#MeTOO

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This post may be triggering for those who have experienced sexual trauma.

This hashtag has been all over the internet recently.  While it can be good as a tool to bring light to the millions of women who have survived sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape, unwanted sexual advances, it can also be a trigger for so many.  Women everywhere you an old, rich and poor, famous and not so famous are hashtagging #metoo, while at the same reliving some of the most disheartening and traumatic experience one can every endure.

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As a survivor, this hashtag reminded me of what I have overcome but it also reminded me of the pain and struggle I had to endure to get from a place of overwhelm to overcome.  Here is a little of my personal story:

There is no secret in my family that I was molested as a child.  This person was allowed to go free and has never been prosecuted to this date.  It has been brought to light that there are other victims, many, he is a serial child molester.  He is a monster.  Unfortunately, the statute of limitations has run out for me to press charges or do anything about the situation other than tell my story and be as open and as honest about what happened to me.

After years of being ashamed about the situation, in college I finally found the courage to speak up because other friends shared their experiences.  I was in the comfort of other who had their #metoo moments.  After years of being angry and upset at my family for not protecting me, I learned how to no longer allow myself to be a victim of my circumstances.  Circumstances that I did not ask for and circumstances that I did not deserve.

What I share today is that there are signs, parents.  From my own experience and from my studies in the field of psychology, there are signs.  Parents, pay attention to who you bring around your children.  Trust their instincts and not just your own.  Look for the innocence to be lost, you can see it in their eyes.  When their happiness is replaced with heaviness pay attention, ask questions, observe.  Be prepared to protect your child period.  enough said.  Keep an open relationship with your child and have frequent dialogue with that child.  Talk to them and not AT them, there is a difference.

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For my fellow survivors, it is not and never was your fault.  It was not how your dressed, your behavior, your attitude your nothing.  It had nothing to do with you.  It never does. The reality is that there are a lot of sick bastard in this world and more often than not, due to our silence or the silence of those around us, they stay protected.  How many of these people are still roaming around, preying on women with low or no self esteem, or those women who are working hard, and who feel that their children are with a trusted partner, neighbor or friend?  We need to be more intentional about calling them out and naming the disease so that it can be eliminated and not allowed to happen to anyone else.

The whole #metoo thing, I am not sure exactly how I feel about it.  I know it is hard for some women to see that hashtag and know what it means, what it really means.  I also know that for other women it is a form of victory.  It is a way to take the power back and to know that there are countless others that share their pain.  More importantly, it is a signal that there is so much more work to be done.  Work on personal levels, collective levels, legal levels and definitely religious levels.  However you may feel about the topic, not that the pain is real, but also know that you can be free of the pain, emotional heaviness and blame that the movement may bring up.  For those who may be going through it now, hopefully something or someone gives you the courage to speak up and get out of the situation, whether it is at home, at work, at school, wherever.  I pray that we all continue to work and take out power back.  Now that is a better hashtag #takeourpowerback!

Be Blessed!  Be Fabulous! Be Fearless!

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July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

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For those of you who didn’t know July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.  It is my belief now more than ever that it is important to recognize how mental health is affecting minority populations. Many people today live with undiagnosed mental illness and there are some with diagnoses that are not receiving treatment. No matter if you or one of your loved ones suffer from mental illness there is something that we all can do, especially during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Presented as a bill to the House of Representatives in 2008 by Representative Albert Wynn from Maryland, the bill aimed to not only formally recognize July as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, the bill also sough to enhance public awareness of mental illness and specifically mental illness among minorities and improve access to mental health treatment and services and to increase public awareness of mental illness.  This bill sought to further the advocacy and information that was being shared by noted author and mental health advocate and survivor Bebe Moore Campbell.

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Bebe Moore Campbell, the late author, mental health advocate and co-founder of National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI,  was a proponent of  July being recognized as the month were minority mental health should be highlighted. Campbell, who suffered from mental illness herself was very outspoken about her journey as well as the importance of eliminating family stigma and quality care. More than access to care, the purpose of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month has been being able to be open about mental illness and removing the stigmas attached to having mental illness. While it has been almost 10 years since Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was recognized by Congress there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done in the areas of mental health and mental health awareness.

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The statistics are staggering; 1 in 10 children and 1 in 5 adults suffer from mental illness in America.  1in 10 children! Even more alarming than the numbers is that fact that the majority of persons living with mental illness in the United States will not seek any type of treatment. Even now minorities are less likely to get the diagnosis and treatment the need. They are also less likely to have access to mental health services and have mental health services available to them. Often when the do have access to and receive care it is of a subpar quality compared to majority populations.

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The facts and the statistics surrounding minority mental health are staggering. 1 in 10 children in the United States is affected by mental illness. There are thousands of people living with mental illness that are going treated and worse yet undiagnosed. Those who often need mental health services the most do not have access to those services. Everyone may not be able to do the same thing, but we can all do something.

Mental health 2As single professional women, many of us have been affected by mental illness, or either someone in our family or someone we know has been affected by mental illness. Many of us have ourselves been treated or need to be treated for mental health issues.  The sad truth of the matter is that many people suffer in silence.  This needs to become the exception and no longer the rule. Below is a list showing you signs that someone you know may need help.

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If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health know that there are organizations out there who can and will help. We do not have to suffer in silence. Let us all do what we can to assist others in fighting their battle with mental illness.

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NAMI.org

SAMHSA

Minorityhealth.hhs.gov