• Athena Ives

Our Choices Have Extreme Consequences

The past few weeks have been weighing heavily on me. After the 4th of July weekend, numerous states returned to strict restrictions and closures. I feel like I am back in the military when idiots would get into drunk fights, get DUIs, and cause problems so the entire unit would lose privileges.

Now we are back to malls being closed, coffee shops, restaurants, and mom and pop stores offering takeout only. Salons, barber shops, and small businesses are forced to close their doors because of individuals that chose not to follow health guidelines. I am not defending or taking sides here. There is a much bigger issue and it will take both sides working TOGETHER to correct.

Regardless of what side you are on, your choices have consequences. Your choice to gather in large groups and decision makers choice to close and restrict individuals in hopes to prevent this from spreading, have consequences.

Why is this weighing heavily on me? Yes, my fitness goals had to be adjusted and I miss the gym. The VA has had to put disability claims on hold which greatly impacts me. I had numerous opportunities set up to help educate, train and assist with sex trafficked children as well as make money to pay for the insane cost of living in California. Those have all been put on hold or canceled. We have all been impacted by this! Millions of people have lost their jobs. I know of numerous small businesses that have been forced to shut their doors. But what bothers me the most, is the impact this has on OUR children. I say OUR children because we have a responsibility to protect them.

Every morning I wake up and hear of large gatherings causing spikes of positive COVID cases which result in more restrictions and my heart breaks. Not for myself, for the millions of abused kids around the world. When I was growing up, I secretly hated summer. I hated summer break because it meant that I couldn’t escape the hell at home in order to attend school. It wasn’t that I loved school either, I actually hated school. I was the kid that sat by my locker and worked on my homework during lunch because I didn’t have friends to eat with. I was the poor kid wearing my brothers’ hand me down clothes who was made fun of every day. The only good thing I remember about school was playing soccer and being away from the hell at home. I was the kid that had perfect attendance, never skipped a single class, and hated snow days and summer. Why would any kid feel that way?

I felt that way because home was a prison and I was locked inside with my abusers. It is exhausting living in constant fear and being on alert 24/7. Every time the floor creaked near my bedroom door I wanted to die. Every time someone tried to open the bathroom door when I was in the shower or going to the bathroom, I wondered which abuser it would be this time. My sperm donor or my pedophile brother? Every time I had to pee; I would have to make sure that my rapist wasn’t hiding in the tub waiting for me. Every time I had to change my clothes; I had to check under my bed to see if he was hiding. School was a place where I could put my constant guard down. It was the only time I got any rest. For all you combat veterans out there, that feeling of returning to a more secure location after being in a firefight, that was what school was for me. It is mentally exhausting and being exposed to chronic toxic abuse has severe emotional, mental, and physical health consequences that you have for the rest of your life.

Malls, coffee shops, book stores, schools, those are all safe places for these abused kids. My heart breaks because they are forced to live in hell. They are being forced to be on high alert for months, with little to no rest. My heart breaks for all the kids being groomed online right now. My heart breaks for all the children being beaten, raped, locked in closets, starved, neglected, and forced to be locked inside with their abusers. Are those enforcing these lock-down orders thinking of these kids? Are the people gathering in large groups thinking about how their choices are impacting these kids? Was that 4th of July drunk party worth it? Was it worth closing all these safe havens? We all need to remember these kids when making choices.