Intimate Partner Violence: Love Shouldn’t Hurt

By Shon Mack and Senequa Malone | Interns and UAB Community Health and Human Services Students

Image credit Unknown, Graphics by Shayna Bryan

(This article is based on a discussion from WWL’s Monday Night Wellness Watch You can watch a recording of that livestream in the video player below, or on our YouTube page by clicking this link.)


Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence, is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.

IPV can take many forms. Some are more overt, such as physical violence, others are subtle like verbal, mental, emotional abuse, or other forms. Always, the goal is to control the victim through manipulation.

What are the warning signs?

            Aggressive behavior, controlling, manipulation, isolation, talking down or belittling, frequent bouts of jealousy are all common signs of an abusive relationship. The cycle of abuse ebbs and flows. Love bombing occurs when the abuser overwhelms their victim with loving words, actions, and behavior as a manipulation technique. This often acts as an apology for the abuse, maybe following an incident where the victim threatens to leave. Once the victim is convinced, or guilted, into staying the abuse resumes and may escalate.

Who are the victims?

            Anyone can be a victim of intimate partner violence. Women are more common in IPV cases, but men suffer as well and are often forgotten or disregarded. Statistics show that 1 out of 3 women 1 out of 4 men become victims. In Alabama, 37.5% of women and 29.5% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking in their lifetimes. Every case is different, and victims may have one or several of these indicators in common.

What are some of causes?

            Main cause is poor upbringing. Children growing up in households that normalize abuse. Research points to many causes of domestic violence, but all these causes and risk factors have one underlying commonality: the abuser feels the need to exert complete control over his or her partner. Some studies indicate that a cause of domestic violence stems from an intersection of both environmental and individual factors.

Who are the perpetrators?

  • Toxic – People who are full of toxicity
  • Hurt – People who are dealing with hurt
    • “Hurt people, hurt people”, people who have been hurt themselves can lash out to hurt others as a destructive way of dealing with their own pain
  • Broken – People who suffer from insecurities, low self-esteem
  • Learned – People who come from generations of abuse and repeat the abusive behaviors their learned from their family

Why do people stay?

Most people stay in abusive relationships due to a combination of love and fear. They love the person; believe they can change the person. Change comes from within. Loving an abusive person will not make them stop being abusive, they need to acknowledge their behavior and want to change before they are able. It is of utmost importance to understand it is no one’s responsibility to change the abuser. You do not owe them.

However, the number one reason people stay in abusive relationships is fear. People who are in these relationships have often been manipulated into believing it is normal, they deserve it, and/or that they cannot function on their own. They fear life on their own. They feel that no one will want them. For some, the abusive situation might be better than where they came from prior.

Unfortunately, ending an abusive relationship is not as simple as the victim choosing to leave; it is often a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser. Finance can play a major role as well and situations are more complex when children or assets are involved.

How can you escape an abusive relationship?

There are many dedicated experts and volunteers out there to help victims of abuse escape their situation. Contacting the Crisis Center, National Domestic Violence Hotline, and/or other local and national services is a good first step. Here is a list of common steps to take when leaving a domestic violence situation:

  • Create a safety plan
  • Have options where you can go (have a few in mind)
  • Have a bank account or credit card put in your name
  • Get a new cell phone
  • Change the locks, get a security system and outside lights
  • Think of ways to get your children to safety without being obvious
  • You can also think of excuses on how to get out of the house as mentioned earlier

If you do not feel safe researching or accessing online resources in your home, the public library is a great resource and a safe place where your activity cannot be tracked.

Love:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Local resources:

National Resources:


Citations:

Lamothe, C. (2019, December 17). Love bombing: 10 signs to know. Healthline. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/love-bombing. 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2020). Domestic violence in Alabama. Retrieved from http://www.ncadv.org/files/Alabama.pdf

Statistics. NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/statistics. 

Warning signs of abuse. The Hotline. (2021, June 15). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/domestic-abuse-warning-signs/. 

Why Do Victims Stay? NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/why-do-victims-stay. 


Balancing Me When Stressed to Be a Better Mom

By Khalia Wilkinson, M.Ed.

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

Are you an over-extended mom who has not felt like herself lately? Maybe getting out of bed and getting moving in the morning has become difficult. Maybe you have begun stress-eating or you find yourself eating and drinking more and more of the unhealthy foods and beverages that do not refuel your body. If this is you, let’s work to understand what may be going on.

Multiple factors may be at the root of having low energy and/or feelings of stress and anxiety. In order to recognize these causes, let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What is the real cause(s) of the stresses I am experiencing?
  • How do I hit the pause button in order to positively cope and regain self-control?
  • What can I implement today to take a step towards a healthier me?
  • Who are the trusted friends and/or resources that can support, encourage, and comfort me?
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

So what might this process look like?

Exploring the real causes of stress and then hitting the reset button may not be as easy as it sounds. Doing so requires focus and intentionality! If you are finding it difficult to process through your challenges and reset on your own, consider finding a positive and healthy accountability partner, mentor, or professional counselor. You may also consider journaling to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper where you can see them. Examine your journal over the next 30 days to find patterns in your thought processes, especially those that may trigger certain poor behaviors. Finally, know that you are not alone. Many of moms experience times of stress and frustration, but be encouraged but this season of stress will become a moment in the past.

Being Mom…

As you work through your processes…you are continuing to be a good mom. No one is perfect…No one! Continue to love your children; help your children to live life to the fullest; support your children; provide food; provide shelter; make time to have fun with your kids; and be a good model for your children. Of course, this is not exhaustive a list…but it sure is what we do as moms! You are great…you are a mom!


Change Your Scence and Mood at Oak Mountain Park!

By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Image credit clockwise from left: Magda Ehlers, PNW Production, Oak Mountain State Park

Did you know Alabama’s largest state park can be found just outside its largest city? 

Nature and Activities 

Mountain biking and hiking are two of the park’s most popular activities, but there are plenty more activities to feed your interest! 

  • Lakeside beach with swimming 
  • Watersports cable skiing 
  • Boat rentals 
  • Fishing 
  • Picnic area 
  • Golfing (with a full 18-hole course and driving range) 
  • Mountain biking (with a pump track and BMX course) 
  • Basketball courts 

Camping and Cabins 

Summer camping is hallmark of the season and Oak Mountain has the perfect spots, but if that is not your speed, try the cabins! For guests, Oak Mountains’ lake cabins are a place of peace and tranquility! The cabin grounds are found around Lake Tranquility; a 28-acre lake tucked away in the foothills of the mountain. Oak Mountain State Park offers ten fully equipped cabins that are open year-round, each with two bedrooms and one bath.   

Education and Learning 

Life science and avian rehabilitation are key components of the park. The Alabama Wildlife Center provides rehabilitation services to injured birds every year to return them to the wild.  Birds can be seen from the Tree Top Nature Trail. The Park is also home to the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center, a 2,500 square foot interactive exhibit space and teaching laboratory. Families can enjoy nature programs (including a demonstration farm full of animals to feed and interact with) and visit the extensive equestrian center for horseback riding. 

Whether you’re interested in a peaceful getaway, an action-packed weekend, or an educational experience, Oak Mountain has you covered. 

Get active and check out your local area for parks!


Sources: 

https://www.alapark.com/parks/oak-mountain-state-park


Take Care of Yourself!

by Adrienne Stokes, M. Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

The COVID-19 pandemic may be stressful, but you can get through it. Take care of yourself and cope with the stress by addressing your physical, emotional, and mental health.

Take care of your Physical Health through

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Plenty of good sleep
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol and drug use

Take care of your Emotional Health through

  • Connecting with others
  • Taking a break (unwinding)
  • Staying informed (but avoiding too much exposure to news)
  • Seeking help when you need it

Take care of your Mental Mealth through

  • Meditation
  • Connecting with your faith-based organization
  • Continuing with your treatment and staying aware of new or worsening symptoms
  • Calling for help if needed

Black Mental Health Resources

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255

• TC Counseling & Consulting (205) 377-5537

• Allworld Counseling & Consulting (205) 583-0237

• Strive Counseling Services (205) 721-9893

• Black Mental Health Alliance (410) 338-2642

• National Crisis Hotline (800) 273-8255

• The Crisis Center – Birmingham (205) 323-7777


Railroad Park, Birmingham’s Green Oasis

By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Looking for a safe place to get a dose of sunshine this summer? Try Railroad Park, located in the heart of Birmingham and situated along 1st Avenue South between 14th and 18th Streets. The park is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily with around-the-clock rangers on patrol and 24-hour security system surveillance. Free parking is available along the outer perimeters of the park along 1st Avenue South.

Get Active in the Park!

Featuring 19 acres of green space, including 9 acres of open lawn, Railroad Park is the ideal place to have a picnic, go for a jog, or play frisbee with peers or pets. There are onsite restrooms, water fountains, and a café with a delicious menu, so feel free to make a day of it!

Railroad Park is abundant with greenery and water features, with ponds, streams, an eye-catching lake, and a stunning rain curtain feature. More than 600 trees have been planted for shade and the abundance of flowers make the park a luxurious landscape for the senses.

There is large outdoor gym area inspired by Muscle Beach in California. For kids, the park offers two playgrounds and a climbing dome. For skaters, there is a designated skate zone with three skate bowls available. For an adult looking to get active, it offers a variety of walking trails including

  • The Magic City Loop (3/4 mile)
  • Rail Trail (1/3 mile)
  • Powell Avenue Promenade (1/3 mile)
  • Limestone Trace (1/2 mile)

With sweeping lawns, picturesque streams and the beautiful Birmingham skyline framing it all, Railroad Park a prime spot for relaxing and connecting with nature within our urban jungle.


Use this image to share the message on social media!

Sources:

Birmingham’s Railroad Park – About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2021, from: https://www.railroadpark.org/about.html


REFLECTING ON JUNETEENTH: FROM CELEBRATION TO CALL FOR ACTION (FOR ALL AMERICANS)

By Shayna Bryan (UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern) with contributions from Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson

On Thursday, June 17th (2021), the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed into law, making this year’s observation of Juneteenth, the first observation of the new federal holiday.  On Friday, the 18th, Dr. Larrell Wilkinson had the opportunity to speak to a diverse group of college sophomores and juniors about aging research within the fields of community health and human services.  During his talk, Dr. Wilkinson spoke about the day’s federal observance of “Juneteenth” which is traditionally celebrated on June 19th in celebration of the day in 1865 when enslaved African-Americans were informed of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended.  Dr. Wilkinson shared with the young diverse scholars his hope for the Juneteenth commemoration to help foster “understanding given diverse racial experiences among Americans, which could support racial healing and reconciliation among Americans, and lead to greater solidarity within our country.”  He ended by saying that “we have to do the work…Americans can overcome challenges when working together and tackling the issues.”

Juneteenth is about celebrating the end of chattel slavery in the US as well as African American history, culture, and progress. But make no mistake, this is an American celebration for everyone because it marks a turning point in our nation’s history that is painful to remember but essential to understand for our future.  Slavery was a terrible human and economic institution that has bathed our country’s history in blood and conflict.  In our present day and into the future we have opportunities to reduce the instances of racial violence and prejudice and heal the hurts from our many past circumstances of injustice.  Keeping systems of segregation, discrimination, and oppression due to the social construct of race in order to preserve power, resources, or wealth for a select racial category is un-American and will not lead to the forming of a “more perfect union.”

We should never forget the terrible atrocities conducted under the system of slavery or the harms performed during the eras of Reconstruction and Jim Crow.  But we should also remember to celebrate the recovery and progress made towards racial harmony and cultural proficiency by all racial groups and work to secure the “blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” What are your thoughts? From your point of view, what is the best way(s) to improve cultural and racial harmony in the United States of America? Please feel free to leave comments below or engage with us @WilkinsonWellnessLab on Facebook.


LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND ITS BENEFITS

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

If you’ve ever spent time looking for healthy diets to follow, but wanted to avoid a highly restrictive diet (like vegan) or a commercial diet plan (like Weight Watchers), you probably have come across the Mediterranean Diet. It has been the subject of research for over 50 years and has been ranked the best overall diet by the U.S. News and World Report for four years running. The American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the World Health Organization have all endorsed the Mediterranean diet as a healthy and sustainable eating style that reduces risk for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The Mediterranean Diet also may assist with weight loss in obese people and is associated with lower rates of depression, cognitive decline, cancer, and all-cause mortality.

This diet has a lot of major endorsements! So then, what’s up with this diet and why is it so special?

The Mediterranean Sea is a meeting point of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. When health experts and researchers recommend the “Mediterranean Diet” they’re not talking about the food of just one people or one culture, but the common shared characteristics of the simple everyday meals made for centuries in this region of the world. Meals are built around plant-based foods, heavily seasoned with herbs and spice (though not tons of salt). These meals are made, shared, and enjoyed amongst a community of families and friends.

Here’s are the common characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet:

  • High consumption of vegetables, often raw or slightly cooked
  • Beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, potatoes, and unprocessed or whole grains
  • Olive oil as the principal source of fat
  • Fruit treated as a dessert
  • Moderate consumptions of fish, poultry, and dairy (mostly in the form of yogurt and cheese)
  • Low consumption of red meat
  • Moderate alcohol consumption, often in the form of red wine

Please check out the source below to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet. Please also share your thoughts about the Mediterranean Diet in the comments section of this post or via our page on Facebook @WilkinsonWellnessLab.

Sources:

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, June 21). Mediterranean diet for heart health. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/previous-dietary-guidelines/2015.

U.S. News & World Report. (n.d.). Mediterranean Diet. U.S. News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mediterranean-diet.

What is the Mediterranean Diet? http://www.heart.org. (n.d.). https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet.


DOING SELF-CARE & BEING WELL: JOIN CONVERSATIONS WITH KHALIA EVERY FOUTH MONDAY

By: Flora Johnson, Intern

FLYER FROM EAST LAKE LIBRARY OF THE BIRMINGHAM PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM

“What is missing is fun. We need to unplug and do something fun! It may sound cheesy, but having fun is self-care.” – Khalia Wilkinson

Are you ready to live well, be healthy, and walk into abundant life?  Conversations with Khalia is a platform designed for women to speak freely about matters of life. Conversations with Khalia is a virtual talk on women’s wellness hosted through the East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Library every fourth Monday of the month. Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson is a coach and minister working with women looking to ditch feeling stressed, overwhelmed, drained, and desiring to be accomplished, healthy, and thriving.  On April 26, 2021, she will host an online conversation at 12:15PM CST. You can register here (https://tinyurl.com/Online-Conversations) or call (205) 836-3341 to attend.

Khalia Wilkinson is a counselor and wellness coach with 15 years of experience mentoring and training women. She has written The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide to uplift women experiencing wellness withdrawals due to the sudden shifts in their schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide discusses in-depth how to navigate the required activities of daily living in this new unforeseen space while managing isolation, mental wellness, schedules, and self-care. She also hosts the Woman31 Podcast, a podcast rooted in biblical principles found in Proverbs, Chapter 31 with an accompanying website: Woman31.

Khalia believes that a woman’s health and well-being is foundational to ensuring all other scheduled family activities are successfully completed. The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide embraces concepts of self-care in support of one’s overall health and wellness.  The guide offers easy-to-perform tasks that can help individuals better manage their well-being.

Self-care is typically visualized as a spa day. However, Khalia suggests that adequate sleep, eating a healthy and satisfying meal, praying, laughing at a good movie, and/or speaking with a trusted and supportive friend are all excellent modes of self-care. Understanding where you are and what health areas you need to focus on is pivotal to living well.

Khalia says that mental health is vital to overall wellness. She suggested that seeking professional counseling is absolutely a “good thing” to do, especially when one is experiencing serious mental illness. She also mentioned that feeling negative emotions is a signal to our body that something is not “okay.” Thus, it is important to listen to our body and seek help. When asked if there was any wellness advice she could offer, she said, “Do something fun and find ways to get back to the activities we love, because it can be healthy for our bodies.” You can always connect with Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson on Instagram, @khalia.woman31.


CDC’s Commitment to Addressing Racism as an Obstacle to Health Equity

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

Commentary drawn from Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Media Statement & Website released Thursday, April 8 2021

According to the CDC (2021),…”Racism—both interpersonal and structural —negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health, and consequently, affecting the health of our nation. A growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color. The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society—affecting where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays and creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits—such as housing, education, wealth, and employment. These conditions—often referred to as social determinants of health—are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color, placing those within these populations at greater risk for poor health outcomes.”

The CDC is committed to ensuring every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life. To that end, CDC—as the nation’s leading public health agency—has established this web portal, “Racism and Health” to serve as a hub for our activities, promote a public discourse on how racism negatively affects health and communicate potential solutions. Working with the broader public health community, the CDC will serve as a catalyst to further investigate the impact of racism on health and efforts to achieve health equity for all.

As the nation’s leading public health agency, other efforts from the CDC in addressing the impact of racism on public health include:

  • Continuing to study the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, expand the body of evidence on how racism affects health, and propose and implement solutions to address this.
  • Making new and expanded investments in racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities around the country, establishing a durable infrastructure that will provide the foundation and resources to address disparities related to COVID-19 and other health conditions.
  • Expanding internal agency efforts to foster greater diversity and create an inclusive and affirming environment for all.

For more information about the CDC’s efforts in addressing Racism & Health, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/racism-disparities/index.html. Also, feel free to share your thoughts and concerns regarding racism here in the comments section, or engage with us at the Wilkinson Wellness Lab on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


#STOPAAPIHATE, Be a Good Neighbor

By Jun Wang & Shayna Bryan (Interns & UAB Community Health & Human Services Students), & Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

The United States of America is a country of great cultural diversity. People from all around the world come here and contribute to the broader American community. Asian Americans & Pacific Islander (AAPI) citizens also call the United States of American their home, about 22.6 million in number which accounts for about 5.4% of the population (US Census Bureau, 2021).

Anti-Asian sentiment is not a new problem in the United States.  Asian immigrants first came to the US in the 1850s and were instrumental in expansion and development of the western half of the country (US Census Bureau, 2020). But in response to cultural and economic objections fueled by ethnic discrimination, President Arthur signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act, which remains the first and only immigration law that targeted a specific ethnic group. The law wasn’t repealed until 1943. This type of in-group/out-group mentality threatens our strength and abilities as a country. It is in this vein and in working to affirm the humanity of all individuals that the recent rise in violent acts against the AAPI community must be addressed and stopped.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans has risen by 150% (Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, 2020). During this time when our country should unite to face down the COVID-19 pandemic, some choose dissension, violence, and hate.  But we can choose to be kind to each other, seek to live peacefully with one another, and act to care for our neighbors.

Here are some tips for all of us to combat this challenge together:

  1. Call 911 for help or to make a report to authorities if you witness a hate crime or harmful incident suspected of being racially or ethnically motivated.
  2. Use your voice within social media to speak against hate speech, while affirming support for all humanity.
  3. Do a “care check-in” with your AAPI neighbors and friends

For this on other ways to help build a more “just” and healthy society, please visit the websites of the Society of Public Health Education and the American Public Health Association.  Please continue to follow us at the Wilkinson Wellness Lab.  Join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/wilkinsonwellnesslab.  Let’s all be better, together!

Everyone please put on masks, practice social distancing, and stay safe.

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References

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May 2020. (30 April 2020). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2020/aian.html

US Census Data. Retrieved from: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=united%20states&g=0100000US&tid=ACSDP5Y2018.DP05&hidePreview=true

Chinese Immigration and the Chinese Exclusion Acts. Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute United States Department of State. Retrieved from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/chinese-immigration

FACT SHEET – Anti-Asian Hate 2020. Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism. CSUSB. Retrieved from https://www.csusb.edu/sites/default/files/FACT%20SHEET-%20Anti-Asian%20Hate%202020%203.2.21.pdf

Stop AAPI Hate 2020-2021 National Report. Retrieved from: https://stopaapihate.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Stop-AAPI-Hate-National-Report-210316.pdf

Stop AAPI Hate Resources. https://stopaapihate.org/resources/