Just like many, my #metoo story is long and complicated, and left me feeling shamed and helpless. It took me several years to get the kind of emotional help that I needed. My mental state perpetuated more abuse from men until I reached my tipping point. I couldn’t handle being treated like a toy anymore. It was then that I wrote my first illustrated novel, and launched The Love Necklace Campaign, so that any time a Love Necklace is purchased, one is donated to a woman healing from abuse, at a women’s shelter.
When I first designed the Love Necklace, it was a gift to myself. I wanted to feel loved so badly. I could only image what it would have felt like if, during one of my therapy sessions, my therapist told me out of nowhere, that she had a gift for me.
I picture myself in the black leather easy chair that I used to curl up in during my sessions, looking at my therapist from across the room, often with tear filled eyes. I imagine her unveiling a small envelope with a golden Love Necklace and a handwritten note:
You're not alone on this journey. You always have God by your side. You are so strong and I care about you so much. You're in my thoughts as you continue to move forward.
I imagine clasping the gold chain around my neck and running my fingers along the four letters that spell the word L-O-V-E, and more tears, this time of joy, welling up in my eyes, as a smile forms across my face.
You see, that night that I was assaulted, not only was my decision to make a choice about what happens to my body taken away from me, so was the understanding that my body mattered... that my heart mattered. He took my confidence. He took my sense of value. It took a long time to reconnect with my self worth. It was easier to fall into the perpetual motion of letting others do what they wanted with me, against my comfort or desire, because that is the story that I kept being told, by myself, and by countless men. Rebuilding confidence is a lonely journey. You cannot solely rely on others to find it. It has to come from within.
So, to know that there is someone out there who is saying that I have value, to know that there is someone who cares enough to gift me with a message of hope that I can wear near my heart every day, well, If I received a Love Necklace, I would have thought that God sent me an angel.
I would wear it with so much confidence and if a man tried to take advantage of me, I would run my fingers along the four letters that spell L-O-V-E and know that I don't need that man to validate me, I have God's love guiding me back into the light, and when I'm ready to share myself with someone else, it will be my decision, based on my needs and desires. It will not be clouded by fear of loneliness, or for the need of validation... because I know that I'm not alone. I know that I am loved.
When I imagine how The Love Necklace would make me feel if I received one, I gain a stronger understanding of why I cannot give up on this.