In The News


NBC News

From Mary Retta’s article in NBC News, Derek Chauvin Trial Is Another Media Spectacle That Causes Trauma Rather Than Healing.

This record is why some experts, such as Wayne State University professor and trauma researcher Jennifer Gomez, see the trial process as creating distress that can be better addressed elsewhere.

“Regardless of what happens in the court case, radical healing within the Black community is still possible,” she told me. “Radical healing — as something that is not predicated on what police or courts do — is something that Black people, as individuals and a community, can give themselves and each other.”

Gomez is referring to a framework put forth by the Psychology of Radical Healing Collective, which argues that through practices like intergenerational storytelling and advocacy work, we can address the root causes of racial trauma and promote resilience and better emotional well-being.

April 2021

Michigan Opera Theatre at Home

In Conversation: “Arts & Healing: Part 2“: Continuation of Part 1 (see below)- In living through times of crisis globally and personally, the arts offer opportunities for connection, catharsis, wellness, and healing.

A conversation with Michigan Opera Theatre’s Director of Education, Andrea Scobie, researchers/professors Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez, Dr. Jessica Lopez Lyman, Dr. Sara A. Ramirez, and world renowned ballet dancer, Brooklyn Mack.

“From a trauma perspective and thinking about sexual violence…rape…our bodies are taken over, taken away, so the thought about having to be fully in your body…is very vulnerable and also has taught us that it’s dangerous…like ‘when you’re in your body, bad stuff happens’….So, re-learning, re-healing…at your own pace, your own time, not forcing yourself, not perpetrating against yourself, but trusting that vulnerability and how beautiful it can be to really be in your body, and having the arts as a way to heal…mind, body, soul, and spirit. Especially from things that have taken over our bodies and minds and souls and spirits through violence.”—Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez

March 2021

Michigan Opera Theatre at Home

In Conversation: “Arts & Healing: Part 1“: In living through times of crisis globally and personally, the arts offer opportunities for connection, catharsis, wellness, and healing.

A conversation with Michigan Opera Theatre’s Director of Education, Andrea Scobie, researchers/professors Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez, Dr. Jessica Lopez Lyman, Dr. Sara A. Ramirez, and world renowned ballet dancer, Brooklyn Mack.

“Trauma and harm….like racism, is long lasting, sexual abuse happens over and over and over again for so long…Examples {for healing} are ballets…like Spartacus…with Carlos Acosta {who is Afro-Cuban} performing it…in Bolshoi {Ballet}….An opening scene where he’s just been imprisoned and just has the shackles on him. And he is coming to the realization of what it means to be enslaved and oppressed, and it’s so unnatural to be oppressed. I’ve shown that in many classes when I talk about what is racism. It’s this. It’s this confusion, it’s unfair…..I think of the same in a ballet like Manon where the title character, who I saw, it was played by Tamara Rojo out of Royal Ballet years ago…..the vast sexualization and sexism that she experienced from lots of people, including her brother, who used her…..Ballets like this, ballets like South African Suite from Dance Theatre of Harlem’s rep….I feel more human as I watch and re-watch these ballets, and {I} see a reflection of life for what it is, as well as a reflection of hope for what life could be.”–Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez

March 2021

Detroit Free Press

From Alia E. Dastagirl’s article in the Detroit Free Press, Some People Don’t Believe Meghan Was Suicidal. Why That’s So Dangerous.

“Trauma is hard to grapple with,” said Jennifer Gómez, a psychology professor at Wayne State University. “It is difficult to hold in our minds that we live in a world depraved enough for rape and violence to be as common as it is. It can be easier to deny that reality – perhaps especially for people who are less likely to experience such traumas, such as white, straight, rich, cis men.”

March 2021

USA Today

Interviewed for Alia E. Dastagirl’s article in USA Today, Andrew Cuomo and The Spectrum of Sexual Abuse: Why These Accusations Matter.

“For the allegations with Cuomo, it can be tempting to think, ‘Well, it’s just a couple of comments. Can’t she take it? Can’t she handle it?’ Part of that defensiveness can come from the culture just being that bad that many men have probably done this. And some women too, and it’s hard to see ourselves in that light,” said Jennifer Gómez, a psychology professor at Wayne State University. “We’ve all probably witnessed this happen … and so it’s hard for us to accept that we’ve either done the harm or been a witness to harm, and to grapple with what that means for ourselves as perpetrators, as victims, as bystanders.”

Gómez said research shows sexual harassment that’s ongoing can have mental health impacts just as severe as a discrete and more violent form of sexual violence such as rape. 

Gómez said some of Cuomo’s behavior can be understood in the context of microaggressions – the persistent, subtle blows that affect marginalized groups, which public health experts say can affect long-term health and contribute to higher rates of mortality and depression.

“It’s the accumulation of these things that are really harmful, that are really testing,” Gómez said. 

Equal access to opportunity, she said, isn’t just about getting your foot in the door. It’s about what happens when you’re inside. 

“We have to examine our colleagues, our coworkers, ourselves,” Gómez said. “As long as we deny the existence of these behaviors, or in this case, the impact of them … we aren’t doing anything to make the world a fairer place.” 

March 2021

We, As Ourselves

We, As Ourselvesis a collaborative campaign led by​ ‘me too.’ International​National Women’s Law Center​, and TIME’SUP Foundation​ to change the conversation about sexual violence and its impact on Black communities. The organizations are working together to create spaces where Black survivors can safely share their stories and experiences, upend behaviors and cultural narratives that harm and silence Black survivors, and build new practices where Black survivors are believed, heard, and supported.

It’s time to get real about the cycle of stereotypical, biased, racist, and sexist narratives that perpetuate violence in Black communities, and for more of us to engage in new models of care, consent, and accountability. We believe that we can end sexual violence in the Black community by openly addressing the harms inflicted upon women, girls, gender nonconforming and trans survivors.

Watch A Love Letter to Black Survivors, a 2-minute video to show love for those who have been shut out, silenced, and scrutinized. Our letter is a recommitment to supporting survivors, and an invitation to our communities to do the same. Featuring:

Lila Bernard (visual artist), Tarana Burke (activist/founder of the MeToo Movement), Dr. Kali D. Cyrus (psychiatrist/strategist), Dr. Robyn L. Gobin (clinical psychologist/researcher/professor), Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez (trauma psychologist/researcher/professor), Fatima Goss Graves (President/CEO National Women’s Law Center), Tamron Hall (journalist/talk show host), Michelle Hurd (actress), Valerie Jarrett (Senior Advisor to former U.S. President Obama), Alexia Norton Jones (activist), Barbara Lee (Congressperson), Dayna Lynne North (TV executive producer), Agunda Okeyo (writer/filmmaker/activist), Ashlee Marie Preston (journalist/activist/editor-in-chief), Leslie Silva (actress), Jurnee Smollett (actress), Crystal Dunn Soubrier (professional soccer player), Salamishah Tillet (feminist activist/scholar/writer), Scheherazade Tillet (visual artist), & Gabrielle Union-Wade (actress).

Take the pledge! #WeAsOurselves #metoo #TIMESUP #NWLC

February 2021

Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) at Home

In Conversation: “Passage”: A new ballet from Dance Theatre of Harlem that is a moving reflection on the fortitude of the human spirit, created in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to Virginia in 1619.

A conversation with Passage choreographer, Claudia Schreier and composer, Jessie Montgomery, with moderator Jennifer M Gómez, Ph.D.

“What he {Arthur Mitchell} would always tell us was ‘We carry a mantle greater than ourselves’….This isn’t about me as an individual, this is about all of us….It is kind of hopeful to think that the things that we do and the things we are fighting for can live beyond us. And the people coming up behind us can carry the torch.”–Dr. Jennifer M Gómez

February 2021

The Lily, Washington Post

Interviewed for Julianne McShane’s article in The Lily, a product of the Washington Post, In Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, These Survivors Found A Voice: ‘I Felt With Her The Deeply Vulnerable Pain of Telling Someone’.

By drawing parallels between her experiences as a survivor of both sexual assault and the attempted insurrection, Ocasio-Cortez also distilled the essence of what constitutes abuse, said Jennifer Gómez, a trauma psychologist and assistant professor at Wayne State University.

“If you’re thinking about what is trauma, what makes certain events traumatic, it’s having this power over people,” Gómez said. “In the [attempted] insurrection, the same thing is happening: Power is being taken away, as AOC is saying, in a disproportionate and discriminatory manner.”

And for survivors who have a “negative disclosure” experience — with someone who denies their experience — it’s crucial that they try not to internalize it, Gómez added.

“Another person’s negative response is not your fault — that’s an important one to remember,” she said.

Gómez added that survivors who have not yet shared their stories could start by journaling: “You don’t have to worry if the response is going to be negative, and you get to have some of the healing mechanisms of sharing.”

When it comes to deciding to share stories with other people, survivors may also opt to “sprinkle in smaller disclosures” before revealing their own experiences to determine if they can trust who they’re thinking of opening up to.

As Gómez put it: “Don’t give the full big doozy if you’re not sure — maybe tell a story about Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, giving a talk about what she experienced, and see how that person responds.”

For those on the other side of the equation — the people survivors come to with their stories — both Gómez and Cook pointed to guidelines for “compassionate listening”compiled by Jennifer Freyd, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon. These guidelines recommend that listeners make consistent eye contact with survivors, don’t change the subject and don’t pass judgment, among other measures.

February 2021

USA Today

Interviewed for Alia E. Dastagirl’s article in USA Today, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Trauma, & Why Survivors Can’t Just ‘Move On’.

“(Sexual assault) is a violation that takes their power away … The insurrection also is very deliberately and explicitly taking power away, with harm directed at specific targets, like women of color, more than others, like white men,” said Jennifer Gómez, a psychology professor at Wayne State University. “AOC, and all the many others who have experienced violence, is reacting normally to extreme events. The links between sexual assault and the insurrection, in particular, are profound.”

“Abusers demand silence,” Gómez said. “The trouble is such a silence mandate is crazy-making for people who experience the violence and who see the world for what it is: a place that includes such violence just as much as it includes joy.”

February 2021

Forbes Magazine

Interviewed for Jessica Gold’s article in Forbes Magazine8 Things Mental Health Experts Want You To Know On World Mental Health Day

“According to Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development (MPSI) at Wayne State University, having good mental health does not mean you are happy all of the time. She pointed out that a wide range of emotions from sadness to anger to grief are “integral parts to being alive.” Listing many triggers in our environment including Covid-19 and police violence, Dr. Gómez noted that reacting happily after experiencing any of those things directly or indirectly would be abnormal. She added, ‘If you’re struggling, there’s nothing inherently wrong with you.’”

October 2020

Count 9 Podcast: From Ballerina to Professor

Interviewed by Ben Goodly for his Count 9 podcast regarding the career transition from professional ballet dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlemto the academic career as an assistant professor, researcher, and trauma psychologist at Wayne State University.

What I learned “…direct from Mr. Mitchell: buck against the system. Of just you cannot, cannot wait for things to be equal enough and for oppression to be eradicated. And wait for me to walk in the room as a Black woman and have people assume I’m a professor before I get up to speak. I cannot wait for those things to happen. I have to just do it anyways. And I think it’s the biggest lesson from him and then from what he’s done with Dance Theatre of Harlem, that you just do it anyways. And when you’re doing it anyways, change is happening. Things do become more equal by your presence of just kind of pretending that you belong and that people want you here. Even when you’re not sure that’s true, because of racism or sexism.”–Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez

September 2020

NBC News

Interviewed for Danielle Campoamor’s article in NBC NewsCoronavirus Catcalling Is Real. Mask or No Mask, Harassment Is All About Power

“’Street harassment, like all forms of sexual and gender violence, are fundamentally about power and reinforcing inequality,’ Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez, a trauma psychologist and assistant professor in psychology at Wayne State University, said. ‘Sexualizing a woman or girl in public through street harassment reduces her to an object for others’ consumption. Meaning, she is stripped of her full humanity and instead reduced to simply a physical or sexual thing whose purpose is men’s pleasure.’”

July 2020

Shape Magazine

Interviewed for Mallory Creveling’s article in Shape MagazineHow to Tap Into Your 5 Senses to Find Peace and Be Present:

“‘[Grounding techniques] help to remind you physically and physiologically of where you are,’ says Jennifer M. Gómez, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of psychology and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development at Wayne State University. ‘It’s like a release—a switch to turn off the light on all the stress and to be in a place of less chatter and anxiety.’…Gómez and Exelbert both say those who’ve experienced trauma, such as sexual assault or police violence or aggression, may benefit most from this grounding technique. That’s why it could be especially helpful right now, for anyone who’s witnessing police brutality and biases in real-time on TV, and it’s causing them to re-live a past experience. ‘There can be times where you have flashbacks, a sort of movie re-playing in your head of the same event, so even though the event stopped, you might re-experience it like it’s new,’ explains Gómez. ‘Thinking about what you’re seeing, hearing, or smelling gets you into the present,’ and out of the re-play.”

July 2020

HuffPost

Interviewed for Jenna Birch’s article in Huffington PostWhat Not To Stay To Someone Who Has Experienced Racial Trauma:

“You can think of racial trauma as the psychological and physical impacts of racism, both interpersonal and structural, according to Jennifer M. Gómez, assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University and a faculty member at the university’s Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development. Acts that can trigger racial trauma range from slurs and open discrimination to health care disparities and police profiling, Gómez said. Racial trauma has ‘similar outcomes to domestic violence, like depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, PTSD, insomnia, physical health problems, the gamut,’ she explained.”

July 2020

Forbes Magazine

Interviewed for Jessica Gold’s article in Forbes MagazineFeeling Anxious About Wearing A Mask? Here Are 5 Ways To Overcome It:

“Dr. Gómez says for some people with a history of trauma, like sexual abuse in childhood or domestic violence, wearing a mask may remind them of the trauma. For example, for someone who during a sexual assault was unable to breathe because the perpetrator was covering their mouth and nose, when they put on a mask, it can bring up that same fear and fright, even if they are not consciously thinking about their sexual assault. According to Dr. Gómez, ‘the body remembers such traumas implicitly. So, again, your body is overreacting because it thinks you’re unsafe and it wants you to do something about it.’ Your body is simply protecting you…Dr. Gómez adds ‘being uncomfortable, scared, or triggered is nothing to be ashamed of. All we can ask for from ourselves is to try our best. And you, your safety, and the safety of others is worth your trying and re-trying to teach your body that the mask is safe to wear.’”

July 2020 

Newsweek

Interviewed for Joan Cook’s article in NewsweekThe Black Lives Matter Protests Are Running on Much More Than Anger

“The tragedies that we’re witnessing are neither new nor isolated. And, of note, they haven’t stopped, even though videos have made it possible for the world to be watching and condemning the government-sanctioned violence against black people in the U.S. The difference is this moral elevation, this action-oriented hope, that has resulted in so many of us coming together to fight for justice. And, at long last, for some of us to finally listen and bear witness to the anti-black hate and violence that so many of us for so many years have been sharing without being believed…What should be completely depressing engenders action-oriented hope…When truth of depravity is finally acknowledged, we discover avenues for enacting change on large and small scales. Witnessing those actions in ourselves and others gives us this moral elevation that makes life worthier of living.”

June 2020

Forbes Magazine

Interviewed for Jessica Gold’s article in Forbes MagazineHow To Protect Your Mental Health Even While Watching The News

“Dr. Gómez notes that while we generally ‘need’ to be informed, we do not ‘need’ to have our sleep interrupted, to watch videos of violence and murder, or to only know of the bad things that are happening in the world. In fact, she believes we watch and keep watching, in some way looking for hope or positive news, especially currently. She adds, ‘the need for hope is perhaps stronger than any other need we think we have for staying informed.’”

June 2020

InStyle Magazine

Interviewed for Kylie Gilbert’s and Alexandra Whittaker’s article in InStyle MagazineHow To Tell Your Boss You Need A Mental Health Day:

“Today, we again find ourselves living in a similar time of high-profile agony, from the million cuts of a work colleague remarking, in disbelief, that, as a Black person, you speak so well, to Black people getting beaten and killed in the streets and their homes with impunity…Though these realities are even older than the United States of America itself, the weight of the injustices, including deaths, can reach a level so toxic that taking care of our souls, spirits, psyches, minds, and bodies must take priority…We can fit a mental health day into a…piece that works for us.”–Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez

June 2020

InStyle Magazine

Interviewed for Kylie Gilbert’s article in InStyle MagazineHow To Check In On Your Black Friends & Coworkers:

“The onslaught of media and videos showing threats, beatings, and murders can be overwhelmingly painful. Because racist violence is not new, some Black people have learned how to cover up their ongoing fears, stress, and mental health problems related to racism…Reaching out is about opening a door of communication. It is up to the other person if, when, and how they’d like to go through that door with you…Remember: racism divides us. Humble, genuine solidarity can reunite us.”–Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez

June 2020

CNN Business

Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez was interviewed by Julia Carpenter for her CNN Business article, Serena Williams’ Nike ad exposes the double standards women face at work

“Women in the workplace are tasked with the additional work of managing these perceptions, Gómez says.

“So much time is spent worrying adapting your speech and figuring out what to say and how you can say it differently and that is taking away from time and energy and effort for your job,” she says. “It’s a job for you to figure out ‘how can I say this in this meeting without people painting me in this emotion corner?’ and I think the trap with that is that it’s not in the woman’s control.”

25 February 2019

CNN Business

Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez was interviewed by Julia Carpenter for her CNN Business article, Minority employees are often asked to work double-duty.

This “double shift” is common in many workplaces. White, cisgender or straight colleagues may be fearful of accidentally saying the wrong thing. So instead, they task employees of different races, backgrounds or sexual orientations with the “diversity work” that otherwise wouldn’t get done.

“I don’t think people realize how much emotional time it takes and how much physical time it takes,” says Jennifer Gómez, . . . Wayne State University. “I believe that oftentimes it’s seen as ‘It’s not my issue. I’m a white person. Racism isn’t my issue. It’s not about me. It’s about those people over there.’ and really, diversity and equity is everyone’s responsibility.”

November 2018

CNN Money

Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez was interviewed by Julia Carpenter for her CNN Money article, The ‘Emotional Tax’ Afflicting Women of Color at Work.

This is where offices and managers can step in to lift the burden, experts say. The first step is focusing on retention as well as recruitment.

“Don’t just focus on getting people here, but listening when they are here,” Gómez says. “Sometimes in the workplace it can be ‘OK, we have two women of color on staff, they’re gonna be in charge of the diversity committee and they’re gonna fix it.’ If we want to make this workplace one that isn’t rife with racism, sexism, and sexual harassment, then it’s all of our jobs.”

March 2018

WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY

Wayne State University Graduate School Newsletter

Featured in Wayne State University Graduate School Newsletter,Professor Studies Unique Harm of Cultural Betrayal

“‘Interpersonal violence, including child sexual abuse, bullying, domestic violence, and rape, happen to and around kids, at points in their lives that are fundamental to shaping who they are, who they will become, and what they believe the world to be,’ Gómez said, a trauma psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development (MPSI). ‘On a societal level, the protection of children and adolescents is lacking, as evidenced by the U.S.’ refusal to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).” The U.S. is the only member state of the United Nations that has not ratified the treaty.’”

December 2020

Wayne State University Graduate School article

“Being a PFT fellow is truly a dream job for me as a junior researcher who wants to make my career at Wayne State,” says Gómez. The Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship will support her work in developing and validating a culturally sensitive measure of CBTT on black emergent adults. “Known as the Cultural Betrayal Multidimensional Inventory,” she explains, “this measure will engender needed research on mental health and personal growth in black people who experience both violence and discrimination.”

March 2018

Wayne State University Spotlight 

Featured in the Wayne State University Spotlight on Postdoctoral Scholar Series for Cultural Betrayal Trauma Theory

December 2017

Imprints

Work featured in article, “New Trauma Theory Examines Cultural Betrayal” in the Wayne State University Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute newsletter, Imprints.

“Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez, MPSI’s new post-doctoral fellow, has revealed yet another critical factor: cultural betrayal. . . ‘If a Black woman is raped by a Black man, the racial loyalty is also disrupted. A member of her ‘group’ has turned on her,’ Dr. Gómez said. These effects happen in ethnic minority groups, because years of racial oppression by ‘outsiders’ can foster deep loyalty between members. Members unite for support, validation and a sense of community. This circle of trust can be protective and secure. When within-group violence between members breaks this (intra)cultural trust, though, the effects of this cultural betrayal trauma can intensify. The victim may feel shunned by the group that used to protect her. She may have no safe haven, no one to trust.”

November 2017

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