This week our guest is Druw Biello. Druw has created a platform called, "That is Freedom."
"That Is Freedom is more than a social media page. It is an awareness campaign & an educational platform. Our purpose is to help educate the community about concepts such as: consent, rape culture, sexual violence, dating violence, mental illness, and more. Through advocacy, educational articles, fundraising, merchandise, and awareness movements, That Is Freedom hopes to educate the public and raise awareness about the issues listed above." “Together We Are Survivor Strong”
Druw and I discuss her own experience with sexual violence and abuse and why she started her platform. We discuss things that she used in her own healing that have helped her, the importance of writing and not keeping everything bottled up. We talk about her Raise up for Awareness Movement, where every month last year, she educated her community on a different stigmatized topic. She truly is working to make a change and you can hear it in her episode.
Check out her blog post below, and her podcast episode here.
What was the change that you saw that needed to be addressed?
It was a few months after I had reported my ex boyfriend to the police for sexual abuse. The
investigation fell through due to lack of evidence and I was frustrated. I had finally gotten the
courage to report, years later, and I was left feeling like many survivors do. hopeless... I decided
that I wanted to do more for survivors. I wanted to create a place that was safe and hopeful for
survivors, but that also taught others about what we had and have to go through. I wanted to
make a difference for survivors. I turned my Instagram account, That Is Freedom, into something
more than just a social media platform. I turned into an awareness campaign for survivors.
What is the impact you hope to make?
I hope that That Is Freedom is place where people in my community come to be educated on
any number of social issues that we focus on.
Tell us about your Rising up for Awareness Movement.
Rising Up For Awareness movement was just one way we could help educate our community
about different social issues. We covered 12 topics, for each month, from December 2018 to De-
cember 2019. My first favorite topic I covered was Sexual assault Awareness month in April.
That Is Freedom was founded off of my experiences from sexual assault, so it was a super impor-
tant topic to cover in our Rising Up For Awareness movement. Another topic was our second
topic we ever covered, which was about suicide. A dear friend of mine lost a family member to
suicide and it opened my eyes to see how families and the community is so shaken by the lost of
somebody by suicide. I wanted to make sure that our community knew more about suicide and
anybody thinking about it, knew there were other options. I myself have had my battles with sui-
cide and its not an easy thing to battle, but I hope people in our community know we are here for
them. The third topic I really loved that we chose to focus on was, ending victim blaming, which
was covered June 2019. Victim blaming is something that a lot of survivors of sexual violence go
through, including me. I was sexually assaulted by my second boyfriend, the summer after Hugh
school graduation and when I tried to talk to him about it, he blamed me for it all, and that really
hurt. He told his mom and she even said “boys will be boys” and thats something that really hurt
me and I eventually ended up leaving him because things couldn’t be worked out for the better
between us. I just wanted survivors of sexual violence to be reminded that its never their fault
and I wanted to educate the community that victim blaming is not accurate and its never the victim’s fault.One of the graphics I made and posted says “No matter the drink, no matter the
dress.” Because it doesn’t matter what they were wearing or what they wore, sexual violence is
never the victim’s fault.
Tell us about Tough in Teal.
Tough In Teal was originally used as the slogan Rising Up For Awareness movement topic of
sexual assault awareness, April 2019. Tough In Teal is our newest education program, specifically focusing on sexual assault and rape. This education program will continue past the month of
April. We are super excited to continuing educating our community and we hope you guys enjoy
this new education program as much as we do!
If you could give advice to a sexual violence survivor, what would it be?
As a survivor of abuse, sexual assault, and rape, there isn’t one piece of advice I’d
give, but to take time to heal. Heal at your own pace, because the healing process is hard. It’s full
of ups and downs, good days and bad ones. Some survivors, like myself, develop PTSD, and it
goes frustrating, but remember that time is the greatest healer. It’s hard, but with time, we will
heal. It will all be okay one day, just have faith in the process. Writing is something I found help-
ful for me to heal. I wrote all the time and that helped me express things bottled up and vent
when I didn’t want to burden others with my demons.
What advice would you give someone who wants to help someone who has experienced sexual violence?
Let them talk to you when they are ready. Give them, time to come to you and don’t rush them
to “move on”. That was always the hardest thing to get people to understand with my healing. I
wasn’t just going to move on. I needed time to process, but eventually, I got better, on my own.
So don’t rush others to heal, or to talk to you. Give them time.
#MeToo on their Instagram page and I knew that they were a friend, a survivor like me,, and
knowing that you aren’t alone, helps a lot. It gives you hope that others know what demons you
are up against.
Do you think is mental health is being addressed, in relation to rape survivors and in general, effectively in the US? Where do you think there's still room for improvement?
Mental health can always be addressed better in the United States. I love this country, but we
have some work to do. PTSD is still being seen as something only combat veterans develop, and
that’s exactly something I addressed in December for my last topic of Rising Up For Awareness
movement. It’s a major issue that survivors face when seeking professional help.
Do you feel that having a support system is important?
Having a support system is huge. If a survivor doesn’t have anything else, but a support system, they are lucky. I was fortunate and grateful at the time that when I reported my ex boyfriend
for sexual abuse, I had surrounded by people who cared and who helped me through it. I was dating a great guy at the time who was there for me whenever I needed him. He never once rushed me to heal or to move on. He read up on how to help a loved one who was a survivor of sexual assault. He read up on PTSD, etc... He was a great support system. My best friends were also there for me. One of my best friends actually went with me to report my ex and she held my hand through the whole process and I’ll forever be grateful for that. My sister was also there for
me. She let me vent to her and was there for me when I needed her to be. Having a support system is everything and I’m so grateful for mine.
What are some of the struggles you had when you started That is Freedom?
The struggles I had when I made That Is Freedom an awareness campaign was that I felt
alone and I felt betrayed by the legal system. I waited years to report my ex for the abuse and
they didn’t take my case seriously. They actually just called him and left him a voicemail. Thats
it. That's all they did to get his side of the story or to question him a suspect. So I was frustrated
and I wanted to create change for survivors, and I hope I’ve accomplished that.
What are some of your successes?
I honestly don’t know what successes I’ve had. That might sound stupid, but I don’t have a
lot of followers. I don’t get a lot of people reaching out to me that I’ve helped them or changed
their life. I don’t get a lot business on my online store that sells our gear. I just keep posting and
sharing and I hope I reach somebody. Every time somebody likes a post, or shares it, I try to see
that as a win. The We Will organization reached out to me and wanted me to be the woman of the week and I was super honored. You reached out and wanted to record this podcast episode and I feel extremely honored to do. Those things are successes for me. So thank you.
What inspires you to keep going?
Survivors and our community inspire me to keep going. I struggle a lot with if i”m making a
difference and if the effort I put in to running this awareness campaign is actually worth it, but I
keep going for all of those people’s lives I might have helped or might help in the past. Even if I
can touch one person’s life, thats enough for me to keep going.
What is the best way to get in touch with That is Freedom?
Best way to get in touch with us is through DM.
What are your social media handles?
Instagram handle is: that_is_freedom
Survivor, Advocate, Writer, Fighter.
Druw C. Biello established That Is Freedom as a result of being involved in a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship in high school. Discouraged and broken, she became determined to find a way to heal herself, and help heal others.