Twelve years ago, June 1, 2004, I made the hardest decision of my life. Weighing in at less than 100 pounds, my hair falling out, my body broken out in 3 kinds of hives, I left my marriage under a police escort, protected by a full restraining order. Twelve years of abuse had nearly destroyed and broken me. My sole focus was to protect my children because I didn’t think that what happened to me mattered at all.
The last twelve years have included 348 family law and criminal law registry of actions, 41 court appearances under 5 different judges and 6 different family mediators, a police investigation, a DA investigation, 8 different counselors, and hundreds of hours of counseling for the 3 of us. I went back to graduate school and earned a second MS, this time in Forensic Psychology with an emphasis on how growing up exposed to domestic violence and drug addiction effects the development of children because I needed my own answers to help my own children. I started the PhD program to address trauma-informed care, and conflict mediation/negotiation regarding at-risk students and families who need advocacy because I wish that I, and my children, had been given more support in those areas.
Four years ago I spoke and told my story to 400 people at SAVE’s annual breakfast because I want to help others who have lost their voice like I did. My greatest legacies are the two people who call me mom. My sole drive these last 12 years has been to raise them to be healthy and whole children, and to teach them by example that God can take the greatest heartache and pain and make things out of it of the rarest and most precious beauty. I am proud to be a survivor at this point in my life; I lost too many years being a reluctant victim. Every June 1 is a day of celebration for me.