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July 28, 2014, 6:20 am

‘Breaking Down Barriers’ set for Nov. 24

Sabrina Hugh is an attractive, highly motivated and very compassionate woman.

She is also a victim of rape. 

Hugh has had several close family members and friends suffer and die from AIDS, her faith in Jesus Christ helped her overcome the enormous pain and loss she has experienced, and she’s presenting her 2nd annual “Breaking Down Barriers, Overcoming Obstacles” public forum on Nov. 24 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the African American Museum, 701 Arch St. This event will include prayer, an expert panel discussion, youth performances and the keynote speaker is Maria Davis, celebrity Hip Hop Promoter and HIV/AIDS survivor. The event is open to the public.

“This year will be my second annual, but I’ve been educating and speaking about AIDS and domestic violence since I was 23,” Hugh said.  “This event is for everybody.” Hugh urges women, men, and children to attend her event.

Hugh, 43, is a local Philadelphian, a mother of two young children, and a member of Bible Way Baptist Church, 52nd and Master streets where the Rev. Dr. Damone B. Jones is senior pastor.

“Our goal is to promote an evening of [activities and information] for families that have faced hardship with HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and bring widespread awareness to the growing statistics,” said Hugh.  She wants to “plant a seed of hope, inspiring those to live past their circumstances and be a guided light to encourage [others] to love life and live to love.”

Responding to a question as to why the event is so significant, Hugh said “It’s an important subject to me because, on the domestic violence side, I was raped at 14, my mom was an abused wife and I watched a lot of my friends get killed.” 

Hugh’s father, aunt and close friend all died of AIDS. For Hugh, this event and her public activism is all about saving lives, she believes that many lives are being lost because of public ignorance and the lack of information and resources about domestic abuse and AIDS, “It’s a matter of life and death for so many of our young people and adults.”

A New York Times news article written by Roni Caryn Rabin, Dec. 14, 2011, reports that nearly 1 in 5 women in America admit to being sexually assaulted, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (a Center for Disease Control health surveillance initiative), the article reported that “Sexual violence affects women disproportionately, the researchers found. One-third of women said they had been victims of a rape, beating or stalking, or a combination of assaults.”

Hugh credits her Christian faith in helping her overcome the mental and physical pain of her rape/domestic abuse, “I can only say it was God. And the reason why I say it was God, is because through all the things I have been through, it was only His grace that kept me.”  Hugh believes she has an obligation to speak out, she has faith that her public activism will help the healing process of other victims to eventually overcome similar pain and abuse.

“You have children dying of AIDS because they’re having unprotected sex. You have young boys, young girls who don’t even know their body who are commencing to do (sexual) acts that they have watched on TV, that they may have seen in their house, and you have this ‘crack generation’ where children are raising themselves.  Then you have the naysayers, the people who are holier-than-thou who may know God’s Word, but don’t know what’s going on in this world.  They’re only looking at [things] from one point of view, instead of actually looking at what’s really going on.  Times [have] changed.  The world’s changed, and people need to catch-up with what’s going on!”

As a teen, Hugh was raped by a member of her family.  To avoid public scandal, shame and embarrassment, Hugh was instructed to keep silent about the incident, “In my case, I was told not to speak about it by a parent.  And actually, my aunt who died of AIDS was the one who came and protected me and helped me get through it.”

In a Dec. 14, 2011 press release, the Center for Disease Control reported that:

·       On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in America.  Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men.

·       1 in 4 women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.

·       Approximately 80 percent of female victims of rape were first raped before age 25.

·       More than 1/4 of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.

·       Female victims of violence had a significantly higher prevalence of long-term health problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, frequent headaches, chronic pain, and difficulty sleeping.

The featured guest speaker for Hugh’s event is Maria Davis, a New York based music promoter and Ebony/Essence model.  In the mid 90’s, Davis was a hugely successful hip hop music promoter, one of her A-list clients was rap super-star and business mogul Jay-Z.  When completing an application for a life insurance policy, Davis was required to take an AIDS test, it came back positive.  Davis had unknowingly contracted HIV from her fiancé; three short years later, she was diagnosed with the deadly disease AIDS.  Davis channeled her pain and turned her tragic situation into an opportunity to become an HIV/AIDS activist, she currently serves as a national spokesperson for World AIDS Day.  Other presenters joining Davis at Hugh’s event will be Mothers In Charge, a medical doctor, performing artists, and other special guests.

For more information about purchasing tickets for the Breaking Down Barriers, Overcoming Obstacles event, or to secure Sabrina Hugh for speaking engagements, please call (267) 346-5369 or (610) 209-2256.