Sunday, November 11

Blogging For Hope: Jane Sweat, JerichoMonster

Stop Verbal Abuse


Barbara Sweat (aka Jericho Saved/Jane), who publishes the JerichoMonster blog, never intended to become a popular television blogger (“Best TV Blogger,” in fact, after winning a recent contest held at Hey! Nielsen, where she took first place).

Originally, she was inspired to blog because of her love for the CBS series Jericho, which became the fastest television show cancellation reversal in history after fans sent more than 40,000 pounds of nuts to CBS (among other things). Her blog was one of many that increased awareness about the cancellation protest. A short second season is expected in January.

Sweat is still a dedicated fan, but her blog has since evolved from covering one show to covering many shows and topics. Now, she frequently interviews fans, bloggers, journalists, critics, production crew members, and celebrities.

Recently, she also participated as one of the 10,000 bloggers who contributed to the Bloggers Unite social awareness campaign organized by BlogCatalog. The challenge called for an end to abuse. (The blogger was allowed to choose the type of abuse.)

“I felt and feel that verbal abuse is a very important topic to discuss even though it may be uncomfortable,” says Sweat. “Exposing all types of abuse allows bloggers to reach people who may feel helpless and hopeless. Using JerichoMonster, I felt, was a way to reach people who may visit my blog, never expecting to find a topic about abuse, and who might not otherwise search for this type of information.”

Sweat says the topic is especially relevant because she had endured verbal abuse from her mother all her life. As the words and labels embedded themselves, she recognizes that they began to shape her feelings about the world and, more importantly, herself. They no longer speak.

Sweat’s Bloggers Unite post chronicles how verbal abuse sometimes escalates from put-downs under the guise of jokes into disparaging comments that aim to control, manipulate, and intimidate, leaving an impact on the victim forever. It also alternates between facts about verbal abuse and two fictional characters developed by her and her friend Beth.

The characters, Edna and Margie (who are two “elderly sisters” purported to live in Jericho), were created for Amy Vernon’s “Jericho Guest Blogger” experiment at the Remote Access TV blog. Although the characters are most often used to make observations about the fictional town as if they were part of it, Sweat thought that Edna and Margie’s conversation could drive the point home about abuse. The “voices” are their voices and the stories are very real.

“I can recall my mother, for example, telling me that I was worthless,” said Sweat. “It hurt … but if you look at the person who is verbally abusing you, you may find they are the ones who feel even more inferior.”

Sweat’s post earned second place in the Blog For Hope Post Competition, sponsored by Copywrite, Ink. in cooperation with BlogCatalog. Among the prizes, Copywrite, Ink. will be donating any proceeds from Bloggers Unite “Verbal Abuse” T-shirts to the Family Violence Protection Fund. The post helped inspire a simple design that aims to dispel the myth that names don’t hurt people.

As her writing partner Beth added: verbal abuse is one of the most overlooked forms of abuse. While there are no physical signs and it leaves no bruises that can be seen, it can damage self-esteem, especially in children when their parents and siblings represent their most trusted sources of information. Parents and siblings tend to be believed.

“It was an honor to help blog about such an important issue,” said Beth. “And I was very glad that I asked to participate in the Blogging Against Abuse contest."

Sweat says they were encouraged to blog about abuse after learning about Bloggers Unite at BlogCatalog, where she has been a member for six months. She also said that she originally joined BlogCatalog to learn about social media and how to drive more traffic to her blog.

Since, she has discovered a community of bloggers who share advice about a number of blogging issues. Participating in Bloggers Unite campaigns is especially rewarding to her. And, from what she says, she is not the only one.

“It has definitely made a difference to people who read my blog, and it has made a big difference to me,” Sweat said. “Being allowed to share my experiences has been very cathartic. I really hope those who abuse others will find the post and break the cycle.”

Sweat and her writing partner included a number of sources where victims and perpetrators can find help, counseling, and support. The judges commented that their post has the potential to touch everyone because everyone, at one time or another, is the victim of verbal abuse. In addition, we sincerely hope Sweat learns that the next step in healing is forgiving the perpetrators, which removes the power and influence of the abuser.

It also greatly aids victims in their ability to heal. And, as I sometimes remind people, we are neither the labels that others assign nor the behaviors we sometimes exhibit. The power of choice resides within us all. Excellent post. Congratulations again, Barbara.

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7 comments:

LisiBee on 11/11/07, 3:02 PM said...

Rich, what a wonderful job you've done in honoring Jane for her winning contribution to the Blog for Hope contest. She's truly an amazing woman, and I am so proud of everything she's done. I really am honored to have been a small part of this important campaign.

I really love the tee shirt design, too. It's simple, but very effective in getting its message across.

--Beth

Rich on 11/11/07, 3:05 PM said...

Thanks Beth, and congratulations to you too!

I really admire your work as well, whether it's with Edna and Margie or a number of those YouTube videos I recently watched.

In terms of the thank you, keep in mind, it's always easy when you have great subjects. Meaning you and our friend Jane. :)

All my best,
Rich

terocious on 11/11/07, 3:28 PM said...

Thank You Rich For a great post about Jane and Beth. I am proud to know them both and to consider them friends. As for Margie and Edna this post really opened up another side of them proving that you just never know where your creations will take you. I am glad they continue to bring their creations to us.

Jericho Saved on 11/11/07, 4:30 PM said...

Thanks Rich. Great job. My thanks, also, to BlogCatalog for the opportunity to connect with people I otherwise would never have met.

Lisibee, you are amazing!I'm also proud of you and am always honored to work with you.

Terocious, you're a kind man and a valued friend. Thank you for your support.

Teresa Rothaar on 11/11/07, 6:01 PM said...

I have been remiss in my reading. I had no idea any of this was going on even as I "outed" myself as an abuse survivor this morning.

Thank you for raising awareness of this, Jane. Anyone who thinks verbal abuse is no big deal should have spent a day living with the monsters who abused me.

Jericho Saved on 11/11/07, 6:20 PM said...

Thank you for sharing,Teresa, and I admire what it takes to be able to do that.
Perhaps people like us who have slain the monsters can help others.
There's always hope.

Rich on 11/12/07, 11:10 AM said...

Teresa,

Thank you for sharing your experiences. Your post is an amazing exercise in healing and transparency.

I can only hope that it will allow other people to fearlessly express themselves in the face of abuse. And then, over time, help them forgive the abusers for its often their own ignorance that guides them.

All my best,
Rich

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