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  • S. Dani

Survivors With Voices Gala

It can be extremely difficult to come forward about being mentally or physically abused. I mean, you don't want to be wondering, “is this person secretly judging me now that they know my truth?” This is the type of philosophy that plague victims to remain silent. I personally feel that we should not rush victims of any kind to share their story but instead we should encourage them to heal and share when they are ready. Over the weekend I had an oppurnity to cover the Survivors With Voices Gala. The Unlock Your Voice is a national conference that empowers men and women who have survived mental and physical abuse. Currently in its fourth year, the conference has reached a huge number of survivors and assist them with making their voices head. The founder of Survivors With Voices, Alissa R. Jones uses her platform to “give a voice to the everyday survivor, “which are survivors who are not celebrities. She encourages survivors to share their stories by simply “just speaking, if they are not comfortable then we encourage them through writing.” “We also show them the proper way to unlock their voice because sometimes when you go through so many things, you don't know where to start, so we start with an outline to outline their life and start filling in the blanks and sharing their testimony.”

During the Red (Purple) Carpet I got a chance to speak with honorees Dorinda Walker & Jacquelyn Alutto and Survived Rebekah Threlkeld, here are their stories:

Dorinda Walker: Suicide Survivor: The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention list the following statistics: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide, for every suicide there are 25 attempts. Looking at Dorinda Walker, you wouldn't know that she battled with suicide. That isn’t something you would expect from a woman who is happily married (25years) with 3 children and one grand daughter. It isn’t something that you would expect to hear from a woman who created her own job at a Fortune 500 Company. Walker is the product of two people who suffered from heroine addiction. At the age of 17, her father died from aids and shortly her mother disappeared leaving Walker to assume she was also dead. Even though a host of family surrounded her, Walker still felt unloved and like “nobody cared” which lead her to act out and start looking for love in all the wrong places. “ I was hanging in the streets, sailing drugs and being promiscuous.” Walker felt that leaving earth and going to heaven is the only way that she would feel happy but God had other plans. Upon her attempt to take her life, Walker spent 6 weeks in a Psychiatric hospital.She went from a path of prison and even death to now getting ready to release her book, “Protected by Purpose,” coming out in March. Walker wanted to share her story but she still felt “shame” about dropping out of high school, not having a college degree and, suffering from mental illness. “These are things that I wouldn't want my co-workers to know.” It was a pep talk from one of Walker’s friends that encouraged her to share her truth, “she said to me, Dorinda do you realize you have made it? Do you realize women look up to you? They aspire to be like you and this when I realized that I didn't need people to validate who I am because I was already qualified by God.” When dealing with a person suffering from depression or thoughts of suicide it is very important to encourage them “that this is just a moment in time. You have your whole life ahead of you, so if you can cope with this I promise there is something better for you on the other side.”

Jacquelyn Alutto: Jacquelyn Alutto is the founder of two organizations Real Beauty Real Women Foundation which is dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence, poverty and abuse by mixing beauty, glamour and entertainment to bring social awareness. And Pick It Up Pictures where they “document a lot of real life events to help people understand what’s going on in their backyard.” One of the causes that Jacquelyn is passionate about spreading awareness about is trafficking. Trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a sex act. According to the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking,

· Worldwide, there are nearly 21 million victims of human trafficking, with 55% women and girls, and 26% children

· Human Trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide

· Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act

· Sex trafficking occurs when force, fraud, or coercion is used to cause a commercial sex act with an adult. Force, Fraud or coercion need not be present for sex trafficking to occur with a child under the age of 18. When a commercial sex act occurs with a child under the age of 18, it is by definition sex trafficking.

With technology being heavily used in today’s society it has made it easier for predators to have access to children by using social media sites and chat rooms. One way to help prevent your child from falling victim to trafficking is to ‘invade your children privacy when it comes to the Internet.” There is a lot of a lot of emotions that victims of trafficking go through ranging from shame to anxiety. Jacquelyn feels it is important to for parents of children who have fallen victim to sex trafficking to “encourage them to seek help right away.”

Rebekah Threlkeld: Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body's immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. One notable symptom of Lupus is hair loss & Even though Rebekah experienced other symptoms, she wasn't diagnosed with Lupus until 2011. Her physical appearance started to change drastically in front of her eyes, the once pageant girl started suffering from tooth enamel loss and her weight dropped from 137 pounds to 112 pounds. “The doctor that I saw here in Houston caught me before it touched my kidneys.” Rebekah is thankful that she can be a servant of the Lord to help and wanted to help direct others on the road to “healthy living.” So she created The Sophia Threlkeld Lupus Foundation. The Foundations purpose is to, Inform by educating and promoting awareness to the world about Lupus.Empowering those living with Lupus locate the resources they need and Encouraging by motivating and helping enhance the outlook and quality of life for those living with Lupus.

All of the stories were so inspiring.The one thing I took from all of these ladies stories is to have faith. Im going to close with the hook from Destiny's Child "Survivor" album & song "I'm a survivor (What?) I'm not gon' give up (What?) I'm not gon' stop (What?) I'm gon' work harder (What?) I'm a survivor (What?) I'm gonna make it (What?) I will survive (What?) Keep on survivin' (What?) I'm a survivor (What?) I'm not gon' give up (What?) I'm not gon' stop (What?) I'm gon' work harder (What?) I'm a survivor (What?) I'm gonna make it (What?) I will survive (What?) Keep on survivin' (What?)

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