Trigger warning: This content contains discussions including trauma and sexual abuse. The following may be triggering for readers with similar experiences. Please read at your own discretion.
Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Sexual Assault hotline: 800-656-4673.

April is SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month). The purpose of this blog is to spread awareness about sexual abuse by sharing personal stories, resources, and spreading information. For more ways to help, please locate our resources portion of this blog.

Jeremy Indika

When I turned 24, my life began to change. I started having severe bouts of sadness that seemed to come out of nowhere. They would leave me feeling low and upset. I was confused, asking myself, “What is going on? Why is this happening?”

These episodes lasted hours, coming at the most unexpected times, and coupled with memories of my past. Why now?! I had come so far since the abuse. I had a good job, great friends, and life was generally going well. Of course, I had never forgotten what had happened to me. Occasionally, something would happen that would remind me of the abuse, but I didn’t care; life was good, and I wanted it to stay that way.

I decided the best thing to do was to fight the memories. But it seemed the more I pushed, the more strength it gave them. They started attacking me from all angles, and I couldn’t hold them off. It was at this point that I knew the fight was over, and I needed to do something about it.

I spoke out for the first time to a close friend when I was 27 years old, which was just short of 20 years after the abuse happened. As soon as I did this, I felt an incredible lift, like I had really achieved something remarkable. This encouraged me to continue telling one person at a time as the years went on, and with each time, I could feel myself growing in confidence. This was a fantastic feeling, and to add to this, as the confidence grew, the fear of what other people may think was reducing.

I began spending a lot of time reflecting

 on the journey I had been on to get to this point. The different stages of coming to terms with my past and figuring out how to move forward with it all. I started to wonder what other people may be going through. How were they doing? How were they getting on?

I started searching online in an attempt to find out. I came across a chat room where people were writing their stories and expressing how they feel. There was one message in particular that struck me so hard. It was from a 70-year-old woman who explained that she had never told anybody what happened to her as a child. She feels that it is one of the main reasons that held her back in life, and now that her time is over, she will take this secret to the grave with her. I just couldn’t believe it; I felt so sad for her. It made me realize how fortunate I was to have people around me that I could tell. I felt a sense of gratitude for this situation, and it made me feel like I should try to do something with my story.

I began to think about what I could do, and I thought the first thing should be to tell my story in public. I remembered that I had been to an open mic night earlier that year which was an open event to the public where you could sign up on the door and perform that night. I decided this would be a good starting point. I could go as a storyteller and begin sharing my story this way.

These events were in the pubs and the bars all around London. They were busy venues where people came to have a drink with

friends and listen to the musicians performing. It was the wrong environment for my story. The audience looked uncomfortable as I spoke, and things were not going well. I had one venue cut my microphone halfway through. I literally couldn’t believe it; I felt utterly defeated. It was like I couldn’t take one more night. But I knew I couldn’t stop. It was the only platform available to me, and if I wanted to make anything out of this, I had to keep going.

I knew I needed to improve my performance and become creative with how I told my story if I stood any chance at these venues. I started experimenting with different ideas. I wrote a performance that explained why I never said anything when the abuse was going on, and I delivered it over music. It was catching people’s attention. One night, in particular, I started with 2 or 3 people watching. By the end of my performance, I had the whole venue’s attention. They clapped and cheered, and I will never forget that moment. From here, I knew I was on to something.

I began performing at every event that I could. I didn’t care what type of venue it was anymore. If the night went ‘badly,’ then so be it, it was all helping my confidence on stage. I started recording my performances on my phone and uploading them onto social media. Somebody saw my work and told me about a poetry and spoken word open mic night happening in London, so I went. It was a room packed with a supportive audience who were there solely to watch the performers. Everybody paid full attention to the stage and showed overwhelming support. The night was fantastic. I felt like I had finally found the right platform to share my story on.

I have now been performing for 2 years, and I have various performances that I am proud of. I have collaborated with filmmakers, illustrators, and photographers to be as creative as possible in communicating this topic. Suppose things can be kept engaging and exciting for the viewer. In that case, we can bring more attention to the subject, which is essential if we stand any chance of breaking the stigma and the silence.

Thank you for listening to my story. My name is Jeremy Indika. If you would like to see more of my work on this topic, please go to @jeremyindika on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Camila Mejia

Apart from my name, you might know me as a title or as a label – co-founder, environmentalist, engineer, vegan, the daughter of, the sister of, the friend of, etc. It’s no secret that we are all far more complex than any term can describe and that we all go through several life experiences that shape us. Most people find comfort in sharing the good that has happened in life. Still, the painful subjects that truly shake and change our core are challenging to discuss yet essential. Inspired by Jeremy, Jordan, and other survivor’s stories, I have decided to choose the uncomfortably vulnerable route and open up to our readers about my story.

Few people know my profoundly personal journey in healing past my sexual assault. It’s tough to share, but now more than ever, I see the importance of doing so. It’s been about 14 years since it first happened. For years I tried repressing it, secretly feeling guilt and shame about it – as if I should have done more to prevent or protect myself from it ever happening to me. On occasions, sleeping was nearly impossible. When I finally did get to sleep, sleep paralysis wouldn’t let it be a peaceful rest. A decade after the attack, I opened up about it for the first time to my then-boyfriend, who had a family member that had gone through a similar experience. I thought I had been so good at hiding this trauma for so long, but he was the first to tell me he noticed something had happened to me and asked. It shocked me to have been “outed,” but I felt a huge weight was lifted after telling him.

by @meganmccluer

For the following four years, I have been putting all the work into surrendering and healing from this experience. I learned to be more open with my family, kinder to myself, and how to forgive the unforgivable. I had come a very long way that made me feel completely healed from it all. Then on March 25th of 2021, I accepted a VIP invitation to watch one of my favorite DJs perform and went with a best friend I have known since high school. The VIP section got a bit too packed for our dancing crave, so we decided to go out to the audience. Aware of being two women in a big event, we were cautious. I only stuck to bottled water that night, and we made sure to “shoo” away from all strangers that approached us. Never did

I expect to end up hospitalized that night from getting roofied.

Despite the terrible situation, I feel gratitude and luck. I am lucky to be here sharing this story. I am lucky my friend wasn’t roofied. I am grateful my friend could call for help and knows me well enough to notice I needed it. I am grateful my sister answered that call, helped my friend process what was going on, and directed her on what to do. I am grateful my friend got me to a hospital, talked with my family, and stayed there for me. I am grateful my parents and brother could drive to the hospital and were also there for me. I am so damn lucky and grateful, especially when I later learned that not many people are.

I was the fifth date-rape drug case that night in that one hospital.

The following couple of days, I received a lot of support from my close friends and family. However, this situation had triggered my original trauma, and I fell into a deep depressive state that drained me and probably everyone around me. Something had to change to pull me out of this state. My four-year healing journey of journaling, meditation, yoga, opening up to my family, and my spiritual connection with God has helped me heal so much, but this time it felt different. I knew I needed professional help.

by @meganmccluer

Society has always nurtured the taboo of going to therapy. Still, mental health could be our next deadly pandemic if we don’t dismantle that. Seeking the help we need is the best act of self-love there is. I’m proud that my complex journey has led me to pursue different types of treatment, from traditional therapy, BodyTalk therapy, to hypnotherapy; I’m diving deep. My experiences don’t define me; they serve me as lessons that help mold me into my most authentic self.

I am looking forward to all my healing and growth to come.

Accepting that it can happen to anyone and acknowledging that it’s unacceptable is where we are currently. Society and lawmakers need to come together to bridge those two concepts in accepting it’s unacceptable. There must be more productive consequences for the attackers and more accessible support for the survivors. To me, sexual assault awareness means knowing: you’re not alone, you did not ask for it, it was not your fault, it’s essential to tell someone, and it’s okay to ask for help.

I am sharing my story to help others feel safe coming forward to seek the support they need and bring more awareness on the subject; thank you for reading.

by @meganmccluer
Jordan Johnson

As I sit and look at my screen, I become clammy. I have always wanted my writing to surround meaningful topics, to produce inspiring pieces. Written thoughts that start conversations. However, I have never sought vulnerability until now. I am transparent with that message because, like other survivors, admitting you have been a victim can be exceptionally painful. But hearing other survivor stories was the wake-up call I needed.

Throughout college, I worked for a mental health treatment facility. Between both of these places, I learned so much regarding my own experiences and many others. I graduated college with a degree in Social Work. In my classes, we often learned about traumas, sexual assault, domestic violence, etc. Where I really became aware that I was a victim was my place of work.

Now, I know many people reading may think, “Became aware of? How didn’t she know what happened to her was wrong?”. I completely understand how that may be confusing; I didn’t get it either. The brain does strange things to cope with trauma. In my instance, I convinced myself that I wanted what happened to happen. I befriended my attacker. Instead of instantly cutting ties with this person, I continued to involve myself with them.

I realized what happened was wrong when I heard a story similar to mine. Hearing the story from someone else and how this person felt immediately caused an… awakening.

This created a domino effect of learning how I was a victim of sexual abuse in many situations. I then knew that just because I was convinced into acts does not mean they were consensual. I discovered how consent, in the beginning, does not mean the word stop is invalid.

I have been taken advantage of by people I trusted and in places like my own home.

Speaking out as a person who has been a victim in many different ways is not easy. Still, I believe many people have at least one story similar to one of mine. A lot of us do not want to see what happened to us as a ‘big deal,’ or we may have been gaslit into thinking it “could have been worse.” Still, the reality is, no matter the severity of the incident, it was not right, and you are validated. There is no shame attached to being a victim and survivor.

I hope that by sharing my awakening, many of you will reach out to someone and take

what happened to you seriously. You deserve to heal.

When do I get to choose? When do you get to choose? 

Telling a man to stop, but he doesn’t. A fear I can’t describe. 

The time slows down and is lost forever because that time is now not mine.

Washed up and used I’m ashamed to say,

I’ve been playing this little melody for more than a day.

But I have to remember it’s not my fault,

we have to remember it’s not our fault.

And I choose to teach my daughters to be stronger than me,

we will not be women who kept shut and didn’t speak.

And I will teach my sons to be wiser than others,

to never touch a woman unless consent is what they offer.

Raise your boys morally and change society,

“Boys will be boys” sounds like a lie to me.

Quit giving excuses

quit giving passes.

We won’t lose,

It’s time for us to choose.

When do I get to choose? When do you get to choose? 

Telling a man to stop, but he doesn’t. A fear I can’t describe. 

The time slows down and is lost forever because that time is now not mine.

Washed up and used I’m ashamed to say,

I’ve been playing this little melody for more than a day.

But I have to remember it’s not my fault,

we have to remember it’s not our fault.

And I choose to teach my daughters to be stronger than me,

we will not be women who kept shut and didn’t speak.

And I will teach my sons to be wiser than others,

to never touch a woman unless consent is what they offer.

Raise your boys morally and change society,

“Boys will be boys” sounds like a lie to me.

Quit giving excuses

quit giving passes.

We won’t lose,

It’s time for us to choose.