WHAT’S SHE WILL SURVIVE’S MISSION?
she will survive is a non-profit entity which advocates for The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. she will survive is based in the United Kingdom and has two primary functions:
- to provide support resources to every woman or girl impacted by sexual abuse or violence in every country in the world
- to spread awareness and research-backed educational materials to reduce harmful behaviours and cultural norms which encourage gender based violence
Current projects include:
- working with Ntoyie (NCBO) to fundraise, provide and distribute sanitary products and educational materials to girls in Kajiado County, Kenya and surrounding areas
- providing sexual health and child safety education, guidance and mentorship to parents in India (and beyond!)
- other gender equality advocacy projects
WHAT’S SHE WILL SURVIVE’S VISION?
A world with true gender equality and without gender based violence
A NOTE FROM THE FOUNDER
Hi, I’m Jitna 👋
I’m an INTJ, proud mummy of the two funniest girls in the world, and wife to (arguably) Sweden’s finest export.
I’m also a survivor, travel addict, book lover, feminist, nomad, linguaphile, serial sock mismatcher, black sheep, advocate for women and girls, and challenger of the status quo.
I’m passionate about empowering survivors, challenging and changing gender inequality, and genuinely want to make a difference (no matter how small).
My heart/background/ethnicity/history/roots belong to 🇬🇧🇮🇳🇪🇸🇸🇪🇺🇸🇰🇪🇹🇿 and I’m based in vibrant, sunnier-than-you-think, London.
I’ve spent over a year and a half compiling these resources (during naptimes/evenings/after work) because I truly believe it’s important that no one who is a victim of sexual abuse or violence should have to deal with their trauma alone. Too many cultures in the world limit a woman’s voice, and while it’s always important for all genders to speak out, it’s especially important for victims of sexual abuse or violence to feel empowered to find their voices. This is a critical step in the road to recovery. Too many women and girls feel like they have no support after trauma and I intend to change that with she will survive. This is the first step.
My focus is primarily on empowering and supporting women and girls (based on what I felt was missing throughout my own personal journey of survival), but this is a place where anyone and everyone can come to find help.
The second step is spreading awareness with the intent to eradicate harmful behaviours, social stigmas and cultural norms which contribute to gender inequality and encourage violence or abuse against women or girls.
WHY DID I CREATE THIS SITE?
I was groomed and raped as a child. There, I said it.
Even now, 2 decades later, it’s sometimes difficult to admit or acknowledge that this awful thing that happened to me. Why don’t survivors speak out? Why don’t we report it? Why don’t we shout it at the top of our lungs? Because of the shame. The guilt. The societal and cultural pressures placed on women and girls.
I was lucky to be raised by encouraging parents who didn’t see my gender as a limitation , but as most girls being raised in ethnically Indian households, there were certain things (think: the awkward conversations) we didn’t talk about because no one talks about them. In turn, the community and culture had certain expectations – the unspoken things that girls shouldn’t do or say, rules about how girls should behave, who girls should and shouldn’t interact with, and so on. There are even limitations placed on girls who are menstruating or those who have miscarried – baseless discriminatory stigmas that have no merit but are enforced because ‘that’s what everyone does’ and few seem to dare to try and challenge the status quo – conformity reigns supreme. Despite being empowered by my parents at home, I was confused, to say the least.
So when I was groomed (by someone in the local Indian community), repeatedly abused and eventually raped, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t tell anyone, and I didn’t for a very long time. I could have. But I didn’t. I was ashamed and didn’t know how to talk about what happened to me without feeling guilty or dirty. I was too embarrassed to tell my parents, my friends. I wasn’t comfortable speaking about what had happened to me, because things like my body, sexuality and ‘relationships’ or even just boys were things we didn’t really talk about. Even though they would have believed me and supported me, I was ashamed of what was done to me, angry with myself for ‘allowing it to happen’ (despite me clearly having no control or say in the matter), and the guilt of having done something which was never talked about; something that is sacred and must only be done after marriage and with one person. I barely even understood what had been taken from me, but I felt like dirty, damaged goods.
The first ‘person’ (well, mammal) I told? My cat. The shame stuck with me like a bad haircut for many many years. Compound that with growing up in a reasonably strict collective culture, where girls are not as highly revered as boys, where sex isn’t a topic to be discussed, where women are considered impure or dirty for menstruating and bodily changes aren’t a topic for discussion, and that shame magnifies.
I ended up becoming pretty distant. Always fine on the outside, broken on the inside. Never getting too close. I acted out, had trust issues, and really struggled with depression and anxiety. It took me years to even accept what had happened, and many more years to start my healing process. Even some of my closest friends are/were surprised when they find out what happened to me. “I never would have thought…”.
Keeping your trauma inside is isolating, harmful, and is basically a ticking time-bomb which leads to a massive implosion (or explosion). It’s detrimental to your health. Being abused or violated is bad enough. No one should have to conquer that mountain alone.
Fast forward to now and I have become a very different person to the young naïve girl I once was. That day changed everything. The road to recovery has been tough, but I have come a long way. Now I want to turn my pain into a force for change and help other people. Today, I am happy, healthy, and have all the love and support in the world from my darling little family and friends. I have my very own daughters, who are more precious to me than anything or anyone in the entire universe. They are the light of my life, and yet I am terrified to raise these two tiny people because the world has become a scary place, particularly for girls and women. I plan to tell my girls everything, the good and the bad, even the things I’m still not comfortable talking about. It’s not about my comfort. It’s about their safety.
I created this site because I want my daughters and every other girl and woman in the world to know that they are not alone. This repository of support resources for those impacted by sexual violence or abuse is my gift to every girl who feels like she wants to speak out but she doesn’t know how or to whom she can turn.
This site is step one. Step two is trying to make an impactful change so that no one ever feels like they can’t speak out, and to get people to start having awkward conversations, so that maybe less people will grow up to be abusers and more will grow up believing in treating others with respect so we can finally obtain true gender equality for everyone.
Support is out there, and even if you aren’t comfortable telling someone you know, there is always help and support available wherever you are. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
If you read this far, thank you ❤️