What a year...!
I think it's safe to say...
2016 had demanded a LOT from all of us emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Earlier this year, in May, Cristal and I began a journey of finally putting forth our shared experiences of surviving sexual assault, while inspiring and educating others of the affects of rape culture.
We've put a LOT on the line, but more importantly, so have you. By opening yourself up to our weekly posts and sharing your insight on experiences common to so many individuals. For that, we thank you.
This week, as we close in our last blog post of 2016!! (Whaaatt....!? I know crazy!) Cristal and I wanted to share what we've learned and what you can expect for the upcoming year!
"I have a lot to look back in 2016...and the places I have grown; but the ones worth sharing would be my growth in christ. Although I been a believer for some time now I have to say taking a year off attending church (not by choice) has shown me to trust in God and the power in my prayer that he has deposit in the inside of me.
I have had a couple challenges and sure, I know I can call my Pastors or my sister DeMarie they can pray with me and it will be all ok, but God challenged me to trust the power He has deposited in the inside of me! I say all that to say, "trust yourself....and your intuition; don't run to someone for an answer when you already know the answers. You know your situation best, and your limitations. It's time to start believing in your self and take a chance or else you will just see your dreams buried down deep to the point you will think you have no way out.
I encourage you to take a step in faith and walk in your victory in 2017 put no limitations upon yourself. And always remember, failing is only failing when you don't try. I thank you all for supporting "Write2Herstory" and sharing your stories with us 2017 is full of adventure and new destinations can't wait to grow into destiny!
From Devin Marie:
I couldn't be more grateful...Herstory made my personal story of abuse and sexual violence something I could contextualize and has given me more hope. I never thought this blog would reach the audience it has so far, but responses I received from strangers and close loved-ones has been so incredibly encouraging. I won't lie, there were weeks when I felt, "I have no content...won't people get tired of hearing about rape culture, and the emotional demands and responses from such experiences? I've been tired, I've felt lazy, I've been unmotivated at times at the response of what seemed like "nothing" sometimes.
God has had to check me once or twice
(okay...maybe a few times...) and ask me "what are you REALLY doing this for?"
No matter how big or small the platform, it IS MY platform, it is my opportunity to say everything candidly I wish I could have to myself and people who affected my life in the most life-altering ways. It's my hope that no matter who stumbles across a blog post, or picture, the content remains real, remains true, and honest. I can honestly say, I've Maintained that promise thus far, and wish to continue moving forward! Thank you for coming along this journey with us!
So what's ahead...
We will maintain our weekly blog posts, and also...
We will be hosting mini seminars/ workshops that will bring our Internet forum to a table near you(LA County and eventually branching out) so look out for announcements on that!
We are excited to have more contributors to our blog, so we will be making a conscious effort in reaching out to individuals out there who are willing to share their story with us!
(Also, include featured women every month with are making their survival stories a reality every day in their own communities/ schools/ homes, etc.
Lastly, We will be making some updates to our site to make it a bit easier to navigate, and you can contact us even easier with general feedback or discussion board inquiries.
We have a LOT to look forward to, and a lot of collaborating and vision building we are creating every day.
This isn't going to happen overnight, or by ourselves, and we acknowledge and thank every single individual who has contributed to making this possible for what it is now. Most importantly, we are grateful to EVERY survivor of rape and sexual assault, every survivor of abuse, emotional, physical, verbal or sexual. You being here is a choice, you making that choice every day is admirable. No matter how many pieces are broken... keep picking yourself back up. Our prayer and deepest sentiments rest in the idea that somehow our stories will come together and fuse a greater collective for survivors who are still cultivating their own voices. Until then, we are here, we are ALL undoubtedly brave, we are Herstory.💗
With love and solidarity;
Cristal Lowe, and DevinMarie👸🏻👸🏾💗
This week is a short but impactful message of encouragement.
We are at the home stretch for the second to last week of 2016... my has this year flown by!
We've had our shared challenges, some public while others more private.
We have some exciting new things and projects ahead we'll be sharing with you all next week. But for now, we just wanted to say: "it's not over".
Had we stopped at our, we would have never known happiness. Had we told ourselves this is as good as it's ever going to get, we would have never experienced true love.
So with that, we wanted to leave you with this piece:
Written by Devin Marie
Oh the scars,
Do they hurt you still?
Do they bruise like the pain you once felt that moment long ago?
Who knew you could find beauty in?
Who knew you could tell stories from the stretched-skin on bellies once ached from severe kicks to your stirnumn?
How much longer will the touch of another bring fear?
How much will it cost for you to be free from the shackles of an internal disease?
Oh how I wish for my skin to hold its innocence of that of a infant
Oh how I wish...that my skin was not buried within
Oh these scars,
Like marks to a canvas after paint drips past it's borders; you were never meant to be perfect
No matter how you fall,
Let your colors water every dried-up dream, brighten up the darkest of days,
This is not the end; you are a masterpiece already created, already discovered; you are enough.
YOU ARE ENOUGH. And we love you for it more...
With love and solidarity,
Devin & Cristal💗
This week we have been reflecting on what inspires us here at Herstory. We are inspired and drawn to stories of individuals who survive past pain. The trauma left behind from any intense experience in life is often unbearable at times. There are moments of loneliness, feelings of self-loathing, anger, sadness, denial...the list goes on. But what has helped us in other ways of healing has been sharing our stories and shared experiences through artistic mediums; whether in dance, designing clothes, modeling, painting, and of course writing. This week we wanted to honor the artistry of healing of another survivor. You may know her as a fiery performer who surprises audiences and on-lookers with alluring and dramatic costumes, or her ability to captivate listeners with her rough-around the edges but unforgettable vocals and stage presence. She recently graced the stages of past week's Victoria Secret Fashion show. (Okay...you might have already guessed and some may be thinking what does this have anything to do with a blog whose intentions are to uplift and educate on the affects of rape culture and those who've experienced it first or second hand?)
This is another aspect to the puzzle that we wanted to touch on...the fact that rape and assault can happen to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, disability, or race. These intersections affect people you may or may not know...
So, When given a platform like our next featured Queen...we want to honor her bravery and her strength she chooses to channel every day. "Born this way superstar," is our featured Story, and from her own words, wrote a song to the countless individuals affected by rape and sexual assault in a music video. We pray it opens your eyes and heart to never judge or assume. We pray it's content, though sensitive...is one that encourages you to share with someone you may not have first known to be a survivor too.
*we've included a link to the music video* it was a powerful moment for us seeing someone use their gift for more than just profit...but to help spread a message. This is the reality of many, including our own...but we also acknowledge we are braver, stronger, and more aware because of these shared experiences!
Thank you for supporting, visiting, loving and encouraging us through this process. Always here...
We touched on this topic before and we received feedback asking for more pieces about this.
Many have consulted with Cristal and myself on relationships and how they were affected because of our history of sexual assault.
We mentor young women from various parts of the world (whom we love so much!) who Inquiry about their shared experiences with a past of abuse and how they are choosing to move forward.
One area we have consulted frequently on is the topic of relationships; how to engage with your partner on this subject, how your partner can support you, how to communicate to your partner of your boundaries or triggers due to a past you may still be healing from?
💗💗 💗We encourage you to keep an open heart and mind and learn with us as we share our stories and wisdom from our experiences. 💗💗💗
Dating unhealed is not so easy, but when you are transparent with your partner it becomes easier. I’m not saying you are
automatically going to feel okay or become healed because you choose to be transparent with someone, but it will make future conversations easier in asserting your boundaries within that relationship.
From personal experience, I will make reference to when I had spoken to my husband before out relationship began and about my experience with sexual assault.
In the beginning of us hanging out with mutual friends he questioned why we could spend time just the two of us. Little did he know, I was still figuring out how to fee safe again in public and interact socially especially with the opposite sex because of my past history.
I made the personal decision when I felt safe enough to share how it happen, where
It happen and who did it...how it was someone I knew who had my trust because he would called me “SISTER” and I was clear that I was not healed from the pain I had endured; but I was willing to be open.
In fact, I was not even prepared to share My Story with him At that time I did, but I am appreciative of him responding in respect and with love for the sensitive subject.
We at Herstory, are not suggestioning you wear a big tell-all sign of how you're a survivor of assault, even if we choose to do so in our own through this blog. However, we understand that in terms of re-learning how to foster genuine healthy relationships with people (romantic or not) honesty behind how you feel and why you choose to do or not do certain things is vital in any relationship.
So with that, I wanted to ask Cristal some of her thoughts behind making that decision to open up to her now Husband on a matter that was incredibly personal to her. Here is what she had to say:
QUESTION1: When is the right time to share with your partner or the individual you are dating about sensitive and emotionally
Triggering experiences of your past?
There is never a "right" time to speak to someone on a subject so grave, but by experience,
It became best to speak to my husband about my excruciating past from the beginning and by the beginning, I mean before we even became An Officially courtship. I was not healed at the time, but by speaking on a past that triggered so much of who I was, helped my husband understand why I would act a certain way.
QUESTION 2: How do you help engage with a romantic partner in conversation about your boundaries and emotional triggers?
It’s always a challenge. Sometimes in the back of your mind you're thinking "will my partner understand or look at me crazy when setting boundaries and or speaking on
An emotional conversations?"
But my Anwser to that is simple, "one must remember self-love and what makes you be YOU." Meaning if your partner does not respect Your boundaries whether it is to not have sex till marriage then ask your self does your partner truly RESPECT you. And if you can't have these conversations with someone you're thinking of having a lifetime with, than you might have to reconsider what type of lifetime you want to be living..."one of honesty or deceit?"
Of course it is not easy, I been there! especially when you go from having sex to “we/I can’t do this anymore.” But remember
Being in a relationship is not about the sex or just having someone by your side for a life time, but about building together respecting
One another and truly cheering each other love and by love I don’t mean sex but instead how that person make you feels and grows you to be the best version of YOU possible!
QUESTION3: How do you build trust in a marital relationship where intimacy is expected if this is an area where your trust was broken In the past from rape, molestation, or harassment?
Building trust in a relationship is very important, but when intimacy has been taken from you NOT by your choice it becomes harder to trust
Another person. But it all goes back to being transparent with your partner since the beginning. Establishing sound communication from the start, will create a foundation of trust and respect for each other's needs!
From my experience, my husband was very caring and non-judgmental which helped build trust never ask to do anything until I felt ready to take A step forward in intimacy. It is key to Build a foundation on trust and really knowing each other for who we are and not what intimacy can make you
Feel about one another.
Don’t rush into something you are not ready for. As my pastor once mentioned to us “Get to know each other for who you really are, beyond the physicality."
When you both tie the knot under God and become one you will have a life time for intimacy.”
I learned a lot from Cristal's responses and whether you feel the same, or differ in opinion, true intimacy begins before physical intimacy. I think that's why rape and sexual abuse is so devasting especially when committed by someone you know personally or have confided in emotionally whether that be an associate, a friend, a coworker, or even a family member. When you build relationships with people, it's around the notion that they won't break your trust, or take advantage of it...
that being said pray, and discern who is safe to open up to. Wisdom is a great marker for these choices, but if you're still unsure I always recommend "stillness".
I personally dated a couple of people before committing to courtship with my now boyfriend...and I was truly torn as to "when is the right time" to dump this pile of garbage I'm still trying to figure out?"
Like cristal said, I don't think there is EVER a right time, but if you want your future to be honest, and truthful, you must approach it honestly and truthfully...
People with wrong intentions are bound to be exposed, so guard your heart, protect your mind, and share your story to the souls who are willing to share theirs differing or alike. At the end of the day, we're all here to grow and build with one another... pray and choose wisely of who you're willing to do hat with...
In the meantime, we are here, we love you, and we care.
Cristal and Devin
Last week a posed a question on my page asking "What is something you are most proud of?" I had many reply and it was seriously the most inspiring moment to see so many people from all walks of life participate in the facilitated question. Responses ranged from, "proud of being a mother, not giving up, being a kind person, graduating from school, or losing weight & maintaining it."
OUR cofounder Cristal added to the conversation saying,
"In life we get thrown many ups and downs; times where we feel if trying is even worth it, but I'm grateful that I didn't give up in LOVE. I am proud to say that even through the ups and downs my husband and I have made it through 8 years of building and knocking down rocks when thrown our way. We made it through four years of marriage with a beautiful daughter and a 2nd child on the way I'm proud that through all obstacles...I chose LOVE; to LOVE others as I love myself to see life grow before my eyes and continue to pour and grow in this thing called LOVE."
Then one of my mentees asked me "sis, what about you, what is something you're proud of." I eventually responded in part by saying helping to start this blog is something that I am incredibly proud to be a part of.... but it took me some time to really narrow that thing I pride myself (with God's grace) in accomplishing. The whole, giving opportunity to acknowledge yourself and your growth is something we at HERSTORY speak on and encourage in terms of self-love but here I am the facilitator...and I'm stuck!! Lol
THIS week I wanted to focus on WHY we get stuck.
Whether it be on our past, our hurt, our inability to see us for how God sees us...etc"
Perhaps you are a dreamer like me; incredibly ambitious or you have a LOT you want to accomplish in your life time but apart from the job, or seemingly unfavorable circumstances...you haven't been able to break-through?
I wrestled in my mind about this, and why it is so hard to affirm yourself...??
The moments I get stuck in life when I know a decision needs to be made is usually based on the value I hold of myself. Do I take that next step, do I do something I've never done...?
"When you know WHO you are, you know WHAT you want."
And in all transparency, maybe I'm still discovering who I am.. I say this knowing I am NOT what I've been through because for the longest time I spent years making decisions about what I need in life based on a victimized mentality.
That mentality told me every day, you're a good person, but expect the bad because you've been shaped by bad things. Rape was bad, and you didn't ask for it.sooo here on out...expect life to take without your permission. Which includes:
Your peace of mind
That mentality was needed to shake off in order to put on my truest identity.
I found that in Christ. I found that in a God who carried every burden and discarded every thought contrary to me being fearfully and wonderfully made.
It's with this NEW found identity I was able to lay the ground work for building and affirming my truest identity in a God who doesn't see me as rape, as abuse, as a Victim, or anything less than a QUEEN.
That whole conversation sparked a realization in me. The realization that "I am most proud of CHOOSING my truest self when life has tried to condition me to choose otherwise." Living for a King everyday, and as I completely ignore the tendencies to revert back to that weaker option, I am choosing to survive, because it takes strength in being a survivor.
So we ask you at HERSTORY... what is something YOU are most proud of?" We'd love to hear your feedback.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.