Where do we fit in?

Mass violence. Hurricanes. Shootings. Rape. Abuse. Assault. Earthquakes.

Where do we fit in?

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (2017) violent crimes increased nationwide in 2016 by 4.1 percent and homicides rose by 8.6 percent. During 2015 – 2016 violent crimes have experienced an uptick by twenty – percent, which is puzzling, yet terrifying at the same time. Children, adolescents, and young adults have more access to hear the exact details and updates on carnage and crime due to technological advances. According to the Veteran’s Administration (2017), within a week of September 11th, 2001, individuals reported watching around eight hours of media regarding the attacks, mostly focused on digital media, which includes images and videos.

According to Forbes (2017), there has been an increase in the intensity of category four and five hurricanes, but not the amount of hurricanes. Therefore, even though there are “less” hurricanes, the ones that make landfall are causing prolonged trauma, distress, and disruption of our lives. The never-ending warnings, updates, and sensationalism of news coverage of hurricanes can greatly impact survivors’ mental health, as it keeps individuals in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze. Individuals who consume more social media focused on disasters experience higher stress responses, increased hopelessness, a fixation on death and injury, and higher rates of PTSD symptomology (Rogers, 2016).

With the recent and more historical episodes of mass violence, including the Dayton shooting and the El Paso massacre, there is a question on all of our minds: when will we stop beating our own record of “deadliest mass shooting?” The inflation of violence and natural disasters in recent years has many effects, but one thing we have not been discussing is our stunted processing. With so many acts of brutality occurring at a faster pace than ever expected, we are not given the time to properly grieve, mourn, process, and understand these tragedies. Our attention is constantly torn to another tearful catastrophe. Our emotions, memories, and images become unprocessed, leading to the foundations of mental disorders and distress (Shapiro, 2014).

Every day it becomes increasingly challenging to turn away from the carnage. If the television won’t interrupt us while we watch our Monday sitcoms, our phones will inadvertently alert us. If we disconnect from technology in an effort to remain peaceful and sensitized, we can expect a friend or coworker to fill us in on the gruesome details, phone waving in their hand, depicting heart-wrenching images. We are stricken with a sense of vulnerability, and some would even say powerlessness. We are a society that is holding onto our last thread. We are powerful and spirited, yet ground down to our last shred of hope.
We must navigate our social media with grace amidst expedient broadcasts, tweets, and texts about violence in an effort to avoid desensitization, which often leads to hopelessness and symptoms of depression (Rogers, 2016).

There is a cost if we don’t.

Epigenetics is the study of the alteration of genes and their processes (Weinhold, 2006). So what does this have to do with the anxiety and fear we are experiencing or anticipating? Genetic changes caused by individual or community trauma may occur within the family line for more than four generations (Winhold, 2006). Although the studies surrounding transgenerational transmission of trauma have mostly been exploratory, difficult to generalize, and specific, there are still aspects which could affect our future generations.

Although it has been challenging to find out if trauma is truly passed down through the genetic line, there is still an opportunity to negatively influence our future generations. Trauma can be passed down through: family or friends reporting their experience with heavy emotions attached; utilizing negative and catastrophic terminology; a hyper-focus on discussing only the traumatic incidents during the period of tragedy; unresolved feelings of guilt and shame; ongoing anticipation of further disasters; parents living in fear based on identifying characteristics (LGBTQ, black, refugee); and providing technical levels of detail to children before it is developmentally appropriate (Braga, Mello, and Fiks, 2012).

Our unresolved issues can directly affect our children and our children’s children. As we grow, we learn from watching our parents with utmost precision; we speak about and conceptualize our reality in a similar way to how our parents do.
Some parents interact with their children through a preoccupied attachment style, which signifies parent’s engrossment in their own intrusive and damaging life experiences, like mass violence (Shapiro, 2012). This attachment style teaches the child to adopt an aggressive way of being in order to get attention, often resulting in insecurity and dependency later in life.
Other parents may interact in a disorganized attachment style, in which the parent has no boundaries about their psychological trauma. What you may see from this type of parent is anxious behaviors, fearful facial expressions, unexpected emotional outbursts, and haphazard ways of communicating, leaving the child confused (Shapiro, 2012). The child may be unsure and nervous themselves about initiating contact with their parent, as their parent is dually their source of care, yet the cause of their unconscious anxiety (Shapiro, 2012).

We are all at risk, now that we have unexpectedly been cast into the role of captive audience to unforeseen tragedy. However, despite our current feelings, we do have potential. We do have control. We do have hope.

1. Always remember your breath. It sounds arbitrary. It sounds like a platitude. Hearing someone say “take a breath!” can feel obnoxious or demeaning. However, it is one of the smallest, yet most impactful ways we can exert power in our lives. Our breath is one of the few things we can control and access at any time, privately. When overwhelmed, square breathing can help us take a break from racing thoughts. Breathe in for four counts. Hold for four counts. Breathe out for four counts. Hold for four counts. If it helps, imagine a stream of light in your favorite color pulsing through the square as you move through it.

2. Make an impact. In moments of vulnerability and suffering, we forget our abilities. Locate a nonprofit agency of your choice and donate your time, talent, or treasures. Set up a monthly donation of a few bucks. Dedicate an hour a week to volunteering. We may feel like our influence is a “drop in the bucket,” but all we can do is transform people or animals one at a time, setting off a butterfly effect of compassion.

3. Hold onto your routine for dear life. Symptoms of trauma can distort what we hold most dearly, disrupting our ability to focus. Establishing a daily routine can help normalize one’s day-to-day experience, stabilize us, and bring comfort. At the end of a productive day, we end up feeling accomplished and in control, despite the world’s happenings.

4. Create an internal safe place. Allow whatever image that comforts you to come to you. Choosing a place in nature can be a grounding experience. Ensure no people or pets are there as to avoid any upset feelings. Notice the colors, scent, sounds, and imagery. If you looked to the left and right, what would you see? Allow the feelings of security to set in and know you can access this private paradise at any time.

5. Make space for relationships. When we are overwhelmed by the “yuck” of our daily lives, we forget that people care about us. We forget the world cares. How can anyone care if the world is so dangerous? We must avoid buying into the thoughts that drag us further down. Reach out to friends, even if you simply say “Hey, I’m not doing so well, but I wanted to check in with you.” Or “Would you like to watch this movie with me? I need a little distraction and joy today.” Be honest with others and they may be moved to be honest with you.

6. Keep a “thought log.” Thought logs are ways of getting us in touch with our themes, patterns, and triggers in life. When the news keeps rolling in, we have our thought logs to ground us. It may help to jot down the trigger, what thought immediately came up, what you felt when that thought sank in, and balancing it out with an evenhanded perspective. What would your mentor say? What would your higher power say? Connect with that perspective.

Although trauma can be a powerful force, remember: we will be more exhausted by running from trauma than by shocking it and facing it with our strength and willingness. Do it afraid.

written by Rachael Wells

BongaCams Joins Pineapple Support at Supporter Level

BongaCams has partnered with Pineapple Support as a Supporter-level sponsor, joining over 40 adult business and organizations committing funds and resources to the non-profit org.

Their financial support will underwrite free and low-cost therapy for adult performers around the world, further supporting Pineapple’s continued growth.

“BongaCams are proud to be sponsors of Pineapple Support,” said the company’s affiliate manager, Aleksandra. “We believe in the work they do and want to do our part. It’s important for us to help.”

Leya Tanit, founder of Pineapple Support, thanked BongaCams for their contribution.

“We are incredibly grateful to BongaCams for their continuing support,” she said. “The increasing sponsorship from cam companies sends a message that the mental health of cam models is being taken seriously across the industry. The support of sponsors like BongaCams enables the continued service that we provide to the adult community, as we look towards our two-year anniversary in January.”

Tanit founded Pineapple Support after several high-profile losses in the adult community from depression and mental illness. The organization has since connected over 700 performers to mental health services, including free and low-cost, therapy, counseling and emotional support.

For the latest updates, follow Tanit and Pineapple Support on Twitter.

My Abuser Was So Charming, No One Believed He Raped Me

My life consists of helping others, reading dystopian fiction, activism, writing poetry and crafting. Most of these activities have assisted me in coping and healing from the rape I survived when I was 16 years old.

My partner at the time was 20 years old, maniacal and abusive. He was exceptionally talented at lying and cheating. He would monitor my eating by clocking how long it would take, and if I did not hurry, there were extreme consequences.

He cheated on me with five women, and as he told me, he laughed.

In the car, during his giddy story of deceit, I grabbed a sharp item from his glove compartment and began slashing at my wrists. This would not be the last time I self-harmed.

Finally, physical and emotional manipulation and abuse would not suffice. He raped me in his locked room, with his parents just around the corner, so forcefully that the bed looked like a murder scene.

Cheerily, he took the sheets off, put them in the washer and said, “Ha, I sure hope that stain comes out!”

My abuser was extremely charismatic. He is a nurse. When you think of a nurse, I would assume most individuals think of someone warm, welcoming, smiling and compassionate. On the surface, he is all that and more, but it is a finely tuned façade.

The first time I met him, I was dating his best friend. We were all at a mechanic together, waiting for my current boyfriend’s car to be fixed.

He sat down next to me and attempted to get to know me. He was highly flirtatious and said all the right things, things I had never heard before. He told me he could feel the endorphins in the room. I lit up the room with my energy and beauty.

Compelling, poetic words.

I did not feel creeped out by this, surprisingly. He has an energy that makes you feel under the influence, but mostly as if you are buzzed. It is like slipping into a warm, glowing place.

From my description, this sounds exactly like what you might like to feel with someone, anyone. I promise you, you do not. He had this effect on everyone he met.

However, behind closed doors, he was the most manipulative person I have ever witnessed.

He had a sharp grin like a fox. He would smile and dote on me as he delivered the most horrendous backhanded compliments and emotional abuse.

He would look me straight in the eye and tell me he could not take me to the homecoming dance due to lack of funds while showing me his new keyboard, mouse and computer.

It is still hard for me to look at the local park where he hit me, degraded me and brutalized me.

He was an excellent liar. Remarkably so. No matter what pain he delivered, you were spellbound into believing you deserved it and this is how it must be.

He made me feel like he knew what was best for me in the end and was only doing what he did to “make me a better person.”

When I would share this with others, they thought I was nuts. “He is such a perfect guy. He is older, well-established and so friendly… what you are telling me is bullshit,” they’d say.

Little did they know, he checked off all the marks for those likely to be abusive.

I believe my friends reacted the way they did because all of us really had no education on consent, boundaries or abuse. I found out later some of these friends had experienced their own abuse and attempted to curb their feelings by shutting me down.

The biggest reason I was misunderstood and rejected was because my abuser was so full of charisma.

I always tell people, to this day, “You would love being around him. He could even trick you despite your psychological knowledge. He slips past your radar.”

From that brutal event, I suffered from PTSD, which is marked by night terrors, hyper-vigilance, increased stress response, reliving the trauma and avoidance.

From the age of 16 to 17, I abused pills to a degree, had a scathing attitude and was fueled by hatred.

In school, teachers knew something was wrong, but did not try to interfere. I could not have gotten through high school without their willingness to stay their distance.

Because of the uncomfortable fear I felt when I thought about telling my parents what happened, I only told a few friends of mine. This was the right decision for me at the time, but I still wish I had told them at the time it happened because I never got any soothing or healing from my friends, and my traumatic memory seems to be permanently stored in my amygdala.

But at the age of 20, in an act of desperation, I blurted out to my parents what had happened to me. Everything came to a screeching halt. My parents could not simply process what it was I was saying to them.

Their first response was to feel guilty for being the people who brought me to my then-boyfriend’s home. They thought it was their fault for “facilitating the assault.”

I assured them this was not true, but they continued to harp on their wounds: “Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” “Why didn’t you report this?” “Why did I drive you there every week?”

This barrage of guilt-inducing questions made me sick. However, I empathized as best as I could. Hearing what had happened to me so much later likely left them feeling disheartened and powerless to fight back against my rapist.

All of this hurt me.

Over time, they have begun to realize the focus should have been on me, as I had already moved past those terrifying inquiries. Now, they have fostered respect and healing toward my experiences.

Although they are still mystified about it, they try to understand the effects of it by letting me speak my mind and have a healthy amount of space.

Because I never got to openly discuss my trauma until years later, my memory of it is generally fuzzy and I feel like that has caused a stunt of my growth and healing.

My thought patterns and behavior were poor and negative. I tried to control others and hurt them with my words and actions, thinking that I would somehow feel better by doing this.

However, all I can do is move forward with the memory and coping skills I have. Through this, I realized it was time to change and devote myself to protecting and helping survivors.

Now, I am in my second semester in a master’s program for mental health counseling, I am an advocate for survivors and victims, and I constantly champion for social justice.

The rape at 16, and a succedent rape, as well as numerous experiences with sexual assault, sexual harassment and catcalling, have led me to the point where I am today.

Six years later, I am now able to succeed in my field, help others properly, cope healthily, go to counseling and express my feelings and my story without being afraid.

My partner now is wonderful, compassionate, full of love and understanding. I am able to share my story, experience safety and feel comfortable. He listens to me always, about my concerns and my fears.

He is familiar with the symptoms of PTSD, so he never startles me with knocking on my front door or ringing the doorbell. Instead, he sends a text.

He looks at the parent’s guide for movies and television to screen for things like sexual content, vulgar language, violence, misogyny and transphobia.

He makes things for me that soothe me, like a little box that holds kind words of love and how he feels about me. It is to be used when I feel worthless or depressed.

To transition from a victim to a survivor, others need to provide you with time, space, sympathy, active listening, understanding, involvement in your story and the repercussions and, most importantly, nonjudgmental love.

Rachael W

Team Skeet Partners With Pineapple Support

Pineapple Support has welcomed its newest sponsor, Team Skeet, at the Partner level. The adult paysite joins nearly 40 other adult companies in committing funds and resources to the mental health organization.

“Pineapple Support offers much needed mental health services to our community of performers and producers,” said Team Skeet’s Salima S. “As such, it is an honor to sponsor this program which supports our total well-being. In addition to our contribution, I would like to thank the founders for putting this organization together.”

The support provided by Team Skeet and other partners helps to provide free and low-cost therapy to adult performers and producers throughout the world, and fund workshops, outreach and other services.

Pineapple Support was founded in 2018 by British performer Leya Tanit, after a string of losses in the adult industry from depression and other mental illnesses. It has connected over 700 adult performers to mental health services, including free and low-cost therapy, counseling and emotional support.

“Team Skeet’s support means so much to our organization,” Tanit said. “I’m humbled by the generosity of our industry in helping to sustain and grow Pineapple Support. Each tax-deductible donation we receive allows us to reach even more performers with mental health services and emotional support — something especially needed this time of year.”

For more information, visit Pineapple Support online and on Twitter.

Erotik.com Joins Pineapple Support as Sponsor

LOS ANGELES — Erotik.com has joined Pineapple Support at the Partner level, joining over four-dozen adult companies to commit funds and resources to help the organization provide mental health resources to performers and other adult industry members.

“We have all read the sad news of the past few years,” said Erotik.com’s Sascha E. “Each of these cases had touched me deeply. When I got to know Leya and her team and saw firsthand the passion with which they wanted to help our industry, it was immediately clear to me that we would support them.”

Erotik.com describes itself as “a market leader in adult VOD and retail in Europe.” Founded over fifteen years ago as DVDErotik.com, Erotik boasts of “one of the most extensive libraries in Europe.”

“We are thrilled to have the support of Erotik.com,” said Leya Tanit, President of Pineapple Support. “With industry leaders like Erotik.com behind us, we’re able to continue our mission to support the mental health and well-being of sex workers around the world.”

Tanit founded Pineapple Support in 2018 after several high-profile losses in the adult community from depression and mental illness. The organization has connected over 500 performers to mental health services.

For the latest updates, follow Tanit and Pineapple Support on Twitter.