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An Interview with Jimanekia – A Trauma Specialist & Sex Educator

28 April 2020

Jimanekia is a Trauma Specialist & Sex Educator, and this month’s Vibin’ On You feature!

We interviewed Jimanekia about her important work with survivors and how to be kind to yourself & others during this incredibly challenging time.

An interview with Trauma Specialist and Sex Educator Jimanekia

Hi Jimanekia! We’re huge fans of your work, and love that you refer to yourself as a “Trauma Specialist.” Can you explain what that moniker means?

Jimanekia: In the world of sexuality education, there are many folks that have certain focuses on what they do and what they create. My focus of work is with those that have endured trauma. Specifically, sexual trauma.

I have been in the mental health field for 12 years. I did part of my undergrad in criminal justice and finished with a degree in psychology. For grad school, I went into being a therapist and walked out with a Masters in health psychology. I have done most of my research in the area of trauma.

So, trauma is kind of my jam and I thrive in supporting folks int hat capacity. Funny as it is, calling myself a specialist or an expert used to really make me cringe. As I always knew that calling yourself that was something special. And made it real, it meant that I was really doing my dream work.

“Tending The Garden” has been your baby for a while, and we’re so bummed you had to postpone it. Can you talk a little bit about why you created Tending The Garden, and why it’s so important to hold space for WOC (women of color), especially, when it comes to sexual trauma?

Jimanekia: I created Tending The Garden because there were no healing spaces that I could find that were specifically healing for femmes of color. I wanna note that we also wanted to make sure that we were super inclusive and that we are not the gatekeepers for what and who a woman is. So that is why we stated that it was for femmes of color.

I think it is so important to be able to heal with folks that look like you and get your journey. Oftentimes, we are placed in spaces that are not intentionally created for us. We are an afterthought and/or we end up having to teach other people things. I did not want that, I wanted to give folks a place to come in and exhale and receive the healing that they deserve. Oftentimes, our population is overlooked and overworked, it is not fair.

[With Tending The Garden,] I wanted to create a space where it was equal. Femmes of color would be there to receive their healing and the teachers are folks that look like them and have had similar journeys. This allows them that space to just be.

The world is obviously in the middle of a crisis unlike any other we’ve experienced. What advice would you give for people that are feeling especially triggered by PTSD right now?

Jimanekia: Everything is sooo wild right now and it is not in our control. At all. What I would say to those that are having things come up; That is very normal, and I do not want you to feel like you are too much.

As for some tools, I would say try and create a schedule for yourself. So that you have something that is consistent that you can lean on. And create a space/ a bag/ a box something where you can have some grounding tools for yourself.

This looks different to all folks: Stones, sand, certain songs, specific scents, breathing techniques that you like. Get your tools ready for when these intense feelings come up. This is going to be a wild ride we are on and we do not have an end date. But, we can take care of ourselves to our best capacity.

You talk a lot about deserving, finding, and maintaining peace. What are some small ways people can work towards a feeling of peace in such an uncertain time?

Jimanekia: Oh, that is such a beautiful question. First, knowing that we all deserve it. No reason not to, we deserve to be happy, healthy, and to find pleasure in our bodies. Because YOU DESERVE! Things may be uncertain, that is true, but if we are gonna make it through, give yourself some “fuck it” time.

You can do this in a few ways; schedule it out, or just do it on the whim. Do something that makes you feel good; eating yummy foods, a bath, self-massage, masturbation, reading a book, cooking. Think of things that you can do by yourself and for yourself. Not having to rely on others also allows you some peace because you are doing it on your own time and energy.

And acknowledge that things are hard around us. Yes, a lot of us continue to work through things and can deal. But acknowledgment and being honest with ourselves is also something that we can do to get through this. Figure out YOUR grounding techniques that allow you to feel in your own body. That can be peaceful as well. You deserve to maintain, you deserve to have happy moments even when things around us are not certain.

What’s your biggest advice for folks that might be interested in getting into your line of work?

Jimanekia: I actually just recorded an episode on my new podcast Gems with Jim about how I got into the biz. There are so many different aspects of my work. And not all of them are play parties and lubes. You have to really love what you are doing and be doing it for the right reasons.

If you want to get rich and/or you want to change people, this work is not for you. If you are a survivor yourself and think that you can help people but honestly have not fully addressed your own trauma, this work is not for you. This work is hard and personal things are going to come up while working with individuals. So, it’s important to have worked on healing and learning skills. This has been so helpful for me, and needed.

I will say if you really want to do the work that I do, do some research, see what is out there. And see if you are interested in that, or do you see something is missing? I created my work because it was missing in the sexuality education field. Not trauma support, that is a thing. But, my background, the way I approach trauma support, and how I handle it is uniquely mine. You have to be able to have tough skin because the work is hard and sometimes folks in trauma states will lash out at you.

If you can, work underneath someone that has been doing the work for a while or in a facility. I got some of my best education working in mental health facilities. And last but not least, be patient with yourself. You are going to have great days and you are going to have really trying days. But, the work is so worth it. And like I always say, growth comes in uncomfortable spaces, and you got this.

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“Community” might look a bit different right now, but a support system can be vital for survivors of sexual trauma — Here’s how to ask for help, or bet there for a friend who might need it.

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