Ter-rae Charleston - Founder
The day my life changed was on March 15, 2005.
At the age of 11, Ter-rae became a sexual assault victim. Between the ages of 11 through 13, she was repeatedly fondled and abused by her father during weekend visits at his house. For three years, she held this awful secret and said nothing but to her best friend.
One day while in school, she read an article in the Seventeen Magazine about a young woman who was abused by her brother and after she reported it, it helped her to become a survivor. This article gave her the courage to make a phone call to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), and that one phone call forever changed her life.
Through the help of RAINN, her phone call was traced and the proper police authorities were sent to her school. With Ter-rae's help, the police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office garnered a telephone confession from her father. This conversation led to his arrest and conviction. Which he ended up serving time in prison.
Today, many years later and after many years of counseling, Ter-rae is no longer a victim, but a Survivor! Her journey from a victim to becoming a survivor began in April of 2006, when she was highlighted in the "RAINN" Monthly Newsletter. The feature article entitled "Thirteen Year Old Girl Put's Father Behind Bars" chronicled her abuse, and her courage to come forward.
In August 2006, Seventeen Magazine wrote an article entitled "Molested By Her Dad" through this art therapy project with the magazine, it helped her realize that this was not her fault and it's okay to tell. During her therapy - We came up with a PSA "YOU ARE NOT ALONE!" to let other victims know that they are not alone and by telling is the first step in their healing process.
Since that time, Ter-rae has been invited to speak at numerous local organizations and youth groups about being a young survivor of sexual assault. Her personal message "You Are Not Alone" is a message of strength and triumph. She uses this tragedy as source of inspiration and lives by her motto "Just Because I'm Young, Doesn't Mean I Can't Survive".
With the help of her mom, Traci Lee, together they have created Young Survivors Foundation (Y.S.F.) Y.S.F is dedicated to empowering victims to not keep their sexual assault a secret and begins their journey to healing. Y.S.F. represents more than just fighting for a good cause, it offers us the opportunity to raise awareness about sexual assault and make a difference in the lives of sexual victims. The ultimate goal of the foundation is to open comprehensive outreach and treatment centers nationwide. "The Building of Hope" will be dedicated to providing services to sexual assault victims and their families.
She believes that reaching out for help is the first step toward healing. By all of us working together, we can help the public understand the full impact of sexual assault. By sharing her story, Ter-rae will let everyone know that you can survive and healing is possible.