Louder Together!!!!

NO MORE!

The NO MORE! Campaign is a powerful movement happening all over the country. The purpose of NO MORE is to bring national awareness to domestic or dating violence and sexual assault.

http://nomore.org/

NO MORE! Started in 2013, and has grown significantly ever since. In Hawaii, the organizations that are in allyship with NO MORE are Ala Kuola Family Law Clinic, BRAVE HEART Hawaii, Earth Patriot Productions LLC, Joyful Heart Foundation Hawaii, University of Hawaii at Hilo, and Women Helping Women. These organizations, as well as the Teen Alert Program, are committed to saying NO MORE!

NO MORE violence; NO MORE standing on the sidelines; NO MORE “he should’ve known better getting with her” or “It doesn’t happen to boys”; NO MORE “Why don’t you just leave him already?”; and NO MORE “But they’re both girls!”

Hawaii Says NO MORE is a campaign (https://hawaiisaysnomore.org/) that  speaks directly to us here in Hawaii. Hawaii Says NO MORE is a local initiative that attempts to “challenge the mindset and behaviors that lead to this violence in Hawaiʻi.” Using the nationally known NO MORE symbol allows Hawaii Says NO MORE to have a national conversation on a local level. Here in Hawai’i, many of the issues with relationship violence are the same as everywhere; but we all know that sometimes, there are challenges experienced in Hawaii, that are different from other places. Hawaii Says NO MORE is an effort to take a look at the local conversations happening around relationship violence, and apply local resources to them.

As stated on their website: “Our values as a community reflect aloha (love, affection, kindness), pono (goodness, respect, equity) and ʻohana (family, connections). Violence does not reflect these values and Hawaiʻi Says NO MORE.)”.

This week, March 5th to 11th, is NO MORE week, and the theme this year is Louder Together!!!

So, join us in saying NO MORE! Because we know that we are Louder Together!

[embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfXAVhwHRNI[/embed]

Women's March on Washington - Oahu!!

We marched for you too!!

Aloha, and Happy Thursday! Here at TAP, we recognize that many youth right now are worried about the state of things in our society, and how that might impact them. We do our very best to ensure that our message is continuously reaching those who need to hear it; and sometimes that includes those in charge too! So, this past Saturday, in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington in Washington D.C., some of the Domestic Violence Action Center staff marched for the Women's March on Washington - Oahu, which took place at the Capitol in Honolulu.

You wouldn't believe that over 9,000!!!!!! people showed up to march for those who are walking in great fear and worry right now. We understand that whether or not we agree with each other all of the time is NOT the issue; but what is important is that we come together in times of need for the things that are most important. One of the speakers on Saturday reminded everyone that "Human Rights are YOUTH Rights too!" It was so great to hear that! Especially knowing that sometimes, our youth don't feel seen or heard.

Continuing with the recognition of youth, our very own TAP Teen Advocate, Causha, spoke on behalf of the Domestic Violence Action Center, and drove home the point that our youth cannot risk people NOT paying attention to them. She spoke about how youth who get to be in a TAP presentation have "a safe place for the, to express themselves and gain the skills to do it effectively and productively".

Help us continue this work!

If you're a student, ask your teachers to bring us in! Are you an educator? Great! Reach out for more information on how you can get TAP in your classroom. Do you run a community organization/program? We would love to come to your groups as well. And if you're a parent/caregiver, please feel free to reach out for help on behalf of the child(ren) you care about. Don't forget about the advocacy services that our Teen Advocate provides also! Whatever you do! Never forget that TAP and the Domestic Violence Action Center will continue to fight for you!

We look forward to continuing to work with you all, and stay tuned for upcoming contests and prizes! As well as TAP events coming soon!

Have a great weekend and enjoy some of our pictures from The Women's March on Washington - Oahu!!! See you soon!

DVAC staff members marching for the cause
DVAC staff members marching for the cause
TAP Teen Advocate
TAP Teen Advocate
Early birds take a pic before heading to join the crowd
Early birds take a pic before heading to join the crowd
DVAC group pose for a quick pic before starting the march!
DVAC group pose for a quick pic before starting the march!
*Poster says it all*
*Poster says it all*

By Causha Spellman

A youngin who knows what's up!
A youngin who knows what's up!

Cyber Abuse: How technology enables abuse

We’re lucky to be living in this generation! With all the advances in technology in the past two decades, we’ve gained access to all the information, news or content we could ever need. At the touch of a button or swipe of a screen, we can communicate across borders, time zones and language barriers. It’s given us the ability to keep in touch with loved ones in ways that would not have been possible in the past. What once took days, weeks or months can now be communicated in a matter of seconds. Ain’t the future grand?! Unfortunately, this amazing advancement of communication can come at a cost, especially for those in unhealthy dating relationships!

Sure, it’s sweet to get texts from a boyfriend or girlfriend, expressing love and adoration for us throughout the day. Who doesn’t like to get a call every now and then to be reminded about how special we are to that one person? It’s great to feel wanted, desired, cherished and adored.

But when does that yearning turn from feeling good, into feeling like we’re losing a part of ourselves?

As technology advances over time, so too does the ability to track our partner’s movements, likes and dislikes, friends, and practically anything else that gets posted online. Text messages gave us the ability to communicate via written word, without the need for lengthy conversations. This was great for those of us who spent time in loud (or quiet) environments, where talking to a partner was impossible.

Texts enable us to communicate whenever and wherever we are, as long as there’s a signal! We have a greater ability to share sweet sentiments, photos, videos, etc through text message. Emojis give our words even more meaning, since the subtle nuance of language can at times get lost in text. These are the positive sides of texting! On the flipside, some use texts to control, belittle and demean their partners. They send insults rather than sweet sentiments. They monitor when and where their boyfriend or girlfriend is going, and then demand an immediate response to texts. And if a text goes unanswered, then accusations and assumptions are made about a partner cheating. Texts can also limit our ability to communicate effectively. When we rely on an emoji or bitmoji to describe our feelings to a dating partner, we may lose the desire to talk about our problems face to face. Over time, this can compound problems in the relationship, and can lead to further loss of trust.

In addition to texts, social media can also facilitate ineffective communication and controlling behavior (not to mention online bullying and social isolation). When life gets difficult; we rely upon the approval of our online friends to feel better. Rather than confronting our problems head on, we post slogans, selfies, hashtags and daily quotes to garner peer approval. The more likes and shares we get, the better we feel about life!

Issues with self-esteem, social acceptance, and online bullying have skyrocketed since the advent of social media. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to others- from body image, to class status, to number of friends or followers – which has opened up the floodgates for negative self-esteem issues. We compare ourselves to find credibility, or to isolate and segregate those we deem unworthy of our social or online status.

“Researchers have suggested that the decline in girls’ confidence and self-esteem could be directly linked to their online activity1.”

Every day, social media bombards us with distorted images from reality shows, celebrity makeovers2 and plastic surgery3. These unrealistic images put a focus on how to look “perfect,” without considering the amount of photoshopping that goes into each picture4. Celebrities are used as a gauge for the ideal body shape and size, which has a direct impact on the self-esteem and confidence of millions of young girls and boys. By equating body size and physical beauty to social standing, we do a disservice to the potential beauty that exists in each and every person.

Some use these ideals as a platform to bully others into feeling bad about themselves, or constant comparisons with those that are #blessed. We are expected to conform to a societal standard that is not only unrealistic, but poses a significant impact on the health of adolescents. This has led to widespread issues with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and other tragic consequences like self-harm and suicide.

(**NOTE: calling something “blessed” has become the go-to term for those who want to boast about an accomplishment while pretending to be humble5).

Through social media, we’ve also seen an uptick in CYBER ABUSE by dating partners. For many teens today, trust means giving all their passwords to their boyfriend or girlfriend. Feelings of jealousy dictate who their dating partner can be friends with; some may even hack their partner’s social media accounts, read direct messages, and send threatening messages to those they feel pose a risk to their relationship. This may be done without the consent or knowledge of their boyfriend or girlfriend, which can inevitably lead to isolation from family and friends. This is a form of cyber abuse.

There’s a sense of entitlement that comes with dating, as though we can own our boyfriend or girlfriend’s social media presence.

As time goes on, this type of controlling behavior can begin to seem like the norm. Some may even view this behavior as healthy, rather than recognize it as jealousy or possessiveness. Going behind our partners’ backs to see what they’re doing or who they’re talking with is the opposite of healthy communication. Just because someone has made the decision to date us, does not mean we own them.

And let’s not forget about the dangers of sexting!

If a boyfriend or girlfriend demands nude photos/videos from their dating partner -besides the obvious illegality with underage pornography for those younger than 18- this poses the risk for this media to be shared in unintended ways. If a relationship ends badly, a controlling partner could threaten the dispersal of these nudes to family, friends, and even strangers. Not only does this put a victim of abuse at further risk for humiliation, isolation and embarrassment; this also increases their risk for sexual harassment and legal consequences6. Technology should not be used to threaten a loved one!

In conclusion, we love our technology. We rely on it for so many aspects of our lives. Phones, apps, social media and the internet can help us stay in touch with the world and share ourselves in so many ways. Texting can uplift a partner, while social media can promote boundaries, space and trust. We should be able to safely and securely use technology without the fear of being controlled.

If you have ever been guilty of cyber abuse, remember that there are healthier ways to use technology. It’s okay to feel jealous and worried, but we need to practice effective communication to address these issues. There are better ways to deal with our insecurities and lack of trust than technologically controlling a loved one. Let’s make this future one in which technology advances all our relationships.

 

Check out this powerful video about Cyber Abuse from the #ThatsNotLove campaign7:

 

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.tap808.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ThatsNotLove-campaign-Because-I-Love-You-Delete-One-Love-Foundation.mp4"][/video]

 

Sources & Links

  1. http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/report-social-media-blame-low-self-esteem-young-women-2903645
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/makeover-madness-women-beauty_b_780694.html
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/are-you-psychologically-p_b_683525.html
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/photoshop-body-image_b_891095.html
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/fashion/blessed-becomes-popular-word-hashtag-social-media.html?_r=0
  6. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/sexting-shame-and-suicide-20130917
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JYyHa03x-U&index=1&list=PLobwSLJPTQ5-Qr1cZbT_d3FkkmeeXPGds

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Change: A Message to Young People Across the Nation

You are young.

But I value you.

You may feel diminished.

But I value you.

Change.

Change will come.

Maybe not from your neighbor. Or from your parents. Or from your partner.

But from you.

Change will come…

From you.

I know this because I am you. And you are me.

I believe in your voice.

I believe in your power.

I believe in your mind.

I validate your emotions and the disheartened spirit you currently possess.

But change will come.

It will come in numbers so astronomical that textbooks will tell your story.

The story of how one voice refused to be silenced, despite its discouragement and weary spirit.

Just one voice.

And another.

And another.

And another.

I understand you are tired.

And broken.

And lost.

So am I. So are many others.

But change will come.

You have not failed as a community.

You marched.

You spoke.

You loved.

Continue to fight for yourselves.

Fight for your friends.

Fight for your family.

And we will continue to fight for you.

Change.

Change will come.

“There’s a dream in the future,

There’s a struggle we have yet to win.

Use that pride in our hearts to lift us to tomorrow,

Cause just to sit still would be a sin.

I know it, I know where I’m going,

Lord knows I know where I’ve been,

Oh, when we win,

I’ll give thanks to my God cause I know where I’ve been.”

Self-care and Staying Lit

What does your self-care look like? And what is to begin with? Well here's what I can tell you...

Self-care is all about giving your self the time you need to reflect and process the week. Processing can also tough for real!  When we give ourselves the time to process, and reflect we give ourselves permission to find  the things in life that bring us closer to ourselves.  Most of all self-care is about honoring our needs, and creativity.

 

Society, friends, and family are always asking us to fulfill needs. Whether it be in our relationship with our partner, family, and close friends we are always playing the game of whose needs are getting met?  For most of us, in between family, school and societal expectations things can get a bit craazy So then how do you manage everyone's needs' and your own? How can we give ourselves permission to be alone and learn more about who we are?

First thing I like to do is give myself time even if only for ten minutes to check with myself. I have found that sometimes it's some of the most basic needs that I haven't even noticed. Check out Eponis and ask yourself some of these questions when you check in with yourself. http://eponis.tumblr.com/post/113798088670/everything-is-awful-and-im-not-okay-questions-to

When we give ourselves the time we need to be with ourselves,  we learn to love others better too!

Here are some simple tips to practice self care:

  • Affirmations? Remind yourself of things that you are working towards... What matters and how are you going to get there?
  • Visualize what you hope to make out of your day. It that simple!
  • Hang out with friends who are committed to your success and who have your back (  Nobody has time to kick it with frenemies)
  • Process your own feelings first! Remember that fight you had with your partner? Well who are YOU feeling? What are still holding onto? Maybe its time to let it go?
  • Put your time into your art, reading, and recommit to doing the things in life that bring YOU true happiness.
  • Do the simple things... get some rest and drink plenty water. Making sure you care for your body can sometimes be the hardest part to forgot.
  • Ask your partner for some time away to see friends that maybe you haven't seen in a while? Make time for all your relationships and especially those that have had your back since day one.
  • Exercise... I know what you're thinking?! But really though... pick something that you enjoy.

Self-care is different for everyone but one thing we can all do is start to explore what we want ours to look like. I'll leave with you this playlist that helps me when I need some downtime. This is what I listen to when I daydream... https://soundcloud.com/noname/08-forever-ft-ravyn-lenae-joseph-chilliams

Most of all keep your fire lit no matter how you do it!

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Inclusivity: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Inclusivity at T.A.P.! What is inclusivity? And why is it important?

  1. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Inclusivity means: “An intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who are handicapped or learning-disabled, or racial and sexual minorities.”
  2. In simple terms, to be inclusive means to be mindful of ensuring safe spaces and people for those who might ordinarily be excluded from other spaces. In a perfect world, all spaces and people would be inclusive, but we know that this world is far from perfect.
  3. That is why, here at the Teen Alert Program, otherwise known as T.A.P. or T.A.P.808, we strive for an inclusive environment; not only with our education and services provided, but also with the cyber spaces of social media! As we know that social media is where it’s at for most young people, we want to make sure that our IG and website are spaces that feel inclusive and safe for everyone.
  4. One of the largest groups to continuously be excluded from many spaces is the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) community. And for youth in this community, it can be even more difficult to find spaces that are inclusive and are able to provide you with the support you need.
  5. When it comes to LGBTQ+ youth and teen dating violence, what we know for sure is that LGBTQ+ youth experience dating violence at significantly higher rates that their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts. For example: according to a study done by the Urban Institute on LGBTQ+ teens, approximately 29% of heterosexual teens had experienced physical violence in a relationship, while almost 43% of LGB-identified teens had experienced the same in a relationship. In addition, in knowing that dating violence is based on power and control, many LGBTQ+ individuals find themselves facing additional forms of power and control.

One of the greatest difficulties faced by LGBTQ+ identified individuals, is that they often feel that they canNOT seek help. This is sad, but understandable when looking at what they often are risking in doing so; also, in looking at the exclusion and discrimination often faced by the community when they do seek help, it's no wonder many choose to deal with their troubles silently. But no one should have to deal with these issues alone.

So! How can you be a resource, or an ally, even if you are not a member of the LGBTQ+ community? Just like with any friend who may be going through a tough time in their relationship:

  • Listen to them
  • Support them
  • Tell them about T.A.P.!
  • Tell them about other safe spaces that they can go to for support
  • Overall, just be their friend

If you are a teacher or a service provider, how can you make sure that your classroom or organization is inclusive?

  • If you have staff that is part of the LGBTQ+ community, recognize their talents and involve them at all levels
  • Ensure confidentiality with clients (remember, many members of the community may not be out to all family, friends, employers, etc.)
  • Avoid assumptions, and remember the resiliency of LGBTQ+ youth, and all
  • Educate yourself and others in your school/agency
  • Identify safe resources to connect with for your LGBTQ+ students/clients/consumers
  • Ask your students/clients/consumers and the LGBTQ+ community how they feel about the inclusiveness of your classroom/school/agency.
  • Be willing to make a change

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Support in a Relationship

I love working for the Teen Alert Program. One of my favorite things about visiting teens all across Hawai’i is having the chance to hear what they have to say! This month, we worked with students in 7th grade all the way to college age and asked them to come up with some healthy traits for a dating relationship. To no surprise, there were some really great and insightful answers! Respect. Love. Kindness. Equality. Humor. These are just a few of the traits we discussed, but one stood out to me that I heard from multiple groups. Support.

We all have something we love to do or are passionate about. In talking with different groups, I realized what an awesome array of interests and hobbies we collectively have. Some of you shared your love of volleyball. One student’s face absolutely lit up when he told me how much he loves to practice skateboard tricks on the weekend. The answers ranged all the way from Choir to Football to making memes (he even showed me some and they were hilarious!). The message I got here was simple: we all have activities that are important to us, and support from our partner is equally as important.

In speaking with the student who loved skateboarding, I asked, “How might you feel if your partner told you skating was dumb and you needed to stop practicing on weekends in order to spend all your time with her?” He looked stunned and said, “Whoa…do you think someone would actually say that? That’d make me feel like crap.” Unfortunately, as I told him, not every relationship has support from both partners. (But isn’t it so great when it does?!)

So let’s talk about that word. Support. What is it when it comes to hobbies and interests? How do we show it? How do we know if our relationship has it? How do you put it in simple terms?

It doesn’t just mean helping them when they need it.

Supporting your partner means listening to their excitement when they tell you about the newest skate trick they learned. It means they listen to you gush over your new Gryffindor sweater for the third time (even though they’re a die-hard Hufflepuff). It means making time to attend some of their volleyball games and cheering them on from the stands. It means they encourage you to try out for the lead in the school musical despite your fear. It means having a relationship where both people feel heard, cared for, and valued in good times and bad.

Some people may argue that “I love you” is the most romantic thing you could say to a person. Personally, I feel that showing someone this love through action and support means just as much. So what can we say?

“You can do it.”

“Bae, you got this.”

“Is there anything I can do to make you feel more supported?”

And of course…

“I support you no matter what, babe!”

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How else can you show support to your partner? Let us know below and share with your friends!

 

Being Yourself

“Eat more servings of vegetables each day.” “Put your phone away before bedtime to get a better night’s sleep.”

“Do some homework on the weekends to get a jump start on the week.”

Sometimes others tell us (or we tell ourselves) the simplest ideas to improve our wellbeing; and while we know it’s sound advice, it can feel easier said than done! Sometimes the simplest things (like adding more veggies in to your day) can feel overwhelming or as if you have a giant question mark over your head. What can feel even more difficult than throwing some veggies in your backpack, though, is this simple piece of advice:

“Be yourself.”

It’s only two words. But what does it really mean? How do you navigate who you are all while keeping up with the other complexities of teen and young adult years? As a full-fledged adult (read: fakin’ it til I’m makin’ it!), allow me to let you in on the secret to success in always knowing exactly who you are:

There isn’t one.

And that’s okay! It’s part of life. Growing in your own confidence is something you can be mindful of on your own time and pace. So, while there’s no secret formula for me to share, I can offer you 3 paths to being yourself-and why it's seriously the BEST:

  1. Challenge the Norms: Being Unique is Exciting

Imagine a puzzle with just one piece. Imagine going to a buffet and they only had one thing! How boring does that sound? (Unless the buffet is all tacos, then sign me up) All of these unique pieces fit together to create something wonderful, just like how the different aspects of your personality are what make you YOU. When you allow yourself to unapologetically be yourself, you can inspire others around you to do the same. Who wants a world full of cookie cutter people roaming the world dressing, acting, and looking the same as each other?

This same idea goes with gender roles/gender norms. Gender roles are how society expects males and females to behave. Think of two imaginary boxes, one labeled Masculine and one labeled Feminine. In the masculine box, you may find words like strong or leader or athlete. In the feminine box, you might see nurturing or emotional or a good cook. Now, society and the media tell us to stay in our box based on the gender we were born with. But do you know what the best thing about the imaginary boxes is? The fact that they’re imaginary. Pick whatever traits you want from any side you want. The box isn’t real. It’s about who you truly are, and hopefully you’ll have a partner who appreciates all the wonderful traits you have, as well.

2. Be Confident: Loving Yourself Helps Your Relationships

When we feel like we can be ourselves, we tend to have healthier relationships with those around us. We are better partners, daughters, sons, friends, the list goes on! Learning how to balance confidence with humility enables us to feel secure, and that translates to having a strong sense of trust in our relationships. Once you realize the constraints of social norms don't have to exist in your life, your partner is also able to be his or herself! Then you have two respectful, trusting, and accepting individuals in a partnership- sounds pretty good to me!

And finally…

3. Be Proud: There’s Only One of You.

Literally. I don’t care if you’re Cole and Dylan Sprouse and look the exact same…there is just one you! How cool is that? That’s incredible. There are billions of people in the world…and the wonderful uniqueness that is YOU is filled with incredible thoughts, skills, ideas, and kind deeds just waiting to show themselves. Be proud of that. Be proud of your friends. Be proud of your partner.

So there you have it…being yourself is the best. No filter needed!

PRIDE 2016

PRIDE parades and festivals have long been events put on FOR and BY the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and more) community and their allies to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride and culture.

  • In 1969, there was Stonewall; a historic site in New York City, famous for hosting the LGBTQ+ community, that had to defend itself against attacks from those who believed that they did not belong.
  • On June 27, 1970, Chicago organized its first Gay Liberation march in honor of the Stonewall events the year before, which took place, also on the last Saturday in June.
  • Los Angeles also hosted a Liberation march on June 28, 1970

Many others followed these examples in the years to come. However, by the 1980s, leadership in the LGBTQ+ community began to shift, along with the vision for marches, parades and festivals. There was even a shift in language, from Liberation to Pride, thus how the “PRIDE” parades and festivals were born.

Today, cities all over the world continue to celebrate and pay homage to the events of Stonewall by celebrating with parades and festivals yearly--mostly still on the last weekend of June. June was also declared LGBTQ+ PRIDE month finally by our government to honor the sacrifices of those before, and of present, who fought, and continue to fight, to ensure liberation for the LGBTQ+ community.

This year, 2016, the Domestic Violence Action Center, along with your very own TAP team, marched in its first PRIDE parade.

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We also hung around to table at the festival--playing fun games, engaging with the community, and giving out awesome TAP swag along with great information on how to reach out for help when necessary.

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The Teen Alert Program is fully committed to engaging with and creating safe spaces for our LGBTQ+ youth. We understand that:

  • The LGBTQ+ community experiences Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) at the same rate, and some same at higher rates, than they heterosexual counterparts.
  • LGBTQ+ individuals experiencing IPV are LESS likely to reach out for help
  • LGBTQ+ individuals and couples already experience high rates of discrimination and further trauma often with seeking help
  • LGBTQ+ youth have an especially difficult time seeking help for unhealthy relationships. Often they are facing threats of being outed, or of outing themselves by seeking help; threats of further abuse; discrimination in school, counseling, and medical settings

Seeking help can be a scary thing, and for youth, it can be even scarier. TAP understands what it takes for our clients to come to us and say, “Please help me”. So, just remember, when you’re ready, TAP is here!!!!

Happy PRIDE!!!!!!

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Six Myths About Domestic Violence

In this day and age, we have so much access to information from different platforms that it can feel…well…overwhelming. It’s easy for anyone to force information from behind their keyboard or for entertainment to mask itself as news and facts. The issue of domestic violence is no exception. We love media and all the access it provides for this subject, but it can also get confusing if you’re not sure what’s “real” and what’s not. Because of this, we often find ourselves questioning the different viewpoints we read when it comes to domestic violence. No worries- we’re here to help clear any confusion. Here are six common myths about domestic violence that you can dispel in order to help yourself or a friend:

Abuse is never the victim’s fault. We often hear this victim blaming in the form of “Well, what did she/he do to provoke them?” Abuse is about the actions of the abuser, not the actions of the victim. It’s about someone’s desire to exert power and control over their partner, and a victim adjusting their behavior won’t change that desire.

Abuse comes in many forms, and physical abuse is just one of them. Does the partner have a habit of yelling, swearing, using an intimidating tone of voice, or insist on putting down/embarrassing their partner? That’s abuse (emotional). Does the partner isolate their significant other from family/friends, make threats, or play mind games? That’s ALSO abuse (mental). There’s also cyber abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, etc. Remember, abuse is not about hitting…it’s about power and control, and that can occur in multiple ways.

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This type of violence is reported more frequently than any other, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Women are just as capable of exerting power and control over men, and it does happen, regardless of what social norms tell us. Furthermore, dating violence occurs in LGBTQ+ relationships at about the same rate as heterosexual relationships. While 85-95% of reports are made by women, that’s not to say all those women are being abused by men.

Acting on emotions is a choice. There are plenty of people who get angry each day, and they’re fully capable of handling that stress in a healthy way. Shouldn’t your partner be held to the same standard? Anger is an emotion- this doesn’t mean it’s an automatic action. We are in charge of our feelings!

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Some people stay in relationships because they love their partner and hope they will change. There were most likely happy moments in the relationship, and those may be the moments they want to think about. While it may be difficult to understand, it’s important to support our friends when they tell us they still love their partner.

And finally, last but not least...

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There are resources and people who can help. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please feel free to call our hotline at 808-531-3771 and ask to speak to the Teen Advocate. You can also email us at teen@stoptheviolence.org or even DM us on Instagram @teenalertprogram. Services are FREE and CONFIDENTIAL. We can help you create a safety plan or answer any questions you may have- we won’t tell you what to do or force you to leave your partner. We can also connect you to other community resources for either yourself or friends/family members. Just know that there’s a whole team of people behind you- you CAN get out!

The Men’s March Against Violence: Finding Your Voice

On October 13th, 2016, Honolulu celebrated the 22nd annual Men’s March Against Violence. This important event brought together over 1,000 members of the community: from social workers, to police officers and sheriffs; state legislators and other politicians, to high school students on Fall Break; members of the downtown business district, to University students taking a breather from their studies. As a mass, we gathered at the State Capitol and held signs, took photos, gave speeches, and told the world why it was necessary to gather our forces and speak out against domestic violence. The theme this year was “Finding Your Voice,” a call to action for those who continue to maintain silence in the face of this epidemic of violence plaguing our community. When the death toll mounts, and we as a state don’t say or do anything to prevent the next murder or suicide from occurring, we’re all partly complicit for the violence. When there are clear warning signs from our family and friends that help is needed, but we choose to ignore their pleas for aid, then we are failing these survivors of abuse. When a teen is trapped in an unhealthy or abusive dating relationship, and we write it off as “teenage love;” we are guilty of perpetuating that cycle of violence into the next generation.img_7998

Finding Your Voice is not just a one-day event; it is something each of us must continue to promote throughout our lives, 365 days a year. We must know how to speak back when violence occurs; promote equality and respect in all relationships to prevent that violence from spreading; and know what resources are available and how to access them. We cannot continue to allow silence and apathy to reign, we must challenge the world to properly assess, address, and redress this violence!

As long as intimate partner abuse continues – or ANY violence for that matter! – we must be equipped as a community to tackle this problem.

After meeting at the State Capitol, those of us in attendance snaked our way down the sidewalks of downtown Honolulu, through the business district and past the workers on lunch break. Holding banners and waving signs furiously at passing cars, we worked our way slowly towards King Street. Through throngs of cheering supporters, we marched to the beat of honking horns and shouts of support, each eliciting accompanying cheers from our crowd. It was like a party in the streets!20161013_115101

While we walked, those in the march talked about recent issues of violence in the community. We discussed the variety of participants and how many times each of us had attended the Men’s March. Some took selfies together, capturing the moment forever in film. We talked like a group of longtime friends, excited to see each other, while the weight of what we hoped to accomplish framed the backdrop for our participation.

Once we reached Honolulu Hale and Skygate park, where the rally was set to take place, it was clear just how many people had come out that day to protest domestic violence. As wave after wave of marchers poured into the space, various men from the community committed themselves to ending Domestic Violence. Through their eloquent words, they remembered those whose lives were stolen in the past year from abuse. They remembered the pain and struggle being inflicted upon too many of our ‘ohana, and why it’s so important that we hold their courage in mind. They offered support and a renewed commitment to challenge violence in all areas of our lives.20161013_130429

This event is a reminder to each of us about the pain that continues to spread. Behind closed doors or out in the open, too many women, children and men fall victim to this cycle of violence. The only way we’re going to put a halt to dangerous, abusive relationships is if we promote a better, more equal world - one in which our children grow up to love, respect and care for each other. Like members of a world family, we need to hold each other accountable and be responsible for our own actions. In all relationships, we must strive for peace and an end to violence. It’s only possible if we Find Our Voices, and USE THEM NOW!

I’d like to leave you with the Pledge of Nonviolence, a renewal of our commitment:

I believe that generating peace in my family, school, and community starts with me. Therefore, I commit:

 .. to become non-violent and peaceable in all my actions.

 ... to respect myself, to affirm others, and to avoid uncaring criticism, hateful works, physical attacks, and self-destructive behaviors.

 ... to share my feelings honestly, look for safe and healthy ways to express my anger, and to work at solving problems peacefully.

 ... to listen carefully to one another, especially those who disagree with me, and to consider others’ feelings and needs rather than insist on having my on way.

 ... to apologize and make amends when I have hurt another, to forgive others and keep from holding grudges.

 ... to treat the environment and all living things, including our pets, with respect and care.

 ... to avoid entertainment that makes violence look exciting, funny, or acceptable.

 ... to challenge violence in all its forms whenever I encounter it, whether at home, at school, at work, or in the community, and to stand with others who are treated unfairly.

 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: How to Get Involved!

“Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) nearly 20 years ago, our Nation's response to domestic violence has greatly improved. What was too often seen as a private matter best hidden behind closed doors is now an established issue of national concern. We have changed our laws, transformed our culture, and improved support services for survivors. We have seen a significant drop in domestic violence homicides and improved training for police, prosecutors, and advocates. Yet we must do more to provide protection and justice for survivors and to prevent violence from occurring. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we stand with domestic abuse survivors, celebrate our Nation's progress in combatting these despicable crimes, and resolve to carry on until domestic violence is no more.”

-President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month- and although we are only a few days in, we have already been able to reach so many people to bring awareness to this issue. Know how? YOU guys! Yes, you! Your discussions with us in class, your posts on social media, and your pledges to live a life of healthy dating have affected the community in such a positive way. Great work! Here at the Teen Alert Program, we love connecting with you guys whether in the classroom or online, and we’re proud of the fact that you guys are bringing awareness to your schools, friends, and families. It may seem like your voices don’t have much power, but they do. Teens have the incredible opportunity to bring about social change and literally change the future and the world.

So why is Domestic Violence Awareness Month so important? Well, as President Obama said, we have made a great deal of progress in supporting victims, but there’s still so much more to do. Here are some current stats from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
  • 4 in 10 women and 4 in 10 men have experienced at least one form of psychological abuse (emotional/verbal, mental) and coercive control by an intimate partner.
  • On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

There are still millions of people who need help. October (and any month, really) is a great time for you and your friends to attend events or use social media to bring awareness to this issue. Some people honestly just don’t know that it’s so prevalent in our nation- and that’s okay! That’s why we educate and spread the word. How do we do that? Here are some small things you can do that will make a BIG impact!

  • Attend an Event in Your Community

Check out some local events to join, like the Men’s March Against Violence (girls welcome, too!). Feeling extra inspired? Grab some friends, make some posters, and create your own small event! Send us an email if you need some help! (This is something you could start planning now for February, too- Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month!)

  • Give a Friend a Resource

Remember what we talk about in your schools- it’s not our job to force a friend to end a relationship. Instead, show support by listening without a judgmental ear. Let them know you’re there for them, that the abuse is not okay, and that there are resources out there to help. Refer them to our website, advocate, or Instagram, or give them our workbook from class!

  • Post on Social Media

Make a poster, take a selfie, or take a pic of your #TAP808 sunglasses if you have them! By posting on social media, all your followers will a) become aware of domestic violence, and b) know that you’re someone they can go to if they need help! Wear purple and use the hashtags #TAP808 and #DomesticViolenceAwarenessMonth to really bring it home!

  • Lead by Example

If you’re in a healthy, equal relationship, then that’s great! Talk to your partner about what you can do together to bring awareness to this issue and be a model for others. If you see a friend is being abusive to his/her partner, let them know it isn’t cool- but that with support, they can change their behavior!

These are just a few examples of things you can do to get involved in Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Remember that every voice counts- and even if you’re not experiencing this yourself, you can help those around you that may need it. Together, we can end this horrible crime of domestic violence happening every day to our brothers and sisters. Any other ideas of how to get involved? Let us know in the comments so others can see!

Why We Focus on Teens!!!

Ever wonder, “Why does the Domestic Violence Action Center, or DVAC, have a program just for teens?” Or, “Do teens really go through serious stuff in their relationships?” “Isn’t that stuff just normal teens being teens with all their hormones and trying to figure out who they are?” The answer to this is, absolutely NOT!

Being a teenager is supposed to be fun!

 

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Yes, you’re figuring out who you are, where you belong, and what you want to do; you’re also trying to decide what kind of person you want to be and what kind of person you want to be with. This is crucial to the teen years, because often, if you don’t learn from them, the mistakes you make in dating as a teen will be repeated in adulthood.

This is why we decided to focus on teens. Evidence shows that teens often don’t even realize they’re in an unhealthy relationship when they are. Sometimes it’s because they are just doing what they see at home. Sometimes they’re emulating things they see played out in the media that appears to be cool at most and normal at least. Typically, teens wait until an unhealthy relationship turns physically violent before reaching out for help. The Teen Alert Program recognized this and decided to surge forward with a program that would reach out to teens and talk to them about warnings signs, and other characteristics, in an attempt to prevent such things from occurring.

Check this out!

  • Only half of all tweens (age 11-14) claim to know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008.)
  • 80% of teens regard verbal abuse as a “serious issue” for their age group. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)
  • 1 in 3 teens in the United States experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend each year. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s 2005 study on Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim.)
  • 62% of tweens (age 11-14) who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc.) by a boyfriend/girlfriend. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008.)
  • If trapped in an abusive relationship, 73% of teens said they would turn to a friend for help; but only 33% who have been in or known about an abusive relationship said they have told anyone about it. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)
  • Less than 25% of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study of teens 13-17 conducted by Applied Research and Consulting LLC, Spring 2000)
  • Of the women between the ages 15-19 murdered each year, 30% are killed by their husband or boyfriend. (City of New York, Teen Relationship Abuse Fact Sheet, March 1998)

Being in a relationship can be difficult at times. Leaving a relationship can be even harder. Now, don’t get me wrong! I am in no way saying that every relationship where there are problems, that means there is abuse. Nor am I saying that you or your partner will never mess up; or make each other mad. I’m not even telling you that you don’t have the right to feel angry! Or hurt. Or frustrated; irritated; needing space. All of these, and more, are very natural feelings. However, it’s how we express those feelings that can sometimes be the problem.

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Sometimes it can be difficult to receive or ask for help from the people you trust most. Abuse happens in ALL types of relationships- teen relationships; heterosexual relationships (either guy to girl or girl to guy); and LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and more) relationships. Teen Dating Violence (TDV) happens no matter the race/ethnicity of the individuals in the couple; no matter how much money they or their families have; no matter how much, or what kind of, education they have. Abuse can affect anyone!

The Teen Alert Program is here to be an inclusive, prevention and intervention fountain of information and resources for you! We also have a Teen Advocate who you can access and work one-on-one with to discuss things that you may not be able to discuss with others in your life regarding your, or someone you know, potentially unhealthy relationship. The advocate will never tell you what to do; but she will provide you with the information and safety planning that you need until you feel comfortable making that decision for yourself.

Remember those statistics? How do you identify with them? Do you know someone who gets talked down to by their dating partner? Someone who used to be such fun to hang around, and now if you get to see them, they’re always on edge, worried about what their boyfriend/girlfriend might do if they catch you together; someone whose personality has completely changed since being in this relationship; someone who never seems to come around at all anymore, maybe their family barely sees them as well. Or maybe this person is you. Maybe you forgot what it was like to have fun; to be care free; to hang out with friends and family. Maybe you gave up sports, journalism club, GSA, or other things you loved. Maybe you’re in your first same-sex relationship and you’re scared of what will happen if you break up with the person, in spite of how they’re treating you. Maybe your friends expressed concern about your dating partner being trouble, and now you feel like you can’t talk to anyone without hearing “I told you so”.

Call us! Come up to us in the classrooms. Email. Let us know that you’re hurting and tell us what you need. Even if it’s just someone to talk to, reaching out for help is crucial. It doesn’t make you weak. Quite the opposite! So much strength and courage goes into reaching out for help when you need it. Hit us up on Instagram or Facebook, and let us know that you’re paying attention and how we can help you. If nothing else, comment below J

Remember, you’re not only the hope of the future…you are the hope of TODAY!

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Entitlement is Not Equality!

entitlement-definition When we think about a dating relationship, we try to imagine the perfect partner. They have charm, wit, a good personality, can get along with our friends and family, and they treat us like an equal. That would be a “perfect world” type of relationship, one where we can brag to others about how happy we are, and they can see the bliss we feel when thinking about this person. Of course, this begins to sound like a Disney movie when we compare the ideal with the reality of modern dating.

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In reality, we dream about being with the perfect partner, but end up with someone a bit less fulfilling. Sure, they may have some of the qualities listed above, but who can really hope to find someone that fits every nuance of their idealized relationship? Each of us has different wants, needs and interests, which further complicates the expectations we have.

In this day and age of internet memes, social media abundance, and reality show inundation, we have learned to pare down our expectations in lieu of someone that will merely date us. Sometimes we’re looking for someone to give us affection; sometimes we’re merely interested in eye candy. And while no relationship can ever be 100% perfect all of the time, we should have goals in mind for what an ideal partner is like.

This brings us to the idea of “ENTITLEMENT,” a big word that implies a sense of superiority, inherent deserving, or the right to do and have whatever we want. When we enter into a new relationship, it’s expected that both partners will work together. No one person can make all the decisions all the time, have all the control, or get to claim ownership over their partner. It should be a 50-50 situation between two dating partners, regardless of gender, background, dating experience, or any other factor. Of course, this takes both people in the relationship having similar beliefs and an understanding of equality.

Unfortunately, there is this intrinsic belief in our society that one person is entitled to being ‘The Boss.’ It has to do with the way our world values those in power: the biggest, the richest, the loudest, the strongest get to make decisions, and the rest just fall in line. We see this in politics, in organizations, with celebrities, or even within relationships.

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When we think of ENTITLEMENT in a dating relationship, some may feel like they can control where their partner goes, who they talk to, or even who they can have as friends (in person or online). They may tell their partner what they can or can’t wear; what they can or can’t eat; what kind of make-up is acceptable; or how long they’re allowed to spend away from the partner without checking in.

This might sound ridiculous, but for too many people out there, this is their reality. They’re stuck in a relationship with someone who believes it’s their right to dictate these decisions.

Too often, entitlement rears its ugly head in regards to sexual intimacy. The fact that we live in a society that paints women with a broad expectation for being sexually pure, while objectifying their bodies in TV, movies and even commercials; there begins to be an expectation that women are available and able to provide the same sort of sexual pleasure within a dating relationship. Partners begin to look at women’s bodies as something that can be controlled: from what they wear, to when and how they express their sexuality. This is not something a dating partner should be able to control, but these misconceptions about women (sold to us through the media) corrupt our sense of equality.

If a person views their partner as someone that “belongs” to them, just because they agreed to be together in a relationship, then that is entitlement coming into play. When a person demands their partner be sexually active (either because they’ve done it before, or because it’s the expectation they have for a boyfriend or girlfriend), this is laying the foundation for sexual abuse. No one is entitled to demand sex or intimacy from anyone, regardless of their relationship status. Even when two people get married, they are not entitled to be sexually intimate at the beck and call of their husband or wife!

The opposite of entitlement is equality. When we view a partner through the lens of equality, we view them as their own person, readily willing and able to make their own decisions, even if it counters what might be expected or hoped for in the relationship. When we view a dating (or married) partner as an equal, we respect their ability to make decisions for themselves, just as they would do for us. We value their opinions, even when we disagree with them, and would never use our status to force their hand.

We all deserve to have a healthy, fun, exciting, or “perfect” dating relationship. What we do in that relationship depends on our choices and actions, and the decisions we make together with our partner. We must learn to equalize the playing field with those to whom we enter into intimate relations.

Entitlement, control, or ownership should never be seen as desirable traits for anyone.

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#Lindsay: Victim Blaming in the Media

Finding the best recipe on Pinterest. Sending your best DubSmash to a friend. Recording the most precious puppy and sending it as a hint to your parents. Let’s face it, modern media has granted us with some incredible advances in communication and information. Specifically, social media has allowed us to connect with friends while also staying informed. There was a time when the average person got their news from (gasp!) reading a newspaper every day and engaging in verbal conversation with friends! Now, I love all forms of media just as much as the next person, but I’m also very aware of the gatekeepers who decide what is “important” enough for us to be made aware of. It’s all too easy to allow yourself to only keep up with what’s trending and not think much about it afterwards. Let’s start by reviewing the top trending social media topics from August 2016, shall we?

  • The rollout of Instagram stories and how it may affect Snapchat (How will you choose?!)
  • Some guy who actually caught all the Pokémon (I’m secretly kind of impressed, there are a lot)
  • Simone Biles slaying the games in Rio (Insert queen emoji here)
  • Gabby Douglas’ hair (which is a topic for another day *groan*)

I’m sure that you’ve heard about all of these “stories,” but there’s one that should be on the list: Lindsay Lohan. If you haven’t heard about what Lindsay experienced last month, then don’t worry- you aren’t alone.

Earlier in the month, Lindsay was visiting the beach with her then-fiancé, Egor Tarabasov. After an argument broke out over a cell phone, Lindsay got out of the car to get away from an angry and violent Egor. Egor ran after her, grabbed her, and twisted her arm up and behind her while she yelled in pain, not even stopping when her breast fell out of her top due to her contorted body position. This was all in broad daylight. How do we know this happened? It was all captured on a bystander’s cell phone.

A beach full of people, and no one helped her.

I know what you’re thinking. Of course people helped, why wouldn’t they?! The media must have reported on this everywhere and I just somehow missed it! The public must be rallying behind her! The short response to those sentiments is: No. They’re not. Let’s examine why.

To be perfectly blunt, much of the media (and in turn, the people) don’t care very much. Lindsay Lohan is not America’s Sweetheart. Gone are the days of quoting her in an endearing way (“It’s Cady…”) or thinking of her yesteryears (The Parent Trap anyone?). To the world, she is beyond repair. Why does that translate (subconsciously for some) to her being unworthy of help and support? It doesn’t. It shouldn’t! For some reason, the media doesn’t think it’s important enough- it’s as normal to them as another Lohan mugshot. Some people feel that it’s no one else’s business except the couple’s- but can you imagine the outrage if it was Taylor Swift or Beyoncé instead? This is a horrible situation no matter who you are or what your past may be.

Do you find this lack of support from the public unbelievable? So did I! When searching the hashtag #EgorTarabasov, a whole slew of tweets came up. Among the most cringe-worthy, perhaps, came from this person:

“I guess his money and drugs are worth the abuse. You deserve everything you get. #LindsayLohan #EgorTarabasov”

Excuse me, sir. I think you misspelled #VictimBlaming.

And perhaps the worst of all:

“First time, shame on him. Second time, shame on you. #LindsayLohan #EgorTarabasov”

Did they really just tweet that...

As friends of TAP 808, you know that this is just another case of victim blaming. It’s not so easy to leave a relationship. Why did she stay? Why didn’t she report it? We don’t know exactly what Lindsay’s reasons were, but it’s common for people to stay in abusive relationships because of shame, isolation, fear of their partner, threats, and even love. Maybe Lindsay felt one of these things. Maybe she hoped he would change. The point is, there are all sorts of reasons that make it difficult for someone to leave right away. It’s our job as friends (and frankly, as a community) to meet someone where they are and not force them to do something they’re not ready for. That way, when they are ready, you will have created a trustworthy and open door of communication. (If this is something you are struggling with, contact us and we can help!)

How else can we help? Do our tiny voices really make a difference in the world? The answer is a big YES! Talk about these issues. Challenge victim blaming. Post about these double standards online and start a healthy discussion. Even something as small as a smile can speak volumes to a friend. Show your support for Lindsay, because she could be any of us. “Party girl” or not…everyone deserves a healthy, happy relationship where they are respected and valued. Who knows? Your support may seem small and trivial to you…but it could mean the entire world to someone watching. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Now go forth and love each other, support each other, and listen to each other- without terms or conditions!

Practice Being A Great Friend!!

Summer break is officially over, and school is back in full swing! This time of the year can feel exciting and somewhat daunting, what with new classes, new teachers, mounting homework and tests, and all the other unknowns that confront us each new semester. But not all is scary! We also get to see old friends, sport new school gear, meet new classmates, and enter into a new chapter of our lives. We get to share stories of summertime adventures and how we spent the past two months away from school. We get to see what changes have occurred with our friends: who got taller, who went on vacation away from Hawaii, who started or stopped dating, and so on.

Of course, with the advent of social media, these life events may very well be common knowledge amongst our friends, at least those to whom we are socially (and technologically) connected. With the daily ability to keep the world informed about our thoughts, our struggles, and our exploits, things might not feel so new or different to us by the time school starts!

What was once shared in person can now be shared through social media, text message, or a multitude of apps.

But do we lose anything in the process of posting our lives online? Is the social nature of communication glossed over through the use of hashtags, emojis and status updates? When our friendships are relegated to the number of followers we have online, have we allowed social media to determine our stature and reputation?

When we’re able to instantly post pictures, videos, vines, snaps, tweets, and updates about every nuance of our lives, it may feel like we’re sharing ourselves with the world. When we click like on a friend’s picture, it may feel like we’re connecting with them. When we give a compliment online, it may feel like we’re being supportive. When we send a DM to a potential crush, it may be seen as a savvy way to be connected to a new person.

But is it not equally important and necessary to foster an ‘in person’ relationship with our friends and peers? Can we truly support or respond in a meaningful manner when confined to only what is seen or known through social media? And do we get a view of the full picture, or have our online lives been carefully manicured to reflect an idealized version of life?

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Through social media, it’s like we’re catfishing the world!

It begs to question whether these are adequate and effective forms of communication. Can we truly decipher a friend’s wants or worries or know how to properly address their needs when seen only through our phones, tablets or PCs?

When we limit our responses to witty memes, GIFs, 140 characters of text, or disappearing snaps, we may be inadequately responding to a real call for help. We may miss those moments where our assistance is needed. We may be inadvertently lacking a truly empathetic response, which in turn may dismiss the reality of a true friendship.

Let’s say our friend begins to date someone new, and we feel stoked for said friend. We may offer up well-intentioned words in person, and then go about our merry way. As our friend’s relationship grows deeper, there can be a tendency to see less and less of that friend (warning, potential sign of an unhealthy relationship! See isolation) Soon, the only sign of that friend, aside from the occasional sightings on campus, is through a variety of social media. And what if our friend’s relationship contains an inordinate amount of jealousy (another warning sign!); there can also be the potential for that friend’s online presence to slowly fade from view.

Too many unhealthy relationships begin with jealousy, distrust, accusations, and eventually isolation.

What do we do when that friend starts to fade from our lives? Do we reach out to them through text or social media? What if that friend’s dating partner monitors their phone or their social media account, are we then further cut off from offering support? What if we spot that friend at school, but they are always with their boyfriend or girlfriend, does it feel safe to reach out in person and check in with our friend? Or do we suffer silently on the sidelines as we watch our friend from afar?

What do we say, how do we breach the subject that our friend is in a potentially unhealthy or even harmful relationship? Does the world even recognize the signs of that friend’s unhealthy relationship, or do we only glimpse the idealized, rose-colored version as shown through social media?

Again, it’s important to foster friendships that exist in the real world, not only online. When we learn to recognize what’s going on with our friends -outside of the social media version of their lives- we may be better equipped to reach out as a bystander, should their dating relationship go south. The more we stay inserted into our friend’s lives in a tangible way (i.e., not only online), the more likely it is that we’ll be seen as a sympathetic and supportive friend.tumblr_mdvni4whqY1rlzcq5o1_500

FEMINIST

Feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

Man-haters, bra burners, hairy-armpit-havers, blah blah blah... These are just some of the many generalizations made about those amazing individuals who proclaim that they are feminists. Sure, some of us may not shave all the time (or ever) but that's not because we're feminists! It's because we're humans! Feminists are: female, male, short, tall, black, white, bald, hairy, straight, gay, trans, and EVERYTHING in between.

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Did you catch that? Men can be feminists, too! So if anyone can be a feminist, then what really is feminism? Well, according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

I think that sounds pretty fair. In fact, it sounds like common sense to me. If men can vote, then women should be able to vote. If men and women both work in the same position for the same company, then they should be paid be the same. If men can be sexual beings without judgement, then women should also be able to be sexual beings without judgment. Unfortunately, men and women are not always afforded the same level of respect.

  1. Women in the US were not allowed to vote nationally until the 1920s while (white) men have been allowed to vote since the country's inception.
  2. Women make 21% less than men (on average) for doing the same exact jobs.
  3. Women who are as sexually open as men often experience slut-shaming, while men are praised by their peers for their sexual exploits

Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Now that we understand why feminism is important for women, lets talk about why feminism is important for men. One thing that feminism does is help to break down those overly-structured, suffocating gender roles that have led to the inequality we face today. There isn't just ONE way to be a woman, and likewise, there isn't just ONE way to be a man.

Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations. --Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Do you think every man can be strong, tough, aggressive, unemotional, hyper-intelligent, breadwinners all the time? NO. They can't. It's just impossible. And it's likely that a lot of men don't even want to be that way! Men are as trapped by gender roles as women are.

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Okay, so feminism is important for cis-men and cis-women, but what about everyone else? I mean, we know there are so many different kinds of people in the world! Some feel that their sex (whether or not they were born with male or female reproductive organs) and gender identity (whether or not they identify as male or female) are the same, but many don't. And that's okay! Feminism is important for everyone.

But does being a feminist and breaking down gender stereotypes mean that those who identify as masculine can't be strong or be breadwinners? Does it mean that those who identify as feminine can't be emotional or home-makers? NO. It means that everyone has the right and the opportunity to decide for themselves who they are and what they want to do!

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To be a feminist is to believe in equality -- equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal treatment for everyone regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, or anything else. I wholeheartedly believe in equality, do you? Let me know in the comments!

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Shhh... it's a PostSecret.

If you’ve never heard of it, PostSecret.com is a website that is updated every Sunday with images of handmade postcards… with yep, you guessed it- people’s SECRETS. I used to love going to the site every week, indulging myself by reading the secrets that random strangers mailed in. It describes itself as a “community art project” and it can be pretty interesting at times, IMHO. Every once in a while, I still find myself reading PostSecret, and recently, one particular secret really stuck out to me.postsecret The thing that stuck out to me is that I know that whoever wrote this secret isn’t alone. The misconception that folks in same sex relationships can’t (or don’t) experience abuse is not only false, but dangerous. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGTBQQ) teens experience dating abuse at the same rates (and in similar ways) as teens in straight relationships. In fact, some studies even show that LGBTQQ teens experience dating abuse at higher rates than those in straight relationships.

For anyone in an abusive relationship, it can be really scary to leave or seek help. There are a ton of valid reasons that make it difficult for people to leave abusive relationships, such as fear, threats, love, and no support. But for individuals in LGBTQQ relationships, the fear that no one will believe them because of their sexuality can make leaving an abusive relationship even more difficult. We sometimes hear myths like “a male can’t abuse a male” or “a female can’t abuse a female,” and it is these very misconceptions that create an even more dangerous environment for people in  abusive LGBTQQ relationships.

Join TAP in raising awareness about dating violence and promoting healthy relationships for ALL. Help TAP debunk myths like this one to help create a safer world for everyone. Everyone deserves safe, loving, and respectful relationships. For more information about abuse in same-sex dating relationships, click here!

 

Say It With A Condom!

If you've been in a coma for the past few months (or live in an area without Internet, phone, newspapers, or carrier pigeons), then you may not have heard about the recent case against former Stanford athlete Brock Turner who was in the process of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus when he was stopped by two Graduate Students from Sweden. (If you want to read more about this case, I've included some links at the end of this blog post!)

Brock was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault, but received only a six month sentence and just three years probation. Even after his conviction, Brock has still not accepted responsibility for his actions. He insists that he was not responsible because he was intoxicated.

There is no excuse for sexual assault.

In response to Brock's refusal to take responsibility for the assault, there have been many nation-wide campaigns to raise awareness. An earlier campaign worked to increase the severity of Brock's prison sentence, and currently there is a petition to remove the Judge who sentenced Brock from his position. But MY personal favorite comes from a company called Say It With A Condom!

To raise awareness about sexual assault, Say It With A Condom has started a campaign called "Consent Condoms"

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They've designed a number of their own condoms, and have encouraged others to submit their own designs to be featured and sold on their website.

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Many people have contributed to the campaign, including celebrities like Amber Rose:

"Just because I'm a sexual being doesn't mean I want to have sex with you"

This is my personal fav:

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You can check out more designs on their website (link below) -- and even design your own! Let us know what you think in the comments section.

And hey, if you or a friend are still not sure about consent, you can just carry these with you as a friendly reminder than consent is NECESSARY for sex:

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***Links to articles about the Court Case against Brock Turner

Assault Victim's personal statement to her attacker

Statement from Swedish Stanford students who stopped Brock Turner's attack

CNN: Outrage over 6-month sentence for Brock Turner in Stanford rape case

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Tea Consent 2.0

A while back, another awesome member of the TAP808 team posted a video called "Tea Consent" (watch it here!), which related consent for sex to accepting a cup of tea -- super simple right?! I personally LOVE this video. I think it's very easy to understand and I'm so stoked on how many Middle/High School classes we've been able to share this video with. Of course it's impossible for one video to talk about every part of a complex topic like consent, so I wanted to highlight one thing that wasn't covered in the video:

Consent for ONE thing is not consent for EVERYTHING

I don't know many people in the US who drink tea, so let's switch gears for a minute and think about ordering food at McDonalds:

hero_pdt_beefWhen you order a burger at Mickey D's, they ask, "Would you like fries with that?" Then you can decide if you want fries or if the burger is enough.

If you want fries, you say, "Sure," and you get your burger and fries. If you don't want fries, you say, "No thanks," and you just have a burger.

Let's say you do want fries, so you order them. And then they ask, "Would you like a  drink with that?" Then you decide if you want a drink or if the burger and fries are enough.

If you want a drink, you say, "Sure," and you get your burger, fries, and drink. If you don't want a drink, you say, "No thanks," and you just get your burger and fries.

But what would happen if you ordered a burger, and then they forced you to order the fries and drink too?

You'd be pretty mad, right? Of course! Because you didn't want any of that other stuff! The same goes for being affectionate or intimate with your dating partner.

If you consent to a hug, it doesn't mean you consent to a kiss. If you consent to a hug and a kiss, it doesn't mean you consent to sex. And if you consent to sex once, it doesn't mean you consent to it all the time!

Consent for one thing is only consent for that one thing -- and not for anything else, because consent must be given every step of the way.

I know that's A LOT to think about. But it's important! So if you're still not sure, just remember to talk to your partner before engaging in sexual activity -- get their consent! That way you can both feel safe and enjoy whatever happens next!

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