Madeleine is one of those inspirational people that make you wonder, how does she do it? Where does she get the energy to not only be unbroken after what happened to her, but also to fight back against the shame of sexual assault.
I am so humbled to share some more about her and what she has done, and is doing, using her story to help and motivate others to heal.
Who is Madeleine Black the woman behind Unbroken (podcast, book and pretty much a movement on itself)?
I am a woman who found her voice after being silenced by my trauma and shame for decades. I first shared my story publicly of sexual violence on 22nd September 2014 on The Forgiveness Project’s website and it has opened many doors for me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I am now a speaker, author and podcaster. I stopped working as a psychotherapist 2 years ago to focus on my speaking career. I published my memoir “Unbroken” in April 2014 and it tells my story of being gang raped at thirteen and follows my journey of survival, healing, forgiveness, transformation and hope. I started my podcast show “Unbroken: Healing Through Storytelling “ in November 2020 and has been my gift of lockdown. I speak to people that have overcome adversity and have bounced forward in life and are now making a difference for others. As I wanted to shine some light in the dark days of lockdown, to give others hope and to inspire and motivate people too.
What is the biggest impact on what you do?
By using my lived experience I help others to find their courage and voice too as I believe when we don’t speak out we hold ourselves back. I am passionate about using my story to help others end the shame, stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence.
What has been your biggest learning since you started?
That we are all so much stronger than we think we are and that courage is contagious.
What is the goal? The big vision of what you would like to achieve?
To be honest I don’t really plan anything and I tend to go with the flow and say “yes” to any opportunity! I was speaking across the globe before COVID hit and even though I can’t be there physically I’ve been able to share and attend many conferences worldwide with technology. I feel like now that I’ve found my courage and voice that it’s my duty to speak out and serve others .
What is Feminism for you?
I hope that one day all women/girls will be part of a society that treats them equally with the same opportunities for all.
Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?
All of the victim blaming messages that we are fed that clothes/alcohol/walking home/being out late causes rape! 100% of all rapes are caused by rapists and nothing else.
Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?
When I moved to Glasgow in 1993 I started working for a local Women’s Aid group and it opened my eyes to how little rights women had when they were feeling domestic abuse and how hard it could be to protect them. Women had to give up everything, their home, children move schools, move into refuge, leave their jobs, move away from their community/family etc whilst men stayed in the home and often only charged with a breach of the peace.
Who is your biggest feminist role model?
So many! I admire Tarana Burke so much for starting the #metoo movement in 2006 which went viral 11 years later. It has given a voice to so many people who had stayed silent for years and there is nothing more empowering than that.
What is your favourite Feminist quote?
"Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women." -Maya Angelou
What is your proud feminist victory?
Being interviewed by Sir Trevor McDonald for BBC Radio four led to my friend’s mum end 64 years of silence after she heard me speak on the radio and told her that she had also been raped as a teenager.
What is your feminist recommendation?
- Book: I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou – I had never read a book that mentioned rape and trauma before and it both shocked and soothed me
- TV Show: I May Destroy You – an amazing performance by Michaela Coel about the aftermath and mess of trauma and healing after sexual violence. Incredible performance and based on her own lived experience. I didn’t watch this show, I felt it!!
- Film: The Eagle Huntress – I loved this film! It’s about a young Kazakh from Mongolia who attempts to become the first eagle hunter to compete in an eagle festival
What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?
Speak out, don’t settle for inequality, disrupt rape culture and support each other!
You can follow her work on:
Watch her TEDx Glasgow talk called – “Unbroken – Speaking The Unspeakable”
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