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“Embracing the paradox that we simultaneously are and are not our story is precisely what enables us to keep writing new ones. My story about the abuse I experienced at the hands of my father will always be a part of me, but it no longer defines me. Of course, I sometimes spiral back into trauma; unlike the self-help pundits who say it’s possible to simply let go of the old hurts by cleansing them with a dose of love and light. I know that even as the impact fades, this experience is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.

That said, healing is not a linear journey. Old trauma is wrapped up in the fabric of the new stories I’ve created for myself, and the resulting pattern is not nice and clean and neat. In fact, the deeper we all go, the messier and more chaotic it will get. It is the contrasting loops of darkness and light, life and death, defeat and triumph, that make the human story such a compelling and gorgeous one…”

 

-Kelly McNelis

(~an excerpt from ‘Women for One’ founder Kelly McNelis’s new book, ‘Your Messy Brilliance’)

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“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls. We talk about how many teenager girls in the state of Vermont got pregnant last year, rather than how many men and boys impregnated teenage girls.

So you can see how the use of the passive voice has a political effect. It shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto girls and women. Even the term ‘violence against women’  is problematic. It’s a passive construction; there’s no active agent in the sentence. It’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at that term ’violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them. Men aren’t even a part of it.”

-Jackson Katz

I’ll admit that I’d never heard of Jackson Katz until I researched him after reading the above quote last night. A quote that to me is so incredibly profound. It highlights the need for more careful language that shifts the blame to the actual perpetrator, not the victim as regularly occurs.

What an incredible bio he has. Katz, a former football star, a TED Talk speaker, and I now know, is one of the most prominent voices in the pro-feminist men’s movement. His agenda is to educate men, particularly in college age campus settings, on what they can do to end sexual voilence.  Katz is also the co-founder of MVP Strategies (Mentors in Violence Prevention), one of the longest-running intervention training programs in the U.S. He has also created training materials for universities and school districts, NFL teams, several Major League Baseball teams, and even the U.S. Navy.

We all know that sexual voilence and harrassment isn’t a Hollywood issue. It is a societial issue that affects females from all walks of life, regardless of age, income and workplace. Perhaps the most promising thing that could come out of the Weinstein coverage is for more men to understand that harassment from males, of all ages and positions, happens to females of all ages and positions. Perhaps this nature of giving men like Weinstein a free pass will end.  It’s time to stop blaming the victims and start taking the issue seriously.

 

 

  Continue reading 

Enough already. FFS!

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‘Sexual assault against women is an epidemic of epic proportions. More than half of the women I have known well, have been assaulted in one form or another. If any other form of dysfunction impacted that many people, we would declare a state of emergency. It is perhaps the most socially acceptable epidemic on this planet. And it has to stop.

Women can no longer live with these secrets, nor can they walk this earth fearful of where they step. But they cannot do it alone. Awakening men must join them. We must stand firmly beside them, and stand down those unconscious men who frighten and assault our sisters. We must make a conscious choice not to shame women, but to shame those men who belittle and abuse them.

This is the next step, one that holds the key to world transformation. Because if half the planet is denied basic protections, the entire planet is lost. May recent events be a true, never-to-be-forgotten call to action for awakening men everywhere. Courageously confront and transform the aggressor that lives within you. Give him no place to hide. It is not shameful to acknowledge your violent conditioning. It is shameful to act upon it. Make another choice. Stand beside your sisters. Stand down your unconscious brothers. Make love your lasting legacy.’

-Jeff Brown

Don’t you just love Jeff Brown’s ability to cut through the bullshit?

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‘EVERYTHING is not a gift. There may be valued transformation that arises from many experiences, but that doesn’t mean that EVERY experience is a gift. If we lean too far in that direction, we will deny trauma and victimhood all together, something we have been mistakenly doing for centuries. No, everything is not a gift. Some experiences are horrors, and it is all we can do to heal from them. To suggest that someone MUST find the gift in them, is to add insult to injury. It is also to create a culture that welcomes all horrors, because, after all- “everything is a gift.” Let’s keep it grounded- sometimes, it’s a gift. Sometimes it’s a horror. And the only who can decide that is the person who had the experience.’ -JEFF BROWN


“It’s easy to understand why you might seek a heart-to-heart dialogue with a parent who disappointed you. You long to make sense of, to heal from, to resolve. You intuitively know that they have information that can put what you experienced in context. 
At the same time, you have to be careful not to expect something that they cannot provide. For many of those who came before, it is absolutely essential that they stay away from the hotbed of emotional material that you seek to excavate. It’s too loaded, too guilt-ridden, too overwhelming, and they intuitively know they will not survive the process. They know that the dialogue will force them to awaken a whole web of unresolved emotional issues they are not able to confront. There is little worse than ending up between two worlds- one unconscious and repressed, the other conscious and awakened. Sometimes its necessary to remain asleep, because awakening is just too darn difficult. 

The important thing- when you seek dialogue with those who have hurt you- is that you understand in advance that any refusal to participate is not a reflection of your inherent value. It’s a reflection of their inherent limitations. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It doesn’t mean that they don’t privately wish that they could have done better. It often just means that they have chosen, or must choose, to never look back…
-Jeff Brown 

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“I always try to remember how much courage it takes for abuse victims to return to a state of trust in this world. This is no game, and often takes every ounce of energy and faith they can muster. Trauma is not simply a concept or an idea of something. It is not some misplaced story. It is not some ‘parasitic pain-body’ (Oy gevalt!). It is a deeply embodied experience of suffering that fastens itself tightly to the cellular (and soulular) structure of every person who is victimized. It embeds itself as somatized memory, and it cannot be wished away or bypassed with positive affirmations and victim bashing mantras. It just can’t. I often hear people telling others ‘to get on with it,’ ‘let it go,’ and ‘stop playing the victim.’ This languaging adds insult to injury, and is both counter-productive and victimizing. Yes, we don’t want to hang onto trauma as identity for the rest of it, but it is far worse to pretend that it isn’t there. The heal is for real, and that healing can only happen in a compassionate and patient environment. May we support those who have been traumatized (which is most of humanity, in my estimation) with an exquisite depth of understanding and presence. Without it, we just keep the cycle of abuse alive. Without it, we miss the opportunity to heal our own brokenness and enhearten this mad world. The heal is for real…” -Jeff Brown 

The Hungry Child

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‘One of the great challenges for those who have survived abusive and neglectful parents is that there is often a part of us that is still waiting for them to love us, even if there is very little chance of that happening. Locked in an archaic mindset, we continue to go back for more, looking for love in all the wrong places. Somehow we imagine that they will come around one day, realize their mistakes, see our worth, soften those armored edges. And some do, often when they are very old, made vulnerable by sickness and time. But many don’t, and we need to stop putting our emotional lives on hold waiting for something that may never happen. The bridge from stagnation to empowerment lies in our willingness to see them for who they really are, to take them off their primal pedestal and recognize their human limitations. This is not easy- the hungry child self clings to illusions- but it is oh so necessary. Until we accept the reality of who can’t love us, we cannot embrace the love of those who can.’-Jeff Brown