Designing empowered women: combating violence

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“A Mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually VACCINATES
her daughteragainst low self-esteem.”

― Naomi Wolf

When I was asked to write a guest post about preventing violence against women, I felt a familiar fire bubble from my core; a resistance so strong that a visceral reaction of nausea mixed with anxiety began to take hold.

I was a victim of a violent attack in my late teens which left me nearly paralyzed, unconscious, as the imprint of his fingers left a black and blue ring around my throat- the whites of my eyes blood red for weeks.

I have never written my story. I may never write about it. I do not feel like a warrior when I tell it, nor do I feel sharing it is for the benefit of other women. I feel as victims learn to; holding beliefs, such as, somehow I made too many mistakes.

I was naïve and should’ve known better when everyone warned me about his reputation and attacks on a previous girlfriend.

Dare I say, that it was even more enticing to me -the story of a bad boy who never loved again because he feared he loved too hard. One-night stands were all he could manage, a badge of honor he wore proudly and was honored for among the guys.

I would change him.

He would love me and he would be faithful and we would show the world that love between two wounded souls can exist. I’ve always had a wild heart.

violence against women awarenessI love to fall in love. I love that an addiction can form from the scent of another person. I love the fire. The way a new lover reveals themselves to us bit by bit like that first warm day of the season which promises heat, sunlight, and blooming beauty. I love the fights. We sometimes hate the other person. I even love that because in those moments we are feeling the full spectrum of our lives, the wide range of temper and passion like thunderstorms in summer which give way to rainbows and delicious scents that intoxicate whimsical souls such as mine.

I craved an addiction -the desire to wrap myself around someone who was so damaged that I can finally feel worthy because if a man like him can love me, it means I am truly lovable. Addiction is what is born when desire meets need with a side of desperation.

I romanticized us. I blamed myself when it was all over like a well trained victim.

I was called a liar after it happened. And the victim in me questioned my own sanity. A victim is not weak. A victim has learned to be nice and kind and reframe their world so that when things go wrong in their life the guilt is suffocating. I often think of that famous picture with an elephant who is standing next to a tiny stool, a thin string tied around his leg. He only steps as far as the string will allow. The elephant believes that he is bound to the stool.

And so it is.

Our attachments to other people are a lot like that.

I pulled myself out of the wreckage of the car which plummeted 50 ft into the water on that night. I was stripped of what I thought I knew about myself, about love, and about self-love. I continue today to pull myself out of the wreckage of what followed.

How can violence against women be prevented?

We must push damn hard for the life we know was meant for us. I did.

I write this as a reminder to myself as well.

Prevention starts with you!

Here are some tips you can put into practice if you need or want to raise awareness in relation to violence against women.

  • violence against women monthBegin with your children. Even if you don’t have any. Re-parent the little girl inside of you any way you can. Replay moments when she felt unworthy and unsafe and hug her tight. Validate her fears and tell her she’s safe and you will never let anyone hurt her.
    Mean it.
  • Keep her picture with you always, whether it is your own little girl or yourself as a child. Try to tell that picture that she deserves abuse or pain. You will not be able to do it. It will feel barbaric and cruel… because it is. Because she is perfect. Look at her daily and tell her that she is deeply loved.
  • Discuss life goals with her which do not involve anyone else.
  • Tell her she’s beautiful, but also tell her she is intelligent. Being intelligent is damn powerful.
  • Teach her to be fierce. Speak up and get good and angry when she’s passionate about something. It doesn’t mean she isn’t nice or kind.
  • Violence against the self occurs each time she puts herself down, self-criticizes, and believes the stories she tells herself in those moments.
  • If it feels like abuse but there are no physical marks or attacks to speak of- IT CAN STILL BE ABUSE.
  • Model healthy boundaries and say no in front of her. Say no to her and teach her that it is self loving to fucking say no, sometimes!
  • Love her with all that you are and if she makes mistakes, never shame her.
  • Allow her to see if you’re afraid, and on that fringe of fear show her what it looks like to fly.

And…

If you should fall in front of her, show her that at the foot of darkness, you will find your way home.

“I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
But, she’s just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I’ve done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hand
Now I’m starting to see
Maybe It’s got nothing to do with me
Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too”

~ John Mayer


unnamedA public school teacher, writer, reiki practitioner and certified yoga instructor- Nicole guides both children and adults through yoga practice. After breaking her back, doctors couldn’t be certain she would ever walk again. Igniting her desire to heal both the emotional and physical body, she went on to receive her 200 hr. Hot Yoga/ Ashtanga Vinyasa teaching certificate, along with a specialized 100 hr. Yoga Rocks!Kids certification. As she shares her journey toward peace through healing practices like yoga and meditation, she is immensely grateful for the second chance she has been given. Her articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen, Elephant Journal, and Rebelle Society.

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