Sometimes, I get really discouraged by the news. I often feel conflicted. Should I just meditate, go to yoga, read spiritual stuff and stay in my happy place?
Or should I at least attempt to stay current with what's going on in the world?
My brain tends to focus on the negative. And the more I study about how our brains work, I realize that that's how we survived as humans. We were hard-wired to focus on the "threats" in order to survive and continue our species.
So I love it when I am able to choose to focus on the positive. Last week, I met many amazing people during the Clery Center Training in Edinboro, Pa.
I met Abigail Boyer, the Assistant Executive Director for the Center, and I could see how committed she is to making a difference.
It seems like there is a shooting on college campuses every week now. And the numbers are going up on the sexual assaults being reported. Since I speak about assault prevention and response, it seems overwhelming to see the numbers going up instead of down.
And that is why I am so grateful that I attended this training. The Clery Center was founded because a student, Jeanne Clery, was brutally assaulted, then killed in her dorm room. Her parents became advocates for victims' rights and for improving campus safety, education, and response.
I sat with chiefs of police, heads of security, deans of students, professors, student activity leaders, and more, from all over the country. There is an army of people in higher education who are taking on the college campus safety issues. We are all working on better security, warning systems, and ultimately the elimination of violence on college campuses.
In the 2-day training, I listened to challenges that schools are dealing with: on campus versus off campus versus close to campus issues; having to decide if something that was reported was a "regular" crime or a hate crime, who is the proper person to be reported to, the policies and procedures for reporting, etc. and on and on. Basically, I came away with: There is a new level of accountability, education, prevention, response, reporting, and procedures -- all aimed at campus safety.
So how can I make a difference with this new knowledge? I am "just" a speaker." At least, that's what my critical voice tells me.
Well, I am an advocate for victims. And I am a bridge. I help get troubled students to the next "right" person or therapist.
I help make it safe for others to open up and tell the truth. I use humor to help deal with tough subjects and shameful emotions. I have the strength to talk about things that others do NOT want to talk about.
Because I believe that by talking about sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, domestic violence, drinking, and drugs, we can STOP the patterns. The more we educate and remove the stigma of shame, the more we can interrupt the cycles. And when even one more victim has the courage to come forth, report, ask for support, they give strength for the next victim to do the same.
Together, we can heal the campuses, and maybe even the country, or the world: one story at a time; one training at a time. And so I salute the Clery Center and all the committed, amazing people I met last week.
Rock on my brothers and sisters, rock on.
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