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How I Used Art and Fashion to Help Me Overcome the Effects of Sexual Abuse!

Posted by Ayesha Brown on

In the United States April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). During April people raise awareness about sexual violence and how to prevent it. 

As a child, my mother would take me around her friends who had daughters and most of the time 2 out of 6 of those people would inappropriately touch me. The abusers were around my age, they were mostly girls. I guess I thought since they weren’t adults and they were of the same sex that it wasn’t considered abuse. I encountered a couple of guy friends around my age who also felt the need to put their hands in places where it didn’t belong. When I had the courage to tell one of the guys to stop, he stopped but he told me to never tell anyone and that he wouldn’t do it again. So from the ages of 7 thru 11 I dealt with the same type of abuse from different people.

Later in life, once I entered college I never thought about my childhood abuse and just focused on my dreams and goals. Until I went out with one of my best friend (Eva) guy friends (Simon) who I thought was cute from college. He and I planned to meet at a bar to converse and just hang out. I remembered him asking me what I wanted to drink and my preference at the time was Long Island Ice Teas, therefore I was sort of used to the potency and how it affected me physically. On an average night out I could drink 2 Long Island Ice Teas and still be coherent and alert.  So I knew after drinking  1 Long Island I would be fine, but for some reason this Long Island Ice Tea didn’t have the same affect on me as the other ones I had drank in the past. I was vomiting and really didn’t feel right, Simon told me to get in the car with him as I was in no condition to drive. He told me that he stayed 10 minutes away and that I could relax at his house and we could get my car later when I appeared to be more cognitive. I sort of trusted him so we proceeded to his house. When we entered the house I went directly into the restroom. I told him I would sleep on the floor in the bathroom since I kept vomiting. He told me to come out of the bathroom because he didn’t want me sleeping in there. The tone in his voice made me think he had other plans for us and I got a little uncomfortable so I quickly texted Eva.  

In the text I told her that I think Simon was trying to have sex with me and that I was extremely drunk, maybe even drugged. I didn’t get a response from her, so as he kept knocking on the door telling me to come out and that everything was going to be okay. I slowly opened the door, he told me I could sleep in his bed and that he wouldn’t do anything. I concisely told him that “I’m sick and if we have sex that would mean you raped me because I do NOT want to have sex.” He told me he wasn’t a rapist and all I could remember is him touching me and my phone ringing. My friend (Eva) had called me about 10xs and called him screaming, asking him what did he do to me? I could hear her say, “I’m coming to get her, I’m on my way!” I remember her cursing him out as she picked me up from his house and everything else was a blur.

Thereafter, I would see Simon in the cafeteria and gym on campus. I didn’t know how to react so I would ignore him and walk extremely fast whenever I saw him. I later found out that Eva told another one of our friends (Patricia) about the situation, although I told Eva not to tell anyone. A year pasted since the incident happened and one night Patricia, Eva and I went to a party where Simon so happened to be present. I never expected Eva to say hello to him and Patricia to walk up and hug him, as if he never violated me. I got extremely mad and asked why would they talk to him after what he did to me? I asked them if they thought I made the story up because they were treating him like a friend, like an innocent guy who did no wrong.  Eva’s reply was that “I have to be cordial with him because I loaned him a lot of money and I want him pay me back.” Patricia, who was also a victim of molestation as a child, reply was extremely shocking. Patricia had the nerves to say “well if he raped you why didn’t you call the police or tell someone?” I couldn’t believe that she would even say that when we experienced the same thing, she out of all people should have understood my pain. From that day on I never trusted another female I befriend, I always felt I would be betrayed in some way. I noticed that I started drinking and partying more than usual. I started having sex with more guys and a few girls, it’s like I didn’t care anymore. I wanted control over my life and I felt that was my control.

It wasn’t until I began to get tired of being used by people before my promiscuous ways changed. I ended up meeting the best man ever, Arthur, my fiancé and my primary focus was on him. I started back designing and drawing in 2011 after I got laid off from corporate America which opened the creative doors for me to learn new skills. I taught how to customize shoes and design jewelry, so I started a business called Eshays.  The shoes you see in the attached picture are a recent inspirational design to tell me story of Sexual Abuse/Assault.  I’m doing a lot better now since my college days but I can’t lie and say those thoughts from the past don’t fester sometimes. I know how to control the thoughts better these days and my art is an outlet for me to visually tell my story! 

 

I came up with this shoe design as I began to think about the stereotypes of RAPE and how I could convey this message in an artistic form. It took me a while to conceptualize the exact pictorials for these shoes but after thinking about my past and researching other victims’ stories, things started to flow accordingly. I used the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Symbol which is an aqua blue ribbon.  I wanted to show that abuse is not welcomed by drawing an opened hand with the words STOP on it in red (the red grabs the attention of the viewers). I wanted the hand to be silver and made out of mirrors, so whoever looks into it can see their broken reflection. The broken mirrors is to help the viewer somewhat understand how the victim must have felt or feels by the abuse and how it needs to STOP.I drew a Dove to symbolize Peace and Joy, which is what victims can have once we overcome our pain and realize It Was Never Our Fought!  I wrote the phrases: No Means No and the word Strength in red to show that most rape victims don’t ask to be taken advantage of by violators. This is my story and I thought it was important to share it with those who may be experiencing the same thing…. you are not alone!


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