Apr 10
  • Written By Scott Drochelman

  • #179 – Iman Gatti

    #179 - Iman Gatti

    How One Woman Healed After Seeing Her Mother Murdered

    Iman Gatti was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. Iman’s parents moved to Canada from Tunisia, North Africa, and she is extremely proud of her Arab heritage and the opportunity her parents gave her by emigrating to Canada to raise their Family.

    Just two months before her seventh birthday, she witnessed her father brutally murder her mother. From that moment, Iman effectively became an orphan as her father was sentenced to 25 years in prison and she was put into foster care. She spent the next 12 years moving from home to home, experiencing abuse and neglect as she did her best to survive her childhood, day by day.

    Today, Iman is a certified grief recovery specialist, transformational speaker and bestselling author.

    She works with people to help them recover from grief and trauma, elevate their self-esteem, deepen their authenticity and step fully into the greatness they were born for.

    Episode Resources

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    Episode Transcript

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:00:00):

    Coming up on this episode of The Courage to Change sponsored by Lion rock.life,

    Iman Gatti (00:00:06):

    He runs away and I’m like just sat there like covered in blood and completely confused. But also my body’s in shock and I don’t know what to, how to operate. I was like, what the, like what is happening? So now I’m thinking as a six-year-old innocently would, oh good. He’s gone. She can get up now.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:00:29):

    Hello beautiful people. Welcome to the Courage to Change a Recovery podcast. My name is Ashley Lo Blasting Game and I am your host. Today we have Eman Gotti. Eman was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. Iman’s parents moved to Canada from Tunisia, north Africa and she’s extremely proud of her Arab heritage and the opportunity her parents gave her by immigrating to Canada to raise their family. Just two months before her seventh birthday, she witnessed her father brutally murder her mother. From that moment, eman effectively became an orphan as her father was sentenced to 25 years in prison and she was put into foster care. She spent the next 12 years moving from home to home, experiencing abuse and neglect as she did her best to survive her childhood day by day. Today, eman is a certified grief recovery specialist, transformational speaker and best-selling author. She works with people to help them recover from grief and trauma, elevate their self-esteem, deepen their authenticity, and step into the greatness they were born for.


    This episode is really heavy and I just want to warn you that that is really heavy. We talk about how he man’s mother was murdered by her father. We do this because if someone can recover from something like this, that whatever you are going through, you can recover too. That’s why it’s important to share these stories. That’s why it’s important for people like Iman to come out and say, this is what happened to me and this is how I recovered from it. Because some of these things seem like it might be impossible to recover from. That is not to say that she is not gravely affected by what happened. She is. But her journey to recovery, finding herself, finding therapy, and then helping others is an important one to remember if you’re going through it, cuz that is available to you as well. So without further ado, I give you Iman Gutti. Let’s do this.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:02:39):

    You are listening to the Courage to Change a Recovery podcast. We are a community of recovering people who have overcome the odds and found the courage to change. Each week we share stories of recovery from substance abuse, eating disorders, grief and loss, childhood trauma and other life-changing. Come join us no matter where you are on your recovery journey.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:03:07):

    Well awesome. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. Me

    Iman Gatti (00:03:10):

    Too. I’m so grateful. Tell

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:03:12):

    Me a little bit, you have an amazing background and, and I wanna hear all about it. So tell me a little bit about what it was like growing up in your house.

    Iman Gatti (00:03:21):

    <laugh>, which one? <laugh>. So, yeah, so yeah, the first one, it started out I thought, you know, off to a good start. My family’s from Tunisia, north Africa. So they moved to France to, for my father to go to a culinary school to become a chef. And so then they moved to Ontario, Canada cuz I had an aunt living in Canada that was lonely. Like she married a Canadian and she was, my mother was like the second oldest sister, so out of like 10 of them. So she was like the big mama bear. And so she was like, oh my god, I’m lonely in Canada. So my mom’s like convinced my father that they should move. So they had my first brother in Paris, then they moved to Canada and they had my second brother. And apparently my mom was like super excited to have a girl.


    But so every time and then back in the day, right, you couldn’t like tell with the sex. So she was like second br brother born. She was really upset. So she moved, then they moved like further west to Alberta where I’m from and she has a girl and she’s so excited. I was like a little doll and she was, I stuck to her like glue. It was like one of those very private shy children that just didn’t like, like anybody. Like I was just like me and my mom, that’s all I need. And so I always hid behind her leg. I was just a real mama’s girl and my father worked away a lot. He was a chef so he, he was always out of town working wherever he could at the time. And so it was good. My mom was a stay-at-home mom. She loved it cuz she’d never worked a day in her life and she didn’t speak English, she didn’t have a driver’s license and so she was quite happy with the things she knew, which was domestic labor.


    And she was a seamstress. So just for like privately like, so she would make lots of our stuff like our clothes and teddy bears and things like that. They were both Muslim and very religious and you know, Tunisia is considered like one of the most liberal Muslim countries. Like they’re almost like made fun of, I think or made fun of in the middle Eastern world of like a, haha they’re not real Muslims cause we respect women and being able to dress how you want and things like that. So it’s like a little more of the liberal, not that other places we have a little less tolerance for the liberties of the woman. I think. So my, my father was quite old-fashioned and he was very fundamentalist and he really did believe that my mother was his property and he was really abusive and violent and he hit her a lot and he screamed at her and he was just a kind of a, a volcano of a man. He wasn’t this soft squishy one by any means. So when he was home it kind of felt like a little different and we just had to be more, less like children and more like animals.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:05:46):

    Would he have been considered abusive in Tunisia? In in the culture that that they had come from? Totally. Okay. Okay.

    Iman Gatti (00:05:54):

    Yeah. Yeah. Cuz my mom like grew up with her parents. Like my grandparents on her side were the, they called everyone called them love birds. My grandfather owned a bakery and my grandma was a stay-at-home mom and she was very cute and quiet and like, she was a very shy person and she had all these children and she took care of them. And my grandfather took her everywhere. He always wanted to be with her. He like, so everyone called him lovers, he just was obsessed with her and they were always giggling and kissing and you know, like they were cute. And so my mother certainly didn’t grow up seeing anyone doing that to her mother. But there’s this old fashioned way of thinking that women are not as strong. Like I’ve even had people tell me when I go there for visits, like I’ve had men tell me and they’re like, yeah but your organs are different.


    And I was like, they’re, they’re not like my organs are not less capable than your organs. Like they really, some of them have really had weird conversations with me where I’m like, so they do have, you know, obviously misogyny and patriarchy, things like that are a basis of how they’re raised, but violence is certainly not like acceptable. And so yeah, my father was like hitting my mom and I thought it was so strange because she was like, now when I think of it I’m like, oh my gosh, she was being brave because she would just laugh. Like she would laugh. I was like her coping mechanism. That’s the whole other thing. I’m actually writing a essay right now about the, the way women are trained to laugh when we are uncomfortable so that we don’t add to the threat that we feel. Because it was very confusing as a kid to like watch your mom get like slapped off a chair onto the floor and her to be like laughing.


    Like I just was like, are you guys roughhousing? Like, you know, I didn’t understand. I had two older brothers that beat the crap outta me for fun. So I’m like, is this what guys do? It is like wrestle you and hit you. Cause I didn’t like it. I was like, I don’t wanna see my mom be injured. And I, I never liked what my brothers picked on me, so I just was always confused why she thought it was funny. Yeah. And so then my, my father just decided to have a girlfriend on the side and he was hardly home as it was. So I think my mom was just like, okay, it seems a little strange as you know, you share bank accounts and everything and then she could tell he was cheating on her somehow. I was only six so I don’t, or five at the time.


    So I don’t really know like the details of how she knew that. But he said yes, he admitted that, that he was gonna start being with other women and she’s like, get outta my house. And I think that’s so badass, you know, because I’m like, this woman doesn’t speak English, she doesn’t have a job, she doesn’t have any money. Like, so she depends on this man for everything. She didn’t have a license to drive in her life. Not, not like she used to drive back home like she’s never wanted to drive. So I’m like, you kicked a man outta your house that did, did for you all the things that you don’t know how to do basically or wanna do. And that takes a lot of courage in a new country. So she did that and she went and I remember her getting her first car and her license, you know, and being so proud of herself and scared to death, but she’s doing it.


    She went back to school learning English because she was just not good at it. And you know, she told him, you know, get outta the house, you can come visit your children. Like I would never, she, she was very clear like, I’m not restricting you in regards to your children, but you’re not sleeping here and making a fool of me. Right. So he moved out, I remember him going into the closet and like grabbing all his thing. I just remember it and feeling kind of relieved. Like it wasn’t, oh no, where’s dad going? You know, it was like when he’s home, like you’re just supposed to be quiet. Children are not, you’re not supposed to be quiet. So, so he left. And like my, my brothers were always getting beaten by him too. Like they, and I mean this guy would beat you with the belt buckle. Like not, not the leather parts that seems like horrible as well, but like the buckle, like my, my brothers have scars all over the back of their heads and their bodies that like hair doesn’t grow. There’s just like little, you know, chunks cut outta their head because of that.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:09:40):

    Do you have feelings or thoughts on how in domestic violence relationships, it’s always interesting the point at which people decide to leave. It’s the same with getting sober too. It’s like, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the worst thing that’s happened, right?

    Iman Gatti (00:09:54):

    There’s always, there’s always in a hole crying, you know, rocking back and forth.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:09:57):

    Right, right. But do you have thoughts on how, you know, he was hitting her, he was hitting the kids, he was doing all these things, but the cheating was the final straw. Like do you have thoughts on that being it Yeah,

    Iman Gatti (00:10:08):

    I feel like, yeah I think that that was sort of the like when, you know, projecting onto my mother that I can’t ask for sure. It was like all the ways that she could be humiliated were private, were private, right. And then he decided to humiliate her publicly. Right. And I think I, I really think to me that’s like where she was like, oh, so now other women know, I don’t

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:10:30):

    Know, it’s like the next level.

    Iman Gatti (00:10:32):

    Yeah. Like shame on you man. Like, you know, you go home and you beat your wife in the evening on your, you know, private time. And I think my mom was like, okay, well that’s just how this is going to go here. I don’t know if those are her thoughts, but I think she was like, okay, I can deal with this abused women, you know, I’ve worked with a lot of them in my career. You start to believe that maybe it’s not so bad or maybe you know, he’ll change or maybe he really loves me but there’s bad days, right? Like there’s a lot of excuses. We tell ourselves that we put responsibility on ourselves to like manage and mitigate with our partners. And my mother was no way like a modern woman. You wouldn’t say that about her because like even though she was doing cool stuff like that, her maybe friends and family thought was really risque and feminist.


    But like, she was like, no, I don’t wanna work. I I have my family, I don’t know how, it’s not my department. Right. And so she was a very sensitive person, like who was taught that men take care of you. I think when she realized like that he was humiliating her in front of other people and also this isn’t what love feels like. She did that. And then she started going to school, like I said, getting her license, you know, getting her, her groove, right. And she started going on a date, like they were separated for like a year and then she went on a date and all a little bit jumbled because of so many memories. So flawed. But also because of my family’s story, it’s been in the paper a lot, so <laugh>. So a lot of the, sometimes I get a little bit like might as a disclaimer because I’ve heard this story a thousand times and stuff like that.


    So yeah, somewhere in the middle might be the truth of this. But he saw her wearing makeup, like dolled up to go out, what he assumed was a date and it was, she was gonna go on a date. And so, you know, if I can’t have you, no one can. So like I said, she’s let him have access to us and that meant he had a key to our house and he would use it. He would come in the house in the middle of the night, help himself to the food. He would, cause he would tear our house apart and make a mess in the middle of the night just for fun. He, we, we would wake up and my mother, when I say that she was a housemaker, like this woman, wish I could seriously our house up and down bleached every day, every day.


    You know, when you think to yourself, like sometimes I laugh, I’m like, oh I don’t do that. I’m a very like clean person but every day I’m not cleaning my house up and down. I have other things on the schedule. But I mean she’s cooking every one of our meals and our house up and down bleached, like our house smelled like bleach and garlic and onions. Like those are my favorite smells because it feels like hot <laugh> like that is just like, hmm, everything’s clean and tasty here. Like it’s so waking up to our house in complete disarray was very strange. But he would take all the food outta the fridge, leaves a fridge open, right? So it spoils all the food. So he’s just causing her severe stress and anxiety and inconvenience cuz you know, part of that time she doesn’t have a car, right?


    She can’t, the money is his uh, right. So I, I can’t imagine how he financially abused her. I’m sure she was probably worried sometimes how to feed us and things like that. So anyway, so he would do that. So it was common for him to come into our ho house in the middle of the night. So one of my very favorite things was I could sleep with my mom in her bed after he left because he was very strict about that. And I had to have my own room or my own bed. And I shared a room with my brother who didn’t want me there. So it was never really like, felt like my own place. So as soon as he left I was like, mama, I’m back baby. Like we’re going home sleeping in your room. And so I brought all my teddy bears.


    So I was sleeping with her one night and it was like, yeah, late June, you know, where I live is very bright from like, you know, never really gets dark. It’s kind of the, that’s the first day of the summer and we didn’t have dark curtains. So I remember my father turned on the light, I was sleeping and I kind of startled and I opened my eyes and I saw him staying there and I thought, oh crap. I remember thinking like, ah, kicking me out, I gotta go to Barro, right? And I thought I said his name like in Arabic. I was like Baba like it means dad. And I was like, WABA. And he was like, shh. I cover my mouth, my hands thinking like oops, I got cuz I got in trouble. And so I remember scooching over to my mom thinking like, don’t wake up my mom but like scooch over then maybe he’ll let me stay <laugh> my eyes as they kind of were correcting to the dark.


    I see something shimmer in his hand, like in the light, in the like moonlight. It was like very movie scene. And I’m like where the hell’s that? And literally as I kind of come to like connecting dots of like my father is a chef, he always had this crazy ass chef kit of knives like in his car. So I see his very special butcher’s knife, it’s like a, it was like 28 centimeter long like blade. I don’t know what that, I think maybe you guys do inches. And he literally just starts stabbing my mom in front of me and I have no idea, like nothing is computing, I’m al like, I’m almost seven cause I, I’ll be seven in two months from that time. And it’s like I woke her like I remember it was just like, there’s so many guilty things. Like I grabbed her scared cuz she’s my comfort and like it’s just sad that she didn’t have anyone at the moment to protect her.


    But she’s my protector while I need protecting from the things she needs protecting from. So I wake her up as the moment like that she’s gonna be murdered and he literally just like stabbing and she’s just screaming like Why are you doing this? What are you doing? Like she was so confused and obviously I’m sure it was painful. And then my eldest brother runs in cuz he hears these, all of us are, my mom and I are screaming and he grabs my father’s arm and he’s like 16 year old young man. And my father was the adrenaline and the rage like flung him like an aunt, like flicked him. And he flew and he, he slammed into the hallway wall and like ran and called 9 1 1. And yeah, my father ends up, she dies and he runs away. I try not to get into detail cause I don’t wanna tr traumatize anyone who’s listening to this.


    But um, I wrote a book on it if you want more of the the in information, but he runs away and I’m like just sat there like covered in blood and completely confused. But also my body’s in shock and I don’t know what to, how to operate. So I kind of just like, like get off the bed and I look out this window that’s right beside my side where I would’ve slept and I watch and it was like the window out the front of the house so you could see him. I saw him running away and I was like, what’s the, like what is happening? So now I’m thinking as a six year old innocently would, oh good, he’s gone. She can get up now. So I go to the other side of the bed and I’m like, Hey mom, like are you okay? I don’t know what happened.


    I like right. You know, like logic is not with me. Yeah. I just think I’ve never seen this before. And my mom, you know, she’s choking like it’s, she’s already dead, but like her body is like doing the natural body things that it does and trying to get like remove liquids from her lines and everything. So I’m thinking she’s coughing and she’s gonna wake, wake up or something. Yeah. Anyway, it’s very, very awful. And the next thing you know, I’m just staring at her and she stops moving and this cop is standing there and he’s like, so it’s a lot of like contradictions. Like it’s very interesting, like I said, like feeling like I want my mom to protect me while she needs protection. There’s me feeling super confused that she’s not alive, but I’m pretty sure she’s dead. But I thought maybe she might wake up.


    Like I’m very not sure there’s signs of life with the choking, which she’s not alive. This is all confusing that is standing there and he’s very friendly, his face is smiling and he’s trying to be endearing so that I trust him. I can’t imagine what he’s seeing like now when as a 41 year old person thinking about it, like at the time I was just like, ha. But now I’m like, oh my god, this man looked so friendly. Like, so he was smiling, Hey honey, like you know, I’m officer so-and-so like, you know, I’m gonna help you. Okay so I need you to come with me. Like how do you, you don’t wanna scare me. So he’s being very sweet and he is like, I need you to come with me. And I’m like, okay, strange man. I don’t know how you got in my house.


    Like this is all very confusing for me. I’m like, okay, so why does he look so happy? But his voice is scary. Like his voice sounds serious. I can tell it’s serious. So then we all get shuffled and my el other brother is, has to be woken up and Oh wow. Yeah. And that’s like we all have our own issues. Like my one brother couldn’t protect us in his perception. Right? He shouldn’t have been able to, he is a child. My one brother sleeps like literally like he’s dead, can’t wake up. Like, and he probably hates that about himself, right? Like I won’t speak for him but I, he doesn’t talk about it. But I imagine that was sort of un unsettling for him. And then there’s me who I’m easily startled and to this day, like having a child is very traumatizing about that because you have PTSD about being woken up aggressively or surprised and my oh yeah, you know how it’s kids like a foot in the face, a slap in the face and like talking into my mouth.


    Mommy come, we have pancake, you know? And I’m like, oh, and my life is about restraint, like for having a child. It’s like literally about like not listening to the emergency response my body wants to have because of trauma all the time. And I feel like that’s a whole struggle in itself of like being a mother who’s traumatized and trying not to like affect my child about it. You know, like I’m like, she’ll be like, oh are you okay? And I’m like, yeah, I’m good. Right? I don’t want her to be scared of me or, and I’m just scared like, cuz normally you wouldn’t, I never want anyone to wake me up startling me. And then now I’m like, just resist all of your natural energies to be safe. Right? I’m like, oh god. And your cortisol’s just like out the roof when you wake up in the morning. I’m like, hey, well this is weird. Well

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:20:00):

    And you try not to scare them too because

    Iman Gatti (00:20:02):

    I don’t want her to scared. I don’t want her to be scaring me. I don’t want her to think too hard about making life better for anyone else. You know what I mean? Like that to me is like not fair if kids don’t have to wor shouldn’t have to worry about making sure you’re, you’re okay as an adult. Like so I just like try to have my own reactions inside my body. But yeah, anyway, so then, uh, we’re all in the street and then it was this weird moment. I always say like when I was looking out the window and I watched my father run away, I don’t know how many moments it was before the police came, right? I don’t know. But it was so quiet and such a strange feeling that I’ve never, it’s like this, the most spiritual feeling I’ve ever had in my life where I knew I would never be the same.


    Like it was just a very strange, nothing will ever be the same, the moon was there. It was like, and I mean just really weird and it was so quiet that it hurt. It was just, you know, people say silence is deafening and nobody, you hear it and you’re like, yeah, okay. But I, it it it hurt. It was too quiet. But then everyone, we lived in a like a cul-de-sac and everyone’s lights turned on. Like I was standing there and I was like, and then cuz the screaming, I mean it was really loud and then suddenly like you could see people come outside and then there were all of a sudden everyone came the lights, all of the emergency responders that come right? Police got fire trucks, the ambulance, like everyone came. It was the loudest, most chaotic thing ever. And I don’t think I ever felt peace ever again in my life.


    Like maybe I’ll have mo moments of peace, but I’ve never felt safe again. It was just like the, the feeling of like, you’re just, it’s never Yeah, it’s such a cr it’s a harrowing, it’s a very harrowing feeling And unless you felt that before, you certainly can’t understand it. It certainly has shaped every moment of my life. Very strange. So yeah. So then the cop came, let me go in the parking lot and I mean I’m a mess cuz I was wearing a like satiny white nightgown when I went to bed. So I just looked like I was from a horror movie and our beautiful nextdoor neighbor who I’d seen so many times in my life and she was so brave and she was like, she scooped my middle brother and I up and kind of like come, come into my house and it’s like three in the morning and her kids are sleeping.


    And I remember walking up and seeing her boys’ doors open, like, and seeing little bodies sleeping, you know, as you should be p I should be sleeping right now kind of thing. And she gave me a t-shirt and put me in her bed and my brother yeah. Tried to comfort me and remember him making jokes, being silly cause that’s kind of his personality and he always made me laugh. Makes me my heart hurt to think that he was being that guy. Yeah. In that moment it’s like, oh man, you were being my hero in the middle of the night when our mom died hours before.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:22:44):

    Do you think that your dad

    Iman Gatti (00:22:47):

    Yeah, he’s my father. Let’s just call him that. My father. I Your father, sorry I saved the word dad. For people that care about

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:22:53):

    You. Yeah, yeah. <laugh>. That’s fair. That’s, no, that’s fair. That’s fair. Do you think he had any reservations or any thoughts about what he was doing or any really understood the, the repercussions or do you think that it was blind rage?

    Iman Gatti (00:23:09):

    Well that is a wonderful question and I, I, I really like that question because what’s aggravating is that people always wanna just say, oh you have to, he must have just been a crime of passion. It’s just he was so upset and I’m like, yeah, no, he like planned every minute of it. He would tell you that he doesn’t remember. Right. And he never pled guilty at all, nor has ever claimed to have done that.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:23:30):

    Was he convicted of the crime?

    Iman Gatti (00:23:33):

    Yeah, without a shadow of the doubt he left the home. So he like murders now he has two eyewitnesses, right? Yeah. He leaves our neighbor who had just either gotten off of work or was going to night shift, can’t remember which one sees him running with what looks like a baseball bat wrapped in towels. Right, okay. What’s her, her impression from across, you know, the street, right? But it was the B butcher’s knife in wrapped in a shirt or whatever. He had, I don’t know, his towel or it could have been his case that I told you about the leather. So I could see that looking like a baseball bat when it’s all rolled up because that’s how he would keep it under his seat. So she is going to the store to get cigarettes and she follows him and a car is waiting. So he, he strips into his underwear.


    Oh wow. He really planned it right. He strips into his underwear, throws all the weapon, his clothing and is now in his little man panties and jumps into a moving vehicle like the, the witness says like this car was moving when he jumped in. So then we’ve never found out who was driving that car. Wow. Yeah. And then he goes and climbs two stories into my aunt and uncle. My mother’s sister climbs into their balcony of their apartment, breaks in and pretends to be sleeping on the couch. So goes into their home, takes Kleenexes, like literally dry wipes off blood from himself and crumples the Kleenex like, like, I don’t know, I think a normal horse would be like taking a shower. This guy like is wiping blood off, right? Like it’s like wiping blood off with a napkin. Yeah, I’m like laying beside his, the couch where he’s pretending to sleep as if people are gonna go like, oh okay.


    I don’t know. So it is not very clever, thank goodness. Right, right. So the police are with us at the crime scene. My brother and I are attesting, this was our father’s doing. The police are like, okay, my brother’s 16, he called the police like he’s, you know, you can talk to him but they’re asking him, do you have any family nearby? My brother’s like, yes, my aunt and uncle live at x, Y, Z address. And so they go there like this is like, so it’s been two hours, like not even right, they knock on the door. My uncle is waking up and out of bed and he has no idea that there’s a man on his couch. So the cops are like, is this man here? And he’s like, no, no. And they’re like, would you mind if we took a look? And he says, of course not.


    So to his surprise as well, they turn on the light and like, oh my brother-in-law is laying on my couch. What is happening? And yeah, they arrest him like you’re literally with her, her blood is on your body and there’s napkins all around you with blood on it like Kleenexes. So he goes to jail and we ended up at my aunt and uncle’s that that same apartment that next morning because where else do we go? And yeah, so my father is innocent until proven guilty of course. So he took a year to be sentenced a year and a half. So he, he’s still in custody of me because he wasn’t guilty yet. He has written custodys and not physical custodys. That’s correct. Yeah. So he’s like, yeah, so he has like authority of where I could go. So he puts me in a his friend’s house.


    So I had to stay up these like super religious Muslim people. So the head of the mosque is called an imam and like that was him. So anyway, so I’m saying with these very, very uber super fundamentalists, very Muslim people who treated me like garbage. So I get there, they like take away my things, take my mom’s pictures away, take my mom’s jewelry, a little pocket money, I don’t know even where I got it from is gone. No one wants to talk about my mom, this woman who the mother told me that my mom was just sick and somewhere else and she’ll be back soon. I’m like, so I saw her die. So the like gaslighting and lying to me is not really appreciated. Didn’t have that vocabulary as a child. But I just saw this lady’s whack and thinks I’m stupid because of the trauma.


    I regressed in, started peeing the bed I remember I was sleeping with, they had an a daughter, like I had um, two, two sons and a daughter. The girl was the oldest and so I was sleeping with her in that culture too. Like girls, you know, can be together or whatever like sleep in the same bed. So I was fine until I pee the bed and then she screamed like you’d think she was being murdered. I was like, okay. My mom screamed less being stabbed to death than this lady made it sound like when I peed my pants the mom wakes up the like everyone’s awake in the house. Like also very traumatizing for me because I was sleeping. Oh god again I’m still sleeping. She’s like, this girl’s disgusting. So the mom gets a sleepy bag and puts me downstairs by the front door in a house, I don’t know, in a front room.


    So unsafe like I just felt like I couldn’t feel more vulnerable. Like you might as well just put me on this on the lawn. I’m afraid I have ni I have P T S D, I’m, I’m scared now and now I have to sleep by myself. I can’t even sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor in the bedrooms. That’s how that went for a year of these people treating me like I was the most burdensome little thing that they could ever And I’m like, you’re the most religious people and this is how you treat me

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:28:23):

    At this time. H where are we in the process of your dad being convicted?

    Iman Gatti (00:28:28):

    Oh he gets, yeah, he gets convicted and

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:28:30):

    What’s his sentence?

    Iman Gatti (00:28:32):

    Life in prison, which here in Canada is only 25 years with option for parole after like 20. I always used to admire all my life like when people like in this states and be like, who sentenced you to a thousand years? I’m like, who are these like old-fashioned? And I’m like, what is like, I feel like it’s like 14 hundreds or something, right? Like it’s so bizarre. Like so yeah he did 22 years I think and he was freed.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:28:52):

    So he, so he goes there. Is that when you get introduced into the foster system? That was,

    Iman Gatti (00:28:58):

    Yeah, so then I’m, yeah technically like a ward of the province. Then I, because I had people interested in me, my brother’s friends, family, they fought and were awarded custody of me, which sounds like a beautiful happy ending except for then they had two of their own children. They were doing fine like at the beginning I understand how goodhearted they were intention, right? Intention is very great sometimes. Then they had, so then they had five children, right? So they have like two of their own children then three children that, and this woman was our family friend again, she knew my mother. She’d had coffee with my mother like they were lived nearby. Their kids were friends. So it felt like she doing the right thing. I, I know in her heart she thought this is the right thing. And I have to say I commend that compared to my own birth family who literally flew away and like left us there to like maybe die.


    I do appreciate that. However, mental health and addiction is a bitch. And when I met them to live with them, they were both working people who had a big house and cars and money for birthday parties and they were have, they were like weekend party people. So they would have these big shindigs every weekend where people were filling our house and they were traumatized people. The woman was abused from her first husband where she had her two children like severely. So like there’s such complicated characters, right? So she could not relate to me. She was doing the right thing but she was never kind to me. So I lived with her like seven or eight. I can’t really remember the day or anything. I remember the day being picked up, I just don’t remember what date it was. But I remember I was a, I have a traumatized person like, and no one to this point, like no one is taking notice that I have issues from my mo be watching my mother die.


    Like not one person so far has been like you poor thing <laugh>. How do we help this little one? Like no one. So it’s just like, hey them’s the breaks, let’s move on now you gotta live here, right? And I remember they enroll me in a school like it’s out in the country. Like I’m living on a farmhouse, like in a farmhouse on a farm. Like I’ve never seen this. And they also didn’t respect my religion at the time. So they thought it was funny and that I didn’t eat pork and so they would serve me pork almost exclusively. Cause it’s funny and they thought being Muslim was bad or stupid, you know, if you have your mom teaching you like Islam and then telling me like in no circumstance should you eat pork, you’ll go to hell. Like this is my mom teaching you.


    So like your mom dies, you’re hanging on for dear life, for every memory and every lesson she ever taught you. One of them being like, to avoid the devil, we are not eating the pork. So yeah, I would sit at the table for hours cause I didn’t wanna eat and then I was like, well you’re gonna starve. And that I did, they starved me so I stayed with them for nine years and so Wow. Oh a long time. Yeah. And so this is like one of the things that people ask about a lot is like, why didn’t you say anything <laugh>? I’m like, again, if anyone could acknowledge that I was severely traumatized, I’d be super. Yeah. And stop giving children the responsibility of making sure they’re safe. You know?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:32:13):

    You know, if you, if you don’t feel, if fundamentally you don’t feel safe, then how do you tell people you’re not safe?

    Iman Gatti (00:32:19):

    Right? And like who cares? So who are the people who are caring? Like can you, you should speak to them. You should ask them who the adults were around me who weren’t doing anything, who were complicit to my abuse. You should ask them about that. So, so the deterioration, so then the, this these parent, like these foster parents drinking more cuz they’re life is stressful now they have like three more people in their house. Three kids like I don’t know if that’s what it was or if they were always gonna end up that way. They just start like thinking we are a burden. Like we need a break from these kids. You know? Like these kids are really ruining our, our lifestyle, right? And so like you could feel it like my middle brother was abused so bad, like they were treated. I’m like really horribly.


    My eldest brother is a people pleaser to no end. So like he’s, we like him, right? Because he’ll just conform to whatever rules and however you want. He’ll do whatever it takes to make you like not hate him And me, I’m like no, I’m like scrappy and you don’t get to treat me like this and it’s this awful. So I’m lippy and resentful but like I’m a good kid. Like I’m still doing all this stuff, the chores, everything that you want me to do. But on top of it you’re being molested, raped, like beaten and starved. Like

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:33:27):

    Is the sexual abuse coming from the dad?

    Iman Gatti (00:33:30):

    Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And he was the stepdad to the the daughter, right? Right. So he fell in love with her and claims that he was in love with her and she speaks out on her abuse and he attempts to take his own life.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:33:44):


    Iman Gatti (00:33:45):

    Right? So the mother, her mother, her birth mother is like, oh my god. Like he’s look at like look what it’s doing to him. He’s obviously feels bad. We’ll never speak of this again. So he just keeps doing it and like we’re not allowed to talk about it now cuz that would make him kill himself.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:34:01):

    Did the sister or your foster sister, did she confide in you? Did you guys have a good relationship?

    Iman Gatti (00:34:07):

    Yeah, we, we did have a really good relationship. Yeah, I think she did her best. Unfortunately it wasn’t the greatest like, you know, could have been better. But like as soon as she could find a man that could take, make her feel safe, she left and lived with him and he became my abuser. So she would have me in her home to protect me. And her boyfriend began assaulting me when I spoke up about that. She heard it as I did that to her just like her mom, right? She did the same thing her mom did and protect the men who abuses, who’s a pedophile. She said, I’m not your sister anymore, believe you did this. And then they got engaged <laugh> and I was like, oh you just gonna move on in Like you guys are gonna keep going with that. That little ruse of him being a normal fucking person. Okay cool.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:34:50):

    I mean these are the cycles of trauma that we talk about and this is why, you know, you and I are out there saying like, no, we’re gonna talk about it. We’re gonna blow the lid off this thing because this is the only way to stop it.

    Iman Gatti (00:35:01):

    Right? You have to be the big, loud, wild whatever. I don’t care if I don’t say it nicely or how it like sounds acceptable. There’s nothing acceptable about what I’m talking about. So I can’t say it in a way that’s digestible for people who don’t agree with the tenants

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:35:15):

    Because it’s not digestible. It’s not,

    Iman Gatti (00:35:17):

    You should not should be digestive. Like that is not okay. Right? Like you it should be freaking Yeah gnarly to chew on like it’s not good. Yeah, yeah. Instead of asking people to make things pretty, you should just listen to the raw horror of what someone is telling you from their truth. And like I’m a grief recovery specialist. The best way to comfort someone who’s grieving is to suffer with them. And that is the same thing when you hear someone being abused or they’re telling you their horrible story, stop. Like notice how much society has trained you to make it digestible, palatable, pretty, not make people uncomfortable. My whole life is uncomfortable. I am not here for you to be comfortable.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:36:02):

    I think one of the things that I often think like when you were talking was instead of the question why didn’t you ask for help? I think to myself, what could have, what would’ve made you ask for help? What could have been done differently at school or adults or things like that. And I think sometimes people ask questions in a way where that’s the information they want, but they don’t know how to get to it. What can people do who are in positions at school or power or whatever, what can they look for? What can they ask? What are the things that we can do to help children who are in these situations? Because sadly your story is, it’s common. Is common.

    Iman Gatti (00:36:44):

    Totally. And the social services like social workers were constantly being called on me. Like so it’s not that nobody like certainly strangers would see things and be like yikes. So I would get pulled outta class a lot but it was like, it became almost mechanical, right? So it was like, oh a stranger has, first of all your name gets called on the intercom, which is really humiliating cuz all your friends are gonna ask you why you got called to the office. Right? It’s nice Now as a speaker, like I get to work with like even on Thursday, I’m actually giving a, a lecture at the university here because I’m part of someone’s PhD dissertation about childhood psychology and like how teachers can actually do this very thing and how teachers can help help children who need it, right? Yes. And, and look for the signs, everything you just asked.


    I’m like that’s so cool cuz that’s what they need to do. So they need to be trauma informed and they need to pay attention to the children who they find difficult because I was there hungry, like I hardly ever ate. I was very malnourished. Like really, really sad. Learning when you’re hungry is not ideal. But learning when you’re hungry and afraid is even less ideal. And when you’re hungry, afraid and injured, like even just now, I’m not really here, I’m just here physically. Right? And then I was doing drugs and drinking, right? So like I’m probably stoned too like, and I did drink some whiskey this morning that I found just so that I could like hate myself a little bit less. People who are abused learn to abuse themselves as well. And self-harm is not just cutting yourself, which I also did, but it’s also having sex with strangers.


    It’s also drinking too much and also doing drugs and smoking cigarettes. I wanted to die. Like I just, nobody seemed to notice. I just like literally don’t care. I remember telling my friends, I will do anything like I would try heroin. I never did thank goodness. But I remember saying that like that is the level of I don’t care that I have. So when I think the teachers how many times I would get spoken to and get dragged into the office for social workers. It just comes in who can’t relate to you and is like trying to be nice. And you are a very suspicious of strangers, right? When you’re a traumatized person who gets abused a lot. So, hi, I’m so-and-so. I don’t care. Is there anything now I’m not answering any questions that you ask me, honestly. I’m fine. We’re good. I’m good.


    Yeah, we’re good. They treat you? Yeah, I’m fine. Okay, well are you sure? Here’s my card. I’m not bringing this fucking card home. This card will not be caught on my body. I’ll get whooped so hard having this card on my body. You don’t even know how dangerous it is for you to use fucking card. So go away, leave me alone and stop trying to make me get worse. And you don’t trust them. They’re stranger. Like they, they they’re saying stupid shit that they read in a book and that they’re supposed to say, I understand they’re just doing their job. I got lots of friends that are beautiful social workers. I really do. And I work closely with lawyers, judges, social workers. But for me, you have to get to know a child. You cannot just come as a stranger in a crazy room at school.


    It has to be more about rehabilitating foster parents for me. Don’t come asking me as a child. Go look at the parents if you, if someone calls for a kid, go immediately and interview their parents. Oh, we’ve got three calls this year or this month or whatever your protocol would be. You have to go to a course now you have to take a course or you’re not a suitable parent, you’re not able to have foster kids. They’ll be taken from you if you don’t complete this program of anger management and you know, substance prevention, whatever, whatever. Right? Like that’s what I think. Because like you said earlier, I’m not the worst case they have today. I’m getting, yeah, I’m getting beaten but I have a roof over my head and I’m not eating every day. But I still have, sometimes I have food and Right, it’s not dire compared to some of the horror.


    Oh my god, some of the horror stories I have heard in my life. Like I’m not the worst and that, that’s sad. But these cases are not urgent. And that’s a shame. It’s a shame that everyone is not going home to a beautiful family who cares and teaches ’em how to read and makes them a nice warm supper and teaches them how to lick the, the cookie dough off the, you know, the the thing. And like, you know, it’s like come on man. We’re not like, that’s not everyone’s reality and you should really focus a lot of resources on who you are allowing to foster children.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:40:58):

    There’s another aspect of this, which is what happens when kids turn 18 in the foster system. Right? They’re so traumatized. They’re, yeah and

    Iman Gatti (00:41:06):

    They’re like why?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:41:07):

    Yeah and they just, and so in, I know in California, I don’t know if it’s other places cuz my mom works in, in the foster care system and I’ve done some work there as well, which is that they have programs where you can remain in the system until you’re 21 and they, they have services for because they Oh

    Iman Gatti (00:41:24):

    Nice. I’m super

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:41:25):

    Cause in 18 they just throw them out and they were noticing that they were just ending up in jail. They had no skills.

    Iman Gatti (00:41:32):

    Yeah, I think that would’ve been really nice. It would’ve felt really nice to have someone care. So when I was like 14 or 15, I was kicked out of that home onto the street because my sister’s boyfriend is assaulting me. And I spoke up about that and then they kicked me out over it cuz I was, now I’m kind of harlet that was seducing the men in the house. So yeah, I just got a note on my door and you have three days to, we won’t be home for three days and you have three days to pack up your shit and leave. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read in my life. I was like, this is my favorite piece of literature that I’ve read so far. I can’t tell you how much I don’t wanna be here. So this is wonderful because every other time that I tried to run away, like you were just forced to go back, it’s the walk.


    So I had family friends, this man who I call my dad. So he gets dad vote, he’s like the coolest guy ever. And he was one of my mom’s sister’s teachers. Like he, he ran a program for immigrants as well that taught life skills. She was gonna, that school when my mom was murdered and because she had to tell him she wouldn’t be at school, he came over that morning. So he met me the day my mom died and he said, I looked at you and I thought, oh my god, this little poor little girl and I’m gonna do whatever I can to help her and her brothers like as much as I can. And he did. He’s like, he was a successful world traveled businessman who like just zany, eccentric cookie funny guy. Very, very, very funny. He’s like the Robin Williams of my life.


    Like he’s so beautifully bighearted and everything’s possible for him. You know, everything’s like an opportunity. And so he always took care of me in the summer. Like he would have me over for weekends. Like he made sure I had shoes, school supplies, new clothes. Like he was always caring about me. So yeah, so he calls me cuz they called him and said no, she’s gonna be on the street, good luck. And he calls me and he is like, well I hear you need a place to st And I was like, well yeah, I haven’t got that far yet. I’m just packing. I don’t really know. I assumed I would just have to live on the street and I didn’t know what that would mean. I had a lot of rough friends, so I was probably gonna go down and hang out with those people anyway, he’s like, Hmm, I would really like you to live with me, would you do that?


    And I thought, are you kidding me? This the most secret dream I’ve ever had. I’ve never told anyone because in my world you don’t tell anyone about the things you care about cuz they’ll take them from you. So I had never said out loud I would wanna live with this guy. I dreamed of it. I dreamed like the Cinderella story. I was like, oh my god, please. Anyway. So I’m like, uh, yeah, like, and he was like, oh, I thought I’d have to argue with you. And I was like, no, I’m good. What’s that? I’ll be ready. And he came and picked me up and I lived with him for three years and he, he was like, that support. Plus I turned 18 and he goes, you know, I think you should go to school. I was like, I really hate school. Like, I gotta say it’s not been a good time.


    And he is like, I know, but I think the world’s gonna be kinder to you if you go to school and it’s not been kind already. Like, so let’s not, you know, poke the bear. I was like, ugh. It’s like, listen, I’ll pay your rent, you can get a loan, a student loan and I’ll pay your rent and you won’t have to worry about that. And you know, I was like, hmm. Anyway, so he drove me to my new apartment, found a new apartment. It was really, and then I got student loans and I remember applying for the student loan and the government rejected me. And I thought, really? And so I literally took like a loose leaf paper, like from my school, high school binder. And I wrote a letter that was just super candid and I was like, you know, when I was six my mom was murdered.


    I lived an absolute appalling, horribly traumatized and abused life. And now I wanna go to school and I want to borrow money. I’m not asking you to give it to me. And you say, no, you’re going to stop me from being better. I will be on welfare and you will have to give me money. So I suggest you lend it to me so that I can be a working person. And I wrote this like super, like, it was like so ghetto, like this super straightforward. Like, yo gimme my money, I’m borrow money bitch. Like, and I, I was approved and that has been like my life where I, if I am doing everything the way that you’re supposed to do things, nobody, it’s not a generous life for me. Like I really have to always be like, Hey, hey attention, I want that thing. And you say no, I’m gonna go around you and you say no, I’m gonna go up and around and under and through. Like I’m getting the thing that I want because people like me have to fight hard.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:45:43):

    So you, you get this loan, you go to school, how do you start to recover and, and become someone who helps others to recover?

    Iman Gatti (00:45:51):

    Well I think I thought like here we are. I’ve made it. I’ve survived the childhood. I’m good. Like you were saying with foster care, like go get ’em tiger. I’m like, I’m just lost. And I was really unprepared. I remember just inside that pain of like, everyone thinks I’m okay cuz I’m a very happy, funny, smiley person. So I will go to work, I will go to school and I will get the best grades and I will go to work and I’ll be the best employee in the Hawaii world and I’ll be the best friend you ever had. And I will have a really perfect boyfriend and everything looks freaking great. And then I go home and I lock all the doors and I’m snorting coke and drinking my fucking ass off. And I hate myself and I wish I would die. Maybe one day I will if I drink hard enough, but I gotta go to work tomorrow, so we’re gonna do it again tomorrow.


    Like, and it just became heartbreaking to me. Like I was like, I felt ashamed that I was dishonest. It felt fraudulent to be me. And I know nobody wants to hear how sad I am. So I was like, wow, I feel insane. This is a weird cycle that I just like try to be normal all day. And then I come home and I’m like, so I went to therapy like, I remember I was like, maybe, I always thought if I went to therapy like willingly, because I used to have to go to therapy for foster care that I would be told I was like crazy and that all be just locked up in a straight jacket and rock it back and forth in a rubber room and like, and it was the opposite. It was so compassionate and so beautiful. And it was the first time someone was like, oh my god, you poor thing.


    What was that like? And I was like, you care. Like even though I’m paying you, maybe you don’t really care, but like, you kind of seem like you carry the most caring person I’ve ever had to like talk to. So this is really cool. And I’m not insane. This is called complex post traumatic stress disorder. What’s that about? I’ve never heard that word. Outside of a veteran who was in war. All of these symptoms are not me. They’re not my personality. They’re symptoms of something else. Right. I always make the joke. I don’t have a personality, I just have symptoms of disorders. <laugh>,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:47:41):

    <laugh>. It’s true though. It’s, I was having this conversation with a friend of mine the other day and like sometimes I’m like, is that my personality or my issues? Like, I don’t know.

    Iman Gatti (00:47:49):

    Yeah, yeah. Like I’m actually totally gonna make a joke about that on TikTok. Cause it’s funny cause it’s like, I always thought I was like this, this is my personality and this, and it’s like, okay, so that’s because of this. I’m

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:47:59):

    Like, right, right. So it’s also, yeah, my personality. Yeah.

    Iman Gatti (00:48:02):

    Like I become my personality. My personality is a disorder. It just was relieving. It just felt like, babe, you’re okay. You know you’re gonna be okay. Like, I remember those words. You’re going to be okay. Is like one of the most relieving things. Like you’re not nuts, you’re not, you don’t have to kill yourself. You don’t like, you are not inherently flawed and hated by the universe and whoever created it like you are, you had a shit hand babe. And that is not okay. What happened to you? What do you wanna do now? Like, you’re allowed to be here. What do you wanna do with it? You don’t have to be here if you don’t wanna, but you’re here. Do you wanna make it better? And I remember thinking that. I was like, yeah, I, I do. I really wanna make it better. So I started just like caring for myself, which sounds like it’s overused, you know?


    Like in, we’re like, yeah, take care of yourself. Take care. Like we even tell people, you take care now. How if no one’s ever shown you outside of my mother for the si seven years and I, how many do you remember? Like, maybe like three or two of her. I don’t know how to take care of myself. So I started like working out. So working out became something that like, and I was listening, anyone listening, watching it like, don’t even come for me because I used to change my 20 cigarettes a day. I was the girl that would be like, I go to the gym, I have a cigarette right outside the gym and go to the gym, come back, I’ll have a cigarette and then go drink my face off. So like, I’m not the girl that was like, yeah, ok, yay. Let’s see. Like, no. I was like, I dunno. But people say exercises good for you. So I’m trying it out <laugh>, but like nothing else is good for me.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:49:25):

    <laugh>. Yeah. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. You gotta start somewhere, right?

    Iman Gatti (00:49:28):

    So it’s like, okay, we’re working out and my butt’s looking really cute. Wristed working out and the side effects of working out are like really quite good. So I was like, it’s working. I felt good. And then just like changing my relationships with people and having like, what are my values? What do I like about friends? What, what makes a friend? For me, like before, it was like anyone who gave me attention was I can, would consider a friend like anyone who wanted to be in my presence. And I would just be like, that’s great. Whereas I started to be like discerning. Like, no, my friends have these somewhat beliefs, you know, have to have somewhere on the integrity line of my integrity. Like this graph has to fit. You know, I deserve to be respected. Like people who are not respected for their most of their life.


    It’s very hard to, to understand that you, you could get respected if you, but you have to be the guard of that. And so having boundaries was important. And I, it really, it’s terrifying to have boundaries when you’ve never had them because it was not safe to have boundaries. And so telling people like, no, I won’t be around you if you do that is like, oh, I’m gonna be abandoned again. And I’m like, being alone and, and not loved is like one of my deepest fears from childhood. I started doing that and then it became like my father was moved to a prison nearby and that just threw me into a whole mental downward spiral. It was really, really scary because he had in my mind lived a month as a monster. Like, so he was the man who ruined everything. And I certainly blamed him for a lot of other things outside of his initial, you know, harm.


    Everything that ever happened to me after that was like his fault. And it’s not wrong. However, we have to take responsibility for ourselves too, right? Can be like, yeah, the reason I’m snorting this eight ball today is cause my father kept my mom on six. It’s like, dude, not everyone’s doing that. You’re crazy. Like you gotta stop blaming him. So he was moved to a prison in my neighborhood, like in my city. It was like 20 minutes from my house. And I was like, well that’s not like, I don’t feel good about that. Cause it was like minimum security. I was like, and in my mind it’s like, he’s gonna come kill me. I don’t know what the fear is, but I decided to go and confront him and that would make me feel better because I’ve gotten to a place, like for six months I knew he was there and I was having severe P T S D symptoms.


    I got to the point where I just thought maybe I should die. Like, I was just so low and it was just, it’s really torture to have P T S D. I don’t recommend it and nothing feels right anymore. Right? So I was like, but before I do the major Jurassic thing where I choose to vote myself off the island, I’m gonna go tell this guy off. That would make me feel good. Like, I just thought that would be a great ending. So I went to the prison and I was like shaking. And so I went and the parole officer, you know, the correctional officer is like helping me sign in and like get frisked, you know, whatever. Like, I was like, what? And I just have a panic attack and I run away and I just like ran out and I just chain smoking on the front steps of this prison, like on my best look.


    Then I go back in and I did it a couple times actually. Like, I just couldn’t breathe. Like I couldn’t breathe in the building. And she goes, honey, like maybe you’re not ready, you know, and I was like, I just remember feeling like she had, it was like a challenge when she said that to me. I felt challenged that this stranger was gonna tell me I wasn’t ready for something. I don’t know why, maybe I’m just oppositional defiant. But I just was like, go get him. I am ready. You don’t know me <laugh>. You know, like I just needed the little, I think I needed like a Yeah, yeah. You needed the push. Yeah. He comes out, he doesn’t recognize me for a good couple minutes. He’s staring at me, he thinks I’m a, a journalist and then he’s like, princess. And that was his nickname for me.


    And I was like, my throat closed. No words coming out of my mouth. I was so prepared. And then nothing happened. I got scared and I just nodded like I, uh, yeah, that’s me. And then he’s like, can I hug you? And I nodded. And it really startled me because my head was like, and I literally was a six-year-old child inside and I just wanted my father to hug me. And we hugged and I was like, we just sobbed. It was so weird. We just like sobbed in this weird little world and then got my shit together. I was like, oh, fuck off, don’t touch me. Like, alright, this is like my moment. Okay. I just wanted, my little girl wanted her daddy to hug her right One last time. That was, that was, that was what that was for me. It was like, then I was like, okay, now you can apologize.


    And he’s like, for what? And I’m like, okay, so stupid for killing my mom. And he’s like, oh my god, I you think I killed her? Oh no. And I did that, that exact reaction. I was like, <laugh> is this, am I being punked? You did kill her because I watched you. Never in my life did I imagine that he wouldn’t admit he did it out of every reality I had imagined of facing him, of like having never. And I thought, wow. Amen. You’re so dumb. You literally tried to have a rational conversation with an insane person. Do you think he believes that? No. Ok. But he’s a, he picked an answer and he stuck to it. He has never said otherwise. Ok. He has said so many weird things like, you know, I actually was hypnotized a few days before and I wonder if that made, you know, like he says weird fuck, he tried to plead insane.


    He tried like all this stuff and everyone’s like, dude, you just did it. Like you just, you planned it. You were, were absolutely in your right mind. He’s like, I was drinking like I saw you, you weren’t drunk. Nothing of it was sloppy. It was very calculated. Anyway, so I’m sitting there like, oh my god. And I heard in my head I was like, just get what you can. And I was like, so tell me about my mom. Oh, she like, nobody wants to talk about my mom. Tell me about her. And he was like, and he went into this like sleepy, like his eyes rolled in, like this place in his mind. And he just talked about her. I was there for like five hours and we cried, I cried, we laughed. I literally like, the stories were funny, you know, some of them were endearing.


    And I thought just amen. Just get what you can from someone. Right. When I walked outside, the air felt different, man. The air felt different on my face. I didn’t know how to die. I was like, I was so shocked that he was the same height as me. He’s not a big person. Like I’m five three. Like this is not a big man. He’s a small, like when you’re a kid, you looking up. Yeah. He was a muscular, in my opinion, taller man cuz he was like a whole half a body taller than me as an adult. This is a fat, ugly, bold. He a giant beard. And when I was a kid he was like shaved and he had like thick black hair, you know, like dark skin and like muscles. And I’m like, I’m looking at a senior citizen who has like a huge tummy and he’s like short, he’s almost a, he looks like an African Danny DeVito.


    Like, this guy’s not fucking scary. Like, you know, no offense to Danny cuz I love Danny, but like, this is not a, a monster by any means. And he had like this giant creepy, like creepy beard. I’m like, okay, I can grow on that since you got here, like an old religious man. Like, he was super creepy. Like it was weird. I was like, you were just old and weak. Like you’re not, I feel confident that if we tussled, like I could break you. Like I just really don’t feel threatened by this man, which was a nice feeling. So I left and I was like, yeah, that, that is the last time that anyone gets to live here. And I make up stories about how powerful they are. After that, everyone show me, you show me your power. I don’t like you don’t get any before you show it to me.


    So yeah. So after that I was like laughing kind of. I was like, oh my god. And I just kept, I’ve been in therapy for like 30 years. It’s a commitment and I’m sure it is, you know, a similar commitment to like being sober. Like every day. Just I am showing up every day. I am a traumatized person. I will always be a traumatized person. I am in recovery for the rest of my life. I will commit to myself for the rest of my life. Every day I have to recommit. Sometimes I have to do it several times a day. Sometimes I will not be any of the things that I was told I was.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:56:54):

    Tell me about what you’re do what you do today. You wrote a book, you obviously consult with people. What other kinds of work do you do? Yeah,

    Iman Gatti (00:57:02):

    So I wrote my memoir, cracked Open, never Broken on Amazon.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:57:05):


    Iman Gatti (00:57:06):

    And, and then I’ve written three children’s books for my daughter and every year I’m trying to write children’s books for her. So she has a library and I’m writing right now a book of poetry and a grief recovery handbook for people like helpful. But then I also work with clients one-on-one. I teach them grief recovery, but also I put grief recovery into everything that I do. So even people who don’t come to me specifically for grief recovery, we are going to get there eventually. Like, because everyone deserves to have that skill. I really think. So. Everyone deserves to have that skill to re recover from life. Like life is hard writing and speaking big fan. So if you have like, those things are my specialty. I’m writing legacy, you know, publications and helping people become speakers. I have a, you know, a program that helps people write their first memoir or write a memoir or legacy publication. Then I help people become a public speaker, start their business from nothing to a full-fledged online business of doing those things and helping their communities however they want. And I get hired for keynote speeches a lot, which is really lovely and my favorite thing to do. And I just became an instructor for the college that my mom went to when she died. And I’m really like, I can’t even, the full circle stuff in my life is so beautiful and I’m working as a teacher in a prison that my father was in.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:58:20):

    Wow. That’s really cool. Weird. That’s incredible. Where can people find you if they’re interested in learning more, getting in touch in any of your coaching programs, books, books, et cetera? If

    Iman Gatti (00:58:30):

    You go to my website, which I am updating right now, but so you can still go there, Iman getti.com, TikTok I love. So I’m a big fan of TikTok right now, like more than the other places. But you can find me everywhere at my full name. Um, eman Getti yet on Facebook, on Instagram. But TikTok is where I just have the best time. I feel like the people on there get it. I don’t know, it’s just like way more fun. Yeah. That’s where you can find me. And I, yeah, I would love to anytime to hear from anyone. I love hearing recovery stories. I love hearing, you know, what you don’t feel safe to say to anybody else. It’s always welcome.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:59:00):

    Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. My

    Iman Gatti (00:59:03):

    Pleasure. It was so fun. I goes fast. It’s a long time. <laugh>. Hope you enjoy it. I loved it.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:59:12):

    Well that was heavy.

    Scott Drochelman (00:59:13):

    It was, it was. I think it’s an important story and sort of the cannon of courage to change because uh, that’s a pretty tough one to bounce back from. I mean, I don’t, I that’s, I can’t really draw up a much worse upbringing for a six year old onwards. That’s a lot of bad stuff to happen to one little girl. I

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:59:34):

    Almost fell outta my chair where he didn’t never admitted to it. So when she went into the prison and to talk to him, and he still was like, yeah, what are you talking about bro? Definitely didn’t do that. And I was like, what? What the fuck this poor girl, like as if witnessing the murder is not bad enough. Dad’s gaslighting her. How how many years later, like that chip has sailed. Yeah. And this guy’s still go, I mean, and that’s, I just, oh

    Scott Drochelman (01:00:02):

    Man. I know. I was like, what do you think this visit’s about? What other reason would she have for not wanting any contact with you, you know, for this

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:00:11):

    Entire time?

    Scott Drochelman (01:00:12):

    I think it’s really interesting like that the idea of life is 25 years. I’m

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:00:17):

    Pretty sure that life in America is 20 years. That’s all right. Okay. So the rest of their natural lives or until parole. So a one life sentence imposes an obligation on a defendant to serve 15 to 25 years in prison until the eligibility of parole. So we have something similar. The youngest you can be is 18, but like, let’s call it a 25 year old, you’re still gonna be an a relatively old man by the time you get out. And so the idea is the likelihood of y your window of prime crime committing time is out the door.

    Scott Drochelman (01:00:55):

    But I wonder, I mean, I was curious from her perspective too, just like what that felt like. Surely that can’t feel like enough. But I would be curious, given the work that she’s doing in prisons now, what she feels like, I don’t know, it’s just a, it’s a, I’m just something I was curious about as I was hearing that. I was like, is that enough?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:01:12):

    I mean, I doubt she thinks that’s enough, but I think that’s also why we, you know, judges recuse themselves and we have conflicts of interest and things like that because when it is your, there’s no impartiality when things like that, you know, are are involved.

    Scott Drochelman (01:01:26):

    I thought it was really interesting just the, the part about she’s forced to go to this therapy as a part of her foster care, and then she tells nothing happens, it gets reported back to the foster parent mm-hmm.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:01:38):

    <affirmative> mm-hmm.

    Scott Drochelman (01:01:38):

    <affirmative>. And then she goes and lives back in that same situation, like how much danger that puts them in and how it’s quite a thing to put the onus on the child. And I don’t know, I would be curious to unpack like that practice or that way that we handle that situation because it does seem to put a lot of pressure and responsibility on a kid to like get themselves outta their situation. It’s gotta be this airtight thing before they even can get outta the situation. So like, how could I, in good conscience tell them it was worth the risk

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:02:12):

    The kid is not using, you know, the level of adult logic. They may be traumatized, they’re under, they’re, you know, malnourished. Like there’s so many other factors. It’s so complicated for them and they’re making split second decisions about what to do and whether or not the situation is safe. You know, you just, you can’t expect that to go well a lot of the time or or to, to be a, a really great way to suss out people who are being abusive. But I think, you know, she made a point about foster parents needing better vetting. And I don’t know, you know, I I I worked in the foster care system in, in Los Angeles, and the hard part is you have typically three options, right? You have the, the shitty situation they’re coming from that you have a group home where you’re in a home with or, or an emergency holding facility, and then you have the foster home and you don’t have enough of the foster homes.


    So maybe you assure more in than should be. And it’s like, it’s just such a horribly imperfect system and you think, how do these people get to be foster parents? But then are those other two circumstances viable at all? But I I, I love that she’s doing the grief work. I think one thing that we don’t talk about enough, right? Everybody dies. We all know this, we all have this information and we’re all going to lose people we love over the course of our lives. So grief work is pretty vital to being a person and knowing how to grieve and knowing how to show up for grieving people. And I actually find of all the, the show up skills that I have for people and all the therapeutic skills I have, grief I find the hardest because it isn’t, it’s, there isn’t a do or a solve or a this or that. Like it was really a tough thing to show up for for people. And I like that she’s doing teaching people how to do that, teaching them, you know, to offer it to others and, and, and what that looks like and how to be in grief recovery because it is something that is literally applicable to all of

    Scott Drochelman (01:04:19):

    Us. There’s a comedian that I really like, Rob Delaney, and he lost a child and he talks about grief a lot. And there was something that he said, which I really liked, which he just said, don’t offer all the platitudes, you know, just let us know if there’s anything that we can do. Anything’s like that, that instead he’s like, just sit with the person and like, hold on to a little piece of their grief for a little bit. They’re carrying around this giant burden on their shoulders. And if you can just like hold a little piece of it for a little bit and give them a little break and just let them and don’t have to clean it up, literally just like hold this horrible thing alongside them. And that’s uncomfortable. But I think that that’s, that’s the truth of it, is that they’re just carrying around this immense, immense thing.


    And if you can just be there to like, hold it for a minute, sit in the awkward, uncomfortable, horrible thing that it is that that’s, that’s actually helping people as opposed to just like I say all these things that sound nice and they sound like I’m caring, but I’m not really, or the other thing that Yaman actually mentioned was just like, she’s like, just pretend like you work for that person. All of a sudden just pretend that like you’re hired on. And so you just start like trying to help in practical ways, like just mm-hmm. <affirmative> just, just show up, just show up and now you’re like part of the team and you’re, you just are like looking for problems to help with and you’re just jumping in like that instead of being like, yep, okay, when you’re ready and you want to come up with a little to-do list for me, they don’t wanna do that.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:05:48):

    Yeah. It’s, there’s a lot of like logistical stuff that you can help with that give people space to, to grieve because you can’t take the grief from them. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,

    Scott Drochelman (01:05:56):

    You know, well, yeah, this was a hard, this was a hard one. So I think this, you know, find a way to take care of yourself. To Ashley’s point, I have worked in foster care as well, and if you are hearing that and you’re unhappy with the situation that there’s a lot of people that are forced into bad situations and that feels like something that is in the capacity of your ability, then maybe go look around where you live. And I guarantee whoever’s doing foster care would be very happy to have people come out and, and at least offer their services. Whether or not it works out exactly who’s to say, but I don’t think that there are any foster care programs in the nation that are just flushed and full of competent, caring parents that want to help out. Ashley, anything that you wanna leave the people with this week?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:06:46):

    I wanna echo what Scott said. I invite you to find ways to be helpful to people who are struggling this week. All right guys. See you next time.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:06:58):

    This podcast is sponsored by Lion Rock dot. Life Lion rock.life is a diverse and supportive recovery community offering weekly over 70 online peer support meetings, useful recovery information and entertaining content. Whether you’re newly sober, have many years in recovery or you’re recovering from something other than drugs and alcohol, we have space for you. Visit www.lionrock.life today and enter promo code courage for one month of unlimited peer support. Meetings free. Find the joy in recovery@lionrock.life.


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