Heri Za Kwanzaa!

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, a non-religious holiday in African-American culture. While it may not be widely formally celebrated, many people celebrate at least some aspects of Kwanzaa.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa emphasize values of community building, mutual support, and progress. Their names are expressed in Swahili: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba) and faith (imani).

(Click image to go to the official Kwanzaa website)

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Shadow and Act posted a brief article featuring a video series debunking Kwanzaa myths. And this year the USPS featured another Forever stamp with a Kwanzaa theme.

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And According to Blavity’s Trey Mangum, we MUST see this episode of The Proud Family:

Whether you celebrate a little or a lot, or simply observe by pausing for thoughtful reflection during this time, may your holiday be a time for reconnection and renewal.

Happy Nature’s New Year!

In the Northern Hemisphere, days will grow longer after today, and overall our moods will trend towards an upswing, even though it will be colder and stormier for a while.

Women Online: Mental Health Risk

Unsurprisingly, research supports women’s–especially Black women’s–descriptions of their experience of online abuse:

 

 

It’s pretty hard in 2018 to avoid being online, so it can be hard to avoid abusive interactions. This can leave vulnerable people with increased depression, anxiety, and other trauma-related symptoms. Ideally, various platforms would develop better algorithms and reporting mechanisms to limit online abuse. Even more ideally, people would stop being abusive!

Failing that, you need to support your own mental health as best you can:

  • Be mindful of how much time you spend on social media. Take breaks!
  • Find supportive groups / circles / allies to focus on
  • Find supportive, helpful media sources and check in regularly
  • Develop a free “block” or “mute” hand – you don’t owe others your energy, attention, or explanations!
  • Document any threats or threatening communications before they are removed, and report abuse
  • Know that you are NOT crazy–it really is bad!–and you are not alone ❤

 

Happy Saint Lucia’s Day!

Celebrate the returning of the light. Your hypothalamic pituitary axis certainly will be!

CSA Survivor Support Groups at Samaritan Counseling Center

RISING TOGETHER PARENTS SUPPORT GROUP

This group is for non-offending parents and caregivers of children who have been sexually abused. The group will focus on the impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) on the survivor and the family.

Through guided discussion and shared activities, the participants will explore topics including: trauma response, grief and loss, necessary changes, fostering healthy child/family development, family impact (parents, marriage, siblings), establishing safety and creating a new normal.

The goals for this group include: Sharing information in a supportive environment, Gaining knowledge of trauma response, Imparting universality: You are not alone, and Networking to continue supporting survivors of CSA.

The group will meet twice monthly at Samaritan Counseling Center from 7 to 8:30 pm on the following Mondays: January 28th, February 11th & 25th, March 11th & 25th and April 8th, 2019. Total cost for the 6 session series is $150 for individuals or $250 per couple. Preregistration is required – register online here. Click here for additional information. Contact Lizz Durbin at LDurbin@scclanc.org or 717-560-9969 ext. 254 to register.

SURVIVORS CIRCLE OF HOPE

This series of 6 gatherings for adult survivors of child sexual abuse typically meets twice monthly for 3 months.  Participants experience a safe community and common ground with other survivors as we look at the ways that our lives have been shaped not only by our stories of trauma, but by our own strength, struggle and resilience. By exploring healing truth and hope through conversation and creative expression, we will consider the many ways that the dark or dormant periods in our lives can give way to growth and new life.

The Circle of Hope is co-facilitated by trauma-trained therapist, Lisa Hanna Witmer, MSW, LSW and Deb Helt, Senior Safe Church Facilitator & Congregational Support Specialist. Meetings are held at Samaritan Counseling Center (1803 Oregon Pike, Lancaster, PA) from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays and group size is limited to 8 participants. The cost for the series is $125 for all 6 sessions.

The Spring 2019 series runs from February through April 2019. For a printable flyer with additional information about our spring circle, click here. To register online click here.  If you have any questions, please contact Lizz at 717-560-9989  ext. 254 or LDurbin@scclanc.org.

Supporting Vulnerable Friends and Acquaintances During Violent News Cycles

Above, Header Photo: Ryan Loew/PublicSource

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Above Photo: Cox Media/WFTV9

Violence is committed every day, but people in marginalized groups experience violence at considerably higher rates than majority group members, and more often simply because of who they are. For minority group members, this can lead to a pervasive (and frankly, realistic) sense of vulnerability that causes increased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD, especially when hate-based violence is a news event.

Jeffrey Marsh has some gentle suggestions for being supportive:

Checking in and validating–without pressuring someone to talk or to help you to process–can be helpful, especially if you are willing to simply allow your friend or loved one to have the space to manage their feelings.

Publicly speaking out to or among other majority group members can also be helpful: for example, share a supportive post. But consider sharing a post that does NOT include graphic images or footage of violence. People who live with the threat of violence daily don’t need further exposure and may feel even more vulnerable.

It is common for PTSD symptoms to spike during times of social upheaval, especially for those who are in marginalized groups or who have abuse histories.

Nicole Sanchez, a lecturer at UC UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, has some useful insights about how we can support marginalized friends and coworkers during critical events. She’s talking about race, but much of the dynamics also apply to events affecting LGBTQ folks (and other marginalized groups).

 

(Threadreader compiled version here.)

 

Let people know they are loved and valued and that you want them to be safe, happy, and thriving! ❤

Happy Hanukkah

Words from New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood:

 

 

(Header image via: https://twitter.com/TLHYellowCab)