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