Kim Belew - Waking Up In America

Kim Belew

Transcript of S2 EP13 Episode: Overcoming Abuse and Finding Freedom (with Kim Belew)

TAJCI:
She speaks about the unspeakable because it’s a part of her healing and a part of empowering other victims of rape and abuse to break the silence and cycles of shame and guilt and heal as well. My guest today is a conscious rapper, an inspirational speaker Kim Belew and we talked about how finding a safe, supportive and non-judgmental community rooted in love brought much-needed turning point into her life.

BUMPER:
I’m Tajci. At 19 I was a superstar and I was lost inside. I left it all behind, switched continents and started all over. Years later I found myself lost again, this time in the American Dream. This is a story about awakening. About living the life you were created for. About going inward and discovering the joyous and purposeful person you and I are both meant to be. This is Waking Up in America.

TAJCI:
Kim, welcome!

KIM:
It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

TAJCI:
Thank you and I have to say that, you know, exactly why you’re speaking I feel that. I feel that uncomfortable feeling of I’d rather not know and yet I know. Through doing the show I met so many women like you who’s saying, talking about these uncomfortable things is part of healing. When I was preparing for today’s episode I was thinking where do we start? As I thought why don’t you start with some of your poetry?

KIM:
All right.

TAJCI:
Bring us into it.

KIM:
I can do that. Yeah. So I can start with them Freedom or I could start with The Gift, which is a song that I wrote. So I’ll do a verse from The Gift. I wrote this song, you know, about my journey and so I’ll do just the first verse from The Gift.
Not long ago all I can say is all that I have is failure and pain
I couldn’t look up, I didn’t know love, the best I could do is try to show up
It wasn’t long ago I took the wrong path
Once so far down I didn’t think I’d come back
Times were so hard and there were times it was abused
You know living on the street was all that I knew
A short time ago my spirit felt shattered
Haven’t looked at faith, never really mattered
I tried for so long, was at the end of my rope
Ready to give in, I was losing all hope
But I walk toward this light, I couldn’t resist
Without ever knowing it was there I’d find the gift

TAJCI:
Thank you. And the gift is?

KIM:
The gift of love. The gift is hope. The gift is light.

TAJCI:
Kim, your path to that love, and that light, and that hope seemed to have taken a long, long, long hard road.

KIM:
It is.

TAJCI:
And tell us a little bit about what you do is conscious rap. Tell us a little bit of what is that.

KIM:
Conscious rap to me is a little bit different than, let’s say positive rap or something. Conscious is more like I’m aware, I’m being very aware of what I’m saying and I want there to always be a message of hope at the end of it but I’m still going to talk about some of the hard stuff as well. So it might be a little bit different than something that’s constantly positive but it is conscious and it’s aware and it’s hopeful.

TAJCI:
So that means you talk about hard stuff in your songs.

KIM:
Yeah, I do. I do. Yeah.

TAJCI:
How does that help in your, what you do now how does that help others? What do you see?

KIM:
Well what I see is that I’m sharing my own journey and my own healing and other people were relating to that. Wherever they are on their own journey they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been through that. I’ve experienced that.” And so they, too, are you know connecting to it. They may be in a point where they are not feeling the hope and the love and they hear a song and for them to say, “A rap song made me feel hope, made me feel loved, made me feel connected,” that’s a big deal. And I’m here to change the face of rap as well.

TAJCI:
Oh, beautiful. And you know when you say, okay, so it’s positive but you talk about hard things. Sometimes I feel you know we’re tiptoeing around these hard issues and the people who need healing are looking to catch the words that hurt them. Isn’t that right?

KIM:
Yeah.

TAJCI:
So when I read your story I love how you’re so direct. There’s no wrapping it up in a pretty bow.

KIM:
Right.

TAJCI:
Yeah. Really appreciate that. As much as it’s gonna make us uncomfortable. So one thing that, you know, when I was reading about your story, so these are the words that cut through: your stepfather started sexually abusing you the age of 11, took you to his friends to abuse you as well and even took you to an abortion clinic to terminate two pregnancies and yet when you tried to tell your religious community in which your stepfather was an elder

KIM:
Well, when I tried to tell them, they, you know, they were mad at me because he was a beloved person in the community and so I was chastised and taken into a room where I was basically told that I was wrong for even saying anything about this beautiful elder of theirs and how could I prove that these things were true.

TAJCI:
And you came, you spoke to them you were already, that was already years after the abuse started, right?

KIM:
Right, yeah. It was about 7 years after.

TAJCI:
7 years in silence. So take us, tell us how did that feel.

KIM:
When I brought that out?

TAJCI:
No, living in that silence. Living in the horror.

KIM:
That was what I would consider hell, you know. A lot of people talk about Hell being a place you go after you die but that was what I call hell. And you know, it basically changed me. You know, so if someone wanted to talk about the shadow and the light, I became the shadow and I embodied that because I didn’t know how. I lived with a constant storm inside of me that I couldn’t talk about and so I had a dual personality. I had the personality that everyone saw and then I had the personality that was surviving everything and living it and it was very hard. It was very difficult and I changed.

TAJCI:
Wow. So your personality changed and yet so now helping to understand you are, you know, you are connected, you are aware of God.

KIM:
I was aware of God through the church but it was their God and so it was a God I didn’t like and I thought He hated me.

TAJCI:
Yes.

KIM:
That was because that’s what I was being told by my stepfather and that the reason that he was doing a lot of the things was for punishment, you know, and so I’m living in this church where were all being taught that it’s all about punishment and reprimanding and you know. So I believe that in this horrible God and so I would rather not believe in God than to believe in this God.

TAJCI:
Right. So you’re dealing with punishment, with shame, with guilt, with darkness in which you’re wrapped up as a little girl. You’re talking about from the age of 11 until about 17.

KIM:
Right.

TAJCI:
We’re talking to Kim Belew, victim and survivor of child rape and abuse and when we come back we’ll talk a little bit more about the dark place but then we’ll find out what helped her. How she is now inspiring and healing others in our world.


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TAJCI:
We’re talking to Kim Belew, a conscious rapper and inspirational speaker who speaks for the victims of rape and abuse. So, Kim, thank you so much for sharing your story and being so courageous. So we’re at the point where you know, you’re in the dark, dark place, you don’t have anyone to speak to, nobody wants to hear you and you turn to substance abuse.

KIM:
Yeah and you know it seemed only natural to do that and the other thing, the other side of it is my stepfather sold alcohol for a living and so the flipside of all of it was that it was the one thing I was allowed to do in my household because everyone drank and with the strict religion that was the one thing that you were able to do. And so I did start drinking at an early age and I found that it helped me feel like I was out of my body so that I could survive and so it actually was a really good friend to me for years and it probably enabled me to get through. But it also created this addiction that damaged my life later on.

TAJCI:
Yes so what happened? Take us to how you had you ended up in a psychiatric ward.

KIM:
I did. Yeah. So I brought the abuse at 18, got married at 18 to get out of my house and at 19 I fell apart. I completely lost my mind and the substance abuse was so deep and so terrible that I was acting out and and it wasn’t me. It was that Jekyll and Hyde that you hear about. A lot of the substance abuse and so I had that going on within me and so I got committed to first a local psych ward and then I spent about 9 months there before I went to court and they deemed me mentally incompetent and sent me to a state
mental facility.

TAJCI:
Was that your initiative to go?

KIM:
No. I was taken to the psych ward by my husband and a friend at that time because I was, I mean the abuse was just coming and I didn’t know what I was feeling. I had never really talked about it since I brought it out to those elders. I sort of went and retreated within and so it was just the feelings were coming.

TAJCI:
Yes, how do you even have a relationship with a man after?

KIM:
Yeah, I didn’t. That’s what the problem was. And I didn’t realize what was going on about three months into the marriage. I just fell apart because anytime he would try to touch me or be near me I just couldn’t stand it and I didn’t know why and he didn’t know why. He was so kind and you know, 21 years old and he didn’t understand what was going on either. And I was being so mean to him but I didn’t know why, that’s why, because all of this stuff was flooding me and I was just acting out.

TAJCI:
So I hear these women who have very similar experience is that the system fails you. Nobody knows you’re going through it. Do you see that maybe we have better tools now that work on recognize women, girls are being helped or?

KIM:
I’m not sure. I haven’t been in that. Like I went through a Women’s Crisis Center at the time and there were some people that were very helpful but what really helped me was there was specific nurses in the hospital that really took time out to see what was going on with me. They weren’t just medicating me, they weren’t, because that’s what the doctors were doing. They were just medicating what I was acting like and the nurses were coming in on their days off and sitting with me and really like trying to talk to me and they they saved my life they really did because they gave me just enough nurturing and caring and love that I had never received that it enabled me to get that step towards getting sober and then towards healing.

TAJCI:
And but you didn’t share your story with them?

KIM:
I know they do a little bit. They knew a little bit. And my mom had died at this point in a car accident and my stepfather and so that was there was like huge trauma and so they knew a little bit of backstory. They knew that I had been abused and they knew that there was like they died in the middle of that and so they knew it was very traumatic and then I was married and my husband had left and I was only 20. Like you know, all of this was going on and they were like just really nurturing me.

TAJCI:
Yes, I mean that when, you know, when you describe the darkness and the silence I want to know how do I know? I want to help you but how do I know you’re suffering? And I think you said and another person that I talked to said that’s why people like you are speaking out.

KIM:
Exactly. That’s what it is because I did when at the time when I was doing that no one was talking about this kind of stuff openly and so part of what I figured feel my mission is is to speak openly so that others can hear. And even if they don’t ever come out and do what I’m doing they know that they’re not alone and maybe they’ll tell somebody. Maybe they’ll feel like they can heal. And so that’s part of my purpose. The whole reason that I might have gone through all of this is so that I can help others have a voice

TAJCI:
Oh, you’re so generous, so kind and really I can’t express enough how grateful I am as a mother, as a woman, and as a human. So your mother and stepfather dying in a car crash was the first turning point toward healing?

KIM:
It was. It was actually, I say this and a lot of people don’t understand it but I say that the greatest gift my mom gave me was that she died because if she had lived I probably would have died and so I think she, somehow the universe hits it said, you know, she needs to go and she was like, “this is the biggest gift I can give you is that I can go so that you can heal.”

TAJCI:
Did she know that this was happening?

KIM:
I, you know, when I brought it out, of course and she may have known. I think I tried to tell her when I was 15 and when I did she said something to me which was, “You know, my Dad did something to me when I was a little girl and I didn’t tell my mom because it would break her heart,” and to me that was her saying, “I don’t want to know because it’ll break my heart.” And so my mom had her own pain

TAJCI:
Yes.

KIM:
And her own things and I think when when she passed away she was carrying a lot of pain and she felt like the biggest gift she could give me was to release me, to give me that freedom to go on and live. And I got sober within three months and started the journey out of the darkness

TAJCI:
We’re talking to Kimberly Belew, conscious rapper, inspirational speaker who is breaking the silence and breaking the cycle of pain and shame and guilt that the victims of rape and abuse get stuck in. When we come back we’ll talk about how Kim is helping others to heal.


TAJCI:
We’re talking to Kim Belew about a hard hard stuff. And as we’re talking during the break tell us about that that just just cutting through all the fluff and just being real.

KIM:
Since I’ve started to music I’ve really felt called to be really, really authentic and more real as I’ve grown in the music and I felt like it’s really important for me to just tell the truth. Tell the truth behind the music
and so that song, my song The Seed is talking about how the community that helped me find that gift also we’re walking out on me as I took the stage and how hard that was. And I tell that story so that people understand that you can still stay in it and you can still be in your gift even when those hard things are happening.

TAJCI:
Because you learn how to stay in discomfort, you spend a lot of your life numbing from it. But once you healed you now realize that running from pain is not going to do any good.

KIM:
Right, yeah.

TAJCI:
And so staying with this comfort, so now, you even I’m sure as you speak, do you get criticism? Like, why do we have to talk about this?

KIM:
Yeah, even like even the things that I’ve posted on Facebook, some big things, or speaking they’re like, “Why do you need to talk about that?” You said it now let’s not talk about it anymore. And there’s a lot of uncomfortableness and there’s a lot of fear that comes up for people and I’m like that’s why because I wanted to one day be that were not uncomfortable to talk about these things well and I hope there will be one day when we would not have to even talk about that because that would not happen.

KIM:
Right.

TAJCI:
You know, I know that there’s so many people out there, so many women that you know, when when I when I read that first sentence you know there’s too much that hits home. We’ve all, a lot of us had you know some version of it, some experience of being abused of not being dignified not being treated with respect, of being treated like, you know, like you were

KIM:
Like a product and you know I think it’s time to give voice to that. As I was telling you I created this thing called One Voice At A Time where I hope that One Voice At A Time of people like me and you were speaking out, that one day it will be that there won’t be as many victims because we’ll be so supportive and so loved and the perpetrators won’t feel so empowered. Because right now they feel empowered because there’s so much silence and shame.

TAJCI:
And shame

KIM:
And I don’t want to carry that anymore so I’m breaking that.

TAJCI:
When was the big turning point that you were able to release that shame?

KIM:
It’s still happening. So let me say that you know I don’t want to like mislead people that it just goes away but that the big turning point would be I read the book The Four Agreements and probably about 12 years ago that book came across and I had been sober for a little while and I started reading the book and it questions everything that you are, everything that you believe about yourself and write it down and look at it. And I started writing down what I’ve been carrying that was no longer the truth of who I was and how do I release that. And it was a big turning point for me and being like I no longer want to carry the shame because I’m still giving power to my stepdad and to everything that happened.

TAJCI:
That’s a very hard thing to do. So take us a little bit deeper into that when you say, “release everything that I wasn’t”.

KIM:
It’s a process. So I won’t say like, you know, I found out 90% of what I believed wasn’t me and I just dropped it and started living it, but what it was is I looked at those things that I was believing and I started to

TAJCI:
So you write it down?

KIM:
I wrote it down. I made a list. I had a column that said, “this is what I believe about myself,” because the book says go back as far as you can remember, what’s the first thing you believe about yourself? Mine was I’m a Tomboy Girl which means I’m not right as a girl. My family was saying girls act like this and I wasn’t acting that way. And so I carried that belief and how did I compound it is I went through life? How
did I carry that into school? How did I carry that into everything? And so I start to change that which is I’m perfect just the way I am, you know, as a girl

TAJCI:
Yes.

KIM:
You know and so those are the things and so I had to like one by one you start to and I still have to do it, I still have to make those lists and look at it because we continue to build that. Society tells us so much.

TAJCI:
Yes, it’s a daily practice, right? To kind of like make an inventory: What am I? Who am I? and What am I not?

KIM:
Right.

TAJCI:
And then you found the community that you say was not judgmental and supportive and safe. Tell us about that.

KIM:
Well it was first I walked into a Unity Church so which is a, you know, it was very open and loving. It was the first time I’d ever heard at a church someone say, “No matter who you are, what you’ve done or where you’ve been, you are loved and you’re perfect, and you are whole.” And I just melted and I sobbed and I sobbed and it was there that I began to find this community of that I’d never heard of before and I was like, “Oh my god, I’m okay. No matter what I’ve done.” And I’ve done some pretty bad things that I thought, you know, and so it was so wonderful and it was so healing and I want to create that for other people.

TAJCI:
Yeah we’re talking to Kim Belew. You are loved no matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve gone through, nor what you did, you are allowed.


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TAJCI:
Kim thank you so much for sharing your hard story and for your work that you do to heal others.

KIM:
Thank you for having me.

TAJCI:
I have a question from a viewer from Kelsey from Overland Park. She wants to know what did it take for you to feel your honor and dignity restored to your value?

KIM:
The beginning of it took me first of all releasing some of those beliefs that weren’t true and standing in and being around the people that could affirm that with me so that community that I found that kept telling me, “You are okay. You are loved. You are enough. You’re perfect just the way you are,” that helped. And when I started to write music and I started to allow the flow of the healing to come through those words and to stand on a stage fearful and allow that to flow out—all of that helped me in whatever way it is that a person can find that you know, their own healing, their own voice, their own release. That’s how I honor myself and by sitting here today and talking to you and by telling the truth even if it’s hard.

TAJCI:
Finding that dignity and being able to respect your own body and love your body that that was a source of so much suffering for you.

KIM:
I had to learn to that it was okay. I didn’t walk into every room and think I have to give myself to you in order for you to be kind to me, you know? And that took every one of those beliefs that I had to release because I believe that all I was good for was to be used in that way. And so it was one of those beliefs that was on that list that it took me changing and it took time and it took constant honoring, you know and realizing I’m sacred.

TAJCI:
Thank you. Thank you for saying that. I think it’s so important that we teach our sons and daughters that you don’t have to give yourself in order to be loved in any way.

KIM:
Right

TAJCI:
To have those boundaries and that respect for you as a sacred place.

KIM:
Absolutely. Yeah. And I learned that as an adult but I’m so grateful because so many don’t ever learn that.

TAJCI:
Yes. Wow thank you so much. Alright so we’ll look we’ll go a little bit lighter now and we’re doing one word answers.

KIM:
All right.

TAJCI:
All right. Ready? What brings you the most joy?

KIM:
Music

TAJCI:
One thing you are most grateful for?

KIM:
Life

TAJCI:
Your biggest fear?

KIM:
Failing

TAJCI:
Your biggest challenge?

KIM:
Ego

TAJCI:
If you could be anywhere in the world right now you’d be?

KIM:
Right here

TAJCI:
Your favorite food?

KIM:
Thai

TAJCI:
Nice. Top things on your bucket list?

KIM:
To travel in Australia to perform music

TAJCI:
Oh that’s nice. One thing you’d like to be more of?

KIM:
Authentic

TAJCI:
Tea or coffee?

KIM:
Coffee

TAJCI:
House or apartment?

KIM:
House

TAJCI:
Fly or drive?

KIM:
Fly.

TAJCI:
Summer or winter?

KIM:
Summer

TAJCI:
Last photo you took on your phone?

KIM:
Right here.

TAJCI:
All that our world needs is?

KIM:
Love

TAJCI:
If I could abolish anything from the earth it would be?

KIM:
Pain

TAJCI:
This year I claim?

KIM:
Joy

TAJCI:
We’re here in this beautiful old gallery and have you ever done art?

KIM:
I have.

TAJCI:
As a part of your healing or?

KIM:
I did a little bit of it when I was in the hospital and then I’ve done like done some stuff called Cheers Art
where they take it’s almost like a paint-by-numbers. They take you through and you do a painting. So that’s been fun. But yeah, I have done art and doodling—a bit more abstract. But this is beautiful and I really love it

TAJCI:
Yes, we just love how Olga’s art, it just radiates from wherever you look.

KIM:
Yeah.

TAJCI:
And storytelling. She’s a storyteller and so you are also storyteller through your spoken word poetry

KIM:
Absolutely.

TAJCI:
How did you learn how to do that?

KIM:
I don’t know. It just is something that’s naturally there. And it’s funny I didn’t know it was there. Someone else saw that in me. So that’s the funny thing about our gifts sometimes. We don’t we aren’t aware of them and someone else sees that in me and so I was a DJ and I did karaoke is part of my thing and part of that is doing the first song to get people comfortable. And I can’t sing so I’ll rap and I did it. And everybody’s saying like, “You did that really well!” So then I rapped in a unity picnic and a music director saw me and said, “I want you to do this on a Sunday.”

TAJCI:
Wow.

KIM:
And from there he said, “Write your own song” and I was like, “I don’t write songs” and he said, “Yeah, you’re a songwriter,” and then history has been made ever since. And he awakened something in me that I didn’t know was there. And so I tell people, don’t always believe that you know or don’t know because I have a purpose and I didn’t know I had a purpose.

TAJCI:
I think that’s very courageous of you to then start writing poetry like that

KIM:
Yes.

TAJCI:
I really admire that.

KIM:
Yeah, he saw it. I don’t know how but he saw it started flowing and and it was just coming and it’s been coming ever since.

TAJCI:
Yeah, so tell us about the piece that you’re gonna perform for us, share with us

KIM:
Oh, the freedom peace. So what’s wonderful about this piece is that a friend of mine who’s from Nigeria,
from the gang-ridden areas of Nigeria, came to this country and he wrote a musical called “Be Hopeful” because he wants to talk about the hope that can come out of anything. And he called us all together he said, “I’m going to give you a word and you get to do whatever you want with that word”. And so he gave me the word “Freedom” and he said, “Now you write whatever comes to you about the word freedom.” And I opened the musical with that piece—the piece that I’m about to share, I open this musical called “Be Hopeful” and it’s all about my interpretation of what freedom is and it’s really powerful.

TAJCI:
Wow, thank you so much.

KIM:
Yeah.

TAJCI:
Enjoy.

KIM:
Freedom where does it come from
What does it mean?
Is it freedom from places for freedom from things?
Is it freedom of thought, freedom of word,
Or freedom to be who we came to be in this world?
Is it freedom from abuse, or freedom from pain,
Freedom from a bottle or much greater things?
Is it freedom from a person, a horrible home,
Or freedom from the fear of being alone?
Is it freedom to sleep in a warm comfy place,
Or freedom to choose where you work and you play?
The freedom to me is it’s all these things and more
Within our mind is where we’ll find the door
Yes, we hold the key to unlocking our light
To uncover our greatest shining so bright
To letting go of fear, truly letting ourselves be
That to me is what it means to be free
So I let my light shine giving others a chance
To see their own unique light so they too, can be free

TAJCI:
I wish you to find that freedom and let your light shine so you too can bring healing into our world. Thank you so much for being with us, watching this episode and sharing it with your friends. I’m counting on you to help us spread these stories because they are important. I also want to encourage you to come to our website WakingUpRevolution.com and connect with Kim, our guest and with her music and her message and also consider supporting our show through patreon.com/wakingup because these stories are important and needs to be told. Thank you so much for watching we’ll see you next time.