-This month we are highlighting the strength and courage of women and men who have come forward, sharing their inspiring stories of survival. Surviving a traumatic experience, like sexual assault, is an up and down process towards self-love and self-realization.Creating a space with Herstory is based on the foundation of such bravery, and we are incredibly honored to share it with those who wish to utilize this resource.
It is stories like Sherbie's that keep co founder's Cristal and Devin inspired and motivated to keep sharing, and healing out loud!
Accepting your truth, and not letting it defeat you is another form of bravery we hear through the words of artist, and this week's survivor feature, Sherbie Dordines. We commend you for speaking your truth with such boldness and honesty for the woman you have become. We pray continuously for your strength to reach bounds and touch hearts like ours.
We at Herstory are honored to share this platform with you!
*Trigger Warning for those in their healing process, wishing to read on*
You can read more from our interview with our sister-survivor and Queen, Ms. Sherbie below:
Herstory: Hi Sherbie, How are you? Can you tell our readers, a little bit more about yourself?
SD: Hello my name is Sherbie Dordines, I am 30 years old and a single mother of a beautiful eight year old daughter. I am the youngest of four children, and I was born in the beautiful islands of the Philippines but raised in Southern California. On my spare time, I enjoy writing poetry and writing music. Music and poetry has played a major part in my life because it was my way of expressing myself and allowing myself to be vulnerable when I couldn’t express myself to people. I also enjoy reading, spending quality time with people that are very dear to me and I love to travel.
Herstory: We at Herstory want to thank you for being so receptive and supportive of our blog. How has this passion project impacted you on your personal journey?
SD: Reading about the stories on your blog has made such an impact in my life because it has given me the courage to finally talk about the experiences that I went through at a very young age. I was afraid to speak on it because I didn’t want to re-live those nights and it was always such a sensitive topic for me that I couldn’t get myself to completely open to those closest to me.
Herstory: We wanted to give you the opportunity now to share your story of surviving sexual assault. Can you describe that experience?
SD: I first experienced my sexual assault when I was around 6 or 7 years old when one of my cousins molested me when my family and I were still living in the Philippines. My cousin was living with us at that time and my parents basically helped raise him. My parents had asked my cousin to watch me while they went out. I was upstairs taking a nap in one of our guest rooms when my cousin came in the room and sat next to me on the bed. I felt his presence but I pretended like I was still sleeping because I thought that he only came in to check on me... but I was wrong. My cousin slipped his hands under the blanket and slid my underwear down and touched me in my private area. A place a child should never have to experience at such a young age. My whole entire innocence was stripped away and taken from me by my cousin. There was nothing I could do but lay on that bed and let my tears fall. I didn’t know what he was doing and I was afraid to kick him because I thought that he was going to hurt me more. After he was done he told me to get up to go downstairs so I could eat my snacks. He told me not to ever say anything to anyone about it or he would hurt me. So for years I kept that secret to myself and never said a word to my family because I was afraid of what else my cousin would do to me. Whenever my parents would go somewhere I would beg them not to leave me with my cousin or I would ask them to take me with them. They just thought that I didn’t like my cousin at all.
The second time I was sexually assaulted was when I was 20 years old, while I was living in New York. I moved to New York from California after I graduated from high school in 2007 to live with my girlfriend at that time. She was a lot older than me and I was very young and naïve at that time so I didn’t know any better. That whole entire relationship was very toxic from the very beginning but I was “in love” at that time so I didn’t care. I wanted to make my partner happy so I would literally do anything to make sure that she was happy. It got to the point where she had convinced me to start massaging men for money while I wore lingerie. She used to take me to meet up with my clients and she would wait around the area until I was done massaging the clients.
It was around the year of 2009 when I started massaging in lingerie for money so that I could give the money to my partner at that time. Then one particular night I had a new client that I massaged but he took it the wrong way. He thought that there was more to it than just a massage. And I kept telling him that it wasn’t so I was starting to put my things away so I could leave his hotel room but he got very angry and aggressive and that is when he raped me. He grabbed me by the arm and threw me to the bed and tore my lingerie off. I fought as hard as I could to get him off of me. At that point, my life flashed before my eyes and I thought he was going to kill me afterwards. After he got done he left me in that hotel room by myself and I all I could do was cry. I wanted to kill myself and I hated my partner ever since then because she was the reason why this happened to me. And that is how I got pregnant with my daughter. I wanted to get an abortion but my ex convinced me not to so I didn’t; but I was so sure that as soon as the baby was born I was going to give the baby up for adoption because I couldn’t face being a mother and raising a child because of what happened to me.
But the very moment that my daughter was born, I changed my mind. I knew in my heart that I couldn’t give her up because none of this was her fault. My daughter did not ask to be born in this world so ever since then I promised myself to always protect my daughter. So at the end of 2010 I packed all of my belongings and took my daughter back to the west coast and told myself that I would never look back or think about that night of the rape.
Herstory: How has the experience affected you as a woman? What are some of the challenges you faced or are still facing today?
SD: Those traumatic events that happened in my life changed me drastically. It affected my relationships with my family and friends. I was very insecure and I felt like I wasn’t good enough. For a very long time, I didn’t tell anyone about it not even my family. I was very distant from my family and I was told that I was very nonchalant and didn’t care for things. They couldn’t understand what was going on with me.
The biggest challenge I faced was not being able to be myself. I felt very embarrassed and ashamed about what happened to me so I ended up telling white lies to those that I care about. I would avoid certain situations or questions because I hated looking back to those times in my life. I kept running away from my problems that it affected my relationships with my past partners. I constantly was in a cycle with toxic people.
Herstory: Have you opened up to anyone about your experience. What was that experience like?
SD: The only person that I told about the sexual assaults to was my ex fiancé that I was recently with for 4 years. She was the only person that I allowed myself to be completely vulnerable to. She was the only person that I really trusted about my secrets and I prayed that she would never tell anyone about it until recently when we had a falling out and she used my past against me and went behind my back and told my brother. I eventually ended up having to tell my parents and my siblings everything that I went through. I felt very betrayed by my ex fiance because these are things that only I trusted her with.
Herstory: What is something in your journey towards healing you think has aided you in your walk towards healing?
SD: After recently going through the break up and separation from ex fiancé, I realized that I had to stop running away from my past and to really face it and deal with them in the right away. I started to see a therapist which has truly helped me talk about it to someone that is a complete stranger to me. I also started going back to writing poetry and started doing music again. I finally sat down with my family and told them everything. These have been helping me get through my healing and to truly accept my past and forgiving myself because I didn’t choose any of those events to happen to me. I have been taking my time day by day and praying and meditating more and truly getting in touch with my higher and deeper self.
Herstory: If you could give one piece of advice you would like to give to another survivor of abuse or sexual assault what would you like to share?
SD: Advice that I would like to give to someone is to seek help; whether it is seeing a therapist, talking to a close friend or family members, expressing yourself through music, art or poetry or anything that you think can help you talk about it. Realize that none of this is your fault. Forgive yourself for what happened to you and learn to completely be vulnerable to yourself and to love yourself all over again.
Herstory: Do you consider yourself a survivor, and if so, why? What does the term mean to you personally?
SD: I definitely consider myself a survivor because the things that has happened to me could have made me turn into someone completely different. I could have ended up being an addict, an alcoholic or even worse I could have ended up dead. Being a survivor to me means overcoming challenges and events that I never thought would have ever happened to me. I have been beaten emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually but in the end of it all... I came out as a survivor and as a warrior.
Herstory: Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Is there anything we didn’t discuss that you would like to share?
SD: I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak and tell my story and I pray that anyone who has experienced or are going through this will find their courage to leave and seek help before it is too late.
Herstory: How do you continue to empower yourself after everything you have experienced?
SD: Every day I wake up thanking God for giving me another opportunity to better myself. I have positive affirmations by my bed that I read in the morning before I get ready for work. I continue to go to therapy and getting back in things that use to matter to me the most; like writing poetry and doing music again.
I am finally accepting who I am as a woman and finally loving myself again and giving myself the time and energy that I gave to others. I continue to keep God in my heart and always give nothing but positivity back out to the universe.
To our sister-survivor,
After hearing your story, I am rattled with emotion. I want to cry, get angry, and ask God why... Why her, why us?
But I am encouraged by your strength sis, I am strengthened by I am sure some of the most vulnerable words you have ever shared. I am grateful to have crossed paths with you during fashion week... I am grateful you are here with us today. I am honored to know you and your resilience. Thank you for standing up for you and LOVING yourself again and again and again. Your daughter has a Queen for a mother, and a warrior role-model.
Thank you for sharing your incredible story of what resilience, prayer, and love can do for someone undeserving of such trauma. You truly are a phoenix on the rise... <3 We love you sis, and we stand with you in solidarity.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.