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Huffington Post Blog

I gave Huffington Post a snapshot of my life for their working poor series:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-leyba/single-mom-working-poor_b_48618...

Notorious and prolific hate mail writer Sharon Kass decided to target me as a result, and I'm not entirely sure why. Single moms are easy targets, I suppose. It quickly opened my eyes to the possibility of cyber bullying and harassment, and I'm currently researching how to protect my online presence.

I knew that judgmental commentary would occur, so trying to keep my head high and brush it off. I really appreciated this piece by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/opinion/sunday/kristof-the-compassion-...

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

Comments

kellyannaustin's picture

thank you

CreativeBeth,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with World Pulse. Your ability to keep putting one foot in front of another despite diversity is so admirable! I'd love to learn more about your thoughts and reflections on cyber bullying. That might make a nice op-ed piece that would fit in nicely with our current campaign, Women Weave the Web. I hope you'll go to our site, http://worldpulse.com/campaigns/www, to learn more! You might especially be interested in the Lynn Syms Prize, a $20,000 prize for combining activism and digital tools.

Wishing you strength and peace,

Kelly

milliej7's picture

Great stuff!

Well done Creative Beth. You are not only brave and admirable, but also human. What we need at the moment are "normal stories" - those which reflect the struggles of citizens who are fighting often unseen battles.

Recently, there has been a series on British TV called "Benefits Street". (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/12/benefits-street-pov...)
Unfortunately the people on the programme seem to have been subject to a huge backlash on behalf of the public. I'm sure the idea of the programme originated in the idea that telling peoples' stories who live on the poverty line might help others to understand. In reality this programme seems to have sparked even more hatred and has been accused of distorting reality.

I mention this because I was sad to hear about the negative backlash you received because of your piece. Pieces like yours are needed if peoples' attitudes to poverty are going to change. If nobody talks about the "hidden poverty" which exists these days, nothing will change and people will continue to judge something they have no idea about.

I have heard your situation described by many, including my own Mother who was a single mother of three and struggled to provide for us. She struggled, but survived. She needed help at one time, we lived in a council house and she was given benefits, but like you she didn't settle for that. She worked and educated herself (at 40 she went to University) and provided her children with nutritious food throughout our childhood.

I grew up with a role model of a woman who was independent, determined and didn't give up. When I read your story, I thought of my mother. I have no doubt that you are role model for your two daughters.

By using your voice you are also a role model for women all over the world. Keep up the good work. You are making a difference.

Jumi's picture

Such a brave woman

You're such a brave woman, CreativeBeth. Thanks for speaking up and putting yourself out there on behalf of many women who may find it hard to share their stories. The bullies should be ashamed of themselves.

documama's picture

Cyber Bullying is cowardice

Creative Beth, Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry that this woman has decided to bully you online, I am sure that was a shocking result to your opening up, and very hurtful. You were brave enough to put yourself out there and share your experience. It sounds like you are working incredibly hard to make a better life for you and your kids and that is so admirable. It could be any one of us in your shoes. This brings up an interesting point about opening yourself and your family up to be vulnerable by sharing online. Hold your head up high, know that you are a good person doing your best. Ignore the critics!

Elizabeth

kati.mayfield's picture

Compassion Gap

Dear Beth,

Thank you for sharing your story, and Mr. Kristof's compelling article. I appreciate the line he writes, "There is an income gap in America, but just as important is a compassion gap."

As I see it, the only way to narrow that compassion gap is for people to continue writing candid, truthful and thoughtful accounts of their lives, just as you have done.

I look forward to reading more,

-Kati

*resolved this year to think twice and to smile twice before doing anything*

RosemaryC's picture

Writing another story

Dear creativebeth:
Thanks for sharing your voice, and keep on speaking up. I know that speaking up, especially on a topic which is so shame-bound for so many Americans, makes you a lightning rod for those who can't or won't examine their own beliefs about how society should - and does - work. For many people, your voice is a challenge to so many of their deeply held beliefs about the importance of 'independence' - and their reaction is a measure of how deeply that challenge is felt, even if not acknowledged consciously.
But also know, please, that when you speak up, you make it possible for so many others to speak up and tell the stories of their lives. And that moves us closer and closer to understanding that we are 'interdependent' - that there is strength (not shame) in reaching out to each other for help and support. And it seems to me, when I read about your volunteer work, that 'interdependence' is your voice of how society should work. That we are all part of each other, and that what we do to others we do to ourselves. You are helping to write a new story, shape a new narrative.
I don't know if you have read John Bradshaw's work on shame. If not, I do recommend that you have a look for it.
I found his writing many years ago, when I was trying to understand my life. He helped me understand how feelings of shame make people voiceless.
I was doing this exploration work with a friend. Her father was an alcoholic, my mother had experienced mental illness for many years. There were so many things we did not understand, and could not speak about in our families, let alone in public. We made the journey together, over many years. I always thought she was much braver than I.
There came a time when she was willing to speak about growing up with an alcoholic father - at a shelter house meeting - and how it had affected her, and how she had chosen to deal with it, and why she was speaking publicly. I remember that she called me, after the speech was reported on the radio, and said she felt naked. (We lived in a small community, in a region where people all knew one another or knew of one another.)
What she did not expect was the number of people who subsequently came up to her and told her stories that they had never told to anyone else. She began to realize that by overcoming her own feelings of shame, and sharing her story, she had become a leader. Her voice mattered. She began to encourage other community leaders to speak up, to share the stories of their lives - to speak of what they often felt most shamed of. Cutting through these feelings of shame was incredibly powerful and freeing for so many people; it made healing possible.
Wishing you courage and strength,
Rosemary

muhorakeye's picture

Tu es une femme courageuse,

Tu es une femme courageuse, CreativeBeth. Merci pour partage votre histoire ,tu es une bonne exemple parce que beaucoup de femmes trouver le difficile de partager leurs histoires.apatir de ton histoirevtrès interessante beaucoup des femmes peut trouve le courage de partager leurs histoire merci et courage

Muhorakeye Esperance

creativebeth's picture

Thank you all so much!

Thank you so much for your encouraging and heartfelt comments. They mean so much, and give me strength to continue speaking out.

Rosemary, I will definitely check out John Bradshaw's work. I am a huge fan of Brené Brown's work on shame and vulnerability. She often says that vulnerability is courage, and I couldn't agree more.

I have always believed strongly in being my authentic self and sharing my truth so that I may help others. We have so much in common which we may never realize if we don't speak up.

Thank you, sisters, for your uplifting words.

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