By Julia Tortorello-Allen
As a teenager, I lived through multiple violent sexual assaults. Afterwards, there was a long period of time where I was unable to cope with the trauma and grief. Exploring my emotions, my needs, and letting others in was an impossibility. Over time, I sought help from my parents and realized that sharing my story was immensely important for my healing. My mother and I looked for what to do next, and quickly realized that there were virtually no resources or information geared towards young people. Websites we found were primarily geared towards adults, or the diction was complex with definitions and explanations of laws that were too difficult for a typical teenager to understand. I was lost, confused and needed help that was non-existent. Being a young survivor is a lonely experience, and the lack of accessible resources made it more so.
This frustration led me to establish Survivors to Superheroes (S2S), an organization in the process of establishing nonprofit status that supports young survivors and their loved ones. Our mission is to empower those who’ve suffered from sexual violence by providing original educational resources and content about sexual violence, and platforms in which survivors can share their stories so that they can move away from being victims and towards being survivors. This transformation can be overwhelming and challenging; however, becoming a survivor instead of a victim is an important part of recovery. Reclaiming your power, story, and voice allows you to continue on with your life so that you’re not forever stuck in a moment of violence.
S2S started out as a small team, just my mother, me, and two of my best friends. We worked hard and built the foundation on which the whole organization now sits. Over time, we added more people to the team and expanded across the United States and Canada. Now, I am honored to say that I am the president of Survivors to Superheroes, working with over 20 other people on the fight against sexual violence! There are many projects that we are working on building and running, including a fellowship program for high schoolers, the writing and publishing of original articles and web content, and creating workshops for college students about consent, sexual violence, and recovery after trauma.
We also have a fully functioning team working towards launching our first edition of Songs of Survival, a mission driven lit journal, accepting submissions primarily from survivors and their loved ones to provide a safe space to share work that in some way has to do with survival (whatever that means to them). I want others to feel the same strength and empowerment that I felt which comes from sharing stories through writing, because everyone deserves to have their stories and voices heard. If you think that Survivors to Superheroes might be a safe and good place for you to share your story, please consider submitting to Songs of Survival.