"The goal is to educate and remind people that healing isn’t earned, it’s a natural right."
My name is Patrice O’Garro, and I am behind the Instagram and Facebook account called Survivors of Color (@survivorsofcolor). I am an advocate who supports and empowers BIPOC who’ve experienced sexual violence.
SWY: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience with abuse and trauma?
PO: I am a mother, a survivor, and an advocate. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and narcissistic abuse. I was in a relationship that was emotionally draining. I was abused in every way besides physical, and at that time, I didn’t realize how traumatizing it was. I was sexually assaulted 6 years ago, while in that relationship, so it pretty much changed my life. I believe that I’m pretty transparent regarding my experiences in that relationship, which I share through my page @survivorsofcolor.
SWY: You have started an Instagram page called @survivorsofcolor - What inspired you to start this page?
PO: I started @survivorsofcolor because I needed a safe space to express myself, as well as help other survivors find resources. When I was sexually assaulted, I had no idea what resources were available, other than law enforcement. As a Black woman, I didn’t feel safe reaching out to law enforcement. I wasn’t aware of any organizations/advocates who look like me, so I wanted to become that person.
SWY: What is the overall goal of your page for fellow survivors?
PO: The overall goal is to connect with survivors who look like me and begin the conversation of healing in the BIPOC community. The goal is to educate and remind people that healing isn’t earned, it’s a natural right.
SWY: What advice would you give to another survivor who is looking for ways to heal from their trauma but does not know how?
PO: I think it’s important to acknowledge that healing isn’t linear; there’s no timeline. Practice self-care. Keeping a self-care journal can be very beneficial. I recently did an Instagram Story Takeover with @endrapeoncampus, where I shared a few ways to practice self-care (It’s saved in their highlights). Self-care can be whatever you make it. Reach out to fellow survivors. There’s a great community on both Instagram and Facebook. Also, figuring out your triggers is a huge way to help with your healing journey. We cannot change what happened to us, but we can decide how we heal from it.
SWY: You mention that healing is something that is just now being acknowledged in the BIPOC community - Why do you think this is, and what are some ways that we can normalize healing for people of all colours?
PO: I don’t think that the lack of acknowledgment is done purposely; we just weren’t reassured that we deserved it. I think it’s not being acknowledged because many of us don’t know how to heal. I find that in many BIPOC families. A great way to normalize healing is by acknowledging that healing is a natural right. Also, just starting those “uncomfortable” conversations with family/friends regarding trauma and healing from trauma.
SWY: What do you think we need to do as a society to improve the lives of BIPOC individuals who have suffered from abuse and trauma?
PO: I think the biggest thing is to provide a safe space for BIPOC survivors. Create a safe space that is judgment free and that provides reassurance.
SWY: What are some ways we can further support BIPOC people who are enduring or have endured abuse and trauma?
PO: Creating a safe space that allows them to express their emotions, as well as share their experiences. Remind us that we matter. Remind us that our feelings are valid. Remind us that we deserve to heal just like our White counterparts. Remind us that although you may never be able to relate to our struggles, you are still willing to learn from us and support us.
We want to thank Patrice for sharing her story with us as well as ways we can support BIPOC survivors. Make sure to check out her Instagram for more resources and inspirational tips for healing.
Starts With Youth would like to thank #RisingYouth, TakingITGlobal, Canada Service Corps and the Government of Canada for their generosity and support. With their help, we will continue working to address intergenerational trauma and childhood abuse, creating a positive change in our community.