As Frank Sinatra famously sang, accidents will happen. It's a simple fact of life that not everything will run as it should – and sometimes this has tragic and fatal consequences. Elon Musk is in hot water, with a lawsuit being filed against him and his company, Tesla, following the death of an 18-year old who was killed when a Tesla Model S battery malfunctioned. This isn't an isolated incident – there have been 12 cases of Tesla S batteries exploding or spontaneously combusting leading to accidents and injuries. But just what comes after something serious like this for a company?
The case against Tesla is up in the air, mainly because of the stringent insurance that Tesla will have to protect themselves. That's why it's such a cautionary tale about the importance of general liability insurance for small business, as having the right insurance can help protect your company and customers alike.
General liability insurance coverage, in particular, is vital for any business as it covers everyone involved against bodily and personal injury as well as property damage. Most importantly, it helps cover against accident lawsuits, which can alone bankrupt a company.
In addition to ensuring you have the right insurance to protect your company and customers following an accident, part of surviving the fallout of a situation like this as a company is making changes to your product to reduce the possibility of a similar accident happening again.
For example, Golden Age actress Jayne Mansfield also changed the course of history for tractor-trailers. An accident that ended up killing the star changed the regulations on tractor-trailers to prevent future accidents. Mansfield's death added stronger safety features into a potentially dangerous contraption, aptly named Mansfield Bars or underride bars, which prevent anything from sliding underneath them. Accidents can cause a company or an entire industry to change the processes and methods in which they do things.
Accidents in other companies can lead to serious change regarding how they are viewed. British theme park Alton Towers cultivated a terrible reputation following an accident on their rollercoaster, which forced a young woman to have to endure a leg amputation. The social media uproar and customer distrust of the company grew and resulted in sales for the Merlin brand dropping for their theme park offering.
The BP oil accident at Deepwater Horizon, which was later made into a film, was another example of an accident leading to terrible publicity for the brand, as well as showing the fullest extent that accident lawsuits can go to, with BP paying over $42 billion. The CEO Tony Hayward was so embattled that he made a public gaffe by claiming “I'd like my life back" when he was done with answering questions on the spillages along the US Gulf Coast. The public tide began to turn on the fossil fuel provider, and people began looking at alternative methods that weren't liable to cause as many accidents. PR meltdowns could lead to devastation for companies, all because their safety protocol wasn't in place and an accident happened.
Accidents are awful, but a fact of life. There is nothing that we can do to prevent them – but we can protect ourselves should they happen. Ensuring that nothing can go wrong is vital, and often where companies find their downfall is when evidence of reckless endangerment or incorrect practices is unveiled. But, when the definition of the word accident can be applied, the best policy is to ensure that we are as protected from the aftermath as possible.
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.