I must admit, I struggled to write this story, my story. In many ways, it does not feel like mine. My story is an amalgamation of all the incredible survivors of sexual violence who have had the courage to share their stories with me. You see, I started Revolar, my wearable personal safety company, because my little sister Stephanie was attacked twice before the age of 17. My heart was broken, as family members of survivors, you grieve deeply for the pain your loved one has faced. Nevertheless, I kept trying to pull my heart back together. My father had passed away the year before her first attack, and I felt an incredible weight to defend and protect my family.
Nevertheless, the truth, Stephanie is not alone in my narrative. I could fill this whole page with the names of the countless victims/survivors I’ve known. From my childhood friend who was brutally murdered in her home to the whispered confessions of my college roommates, there is not a single community I’ve been a part of which has not faced the horrors of sexual violence.
Their stories did not inspire action at first, but fear. I was too fearful to enjoy life. I was terrified of going out in college lest I be next. With each year passing, that fear turned into anger. Why Stephanie? Why ___________? How could this happen AGAIN?!
Using my research-intensive background, I began scouring the web for solutions. When I exhausted finding a decent option, I came up with my own.
Revolar was born that day, even though I didn’t know it yet. Refusing to give up, I followed my initial idea for 2.5 years. I carried my vision for greater personal freedom throughout my two-year commitment with Teach For America (TFA).
Whenever I felt drained, or as if I couldn’t balance both TFA and launching Revolar, I was grounded back to the enormity of the issue I was tackling. My students became my next community of Truthtellers.
Truth? We can prove 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted by the age of 25. That number is much closer to 4 in 5 women when you take into account the amount of underreporting. For men, that number is 1 in 10. In my classroom, I taught either all boys or all girls. As I faced my classroom of young ladies, 30 in all, I counted, 1, 2, 3, 4, SAFE. If we do not take action NOW, most likely only 6 out of my 30 students will make it to the age of 25 without being sexually assaulted.
My first year teaching, my heart splintered the day I discovered that one of my 7-year-old students suffered from PTSD from having faced sexual assault at an even younger age. My second year, my heart shattered the day one of my 11-year-old students told me she had been sexually assaulted walking home from school. My young truthtellers stripped me of uncertainty.
I stopped trying to piece my heart back together and decided to leave it exposed. I grew tired of being fearful. I grew tired of being angry. I had exhausted any of those negative emotions and was left only with resolve and gratitude. I am resolved to create a solution to personal safety with Revolar. I am eternally grateful for the incredible community supporting my whole team and me on this adventure and for all those survivors who have the courage to fly again and again.
Thank you for listening to my story.