Kids are kids...right? Devastating new research says "no"

It starts at age 5.

No, I'm not talking about Kindergarten where my 5 year old will be this Fall. I'm talking about the "adultification" of black girls. A brand new study by Georgetown Law's Center on Poverty and Inequality found that black girls are seen as "less innocent and less in need of protection than white girls,". Lead author Rebecca Epstein says that this bias can help explain why...

"Black girls are 5x more likely to be suspended as white girls, and twice as likely to be suspended as white boys.

Black girls make up just under 16% of the female school population, but account for 28% of referrals to law enforcement, and 37% of arrests.  White girls account for 50% the female school population, but only 34% of referrals and 30% of arrests. 

Black girls are nearly 3x as likely to be referred to the juvenile justice system as white girls.

Black girls are 20% more likely to be charged with a crime than white girls."

I was asked recently why African American women were more likely to be abused*. My internal reaction was incredulous. How could centuries of racism not make black women more likely to be victims of violence? This new report makes sense in a similar way. If black girls are (seen as) less deserving and more knowledgable about adult topics, they will certainly be more likely to be treated as adults. And that bias will extend to sexuality. Black girls are also more likely to be seen as hypersexual. Hypersexuality is a familiar stereotype about black women. With this evidence (although not explored in the report) it's little wonder that black girls are more susceptible to sexual abuse.

The report calls on lawmakers and policy wonks to "look at this disparities" and "pursue reforms,". Yes. And it's not just on lawmakers. Very little would happen if we relied on lawmakers to be the ones pushing reform. it's actually on all of us to create the needed change. We need to look at our own biases. Who do we follow? What do we watch? Where do we spend our time? How do we talk about equity in our family? It's on all of us.

The door is wide open on this one. Everyone can fit through and make a difference, especially the white folks. You can start today.

*Only Alaska Native or American Indian women are abused at higher rates.

Wanted: Folks Who Want to Make Better Decisions

I posted about this earlier this week on Facebook. What? You're not over there? Come on! Those peeps get all the first hand details, always...

Long before I was a trauma educator, before I even started working with survivors, I was a life coach who worked with individual clients and offered personal growth workshops. I designed a really cool values discovery tool about 15 years ago. In the years since, I have tweaked and used in different ways with clients and in support groups. In 2007, I offered an ebook with this tool. I still get a lot of requests for coaching. So earlier this year I decided to update and re-launch my values discovery tool. This summer, I am doing it! So now, I'm looking for testers for my newly updated personal values discovery book. If you are interested in being a tester, I ask that you read this entire post and follow directions at the bottom. Thanks!

chris-barbalis-290589.jpg

This tool is ideal for people who:

  • feel overwhelmed by choices;
  • tend to doubt their decisions or second guess themselves;
  • don’t do self-care well or for whom the idea of self-care feels foreign;
  • struggle with feeling satisfied by their life;
  • have a hard time prioritizing themselves.

If all of this seems like I'm reading your mind, you are an ideal tester!

If when reading the above you feel hesitant, like some of it applies or maybe it applies under certain circumstances, you are likely not an ideal tester. If none of this feels applicable, you are definitely not an ideal tester. You are the expert of you so I defer to you on whether or not you are an ideal tester. And, I really need folks who are ideal testers. And if you aren't sure, read the following bit:

This tool is not for you if you...

  • are clear in your dreams/goals;
  • make decisions easily and seldom doubt your choice;
  • engage regularly in self-care;
  • generally feel happy, satisfied and successful in your life

Here's a few more details:

Question #1: What is this book about?

The book is composed of a self-guided tool to help you discover your 5 personal values. It will also have a few values "success stories" from women who have been using their values (as discovered by their work with me, using this tool). 

Question #2: What are values?

I define values as "a unique way of being or believing that you hold personally significant," 

Question #3: What do values do?

Values help us:

  • make better decisions;
  • care for ourselves better;
  • respect ourselves as individuals worthy of love, attention and care.

You're here! Okay, please read the last few details, to learn more about what you can expect as a tester and what I need from you...

What you get from me:

  1. A PDF format (on Monday 7/24) that will contain:
    1. 5 different values discovery activities. They are self-directed but you can do any of them with a partner if you wish.
    2. Sample list of values.
    3. A blank page for the personal values you discover.
    4. Feedback forms; 1 per values activity + 1 final one.

What I need from you:

  1. You will send back to me your feedback forms, your page with your 4-5 values and at least 2 of the values discovery activities so I can see your thinking. These can be copied pages; you don’t have to send me back the original. I need back your documents back by end of day Monday September 4. They can be scanned and emailed to me or postal mailed. Whatever is easier for you.
  2. Confidentiality. You cannot share/sell/trade/give away any section of the PDF. It's my work. You can discuss what you're doing on the Facebook page.

What you need to know:

1. Plan on anywhere from 15-45 minutes per discovery.

2. You commit to doing 1 discovery per week. 

3. You will get your PDF packet around July 24 and you have until September 1 to do them. That’s 6 weeks for 5 discoveries so you have an extra week if you need it.

4. You cannot copy/share/sell, etc. any part of the tester PDF…blank or completed. Again, it’s proprietary information that I developed. 

5. Please know that I can't accept everyone as a tester, likely no more than 8-12 people. 

6. If you do complete everything by September 1 and return to me as requested, I will give you a coupon code that you can share with anyone (or use yourself!) for 25% off the final product. 

7. When you return your materials to me, you are giving me permission to use your language/writing/value. Your name will not be linked to your words, value, writing, language. To be clear: I will NOT use your name in any way.

If this all sounds interesting to you, please click here to complete the interest form. I will then follow up via email. Thank you so much for your interest!

Entry is closed at this time.

One last thing- the deadline to submit the above form is Wednesday July 19, 5:00 pm. EST.

Love Is The Answer = Myth, Peril and Prison

"All you need is love."

"Love means never having to say you're sorry."

"Good girls love bad boys."

Add in princesses, mega weddings, the pressure to be coupled and of course you'll believe that the answer is love.

But love is never The Answer, especially when things aren't good or are downright bad. The issue of love must be factored out of the hard questions you ask yourself. Questions like:

"Should I stay?"

"Why don't they ever______?"

"When will they stop thinking only of themselves?"

"What do I need to do to make this work?"

If you're asking any of these questions, chances are your gut has already told you love isn't enough. But it's hard to let go of the idea of love being the answer or at least a good enough reason to stay.

Sometimes it helps to remind you of what's behind your questions. Are you feeing loss, loneliness or pain? Is there a lack of trust or an inability to honor a boundary? Do you feel resentful, tired, frustrated or anger? If any of this rings true, here's what I know to be true:

  • If they control you with money, threats, intimidation, "the silent treatment" or isolation, it doesn't matter if you love them. Their focus on using power to control you means your relationship is no longer equal.

  • If they drink when you've asked them not to, brush off your concerns, or have all the answers, it doesn't matter if you love them. Disrespecting your "no" means you both no longer share values.

  • If their mental heath issue is "the reason" for a lack of communication/sex/emotional support/ co-parenting, it doesn't matter if you love them. They aren't able to keep their word and honor their commitments.

  • If your choices, interests, career or job don't matter as much as theirs, it doesn't matter if you love them. They aren't able to support your personal growth, only theirs.

  • If they minimize situations, deny your feelings or manipulate you into doing what they wants, it doesn't matter if you love them. They don't respect you as a person, let alone a partner.

It also doesn't matter if they say that they love you. Because saying the words and showing them with acts of kindness, respect and a willingness to communicate are different things.

anthony-delanoix-33068.jpg

People change. Your partner may be doing something now that they never did before. People change. The disappointment, shock and eventual fatigue can feel devastating. It was for me. But what I learned and know now is that no amount of effort on your end or mine can reverse those changes. What matters in a relationship is if both people are able and want to change together.

Here's a question for you: how often do you hear "I'm sorry," or something similar from your partner?

In a healthy relationship, you hear "I'm sorry,"...from both people. An apology is a vulnerability exchange and a willingness to talk about what went wrong. That's an answer where loves does live, the space where things are being worked on together. 

You deserve more than love. You deserve respect, attention, honesty, kindness and commitment. Love isn't enough. It never was. And it never will be.

But you are enough.

On your own.

Or with a partner.

With kids.

Or without.

You're enough. Love isn't.

Not "Better" but "Different": How to Make Your Own Fortune

One rape survivor spent years in therapy and decided to press charges against her rapist.

One rape survivor made changes to her life, work and cut off all ties with her family.

And your path may be completely different.

You're looking forward. You're following your own path. Is someone else's path better? Maybe. Do they do it differently? Does your thing (stuffed rabbit, healing from trauma, strawberry pie) look different than theirs? Yes. Is that "better"? No. It's different.

Don't stop doing your thing because someone else's way may look better or "normal". Never doubt that your path is valid. Their thing isn't better. It's different because they are different from you. So above all else, keep doing your thing. And consider claiming that path more robustly. Do it with intention. Make it more "you" than it is now:

  • Join a Twitter chat and claim your expertise about the topic;

  • Tell us why you do the thing you do or why you chose the path you did;

  • Add your name to an online discussion, blog comment section or Facebook post.

When you embrace your difference, what makes you unique, you do three things for yourself:

1) You worry and stress less. Looking inward moves you away from angst over whether someone is doing better, moving faster, or more "okay" than we are.

2) You stay in our own lane. When you're there, you're better able to concentrate on you. Not fall into the "compare is despair" trap.

3) You are more effective. Not spending time on looking at other people's paths, allows you to focus time more smartly on you.

Give "better" away. Your path can work. Just do it with intention.

Posted on June 20, 2017 and filed under Work, Advocacy, Inspiration.

The Best, First Thing Isn't Your Belief

You want to do the right thing. And your friend/sister/partner may sense your willing spirit. They yearn to share their story without feeling judged. But they worry about being "too much". They've been told to "get over it,", that they are making a "big deal" or that they are "too sensitive". It happens to them a lot. You may know this. So you want to be different. But the best, first thing you can do for them isn't "I believe you,".

In the past, their story hasn't always mattered. Friends looked away. Folks from church changed the subject. Family walked out. Sometimes, even the abuse became the focal point, instead of their experience. The survivor were urged to press charges or make a complaint. Survivors have often felt the bigness of their abuse, and less their own power as a person.

Yet, survivors need to feel powerful. Power and control was yanked from them in a painful way. Being able to share their story as they would like to gives back some of that power. There is satisfaction in getting to tell a story in their own way. In the re-telling, they get to choose how the story ends. Your "I believe you," is a sentence that not only takes power away but it also ends their story.

The best, first thing a survivor needs is the chance to share their story on their own terms. Wait for them. It may take years. But when they feel safe, they will speak. Then you listen until your gut tells you that they are done. After, you check in on that feeling. "Is there anything else?" you could ask. You wait.

This is hard.

It's easier to barrel in, try to get the whole story, to learn everything. But no matter how hungry you are for connection or answers, their life is not for your consumption.

A time may come in your relationship with them when your gut may urge you to offer, "I believe you,". And if it feels right and true, you can share that. And then again, you may never get that feeling. That's okay too. By this time, the survivor will know you are on their side. And you will both know that while the best, first thing isn't always the easiest, it's often the kindest.

Posted on June 5, 2017 and filed under Advocacy, Abuse.