Category Archives: Equality

The Challenges of being a Male Advocate

I have been a sexual assault victim advocate for 9 years and a proud supporter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Helping people cultivate change is very important to me. However, being a male advocate in this field is very challenging. Therefore, I wanted to write this blog to help current and future male advocates. Please feel free to share this information.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month training – 2013

Congratulations on your decision to become a volunteer advocate. Advocacy is an instrument for change. As a volunteer, you will help facilitate the ambivalent and recovery phases of victims (survivors) of sexual assault.

Your commitment is a representation of the (Your Agency Name) and supporting agencies. Meaning, you are the face of multiple agencies that share one common goal: serve survivors of sexual assault without allowing any of your biases to interfere.

Whenever I am facilitating training, I always ask this question: “What is the number one thing you notice about me?” [Which is the best answer]

  1. You are committed to helping people.
  2. You’re a male advocate.
  3. You are just going through the motions and do not really care about this topic. (check-the-block mentality)
  4. You facilitate this training way too much.

If you answered 2, you are correct. Although answer 1 is valid, it is not a major factor. Wanting to help people and actually doing it are not always the same thing. I usually get a few laughs and an occasional shoulder shrug. “Why does that even matter?” With the way society is today—thanks to television shows, movies, magazines, music videos, advertisements, and social media—it matters a lot.

Being a male advocate in a female-dominated field can be incredibly challenging and exhausting if you are not prepared. Preparation is the key. Here are some examples of the stereotypes you might be up against:

  • “Wait—why are you here? You’re a male…”
  • “You’re an advocate? Why?”
  • “I’m sorry but—she is not going to want to see you because you’re a guy.”
  • “I appreciate you doing what you do. However, we normally recommend that a woman responds to these types of events. I’m sure you understand, right?”
  • “Are you trained for this?”
  • “Wait—you volunteered to be an advocate? But, you’re a guy!”

These are just a small sample of the obstacles you can face as an advocate. They might sound like the worst-case scenarios because they are. The reason why you need to consider the worst-case scenarios is because you need to prepare yourself to hear things that you’re not expecting. Keep in mind, these are comments that you might hear before you even see the survivor. When you’re talking to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or hospital staff, you are in a safe environment. Meaning, your body language and emotional reactions to these comments should not impact the survivor. However, once you receive permission to enter the survivor’s room—there is no room for you to demonstrate how uncomfortable you are with these types of comments.

Not everything is about you. Leave your ego (h-ego) out in the waiting room.

The fact is, if you are not willing or prepared to take criticism——due to the fact you are a male—then this is not for you. That might sound very harsh but it is true. Allowing your pride and ego to get in your way does not serve survivors. If anything, it insults them. It is not always about you.

How do you get better at handling these types of situations? I highly recommend you incorporate Push Back scenarios into your training. This will help condition you to handle real-time resiliency.

What will using Push Back scenarios and exercises do for you as a male advocate?

  • It will condition you to handle circumstances that you are not expecting.
  • You will become a better advocate.
  • You will become a better facilitator and leader.
  • It will help you understand how other people feel about this topic, to include how they feel about male advocates.

Resources:

Ohio Men’s Action Network (OHMAN): https://ohman-ohio.org/

A Call to Men: http://www.acalltomen.org/

The Next Generation of Manhood (A Call to Men): https://youtu.be/GG9fefzuFWs

Recognize What You Love | An Attitude For Gratitude

The world would be a better place if we focused on things that we love, instead of what hate or dislike. That is why I highly recommend you develop an attitude for gratitude. Here are just a few things to consider:

  • I love people regardless of their gender.
  • I love people regardless of their age.
  • I love people regardless of the color of their skin.
  • I love people regardless of their sexual orientation.
  • I love people regardless of their political affiliation.
  • I love people regardless of their abilities and disabilities.
  • I love people regardless of their looks.
  • I love people that have a different opinion as me.
  • I love people for their uniqueness.
  • I love people for their originality.
  • I love people that challenge me and other people.
  • I love people that are obsessed with success.
  • I love people that are comfortable in their own skin.
  • I love people that value doing what’s right.
  • I love people that understand and practice selfless service.
  • I love people that choose not to conform to society.
  • I love people that support equality.
  • I love people that take ownership of the failures and success.
  • I love people that don’t settle for their comfort zones.
  • I love people that crave self-development and self-improvement.
  • I love people that understand when love is not always the answer.
  • I love people that recognize when something is not for them.
  • I love people that welcome the next chapter in their life.
  • I love people that are not afraid to take a stand.
  • I love people that challenge themselves.
  • I love people that can control their confirmation bias.
  • I love people that can identify their thinking traps.
  • I love people that own their happiness.
  • I love people that can fight off the comparison trap.
  • I love people.
Love, happiness, and positivity create winning streaks.

This list could go on and on because once you recognize what you love or what you’re grateful for, you will begin to notice more and more things. Love, happiness, and positivity create winning streaks. Set yourself up to win.

LGBT Pride Month – 2018

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (or LGBTQ) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan.

To read about the full story: https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month

Every year the LGBT community is faced with difficult questions and comments, such as:

  • “Why don’t we have a heterosexual Pride Month?”
  • “Why is this even a thing?”
  • “Why do I always have to see this stuff?”
  • “This is ruining social media and television.”
  • “Why do they have to remind me of this, every year?”
  • “These people are annoying…”

Although everyone has the right to ask questions and express their opinion — it is still important to think before you ask or comment. Information changes the situation. As discussed in the About – LGBT link, everything has a meaning. Plus, regardless of what people think or believe, everyone deserves something to celebrate and be happy about.

As a sexual assault victim advocate, a man, a father, a husband, a human, and someone that values basic human rights: supporting LGBT rights are extremely important to me. This community holds a very special place in my heart. For that reason, I am a proud member of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) logo

For more information about this great organization, visit: https://www.hrc.org/

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community uses the rainbow flag

(commonly known as the gay flag or pride flag), which has different colors to represent the diversity of the community. Here are a few examples:

At the end of the day, LGBT Pride Month is about the celebration of people loving other people. Even if you don’t believe in this, due to religious or personal beliefs, it doesn’t matter because everything can’t always be about you. There are 7 billion unique people on this planet and it would be a tragedy if we were all the same.

Seeing people happy or in love, regardless if they’re heterosexual or LGBT, should bring a smile to your face. That is what life is all about. No, it is not teaching children something bad. Judging, labeling, or even committing a hate crime because you disagree with someone’s sexual orientation is what’s teaching children bad things. I would rather my children grow up in an environment where everyone is happy in their own unique way, then have them grow up in an environment filled with hate or worse — the fear of them self-identifying as LGBT. To me, this world has no place for that. After all, it is 2018, not 1418.

Additional helpful links:

GLAAD: https://www.glaad.org/sites/default/files/GLAAD-Social-Share.jpg

Lambda Legal: https://www.lambdalegal.org/

The Advocate: https://www.advocate.com/

Don’t Apologize for Your Originality

Regardless if people disagree with your lifestyle, your hobbies, your likes, your dislikes, your character, and even if your personality — don’t you dare apologize for your originality. It doesn’t matter if you’re: a man, a woman, weird, popular, religious, an atheist, white, black, straight, LGBTQ, a hard worker, a lazy individual, short, or tall — you are unique.

Not a single human on this planet has the exact same thumbprint as you. They might be close but they’ll never be exactly like you.

That means you’re incredibly special. Yes, there will be days where you might question yourself and your purpose. You might have to make necessary changes and updates, depending on where you’re at in your life. However, those are usually just external things.

Stop letting the world stick a finger in your face and determine your value. You are a brilliant creation. This is your story and you need to be the only one that continues to write it.

The Real Version of You Doesn’t Require a Filter

With the popularity of social media platforms such as: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn–we are now seeing an epidemic of people using filters to hide their identity. Although fake profiles/accounts are a real issue, that is not the purpose of this blog.

Fake accounts – don’t believe everything you see.

This blog is about the real version of you. For some reason, both women and men feel like they have to create a fake version of themselves, just to satisfy the social media world. What happened? Are they unwritten laws and arbitrary (unachievable) standards that we choose to accept? I hate to be the one to break the news but–this is not healthy and definitely a contributing factor for depression.

Woman filter – Example

Sure, this woman is very attractive but you have to wonder, how many attempts and filters were used to create this finished product? Some additional questions to consider:

  1. What message does this send to other women that are focused on physical fitness? Some women are motivated and inspired, some feel worse about themselves. I love that my wife is serious about fitness [and very beautiful] but that does not define her.
  2. Does this create a false sense of reality? If you wore this outfit and worked out like her, you could look like this…
  3. What if she were more masculine? Would other women and men unfairly judge her based on masculine features? She’s still the same woman that someone loves.

Unfortunately, women are held to standards that are insulting at times and not fair. A woman doesn’t have to look perfect to be accepted by society. If a woman looks masculine or likes things that are labeled guy things–so what? She’s still a woman and is entitled to like whatever she wants. That’s called freedom.

Man filter – Example

Again, this is an attractive man but you have to wonder, how many attempts and filters were used to create this finished product? Some additional questions to consider:

  1. What message is this sending to other men? Are they required to be fit/slim in order to be considered attractive? I work my a** off in the gym and although I want to look fit, I do it mainly for my health. My health is my priority.
  2. Does this create a false sense of reality? If you pick up these tires, you too will look like this…
  3. What if he demonstrated effeminate characteristics? With the double standards put on men, he would probably be insulted, threatened, and labeled. Effeminate men are dehumanized due to the arbitrary standards that society created. Personally, I have some effeminate qualities but they do not define me. Why does it matter?

Just like women, men are held to standards that undermine their character based on made up standards. Things like the man card and man rules are the grade card regardless if men choose to accept those standards or not.

Bottom line: I am certainly not picking on people or calling anyone out. I’m also not targeting the woman and man I used for examples. These are good pictures and they should be proud of the results.

What I am trying to convey is that filters are ruining our society. They are causing us to forget about what’s important: our character. Using filters for certain pictures is important. I would be lying if I said I don’t ever do it. We just have to remember that we can’t use a filter to hide everything about ourselves. In fact, you shouldn’t want to do that because we’re all unique. The fact that you don’t look like Jessica or Paul is a good thing. You have value and your looks and character are an important piece of the puzzle.

2018 SAAPM 5k Color Run/Walk Event

Yesterday I had the honor of co-hosting our 3rd annual Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month (SAAPM) 5k Color Run/Walk Event at Rickenbacker (Columbus), Ohio. This was a joint operation that involved four branches of services.

Reference my post: SAAPM 2018 for additional information about Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month.

This event was designed to bring awareness to sexual assault survivors, sexual harassment, and prevention/bystander intervention. I want to personally thank the victim advocates, chain of command, volunteers, the participants (100+), and most importantly, my friend and mentor, Captain J. Green (121 ARW SARC).

Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)

Defintions:

  1. Sexual Assault
  2. Sexual Harassment
  3. Bystander Intervention
Definition provided by RAINN
Definition provided by Google Dictionary
Definition provided by RAINN

This was a significant event for me because it will be my last SAAPM event for the military. Reference my post: Preparing for Life After the Military

Preparing for the 5k registration

I can honestly say, the entire month was a huge success. The In Their Honor event on the 20th was truly unique, we had tons of participation for National Denim Day on the 25th. The culminating event was the 5k Color Run/Walk Event on the 27th of April.

In Their Honor event – 20 April 2018
In Their Honor event – 20 April 2018
National Denim Day – 25 April 2018
5k Color/Walk Run Event – 27 April 2018

Again, I want to thank everyone for this amazing journey and I am positive the 2019 events will be even better.

“We are the force behind the fight to achieve culture change.”

Note: The photo used for the cover is from the 2017 5k Color/Walk Run Event. The official photos have not been published, yet.

For my information about the author, reference my post: About the Author

Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month (SAAPM) – 2018

As a long-time Victim Advocate (VA) and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), I cannot begin to express how important this month is to the advocacy community. This is our opportunity to honor survivors and co-survivors of sexual assault, as well as victims of sexual harassment.

This field is extremely challenging due to the ongoing shift in our culture. But no matter what, we will not take our focus off the goal: eradicating sexual assault and sexual harassment. Yes, we realize this is an uphill battle. However, the obstacle is the path.

What are some obstacles?

  1. Misconceptions or lack of education in dealing with consent. No, does not mean yes. Consent is ongoing. A “yes” five minutes ago does not translate to a “yes,” now.
  2. Objectification of women and men, primarily in movies, music, and all social media platforms. (Sex sells…)
  3. Stereotypes, to include ones that jeopardize the welfare of the LGBTQI community.
Equality is incredibly important to me.

I will not lie, the fact that I’m a male Victim Advocate motivates me, daily. It motivates me to keep moving forward, every time I hear:

  • “But you’re a guy, why do you care?”
  • “Men don’t care about this issue.”
  • “All men are the same.”
  • “People will not take you serious.”
Picture taken in 2014

Although I respect people when they ask me these types of questions, I do remind them:

  • I care about people, regardless of their gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and beliefs. People are people and their story matters to me.
  • Men do in fact, care. So do women. People always have the capacity to love.
  • No, not all men are the same. There are some incredible men and women on this planet. We must not blame an entire gender, based on the negative actions of the bad ones. My mentors are both men and women.
  • “I don’t take you serious,” is an opinion, not your reality. The best way to demonstrate your authenticity is to show people. Talking about what you’re capable and willing to do, is not enough.

At the end of the day, the focus must always be on empowering survivors. The recovery process is a long road and they do not deserve to take that journey without the right resources. I hope you can participate in a SAAPM event. (Color run, In Their Honor, Denim Day, etc.)

SAAPM: https://www.nsvrc.org/blogs/saam/announcing-2018-sexual-assault-awareness-month-theme

Denim Day: http://denimdayinfo.org/about/