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Long Term Effects of Sexual Assault

Effects of sexual assaultWe know that sexual assault and harassment is psychologically traumatizing to the victim. As we have just witnessed in the recent Congressional hearings, these psychological effects are long lasting. Our understanding of the impact, however, continues to expand. A new study released last week shows that the trauma many victims feel is not limited to their emotional and psychological health. These attacks can impact their long-term physical health as well.

The study, published in Journal of the American Medical Association, found that both workplace sexual harassment and sexual assault had lasting, negative effects on women’s physical and emotional health. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recruited 304 women between the ages of 40 and 60 and recorded their blood pressure, weight and height. Through a brief questionnaire, researchers found 19 percent (58) of these women reported a history of workplace sexual harassment, and 22 percent (67) had a reported a history of sexual assault, and 10 percent (30) of the women reported they had experienced both sexual harassment and assault. The numbers for this study’s population are lower than national estimates, which indicated that 40-75 percent of women have experienced workplace sexual harassment, and 36 percent have experienced sexual assault.

About one in four women in the study who had been sexually assaulted met criteria for depression, while only one in 10 who had not been assaulted were also suffering from depression. Researchers also found that those who reported having experienced workplace sexual harassment had significantly higher blood pressure and significantly lower sleep quality than women who had not.Their findings are adding to a growing body of evidence, expanded through more than a dozen other studies over the past decade. Researchers have now documented other physical symptoms caused by sexual harassment, such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems and disrupted sleep.

“When it comes to sexual harassment or sexual assault, our study shows that lived experiences may have a serious impact on women’s health, both mental and physical,” Rebecca Thurston, a professor of psychiatry at the Pittsburg School of Medicine and the study’s senior author said in a press release. “This is an issue that needs to be tackled with urgency not just in terms of treatment but in terms of prevention.”

The researchers are right, sexual assault and sexual abuse has a profound impact on victims, and efforts to improve women’s health must target the prevention of sexual harassment and assault, not just the treatment of its consequences. While the momentum surrounding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements (as well as ongoing current events) has inspired and emboldened more and more women to stand up and make their voices heard, this study illustrates the fact that this is an unfolding crisis and will require diligence, education, and continued attention to eliminate.

The goal of sexual assault prevention is simple—to stop it from happening in the first place. The same can be said for workplace harassment. However, according to the CDC, the solutions are as complex as the problem. Preventing sexual assault requires prevention strategies that address factors at each level of the society. To help facilitate progress, the CDC has put together “STOP SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence,” which represents a select group of strategies based on the best available evidence to help communities and states sharpen their focus on prevention activities.

In terms of workplace harassment, it’s important to keep in mind that the same laws prohibiting gender discrimination also prohibit sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is the main federal law that prohibits sexual harassment, and each state also has its own anti-sexual harassment law. That being said, there is still a lot of work to be done. It is important that employers adopt clear sexual harassment policies and conduct regular sexual harassment training – even if your state doesn’t require or suggest training. It’s also crucial that complaints are taken seriously, and if the complaint is shown to be valid, it is followed with a swift and effective response.

Although the studies focus primarily on women, people with non-conforming gender identities also experience sexual harassment and assault at high rates. To make the changes so desperately needed, we must work together. This isn’t something that will go away, so now is the time to act. This is a health crisis we must address. We need to listen to the victims, hold attackers responsible, and create safe environments in which people to live, work, grow, and thrive.

Harness the Power of Women Helping Women

Women Helping WomenThe power that is unleashed when women help other women is becoming abundantly clear to everyone through the initiatives like #MeToo and #TimesUp. Women, speaking out in unison, are amplifying the voices of victims, who were once blamed for the crimes against them. Nearly every day, we witness the power shift as the once-powerful perpetrators are being removed from their places of authority. However, in other settings, women continue to remain distant and unsupportive of other women, maintaining the limitations of the glass ceiling for possibly brilliant women leaders, who struggle to get to the first rung of the ladder and advance their careers.

Ann Welsh McNulty, co-founder and managing partner of JBK Partners, recently wrote in Harvard Business Review that some senior-level women distance themselves from junior women in the workplace in response to inequality at the top, and cited a study published in The Leadership Quarterly that found that the inclination to, “Separate oneself from a marginalized group is, sadly, a strategy that’s frequently employed. It’s easy to believe that there’s limited space for people who look like you at the top when you can see it with your own eyes.” She also reports that whereas many women are navigating alone, men are 46% more likely to have a higher-ranking advocate in the office.

McNulty writes that the antidote to being penalized for sponsoring women may just be to do it more — and to do it vocally, loudly, and proudly — until we’re able to change perceptions. That is a perfect approach. Times have changed and today there is room on top to make space for all of us. With that in mind, our upcoming book, In This Together, looks at the phrase “Not enough pie” which was used in the past to define women’s lack of support for other women. However, today Gloria Feldt sees women’s leadership not as a competitive win-lose situation, but instead as an infinite pie, and says, “The more there is the more there is. The pie just keeps getting bigger.”

Advancing women into leadership positions is not only the right thing to do, for a number of reasons, it is important to a company’s bottom line. For example:

  • A recent Catalyst report found Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance in three important measures:
    • Return on Equity: 53 percent higher.
    • Return on Sales: 42 percent higher.
    • Return on Invested Capital: 66 percent higher.
  • A recently published study from the Peterson Institute reports that companies with at least 30% female leaders—specifically in senior management—had net profit margins up to 6 points higher than companies with no women in senior management. That is a 15% increase in profitability.
  • In 2015, McKinsey & Co found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more likely to financially outperform their counterparts in the lower quartile.
  • McKinsey also found that companies with more balanced leadership do a better job recruiting and retaining talented workers, leading to cost reductions associated with replacing top executives.

Women have a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that to work towards equality and advancement at all levels. There is more than enough room at the top, and as we climb the ladder we need to reach out to other women, and help them along. Just as #MeToo and #TimesUp are proving, when women connect and collaborate we can do anything. We prove it every day and we need to take note in these times, that the more we focus our efforts and support one another, the more of everything we can create, especially “pie.” Let’s focus on creating opportunities for all women. If we work together, we can change the workplace, and in turn, change the world.

5 Ways Men Can Help Women Advance

With so few women in the C-suite and upper management, many women say their best mentors and allies have been men. New research shows that their mentorship can help, and the prospects for female CEOs are greatly improved by an assist from the outgoing CEO. The authors of the research studied every large company CEO succession between 1989 and 2009 in which a woman was named to the top spot and found that women CEOs do well when they are promoted from within, following a long period of grooming by their predecessors, who are mostly male.

Leigh Buchanan writes in Inc. Magazine that the actions of the predecessor CEO have an impact on women leaders for two reasons, “First, the predecessor has an unmatched opportunity to mentor and sponsor female high-potentials. Second, the predecessor sets the context for a woman’s elevation.” This grooming and support is the ultimate vote of confidence and not only serves to downplay concerns, but also demonstrates the company’s willingness to embrace an inclusive culture.

Actions like that aren’t limited to the top levels. In fact, a recent Catalyst report, Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know, states, “Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. From potential business success to growth for both women and men, everyone benefits when men are brought in as partners in creating a gender-inclusive workplace.”

Why should men want to step up and help us succeed? Well, today men have a bigger stake in women’s equality than in the past. They count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work.

The actions that men can take to help women advance at every level start with looking at how women are treated, and help them better be seen, heard and recognized. Men can help women:

Be Heard – if a woman is interrupted, interject, ask them to finish, and further contribute to the conversation.
Lead – give them chances to lead projects or manage others.
Take Credit – make sure credit is given where credit is due, and don’t let women push their accomplishments to the side, or let someone else claim it.
Combat Bias – whether it’s blatant sexism or unintentional bias, when you notice an injustice, call it out.
Advance – recognize the competence, legitimacy, and status of female colleagues, look for ways to mentor or sponsor them, and help them advance.

Women have a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that in our work towards equality and advancement at all levels, especially when we have the help of our male counterparts. And men do not have to give something up for women to gain visibility at work. In fact, many of them will benefit. We all know that the data is showing that today’s businesses gain when women join the top levels of the organization. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to a more balanced diverse management and workforce.

The Pay Gap Matters, and Affects Us All

I want to be paid fairly for the work that I’m doing. That’s what every single woman around the world wants. We want to be paid on parity with a man in a similar position—Felicity Jones
Equal Pay Day highlights the wage discrepancies that exist between men and women in the workforce. This year, the event was observed on April 10, and marked how far into the current year women had to work to earn what their male counterparts made in 2017. The National Committee on Pay Equity, which established the event in 1996, notes that Equal Pay Day is always observed on a Tuesday, to represent how far into the next work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.
Overall, women still earn just 82 percent of what their male counterparts take home, according to calculations by the Pew Research Center. That number is even less for minority women. For African-American women, Equal Pay Day won’t be observed until August 7th, and for Native American and Latina women, Equal Pay Day won’t be observed until September 7th and November 1st, respectively.
This disparity points up the need for all women to support our sisters of diverse ethnicities. We can gain strengths by working together and supporting each other’s advancement. Currently, gender disparities receive more attention (and lip service) than race. “More companies prioritize gender diversity than racial diversity, perhaps hoping that focusing on gender alone will be sufficient to support all women,” Sheryl Sandberg wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. “But women of color face bias both for being women and for being people of color, and this double discrimination leads to a complex set of constraints and barriers.” We need to band together to eliminate this injustice to women of color.
For a few years it seemed that Millennial women were encountering less wage disparity than older women. However, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that today women between 25 and 34 are losing ground when it comes to pay equality. Women in that age group made just under 89 cents on a man’s dollar in 2016, down from a high of 92 cents in 2011. That means their gender gap in median weekly earnings is the widest in seven years.
This inequality is unexpected, especially since female Millennials are highly educated and encounter far fewer barriers to the workforce than in any prior generation. According to a Bloomberg report, Heidi Shierholz, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington and a former Labor Department chief economist during Barack Obama’s administration says that this group’s temporary rise might have resulted from decreases in men’s wages in those years. “Men just had been losing ground” Shierholz notes, “and instead are doing better now.”
Whether Millennial, Gen X, or Boomer, woman or man, the pay gap matters, and reducing it should be a top priority for anyone interested in the well-being of women, families and communities. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) projects that the U.S. economy would generate additional income of more than $512 billion if women received equal pay. And if that doesn’t get your attention, a recent McKinsey study showed that stricter workplace gender equity practices could add $12 trillion the global GDP by 2025 (seven short years from now) with stronger workplace gender equity practices.
At this point, no female demographic is exempt from this wage gap, and few, if any fields are immune. That means we all need to work together to change the status quo. We, yes women andmen, need to recognize and acknowledge the problem so that we can work together to correct it. Equal pay for equal work is a unifying goal everyone can support.
Below are three organizations working to educate us about the disparities so we can eradicate them. Please check out their resources and use them in your work to eliminate your gender pay gap.
Take the Lead– recently released a resource guide to help you step up your Equal Pay Day Game.
AAUW Work Smart– recently joined forces with LUNA to provide salary negotiation workshops across the country.
National Women’s Law Center– has a tremendous resource available for download, “The Wage Gap: The Who, How, Why, and What To Do.”
Bottom line, women have generated a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that in our work towards equality in all sectors. Equal pay for all women of every ethnicity needs to be a top priority. Equal Pay Day is a reminder that we have work to do and we need to point out the injustices, ask for what we want, make our case for why women and men of all races deserve equal pay, and settle for nothing less!
 
 
 
 

We’re Still Marching and Making Our Voices Heard!


Right now, the next chapter of the women’s movement is being written – and it’s up to each and every one of us to help author it by fighting for what we believe in – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
In 2017, on post-Inauguration Saturday, 4.6 million marched for women’s rights as human rights in 642 cities on every continent on the globe. One year later, women recognized that anniversary, and once again took to the streets to make their voices heard. Proving that there is power in numbers, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in major cities and small towns around the globe.
Last year women marched to express their outrage in what The New Yorker described as a, “shell-shocked solidarity.” With hundreds of issues among them, headlines generally spoke to the core issues surrounding women’s rights, with messages as diverse as the marchers.

Power To The Polls


This year, U.S. activities focused on a power-to-the-polls theme, with a focus on registering voters and encouraging women to run for office in 2018, and especially in the November midterm elections. Women’s March organizers launched a #PowerToThePolls campaign, which focuses on combating voter suppression and making sure that all people who are eligible to vote can easily exercise that right. Reuters reported that March organizers hope to build on the energy felt by Trump opponents after his surprise election victory and channel it into gains for progressive candidates in November’s midterm elections, and they used the weekend to work towards their goal of registering one million new voters. The campaign was timely as events took place against a backdrop of political dysfunction, with the federal government newly shutdown.

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida


Nationwide, women and their families promised to use their votes to shift the course of American government during the mid-term elections. And in many areas where there wasn’t an official march, women organized and took to the streets as part of the #PowerToThePolls campaign to get people registered to vote and use their voices to shake up the status quo.

And We Marched…

Every event and gathering around the world had its moments, as energized crowds continued to work towards change. In Los Angeles, Viola Davis explained that her “testimony is one of poverty” and “one of being sexually assaulted.” She continued: “I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me to the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence.”
In New York, 23-year-old singer Halsey delivered a free-verse poem recounting her experiences with assault and feelings of powerlessness. Her poem closed with strong words of hope and encouragement that triggered an outpouring of support and gratitude from around the world. “We are not free until all of us are free. So, love your neighbor, please treat her kindly. Ask her story and then shut up and listen. Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian. Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs. Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues. For the people who had to grow up way too young. There is work to be done. There are songs to be sung. Lord knows there’s a war to be won.”
In Washington, D.C. Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez emphasized the number of women running on the party’s ticket in November. “If the Congress, if the White House, if the governorships across America had more women like I see here today, we would be a much better America.”

We Marched With Our Male Allies

For many men, this year’s #MeToo movement raised greater awareness of the fight for gender equality and led them to participate more fully in the events. In Las Vegas, men at Sunday’s march said they felt an obligation to speak out about their gender’s treatment of women and stand beside women as allies. That’s good news because leading into the 2017 Women’s March, some men weren’t sure what role, if any, they should play in the day’s events. Men were “slow to support” the march, Washington Post writer Michael Alison Chandler wrote at the time, because they worried that attending a demonstration led by women would make them seem “unmasculine.”

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Will the March Be as Effective?

There was some concern leading into the weekend’s events that the movement that began with the Women’s March one year ago lacked the cohesiveness to move forward. Experts speculated that there were too many special interests and too many different messages to truly affect change. However, what’s important to remember is that it has brought change and done what it was established to do. One year ago, the Women’s March aimed to start a movement of women from all walks of life who would continue their activism long after they had gone home. In many ways, that goal has been realized.
One year ago, thousands of women threw themselves into activism for the first time in their lives, and the march events provided a rare chance to build a network of like-minded people. The networks that were formed in 2017 have grown and expanded, and the women involved remain active.
Jo Reger, a professor of sociology at Oakland University in Michigan was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the feminist movement, like other important social movements, has always had people coming together and then breaking apart. “We think it looks so chaotic and full of factions and what it really looks like is every other social movement. Often those factions end up coming back together later on.”
Whether you marched, registered voters, or supported your sisters on the street in some other way, it’s time to turn our focus to the polls, register voters and support women preparing to run. It is at the polls that we can truly affect change and create a world where women and men don’t have to march in protest, but instead live in a world where equality is the standard, and women are safe in the workplace, and in the community. Change starts now. Let’s work together. To make it happen.

Who You ARE Makes a Difference

Founder of Blue Ribbons Worldwide

Helise “Sparky” Bridges


Helice “Sparky” Bridges had it all – a big house on the Pacific Ocean, fancy cars, beautiful sons and an emotionally abusive husband – when she hit the wall. She fell to her knees and cried, “Stop the world I want to get off!” and a voice answered,” You can’t end your life because you are going to sing and dance and write.”Later on she also understood that she must also make a difference in the world. The fact that she couldn’t sing, had never danced a step or written much beyond a real estate contract didn’t stop her. She left home with a potted plant and some clothes and did those very things in spite of apparent shortcomings because of what she IS–outrageous.
Sparky realized that everyone just tries to be the best mom or dad or teacher, but what everyone really needs is to be recognized and loved, just like she did.  She created a symbolic hug in the Blue Ribbon ceremony in 1980, now called “Blue Ribbons Worldwide” with a goal of uniting humanity through the power of love and within three months 35,000 people were honored with it. Sparky’s goal is to reach one billion people by 2020. That’s one in seven people in the world, the mathematical tipping point for social change.

“Bing!” is the sound of making dreams come true.

With over 40 million people and counting, Blue Ribbons Worldwide is working hard on its goal to unite the world through the power of love. Sparky calls it the glue that’s missing from our lives. The blue ribbon she created says, “Who I Am Makes a Difference” and the ceremony requires seven steps, beginning with looking the person in the eye and honoring them for the qualities that make them special, asking permission to place the ribbon over their heart and for them to receive the honor, and finally “Bing!” to signify making their dreams come true. Each blue ribbon presented is followed by two more with a request for that person to pay it forward to two others.

Sparky tells her own story and the inspiring stories of how the Blue Ribbon Ceremony made a difference in people’s lives in her book, Who I am Makes a Difference: The Power of Acknowledgement, Stories that Connect People Heart-to-Heart and Ignite the Human Spirit. One story on how the blue ribbon prevented a teen suicide is also featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul. That is at the heart of Blue Ribbons Worldwide, to end teen suicide, heal the world by helping one person at a time understand how much she/he matters. Today more than 40 million people have been honored with blue ribbons, but 2020 is only a couple of years away.

#BLUERIBBONCHALLENGE

Sparky says that people need to have personal connections and not be in such a “doing” world, but in a “being” world, where we can see each other’s hearts and the beauty in people. She is inviting others  to join her in becoming sponsors of a new initiative to train 40,000 middle and high school students to discover who they are, why they were born and the difference they make. The students will be honoring each other, honoring their parents and writing stories about it to unite the community in supporting everyone else’s dreams. Besides reducing teen suicides, bullying and the other epidemics that are infecting our teens, Sparky says that it will elevate education in America by developing social and emotional literacy. Instead of concentrating our efforts on conflict resolution, the Blue Ribbon Ceremony will focus on elevating our relationships to a higher bond of respect and love. To learn more about Blue Ribbons Worldwide, contact Sparky directly at her e-mail: sparky@blueribbons.org.
Listen to this conversation for more inspiring stories and to hear the 7-step Blue Ribbon Acknowledgement Ceremony from Sparky to Dr. Nancy. Check out Sparky’s website and ways Blue Ribbons Worldwide is uniting the world through sharing love with 40 million people and counting.Find out how you can help make it One Billion by 2020 at Blue Ribbons Worldwide.

Making Work Safer for All Women

Every day the headlines reveal another scandal, as yet another brave woman shares her story and detailing male behaviors – including sexual abuse, predatory behavior or inappropriate sexual contact – that have typically gone unpunished. As women stand up in numbers, and people pay attention, it becomes impossible for their alleged harassers to brush them off as hysterical females or to hide themselves under the cover of blame-the-victim strategies.
There seems to be safety in numbers and women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others to step up and say, “me too” and to share their stories. Many high-profile men facing sexual misconduct allegations right now aren’t denying them. The allegations aren’t limited to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, or the hallowed halls of Congress, the problem is far more wide-reaching than one man, or even one industry. This has impacted women in every industry and every walk of life, and is finally experiencing the spotlight of public attention and, more importantly, action, it deserves.
During an interview to promote her return to television, Ann Curry, former co-host of the “Today Show” told PEOPLE Magazine that she admires the women who have been willing to speak up both anonymously and on the record. She feels they need to keep their jobs, and be able to work, to be able to thrive, without fear. “’The women’s movement got us into the workplace, but it didn’t make us safe once we got there.”
“And the battle lines are now clear. We need to move this revolution forward and make our workplaces safe,” she added. “Corporate America is quite clearly failing to do so, and unless it does something to change that, we need to keep doing more ourselves.”
Certainly safety is key. In a 2017 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) study, the agency found three-fourths of sexual harassment victims never report it. The EEOC also reports that up to 85 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and many men as well (as evidenced by recent accusations of opera conductor James Levine and actor Kevin Spacey). The EEOC defines harassment as. “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. ”
Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson, not only spoke out about sexual harassment on the job, she sued the network’s chairman Roger Ailes, and 21st Century Fox reportedly settled with her for $20 million. More women followed her lead and came forward at Fox News with allegations of their own. Clyde Haberman wrote in the New York Times that Carlson is, “Aware that sexual hostility on the job falls most heavily on women who are far less privileged than she or than many of the women in movies, television, high tech and other glamourous industries who also report being hounded by predatory bosses. Victims are more likely to be lower paid workers whose plight rarely makes headlines: waitresses and female bartenders who have to fend off employers and customers with hyperactive hands, or women just trying to get through the day unscathed in the male-dominated construction industry.”
So, the question is, “How can the everyday worker, or the single mother holding down one or two minimum wage jobs, fight back against abuse and harassment?” Tammy Cho and Grace Choi are tackling that issue head on with BetterBrave.com. After reading Susan Fowler’s blog post about Uber, the two women shared their frustration, and as Choi writes at Medium.com, “Tammy and I discussed this at length the next day. How frustrated we were. How it’s 2017 and we’re still talking about harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Then we slowly opened up about our own experiences facing sexual harassment, discrimination, racism, and everything in between. It was a conversation that made us ask, ‘Why don’t good solutions to sexual harassment already exist?’”
The two women went on to talk to hundreds of people (including, but not limited to targets of harassment, Human Resource departments, founders, investors, and employment lawyers) to understand the full landscape of harassment. They then took their findings to a friend and an employment lawyer to translate their findings into a simple, but comprehensive guide on what to do if you experience sexual harassment at work. As a result, BetterBrave provides resources, tools, and employment lawyers to targets of harassment.
Eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace is, not only the right thing to do for a multitude of reasons, it also makes good business sense. According to the EEOC, when employers consider the costs of workplace harassment, they often focus on legal costs, and with good reason. Last year, EEOC alone recovered $164.5 million for workers alleging harassment – and these direct costs are just the tip of the iceberg. Workplace harassment first and foremost comes at a steep cost to those who suffer it, as they experience mental, physical, and economic harm. Beyond that, workplace harassment affects all workers, and its true cost includes decreased productivity, increased turnover, and reputational harm. All of this is a drag on performance – and the bottom-line.
“This kind of behavior exists across industries, and it is so long overdue for it to stop,” Curry says. “This is a moment when we all need to be a beacon of light for those women, for all women, and for ourselves.”
We couldn’t agree with her more. Sexual harassment is unacceptable at every level, and thankfully, as Melinda Gates writes in TIME, “2017 is proving to be a watershed moment for women in the workplace and beyond. Instead of being bullied into retreat or pressured into weary resignation, we are raising our voices—and raising them louder than ever before. What’s more, the world is finally listening.”
That’s one thing each of us can, and must, do every day. Listen to women and support them in their life journeys.
 

Gifts to Heal and Transform Your Life

Kim Coles


Actress and Comedian Kim Coles has reached beyond the TV screen and the stage to share how she turned  her life around when she discovered that life doesn’t happen to you, but for you. When her five-year successful TV show, “Living Single,” came to an end, she not only lost her TV family, she lost her way. Now, she says that of course her life was more than a TV show, but the loss was so great, it was difficult to see that at the time. In the process of emerging from a deep depression, she found her gifts and reached out to help others through speaking, writing and sharing empowering stories.
 

Stories Inform, Engage, Educate and Can Heal the World

Her book, Open Your GIFTS: 22 Lessons on Finding and Embracing Your Personal Power, became an Amazon best seller and charts the way to empowerment with stories to show how others have turned their lives around by welcoming their gifts.

GIFTS is an acronym:
G = Gratitude – Kim says she wrote a gratitude journal before GIFTS . The  most difficult thing is to be grateful for the “yucky stuff” life dishes out. But those can be the most rewarding gifts because they offer the best opportunity for learning.
I = Intention – Kim advises being intentional with your spiritual to-do list and whatever you want to be in the world.
F = Forgiveness – Forgiveness opens up your heart for so much more. When you can forgive and release past hurts from events, other people or yourself, you can use those lessons to transform your life.
T = Triumph – Kim says it’s very important to celebrate your success. Take time to be triumphant about the gains you’ve made. It builds self-confidence and helps you face future obstacles with the courage of past victories.
S = Self Love – This final letter is the essence of the book. You must love yourself and take care of yourself no matter what. Kim shares this book to help women arrive at that final step so they can live their passion and purpose.

More of Kim’s Story and Free Gift

Listen to this interview for more of Kim’s personal story  and more about her free gift—a seven-day workbook for your gratitude list, intentions, triumphs and expressions of self love. She’s offering an audio book too, absolutely free. The code is near the end of the interview.   Also check out her website and realkimcoles on Facebook to keep up to date on her events and appearances.

Shared Hope International Is Saving Children Worldwide


For four long years, Stephanie was known only by the name her trafficker gave her when he enslaved her at age 13. Her trafficker beat her and continually manipulated her emotionally. He constantly warned that he would enslave her 10-year-old sister unless Stephanie kept the customers satisfied.
Her story is, in many ways, sadly typical: the older boy taking an interest in the younger girl, persuading her that their relationship is “fate,” promising to marry her, buying her nice things, and then demanding that she dance in a strip club to help him out of a financial jam.
“It was degrading, but I did it ‘for us,’” Stephanie says. When he demanded that she sell herself for sex, she refused — and he threw her out of the house on a bitterly cold night. She could sell, or she could freeze to death.
Arrests and returns became a cycle. At one point, the trafficker brutally assaulted Stephanie in front of her own home. While she was hospitalized, a probation officer asked Shared Hope International to find a safe place where professionals had the skills to address her many needs. The closest such place was 3,000 miles away. Shared Hope moved her across the country, and gave her a new name for protection. Having been loved, cared for and counseled, she now shares her story to protect other girls.
Stephanie’s story is not unique. In fact, sex trafficking is a booming industry in America. It thrives because there is a serious demand for commercial sex with minors. Every day in America children are being bought and sold for sex. This is not a problem that is limited to third world or developing countries, it is happening right here at home in every state in the nation and crosses all socio-economic boundaries.
Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act. That act can include prostitution, pornography and sexual performance done in exchange for any item of value, such as money, drugs, shelter, food or clothes. The worst part about it is the fact that the industry continues to grow and thrive because there’s serious demand.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been 13,897 calls to the hotline and 4,460 cases of human trafficking reported in the United States this year alone. Of those cases, 3,186 were sex trafficking, and of those cases, 1,438 involved minors.
Approximately 1.2 million girls and boys are trafficked each year. The victims are not all runaways or previously abused minors. Traffickers find their victims through social networks, home neighborhoods, clubs or bars, the internet, and even school. They lure these victims through promises of protection, adventure, love, home, or opportunities and once they have them under their control they use violence, fear, threats, and intimidation to keep them in line. The common age that a child is lured into service is between the ages of 10-16, when they are far too young and naïve to realize what’s actually happening.
In efforts to stop trafficking once and for all, Shared Hope International works hand in hand with federal lawmakers to strengthen laws so buyers and traffickers go to jail and victims are protected. This contrasts with laws in many states that penalize the child sex slave and let the customers escape without penalty. The organization works to teach minors the tactics of traffickers so they can avoid dangerous situations. They also train professionals on the ways to interpret the signs of trafficking to identify victims. Shared Hope focuses on protecting children on a local level by working with parents, youth workers, community leaders, and teens on how traffickers operate and how they can protect themselves and their friends.
Shared Hope’s story began in 1998 when U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith traveled into the heart of a notorious brothel district in Mumbai, India. The brutal sexual slavery and exploitation of women and children she witnessed there inspired her to establish Shared Hope International to help bring healing to devastated lives.
“I found children younger than my granddaughter, not even teenagers, being sold by the sex act and by the minute. I couldn’t believe it.  I had to do something,” Congresswoman Smith said. “It was the search for answers and the need for justice that guided my decision to start Shared Hope International.”
According to Shared Hope’s 2016 Annual Report, last year the organization was able to supply grants and technical assistance to 11 partners in the U.S., supporting their ability to provide the following services to survivors:

  • outreach and counseling
  • shelter and therapeutic care
  • textbook scholarships
  • virtual mentoring where services may not be available locally
  • bi-lingual case management
  • group case management
  • therapeutic foster care

The organization was also able to reach 2,229 first responders, service providers and community members through 33 trainings, and train 228 new Ambassadors of Hope from 42 states. Overall in 2016, Shared Hope was able to reach 779,413 people through prevention education events, and the organization was able to partner with 16 shelter and service organizations in four countries to bring education, job skills, housing, medical care and freedom to 431 survivors.
Shared Hope International is just one example of the amazing work that is being done to rescue and empower survivors. Human slavery is wrong, and sex trafficking of children is absolutely not acceptable. Leading Women co-author and founder of the Women Like Us foundation, Linda Rendleman, has started a crowdfunding campaign to support Shared Hope and many women-led causes and charities who are fighting sex trafficking in their communities or nationally. All of the work that is currently being done is proof we can eradicate these horrifying statistics, but only if we work together.
If you feel that someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.  To learn more about sex trafficking and ways you can help, check out our post with resources and partners.

Five Must-Do’s for Women Seeking Greater Influence in 2017

Charlene Ryan had never been political, but the polarizing candidates in 2016 changed that. For the first time, she worked to elect a candidate and even donated money. Since the election, although nervous, she is ready to play a leadership role in her community, but where to begin?
The first step is to lean into her circle of women friends. The 20 women now in the US Senate – from both sides of the aisle – have made news by meeting for dinner every quarter to work together. One of their most notable agreements prevented a government shutdown in 2013. One commentator joked, “The women are the only grownups left in Washington.”
No one party or person has all the good ideas, so the important thing is for us all to work together for the good of the country. Here are a few useful strategies I’ve learned from the smart, amazing women co-authors of my book, Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life. These strategies will increase your ability to advance your beliefs and increase your influence.

1. Look closely at how you feel about exercising power.

Today, many women and men are willing to step up and act. Feldt’s nine power tools help women understand who they are so they can define their own terms. Women have plenty of ambition, but too often fail to use it to develop their plan, and take responsibility for working it.
Although the doors to power have been open for decades, women haven’t been stepping through. Co-author Gloria Feldt says when power is defined as “power over,” women want no part of it. When she redefines it as the “power to” work with others, women feel quite differently. With this simple paradigm shift women can “choose power over fear to lead authentically as women.”

2. Build your power by speaking in public. 

By speaking up, “A woman is transcending conventional attitudes toward the woman’s role and the woman’s place,” Phillips says. That’s OK. Claim your outsider status as a badge of honor. Draft your bio carefully and let the emcee establish your expertise so you get the respect you deserve.
“Delivering a presentation that achieves its purpose can be empowering,” says co-author Lois Phillips, PhD. Success requires planning, so start by deciding: What do I stand for? What do I believe? Am I willing to take the heat for asserting my ideas?

3. Plan ways to keep the floor and make yourself heard. 

For example, if another woman acknowledges an interruption by saying, “Now, let’s hear more of what Elaine was saying,” she is more likely to regain the floor. When a man offers Elaine’s idea as his own, her ally could say, “Thanks for supporting Elaine’s idea. Let’s ask her to give us a few more data points.” There are personal strategies to help a woman recover after an interruption, but she is much more likely to succeed with allies.
Men are accustomed to talking over women, says gender communication expert and co-author Claire Damken Brown, PhD. To combat that, strategize with other women to get the message out.
When you do have the floor, make sure you don’t numb your audience with every detail. Keep it simple, and offer one word, one sentence and then one paragraph to keep the attention of the audience.

4. Gather Your Nerve and Take Your Rightful Seat

“Women have been trained to hide their skills,” says international speaker and co-author Lois P. Frankel, PhD. She urges women to claim the seat they deserve at the table, regardless of how many men are present.
“Think strategically but act tactically,” says Frankel. While it’s tempting to roll up your sleeves and jump into an assignment, ask yourself some questions first, such as, “Will doing this add value? What is the most efficient way to do it? Should I be doing this or is someone else better suited? What might be a better idea?”

5. Strategize and Use Your Feminine Leadership Skills

Bringing dissenting sides together, knowing when to push, when to pull, and when to stand your ground is typical of feminine negotiation styles. These so-called soft skills are in fact hard to learn and apply, according to-author Birute Regine, EdD. Considering all sides of an issue, listening attentively, empathizing and keeping your focus on the big picture are feminine skills that help women develop beneficial policies.
The quarterly dinners of Democrat and Republican women senators are an example of this willingness to work together. “The women are an incredibly positive force,” one woman confided to a TIME reporter. “We work together well, and we look for common ground.”
Women like Charlene Ryan get involved when they want to change something. That’s great! When you learn a great change technique, apply it in your own life and share it with another woman. Let’s create a world in which every woman claims her power, sees her advice and expertise valued and respected, conquers her internal barriers, and works together with other women and men.

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