Healing with Therapy Animals

Therapy animals provide not only emotional support but mental and even physical rehabilitation for patients in hospitals, vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and people with disabilities. In this month’s Tidewater Women cover story, Healing with Therapy Animals, meet three women whose dedicated work with therapy animals great and small helps heal people from all walks of life.

Pick up our February issue for more exciting and informative content, including Trends in Cosmetic Procedures, The Power Struggle of Sexual Harassment, and more. You’ll also find our 2018 Style & Beauty Guide, your one-stop resource featuring local businesses which offer products and services designs to make women look and feel their best. It’s time to treat yourself!

Pick up Tidewater Women’s latest issue in over 800 locations on the Southside and the Peninsula. Don’t know where to find a copy near you? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 757-204-4688 and we’ll be happy to direct you to the nearest location. You can also find exciting March content and our monthly calendar of events online at www.tidewaterwomen.com.

Woah, Baby!

February’s Tidewater Family has tons of exciting articles that answer all your burning questions about taking care of your new baby. Learn about 21st Century Birth Trends, Your Baby’s Senses and how they develop, Safe Sleeping Tips for your precious newborn, and so much more.

You’ll love our 2018 Birth & Baby Guide featuring pediatricians, OB/GYNs, childcare options, and more. It's the perfect resource to help new and expecting parents take care of their brand new bundles.

Call 757-204-4688 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out where to pick up your copy.

Need ideas for what to do on a cold winter day? Please visit our website for tips and trends from previous issues. Plus you can explore our Go-To Guides, featuring businesses that offer goods and services your family needs, and much more. Don't forget to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Be Well with Tidewater Women

As you probably know, today’s women are vitally interested in their health and well being. Many are exploring alternative and complementary therapies as they journey toward wellness. The March issue of Tidewater Women will feature informative articles about wellness, as well as our 2018 Well-Being Guide. It’s the perfect place to get the word out about how your business helps women in our community achieve optimum wellness. 

You can tell your story to Tidewater Women readers in our special advertising section, Women in Health. Women love to hear the stories behind successful women in our community. Knowing who their health providers are helps women make decisions regarding their health care as well as their family’s. A Women in Health advertorial in TW is your chance to let your personality shine through, as well as share your areas of expertise.

By the way, according to TW’s recent readership survey, 26 percent of TW readers plan to seek a new doctor or dentist in the next 12 months. It’s the perfect time to reach out to these women.

Align your business with Tidewater Women and watch your business grow. Deadline is February 16, 2018, so don’t delay. Call 757-204-4688 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve space in this special issue. 

Be Exceptional with Tidewater Family

Parents can always use an extra hand, especially if they have special needs children. That’s why Tidewater Family, the region’s popular monthly magazine for parents, is featuring our 2018 Exceptional Kids Guide in the March issue. This resource guide will feature businesses, therapists, and health care practices that offer exceptional care for differently abled children. It’s the perfect place to get the word out about your services to an important target market. 

It’s that time of year­– Parents are already planning their children’s summer camp adventures. From March through June, we’re featuring our ever-popular 2018 Summer Fun Guide, a resource directory designed to help parents learn about exciting summer programs like yours.

Remember, Tidewater Family is the region’s ONLY monthly magazine for parents. Deadline for the March issue is February 12, 2018. Call 757-204-4688 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve your space today.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Skiing, ice fishing, and even a romantic ride through the country on an old-fashioned sleigh? Join Peggy and Peter in this Winter Wonderland in Western Maryland that has so much to offer in this month’s Tidewater Family. Grab your warmest coat–we’ll catch you on the slopes!

Ready to choose your next adventure? Visit Tidewater Women and Tidewater Family for even more dazzling journeys.

Many of you know I ride horses in my spare time. I began riding in my 40s and started taking lessons in my 50s. I’m not very good at it, but I have fun trying. I love being outdoors and far away from my computer. Riding makes me forget about everything else. It keeps me in the here and now.

I tried English, but I prefer to ride Western. The bigger saddle makes me feel more comfortable and maybe a wee bit safer. But even in a big saddle you have to be balanced and activate your core.

Beyond that, a lot depends on how well you communicate with your horse. I don’t mean talking. Horses communicate in other ways, and learning to speak their language can be challenging. A lot has to do with energy. The calmer and more peaceful the rider is, the more relaxed the horse will be.

I’m currently riding a mare named Jazz at Triple R. She has a fabulous disposition and is very responsive. But sometimes I show up for my lesson feeling a little stressed out. Jazz feels my stress, and it makes her stressed. My instructor reminds me to breathe and not worry so much about doing everything perfectly all the time.

These are good lessons for me since I tend to be a control freak. I micromanage to a fault. It’s not something I’m proud of, but somehow this passion for perfection became part of who I am. I wish I could change.

That’s where horses come in. You can’t micromanage a horse. You have to be on a team and work together. As the rider, it’s my job to let the horse know what I want. Intention is important. The hard part can be translating the intention into horse language.

Let’s say we’re trotting, and I’m starting to get nervous because I’m out of balance or maybe Jazz speeds up a bit. Instead of taking a deep breath and sitting deeper in my seat, I communicate my nervous energy to her, and she thinks I want her to go even faster. Whoa!

I have a choice in this situation. I can pull on the reins and ask her to stop. But at my last lesson my instructor suggested I try to go with the faster pace and learn how to be comfortable there. What a revelation. Instead of being nervous and slowing down, I’m using my skills, such as they are, to gain confidence at the faster pace, and I have a chance to use other methods (relaxing, breathing, sitting deeper in my seat) to ask Jazz to slow down.

I’m learning there are different ways to reach the same goal, maybe even better ways. When I think about how this lesson translates to my life out of the saddle, it’s crystal clear. My way is not always the right way or the best way.

When we challenge ourselves, we grow. When we stay in a rut, we don’t. I hope you are finding ways to get out of your comfort zone and learn about yourself. Horses are one way, but there are others. Make sure you include regular opportunities to recreate. Just as the word implies, it’s a chance to re-create yourself for the better.


PS - Enjoy our inspiring cover story this month about therapy animals!

Who’s a good dog? Melanie Paul may have finally found the answer to an age-old question. A photograph of Melanie’s first certified therapy dog, Shiloh, hangs over the kitchen table of her home in Hampton. Shiloh, a sweet-faced Shetland Sheepdog, began making visits to those in need of “creature comfort” in 2000. Though Shiloh has gone on to greener pastures, three other Shelties are now helping Melanie carry on his legacy of spreading joy at hospitals and schools around Hampton.

Therapy animals provide not only emotional support but mental and even physical rehabilitation for patients in hospitals, vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and people with disabilities. Here are three women whose dedicated work with therapy animals great and small helps heal people from all walks of life.



Melanie Paul lost her hearing at age 12 and is completely deaf, but she’s never let that stop her. She holds three degrees, including a Masters in Counseling, and retired after 30 years of working for the Virginia Department of Education. Over the past fifteen years or so Melanie has started multiple animal-assisted therapy programs. She and her dogs visit both Sentara Hospital in Hampton and Langley Air Force Base weekly.  “My favorite thing is bringing my dogs into a patient’s room and seeing their faces just light up,” Melanie says.

As we sit at her kitchen table with her three Shelties lying at our feet, Melanie focuses on the dogs’ accomplishments. She credits them with brightening the lives of those they visit: “My dogs are the ones who perform the magic. I just help them do it.”

Melanie’s dogs are, indeed, accomplished. Molly, the oldest at 12 years, is the “spokesdog” for the Hampton Clean City Commission and was awarded the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association Animal Hero Award in 2011. The VVMA honors one animal a year with this award, and in 2017 it went to another of Melanie’s dogs, Lothair, an unusual snow-white Sheltie who is also deaf. He understands an impressive 22 words and commands in American Sign Language.

According to Melanie, Lothair’s deafness allows him to truly bond with patients who have disabilities, especially deaf children. “It makes me proud, seeing how happy my dogs make people,” she says. “All of them are special.”

They’re also well trained. All three of Melanie’s dogs have been certified and insured through Therapy Dogs International since age one. According to their website, TDI is an organization that regulates, tests, and registers therapy dogs. In order to become certified, each dog undergoes at least 13 different tests meant to evaluate temperament, obedience, and ability to handle unfamiliar environments and people. Once certified, the newly-minted therapy dog is able to visit people in hospitals, who often cherish the comfort a four-legged visitor can provide.

“Something great always happens when I take my dogs on visits,” Melanie confirms. Lothair and Locksley, both 9 years old, have over 700 documented therapy visits each. Molly has a whopping 808, and they show no signs of slowing down.

Melanie says the program at Langley Air Force Base is probably what she’s most proud of. She recalls one visit to the Children’s Center with Lothair, where a 3-year-old girl sitting in a wheelchair wanted to pet him. The girl’s mother excitedly confided that this was the first time her daughter had ever shown any interest in a dog. Then, as Melanie and Lothair moved away, something amazing happened.

The little girl got out of her wheelchair and walked determinedly towards Lothair. “He turned his head and was watching her,” Melanie says, tearing up. “She walked over to him and put her arms around him.  She was only this big—.” Melanie holds her hand knee-high, around eye level for the inquisitive Lothair, who pads towards us for a scratch. “It was really remarkable,” Melanie says as she pets Lothair’s silky white coat. Bending down towards the cheerfully panting Sheltie, Melanie signs to him as she speaks. “Good boy, Lothair!”



Going to the dentist is no one’s favorite pastime, but for patients who are intellectually or developmentally disabled, a visit to the dentist’s office often requires sedation and can be truly traumatic. “The harsh lights, loud sounds, strange people…these are not places they want to go,” explains Caren Cajares, DNP, CRNA. “They come in expecting to have to fight for their lives.”

With 25 years of experience in nursing, including with the US Army, Caren has been focusing on special-needs dental patients for several years. “The traditional model is to ‘hold them down,” she says. “What we’re trying to do is meet you as you are.” What’s one way to accomplish this? According to Caren’s doctoral research at ODU: therapy dogs.

Caren brought four certified therapy dogs and their handlers to the Dream Center, a dental sedation clinic in Virginia Beach. “It was my mentor who suggested it,” Caren explains. “She knew how much I love dogs and how passionate I am about the special needs community, so she said, ‘Why not combine that?’”

It’s an unusual topic for doctoral research, and Caren wasn’t sure ODU’s Internal Review Board would give her the green light. Happily, it was approved. Caren and her fellow researchers asked for consent from her patients’ caretakers to measure their anxiety levels before and after meeting a therapy dog in the waiting room. The results were paw-sitive, so to speak.

“Our goal is to foster a relationship, and the dog helps to do that…There’s a sense of protection, I think, which helps take away the need to fight back,” Caren says of her patients’ reactions. That sense of protection helps calm patients who are mistrustful of people and decreases the amount of time they’re under sedation, which is better for both the patient’s health and wallet.

Caren remembers one woman who seemed very interested in the therapy dog visiting that day. “We took her back to prepare her for anesthesia, and she suddenly asked us, ‘Are you my friend?’ in this clear voice. In her chart it said non-verbal. No one knew she could speak. We said, ‘Yes, yes, we’re your friends!’” Caren recalls. When the team asked her caregiver about it, she said, “Oh, she only talks around people she trusts.” This patient had visited the Dream Center dozens of times previously, but that was the first time she’d met a therapy dog. Caren describes it as a profound moment: “We were just amazed. Not only can she speak, she speaks clearly.”

Not just any pup can be brought into a clinical setting. Like Melanie’s Shelties, the four dogs used in Caren’s research were all certified through TDI. It can be hard to rope a good therapy dog. Many have already been snagged by hospitals and nursing homes for a regular rotation of visits. That’s why Caren and her family, including her teenage step-daughter with autism, have just added Opie to their ranks. Opie, a curly-haired Goldendoodle with a calm temperament, is on his way to TDI certification and will soon be a regular at the Dream Center.

For now, though, the clinic is in between therapy dogs,  much to the disappointment of many patients. “A lot of people, well, usually the caretakers, call and ask, ‘When will the dog be there? Can we come in when the dog is there?’” Caren says. But the patients aren’t the only ones who enjoy having a dog around. The staff miss taking breaks from what can be a high-stress job for some puppy loving. It puts the whole office in a good mood. “Everyone benefits,” says Caren.



Equi-Kids is a therapeutic riding center in Virginia Beach, but the name can be a bit misleading. “We work with kids of all ages,” says Interim Executive Director Stacy Rogers with a laugh. Ranging in age from 3 to 84 years, many Equi-Kids clients have mental and physical disabilities. A team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, mental health providers, and certified instructors help ensure that each client’s physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual needs are met.

For those who have difficulty walking, riding a horse helps strengthen and stretch muscles that aren’t often used. For others, forming a bond with a horse can mean experiencing a profound connection with another living being for the first time. “Every person who comes here has the opportunity to ride, regardless of what they’re trying to overcome,” Stacy emphasizes.

For Stacy, who began at Equi-Kids as a volunteer in 2016, working there has been like returning full circle. She grew up on a horse farm in upstate New York. After working in government contracting in DC, specializing in homeland security following 9/11,  Stacy moved to the Tidewater area. When she saw the spacious pastures and well-groomed horses grazing near Sandbridge Road, she was thrilled. “I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with the horse community for a long time,” she says.

Now working more on the business side of Equi-Kids, Stacy stresses the importance of the non-profit’s staff and the hundreds of volunteers who come in weekly. “It takes a team,” Stacy says. “We have a beautiful community here, where every single person has a part to play.”

In the indoor arena visible through the window of Stacy’s office, three riders cautiously raise their arms overhead as their mounts continue walking at a stately pace. An instructor encourages from the ground. The current session is part of the Equi-Vets program, which, as the name suggests, focuses on veterans, many of whom suffer from PTSD. According to an article published in the Journal of Occupational Therapy last year, equine-assisted therapy is a promising method of treating PTSD symptoms.

Stacy recounts the story of a vet who’s been with the program for years and occasionally shows up at the barn unannounced. “He’ll share that he’s having a tough time, and he needed to come back and recenter with the horses,” Stacy says. It’s about building trust, and the horses have a lot to do with that process.

According to Stacy, horses are such successful therapy animals because of their extreme sensitivity to their rider’s needs. She remembers one horse who stopped without warning in the middle of a session. Turns out, the rider was in the early stages of a seizure, so early that there were no signs visible to the naked eye. The horse sensed the oncoming seizure and stopped to protect the rider from a fall. “It’s incredible,” Stacy says.

The hooved therapy team at Equi-Kids ranges from ex-police horses to tiny ponies to a mule named Jill. All have undergone a thorough on-boarding process to ensure they meet rigorous safety standards. But it’s not just the animals that are impressive, and it’s not just the clients who benefit. “Every single one of our riders is so inspiring. Every day, I experience something that helps remind me why we are here,” Stacy says, misty-eyed. “What they don’t realize is that they are actually giving to us.” 

For more information:

Therapy Dogs International - www.tdi-dog.org

Equi-Kids - www.equikids.org

Susan Deutsch is a Norfolk native, studying at Middlebury College in Vermont. She’s looking forward to spending spring


semester studying creative writing at the University of Wollongong, Australia.


Welcome to Tidewater Women's February 2018 Calendar of Events

Thursday        1

Rapture, Blister, Burn - Times vary thru 2/4. Is the grass really greener on the other side? ($) Little Theatre of Norfolk 627-8551 (N)

SWaM Certification Application Assistance - 9 a.m.-1 p.m. RR ODU Women’s Business Center, 4111 Monarch Way 683-3729 (N)

Paint 4 Fun - 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Every Thurs. Seniors. River Crest Community Ctr. 436-3100 (C)

Laura Dowling Flower Arranging Talk - 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Spon. by Garden Club of Norfolk. RR ($) Norfolk Yacht & Country Club www.thegardenclubofnorfolk.com (N)

Farmers’ Market - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Every Thurs. City Center, Oyster Point 873-2020 (NN)

Art Studio - 1-3 p.m. Every Thurs. Seniors. PrimePlus 7300 Newport Ave. 625-5857 (N)

Ask the Artist - 5:30 p.m. Every Thurs. Engage with artists. d’ART Center 625-4211 (N)

Job Opportunities in Trade & Industry - 7 p.m. Learn about careers that don’t require a degree. TCC Student Center 822-2160 (P)

Out of the Box: Galaxy Dynamite - 7 p.m. Music & more. Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)

Weekly Drop-In Meditation Class - 7-8:30 p.m. Most Thurs. Guided meditation & discussion. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Center, 156 Newtown Rd. #A2 504-4425 (VB)

Va. Stage Company: Pride and Prejudice - 7:30 p.m. Times vary thru 2/4. Enjoy this stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s most beloved novel. ($) Wells Theatre 627-1234 (N)

Planetarium Show - 8 p.m. Every Thurs. in Feb. ($) Chesapeake Planetarium 547-7827 (C)

Generic Theater: Jack Goes Boating - 8 p.m. Times vary thru 2/18. Jack devotes his life to learning how to swim for his blind date. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)


Friday             2

Polar Plunge Cool School Challenge - 10 a.m. Gr. 3-12. Prizes, games & more for Special Olympics. RR ($) 31st St. 962-1575 (VB)

Friday Yoga Flow - 10-11:30 a.m. Every Fri. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)

Valentines for Veterans - 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Also Sat. Central Library 385-2606 (VB)

Seasoned and Sassy - 2 p.m. Every Fri. Get active & socialize! Black Library 441-5806 (N)

Meditation: Unwind the Mind - 5:30-6:15 p.m. Most Fri. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Center, 156 Newtown Rd. #A2 504-4425 (VB)

Paint Night - 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Every 1st Fri. ($) Downing Gross Ctr. 247-8950 (NN)

Va. Opera: Deep River: Marian Anderson’s Journey - 8 p.m. Featuring arias and duets. ($) Hampton University Ogden Hall 728-6800 (H)

Little Theatre of VB: And Then There Were None - 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat. 2:30 p.m. Sun. thru 2/11. What led ten people to murder? ($) Little Theatre of VB 428-9233 (VB)


Saturday         3

Health Issues Affecting Our Children Today - 7:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m. RR ($) VB Resort & Conference Center 668-7402 (VB)

Farmers’ Market - 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Every Sat. Olde Towne Portsmouth 397-6395 (P)

Suffolk Farmers’ Market - 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Every Sat. Suffolk Visitor Center 514-4130 (S)

Fly Fishing Basics 101 - 10 a.m. RR Northwest River Park 421-7151 (C)

Old Towne Antiques Flea Market - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 1st Sat. Middle St. Garage 339-1876 (P)

Create a Chocolate Bar - 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 1st Sat. ($) Royal Chocolate 557-6925 (VB)

Hot Glass Heart -12 p.m. Ages 5+. Dates vary thru Feb. Make a Valentine’s gift. RR ($) Chrysler Glass Studio 664-6200 (N)

Indoor Winter Farmers Market - 12-3 p.m. Every Sat. thru April. MoMAC Brewing Co., 3228 Academy Ave. 383-9572 (P)

Lucky Charms - 1:30-4:30 p.m. Ages 12+. Make colorful glass jewels. RR ($) Chrysler Museum 664-6200 (N)

Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Quest for Freedom - 4:30 p.m. Every Sat. in Feb. Learn how constellations led African-Americans to freedom. Va. Living Museum 595-1900 (NN)

Paws for the Arts Gala - 6:30-10 p.m. Cash bar + entertainment to benefit Suffolk Humane Society. RR ($) Hilton Garden Inn 538-3030 (S)

Va. Symphony Orchestra: Whole Lotta Shakin’: Swing to Rock - 8 p.m. Featuring the greatest hits from Benny Goodman, Elvis + more. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

Hampton Arts: Les Ballets Tockadero de Monte Carlo - 8 p.m. All-male comedic company. ($) American Theatre 722-2787 (H)


Sunday             4

Prayers for World Peace - 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Most Sun. Adults. Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Ctr. 504-4425 (VB)

Drag Yourself to Brunch - 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. Every Sun. Age 18+ High-energy entertainment from female impersonators. RR ($) Croc’s 19th Street Bistro 428-5444 (VB)

Group Life Coaching & Hypnosis - 1-3 p.m. Every Sun. Manifest your dreams. RR ($) 101 N. Lynnhaven Rd. #205 729-2716 (VB)


Monday           5

Monday Yoga Flow - 10-11:30 a.m. Every Mon. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)

Cardio Quick Class - 12-12:30 p.m. M,W, F ($) Seven Cities Dance Studio 362-4973 (H)

Lunchtime Meditation - 12:15-12:45 p.m. Most Mon. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Center, 156 Newtown Rd. #A2 504-4425 (VB)

Saints Alive Senior Chorus - 12:30 p.m. Every Mon. St. Paul’s UMC, 437 Providence Rd. 543-5721 (C)

Yoga for Special Needs - 4:30-5:45 p.m. Every Mon. A class for those w/physical challenges. RR ($) Wells Therapeutics 313-4962 (VB)

Sophisticated Steppers - 5:45-7:15 p.m. Every Mon. Seniors dance. ($) Cuffee Community Ctr., 2019 Windy Rd., 382-6411 (C)

VB Bee Club - 6:30 p.m. Every 1st Mon. Learn about backyard beehives. Croc’s 19th St. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (VB)

Functional Forum - 6:30 p.m. Every 1st Mon. Holistic Family Practice 685-4325 (VB)

Peace Circle Group w/ Rev. Laura - 6:30-8 p.m. 1st Mon. Unity Church of Tidewater, 5580 Shell Rd. 804-818-6084 (VB)

Drum Circle - 7-10 p.m. Every Mon. Donations accepted. Mystic Moon 855-3280 (N)


Tuesday         6

Yoga in the Galleries - 8:45-9:45 a.m. Every Tues. RR ($) Chrysler Museum 664-6200 (N)

Coffee & Conversation: Gardens of Great Britain - 9:30-11 a.m. Learn about English style gardening. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)

Yin Yoga - 10:45 a.m. Every Tues. Seniors. Improve flexibility and strengthen muscles. RR ($) PrimePlus, 7300 Newport Ave.  625-5857 (N)

The Women’s Forum of Coastal VA: Journey to the Extraordinary You - 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Featuring Jim White. RR ($) Kaufman & Canoles Community Rm., 150 W. Main St. 373-6517 (N)

Professional Women’s Leadership Luncheon - 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Speaker Lee Milteer. RR ($) Holiday Inn VB/Norfolk 664-2518 (VB)

Keep Me in Stitches - 2-5 p.m. Every Tues. Knit & crochet for cancer patients. Grace Comm. Church, 1725 Salem Rd. 404-6593 (VB)

Cooperative Co-Parenting - 4-8 p.m. Every 1st Tues. Prevent problems related to divorce. RR ($) 135 Hall Ave., 624-6666 (S)

Peppy Steppers - 5:45-7:15 p.m. Every Tues. Seniors. ($) W. Branch Comm. Ctr. 382-6411 (C)

Life 101 - 6-7:15 p.m. Every Tues. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)

Magic of Harmony Show Chorus Rehearsals - 7-9 p.m. Every Tues. Visitors welcome. Tabb H.S. Chorus Rm. 566-8600 (Y)

Spontaneous Theater Troupe Training - 7-9 p.m. Every Tues. RR ($) Fellowship Center, 620 14th St. 472-0662 (VB)

In-Depth Study Program - 7-9:30 p.m. Every Tues. Meditation, chanted prayers & more. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Ctr. 504-4425 (VB)


Wednesday    7

Harmony & Fitness Yoga - 9:30 a.m. Every Wed. ($) Eliz. Gardens 473-3234 (Manteo)

Moms in Prayer International - 9:30-10:30 a.m. Every Wed. Pray for children and schools. Suffolk Family YMCA 809-0985 (S)

Crocheting - 10 a.m.-noon. Seniors. Every Wed. Bring supplies. South Norfolk Community Center 543-5721 (C)

Chesapeake Social & Newcomers Club - 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 1st Wed. RR by preceding Fri. ($) Traditions Grill, Chesapeake Golf Club 966-9000 (C)

OBC Trivia Night - 6-8 p.m. Every 1st Wed. ($) O’Connor Brewing Co. 623-2337 (N)

Weekly Meditation Class - 6:30-8 p.m. Most Wed. ($) Fred Heutte Ctr. 504-4425 (N)

Shen Yun - 7:30 p.m. Also Thurs. Take an enlightening journey through 5,000 yrs.! ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)


Thursday        8

Alzheimer’s Support Group - 1-2:30 p.m. 2nd Thurs. Beth Sholom Village 420-2512 (VB)

Red Light Therapy and Cool Sculpting Demo - 5:30 p.m. Snacks, prizes, demos, and info on fat removal. RR Skin Oasis 340-5270 (VB)

Help and Emergency Response, Inc. Annual Mtg. - 6:30-7:30 p.m. Learn about H.E.R. Hyatt Place, 709 Eden Way N. 251-0144 (C)

Wine and Chocolate - 6:30-8:30 p.m. RR ($) Total Wine, 1744 Laskin Rd. 428-6998 (VB)

Treats for Your Sweet - 6:30-8:30 p.m. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)

Gardening in a Winter Wonderland - 7 p.m. Learn about pruning a winter garden. RR ($) The Fred Heutte Center 441-2513 (N)

Out of the Box: Jeremy Lasley and the Lastones - 7 p.m. Music, food & drinks. Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)


Friday              9

Mid-Atlantic Sports & Boat Show - 12 p.m. Times vary thru Sun. Browse the latest models. ($) VB Convention Center 222-5377 (VB)

Safari: Tales of the Griot - 7 p.m. Times vary thru Sun. Go on a magical safari with Hurrah Players & Atumpan Edutainment. ($) Perry Family Theatre, Copeland Center, 627-5437 (N)

Muse Jam - 7-10 p.m. Every 2nd Fri. Read your work, play music, or just listen. Muse Writers Center, 2200 Colonial Ave. 818-9880 (N)

Va. Stage Company: Love Letters - 7:30 p.m. Also Sat. A Poignant story of lifelong friends. ($) Wells Theatre 627-1234 (N)

Va. Opera: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - 8 p.m. Times vary thru Tues. ($) Harrison Opera House 664-6464 (N)

Panties in a Twist - 8 p.m. Enjoy this sketch comedy show written, directed by, and starring women. ($) Attucks Theatre 622-4763 (N)


Saturday        10

For the Cure 5K & Little Cure Mile - 8:30-11:30 a.m. Ages 2+. Awards, giveaways + more. RR ($) Mt. Trashmore Park 409-1913 (VB)

Volunteer Day - 9-11 a.m. Be a river hero. RR Paradise Creek Nature Park 399-7487 (P)

River Cleanup - 9 a.m.-noon. Every 2nd Sat. All ages. Locations vary. Spon. by Lynnhaven River Now. 962-5398 (VB)

Band Craft Fair N’ More - 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Browse local vendors. Landstown High School, 2001 Concert Dr. 648-5500 (VB)

HR Writers: Show and Grow Your Prose - 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. RR The Muse Writers Center, 2200 Colonial Ave. 639-6146 (N)

Cupid’s Undie Run - 12-4 p.m. Party & run to raise funds for Neurofibromatosis research. RR ($) The Shack, 712 Atlantic Ave. www.cupids.org (VB)

Spark Your Creativity - 1-3:30 p.m. How to break creativity blocks. RR ($) Muse Writers Center, 2200 Colonial Ave. 818-9880 (N)

Hearts, Hops, and Valentines - 1-5 p.m. Enjoy games, music, magician, food & more. Spon. by Cultural Alliance. ($) Bearded Bird Brewing, 727 Granby St. 961-4002 (N)

Multiple Reflections Gallery Performance - 2 p.m. Join Teens with a Purpose as they respond to artworks from the exhibition Multiple Modernisms. Chrysler Museum 664-6200 (N)

The Original Harlem Globetrotters - 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. ($) Constant Center 683-5763 (N)

Grown-Up Spelling BEE - 2-4 p.m. Support Suffolk Public Schools and compete in a team to become the “Best Spellers in Suffolk!” RR ($) King’s Fork High School 925-6752 (S)

Kiss & Tail - 3:30-6 p.m. Adults. Wine, appetizers, tour & humorous presentation on animal mating. RR ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)

Va. Craft Spirits Roadshow - 4-8 p.m. Spirits, craft cocktails + more. ($) Mariners’ Museum, www.virginiaspirits.org, 596-2222 (NN)

One Hot Havana Night Annual Fundraiser - 6-11 p.m. Support arts education. RR ($) Suffolk Center 923-0003 (S)

Therapeutic Recreation Valentine’s Ball - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Individuals w/ disAbilities. Dinner & dancing. RR ($) River Crest Community Center, 1001 River Walk Pkwy 382-1328 (C)


Sunday          11

Eckankar Light & Sound Service - 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Tidewater Eckankar Center, 1500 Little Creek Rd. # 203 588-5683 www.eck-va.org (N)

Pre-Valentine’s Day Craft & Vendor Expo - 1-5 p.m. Shop for Valentine’s gifts. Central Library, 298 Cedar Rd. 943-9336 (C)

Backyard Foraging - 1-3 p.m. Search for wild edibles with Vickie Shufer. RR ($) Call for location in Blackwater. 421-3929 (VB)

Colorful Coasters - 1:30-4:30 p.m. Ages 12+. Arrange strips of glass into coaster designs. RR ($) Chrysler Museum 664-6200 (N)

All I Want for Valentine’s Day is a Chocolate Factory - 1:30-4:30 p.m. Chocolate dipping & tasting with The Williamsburg Chocolatier. RR ($) Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center 393-8543 (P)


Monday         12

Dancing w/ the Seniors - 10:30 a.m.-noon. Bi-weekly thru 5/21. Ages 55+. Learn ballroom, Latin, line dances + more leading up to Senior Prom. RR Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)

Job Search and Career Exploration - 5 p.m. Every 2nd Mon. Learn about various topics. Jordan-Newby Library 441-2843 (N)

Quarters for a Cure - 6-9 p.m. Raise money and awareness for Relay for Life. VFW Post 4809, 5728 Bartee St. 339-7887 (N)

Women’s Voices Book Club - 7:30 p.m. Every 2nd Mon. New members welcome. Barnes & Noble, 4485 Va. Beach Blvd. 671-7929 (VB)

Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters - 8 p.m. with special guest Seth Lakeman. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)


Tuesday         13

Cooperative Co-Parenting - 5-9 p.m. Every 2nd Tues. Prevent potential problems. RR ($) 424 W. 21st St., 624-6666 (N)

Dessert Wines & Chocolates - 6:30-8:30 p.m. RR ($) Norf. Bot. Garden 441-5830 (N)

25 Mics: Spoken Word and Open Mic Night - 7-8:30 p.m. 2nd Tues. Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center 247-8950 (NN)


Wednesday    14

Happy Valentine’s Day!

CPR, First Aid & Safety - 1:30 p.m. Also 2/21. RR PrimePlus, 7300 Newport Ave. 625-5857 (N)

Croc’s Cooking Class - 6 p.m. Every 2nd Wed. Incl. tastings and wine. RR ($) Croc’s 19th Street Bistro 428-5444 (VB)

Neil Young Valentine’s Day Tribute Concert - 8 p.m. ($) The NorVa 627-4547 (N)


Thursday       15

Meditation Training and Mentoring Course - 8 a.m. thru Sun. RR ($) Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. 800-333-4499 (VB)

Cybersecurity Summit - 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. RR ($) Founders Inn 888-372-1006 (VB)

Educator Open House - 4-7 p.m. Explore teaching resources from 15+ local museums/orgs. Chrysler Museum 664-6200 (N)

Third Thursday - 5 p.m. Entertainment, Bubble Remix, history, art, pop culture + more. ($) Chrysler Museum 664-6200 (N)

Home Cleaning Products & Natural Pesticides - 6:30-8:30 p.m. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)

Out of the Box: Tom Dikon & The Jukes Revival - 7 p.m. Music, food & drinks. Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)


Friday            16

Caregiver Support Group - 12-1 p.m. Every 3rd Fri. For caregivers of the elderly. Nimmo UMC 422-1292 (VB)

World of Pets Expo - 2-8 p.m. Times vary thru Sun. Shop, adopt, and be entertained! ($) HR Convention Center 800-882-9894 (H)

The Sound of Soul - 7-8 p.m. Tidewater Eckankar Center, 1500 Little Creek Rd. # 203 588-5683 www.eck-va.org (N)

Midnight Star in Concert - 8 p.m. with special guest Above and Beyond. ($) Attucks Theatre 622-4763 (N)

The Black Jacket Symphony: Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes - 8 p.m. ($) Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)


Saturday        17

Ice Age Weekend - 9 a.m. thru Sun. Enjoy artifacts, live animal shows, and hands-on activities. ($) Va. Living Museum 595-1900 (NN)

Clean the Creek - 9-11 a.m. Help keep trash and debris from our waterways. RR Va. Aquarium 385-0274 (VB)

Old Beach Art Market - 9 a.m.-noon. 3rd Sat. Mixed media artwork. 19th St. & Cypress. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (VB)

Schock & Shivers 5K & Cold Water Challenge Course - 10 a.m. 1.5-mile loop followed by a dip in the lake. RR ($) Oak Grove Lake Park, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (C)

Fresh & Fruity Kombucha - 10 a.m.-noon. Learn about Asian health remedy. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)

Fused Glass Platter - 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Ages 12+. Assemble a decorative glass panel. RR ($) Chrysler Glass Studio 664-6200 (N)

Storytelling with Dyland Pritchett - 1-3 p.m. See how African history weaves into the American past. ($) Mariners’ Museum 596-2222 (NN)

Writing Romance for Feminists - 1-3:30 p.m. Unpack ideas of feminism and social justice. RR ($) Muse Writers Center 818-9880 (N)

Murder Mystery Dinner Show - 6-8 p.m. You may be a Prime Suspect! RR ($) DoubleTree by Hilton, 1900 Pavillion Dr. 422-8900 (VB)

Genealogical Society Meeting - 6-9 p.m. Every 3rd Sat. Sept.-Jun. Central Lib. 385-0120 (VB)

Decades of Dance - 7-11 p.m. Dress in your favorite decade for food & dancing to raise money for college students. RR ($) VB Convention Center 651-0272 (VB)

CBDX Casino Night: Unmask the Night - 7:30-10 p.m. Casino games, food, live music + prizes to benefit Junior Achievement of Greater HR. RR ($) Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)

Jazz Club: Charenee Wade, Vocalist - 8 p.m. ($) Attucks Theatre 622-4763 (N)


Sunday            18

Ritual for the Chinese New Year of the Earth Dog - 1-3 p.m. ($) Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. 962-0933 (VB)

Writing About Social Issues - 1-3:30 p.m. Get tips on research, facts, and quoting. RR ($) Muse Writers Center, 2200 Colonial Ave. 818-9880 (N)

Scope on Ice: Valentine’s Day Skate - 2 p.m. A tapestry of sweet treats and little love notes await! ($) Scope Arena 664-6464 (N)


Monday         19

VB Restaurant Week - Breakfast, lunch & dinner thru Sun. Sample culinary creations at special prices. www.vbrestaurantweek.com 422-4420 (VB)

Writer’s Block - 7 p.m. Every 3rd Mon. New members welcome. Barnes & Noble, 4485 Va. Beach Blvd. 671-7929 (VB)


Tuesday         20

Conscious Community Lecture: True Prosperity - 10:30 a.m.-noon. Deepen your sense of meaning and purpose. RR ($) Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. 457-7202 (VB)

Movie Night - 4:30 p.m. Every 3rd Tues. Enjoy movie snacks! Black Library 441-5806 (N)

Family and Friends Support Group - 6 p.m. Every 3rd Tues. Support a loved one in an abusive relationship. Perry Safe Harbor Ctr., 2620 Southern Blvd. 631-0710 (VB)

Spirit Message Circle w/ Carylanne - 6-8 p.m. Connect with loved ones on the other side. RR ($) RR ($) Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. 457-7231 (VB)

Mixed Media: Abstract Art - 6-8:30 p.m. Learn to reflect emotions through abstract painting. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)

Bourbon, Burgers & Bingo - 6-9 p.m. Every 3rd Tues. RR ($) Croc’s 19th St. Bistro 428-5444 (VB)

Tape Face - 7 p.m. You’ll laugh, you’ll scream, and ultimately end up lost for words. ($) Attucks Theatre 622-4763 (N)

Oneness Blessing - 7-8 p.m. Every 3rd Tues. Move into a higher state of consciousness. Donation. Wells Therapeutics 225-1496 (VB)

The Norfolk Forum: John Brennan - 7:30 p.m. Director of the CIA talks about his career. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)


Wednesday    21

Craft Night: Wire-Wrapped Rings - 6-9 p.m. RR ($) The Hermitage Museum & Gardens 7637 North Shore Rd. 757-432-2052 (N)

The Writer’s Shelf - 7 p.m. Every 3rd Wed. New members welcome. RR Barnes & Noble, 4485 Va. Beach Blvd. 671-7929 (VB)

Va. Stage Company: The Hounds of Baskervilles - 7:30 p.m. Times vary thru 3/11. Enjoy this fast-paced comedic ride as Watson & Holmes debunk a family curse. ($) Wells Theatre 627-1234 (N)


Thursday        22

Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival - 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thru Sun. Browse the quilts, garments, and fiber arts exhibition. ($) HR Convention Center 305-594-0059 (H)

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Info Session - 10:30 a.m.-noon. Learn about certification criteria, required documents + more. RR Builders & Contractors Exchange, 1118 Azalea Garden Rd. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 858-0680 (N)

Communication in Relationships - 6-8 p.m. Discover new skills to convey messages. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)

Out of the Box: Bennett Wales & The Relief - 7 p.m. Music, food & drinks. Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)

NSU Theatre Company: Fences - 7:30 p.m. Times vary thru Sun. Troy’s inner conflicts take a toll on his family. ($) Brown Hall, 700 Park Ave. 823-9009 (N)


Friday            23

Craft Hope - 10:30 a.m. Every 4th Fri. Knit and crochet for charity. RR Little Creek Library 441-1751 (N)

Rhythm Live! 2018 - 7:30 p.m. Enjoy this high-energy show featuring authentic music and acrobatic dance moves. ($) Harrison Opera House 664-6464 (N)


Saturday        24

Tidewater Striders Distance Series Race - 9 a.m. Early starts and walkers may be arranged. RR ($) Dismal Swamp Canal Trail 382-6411 (C)

GUMP Children’s Consignment Sale - 9 a.m. thru Sun. Find gently used children’s clothes, toys, books, and furniture. 531 Raleigh Ave. 622-3239 (N)

HR Writers Traveling Pen Workshop: Key Marketing Strategies - 9:30 a.m.-noon. RR ($) TCC Blackwater Bldg. 639-6146 (VB)

Advance Soap-Making Workshop - 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Learn to make natural soaps. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)

Writing Workshop - 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Discover the real strengths of your work. RR ($) Muse Writers Center, 2200 Colonial Ave. 818-9880 (N)

Saturday SUN-days - 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Public solar viewing event. Elizabeth River Park 382-6411 (C)

Cooperative Co-Parenting - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Every 4th Sat. Recognize effects of divorce and prevent potential problems. RR ($) 424 W. 21st St., 624-6666 (N)

Antique Show & Sale - 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 12-5 p.m. Browse collectibles in artwork, jewelry, furniture & more. ($) King’s Fork Middle School 925-0448 (S)

Dynamic DIVAs: Mimosa Networking Mixer - 1-4 p.m. Promote your business and services. RR ($) Kempsville Library 621-6498 (VB)

TBMA Monthly Bluegrass Concert: Flatland Bluegrass Band - 7 p.m. See the best in bluegrass talent. Donations ($) Hickory Ruritan Club 421-0297 (C)

Va. Symphony Orchestra: Classics from Chopin and Brahms - 8 p.m. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

L.A. Theatre Works: The Mountaintop - 8 p.m. Enjoy this play about the night hours before Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. ($) Attucks Theatre 622-4763 (N)


Sunday          25

Eckankar Book Discussion - 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Tidewater Eckankar Center, 1500 Little Creek Rd. # 203 588-5683 www.eck-va.org (N)

Anansi & Other African Folktales - 1 p.m. Learn how African storytellers incorporated music to tell their tales. ($) Mariners’ Museum 596-2222 (NN)

Writing Through Anxiety - 1-3:30 p.m. Learn writing exercises to help cope with anxiety. RR ($) Muse Writers Center, 2200 Colonial Ave. 818-9880 (N)

Untamed Arts Paint Night - 6-8 p.m. Paint a rockin’ rhino. RR ($) Virginia Zoo 441-2374 (N)


Monday          26

Bonsais: Living Sculptures - 1-4 p.m. Sculpt living trees dwarfed by potting and wiring. RR ($) Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center 393-8543 (P)

Movie Night - 5 p.m. Every last Mon. Call for titles. Larchmont Library 441-5335 (N)

Caregiver Support Group - 5:30 p.m. Every 4th Mon. RR Prime Plus, 7300 Newport Ave. 800-272-3900 (N)

Movie Trivia Night: Cult Classics - 7-9 p.m. Show off your knowledge. Costumes encouraged. ($) Dave & Buster’s, 701 Lynnhaven Pkwy. 785-3500 (VB)


Tuesday         27

Dead of Winter Walk and Talk - 9:30-11 a.m. Explore what’s happening in the garden. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)


Wednesday    28

Cooking with Chef Janie Jacobson - 11 a.m. A healthy cooking class followed by a delicious three-course lunch including wine! RR ($) 533 S. Atlantic Ave. Croatan 513-5435 (VB) w


Please call to confirm.

($) Fee; RR - Reservations required.

(C) Chesapeake (H) Hampton  (N) Norfolk

(NN) Newport News  (P) Portsmouth

(S) Suffolk  (VB) Va. Beach  (W) W’burg

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Want to make a bigger splash? Advertise your upcoming event to 20,000+ area women in the area’s only print magazine for women. Call 757-204-4688 and ask about our affordable rates.

There’s a lot of buzz about beauty these days, especially cosmetic plastic surgery. Today’s women want to look their best, and the demand for cosmetic procedures is on the rise in the U.S. The American Society of Plastic Surgery reported that more than $16 billion dollars was spent on cosmetic plastic surgery in 2016 that included 1.7 million surgical and 15 million minimally invasive procedures. This represents a 3-4 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.

Many women are choosing minimally invasive procedures due to their lower cost, shorter recovery period, and lower risk when compared to surgery. However, not all patients are candidates for minimally invasive procedures alone. Depending on the patient’s cosmetic goals, a treatment plan may include minimally invasive treatment, surgery, or a combination of both.

The American Society of Plastic Surgery Procedural Statistics show that the most commonly performed minimally invasive procedures are botulinum toxin, soft tissue fillers, chemical peels, laser hair removal, and microdermabrasion, which are mainly used for facial rejuvenation. Here’s a look at what these procedures entail.

• Botulinum toxin is used to selectively paralyze facial muscles in order to prevent dynamic facial wrinkles, for instance, when someone is frowning or squinting. Other uses include facial shaping. The eyebrows can be raised or the corners of the mouth can be lifted by paralyzing the opposing facial muscles that depress the brows or the lower lips. Botulinum toxin requires redosing every few months to maintain the results.

• Soft tissue fillers are used for static facial wrinkles. These are the lines that are present without facial animation, and they do not respond to botulinum toxin. Specifically, fillers are injected under the skin and are used to treat the vertical forehead lines, lip lines, and lines along the nasal labial folds located between the cheek and upper lip junction and corners of the mouth. Fillers can also be used for facial shaping. For example, fillers can improve fullness of the cheeks, plump the lips, and treat depressions, such as hollow areas under the lower eyelid.

Most fillers are made from a genetically engineered hyaluronic acid which is naturally found in human tissue. The advantage of these materials is that they have a low risk for allergic reaction and low complication rates, if properly performed. Hyaluronic acid fillers are temporary and have variable longevity ranging from months to two years, depending on the gel type and location that is injected. Although there are many other types of fillers that can be used with good results, permanent synthetic fillers, such as silicone oil, have a very high risk of complications including infection, scarring, and permanent facial deformity, and therefore should be avoided.

• Chemical peels and microdermabrasion procedures are used to improve facial skin tone and texture by removing the outer most layer of epithelium which regenerates and requires maintenance treatment. Depending on the chemical used, their concentration, and the way they are applied, mild chemical peels can create a very superficial skin exfoliation and produce an overall improved appearance, with short recovery and low risk, but the rejuvenation effect may be minimal.

More invasive chemicals and higher concentrations can cause a deeper chemical burn that may result in longer lasting and significant rejuvenating effects, but  are associated with higher risk of complications and a longer healing time. Similarly, microdermabrasion improves skin texture by mechanically removing the outer layer of epithelium with less down time and lower risk. The rejuvenation effects are less compared to the more invasive dermabrasion procedure, which removes deeper layers of epithelium. Dermabrasion may result in significant improvement with longer lasting results, but with longer healing time and higher risks.

• Laser hair removal can effectively reduce hair but typically requires maintenance treatment. The laser light is absorbed by the dark pigment of the hair that generates heat and destroys the hair follicle, thereby, inhibiting hair growth. The lighter the skin, the darker the hair, and the more coarse the hair, the better the results, and the lower the risk. However, patients with darker skin color have an increased risk of sustaining a burn due to the absorption of the laser light by the pigmented skin; therefore, adjustments to the laser energy must be made to prevent this problem.

The ideal rejuvenation treatment should be safe, affordable, have a short recovery period, and should achieve a long lasting, predictable and excellent result. Many of the minimally invasive procedures have limited indications for rejuvenation and cosmetic enhancement. As new technologies and products evolve, minimally invasive treatments may replace surgical procedures in the future. 

Dr. Lambros Viennas serves as Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at the Eastern Virginia Medical School. His clinical interests include all facets of cosmetic surgery including facial rejuvenation, breast enhancement, and body contouring.

There are two types of sexual harassment. People who have experienced the first type may not realize the huge psychological impact of the second type.

Perpetrators of the first type of sexual harassment are seen as pests, teases, or irritants. They don’t have power over you, and you can easily reject them. They back off when you tell them to, and if you threaten to get them in trouble, they straighten up. Their behavior doesn’t affect your sense of self-worth.

In this first kind of harassment, you have all the power. Saying no means no. They may persist to a point, but you still feel safe because you know that if you put your foot down, they would stop. They might even be embarrassed or sorry if you told them they were making you uncomfortable.

But the second type of harassment is different. It gets in a person’s psyche and stays there like a troll. The person can’t remember the incident without feeling bad. Whenever that memory is recalled, all the person wants is for it never to have happened.

This kind of harassment is aggressive, intimidating, and bullying. It has its roots in a large power imbalance. Clinically speaking, this second type of harassment qualifies as sexual and emotional abuse. These harassers give people a yucky sensation, a creepy feeling that comes from being exposed to someone who is profoundly psychologically unhealthy. People don’t feel safe around them because they make them feel like prey. Even when a person gets away from them, there is an uneasy feeling that they could somehow reach out and do more harm. A person’s boundaries have been so badly breeched she or he no longer feels safe.

No wonder the victims of this second type of sexual harassment remember things vividly so many years later. The experience is indelible and immediate no matter how much time has passed.

To be forced—physically or psychologically—is an intrinsically humiliating experience. To be treated this way by another human being is shocking to the soul. This sudden loss of power is so stunning it can send people into a freeze response in which they cannot fight or flee. In that state, they may appear to go along with the abuse, but nothing could be further from the truth. They freeze up because a deeply animal part of their brain tells them they are already in the grip of the predator, and the best defense is to play dead and avoid further injury.

People who abuse other people are by definition emotionally stunted. They have no restraining empathy for other people’s suffering. Abusers are also so egocentric they are convinced at some level that their targets secretly find them charismatic and irresistible. Their own distortions are all the permission they need.

In spite of their power or position, abusers have low self-esteem and are likely to subconsciously see themselves as repulsive. Many of them were abuse victims themselves. But when they degrade someone else, they feel momentarily free of their own self-disgust. This transfer of self-revulsion can infuse their victims with unwarranted shame, as if they did something wrong. Secrecy makes the victim carry shame that the sexual harasser has tried to get rid of through abusing someone else.

If the abuser is an admired figure, the victim irrationally may feel embarrassed and have a hard time labeling the behavior as abuse. In fact, it seems impossible the perpetrator could’ve acted that way. Too often victims fear they won’t be believed because they can hardly believe it themselves. But if the culture says, “We believe you, and that was abuse,” traumatized people can reactivate themselves and speak out.

Coming forward publically in a receptive, accepting community can aid recovery by sending the shame back to the perpetrator. When we listen compassionately to these abused men and women, the gift of our belief helps them heal. Once the larger culture supports a victim’s right to come forward, that person is no longer a victim. That person can once again act on her or his own behalf. By declaring what the abuser did, the person makes clear who should be ashamed and who really matters here. After living with a sense of humiliation, sometimes for years, the recipients of abuse now realize it’s not an identity they have to accept.

Telling the secret in a me-too forum frees the victim from the abuser’s unresolved shame and puts it back where it belongs. When we listen and understand the impact of sexual harassment, we are helping more than we can possibly imagine. By seeing these dynamics of power and abuse for what they are, we can literally change the power balance in the world. Every time we are willing to listen to a victim’s truth, the posturing of powerful people can no longer blind us to what’s going on. 

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