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Meet Julie Mansfield of Give Me Dignity in Miami

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Mansfield.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Like far too many, I was sexually violated by my mother’s brothers–starting when I was just eight years old. The abuse was, to say the least, life-altering. But ever the one to see the good in everything, I decided to write about the good, the bad and the awful growing up behind the tourist veil of Jamaica.

I chronicled the perversion of an idyllic childhood arrested by sexual abuse, violence, and hypocrisy in a book titled “Maybe God Was Busy.” Long before the ‘Me Too movement,’ whilst promoting Maybe God Was Busy, the cry of yes, me too, become a chorus that couldn’t be ignored. That was the impetus for founding Give Me Dignity, a charity aimed at creating awareness about the pervasiveness of child sex abuse with emphasis on the black and brown communities.

Also of importance is providing access to resources to those affected and educational programs aimed at reaching youngsters before they offend. It is equally important to humanize the statistics. I seize every opportunity to speak about the crippling and sometimes deadly effects of child sex abuse, but equally, I’m emboldened to show that it is possible not just to survive but to thrive after abuse. It’s the latter that keeps me motivated, to show that yes, abuse happens but we are more than numbers.

We are of flesh and blood; of hopes and fears; of dreams and doubts; of all that makes us humans. But that’s just one hat on this head of mine, yes I am a true Jamaican! I guess you could call me a serial entrepreneur (Cafe Creme (North Miami and Upper Buena Vista; Sixty10; Pro Audio Nerds, to name a few).

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A smooth road it has not been. It was only after years of therapy was I able to reconcile with the past that had manifested in terrible decisions, self-loathing and mountains of doubt. While others saw me as this super confident woman who could accomplish just about anything, I saw myself as the powerless 8-year-old child under the weight of abuse.

But the flip side of initial therapy made a perfectionist out of me. I once dropped a class because I had a “B” and couldn’t figure how to raise it to an “A.” That same perfectionism also manifested in ending relationships, good relationships, prematurely. And that was more than personal relationships, it also included professional relationships. And you might be wondering why I’d view perfectionism as a challenge.

Well, that perfectionism did little more than mask a deeper lack of confidence. It was a distraction from the real culprit of doubting my abilities or believing I was deserving of success. Then there were the more traditional challenges of raising two girls, mostly as a single mother. Balancing feebleness of self, an innate yet desperate desire to succeed so I could prove my abusers wrong and the need to raise adjusted women was at times crippling.

Give Me Dignity – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Give Me Dignity:
As a stand-alone, Give Me Dignity hosts GLOW (Girls Lighting Our World) Power retreats. These retreats are focused on helping to turn victims into survivors, and survivors into ‘thrivers.’ We introduce participants to self-care, writing therapy and other coping mechanisms. What is key, is that most of the presenters were themselves victims of sexual violence. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the comradery that ensues, and the knowledge that though we often suffer in silence, we heal together.

Give Me Dignity/Pro Audio Nerds:
This is a marriage that is yielding some incredibly empowered girls. By providing access to technology and full-spectrum etiquette that includes role plays, feminine hygiene and confidence building exercises, we are helping to ensure our girls are equipped both professionally and personally, and that they know how to comport themselves in a world waiting to devour them.

Sixty10:
This casual eatery is perhaps Miami’s only organic/natural chicken rotisserie and open-air venue.

Cafe Creme:
Cafe Creme is a combination French eatery with traditional fusion dishes, homemade pastries, and full bar. What is special about Cafe Creme is Chef goes to the market every single day!

Upper Buena Vista:
This is perhaps Miami’s most talk-about place. Known as the retail sanctuary, Upper Buena Vista is a collection of micro-boutiques, anchored by a full-service restaurant.

With Miami’s largest tiki as a backdrop, Upper Buena Vista is truly an oasis and less of a mall. The imposing oak and banyan trees beckon and serves as the perfect backdrop for ultimate relaxation.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The absolute proudest moment is having my children tell me they want to be just like me: adaptable, unafraid and resilient. A defining moment was during a presentation, someone asked how I was able to protect my girls.

Now my girls were in the audience, and though I had gotten their permission to write about them, I had not sought permission to talk about them and certainly not in their presence.

Well, my daughter, seeing that I was struggling to evade the question, took the microphone and told her own story of rape at the hands of my sister’s husband. She has not since fallen silent.

Pricing:

  • Maybe God Was Busy (Amazon) $14.98
  • Cafe Creme $5 Happy Hour (Monday-Friday)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Wellington Guzman

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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