op-ed: an empowered survivor’s notes (and song)
July 17, 2019
I had that feeling again. That steady voice inside. The one I ignored once before, and had landed myself in the victim’s position. Not again. It was the final red flag and I knew I needed to get out of this relationship before his lava-hot explosions turned physical. It was becoming harder to resist being sucked into the nonsense, and I would soon find myself poppin’ off. Not me. I called myself a survivor already. I connected to my inner source, met higher consciousness, and I knew by then, that I was a Queen. I remembered the time I fought for my life and won, and the levels of abuse and manipulation that I survived. I couldn’t help but look back to see how strong and capable I’d become. I was powerful, and this guy didn’t stand a chance.
I didn’t even cry. For a moment, it felt like I was supposed to, yet there wasn’t a need to hold back tears. An out-weighing confidence and sense of bad-assery took over me on all conscious levels. I dipped on the relationship before he had the chance to harm me. I was in control of my own destiny, and aware of my own power to create it. This feeling returned me to my own sense of self-value, and I understood that it measured sincere happiness, unbridled freedom, and the lack of the presence of fear.
“Street Light” was birthed at that moment of remembering myself. It came from the second I connected to my true nature again. Its obvious, I’m human, sometimes this means I choose to accept less than what I know I’m worth. I’m not sure why people do this, but instead of focusing on the victimization of my past experience, I chose to focus on how that experience brought out the empowered survivor and how it developed my sixth sense. I saw my increase and it gave me strength to walk away from another brutal interaction. Easily. I was charged with confidence, and a desire to share that energy with other women.
Though I wanted to record a track that represented the celebratory aspects of my inner strength, I knew through personal history that for many, it’s not that easy. Sometimes people simply don’t realize their worth. Yet. Sometimes, it’s too dangerous, and life is in the balance. If anybody in the world understands, it’s me.
According to the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) in America, one in three women and one in four men experience some form of physical violence by someone they are romantically involved with. I wanted to dig deeper to find out what services were available for escape assistance victims. I came across the non profit organization DVIS (Domestic Violence Intervention Services) in Tulsa. I read about them and requested a meeting with representatives to talk about how I could help promote their organization through my music. They graciously met with us to hear the track, and to talk about how we could work together. As I learned more about DVIS and what they provide the community, I was astonished by their programs — from housing, to assistance with children, to prevention education for teens. I immediately went in working towards completing the single through crowdfunding, and committed to donating 10% towards DVIS, to assist them in their community work. Merch tables at my live performances come ready with DVIS info for anyone hearing the message who may need help. My goal has been to celebrate survivors, empower to leave those experiencing abuse, and shine a spotlight on the celebration of inner strength and community support. Survival is celebration.
Using my music to work with DVIS excites me. I have a desire to connect with more programs across the country and bring awareness to an issue many shy away from talking about. It is our duty as the empowered and the capable to assist in helping others break free. To dance and celebrate together, to share our parallel stories, to no longer live in fear but in wisdom…together. The idea is to arrive at the level that we are viewing ourselves as Universe does: pure light, energy and love. This is our celebration. This is our power. My personal mission is to use my music to inject enough confidence into people, that they simply stop putting up with that shit.
Get home before the street light comes on. It’s safe here.
Branjae is a singer of soul, funk and R&B rooted in the city of Tulsa, OK, who’s earned awards from Absolute Best of Tulsa, five nominations for the We Are Tulsa Music Awards, and recently gained recognition from Oklahoma Magazine as one of Oklahoma Best of 2018. She has shared the stage with Thundercat, Fishbone and Ohio Players, among many others acts.
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