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Description: July 2012 Issue. Red, White and Blue Edition.

My story will seem small in comparison but between the ages 8 and 12 I was sexually assaulted by my cousin Jordan. I am now 13. The worst part was that when it wasn t happening I almost wished that it was. I felt used unloved and alone. I know there are other people like me but I wish I were all alone then no one would have to feel the pain that I have felt and feel. The first person I confided in was my best friend Kelsey. She was supportive but didn t really think to much about it. Then I told my friends Corrine and Erin they both told me that I had to tell one of my school counselors. I wasn t to sure but I decided that as long as my two shining stars were with me I d be alright. There was a draw back though. The day I was to talk to my school counselor Mrs.Hubbard I accidentally broke my friend Corrines thumb. So Erin came with me. Mrs. Hubbard was really supportive but she had to tell my school principal. She didn t say any names though. She told me that I had to tell my parents and this is where things got tough. I told my parents the day before valentines day. They said I didn t have to speak or be alone with him ever again. Then they said he probably didn t know what he was doing but the thing is he did they most likely will never be able to accept that.. Jordan ruined my life but I m pretty sure I can t let it go. I will never forgive him . At least not yet I m not ready yet. I haven t got into the dating scene yet but I currently like a really nice guy named Tal. This part of my life is over and done I just hope that no one will ever have to experience what I went through ever again. But the world isn t perfect and remember no matter how many bad people there may seem to be ion this planet there are always more good ones. -Shawnie I met this guy on an online chat room he was 18 and I was 12 then. We met up at a local park and walked to his house which was only several blocks from mine. We went into his room and i sat on his couch. He smiled to me before he turned and walked up to his door to lock it. Watching him lock his door I began to panic. I felt an uneasy motion stir within me. He went and sat next to me gently grabbing a hold of my hand. He then asked me if i wanted to be his girlfriend..at that age I thought it was cool to be in middle school and have a way older boyfriend plus I never had one. So I said yes. At that moment he took hold of my arms and began necking me. I was stunned..I didn t know whether this was what bf gf did after the question was popped. He then forced his heavy body against me while he fiddled with the buttons of my pants. I was a virgin had I held a high belief in abstinence before the encounter. I struggled and screamed Stop but this only reveled him up some more. It hurt so bad. I cried I prayed it would stop but it only continued to worsen. When he was done he told me get up and get dressed. He lead me out of his house like a boot to the curb. I walked home drenched in guilt dirt and disgust. I blamed myself for meeting guys online. I had heard the dangers and I ignored them. I was foolish. I m 22 now memories of the rape still taunt me from time to time... they still hurt and I still cry but I can say I have survived. I have overcame the burden the past the guilt the shame. I have become stronger more aware and knowledgeable of my surroundings and the people I encounter. I have also used this unfortunate event as mobile movement in my life to outreach and tend to others in need. It s never easy to forgive and forget the pain people have imprison you with but I want to let all of you know who are still struggling with this ordeal that you can overcome it. You don t have to let it eat you away and destroy your life. It is a matter of choice whether you want to get better. I was a Christian then and I m still Christian now stronger than ever. I could and I probably had blame God for the pain I had to endure through much of my childhood. But instead I thank him for the trials of hardships because without them I wouldn t be the person I am now. - Elisa Introducing Cloud Gang from Missouri City TX located minutes from Houston. Musically this gang is led by Quientin Carter (Sean Cash) and Tabarik McKinney (Grillz Marley). QUESTIONS with CLOUD GANG... What s your favorite thing to do when you aren t writing producing playing etc QC I watch sports center go outside and play with my son. When did you first start rapping QC 16. GM I started rapping only a few years ago but I have been writing music and poetry as far back as elementary school. What did your family do to encourage you QC They did alot they always supported me. My brother started a label that encouraged me alot. Who else in your family raps GM I m the only one in the family that does anything music related. Who are your musical inspirations QC Anybody who do what they love (music) and can be able to provide for their family. GM My musical inspirations include Prince 2Pac Eminem Scarface and Jay-Z ...to name a few. What kind of music do you listen to today QC I listen to all the rap hip hop a little bit of rnb i listen to alot of old-school like 70 s soul music. GM I mainly listen to cloud gangs music...but I guess u can say I listen to Hip-Hop Rap and a lil Rock. What genre of music can t you stand to listen to GM Ya boy can t do Country What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player QC You might find like a old freestyle that i did that was never released im falling off because i didnt write it. GM Some Coldplay and 3 Doors Down. Who would you most like to open for QC UGK rip Pimp C GM Rick Ross right now. His shows be bananas Do you play any instruments QC I just play the keyboard. GM I can t play any but I would love to learn to play the guitar.....electric and acoustic. If you could dabble in another genre of music what would it be QC Probably rock. GM I wanna dabble in Rock. If you weren t rapping what would you be doing GM Trying to finish my psychology degree. What hidden talents do you have QC I can juggle... I was 20. I started dating Zack my junior year of College. The first time he raped me I was on my way to church. I was deeply religious then and invited him to join me at church every Sunday. I went over to his apartment which was next door to mine. When I got into his apartment he was in his living room typing some forgotten paper for some forgotten English class. All of his roommates had gone to church and he was the only one there. I said that I was on my way to church and that if he hurried he could go with me. I liked that he wasn t offended when I invited him he usually just said No thanks that church wasn t his thing . This Sunday however he seemed upset by something. Maybe it was the class that he was writing the paper for maybe I was offending him by inviting him to church I don t know. All I knew at the time was that he was upset and that I felt the need to make him feel better. I didn t want to leave him there feeling bad especially since I would be gone to church for three plus hours. He didn t like me going to church he said that I was trying to get away from him. I would often come home between classes if I had any time at all so I could see him or more so he could see me. This day he convinced me to skip church and spend the afternoon with him. We sat on his couch talking with some movie on in the background. I was wearing a pink sundress with a cardigan sweater. He started to kiss me and lay next to me on the couch and I was fine with this. He had madeout before and I enjoyed physical affection. By made-out I mean kissing and hugging no touching in private areas. He was trying to put his hand up my skirt and I kept telling him no and putting his hand on my back. He was very aware of my boundaries I laid them out very clearly and other than him touching my breast a couple of times I had kept to them. But no matter how much I laid down the law he would always test my limits. This day was different he was far more aggressive and I was having a hard time keeping his hands where I was comfortable with them. I finally got up and told him that I was leaving. He promised to be good and I believed him. After I sat back down with him and we started kissing again it happened. He was being aggressive again but this time was different. Usually I could move his hands away and he would let me but this time he wouldn t let me. He put his hand on my breast and when I tried to move it he wouldn t budge. I remember him pulling my skirt up and thinking How do I make this stop I was crying at this point. I couldn t speak I just pulled my knees toward my chest and tried to hold my legs together. In this position he was able to pull my panties off and then he entered me. I cried from the pain. After two or three thrusts he pulled out and I saw the blood of my hymen on his penis. Seeing that I just gave up. I thought I m not a virgin anymore what am I fighting for I just let him finish. I was so ashamed. All of my friends at the time were saving themselves for marriage and so was I and now it was all gone. The whole incident played over and over again in my mind and the only thing I thought was that I did fight enough. I pulled my legs up and he must have thought it was an invitation. It was all my fault. After that I lost all sense of self-worth. Zack started hitting me and calling me names and controlling my life and I just let him. I remember him saying things like If you d just relax and stop fighting it wouldn t hurt so much when he was forcing himself on me. I still blame myself and have told no one this story but I had to get it out there. I don t know why I m writing this I just know that if this story lived inside me for any longer it was going to destroy me from the inside. -Farrah A. I recently ran across this letter that I wrote to the family member who repeatedly molested & finally raped me when I was a child. I wanted to have it published somewhere since I choose not to send the letter to him for a variety of reasons. Just the process of writing the letter and now rereading it is cathartic to me and I hope maybe it will be to someone else with a similar experience. Thanks for providing this opportunity. Dear X I am not sure how to start this letter. It seems silly to say things like It s been awhile... or It s obvious we haven t talked in awhile... . I know this will seem harsh but somehow I always thought you would just disappear from my memory. I hoped that our relatedness would somehow disappear from the genealogies. But it hasn t. And unfortunately it never will. I will forever be in your family as you will be in mine. You must know that you used to haunt my dreams. I would fall asleep and wake up sweating thinking you were in the room. I am not asking you to feel anything but I am asking for your sympathy. I wish I could erase my life from the ages of five to eight. I often ask God if that s possible. I used to wish that I had never been born or that you had never been born. But once again God had other plans. I am getting married in March. That is the reason for this letter. I think that maybe I would have erased you from my memory except that I had to tell my fianc about you. We had the usual Who have you slept with And unfortunately you were apart of it. In fact you were center stage. I realized in the process that I am still angry. (That should be a warning about the rest of the letter.) I thought I had forgiven you but I have only forgiven you as far as I can forget you. I can only say that I forgive you when I know you are far far away and I don t have to see you. It s easy to forgive someone who is distant and you don t have to speak of or deal with on regular basis. Suddenly I had to relate the whole story and I had to uncover what has been so carelessly covered for almost 20 years. Did you know that I love to sing Did you know that I don t like onions in anything Did you know that I talk to myself a lot All of this to say that it s so unfair that I am carrying around something for a person who doesn t even know me. You don t know me at all you don t care what happens to me and yet 20 years later when I am preparing to spend the rest of my life with someone who knows me intimately and better than you ever will I have to talk about YOU. YOU become the subject of many conversations many tears many regrets and sadness. My fianc has a wonderful relationship with his extended family. Always felt loved cared for and wants them at his wedding because they were loyal beyond compare. What did I have I was isolated I was talked about I was the subject of gossiping aunts and I was left alone.....and guess what it all came back to you. I am going to ask the obvious question Why and Why me I know that ________ was not the best of fathers or the best of men. I have heard some of the stories and I know they are likely only the tip of the iceberg. I know that there was pornography involved and that had to have some influence on what you were thinking. But why Was it just because I was there Was it just because I was too na ve to say no You may not know why but I have to ask. I have to ask for my own sanity because if I don t ask why then it still becomes something I brought on myself. I tried to fit into the family. I tried to put on a game face and pretend like I could just smile and nod my way through the next 30 years of family reunions. But I can t. I am not going to lie. I often used to wish that you would die in a car accident I could have my final revenge by NOT showing up at your funeral and then be done with you. Then I could have my extended family back. If you ve read this far you are a better man than I remember. All of this to say that I don t want you at my wedding. I do wish for healing reconciliation and whatever it takes to get things to normal if that s possible. But please don t ruin our day by being there. I hope to close your chapter of my life soon. - Kimmy This is a story that I have waited sixty years to fully tell. From about age seven until I was ten my brother sexually abused me. In one instance he brought two of our male cousins into it. The three of them sexually assaulted me at the same time. There was no one to tell and I knew that no one would believe me so I have stayed quiet all of these years. I married an abusive man and suffered through twenty-one years of marital sexual abuse and rape. I tried to talk about this after I divorced him and his family convinced my children that I was crazy. I am not crazy nor have I ever been crazy. Somehow I have survived. I have also learned that a sister was abused by other people. Sometimes we talk together and this helps but I still have not been able to tell even her about the abuse I suffered at the hands of our brother and cousins. Recently I accidentally met one of the cousins after many years. It really upset me although I concealed it very well. -Bonnie I am a rape survivor also and my demons have been following me for many years as well. Counselors have always told me that it would get better with time that one day I would find my healing. To this day I have not. I don t have a terrible life I am just not the person I was before I was raped. My view of men is that 99% of them only want sex from women and that they are evil. I can not sleep at night unless I drink. I remember the person that I was before a beautiful wide eyed spontaneous outgoing person and it makes me cry because she died the day I was raped. The person that has taken her place is a bitter suspicious sometimes very hateful who can not enjoy life anymore because she is afraid of the world now....because someone took something that didn t belong to them. I know that even if you re a good person horrendous things can still happen to you and nobody cares. The world has become very cold and sometimes I grow very weary being apart of it. -Anne Marie