Judith Heard. Founder, DAYONE

There are stories hidden in the corners of our hearts that are so deep they cause the soul to cringe. They are the stories we always find hard to tell, because they invoke painful memories or uncover dark and forgotten pasts. More commonly, we don’t tell them because we rarely find that friend who gives an ear we can trust. Mine is such a story.Whereas adolescence should be a time to look back at fondly, mine was otherwise. I was a young girl, only 15 years old when a close relative defiled me and denied me the pleasure of a normal mature life when I grew up.

It happened the night before my final school examinations, so my mind was tormented as I sat for my exams.Two years later, as a 17 year old I found myself by the side of the road, held at gunpoint by two soldiers who took turns raping me. While they were enjoying using my body, they were in reality deeply scarring my already broken soul further. My journey to womanhood and my big girl dreams were hurt by nightmares of what had happened to me in my earlier years.

Fortunately, I had a loving and caring grandmother who I felt I could share this secret that was destroying me from within. The more I talked with her, the more I became aware of the things I could do if I could regain my confidence and recognize my own self worth. All I needed from day one was a safe place where I could share my story. My now deceased grandmother took the time to listen to me and helped me understand that everything could be okay. She provided the moral and rehabilitative support and understanding that I desperately needed to reaffirm my worth, so I could pick myself up and move forward with my dreams.

Because of her, I have a new story to tell. I present to you a new beginning, a new me simply because I had someone who would listen and who I could trust. Today, I am Judith Heard, a world renowned model who has graced some of the most famous runways. Both stories are mine, but because I had my Day One person in my grandmother, my positive story resounds more than my darker one.

I offer to be that trustworthy, listening ear to other women and young girls out there with a similar story. It is why we have formed a non -profit organization called DayOne Global that will listen, support and help rehabilitate rape and sexual assault survivors, and ultimately hoping to create the awareness needed to stamp out this crime. We believe in a culture of honesty, and therefore employ an open door policy where victims can come and freely communicate their stories and begin the process of healing.

We offer to stand with those subjected to and harmed by any form of sexual assault, begin their recovery so they won’t be without someone to look to for support. We will be here for you from the start, from Day One, to the very end.

Judith Heard