[Recommendations] Why You Should Use the Genesis Framework (and What You Should Know Before You Buy It)

Why You Should Use the Genesis Framework

(And What You Should Know Before You Buy It)

Note: This post contains some affiliate links. If you click on one & buy something, I will receive a small commission, which allows me to continue creating content & free resources that help others & does not cost you anything! (But it just might give you a warm, fuzzy feeling in your tummy.) Also, be sure to read all the way through for a really useful freebie if you wanna try before you buy! 😉

Intro to Genesis

Genesis isn’t just a progressive, art-rock band from England that formed in 1967 and kept us pop-rockin’ through the ‘90s and beyond. It’s also a super-rad framework for WordPress that seems to have an invisible touch which reaches in and grabs right hold of your site. (See what I did there? I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. If there’s a song lyric to be referenced, I’ll find it, but I’ll try to tone down the sharpness of the cheese from here.)

What is a WordPress framework?

Typically, WordPress themes aren’t built entirely from scratch. Many theme authors choose to use frameworks as a base where functionality is housed. Reasons include that they provide clean, reliable, superior code to build on and seriously reduce development time.

Developers can create “child themes” which add custom styling to the website while leaving its functionality to the framework. This gives all of its functions a centralized place to live – separate from the content and style – allowing it to be updated without affecting the child theme. In other words, this keeps the foundation strong without changing its design.

Some other popular WordPress frameworks include Divi, Cherry Framework, and Headway. However, this post is about the Genesis Framework by StudioPress because it’s my personal favorite, the one I built my first premium theme on (Evolution Proon sale now!), and the only framework I’ll use to build a WordPress website anymore.

Key Features of the Genesis Framework:

Responsive Turnkey Designs

(Not to be confused with turkey designs…)

When referring to websites, responsive means that it displays and functions properly in all web browsers, across all devices, on any screen size. And “turnkey” means it comes completely equipped with everything necessary for it to function – straight “out of the box.” Genesis’ turnkey designs give you a wide variety of beautiful canvases to display your content. All you have to do is turn the key and go! 

Your site design can be instantly updated using a child theme (more below), while leaving Genesis’ core functionality and all of its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits untouched. That gives you the ability to radically change the way your site looks every week if you wanted to, and your search engine rankings will remain consistent because your design functions are completely separate from the core code.

SEO

If you want to make sure your website ranks highly on search engines so your target audience can find you, clean, lightweight, and optimized code with super-smart design architecture is crucial! In addition to all that, Genesis now supports Schema.org code, which, essentially, enhances your site’s SEO even more! And with automatic updates to the Genesis Framework, you never have to worry about it again. Your code will always be fully optimized and up-to-date.

State-Of-The-Art Security

It’s true that WordPress sites can be vulnerable to hacking by those who want to take them down or exploit them for malicious purposes. A hacked site can be expensive and time-consuming to fix – not to mention, it can ruin your reputation! The Genesis Framework has been fully evaluated by security expert and core WordPress developer Mark Jaquith to ensure that it has the highest level of security possible. 

Simple Site Customization that Doesn’t Sacrifice Speed

Genesis offers features that simplify site set-up. And if you change your mind later, you’re just a few clicks away from creating new functions and sections that don’t sacrifice speed and performance for options. Web page load times are usually discussed in seconds, but for sites built on Genesis, they can often be measured in milliseconds, giving you a vital edge over your competitors!

Theme Options

Want to change the layout of your website? Apply a new color scheme, perhaps? No problem! You can select these options and more from a dropdown box, adjust them easily, and your site is updated instantly. (More info in the “Pros” section below.)

What You Should Know Before You Buy

While I highly recommend building, basically, any WordPress website with the Genesis Framework and one of its countless child themes (like the one I just built! – more info below), I want you to be fully informed before making any purchases, so here are some pros and cons (and potential solutions).

Pros

Unlimited Everything

If you purchase the Genesis Framework directly from StudioPress, you get unlimited support (or get it for free with no support if you’d like to try it before you buy it)! And, whether you buy a support license or download it for free from me, you will get unlimited updates and websites! Forever.

Update Your Site Instantly

As previously mentioned, a lot of sites are hacked, but some just may not be utilizing WordPress to its fullest, simply because they have not been updated. Oftentimes, site owners don’t run updates because it can seem pretty complicated and feel overwhelming. Further, many WordPress users have spent hours (sometimes even days) trying to repair a problem created by an update.

But updating to the current version of WordPress and Genesis is super simple! Everything is integrated and updates are tested thoroughly, so you don’t have to be a guinea pig or call your developer. Just a clickety-click and you’re done!

Layout Options

The Genesis Framework provides the foundation for six different layout options:

  • Full Width Content (no sidebars)
  • Sidebar (left) / Content (right)
  • Content (left) / Sidebar (right)
  • Sidebar (1) / Sidebar (2) / Content
  • Content / Sidebar (1) / Sidebar (2)
  • Sidebar / Content / Sidebar 

Widget Ready

WordPress widgets are the fast, easy way to add powerful functionality to your site – without having to know how to code! They can be used to add sidebars, opt-in forms for email list building, social media sharing buttons, and more. Genesis even comes with some cool, custom widgets!

Cons

Genesis Requires a Child Theme 

Like I said before, the Genesis Framework is solely a foundation for your website, so you absolutely must use a child theme. Besides, child themes keep your customizations safe. You can edit those files directly because they will never change unless you change them.

Child Themes

(The following descriptions come from the theme authors.)

As previously mentioned, I recently created my very own Genesis Child Theme for the first time ever and I’m pretty freakin’ excited! Evolution Pro is a sleek, minimalist theme built to showcase your work & evolve with you. It offers five different “starter packs” to fit your needs – whether you’re a writer or blogger, visual artist, influencer (personal brand), small business, or creative agency! (Full support for the theme provided by me!)

In addition to my theme, there are a number of developers who only build using Genesis, but I would recommend going with one of StudioPress’s Child Themes since they’re the geniuses behind the framework! I believe they have over 60 themes at present, but I’ll briefly go over a handful for you.

Most of their themes are ready for advertising. All you need to do is insert your code – like Google AdSense, Clicksor, etc. – into a text widget to start collecting your ad revenue!

Furthermore, their documentation is thorough and they have tutorials that will teach you all you need to know. And setting up your site has literally never been easier!

Child themes come equipped with demo content, plugins, perfectly-designed Gutenberg blocks, and the same easy “one-click-set-up” as Evolution Pro to automatically set your site up in a matter of minutes!

(Each of the following theme packages includes the Genesis Framework so you don’t have to buy it separately or download it for free.)

Niche Pro

“Niche is a Genesis-powered WordPress Theme for bloggers that wanna go pro. Niche Pro allows you to build a lifestyle blog that will showcase beautiful content and is optimized to draw your audience in.” (Click the link above to learn more.)

Author Pro

“Author Pro helps published authors like you build a better online library of books with its intuitive design and powerful functionality. Further your following by showcasing your published work with the user-friendly features of Author Pro. Your readers will thank you for it.” (Click the link above to learn more.)

Mai Lifestyle Pro

“The Perfect Theme for Wellness, Food/Recipe, Fitness and Lifestyle Sites. Choose from flexible image-rich layouts, including full-width sections and archive options that will make your content shine.” (Click the link above to learn more.)

Monochrome Pro

“Want a website that’s substantial but simple? Come see the sleek difference that white space and typography make in a minimal design with Monochrome Pro. If having a visually strong digital presence and an easy-to-use site are equally important to you, then Monochrome Pro is the Genesis-powered theme you’ve been waiting for.” (Click the link above to learn more.)

Modern Studio Pro

“Modern Studio draws eyes exactly where we want them — then doesn’t distract them. For designers, highlighting imagery is the most important function a website can perform. Modern Studio does this by cutting back on the clutter and color so that it’s your shutter and colors doing all the work.” (Click the link above to learn more.)

Difficulty Customizing

You may have a little trouble customizing a Genesis child theme to your exact specifications if you don’t know at least CSS, and maybe even a little PHP, depending on which one you choose.

Solutions

(The following descriptions come from the plugin authors.)

Genesis Extender

“Extender Pro is all about site-specific customization. And what I mean by that is that it allows you to create completely theme-agnostic custom styles, functions, scripts, templates, Widget Areas and all kinds of content, code, and control. It effectively EXTENDS the active WP Framework by providing a completely compartmentalized development environment. There’s little you can’t do with the Extender Pro Plugin. It’s definitely one of my go-to WP DEV tools!” (Click the link above to learn more.)

Genesis DevKit

“Genesis DevKit is my point-n-click masterpiece! After almost a decade of experience developing WordPress point-n-click, “no-coding required” design tools, I have created an all-new Plugin that puts the best of my findings into practice. From the ability to create new Genesis Child Themes from scratch to providing hundreds of highly intuitive no-coding design options, to offering a full-featured custom-coding experience, Genesis DevKit lives up to its name!” (Click the link above to learn more.)

Dynamik Theme/Website Builder

” Dynamik Website Builder is technically a Genesis Child Theme, but it’s so much more! It’s packed with no-coding design options that essentially turn your WordPress Dashboard into a Genesis web design platform, as well as custom coding and template options that provide the up-and-coming developer with that little something extra to get the job done. From the DIY dev to the professional WordPress freelancer, Dynamik is a powerful all-in-one solution!” (Click the link above to learn more.)

Design Palette Pro

“You purchased the Genesis Framework because you heard it was awesome, then saw so for yourself. But then you discovered that to change your “look” you’d need to write or edit some code. Scary stuff if coding’s not your thing, which it probably isn’t (which is okay). Because guess what?”… Now you can edit until your heart’s content without ever having to touch the code! (Click the link above to learn more.)

Conclusion

Though there are a few cons to going with the Genesis Framework and a child theme, there are solutions to those problems, and in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh any potential downsides! And it just got even better because now you can download Genesis + a sample child theme to play with + The Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners entirely for free! You just have to subscribe below to get instant access!

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[Review] SiteGround Web Hosting

Web Hosting Review & Recommendation

I have never done a post like this before. This is the first time I’ve ever reviewed or recommended anything on my blog, so you know I believe in this service. In fact, I believe in it so much that after 3 blissful years of hosting d6Collab & numerous client sites on SiteGround, I decided to become an affiliate!

Full disclosure: If you purchase web hosting through any of my links, I’ll get a little commission, but I wouldn’t have become an affiliate if I wasn’t such a happy customer, so let’s jump in to see why you should consider using SiteGround for your hosting needs, too!

Before we get into the benefits, I should mention that you can get from 60%-77% off depending on where you live & which hosting package you choose from now until September 9, 2019 (9/9/19)! The higher the package, the more you save!

Web Hosting

Aside from the deep discount, why SiteGround?

First, I’d like to speak to their customer service from experience. They legitimately are second to none, and I’ve worked with a whole host of web hosts in my 17+ years in web development. They really are THAT good!

In three years, I’ve never had a problem they couldn’t resolve speedily, and they are always very friendly. Even when I’m in a panic because something significant has gone wrong, which has happened 3 times in as many years.

But don’t just take my word for it…

Why else should you choose SiteGround?

Ready to take the next step?

Web Hosting

Don’t forget to take advantage of their Fall sale from today through 9/9/2019 to get up to 77% off your web hosting package!

And please feel free to give me a holler if you have any questions or leave a comment below about your web hosting experiences – the good, the bad, & the ugly!

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A Letter to My Past Self

The past 40 years have taught me some hard-fought lessons

Dear Danni (my 20th-century self),

It’s been a wild ride so far, hasn’t it? It gets wilder, but don’t be daunted. Here’s what I want you to know. If you remember these things, life won’t be any easier, but maybe it won’t seem quite so difficult anymore.
 

You Are Worthy

'Your value doesn't decrease based on someone else's inability to see your worth.' --Anonymous Click To Tweet

You have never deserved the abuse you were born into, and you did nothing to perpetuate it. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. It’s not your fault when people don’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. They control their behavior, and nothing you can do will change that. All you can do is control your own actions and reactions as much as possible. You cannot control another person’s behavior with your actions, and it’s not your responsibility.
 

Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

You are literally doing the best you can with what you have, which has never been much. You’re not perfect because you’re an actual human person, made of flesh, blood, bone, strengths, and weaknesses. You are constantly learning and adapting, which will serve you well throughout your life. Give yourself a break every now and then. You deserve it.
 

Stop Making Excuses for People Who Hurt You

The only thing an excuse is good for is making yourself feel better for a short time, but if you keep making them, nothing ever changes. Don’t lie to yourself about why people hurt you. Those who hurt you, especially consistently, are not worthy of the time and energy you put into explaining away their inexcusable behavior. No one has the right to mistreat you, and I won’t say “for any reason” because there’s never a reason. People who are not toxic do not abuse others, no matter what kind of day, week, month, year, or life they might be having. Eliminate negative, toxic people from your life as soon as you’re aware of them, and seek out healthier alternatives.
 

You Are Not Who They Say You Are

I know it’s tempting to listen to other people’s opinions of you, especially when they’re your parents or other people you’ve been taught to look up to, but don’t believe what they say about you. They don’t understand you, and they never will. They feel threatened by you, and they want to control you, so they have to gaslight you into believing their lies. Never listen to anyone who claims to know you better than you know yourself, even if it’s your own parent or another authority figure. No one knows your own mind better than you do.
 

You Are Whomever You Decide to Become

You have control over whom you become. Where you came from and what you’ve experienced does not define you, but what you learn from it and how you use those lessons to evolve into the person you’ve always wanted to become does. You are a complex composition of everything that has ever happened to you — good and bad. You can be whomever you decide to be. And you decide every day with each individual choice you make, so try not to let yourself down.
 

You Are the Only One You Can Count On

Sadly, you are the only person you can rely on, but I think you’ve always known that deep down. No one else is looking out for you, so if you want what’s best for yourself, you’d better figure out what that is and make it happen. Don’t worry, though. Someday you’ll meet someone else who has only your best interests at heart, doesn’t want to hurt you, and actually, wants to help you lighten your load. It hasn’t happened yet, but I know one day it will.
 

Trust Yourself

I know it’s incredibly difficult to trust yourself when you’ve literally been brainwashed not to since you were born, but you’ll save yourself so much trouble if you just follow your instincts. Don’t believe that anyone else knows what’s best for you, and never take advice from someone who won’t be affected by the consequences of it.
 

Be Brave

You can’t go through life too afraid to live it. Nothing ever changes until you leave your comfort zone, so learn to embrace the discomfort. It’s terrifying to try to change your life, particularly when you’ve been told you can’t, but they were wrong. You are the only one who can, in fact. Never doubt that for a second. Use your fear as a tool of transformation.
 

Be Weird

Don’t conform to what others want you to be or think you should be. The world is full of people just “earthworm-ing” their ways through life, not paying attention to anything other than what’s right in front of them. Don’t be like them. Your unique perspective gives you an edge. Don’t be afraid of it. Learn to love it, cultivate it, sharpen it, and use it to cut off anyone who wants to dilute your spirit. Go find your tribe of fellow weirdos, and bless the world with your rare vision.
 

Be Present

This one is tough. As much as possible, try not to live in the past or for the future. The past is merely a place to visit and learn lessons from, but you can’t live there. And you can’t even visit the future. All you can do is try to prepare for it as much as possible, and plan for as many contingencies as you can think of. Learn from the past to improve the present and build a future you can be proud of. Live in the present with the people you love while you can because tomorrow is a luxury not everyone has.
 

Believe in Yourself

You don’t need anyone else to believe in you, which is good because there’s been a decided lack of that in your life so far, hasn’t there? It’s not because there’s anything wrong with you. There is something wrong with the people you’ve been surrounded by thus far. They are abusive, manipulative, and cruel. They don’t want to see anyone else succeed, so they try to sabotage others whenever possible. However, not everyone is like that. You’re not like that, and you’re not alone. If you’ll allow yourself to admit it, you know you have the ability to do pretty much whatever you put your mind to, but other people don’t want you to believe it, because they are jealous and spiteful. Don’t listen to them. Figure out what you want and go get it.
 

Love Yourself

This is another hard one, huh? It’s so difficult to love yourself when you’ve been told you’re unlovable by the people who are supposed to love you the most. You are just as worthy of love as anyone else is. You are working hard to become the person you want to be, and that is something to love. Your goals are noble. You are constantly looking for ways to help others, and that’s a pretty lovable trait. You deserve to be treated with kindness, respect, and love, so be open to it, especially when it’s coming from yourself.
 

Stop Trying to Make Everyone Else Happy

You can’t please other people. At least not in the long run. You are the one who has to live with the consequences of your decisions and mistakes. When you only try to please others, you never get what you need, and that will straight-up ruin your life. It’s not your responsibility to make anyone else happy. That’s on them. It’s not selfish to build the life you want.
 

Tell People How You Feel About Them

When you care about people, tell them. I know this sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. Life is short. At the end of it, you’re not going to regret saying how you felt. In fact, you’ll only regret the things you didn’t do and the people you lost because you couldn’t make time for them or simply express how much they meant to you. If you actually lose someone you care about because you express that to them, is it really a loss after all? You won’t have to force, beg, or trick the right people into loving you or being there for you. They will want to be part of your life because you are worthy and they are the right people.
 

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

If you want something, go after it. If you feel something, say it. If you love someone, tell them. If you don’t love someone, tell them. Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s. You don’t know how much of it you’ll have to spend with the people who matter, so don’t give it away too freely because, as it turns out, there is never enough it. Achieve as many of your goals as you possibly can because no matter how much you do or how long you live, you’ll still never accomplish everything you want to in the end.
 

Everything is Temporary

Everything you are feeling and will feel is temporary. I know sometimes it’s unimaginably painful, but I promise it won’t last forever, so hold on tight. I’ll always be here to help you get through it. Similarly, the good things are temporary too. But, don’t be saddened by that. Instead, know it and take the time to enjoy the positive. You deserve to celebrate all of your successes, and you are certainly allowed to be happy.
 

Finally…

All that has happened, and will happen, to you will continue to shape who you are for the rest of your life. Without each of these experiences, you would not be you. They were and are necessary for you to learn and grow. They have taught you more than anyone can possibly imagine. You have learned to be stronger than you ever thought possible, stronger than you even know right now, and to take nothing for granted. Remember, I love you and I believe in you. It may not always seem like it, but it’s true. I will never give up on you. That’s how we’ve made it this far, and it’s how we’ll get where we have always wanted to go.
 
All my love,
Elle (your 21st-century self)
 

Is it weird that I still want to wish him a happy anniversary?

Today is a weird day. It’s my 22nd wedding anniversary, the first one since our separation almost a year ago (in eight days to be precise), and I don’t exactly know how to feel about it. I woke up still wanting to wish him a happy anniversary this morning. Is that weird? Is it odd that I’ve spent the entire day missing him? Okay, so it’s not exactly him that I miss. It’s the promise of what was “supposed” to be. What’s funny about that is I thought I’d mourned and come to terms with it already. I guess I still haven’t completely let go of the illusion, though.

It’s been quite a while since I posted in my story, so I figured this would be a good day to give a little update. So here goes… My ex and I have finally been officially living apart for about the last three months. Although things have still been incredibly stressful in our personal lives, our relationship has improved quite a bit, especially in the last month or so. Come to think of it, that’s probably part of what’s making today more difficult. We are starting to feel a lot more like friends, and he’s basically been the only “friend” I’ve had regular contact with my entire adult life. Yeah, let that sink in.

I was just barely 18 years old when we got married, and he was not quite 20 yet, so right there the odds were not in our favor. That combined with our mutual need to escape our similarly toxic, abusive families, and our lack of understanding about the effects our childhoods had on us, made for a tumultuous life together as we desperately searched for what was missing from our lives in each other without first understanding what was “missing” in ourselves. And because neither of us had any examples of a healthy relationship to draw from, we were sort of doomed to relive what we knew, which was extremely dysfunctional and unhealthy to say the least.

About 15 or 16 years into our marriage, I started to open my eyes and really see what was going on. He wanted to stay asleep, though, and he really resented me for waking up. Furthermore, he was angry with me for trying to wake him up too. He just wasn’t ready yet, but I wasn’t ready to give up on him either, so I spent the next few years trying to drag him kicking and screaming down the “road to recovery” with me. It took me that long to realize that what he had been doing to me our whole marriage was abusive because it didn’t look exactly like my dad’s abuse did. The other difference is that my ex can admit his behavior is sometimes abusive. Not in the moment, of course. In the moment, I’m just a pain in the ass who deserves what I get for fucking with him…but that’s not what this is about. This is about us both eventually realizing we have serious problems that need major work before involving another person in our lives. This is about us finding our way to friendship with one another.

The truth is, I don’t know if he’s really changing anything or not because we don’t live together anymore, and it’s a lot easier to hide things from me now, but I’ve never really believed he has NPD. He did, however, grow up in a narcissistic family dynamic, like I did, and we both learned some severely unhealthy behaviors as a result. I believe he is exceptionally hurt, out of touch with his emotions, and unsure of how to process them at this point, but I know he wants to be happy. He just doesn’t know how to go about it yet. And there’s no denying he loves our children and wants what’s best for them. That’s not something a narcissistic parent feels for their kids. I genuinely believe he wants to get better. We both cut off contact with our toxic, abusive family members a long time ago, and we’re in counseling individually now, so my hope for “our” future is that our friendship keeps growing stronger, and our kids continue getting to have birthdays and holidays with both their parents for as long as they want them.

Now that I find myself at the end of this, I think I actually do know how I feel. I have mixed emotions. Twenty-two years ago today, I thought I married my best friend, and I really thought it was forever. I think it’s completely reasonable for me to feel sad and disappointed that I didn’t get to have the “happily ever after” I had planned. But then again, who really does? We all make plans that don’t come together for one reason or another, and that’s okay. That’s life. It’s also okay to mourn that loss. I feel excited for my future in a way that I’ve never experienced before, as well. I’m really looking forward to seeing where my life goes now that I understand that I’m the only one putting limits on myself. I’ve made it my mission to get the hell out of my own way. After all, I am my only real obstacle as it turns out.

Today I woke up on my 22nd wedding anniversary and realized I still love the man I’m divorcing, and that’s perfectly acceptable. He will always be my first love, and he will always be the father of my three amazing children. I will be eternally grateful to him for everything we’ve gone through together, because all of those experiences and lessons have made me who I am, and they’ve given me the strength to continue becoming myself.

#MeToo: No More Silence

Trigger warning: This entry contains personal references to sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.

I’ve been trying to publish this since I wrote it almost a month ago, but it’s been difficult for obvious (and some not-so-obvious) reasons. I’m publishing it today because I can’t stand to be silent any longer. Especially because the deluge of revelations from so many brave women and men has not slowed down in the time since the “me too movement” began. So in solidarity, I say, “me too!”

“Me too.” Who knew two tiny words could be so powerful?

Source: pixabay.com

Me too…

I know what it’s like to be looked at. But not just looked at… Looked through, as if you don’t really even exist as a person.

I know what it’s like to be stared at in a way that makes you feel like you want to crawl so deeply inside your own skin, no one will ever see you again. I knew what that felt like even as a little girl, too young to know why their wandering eyes made me so uncomfortable.

Me too…

I know what it’s like to have someone who is in a position of power and authority use it to make unwanted sexual advances toward you. It’s terrifying when it is someone you have to depend on for any reason.

I know how it feels to think you have no choice but to “deal with it” or “suck it up” because “that’s just the way it is.” As if “dealing with” someone else’s inability to control their impulses is somehow the responsibility of the victim.

Me too…

I know what it’s like to have despicable, demeaning, degrading things said to you about your body, and be helpless to stop it. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve been reduced to body parts in my life.

I know what it’s like to be commoditized and dehumanized, not only by an abuser on a personal level, but also as merely a collection of female body parts on a societal level. I also know this perpetuates rape culture because it’s easier to use, abuse, and oppress someone who’s not really even a human being in your eyes.

Me too…

I know what it’s like to be gaslit into believing it’s no big deal when men and boys say “those things” about girls and women because “boys will be boys” and they don’t really mean anything by it. Somehow there’s always an excuse for the offense, yet being offended is inexcusable.

I’ve felt the confusion of wondering if my discomfort with the way a man was looking at or speaking to me was an overreaction. I know how it feels to jeopardize your own safety because you’ve been convinced you’re “just being silly.” And I know what it’s like to blame yourself for jeopardizing your own safety afterward.

Me too…

I know how it feels to be taught my consent was not necessary, and, essentially, my body was not my own. We teach children they don’t have the right to choose whom they will bestow what types of physical affection upon every time we insist they hug their uncle or kiss their grandma. (That’s all it takes to send that message to a child.)

I know what it’s like to be grabbed and touched in a way I did not choose, nor did I want or “ask for.” And I know what it’s like to believe it was all my fault.

Me too…

I know what it’s like to choose what I wear carefully, so not to arouse any male interest, because society tells me it’s my responsibility to control how a man acts on what he “feels” when he sees me. I also know it does not matter what I wear in the least, because I’ve been sexually harassed while wearing a large sweater or t-shirt and baggy jeans with no make-up on before.

I’ve felt the burden of analyzing every look, word, and move a man makes in an attempt to discern his intentions and keep myself safe. I’ve learned the painful lesson that you can’t always tell who wants to hurt you, no matter how analytical you may be.

Me too…

I know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night being groped by someone you thought you could trust. I know the sheer terror of trying to pretend you’re rolling over in your sleep so maybe he’ll stop, because you don’t know what else to do.

I know how it feels to have no one to turn to, because they’re the ones who taught you it was your fault when these things happened to you in the first place. It’s a kind of terrifying loneliness I can never seem to put into words.

Me too…

I know what it’s like to be raped. I know how it feels to have someone you thought was your best friend violate you in the most intimately brutal way.

I know how it feels to be told “I love you” repeatedly while being raped. I can’t describe the horror of being trapped beneath a man who claims to love you while simultaneously stripping you of your power and humanity with each unwanted, unwelcome thrust.

No More Silence

There are far too many of us whose stories, like mine, run the gamut between being leered at lasciviously and full-on rape. No one should have to feel the soul crushing weight of being objectified and dehumanized. Ever.

It’s time to let go of the shame we feel as victims, because we are not the ones who should be ashamed. We can and must speak up, and stand together as survivors and allies against these predators who have bullied us into silence for too long.

We must break the societal cycle of victim blaming by holding those actually responsible for the crime accountable. It is the perpetrators who should be blamed every single time. Never the victim! Rise up. Stand together. Speak out. Fight back.

This was also published on Huffington Post.

25 Toxic Traits of “Unsafe” People

It’s been a while! What can I say? My life is insane at the moment. So much so that I can’t even bring myself to write about it at this point, but I know I will once the dust settles. Someday. Eventually.

This is not my usual kind of post, but I think it’s an important one, especially for people like me, who struggle to understand other people’s intentions toward them at times. If you recognize many or all of these characteristics in someone, it is safe to say they are toxic and unhealthy for you to occupy space with. So, without further ado, here are 25 red flags to watch for in people you would be better off avoiding:

25 Toxic Traits of “Unsafe” People

  1. They lack empathy.
  2. They regularly make AND break promises.
  3. They always have an excuse.
  4. They make “blanket” apologies, but never change their behavior.
  5. They are always annoyed or angry.
  6. They expect perfection from others, and are intolerant of even the smallest mistake, yet feel entitled to endless chances.
  7. They are extraordinarily hypocritical.
  8. They prefer confrontation to connection.
  9. They are often dishonest.
  10. They shift the blame and won’t take responsibility for their own actions & mistakes.
  11. They blame others for their toxic &/or abusive behavior.
  12. They are often quite immature, acting like overgrown toddlers when they don’t get their way.
  13. They cannot stand to delay their gratification.
  14. They use people with no regard for their feelings.
  15. They resist freedom instead of encouraging it.
  16. They have a trail of bad relationships behind them, and may have “commitment issues.”
  17. They don’t listen, and frequently interrupt during conversations.
  18. They are defensive and don’t take feedback well, no matter how the message is structured or delivered.
  19. They are extremely argumentative for no reason.
  20. They are overly critical, judgmental, and unforgiving.
  21. They use other people’s mistakes, weaknesses, & vulnerabilities against them.
  22. They betray secrets.
  23. They are selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed.
  24. They avoid personal growth because they don’t believe they need to grow.
  25. They make others feel badly for expressing &/or asserting themselves.

So there it is. I hope this list helps you spot the red flags of toxic behavior, and avoid people who exhibit them. Can you think of any I forgot? Please feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks!