In 2018, at the age of 33, I founded STAND ASA.
There is a negative stigma surrounding sexual assault that undeniably forces vulnerable victims to feel that they are isolated, they alone carry the burden of proof, and shame, both personal and public. All things I have personal experience with.
From the age of 17 to 24, I was sexually assaulted numerous times. The times I said no, and they kept going. The time a cab driver grabbed me and asked me how much I cost. The times when I would pretend to sleep. The times I will likely never remember. The time when multiple perpetrators were involved; my most traumatizing experience.
Everything changed when a friend, whom I love entirely, chose to confide in me and share what had happened to her. She blamed herself for what happened to her.
"My goal is that one day we live in a world free from sexual violence and people are free from enduring the trauma of sexual assault."
Listening to her story I couldn’t believe that she thought it was her own fault.
That’s when it finally clicked for me. I realized the traumas I had endured were not my fault either. I knew then I could no longer be silent. I could not let her, and other women like us, carry this weight alone. I knew, for myself and others, I had to take a stand.
I began talking about my experiences unapologetically. I quickly realized that sharing my truth meant I became a safe person for others to share their truths. I realized the importance of this connection; the empathy and connectedness that comes from a similar experience.
Since then, S.T.A.N.D. ASA has continued to grow and transform into more than I ever imagined. As of 2022, we are a registered charity that has provided peer support, education and holistic healing services to more than 3255 people in 2021 alone.
Sexual assault was, and continues to be, normalized by society due to lack of education and empathy. However, I am committed to end victim blaming and eliminate the stigma surrounding sexual assault, so that one day we can live in a world free from sexual violence and people are free from enduring the trauma of sexual assault.