We know this is a scary and uncertain time for many of us as we worry about our health and economic futures. Being faced with idea on an extended quarantine can bring up a lot of overwhelming feelings. Perhaps you've noticed more headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, or stomach aches? Your body may be trying to tell you that it is in distress and needs help soothing itself. Thankfully, there have been many people and places that have stepped up to meet the public need.
1) Watch a new movie or TV show to distract yourself:
Movies can be a great distraction and escape from our daily frustrations
Universal studios is releasing movies to stream that are still playing in theatres
Disney will also be releasing Frozen II 3 months early to stream.
Netflix has an option to watch movies online with friends!
Or maybe binge a new TV show
We need time to relax our bodies with all this stress. Artist Lizzo has been leading online meditation sessions to help calm the community.
There are lots of apps like the Calm app, woebot, headspace and others that can help you learn to meditate.
3) Learn how to Support your community:
Children's Advocacy Services of greater ST. Louis is offering a webinar for supporting children deal with stress of the virus on March 18 at 1:30 pm. http://bit.ly/casgslcoronaviruswebinar.
Check out the united way resources
Get help for yourself
4) Take some new educational classes:
Scholastic is offering free courses to help your child learn
Multiple education companies are offering learning opportunities including Harvard
Podcasts like Theaboutsexpodcast, TheLastPodcastonTheLeft, AskaMortician, and CreepyClub all provide a wealth in information on unique topics from ghosts to sex, and death.
5) Take a virtual tour of a national park
6) Tour a Museum Virtually
Check out art from Paris Museums
Tour a Historical site too
7) Go on a Virtual Field Trip to the Zoo or even Mars
Check out NASAs public library of free images
8) Laugh a little
Watch some comedians on youtube or netflix. Laughter is the best medicine they say.
9) Read some books
Your library has free books you can rent and download to your kindle app.
Audible will also give you a couple audio books free with a subscription.
Amazon frequently offers free books available to download each month, or get the unlimited subscription for $10.
10) Learn a new language
This is a great opportunity to learn that language you always meant to. There are many podcasts dedicated to helping you learn. Check out Coffee Break podcasts.
This is a perfect time to plant some seeds and grow some fruits and vegetables. Start prepping your garden for spring. Get some fresh air. Gardening is great exercise too.
12) Learn a new hobby
This is the perfect time to learn to play that guitar that has been sitting in your basement, to finally figure out how to crochet, to complete the jewelry making project, to finally figure out how leatherworking is done (see Tandy leather), to learn the art of blowing glass or resin making, to hone your cooking, to try out all those projects on your pinterest board, to practice your calligraphy...whatever it is youtube has so many videos on perfecting your craft and facebook has many groups you can join to help you improve your skills.
Perennial St. Louis will be posting online tutorials for crafting and upcycling in a sustainable way.
13) Practice Yoga
14) Re-connect with Family and Friends
So often in the modern world we have complained about social media and work driving us apart. Take the time to reconnect with your loved ones. Call or skype them, dust off the boardgames from your closet, share a puzzle together, get out that deck of cards, maybe even share stories or poetry.
15) Home renovations
You are home. You probably have projects you've been meaning to get to for a while. Pour your energy into something productive.
Whether you have the scrapbook supplies you've been meaning to get to since your kid was born (and they are now 10) or you have an online album you were meaning to create, now is the time to sort and organize your memories into something meaningful.
17) Pet love
Animals can provide great comfort in times of stress. This is a great time to get in those extra snuggles and walks that make you both feel better. Animal videos on youtube are always great. Have you seen the videos of Fiona the baby hippo? Adorable!
See her here:
Check out these funny cat tik toks
18) Spa Day at home
Your body needs relaxation. Take a warm soothing bubble bath, add those candles and essential oils, maybe turn on some relaxing music. Put a blanket in the dryer and then wrap it around you when it's nice and warm. Make yourself a cup of hot cocoa or tea, and wrap your palms around the mug allowing yourself to feel the soothing warmth while you inhale the pleasant aromas. Maybe add some marshmallows if you have them. Get out your box of nail supplies and pain and buff those nails. Try that paraffin spa or massage cushion that has been sitting in a box for years. You can fill some rice into a sock, infuse eucalyptis oil and you have a nice face mask. Check out pinterest for ideas for homemade spa essentials.
19) Listen to music
Music is usually one of the most calming things for people. Get out your playlists, maybe bust out your cds, watch some youtube videos, listen to spotify. Some musicians like the singer from Coldplay have been doing impromptu online concerts. Cellists like Hauser have been creating beautiful peaceful content. Don't forget to sing and dance while you are at it!
Clownvis Presley is also providing online entertainment in upcoming broadcasts online
Enjoy a free concert
More live concert links
20) Catch a broadway show
Multiple Broadway, orchestra, operas, and high school theatre companies are continuing their shows, only doing them online for others to enjoy. It's a great time to take in some free culture.
More concerts and performances here
Our therapists at Healing Reflections Therapy wish to extend our care and concern to our community during this time of crisis. We will continue to provide services during the Covid-19 Pandemic, but with alterations to services beginning Wednesday March 18, 2020. We will be offering services via telehealth phone or video conferencing. We encourage you to check with your insurance company to ensure telehealth is covered. During this time, cancellation fees will also be waived due to health concerns in an effort to ensure our clients are making the best decisions for their health, their families health, and the safety of the community.
Check out this Resource from the National Childhood Center for Traumatic Stress for a guide for caring for your family during this time.
Follow us for tips on self-care during this pandemic.
Over the past several years I have been collaborating with my colleagues from the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan: Global Partners for Peace (www.npeiv.org) on how to educate professionals and the community on utilizing pest practices of Trauma-Informed Care. We have been speaking at national conferences like the International Summit on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma (IVAT) in San Diego, CA and Honolulu, HI.
As part of our effort, my Co-Chairs, researcher Dr. Karen Rich, and author Susan Omilian, and I guest edited a special double issue on Trauma-Informed Care for the Journal of Aggression Maltreatment and Trauma. After a long process, the issues went into print this past April and May. We received submissions from countries across the globe and across multiple disciplines including schools, medical settings, law enforcement, and mental health addressing populations such as rape survivors, urban communities, eating disordered populations, and hip-hop dance interventions. Many new advances in trauma-informed care involve combining traditional approaches like policing or medical practice with embedded social workers or medical family therapists. You can read more here for access to the introductions to each special issue:
A Trauma Informed Call to Action: Culturally-Informed, Multidisciplinary Theoretical and Applied Approaches to Prevention and Healing, published in Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, Volume 28 Issue 4, is now available for you to access via tandfonline.com.
A Trauma-Informed Call to Action: Culturally Informed, Multi-Disciplinary Theoretical, and Applied Approaches to Prevention and Healing, Part II,
This year at IVATs Trauma conference, we had the privilege of sharing our research along with our co-presenter and new NPEIV co-chair Diana Barnes-Fox. I also co-presented on a Keynote Panel with renowned co-author of the famous ACES study, Dr. Vincent Felitti, along with Child Welfare Advocate Joyce Thomas and moderator Dr. Karen Rich. It is a privilege to work with people so committed to public health, healing wounds, and trauma prevention.
I encourage you to join NPEIV at www.NPEIV.org or attend one of the IVAT summits at www.IVATcenters.org if you are interested in violence prevention. At the summit this year some of the survivors of the Parkland shooting held a musical performance, Hawaiian dancers gave an amazing performance at the opening plenary, and famous actor, Vet, Dancing with the Stars performer, author, and trauma survivor JR Martinez served as a Keynote speaker. You will not be disappointed by attending.
Are you seeking group therapy services for Sexual Assault/Abuse in St. Louis? Here are some resources at the YWCA for 2019
As many sexual trauma survivors are feeling re-victimized by the political climate, the justice department suddenly made changes the definitions of sexual assault, significantly narrowing it, limiting the ability for victims to receive justice, and reducing the safety of our community. Read more here in a statement from the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence.
This year has been a big couple years for sexual assault in the headlines: Bill Cosby convicted, Taylor Swift and her sexual assault case, #MeToo, Presidential scandals, Brett Kavanaugh and the supreme court seat, rape kit testing laws being passed, Betsy Devos in the Education Department making changes to Title IX in favor of rights for the accused. As we get further into opening people's eyes to the prevalence of the problem, more and more people are wanting to look away, to decry this as a politically motivated issue, and a growing concern about the status of men, to fear for the men, men saying they are afraid to be alone with women, others saying that the Metoo movement has caused REAL victims to no longer be taken seriously. I have heard that frats of businesses that traditionally supported sexual assault related causes are now shying away, distancing themselves from something they now feel attacked by.
Despite the discomfort that this raises, more and more people have learned of their loved one's trauma histories...secrets long buried are now revealed. People have a greater understanding of the people they are with than ever before, in some cases bringing them closer, other times pulling them apart due to lack of support. However, despite all the talk about sexual assault, there is still so much that people do not understand, most often having to do with consent and the justice system. any people still believe the myth that most rapes are committed by strangers, that there is evidence, that there are injuries, that the case is investigated by police, that rape cases make it to trial, that rapists will be convicted, that most rape accusations are false, that victims have clear memories of what happened, that REAL victims report the crime immediately. No. Just No. These myths are simultaneously exhausting and hurtful.
Tonight I heard a great program on NPR's REVEAL that addressed many of these myths through great in-depth reporting. I recommend giving this two part program by Reporters: Mark Greenblatt and Mark Fahey of Newsy and Bernice Yeung of ProPublica a listen.
While we are on the subject of consent, check out this amazing third grade level explanation of consent that could make the world a better place if everyone had this in school.
Several of the trauma and sexual violence conferences I have attended this year have brought up the MeToo movement and where we are headed next. With Google execs walking out over sexual harassment policies protecting the accused and forcing victims into arbitration, we are seeing one angle that needs to be addressed. Along with this there needs to be more attention paid to Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and how they too serve to protect the perpetrators, not the victims. Indeed, there were multiple cases that came to light this year with high profile politicians, media giants, and actors and producers whose abuses were allowed to continue due in part to NDAs. Not only do NDAs use secrecy that protects perpetrators, but this silence is also particularly a malignant cancer for victims. Trauma therapists have long known that a primary factor in healing is the ability to tell one's story and receive support for it. NDAs deny this to victims.
On other fronts, groups like Equal Means Equal have been working on ratifying the Equal Rights Amendments to get equality for women and men formally recognized in the constitution...a job started in the 1970's. With recognition of the ERA, it would strengthen the ability for prosecute sexual assault related cases. With more places like Missouri enacting strict legislation about handling and testing of rape kits, there are bound to be more changes in the justice system ahead.
I was recently interviewed about my work as a Sexual Trauma Therapist on Angela Skurtu's AboutSex podcast. Angela is a Marriage and Family Therapist in the St. Louis are who recently published a book on Infidelity. She and her husband Josh have a podcast about sexual related topics. Tune in to hear my recent January interview about sexual trauma.
While attending a recent training with the COCAN network in St. Louis, I was reminded of a few sexual Ground Rules that are used in group treatment for Children with Problematic Sexual Behavior. Given the current political climate and wave of people reporting their prior sexual trauma experiences, it seems that a reminder of basic rules may be a good starting point for boundary discussions with adults about non-consensual sexual behavior as well. These might be some basic rules to follow for appropriate sexual behavior when you do not have enthusiastic consent with another adult. If you violate one of these rules with a co-worker or someone who is not your consenting partner, you may be at risk of inflicting trauma on someone else.
1) It is not OK to touch other people's Private parts
2) It is not OK to show your private parts to others
3) It is not OK to look at other people's private parts
4) It is not OK to use sexual language or make other people uncomfortable with your sexual behavior
5) It is OK to touch your own private parts as long as it is in private and doesn't take too much time.
It has been almost a month since #MeToo flooded social media. Since then, almost a daily parade of new sexual harassment, abuse, or assault allegations are being brought to light about accused perpetrators like Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Charlie Sheen, Louis C.K., Ed Westwick, Roy Moore, and Kevin Spacey. The responses by the accused have varied from silence, to deflection, to admission, to outright denial.
Some statements have puzzled people, wondering how could they not know what they were doing was wrong or would upset someone else? Sadly, this relates to a concept frequently found in my therapy practice, in which many victims are astounded when they realize that their rapist doesn't know he is a rapist. After the assault the perpetrator may act casual, inviting them for breakfast, acting affectionate, kiss them, or invite them on another date. They behave as though what had occurred was completely consensual despite the fact that moments or hours before they were holding the victim down, whispering threats in the victim's ear, ignoring the victim's cries of pain or profound lack of interest or engagement, or ignored the fact the victim was intoxicated, passed out, or vomiting and while they pursued sex.
Sometimes the victim will run into the perpetrator months or years later and be astounded at how "normal" they act. They may approach them like friendly, long lost friends seeking to engage in polite conversation. They may reach out to the victim over social media with casual "hellos" and "how have you beens?" The victims may react in paralysis, fear, or rage and are additionally astounded when they see the look of confusion reflected in their perpetrator's face.
The victim/survivor comes into my office begging the question: Is it possible that my rapist does not know he raped me? Sadly, in some instances, the answer may be yes. For those that lack empathy, awareness of others boundaries or feelings may not exist. The default is: if this benefits me, my actions are ok. Lack of empathy can be the bi-product of someone in a status of power or privilege, "Just boys being boys," "locker room talk," or "old school." For other sexual violence perpetrators, they may have a sense, if not clearly know what they did was wrong, but use elements of denial, minimization, deflecting blame, or manipulation to escape any form of personal accountability to seep into their conscious awareness.
Is it possible that some of these celebrities really did not know that what they were doing was wrong? Well, since they kept the secret and did not exhibit those behaviors in public, then probably on some level they did know. I would argue that they probably were in a position that did not serve them well to think it was wrong. "He/she really wants this," "They deserve this," "I deserve this," "They like how it feels," "Everybody does it" are all arguments used to justify sexual violence. Think of it this way: if you were about to step on an ant and crush it, you would probably tell yourself that have good reason to do so, that it won't matter, that they cannot feel anything, that you are really being helpful...but you can do this because essentially you see the ant as significantly less powerful and less important than yourself. At least if you think about killing a shark you may still justify the kill, but you will still probably worry about the consequences to yourself because the shark is inherently more powerful. Power, control, status, privilege, and lack of empathy play important roles in supporting rape culture. When way are so inundated in rape culture, like a lobster in pot slowly brought to a boil, we may not even realize we are in danger of becoming the next meal because the environment around us was already so unhealthy in the first place.
Megan Garza, MA, LMFT is a certified Specialist in Treating Trauma at a Supervisory level and is Licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She specializes in work with sexual abuse survivors.