Updated: Oct 14
Storyteller: Rayna Gray
Today I am smiling. BUT there was a time in my life when I had to walk with my head down and I dare not seem to be too happy or I would be punished. My abuser started with verbal abuse and then escalated to physical abuse. Don’t let anyone abuse you. Find your way out. It will be hard but in the long run you’ll be able to smile again.
A special thank you to all who joined Night Out With Meaning on October 5th featuring Rayna Gray, an advocate and a voice for survivors of domestic violence. Rayna shared her story, captured in her book 7:17 alongside Lutheran Settlement House’s Bilingual Domestic Violence Program.
Rayna, the fifth youngest of her seven siblings, grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Despite her family having few resources, at the age of 10, Rayna tried her best to make sure that her siblings had clean clothes and food. Her attempts started to fall short and soon teachers and neighbors took notice. The inevitable took place. Rayna and her siblings were were split amongst different family members and friends. While staying with her Aunt, Rayna tried to bury the pain that she felt from the absence of biological parents. Rayna eventually moved out and started to make decisions that would change her life forever.
In 2001, Rayna found herself in an abusive relationship that almost ended her life. After four years of torture and violence, she found the strength and courage to leave. Shortly after the breakup, she realized that she wanted to help other women that were just like her. Rayna became a volunteer for an agency that previously provided Domestic Violence counseling for her just a few years prior.
As a volunteer, Rayna was the keynote speaker at the First Annual Domestic Violence walk in Philadelphia. Rayna desired to do more for victims and survivors of domestic violence so she attended Eastern University where she majored in social work. In 2010 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She continues her journey as a domestic violence advocate, thoughtfully speaking and promoting awareness through her own experience with domestic violence. She strives to touch and aid anyone in her path.
Lutheran Settlement House Bilingual Domestic Violence Program provides free, quality counseling services for victims and survivors of domestic and dating abuse regardless of gender or sexual orientation. http://www.lutheransettlement.org/bdvp/.