Facing Fear – Revisiting the airport where I was sexually assaulted by security. (Stansted Airport)

So I am going to be going back to Stansted Airport where I was sexually assaulted by the security/TSA during a pat down. I’ve had so many times where I have bursted into tears since this has happened because of what I experienced. When I reported to the airport they didn’t really care. And when I lost my very sentimental hat because I was going through shock they didn’t even offer to replace it.

But I am facing my fear of going back there as I can’t let one bad person ruin my life. Since speaking up there have been a good amount of people that have said similar has happened to them. And not just at airports but by security at concerts as well.

I have been sexually assaulted as a kid and even raped. The amount of trauma this airport visit has caused me has been extremely intense. Not only did I cry after security throughout the airport and the entire flight. It ruined my vacation wwhich was meant to be a happy time. It caused me problems at my job. It caused me problems in my marriage. And it still causes me a great amount of PTSD!

I truly believe the airport security needs to find better ways to handle these situations. I find it unacceptable for staff to be unprofessional during these searches and abuse their power. The problem is the airport will always deny that their employees have done anything wrong to keep them from getting sued.

Less than 24 hours until I have to face my fear. I will update when I feel safe enough to do so.

Okay so we missed our alarm clock this morning

The race to the airport was on and trying to escape Notting Hill Carnival!

We arrived at the airport and luckily enough a nice man signed off on my boarding pass as I am not EU and need a stupid check.

Our fast pass wait time was less than 5 minutes. Then the scary moment happened the beeper went off. I didn’t even wear a belt! I question the lady and she said it beeps to do a random checks not because of metal or anything that set it off.

I got scared as I went to the other line as last time I was sexually assaulted. But they did a scan and didn’t touch me. Because what I learned from last time is when I was quiet they didn’t care. So you better believe this time I would be screaming if it happened again.

But apparently my mini bottle of body spray needed to be scanned. There was more staff at the airport and they seemed friendlier.

This experience was a lot better than last year. I am so glad I was not assaulted this time.

……

Upon my return to UK my entry was fast. American electronic passports can now be scanned at the gate. It felt nice not having to show my Visa and get my fingerprints done. Maybe we can think Sparkle Markle for this for hor marriage to royalty! Just kidding!

Achieving your goal vs what you become from achieving your goals!

Zig Ziglar -What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

I really like this quote!

Say your goal is to plan a trip to London and you have never left American before. Never even left your own state. I am personally from Ohio and a lot of people from Cleveland have never left the state!

So what you would have to do is get your passport.
Then you would have to buy a flight and accommodation.
And you would have to pick what you would want to do while you are there.
Plus you need to plan to budget the money. Food and train tickets.

If you didn’t ever make the trip to London you wouldn’t have learned all of these skills. And by doing this you will be more likely to plan trips to other destinations. You will become more inspired and self confident in yourself!

So it i will be great that you went to London which was your goal but it is even better that you have experienced the entire process as that has now become a huge part of you!

So by traveling to London you are labeled and international traveler. Sure that sounds cool and everything. But look at the bigger picture. You have learned financial planning skills. You have done research on traveling and about the Country and culture itself. It is about everything that goes into creating this experience because it is building who you are as a person. Your friends and family will be amazed by this and ask you a lot of questions based on your experience too. You will be adding value to your life and to the people around you as well.

So I hope you can see the difference!

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2 Nights in Toronto

Hey Good People,

I do apologize. It’s been a while since my last post. Sarah had to get on my tail. And hey, to be honest, sometimes we need a little push from our friends. Sometimes we need to hear from our closest friends “you should do that” or “you deserve this” because let’s face it, sometimes we don’t know what we need.

This past July 4th holiday, I had another friend of mines encourage me do something for myself.  I had just gotten back literally the day before in the wee hours of the morning (I think around 1 AM).  I traveled with my dad and his wife to my cousin’s wedding in the Dominican Republic. I’d had no cell service (only wifi) but I wasn’t complaining. The wedding was beautiful. The weather was amazing, and after getting over my initial jitters, everything turned out excellent.

Well, the day before we were to return home, I get a wifi call from a relative crying that she’d gotten my car towed. Not only that,  she was afraid that I wouldn’t trust her again because of it. Of course I was upset but, me being me, I didn’t get too upset because I let her use it and well, what kind of person would I be to just blow up on someone who’s crying? I’ve been manipulated for so long I automatically take fault and feel guilty for something I didn’t even do. But I digress.

Upon returning home, I stayed over my dad’s house for the night, my house keys being with my car keys with the relative who has fallen asleep by the time we land. Rightfully so, it is 1 AM. So, come the next morning, my dad and I, take this family member to work and also have to babysit because they waited to late to get their child to day care. I get a ride to the impound and not only do I have to pay for the tow, I have to also pay for the other tickets that this same family member got on another car that they never paid for. Over $400 dollars later, I ride off the lot and thank God, my dad treats me and the little one to breakfast, because who knows when I last ate.

Later that day I pick up the relative from work, she pays me half for the tow, and drop her and the little one off. (He’s really no trouble. He’s amazing might I add). I go straight home and pass out. The next morning I sit in bed, exhausted, depleted and feeling not like myself. I won’t say depression exactly, because I do deal with that a lot, but it was something else. I felt like I didn’t have control over my life anymore. With a birthday right around the corner, it seemed as though I hadn’t done anything to celebrate how far I’d come since a year ago.

Talking to a friend of my on the phone explaining these feelings, he finally asked me: “Where do you want to go?” “Canada, Toronto” I say. “Well, go to Canada!” He says, all matter of fact-like. “Yeah, OK.” I’m thinking. I’d just came from an out of country trip and I just came off $400, and here I am about to go on another trip?

He looked up some hotels and found one, right in the heart of Toronto. I checked it out. It looked nice, but really? Go to Canada? Solo? Hmmm. The more and more I thought about it, the more and more I could see it. I could feel it. The exhilaration, the feelings of freedom. I had no responsibilities. No engagements, no one to answer to. I first thought about who I could ask to go with me, but honestly, I knew I was meant to do this alone.

I went on a walk up my street, trying to clear my mind. Was I really going to do this? Upon returning home, after looking at the hotel listings and the area surrounding it, I’d say probably close to 100 times, I booked it. Sure did. Pulled out my sad little credit card and booked it. I. Booked. It. This is a huge deal for me. I’m making the moves, I’m calling the shots. I’m doing what I want to do. No one else’s trip. No one I have to answer to. Just me. For so long I’ve heard people say “oh, you don’t need all that, it’s just you,” or “girl, what you complaining for, it’s just you” so damn it, that’s right: It’s just Me.

I’ve never unpacked and packed so fast in my life. I sent out a quick text to a couple family members on how long I’d be gone and the address of the hotel. I was on the road and down 90 east highway within 2 hours. The sun on my back as I rode and jammed out to some of the most inspirational tunes. Lizzo, Eve, Jessie J, just to name a few.

And I did it! Passed through the border, and hit Toronto running. I checked out the art museum of Ontario, Queen’s Quay, an amazing vegan spot Planta, and a chill-ass jazz club, The Reservoir Lounge. I did what I wanted, didn’t have to ask anyone if they wanted to do something or how long they wanted to stay, and I even talked to some local people who gave me ideas of where to go. I was in control. Those two nights in Toronto were the most time I’d spent alone in a long time. I actually asked myself what I wanted, and I did it without regret.

So I encourage you, whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to do for yourself, do it. Be it a trip, a spa day, or even reading a book that’s been on your list for a while; do it. You deserve to do something you want to do and not feel guilty for it. Other people do what they want to make them feel better. And you, like me, may be one of those people that are always doing for said people. I’m not saying you should never do for others, but sometimes, and a lot more than that, you have to do for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Fill yours to the brim, and let it overflow. That way, you’ll have more than enough for yourself and for others.

Peace,

Ari

Durdle Door

Durdle Door wins my heart! I feel I have seen a lot of England but haven’t been impressed by too much of it other than the lake district. But Durdle Door won my heart this weekend!

It was a 3 hour drive from central-west London. Traffic wasn’t too bad either as we set off early! So glad I didn’t go to Brighton Beach like usual!

If you plan to visit Durdle Door it is well worth it! First of all you will be walking 20 minutes to get to the beach down a kind of steep hill. (Remember you have to walk up this when you leave!) So make sure you wear comfy shoes for the hike! You can pack other shoes for the beach! I took my water shoes and they definitely helped with walking on the little rocks/ pebbles!

Make sure you use the toilet at the top before you go down! Just try to go even if you don’t have to go! Best to empty your tank before this journey!

Pack a backpack with food and drinks! We made sandwiches and froze water bottles the night before! And if it is going to be nice weather take sunscreen! I will tell you hardly anyone used it and they all look like lobsters now! So glad I had mine with me!

When you walk down the path splits. So you get a choice of two beaches. Both with different views that are absolutely stunning!

I felt like I was at a beach in a different country! I definitely didn’t feel like I was in England anymore! It was absolutely beautiful!!!

I really liked that it was more of a family beach too. There weren’t people getting extremely wasted that can’t handle their alcohol acting up and causing problems! So this is something I really appreciated!

I hope you enjoy the photos I took!

Stansted Airport Review – Avoid. Do not use this airport!

I finally have the strength to share my experience. I wrote it when it happened end of last year but was not brave enough to share it. But here it is.

I had the absolute worse experience of my life today. I have a serious medical condition called inflammatory bowel disease. I did not get much sleep as had an early flight. One of the unfortunate symptoms of my disease is explosive diarrhea which I experienced in the toilet before security. When I went through security the gems on my jeans set off the detector. The person checking me was pressing her hand into my side very hard where my colon has inflammation to which I tried numerous times to explain to her not to touch so hard in places where my disease affects my body but I was so scares and feared for my life I couldn’t get the words out. She ignored me and talked over me. It was extremely painful due to her being ignorant, unprofessional and extremely rough. She then touched all over my breasts when it was my jeans that set off the alarm. When I tried to ask her why she touched my boobs when my jeans set off the machine she said she had the job for 14 years and knew what she was doing. She was hurting me physically during the pat-down, verbally by talking over me and not trying to explain what was going on, and has emotionally hurt me very bad. I cried or the next 2 hours because I was so embarrassed and uncomfortable with this process because of my medical condition. I wasn’t offered anyone else when the lady could tell I felt extremely uncomfortable. I feel she hurt me on purpose as she knows she can get away with it as she is a person in power in this situation. She has caused me severe pain and suffering. I pray this will never happen to anyone again with inflammatory bowel disease or they can have an accident. She is lucky I had just gone to the toilet or I would have been soaked in diarrhea because she was very rough. If she has 14 years experience she should be calm and explain things better. I never want to fly from this airport ever again. My holiday that was supposed to be fun has now been ruined and I keep getting pain on my side from where she was trying to push me to the side. I have worn these jeans countless times at numerous airports with no problems at all. I believe the staff member who performed the search is highly insensitive, incompetent and needs a serious review of her actions. I understand that certain security measures are in place which I always do what I can to accommodate however the woman who performed the search on me totally abused her position of power in this situation which resulted in me being hurt physically, emotionally and ruined what was to be a happy holiday. I was so upset that I even forgot my hat which has great sentimental value to me in the terminal because I was in some much shock and emotional distress which I left on a seat before I went to my gate. There is no type of compensation or resolution that can healed the damage that has been caused by this one member of staff of yours. And I will try not to book any of my travel arrangements through this airport ever again.

The airport basically said they person did their job correctly (even though they caused me lots of pain and squeezed me extremely hard.) And they said I complied with her but if I didn’t I wasn’t going to get to fly and go on my trip so I was forced to (I was screaming inside for help as I felt so unsafe and uncomfortable and taken advantage of). I just thought they would have been more empathetic towards me and they weren’t. Even other staff members said it was the worst airport ever.

I just hope nobody has an experience like this. I still suffer from flashbacks.

On the other note since this I have flown quite a bit through other airports and when patted down it was light pats. No squeezing of the breasts or buts and no moving them in circles. So I clearly don’t think my experience at Stansted followed the guidelines. The also didn’t even help me out with my hat either. Every chance they had they made my situation worse.