( ENSPIRE Health & Wellness ) Marilyn’s Secret Founder Patrice Drayton Creates A Therapeutic Social Network That Empowers Women Through Connections
ENSPIRE Contributor: LaShonda Thompson
Marilyn’s Secret is a woman-only community that provides a safe, non-judgmental environment where women can be their authentic selves. The online community allows women to create profiles without the fear of exposing their identities, photos, and any other information they share unless they choose to change it. Marilyn’s Secret is a safe space for women, an environment where women may be as open and expressive as they want without fear of negative consequences. In addition, the app allows for continual engagements via chats with your closest friends or girl gang and space to get real-time guidance from your peers.
The founder of Marilyn’s Secret, Patrice Drayton, saw the need for an app where women could be women and consult with other women on issues that only another woman could address. There was a need for a place where women could address past and present traumas with other women who could relate. Marilyn’s Secret community is a place where women do not have to shy away from talking about girl things—a place for women’s empowerment. Marilyn’s Secret is that multifaceted social tool that facilitates women in building a community that helps them gain the control they need over their lives – through meaningful connections.
ENSPIRE Magazine asked the app founder Patrice Drayton a few questions about Marilyn’s Secret and her inspiration behind creating the social network.
What moment in your life inspired you to want to be a voice and vessel to empower women?
Growing up, my biological mother could not take care of me, so I was raised in a different household from my siblings. My mother, who raised me(from here on referred to as Leah), was a strict disciplinarian who sometimes would be very abusive towards me. The abuse came in multiple forms, but it was mostly physical and verbal. When I was in the 5th grade, something happened one evening after my friends walked me home. As I was walking up the driveway, my mother, who raised me, was standing on the porch, very upset. I was told to be home before the “street lights” came on. Waving goodbye to my friends, I knew suddenly that I was in big trouble. Now our house had this huge window in the kitchen that faced the very front of the house, so anytime anyone was in the kitchen, you could clearly see whether it was a person or a person’s shadow. As we walk through the front door, she yells at me, and all of my friends immediately stop. With my head hanging low from total embarrassment, I begrudgingly walked inside the house. So I know you’re thinking, “Shoot, my mama did the same thing. She did not play about them street lights.” But it’s what happened once the front door was closed that changed me for the rest of my life. Once I walked into the kitchen, She immediately slapped me in the face. The slap was so hard that one of the loose teeth in my mouth fell out. With blood running down my lip, I began pleading and cowering away, begging for her not to hit me again. She then pulls out a belt, gives me a good “ole fashioned butt whopping,” and sends me off to bathe and get ready for bed.
Hours later, I am awakened by a female police officer, who politely asks me to get up out of bed and go into the living room. I oblige and walk sleepily to the living room, where Leah sits on the couch with two male officers. The female cop proceeds to explain the reason why they are there. They received an anonymous call about the physical abuse of a minor at our residence. Furious, Leah started shouting how absurd that was and demanded to know who made the accusations. The officers informed her that she needed to calm down and let me speak. In unison, they all looked at me, waiting on me to start talking. I was terrified. I had no idea what to say or do. Immobilized with fear, I began crying.
The female officer immediately hugged me and told me that everything was going to be ok. She informed Leah that she needed to search my body to see any signs of abuse and that this was not a request. The three of us proceeded to the bathroom, where the officer told me to remove my clothing. Now imagine a 10-year-old having to strip in front of a stranger, looking for marks on her body in the middle of the night. The female officer questioned me about every cut, scrape, and bruise on my body and asked me if Leah ever hit me or hurt me. I stood there, naked, humiliated, terrified, and angry. I told the officer no, Leah would never hurt me. She asked me again, and again I said no. I put my clothes back on and was sent off to bed. The next day, Leah barely spoke to me, but things were different. She grew angrier, and I grew more afraid. So much so that when I could, at 16, I ran away and never looked back. That experience taught me early on what it was like to feel shame, and I carried the burden of that trauma for years.
Were those traumas part of the reason you felt the need to create Marilyn’s Secret?
I created Marilyn’s Secret to solve a problem that I faced personally. I, like many women, struggle with shame surrounding traumatic events in our lives. I wanted to provide a safe space where women could come together and talk about that trauma. Safely, anonymously, and privately, without worrying about fear of judgment, negative repercussions, or male misogyny.
Why do you feel that women need this space, a place to communicate anonymously?
Women are at greater risk for negative consequences following traumatic events; many often hesitate to seek mental health treatment or simply cannot afford it. Survivors usually wait years to receive help, while others never receive treatment at all. This shame carries a heavy burden, frequently causing women additional problems that can lead to detrimental consequences. A recent study found that women tend to cope with stressful or threatening situations by exhibiting a “tend and befriend” stress response. This involves crying for help, turning to others for social support, or care-taking. Because women’s responses are more linked to their social network and availability of support, they may be more vulnerable to feelings of shame if their social network does not give them the support they need or feel rejected and abandoned. This is why space’s like Marilyn’s Secret are essential because it is a place where women are encouraged to remove the shame of speaking their truth by anonymously confiding in others, so we are no longer alone on our journey’s, enabling us to gain the tools needed to feel empowered in life. The anonymous persona’s that our users can create provides a level of comfort for when they are ready to share their stories. We believe women should be allowed to heal in their own way and on their own time, so we’ve created an environment that fosters that.
What has the response been like for the app?
The response for the app has been great. We have created this private posting feature, where women can post privately to their profiles so only the people they are connected to inside the app can see what they post. Women are really enjoying that feature because it enables them to post more intimate details about themselves to those they are comfortable with. As a result, they feel safe, and most importantly, no one really knows who they are unless they decide otherwise.
What are my hopes for people who use the app?
My hope is to share my light and happiness with as many women as possible through connection and community. I hope that women will learn how to share in the successes of other women and that they will realize the power that they have over their own lives. I hope that women will find and connect with other women within our community to begin to heal themselves and start to walk in their purpose. I hope that my journey can help light the journey forward for others. I encourage women to download the app, create a profile, and connect with someone inside the community. I guarantee that you will find someone who will make you feel like you are no longer alone on your journey to living your most authentic shame-free life because we designed our app for all women throughout all stages of life, no matter where they are in their journey.
For more information and to download Marilyn’s Secret app, visit the website here.
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