"...for the first time in a long time, I felt free."
People often ask how did I know who to turn to or open up to about my rape experience. I didn't know who I could speak to, but out of desperation I opened up to a few people. My experience varied in responses. Some left me more confused about speaking out about my experience. Sometimes the response was no response...it was as if I said nothing important, or maybe they didn't know how to react or knew what to say, but I was left thinking maybe my experience was not as bad as I thought...
After opening up to those handful of people I was close to, I definitely was not encouraged to tell anyone else. I figured I would try to not think about it and act like it never happen.
So, like many, I continued to hurt in silence; that's how I learned to deal with it. Looking back now, I realize how incredibly unhealthy that was for me; I became depressed and so broken, concealing my pain from my family until I found True Love Worship Center.
I recalled one bible study being let my Pastor Mark Jackson, the sermon was on "choosing your friends wisely " I felt the urge to share my story but afraid that once again I would just be left hurt. Suddenly, Pastor Mark asked "anyone would like to share their testimony?" I felt my heart racing as I raised my hand thinking, "oh gosh, Cristal--no. just say never mind." But I stood up and began to share my story and the importance of choosing your friends wisely I felt a sense of relief then, like I was called to be in front of people, and praying for groups of woman
Now at the moment, I knew I had share my story with the right people, that was the first time I ever shared my story my experience with more than 15 people but I felt a release, literally felt as if I had shed 10 pounds off of the heaviest burden I'd been carrying for years. It was then that God allowed me to see purpose...it was then that God allowed me too see how He could turn what was bad for good. It was THAT moment when I felt as if my voice was finally being heard.
I'm not saying your voice will only be heard at a church, but that's where my voice was first heard. Where I felt safe to speak out; that's where my healing started and can't thank True Love Worship Center for being my place of safety the place where I was able to open up and begin a healing that I had been yearning for for far too long. The first time in a long time I felt free... -Cristal
Till next week survivors and supporters;
And with lots of love, 💗
Cristal Lowe & Devin Marie
It's Friday...and I couldn't be more over-joyed! I don't know about you all...but this week had its road bumps...and a few blessings as well! First and foremost, Cristal is on leave this week due to a new edition to her beautiful family!! So I'm sending my sister TONS of love right now as she is now a mommy to a beautiful baby boy; James Xzavier Lowe💙💙
And while she recovers, we at Herstory are here to help, or at the very least remind you that you're not alone in the process of healing, growth, and self love too!
We are continuing our Speak Out & Stand Up series with a message from our very own, DevinMarie.
I met a survivor of sexual assault yesterday afternoon, and over lunch we discussed our journeys to self-love and how we got
To where we are now. (I hope to have her contribute to our page soon) until then, I wanted to share a question that we kept revisiting asked during our meeting; "How did you know WHO to turn to, in your time of need?"
Initially, my mother was by my side trough most of the process after I was raped. However, assimilating myself back into school, and socializing again was incredibly difficult. In fact, I didn't go out much...like ever. In part, I believed, if I stayed home, or away from big groups I would avoid 1) it happening again or 2) someone finding out it happened.
The hardest part after the rape for me was keeping it to myself. There is nothing...absolutely NOTHING worse in my opinion than having to suffer emotionally, physically, or mentally alone. As much as I wanted to, I never discussed that night with my mother or anyone else for years. I so wanted to put it behind me. I didn't know how to process what happened, and thought I was better off distracting myself with surface based relationships with no substance, or stay to myself.
So how did I break this cycle??
Ummm...in a nutshell....👑JESUS....!!!👑
I literally found a greater faith amidst all of the pain I was burying. I asked in my growth in my relationship with God that He would give me the discernment I needed to speak to the right people about this.
I have been lead by God to speak to certain people (women in particular), some, being complete strangers, others, acquaintances. Every single time I did, God assured me, "it would be okay."
He was right, and has been every time! 💗
After each interaction, someone shared a similar experience or one of someone they knew. In the beginning of opening up I was an emotional wreck!!
( blood rushing to my head, body warming up, my hands sweating, my voice trembling, and hesitant....eyes always gazing low.
In those moments, every single word escaping my mouth was cutting me deep--My heart couldn't beat any louder I felt every vibration in my chest.)
But as I released that pain, I felt a part of me go... the release of my former self; who I THOUGHT I was because of what I went through.
Some people still may ask "well...how did you KNOW it was God's voice telling you share your story?"
I can only say that when you invite the Holy Spirit in your life...God gives you direction you may not understand but must be obedient to...realizing now that my shared testimony was the foundation for my personal healing.
But let's be honest; Rape, is not a pretty word. I still find myself using "sexually assaulted" to water-down the ugliness attached to rape. Having gone through it and knowing how I see myself now, a SURVIVOR, people can receive my testimony with less pain now when I share my story, and hear only of God's glory. 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽
Sharing my experience with friends or family came at its own time for me, and I did it on my time. I did it when I knew I had to; even when I was incredibly fearful of what they might think of me.I always fell back on what Jesus reminds me of every day, that "no matter what your past looks like; you are mine. And I still love you the same." His love transformed me...and I'm grateful I can walk in that truth in order to share it with all of you!
So no matter where you are; STAND UP if not for anyone else, do it for you... because we are always, ALWAYS standing with you.💗👑🙏🏽
Love and light,
We're back again; and onto Part 2 from last week's post!
❤️ thank you for joining us on another week; we pray you are healing, living, and loving yourself fully as much as we strive to do everyday!
So although Cristal and myself both have shared experiences of sexual assault, our responses to it varied.
As previously mentioned, we would like disclose that these experiences though shared by many, may not have similar responses as our own. In either case, we hope that whether you choose to report, or speak out, you do so in manner that is suitable and safe for you to do so.
According to (https://www.rainn.org/) '"1 out of 5 women will experience rape or sexual assault. However, "rape is still overwhelmingly the highest underreported crime in the United States."' In addition, out of those reported, an even smaller percentage go without rape kits being tested or processed for evidence in the case of a potential prosecution.
It is a unique opportunity that Cristal and I have to share because we can both allude from first-hand what our differing experiences were like, and if we believed we made the right choice.
THIS week, we are continuing the discussion as we hear DevinMarie's experience:
Personally, making the decision to report to authorities I was raped by a former student I went to college with was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I felt however, that deep down, if I didn't, I would look back and wonder, what if he does it again, and gets away with it?
The morning after I was raped, I attempted to go to class, however, my focus was rattled with emotion, and didn't last no more than 10 minutes in lecture before I stormed out the door, to catch my breath. I was suffocated in fear, and scrambled in my perplexed mind what it was I should do...I hesitated for a moment but felt I could
call on the one person who knew when something was wrong in between the pauses of my phone call to her that morning. So, I called my mother.
We went to a Planned Parenthood conveniently located across the street from my school's campus. The great thing about Planned Parenthood is they are sworn to anonymity when a patient comes in, especially a rape survivor.
I felt safe there for the most part, and was asked a series of questions, but to be honest, it was all a blur.
A nurse sat me in a private room, and I immediately took the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy from the assault.
I honestly don't remember how the police intially got involved, but my memory is a bit spotty from a day I wish I could completely erase from my memory but here it goes anyways:
Two male officers came and asked if I wanted to report the rape.
"So tell us what happened here..." one of them
I spent the next hour, of what seemed like a complete eternity of what felt more like an interrogation.
A woman officer came on the scene after, set me aside, and said "IF you press charges...we can lock in him for good, and you won't have to be bothered with him again." "We're gunna get this guy, don't YOU worry..." they assured me.
In that moment; the decision was up to me. Right then I saw two doors, the one with regret if I didn't report, and the other one of reassurance that these officers were going to save the day, and rescue me out of this fiery hell I have experienced...or at the very least, prevent it from happening to another.
While I was driven in a police car with my mother to the nearest hospital, the officers took the former student into custody.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the hospital where CIA followed, and proceeded to administer the rape kit.
**Essentially, this is point in which DNA Is taken from the survivor to use as evidence for the prosecution.**
A representative from a rape crisis center was there who couldn't be more than 25 years old who assured me "I'll be right here the whole time..."
The nurse asked me to disrobe completely, by then, a member from the CIA took photographs where bruising and marks were on my body. I can remember looking down almost relieved that the purple and blue discoloration from my abdomen, hips and arms confirmed that I wasn't crazy. That this rabbit whole I've fallen into wasn't a dream but REAL. That I didn't have to prove anything else because it was right there in candid Polaroids.
I then proceeded to lay on a hospital bed flat on my back, legs spread apart. The nurse had an assortment of metal tools and Cotton swabs used to collect DNA from myself and the hopes also from the man who raped me.
I will spare the details here, not because I don't think you should know them, but because at this point in writing, my peace needs to stay at the forefront, and I'm here to profess healing always.
But...before the healing came a lot of pain. More so because for first time I felt truly alone. My gracious mother sat in the waiting room while her 18 year old Daughter stared up and while fluorescent lights as the warmest tears fell silently praying this hospital bed could turn into a cloud and I float somewhere closer to the stars.
"How did I get here?" I thought. And will I ever leave these four white walls?
Later that evening I went home, and I don't remember much about the ride there except a flash of memory of me in the shower washing that entire day off of me. I scrubbed as hard as my skin could stand. Maybe...just maybe then I could get him completely off of me.
I took a week off from returning to my classes with note saying I had a flu or some made-up illness. I had to lie to my father and say the same thing... and continued to do so 6 years after that day.
I returned back to campus feeling maybe I could restart again, and focus back on my studies. Until one day, in the middle of the quad, there he was. Standing with a group of football players and Into a million pieces my heart broke and sunk to the pit of my stomach.
"This can't be real...I must be dreaming"
I called the detective who took over my case and was told "sorry ms. But it looks like he DA (district attorney) dropped the case."
"Okay..did they say why?" And why wasn't I notified about this?!"
"I'm Sorry, it happens a lot unfortunately but the DA has to prove to 12 jurors that without a shadow of doubt that man did this to you...and there simply wasn't enough evidence to prove that, and see it through that he get convicted and go to jail."
But it wasn't so simple... I mean, HOW could this happen, he is back to going to school, playing football, and living his life...and I have nothing...nothing to prove or validate that something was TAKEN from me.
Rumors spread, and for the next semester I was called a Ho*, slu*, Bitc*, and harassed by members of the football team, as well as his peers. I attempted to issue a restraining order on him, because we were attending the same school but the process was so incredibly strenuous I felt weak...and I just didn't want to face it anymore. For the next semester and a half I was in communication with the chancellor, my counselor, and teachers who had members of the football team in the same class and did their best to accomate me by having security escort me to and from class...(but let's be real, it was not the top priority for a few campus security on one college campus.)
Sooo...I sucked it up until he graduated...it eventually got easier; I had one really good male friend who was the only other person I told and since mentioning it to him, he became my confidant...walked me to and from class so I wasn't alone when he could, and picked me up from school if I didn't have a ride so I didn't have to wait on campus by myself...we lost contact...but to this day I know God sent him In that season to be my help...and I'm forever grateful for his friendship.
So you might be asking, like some professors and individuals encouraged me to do which was to just leave...and go to another community college.
And it's in this moment in writing this I knew deep deep down...that I could not. Not for "her". I could not leave for the woman I am now today...one who fought through Post traumatic stress, one who suffered from aggressive social anxiety and manic depression, one who wanted her education, and her dignity intaked even though it was threatened...
I did it for me...because for me, I spent my whole life running, and I had to face it...every single day I faced it. Some days were easier than others. But through the strength and power of JESUS CHRIST I made it though that valley.
I wish I could say that me speaking out ended in a happy ending as far as justice was concerned. But to be honest, there would have never been a happy ending whether or not the man who raped me was in jail or free. My freedom was still bound to that hospital bed, and that apartment where I was taken advantage of...and to a justice systemThat is unfortunately flawed and cannot save everybody.
If you're wondering if I'd do it again, I'd say, YES.
There is always a paper trail, and God-forbid he attempts to do it again, there will be evidence that this was not his first attempt in assaulting someone.
And if it never happens again, I'm left with the peace of knowing what it's like to make your own peace and form your own closure; creating a "JUST" world by speaking out about a truth that is relived by countless victims I pray can read this and say "I am with out a shadow of a doubt... "a survivor."
Till next week fellow survivors, Queens and Kings... we love you!
💗👑🙏🏽 - HERSTORY
Photo credit: (Bonds Of freedom)// Edit: HERSTORY ____________________________________________________
During this series, Cristal thought it would be a good idea to speak out on our initial experiences post rape. (We are talking 6-months to a year after the assault occurred.) And speaking for myself, it was a time I'd much rather forget. But for the memory we have left that hasn't been erased entirely from the affects of PTSD(Post traumatic stress disorder), we wanted to share our stories and how it might put in perspective on why so many people choose NOT to report their sexual assaults, as well as reveal in many instances what happens when they do.
So although Cristal and myself both have shared experiences of sexual assault, our responses to it varied.
Like before, we would like disclose that these experiences though shared by many, may not have similar responses as our own. In either case, we hope that whether you choose to report, or speak, you do so in manner that is suitable and safe for you to do so.
According to the (NSVRC.org) crimes of sexual assault and rape are the highest under-reported crime in the United States. 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Only 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to the authorities. The prevalence of false reporting is between 2% and 10%.
In addition, out of those reported an even smaller percentage go without rape kits being tested or processed for evidence in the case of a potential prosecution. It is a unique opportunity that Cristal and I have to share because we can both allude from first-hand experience what our experiences were like, and if we believed we made the right choice. Because we wanted to respect each others reflections during these times in our journey, we decided to do a two-part series, and will continue on for next week! 😊thank you for being so open , loving, and supportive... we pray our testimonies shed light on personal experience and change the discourse in which it is recieved by others who know nothing about the preveleance of rape and assault against women and men all over the world.
Here, speaking candidly is Cristal's story:
My first thought after I was raped was to make a police report; but fear took over my mind and body, plus, I was in another state far from my family.
The person who raped me was someone I knew and considered a friend. With all that was inside of me I wanted to believe it was all part of my imagination, but the reality was I was taken advantage of by someone I knew. A Mutual friend asked me "how can you go for someone like him?" Fighting my tears back all I could muster up to say was that "if being exclusive with someone meant the act of them putting something in my drink then I was highly mistaken on what dating is."
As I was speaking from him, my intuition told me his intentions were only negative and I didn't know who to trust So I hung up the phone. When the friend called back I just said "I can't talk to you any more", hung up again and was quickly build with fear.
I ended up cutting off a lot of my friends with out explanation. My fear of being hurt like that night or by another acquaintance took me to a lonely place. I truly believed that if it was just me by myself then I didn't have to worry or wonder if anyone was out to harm me.
Although I kept a very small circle it seemed as though the person who raped me knew my every move and where I would be at least it felt like that. About six months after being raped I returned to fashion week in Las Vegas, where my friend and I were invited to a house warming party. Never thought or imagined he would be there. To my surprise he arrived as we where getting a tour of the house and while taking a look at the movie theater he walked in. I'm sure I turned so pale--I felt my blood rushing and my heart bursting out of my chest. Walking fast to exit the theater he held me back and the door was closed, so I began to panic and couldn't help but to cry as he push me against the wall all I can say was "Why me?"
While he was holding me against the wall all on my face with a smile he said "your going to be mine again," tears were rolling down my face...I must of been crying loud because the owner of the house came and open the door "lord you save me," I thought.
I could barely feel my feet I was shaking as I was walking down the stairs. I then told the owner of the house crying he raped me 6 months ago...I don't know if he overheard us, which is why he intervened, but the "friend" who assaulted me rushed out the house with anger and mentioned a gun. My friend her boyfriend and I where escorted to the back of the house by the house owner to protect in case he came back. The keener owned a few pitbulls there but I took my chance of potentially being bitten by a dog then to get shot.
We hid behind trash cans watching him come back into the house. I covered my mouth so he would not hear me cry and as soon as we were clear, we ran to the car in the front as he enter the house.
Now, you must be wondering....
So you STILL even after all of that and the threatening of your life DIDN'T make a report??
But I was too afraid... It seems as if every where I went I would see him. I didn't know if he would follow me or had someone get information on me and my family...but I was too afraid to take a chance to see him be released and have no safety if he were to be convicted.
There were other encounters, but I will share those moments at a different time.
Even though I never made a report it gave me no room to feel sorry for myself at least not in public or in the eyes of my family and love ones. I had no choice but to be strong and hide my fear with a smile. I had no time to cry other then late at night when I would lay down ready to go to sleep, but even then I had to cry in silence so no one would hear me. Trust me it was not easy. I walked around pretending to be happy for many years. The only time I felt a piece of peace was when I decided to move to NYC in 2009 I figure I would be as far as possible from that night in fashion week. But still, the pain lingered and it still affected my communication with others and made it difficult meeting new people. I always kept my guard up and was so quick to not want to exchange numbers with anyone (it was just a better idea if I walk away from potential friends.)
God walked with me every step of the way, to trust him and depend on him to have Faith on a healing I was not able to see, but knew it was a promise slowly taking place even when suicidal thoughts try to take over me. My silence wouldn't allow me to proceed with my thoughts of suicide only because I didn't want my death to be determined as being about another young depressed adult or have the media blame my family for not knowing what lead to my death. I could not put my family through that pain when it was my choice to be silent. In my case, I felt as if my silence saved me. It prolonged the actions that couldn't have resulted in the depression And anxiety I was suffering from. It saved me from taking my own life.-Cristal 💗
(we can't thank you enough for being on this journey with us, and we pray your heart continues to find healing and love within...we'll be here in the process) 💗HERSTORY 👑
Good morning survivors, supporters, Queens and Kings!
It's a new month, and you know what that means; a brand NEW series! 😬🙌🏽💗
HERSTORY will be unfolding and unraveling with you on our own experiences of "coming-out" to our families on our experiences of sexual assault.
Dealing with abuse, and sexual assault like rape can leave one feeling completely isolated from people around you, ESPECIALLY from the people closest to you.
We understand that everyone's healing evolves differently, and as you will read, Cristal and myself share different stories on our journey towards speaking out.
We will also encourage individuals who are still walking this journey on their own, or perhaps those who have never told anyone before of their history or experience with sexual abuse; that you must do what brings YOU peace. We believe that speaking out has personally helped ourselves and others, but are in no way pressuring the process one must take on their own individual journey towards being truly FREE, from the emotional bondages of abuse.
OUR hope is to simply shed light in this dark area. To encourage those who are questioning whether it is possible...we are living proof that IT IS...and you can do so while maintaining your peace and feeling of safety.
So, for the month of March; let's "Speak Out, and Stand Up."
THIS week's topic is personal to us, and our experiences of "Speaking out, and ultimately why we did."
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves for the rights of all who are destitute.
Sometimes telling your story to a complete stranger is easier then telling someone you love.
I plotted plans on how to tell my immediate family about being raped many times, but they all failed; it was almost as if I would be overcome with amnesia when I would tried to say something.
Fear played a big part of my silence and as mentioned before, fear that my family would back track from their own walks with God since they where new in Christ.
But as I prayed for strength to tell my family I felt God say "it's now or never" I mean how can I speak before people and share my story but yet live in fear that my family would find out?
There is never a right time and I remember speaking to my family on New Years Eve 2013 out of all days in the year...but I couldn't pick a better date, as I heard God say "New year, new beginning start fresh with a clear mind and a free spirit".
As my parents and brothers came together they imagined I was going to say I was pregnant again or something exciting but I replied, "no its nothing like that."
I began to shake, and sweat. A million nerves ran over my body and my mind was racing on how I can change my story to something good, but I knew it was than or never.
As I began to tell my story I could see pain wash over my family and tears develop in my parents and brothers' eyes. I will never forget how painful it was to see them hurt; more painful the my first birthing experience, yes more painful than birth.
At first, the room fell to complete silence. And with every tear they fought back, the wave of questions followed.
Who did it?
Why didn't you say something?
Where does this person live? What's his name?
To even my father saying; "that's why I never like to let you go to concerts and your vegas trips, but you wouldn't listen."
To my mother saying "well what happened, happened; And we just need to learn to move foward and leave it in the past"
but as I prayed in my mind all I can say was "look I'm telling you because God has called me to use my story to give Him glory to speak out and not be silent. The reality is this happens everyday and everyday someone is told to keep silent when we need to have a voice and speak our story that someone else may feel safe and healed."
Since my family has not spoke about it, but they know about Herstory, yes it's a hard subject to talk about....maybe because my parents feel like they failed in protecting me.
My only response would be:
"I say you did an amazing job and God was with me."
My brothers might feel as if they didn't protect their only sister, but again,
"I say God has been with me even in that hardest struggles-- I call myself blessed, blessed to live and share my story in hopes that it may safe someone else.
Speaking out is not the easiest thing to do, but I promise, your soul will become light weight and ultimately free.
Find a reason whether it's to help someone else, setting your self free, over coming fear, etc.
My reason is my daughter who I'm teaching to make her voice count and be strong to stand for what she believes in and to never let someone keep her silent.
Speaking out for me happened over time.
The first person who knew of my experience and had to share in my tormenting silence was my gracious mother.
It was a cold, over-cast morning, the day after I was raped by a fellow student Who befriended me the first week into my freshman year. I was dropped off in front of my college's campus, went to class, and sat in the front row. Didn't even hear my name called for roll.
Moments passed and I felt the whole room closing in on me, I couldn't stop getting the flashing images out of my head, I stormed out, and paced the hallway till I could figure out what my next move was.
"Did this really happen...maybe I'm over exaggerating..." but my insides spoke back to me almost saying "you don't belong to us anymore"
I called the one person who I knew loved...(but could she love me
"Yes, what up?"
"...can you pick me from school, I can't. I can't be here."
My body was done covering up my pain, and I exploded into tears and blurred out;
"I was raped...Chris raped me..last night."
the sound of disappointment, pain, and anger lingered on her lips.
I don't think she was angry at me, but like Cristal reiterated, there is a commonality between most of my family's response of
Feeling ultimately helpless in that type of situation.
I will share more of that day later this month. But I would just like to say, my mom, is a rockstar, and has held my hand through every step...
6 years later, I opened up to my family about my experience of rape on as I say "God's
The sexual assault happened during my college experience I knew God said "you need to leave this chapter behind in order to fully graduate from my pain." It was always a struggle dealing with the PTSD and on-going harassment while pursuing my college degree; and it was important that while everyone celebrated with me on this major accomplishment, they knew what it took
For me to get there.
I fought back many, many "opportunities" to let my father, and four brothers, grandmother, and Godmother know.
But I fasted, I prayed, I cried, I turned to God on EACH occasion and leaned on Him for support when I was weak.
"I'm done crying over me...how do you expect me to pacify their feeing of all this now, too?"
God made a way every single time.
I approached each person differently, in an intimate, quiet space; and for most of my siblings, over the phone, which honestly was harder than in person.
They couldn't see how strong I was saying it, they just heard the worst possible experience they could have ever imagined for their sister, daughter, granddaughter...and were left to process it all.
Even as the words escapes my mouth, I was praying in my mind, "Lord, you got anything else for me, does it REALLY have to be the full truth?!"
I didn't go into every detail, because they didn't need to know. It was enough for them (I thought) to know they weren't physically there. It was enough for them to know, they couldn't do anything about it, and that I dealt with this on my own for 6 years, while literally fighting to convince myself to stay in school.
I told them; that I'm in a good place. That if it wasn't for GOD leading me, healing me, and being my strength through this I wouldn't have made it some days, let alone, my graduation day.
But I said, "even though you didn't know what I was going through, you helped me. Just knowing you were there whenever I was ready to face my reality....your LOVE carried me through some of my darkest storms."
No matter what storms you face, silence was the loneliest time for me... We are grateful to have had the support system we did, and still have since our experiences of sexual assault. We realize this is not everyone's reality. Not everyone has a safe space or person to "come out to" because it could tear the family apart, it's a religious or cultural taboo...the list goes on...
Knowing this we just want to open up THIS space and say, you are NOT ALONE. And whatever bondages you come
With CAN and are set free in the name of Jesus Christ. You don't have to carry your burdens alone.
We pray that Herstory can be that place in transitioning, and healing.
So live honestly, and freely...we are here EVERY step of the way!
Till next week, and always with lots of love,
Cristal Lowe and Devin Marie 💗
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.