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BEAUTY Beyond Darkness

by Lilla Benigno

 

Lilla Benigno

 

 

 

Lilla's Art 2

Author and artist Lilla Benigno

 

 

 

When I had discovered my mother was Italian, I was excited because I had heard and read so much about the wonderful large Italian families where everyone loved everyone, where there was always plenty of food and laughter at big long tables. My illusions were all too soon shattered.

So when I began reading this book, I was prepared for the worst. I’d already read some of the author’s posts on Twitter and Facebook, but nothing could have prepared me for what I read within those pages.

Lilla Benigno was born in Sicily; her mother gave birth to 15 children in total, three of whom died. The family was poor, but they managed to eat fairly well. Lilla contracted polio when she was six months old. She only had one arm she could use, and she suffered muscle atrophy in both of her legs. Her lungs were also affected. She pulled herself around on the floor with her good arm. Although her parents did what they could, it was eventually decided it was in her best interests to take Lilla to a Catholic home for disabled children in Milan. She was well cared for, and for the most part, was very happy there. There was good medical care by the nuns and qualified doctors. But she rarely saw her parents; Milan was just too far away for family visits.

Lilla’s true nightmare began when the family emigrated from Sicily to Melbourne, Australia in 1970 when Lilla was 12 years old. Lilla was very happy in the care of the nuns, and she had friends there whom she loved dearly. She had her own bed and there was plenty of food. She didn’t want to leave.

 

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Lilla Benigno at 12 years old

Life was very hard in Melbourne where her father worked long hours to pay the bills and for basic food for such a large family. Her parents were exhausted caring for 12 children on little money. The boys shared one double bed and the girls another, sleeping top and tail. Lilla bore the brunt of her father’s rages and endured sexual abuse by a family member. It finally came to a point when she could no longer stomach her father’s violence and the humiliating verbal abuse he meted out to her. Lilla was lonely and she missed her friends at the Catholic home in Milan. She eventually ran away from home to live on the streets of Melbourne. She was fifteen years old. There she descends into a world of drugs, casual sex, prostitution, and rapes. All this while wearing heavy  iron callipers on her deformed legs. She couldn’t walk far let alone run. The abuse hurled at her for being a “cripple” is heartbreaking.

In my wildest dreams, I had no idea there was an undercurrent  of rape, violence and sexual slavery right in the heart of Melbourne, namely St Kilda and Fitzroy Street at that time.

Lilla endures many months in various rehabilitation centres over her years on the streets, to combat her drug and alcohol addictions. Whenever she drank heavily, she wanted sex, and this invariably led her into very dangerous situations, many of which ended in gang rapes and sexual slavery. Through all of this, Lilla never forgets her mother and her younger siblings. Whenever she made a lot of money, she would take a taxi to her parents’ house and give most of it to her mother. The family was struggling and desperate for decent food and clothing. They had to be careful that Lilla’s father didn’t find out or come home while Lilla was there.

Lilla does meet people over time who genuinely care about her and who help her, but mostly the men who helped her wanted sex, and nothing less. Even a priest who had helped her and in whom she trusted, sexually assaulted her. It is no surprise that she ends up hating the Catholic Church and its god. She used to pray to god, but she realises her prayers don’t achieve anything, and she gives up.

Lilla gets the opportunity to move to Cairns and her life changes for the better. Her mother encourages her in the move and when she falls pregnant with her daughter, Caroline, her mother gives her the strength and support to keep her, albeit over the telephone. During these troubled times in Cairns, her mother is her lifeline. Lilla needs plenty of help to care for her baby, and she does find this in Cairns. She still suffers some dark episodes, but she ultimately finds peace and happiness with her beautiful daughter. During her former drug and alcohol haze in Melbourne she is compelled to give up a daughter and a son, whom she has never forgotten. Her mother has since died, but after growing closer to her while living on the streets of Melbourne, she believes her mother’s spirit is always with her.

Lilla Benigno is a remarkable woman. A woman who has survived so much tragedy, violence and sexual abuse to become the mother she always wanted to be, and a talented artist of some repute. And now she has published a book. I urge you to read it. You will be horrified, overwhelmed, but at the end, inspired.

BEAUTYBeyondDarkness has since been translated into Italian.

-Anne Frandi-Coory 2 May 2016

Also here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myhomelibrary/

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Lilla's Art

Visit Lilla’s Blog here:

 

 

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Let’s face it, Strauss-Kahn is a sleaze.  He lies, forces himself on women, and acts “like a rutting chimpanzee”.  Yet he gets away with it time and again.  He even gets nominated as France’s next President when all around him know of his salacious proclivities.

American prosecutors have dropped all charges against Strauss-Kahn because, they say, his victim lied to the Grand Jury. She also lied about being raped as a refugee, desperate to flee her war-torn country. Well, so did Strauss-Kahn lie, desperate to save face and to save his status in French politics. 

As the old saying goes, “There is the Law, and then there’s Justice”.  There will be no justice in this case; Money and Power win again.  Strauss-Kahn may not now get to be president of France, but rest assured, his political buddies will rally round and find him some other top position on the world stage.
See Post: The Strauss-Kahn Principle & the wealth & power behind him.
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn

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Meanwhile, the hotel maid,  Nafissatou Diallo, has lost her ‘cushy’ job in a plush Manhattan hotel, and will find it difficult to gain similar employment in another top hotel. 
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The victim, Nafissatou Diallo

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US prosecutors have asked a judge to dismiss all criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief accused of sexual assaulting Ms Diallo.

“The nature and number of the complainant’s falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant,’’ the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a filing today. ‘‘If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so.’’

What he really means is: the team of powerful lawyers Mr Strauss-Kahn’s wealthy wife has procured for him, will tear our case to pieces!  Let alone the victim!

After today’s meeting with prosecutors, Ms Diallo’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said that ‘‘Cyrus Vance has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case. He has not only turned his back on this innocent victim, but he has also turned his back on the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in this case’’.

But, prosecutors argue: ‘Although the physical scientific and other evidence establishes that the defendant engaged in a hurried sexual encounter with the complainant,  it does not independently establish her claim of a forcible, non-consenual encounter.’

DNA testing “established that several stains located on the upper portion of the complainant’s hotel uniform dress contained semen that yielded the defendant’s DNA”, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in the motion. Evidence was “consistent with a non-consensual encounter”.

However,  the DA’s office stated that  the physical evidence, while showing a sexual encounter, did not conclusively prove the maid’s assertion that she was assaulted and forced to perform oral sex.

Ms Diallo showed no injuries strongly indicating attempted rape, and slight damage to her undergarments could have occurred from normal wear and tear, the DA’s motion read.

However, other factors, such as the hurried nature of the sex act that resulted in Strauss-Kahn’s semen landing on the maid’s clothing, pointed to a forced encounter. “The encounter between the complainant and the defendant was brief, suggesting that the sexual act was not likely a product of a consensual encounter”.

Another important piece of evidence was the discovery of Strauss-Kahn’s DNA “on both the interior and exterior waistband” of the tights worn by the maid, “as well as on the waistband of the panties”.

The motion said: “These findings suggest that the defendant touched the complainant’s undergarments, but they do not controvert or confirm the complainant’s account that the defendant placed his hand inside her underwear and groped her genitals directly.” A speck of blood found on the bed was from Strauss-Kahn who was suffering a skin condition on his hands and was not thought to be evidence of a struggle, the motion said.

Although prosecutors and police found Ms Diallo’s story entirely credible, she quickly undermined her case by lying to investigators and to the grand jury that indicted Strauss-Kahn, the motion said.

But Mr Strauss-Kahn lied to police and initially stated he was not even in the hotel room at the time of the incident. It was only when DNA evidence showed the semen was from him, did Strauss-Kahn say that the sex was consensual.

Another issue was the prosecuters claim that the victim constantly changed her story about what she did immediately after the alleged attack, ranging from hiding fearfully in a corridor to returning to the room to clean after Strauss-Kahn left. Most seriously, Miss Diallo admitted that she had entirely made up a story during her asylum application to the United States about being gang raped in Guinea.

During one session with prosecutors, Ms Diallo repeated the story with so much emotion that “she cried, spoke hesitatingly, and… even laid her head face down on a table in front of her”. Later, she said “she had entirely fabricated the Guinea attack”.

This lie, prosecutors said, made her fatally vulnerable to cross-examination in court, because Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys would be able to argue to the jury that she had a history of successfully making up sex attacks. “Most significant is her ability to recount that fiction as a fact with complete conviction,” the motion said.

“That she has previously persuaded seasoned prosecutors and investigators that she was the victim of another serious and violent – but false – sexual assault, with the same demeanour that she would likely exhibit at trial, is fatal.”

But, I have to ask, what of Strauss-Kahn’s repeated lying to the Grand Jury, that sex with the maid was consensual, even though evidence proves otherwise?

Ms Diallo’s civil case is still pending against Strauss-Kahn in New York state court in the Bronx. In the suit, which alleges ‘‘violent and deplorable acts’’ occurred in the suite in the hotel, Ms Diallo is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Sources: AAP & Bloomberg

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See Posts:  Strauss-Kahn & his forgotten victims
&   Strauss Kahn & Sarkozy

The DSK Principle:  If you rape, sexually assault, force yourself sexually on a woman, whatever you call it, hire the most expensive lawyers in New York and pay newspaper journos to dig up and print unverified dirt on the accuser via the ‘Murdoch’ method.

Oh, and then ask all your wealthy Jewish friends to “help me out here”.

Once again money and power over-rides the abuse of a woman who does not have the connections or wealth to defend herself.  Talk about a ‘David and Goliath’ situation.

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The Hotel where the maid worked & the headlines

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I can only think about the shame and humiliation this young woman has had to deal with.  I hope she has a support network around her because she is dealing with some of the most powerful and wealthy men in the world, not only DSK as you will see below.

The sordid story of Murdoch ‘hacking’ journos may in the end help the hotel maid who has accused Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault.  We hope!

The New York Post defamatory story about the hotel maid, which rapidly spread globally,  has come unstuck.  And she needs all the help she can get, because it is going to be a rougher ride than it has been so far for her.  If the New York prosecutor goes ahead and drops the case against DSK because of the “unreliability” of the accuser, given what has since come to light, world-wide condemnation will surely ensue.  “A source close to the defence” supposedly “leaked” the information to the NY Post.   Sound familiar?  The further accusation by the Post that the maid was hired through “her Union” who also arranged “clients” for her is also a complete fabrication.  Legal sources say the maid’s attempt to sue the Post for defamation, wont go ahead because she cannot prove she had a reputation to be ruined in the first place!  But she has feelings, she has to find work in the future.  Surely she has lost just as much in her world as DSK has lost in his ?

Serious doubts also have been cast about a  “disreputable drug dealer” whom the maid was ‘phone tapped’ talking to; bragging about how much money she was going to get from DSK.

Erik Wemple writes:

The “defence source” coughed up two key details:

1) That the accuser did special favors for male guests at the Sofitel Hotel and received compensation in return;

2) That her union had placed her there because it knew she would “bring in big bucks.”

After floating that second allegation, the New York Post wrote nearly 30 paragraphs of copy blasting the accuser from various angles. Then it dropped in a denial of the union claim. “These allegations are absurd,” the paper quoted spokesman Josh Gold as saying. “She never registered at our hiring hall. We never sent her for a single interview. We absolutely did not place her at the hotel and we do not track tips.” 

To use the paper’s own language, this “stunning new info”casts doubts on whether the woman was a “hooker,” “working girl,” not to mention a “scam artist.”

The hotel manager, who reviewed the woman he subsequently hired, checked boxes on the evaluation form alongside “Speaks well, expresses ideas adequately”  & “Sincere desire to work” & “Likeable.” On the “overall impression,” the applicant scored a “very good.”

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It gets worse though, so read on:

Abigail R Esman is the source for the article below:

Abigail R. Esman
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DSK And The Billionaire Art Dealer Connection: Conspiracy Or Coincidence?

Jul. 11 2011 – 2:00 pm |

Two French men, both Jewish, both powerful, both wealthy, both part of the art elite, both with strong ties to the United States, one a friend of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the other a potential rival – and both in trouble with the law, in America and in France.  It’s enough to wag even the most apathetic of tongues, and it is, especially in Paris, where some claim both cases smack of anti-Semitism and political conspiracy, while others call it a cautionary tale about the arrogance of power.

This past week, while Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, celebrated the near-collapse of the case against him for alleged rape of a chambermaid at New York’s Sofitel hotel, Guy Wildenstein, scion of the Wildenstein art dynasty, was charged with possession of stolen property and fraud. For Wildenstein, the charges are the latest in a series of criminal investigations and lawsuits that have followed him over the past six years, in which numerous works of art have been seized from the family holdings, which some estimate to be worth $4-5 billion, and possibly even more. Both Strauss-Kahn and Wildenstein are Jewish.  Both have homes in the USA and Paris.  But where Strauss-Kahn was a strong contender to oppose Sarkozy in the 2012 French Presidential elections, Wildenstein is a close friend of Sarkozy and a founding member of his political party, the UMP.

But the connections don’t stop there.  DSK’s wife, the American-born journalist Anne Sinclair, is also the granddaughter of legendary Paris art dealer Paul Rosenberg, who – back in the day — worked closely with Wildenstein’s own grandfather, Georges.  (The Wildenstein art dynasty extends back five generations with the founding of  the Wildenstein Gallery in Paris  in the 1870s.) The two galleries – Rosenberg and Wildenstein – were among the world’s most powerful during the early-to-mid 20th-century, and together represented the works of Pablo Picasso.  Sinclair’s art collection, inherited from her mother, is to some extent shrouded in secrecy; and while the contents of the collection are not entirely known, ArtInfo.com estimates its worth at “tens of millions of euros.” (In truth, it may well be worth significantly more than that, given the number of Picasso works alone – possibly reaching into the billions, or near it.)

Now, here’s where the story gets tricky.  ArtInfo also reports that “Much of Paul Rosenberg’s collection was looted by the Nazis, and, though the family has obtained restitution for several works, it is thought that many more have not been returned to their rightful owners.”  Match this with the fact that, along with the lawsuits and criminal investigations plaguing Wildenstein, some Jewish families allege that the Wildensteins – though Jewish themselves – cooperated with Nazi officials from time to time.  And many of the lawsuits against Guy Wildenstein have been filed by the families and descendants of  French Jews,  who contend that works left in the care of the Wildenstein family for safekeeping during WWII still remain in the Wildenstein vaults.  In January of this year, French police raided the Wildenstein Institute in Paris, seizing various works by Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, and others, which Jewish families  and others claim were stolen (or at least, should have been returned to them, and were not).    Were any of these works once in the Rosenberg collection? Are they part of what should have been Sinclair’s inheritance?

Anne Sinclair’s name has not come up in any of the investigations or lawsuits surrounding the Wildenstein affair. But it is certain that she knows — and is likely friends with –  other wealthy, (Jewish) French  families who are involved, especially the Rouarts — descendants of collector Anne-Marie Rouart — who are leading the investigation. (Writer Jean-Marie Rouart, for instance, a well-known figure in literary and intellectual circles, is also a descendant of the painters Berthe Morisot and Henri Rouart, who exhibited at the Rosenberg gallery). According to the New York Times, Anne-Marie’s nephew and heir, Yves, says that some 40 art works were “removed from the walls during the settlement of her estate.” One of the executors of that estate was Guy Wildenstein.

Consequently, Wildenstein – or any of his allies – might perhaps believe that Sinclair, given both her social and political positions, pushed the matter, encouraging the inquiries into Wildenstein’s financial records (he is also under investigation for tax evasion), his father’s estate (for which he was sued by his late stepmother, Sylvia Roth Wildenstein), and the alleged theft of paintings left in his father’s and grandfather’s care. Obviously, this is all purely speculative, but given the politics here – one man an ally of Sarkozy, the other a potential threat to his political future  – it’s something I couldn’t help but wonder. Has this entire mess – both the DKS and Wildenstein cases — been the result of a political tit-for-tat?

Or is it all, as some maintain, yet another illustration of the insidious anti-Semitism that pervades French society, one which a friend described as motivated by “people on the far right who do not want to see a Jewish president, who think a Jewish cabal runs politics and cinema and the art world, and are prepared to do anything to bring them down”?

Or none of the above?

As the DSK and Wildenstein stories developed over the past few days – and with the latest charges against Strauss-Kahn brought by French journalist Tristane Banon —  I’ve been Googling a lot.  I’ve been, in fact, Googling obsessively.  I now sit among piles of paper with, in the words of Arlo Guthrie, “circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one” is.

The entire pile offers no real answers, but it does present a pretty fascinating picture.  As for the charges of anti-Semitism, one has to take that with a shake of proverbial salt, especially given the fact that Banon herself is Jewish – or at least, is the daughter of two Jews, one of Iranian origin (her mother) and the other Moroccan (her father).  Then again, her father, with whom she is estranged,  once worked for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.  On the other hand, her mother, Anne Mansouret, registered to run in the 2011 presidential elections against Sarkozy — in DSK’s own party, the Socialists, making them potential political rivals.  She withdrew her name – which she claimed only to have entered as a “symbolic gesture” — on July 1 – just days before her daughter filed her complaint against DSK for attempted rape.

Hmmm.

Summary: So far I’ve got Banon, whose half-sister – the daughter of her godmother –  is married to a (Tunisian-born) member of Sarkozy’s cabinet, and Sarkozy who is friends with Guy Wildenstein, whose family used to be connected to the family of DSK’s current wife, and who  is in court with the Rouarts and Sylvia Wildenstein’s estate, which also sued Sarkozy, who may or may not have had anything to do with the DSK situation in NY and may or may not have anything to do with Banon’s accusations against DSK even if she is half sisters with the wife of a Sarkozy cabinet member and who is also the  daughter of her godmother, who was at one time married to her father – and to DSK.

Seriously.  It’s hard to believe any of this is real.  This is stuff for HBO.   No one, not even Thomas Hardy, could invent anything this intricate.  Stay tuned for the movie, probably coming soon.

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Wow!  This Goliath is gigantic!  I don’t suppose this brave maid has any idea of what she is up against!

See my previous posts:  Strauss-Kahn & Sarkozy

Strauss-Kahn & the Forgotten Victims

More good Christian male anti-abortionists outside clinics intimidating women

Here we go again!  It seems as though things haven’t changed much for women wanting to control their own fertility.

See :  More Women Infected With Hep C   Some men would like to have complete control over women’s fertility – like Dr James Latham Peters who, it is alleged, has deliberately infected over 58 women (and counting) with the same strain of Hepatitis C virus as he has.  It can only be spread blood to blood. This man has been allowed to administer anaesthetic to women having abortion procedures  at several clinics in Melbourne.  Dr Peters has already been struck off the medical register in the past  for drug addiction and prescription forgery.  And, can you believe it, for possessing child pornography.  I would have thought that the authority in question would have banned him from medical practice for life.  What were these clinics thinking in hiring him in the first place?  Why is it that  women,  at such a vulnerable time, should be put literally, in the hands of such a despicable human being.  Now, the lives of all these  infected women will be changed forever.  Their future health is uncertain.  He is worse than back-street abortionists – at least they knew what they were.

Dr James Latham Peters

It is obvious that Dr Peters has a hate attitude toward women seeking abortions and one can guess that he supports the pro-life lobby. Pro-Life is an oxymoron when used in the  context of anti-abortion.  So-called Pro-Lifers kill doctors and workers at abortion clinics and look what Dr Peters has been up to; there is no doubt some of these women will die because of his actions.  I would bet that he will be found to be  another  devout misogynist and  Christian.   One is also suspicious about  why this evil man,  who uses children for his own gratification, would want more children to be brought into this world?

I cannot for the life of me understand why men take to the streets to abuse women intending to have abortions.  What do they know of the experience of pregnancy and of childbirth?  Most of us  know that if men had to give birth, the human race would die out.  These deluded men stand outside abortion clinics for hours insulting and intimidating women.   Haven’t they got churches to go to?  It reminds me of the man who approached a young mother in a café  feeding her baby with a bottle.  He shouted at her, “why aren’t you breastfeeding that baby?” and stormed out.  The young lady burst into tears.  I know, once being  a young mother myself, how difficult it can be to breastfeed.  How could a man understand this?  That particular mother could have been on medication, or have infected nipples.  There are many other complications when breastfeeding just as there are surrounding abortions.

Anti-abortion protesters – haven’t these men got churches to go to?

The serial anti-abortion protester shown above says that women and girls who have been raped, or who are the victims of incest should be forced to give birth and that “they can adopt it out”.   This man should read some of the literature on the failures and trauma of adoption

See my posts:

Adoption: The Damage Done

Catholic Orphanages & Adoption

Separation:  The Open Wound

Do these men have any idea what it would be  like for a woman or girl to carry a foetus  inside her for a full nine months after being raped by either a stranger or their own father.  I write about girls being impregnated by their fathers and a Catholic Priest in my book  ‘Whatever Happened to Ishtar?’ and the consequences for generations to come.

Who knows how many women Dr Peters has infected and it must be hell for possibly more than 2000 women treated by Dr Peters, who will have to be tested for hepatitis C.

UPDATE 9/11/2012

Emotional victims wept in the Supreme Court as James Latham Peters, 63, responded with the word “guilty” to each of the 55 charges of negligently causing serious injury as they were read aloud.

Latest Update:’

Dr James Latham Peters was sentenced on 7 March 2013 to 14 years in prison with parole after 10 years.

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