Showing posts from 2013

The Rocky Road

The last few weeks have been difficult, to say the very least.  I had an intense session with Bonita on the evening of November 6, 2013 during which we began to deal with the miscarriage. The work became so emotionally overwhelming that I needed to stop.  I left the session feeling completely drained and wiped out. During our session, Bonita gave me some homework...write a letter to the baby I lost.  She thinks it will help me process it all and allow me to stop internalizing the grief.  I think she is absolutely right.  That letter is currently a work in progress.
I woke up the next morning to find out a friend of mine, Melissa Morroney, was on life support following a suicide attempt. The week that followed was a bit of a blur and on November 13, 2013 Melissa was taken off life support after showing no brain activity.
I knew Melissa in high school.  She was wicked smart and a crazy talented artist.  She was also one of the kindest, most compassionate and truly genuine people I hav…

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes 2014!

I am pleased to announce that the Philly WAM Girls have a date has been set for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes 2014 benefiting Laurel House.  I was honored to be a part of this amazingly moving and important event last year and I look forward to being a part of it again.   If you would like to be a part of the event or donate to Laurel House you can visit the Philly WAM Girls Eventbrite page Walk a Mile in Her Shoes 2014
Here are the details... Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® is the international men's march which encourages men to walk one mile in women's high-heeled shoes to protest rape, sexual assault & gender violence. Our Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event will be held May 10, 2014 at Farm Park in Norristown benefitting Laurel House Shelter of Norristown.  Laurel House has been providing a safe and secure refuge for victims of abuse and their children for the last 33 years. By fo…

For Melissa

There are days that don’t make sense.There are days that make you want to go back to sleep until you can wake up and find out you were just having a terrible dream.Unfortunately, you don’t wake up and are instead left to pick up the pieces so you can try and understand why.Today is one of those days.
A bright, colorful, free spirit, who I was honored to know and call a friend, left this world last night. She made the world a more beautiful place with her rainbow of bold colors and the limitlessness of her heart.Even though the sun is shining outside of my window, today is a bit darker and gloomy without Melissa Morroney in the world.Yet, even with the darkness, a small part of me is comforted to know that she is looking down on all whom she left behind, enveloping all of us with what are sure to be bright rainbow colored wings.
“The streets of Heaven are too crowded with Angels tonight. Don’t let them be forgotten, don’t let them fade away.” ~Joshua Hill

Movie in My Mind

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about what could have been, should have been and has been in my life.  Like most people, I had a grand plan of what my life would be.  I knew that I wanted my life to mean something, I wanted to use my life to help other people.  In my plan that was going to be through the study of law or maybe psychology.  I was going to get married, have children and use my life to help other people. This was my plan for my life.  This was the plan I had since I was a child.  Unfortunately, as we all know, life barely ever goes according to plan. Sometimes the universe takes your plan and decides it is worthy of complete and total destruction.  It has become apparent to me that my plan was deemed worthy of destruction.
I know I am trying to stay positive, but I promised to be honest and share everything, even the bad days. These last few days have made it very hard to see the glass as being half full.  My heart and soul are aching and I am struggling with …

October 2001

I had a wonderful, yet exhausting session with Bonita on Thursday night.  Another key was turned and another lock was opened. I realized that the pain and trauma from the rape was not the only thing I buried for survival’s sake.  Every traumatic thing, of which there have been many, that has happened was buried and locked away.  I visualize it like a group of nesting boxes, each one holding a secret and, in my case, each one with its own lock and key.    During this session, we opened the box that encapsulated October 2001.  This month would come to be known as the worst month of my life.   This was the month of my grandmother’s death and the beginning of my mom’s coma.  After Gram died, everyone got to go home and grieve her loss…everyone except my dad, my sister and me.  We would be at the hospital sitting vigil at my mom’s bedside praying she would open her eyes.  We did this every day for 6 weeks.  I didn't allow myself to fully grieve Gram’s loss partly because I knew I wou…


I read a meme on Facebook last night that made me burst into tears.  It said, "The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die."
Brave was not even on my radar.  At the time, the only thing I was thinking of was how to make the pain go away and end the torture that each day had become.  The bravery of that night came from Alison, the amazing friend who stood up and refused to take no for an answer when I told her I didn't want to watch a movie.  She knew something was wrong and she didn't leave my side.  I owe my life to her and I am forever grateful.
When I look back at that day, I see someone who was at rock bottom in so many ways.  I was worn down physically, completely destroyed emotionally, and tortured mentally.  I couldn't keep living like that.  The idea of waking up the next morning and going through another day was terrifying. I needed help and I am grateful that I had people around me who knew how to help me, and still do.  I…

Regaining Focus

I have lost sight of something very important recently.  I have allowed my focus to drift away from my goal of healing and have instead been fixated on the wounds that brought me to this point. I have allowed the pain to take over and I have lost sight of the good that has come from this process.
It all started to unravel in July.  The realization that if I hadn't had a miscarriage I would have been celebrating the birth of my first child hit me very hard.  I allowed the grief and depression to keep me from truly celebrating as friends gave birth to their babies.  That on top of a very painful confirmation of a betrayal by a friend left me, needless to say, living in a very dark place.
It is hard to explain to people who have never been in a place like this.  It is hard to describe the utter darkness that takes hold when you are depressed and grief stricken.  The will to be happy is completely erased, making it difficult to see the light and happiness in anything.  It is a physic…

Making Friends with Anger

The last few weeks have been extremely tough.
It has always infuriated me when victims are blamed for their rape.  It doesn't matter how long ago it happened, what the circumstances were, what the victim was wearing, what relationship the rapist has to his or her victim, or if the people involved have been intimate prior to the rape.  If there is no consent, it is rape...PERIOD.  The victim is not to blame.  What happened to her or him is a violation in the worst possible sense of the word. 
I broke my silence 3 years ago and went public just over a year ago.  During that time I have heard and read stories of pathetic people who blame the victim for the rape, but I was, gratefully, never on the receiving end of victim blaming.  That changed a few weekends ago. 
I always thought that if I was on the receiving end of such vile behavior I would be able to defend myself and fight back.  I would never allow someone to make me feel shame about being raped again.  I knew exactly what I w…

Rediscovering My Artistic Spirit

One of the most basic of early childhood activities is coloring.  Like all kids, it was an activity that I loved.  I loved taking a page that was, for all intents and purposes, blank and making it colorful and pretty.  One of my earliest memories in my coloring exploration is from preschool.  I was coloring a bunch of grape at a time.  I didn't want to go outside the lines and make it easier by coloring all of the grapes at once in a sweeping motion, like my teacher suggested.  I wanted to be like my mom, a woman who taught her daughter to see the beautiful potential in a blank piece of paper, and create something beautiful. All through elementary school and high school I continued to draw, color, paint and absorbed everything I could from my teachers.  From these amazing teachers I learned how colors can not only transform a blank canvas or piece of paper, but it can spark powerful emotions.  I learned how negative space can be used to create anything your mind'…

Flashbacks, Panic Attacks and PTSD...Oh my!

The last month or so has been challenging to say the least.  I have been battling a few health issues and a few PTSD flashback /panic attack episodes, one of which was witnessed by my mom and it was pretty bad.  The episodes have come on quickly and, as in the case of the most recent one, without any warning.  One of the things that I am trying to do, either during an episode, or in the aftermath, is to write as much down as I can about it.  I am doing this in the hopes that I will be able to work with Bonita and gain a better understanding of the triggers, better ways to cope and fight back against PTSD.  Unfortunately, I have had some health issues that have been keeping me from getting to Bonita’s office for a while, but I look forward to getting back to work with her. Tonight I got lucky and felt the symptoms coming on and was able to do something about them before it blew up into a full blown PTSD/panic attack episode.  No matter what else is going on, there is a constant thread…

PTSD is a bitch!

PTSD is a bitch! This is one of the few things I can say with complete certainty.

I was diagnosed with PTSD when I was 19 years old. It has waxed and waned over the years, but in dealing with the rape, the loss of my dad and my miscarriage it has roared back into the forefront.  As anyone who has PTSD can attest, it is a very real and often a daily fight.  It is a fight that is seldom spoken about.  At least for me, that stops now. We who have PTSD need to start talking about it so those around us can understand that while we may look perfectly fine on the outside, we are wounded inside.  Those wounds need time and help to heal.  We need help and time to heal.  We need the understanding, patience and love of those around us and those who care about us to not only continue to fight this battle, but to win it.

To explain a PTSD to someone who has never experienced it before is akin to trying to explain why there is a different sunset each evening.  There are some things that may be be…

The Art of Butterflies

Butterflies are a symbol of rebirth and renewal.  A caterpillar, this weird looking bug, goes through a magnificent transformation, shedding everything that happened in its previous life, to become this delicate, graceful and truly stunning creature we call butterflies.   I love butterflies and all that they symbolize.  I have a few butterfly tattoos on my back, with each representing something or someone important in my life. My fourth one is in the works as a tribute to my dad.  I love butterfly art too. Before we had a house fire, I had paper mache butterflies hanging from the ceiling in my bedroom.   When I was in my sophomore year of college I hit the roommate lottery!  I lived in a suite with two of the greatest suite mates imaginable, Melissa and Carolyn.  We had were nothing alike at first.  I was the girl who was more comfortable in pajamas than anything else.  I liked WWE Wrestling, loud music and cursed like a sailor.  My ability to string profanities together in a coheren…

Back to November

I started this blog as a tool for healing and as a means of helping people who have gone through or are going through similar things that I am.  No one going through trauma should feel they are alone.  I said there would be 100% honesty on my part.  I would talk about the good days and the bad days openly.  I have done that, with one exception.  It is something that only my mom and a few very close friends have known about, until now. In November 2012, I had a miscarriage.  I was about 4-5 weeks into the pregnancy.  It was not planned by any means, and came about because the guy I was dating was an asshole who didn't use the condom I gave him to use.  I didn't know he didn't use the condom until after the fact.  I am a firm believer in practicing safe sex and I take the birth control pill religiously, but I was on an antibiotic that made it ineffective.   Needless to say I was not a happy camper and I have not spoken to him since.  He was not the person he presented himsel…

Reflections from the Walk

It has taken a week of reflection to gather my thoughts from the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.  I have been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster since the event.  It took a few days for it all to even fully sink in.  Now that it has, I can honestly say that I am in awe of the people I had the honor of meeting there and still amazed that so many men willingly put on high heels just to stand up and walk with us. 
I was nervous about speaking about my rape in public.  I know that I tell my story here, but it is different when you see the faces of those you are writing to and getting an immediate reaction from those faces.  I was grateful to my mom for being there with me, supporting me, like she always has.  She has been my rock through all of this.  One of the people I had the honor of meeting was a 16 year old girl, named Kaitlyn, who was also there to tell her story.  Kaitlyn was sexually assaulted when she was 15.  She had the courage to press charges against her attackers. We de…

My Speech from the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event on May 4, 2013.

I was truly humbled by the amazingly brave women, and the men who were there to walk a mile in high heel shoes for them, that I met at the event.
Here is the transcript of the speech I gave at this event.

Good morning!  I would like to thank the Philly WAM Girls for their work and dedication to this cause.  I am honored to be a part of it.  We are all here for a common purpose.  We are here to stand up for victims of sexual assault and gender violence.   My name is Valerie Ricapito and I am a rape survivor.  I am here today to stand up for myself and for those like me.  I am standing up here today because I will no longer be silent.  I am here today to tell you my story.  I was raped 13 years ago and for 10 of those years I remained silent, never pressing charges, just hoping it would be like a bad dream and eventually fade off into the distance.   I was filled with shame, guilt, anger and embarrassment over what happened.  You see, at the time of my rape, I was a peer educator at my un…

One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

With every healing and recovery process there are bound to be some setbacks.Monday was a setback for me, but it was also a step forward. Over the years I have developed coping skills to deal with triggers when they occur.Unfortunately, without going into much detail, the triggers on Monday snowballed and none of my coping skills worked.I know that I am already on high alert because of the work Bonita and I are doing. As Bonita has told me, we are starting to stir up my subconscious and things are bound to come to the surface and get a bit angry.She said that when things become too overwhelming the best thing to do is care for myself in whatever way I see as best, so long as it is not self-destructive.Back in my teens and early 20s, my way of coping was by cutting.Those few minutes of external pain would give me a chance to breathe and momentarily escape the internal torture I was experiencing.I justified it by thinking that I never cut deep and I always made sure to hide it.I know now,…

The Good and the Bad

I promised that I would talk about it all here…the good days, the bad days, the days when I am inspired and positive, and the days that I just want to curl up in bed and be left the fuck alone.  Today is definitely one of the “I want to curl up in bed and be left the fuck alone” days.  
I had another great session with Bonita last night.  She has warned me that as we begin to get into the core work it may get worse before it gets better.  She added that I may start to have weird or intense dreams because we are stirring up my subconscious, and it will not be happy with me. I am happy she reminded me of that or else waking up this morning with my head a bit of a jumble would have been a bit more startling.
I have been sitting here, staring at a blank page for almost an hour.  I want to say something helpful, something hopeful, but right now nothing will come out of my head that is even close to those two things.   Today was painful.  Today was exhausting on every single level.  Today w…

The Acceptance of My Worth

Imagine a piece of fabric that is all at once extremely delicate, yet able to withstand the most intense pressure.Fabric that is both light as air, yet as sturdy and protective as a suit of armor.Something that is magnificent to gaze upon, yet weathered and worn from experience – complete with tears, holes and frayed edges.How would you begin to repair it? This is the image I have in my head each time I step foot in Bonita’s office for a session, except the fabric in question is me. We are in the process of identifying all of the areas in need of repair.Slowly moving on to a plan of delicately mending the damage – choosing the right thread and the perfect stitch so it can never come undone or be destroyed again.With every session, every “ah-ha moment,” I feel the needle pierce my spirit with a soothing pain that only healing can bring; its thread binding together the torn pieces with precision and strength. With each stitch I am starting to feel stronger, more alive, and closer to the …

Crossing Over

Over my last two sessions, my amazing counselor, Bonita, and I discussed healing and what that means, looks like and feels like.  She said something a few weeks ago that stuck with me because it was the first, to borrow a phrase from Oprah, “Ah-Ha moment” I have ever had in counseling.  When I feel stuck, scared and powerless in this journey, Bonita told me to remember that “the intention of healing is powerful. “  As a rape survivor “powerful” is not something I am accustomed to feeling, no matter the circumstance or intention.  With that being said though, I am beginning to understand what Bonita means more and more each day.  When you cross over from identifying as a victim to identifying as a survivor it is a truly profound moment.  It is the moment in which you consciously decide that your healing must begin because living under the label of “victim” is no longer sustainable. It is the moment when you get the first glimpse of what life will be like when you fully reclaim your …

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes - EVENT

Please join me on May 4, 2013 in taking a stand against gender violence!  Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is benefiting Laurel House Shelter of Norristown.
I am honored to have been asked to speak at this extraordinary event. Come out to walk, meet Preston Elliott from the Preston & Steve show on WMMR, and have fun in the process of supporting a worthy cause!
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® is the international men's march which encourages men to walk one mile in women's high-heeled shoes to protest rape, sexual assault & gender violence. Our Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event will be held May 4, 2013 at Farm Park in Norristown benefitting Laurel House Shelter of Norristown.  Laurel House has been providing a safe and secure refuge for victims of abuse and their children for the last 33 years. By focusing on the positive aspect of a community coming together around this topic, the Walk …

Inspiration and Definition

I watched an episode of Dateline NBC about the rape and murder of Kenia Monge and the rape, beating and attempted murder of Lydia Tillman.  I watched their stories unfold and was in awe of Lydia's courage, strength, heart and her unbelievable capacity to forgive.  At the sentencing of the monster who raped her, beat her so severely that she was unrecognizable even to her sister, and then tried to cover it all up by dousing her in bleach and setting her on fire, Lydia was able to do something extraordinary.  Through a written statement delivered by her father, since, as a result of what happened to her, she had a stroke and still needed to learn how to speak again, Lydia Tillman forgave the man who did this to her.  She said she no longer wanted to live with hate and anger in her heart.  She chooses, instead, to live life through an acronym for her name: Live Your Days Inspired Anew (L.Y.D.I.A).
I am amazed and inspired by Lydia.  She walked into the courtroom shortly after being …

The Culture of Arrogance

I had started this posting as something much different than what it has become.    Since the verdict in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case was handed down yesterday I feel that this is something that must be addressed now, rather than later. 
For those of you who don’t know about this case, two high school football players, one 16 and one 17, were found guilty of the rape of a 16 year old girl.  She was unconscious and unable to consent.  The town of Steubenville, Ohio is the typical American small town, with its pride determined by the victories of the high school football team.   With this pride came a town, complete with parents, who turned a blind eye to the hard partying, drinking and wild lifestyles of the football players.  Bartenders would serve these under age kids and liquor stores would sell to them.   There were no consequences for the behavior of these players because they were the pride of the school and the focal point of a town that had been hit hard by the economic do…