If you’re feeling afraid, sad, or overwhelmed since Trump was elected, here are some things you can do to help
I received an email from a reader who is lesbian and who used to self-harm (so may also be a survivor) telling me how terrified she was since Trump got elected, and hearing how his vice president wants to attack the rights of the LGBTQ community, and asking for help in getting through. That reader is not alone in her fear and pain. I’ve seen it in so many of my friends, online and in person, and I’ve felt it myself. As a lesbian feminist who is also a rape, incest, and torture survivor whose parents were part of cults, so many of the things Trump said and stands for hit me hard. SO I thought I’d share my letter to her, suggestions on how to combat our fear and devastation and actually make a positive difference – not only for ourselves but for others:
Hi (name removed for privacy) (smiling at you),
First, I am so proud of you for not self-harming in two years! That is a huge accomplishment, something that takes strength and courage. Please keep yourself safe, and don’t hurt yourself if you can. You do not deserve to be hurt, not ever, not even be yourself. If you need to, read my Reasons Not To Hurt Yourself, Alternatives to Self-Harm , How To Stop Self-Harming , or What To Do When You Feel Like Hurting Yourself.
I am glad you’re out and proud! I know it’s not always easy, especially when there’s a lot of homophobia around, but I think that’s important – for ourselves, to be healthy and happy and truly live, and for the people around us, both queer and straight, to see that we are here, and also especially for the young LGBTQ community so they know that they’re not alone.
I think it’s so important to keep surrounding yourself with other people in the LGBTQ community and our allies, so that you get support and know you’re not alone. You can do that in person, and also online.
I’m so sorry you’re having a rough time since Trump’s been elected. I really understand it. Trump has so much hate and bigotry and discriminates against so many people, including the LGBTQ community. Just know that you are not alone in feeling terrified and sad. I’ve seen SO many people respond this way. And even though I’m in Canada, I felt devastated and so very afraid on hearing the news. But I also think there’s a lot we can do to fight back AND to feel better.
Keep filling yourself up with positive stories, and also with stories that let you know that you’re not alone, and that you are healthy and good the way you are – such as LGBTQ books or books with queer characters in them, as well as TV shows, movies, songs, and news stories – and share your favorites with others.
It helps to know you’re not in this alone, and to talk to others. I am so glad to hear you have a supportive family and community; that can help a lot.
I also think it’s really important to feel and express our emotions, so you did something great in getting it out and writing about it!
And I think it’s good to not stay in the fear, or at least to reduce it, if you can. So here are a few suggestions:
For immediate reduction of fear and stress, it can help to:
- Use Positive Distraction: watch a movie or show you love; read a favorite book or a new one; color in an adult coloring book; watch funny or cute animal videos on YouTube; dance or sing to feel-good music; draw or doodle. It’s okay to escape for a little while;
- Do Something That Makes You Feel Good or Comforted: have a bubble bath; hug a friend; pat your dog or cat; indulge in a comfort food; eat something healthy; listen to feel-good or happy music; curl up under a cozy blanket and read a book or comic; inhale some calming or uplifting essential oils (lavender is good for calming, citrus oils are good for uplifting the mood);
- Release Your Emotion Safely: talk to someone you trust; draw or paint or make some art; do something active such as going for a run or playing a sport; scream into your pillow (it can be very cathartic and no one can hear you); punch a pillow;
- Ground Yourself In the Present: talk a walk in nature or outside and notice the beauty around you; plant your feet firmly on the ground and feel the ground beneath you; notice something from each of your senses.
For long term, it can help to do something positive to help combat Trump’s (and all bigots’ and hate-filled people’s) effect, such as:
- sign the Change.org petition to ask the electoral college to make Hilary Clinton president on December 19th. It already has more than 3 million signatures;
- volunteer at an organization already doing good for the LGBTQ community, immigrants or Muslims; rape and sexual abuse survivors; people of color; women’s rights; homeless people; poor people; mental health; or whatever feels best;
- donate to one or many of those organizations if you can. Some suggestions are the Trevor Project (support for in crisis or suicidal LGBTQ youth); Planned Parrenthood (women’s health and rights); RAINN (support and advocacy for rape and sexual assault survivors); UltraViolet (fight for all oppressed people’s rights with a focus on women, and against Trump’s actions ); ACLU (fights for the rights of every person in the US (so, against Trump’s discrimination); Black Lives Matter (fighting against violence and systemic racism); Human Rights Commission (fight for LGBTQ rights); Trans Lifeline (a crisis and support line for trans people); Women’s Refugee Commission (helping refugee women and children); Showing Up for Racial Justice; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; your local rape crisis center or LGBTQ community center; etc.
There’s also a list of great organizations that help with sexual assault here, and many, many more fantastic organizations for support and advocacy for all people who need it here and here.
- Sign petitions against Trump’s hate-filled or damaging actions, or any person or company’s hate-filled or damaging actions, such as at UltraViolet and Care2Causes. I believe petitions can make a positive difference. I’ve seen results reported on many. It can also help to share those petitions online or with others.
- Wear a safety pin on your clothes to show that you will stand with and support any person or group being discriminated against or bullied, especially those that Trump has targeted and who might now be afraid, such as Muslim, LGBTQ, people of color, women, etc. This means you are a safe person, an ally, and if you see them being bullied or harassed you will help, or they can come talk to you. You can see many inspiring posts on social media by searching the hashtag #safetypin (and realize you’re not alone), and read more about it here. It was first started in the UK after the Brexit vote when immigrants and other minorities were being threatened and harassed.
- Keep putting kindness, compassion, and goodness into the world in your own ways. Sometimes something as little as a smile or a bit of real praise, a listening ear, or a hug can make a huge difference in someone’s life. And posting on social media can reach many. I try to do all those things, and keep writing books that deal with oppression and overcoming that oppression with healing and support.
We have fought so long and hard for our rights, and we’re not done fighting.
Know that the entire world will be watching what Trump and the new vice president do, especially to the LGBTQ community, people of color, Muslims, women – all the groups he targets. If the Trump government tries to take away any rights, we will all be outraged and appalled. We will all speak out, and I believe we are stronger together. You are not alone.
I hope this helps!
Please take good care of yourself,
Hugs, Cheryl Rainfield
An important free downloadable kit on abusive relationships based on the #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou tweets
#Teachers, youth centres, and anyone working with teens or #domesticabuse survivors: You can download a free, print-ready kit on abusive relationships made from #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou. Artist Maya Drozdz collected the tweets and designed the kit to help spread awareness about unhealthy relationship dynamics. The kit that contains bookmarks, a poster and flier with tear-off slips containing different #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou tweets. The 11-by-17-inch poster lists statistics about domestic abuse and provides a website and phone number for the United States’ National Domestic Violence Hotline. It looks like an important resource on abusive relationships, and helping teens (and adults) recognize emotional abuse, manipulation, and control.
You can download the kit for free here
You can read more about it here
I love Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s thesaurus books for writers. I think they help us when we’re stuck, remind us to use all our senses and find just the right descriptions, and prompt us to dig digger. So I was excited to hear that they have two new books out: The Urban Setting Thesaurus and The Rural Setting Thesaurus. And they’re celebrating with prizes! Read this guest post by Angela and Becca for more info. And if you haven’t already tried one of their books, I suggest you do. They are great tools for your writer’s toolkit.
There’s nothing better than becoming lost within the story world within minutes of starting a book. And as writers, this is what we’re striving to do: pull the reader in, pull them down deep into the words, make them feel like they are experiencing the story right alongside the hero or heroine.
A big part of achieving this is showing the character’s surroundings in a way that is textured and rich, delivering this description through a filter of emotion and mood. It means we have to be careful with each word we choose, and describe the setting in such a way that each sight, sound, taste, texture, and smell comes alive for readers. This is no easy task, especially since it is so easy to overdo it—killing the pace, slowing the action, and worst of all, boring the reader. So how can we create a true unique experience for readers and make them feel part of the action while avoiding descriptive missteps that will hurt the story?
Well, there’s some good news on this front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.
In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus:Antiques Shop.
And there’s one more thing you might want to know more about….
Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.
A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking…if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.
Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!
Hate Is NEVER Okay. Let’s work towards a kinder, more inclusive world, with diversity of all kinds accepted and appreciated. A world that doesn’t have massacres like Pulse Orlando.
The LGBTQ massacre at Pulse Orlando yesterday by Omar Mateen was horrifying and devastating – and it made it even more clear how important it is still to work against homophobia and hatred, and toward greater compassion for all. How important it is that lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer folk are visible and normalized in every aspect of our society (as well as people of color, people with physical and mental disabilities, people with mental health issues, people who are “fat,” all of us who are “different” in some way from the “normal” or “beautiful” that society sells us). How important it is to have LGBTQIA – and other forms of diversity – books, movies, and media, support centers and crisis lines, and community. Pride Month seems like a celebration to outsiders – but we have fought hard for equality and safety, and we are still fighting against homophobia and hatred. This horrific massacre shows how much we still need LGBTQIA Pride, and greater compassion and awareness for all kinds of diversity.
All day yesterday I kept going back to the news coverage and social network updates. It was wrenching and painful, disturbing and deeply saddening, and brought up so much hopelessness and despair and pain for me. For so many people around the world. As a lesbian torture and rape survivor who has witnessed a lot of murder, violence, hatred, and homophobia, it hit me on so many levels.
Mateen’s father reported that his son had recently been repulsed by seeing two gay men kissing and that he himself believed that “gays should be punished by God”. (Learned homophobia and hatred, anyone?) And Isis followers of the Sharia law, which the shooter said he stood for, believe homosexuality is a crime, and they have killed many queer people. The shooter had also been abusive, and beat up his first wife. Violence and hatred is rarely isolated.
So many people responded with compassion to this tragedy. I was glad to see people from all over – queer and heterosexual – lining up to give blood, attending vigils worldwide and expressing shock and pain, and offering support to LGBTQ people and loved ones.
Banding together after a tragedy, offering support and compassion and working to help others in trauma shows the beauty of the human spirit. Please, let’s not lose that compassion and determination to work towards a better world in a few days or weeks or months, when the shock and devastation fades. Let’s try to prevent something so horrible happening again.
Mateen, although he’d been investigated twice by the FBI and had his cased dropped, and was mentally unstable, had gun permits and used an AR-15 rifle, the same used in Newtown and San Bernardino.
After this horrific massacre, and so many others in recent US history, I desperately hope that US people will work towards greater gun control, and make it harder for violent and mentally unstable people to get a gun. In 2015 alone, there were 352 mass shootings, 64 school shootings, and overall some 13,286 murdered by guns in the USA. “Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK” (In Canada, Australia, and the UK we have stricter gun laws than the US).
I have witnessed so much murder and abuse, experienced daily/nightly torture and rape and hatred at the hands of my parents and their cult members – and what I know deep in my soul is that compassion and love cut through hate; that hate destroys souls and people and lives; and that every life is important and matters – human and animal – and that we should not allow it to be thrown away. And I have seen that violence and hatred, discrimination and abuse, are all interconnected.
The extreme hatred and violence of Pulse Orlando is not isolated; it is echoed in the homophobia and hatred spewed daily from right-wing Christians; in the many shootings of Black people by white police in the US; by the murders, rapes, and attacks on queer people throughout the world, by the “honor” killings of thousands of girls and women in Pakinstan and India each year; by genital mutilation (and sometimes resulting death) of girls; by frequent rape and sexual harassment of women and girls and boys around the world. We are all in this together.
We need to make changes to our world to prevent murder, violence, abuse, torture, and heartbreak.
We need to:
- Work towards stricter gun laws that prevent violent, abusive, mentally unstable, and hating people getting guns and rifles. Owning a gun doesn’t make us safer; “an average of 554 American women are fatally shot by romantic partners every year. That works out to a domestic violence gun homicide with a female victim once every 16 hours.”
- Work towards greater compassion, empathy, and an end to hate.
- Not blame Muslims for this homophobic, hate-filled attack. I have seen homophobia and hatred towards LGBTQ people from Christians (especially right wing), Catholics, and other religions, even atheists.
- Work towards freedom, safety, and equality for all.
“No one is free until we are all free.”
– Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
I will do my part. I will never stop being who I am – a lesbian feminist torture survivor – and being open about it. I will always stand up against homophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of hatred and inequality when I see it. I will always write about LGBTQ characters who love each other and who heal, as well as survivors of abuse and trauma, and other diverse people. I will always have rainbow flags, buttons, t-shirts, and celebrate pride. And I will try to always approach others with compassion, empathy, and love. I will not put hatred or unhappiness in this world.
There is so much hatred and cruelty in the world. But there is also so much hope, and compassion and beauty and love. Let’s take some of that goodness inside us–and act.
We need to stand up against hatred and violence. I hope that you will–whether you’re part of the LGBTQ community or an ally, whether you’re of color or white, whether you’re able or differently abled … stand up against hatred when you see it. Say something when you hear a homophobic, racist, sexist joke or comment. Stand up against bullying, sexual harassment, rape. Work towards better gun laws in the US and every country that needs it. Work towards better laws against homophobia and rape and murder. Sign petitions against horrific things. Spread the word about companies that hurt people or animals or the earth. Do whatever you can in whatever way you can. I know that together we can make a healing difference in this world. I’ve seen it already – a greater awareness of child abuse, of homophobia, of sexual harassment and rape, of sexism (think the right for women to vote), and greater rights won. Let’s keep working together for a kinder world.
UPDATE: If you’d like to help make a difference now, I hope you’ll sign the petition to ban assault rifles in the US. I did. You can also make a donation.
There’s a second petition by another activist group I trust to ban assault weapons. I’ve signed it, and I hope you will, too.
You can also show your support for the LGBTQ community by attending a vigil this week. Find it here: www.weareorlando.org or add your local event there. I’m heartened to see that more events have been added, not just in the US, but also in Canada, Brazil, France, UK, Albania, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and Ecuador. People around the world are responding with grief, love, and compassion for the LGBTQ community, and against violence. This is heartening to see. You are not alone.
– Cheryl Rainfield, author of SCARS, STAINED, HUNTED, and Parallel Visions.
#IWearDenim Because I Support Other Survivors & I Know It Is Never a Survivor’s Fault For Being Raped.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM), and today (April 27) is #DenimDay. I’m wearing denim to show my support for other survivors, and to take a stand against our rape culture.
As an incest, rape, and cult survivor, I was frequently told by my abusers that the rapes I endured were my fault. That I wanted it, or asked for it, or somehow made it happen. But it was never my fault or my choice. And if you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, it’s not yours, either. No matter what you were wearing. No matter who your rapist was. Rape is always the rapist’s fault.
Being raped is devastating enough. But on top of that, survivors often get shamed, blamed, told to keep quiet, told they are ruining the rapists’ life, or are not believed. Speaking out shouldn’t be so hard; being listened to and believed is part of the healing process. We live in a rape culture that blames and belittles survivors, sexualizes young girls and boys, and encourages denial. This deepens the emotional scars from sexual assault.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting other survivors, believing them, and speaking out when you hear jokes or attitudes that blame, shame, or silence survivors.
I speak out against rape culture and support other survivors through my books–writing emotionally and honestly from my experiences as an incest, rape, torture survivor–and through my online presence. I hope you’ll find your own way to speak out and help others. One way to start is to take the pledge.
#DenimDay #DenimDayAuthors #NoExcuses #IWearDenim #TakeThePledge
#WeBelieveSurvivors #IBelieveSurvivors #ISupportYou #Survivor
The world is limited for people who can’t read. Imagine not being able to read signs, medication labels, job applications, or a note from your child’s teacher, and not having the pleasure of reading a novel. Reading helped me survive the abuse and torture of my childhood; I am saddened for the people who don’t have that escape. And reading novels helps reduce stress, increase vocabulary and knowledge, stimulate your mind and possibly slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia, increase empathy, and do better at school and in life. People who can’t read often have lower incomes, lower quality jobs, low self-esteem, and worse health. Yet nearly 800 million people worldwide cannot read or write, 126 million of them are children, and 2/3 are girls or women.
Infographic via Grammarly
Infographic via International Literacy Association who want to create the Age of Literacy by spreading the #800Mil2Nil message.
How can you help? Read to children in your life and give them the gift of books–including letting them choose some of their own books. Volunteer your time at your library or school after-school reading program. Create a Free Little Library. Donate to your local library or library of your choice, and to literacy organizations:
I LOVE this post by #YAlit author Ava Jae On The Lack of Chronic Illness Rep In YA, and I’m honored that she included Parallel Visions in her list. We need to change the message that’s out there in YA lit for chronically ill teens: that their stories are only worth telling if they die or have a miracle cure. Chronically ill kids and teens can be heroes in their own right. I wrote Parallel Visions after getting asthma. It’s terrifying to feel like you can’t breathe. But chronic disease has nothing to do with us being strong, intelligent, empathic beings who can be heroes and have adventures, too.
Read her fantastic post, book suggestions, and reader comments on more book suggestions.
I’m honored that SCARS is a recommended YA read in Michelle Falter’s thoughtful, insightful post on mental health and social justice. I agree that we need to be brave and talk about our issues; eventually it will help create greater understanding, compassion, and empathy.I have long been open that, as a direct result of daily/nightly rape and torture at the hands of my family, I suffer from severe depression, PTSD, anxiety/panic attacks, and dissociation, among other things, and I used to self-harm to cope. I also tried to kill myself as a teen. Abuse leaves lasting effects. And yet we can find ways to cope and to heal. And part of that, I believe, is being able to be open about what we’re going through, let go of societal shame or judgement, and find acceptance in ourselves and from people we are close to. Give high-school teacher and educator Michelle Falter’s post a read; I thought it was fantastic. I would personally prefer the term “mental health,” but I wholeheartedly agree with her sentiments! Read it here: http://goo.gl/6VMDDt.
(Originally written and posted for Pride Week on E. K. Anderson’s blog.)
I once overheard someone say that Pride Week was a giant party and why wasn’t there a party for them (heterosexuals). It may look like a party—we certainly work hard at celebrating and connecting with friends and loved ones, and at being proud of who we are—but many of us in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer/Questioning) community have faced homophobia, harassment, hatred, hate violence, and some have even been murdered. It can be a struggle to be who we are in the face of hate and discrimination. It gets even harder when we are isolated or lack support, and especially for teens who may lack community and resources.
Many LGBTQ teens are afraid to come out to their families or friends because they may be bullied, attacked, kicked out of their families and homes, or killed. Even in the US, Canada, and the UK, there are still queer youth (and adults) who are stalked, bullied, harassed, beaten, raped, and/or murdered for who we are and who we love. In at least seventy countries, it’s still a crime to be gay. Just being a teen is hard enough, with the social pressures to conform and to be liked, never mind the added pain if you’ve experienced bullying or abuse. Add in homophobia, and it’s no wonder that LGB youth are four times as likely to try to kill themselves.
Every questioning and LGBTQ teen should have a safe place to explore and grow into their own sexuality, to be able to feel good about it and celebrate it, rather than fear the reaction of their parents, friends, or the world around them.
For some, Pride Week may be the first time they see that they’re not alone; that they see themselves in a positive light without hatred, disgust, or shame; that they can hold their lover’s hand in public without fear of backlash; or that they feel a real sense of safety, community, and belonging.
But LGBTQ Pride Week—one week out of the year—isn’t enough. We all need to see ourselves reflected in popular culture—through books, comics, TV shows, movies, magazines, and ads—to help us know that we’re not alone, that we’re okay as we are, and for LGBTQ people especially to help fight homophobia and embrace who we are. There are some LGBTQ media, but not enough to reflect our real world, and teens in isolated or conservative areas or with homophobic parents or communities may have a hard time finding resources.
Many queer and questioning teens don’t have support around them, don’t have anyone they can talk to, and books may be their first or only way to find someone—a character—like them. I think we need many more LGBTQ books, and especially lesbian and trans books (I’ve found there are usually more gay-focused than lesbian books available). Books where the teen characters are simply LGBTQ, and the story line is about another issue (which helps normalize us), as well as more YA LGBTQ romance. Books that I hope any reader will want to pick up, regardless of their sexuality. Hey, I read books with both heterosexual and LGBTQ characters all the time; I don’t discriminate based on sexuality. I just enjoy a good book.
I make sure to have LGBTQ characters in all the books I write, whether they are the main character or secondary characters. It’s important to me. As a queer teen, I struggled to find lesbian characters in books, movies, and TV where the lesbians didn’t kill themselves or end up unhappy. I found very few—only one teen book that had a lesbian character that I can remember—Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden. This has changed over the years; there are more LGBTQ YA books now, but there still aren’t enough, and in so many books even LGBTQ background characters are mysteriously missing. I have been delighted to see more and more heterosexual writers bring LGBTQ characters into their books. I hope someday soon we’ll see a greater number of books reflecting the world we live in, with characters who are LGBTQ, and of different cultures and races, disabilities and abilities, mental health issues, and everything that makes up all of us.
Books give hope. I desperately needed books that reflected my experiences as a queer abused teen; they helped me survive. And books can save lives. And I know that from the many reader letters I’ve received; many tell me that after reading one of my books it’s the first time they talked to someone about being queer, or abused, or even that my book kept them from killing themselves. If you are or know someone who is part of the LGBTQ community, I hope you’ll buy, read, or give some YA LGBTQ books.
You can find many here:
GAY YA: LGBTQIA+ Characters In Young Adult Fiction;
LGBT YA. via YA author Malinda Lo;
A Guide To YA Novels With LGBT Characters via YALSA;
I’m Here, I’m Queer, What The Hell Do I Read? via Lee Wind;
Wrapped Up In Books: LGBTQ YA Fiction 2015; and
LGBT YA Reviews.
I hope you accept and celebrate who you are and who you love, help others do the same, and find many people who love and accept you for the beautiful person you are.
Happy Pride Month! I hope you feel pride and joy about who you are all year long.
If you need to talk to someone:
International crisis and suicide helplines
The USA has just gained marriage equality in all 50 states! SO happy for the USA and proud of you all, too. Congratulations on marriage equality! This is truly love winning and not hate. We are inching towards #LGBTQ equality! This is a huge step forward, and something to celebrate.
Now we need even more countries to give queer people the right to marry (it shouldn’t be something that has to be given; it should be a basic right) and an end to homophobia and hatred! An end to LGBTQ hate crimes–murder and bullying and rape–and an end to LGBTQ suicide. It’s still a crime in at least 70 countries to be queer. We can’t stop fighting for equality and justice for all. For all LGBTQ people to live in safety and be able to be out and who we are.
Today is a huge mile stone for the US. So happy for you USA! Happy, happy Pride to you all.