I am extremely thankful to Dr. Pamela Pine, founder and CEO of Stop the Silence, for affording me the opportunity and honor of being their International Spokesperson. Stop the Silence is an organization doing so much to help so many sexual abuse victims and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation. With over 500 community service hours and being an avid advocate of sexual abuse, I have already dedicated most of my life to promoting awareness. But that’s not such an easy thing to do alone. I decided that I would update the world on the issues of sexual abuse through this blog.
After being violated by a well-trusted pastor and family member starting at the age of 14, I battled suicidal thoughts and attempts, low self-esteem and depression. Facing a seemingly lifetime of emotional scars, I left home at the age of 16, which is when the abuse ended. While residing with my father, I finally broke my silence at the age of 18, only to find sorrow again after my mother disbelieved my story. Even though my abuser is still a pastor to this day, I desire to use myself as an example, encouraging others that a victim can be successful survivor after a past catastrophe. I continued to share my story as a college student and after becoming a high school teacher. It was not until I joined the pageantry arena in 2008 that people around me began to take an interest in my story.
I currently hold the title of Mrs. Owings Mills International 2009, in preparation for the Mrs. Maryland International pageant in April 2009. I actively promote my platform through the Stop the Silence organization. My platform, Stop the Silence: Sexual Abuse Education & Support presents a two-pronged approach—educating the public about the realities of sexual abuse and supporting and encouraging survivors through the recovery process. I also founded an organization, Queendom, where I mentor, encourage and teach teenage girls in Baltimore City about feminine etiquette and sexual abuse. A large part of my presentation is devoted to dispelling myths about sexual abuse and sharing recovery options such as counseling, hotlines and support groups.
The mission of Stop the Silence is to expose and stop child sexual abuse and help survivors heal worldwide. The organization’s overarching goals are to: 1) help stop child sexual abuse and related forms of violence; 2) promote healing of victims and survivors; and 3) celebrate the lives of those healed. The aim is to address the relationships between child sexual abuse and the broader issues of overall family and community violence, and violence within and between communities. The focus of Stop the Silence underlines the importance of a shift in focus on positive development within our social complexes (e.g., the relationships between men, women, adults and children, cultural groups) to support peaceful – and to hinder violence-prone – relationships.
I participated in the Pepsi International Race to Stop the Silence in April 2008 and the 2008 24-hour Global Virtual Advocacy Marathon. I am currently working on a fundraising event and refining information for Stop the Silence to be able to provide to future volunteers. I have goals of planning a large fundraiser, consisting of a survivor dinner, where awareness and Stop the Silence will be promoted, and I will be participating in the Maryland Community Program educating the communities about child sexual abuse. I am ready to help Stop the Silence—currently assisting victims in Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Great Britain and South Africa—further take the issue of child sexual abuse to a national level and abroad.
Change.org aims to address the needs of global issues by serving as the central platform informing and empowering movements for social change. I have been able to begin promoting Stop the Silence nationally and abroad through Change.org by serving as the Website Administrator of the dashboard. Since the site began in 2007, Stop the Silence has been able to raise money and has gained the support of 837 supporters to date from 49 countries. Through this site, my goal is to raise $5,000 by the end of 2009 for the International Race to Stop the Silence and the Survivor Dinner in 2010.
My Stop the Silence volunteer experiences have changed my life. I have been able to speak with and help so many victims. I have been able to encourage victims who once contemplated suicide, offer concrete names of persons or phone numbers to victims who had no idea who to turn to and I personally have been able to heal in the process of helping so many. Stop the Silence can do so much for suffering victims. Stop the Silence uses community education, the annual marathon and fundraisers to help heal the pain of victims of child sexual abuse, help victims better understand and manage their feelings and outcomes, and connect families facing similar challenges so that no one is uneducated about such a serious issue and crime. I truly believe in the work that this organization does and the positive impact its program has on abuse victims and their entire families. Stop the Silence is dedicated to helping these families find some relief… to help them feel less isolated… to improve their quality of life during and after very difficult times.
This blog is dedicated to Stopping the Silence....