20 September 2017
Greetings and thank you to those who follow my blog!
Today my blog will be a little different and a little deeper than usual. It will also be rather long, but hey it’s a story. So keep reading if you would like to know the story behind Harmonious Grace, Inc. and why I decided to start it. Everyone has a story and everyone has their own truths about their life that they often do not share with others. Sometimes it’s because they choose not to and most of the time it’s because they feel people really wouldn’t care nor understand it. I pride myself in being completely honest and my life will constantly reflect that honesty and the strength that built me into a greater woman today. So although it may have taken a while to get out Harmonious Grace, Inc.’s exact story and description, it is one worth telling.
Did you know that 1 in 3 women have been sexually assaulted or harassed in their lifetime? Look around, that means that if you’re sitting there with just two other women right now, at least one of you have experienced it before. If you happened to be sitting with me or talking to me during your observation…I would be the 1 out of the 3. Harmonious Grace, Inc. is a non-profit organization that I decided to start for women and even men that have been sexually assaulted and discriminated against, specifically military men and women.
My sexual assault occurred when I was the age of nineteen and I had just enlisted in the Army National Guard. Not even hardly a year later, I was raped by a fellow solider whom was also an enlisted officer during a drill weekend. He was forty-two years old with a sixteen year old daughter at the time and called himself always “looking out for a younger soldier”. I panicked after the assault and remember how he blew my phone up more than twenty times trying to get me not to say anything. When I finally answered and spoke to him and asked the question if he knew what he had just done to me…his answer was a bold “Yes”. After going through emotions and letting my parents know what had happened to me that night, my father came to be at my side and I went through the correct and logical process of reporting the incident to the police and went to the hospital to have a rape kit done. He was arrested and we went to court within a month where it mostly was a “he say, she say” situation, even with the paper trail. That was the civilian side. As far as the Army National Guard side, after submitting my paper work, telling the story the exact same way more than ten times, and remembering the classes we sat through that stressed a “0 tolerance” policy…they did absolutely nothing. I honestly do not believe they had any intentions on doing anything and that he had “friends in higher places” since he had already served for so long. Plus I was “the woman” and you know women when it comes to a man’s world and career…we’re always “overreacting” and viewed as just a huge ball of emotions and irrational behavior that should have no better or special treatment than a man would receive in the military. Practically a type of liability.
I ended up having to seek my own help and counseling, and all of my paperwork and statements…suddenly and “mysteriously” happened to disappear into thin air. I filed E.O. complaints about the poor handling of my case and my paperwork that are STILL not resolved. Over the last ten years I have dealt with mental sexual trauma, PTSD, a four hundred day deployment to a war zone in Iraq on top of that, and alcoholism. I learned that even today these situations are still going on in the military with other women that I have spoken with.
So what could it be? Is it the fact we are in an occupation that usually builds us to be tough and emotionless no matter how hectic and out of control the situation may be? To be “Army Strong”. Is it that they don’t want to look bad or as if they aren’t doing their jobs? Or maybe they just have more important issues to worry about. It’s as if this has been brought to their attention so many times to where they give briefings about it nearly twice a year, but they still choose to ignore it and make matters worse. Being raped is already a pretty heavy and violated feeling, but what’s worse is being persuaded to feel as if it doesn’t matter and that you just have to “get over it”. The words “calm down” still make upset to this day because they were two words everyone seemed to keep repeating to me as if it was just that easy. They didn’t even transfer him nor me to another unit until about four years later. I was the one sent to another detachment, that was a further location from my home of record. Most of the time it practically felt as if I was the one being punished for doing something wrong. So for years I went through a lot of denial and “pretending” and being bottled up only for it to crash down and blow up on me in a pretty drastic way and on a lot of people. It was like an atomic bomb that had been waiting to explode. Pretending I was fine, pretending it did not affect me in any way, and pretending that I needed NO ONE, not even those who loved me and wanted the best for me. I stopped caring about myself and about anyone else honestly. It was the worst time of my life.
After going through counseling, a REAL treatment plan for my mental sexual trauma and PTSD, and having to practically find myself all over again, I realize that I am so passionate about those who are often “put to the side” after an event as tragic as this. “Blessed are the meek. For they will inherit the Earth” Matthew 5:5. WE ALL MATTER. It’s more than disappointing to realize that you are expected to defend an entire country that most of the time will not defend you in your time of need. I never felt any negativity toward the military. My father served in the Army for twenty years and I grew up a military brat with my little brother, Robert. We traveled, had a blast and lived on base housing most of my childhood. Everyone looked out for one another, we trusted one another, and we were always like this small community that related to each other better than anyone else. I always felt safe, no matter what base we transferred to.
So when I joined, the last thing I expected was to be able to tell a story like this. I just remember the way that I felt even years later after the incident. The final straw had to do with me lashing out and being disrespectful towards my family who had always been there for me and one day sitting on my bed hyperventilating, crying, and holding an entire bottle of pills contemplating doing the worst because I felt nobody would care if I was gone. I can remember the other females in my military unit hearing what happened and still being on HIS side. I can remember being ignored, chastised, and blamed for the entire situation. I remember the ridiculous rumors going around saying that I told on him and became angry because I told him that he had to “pay for it” and he refused. Or there was the rumor that I got completely naked and started to do the act with him then said no. And even the rumor that we had already had sex before several times before I became angry with him about his wife and decided to tell on him. Either way…none of these would be even close to the truth of what occurred that day. I know that and he certainly knows that.
When I tell others the short version of my story I automatically start to see their faces change. There is shock in their faces, then anger, then the pity and the sorrow, then I always get an “Oh I am so sorry that happened to you.” I instantly let them know that all of that is not even needed at this point. He did not ever take anything from me, he helped me gain more power, strength, and wisdom than I could ever imagine. I am a SURVIVOR of sexual assault and a CONQUEROR of what could have possibly been chronic depression and even suicide. With God by my side and an AWESOME and loving family who kept praying for me and supporting me, I fought the demons who worked overtime for me to destroy myself and my character. I turned toward other outlets and forms of comfort when I couldn’t find any elsewhere. I refuse to have this possibly happen to others. I never want anyone else to feel as alone as I did while they sit in rooms full of people or think that nobody will ever understand their mentality or that nobody cares about them. I can even admit that almost eleven years later…I STILL struggle. I oftentimes still battle with my mind and with not slipping into depression again, I have difficulty with trusting others, with my communication (or lack thereof), and mostly with relationships. But I happen to have a very supportive and very caring man now who has been sticking by my side and understands my frustrations, my journey, and my mission while even loving my daughter just the same. God is STILL working on me day by day, moment by moment, but for once, it has all turned POSITIVE. So when I wake up every morning and thank Him for the blessings I have and my gorgeous and amazing little girl who smiles at me like I am her hero, I realize there is NOTHING that will ever stop me again and NO ONE that could ever make me feel unworthy of being important or understood or just absolutely BLESSED. I am so strong that I even surprise myself and my smile has never faded.
So with these fundraisers, my GoFundMe campaign, and the hard work that I am putting towards Harmonious Grace, Inc. I am striving to make sure that those who feel this way and have undergone this treatment have a place where they can come and be understood. I want them to have counseling, mentoring, and help in order to not have their future or their life take a turn for the worst because they ARE NOT ALONE. I want to create a safe haven where they will never be judged. I want to implement substance abuse programs, recruit people/lawyers who can even help them with their paperwork/cases when they are not done properly, and conduct group sessions where they can see that there are plenty of others whom have experienced the exact same feelings they have. We pride ourselves as people to help others and be a humanitarian towards one another, but how many of us ACTUALLY put that into action or show our concern for others and their emotions or where they stem from? Most of us who have undergone sexual trauma would just be called “crazy”, “bipolar”, “depressed”, and even “hyperactive”, but EVERYONE has a story and a background. Harmonious Grace, Inc. will need as many resources, tools, and even volunteers to make that happen and I AM GOING TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN. My slogan “Changing Our Momentum One Crown At a Time” reflects my purpose for my non-profit. It is never important what happens in our past or where we are in our present that makes us who we are. It is about the direction that we are moving. Our past indeed helps to shape our future. So if I can help others to use their past (no matter how terrible) to build them up and help them seek their full potential, then they can never be broken down as long as they are moving forward for the better; thus regaining their crown as the beautiful queen/king they are inside.
On a lighter and more positive note, the other passion that I have and would like Harmonious Grace, Inc. to provide in the Montgomery, AL community is READING!! Once my family and I moved here, it did not take me very long to realize how bad the Montgomery County School System is when it comes to reading comprehension and books altogether. I don’t think people understand just how much I have ALWAYS loved to read. It was instilled in me by my mother at a very early age and I was reading large chapter books by the age of four. I began to telling and writing stories and having a vivid imagination at six years old. Some may not think this aspect is important, but it motivated me to believe that ANYTHING is possible and I can be whatever I want to be. That belief is still very strong today. So when I see children not interested in the foundation and imagination that books can give them and how much it could enhance and enrich their education I become disappointed but VERY passionate about it. I especially become disappointed in the adults who surround them on a daily basis and choose to do only the bare minimum with children and their education.
The funds I raise will also be going towards THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of books that I will need to make this happen. I will also raise enough to purchase small moving trucks and literary resources in order to present large book fairs and activities that involve the wonderful characters I had the pleasure of reading about as a child. I will be making proposals, completing my 501 (c)(3), and working with the Montgomery County School System, my district commissioner, and councilman in order to make this happen. Children would be able to pick out any books that interest them, be introduced to new reading materials, and receive tutoring and counseling after school if needed. Adults who have reading interests/deficiencies may also be included in receiving reading improvements and needs. This does not stop in Montgomery and I will most definitely work to make it happen nationwide for any school system that needs the same tools and resources for their schools.
My passion has always been to help others. I love volunteering for anyone less fortunate, but there were just times I could never fully help anyone else because I had not helped myself. So hopefully with your help and all of the help I can get from the state of Alabama, I will work on a daily basis to make all of this happen. It may not go as quickly as I would like but I don’t plan on giving up any time soon or letting anyone turn me away. That Robin is gone. So please LIKE, SHARE, and DONATE to my cause. Be supportive and understanding of these causes with no judgments, no skepticism, or negativity. There are people out there who need help in building their mentalities to a greater level and we as people should always be willing to give more of ourselves for others who just may not have as many blessings as us at the moment. Thank you for listening to my story and thank you for your constant support of Harmonious Grace, Inc. Hopefully we can start with the Yard Sale/Fundraiser this Saturday, September 23, 2017! Please come out and either purchase something or just drop by and make a donation. It will all go towards Harmonious Grace, Inc.! See you there!!
SOLIDIFY YOUR LIFE!!!