While I was incarcerated, I often found myself isolated and alone struggling with not only mental health issues, but the emotional abuse of correctional officers, doctors and even psychologist and wardens.
I was threatened with physical violence by inmates (and staff), sexually molested and sexually bullied and physically attacked on three occasions. It was the indifference of those who were there to protect me that caused most of my prison related trauma. This indifference and overt and covert bullying by staff often landed me on suicided watch.
One day I lay on my back looking up at the ceiling in the cold cold cell–the suicide watch cells are so cold my fingertips turned blue–I whispered, “Who Speaks for Me?” Prison is ripe for abuse as it is an isolated world of its own. The prison system answers to itself and we women often have no outside help to speak up and advocate for us for medical needs, access to productive and ongoing mental health treatment, or meaningful programing.
Although I suffered at the hands of some fellow inmates and officers and other staff, I did not become bitter. I am proud of all the work I did to help fellow incarcerated women receive sentence reductions, court ordered visits with their children and receiving more halfway house time. When I was leaving prison, several of the women asked me, “Taylar how will we get in touch with you for help when we get home?” I told them, google “Who Speaks for Me?” and you will find me.
Although I am just getting this blog started, I have been doing what I promised to all those women I left behind. I wake up every morning wondering what I can do to make the world know how we suffer in silence. Slowly, I am educating the criminal justice reform movement that women are incarcerated too and that they must include us in their advocacy for change. We are women: mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, and sadly grandmothers who go to prison and jail. I hope this blog starts shedding the public light on our needs and issues.
If you need help or just want to share your story, please inbox me here or on my Facebook page. I will do what I can to connect you with people or organizations to help you. Everything is confidential.
Lastly, this is a safe space. I have to approve all comments and if you harass me or any commentaries I agree to publish, you will be blocked. So, be kind and remember Grace.
With love and compassion
Survivor, Advocate, Writer, Mother