Boys will be boys! And other issues…

“If we are to fight discrimination and injustice against women we must start from the home for if a woman cannot be safe in her own house then she cannot be expected to feel safe anywhere.” ― Aysha Taryam

 

This April is sexual assault awareness month. Pretty long title but it’s a form of sexual violence which basically covers many types of crimes and global issues such as rape, groping and domestic violence. Now, I’ve definitely held back from getting too involved over social media and decided to stick to one day because life is already pretty heavy with everything going on at the moment! Buuuut, it’s also a super important time as domestic violence is obviously on the insane rise and this month has a special focus on supporting victims.

 

#MeToo

I know the importance of feeling supported and heard, but it’s all so complex and daunting for all of us. The crime and abuse of many experiences are bad enough, but the aftermath of trauma, support and seeking justice sometimes feel so much worse. I know this because I’m a survivor (read more here) and I know how hard it is to be vulnerable, ask for help and to also provide the right help to others. Please do reach out to me for any advice or support. I hope this blog  helps at least one person.

 

COVID-19 and the rise of domestic abuse

Fighting injustice remains my main fight because even for a wealthy and developed nation, we have a long way to go. Home is not always a safe place and outside is scary too. Violence against women are some of the only crimes that remain on the rise. And now in a lock-down, we’ve seen these statistics almost double with some helplines and support website traffic in the UK increased by 156%. But, have we seen a dramatic rise in police reporting? No, only about 3%. This is an issue.

Being in a lock-down situation means that these incidents are also becoming more violent and more common, however with refuges closed and being unable to leave our homes, many are left with few options and less safety. If you’re reading this and are not sure how to get help, connect with someone here or read at the bottom for other options.

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Guys are not the problem

I know that men can be victims too, but women are the main victims in almost every crime (around 84%) with men the main offenders (around 92.4%) so, violence against women remains the key issue and crisis. But this doesn’t mean that men are the problem. It’s our cultures, our societies and our behaviours that need fixing. We’re talking about gendered crimes which are deeply rooted in almost every society around the world from the President of the United States to that guy in my hometown. It’s a pandemic in itself which has lasted decades but it’s still so invisible. So, how can we recognise, help and support those who need it the most including ourselves?

The signs

If your friend starts choking, what do you do? You try the Heimlich maneuver, call for help, call the emergency services. We do these steps because we know what to do in an emergency. But when someone you know may be a victim of violence, there are no clear steps on how to help them or how to even recognise the signs unless they’re 100% obvious, which by then, it’s very serious.

 

Ten signs of an unhealthy relationship

  1. Making threats or instilling fear.
  2. Insulting, putting you down or making you feel bad.
  3. Forcing you to do things unwillingly.
  4. Guilt tripping.
  5. Physically mistreating you (pushing, slapping…).
  6. Checking your social media, phone and web history constantly.
  7. Wanting to control where you are, who you spend time with etc.
  8. Cheating on you or accusing you of cheating.
  9. Forceful sex/rape.
  10. Manipulation with your finances or belongings.

 

Note, it’s important to notice these signs and to know where to get help from because the effects of abuse, assault and violence can last generations and has more impact than you’ll ever realise. Even if you think this doesn’t affect you, it does, through our healthcare, our justice system, our taxes, our community, our loved ones and we’ll never break these cycles unless we address the root and heal as early on as we can. If you recognise these signs in your own relationship, please click here.

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What is rape culture and am I involved?

Rape culture is all around us, it’s a very real thing. And it’s not that people are being told to rape or to be violent but it’s kinda excused or shrugged off in mainstream media and society. It creates a normalisation within our environments and through ‘locker room’ talk, derogatory language, objectification of women and porn/glamorisation of sex and violence, it enables a society that ignores others safety and rights.

Spot these examples

  1. “She asked for it!’’ or victim blaming.
  2. “Boys will be boys!” or telling everyone that assault is inevitable, and boys can’t be held accountable.
  3. “But guys get falsely accused all the time!” which is not true and deflects those who are truly affected. Men are more likely to be raped themselves than to be falsely accused.
  4. “But what were you wearing? Were you drinking?” this teaches that it’s more important to not get raped instead of teaching men to just not rape. It also deflects from the issue and causes more damage to the survivor.
  5. “Rough, beaten, underage and crying for help” these videos and titles in porn are damaging to those who confuse what they watch with real life and real situations to their online screen.
  6. “Men are dominant and aggressive grrrr and women are submissive and passive” not always true, not healthy and definitely should not be defined so much. Men can cry and women can be strong AF and so on and so on. Let’s embrace this.

See the issues?

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For you, the survivor;

 

For you seeking support for others and creating a better world

  • Stay connected and don’t be afraid to create conversation.
  • CONSENT! Always ask for consent, communicate and never assume.
  • Think about the media, our friends and our own language and messages.
  • Listen without judgement and believe what they are saying. We don’t even have to offer advice or question their choices. Just listen, believe and support.
  • Speak out and stand up for what is right, even if it feels hard.
  • Educate yourselves on these issues. There’s so much available on Netflix, TV and YouTube and the more we know and learn, the bigger chance we all have in creating safety and equality. I’ve tagged a load below!
  • https://www.rainn.org/articles/help-someone-you-care-about
  • https://www.rainn.org/articles/tips-talking-survivors-sexual-assault

 

It’s always tricky to write a blog like this. It’s hard to find a balance between knowledge, awareness and support but I hope it’s helped or made you think about something differently.

For anyone struggling, know you’re not alone, you’re worthy, you are loved and you’ll have better days. The actions of someone else is not your fault.

For anyone affected or for anyone who wants to talk, you can message me privately on here, on my Instagram @Vanishamay or email vanishamay@googlemail.com.

 

I hope you all find some happiness, strength and courage today,

V

X

 

For more support;

https://www.rainn.org/

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/help-after-rape-and-sexual-assault/

https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/types-crime/rape-sexual-assault-and-sexual-harassment

https://rapecrisis.org.uk/

http://thesurvivorstrust.org/

https://www.survivorsuk.org/

https://www.womensaid.org.uk

 

For learning, listening and watching;

Coping with COVID

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

 

It’s my eleventh week in a lock-down life, which means that I’ve spent most of 2020 in a weird limbo situation and my experiences and thoughts on the world, on you and I and COVID-19 have honestly, been through a lot. My eleventh week means that I’m pretty experienced. I’ve seen it all. From my last blog in China to today in the UK, I have a lot to compare and talk about, but actually, I’ve mostly pretty over it all. Our information is SO toxic and so many people around me are struggling to deal with the situation, so I just want to share and help using what I know and what I’ve been doing. For eleven weeks. ELEVEN WEEKS. You’ll go through stages, a buzz and hope, maybe anger, boredom and grief, then more of a content stage, which is where I’m at! I hope this brings you all some positivity and hope.

THE MEDIA IS POOP

I’m gonna start a little rough but I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned and how much I hate about western media and our toxic relationship with it all. Stop watching the news, stop sharing stuff over WhatsApp and your IG stories, and don’t take in too much of the ‘well my sister knows someone who lives next to someone who saw 5G and bat soup walk into a bar together….’, it will not make you or anyone else feel better. Every day is different and changing and no-one knows it all right now, not even the experts. And it’s on steroids. Don’t believe it, don’t share it and don’t spread it.

From me to you:

  1. If you want to keep updated, try WHO and the government websites, both of which will change and can’t fully predict it all either, but they’re the important ones.
  2. Remove news channels and apps so you’re controlling the amount you see and share yourself. I don’t even recommend watching the BBC news but that’s me.
  3. If you are curious and feel passionate enough to share something to the hundreds on your social media world, then check the facts of it first. Is it reliable? Is it in context? Is it real? Is it important?
  4. Find other things happening in the world today. There’s lots going on that we’re not hearing about anymore (links below), and there’s lots of ways to make a positive difference and positive news even with COVID. 

Do your best

Since the virus has reached the western world, I’ve seen so much more pressure and shame on how to live through this. Super toxic and annoying. Every day, every person and every country are different and there’s no right or wrong way when dealing with something unexpected and inexperienced. Start a new project and be happy one day, spend the day in bed and cry into your chocolate bar the next. Who bloody cares? Do what you need to do to feel good and to manage.

From me to you:

  1. Try to have some balance. I need days where I switch off and binge Netflix in my pjs alone but if I did that every day, then I’d be super depressed. Try to be proactive and do something you love away from the screen to kill time, bring some happiness and a sense of achievement. Balance bbz.
  2. Don’t compare your time to others and remove anything that makes you feel bad. Social media is just a snippet, it’s not all real. And it can be a source of inspiration, but when your fave travel girl from Bali is posting her lock-down pics in her bikini and her villa, it doesn’t hit the same. Life is different and limited right now, say ‘see you soon’ and mute that.
  3. Do try new things. You don’t need to fill every minute with tasks and hobbies, but this time is rare. Some of us have never had so long at home to ourselves so don’t be scared to try new things, no matter who you are or what you’re used to. Links for inspo at the bottom and will be on my IG.

 

Stay healthy

It’s so easy to fall into bad habits when you’re out of routine and stuck at home. And I’m no angel, but I think it’s about balance and making small additions to be good to your body and mind, especially right now. I honestly hate exercise, but it always makes me feel better and after so long at home, you do notice the bad side effects like neck and back pain… trust me. Even your food intake will affect your mood. I balance the below with things I love. A coffee to wake me up, wine some evenings, naughty food at the weekend and some chocolate every day.

From me to you:

  1. Every day I try to have apple cider vinegar mixed with honey and warm water, a vitamin C, garlic extract and zinc tablet, a heap of natural yoghurt with live bio cultures, plenty of water, sometimes turmeric and warm coconut milk then usually a load of veggies. I don’t enjoy it all but I’m sure my body loves me for it.
  2. Do a workout on YouTube, walk around your garden or do some yoga. I usually like dancing, martial arts and Pilates. And every now and then, stick on some loud music and dance around the room. Immediate happiness and health. Links at the bottom.
  3. Have a bit of a routine. Doing things like showering, putting on make up and doing your nails seems silly when you’re not leaving the house, but it’ll make you feel better most days. Self-care my people, practice that shizz.
  4. Remember that everything you take in, mentally and physically will influence you. A few weeks ago, I read ‘The tattooist of Auschwitz’ and the sequel book, which I loved but maaaan were they dark. Read, watch, do and listen to things that will give you a lift, not a downer. Links at the bottom but please bring me suggestions too!

GO WITH THE FLOW

Lives will change, jobs will change, things will change and lots of it sucks, but it’s happening. To think about the future for some people is scary and uncertain, but it’s not helpful to anyone right now, including yourself. It’s hard but we’re literally all in this together. You’re not alone. And out of all the conspiracies and nonsense, my favourite theory is that this time has come to teach us all what’s really important in life, to take a pause away from our destructiveness and let the world and its people heal, together. Nothing is forever, we can’t control it all and having a ‘whatever happens happens’ attitude doesn’t mean you don’t care, just that you have hope and trust life.

From me to you:

  1. Have hope amongst the uncertainty that new information, happiness and support will come as life goes on. It’s okay to grieve and feel sad but we must have more hope. Live in the present with patience and do what you can today. Imagine how good life and all those little things will feel again soon!
  2. I make a rough plan to try and stay productive, but it changes all the time. Take each day as it comes and don’t try to control anything but make a no pressure plan to keep you excited about things and to give purpose.
  3. Meditate and breathe. I use a tonne of apps (links below) to help me sleep and be calm. My sleep is super messed up right now but again, I try not to feel bad about it. Go easy on yourself.

Count your blessings and be kind always.

Like I said earlier, so many of us have never and might never experience such a time like this again, and though it’s hard, we’re so lucky still. Please don’t feel guilty, just take in with full gratitude and realise how amazingly blessed most of us are. These are the worst of our times, yet the sun is shining, most of us are safe in our nice homes, we have an abundance of food, clean and safe water, electricity, WIFI, working from home or government security, home entertainment, the amazing NHS in the UK and most of us are loved by someone, boy I could go on.

From me to you;

  1. Sadly, many people’s time on earth will come to an end, and the whole world will hurt together. Show more love to those around you today and every day, make phone calls, text people, and give love to yourself. Each day we wake is a blessing.
  2. This awful time has connected us all, yet I still see so much hurt and racism. Call out or report abuse or anyone trying to incite hate and harm. We’re all fighting the same battle, and so many have it unimaginably worse, so practice and create more kindness for all. Fight for the good and lift those hurting.
  3. Now is the time to be better for humanity, to create a better world for us all to go back to and to appreciate all that we have. Let’s practice kindness, patience, gratitude, community, hope, strength and positivity. Let’s create change and learn something from this.
  4. Donate to local food banks, get involved with online quizzes, shop locally, have online mate dates, check in on your neighbours, help charities suffering and all the rest of it. There are so many ways to give back (you don’t have to do them all!) and it will bring you and many others joy. I’ve listed some charities below and causes that I know are especially suffering now.

Wear a mask if you can. Clean your hands regularly and properly. Contact the recommended if you’re feeling the symptoms. Please get in touch with me if you need any tutorials, links, advice , if you can send more recommendations for things or if you just need a little chat.

Stay indoors. Stay sane. Have hope. Look after each other and be kind always.

 

Sending peace and love to you,

Vanisha

X

Follow my Instagram at @vanishamay

Art

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcR1TUaD8Zn6P6O8hOA-xYA

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPRuDp5qn2_Q41sE-bfP4uA/videos

https://www.instagram.com/koketit/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMJyHCbGKnUhpuPP0jsZV-w

https://www.instagram.com/kristythepainter/

https://www.instagram.com/gisellefenig/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtwlKDPqmumk_J0tGUVu7A

Mind, Body and Soul

https://breethe.com/

https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/sleep/id1447478883

https://www.calm.com/

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/slumber-fall-asleep-insomnia/id1109543953

https://www.youtube.com/user/popsugartvfit

https://www.todaysthebestday.com/50-things-to-do-for-yourself-during-a-quarantine-coronavirus/

Watch, Read, Listen and Do

https://www.netflix.com/title/80017537

https://www.netflix.com/title/81115994

https://www.netflix.com/title/80160037

https://healthyhappyimpactful.com/how-start-journal/

https://www.happify.com/hd/8-podcasts-that-will-give-you-a-happiness-boost/

https://www.happify.com/public/happify-daily/

https://relaxily.tumblr.com/post/614939036671492096/things-to-do-during-quarantine

Community

https://www.trusselltrust.org/what-we-do/

https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/

https://helprefugees.org/

https://www.crisis.org.uk/

https://www.shelter.org.uk/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

The freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is 0808 2000 247

The Respect phone line 0808 8024040 is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

 

Coronavirus, China and me

Fear is contagious and spreads quicker than any disease.

I’ve been living in China for more than two years now, and the last week or so have been completely overwhelming for me and so many people around. Just weeks into the new decade and the world finds out about a new strain of coronavirus that shakes the country that I call home. When things first got serious, I was sitting on a beach in the Philippines, and like most of you, just reading things from my phone. Then came the memes, then the tweets, then the texts, and then the constant headlines. It did seem scary. After coming back to China, and seeing things first-hand, I realise how worse it seems from the outside looking in. The mass hysteria and moral panic caused by some of the headlines that I’ve seen from social media and western news is absolutely damaging and draining. I am SO tired of it already. So, I’ve done what I do best. Read, researched and ranted. Welcome to my myth debunking and personal source of living in China today.

“Leave the country or you’ll get coronavirus.”

I understand the fear and why the Wuhan coronavirus is scary. It’s new, we don’t know the origin and there’s no known cure. I get why there is a fraction of fear. However, Zika, Swine Flu and even Influenza have all been declared public health emergencies in the last 10 years. Swine flu spread across the world and killed more than 200,000 people, infecting thousands more. We didn’t flee our countries from it.

The same can be said from the flu. People are saying that it’s different because we have a cure for that, we have vaccines to prevent the flu! Yet, in this winter season alone, more than 15 million Americans have been infected and more than 8,200 have died. The USA have also had their first human-to-human confirmed case for coronavirus. People aren’t fleeing.

China is my home right now, just like millions of others. And it’s a big old country who have taken precautions and measurements to prevent the spreading. In fact, WHO have even praised their actions, and thanks to the resources and power that the country has, they’ve seemed to cope and control things better than predicted. The situation could be much worse for a developing country and that’s the main reason why they’ve announced a health emergency.

The virus started because Chinese people are dirty and eat weird stuff.

Firstly, this is completely racist. Secondly, people all over the world eat things for different reasons that you may not. Thirdly, nothing has been officially confirmed. Just wanted to share these other recipes for you foodies out there…

Haggis in Scotland! Sheep heart, liver and lungs stuffed in a stomach. Guinea Pig found in South America. Dogs and Cats found in multiple places. Black pudding from UK and USA – blood stuffed in sausage skin. Fried pig brain sandwich in USA. Italian Casu Marzu cheese with live insect larvae…

I could go on….  But just because you’ve watched one video of an Asian man eat a rat, does not mean everyone in the whole of Asia eats rat. From my circle of friends and family, only a handful are vegan or vegetarian, so if you’d happily eat a big fat beef burger, then please stop sharing and calling out others for eating animals. It’s hypocritical and a whole other big boring debate. Got a problem? Stop eating animals.

We’re all going to die.

Okay, this obviously can’t be confirmed yet, maybe this is how the world will end. If that’s how it’s meant to happen, it’s gonna happen. But for now, most people that have died already are elderly, those with weakened immune systems or those who have underlying and pre-existing conditions. Except, the news isn’t talking about any of this. If you’re reading this, then the likelihood that you’re like me, young, fit and healthy is high, and so you probably wouldn’t die even if you were to ever catch the Wuhan coronavirus.

To say things like this in a time where people have died and families have been broken is insensitive, entitled and just plain stupid in the current situation. Know that if you’re sitting on your sofa with a cuppa in hand 9,732 miles away in the UK, this does not affect you right now. Think about what you’re saying over social media.

EVERYWHERE IS A GHOST CITY!

Okay, this is one of the headlines that is bugging me the most. Let me start by telling you something about the Chinese. They are some of the hardest workers ever. And once a year, they get a well-deserved break. Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration, most important and longest holiday period.

CNY is also a mass migration, the biggest in the world at one time in fact! With a population of more than 1 billion, people travel and leave the bigger cities so their families can come together and loved ones can visit their hometowns and villages after months apart. My city, Shenzhen, is a massive migrant city which means that EVERY year at this time, things close down. It’s not new to see shops, restaurants and homes shut… for the holidays… not for a virus. Yet still, I’ve been food shopping, went for an Indian last night and heading to Hong Kong for the weekend! I can’t say the same for Wuhan which is the epicenter, of course, I haven’t seen it for my own eyes, but life continues! It’s quiet, of course, but people need to live and eat still.

But the media said….

Don’t be foolish. The media, whether it’s the Sun, CNN or the Guardian, is never 100% reliable. With anything. ALWAYS do your own research before you reiterate and share the news that you read, see and hear. Especially when it spreads fear and affects peoples lives. Do you even know what coronavirus is? Are the images used real and updated? Question things and beware of the language used in any situation. Using words like “escape”, “fleeing”, ‘BREAKING”, “Coronavirus City” is toxic and used to create panic, clicks and engagement. Look at the numbers and compare things realistically. Wuhan has a population bigger than London, with more than 11 million people, so the figure of 9,692 people infected is still relatively small when that’s countrywide and over a population of more than 1 billion. The media are going to hype it as much as they can if it keeps us all talking and tweeting.

Just be cautious and responsible when you’re online.

  • Omg do you have to wear a mask? China is a mask wearing country, similarly to Japan and Korea. The bad air and billion people mean it’s not an uncommon sight. The country has made it necessary to wear in public places, a very smart and simple move.
  • BA have cancelled all flights! How will you leave?! No one flies British Airways, plus they’re just one of many. Flights have not stopped, and we’re not stuck in China… yet.

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How to be safe: Wear a mask. Clean your hands regularly and properly. Contact your doctor if you’re feeling the symptoms. Do your research and listen to the experts.

Sending peace and love to you 🖤

Vanisha

X

Follow my adventures on Instagram at @vanishamay

https://www.who.int/