I write this letter today to all the Amelias out there suffering in an imposed and self-imposed silence because I’ve heard so much hurt and heartbreak from so many of you within the last 48 hours. (For those readers who don’t know who Amelia is, she’s a moniker for abuse survivors who are registered in a federal identity change program. Because there are no formal guidelines, no material support, no hotlines, helplines or case managers to assist these women and children once they’ve completed their identity change, they’re “out on their own” to face their everyday challenges adrift in fear and isolation, betrayed by those who were entrusted to protect them from further harm.)
The name “Amelia” was chosen by one of the program registrants in symbolism of aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in 1937 while flying across the Pacific Ocean – she simply vanished – like the abuse survivors who sign up for this identity change and relocation policy/program. Unfortunately because of post-9/11 security consequences and the increase in identity theft and information-related crimes many of the Amelias are at-risk of being, if not already, exposed in their new identities with their safety subsequently compromised.
Once exposed in their new identities, these survivors of extreme abuse “don’t have a legal leg to stand on” to account for themselves – if they continue to lie (as is necessary to survive in a new identity) they’re guilty of fraud and deception; if they tell the truth, their stories are so fantastic that they’re not believed. When the Amelias point investigators to the professionals who could vouch for them, those who could clear the whole mess up develop a case of amnesia, leaving the Amelias abandoned and to the fate of man. For those who read my articles, these facts are repetitive but I recount them for the sake of the Amelias who are out there now questioning their sense of reality and trying to understand why it’s unfolded so badly for them.
From an email to colleagues in 2009:
When I started pursuing the HSCADV for failing Amelia, I got resistance from those who were even standing with us. Everyone could see how wrong it was but as one director responded "the tools of the master cannot be used to dismantle the house" - the fear being that if wrongdoing was proved within the DV service provider community, the unintended consequence could be to declare all DV service providers corrupt and simply get rid of all of them. (In reality, too extreme to really happen but the fear is real and considering the economy and the opposition [the Father Supremacists] it's not a totally far-fetched fear.) DV is confusing enough as is for the general public; explaining this far-out and funky identity change response to it (DV) is really pushing the border on conspiracy theory and science fiction.
The other thing is when I was advocating for Amelia within the DV circle, skepticism (or may-be hesitance is the best word to describe it?) is part of what I got back. There was some "Valenda's program? NO way!" or comments like "She's been doing this work for a long time and she's very well-respected". I'm more concerned about that aspect of your and Amelia's case because within the DV community there will be some who will definitely hear what we're saying BUT there will also be others who will be put off thinking we're supporting "a client's say-so" while accusing "one of their (highly respected and regarded) own".
That was written five YEARS ago, Amelias, and I’m so very sorry to say but nothing has changed – absolutely nothing. The best I can offer is that there has been change on other kinda-sorta-related fronts like the military sexual abuse scandal http://protectourdefenders.com/downloads/Recent_Military_Sexual_Assault%20Scandals.pdf and the recent VA medical scandal http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/23/shocker-thedc-uncovers-another-va-medical-center-scandal/.
Although the “Military Sex Abuse Scandals From The Past 10 Weeks” doc is dated, the point is to look at whose guilty of what. http://www.kare11.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/03/20/general-avoids-jail-time-in-army-sex-scandal/6649755/ Justice may not be entirely served BUT the “silver lining” is that those in high places are being increasingly called on the carpet and held accountable for their wrongdoing.
The other silver lining is that some people still do have consciences – the VA medical scandal would’ve never come to light had it not been for whistleblowers working on the inside. Perhaps someone working with the identity change policy/program has a conscience (or may develop one? I like to stay optimistic) so we need to pray for courage for whoever that whistleblower might be. And speaking of prayer…
I found this particularly beautiful one recently when researching Marian Apparitions http://www.medjugorje.org/ for my CCD class. The Blessed Mother appeared to a nun in Akita, Japan in 1973 http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/akita.htm and asked that we pray the following prayer:
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and my soul to be entirely one with Your Heart being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father, pleading for the coming of His Kingdom. Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. Most holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your Special Child. Amen.
This has become my favorite but if you’re not Catholic, do google-search a prayer that you can recite every day to give you the strength you need to stay focused on a truthful, just and righteous heavenly realm, not of this world.
For those of you who have been wounded by being called “crazy”: just because someone’s callously labeled you as “crazy” doesn’t mean that it’s real OR true AND you don’t have to accept that label – reject it! Then bear in mind:
- Someone whose called you crazy is ignorant and has absolutely no credibility to label you that way.
- Mental health professionals who can credibly label you as “crazy” would never do so because it’s name-calling which is abusive and attacking.
- There is no mental health diagnosis of “crazy” and even if you legitimately have a mental health issue like PTSD (which goes without saying if you’re a DV survivor) what kind of a person would criticize you for something beyond your control?
- Someone whose calling you crazy is just trying to shut you down, dismiss you and distance themselves from you because HE or SHE is feeling uncomfortable. If the person calling you crazy is supposed to love and care for you, is calling you crazy being helpful? Compassionate? Caring? Loving? (Short answer: NOPE - he/she's being condescending, careless and callous - and you don't need to be around anyone like that, not now, not ever!)
- Someone who name-calls or feels they have a right to label/(mis)judge you – especially in public – is the one with the real problem, NOT YOU!!!
- Only a petty and mean-spirited person would tear someone else down to make themselves look superior and don’t forget:
- You are a beloved creation and child of God and God’s watching ALL of this. How do you think God feels about someone maliciously hurting one of His children?
- The only thing that’s crazy is the policy/program you were tricked into becoming guinea pigs for (sorry for the guinea pig analogy) and that’s not your fault! You proceeded in good faith and followed the advice/instructions given to you – it’s not your fault that you were given bad advice/instructions intended to protect the advice-givers from harm/prosecution.
And as long as we’re speaking of fault…
- It’s not your fault that you were abused, violated, exploited, oppressed, taken advantage of and taken for granted.
- You did nothing wrong in seeking out help for your situations (police, attorneys, courts, therapists, DV agencies, social services, etc.)
- It’s not your fault that some of the above “didn’t get it” and it’s sooo not your fault if friends, family members, neighbors, employers, etc. didn’t get it either.
- It’s not your fault that some of the above who did get it bailed on or betrayed you.
- It’s NOT your fault that you have to lie; do you still want to live? Then you’re going to have to keep on lying and do it well because if you get caught lying poorly, God’s justice is not here on this earth (yet).
- If you “broke down” and told the God’s honest truth and no one believed/believes you, that’s not your fault. Think about it: how many people do you know would be able to have survived the stuff you survived and then go on to live the “life” you’re now trying to live?
- You didn’t screw up your new identity or the process – it screwed you.
Yes, you’re alone, yes, you are hurting. No, no one really understands what you’re going through (except the other Amelias) and I can’t fathom the isolation and feelings of hopelessness that your situations have forced upon you or the many losses (on so many levels) that you’ve been made to suffer. Please know I’m keeping you in prayer and will continue to speak your truths until someone (other than God) listens.