April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so we reached out to one survivor to share a bit of her story with all of us, and here it is:
I think we all have an idea in our minds of what a perpetrator looks like; he's a scruffy, dirty, "creepy" man who hangs out in alleyways and drives a van--that, of course, has no windows. Part of this mentality is that we like to think we can tell just by looking at someone whether or not they are dangerous. We like to think if we know what to look out for, and if we know how to be safe, nothing bad will happen to us. Ahh, if only, if only...
This false image of perpetrators played a big role in keeping me quiet after I was raped on a date on November 14, 2009. After it happened, I was confused and so angry. I was embarrassed and blamed myself entirely for not having recognized a rapist even when standing face to face. When I considered coming forward, I thought to myself, "Who is going to believe a guy as successful, handsome and charming is capable of raping someone? And who is going to believe someone would rape someone on a date?" He doesn't fit the image society has of a perpetrator, or even my image of a perpetrator, and that terrified me. The fear of not being believed overshadowed my desire to be heard or validated. Never having felt more lost and alone, I kept it to myself.
My healing was full of hiccups. I made a lot of bad choices, and in between those bad choices was courage to keep pushing forward--despite all the "two steps forward- one step back" progress. The journey was painful, and trying, and beautiful--and mine. Every victim and survivor is going to heal in their own way. What they need and deserve from the people around them is patience, validation, sensitivity, and empowerment. They deserve for us as a community to stand up and say, "We believe you. It wasn't your fault." It's not a pretty subject. People don't like to think about how often it happens and they certainly don't want to talk about it. It's awkward. But survivors aren't going to feel comfortable coming forward when we as a community are terrified to talk about something that happens every day.
My story went public for the first time for MADI Apparel's #HerSuperPower campaign.
Since then, I've been public speaking all over Kansas City and making short, educational videos on YouTube to help raise awareness.
I wasn't ready to have a voice for quite some time, but now that I do, I hope I'm able to be a voice for the voiceless. I hope the world hears me and chooses to treat survivors with compassion instead of criticism. I pray my voice reaches all the men and women who have been impacted by sexual violence, either directly or indirectly, and it motivates them to keep faith. I pray they hear me when I say, "It may not seem like it now, but I promise healing is possible. You too, can feel whole again."
Survivor stories never fail to make us smile, get teary eyed or stop and think about the women in our lives, and this one is no different.
Melissa was attacked in 2012 by her ex-boyfriend from high school, who she was broken up with. She was stabbed 32 times - 19 to the head, neck and face and 13 to her arms and hands from trying to fight back. The damage didn't stop there - she "flat-lined 4 times in the ER, received 12 units of blood, suffered a stroke in [her] cerebellum, had a fractured skull and nose, [lost] two teeth, right facial paralysis, stabbed larynx, and was severely beaten."
Despite all the horrible things that came of that attack, one amazing thing came from it as well. One of the firefighter EMT's that responded to Melissa's attack was named Cameron. It wasn't until some time later that they met for the first time when Melissa was giving her first speech on her attack. After hearing her speak, he invited Melissa and her mother to dinner at the firehouse, and the rest is history.
photo cred: Howheasked.com
Cameron later pulled off an amazing proposal, to hear all about it and watch the video, click here to see it on How He Asked!
"Hayley's Story" - the words of our founder:"A few years back, a close family member of mine confided in me about a toxic, manipulative, abusive relationship with a boyfriend from her past who threatened to kill her and her loved ones. This all happened in her young life, years before I was born and years before she met her now-husband of 30 years.
This conversation opened my eyes to the possibility that even the strongest of humans can find themselves sucked into abuse from a manipulative partner. Even the people you've always looked up to, the ones who seem so strong and confident, the ones who lead perfectly happy lives. When things turned really scary and my loved one was ready, she had supportive friends and family members step up and help her escape this life-threatening partnership. Not all victims are so lucky.
Around the same time, I heard a shocking statistic - that UNDERWEAR IS THE MOST NEEDED, UNDER-DONATED ITEM OF CLOTHING IN THE US. I did a little research with friends and started calling homeless shelters to follow up with this statistic. Turns out, it's true. Here's the part that feels like MADI was a true calling for my life. The homeless shelters suggested that we reach out to domestic violence shelters, as they are always looking for new underwear donations. The pieces matched up. We could help in such a simple way. Underwear is on the urgent needs list at almost every domestic violence and homeless shelter. Not only would underwear donations make a woman feel clean, but they would help bring back confidence.
To help raise awareness everywhere she goes, Hayley dyed her hair purple for the month of October to show survivors that MADI cares by creating the Purple Hair Campaign using hashtag #purplehairwecare! Here are a few pictures of her fun new do:
We found some other people on Instagram sporting purple for the cause as well! Here's how they're showing their support:
Post pictures of dye, feathers, sparkle or anything purple in your hair and use the hashtag #purplehairwecare and tag @madi_apparel to receive a 10% coupon to www.MADIapparel.com!
If you didn't already know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and since here at MADI our mission is to donate a pair of underwear to women in need for every pair purchased, this month is very important to us. We want to bring as much awareness to domestic violence as possible and with that we want to make sure you all know how big of an issue domestic violence is and what you can do to help.
Here are just a few of the devastating statistics of domestic violence:
- Around 24 people every minute in the United States are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by their intimate partner.
- More than 1 in 3 women experience some form of domestic violence from their partner during their life.
- Domestic Violence is the third leading cause of homelessness.
- Every 2 out of 3 female murders are committed by their intimate partner.
- More than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.
What can you do to help?
- If you suspect someone close to you has been or is being abused, kindly ask if you can help them find safety and shelter.
- Wear purple in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
- Donate to domestic violence shelters (especially underwear!). Most of them provide a needs list on their website.
- Buy a pair of MADI underwear because by doing that, you will be donating a pair to a woman in need.
Help us bring awareness to domestic violence and one day put an end to it!
To purchase tickets to our non-profit fundraiser, helping us raise additional funds for underwear donations and traveling to donation drop-offs, click here.
Often times when people learn about domestic violence and domestic violence survivors, they ask the question "Why didn't you just leave?"
- They fear their abuser may become more violent if they attempt to escape.
- They worry if they do escape, their abuser may find them and stalk them.
- They fear being a single parent.
- They worry about having little to no money.
- They might be unaware of the help, support and shelters available.
Our founder Hayley and Molly, the East Coast Distribution Lead, were presented the opportunity to travel to California and meet a domestic abuse survivor in the fall of 2014. The survivor had read about MADI’s buy one give one program and reached out to Hayley to see if she would donate underwear to her and her daughter.
Instead of just sending her underwear, Hayley and Molly decided to take the opportunity to fly from Florida to California to meet this awesome survivor. Hayley and Molly didn't know what to expect, whether or not the survivor would actually show up to meet them after they'd traveled from Florida to California to meet her in person.
Immediately upon meeting the three embraced.
The survivor started sharing her story, including journal entries she had written along the way - years of abuse and 17 years of constant running from her abuser.
Hayley, Molly and the survivor still keep in touch, and MADI Apparel even sent her and her and her daughter a few more pairs of underwear on Mother’s Day!
Hayley and Molly said that they will forever carry with them the story of this determined and strong-willed survivor. And, after watching the video yourself, you will too. If you haven’t had a chance to head over to our donations page and watch the story about the real donation, you definitely must! For more information and pictures taken at other underwear donation drop-offs, click here: http://www.madiapparel.com/pages/donations-1.
A women’s shelter at its most basic function is a safe zone. It is a place where women and children who are survivors of abuse can go in their time of need. The women in these shelters have often suffered from some form of domestic abuse and even rape. Women’s Shelters provide safety, shelter, a place to sleep, food and often times clothing for those seeking its comforts.
^^ Team MADI donating new, clean undies to Hope House in Kansas City
Women flee their homes and escape abusive partners sometimes carrying nothing. During their stay at the shelter, if they don’t have everything they need to feel comfortable (like underwear, for example) they may feel the urge to leave the shelter and go back home to pack a bag of necessities. It is then, 9 times out of 10, that their abusers are at the home waiting for them-this is when the most abuse occurs, often leading to death. We want to ensure these women are comfortable on their road to recovery with all of the necessities-including underwear and that they don’t feel the need to go home.
^^ Donating MADI undies with the staff of Family Services of Tulare County
All of the clothing available at a shelter comes from donations. However, underwear can only be donated if it is new and unused, but we don’t all think to go out and buy a new package of underwear to put in our donation pile. This is what has lead to underwear being the most needed and yet most under donated item in the shelters. MADI Apparel has not only taken a step towards solving this issue, by donating underwear, but we are donating underwear that can empower these women. Underwear is a woman’s most intimate article of clothing—it could be hard to start a new life without even your most simple, intimate clothing. And as we here at MADI like to say, “its not just underwear, its dignity.” At the end of the day, we want these women to build themselves back up and feel confident again. And we can do that, even with a pair of underwear. To help now, purchase a pair for yourself and a pair will be donated at http://www.madiapparel.com/collections/all.