PAVE podcast episode 008; Polygamous Cult, Child brides, and raising awareness for early and forced marriage with Kerry Gibson

Kerry Gibson is the president of EcoCentury Technologies and planet 5050 champion to UN women. With support from UNWomen, politcal leaders and activists she raised awareness for early and forced marriage  globally and in North America via the event: Not yet for the dress.

To listen to the podcast you can click the player button above or if you want to listen to the Itunes store please visit: https://itunes.apple.com/nl/podcast/pave-professionals-against-violence-podcast/id1203285774?mt=2&i=1000400774077

TOPICS DISCUSSED AND ORGANISATIONS/EVENTS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

1:20 how Kerry became involved with UN women

3:00 getting the reward title of 50/50 champion

5:29 childbrides an north America issue

6:40 polygamous cult bountifall

7:50 rasing awareness early forced marriage via the event not yet for the dress

20:28 How a curious message Kerry received resulted in Wellington Chibebe freeing a woman in a labour camp

28:00 how the mindset of her granddad inspires her to this day, the cause of her believe in gender equality

39:00 The impact of Dolly Parton’s quote: The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

 

MORE ABOUT KERRY GIBSON and NOT YET FOR THE DRESS

Kerry Gibson

https://twitter.com/kerryandlace y

www.ecocentury.ca

 

Not Yet for the Dress 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1866892113529209/?ti=cl

 

MORE ABOUT PAVE

https://www.instagram.com/aliannelooijenga

 

SPONSORS

If you want to be a guest on the PAVE podcast, a volunteer working for PAVE, if you are interested in becoming a PAVE sponsor, or want to with us in an other way, email me to see how we can work together to end the violence against women and children.

email: alianne@aliannelooijenga.com

 

Feminism, Gender Equality, Interview, PAVE Podcast

How I survived one of my most darkest moments in life (and it was not being raped)

(I wrote this blog a few years ago for lifesurfer.net)

A few nights ago I remembered one of the darkest and difficult moments I ever faced…

It is not the moment I was raped, nor the loneliness of feeling scared and vulnerable. Not the days I was almost killed. Not the moments that the prosecutor decided not to give punishment to my ex-partner, and not the moment when they didn’t prosecute my uncle of sexual abuse. Not the night I discovered that my ex-partner had the right to let me be put in jail for protecting my children and not giving them to him for visits for as long he didn’t seek hel

No, one of my darkest moments was the moment I was sitting in front of the judge.

At the time, I was thriving as a university student and my children and I hadn’t heard from my ex-partner in years. This I considered as a good thing because of the damage he had done and because the child protection services opinion was that it was best for him to stay away.
A part of my study program consisted of spending five months abroad. To travel with Dutch children you need the permission of either the biological father of the children or a judge.

I made use of a contact person to ask the permission of the biological father of the children to go abroad for five months. Of course, he declined. I suspected he would, although he never asked after the children to see how they were doing although he couldn’t see them.
I suspected that because of me asking, he would feel in charge, he would feel in control. After he declined, I went to court to ask the judge for permission, and in the same courtroom, he cried out that he missed the children, that it was all my fault he didn’t see them, I was a liar, etc.

Before entering the courtroom my lawyer turned to me, completely pale. Oh no, she cried… not this judge. And, when finding out who was to be the spokeswoman of the child protection services, I saw devastation in her eyes. I was calm and thought that with enough reason it would become completely clear that we needed to go to the USA to complete my study program and that a biological father who abused his children, never even once inquired after the children, and the social services who thought it was best for us that he would leave the children and me alone, would make her mind up pretty quickly.

What followed left me dumbfounded. My lawyer started shaking after the judge chewed me and her out and the judge did not let me speak, was downright nasty to me, and then threatened me that if my ex-partner didn’t see my children, they would have to live with him, even though his story wasn’t met with evidence and often he made comments that a judge who was listening would have heard that it was all about controlling ME and had nothing to do with love for the children. I did not know that a judge could and had permission to behave this way.

After a while, I started trembling. I left the courtroom devastated and went into depression for a few months. I felt betrayed and vulnerable and somewhat a victim after being a victim because the government had failed to protect me… again

That year I learned quite a lot. I learned to gain mastery over my feelings. I had seen the lowest point, and one of my biggest fears had come true. I only could go up from there. I decided that whatever happened, nobody could own my thoughts. I was the master of my feelings and I would never give someone the power over my feelings and let me feel miserable again. Yes, they could decide pretty nasty things for me, but how I would react to that, how it would made me feel, and the decisions I would make because of that… those were surely and alone my responsibility. I knew that moments would pass, and the decisions I would make in each and every moment would shape my destiny.

Months later, I returned to the courtroom. I walked in and recognized the judge of whom I was previously so fearful. I looked up to the heaven and said; “of course”, and winked towards the ceiling (I really did!). I knew it was my test to see how I would react to seeing her again. I felt powerful and I believe God gave me strength and this combined with my gained strengths.

The judge still wasn’t very fond of me. But it didn’t matter to me anymore. I smiled, answered her questions, and even gave her a tiny taste of her own medicine and confronted her with something she’d said.

I wasn’t driven by fear because I was driven by the knowledge that regardless of what happened, I would survive and I would make sure that my children and I were safe. I would see the big picture and realize that one moment did not define the millions of other moments I would still live. Never ever would I give the power to control my happiness and my future to anyone else again and certainly not some mystical creature who did not know who I was or what I stood for. I would no longer give power to the decisions of others; instead, I would focus on what I can control, which is…. myself.

 

Abuse, Family, Mindset, Speaking, UN women, Women's rights

Episode 007: I am that girl, Embracing your authentic self, Shifting girl culture with Olivia Crescenzi

Olivia Crescenzi is a student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, about to graduate with a B.Sc in Microbiology and Immunology. Science aside, her greatest passions lies in creating safe spaces for girls and women to embrace and love their true, authentic selves. She hopes to dedicate her life to understanding the human experience, and empowering young girls to stand up and find the power of their voice. Olivia is also a senior intern at I AM THAT GIRL and has been involved with the organization for over two years.

I AM THAT GIRL is an organization helping girls to transform self-doubt in to self-love by providing a safe space to connect and have honest conversations about things that matter. Every day, girls are bombarded with messages that attack what she is NOT and they work every day to help her love who SHE IS; to see that in herself and inspire that in others. This way they are shifting girl culture.

Raising the standards for how girls treat themselves, each other, and the world. By building a community for girls to be seen, be heard, and belong, I am that girl is giving them something bigger than themselves to stand for and creating a healthier, more powerful world.

For listeners with an Apple product: https://itunes.apple.com/nl/podcast/pave-professionals-against-violence-podcast/id1203285774?mt=2&i=1000384639381 is the way to go.

TOPICS DISCUSSED AND ORGANISATIONS/EVENTS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

2:00 How Olivia’s positive upbringing influenced her to find her voice
6:45 I am that girl foundation
7:58 Transforming the epidemic of Self Doubt into an epidemic of Self Love
15:00 unlocking meaningful conversations
17:00 the importance for girls to find themselves and to reckognise how powerful they are
18:41 How Cheryl Strayed and Brené Brown inspired Olivia in her work

MORE ABOUT OLIVIA CRESCENZI and I AM THAT GIRL

https://www.twitter.com/iam thatgirl
https://www.instagram.com/iamthatgirl
https://www.instagram.com/oliviacrescenzi

MORE ABOUT PAVE

https://www.instagram.com/aliannelooijenga

SPONSORS

If you want to be a guest on the PAVE podcast, a volunteer working for PAVE, if you are interested in becoming a PAVE sponsor, or want to with us in an other way, email me to see how we can work together to end the violence against women and children.

email: alianne@aliannelooijenga.com

Activism, Feminism, Gender Equality, Mindset, PAVE Podcast

Abuse and the common sense of the family court system

I wrote some of my (more personal) blogs for the website lifesurfer.net in 2015/2016. This is one of these blogs. The organisations mentioned in this blog are no longer interfering with my family and I only have professional contact with them for when they ask me for advice regarding domestic violence.

The common sense of the family court system

Many abused women have faced injustice, heartbreak and fear when dealing with the family court system.

This article is addressing this international problem, but will mention Dutch organisations I have been involved with.

Dutch institutions and organisations and their abbreviations:

RVDK = raad van de kinderbescherming best translated as The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service which is set up to promote the welfare of children and families involved in family court.

AMK = The Advice and Reporting Centre was until the end of 2014 a Dutch organization that registered reports of suspected child abuse, gave advice and, and if necessary, took action to prevent further harm.

Jeugdzorg = Youth Care Agency is a Dutch care institution for youth with both voluntary and mandatory care assistance and guidance

Common sense

When I was 14 I started a relationship with my ex-partner, who was 21 at the time. The years that followed were characterized by emotional abuse, rape and financial abuse. During this time I felt as though my life was completely in his hands, as he made every decision. When I tried to escape, I found out I was pregnant, which was a complete surprise – a miracle, given my chronic disease. I decided to stay with him because I believed he would change for our children – I was having twins – and would seek help for his violent behavior, as he had promised me he would.

Because of the emotional abuse I suffered, my self-confidence was very low. I couldn’t imagine taking care of children by myself, and I didn’t want my children growing up in a broken home without a father. It turned out that this was wishful thinking, as during my pregnancy I was still abused, badly enough that my twins were born prematurely. Eventually we fled his house.

My stress increased every time I stood up to my ex-partner to protect my children from his abuse and after the social service wanted to receive child support for my children so they could withhold it from my allowance. Something for which I had never asked my ex-partner, by agreement.

Angry because he felt he was losing his power over me and because the social service wanted money from him, he wanted value for his money and threatened to call Youth Care and take my children from me.

Since then I have dealt with several youth care organisations and  RVDK ( Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) employees.

Talking about child abuse and partner violence is taboo

What I noticed about these employees is that they did not dare approach the subject of child abuse. I don’t know if that’s because they don’t have enough funded scientific knowledge, are afraid of the extra work or just have a blind spot for this subject; regardless, the results are the same. In the past, people used to cite PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) as a reason to let children visit their father, nowadays employees and the media directly address a divorce battle.

It is overlooked that different motives exist when it comes to violence between partners and a messy divorce, with each being a completely different subject is not realized and therefore disregarded.  An extreme example of this was when I made a statement to the police about child abuse and partner violence. It is a standard procedure for the police to alert the AMK (advice and child abuse reporting centre) when someone files for child abuse. When I was sitting at the desk of an AMK employee our report was literally pushed aside.

None of the employees of the RVDK, youth care or the AMK ever asked me why I hadn’t completely committed to the visitation rights but instead chose a less intense form of contact. None of the employees to whom I have spoken over the years has had specialised knowledge of the field of child abuse and partner violence. Everyone I have spoken to has acted out of dogmatic principles within Youth Care – that every child not only has the right to two biological parents but also that the absence of a parent always threatens the child’s psychological and emotional development.

An employee at the youth centre we had to visit had such a romantic view about the “always apparent and unbreakable bond between child and biological parent” that he approved of a case in which a child was forced to visit a parent in prison. This parent had tried to kill the child and had actually killed the child’s mother and little brother in front of the child’s eyes.

Acting out of gut feelings

None of the employees I talked to acted out of well-funded scientific substantiation, knowledge or research. Rather, they acted out of dogmatic principles like they exist within youth care, the AMK and the RVDK. These agencies suffer from tunnel vision; they assume that it is always bad for the development of a child if he or she has no contact with the biological father.

Of course, a bond between a father and an child is an important factor that should be considered when determining visitation rights but there already must be a bond and such a bond between child and father should have been developed long before the divorce (Source: Stichting Zijweg (2008) Uit het veld geslagen. Knelpunten na partnergeweld). This was, and isn’t, the case with my children. My ex left the house where we more or less lived in together when the children just became one year old when he abused me severely.

Earlier in the relationship he had been home only during the weekends because of his work, but after the children were born he was almost never at home even then. If he was home he didn’t interfere with the children at all. He never took care of them and when I left him and he forced his way into my house and a few times randomly showed up and demanded to take the kids (a request I initially didn’t dare refuse out of fear of him) he would bring the kids after an hour to my mother’s house because he didn’t know what to do with them. The children really met him for the first time when they were three-and-a-half years old. At that point, they didn’t have any memories of him. Thankfully, because it meant they didn’t remember the abuse.

Common sense

What I’ve missed in my contacts with Youth Care, the council and the court is the use of common sense. According to the prevailing dogma within Youth Care and the RvdK, contact with the father is more important than investigating whether the child’s physical and mental well being will benefit from contact with an abuser. Whether contact with this biological parent is in the child’s best interest. The risks of child abuse are greatly underestimated. Youth Care and the RvdK act as though once a divorce is agreed upon, the children and mother are no longer in danger because no family situation exists anymore.

However, it is generally known that violence often continues after a relationship ends. For example, the father uses the children as pawns, engages in emotional and physical abuse, maintains control over the mother via the children, files frivolous lawsuits, does not fully pay alimony or pays it late, blames the victim or threatens the mother. None of this is taken into account, a situation that results in the continued abuse of children and mothers by ex-partners.

A deal is sought without taking history into account and without adequately examining the statements and behavior of the father during his conversations with care workers. The children are delivered to him like packages – without consideration for how safe the situation actually is and under the motto that they never can be sure who speaks the truth nothing is done with the history of abuse and the earlier child abuse.It is literally pushed aside.Nobody asks about it. Nobody asks what the father’s plans are regarding parenting techniques when he yells in court that he wants to be in touch with his children, but then doesn’t show any initiative or attempt to contact them. The only thing that matters and what contains the value is the fact that he partially created the children and the blind dogma says that contact with a parent is always good for a child.

PAS is applied but disguised

No consideration of safety risks is made because one of the dogmas of Youth Care is that a child is harmed when he or she isn’t in contact with the biological father. Youth Care still regularly refers to the principles of parental alienation, which is caused by false information to the child by the custodial parent. This is despite the fact that PAS has been refuted by well-funded scientific research. The myth is still used in practice, and mothers who don’t fully agree to contact with the father during the intake of Youth Care are immediately labeled liars who are acting out of grudges and resentment stemming from the divorce.

Coercion and threats cause damage

In my contact with Youth Care and the RvdK, I’ve encountered significant coercion, in particular by two employees of Youth Care, the employees of the centre, the court and my ex. I had to cooperate and had to do what they wanted otherwise, the children would be removed from my home, the children and I would be placed under supervision by a guardian, the children would have to live with their father, I would have to pay penalties or I would even be held hostage. The OTS (under the supervision of Youth Care by means of a family guardian) and the penalties are actually imposed. My ex is able to demand 15.000 euro at any moment now and make our lives miserable – a situation hanging above our heads like the Sword of Damocles. It’s a powerful weapon of which he reminds me regularly and, just like in the relationship, when money was the weapon, it apparently gives him pleasure and a sense of power.

I didn’t feel understood by any of the employees. I didn’t feel as though they maintained essential knowledge of child abuse or partner violence or that they considered children in their decision-making process. Today, my children and I are still working through the damage that has been inflicted upon us by the visitation rights that were established when they were three-and-a-half to four years old and the events in the youth care centre when they were seven. The pressure under which I found myself triggered symptoms of PTSS. Together, we have had some rough years.

Common sense

Back to common sense. Since when is the right of the father (especially a father who is only a father in the biological sense, having begotten the children) more important than the right of the child to grow up in a safe environment? When are facts not considered and common sense not used to determine what really happened any more? Since when are no conversations had with children and their mothers about why they are scared? Why aren’t fears investigated? Why, when the mother doesn’t let her children go to an abuser, is she threatened with fines and the loss of her authority, with being forced to let her children live with a parent they don’t know and with whom their safety can’t be guaranteed? Where is the common sense that says we must investigate what’s really going on before we coerce contact with all the instruments of power we have?

The child as a percentage in statistics

When I asked a male employee in the youth care centre in Leeuwarden how the centre was going to ensure that my children would be safe emotionally and physically with my ex-partner, the employee just shrugged and said, “We can’t rule out the possibility of something happening with them if they’re with him”. I reminded him that one can’t gamble with the lives and welfare of children. Their emotional and physical well being isn’t something that can be put at stake so that the rights of the begetter can be maintained or from a dogmatic principle nor can one put blindfolds on and maintain a tunnel vision, saying that contact with the father is always in the best interest of the child. After all research shows that at least one child per week dies by child abuse, and with the attitude of Youth Care, that isn’t surprising.

Living in uncertainty

I know that this week when the family guardian wishes us a nice Christmas and a happy New Year, she ends her working day and goes home while we stay behind living in uncertainty and concern about what Youth Care is planning now that my children are doing a lot better upon the total absence of their biological father and family guardians.

This is because I have done everything in my power, despite the destructive influence that Youth Care has had on my children, to give them confidence and the sense that they are safe. I am the one that sought adequate professional help for them even though their biological father and employees of youth care frustrated my attempts to do so.

Now we must wait on what Youth Care is planning to do with my children. Even though their father has shown no interest in them and has made no initiative to contact them, the schools, or anyone else involved in their lives, Youth Care continues to believe that contact is possible and would be in the children’s best interest (False! as the children are doing much better now that they don’t have any contact with him and now that they are processing the trauma that the youth care centre caused them) . This is despite the fact that the children’s psychologist indicated that youth care should stop putting pressure on the children to have contact with their biological father, with whom they never bonded.

If Youth Care would forget its dogma’s, they would see that a partner abuser exhibits different parenting behaviour and maintains different motives than “normal” parents do. No term like PAS or divorce battle can change such parenting behavior. This can happen only when it is acknowledged that a divorce battle and a divorce following partner violence are completely different, non-comparable issues that ask for separate and different approaches.

This means more work for investigators, family guardians and employees of Youth Care, as well as more effort from judges. It means daring to enter a conversation with the victims of domestic violence and with the abuser himself, sincerely listening to children and, for every individual case investigating what the family needs with respect to rest, safety and stability. Having an open mind towards the family and considering every fact when making a decision. It means seeing the key players as individuals instead of placing them into the category of “a divorce battle” and not simply going along with the opinions of colleagues who have never seen the children. It means, as a family guardian, following one’s own observations and adhering to research.

 

More information about guest lectures and workshops:

For guest lectures or advice about complex issues regarding partner abuse, sexual abuse or child abuse and for which specialised knowledge is necessary, I’m available via alianne@aliannelooijenga.com. In your email, tell me about your organisation and what you would like me to do. I will contact you to discuss how I can be of help.

 

Collaboration and sponsorships:

I am open for collaboration and sponsorships. Just shoot me an email via alianne@aliannelooijenga.com so we can talk further.

Activism, Family, Mindset, Personal, Speaking

Episode 006: Monica Singh; Surviver of an Acid Attack, Speaker of UN women, Mahendra Singh Foundation

Monica Singh

Monica Singh was just 19 years old when a rejected admirer threw acid over her body. It took dozens of corrective surgeries and the life savings of Monica’s late father but Monica battled back to hit her goal: to study at Parson’s and become a fashion designer.

Not only that; but she is also involved with UN women and the founder of the Mahendra Singh Foundation – named after her late father which helps victims of physical and sexual abuse, acid attacks, rape and domestic violence in  rebuilding their confidence and strength on their journey to becoming survivors.  The foundation spreads awareness and mobilize community resources in providing counseling, training,medical-care, and career guidance to survivors in rebuilding their lives.

For listeners without an Apple product with the “podcast” app, please visit: https://soundcloud.com/user-476654029/episode-007-monica-singh-surviver-of-acid-attack-speaker-for-un-women-founder-of-msfoundation to listen to the episode.

For listeners with Apple product: https://itunes.apple.com/nl/podcast/pave-professionals-against/id1203285774?l=en is the way to go.

Topics discussed and organisations/events mentioned in this episode:

“So the question is coming; how do you want to pursue your life after that?

Because that is what life is about. Otherwise you could sit and lay on a bed and think about what has happened and why it happened, and you keep reevaluating your life. But you have this opportunity, and how long can revaluation go?”

  • 4:08 Monica’s story; how Monica moved on after the acid attack, going from survivor to thriver
  • 8:00 choosing brain over face
  • 9:40 Becoming a global youth champion and her new hope of becoming a good will ambassador.
  • 13:00 Face of resilience, UN Women
  • 16:00 New projects and the Mahendra Sing Foundation
  • 23:00 Stop selling Acid in the open market
  • 24:00 Repercussions for attackers, justice for survivors
  • 28:00 foolish men around the world, princesses and having a blessed life 😉
  • 30:00 Learning to move on after trauma, channelizing your experiences
  • 36:00 Monica’s love for movies

More about Monica Singh

Mahendra Singh Foundation twitter: https://twitter.com/MSF_joininghand
Mahendra Singh Foundation website http://mahendrasinghfoundation.org/

More about PAVE

Twitter.com/pave_podcast

Sponsors

If you want to be a guest on the PAVE podcast, a volunteer working for PAVE, if you are interested in becoming a PAVE sponsor, or want to collaborate with us in an other way, email me to see how we can work together to end the violence against women and children.

email: alianne@aliannelooijenga.com

Activism, Mindset, PAVE Podcast, UN women

17 ways to tame anxiety

anxiety tame

When you leave a violent relationship there are a lot of things you will have to face and deal with. Your life feels filled with uncertainty. And your uncertainty is feeding your worst enemy. It is called; anxiety. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger and boy, did you experience enough danger whether on a physical and/or emotional level.

But anxiety is not totally bad. A little bit of anxiety can actually be useful. It can help you to stay focused and can function as a driver to solve problems that are in front of you.

But when anxiety becomes a burden or even overwhelming, when it stops you from doing things that would actually be good for you and when it interferes with your relationships, it means your anxiety isn’t functional anymore.

So what can we do?

Reset the brain

First we want to “reset”the brain. To make the anxiety go from a wild beast into a tame little kitten.

Anxiety throws you off balance. But it is important that especially when that happens it is crucial to find your center again. Most of the time when we feel anxiety we start spinning out of control. We become crazy busy and desperately seek for some solution. But you can’t find a solution in the storm. To let your brain find a solution you have to step out of the situation, calm yourself and your brain down and find the solution in your peace.

I’ve wrote some things down that you can do to find peace during turmoil.

First of all I would like to start with an exercise from the book: “Retraining the brain” by dr. Frank Lawlis. I want to start with this exercise because I believe it is necessary to find out where your anxiety is coming from.

Write down the beliefs that are causing your anxiety. Look beneath the surface. Dig deep.  Now consider the following criteria (from dr. Frank Lawlis) to help you decide which beliefs are keepers and which need to be ditched.

1.) Is the belief absolutely true?

2.) Even if the belief might have some validity, does refusing to let it go best serve my spirit?

3.) Even if the belief might have some validity, does refusing to let it go best serve my emotional and psychical health?

4.) What possible payoff am I getting by holding on to this negative belief?

a.) Do I crave any form of attention – even negative attention?

b.) Does this belief give me an excuse not to succeed?

c.) Does focusing on this belief distract me from taking responsibility for my current situation?

5.) Can I name one way that I would feel better (psychically or emotionally) if I chose to let this belief go?

—–

I only want to add one thing at point 1, when you think a belief is true: How do you know that the belief is true?  What do you say to yourself to justify the belief to yourself? It is important to become aware of that.

Breathe the anxiety away.

It sounds so simple. But if you check in with yourself during the day you might notice that your breathing pattern contains a lot of shallow short breaths. If you notice such a thing, you have to stop yourself from whatever you are doing and take slow breaths for a few minutes. Breath in and count slowly to seven. Breath out and again count slowly to seven. There is nothing that is more important for you at that moment than to just breathe slowly to seven and to breathe out slowly to seven. You will feel instantly better.

Say no.

If you feel constantly overwhelmed by work or obligation it is time to stand up for yourself. It is okay to say no. Your mental and physical health is more important than most obligations.

Demand time for yourself.

A quote from Tony Robbins is: “if you don’t have ten minutes for yourself, you don’t have a life” or something to that extend. And it is true. So make sure that you have at least 30 minutes a day when you can check in with yourself and take care of you. After that you can take care of the whole world again.  So check out and relax…

Avoid blood sugar dips.

It is important to avoid blood sugar dips. When you forget to eat because of your busy schedule or binging netflix, you are allowing yourself to feel anxiety-like symptoms. This happens because your brain isn’t receiving enough glucose to function like it should. When you feel that your brain comes in overdrive to make sure that you eat something, making you crave for bad food. But the problem with a candybar or chips is that it will spin your bloodsugar to new heights which will spike up your insuline levels. End result: you will feel bad, tired, fatigued, because your bloodsugar will drop after that initial height. Causing you to… crave for unhealthy foods. So making sure you eat healthy food, will make you feel more energized, stabilizes your blood sugar and makes you less stressed.

Dance and sing.

I mentioned it before but hearing or playing music is very important. It doesn’t matter which music calms you down as long as you are choosing music that reduces your anxiety and nervous system arousal.

But you can also use music as a distraction tool, to keep your mind from worrying. Or ofcourse to dance on. Dancing and any other way to keep your body moving has the very pleasant benefit of reducing your anxiety levels :-))

Keep calm and celebrate.

Then two tips that are more obvious but are easily overlooked:

Don’t sweat he small stuff and celebrate the good in each day.

Keep a diary of things that went well, the beauty you have seen that day. Let go of your inner critic, let go of all the things you say to yourself about things that didn’t went well. Were they really that important?

Stop giving power away.

Find ways to take the power of worrying away. Me for example, can laugh about many of the things that happened in my life. I find the outrageousness in the situation, acknowledge it, and laugh about it.

For example:

last week (remember that I wrote this blog earlier for lifesurfer.net so this isn’t a current situation) I received an forwarded email from one of my uncles. It wasn’t send directly to me, but via a close familymember.

As you may remember from earlier posts; I haven’t heard from my family since I told them that I was being sexually abused as a child. Only to find out that all of them knew. Except for one nephew who did reply to my “coming outmail”, and after he said he would let it sink in, and reply after the judge would rule, I never heard from him either.

My uncle who contacted me via the close familymember didn’t mention anything about this ofcourse. No, he asked the close familymember to ask me if I could delete the word Hole in a previous blogpost.

He wrote something to this extend:

I have a very urgent request. I don’t know if you can do something with it but I’ll ask anyway. Now I started a business, people start searching for me and and my business by googling my name. When I googled my own name I was shocked to find the website of Alianne where you’ll find this http://lifesurfer.net/love-my-detour/

The search result has something to do with the combination of the words ‘hole’ and our site. On her site is a text about sexual abuse by an uncle.
I have no interest that this stays on the website the way that it is. I have nothing to do with this and I don’t want to be associated with this whatsoever.
It is a small effort for Alianne to remove the word “hole” so that I 
(note from me: ofcouse he meant: she) will no longer be visible in the search results.

When my clients make a connection (which of course there is not) it can have an adversely affect to my business because they can think that I’m that uncle. There aren’t so many Looijenga’s out there.

Do you want to send this request ASAP to Alianne?  You can also forward this mail. If you don’t want to do this, I will ask her directly. But because there is no contact anymore I prefer it by doing this through you.

——

At first I was very angry  (feel free to hear it the way Richard Gere was saying this in Pretty Woman :p, if you don’t remember: https://youtu.be/tELpCUzjel4?t=47s) and I cried a few tears. I even called that familymember to ask her what she was thinking by forwarding this request.

Angriness is a healthy reaction as long as you don’t hold on to it (borrowed this sentence from Emilie). So within half an hour I realized the absurdity, the audacity, the nerve and the madness to even think my uncle can ask this or can even demand in this situation. He lost the right to ask me anything when he knew I was being abused but did nothing about it (with all the consequences that had for me) and when I had the courage to tell my family about it he dropped me like a hot potato, just like the rest of my family. He doesn’t have any excuse for this behavior except for his own self-interest. Even if he was the only Looijenga in this country, even then it would show a gigantic narcissistic arrogance to have the audacity to ask me to do something for him 🙂

And I started to laugh. And that broke the anger and released a transforming energy that only anger, the comical and cosmical has.  It gave me the power to create a part for this blog and another blog that’s coming up soon. Just stay tuned.

To return to the subject: instead of letting anxiety get the hold of me, which could easily happen, and changing one word in an old blogpost so I wouldn’t be visible on page 3 of his googleresults, ignoring all the 400+ Looijenga’s out there and to never to use the word hole again, I laughed about it and reduced the impact to a story that until it vanishes will give enough chuckles and gasps in my motivational speeches. I took the power and thus the worry away.

Meditate.

Ofcourse you didn’t expect this one, did you ;P. Yes, meditation is very important to rewire your brain. That’s why I start with meditation in the morning (good intention) and end the day with meditation in the evening .To celebrate the wins that happened that day and to prepare for the new day. I put on some relaxing music, think of all the things I am grateful for, decide what I want to accomplish the next day and let it all go.

Meditation will restore your brain pattern to normal and will retrain your brain to deal with anxiety differently.

Practice, practice practise.

If you haven’t properly taken care of yourself for a long time it takes some time to reset your brain. No magic overnight here, babe. But if you practice you will eventually learn your brain that a new era has come. A time where she has to start acting differently.

Accept that you don’t have control anyway.

This is probably the most difficult one. Accepting that life and life’s experiences are not in your control. The knowing that what happens a moment from now, is unknown.

Conclusion:

There are a lot of things you can do to calm down your anxiety, these are just a few that helped me. Do you have tips for other survivors about how to tame that inner beast?

Family by blood, Mindset, Personal, Speaking

Pave podcast episode 005; Sabin Muzaffar; Women’s economic empowerment, Empower Women- a UN entity, Patriarchal societies

sabin muzaffar

 

 

Sabin Muzaffar is the Executive Editor & Founder of Ananke (www.anankemag.com), a digital platform empowering women through advocacy, awareness and education. Sabin has two decades of experience in traditional and new media – starting her professional journey in Karachi, Pakistan. She has worked for and contributed to numerous local & international publications including daily The News International, SPIDER, SHE, Dawn, Gulf News, Khaleej Times, ITP publication, BBVA OPENMIND, International Women’s Initiative and many more.

A collaborator and speaker at many events, Sabin was selected as UN Women’s Empower Global Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment 2915-2016 and is currently an Empower Women Mentor and partner; in addition to being a Vision Mentor at World Pulse.

In 2014, acknowledging the gaping void in the digital realm in terms of documenting women’s achievements and highlighting HERstories, Sabin founded Ananke magazine. The platform not only covers in-depth articles on topics like women’s health, education, STEM, Law, climate change with a gender perspective; it showcases women as role models for young aspiring women. In 2016, Ananke launched its digital internship program for girls that enables anyone to apply from anywhere in the world. Over 30 girls from countries including Pakistan, Australia, the UAE, US, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Turkey have been mentored over the past 11 months.

Sabin‘s vision is provide a platform for dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment and how women can empower other women through collaboration.

For listeners without an Apple product with the “podcast” app, please visit: https://soundcloud.com/user-476654029/episode-005-sabin-muzaffar-unwomen-gender-equality-ananke-magazine-empowering-women to listen to the episode.

For listeners with an Apple product: https://itunes.apple.com/nl/podcast/pave-professionals-against/id1203285774?l=en is the way to go.

Topics discussed and organisations/events mentioned in this episode:

  • Ananke magazine – an interactive platform, that empowers women through education and awareness
  • Empower women – a UN entity
  • World Pulse
  • Women’s economic empowerment
  • How Ananke is perceived by the male population in Dubai and UAE’s vision about gender equality, inclusion and diversity.
  • Patriarchal societies.
  • The importance of collaboration

More about Sabin Muzaffar

Sabin’s twitter: https://twitter.com/critoe
Ananke’s twitter: https://twitter.com/anankemag

More about PAVE

Twitter.com/pave_podcast

Sponsors

If you want to be a guest on the PAVE podcast, a volunteer working for PAVE, if you are interested in becoming a PAVE sponsor, or want to collaborate with us in an other way, email me to see how we can work together to end the violence against women and children.

email: alianne@aliannelooijenga.co

Activism, Feminism, Gender Equality, Patriarchy, PAVE Podcast, UN women, Women's rights

Thank you for letting me experience love, 2017!

love

2017 was the best year of my life so far. Honest. I have never been this happy or have ever felt this loved.

I fell in love with my partner and the best thing was he loves me right back.  With him came children, family and friends I now love so dearly. 2017 brought me other friends as well (<3). Several dreams came true. We had so much fun and we shared so many precious moments together, with our children and our friends and family. My children learned what it means to have a father and to experience all kinds of “firsts” with him that boys just don’t do with their moms.

But we had our portion of sorrows, mistreatment and sadness as well. Next to that we had to deal with illness and external issues. But to find someone you can share your dreams with, with whom you can share your heart, your life. Who wakes up next to you, who holds you, cares for you, treats you with kindness, respect, loves your children full heartedley..

Yes 2017, I am grateful and I will never forget you. But I am looking forward to 2018, to built further on the foundation we created in 2017.

Thanks for everything.

x Alianne

Love, Personal, Speaking