Real Talk x Denim Day
Today 4/24 - many of us will walk with Beauty For Freedom, in tribute to #DenimDay! Survivors and supporters join together to share why SAAM is important. What this month means for them, and how to best support them in time of need. This is for survivors all around the world, to see that they are not alone. This journey can be scary, it can feel like rock bottom. But we are here, and we are standing and fighting to support those that are kept silent. Those that have been turned away and failed by family or the justice system. We are with you, we will fight for you!
My name is Amanda Acevedo, born and raised in the LES. I am a Latina, an Artist, Advocate, and survivor.
Awarenesses of Sexual Assault should be acknowledged EVERYDAY, because sadly, this occurs EVERYDAY. SAAM is important because survivors need to know they are not alone. I never spoke out because I felt certain emotions, I felt other couldn’t relate to. So instead of asking for help I continued to feel disgusted in my own body. Afraid of affection, cringing from the touch of another. I did not acknowledge my PTSD, I thought “maybe I am just weird?” “Is something wrong with me?” It wasn’t until recently, after 13 years I found others who have been through or felt those same exact things. I found support, care and a safe space. There are other survivors who can’t even speak up in fear of family, opinions, or simply just aren’t ready. And so SAAM is important for those who are being kept silent. You are not alone. You are not weird! You are not disgusting!! And you are so, so worthy of love and life.
A message to supporters. Please be patient with us, we all require different care and actions. Respect our boundaries.
Hello! My name is Meghan. I’m a 21 year old Asian American born and raised in Brooklyn. I am a part-time student, model, and am currently hustling two jobs.
I never thought that sexual assault awareness was going to affect me as much as it did last year. Being a victim of sexual assault is a very sensitive topic for me because on New Year’s Eve in Paris I thought I wasn’t going to make it home- I thought I was going to die. Majority of the women including my friends and I were targeted on Champs Élysées and there was no place to run as the clock was counting down the minutes to 2019. We were heavily taken advantage of by men and it was the worst feeling in the world. I wouldn’t be standing here today if I didn’t use the last of my strength to fight back. I knew I had to make it home because there was no way that I was giving up. This couldn’t be my goodbye.
I’m here to tell you to never give up no matter how hard things become. I thought suppressing my feelings and emotions will help, but it only made things worse. We mustn’t shy away and hide; rather it is crucial to embrace the past and recognize that you are here today for a reason, because you are strong and brave and will be able to get through ANYTHING. You were able to beat the odds no matter what life has thrown towards your way. I know you must be mad, or hurt, or depressed, but life is too precious to succumb to bad memories. I pray this blip in your life will serve as a reminder of how you were able to break free. YOU are a SURVIVOR. YOU are not alone. Remember, that this too shall pass.
I’m a queer Latina writer + creative who is very sex positive and open minded about a lot of things women have been socialized to be reserved about. SAAM is important to me because it sheds light on the nuances of abuse. I remember once letting an ex of mine have sex with me even though I didn’t want to but I knew if I didn’t he would go sleep on the couch and it’d be a big deal. I remember being in disbelief that he was enjoying sex with me since I wasn’t moving or engaging. The next day it was as if nothing happened. It took me years to process that and to be able to call it out for what it was. My message would be to trust your feelings and emotional judgements on what feels right and not what is and isn’t right for others. If you’re uncomfortable during a sexual encounter say no. Even if all the clothes are off, say no. Even if it’s your uncle who is making you feel uncomfortable at family functions when he’s drunk, say no. Trust me, you’re not alone.
I am a half Puerto Rican, half Dominican young woman. Twenty-two years old to be exact. I live in Spanish Harlem. I love the arts and anything that has to do with self-expression. I also, very proudly, advocate for people to believe in self-love, as well as self-care.
SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) is important to me because I myself, am a victim in my own way. As a victim of sexual harassment, highlighting awareness about sexual harassment and assault, enhancing the importance of consent is essential and important to me. In addition to raising awareness, educating communities on the issue and having a conversation about the assault can and will help prevent these immoral acts, as well as provide understanding and empathy for those who have gone through their own traumas. It will also lead people to take assault more seriously.
One message I want to share with other survivors is that it is never your fault, the blame falls on the perpetrator. The stereotypes surrounding assault are very harmful and incorrect. For instance (a common one), the way you were dressed does not mean “you were asking for it.” It is okay to speak up because you are not alone. Your voice matters and your story can help/support other individuals. But if you are not yet in that place to be vocal about your experiences, know you are still valid and still strong.
I'm a first generation immigrant from the Philippines. I move here in New York about three years ago now. I am 17 years old. I study fashion at High School of Fashion Industries. I am a passionate young advocate for Human Rights, LGBTQI rights, Racial and Gender Equality and any form of anti discrimination.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important for me because I want to give voices to those who think they don't. Sexual assault is an inhumane act against someone. You feel invaded, shamed and defiled. A lot of sexual assault survivors don't report what they've been through because they fear that no one will believe them and of course the U.S justice system is fucked up. People often say "oh maybe she should've tried to look modest or he's a guy, that's really ridiculous to think he was raped.”
A lot of that leads to self blame, which then leads to succumbing to their own wounds. I wanted to be that person to say I BELIEVE YOU, because it really takes one person to believe for you to stand up again. A single lit of a match can light up a hundred candles. My message to sexual assault survivors is that you can survive through it all. You are strong, you are brave and no matter what life takes from you, always believe in yourself. Never, ever let that demon take hold of you. Yes, it may take awhile to heal but what I know for sure is if you surround yourself with the right people, who will be there for you and support you in your journey; I know you can rise up again. Life is unfair, and unjust, and sometimes it isn't necessarily your choices that fuck up your life. Sometimes its taken out of your hands. But really, you can smile, you can laugh, and with the appropriate amount of help you can rebuild your life no matter what, We stumble and we fall but we hold our head high and and get up on our feet again. All you have to do is to want to rebuild it. Human beings are amazingly durable both physically and mentally. Yes I carry scars. But I'm carrying on because I believe its worth it. Really that's just what I'm hoping for out of these movements; that we can get to the stage where any victim of any gender is able to speak out and receive the proper support and be given the belief that it's possible to work through it. I want slut-shaming, outfit shaming and toxic machismo/masculinity to be a thing of the past. No one deserves it, and its never funny. Every victim/survivor deserves the chance to free themselves of their demons.
Hey, name’s Carolyn but you can call me Viah, I love art! I aspire to be a creative director of a brand that caters to each and every person. I have an immense interest in the world of fashion and I have taken a huge interest in supporting small businesses.
I like to think that I am an open minded person with a very big heart. I believe that it’s important—especially now, that we listen and respect one another because all we have is ourselves and it’s always good to talk about uncomfortable topics instead of having these feelings trapped inside.
Sexual assault awareness month is an important topic to me because it showcases that we have a deep problem within our community, and that so many of us are deeply affected by these issues. Sexual awareness month shows that people should be taken seriously and action must be taken when we talk about assault. It means a lot to address the issue and express that we care regardless of who you are!
I am a creative. I love developing ideas and producing designs/concepts that contribute to my community.
SAAM is important because, 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted at some point in their life. Everyone should be bothered by that stat. I think about the rooms I walk into filled with women and it saddens me that many have been victims to this statistic. I have a 8 year old sister and I worry for her. I want her to understand her power and to never feel ashamed of her body.
You are not alone. Don’t be ashamed. Your voice will empower anther survivor, so never stay quiet.
My name is Nova, a lot of people call me Spacelord. I'm a freelance Bengali model & creative. I'm doing an honors in sociology, major political science, and a minor in computer science.
SAAM is important to discuss because it's far too common. No matter where you go in the world sexual assault/harassment is prominent. To mitigate it, we need to discuss the behaviors that normalize sexual assault and the culture that breeds it. On Twitter I recently saw how this one popular religious Muslim account was actually harassing women, many of them being minors, threatening to rape some of them. Some people's response to the exposure of this individual was to say "it is a sin to expose another's sin" but this isn't like drinking or making minor mistakes. This behavior has consequences on the well being of those women, protecting a predator no matter who they are for whatever reason sends out the message to victims that their safety does not matter. So many victims silently suffer because of this.
How can people support us better?
People can start by believing. People can start by empathizing. People can start by calling out abusers. People can start by not supporting abusers or at least be mindful of accusations against them. Nothing was worse than the silence of the people around me and how much people switched up on me to support my abuser and try to shut me up, accusing me of wanting clout. I wanted justice, I deserved peace. I'd appreciate it if people would shut down misogyny and problematic behavior when they can. It's because of your silence on the subject that predators feel like they can get away with it.
Hello, my name is Daniella Seminario and I am a 22 year old Peruvian from NY.
SAAM is very important - especially for survivors because it’s an opportunity for them to share their story & receive support and love from their community. By doing so, we’re also allowing others to know that they’re not alone.
One way we can help is by creating spaces that are safe for survivors to share their story without being judged or blamed.
Puerto Rican Artist born and bred in the Bronx who dabbles in all things creative. Advocate for mental health and curve petite women.
I think SAAM is important because it allows survivors to feel that their experience(s) and feelings that go along with it are valid. It helps uplifts survivors and unite them with others who have gone through the same things. It helps makes us stronger while highlighting that rape culture and assault are still alive and visible. We must do more to prevent these measures and that means teaching our children how to respect people’s personal space, learning the value of the word “no” and “consent” and preparing our children with the tools for a what-if case scenario.
Your assault does not define you. You are not a victim anymore but a survivor. You are strong and I pray this will never happen to you again. You are loved and worthy or love in return. That healthy respectful kind of love, it’s out there and it’s also in you. Don’t let this hold you back from the wonderful days ahead.
How can people support me better?
People can truly respect the words coming out my mouth. If I don’t want you to touch me, don’t. If you comment on my body inappropriately and I say something in return, don’t be defensive. Do not think it’s okay to joke around because I asked you not to do something that made me feel uncomfortable. Respect my feelings. Respect each other. Also, show empathy if I open up to you but do not pity me. I don’t need nor want pity.
Hi! I’m Nicole. Half Ecuadorian, half Nicaraguan. I’m a Community Organizer, part-time photographer, full-time activist who enjoys to travel and watch horror movies.
Sexual Assault Awareness should be part of every single day until people fully educate themselves, until people truly understand that asking for consent is a healthy, necessary, part of everyday interactions.
As a survivor of sexual assault, I know and I understand how painful and shameful it can be to share your experiences with the world. Even though, the time you take for wanting to heal and share, it’s completely up to you. But once you do, it’s so liberating. You get to break out of those shame shackles you carry around thanks to society’s judgement, you get to finally heal yourself of something that was in NO WAY your fault, and most importantly you get to help others. It takes time but it gets better.
Hi, my name is Gianna Valentin. I am 16 years old. I play soccer; love to bake, and hope to own a bakery!
My Story: (TW: Rape/Sexual Assault)
The summer of 2016 has just begun! I had gone to my grandparents house, at the time my uncle (50-60 years old) was staying there. I had not known at the time that he was very sick in the head. So not knowing really much about him, I thought I could be comfortable around an “uncle.” I sit on the couch and notice him trying to get closer to me. He started to grab my face and arms so I couldn’t move. He kept kissing my body and eventually took off his pants. I kept on screaming help! But no answer, the only other person who was home at the time was my grandma...but she was in the shower and couldn’t hear me.
One quote I live by is “Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives”
One thing I want to say to others is... Be yourself! Don’t let anyone define who you are or break you apart!
One thing I’d hope to change into sharing my story is to gain strength.
self love means a lot to me.. if I don’t feel I have self love for myself than I find it’s harder for me to love someone else
One thing I’d love to tell a woman everywhere is that she is beautiful, strong and can do whatever you put your mind to!
Something I would say to my younger self is that there is a time and place for everything