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The Importance of a Positive Self-Esteem

What is self-esteem?

According to the American Psychological Association it is “the degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one’s self-concept are perceived to be positive. It reflects a person’s physical self-image, view of his or her accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them, as well as the ways in which others view and respond to that person.” Not only does having a positive self-esteem mean valuing yourself but also that you value your capability to achieve. Your self-esteem is how you define yourself as a person including your personality, physical body, talents, and how other view you. Each individual focuses on different aspects for their self-esteem. 

 

Having a high self-esteem doesn’t mean that you think you are perfect. Your self-esteem can fluctuate. Having a positive self-esteem is important for your mental health. Having a positive self-esteem allows you to have coping skills that help you handle negative aspects. It also allows you to deal with stress in healthier ways. There are multiple ways to improve your self-esteem. A few examples are building positive relationships, seek support, and journal positive things in your life. Building positive relationships can help by staying positive. Seeking support such as finding a therapist to discuss strategies to help. Journaling positive things in your life can also help you focus on aspects you are happy about. These are small steps remember that we are building habits that contribute to a positive self-esteem. 

 

For continued learning, please reference the below sites:

 https://dictionary.apa.org/self-esteem

https://youtu.be/OLIFu9Xfnh4

https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/self-esteem.html

 

Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

What is Victim Blaming?

Victim blaming occurs when an individual questions a person’s experience, such as their actions and how they could have prevented sexual violence. Examples of victim blaming include “what were you wearing,” “why didn’t you say anything earlier,” or “you were sending mixed signals.” Victim blaming is implying that a person deserved what occurred to them, which is not okay. The reality of sexual violence is that it occurs because someone chose to take advantage and cause harm. Victim blaming discourages survivors to speak out about their experiences. Victim blaming allows perpetrators to get away with their actions. It is important to stand up to victim blaming comments. Show your support to survivors by stating that you believe them. You validate their experience and empower that individual. 

 

 RAINN provided important statistics highlighting sexual violence. 

  • Someone is sexually assaulted in America every 68 seconds. 
  • 1 out of 6 women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape. 
  • 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male. 
  • Those in Indigenous communities are twice as likely to experience rape/ sexual assault compared to all races. 
  • Sexual violence occurs in the military and often goes unreported. 
  • Sexual violence affects thousands of prisoners across the country. 

For more information, please see RAINN.org

Below I have attached a great video that provides more information and scenarios to understand victim blaming. 

 


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

 

Stress and Anxiety

Identifying stress and anxiety can help you find the necessary tools needed to stay healthy. Stress is caused by an external trigger while anxiety is the persistence of worries. Stress and anxiety are normal responses from the body to danger. The cause of stress is in response to a recognized threat. Anxiety may not always have an identifiable trigger. While stress is short-term, anxiety is a long-term experience. Sometimes stress can turn into anxiety. Stress is the body’s reaction to a threat. Anxiety is the body’s response to stress. I have attached a great chart created by Georgia Hope that provides the similarities and difference between anxiety and stress. 

Ways to help cope with stress and anxiety are: journaling, downloading relaxation apps, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding drinking caffeine, and reaching out to family or friends. Journaling can help you not only express your feelings but can help you identify when you are feeling stress or anxiety. There are great applications to help guide you to relaxation. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule can help you tackle stress. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep you are more irritable and less patient. That being said, most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Avoiding caffeine is important because when you drink caffeine you elevate your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in the body. Lastly, reach out to your family and friends. A strong support system is important as they can reduce our stress and uplift our moods. You should seek out help if you are having difficulty doing normal daily activities. 

 

For more information on stress and anxiety, please see the following resources:


 

Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

 

What Is Dating Violence?

There are many different types of dating violence such as physical violence, sexual violence, psychological abuse, economic abuse, and stalking. Dating and relationship violence is a pattern of coercive and abusive tactics that are done by one person in a relationship to gain power and control over another person. It is okay to say no to sex during a relationship. If you are forced to any sexual activity, it is sexual abuse. 

 

LGBTQ+ Relationship Violence

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals can experience slightly different dating violence. It can be a bit different because it can involve outing a person’s sexual orientation. It can also include reinforcing fears that no one will help the individual because of their sexual orientation. They can also question the individual’s commitment to the relationship. 

Warning Signs of Abusive Behaviors

  • Exhibits jealousy when you talk to others
  • Consistently accuses a partner of flirting or cheating
  • Tries to control where you go, whom you go with, what you wear, say, do, etc.
  • Attempts to isolate you from loved ones
  • Uses force, coercion, or manipulation in sexual activity
  • Degrades or puts you down

Resources for Learning More about Intimate Partner Violence

 

 

 

 

 

Dating Violence and Abuse, Office on Women’s Health

Dating Violence, U.S. Department of Justice

Preventing Teen Dating Violence, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Power and Control: Break Free From Abuse, National Domestic Violence Hotline

 


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

AirTag Safety

As an advocate for the rights of sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors, I wanted to share some important information on AirTags and how to be aware of this device. 

First, let’s look at how the AirTag works. AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in the Find My network. AirTags were created to help find personal objects such as keys or bags. These devices send the location of your AirTag to iCloud then you can go to the Find My app and see it on a map. 

While technology continues to advance, it is important to be safe. Reports have been made that the Air Tags can also be used to track people unsuspectingly. It can be slipped into a purse or attached to a car, raising questions about privacy and safety. Apple states that it has incorporated features in the AirTags to discourage unwanted tracking. Some of these features include audible alarms and messages about nearby tags that pop up on iPhones. A notification pop-up will state “AirTag found moving with you.”  The Apple site says to follow the on-screen instructions to disable the AirTags. If you feel your safety is at risk, please contact your local law enforcement. It is also encouraged to look through your belongings to try and find it. In order to disable the AirTag to stop sharing your location you can twist counterclockwise on the back of the device by the Apple logo and take the battery out. The person tracking on the other end will no longer be able to see your location.

 

Please see the following resources that provide further information. 

Apple AirTags: How to Protect Yourself From Being Tracked, cnet.com

AirTags: Apple’s Item Trackers – Everything We Know, macrumors.com

 


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

Campus Sexual Harassment

Sexual violence affects millions around America. The problem with reporting is that though many women and men experience harassment, many are reluctant to notify officials because they worry they won’t be believed. It is important for schools to report accurately to encourage students to report sexual harassment and violence. 

Title IX legislation eliminates sex-based discrimination to ensure all students both female and male have access and quality education. It offers protection from athletics and admission to housing and sexual harassment. Every public school that receives federal funding is required to report this information. According to the American Association of University Women, “Yes. Title IX covers all forms of sexual harassment, and sexual violence is considered a form of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment under Title IX includes any unwelcome sexual conduct, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent. Title IX also prohibits sex-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.”

According to RAINN sexual violence statistics, women age 18-24 are at higher risk of sexual violence; 13% of students experience rape or sexual assault; 21% of transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-confirming students have been sexually assaulted. Sexual harassment affects health. It can cause loss of appetite, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts. 

 

Ways anyone can work to end sexual violence on campus:

 

1. When someone you know is sexually assaulted or harassed, remember these three steps: believe, validate, and empower. I believe you can be the most powerful words that survivors hear. You can validate their trauma and pain with statements like “I’m so sorry this happened to you” or “You did nothing to deserve this.”  Empower the survivor to make their choice about next steps, giving them options such as a medical exam, a police report, or a visit to a rape crisis center.

2. Educate yourself on local resources and activism groups. RAINN can help you find your local rape crisis center. 

3. Consider joining the effort by volunteering for a hotline or activism events. You can sign up to be a volunteer at ZCenter here.

 4. Be an active bystander. Learn more here.

 

For more information, please see these important resources for statistics on sexual violence: 

Campus Sexual Violence, RAINN

Title IX, AAUW

 


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

Write Poems/Heal from Trauma

What do Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver, Fiona Apple, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Carly Simon, Missy Elliott and Rupi Kaur all have in common? Besides being some of our most beloved poets and lyricists, each one is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Writing poems and songs can tap into a part of our brains that may be closed off by the symptoms of sexual trauma: dissociation, intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance, that feeling that something bad is about to happen. Especially if the trauma occurred in childhood, when our brains were still developing, we might find it helpful to soothe ourselves through the rhythm, repetition and routine of being creative.

In poetry, we can express ourselves — our grief, our anger, our hope, our defiance — through words in an intentional, healing way. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Poems Don’t Have to Be Happy

Some survivors find relief in doing creative work that is honest and raw, not being pressured to tie the ends up nicely. Poems can help us explore all our feelings, even the ones we usually think of as negative. We can use words to capture the pain of a broken heart, the rage at a choice we didn’t get to make, the vulnerability of our worst moment. Poems don’t have to be happy to be beautiful.

Create a Sanctuary

Where to begin? Light a candle. Turn on a sound machine or some lo-fi hip hop beats. Make tea, wrap a warm blanket around your shoulders, and find a spot of sunlight on the kitchen floor. Make your creative writing time soothing for body, brain and soul.

Get Inspired

Invest in a copy of Mary Oliver’s Devotions, Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, or do a search for any of Maya Angelou’s many written creations, including this ground-shaking one. Look for performance poetry on youtube, like this, and let anything Amanda Gorman has made inspire you. Check out Wild Writing, one of many online creative writing courses that are open to anyone. There are countless ways to express ourselves through words, and through playful experimentation and a commitment to the journey, we can find our own way through.

Seeing Our Words on a Page

It can be such a confidence booster to hold something in our hands and say, “I made this.” Writing poetry isn’t about getting published. It isn’t about creating a masterpiece or getting all the words just right. The words are ours — we control them. We own them. No one can take them from us. Making our healing work into something tangible, something we can feel, touch and see, is a way to regain strength and restore agency.

Always, Always Celebrate

When you write something you realize has captured your truest heart, your deepest feelings, capture that moment! Our brains release happy chemicals, most notably dopamine, when we take note of an accomplishment. Treat yourself to a set of colored pens. Ask a loved one if you can read your poem to them. Or print your written piece on pretty paper, stick it in a frame, and put it on your bedside table. Memorialize, in some big or small way, how far you’ve come.

Work with a Trusted Professional

Trauma work is always hard work, and you won’t want to do it alone. Zacharias Center has trained counselors that work with groups and individuals, serving children, youth and adults. Or, you may already have a relationship with a therapist, spiritual director, or social worker. Ask if you can share what you’re working on. Ask if creative, expressive work can be incorporated into your sessions.

We’d also love to see you at our upcoming poem-writing workshop (3/23/22 at 12 noon), which you can register for here: Free Webinar: Writing Poems to Process Trauma — ZCenter

 


 

Written by Courtney Coates, MSW Candidate at Loyola University, ZCenter Counseling Intern.

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

 

 

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day. Thank you to all the women who have contributed to make this world a better place. National Women’s Week began in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. Below I have created a list of important women and a brief description of their accomplishments.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg- advocate to dismantle gender discrimination. Second Woman to serve for the Supreme Court. 

Dolores Huerta– One of the most influential labor activist in the 20th century and leader of the Chicano Civil Right movement. 

Winona Laduke– A Native American Activist, economist, author. She devoted her life to advocating for indigenous control of their homelands, natural resources, and cultural practices. 

Audre Lorde– Poet and author she wrote about being an African American lesbian. 

Margot Sanger- Margot founded the birth control movement and became advocate for women’s reproductive rights.

Sonia Sotomayor- First Hispanic and third women appointed to the Supreme Court Justice. 

Malala Yousafzai- An advocate for women’s education. 

Alice Wong- The founder and the director of the Disability Visibility Project which is an online community that fosters and amplifies disability media and culture. 

Susan B. Anthony- Most visible leader from Women’s Suffrage Movement 

Betsy Ross- credited for sewing the first United States flag.

 

If you would like more information on important Women History Figures please follow: 

Women’s History: Susan B. Anthony

Women’s History Month Facts

 

Important facts regarding women:

  • Every year, Women’s History Month has a theme. The theme for 2022 is “Women providing healing, Promoting hope.”
  • Wyoming Territory was the first place to grant women the right to vote.
  • The 19th Amendment did not allow all women the right to vote.
  • Women couldn’t get credit cards by themselves until 1974. 
  • More women are earning college degrees than men. 
  • The gender gap still persists.
  • Women make up 57.8% of the labor force. 

 

Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence.

Social Work Month

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”  ~Helen Keller

 

March is the national month of social workers. According to the National Association of Social Workers, there are 720,000 social workers in the U.S, who have dedicated their focus in fighting social injustices. Due to COVID-19, the national need for social workers has had a dramatic increase. 

Social workers are constantly fighting for social injustices dating back to the Civil Rights Movement, in which social workers fought for voting rights for people of color. One of the biggest social injustices that social workers fought for and continue to fight for is women’s rights. 

 

Timeline and Overview of Women’s Rights

 

  • 1833: Social workers fighting for women’s rights dates back to the mid 19th century, in which Oberlin College was founded as the first educational institution to accept women  and African Americans. Prior to this, women did not have access to higher education as women typically became housewives, needing no education. 
  • 1872: In 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for U.S. president. Although she did not win, she paved the way for women to run for president. Victoria was one of the many  leaders of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, first to own a brokerage firm on Wall Street, and an activist for women’s rights and labor reform. 
  • 1890: Wyoming became the first state to allow women the right to vote in its state elections. 
  • 1918: Margaret Sanger won a suit in New York which allowed doctors to advise their patients about birth control. Margaret Sanger was a big advocate of providing women with birth control information. In 1916, Singer opened her first birth control clinic in Brooklyn. Shortly after, she was arrested, which led to her fight for birth control rights and those rights being granted in 1918. 
  • 1920: In 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified which granted women the right to vote, an issue that was a long standing fight against Congress. Although many individuals were involved in this fight, Alice Paul was a social worker who became a fundamental figure in women’s history. Alice Paul founded the National Women’s Party, which led to women getting the right to vote. 
  • 1932-34: In 1932, Hattie Wyatt Caraway, of Arkansas, became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1933, Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve on a Presidential Cabinet under President Roosevelt. In 1934, Lettie Pate Whitehead was the first woman to serve as director in a big corporation (Coca Cola Com.). 
  • 1963: The Equal Pay Act was passed which promised everyone would be payed equally regardless of race, color, religion, national origin or sex. 
  • 1964: The Civil Rights Act was passed prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, nation al origin, or sex. 
  • 1969: Women were able to work jobs that were for men only if they met physical requirements. 
  • 1973: The U.S. The Supreme Court declared that the Constitution would protect women’s right to terminate early pregnancies, making abortion legal. 
  • 1987: Congress assigned March as the National month of Women’s History Month. 
  • 1994: The Gender Equity in Education Act was adopted by Congress, which promoted math, science, and learning by girls; it also advised on providing counsel for pregnant teens and services for the prevention of sexual harassment. In that same year, the Violence Against Women Act was created to provide services for victims of rape and domestic violence. 
  • 2021: Kamala Harris becomes the first female vice president. 

These are just a few events in U.S. history that have enabled women to have the same equality as men, at home, at work, with their bodies, and basic human rights. There is still a long way to go to achieve equality for all but without activists and social workers, we would not be able to be where we are now!

Learn more about the history of women’s rights:

 

 

References: 


Written by Evelyn Perez, ZCenter Intern and BSW Candidate at Northeastern Illinois University.

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

Pop Culture Representation of Sexual Education

More and more studies are coming out that show the importance of comprehensive sexual education. Earlier this year, our governing body (the Illinois Coalition against Sexual Assault) encouraged agencies to participate in Sex Education National Week of Action. The coalition views comprehensive sexual education as a form of sexual assault prevention education (for more information, please contact Sean Black). This may be as a result of more and more youth demanding that they receive adequate comprehensive sexual education and more and more people are lamenting the fact that they did not receive proper sexual education. 

On top of that, society is receiving more and more information about comprehensive sexual education via TV shows and movies. Not only that, but these pop culture moments are providing the evidence that comprehensive sexual education is important. Popular TV shows like Euphoria, Sex Education, and Big Mouth are diving into this previously taboo topic. And I, for one, would have loved to see this when I was in high school.

As stated by Anna Silman, “Teenage sexuality has hardly been absent from TV, but its depiction has tended to veer between one of two poles — either idealized, melodramatic romance that doesn’t come close to capturing the sloppy awkwardness of real life, or quasi After-School Specials replete with sexual assault, diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and all of intercourse’s worst consequences.”

If these are the two options that you have, you are gonna be left confused and disoriented. Left with questions like: What is the right way to go? Is there a middle ground? Or do I have to choose one way and just stick with that? This leads to a culture where words like prude, promiscuous, dirty, clean are thrown around and often directed at female and non-binary identity students. I would have loved to see myself referenced in the material that I was learning. Representation matters! Seeing yourself matters! Sexual education has long been focused around white, European, upper class values that have long commodified the bodies of People of Color. 

Comprehensive sexual education sets out to alleviate this divide. It does not advocate for the youth to be having sex whenever or however, but just like any other subject it gives students the tools and techniques they need when they are “out in the real world.” They might not experience sex in high school, but I also never used many of my calculus skills until I got out of high school and those were still taught to me during my time.

 

View this AWESOME explainer video:

 

Additional Resources:

 


Written by Cassidy Herberth, Prevention and Education Specialist.

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

 

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