Open conversation and building community can be powerful tools in healing after trauma.
Amy Quichiz is a writer and activist from New York. Her work revolves around gender and sexual violence, as well as Latinx issues. She’s been visiting college campuses across the country to talk to students about overcoming sexual assault.
WCBU talked with Quichiz after a recent event at Bradley University hosted by Sigma Lambda Gamma and Bradley's Department of Women's and Gender Studies.
Dana Vollmer: You talked about the difference in language between identifying as a survivor and someone who is surviving. Can you explain?
Amy Quichiz: I think that survivor is obviously what happened to me, but surviving is the aftermath. Surviving really encapsulates what happened to me and how I coped with it — and even to now. When I tell my story, I still get emotional. I still feel it, maybe a little less because of the way that I'm telling it, but I'm still surviving through that process. It's never ending.
I really want people to know that language because I feel like once people call themselves survivor, they think: that's it, right? That's the end game. But there’s things that happen to you after that intense thing has happened to you.
DV: One of the things that we heard in your story — and also in what a lot of other folks in the audience shared — was that trauma can sometimes be generational. Can you talk a little bit about generational trauma and how it plays into the healing process?
AQ: When I told my story to my mom, she cried. She said that she wanted to protect me as a kid. And that's why she didn't she didn't tell me what happened, exactly. Then she started telling me about her abuses as a kid and her abuses as an adult, and how she wanted me to not go through that, therefore not talking about it. But we had a whole conversation about: “No, this needs to be talked about.” And through that she finally understood like, “Oh my god, the way that I can protect my daughter is talking about these topics.
So I think that generational trauma can happen because we don't talk about it because we feel too shameful about what happens. In order to move away from that we have to accept what happened and put pain into action and talk about it with your family.
DV: Another piece of it that you also touched on is that there's some cultural differences in the way that people process trauma just because of what they grow up hearing. Can you expand on that a little bit?
AQ: I think in my family, because I come from a Latinx home, we don't talk about depression and anxiety and just overall trauma. And that's common because we don't believe in depression or anxiety, or we don't believe in therapy, and we don't believe in these things that can help us such as medication ... Sometimes in Latinx homes, the fact that you have to be at your worst for them to believe you about depression or anxiety or your story can [make you] feel like you're alone. But having these conversations, not only with your family, but with community in general, can really validate what you're going through.
DV: What are some of your DIY or low-resource ways — if you're someone that maybe doesn't have access to counseling — to work to start healing that trauma?
AQ: I would say definitely writing — documenting your pain, so you can read it to yourself and feel validated that you feel this way. Sometimes, when we talk we say “I think this happened, I think this, I think that.” But when you write it on paper, it's like “No, this actually happened. No more thinking.”
Taking action and documenting, either by writing, doing voice notes to hear your pain. Just telling somebody and hopefully that somebody will be like, “This is not normal.” Finding ways that you can validate yourself, whether that's through art, whether that's through anger, or whether that's through writing or poetry.
Amy Quichiz is Syracuse University graduate holding a Bachelor's Degree in Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Sociology. She is recognized for bringing awareness to the Latinx community by fighting against sexual assault, gender violence, gender and sexual inequality, queer discrimination, and racial justice issues. She is the co-founder of Veggie Mijas, a plant-based PoC collective that dedicates itself to environmental justice. She is currently an intern for Planned Parenthood under Public Advocacy Affairs, as well as a Representative for Students Advocating Sexual Safety and Empowerment. She is also a Content Writer for Supadaily Latina.
People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in the Peoria area. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.