Calladitas No More

I Was Called Llorona Growing Up — But I Was Really Just Crying Out For Help After Years Of Abuse

I was called “llorona” growing up. For a long, long time, this was a family joke. “La Priscila llora por todo,” my family would quip. It was said so often that even my parrot back home in Nicaragua began calling me llorona.   

For most of my life, I believed that I was a crybaby, but in hindsight, I can see things clearer: I was crying out for help after years of mistreatment.

I grew up with a terrible brother who loved to torment me. He never hit me, but he did use cruel words to demean me and make me feel stupid, ugly and unworthy. I have blocked so many memories of his torture, but I do remember that the only time I felt validated was when one of my favorite tias called him “jayán.” This is a Nicaraguan term for grocero, or rude. He seemed to enjoy making my life miserable, and I always ended up crying due to his cruel behavior.

As I got older, I realized that this was neither healthy nor normal. In fact, it was toxic. He was emotionally manipulative and abusive. As an adult, I’ve created a distance between us, and, coincidentally, I’ve also stopped bawling.

I’ve learned that I did not cry because I was a llorona; I cried because I did not know how to explain emotional abuse or how to deal with it as a little girl. Yet I was dismissively called llorona, while no one ever corrected his behavior.

My older brother abused me, and my parents were complicit in his violence by allowing it to happen and ignoring my cries for help. My brother’s vicious behavior, which continues with his wife, my mami and my baby sister, was normalized, while my reaction was vilified and mocked.

We do that. In my context, we call mujeres locas, lloronas, putas and a slew of other terms that are specifically meant to shame them for not following the rules and for speaking up for themselves.  

As someone who has been called a loca — when I left my ex-husband — a puta — when I decided to enjoy sex and have lots of it — and, growing up, llorona — for trying to thwart abusive behavior,  I now know that this coded language was only ever meant to keep me from complaining further and stop me from living life on my terms.

Pondering on my childhood nickname, I was reminded of another woman who was called a crybaby for surviving violence: La Llorona.

La Llorona is a ghost story we tell kids about a woman who snatches children. This figure brought fear into my life growing up; yet, thinking back on it, she and I share a similar experience.

This was a mujer who was a victim of brutality. Her husband, who some believe abused La Llorona, left her. It’s often said that, after her abandonment, she killed her children, though that has not been proven, and wandered the earth sobbing, mourning her losses and trying to find her kids. Yet we view her as a terrible mother and do not stop to analyze that she has reasons to grieve. We give women these dismissive names like “La Llorona” instead of holding them and healing with them.

I identify with La Llorona because I mourned at five years old, and 10 years old and continued until I was 15, when I stopped talking to my brother for my own mental health. Nobody listened. Nobody helped change his behavior. I was just mocked, so I stopped crying and learned how to protect myself instead.

I hope that we can move away from being a society that blames women instead of protecting them. Till then, la llorona will be my memory of a little girl who desperately cried for help and was left to her own devices until she had no tears left.

Read: From Revolution To Love, These Latina & Latin American Women Used Their Voices Through Poetry

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Study: Police In The Dominican Republic Are Abusing Women Sex Workers With Impunity

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Study: Police In The Dominican Republic Are Abusing Women Sex Workers With Impunity

Sex workers in the Dominican Republic, where the profession is illegal, are vulnerable to violence, but many don’t feel safe reporting these crimes to law enforcement because, in many cases, it’s police officers who are responsible for their abuse.

This month, Amnesty International released a report detailing how law enforcement in the Caribbean country rape and torture women sex workers. The study, harrowingly titled “If They Can Have Her, Why Can’t We,” includes interviews with 46 cis and trans sex workers who discuss the abuse they experienced at the hands of local police.

According to the report, of the 24 cis women interviewed, at least 10 had been raped by law enforcement, several at gunpoint. Similarly, many trans women disclosed being violently mistreated, some even tortured, by officers.

“The interviews reveal how a deeply engrained culture of machismo within the National Police, coupled with intense societal stigma and discrimination and conservative religious values, embolden law enforcement officials to unlawfully abuse their powers and punish women who engage in sex work as a form of social control,” reads the report.

One woman shared her account of being gang-raped by three policemen. In October 2017,  the woman was pulled over by an officer who spotted her waiting for clients when he forced her to enter his police van. There, he and two other patrols started groping the woman and ripping off her clothes.

“I was afraid. I was alone. I couldn’t defend myself. I had to let them do what they wanted with me,” she told Amnesty International. “They threatened me, that if I wasn’t with them they would kill me. They (said) that I was a whore, and so why not with them?”

The woman, whose shocking account influenced the title of the report, said that the officers called her a “bitch,” among other expletives, adding: “They saw me, I guess, and they thought ‘Well, if they (clients) can have her, why can’t we?’”

This mentality isn’t uncommon. The report notes that the government, and society at large, often views sex workers as less than human and are thus “deserving” of the violence they experience.

“The harrowing testimonies that Amnesty International has gathered from the Dominican Republic reveal that police routinely target and inflict sexual abuse and humiliation on women who sell sex with the purpose of punishing and discriminating against them,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said. “Under international law, such treatment can amount to gender-based torture and other ill-treatment.”

While this particular study looked at the problem in the Dominican Republic, Guevara-Rosas says police violence against sex workers isn’t unique to the region but rather follows a pattern of gender-based violence across Latin America and the Caribbean. She calls it an “epidemic” and notes that marginalized women, like sex workers, are at increased risk because of fear arrest.

Read: Mothers, Students And Teachers Protested — And Were Attacked By Police — At Puerto Rico’s May Day March

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ANTM’s Eva Marcille Bravely Comes Forward With Her Story Of Having Hide In ‘Multiple Places’ To Evade Her Abusive Ex-Boyfriend

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ANTM’s Eva Marcille Bravely Comes Forward With Her Story Of Having Hide In ‘Multiple Places’ To Evade Her Abusive Ex-Boyfriend

Shade is often thrown around on any given episode of the Real Housewives franchises. Gossip is what makes the reality show interesting. Sometimes, however, when lies spread, the truth that is ultimately revealed can be hurtful and speak more about reality than what was intended.

On last night’s episode of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” one of the women, Marlo, tried to come for a castmate to poke fun at her financial woes. The shade turned out to expose longtime abuse.

Eva Marcille revealed on RHOA that the reason she has been moving from house to house isn’t that she’s lacking money but rather scared for her safety.

Twitter/@atlantainformer

“I still feel a sense of threat,” Marcille told her castmates on last night’s episode. “I have had to move five times, and I still feel a sense of uneasiness. He’s just so petty sometimes. I’ve walked outside of my balcony before, and he’s been standing in the dark. And it is the scariest feeling ever.”

Marcille is an American actress and former winner of the third cycle of America’s Next Top Model who is of Puerto Rican descent.

Marcille alleged that she has a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, Kevin McCall due to stalking and domestic abuse.

The couple, who share a daughter together (though she refers to him as a “donor”), separated in 2015. She has since gone on to marry Atlanta lawyer Micheal T. Sterling; they too share a child.

Marcille dispelled gossip that she and Sterling have frequently moved around because of financial troubles.

Instagram/@omfgrealitytv

“Every time I move, he finds me,” Marcille said on the episode. “Because of that, I live in multiple places. Safety is a priority for me.”

Sterling took to social media to support his wife by saying “Everything we got, we earned the hard way. And every day that I wake up, I work for legacy, not labels. Motivational use only.”

Marcille told the women that a former friend, who she had a falling out with, began spreading lies about her. “The lies are real gross, and the hate is beyond,” she said on Instagram.

Her alleged abuser, who’s had a history of erratic behavior at least on social media, said Marcille is just using the claims against him as a fake storyline.

“It’s sad when she gotta keep using my name for her storyline if I was the husband I would be like “Real hoe of Atlanta is you out your mind, or is you still obsessed with your child’s Father? Why is he in our storyline so much ain’t I enuff headline for our relationship?” McCall said on Twitter.

Marlo also said on last night’s episode that Marcille was using old claims to back up her current financial situation.

Last year on “The Wendy Williams Show,” Marcille said that McCall has never been a part of her daughter’s life.

“He thinks that biology is more important than being present,” Marcille said of McCall. “He’s extremely dysfunctional, and he’s not at a place where it’s safe for himself or for others.”

Fans of Marcille were quick to offer her support on Twitter.

The less reasonable are demanding more details.

Others were quick to highlight their favorite and most empowering quotes from Eva on the episode.


READ: News Of This Woman Killing Her 11-Year-Old Daughter Because She Suspected Her of ‘Having Sex’ Is Proof Of The Perils Of Purity Culture

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