Family Life

My mom survived breast cancer. Am I next?

On average, an estimated 15.2% of new cancer cases in the United States are women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. That means that 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. 

These statistics are indicative of families, touched eternally by a cancer that is more than just a disease – it is linear. Breast cancer often weaves a thread, mangled in fate and fear, through mothers, daughters, and sisters alike. The survivors among them are the superheroes of nearly every generation of women, powering through all of the anxiety, body disfiguring surgeries or treatments, and impromptu decision-making associated with the onset of such an illness. They take this disease and nip it in the bud, almost passively, acknowledging the unforgiving weight that will forever be weighing down their bodies and minds. 

In some cases, before these women can even think about what comes next, they are sewed up, stripped, and shaved. Left without any sensation in their breast area after a mastectomy, and feeling less and less whole with every visit to the oncologist. It is hard for most women to even feel at home in their bodies anymore. 

In February of 2017, my mother sat in a bleak and claustrophobic doctor’s office for her regular mammogram visit and heard the dreadful words that every woman lives in fear of, “I think we’re going to need to take a second exam. There may be cancer.” 

There was. 

She has told me that she spent most of her life, 38 years to be exact, in terror of what was surely to come. When my mother was 17 years old, the same age that I had been when she was diagnosed, her mother passed away after a long and debilitating battle with breast cancer. Afterward, this disease became a constant threat. So, in some ways, her diagnosis was more of a relief than anything else.

For me, however, it was excruciating. I had a hard time fathoming the enormity of it. Often, I would find myself drenched in hot and burning tears, unable to put into words what I was feeling. I was incoherent and unable to be comforted. I really hated it when people tried to comfort me, too—it felt condescending. I didn’t want to need them.

But, at the same time, I wasn’t even close to being the strong person that I presented to the world. I was falling hard—and fast. Most days, I would go to school or hang out with my friends, but the entire time I felt as if there were a million knives stabbing my chest at any given moment, and I couldn’t help it. Sometimes, I even liked feeling the pain. If my mom had to suffer, then, I thought, so did I. 

Years later I’m able to articulate my thoughts a little more clearly. I was terrified, desperate, and I didn’t know where to turn. So much was happening all the time and I was grieving my old self. That is, the self that hadn’t yet felt such complete and sunken remorse. There was this urgency to do everything right. In a situation like that, there’s no room for mistakes and I was incredibly nervous that I would mess up. Or maybe I was nervous that something would mess me up. Either way, I changed a lot that year. 

Unfortunately, our story is not an uncommon one. 

A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer increases if her mother, sister, or daughter has been diagnosed. In addition, women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene are at an increased risk of breast cancer than women who do not carry the gene. 

My mom is thankfully, and gracefully, in remission today. Her fight seemed, on the outside, to be continuous and suffocating. But, she is a survivor, bold and vivacious, in all of her glory. She has the scars and the strength to prove it, too. 

I am well aware that my risk of this disease is high. But, I am also confident that this does not mean that it is a death sentence. Regardless of being only 21 years old, I am diligent in conducting breast exams on myself at least once a month in an attempt to detect any early warning signs of breast cancer. What I search for is any abnormal lumps or changes in the breast tissue/skin. 

The good news is that with advancing technologies the survival rate of people diagnosed with breast cancer is steadily increasing, even though the number of people getting sick remains stagnant. 

Any cancer diagnosis is terrifying, but breast cancer for me feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I won’t be able to stop being overwhelmed by this sharp and unrelenting nervousness until it is completely out of my system. And we all know that there is only one way for that to happen. 

For now, I am trying to focus on what I am able to control. Breast cancer is certainly not one of those things. But, I am in control of my mindset. While it is important for me not to let my guard down, at some point I have to just let go and let it be. I trust that fate will run its course. 

I come from a long legacy of confident and courageous women, all beautiful and bountiful in their own right. So, it would be a disservice if I did not take their wisdom and hold onto it tightly. I mean, I watched while my own mother boldly stared her fears directly in the face. She never skipped a beat, not even for a second. Her resilience against a disease that is otherwise overbearing is nothing short of inspiring and I am so proud of her. Because of her, I am starting to think that maybe I can handle it too, that maybe I can be as brave as her, when and if the day comes. 

I am not alone in my fear, although it may seem like it sometimes. I am one of millions living and feeling these same anxieties at full volume, so I must not let it overcome me. Instead, I have to remind myself to be introspective and to keep moving forward.


Here’s why tattoos are more than just skin deep

There has always been a lingering, extremely negative stigma around tattoos. Whether that be the impression that they’re a reckless craft or profession, that they’re a reflection of unprofessionalism on the wearer, or that the kind of person who gets tattoos is a bad influence and misguided. My whole life, the narrative that tattoos are associated with illegal activities and reckless behaviour has been practically embedded into my social imagining. For a while, I believed it too. I thought that having a tattoo very much meant being unsuccessful in the career that I chose and that I would be going against the picture that had been painted for me. And in doing so, I would be letting everyone around me down, everyone who played some kind of part in raising me. Funnily enough, these are the same people who told me countless times that it is important to march to the beat of my own drum and to be the captain of my own ship. Go figure.

Especially being a girl, I’ve been told that tattoos are ugly, inappropriate, and distasteful. That the second I taint my body with ink, the body that is also supposed to be my own canvas, my worth diminishes dramatically. People start to look at me differently. I am no longer the girl that they thought I was. In a matter of seconds, their entire perception of me changes and everything they know about me is altered. 

This is the reality for so many young people and it is incredibly disheartening because most tattoos, if not all, can hold a deeper meaning. Plus, it shouldn’t even matter if the tattoo is meaningful or not, as long as the person adorned by it is happy and comfortable. Tattoos can be an exceptional medium for self-expression. Every little detail in a tattoo is an example of individuality that is impossible to replicate because everyone’s skin and everyone’s intent is entirely different. 

Most tattoos are real-life embellishments drenched in symbolism and motifs, and if you really think about it, tattoos are beautiful beyond being art. They are meant to be read like a book and tell you something about the wearer. You can learn a multitude of unspoken stories about a person just by looking at their tattoos, and these are usually the things that are most dear to their heart and truly make them who they are. These are the things that they’re so determined to never let go of that they literally make it a part of their skin and their blood. They tell you stories of growth, romance, culture, grief, passion, religion, wit, and determination. People wear art that speaks to them and makes them feel something. Tattoos are a love story in and of themselves. 

I cherish my tattoo. It’s a very small pink dove near my left rib cage. I was 18 years old at the time that I got it done. Most people thought that I was acting in defiance, that I was being rebellious, and that I would regret it eventually. 

Well, they were all wrong. 

I wasn’t being defiant and I will never regret it. I got my tattoo because it is something that I knew I needed to do for myself if I was ever going to move past what had happened, if I was ever going to move forward. That year, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy. With all of those odds against her, she survived. She is the strongest woman that I’ve ever known and will ever know. 

But still, the pressure and the helplessness that I felt and continue to feel can sometimes seem never-ending. I can never shake that fear, no matter how relieved I am to be out of the thick of it. So, I decided to commemorate the moment with something meaningful that is mine, and mine entirely. 

My favorite quote from the novel Jane Eyre says this: “I am no bird and no net ensnares me, I am a free human being with an independent will.” That quote seemed to describe what I was feeling, and really what I needed to be told, effortlessly. So, my bird is pink for breast cancer. I got it as a daily reminder of strength, resilience, and soaring above the ashes, just as my mother did. I too can soar.

Gender Inequality

Male survivors are getting left behind. It is time we talk about them.

{Trigger warning: discussions of rape and sexual violence]

Up until 2012, the FBI assumed that only women could be victims of sexual assault. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, through which the Bureau collects annual crime data, defined “forcible rape” as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will”. (Italics mine)

This may surprise you, but it also perfectly encapsulates how sexual violence is viewed in many societies as a gendered crime with the perpetrator always a man and the victim always a woman. This myth has persisted despite being contradicted by plenty of data.

For example, in the US, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC)’s comprehensive country-wide 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSV) found that men and women had had “a similar prevalence of nonconsensual sex in the previous twelve months”: 1270 million women and 1267 million men. Lara Stemple speaks of another study, this time conducted in 12 US colleges and universities between 2005 and 2011, found that “4 percent of men and 7 percent of women have experienced forced sexual intercourse during college.” A 2005 survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 46,700 men (and 126,100 women) had experienced sexual violence over the past 12 months. In Canada, a registered charity made up of sexual assault center representatives, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS), claims that 10 – 20 percent of all men will experience sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Male survivors of sexual violence face a long, uphill battle if they chose to speak up about what happened to them.

James Landrith, 21, woke to find himself being straddled by a pregnant woman who had drugged and unclothed him. When he tried to resist, she told him he could hurt her baby. It took Landrith two decades and extensive therapy to call this encounter ‘rape’. Now a sexual violence activist, he writes “when sexual violence is discussed with regard to male survivors, there is often resistance, condescension, and outright mockery by people who quite often have not experienced such violence themselves.”

Masculinity is constructed on cultural ideas of strengths, sexual promiscuity, and stoicism. Many male survivors find their experiences dismissed by being told that they should have fought their assailants off, or hearing that a ‘real’ man would enjoy any sexual encounter.

When Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews shared his own #MeToo story of being assaulted at a party, the comedian DL Hughley mocked him saying “God gave you muscles so you can say ‘no’.” Recently, one of Pakistan’s most famous filmmakers, Jami Azad, took to Twitter to share his own experience of sexual abuse, and met with jeers and surprise that “a grown man can be raped by another individual.”

Men who have faced sexual violence are often told that getting erect or ejaculating during a forced sexual encounter must mean that they enjoyed it, or that only gay men face sexual abuse, or that men who have been raped will go on to become rapists. Organizations dedicated to helping male survivors work hard at countering these myths, noting that erection/ejaculation are physiological responses that can occur even in situations that are not pleasurable, that abuse can happen regardless of sexual orientation, that being abused doesn’t necessarily translate into turning into an abuser later in life.

In a certain way, male survivors can find themselves isolated by the language and activism of the feminist movement that has done so much to bring justice to female victims of sexual violence. Before the 1970s, rape and other forms of sexual coercion were largely seen as a result of sexual attraction. Starting with Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will, feminists in the ‘70s successfully permeated cultural consciousness with the idea that rape was about power/control and not attraction. This framing did a lot to help shift the conversation away from victim-blaming to holding the perpetrator accountable.

And yet, it allowed victims who were not women to slip between the gaps. Brownmiller herself once insisted that “strictly a crime of men against women” and that a woman raping a man was an “impossibility”. We see echoes of this idea in our current legal definitions of sexual assault as well. As previously mentioned, the FBI’s definition of rape only made space for female survivors until 2012 when the definition was amended to refer to a victim as anyone who had been penetrated. This, however, still excludes many male victims. The CDC has a new category dealing with sexual violence; awkwardly phrased as “made to penetrate”, it offers more comprehensive ground to male survivors.

Biased legal frameworks can often lead to heart-breaking and angering court judgments. For example, Kansas court ruled (in 1993) that Shane Seyer had to pay child support to his former babysitter, who was impregnated with his child when he was 13 and she 17. Some countries around the world still don’t recognize that men can be raped.

These societal and legal barriers mean that coming forward is often difficult for male survivors, and many male survivors do not report being raped. This means that they deal with their trauma without the support they should have, and this trauma often leads to depression, anger, anxiety, damaged romantic and personal relationships, feelings of ‘weakness’, and mood swings.

Helping male survivors is a long process. As the feminist fight against rape culture has shown, dealing with violence of this magnitude which is so deeply entrenched in culture means questioning broad cultural assumptions. We should stop asking men to be strong and silent as a facet of masculinity, investigate legal and court biases when it comes to male victims, challenge mockery like prison-rape jokes, and do much, much more. As #MeToo has shown us, there is a lot of work to be done to make sure each of us can live a safe and dignified life.

Tech Career Advice Now + Beyond

6 stages of reality when cancer bites your 30-something butt

The Doctor: “I am 99% sure you have lymphoma [cancer of the lymph nodes]. We have to do a biopsy.”

The Shock

What are you talking about? I’m only 38 years old. I’m the healthiest person I know – I eat clean, exercise… It’s just a cough!

The Denial

I’m 99% sure you’re an idiot. I’m getting a second opinion.

The Fear

What if they’re right? How soon will I die? How much will the treatment hurt?

The Anger

Why me? I give my time generously to others; I give my money generously to charity… Why the fuck am I the first of my 30-something friends to get cancer?

The Sadness

My kids… My husband… My mom… my sister… abandoning them. And the chemotherapy… they’re all going to see me struggle with pain, fatigue, and hair loss. It’s going to be so hard on all of us.

The Acceptance

Well, all I can do is put my faith in science and God and see where we end up.

The Reality

OK, so I’m sick. But that’s only part of my life. I’m also a mom, a wife and a badass boss lady. I’ve got things to do and places to be! The chemo means good days and bad – I’d say about half and half. I squeeze as much as I can into my good days.

I am extremely lucky: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is highly treatable and my prognosis is excellent. It took me some time to be thankful enough for this, of course.

I don’t want to make light of it – the bad days are bad. The nausea is under control (great meds!) but the fatigue is debilitating. For a bubbly busy bee like myself to be confined to bed because I cannot even roll over is hard, frustrating as hell. All my bones and joints ache. Then there’s the constant headache. My bad days are not actually dispersed – they come in blocks. So if the “badness” starts on Sunday, it could continue without reprieve until Thursday. I don’t feel better after a two-hour nap: I sleep and wake up feeling like shit. Do you know how demoralizing it is to wake up exhausted? And how lonely it is, on every level?

There’s also some irony in disease – everyone around you suddenly has a fucking PhD in cancer. They know why you got it – “it’s your diet”, “it’s your stress”, “it’s the pollution”, etc. and they know how to cure it – diet, water fast, affirmations, hypnosis, etc. My coping mechanism with all this (often conflicting) noise is to say – please share the clinical trials and I will look into it.

Well-meaning people keep telling me how strong I am – for the record, I know how strong I am. I am damn strong. And the universe knows it too. No reason to keep testing me!

And then on Day 6 or so post-chemo, the clouds will suddenly part and I’ll get a burst of energy. Hallelujah! And I start buzzing around doing my thing before the cycle starts again two weeks later.

What do I do?

I’m a full-time lota things! I have two babies; I am the chapter president of Ellevate, the world’s premier businesswomen’s network; I am the creator and host of podcast When Women Win which highlights awesome female role models; I am an angel investor, author and speaker. In summary, I’m busy.

The Silver Lining

It is critical to note that everybody’s experience with cancer is unique. For me, getting sick has also been a gift. I hear the groans and I know where you’re coming from. But please hear me out!

Cancer has forced me to slow down and re-evaluate my pace of life. My 2018 hashtag is #doless. I am a positive, energetic person with a natural tendency to say yes – but I am reigning that in. Just because I have a lot of energy does not mean I have to give it all away. I have learned that time is one’s most precious commodity and I am now trying to control it unapologetically. 17 years in the corporate world taught me a lot – but not this. I have to get better at saying no.

We stumble through life thinking that death is bad and is the opposite of life. That is simply not true. Death is the natural and inevitable conclusion of life. The opposite of life is fear. I had never felt fear until I was diagnosed.

Let’s noodle that for a bit: I’ve only just realized that I’ve never before felt fear – what an awesome job my parents did! But cancer will scare you – fear of going through pain, fear of inflicting pain on others… When I let my mind go into fear it is debilitating and depressing. This is the opposite of life. I’ve decided to own my fear: I let myself indulge in morbidity for short periods of time (minutes, not hours). I then assume control and focus on gratitude –  one’s situation can always be worse. I believe that three factors have helped me manage my fear:

1) Logic: my prognosis is good. And living in fear is so upsetting it must be harmful to my recovery (end goal).

2) Faith: I have a great medical team and am doing all that can be done. My life is divinely guided and I am always going in the best direction.

3) Optimism: I like feeling good!

When you lose your hair, it’s not just the from your head or face – no bikini wax necessary! Smooth as silk for months! Cancer patients also get free valet parking at hospitals – don’t knock the small wins!

The big one is kindness. I’ve been blown away by how wonderful the people around me have been. Even acquaintances I haven’t seen for years… Friends have been incredibly supportive by doing, not just talking. Although it seems all the love stops at IKEA’s door – I STILL can’t get anyone to go there for me!

Seriously though, the kindness has been humbling. And, it makes me wonder what a beautiful world it would be if we treated everyone like they were sick. Unlike cancer, kindness is contagious.


I’m two-thirds of the way through my chemotherapy plan and have already learned a ton about life, about myself and about others. I have a new belief now: there is always something to feel thankful for.

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Love Life Stories

My husband tried to break my body and soul. But when I tried to leave, Canada fought to stop me.

After enduring a great deal of psychological and emotional abuse at the hands of my ex-husband, I had to endure an equal amount of suffering as a client of the legal system. I had to spend thousands of dollars to get straightforward, and logical legal advice. 

In best-case scenarios, custody applications are time-consuming and draining both at the emotional and financial levels. 

My own experience was deeply painful, as it put me back in the abusive dynamic that I was trying to escape through the exact same legal system.

In the eyes of the court, I had committed the unacceptable: I changed the residence of my minor children (ages 3 and 5), without the consent of their father. This was far more important in the eyes of the court, than the abuse that our small children had witnessed.

This was something that I had dealt with for years. I endured the suffering while caring for my children, finishing my graduate studies, and attending to the father’s daily, exaggerated needs, even at the intimate level. 

I had no right to say “no.” I was living as a slave.

Regardless of what I did, I remained the bad, negligent, wife who came from a divorced family.

After 4 years of marriage, I realized that I couldn’t continue lying to myself. I was investing my time and energy in a failed cause. 

Simply put, my ex-husband did not want to be pleased. Rather, his wish was to control me: body, mind, and soul.

Although this realization was essential, it was costly. As I confronted my ex-husband with my feelings and tried to set boundaries for myself, his denial grew. We were drifting apart every single day and I knew that we were heading for divorce, in slow motion.  

His emotional and verbal abuse escalated into physical abuse, in front of our kids on two occasions.

He threatened to take my children away from me, which made me submit to him further. Regardless of my parents’ advice to seek a divorce, I decided to remain in the relationship. I was scared of reacting or speaking out. I internalized everything until finally, my body could not keep going. I got severely sick and I had to leave, so I returned to my home city with my children.

After six months, which included a failed attempt at reconciliation and his constant demands to take the kids to for a visit in his home country, I started an application of separation, custody and child support, in my new province of residence. 

Two months later, I became the defendant in his province of residence due to a motion of jurisdiction. His verbal and emotional abuse was transferred from the private sphere to the public sphere in the courtroom.

The process was lead by his aggressive and awful lawyer. 

In the eyes of the judges, I was deserving of what happened to me because I wear the headscarf.  In fact, one judge even stated in his ruling that it was a challenge for him to understand “our culture.”

I learned then that justice is not culture blind. If your culture justifies abuse, the legal system doesn’t feel the need to protect you. 

The law only protects White Canadian women.

After enduring 6 years of marriage where I was deprived of making personal decisions, I had to give authority over my life and the lives of my children to the legal system. The fact that I’d made numerous sacrifices for the survival of my family, didn’t matter anymore.

My mental health and my parental capacities were challenged. A psychologist was hired to counter the recommendations of the court’s social worker. The psychologist’s report advocated for their father’s parental capacities and indirectly claimed that I fabricated the abuse. In my own defense, I had to open my medical files and bring my family doctors from both provinces to attest to my mental health.

The process was humiliating, draining, and terrifying.  I was continuously faced with the possibility that I would lose my children.

In the end, the judge’s final court ruling contradicted the recommendation of the social worker on the case. Their father was given full custody in the summertime, which meant that my very young children would be completely separated from their mother two months out of every year. 

And he was granted visits with them throughout the year.

I had very limited leisure time with the kids, and I had to commute back and forth to facilitate visits with their father. Indirectly, I remained a slave, running my life according to the wishes of my ex.

Luckily, my parents had the financial means to pursue an appeal. The judges for the appeal concluded that the first decision was not in the best interest of the children. I was granted full custody, extra time with the kids during the summer, and liberated from the responsibility of commuting the kids to their father’s city.

This victory was still pricey. 

Spending almost the entire summer without my kids was similar to amputating my soul. 

It was heartbreaking to hear my four-year-old tell me that he missed me and that “this is too long” for him to be away from me.  I was powerless, and I had to learn to master the art of letting go. The art of accepting something that I could not change, hoping there may be good in it later on.

While my experience as a wife and a client of the legal system was painful, it taught me how to find strength in the midst of my weakest moments, in order to take care of my children and myself. It was a process of self-discovery that made me realize that regardless of the invisible scars that I carry, I should be proud of my accomplishments.

Yes, I have endured a great amount of suffering. 

At the same time, I have challenged perceived norms and cultural barriers and overcome legal obstacles because I was concerned about the emotional safety of my adorable and beloved children.

I would be lying if I told you that my invisible scars are no longer painful.

 I have learned to accept them, as they will always remind me of the courage and the strength that have made me a survivor – rather than a victim of abuse.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

When I found my ex on Tinder I didn’t just swipe left – I reported him

When I first signed up for Tinder, I mentally prepared myself for what to do if I ever found my ex on there. I always thought I’d just “swipe left” and move on. But when the moment came, I couldn’t just pass over his profile. I stared blankly at his pictures and wondered why on Earth he was dating.

I decided to report his profile for harassment. 

I really wasn’t trying to be petty. I do wish my previous partners have a chance in love again, but I couldn’t bear the thought of this particular one, who has a history of being manipulative and abusive, hurting another woman like he hurt me.

He was my first serious relationship. I didn’t know anything about dating and abuse.

Looking back, I realized that I always stressed over all the shortcomings he complained about. I was always focused on what changes I should make for him instead of figuring out the problems we had together. He was never there when I needed him and he didn’t believe in compromising.

I was unaware of my right to say “no”. There were numerous instances when I wasn’t in any mood for sex but he’d still make it happen. I became delusional thinking it was an okay thing to do. I laid in bed feeling like my dignity had just been taken away. I felt like I had no control over my body. 

I felt like a tool used to keep him satisfied.

My closest friends were always concerned and asked me why on earth would I not refuse. I gave them mixed answers. But deep inside I was afraid of denying him. I was afraid of feeding his anger.

I always thought that it was okay for him to pour his frustration and stress on me all the time and then pretend that nothing he did was wrong the following day. There were nights when we would get into an argument after our date and he would make me walk home alone in the dark. If I made him even more furious during an argument, he would slut shame me and make me feel like no one else has loved me except him.

I used to argue with my parents so much about my relationship. My mother couldn’t stand the way he hurt me. His influences got me to turn my back against my family and friends. I always thought that his opinion was the only right answer. 

I didn’t follow my intuition and eventually, I felt depressed and isolated.

I didn’t realize how much our relationship jeopardized my health until I ended up in the emergency from an anxiety attack. When he found out, he told me how much of an “embarrassment” I was because he knew some of the people that worked in our local hospital. He complained to me throughout my entire recovery instead of reflecting on the pain he caused.

I remember vividly how he kept questioning my anxiety. He thought everything I did was for attention. I remember how my physician lightly talked to him about how necessary it was to be understanding, but my ex managed to center the conversation on himself. Instead of thinking about the damage that we both caused in the relationship, all he thought about was himself and what he deserved. 

His ego was always in the way of our communication.

After that, he would always make assumptions that my decisions were irrational because of my diagnosis. Regardless of taking treatment and medications, he still believed that I was weak, dramatic, and not in the right mind to be in a relationship

Our arguments increased in toxicity, and eventually, they became physical. He used to grab my arms and squeeze them so tightly that he left marks on my forearm. I would fight back.

 I slapped him across the face couple times in an attempt to make him stop treating me the way he did. The following day, he’d make me feel guilty and tell me that I was an abuser. 

I’d cry for days, hating that I’d let myself get to that point.

Hitting someone was the last thing I’d ever wanted to do.

I didn’t feel like myself anymore. And I woke up one morning realizing that this isn’t the kind of life I wanted.

I gave up on my health, my friends, my family, work…basically my life. I hid the abuse from everyone. I didn’t want people to think of me as a victim. I didn’t need that sympathy because it was already painful to know how much I’d let myself go.

When our relationship ended, all I could think about was how I didn’t deserve to be with anyone. I was afraid of entering another relationship because I didn’t want to experience the same thing all over again. I didn’t want to hurt another man, and I didn’t want to be hurt.

It took me a while to pick up my confidence again. I started doing things I’d always wanted to do that were out of my comfort zone.

I started to get into photography. 

I took portraits of my relatives, friends, and even their own families and it helped me gain confidence and feel the love that I did deserve.

They opened my eyes of what I was truly capable of.

And as for dating, I’m back on the scene and have been taking things really slow.

When I saw him on Tinder, everything came flooding back. Part of me just wanted to swipe left, ignore him, and move on with my life, like I’d worked so hard to do. I wish dating apps would at least consider doing background checks, but since they don’t, I felt like it was my duty to let someone know how dangerous he is.

I knew I couldn’t let another woman be a victim of his abuse.

Was it petty? Nope. It was a public service.

Politics The World

Betsy DeVos just made being a woman on a college campus so much scarier

In September 2017, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that she and her department believed the Obama-era guidelines on handling sexual assault on college campuses went too far in regards of accused sexual abusers.

The investigations of sexual assaults fall under the Title IX federal law, which protects individuals based on sex in education environments, including sports and other activities.

What are the new guidelines?


The “Dear Colleague” letter was issued in 2011 by the Obama administration and gave guidelines to universities in the handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Obama-era guidelines instructed universities to use the lowest standard of proof when deciding whether a student was responsible for sexual assault. But Betsy DeVos claimed that “one person denied due process is one too many,” and the guidelines were officially scrapped in late September.

The Education Department now says that universities do not have to adhere to the lowest standard of proof, and instead, must raise it to a standard of “clear and convincing evidence.” Supposedly, this is to avoid wrongfully incriminating the accused and to protect their rights and privacy. What it really means, however, is that sexual assault victims, who oftentimes have a hard enough time receiving justice and help, will have an even steeper uphill battle.To add insult to injury, DeVos met with groups who strive to give even more privilege and leeway to rapists and sexual abusers at the expense of women’s safety and health: “men’s rights” groups, including The National Coalition for Men . The NCFM claims to be politically neutral, but is notorious for victim-shaming, attacking feminism, and using delegitimizing phrases such as “fake abuse victims.”

How do these guidelines contribute to rape culture?


The rollback of the old guidelines, the enforcement of the new guidelines, and DeVos’s willingness to speak and work with men’s rights activists are both a reflection of the sickening rape-culture in America and a perpetuation of it. The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network reports that out of 1,000 rapes, 994 abusers walk free, and only 310 incidents are ever reported to police.

Victims (most oftentimes women) are blamed for their assaults; others criticize what they were wearing, how much they had to drink, or how they weren’t using enough “common sense” in the situation. Victim-blaming is insidious, working in the favor of the accused and in the favor of men in general. It especially works in the favor of white men, who tend to receive more lenient sentences, if they are convicted at all.

What about universities’ blatant disregard of the Obama-era guidelines?


Of course, the Obama-era guidelines may not have been perfect, or at least not perfectly enforceable. Universities still manage to mishandle cases of rape allegations, and many schools try to sweep sexual assaults under the rug to avoid outrage from students, parents, and the general population. It’s no secret that schools like Baylor University have a disturbing history of putting athletes before sexual assault victims. Sports bring in money and prospective students; rape allegations damage a school’s reputation.

Some victims have even voiced support for bypassing the university’s system of reviewing sexual assault cases in favor of going straight to local police departments. So, the issue is not that the initial guidelines were not good tools that offered protection to sexual harassment and violence; rather, the issue is that some universities are more interested in protecting their images than they are advocating for sexual assault victims.

Instead of getting rid of the Obama-era guidelines all together, the Education Department should have restructured it to more adequately benefit victims, not the accused. The new guidelines are not a solution. They are a perpetuation of male privilege and a refusal to take women’s experiences seriously. The guidelines will make it even harder to find someone responsible for rape or sexual harassment, and they will degrade, discourage, and demonize assault victims.

The Tempest Radio Uncategorized Mixes Audio + Visual

STICK IT TO THE MAN: The Challenging Authority Mix

To quote Jack Black’s character from School of Rock, “the world is run by the man.” Every day we face oppressive forces in our society be it racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. that are meant to hold us back. But we don’t have to sit idly by and take the injustice. This mixtape is all about standing up for yourself and sticking it the man. It features female artists who, like yourself, are sick and tired of the stereotypes, expectations, and constraints society has placed on them. If the man’s got you feeling down know that you’re not alone, and find inspiration in these songs so you can go out there and stick it to the man yourself.

Aretha Franklin- Respect 

Aretha Franklin
The Daily Beast

Aretha Franklin knows that she deserves her partner’s respect, and she’s not going to give in until she gets it. This song is a great reminder to all women that we deserve respect in our relationships. And it can also be applied as an anthem to the civil rights movement and fight for equality, because the basis of human rights is respect for all people regardless of identity. 

Joan Jett-Bad Reputation 

Joan Jett
Guitar World

In this song, Joan Jett offers up the ultimate middle finger to outdated gender roles and anybody who tries to police women’s behavior. As the lyrics express, Jett doesn’t give a damn if her behavior has given her a bad reputation, because “a girl can do what she wants to do” regardless of if society approves or not.

M.I.A- Paper Planes

Always Judging

This song is a parody for how people in the US, as well as the government, view immigrants as scary and threatening. M.I.A mocks the idea that immigrants and refugees are just here to “take your money” without contributing anything to society. Although this has become a popular talking point by some politicians, immigrants are no different than people born in American in that they’re just trying to do their best to get by.

Destiny’s Child- Survivor

Destiny's Child

This song is the perfect anthem for anyone who’s ever had been told by an ex partner that you wouldn’t be able to live without them. This is obviously not true and Beyoncé, Michelle, and Kelly are here to remind you that you’re a survivor and don’t need that kind of negativity. After all, the best revenge is to just live your life and show how much better off you are without them.

Hayley Kioko- Girls Like Girls 

Hayley Kioko
Way Too Indie

Hayley Kioko is here to steal yo girl. This song is an anthem about a girl who steals another guy’s girlfriend and it repeats the line “girls like girls like boys do”. It’s a simple and seemingly obvious statement, but is also very necessary because girl-girl relationships are often depicted as over-sexualized and for male consumption. The song reminds listeners that romantic relationships between women are just as legitimate as heterosexual relationships.

Halsey- Hurricane


Halsey sings about how she can’t be pinned down or claimed by anyone or anything. She’s doesn’t belong to a man or a city, but is rather “a wandress, a one night stand”. The song also embraces the fact that she is disruptive and takes up space rather than apologizing for, it which women so often unfairly feel the need to do.

Bikini Kill- Rebel Girl

Bikini Kill

The song starts off sounding like a petty and jealous take down of a woman, objecting that another girl “thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood”. But it is shortly revealed that the singer actually has a crush on this girl, and it develops into a love song from one woman to another and an anthem for female solidarity.

Meredith Brooks- Bitch

Meredith Brooks
AV Club

In the song, Brooks lists off the many sides to herself. She doesn’t hold back and embraces the good, the bad, and the ugly. In her own words, she’s “a bitch…a lover…a child…a mother…a sinner…a saint” and she feels no shame, proving that women are multi faceted and complex and can’t be put in a box or defined by societal stereotypes.

[cue id=”56639″]

Gender Inequality Interviews

Speaking out against sexual violence through poetry: An interview with Stephanie Lane Sutton

Stephanie Lane Sutton is a Midwestern poet, performer, and interactive media artist. Currently, she is a Michener Fellow in the University of Miami’s Creative Writing MFA Program. Previously, she lived in Chicago, where she was a teaching artist with After School Matters and a co-facilitator for Surviving the Mic, a workshop and reading series for survivors of trauma. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Day One,  Tinderbox Poetry, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Dream Pop Press, and littletell journal. She is a co-founding editor of |tap| lit mag. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and her personal blog. 


after Jan Beatty

this is for the hecklers/my stage time soiled with their catcall of approval/what did I expect being friends with male poets/this is what happens when you write good poems/for the man who asked my permission to stay silent/because it made him feel safer/because it wasn’t his rape in the poem he’d written/& for the man who took the poem about rapists personally/it’s ironic you feel victimized/it’s ironic you said it’s my fault/because there are men who show up/& call that organizing/& feel fine taking credit for work done by a woman/this poem is a gravesite/get yourself a shovel/here’s one for my former mentor/the one who fucks his students as soon as they’re 18/he said they’re old enough now/did you count down the minutes until midnight on their birthdays/& for the one who didn’t wait, with or without her permission/with or without sincerely trying to teach her anything in the first place/& for everyone who said I should be grateful for male approval/& the women who are grateful for male approval/as our tongues got minced or led to the slaughter/as we were shot by the man on the other side of the door we knocked on when we had nowhere else to turn for help/& our unconscious bodies were raped into a party trick/& laughter slammed us against the lockers every day/the only ones who showed up were the cameras/& all the histories we’d written got voted out of the cannon by a panel of men/yet our arms stay in the booth selling merchandise/yet our legs stay in case we’re asked to stand & be recognized/since whether or not you’re listening you won’t have to live it/this poem is your tombstone/get yourself a chisel.

The Tempest: When did you realize that poetry was your passion; was there a moment when you just knew that this was a part of you calling?

Um, no (laughs). I don’t think there was one moment when I knew I was going to be a poet, it kind of just happened for me and I think that a lot of people who are poets have this experience where they’re interested in other things and then they start writing poems maybe in a high school English class or in college or just because they see someone else doing it and want to give it a try. I started writing poetry in my diary when I was in middle school, really emo, angsty stuff, and I just kind of kept doing it and then I ended up going to college and doing it more. I think that poetry has always been really challenging for me. There are always ways to challenge yourself in a poem, there’s always a more succinct way of describing something, and that’s the thing that kept me writing. And now I just am a poet, yeah it just kind of happened over time. I just like to think I couldn’t have done anything else, maybe I was just meant to be a poet.

The Tempest: Can you please give us some background on your poem, Slammer?

Yeah, so Slammer is a hard poem for me to talk about, it’s not a happy poem but a lot of the poems I write are not happy. But when I was in my early twenties, I was sexually assaulted and I ended up turning to slam poetry to cope with that. I was living in Chicago and slam poetry started out there and it was just such a huge, vibrant community so I found my way to the slam in the youth community and I kind of grew up in it. Then, as I got older I became one of the adults on the scene, I started teaching younger poets and talking to other women on the scene and I started to learn how rampant sexual assault is in the poetry slam community and not only that I just started to have my own experiences with misogyny with things that made me feel traumatized in a way that reminded me of my own assault. So I ended up writing this poem, as I was inspired by Shooter by Jan Beatty. What I love about that poem is that she takes the violence that she’s experienced at the hands of men and makes it into a metaphor. I wanted to write in a way like that so I wrote about all the things I had experienced in the slam community and that other people had told me they experienced that had made them feel so powerless. I wanted to sort of call that out and metaphorically dig it a grave and bury it. So that’s where the poem came from. It was a poem that I had to write; I don’t think that I could have kept being a poet if I didn’t put that experience into words. 

The Tempest: What has been the most challenging part of being a poet?

A part of me feels like everything is hard about poetry. and at the same time, everything about poetry brings me so much joy. There’s no money in poetry really. You can find a way to teach poetry or you might get paid for a reading, maybe there are other ways to make money that I just don’t know about. You really have to be in it because you love it. For me personally, the most challenging thing has been finding my authentic voice, because when you do poetry slam competitions, there’s a lot of pressure to write poems in a certain way which will get you to win. I’m in a creative writing program MFA right now and in academia, there’s a different kind of pressure that I’m seeing now. Because sometimes my professors want me to change a poem completely and write it in a different way and I think that’s just something you might experience in whatever context your writing is that people want you to be more like them or what they think you should be and you have to learn to take feedback but then to also learn how to push back against that.

I feel it’s especially hard if you’re a woman or you’re queer or person of color because there are always these boxes that you’re being put into anyway. I feel like I am constantly pushing back in all these different ways but in the end, the purpose of that is to find who I am in a way, how I express myself and how I think. It’s difficult but it’s very rewarding and I guess that’s the challenge that drives me forward. There’s no formula for writing a poem, there are no rules. I think that’s part of the thing that makes poetry so valuable. It’s what makes writing poems hard but also what makes poetry matter so much.

The Tempest: Can you give some words of advice to anyone who is thinking about trying poetry, and yet has some fears holding them back?

I don’t think being afraid is a bad thing; I feel afraid all the time that at the same time if you are afraid of something you can also confront it, and that feels very brave. Feeling brave is the best feeling and that’s kind of what you have to strive for. I think if you’re afraid to write poetry, start there. Write a poem on why you’re afraid, or write 10 poems on why you’re afraid! I really believe that writing is transformative and if you put it down in words and confront it, you will feel brave and will transform. You’re going to find inner strength and that’s a magical thing that poems can do. Embrace the fear and move forward.

The Tempest: What do you hope readers take away after reading your work?

I think the most important thing for me right now is for other people who are sexual assault survivors or been through abuse to know they are not alone. I think Slammer might have been the first poem I wrote that was so direct about rape-culture, and right now that’s a lot of what I write and just stories about our culture and things that have happened throughout history and I just want people to not feel alone. And I think that if you’re not a sexual assault survivor or someone living with trauma, and you read my poetry, I want to offer a different perspective on what a poem can be and what a poem can do, whether that’s in form or content. I want anyone who reads my poem to feel that poetry isn’t dead and that it still matters and can make a difference! And if I ever write something which inspires others to write poetry like that that would be my marker for success.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Gender & Identity Life

One of my friends was attacked by another of my friends. What happened next shocked me.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses sexual assault and societal repercussions around reporting.

I first met L* as part of a women’s Facebook group in the city I live in.

Most of the discussions there involve tips on where to find a good stylist or breakfast spot, apartment hunting and the occasional gripe about the dire dating scene. Until one night a woman began a thread about a man who is a fixture in the local music scene. L had written an account detailing this man’s manipulation, coercion, and sexual abuse of her – she had posted a blog and was asking people to read it and to come forward with their own stories. This man’s pursuit of L—and their subsequent relationship—had happened several years before, beginning when she was 16 and he was 37.

[bctt tweet=”She feared the blowback that might be generated by her assailant’s social capital.” username=”wearethetempest”]

“One of my friends told me a few weeks ago that they’d heard him bragging about this stuff—what he does to women—and I just couldn’t take it anymore.” L had stayed silent because, like so many survivors, she carried a tremendous amount of guilt and shame surrounding her abuse. Reliving the experience through recounting it was traumatic for her, and she feared the blowback that might be generated by her assailant’s enormous social capital.


L’s fears about coming forward weren’t unfounded.

Though all she wanted to do was tell her story in what was supposed to be a safe space specifically for women, she found resistance and a degree of open animosity (which increased when her assailant’s supporters took to their own Facebook pages with their responses). People were able to anonymously view her story as it unfolded without commenting on it and then relay the information to her assailant. L was aware that several members of the group were probably friends with him. She knew she’d made herself incredibly vulnerable by coming forward, but she wanted support and she wanted to prevent him from continuing to prey on other young women by sharing her story and hoping for some accountability. “I didn’t have a goal, I just wanted to talk about what he had done to me and what I know he’s done to other women – and maybe to have some of the venues that host his events stop hosting them. It really was as small as that when I started writing.”

The thread quickly unraveled as even would-be supporters said incredibly damaging things.

A lot of the commentary began with “If these accusations are true…” or “Why haven’t you reported this to the authorities?” Anyone who has worked with survivors knows that support and advocacy for them doesn’t look like demanding they seek justice from the legal system. Even if it implies you believe their account, we need to understand that the survivor is already experiencing a great deal of stress, both psychological and physical, which affects their ability to undergo a legal ordeal. They already feel terrified and are legitimately traumatized, even if what happened occurred years before. It is important, as an ally, to listen to the survivor in a nonjudgmental way, to help them identify their options for moving forward and to let them know you will support them in whatever they decide to do – never to exhort them to do anything.

This compounds the guilt they already feel by shifting the responsibility from the predator and onto the survivor. It says, “Yes, I believe you, but you’re not responding to this crisis in the way I think is appropriate.” It passes the buck by telling them, “I can’t help you. Go somewhere else.”

Furthermore, the legal response to sexual assault and relational violence compounds the strain placed upon the survivor. It is the victim’s responsibility to prove someone did this to them as much as it is the accused’s responsibility to prove they did nothing wrong. In this way, the victim undergoes a trial along with their assailant. Having already lived through an assault, the process of confronting their abuser while simultaneously being scrutinized and risking a character assassination by the defense (and the community in which they speak out) can seem impossibly daunting.

[bctt tweet=”In this way, the victim undergoes a trial along with their assailant. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

The matter of pressing charges becomes murkier in activist communities like the one L is part of. Seeking the help of a legal system that one has seen time after time to work against the citizens it is supposed to protect, that one has dedicated their life to change, doesn’t seem like a viable option. In these spaces, a community accountability process is frequently relied upon, in which the abuser is “called out” and offered avenues to change their harmful behavior. If not complied with, it results in the assailant’s exile from social spaces in order to give the survivor freedom to move without fear of coming into contact with them.

L didn’t want a legal process. She wanted to be heard and hoped to protect other young women from going through what she had gone through by outing this man as a predator. She frantically attempted to control the responses – thanking people who came forward with support, trying to justify to others why she hadn’t come forward before and why she wasn’t going to the authorities now.

[bctt tweet=”The thread quickly unraveled as even would-be supporters said damaging things.” username=”wearethetempest”]

L shared with me the emails she’d received to the account she’d established for collecting stories of survivorship and messages of support. Among the positive responses and shared pain were several vitriolic missives advising her to take down the blog. The other survivors’ stories echoed L’s; while all of them were of the age of consent, they were also under legal drinking age: “He wouldn’t leave me alone,” “He just kept asking me out,” “I was scared, but it was flattering that this really cool, older guy was interested in me,” “He plied me with alcohol,” “I blacked out for our first encounter,” “I remember looking in the bathroom mirror trying to get myself together – I don’t remember what happened after that, but when I woke up, I knew we’d had sex.”

What was particularly astonishing was the number of her assailant’s friends who wrote in affirming what she said. Many offered unequivocal support; they believed her, they supported her, they said his ‘dating practices’ had always disturbed them. Even among those who supported her predator, none accused her of outright lying.

[bctt tweet=”Not a single person said these behaviors sounded uncharacteristic or manufactured.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Not a single person said that these behaviors sounded uncharacteristic or manufactured. Instead, they accused her of having regrettable sex, blamed her for not enjoying herself. The general tone was, “Yeah, this sounds like something he would do, but what’s the big deal?” They wanted her to think of how she was making him “look bad,” called it a “witch hunt.” They towed a line of “There are no guilty parties because there was no crime.” But they also wanted her, and the other women who were coming forward, to stop talking about it.

One telling post on Facebook asked when it becomes appropriate to “defame” someone through social media and had anything been done to address this situation in a “quieter” fashion before?

The answers are several.

For one thing, the accusations have to be untrue for them to be defamation. But no one denied, not even her assailant, that these acts sounded outside the realm of possibility. Furthermore, his good reputation and popularity had long facilitated the abuse and enabled him to continue operating. L’s course of action was appropriate because all she wanted was to talk about what he’d done. She’d already self-isolated and stopped participating in the music scene – in the past several years, she’s kept herself to a small, close circle of friends and their homes, her movements restricted by the fear of seeing her assailant.

It becomes appropriate to publicly talk about what someone has done when it is time to hold them to account, when the victims have had enough of being intimidated into silence and inability to share their truth, of not feeling safe in their community and living in shame. To answer the other part of the question, yes, he had been part of at least one other accountability process in the past. Moreover, it seems to me that these are decidedly inappropriate questions to ask.

These are questions we should be asking:

Why is the focus on tone-policing (in this case I’d maybe call it venue-policing) towards the survivors? Why is it more important to fixate on what they’re saying, and where they’re saying it, rather than on the actions of someone who hurt them? Why was the solution proffered for these women to silence themselves, or be silenced? Why was it their fault that he “look[ed] bad” because they were publicly talking about it, rather than his fault because he did awful things?

L received a Cease and Desist notification from her assailant’s attorney.

Because she did not have the financial or emotional resources to deal with a legal battle, she handed care of the blog over to friends. They moved the blog and made note that she was no longer involved with the process, but shortly afterward, the blog was removed by the host site. When I spoke to L last she said, “I just wanted to say what I needed to say and get it over with, I want to move on with my life – but now [it’s been off the internet] for two weeks. Everyone’s going to forget and he’s just going to do this again.”

[bctt tweet=”Why is the focus on tone-policing towards the survivors? ” username=”wearethetempest”]

It’s a failure of our justice system that it is so difficult for survivors to come forward and to get the justice they so sorely deserve (according to RAINN up to 68% of attacks go unreported and 98% of rapists don’t serve time). It’s a failure that it’s easier for assailants to get protection from “libel” than it is to protect survivors and potential victims. If it is indeed the only appropriate course of action to report one’s assault, then we need to do a better job as a society of making it easier for survivors to come forward and get justice.

If, because of the obstacles presented by legal proceedings, the accountability process seems optimal for survivors, then the community needs to be ready to respond to the survivors’ needs. However, it seemed no one was willing to confront L’s assailant with the consequences of his actions and the purpose of the accountability process is just that; the community rallies to help the survivor regain their sense of safety so the survivor doesn’t have to fight alone. But nothing, beyond the messages of support she received, was done to censure L’s assailant. His associates, whichever side of the issue they fell on, didn’t help L in the process of calling him out.

[bctt tweet=”No one wants their Saturday night scene to feel different, awkward, to be changed. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

It’s a failure of our culture that, while almost no one would say, “Rape and abuse are okay,” when people are confronted with it as the actions of a friend, they find every excuse to make it go away. It’s a failure of our culture that it’s a knee-jerk reaction to blame the victim – that they made bad decisions, that they took it the wrong way, that they should have gone to the police instead. Why was it more important to these people to perform mental and linguistic gymnastics around what this man had done than to say to him, “What you did and do to women is wrong, and we won’t associate with you until it’s been rectified”? Why is that worse? Why is it harder?


The only thing I could think of is that people really, really would like to not have to be uncomfortable.

They are perhaps prepared to vocalize a zero tolerance policy for relational abuse and sexual assault, but they aren’t prepared to enact it. They aren’t prepared to sacrifice a friendship with someone who would behave so egregiously toward others – they’d rather tell those who’ve been harmed to let it go or go away. While L and other survivors are forced to build their lives around dealing with their trauma and avoiding further trauma caused by seeing their assailants, for the assailants and their friends, it’s business as usual.

No one wants their Saturday night scene to feel different, awkward, to be changed. And that’s where it is. L and the other survivors have been silenced, not even permitted to speak their truth. They fade into the background, the rest of their lives altered and informed by what’s been done to them and the failure of their community to respond.

Yet their assailant continues dominating the dance floor at the same venues and dozens of young women keep flooding in to hear the same old songs.


* L had their name hidden to protect their privacy.


Dear Jessa and Jill Duggar

Dear Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard,

I have heard about the incidents of Josh molesting five girls when he was fourteen years old. In our current media climate in which the same story is played over and over and over again, with “experts” commenting on topics they truly know little about, I’m sorry that you have had to listen to everyone’s opinion about something very personal, traumatic, and difficult that happened to you. I’m sorry you felt the pressure from your family and the media to out yourselves as victims.

I don’t know if you were ready to come out as victims/survivors right now (I’m trying to avoid making assumptions about you and your experiences because I’m sure you’ve been getting lots of that lately). But I am sorry that you had to come out on a public platform, during a tumultuous and highly charged time. I’m sorry your survivorhood is being used by conservatives to push a right-wing agenda and being used by liberals to criticize and condemn that agenda. I’m sorry your survivorhood is being used as a pawn in a largely political game.

You are right. “The system was set up to protect kids” but it has greatly failed. I’m sorry that you have had to work this out in public. I’m sorry that you haven’t been exposed to a variety of counseling methods and have been able to choose the one that works best for you. I’m sorry that while your molester didn’t have to appear in an interview with Megyn Kelly, you did, to save your family and what you thought was important. I’m sorry you felt the need to come out as victims before you were ready. I’m sorry that the burden to restore your family’s image falls on you.

I may not agree with you ideologically or politically. But I do hope that you are taking care of yourselves during this time. I hope that you are taking the time and given the space to heal.