May We Dance Upon Their Graves

Incest Survivors, Spirituality and Ceremonies of Justice – the story of a woman living a rich, fulfilling life while waiting to dance on her sociopath father's grave.

About SwordDanceWarrior


The Goddess Brigid

The Goddess Brigid

The story of a woman waiting for her sociopath father to die so she can dance on his grave, and having a rich fulfilling life in the meanwhile.

I realize that reading a blog sometimes gets a bit disorienting, since facts referred to can be from earlier posts. Here’s an overview.

I survived sexual abuse from my father, beginning when I was about 5 years old and lasting till I was about 14, when a growing awareness that I might tell forced my father to move on, to whom I don’t know.

I was raped and strangled into unconsciousness, the first time at least. My mother did nothing to help me. She comes across as a perfectly nice woman in normal terms, but she was a dependent person and unwilling to be my saviour.  She has always claimedshe knew nothing, which I’ve come to realize is  impossible given the injuries I suffered. My best guess is that she knew about the first rape, but thought she’d put a stop to it by making my father agree to stop drinking hard liquor (oh, honey I was so drunk I didn’t know what I was doing…), so when she said she didn’t know, what she didn’t know was that he’d continued.

For many years, all I had were memories of the attacks and the aftermath to prove to myself that it had all actually happened. More recently I have physical evidence, as a vaginal exam shows healed tearing and vascular damage that I suffered when I was raped as young child and left to heal without medical attention.  The evidence was there all along, I just had to get the courage to ask the person doing the exam if there was any tearing. I haven’t given birth, and there’s no other way for the tearing to be there.

My father was reported to the police over 20 years ago. They investigated and found enough evidence to charge him. I decided not to press charges because I felt that the price to me to obtain what tiny justice is meted out to abusers (3 year sentences, after 3 years of gruelling trial for example) was too high. I have two brothers but am not sure if iether of them was abused directly, although both are of course affected by living in a home where abuse was present, whether they knew or not.

My family believes me, and my mother finally left my father about 5 years ago, which was about 14 years too late in my estimation.

I am a woman in her 40′s, happily and legally married to another woman, as is blessedly possible in my country and should be everywhere else. I am smart, capable and successful in my job. I don’ t have kids and probably won’t. I have been healing for 20 years, and I want to tell those of you new to healing the abuse that every minute has been worth it. Every minute I am better, stronger and more free, not just of the effects of the abuse, but of our cultures stupid and harmful values around children, parents and women, and more the woman the Goddess intends me to be.

I spend most of my time living my life now, rather than surviving it. Some things you don’t fully ‘get over’ and child sexual abuse is one of them. The battles I have fought in my life have made me a strong and powerful woman. People who think that one should forgive and forget are idiots. That would be a waste of hard won lessons and learnings, and would make what happened more meaningless to us than it already is.

I am still affected by post traumatic stress at times but in ways that are familiar to me and possible to manage. I have had a lot of very useful therapy and was a therapist myself for a time. My Pagan faith and the support of the Goddesses, particularly Mother Earth, has been critical in my healing, as I know higher powers of various sorts have been to other survivors.

I am of varied cultural background, including Scottish, and am a religious Pagan of the feminist variety. I draw my strength from Mother Earth, who is a Goddess to me, and the principal one I’m connected to. From my Scottish heritage and Pagan spiritual beliefs, I have drawn on the practice of dancing a sword dance at the death of an enemy (see comments below for more info on this history).

Since I will likely not be present at the death of my abuser, I plan to do this sword dance at his grave site.  I am doing it to banish him from my life, to ritually deny him the ancestor worship practised in my faith, and to celebrate my victory over him in outliving him. I am also celebrating my power and achievement in healing from what he did. Like the hero of a fairy tale, I have struck out on my own away from my abusive family, had adventures, undertaken sacred heroic tasks, gone into the monster’s lair and symbolically stolen the golden harp or silver sword that is the reward for bravery and perseverence. It is only fitting I honour a hero’s journey with a heros dance of exhaltation.

I am also dancing to demonstrate the proper attitude to have toward child abusers and survivors, and the proper way to support survivors, by celebrating our courage, not with pity or condescension. We are all warriors and may we all live to dance on their graves. Since I began telling people I plan to do this dance, I’ve gotten a lot of support, and several people, including some relatives, have told me they are available to witness the dance.

Oh, probably the most important thing about this blog is that my father/abuser is on his third recurrence of cancer. I’m hoping he’ll die soon, but he seems to be unbelievably hardy. This is his third bout that I know of and he’s about 70, so I hope it will finish him off soon. However, if it’s really painful and debilitating, and gives him some good long quality time with the realities of how he’s lived his life, I’m fine with it taking awhile. Goddess willing, he’ll hopefully die around the time I relearn how to dance the sword dance properly and I feel ready to deal with the death of my mortal enemy.

This blog is for me to tell the whole truth, anonymously, about what’s going on within me, something I’m not able to do in my regular life that often. It’s for me to break silence about incest and the injustice imposed by the cultural restrictions on talking about it.  We need to start talking more about the realities of being an incest survivor. We don’t deserve for our pain and courage to be hidden shamefully away – that just adds insult to injury. Incest survivors are some of the bravest people I know.

And I’m one of them.

It means a lot to me that others are reading what I write. Thank you for stopping by.

37 comments on “About SwordDanceWarrior

  1. Pingback: The Mother « May We Dance Upon Their Graves

  2. comingoutlesbian
    July 7, 2009

    I am so sorry about what happened to you and too many other children in this world.

    I have no sympathy for abusers and I hope speaking about your thoughts and experiences will help.

    It’s great that you have a partner and are married. Marriage will swing our way!

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

  3. balbrouckan
    March 9, 2010

    It feels good to see survivors being this brave.

    When my abuser dies, I’ll be happy the earth is a cleaner place. I rarely think of that being, and more in terms of a “it” than of a “he”. I won’t be dancing on its grave (it would honor it too much), but I totally respect the fact that you’ll do. Have fun !

    As for mine, I know it will die alone and in oblivion, and I hope it will be from a long and painful illness. I’m sorry for the worms that will have to eat it.

    And I’ll refuse the share I’ll inherit from it (laws of my country : children can’t be left out of a will).

    • sworddancewarrior
      March 10, 2010

      I hear you, balbrouckan. I used to feel like it would be too much of an honour for the Earth to compost him. I’m good to dance on his grave though, if he’ll ever fricking die. Have you thought of accepting the money and then giving it to a charity that helps survivors?

  4. balbrouckan
    March 12, 2010

    I recently have thought of giving the money to charity. And… I don’t know, anything that comes from the scum is too dirty to handle for me… I’d rather give my own money to charities, money I’ve earned, clean money… I already give some.

    Besides my brother hasn’t severed his links from him, he’s still around waiting for the payout – or the debts, who knows. And there are 2 half-siblings, the girl might have been abused too, but she’s away now. If they’re OK with the dirty money, let them have it. They need it more than I do, especially the half-siblings, and they’ll have each 1/3 instead of 1/4.

  5. kskn
    April 3, 2010

    You are very brave. I am so happy to see that there are people who have found ways to cope with such things. How ashame I am to have suicidal thoughts when way less bad things happened in my life! I know I am probably not the kind of readers you target. But I would like you to know that reading this article has given me strengths also.
    Thank you so much for writing this blog entry.

    • sworddancewarrior
      April 12, 2010

      @kskn:
      Don’t be ashamed of the suicidal thoughts, you can’t compare abuse anyhow, there are too many factors. For example, I was ‘only’ abused by one category of person so I’m only skeebed by creepy old white men. Young women and men, older women, not triggering. Someone who was abused less physically but by more categories of people might have more barriers to trusting people and a harder time having a good life. The important thing is that we can’t afford to lose more survivors, period. We need to all live and, potentially, dance on our abusers graves (literally or metaphorically), since the abusers have no right to take more from us than they already have. Hang in there kskn!

  6. riverdancer
    April 10, 2010

    You are a wise and strong woman…I can see that much in your words. Please know you are not alone–there are others, men and women alike, who have gone through similar pain, and the strength you show gives us all hope and strength. My own lineage is Celtic, and though I’m more of Irish blood than Scottish, I’m interested in knowing more about this sword dance. For some reason I can’t open up some of the links on your page that relate to it…are there any other resources you could suggest for me? I have a sort of passive personality–”I cannot a warrior be”–so I’m not sure if I could ever truly preform such a dance, but it would be nice to know more about it.
    Anyway…it’s heartening to know that there are still those who show such strength of soul in today’s world, and those who still follow the spiritual paths of our ancestors. Goddess hold you close, and spirits guide your path…neart inmheánach, sister.

    • sworddancewarrior
      April 12, 2010

      Thanks riverdancer. Here’s a link to another description of the sword dance history. The other one I had seems to be dead now: http://www.toeandheel.com/celticspiritdance/dances/swords.htm

      The dance is called the Gillie Callum, which you should be able to find out more about if you search on it. Another thing that is inspiring is to go on youtube and search for highland sword dance and you will get reams of powerful warrior women doing this dance (and a lot of children, who aren’t quite as fierce but you’ll get the idea.).

      Here are some more links about it with the history I’m referring to:
      http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=51008238&blogId=82433842 Here’s an excerpt:

      “Sword

      The Sword dance, also known as, the Gile Calum, original Gaelic spelling, now spelled Ghillie Callum. The Sword dance is an ancient war dance of Gael. Romans actually recorded seeing it when they invaded Scotland in 950 BC. The first person to use the swords in this manner is probably lost in time. The first recorded event is said to be in 1054, King Malcolm Canmore, defeated one of MacBeths chiefs at the Battle of Dunsinane. The King proceeded to seize his opponents sword, placed it over his to form a cross, and then danced triumphantly over it. The Sword dance was considered a victory dance after defeating the opponents. Many generations of warriors have also performed this dance on the eve of battle. The warrior would place his sword and his scabbard (sheath) to form a cross. If a man were to touch or displace the sword it portended evil in the coming battle. The warrior would be injured or die. If he didnt touch the sword he would be victorious. No matter the outcome of the dance, the clansmen fought like crazy the next day.

      In competition, only Premier/Open dancers are disqualified if they touch the sword. In the other levels, points are taken off of the total score. The solo Sword dance is the one mostly danced in competition, there is also the double sword and Argyle Broadsword. The quick time, which is signified by a clap by the dancer, increases the difficulty.”

      I’m working up to performing the dance myself. For the first thing, it’s very energetic and powerful, and I”m out of shape, for the second thing, the music and the meaning of it makes me cry. It takes courage to do, no doubt, both as a battle prep dance and as an ‘exhultation’ dance. That’s part of why it’s worth doing. May you be blessed as well, sister.

  7. paperjay
    June 21, 2011

    Hi SDW,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I’m really intrigued by your religious beliefs (if that doesn’t sound too weird). It just strikes a chord in me somewhere. Do you think you could maybe email me some links or book titles or something so I can learn more? Thanks.

    paperjay

    • sworddancewarrior
      June 22, 2011

      Hi Paperjay,
      It’s not wierd to ask :-) Keep in mind that Pagans are all very different; it’s not a religion where there’s a lot of specific ways to worship or practice, which is good, in my opinion. Most pagans are quite individualistic (to say the least). There are of course some basic similarities that most people hold, like ‘an it harm none, do as you will’ (our equivalent of the golden rule), creating a circle, the four / five directions, nature as sacred, the Goddess as soul of nature etc… The bit about the body and sexuality being sacred is also pretty common. Generally same-sex sexuality is accepted and there’s no rules against it, although some streams more or less. Most Pagan/Wiccan priest/esses I know of will marry a same sex couple, for instance. A book that I think is a good place to start is “The Spiral Dance” by Starhawk. Any of her other books are also pretty good. She’s a well-respected author of the Reclaiming tradition, which is mystic/ecstatic as opposed to fertility oriented. All of her stuff and most reclaiming stuff is very survivor friendly. A lot of my spirituality as it relates to healing also came through participating in 12 step groups as well or just prayer and intuition. Reclaiming are kind of the Quakers of Paganism. Some of the more strict fertility traditionists don’t even consider Reclaiming to be Wiccan at all, although I think that’s not correct. I’m mostly Reclaiming in practice and belief. If you’re looking for something completely female centred (which can be healing for survivors who were abused by men) Dianic is the tradition you want. Z Budapest is a leading author in that tradition and also has some good books (her older books have more of concrete use than the more pop oriented ‘goddess in the office’ stuff).

      SDW

  8. Prozac Blogger
    July 14, 2011

    Although I’m not exactly a victim of sexual abuse (even though I’m not completely sure about some stuff) I can relate to a lot of things from your story. How your mother was a passive, self-involved bitch turning her back to everything. My mother was a victim and expressed her frustration on me.
    As a little boy I have witnessed the abuse my father (and grandfather) inflicted on my sister and mother. Which has left the necessary scars.

    In short, my family is 1000 shades of crazy.
    Would you like to do a blogroll link exchange? I have recently started my own blog and have added your link to my blogroll.

    You can add mine as ‘Journal of a Male Childhood Abuse Survivor’ and link it to: http://prozacblogger.wordpress.com.

    I wish you all the strength in the world on your journey to recovery.

    I have subscribed and will drop by every now and then to give my support.

    Sincerely,

    – Prozacblogger

    • sworddancewarrior
      July 14, 2011

      Nice to meet you PB, Sorry to hear your family is messed up too.
      I’ve added you to my blogroll.
      SDW

  9. Cat
    September 24, 2011

    I’m a trauma survivor as well and am currently working on my dissertation, which focuses on blogs dealing with trauma. I’d like to include your blog in my study if you’ll give me permission to do so. I couldn’t find your email address, but I’d like to communicate in further depth. Would you be kind enough to email me your contact information?
    Best,
    Cat

  10. somaticstrength
    January 2, 2012

    I’ve been reading your blog, and finding much to relate to. I was sexually abused; the specifics I’ll probably never know as most of my memories are lost to me but a few vague, disassociated ones, and the ones that surface now I’m not even sure of their validity. All I have is my childhood mind that imagined rape everywhere from as early as I can remember. I was raped by my brother at nine, that memory I have.

    It feels so impossibly hard. To have to deal with all these thoughts and emotions and triggers and fears all the time and yet have nothing I can hold onto to say “this is what happened that caused me to be this way.” To live in a mind I feel is so unreliable that nothing it comes up with has any accuracy or truth. My mother believes I am one step away from insanity, from delusions and hallucinations that will call into question everything about me. And sometimes I am afraid she is right.

    Anyway, thank you for having the courage to write this blog.

    • sworddancewarrior
      January 3, 2012

      Your mother is not an objective source of information or perpective here. It’s her son that raped her daughter. She’s involved. Families often pull this type of crap, calling you crazy, when in fact you’re behaving and feeling exactly the same as most other survivors of childhood rape do. I suggest taking a break from your relatives for awhile and hanging out with some survivors. An incestuous family’s warped ‘reality’ seeps into your mind and it’s hard to sort out what’s truth when you’re in the middle of it. It will help you learn to trust your own perceptions, and sort out how to piece together the dissociated bits.

      Support to you,
      SDW

      • somaticstrength
        January 4, 2012

        It’s hard because I don’t have much of a support system around here, and I still live at home so that makes it tough. Maybe if I finally ever do get away from them, it’ll be easier to see things differently.

        • sworddancewarrior
          January 8, 2012

          I guarantee it will be a lot easier to see things differently once you get away from them and they no longer have financial, emotional or physical power over you. You won’t be able to heal a lot of what happened until you’re safe. You still need the amnesia to protect you as long as you are with your abusers. May that sooner than expected.

          SDW

  11. Wednesday Walker
    January 30, 2012

    Wow…. I don’t know what else I can say beyond that really… wow… and I look forward to getting to know you thru your posts SwordDanceWarrior…

    Thank you for blogging your story for me to find.

  12. Michelle
    February 7, 2012

    I stumbled upon your blog as I was looking up pelvic yoga. I was advised my my therapist to try it for body memories..I found your blog helpful and also found many areas of interest to me. It is a lot to take in, so I plan to revisit and take it a little at a time. I applaud the way you have just put yourself out there. I wish I felt safe enough to do the same.

  13. Michelle
    February 7, 2012

    Thanks for your reply. I found many things in common with you after viewing your blog. I too am a lesbian who is about to get legally married. I am obviously a survivor. I have interests in alternative religions. And I am very woman focused and centered. I have serious mom issues. And i don’t believe in forgiving abusers or just getting over and forgetting what happened. I began Therapy almost 20 years ago. One thing I looked for here and didn’t really see anything about was body memories. Especially physically painful ones or ones that have no mental memory to go with them. And thoughts or wisdom would be most helpful.

    • sworddancewarrior
      February 10, 2012

      Traumatic memories are fragmented memories, unfortunately, at least at first. It’s very frustrating to have physical sensation memories with no clue (other than it was something awful) as to what they are about. Here’s my advice. Label them as memories. At some point in the past you had this same sensation, and it meant something really bad and overwhelming was happening. That’s all you know right now. Sometimes, labelling them, accepting them for what they are, and feeling them fully, can help. It can web those memories up to other information about the experience that caused them, or it can help lay them to rest. I’m guessing that the physical pain also comes with some emotions. Label those too as memories. They’re emotional memory fragments. Accept that traumatic memories are fragmented. This is their nature. It’s frustrating, but completely normal. The memories are not invalid because they are incomplete. They are valid because they behave exactly the way traumatic memories behave – fragmented and intrusive. If you learn to accept and trust the memory fragments you have, you will get more, which is a mixed blessing, but ultimately is helpful. This post might be helpful to you: http://sworddancewarrior.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/car-crash/

  14. misty
    February 17, 2012

    I have never danced on my grandfathers grave but the last time i visited it at christmas the flowers which one of my four uncles or their wives had left were old faded plastic flowers.my grandparents grave site sure could of used new flowers just not from me!

  15. LeikaShadow
    March 25, 2012

    Thank you, first of all, for your bravery in posting what you have on such an important, yet ‘taboo’ subject as incest and your experiences with it. It was very informative to a survivor such as myself who has struggled with this for nearly 30 years to see how another is learning to successfully cope with the damage sustained in childhood. I also greatly appreciate the pagan aspects that you share and have found inspiration in the posts that I have so far read.

    Though I was fortunate enough to have the abuse uncovered when I was 6, the fact that it was due to having contracted gonerrhea in my throat was a bit damaging. I attended therapy for a while afterwards as the state ‘monitered’ the reunification of me with my mother and sister (my father began his ‘game’ shortly after my parents divorced and he managed to gain custody), but that ended when my 2nd therapist insisted I write my father (who was in jail serving his sentence) to tell him I was sorry for putting him there! I was only 8 years old! None to say, it has taken me nearly 25 years to realize that I truly cannot do this on my own, and have recently begun therapy again.

    Because of the nature of the abuse and the way the more traumatic aspects were somewhat delayed, it has taken several cycles of repeated bad relationships for me to realize that I still have much I need to deal with. And I find that others, such as yourself, that are able to be honest about sharing their experiences are helping me to move forward.

    I wish you the best of luck on your journey, and hope that when you dance on your father’s grave that it brings you the closure and peace you deserve.

    ~Leika

    • sworddancewarrior
      March 25, 2012

      Hi Leika,
      Very nice to meet you. I hope you find a very good therapist who is not an idiot fixated on forgiveness and conformity like your very unprofessional second therapist. Therapists who use the term ‘feminist’ to describe themselves usually are more likely to have a clue. Also making sure they are a member of a professional association is a good way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

      Of course you have stuff to deal with. Healing from incest is pretty chronic, I’m afraid, which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get much more manageable. It comes and goes with life and I think that’s good. Growth is good.

      I wish you the best of luck on your journey as well. I’ll be sure to let everyone know when I get to dance on my sociopathic father’s grave.
      Blessings to you.
      SDW

  16. Marina
    August 3, 2012

    Thank you for this whole blog. I am not a rape survivor but I’ve been through a lot of stuff too and in many ways have developed the same symptoms, learned the same lessons you have and feel the same way you do. I appreciate you saying that suggesting people to forgive and forget doesn’t help anyone because it confirmed my belief that forced forgiveness is nothing but ignorance and denial. I think about this whole forgiveness issue a bit differently though. I don’t think there is either right or wrong way of seeing it. It’s more of a matter of who needs what. What’s helpful to one may be destructive to someone else. I’ve never been able to forgive anyone who abused me but I was able to let go of some of them meaning that I didn’t need their apology anymore and I was no longer overwhelmed by anger and pain. I just felt at some point that the unfinished business I had with them was finished, but I remembered everything and still do and always will for the rest of my life. I haven’t been able to let go of some other experiences in the same way but I hope I will at some point. I am not worried about it though and I am not trying to force myself to let go. I am fine with whatever I am feeling, no matter what it is: hate, pain, sadness, shame, self-blame..anything. I just let all my feelings be and try to process them in whatever way I can: writing, talking to somebody, reading, watching movies, drawing..you name it. I know that what needs to be released, will get released at its own time. Again, I am just talking about my own experience and am in no way suggesting that it should be everyone else’s experience. I’m sure if I were a rape survivor, I’d feel differently and I’d need different things to heal. Everyone has their own experience and everyone heals in their own way. In some ways, different people’s paths may be similar, in other ways, each person’s path is unique.

    • sworddancewarrior
      August 3, 2012

      I feel very similarly. By accepting the truth of what happened and the impact, I reach peace with it. You might find this post interesting, as it says something similar.
      You’re welcome.
      SDW

  17. Flying Margie
    August 9, 2012

    Wow I am 47 and have had 20 years of therapy too! I was raised a christian and although I still beleive in some form of God (he/she) I was sexually abused by my father and not protected by my mother who were both “Christians”! I am only now facing the truth and naming things. I am no longer going to stand up for my parents their actions are never forgivable! Of course my whole family who knows the truth are still standing up for my parents I guess my inner child work is pressing their pain buttons so they are all telling me to take more medication and shut up. I refuse to do that anymore. I am letting my original pain out now, it hurts but I am determined to do this and heal and live a full life of truth not a half life of lie. Well done for writing this blog. It has inspired me. Thankyou. May you dance on his grave and be released from him!

    • sworddancewarrior
      August 11, 2012

      May you be released as well. Good for you for living the truth. Don’t expect your parents to get it, they won’t. I find living separately from them both and having no contact is really helpful. I’m glad I could be of help. May we outlive them all and dance on their graves. Nice to meet you.
      SDW

  18. Rescuing Little L
    March 16, 2013

    I just found your blog and am in love already. On this very difficult evening, I will absorbing all the mercies that your writing and advocacy intends. I will also sit with the delight that I have found a new friend….

  19. Mrs. M
    July 31, 2013

    Just the first 2 sentences and I knew that I liked you and your blog! I too am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and am waiting for my dance upon his grave. If my mother doesn’t change and divorce him, then it will be her grave as well! I can’t wait to read more! I also love how honest and open you are. I really appreciate it.
    http://survivingyesterday.wordpress.com/

  20. wellcallmecrazy
    July 6, 2014

    I am so glad to have found your blog and another example of living life and thriving after surviving incest and other abuses. I have vaginal and perineum scaring and believed for decades that it was from “crotching” or falling hard in a straddle position on the balance beam, as I was a gymnast. This never felt right to me though, and I couldn’t recall a fall like that from the beam. It wasn’t until the night that all my illusions were shattered and the repressed memories of sexual abuse and assault came rushing back that I finally found the truth. You are a true warrior and I wish you the best. Keep on going!

    • sworddancewarrior
      July 7, 2014

      You too, WCMC! I’m glad to meet you. Yes, I thought my vaginal pain was from recurrent yeast infections for years, until I found the scars and flesh tags. We are both warriors. :-)

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