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
Welcome back Queens and Kings,
We are continuing the narrative around gratitude post-trauma. Is it possible? And how do we get to a place of sincere thanks amidst struggle and pain? To speak more on her personal experience post-trauma and the journey towards healing through gratitude is cofounder, Cristal Lowe.
People would tell me, “Come to church and He will heal you from the pain, and the diabetes,” but all I could think was "No He won't. " I gave my life to Christ and got baptized after I became diabetic. I often wondered, “How can the God you speak of ‘being a healer’ allow this to happen to me; near death experiences, sexual assault, and now becoming diagnosed as a diabetic?
Months after being raped, I wanted to take my life. I wondered “is living even worth it, continuing to trust a God that in my mind had failed me. It took me about a year after being raped to actually go to church even though in private I never stopped reading my bible. For whatever reason, it just felt like it was right. However, I could not bring myself to be surrounded by people worshiping when I was mad and confused whether or not God really loved me.
Symptoms of my diabetes got so severe, I began to lose my vision. I could only see 20% from one eye and 30% from the other eye. At this point I was convinced God didn't love me, I couldn’t help but feel He hated me at his point.
I wondered, “where is this BIG and mighty God that people say heals the sick, where is this God that people say protects you and covers you? Does this God hate me?
Not long after my vision slowly deteriorating, I went to see a doctor after our consultation, he responded saying, "something is telling me I need to help you, I will get your lenses donated and perform free surgery as long as you allow me to record your surgery for my class demos.” My face must of light up and said "of course you know I don't have money for this kind of procedure or worry my parents with the financial burden especially with my mom being on dialysis. He simply replied, "God is good.”
I remember waiting in the room to get my eyes measured, becoming overwhelmed with gratitude. The moment I got home, I locked myself in the room and prayed to God for forgiveness for ever questioning him and his plans.
The grace shown through that doctor was he catalyst for my praise to a God I was still confused by. I felt the urgency to ask for forgiveness and also forgive others that have done wrong towards me. Matthew 6:14-15 says’s “your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.”
I soon learned that God couldn’t bless me while I cursed and wish wrong on those who hurt me..including my rapist. Yes, what he did WAS wrong, yes you were broken, but as you hold anger and bad towards those that do wrong by you, you are hardening your heart towards loving, healing and ultimately BEING all I have called you to be.
My worship was no longer focused on wishing bad on him or wondering does God love me,. I had began praying by faith, a different kind of “spiritual blindness” that forced me to say “thank you, God for keeping me, though I can’t see what my life will look like or who I will be because of what I’ve gone through.
For me, praise looked like forgiveness before I could muster-up the strength to see God as good again. I would pray God forgive me for all the bad things I wished on rye man who raped me, to cover him with the blood of Jesus, and allow me to truly forgive him so that I may be able to love and be truly happy. Praising God through the pain taught me to honor Him even when I don’t understand what He was doing.
Sometimes God is ready to bless you, but we must forgive those who done wrong by us. I know it's not easy, but it's worth every blessing God has for you and while God never wants you to be hurt He will use your hurt to help others, He has proven In my life that He will turn the bad to good and bless you! Trust God and never for a second think he does not love you.
I’ve heard a lot of people say gratitude is the key to happiness. But for those of us who have been through the trenches, or perhaps are still in them, expressing gratitude sounds deeply insensitive and almost incomprehensible. I can recall looking back on the days right after being assaulted. As a form of survival, I was afraid to feel. I would not let anything come into my life that was new or unfamiliar; not even the good moments. As I continued to build what became an emotional dam around me, I silently concealed my pain. I cried almost daily for years. However, I was overfilling what I meant to keep buried, and it needed to be released. I learned the hard way that numbness was not the key to my freedom or my happiness.
So how did I get to the point of release, where I could begin to live again? I exercised moments of gratitude. I learned to thank God for what I did have, for who I was despite the repercussions sexual assault had on my life. I would thank God for keeping me, and sustaining me, even though I still wanted answers and an explanation for allowing this pain to enter my life.
“He robbed me of my youth, I will forever have to pick up the pieces of my life because of this man, and WHERE WERE YOU GOD...in all of this?” I kept asking.
God revealed who He was when I showed Him everything that I was and was not capable of being. I told God, “I’m not capable of forgiving yet, because I’m still hurt” or “I’m not sure how to talk to You now. I think you only want to show up AFTER my pain.”
When I approached God for REAL, I began to see myself worthy of better days. I was depending on a greater force I was still trying to understand in the mess of my life. I was falling apart while God was graciously putting me together all at once. I stopped using the cookie-cutter devotionals I prayed daily, I stopped seeing God only when I was dressed up for hour-long services, and I met Him in the trenches exposing every part of my broken mind and heart. There were a lot of things I needed to let go of before I could let such a light into my life. That meant me laying my anger down along with my tears, and frustration, loneliness, and feelings of unworthiness at His feet.
Crazy thing is, God already had me, and I felt that deeply as I was moved to thank Him for where I was not. I was still standing. For seven years, I felt like I was in a boxing match with the enemy and though battered and bruised, God revealed to me more of who I was for still fighting. The fact that I chose to fight for my happiness, my peace, my fearlessness, my power, and my voice gave way for me to thank Him. Jesus was legit my boxing coach, so when I the enemy hit, He was in my corner reminding me who I WAS. So, I thanked Him, and I keep fighting every single day.
Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:12 (KJV) Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, where unto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
I wanted to know who this BIG God that I was serving really was...so I stopped focusing on me for a bit and my scars, and started focusing on Jesus. How was it that this same BIG GOD could allow His only begotten son to die a gruesome death He did not deserve? I began to reflect on the life of Jesus, and His selflessness in all of this and how ultimately, He was a sacrificial example of what it means to walk in gratitude. Crazy thing was, Jesus KNEW the pain that He would soon have to face, and bore the cross anyway. Knowing the pain that would soon be in his future didn't stop Jesus from healing people, or showing compassion for the overlooked or undeserving. I suppose that’s what God was trying to teach me through this. In part, God has taught me to praise Him anyway in all my imperfection, in my filth, in my distrust and near hatred for Him in a time of my life I needed Him to be there the most. God’s spirit in me moved me to choose LIFE and not death through the power of the tongue. Giving thanks to God broke the walls I once built up and that became the gateway for healing, forgiveness and my happiness.
Wherever you are in this process, and no matter how deep the wound, God knows pain, and proved that through His son Christ Jesus. Now, understanding why it had to happen to you and me is a personal journey that has no perfect answer. The thing is...it shouldn’t have happened to you. You didn’t deserve to be used, mistreated or taken advantage of—and if those are lies you are hearing that’s nothing by the enemy. God loves you enough to see you through even THIS. It took praises coming forth with tears falling down my face for me to ultimately realize I was never a lone. I am here, I am being sustained and maintained, God is working on my life even as I write this.
Thanking God for keeping you DESPITE of what was meant to kill, steal and destroy you is a miracle. THAT is why I praise, that is why I still keep going, scars and all. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a King that saw it fit that I make it through this—and you will too! So when all else fails, I urge you to PRAISE through the pain. It confuses every broken spirit into the ushering process of your healing, your love for self, and the beautifully empowered life you still have left to live! You got this, and we will be here every step of the way. <3
DevinMarie for Herstory
How exactly do you start over? What pieces do you leave behind and which are the ones you pick up? When dealing with trauma, we are often faced with the questions of... "Where do I go from here?"
Sis...bro...there really is no perfect way to 'bounce-back.' There is no secret formula (I so wish I could give other survives I speak to) that eases the pain or helps them to understand how or why their innocence, their love, their confidence or their trust was taken away.
I do know this...I know that starting over sometimes means facing the very things we often run away from. It is a form of survival. If you are in a burning house, you find a plan of escape and you get out! Being raped by someone I trusted was my burning house, only I felt like I couldn't leave. I was suffocating in threats, in harassment from my peers at school, and it was very much as if I was being blamed for what prompted the fire in the first place.
I learned after escaping the fire (post-trauma) that it still needed to be put out. I knew that I would have to eventually confront the repercussions of this event, even though this was not my fault, (it is not yours either). The burden of putting out the fire the pain, the evidence of what was lost, meant getting really REAL with that pain. I believe owning up to the pain, the disappointment of that relationship, and who I was because of what happened to me was the moment I reclaimed who I truly am. I didn't feel like a hero, I didn't feel like a survivor, or an advocate. I felt the lies the devil whispered in my ear for a very long time. I felt that I was only worthy of being treated through some time of abuse. I felt the weight of unfulfilled hopes spoken by police officers and detectives who said "We were going to get this guy," I felt the emptiness I later understood that only Jesus could fulfill.
Even after receiving Jesus into my heart only months after the assault, I still needed to face the pain in order to lay it at my Savior's feet. I had to bring the baggage in order to unpack what was deep inside of me still: the hero, the survivor, the advocate, the feelings of joy and confidence and overall peace.
However, I couldn't reclaim such things without facing what was taken from me. I'm not going to make light of something that just might be the hardest thing you've ever had to do. Facing pain, but not living in it requires a type of grace I've only found through a relationship with someone I know who understands. With the help of other survivors like my sister, Cristal, and the love of my savior Jesus Christ, I was able to get to a place that I am at now. Today, I reclaim my past as the catalyst for true happiness I have on the inside of me. I'm not happy it happened to me, I'm not proud that I was once naive to think the world wouldn't hurt me again. But I am grateful that I could endure the fire, something that was meant to consume me, and put it out. I reflect now only on the remains as a way to remind myself I can literally do ANYTHING through Christ...including be happy and claim healing after hurting for so long.
Like the house that was once consumed by pain, I am still rebuilding. Brick by brick, the foundation I am finding through God's word, fellowship with other sisters and brothers in Christ, and mentorship by those who speak life into me daily is another brick. I am getting there, and soon I will make a home of new hopes, dreams, and a whole lot of love for me and those still picking up the pieces in their own lives.
Reflecting back to the days after being sexually assaulted had me thinking a lot about I chose to cope. Really, how I chose to survive the worst night of my life was followed by a lot pretending. Pretending I was happy, and that I was okay to avoid the questions. I spent more time making sure I looked happy to show no evidence of hurt and sadness when hiding the truth from the people who love me. However, as years passed by I’ve come to realize that in fact it is okay to mourn the person I was before.
When a loved-one pass away we take time to mourn their loss, when a child falls and gets hurt they cry for a little bit because they are physically hurt; same goes for us survivors. It is okay to cry, it is okay to miss the person we were before that pain ever entered our life. I have made it a point now to just sit back and think about how much effort and dedication people that DO love us who pour into our lives to make us confident strong women/ men. These seeds of love are not in vain, and require watering, even at the expense of our tears in order for us to grow. The word says in Ephesians 3:12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
I know sometimes it is easier said than done, but let us pray and ask God that through our faith we may be free and regain our confidence in all things we do and walk into.
Looking back to the days I was overwhelmed by pain, I realized that rape affected me in more ways than I possibly thought. For example, I still dress more modestly today because I'm not comfortable in certain styles like spaghetti strap top, off shoulder top and even dresses I rather cover up or wear clothes that would not attract the wrong attention—or my fluctuating weight. When I was raped I had just lost so much weight I was finally a size I wanted to be; but as soon as I had that experience, I blamed my new physique for what happened and I began to regain weight thinking that gaining some weight back would now become my protection. But the way I dressed, or the size I wore had nothing to do with someone’s inability to respect me. I was unhappy with the experience I endured and specially unhappy with the new weight I gained because of this debilitating mindset.
Yes I'm still a survivor....in progress! The reality is that for the rest of my life I will be a survivor in progress because each day I work harder in becoming a happier me just because we sometimes hurt it does not mean we are not survivors; it means I'm taking a moment to mourn who I once was. It’s me taking a moment to reclaim the confidence I still have or the freedom I still have yet to fully possess.
We WILL get to the place where we don't have to re-think what we will wear or places we will go but it all takes time and we will share a few tears here and there just like you would when you reflect on times you had with your love ones that are no longer here. Nevertheless, remember we are SURVIVORS.
Everyone may have the same story but not everyone heals at the same rate, and that’s okay too! Do not judge your walk on someone else’s timetable, even another survivor’s.
I’ll leave you with this scripture. Because though our journey may take a while, God is not finish yet!
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.