Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nocturnal Divination website + online store

Check it out! I've redesigned my Etsy shop AND set up a separate website for Nocturnal Divination Magick & Miscellanea.

Now you can order astrology reports, tarot readings, books, and more from

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The world cries yet again

Yesterday was such a soul-crushing day of sadness. From the outrageous shootings in Alexandria, VA, and San Francisco, CA, to the horrific fire in London, UK, it was all too much to take in upon awakening. And yes, I'm sure there were countless other tragedies and deaths throughout the world as well. I'm damned sorry about all of them. To mention only a few does not in any way marginalize the others.

Oh, to have the ability to heal the world and to be able to right the wrongs in it...even if just for one day. Our time is short on this planet. Way too short for violence, sadness, hate, and war.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Years ago, I was nearly date raped while college baseball players watched. I kept my story a secret for decades. That ends – today.

As a professional writer, it's hard to say how many words I've written over the course of my life. Hundreds of thousands – maybe even a million. But until recently I've never written in detail about being nearly date raped the first time I attended college. It wasn't the first instance of sexual abuse or coercion I'd dealt with in my life; in fact, by the time I started college, I'd survived a sexually abusive stepfather and been molested by a neighbor of ours when we lived in Mannheim, Germany, a fact that I kept secret because I thought I'd get in trouble if I reported it.

Back in the mid-80s, I attended Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma. It was a private Christian university. I wasn't Christian, but I had five scholarships – including a talent/service scholarship for journalism – to attend there, so I did. Back then, it was $250 per credit hour for classes, so unless you had scholarships or grants, you couldn't easily afford the cost. Lots of students were from Oklahoma and their parents were wealthy thanks to the oil boom. But there were also a fair number of students from other states and countries as well. When I arrived in Enid, I was an odd person out on campus; I didn't know anybody there and had nothing but my compact silver Chevette car, a prized Kenwood component stereo system, a suitcase full of clothes, and hardly any money.

After settling into a routine at Phillips University (and, by the way, the university's initials were PU and – you can't make this stuff up – their mascot was a skunk named Lil Hay), I quickly joined the Haymaker college newspaper staff. I'd opted for a double major in Mass Communication and Psychology. During the day, I dove into a full load of classes in journalism, communication, and psychology.

In addition, I worked a day shift at National Supply, an oilfield supply company. Since my mom was preparing for a divorce and I didn't have any financial support for food, gas, or other necessities, I also picked up an evening shift as a waitress at the local Pizza Hut.

Back then, I planned to become a journalist. I'd spent four years on a newspaper staff, one year at Sproul Jr. High School in Security, Colorado, and the other three years on the Widefield High School Gladitorial staff. My senior year at Widefield High School I was chosen as editor-in-chief. I also landed my first paid gig, writing articles for the Tempo Page of the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper. Based on my history, going to college to become a professional journalist seemed a natural progression.

I did well in my classes and tentatively began dating. While most American students shied away from the foreign students, I made it a point to get to know about them and their cultures. The foreign students all sat at a separate table in the cafeteria, and I joined them at their table. I'd listen as they talked about their countries, families, and customs. All of it was fascinating to me. Since I’d grown up a military brat and lived overseas, I was anything but xenophobic. New countries and languages always fascinated me. They still do.

That's where I met a guy named Davood Akbarzadeh, a 30-year-old student from Tehran, Iran. We dated for a short while. He was nice, kind, and wrote poetry for me. But he was ten years older than I was and I realized we'd be better off as friends. He was attracted to me, but I didn't feel the same way. We never shared more than kisses and hugs.

Then I began seeing a guy named Tim. He was a baseball player for the university team, which was also named the Haymakers. He was a rich kid whose family lived in Kennebunkport, Maine. He dressed in expensive clothes and loved to brag about how well off his family was. We dated for quite a few months, but then our relationship turned rocky. He began trying to control me and I pushed back, something he didn't like at all. Whereas Davood had been romantic, sensitive, and kind, Tim had a large ego and was assertive – even aggressive – at times. In hindsight, I don't know what I was thinking when I hooked up with him.

One night I angered Tim because I refused to write an English paper for him. Later, while at a party, he called me vicious names and dumped a beer on my head in front of everyone there to humiliate me and make me pay for refusing to write his English paper. I was shocked and embarrassed. Another student named Spence called him out on it. Tim flew into a rage and jumped on him. Their fight spilled into the hallway. Meanwhile, I escaped through the open door with a couple other students and went with them to their dorm room where I felt safe and protected.

Days later, Tim lured me to his room with apologetic talk and plans to mend our relationship. We were talking while sitting on his bed (there was no other place to sit in his dorm room). Next thing I knew, he made moves on me, coaxing me to lie down on the bed. I felt reluctant, but returned his kisses. Maybe he was sincere. Maybe he would change, I thought.

Next thing I knew, he was trying to pull down my pants – something I felt uncomfortable with because of recent events. I wasn't ready to resume a sexual relationship with him. I told him no, but he kept trying. I remember him pulling at my clothes and me jerking them back, telling him no. But he wasn't taking no for an answer.

Suddenly, I heard laughing from somewhere. I thought it was coming from outside his dorm window. But he was on the second floor, so I was confused as to how anybody could be out there. Tim was trying to distract me, still trying to get me undressed. I looked over at his windows, which were covered with foil (something a lot of students did to keep out the sun and add more privacy to their dorm rooms). I heard muffled voices and sounds out there.

Then I noticed one of the windows had a tear in the foil at the bottom-right corner of the window. It was dark out, but I could see shadows moving through the medium-sized triangular hole. Then it dawned on me: there were people standing on the second-story ledge outside of Tim's window. How did they get up there and why were they there? I struggled with Tim, jumped off the bed, and ran out of his dorm room. Scared and in shock, I made it back to my room in Clay Hall, the women's dormitory. My thoughts were jumbled and I didn't want to believe what had just taken place.

The next day, I reported the incident to the administration of Phillips University. They asked me questions and assured me they would take action. Thankfully, one member of the baseball team came forward and verified my story. I never talked to that guy and I cannot remember his name, but had he not admitted what happened, I think NO action would've been taken. Instead, Tim and the members involved were punished by being kicked off the baseball team and suspended from Phillips University for all of one semester.

The thing was, I learned what happened to Tim and the other players involved from other sources. The suspension wasn't discussed with me AT ALL and I found out AFTER the fact. I never heard from anybody in administration again. No follow-up letter, no report of actions they took against Tim and his buddies, nothing. There was no local police involvement and the university administration offered no counseling or support for me in the aftermath of such a shocking and traumatic event.

Phillips – which no longer exists as a university but was transformed into a corporate entity known as the Phillips University Legacy Foundation (PULF) – was a private Christian university, so this kind of news would've severely damaged their reputation. Not just locally, but internationally as well, since they had overseas connections and attracted quite a few international students. No doubt the university wanted everything to remain hush-hush.

In hindsight, I should've alerted the media and not kept everything on the down-low for the sake of the university. I was the victim and I had nothing to feel ashamed of! It was Tim who struggled with me to pull off my clothes and have sex with me while his teammates perched on the outside of the building, peering in through the window and sniggering the entire time.

As a naive young woman who felt embarrassed and ashamed over the incident, I kept quiet and chose not to upset the status quo. It was clear the one-semester suspension was a minor slap on the wrist. After all, these were Phillips University athletes, and in Oklahoma (just as in Texas), college athletes seemed more valuable to the university than a run-of-the-mill Mass Communication/Psych student like me.

The impression I got was that, as far as Phillips was concerned, the matter was over and done; I should've been happy with the one-semester suspension and talking-to the baseball players got. In hindsight, I shouldn't have let embarrassment and shame mute my actions. I should've called the city police department instead of trusting Phillips to handle things both internally and externally. I should've pushed for further action. At that time, I was afraid to push too hard for fear it would threaten my academic standing or residence with the university.

The university’s motto was Vincit Omnia Veritas (Truth conquers all things). As a young woman, I used to believe that. Now I’m not so sure. Truth inevitably unveils all things, but when others dismiss, obstruct, and obfuscate the truth, the conquering part is all but obliterated. Especially when it threatens to shake up a college athletic program.

Because many people, including my mother, didn't believe me when I reported my stepfather's abuse years before, it now makes sense why I didn't take all the steps I should have or why I didn't push for more tangible action and confirmation when I was nearly date raped in front of the Phillips University baseball team. In my mind, I felt like I somehow deserved what happened because I was in Tim's dorm room, alone with him. We had a previous sexual relationship and had been dating. Hadn't I asked for it by agreeing to go to his dorm room to discuss our relationship issues? All these thoughts, and many others, influenced my actions after he initiated unwanted sexual advances. But the truth is this: it wasn't my fault, I didn't deserve it, and the punishment didn't fit the crime.

The following semester, Tim returned and attended classes again. I passed him by in an open commons area in one of the campus buildings and felt a cold shock run down my spine. We locked eyes but didn't speak. By his casual behavior, it seemed his so-called punishment hadn't affected him at all. It was business as usual.

After all these years, I still have a reminder of my relationship with Tim. I have a scar on the bottom my left wrist, a few inches down from my palm. Tim cut me with a knife one night, supposedly by accident. Now I wonder if it was accidental at all. I also wonder what would've happened that night in his dorm room if I hadn't been able to resist him. I know I would've been date raped by Tim while members of the Haymaker baseball team watched through a window, laughing and talking. But what would've happened after that? I shudder to think about it. I came close to tragedy that night, but I escaped. I wonder how many other women haven't been so lucky or haven't reported their experiences out of fear, shame, or intimidation? Far too many. In fact, the statistics bear it out.

This is my story. I don't want you to EVER have a similar story to share. So, if you've been a victim of sexual abuse or assault, I want you to know it's not your fault. You didn't cause it and you have no reason to be ashamed. It doesn't matter how you were dressed. It doesn't matter if you'd been drinking. It doesn't matter if you were in a dorm room, alone, with a guy. It doesn't matter if you've had sex with a person before. It doesn't matter if he's an ex-boyfriend. It doesn't matter if you had a lovely date earlier in the evening. A fancy dinner and a fun time doesn't mean you owe any person sex. Simply put, unwanted sexual advances are not okay. In addition, if you did not give consent and were coerced or forced into sex, it's rape. No means no – always.

In the event of sexual abuse or rape, immediately contact the local authorities and file a report. It can be a daunting and scary experience, but it's important to file charges against the perpetrator and begin the legal process. Not speaking up and remaining a silent victim does nobody any good, least of all you. Sexual abusers and rapists count on you to stay quiet. They will often try to intimidate and threaten you in a variety of ways. They'll tell you that nobody will believe you, that you deserved it, that you asked for it, and any other number of lies. Don't listen to them. Don't allow yourself to be silenced by them, or anybody else. Take action for your own sake, and, perhaps, for the sake of future victims.

For more information, help, and support, visit these sites:
RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

Break the Cycle

Cosmopolitan - 8 Things Every Woman Should Know About Reporting Sexual Assault

TIME - Why Victims of Rape in College Don't Report to the Police

National Sexual Violence Resource Center z Info & Stats For Journalists
Statistics about sexual violence


Bev (Walton~Porter) Sninchak has been a professional freelance writer and editorial service provider for over 20 years. She is the author of seven books, including Sun Signs for Writers, Secrets of the Professional Freelancer, and Aim To Write: Tips & Tricks for Freeing the Scribe Within, among others. Bev is also a co-author of The Complete Writer (Red Engine Press). For questions or comments, e-mail her at