Updated: Aug 23, 2022
“I am evidence that regardless of what happens to you, you can get through it. You can move past it. You can grow. You can change for the better. I am evidence that there is more to that box, there is a human being there. It is not just a kit. This is a person.”
Ericka Murria is the absolute epitome of inspiring. When Ericka’s story touches your life, you cannot be anything other than truly inspired. She is driven to help others and bring about change in the most astounding way. Ericka is a survivor of rape and her story is featured in Mariska Hargitay and HBO’s powerful documentary I AM EVIDENCE.
I AM EVIDENCE exposes the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States through a character–driven narrative, bringing much needed attention to the disturbing pattern of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault survivors
Mariska Hargitay: “At its core, this issue is about survivors. What mattered most to me in making I AM EVIDENCE was bringing their stories into the light and giving them the space to tell their truths. And not just of their assaults, but of the effect of a flawed criminal justice system that left their rape kit untested and their cases unresolved.
I am deeply inspired by the advocates and survivors who have engaged in this work for decades. I AM EVIDENCE also allows us to shine a spotlight on the remarkable efforts in communities across America to bring an end to this injustice. With this film, as we elevate the voices of those most impacted, we aim to provoke outrage, mobilize the public, underline the urgency of this effort, and ultimately, join forces with advocates across this country to end the backlog.”
We met Ericka at the HBO headquarters in New York, for the official premiere of the documentary, and we were immediately struck by her wonderful warmth. Her story is both heartbreaking and inspirational.
You have turned your devastating ordeal of rape into an incredible fight for social justice. What gave you the inner strength to be a voice and be heard?
Ericka: “Turning my devastating ordeal of rape into a fight for social justice was truly a decision to fight for my personal freedom. I needed to be free from the bondage of shame. My desire to be "whole" was greater than my need to cover myself with masks as I had done in the past. My strength came from God.”
How did you find the process of making the I Am Evidence documentary?
Ericka: “The documentary crew found a colleague of mine, Kalimah Johnson, who is also in the film. She shared the info with me about the documentary being made and urged me to participate. The process was unimaginable at first thought and conversation. I talked myself out of it from the beginning. Once meeting Trish Adlesic and the film crew, everything flowed organically from there. A bond was formed, and it felt more like family from out of town was visiting.
Since the making of I Am Evidence has life changed for you in a positive way?
Ericka: “Since making the film, my life has changed in many ways. It’s been a journey and I am a witness that healing is possible.”
You have inspired many women to come forward and tell their stories of abuse, what advice would you give anyone who is struggling?
Ericka: “If someone is struggling with telling their story-- ITS OK! They never have to publicly share if they don’t want to. They are the most important part of the healing journey. Their mental & physical health is priority. When they are ready to share does not define their level of healing. I highly recommend in-person therapy sessions. even potentially psychiatric assistance if needed. Reliving that trauma is hard on the body. take it slow as needed with no expectations for self-other than self-care.”
In what ways are you still helping to raise awareness and how can anyone, wanting to get involved, help you?
Ericka: “I am still raising awareness through my nonprofit organization, Supreme Transitions, and my tee shirt company, "I am Evidence". My most recent event has been a 4-week series of nontraditional trauma informed support group meetings. Tee shirt sales help fund the campaigns through my nonprofit.”
What is your personal goal?
Ericka: “My personal goal is to redine myself for myself. I don't want to be defined as just the survivor from the film, I am more than that. I aspire to be an author, philanthropist, and national crisis intervention specialist that assists with training orgs and service providers on how to render care to women of color.”
Putting aside the difficult story matter, tell us what has been the most positive experience for you about being involved in the making of I Am Evidence?
Ericka: “Meeting so many BAD-ASS women!!!! The women in the film, Mariska, Trish, Geeta, the supporters and survivors who have reached out to me since the film debuted.”
When we met you at the HBO Headquarters in New York, for the official premiere of I Am Evidence, it was very moving seeing so many of the women from IAE on the stage for the Q&A. How did you feel sitting there that night?
Ericka: “That was a final edit of the film. It felt like I was seeing the film for the first time. I felt so much love and respect for Mariska as she was so authentic and determined to bring awareness to this social ill. she has treated the survivors in this film with the upmost respect. I hung on to every word she said. I felt it necessary to express my gratitude for her being so transparent & vulnerable. She is an awesome actress; however, this process has been no scene or farce. She has given me and others in this world of injustice her heart. I don’t take it lightly.”
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What woman inspires you the most and why?
Ericka: “Several women inspire me. I've been blessed with so many women to mentor me and pour into me after my mom passed away in 1999, (I was 16 years old). My grandmothers, Dorothy Murria and Frances Bazel. Recording Artists Karen Clark Sheard and Erykah Badu. Sharon Rose, Empowerment Temple Church Adino May, Victory Tabernacle church. Pattie Dexter, Overcomers church. Mrs. Bobbie Dumas, Montgomery, AL. MY AUNTS.
Actress / Activist Mariska Hargitay, Michelle Obama and Maya Angelou, who may have inspired me the most! She wore her multiple responsibilities with grace and charm. She was fearless and dedicated to using her thoughts to express our communities’ emotions. She loved hard. All of the positions she played in her life were priceless. It gave me the full understanding that I didn’t have to pick one thing to excel in my life or impact the world. I can be EVERYTHING congruently to give God the glory from my life.
I would also add, Shelia Hankins to that list along with my daughters: Imani & Alise.”
What is your favorite inspirational quote?
Ericka: “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” Sojourner Truth
If you haven’t yet seen I AM EVIDENCE we urge you to do so, it is so important for as many people to see this film as possible, it can be seen on HBO.
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Watch I AM EVIDENCE Official Trailer
For more information about I Am Evidence and to support the campaign to End The Back Log, please visit https://www.iamevidencethemovie.com/
You can also visit Mariska Hargitay’s The Joyful Heart Foundation whose vision is a world
free of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.
All photographs courtesy of ErickaMurria