Survivors ‘Take Back the Night,’ sharing truths of sexualized violence

By Dajonea Robinson
Flapjack Staff

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Ravin Craig, health educator at Humboldt State University, feels that the power of surviving is different for everyone because. Not everyone will feel like a survivor when it comes to sexualized violence. “Survivor” was not a label that Craig used for a long time. It wasn’t until she was much older until she heard that word.

“When I first heard it, I rejected that word completely,” Craig said. “Later the word survivor became to mean a lot to me. I think it’s really powerful to claim that this didn’t beat me, it didn’t stop me from existing it and didn’t stop me from moving on. There’s a lot of power in surviving but it’s not the only way.”

It’s a personal choice to tell one’s truth but if whomever chooses to can it can be incredibly powerful.

Take Back the Night 2017 is a week of events to bring awareness to sexualized violence as it’s meant empower survivors as is dismantles the cycle of abuse among survivors; whether it be female, male, trans or non gender conforming people. Take Back the Night week gives survivors a platform to reclaim self worth as one reclaim control of their life. It allows survivors of sexual assault to feel supported as they stand in solidarity with their allies. Take back the night week is a time where education and deconstruction of internalized culture happens s resistance flourishes.

“The first time I went to Take Back the Night I heard other people talk about things that also happened to me and say them out loud,” Craig said. “It was something that nobody talked about at all, and I couldn’t understand what was happening. I went to Take Back the Night by accident the first time. It is incredibly powerful to be able to have a space where you can say something that you have had your whole life that you couldn’t talk about before. To then have people there to listen and hear you, be compassionate and not judge you based off [your story], for me it was instrumental to my survivorship.”

Craig was not sure why she chose to share her truth at the “Survivor’s Speak Out” of Take Back the Night. 

“ I was so emotional and so heartbroken that I  felt that I was going to explode if I didn’t say something at that point,” Craig said. “The first time I talked at TBTN it was similar and I kind of hoped to help other people who were like me. [I spoke up] so they can know that there is somebody else like them walking around on campus. Now as a staff member who is not a student I really feel that way.”

Craig believes that it is important to have people in faculty and staff positions who are also survivors of sexualized violence. Not saying that people should be survivors but, mainly representation is important.

Craig says she doesn’t know where her courage came from to speak against her injustices during TBTN.

“I don’t know about the word courage because, mostly I’m terrified especially when I’m talking about it,” Craig said. “Maybe it’s courageous to do something even though you’re scared. It’s really hard for me to identify with the word courageous but mostly I try to do what I can. Sometimes things come out wrong and sometimes they come out well. I think for me, my family [is my] point of courage, my community and myself as I get to know myself.”

Craig believes that reclaiming one’s strength can come in many ways. It’s all about education, and doing the work to resist rape culture through changing people’s minds. Craig does this by telling her story out loud as often as she can. She believes that this courageous act can be reclaiming and extremely empowering.

“I think that for survivors it’s okay to have your survivorship be the way that it is,” Craig said. “It doesn’t have to be the way that other people exist. Your story and your experience is your experience and it doesn’t have to be anyone else’s. So don’t let anyone tell you that you have to forgive, and don’t let anybody tell you you have to be angry. You don’t have to be a certain way or at a certain stage. Get help if you need it because there are people who are willing to support you.”

Oceana Madrone, artist for the Arcata Artisans Gallery believes  that it is important to share your story because  when someone keeps a secret they’re isolated and alone. That isolation and that secrecy keeps the alone. when they start to tell their story they realize that they’re not alone. Madrone also has confidence that it is also an important part of the healing process because, it’s the beginning of the healing process.

“I wanted  to offer a ray of hope to other survivors who are at the beginning of their healing journey,” Madrone said. “I could feel the pain and the feeling of being hopeless as though it’s always going to be this way. Because, I’m older I’ve had so many years to work on my healing process and I know that it is possible and it is so worth it. I’ve gone from hating myself to liking myself and everybody should like themselves. (Insert warm chuckle). I’ve gone from feeling unloved and unlovable to being cared for, and that is a feeling that everyone should be able to experience. When you don’t love yourself you don’t really believe that everyone else should love you, even if they do you don’t believe that you should because you don’t love yourself.”

Madrone says that allies must offer support and try not to take over the healing process for somebody else. Allies can offer love and support while they do it for themselves. Madrone resists by telling her story and by going to counseling for many years.

“I found my voice through art by making quilts, gals and beadwork,” Madrone said. “ I found my voice through that and I could share [it] with other people that also can be helped with my healing process.”

Madrone also found her voice  by finding people  who believed her and gave their full support without questioning her.  There’s a lot about victim blaming without actually hearing the victim. Madrone thinks that everyone can end sexualized violence by standing together and  not accepting rape culture as a normal standard. To resist and boycott movies and books that involves sexualized violence. Yet most importantly,

“[We must] hold the people who do [sexualized crimes] accountable, it takes the community to do that. We can’t expect a survivor to do it alone.”

Paula Arrowsmith-Jones, community outreach facilitator and campus advocate for North County Rape Crisis Team, said that the power of surviving can be regaining of some sense of control. This can be done by survivors making their own decisions of how to move forward. It’s also important to have their choices respected because it is their choice.

“Sharing of truth and being believed is important for some people at Take Back The Night,” Arrowsmith-Jones said.” “It can be more private for some people, the thread of it all is being listened to and believed. They do not have to speak out it is their decision. No one asks and no one deserves to be hurt. Survivors are often blamed for their assault. So anyone must not pass any  judgement of any choices the survivor made because, that was the best choice for them at the time. The beauty of working at the Rape Crisis Center is being able to witness the healing of survivors as they manifest their own future because, healing is possible.”

Resources:

North Coast Rape Crisis 24 Hour Hotlines

Del Norte:(707) 465-2851

Humboldt: (707) 445-2881

 

HSU Women’s Resource Center

Office Phone: (707) 826-4216

Email: hsuwomeen@gmail.com

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Student finds success — while working two jobs

By Dajonea Robinson
Flapjack staff

Working two jobs while also being a full time student is not a struggle that every student has to face nor experience during their time at college. Juggling more than one job is already a hassle, imagine adding the inevitable stress that life throws and 16 units.

Danni Pittman, 22, a psychology major and American Sign Language minor, works as a behavioral technician for autistic children and is also an IT Tech for Humboldt State University.

For Pittman’s behavioral technician job she works with autistic children in their homes, or other common natural environments. If they  go on outings they work on redirecting and solving behavioral problems. Pittman said some children are non verbal so sign language or picture boards help workers communicate with them and build language.

“For the IT job I learn about computers so that’s great,” Pittman said. “I replaced all of the computers in the library over break. I cleaned out all of the labs and projectors over summer over the course of 143 classrooms. I change fans, reprogram computers and stuff like that. I even fixed my professor’s computers and got a good name in class for that.”

Pittman’s mother motivated her to major in psychology because her mom worked with a lot of children that had disabilities. She found it interesting growing up learning about the different environmental factors that lead to these different disabilities and just wanting to help.

“Studying about the mind is amazing,” Pittman said. “Learning how to fix yourself through the way you think– that is so strong. Not like medicine,  just the perspectives we believe in. It drives my passion to see progress. Healing ourselves through ourselves is just a beautiful concept.”

 Pittman finds herself often tired from school and work because they both take up much of her time. However, she’s able to prioritize her day in ways that she’ll be the most successful.

“I balance work and school with time management,” Pittman said. “I take my agenda books and I write  different things that I have to do on calendars and cross things out when they’re done. I try to reward myself after. Since reward and pleasure is something that I practice with autistic children I work on it on myself. For example, if I finish this I get to watch this Netflix show.”

Je-Ni Hardy, 21, an environmental science major knows a fair deal about stress being a science major and also working while being a full time student. Hardy describes Pittman’s work ethic as one of the best she’s seen.

“She pushes herself beyond what is expected even if she will be tired in the end,” Hardy said. “Although her work load grows each semester she takes it in stride and keeps pushing. She does not believe in selling herself or her work short. Sometimes I have to tell her to take a break and exhale because she can be so determined to get a task done perfectly.”

Even though Pittman often finds herself stressed, she believes that the beautiful thing about learning psychology is that you can learn different ways to balance your stress. To be mindful that helps to become less stress. It’s like prevention so that one doesn’t get carried away in stressful events.

“I have to pay for everything I own, I pay for everything I have. I need two jobs so that I can stay stable,” Pittman said. “Being stable allows me to take care of my dog, Tuxedo. Stability gives me confidence in my bills and my house and it gives me confidence in my independence. It’s a necessity rather than a pleasure.”

Janaee Skyes 19, is a psychology major and a student assistant for economics department. Skyes looks up to Pittman as an older sister, a fellow black woman on Humboldt State’s campus. Skyes described Pittman as an outgoing hard worker who strives for success.

“She’s always doing something so she’s always busy yet, she’s really on top of her stuff,” Skyes said. “Really motivated in everything she has to do. I think she has an awesome work ethic. She still manages to go to school , have a job and be a president of a club. I think she’s done well with trying to balance her life.”

Ambition is an asset. All of what Pittman has tackled through thus far she claims that the only thing she would  change if she had to repeat working two jobs and school would be her focus level. She would weed out past distractions that held her back from getting better grades or better progress in work and school.

“For those who want to work two jobs and go to school, you have to believe that you can do it in order to do it,” Pittman said. “If you have a negative attitude every time you walk out of the door you are not going to enjoy anything you do. You have to find pleasure in everything that you do.”

Change doesn’t happen overnight and neither does success, she said. Strength and growth comes from conscious effort.

“ I’m struggling now for success,” Pittman said. “Struggling now means that I can be lazy later. If I had my own practice I can call in my own sick days because I can be my own boss. If I can help people with depression be happy then maybe I can  change parts of the world. There may be lower crime rates because maybe  people are learning how to control their thoughts, feeling and  their behaviors to be able to understand their feelings and their bodies. One person at a time changes so much. Just changing the perspective of  one person to make them happy and make them live happier is just a beautiful feeling I would feel like a good person for that. I would feel a little like a hero for each person I could help.”

Creative minds jam at Blondie’s Open Mic

By Dajonea Robinson
Flapjack Staff

Blondies Food and Drink
420 E California Ave
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 822-3453

Blondies Food and Drink has been around since 2009 and they’ve been serving the Arcata community ever since.  The renowned Open Mic night that takes place every Thursday for the past six years. Open Mic night is a space for creative artists of all genres to create their art.

Rowan Grantz, co-owner of Blondies Food and Drink said that the event runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Open Mic night performers are scheduled as first-come, first-serve.

“But you can choose your own spot,” Grantz said. “There are about 15-20 spots available. Each person gets a 15 minute slot. Anyone from the community is welcomed. So we see a lot of regulars that play every week and some new faces. It’s an open jam, so we see hip hop, spoken word, rock, country you name it.”

Open Mic night thrives with positive vibes. The atmosphere was supportive along with the crowd that fluctuated throughout the night. Thursday’s Open Mic is typically fuller when school is in session, mentioned Beth Isbell, host of Open Mic night and facilitator of the set list. She’s also a musician and poet. Isbell  described her facilitator job as “making sure people sound great” when they’re on stage. She loves to see young talent get their recognition.

“It’s like a performance class where people get to experiment and play with new ideas. They get to learn their craft and build their fan base and get better,” Isbell said. “Everybody should come, it’s fun. Sign ups start at 6:15 p.m,. the show starts at 6:30 and it goes until 10 o’clock. We allow poetry and spoken word, musicians, acapella, solo, duo, full bands we try to accommodate everybody if we can. We try to welcome everybody.”

Isbell opened the night at 6:30 p.m. by performing three of her original tunes with the guitar provided on stage. After her 15 minutes and three songs were finished, Isbell told the audience: “That’s how it’s done!” Then she proceeded to call the first person on the list.

One performer was Randal Martindale, 54, performer, sheet rocker, house painter, and poet. Martindale received his bachelor’s degree in English and French in 1987, also has his master’s degree in literature, teaching and writing from Humboldt. Martindale has performed in films and theatre however, last night’s traditional event was his first time ever performing at any open mic. He performed his original poem titled “Jacket Off.”

“Well, let me put it this way, I’ve had a pretty easy breezy life most of my life,” said Martindale. “I’ve never been politically concerned that much. I always considered politics as a form of entertainment when I didn’t have anything else to do.

“Let’s take it from the beginning I had this beautiful cat named Princess–this beautiful blue-eyed Siamese cat. A 11-year-old cat that was killed by someone on my property. And it was terrible and intense. So that was traumatic, it worst thing that I ever experienced.

“So ten days after that I lost my country. What am I going to do? I have nobody to protect, I couldn’t save my cat. I want to try to save my country so I started getting political. Being pissed helps. I’ve had experience in theatre [so I wasn’t nervous] and it felt good, it felt really good. I’m a passive aggressive person but now more so aggressive if you know what I mean.”