Multiple Victimizations: Gender Bias, Missing Persons and Fake News

Yellow ribbons for missing persons

Yellow ribbons for missing persons

Back in the day, I thought seriously about a career in journalism, as the passion was stirred at a very early age. However, I now see that I have the best of both worlds in 2017, with other careers and still investing heavily in the written word. I am a better person for having chosen different paths, for when we examine the current journalistic landscape, at times, it is appalling!

I look for the always credible, the sure-footed people in this crazy world of news who can navigate the minefields and come out unscathed, and always ring true. The real question is where do we draw the line? Or, has the line moved so far afield it feels nonexistent? Exactly!

Do we spend our limited energy daily on separating hype from rumor from fact?  No, we often run it through our personal common sense filter and then do further research if it is of real interest. The rest is often just nonsense. However, we do live in an age where the unbelievable with respect to apparent disintegrating moral values makes virtually anything possible.

All that aside, we have to maintain a personal sense of right and wrong, even if it may have shifted a bit in terms of societal standards. Some look for others to blame; the desperate Democrats, the raucous Republicans, the intolerable President, the manipulative media.

I am of the belief it really doesn’t matter where the blame lies as they all feed into each other like sharks looking for their next meal.  Enter fake news. When did the biggies of journalism, politicians, the uninformed and sad individuals seeking attention become so desperate for the status quo that they felt it necessary to make up news in one-upmanship?

What is vital is the aftermath, the collateral damage done to persons who do not have a dog in the fight and are dragged in any way. Victims of violent crime whether it be a homicide, missing persons, rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, etc. are already compromised in terms of coping with their day-to-day existence due to grief, loss, intolerable pain and lack of will to withstand the fight.

The general public sees our society becoming ever violent and does not want to join the victimization club, ever! Those of us who have graduated from victimization and are squarely in the survivor camp can help others to maintain hope, and assist in educating and creating awareness for others.

Another strike against victims are the flagrant biases that the media and some law enforcement and judicial agencies perpetuate.  Children are rightfully seen as the most vulnerable and all important when it comes to crime. However, the unspoken message is that Caucasians still get first class treatment compared to any minority in any context.  Within such classifications, the public often makes value judgments concerning people, and particular lifestyles.

Assumptions are so ingrained that it’s difficult to garner attention to the fact that, for example, young men are not all irresponsible, macho, beer guzzling creatures who walk off into the night, abandoning all responsibilities and family ties. And yet, this is told to us by the police, by people who don’t really know.

As sure as our parents told us that only girls are supposed to play with dolls, this is true. This is the barometer that some people use. Boys to men fend for themselves, always.  They don’t go missing, get kidnapped or are forced to do things against their will because they are males. This is simply an untrue and unfair portrayal at a time when families need all of the credible resources they can gather just to keep their loved one in the forefront of media, competing with all the rest.

When this fallacy about how young males don’t go missing continues, to have fake news intruded upon them is unconscionable. Such was the case with the family of Damien Sharp recently.

A fake news organization article was recently posted on Facebook concerning his case with no direct contact information to law enforcement nor accurate information regarding its content. Imagine the horror when Damien’s family discovered this very hurtful, potentially damaging innuendo. Not only is this family approaching their 15th anniversary of Damien’s disappearance  (May 25, 2002) and potential homicide while operating within the reality of gender bias, they have to deal with a fake news posting as well. This truly is cruel and unusual punishment for a family who needs resolution and peace of mind.

The number of missing persons at any one time in the U.S. (2017) according to Silvia Pettem researcher and author, is 100,000.

We don’t need to venture far to illustrate this point further, for an estimate of the number of missing persons cases posted on the CUE Center for Missing Persons website. The number of young males below 30 or young male children initially posted having reached young adulthood over the years is significant.

We have to do everything in our power to give families with male members equal time in the realm of crime reporting and media attention. We have to resist gender bias and believe the information given by families and not rely on well-worn stereotypes that serve no purpose.  Toward that end, as a crime victim Advocate, I can try to do my part by featuring Damien’s case as one of gender bias in the media on my radio show.

Toward that end, as a crime victim advocate, I can try to do my part by featuring Damien’s case as one of gender bias in the media on my radio show. Stay tuned for this important podcast for Shattered Lives Radio in June!

 And …Stay away from fake news- Trust your head and your heart. LJ


DonnaGore-2

 

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Single Professionals without Children; Why Are We Ignored? It’s a Crime!

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Please forgive me if I don’t “wax nostalgic” over New Year’s Eve. This holiday, as several others, leaves unattached singles at loose ends particularly at the stroke of midnight. What are we supposed to do?

New Year’s Eve is all glitter and flash which can be fun…. But, it is also most often associated with expending gobs of money and excessive use of alcoholic beverages. I like my wine occasionally, but have never ever been a “bar fly.” It’s okay in small doses, but I’d rather be somewhere else.

However, this is just one example in which single professionals “going it alone” are at a distinct advantage in our society.

We have made great strides in acknowledging single parenthood and even coupled parenthood without the benefit of marriage.  There are single adults by choice, and/or never having found the right person such as myself; There are those who are single by divorce or widow(er) status and don’t want to “try again.”  There are many in the LGBTQ community who may chose to habitually shop around versus commit to anyone.  There are disenfranchised people whose lifestyle choices and habits may always make them a single outcast. (You know who I mean…)  It’s the professional singles who are often “left out in the cold” whose interests are never considered.  Thank God we have evolved to the point of singledom not being “just a temporary holding pattern” until the white knight appears. Maybe we don’t need the white (or minority) knight! Maybe the white knight would be too high maintenance for some of us.

Consider the Facebook post I wrote on New Year’s Eve 2016-17 to reach out to others in the same boat as I.

SINGLES PROFESSIONALS UNITE! God needs to invent a holiday for single people. Truth be told, I’ve never cared for this holiday. We are forgotten by Hallmark, by families, by our legislators, by society as a whole. Occasionally, we are mentioned if we have “disposable income”, but that’s basically the extent of it.
It’s too bad, because we are a valuable resource, have a lot to offer the world and are just as important as the married people and parents. But, who ever realizes us as a group? So, to all the people in my group, you are important and don’t need to be defined by someone on your arm tonight! Upward and onward in 2017. Be who you are…even if you are single and like it that way!

In most cases, we are not considered in the family dynamic for what we can offer surrounded by the married ones; We are conveniently left out of coupled invitations, “the third wheel”. We are never considered by our elected legislators as needing fairer laws and public policies to help us meet financial burdens and future retirement.  We seldom have appropriate greeting cards for our busy lifestyles.

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With 51 percent of the America unmarried as of 2012, sociologist Eric Klinenberg wrote in his “Going Solo” book, that more than a quarter of us are living in a one person household and (irrespective of romance)  we’re not “getting a lot of love” regarding fair treatment.

For example, New York psychology professor, Dr. Bella DePaulo points out that we can start right from the top in government –

The U.S. government not only turns a blind eye to the problem of “singleism,” but helps enforce it, activists say. Just look at Social Security. “A childless singleton can work side by side with a childless married person, doing the same job, for the same number of years, at the same level of accomplishment—and when the married person dies, that worker can leave his or her Social Security benefits to a spouse,” says DePaulo. “The single person’s benefits go back into the system.”

UNRECOGNIZED AND UNCHALLENGED

Why does anyone have to be part of any kind of couple to get the same federal benefits and protections as anyone else?”

They don’t get the same kind of tax breaks. Co-op boards, mortgage brokers, and landlords often pass them over. So do the employers with the power to promote them. “Singleism—stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single—is largely unrecognized and unchallenged.” Other arenas include insurance and health care –

businesswoman-147101_960_720People don’t notice singleism, and if their attention is called to it, they think there’s nothing wrong. That’s why, for instance, car and health insurance companies get away with charging less for couples and families. “They can attract more business [that way],” DePaulo notes. In the process, they leave single people to essentially subsidize the benefit by paying more. “When married workers can add spouses to a health-care plan at a discount and single workers can’t add someone important to them, that’s discrimination,” says DePaulo.

According to Seattle Law Professor Lily Kahng- Author of “One Is the Loneliest Number: The Single Taxpayer in a Joint Return World”, Hastings Law Journal,“Unmarried people also lose out when it comes to taxes.” Further – That married workers are able to transfer wealth and property to spouses—and others—tax-free, while the unmarried cannot; Ms. Kahng concludes that the joint return penalizes single people and should be abolished.

Married people had a supermajority of political power at the time the [current tax] rules were enacted, according to Ms. Kahng.

When we look at disposable income and quality time… by and large, single contribute more, says sociologist Eric Klinenberg –

On average, singles have more disposable income. They’re fueling urban economies that would be in much worse shape without them. compared to married people, they’re more likely to spend time with neighbors, to participate in public events, and to volunteer.

If you live in Europe – Marriage Historian Stephanie Coontz relates – “The penalties for being single in this country are worse than in Europe, where individuals have guaranteed access to health care, and they have options beyond a spouse’s death benefits for staying above the poverty line as they age.

And then there’s Outside the Office – Did you know?

Biased thinking persists, “For the single homeowner or property renter, discrimination is rampant, because the Federal Fair Housing Act does not prohibit marital-status discrimination,” Langburt notes. “Not only do landlords discriminate again singles; real-estate and mortgage brokers discriminate as well.”

According to these experts, the problem is scattered and isolated for formal tracking.  In fact, single women are the number one home buyers in the country, but there’s still a silent stigma that these women don’t have money to qualify or that they will be a flight risk.”

Being single – Not exactly a piece of cake… But I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way!

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References and Literary Recommendations –

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/06/singled-out-are-america-s-unmarried-discriminated-against.html

Book – Singled Out- https://www.amazon.com/Singled-Out-Singles-Stereotyped-Stigmatized/dp/0312340826/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483305894&sr=1-1&keywords=single+out+depaulo

Book – Going Solo https://www.amazon.com/Going-Solo-Extraordinary-Surprising-Appeal/dp/0143122770

Donna R. Gore

 

To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity. Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.co

No Time for the Pain, Drama, or False Hopes Inflicted on Families of Homicide and the Missing

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We all go about our daily business doing what we need to do – including firing up our passions and inspiring our collective villages. However, within that scenario, there are a number of pitfalls on social media about which we need to be wary.

Case in point – I received a Facebook message from a mysterious woman in a faraway land near Russia. This woman commented on my blog written about a high profile missing person who established a legacy for the CUE Center for Missing Persons.

Mystery woman made a comment stating that she had seen the missing person last year in Russia.  The missing person in question disappeared 16  1/2 years ago.

It is not out of the realm of possibility, for evidence, altered identity, remains and the like have been discovered. But, what transpired next seemed suspicious to me.  How do you sort out the crazies from the scammers from the truly informed who want to help?  You approach with caution, sending a private message. Your message should clearly state that if the “informant” has verifiable proof of the person’s whereabouts, contact X resource – whether it is the non-profit tip line or the police with contact info provided. If they do not follow up…that’s a giveaway!

In this instance, such a directive was given. The person replied that she “did not have international calling capability.” Well…. Anyone worth their salt knows that if they contacted me via the internet, there are options such as Skype or other software providing telephone calls via the internet.  The final comment to me was, “Do you have any idea what happened to her?” That’s when I knew she was a fake, fake, fake looking to perpetrate her drama on me or use me for her own mischievous purpose. She obviously never bothered to read the contents of my well researched detailed blog as to what may have happened!

Why make such claims in the first place? I am not inclined to friend a total stranger in a foreign land. I have no reason to do so. I do not want to be part of her “agenda.”

Creating drama and false hope for the families of homicide and missing persons does a terrible disservice to people who are already overburdened with grief, worry and the vacuousness in their hearts. It is unconscionable!

A few words to the less than wise – NEVER make claims about others that are untruthful, that you cannot back up. Doing so inflicts more pain, false hope and makes you part of the problem rather than the solution.

Foreign lady – You are BLOCKED!

Stay vigilant! If it doesn’t make sense, abandon all contact. Refer to your most trusted social media references and keep up on the latest scams and tools to monitor.

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Putting on the Band-Aid for Life  

 

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A colleague mentioned how trying it is to have to put a band-aid on “an ouchy” of a toddler where there was never a mark in the first place. When I thought about it, it seemed like this little gesture of compassion for the sake of a child could be a metaphor for life.

There are many types of people in the world. There are the drama queens – histrionic people with an over-exaggerated sense of everything in hopes of getting and keeping attention. There are the risk takers who truly live by the adrenaline pump with their behaviors – extreme sports, daredevil acts in hopes of achieving that ever higher goal “just because it’s there” as they clearly find everything else in life totally mundane. There are also those of us who by normal standards have been through hell and back and still function well because of an extraordinary amount of resilience.

Crime victims either excel at resilience with some practice or they bask in their victimhood and are never able to graduate to a new normal. I have written much on this topic in the past and at times, marvel at my ability to personally tolerate stuff that others could never approach. There is a danger in developing this sense of taking in the pain of others all the time. You can do so selectively and intensely feel that which you relate to best, or at the other extreme, become intolerant of the little annoyances of life that non-crime victims experience.

Do I really care that your computer crashed, that you can’t find your car keys, that your dog ate your new slippers? Not really. It is a sense of perspective and using your personal life experience as a yardstick. This can be dangerous, as a person who has experienced much trauma in life can be perceived as uncaring toward others. I have survived and succeeded because I try to concentrate on the big stuff. (and also have a sense of detail and organization to maintain control.) When the little stuff happens to me though, I am my own worst enemy with absolutely no patience.

I fear that there is a massive dumbing down taking place in our American culture in many aspects –an oversimplification of intellectual issues to find life more palatable.

As I write this, we have sustained yet another massive assault on human life in the Orlando tragedy that has many layers of the onion still to be analyzed.  It would be unfair of any of us to oversimplify. However, we all do it daily so that we might carry on.

The key to life is balance and respecting others.  I have to secretly remind myself sometimes that the fact that someone’s dog that ate the slippers is traumatic to them, if not to me. We have to give everyone his or her band-aid after all. Some of us wear big band-aids for life while others wear them temporarily.  However, as crime invades more and more of our lives, in a sad way, we are coming together with more in common every day.

I hope that if we are perpetually headed for the dark side, we can also relish the good and come together in solidarity.   All of us need to pay attention to the big and little traumas, while putting them in perspective for a healthier existence. And… just maybe the toddler with a non-existent trauma is smart…as he/she is getting prepared for life.