April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the Military I spent the entire month raising awareness and speaking out against this horrific crime that is hurting our Military and Civilian workforce. The Army's Campaign for this year's Sexual Assault Awareness Month is Speak up! A voice unheard is an Army defeated.
Not only did Sexual Assault Awareness Month open up the door for me to continue speaking up for Government Civilian's to have the same rights as Military when it comes to Sexual Assault and Harassment it also allowed me to open up about events in my life where people have hurt me and I didn’t speak up about it but now I am.Growing up my Mother taught my siblings and I to always speak up for ourselves. We were always able to voice our opinion and speak up for what we felt was right as long as we were not disrespectful. I felt empowered at a young age and always believed that I had a voice until my voice was taken from me.
When I was in my teens I was sexually molested by a man that lived across the street from me. I was friends with his daughters and it started off as a hug, touching and then progressed to kissing. I knew that it wasn't right but I was too scared to tell anyone....I had lost my voice. After living with this secret for months I finally broke down at school and told a guidance counselor that I trusted. This month I found the voice to ask my mom what happened when she found out that this guy hurt me. It was like I forgot all the lessons that she taught me growing up.
In my 20s I lost my voice again when I was physical abused by a guy I was in a relationship with. I can remember telling a friend of mine and being so extremely embarrassed that I allowed someone to put their hands on me that I didn't mention it to anyone else until the relationship was over. Even now some of my siblings and close cousins will be shocked that I never told them.
Earlier this month someone tried to take my voice again. After working on the same job for 5 yrs my work environment turned toxic. I was feeling disrespected, feeling like I was being silenced and my opinions didn't matter. This time I stood up for myself and others and fought back! I made the decision to no longer allow anyone to treat me disrespectful or silence my voice!
My prayers goes out to all the Victims of assault, domestic violence or victims that feel like their opinions doesn't matter. I will ALWAYS stand with you and for you! SPEAK UP!
Proverbs 31:8-9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
If you are a victim of sexual assault contact your local Rape Crisis Center and if you are a victim of domestic violence you can contact your local Safe House.