Writing Portfolio
Journalism: News Reporting and Analysis

Ten Things Survivors Should Know About the Title IX Rollback

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos warned that she would not protect the Obama-era guidelines that helped schools establish systems and policies for investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. As early as January, during her confirmation hearings, DeVos said she would not commit to protecting those guidelines.

We Have a Media Literacy Problem, and Hysteria Over Fake News Isn’t Helping

The latest scapegoat in the wild world of news and American politics is “the media.” The media is to blame for everything. The media is dishonest. The media should not be biased. The media is too biased. The media is fake news. It’s an inaccurate way to talk about such a massive collection of industries…

What Bigoted Rev. Jeffress’ Private Sermon Tells Us About Trump

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…

Trump’s Lies: Why He’s Good at Them and Why People Believe

Moral values are appealed to through stories — and Trump is a storyteller. His false narratives are easier to believe than reject. The present is legitimized by the stories told about the past, and we are more likely to believe a story that aligns with the ones we’ve always been told.

Puerto Rico’s Economic Demise is the Fault of the U.S. Federal Gov.

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.

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

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…

Why Are We Surprised by Leniency for White Rapists

With Stanford rapist Brock Turner being released from prison Friday after a laughably short sentence, it’s time to look at privilege. Again. Widely publicized news stories paint a picture of the powerful (read: white and those benefiting from white male power structures) being protected because of their (imagined, good) intent — while the disenfranchised (read: people of color) are punished for theirs.

Cutting Domestic Violence Programs is Dangerous

Courtesy of Donkey Hotey on Flickr Creative Commons Sharealike License The current political climate in the United States is putting victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the police officers who respond to their emergency calls in greater danger. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said one of his top issues is protecting police officers; the White House website even included “Standing Up For…

You Call Us Snowflakes Like It’s a Bad Thing

People have been calling each other “special snowflakes” at least as far back as Fight Club, but the insult has snowballed recently. The Guardian dubbed “poor little snowflake” the top insult of 2016.

How to Stop Having White Privilege Ignorance

[Content Note: Racism] Are you white? If you answered yes, this lesson is for you. This is Part 3 in a series I like to call, “How to Be Less of a Jerk: A Crash Course on -Isms.” Be sure to study up with the other lessons on not being such a jerk: here are Part…

Read These 10 Books Before They’re Banned Books

Books have been banned and burned for as long as the written word has been circulating in print. That’s why you need to read each one of these — before you can’t.

Yes, Trump and Hitler Are Similar – But It Isn’t Too Late To Stop Trump

Deportation raids are happening en masse across the country. Refugees have been turned away at the border, echoing a shameful past when Holocaust refugees were refused entry to the United States in 1939. The ACLU is defending infamous white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos, even though Holocaust survivors have said hate speech is a precursor to genocide. Xenophobia…

Trump’s Lies: Why He’s Good at Them and Why People Believe

Moral values are appealed to through stories — and Trump is a storyteller. His false narratives are easier to believe than reject. The present is legitimized by the stories told about the past, and we are more likely to believe a story that aligns with the ones we’ve always been told.

Puerto Rico’s Economic Demise is the Fault of the U.S. Federal Gov.

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.

Stigma Punishes Victims, Helps Perpetrators

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.

How to Be Less of a Jerk – Part 2 – Admit Racism

Racism is a system of oppression that permeates all levels of society and shows itself in invisible and in-your-face ways. But those things, those subtle acts or non-acts, are the stepping stones violence walks on. It isn’t always deliberate; it’s subtle, and that stealthy prejudice is where the blatant hate gets its strength. The seeds of covert racist denial are the fertilizer for outright discrimination, brutality, and hatred.

What Donald Trump’s Presidency Could Mean for Mental Health

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.

Donald Trump is Just Like My Abuser

That’s when it clicked: I can’t watch Trump because he is a manipulator, and his manner of speaking is that of an emotional abuser. That’s why I was finding myself fighting panic and flashbacks when I first tried watching him debate. I was flashing back to my own experience as a victim of abuse.

How to Be Less of a Jerk When Called Racist

Hey, white folks, stop getting offended when someone calls you racist. Instead, try this: shut up, listen and learn. Welcome to the crash course that is here to teach you how to be less of a jerk when you’re called racist. Impact is different than intent. When someone is calling you out on a prejudicial and problematic comment, it’s because your impact is harmful — no matter what you intended.

Intent and White Privilege Keeps Whites Out of Jail

White privilege provides a protective buffer of assumptions that is not given to people of color, especially not to black people. To better understand how this functions, think of whiteness as a protective benefit-of-the-doubt shield. To level up the shield, you have to be given more layers of privilege.

Why Are We Surprised by Leniency for White Rapists

With Stanford rapist Brock Turner being released from prison Friday after a laughably short sentence, it’s time to look at privilege. Again. Widely publicized news stories paint a picture of the powerful (read: white and those benefiting from white male power structures) being protected because of their (imagined, good) intent — while the disenfranchised (read: people of color) are punished for theirs.

Feminist and Feeling the Bern 

I am a progressive feminist, I am voting for Bernie Sanders, and I’m not the only one. Let’s begin with dispelling an important misconception, feminists are not a unified force on all issues. Feminism isn’t a cult or secret society, women don’t get initiated and then promise to always choose the lady over the fella if they’re duking it out.

Individuality, Civil Rights Not Identity Politics

As society continues to place more and more responsibility on the individual, we being to perceive the collective as weak and silly. Individuality is the western perception of the person as a static, singular, indivisible being without extensions beyond the individual body.

10 Horrifying Examples Of Modern-Day Child Slavery

Childhood is defined by culturally set boundaries which have changed throughout human history. There are millions of children trafficked around the world and forced into lives of depravity and despair.

Nelson Mandela Confronts White Privilege

Nelson Mandela’s final speech to the African National Congress was in 1997, and he used the opportunity to confront white privilege. His speech made the white privileged masses shudder and react defensively with movements such as Red October.

Was Nelson Mandela’s Revolution Nonviolent?

Recently the conservative evangelist radio and TV program, Wretched, interviewed a South African man named Dr Peter Hammond about Nelson Mandela’s revolution. Wretched is meant to be a different brand of Christian news, combining sarcasm and investigative reporting to bring a clear yet humorous clarity (through a religious lens) to news. It draws a certain…

Feeling Depressed Is Different Than Being Depressed

What I'm here to say is that "feeling depressed" is a different beast than “having depression.” Depression is a diagnosable medical condition and a disorder in the DSM-V. It affects many more aspects of life than just emotional. Some symptoms can severely impact the quality of life for people with it.

Is It Possible to Stay Clean Without Getting Sober?

For the purposes of this essay, clean is defined as being off “hard drugs” and sober is being off all drugs (alcohol included). Accepting these definitions, is it possible to stay clean without getting sober?

Teaching Kids About Drugs: Alternatives to DARE

Any program predicated on the idea that people need to “just say no” causes the opposite effect. High risk groups tend to be encouraged to participate in the forbidden behavior.

Mental Health Stigma Nearly Killed Me

Stigma about mental illness was encoded into my inner schema. It was so deeply embedded in me that it prevented me from even trying out possible solutions.

Dissociating is like being stuck in my head but not my body

I can’t say anything. He wants me to tell him if I’m ok and I am trapped in my head, but not in my body. I can’t move my eyes to look into his.

Drinking as Self-Harm

When I can only see the world through foggy glasses, the urge to destroy myself by drinking again becomes an enticing option. Drinking can be a method of self-harm and was for me.

Drunk Watching Intervention

People say that reality TV is just scripted lies with a dose of reality, but Intervention showed me my own reality. My obsession with the show, Intervention, planted some warning flags in my line of vision. I had to fall over a ton of them before I realized they were there, but I finally did realize.

Sensory Overload, It’s Real and This is What It Feels Like

When this happens, I can’t focus on just one sense — it is all of them happening at once and on overdrive. Instead of tuning out hushed voices outside my door, it feels as if they are in my face and everything occurring is happening at the same level of intensity.

Gendered Language in 12-Step Programs

Resistance to changing the gendered text of AA literature places an unfair burden on the many people who want to get sober but feel ostracized by the oppressive language. It others people in a program that is specifically meant to be inclusive to all.

The Internet Can Help Trauma Survivors— But It Can Harm Them, Too

For many battling depression and other mental illness, social networking sites are the only place they feel understood. The internet keeps the door to the outside world ajar just enough to make it possible for help to sneak through.

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health While Traveling

No matter how long you're traveling for, or how you're getting there, or how far you're going, you should be taking precautionary measures to protect your health. This is especially critical if you are coping with issues of addiction and mental illness.

The Family and Medical Leave Act and Addiction Treatment

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.

How Journaling Has Helped Me Heal

From a young age, I learned that writing about my pain was like talking to a friend. My journal has traveled as far and wide as I have.

Cutting Domestic Violence Programs is Dangerous

Courtesy of Donkey Hotey on Flickr Creative Commons Sharealike License The current political climate in the United States is putting victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the police officers who respond to their emergency calls in greater danger. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said one of his top issues is protecting police officers; the White House website even included “Standing Up For…

Why Do People Return to Domestic Abusers?

creative commons image by Giuseppe Milo www.pixael.com It never fails. Whenever a high-profile relationship goes public with domestic violence accusations, the internet will buzz with people who withhold sympathy for the alleged victim because they stayed in the relationship. If the accusations come after a long relationship comes to an end, the victim will be…

Why I Didn’t Try To Lose Weight For My Wedding

The author on her wedding day. Courtesy of Adrian Herrera of Victor Herrera Photographers To take care of myself in the months preceding my wedding I had to make a conscious effort to not dive into dieting. Wedding weight loss was off the list of things for me to do, or to even attempt. As…

How to Stay Sober on Vacation

Photo courtesy of Giuseppe Milo at http://www.pixael.com/en/shop Summer is here and the warmth radiating into the office window conjures up dreams of poolside lounge chairs and remote sun-kissed beaches. While you mentally plan your dream getaway and add pins to your vacation planning Pinterest board, guilty and anxious thoughts about drinking can trickle in. You…

Retracting Allegations of Abuse is Not Proof – Trauma and Memories

Graffiti in Buenos Aires. Photo by the author 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…

When Depression Shows Her Face

Age – 29 Depression weighs on me Why is Depression so heavy? Hanging around in the pit of my stomach, a pulsating orb, a cancer re-emerging after remission. The sorrow is physically manifested in my gut. I feel a deep discontent. A piece missing or shifted into the wrong position. A heavy weight, crushing. Like…

I Can’t Stop Picking At My Skin

Mom liked to redecorate and renovate. She decked out the main bathroom in blue and put up yellow and blue wallpaper. The dated linoleum floor was replaced with one to match the new décor. The bathtub had always been blue, now the rest of the room was too.

Willpower Doesn’t Keep Me Sober

Surely, self-control and moderate drinking were skills I could learn. If someone would just tell me the secret, I would be able to solve the puzzle and be cured. If I tried harder, if I was punished enough to learn discipline, if I went to enough therapy…if…if…

Opioids, Dissociation, and PTSD – The Shocking Connections

Animals that are put under constant duress seem as if they are on an opioid like heroin. Scientists also observed animals reacting like addicts in withdrawal when an opioid blocker was used to disrupt the flow of natural endogenous opioids.

Why I Won’t Be Making New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are rarely successful. Research published by Statistic Brain, a non-partisan independent research group, found that only eight percent of people achieve their resolutions. That number is significantly higher for people in their twenties versus people over fifty. The longer we maintain certain behaviors, the less likely we are to be able to…

Is Guilt Selfish? Regret, Shame, and Relapse

Since guilt is cited as a frequent relapse trigger, we need to uncover the layers of internal regret. Looking back over journals from different periods in my life, guilt has always been a major character in my evolving chapters of self-destruction. I have heard it said that alcoholics tend to think they are the piece…

What Donald Trump’s Presidency Could Mean for Mental Health

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.

39 Excuses for Not Drinking

Other people shouldn’t have a problem with you saying no to a drink. Unfortunately, as with many scenarios, "no" is not always accepted as a final answer. There may be people who, for reasons of their own, will pressure you to take that first drink. Not everyone wants to disclose alcoholism, so what can you say to make people leave you alone?

Denial and Blackouts: A Vicious Cycle

Blackouts are drug-related amnesia. Binge drinking can lead to memory loss and make it difficult to form new memories. Someone in a blackout might turn into an incoherent version of Dory from Finding Nemo who won’t stop repeating the same phrase, but a lot of the time it is difficult to tell if someone is blacked out.

How I Learned to Love Meditation

It isn’t easy to deal with stresses again without my old crutch of booze. It can really suck. The world around me is loud, crowded, and smelly. Combine that with the obsessive thoughts that regularly run laps around my brain—it’s a recipe for a meltdown. To my surprise, sprinkling in some meditations completely changed the mix.

Donald Trump is Just Like My Abuser

That’s when it clicked: I can’t watch Trump because he is a manipulator, and his manner of speaking is that of an emotional abuser. That’s why I was finding myself fighting panic and flashbacks when I first tried watching him debate. I was flashing back to my own experience as a victim of abuse.

Student debt made the domestic violence against me worse

The first time my ex-boyfriend got violent, we were both graduate students living in Britain and had been together for less than a year. He violently shoved me and then acted like he didn’t mean it and that it couldn’t have hurt. Moments later he did it again. Nearly yanking my arm out of the socket, he threw me down the hallway.

Will Big Pharma Support a Non-Addictive Opioid?

With painkillers like OxyContin, the overdose reversal drug naloxone, and detox/maintenance medications like Suboxone, the pharmaceutical industry is making a profit off people addicted to opioid at every stage. Opioids are highly addictive and sometimes, especially in combination with other drugs, deadly.

Defending Trigger Warnings: Trauma Survivor’s Perspective

If you think the use of trigger warnings on college campuses coddles students and stunts intellectual growth, you don’t understand trigger warnings. A trigger warning is not censorship and it is not topic avoidance. Trigger warnings, or content notes, are a simple way to respect other people’s boundaries without intruding on their privacy.

5 Happiness Tips When You Have PTSD

Living with post traumatic stress disorder and her bluesy sister, depression, has drastically changed how I handle everyday life. Anxiety and lethargy applied for permanent residence in my body, and I thought I had to fight to have their applications thrown out. Turns out I didn’t have to fight, I had to give up and stop trying to control everything.

10 Scientifically Proven Ways To Become A Happier Person

It’s the holiday season and the new year is upon us. The holidays are not always an easy time of year—many of us are missing loved ones, while others are struggling with mental illness that stand in the way of feeling happy.

How To Practice Self-Compassion in 6 Steps

Self-compassion protects us from ourselves. Another 2017 study published in School Psychology Quarterly found that self-compassion protects adolescents from inflicting self-harm because "those high on self-compassion may be more likely to use adaptive strategies" for dealing with pain and suffering.

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health While Traveling

No matter how long you're traveling for, or how you're getting there, or how far you're going, you should be taking precautionary measures to protect your health. This is especially critical if you are coping with issues of addiction and mental illness.

How to Stay Sober on Vacation

Photo courtesy of Giuseppe Milo at http://www.pixael.com/en/shop Summer is here and the warmth radiating into the office window conjures up dreams of poolside lounge chairs and remote sun-kissed beaches. While you mentally plan your dream getaway and add pins to your vacation planning Pinterest board, guilty and anxious thoughts about drinking can trickle in. You…

How I Learned to Love Meditation

It isn’t easy to deal with stresses again without my old crutch of booze. It can really suck. The world around me is loud, crowded, and smelly. Combine that with the obsessive thoughts that regularly run laps around my brain—it’s a recipe for a meltdown. To my surprise, sprinkling in some meditations completely changed the mix.

5 Happiness Tips When You Have PTSD

Living with post traumatic stress disorder and her bluesy sister, depression, has drastically changed how I handle everyday life. Anxiety and lethargy applied for permanent residence in my body, and I thought I had to fight to have their applications thrown out. Turns out I didn’t have to fight, I had to give up and stop trying to control everything.

10 Scientifically Proven Ways To Become A Happier Person

It’s the holiday season and the new year is upon us. The holidays are not always an easy time of year—many of us are missing loved ones, while others are struggling with mental illness that stand in the way of feeling happy.

8 Bizarre Facts About Animal Reproduction

There's no rule that regulates how animals obtain the necessary genetic material to reproduce—and as a result, there is a lot of weird animal sex going on out there.

7 Parenting Superstitions From Around the World

Raising children is confusing and stressful, which is why new parents rely on traditional wisdom and the experiences of others to help guide their decisions. But what one person considers traditional knowledge, another may interpret as bizarre or irrational. In psychology, this phenomenon is called magical thinking. Or, more commonly—superstitions. When it comes to children,…

5 Badass Facts About Women History Books Leave Out

The thing that's easy to forget about history is that so much of it is bullshit. It's the result of modern people trying to piece together the past from fragments, all of it skewed by their own point of view. And that screwed-up understanding of the past changes how we think about the present. For instance, we assume ancient women probably didn't fight wars or make art because we didn't allow women to do so until embarrassingly recently.

10 Successful Books Authors Wish They Hadn’t Written

Who wouldn’t want the fruit of his or her artistic labors to reach and influence the lives of millions? The right book can alter the way its readers think. It can inspire them into action. Sometimes, though, that influence reaches farther and in different directions than the author anticipated. Sometimes, authors grow to hate these publications that make them famous.

10 Surprising Ways The Modern World Is Making Us Sick

Everything in moderation, as the old adage goes. As it turns out, that couldn’t be more accurate, as research continues to shed light on how the modern world is damaging our health. We might be living longer today than our ancestors did, but the current era isn’t as health-friendly as we might think.

10 Stories Of Terrifying Pack Behavior

Animals can be scary, especially when they hang out in groups. Even the most docile creatures can create terrifying scenes under the right (or wrong) circumstances. Keep an eye out for these creatures the next time you go for a walk, and whatever you do, do not make a crow angry. This list is all…

10 Amazing Stories Of Love

Movies constantly bombard us with unrealistic expectations of love. Real life, meanwhile, tells us that most relationships are poor, nasty, brutish, and short. But there’s no need to feel depressed about romance.

10 Spine-Chilling Ghostly Tales From Vermont

The wind is howling outside, the lights flicker, and the floorboards creak in the next room. If you’ve ever stayed in an old house in Vermont, you know this feeling all too well. And even when the weather is calm, when you’re all alone, be prepared for the unexplained patter of unseen feet in the…

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pirates

Pirates are insanely popular today. Everything from infant onesies to restaurant walls bear the Jolly Roger and images of pirates on the high seas. Pirate “facts” cover the Internet, but many of these are unsubstantiated and come from tall tales and modern movies. The actual “Golden Age” of piracy may have been a lot different…

10 Strange Things Everyone Should Know About Vermont

If a Vermonter abroad is asked what state they’re from, about half of the time the people asking won’t even have heard of Vermont, while the other half will think that it’s in Canada. In the interests of avoiding such an awkward situation, here are 10 facts about Vermont that you probably never knew. 10.…

10 Elderly People Who Are Anything But Feeble

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “I would love to be able to do what they do?” We’ve all done it at one time or another, but how often do we take steps to achieve that goal? This list looks at 10 people who live by the philosophy that age is nothing but…

10 Horrifying Archaeological Discoveries Of Human Sacrifice

Human sacrifices are a terrifying facet of our shared history. While most archaeologists would agree that human sacrificial practices were probably not as widespread as reported, they did (and do) still occur.

10 Horrifying Examples Of Modern-Day Child Slavery

Childhood is defined by culturally set boundaries which have changed throughout human history. There are millions of children trafficked around the world and forced into lives of depravity and despair.

10 Things You Should Know About Scotland

The Scotland of the imagination is a land of rolling green hills, kilt-wearing bagpipers, and crumbling castles. While you can find all of this in Scotland, there is a great deal more to this fiercely patriotic country. With a land area equal to the state of Maine in the US, this small country is chock-full…

10 Terrifyingly Huge Extinct Versions Of Adorable Animals

We’ve covered the topic of gigantic animals before, looking at ancient and terrifying huge versions of snakes and scary carnivorous reptiles. Now we’re going to take a look at ordinary animals that don’t usually make people feel afraid. From adorable penguins to sleepy sloths, there used to be giant versions of all these animals. No…

Nelson Mandela Confronts White Privilege

Nelson Mandela’s final speech to the African National Congress was in 1997, and he used the opportunity to confront white privilege. His speech made the white privileged masses shudder and react defensively with movements such as Red October.

10 Amazing Child Heroes

Everyone knows and celebrates mythic heroes and famous leaders. But then there are those everyday heroes who just make a difference when the need suddenly arises. This list is about celebrating the youngest of our everyday heroes—kids whose courage and quick thinking prevented tragedy and saved lives.

Honoring Nelson Mandela’s Humanity

No one goes through life without controversy. From the store manager who takes the heat for her employees’ mistakes to the Hollywood star who faces tabloid gossip for their fame, everyone deals with controversy. A certain degree of misunderstandings and rumors are the hallmark of a life well lived. Nelson Mandela was no stranger to…

10 Fascinating Facts About Argentina

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is the fourth biggest city on earth, but the rest of the world has surprisingly little knowledge of this vast and populated land. There is definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to Argentina. This list introduces you to Argentina by presenting 10 facts most outsiders don’t know.

Street Art in Buenos Aires Argentina

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…

Was Nelson Mandela’s Revolution Nonviolent?

Recently the conservative evangelist radio and TV program, Wretched, interviewed a South African man named Dr Peter Hammond about Nelson Mandela’s revolution. Wretched is meant to be a different brand of Christian news, combining sarcasm and investigative reporting to bring a clear yet humorous clarity (through a religious lens) to news. It draws a certain…