TW: Physical, Sexual, Emotional Abuse Please be aware that this conversation involves discussions of abuse, along with hope, and healing. If this topic might be triggering for you, we recommend waiting to read when you are in a better place or with a loved one for support.
Hi, Lexx! Tell us about yourself.
My name is Leontina. My nickname is Lexx/Lexxy. I'm 22 y.o. and I'm from Serbia. My zodiac sign is Aquarius (haha). I'm adventurous and hedonist, I like books and photography, and also I write poems. My profession is nursing. I'm a sexual abuse survivor and a current HearMe Listener.
How do you identify under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella?
I'm actually sapiosexual!
What is “Sapiosexual”?
Sapiosexuality means that a person is attracted to intelligent people and they consider it to be the most important trait in a partner. They focus more on their potential mate's intelligence instead of their looks. Sapiosexuality has no limitations. You can like men, women, trans people, bisexual people, or any person of any gender or sexual identity.
How did you become a Listener for HearMe and how long have you been with us?
So, I found the HearMe app by accident. I was fighting with myself after a break up and I needed a conversation. The HearMe app was just what I needed. After a few days of using the app, I somehow found myself in the role of a Listener. I finished the Listener training and that's how my adventure began. I've been in that role for almost a month now, so I'm relatively new.
HearMe OUT centers the lived experiences and first-hand storytelling of our LGBTQIA+ members in an effort to foster greater empathy and compassion within each of us. What’s your story?
I can say that I had a really difficult childhood and my father made it worse with beatings and neglect. From a very young age, I fought with discrimination and disrespect mostly because of how I looked.
In elementary school, kids hung out with me because I was smart and had good grades. They took advantage of that. I’ve always been a person who wanted to help people. Instead of just asking me to study together, they pretended to be my friends in order to copy my notes and achieve their goals. They would joke about me later. That led me to being antisocial and not trusting people lightly.
In high school, I started a romantic relationship with a girl. My parents accidentally found out about it. Then my nightmare started. I was physically and psychologically tortured by my dad. That went so far that at one point he tried to kill me. My parents divorced and my mother later found another man, but sadly that man started to torture me as well. Also, during that period I was sexually abused. I helped a guy who needed some medical advice and when we met, he assaulted and abused me. At that moment, I mentally deteriorated, so I ran away from home and started living with the girl that I was in a relationship with. I got anxious, depressed, aggressive and I was angry with myself for trusting someone so easily again. Whenever I went out, everything around me became dark and terrifying. I saw people laughing at me (but no one ever looked at me). My relationship had also become unbearable. She cheated on me, lied to me and started arguing and physically abusing me. After high school, we broke up.
One whole year later, I healed myself. I tried to become a better version of myself. The best period for me started after that, when I started a new relationship. I fell for her from the beginning and it was actually my first time falling in love. She is the most lovable and the most supportive person I've ever met. I was in an environment which was not cruel for different people, I didn't have to hide and I felt so loved and happy. But sadly, we broke up because of a misunderstanding.
My life from knowing myself to this very day is always some kind of a fight.
Thank you for sharing such intimate details. I’m sorry to read about the early abuse and assault you mentioned. I can see that you didn’t get the support and acceptance you needed from your parents. Was there anyone in your life then or now that affirms who you are?
A small number of my friends and colleagues actually know that I have a different sexual orientation. Those people are very supportive and I'm very thankful to have them in my life.
You’ve mentioned people or the environment being “cruel.” What do you mean by that?
People from small towns in Serbia are not very inclined to accept differences. Moreover, they are very prone to discrimination and rejection of people who in some way do not fit into the applied value pattern. For example, if a person likes to dress alternatively, they are labeled and called out as a member of the sect. If someone is of different sexual orientation, they are insulted for what they are. There are many more examples… People here are mostly guided by the "fact" that "any difference is bad".
How has being a survivor of sexual assault and abuse impacted your mental health?
After the sexual abuse and other mental and physical assaults, I became anxious, depressed and aggressive. I had problems with self-confidence and trust. I mentally fell and closed myself off. I didn't want to go to school or go outside. Moreover, I did not want to talk to anyone. After a while, I managed to come out from my shell and depression with the help of a pet (bunny) that I had. I started going for walks, sitting in the park, talking a little with the people around me. I took small steps followed by the slightly bigger ones until I managed to overcome everything that happened to me.
What has your experience been as a Listener?
I can say that I am very happy to be part of the HearMe community. I am very happy that by just actively listening and suggesting, I can help people who need it. My experience so far tells me that no matter how different we are or how we express ourselves, we are all human. Lack of trust, lack of support between partners, problems with personal understanding or respect for our own bodies... each of us can be impacted by the same thing. The best thing we can do is listen and support each other on that path of overcoming problems.
How has being a Listener for HearMe supported your healing?
Being a Listener actually helps me a lot in my daily functioning. Sometimes, just by listening to and suggesting certain things, I am reminded of my own strength and ability to do a lot of things. Sometimes I feel blocked, like I’m procrastinating or staying stuck in place in my life and I need to get moving.
Sometimes, I recognize there are parts of me that still need healing. I am reminded to listen to myself and to keep working on me. Active listening also helps me communicate with the people around me. It helps
me better understand myself and others. My level of patience also increased. Sometimes things are not as they seem and it takes time and patience to see and find out the real core of the problem.
What would having access to HearMe done for you during that time in your life?
Access to the HearMe, as I mentioned, helped me a lot in my daily functioning. Also, whenever I need someone to listen to me I access the app like any other person who is not a HearMe Listener. It certainly helps me in moments when I may have some dilemma about myself. Sometimes I just need a quality conversation that will lift me up. Being a Listener is certainly not easy because the range of problems we face is large. And it cannot be said that we are not empathetic to some of the stories that the speakers tell us. Everyone needs a Listener at some point, even when we think we can do everything ourselves.
How do you think HearMe could help people where you’re from now?
Personally, I know a lot of people who needed support at some point and someone to listen to them. People have not yet recovered mentally from quarantine and the coronavirus. Also, many people died by suicide after quarantine, and everything is spreading through the media and social networks. All this negative news affects the consciousness and mental health of the people around us. The media do not seem to be aware that the constant spread of negative aspects also has a negative effect on people. Unfortunately, all that news cannot be avoided. Likewise, the negative environment itself causes people to succumb mentally.
Many people also do not have self-confidence or are ashamed to tell someone they know from their environment what is on their mind. With the help of HearMe, anyone can tell the Listener at any time what is bothering them, without any problems or fear that they will be condemned. People really need HearMe.
What brings you joy these days?
I am happy when I go out every new day and see how Spring is more and more present. It is my pleasure when I sit on the grass and watch how everything around me is full of colors and life. Nature is really fascinating, pleasant and peaceful. I try to read as much as possible even when I have a lot of other obligations. I am currently reading the book "Liebe Radikal" by Veit Lindau. In addition, I am drawing the design of bird houses that I will set up in a couple of places in the village.