Categorized as: empowerment

Mother’s Day… Everyday!

The day after Mother’s Day is usually a solemn one. For the celebrated mothers, it is a reminder of being back to the toils of normalcy. For those whose mothers have transitioned, the challenge of returning to work or school to hear about the ‘wonderful times with Mom’ can be excruciating.

Mothers, you are worth a daily celebration for all you do to ensure our happiness and upbringing. At times, I am often apologetic for my lackadaisical approach to showing appreciation to the matriarch of our family structure. I am blessed to have a spouse who can assist me with such a daunting feat. I can only empathize with single parents; imagining the task of raising children to be embraced by today’s society while educating them to be passionate, righteous and safe.

So this day, the day after Mother’s Day, I want to say thank you to all of the mothers of the World. Even though you too may be challenged with personal faults, you are still appreciated!

I have a special place in my heart for mothers who have to illustrate a false sense of happiness while covering wounds of depression and abuse to protect their children. Can you imagine facing a child or children who sense your pain and vulnerabilities after witnessing your abuse? The strength of Mom is immeasurable beyond belief.

Take a moment out of your day to show a mom, even if not your Mom, some appreciation for all she does. Something as simple as a phone call, a smile or words of encouragement can show a mother the love she deserves.

America’s Dad… The Predator!

What a way to end Sexual Assault Awareness Month…

The man who cultivated a culture and entire generation of African-Americans to excel in education and family, was secretly a predator of women. Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable…The Voice of Fat Albert… Mr. Jell-O Pudding Pops…a Rapist! I remember being a teenager with no interest in college being raised by a single mother thinking, WOW! The Cosby Show gave me the possibility of a complete Black family unit with two successful parents. Soon to follow, A Different World, which set the fire for me to be one of the first in my family to go to college.

What is the world coming to? I can honestly tell you, the World has been here for quite some time:

  • Every 98 seconds, a woman is a victim of attack.
  • 600 women are sexually assaulted daily.
  • One in five women have been raped in their lifetime.
  • Nearly half of rape victims were assaulted by an acquaintance.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Polonius (Hamlet)

I am sick and tired of the excuses people use for their personal demons and shortcomings. Bill Cosby has been tried and convicted of assaulting three women. THREE WOMEN! This does not count those who feared coming forward, were paid to remain silent or did not get their chance in court. As much as I am happy for his many contributions to children, I am equally disappointed for his victimization of women.

These attacks are completely and utterly inexcusable! This was not an isolated occurrence. The #MeToo movement has proven there are many voices who remain unheard.

Dr. Cosby, for you to act like you are the victim here, I have only one thing to say about you…

“You’re like school on Saturday: NO CLASS!” – Rudy (Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids)

#LoveMePainFree #MeToo #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth #Rape #SexualAssault

Divas In Defense in Kuwait

2017 was a great year for Divas In Defense®. We had so many wonderful opportunities but nothing compares to our trip to Kuwait. We were contacted by Balsam International to join their ‘Be Strong Campaign’ to end violence against women. We eagerly joined the call to serve and our Director of Training, Vanessa Parker, and our Girls Can Fight Too Program Director, Skye Walton, headed to Kuwait for a 14-day training tour.

Balsam Al-Ayoub created Be Strong a few years ago to empower women and girls in Kuwait. She founded Balsam International that provides empowerment courses and workshops throughout the area.  Balsam Al-Ayoub is an Olympic Fencing Champion, Fashion Designer, TV host and a woman on a mission to empower women and girls in the Middle East. Her ‘Be Strong Campaign’ for 2017 was sponsored by the United States Embassy in Kuwait, United Nations Women Campaign to End Violence Against Women, Kuwait Sports Club, Agility, Derby and Ali Abdulwahab Al-Mutawa. Our training took place during the UNiTE Campaign’s observance of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women (25 November – 10 December). 

While in Kuwait we facilitated classes for over 600 women from over 32 nationalities in just 14 days. During this training, we hosted Six 3-Day Certification Programs at the Kuwait Sports Club in Kaifan. We also facilitated classes at American Academy for Girls, Al-Bayan Bilingual School of Kuwait, American University of Kuwait and the Al-Sidra Center for breast cancer survivors. We also had the honor of facilitating a class at the Kuwait Women’s Police Academy. The women and girls of Kuwait left our classes feeling Fierce & Fabulous. We cannot thank Balsam, Nicky and her team enough for their hospitality and determination to end violence against women.

Here are just a few pictures from our trip. We hope to return again soon inshallah.

Welcome to Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense

Our Welcome to Kuwait Cake. The desserts in Kuwait were amazing!

 

Prep before our first class Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Getting ready for our first class

Skye Walton Balsam International Divas In Defense in Kuwait

Skye rocking her Be Strong/ UN Women Campaign to End Domestic Violence T-shirt

 

Al-Bayan Bilingual School Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Al-Bayan Bilingual School

 

Skye training at the American Academy for Girls of Kuwait.

American University of Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense

American University of Kuwait

Al-sidra Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait (1)

Al-Sidra Breast Cancer Survivors

 

FM 99.7 Kuwait Radio

FM 99.7 Kuwait Radio. We interviewed on The Drive Back with Maha and Yousef. Great times and great music.

 

Womens Police Academy Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Kuwait Women’s Police Academy

 

Bazaar Magazine Event 2 Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait (1)

Skye and I at the Bazaar Arabia Magazine honoring Balsam as one of the 10 Best Dressed Women of Kuwait. We are wearing dressed from Balsam’s clothing line.

 

Bazaar Magazine Event 3 Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Balsam and her business partner looking fabulous.

Skye and Nicky at the Bazaar Magazine Best Dressed Kuwait Event

Last 3-Day Certificate Class at Kuwait Sports Club

 

Last class celebration Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Skye celebrating our last day of training. We trained over 600 women from 32 nationalities in just 14 days.

Sightseeing in Kuwait City

 

Going away dinner from Balsam and her mother, Fatima Al Omani. Both of these women are amazing and an inspiration to all women.

Trick Or Treat, Safely!

As the leaves fall and the weather gets cool one of the most festive, crazy and creative holidays is quickly approaching. It is loved by the young and old, the at home- costume doers along with the over the top house decorators. If it isn’t for the bags full of candy or the mystery of “who is behind the mask” you cannot help but enjoy some part of Halloween.

This post will be packed of little Tricks and Treats to keep you and you family safe next weekend.  With every one running around getting that last eye ball to glue on  or finding the ‘just right shade of white face paint’ we at Divas In Defense do not want you to forget that safety is key to a successful evening.

Before you or a group of your Lil’ Ladybug or Fireman friends head out; make sure you have completed your check list:

  1. Have route already planned out.
  2. Make sure designated watchers are assigned.
  3. Costumes are properly fitted with reflector tape or some type of light that can be seen by drivers and walkers.
  4. You can even make your own waterproof informational tattoo. All you need is a sharpie and clear nail polish!

Costumes – Beware! Of people in mask or face covering costumes. They are not only cool to scare but they are an easy way to disguise a person real intention.

Candy – Check your kid’s candy and ‘When in doubt, Throw it out!!! For adults this rule applies as well, check those party favors and punch bowls.

Pets- You will want to keep your cats indoors especially the unofficial mascot of Halloween the Black Cat. Some may take this opportunity to really bring harm to your for legged friend.

Fierce & Fabulous Divas 21+ – With so many goblins and ghouls roaming the streets on All Hallows’ Eve, things can get a little scary. Here are some Uber tips so you have a safe night with treats and no tricks.

  1. Make sure driver ID, type of car and plate matches.
  2. Pre dial 911 – so you can hit send ASAP
  3. Call someone beforehand, while in the car and once you have reached your destination.
  4. Place a business care or matchbook in your purse to ensure you return to your correct hotel.

Halloween can be a fun time of year for both children and adults alike. Whether you plan to get decked out in an elaborate costume and attend a haunted bash, take the kids trick-or-treating, or stay home and hand out goodies to all the ghosts and goblins who appear on your doorstep, the usage of these little tricks and treats will ensure everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

Back to School Safety & Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)

As much as parents are COMPLETELY ecstatic of children returning to school, safety is a primary concern. Recently in Vinings, Georgia, a smart middle school girl thwarted an attempted abduction. The story reported by @11alive as follows:

11 Alive (http://www.11alive.com) reported “A Campbell Middle School girl was walking home Tuesday afternoon when she said a black SUV approached her. The white male driver allegedly tried to lure her into his vehicle.

“She became suspicious when he wasn’t able to answer her questions. Instead, she ran to a nearby home for help.”

Her quick, intuitive thinking helped her return home safely. In this case, her life was at stake!

Did you know:

In December 2013, the FBI expressed they had more than 7,000 pending investigations involving child exploitation, including sex trafficking of minors and child pornography.

According to FBI statistics, Atlanta ranks among the top 14 cities in the United States for domestic minor sex trafficking. And some 300 girls across Atlanta are lured into trafficking every month.

Facts show this was a possibility of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST), especially here in the Atlanta area. I’ve had training from StreetGrace (www.streetgrace.org) whom I HIGHLY recommend for their diverse knowledge on the topic.

View the USDOJ’s Infographic on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the U.S.

Learn more about Divas In Defense programs here. In addition, read about our On Her Own: Teen Self-Defense Workshop which covers preventive and informative material on bullying, social media net-iquette, cyber safety, identity theft, domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), dating violence, sexual assault and harassment.

Here are a few tips to share with your children to be safe:

  • Bus riders are the safest children.
  • Develop a “safe” word for your children, as well as a “not safe” word.
  • Establish a “check-in” system for latch-key children.
  • Encourage your children to travel in groups.
  • Teach your children the importance of not texting while walking.
  • Practice awareness techniques with your children daily.
  • Register your children for self-defense classes.

Here is the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number: (888) 373-7888.

Josephine Siao- Trailblazer

Josephine Siao

In lieu of Women’s History Month, it is only right for us to acknowledge the greatness of women in martial arts. Typically the martial arts industry is dominated males with very few female influences. Martial arts movies have played a large role in media throughout history. Josephine Siao is a famous martial artist/actress that is a trailblazer in the film industry and  has impacted cultures across the world.

As the star of countless action and wuxia films in the 1960s, Siao paved the way for movies that would allow women central roles, went on to direct a very well-regarded cult film, and has since dedicated her life to fighting child abuse. Siao’s first movie appearance was at age six, and she became one of the biggest teen idols in Hong Kong.

Unlike many child stars, Siao made a successful transition to adult stardom, remaining one of Hong Kong’s most popular actresses. She was also one of the directors  and writers of Jumping Ash . This film is regarded as a prelude to the Hong Kong New Wave in the 1980s.

Having largely missed out on formal education because of her acting career as a child, Siao pursued her studies in later years despite the handicap of increasing deafness and the demands of raising a family. During this time she made fewer films, but her output included highly praised work.

Western fans of martial arts films will probably know her best from the Fong Sai-yuk films made in 1993, in which she played Jet Li’s kung fu–fighting mother. Siao has retired from show business since 1997 in favor of her work in child psychology. In particular, she is a noted campaigner against child abuse, and founded the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation.

Couplepreneurship: Successfully Working with Your Spouse

Mixing business and pleasure can be a dangerous combination. My spouse and I have been couplepreneurs for over 6 years. It took us a few years to make it work. Over the years I have met other couplepreneurs and learned we shared similar challenges when working with our spouses. I would not trade it for anything in the world but it wasn’t easy. Here are a few tips to keeping the sanity when working with your significant other:

  1. Write down your expected roles and responsibilities: This is your first step. You need to understand the expectations of each other and what roles you will play in the business. You will need to write down your job descriptions and responsibilities.
  2. Create business hours and home hours: I am not a believer in the work-life balance myth but I do think you need to set boundaries. Create “office hours” and family hours to make sure you give dedicated time to your business and your family.
  3. Create official business meeting times: You need to schedule a daily, weekly or twice a week meeting just like you would at a corporate job. You need to make sure you bring challenges and success stories to the meeting. Run it like a real business and not a hobby.
  4. Remember you are spouses first and business partners second: Love each other and remember that you are spouses first. The business is important but your relationship is more important. Put down the phone sometimes and spend time with your spouse.
  5. Schedule “No Business” vacations: Quarterly my husband and I have a staycation in our city. We are not allowed to talk about businesses during this time. It is important that you stay connected with each other.
  6. Remember that everyone makes mistakes: You and your spouse are not perfect. Remember to treat each other fairly and speak to each other with respect. Talk about the issue and find a solution together.
  7. Celebrate together: It is easy to work hard to build your dreams together. You have to take the time to celebrate your success along the way {both big and small}. It is no fun if you cannot enjoy the good times together.

Working together can be a great experience if you remember not to sweat the small stuff and have fun along the way.

The Invisible War

[We’re] giving survivors for the first time a voice in the military justice process

– Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

The military reports that more women are willing to report sexual assaults. In a new anonymous survey, it is suggested victims are becoming far more willing to file complaints than in years past.

According to the Associated Press, 1 in every 4 victims filed a report this year, in sharp contrast to 2012, when only about 1 in every 10 military victims came forward.

Before the survey results were reported, The White House believed it would increase sexual abuse in the ranks and change a culture that forces victims to keep their mouths shut.

Now roughly 60 percent of women in the military said they experienced retaliation for reporting a sexual assault, according to the new report.

The Defense Department conducted their last anonymous report in 2012 and found about 26,000 services members said they had been the victim of unwanted sexual contact — a number that stunned officials and outraged lawmakers, triggering a barrage of congressional hearings and legislative changes.

The officials said there were nearly 6,000 victims of reported assaults in 2014, compared with just over 5,500 last year. The Pentagon changed its method of accounting for the assaults this year, and now each victim counts for one report. This year, that number dropped to about 19,000 — including about 10,500 men and 8,500 women — which officials said suggested that there was a trend of sexual assaults declining.

Signs That You’re In An Abusive Relationship

Could you be in an abusive relationship and not know it? According to the Huffington Post, nearly 60 percent of all young women have experienced abuse. Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available.

The Divas In Defense Team wanted to take time out of our jolly – jolly holiday ask these questions:

Do you feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
Does your partner humiliate or yell at you?
Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
Criticize you and put you down?
Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
Blame you for their own abusive behavior?
Feel emotionally numb or helpless?
See you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

Does your partner:
Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
Does your partner act excessively jealous and possessive?
Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
Control where you go or what you do?
Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
Force you to have sex?
Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
Destroy your belongings?
Constantly check up on you?

Women don’t have to live in fear:
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

Male victims of abuse can call:
Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women at 888-743-5754

For More Information:
Helpguide.org

#YesAllDaughters

As most of the nation waited anxiously for the Ferguson indictment decision on Monday, three female students and many of their classmates walked out of their Oklahoma high school yesterday afternoon. We are not just talking about their friends but hundreds of students walked out with signs and chanted “ No Justice, no class” and “ No more bullying.”

The students were protesting the school’s response to allegations of bullying of the three female students and their unfortunate rape by the same person. As in any sexual assault cases we see it is extremely hard for the victim to speak up. So to have not only one but three girls who are just in high school speak up and stand their ground is amazing.

As the hashtag #YesAll Daughters gained attention, Norman Police Department Captain Tom Easley has said the school was enlarging a task force to study the implementation of a “targeted, research-based sexual assault curriculum for students,” and that the school will continue to respond quickly to reports of sexual assault and bullying.

Of course this made me stop scrolling on my phone and read the entire article because I am someone’s daughter but this can also affect someone son. The thought of the school was not taking the allegations serious enough and the amount of online bullying that was allowed to go on for so long was outrageous. Many do not realize social media bullying is becoming present in the lives of our teenagers every day. If they are not the ones doing the cyber bullying they are the ones being bullied. It takes one tweet to change a person entire life.

While on winter break sign your Young Diva for Divas In Defense “On Her Own” Workshop December 20th, 2014:

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