October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation.

Tragically, more than 10 million Americans suffer at the hands of loved ones each year, and women are twice as likely to be targets of this heinous crime as men. Source

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, is a pattern of abusive behaviors, characterized by one partner’s need to control the other by using a range of tactics. While the frequency and severity of physical or sexual violence may vary, coercion, intimidation and emotional manipulation occur on a routine basis throughout the relationship.

› Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, punching, shoving, kicking, burning, strangulation/ choking, using weapons or other objects to cause injury.

› Sexual Abuse: Forcing a partner to engage in unwanted sexual acts; refusing to practice safe sex; treating a partner like a sex object.

› Emotional Abuse: Name-calling and putdowns; denying/shifting blame; treating a partner as an inferior; threatening to harm self/others or to have a partner deported; abusing children or pets; stalking; using threatening looks, actions or gestures; using technology to track, monitor or frighten.

› Economic Abuse: Stealing or destroying belongings/money; preventing a partner from getting or keeping a job; not letting the partner know about or have access to family income; damaging or ruining a partner’s credit.

Is it domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors that adults and adolescents use to control their intimate or dating partners. It can include physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and other controlling behaviors. The following questions may help you decide whether you are in an abusive relationship.

Does your partner ever…

  •  hit, kick, shove or injure you?
  •  use weapons/objects against you or threaten to do so?
  • force or coerce you to engage in unwanted sexual acts?
  • threaten to hurt you or others, have you deported, disclose your sexual orientation or other personal information?
  •  control what you do and who you see in a way that interferes with your work, education or other personal activities? › use technology to track, monitor or frighten you?
  • steal or destroy your belongings?
  • constantly criticize you, call you names or put you down? make you feel afraid?
  • deny your basic needs such as food, housing, clothing, or medical and physical assistance?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, please know that help is available.

It is not your fault.

If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You may also blame yourself for what is happening. However, please know that abuse is a purposeful and deliberate behavior where one person uses abusive tactics to gain power and control over another person. Abuse is never the victim’s fault.

Help is available.

Without help, domestic violence often continues to get more severe over time. It can sometimes become deadly. Please know that you have options.

› Domestic violence programs. These organizations offer free and confidential help to individuals in abusive relationships, including crisis intervention, safety planning, emergency shelter, advocacy and other supportive services.

› Community support. Friends, family, women’s and community groups, places of worship, and service providers (such as legal, health, counseling centers) can also provide a variety of resources, support, and assistance.

› Criminal charges. If you or other loved ones have been physically injured, threatened, raped, harassed or stalked, consider reporting these crimes to the police. Criminal charges may lead to the person who is abusing you being arrested and possibly imprisoned.

› Restraining/protective orders. Even if you don’t want to file a police report, you can file for a civil court order that directs your partner to stop abusing or to stay away from you. In many states, restraining/protective orders can also evict your partner from your home, grant support or child custody, or ban him or her from having weapons.

Safety planning is key.

Many survivors find it helpful to implement concrete safety plans in the case of emergency, whether they are planning to leave or stay in the relationship. Here are some suggestions:

› Consider telling others you trust, such as friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, what is happening and talk about ways they might be able to help.

› Memorize emergency numbers for the local police, support persons and crisis hotlines. For example, the National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

›Identify escape routes and places to go if you need to flee from an unsafe situation quickly.

› Talk with your children and/or other household members about what they should do if a violent incident occurs or if they are afraid.

› Put together an emergency bag with money/ checkbooks, extra car keys, medicine, and important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, immigration documents, and medical cards. Keep it somewhere safe and accessible, such as with a trusted friend or at your place of work.

› Trust your instincts — if you think you are in immediate danger, you probably are. If you are afraid for your safety, call the police.

Joining the effort.

To stop domestic violence, we all need to be part of the solution. The following are some things that you can do to help: 

  • Help a friend or family member who is being abused. Let them know that the abuse is not their fault, listen to them, help them to identify resources and options, empower them to make choices for their safety, and provide nonjudgmental support and an opportunity for them to seek your support again. 
  • Support your local domestic violence program. Most hotlines, advocacy or shelter organizations could benefit from your time, financial support or other donations. For ideas for building needed resources in your community for survivors of domestic violence: https://bit.ly/2nD2EhB 
  • Speak up about abuse. Let the person using violence or intimidation know their behavior is wrong and encourage them to seek help. If you see abuse, call the police. Doing nothing can make the abuse worse and even deadly. 
  • Educate yourself and others. Call your local domestic violence program to schedule informational workshops for your workplace, community group or place of worship. Encourage schools to include abuse prevention as part of their curricula. Social change is possible when individuals, families, communities, and institutions have access to both knowledge and tools. See Awareness + Action = Social Change: Strategies to End Gender-Based Violence for inspiration: https://bit.ly/2MkqQTR 
  • Set an example. Make a commitment to work for equality and end violence in all of its forms. Model non-violent and respectful behavior through your everyday actions.

HOPE is here.

For help, there are resources available for you:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) / 1-800-787-3224
    • Secure online chat: thehotline.org
  • loveisrespect 1-866-331-9474 / Text “loveis” to 22522
    • Secure online chat: loveisrespect.org
  • If you live in the state of Georiga, Contact us today:
new normal

When COVID-19 became a reality, life as we knew it changed. Our routines and ability to predict what would happen next were drastically altered.

Stress and anxiety is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. We are living in an uncertain time where stress is common. It is nearly impossible to go through one day without hearing alarming information on the news about not only COVID-19 but national security concerns and disasters. We are reminded often that the days are filled with less peace and calm and more destruction and illnesses.

Through all of this, stress and anxiety management has become vital for individuals and families. HOPE is here. We’ve put together some coping skills to practice for minimizing the mental consequences of everything going on in the world and maximizing the recovery of this exposure.

Here’s 8 Tips for Managing Anxiety during the “New Normal”

It’s normal to have difficulty managing your feelings during this time. Because everyone experiences stress and anxiety differently, don’t compare yourself with others around you or judge other people’s reactions and emotions. Here are some tips for coping:

1. Talk about it. By talking with others, trusted friends and family or professionals, about the event, you can relieve stress and realize that others share your experience and feelings.

2. Take care of yourself. Get as much rest and exercise as possible. Try to continue any religious practices or centering activities.

3. Take one thing at a time. Getting things back to normal can seem impossible. Break the job up into doable tasks. Complete that task first and then move on to the next one. Completing each task will give you a sense of accomplishment and make things seem less overwhelming.

4. Help others if you’re able to. Help prepare meals for others. Volunteer to help clean up or rebuild your community. Donate to a local food bank. Helping others can give you a sense of purpose in a situation that feels beyond control.

5. Avoid drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help you feel better, but in the long run, they generally create additional problems that compound the stress and anxiety you’re already feeling.

6. Ask for help if you need it. If your anxiety is so strong it gets in the way of your daily life, talk with someone. Don’t try to go it alone. This is especially important for people who had existing mental health problems or those who’ve survived past trauma. You could also join a support group. Don’t try to go it alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

7. Follow public health guidelines from reputable sources. The degree and rate of reopening seems to vary across the country, so stay informed when restrictions are reinstated and up to date. But check the sources as well. There’s a lot of misleading information out there causing more stress and anxiety than needed.

8. Be your own cheerleader and don’t compare yourself to others. Facing your anxiety is hard work. We all have things that scare us or stress us out and because of this, we shouldn’t compare yourself with others. If you are working hard to overcome your anxiety, you deserve to congratulate yourself and be your own cheerleader. The work of re-entering the world after an unprecedented months-long lockdown is work. If you are trying to overcome your anxiety, then you deserve to congratulate yourself for you hard work.

HOPE is Here.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for children, adults, individuals and families in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

covid blog

COVID-19 as a Trauma/Stress Event

This event has been experienced on a spectrum of “it doesn’t seem like it will impact us” to feeling overwhelmed, frozen or irritated, and not knowing what may happen next.

  • Previous Trauma (i.e. abuse, neglect, violence) can be exacerbated
  • Typical Stressors (i.e. falling behind in school, financial stress/food, regular schoolwork/tests, home stress) can all get worse during the pandemic
  • New Stressors (i.e. wearing a mask, washing hands, worrying about getting sick) surface

How We Might be Feeling Now

We may find ourselves feeling more agitated, easily annoyed or frustrated. Being in lockdown and having a worldwide presence of Covid-19 has left us feeling threatened. We can’t flee the danger so we may be revving up to fight or flat and begin to shut down.

Now things are changing again as we go back to school. Possible feelings for children, teachers and parents about returning to school:

  • Anxious or nervous
  • Afraid of the unknown
  • Reluctant to return
  • Poor sleep
  • Physically not feeing well (tummy or headaches)
  • Poor concentration and distractibility
  • Regression
  • Mood swings

How Can Schools in 2020 Be Trauma Sensitive?

  • There are many things educator, staff, parents and counselors can do to support children who have experienced trauma and help them to cope better at school.
  • Social connectedness – the biggest buffer in times of stress and distress. We can stay physically distant but emotionally close
  • Self-care – helping children learn to do this through modeling and education
  • A safe, predictable, supportive and consistent environment – create this in your environment. You can be the most important contribution for the child’s ability to learn to trust the world again, and enhance their capacity for resiliency
  • Checking in with students when they arrive in your classroom
  • Not expecting “calm” as this would be unrealistic of the children and ourselves. Be realistic about what will be achieved as many of us are in survival mode.
  • Be the thermostat, not the thermometer, for your classroom. Set the tone for your class and not let the class set your tone.

We Need to Put Our Own Oxygen Masks On First

Think of what the flight attendants say on a plane. They remind adult to put their own oxygen masks on before helping children or others around them.

Self-care needs to be a priority. We are no use to those around us if we are “unconscious”

What might self-care look like?

  • Doing an activity you like
  • Taking care of your physical and mental health

Other Ideas

  • Try and find ways to incorporate the whole brain throughout the day (rational thinking, emotions, and decision making)
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by encouraging reading, playing boardgames or learning opportunities
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by creating something or connecting with someone special in your life
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by moving your body around and doing exercise, body breaks or stretching

Ways to Minimize Covid-19’s Imprint in Our Lives

  • Predictability – try to have a routine and things to look forward to
  • Get Moving – feeling trapped increases our fight response
  • Connection – isolation is unnatural for humans. Reach out to friends, family or counselors
  • Numbing Out – often we try to numb out to keep safe, but we need to feel safe for our bodies to heal. Try becoming aware of yourself with loving kindness and compassion
  • Sense of Future – it can feel like this is will last forever. Try breathing or mindfulness to help get a sense of time
  • Sense of Safety – find ways to feel safe again. Listen to music, have private time and reach out if you are unsafe at home

Use of Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation is a framework designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control (Kuypers). It is an effective way of identifying how we are feeling and functioning. It can also be used as a way to check-in with children and ourselves. We need to be in our green zone to in order to learn effectively. It is helpful to identify what we can do to support ourselves depending which zones we find ourselves in.

What are the Zones of Regulation?

Blue Zone (rest area)

  • Sad, sick, tired, board, moving slowly
  • To support myself: talk to your friends and maybe they can cheer you up

Green Zone (go)

  • Happy, calm, feeling okay, focused, ready to learn
  • To support myself: keep having a positive mindset

Yellow Zone (slow)

  • Frustrated, worried, silly/wiggly, excited, loss of some control
  • To support myself: try not to worry and go talk to someone to get it off your chest

Red Zone (stop)

  • Mad/angry, mean, terrified, hitting/yelling, out of control
  • To support myself: walk around or get a drink

For more resources on recognizing and preventing child abuse, neglect and mental health symptoms in a virtual classroom, click here.

If you have questions or would like to enroll in our services or make a referral:

#HOPEisHere

Content Developed by:

  • Christine Clark, MAMFT, LPC, NCC
  • Anna Fortune, LPC, CPCS

When traumatization occurs due to experiences of racism it is sometimes referred to as racial trauma. Racial trauma can result from acts and experiences of racism such as workplace discrimination or hate crimes.  It can also be the result of an accumulation of many less overt occurrences, such as, everyday discrimination and micro-aggressions. Regardless of whether these racial acts are overt or not, they are traumatic to the victim of these experiences.

Watching the news right now can be overwhelming for both children and adults. The world can feel like a very unstable and unsafe place.

Understanding how to cope with traumatic racial events is important for mental health and overall wellness.

Understanding how to talk to your family and children about what is going on in the world is important for mental health and overall wellness.

Here’s some resources we’ve put together for both adults and kids:

Resources for Adults & Kids:

Resources for kids that celebrate diversity:

For cultural diversity:

How diversity makes us stronger:

Books with Protagonists of Color

A 2018 study by the School Library Journal showed that 50% of all characters in children’s books were white. 27% were animals. Populating your child’s bookcase with books featuring people of color as protagonists is an important step in combating the narrative of white domination. Here are a few of our favorites!

Preschool

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. A classic tale of joy and discovery in fresh snow.
  • The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. Nana shows her grandson the city as they travel by bus.
  • I Am Enough by Grace Byers. The main character celebrates herself in this poetic picture book.

Grades K-2

  • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. Jabari is scared to jump from the high diving board. This book helps kids understand how to confront and deal with fear.
  • Princess Hair by Sharee Miller. A beautiful, joyous celebration of all girls’ hairstyles and hair textures.
  • The Katie Woo series by Fran Manushkin. Early rider chapter books featuring a stylish and spunky heroine in relatable adventures.

Grades 3-6

  • The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdich follows an Ojibwe family through Minnesota in the mid-late 1800s.
  • The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. A sweet story of friendship and adventure. 
  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. A Newberry-Medal winning novel about an orphan’s search for home.

Grades 6 and up

  • Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor
  • For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington. A black girl in a white family finds her voice.
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. An award-winning piece of historical fiction that tells the story of a Mexican migrant farmworker in the 1930s.

Podcasts

  • About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge  (4.8 stars)
  • The Diversity Gap  (5 stars)
  • What Matters  (5 stars)
  • POD Save the People  (5 stars with 6.7K ratings)
  • You’re Pretty for a Podcast

Apps

  • The Safe Place – on Google play and in the App Store    Minority Mental Health app
  • Liberate Meditation – on Google play and in the App Store   #1 meditation app for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community

A Raw and Authentic Story

Join us as Jesaira L Glover, MA, APC, NCC, CPC, shares her story, “I Am Not My Hair”, a raw and authentic sharing from a member of the black community. Glover focuses on the physical and emotional effects of those suffering from Racial Trauma or Race-Based Traumatic Stress in today’s society:

How can Georgia HOPE help? 

If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions, an eating disorder, or just want to talk to a professional right now with everything going on, you don’t have to go through this alone. Georgia HOPE has virtual, online, programs, so that you can get the support you need.

We are currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia via TeleMental Health. We offer self-pay options as well as insurance coverage.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can submit a referral online to us to start the first steps or call us at 706-279-0405.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please contact us here.

We are all in this together. Stay well! #HOPEisHere

What Is a Traumatic Event?

A traumatic event is a scary, dangerous, or violent event that possess a threat to a child’s life. Witnessing a traumatic event that threatens life or physical security of a loved one can also be traumatic. This is particularly important for young children as their sense of safety depends on the perceived safety of those around them.

Traumatic experiences can bring out strong emotions and physical reactions that can persist long after the event. Children may feel scared, helpless or overwhelmed.

Even though adults work hard to keep children safe, dangerous events still happen. This danger can come from outside of the family (such as a natural disaster, car accident, school shooting, or community violence) or from within the family, such as domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, or the unexpected death of a loved one.

What Experiences Might Be Traumatic?

  • Bullying
  • Family or community violence
  • Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse and neglect
  • Natural and technological disasters
  • Sudden or violent loss of a loved one
  • Serious accidents or life-threatening illness
  • Military family-related stressors (e.g., deployment, parental loss or injury)

Prevalence of Traumatic Exposure & Symptoms

In a nationally representative survey of 12- to 17-year-old youth, 8 percent reported a lifetime prevalence of sexual assault, 17 percent reported physical assault, and 39 percent reported witnessing violence. Among 536 elementary and middle school children surveyed in an inner city community, 30 percent had witnessed a stabbing and 26 percent had witnessed a shooting Among middle and junior high school students in an urban school system, 41 percent reported witnessing a stabbing or shooting in the past year. (source)

In a community sample of older adolescents, 14.5 percent of those who had experienced a serious trauma developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). A recent review of research on children exposed to specific traumas found wide ranges in rates of PTSD: 20 percent to 63 percent in survivors of child maltreatment, 12 percent to 53 percent in the medically ill. 5 percent to 95 percent in disaster survivors. Based upon data from a variety of sources, a conservative annual cost of child abuse and neglect is an estimated $103.8 billion, or $284.3 million per day (in 2007 values). http://www.nctsn.org/resources/topics/facts-and-figures https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources//impact_of_complex_trauma.pdf

Things to look for with traumatized kids:

  • Anxiety, fear & worry about safety and others
  • Changes in behavior
  • Discomfort with or avoiding feelings
  • Trouble with trust and perceptions of others
  • Over- or under-reacting to bells, physical contact, doors slamming,
  • sirens, sudden movements
  • Repetitive thoughts and comments about death or dying
  • Heightened difficulty with authority, redirection, or criticism

Things to Remember with Traumatized Kids :

  • Be aware of BOTH those youth who act out AND those who are quiet.
  • Anniversaries of the event or media reports may act as reminders to
    the adolescent, causing a recurrence of symptoms, feelings, and
    behaviors.

The Importance of Relationships:

“Trauma and our response to it cannot be understood outside the context of human relationships. Whether people have survived an earthquake or have been repeatedly sexually abused, what matters most is how those experiences affect their relationships – to their loved ones, to themselves and to the world….As a result, recovery from trauma and neglect is also all about relationships – rebuilding trust, regaining confidence, returning to a sense of security and reconnecting to love….Healing and recovery are impossible – even with the best
medications and therapy in the world – without lasting, caring connections to others.” – Bruce Perry (The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog, pp. 231-232, emphasis added)

Things to Remember:

  • Healing from trauma is best done in the context of relationships.
  • So the best thing you can do is to be there, listen, and support them.
  • Take care of yourself!
  • If you notice that you feel overwhelmed or triggered by what you’re hearing,
    ask for help!
  • Don’t try to do it all on your own.
  • Referrals to professionals can be helpful supplements to the relationships you
    have with these youth.
  • Take a break!

What Resources Are Available?

Trauma is real but it doesn’t have to secure a child’s fate.

Resources available in Georgia

  • Community-based counseling
    • Community Service Boards (CSB)
    • Private Providers (i.e. Georgia HOPE)
    • Care Management Entities (CME)
    • Types: CORE, DFCS-contracted, IFI, wrap-around
  • Private Practice Providers
  • Child Advocacy Centers
  • Psychiatrists, Nurse Practitioners
  • Medical Doctors (Pediatricians)

Example of Community Interventions – Special Programs at Georgia HOPE:

Types of Services

  • Individual Counseling
  • Family Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Individual Skills-building (i.e., CSI)
  • Parent Training
  • Medication Management
  • Certified Peer Specialist (CPS)

Great Resources Available to You:

Georgia HOPE is here for you and your family during, always. Whether it’s providing tips through our blog and social media channels or online family therapy. If there is anything we can do to help you and your family, please feel free to reach out to us! HOPE is here.