Terror From Within
Cry If I want to.jpg

Have you ever had an experience that played over and over in your mind? One that caused you to wake in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning?  One that wouldn't allow you to go back to sleep no matter how hard you tried? One that caused you to look something straight in the eye and face it head on? Better yet, the real question is have you ever had a dream about sexual assault? Well, for many survivors these types of dreams occur regularly. As a survivor you live for the day when you can sleep again, when you can close your eyes and not remotely think, see, or feel anything regarding sexual assault. 

 

When one finally reaches that point when their dreams are no longer interrupted by that terror, they begin to believe they will never have to experience it again or at least I did. I believed that my dreams were free from that terror. It seems that in light of the influx of sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations in the news, we don’t actually have to be sleep to see & hear about this. We all can’t seem to escape from the the topic. When I arrived home one day last week, I was angry and a bit sadden out of no where by the recent allegations. As many are debating if these stories are true or not, as well as the comments of “Well, who's next to go down? Over the last couple of months many have turned their noses up at many of these allegations. Made rude comments such as “survivors are only after money and spotlight” and more.  For many who have experienced sexual assault the experience alone is it’s own headline as it plays over and over and over in your brain! “It's pure hell and fighting through without taking your own life isn't easy”. The flash back, dreams, feelings of no self worth, the horror, the pain, the depression, the triggers and more. It literally pissed me off that the concept of understanding that being affected by sexual harassment & sexual assault doesn't appear simple for some. “If you haven't sexually harassed or assaulted someone then your not next but if you did yes you very much could be next”. I decided I needed to table my thoughts, feelings and call it day because fighting this fight can become very overwhelming. I went to sleep only to be greeted by this in my dreams. I thought I was legit free from the terror until today, when it began to haunt me yet again. Funny thing though, this haunting was a little different. It didn't involve reliving my experience, screaming and fighting but yet it involved me looking the terror in the eye yet again. I realized that terror exist not just for survivors but the alleged or perpetrator and family, friends of both parties as well as the general public too. Many may say “why do you care about anyone else besides survivors”, To answer that, it’s less about care & more about trying to understand why does rape, molestation & sexual assault exist, in order to prevent it as well as examine the results of this experience overall. 

 

I woke up to the news that Kentucky Republican State Rep Don Johnson, accused of sexual assault died in an apparent suicide. As a survivor of sexual assault I’m truly sadden by the death of this man. The idea that he felt suicide was his only way of dealing with the allegations breaks my heart. I wonder what he thought, felt and what made him do it? I’ve been legit grieved by this news. I am truly and earnestly praying for his family. The terror Johnson, must have been experiencing to move forward with taking his own life made me think of the terror survivors feel daily. Sadly, the internal hell that some are experiencing due to allegations is quite similar to the hell of living life as a survivor. Not to compare pain but I only can speak from one view because I've experienced it. Overall, this helped me to realize that the terror of sexual assault can affect us all. 

 

Terror is defined by webster as “a state of intense fear.” In luau of sexual assault, terror can visit all of those who are affected by the experience. Whether you are the one that inflicted the terror upon yourself or others, if it was inflicted upon you first hand by way of another,  if you care & support someone who’s living in terror or if you’ve vicariously experienced it as a result of the news…terror is terror! 

 

Katherine Zimmerman of the National review recently entitled an article “America Won’t Win The War On Terror Until It Understands The Enemy.” This remains true on the terror of sexual assault & harassment. Until we can understand the full impact sexual assault & harassment has on our country, we will forever loose the war on this terror! This holiday season and the many reports are merely triggers of their own experiences. While the #MeToo movement is a great victory for the sexual violence community it can be the enhancement of terror.  Some can't celebrate without crying due to the reminder that finally our crowns are being recognized but we've endure so much pain before our voice could be heard.  You may be thinking what can I do to help wipe the tears...Begin to understand by:

 

Spreading Awareness- Many people have heard of sexual assault  & harassment but many are unaware of the impact. Awareness has to occur before education & action can take place.

 

Hold People Accountable For Their Actions- If there is no responsibility taken it send the message that certain actions are permissible and allows for continuation and people suffering in silence. Accountability invokes Responsibility. 

 

Support Survivors- Show survivors that you care, believe and validate their experiences. Fighting a fight when your weak & alone lessens your chances of winning. Support in the way of advocacy, counseling, therapy, support groups, coalitions, family & friends can make a world of different for someone experiencing the terror of sexual assault.

 

Educate Yourself & Your Community- Education is the most powerful weapon in the world! If we begin to educate people we then can lessen the risk factors and possibly prevent sexual assault from running rampant in our country or even across the world.

 

Understand Power Dynamics, Privilege And Dismantle it-  Sexual Violence is an act that is an act perpetuated by power & control. To understand, break down and win the war against terror we must first understand the systems that are in place that help enhance the power dynamics in our country and how they impact sexual violence.

 

Help us win the war on terror today by doing your part! We all have the proper weapons in our reach, question is are we willing to engage in battle?

 

If the terror from with becomes too much for you Call 1-800-273-8255 or 215 985-3333 email  or text us at info@asurvivorsvoice.org. 

LaQuisha Anthony, Founder – CEO of V.O.I.C.E, Author, Speaker & Voice Coach

 

 

Restore Your Life! with the 1, 2, 3’s of Confrontation

When’s the last time you had to deal with a good or bad confrontation?
In preparing to write this blog, I was thinking…

‘Who in the world likes confrontation? No one really or at least not many who will verbally admit that they do.

Confrontation is something we all must deal with and ultimately master in a manner that’s beneficial to our growth and maturity. In life we are faced with many issues that calls for us to confront someone we are in relationship with. It could be God, family, friends, spouse, employers, colleagues or even ourselves.

Depending upon the type of individual you are, confrontation can be very difficult. While for others it may seems to be a regular occurrence of everyday life.
What I discovered is that no matter which type of person you are, the form of confrontation that is most difficult is when you have to confront yourself.

Confronting your own issues, mishaps, poor behaviors and ideologies and more can be extremely challenging.Confronting yourself is the most important form of confrontation. If you can’t confront yourself, you will never be able to confront anyone else in a healthy and proper manner. If you struggle with confronting you, CLICK HERE to receive the free #GetEngaged Pledge tools on confrontation.

In life, we are often times hit with things that cause us to respond in ways that aren’t always very becoming of us. That’s why confrontation makes so many people feel uncomfortable.

Have you ever been in a situation that challenges you in a way that you’ve never experienced before? Maybe an experience that forces you to stand up and be bold about how you feel, think and what you need? If so, it’s okay and it’s normal.

No matter who we are confronting, confrontation is necessary at times and how we go about it is important. I remember when I had to confront myself regarding how I coped and handed my life after being raped. I found myself in a very destructive pattern of self harm that was leading to a downward spiral.

Confronting myself meant that I had to confront the very issue of rape. For years I kept silent and pretend as if it didn’t happen, hoping that it would one day disappear. Like many issues, it never disappeared. It just roared its ugly head through my behaviors, thoughts, feeling and interactions with other.

For quite sometime, I thought something was wrong with everyone I came in contact with. After a series of the same type of situations occurring over and over again, I was forced to see the common factor in each relationship or situation that I deemed an issue was me. At that time, I had to take a moment and confront myself and the issue that caused me to self destruct.

Whom or what do you need to confront today?Confrontation means either to face a situation that makes you uncomfortable, or to say something to someone about something they’ve done that bothers you.

Question is how do we know when its time to confront something and how do we do that?

Step 1: Evaluate the issue! Take a moment to sit back and examine your actions, thoughts, feelings and concerns. Evaluate whether it’s something that is an legitimate issue or not? Often times there may be things that arise that you merely perceive to be an issue, but they are solely a product of your perception only — which is often based upon past experiences, insecurity, a spirit of offense or current fears.

Step 2:Identify who you must confront! Who or what must you address in order to rectify the situation? There could be one person or there could be multiple people or none at all. Take into account who needs to be confronted. Is it someone close to you, a colleague, business partner, church member, family member, yourself or God?

Step 3: Pray and strategize a plan! How will you confront him or her, when and where will you confront them? Is it a private matter or should it be done in the presence of others?

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” ~Matthew 18:15-17 NIV

There is a time, tone and turf you must take into consideration when confronting someone. Be sure it’s the right time because timing is everything. What tone of voice will you use? Will it be a condescending tone, an authoritative tone, a sarcastic tone or an even tone? Tone matters if you want someone to hear you out. Also, where will you confront this matter? What’s the best place, neutral territory, public place in a private place? All these factors should be taken into consideration before you set out to confront someone, even yourself!

Now that you have the 3 most important steps to confrontation today. Go out –examine, identify, pray and strategize for your next confrontation. Be honest with yourself and those you hope to confront. Also, remember, confronting yourself is most important. The object of confrontation is to uncover and expose what makes you uncomfortable, while creating a safe space of understanding and restoration.

Its easy as 1,2,3! ~LaQuisha Anthony, Founder – CEO of V.O.I.C.E, Author, Speaker & Voice Coach

Genesis Dorsey
Does Free Will = Pro Choice?

Wednesday was International Women’s Day! Women around the world were celebrating and allowing their voices to be heard loud and clear concerning the issues we are facing in our country and around the world. In lou of the 45th president's use of power, the security of women’s rights as we know them has been challenged. Many are alarmed, scared and extremely disgusted. While this day should have been a day of celebrating accomplishments, encouraging other women to break the mode and shatter glass ceilings. Unfortunately, there was a dark cloud that over shadowed the day. That cloud was filled with the impending gloom of change concerning women world wide. While for some it was the personal fight to protect reproductive care, for others it was a fight for every woman's right to choose, a few others unfortunately, it was a reminder or trigger of the awful experience of rape, molestation, sexual assault or sexual violence they endured in the past. The mere idea that the liberties and rights we now process over our bodies is one that is being threaten can be a trigger for some. It stands as a reminder that we don't have control over what happens with our bodies. The defunding of places such planned parenthood and the cotrovesy over abortion, leaves the feeling of being raped again but this time by the governmental system. 

This one hit close to home for many, one of those people was our founder LaQuisha Anthony. She shared with our team the other day her heartfelt concern and care for those who may have felt what she felt or was merely reminded of their experience due to the idea of someone else having control over your body. 

She celebrated Women's Day by wearing red, giving staff the day off and having her yearly gynecological exam. Never dawning on her until after, that her appointment symbolized many things. She said “It reminded me of how we are standing, fighting for the rights over our bodies which to someone who has been violated and didn't have control over what happen to their bodies makes the idea of the that experience more freighting and disheartening. The debate surrounding funding for reproductive care and abortion is one that's extremely controversial. This debate will probably be one that lives on until the end of time. Many fluctuate on their stance based off of different religious and moral views, the way society stands at that moment and other internal factors. Even Trump has had his share of fluctuation concerning his views. Trump has had many different stances on women’s right & particularly abortion over the years. From the years of 1989-2016 he has held a pro-choice fundraiser, he said he was pro-choice but "hates it," and he didn't declare himself anti-abortion until he began to consider the idea of running for president. He then solidified his anti-abortion stance again after he announced his candidacy.  He even went so far as to suggest that women should have be punished for seeking abortion, before  recanting those comments shortly after. He supports support abortion in the cases of  rape, incest, and if life of the mother is endangered. This forms another question though, how do you prove these circumstances?

While I am a christian my views have been shaped by many different factors. I’m a devote christian, follower of Christ & servant yet I’m a survivor of sexual abuse who had an abortion as a result of my experience. Can you imagine how all of those things have influenced my position? As I examined this a little closer something stuck out to me and many questions were raised. Many that I struggled with during and after my abortion. Does having an abortion make you any less of a christian and a lover of Christ? How many christians would admit they had an abortion in their lifetime if they weren't shamed or looked at funny? If I had to relive my experience would I have chose differently? Is it right for one to determine what another can & cannot do with their bodies? Would God forgive me and would I forgive myself? Does supporting or gaining care from a place like planned parenthood mean you are in support of abortion? As well as whether this idea of revoking funding to an organization like planned parenthood due to a percentage of that funding contributing towards  abortion, is it morally right? So many questions that many in my position would probably have several different answers for.

s I loomed over my answers I thought about my own personal situation. As I laid down with my legs in the stirrups, I glanced over at the utensils used for my pap smear and I  immediately felt grateful that I could even receive this care and attention to my lady parts. Especially, without a thought about of how I would be able to pay for it. I thought back to the moments in my life when I was a young girl who didn't have health insurance. Planned Parenthood was where I and many other young people went to gain care and education. I honestly don't know what my teenage into young adult years would have been like without the services they provided me ranging from free birth control, education, reproductive care and yes even my abortion.

I then found myself having thoughts that I didn't expect to have. It was as if I traveled back in time for a moment. There I was 19 again, pregnant, suffering from severe depression which I wasn't aware of until years later, mere shock and PSTD. My life had just hit the fan and the pieces that knew of it was quickly crumbling around me. As I laid there a while longer, my doctor throughly conducting my exam, I felt as if I was traveling back through time to the day I decided to go through with my abortion. It was the most difficult decision I ever made in my life. I remember being severely depressed as a result of being raped and hating myself more because of what was growing inside of me. Being pregnant was a constant reminder of that horrible experience and how my life would never be the same because of it. I didn't love myself, didn't know how to receive the love of God in this situation nor did I know how to love what was growing inside of me because of how it was formed. Just like my experience of rape, I wanted the whole pregnancy experience to just disappear. Yes, I was saved, I loved God but I had no clue what to do. All I knew was what I couldn't handle in that moment. I had to decide what I wanted to do. I was afraid, ashamed, fearful, in full torment and suicidal(No one knew) but I also felt comfort in knowing that I had a choice. Whether it was the right one or the wrong one, it was a choice I could make and no one could force me or take that choice away from me. It was something me and God would have to hash out on our own. After not having a choice for so long throughout the ordeal, here I was faced with a choice. I didn't realize then how much that meant for me. It was reaffirming that my ability to choose still existed, that I had a choice to receive prenatal care, to terminate my pregnancy or to carry to term and raise my child or give it up for adoption. That choice was the beginning of my power being transferred back to me, I had a say!

17 years later that day still sits with me, I can see it all so clear. I was smack dab in the middle of the hurt, pain, confusion, fear, trauma, freedom of choice, faith, love and every other feeling & emotion that was represented that day but God shifted me back to the place of freedom with the covering of His grace & mercy that I now lie in. Laying on the table during this regular exam God spoke to me about how His grace was and still is suffienct. Also, my mind shifted to my overall relationship with God. In this relationship I was given a choice, He granted me free will in this life. The idea of free will proposed an array of other questions for me. Does that mean God is pro choice? Does pro choice = Free will? Does that mean that abortion is the greatest sin of all? Does that mean that one shouldn’t have the freedom to decide what they do with their own bodies? Hmmm thats the big question! I believe this debate will live on forever concerning these things long after Roe vs Wade until the day that its  you vs God.

Although, God gives us commands and instructions on how to live this life He still offers us the choice whether to follow Him or not. This reminded me of Romans 24:15 when Joshua spoke the words "Choose this day who you will serve". The people had to decide if they would serve & obey the Lord or another. I believe that's something every christian has been faced with and is faced with daily. We have to choose daily to reaffirm our choice to serve God and follow the spirit or serve another. Ponder this if God offers us a choice to serve Him or not and to follow His commands then how is it that we argue the government shouldn't all in the name of God. Just an interesting thing to think about. Should free will not exist in this case?

No matter what happens within our government I am just grateful to God that I was able to choose and that choice didn't make Him love me any less. Lets be clear I'm not promoting we all go get an abortion and this is the perfect path. All I saying is this is my story! That may not be your story but its an intricate piece of mines. A piece I use to be afraid to share but because I serve a loving God who's grace is sufficient, I walk in a freedom that I never knew truly existed. I am no longer ashamed of the choices I've made but just grateful! To anyone who is living in shame, fear or regret God's grace is sufficient for you too! Guess what this may shock many, I wouldn't change my decision either. Shoot me or hang me on the cross if you want. The thing about the story of my life is, it has shaped me into the woman I am today! I have no regrets or shoulda, coulda, woulda's because I know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Not just the pretty, kosher, proper, delicate things but ALL THINGS! I’m not here to argue wether one should be pro choice or pro abortion or not, just wanted to pose the question does free will = pro choice?  And If God offers a choice to serve Him or not should the government offer a choice on what women can do with their bodies? Should reproductive care be on the chopping block? Is there a way to make everyone happy? What do you believe is right & wrong? Answer these questions for yourself  then you can decide your stance. Either way, I'm just grateful God is not like man and I'm able to be free from it all!

Does Free Will = Pro Choice? -V.O.I.C.E Team & LaQuisha Anthony, Founder – CEO of V.O.I.C.E, Author, Speaker & Voice Coach

Laquisha Anthony
The Night President Obama Saved My Life

As we as American citizens are on the brink of electing our next president many of us cant help but reflect on the 8 year tenure of our latest President, Barack Obama. As we journey to the polls to cast our ballots in one the most grueling, unbelievably ugly yet historical political battles we have every witnessed concerning the running for this high office. We cant help but to thinkabout what will happen next? Who will be our next president? Either way it will be a moment in history we will never forget but will it be because of the First Woman president or the First ever non politician to hold this office? Despite which way history is made, the question many are posing is exactly how does a president truly impact the lives of everyday Americans like me? Can an American presidential candidate actually affect our everyday lives on an local and individual level? Many believe that choosing a president isn't really a big deal because it wont directly affect those who are on the bottom of the totem pole. While others believe that their vote doesn’t matter at all. There are also those who argue that voting is necessary and has a direct impact on ones life. We could argue for days about our points and views so therefore, I urge you to cease from the arguing for a moment. As your headed to the polls take a moment reflect on how did the last president impact your life. Whether big or small, whether direct or indirect, whether for the better or for worse, just think. You just might see something you've never seen before and it just might motivate you to choose a candidate that speaks to your heart or concern, plans on policy or the very core of who you are. Or you just may choose base it off of the character of the individual and their compelling speeches alone. Whatever the reason choose wisely and think about how will this president affect my life and the lives of those I love and care about.

Now I know many will still argue that “a president can’t and won't affect my life. They are too far removed from my situation.” Well, you aren't alone in that line of thinking. I once thought the same thing until Nov. 5, 2008, when President Obama gave his acceptance speech as he was named the first African American President of the United States. Now that accomplishment alone changed my life because it was monumental for our people. The excitement, pure joy, astonishment, pride and several other unexplainable emotions that African Americans shared along with others from around the world, united us in a way like never before. He became a real life symbol that we as African Americans could be whatever we wanted to be in this world despite the restrictions that have been placed upon us for hundreds of years. It was a moment that pushed us to rise up and recognize who we truly are, recognize that our abilities can stretch far beyond us and what I ancestors imagined could actually occur. Of course one man couldn’t quite change the course of the glass ceiling for people of color but this was an accomplishment for all, that caused us all to dream bigger.

That moment alone should have been the moment of life saving but it wasn’t. President Barack Obama saved my life because he poured words and hope into me through a tv screen.
“I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was in my living room of my small apartment and I was extremely depressed and suicidal. That day was suppose to be my last day on this earth. I had enough of the pain and turmoil I was experiencing and I truly believed that I was better off dead. My television just so happened to be on and as I sat in the middle of my floor contemplating how I would take myself out of here, the votes rolled in and it was announced that Barack Obama was named our 44th president. Slowly, it captured my attention. It served as a distraction from my current state. In the midst of my tears, pain and overall disgust with life ant the trauma I endured, I found myself on the floor crying. It wasn’t until he took the stage and opened his mouth did things truly change for me. As he told the story of the 106 year old African American woman, Ann Nixon Cooper who casted her vote and all she saw and endured over the years.  The fact that she still had a yes we can spirit, who was I not to have one as well? If she could endure all of that from post slavery period to segregation, to women not being able to vote and still have hope and faith for change and the courage to cast her vote, then I should too! He went on to say, “And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can. At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can”

I cried my heart out thanking God for sending me the motivation and the courage to say yes I can! His passion and belief was real, raw and wrapped in unbelievable hope.  Most of all, it sent me the message that my voice had power. Well 8 years later here I am alive and well and doing all that I set out to do, so that others can believe that they can too! Helping others find their voice and recognize the power that they have. Now this presidential race might not give you that type of experience but but it just might open the eyes of yet another young girl and cause her to believe something that she never believed was possible before is now possible! Or shape the way a young boy views women or believes he should act. That sexual assault is merely ‘locker room talk or behavior”. Regardless of who you choose know that they will be sending a message, the question is which message do you want sent? Exercise your civic duty and right! Go Vote and send the message that best fits your voice or the voice you would like your children or family to have! James Baldwin said it best, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” The message you send is what they will imitate! Their lives are in your hands!

The Night President Obama Saved My Life~ LaQuisha Anthony, Founder – CEO of V.O.I.C.E, Author, Speaker & Voice Coach

Laquisha Anthony