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Eight Women Opened Up About Their Sexual Assault Experiences And How They Survived

Content Warning — The following stories share details of physical and sexual abuse that could be triggering to some readers. Discretion is advised.

If you’re a woman, there’s a certain amount of extra care you have to take in our world. That’s why we go to the bathroom in groups and buy things like mace and self dense tools just in case we find ourselves the targets of attack. The numbers tell us this is a very possible situation. Statistically, 1 in 6 women are victims of an attempted or completed rape. Additionally, 1 in 4 women are the victims of domestic abuse by a significant other.  

Whether physical or sexual assault, assault completed by a stranger or a loved one, the suffering caused by these actions are very real and can lead to a lifetime of pain. We can do a lot to prevent these attacks but one of the most important things we can do for survivors after the fact is to talk about it. Addressing this pain and celebrating the strength needed to continue on afterwards helps with the difficult healing process. 

With this in mind, we asked our FIERCE readers to open up to us and talk about these traumatic experiences. What they shared spoke of the strength and perseverance of the corazón femenino. Here’s what they had to say. 

1. Healing but stronger than ever!

Instagram / @_sexual_assault_survivors

“My stepfather’s granddad molested me from 3-5 years old. He would tell me that if I told my parents they would be angry at me, so I kept it silent until 1st grade when a school nurse briefly explained what inappropriate touching was. I told her everything [and] my parents/police were called. The next morning my abuser was on a flight back to his country. My family who was supposed to protect me, instead protected him. I am still healing but stronger than ever! I refuse to let that hurt inner child shape my life.” — @rosyyaret

2. Your abuse does not define you. 

Instagram / @_sexual_assault_survivors

“I was 4 and it was my older brother. I became incredibly depressed and suicidal in high school due to the fact that I was silenced. I dropped out as soon as I turned 18. It’s taken many years of removing toxic people from my life, self love and healing. I am now a mother of two beautiful girls, I graduated high school last year at the age of 25 and I am now set to graduate from college spring 2020 with a degree in Spanish, behavioral science and sociology. I’m currently working on all my UC applications and my life is mine, I reclaimed it.

I hope that these words help someone, anyone. Your abuse does not define you or dictate your life. It gets better and you’ve got a group of hermanas and hermanos out here rooting for you. My inbox is open to anyone in need of a listening ear.” — @lichalopez__

3. We can overcome anything.

Instagram / @_sexual_assault_survivors

“4-5 year old me playing at the yard and my grandma’s ahijado abused me. A friend (6 year old boy) saw what was going on and started knocking and kicking the door until he opened it and I could run away. Had to look at this guy for years nobody knew nothing until last year that I told my husband. I’m a proud Daughter of God, a mama bear and blessed wife. We girls can overcome anything ????????????????” — @yulia2401

4. You aren’t the one who should feel ashamed. 

Instagram / @_sexual_assault_survivors

“In 4th grade, I was sexually molested by 3 class mates of mine. They pinned me up against a wall lifted my skirt and touched me inappropriately. They got 1 week of ISS (In School Suspension), because they were “just being kids.” meaning I still had to see them every day. I couldn’t attend school for nearly a month after. I felt so ashamed and dirty, kids looked at me funny because the rumors had started after.” — @kisssinpink

5. Ridding your life of toxicity is self care.

Instagram / @sexualabuserecovery

“I was 9 years old and it was my Godfather, we were at a barbecue at their house. I told my Mom immediately after it happened, she walked me over to her sister (his wife), and asked me to tell her what I just told her. She then picked me up, called my Dad over and told him we had to go. She didn’t tell him til we got home, she was afraid of his reaction as a father. They called the police and pressed charges, during the police report the officers asked my Mom, “what was she wearing?”

My Dad said, “excuse me?! she’s 9!” “I have to ask”, the officer replied…

My parents never doubted me, and supported me, our entire family turned their backs on us for “calling the cops on family”. My parents decided to move far away from their toxicity and it’s been just us ever since. I hold a lot of resentment towards him and them, that day I lost my primos, tias, tios.” — @goddess_divine_515

6. Find your voice and use it.

Instagram / @sexualabuserecovery

“I was molested by my mom’s brother from 3-7 years old and felt dirty and carried shame all throughout my childhood. At 21 I was raped in college and it felt as if my whole world came crumbling down. I could no longer try and push down what happened. I got therapy and through it I found my voice. I now have a PhD, did my dissertation on the post traumatic growth of Chicana/Latina survivors of sexual assault, and am a psychologist that has supported other survivors. If you’re reading this and you’re a survivor too, know that it is never your fault. Find a therapist or tell someone you trust. It gets better, I promise. ????”  — @biancayesss

7. Addressing what happened with yourself and others will be healing.

FIERCE/ wearemitu.com

“I was molested from age 5-9 by a family member. To this date I can’t even say who or speak his name but he passed away when I was 13. Up until a couple of years ago I thought I was stronger than what happened to me and I wouldn’t let that part of my life define me. And the fact that if I said anything, my whole family would fall apart, I couldn’t bare the thought of doing that to them. That’s what I repeated to myself over and over. Until I started losing grip on my emotions and realizing I couldn’t keep a healthy relationship. Girls seek help. I’m finally not too afraid to not do so.”

8. Learn what abuse means and no it’s not your fault.

justiceforourwomenza / Instagram

It took me nearly two years to say anything. I considered him a friend in high school and completely trusted him. I blamed myself for being alone with him, for “putting myself” in that situation. Sex was never the same after, but I thought it was just me, trying to be more “godly”.. Years later, I was in a sexual abuse prevention training and learned the different meanings of sexual abuse. No means No. Abuse is abuse. Please remember it was NEVER your fault, no matter what anyone else says.

Domestic Violence Victims Have Been Using Code Words At Pharmacies To Escape Abusers During Lockdowns

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Domestic Violence Victims Have Been Using Code Words At Pharmacies To Escape Abusers During Lockdowns

@CiaoMaximilian / Instagram

As lockdowns continue to occur across Europe, Asia and the Americas, worrying reports of domestic abuse have spiked.

According to news outlets, women and men who are victims of domestic abuse are at risk for greater threats now more than ever. With so much of the world in lockdown, reports have said that many confined to their homes with their domestic abusers could become victims of the pandemic.
In a report by CNN, multiple studies proclaimed “that emotionally stressful events can lead to an increase in aggressive behavior at home. Researchers identified such spikes during the 2008 economic crisis, when major natural disasters hit, and also during big football tournaments.”

According to Lucha y Siesta women’s shelter in Rome, the crisis has made abuse all the worse.

According to an interview with Lucha y Siesta and CNN, one young woman had contacted the women’s shelter with reports of a controlling relationship turned violent. The unknown woman told Lucha Y Siesta that ” her partner of four years had always been controlling and abusive but had become much worse during the lockdown.”

With the current public health crisis overwhelming Italy’s resources the country has been forced to turn its direction towards fighting the virus as opposed to helping victims.

“The court procedures are working slower than usual because most people are working from home,” Simona Ammerata a woman who works for Lucha y Siesta and spoke to CNN explained. “The fear is that the legal decrees to protect women won’t be put in place in time.”

Domestic abuse searches have surged in countries across the globe. Not just Italy. Australia and the UK are among some of the countries to report these findings.

Refuge, a domestic violence charity based out of Great Britain has also rung the alarms about similar concerns.

According to CNN, victims of domestic abuse have been using trips to supermarkets and pharmacies to ask for help as strict rules about remaining in quarantine have made it particularly difficult for abused women to escape abusers.

Codeword: “Mask 19.”

Victims of abuse have reportedly been using the codeword “Mask 19” in interactions with pharmacists behind their local counters toa ask for help. According to Elle magazine, local authorities in Spain and the Canary Islands launched an action last week that supports domestic abuse victims in making reports. Those who are incapable of outrightly making complaints to staff about their abuse, are using the code “mask 19.”

All Of The Latina Beauty Brands To Support During The Coronavirus Crisis

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All Of The Latina Beauty Brands To Support During The Coronavirus Crisis

Reina Rebelde / Instagram

There’s no denying that we love beauty. Some of us learned early on to take good care of our skin, and to have fun with our makeup. So it’s not surprising that so many beauty brands are Latinx-owned.

From natural skincare brands to bold and edgy makeup lines, there’s a variety of Latinx-owned beauty brands to support. There’s a mix between indie, under-the-radar brands to celeb-approved ones. So whether you love wearing a bold red lip, or would rather focus on skincare, then there’s a little something for everyone.

1. Reina Rebelde

Credit: Instagram / @reinarebelde

Created by Texas native, Regina Merson, Reina Rebelde was made for unapologetic babes. With playful shade names like La Doña and Coqueta, this bold brand speaks to Latinx’s who are not only fearless but fierce AF.

2. Sigma Beauty

Credit: Instagram / @sigmabeauty

Aside from its dazzling makeup products, Sigma Beauty creates the best beauty tools on the market. All of their tools are genius, too. For example, its Dry’n Shape brush cleaner deep cleans, dries, and reshapes your brushes, while the Titanium brush set is literally indestructible; its made so your brushes will NEVER fall apart. But when you learn about Sigma’s founders, Simone Xavier and Rene Xavier Filho, it’s easy to see why their products are made with a purpose. Brazil natives, Rene has a background in civil engineering and business administration, while Simone has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and a Masters in veterinary science. Talk about a power couple.

3. Lunar Beauty

Credit: Instagram / @lunarbeauty

Founded by one of the biggest YouTube and Instagram beauty influencers, Manny Gutierrez (aka Manny MUA), this brand is all about celebrating your most authentic self. The San Diego native made sure to create a line that’s not only fun but one that’s inclusive.

4. Gaby Espino

Credit: Instagram / @gabyespinostore

Venezuelan telenovela star, Gaby Espino, launched a line of super pigmented lipsticks. From bright pinks to sultry purples to deep reds, there’s a little something for everyone. The best part? There’s not one type of lipsticks. There’s a range of mattes, extreme mattes, glosses, creams, velvets, and more.

5. Tata Harper Skincare

Credit: Instagram / @tataharperskincare

Founded by Colombiana, Tata Harper, this 100% natural skincare line has become a cult-fave among celebs and beauty lovers alike. The brand was created after Tata couldn’t find high-quality, natural products in the beauty market. Thanks to her, that void has now been filled. People don’t have to risk their health in order to get great skincare results.

6. Besame Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @besamecosmetics

Cosmetics historian, artist, and designer, Gabriela Hernandez, created Besame Cosmetics after a life-long love for vintage makeup. Aside from its retro packaging and products (the lipsticks are replicas of shades from the past and the cake mascara is a product stars from the Golden Age of cinema used), Besame will make you feel special and glamorous.

7. Melt Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @meltcosmetics

Latina makeup artist Lora Arellano co-founded Melt Cosmetics with her bestie Dana Bomer. Together, they’ve built a beauty empire with their vibrant eyeshadows, bold lipstick shades, pigmented blushes, and dazzling highlighters. Lora’s background in beauty is just as amazing as the products she helps create. She started working the makeup counter at Nordstrom to doing Rihanna’s makeup on tour to creating a successful makeup empire.

8. Joanna Vargas Skincare

Credit: Instagram / @jvskincare

Similar to Tata Harper, Joanna Vargas’ eponymous skincare brand is dedicated to plant-based ingredients that work. Not only is Joanna one of the most sought-after facialists in Hollywood—celebs flock to her before major events—but her luxury products are worth every penny. The New York-based Latina has been in the skincare business for over a decade, so she knows a thing or two about beauty.

9. KL Polish

Credit: Instagram / @klpolish

KL Polish was created by one of YouTube’s most popular beauty gurus, Kathleen Fuentes (aka Kathleen Lights). After having successful beauty collaborations with ColourPop and Morphe, the Cubana branched out to launch her own nail polishes. The shades in each collection are bright, bold, and vibrant just like Kathleen herself.

10. Dominique Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @dominiquecosmetics

Another successful beauty YouTuber, Christen Dominique, launched an eponymous makeup brand called Dominique Cosmetics. From her first coffee-themed palette to her latest lemonade-inspired one, all of her products will make you want to have fun with your looks.

11. Chaos Makeup

Credit: Instagram / @chaosmakeup

The brand’s founder, Megan Martinez, has created one of the most exciting makeup brands on the market. Their color-changing shadows are truly one-of-a-kind. And once beauty lovers discovered the mesmerizing rainbow highlighter, they pretty much broke the internet. While Martinez’s unique brand is quickly becoming a cult-fave among pros, her story is what really makes us admire her. She went from being homeless at the age of 14 to building a beauty empire.

12. Orlando Pita Play

Credit: Instagram / @orlandopita

Cuban hairstylist Orlando Pita has worked with the biggest stars, including Beyoncé, Anne Hathway, Kate Moss, and Bella and Gigi Hadid. So it’s not surprising that after years of working as a celeb hairstylist that he wouldn’t create his own eponymous hair care line. And luckily for us, we can achieve that same celebrity-approved hair with his line of amazing products.

13. Vive Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @vivecosmetics

Vive is a makeup brand created by Latinxs for Latinxs — and its two founders, Joanna Rosario and Leslie Valdivia, stand by that. With vibrant lipstick shades to choose from, like hot pinks, oranges, and reds, these are the colors you’ll want to wear all summer long. Each lipstick has a cheeky name, too, like Pan Dulce, Luchadora, and Cumbia. There’s even a sultry purple liquid lip inspired by Selena Quintanilla.

14. Loquita Bath and Body

Credit: Instagram / @loquitabathandbody

Known for making novelty products like the always sold out mangoneada, elote, and bidi bidi bath bombs, Mira Perez’s beauty brand is unlike any other. Aside from its playful bath bombs, the brand makes the most heavenly face masks, scrubs, and lip balms.

15. Rizos Curls

Credit: Instagram / @rizoscurls

Julissa Prado created Rizos Curls after struggling to find products that worked for her curly hair. She not only perfected her products to work for all curl types, but she set out to make formulas that were made with high-quality ingredients. Now, curly-haired babes can enjoy and celebrate their hair in all its glory.

16. Brujita Skincare

Credit: Instagram / @brujitaskincare

Founded by Leah Guerrero, Brujita Skincare literally brings the magia to your beauty routine. The holistic beauty brand is enriched with mineral earth powders and clays sourced from the mercados of Mexico. Not only will these products heal your skin naturally, but you’ll feel Mother Nature’s enchanting powers.

17. No B.S. Skincare

Credit: Instagram / @livenobs

Like the cheeky name suggests, this skincare brand doesn’t mess around. Its skincare is made with effective plant-based, natural ingredients. Basically, they stripped away all of the bullshit. The products don’t have anything on their “shit list” like sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances, etc. Even better? They even got rid of b.s. marketing. The brand’s Instagram feed and website are filled with daily affirmations that will make you want to live your best life. For example, they have a postcard that reads: “severely allergic to the b.s.” Agreed.

18. Mia Del Mar

Credit: Instagram / @miadelmarbeauty

While Mia Del Mar hasn’t debuted all of its products just yet, this Latinx-owned brand is all about celebrating your roots. And with ingredients that have been passed down through generations, this line will mainly focus on skin care that’s both trendy and traditional.

19. Gabriel Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @gabrielcosmetics

Gabriel Cosmetics, founded by Gabriel De Santino, has been around since 1992. Inspired by his own personal experience with botanical skincare, the cosmetics line creates some of the best natural products.

20. Alamar Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @alamarcosmetics

Gabriella Trujillo went from Boxycharm’s in-house makeup artist to launching her own brand, Alamar Cosmetics. The makeup line is a celebration of the Cubana’s heritage, and its first product, the Reina del Caribe Vol. 1 eyeshadow palette, is proof.