Writing Portfolio
Journalism: News Reporting and Analysis

Trump Contradicts His Pro-Police Platform With Proposed Cuts to Domestic Violence Programs

Rewire News
AUGUST 23, 2017

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said one of his top issues is protecting police officers; the White House website even included “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community” as part of its priorities. But his budget proposal, which includes cuts to federally funded domestic violence programs, says otherwise. These changes, combined with any additional state cuts, would put countless lives in jeopardy—because as we see frequently reported in the news, officers are more often killed when responding to domestic dispute calls than other calls.

A 2016 report from the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services cited domestic dispute calls as being the most dangerous domestic calls for police to respond to,

Why Do People Return to Domestic Abusers?

The Fix
AUGUST 17, 2017

Leaving an abusive partner is difficult for so many reasons. An emotional bond, like that in an intimate relationship, creates an attachment that is as physical as it is emotional. A report by the American Psychological Association found that emotional attachment is positively correlated with a likelihood to return to a domestic batterer. Some abusive relationships involve control over finances and property. In an estimated 98 percent of relationships where domestic violence is present, economic abuse is also there. Children may be involved, creating conflicts of custody and childcare. Abused people often blame themselves. They may leave a relationship with strong feelings of anger, frustration, and fear. As time passes, they may return when those feelings recede and are replaced with shame, guilt, and denial.

The Family and Medical Leave Act and Addiction Treatment

The Fix
AUGUST 8, 2017

The United States does not have a great health care system to help people with substance use disorders (SUD). At every socioeconomic level, treatment is not easy to access. Stereotypes about addicts are outdated and inaccurate. Addiction and alcoholism are usually treated like moral failings or personal choice. The trope of the homeless alcoholic wandering the streets in rags is the story for some people, but it isn’t accurate for most individuals with an SUD.

Retracting Rape Allegations is Not Proof Victims Are Lying

The Fix
JUNE 18, 2017

Retracting an abuse allegation is not proof that the abused is lying or that the alleged abuser is innocent. Rape is amongst the most underreported crimes. Victims face enormous obstacles in the aftermath of rape. Not the least of which is deciding whether or not to contact the police. The justice system is designed to be a hostile and foreboding institution, for better or worse. Across the world, victims have reported feeling intimidated by criminal justice systems.

When You Call 911 and Nobody Picks Up

The Development Set
MAY 3, 2017

Across the United States, emergency dispatch services are consolidating, and in many cases, run privately. In rural areas, it could mean the difference between life and death.

• • • •

Today, Vermont has two consolidated 911 centers — which, according to Adams, are short-staffed by at least 11 people. 911 centers in Washington, DC are staffed by people who do not always know the ins and outs of the city’s roads. Boston’s 911 calls sometimes go unanswered because there just aren’t enough people to answer the phones. In Denver, employees must work up to 16 hours a day. Connecticut experienced issues with their regionalization efforts and even reversed several consolidation decisions.

Let Us Heal: On Surviving and the Controversial ‘Comfort Woman’

APRIL 4, 2017

I have experienced a lot of loss in my life, and to work through those emotions I’ve become familiar with the importance of grief. Knowing this, when I heard about the Japanese government’s ongoing disapproval of a public memorial in honor of “comfort women,” whom Japanese soldiers took as sex slaves during World War II, I was both exasperated and baffled.

Erected on December 28, 2016, by South Korean civic activists, the statue is located across from the Japanese consulate in Busan. The “comfort woman” statue exists in other locations around the world, including in Seoul and here in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to hear a years-long lawsuit in which the plaintiffs sought to get a statue taken down in Glendale, California. One of the plaintiffs, the Global Alliance for Historical Truth, claims that so-called comfort women were not sex slaves.

What Rev. Jeffress’ Private Sermon Tells Us About Trump

Wear Your Voice
JANUARY 26, 2017

Jeffress’ presence at the inauguration and his role on Trump’s evangelical advisory board can tell us something about Trump’s plans.

Just before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Reverend Robert Jeffress delivered a sermon privately for Trump and his family. It was a decision that, like many of Trump’s decisions, drew controversy.

In 2010, Jeffress gave a sermon during which he said, “The deep, dark, dirty secret of Islam: It is a religion that promotes pedophilia — sex with children. This so-called prophet Muhammad raped a 9-year-old girl — had sex with her.” Embracing Robert Jeffress is confirmation that Trump is anti-Islam and pro-discrimination of marginalized members of society. Less than a week into his presidency, Trump has already signed an executive order to deny visas to anyone from seven majority Muslim countries.

New Puerto Rico Governor Wants Independence or Statehood — And Its Woes Are the U.S.’s Fault

Wear Your Voice
JANUARY 5, 2017

Puerto Rico is experiencing a huge economic crisis. The population is declining in response as people leave the archipelago in a financial exodus. Eric Platt reported in the Financial Times that the $110 billion debt suffered by the commonwealth “has prompted one of the largest migratory movements within the U.S. in decades.” In the last 10 years, the population of Puerto Rico has dropped by 9 percent.

On Monday, Puerto Rico’s new governor was sworn into office. Governor Ricardo Rosello announced that he would hold an immediate referendum to finally push the island towards either statehood or independence. It’s not a new concern, but with the devastating economic crisis entering its second decade, the statehood movement has a new sense of urgency.

What Donald Trump's Presidency Could Mean for Mental Health

Wear Your Voice
November 17, 2016

Donald Trump is the President-Elect, and it is not good news for mental health care. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who had a comprehensive mental-health-care program as part of her platform, it’s difficult to discern what Trump’s plan is — or if he has one at all.

On his official campaign website, mental health is mentioned briefly. Trump will “reform our mental health programs and institutions” and support veterans “by addressing their invisible wounds,” increasing the “number mental health care professionals” and making mental health support available to veterans outside of Veterans Affairs.

Trump and surrogates for his campaign, such as Dr. Ben Carson and Chris Christie, have continually blamed gun violence on mental illness. During the third Republican candidates’ debate, in October 2015, Trump perpetuated an untrue and damaging stigma by conflating mental illness and gun violence.

Should We Feel Empathy for a Mother Whose Neglect Killed Her Baby?

Wear Your Voice
October 11, 2016

In August, 62-year-old Kathleen Steele was arrested for the death of her infant child, who was killed by the hands of Steele’s 6-year-old son. Steele left her three children in the car, aged 13 days, 3 years and 6 years. According to reports, Steele left her kids in a parked car with the windows up and the doors locked. While Steele was away, the baby girl began to cry. The 6-year-old told police that the crying made him mad. So he grabbed his sister from her car seat and proceeded to throw her around the vehicle, ultimately killing her.

This case has three victims: the children. The youngest lost her life when it had only just begun. The 3-year-old has had his family ripped apart. The 6-year-old faces an incredibly difficult road to overcome the grief, trauma and shame of what he did at such a young age. A psychiatrist told the Tampa Bay Times that his future will hinge on “how stable a support system the boy will receive in the future.”

On the surface, this tragedy appears to be a straightforward case of parental neglect. Anecdotes by neighbors paint a picture of a neglectful mother and a jealous son with aggression issues.

Will Big Pharma Support a Non-Addictive Opioid?

The Fix
OCTOBER 2, 2016

Opioids are highly addictive and sometimes, especially in combination with other drugs, deadly. There is, as of yet, no other kind of pain medication that matches the level of relief provided by opiates, nor is there any comparable high for people who are addicted to the drug. Thus, the epidemic grows and more people die.

Some researchers are unwilling to give up on the search for a non-addictive opioid and they may be getting close to finding one. A report in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" published findings on a new opioid only named BU08028. The drug was tested on monkeys and found to be as effective at managing pain as the most powerful opioids on the market today. The uniqueness of BU08028 lies in its lack of fatal side effects. It's non-habit forming, is believed not to bring on a euphoric high, and even at extremely high doses is not deadly. The science on this drug is still in the early phases, and some doctors have doubts over the kinds of pain it can manage and whether or not it is actually as benign as these initial tests have found.

Are Other Countries Handling Harassment Better Than America?

AUGUST 25, 2016

Wednesday. Leslie Jones, a woman of color and star of the new Ghostbusters film, had her personal accounts hacked with intimate photos posted to her website, along with confidential details of her passport and driver’s license. Jones had only recently taken time off from social media after being bombarded by a mob of racist, sexist, hate-fueled trolls. They were apparently offended by the audacity of the women who dared to walk in the footsteps of the comedians who starred in the original Ghostbusters classic.

Since the surviving members of the classic Ghostbusters all made cameos and public endorsements of the film, the online bullies were not defending their favorite comedians. It’s impossible to escape the notion that these online bullies had no other goal than defending and perpetrating racist misogyny.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Newest Flop "Split" Demonizes Mental Illness

AUGUST 12, 2016

Set to premiere January 20th, 2017, the film positions dissociative identity disorder (DID) to be dangerous.

Dissociative identity disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder, is a relatively rare and widely misunderstood psychiatric condition. It’s a controversial diagnosis due to its frequent comorbidity with multiple other mental disorders. Trauma is believed to be the spark that causes dissociation. A person with DID may have developed this “splitting” of personalities, manifested as alters, as a way to compartmentalize traumatic experiences. It’s self-preservation. Temporary bouts of amnesia are reported when someone switches between alters. Due to the rarity of the disorder and the diversity of cases, this is only a rough summary of an extremely complex mental disorder.

Hollywood has a history of using mental illness as a way to make characters seem dangerous, out of control or hopeless. Arkham Asylum comes to mind as an example of this stereotype. Part of the DC world of superheroes, Batman’s adversaries are often humans that have “gone mad.” He sends them to Arkham Asylum because they’re dangerous and “crazy.” The most empathy displayed for institutionalized psychiatric patients in Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman is when Batman says, “We have hospitals to treat the mentally ill with compassion, that’s not where you’re going.”

Four Ways Public Art is Making the Invisible Visible in Buenos Aires

Atlas Obscura
NOVEMBER 25, 2013

The sunny disposition of Buenos Aires, Argentina — where there is literally constant sunshine, parties until 6 am, and every greeting includes a kiss — can blind visitors to the country’s darker chapters. There is a dramatic layered history of homelessness, poverty, missing people, and untimely deaths.

Street art exploded on the scene when Argentina’s Dirty War ended in the early 1980s; all the bottled up emotion was released and the people of Buenos Aires let the colors of their emotions paint over the city. Street art has since become commonplace in the city, where graffiti tagged walls mingle with murals that decorate nearly every public park. It has become such an integral part of the architecture and landscape that often people walking by a mural appreciate its vibrancy, but forget that the art is how the invisible is being made visible.