Empowered sluts take back word, fight stigma

“It’s always not easy sharing your story,” Suguitan told the crowd.

“But you know what, talking about – it’s been healing.”

End Rape Culture’s Slut Walk aimed at giving survivors a platform to express their journey of healing.

By Jefferson Leiva

Tamara Suguitan was one of many survivors sharing stories of domestic and sexual assault at Stockton’s Slut Walk on April 6.

End Rape Culture hosted the event, the first ever held in the city, at the Stockton Marina Amphitheater. The Slut Walk provided a safe space were people can talk about sexual assault, victim blaming and slut shaming.

Suguitan, a survivor, spoke about why she didn’t reach for help when she was in an abusive relationship.

“I was worried about what was going to happen to him,” Suguitan said. “I felt guilt, blame, shame.”

End Rape Culture was founded in South Florida. Co-organizer Erica Magaña, a Stockton native, brought the organization and event to her community.

“I want to bring together organizations that offer services for sexual assault, trauma, healing. [Organizations] that stand in solidarity with survivors,” said Magaña. She explains the Slut Walk was intended to bring awareness about Rape Culture.

“Rape Culture is the normalization of sexual violence,” Magaña said. “For example, slut-shaming. A lot of people overlook that thats a huge part of Rape Culture.”

The Slut Walk featured an art exhibit, free pole-dancing lessons and several booths aimed at giving resources to victims of violence.

Suguitan had her own table where she displayed her campaign, Rara Rocks. The colorful rocks have supportive messages that are meant to show support for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Listen to Suguitan’s speech as a survivor of domestic and sexual assault.

In her speech, she stressed the power of healing through talking.

“Anything that can exude that energy of putting it out there in the universe,” Suguitan said. “There’s just so much truth to that.”

Roughly around 250 people participated in the Slut Walk. One of these participants was Destiny Vivero.

Vivero has dealt being in an abusive relationship.

“I felt very alone,” Vivero said. “I felt like nobody was going to understand or believe me.”

Magaña said  victim blaming is deeply rooted in Rape Culture.

“After a survivor opens up about their story, immediately, more often than not, people question them,” said Magaña. “Are you sure it really happened that way? Did you provoke it?”

One of the reasons Vivero decided to stay quiet about her domestic abuse “were the constant threats of what she’d do if I ever told anybody.” She also feared her abuser’s friends and family would retaliate against her.

In her speech, Suguitan reflects as she got older she realized the power speaking out has on healing. “When I was that little girl, I didn’t say shit,” Suguitan said. “Now that I’m older, I know to tell the people that love me.”

At the Slut Walk, participants were inspired to embrace the word “Slut”. Here they define what “Slut” means to them.

Suguitan mentioned her sister empowered her to reach out to local resources such as Stockton’s Women’s Center.

According to its website, the Women’s Center offers “free, confidential services and shelters specifically designed to meet the needs of homeless and runaway youth and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.”

While the Women’s Center wasn’t at the Slut Walk, Suguitan mentioned the process of attaining their services.

After hearing Suguitan’s speech about her journey through trauma and reaching for support, Vivero said she’s no longer “ashamed of what I went through.”

Vivero has been out of her abusive relationship for a year now.

“I feel more at peace that I can openly talk about my story,” Vivero said. “It feels like a burden has been lifted.”

According to Magaña, the impact of the Slut Walk is still being seen weeks after the event.

“I got a text message about a young girl in high school who attended the walk,” said Magaña. “[She] was so inspired that she knows what she want to build a career in– which is serving young girls and women who’ve been marginalized. I just thought it was so amazing that the Slut Walk inspired a high school young girl to work to uplift other women.”


The Slut Walk gave local artists a venue to showcase their artworks. Here are some of their works:

Lauren Trask @janesays_art_co {{title}}

Lauren Trask @janesays_art_co

This coat of resin features a plus sized woman covered in golden glitter, leaves and seashells. “The mere existence of our bodies is not inherently sexual, dirty, tempting, or a “show” for the male gaze,” said Trask. “We do not need to be covered, concealed, or hidden away in order to be deemed worthy of respect.” View the artist's Instagram
Lividity by Lauren Trask @janesays_art_co

Lividity by Lauren Trask @janesays_art_co

Trask captures the female body and sexuality through acrylic brushstrokes. To Trask, “female bodies don't exist as objects solely intended for sexual desire.” View the artist's Instagram
Annie Blue @puffannie

Annie Blue @puffannie

This artwork features everything from foot rubs to burgers. “I feel like women should be treated as goddesses,” said Blue. “I mean; we bring life into the world yet we’re treated as second.” View the artist's Instagram
BOSS BITCH GLOSS LIPS by Asia Lamela @honeydipdeja

BOSS BITCH GLOSS LIPS by Asia Lamela @honeydipdeja

Created by Asia Lamela, BOSS BITCH GLOSS LIPS features “racially ambiguous women who reflect my own personal style…. These confident, trendy, modern young women are owning the gaze and opinions of the viewers.” Instagram
Brianna Torres @brazenmarie

Brianna Torres @brazenmarie

Created by Torres, this collage features a messy room and a woman in her own sphere. View the artist's Instagram
Exist Without Permission by Lauren Trask @janesays_art_co

Exist Without Permission by Lauren Trask @janesays_art_co

According to Tarsk, “‘Slut’ has been used as a derogatory term for women and girls who are perceived to be sexually promiscuous. I say perceived, because the nature of the slur is two fold. It is not just used towards women who actually are sexually active in a way that the patriarchy disapproves of, but also for those who reject the social mores of modesty culture.” View the artist's Instagram
Brianna Torres @brazenmarie

Brianna Torres @brazenmarie

Marie creates artworks that add beauty to what others might consider flaws. Body positivity was one topic touched at the Slut Walk. The End Rape Culture held a Body Positivity photoshoot that encouraged participants to love their bodies. View the artist's Instagram
Brianna Torres @brazenmarie

Brianna Torres @brazenmarie

Torres’ artwork was displayed on the Slut Walk. More of Torres' art can be found on Instagram
Brianna Torres @brazenmarie

Brianna Torres @brazenmarie

Torres makes artwork that feature women owning their sexuality. “THIS ISNT FOR YOU” features a woman looking outwards into the night sky. View the artist's Instagram
Untitled by Lauren Trask @janesays_art_co

Untitled by Lauren Trask @janesays_art_co

Also created by Trask, Untitled features a resin and jewel coated orifice that is left to the viewer’s interpretation. View the artist's Instagram