“If I could tell my 17-year-old-self anything it would be that despite how this may look, you will survive, thrive and help others to create wealth just as you will do for yourself. But it would probably be hard for my younger self to believe that, since I was pregnant, homeless and would end up in one abusive relationship after another.”
Every mom deserves encouragement, support and love, after all, children are the anchors that hold the world together, so when I found that I was the conduit of one of these anchors at an early age, I thought I would find a safe space to feel empowered and nurtured. But that was not what happened.
I was 17, and about two months from graduating high school when I found out I was pregnant. As soon as my family found out I was kicked out from my home with nowhere to go. I ended up staying with a family member, where I slept on her floor for weeks before moving to stay with another friend. I would move several times between friends’ houses, motels and any stranger who would accept me. There were times when I had to spread newspapers on the cold floor of outside spaces to rest my head. My already-absent father came to see me at one of my temporary boarding places and slapped me in my face for being pregnant.
That was just the beginning of a cycle of abuse I would face. After six months of homelessness, I was taken in by the father of her child’s family and went back to finish school after having my baby. I went on to pursue a degree in Management Studies and Politics, then in 1999, I met a man I thought was the love of my life. But once we got engaged, the physical abuse began. Why didn’t I leave you ask?
I was a young girl who had an extremely low self-worth. Growing up I never knew what love looked like, sounded like or felt like. I became a Christian at age 7 and assumed that everyone who was a Christian was next to perfect. So when the abuse started, I chalked it up to it being my fault. I made him angry and since he was a Christian, he would change and never do it again. Until he did it again and again and each time I felt I deserved it.
I stayed married for seven years before I was able to get out and start a new life for myself and my young daughters. It was one of the hardest things for me to do. My marriage, my career and all that came with it, was my identity. I felt ashamed, disappointed and scorned. It was one of the loneliest times of my life. So many people walked away, so many took sides, so many misrepresented the truth but I survived.
My journey as a domestic violence victim and teen mother was the basis for my first bestselling book, From Brokenness to Victory – The Price of My Breakthrough. Now remarried, renewed and a four-time author, I own a book publishing company which provides independent publishing services for self-published authors and a business startup marketing consulting company that has helped to create over 300 businesses for new entrepreneurs. My objective in business is to do more than just make money for myself. We are truly only productive when we are helping someone other than ourselves.
I help women who were like me, scarred by life’s blows and searching for love, hope, independence, sustainable incomes, and a place to tell their stories. All of the books I have published or brands I helped grow has a story and a purpose that I support. They too have the power to inspire.
I’ve been ordained and licensed as a Minister of the gospel and in 2016, recognized by President Barack Obama as a U.S. Woman of State Nominee. I was mentioned by the Huff Post as a 2018 Coach on the Rise, was a 2019 UN Global Philanthropy Nominee and have coached and guided tons of entrepreneurs to making six figures. Many of those business owners were even able to launch during the pandemic.
Though I’m far removed from the days of being in an abusive relationship. I still carry the lessons I learned with me and use them to encourage victims toward healing and survivors toward restoration. I am asked ever so often, what are the main things that I would tell anyone who finds themselves in an abusive relationship? I would tell them:
- It’s never your fault
- You are never responsible for the action of anyone else but yourself
- Get help, do not suffer in silence
- The abuser is not going to change without professional and in some cases spiritual help as well
- You cannot pray away what needs therapy
- You may have to save yourself, not everyone will believe you.
- Create an escape plan, every situation is not a ‘get out now’ situation.
- If you can get out now safely – GET OUT NOW!
- Once you leave, you will feel guilt, shame and loneliness. (Don’t look back, you cannot trust your feelings nor your emotions)
- Make sure that as you heal you forgive. That’s the only way to fully regain your peace.
Many times those who abuse were themselves victims, or witnesses of abuse. An attempt or cry for help is a cry no matter the pitch or tone. My prayer is that every abuser will seek the help they need to change. I hope that every victim finds the strength to leave, reclaim their life and realign their worth.