Updated: Jan 14, 2019
What events in your 20s laid the groundwork for today?
I was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship for about four years from my early to mid twenties. With support from family and a couple of good friends, one who is now my husband, I was able to face my abuser in court and get a 50B (a restraining order). After the court hearings ended, I was very embarrassed and started to beat up on myself for putting myself in this position. I thought it was my fault and I was a bad person. Once I got married, I started to realize that I was a good person who deserved happiness. I was ready to heal not only for myself, but my husband and family.
How did you turn tragedy into opportunity?
I began volunteering for what was then United Family Services. I went to court with other victims of domestic violence as a court advocate, also helping out in the fundraising department. My volunteer work ultimately turned into a part time position with the organization. I was able to participate in the building of the new shelter and be a part of the name change to SAFE Alliance.
Did becoming a mother give you even more courage?
In 2013, I had my daughter and that was another game changer. I will not have my daughter experience what I did! I was ready to speak out about my experience and joined the Charlotte Mecklenburg Speaker’s Bureau. I then began speaking publicly about my experience with domestic violence.
I also competed in the Mrs. United States Pageant as Mrs. North Carolina United States in 2014 - domestic violence was my platform.
How are you able to live with such a positive outlook?
Even though, I will never forget what happened, I will always be thankful for the road it lead me down. I have a beautiful family, with the most supportive and loving husband. My daughter is a true angel in the eyes of many - she is precious.
Victims need to know that they can turn this experience into something positive. It takes time and commitment from yourself, but it can be done. There are good people in this world, who want to help you as long as you let them.
Favorite motivational quote?
A great quote from David Rossi on Criminal Minds that I live by, “Scars remind us where we’ve been. They don’t have to dictate where we’re going.”