If it starts with, “Well, at least…” — try something else.

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Photo by Berlian Khatulistiwa on Unsplash

Supporting survivors of sexual assault is critical to their healing and well-being after enduring this traumatic event. Most of us don’t learn how to respond when someone discloses what they have been through, and sometimes things we think to say can be harmful, even if they’re well-intentioned. Here are a few common things to avoid saying and why they can be harmful.

“Are you sure that’s what happened?”

This question implies disbelief. It’s normal to be shocked about hearing that this happened, especially if the perpetrator is someone that you may not have expected, but questioning it is not supportive to the survivor. It also implies that if the survivor does not provide more details or evidence than they have shared, they will not be believed. It’s up to the person who went through it to decide if and when to share details at all. …

Insomnia is the worst. Be a hero this holiday season with these sleep-inducing gifts.

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Photo by Megan te Boekhorst on Unsplash

We all know that person, or perhaps we are that person- the one who just can’t f*cking sleep. Unfortunately, I heavily identify with the insomniacs of the world. I could list some statistics about how common it is to have bouts of sleeplessness or some kind of sleep disorder, but truthfully, you’re probably reading this because you or someone you love just wants to fall the f*ck to sleep.

Legal gifts for these people that you can buy *not* on the black market exist. This list is not an ad for any product, and also, consult doctors before use, and all that good stuff. But let’s get to it so that you or someone you care about can just !#%$ sleep for once, dammit. Out of all of my years of sleeplessness, these are the gifts that I have found to be the most helpful, in no particular order, with their typical price range. (Fun tip: ‘more expensive’ definitely has not equated to ‘better’ with these gifts, in my experience.) …

A very brief glimpse into the conferencing process

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The criminal system is rightfully under attack when speaking of its handling of sexual assault cases. Less than a single percent of sexual assaults result in a successful conviction. Only five percent of reported cases are even referred to prosecutors, meaning detectives or patrol officers are the gatekeepers of 95% of these cases. …

The bittersweet emotion that reminds us we’re alive

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Photo by Hannah Jacobson on Unsplash

As a teenager and young 20-something, I avidly wrote in journals. I spent long nights alone listening to music and writing out my angst on the thin-lined pages of cerulean blue notebooks. Those pages captured the beautiful moments of deep connections with the people who shaped my life. They captured the devastating loss of those deep connections to petty things, to natural drifting, to things I still regret; they captured first loves and second loves and the cyclical nature of the rise and decline of those relationships that faded into nothingness after meaning everything to me. …

Even Oprah Agrees

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Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” — Maya Angelou

How much heartache could we spare ourselves if we took Maya Angelou’s advice?

It’s always those little comments, or microaggressions, or little red flags, or slights. Sometimes it’s even the one big blow out or the big red flag. We forgive. We give a second chance. We believe words over actions. We fail ourselves.

There’s a fine line between forgiving, offering grace, encouraging learning opportunities, explaining miscommunications, and knowing when it’s time to remove a person, or environment, or system from our lives to spare ourselves from being hurt, scared, disappointed, or unsupported once again. …

Older friends are like regular friends with refreshing life perspective

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

My best friend Michelle is the kind of person who is friends with literally everybody. She travels the world, frequently moves short and longterm, and I can’t remember a time where she has ever told me that she feels absent of meaningful connections wherever she goes. Apart from being exceptionally charismatic and open-minded of everyone she meets, the friendships she makes often surpass the barrier of age.

Many years ago while visiting her in South Carolina, we went for a walk on a woodsy path in Columbia. An older man stopped to talk with us about the weather and the beauty of the day. Michelle engaged with him immediately, while my Northeastern instincts that did not understand Southern hospitality eyed him suspiciously and planned an escape route, certain that this scenario was headed for an episode of Dateline. After he left without even attempting to murder us, I remember Michelle laughing about my reaction to the simplest of conversations with a stranger, something she was used to and something I was clearly not. …

A favorite side hustle, ranked by personal experience

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Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Going through graduate school, time and money were understandably tight. I was always looking for ways to multitask absolutely everything. Not being the kind of student that overwhelmingly focused all of my time and energy only on school, I enjoyed being able to find ways to keep a balanced and healthy lifestyle while still achieving my educational goals. Instructing group fitness classes allowed me to combine exercise, music, socializing, and a higher-than-average pay rate into a single hour. It was genuinely the best possible side hustle I could have asked for.

Over the course of my time as a certified instructor, I took advantage of learning opportunities whenever possible in order to expand my fitness knowledge and to be able to take on more classes and hours. While I began instructing general fitness courses, I eventually earned more certifications for classes like Cycle and Pilates. By the time I taught my final fitness classes as a cardio kickboxing instructor, I realized how many ways my side hustle had expanded. …

The proposition focuses on drug decriminalization, treatment and recovery

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Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Oregon voters have appeared to pass Measure 110, decriminalizing hard drugs and instead making treatment a priority. It is the first state in the nation to begin to treat drug addiction more holistically as a medical and well-being issue instead of a criminal problem. Its success could act as a model for healing addiction throughout the country, where nearly 38% of adults struggle with an illicit drug use disorder.

While other countries have been tackling drug addiction in a similar way for years, including Portugal and the Netherlands, addiction remains heavily viewed and treated as a crime in the United States. In a country that generally views human behavior as an individual choice rather than an outcome in large part to blame as a matter of circumstance, treating addiction has largely been unsuccessfully resolved by placing people in prison for their addictions rather than offering treatment and recovery. …

Without accessible, simple, and affordable testing sites, don’t expect people to get tested

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Photo by Glen Carrie from Unsplash

Long wait times, confusing insurance information, expensive tests, and a very real curiosity about to how to get tested if you rely on public transportation. These are just a few of the critical issues around testing that contribute to the COVID-19 pandemic that shows no signs of slowing in the United States.

While measures like community mask mandates, social distancing, and the closure of certain high-congregation areas are essential to slowing and preventing the spread of COVID, testing is equally critical and yet one of the least efficient processes in many areas around the U.S. …

Michaela Coel’s HBO series demonstrates realistic and relatable portrayals of survivors dealing with the aftermath of rape (Content Warning: Contains Spoilers)

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Photo by HBO

A stranger drugs and rapes a woman on a night out at the bar. There is no rush to apprehend the offender, there is no CSI-style investigation, there is no resolution. All that’s left is a woman who has to learn how to continue living her life in a world that will never quite feel the same again, a world unwilling to wait for her to find her footing on this new, uneven territory.

What makes I May Destroy You so unique is that it takes viewers down the lengthy path of what happens in the psyche and day-to-day life of survivors of rape after they are assaulted. The story is not premised around the rapist and his lack of consequences, leaving the focus instead on the survivor. The series provides an authentic and realistic portrayal of how survivors learn to go on in a life that is suddenly very different than it used to be, riddled with the nuances of trauma, destruction, survival, and hope, all stuck on a never-ending loop. …


Kate Chisholm, MPH, MA

Passionate about reframing the narrative around sexual violence and immigration. Health & Fitness. Runner, Traveler. OG Student. Believer in the Oxford comma.

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