Kilo’s Change – No Longer a Victim (TIR Tat Tales)

KiloMarie Tattoo 1

Kilo’s Change – No Longer A Victim
March 19, 2017
Sexual Violence is Everywhere, But We Can Transform the World Through Resilience, Advocacy, Passion (and Tattoos)

Editor’s Note: This TIR Tat Tale is part of a series of articles Transformation is Real is running during March and April to bring awareness to sexual violence that unfortunately is still so prevalent in the world, and what different people are doing to effect change. TRIGGER WARNING: This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
— Albert Einstein (1950s) as quoted in “The Harper Book of Quotations” by R. I. Fitzhenry, p. 356.
One person for every 30-40 people in the United States will commit an act of personal power-based violence against another person or group of individuals. That’s one in thirty to forty people.

Why is there so much violence?

Why does a rape occur every 1-2 minutes? Or a murder every minute? Why do those few individuals that commit violence have so much power against those that do not? Simply put, it is because people do not, for a myriad of reasons, choose to step up and step in to prevent it.

We are herd animals—like sheep, we tend to follow the movements of our herd. If we see a violent act happening and yet no one around us is trying to prevent it or help, we will often follow the example of others, whether bad or good. Peer influence, various bystander dynamics (including evaluation apprehension, diffusion of responsibility, and pluralistic ignorance), in addition to our own personal obstacles or biases can prevent us from acting when we see something bad going on, or about to take place. This herd instinct can also prevent us from helping others when we see a person hurt and in need of assistance.

I formerly served as the Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator and Green Dot Trainer and Facilitator for the University of Minnesota. Within this position I had the opportunity to work as an advocate and educator. I understood how to be an advocate, an educator, and a change-maker.

It was also while serving in this position that I was raped by a close friend and colleague. The following several months were nothing short of horrific for me.
My family and I were subjected to scrutiny, ridicule, and constant humiliation. I became so afraid of leaving the home that I became a prisoner of my own fear and anxiety and refused to leave my house for months. I also developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I began reliving it in my daily life. I couldn’t leave my home, I couldn’t leave my partner or my daughter’s side. I couldn’t even work (a hardship, for sure—especially being in the field that I had been in).

I was humiliated. I was terrified. I lived every day on edge, thinking any day could be my last and sometimes wishing that very day would be my last. I believe it was the darkest time in my life. A time during which I really didn’t see much of a light. It was there; it was just difficult for me to see.

After months of investigation, the case was dropped two days before trial as a result of a technicality due to an “incomplete chain of evidence.” I did not see justice. Instead, I had to learn to live with the fact that the individual that assaulted me was free to do so again. It has been over three years since this happened. However, I still deal with the mental and physical trauma.

You might think that the story ends here . . . but it does not.

It is because of my own story (and also others sharing their stories with me, regardless of gender—boys are victimized as well) that I chose to dive even more deeply into the field of advocacy. I founded a non-profit organization, Unspoken Voices. I dedicated my life to violence prevention and intervention.

I was a victim for far too long. No more.

Although the path from victim to survivor was difficult, I learned not simply how to survive, but to thrive despite what happened to me. My difficult journey has been worth it—I hope to help others walk this same path of healing and empowerment. If I am able to help even one single person, then it gives meaning and a purpose to the work I do now, as well as an life-giving response to the violence I went through.

My tattoos remind me daily of the strength that was embodied in the immortal words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” and “[If] we remain neutral in times of injustice, we have chosen the side of the oppressor.””

I choose NOT to be silent. I choose to stand with those in pain and with those in turmoil. I choose to stand with those who—through no fault of their own—have lost their voice. I choose to speak for justice. With certainty I know that my voice, together in chorus with the voices of those like me, sings loudly, truthfully, and with strength enough to work to create a world where fear and power don’t rule the day.

A Small Voice can Make a Difference

Chantel Shepard volunteer of the month

I’m sitting in the car traveling for the Easter weekend and I’m struck by the good news I’ve received. As those of you might already know if you’ve read my first blog post, I was sexually assaulted two and a half years ago now. Although this post doesn’t seem to be heading in a “happy” direction – just wait. I promise it’ll be worth the read.

Coming forth to tell my story was and is still by far one of the hardest moments I’ve gone through. Not only did I have to go through what happened to me, but I was forced to re-live the nightmare each and every time I retold the story. I knew that I had to keep telling my story until this man – excuse me, boy – was out of my life. Or even better, jail.

But he didn’t get what he deserved…

I came forward to many people of authority, including Aaron Jordan, the Steven’s County Attorney. I trusted him. I was honest. I was emotionally raw. I poured into him everything I had all in hopes to give the boy who raped me what he deserved.

He turned my case down.

My head started spinning. I was lost. What else could I do?! That was my only chance at getting away from him. It was my chance to help other women stay safe from this animal. I let myself down, and his future victims.

According to RAAIN (, about 68% of sexual assaults go unreported. How many rapists are left out in the world to repeat their actions then?! How many rapists won’t spend a day in prison?!

Statistics say only about 2% of rapists will actually spend time in prison…

According to statistics, I’m in the minority: I told my story. And damn was it hard.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3

I gave up after Aaron Jordan turned me down, but recently something sparked my attention. He was running for the Eighth District Judge job opening. I was immediately urged to do something about it, but what? How could I stop this?

My good friend Kilo came up with the greatest idea: write a letter to Governor Dayton explaining why Aaron Jordan is not fit for the job. What a great idea – am I right? I got started on the letter right away. I had written pages on end about what happened, but I just couldn’t seem to write down everything I wanted. It was difficult. I went through police statements over and over – re-living that night. It was too difficult to put down the right words to express what I felt. Luckily, my dad was my best friend throughout the situation and is still here for me today. I told him about the horrible news (that Aaron has the chance to become a judge) and without hesitation he wrote a letter for me. For us. For every victim who’s ever been turned down by Aaron Jordan.

Here are bits and pieces of his letter below:

“In order for our justice system to function fairly and effectively in sexual assault cases and all other matters, a party must be given the opportunity to develop its claims and present them to a jury, except under narrow circumstances where it is clear the claim lacks merit or are legally barred. County Attorney Aaron Jordan, however, has proven eager to dismiss the claims of victims of sexual violence and stifle advocacy for these sufferers. Moreover, he has grounded decisions in a questionable manner involving an apparent fear of personal failure to present strong cases to juries wrong – interpretations of evidence and fact. If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable. Louis D. Brandeis”

“Case in point – August 2013
– A female student was sexually assaulted in a dorm room on the University of Minnesota Morris campus by male student.
– Victim was brought to Stevens County hospital to receive treatment, including administering a ‘rape kit’.
– University police department completes thorough investigation of reported case; report presented to Stevens County.
– Rapist’s personal testimony offers admission the victim not once, but numerous times, repeated herself in relaying a resounding ‘no, stop, why are you doing this!’
– Rapist’s personal testimony admits he has done this before.
– Rapist’s personal testimony includes statement that it his goal to ‘get as many women as he can’
– Victim understands and strengthfully agrees to testify in a court of law in Stevens County, in front of a jury, which many victims back down from.
– Stevens County attorney Aaron Jordan suggests cases of sexual assault are generally risky cases to bring to trial and ultimately Aaron Jordan failed to present charges against rapist.
– Sexual Assault victim defeated by Aaron Jordan
– Aaron Jordan exonerates self-admitted rapist
– University of Minnesota judicial process takes place, including testimony from both the victim and rapist to judicial panel.
– Judicial panel finds rapist ‘guilty’ of more than one violation, including university sexual assault policy.
– Rapist ejected from university, following panel’s conclusion.
– Rapist barred from attending any University of Minnesota campus, where victim may attend or transfer to – within University of Minnesota system.”

“Seated judges hold a high responsibility with our judiciary system(s). Aaron Jordan, based on clear and concise evidence, lacks the judgement for such responsibility. The case referenced within, has an observable evidentiary base. The rapist’s story changed a number of times – a clear sign of wrong doing and guilt. The rapist’s own testimony included a variety of confessional statements implicating nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual assault and/or rape – choice of phrase. I encourage you to examine Aaron Jordan’s track record involving sexual assault cases. It is worrisome knowing he has built a reputation of disregarding such cases. Victims are being double-victimized.”

“A bill is being introduced within both the DFL and GOP parties directly linked to the poor judgment of Aaron Jordan. The bill introduces a secondary review of such cases, taking away a single person’s ability to dismiss case. Aaron Jordan would not be allowed to be the final standing decision. Alternative appealing processes will be in place, so victims are not left in the hands of failed processes, such as what Aaron Jordan has created.”

“Although I am not a direct resident of the 8th district court counties, I am a direct resident of the great state of Minnesota. The 8th district is in my state. Not only is it an injustice to the 8th district court, but it is also an injustice to the state of Minnesota to be entertaining consideration of Aaron Jordan for the judgeship. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere – Martin Luther King, Jr.”

“If elevated, Aaron Jordan’s decisions on the 8th district are likely to resemble past practice; continuing to intrude on the fact-finding process. It is especially important that a judge appointed to a district court show restraint in determining whether to take the extraordinary step of disregarding evidentiary facts. Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens – Plato. As the county attorney for Stevens County of Minnesota, Attorney Aaron Jordan has shown an imprudent inclination to dismiss the claims of sexual assault victims and to inhibit advocacy by law enforcement in such cases, thus denying these victims access to a full and fair justice. You have two additional nominees, Cherie Clark and Amy Doll, and I am optimistic the two of them are viable candidates in your consideration for the vacant judge seat.”

I am pleased to announce that Amy Doll will be the new judge of the Eighth District.

Thank you to my father and Kilo for being huge supporters. I love you.

Voices were heard. Prayers were answered. Praise be to Him.

We Share Hope

                               We Share Hope

Hope is the most powerful gift that was given to us. In hard times, we must all look up to this wonderful gift we can hold on to. Recently, Unspoken Voices Executive Director, KiloMarie Granda spoke with iShareHope’s Chris Williams about hope and what it means to her. Her story, like so many others’ is full of struggles, however those struggles brought her to a place of hope and strength. Her hope is that by sharing her story, she can be an encouragement to others that may find themselves in similar situations. Please take a moment to listen to her story and learn more about how you can use your own voice to share hope with others.

Link to Interview:

Domestic Abuse Awareness Month

Ashley domestic violence pic

October is upon us. There are a few important things happening within this month. However, the most vital part is October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence whether it is towards women, men, long term partners, short term relationships, newlyweds, or individuals who have been married for over thirty years, each of these relationships should not have any violence and said violence must be prevented.
Domestic Violence is a large problem in the US and worldwide. Just to show a very small potion of the problem; here are some statistics to read. According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW), “In 2011, there were 27,288 domestic violence cases in the state of Minnesota. 2,853 cases were Felony Domestic Assault, 2,863 were Gross Misdemeanor Domestic Assault, 10,607 were Misdemeanor Domestic Assault, and 10,965 cases were Orders For Protection in family cases. This is just in one state. Please understand, women and men both are victims of domestic violence. According to MCBW, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking. Overall, these statistics have changed since 2010. Now, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men are victims of sever physical violence, more than 20,000 domestic violence phone calls are placed on an average day nation wide. There are many more examples and statistics of domestic violence to read. If you or someone you know is being assaulted, stalked, or is a victim of any form of domestic violence, on behalf of Unspoken Voices, please find help with the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. We are here to help and stand up with you.

National Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Source Material:

An Error of Judgment

Sex Trafficking. A topic covered before, and that needs to be covered more often, sex trafficking has emerged in the court of appeals. The horrible and disgusting truth of sex trafficking must be taken seriously by everyone. However, one judge has come under fire for a monumentally horrific decision. In the fourth district court of appeals, a judge has ruled sex trafficking is not a violent crime. The judge is quoted saying he was “not persuaded that the ordinary case of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion involves a substantial risk that the defendant will use physical force as a means to commit the offense.” Meaning: there was not enough evidence to persuade the judge there was any use of force that was warranted in this case. Many cases would show quite clearly this ruling is extremely problematic. Cases upon cases of sex trafficking show the deplorable conditions these children, as most of the victims are between the ages of 10-14, are forced to live in.

It is cases like the ones in the fourth district court of appeals that sends a wrong message to the public, saying this crime is not as bad as people make it out to be or worse, that they just do not care about the lives of these children. Do not be fooled into thinking this crime is mild compared to other crimes, but instead see it for what it is. Sex trafficking is a horrific crime against humanity that needs to be stopped. No more lives should suffer this cruel and unusually punishment.

Link to article:

A Step Forward


Target gender roles

As many are aware, Target came under fire the last few weeks from the “junior’s” section selling a t-shirt for women with the word “Trophy” in bold letters. Recently, Target has taken a step forward in the right direction by instigating a policy to remove the gender labels for kids in regards to toys, bedding, and entertainment. Although there is more this company has to do to help gender equality, Target has made a great first step towards fixing an important problem; gender roles. There is a long tradition of boys and girls being told what they are allowed to play with. Whether it be “you can’t play with that, it’s too girly.” or “this is for boys only, go play with dolls.” These kinds of gender roles have been taught and drilled into our heads since childhood. But why do we have to abide by them? If a young boy wants to play with a Barbie or some other doll, why can’t he? If a girl wants to work with tools and get her hands dirty, why can’t she? We shouldn’t have to make or have rules of what boys and/ or girls can play with. We shouldn’t even have to label individuals by gender…gender identity is fluid and by classifying individuals as male and female, we negate that important fact. We should allow and encourage these young people to choose what they want to play with and associate with instead of forcing them to obey the “gender rules and roles” of society.

Link to Article:

Suggested Marketing Changes for Target

Trophy pic

We recently posted an article about Target and how their recent clothing trends seemed to be disturbing…Women’s shirts with things like…”Batman’s Girlfriend” and “Trophy”. This spurred us to write about how no person, no matter the gender, should be considered a trophy. This current post, short and sweet, shares where the term “trophy wife” began.

“Few people know the history behind Trophies. Not the trophies you win in sports or at fairs; what I’m talking about is people. It is debated when the term “trophies” came from, however there is no debate on what it meant. Trophies were people who were captured (by warriors, royals, etc) as prizes brought home. These people, most often women, were captured, torn from their families, raped repeatedly,  and forced to bear the captor’s children. These “prizes” or “trophies” were in all actuality slaves. This is what we are calling people today, saying they are no better than things to be won.

So, Target, we suggest that you perhaps change your marketing…Instead of the shirt seen above, why not just call it for what it really is (see pic below). How’s that for marketing?

TrophySlave pic

She’s Not A Trophy

Trophy pic

You have heard it all, whether it is in the locker rooms or a dinner table. Words such as; “You’ve really got yourself a prize catch with her.” or; “She’s the perfect example of what a wife should look like, be like, etc.” For the longest time, women have been viewed as nothing more than prize possessions in the eyes of many. It has gone so far that it is considered a part of normal western culture to be a “Trophy Wife”; by means of convincing young women they need some sort of “Sugar Daddy” that provides them with everything so they don’t have to work nor be considered anything less than an expensive object made to look good next to said financial provider. There are people who understand how despicable and wrong this view of women is. However, there are those who think this is the way society should be; women should be second-class citizens according to these people. Right now, the media and companies are reinforcing this view of women. In particular, Target has come under fire with a release of a women’s t-shirt with “Trophy” written in bold letters. Why is it deemed okay for women to be treated as objects? There are some who want this shirt to be in the men’s section as well. However, what does that solve? These types of ideals and views should be exterminated. No one, woman nor man, should be viewed as anything less than a human being.

Link to Article:

RAINN Survivor Spotlight: LGBTQ Awareness

(June 18, 2015) — It began as just a couple of drinks with a close friend. “I felt safe in our friendship because I am completely and totally gay. He knew and understood my relationship with my female partner,” remembers KiloMarie. “I trusted him completely.”

After a few hours of chatting and shooting darts at a local bar, he offered to take her back to his place to sober up before taking her back to get her truck. When they arrived at his house, he raped KiloMarie while telling her, she says, that he could “prove she was straight.”

“I did not realize until much later that these rapes were acts of hate-based violence,” she says.

KiloMarie, who had worked in violence prevention for several years before her assault, has since channeled her experience as a survivor into further education and advocacy work. In 2014, she founded a nonprofit called Unspoken Voices, which aims to give a voice to survivors while also encouraging everyone to become active bystanders. “We, as individuals and community members, have the ability to say that violence is not okay. We will not accept violence as the norm,” she says.

“LGBTQ individuals are, by far, at the most risk for sexual and physical assault,” says KiloMarie. She notes that survivors who are not out may feel uncomfortable seeking help. In response to these issues, Unspoken Voices is currently working to increase awareness and education about sexual assault against those who identify as LGBTQ.

Despite how challenging it can seem to battle large-scale violence, KiloMarie maintains that the most rewarding part of her work is when she can make even a small difference. She says, “Even if it is only in my little corner of the world, one person affected positively by the work that I do is immeasurable and will, in turn, affect another and another.”

KiloMarie says that her true healing did not start until she began using her own experience to help others. For others who may be struggling with a sexual assault, she wants them to “remember that they are human.” She adds, “We cannot expect ourselves to be perfect, to always be strong, to be invincible. It is normal and it is okay to feel sadness, despair, and hurt from an experience such as sexual assault. We need to treat ourselves with kindness, support, patience, and above all, love.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and, y en español: Graphic

The Ultimate Cost of Trafficking

Human Trafficking Grave

Human trafficking is among the top problems facing the modern world. On May 5th, 2015, rescue works in the southern province of Thailand, Songkhla, found a mass shallow grave of 26 bodies located within an abandoned camp suspected of human trafficking. Reports say; “The 26 bodies, believed to be illegal migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, were found at a suspected human trafficking camp hidden in the deep jungle…” (Human trafficking camp Paragraph 2). The reason for the camp being abandoned is suggested the camp was tipped off about incoming authorities. With the camp now believed to have moved, the Thai authorities are now underway to search the mountain ranges for the camp.

It is said that thousands upon thousands of people, primarily children between the ages of 10-14, are moved, sold, and bought in this organization. Thailand is among the top places where people are moved to and from here. So why is something like this not grabbing the attention of many more than it does? It comes down to people not understanding or knowing or even not believing it actually exists. The truth of the matter is this: Human Trafficking is a real global problem that people must know about. Through this epidemic, families are being torn apart, young women and men are sexually exploited to the highest bidder, and with all of this, people still don’t know how big of problem this actually is. We must bring awareness to the forefront and stop the decimation of these people and their families.