In honor of March being Women’s History Month we decided to shine the spotlight on women who are game changers in our home state. It was my pleasure to interview the creators of Worthy Women NC, Nadiyah Barrow and Christina Worthington. Nadiyah and Christina met while pursing their Bachelor degrees at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) located in Durham, NC. During their time at NCCU they realized that there was a need for a group that provided support to women who were survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Therefore, these two women created Worthy Women, a support group for women on their campus. Since its’ creation 2014, Worthy Women has transformed into a movement to “create consent culture”.
READ OUR INTERVIEW BELOW
***TRIGGER WARNING: Conversations about sexual assualt***
1. Can you tell me a little bit about who you are and a little about Worthy Women.
I’m Nadiyah Barrow. I am 22, and was raised in Greenville NC and graduated from NCCU with a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences. Since graduation I have focused on how I can help women who are survivors of sexual abuse and assault. One of my hobbies is painting, I did that as a healing technique when I was going through harder times in life.
I’m Christina Worthington I was born in Philly but raised in Clarkton, NC. I am an English major at NCCU with a concentration in writing. I grew up in a Christian home and a Baptist church and honestly we weren’t taught about sexual assault. I watched lifetime movies growing up and Law & Order SVU, but I never really grasped the concept of abuse or basically even what it was like to be treated well. My parents were just like don’t have sex until you are married, and don’t kiss cause you will get pregnant, and don’t get pregnant because they guy is going to leave you and make sure that the guy that you are with is financially stable and that’s it. They never talked about how they should treat you.
Worthy Women (WW) was Nadiyah’s idea as far as actually making it a support group. It wasn’t supposed to be a support group it was supposed to be an organization on campus dealing with the healing process of sexual assault. Dr. Lundy from NCCU counseling center actually reached out to us and she made the group happen. The WW support group is very near and dear to our heart. Society doesn’t talk about sexual assault, it’s a very private thing, so we wanted to bring awareness to the situation.
2. How did the Worthy Women apparel line evolve?
The first design was the Worthy t shirt because it stemmed off the name of the support group. We wanted to send the message to women that you are worthy no matter what traumatic experiences you have been through. You are worthy of self love, love from others and happiness. Through our experiences of having the support group and through our personal experiences we learn that a lot of women when they go through sexual assault or abuse they feel worthless along with depression, anger, sadness, or feeling empty or lonely. It’s hard for them to get back to themselves, but they are worthy no matter what they have been through.
Create consent culture t-shirt is based on the fact that we live in a society of rape culture. There is tons of victim blaming. So create consent culture is basically the culture that we would like to create which is men understanding consent. There is no one to blame but the person who raped you that is the only person who is responsible for rape. It doesn’t matter what you have on, what you look like it doesn’t matter how drunk you are. No matter what you did in the situation its not your fault.
In a culture of consent survivors are believed and supported. In a culture of consent women are respected, not sexualized and not brutalized, so I really feel like our message is the same. We just want to help to women to heal.
3. What has been your most rewarding experience thus far?
Christina: There is women who just come up to us at events and hug us and talk about how what we are doing means so much to them. It was one girl who came up to us and gave up $20 and wanted us to know that she was very appreciative and she was very emotional and that really touched and I was like can I give you a hug. I really appreciated that gesture. It made me tear up. I thought about that the rest of the night. Another time, one of the girls in the group she had been sexually assaulted and she was very timid and shy she also had thoughts of suicide so i remember her telling us because of us she didn’t want to kill herself anymore.
Naadiyah: We are not in the business to just put out a shirt you know we really it’s been like a long journey to trying and get back to normalcy. So it is really rewarding to have people to tell you how much of an impact that you have had on their healing. Having the space (support group) in general has been rewarding. Thats the most rewarding part is that the women trust us. They come into a room with us and our psychologist to tell us something so personal. Even when I thought about creating Worthy Women I was talking to my parents about it i was really nervous to put myself out there because starting the group was basically saying I had a story to tell . So now it’s just rewarding to see how we impacted the other girls in the group.
4. Where would you like to see Worthy Women within the next year?
We actually do want to put on a Women’s March. We want to do more work in the community because what we are doing is awesome but can only connect with a few women on campus so connecting with domestic violence shelters or non-profits are very important. I would like to do a segment called art through healing working with local artists in the community, so basically using that as an outlet to get negative energy out and let positive energy in. Hopefully we can do it monthly. I feel like art saved both of us and I would love to be able to extend that other women who may not know the healing effects of art. Over the next year we will continue to vend at events and make people aware of our mission. Eventually down the line we would like to become a non profit women’s resource center.
5. What advice do you have for other people who are trying to start a support group or organization?
Just keep going there is someone who is willing to help you. Even when you think it’s supposed to go one way and you get push back that’s because it’s not how it’s supposed to go. Keep going, try other outlets, get creative, talk to other people that can help. I never realized, until we did the WW apparel line, how many people were willing to help and are proud of what we are doing. Someone will always be supportive of a good cause. It is also super crucial to realize that not everyone is not for you. There are energy vampires who suck all the positive energy we have and are not supportive. I remember once I started cutting those people off and letting go of the anger and resentment that I had towards to those people. We started attracting wonderful and supportive women and men into our lives. If there are people who are not supporting you who are in your circle then they are not meant to be there. If you tell them your idea don’t get to belittle it. This is an investment.
Do not be discouraged when something doesn’t happen quickly. People think that we just popped out and had an apparel line. Like we have the work behind this apparel line like we spent 2.5 years focusing on this topic and so it was like now we are ready to extend all that we have been working on. We had certain people around us that we thought would support us and be happy for us and it didn’t turn out that way. It was people who didn’t know us who gave us encouragement and praise. Be patient with yourself, be gentle with yourself because there are plenty of times when I could’ve been like forget it I don’t want to do this anymore. When something doesn’t work it doesn’t mean that you stop. It doesn’t happen overnight. Literally I woke up one day and put the word WW on a piece of paper and every day I was jotting stuff down. It was a whole bunch of ideas that were put on a piece of paper that began to manifest overtime. If anyone is thinking about starting something on their campus I would say jot things down and brainstorm where you really see yourself going with that idea. It will come true if you believe in yourself, put in the work, and have support around you. At this point i feel that there is no way WW can fail because we have so much support in our corner, it’s bigger than us, people are willing to help and we aren’t doing this by ourselves.
I just feel like why not help your neighbor. We are not protective over where we get our stuff printed, we could not do this by yourself. It was a long process and a lot of money. We don’t want people to go through the challenges we went through such as people taking our money. We get our shirts printed at a small local black owned business called Jay Michael Custom Imprints in Durham, NC. They are very helpful, Jay is awesome the staff is awesome and they are always giving us new ideas and are very welcoming. It’s amazing to see how much they believe in us.
6. Is there anything else you would like our followers to know?
Christina: If anyone needs to talk or if they are NCCU students and they want resources to therapy or a psychiatrist please contact us. We help the best we can, but we know that we didn’t go to school for counseling so we like to point people in the right direction to get the help that we need. Mental health is so important. We don’t talk about it at all in the Black community. If something doesn’t feel right, if you feel sad all the time, if you feel like you are putting yourself in toxic situations don’t be afraid to get help. YOU ARE NOT CRAZY! When I talk to people and tell them hey maybe you should go see a psychiatrist they say “hey I’m not crazy”. Actually, you aren’t crazy because you need to get help for whatever is going on. It’s actually the opposite, you care about yourself enough to seek help and heal. The healing process is not easy. People think that they will go to a session and be cured, no, you literally have to break yourself open, just to deal with all the things you have been avoiding and then you can start piecing yourself back together and that’s the beautiful part.
Naadiyah: Before I came to NCCU I felt like I was in the darkest place in my life I felt like I would never see happiness again. How do you get back to normalcy? I just never thought I could be here right now because I was so depressed for so long, I felt trapped. I realized that that was not me, I cannot live my life like this because what those people did to me. They tried to destroy me but I feel like I am a victor. We actually have victors of sexual assault in our bio, not victims, because a victim is a person who let’s what happens to them overrule everything and a victor is someone who defeats those things that tried to break the down. So no matter where you are now know that you are able to get to a happy place and build something beautiful.
To find out more about Worthy Women or to purchase apparel visit their website . To contact them email them firstname.lastname@example.org