30/365 Days of SAAM

April is sexual assault awareness month, and as usual I am doing my part to contribute, through photography, art and writing, posting on my social media sites daily. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, satanic ritual abuse and domestic rape and emotional abuse, I started out life being conditioned to be a victim, and the cycle of violence continued until I left my second marriage, in 2013.

However, through my own strength of will, courage to speak out, and tenacious desire to heal the scars of my past, I progressed from victim to survivor, and now thriver. Through the support of the survivor community and my therapist, art, writing, and spirituality, I’ve moved on for the most part from the pain, and let go of the shame, which was never really mine to begin with. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s led me out into the sunshine.

I shared my survival story recently, through my “Patchwork Heart” exhibition, and was able to make peace with my troubled childhood, through the medium of art. It went a step beyond art therapy, to break stigmas about what being a sexual and ritual abuse survivor looks like, by telling my story, through words and pictures. I did this as not only a form of catharsis, but as a way of using my creativity to inspire change. Because the statistics about sexual assault are frightening.

One in six American women have been the victims of rape, or attempted rape in their lifetimes. This is a staggering number, but I’d estimate that it’s actually much higher, since the majority of rapes and sexual assaults aren’t ever reported to the authorities.

I am determined to see the end of rape culture in my lifetime. That’s why I wear red lipstick every day in April, as part of the “Red My Lips” visibility campaign, and I photograph myself, to show people that it doesn’t matter what a survivor was wearing, they still weren’t asking to be raped. Red lipstick traditionally was a symbol of feminine sexuality. But rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power, control, and violence.

The fight for greater understanding for survivors is paramount to the prevention of further sexual assaults. In the era of the Me Too movement, it’s high time that our voices are finally heard, and that we are believed, and supported, 100%, whether we were able to bring our rapists to justice, or not.

If you’d like to join my digital activism, please check out the following organizations for more information, and to get involved.

RAINN (rape abuse and incest national network) www.rainn.org
Rape Victim Advocates www.rapevictimadvocates.org
Red My Lips www.redmylips.org 

April is the designated month to raise awareness, but the effort to end rape culture never stops for me, because I never had the choice to NOT be a victim of sexual assault, though I DID choose to take back my power. Won’t you join me?

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