Kashina Alexander-McLean is surely on the mend.
She told The Beacon that she made three suicide attempts after an episode of child sexual abuse by uncles.
Driven by that sordid experience, she has embarked on a mission to empower other victims.
McLean founded the organization called Scars That Speak Out Loud.
“My mission is to help victims see that, even though their lives may have been destroyed by someone else, they can make a decision to not allow it to kill them. I host events to draw attention to the issue, plus help victims regain their rightful place in society,” she explained.
“My goal is to provide grants to people who desire to pursue educational goals, as well as connect victims with people who can provide jobs, et cetera.”
McLean, who is seeking partners to expand her outreach beyond Kingston, said she has forgiven her abusers.
She, in recounting the ordeals, said her parents relocated to the Mammee Bay area of St. Ann when she was a child – fleeing the violence in the capital city.
She, however, would return to Kingston to visit relatives during holidays.
“Because we were poor, several people would share a bed at my grandmother’s house; this would include other cousins and grown uncles,” McLean explained.
“I was only eight years old when one uncle started to have intercourse with me. Over the course of eight years, I was forced to have intercourse with three of them – sometimes on the bed beside my grandmother.”
McLean eventually broke her silence when she turned age 15.
“I was accused of lying and being wicked. Nothing was done. During the abuse, I had physical and emotional problems – including bladder problems, anger issues and falling back in school.”
McLean also became pregnant.
“I got pregnant at 17 years, was evicted from my family home, and didn’t have anywhere to live for a while. I drank, smoked, slept around and tried to kill myself three times. My self-esteem and confidence was reduced to nothing, and I didn’t see any reason to remain alive.”
McLean told The Beacon that, over the years, her unwavering belief in God helped to change her outlook.
“I attribute where I am today to my faith, and have been able to forgive everyone – including my mother, grandmother and uncles. Some of my family members refuse to speak to me to date and still call me a liar.”
McLean, who has three children and is married, now lives in the United States.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of the West Indies School of Nursing, and intends to pursue a Master’s here in Jamaica.
McLean, a Registered Nurse, is also author of When The Silence Speaks, a book based on her life experiences.
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