'I've Suffered In Silence For 12 Years': Rape Survivor Empowers Black Women To Open Up About Sexual Violence

'I've Suffered In Silence For 12 Years': Rape Survivor Empowers Black Women To Open Up About Sexual Violence

There is no denying that black women have been facing sexual violence, even if people don't readily believe them. LaQuisha Anthony is here, making strides for something more.

There are profound levels of layers that stop a black woman from talking about sexual violence and the injustice that they go through. Given that they face a double-edged sword - they are women, and they are black.

While some powerful voices such as Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou’s do sound empowering, the situation in the current times is still different than what people imagine to be. 



 

“A lot of us in the African American community, we don’t necessarily speak about our issues,” Anthony said. “But we will pray about them.”

That’s why Anthony’s motto has always included both. It’s what she credits with keeping her from driving off the bridge: “Therapy plus God.” 



 

LaQuisha Anthony had faced a dark path after she was raped when she was in college.  According to The Inquirer, Anthony was not able to tell anybody about her ordeal. Back in 2001, when the awareness did not make to the walls of Facebook and Instagram, she felt truly alone. 

“When you see someone like you who has moved through it and their life has gotten better, it gives you hope,” said Anthony, now 36 and living in South Philadelphia. “Not having that, I had no hope.”  Now, nearly two decades later, she is becoming a ray of hope for others who have suffered the same. 



 

 

Her initiative known as the  V.O.I.C.E. (Victory Over Inconceivable Cowardly Experiences), Anthony works to elevate the stories of black women and girls, who are more likely to face sexual violence, research shows, yet less likely to speak out or be believed when they do. 

“I suffered in silence for 12 years,” Anthony said. “I don’t want nobody to experience that long stretch of suffering.” 



 

 

The Inquirer reports some surprising statistics.  National statistics show that black women are more likely than other women to be raped, killed by a partner, or sexually abused as a child.

Yet, adults view black girls as less in need of protection than white girls, according to a 2017 study published by Georgetown Law. And a University of Michigan study found college students perceive black victims of sexual assault to be less believable and more responsible for their assault than white victims.



 

History has rarely ever been kind of black women. These statistics are a result that comes from generations of racist stereotypes that black women are sexually immoral, said Carolyn West, professor of psychology at the University of Washington Tacoma and author of the book Violence in the Lives of Black Women. 

“For most of our country’s history, sexual assault and sexual violence against black women was not even a crime,” she said. “We live with the remnants in a number of ways.” 



 

 

According to the numbers gathered by the nonprofit End Rape on Campus, for every black woman who reports her rape, at least 15 black women don’t, which does present an alarming situation, if it were to be looked at nationally. Not to mention, the situation would only get worse if they were to fall victims to big names and people with power and fame. 



 

 

LaQuisha Anthony is trying to change this dire situation, along with the narrative by coming sharing her own story of abuse and sexual violence. She has already begun doing so by mentoring black teens and also working with her pastor to bring sexual assault awareness to church, one of the most trusted institutions in her community. 



 

 

Even as she makes great strides empowering young black women, this was hardly the future she has imagined for herself. In the months after her assault, Anthony didn’t want anyone to know. “I would have taken the story to my grave,” she said.  

The trauma would follow her for an additional 10 years, reports The Inquirer. 



 

 

“Sexual assault, particularly when it goes unaddressed, can have profound mental and physical health effects across the lifespan,” said West on high rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies to high blood pressure and increased risk of suicide



 

It would be in 2011 that she decided that she was ready for therapy. She worked with a psychologist at Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) for nearly a year. In 2012, the therapist suggested Anthony tell her story at an event the organization was hosting. Her initial reluctance had vanished when she took to the mic. 



 

“People came up to me and said they were really inspired and encouraged because I shared. And I was like, ‘Really?’" This was when she realized that her story was not shameful, but more empowering than she had imagined. 

 2014 was the time when she found the Catalyst Church in West Philadelphia. As she walked in, the pastor happened to be preaching about support for survivors of rape and molestation -- a topic she’d never heard clergy broach in more than 30 years attending church. “It was groundbreaking to me,” she recalled. 



 

 

That’s when the idea for her nonprofit took shape. Since then, Anthony and her pastor have worked together to hold several events around sexual assault. They invited WOAR, where Anthony now works as an education and training specialist, to give a presentation during Sunday service, and held a community event to discuss the R. Kelly docuseries. 

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