(2/2) I’m so thankful for Farai’s courage and strength in sharing her story with all of us.
“I’m the Public Education Coordinator at the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment. My job is to go out into the community and educate people about domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. I started there working at the shelter, which houses women and children who are homeless because of domestic violence or sexual assault and human trafficking. Through volunteering at Washburn is how I got in contact and learned about the YWCA. Being a sexual assault survivor myself I wanted to help people.
It’s difficult for people to discuss issues of domestic violence or sexual assault because there’s such a stigma in our society. We have such a culture of victim blaming that makes it very difficult for people to come forward and talk about what happened to them. My sexual assault happened while I was a student at Washburn and I didn’t talk about it with anyone even though I was doing awareness work. It’s such a difficult topic because you’re afraid of the stigma, you’re afraid that people are going to judge you. And you judge yourself. I really didn’t have the courage to talk about it until I got older and dealt with it on my own.
Rape is one of the most underreported crimes that happen in our society and it’s also the least convicted crime too. It happens so much, but we don’t talk about it. Lately I’ve been more comfortable talking about it. I wrote an article about it for The Capital-Journal in April, which is National Sexual Assault Month.
Is talking about it part of the healing process?
Yeah, for sure. It’s about not letting it have power over you and about forgiving yourself. Obviously it wasn’t my fault, but you blame yourself because that’s what you’re taught in society. ‘What were you wearing? Did you lead him on in any way?’ I want my daughter Thandie to live in a world where she can express herself safely, where she can expect better from men.
Who are your biggest influences?
My aunt Rosie. She is just an amazing, tiny-powerhouse of a woman. She rescues animals and even takes in stray animals like myself. She just takes care of so many people, almost at the cost of her self. She’s a Kansas farm girl, living on the farm with her animals and she’s brilliant.
There’s also Sharon Sullivan, who is a professor at Washburn. She’s just tireless in the work that she does for students and for women’s rights. She’s smart, funny and kind.
And my mom, whom my daughter is named for. She died when I was really young, but from what I know of her, she was a hardworking and strong woman.
So I come from a line of very powerful, strong women.”
“And now you’re raising one.”
“And now I’m raising one.”