ACTIVIST AND HUMANITARIAN
By: Krysta Kearney
Amber Amour is an ingenuitive and inspiring woman, an entrepreneur who has devoted her life to helping people in a variety of ways. Her professional activism can’t be summed up in one term, as she has traveled the world doing humanitarian work, being a holistic healer, a life coach and an educator. Most of her work has been a reflection of her own life journey and spiritual revelations. Her tribulations and triumphs have made her who she is today and is part of the makeup of the powerful messages she shares. By deeply holding these lessons near and dear, she emanates her insight to others by sharing her own awakenings to help others.
“I am an activist and humanitarian for survivors of sexual assault. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew this is what I wanted to do, (being a survivor myself) and as life went on I got more and more opportunities to do this work.”
Her activism work went into full gear in 2013, while she was living in NYC. She started a campaign known as #stoprapeeducate, creating chalk art about feminism, consent, and the awareness of human rights. She would write her eye-opening, powerful messages on the streets of the city, at visible, highly trafficked pedestrian areas such as places like Washington Square Park. 1000’s of pedestrians would see these messages about consent and sexual assault daily. Amour felt it was a way to speak about a huge issue that is severely dismissed in our culture that needs to be spoken about more. The campaign had a large following on social media, which allowed her to take it off the streets of NYC and go on a world tour, educating people globally.
“Things went up a notch when I accidentally and inadvertently went viral in 2016. I went viral for being sexually assaulted while helping survivors of sexual assault in South Africa.”
During her #stoprapeeducate campaign, there were multiple journalists following her world tour. One of those journalists (from Marie Claire UK) interviewed her just after she was raped, and the story went completely viral. It proved to Amour that an even larger spectrum of issues exist around sexual assault.
“Going viral for getting raped is something I wish upon no one. It was horrible to go viral for that reason because people were finding me online and following my Instagram page, blaming me and telling me I deserved it. All those typical rape culture responses.”
To say the least, this was a very traumatic time for her. She was coping internally while also dealing with the public uproar around her having been raped. In addition to all of this, when she just wanted to hide, she had to stay in South Africa to press charges where she experienced a lot of verbal assault on the streets. People were shaming her and telling her to go back to America. The fact that her rape was publicized, people were ridiculing and attacking her, when in reality she was the victim! She created a disguise just so she could be free from harassment. Wouldn’t you think this is the opposite of what she should have to do? By raising awareness and speaking up about her own sexual assault, she was being harassed.
“They tell us to speak up and talk smack about that. Then when you don’t speak up, they talk about that too! So there’s no way to win as a survivor of sexual assault whether you’re talking about it or not.”
She did what she thought was best and what she advocates for, which was to speak up. It was at this time, that she knew she had to continue to be an activist, help others and make all efforts she can to eliminate the hatred in the world. That whole experience was incredibly disturbing and stressful. Since then, she has taken her activism to other routes, off the streets and on her various online platforms, through educational means, writing articles, public speaking and most recently hosting holistic retreats.
In actuality, Amour’s activism dates back much further than this moment. She attended her first protest at the age of 12 and was first sexually assaulted at the same age. Although she was close to her family growing up, she was living a double life. She felt like she had two different personas and was being sexually abused by her neighbor who pretended he liked her and loved her. It caused her to distance herself from her family, identifying in two separate realities. Growing up in a Christian household, once her mom found out she was having sex (not knowing it was abuse), her reaction was to get a belt out and punish her. “You’re a child of God and it’s not going to be in my house,” she said. Amour says now in hindsight, years later, her mother understands that was wrong because she was being targeted and abused. She had no idea at the time the severity of what was going on and in ways, Amour didn’t realize the extent to how much assault and abuse she was enduring. As she has gotten older she has been more true to herself and allowed herself to heal. She has realized how traumatic that time was. She and her family have gotten a lot closer and are open with each other.
Amour moved to Paris at the age of 18 and studied French for 5 1/2 years. She needed this, to get out of the destructive life she was living in Ohio, and move on to better things, a happier life. She fell in love there for the first time, went to college, and was able to find herself; open her eyes to the world. Given her abusive past, she had a lot of issues with self-esteem and self-love. Her partner in Paris (the man she dated the first two years she was there) helped her realize that she wasn’t damaged and she was in fact, a beautiful person. It lit a fire for her, sparking a life of travel and healing.
Once back from Paris, she moved to Atlanta, while figuring out what her next move would be. Her family had relocated from Ohio. It was at this time that she came out to her family that she is a lesbian. It was a big weight off of her shoulders. By opening up to her family about who she was, not hiding the truth, it allowed her to move on to the next chapter in her life. She began her journey in activism, first starting with gay rights and moved to NYC to begin a career in social justice, working at the Human Rights Campaign, and volunteering for various campaigns for Marriage Equality USA.
“My involvement in politics really began with gay rights and working for the human rights campaign, legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey, Delaware and Rhode Island.”
At the time, she wasn’t thinking about money, if she did she would have been using her degree. She realized she wanted to be a part of something bigger, to stand up for herself and others. She recognized that she had a deeper meaning in life, a purpose to help others. She felt a higher power to do so.
“I wanted to be heard. I don’t like to be judged or shunned so I do believe in standing up for myself and that’s kind of where it came from, is wanting to create a better world for myself, the future generations, and everyone who is present, LGBTQ+ and everyone!”
LGBTQ+ rights was only where her activism started. She continued to advocate for more causes from there. She recalls going to an event in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day, where her mentor, Eve Ensler was hosting an event. She is an activist and author, most famous for the Vagina Monologues, which is a play addressing women’s sexuality and the social stigma surrounding abuse and rape. The Valentine’s Day event called ‘V’ Day, is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. It has a heavy emphasis on working with survivors of sexual assault with much of it being based around feminism.
“That was so healing to go to this feminist event where everyone around me was all about changing the world for women and making the world a better place for younger girls and stopping rape. So that was one of the most catalytic moments in my activism career.”
This is when she shifted her efforts to help survivors of sexual assault and it was during the time that her #stoprapeeducate campaign began. After being sexually assaulted in South Africa and returning to the states, she moved initially to San Diego, CA to heal. Since #stoprapeeducate was such a public campaign and after going viral for being raped she felt the need to get out of the public eye, work on her own healing and think about how she may want to approach her activism in the future. She focused mainly on consent, and what it means to give it. Through this, she found a community where she identified and felt safe, the sex industry.
“I got into sex work because I wanted to take a break from activism and that was something that was really helpful, transformational, and healing to me. To be able to give consent freely and to have a sense of control in my relationships was very empowering. So today I’m an advocate for sex workers as well.”
The sex industry actively promotes and exercises consent. Amour says that physical and emotional boundaries, as well as respect and consent are practiced more in the sex industry than to what she calls the ‘Vanilla world’, referring to the societal world. The more she learned about consent, the more she was able to heal. She has held almost every profession within the industry in the past five years, such as being a camera girl, dominatrix, and full-service sex work. It’s a versatile industry, there is always something new to try, learn and so many creative avenues to take. Having recently retired from the industry, she now advocates mainly for sex workers. By her being a voice and a light for the community, she is an advocate for the industry, helping break the stigma. She is grateful for what sex work has brought her, to help others and to share empowering messages. For years, the American culture has always put shame on sex working, that all aspects of it are bad. She wants to help sex workers break out of that mold. On her website and social media platforms she educates people through her writings about breaking the stereotypes and stigma behind sex work. Amour says, “It’s the vanilla world that needs to be educated.” It’s her goal to share the humanity behind sex workers to people outside of the community because until people can see that, we won’t ever be able to destigmatize and decriminalize sex work.
“What healed me though was learning consent in the industry and applying that because in the adult entertainment industry, consent is more common than the vanilla world. Meaning that before a person meets up with a full service sex worker or even has a cam session they discuss what is going to happen and I love that (that) element exists. I just love that it’s a common thing that it’s discussed before anything happens, so that needs to be brought into the vanilla world.”
In January of 2016 she started Creating Consent Culture (CCC) which, as Amour’s website states, “Is aimed at normalizing consent, communication, and supporting survivors while teaching safe boundaries, respect, and holistic healing for survivors of sexual trauma.” She still to this day hosts classes, seminars and does public speaking events around the world to raise awareness of consent.
The past two years, she has been hosting retreats in Puerto Rico where she welcomes sex workers to practice holistic healing and talks about the industry. As a certified reiki practitioner she hosts holistic workshops, writing workshops and has an overall health and wellness approach towards the retreats. Her next retreat is projected for January of 2022. She plans to eventually create more versions, serving other communities of people and work industries. Currently she is developing one for LGBTQ+ sexual assault survivors and also one is open for all survivors of sexual assault. Amour doesn’t know of any other retreats that are similar to hers that exist for survivors of sexual assault, so she wants to make them accessible to everyone.
In addition to her retreats, she recently published a memoir called, Consentopia. Consentopia sprouted from wanting to share her personal journey and discovery of consent. It started as a memoir telling her life story about how she is a survivor of sexual assault and what led her to going into the adult entertainment industry. In addition to the memoir, she shares social commentary, articles, lists and pointers about sexual assault and consent, giving the book two parts. It’s first part is lists of ways to communicate consent properly and thoughts on consent training for places like schools and police enforcement. The second part is her memoir.
“The first part of the book is really just informative and scholastic, the second part of the book is the more Rated R version because I really go in and share my most humiliating experiences, my most embarrassing tragedies and I also share my triumphs. It’s been a labor of love that has taken me probably over ten years. Consentopia is designed to help the world.”
She didn’t write the whole 10 years of course, but she would have stints of a year here, a few months there, it depended on what was going on in her life at the time. She noticed that the more she opened up to herself and shared her awakenings with others, suppressed memories would come up that she didn’t even remember.
“Consentopia came from my healing. I understood that the more I learned about consent, the more that I healed and it was not easy because the more I learned about consent, I also learned how many times I had not given it.”
Currently, she is applying for grants to assist in buying property to host retreats on her own land and create an entire retreat center. It’s not about sex, it’s about healing. It is important that her clients know they are safe, hence wanting her own private land. It won’t be just any retreat center. In addition to workshops and healing seminars there will be a spa, a dining area with healthy foods and a meditation room. She envisions a dreamland of a retreat center.
“I'm interested in doing my own retreat center, my own land…maybe buy an old hotel or something, build on some property here in Puerto Rico…I'm also thinking about having a retreat center in Africa. I want it to be tropical and lush, somewhere people want to escape to. It probably won’t be on the mainland of the U.S.”
Since starting her retreats she has had many roadblocks and battles with property and business owners. At first, when she says she wants to host retreats for survivors of sexual assault people are willing to provide their space but then as soon as she mentions anything about the sex industry they deny her. She has had many traumatic and insulting experiences and remarks that once someone was ecstatic to host the retreat, then once finding out they were sex workers, they didn’t want her booking their hotel. Laughing, Amour said, ‘doesn’t everyone have sex in hotels?’ It’s a holistic retreat, that’s it! Amour is so excited to see how this next year unfolds. Thankfully, she is not alone and has been building a team throughout the years. It’s been liberating because everyone is there to help and wants to work for the greater good.
Amour is one Fearless Female. Just think of all the lives she has touched and how far her activism has reached. She has done so much for so many communities. Her positivity and strength shine truth and enlightenment. As a society, we lack acceptance and are therefore judgemental. We, as a whole, need to learn to accept others and adapt rather than try to change and disregard humanity. Amour has devoted her life to just this. Breaking through barriers and pushing against the walls of negativity. Take it from Amour, let’s stop the hate and respect life.
Q + A
What are some words of inspiration for women?
“Just speaking from the soul...women are strong, women are powerful, women are divine, women are healers…all women are healers (I’m getting goosebumps) all women are healers…it’s innate in us to heal ourselves and everyone around us who is open to healing. That’s what I want to leave for women. You have a tremendous capacity to heal yourself and anyone who is open to it, CLAIM IT!”
What does the word Moxxi mean to you?
Anything to say to sexual assault survivors?
“You can heal. People need to know that healing is possible and it takes time. There are gonna be highs and lows, there is no spell that will take it all away, being a survivor is not our fault, however the healing is our responsibility, if we want to release that pain or release that trauma. Take it easy as you heal yourself.”
What are some words of wisdom you have for people to trust in themselves?
“I do teach intuition at my retreats because intuition is your best friend. Because no matter what industry you’re in, intuition is gonna guide you like no other sense of direction. No person can tell you better than your own heart. That is one of my main teachings. It’s not just knowing the message, because that’s one thing, to receive the message in a dream or through your own reflections or meditation. It’s one thing to learn and the other is to speak on it and act on it.” Sometimes we’ll know something but we’ll be too afraid to speak up. So using your intuition is a two-part deal, you’ll get the information but you do have to act on it or speak on it to integrate and reclaim that power.”
“The more you stand up for yourself, the easier it gets, even if it’s tiny. The more you’re rewarded, the more you’re able to express that boundary. So do it as you’re able to and it will get a lot easier.”
Do you think it’s important to express your thoughts on paper?
“Getting your thoughts on paper is liberating, it’s one of the best ways to express the trauma, express the pain. When people write and tell their stories, it helps others. Even if they’re just doing it for themselves. They can at least find their own voice and understand their own trauma and they can help even more people who have gone through similar things.”
Have you always been this way? You seem to always want to share, create and evolve?
“Yeah, my mom always taught me to stand up for what’s right, and she always instilled that in me. Now, she was not necessarily for sex work at the beginning, she had all those horriphobic mentalities, but now she does understand that I’m doing something for humanity and taking a stand for people who are shunned and shamed when they shouldn’t be. Another thing that might be related (which I have to meditate on) is I went to my first protest when I was 12 and that was also the year that I first experienced sexual assault. So maybe somewhere along the lines I decided, ok, I’m going to be a fighter now that I’ve gone through this trauma, so it doesn’t happen to other children. So I was really enraged and I’ve kept that fire with me as I heal and advocate for others.”
Interested in learning more about Amour, getting her book, Consentopia and reading about consent and her lessons on the stigma in the sex industry?
Website Link amberamour.com
TikTok: @realamberamour Twitter: @heauxlistique