April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Yesterday marked the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. End the Silence Campaign is committed to providing survivors with a place to tell their stories, as well as increase the number of REAL stories told by the people who actually experienced them. A month devoted to awareness about sexual assault is the perfect opportunity for more survivor voices to be heard.

So, in honor of this important month, End the Silence Campaign will be featuring a new writer or artist each day. A new poem, story, or artwork will be published on the site, so stay posted! If you would like your submission to be considered, feel free to submit it online. If your story, poem, or artwork is not featured during SAAM, we will be sure to post it as soon as possible!

Check out our first feature, Kacey Coffin. In her powerful letter to the man who raped her, she writes:

“I wanted to start this by saying dear and your name, but I don’t feel as if you have earned the right to be called by your name. There is a concept of your true name, and to know someone’s true name is to know their soul. You have not earned the right to be called by any name. When you shatter the soul of a child and leave her to put the pieces back together over 22 plus years, you no longer have the right to your own soul…” Read the rest of Kacey’s letter here.

New Stories and Poems!

Hey everyone! Check out some new stories and poems on the website. And if you haven’t already, make sure you download “In Our Own Words” – our first collection of stories, poetry, and art by sexual violence survivors.

Abbi Baker – My Story

Annastacia – Cried

Felicia Smith – Save Me Now (He Still Loves Me)

Heather Marie Laica – Fears for Years – Released by Tears

Deborah Hall-Branch – The Healing Process

Celeste D. Barnes – Flashback

C.E.G. – Survivor!

Our First Collection is Here!

In Our Own Words – Volume One , End the Silence Campaign’s first collection of stories, poetry, and art by survivors of sexual violence is here! In this collection, you will read accounts by men and women of all ages who have survived rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse and found hope for their lives and for the future. You will also see some breathtaking artwork that captures the complex range of emotions that survivors of sexual violence face. It is our hope that this collection will increase awareness about sexual violence, while inspiring and empowering anyone who finds comfort in these words. Thank you to everyone who submitted their work – we couldn’t do this without your support! If this collections inspires you, feel free to pass it along to anyone that you think could benefit. And as always, keep posting comments on the site and spreading the word!

Click here to download and read In Our Own Words – Volume One.

New Poems!

We are getting closer to the release of End the Silence Campaign’s first collection of stories, poetry, and art created by survivors of sexual violence. It has been a journey putting the publication together and I am so excited to share it with you. I hope that it will be inspirational and powerful to everyone who reads it. We had so many submissions that we were unable to include everything in the first collection. It is my goal to include as many of the submissions as possible in an upcoming collection, but in the meantime I am posting many of them online! So stay posted as I add more stories, poetry, and art to the site! Thanks for all your support.

Here are some new poems!

Dayce Ruth – The Days

Jennifer J. Pasquale – Illusions of Dance

Joyce Collins – The Insects Swarm Over Me

Yotibar! – Fear

6 New Stories and Poems!

Here are some new stories and poems by survivors. Check them out, feel free to leave comments, and please keep spreading the word about End the Silence Campaign. Thanks for following ETS and stay posted!

M.L. Dickson – The End of the Innocence

“My journey into reality, self-discovery and truth has been painful and at times traumatic, but also enlightening, deeply spiritual and in the end, a blessing.  I have new sense of calm since I began sharing my story and no longer live the lie that my family was “perfect.”  No one has a perfect childhood, perfect life or perfect family.  The sooner we are able to discuss these truths—as my hero Frederick Buechner says, “ and do a little tongue wagging”—the sooner we will be able to break the cycle of dysfunction.  It is only by breaking the destructive cycle that we are able to do better for our children and future generations.”

Dawn Helmrich – The Journey

“It was that day, the air was crisp
My favorite time of year, fall,
I remember feeling so good
Walking, smelling the air
I was in such a happy place…
All at once it was over…”

Ashley McIntyre – Where Are My Legs?

“But now I need help.  It’s hard to admit that I cannot do this on my own.  It’s scary because a lot of people have already formed their opinions about what happened.  Andrew’s friends still gossip about it to this day even though it’s years later and we’re in college.  I never get a break from it.  It never leaves my mind.  So, I’m realizing that it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s necessary to let go of any concerns I have about what people think.  This time, it’s about what I need, and what I want.”

Anonymous – A Letter to the Girl Who Came After Me

“Now I can’t preach to you because I loved him, too. I stayed with him, despite the humiliation and torment and pain. But you should know all the facts. The next time he tells you he cares about you, remember that mouth told me I was worthless and that no one would ever want me…”

C.  Imani Williams – Sexual Violence in Lesbian Communities: Marginalized and Silenced

“The many smoke and mirrors that sexual assault hides behind in our community are being called out. As I continue to grow, stretch and heal I’m meeting people and learning of her~stories that are changing my life in positive ways.  Womyn are miraculous in all of our glory. We short change ourselves when we cocoon and clique up to the point of excluding womyn who differ from our comfort zone.”

Rene Graham – The Unanswered Letter

“Angst filled the room as the fragile young woman in her mid-twenties sat at the metal desk in her tiny, non-descript room in the psychiatric ward of St. John’s Hospital.  Peggy’s entire body trembled with anxiety and she could feel panic settling in.  She had a pen in hand, but hesitated at the thought of writing her cousin Dana… She hated herself for needing Dana, but she was desperate and there was no one else.”

Poetry – Sarah Ann Henderson

In these moving poems, Sarah Ann Henderson explores her journey as a survivor of sexual abuse. In her poem, “The Afterword,” she writes:

“…With that hell that I carry inside
With the tortures that I’ve ambled through

I suppose on some level I’m healing
At least I pray that’s true

And I will just have to keep writing
This life story that’s long overdue.”

Read more of her poetry by clicking on the links below:

And as always, feel free to share your comments and support the brave survivors who share their stories.

Five Survivors Tell their Stories

Five Survivors share their stories in the hopes of helping others with their words. Read on to hear their inspiring words:

Ashlie M.Paper Cut

“…My mind in another world
Thoughts racing through my cortex
Emotions inflamed
The questions, the lies…”

JenniferBroken Angel

“I bare no body, bare no name.
I wanted just to be loved; a gentle touch would do,
Then again what is safe? I thought that I was safe with them too.”

Kate HillenbrandMy Story

“That was the end of it, for them. But not for me. I struggled, and continue to struggle. Though I may not know the answers yet, I am alive, and for that I am happy.”

Lee Ann WalkerMore to Me

“I am not the sheltered, adolescent fool once taped at the mouth to keep me quite. There are noises that escape my mouth. I am free to speak and share and love. I know now it is not an all or nothing world, I am divided like a fraction and I can share my triumph that beaches itself on my shoulders feeling no shame in my journey.”

Renee K.My Own Pearl Harbor Day

“The definition of rape on wikipedia is “an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or without sexual penetration of another person without that person’s consent.” So I guess that it happened – I was raped. It feels like an outer body experience saying that. I always associated rape with a dark ally, a forceful stranger, screams of pain in the night. I never even conceived that it could happen in my own bed among friends suffering in silence.”

SAAM Feature 16: Lin

Sidewalk Poem

by: Lin

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Note from the Author: I wanted to share something I wrote when I returned to the street where I was abducted when I was 12.  I was abducted there,  raped and beat up in a car someplace I could not see.  The man who took me did the same to 16 other girls before he was caught. It was 1976.

I wrote this as my personal declaration when I went back two years ago. I wrote it in yellow chalk on the sidewalk so it would be there forever. When rain erased it, I know part penetrated the earth and made its home there.

I did not come here
so you could tear off a piece of my life
beat the warmth from the smile on my face
still, then silence my voice

I came back to find and embrace
the beauty strength and grace
that is all my own

And to declare:

That I can warm the world
when I smile with my whole body

And I am learning to speak
from my heart without saying a word

I did not come here
so you could tear off a piece of my life

I came to sample the taste of freedom
and know how it feels to be whole

Visit Lin’s blog to see more of her writing: www.dealingwithhealing.blogspot.com