Why I started S.T.A.N.D.
I started S.T.A.N.D. in 2018 at the age of 33; however, my first reason for starting S.T.A.N.D. occurred when I was at the vulnerable age of 17.
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 most traumatic time when more then one person was involved.
Looking back on these numerous traumas, I realize they were much worse than I ever thought because I forced myself to become numb to it all in order to cope. Sexual assault was, and continues to be, normalized by society due to lack of education and empathy.
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.
Over the years I desperately tried to move on and forget about the traumas I had endured. No matter what I did, the trauma was always there; it was haunting me. It caused severe negative impacts in my life, many of which I didn’t even realize.
I felt isolated and alone like I had no one to talk to that could truly understand my experiences. So, I hid my traumas and carried the anguish with me silently for over 10 years.
This all 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, and in listening to her story I couldn’t believe that she could think it was, in any way, her own fault.
That’s when it finally clicked for me. I realized the traumas I had endured weren’t my fault either. I knew, after that night, 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.
The idea for S.T.A.N.D. was planted, and since then S.T.A.N.D has continued to grow and transform into more than I ever imagined.
I speak my truth loudly, and to whoever will listen, so my daughter doesn’t have a 2 in 3 chance, and my son doesn’t have a 1 in 3 chance, of being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.
I will continue to work every day to end victim blaming and eliminate the stigma surrounding sexual assault, so one day we live in a world free from sexual violence and people are free from enduring the trauma of sexual assault.