Still I Rise By: Maya Angelou

Still I Rise 
By: Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Sitting With The Shattered Soul

Sitting With The Shattered Soul

So how do you sit with a shattered soul? 
Gently, with gracious and deep respect. 
Patiently, for time stands still for the shattered, and 
the momentum of healing will be slow at first. 
With the tender strength that comes from an openness 
To your own deepest wounding, 
and to your own deepest healing. 
Firmly, never wavering in the utmost conviction that 
evil is powerful, but there is a good 
that is more powerful still. 
Stay connected to that goodness with all your being, 
however it manifests itself to you. 
Give freely. Take in abundantly. 
Find your safety, your refuge, and go there as you need. 
Words won't always come; 
sometime there are no words 
in the face of such tragic evil. 
But in your own willingness to be with them, 
they will hear you; 
from soul to soul 
they will hear that for which there are no words. 
When you can, in your own time, 
turn and face that deep chasm within. 
Let go. Grieve, rage, shed.

Steele, K. (1987). Sitting with the shattered soul. Pilgrimage: 
Journal of personal exploration and psychotherapy, 15, 6, 19-25.

Survivor Psalm

Survivor Psalm

I have been victimized.
I was in a fight that was
not a fair fight.
I did not ask for the fight.
I lost.
There is no shame in losing
such fights.
I have reached the stage of
survivor and am no longer a
slave of victim status.
I look back with sadness
rather than hate.
I look forward with hope
rather than despair.
I may never forget, but I need
not constantly remember.
I was a victim.
I am a survivor.

© Frank Ochberg, MD & Gift From Within-

Another Woman

Another Woman

Today another woman died
and not on a foreign field
and not with a rifle strapped to her back,
and not with a large defense of tanks
rumbling and rolling behind her.
She died without CNN covering her war.
She died without talk of intelligent bombs
and strategic targets
The target was simply her face, her back
her pregnant belly.
The target was her precious flesh
that was once composed like music
in her mother’s body and sung
in the anthem of birth.
The target was this life
that had lived its own dear wildness,
had been loved and not loved,
had danced and not danced.
A life like yours or mine
that had stumbled up
from a beginning
and had learned to walk
and had learned to read.
and had learned to sing.
Another woman died today.
not far from where you live;
Just there, next door where the tall light
falls across the pavement.
Just there, a few steps away
where you’ve often heard shouting,
Another woman died today.
She was the same girl
her mother used to kiss;
the same child you dreamed
beside in school.
The same baby her parents
walked in the night with
and listened and listened and listened
For her cries even while they slept.
And someone has confused his rage
with this woman’s only life.

-Carol Geneya Kaplan

Fear Poem By: Joy Harjo

Fear Poem
By: Joy Harjo

I release you, my beautiful and terrible fear. 
I release you. You were my beloved and hated twin,
but now, I don't know you as myself. 
I release you with all the pain 
I would know at the death of my children.

You are not my blood anymore.
I give you back to the white soldiers
who burned down my home, beheaded my children,
raped and sodomized my brothers and sisters.

I give you back to those who stole the
food from our plates when we were starving.
I release you, fear, because you hold
these scenes in front of me and I was born
with eyes that can never close.

I release you
I release you
I release you
I release you

I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black.
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full.
I am not afraid to be hated.
I am not afraid to be loved,
to be loved, to be loved, fear.

Oh, you have choked me, but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.
I take myself back, fear.

You are not my shadow any longer.
I won't take you in my hands.
You can't live in my eye, my ears, my voice
my belly, or in my heart my heart
my heart my heart
But come here, fear
I am alive and you are so afraid
of dying.
In the wake of the allegations of the Penn State scandal, please take this time to talk to your children and empower them about sexual abuse. Very few victims (8%) receive medical care for the worst incident of child sexual victimization. Only 10% make police reports, and only 33% ever spoke to a counselor at any time after the event. Can you image the actual amount of occurrences?

Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse

Nine Questions to ask of your child's existing or prospective program and the answers you should expect to hear.

I Have the Right to Protection

To be sure your child is safe, make sure any program you are considering has a more comprehensive approach to preventing sexual and other forms of child abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has defined six key components of a comprehensive approach to keeping kids safe. These include:
·         Screening and selecting employees and volunteers
·         Guidelines on interactions between individuals
·         Monitoring behavior
·         Ensuring safe physical environments
·         Responding to inappropriate behavior, breaches in policy, and allegations and suspicions of child sexual abuse
·         Training about child sexual abuse
The organization or program should be knowledgeable about who sexually abuses children and what puts children at risk to be abused. Ask how they screen employees and volunteers and be wary if they rely solely on criminal background checks. They should use written applications and personal interviews to learn about what previous experience someone has working with youth and to identify any potential warning signs.  For example, some people who sexually abuse children spend all of their time with children or youth and do not have any relationships (friendships, significant partners, co-workers) with adults.
No. Criminal background checks can give a false sense of security. Because the vast majority of child sexual abuse goes unreported, the vast majority of people who have sexually abused children will pass a criminal background check.
Too often, organizations serving kids rely solely on background checks to determine whether a person is safe to work with children. This is a very low bar. People who have sexually abused children will pass a criminal background check unless the abuse has been reported, prosecuted as a sexual crime, and the person has been found guilty.
Reference checks provide important opportunities to learn more about an applicant’s experience. When asking for references, programs should require applicants to include non-family members and should watch for gaps in references and ask about them. For example, if an applicant spent three years working at a child care facility but doesn’t list anyone from the facility as a reference, this should be discussed to understand why.
Organizations should have a policy regarding staff and youth interactions. Does the code include examples of positive interactions or is it so focused on what not to do that your child could miss out on appropriate, encouraging interaction? Are you comfortable with how they define appropriate and inappropriate interactions?
All the policies in the world won’t do any good unless they are observing interactions and taking action as needed. Organizations who take seriously the safety of children understand the importance of both observation and taking action. What procedures does the organization have for monitoring interactions? What is the procedure for bringing up concerns about interactions between adults or older youth and children? Who is designated to handle these concerns?
Safety in the physical layout can be too often overlooked. Are all areas of the space visible to others or could someone bring a child into a corner or closet without being seen by others? Do doors have windows or are they kept open so anyone walking by can see how staff are interacting with children? When you visit the space, think about how easy or difficult it will be for staff to monitor interactions. Would it be easy for someone from outside the program to gain access? Can anyone walk in or do you need to sign in?
You want to be certain that they have policies and procedures in place to deal with not only evidence of sexual abuse but breaches in policies and concerning behaviors. Some situations require an internal response while others should be handled by authorities. Organizations with policies in place are better equipped to handle concerns than those who have not.
Training is another way that organizations send a message to staff and volunteers that they are serious about keeping children safe from abuse. Training should include information on how to identify signs of abuse and when it is appropriate to make a referral. They should also know what the procedures are for making a referral and the designated staff person to handle these referrals. Training should be ongoing and refresher courses available.
It is important that even temporary staff and volunteers are made aware of the school’s child protection policy and mechanism for reporting any concerns and allegations. Some organizations even provide training to parents and other caregivers because they know the importance of knowledgeable adults in keeping children safe.

Child Abuse at Penn State

Woody Column: Paterno did what was required, but not what was needed.