Reclaiming Lost Voices

cropped-cropped-cropped-cropped-cropped-625689_4492337027001_1043058013_n2112Reclaiming Lost Voices began from Ruth’s experience breaking her own silence of sexual violence to the New York Times.

“Bystanders don’t need to be superheroes. Sometimes they just need to speak up. During an attack and after an attack, that may be all that individuals need to reclaim their voices and reclaim their lives.”

Today Ruth shares her experience of surviving gang rape and educating others on bystander intervention and empowerment. She believes we all have the potential to heal from traumatic and even violent experiences and become an empowered survivor.

Ruth began Reclaiming Lost Voices (RLV) to be part of the solution to end violence. RLV is a movement to create a safe place for survivors and supporters to share their voices and begin a dialogue that examines solutions to end violence and injustice. She believes we all deserve a safe place to share our truth and seek a form our own form of justice and reclaim our dignity.

According to the  World Health Organization, each year, over 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence. Violence is among the leading causes of death for people aged 15–44 years worldwide. According to the CDC, More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Many more are injured and suffer from a range of physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems. Moreover, violence places a massive burden on national economies, costing countries billions of U.S. dollars each year in health care, law enforcement and lost productivity.

Since coming forward and voicing her experience publicly, Ruth believes we can shift from a victim-violence culture to one based on survivorship and empowerment, but in order to move forward we must see ourself as part of the solution. She shares her story of sexual violence, humiliation, pain and struggle, so other survivors can become connected on deeper, whole level.

Ruth struggled with dark past of battling clinical depression, post traumatic stress, anxiety, eating and sleep disorders, self-harming and suicidal tenacities as ways to cope with her violent kidnaping and gang rape as a child, childhood trauma and being drugged and date raped in college. She reached her lowest point when she was ready to end her life. She felt lost, alone, stuck, unheard and desperate for a solution for not just herself, but other survivors she knew were struggling with the same questions and disempowerment and injustice. She wanted to do something with my life that would give back to others and allow them to never feel alone in their journey. She picked herself back up and started Reclaiming Lost Voices.

Ruth now dedicates her life to seeking peace and reclaiming her voice with others around  the world. She no longer sees herself as a victim, but as an empowered survivor who continues to share her voice around the world. Her goal is to form a sisterhood and brotherhood of violence survivorship to encourage healing and empowerment as a community. She knows we each have the potential to heal and become part of the solution to encourage growth, transformation and peace in the our own lives and the world around us.

Although Ruth never had the chance to seek justice in the courtroom she believes the most powerful justice is found outside the courtroom. It’s a movement called restorative justice. The real work begins outside the courtroom and in our communities so we can deal with the fear, pain, grief and injustice that is committed too many times.

Ruth believes each one of our voices matter. Her transformation from a victim to empowered survivor and now active witness is one that continues to bloom, but it also has been a long blooming journey. Ruth continues to work with other grassroots organizations and community leaders in Asia, Africa and the U.S. to learn and be part of the solution for justice and peace. She continues to write  to empower, educate, inspire and transform our minds to be part of the solution to end violence in our own life, in our own community and our world.