Celebrating a decade of advocacy work.

“…I saw your post about sexual assault awareness month. i’ve thought so many times about the speech you gave [in college] (i guess like 8 or 9 years ago now…) and I’ve wanted to go back and read it again. i was wondering if you have a blog online or something. You explained how you felt so eloquently. Thanks again for telling your story back then – it made an impact on me and I was very proud of you.”

“You created a remarkable healing opportunity on Saturday with your facilitating of the Healing Through Creative Arts workshop. I looked around the room to see the wide range of participants and appreciated how skillfully you affirmed our shared purpose of healing from sexual trauma.  When you stated it simply and clearly I felt you ground all of us in the courage of that common intention.  Then the tone you set of respect, generosity, loving kindness, honesty and nonjudgmental acceptance gave us all permission to write with honesty and vulnerability.   This tone combined with your thoughtfully sequenced guidelines and prompts created an afternoon filled with beautiful moments of support, appreciation and powerful writing.”

-Healing Arts Workshop Coordinator, Survivor Theater Workshop & Teacher tumblr_oir0pxQGPh1sz0omqo1_1280.jpg

This past week, I led a healing- arts writing workshop for survivors through the Survivor Theater Workshop @ the Cambridge Women Center.17309460_4460534826654_7108000988534932529_n.jpg

At my first American Group Psychotherapy conference in New York meeting new inspiring colleagues. March 2017. 13406756_4062022864104_6612211373539402086_n.jpg

With my mentor at MASOC’s annual conference in April 2016. I am grateful for her example and showing me the power of writing groups.

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“Stop Sexualizing Us.”

Today I met with my teenaged female client for our third to last session. We are wrapping up a project (Dear Me Campaign) we’ve been working on for the past several weeks. I was already tearing up because she wrote the most inspiring letter to her future self. The themes were: remembering how loved she is, the importance of being herself, recognizing her resiliency, and a declaration of her strength and power without a man. I nearly balled my eyes out-I am so proud of her and in awe of her wisdom and perspective at such a young age AND in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances.

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Just this week she returned to her middle school after almost two months at another school and hospitalizations. Bored in the library with her best friend, she decided to finally make the flyers about dress code that she’d been talking about for months. The poster is of an image of a girl’s body with marker writing: Stop censoring my body. 

Stop Sexualizing Us!

We want the freedom to wear what we want! Tank tops, shorts, etc. should be allowed! Stop sexualizing us women for what we wear. I will fight for my women! I don’t care if I get detention or not, I will stick up for our rights. And if you have a problem with that, then so be it!

She went on to tell me that when she showed her older sister, she gave her a high five and was proud of her. However, when she showed her mom (who is from Pakistan) she gave her a “mean look.” My client said she didn’t care and wasn’t going to let that stop her. We went on to talk about her plan of action and she mentioned she knows the counselor at the school is into feminism and perhaps could be an advisor to a club she might start.

I hope as I reflect on my last few sessions that I find the words to describe how much I’ve learned from her. I know that her Dear Me video WILL change lives and I am so grateful to have had the privilege to work with her these past 9 months. About a year ago she courageously sought support by creating a video about how bullying was making her feel suicidal. Now, she’s on mission to inspire others to accept themselves.

Dear Me #1-Letter to My Younger Self

I have so much to tell the younger me so I’m going to just start now and accept that this might end up in a dozen videos or blog posts until I get it all out. Where Do I Begin?

You are amazing and you don’t have the slightest clue. You have a unique style and often wear things that nobody else would dare to wear. Forget about the one girl who comes up to check the name brand on your awesome, unique shirt. Know that you are courageous for daring to be different in middle school!

I hope you will surround yourself with nice girls who make you smile, NOT cry. I know they exist and it might take some patience and bravery to leave the one’s you’ve been hanging with for awhile. You are independent, and have so much to offer a friend, don’t waste another minute on girls who make you feel less than fabulous. The mean and insecure thing is normal at your age AND it’s also a sign that those individuals are struggling themselves. Try not to take it personally. Don’t change. There isn’t a single person who is just like you! Being sensitive is a gift.

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You know you are different and that’s hard to deal with in middle school. You want to fit in and be “normal.” You have a LOT going on in your life right now and I want you to know that you are an inspiration to others. You are dealing with some major trauma and an illness and you are becoming a resilient and wise young lady. I’m proud of you and wish I could give you a hug (every day for the rest of middle school). I love you and am so excited for you to get to high school and start to explore activism and leadership-you won’t believe all the cool things you’re going to experience. Think boyfriends. Think Surviving Bullies Charity. Think Girls Leadership Worldwide. Think Gay-Straight Alliance. Think Field Hockey team. Did I mention you are going to go to a whole bunch of proms!?!

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P.S One day you will laugh that you cared about where you were sitting on the bus or in the cafeteria. Nobody cares about that when you leave high school!