Friday, 9 November 2018
I cannot shake him. He is obsessed. That's the thing about stalkers. They never stop. You can ignore them. You can report them. You can challenge them. You can plead with them. They will never stop.
Ciaran Goggins was arrested for the rape of a young student in 2004 but not brought to prosecution. He lives mainly in Ireland but is often vagrant. The police don't arrest him because a successful prosecution is hard to pursue with CPS when Irish laws aren't synchronised with the UK regarding online abuse. He was eventually disowned by the Ched Evans campaign though they initially loved his work harassing women like myself. He continued to name the rape complainant throughout both the trial and the re-trial of Ched Evans.
Now. Enough about him. The only power he ever had over me was to reveal my details and strip me of anonymity. He still thinks he has that power. But he doesn't really know my details. And my face is on You Tube videos of my speaking at Women's events. So here is me. I'll make it as brief as possible.
I was born in Sheffield on Lowedges council estate. It was a tough place to grow up. My abuser often called it "the gutter" and threatened to "put you back in the gutter you came from". My parents were older and poor but they were hard working and I never went without food or clothes. My aunt and uncle took care of me a lot. when they couldn't as they drank quite a bit. My uncle instilled in me a need for an education and helped to push me and push me. I read a lot as a kid.
My dad was very political. I learned my politics watching him watch the news. He once threw his shoe at "Pudding Face" as he called Ted Heath and of course he hated Margaret Thatcher with a passion. He was a shop steward. A steelworker. I was very proud of him when he got angry and brought the men out on strike. He did this a lot in the seventies and early eighties. I remember his boss coming round after he died and I was proud that my dad had never ever backed down to him and that man knew it.
Mum worked in a factory too. She wasn't political at all and had really struggled at school. She sort of followed around in Dad's shadow and there wasn't a lot of time left over to keep an eye on me so I just did my own thing really. I was a fighter. I fought boys a lot. On that estate .... you either fought or ran and I am a terrible runner.
But I was a socialist through to my bones. How could I be otherwise? The estate was predominantly white but when I began going to the youth club kids from the other side of the city used to come over. They had better records. Northern Soul was the thing and the black lads who visited had all the good stuff. I didn't understand racism until then. I just saw music. I started seeing a black lad and a neighbour told my dad who hit the roof. Then the local thugs started to come and attack the youth club and demand "give us back our white girls or we will kill you niggers on your way home" and it was terrifying. We had bottles thrown through the bus windows as we travelled together over to estates on the other side of the city where afro-carribean communities predominantly lived. We had gangs chase us through town at night. I was called a "nigger-lover" and I knew racism then. I was the "property" of white boys. I was "stained" because I went out with black boys.
I left home because my dad wouldn't sign my forms to stay on to further education. I signed on the dole and went to college. You could do that then. You could go and learn stuff. I did my A levels and dad died shortly before I finished. In fact he died the night before one of my exams. I passed. I got an A. Because when you grow up fighting, you don't know how to stop.
I stayed behind instead of going to Uni in Manchester so that I could be around my mum. I met and married a miner. We went through the Coal Not Dole protests together. I went off to University after we got married. We split amicably as we were so young and went our separate ways. He was a lovely bloke and we are still friends. I worked and I bought my own house and I was doing ok. I was happy. Independent. I was me. I was a Labour Party member. Not that active. I was a feminist. More gobby than activist. But I knew who I was. I was strong.
And then I met my abuser. He targeted me probably because I was strong. But he sniffed something else in me too. I think it was my upbringing and not being cared for too well. Anyway - most of that I've written about before. 15 years of it. I got gradually smaller. Broken bones, name-calling, control, bullying, etc etc. I'm not going over all that again. But I got lost. I mean really lost. He delighted in changing me completely. I became a sort of puppet. I gave birth to and raised a beautiful daughter so I kept fighting. I kept trying. But I got deeper and deeper into a surreal world. I did whatever I thought would make him happy. I changed to whatever I thought would make him love me. I spouted his politics sometimes to keep the peace. This I am more ashamed of than anything. He loved Thatcher. Some of our worst arguments would start with me standing my ground until I either went quiet or..... I once convinced him to vote Labour and he never let me forget it. He needed revenge for that. I became a dead thing smiling. There were no lights on behind my eyes if anyone looked. No one looked. I didn't recognise me. Every one still thought I was strong and confident. Was I hell. I was barely keeping my head above water. I kept trying to get out. Trying to find ways. I signed up for a Law Masters Degree thinking eventually I might be able to support myself but he made me give it up calling me selfish and saying we couldn't afford it. Shortly afterwards he bought a Porsche for himself.
I kept going. He made me open a rug shop. I knew nothing about rugs or shops! It was ludicrous. I have a career I could have gone back to but he wouldn't let me. Here I met the best woman ever to walk this Earth. My beautiful Helen. I loved her from the start. And she loved me. My abuser ended that eventually. He stopped me from seeing her by poisoning our relationship with lies. I didn't see her for a couple of years in total. I missed her every day. When the rug shop didn't work he made me work within his business where he could keep a close eye on me and control me. He said I was useless at it. But he made me keep doing it anyway. I was totally brainwashed. I stopped being me. And then I did a crazy thing. I thought he would be proud of me and leave me alone if he could see I was doing the things that would please him. I thought it would give me a break from his abuse. I joined the local Tory Party. I am more ashamed of this than anything I have ever done in my life. It makes me cry with shame. In my defence ... I actually did some reasonably good things and I stayed a feminist as best it allowed. (Planet Cath - some of you know her - once said and I quote "you're the only Tory I've ever liked") I quickly worked out they were a bunch of mildly-racist poor-hating losers at best, but I also realised that the City was being sold down the line by a really ineffective Labour Party who poured finances into contracts they didn't understand and I fought them on this. Our PFI contract with AMEY is one of the worst things ever to happen to Sheffield and I campaigned against it. Our contract with Veolia was signed erroneously with the Lib Dems years earlier and I poked and poked and uncovered the millions that had been overpaid. No one cared really but I was proud of it. One of the other things I did was to run Nigel Bonson's campaign for South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. This is when I came up against Shaun Wright. The Shaun Wright who was eventually stripped of his post and expelled from the Labour Party. Way, way too late. I never let that go. I dug and dug and dug. I unearthed the evidence that he was complicit in covering up child abuse in Rotherham and had been doing so since his time as head of Children's Services. I found the evidence of possible corruption around his selection process and his being Vice-Chair of the Police And Crime Panel appointed by one of the subsequently convicted grooming gang's relatives. I confronted him with this at every single public hustings. At the election count his wife cornered me and told me she would "make sure you get what's coming to you now Shaun is elected". Secretly I was told that the pressure I was putting him under had put his marriage on the rocks. I didn't care and continued to campaign against him and eventually Andrew Norfolk's stuff hit the press. At this point I felt I could finally shake the stink of the Tories off me without letting anyone down and I walked away. I kicked out my abuser at the same time. I marched back to me so fast I was dizzy. I almost immediately rang my Helen at this time in 2013 and it was like we had never been apart. We had our own language we two. I will never have a friend like her again. My heart is slightly broken right now. I didn't get enough time with her. She died a few weeks ago.
Eventually along the way I met my beautiful Sidekick. I won't name him. he doesn't need the abuse. He's a gorgeous, intelligent, kind man who is mad as a box of frogs, fit as all the world and totally gets me and all I am. I adore the bones of him and thank the sky each day that he is in my life.
So I hope you'll forgive me for the mistakes I made when I was being abused. I really do. Because everything I have done since has been for women. I like to think I have proved myself. I have never sought fame or anything like it. I just do my stuff. I fought the Ched Evans thing for a long time and I raised the money to help his complainant. I'm proud of that. I would do it again tomorrow despite it bringing Goggins to my door. I have always worked hard to support women exiting abusive relationships. A lot of the time I do this when women approach me by DM. I never refuse women my time. I was given a hard time at one bit in 2014 because a woman spread some malicious gossip about me. I ignored it and carried on doing my thing. At this time women leaked my details to Goggins including details from my Facebook like the name of my daughter and my cats. I really wish those women hadn't done that. He uses it constantly. I won't put my own or my daughter's name here. Lots of people know them I don't need to broadcast it. I don't hide my identity any longer. My face is easy to find. I'm no longer anonymous. My cats are Stanley and Woobie. They hate Goggins too and frequently do little craps in the shape of his saggy old body.
So now Goggins has nothing. He can't expose anything about me. I've been investigated by my work. My ex husband knows who I am and stalks my profile relentlessly - (he will be reading this which makes me feel sick but he can't disagree with a damn word of it however hard he puffs out his little chest. It would stand up in any court in the land. The police have all of this on file. I hope his friends read it too and look at him a little differently. They probably won't). Ched Evans fans genuinely don't care any more and have moved on. No one is coming to kill me.
And that's it. That's how you take back control. You own the thing they think scares you.
I will never be scared of any man ever again.
Peace sisters x
Friday, 2 November 2018
(The words are mine and no dissatisfaction with those words should be aimed at Shonagh who agreed to read them for me. )
Thursday, 11 October 2018
We have been told not to discuss loos. Especially women's loos. It is apparently the height of transphobia and fascism and we are immediately aligned with Donald Trump. Or some crazed religious right wing group who hate everyone. All of this is utter nonsense to stop us speaking about everyday concerns for women if men are allowed into our loos.
Here is a blog where women refuse to do what they have been told. They are discussing women's loos.
As part of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which will allow for "self-identification of gender" women have many worries about how this will affect them. We are very concerned about what this will mean and it is this.
Any man who wants to call himself a woman can go online and fill in a form for a small fee and then he can change the "sex" on his birth certificate and "Hey Presto" he's a "woman".
Women will have to let this new "woman" into our single sex spaces including women's refuges, rape crisis centres, single sex hospital wards, changing rooms, domestic violence help groups, and yes... our loos.
He can retain his penis as 80% of trans women already do. He needs to make no changes to himself or his behaviour... AT ALL. He doesn't need to wear a wig or a dress. He doesn't need to shave or wear make-up. He doesn't need to chop off his testicles. He doesn't need to speak with a high voice. He can simply declare himself a "woman". And he's in.
Women don't need to do these things either. But we *are* already women.
However, the comments below also reflect women's concerns about "gender neutral" loos which are a resulting "compromise" to excluding trans women from women's loos. Which we have been told is unkind.
Well. Women are unhappy. Lots of women are unhappy about this and we are being made to feel guilty for talking about it at work, or in public or in restaurants and bars. But actually .... lots of women don't use a rape crisis centre or a refuge. But we all use loos. This is what I found when I asked women how they feel about men in their loos. Any men. This is not about trans women. It is about women's experiences of men. Of women's girlhoods. Of their need for the safety of a place where they take down their knickers and change their tampons and sanitary towels. Of the places women feel alone sometimes. Of the places where women attend to the functional biological needs of their female bodies.
Some of this may shock you. Some of it might make you laugh. Some of it will make you angry. If you are a woman ....you will nod your head a lot.
So here we are.... women talking about women's loos. And we are NOT ASHAMED....
“I used to work in IT as a manager and this was back in the days when I believed the propaganda about trans women being oppressed. Part of my team worked on a site where the adjoining building had been closed. There was no ladies toilet in the building still in use so they left access to ladies in the other building for the occasional user, (some shifts there wasn't anyone using it). There was a transwoman working in a different team on shift work who was older than me and a junior grade to me. He would try and engage me in chitchat in the kitchen which I avoided as there was an aggressive edge in his manner to me and he seemed to have a 50s view of womanhood that I didn't share. He was also a foot taller than me and muscular build. When we were both in the office it felt like he would follow me to the ladies when he saw me go and would always try and engage me in conversation in the ladies. I didn't know him, and had no reason to engage at work as when he had a request of my team he was supposed to deal directly with my onsite team. One time he stood so he was physically blocking me from leaving the ladies and forced me to have some inane 'girly' conversation, (about makeup I think) before moving. I knew the building was deserted and it was clear to him I wanted to leave. I was too afraid to try and push past as I was never going to win a physical tussle so I had to pretend and take part in this conversation to fulfil his fantasy of how women talk in the toilets before he moved aside and let me leave. I felt afraid and also furious that I was being forced to *perform* in his fantasy. After that incident I never spent a full day at that office again and always ensured I went to the toilet before visiting so that I didn't have to use the ladies there. It was over 10 years ago, an incident he probably gave no more thought to and an incident that I thought HR would not take seriously and would rebound on me so I didn't report it. It was also an incident that I tried to avoid thinking about when I was being a good little ally as it didn't fit the narrative. In retrospect I'm relieved I didn't realise at the time many trans women retain their penis as the situation would have been even more scary”
"V long time ago. 2 transwomen with their female friends. I looked over, trying to be trying to be friendly (I was very young). One said 'what the fuck you looking at?' He suggested beating me up but was disuaded. He went to prison for murder later."
"walked into converted unisex toilets. saw urinals, albeit empty. walked out."