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October 20, 2022

Clichéd Phrases to Avoid When Comforting Others

An oval, deep teal bubble that has graphic icons of two chat bubbles, a thumbs up symbol, and a thumbs down symbol in various lighter colors like teal, yellow, and warm brownThe Idaho Crisis & Suicide Hotline recently shared the work of MentalHealthCEO, “Clichéd Phrases You Should Be Careful With When Comforting Others.” Although each scenario is unique, it is important to consider what to say – or not say – when we’re comforting other people.

Advocates & people in social justice movements are often intuitively supportive, trained, and practiced in offering comfort to others. However, learning is a lifelong process & sometimes a reminder or updated information is needed. Check out these 5 clichéd phrases to avoid when comforting others:

  • “You are not alone.”
    • Before saying this, consider if they are, in fact, alone. For example, if they have lost their family or have no friends, it’s hard to feel less alone just from being told that you are.
  • “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
    • When we cannot choose our struggles, we often come out from the ordeal more fragile, sensitive, and ridden with invisible wounds instead of becoming stronger.
  • “Everything’s going to be fine.”
    • People with long-term trauma, mental illnesses like depression, or in terrible life situations know that things might not turn out okay because they evidence to the contrary.
  • “Everything happens for a reason.”
    • You can genuinely believe this, but it may not be the right thing to say when someone is faced with a terrible situation that they can’t find a reason for (like trauma or abuse).
  • “Time heals all wounds.”
    • Time rarely heals deep emotional wounds or scars like grief; it just makes things more bearable. It is the actions we take in pursuit of healing that do the restoration, not time.

It’s hard to know what the right thing to communicate is, but these are some things that could make a big impact on how a person feels. We encourage you to continue learning with us, and we also share the Mental Health Coalition as a tool for your ongoing reflections on providing comfort & care to others.


All Press ≠ Good Press

A cool, deep teal bubble with a brown magnifying glass with a tan gear symbol in the middle of it, a gray piece of paper with yellow and black accents, and a green penHave you ever been told “All press is good press” or even been told that bad press is better than no press? This popular proverb may have strong arguments in business realms or for social media algorithms, but it is also a harmful concept when we discuss stories about domestic abuse. Too often in media platforms, survivors of violence are not honored or treated with dignity & the language describing harm is inaccurate or harm-replicating. And it’s not just because of reporters, journalists, and editors! We all play a role in ensuring that media is more supportive for survivors.

This week is Domestic Violence Awareness Month’s “Week of Action,” and our organization has especially wanted to address how to collectively educate & mobilize communities for more conscious storytelling & storysharing about survivors. Particularly inspired by Media Monday in this year’s “Week of Action,” our organization tweeted 3 tips for people to consider while sharing information about domestic abuse.

This newsletter article adds more information upon the tips we shared on our Twitter account & includes a media guide for your future reference.

1) Start with these two important questions:

    • Is there a chance that publishing any of this information could put the survivor(s) in my story at risk?
    • Does my story provide the necessary context to understand domestic violence and resources to get help?
    • A national organization, NNEDV, posed these two questions to re-frame media coverage from the very beginning of the media-sharing process. NNEDV also encourages people to replace language like “Why didn’t she leave?” with language like  “His abuse made it impossible for her to leave.” Media must tell domestic violence stories correctly: supporting survivors and holding abusers accountable. More information can be found throughout their media guide.

2) Don’t frame domestic violence as something that’s only a criminal justice issue with a criminal justice solution.

    • Police are most quoted in stories – not survivors, not advocates & programs that work to end violence, not care-providing experts, nor justice & restorative healing professionals. There are many different people on the frontlines of domestic abuse, and they are too regularly minimized & erased altogether. Quoting only the police contributes to a skewed perception of the deep networks that are available to survivors.
    • Further, data also informs us that many survivors do not engage with law enforcement systems in a majority of domestic abuse scenarios, that criminal justice circles do not necessarily make survivors safer, and that many survivors do not actually seek justice from legal-criminal institutions. It is important to not assume that survivors want police included in their story, that a survivor equates justice & safety to an abuser’s incarceration, or other assumptions that do not show what the survivor(s) want and need in their specific instance of harm and healing.

3) Stop using statistics that only measure data in a gender binary.

    • If the stats you find uphold a gender binary, keep searching and/or acknowledge it’s not comprehensive, accurate data. In journalism & reporting, many people fail to include trans & gender-expansive people. And what good are we truly offering to survivors of violence if we’re only minoritizing other survivors of abuse?
    • Trans & genderqueer survivors already face acute violence, and media that uses a gender binary is just another barrier between harm & healing. Especially in Idaho (where trans & gender-expansive people are targeted & unprotected by state statutes), we must be diligently accountable to inclusive, accurate data that recognizes all genders.

Although these 3 tips are not a comprehensive list of what we can do to make media portray better stories for survivors, we can continue to learn & teach each other how to represent domestic violence across the platforms we consume. Media must be better to & for survivors, and a world where media honors survivors is possible.

A world without replicated harm & violence is possible too, and together, we have all of the tools needed to live into this world.

Add more to our Twitter thread if there’s something that you’d like to add to this tip list.


Radical Permission: Acts of Liberation for a Safe(r) World

A cool, deep teal bubble with a laptop image in the center. The screen has a Zoom-like format with brown, tan, black, gray, white, and green Zoom user backgrounds. There's a large green exclamation point with tan emphasis accents.Staff members have been buzzing with anticipation at the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. We are now only two weeks away from a long-anticipated online discussion with adrienne maree brown & Sonya Renee Taylor! Both of these change-makers are profound & inspiring, and it is a deep honor & privilege to share space with them.

adrienne maree brown is the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute. She is the author of Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism and the co-editor of How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office. She is co-host of the How to Survive the End of the World and Emergent Strategy podcasts. Sonya Renee Taylor is the founder and radical executive officer of the Body Is Not an Apology, a digital media and education company. Her work as an activist and educator and her commitment to radical self-love and transformation have reached millions of people, and she is the author of the bestselling The Body Is Not an Apology.

Together, adrienne maree brown and Sonya Renee Taylor created a beloved guide for following your soul’s calling, Journal of Radical Permission. During our online discussion, we’ll be uplifting their guide and the many things we can radically imagine for a safe(r) world.

This discussion is framed for advocates, activists, and organizers from movements against gender-based violence.This audience is not mutually exclusive with survivors of gender-based violence, and many people in the audience will be entering both as a change-maker in their community as a survivor who’s impacted by how community leaders engage with framing our practices against violence. Although this is largely created for & attended by people throughout Idaho, there are people in beloved communities across the nation – and even abroad – joining this conversation.

To practice waging liberation, we can offer ourselves the radical permission to wholly live our lives – including the work we engage in – rooted in our deepest YES. The YES that restores our divine nature, opening up a ripe potential for us to foster freedom.

When we give ourselves increasing permission to practice freedom in real-time, we get closer to living in a world without gender-based violence. We inherently deserve a safe(r) world.

If you have not already signed up on our registration page, we’d love for you to do so & join us for our virtual event. We want to make sure everyone in our beloved community is invited & ensure that no one is turned away from this discussion space.

It is our hope that you’ve learned about this space already, and we’ll continue to share invitations until the afternoon of the discussion: Thursday, November 3rd (at 2:00 MST). To share an invitation to your circles, please check out this helpful invitation link.


Training & Events

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Idaho Youth for Change: Fall Series

Workshops | October 20 – November 10

Beginning this month & going into next month, our beloved staff member D Dagondon Tiegs (a Bilingual Social Change Associate with the Idaho Coalition) is hosting a training series with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Idaho Youth for Change. There are 4 compelling workshop spaces on Thursday mornings, and each are described in a previous article (linked here).

To learn more and/or register for this series, click here.

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Promising Practices for Serving Survivors with Disabilities

Virtual Panel | October 25

In support of survivors everywhere, End Abuse of People with Disabilities is dedicating a webinar to promising practices for serving domestic violence survivors with disabilities. Featuring a panel, this webinar will explore the unique barriers that people with disabilities have to navigate when seeking healing and explore removing those barriers.

To learn more and/or register for this event, click here.

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Serving & Supporting LGBTQ+ Survivors of Domestic Violence

Workshop | October 25

This 1.5 hour interactive workshop is designed to equip domestic violence service providers with essential information on the unique and specific experiences of LGBTQ+ survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Participants will leave with increased knowledge on core best practices for providing culturally responsive services to LGBTQ+ individuals and strategies for reducing barriers faced by LGBTQ survivors of IPV.

To learn more and/or register for this space, click here.

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Radical Permission: Acts of Liberation for a Safe(r) World

Online Discussion | November 3

This discussion is framed for advocates, activists, and organizers from movements against gender-based violence. This conversation will explore how to give ourselves permission to be our most whole, authentic, and divine selves. Our permission can allow our movements, as well as the many survivors we serve, to reclaim power, self-determination, and vibrance. More information can be found in the article above the Training & Events section.

If you’d like to access the registration page, click here.

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A Conversation with Susan Burton

Online Discussion | November 9

Following the tragic accidental death of her 5-year-old son, Susan Burton’s world collapsed. She descended into despair, but living in South Los Angeles, Susan didn’t have access to the resources she needed to heal. Without support, she turned to drugs and alcohol, which led to nearly 20 years of revolving in and out of prison. Drawing on her personal experiences, she is dedicating her life to helping other women break the cycle of incarceration.

If you’d like to access the registration page, click here.

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Rooted in Culture, Empowering Communities

Symposium | November 15-18

This is a symposium for culturally specific organizations that are currently, or aspiring to, address sexual assault and gender-based violence in Black and brown communities. It’s based in Phoenix, Arizona this year, and although there is no registration fee to attend, we are urged to register no later than October 30.

If you’d like to access the registration page, click here.

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Amplifying Black Trans Aliveness

Webinar | December 7

Our staff member, Nisha Newton, is presenting a webinar in the University of Idaho’s Black Lives Matter Speaker Series. Titled “Race X Gender: Amplifying Black Trans Aliveness,” this learning space begins in the intersection of race & gender while learning into Radical Imagination. The goal? To identify areas in our lives, areas of expertise, and/or field(s) of study to collectively wage Black trans thriving. Black trans people should be indexed to aliveness, not doom and death.

If you’d like to access the discussion’s link, click here.


Idaho Coalition Store Materials

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Reminder: Shipping for all materials on our website store is FREE for Programs. Please use the coupon below for all orders.

Visit the online store for the Idaho Coalition to check out what materials are available for order.

For store questions, please contact us.

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