PTSD Relief Fund for Lindsay & Minnesota
Organized by: Lindsay Brown
Team Lindsay invites you to stand with us.
For the past year, Lindsay has been so ill that she has not been able to work. Her stress level has been so high that she didn’t realize she was sick with something else…let alone that she could have qualified for housing assistance (Section 8).
Unemployment funds ran out in February, and as she struggled with her illness, Lindsay fell behind on rent, as well as car payments, and phone and Internet bills.
The severe illness she’s been battling is PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
When veterans suffer from PTSD, we know that if they aren’t able to return to work right away, it doesn’t mean they’re lazy or entitled. If they use Section 8 benefits, disability payments, or other assistance, we understand they need and deserve that assistance. (At least, the people understand, whether or not the government does.)
Rape survivors with PTSD have often had the opposite treatment: they’ve been ignored, doubted, and usually expected to keep going with life as normal.
PTSD symptoms can be just as bad for survivors as they are for veterans. We have to do better to raise awareness, and make sure survivors are taken seriously. Let's be the change we wish to see in the world.
Lindsay wants to do that. She’s currently working as an intern with womenwinning’s new program, Political Leaders of Tomorrow. She volunteers and works hard to support female candidates running for office. She wants to run for office herself, so she can write legislation to help prevent sexual assaults, and to protect survivors.
Lindsay made us promise to make a point of saying any amount, no matter how small, would be so appreciated. But we hope you’ll give generously. Every penny is worth it for her, and for all the others she’ll be able to help as a State Representative.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
If you’d like a more in-depth look at what life has been like for her, below is Lindsay's story in her own words.
Dear friends, family, and future campaign supporters,
I want to follow my friend Lindsey Port's example, and stop being afraid and ashamed to tell you: in 2007, I was raped.
By someone I loved, and thought I could trust. Partly, this was why I didn't recognize what he did as rape, until 2015, eight years later. (Statute of limitations: 5 years.)
I didn't know why, but I felt dead inside for years. I walked around with translucent visions of my own funeral seemingly projected in front of me...without consciously stopping to think how strange this was. My passion for dance and the performing arts faltered, and nearly faded away completely.
The girl I had been before the rape was gone, and I could never get her back. It broke my heart. She had essentially been killed, and I was grieving her death. I was an empty shell for a long time. I had a huge identity crisis, and finally, a loss of identity.
I pushed through the emptiness and anguish. I didn't know why, but I was sick to my stomach a lot. I threw up in trash cans on the NYC subway platforms, and kept walking. I lived my life, working overtime, dancing, seeing friends and family, dating...
But like a beach ball you hold underwater as long as you can, unaddressed feelings can't stay down forever. Eventually, they're going to pop up, quickly...and unceremoniously.
I made it about 8 years before I reached that point, which came in May 2015. I could no longer work efficiently, could no longer function properly. I tried; boy, did I try. But while in the process of officially establishing reasonable accommodations through HR at work, I was (very wrongfully) terminated.
I broke down completely at that point. Severe depression set in. I could barely get off of the couch for months, even to go to bed.
I was finally diagnosed with PTSD earlier this year.
I’m much better now than I was. Over the past year, I’ve dealt with the worst of the symptoms. I've woken up screaming in the middle of the night. Sometimes, I’ve skipped going running because I just didn’t have it in me that day to deal with catcalls, and the heightened fear of being suddenly attacked by a stranger. Often, I’ve found myself unable to finish sentences, drifting off in the middle. Sometimes I still tremble or shake visibly for no apparent reason.
I've had panic attacks when I’ve needed to confront the issue head-on. Like when I finally confronted my rapist in March; and like when I read the Stanford victim’s letter to her rapist, just before it went viral. That letter hit very close to home. It contained words that provided a final piece of my trauma puzzle; that made my rape finally feel 100% real. I threw up.
Meanwhile, unemployment benefits didn't go very far. When they ran out, I started to get behind on rent while I struggled to get back on my feet; and while I continued searching for a job I thought I could handle in my weakened, less-than-sharp, traumatized state. I felt incompetent, although I knew better.
I've also been alone a lot. Dating in this state of mind and health...hasn’t gone terribly well. I missed my chances with a few wonderful young men because I was subconsciously TERRIFIED of being raped again, and desperate for the protection of being in a relationship. That made me clingy and awkward, even a little scary, and they wisely backed away.
Whatever the trauma, I think PTSD is the feeling of having your soul violated. You can't reconcile yourself with having witnessed and been part of such an unnatural, horrific crime against your soul, and against nature. It's having your former self ripped away, while you watched, powerless to have stopped it. Yet you drive yourself crazy thinking over and over: if only I had done this...or hadn't done that...maybe it wouldn't have happened.
If there’s anything good about all this, it’s that the breakdown forced me to face and begin to accept the reality that I had been raped, allowing me to start the healing process.
I’ve been fighting my way back during this past year. I’ve faced down some very difficult aspects of what happened to me. Therapy 3x/week has been very helpful. It’s been excruciating at times. Emotionally exhausting. But very productive. For the first time, I can honestly say that I’m on the mend.
Now for the silver lining; what I want to do about this; and how you can help...
This experience has changed my life, and recently inspired a new passion: public service. I want to eventually seek elected office in the Minnesota State Legislature. It's something I've always had in the back of my head, actually; but I didn't necessarily want to be on the federal level, and until a couple of years ago, I didn't have much awareness about local and state-level government. Which, it turns out, is a great way to really make a difference in people's lives.
This is a lot like Lindsey Port's experience. She's running right now for a State Representative seat. I'd like to follow her in a few years. It’s been a joy to meet and build connections in Duluth with many fellow progressives. So many people who care about what I care about. I volunteered on County Commissioner Frank Jewell’s campaign in 2014, and Mayor Emily Larson’s, last year.
I’m now on our State Senate district’s Executive Board. I've started a fantastic internship through womenwinning, called “PLOT,” or “Political Leaders of Tomorrow.” I'm working on a friend’s campaign here in Duluth, for a House seat, Liz Olson. Whenever it is that Jen Schultz decides to vacate her seat, I'd like to run to replace her. That, or I might end up living and running in a different district.
Here’s some of what I want to do in office:
- Write legislation to abolish statutes of limitations for sex crimes completely. It took me nearly 9 years to understand that what had happened truly was a rape, while the statute of limitations in the state it occurred is only 5 years; and this is very common. Processing something like this often takes a lot of years.
- I want to make it illegal to treat these cases as low priority, "un-winnable” cases, and toss them on some back closet shelf with all the rape kits gathering dust.
- I want rape shield laws to be stronger and broader so that a victim can't be bullied on the stand about her personal life. Or about any history she might have with the man in question. Or asked things like, “Well, you agreed to see him again after that, didn’t you?” and “Well, if you don't remember, how do you know you didn't like it?”
Overall, I want to write legislation to help reduce the incidence of these crimes; as well as to better protect survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
Plus, we NEED more women in government, in general! We are SORELY underrepresented! We often have ideas men would never think of, especially around the issues women struggle with the most. Which are many of the ones that have yet to be fully, properly addressed.
When I run, it won’t be just on this issue. This is very important; and so are hundreds of other matters of concern for Minnesotans. I’m excited to work on those, too.
To get there, I have to get past the last of this…rough patch, to put it mildly.
As for how you can help...
Being that I’m several months behind, I have to come up with a portion of back rent, $1437.50, by the 15th. If not, eviction will proceed at the end of this month (July).
I'm job-hunting diligently; but right now, with panic attacks and my brain not being up to 100%, I can't bank on being able to handle just any job I can get quickly, as opposed to something that fits well with my strengths and weaknesses, skills, etc. Over the past few years, as I've fought through depression and PTSD, I've found that out the hard way.
I'm on a wait list for Section 8 housing assistance; but that wait list is several months long. The good news is, if I can squeeze through until my name hits the top of that waiting list, I’ll be in a good spot, since my landlords already accept Section 8, and the neighborhood is okay. I feel safe here. I don’t plan to stay on assistance any longer than necessary, but right now, it's a reasonable way to go.
If I can, I think it's worth it to squeeze through until one of those things comes around (job or assistance) instead of uprooting everything I've built here in Duluth to go live with my parents in Michigan. That way, I can fufill my commitment on the SD 7 Executive Board; keep my valuable internship; keep working toward my goals; continue to see my therapist, who is a trained PAVSA advocate; and I can keep my very good, bafflingly affordable healthcare plan. MinnesotaCare is something pretty unique and surprising. It's almost like having socialized medicine. There's nothing like it in most, if not all, other states. Without it, I don’t know where I would be.
It's hard for me to accept help like this, but...it takes a village, and sometimes things are just too much for one person. Sometimes, you have to let the village come together for you.
I hope you’re as excited as I am about my new path! If you’re supportive of it and would like to help me make it a reality, I hope you’ll consider a donation.
Anything you’re willing and able to contribute, no matter how small the amount, I'll so appreciate and be so grateful for.
Thank you. I love you all.