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From the ages of six to 10, Lakia Shavon Lightner was sexually violated by her uncle. SABRE had the opportunity to interview Lakia in March of 2015. Now 35 years old, Lakia has been volunteering with the RAINN Speakers Bureau since 2014.
SABRE: Was this a one-time assault or did this occur over any length of time?
LL: From the ages 6 till 10 the sexual assault started and ended.
SABRE: Was this someone that you knew or was this a stranger?
LL: My uncle, Clifford O. Lightner.
SABRE: Was this something that you felt like you couldn’t talk about at all? Or were you feeling like you wanted to seek help right away?
LL: At age 6 I was clueless as to what to call it. However, at age 10 while watching the Oprah Winfrey Show, I listened to kids the same age express what I had dealt with since age six. These kids gave me the courage and knowledge to inform my mother. Yes, after I informed my mother immediately she contacted a doctor who specialized in sexual assault victims and survivors.
SABRE: If you had the chance to confront your uncle, what would you say to him and why? What do you want a person who hurts someone else to know about their actions?
LL: If I had a chance to confront my uncle, my exact words would be,”Even though you raped me during my childhood for four years, you served the same amount of time of the sexual assault crime." I think justice was served in my case. I want people who hurt others to be charged for their actions.
SABRE: What can the rest of us do to make help more accessible or to make people feel safer to come forward and ask for help? What do you think needs to change to make that happen?
LL: I think it starts with believing the sexual assault victim and survivor. Next, seek the proper professional help for the victim and survivor. A victim and survivor of sexual assault should feel comfortable while telling their experience. And they should not feel ashamed because by far it is not their fault this occurred.
SABRE: How has this affected you in your life post-assault? Is there anything that you used to do that you don’t do anymore? Or is there something you didn’t do pre-assault that you make a point to do now?
LL: This has affected my dating life, which started at age 24, and the way I experience sex too. I told my two partners what occurred during my childhood. During our sexual encounters it was very uncomfortable.
SABRE: What do you think is the biggest misconception about sexual assault and violence right now?
LL: I think the misconception about sexual assault is the fact others feel like a person makes it up. Until it occurs in their lives and they began to understand what a sexual assault victim and survivor has experienced.
SABRE: What advice do you have for someone who was recently victimized? What do you wish someone would have told you when this happened?
LL: My advice for someone who has recently been victimized is to seek professional assistance. Also join organizations that’s mission is to cater to the needs of sexual assault victims and survivors. During my experience my mother and doctor were by my side since the day I informed them of the sexual assault.
SABRE: What are some resources that helped you, and what are some that you want to make sure other people know about?
LL: My mother, doctor, attorneys, judiciary system, RAINN, Jane Doe No More memberships and speaker for their bureaus.