Jessica Garcia and Joy Ingram
DescriptionJessica Garcia (25) interviews her friend and colleague, Joy Ingram (44), about what led her into advocacy work and the power of storytelling as a survivor of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Jessica Garcia
- Joy Ingram
Recording LocationVirtual Recording
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00:04 Thank you.
00:06 My name is Jessica Garcia. I'm 25 years old today, Tuesday, June 8th.
00:13 I'm in Staunton, Virginia, and I'm here today with my co-worker and friend. Joy, Ingram.
00:22 My name is Joy Ingram. I'm 44 years old. Today is Tuesday, June 8th, 2021 where in Staunton Virginia and I am here with my coworker Jessica Garcia and Friends.
00:38 The Joy, I'm so excited that we get to do this. I guess my first question for you.
00:50 And your family. I am. I was born but partly in Rome, Georgia, partly, and Atlanta Georgia. I have a very large Blended and extended family mother, father, stepmother stepfather step-siblings. All kinds of folks, in the family. Lots behind Uncle cousin. I have extended family here in Staunton, Virginia, godmother, and a whole host of siblings their needs his nephew all that. So I have a really, really large family.
01:33 And I guess with your family. Maybe it's not a family member, but he's had the biggest impact on your life. Absolutely. My mother. My mother was a fighter. She was a, she was a Survivor. She was like my biggest supporter, my biggest Advocate, she advocated for my life before I got here. She advocated for my life ever since I came into the world. She made sure I had everything I needed and a good deal of what I wanted as well. She was a leader. She was a protector. She was a provider. She was nurturing teacher caregiver support person playing. She looks like she's everything.
02:33 Not always easy. I can be very difficult. You know, it's a lot that we do it every day and I just want to know you know what I need to do this work cuz we know we work side-by-side everyday and I think knowing why. Yes, I think for me what let me to do this work is basically I'm a Survivor. I'm a Survivor of sexual assault and a partner. I was raped when I was 14 years old at the time. I didn't understand what had happened to me. So I didn't tell anyone. I didn't talk to anyone about it. And for a very long time. I felt alone and then about seven years after my RAID. I came across the pamphlet for a local Rape Crisis Center, in DeKalb County.
03:33 State of Georgia and I went and I feel like that agency saved my life and me doing this work is my way of giving back because I just feel like what I went through when I was going through my victimhood going from a big computer survival going through that for years, feeling like I was alone. I don't want anyone else to have to go through it like that. You know, I wish I hope I pray for a world where sexual violence and if your partner violence don't exist, but until then, I just want to do my part to make sure anyone who goes through this doesn't have to suffer through it alone.
04:17 I love that. I love that. No one should have to go through something while and do you have any memories if I get time or you got to advocate for somebody, that was like really powerful and meaningful to you?
04:40 Anything to me, isn't I guess so much? The
04:59 Other than just one particular she was a young girl. I went to the hospital to advocate for her. She was a sexual assault victim and just remember sitting in the room listening to her. Tell her story. Her story sounds, a lot like my own. And I remember, even though she was, she was young, she was, but she was, she was very young, very childlike. And I just remember hoping that she had support at home as well.
05:34 And it did come to find out. She did seem to have support at home. Her father was very supportive of her.
05:40 But it just touch me. I was really concerned about her. It was very triggering, you know, because like I said her story married mine and a lot of weight, but another thing that that touch me doing this work with there was one particular time when I felt like maybe I wasn't cut out for this work, and I was really thinking about walking away from it, cuz I remember sitting outside sitting outside the shelter Monday. Just thinking, what the hell am I doing? I don't know what I'm doing wrong. So I can't be the right person for this, you know, and I know and I came in that day and I remember speaking to a residence and she told me she said, you know, all of y'all are great people and y'all do great word. She says and everybody tried so hard. She was like, but you get it.
06:40 We get it and in that moment, I was like, okay, you don't always get to see the outcome. Did they actually leave their abuser or they say?
07:27 Your light be on here. You can come to question. Right? Right. Good therapy.
07:49 I think it's just need that your mom was your biggest advocate. He was so he was there a timer for you. Like, maybe it's cool or sweet. Yes, I do. I remember when I was in the ninth grade, Islip, school district, and all of my life. I didn't get the program. Make Straight A's accelerated program that they had classes. So when I went to this new school district, they try to put me in basic everything and my mom was just my habitat and she came up to the school system you to the school. So she told me she was like, you know, we're like one County over from the school. She was in. And her standardized test scores are still the standardized. Test scores that kids take all over the country. So yeah, this doesn't work, but she got it. I was placed in the proper classes and I only ended up doing a year of high.
08:49 Go there and then actually, skip the rest and let the college. So I was just seeing how I bet that has been challenged at the same time. It was it was it was a lot. I think it was a great opportunity. My mother recognized that in a lot of people were like, you know, she's going away to school so far from home and I'm sure my mom was concerned about sending me away. So young, but that's when I met my godmother here. And, you know, she and her whole family basically took me in and looked after me and watched out for me and things like that.
09:49 And it's also it was in going to school early. And at that particular school, that I came to understand that the sexual assault that happened to me when I was 14 was actually rape. Because as part of the freshman orientation, we have to be a play on Deck, right? And that's when I came to fully understand, you know, what happened to me. So I learned a lot of other things besides Reading Writing, listen to how many other teenagers I haven't heard that yet. We do. I reach out to the program at that college that I attended and we talked to them about the younger students, and then possibly experience sexual assault while on campus.
10:49 Well, it's before they even get to school and what, what protocols we can put in place to make sure they get the help in the services that they need a ride. Do you know, sexual assault is so prevalent, especially with younger kids and if kids don't, you know, don't know what it is. It's going on. Don't know who you're trying to. Don't know who to tell. Don't feel like they have a trusted person that they can confide in. You know, I want us to be able to help provide them with the safe spaces so they can begin healing. I love that convention.
11:46 If not, if we don't address it, the name of in our office is right, right, and it breaks my heart when we survivors, like, it's Christmas time. And it's a lot on us to
12:14 No, I think a lot of people don't even know about Advocate, right? Was there ever a time where they helped you to sometimes Advocate, Sasuke's brother? Before I got before I got here. I've done volunteer hotline work on Rape Crisis Line. So I was nowhere near as familiar with intimate partner,. I thought domestic violence was the woman with the Black Eyed Peas, busted lip. I knew nothing about the psychological abuse. I didn't know about financial abuse. I didn't know about verbal abuse, and I didn't know about those things until coming to this work. I was completely uninformed and naive about
13:14 Violence will, once I got
13:20 Once I got to do to get started, doing this work and learned.
13:25 Learn more about domestic violence. That's when I came to understand that. I had been a victim of domestic violence. You know, he never he never hit me. So I'm like, I'm not a big deal, you know, but when I look back at the same T did the patterns of manipulation. And the way he tried to control me and things like that. I realize that what he did was in fact, abusive and I remember one of the initial feelings I had about it was, I was angry. I was really angry because I was like, how did I let this happen? To me? You know, I was too smart for that happened to me. I understand that domestic violence is something that can happen to anyone, and I said it actually had a session with Claudia. And, you know, she really helped.
14:25 Help me, sort through some of the emotions that I was having behind that situation, because I was an Angry Bird after violence that. We don't even process. Usually until we talk to somebody.
14:47 It's tough. Sometimes. It really is. And I think that's the one thing about, obviously, that's the only powerful. Yeah. And you're fighting and helping the very same people going to hurt the same way as yeah, and it's it's it's it's kind of like walking into a fire sometimes and it's like I already know, you know, I'm walking in here anyway because someone's in here and someone needs help and I'm going to go in and help them and not just help them to have them put out the fire, right?
15:35 Sounds crazy. I guess this is kind of on the sidelines as he has been explained this to you in your life. Cuz you know, I actually know another try going. A lot of people that you came in touch with you throughout your life.
16:08 I think probably one of the people who has been the kindest to me. I would have to say, is my godmother because I met her. When I first came to school here, when I was 15. I met her at church. She invited me and another young woman home for dinner, and we've been family ever.
16:33 Her door was always open to us. We could always go to her house for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If we need it anyting, she always gave us what we needed. She never asked for anything in return. She took us in and treated us like we were her own children. And when I move back to Staunton and 2016, I had a home in her house. I didn't have to pay any bills again, breakfast, lunch and dinner, because she cooks all the time. She gave me, she gave me love, she gave me family. She gave me home. She fed my belly. She said, my spirit. She said my mind, she's just been great and giving and selfless, and loving and compassionate. And
17:33 You know, she's always there when I need her and she didn't have to be a total stranger, that Community. Is this some other people we work with. It's like the people, you know, when it's because she welcomes me in.
18:33 Bases for us, you know, people has given me so much in my life that, you know, I know that I can never pay it back and I can never pay pay it all back. So I tried everything I do to pay for the blessing that someone else to to someone else that a person has been to me, then I feel like I will thank you. Yeah, I see it.
19:25 Rhonda's line, how would you like to be there, then.
19:29 How would I like to be remembered already know people when they are going back on the verge of being a joy? Coming through what I've been through a lot of things? And at one point in my life. I was very bitter person, really? That, that is a great thing.
19:58 I think I want to be remembered as a person who just, I don't know. Try to spread love and joy, that's that's what I want to be remembered for someone who, you know, when I went places. I tried to build and create and not destroy, you know, I wanted to help others be happy and I'm just spread happiness, wherever I can go. I love that. I think that's the advocacy and help victims of Life to Live. Exactly. Exactly.
20:59 And then about the around my questions a little bit.
21:07 I like this one. I had your license different than what you imagined. Oh my gosh, like, any little kids like, I'm going to be a hundred engineering firm as an administrative assistant and it was miserable. I would do, you know, Sunday night to seem like I was getting sick cuz I was did not want to go to work Monday morning before I go pick up my car and cry because I did not want to go.
22:06 What I want to do, where I want to go to call my godmother one day here, and I'm on the phone until
22:17 I'm home. I'm home. And so I thought about it, you know, then take long. I was like, okay, the plan was come here. They for a few months, then get my bearings and find a job in Florida near the beach that where I want to go Florida going to beach light came up here.
22:56 Went to the African American Heritage Festival, and saw table for new directions Center walked up to the table. So, you know, I'm going to be here for a couple of months. Maybe I can ask about a job and the VIN executive director asked me what do you want to do?
23:26 I never thought about it, never given any thought whatsoever. But just off-the-cuff. I said, I want to write and I want to help people. Yeah, and so she was like, well I'ma send me your resume and we'll see. And I like I never plan on getting into this work. And again, the plan was to leave in like December. I was planning to celebrate New Years in Florida, right? I've been here for about five years. I fell in. Love with the work. I feel like I will do this work, in some form until the day, I die, you know, all through the little book store by the beach.
24:26 You know, as challenging as it can be, sometimes I feel like we do get to do what we loved in life. They do yesterday. I think that would be nice and he knows a whole new that would be all right with her. Advocacy is wow. That's like being very powerful when you came here at only 15. I'm going to college but you had to find a new home and away.
25:26 She gave me a whole home, a whole new family, because it was like, you know, and like I've never seen it before, like, the whole family. Just kind of, I guess. My next question would be what communities? Here have like made a big impact on you are in love, but I think I can meet you here. I have some people. I don't get to see my grandmother much. She's all the way in, Albuquerque, New Mexico, so don't make me some food.
26:12 Wow, because like community and connected with so many different people in so many different communities. So one Ebenezer Baptist Church has been great for me. The organization has lots of organization because of the Outreach work that I do like. So I can rise the lgbtq center DuPont Community Credit Union, but because I work there for part of the time, I see, they are my community and they are at a giving and loving community.
27:12 Community hear the people that warm, but me directions to enter is my community. Lots of lots of community. Do you call a taxi that we get to take that community? And is always an advocate in every group. I feel like there's always, I think you've been severely special out there working that you see if they need help learning how to do churches, other agencies, in the lgbtq center.
28:12 It is. Where do you see our community in 10 years? Probably Atlanta or Florida? Yeah. Those are the places that likes? I love the beach. I'm just a beach bum, Florida, like the beast in Destin Florida on my gosh. Probably one of the world's most beautiful beaches, but Atlanta is my home and I missed it at times. Don't tell anybody actually set up a podcast.
29:12 10 years from now, you know, I don't know where I'll be. I'd like to be kind of doing this sort of work the different capacity. Maybe if I could consultant different agencies doing workshops, cuz I love doing Workshop. Possibly like you said, was booked out. I would love to just have like a bookstore. I feel like I needed to find a way to combine books, Coffee and Wine, and the beach. And that would be like my life.
29:48 I know that I'm sure on time this, my last question for you.
29:57 Storytelling to me as a Survivor means.
30:03 Give me other something that they can relate to something that they can hold on to something that they can grasp almost like a teddy bear or security blanket when they need hope. When they need a reminder. Sometimes that they can do this. But even when times are hard, they can pull through it. It I wanted to be your away of them to be reminded that someone else who threw, you know, and I'm I'm no greater than them Applebee's. They can go. Screw. They got this, like, you give them back home to specially working at a shelter.
31:04 But other than that, I think so. I haven't listened to anything else that you want to think. So happy to talk about advocacy work and helping survivors. It is my passion, but I think I know. Right? But yeah, that's kind of thing that been in the works for years. And yeah. Yeah, I have no excuse.
32:05 Cool, but thank you Joy. Thank you, Jess.