It took years after I left my abuser Richard Zona Jr. to set myself free. It took years to get past the humiliation, the fear, the disbelief, the pain, and the disappointment to break my silence and set myself free. It is my life regret that it took me so long. I believed I was protecting those I loved the most…..instead it imprisoned us all. Not only did it imprison us but it devastated all of us. Abuse is a tragedy of many lives. Even though I felt very alone, and had difficulty explaining the chaos, madness, and gaslighting involved in an abusive relationship, I found it becomes easier to reveal the TRUTH once you begin. The words and pain begin to pour out… until your free….and the EVIL abuser has lost all power. Once the words begin to pour out you may need to tell the truth over and over and over again before anyone listens. So many abuse victims are ignored, and justice is difficult to attain. We are all listening to an entire world freeing themselves from abuse. NOW!
~For years, Giuffre told her harrowing story to authorities, but justice remained elusive.
In 2017, however, Giuffre spoke with Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown and videographer Emily Michot and spoke out about the abuse. The journalists also interviewed fellow Epstein survivors Courtney Wild, Michelle Licata and Jena-Lisa Jones.
The result was a bombshell three-part investigation published last year that led to Epstein’s arrest and the resignation of several government officials. Epstein killed himself in prison last August while awaiting trial.
The five women — the three Epstein survivors and the two journalists — are honored in PEOPLE’s annual Women Changing the World edition.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Giuffre recalls the moment she learned of Epstein’s arrest.
“I started screaming, ‘No way. He’s arrested,’” she says. “Tears of joy [were] streaming down my face.”
Licata says Epstein’s arrest showed women that “it doesn’t matter if a perpetrator is a big, grand, important rich person or somebody that’s living with you. Stand up for yourself no matter how hard it is.”
Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein, said she was motivated to come forward for all victims of sex abuse.
“Abuse happens every day. I hope I influence women to speak out,” she says.
Jones, for her part, has a message for other survivors: “We believe what you say.”
Brown says the Herald story was so powerful because it showed “the breakdown of the criminal justice system, and the people that were supposed to protect these girls who didn’t protect them.”
She adds, “The women are heroes for having the courage to speak out about it.”
Michot says the story of Epstein’s abuse is far from over.
“There’s still a lot more people to be held accountable,” she says. “We’ll just continue fighting this.”~
And we will keep fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting until one day JUSTICE WILL COME SWIFTER.
“STAND UP FOR YOURSELF NO MATTER HOW HARD IT IS.” SOMEONE WILL LISTEN. SOMEONE WILL CARE. (It means so much for someone to simply care.)
~TRUTH IS A FORCE OF NATURE~
~GOOD ALWAYS PREVAILS~
I want to love you and you and you and you today:)