Q&A with Tomieka Daniel

August 28, 2013 

Tomieka Daniel

Q&A with Tomieka Daniel

City of Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Supervising attorney, Georgia Legal Services Project

QUESTION: You’ve put together Secrets & Stilettos: Saving Our Sisters. What’s it about?

ANSWER: It’s a domestic violence information and prevention program for girls and women from 3-5 p.m. on Sept. 7. We’re addressing other issues girls and women face like sexual exploitation. It’s going to be a fun, girls afternoon out.

QUESTION: Those aren’t exactly “fun” topics.

ANSWER: That’s why we’re purposefully making it fun and a little light. We want to remove the stigma and make it an enjoyable event where you can still learn.

QUESTION: Who’s invited?

ANSWER: All girls and women 13 and up. It’s great for school teachers and counselors, church youth group leaders, sororities, mothers and daughters -- everybody.

QUESTION: You say mothers and daughters, so it has a family aspect?

ANSWER: We don’t shy away from sensitive issues but address them in a sensitive way, so yes, it’s family oriented. It’s funny. So many parents say they don’t want their children to know about these things, but the fact is, their kids could tell them a thing or two. Our digital-age kids know a lot more about violence and abuse, sexting and related issues than their parents. We want to bring people together to get good information to spark conversations at home and among friends. It could help them or their friends who might be in abusive situations now or in the future.

QUESTION: So it’s not just for victims?

ANSWER: Absolutely not. You’re not identifying as a victim if you come, you’re identifying as someone who cares. But sure, victims are welcome and can get help. Some may come and find out they’re victims.

QUESTION: Explain that.

ANSWER: In my work, I speak to youth and groups around the state, and all too often a girl will come up and say, “You mean it’s wrong if they treat me this way?”

In our culture a lot of girls, a lot of young girls and women, think the way they’re treated is OK when really it’s abuse. Media and culture have made abuse, violence and what some women are made to do sound common and OK, but it is absolutely not OK. I’ve had a girl as young as 11 talk to me about being a victim of date violence, which is one of the things we address.

QUESTION: You mentioned your work, what is it?

ANSWER: Georgia Legal Services is a nonprofit, statewide law firm that represents low-income and elderly clients in civil cases. I also speak in schools around the state.

QUESTION: What will the afternoon be like? Is it free?

ANSWER: It is free, but I ask people RSVP me by Friday at 478-751-6500 ext. 6260 to let me know they’re coming. Or email tdaniel@glsp.org.

We’ll have door prizes, food vendors and make-up people as well as access to social services. We have a wonderful nationally renowned speaker, Lisa Williams, who was a victim of sexual exploitation and now has founded Living Water for Girls.

QUESTION: The event isn’t all your doing. You have sponsors.

ANSWER: It’s sponsored by the Flint Energies Foundation, Georgia Legal Services and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. It grew out of my work and being an Alpha Kappa Alpha. We’ve done it for two years, and I’ve bummed donations off a lot of my lawyer friends to put it together. We have a lot of community members and organizations helping out.

QUESTION: Location?

ANSWER: The Galleria Conference Center at Houston County Galleria mall in Centerville and again, Sept 7, 3 to 5 (p.m.).

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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