RAINN Survivor Spotlight
by KiloMarie Granda
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 online.rainn.org, y en español: rainn.org/es.