Sexual abuse occurs ever 69 seconds in America, according to RAINN. Organizations like Speak Our Truth are working to change that and ensure that women no longer have to suffer in silence.
Founded by Delashawn Bordeaux Speak Our Truth, Inc. is a nonprofit organization derived to provide educational initiatives that remove the negative connotation of speaking out against sexual abuse in the African American community. Their mission is to raise global awareness of the effects of abuse, mitigate cycles of abuse, and end silence due to fear of retaliation; while providing ways of engaging and interacting with others while embracing differences and learning to heal.
This week Speak Our Truth is hosting Cocktails with a Cause to raise awareness of the organization in the Baton Rouge community. Learn more about the organization and its founder’s story below.
Christina: Why did you start Speak Our Truth, Inc?
Delashawn: I’m a victim of incest sexual abuse and had a firsthand experience of what it’s like trying to heal from the trauma of sexual abuse without proper resources or support. I want to ensure that no other victim has the same experience, especially in the Black community where we are often taught what happens here stays here, so no one speaks out
Christina: Do you mind briefly sharing your experience with sexual abuse?
Delashawn: I was molested by my father between the ages of 14-18. It took me seven years to finally speak out. I was given an ultimatum, but he wasn’t indicted. For years I dealt with the struggles of suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety until I finally took steps to work toward my healing. I went to therapy and will soon be returning. From there, I started journaling, meditating, and really allowing myself to understand and feel my experience which lead to me learning how to overcome trauma and help others overcome it as well.
Christina: If you had to say one way this abuse shaped you or your mindset, what would that be and how did you overcome it?
Delashawn: It’s crazy because growing up, my father taught me not every man should have access to you. However, he was also the one violating me so I found myself going against his words for so-called encouragement and started feeling as if my value resided in what I had to offer sexually. If someone wasn’t interested or didn’t want to sleep with me, I felt like I was useless or had nothing to offer. Now my perspective has changed. I had to really do some root work to learn who Delashawn Bordeaux is apart from sexual trauma and life experience. I had to change my thinking to believe I am loving and worth being loved for who I am and not what I had to offer. I had to say affirmations to rebuild my confidence. I had to forgive myself and my abuser. Truth is, it is still a process to keep a different mindset, but it’s not worth feeling the way I did back then.
Christina: What are some signs of sexual abuse?
Delashawn: Pay attention to changes such as when children go from doing well in school to failing, a child’s actions/reactions towards particular people, suddenly wetting the bed, mood changes (anger/sadness), thoughts of suicide, and being easily triggered. These are just to name a few. Not only do I ask parents to pay attention to the signs of sexual abuse but also pay attention to the signs of grooming. The person who pays extra attention to one or more of your children. They buy them gifts, build trust with the child and family, and are always available when you aren’t creating alone time (i.e., you have to work overtime on more than one occasion and they are always available to watch your child until you get off).
Christina: Tell us a little bit about your nonprofit’s event, Cocktails with a Cause. What can attendees expect, and what will the money raised from this event go towards?
Delashawn: Cocktails with a Cause is an opportunity for supporters to come and learn who we are as an organization since we are new to the capital region area. We will have someone share the importance of having resources and representation for African American Survivors. We will speak on the importance of Victim Reconciliation; I will share our upcoming initiatives, such as group therapy sessions, community educational events, and a 5k for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. Most importantly, I will share one of my favorite documentaries Survivors Grace to show the fluidity of sexual assault across different nationalities. I think this video shows a true testament to the amount of help and healing needed across the country, but most importantly, I hope more women of different nationalities begin to find freedom in speaking out, especially those in the Black community that have lived in silence for too long.
Delashawn: So, we are growing. However, we have worked with event planners for conferences and recently finished assisting with The Heart of Reconciliation Conference. We enjoy helping companies create training departments designed to help a company continue down the road to success while implementing processes. We help with resume and interview skills, and there is a small group I look forward to working with soon, but we will keep that project a secret for now, LOL!
Christina: What is your SwagHer? What makes Delashawn? Delashawn?
Delashawn: I’m vibrant or extra- how ever, you want to look at it, LOL! I love being around and connecting with people, but most importantly, I have a heart for the forgotten.
Christina: What is one word you would use to describe yourself and why?
Delashawn: Blessed. It’s weird to say, but God used my traumatic experience to be a light for others. I am thankful God has given me the strength others need. I hope that God creates bigger doors for me to walk through and with an army behind me because this battle is bigger than we think.
Christina: How do you practice self-care as an entrepreneur and college student?
Delashawn: I believe in baths, and I don’t mean just a regular tub with water. NO! I want a theme, whether it is lavender (relaxation), rose(love/intimacy), or orange(brighten my mood). I add flowers to match, so if lavender, then I do purple flowers, relaxing music, a glass of wine, and candles. I allow myself to relax with no interruption.
Christina: What is something you wish you could go back and tell your younger self now that you have grown and evolved?
Delashawn: Stop giving up! You find every excuse to give up on your journey; all it does is slow down the process. Keep going no matter what!
Christina: What is some advice you can give to young men and women that have overcome sexual abuse but are struggling mentally
Delashawn: Find a therapist you trust. Make sure you are a match. This may take time, but don’t stop looking; it’s a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand. Be honest in therapy, do the work no matter how much it hurts (the work is whatever the therapist recommends), and most importantly, don’t be afraid to speak up if you need help. There are people who understand your pain and are available to talk to. Please don’t hold it in…say something. Even if it is to yourself in the mirror. The point is to get it out and remember you have a community of support, even if it is just me.
Christina: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Delashawn: Thank you for allowing me to share my story. Please donate to the organization. Even if it is not monetary, we are accepting donations through our Amazon list. For the holidays, we are working with a local nonprofit, The Resistance, which is founded by Redell Norman to give back toys, and on behalf of Speak Our Truth, I would like to ensure the teenagers have gift cards, as well as women in need, have necessity kits to take home.
Register here to attend Cocktails with a Cause on December 9th in Baton Rouge, LA.
Connect with Delashawn below: