Why You Should Ditch The People Who Say "get over it"

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Abuse isn't something to "get over".

You were hurt. It was painful and horrible, not fair. You didn't deserve it. It wasn't your fault. You have the right to be angry, mournful, actively sad or any emotion at all about what happened.

Don't let anyone try to rob you of your feelings about the abuse. People who say "get over it" or ask when you will be over it, are attempting to control you to make themselves more comfortable. They have no right to do that.

Don't let them control you.

You are fine, just as you are. And if you are not fine, you should consider getting making changes so you aren't feel healthier. You deserve that. People people minimizing your experiences or your feelings are not worthy of you.

Remember The First Best Thing and go from there when you're building (or dismantling) relationships.

Kitchen Confidential: Normalizing Peer Support for Abuse Survivors

Everyone knew that Chief of Police William J. Obanhein was "an abusive drunk,". A member of the police force for almost thirty-five years, Obanhein became famous after an appearance in Arlo Guthrie's song, Alice's Restaurant. During his time in the department, two of his sons died and one disappeared. But in the 1960's "no one cared if your father beat you," as my mom told me about Chief Obanhein. Apparently no one also cared that the chief of police was also beating his wife.

Not only did no one care but even if they did, there were no resources to help:

  • Crisis lines and shelters were rare and informal;

  • "Wife beating" became grounds for divorce in New York in 1962 but only after a "sufficient" number of beatings took place.

  • Federal laws related specifically to domestic violence didn't exist until the late 1970's;

  • Not even the people in the medical field were a support for abused women. References to battered women were sexist, victim-blaming with theories like wives "have a masochistic need that their husbands’ aggression fulfills."

Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

Family violence was far from the public health threat that it is viewed as today. It was not until the early 70's that women began to talk about physical violence in the home. Most gathered in volunteers' homes providing what would become the first "support groups". It was a beginning that not only made sense from an evolutionary perspective but also a safety one. If you're an abused wife, it's easier to cross the street to your neighbor's than to head downtown to an office.

It's been 40+ years since support groups started in homes. Domestic violence and sexual abuse are recognized as public health threats. Some survivors feel safe speaking out. The general public is learning how to respond better. And yet, we have a long road ahead of us.

Most domestic violence (and rape crisis) agencies do good work. But agencies also operate under-staffed and on a shoestring budget, dependent on vanishing grant money. Pay is low, martyrdom is common, burn out is frequent. Agencies also often lack a trauma-informed approach to support and care for survivors. But, one of the biggest challenges are survivor's increasingly complicated needs.

Survivors may be dealing with the trauma of institutionalized racism, poverty, mental health challenges and childhood neglect on top of violence. They may have a different gender identity which can complicate services and access to support. Survivors may also be visiting social services agencies for support and care. If they are a victim of a crime, they are also dealing with law enforcement and the court system...neither of which are set up to support the survivor. Survivors may need housing, help paying for medications and food, in addition to a safety plan. In short, a survivor's  needs today are more complicated than the average woman coming through a shelter door in 1980.

Who better to relate to the multi-dimensional needs of an abuse survivor than another survivor who has dealt with similar layers of oppression? A peer, someone with whom you have a shared common experience, is exactly the person to provide ongoing support to an abuse survivor.  I have been facilitating peer led, abuse survivor support groups for almost 18 months. Before that I offered psycho-educational support groups at a local domestic violence agency. {I did not identify as a survivor when facilitating the latter group.}. In a peer support group, I'm just another person with a similar experience. That's very powerful for everyone. More on peer support here.

My mom was wrong. We do care when someone is hurt. But we don't often know how to help.

Once upon a time, though, we learned to help as peers, as fellow survivors, as neighbors in a community where we live. That's the way forward again. Gathering around kitchen tables in neighbor's homes to offer support, understanding and consistency. At this critical time in our history where informed support is rarer than ever and public resources are threatened, there is no better time to pivot back to our origins. To bring survivor support back into the homes and communities in which it started in.

Join me.

Dumb, brave or vulnerable? You've got a feeling...

How are you doing today? 

What is the emotion that's going on for you right now? For me, it's impatience. I'm wanting resolution about something and it hasn't happened yet. I feel impatient and cranky about that.

Often we answer "fine" when someone asks us how we are doing. Even if we aren't fine. We don't want to be too much for someone else or for our "stuff" to overwhelm them. We tend treat the person asking as if they aren't quite capable of taking care of their own needs. 

We need to do better...by them and us.

When we own how we are feeling, we acknowledge it. We give it the credit it is due. And when we do that, we are better able to accept the feeling and move through it. It is counter-intuitive but acknowledging how we are feeling allows us to control the emotion, instead of feeling like you are being managed by your emotions.

So let's try it again- how are you doing today?

There is a list of 30ish feelings above. Choose one, two or even three and leave me a comment below.

Is yours there? Leave me a comment below and tell me what to add to this list.

Thanks for reading. 

Posted on July 28, 2017 and filed under Personal Identity, Personal Growth.

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!

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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.