It’s not what happens to you. It’s who you become because of it.
Raised on an isolated farm in Alabama, I was sexually abused by my father from age 12 – 19. Forced to play the role of his wife, and even shared with other men at times, I was tied up, photographed nude, raped, and beaten. I was desperate to escape, and even considered ending my own life.
I left home at 19 to escape, leaving behind the father who abused me and the mother who blamed me for it. I didn’t have a job, a car, or even a high school diploma. I had a few pillow cases stuffed with clothes, no money, and few options.
I started my career working as a waitress in a pizza restaurant. I was waiting tables and picking up the half eaten leftover pizza crusts off the floor for $2.13 an hour plus any tips the lunch buffet customers chose to leave. There’s nothing wrong with that – it was good work, and I was glad to get it. But, it didn’t take long to realize I didn’t want to stay there the rest of my life. I set my goals high – and started working to achieve them. I worked my way through school and up through the ranks. I had a very successful career in the healthcare field, spending several years in management, including Director of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs for a large healthcare organization.
In early 2013, I heard motivational speaker Les Brown speak. He said, “You have a story to tell and someone needs to hear your story. Only you can help that person.” He was speaking to a room of several hundred people but his words went straight to my heart. I knew I had a story to tell – but I didn’t want to tell it. I wasn’t sure I could.