How do I see myself in the eyes of all  the women that birthed me, raised me

I came back to learn your ways only to find

dry herbs surround altars forgotten in time

who am I

Born chosen and forgotten at the same time

always in the in-between

neither from here or there

Black, Brown, beautiful Taina Warriors, Brujas, Curanderas

drowning in alcohol

I came here to liberate myself from the Capitalism of the United States

only to find that oppression has taken over souls

on every corner I turn bottles have broken through homes

They say this is part of culture shock

but I find myself surviving, running from being imprisoned by the hurt in their eyes

the desperation in the smile that greets me

intoxicated by the beauty of my country and its people

while at the same time withdrawing from internalized oppression

I thought I would find freedom in its water

Instead I loose my breathe at the thought that

I am not from here or there

They say home is where the heart is

but I struggle to keep it out of the prison

of modern day slavery

in a tourist town were women sell their mind, bodies and spirits

I find solace in the beats of drums

dancing bachata and merengue

connecting back to my body

calling my ancestors

asking why am I here?

I find myself desperately, holding onto love

so I can stay alive and human in a world meant to kill us

Empty caskets, thirsty corps’s waiting for the living to visit

but they are dead too

I pay homage today

to my ancestors

I am here


Spanish Translation

¿Cómo me veo en los ojos de todas las mujeres que me criaron

Volví para conocer sus formas sólo para encontrar

hierbas secas rodeando altares olvidados en el tiempo

quién soy

Nacida elegida y olvidada al mismo tiempo

siempre en el intermedio

ni desde aquí o allá

Negra, marrón, hermosos guerreros taina, brujas, curanderas

ahogándose en alcohol

He venido aquí para liberarme del capitalismo de los Estados Unidos

sólo para encontrar que la opresión se ha apoderado de sus almas

en cada esquina botellas han roto a través de casas

Dicen que esto es parte del choque cultural

pero me encuentro sobreviviendo, huyendo de ser encarcelado por el dolor en sus ojos

la desesperación en la sonrisa que me saluda

embriagado por la belleza de mi país y su gente

mientras que al mismo tiempo retirándome de la opresión internalizada

Pensé que iba a encontrar la libertad en sus aguas

En vez pierdo mi respiración ante la idea de que

Yo no soy de aquí o allá

Dicen que el hogar es donde está el corazón

pero me esfuerzo para mantenerlo fuera de la cárcel

de la esclavitud moderna

en una ciudad turística donde mujeres venden sus mente, cuerpo y espíritu

Encuentro consuelo en los ritmos de los tambores

bachata y merengue bailando

conectada de nuevo a mi cuerpo

yo llamo a mis antepasados

preguntándole por qué estoy aquí?

Me encuentro desesperadamente  agarandome del el amor

para que yo pueda seguir con vida y ser ser humano en un mundo que quiere matarnos

Cajas vacías, cuerpos con seres esperan los vivos para visitar

pero ello están muerto también

Rindo homenaje hoy

a mis antepasados

Estoy aquí

What Every Sexual Abuse Survivor Wants You to Know

Be the 15,000 read, its going viral and popular on Elephant Journal.  Join the conversation by adding a comment and share widely!  PS, the girl in the pic is me.

Dee Photo

Important read for survivors of sexual trauma and the folks we love/ who love us/ community we work w/for. An Excerpt from Dayanara Marte upcoming book in Elephant Journal “What Every Sexual Abuse Survivor Wants You to Know! It is the voice in our heads that tells us we are not enough, that we don’t deserve love, that it’s our fault, that no one will love us and that we don’t belong….

Read what people are saying…

1. I sent that to my husband so he might understand why it leaks out of my well constructed brave grown up suit I wear daily.

2. I sent this to my partner for the same reason and the way you worded your comment really resonated with me. You are still brave, even if and when things leak out.

3. It is why we don’t understand why the person who hurt us is still part of our community and no one has done anything to hold them accountable.

4. “It is exhausting but healing is worth it”

It took me to the age of 13 to realise that on going sexual abused and raped at the age of 8 was wrong, because it was normalized and was “a game” by a trusted family member, who still walks the street.

“A blur” 13-19 years old filled with a mixture of self harm, alcohol and drugs, like my own hands, body and voice was stolen from my control. Never really accepting the fact anything was wrong with me, that there was no implications or effects as of a result of childhood abuse.

Yet now, I have grown strong, I am stable. I am grateful, I am happy. I love, I live, I smile I dance. I have self confidence, I no longer drink, clean of drugs, haven’t self harmed for 4 years, nor even considered it. I found myself, I do yoga, I meditate, I found my sexuality and I enjoy it, for me. I dream and I have passion and I know it’s a bold statement but a fraction of that is contributed to reading elephant journals articles daily and being apart of this community, so thank you for being such an amazing group, you help save lives. Such inspiration posted every day, your articles help motivate me to carry on and stay strong

4. I still have many years of healing ahead, but being open with my story has always given me a sense of release, that it doesn’t define me or my identity, simply an event in my life that has allowed me to grow and learn and an opportunity to go deeper within to unlock true happiness.

5. Thank you for your support, much love x

6. It is a daily journey! But I made it !!!Thank you for writing this.

7. wow, thank you for putting that into words

8. The desire to protect others from the same harm, and to prevent it from ever happening to anyone else is very real.

9. this would be a good article to share with your coworkers

10. wow powerful article…poweerful video..but recovery is possible….recovery doesnt seem to mean forgetting or ignoring, but able to rise above and keep the tragedy in perspective of the PAST? i hope thats all possible…thats what i hope.

11. Yup. It’s my cross to bear…It’s a shame my family had no time to help me,they nailed me to it instead…

Mine too. Thought this was well written

It is. So well written in fact that I wish I had a copy when I was young enough that it would have made a difference….

I couldn’t agree more.

12. I just want to hug u & say thank u for writing such darn yet simple words to express what exactly goes on the mind of a sexually abused survivor . I can resonate & feel with each words expressed by u in this beautiful piece of writing apart from being a mother .. This gives me courage to keep my journey of healing continuing ….because it is completely worth it ; to create life in a way that i can love anyway , heal anyway , forgive anyway and trust anyway.. Wish u all the very best in your journey .. God bless !

My first published article in Elephant Journal. How to Survive when going Home for Holidays is Difficult.

Check out my first published article of 2015 in the fierce Elephant Journal, How to Survive going Home for Holidays is Difficult. The first 24 hours are vital in getting it into the world. If my article reaches the 2,000 + view mark within the first few days, it will be feature on Elephant Journal Popular Lately section on their front page.That would mean that 2000 women would have yet another opportunity to heal from violence and be empowered knowing they are not alone. So please pay it forward and post widely, Facebook, instagram, post on your blogs and newsletters. If the stats are true then each of us know at least one womyn that has been impacted by violence.

Excerpt from my Article,
A couple of years ago, I went back to the Dominican Republic to find my biological mother. And without thinking about it, almost instinctively, the first person that I thought about who would not only know where to start looking for her but would also go with me to find her, was the man who abused me as a child.”
To read more go to

Survivor Lessons: 10 things I learned about the way trauma impacted me in 2014!


When little girls go through trauma and one of them is being abandoned by their mothers and end up being raised by other people, relatives, foster care, kinship or adoption for a minute or a lifetime, they grow up to  be powerful adult women always looking for their mom  in every stage of  relationship they have with themselves and with other people, especially other women. 

I live my life in retrospect these days.  Connecting the dots of how I got to be who I am? I look back to see how trauma has shaped me and impacted how I create my life , how I show up in my personal relationships with other women, who I be in collectives, as a mother and in sisterhood. These are 10 things I learned about myself as trauma showed up in 2014. 

10. When I feel like I don’t have choice in any area of my life no matter where I am at I instantly go back to my mother giving me up. I get angry cause over the years I have had to reconcile it by saying the I am a gift to the world and the person who adopted me, when I am really frustrated that I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

9. I get triggered when the people that adopt little girls tell them you are lucky or priviledged that your mom gave you up cause let at all you have. You would have had a harder life if you would have stayed with her, it was for the best. And while I have had to tell myself that many times to get through and I know it doesn’t come with bad intentions when people say it, the reality is that I didn’t have a choice and if I could do it differently I would have given up privilege or being a gift to be with my mom today.  The cost of not being with her was too high.

8. I realized that there are some things I and who ever my partners have been and will be that we will always be managing, sometimes better than others,  and that is my internal war of
a. love me but do not love me too much cause i won’t know what to do if you leave.
b. see me but don’t really see me cause if you do and you don’t like me then what am I suppose to do?

I ended the year in the middle of witnessing abuse and unhealthy behavior among women who love women that are very close to me. This is what I learned about myself in the process…

7. They are me and I am them.  In my own relationships, I realized that when I date a women who has gone through trauma of any form and gotten out of an abusive relationship, I think I am dating the powerful women who left but I realize that if that trauma is incomplete then i am dating the women who stayed in the abuse all those years and the little girl who is incomplete and still in search. As a result I will be dealing with the impact of that, making me a casualty of war. Hurt people, hurt people and I always get hurt if I don’t give time for healing cause my own trauma is that I want you to love me no matter what you have gone through. .

6.  As a casualty of her internal war, I end up feeling like I am not seen or heard and my own issues of not being enough come up. I end up resentful and disappointed cause if she is not complete  she will eventually leave me to go back or she will be so caught up in her healing that she will leave on her own journey of self love. Leaving me, well alone! And I will turn around and say but look at who I have been for you and what  I have done. Discern and look at my own addictions to loving people that are not available.

5. For the most part, I am not a momentary person. i am pretty passionate and committed to long term loving but when I am in a relationship with a recent victim of abuse I have to realize that they are surviving the moment, the break up, the re-victimization, the incompleteness and will always be searching for resolution. Victims and survivors are always making moment to moment decisions. Instead, I show up and in my own trauma I am busy asking them to love me now, tomorrow and forever, or to create dreams years in advance. The reality is that I come in with possibility ready to create with someone who is still in a relationship, breaking up and grieving the abuse and in withdrawal from the addiction of the abuse. What does it cost me to love anyway?

4. Although I work with victims and survivors, it is still very hard for me to see people getting abused, mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually, especially when this happens in my community and within the lives of sisters I Iove. My first reaction is to  swoop down and support them in seeing the unhealthy behavior so they can leave. I want them to get angry at the injustice of what has happened to them so they can break patterns and be free. The reality is that for someone who has normalized abusive behavior and lived in it as an illusion of love, they cannot be angry at something that has been functional in their relationship.

In 2014 I found myself doing healing work with teen girls again, as a clinician supporting young women crossing the borders and in my personal life mothering beautiful young girls ages 13 and 9. This is what I learned about myself…

3. I realized that all those young women were me. I had a really hard time letting young women go when I didn’t know if they were going to be safe or not, or if I was ever going to see them again. I went to therapy for a moment because I couldn’t understand how yet another person (me) could leave them and never see them again. I couldn’t comprehend that I  would never know what happened to them or if they needed anything.  How could I commit to these young women and never be allowed to speak to them again.  It was as if I was also abandoning them and abandoning myself at the same time.

2. My dad told me I was adopted at the same age of those girls (btw 11-13 years old) and I was reliving that experience through them. I realized that I was still angry at my mother for me never feeling like I am good enough or always trying harder to be seen or heard.  Being with these girls in my life was divine intervention and opportunity to heal from my own past.

1. And it comes full circle again. Nobody has ever asked me if I was okay with the adoption. If I was okay with being left or with the decision adults made for me. As an adult in retrospect I get to ask, if only speak it out to the universe, how come nobody as ever asked me if their choice was really in my best interest. My biological mother or anyone else has ever asked me if I was okay? She doesn’t know what happened to me or who was that lady she gave me up to, what addiction or unhealthy thing was happening in her life that would impact me, what trauma have I experienced as a result. Would I be or was I really better off without her?

Part 2. Crossing Paths: Meeting at the Intersections

i find myself standing at the intersections
At the cross roads of my heart and mind
Their eyes meet mine
and I search to see myself in them
but the light coming from their heart is too strong
Resiliency, courage, strength and beauty meet me
and invite me to play and laugh on their land
they dare me to think about who I am on this earth
what do I stand for
and who do I want to be
for them on this journey
They prompt me to question my very existence
my own humanity
Their eyes meet mine
and I cant promise nothing but the moment
This is just another assignment on my own journey
a spiritual interaction on this human earth
Angels crossing paths without borders

crossing paths

Today, I breathed and released, let go, gave up and breathed some more, inhaling into my heart trying to understand with out judgment what it is that I am being called to do in this moment, in this lifetime, with these young people and children, in this particular part of their journey.

As I rap my head around what I am witnessing I realized that the work being done with the children crossing the borders is so out of context of these children lives and where these children are coming from politically. And of course because they have crossed over into the United States the institutions treating and serving them are using US based, mainstream models of psychotherapy, mental health, social work, psychology and education for a group of beautiful indigenous children who speak in their native tongue and are in tribes and cultures native to their lands. Do these models do more harm than good? The answer has always been yes, whether in conversation of immigrants or migrants and native people to this own land and people of color in general in the US.

Any US mainstream model in any field, sexual assault, reproductive health, prison industrial complex and now immigrant unaccompanied minors that is used to facilitate an understanding of the oppression of people of color and its impact automatically stereotypes, diagnoses, discriminates, creates prejudice and therefore violence against the very people it claims to have its best interest in mind, leaving them vulnerable to imposed evaluations and diagnosis that have no relevance to what they may be going through, who they are and what they want to do in the next phase of their lives.

What we may consider trauma here maybe a normal state of being for them. Where educational systems do not exist in “normal educational institutions”, education in tribes looks very different. They pass down stories, do rituals and connect to the earth. What we consider child labor, for other countries everyone in the family being workers for the land connected to the earth is part of their culture and their education is the crops they farm. If they don’t look at you, they are not traumatized, in their culture that might not be acceptable. If they are not speaking they do not have a speech problem they don’t understand your Spanish or English cause they talk but only in their native tongue and not our imposed language. Yes, they are 12, 13 and 14 and don’t “look” their age but by whose standards? Many don’t have food or when they do eat, they do not eat over processed, hormone/pesticide infested food that has been cloned with no nutrients. Not all of them are in gangs, stop listening to the news, its creating a generalization of these children, where they came from and why? This is not a one size fits all situation.

Check your privilege at the door. This is not a power struggle between you and academia where you want to show off your clinical degree or master of diagnosis. These are real people and the disservice that we do when we create yet another invisible stop on their journey where they are dehumanized and not seen, is more devastating than the journey they have already gone through.

Please , Please Please, seek out support and training! If you are an advocate, service provider, teacher, youth worker, supervisor, clinician, volunteer or any other body doing direct services or on the front lines of working with immigrant children crossing the borders. CHECK, CHECK, CHECK yourself! Take a cultural awareness and cultural humility training. Do your own research about this population, look for alternative news to inform yourself about what is not being said, look for another side, another way to think and be. Commit and take responsibility for being open to learning and giving up what you think you already know, for deep personal transformation and healing for yourself and the child, for critically thinking and creating a mind that has no borders.

Self Healing Tips: Take care of yourself in the process.
1. Thank yourself everyday for being on the front lines of this work?
2. Choose to not take the story home instead take a mental picture of the smile in their eyes.
3. Create a group of people who will support you in debriefing your days, crying and releasing, healing and understanding why you?
4. Write, write, down your rage, your sadness, your excitement, your thoughts, whats coming up for you?
5. Celebrate, Affirm and forgive yourself and your family. Hug them tight and go to bed saying I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me and thank you!

From direct service to community organizing?: Questions to think about.

1. Make a map of the journey? From what country to what other country, to the border?
2. Walking, bus, train, crossing rivers, deserts and mountains? How did they get here?
3. What languages do they speak? Become knowledgeable
4. What tribes and cultures may they be coming from? What is their way of life?
6. What is the social, political and economic climate of their countries?
7. What is their education?
8. What is their work?

9. What are the issues that they may be facing in their countries outside of what the news is saying? Health, drugs?, disease(if any?), violence against women, role of men, lgbt? etc
10. What resiliency are they already coming with?

Take care of you,
Dayanara Marte

Queens Igniting Fires to End Violence Against Women in the Virgin Islands!

Video taken at an amazing presentation with Umi Hankins Co-Executive Director, Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) in St, Criox during the US Territory Summit on Violence Against Women “Our Communities,Our Islands, One Voice” presented by The National Organization of Sisters of Color  Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA).  

” Queen Mary, oh where you gon’ go burn?
Queen Mary oh where you gon’ go burn?
Don’t ask me nothin’ at all. Just give me the match and oil.
Bassin Jailhouse, ah there the money there.
Don’t ask me nothin’ at all. Just give me the match and trash.
We gon’ burn Bassin come down,
And when we reach the factory, we’ll burn am level down. ”

This year my work has taken me around the world taking the pulse from women leading social justice movements in their respective countries from Camaroon, breast ironing to Puerto Rico, Queens  are ending sexual assault .i celebrated the return of the sun, the summer solstice in Puerto Rico and the USVI and I  spent last week in the Island of St. Criox where I got to present at the US Territory Summit on Violence Against Women and have come back truly honored and humbled to share this earth with such amazing women eradicating violence in this lifetime.

I have learned many things in the past two weeks but nothing as important as the two things I want to share in this blog post. 1. A  Global love letter to sisterhood and 2. What the song above ” Queen Mary” did for me this summer 2014. When the women sang it during one of the workshops it sparked a revolutionary flame in me that I thought had burned out along time ago.  What way to re-ignite the return of the flames of the sun in me. We are everywhere, women rising up, Queens in position of leadership given or chosen creating another sisterhood, giving out crowns to share royalty at a time when there is a war on women’s bodies, minds and spirits.

The song was an example of how women have fought back against colonization and oppression generations in the making. It made me think about the direct correlations between violence against women and colonization. The personal and collective stories that I heard from women living in America Samoa, Siapan, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands of personal trauma contextualized in historical violence mirrors and reflect how violence is a learned behavior of torturing, invading, raping, killing and colonizing not just countries but women’s bodies as well. In addition, the legacy of how women fought back during those times speaks to not just their role culturally but how they fight today.

“In 1878 four women on St. Croix, traditionally called “Queens” in Crucian tradition, organized a revolt known as “Fireburn” to demand all plantations pay better and repeal the Labor Act of 1849 that kept workers unequal with their counterparts on other Caribbean islands. These V.I. heroines were: Queen Mary Thomas, Queen Mathilde Macbean, Susanna “Bottom Belly” Abrahamson and Axeline “Queen Agnes” Salomon. For five days, much of the West End of the island burned. Women made up the majority of Crucian workers and were largely called “Queens” because of their ability to articulate the needs of the agricultural sugarcane workers on the plantations. The women were young. Queen Mathilda was in her mid to late teens at the time. The four queens were imprisoned in Denmark. But the labor laws were quickly reformed”.

There is a Queen Mary in all of us, a revolutionist, womanist, warrior spirit and goddess and I dedicate this love letter to my sisters on the frontlines rising up, uprising and burning down mountains crossing oceans and uniting us by song.

I see you, you are my sister!

I see you. I chose you. I choose you. We are scarred in similar ways. We are beautiful in unique ways. We are tied together by elastic golden threads that weave supportive cases around our hearts. We move far and wide with great gaps of time between our last goodbyes. But when we see each other the laughter that so naturally flows between us fills any space that time created.
Shared experience breeds all kinds of comedy, connection and re-lived trauma. Our histories are complex, our connection no less so. We carry the burden of every system we step in and out of. And yet we find our way into those sacred conversations that bleed into the wee hours of the night. We gather around kitchen, boardroom and cafeteria tables or any other commons we encounter. We scheme, we team, we inspire, we reignite and we see how starved we were for reflection. We revel in the comfort of friends.
I take the time to show my love to you through the time I dedicate to simply listening to the woes, the flows all the while witnessing your greatness. I am honored to be the audience to your show. I applaud, support, challenge and grow along side you. I am dedicated to those that share the same set of principles and I am dedicated to those in my community that might need a little extra.
I give what I have to give when I can give it. What I get in return is the opportunity to see the astonishing power that we have when we find common ground to stand on. Together we have the power to do anything. I wake up to this power. I build bridges to those who love me. I open the door to those that I love.
Taken from