Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Happy Day to All.... My name is Brandie Gonzalez and I am a Survivor! I would like to share some of my story today in hopes that it would inspire someone else to set themselves Free!.... Free from the hurt, the pain and Most importantly.... Free from yourself and the thoughts that replay over and over in your mind. You are Beautiful, You are Worthy and you Deserve to be Happy.... Truly!!
My story starts to over a decade ago, back to a Time when I thought I was in Love, Love Honey... or at least at that time, I thought that was the definition of Real Love. So young and just learning... wanting to feel accepted and cherished. I was so Wrapped around this guy, that, I not only gave him a piece of me... I treated him like he was “My God”... now I know that was a bold statement, but it’s true. I would have done any and everything for him. I cherished the ground he walked on. Over the years, I knew and made his favorite foods, placed his clothes out for his showers, I would lie, steal, diss friends to stay with him and everything, completely losing myself.... on the outside looking In, one would think that we were So Happy and Perfect.. I mean, I had literally mastered the art of looking Happy to a T! With My mind screaming, “where’s my Oscar for pretending everything’s okay?!” But, behind closed doors, there was cheating, mental abuse, physical abuse, black eye and even more of the unimaginable. Being spit on...I still remember wiping the spit from his mouth off my face with tears running down my cheeks ..... I remember a time where I fought back and he pinned me down and jammed his knee in my chest so hard that the underwire from my bra broke leaving scratches under my left breast, right by my heart, then having a Queen bed placed over my body and just yelling for help with barely any strength to move. I still see these scars each time I get undressed and look at my bare body... I just remind myself that these are just apart of my story...my “war wounds” if you will. I ended up leaving and parting ways after realizing how toxic the relationship was... to only years later... get into Another relationship with mental abuse and Lies and physical abuse as well. This time, I really just wanted something to last. I had the mind state of “I’m stronger now and no one will ever hurt me again. This time, it will last because I know better. So I’ll do better?... right?!... Wrong. Let me stop right here and say this... If you don’t deal with the deep rooted hurt and lessons the first time, you’ll be put in the same situation again and again until you learn what you were suppose to learn the first time. I settled and I lower my standards and there I was... back in toxic again... I found myself Being punched in the jaw in-front of my child. I just stood there holding my face. I Couldn’t even get a word out. I didn’t even try to defend myself. I just stood there... I cried in my car and went home. My jaw swole up and I didn’t leave my home or answer Any calls for 3 days straight. That moment brought me deeper into My Bubble. I forced myself into this lonely space for years. Sulking in my hurt and guilt for not doing better as I knew. I then got angry.. with myself for years. I ended up hating myself and giving up on myself. I didn’t trust me or my decisions..I mean how could I? I didn’t stand up for Me.. not like I thought I should have if ever put in the situation again...Not wanting to be around family, my 2 Beautiful and Amazing daughters, friends and feeling unimportant and even trying to take my own life... its taken me almost 6 years Single to learn to love me again, to learn to Trust Me again. I found the deepest, darkest and most scariest parts of myself and started there... right In the midst of it all and realized that I am the light! I started listening to positive affirmations. Started writing more. I began singing more which is My first love. I realized that during this time that no matter how cliche it sounds.... that I have literally survived everything sent my way to stop me. I am suppose to be here and you are too! I am Divine energy and I am Limitless. I started talking to myself in the mirror. Thinking positive thoughts. Learning Me and Continuing to find out who I am... eating healthier, taking walks, Watching what I say out my mouth about my own self and making sure that I am now, a solid example for myself and for my daughters as well. I would like to encourage you to not only dig deep with yourself and love Yourself more but to also get your feelings out. Whether it’s writing a note and burning it as a symbol of healing, or speaking in person, whatever it may be... just make sure you heal. Its the single and most necessary factor to moving on and living your Best Life. You really can’t skip the process.
I just want to say, Thank You for allowing me to share my story a bit. I hope that through some of my experiences, you can see that you’re not alone. That You realize, You have a purpose and that you just may be helping the very next person by opening your heart and being vulnerable.... this was so scary sharing this, but if I can help One person.... just One...My Heart is Full. One day, I’ll share my stories through my music, speak and help people all over the World tap into their greatness.
I love you,
Hi I’m Venus Chandler and I am a survivor of childhood trauma and this is a piece of my story.
I was born to A 14, year old girl who completely trusted the world. She was lost and did not know her way. As a result, I became the victim of mental, physical, sexual abuse as well as neglect, etc.
As early as I can remember I had started being molested by multiple people men and women. I had been molested by my mother’s and aunt’s boyfriends. I was also sexually molested by neighbors, family and friends of the family.
As a teenager my mother’s mental illness had overcome her and one day, she decided to pack her things, have me walk her to the Trailways (now Greyhound) bus station and she left. My mom moved to another city and changed her name. My siblings and I ended up in the children’s home and foster care as a result of my mother leaving.
Around this time, I started hating myself and blamed myself for my mother going away. I used to tell myself if she would come back, I would be the best kid ever. I would never give her another problem as long as she did not leave. I had become so depressed and even tried to take my life but I was unsuccessful.
Me and my sister ended up going to live with a relative who her husband was one of the people who had molested me earlier in my childhood. When we moved there, the abuse started again and this time with my baby sister. My uncle would remind me on a daily basis how ugly I was, how unwanted and unloved I was. I could not understand why no one believed me when I told these things was happening to me and my sister. For a long time, I believed what my uncle said about me and that was burned in my brain for many years to come.
I ended up meeting, marrying and having children with my kid’s father but he was an abuser. My then husband started physically abusing me very early on in the marriage and I lost a child as a result of being beat. My son Terrance was born on the 4th of July and died one month later. Eventually, the beatings escalated. One night he beat me so bad and choked me until I stopped breathing. I felt something jerk me up and I took off running. As I ran screaming for help all I could see is blood everywhere and a very chaotic seen. The paramedics were called and he was arrested. Later I found out that a neighbor heard me being beat and came downstairs from the upstairs apartment, kicked the door in and snatched me up and she then called 911.
Eventually, I had enough of the hurt and pain of being abused and left husband and turned to the streets. These traumas ended up leading me down a very dark path. I started drinking heavily, partying, neglecting my children and used prostitution as a way of supporting me and my children. I did this for many, many years.
Eventually, I found God and that was the start of a very long path of changing my life. Many other things happened in between then and now but eventually I changed my life.
Today, I am happy, healthy, whole and love myself beyond measure. I have become an Author of a book called “A Silent Scream, My Story, My Truth.” I am now a Life Coach, Speaker and Childhood Trauma Advocate. I share my story all over the world and anywhere I go because I know that there is someone out there who have suffered the same traumas and had an effect on their life in a bad way. I want to show them that there are other alternatives and that you do not have to allow your past to define your future. I want to show them how to use their voice to find their power and reclaim their lives. Thank you for taking the time to read my story, thank you for giving people like me this platform to use our voice and thank you for allowing me to hopefully use this platform to help save, change or empower another life.
During my teenage and young adult years, I have experienced a wide spectrum of emotions post-trauma. I have since learned not only the importance of loving oneself, but maintains that love for yourself when it’s seems nearly impossible or perhaps more challenging due to life’s demands and identities we carry throughout our lifetime.
As you may know by now, one of the hardest things I have experienced in life has been my experience of sexual assault. Being raped by anyone is a difficult and taxing experience for anyone. Having gone through that experience, I have had to learn to adopt a “new normal.” I have had to learn and accept that my life will never be the same because of that moment but I can learn to adjust, adapt, and become stronger for it.
I was forced to live life differently, primarily in fear until I took steps towards my healing, then in trusting myself. I learned to forgive myself, rebuke the guilt and self-blame and accept that I needed help! Yes, I needed help—I was not taking my diabetic medication because somewhere deep inside of me I stopped caring about myself all together.
I was questioning so much around me including my decisions and relationships. “How was I able to remain loyal to everyone around me, but my self?” I realized than that I had to put me first; and begin making healthier decisions. I had begun with my mind, and renewing it daily from the lies that lay in my head to the truth that “I did matter and that there was much more than my painful past dictating my present and future.”
For so many years, seven years to be exact, I lived in numbing emotional and mental pain. I look back and think, “How can I let seconds maybe a minute that cause so much pain take over my life for so many years...snap out of it Cristal!!!”
Many of us including myself can attest to pain that is deeper than just an experience or one isolated event. The type of pain that could have sent you into shock and knock you unconscious, that silent pain, that hidden pain that live in some of us and no one knows about... it’s is unbelievably debilitating to say the least. And it was time to love me again.
I had to trust myself to move forward in order to see love and loyalty in my life again. I had treat myself like I would any other relationship outside of me. As silly as it may sound, I had to get in a relationship with my self, be committed to loving me again. Becoming loyal to me again started by acknowledging that I wasn’t. I had to step outside of my mind and situation and see what I was and wasn’t doing to love a healthier life (i.e taking my medication). Making small decisions every single day that agrees with your promise for better days instead of your past will collectively add to more love for self, and in turn, love for those around you.
Looking back at the progress you have made post-trauma challenges, and demands survivors like us to look at where we are now, and where we use to be. Looking back doesn't mean you didn't let go, it could be the catalyst you need to continue the journey of loving more of you in this new season.
To the survivor who is still picking up the pieces. To the sister, husband, partner or friend still learning how to support those suffering; to the advocates and educators...we applaud you. We are in awe of the growing community of people who reach out and share their stories or feel compelled to listen to ours. We are honored to sit at this table with you. The one where all of the messes interlaced with implications of abuse, and toxic masculinity lay out for all to see. The table set, where we are forced to face the ugly truths in our society is exactly where we should be. The moments this year that forced your to DEAL are not in vain. The painful memories, and triggers that sent you back only rekindled a deeper fire in you to passionately pursue your honor and love again.
The future ahead might be a little unclear, but we are encouraged to walk this journey towards healing with you all. We are essentially still learning about ourselves "out load." So thank you for giving us room to unravel where we see fit. As we pray on where God wants our platform to go, we hope you'll be there to receive our truths in relation to your own. Wherever you are on the journey, we are with you. We eagerly anticipate the new year a head. The conversations around sexual assault in this country alone are encouraging to us, as we know that though difficult to process, are completely necessary to see the positive changes in our culture.
We are hopeful, and we thank you for coming on this journey with us--2018 has been a whirlwind of highs and lows. but with everything, we are still here. For that, we thank Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior for being our guide and counselor. We are just beginning, and the future looks bright. <3
With love and solidarity,
Devin Marie and Cristal Lowe
This year was a year of honesty for me. I had to honestly asses my feelings and triggers when I thought I was done with that phase of healing. I'm continuously learning and being patient with myself through a process I wish was a lot more clear-cut. God is teaching me that there is no blue print here. (Trust me, if there was, I would have been slinging copies left and right).
I'm okay with admitting that this past October I was in a really weird funk. A lot of my feelings as an advocate for sexual assault were questioned when I began to feel more down than usual. I felt entirely outside of my body while trying to love it in the light of the Kavanaugh hearings. This was a time I guarded my heart from consuming too much content that would upset me, but my humanness showed through. I cried, I was frustrated, and old feelings began to ensue as more and more testimonies surfaced. All I could think about was, now what? With all of this excess of information, what are we to do as a culture. How do we educate, heal, and love our society towards better understanding the complexities within rape culture?
I was incredibly overwhelmed. I didn't want to do much with the blog because of it. Thankfully, I had some great mentors and friends who checked in--ya'll are the REAL MVP's haha... I needed a space for myself away from giving so much. I needed to be okay with me first, and i think that is something I am going to be continue to discover and advocate for while educating the masses on the issues related to rape culture. I have been made even more aware looking back on this year, and I hope to walk courageously down a path of transparency throughout the continuation of this self-love journey.
With love and solidarity,
1 John 4:19 We love because God first loved us.
As this year is coming to an end. I would like to expand a bit more on a subject that we will continue to advocate for in the future. I am learning more than ever the greater importance of self-love, a subject we covered earlier this year.
The holiday's often suggest that love is expressed most effectively by how much you can do for another person. What you can buy them or where you can take them, etc. But if trauma has taught me anything, it is that showing love in its most genuine and authentic way is how you show love towards yourself.
Self-love is an area I am constantly working on, especially now being a mother of three beautiful babies. As I think back on my journey, I ignored the fact that I too needed to show up for myself with the same effort i put towards showing up for everyone else. I often catch myself in giving so much in others that I forget to reflect on whether I am distracting myself from other issues, or if I'm being filled up while filling up those that I love.
There is nothing wrong with giving, there is certainty nothing wrong with extending love to those you know need it. It is however a disservice to yourself not recognizing that you are equally as deserving as the time and effort spent on making others happy. This is especially critical to assess while healing, as we often feel like our baggage, and issues are too much to handle all at once, so we put our hearts to good use. We engross ourselves in other people's issues to distract from the pieces still needing mending in our lives. I gave my time to friends and even strangers to help them but at the same time to block my hurt and sorrow in order to forget that I too was broken.
It is true what they say you must love your self first in order for others to love you how you deserve to be loved because it is in that moment, giving becomes less depleting. Giving love becomes not only natural to share with others, but to also receive from them as well. Remember it is okay to love yourself and to embrace yourself on your journey. It is okay to say no and not apologize for it. It is okay to change your mind, and to find different ways of exercising your peace and happiness. It is not easy but I am learning life is becoming better when love is the center of it all, and love for your self only permeates more as being the lasting force that keeps you going through the more challenging times.
We are ending this incredible year with some more incredible news...Our co-founder, Cristal Lowe just recently welcomed a new addition to her family, Ms. Kiara Sky. We are overjoyed to share the news that both mommy and daughter are healthy and in good spirits!
We are also continuing on sharing the love with our favorite highlights from this year. 2018 has invited so many incredible opportunities for us here at Herstory. Cristal and myself are indebted to each and every person who has contributed to our growth as mentors, and sister-survivors.
While there is much work to be done, we want to continue to leave this platform open for encouragement and healing for those still affected by a past they are still coming to terms with. Surviving sexual assault is something we will continue to speak on in a space that we created especially for YOU! Our goal is to continue to find new ways to approach topics related to sexual assault from a place of love, strength, and empowerment.
This month, we are taking a glance at all the topics we have loved to share with you all the most, and dig a little deeper in moments we look forward to speaking on in the upcoming year!
Until then and with love,
Devin and Cristal <3
As we almost reach the end of 2018 I would like to thank God our Lord and savior for giving my sis Devin and I the strength to keep going. The moments when we felt like “Lord, not today...” or the times we felt completely depleted. I continue to praise God for allowing us to see through His eyes; looking at circumstances in the spirit and not the natural, and for keeping us humble through the process. I can speak for both Devin and I when I say THANK YOU to all of YOU. Thank you to our supporters to he survivors who have come forward and the allies we have gained through sharing our truths! The support and feedback you extend to us further empowers us to continue the race.
This journey while healing is not easy but it's worth every step and every tear ever shed towards fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. While we still have steps ahead to reach our full destiny we pray and reflect over Colossians 4:2 which simply says,
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Our devotion towards our inward work has given us the capacity to help others, and we couldn’t be more humbled by this walk. No matter how long the journey, we encourage you to take this one step at a time. We are all navigating new territory, and we couldn’t do it without each and everyone one of you. So to progress, and forever blooming into the fullness of life God intended for each and everyone one of us, let us never stop sharing, growing, and healing forward.
Two very grateful sisters,
Cristal and Devin
I couldn't bring myself to utter the words; and they were escaping my parting lips, warm tears streamed down my face as I fell to the alter. "Thank you God."
"Thank you for saving me, and keeping me from my end."
Rape was suppose to end me, it nearly was. It shuttered my ideals of a beautiful world. My romanticism around love, relationships, and people shattered abruptly as someone I trusted took advantage of the only body my spirit has known to occupy.
I was broken. I was moving forward in life in pieces. And if I am honest, the only this that could seal those gaps merging my pain into purpose was gratitude. Giving thanks gave back the years, the tears, the anger and confusion that all too often comes post-sexual trauma.
How can one live in gratitude when dealing with so much pain? Some might even call it insensitive when speaking of tragedy and trauma. My response is that there is no perfect time or moment, and there is certainly no short cuts towards healing.Rather, it is a path you walk motivated by choices. I can recall those subtle but impactful moments early on in my journey towards healing. Those earlier years when the choice to forgive or hold onto hostility was a constant daily struggle. There was nothing much I had to hold onto, except the notion that I was alive, and survived. "So...now what?"
Now...I have a choice. I can live with the perpetuation of this painful experience and memory or I change the narrative. The chapter you just lived may not change, but we have the opportunity to turn the page. Turning the page doesn't mean you ignore what has happened. Turning the page is a choice. What gave me the strength to turn the page of a painful past, was gratitude.
At the alter of my church, on the cold floor of my bathroom tile, in the bed buried my head in pillows , in the car approaching my campus, in the conference room of my job, I was thanking God for keeping me. I was thanking God for keeping me in my right mind, for surrounding me with people (that knew of my experience) who were patient, loving and supportive. I began to thank God more frequently for strength I knew I could only receive through Him. I was weaker than I ever felt emotionally, and mentally, but as 2 Corinthians 12 8-10 states, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I look towards exercising gratitude daily as the key component to activating God's strength in my life. There are times I will admit, I was faking it until I made it... There were moments I would say thanks with a hardened heart. But bit by bit, God started chipping away at the pain and mending what was broken. Little by little, the act of giving thanks became more and more genuine. Gratitude filtered the ugly truth I had experienced so that the next chapters I walked into would invite more healing, and purpose beyond the painful stories of my past.
I implore you to begin to thank God for where you are INSPITE of what chapters you've already lived through. The pages will write themselves, and every day you will see gratitude give back to your life what the once tried to take. This is your story, and I'm confident in telling you seven years after my personal trauma, gratitude will help shape that
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.