Interview by Natasha Gonzales
Article by Celinda De La Fuente

**Sensitive Topic Warning**
Imprisonment comes in many forms. Held in captivity by the unspeakable experiences which happen behind closed doors, there are more of us out there than we would like to admit. Mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse…society and culture tells us to sew our lips together and stay quiet. The most you hear are the whispers of who did what to whom. Spoken word Artist and Actress, Mandy Lynn Lara works with women of domestic violence, advocating for the survivors and their freedom. As a co-founder of Raise the Whisper, which is a poetry and arts group dedicated to using art as a way to heal the effects of family rape and sexual abuse, Lara is here to tell you to speak your truth.
Five years ago, Lara found herself at the end of a tumultuous 12 year relationship. Her husband was sent to prison for domestic violence. He was never supportive of Lara’s passion for Spoken Word. He kept her silent, making her believe she was not good enough. So, two months after his incarceration, she found the Jazz Poet’s Society, and with that, found her place in the world of poetry. Lara has a strong support system in place; ergo, when fear tends to creep up at times, she can use her words to heal. Now, not only is she a Spoken Word Artist, she is a Slam Poet, an Actress, and works on production for films on top of her restorative work with domestic violence. She is a survivor, not a victim, and she will continue to break these chains for our gente throughout our city.
Remember. Raise. The. Whisper. “We wanted to encourage people not just to whisper about things like domestic violence, sexual assault, not only to speak up about it, but to scream it at the top of your freaking lungs. Tell somebody about it because…you can’t get help if you keep it to yourself,” Lara advises. Seek out your gente, your higher power, your community. You are not alone. Community is healing.