Nakemiah Williams wears one of the shirts she made to raise awareness about sexual assault.
By Alyssa Baligad
Ka La staff writer
Nakemiah “Kiki” Williams, a recently retired U.S. Army soldier and now a student at Honolulu Community College, says “silence kills.” That’s why she hopes telling the story of a sexual assault she suffered will help not only herself but others, too.
Williams, originally from Newark,
N.J., was sexually assaulted in Korea while serving in the military back in 2013. After spending time feeling alone in her situation, she started thinking about what she could do about it. That’s when she decided to rise up and become a voice for other survivors who might also feel alone and ashamed of assaults they suffered. She’s starting a campaign with her own funds to help raise awareness about the problem that is receiving widespread attention on college campuses all across the country.
For instance, the U.S. Justice Department reports that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their college careers, and according to the federal Department of Education, 3,300 forcible sex ofenses were reported on campuses across the U.S. in 2011.
Being a self-taught photographer, Williams conducted a photo shoot in her house with other victims to help capture the emotions of being assaulted. She’s using the photos to help promote her project, posting the photos on her social media networks and printing them out on shirts for others to wear.
”I’m doing this project to raise awareness about sexual assault,” she explains. “It’s been a big issue. I just retired from the military and being a survivor myself (from sexual assault) I wanted to be able to help other people tell their story because I don’t feel that other people take it very seriously or as an awareness, so it’s coming together and letting other people/survivors know that they’re not alone dealing with this situation in their life. ”
By going public with her photographs , Williams hopes to help give others the opportunity to know they are not alone in their situation and to let them know that they can be heard. One of her goals is to keep the campaign going year after year and gain donations so she can eventually expand it to a non-profit organization after she finds a fitting name to call it.
After getting out of the military, Williams said that for a long time she couldn’t find an outlet for the emotions and struggles within herself.
Then the artist within sprouted. She fell in love with spray painting, but later felt it wasn’t enough and something that only helped for a moment in her mind.
During November 2014 Williams got interested in photography, and the artist within went from a sprout to a blossom. She started her own photography website called www.kikisfreestylephotography.com this past January. She says that it started to help her express herself further, and after experimenting with it for a little bit, she fell in love with black and white photography, which can capture the soul and raw emotions she’s experiencing and targeting.
After this campaign, Williams is aiming to start another project this upcoming July, and she wants to call it “Emotions”, because the photography is going to be built off of everyone’s emotions expressing what they’re going through or have gone through in life.
“I want people to know that you’re not alone in your situation and with expressing yourself, don’t be scared to let yourself feel emotion, to be able to tell your story and to help others tell theirs,” Williams said. “So it’s all of us coming to together, survivors coming together and being able to tell their stories.”
If you would like to help towards Williams cause, here is a link to her other website where you can purchase a few of her shirts she now has on sell –http://kikisfreestyle.spreadshirt.com/customize/noCache/1
April is also child abuse prevention awareness month!
This recent March 29-April 14, the state capitol was flooded by over 5,000 pinwheels put in the ground by volunteers to represent children who are abused throughout the state and as an icon to help prevent it. This was the state’s 7th annual Pinwheels for Prevention Planting and was sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii.
(All photos taken by HCC student Alyssa Baligad)