Sexual assault survivors share the importance of speaking up

SHREVEPORT, La. - The recent #TimesUp and #MeToo movements have shined a spotlight on sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Project Celebration is a local non-profit which helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Angela Henderson heads the organization's sexual assault center says this new attention on the issue has given survivors the courage to ask for help.

Vickie Kinnard and Jidedjra Williams are survivors who both know the importance of speaking out against sexual violence.

"We were married for about two weeks before we went on a honeymoon that he never really brought me home from," Vickie Kinnard shared. "Every night he would beat me and then rape me."

Vickie was kidnapped and repeatedly assaulted by her husband as they traveled the country for more than six months.

Her life was saved when a cashier at a Walmart store in New Mexico spoke up for her.

"She had a look of disgust on her face like she had never seen anything that looked like that. My face wasn't round. It was oblong where this was swollen and this was swollen," said Vickie. "And before I could even say the words, mouth them 'please call' she was already on the phone."

Police arrived right away and saved Vickie. Her husband escaped but was later arrested and is now behind bars.

"He basically groomed me, gained my trust," said Jidedjra Williams. "And I remember him telling me not to tell anyone."

Jidedjra was 14 when she was raped by a neighbor.

"I never told anyone until I saw him on the news years later because other people had come forward accusing him of molestation and forcible rape," Jidedjra shared.

She got the courage to come forward and press charges against Steven Robinson, who was convicted and sentenced last March to more than 50 years in prison.

"It made me proud because I was part of something that was bigger than myself. I was able to prevent it from happening to other people."

She created a Facebook group called Raise Your Voice to Assault, to help other victims find their voice.

"I was silent for about 15 to 20 years about mine... so I created Raise your Voice in hopes to get other people to speak out."

Both women are inspired by Tarana Burke who started the 'Me Too' movement... originally to help women of color heal from sexual violence.

'Me Too' has grown as Hollywood embraces the movement.

"She was able to do something that I feel the criminal justice system has not... and that's to get people to talk."

Click here for resource information for sexual assault.

 


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