Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Regaining Her Voice: Kristen's Story

How old were you at the time of the assault(s)?
3 or 4 & 15

How old are you currently?

Did you know the person(s) who committed the assault(s)?

Did you tell anyone about the assault(s) at the time?
No at 3-4 & yes at 15

Did the assault(s) go to a court trial? Was there a sentencing? If so, how long?

Do you think they will commit sexual assault again?

What would you like to say to others about sexual assault?
If you have been sexually assaulted, you are a victim as well as a SURVIVOR. There are others who will hear your voice. There is help out there to support you in healing the life-changing wounds that stem from the abuse; wounds that most likely have plagued your development, relationships, self worth, ability to trust & live in the now. No matter how old you were or how much you recall, the abuse just might be the root of much of the pain you have endured in your life. Speak up & know you have support from those who truly get it.

What would you like to say about this project?
Thanks. We all have faces that accompany our stories. This project is so important.

I was sexually abused as a child & raped as a teenager. After seeking help from a therapist, I believe the 2nd assault is directly related to the first. The 1st assault changed me forever… my self esteem, my world & my ability to trust others. I want to be clear, however, that I didn’t go to a therapist for help with this. I went for help with my struggles to build relationships with people who are nice to me. I went because I wanted to learn more about my anger, my depression, my nausea & my pain. Through discussion about relationships, memories, etc, I have learned that my past has really MIS-shaped my views of me, my sexuality & sex in general. At some point between 3 & 4, I was playing doctor with my babysitter's son at their house. I assume we had played before, but I only recall the time my friend’s older brother- my friend too- joined us in the bathroom. He was 5 years older than us which, I have now learned, changed the situation from innocent to abusive. He penetrated me & our friend with my plastic doctor tools. He forced me to penetrate my friend as well. I recall asking him why he was doing this. I recall being held over the bathtub backwards & recall counting tiles around the bathtub as he did things to both of us. I recall my friend’s warm eyes staring at me like a deer in the headlights. His eyes & those tiles have stayed with me for 30 years. I never told anyone about this until recently. Because of the abuse… losing my virginity was painful, completely unplanned & quite hideous. I was 15 & he was 18. Though I had little to no interest in sex at the time, my friends did, so I felt pressured to “do it.” It was a cold January night & it occurred outside on a wet lawn surrounding an empty office building. This was abusive in itself- a choice I made because of my unclear vision of sex due to the early abuse I endured. Just one week later, his 19 year old friend raped me. I didn't know it was rape at the time. Rape, to me, meant a dark ally, a punch in the face, beatings, blood & screams. It meant cops, court hearings & jail. I was 15 living in a safe suburb. I was school smart, street smart & part of the "popular crowd" & had some friends; knowing the ins & outs of rape was very far from my mind until that night. Basically, the 19 year old told "my first" that I wasn’t interested, told me that "my first" wasn’t interested in me & then spent the evening trying to lure me in. I kept telling him to leave me alone; I said no, I tried to move from underneath his 19-year-old man-like frame as he laid on top of me, squirming uncomfortably. Most of all I kept saying stop. A friend heard me, opened the door & told the guy to get off of me. The next day, the boy who saved me explained that “no means no” & told me that I had been raped. I felt completely removed from my body, my friends, and my life. I was never the same again. I did tell someone about it this time & my own mother began referring to me as a "slut" every time she lost her temper. Soon, I began to believe I was... Because of the abuse... I have suffered with stomach-aches, anxiety/depression, pain & an inability to cope basic feelings of anger, hunger, excitement, happiness & sadness throughout my entire life,. I was diagnosed with an ulcer in the 2nd grade, which caused daily symptoms of nausea from age 7 throughout my teenage years, when I began using drugs to help the symptoms; just the beginning of dangerous choices I made quite regularly. When things got difficult at home, I often contemplated suicide. When things got bad, I flipped out, ran away & continuously put myself in dangerous situations. Because of the abuse... I had sex with boys in high school & college because I wanted their friendship. I have struggled immensely to build & keep relationships with people who care about me & until recently, I tended to enter relationships with people who need help…people I can help fix while taking in the abuse they inflict upon me. Because of the abuse... I thought I was someone I am not. Perhaps the most valuable thing it has taken from me is my sexuality. Until I received help from a therapist, I thought I was heterosexual, but have learned that though I am married to a loving, understanding wonderful man, I am in fact gay. I always felt that something was missing in my sexual relationships, but blamed it on me, my quirkiness & believed that I just wasn’t a sexual being…that sex was a tool for me to get what I want, not something to be enjoyed. Because of the abuse... My life was changed, but it wasn't taken. I embrace who I am & know that I am worthy of a happy life. I am thankful to have a support structure in my life & even though my life was changed, it is my life & I deserve to be happy.

Regaining Her Voice: Mya's Story

How old were you at the time of the assault(s)?

How old are you currently?

Did you know the person(s) who committed the assault(s)?
He was a boy that desperately wanted to go with him and he desperately wanted to take my virginity

Did you tell anyone about the assault(s) at the time?

Did the assault(s) go to a court trial? Was there a sentencing? If so, how long?
I never did press charges

Do you think they will commit sexual assault again?
Yes, he probably has already

What would you like to say to others about sexual assault?
Tell somebody if somebody has or tries to sexual assault you

What would you like to say about this project?
I really like this project a lot. I like the fact that I am able to share my story with other people.

I was about to get of the school bus and the boy had bumped in to me, he had apologized and we all got off the bus [he just happened to live in the same apartment complex as me].I was walking home and he came up beside me and told me again that he was sorry and he told me his name I told him my name and we started associating from then on. He started walking me home from school every day after we got off the bus, at first he was really sweet and he was cute to so I was really happy about that. Then he started asking me to go with him and I told him no because I had just met him and I wanted to get to know him better. From then on he started asking me out and I still told him no. Then he started asking me every day if he could come over to my house and I told him no because I am not allowed to have any kind of company while my mom is not home. But he still would not listen and he would keep me outside for hours trying to come inside my house. Then one day while we were outside he had asked me if I was a virgin and I told him yes, and from then on he started asking me to have sex with him, and I would tell him, no I want to wait until I was married. And then I remember this one day he kept asking me if he could come inside my house and I once again told him no. He had snatched my house key out my hand and he unlocked my door and went inside after I told him not to, it was like it didn't even matter that I had told him that I did not want him to come inside my house. I kept asking and telling him to get out of my house but he would not listen. The next thing I remember is him on top of me and I’m trying to push him off and I’m telling him to get off of me but he would not listen and he would not get up and I kept on trying to push him off and he got so aggravated with me trying to push him of that he took both my arms and pinned them to the ground and he had my legs pinned on the ground to so I couldn't defend myself in any kind of way and he told me "you gonnna feel it today!" and I screamed "no, get off of me" and "no I don't want to" and he started trying to kiss me on my neck or my lips I couldn't remember but when he tried to kiss me wherever I started moving my head from side to side like I was shaking my head no and I once again started screaming no. All of a sudden got up and he told me the only reason why he didn't go through with it was because of the way I was looking or something about my eyes I can’t remember, but I still have not told anybody about what had happened and he tried to rape me again several months later at school and that time I went and told the assistant principle and they said there wasn’t anything that they could do because he already withdrew from the school and when I had told my best friend what happened and i had told her to tell her cousin to stay away from him and she did and he denied the whole thing and said that I was lying about everything and he tried to get his sister to fight me and his sister didn't try and fight me because she said she didn't know who I was[she was lying because she rode the same bus] and now I’m still kind of scared to go back to my school [he's back at the school] because I know I am going to see him. and I’m scared to tell anybody else about what happened I haven't even told my mom or dad about what happened yet and all this happened last year I am just so scared right now and I just don't know what to do.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Site now UPDATED!

www.regainyourvoice.com is now updated! We have more stories from survivors, their story in their own words. Please check out the updated site and feel free to pass on the the site. This project is about empowering survivors and giving them their voice back, a voice that was stolen from them.

thank you

Introducing Claudia!

I would love to introduce Claudia Sutton to you all. She is our wonderful, beautiful site designer of www.regainyourvoice.com! Claudia and I met as college roommates when we were both at Academy of Art University. We clicked right away and 5 years later we are as close as ever, she has been like a sister to me and has been a HUGE part of this project. She was the one that encouraged me and gave me strength to go on and find more participants and together the birth of regainyourvoice.com happened! She has recently updated the site and I just wanted to share a little bit about the wonderful person behind that.

Her website is: www.claudiasutton.com
Her Blog is: www.claudiasutton.blogspot.com

Thank you Claudia, for everything!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Updated Site Up Tomorrow!

We have been working hard to get the updated regain your voice site online - we have 4 more stories to share with you! Check www.regainyourvoice.com tomorrow!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Expanding Project!!

After many requests I have decided to expand Regain Your Voice! Many people would like to participate that do not live in my area, therefore I cannot photograph them.

I have decided to accept stories from anyone from anywhere without having their photograph taken.

I did not feel it was fair to exclude people who were out of the area for the sake of a photograph.

Therefore if you are not in the area or just would not like your photograph taken - you may still submit your story!

As always you can email me at regainyourvoice@gmail.com with any questions and visit regainyourvoice.com to see an example of the project...

thank you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Project is on Display!

Regain Your Voice is currently on display at John F. Kennedy University (jfku.edu) in Campbell, CA - It will be on display throughout Summer 2008. We had the opening on Monday, July 14th!

There is now a total of 9 participants stories on display!

First Regain Your Voice Blog Post!

RYV is inviting anyone and everyone to participate in this project – www.regainyourvoice.com – pass it on! I am looking for participants, men and women!

I have started this blog to create an open forum on this topic and to give project updates!