Friday, April 10, 2015

Tell a New Story

As I was washing my hands, my boyfriend walks in the bathroom and says, "Happy Birthday". I'd just woke up so I was still half delusional and thought, "Wait, it's September?" lol

He remembered. Today is SASSU's birthday. Today, my baby turned 5 years old! Time sure does fly. Today I celebrate 5 years of growth, strength and resilience with SASSU. I celebrate 5 years of sharing my story with and providing service to communities, churches and schools but I also celebrate 9 years of being a survivor.

In August 2008, I experienced the most traumatic day of my life. A piece of me was violated. It took me a while to recover from it, too. Some days I remember so clearly what happened and it makes me sad but that's okay. Part of being a survivor of Sexual Violence is giving yourself permission to have the not-so good days but never allowing yourself to stay there. Love yourself all the way through it but actually move THROUGH it.

Last year, around this same time, I filmed a documentary about my rape. I re-visited the place where my rape took place and filmed a documentary in hopes of sharing my story with the masses in a way that would encourage and inspire them to stand up and speak out. That documentary was never released due to...well, due to procrastination of the guy who filmed it- there's no other way to put it. So I ended up getting the footage from him and when I watched it back I wasn't happy with what I saw. It wasn't the way I wanted people to see me. I didn't want to tell my story in that way. I seemed broken. It was so emotional for me to watch and not in a way that was liberating. It seemed as though I'd gone completely backwards and that was not the plan. I wanted my story to represent power. After all, it takes being able to tap into your power to go back to the exact place where your face had been hit by your attacker with a gun and your hands were bloody from the rocks on the ground and my soul was numb. My soul was numb for a while. But that isn't the story I wanted to tell.

"I am going to keep going back to that same place. I am going to walk my power all over it. I'm going to keep going back and filming my story until I tell it in a way that feeds my soul and the soul of everyone that will see it."

I wanted to tell a story of victory. I wanted to tell a story of triumph. I wanted women and men who'd see my documentary to know that they have the POWER to look fear, shame, guilt, doubt, worry and depression in the face and say I'm DONE! I'm done allowing you to control my life. I'm done allowing you to keep me from living and loving. I am powerful. I am not ashamed. I am beautiful and loved. I am a survivor.

So, today I tell a different story. Last week, I went back to the place where my rape happened and I attempted to film a short message but it was so windy that it ultimately turned out to be footage that I couldn't use. I am going to keep going back to that same place. I am going to walk my power all over it. I'm going to keep going back and filming my story until I tell it in a way that feeds my soul and the soul of everyone that will see it.

What I've realized is that I can choose at any given time to tell a different story than the one I've been telling. What happened to me was sad. It was traumatic. It was hard to get over and some days I have triggers that remind me of that horrible thing that happened...BUT

Today, I choose to tell a new story of love, hope, peace and joy. I hope you choose the same.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

SAAM -Start The Conversation

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is less than a month away. During the month of April, organizations, supporters and advocates across the world come together to bring awareness to Sexual Violence.

The Sexual Assault Awareness Month-2015 campaign is all about campus sexual violence prevention. It’s a call to action to create safer campuses and brighter futures for all. Everyone has a role to play in creating change.


This campaign is a toolkit for advocates, campus personnel, students and allies. National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides materials that can be used to engage the entire community to take action to end sexual assault. There are factsheets, posters, and planning tools to get you started HERE. There are also plenty of ways to spread the word about #SAAM on social media. From the It’s time to act video to share graphics and downloads, you can help us engage communities in talking about campus sexual violence prevention.

What will you do in your home, community or workplace to raise awareness about Sexual Violence?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

SASSU Presents: Soul Moments

Join us tomorrow, Monday at 8pm as we discuss "Coping With Depression"

If you have any questions that you would like to have answered during tomorrow's discussion, you can submit them here anonymously.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Have The Power-with a capital P

We have reached the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness month so I wanted to check in. How are you going about spreading awareness?

A few weeks ago, I filmed a documentary with the help of Give Life Media about my experience with Sexual Assault in the very place that it happened. I really had every intention on going to that park and being strong. I didn't want to cry or feel sad but I did. In fact, I cried a few times (if you know me you know I am a huge cry baby) and that's OKAY. I chose to be vulnerable and reminded myself that there is strength in that. There is strength in my vulnerability. Now, I know that for some people that may seem to be a bit much;to go back to the place where something so traumatic happened. For me, that seemed PERFECT. No, it was  IS perfect.  To go back to the place where a man, a stranger who knows nothing of my awesome-ness (yes, that's a word ;-)) tried to violate my Spirit is POWERFUL. I took my Power back and no matter who you are and what you are going through, you have the right and the will to take your Power back, too. All you have to do is DECIDE! I cannot wait to share this journey with you! In the meantime, what are YOU going to do?
Photo is courtesy of Give Life Media. To see more of their work click HERE

There is still time for you to participate. The  National Sexual Violence Resource Center has created fun, interactive and effective ways to spread awareness about Sexual Violence and to show your support. Feel free to join in.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I am my Sister-Karyn Washington, Suicide and Me

People need us and we need people.

I wanted to take a moment aside from my efforts to raise awareness surrounding Sexual Assault and talk about this.

I just saw a post on Facebook that Karyn Washington, founder of "For Brown Girls" has transitioned. For Brown Girls is a blog that empowers women across the world to embrace their beautiful Black skin. She's also responsible for the #BlackSkinRedLip project. Though I have heard of Karyn prior to her passing through, I didn't know much about her.  I came across Ty Alexander's blog about Karyn and the conversation that they shared via email due to both of their dealings with depression. Both Ty and Karyn experienced the passing of their mothers. You can read the entire blog HERE.

Anyhow, what touched me was that Ty felt as if she could have been more transparent with Karyn regarding her depression and thoughts of suicide.

We deal with this, y'all. Depression. Suicide. We, as a community, experience this but we don't talk about it.

 I can't get too deep into this because I promise you, I'd be all day but I just needed to get this little bit out of my system. My heart is hurting, for Karyn, for her family. My heart is hurting for Ty. My heart is hurting for every woman, man, child that has dealt with depression, thoughts of suicide or feeling that they are good enough or that life is not worth living. I've been there. I've been there a lot more than I'd care to admit. Being a survivor of rape has its ups and it sure as hell has it's downs. And sometimes, I, we, get caught up in portraying to the world that we are so strong that we forget to cut the shit and just be HUMAN. For me, sometimes, being an activist, a role model, a motivational speaker or the friend that listens to everyone's problems can be emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining. And wait. PAUSE. Just so you know, this post isn't for the self righteous folk. This is for the people who can be real with themselves and admit that we, as humans, go through shit. Shit that makes us feel bad an sad. It makes us doubt everything and everyone. We feel, we hurt and we don't always deal with it because dealing with it would require us actually telling the truth to ourselves about our stuff.

Just like Karyn and Ty, I used to think about suicide all of the time. I wondered if people would miss me if I was gone. My heart was hurting so bad after my rape that I often wondered what life would be like if I were no longer in it.  But we don't want to talk about this. Suicide.

Karyn, I am so sorry. I don't exactly know what led to you feeling like this life was not worth living but I can certainty imagine. Thank you for being a gift. Thank you for shining your light and empowering US to see ourselves beautiful. Your passing has inspired me to being even more transparent. I am grateful for you.

Karyn Washington

We have to start being honest about what effects us. We have to be honest with ourselves and with another if we expect to see change.

Iyanla Vanzant often says, " I am not my sister's keeper. I am my sister."

 Click here for suicide statistics

Click here to find a Crisis Center in your area