If you or your friend needs urgent help, call 911 right away. Or even take your friend to the emergency room for assistance. If you feel it’s safe, stay with your friend or find someone to stay with them until help arrives.Call 911
You are not alone, and help is always available. Get immediate support 24/7. Reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting COALITION to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s free, and everything you tell them is confidential, unless it’s essential to contact emergency services to keep you or your friend safe.
Black Transgender people hold multiple marginalized identities, which puts them at increased risk of negative mental health experiences. Roughly 48% of transgender adults report that they have considered suicide in the last year, compared to 4% of the overall US population. The Black Transgender community is far too often targets of murder and violent acts, based solely on their identity — and we can no longer ignore the prejudice and racism this community faces on a daily basis.
We’ve partnered with The Okra Project to share and amplify authentic & empowering stories of the Black Transgender community and their mental health experiences. The stories highlight these folks’ resilience and how beautiful it is to be a Black Transgender person. We understand that society’s work is far from over in creating culturally informed, quality mental health equity for all — and we hope these stories will help in our efforts to educate, destigmatize and implement lasting change for the Black Trans community.
"I feel perfectly imperfect, with a great amount of self love."
"The way that things have happened have allowed so much more room for me...room to feel certain things, to have moments of growth, to make certain connections. That's been incredible."
"Knowing that we have the audacity to go against the grain of what society says we cannot do...that brings me joy."
"We just got to exist as black, queer, non-binary, trans people... not worrying about what anyone thought of us or how anyone perceived us. It was everything."
"What I love about being a black trans person is being a black trans person. Period."
The Okra Project is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by bringing home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black Trans People wherever we can reach them. "I wouldn't give it up for anything. I'm just happy being me."
Princess Janae Place offers a community-based, safe and accessible place for people of transgender experience to connect to critical services and support. "What keeps me grounded and resilient is that the Black Lives Matter inclusiveness creates support for the Trans community."
"It feels amazing to finally be here, because I've been wanting to be here for a while and have been too scared to say 'this is me.'"
We all experience our mental health to some degree every day. It is important that we take steps to share our truth by expressing how we really feel. Our mission is to create and share uplifting, honest stories that bring us together by embracing our mental health experiences.
Roxanne E. Epperson is the Executive Director and Founder of Women Against Abusive Relationships (WAAR). After surviving an abusive relationship that almost took her life, and multiple sexual assaults and rape, she became passionately committed to ending violence in women and girls' lives. Roxanne realized that her survival was a blessing from God that allows her to use a life-threatening experience to prevent others from suffering the same. "You did not deserve it, and it was not your fault even if the perpetrator says it was." "Ignore the stereotypes or the stigma that if you go to therapy you're crazy...actually you're showing courage and you are taking the first step towards healing." "I turned my sour lemons into sweet juicy lemonade."
Ifer lives in Los Angeles and loves caring for children as a nanny. As a survivor of sexual assault and being constantly triggered by the political drama of 2016, Ifer wrote a zine called, Trump Reminds Me of My Rape. "By telling my story I think it helped me have clarity on what that meant for me and my mental health and processing it really" "I don't necessarily label myself as [a 'Survivor']...yeah, this is something that happened to me, but I don't think it's my identity." "What did happen to me did change me, and I was left with a fear of men and a fear of the world...I was scared of everything after that happened..." "I'm feeling just grateful for the life I am leading right now. That I have a home, that I have a supportive family, that I have a supportive community."
Jason was sexually molested from age 12 to 17 by his Boy Scout leader, who was also his youth leader at his church. Although Jason has identified at least 47 men who were abused by him in total, he was 1 of 3 victims who pressed charges, leading to him being sentenced to 30 years in jail. He has struggled with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and believes in therapy and being an active participant in his healing journey. "Once I admitted I had a problem, I entered into therapy with a dual focus on dealing with my abuse history and trying to integrate all the different compartments I had built up inside of my head." "Today, with thirty years distance between me and the trauma I mostly deal with the manifestations of [CPTSD]...I deal with that, and the way they personify my addictions, and how they impact the way I see myself, and how I interact with others around me." "Healing doesn't happen unless I'm an active participant in the process." "I don't find much value in living in the past or living in the future, yet my mind constantly moves me in those two directions. It is so much easier and healthier to live in the now."
Jo is a marketer and model based in New York City. She was repeated sexually abused at the age of 3 by a teenager who was at her babysitter's. She was again assaulted at 17 when she was at a party, where she was was given alcohol and raped by a fellow partygoer. Her mental health was affected in relation to her body image as she struggled with eating disorders and feeling as though her body was not worth treating well. She is now comfortable and happy with her body and how she views herself after years of effort, therapy and soul searching. "One of the things that I wish I knew earlier is 'You are not alone. You do not have to hide this.'" "When you are comfortable, and as you are comfortable, talking about it helps, because it helps you explore those feelings, get them out and understand them."
Joe is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse from multiple abusers. After years of counseling, he has found that joining other survivors in advocacy work helps him continue his healing journey. He believes that if he can help even one person, it feels like he is passing along some of the help he got from so many others. He is also a big fan of dinosaurs, hot sauce, chocolate, and tea. "The PTSD to me wasn't so much a label as it was a way to understand...some of the events of my life [and] some of the responses." "One of the things that I have told other survivors, in person and online, is these things you're going through are a perfectly normal response to a very abnormal situation." "The hidden talents that are in us didn't go away when we were abused... and each and every one of us has an opportunity, if we choose, to nurture that talent, that essence, that who we are, and have it help us make healthy choices for better outcomes despite whatever was in the past."
Julie is a survivor of years of childhood sexual abuse and other one-off sexual assault experiences by family member and family friends. With sexual assault being common in her family and culture, seeking help was not an option, and she did not know it was wrong until a family friend started molesting her at 9 years old, which continued until she was 17. Most of the sexual abuse that she experienced was from trusted adults in her life including the last incident at 28 years old by someone who was a friend and mentor. For Julie, healing has been a journey of learning to befriend her body and release the traumatic energy that has been unconsciously stored. Now, as a somatic trauma therapist, Julie helps others heal themselves. "My healing journey was about befriending my body. Learning how to feel safe in my body. Find my strength and therefore to also feel safe in the world once again." "I am empowered to help others find that sense of safety in their bodies and in the world as well."
Kelly Johnson was 23 and leaving for work in the morning when she was attacked by a home invader who beat, strangled and raped her. Kelly chose to speak openly about her experiences with those close to her and because of the support she was met with from her family and friends, she felt comfortable starting to work with a therapist. While she accepts that her healing journey will continue to be ongoing, she finds that her good days now outweigh her bad ones. "I was a 'victim', I was 'victimized,' but I am a 'survivor'...and I feel like that transition began when I started speaking to people about what happened to me." "It's a really strange thing to be grateful that you've been messed up enough on the outside that people can acknowledge that you've been messed up on the inside." "It's not that I couldn't still have an amazing life. I just couldn't ever again have a life where this wasn't part of it, where I wasn't carrying this with me...and for me, accepting that there was no factory reset, that no matter how hard I tried, I was never going to find a button that would get me back to me mental and emotional state from before the attack, it was kind of freeing. It took away one of the internal battles I was fighting and made it easier to start building a sustainable path forward."
Megan is 31 years old and was raised in Southern California. She is a litigation attorney in New York City and recently started her own professional organizing company, Tidy Tribe, where she helps people seek serenity and take back control of their lives by helping them organize their home and other spaces. She experienced domestic violence with an intimate partner several years ago, which involved both physical violence and severe emotional abuse. Her partner was battling depression and addiction at the time, which played a huge part in the trauma she experienced. "What about me? What about my well being and my safety and my suffering? I really did lose my sense of self." "I've found a lot of peace in my journey of healing by trying to help others who are dealing with a similar situation who may not have the resources that I have." "I know that trauma is not linear and it doesn't just go away." "I just want people to know that domestic violence can truly happen to anyone."
Michael is a father, husband, and child advocate, and he describes himself as an agent of change. He grew up with family members targeting him for their sexual gratification and heir fury, and his childhood experiences is the embodiment and manifestation of his family's criminality, their mental illnesses, incest, and more. He feels that once he connected with a therapist who specializes in trauma and abuse, things began to change for the better. "It left me unable to trust, feel safe, vulnerable, and specifically unable to develop healthy sexuality." "My [healing] journey is at times painful and at times full of 'aha!' moments. I work hard at it, fully engaged. Once I connected with a trained therapist, specializing in trauma and abuse, things got scarier, but things also began to change for the better." "I thrive and I struggle; when I'm chill I take on more and when I'm triggered and stuck in a trauma-response cycle, my life and the lies of those around me is the tempest of chaos." "I'm not alone. I know it and i feel it. I know that I'm worthy of peace, of calm, and joy."
Mirabelle Jones is a researcher, artist, and creative technologist living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Mirabelle founded Art Against Assault, a nonprofit organization giving survivors a platform to create artwork which speaks out against assault, after being sexually assaulted during their second year of graduate school. They were drugged by a person they met at a bar. Talking to a crisis counselor from RAINN enabled them to believe that it was not their fault and online forums helped them feel like she was no longer alone. The person who assaulted them never spent a day in jail, and while Mirabelle is still angry, they continue to use their voice and art to speak out against assault. "I'd be lying today if I said that I'm fine. I'm still angry. I'm angry at what happened to me, and I'm angrier still at what happens to hundreds of people in the United States every day and what happens to thousands of people around the world every day. I refuse to accept this as normal." "I'm proud to say that I've been able to use my voice to speak out against what I refuse to accept as normal."
Reggie Walker is a dad to three, a husband, and an ex-NFL player living in the Kansas City area. Reggie is a sexual assault survivor and survivor advocate who believes his own healing journey began when he lost what he calls the first love of his life- football. As an NFL player for 7 years, and a captain of the Arizona Cardinals, football had been, among many things, his coping mechanism for sexual assault. Facing the reality of his experience with sexual assault many years after the fact led to a lack of self confidence and self control, but his belief remains that sitting with feelings related to trauma or of pain is necessary, and relying on your own resilience can get you through it. "My healing journey didn't really start until I lost the first love of my life, which was football. Football was a coping mechanism for me, my teacher, and so many things to me. When it got taken away it forced me to sit with myself, and sitting myself was something I never fully gave myself the time to do." "You're going to need your trusted friend, your best friend, probably the biggest thing that is going to help you out is going to be resilience, but I say its a friend because you really need to form that relationship with it because sitting with yourself is a brutal process and resilience is your one and only friend at times to get through that." “You need to be very comfortable with being uncomfortable for a while. But you can get through it. I did it.”
Samantha is a singer songwriter who was born and raised in Seattle. She loves woodworking and all of her fur babies. After experiencing sexual assault by someone she knew, she believes that living was a choice, and continue choosing to live her life while processing her past. She wrote and recorded the song 'Be Anyway' about her experience as a survivor. "Music has been a wonderful coping mechanism for me to get through even the toughest times." "I consider myself a 'survivor,' because there were many times throughout my healing journey where I made the active decision to survive. It's not just that I survived a traumatic event in my life; it's that I survived the aftermath." "It was a lot that I was keeping inside, and not everyone knew what happened to me, but they could see what was happening to me." "There are so many people out there who do feel the same way. Even in my darkest moments...the days that I felt I was so alone, there are people out there that understand." "It's been four years since I was assaulted, and I can say that at this moment, I am present. I'm happy when I'm happy. I'm sad when I'm sad. I'm angry when I'm angry...it's really cool to say that I'm present, and I'm able to feel how I feel."
Melissa is a professional dancer, model, personal trainer, and Boston College graduate. More than anything, she is a performer on a mission to bring more beauty to this world in every way that she can. She is also a survivor of domestic violence. "I have never been more grateful for my art form than I have throughout my healing journey. I think that when words fail movement doesn't and unraveling how complicated a domestically violent relationship is, and all of the layers that coincide with that, was really challenging, and dance has always been my first language." "Having a medical expert to help me go through a trauma and deal with it has been such a necessary part of my healing process. If I had a broken foot, I would go to the doctor. This for me is the same thing." "The way your brain works before trauma and after trauma is completely different, and understanding what is going on in your body allowed me to work with myself instead of against myself." "You have the strength and power to get through this because you are already surviving."
Stephen is a song writer, singer, performer and most of all a human who lives to help others. As a survivor who experienced being silenced after 14 years of childhood sexual abuse, he refuses to rest until he can ensure that no other child has to walk into their adulthood carrying the kind of pain he did. He has felt the effects of society's lack of acknowledgement for sexual abuse as a men's issue too, and believes he deserves, as all human do, to heal. "I have finally lived more years alive without abuse than I have with abuse, and for me that's a big thing." "I have to decide everyday if walking outside my front door is worth the triggers that I may face... and some day's it's not... I don't get to choose the triggers that affect my mental health, and I don't always get to choose how those triggers affect the way I react." "This world doesn't make it easy for men. We are told be a man, be a tough guy; we're told don't be a sissy, don't cry. But I am learning that it's ok to live in those emotions and express those emotions and process them, and that is how we heal. We heal by speaking out and speaking up about our stories."
Kristine is a Senior Recruiter for an information technology company in Pennsylvania, where she is married with two children. As a freshman in college she was raped by an acquaintance who left her on the side of the road for dead. She created a nonprofit organization called Voices of Hope where she shares her personal story and helps others share their stories of trauma and healing. "Speaking about my story actually has been a really great way for me to heal." "I no longer define myself as a victim. For a long time I defined myself as a fighter but also I define myself as a thriver... There are definitely some bad days still, but the good outweigh the bad." "I used my eating disorder as a way to hide feelings that I didn't want to feel. Whether it was sadness or anger or hurt or anxiety... I experienced PTSD, I battled a couple years of depression, and anxiety..." "It wasn't until about...6 years after the rape, when I actually took some time off from being in any form of relationship and really learned to find myself and figure out who I was... because after I was raped everything changed. I knew who I was prior to it but I didn't know who I was after."
"I'm the observer of my thoughts and not my thoughts."
"During these times of isolation, music has given me that sense of nature and connection with people."
"There are definitely silver linings to quarantining and having to sit with ourselves and process how we really feel." "Saying things out loud and processing them out loud is so much more helpful than trying to keep them in your head."
"Songwriting was a way for me to understand what and how I was feeling." "Mental health is like any part of the body; it gets sick, it is okay to ask for help."
"I hope that one day my music can help people in the way that other peoples' music has helped me."
"Music wrapped its arms around me and lifted me up at a time when I didn't want anything to do with it."
"I'm guilty of allowing the expectations I've set for myself in my music career to play a more important role in my happiness than they should."
"While I do feel this sadness and exhaustion from everything that I'm processing, I know that it's necessary and that at the end of all this I'm gonna come out so much stronger and so much wiser."
"Sometimes I find that I can communicate better how I'm feeling in a song" "It's a life long journey dealing with your mental health"
"Negative thoughts create more negative thoughts." "Music can change your feelings instantly, and I'm so lucky that I get to have music as an outlet...I love that I'm just able to put my feelings into a song"
"I finally articulated my feelings, and that validated them for the first time."
"As empathetic musicians, we feed off our emotions; we work off our emotions, so these things were just amplified by this experience."