A Lot of Things Happening in the World

A lot of things are happening in the world today. Unfortunately, online abuse remains one of them…

There is a lot going on in the world today.

We are moving farther apart. Yet in many ways we are moving closer together.

In these times as we continue to look for ways to stay safe, come together, and meaningfully connect with one another, much of our lives have moved online. And, wherever people gather together there will always be greater opportunities for kinder, better interactions — but, sadly, also many openings for less kind ones…

Cyberbullying, harassment, and online abuse are real. And they can represent very real threats to individuals’ sense of safety, peace of mind, and well-being.

As we move forward, it is important to remember that we each have a duty to avoid unnecessarily harming others. But, we also have a right to insist on freedom from harm caused by others. This includes harm caused by online harassment and abuse.

Be kind. Always.

And never stop fighting for what is right.

Black lives matter.

How to Recover From a Sexual Assault | Flight blog

The following is excerpted from Flight — my new blog about recovering from gender-related violence, wellness, and finding your way back to joyful living.

This past December, I decided to tackle my insomnia with a fresh approach.

Sleepless nights have plagued me, off and on, at least since I was pregnant with my youngest.  In the months following her birth (in 2014)—thanks in no small part to a sexual harassment situation at work that nearly shattered my mind—my battle with insomnia escalated to the point that, at its worst, led to me emerging from the bed on several mornings to meet my responsibilities (i.e.,  pumping/nursing, getting little ones ready, going to work etc.) and otherwise ‘starting’ my day after I had already been awake for 24 hours.

Mercifully, with time and changes in circumstances, my sleeplessness had waned (and waxed) since then.

But, as this most recent holiday season got underway, I found myself again unable to sleep.


Sleep Baby, Sleep

The thing about insomnia is this:

Sleep may elude you,

but still you are condemned to chase it.

Sleep is the dashing suitor that once whispered sweet nothings to you each night, making you believe he would never leave; the debonair prince that charmed you into bed night after night, filled your head with nonsense and dreams, and—the two of you intertwined—danced with you beneath the stars until dawn broke.

But now he has moved on.

And, you are lovesick. Desperate . . .  Returning each night to the scene of the crime—the bed you once shared; haunted by the memories of what you lost; surrounded in your loneliest hours by only the peaceful sounds of those whose company he still keeps.

Yes, sleep may be done with you, but you still need sleep.

So night after night, you keep your solitary vigil.  And, morning after morning, there you remain: tragically and perpetually sleepy.

This was the space in which I lived.

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How to Deal with Online Harassment

How to Deal with Online Harassment is information that remains topical and essential going into 2019.

As more and more of us turn to technology to express ourselves and release our frustrations, and our laws fail to keep up with the myriad of ways victims are targeted online, the problem of cyber abuse is compounded.

So, here’s an excellent piece Anna Goldfarb did for Vice Magazine on the subject last March.  I contributed some expert advice.

Middle School Bullying Predicted by Presidential Support, Study Finds

A recent study found an increase in bullying among 7th and 8th grade students in localities that favored the Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election. 

They are not old enough to vote, but are still affected: it seems middle school bullying is influenced by the national political discourse.  A recent study found a correlation between local Trump support and bullying among middle school children.

The study—which was carried out from 2013 to 2017—found an increase in bullying among 7th and 8th grade students in localities that favored the Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

Based on the data, the percentage of voters supporting the Republican candidate was a statistically significant predictor of an increase in the number of students bullied on the basis of their race or ethnicity.

Though the study does not conclude that the Republican candidate directly caused the increased victimization among the children, the researchers suggest a ‘trickle down’ effect.  The study notes that people sharing the president’s views might “be most likely to echo his statements and attitudes in their own behavior,” and more children in those regions are thereby exposed to aggression modeling.

In addition, the study highlights the role of media—particularly online sources—in affecting aggressive behavior among children:

[A]fter the presidential election, a prominent hate website, Daily Stormer, encouraged its audience to make foreigners and persons wearing Islamic clothing feel unwanted and frightened …

There is evidence that Russian operatives used Facebook ads to amplify political divisions and engender conflict on controversial topics including race, immigration, and sexual minority rights…

It is plausible that some of these efforts affected adolescents or adults who had influence on adolescents, especially their parents.

Bullying—including cyberbullying—can have deleterious effects on young victims, including increased absenteeism, anxiety, depression, poorer grades in school, damage to physical health and well-being, self-esteem, sleeping issues, social anxiety, and increased risk of suicide.

The study again underscores the importance of making sure children know what to do if they find themselves victims of middle school bullying.