If you’re not familiar with my new series #WCW, I decided to start profiling women across the world who inspire me. Since I don’t have the opportunity to interview everyone on my podcast or on a show, I figured I could just as efficiently spread their message through Life Unfiltered. I met Alex a long time ago through a morning show in Houston and have kept in touch with her ever since. She’s a powerful inspiration for young women across the country. Alex was sexually assaulted last year and has used her platform to share her message and empower other women to be fearless through her personal experiences.
Alexa: What stopped you from almost dropping out of college?
AH Everything in me wanted to give up and just stay home and not have to face a world that didn’t believe me. It would have been easy to drop out and never have to see certain staff, professors, or to step foot on that campus again. It would have been easy to give into the stigma of rape victims and let it consume my life. And for a while, I believed the stigma. I believed that this dirty, isolating, traumatic event ruined my life and my future. But, I wanted to prove them wrong. I wanted to prove myself wrong. So I took 18 hours three sessions straight and now I’m graduating in less than four years.
Alexa: Are there methods that you do to de-stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed?
AH I have good days and I have bad days, just like everyone else. But some days are harder than others and the stress can get to me. When it gets overwhelming I like to retreat to my sanctuary, which right now is my room. Sometimes I need to detach myself from my busy schedule or from my memories and be present. I bring myself back to the moment, turn on my essential oil diffuser, put on white noise, and journal or read. Writing things out has always been a way for me to feel like I’m physically getting the stress out of my body.
Alexa: What advice would you give to people who are feeling alone?
AH Honestly, going through something such as sexual assault or any traumatic event is very isolating. In that moment whatever happened, happened to you and only you. This can cause anyone to feel a sense of being alone even after it’s over. My advice to people who feel alone, is to talk. Talk to your friend, a family member, or even a therapist. I started seeing a therapist after my assault every week. It completely changed how I felt and helped me process what happened. Sometimes there is shame, guilt, or other emotions when talking with a loved one and that can still make it seem like we are alone because we can’t be vulnerable and honest with them. But, when I talk with my therapist, I can freely say how much or how little I want. Verbalizing how I feel helped me feel not as alone through the process of healing.
Alexa: How have you bounced back from this and gain a feeling of confidence again?
AH Healing doesn’t happen overnight. Every day is a new opportunity to heal, empower yourself, and to change your thinking. For a long time, I thought of myself as unworthy. Unworthy of love, respect – especially from men, and even of life. I woke up one day and was tired of it. I decided I was going to be worthy of everything. Worthy of life, love, respect – from everyone, and worthy of being happy. So later that day I went and got the word “worthy” tattooed on my arm. It sounds kind of crazy but every single day I look down and I’m reminded that I’m worthy. I have my good days and I have my bad days, but my little reminder has helped me regain my confidence in who I am.
Alexa: Do you have a message you would like to share regarding the lack of support from professors’/police enforcement?
AH To the other people who are brave enough to speak up and are not heard, do not get discouraged. When people of power choose not to do something, to not make a change, to not serve justice, it is not your fault. You have already won by speaking up and telling someone your story and your experience. There will always be faults in the system, but what you do has a ripple effect. You being brave can empower someone else to speak their truth, you being brave can remind someone else, they aren’t alone, you being brave can make a change in how people of authority such as professors or police enforcement support survivors.