For the Survivors

For the Survivors
Photograph by Almudena Toral

Photograph by Almudena Toral

For the girls and women who didn’t get to choose their life as it currently exists.

“You think you had a choice,” I ask, staggered.
“She looks at me, then looks away. She starts to cry.
‘I don’t know. I guess I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it.’”*

Born.
Beaten.
Abused.
Raped.
Confused.
Runaway.
Lost.

Tricked.
Trapped.
Lured.
Beaten.
Abused.
Raped.
Addicted.
Confused.
Unloved.

Used.
Branded.
Marked.
Property.
Painted lady.
Street walker.
Whore.
Disposable.
Used.
Lost.
Hopeless.
Walking death.
What can happen. What does happen, although it seems impossible right now.

Pursuit.
Care.
Conversation.
Recognized.
Realization.
Personhood.
Created.
Imago Dei.
Valued.
Valuable.
Decision.
Determination.
Rescue.
Redemption.
Restoration.
Life.

This post honors Jennifer Kempton, my “neighbor,” but one whom I have never met. She lives 45 minutes from me in Columbus, OH, but for years lived a world away. She was born into an abusive home. Then, like so many other vulnerable girls, she was eventually lured into false love, drug addiction, and then trafficked by someone she thought finally loved her, someone no more than a lowly, self-serving, greedy pimp who repeatedly uses the same M.O. with other vulnerable girls. Sadly, it’s a commonly used method among traffickers, who prey on the needs of abused, confused, emotionally-needy kids.

She is a grace-filled survivor now, helping other girls and women leave and recover from their own experiences inside the horrifying world of human trafficking. Called by God and on a mission, she helps them regain their personhood, even as she still attempts to regain her own. Learn more about her and the girls and women she supports at Survivor’s Ink.

“We women and children shouldn’t have to bear this. We are not possessions or property, we are all children of God . . .   I can’t believe it has finally gone. Now I am free.”
~Ruthie, whose brand/tattoo, placed on her by her pimp, was given new life by Chuck Waldo, a Columbus tattoo artist. Waldo has partnered with Kempton to give these women a new lease on their identities by covering the old brand with gorgeous designs symbolizing new life and hope.

*”Human Trafficking: Modern-Day Slavery in Focus” by Annie Kelly. Posted at The Guardian. Nov 15, 2015.

“For the Survivors” © 2015 Natalie Eastman | The Verity Initiative LLC | www.NatalieEastman.com

The Stories We Tell: Our Truest Rescue

The Stories We Tell: Our Truest Rescue

The Stories We Tell    Tammy Perlmutter (3)

 

In October I applied to attend “The Stories We Tell,” a testimonial writing workshop for survivors of sexual abuse, assault, and trafficking, facilitated by The Voices and Faces Project. I was accepted and went to the workshop with a mixture of fear and excitement. In my heart I knew this would be an ebenezer for me, “a commemoration of divine assistance,” like Samuel’s stone of help, reminding me that “Thus far the Lord has helped [me].”

Deep inside I knew that being brave and taking this step would mean that my life would change. I would need to write more, and take risks by submitting my work in different places. I would feel more confident to share the hard stuff because as a workshop alum, I would take the honor and the accomplishment seriously and become more outspoken about my own abuse and want to be more involved with the cause of protecting and supporting survivors and calling attention to the the dangers of rape culture and its effects on all of us.

To read the rest of the post please click here.

New City Article on Rape Culture

New City Article on Rape Culture

newcityrapeculture

Rape is everywhere today. Pick up any newspaper, any magazine—the new issues of Rolling Stone and In These Times, a recent Time magazine cover story, this publication—and you’ll see high-profile coverage of the rape-culture crisis in America. From the alcohol-saturated dormitories of our citadels of higher-education to the shadowy confessionals of a pedophiliac priesthood to controversies over HBO’s top-rated “Game of Thrones,” gender-based violence is certainly not a new issue. But perhaps the amount of attention being paid, not just from the media but even the president of the United States, an outgrowth of the unwillingness of its survivors to remain silent any longer, represents its twilight, or at least movement in the right direction.

To continue reading, click here.

Knitting for Charity Recognizes TOC

Knitting for Charity Recognizes TOC

 

We are very honored to have been chosen as a featured charity in this week’s issue of Knitting Nuggets for Make a Difference Monday.

Today is Make a Difference Monday… 

Today’s featured knitting charity has been in existence since 2005, but until quite recently I had not known about it. A friend of mine drew my attention to its newest Boston chapter, whereupon I discovered that it has chapters all over the United States, as well as one in Canada. 

Sexual violence is a heartbreaking phenomenon that, perhaps more than any crime, frequently leaves its victims feeling alone, ashamed, even unloved. The statistics are staggering: over 200,000 Americans are victimized by sexual violence every year. And according to the Justice Department, 60 percent of all sexual assaults are never reported.

To read the rest, please click here: Knitting for Charity

The Dark Figure of Unreported Crime

The Dark Figure of Unreported Crime

image

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

 

I’ve been reading some posts and articles lately about how difficult it is to correctly number the amount of rapes in a country due to so many unreported assaults. Think of places like the Congo, where you can pretty much assume if a woman or young girl is still alive, they’ve most likely been raped. And now India is reporting extremely high numbers of rapes:

 

Recent media reports of horrific rapes in India depict a country where every woman is in danger of being assaulted at any time. Official crime statistics tell a very different story.

 

Last year, there were 24,923 cases of rape in India, according to the government’s official statistics. That’s about two per 100,000 Indians. The per capita rate in the U.S. is more than 13 times higher.

 

According to criminologists, these surprising numbers are among many that suggest a need for, well, better numbers. Official figures include only crimes reported to police. What criminologists call the “dark figure” of unreported crime isn’t captured, and those missing incidents can greatly outnumber reported ones, especially for rape. The rate of underreporting can also vary sharply by country. And a nation that makes headway in encouraging more victims to come forward will appear, in its official stats, to have a worsening rape problem.

 

You can  read more of Carl Bialik’s articles here:

 

Statistics Shed Little Light on Rape Rates by Carl Bialik

 

Rape: the Darkest Dark Figure of Crime by Carl Bialik

What do you think can be done to make reporting rape safer for people?

~Tammy Perlmutter

 

New Scarves!!

New Scarves!!

baggingday

Today we bagged a bunch of scarves to give to local ERs and crisis centers. Thank you, Tina Herrin, Carol Trott, Mary Davenport, Chrissi Helle, and Sandy Ahearn, for helping with the folding, tagging, and bagging!

We received hand-made scarf donations from Illinois, Virginia, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Ohio, and Washington!!

Thank you so much for your time, your thoughtfulness, and generosity.

We received this note from Lisa:

“Thanks for the work you do. I hope this scarf will be of comfort to someone. I have found good support and comfort in my post-recovery life and would like to pass it on!”

And this one from Maureen who knits with a group:

“We put peace and healing in every stitch and hope the recipients will know they are supported and not alone.”

The first four pictures are some really beautiful, unique scarves from Sarah Scott, who runs an Etsy store called Destroy My Sweater. Sarah creates a “line of edgy, one-of-a-kind wearables, made (mostly) of recycled thrift store sweaters”

Thank you, Sarah!!

To visit her shop, click here:

destroy

Sarah and Tammy

Erin’s Law Making Its Way Across the US

Erin’s Law Making Its Way Across the US

Erin Merryn endured sexual abuse for four years of her childhood. She sought help at 13 and found it. Erin went on to become a child and family therapist, but quit a few years ago to take her cause across the country.

Erin Merryn believes all school-aged children should receive age-appropriate education on sexual abuse prevention and recovery.

The state of Illinois is the first to sign the mandate named Erin’s Law.  Governor Pat Quinn signed the mandate at the end of January. Erin is now touring the country advocating for the protection of children.

You can read the Chicago Tribune article here: Quinn Signs Sex-Abuse Education Mandate

You can visit Erin’s Law on Facebook.

Her website is here.

More Danger Than Combat for Women in the Military

More Danger Than Combat for Women in the Military

Women Have Long Faced Danger in U.S. Military

January 24, 2013 By

1 in 3 woman are sexually assaulted in the military, twice the number compared to civilian women.

Women in the military are 180 times more likely to be a victim of military sexual assault in 1 year than to have died while deployed in the previous 11 years of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

92% of perpetrators never face a court-martial.

1 in 4 victims never report their assault because the person to whom they must report is the perpetrator (The Invisible War documentary).

Despite over 20 years of “zero tolerance” policies, there have been no marked decreases in sexual assaults or increases in convictions.

Read the article here.

 

One Billion Rising: February 14, 2013

One Billion Rising: February 14, 2013

Today, on the planet, a billion women – one of every three women on the planet – will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION mothers, daughters, sisters, partners, and friends violated. V-Day REFUSES to stand by as more than a billion women experience violence.

On February 14th, 2013, V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, we are inviting one billion women and those who love them to walk out, DANCE, RISE UP, AND DEMAND an end to this violence. One Billion Rising is a promise that we will rise up with women and men worldwide to say, “Enough! The violence ends now.”

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN START A RISING – Stage a rising in your community, office, college, or school. Organize a flash mob at a landmark building/site, in the streets or in a nearby mall. Have a dance party, produce a theatrical event, march in your streets, protest, strike, dance and above all RISE!