Jemila Pratt

I first committed to writing when I created a “book” called The Love Book. This short story helped me express feelings about love while attempting to understand my parents’ divorce. My writing continued to develop and became more focused in poetry. Short stories teenage fantasies about crushes where my friends and I were the main characters; immersing me in entertaining escapes from homework and weekend boredom.

As a freshman in college, I decided to take writing a novel that would chronicle a fictionalized version of events based on a rape endured when I was fifteen. Despite seeking therapy as a senior in high school, I knew writing my story would help me overcome this experience and felt compelled to get my story read by others with similar experiences. It has taken me nearly twenty years to tackle this book because it triggered painful feelings of shame and memories that seemed unbearable.

Throughout this process, my main struggle has been re-living the material. Although I enjoy the craft, writing served as a trigger for depression, anxiety, and PTSD when detailing information about the people and events that created trauma. This forced me to avoid writing for long stretches of time to recover. Developing his novel has been an integral aspect of my healing journey, coupled with supportive friends and family while attending intensive therapy. 

The understanding that healing would not be easy nor linear took years of progress and setbacks. I wanted to be “over it” and feel “normal” and constantly felt frustrated by how negatively trauma had affected my life.

Today, I focus on forgiveness, loving myself, and overall wellness. I live proudly as a survivor, and use my voice to advocate for sexual assault and rape survivors using my platform. Keeping a routine of self-care to preserve my mental and physical well-being through exercise, crafting, and writing has made a positive impact. There are times when I struggle, but am increasingly reliant on my close friends and family for support. Despite the undulating steps in my healing, I continue doing the work essential to becoming the woman whom I envision.

My voice alone is not enough. I want to mentor young women writers of color to tell their stories and life experiences in order to add richness and diversity through varying cultural and ethnic perspective to the mainstream writing world.