I visited Isla Vista this week. My brother-in-law (aka “little brother”) lives in Isa Vista and is also attending UCSB, where six students were recently killed due to the rage of a frustrated young man who had mental health problems and was angry at women. We panicked all night because we couldn’t reach our little brother. The killings happened just a couple blocks from his home. We called, texted, facebooked, Skyped, emailed. All night. No word. We were terrified. As it turned out, he and a friend had stayed home to watched movies. He heard the gunshots, but he was fine.
(Click each photo to see it larger)
I am also enrolled in a university that is based in Santa Barbara.
I also know what it’s like to be at the receiving end of misogyny and slut-shaming, from personal interactions with misogynists without a conscience, to my former religion, my work, to social media, and even from reputable corporations like Discovery Networks, Investigation Discovery, History Channel and others. (A couple years ago I shared a story from my past of surviving trauma that was orchestrated by a criminal mastermind, but they turned it into one of those “stupid woman caused it herself and deserved what she got” stories. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but the media is accountable to no one.) The media is absolutely part of the problem, and this is why I am now pursuing my PhD in Media Psychology at a university in Santa Barbara.
Needless to say, I felt a connection with this tragedy and this town, and I wish I could find a way to use media make the world a safer place for women. For everyone.
So a few days ago, my husband and I went to visit Isla Vista. Little brother showed Tolga and I the memorials. We both had a lump in our throats.
This is where it all started. This was the home of 22-year old Elliot Rodger, the UCSB student who expressed his rage against the women who rejected him by slaughtering people, then taking his own life.
Messages were still there. Through heart-felt words, flowers, chalk writings and candles, people expressed their love for those who lost their lives here.
You’re in our hearts forever.
No one was in a hurry to take all the special remembrances away. Someone put a box of chalk there for people to express their feelings. No one stole it.
What they did do, however, was move items from the memorial sites into the UCSB library to create a CD of digital images of the memories, messages and notes. Someone politely left a letter explaining it all on a page covered by a sheet protector, weighted down by two candles.
This is the street outside of the apartment building where Elliot Rodger lived.
The street on Isla Vista where Rodger plowed through people and sprayed businesses with bullets.
Above – the sidewalk outside the IV Deli Mart where Rodger left more casualties
A happy face balloon with a graduation hat. Perhaps it was a message for one of the students about to graduate?
Outside IV Deli Mart. Beautiful signs of life, and of lives so loved.
Messages about gun control still reign prominent.
So much anguish, so much to say.
The recovery message is profound. “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that” MLK
The names of the deceased are held in place by a Teddy Bear
– a poignant reminder of innocence amidst the pain and sorrow.
A love note or message of caring is tucked into the bear’s shirt. I wanted to read it,
but somehow I felt unworthy.
The community mourned Katherine Cooper, Christopher Martinez, Veronika Weiss, Weihan Wang, George Chen, and Cheng Yuan Hong, and celebrated the incredible lives they lived. Read about them HERE.
Emily Lindin, the founder of the UnSlut Project, wrote “In Killer’s World, Victims are Blamed.” It got picked up by CNN, and this young lady is my new hero. She wrote that Rodgers “is the product of a culture that condones and in many cases endorses the belief that if you are a ‘nice guy’ — or a ‘supreme gentleman’ as Rodger described himself — you are somehow entitled to sex with women.”
“After the killings, the extent of misogyny in this community was revealed in the creation of a Facebook page called ‘Elliot Rodger Is an American Hero,’ with the advice for everyone to ‘share your thoughts and pay your respects to Elliot Rodger here. Also, view this final message from our beloved hero,’ which links to his videotaped rant, with commenters expressing solidarity with his desire for revenge against women. The page has since been taken down.” Emily Lindin
On a piece of cardboard supported by a bike stand, someone wrote,
“Those we love don’t go away,
They walk beside us every day
Unseen, unheard, but always near,
Still loved, still missed and very dear.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
The community is rallying for the victims’ families and the survivors. This donation box is in the IV Deli Mart, where Christopher Michaels-Martinez lost his life.
The community, still reeling in disbelief, tries to carry on.
There’s a message to learn that we all hope does not fade away after the flowers are gone. We have an opportunity to honor the victims, the survivors and the families by making all this make a difference.
Will it be about gun control, mental health, respecting women, victim blaming or something else? Emily Lindin thinks the conversation needs to be about misogyny.
“But as we move forward and try to make sense of what happened, it’s our responsibility to start productive, respectful conversations about the misogyny behind Rodger’s actions,” she wrote.
As I walked back to the car, I saw a homeless man and another man being comforted by a college co-ed. I got the impression the man was a witness the night it happened.
They were perfect strangers, but she stopped walking her dog to comfort him in his time of need. He cried and she listened.
Whoever she is, she is a saint.
Maybe she cried and he listened too.
Maybe that is how we can make beautiful meaning come from this tragedy. Maybe that’s how we can change the world:
Listening when people cry, and then hugging instead of hating.
Just like the fathers of Elliot Rodger, the killer, and his victim, Chris Martinez.
Hugging instead of hating. Loving instead of blaming.
Photo taken from http://bit.ly/1mxMhYT
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It is absolutely false and outrageous to have portrayed that I ever gave up my children.
Shame on all the producers, distributors and parties involved who produced and edited this “documentary” to appear this way so as to increase the shock value. I am devastated and disappointed by Discovery Networks , eOne Entertainment and Raw TV for misrepresenting the truth in such an utterly disgusting way. Every one of these parties knew that this is false.
Since when do you describe a divorced single mother as someone who “gave up her children” when the children went to visit the father with whom she shared custody? No single mother who shares custody with her ex-husband is accused of having “given up her children” when they visit their father. The fact is that my ecclesiastical leader pressured me to give them up for adoption. I could not do that, and I did not do that.
The following transcripts of the interview and other documents were created by Raw TV and sent to me by Raw TV before the show aired, proving that Raw TV, which is now being purchased by Discovery, were acutely aware that I did not obey the prophet and give up my children.
From the producer’s transcripts of my actual recorded interviews:
“He told me I needed to give my children up for adoption [crying] to, as my next text. [crying] and I like fainted. And I couldn’t believe what he was saying, and I said it’s not right, it’s not possible. [crying] and he told me, that this was my requirement and that I’ve not yet earned eternal motherhood, and I would never earned eternal motherhood, unless I obeyed this [crying] thing
“And I walked through the valley, the canyon just screaming and crying, so confused. . . I couldn’t do it. He told me to do it and I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t pass this test, and I said, I don’t understand, I’ve passed every test you’ve given me, [crying] why this?
”So when he would call, I would have the children be quiet [crying] but I couldn’t do it. And I purposely disobeyed and hid it, and just hoped the prophet would not know.
“I was worried that he would find out I had not obeyed and that there would be some eternal consequences for me. Excuse me. [crying]
“And when he asked me to live among the poor and needy, and told me I needed to make this permanent, I pretended I made it permanent. I pretended that I had given them up for adoption, when in reality they were simply separated from me. There was no custody battle between me and my ex-husband ever, we always both wanted was best for our children.
The story producer wrote her notes (in all caps, in document called Christine Marie Heart – Story Notes from Transcript) below.
“Christine received an email from one of the sisters, telling her that ***** had been sent to jail for violating a protective order against one of his ex-wives. He wanted her to visit him at the jail (CLARIFY) at 9am the next day.”
“Christine went to see *****. He told her he was simply incarcerated on false charges like Joseph Smith before him, and that it was all false. She believed him. He asked if she had given up her children for adoption like he’d asked. Christine lied and said she had. *THIS IS A MOMENT OF STRENGTH, WE ADMIRE HER FOR IT.” ( p. 10, 5th paragraph)
This “moment of strength” and refusal to give up my children, was intentionally eliminated, and through the use of cutting and pasting words and video out of context, the message was altered to say something completely different and defamatory. Furthermore, I was made to appear that obeyed the prophet’s demand to give up my children, and I did it without even questioning! What?!
After the children were picked up in a car driven by an apparent stranger, the character who played me did not even cry. In fact, video and audio of me speaking in other contexts were spliced together to make it appear I was nonchalant, if not happy, now that my children were gone. This is a despicable misrepresentation of the facts.
My letter to the General Manager of Raw TV, who produced the “documentary” on a story from my life.
On Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 11:01 AM, Piers Vellacott <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear Christine Marie,
I am sorry that you are still distressed by some of the negative feedback to the program and your perceived misrepresentation by us. It’s very disheartening, when the team here worked so tirelessly to create a film that was a sensitive and honest account of the story you presented to us.
When we complete production on a television programme we deliver it on to the networks, and it totally beyond our control to start pulling programmes off the air.
You initial reaction was one of jubilation, and on the second viewing (without distraction) you told us you were ‘happy, happy, happy.’
We absolutely did not present you as a stupid woman in love, we presented a very complex story, as narrated beautifully by you – and with you giving us a retrospective view of a very difficult and tragic episode in your life. Your presentation was compelling and you gave a very honest and frank account of your thoughts and emotions at this time.
I think that through the passage of time one of your main concerns was the caption concerning your children. We handled that section with great sensitivity and made clear that the children remained in touch with you and were sent to their father.
We also made clear that after you realised the deception your first instinct was to reunite your family which you did within a short period of time.
“To be honest I have a memory block about where my littlest boy went. I can’t even remember. I have an erased part there. I don’t even know where he went. So I have no memory of it. I don’t, I have certain memories about this part.”
Now more time has passed and your concerns about the programme are not just limited to this section but to the entire programme.
As MD of Raw, we pride ourselves on our output and on the teams we put together to make our output. I am confident that we dealt with all the issues in your film professionally and with great sensitivity I absolutely stand by the integrity of the programme makers we hire to make sometime difficult but important programmes.
I hope with time you will recognise that we believe you to be the victim of terrible events – one that you survived with dignity and honour. I remember clearly the conversation you and I had prior to transmission of the film, I believe and still do, that you are an incredibly strong and brave woman. I acknowledge that your story has attracted negative comments, and I pity those who feel that using the veil of the internet is an inappropriate way of getting to you.
Network & production executives such as –
Henry Schleiff, President (Investigation Discovery)
Michael Kot, exec producer (Entertainment One)
Ron Simon, exec producer (Investigation Discovery)
Piers Vellacott, Dimitri Dogani- execs (Raw TV)
wanted to create a new series.
It was represented to me that it would be a show for Discovery Networks with the following description:
“The series seeks to tell these people’s stories of subjugation and ultimate survival. The hope is that the stories will be a testament to the power of the human spirit to overcome crushing psychological adversity.”
But after I participated and signed the release, they sent out an industry press release (unbeknownst to me at the time), that said –
(wt) DANGEROUS PERSUASIONS “tells extraordinary and terrifyingly true tales of everyday people who were manipulated into committing horrific crimes.”
Without my prior knowledge or approval, they decided to turn my story of surviving human trafficking, multiple rapes, beatings and trauma – into a story where I had committed crimes or “committed horrific acts.”
Furthermore, they coached a former boyfriend, now an actor who was NOT a witness, but an actor who was falsely represented as a witness, to say things to get across their desired points. Like what? Like Christine Marie was to blame.
“followed her heart, had no common sense, and wanted to believe so badly she was willing to hurt herself.”
Like she did it for love.
Like she wanted love so badly that she was willing to do those things to herself.
Instead of speaking about the culture of Mormon patriarchy and obedience – such as in the news today:
They made my primary motivation to be one of love.
The show description all through cyberspace uses my real name “Christine Marie” (great for SEO, especially for a professional) and it says that the self-proclaimed prophet – proceeded to convince her to give her children away, relinquish her possessions and sell her body.
That description meets show series’ description. Millions and millions of people can see these words associated with my name and my face right now. But as you know, allowing visitation with the children’s father (which divorced parents by law MUST do) is not the same as “giving your children away.” Even Jack said, “Why did they phrase it like that? That was ridiculous.”
I have yet to receive a retraction or an apology.
This is what I wished to write to these people:
You do know that selling your body is a crime, right? (Although it shouldn’t be.) But it is.
Are you aware that being the victim of multiple rapes and beatings does not make a woman a criminal?
Are you aware that a woman is neither a criminal nor a prostitute even if money somehow changed hands in a building where she was the only female prey among 84 men? Nope. Even if men paid a pimp for her, this is still not “being convinced” to “sell her body.
Are you aware that being forced, coerced, extorted, monitored, followed, threatened, spiritually blackmailed, slapped, raped, robbed, penetrated with objects, confined, held down, screamed at, sworn at, insulted, had her head smashed into the floor, shoved, kicked, (did I say raped?) and sexually exploited for the sadistic, voyeuristic and financial benefit of others – is not the same as having been “convinced” to “sell her body?”
Weird, right – that I would be confused and disappointed that my story would be altered to fit into series about people who were persuaded to commit horrific crimes?
I am really just another female commodity that corporate America felt entitled to use and exploit as they saw fit.
I did not deserve to be slut-shamed by corporate America.
In Santa Barbara, the same city where Emily Lindin started the Unslut Project to fight against slut-shaming,
the same city where Elliot Rodger taught the world why it is dangerous to allow entitlement and misogyny
is the same city where I am now pursuing a PhD in Media Psychology – as a direct result of my experience with Investigation Discovery, Raw TV, History Channel, eOne Entertainment. and now add to that – Crime Investigation UK.
No woman who her traumatic survival story, especially when it includes sexual trauma, should be portrayed in a way that leaves people to believe that “she was an idiot” who “hurt herself.”