“The thing is, rapists absolutely need one thing to operate. They need people to believe they are not rapists. Stranger rapists do that by trying to hide that they are the person who committed the rape. Acquaintance rapists do that by picking targets who won’t say anything about what happened, or by using tactics that, if the survivor does speak up, people will decide don’t really count as rape. If you want to do something about rapists, make sure people know they are rapists.”—
I was 13 years old when Marc Lépine opened fire and murdered 14 women for being at engineering school when he wasn’t. He blamed feminism for the situation he was in, and murdered these women for being in non-traditional jobs, for being there.
Every year, the memorials I go to are different. Some are quiet - I remember several winters in the snow, holding candles and reciting names like a talisman against violence.
Geneviève Bergeron, 21 years old. Hélène Colgan, 24 years old. Nathalie Croteau, 24 years old.
When I was younger, they seemed impossibly mature and sophisticated. I used to imagine them laughing and enjoying university, cut down without warning. Now that I’m 35, they seem so young, and I wonder if they were afraid.
For years, she was known to the public as the Bloomingdale Library rape victim.
Then, in 2011, her family asked she be called the Bloomingdale Library rape survivor.
Now, she wants people to just call her Queena.
On the night of April 24, 2008, when Queena went to the Bloomingdale Library to return books, she was raped, beaten and left to die. She was 18, about to graduate high school and getting ready to attend the University of Florida on a full scholarship. Her attacker, Kendrick Morris, now 21, was convicted in May 2011 and is serving a 65-year state prison sentence.
Since then, her family and the community have held fundraisers and 5K races to raise money for her treatment, never revealing her name or showing her face.
On Saturday, the family will launch a new website, JoinQueena.com. The site documents Queena’s life and recovery. It features updates on her progress from her doctors, therapists and her family, photos and a link to donate through PayPal.
The family wanted a way for the public to help Queena, now turning 23, without having to write a check or go to a bank, her mother Vanna, 50, said.
But they wanted a better name for the website than “Bloomingdale Survivor.” Friends offered suggestions like “My Angel” or “Living Angel.” Queena would make a face, with her mouth in the shape of an O, to indicate no, she didn’t like those.
Her sister, Anna, 26, asked her: Did she just want Queena.com? Her face lit up with a smile, Vanna said. They asked her over and over, are you sure you want to use your real name?
She was sure. She wants to be an inspiration, her sister said, not a victim. They decided on JoinQueena.com.
At the request of the family, and because of the nature of the crime, last names are being withheld by the Tampa Bay Times.
The attack left Queena unable to walk, talk, see or eat on her own. She lives at home southeast of Tampa with her mother, who cares for her full time. But she has made some progress, Anna said.
Queena eats pureed foods, can form some syllables and can stand for periods of time with little assistance, Anna said. She has taken a few steps with the help of therapists and is tracking objects with her eyes better.
Her therapies include speech, physical and occupational, aquatic, yoga, neuro-stimulating treatments, acupuncture, massage and music.
Medicaid covers $1,500 per year for speech and physical therapy. But it costs the family about $70,000 a year for all of Queena’s therapies and medical supplies.
Queena has different therapy sessions each week in St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor, Valrico and Sun City Center. Her mother drives her, and the cost for gas adds up.
The family relies on donations to a fund for Queena through the Bank of Tampa and SunTrust. In the first three years after the attack, donations poured in. People still donate, but every year donations are fewer and fewer, Vanna said. She’s concerned about the fund running dry.
She’s worried about bankruptcy. She’s worried they’ll have to cut back therapies, that she won’t be able to take Queena out as much. When they go out, people talk to Queena and she listens to everyone around her. It’s good for her, Vanna says, because it stimulates her brain.
"I get afraid," she said.
In addition to the website launch, Queena will attend a 23rd birthday celebration her family is holding for her at 1 p.m. Saturday at Keel and Curley Winery in Plant City, with a prayer vigil at 2 p.m.
"Every time her birthday rolls around, we are all reminded of how precious life is," Anna said. "To see the community come together every year, it is very heartwarming and gives the family that extra comfort and motivation to keep pushing forward."
On Wednesday, Queena lay in a hospital bed in her blue room at home, where her physical therapist comes for the day’s session. Her therapy dog, Charlie, a little white Shih Tzu adopted from county Animal Services last year, waits for her in another room. Medical supplies share the shelves with stuffed animals and Gators memorabilia. The therapist works with Queena while her home health aide looks on. He works on her leg muscles while she’s lying down. He props small inflatable balls under her legs and has her push against his hands with her foot.
They slowly help her up so her arms are resting on balls on either side of her. The therapist tells her to look straight ahead. When she’s sitting up, he’ll let go of her for seconds at a time to work on sitting up on her own. He’ll ask if she’s doing okay. She makes a noise to tell him she’s all right.
Paula McDonald of Wimauma helped put together the website. She got to know Queena’s family when her daughter, Kendall, was a senior at East Bay High School last year. Kendall and other students at East Bay, which Queena had attended, helped organize a 5K fundraiser, and McDonald offered to help the family any way she could.
McDonald works in design and communications, and in November got in touch with Full Media, an Internet marketing company in Georgia she had worked with before, to get some tips on how to set up Queena’s website. The company ended up offering to create the site for the family.
"They really stepped up to the plate," McDonald said. "They were really interested in Queena’s story and helping with the website."
McDonald admires the family’s sense of strength and forgiveness, she said.
"For me as a parent, it hits close to home," she said. "Parents of teenage daughters, especially, you never hope to find yourself in that situation."
As kids, Queena and Anna were inseparable, Anna said. Their mother worked a lot, and Anna babysat her sister.
"We played together, slept in bunk beds, took the bus together, went to sleepovers together, crossed the street together," she said. "We were opposites, but we rarely fought."
Her sister was “Miss Bossy,” Anna said. “She cracked me up all the time, and still does. She has a cute, klutzy personality and it’s hard not to laugh at her nonsense.”
Like the time, just after getting her driver’s license, Queena drove her sister to the mall for the first time. She pulled into a parking spot, got out, shut the door, then realized the keys were still in the car. And the car was still running.
"She is the best, most supportive and fun sister I could have ever asked for," Anna said.
Anna has lived with Queena and their mother for the past five years to help with Queena’s care. She’s moving soon, to a house about 15 minutes away. Queena has already staked claim on her bedroom for when she visits.
Queena’s journey has put life into perspective, Anna said.
"It’s almost impossible to have a bad day when I think of everything that she has gone through and the resilience that she shows," Anna said. "Life is about family and community and doing the best you can to positively influence those around you."
I wish more people would reblog instead of just liking this post since her family is struggling financially. They’re constantly having to host fundraisers to pay for her medical bills.
Just to remind everyone of how gruesome this case was, in addition to being sexually assaulted, the perpetrator "[Kendrick] Morris beat [Queena] so badly, he broke her nose and fractured her skull. She can no longer see, walk or talk."
“Get out of bed, make a hot drink and go outside. You owe yourself that much. Maybe you still cry in far too many public bathrooms, but I swear, you stay a few seconds less every time. Smile at strangers if it’s all you can do, know that life doesn’t start when the sun rises or the credits roll but when you decide it’s time to go after what you deserve, and you deserve everything because we are alive both only once and a million times every day and every minute is something new to learn and someone new to love, and if it all crashes and burns as it so often does cling on to hope through it all and don’t ever ever ever let it go. Start your life again whenever you need to. Repeat after me: it is not yet the end. It is not yet the end. It is not yet the end.”—A Greater Reality (via indemne)
I really want to be immortal. I deny it but I really want to be half robot one day. I am so ashamed. It seems so wrong to want to continue living, to watch the stars go dim and the universe collapse. I want to explore quasars and black holes. I want to behold with my own eyes the birth of 20 solid gold planets from two neutron stars colliding. Most of all I want to remember everything. I want to hold the infinite knowledge of all history. I feel like a maniac when I think about it.
“Of all the problems with White Feminism, one of its biggest is that, like other forms of whiteness, white feminism just sees itself as ‘feminism’ without realizing that it’s falling into the old pitfall of viewing whiteness as the default standpoint and point of view. It assumes that white feminism speaks for all womanhood and all people, and that it is the paradigm that will eliminate oppression. White Feminism attacks what it perceives to be misogyny against its own definition of femininity and womanhood, not realizing that it often supports colonization, racism, cultural appropriation, and reinforces white supremacy by discounting and dismissing the experiences and perspectives of women of color.”—Why ‘White Feminism’ isn’t effective Feminism (via mscoolcat)
This holiday season take a load off with this little trick I use to refresh my capitalism-bruised soul. You can’t celebrate a month of greed, right after a month of thankfulness, without taking a second to breathe.
When you’re home from shopping, like a beast of burden laden down with token and meaningless objects of your affection for people. Get a small pot and fill it with water. Now, you’re wondering why the hell I would want you to cook right after you got home from growling at every dirty old granny and trying to snap up gifts faster than her, Just follow me here. Sprinkle some holiday spices in the water. Even that spice blend marked pumpkin spice will do. Plunk it in there turn your burner on to simmer around 3 or 4 and let the smells start to sooth you.
Soon the holiday spirit will be entering your body, rejuvenating you for another mad dash through a soul shredder.
“Men’s rights activists don’t organize marches; they don’t build shelters or raise funds for abused men; they don’t organize prostate cancer-awareness events or campaign against prison rape. What they actually do, when they’re not simply carping in comments online, is target and harass women—from feminist writers and professors to activists—in an attempt to silence them.”—
“I love tattooed women, maybe because they are uncontrollable, they are themselves to the point of drawing symbols of their power on their skin. Talk about owning your own body, being in your body, claiming yourself. I love it. When the world is in an uproar over whether women should have a choice or not when it comes to their own bodies, being tattooed is one of the most visible choices of all.”—
I had a man recently tell me he thought that women, naturally being so beautiful, did not need tattoos. Me, with two sleeves full of them. Mine make me feel happy and strong, I said; fierce. Women like me, I suppose, don’t need men who have a set of rules about was makes us beautiful.
As Iâve mentioned before, we get bombarded with requests from filmmakers all over asking us to write something about their on-going fundraising campaign for their current project. But this, however, was different