YWCA NEIN wants to thank the poet for their courage and bravery in sharing their art and experiences:

Love is patient, Love is kind, these are the vows he stands behind.
I took those vows and said I do, but when I did I never knew.
Who he would become, when the two of us became one.
He always wins every fight, I am never ever right.
I lay in bed afraid to move, every night forced to prove.
Can I say what this is, can I use the “R” word, if I am his?
He takes and takes and takes some more and then calls me the dirty whore.
He doesn’t care if I cry, he never even asks me why.
I am his wife, and this is ok, this is the price that I must pay.
I made this choice, I said that vow, this is the life that I have now.
If I fight, it just gets worse, in this life, he is my curse.
If I tell the police, his reign of terror will just increase.
They will never believe me, because my vows are all they will see.

Unknown


YWCA NEIN wants to thank Ricky for his courage and bravery in trusting us with his survivor story. Ricky shares in his own words his experiences with sexual assault and what being a survivor is like:

When I think of being of being a two time survivor of sexual assault, I questioned the idea of actually surviving after a traumatic event. Growing up as a minority, African American and identifying as a homosexual man, it hasn’t always been a walk in the park. I was raised in a single parent household for majority of my youth which left me seeking love and validation from men who preyed upon that and used that to their advantage. I’ve had conversations with friends about their experience of losing their virginity, which usually are described as inexperienced and a learning experience for both.  My first time having sex, at the age of 15, was against my will with someone I thought was my “boyfriend”, little did I know it wasn’t the same thought on the other end. My second experience was the around 19 with someone I was dating. I remember both situations vividly and replaying the moments back to see what I could’ve done to prevent the assaults from happening. The what ifs, was it something I done? What do I do now? Instead of coping with the trauma I threw myself into a deep depression clutching onto unhealthy mechanisms such as promiscuity, alcohol and drugs. I didn’t believe in my worth and the ability to trust anyone who want to pursue a relationship. For the longest I blamed my father for leaving when I was younger because I felt that it would’ve been different had he been present in my most crucial development years. I was never educated about sexual health from a male figure in my family so I was curious to explore sex since friends spoke so highly of it. I credit journaling to my survival from sexual assault as an outlet to get away from the pain. In 2008, it wasn’t acceptable to speak freely about being gay and I couldn’t express the pain to my mother, who’s deep into her faith. So my idea was to write until I gain clarity and process my true emotions. I written about the experiences and sought closure in knowing that the experiences didn’t define me nor does it dictate my future on opening myself up to love. Since then, I have started seeking options to therapy to unpack my trauma so I can live a life that is free from unhealthy generational trauma I’ve experienced. For anyone going through the same feelings, I’m typing this to let you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there are resources like the YWCA, journaling and counseling to help you along the way. And if no one tells you, you’re worthy of love and you are loved.

Ricky Rice