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Author Topic: Help!
Matt_00
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I need help! My GF was sexually assaulted 3 months ago. We've been together for 3 yrs now. I'm 23 and she is 21.
I understand she is going to need time to heal and overcome this. I've been reading about it trying to help her the most.

She wants to have sex again. We tried but it was not what we expected. She was tense, clenching fist and holding her breath. I stopped but she's got now the idea that I dont like her because of the assault.

I've been trying my best but I dont know what to do!

Is there anything I can do? I talked to her but she keeps saying its ok and she wants to do it. This is a serious relationship, I dont want to mess with her mind.

Please tell me somethin.

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Robin Lee
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Hi Matt_00 and welcome to Scarleteen,

I'm so sorry to hear that your girlfriend was assaulted, and glad to hear how supportive you are being, and want to be, of her.



First, I want to check in about whether she's getting any sort of support with her healing process, such as from a counselor or a support group. Does she have other people in her life who know about the assault and are supportive of her? I'm asking because I want to make sure that you're not her primary support in her healing process, as that likely isn't going to be healthy for either of you in the long-run.

In terms of sex, I'm sorry to hear that you two are struggling so much. Have you shared with her how you feel about it, that you don't want to hurt her, and that it's upsetting for you when she's clearly upset during sex? It's understandable that you wouldn't want to continue sexual activity with someone who is clearly distraught, and I'm wondering if you've been able to tell your girlfriend that.

Are you two able to engage in other forms of intimacy--hugging, kissing, snuggling, etc?

--------------------
Robin

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Matt_00
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Thanks for the reply.

Right now I am the only one who knows a out the assault. She promised me to seek a counselor but she keeps postponing the appointment. I read I should not push her so Im giving her space.

I tried to talk to her. I told her I dont need the sex part now but she goes mental everytime I ask her to wait. She keeps saying "Im ok", "Dont you like me anymore"

I really love her, Im planning to marry her and I dont want to be a jerk about this.

Yes. We kiss and hug but everytime I do something like that she gets the idea I want sex and starts acting like she wants it too and ASAP. Sometimes Im afraid to even kiss her because she will get this idea.

Im desperate!

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Robin Lee
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It sounds to me like your girlfriend is really struggling. That's not your fault. Nor is it something you can fix. You can support her, but you can't fix things for her.


I would suggest asking her if she wants to have sex with you because it's something she wants, or if it's because she thinks it's something she's supposed to do for you. I'm also wondering, again, if you've told her what it's like for you to engage in sex with her when it clearly upsets her so much. IN other words, that you do like her, you do want sex with her, but not when it looks like it's hurting her emotionally and physically.


It may be that your girlfriend *is* wanting the sex and that the two of you can talk about ways to make that happen that work for both of you.
Things have changed for both of you now. It's crappy, but that's what's happened. So, if she does want sex, it's important for both of you to sit down and talk through together what you want sexually.

I'd also encourage you to keep encouraging her to seek counseling, or to tell a trusted friend, to talk to someone about this. What we know about surviving and healing from sexual assault is that it's really hard for someone to do their healing process on their own, without talking to and sharing with people.


Many sexual assault centers have support services and sometimes short-term counseling for partners of people who have been assaulted. Do you think this would be helpful to you? If so, I'd be happy to help you find resources in your area.

--------------------
Robin

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Matt_00
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Thanks again.
I know she is struggling and I wish I could fix thing for her.
To be honest I haven't been able to tell her I am uncomfortable because I dont want to hurt her. It feels like I am walking over very thin ice here.

I will try to tell her what you told me. I did tell her that I love her, I like her and that nothing has changed.

I can wait, I dont even want to have sex now. Im confused.

More than counseling for me, could you help me telling me where can I suggest her to go, at the end of the day she is the one who got assaulted, not me.

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Robin Lee
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Hi There,

I think you can tell her what's going on with you in a way that won't be too hurtful to her. It might even help her understand where you're coming from.

I can absolutely help you find resources for her though she's the only one who can decide if she's going to use them. Would you be able to provide me with your zipcode so I can find places most relevant to where you live? If You don't feel comfortable sharing it here you can email it to robin at scarleteen dot com.

--------------------
Robin

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Matt_00
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Sure Its 90063
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Robin Lee
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I'm going to give you a list of organizations that's contained on a Web page of resources. This way, you can locate the organizations that would be best geographically, as I'm not at all familiar with L.A. geography.

http://www.1800victims.org/countySearchResults.asp?id=19

One thing I should mension is that these organizations have hotlines people can call. Calling and talking to someone may feel less formal and less intimidating to your girlfriend than making an appointment for counseling. Talking to someone on a hotline isn't a replacement for counseling, but can be very helpful, and might feel less threatening right now.





You mentioned above that you don't want to hurt your girlfriend. It sounds like you love her, and want the best for her, and that nothing you feel like you need to say to her is cruel. I think it can sometimes feel like, after a loved one has been assaulted, that we need to be extra careful with them. There's certainly some truth in this, but they also still deserve our honesty. Being honest and forthright is one way to actually show that nothing has changed, that our feelings haven't changed. Just thought I'd share that as some food for thought. [Smile]

--------------------
Robin

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Robin Lee
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I just wanted to let you know that I'll be stepping away from the message boards for a couple of hours, but I will be back later today and would be happy to continue talking to you, if you want to keep talking about and getting some support with this.

--------------------
Robin

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Matt_00
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Thank you Robin Lee.

What you said is also true. I may have this need to protect her after being hurt so bad. But its so tricky. I mean, you have to watch out your words, but watch out you dont watch out too much. Its like I need some sort of manual to deal with this and not dying in the meanwhile.

Anyway, I will try to talk to her, again. I will try to be honest and sensitive with all of this. Just remember I am a guy! Things like this are not my especiality.

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Robin Lee
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I don't think there is ever really a way to prepare for something like this, so cut yourself some slack, okay?

I'm not sure what you mean by being a guy making this more difficult for you, but it sounds like you're doing okay. [Smile] You don't have to have all the answers as this isn't something that's going to get "fixed" overnight. It's clear from what you've said here that you love your girlfriend very much.

IN addition to finding in-person help, do you think your girlfriend would find some books or Web sites for survivors to be helpful? I'm also wondering if you'd find it helpful to have some books or other reading material to help you make sense of this a little more.

--------------------
Robin

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Matt_00
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Sorry about the guy thing, I didnt mean it in a bad way.

Books would be okay for me and I will let her know about the ones you recommend for her.

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Robin Lee
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Oh, it's okay. I just really didn't understand what you meant. I'll get back to you by tomorrow morning with some book/resource suggestions.

--------------------
Robin

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Robin Lee
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HI Matt,

How are you feeling about all this today? I have a few resources for you:

Two books that might be helpful:

Bass, Ellen and Collins, Laura Davis, The Courage to Heal - Third Edition - Revised and Expanded: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 3rd/Rev/Up edition, 1994

Feuereisen, Patti and Pincus, Caroline, Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse--A Book for Teen Girls, Young Women, and Everyone Who Cares About Them, Seal Press; 2005

And, an online resource:

The Pandora Project: www.pandys.org

Pandy's has lots of information,aswell as different forums for survivors. They also have a lot of information forpartners of survivors, which you might find helpful.

Your girlfriend isn't alone in having experiencedsexual assault. From what you've described though, it sounds like she's feeling very alone. What do you think of talking about that with her and encouraging her to reach out to someone? The books may help her feel less alone, but it does need to be her choice whether she reads them or not. [Smile]

--------------------
Robin

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Matt_00
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Thanks for keeping in touch!

Last night my GF and I had a huge fight over this. I dont know if we are going to be able to pull through but I will find the way to let her know about the books.

You know? All I hear lately (or all I read) is that its her choice whether or not seek counseling, but I dont think I can do much if she keeps acting the way she does. I love her but I cant do more. Im trying.

Lately its all about sex with her. Is that even normal? Shouldnt she be afraid of sex for some time?

Again I will try to let her know about the resources you gave me. Thanks.

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Heather
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You know, after a sexual assault, a lot of survivors want to try and hold unto their claim of their own sexualities, if you can follow that.

It might help to understand that rape isn't sex: it's a very different thing to be assaulted than it is to engage in consensual sex. But that can feel blurry after assault, and that's part of why some survivors feel pretty hungry to have consensual sex: to be in control of a sexuality it can feel like their rapist hijacked.

As well, survivors can feel very worried that rapes "ruined" them when it comes to sex, or that sexual partners will see them as ruined, which might be part of why she's been so freaked when you've been trying to put the brakes on.

Mind, none of that means you shouldn't set the limits you need: you still should. And you get to be uncomfortable, and get to not have sex you don't feel okay about. And none of that stands in her way of reclaiming her own sexuality, either: she can do that without any partner at all.

One thing you can perhaps do is just reassure her that you are still attracted to her, you do still want to be sexual with her, you just have your own reactions to this, and also aren't feeling comfortable being sexual in the way she is when it seems so clear she's acting out of trauma more than out of a desire for real intimacy with you.

Know what I mean?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Just realized if any of that is still unclear, a comparison might help.

Have you, or has anyone you know, ever been hurt somewhere? Like, mugged or robbed in their neighborhood, or a park they like? Or even, say, as a kid, did you ever hurt yourself doing something you really liked?

If so, you might be familiar with or understand that sometimes, we'll want to get back to that neighborhood and walk in it again so we can feel safe again and take it back for ourselves. Or do that thing we liked where we got hurt because we liked it, and want to like it again.

Again, NONE of this is to say you have to have sex with her, or that not doing so is somehow doing something bad to her: it's not. Rather, I'm just offering that up to help you try and understand where she might be coming from.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Matt_00
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Im only putting the breaks one because its very clear she is struggling with this. Of course I still feel atracted to her, I HAVE TOLD HER! To me it could be very easy to just ignore the fact she is shaking in fear and well just have sex with her.

But like I said before, this is a serious relationship. We have been together for 3 yrs, I know her from 8 yrs. We have been through a lot in that time.

Of course I want to be sexual with her, and I dont feel uncomfortable with her, I am just uncomfortable with her FEELING PAIN.

But looks like what ever I say its going to be used against me for now.

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Heather
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I'm not sure what you mean that it could be easy for you to still engage in sex with her while she's "shaking in fear." If that's true, even if you're choosing not to, that's perhaps something we should talk about.

I'm not sure what you mean by how anything you say could be used against you. used against you by whom? And to what end?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Matt_00
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Sorry if I wasnt clear about it. What I meant was that it could be easy for me to just have sex with her (and get over with it) even knowing she is scared and in denial. But thats something I am NOT going to do. Because I know its just wrong.

What I mean with "everything I said is going to be used against me" I was talking about her and only her misinterpreting my words. If I say "We need to wait" she only hears "I dont want to be with you". If I say "I love you and I want to get you help" she only hears "I dont want to be with you"

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Heather
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If you want to talk about why you feel that would be easy for you, we can. because ultimately, while it's great you know that's wrong, I also find it troubling you don't feel that would be very hard to do with someone, if not abhorrent.

(And if that's something you're saying to her, that you *could* have sex with her even if she was scared, I'd strongly advise you not to do that. That's going to be incredibly triggering to someone who has just been assaulted, because that's voicing the same kind of mindset -- save without the social controls -- the person who assaulted her had.)

It may be with her that right now, she's simply so in her trauma, she just can't hear you at all. I know that's got to be really tough: it is tough. But it also sounds like it might be wisest for now to take some space, and maybe make clear that for the time being, you need sex to just be off the table, full-stop: for your own good, and for what you feel is her own good. Certainly for the good of your relationship.

If she just can't handle your no's right now, that really is on her. perhaps obviously, it's no more okay for her not to hear your no's, or to try and manipulate around them, than it was for the person who assaulted her not to hear hers.

But if she's just not hearing you right now, and saying no to sex is equaling giant fights, it might be that the best thing you can do for everyone is to just hold your own lines -- including holding a line where you are asking her to get help from someone qualified, because you acre about her and your relationship -- and also hold a line about not getting into fights. You two might have a talk soon about what you feel you can both do to get through this, together and separately, in a way that's healthy for both of you.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Matt_00
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Ok. Lets be clear about this, maybe I am not using the right words.

I would NEVER do something like having sex with her (or anyone) knowing it could hurt. Maybe I shouldnt be saying that "It could be easy for me" when what I meant is that it may be the easiest way out... NOT EVER the right one. (I really hope you understand me this time)

I think you are right on what you said about my boundaries. I do need some space from her right now. But at the moment she only has me, How can I just back off letting her alone by herself?

Im having another conversation with her tonight. I will try to not say anything about getting help this time.

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Heather
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I think I understand. Sorry if I didn't at first.

You know, unless you have kept her from making and keeping friends or family, it's not on you if she truly has no one else in her life. That's really hers to own, and not yours to try and compensate for.

Especially since, with this, she CAN have others in her life. You live in an urban area where she COULD connect with a counselor, with a support group and other supports with this. She has the right to choose to do that or not, but if she chooses not to, then "having only you," is a choice she's making.

But what you can't do -- ever, even when someone hasn't been assaulted -- is be someone's everything. No one can do that, and no one should: it's just not healthy for anyone.

I see no reason not to talk about getting help. But maybe it might help to be sure you are saying YOU need the help, too? In other words, you can't be her counselor: you're not qualified, and are also in a position where you'd be too biased to do that even if you were. You can't be her support team: you're just one person. You can be part of that team, and you can support her in counseling or healing, but you can't do all she needs by herself, and you also can't take care of yourself well if you try.

She was hurt, for sure, but you're also a person in this, one who also needs care and consideration. Without it, you're not good to either of you.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Matt_00
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That is definitly much to think about. So I will.

I dont agree with some things you said (no offense) maybe because its just hard to. But I know you are right.

Thanks for your time and I'll se what I can do next.

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Heather
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Well, we don't have to agree (and I'm not offended: you get to disagree!), but if you want to talk about that, we can. Or not, up to you. [Smile]

[ 06-07-2013, 01:11 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Matt_00
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I know you are right. I really do.

But it feels wrong letting her alone with all of this. Simple as that. You can call it guilt, or a need to be her heroe, but I just love her. She has been with me in my darkest times.

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Heather
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I hear you saying that it is up to YOU if she is alone in this or not, not up to her.

Do I have that right? If so, how is that so? Are you keeping her from connecting with other people? If not, how is who she connects with up to you, not up to her?

You know, it might help to hear -- if you haven't been through trauma yourself -- that to heal from it, we're actually not helped by someone else being our "hero." We need to be our OWN hero.

That's where we get strength and a sense of self again: no one else can do that for us. And if and when we let other people try, instead of doing that for ourselves, we generally only put off the inevitable where we HAVE to learn to do that, or else care for ourselves, our sense of who we are, all of the good, important stuff, winds up in someone else's hands, and at the whim of someone else. And that's not empowerment, and it won't feel like it, either.

The best anyone else can do is support us in that, in learning to be our own hero, in getting what kind of help and care we need, and sometimes, in challenging us to take care of ourselves when we're not doing that or not doing it well. You can certainly be her hero in those ways, without kind of (and not on purpose, of course, you obviously care about her a lot) taking her own empowerment away from her or keeping her from it.

[ 06-07-2013, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Matt_00
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Im not keeping her from anyone. Im just saying she only disclosed to me about the assault. So thats where the "im the only she has" comes from.

I understand every word you said and as I said I will think about it so I can understand even better.

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Heather
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But again: that's her choice. There are safe people she can choose to disclose to. If she chooses not to, that's her right, but that also means SHE is choosing to isolate herself in this.

You having healthy limits and making space you need to take care of yourself, and also acknowledging that you can't do all of this for her well, no matter how much you care about her, all by yourself isn't something that's about isolating her. Nor does doing that mean you're abandoning her, or leaving her to do this totally on *her* own. If she chooses that, she gets to, but once more, if she does, that'll be her choice.

You know, we have had users over the years who are in places where they truly do NOT have anyone they can tell: no rape crisis centers, a culture that is very cruel to victims, family members who would abuse them if they told, etc. Even then, just one person trying to take care of that person would be a problem, but this isn't that situation at all, you know?

[ 06-07-2013, 01:44 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Matt_00
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I know.
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Heather
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You know, the same women that wrote "The Courage to Heal," which Robin suggested, made a book for partners you might find useful.

As well, many rape crisis centers offer resources or services for partners. So, maybe even if she's not ready to check out one of those centers and seek out some help, you might find it of great benefit to check them out for yourself?

This *is* really hard stuff, after all, and not just for her, even though obviously, it's a very different kind of hard for her than it is and will be for you. But it is also very hard on partners, and is particularly tough to try and feel your way through when you're young. So, while you won't need the same kinds of help, you will probably need some help, too, like you've been seeking out here.

I do think it's important, at the very least, to remind yourself often that you clearly are doing your best here: you are obviously trying very hard to be a good partner in this and to do what you can for her. That's a big deal, and it's also a big thing.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Matt_00
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Thanks.
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