Women and Shoes Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Alissa R. Jones and talk about your foundation and overcoming her sexual abuse from when she was younger. Now she is helping others in the same predicament to come out of their situation stronger and help others. Whether you are victim or know someone who is this article will help you in the right direction for getting the best help with this foundation. You are never alone. Please read the full interview and check out the links and photos below.
What is your name and where you are from?
Alissa R. Jones a Native of Springfield Ohio Currently reside in Houston Texas
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
This foundation begun from me sharing my testimony of being abused at the age of 11 years old by a man that took residence in my home. That man was my biggest fear and worst nightmare. Because my mother failed to protect me I went through life blaming her and trying to make her pay for my abuse. I kept this secret bottled inside for 23 years. I walked through life lost, broken and hurt. And if you know anything about being hurt is hurting people hurt people. The meaning of a broken heart took center stage when my mother drifted into the hands of God in October 2013. I now encourage people to forgive others before it’s too late as life is too short. Allot of bad decisions were made as life moved forward but I was living in my past circumstances. Not fully knowing who I was as I went through life I learned so many life lessons along the way. But GOD!!!!!!
Just when you think your past dictates who you become God steps in and shows you that your past doesn’t have to dictate your future. For me I understood that my journey of hurt, pain and life travesties didn’t have to be how my story ends. God revealed my purpose to use the very darkest moments in my life to empower survivors to see past those moments to rewrite their story.
As I say all the time: Your words, Your journey, Your Story-You never know who you may inspire or help to come forward in the expression of one’s abuse or recovery thereof.
I am a “Survivor with a Voice” helping survivors unlock their voice & heal the wounds that can’t be seen.
Can you tell us about your foundation ‘SWV’?
The mission of The Survivors with Voices Foundation is to inspire hope and empowerment within survivors who have suffered emotional and/or physical abuse across the world. Our goal is to validate these survivors as empowered contributing members of society who can inspire hope and empowerment for the masses.
The Foundation invites all survivors who suffer or has suffered from emotional and/or physical abuse to attend a group support gathering held in their local area to take part in peer to peer mentoring & support.
If a sexual abuse victim is seeking help how do they get it from your foundation?
The premise of the Foundation is to cultivate (within those who benefit from the Foundation) a true mark of a survivor. The Foundation defines the true mark of a survivor one who has the ability to inspire hope through the telling of a survivor story. Through support groups lead by chapter member- presidents across the country, the Foundation provides an open forum for survivors to be supported by their peers who have experienced similar circumstances. Survivors can come to find mentorship, counseling, and development for social skills and self-esteem. The Foundation teaches group members/ participants how to become empowered by telling their story and essential leadership skills that can be applied to everyday activities.
As an added bonus members/ participants have the option to publish their story with Survivors with Voices Publishing Company.
Is there a growing number of males being sexually abuse?
How do they get help?
We have a segment in our program called WHY Leadership which is led by our Chief Leaderologist Lou Gary Hughes Jr. He is not only our Leader in our WHY Leadership Program but a Survivor of Sexual Abuse and although it’s rare to find men to open up as much as women. It helps to have a Man be involved to be the voice of the men who have experienced Sexual Abuse which in turn helps them open up and be a part of the mission of Survivors with Voices.
Tell us about your book ‘The Stones That Built Me Strong’.
Every stone life brought my way has made me stronger. Some had no other purpose in mind but to kill me. Yet, in some ways I feel like I have been in construction, building my vessel and body into something strong. I have experienced pain and trauma and intense emotional abuse. It was a hard and sometimes cruel process but I have come to see it as just that; a process and a journey. It has been a journey that could have broken me but through it, God has given me a gift without which I could not have made it otherwise: a right perspective.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
This is not to say that I had no part to play in the pain I experienced. My abusers and enemies were not justified in doing what they did. But because I withheld forgiveness for so long and refused to let go of the pain and agony of each stone that hit me, I remained broken for much longer than necessary. I made choices based on my emotions and my losses instead of who God says that I am. I too threw stones of bad choices; the throwing of these kept me from experiencing life.
The Stones that Built Me Strong is my chance to tell the story of how every wrong that has been committed against me and of every wrong I have committed against others has been for my good. Each stone built me strong. Each rock of abuse was an opportunity for me to survive. Telling this story is an opportunity given me to let survivors of abuse, neglect, unforgiveness and violence know that if they would change their perspective and look at the stones in their life as building blocks instead of weapons of destruction, they too can build their bodies and their lives into something strong.
To you I say this: if you are a survivor of abuse or lost and damaged, there is a reason behind all of your pain. If you would let your perspective about why you had to experience what you did change, you can experience a life that has a firm foundation. If you would let God show you how to look at yourself and love yourself in spite of it all, the pieces of your broken life can be mended.
The workbook that is in conjunction with your novel how does it help a victim overcome sexual abuse?
Its scriptural based and has several exercises that I used to assist me in my healing process. It coincides with each chapter of my book to further explain the steps I took to overcome that stone in my life. You literally see the transformation of using the stones of destruction build me into the STRONG women you see today. Anyone can tell their story but I wanted the reader to understand and experience the steps and bible scriptures I used to get to the place of overcoming my sexual abuse and every other area of my life that I struggle with by the bad decisions I made.
This workbook will help you get closer to letting go of the past, moving forward and have a closer relationship with God.
Can you tell us about the upcoming campaign called ‘Survived & Revived’?’
Survived & Revived is a campaign that I developed in honor of National Sexual Abuse Awareness Month (April). My testimony of overcoming sexual abuse has allowed me to have the courage to inspire others to overcome their mental, physical, and emotional scars from Sexual Abuse. Not only did I survive, but I am revived and healed. We are scheduled to host 3 live events in Houston during the month of April. These events will display touching stories of survival as well as a live self-defense demonstration by certified self-defense instructor, Anthony Lemon. We will also host a webinar for those that are not able to attend the event(s) in Houston.
What are some signs that someone has been sexually abused?
Seems distracted or distant at odd times, has nightmares or other sleep problems, sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity, or withdrawal, develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places, refusing to share a secret with an adult or older child, thinks of self or body as dirty or bad. Just to name a few.
Is there anything we as a people can do to prevent our neighbors and loved ones from becoming a victim?
I believe part of the solution is to help people who aren’t survivors learn to hear stories of survival in productive, non-victim-blaming ways. We need to change the paradigm of reception, to empower people to hear the words “I was raped” or “I was abused,” so that they can hold them and experience them without defensiveness, panic, or pity.
As an adult, after I had privately come to terms with myself about my abuse, I still feared—deeply, viscerally—talking about that abuse to someone else.
If we are going to do right by survivors, then we need to empower those who can support them. And to do that, we need to give our friends, family, and loved ones the tools they need to hear our stories.
Listen to us (the survivor), so that we can listen to ourselves.
Where can our readers keep in contact with you?