HopeLine's Response to Charlottesville
In times of political discontent, it can be hard to separate facts from reality and hard to sort through the complicated storm of emotions that follow. This is especially true in cases where aspects of certain groups' social identities are under attack. Politics related to race, class, gender identity, and other important parts of our identities can cut much deeper than "politics as usual" - they can become intensely emotional and affect entire groups and individuals on a deep level.
Events that have taken place in the recent past within the United States have brought racial tensions to a point - with racially motivated harassment, attacks, and protests at the highest they've been since the Civil Rights Era. These issues weigh heavily on the minds of most Americans today, especially in the wake of the violence and attacks that happened last weekend in Charlottesville, VA.
Despite the obvious physical and mental strain caused to people within these marginalized groups, not much attention is given to the intense emotional and psychological effects. One psychologist, Monnica Williams, is aiming to change that.
Through Williams' research, she's been able to identify a link between experiences with racism and with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, known as race-based traumatic stress injury. Though this diagnosis concentrates mostly on people who have had a direct experience with race-based attacks or harassment, Williams has evidence that this same psychological stress reaction can be triggered by less-direct encounters with racism such as through social media, recent news events, or even hearing about events from friends.
The truth is that events such as those that took place in Charlottesville don't just affect us on a physical or surface emotional level - they can have a deep-impact, causing prolonged stress and even escalate pre-existing fears to the level of anxiety disorders. Current events that bring race and identity to the forefront of every political conversation and a political climate that has opposing viewpoints turning not only to hate but to violence leaves many people who are experiencing psychological distress with no idea where to find a safe place to turn.
HopeLine wants everyone, regardless of background, to understand that you do not need to suffer alone. Reaching out for help does not make you weak or lesser - in fact, it takes strength to make the decision to reach out when you are feeling unsure. All HopeLine volunteers provide non-judgmental listening to anyone from any background who may be experiencing stress, sadness, frustration, anger, or any other challenge.
HopeLine also wants to encourage everyone to provide support to those you care about by creating a safe space that allows for listening, care, and understanding to take place.
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