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“My mom was an alcoholic, and she abused my stepsisters and I. My stepfather also raped and abused me, starting when I was 8 years old. And I didn’t start to talk about it until I came here.” 

“Here” is Casa de Las Mercedes, a women’s shelter and orphanage in Mexico City that works with and provides a safe haven for young women with a history of sexual and domestic abuse, human trafficking, and other forms of abuse. This woman’s story is real and raw, and it’s brought to you through a partnership with the Cal Poly student-run group Current Solutions, an online platform sharing the stories of sexual assault and intimate partner violence survivors. 

Her words were posted to the group’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Aug. 9. As you scroll up or down, there are more stories from the shelter. Current Solutions teamed up with the shelter through Vivian Cheung, who’s volunteering at Casa de Las Mercedes and helping the women tell their stories. The Cal Poly group launched a gofundme.com account for Casa de Las Mercedes on Aug. 8 with the goal of raising $10,000 for the shelter. So far, it’s raised $560. 

Current Solutions, which launched in May 2016, made the pages of newspapers like USA Today and The New York Times this summer for the “Dear Brock Turner” photo series completed by group member Yana Mazurkevich, which depicts disheveled women in lacy bras holding signs with statements like “I should have expected this to happen.” 

Hannah Joslin, who joined the group shortly before graduating from Cal Poly, said they want to reduce the stigma surrounding sexual violence by sharing real stories from real people. They also want to spawn a movement, a conversation to come up with solutions to stem that violence and change the culture of victim-blaming.

It started with a way for women, and men, to submit their stories about sexual assault and violence via the Current Solutions website and is quickly outgrowing its original plan. There are currently at least 54 stories on the site. Some detail sexual assault by strangers or partners; some detail sexual harassment or insecurities about clothing; some detail outright violence and stalking or an abusive childhood. 

The stories from Casa de Las Mercedes are just beginning, as Current Solutions tries to raise the money to support the shelter, which helps teach the women how to support themselves, succeed after a dark past, and build their futures. Want to help? Visit http://currentsolutions.co/ to learn more, find Current Solutions on Facebook, or check out gofundme.com/casadelasmercedes.  

Editor Camillia Lanham wrote this week’s Cougars & Mustangs with a desire to be part of the solution. Send your tips to cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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