There are many tests and trials of life, but how one chooses to respond can make him/her a victor or a victim. Everyone has a story of situations they have been through that make them who they are today.
Randy Pausch, a former professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University articulated a profound concept during his last lecture in 2007.
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand,” he said during his last speech that gave him international fame just months after learning he was dying from pancreatic cancer.
Reinhardt student Je’Ryan Jackson, known as J Jackson by his peers, is recreating the cards he was dealt and turning his pain into help for others.
Je’Ryan is an assault and rape survivor. When he was 5 or 6 years old, he was raped. However, he did not let that get him down and he did not want to remain a victim. He healed from that situation and used it to help and inspire others.
“I knew how to take my pain and turn it into power, and my power into healing,” said Jackson.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), 3 percent of men in America have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. The National Crime Victimization Survey asked 40,000 households about rape and assault and 38 percent of the incidents were against men.
“Men and women have roughly the same experience,” Lara Stemple, Health and Human Rights Project Worker (UCLA), said.
A 2014 article by Slate Magazine, which reported on a 2013 National Crime Victimization Survey and subsequent research papers about men being victims of sexual assault, said the societal perception of rape is that women are the victims at the hands of men. This plays a part in why a large portion of these incidents are not reported because men could be ridiculed and their stories not believed due to gender roles/norms.
“Although studying male sexual assault is an important issue, it has been overlooked, dismissed and ignored. More recently there has been a focus on the existence of rape myths related to male rape victims which include (a) men cannot be raped , (b) ‘real men’ can defend themselves against rape and (c) only gay men are victims / and or perpetrators of rape,” Jessica Turchik and Katie Edwards, authors of Myths about Male Rape wrote.
Society is not aware of these issues and, because of that, the cycle of abuse continues. There is a “high degree of depression and dysfunction among the male victims of sexual abuse,” Cindy and David Johnson, authors of the book Sex Roles, wrote.
That ended up being the truth for Je’Ryan who, after he was raped, went through a deep depression and had bouts of suicidal thoughts. In school, he was bullied and did not have many friends until the age of 16 when his life changed forever.
At 16, he found his purpose. That purpose is to tell his story and help other survivors. At 17, he found his self-worth through God and forgave his rapist.
Je’Ryan started raising awareness about men being raped by telling his story on Facebook and Twitter, and he is an avid supporter of men in society standing up, speaking out and stopping rape.
The victim-turned-victor also started an organization called The Healing of Je’Ryan for the survivors of rape, accidents, death and people suffering from suicidal thoughts.
“I can be a lethal weapon of change in the world,” Je’Ryan said.
He overcame the adversity of people not believing his story and doubting his dreams to help survivors.
“I overcame with God and knowing my self-worth,” Je’Ryan said. “Our voice needs to be heard.”
Today, Je’Ryan travels to schools to tell his story. He wants to be a motivational speaker and has plans for writing a book and speaking to important leaders. This year, he has set a goal to speak to five colleges and two high schools. He has also received and accepted an offer to speak at Emory University.
Je’Ryan is also a member of C.A.R.E, the organization that helps assault victims at Reinhardt. His story has paved the way for the healing of so many victims that he has come in contact with. It is not about the cards you are dealt but how you play the hand.
“I shine in the light where others can’t speak, helping rape survivors come out of the darkness and into the light,” Je’Ryan said.
Written By: Deborah Dahn. Photo By: Marvin Monroe