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No Chains On Me: Surviving Coercive Control

No Chains On Me: Surviving Coercive Control
By thefayth

In honor of Lynnette McFadzen, former BiNet USA President and my friend, and fellow survivor.


Today I announce myself the survivor, and veteran of intimate partner violence with mathiastck, my former husband. While doing so I’ll also introduce a term, co-abuse, and identify how lack of awareness of co-abuse leads to further abuse. And there’s a story about me and Jeffrey Epstein in there too.

I’ve written these words many times, and published a detailed account of my own attempted murder last year for a smaller circle of readers; but this is the first time I openly accuse my ex-husband, mathiastck, of spousal abuse including: stalking, coercive control, marital rape, financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and physical abuse.

My husband who works at the manager level at Facebook has even used Facebook to look at my personal Facebook profile to glean details about my life without my permission or request. He’s now hired a lawyer to further harm me who has explained that since she’s an expert on abuse, she and Anthoor Law Group are supporting my ex-partners attempts to continue his cycle of abuse. 

Further, upon my recent move to the Bay area, my ex-husband’s manipulation of the child we share has ramped up, with him communicating to our child custodial logistics instead of discussing them with me; or coming to any agreement. This follows the same pattern of abuse I have always experienced with him; either you agree with him and he wins, or you don’t get to play at all. And, did I mention that he shut my cell phone off during a critically important Presidential debate event last month? If you tried to reach me about that HRC/CNN event and couldn’t, that was why.

My ex-husband’s lawyer, Mary Elizabeth Grant, has explained my ex-husband’s actions are legal, even though they caused me professional harm and continue a near decade long cycle of living my life without consent. Laws need to change, policies too; otherwise few will survive the power of these men to leverage coercive control, while at the same time keeping their powerful positionality in society.

From WebMD’s: What Is Coercive Control in a Relationship: https://www.webmd.com/women/features/what-is-coercive-control#1
“Coercive control” is used to instill fear and compliance in a partner, says Evan Stark, PhD, the sociologist and forensic expert who coined the term. This type of mistreatment follows regular patterns of behavior, and, according to him, “in the vast majority of cases” is employed “by men of women” who are involved in abusive romantic relationships.

For years I kept silent about being in The Worst Relationship Ever; ‘cause whatever else can it be when you discover you’re dating someone who stalked you for years, and try to exit the relationship, only to be told: “You Can Never Leave Me”? 

About two weeks into knowing “mathiastck” I was already hoping to exit, and not be further engaged but on a harrowing phone call for several hours, he verbally abused me, saying if I left him I obviously hated men or the thought of being happy or having a chance at a real life. 

Back in 2009 when I was over 450 pounds, this hooked me; it created loops and levels that encircled me. I truly did not know I could leave him; until I did 8 years later. The process of my enslavement happened quickly to be honest, and I write all these things partly because it can happen to anyone; and everyone should know that. 

To insist I was too strong to be taken advantage of, does a disservice to my strength in leaving him, and all those who are able to. 

To insist I was too vocal to remain silent, does harm to me and the many women who are paralyzed when confronted with the bad behavior of men. Ladies Like Us podcasters still recovering from hearing about T.I.’s daughterly hymen checks, I FEEL YOU.

I know it was more likely to happen to me due to intersections of oppression that I experience as a Black bisexual intersex and trans genderqueer woman. 

I know it happened in part because I was first raised to be coercively controlled by conversion therapy oriented, deeply fundamentalist, sexually and physically abusive parents. Still, anyone can have it happen to them, even folks who’ve never experienced abuse until it happens to them.

While it’s happening you’re not thinking you can actually tap President Obama on the shoulder and ask him if he’ll help you out of an abusive relationship, but each of the more than 50 times I entered his White House after my abuse began; I fantasized about asking for help. 

While it’s happening, you’ll isolate and no one will hear from you, because what you’re experiencing makes you want to die and the idea that anyone can save you, seems quite remote. I urge those my own True Friends and chosen family to keep reaching out to help me on my very long process of unwrapping and tenderly assessing my own abuse, and ability to survive.

Friend: Hey! What have you been up to?!Me: Domestic violence.Friend: (supportive hug)

While it’s happening, you won’t know what’s going on, but later if you have treatment with violence specialists, therapy with professionals, and support from an entire community of survivors, you’ll better know: women are never at fault for our own experience of violence at the hands of our husbands. 

Men shouldn’t beat women, but in my ex-husband’s family he’s both known for his temper and his quickness to physical anger with multiple female members of his immediate family telling me he’d hit them too; but they got over it. They might wonder why I didn’t and ask if it’s my inability to forget that makes me hold on to these events. Instead, it’s the knowledge that a man who hurts women also hurt me, that drives me to speak. I urge him to therapy and support for anger management as I have sought support and therapy for my own likelihood to respond to captivity with acceptance instead of flight. Tomorrow I hope to file papers with the court urging same.

During my relationship with mathiastck (2010 - 2018), every month around my period I would realize how deeply unhappy I was to have a partner who abused me while in such great pain due to being born with “abnormal”/”incomplete” sex organs. I would become suicidal and in return my ex-husband would tell me he thought I should take my own life because I was worthless; before I got the knife in he’d take it from me and accuse me of being a threat. This, after he incited me to suicide with regularity; knowing exactly what to say and do to drive me there.

Alternatively, he’d tell me he’d never be able to live without me if I left him, saying I was his only chance; I was it and I needed to accept that. I’d say, “I’m leaving” and he’d say, “you’ll be in the streets” and “I’ll make sure x, x, and x know not to support you” naming this friend or that. In efforts to make it easier for me to eventually leave him, I left all those friends and made new ones who I never introduced to him. For a couple of years at the end, I lived dual lives where I made bolt holes across the country in preparation for my flight, or my death. I figured one, or the other, around some near corner. 

My ex-husband could sense the beginning of an ending and finally agreed to marriage therapy but warned me of consequences to my disclosure of abuse during the session. He said it would be better if I didn’t say I had been physically assaulted because then he’d have to explain I made him do it, that it was always my fault, and because I was a threat, he was forced to always physically neutralize me. 

I agreed to those terms inside of marriage counseling but in my own personal counseling with a therapist in the Bay area, I spoke the truth finally and got mathiastck to admit during sessions that he’d been physically and emotionally violent. In marriage counseling, he requested “time to learn”, citing that what we had was something to build on. I declined the offer. In sessions with the marriage therapist, she was able to highlight the abusive patterns of gaslight that my ex-husband had leveraged to avoid accountability on his physical abuse. While he couldn’t remember many of his own attacks, I could.

I did not deserve to be punched in the head when he wrapped his fist up and brought it down like a hammer on my head.

I did not deserve to be required to provide him sex, either oral or vaginal, every two weeks minimum. The only way I made it through as my tears soaked them sheets? Copious amounts of girl on girl porn on the TV in front of the bed, from every conceivable angle, especially POV. This also turned him on, so he allowed it. 

He would routinely say things like that in public, “I’ll allow it!” and people would grin at me, wondering what kind of character I’d married, instead of understanding he would literally allow me to do something, or he wouldn’t.

I did not deserve to have him physically squeeze my arms to the point I think he left a permanent thumbprint on my right arm; leaving me in sweatshirts even in the summer to hide his marks.

I did not deserve to keep having sex when it hurt; nor was it okay for him to try and convince me I enjoyed him holding his hand over my mouth so he didn’t have to hear me scream by telling me: “tell me you like that, it turns me on.” 

In public my ex-husband would play doting, obedient and follower to my leader. As soon as we step foot around a corner away from other humans; I’d begin to hear non-stop criticism and abuse. In public, my ex-husband smiled and waved for the cameras, as the proud husband of a bisexual woman that he beat at home. In public whenever I’d push back on his threats and abuse, strangers would come to his defense and explain I should know better than to argue like that in front of our child. Once while being abused in a new apartment, a guy even asked if we could keep it down. 

From Cosmopolitan.com’s: 10 ways to spot coercive controlUnreasonable demands. Degradation AKA malicious name–calling, or bullying behaviour. Restricting daily activities. Threats or intimidation.Financial control. Monitoring of time. Taking your phone away. Restricted mobility (partner's behaviour isolates you).Deprivation of food. Destruction of possessions. 

In public, my ex-husband has now gone onto re-marry and work towards adopting his new partner’s child while cutting me off financially and fraudulently reporting his income at $210k for child support and alimony, when he actually made $491k in 2018. 

When he met me in 2010, he was homeless and living with his mom and making $95k after having been through 3 software positions in a year. I re-did his resume and did his job hunting for him for each of his positions between 2010 and 2017; to the point that he loved to joke to people; “all I have to do is show up for the interview.”

These days he works at Facebook on the Portal team and lives in a lovely house with his lovely new partner and their lovely adorable kiddo and their lovely dogs. His lovely partner told me upon her first or second time meeting me, “Don’t worry about me, he knows I can take him.” I salute her ability to keep her own self safe, and her child, while also recognizing that since she’s white, she’s also less likely to be abused by my white ex-husband.

I am Black woman who was married to a white man who beat her; I know I am not alone. How often are the white male partners of women of color found to be our murderer or our abuser? I got lucky.

In October 2017, during moving apartments, my ex-husband physically attacked me to the point I lost use of my left arm, and never fully regained it. He choked me until I lost consciousness and actually broke his pinky finger choking my throat as he told me repeatedly, “if you stop talking I will stop choking you”. All I had to do was stop speaking back and stop saying “no”.
I declined. My ex only stopped because our son, who was 5 years old at the time, got on top of his back to stop his father from killing his mother.

I vowed he would never again physically attack me. I publish this in the hope that stays true, or if I am found dead; that all might know who I’d suggest you look to first. 

I have gone to extraordinary lengths to limit how much my ex-husband will be able to harm others through me as he has successfully done before. 

I call this co-abuse, when someone who is being abused by someone who’s an abuser, witnesses or participates in abuse they: 
a) feel they can do nothing about 
b) do nothing about and 
c) are experiencing abuse themselves further limiting their capacity to prevent it. 

In the past, my ex-husband has threatened to leak sensitive details about celebrity friends and chosen family of mine, even after he worked hard to minimize and eliminate my relationships with them. 

In particular, my friendship and support for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York was something I hoped to protect, as well as my own awareness of the House of York as a family I see as fellow survivors of co-abuse. In their case, at the hands of their former friend, Jeffrey Epstein. Let me tell you a story about that, for I have concerns that my ex-husband might say something about my relationships deeply lacking truth.

I worked for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York in Trump Tower between 2007 and 2008 and while there witnessed what I felt to be coercive control by Jeffrey Epstein against staff members like myself in his attempts to speak, control, cajole or further advance himself through a ruthless manner that felt like bullying to me; but as too many will tell you, the rich and powerful can’t be bullied, they can only be bothered. 

Bullied though, is what I felt like one day, when this man called the office while most of the staff was out at lunch. I picked up a line sitting at my desk eating a cheaper lunch than my peers, “Hello, office of Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, how may I be of assistance?” 

A breathless white male voice answered quickly back, “Oh hello, it’s Jeffrey for Sarah!” as if those words enough would elicit a quick transfer. 

By 2007, I’d interned on the Al Gore campaign, organized Black SGLBTQIA advocacy with folks who went on to help co-found Black Lives Matter, and launched a sci-fi con for tsunami relief featuring Battlestar Galactica creator Ron D. Moore and Star Trek’s original series actor, Walter Koenig (Chekov). I felt I knew this trick: getting someone on the line who’s new to name drop, as if familiarity doesn't breed contempt, but good contacts. 

I joyously answered back, “Ah, Jeffrey! Last name please?” to provide him some sense, that even if you think, you’re on a first name basis with my boss’s boss, I’m still looking for additional information. “Epstein.” He answered flatly, instantly sensing he’d called the wrong desk looking for any easy in. 

“And, may I take a message for you? Mr. Epstein?”, I continued smoothly without any indication of Duchess availability (as I had been trained). “I asked for Sarah, is she there or is she at the Lodge, or perhaps they’ve...” Before this man could pop out with St. Barts, Mustique or some other location I wouldn’t be sharing, I replied, “Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to share the location of the Duchess, including current or previous whereabouts but I can take a message!” I said brightly. 

So I took down a message from Jeffrey Epstein and hung up to get back to my Seamless delivered lunch (which Duchess paid for as courtesy for her staff, not sure if they did that after noticing my lack of eating again or not; but what a great employer she was). Within 90 seconds of hanging up, just as I had positioned food onto the fork and aimed it rightly, the phone rang again. At a different desk than the one I’d answered, meaning a different extension had been dialed. 

“Fucking Jeffrey”, I muttered, already feeling I KNEW this guy from how he had spoken the Duchess’ first name with a breathless, flirtation deeply lacking respect for her role as a global leader for moms, not to mention being mother to two grand-daughters of the Queen of England. I pushed my food back, got up from my desk and went over to the other desk, but as I answered I did this thing I can do as intersex person, where the voice I’d used prior that coded sweetly female, I dropped. Instead, I answered in my actual voice which is a bass kinda thing that rumbles. 

“Hullo, hullo!”, I quickly said, adding in a slight accent that I hoped might come across somewhere closer to Cockney than hackney. As if 120 seconds hadn’t just passed, I heard that same white guy nasal say, “Oh hello, it’s Jeffrey for Sarah!” 

Same voice. Same inflection and tone. Same exact cadence. As if Jeffrey Epstein thought he’d get someone else at this extension, getting by with some babytricks. 

“Oh, Jeffrey!” I said switching back to the female coded voice he’d spoke to earlier, “it’s me again, absolutely gotten your message down and will pass it on as soon as possible.” Epstein flatly replied, “Just make sure she knows I called,” every hint of friendship now missing from his voice. 

White men with power use it as they will, and as we allow them to. I tell this story as just a small token of evidence of abuse I feel I personally witnessed towards the Duke of York, Duchess of York, their family and their friends by someone, who like my ex-husband, glommed onto them one day like a bad tick they couldn’t remove, and burrowed way into their life all the while causing a secret harm difficult to expose. 

When co-abuse is involved, how do we balance accountability? Should the Duke of York be continually bullied because he, or his family, like others in their same sphere of influence, were taken advantage of by a super predator long skilled at obtaining the right line? When you’re a survivor of co-abuse, sometimes it can feel like there’s no right answer because if you come forward about your own abuse; it reinforces you were spending time with an abuser. I say this knowing I feel badly about ignoring my ex-husband’s first wife’s claims of abuse; if I’d believed her, I might not be here today asking for anyone to believe me. 

The Duke of York has stated at no time did he engage in the abuse of a minor; yet a woman who was enslaved to Jeffrey Epstein feels different. Having witnessed multiple events of harm targeting the Duke and Duchess of York by Jeffrey Epstein, I’ll take the moment to claim no requiem for this monster and pledge my personal support for the House of York.

People have asked me if I believe Epstein took his own life, or if he was murdered. I feel confident that he completed a self-motivated death on August 10th, 2019. Why? On August 9th, 2019, it was widely reported that Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York would join Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, at Balmoral Castle to spend time with the Queen and British Royal Family. 

READ IT IN THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE:“Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York spend a week with the Queen at Balmoral as rumours mount the divorced couple are rekindling their romance”: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7343169/Prince-Andrew-Duchess-York-spend-week-Balmoral-rumours-mount-romance.html

In my opinion, the Duchess of York had been having altogether a wonderful summer, after being pleasantly surprised with cheers at the wedding of her beloved younger daughter, Princess Eugenie. Along with her cheerful turn at the nuptials, she’d gained additional applause with a deep curtsy for a most beloved queen at the Royal Ascot. She was also seen with the Duke at the preview for the Trooping of the Colours, and at Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding; signaling continued good relations between two people most famously unmarried. 

Personally, I believe Epstein took his own life, rather than be confronted by his all of his abusers, including a united House of York. What levels wouldn’t “Jeffrey” have gone to maintain control with his own hand? To produce a narrative, he could use to bully former friends he might have once used in defense against allegation? What levels will an abuser go to, to win?

In the past, my ex-husband has threatened to use the threat of police against me; a unique hardship for me due to my frequent vocal protest against police and police brutality. In 2013, BiNet USA, the non-profit bisexual advocacy group I was president of and recently returned to, became the first national non-profit to recognize the existence of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. 

While on my travels trying to stay safe, I had found sustenance with organizers in network; many with similar stories of trauma as myself. Subsequently as things were gathering together here and there, I may have told this person and that person to hold this or that meeting and may have messed around to ultimately co-found multiple BLM chapters, organizing tools, even ending up in a Black Lives Matter syllabus with one of my most favorite works, “No Apologies For Queer White Tears”.

Now, my ex-husband refuses to do custodial changes unless they take place at a police station for his protection. I know at any moment he might be able to say the right thing to get the police to take my life; so if that happens, you read that fear of mine first here; and I ask that you march on them, and him, yearly on the anniversary of my death. In the past, my ex-husband once told me he was confident that the police would always believe him over me; “just look at us,” he’d say, gesturing to his whiteness. 

Read “10 ways to spot coercive control” by Cosmopolitan.com:https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/reports/news/a31487/what-is-coercive-control/

Each time I argued with him, I was arguing about the same thing: my right to leave the relationship. So I also openly accuse mathiastck of enslavement, purely for his benefit. Once he realized the brainpower I had to provide, he manipulated me away from other friends and chosen family I’d freely shared it with; to replace them ALL with him. The one area I was able to retain autonomy over my life: bisexual advocacy and Black community advocacy. Since my ex-husband was neither bisexual, nor Black, he got sick of being asked to leave spaces by people other than me. 

Instead he’d task me with things like doing his first divorce paperwork, picking up his child from his first marriage from school every day, finding him new work, assessing his credit or any number of items every day. Once I completed these items, I was free to complete other work that was important to me. Somehow in the first year of the relationship, he was able to coerce me into putting his needs first, central and winning over mine. By the second year I was no longer working, by the third I was a new mom. Within the first year of knowing him, he’d also switched my phone service to his own; making it hard for me to feel like I could ask for help or find it without him knowing. 

In every instance I felt unable to exit and leave. Instead I would talk to him for hours every night, hoping he wouldn’t force me to have painful sex. I learned a whole host of card and mobile games I used for that exact purpose. I got trapped, and it embarrassed me to know the weakness of not being free in my own skin. 

I gave up for a time. Figured I’d work on other stuff and get back to breaking my own chains later. I also decided that if in captivity, I’d at least get something for me and began working towards having my own child with my abuser. I reasoned that this way, I’d be happy to look after our mutual child, and not be as bothered with being forced to take care of his other child who wasn’t mine.

Once our child was born, his control became nearly unbearable as this white man attempted to tell me how to take care of our son, even though I was a Black woman trained in infant caregiving with hundreds of littles as relatives. He had always thought he knew better and began to reinforce it with our child, telling our son he wasn’t really Black and any number of brainwashing topics to force his child to further identify with his dad, coercive control, white supremacy and abuse.

I started traveling all the time, but each time I did, I had a team in place to care for the kids and make sure my ex-husband was fed, cared, watered and taken care of. If I agreed to have sex with him before every trip, my ex-husband was willing to let me go. I submitted to that new rule for every trip unless packing took all night and then, whoops (internal HELL YES)!

As my profile increased my ex-husband’s attempts to leverage did too. While at an event with bisexual advocates he noticed me getting along with a lovely bi trans woman and tried to coerce me into a threesome with her after the event. She was totally down but I couldn’t let her see me cry in bed like that, so I declined. In moments like that at San Diego Comic Con, I began to understand: I was being domestically abused.

If you’re deeply neurodiverse like me, and/or intellectually disabled, and/or emotionally disabled, you can miss people taking advantage of you. Let me tell you a story about that. 

During most of junior high I was given the chance by a group of bullies to earn a quarter during lunch. Since I had no food and impoverished Republican parents who refused to allow me access to free lunch, I usually skipped eating between 8am and 3pm during elementary and junior high. In high school I worked at McDonald’s and broke my fast after school, sometimes trading rides for fries; other times depending on good people with Mustangs who wanted to help. So back in junior high when someone offered me a quarter, if I did this one thing? I did the one thing! Sometimes jumping for the chance, literally; I’d bounce on my toes in excitement and everything. That quarter bought a single ice cream which had just enough caloric content to mimic a small deeply non-nutritious meal, and I grew up HUNGRY.

So, I did the one thing for a quarter many times, until a True Friend pulled me aside, sighed and wiped my nose. She showed me that the quarter had been covered in graphite by rubbing a pencil around the quarter. I immediately grinned, “Now, I finally know where that line on my nose has been coming from!” I exclaimed triumphantly. I thought for a moment and then showed my True Friend how in the future I could take their money and wipe the quarter first too. 

My True Friend, a South Asian woman who still happens to be one of my most gorgeous friends on the planet, sighed again at me, and said, “No, please. No. How about I give you a quarter, okay? It’s fine, I got you.” She had me. She helped me. Remember how easy it was to go along with harm for that quarter, that dollar, or for that next hour; may it protect you from taking further paths to your own self-violation.

For some time during my relationship and marriage, I leveraged my pain, my silence and my own abuse to do some amazing things like personally organizing and paying for three different bisexual briefings at the Obama White House. I did that while white bisexuals pretended to organize and took advantage of my silence due to my own abuse. I learned anew that your own hurt can keeping hurting you and hurting you.

By 2018, using our joint income, I had reached the level of donating over $130,000 dollars to bisexual advocacy, Black advocacy, and anyone hoping to make change. I paid people’s rent; multiple people’s rent in fact, who were Black and trans, Black and bi and Black and queer. Between 2014 and 2017, I estimate donating a similar amount, if not more. I have receipts for the payment of hotel blocks, hotel rooms, flights, train tickets, computers, conference fees, tables, marches, protests, and emergency relief for hundreds, if not thousands of advocates. All during this time I hoped it would balance out; that this pain would be worth something more than what it was currently worth to me. 

In 2017 I got diagnosed by a mental health professional with a super rare condition, hyperthymesia, or the inability to forget. Super rare like a couple hundred people living with it in the world, and I get a certificate saying I’m superior to “normal”, or humans, if I complete the classification process. It felt a great deal better knowing what was wrong with “all of you”, as I’ve been putting it. Every morning, I’d awake with everything I’ve ever known intact but find other humans experience memory as flexible, fallible and something that near like washes away off their brain in a way that will never happen with mine. 

When I go to sleep the lights go off, and when I wake they return, but prior to 2017, every night, I would also “white-out” my memories by going through the day and applying a layer of white noise, static and blockage over each visual memory to hopefully make it less easy to be assaulted by my own inability to forget. This was a technique my grandfather helped develop with me since he had other family members born with the same memory condition and hoped to make it easier for me to live, and thrive. 

There’s been some criticism of the fourth season of “Sherlock” due to the introduction of a sister for Sherlock previously unknown to him. Far be it from me to be supportive of Sherlock executive producer Stephen Moffat considering my long history of critically analyzing his work for white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and colorism, but Season 4 did a good turn for those neurodiverse of us living with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM). If you live with hyperthymesia, you don’t create memory palaces; you are one. I constantly live with the ability to remember anything while often appreciating prompts to remember the right things. Upon my entry into the classification process as a different kind of human, I decided that if I must live on a sea of memory, I’d better make it a better trip. 

In June of 2017 I was able to confirm with hyperthymesia researchers that morphological differences in my brain meant no limit to my memory acquisition. Things would not explode if I decided to like, “Turn This Thing ON”. So, I turned myself ON, and stopped turning away from the reality of my life.

I stopped self-erasing and began the process of un-erasing millions of memories obtained between 1980 and today. These days, inside my own memories, I can walk around as a two year old and hold my Big Mama’s hand and remember what her beautiful skin felt like. These days I can listen to the tales my beloved grandfather told me or re-meet Rosa Parks again and again. These days I can remember anything and do, but I was only able to enjoy those memories by gaining the safety to experience them. 

After I was attacked and nearly murdered in October 2017 by my ex-husband, it felt like time stopped; and it feels now as I write this, it feels like it’s just beginning. As soon as I could back then, I left the state with my son hoping to find further safety, unfortunately the getaway car I jumped into was a worn down, mentally unwell hoarder who loved my son but wasn’t designed to actually love me. I remain grateful that he stepped in to try and keep my son safe. I chose not to re-create another false fairytale for my child and returned to California hoping to get family support for a divorce fight exposing my own abuse. I didn’t really, with one family member saying what good would come of my statements, and how would our child feel?

I think my child supports me speaking out against abuse, and he knows I will do anything to further protect him from harm and cruelty; including asking the world for ideas, help and support in my quest to have accountability from his father, financially and emotionally. And that’s what I’m after, one step at a time. 

Today I join a new family of women, non-binary people and others who have opened up about abuse at the hands of their male abusive partner. Today I am proud to tell you: I survived. 

Today, I say to myself, remember, remember, the 11th of November; for it was a day you explained that the woman many chose to see as fiercely independent was living shackled in abuse until one day came a chance to break her chains, and with the support of several different communities, she set her own self free. 

It has been a two year process of recovery for myself, my child and my heart; and I am so proud to remain optimistic about my future, and that of the world to turn back the monstrosity that is societal acceptance of intimate partner violence, lack of consent and coercive control.

To the many in multiple communities who have helped get me here, I thank and appreciate you; especially a trio of Sara, Sarah and Sarah’s who for years have encouraged me to light up the world as the star I really am. Bit more ready now, with no chains on me.

If you feel any kind of chain, or element of coercive control in your life, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit thehotline.org to chat with online support now. 

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via GIPHY

But. Living with hyperthymesia is fine, useful even. I hunt those oppression would use with it some days, on others I work on sharing a new sys with the public featuring my library of screenshots, and those like mine for my various cases in a new and innovative way. Partly book, partly website, all me. A lot of white people need to read themselves NOW I think, what they said THEN, ya know?

For the last year and half, I've also been working with a therapist who's diagnosed me with hyperthymesia. Which has led to realization after realization and I'…

Faith Cheltenham Bio

Faith Cheltenham

activist/writer/speaker

There are so many different aspects of Faith Cheltenham’s life and career––writer, community organizer, advocate, activist, lecturer, poet, social media expert, digital strategist––that she is currently working to develop a single unifying “theory of Faith.” (It might be easier if you keep in mind Faith lives with hyperthymesia, or the inability to forget her own memories.) Then you too might be able to “keep thefayth” and learn to live in a future where gender and sexuality quite easily bend and every single Black life matters. 

Faith got her start in LGBT advocacy as a Human Rights Campaign intern on the Gore 2000 campaign, and in 2002, she co-founded UCLA’s BlaQue for LGBT/SGL students of African descent. In 2006, she appeared in the Emmy winning reality series on race in America, “Black. White.” produced by Ice Cube. 

After spending time working in corporate America doing digital strategy for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and co-creating …