Jai is a best-selling author, blogger, and survivor. Her courage shines through everything she writes on her site, Matters of My Heart. Matters of My Heart stemmed from her Memoir, It Is Forbidden: The Untold Story of Child Rape Survival, and is a platform for the hurt to heal. Touching hearts everywhere she goes, Jai is the epitome of bravery. Get the scoop on Jai and Matters of My Heart in our Q&A together:
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a survivor of childhood physical and sexual abuse. I am also a survivor of emotional and spiritual abuse that occurred during my young adult years. I was raped in high school. I’ve been homeless. I’ve attempted suicide three times. I’ve been married and divorced. I am a single mother to a child diagnosed with a mental illness. Yet, I also have a dual graduate degree in Business Management, I am a co-host to a radio show focusing on dv/sa and emotional healing. I am a best selling author, written 2 books, and co-authored 3 anthologies (one of which is my own family). I’ve traveled the world on research projects on the worst forms of child labor and trafficking. And now I focus on victim advocacy. I work part-time for RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) on their national sexual assault hotline providing crisis intervention to survivors and their families.
How did you come up with the idea of Matters of My Heart?
It was a passion of mine that stemmed from my own emotional healing. It started out as a blog of just writing what the things that were on my heart, that no one really knew because I kept it all inside (get it? matters of MY heart). It was therapeutic for me. But the response became overwhelming of how many people felt the same as I had been feeling for years. So I decided to create a program, put myself through it first, that will be the voice of that inner child wanting to be free from the pain of holding on to the past. All things heart-related (at first).
Can you tell our readers a little about Matters of My Heart & what the central message is?
It’s an emotional support program providing coaching/mentoring programs and services to adult survivors of childhood domestic and sexual abuse. We guide our clients through the transition of hurt and brokenness to emotional healing and fitness. We deal with elements affecting the mind, body and soul – the total makeup of a person.
How did you get the courage to share your past with the world?
I was just tired of being completely miserable inside and no one knew I was holding on to these dark secrets. It was torture, but it also affected how I behaved in relationships. I wanted a change and so I, again, began to journal about my feelings. Then one day, I had the urgency to release it in a self-published book. My goal was to just help one person.
Were you scared of what people’s reaction would be?
No. I was only afraid of how my family would respond since I was telling our family secrets. Fortunately, they stood behind me and supported me along the way.
What do you hope people gain from Matters of My Heart?
The strength and courage to tell their story, release it and be free from the pain of it. Then truly living life on purpose, and with purpose.
What has changed your life the most from sharing your story and founding Matters of My Heart?
The list is way too long. I had a support system from day one (my ex-husband and best friend); my therapist; and finally, my mother and sisters who are now telling their truth. I am surrounded by people who believe in the message and want others to be healed as well.
What is one piece of advice you would give to women who are trying to get the courage to share their story?
Don’t try to do it alone. There is help out there. Find someone you really trust that will walk with you during your emotional healing journey. It will be hard, but with the right support system in place, you will be able to do it! Don’t give up. There is greatness in you, but lean on your support system until you can stand on your own and believe in yourself.
What is one thing you wish people knew about rape and victims of rape?
It happens more than is reported. Society use rape culture and victim shaming as a tool to keep victims quiet. And if you are kept quiet, you suffer in silence. Rape is a crime and should be reported. But it doesn’t stop there. The effects of rape is the most damaging. Even if you don’t report, please reach out for help. Don’t suffer alone in silence.
What do you feel that’s often misconstrued about rape victims?
That something they must’ve done to encourage or provoke the rape, otherwise known as victim blaming.
How do you think Matters of My Heart is empowering for women?
It’s teaching women how to use their voice. How to speak their truth and no longer be ashamed of what happened. And finally, it gives them permission to let go of the pain (that’s what empowerment means – to give authority or permission to do something).
What is one activity you do often that empowers you?
What is a quote you live by everyday?
My past does not define me, it refines me.
See the bravery and empowerment for yourself @ Matters of My Heart