Violence Against Women in the Indo-Trinidadian Community

Violence Against Women in the Indo-Trinidadian Community

“Why is violence against women so prevalent in the Indo-Trini community?”

This was one of the questions I received after posting about the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. 

If I’m being really honest it’s a question I’ve often wondered about myself because gender-based violence has been a part of my life since childhood.

Every generation of women in my family has been impacted by violence. And while Indo-Trinidadian spirituality celebrates and elevates women, the alarming rates of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) within the community cannot be ignored.

In the post below, three factors which contribute to GBV within the Indo-Trinidadian community are outlined. As with many other social issues, GBV intersects with other socio-economic issues. My own experience has taught me that poverty and alcohol addiction are other factors which contribute to violence against women. But the three points discussed are highlighted because they transcend class concerns.

3 Reasons Why Violence Against Women is so Prevalent in the Indo-Trinidadian Community

1. History of Indentureship

During the initial period of indentureship the ratio of workers was 3 women to 100 men. That rate gradually went up to 4 women to 10 men but this continued gender imbalance (for various reasons) led to alarming rates of GBV. 

Indentureship also normalized oppression. Being passive became a survival mechanism in a seemingly hopeless situation because resistance often led to further violence/oppression.

2. Cultural Attitudes of Silence

There is a pervasive belief that conflict, including abuse, is “a husband and wife issue” which results in family and community members ignoring abuse or encouraging silence.

The shame surrounding divorce also contributes to this culture of silence. Divorced women become isolated from their communities while their husbands garner sympathy. The fear of losing the respect and support of their family and community contributes to this tradition of silence.

3. Patriarchal Social Structure

The abuse that many women endure is the result of the norms of male privilege that minimizes and justifies GBV. In many instances violence is viewed as a means to discipline an “unruly” wife/daughter/sister.

4 Ways We Can End Violence Against Women in the Indo-Trinidadian Community & Beyond

1. Define GBV as a wider social problem, not as an internal family problem.

In order to reject the culture of silence, all community members should be aware of the long and short term consequences of GBV on the society.

2. Invest in resources so that survivors have social and financial support.

Fear of isolation and financial dependency are two major reasons why women feel trapped in abusive relationships. Programs and resources created to alleviate these concerns will go a long way to ending GBV.

3. Community outreach to inform women of their options.

Programs and resources are not worth much if those who are in need remain unaware of them. Effective media campaigns and community outreach endeavours are essential components of ending GBV.

4. Educate men.

The current patterns of denial, minimizations and justifications for gender based violence can only be changed when men understand the long term impact of such violence. In addition to other forms of justice, abusers should be required to confront and change their role as perpetrators.

PM Dr. Keith Rowley is WRONG. Trickle-Down Economics Doesn’t Work.

Trickle-down economics doesn't work

About a month ago, on The Morning Brew talk-show, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley defended his “we must allow the rich to get richer” comment.

When pressed by the host to expand on his comment he said “If people have to be employed, somebody has to employ them; they don’t employ themselves and pay themselves…if there are rich people, meaning people who have money, and they want to put that money out there to do something with it, that automatically creates opportunities for other people.” (link here)

What the Prime Minister outlined is a theory of economics known as Trickle-Down Economics. Trickle-down economic theory suggests that if the rich gets richer the country’s wealth would eventually flow down to benefit middle- to low- income earners.

The problem is that while the theory seems to make sense, it’s actually been proven to have the opposite impact. 

A study published by the London School of Economics (LSE) which spans 50 years and 18 countries definitively proves that trickle-down economics doesn’t work. It’s actually shown to increase inequality. It also shows zero improvement in GDP per capita, unemployment rates and consumer spending.

What this means is that when governments allow the rich to get richer, they (the rich) hoard the country’s wealth. Trickle-down economics doesn’t make the rich hire more people or contribute to social services; it makes them invest in things which only benefits them.

The International Monetary Fund also rejects the trickle-down theory. In its report authored by five economists, it argues that “…increasing the income share of the poor and the middle class actually increases growth while a rising income share of the top 20 percent results in lower growth — that is, when the rich get richer, benefits do not trickle down.” The IMF’s fight against income inequality revolves around the fact that a healthy middle class is the main driver of the economy.

This makes sense if you think about it…

Let’s pretend you’re the owner of a chain of restaurants. What will incentivize you to higher more employees

1. if your taxes are lowered 

OR

2. If you have more customers in your restaurants

If your taxes are lowered but you have no customers, you have no real need to hire more employees so you will hold on to that extra income. But you will hire more employees if you have more customers.

Which is what the LSE study proves- social and economic incentives for the lower and middle class leads to a healthier economy.

Which brings us to the Alternative to Trickle-Down Economics…

It’s a theory which author Robert Reich refers to as Rise-Up economics. It shows that public investments in social services like hospitals, schools and infrastructure, and reducing taxes to the lower and middle classes are proven to grow the economy.

Rise-Up economics is also the theory on which Dr. Eric Williams and other leaders founded our country.

Although they referred to it as Pragmatic Socialism, it held the same emphasis on strengthening social services, reducing poverty and creating a strong middle class. As a reader of Eric Williams’ work, it’s been disappointing to see how far the party he founded has strayed from his ideals.

It is downright unconscionable that our Prime Minister would advocate for trickle-down economics right now. We all know that the Covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic recession has increased the wealth gap and pushed more people into poverty.

So why is the Prime Minister defending this debunked theory that the rich need to get richer?

Does he not know better? 

I don’t think so. 

He’s holding on to this belief because it’s a convenient hoax designed to further enrich his wealthy friends, financiers and their businesses. 

By now every Trinbagonian is aware of the power of wealthy individuals to shape political policies in their favor through personal and campaign contributions. It’s called corruption. And although many of us in Trinidad and Tobago have resigned ourselves to government corruption, we still have a responsibility to call it out.

It should be clear by now that an upward transfer of wealth is the last thing we need. At some point we need to find the courage to fight for what we deserve. I’m not sure when the country will be ready but I know I am. I sincerely hope you’ll join me.

If you’d like to read the full LSE study you can find it here.

And you can learn more about Robert Reich’s Rise-Up philosophy here.

 

Suicide Prevention: Warning Signs and Ways to Support

suicide prevention

Raising awareness to help suicide prevention is so important, especially right now. The uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 has caused an increase in depression, anxiety and hopelessness about the future.

factors which can lead to suicide

Three of the leading factors that contribute to suicide are: 

  • Isolation
  • Feeling like a burden 
  • A sense of hopelessness. 

Facts About Suicide

Suicide is the 10th biggest cause of death worldwide.

The World Health Organization estimates that one person dies of suicide every 40 seconds.

Trinidad and Tobago has the 3rd highest suicide rate in the Caribbean.

79% of suicides in Trinidad and Tobago are a result of domestic issues.

(Source Dr. Katija Khan, former president of Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists)

16 Warning Signs that Someone May Be Suicidal

  1. Talking about wanting to die
  2. Questioning the point of life
  3. Talking about being a burden to others
  4. They have experienced distress, trauma or other major life change
  5. Talking about ways to kill themselves
  6. Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  7. Socially withdrawn from their life
  8. They don’t see a way out of a difficult situation
  9. Struggling to find meaning in the things they used to
  10. Talking hopelessly about the future
  11. They display signs of self-harm
  12. Talking about feeling trapped or suffocated
  13. Express extreme self-hatred
  14. Sudden increase in reckless behavior
  15. They feel as if no one cares about them
  16. Expressing extreme loneliness

10 Ways to Support Someone Who May Be Suicidal

  1. Get help from a trained professional
  2. Remind them they are not alone.
  3. Use open-ended questions when talking to them
  4. Actively listen and repeat what they said to show you have understood.
  5. Help them with a daily task so that they feel supported.
  6. Give them a hug (if possible)
  7. Spend quality time with them
  8. Let them know that you’re not judging them, that we all struggle with life.
  9. Be respectful. Acknowledge and hold space for the person’s feelings.
  10. Offer to make the appointment / go with them to get the help they need.

If you think someone in your life is suicidal, please take them seriously.

Trinidad and Tobago Contact Numbers & Resources

Lifeline: 645-2800

Ambulance: 811 or 990

Emergency Centers

Eric Williams Medical Complex: 663-9470

Arima Health Facility: 667-1766

Chaguanas Health Facility: 671-0041

San Fernando Gen. Hospital: 653-4343

Sangre Grande Hospital: 668-2468

 

Find a qualified psychologist

www.psychologytt.org

www.notokaytt.org

10 Ways Non-Black People of Color Can Fight Racism

Fight Racism

Racism isn’t limited to white supremacy in the United States.

Many countries and cultures have their own forms of colorism and anti-Blackness. And while as Non-Black People of Color we have our own pain and we’re discriminated against in different ways, it’s still vital for us to stand together to fight racism.

Here Are 10 Ways We Can Be Better Allies

1. LISTEN when Black people talk about their experiences. While we will never be able to truly know the hurt and pain endured by Black people, we can hold a safe space for them to express themselves without fear of interruption or defensiveness.

2. HONOR and VALIDATE the feelings of Black people. Black people are often tone-policed as angry or irrational when expressing their frustrations about the racism they endure. The least we can do is to acknowledge that these feelings are valid after having to live through centuries of violence and racism.

3. Try to UNDERSTAND their viewpoint without inserting your own opinions. While non-Black people of color are discriminated against in different ways, we still don’t know exactly what it feels like to have 400 years of systemic oppression be the foundation for our life. It’s absolutely essential to try to understand their lived experiences of surviving in an anti-Black world without inserting opinions about it. 

4. EDUCATE yourself about racism before asking black people to explain it to you. It is not the job of the Black people in your life to educate you about racism. There are countless books, courses, lectures, studies, Ted Talks about it. Seek out these resources before asking your Black friends to explain it to you.

5. LEARN and embody the difference between “I’m not racist” and “I am anti-racist.” As Angela Davis said “In a racist society it’s not enough to be non-racist. We must be antiracist.” Antiracism starts with acknowledging that the status-quo is inherently racist because it’s built on the sweat and blood of enslaved Black bodies. Antiracism requires that we support policies and beliefs which promote racial equity.

6. CHALLENGE the other people in your life to think critically about racism. Don’t ignore it when someone makes a racist comment or perpetuates a racist stereotype. Gently challenge them to see the situation from the perspective of the Black person.

7. DIRECT people towards Black leaders (my favourite educator is Rachel Cargle). This is not your opportunity to be a “savior.” This is your opportunity to amplify the work of the Black men and women who have been doing this world for decades.

8. REACH OUT to the Black members of your community and ask them how they’re doing. This is such an emotionally volatile time. Your Black friends and co-workers are understandably feeling everything from anger to confusion to despair right now. Do your best to listen and support them as much as you can.

9. Openly call out and REJECT any form of privilege which attempts to bypass the impacts of racism. For example, if someone says #alllivesmatter as a response to #blacklivesmatter, explain to them the fact that Black people are disproportionately killed by police means that currently all lives do not matter. In order to get to a world in which all lives truly matter, we need to acknowledge that systemic racism exists.

10. If you make a mistake, OWN it, and listen to the black community about how you can fix it. Mistakes are an inevitable part of learning something new. Owning up to your mistake, instead of denying or dismissing it, will show that you’re committed to your antiracism work.

By using our voices to fight against racism, we can ensure that we’re not complicit in perpetuating racist beliefs and systems. And we can get one step closer to a more equitable world.

(This post was inspired by an article written by Derrick Clifton. Click here to read the original.)

Five Ways to Feel Connected While Social Distancing

Social Distancing

Human beings are social creatures. 

We need connection.

But during this quarantine period many of us are separated from the people and experiences that make us feel connected.

In the post below I share five ways we can feel connected while practicing social distancing.

These five things will never replace the value of face to face connection but if we do at least one each day, it will help us to feel connected and supported during this time.

The first thing we can do is to check in with loved ones regularly. At least once a day.

We want to hold space to have meaningful conversations.

We want to allow each other to be really honest about the anxiety and anything else that we might be feeling right now.

stay connected

The second way to feel more connected is to spend time connecting more deeply with the people you have to be with during this lockdown situation.

Use this time as an opportunity to go deeper.

Talk, play games, cook, dance and do so many more things you would not have done otherwise.

The third way to have connection during times of physical distancing is to think about what you’d be doing if you weren’t in this situation.

Would you be having tea with friends? Going to the movies together? Going out for lunch?

Then use technology to recreate a version of this.

Make your favorite cup of tea and video call your best friend. It’s not ideal but at least to have some variety and connection during this time.

The fourth way is to show kindness to people in your community who might need your support.

Find out If there are elderly people in your neighborhood who can’t go to the grocery and offer to pick up a few things on your next trip there.

If you know of anyone living alone maybe you can call them and talk to them. Find out how they’re doing. If they’re ok.

Being of service can help us all to feel more hopeful and connected about this situation.

 

The fifth way to feel connected is to improve your connection with your own body.

Move, stretch, try to do some deep breathing.

Try to be near a tree or a plant.

Allow yourself to feel your connection to your breath, your body and the other living things around you.

If you found this post helpful and you’d like to learn more about taking care of yourself during the Coronavirus Pandemic, check out my previous post here. 

Ten Ways to Deal with the Anxiety Surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic

deal with the anxiety surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic

It’s okay if you have anxiety because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

It’s okay if you’re worried about your future.

It’s okay if you’re overwhelmed by everything that’s happening right now.

Although the stress and anxiety you may be feeling is a perfectly valid response to this uncertain time, it can be damaging to the immune system over long periods. 

It’s why I wanted to share ten easy and accessible ways to help you stay calm and grounded throughout this unprecedented time.

Ten Ways to Stay Calm During the Coronavirus Pandemic:

1. Take a few deep breaths.

Research shows that your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Taking a few deep breaths can make a big difference in managing your anxiety if you make it a part of your daily routine. 

2. Journal about how you’re feeling.

By writing about your thoughts and feelings, you can gain valuable insights into why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling. This can help you to release the emotions you’re feeling, identify what you can control and what you can’t, and help you to map out a plan which focuses on the factors you can control. 

3. Mindfully drink something.

Moving your attention from your mind to your body can help to reduce your anxiety. As you take a sip of your favorite drink, pay attention to the temperature of it. Notice the the way it tastes and feels in your mouth. 

4. Get creative

Creativity engages and focuses our minds on the task at hand – and helps us to move past our feelings of stress and anxiety. Research actually shows that different forms of artistic expressions can decrease in our levels of cortisol, a hormone that the body secretes to respond to stress.

5. Move your body.

All forms of movement medicine (exercise, dancing, stretching, etc) has long been proven to increase the feel good hormones in the body. Regular exercise can also help you to sleep better, which can further reduce anxiety and depression.

6. Limit your daily news exposure.

There is a difference between being responsibly informed, and being overwhelmed and inundated by what’s happening. Decide when is the best time for you to catch up on the impact of Coronavirus. Try to avoid checking in throughout the day.

7. Listen to soothing music.

8. Watch funny movies or TV shows. 

9. Spend time on a hobby

10. Connect with loved ones regularly.

This is probably the most important point on this list. Having meaningful connection with loved ones will help you to feel supported during this very difficult time. If you’d like some guidance on maintaining connections while social distancing, check out my recent post here. 

Everything surrounding this Coronavirus pandemic is overwhelming and stressful.

This makes it even more essential to take care of yourself.

Even though this list not exhaustive, I hope that it can help you to stay healthy throughout this time.

By doing a few small things everyday, you can help to reduce stress and inflammation in your body and bring some space and calm to your anxious mind. 

Know someone who might need these tips? 

Share this post with them.

What is Gaslighting?

gaslighting, manipulation, relationship abuse

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation, bordering on abuse, that can happen in relationships of all kinds. But it most often happens in romantic relationships.

“To gaslight” means to the undermine another person’s reality by denying their feelings or the facts around a situation.

The phrase comes from a 1938 play which became a  popular movie in 1944. In the movie, the husband manipulates his wife using gaslights. And he makes her believe she can no longer trust her own perception of reality. 

Gaslighting is used as a way to  exercise power and control in a relationship. It might even be a way for someone to deflect responsibility for their own actions and to tear down the other person, while still stringing them along.

Continually invalidating how a person feels effectively says that what they’re thinking and feeling is wrong, when actually, what that person is feeling or experiencing is real.

How Can You Recognize Gaslighting?

Listed below are some common phrases you might hear if you’re being gaslighted: 

  • You’re so sensitive.
  • You know that’s just because you are so insecure.
  • Stop acting crazy. Or: You sound crazy, you know that, don’t you?
  • You’re so paranoid.
  • You’re being hysterical.
  • You are making that up.
  • It’s no big deal.
  • You’re imagining things.
  • You’re overreacting.
  • You are always so dramatic.
  • That never happened.
  • You know you don’t remember things clearly.
  • There’s no pattern. Or: You are seeing a pattern that is not there.
  • There you go again. Or :Why do you always have to be like that?

What Can You Do If You Think Someone’s Gaslighting You?

  • The first step is to identify the problem. You need to acknowledge what’s going on between you and the other person and you need to accept that it’s toxic. 
  • The second step is to sort out truth from distortion. Write down your conversation in a journal so you can take an objective look at it. Look for signs of repeated denial of your experience.
  • Next you want to make sure you give yourself permission to feel all your feelings. Accept and acknowledge that what you feel is okay. 
  • The next thing you can do is to talk to your close friends or a therapist. Ideally, they should validate your feelings and give you a reality check on your partner’s behavior.
  • You then want to give yourself permission to get some space from that relationship. I know that this might be the most difficult step because the other person is someone you have deep commitment to. But you need to know that it’s okay to walk away from a person who’s not good for you, regardless of who they are.
  • The most important thing you can do throughout this process is to have compassion for yourself. It’s essential to give yourself the benefit of the doubt, to be kind to yourself, and above all to love yourself.

How Can You Have A Healthy Relationship After Trauma

Relationship and Love

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “How can you have a healthy relationship after trauma.”

The most important thing I did

Was to free myself 

Of the unrealistic expectation

That I had to be completely healed

To be worthy of lasting love.

Our relationships have the potential to be

Conduits for our healing

Vessels for our growth

Hospitals for our heart.

If we let them,

Our relationships will allow us to see 

Where we’re still wounded

While celebrating our growth and our healing.

But we have to be honest

With ourselves and our partners

About where we are in our healing journey

And what we need. 

Because only then will our relationships be

Less about two incomplete people

Searching in vain for completion in each other.

And more about

Two complete, authentic, 

Beautifully messy individuals

Learning, healing and 

Rising in love together. 

If you’re interested in having a healthy relationship, click here to learn more about my new workbook for single women, Get the Love You Deserve. 

Or you can also click here to purchase the ebook version on Amazon. 

The Negative Voice in Your Mind

That negative voice in your mind

It’s not yours.

It’s other people’s opinion of you.

It’s the voices that you trusted

When you weren’t in your power.

That negative voice in your mind

Is not evil.

It’s broken

It’s hurting

It’s afraid.

But still…

That negative voice in your mind

Knows nothing

About the real you

The powerful you

The brave you

The you that Your Creator intended.

Be kind to it, yes

But don’t believe it.

Don’t listen to it.

Don’t trust it.

Because it’s simply not true.

And it will never, ever, be you.

Is It Unspiritual to be Ambitious? The TRUTH About Ambition.

ambition

So many of us, myself included, feel embarrassed for having big dreams.

We feel uncomfortable talking about our goals

We pretend we don’t have big ambitions.

All because we bought into the world’s message that too much ambition is bad. Which it can be IF we use it as an excuse to treat people badly.

But what if there was something deeper, more meaningful, hidden within your ambition?

What if your ambition, the deepest desire of your heart, was given to you as the highest expression of your purpose?

What if honoring your ambition, being of service to something greater than yourself, was the most spiritual thing you could do?

Would you still be embarrassed about it if you knew your ambition was a gift, a precious gift, given to you by your Creator to share with the world?

The privilege of our life is to honor our ambition, 

To fulfill our part in the dance of the Universe, 

Assigned to us when the Universe was born.

Which means we have a Divine obligation to honor our ambition.

No one else has to accept, or even understand our ambition.

But we have a sacred responsibility to manifest and share our ambition.

Because that’s why it was given to us.