“Silence is consent! Why didn’t you say anything? You wanted it, just admit it”. Those were the words that kept swirling around in Made’s head as she clutched her purse and her shoes in one hand, while squeezing together parts of her clothes as if they would cover the imaginary nakedness she felt.
Although most people barely noticed her, she felt like all eyes were watching her with judgement. She felt shame, guilt, condemned and an overwhelming sense of aloneness. A trip to her friend’s house had ended up as one of the worst days of her life.
“Why didn’t I say anything truly?” She wondered. Her friend Jamie had said he needed help with the new assignment just delivered to them at school. Made was in his neighbourhood and figured she may as well stop by his place to get that out of the way. It won’t be the first time she would go to Jamie’s house, or be alone with him in the house. They have been friends since high school and now in the same university. She trusted him (or so she thought).
Once the assignment was done, Jamie had offered her food, she ate and slept off on the couch. Not the first time she would collapse in sleep over there. But this time, she awoke to the feel of the hands on her thighs. Her eyes flew open when she realized what the hand was trying to do, as she opened her eyes, she was shocked to see realize this was a case of rape and not a question of if she was interested.
Before she had a chance to scream, he covered her mouth with his hands. With his other hands, he signaled for her to hush, before showing her the knife he had placed on the table.
Could she ever forgive Jamie for asking her “why didn’t you scream, if you did not want it. Haven’t you heard silence is consent”? That was a question she was not ready to answer yet. The bigger question was why was he more disappointed at her who was the victim than he was at his own father who raped he under their roof?
Were you also thinking, well, if it was Jamie’s father, why didn’t she scream for help? Do you also agree silence is consent? By your logic, if silence is consent, why then do you remain silent on the topic of ending sexual violence in our society. Is your silence meaning you want this menace to continue? If no, then here is how you can help. If yes, then keep keeping mute. For God’s sake, it better be the former!
Anyone who has been through any type of trauma may have experienced or will experience ‘being triggered’. But I have come to learn that not everyone knows how to manage these triggers when they occur, more so being proactive about it. In my last post, I wrote about understanding triggers, now let us learn how to manage triggers.
Managing triggers may sound very simple, but they may not be as easy as they sound, however, it is completely doable. You will just need to give yourself time to understand yourself and your patterns in determining what works best for you. I will split this into three main parts on how to manage your triggers: pre-trigger, ‘trigger-crisis’ and post-trigger.
Managing Yourself Pre-Trigger
Understand your triggers:Pay attention to the things that cause you triggers. In the last post, we talked about internal and external triggers. Are your triggers more internal (such as fear, anxiety, panic) or external (environments, certain people and places). Do they occur at certain times of the day, month? How about maybe around specific seasons? For example, I noticed the birth and death anniversaries of my parents and brother are triggers for me, including Christmas (my dad died a little over a week to Christmas). I got depressed and overwhelmed a lot around these periods. Problem is they always snuck up on me, which leads to the second thing.
Name and Prepare for your triggers: Once you can pinpoint your triggers, name what you feel when they set in (for example, panic or depressed), then prepare for it. As mentioned earlier, the triggers I experienced used to sneak up on me, but once I understood the dates and time, I prepared. One thing I did was:
Initiate the thoughts myself rather than let it come in haphazardly. For instance, I would think ahead of things I am grateful for about the lives of my loved ones who had passed and those still here with me. This sort of ‘redirected my feelings’ and I was better prepared when the negative feelings came.
Engage your support system:Talk to at least one person whom you trust who can tell behavioral or psychical signs in you, and if need be, stop it in its tracks. For example, I start to get irritated for no reason. Sometimes, my husband calls me out on it, and I know I need to scale back on stress.
Decide on a ‘happy place’:This can be a person, place, thing or memory that brings you so much joy. For me, my family is my happy place. More to come on this.
Managing Yourself During a Trigger-Crisis
The steps to manage yourself in this sounds the simplest, yet the hardest. It is kind of like trying to cure a sickness rather than working to prevent it. Takes more effort (energy). But here are some things that can help:
Admit to yourself that you have been triggered and acknowledge the feeling. This is like gliding with the wind, rather than fighting against it.
Practice deep-breathing (this helps calm your nerves)
If the trigger was a familiar object, close your eyes and combine it with #2
If you can find an object, shift focus to it.
Picture your ‘happy place’: This is why it is important to decide the happy place before a crisis. In the middle of the crisis, it is easier to ‘go there’ when it is pre-determined.
Call someone who can help you keep calm or remind you of these steps
Have an internal affirmation: This can be anything. My go-to was “Jesus help me”.Also, muttering something like “this is not real” can help too.
Managing Yourself Post-Trigger
Relax:Do not try to rush off to the next thing. Your body has just gone through stress. Stress is not the next thing it needs.
Journal:Again, do not try to do this right after a trigger-crisis. But not too far either that you forget. Write down all you can remember (what helped and what didn’t). Soon enough, you will notice a pattern and that can help you be better prepared next time.
In addition to the above, the following are also ways of managing triggers:
Exercise:this helps balances hormones in your body and reduces stress. Personally, I find, stress is my number one undoing.
Eating clean:Also hormone related, but you feel better energy overall, which helps.
Therapy:I have personally never undergone therapy, but it definitely can work. Depending on how severe it is, it’s probably advisable to see a professional.
Have a Support System:whether it is someone (people) actively praying for you or who you can call when triggered, you need positive and compassionate people around you.
Meditation & Prayer:I am a Christian, and this is by far what worked the most for me. Engaging the truth of God’s Word for me through mediation, confession and prayer was and continues to be the best thing for me. If you have no relationship with Christ, I encourage you to re-think (and feel free to send me a message)
So there it is people, these are some ways you can manage triggers, and/or help someone you know experiences such. I must say that I am not a psychologist, or a therapist. These are drawn from my personal experience dealing with triggers and what worked for me overtime. I know first hand triggers and the experience they bring can get in your way of living life to the fullest, but it does not have to be that way.
What have you tried, did it work? Share with me me in the comments below.
Would you agree that a problem you don’t understand you cannot effectively deal with? Same holds true for understanding triggers.
As someone who experienced trauma, I had a lot of triggers. On my parents’ birthday or death anniversaries, I used to get depressed. Or when I spoke to certain people from my past, I would have flashbacks and panic attacks. And when I felt overwhelmed or had too much on my plate? I would feel extreme stress and getting out of bed became a hassle.
But at the time, I did not understand these things, hence, became a victim to them. There are some people who experience triggers but do not understand what it is or what is happening to them. I would know, seeing that was me, once. So, I do not want the same for my readers or someone else out there.
Today, I want to share with you what triggers are. When you understand those unsettling feelings, you are half-way to solving them, because you know what the issue is.
What is a Trigger?
If we want to keep it simple, trigger is simply anything, person or event that reminds you of the past. Much more than a reminder of the past, triggers are characterized by an uncomfortable and overwhelming feeling of sadness, stress, anxiety or panic. These feelings make it hard for the person to ‘be in the present’, almost as if they are ‘trapped’ elsewhere.
Types of Triggers
Triggers can be internal or external. These two types would often fall between the categories of environment, emotions or exposure. Some examples of internal triggers include:
Memory to previous trauma
Feeling overwhelmed/out of control
Examples of external triggers include:
Anniversary dates of traumatic events
Senses (touch, smell, sight, sound)
Poor physical health
Other stressors such as financial issues, too many activities
These are not exhaustive lists. Triggers also differ for each person. If left unchecked, triggers can become more frequent and lead to addictive behaviour such as drinking, substance abuse and in some cases suicide. These are coping mechanisms, but bad ones that only lead to more problems.
Again, I would know because I had once tried to cope- but the wrong way. And yes, I ended up with addiction, negative behaviours and poor emotions. I even became suicidal. It didn’t have to be this way for me. Neither should it be for you.
The good news is, I am getting better and overtime, I have understood this idea of triggers and how to manage them. In the next write-up, I will share some of my coping mechanisms and how I have managed triggers. Have you ever been triggered and did not know? Would you like to share with me?
“Woman, Thou Art Loosed”! It is a book title authored by Bishop T. D. Jakes. There is a movie on the title as well. I have read the book and seen the movie. You should see it or read it. Thank me later. *wink*
DISCLAIMER- many men will see ‘WOMAN’ and be like this is not for me. Don’t you dare close this. Read on and be on the right side of history. Plus a woman birthed you! (Imagine me saying that in my nicest voice). Moving on.
No, I am not about to do a review on the book or the title, I am trying to make a point here. Stay with me? Thank you. But first…
…Did you know that in this month of March (by the way, Happy New Month). Where was I? Right! In this month of March, we celebrate women all over the world. Precisely, March 8th has been designated to celebrate women and create awareness on the challenges women face.
You know what the theme of this year is? #choosetochallenge. Basically we are to challenge an idea, culture, bias, etc. against women. And I will be challenging an idea, trust me, but before I do that, let me challenge you first- WOMAN.
This is the part where I go back to “Woman, thou art loosed”. You still with me? Great. You are the best, you know that? *chuckle*. Okay, focus! “Woman thou art loosed” is basically a story of letting go, forgiveness and finding freedom for a woman who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend.
The catch in that story for me is that this woman was challenged by Bishop Jakes to forgive, because for as long as she held on to the unforgiveness, it was eating her (not her rapist) up. As such, she was challenged to make a CHOICE- heal and be made whole (to which forgiveness is a KEY component) or remain hurting and not be able to move forward.
Why am I talking about this with you? Phew, I was wondering when you were going to ask. Hey, no need to feel ‘heavy’ now. Relax, okay? But seriously, historically women have been through a lot. Personally, ‘woman thou art loosed’ was a reflection of ME, and I understand the challenge Bishop made to that woman. God placed same demand on me.
Your case may not be rape or abuse, maybe it is a mindset that has held you back from moving forward in life. But dare I say to you that the world can hold challenges all they want ‘fighting your cause’, but if you WOMAN are bound, you will never be able to walk in the fullness of your God-given purpose and freedom.
Many of us have imbibed the wrong mindset, attitude and identity. Let me ask YOU, how many times have you said to yourself (or heard someone say)- “I cannot do this”, “I don’t think they are looking for someone like me”, “I doubt they will allow a black woman” or one we join society to say “women are not supposed to….”
Dear woman, as I join the #choosetochallenge, let me challenge you first- deal with the things holding you back! Challenge the mindset and perspectives that have held you bound. God is counting on YOU to accept the identity He has given you.
Dear MAN (now you see why it was a bad idea to run off?), I want you to challenge your belief and mindset about how you view woman. With the right perspective, you will know that many things societal values have used to ‘bound’ women were not so IN THE BEGINNING. So you have a part to play. Would you like to raise your daughters in that same perspective you currently hold?
In the next write-up, I will share tips on how to challenge your mindset (or maybe it will be on my YouTube channel). Either way, you can expect that from me.
WOMAN, before I leave you go, let me rephrase Bishop’s book and video title for you- WOMAN, ARE THOU LOOSED?! Think on that as you anticipate the tips I will be sharing with you.
PS: I want to invite you to join the #choosetochallenge campaign. Click to learn and join. Meanwhile, how do you like my picture for the challenge? I took several (such a pain taking pictures) before landing this one. Through LoudSilences, I choose to challenge the culture of silence impacting issues women face.
Empowering a girl child or a woman is not a privilege, it is her right, for which she has equal right to access- Anita Adefuye
Special shout out to Karibs Foundation for choosing me as the face of Karibs for this challenge. It is an honour and I do not take it lightly.
“Bimpe, Bimpe, Bimpe! How many times did I call you? This life you want to live will not benefit you one bit. Change!”. Mrs. Daniels was trying to advice Bimpe about not ‘selling herself cheaply to me’. “Excuse Me, what is your excuse this time?” Bimpe fired back. “What did you say?” Mrs. Daniels asked. “You heard me, what is your excuse this time, Ma?” Look me in the eyes and tell me this is the first time you are hearing of this kind of act from one of these so-called Elders and Pastors.
Mrs. Daniels is the Pastor’s wife. She had called a meeting with Bimpe, Mr. Oye (one of the elders within the church), and some of the Associate Pastors. They were here to discuss Bimpe’s supposed ‘unbecoming’ relationship with Mr. Oye. It started about three months back when Mr. Oye offered her a ride home after church service. Naturally, they chatted on the ride to Bimpe’s home. He asked about her family, her plans for what she wanted to study in the university, normal small talk. The conversation with Mr. Oye made her feel like the leaders of the church were not as detached as she often felt.
So of course, next time Mr. Oye offered her a ride, she suspected nothing. Turned out her house is routed somewhere between the church and Mr. Oye’s house. As such, she was glad to give him her number when he offered to pick her up on his way to church every Sunday. Mrs. Oye also seemed like a nice person as they rode to and from church with her each Sunday. Bimpe’s parents didn’t go to church much and were hardly around, so it was nice to have this couple watch out for he in this way.
Then one day, as she prepared to go to sleep right around 10pm, she got a text message- it was from Mr. Oye- a picture. “Wait, is that what I think it is?” She thought. Why would Mr. Oye be sending her a picture like that? And at this time of the night? Another text came in shortly- “this could be yours, let’s talk in the morning”.
Bimpe felt an uneasy feeling in her, she thought to cancel her ride with the Oyes to church the next morning. But then she figured, Mr. Oye would not do or say anything stupid in front of his wife. Besides, right now, she could not make alternate plans for her ride to church. She decided to go to church with them, but she was going to give Mr. Oye a piece of her mind and tell him she did not rides with him anymore. And with that thought, she went off to sleep.
Bimpe was shocked to see Mr. Oye was alone in the car the next day. Her heart was pounding hard, as she stepped into the car. There was an awkward silence for about twenty seconds and Mr. Oye spoke up- “so what do you think about my text last night?” She drew in a deep breath, and then said “I would appreciate it Sir if you don’t try to throw money in face or even ask me out again, and I will forgive your indiscretion with that picture last night, but please know this is my last ride with you”.
Wearing a wide grin, he turned slightly to her and said “I have had my eyes set on your for a long time. I promise I will be good to you. My wife travelled and I am thinking we could go back to my place after church?”. “You are a leader in church, and you are married! Why would I want to go to your place with you, and to do what exactly?” Bimpe fired back. At that point, Bimpe had heard enough. “Please stop the car”, She said quietly.
She frantically looked out through the window, looking for a signpost that could show where they were. Looking back at Mr. Oye, she started to scream “where are you taking me? Stop this car!” Her screams were met with silence. She brought out her phone and started to dial a number, but she did not pay attention to Mr. Oye who quickly snatched the phone from her. She started to plead with him to please let her go, but it was falling on deaf ears.
He pulled into a corer which seemed like a lonely road. Before she could say anything else, Mr. Oye pounced on her. With one hand he reclined her chair, while the other had her pinned down, supported by the weight of his body. Determined not to let him have his way, she wiggled around, tried to fight him off, but the fact that she was wearing a skirt did not help.
Bimpe was starting to get tired and weak, but Mr. Oye was not. She silently prayed to God to please help her because at this point, most of the buttons on Bimpe’s shirt had come off, her skirt was pushed up to her waist, Mr. Oye was definitely winning this battle, and a part of her was about to give in, then a miracle happened. They were both startled by the pounding on one of the windows. While the driving path seemed lonely, there is a foot path commonly used which Mr. Oye was unaware of.
Mr. Oye jumped off her, trying to zip up his fly. Suddenly, to Bimpe’s shock, he started yelling- “Jesus, what did you do to me? How did we get here? The person who had knocked on the window looked beyond shocked. “Elder Oye, Sister Bimpe, Blood of Jesus! What is going on here”? Mrs. Daniels yelled. “It was the work of the devil, she seduced me”, Mr. Oye said. Bimpe could not believe her ears, but in the immediate, she just wanted to go home.
She could swear she heard Mrs. Daniels giving glory to God for ‘showing Mr. Oye mercy’, and calling her names like Jezebel, but she could not be bothered by the woman’s gullibility at this point. Turned out, they were not that far off from the church. It was a different route she didn’t know existed.
As Bimpe walked away from the scene, it all came back to her. Clearly this is not the first time such an act had happened. She remembered Joy who used to be in the choir but left the church. It became obvious to Bimpe that Joy was telling the truth when she said the choir leader raped her. Everyone questioned poor Joy as to what she was doing at his house, but how could she have known? He forgot his phone; she found it and decided to take it to him at his house. Yes, she knew he lived alone, and yes, she went in when he offered her a drink- “it is the least I could do to thank you”, was what he said according to Joy, so she went in, and he raped her.
No one believed Joy, people like Bimpe were brought in to speak to the character of the choir leader versus Joy, and Joy’s past life was really what worked against her, and the choir leader won. Mr. Oye presided over that ‘investigation committee’, and they banned Joy from the choir. They called her Jezebel, and said she seduced the choir leader. He went free, she left the church, never to set foot into another church.
As Bimpe walked away, she had no doubt similar fate awaited her. Now her eyes are open. It’s a shame that it took her almost getting raped to see it, but it raised questions like- ‘how much of this had gone on in her church, yet the leaders kept mute, which has led to more men in spiritual authority taking advantage of unsuspecting young girls?’
So on this day as this committee led by Mrs. Daniels was trying to do the same thing to her as they did to Joy, Bimpe was determined not to give up without a fight, so she drew their attention to Joy’s case by her daring question to Mrs. Daniels. The awkward silence and the knowing look they gave each other said a lot.
Rising to her feet, she said to them- “I hope one day it won’t be one of you in my shoes or Joy’s, I pray it won’t be too late before you realize that you need to do better than this. I would pray this over your kids if that is what it takes to open your eyes, but I could never wish this type of evil on anyone. So please just open your eyes, and do the right thing here. There are no excuses for these men to do this to us girls”. That said, she started to walk off, hanging her head down in shame and feeling defeated.
“Wait!” Mrs. Daniels said. “Please come back and sit down, Bimpe. You are right, and I am sorry. We all know these men are guilty”, Mrs. Daniels said, turning to look at the other Associate Pastors. “And we really cannot turn a blind eye. I am going to need you to step down effective immediately Eder Oye, while we deliberate on our next steps”. Mrs. Daniels then went on to outline the expectations for Mr. Oye including a deadline to come out to his wife about his actions. She also proposed a plan to Bimpe about starting a young ladies group in the church to help redefine the identity of women based on God’s Word and not on culture and traditions of men.
Bimpe could not believe her ears, and she was grateful to God for the bravery to have spoken up. She was beyond ecstatic about what she was hearing. Best part about the turn of events was when she gave Mrs. Daniels a condition that the church had to call Joy and apologize to her, while also confronting the choir lead, and Mrs. Daniels accepted the condition. When the day was over, it felt good to see Mr. Oye put where he belonged and she had new admiration for Mrs. Daniels, not to mention the strong message her decision sends to the other men.
As she headed for home, she decided to use the bathroom quickly. Drawing closer to the men’s which is on the way to the females, she heard muffled cries. Out of curiosity and concern for who it might be, she stopped and knocked- no response. She thought to herself maybe she heard wrong, so she backed off, about to continue on her way, that’s when she heard the scream- “helppppp”! Without thinking, she kicked the door down. Others had heard the scream too and came rushing there. The person heard her knock and took a chance to scream.
The sight before them was one she doubted any of them was going to forget in a hurry. When Mrs. Daniels, got to the scene and saw what was going on, she passed out. Turned out, the choir lead was in the bathroom, and had been caught in the middle of raping a six-year-old.
That six-year-old was Mrs. Daniels’ only daughter. If Mrs. Daniels never took a U-turn from her initial stand on Bimpe and Joy’s case, this would have been a perfect moment to turn to her and say again-“Excuse me, what’s your excuse”? But right now, that question belonged with the choir lead, as this was no ‘Joy’ or ‘Bimpe’ who had the capacity to ‘seduce a man’ (the excuse they were holding over the ladies’ head). This was a six-year-old, so then, what’s the excuse?
All too quickly, adults forget what it was like when we were teens. So we have lots of teens who keep issues to themselves and end up making mistakes that could have been avoided if only we chose to remember what it was like when we were teens and provided the support they need. So let me share a quick story with you.
Once upon a time, there lived a teenager who was full of life. No matter how brightly a room was lighted, it felt like she brought a brighter ray of sunshine with her whenever she stepped in.
She gave hope, listened to those who hurt, offered comfort and loved each person like they were all that mattered. Every girl wanted to be her and every parent wanted her for a child.
Until one day, she was announced dead! Tears flowed, people wondered, how could such a young beautiful girl so full of life be dead? It was unfair. People wanted to say much at her funeral, but they were unsure how to connect the dot between such sweet girl and the fact that she killed herself.
Shocker, she killed herself! STOP! REWIND!
Let us go back to the beginning of this story. Once upon a time, there was a girl so full of life. She always was the life of the party, but she was hurting. She felt alone, misunderstood and afraid of appearing weak if she opened up about what she was experiencing.
Sleeplessness, overeating, crying incessantly for no reason were all the things she felt. She tried to talk to her parents, and Dad said “go talk to your mum, this is ladies business”. So she went to mum, and mum said “it is normal puberty feelings”, give it time they would go away, the feelings remained.
“Maybe I am overthinking this” she thought, so she tried to continue being the life of the party, and the ‘good girl’ she was. Soon enough, homework started to feel like a burden, school was a drag, everything became irritating, the crying increased and she never wanted to get out of bed. “Stop being a lazy brat”, mum would yell. “Listen to your mother”, Dad echoed.
Conflict and tension started to build, she thought her parents were not being understanding, “they just don’t get me”, she thought. Her parents are starting to have serious concerns, “why is this girl being so lazy all of a sudden, what are we doing wrong” they wondered. So the cycle began, and the not so helpful conversations.
“Maybe you are not praying enough”, says the Christian friend. “Maybe you need to workout more”, says the gym-addict. “I think it is because you are too fat”, or “maybe you are just not strong enough”. All of these voices, they echoed very much what the one other voice that mattered the most had been saying to her- ‘the voice in her head’.
Each time she heard about all the things she was not doing enough, that voice said “I told you so”, see “you will never be good enough”, “you will never be pretty enough”, “you can never do anything right”, and “maybe you should just end your life”.
On the inside, she was torn apart each day, on the outside, whenever asked- “how are you”, with the brightest smile you had ever seen, she replied “I’m fine, thank you’. Her smile was so bright it blinded you from seeing the sadness in her eyes, until she finally listened to the voice in her head.
And just like that, she who was once the life of the party, had no life left in her. STOP! FAST FORWARD! She is actually alive. These were the thoughts and battles she dealt with, but she never really listened to the voice in her head. She came close so many times, but, ‘soldiered’ through it, until she met someone she could talk to.
When she did, her issues did not disappear all at once, but she felt better, because she spoke up. The need to be perfect, the pressure to be something to everyone, all lifted.
What did start as feelings of puberty had grown into depression, suicidal thoughts and a near-suicide attempt. Add to that the social pressure of perfection and the ‘achievement’ culture we have created, there is no telling that these things impact teens a lot.
As adults, some of us felt these things when we were teens. And we wished someone was there to walk us through it, to listen to us, and let us know that it will all be okay in the end. Many of us suffered in silence- heck we still do suffer in silence, because the culture told us to feel this was was weak, demonic and meant that we had to be ostracized. Are we really going to let our teens of today go through the same?
What to Do If You Are The Girl?
Realize that there are lots of people who have been in this space. Open up to someone you trust, who can listen with compassion and no judgement.
Remember that YOU ARE NEVER ALONE
Prayers, mediation, exercise, good diet, workout etc. are actually great and releases the right hormones to help mitigate those feelings, practice as much as you can on them.
Stop putting pressure on yourself. You have time to grow, so just grow. No plant ever frets about whether or not they are budding right or if their flowers look good enough. They just grow.
Talking about it can be hard, but not talking about it only makes it worse
What to Do as A Parent of the Girl
Listen to your child. When they come to you , pay attention. I know we are busy, but this is your child, what could be more important? Be the person they trust the most, and want to talk to about their feelings, fears, dreams and aspirations. Make yourself attractive to your kid
Help them know they are not alone. Share some of your teen-years epic failure stories. To draw the lesson, share the consequences of your actions, what you could have gone back to do better. Trust me, they will think about it. Let them have to ‘laugh’ at you about it. You would have taught them valuable life lessons, and also told them, they are not alone and you get it! This is how to make yourself attractive to them.
Model life balance for them. Let them see you take a break and rest/relax with dirty dishes in the sink. Let the see you pray, meditate, read a book, work. Share some of your unwinding secrets with them (provided they are good stuff, oh God, it better be good stuff). Dance with them, exercise with them, cook healthy meals together. Family activities creates bond, lowers defense walls, and sets the right tone for authentic expressions.
Do not put pressure on them. Nudge them towards being better, but not in a negative way. Avoid comparisons with siblings and others. Before you yell at them for not doing the right thing, ask yourself “have I actually taught them what is the right thing to do here?” Set reasonable goals with them and build support system to help them achieve those goals.
Let them know its okay to share how they feel. Sometimes, just letting them vent and sitting there to listen is the best you can do. Pray with them afterwards, and continue to pray for them. Please be actively involved in your child’s life.
Finally, Parents, study your child, and use this mental health spectrum to get an idea of where your kids are mentally. It shows behavioral acts that matches where people are on the spectrum. If you observe disturbing consistency outside the green zone in your child, take the necessary step (including professional help) to correct it and bring them to optimal mental health.
Last year into this year has been particularly hard for lots of teenagers. It is hard enough being a teenager: hormones all over the place, feelings you have no idea what to do with, worried about asking questions or making mistakes, trying to maintain good grades, do house chores, meet everyone’s ecpectations and then now, COVID-19.
In Canada, the inconsistency with school, the back and forth with closures and the pandemic in general has affected social interactions among teens. In addition, thier pysical acitivies ahve also been impacted. And like everyone else, they still worry about not getting infected with COVID-19.
We can all agree that they can use a little more patience, understanding and compassion. Much more so, they can use a loving, listening ear. Will you be that person for them? Or have you forgotten what it was like to want to be heard and understood, when we were teens?
Its #BellLetsTalk day. This is yet another opportunity to peel off stigma form the topic of mental health. This impacts us more than we care to admit, so why don’t we start having honest conversations about it? I for one, perhaps because I work closely with teenagers have decided to make a case for teens today.
So how will YOU make the conversation easier? Being open is a good place to start!
Before I tell you about the one thing you should ALWAYS be, let me share some insight into my journey with you.
I always thought I would be a writer but I sometimes don’t know where people get the time to do everything they want to. The still and calm of this year may bring some of my dreams to fusion.
I saw something my sister in law wrote about being a “Non-Conformist” and me being the one that made her realize there was a word for it. I thought maybe I would start by writing something small about this.
When I was much younger, from about my teenage years, I started to get a lot of negative comments from people, I was called mean, rude, a snob. Some of these comments came from close friends and family members. I had my issues and I had so much to work on but that is not the story for today.
I tried to tell people I was not these names they called me and infact I had done nothing to warrant being called these names. I felt like I was the problem because all I heard were negative comments.
I was simply a person that spoke my mind even if it was not what was expected based on societal norm. I had my own mind which was not easily moved by bullies and comments, I stood my ground when people tried to force their opinion on me most of which were ancient and outdated. I was then called difficult and a hot head.
I was a good person, I was not causing problems for anyone. I was simply trying to figure out my life and understand myself and I was called names.
It took me a few years to realise that there are different kind of people in this world. There are people who are pleasers, they want to be liked by everyone and want people to always have something good to say about them. They may support what is being said to them just so there is no conflict even if they dont agree deep within them. There are people that are plain bullies, they try to enforce their opinion on you, even when their opinion is completely wrong.
There are people with a mind of their own, these set of people may not initially know the power they carry by having a mind of their own, they know what they believe and go with it. They are not rigid minded or pleasers, they are not easily bullied, they are not easily understood, they are different. The world tries to call them names and bring them down just for being different. If this description, sounds like you. Today I say to you, maybe you are not the problem.
I do not encourage bad behaviour or pretend to be perfect, I believe in making effort to be a better person daily. Most importantly I believe in standing strong and holding your head high, I stand a Non-Conformist, I appreciate being different. Don’t let anyone try to kill your Spirit. In the end, the one thing you should always be, which all non-conformist know, is to Be YOU!
What is the big deal about the girl child and her rights anyway? I am glad you asked. Let me share the story of a particular girl child.
At two she was separated from her parents, especially her mom. Does she not deserve a loving home and care? Or the role model of a loving mother to guide and lead her?
At six she lived with her aunt, where she suffered physical and verbal abuse. Well, at least she had an education you argue, well, yes. But what she had in education, was lacking in other girls her age or slightly older, as she lived in a city where she watched young girls like herself get married off in child marriage. This was traumatic for the girls and herself. What is the big deal anyway with a girl child you ask?
At seven, she was exposed to the ill called child sexual abuse and molestation, as one employed to teach her taught more than his pay grade, perhaps an unsolicited ‘bonus’?. The lessons she learnt that day marked her for the longest time in her life. She was touched and made to touch, not the type that builds you, it was the type of touch that broke you into a million pieces. The real lesson however, was to never trust an adult. What is the big deal you say?
By eleven, molestation was no longer a big deal to her. She had been molested by neighbors and family friends, she was used to it. Remember the lesson she learnt at seven? Promiscuity had become the order of day.
All through the years, she endured doing more chores than her brothers, wondering why she had to be saddled with more responsibilities than they. “You are a woman, who will one day be a homemaker”, they said. She often wondered if that meant she was created for nothing other than marriage and making some man happy at her own happiness and life’s cost.
She remembers her mother’s story of how her mom’s education had to be sacrificed for that of her brothers, simply because she was a girl child. “Bad investment”, some would say. So, it was natural to think that the world had done her a lot of favour by educating her. She could have been in a worse state, like her mother and the other girls who got married off.
And so she learnt to accept the barest minimum, grateful for the crumbs of life society threw her way every now and then. This prepared her very well (in a negative way of course) to accept the lesser pay, to deal quietly with the sexual power play doled to her through her working years by superior men. She was labelled an outlier, stubborn, for speaking out against colleagues who tried to assault her and other female colleagues. Sad enough, some of the labelers were fellow women, who were once girl-children. You’d think they’d know better, right? Never underestimate the power of systemic mental slavery.
What is the big deal with the girl child and her rights you ask? Every woman today can see a version of herself in this girl child’s story. Seems far-fetched? Well, this girl child was me.
Historically, the girl child has had more exposure to dangers, and suffered the perversions society has doled out the most. If you don’t think it is time these ended, and demand she is treated equally across all spectrums, then you are part of the problem. It starts with how we treat the girl child vis-à-vis the boy child.
So then, what is the big deal with the girl child you ask? My response- EVERYTHING!!!
She is human, she has right to life like you She is a child, protect her innocence She has a mind, it seeks to learn, educate her She is talented, develop her skills She feels pain, do not shut her down. Whatever happened to freedom of expression? She has a voice, let her speak. I ask again- Whatever happened to freedom of expression? She works hard, pay her her dues She is valuable, treat her with respect Her body is her sanctuary, and sacred to her, do not violate it She is a girl-child, that is not a crime.
Today, I join voices with every girl child in support of the rights of the girl-child, make your voice loud, break the ceilings hanging over your heads, because you and your rights, are a big deal indeed!
Youthspace.ca (NEED2 Suicide Prevention, Education and Support) Youth Text (6pm-12am PT): (778) 783-0177 Youth Chat (6pm-12am PT): www.youthspace.ca
Crisis Services Canada Toll Free (24/7): 1 (833) 456-4566 Text support (4pm-12am ET daily): 45645
Canadian Crisis Hotline 1 (888) 353-2273
Better Helpwww.betterhelp.com Online access to professional counsellors On the web, and available for iPhone and Android users
The LifeLine App www.thelifelinecanada.ca Direct access to phone, online chat, text, and email crisis support E-counselling, self-management tools, access to crisis centers across Canada Available for iPhone and Android users
ONLINE PEER SUPPORTBig White Wall Canada Big White Wall Canada www.bigwhitewall.ca Anonymous peer support community accessible anytime, anywhere
Save a Child Mission (SACM) exists to protect the rights of vulnerable child, and children in poverty-stricken areas. They do this by “empowering adults with ‘how to’ information and creating awareness. SACM also takes action on child care related projects that will improve the well being of children in need of support.
Here is the list of their child support programs and events:
Care for abused children
Annual valentine health visit to sick children
Emergency Covid-19 Food Relief Program
Protect My Innocence! A 1 Hour Walk Campaign Against Child Abuse
Child Empowerment- An Annual Conference To Showcase The African’s Child Dream
Back To School Campaign- Educational Resources For School Children To Get Back To School
International Day Of The Girl Child
Orphanage Party- Showering kids with gifts
Children face different kinds of abuse, such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. It is important that someone is willing to hold us accountable to having these type of conversation, and doing something about it. Kudos to SACM for choosing to be that voice for the children.
In my interview with Jane, she highlights some of her organizations projects and challenges.
My interview with Jane on protecting the rights of children against sexual abuse and rape.