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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.

Cardi B Shared Her Story Of Sexual Assault In An Emotional New Interview That You Have To Watch

Entertainment

Cardi B Shared Her Story Of Sexual Assault In An Emotional New Interview That You Have To Watch

Iamcardib / Instagram

Cardi B appeared on the first episode of Untold Stories of Hip Hop, hosted by Angie “The Voice of New York” Martinez on WE TV. The series, debuting on WE TV on Sept. 26, will highlight hip hop heavyweights like Cardi B, Snoop Dogg, Fat Jow, and Queen Latifah and never-before-heard accounts that changed their lives and careers.

The first day of shooting was literally the day after the Grammys, so who better [to interview] than Cardi B?” Martinez told the NY Post. “She had just won that big Grammy for Best Rap Album and it was a huge moment for her. She’s a hustler. She really works hard. I’ve seen people go hard but she goes super hard. Her work ethic is really impressive.” 

Like most interviews with Cardi, the “Press” singer ebbs from her charming humor with The Bronx grit to getting real about her hustling, struggles, and political opinions. In this interview with Martinez, Cardi reveals she was sexually assaulted by a photographer. 

As seen in the promotional clip for Untold Stories of Hip Hop, Cardi B is visibly flustered as she recounts the incident.

Cardi B spoke with legendary radio DJ Angie Martinez about the incident that happened early in her career. She went to a magazine photoshoot where the photographer exposed himself to her. It appeared the photographer was trying to coerce sexual acts in exchange for media coverage.

“I’ll never forget how I went to shoot for this magazine and the photographer, he was trying to get close to me like, ‘Yeah, you want to get in this magazine?’” Cardi said. “Then he pulled his dick out. I was so fucking mad.”

Cardi said she told the owner of the magazine, the person did not care.

“You know what’s so crazy?” Cardi said. “I told the magazine owner and he just looked at me like: ‘So? And?'” 

When Martinez asked if these incidents still happen to her, Cardi essentially said no one would dare these days.

“Oh, hell no, I put you on blast on my Instagram,” Cardi said.

Cardi B has no doubt that sexual assault happens to girls in underprivileged communities every day. 

The 26-year-old believes that girls at high-risk neighborhoods experience assault all the time, but simply put: nobody cares.

“When I see the #MeToo movement – there’s girls from the hood I know that went through the same type of treatment. They make you feel like you got to do a certain type of thing. It happens every day.”

In 2017, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said reports of sexual assault and domestic violence made by Latinx residents had decreased. The reason: they feared the risk of deportation under Trump’s immigration policy.

“Imagine, a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother … not reporting a sexual assault, because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” Beck told the LA Times.

While the new immigration policy may have exacerbated these fears, they have always been present for the Latinx community. This makes it particularly hard to create an accurate picture of the frequency of sexual assault amongst Latinxs.

Moreover, because of how Black women are stigmatized as “hypersexualized,”according to Now.org, for every 15 black women who are raped, only one reports her assault.

Indigenous women also face disproportionately high levels of violence, according to Indian Law, 1 in 2 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced sexual violence.

The facts make it clear: women, in general, are disregarded when it comes to sexual assault, but women of color face even more barriers.

Cardi has previously expressed concerns the #MeToo movement is not inclusive.

The “Money” rapper has alluded to sexual harassment on set before. Cardi, who identifies as a feminist, told Cosmpolitan that because she is a stripper her opinions or experiences on more serious matters are often dismissed. While she supports the #MeToo movement (which was founded by Tarana Burke, a Black woman, but was hijacked by Alyssa Milano, a white woman) that women of color are not heard with regard to sexual assault.

“A lot of video vixens have spoke about this and nobody gives a fuck,” she says. “When I was trying to be a vixen, people were like, ‘You want to be on the cover of this magazine?’ Then they pull their dicks out. I bet if one of these women stands up and talks about it, people are going to say, ‘So what? You’re a ho. It don’t matter.’“

Cardi doesn’t accept the dismissals of strippers. While she is richer and more famous than ever, she said she was happier as a stripper. 

 “I don’t want to sound like I’m ungrateful, but it’s exhausting,” she says. “I love my career now, but it’s like my spirit was happier before. When I was dancing, I had so much fun. I felt powerful in the club. I felt free.”

What Cardi’s experiences highlight is how women of color, especially ones who dare to be overtly sexual, are perceived to be deserving recipients of any abuse they receive.

 

Woman Claims Lyft Charged Her For A Ride That Resulted In Her Severe Gang Rape

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Woman Claims Lyft Charged Her For A Ride That Resulted In Her Severe Gang Rape

Being a woman means you’re always in danger. Predators lurk everywhere and for Alison Turkos, unfortunately, a Lyft ride home would become every woman’s worst nightmare. Turkos, among dozens of other women, is suing Lyft after she says her driver kidnapped her and gang-raped her along with two men. Turkos believes that Lyft is obstructing justice by not cooperating with law enforcement. 

Moreover, she believes that the driver who raped her has continued to work for the company for years. This is her story. 

Alison Turkos tells her story in Medium

“In the fall of 2017, I got into a Lyft after a night out with friends. All I wanted to do was get home safely and go to bed. This was supposed to be the safer option than walking home or taking the subway late at night alone. What should have been a 15-minute drive, turned into an 80-minute living nightmare,” Turkos wrote in an essay for Medium

Turkos says her Lyft driver kidnapped her at gunpoint, drove her across state lines, and the driver along with two other men (at least) raped her. 

Apologies for the “inconvenience”

Turkos reported the kidnapping to Lyft within 24 hours. Turkos claims they merely apologized for the inconvenience. 

“Lyft ‘apologized for the inconvenience that I’d been through’ and informed me they ‘appreciated the voice of their customers and were committed to doing their best in giving me the support that I needed,’” she wrote. 

She had to pay the $12.81 in carfare. Turkos says the driver who raped her has continued to work for Lyft in the years since. This to her is all the evidence she needs to sue — not to get justice for herself — but to prevent future incidents like it. Lyft must be held accountable. 

Lyft’s inaction is triggering

Turkos reported the rape and kidnapping to the police two days after. But Turkos says the fact that her driver is still out there living consequence-free despite all the evidence (GPS phone tracking, customer service transcript, police reports, DNA of two men), has worsened her PTSD. 

“Lyft’s failure to remove the driver from the app, and allow him to continue driving under a new name and profile has not only exacerbated my PTSD and inability to feel safe, but has also placed other passengers lives at risk,” she wrote. “How many other passengers has this man harmed while on Lyft’s payroll in the two years since I reported?”

Lyft’s Statement

Lyft’s position on the matter? Rape happens to women all the time so it’s not their fault. Another insult to sexual assault survivors everywhere.

“What this rider describes is awful, and something no one should have to endure,” a Lyft spokesperson told Motherboard. “The unfortunate fact remains that one in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives — behavior that’s unacceptable for our society and on our platform. In this case, the driver passed the New York City TLC’s background check and was permitted to drive.” 

Lyft has since added 14 new safety features including in-app emergency assistance and background check monitoring. But this isn’t an isolated incident. Last month, Lyft faced another lawsuit by 14 women who say they were raped by Lyft drivers. This would bring the total to 26 Lyft users since August 1, 2019, who claim Lyft failed to protect them from sexual violence. 

Why Turkos is suing Lyft

Turkos, along with the many other women believe Lyft is purposefully stone-walling their cases. By suing they hope to challenge the processes by which Lyft handles sexual assault claims. 

“The plaintiffs accuse the company of refusing to cooperate with law enforcement and failing to adequately screen potential drivers,” according to CBS. Moreover, multiple women, not only Turkos, claim that the drivers who raped them were allowed to continuing working for the company or that Lyft would not tell them if the driver had been terminated. 

“Lyft’s failure to properly investigate the failures of their system that lead to my kidnapping and rape has severely hampered the ongoing criminal investigation,” Turkos wrote. “Lyft’s feeble public response to viral tweets and other lawsuits has made a mockery of me and the other victims who have come forward. We don’t want partial refunds. We don’t want $5 credits to continue using your service.” 

It cannot go without saying: believe women. There is no glory in coming forward as a rape survivor just more triggering events and more scrutiny. Women do not come forward for attention, they come forward for justice.