Today we’d like to introduce you to Dawn L. Peek.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story?
Thank you: I am the Founder & Executive Director of My Sister’s Keepers of Atlanta, Founder & Executive Director of HerStory (Support Group for Female Victims and Survivors of Sexual Assault) Certified Empowerment Life Coach, Certified in Suicide Prevention, Motivational Speaker, Mentor and Author (book to debut in 2019)
My passion for starting My Sister’s Keepers of Atlanta was birthed out of my own experience from being molested from the ages of 3 – 17 years old. It was during those years of being assaulted, I made a vow with God that if He allowed me to survive that experience when I got older and mentally healthy, I would be a lifelong advocate for victims. My work would include rescuing them from their unsafe environments and help them heal.
I was encouraged to disclose my abuse when I was 18 years old and since then I’ve been extremely vocal telling others about my experience. It wasn’t until I started standing in my own truth, I realized, that this thing is larger than I. Quite frequently when I share my story, people cry and offer apologizes. Although I understand what they mean and appreciate the offers, I don’t want them to take accountability for someone else’s actions against me.
One thing proven to be true about sharing my story is that it gives way for others to get the courage to stand in their truths and disclose their abuse as well. It’s such a powerful experience to hear a woman who is later in life, tell me that I was the first person with whom she’s shared her secret with. I never gasp for air in shock. I simply applaud her and give her an embrace like she’s never experienced before. I make sure to affirm that woman, letting her know that she’s just opened the door allowing her full potential to be released. Many don’t understand that this is just the beginning of total healing.
It is those moments when I’ve realized that we have absolutely no place to go! There is no place for people like myself to engage in dialog with others without judgment. There is no place for us to go to seek healing and freedom from which has held us captive and stuck for so many years. Most of us are afraid to move forward in life because we haven’t been equipped with the necessary tools to become unstuck.
A great example of what I mean is: When you need to pray or commune with your creator, you go to a place of worship. When you’re sick, you go to the doctor. When you abuse alcohol, you go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). When you abuse drugs, you go to Narcotics Anonymous (NA), there’s even a place to go for families of drug abusers (Nar Anon). When you are a sex offender, you are mandated by the state to register as a sex offender for life and to remain in the house on Halloween so that you don’t re-offend.
However, when you are victimized by sexual assault (SA) there’s no place for us to go except for the dark places, over-eating, drug abuse, alcoholism, re-offending, prison, and depression just to name a few. So I decided to start a support group called HerStory. We all have a story, I have my story, you have your story, she has HerStory if we get together for dialog we can share our stories and work towards total healing. It’s a beautiful experience to see the strength in women when we are empowered to be absolutely FREE FROM OUR PASTS.
It’s very disheartening to hear the statistics saying that one in four girls are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Those numbers, in my opinion, are incomplete because they ONLY reflect the reported cases. Those of us for whatever reason did not report our cases to authorities are not included in those statistics. Most people don’t disclose their assault because far too often we are victimized several times; once, during the actual assault, secondly when we disclose the assault we are not believed, and lastly by society, we are made to feel as though we are to blame for the assault which is so far from the truth and often times causes more pain than the actual assault itself.
My work is structured around helping victims realize the following:
~ To be honest with themselves by acknowledging the assault took place
~ It was not our fault- we are not to blame for others actions
~ Talking about it breaks down each layer of the wall of protection which was constructed during and after the assault
~ Love yourself unconditionally
~ Forgiveness is critical in the healing process and helps bring total healing
~ Have the strength and will to fight to live your best life after sexual trauma
~ It’s absolutely okay to move from behind the shadows of our pasts and live our best lives
Those are the principals that I’ve lived my entire life and work so hard helping others do the same.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This road has not been easy. I’ve run into a few challenges in which I was unsure whether or not I’d be successful. I’d received several confirmations which propelled me forward. When I told my therapist that I wanted to start a support group for sexual assault victims and survivors, she thought it would be a great idea, however; warned me against doing so, saying that “it wouldn’t work” I simply said, I disagreed and asked her to explain “why not?” Her reasoning was that she’d already tried and no one showed up. She said that people didn’t show up because they are too embarrassed for someone to know their pasts. I looked at her strangely and said “I’m not embarrassed” and at the same time, we agreed that I was different.
Secondly, I was worried about where would my resources and help come from? I knew this line of passion would be a huge undertaking that I would not be able to accomplish by myself. Since then I’ve been blessed with an AMAZING Board of Directors who are just as passionate about this work as I. Chairman of the Board Ms. J’nai Butler, Treasurer: Mr. Anthony Young and Secretary: Ms. Nanette Rushing and Resource Ambassador Ms. Linda Richardson. Not only do I have a very active board but we also have a host of other supporters towing the line right along with us. Special thanks to my husband Ja-Far Peek, family, sister friends both here in Atlanta and back home in Chicago, My “GoalFriends”, My OWCM Church Family, and Financial Sponsor: Auguste Crenshaw of Created who heard about our organization, loved our mission and approached me pledging her financial support. So all the things that I was concerned about are no longer a concern because God sent me several “Gap Fillers” who are working just as hard as I am. I will forever be grateful for them all.
Lastly, where’s my platform for telling my story? I got my first invitation from the Director of South Fulton Youth Council Dr. Maya Taylor inviting me to tell my story at an event entitled “Go Get Our Girls” I shared my story with over 400 girls. It felt so organic in front of the young ladies. Since then, I’ve launched My Sister’s Keepers of Atlanta, HerStory, organized a “Walk our Teal’s Off” (raising awareness), Radio Interviews on Action Not Talk Radio with Mr. Kenwardo Moore and SRTradio with Mr. Horace McClarian.
Please tell us about My Sister’s Keepers of Atlanta.
My Sister’s Keepers of Atlanta is an organization where we are passionate advocates, raising awareness, educating and preventing sexual assault against female children and adults.
We specialize in helping female victims and survivors move from behind the shadows of their pasts, unleashing their full potential and empowering them to heal and live their best lives. Our targeted demographics are those who’ve been marginalized by society and victimized by date rape, incest, molestation, rape and sex trafficking. We believe in a continued holistic healing approach which include; support group meetings, assistance with job preparedness and life coaching.
With perpetual funding and volunteerism we can meet the following goals
Mental Health Evaluations
What sets us apart from other organizations, is that we’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. We were once victims, and now we are “Thriving Survivors” working to help heal others. We are well aware of large, well-known organizations and hotlines available but there aren’t any in my general area that also provides an intimate group setting. We have both, HerStory (support group) which meets online via Facebook (HerStory Touchedwaytoosoon Group) and in person where we meet on a monthly basis. We also we have a hotline for calls and text messaging.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
In this line of passion and I say passion because this is what I LOVE doing, so to me it’s not work, There are several qualities or characteristics a person must possess. One must have a passion to serve, especially those who are often marginalized and forgotten. This is critical when you are providing a service to those who’ve been victimized.
One must also have compassion for humankind, respect for others and their differences, be bold to take a stand against the wrongdoings of others making sure people are held accountable for their actions. You have to be willing to be the voice for the voiceless and lastly, you must be willing to live, sleep and breathe your passion. That’s when you know your work is not in vain especially when you see you are making a difference.
- Website: iammysk.org
- Phone: (404) 439-9331
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: mysisterskeepers_
- Facebook: @iammysk and @Touchedwaytoosoon