Fierce

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.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Investing Latina’s CEO Is Here To Tell You The Best Ways To Save You Money

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Investing Latina’s CEO Is Here To Tell You The Best Ways To Save You Money

investinglatina / Instagram

Saving money and investing it properly is tough. It is hard to know where to take your money to make the most of it. Fortunately, FIERCE is here with another chat with a money queen to make sure that you get the most of your money.

Jully-Alma Taveras is here to help you reach your money-saving goals.

Saving money is tough. How much should you set aside? Where do you keep it to make sure it is safe? When should you start? Taveras started Investing Latina two years ago to help people figure out the best way to start their savings journey. There are a lot of things to save for from retirement to big purchases to emergencies. Here is some of what Taveras had to say when our very own Sam sat down with her.

Sam: “Let’s talk about savings. What would you recommend people do to start saving today?”

Jully-Alma Taveras: “Savings is kind of the beginning of it all, right? It’s kind of where we start laying down the bricks and foundation to our financial house. When I say laying down bricks, that’s really what I mean. I mean that they are small and heavy but they build up. That’s exactly how you have to think about how you start saving. It really starts small. Nobody starts with $10,000 in their savings account. Nobody. Everybody starts putting in $25 per week. Fifty dollars per month. Whatever it is that you can do. You have to be able to just kind of put it aside.

“I always recommend using a savings account first. Your core savings account at a bank that you can easily access if you needed to access your savings and then having a bulb of savings to a high-yield saving account so that you can also use the technology that exists right now with high-yield savings accounts. You can have little envelopes so you are saving for designated things. You can save for specific goals.

“I think that when it comes to savings, you really do have to set a big goal for yourself, and then you kind of start working backward. Then you’re like, ‘Okay. My goal is to save $10,000 in 2021. That’s what I want to get to. I want to be able to have my 1,000 immediate little emergency need savings account with just $1,000 and then I want to have the rest into a high-yield savings account where I can really start building my money confidence. That’s what happens when we start saving money.”

S: “One of the things I know that we started chatting about was high-yield savings accounts. Can you go into some more details about what exactly that is for everyone?”

JAT: “When we talk about a high-yield savings account, it really is a way for you to put savings into a bank or institution, or nowadays it’s really just an app sometimes. You put it in a place,  secure place that’s FDIC-insured place, where you can get a higher interest rate than what typical savings accounts offer. When you open up a checking account, you’re automatically, or usually going to get the option of opening a savings account with our bank. The retail banks that we typically use, the ones that we can walk into, that we can have ATM cards you can easily access and have teller access are usually positioning themselves where they offer retail services.

“What happens with that is that they don’t give you a lot for holding onto your money. They’ll offer something like a free checking account or a free savings account. They won’t charge you for it depending on what category you’re in, especially teens or if you are in school. You can definitely get a free checking account. But, they won’t give a higher interest rate than likely .02 percent. What a high-yield savings account offers is a higher interest rate. These are usually with banks that you don’t normally see as you walk down Main Street in your neighborhood. We aren’t talking about the Chases the TD Banks the Citi Banks, right? These banks that we know and are familiar with because we see them on Main Street. We see them in our neighborhoods. They’re not typically going to have a high-yield savings account. They want you to just use their services, their savings accounts, and their checking accounts. That’s it and they’re just going to be happy holding on to your money while you transact and do what you have to do with your money.

“With high-yield savings accounts, those are typically going to be with banks that don’t have retail stores. Some examples are Marcus by Goldman Sachs. SoFi, which is one of my favorites because of the tech that they’ve implemented in their app and their website. Ally Bank. These are banks that we typically won’t see actual physical banks of but they do exist online.

“What they do, mechanically, just so you kind of understand what happens when you put money into a high-yield savings account, is truly, they’re actually, putting all of our money together and they’re kind of investing our money behind the scenes. That’s what happens. You have the security of your digitized dollars and you will never lose it because it’s not an investment account.

“That’s basically what’s happening. Just so you know. You can feel safe that your money is there. It’s FDIC insured or it is completely insured up to the $250,000. That’s typically what we get insurance on. Then you also make a little extra so you make a couple of dollars every month.”

Taveras has so much more to say about saving and investing. Watch the full video below!

READ: In The First Episode Of FIERCE’s ‘Money Moves,’ We Explore The All-Important Budget

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Police Say The Abused Boy Who Was Rescued By An Orlando Waitress Endured ‘Torture’

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Police Say The Abused Boy Who Was Rescued By An Orlando Waitress Endured ‘Torture’

Netflix

The tragic story of Gabriel Fernandez, an eight-year-old boy who was abused and tortured by his own family members made headlines last year when his story was created into a Netflix documentary. The six-part crime documentary detailed how Fernandez’s murder came about due to local government failure and was a reminder that we all have a responsibility to keep our eyes out for victims.

Now, an Orlando waitress is being hailed for doing just that.

Flavaine Carvalho saved a child abuse victim after spotting bruises on the boy’s face and arms.

Carvalho (who works as a waitress at Mrs. Potato restaurant in Orlando, Florida) was on the clock on New Year’s Day serving a family that had walked into the restaurant when she noticed their 11-year-old boy. Realizing that the boy had nothing to eat, Carvalho asked if there was something wrong with the food. The boy’s stepfather explained that the boy would eat dinner at home later. It was then that Carvalho noticed bruises on the boy’s face and arms.

“I could see he had a big scratch between his eyebrows,” Carvalho explained in a press conference to FOX 35. “Couple of minutes later, I saw a bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something really wrong.”

It was then that Carvalho said she knew that she had to do something. “I could not see the boy going away without any help,” she explained.

Coming up with a plan, Carvalho wrote a large note to the boy that read “Do you need help?”

The waitress stood behind the boy’s parents so that they couldn’t see and held up the sign for the boy. When he nodded, Carvalho immediately called the police.

According to the 911 call, Carvalho told the dispatcher “I’m super concerned and I don’t know what to do, can you give me some advice?” Carvalho said to the dispatcher. “The boy is with bruises and he’s not eating.”

After authorities arrived, they interviewed the boy, who accused his stepfather of abuse, saying that he been tied up, hung from a door, hit with a broom, and handcuffed. The boy also said that his parents kept food from him as punishment.

Police claimed that the doctors who examined the boy said that they found bruises on his face and arms and said that he was approximately 20 pounds underweight.

Police confirmed that the boy’s stepfather has been charged with three counts of aggravated child abuse and child neglect. The boy’s mother has been charged with two counts of child neglect and admitted to knowing about the abuse and failing to help him.

The boy and another 4-year-old child were fortunately removed from the home and are now in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Police on the case have described the experience that the child endured as “torture.”

“To be honest what this child had gone through was torture,” Detective Erin Lawler told WFTV9. “There was no justification for it in any realm of the world. I’m a mother and seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through, it shocks your soul.”

The abusive parents have now been identified as the boy’s stepfather, Timothy Wilson II, 34, and the boy’s mother Kristen Swann.

“The lesson here for all of us is to recognize when we see something that isn’t right to act on it… This saved the life of a child,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said of the incident.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com