Thursday, December 10, 2015

What Youth Work Means to me?

Youth Workers are often mistaken or grouped with teachers. Although both careers fields help to foster youth in a positive direction by providing them with the necessary skills to utilize in society, youth workers in my opinion are on a different level. To me, youth workers play a variety of roles. We are: mentors, teachers*, advocates, and students. We teach but we also learn from  youth. We all come from different backgrounds, posses different experiences, and different lifestyles.

We do not work by a timeline. Our "lesson plans" are not drafted by a school board. We unlike teachers have to freedom to be innovative. We help guide youth in positive directions by providing them with opportunities to develop or build leadership skills.This could be giving youth a project to develop a community garden or planning a conference   By providing leadership opportunities to youth who are an oppressed group, we are giving them a voice. A chance to be heard.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Event # 3: Private Violence Screening at the Providence Community Library

 As some of you may already know I work at the Women's Center on campus. Some of  our top goals are; to spread awareness around not only around the RIC community but the outside community as well about inequalities between  men and women, providing a safe haven for anybody that wants to talk, and proving informational pamphlets on Sojourner House, Breast Cancer facilities and workshops at the hospitals. I have enclosed a link to our Facebook page if anybody wants to see the events we have put on in the last year.
This brings me to an event hosted by the Providence Community Library November 26th, 2015. The PCL was  screening a documentary entitled Private Violence. It centered around two women: a domestic violence advocate Kit Gruelle and Deana Walters, a woman who was consistently beaten by her husband, kidnapped, and had her daughter taken away from her by child services as a result. She leaves him after realizing that he was never going to change and files a lawsuit against her already incarcerated husband for kidnapping and felony assault. I will include another link so you can see for yourself how much she suffered at the hands of her husband. However,I do have to warn you. The pictures are graphic and might trigger something.

            Throughout the documentary, I came across a lot of victim blaming. Deana was asked by many people even members of her family,” Why didn't you just leave, this would have never happened if you had just packed up your things, your daughter and moved back in here with us”. The women were blamed for the situation they were in. Their family and “friends” essentially blamed them for the violence that was directed at them. 
            I believe male privilege was also an underlying effect displayed. It felt as though these women who were fighting for their rights were constantly fighting a lose lose battle against the system. The system being 90% male. One of the judges actually said, “There is nothing I can do for her because she hasn't been beaten bad enough for any judge to help her retain a restraining order”. When I heard that statement I could not believe this man, who sits on the judicial board had the nerve to say something so entrapping. If the system can't help someone who is being abused by their husband or wife, I have to include men because they can be victims of domestic violence, then they are going to feel as though they are less than in the eyes of the law.
Deanna and Kitt
Kitt Gruelle wants to see change. She could have given two or three days out of her week and volunteered at a shelter, not that there is anything wrong with that but that wasn't what she wanted to do. She wanted and still wants to fight for the rights for every victim of domestic violence. She does not want to do it part time, she wants to do it every single day for the rest of her life.
Some people may say, why don't you just leave but they do not know how hard it is to do that. When you are told 100 times a day that you are nothing and that you are to blame for everything that has happened to you, you start to actually believe it. People should remember that before they start to pass judgement. 
 Below are some resources:

Event# 2: Sojourner House

The mission of Sojourner House is to provide culturally sensitive support, advocacy, safety and respect for victims of domestic abuse and to effect systems change. 

 Vision Statement: Sojourner House envisions a world where everyone lives their life free from domestic abuse.
               On November 16th, the Women's Center( located in the lower level of Donovan Dining- right before the Unity Center) sponsored a Domestic Violence Workshop with Sojourner House of Rhode Island. Gloria Greenfield, the manager of community workshops within Sojourner House presented a seminar on Dating Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention. 

 Initially, she asked us to define dating violence. Her definition covered all the bases that some people often overlook.
"A pattern of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional abusive behavior in a relationship. As the pattern continues, the abuser uses emotional manipulation and/or physical domination to gain control and power over his or her partner".

Once we covered the definition, she talked about physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse. As she began to talk about verbal abuse, I began to think about a certain person in my life. Her husband has a tendency to embarrass her in front of people just to attention.When she is with her family, he calls close to 10 times to tell her minor things that could have been said at a later time. Everything she does has to be approved by him. If not, there is an argument. 

Ms. Greenfield also taught us how to approach someone we believe to be in an abusive relationship. We must not allow our emotions to take over the situation. Instead we should do the following

Believe him/her.

Validate his/her feelings & strength.

Help friend devise a safety plan.

Emphasize that it is not friend’s fault.

Give suggestions but do not tell friend what to do. Support them in making their own decision, no matter what they decides.

Provide resource information.

Protect their right to confidentiality; it is their choice to tell others or not.

Do not confront the abuser. The abuse may get worse or you may be in danger yourself. 

We all think and believe different things. One person's situation may not be another person's situation. It may be easy for a woman or man with one child to leave their abuser but it may be difficult for a woman or man with four children, no family, and no money to leave their abuser. We must remember these things before we say,"Why don't you just leave?"


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Resilient Kids

Watching the RK videos, makes me believe that there is hope for the next generation. When I was in elementary school, middle school, and high school all my teachers would do one thing to get attention. Yell. If there were not yelling, there were making an example out of someone. That led to two or three days of detention. All yelling does is install fear not respect. The methods used with resident kids can be used on all levels. Youth of all ages experience stress. I think some adults tend to forget that. If we can incorporate methods like the methods used with resilient kids, we can lower the "truancy rate".

Monday, November 16, 2015

1st Event- Documentary Screening

         For one of my required events, I decided to participate in the screening of Unslut hosted by the Gender and Women’s studies department located in suite 1B in the Adams library. This documentary had a plethora of interviews, true life stories and specialists speaking on the topic of slut shaming and the use of the word “slut”. The word holds fear, shame, sadness, hurt, anger and so much more; and the fact that people throw this word around labeling women without the knowledge of how damning this word is, is sad.  
A woman in the movie said “All it takes is a rumor of a girl that has sexual activity and she is labelled a slut”. The quote goes directly with a true life story another woman talked about in the movie about a young lady named Rehtaeh Parsons who committed suicide due to being sexually bullied. They showed a cartoon reenactment on how the pictures of Rehtaeh were spread throughout the school. She was unable to defend herself, so obviously the story of the initial sender of the pictures was the “accurate” and “true” story. She was labelled a slut, because the story that was told made it seem as though Rehtaeh wanted to sleep with both abusers, but the truth being that she was gang raped. Rehtaeh was eventually sexually bullied, being called slut among other names, which unfortunately ended in her suicide. This cruel story shows how one rumor can affect someone. 
 To conclude, I think there should be more places that women have available just to help if things like sexual assault happen. But to get back to the word slut, there are a lot of slutshaming movements happening throughout the US today. I think it will take a lot more than protests to get rid of that nasty stigma associated with that word. Things such as: educating people on the history of the word, like in Gender classes and planning events that can take these negative words used to describe women and men and trying to get to the root of why people feel the way they do about the words.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The danger of a single story

I for one, will admit that I have been told  certain stories about youth. Particularly stories about privileged youth. When I was growing up, my mom and her sisters would always become upset when family friends or grandparents would give their children expensive gifts. Expensive gifts such as: name brand shoes, jewelry, clothes, or electronics.  They would always tell us, "If someone gives you a gift, say no thank you". They were against us becoming spoiled. Older generations of my family would often say,"When you're spoiled, you have an attitude of entitlement. You will step over other people to get whatever you want. You will never work for anything. All you care about is ME, ME, ME". I heard these stories or sayings from the time I was in elementary school until I graduated from high school. I still hear it today. After a while, I began to agree with my family. I apologize if this sounds harsh, but I did look at kids who came from money as spoiled and self-centered. I began making judgements based on encounters I had.

Flashback- I was a senior in high school. I was in my second period math class waiting for class to begin. In walks a couple of my classmates. It was January. Prom and dresses were the subject matters every day.  A group of girls walk in and start talking about what they were going to wear for prom. One of the girls starts to say,"I'm going to get my dress custom made, it costs around $500 but it doesn't matter because my dad's paying for it. I can't wear a cheap dress like some other people. 

When she made her comment, I automatically formed my judgements about her. At that point in time, I couldn't say, my family said this or my family said that. Yes they told me stories about privileged youth but during this time, I had formed my own perceptions on privileged youth. Before I graduated, I did find out that she did not have good relationships with certain family members. I had to reevaluate my stereotypes and say to myself, "When people act or talk a certain way, there is probably a good reason behind it. 

Chimamanda Adichie's Ted Talk can be applied to how we view certain communities, people who have been incarcerated or certain school districts. If you have only heard one side of a story, you have closed your mind to see one side of a story that may not be true.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Silent Witness Vigil- Sponsored by the Women's Center

As I have told you all before, I work at the Women's Center   on campus. We are located in the lower level of Donovan Dining. Today on the Quad from 12-2, we will be holding a Silent Witness Vigil.The purpose of this event is to bring awareness to Domestic Violence. 

In 1990, Silent Witness began promoting and educating to support an end to domestic violence.It started with one exhibit in 1 state, and grew into an international presence.
Many men and women die each year of Domestic Violence in the U.S. Each 1 has a story.
Join our efforts to end this tragedy .
Because we need to remember their experience with Domestic Violence.
We need to remember their names.
                                              -The Women's Center