“I received no support or counseling in the aftermath.”
I grew up in a two-bedroom home in Oak Cliff, Texas, with my stepfather, mother and two sisters. At the age of five, my stepfather’s brother—my favorite uncle—began to molest me. I received no support or counseling in the aftermath. Years later, a prosecutor came to ask me questions about the crime, but nothing was done. A cycle of trauma and violence began— at 14 my boyfriend put a gun to my head, strangled me and kidnapped me, and in my adult years my boyfriend beat me. Still, I received no support or counseling from the criminal justice system, the police or my community. Nobody asked, “Are you okay?” The weight of unaddressed trauma began to impact my mental health severely—causing me to question if life was worth living. I turned to self-medication and heavy drinking, but I was still unable to numb the pain.
I don’t feel that the criminal justice system is working. As a crime survivor, I had to find my o wn space for healing and discover the path to inner strength, mental health and selfworth, but nobody should have to walk that path alone. A lot of times, survivors aren’t even diagnosed or treated. What’s needed is real help—mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment and trauma recovery centers—to get people to safety and change the dynamic of hopelessness that so many survivors feel. This kind of help also decreases future crime by giving people with unaddressed mental health challenges an alternative to self-medication. We need ways to address trauma so that we can all heal.
Now I’m an award-winning author and a self-esteem coach. Coming from a place where I wasn’t heard or seen, I like to build up other leaders—I focus on each person’s strengths and try to put them in a position wher e they can grow. I definitely feel that as a society, our main focus should be on “seeing” survivors and helping people get mental health support and the other support they need to recover. We shouldn’t have to wonder what’s going to happen next. The system should work for us.