How Broadly Staff Gets Through a Day Like Today
Thursday's Senate Judiciary hearing is part of an unrelenting news cycle centered on allegations of sexual violence against women. Here's how Broadly's coping.
Mark Wilson for Getty Images/Broadly
If you had a hard time getting out of bed this morning, you're not alone.
Today Christine Blasey Ford appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who she says sexually assaulted her as a teenager, when they were at a high school party more than three decades ago. Despite Ford being the only woman testifying at today's hearing, she's just one of multiple women who have accused Kavanaugh of either committing sexual abuse himself, or helping to facilitate it, by drugging and preying on women at their most vulnerable.
Kavanaugh's alleged behavior has produced an unrelenting news cycle, with the course of a single day bringing countless harrowing stories of sexual violence and, with them, a cacophony of voices insisting that the women sharing them are liars.
But this is not another place to read about the allegations against Kavanaugh or the response to them. Instead, this is a space to talk about how to get through a day like today—a day that tests the limits of our ability to swallow accounts of sexual assault before we vomit them up.
Here's how Broadly's writers and editors answered the question: "How do you get through a day like today?"
Danielle Kwateng, senior culture editor
I breathe—literally. I take a breath and just calm down. Then I think about how there’s power in solidarity by working in a newsroom with like-minded women. We all understand the importance of putting out factual, humanistic work that can impact so many people. There is freedom and beauty in truth-telling and we do that every day by being a reflection of disenfranchised communities. And so I breathe, then I relish in my awesome community, and then I write.
Sara David, culture editor
I spend all day feeling pulled by a magnetically grotesque other, like I'm tip-toeing around the Dead Marshes of Middle-earth. In a precarious state like this, I must either be at my sharpest, mind like a book and eyes like a mirror, or recklessly cavalier. Since acuity requires opening myself up like the wound I am, I choose recklessness. I self-medicate and seek pleasure in excess: I play one cheery song on repeat all day and make impulse trips to see my best friends. I am embarrassingly direct about my need for affection, demanding just one more cup of instant coffee, a kiss on the forehead.
I numb my brain with mundane tasks and feel awed when I get through the day. I wonder how I'll ever survive another, but feel a rush of relief when I realize I've already survived the worst of it. Today and tomorrow are a fading polaroid of that grotesque thing—and I expedite its deterioration by leaving it out in the sun. I let myself feel wonder at what I've lived, and from that, I harvest a particular respect for myself, a deep trust in my ability to live, or rather survive, life. I think about what my dance teacher said when she turned off the lights and asked us to close our eyes: "You've been swimming in gravity since before you were born. Every cell in your body knows which way is down."
Marie Solis, staff writer
As Broadly's politics writer, I've written close to 20 stories about Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, beginning with reports on his anti-abortion views, and ending with the multiple allegations of sexual assault against him. Writing about sexual assault—even when it's difficult—is how, in my small way, I can hold perpetrators accountable for their alleged misdeeds and give victims a voice. And often there are bright spots in reporting these stories, like when Leila and I asked 17-year-olds about Kavanaugh and consent, and they told us their vision for how the world could be different.
Leila Ettachfini, assistant editor
When I wake up everyday and stupidly open the internet, often before I'm even fully awake (bad, I know), it can feel like I've been stomped all over with the world's dirtiest metal boots before my feet have even touched the ground. I've always known that evil exists, but to see it so blatant, so emboldened, so supported, so proud of its ignorance everyday by the people with the power and authority to take evil thought in this country and turn it into action is frankly terrifying.
So when I'm forced to confront pure evil in our country's president, our senators, our rape-apologists, our racists, our Islamophobes, and every other form of hatred that exists inside people before I've fully opened my eyes, I find comfort in the people who match every ounce of hate in America with pounds of good. For me, those people are often my family members, who are never more than a FaceTime away. They're also women like Anita Hill, who I look up to and think if Anita Hill got through 1991, we'll get through 2018.
You have to dig a little deeper today to find good in the world, but it’s here. And on the days where I swear it's gone missing, an order of curly fries and mozzarella sticks dipped in ranch never fail me.
Diana Tourjée, staff writer and host
Working in media alongside a diverse group of women who are devoted to covering issues related to our experiences as women, as people of color, and transgender individuals, is a source of pride in my life. During my career I have seen the personal toll this work takes when so many stories expose the injustice of society. Being here is hard. Confronting sick social truths can inflame deep, permanent wounds.
On a daily basis my colleagues and I have to process difficult feelings and traumas that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. When that becomes too much—when staring at the news, or writing about the very social issues that have affected us, hurts so badly that I don’t know how to continue doing it—I do a triage on my day. I step back as far as I can from the issue to take care of myself. That can mean closing my laptop for an hour, or a day. I find comfort in totally disconnecting from reality through films or television, by ordering McDonald’s delivery, or crying in the bathroom. I write an angsty poem in my folder for angsty poems that will never be read by anyone but me. I talk to my colleagues, I talk to my friends. I read the emails I have received from people whose lives have been affected by my work, and they help me to remember the greater purpose in what I do.
None of this is enough; it can’t uproot the trauma. But over my three years at Broadly, I have consistently been revitalized by community and personal self-care. So for at least today, I know that we can find a way to get through this together. Part of that has been having to accept that the personal issues we face today may never go away, but that if we stay together and prioritize personal wellness—they don’t have to be our masters.
Angie Jaime, senior social editor
Breaking up with social media is often prescribed as practical form of self care. Delete your account. Remove the apps from your phone. Limit screen-time at night. For better or worse, this isn't an option for social media editors, community managers, and producers of all stripes that work to bring you the news you need in a way readers and viewers can easily consume and understand. And so, I turn to social media's greener pastures, the pockets of community that, time and time again serve to uplift me, inspire me, provide a moment's escape from the turmoil of our world and within my own mind. I find solace in the complexity of art and expression that happens in such small snippets of content, a whole universe of emotion captured in an image or selection of words—the modern poetry that's exchanged from person to person through a digital expanse of time and space.
Lindsay Schrupp, editor-in-chief
In high school, for a while, I couldn't get out of bed. At some point, my brother decided that enough was enough. He picked me up and carried me to his beat-up Honda. He rolled down the window, and drove through town. I felt the cool air on my face as we drove, through a drive-through, I'm sure, but I'm not sure what else. The entire time, he was there with me, but left me alone with my thoughts. After some time, he drove me back home, and I went back to bed.
I think about that time on days like today—when the world can feel paralyzingly hopeless, when headline after headline forces you to relive your trauma, when you watch from a tiny screen as others endure far worse in the national spotlight. If we cannot remove ourselves entirely from the daily barrage of news, how can we still create some small amount of distance for ourselves? I think about that drive in high school, and try to give myself a moment of pause that is mine alone.
And then, I go back to working with a team of dedicated, thoughtful individuals who tell the stories of those working to change the world for the better, as well as the stories that highlight the work that still needs to be done. I also know that on days like this I may end up back in bed at the end of it all, and that's okay, too.
Amy Rose Spiegel, senior editorI don’t feel right at all. To maintain the ability to do much of anything besides feel not-right, I make lists and phone calls, flatten the undersides of my feet on the floor, clean my desk, eat peanut butter M&Ms, give to RAINN—empirical things I can see, hear, and do. This is because I submit, so frequently, to the power of might-as-well: If I’m going to feel like hell either which way, I’d rather feel like hell and find a way to get something non-hellish done in the process. That usually makes me feel, if not better, fixed within my life more comfortably.
A part of being able to pull this off is looking around me to notice how, whatever happens today, nothing about my particular immediate world will change, at least right away. (I notice, also, that I am very lucky.) I’m alive—breathing and thinking and cleaning my desk—and, still right here, here’s this beautiful world with the people I love in it. I should probably give them a call to see how they are. I might as well edit this next essay. I will absolutely be giving to RAINN.
Sarah Burke, editor
This morning, I cried before I got out of bed. I let myself be slow in the shower, getting ready. And when I got in my car, instead of listening to The Daily like a good, informed journalist, I played a mixed-tape that an old friend made for me and screamed along to punk classics the whole way to work. It sounds like a cheesy scene from a movie, I know, but it helps—at least for me. Once at work, I have the immense privilege of knowing my colleagues will understand if I cry at my desk today, or if I need to log off at any point. I’ve struggled a lot throughout my career with feeling like perhaps I’m too soft or sensitive to be a real reporter, but they’ve helped me realize that making space for hurt and sensitivity on days like today is not only OK, it’s extremely valuable; and at the end of the day, with each other’s help, we’ll still get the job done well and with compassion.
If you need someone to talk to about an experience with sexual abuse you can call the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network's hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673), where trained staff can provide you with support, information, advice, or a referral.