault she stays. I've seen it often enough to say that it's not her choice she stays, because the punishment cycle is so brutally manipulative, unless you make a clean break you don't get enough time to choose what you do next. You're not weak because you went back. You were manipulated and abused and assaulted. No human being is perfect. All of us will eventually collapse if enough pressure is applied. People in abusive systems are often convinced they are still safer in the system than they would be trying to escape...and they are frequently right.

Abuse cycles are all predictable, unless you're inside them. You think it'll be different because that's what he's telling you, and he's not giving you enough time to think deliberately. He's breaking you down because he knows goddamn well the second you believe in yourself, you're gone. But the one thing you need to realize, hypothetical blog-reader, is that no matter how bad it is now, it will get worse. It will ALWAYS get worse. You CANNOT stay in that relationship. Your best case scenario is that he will lose interest and leave you. The alternative is that it will continue, and continue to escalate, until you're dead. You CANNOT bargain with him. You CANNOT rescue him. You have no responsibility for what is happening to you, which means you have no way of preventing it or changing him. When you are in an abusive relationship, the only thing you can do is leave. Don't talk to him. Don't bargain. Don't reason. RUN.

But also understand: The most dangerous time in your relationship will be after you run, while they are trying to get you back. And they will ALWAYS try to get you back. Don't tell them that you plan to run. Don't give them warning. DO NOT HINT THAT YOU PLAN TO LEAVE. It will get worse. Don't let them know where you're going. Don't go to your mother's house. Don't go somewhere predictable. The absolute best thing you can do is leave the city/county/state, or if possible ,the country, and go somewhere he's never been before. Instruct all your friends not to even talk to him. Cut contact with his friends and the mutual friends. The first thing your abuser will do is try to seduce you into going back. The second thing he will try to do is destroy you. If there is even a chance that your abuser will turn violent, this is when he'll try to kill you. If you're not in immediate danger, take time to plan a clean break. Document what's happening. Find out what the legal steps you need to take are and TAKE those steps. Contact those friends and family he made you drop. Save up as much money as you can. Go get a pre-paid cell phone and hide it (or get a prepaid SIM card that will fit the cell phone model you already have. It'll be easier to hide) so that you can make plans without having so-and-so's name show up in your call logs or phone bills. If you can, get an emergancy-only credit card and hide that with the cell phone. The odds of any of this being completely necessary are very small, but those small odds aren't something you want to fuck around with. The only thing more dangerous than being in an abusive relationship is trying to get out.

I'm sorry for usurping the blog for a domestic violence rant, but this is one subject I can't let fly.  If this series were realistic, it would end either with Anita dead or running for her life with Edward as backup. NOTHING about this is nearly okay. And the subtext of "THIS IS WHAT TRUE LOVE LOOKS LIKE" is irresponsible, sickening, wrong-headed and utterly reprehensible. Every word you write contributes to someone else's thought process. Once again, Laurell K. Hamilton has written something that can contribute to getting someone killed. This is not love. This is not safe, and this is not even a matter of choice. This is a textbook example of life-threatening abuse and if this resembles any relationship you currently have, blog readers? GET. THE FUCK. OUT.

Edited to add: I was very quickly made aware that some of my language puts the responsibility of escape on the victim's shoulders. It's not your responsibility to escape. If you can, and you have the chance, TAKE IT. If you don't, or can't, that doesn't make you complicit in what is happening to you. 

Being disabled makes it a lot harder to get away. I've spent a few minutes researching options for disabled victims of abuse. So far I've just found hotlines. I do not know how effective they are. One thing that, at first glance, looks amazing is Freedom House in NYC . From what I've read so far, they cater to disabled victims of abuse. The sad thing is that they're not nationwide. However, you don't have to be a resident of New York City or even New York State to access some of their services.

If anybody here is aware of resources for disabled victims of domestic violence, PLEASE post in the links so I can add those options to this post. It's not just for this blog. Most of my family is involved in some form of social services, and I'm definitely going to pass as much information as I can to them and to people in my job.

Edit the second: I've managed to locate the resource sheet of disability services for my state.  Most of that is there for allies, but there are services that a disabled person may be able to use. I've also found/cobbled together some advice. It's probably not the best advice, but if you are disabled and in an abusive situation, I hope it'll be a place for you to start.

If you are disabled and an abuse victim and you're reading this, you've got access to a computer. If you cannot run, you can still contact your state and/or government services via e-mail and social media. You can also contact local advocacy groups. Corpus Christi, for example, has The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center, Lighthouse for the Blind, and a few other services I remember but cannot find at the moment. Both of these services have e-mail addresses and social media connections, which means both centers can be contacted covertly. It may be possible to connect with an advocate without your abuser discovering. Make the attempt, though I'd advice you to make it ONLY if you believe you can make contact without being discovered. If your abuser discovers that you are using your internet connection to reach out for help, they WILL shut it down. Make it a habit to clear your browsing history. If possible, create disposable social media accounts and contact any outside people--family, friends, pastors--that you can trust, but ONLY if you believe that they can keep your new contact information secret and ONLY if they can be trusted not to alert your abuser that you've managed to contact people outside of their field of control. Also, if you receive regular visits from a social worker, a counselor, a doctor, or a police officer that you trust who is NOT connected to your abuser, tell them what is going on. ALL of those people HAVE to report what you tell them to the appropriate agencies, even if they do not believe you, and those agencies HAVE to look into what is going on. And most of these people are actively watching for exactly what you are going through, because that is why they have their jobs. The odds are that they absolutely WILL believe what you say. If it's possible for you, I would also recommend documenting everything you can safely document and keeping that record someplace accessible to you, but hidden from your abuser. If that means creating a fake e-mail account and e-mailing yourself a diary, start doing it tonight. If you have access to something like a kindle or an ipad, take pictures of physical abuse and investigate recording the verbal aspects, and again, store any pictures and recordings you can make someplace secure and accessible, like an e-mail account. DON'T post them anywhere public, because that can alert your abuser. DO NOT keep this documentation on the device. If it is at all possible, if and when your abuser is confronted have somebody with you that you can trust. Ideally, it should be an advocate intimately familiar with your disability who can assist the authorities in understanding your circumstances and can defuse any attempt by your abuser to silence you. The single most important thing you can do is refuse to be isolated.

It is not your responsibility to escape this, because you should not be in that position in the first place. But if you do want to get out, there are at least a few resources you can use to make the attempt. You don't have to accept that just because someone else is in a position of power over you, they get to hurt you. You should EVER have to endure abuse. You have every right to try to get away from it. You have the right to live safe, unmolested, unmanipulated and unabused, no matter what. You are not someone's "burden", their abuse is NEVER justified. You are NOT responsible for anything about your circumstances. YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR SITUATION.