eyy All! Whether you’re new to the blog or revisiting, this is one series you don’t want to miss! So to catch you up, this month, HERSTORY is concentrating its time and energy around our current series entitled; Rape Culture and Relationships. We will be following up with last week’s amazing interview between HERSTORY’s cofounder, Cristal and her husband James. This week, I had the opportunity and amazing experience of interviewing not only my incredible partner, Mike, but a man I have grown to respect and love ever more because of this vulnerable, and candid one-on-one experience where we discussed our growth and healing within our relationship in relation to Rape Culture and its influence within music, the world we live in, and our personal relationship. 💗
When I first thought of the idea of Cristal and I interviewing our partners on what we do every week here on this blog; it seemed like a daunting task... But it made sense, and felt right. I feel like this experience is what needs to be shared in healing and becoming better on individual levels as well as give a platform to the men who bravely stand up for the women they love, and respect,
1. What was your first thought when I opened up about being a rape survivor?
Well...initially I thought, well, this person has been through a lot. And, not that it’s my job... but I am a new example for you...I knew there were other ways to go about life. You don’t have to live in fear, but you can continuously move forward with hope in mind; based on God, a positive mind state, to continue living and not let the things of your past haunt you.
2. Do you feel my experience interfered in our relationship and how?
I don’t think it has interfered but it definitely has affected it because like I said, moreso, I have to set an example...You know, you don’t have to respond the way the world or society assumes you have to respond after going through something like that. You can love freely, not worried about being judged, not worried about who you have been, but focused on who you are, and who you are trying to become.
3. What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle for you, being in a relationship where your partner has survived sexual assault?
Probably the dealing of (your) mental lapses, some breakdowns, but you know with God, you can conquer all things. And also making adjustments on my end too in order to understand how to channel how your feeling and also hearing what God is saying to let HIM make the call on the situation and use him as a way of solving the problem as opposed to trying to solve or fix the problem on my own or even on your own. It has made me grow patience to understand that there are different sides of life, and sometimes people ARE affected by what they’ve been through...I have been affected by my own experiences too, but I do my best to put forth the mindstate that you can always move forward.
4.Generally speaking, how do you think my experience of rape influenced the way we’ve experienced our relationship together as a couple?
We’ve definitely grown stronger. You've learned to deal with your emotions better...and I’ve learned… how to deal with how you deal with your emotions better...haha
And man….PRAYING HELPS!--I probably had some issues with praying in the beginning of our relationship because I was embarrassed that maybe I didn’t know how to pray for somebody, but I learned, and we grew together; which helped me gain a stronger understanding of you, and and stronger understanding that “I can come to my God with extreme vulnerability as well, and know that He’ll accept me, and still love me."
….It’s not easy, but I definitely appreciate the growth...
5. What advice would you give someone dating/in a relationship with a rape survivor?
I believe patience is definitely a virtue! And you have to have patience throughout life, including with people. Two parties HAVE to have patience for each other’s growth and they need to discuss their differences. If what they have is REAL...then both parties should have a say on how each would like to progress while being open-minded enough to try something different.
For example; you crying and locking yourself in your room isn't going to help after a period of time. It's good to get some time to decompress , but eventually you gotta face it. You can’t keep running away and escaping, so you know maybe (Something we often do) instead of locking yourself away, open yourself up--go somewhere in nature where you can be alone but the truth is you're not alone--you've got the world in front of you, and maybe that will induce a different state of mind where you are thinking more clearly, than thinking boxed in. Basically, help the other person hurting in a place conducive to healing. And also, have the partner use that same space as well to grow and feed off each other where positivity is all that's left to build from.
6. As a parent, you have the opportunity to set the precedence for how your children view or think about sex, and other people’s bodies...How will you teach your future children about sex education/sex boundaries?
It should be an open conversation. Meeting them at their level, watch who I’m dealing with, what they know or not know about sex and trying to get them to understand. Keeping them educated in the role they play in relationships. Be honest, with no judgment and the most important thing is letting them know that they can come to me and communicate about anything--that there are no limits to what can be discussed between me and my child. Just as you come to your Heavenly Father, and in that space, He’s not judging you, but He’ll listen. And in that same manner more fathers need to listen more, listen to their children and be emotionally available for them to have their kids open up to them if they need..so instilling that confidence, and deal with it the best way that I can.
7.What are your general sentiments about what Cristal and are building with Herstory?
I like it a lot. I think it is a completely self-less endeavor. Also, its helping you grow as a person, helping others heal by leading by example, which in turn helps you heal. You're building a community; so while you're building someone up; they are building you up...those experiences and those testimonies, whether you lived them or not, those are yours...
8. So...You’re a songwriter, and an incredibly talented singer and artist. With your years in the entertainment industry, do you believe that entertainers have the authority to influence a culture like rape culture in order for it to change or completely cease to exist?
I can’t control what people like or don’t like. The sad thing about today’s society is...people like weird things. I sometimes ask myself “how can they listen to that, or how is that okay…?” A lot of music today has become...really dumb. Just straight unintelligent. But anyone no matter what artistic medium they are channeling has the authority to change the culture (consider like ,some underground artists). If you don’t use your voice for positive things, you're simply dealing more harm into society. I don’t think people really understand the power they have,so I try my best even when I share the same space with others; to express my views on things, or choose to or NOT choose to participate in certain concepts or ideas. But I do feel that there is room for it, and it's growing.. There is a knowledge wave coming back through,but you can’t make people smarter. They (society, culture) have to want to learn so, at some point (and it will come to a point) people will have no choice but to listen..
After thoughts from Devin Marie.
Let me just say… I am incredibly grateful for this experience. And after all was said, I felt a greater confirmation that this is what God meant for me to know and see when He said He loved me.” I’ve never shared this with anyone outside of my relationship and maybe just Cristal. But, the first time I opened up to Mike about being raped was also the first time he told me that he loved me… And in that moment, I can honestly say, every broken promise, every question and doubt I had of my past crumbled into the milion pieces on the floor that once laid my broken heart. And although my healing began long before Mike came into my life, he has proven God true to His word in regards to receiving love in my life again. And probably most importantly, I've learned that love, the truest of them, at least, really does heal all… 💗
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