Treat Me With Dignity

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About the Program

Published in Company Written by juliem

What is Summer Flow? Summer Flow is an online teenage girls engagement program designed to empower, inspire and motivate our future young leaders in understanding the meaning of femininity. It is a 4 months program targeting teenage girls ages 12-19 who live in North America, The Islands, Europe and Africa. Collectively created by the Founder of Give Me Dignity, Julie Mansfield and Authors Taiece, Lanier and Yetunde Taiwo, the program will take place on Google Hangout with up to 10 girls on the panel and over 1,000 to engage in conversations about feminine hygiene, the roller coaster of emotions during your menstrual cycle, and reforming the myths and fallacies about periods. This program also gives the girls a platform to engage about their relationships with boys and pure girl power: the ability to tap into your extraordinary self.

GMD: The Story

Published in Company Written by Granville

Welcome to Give Me Dignity, and thanks for taking the time to visit our website. Behind every passion there is a story, and indulge me while I share mine, and that of GMD.

 

I migrated to the US from Jamaica where I was born and had spent my formative years. Yes, we were poor, and though by no means were we at the bottom of the barrel, I had seen my share of abject poverty. Never, however, had I seen a homeless person, or even knew homelessness was a condition. Imagine my horror when having moved to Brooklyn, New York I saw homeless people—men and women.

 

The odd brain with which I’m blessed worried not about the cold or the lack of food or the lack of a bed but rather on what homeless women did “at that time of the month.”  I had just seen a woman, padded with all her earthly belongings that made her look like a rancid version of the Pillsbury Doughboy, and wondered how she could ever maintain her dignity when she would have to peel years of life from her back just to change her pad, assuming she had access to pads of course.

 

The thought lagged wherever I went: Australia, Austria, London, France, Spain, wherever. It accompanied my relationships, was there in university, present for through the raising of my girls, it was always there. Then in 2009, it became more than a thought, it became the prevailing thought. Like so many folks across the globe really, I had been blessed with a layoff from a job I enjoyed but with which I was starting to feel too familiar. Opportunities came knocking, folks came calling but I hadn’t the urge to explore anything other than finding out what homeless women did do ‘at that time of the month.’

 

I found that they used whatever was available: dirty paper towel, rags, newspaper, nothing. Then my daughter returned from Australia. I met her at MIA and having not seen her in a year, all I wanted to do was hug and squeeze her back into the familiarity of my arms. I reached; she recoiled. “What’s the matter I asked?”  “Don’t touch me!” she said.  See, she was in the middle of her cycle and the nearly 20-hour trek from Sydney to Miami had left her feeling dirty and disgusting. But alas, she could do something about it!

 

And there it was, I would start a charity that helped a woman, regardless of her situation, have access to the basic necessities during her menstrual cycle, a program that would help a woman satisfy that urge to just feel fresh during her period. We all have that feeling; we don’t all have the means to achieve.

 

Give Me Dignity was born. And now it’s growing to include another very close and personal issue: Childhood Sexual Abuse. As a survivor, it is my responsibility to help shed light on the pervasiveness of the problem in my beloved Jamaica, and to offer preventive steps as well as rehabilitation/resources for those already affected. Having written a book, Everyday Jamaica: Culture of Complicity, on my experiences, I know first hand the healing power of therapy and support, and hope to impart the same on my sisters and brothers touched by the evil hand of molestation, incest and rape.

 

I hope you join me in helping to stem the tide of abuse in Jamaica and the Caribbean, and that you also see fit to help restore dignity to a woman in need, especially during her menstrual cycle.

 

Wishing you a life of dignity, peace and love!

 

Julie

 

 

Everyday Jamaica

Published in Company Written by Granville

Set in 1980s Jamaica, Everyday Jamaica: Culture of Complicity offers a graphically raw,unfiltered look at an idyllic childhood interrupted by chronic generational molestation and incest against the backdrop of Jamaica as paradise. This debut novel chronicles the author’s history of molestation, starting with the initial incident, at age eight, at the hands of her mother’s brother.

The non-fiction novel takes readers on a retrogressive journey through each occurrence of sexual violation by two uncles, a “church brother,” an obeah man charged with saving her dying brother and a cousin. It is a journey punctuated by a pregnancy and un-anesthetized abortion at age 15; a bedside seat to the death of a 21 year-old brother to an unnamed illness; and witnessing multiple murders including that of a Grade 3 classmate at the hands of his father.

Everyday Jamaica: Culture of Complicity also delves into the pervasiveness of sex crimes against children, looking at the extraordinary efforts employed in protecting the perpetrators within the author’s family. Of her eight maternal uncles, four were known predators, two of whom engaged in incestuous relationships with their own daughters. Though one would ultimately be arrested, to pervert the course of justice and suspend conviction, imprisonment and ‘shame,’ the victim was removed from the island and brought to live with an aunt in Barbados.

Indeed, the novel looks at the complicity of those who know but accept the abuse as cultural, refusing to take steps necessary to protect the victim, instead going above and beyond to protect the ‘family name’ from the shame of producing a predator. The novel points to that complicity as being directly responsible for the ongoing abuse of at least ten family members who have so far admitted being victimized. And, with religiosity at the core of the Jamaican culture (with 1600 churches, Jamaica has more churches per square miles than any other nation), the novel brings into question the disappointment of church folks as perpetrators of sexual predation.

Through years of therapy and a determination not to succumb to the clichés of a life interrupted, the author has embraced her past, using memories of the dark days to fuel change in the treatment of survivors and the affected, empowering them to live outside the culture of complicity, and working for changes in punishment for perpetrators her native Jamaica.

About the Founder

Published in Company Written by Granville

Julie MansfieldFew things irk Julie Marie Mansfield more than the people who know a child is being sexually abused and say or do nothing. Herself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), Julie now make it her mission to help inspire change in humanizing survivors, giving a face to the harrowing CSA statistics that say 1 in 3 girls (and 1 in 6 boys) will be sexually violated before reaching adulthood.


Starting at age eight, Julie was the victim of molestation, incest, rape, violence and abuse, primarily at the hands of her uncles. It’s an abuse that started in Jamaica and ended in the United States, almost a decade later. Then, following the death of her grandfather in 2000, Julie decided to return to ground zero, confronting the genesis of a life of abuse. It was just after the funeral when she decided to visit the ‘path’ where she was first abused, only to find the path wholly impenetrable. That, she took as a sign to let go, to seek help in releasing the pains of the past; as a steering away from living in shame and guilt. And so the conversations began and what came out was indeed a shock: four of her eight maternal uncles were chronic abusers, some abusing their own daughters. In talking with family members, there was a chorus: ME TOO. The closure of that ‘path,’ you could say, was the beginning of a new journey.


In learning of the pervasiveness of CSA in her own family, Julie decided to pen a memoir chronicling her own abuse. That book, ‘Maybe God Was Busy,’ has turned her into a soldier, albeit a reluctant one, in the war against CSA.


Before finding her voice, Julie had buried the tragic experiences of her formative years, and went on to successful scholastic and work careers. An alumna of Morant Bay High School in Jamaica, she went on to graduate Top Scholar and Summa Cum Laude from Temple University where she majored in Journalism, Public Relations & Advertising (JPRA). In the work world Mansfield was the Director of FACE/Special Events and Cultural Grants for the City of Miami; Public Information Officer for the City of North Miami; and producer of major events including the 2007 Carifta Games in Turks and Caicos.


But realizing the years of suppression and disassociating were no longer conducive to healing, Julie sought therapy at Miami’s Journey Institute (now Family Counseling Services), and was finally able to reassign the shame to the rightful owners—her abusers. As part of her therapy, Julie had to participate in group counseling, a move she credits with one of her greatest epiphanies.


“I used to always think of men as predators, then in group therapy we had two men who were also victims of CSA,” Julie recalls. “It was only then I could empathize with men and see them as humans and not just animals always on the hunt.”


Since the publication of ‘Maybe God Was Busy,’ scores of survivors—men and women—have come out of the shadows of shame and hurt, thanking Julie for inspiring them to acknowledge their own abuse. That motivated her to look beyond simply telling her own story and to find a way to help others bold enough to tell their own. She founded Give Me Dignity (www.givemedignity.org) to do just that. And now, Julie uses the book as a catalyst for discussion, and to bring awareness to GMD and its dual mission: 1) Child Sex Abuse Abatement and Rehabilitation programs in the Caribbean, and 2) restoring dignity to homeless women by providing feminine hygiene products.


To know Julie is to accept that she embodies a simple philosophy, often telling you, “I’ve had some rough patches, I’ve had some great stints. Just as no one’s life is all good all the time, no one’s life is all bad all the time.  I’m no exception. I’ve had a horrific start; how my story ends is entirely up to me, and right now I’m living a fabulous life anchored in gratitude.


Twice divorced, Julie now enjoys a beautiful relationship with French-born Claude Postel. She lives in Miami and still smothers her two adult daughters, Jenee and Fabienne. In her ever-dwindling spare time, she enjoys travel, cooking, reading, writing and yes—karaoke which she readily admits to being ‘the world’s best worse singer.’ And a self-proclaimed fashionista, Julie truly enjoys clothes.  She has had to put a combination lock on her closet—to keep her daughters out!




Restoring Dignity

Published in Company Written by Granville

Mission  

GMD strives to foster a sense of dignity amidst disillusionment and disenfranchisement, and to foster humanity among people who might otherwise feel abandoned and helpless.


The Vision

To restore a woman’s dignity, especially during her menstrual cycle, by providing monthly care packets that help her feel clean.

To restore a man’s dignity by providing the most basic essentials so he can look his best, despite the struggles with poverty and/or homelessness.

To bridge the gap between a doctor’s recommendation and a woman’s reality by providing Breast Buddies.



Sound The Alarm Jamaica

Published in Company Written by Granville

4,999 cases of abuse were reported in just first 9 months of 2012! That's nearly 20 children EVERY day!

If that trend continues, by year's end 7,300 children will have been sexually abused. Considering 7,245 children were abused between 2007 and 2011, we have major cause for concern!

Sexual Abuse is a chronically under-reported crime, just imagine  the real number if ALL incidents were reported!


Alarming Facts

Published in Company Written by Granville

1 in 3 girls will be abused before she turns 18

20% of victims are under age 8

More than 60% of pregnant teenagers are victims of sex abuse

90% of abusers are known to their victims

How You Can Help

Published in Company Written by Granville


First, if we are to effectively eradicate incidents of child sex crimes, it is all our responsibilities to increase the dialogue and push for a cultural shift in the way we view sex—and women in Jamaica. Sexualizing young kids is never funny, playful, incidental or harmless.  Until we stop looking at children, young girls in particular, as sex objects, molestation and sex crimes will remain a cancer eating away at contemporary Jamaica.  

Pick a ‘P’
There are two simple choices: You are either a PREDATOR or a PROTECTOR. There is absolutely no middle ground when it comes to safeguarding our children’s trust, innocence, peace of mind and welfare. As a protector, it is your responsibility to report cases of abuse, even when those closest to you, your family’s breadwinners, are the perpetrators. Knowing and not reporting is not only a breach of that promise to protect it is in fact a crime. Failure to protect ALL children, your children is doing everything in your power to support and safeguard the offender. Know something? Say something. Suspect something? Ask questions; say something; DO SOMETHING!

Adopt Your School
This is simpler than it sounds. By rolling out the GMD program in your home school (basic, primary, high), you’ll be help us reach every Jamaican school in our quest to provide healing to those already affected, and to prevent abuse of the vulnerable. Ask us how simple yet infinitely rewarding it is to help your school, your community heal and prosper!

Become a MAN
By proclaiming your aversion to childhood sex crimes, you’ll be helping to spread the word whilst showing your intolerance for any and all kinds of violence against our children. As a member of Men Against Nastiness, you’re showing you’re not okay with abuse.  Ask us how easy it is to show you care!

Become a WOMAN
Quite simply, you’ll be among the ranks of a powerful group: We’re Over Molestation And Nastiness! You’ll be standing up for every Jamaican girl and boy, being their defense against exploitation and abuse, and you’ll be helping girls grow into women free from the pains of abuse, and boys into men of honor. It’s quite easy; just ask us how!

Donate
Yes, we take in-kind donations. Cash doesn’t hurt either. The work we do is invaluable. But unfortunately we’ve not yet won the lottery and depend greatly on the generosity of donors to enable us to protect our children from the evils of childhood sex abuse. Simply click on the Donate button on our homepage or you may mail your checks or money orders.

Vigilance not Vigilantism
They say an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. This is perhaps truest when it comes to child sex abuse. Because every child deserves to grow up with his/her trust and sexual boundaries in tact, it is the responsibility of every adult to help prevent child sex crimes.  

Damage, in most cases irreparable, has been done once a child has been sexually violated. Attacking or killing the abuser often does little to rehabilitate the child. In fact, such vigilantism has the opposite effect, adding guilt and responsibility for the person’s death to an already long list of negative emotions borne by the child.

Rather than focus on vengeance after the fact, that passion should be put into preventing child sex abuse in the first place. Preventing the abuse betters our communities by breaking the cycle of other societal and health issues, like teen pregnancy, violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity, heart disease and suicide – all far more likely to be experienced by victims of sexual abuse. Learning the facts about child sex abuse helps prevent it. Factual, honest conversations about child sex abuse help prevent it. Getting involved helps prevent it. Taking the law into your own hands DOESN’T prevent it.
    
Vigilance equals prevention. Vigilantism is a lot like trying to fortify your house after it has been destroyed by hurricane.

Care to Share
Thank you for caring, bless you for sharing! See, by sharing your stories, you are helping to comfort children, reminding them they are not alone. Support is paramount in transcending victimhood. Your support will help transform a victim into a survivor!


Prevent to Avoid Cure
Vigilance and dialogue are essential in helping to prevent child sex abuse. So is ensuring you create an atmosphere of mutual trust. Additionally, the following can be used as a broad guide in helping to preventing sex abuse and its impact; naturally, these are a guide and should not take the place of common sense:


Talk About It: You should begin by encouraging and fostering open communication in which the child feels comfortable telling you just about anything. Please  remember it is extremely difficult for a child to ‘say no’ to a person of authority, whether a teacher, an uncle, a clergy. By having open honest communication with your child before something happens, you are setting the foundation and making it easier for your child to confide in you. Be mindful however, and understand why children are afraid to ‘tell.’


Boundaries:  Set clear boundaries with your children. By teaching them about their bodies and what constitutes violation, you are helping to equip them to recognize behaviors that compromise their boundaries. For example, you could teach your child that no one, not even an adult can touch her vagina. If children do not know what constitutes sexual  boundaries, we can hardly expect them to know when those boundaries are breached.

Learn the Facts:  By understanding the risks, you are better able to safeguard your children. Realities, not trust, should guide your decisions about your children. And, stay alert. Although signs are usually there, unless you are alert and attentive, you might miss them.


Minimize the Risks: It is also important to minimize the risks by eliminating wherever possible, one-adult/one-child situations. In doing so you’ll drastically lower the risk of sexual abuse of your children.


Act on Suspicions: Trust your instincts and report all suspicions of sex abuse. While it is important you  assure your child and make him/her your priority, it is important to note that you have the responsibility to report suspicions of abuse so they can be properly investigated by the  proper agencies. Children are experts at self-blame and it is key you help them realize  they were victimized, not the other way around.


Take a Stand:
Choose to stand with your child, not the abuser. By taking the appropriate steps, let your child know that he/she will be believed!


Why Now?

Published in Company Written by Granville

Give Me Dignity provides fundamental tools in helping to combat the prevalence of child sex crimes, starting in Jamaica and eventually throughout the Caribbean.  Indeed the timing is right as headlines continue to shock! With an unwavering sense of duty to our children, we are ready to tackle the enormous task of helping to rehabilitate the thousands already impacted, while trying to prevent further victimization of our children. Education is key, so is an open, honest dialogue that sweeps nothing under the rugs!  


Global statistics based on reported cases reveal that one in every four girls and one in every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. In Jamaica, more than 7,000 cases of child sexual abuse have been reported over the last four years. The Office of the Children’s Registry recently revealed 4, 499 cases of sexual abuse was reported in the first nine months of 2012—an increase of 11.4 percent over the corresponding period in 2011.
According o the Registry, neglect was the most common report received, representing 27 percent of all reports.


This was followed by reports of children who were considered to be in need of care and protection at 18 percent, and children who were sexually abused which represented 17 percent. Perhaps most alarming is the rise in all major types of sexual abuse, which included a 66 percent increase in buggery, 28 percent increase in fondling and a 35 percent increase in incest. There was also a 31 percent increase in oral sex and 56 per cent increase in rape.  Sadly, the level of crime in Jamaica is ranked among the top in the world and this also extends to sexual crimes and violence against women and girls in particular.


GMD specifically aims to:
•    Teach young people in schools how to recognize sexual abuse.

•    Provide an outlet for teenagers to talk about Child Sexual Abuse without fear of judgment, ridicule or reprimand.

•    To reduce the number of sexual abuse cases across Jamaica.

•    To build positive self esteem amongst teenage girls and boys.

•    To offer support to victims of sexual abuse.

Grooming is the process by which an offender draws a victim into a sexual relationship and maintains that relationship in secrecy. The shrouding of the relationship is an essential feature of grooming.

The grooming sex offender works to separate the victim from peers, typically by engendering in the child a sense that they are special to the child and giving a kind of love to the child that the child needs.

Different law enforcement officers and academics have proposed models of the "stages" of grooming. Since there are a variety of these models, it's best to think of the grooming by sex offenders as a gradual, calculated process that ensnares children into a world in which they are ultimately a willing part of the sex abuse.  Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner, an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine explains the six stages that can lead up to sexual molestation.

Stage 1: Targeting the victim
The offender targets a victim by sizing up the child's vulnerability—emotional neediness, isolation and lower self-confidence. Children with less parental oversight and unmet emotional needs are more desirable prey.

Stage 2: Gaining the victim's trust
The sex offender gains trust by watching and gathering information about the child, getting to know his needs and how to fill them. In this regard, sex offenders mix effortlessly with responsible caretakers because they generate warm and calibrated attention. Only more awkward and overly personal attention, or a gooey intrusiveness, provokes the suspicion of parents. Otherwise, a more suave sex offender is better disciplined for how to push and poke, without revealing him/herself. Think of the grooming sex offender on the prowl as akin to a spy—and just as stealth.

Stage 3: Filling a need
Once the sex offender begins to fill the child's needs, that adult may assume noticeably more importance in the child's life and may become idealized. Gifts, extra attention, affection may distinguish one adult in particular and should raise concern and greater vigilance to be accountable for that adult.

Stage 4: Isolating the child
The grooming sex offender uses the developing special relationship with the child to create situations in which they are alone together. This isolation further reinforces a special connection. Babysitting, tutoring, coaching and special trips all enable this isolation.

A special relationship can be even more reinforced when an offender cultivates a sense in the child that he is loved or appreciated in a way that others, not even parents, provide. Parents may unwittingly feed into this through their own appreciation for the unique relationship.

Stage 5: Sexualizing the relationship
At a stage of sufficient emotional dependence and trust, the offender progressively sexualizes the relationship. Desensitization occurs through talking, pictures, even creating situations (like going swimming) in which both offender and victim are naked. At that point, the adult exploits a child's natural curiosity, using feelings of stimulation to advance the sexuality of the relationship.

When teaching a child, the grooming sex offender has the opportunity to shape the child's sexual preferences and can manipulate what a child finds exciting and extend the relationship in this way. The child comes to see himself as a more sexual being and to define the relationship with the offender in more sexual and special terms.

Stage 6: Maintaining control
Once the sex abuse is occurring, offenders commonly use secrecy and blame to maintain the child's continued participation and silence—particularly because the sexual activity may cause the child to withdraw from the relationship.

Children in these entangled relationships—and at this point they are entangled—confront threats to blame them, to end the relationship and to end the emotional and material needs they associate with the relationship, whether it be the bikes the child gets to ride, the coaching one receives, special outings or other gifts. The child may feel that the loss of the relationship and the consequences of exposing it will humiliate and render him/her even more unwanted.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Child-Sexual-Abuse-6-Stages-of-Grooming/1

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