Biany Perez: Supporting Women on their Journeys to Motherhood
In the summer of 2014, Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research needed to refresh and update its existing magazine, used primarily for prospective students. New alumni feature stories were written and graphic design services were provided for this project.
“What does it mean to live in a body that has experienced trauma or assault?” wrote Biany Perez, MSS ’15. “Unresolved trauma, abuse and fear are carried in our minds, spirits and bodies. Our bodies no longer belong to us. We learn to disassociate.”
A published author, Perez’s anthology, “Black Women Birthing Justice: Saving our Lives,” explores birth, trauma and empowering women to look beyond the confines of medical and social establishments to achieve fully-aware birth experiences rooted in power, not fear.
“For me, labor became the act that helped me to tap into my inner strength and courage,” Perez said. “It was a labor of love, strength and courage. It allowed me the opportunity to seek freedom from within and to trust my body in a way that I never could have done before.”
As a survivor of childhood sexual trauma and date rape as an undergraduate student, Perez always felt a connection to young adults who were struggling. For more than a decade, she worked as a community educator in the nonprofit world helping disadvantaged urban youth with educational goals. The youth she served faced a variety of obstacles and barriers that impacted their success – poverty, drug abuse and trauma – and she lacked the formal training to help them on a holistic level.
It took the birth of her son two years ago for her to re-think her career path and seek out a social work education at Bryn Mawr.
“I was so motivated by the love I felt for this child that I knew it was time to overcome my own issues and trauma and move beyond my fears,” Perez said. “I wanted to approach my son’s birth and my own motherhood with empowerment and knowledge, and I wanted to learn how to help others do the same.”
In addition to her studies at Bryn Mawr, Perez volunteers as a doula and breastfeeding coach, helping women throughout their pregnancies, deliveries and early months of motherhood to ensure they have the knowledge and support to advocate for themselves and their babies.
During her second-year field placement, Perez will work under the supervision of Reggie Jones, MSS ’01, in Bryn Mawr College Counseling Services. There she will provide therapeutic services, assisting students with all facets of their personal wellbeing and development.
“My dream would be to continue working with young adults and one day merge my interests into a private practice that focuses on trauma, women’s health and birth justice,” Perez said.
Photo credit: Bryn Mawr University