Staying Safe: Sexual Harassment

A discussion of your Summer experience wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the workplace. We’ve all taken the unpaid internships, the part time barista jobs to support aforementioned unpaid internships, and worked those weird hours all summer long. What we have noticed is that one subject is rarely covered in depth during your painstakingly long orientation: sexual harassment. So, let’s talk.

Sexual harassment is defined as behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional, social situation. If you’re a little confused, don’t worry because so are we. Here’s some examples:

1. Sharing sexual or inappropriate images or videos.

2. Sending letters, texts, or emails with suggestive content.

3. Telling lewd jokes or sexual anecdotes.

If these examples remind you of more than just a few unsavory experiences, you’re not alone. Anywhere from 25% to 85% percent of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. These numbers vary on sampling size and demographics, but the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission provides the higher estimate. Different types of work experience higher rates of harassment, such as working for tips or working in a male dominated field.

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That’s not all there is to the story. A study conducted by the University of Michigan in 2003 found that 75% of employees who spoke out against workplace harassment experienced retaliation in some form. This makes it harder for those being victimized to speak out and is what allows the cycle of harassment to continue.

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So, you’ve experienced workplace harassment in some shape or form. What’s next?

Step 1.) Document every instance of harassment

  • Every email, text message, or personal encounter should be saved in a folder or document only you have access to, which means keeping it off the company’s laptop and Google Drive. Be detailed by writing down dates and times. Even if you’re not ready to report or don’t currently have any intention to, this evidence could be supportive if anyone else comes forward or if you later on decide to file a complaint. We’re not asking you to do something you’re not ready for, but we are asking you to be meticulous in case someone else needs this evidence. There’s a good chance you’re not the only one who is experiencing or will experience sexual harassment from this specific person.

Step 2.) Monitor the situation

  • Basically, keep doing what you’re doing. You’re trying to build a case while still protecting your mental and emotional health. Take as many screenshots as you need to, even if you’re not entirely sure it counts as harassment. However, if it makes you feel uncomfortable, there’s a good chance that does count as harassment and we encourage you to write the instance down. If you start to feel unsafe or if you feel like you’re ready to say something, go ahead and proceed to step 3.

Step 3.) Report, report, report

  • You might be feeling a little uneasy now, but we promise taking this step is for the best. Policies for reporting sexual harassment depend on the company, but generally presenting a well worded email to HR with a copy of the harassment incidences is a safe, proper way to proceed. We suggest stating what it is you would like to happen in regards to the harassment. Would you feel safer if they were moved to another department or office? Would you rather have a formal apology? Would you rather this person just be looked into further? It’s important to report in the first place, but we also want you to feel safe. The HR department should take the necessary steps to ensure your continued comfort in your workplace.

If you are still experiencing problems from this person or do not feel that your company’s policies adequately address sexual harassment, there is legal action available, depending on the area you are in. We advise you to seek legal counsel if necessary.

Sexual harassment has negative consequences for the victims and for the workplace environment. 1 in 10 women who experienced harassment have symptoms that met the definition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In addition, sexual harassment is associated with decreased workplace productivity. Some women choose to leave their jobs due to the harassment, which has consequences for their long term career goals.

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All in all, we want you to stay safe and comfortable at your workplace this Summer. If you’re experiencing something similar to what we’ve described, you’re not alone. If you’d like to share your story with us, send it in to batteredandbeautiful@gmail.com and we’ll post it anonymously.

Thanks for supporting us and have a great Summer!




Staying Safe: Online Dating

Dating can be an important part of your summer experience. Whether you’ve been single for a while or are just now stepping out onto the scene, online dating tends to be the go-to move for a lot of people, young and old. According to a study by Pew Research, about 27% of people aged 18-24 use online dating apps and 59% of Americans would agree that online dating is a good way to meet people.

These types of statistics make us feel a little better about perusing through online dating sites. If everyone’s doing it, how unsafe can it be? However, even though messaging and talking to people online has become normalized, we should still remember the warnings from our childhoods! Not everyone you meet online will be exactly who they present themselves to be, so we’re here to give you some tips on how to avoid tricky (and even dangerous) situations in the world of online dating.

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Tip #1: Google your date and be smart.

  • A little research never hurt nobody. You can find all sorts of lovely (or maybe not so lovely) things when you look up your date! There’s a lot of good and bad information that is easily accessibly to the public. We suggest you take a brief glance and see if anything significant shows up. Don’t obsess, but if an article comes up from a police report, well - you know what to do. If you notice any conflicting details that makes you feel uneasy, it’s also never too late to cancel. Do what makes you feel safest.

  • Does this person have 20 Facebook friends and seemingly no other online presence? He or she could be shy and more offline, or they could be catfishing. Reverse image search on Google also works well for these tricky situations and when you’re trying to understand if the person you’re about to meet is who they say they are. Again, raise the red flag if something tips you off.

  • Verify further. Beyond checking friend counts, make sure the story checks out to a certain point. What’s nice about grandiose claims is that they tend to be easily fact checked. If they sound too good to be true, they might just be.

Tip #2: Meet soon and in public.

  • We (hopefully) all know this by now, but meeting in a public place is your best bet. Try to meet in not only a public spot, but a relatively safe, happening area as well. For example, maybe don’t meet in the park on the outskirts of your city, but rather at a cool coffee shop you heard of in downtown.

  • Meeting “soon” after matching might sound a little counter intuitive, but hear us out. There’s only so much you can find out about someone through online messaging. If they’re hesitant to meet up or will only meet under certain, possibly unreasonable circumstances, you should be getting a little suspicious. If you’ve checked them out as best as possible, we suggest cutting to the chase and setting a date to meet. Meeting soon will save your time and feelings in the long run.

  • Text a friend your whereabouts and a photo or name of the person you’re seeing. If you’re close with this friend, you could also share your location (via iPhone) until the end of the day. This will also give you the peace of mind of knowing that someone is looking out for you. Take some of the pre-date stress off and phone a friend beforehand!

Tip #3: Be honest and, if needed, impolite.

  • We appreciate a gal or guy with a bit of attitude. Stand up for yourself and don’t be afraid to hurt some feelings if the situation starts to feel unsafe. If you feel pressured to go somewhere or leave the public area you met in, then make a firm statement. If you feel that there could be some retaliation, you can excuse yourself to the bathroom and maybe call that friend you texted earlier to phone in an excuse. There is no reason you have to take a chance on someone you have just met. Any reasonable person that you would want to continue to see can and will understand your hesitations!

  • Even with all of our lovely technology, there’s something about human instinct that is almost always on track. We have to listen to our gut, if nothing else. There’s tons of research on the subject, but essentially, some part of you will pick up and recognize when something is off in an individual. We can sense danger. If you feel that dizzying uncertainty, we suggest you follow it. Again, be mean if needed.

  • Similarly, be honest with yourself. We love to make excuses for other people’s behaviors in an effort to give them the benefit of the doubt. We ignore red flags and all of the other small, seemingly insignificant warning signs that we notice clearly in hindsight. Red flags are often signs that our boundaries are being pushed. It is as if this unsavory person is showing a side of them self and asking you “will you allow this type of energy in your life?” Save yourself the pain by being truthful about what you want. If he makes a weird, sexist joke, you don’t have to sit out the remainder of the date. If she’s rude to the waiter or makes off color comments about other people, you’re not required to be there or go on a second date. Honesty with yourself, especially when dating, is the only way to be.

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Have any fun, sweet, weird, or crazy online dating stories? Send them our way! We’d love to anonymously share your stories and spread the knowledge! Send these in to batteredandbeautiful@gmail.com.

We want you guys to have fun this Summer and, as always, stay safe!

Teen Dating Violence: Starting Early

Our final story of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, now on the cusp of Women’s History Month, details the slow onset of red flags in a relationship that started later in high school. After trust had been established, she started to notice something was wrong, but continued to make excuses for these behaviors.

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My senior year of high school, I began dating someone I was close friends with. Our relationship unfolded as I watched him score winning touchdowns, positively influence our community, and grow in how much we appreciated one another. I got sucked in and I thought it was so glamorous. After three months, the tide shifted and my relationship went from everything I wanted to dating a person I didn’t recognize. I held onto a small glimmer of hope that maybe he would change. Our small disagreements went from him being gentle and kind to hurling insults and making me feel like I wasn’t a person with valid feelings. I made excuses. Our saturday nights went from dinner and a movie to getting lied to like clockwork as he started to abuse drugs. Still, I made excuses. Our sundays went from spending time with family to turning me against everyone who didn’t approve of his behavior until I was left with no one but him. There I was, still making excuses. As time was passing, the more excuses I was making the more my self respect was deteriorating. I started to believe I deserved this. After almost a year of being together, I was controlled, lied to and belittled on a daily basis. Despite him throwing a package of deodorant at me, I constantly said “Well he never has put his hands on me… At least he didn’t do that.” That is the extent to how far my excuses went for his behavior. You do not have to be touched to be abused. I was so close to spending my whole life making excuses and holding on to the person I thought he should have been, not the abusive and manipulative guy standing in front of me. All of me felt as though I had invested so much time in this person, so I couldn’t just leave. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. I would rather kiss the wasted time goodbye than kiss a person who was wasting my time. No one deserves to feel like lesser of a person and it is never too late to walk away. I am a living example of that.

Our friend is right: it is never too late to walk away. The investment in the relationship does not justify the harm or pain experienced. There is hope for survivors and victims of teen dating violence and we are so proud to have these strong women in our corner.

Thank you all for the stories you have shared with us and for the support our community gives men and women experiencing these situations. The respect and trust we have received is unparalleled. To get involved, stay up to date with Battered and Beautiful as we release information about volunteer opportunities and fundraisers. We are thankful and appreciative of you!

If you or someone you love is experiencing TDV, please know that there are resources to help you. You can visit the National Domestic Violence hotline at www.thehotline.org for more resources.


Teen Dating Violence: Long Term Harm

Our next story comes from a friend of Battered and Beautiful that was introduced to teen dating violence at the exceptionally young age of 14. Though she was never physically harmed, the trauma of emotional abuse runs deep, especially when experienced during adolescence.

When I was 14, I was dating a boy who emotionally abused me on a regular basis. My first time having sex was with him. He begged to do it without a condom until I was pressured into saying yes for fear of him leaving me. Afterwards, he threatened to tell everyone if I didn’t continue to sexually please him whenever he wanted. Our relationship continued to be extremely toxic and he would send messages of him asking out other girls when we would get into fights. He was emotionally unstable and would consistently tell me he’d kill himself if I were to ever leave him. For three years I felt like an unlicensed psychiatric therapist even though I was still trying to figure out how to deal with my own mental health. Our last encounter when I was 17 ended with him telling me I deserved to die.

Her story reminds us of the emotional burden of unhealthy relationships and the techniques abusers use to keep victims emotionally invested in the outcome of the relationship. The patterns of digital abuse, sexual pressures, and jealousy are hallmarks of abusive situations and can be experienced by anyone, regardless of status or wealth. We are thankful she found a way out and extend our resources to those who might be currently experiencing teen dating violence.

If you or someone you love is experiencing TDV, please know that there are resources to help you. You can visit the National Domestic Violence hotline at www.thehotline.org for more resources.

Signs of a Healthy Relationship

As a part of our TDV campaign, we would like to highlight healthy behaviors teens and adults should seek in their own relationships. While unhealthy relationships might be hard to acknowledge, healthy behaviors are easier to notice and seek when dating.

Find someone who:

  1. Treats you with respect.

  2. Never puts you down.

  3. Doesn’t get angry if you spend time with your friends or family.

  4. Isn’t afraid to share their thoughts and feelings.

  5. Is proud of your accomplishments and successes.

In a healthy relationship, the couple gives each other space to see friends and family. Physical and emotional boundaries that have been set are respected and acknowledged. Disagreements are handled without excessive yelling or blame. You should feel like you’re able to talk about how you feel without being retaliated against, either physically or with verbal, emotional abuse.

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In the digital world we live in, young adults should also be aware of healthy technology behaviors. Texts shouldn’t be excessive or disruptive to every day life. Phones aren’t snooped and locations aren’t tracked. Digital boundaries should be respected as well (i.e., your partner should not pressure you to stay in contact 24/7 or send explicit photos.)

In essence, your partner should be your partner, not your parent. We encourage people of all ages to seek these healthy behaviors and relationships that make you feel respected and equal to your partner.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1- 800- 799- 7233.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 2019

Battered and Beautiful is focused on education and advocacy. For the next few weeks, we will be anonymously posting the stories of women who have reached out to us with their stories of teen dating violence in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Our first story comes from a young woman who had her first brush with dating abuse at the age of 13.

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My first experience with teen dating violence was when I was 13. I had started “dating” this guy that was a little older than me. He was really sweet at first, always checking in on me every day. However, he very quickly became obsessive. He would call me when I got off the bus and make me stay on the phone with him until I fell asleep. He would keep tabs on me at school and made sure I wasn’t flirting with someone else. He started to call me names and verbally abuse me over the phone whenever I would pick up in addition to when we were together. It was like having a bully you called a boyfriend. This went on for several months and I kept it a secret from my family the entire time. When things finally ended, he threatened to tell everyone that I was whore. He continued to call my house phone for years after, even when he moved away. He later went on to date one of my high school friends who endured similar abuse.

Teen dating violence can affect anyone anywhere, regardless of status or wealth. Education and awareness of the cycle of abuse are necessary for prevention. We need to bring awareness about how common this problem is, how it affects the families in our communities, and what we can do to help survivors. 

If you’re a survivor of TDV and want to help us spread awareness about this issue, we would love to hear from you. To share your story with us, you can either message us directly or email us at batteredandbeautiful@gmail.com. We keep everything completely anonymous. 

If you or someone you love is experiencing TDV, please know that there are resources to help you. You can visit the National Domestic Violence hotline at www.thehotline.org for more resources.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

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Our Summer 2017

After a long summer of fundraising and advocacy, we wanted to give an update on the work we have done and the progress you have helped us accomplish! 

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To start off the summer, our founder, Jenny Foster, spoke to the Grapevine High School Young Feminist group about gender related issues and what we should do in our every day lives to combat these problems. The GHS Young Feminist group is an amazing young group of men and women who have given back through Battered and Beautiful frequently over the past couple months.

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After our Pluckers Fundraising Night in May, we hosted our first "Let's Talk" event at RE: defined coffee house in Grapevine. At this event, we were able to meet and talk with young activists in the local community about the issues they care about. We look forward to hosting more of these discussion events!

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Pictured here is Gavin Rubin- physics and teaching extraordinaire! Back in June, Jenny and Gavin had the opportunity to teach the kids at Gatehouse about how energy works. With the help of balloons, playing cards and candy for motivation, they were able to lead a fun lesson and encourage students to explore the world around them.

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Following another fundraiser at Kung Fu Saloon in Dallas, we hosted our first (and definitely not our last) bake sale at the Texas General Store in Grapevine. Several Grapevine High School alumni came out to volunteer and attract attention to our booth. A huge thank you to all who donated and volunteered as well as the Texas General Store for hosting us!

We have had an amazing time fundraising and volunteering in the area. Look out for more announcements over the upcoming months to get involved as we continue to advocate for battered women and their families.

You can now make a tax deductible donation online. Donate now. 

Our First Month

We are so incredibly happy with the turn out at our most recent events. I wanted to take the time to reflect on the volunteers and activists who have so graciously dedicated their time to helping battered women!

Some of our friends at Texas State University in San Marcos hosted an items/clothing drive at their dorm. They were able to donate three boxes of clothing as well as a box of toiletries, all of which have been given to local shelters! From just a group of friends hosting a small scale drive, they were able to give back to their community and ultimately make a difference. 

The turnout for the Texas State items drive! Thank you, Maddy Cikota and friends!

The turnout for the Texas State items drive! Thank you, Maddy Cikota and friends!

We also were contacted by Casen McMahan, a GHS graduate and current UNT student. He felt compelled to host his own items drive at UNT and the results were fantastic!

At our official items drive at Market Street over spring break, I was joined by several GHS Young Feminists to sit outside Market Street and talk with customers about our organization. Their eager-to-serve attitude and punctuality made the difference for our drive. We were approached by countless people who were curious about who we are and they were all met with the smiling faces of the Grapevine High School Young Feminists. 

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At our first fundraiser, we had the delight of working with Larry McCain of Wise Guys Pizzeria. Wise Guys was an incredible host to our fundraiser and we can't thank those who dined with us enough!

As always, thank you for the continued support of our organization. We look forward for the many months to come!

Best,

 

Jenny Foster

President and Founder of the Battered and Beautiful Organization

The Beginning

Hello everyone!

This is blog post number one of the Battered and Beautiful non-profit organization and I thought I would use this opportunity to explain what we are about. 

This project has been in the works for close to a year now and was really set in motion once I graduated high school. After a couple years fundraising for local women's shelters and anti-human trafficking organizations as a Grapevine High School Young Feminist, I became motivated to start my own distinct organization that continues to fundraise for programs benefitting the battered women of the DFW area, and then some. From this passion, the Battered and Beautiful Organization was created.

With this project, I hope to shed some light on the issues that are affecting the local Grapevine/ DFW metroplex areas as well as offer opportunities to get the community more involved. Whether it means simply passing out flyers for an upcoming fundraiser on Main Street or teaching a yoga class at a women's shelter, I believe everyone has some ability that they can use to help the gender-related issues of the local area.

Teen dating violence, domestic violence and human trafficking are problems that dearly affect Dallas. However, with education, empowerment and action, I think something great can be done.

If you are interested in getting in contact with me, please fill out the volunteer form or email us at batteredandbeautiful@gmail.com

Best,

Jenny Foster

Organizer/President of the Battered and Beautiful Organization