Category Archives: Uncategorized

Educating Others About Domestic Violence

Many around us have an image in their heads of what domestic violence looks like: black eyes, broken bones and shuttered windows. Many believe they could spot an abusive person fairly easily: the raging person who is uncomfortable to be around. But domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, or relational abuse) takes many forms. It often looks very different than what you’d think.

18% of teens experience domestic violence by someone they are dating

Who Experiences Domestic Violence?

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” It is not discriminatory — no matter the socioeconomics, age, gender, race, orientation, or religion. Consider these statistics straight from Janedoe.org:

  • Primarily Women. 90% of all domestic violence victims are female and most abusers are male.
  • LGBT. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals are abused at approximately the same levels as heterosexual couples, but the abuse may be exacerbated by social isolation caused by societal oppression and discrimination.
  • Elders. 11% of individuals 60 or older reported experiencing abuse within the last year.
  • Children may be victims of domestic violence, hurt by being exposed to the violence and battering of a parent, and are sometimes used by perpetrators as threats of means to coerce their victims.
  • Teens. 18% of high school females and 7% of high school boys report being physically hurt by someone they are dating.
  • Immigrants. Domestic violence within immigrant and refugee communities can cause victims to be isolated socially and legally with complications due to documentation status and access issues due to language and culture. Abuse may be exacerbated by social isolation, language barriers, and lack of familiarity with local laws and services.
  • Men. 17% of men in relationships report violence committed against them by their partner.
  • Disabled. People with disabilities experience higher rates of domestic violence than the general public, often by the hand of caretakers or power relationships.

 

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can take many forms. Most media portrays it as physical or sexual, but this violence can also be financial or emotional. Abusers will use any means to control their partners in the relationship. They choose when, where, and how the abuse happens, and are often viewed by the general public as upstanding, dependable, well-adjusted people. Domestic violence can take on any of the following forms:

Physical

Physical abuse occurs when physical force is used against you in a way that injures or endangers you. It doesn’t suddenly happen overnight. There’s typically a slow escalation with verbal putdowns, veiled threats, and a gradual isolation from friends and family. Once the isolation

Questions to Ask if You Suspect Physical Abuse

  • Does your partner hit, push, slap, choke, kick, bite you or pull your hair?
  • Does your partner damage your property?
  • Does your partner burn you?
  • Does your partner refuse to let you or someone else leave?
  • Does your partner leave you in unfamiliar places?
  • Does your partner attack you with weapons?
Domestic Violence takes on many forms

Sexual

Sexual violence includes any action that hinders your ability to control your sexual activity or your ability to choose when, where, and how sexual activity happens. Anything other than consensual sex is an act of aggression and domestic violence.

Questions to Ask if You Suspect Sexual Abuse

  • Does your partner force you to have sex against your will?
  • Does your partner make you dress in a sexual way?
  • Does your partner refuse your request to use condoms or birth control?

Financial

When a partner controls the money and cash flow in the home, it could be a form of domestic violence. Removing access to finances can ensure that you can’t leave. It asserts power and control over your day-to-day life, and makes you subservient to their wishes and desires.

Questions to Ask if You Suspect Financial Abuse

  • Does your partner keep cash and credit cards from you?
  • Does your partner take your ID, money, or property without your permission?
  • Does your partner put you on an allowance and demand you justify every dollar you spend?
  • Does your partner keep you from working whatever job you want?
  • Does your partner sabotage your job by making you miss work, be late for work, or call constantly)?
  • Does your partner steal money from you or your friends and family?
  • Does your partner withhold money for basic needs?

Emotional

Emotional abuse affects how you feel about yourself. This is not just in the moment of intentional, overt abuse, but also how you feel about yourself and the world around you. Emotional abuse diminishes your feeling of self-worth and independence, making the world feel like an unsafe place.

Questions To Ask if You Suspect Emotional Abuse

  • Does your partner intimidate you?
  • Does your partner accuse you of having other relationships?
  • Does your partner threaten you, your children, family members, or pets?
  • Does your partner continually put you down or make you feel bad or stupid?
  • Does your partner keep you from contacting your friends and family?
  • Does your partner yell at you?
  • Does your partner blame you for abuse?
  • Does your partner have an unpredictable temper?
  • Does your partner withhold attention or affection?
Ways to help domestic violence victims

Ways to Help

Victims of domestic violence are often confused and scared. They second-guess themselves at every turn, apologize continually, and make excuses for their partner. They can sink into depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts. If you suspect someone is being abused, speak up! Express your concern. Mention the warning signs you’ve observed. Ask if something is wrong rather than waiting for them to approach you. Listen to them, but don’t pressure them. Don’t give advice. Instead, just offer help. Support their decisions. Be the friend who initiates and be persistent.

Additionally, educate yourself on domestic violence looks like. Read about it. Gather resources like the Power and Control Wheel. Listen to podcasts. Share encouragement. Know the local shelters and other supports for victims of domestic violence. It’s far more prevalent than most believe, so the more people who know how to be a support, a resource, and safe place for those who need it, the more chance we have in stemming the tide of domestic violence.

Updates from the Team: Philadelphia Training Recap

As part of our “Caring for the Caregivers” Program, our team travels to domestic violence-focused organizations and shelters to provide in person support and training around compassion fatigue and burnout. In March, our team was delighted to travel to Philadelphia to train over 50 Caregivers from multiple domestic violence organizations. Our founder, Indrani Goradia, was also able to attend one of the training days, providing more insight and care to our training participants.

Throughout the week we worked with staff in various arenas: medical advocates, hotline staff, legal advocates, administrators, therapists and housing advocates among others. We had lively discussions about the extraordinary situations staff encounter on a day-to-day basis and subsequently, how the pervasive stress leads to burnout and compassion-fatigue. Many of the staff shared that this stress has had an impact on their capacity to take care of the needs of their friends and family.

Our trainers actively listened and validated the Caregivers experience. We taught numerous tools designed to support staff with recognizing and setting boundaries, a fundamental practice of self-care. One staff person who has been in the field for two decades said of the boundary tools, “This has changed the way I look at everything.” We received consistent feedback that the visualization exercises were immensely helpful in preparing for having difficult conversations. An administrator commented “This exercise has helped me both personally and professionally.”

We take great joy in knowing our trainings are supporting Caregivers as they continue to do their work. For more information about our resources and support, visit our Caregiver Resources. We’re looking forward to our next training!

Practice Gratitude

gratitudeThere are benefits of expressing gratitude as a daily practice.  Specifically, scientists have been able to verify that practicing gratitude on a daily basis positively impacts well-being and has a lasting effect.

How can you use gratitude to live a brighter life?

Do you write in a journal?  Whether you own a journal or not, we want you to write a note of gratitude to yourselves:  “What is it that you are most grateful for about yourself?”  Once you’ve written this out, what feelings come up for you?  Did you find it harder to write one for yourself, as oppose to writing one for someone else?

{A CHALLENGE}

If you are feeling a bit bold today, why don’t you pick up your smart phone right now and text a message to someone you have NOT been in touch for in awhile, and tell them something you are grateful for about THEM.  We’d love to hear the response you get from them, AND how it made you feel?

If you are needing more tools to help get you motivated to live a brighter life, please let us help you.  Our Live A Brighter Life online workshop series is completely FREE, and it can be anonymous if you need to attend privately.  It’s worth every minute!  Isn’t it time to THRIVE is life, and not just SURVIVE?

Join us this summer for our 6-week Live A Brighter Life Online weekly workshop series starting Thursday, June 30th.  It’s that easy.  Click here for all of the details and a way to sign up.

With Love & Light,

Team ILF

How do you experience shame?

Feelings imageWe will feel shame in our bodies before our conscious minds do. 

In our Live A Brighter Life curriculum we teach a workshop called, “Letting Go.”  It’s purpose is to teach you tools about letting go of shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment.  But first, we need to teach you how to recognize shame.  One way to do this is using our bodies to identify shame.

If we recognize our physical responses, we can begin to identify and release our feelings, and limit the powerlessness that we feel when we are ashamed. In other words, recognizing shame is an important tool for regaining our power.

How do you experience shame?

Answer these questions:
I physically feel shame in/on my ___________________________.
It feels like_____________________________________________.
I know I’m ashamed when I feel___________________________.
If I could taste shame, it would taste like ____________________.
If I could smell shame, it would smell like____________________.
If I could touch shame, it would feel like_____________________.

Think about some physical reactions, which may include:

    • Stomach tightening
    • Nausea
    • Shaking
    • Wave of heat in the faces and chest

For most of us, recognizing and understanding our shame triggers is the same as revealing our vulnerabilities. We see our vulnerabilities as a weakness. Ironically, not acknowledging our vulnerabilities makes us weak and more vulnerable.

  • By denying your vulnerability you are also denying yourself compassion, protection, and the very ability to overcome
    shame.
  • When someone is acknowledging her vulnerability, she is courageous, not weak.

Our Live A Brighter Life online workshop series is completely FREE, and it can be anonymous if you need to attend privately.  It’s worth every minute!  Isn’t it time to THRIVE is life, and not just SURVIVE?

Join us this summer for our 6-week Live A Brighter Life Online weekly workshop series starting Thursday, June 30th.  It’s that easy.  Click here for all of the details and a way to sign up.

With Love & Light,

Team ILF

Rum Raisin Ice Cream is My Comfort Food

Rum-Raisin-Ice-Cream-Recipe-ImageI do not recall exactly when I discovered Rum Raisin Ice Cream. I think it was when I was living in New Jersey as a new bride and my husband brought it home from the store. I believe he said, “Taste this,” and he fed me a spoon of this nectar and I must have screamed and yelped, because he looked scared! (My brand of extroversion tends to be loud. I am often over the top in my enthusiasm and I tend to scare people).

So all these years of “sweet married life” later, my hubby will bring me rum raisin ice cream and I still squeal! Often times if we happen upon an ice cream store, he will ask for it on my behalf, while I am reading the favors on the wall.

I LOVE rum raisin ice cream. I also love RUM CAKE! I grew up on rum cake in Trinidad and whenever I think of the glorious cakes my mom used to make, I smile. My brother makes a great rum cake and this is what he gives me for Christmas every year.

Imagine MY absolute delight when I walked into “Neuhaus Company” the other day and saw that they had RUM CAKE ICE CREAM! (Yep! I squealed, in the store, on Madison Avenue, in Manhattan!). My extroversion is always ready to show its enthusiasm.

I was thinking… “Maybe it has raisins it in also!” So I asked for a taste. The sweet young man took a plastic spoon, smiled at me, reached into the appropriate bin and scooped out a HUGE taste. He ceremoniously reached over the tall counter and gave me the spoon. My eyes never left the bulging scoop of ice team balancing precariously on the edge of the tiny spoon. I carefully took it from his fingers and put it in my mouth as I closed my eyes….

And I ran to the trash and spat it out!
It was awful.
I did not like Rum Cake Ice cream at all!
I did not like it on a spoon. I would not like it on the moon.
I cannot tell you how much I disliked that ice cream.
I thanked the young man and bought some chocolates, which I loved, and ate one to get the taste of the rum Cake ice cream out of my mouth. Then as I walked down Madison into the cold and blustery day, I knew I had the makings of a blog post.

So here goes …..

Let us suppose that you meet a great looking guy and he is everything you wished for, and he seems to feel the same way about you. He made you feel safe, secure, protected, loved and cherished. You were all warm and fuzzy inside as you pondered a life with this man.

Then one day, as you two are having a lovely day, out of the clear BLUE …. He hits you, or verbally berates you, and you are stunned!

You look at him and he seems the same, his features are the same, his voice sounds the same but the flavor of human coming out of his mouth is horrible, distasteful and nasty, and you need to escape.

Let’s say you DO leave. You were strong enough to leave. A few days pass and he calls to apologize and gives some very sound reason for his nasty behavior, and you go back to him.

That is like me going back to the trash and picking up that nasty rum cake ice cream and eating it because I have told myself that I like rum cake, AND I love rum raisin ice cream ….. So I SHOULD love RUM CAKE ice cream. I force myself to swallow that distasteful ice cream because of some strange reasoning that I make up in my head.

Let me be clear. I know that a person is more important than ice cream. I also know that YOU are too special and lovely to accept nasty behaviors from ANY person. If you were abused as a child and you think that love looks like abuse, think again.

WATCH my TEDxTalk here:

As an adult you have the power to set boundaries that you could not set as a child.
Set your boundaries. They will protect you. When you have clear and clean boundaries, you will know in a flash what is and is not good for you. Try it.

Love and light.

Indrani

(P.S.  Did you like my TEDxTalk?  Please share it with your friends and family.  Let’s start spreading the word to live in peace within our four walls at home.   http://bit.ly/1SMK1NZ)

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/indranislight/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Indranis_Light

Instagram:  liveabrighterlife

 

Playing Coy is SO Outdated

UndecidedRecently, I was attending a meeting with some pretty influential folks.  I was only a guest and I was so happy to be included.

During the course of the meeting as the participants went around the table offering solutions to the issues at hand, I noticed there was one woman who absolutely refused to answer questions directly.  She giggled and acted coy (dipping her chin and batting her eyes), and would not give a straight answer to some very simple questions.

The questions were as simple as, “Do you want lunch?” She would dip her head and make a surprise face as if to say, “Who me, want lunch?…. giggle, giggle!” And, still would not say “Yes” or “No.” The person asking the questions was getting quite frustrated with the way it was going.

This behavior really bothered me and I had to think long and hard about why I was so bothered.

Everyone has their own way of decision-making. Some people need lots of thinking time while others can jump right in. This was not a meeting that required thinking time. It really was a quick get together of many partners to decide how an event would go.  It really was a series of yes and no questions that needed to be asked and answered so that people could know what to expect and how to prepare.

I decided I was frustrated because the woman who was being indecisive was holding up all the rest of us. Everyone was staring at her for ONE simple answer.

The more people stared, the more coy she became.

She did not stand in her power. She acted like she had no power, or even like she never heard of the word power. She had no agency. She wanted others to read her mind, or infer from her behaviors what her response would be.

It was really frustrating.

The next time you are involved with a group trying to decide something, ask yourself if you are standing in your power.

Are you bringing all the parts of yourself to the meeting?

Are you there to make it easy for your other team members or to complicate things? Are you holding back information that is crucial to the team for one reason or another?
This meeting is still fresh in my mind and I can still feel the frustration. It was just ONE person acting like this who was holding up the whole show.

Don’t be “that” person.

Be the person who wants to be part of an effective team. Life is so much better with people who show up to make things easier and smoother. We have enough obstacles in our lives that we cannot control, so let us control the way we behave, and show up to participate in helpful ways.

 

Love and light,

Indrani

Children Who Are Being Raised in the Smart Phone Era

1031_minIndrani recently posted a story on her Facebook page that launched an interesting conversation and dialog about what Indrani witnessed between a mother and her little girl at the airport. Here is the story:

At the Gate at LaGuardia.

“A little girl 7 or 8 is trying to get her moms attention. The mother is SO into her phone and she rebuffs the child at every turn.
The child tries to kiss her arm and the mom moves the arm.
The child squirms and asks a question… the woman barks,‘stop squirming!’… never looking up from the phone.
The grandma says, ‘honey don’t bother your mom.’
The girl looks really sad.

I look at the girl and I lean down so I can make eye contact and say, ‘hey I have some coloring pages and I am going to let you tear a few out, and I will give you some of my color pencils, too.’

The mom looks up. She says, ‘oh, she has coloring.’

I ignore the mom. I am focused on the child.

I give her my coloring book and tell her to tear as many as she wants out.

I show her the pencils and she shows me hers.

She starts to tear out the pages she likes, and the mom says, ‘Be careful.’
I say, ‘It’s only paper, if it tears get another.’

Now the mom is off the phone and talking to the kid.
All I did was break the damn ‘phone trance.’

 Here is some of the dialog that transpired on Indrani’s post:

 Facebook friend:It can be helpful. It’s also good to remember that sometimes, because of the way our culture has broken down, the mom may be at the end of 3 days of overwhelm, of nothing but kid, and is just needing a few minutes to zone out. She may also be trying to communicate with someone on the other end of their journey. Or…

I’ve stopped judging parents when I see them in a few moments of “imperfect parenting” because, hey, we don’t know the background.”

Facebook friend:As Mark mentions, judging may be off-the-mark, however you certainly offered love in the form of attention, paper & pencils. Bravo, Indrani. You illuminate our world with examples of love in action.”

Facebook friend:Fair point, Mark. But I’d hope a parent with a child that age would have raised the child so that a simple, “Honey, I need a couple minutes to do this” would suffice with a suggestion to do something in the kid’s travel pack of activities. The mom moving her arm really struck me when I read that. I’m trying to think of how I would have internalized that when I was that age, if my mother did that to me. Sometimes, seemingly innocuous in-the-moment gestures have long-lasting impacts.”

Facebook friend:I agree that it’s important to not judge totally on what you see. Some kids crave attention when mom is on the phone- even if they have discussed it ahead of time, they can be a pest. It is not always easy to be a perfect parent- I remember when I used to judge screaming kids in grocery stores- until I had my own. But good for you for helping at that moment.”

Facebook friend:Thank you for modeling a positive focus on the child Indrani.
Because I’ve seen these kinds of posts from you before, it helped me shift from judging a mother to “how can I add something positive for her child?” when I saw a frustrated mom in an imperfect parenting moment.

The time came when the girl was fingering the silver chain on my purse, which was sitting on the table in a coffee shop. I’d noticed she had sparkly silver shoes on, and said “Oh I really like your shoes! And they match my purse!” She got a big smile and I felt I’d given her a positive boost.

As others have said, we don’t know the background and how many meltdowns that woman may have handled beautifully in the last 24 hours. Or that maybe she was recovering from the flu. Or has a sick elderly parent. Or has worked 60 hours that week.”

There are more comments, so if you’re interested in the entire dialog, click on this link: http://bit.ly/236GVvx

Are you a parent of small children? Or have you witnessed a parent do this with their child? What are your thoughts on the self-care of parents, and how we can improve our relationship with our young children in this new age of technology?

Please comment below, or visit our Facebook page, or Twitter and tell us what you think?

 

Love & Light,

 

Team ILF

“Smile, though your heart is aching” …. Really??

SHOWIndrani wrote the blog below. While you’re reading her story, think about how you are attempting to smile through all of the chaos going on in the world right now. Are you speaking up when you hear the hatred, discrimination, and abuse that is happening in presidential campaign right now? Do you have a trusted person to confide in … someone who is aligned with your values and understands your sorrow over the latest terrorist bombing in Brussels?

In the United States, we have entered into an era of transformation, divisiveness, and uncertainty. The intense energy that is surrounding us in our country is affecting us every day. We are affected by what we see and read from our friends on Facebook and social media. We are overhearing conversations about politics…. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hilary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders in the restaurants, grocery stores, and parties. We are seeing people suffer from terrorists’ bombings on CNN.

image

What is making your heart ache about our world? Are you smiling through it? Indrani talks about how you can speak your truth, cry if you need to, and that being taught to smile through pain is a bunch of crap!

Here is Indrani ….

“There is a song by Nat King Cole that says, “Smile though your heart is aching.” While I love the song, I no longer believe the message.

I think we need to delve into why our heart is breaking and allow a cry if that’s what’s needed and then smile as we plan a strategy to live more fully and to get away from negatively charged people and situations.

I believe that we had been sold a bunch of crap when we were being taught to smile through pain even torment.

It is this cultural brainwashing of not speaking up when things are bad or trying to keep up appearances that nothing is wrong, that gets us into lots of emotional quagmires.

We need to have trusted people in whom we can confide.

We need to tell our stories to safe people and we need to hear ourselves speak the pain out loud. Not in a way that looks like verbal vomit, but in a way that looks like true release.

Often times, just by allowing ourselves to speak the pain can ease the strangle hold that the pain seems to have.

We must, however, be careful with whom we offer our vulnerabilities. Showing someone how vulnerable you are is a gift to them and to you. You need to be sure that people can respect the gift you give.

I hope you can find true confidants and can be a true confidant to someone in need.”

Love and light,


Indrani

What are you doing to speak your truth? How are you managing your heartache these days? We’d love to hear some stories from all of you. Maybe your story can help others. Share your story below, or on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/indranislight/. You can also Tweet Indrani at @indranis_light.

What is the Caregiver Project?

Some of you are wondering what our Caregiver Project is all about.  Well, let’s start by defining the word, “Caregiver.”  There are a few variations of the definition, but this is the one that best fits our mission:

“Relatives, friends, or professionals who provide a wide range of paid, or unpaid care to dependent relatives, friends and/or people needing physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual support. Caregiving is the action of providing care to these individuals.”

Caregiving can include:

  • Emotional and social support (e.g. visiting, transportation, talking about emotions)
  • Finding and accessing services (e.g. housing, medical supports)
  • Behavioral support (e.g. communicating effectively, managing challenging behaviors)
  • Financial help (e.g. financial support, managing finances)
  • Practical assistance with basic activities of daily living (e.g. housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation)
  • Personal care (e.g. help with monitoring medication, bathing)
  • Physical help (e.g. assistance with movement, supervision, direct medical care)

Overarching all of these activities, caregiving is the assumption of responsibility for providing care, along with the concern, worry and emotional involvement this entails.

Why is ILF involved with the Caregivers at women’s shelters?

Early last year, the founder of ILF, Indrani Goradia, began talking with the staff of shelter facilities who were caring for victims of violence.  They began sharing their concerns for the high turnover rate of staff within their organizations, and the burnout that naturally happens due to the nature of this work.

Indrani quickly went into action.  She knew if we were losing these passionate people who work with victims of violence, we could lose the shelters, or cut the number of women, men, and children who need be housed.   Now, how could ILF help?  We can train and educate the shelter staff (the Caregivers) how to keep from burning out.

 

What we teach the Caregivers?

  • Our trainers are teaching the caregivers about different tools they can use for self-care, and lead a more balanced life.
  • We educate caregivers on how to recognize their own triggers of shame, guilt, and humiliation that effect their work and personal lives.
  • We help them improve their personal boundaries, and how to say “No” to things that compromise their well-being.
  • And we remind them that they matter, that they are loved, and that they are “seen,” for the work they do.

 

Where can we teach the Caregiver Project?

  • We can send our trainers to anywhere in the United States, and some areas of Canada.
  • We teach in women’s shelters and organizations that directly have contact with victims of violence.
  • We are currently training ILF trainers all over the world to help us reach the caregivers in other countries.

 

How much does the training cost?

We offer the Caregiver Training at NO COST to the shelter or organization.  We do, however, rely on donations to fund the 2-day training class. The training requires two certified ILF trainers, and the cost for travel, transportation, food, supplies, and pay for the entire training is approximately $5,000.00.

How can you help us with the Caregiver Project?

  • You can SPREAD THE WORD! Use social media, email, or mention us at a party or event. (facebook.com/indranislight  Twitter: @indranis_light)
  • You can BECOME AN ILF TRAINER! We will be offering the Train-the-Trainer Course every year to certify trainers to teach our ILF curriculum to their own communities and shelters.
  • You can DONATE! Here is where you can donate ANY AMOUNT to help our Caregiver Project, or any other area of our mission to end domestic violence.

 

We need your feedback. 

  1. What do you think of the project?
  2. Is this something you would love to support?
  3. How would you like to support us?
  4. What more could we do?

 

If you have already supported our mission in any way, we want to extend our deepest gratitude.  If you would like to do more, or maybe you haven’t taken the step to support us yet, please reach out to our Director of Education and Training, Amy Dier, at amy@indranislight.org.  She will be more than happy to talk with you about your options.

 

Love & Light,

 

Team ILF

 

Have you earned the “look” in your child’s eye?

child-636022_640The look of love
The look of fear
The look of contempt

Those looks you hate?

It may not be their fault.

It may be because of the choices you made, the choices WE made as parents of these incredible children we have been given.

As a child, sustaining repeated and persistent abuse, I had a significant thought…

Why did you have me?

This took many other word forms such as:

Why did you have a child?
Why did you have another child?

I am not blaming the way children turn out on their caregivers; I am reminding caregivers to make better choices so that we can say that we tried our very best when our children have the “looks” that are “cringeworthy.”

We must try our best every minute of every day.

It is on us. Every ONE of us. All the time.
 

Love and light,

Indrani