It's pretty undisputed that 2016 was a rough year. Not only was it a leap year, which is notoriously wrought with bad vibes, but it was also the year of the monkey, which for the Chinese means it’s a tricky time to say the least. Bottom line is 2016 was a year that tested our very humanity. We experienced a litany of emotions, and a lot of deeply upsetting and unsettling news headlines. Through it all we told ourselves it couldn't get worse, and it always seemed to.
As we turn the corner into 2017, we looked back at the 13 reasons we are ready to bid adieu to this year, and step boldly into the next.
The Bad News
1. Brexit Sets The Tone
The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, and caused an unexpected ripple effect in the global economy. Experts say that Brexit has already caused volatility in global stock markets and affected the value of the dollar, which on one hand makes it stronger, but on the other means product prices also go up, causing a negative effect for US trade and manufacturing. Brexit really set the tone for a year of unprecedented global happenings, which are still unfolding now.
2. Angelina and Brad Call It Quits
Courtesy of International Business Times
We were in shock when we found out Hollywood’s most beautiful, philanthropic-minded, child-rearing couple called it quits. The effervescent “cool but hot girl” and the handsome chill husband seemed the perfect pair, even for the most dubious believers of happy endings. We admit that the multitude of Jennifer Aniston memes were funny, but they couldn’t make the shock go away, and we were all left wondering who will be our everlasting Hollywood love story after all?
3. Election Disaster
Nothing has felt exactly the same since November 11. After prepping to welcome the first female president with premature election parties around the country, millions were left with gaping mouths as Presidential underdog Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in a stunning election upset. And upset we were. For those looking for silver linings, there has been an impressive rise in grassroots efforts which will benefit important causes concerned citizens are committed to keeping around regardless of who sits in the White House.
4. The Swell of Terrorism
From the horrific events in Nice and Brussels to the tragedy which unfolded at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, our hearts were shattered over and over this year as we watched a swell in violence like we’ve not seen before. We encourage everyone to donate to causes that help support our friends in Syria, as well as any victims from this past year’s detestable levels of violence.
5. Samsung and Apple’s “7” Editions
Although the new iPhone didn’t spontaneously combust like more than 100 Samsung Galaxy Notes 7 did, we weren’t fans of Apple's “upgraded” design and lack of a headphone jack. And the headphones themselves? We lost them before we even bought them.
6. Wells Fargo Sells Our Souls
7. Zika Virus Panic
8. Saying Goodbye To Legends
9. Pokemon Go Interrupts Human Life
10. Nasty Gal Bubble Pops
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.