As a very young child, I was subjected to sexual abuse until I was seven years old. When I was twelve, my parents and I went to Micronesia as missionaries with Evangelism Missions Inc. I loved it! I learned the language, embraced the culture, and eventually became interpreter for our mission church. My abuse became a distant memory?buried and unaddressed.
Years later, still deep in the clutches of my church affiliation, I married a man who became physically abusive?with the church?s backing?under the doctrine of ?Biblical Patriarchy?. Then the unthinkable happened. I discovered my children were being sexually abused. My world crashed around me.
I wish I could say I was strong and tenacious. I wasn?t. The knowledge of my children?s abuse filled me with such pain I could barely function. Guilt engulfed me. How could this have happened? I?d been abused myself?Shouldn?t I have been able to recognize the signs? This trauma triggered my own unresolved past, resulting in PTSD and severe anxiety disorder. The lack of support from our friends?especially within the church?astounded me. We were told to forgive and honor our abuser. They strictly instructed us to be silent, even telling us not to press charges, stating that ?speaking out about our abuse gave the church?and thus, Jesus Christ?a bad name?. He only served an 18-month sentence. Following his release, he was brought back into church leadership.
After some very confusing years, and then some amazing intensive therapy, I finally gained freedom from the chains of my past, left my toxic mindset/beliefs?and my marriage?and began the slow, upward path toward what I now refer to as "active healing". I was amazed to learn more about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and its effects on us as adults. I surrounded myself with life-changing resources?and positive support.
Today I am a part-time court-certified translator/interpreter, co-owner of a real estate investment company, and the founder/President of Always a Voice®, a local and online support group for survivors of child abuse, CSA and Domestic Violence (DV). I am a focused advocate as well as the International Spokesperson for Stop the Silence®, a non-profit organization addressing and combating CSA worldwide. It is a further blessing to be on the Board of Directors of CAP (Center for Abused Persons, Charles County, MD), as well as the Advisory Board for Dreamcatchers®. (See links below.) Currently I am pursuing my MA in Counseling/Biblical Theology and daily strive to use my experiences to offer hope and encouragement to other survivors.
I am happily remarried and my family is thriving?more than I would have thought possible! My children (all ten of them) have gone on to use their own voices through music, dance, art, education--and above all, kindness and individuality. My husband, Ray, and I are blessed with five grandchildren so far...with number 6 due to arrive in Feb 2018!
So far, I have authored three books and am an avid speaker in Maryland, the DC Metro Area, and abroad. In conjunction with my advocacy work, I am honored to hold the current title of Mrs. Southern Maryland America (formerly Mrs. District of Columbia US Continental), and will be competing for the crown (Mrs. Maryland America) in May 2018--my platform being Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Awareness and Education.