Category Archives: Sexual Abuse

At the First Meeting of The Liars’ Club

Trigger Warning
Though not graphic,
this post discusses childhood sexual abuse.

I stood, mortified into silence, in front of my second-grade class. My teacher, a tall thin woman with size 17 feet, held me so hard by the shoulders that later that day, when I got home from school and changed out of my uniform, I would find bruises from where her fingers had gouged me. The rest of the class was sitting at their desks, hands folded on top, listening to Miss Slewinski, but staring at me.

“This little girl here,” said Miss Slewinski, “is a liar. She makes up stories about her Mommy and Daddy…”

“He’s not my dad,” I said. “My real dad isn’t allowed…”

Miss Slewinski cuffed me on the side of the head.

“I called Sascha’s mother yesterday and asked her to come in and talk to me,” she said. “Her mother is a very nice woman. Do you know what she did when I told her all the terrible things Sascha has been saying?”

The entire class obediently shook their heads.

“What did your mother do when she heard about your lies, Sascha?” said Miss Slewinski, digging her fingers even deeper as she shook me. “What? Say it louder. So the whole class can hear you.”

“Cried,” I said.

“Yes. She cried. Sascha’s mother, one of the nicest women I’ve ever met, sat right here in this room and cried like her heart was broken. All because of this girl. This liar. She’s such a liar that I’m naming her the president of The Liars’ Club.”

She let go of my shoulders and stood there, glaring down at me, her arms crossed over her flat chest.

“Sascha’s going to stand here for an hour. Because she’s such a liar. Because she tells such awful stories about her parents. The rest of you aren’t going to do any work: you’re just going to sit there and stare at this terrible liar. But anybody else who wants to join The Liars’ Club can come right on up here and stand beside her.”

Miss Slewinski sat at her desk. I stood perfectly motionless in front of the class while they stared at me. Some of the girls in the class made faces at me whenever the teacher turned around to write something on the board. My hands were in such tight fists that my bones ached. My teeth were clenched so hard that my jaw throbbed. I wanted to die. I wanted them to die. I was so filled with rage that I wanted to get hold of a knife and stab every single one of them to death. Especially Miss Slewinski.

What were the terrible stories and lies I’d told which got me inducted into The Liars’ Club?

That my father did bad things to me. (I was too young to know the word “rape,” so I called it “bad things.”) That he wasn’t allowed to see me anymore because he’d done bad things to me so many times. That the judge had believed me when we were alone in his office and had asked me to show him, by pointing to my body, exactly where my father did bad things to me. That my father wasn’t allowed to even be in the same room with me when I visited his parents — my grandparents — though he’d gone back to live with them after the divorce.

What else had I told my second-grade teacher after she saw my inner thighs and asked me how I got all those terrible bruises?

That my mother’s boyfriend — who wouldn’t become her husband for at least three more years — did the same bad things to me every single night. That my mother knew all about the bad things my father and her boyfriend did to me. That my mother said it was all my fault, that she said I acted like a “cockette,” but I didn’t know what that word meant. That every time my mother caught one of them hurting me, she hurt me even worse than they did.

Miss Slewinski had promised me that she’d never tell anyone what I told her, she’d said she would help me find a new home, she said she’d do whatever it took to protect me.

Then Miss Slewinski called my mother into school and told her all the things I’d said.

“She’s such a storyteller,” said my mother, as she burst into tears. “She’s been a terrible liar since the day she was born.”

So, next day, there I was, in front of my second-grade class, during the inaugural meeting of The Liars’ Club, where I was the only member.

That first meeting lasted just an hour, yet it haunted me the rest of my life. Liar, said the girls in my ear when we were in line for religion class. Liar, said the boys when I passed them on my way to the locker in the hallway to get my coat after school. Liar, they all said when were out on the playground every day after lunch. Liar.

In that first meeting of The Liars’ Club, I learned everything there is to know about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Probably more than Einstein himself ever knew.

And that’s the truth.

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At the First Meeting of The Liars' Club

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© 2014, 2018, 2019 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. All rights reserved.
No content may be copied, excerpted, or distributed without express written consent
of the author and publisher, with copyright credit to the author.
Please don’t support the piracy of Intellectual Property.
Though this chapter was in the early drafts of my true crime memoir,
M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, it is not in the final version of the book.

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Filed under #CSA, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Memoir, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence

Head-Banger’s Ball: Escaping Abuse the Hard Way

Trigger Warning
This post, though not graphic,
discusses childhood sexual abuse.

Life is unbearable,
but death is not so pleasant either.
Russian Proverb

I was dancing when it happened. After almost four years, I’d just had the braces removed from my legs and, in my joy at being free, I was dancing all around the kitchen and the empty dining room, wearing nothing but my panties and a camisole. My father was there, drinking beer, watching me, following me all around the house. I thought he was impressed with my improvised ballet skills. I don’t remember where my mother was, though I do know that it was late at night.

When my father grabbed me and began kissing me, I squirmed and twisted away. I wanted to dance, not kiss. Besides, I didn’t like the way he was kissing me, putting his nasty tongue all over my face and mouth. I fought hard enough to make him lose hold of me. When he tried to grab me again, I ran to the kitchen and got under the table, trying to hide.

Unfortunately, he found me.

My biological father first raped me when I was 3. My mother walked in when it was happening, and had to beat my father over the head to make him stop. Instead of taking me for medical attention, my mother told me I was a “bad girl” and locked me in the closet until I stopped crying. I don’t know how many days I was in that closet, but it seemed longer than any lifetime. I couldn’t understand what I’d done, but I vowed never to forget.

As soon as I earned my freedom from that closet, I  began telling people that my father had done something bad to me. I told family members, neighbors, doctors, nurses — anyone I thought could punish him. Anyone I thought could make him stop hurting me, which he continued to do. No one listened until I was 4 or 5 years old, when a Judge, in his chambers, asked me to show him — by pointing to my body — where my father was hurting me.

I don’t remember what events led up to that encounter in the Judge’s chambers, only that he was kind and patient, that he actually listened to me, and that after I talked to the Judge, my biological father lost all visitation rights. Furthermore, though I visited my father’s parents each weekend and though he now lived with them, he was not even permitted to be in the same room with me. I never saw my father again.

After my mother divorced my father, I thought I would be safe from men’s violence. Unfortunately, by the time I was 5, my mother was already dating a man who was sexually abusing me in every way imaginable, doing more atrocious things than my biological father had done. At the ripe old age of seven, after an entire lifetime of abuse from my mother, my father, and my mother’s boyfriend (who later became my stepfather), I decided that life was unbearable, so I decided to kill myself.

My only problem was that I wasn’t exactly sure how someone did that. During the last violent fight with my father, my mother had slammed him in the head with a cast-iron skillet. I’d seen him lying motionless on the floor, surrounded by a pool of blood. When the police arrived, my mother told them she’d killed her husband because he’d killed me. Though my father actually survived the assault, he was seriously injured. Because I never saw him again, I thought he was, in fact, dead. Since my mother had “killed” my father by bashing him in the head with the cast-iron frying pan, I decided, at the world-weary age of seven, to become a head-banger.

Swing-sets, telephone poles, brick houses. Fence posts, church pews, marble statues. Bang, bang, bang. Walls, bedposts, porch supports. Basement floors, steel pipes, tree trunks. Bang, bang, bang.

I hit my head so hard so many times in a row that mostly I walked around in a daze. Sometimes I hit my head so hard that I fell asleep. Each time that head-banging numbness rushed over me, I was convinced I’d successfully killed myself, and I was so relieved and so grateful that I could never be hurt again that I slipped into that deadened sleep with something like joy.

Each time, however, I woke up.
Disappointed.
With an unbearable headache.
And with dreadful pressure in my skull.

Although many people know that a baby’s skull plates move — to allow it to pass through the birth canal — they don’t realize that the plates of the skull remain mobile throughout life. The brain and the spinal cord, furthermore, are surrounded by their own pulsing, hydraulic system that does not match the rhythm of the heart, breathing, or any other system of the body. Dr. John Upledger discovered this brain-spinal-cord hydraulic system and named it the “craniosacral system.” Upledger went on to develop a medical massage therapy designed to put the craniosacral system back in proper alignment.

When the plates of the skull are not in their proper position, as from any common injury such as bumping the head hard, then headaches and pressure inside the skull (from the non-circulation of craniosacral fluid) may occur. A severe head trauma, or even a minor fall from a slide or swing, can shift or jam the skull plates, preventing the craniosacral fluid from moving as it is designed to do, creating a tremendous build-up of pressure — and pain — inside the skull. The pain and the pressure will only stop when the skull plates are restored to their normal positions, something that may take many sessions with trained craniosacral therapists, especially if the skull plates have been jammed for years after some serious accident.

Of course, in my case, it was many accidents, some of them caused by my repeated head-banging at age 7, some of those accidents caused by my mother from the time I was born, but one of the most serious head injuries caused by my father during an argument with my mother.

My parents were both drunk the day it happened. They were standing in the living room, quite close to each other, screaming and shoving and hitting each other. My father suddenly shouted something that made my mother jump at him, clawing at his face. Then he began choking her. Since what he’d shouted had been about me, I must have felt, even at three years old, morally obligated to separate them. So there I was, shoving myself between their knees, trying to push them apart so they wouldn’t kill each other and leave me all alone to be sent to an orphanage.

In his drunken rage, my father must have perceived me as quite a pest, something you just fling away from you. So that’s what he did. He grabbed me under the arms, lifted me as high as he could, and flung me away. I remember the sudden rush of air as he swept me upward, the terrible, mind-numbing fear, the choking sensation I felt as he released me and I flew, without a net, across the room.

I remember the horrific jolt of pain as I smashed the upper right side of my head against the marble mantel of the fireplace.

I remember, too, the cold blackness that descended on me in an instant.

By the time my migraines got so debilitating that my family doctor recommended I go to craniosacral therapists, I was over forty years old. As soon as they touched my head, the medical therapists informed me that the right frontal skull-plate was “significantly jammed” under the left one. It was wedged under the other one so tightly, they couldn’t fix it in one treatment. Also, since it was a long-standing injury, they informed me, the muscles of my face and head had gotten used to holding the plate in the incorrect position. They agreed with the doctor that, though my tendency toward migraines was probably hereditary * as well, the jammed frontal skull plate wasn’t making the migraines any better.

The therapists warned me that, as they attempted, over several sessions (which turned into several months), to free the wedged cranial plate from under the other one, my migraines might get much worse before they improved. They were absolutely right. I’d been having about seventeen migraines a month when I went to see them. The first month of treatment, I had twenty-seven migraines. It took them five months of three-times-a-week sessions to get the jammed skull plates back into place.

When the skull plates moved back into their proper positions, the intense and unremitting pressure in my head disappeared. The pressure that I’d grown up with and assumed was normal had been caused by the craniosacral fluid’s inability to circulate freely around the skull plates and the spinal column. As soon as the right frontal plate slid free of the left one, the crushing pressure inside my head disappeared. I lay on the massage table and wept in gratitude and relief.

When I told my psychologist about all the times I’d banged my head when I was a little girl, trying to kill myself, she said she doubted that I’d really been attempting to commit suicide. She said that since I was so determined and so successful in other areas of my life, if I’d really been trying to kill myself, I probably would have succeeded. She said that I’d been in so much emotional and psychological pain that I was merely trying to medicate myself. Since I didn’t have any healthy coping skills, I’d banged my head against the hardest things I could find, to “numb” my pain.

I still maintain that I was trying to kill myself in order to escape the incessant torture from my mother and my rapist stepfather, and to atone for my father’s murder, which I believed I’d caused since my parents had been fighting about me when my mother “killed” my father with the cast-iron skillet.

You see, that day, when my mother killed my father by slamming him in the face with the skillet, they were fighting about me. That day, when my father said the words that sent my other into her uncontrollable rage — making her scratch his face, which then made him choke her — he was talking about me. The words he said were what I myself had been saying to my mother, family members, neighbors, and doctors for some time, though I said it like this: He does bad things to me.

That day, my father said it to my mother himself, despite her already knowing what he was doing to me, but he said it in a way that she couldn’t ignore. I didn’t understand what he meant, but I always remembered his exact words.

“Sascha’s a better fuck than you are.”

Bang, bang, bang.

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I Survived a Serial Killer: My Own Mother
(guest post on RachelintheOC)

Kevin’s Mother & The Pedophile:
Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse
(guest post on OTVmagazine)

When is Rape NOT Rape?

Rape is Rape, No Matter the Victim’s Age or Gender



* Familial Hemiplegic Migraines (FHM) are caused by a genetic neurological disorder. I have FHM as well as from Complex Migraines.
(back to post)

Note: a different version of this post was published in March 2017. This version has been updated.

a small portion of this post is adapted from my true crime memoir M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door © 2002, 2007, 2014, 2017 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. All rights reserved. No content may be copied, excerpted, or distributed without express written consent of the author and publisher, with copyright credit to the author. Please don’t support the piracy of Intellectual Property.

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Kevin’s Mother and the Pedophile: Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

Trigger Warning
#CSA

“Oh, my god, I am so angry at Walmart,” said my University colleague — Kevin’s mother — one day. “They had photos of Registered Sex Offenders on their bulletin board in the main entrance.”

“Why are you mad at Walmart?” I said.

“One of the registered sex offenders lives less than two blocks from me,” said Kevin’s mother. “Now I don’t feel safe.”

“I’d think you’d be grateful.”

“Grateful? I know where he lives. I drove by his house last night. He was out in the yard. Some of Kevin’s best friends live next door to the guy.”

“Then you should be really grateful,” I said, “and you should do something to protect Kevin and the other children.”

Kevin’s mother looked confused. I was surprised that she’d never discussed this topic with Kevin, who was eight-years-old. I used to teach my Kindergarten students about Stranger Danger, as we called it then, before I completed my Ph.D. and began teaching at University.

“How far away is the pedophile from the school playground?” I said. “There’s usually a limit to how close a convicted and registered sex offender can go to a school or playground.”

“Just over two miles.”

“I don’t know what the Judge ruled as his limit,” I said, “but you still need to do something about it. Take the photo off the Walmart bulletin board for a few minutes while you go to the copy machine right inside the door [where Walmart let customers make copies for only 1¢ each], make at least 500 copies, show them to Kevin and his friends, show them where the pedophile lives, and tell them never to go near him.”

Kevin’s mother looked doubtful.

“Go to the PTA at the elementary school, tell the parents, teachers, and administrators about the registered sex offender. Then pass out copies of the poster with his photo to all of them. Everyone has a right to know that, and to protect their own children.”

“I can do that,” said Kevin’s mother, apparently thinking that would be easy compared to discussing the situation with Kevin. “Can you talk to Kevin and his friends?”

“No, I can’t. I’m not their parent. You need to do it. If something happens, the children are more likely to tell the person who teaches them to protect themselves in the first place. Don’t you want Kevin to come to you?”

“But how do I do it?” said Kevin’s mother, sounding clearly distressed.

I told her how the teachers of the private Daycare and Kindergarten had done it when I worked there. First, we told the children — as matter of factly as possible — the names of their private body parts, including the names of their genitalia (male and female) and their anuses. Some of their parents had already told them these things; some had not.

We then told them that no one — not even their parents, nurses, doctors, or teachers — was allowed to touch them in their private areas unless they were injured and needed help. Some of the children also knew this, thanks to their parents.

“I can’t touch my own child?” said Kevin’s mother.

“Unless he injures himself on his bike or something, you’d better not be touching an 8-year-old child on his genitals or his anus,” I said. “You don’t give him a bath, do you?”

“No,” said Kevin’s mother. “He doesn’t even like me to see him in his underwear.”

“That sounds normal for a little boy who’s growing up. Parents and step-parents or a parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend can sexually abuse children. Just because someone lives in the same house as the child doesn’t mean s/he can touch the child’s private parts. You need to tell Kevin that.”

sad-eyes-1494027

At the private pre-school / Kindergarten where I taught, we were committed to protecting the children from sexual abuse. After we made sure that the Kindergarteners knew all the names of their private body parts, we explained that older children and grown-ups sometimes did bad things, hurting children in their private parts. We made it clear, without being graphic, that the people hurting the children could use their hands, their own genitalia, or instruments. We told the children that the bad people would hurt the children’s private areas or force them to do something to the pedophile’s genitalia or private areas. (Yes, we used the word pedophile, telling the children it was a person who hurt children in their private areas or made them do something to the pedophile’s privates.)

We informed the children that the pedophiles could be men or women, strangers or people known to them.

We told them some of the tricks that we knew of that were used by pedophiles to lure away children:

  • offering to show the child a puppy or kitten to get the child physically close to them;
  • telling a child that they’d lost their puppy-kitten and requesting the child’s help in locating the pet;
  • asking the child to get into their car or come into their house, to play a video-game or do something else the child would like;
  • offering the child money or some other reward, like candy, for helping them find the pet, getting in their car, or going into their house;
  • asking the child to get into their car and help them find some nearby location — like the school — which the child might be familiar with;
  • grabbing the child when s/he came close to the car to answer a question posed by the pedophiles, usually a request for directions or asking if the child had seen a “missing” pet.

child-1479557

Kevin’s mother did a great job.

After she informed the PTA, the school, and the parents, she talked to Kevin and to his friends’ parents, who talked to their children with her since they didn’t know what to say. The children were all instructed to tell their parents, teachers, nurse, or doctor if someone ever attempted to lure them away, succeeded in getting them into a car or house, or — most important of all — ever touched them in the private areas. Kevin’s mother talked to his classmates after the teacher requested it and sent home permission slips which the parents signed.

Then, to her horror, Kevin’s mother realized that the convicted neighborhood pedophile lived across the street from her Condo Association’s “recreational area,” which included a playground, tennis courts, a swimming pool, as well as an indoor playroom which children used during bad weather. Many of the parents worked, so they took turns “watching” the children in these areas. Any parents with children who used these facilities had to take scheduled turns being a guardian. No child could be there without the parents’ knowledge or without at least one adult guardian.

When Kevin’s mother asked Kevin if the man in the photo, whose name and address Kevin now knew, was ever in the recreational areas. Kevin acknowledged that the man was often there, though he had no children, and was not a “guardian.”

Kevin’s mother went directly to the Condo’s Association and insisted on an “Emergency Meeting” where she passed out even more of the flyers featuring the convicted pedophile / registered sex offender’s personal information. The other parents were understandably outraged: some of them went directly to Walmart to get copies of the other local pedophiles to distribute to their fellow parents.

Eventually, they drove that convicted pedophile out of the Condo Complex, although it took some of the parents’ protesting in front of his house with signs containing his rap-sheet to get him out.

Kevin’s mother and the fellow parents did a fantastic job of protecting the children in the elementary school and in the Condo complex.

Every parent or teacher needs to teach children about sexual abuse, and from an early age. After all, we teach our children to protect themselves from fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, poisons, guns, bullying, and now, unfortunately, shootings or other school violence.

We need to protect them from sexual abuse, too.

image courtesy of Londonberry Sentinel UK

image courtesy of Londonberry Sentinel UK

When I taught Kindergarten, we called the sexual abuse prevention program Stranger Danger, but inevitably one of the children would ask, “What if the Bad Stranger lives in the same house with you?”

Now, as far as I know, children are taught Run, Yell, Tell, which I think is an improvement over Stranger Danger, since we always had to teach the children how to react in those situations in any event, which included shouting “This is not my parent,” fighting, kicking, hitting, biting, and running away as soon as possible, and then telling a trusted adult about what had happened.

Parents may be nervous about talking to their children about sexual abuse. They may not realize the importance of teaching the children to Run, Yell, Tell! Other parents may ask you to do it for them. Give them this a copy of this post, or direct them to the Yell And Tell Foundation.

The need to teach children how to protect themselves against sexual abuse is even more important than any of the Stop, Drop, and Roll of fire drills, or any of the other safety drills they regularly practice, if only because the chance of children’s being victims of sexual abuse is just as likely, if not more so, than their being victims of a natural disaster, yet sexual abuse is less frequently and candidly discussed.

Need help discussing sexual abuse prevention
with your children?
Visit the
Yell And Tell Foundation for advice,
including resources for parents and teachers.

Related Posts

When is Rape NOT Rape?

Rape is Rape, No Matter the Victim’s Age or Gender

I Survived a Serial Killer: My Own Mother
(guest post on RachelintheOC)

Head-Bangers’ Ball:
Escaping Abuse the Hard Way

—–

This condensed version of this post originally appeared in
OnTheVergeWithShareenMansfield (now, OTVmagazine) in April 2016.

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Filed under Memoir, Preventing Childhood Sexual Abuse, Rape, Serial Killers, Sexual Abuse, Violence

Damage Control: Cinemax’s OUTCAST 107, “The Damage Done,” Recap & Review

Spoilers

Unknown-3

Every character in Cinemax’s horror series Outcast, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta, has been damaged, by other people if not by demons. In episode 7, “The Damage Done,” many of the characters attempted to limit the damage previously done (whether by them or by others), to make up for past damage, or, at the very least, to prevent any future damage from occurring. They were not always successful. Sometimes, by trying to prevent any more damage, the people in Rome WV caused more damage in their personal lives and relationships. They didn’t need external demons from Hell to make their lives worse: the characters messed up their lives just fine without any demonic help.

Allison

images-5

We already know that Kyle’s ex-wife Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil) is not behaving normally, though Kyle’s sister Megan thinks that Allison’s slightly “off” behavior might be due to some of the medications she’s taking. Megan has already told Kyle that Allison is fragile, perhaps permanently damaged due to what happened on the night that Allison cannot remember. The night she was assaulted, she was told by police and ER doctors that her husband had admitted to attacking her. What she hadn’t knows was why he assaulted her.

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In episode 7, after finding a drawing inside the closet where daughter Amber keeps hiding, Allison has a flashback of her daughter being choked. Amber cries out, “Don’t, Mommy,” in the flashback, and Allison realizes that her ex-husband Kyle has taken the blame for something that she herself did.

She then brought Amber over to Kyle’s home, made love to Kyle, then left them both: Kyle awoke to a note from Allison which read, Take care of our little light. He got his daughter back, but at the price of his wife. After recognizing Kyle’s sacrifice to keep her and their daughter safe, Allison sacrificed her relationship with her daughter to keep her safe. I’m sure it was incredibly bittersweet for Kyle, who has always made it clear that he wants his entire family back, wife and daughter.

Kyle

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Chief Giles (Reg E Cathey, above R) came to Kyle’s home and took Kyle to the burnt camper in the woods. Giles kept asking Kyle if he got a “read”on it. Kyle told him he wasn’t “psychic.” After Kyle explained that he sometimes got a reaction from a person who was possessed by a demon, but had unpredictable success casting out the demons — at times the victim is freed, but at others, the victim becomes catatonic, like Kyle’s mother — Giles and Kyle were shown at the town’s Memorial Service (Day of Remembrance) for 29 miners who died 7 years earlier. While Chief Giles’ friend Ogden, who burnt the camper, was greeting people at the celebration, Giles watched Kyle go up and shake Ogden’s hand, hoping to determine if there was a demon in Ogden (Pete Burris).

Fire Chief Ogden didn’t have the type of reaction that viewers (and Kyle) have come to expect when Kyle touches the demonically possessed. Instead, Ogden became verbally and emotionally abusive to Kyle, telling him that he was one of the miners who should have died 7 years ago, and that Kyle’s death would have been a blessing to his wife. Ogden tried to damage Kyle more his his abuse, but Kyle is already traumatized enough by what’s happened to him. Ogden’s words didn’t seem to affect Kyle. After shaking hands with Ogden, Kyle shook his head at the Chief to let him know there didn’t seem to be a demon in Ogden.

Later, when the crowd got there, Kyle accepted a candle from Ogden’s wife, and she jerked away, dropping the candle, when her hand touched Kyle’s. Demon Warning. Kyle attempted to follow Ogden’s wife, but lost her in the crowd. Kyle then had to abandon the hunt when the Reverend needed Kyle’s assistance at damage control.

That night, Kyle thought he was being reunited with his family only to wake in the morning and find himself alone with his daughter. Kyle probably thinks he’s cursed: not only does he seem to be the person that all the demons want, but he got his daughter back at the price of his wife. Furthermore, there seems to be some indication that his daughter Amber is a bit like Kyle: she admitted being able to see the demon that was in her mother 7 years ago. If she could see the demon, she may be like Kyle.

Megan

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 After Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) was blackmailed by her childhood rapist, Donnie, who was assaulted by her Police Officer husband Mark, Megan got together all the money she could and took it to Donnie in the hospital. Unfortunately, Donnie didn’t want money: he probably wanted Megan. He said he wanted “whatever she could give him,” or something equally ambiguous. Megan interpreted “what she could give him” as money. Donnie (Scott Parker, below), apparently, meant something else entirely (or he meant a lot more money than Megan could gather).

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Donnie’s lawyer filed assault charges, Mark was suspended from his job, and Megan was left to deal with the fall-out of her not telling Mark about Donnie’s blackmail. Megan and Mark had a bitter argument about secrets, each of them accusing the other of not being completely honest. At the end of the fight, Megan asked, “How are we going to fix this?” and Mark told her, quite candidly, “I don’t know if we can.” The damage from the past has been complicated by the damage in the present, and these are two people who don’t have demonic possession to blame for ruining their lives.

Reverend Anderson

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After being attacked by Sidney and mutilated with a knife, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) has become unhinged. The damage to his ego may be even greater than the damage to his body. Before the attack, The Rev was angry at God, blaming God for the Rev’s own failures to cast out all the demons in his congregation. Now The Rev is blaming Sidney (Brent Spiner), taunting him in the barbershop before the Remembrance Day Service.

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After giving his dedication to the Memorial, The Rev flipped out when the statue of the miner was unveiled. It had been defaced with red paint, marked with the pentagram in a circle, the same mark that Sidney carved in The Rev’s chest the previous night. The Rev went totally berserkers, pointing out Sidney to the other members of the crowd, shouting that Sidney was The Devil, saying, “We can send them [demons] back. I can send them back.”

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By the time The Rev displayed his own mutilated chest, he’d already lost the crowd. They were probably more frightened of him than they were of the black-garbed Sidney, who is a stranger in the town. The physical damage done to The Rev wasn’t as great as the reputation damage he did to himself with his neurotic, paranoid rant at the Memorial.

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Kyle had to come “save” The Rev from alienating people any further. While The Rev realized afterward that everyone probably thought he was crazy, he listened to Kyle when Kyle said they needed to “be smart” to get the demons — and perhaps the Devil himself — out of Rome.

Mildred

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I thought, when she was taken away from her home, that Mildred (Grace Zabriskie) was catatonic, like Kyle’s mother and the exorcised Sherry in Charleston. To my dismay, I learned that Mildred is dead. What a shame. I hope we’re going to see more of the demon-possessed Mildred, at least, if only in flashbacks. She’s one of the best actors in the series, and I’d hate if we only got that little bit of her wonderful performance.

Kyle has become a Saviour, of sorts, to many of the people in Rome, and not just because they’re demonically possessed and need his exorcism services. He had to save The Rev from his own crazy diatribe and rescue him from the townies before they became a mob and turned on him. Kyle already had to save his daughter once from her mother Allison: now Allison has explicitly asked him to be Amber’s Saviour again. Allison didn’t ask Kyle to save her, but he may still have to do that. I can’t believe that he’d cast out the demons of Rome’s other citizens but neglect the demon in Allison. Chief Giles asked Kyle to help him identify a demon in his friend, Ogden. Whether or not the Chief will care about the demons in townspeople who are not his friends remains to be seen. In any event, the Chief has already made the first step to becoming more involved in the exorcisms by asking Kyle for help.

The only people who haven’t yet asked Kyle to be their Saviour are his sister Megan and his brother-in-law Officer Mark. But then, these two aren’t dealing with demons from Hell. They’re not even dealing with the Devil. Instead, their fighting their own inner demons.

And losing.

I don’t know if Kyle will be able to help them in that battle.

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Farewell & Adieu to you, Scottish Laddie: OUTLANDER s2 e2-4, Review & Recap

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish Ladies,
Farewell and adieu, you Ladies of Spain

Traditional British Naval Song

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With the publication of the notorious Entertainment Weekly cover featuring Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who play Starz’s Outlander‘s time-travelling Claire and her Scots husband Jamie, I foolishly imagined that the second season was going to be an in-depth exploration of their loving and sexually ignited relationship. You know, the thing all the book readers claim is at the core of the books, though it’s mostly absent from the show (except for a few episodes, like the Wedding one) and absent from Book One in the series. Alas, season 2 has proven a disappointment in that regard, leaving me once again to wonder where the show is going, and how many of the Starz Outlander writers have actually read the best-selling books by Diana Gabaldon that the fans so vociferously love.

Spoilers,
Outlandish and Graphic

Episode 2

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In a brothel with whores and dildos, Jamie (Sam Heughan) meets a clownish Bonnie Prince Charlie, who doesn’t seem able to drink wine without spilling it, let alone lead a Scottish rebellion. But what do I know about Scottish history? Maybe Charlie isn’t the one who actually leads the rebellion: perhaps the French Jacobites do, in their desire to destroy the British Empire.

In any event, while Jamie is playing Bond, James Bond in the brothel, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is making friends with Louise, who has a caged pet monkey, and who reveals the latest de rigeur French “beauty treatment”: a Brazilian Honey-Pot.

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Louise also takes Jamie and Claire to Versailles, where Claire wears a dress of her own making, or at least of her own design. A dress that leaves little to the imagination. And one that stands out oddly at the French court, where everyone else is wearing florals and lace.

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There, Jamie gets to stand in the all-male audience that watches King Louis 15th attempt to defecate into a royal throne-chamber-pot, while giving advice to eat “porridge.” Very exciting stuff for our Scottish Lord Jamie.

Meanwhile, Claire runs into the dastardly Duke of Sandringham and meets his secretary, Alex Randall, younger brother of the villainous Black Jack (Tobias Menzies). The Duke’s secretary reveals that BJR is not dead, and then Claire worries — needlessly, as it will be revealed later — about Jamie’s discovering that his nemesis and rapist is still alive.

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The bulk of the episode centered around Jamie’s inability to perform sexually with his wife, due to flashbacks of his rape at the hands of BJR. Whenever Jamie attempted to be with Claire sexually, her face grotesquely morphed into that of his rapist. Whom Jamie then repeatedly “stabbed”.

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 Poor Jamie. Bad enough that he got repeatedly raped in Wentworth Prison, and then had his wife go all General Patton on him while attempting to “save his soul.” Now he has to re-live his experiences whenever he wants to make love to his wife.

Starz’s Outlander may be different from the book in that the Starz writers had more accurate information available to them, information about male sexual assault and the male body’s involulntary ejaculation to pressure on the prostate. Alas, Starz has once again failed male rape victims who might be viewers — and their female partners — by presenting the assault as “love-making”, even if Jamie is mistakenly viewing it that way.

Episode 3

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Though she and her husband Jamie are in Paris attempting to abort the Scottish rebellion at Culloden which will result in the destruction of the Highland Clan way of life, Claire doesn’t seem to have “any meaning” in her life. She feels bored and useless as Jamie runs from brothel to chess games to…

Does the man ever go to work at the job — in his cousin’s wine business — which supposedly supports this lavish lifestyle?

In any event, despite Jamie’s protests about Claire’s never being home when he needs her, she goes to work in a poor hospital, helping a nun with a dog do some really gag-me-with-a-spoon-gross-me-out stuff. Claire’s tasting the urine of a patient to determine whether he had sugar disease (diabetes) wasn’t the most repulsive scene of the episode, but it was close.

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Later, after some cutesey jokes about what a “minor composer” Johann Sebastien Bach was going to be, the Mother Superior plays a piece of music in a letter which Jamie’s pickpocket has lifted.

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Then Jamie and cousin Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) and Claire figure out that the “key is the key” to the code in the message. It was a silly scene, dragged out beyond belief, perhaps in an attempt to add humor, since virtually every time Claire said something, Murtagh didn’t understand her.

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The only problem with the music-decoding scene is that most viewers couldn’t figure out what the key was either. Only that it had to do with music. And that Jamie and Claire miraculously figure it out.

Beats me how they did it.

Episode 4

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Alas, episode 4 continues the Bond, James Bond escapades of the married pair. This time, they plan an elaborate dinner for the Duke of Sandringham, whom they believe is the author of the musically-coded note.

At least, I think they think he’s the author.

I got a bit confused.

In any event, Jamie and Claire plan to trap Sandringham by also inviting Bonnie Prince Charlie to the dinner. Then, for some reason, Claire decides, on the day of the elaborate banquet, that she has to go to the hospital. She claims that her servant won’t allow her in her own kitchen.

But if it’s Claire’s kitchen…

Never mind…

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Claire takes English Mary with her to the hospital, though for the life of me, I could not figure out why. I guess she thought English Mary — who is supposedly an ancestor of Frank’s and who is in love with Alex Randall, brother of Black Jack — was also bored or something.

On the way home from the hospital, the carriage breaks down, and in her hurry to get home in time for the banquet, Claire and Mary walk.

Whaaa????

Sure, they’re followed by Murtagh, but anyone could have figured out that it was a bad move.

And sure enough, it turns to tragedy when Claire and Mary are set upon by well-dressed “brigands,” who rape Mary in a graphic and violent scene.

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Does this mean that Mary, who eventually marries Alex Randall, as far as I can determine, will already be pregnant and thus will have a child that will only nominally be the ancestor of Frank Randall?

Not only do I not know, I simply do not care.

Outlander & Sexual Violence

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What is it with Diana Gabaldon and graphic rapes?

What is it with Herself and sexual violence?

In book one, which I read after I had seen all of season 1 of Starz Outlander, none of the sex scenes are even hinted at: all of them are left entirely to the readers’ imagination.

Except for the two rapes.

One is between Jamie and Claire, who continues to have intercourse with her despite her verbal objections, her physical resistance, and her fighting him, simply because she is his wife. (Chapter 23)

The other, far more violent and graphic, takes place between Jamie and Black Jack Randall in Wentworth Prison. It is related to Claire by Jamie after he is rescued.

Now, in season 2 episode 4 of the show Outlander, which may differ from the books, English Mary, who was a virgin, is graphically raped.

It was impossible for me to watch in its entirety, so I admit I missed the part of the episode where the “brigands” attempted to rape a very pregnant Claire, then stopped, apparently exclaiming that she was La Dame Blanche (according to other reviews of the show).

Afterward, however, I didn’t care about the dinner party, especially since poor Mary was lying, in shock and pain, upstairs in Claire and Jamie’s house, with Alex Randall attending her.  Confessing his love to the unconscious Mary.

Who cares if Charlie’s mistress Louise was pregnant with his child but had convinced her husband to accept it as his, claiming he’d been too drunk to recall intercourse with her?

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Who cares if Claire was wearing a duller than dull gown and a rock-necklace to her own banquet,

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to which Sandringham invited the villainous Le Comte de St. Germain?

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Who cares if Jamie and Claire continued their Bond, James Bond machinations by intentionally trying to upset Bonnie Prince Charles by revealing Louise’s pregnancy?

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I disliked the two protagonists so much by that time that I decided it was pointless to watch any more episodes of Starz’s Outlander.

I mean, if you don’t like the show’s two protagonists, and the third one is a despicable rapist, what’s the point of the show?

I don’t see anything like the image presented in the cover of the Entertainment Weekly (above, at start of post).

I don’t see much love and affection between Jamie and Claire. Instead, they’ve reverted, mostly, to the bickering that characterized their relationship in the second part of season one.

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It’s time for me to say Farewell, Scottish Laddie, and Farewell, English Claire.

There are too many other interesting shows for me to watch to wade through multiple episodes of Outlander, trying to follow the serpentine and mostly absent storyline, only to be presented with yet another graphic rape, and with protagonists who are becoming increasingly unsympathetic.

I’m sorry for Cait and Sam, who probably believed these were their break-out roles.

I’m sorry for the book fans who don’t think the Starz show lives up to their expectations.

But mostly, I’m sorry for any writers, book or show, who think that constantly presenting sexual violence and graphic rape scenes, involving both sexes, is good writing or good fiction.

I’m more sorry for those books’ readers, though.

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