(click picture to be directed to her organization)
First of all I wanted to take the time to say that I am honored and blessed to have been able to get to know you and see all about your healing journey and the impact you have made on so many including my life, you definitely are continuing to make such a huge difference.
As the Founder of S.D.I.A.G, I had to dig deep because it was probably one of the hardest things for me to do to com out behind a façade filled life of smiles, and perfectionist driven work and school ethic most people were used to from me , and admit that the Julie most of the world knew ( accept closed loved once), was not the real Julie.. See the Julie the world knew ( People from school ,work, College I graduated from , and people I met along the way) knew me as the Happy Julie, who was driven, helpful to so many and at times prone to have a temper tantrum here and there. Little did most of the world know prior to June of 2013 ( when I officially launched my organization), that the real Julie was a very sad, hurt, depressed and mistrusting girl who hid behind her smile because she learned early one – if you smile people don’t ask “what’s wrong.”
My story of hiding begins back in France when I was only 2 years of age. Although I don’t remember being raped that early ( my earliest memory was at age 3), my oldest brother witnessed me being raped at 2 by my mother boyfriend. I became of Victim of my mother’s alcoholic and drug using boyfriend from Age 2-8. I was often tortured, raped so many times I can’t truly remember the exact number of times, and brutally physically abused and tortured over the years as well. My mother who too was an alcoholic, and heroin addict did nothing to stop Claude ( my abuser) from doing the things he did, many days she encouraged it. My brother suffered the same fait, although she would try to protect him from the sexual assaults. I still have physical scars of torture I endures. My mother also let another male rape me, when she attempted to get to a women home; and never stopped anything from happening.
So I was a lost , abandoned and unloved motherless child.
When my Biological father got custody of me, he too was never home being that he was special forces and left me with his then wife who to physically abused me . He divorced her , and later re-married a woman I considered to be the mother I almost wanted. My father however (who too was an alcoholic ) physically and mentally abused her; although he treated me like a princess. He gave me everything I wanted.. When my father got custody of my older brother I was 12; and he broke the silence telling all that had happened to me . Although previous doctor visits confirmed sexual and physical abuse I was always too afraid and ashamed to admit it being that I thought likes most victims – which this was my fault, I was a bad girl and this is what I deserved. Also being that my brother was still in France with my mother, I was too afraid to admit anything out of fear Claude would kill my brother, as he promised he would the day I left France.
After some therapy we all started a new chapter, I became focused on academics more than ever; and stopped going to therapy- my father thought I was okay without it.. So I dealt with things the way I always did , nightmares would come –I would wake up and make sure Claude was not there; other memories would be triggered I put them behind me and acted like my past never happened. In this, I kept people at a distance, never truly learned how to love, trust, have friendships etc. because I was never in an environment where I could learn this. Not until I came to the US from Germany and met my now husband in 2006. He came from a family full of love and happiness something I had never seen before. He is the first person who never gave up on me, regardless of me being different , often distant and often wanted to end the relationship out of fear he would change he stood by my side.. However this time last year I had a bad mental breakdown, wanted to kill myself because all of my hidden emotions caught up with me.. I could only run from a past that still haunted me for so long .
Today, I am proud to have taken the step to publicly talk about all of my pain, memories and issues I am still faced with today . I have found comfort and healing in sharing and helping other victims; no longer hiding behind my façade, and it has helped me to do something I was never able to do before.. LOVE MY SELF..EVERY SCAR I HAVE, EVERY TEAR I HAVE CRIED, EVERY NIGHTMARE I STILL HAVE— I now can say I LOVE MY SELF, and am still on my Healing journey . I 100% Support and Love the MAYIMBA Project. You have helped me so much also in my healing Journey. May you continue to help others around the world.
Julie Rivas –Founder and CEO of Sans Douler International Advocacy Group.