All of the work I do is dedicated to my son, Isiah. He was the miracle that kept me alive through the toughest days of my life. He continues to be the miracle that keeps me forward moving, forward thinking and forever striving to be the very best I can be.
I was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. My younger sister and I were raised by our mother, after my father left when I was five and my sister was three. My mom raised us in a very strict, often oppressive religion. Just as my fourth grade year started, my mom moved us to Honolulu for a new experience. Unfortunately, in addition to learning about island living, I experienced childhood sexual assault repeatedly that year by a ‘friend’ of the family. At the end of that year, 1981, we moved back to Flagstaff to resume our lives there. My life was never the same, but I told no one about that ‘shameful’ secret for many years.
I started dating a guy from my high school when I was seventeen. I was a junior and he, a senior. At that time I was not able to identify potential problems in that relationship, nor see what effect and damage they would have on my future. During this time period I asked my mother if I could stop attending our family's church and discover on my own what religion I felt was right for me. My mother was so angry and hurt that she asked me to move out of the house almost immediately. So halfway through my senior year of high school, I worked two jobs while attending school half day and lived with a friend from school.
This same boyfriend and I moved to Phoenix in late 1989 after my graduation. We felt we would have more opportunities in the big city. But the more isolated from my family and friends I became, the easier it was for my boyfriend to control and hurt me with no repercussions. We lived together for five years, were married in 1993, had a son in 1994, and were together for six more years. I was determined to try to keep the family together so my son would not have to grow up without a father, like I did. I began to realize that raising a son in that kind of chaos would most likely lead to him learning the same behaviors, and I was determined to break the cycle, for his sake.
I am a survivor of almost twelve years of physical, verbal, and emotional violence. I never fought back; I never stood up for myself, never called the police or got medical attention for any injuries. I just took it, tried to pick up the pieces and keep the peace. But there was no peace. I believed if I just loved him a little more and tried a little harder, that the pain would stop and the love would start. It never did. Finally, after years of pain, sadness and emptiness, my son and I escaped in 1999. My son, Isiah and I no longer live with terrorism in our home; we now live in peace.
I was the Chair of SHARE, the survivor's group and speaker's bureau of the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence for about six years. I was also a board member of the Arizona Coalition during that time period. I was appointed to the Governor's Commission for Prevention of Violence Against Women in 2003 and served until 2008. In 2006, I received the Triumph Over Tragedy award from Governor Napolitano. I am a statewide and national Domestic Violence Speaker for several non-profit organizations, the Governor's Office, Wellstone Action, The Center for Personal Protection and Safety and independently. Sharing my experience, training the trainers, raising awareness and lending my voice to issues about domestic violence, workplace violence and sexual assault are both challenging and extremely rewarding. This is my heart work and passion.
I am writing a book about my experience called The Journey Past Pain. I would like to continue to expand my speaking internationally, and publish my book in the near future. My dream is to help put an end to domestic violence through education, awareness, prevention, and offender accountability. I strive to inspire and assist others through their journey of healing and give faith to those who help my fellow survivors as living proof that We Can Overcome and Thrive!