Sandra’s Story

Sandra Avila is a member from the Latino/a community, a professional podcaster and YouTuber, and a survivor of sexual violence.

Sandra’s story is about the complex dynamic of disclosure—the disclosure of sexual assault and disclosing within her community where cultural norms and barriers can deny and derail a survivor’s experience. When Sandra shared her survivor story on social media, she received substantial support and, in return, she started hearing disclosure experiences from fellow survivors. Sandra recognized she had more to share than her story; she could help other survivors who hesitated to break their silence, particularly in cases involving perpetrators within the Chicano rap industry, like her own.

"In our Chicano rap industry, reporting to the police is seen as snitching, even for women. The music scene is highly political, but I believe my story has demonstrated that it doesn't have to be that way,” she said recently in an interview with RAINN.

Sandra began actively providing resources to survivors through her podcast channel, and her courageous act of disclosure is paving the way for an important conversation within the Latino/a community. Breaking down cultural barriers seems to have unleashed a power within her and produced a Domino-effect of disclosures from other survivors.

“Sharing my experience was a surprising and eye-opening moment for those in the Chicano rap industry,” said Sandra. “It demonstrated that disclosure is possible, even when facing the barriers of speaking out against highly respected artists in the culture’s industry.”


In addition to her online community of survivors at her back, Sandra drew strength from the valuable assistance of an advocate at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), who supported and aided her in her legal battle against the perpetrator.

“The minute I told the advocate [Monica] my story, she understood that I had been through so much and immediately wanted to help me,” Sandra recalled. “She wanted to make sure my voice was heard and she was going to do everything in her power to make sure that I got some kind of justice… I felt very supported and less alone.”

Even in this RAINN interview, conducted over video-conference, Sandra's undeniable sense of power and purpose was palpable as she recounted her journey of breaking cultural barriers and facing her assailant in court, "They learned their lesson with me taking this to court. No means no. In my culture, it’s not okay to speak about or disclose about sexual assault. For me, speaking about it was a huge deal, and still to this day, people question me. But I know, in my mind, he was not going to get away with what he did to me.”

Sandra remains a staunch advocate for survivors on social media and actively participates in local protests and events, consistently sharing her story. In this continued work, she offers advice for those considering whether or not to come forward:

"Find whatever it is that feels right for you,’ she said. “Don't feel pressured into having to speak up. If you are ready to speak up, you will speak up on your own. Don't let anyone tell you what to do, and whenever you are comfortable, do it. Be prepared, even with the backlash; you do not have to take it. Just make sure you are taking care of yourself.”

Part of taking care of herself meant seeking justice. Sandr said the healing journey aligned with her first day in court. "I felt like I was heard, and that was very validating for me." With that in mind, she uses what she has learned to validate others.

“You are not alone,” she reminds others. “You are believed. You matter. You are loved. You don’t have to forgive your abuser in order to move forward in life.”


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