How I Discovered My Voice in a Paper Headdress


When I was a small child, and the world was brand new, there was so much potential for me. I did not know what hate was, what racism was, or what pain was. That quickly changed. I recall my first major beating at 3 or 4. It was Christmas and I had a magnificent doll house that Santa had brought me. I was sitting playing with it. Some Aunts, my father, my mother were all at the table eating. I recall repeating some bad words that my father had said when he was building the doll house earlier in the day. I recall being picked up and tossed across the room by my neck. I recall the red in his face, the vein popping at his temple, the gritted teeth, and the angry words. I recall being tossed down a flight of stairs at 5 for coloring with markers on my hands. I recall just before Kindergarten started having my hand placed on a hot burner on our electric stove because I repeatedly asked if it was still hot when the red lights went out. I was burned by cigarettes multiple times, not sure if it was intentional or just repeated accidents. One thing I did learn was that I did not matter and I did not have a voice. I say this because my father would ask me a question and when I would try to answer it, he would beat me again for talking back. If I didn’t answer the question, he would beat me again, for being disrespectful.


I watched him destroy my mother and her spirit, so many times, I saw my mother bleed. I lied to police officers for him, that my mother just fell down the stairs again or that she was off her meds and must have passed out. I carry a lot of guilt for that. I was a child. I was living in fear and pain. I was doing nothing more than trying to survive.
I had no voice and as I got older, more and more things, horrible things happened to me over and over. Each time I became a little weaker and my voice began to disappear more and more.

When did I find my voice again? I am an activist and an advocate. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know I post often about Indigenous issues, Domestic Violence, Rape, Child Abuse, etc…

How? Why? Where did my voice come from?

We are going to go back a few decades into the 1990’s. I only had two children at that point, both beautiful little girls. It was my main objective to raise them to be outspoken young women, with opinions, and minds of their own. With that said, from day one, I gave them choices and tried to empower them in every possible way. I wanted them to be the woman I was not. The woman I could never see me being.


When my oldest was 5, she entered Kindergarten in New Jersey. We had recently gotten this cool new gadget called a WebTV. Anyone remember those? I am not sure where or how, but I became friends with this man named Jim Toren He was an advocate for Leonard Peltier and Environmental issues. I enjoyed reading his posts and learning more and more about different issues. I questioned him and his friends a lot. Most people would probably get frustrated, but Jim and his friends were patient with me. I continued to be meek, to be me. Yes, meek was me. Can you imagine?

At Thanksgiving, I was told there is this amazing festival that the school does every year. The second graders reenact the first Thanksgiving! I was uneasy. I had now been taught the true story of the first Thanksgiving. I had read “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen.

I meekly, asked don’t you know that is wrong? I was dismissed, so I wrote a letter to the Principal, and I pointed out the historical inaccuracies, the eagle feather being a sacred item and the stereo-typing. I said I did not want my child participating in this and that she would be kept home. Later that night I went to a PTA meeting. I never missed the PTA meetings. I was on multiple committees, but the Principal did not know my name, nor did he care. He stood up and spoke in front of at least 50, maybe 75 other parents and teachers. He read my letter and joked about how parents that complain never come to these meetings.

My girlfriends were on either side of me. They both gripped my hands as I began to shake. I was embarrassed and I started to cry. I felt like I was bullied and victimized again for speaking out. It took every ounce of strength I had, but I stood up. Tears rolling down my cheeks and my voice cracking, I interrupted him and said, “I am the woman that wrote that letter. I wrote it because I care about my child and I will not have her taught to hate. I will not allow her to think this acceptable.” I walked out as everyone stared at me. No one said a word, mouths were literally hung open.
I wrote a letter to the school district, explaining the principal’s inappropriate behavior, my frustrations, and the issues with the headdress. Their reply returned with a basic get over it kind of reply. I thought no, not this time. I made a few phone calls and went before the State Board of Education. Over the next couple of years I spoke before the State Board of Education multiple times. We went through 3 principals at that school in 2 years. Yes, the first one, was reassigned a desk job at the district office.

As I became stronger and more outspoken I was asked to speak before President Clinton’s Initiative on Race relations in New Jersey. My little girls stood each on one side of me. I was asked to sit on the Cultural Heritage Commission for our Community by the Mayor of the city. I was asked to run for Congress on the Green Party ticket, which I turned down.

I spoke more and more and became louder and louder. I never realized how much my little girls were absorbing. We went on the Run For Freedom. An event that was organized by the friend I mentioned earlier, Jim Toren. We walked and ran from Kentucky to Thunder Bay, Canada. My little girls were with me the whole time. They met people from Australia, Japan, and multiple Native American Indian nations. They listened to their stories. They learned about their cultures the similarities and the differences. They learned about Leonard Peltier and other political prisoners throughout the world. The biggest lesson they learned was respect.



Second grade came around for Lexi and her poor teacher had no idea what she was in for. When the students were studying Christopher Columbus, the teacher asked, “Can anyone tell me anything about Christopher Columbus?” Lexi eagerly raised her hand. “Yes, he killed everyone.” The teacher quickly dismissed her and did not address her statement and said, “Anyone else?” Lexi replied out of turn, “He killed everybody. He cut off their hands and gave them diseases.”
I was called into the Principal’s office. I tried not to smile as they told me what she had said. I just nodded a lot and brought her home.

As we approached Thanksgiving, I went with Lexi and expressed our concern and wish to not participate in the event. I offered to keep her home that day, I was asked not to. Lexi was assigned a project in place of making the headdresses. She was to write a 5 to 10 sentence report on a different Native Nation every two days and read it before the class. While most kids would say nah, I’ll just do the art project; Lexi was all about the report. She did as she was told.
When the day came for the students to make the headdresses, Lexi was told that she would have to go sit in the first grade room with the little kids after recess. I was told; Lexi slammed her fist on the teacher’s desk and screamed loudly, “THAT’S SEGREGATION!

Now how she knew that word, I don’t know. I can only assume she heard it at a rally, or one of my speaking engagements, but she used the word correctly, and I was quite proud.

There were 4 classes of 25 students each in the second grade participating in this Thanksgiving event. All of the second graders had recess at the same time. Lexi rallied all 100 of these students during recess to sit with their arms folded and refuse to make the headdresses. The teachers did not know what do. The teachers had piles of precut feathers, so they decided to let the kids all be turkeys. Yes, I was once again summoned to the principal’s office.

Lexi’s teacher wrote a letter to the local newspaper, which had covered this atrocity. She accused me of being a trouble maker and trying to launch my “political future” or some nonsense and she stated she had taught this way for years and had no intention of changing it. I had no intention ever of going into politics. I had already turned down a nomination to run for Congress.

Below is a copy of a Press Release I sent out in January of 2000.

On the afternoon of January 19, 2000, seven year old Alexis Brown will stand before the State Board of Education and speak to them about the harm of racial stereo-typing in public school classrooms. During her speech, she will ask the State Board of Education “to make a rule, which children not be allowed to wear or make headdresses on school grounds”(this includes mascots).
After Alexis’s speech, The State Board of Education will be informed that a complaint has been filed with the United States Department of Justice against the State Board of Education. They have created a racially intolerant learning environment one harmful to my child’s learning process. After two years of attempting to educate the State Board of Education, and local educators on the significance of the Eagle Feather, Separation of Church and State, what happens when racial stereotyping is taught to both Indian and non-Indian children, statistics, etc I have had to pull my child out of the public school system. I will not have Alexis taught to be blind to hurts inflicted upon other students, their ancestors, or their sacred items.
I went beyond the responsibilities as a parent to educate the educators. I went to the State Board of Education when the local school would not listen in 1997. I continued repeatedly to attempt open communication with the State Board of Education. I went as far as to find educated speakers willing to work with the State Board of Education in New Jersey rewriting policies and curriculum. These speakers were willing to come and work in teacher training workshops for the state. The State Board of Education turned a deaf ear they chose to ignore my pleas and the pleas of others in the state. They chose to either ignore the significance of the Eagle Feather or they have chosen to not treat every student equally by not permitting construction paper crucifixes in public school classrooms. Either way a hostile learning environment exists in New Jersey public schools, a complaint has been filed with The United States Department of Justice, Educational Opportunities Litigation, Civil rights Division,

Multiple speakers and supporters showed up that day. I walked out those doors and never returned back.
Somewhere in all of this I found my voice; I found my strength; I found my gift; I discovered my purpose.


Children are born a blank slate. They do not know fear, hatred, racism and intolerance. These things are taught not only by parents, but by those we surrender our children over to day after day. Do we look at what they are learning or do we turn a blind eye and assume that the educators know what they are doing? It’s been done for years. Question, question everyone and anyone that spends time with your children. What are they teaching? What are their beliefs? What values will be absorbed by your children?

For more information on the yearly Run For Freedom please go to



Last night I was sitting up working on a new book. No matter what I wrote, it just didn’t seem right. Would he say that? Would she do this? The ideas, the words, they just were not flowing like they normally do. I was getting frustrated and looking around my living room.

We have had a small leak from the air conditioner that turned into a major problem yesterday when the ceiling cracked and started to fall in. There were dishes scattered about that my older children left behind. Why is it my 5 year old can get his plate and glass to the sink, but it is a virtual impossibility for my 21 year old? Toys were strewn about on the floor. My two Great Pyrenees were both at my feet snoring very loudly, and the cat just coughed up a hair ball right onto one of my sandals sitting by the front door.


I thought no wonder I can’t focus, there is nothing but chaos and mess around me. Suddenly there was a ping sound in my email box. I clicked on it, and it was a message from a friend. Earlier I had sent him an email and asked if he was ok.
He responded with this long list of expectations he has on himself and that others have on him. As I kept reading, he wrote about how blessed he is and happy he is.

I looked around my living room again. The cracked ceiling, well at least there is a roof. The snoring dogs, they have protected me more than once, and they are my biggest fans. The toys on the floor, man I’m blessed to have those kids. The dishes everywhere, well at least this week I could afford food to feed them. The hair ball, yes that hairball must go! I stood up, tripped on one dog, and placed my barefoot right onto a Lego. Those little ^%#%$@!!! hurt! Grabbed a tissue cleaned up the hairball and headed for the kitchen. Kerplunk! On the way another drop of water from the ceiling hit my head and rolled down my nose.

Ahhh Chaos…

I have always had chaos around me. I think it keeps my mind safely off my past. I mean if I have to worry about my present and all that surrounds me in the now, the past does not exist. (Rape, homelessness, sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, guilt and more) So perhaps the chaos that exists within me creates the chaos that exists outside of me for no other reason than to protect and shield me from thinking about the past.


I am a mother of 5 children. I am 45 years old and a grandmother to 1. Currently in my tiny home, lives myself, my husband, our three sons ages 15, 10, and 5, our 21 year old daughter, her boyfriend, and my grandson, along with two cats, two very large dogs and a chinchilla.

Chaos? Yes!

I do an online radio show, which has always fed my soul, but has not been done as often as it should be lately. I homeschool three of my children year round, thank goodness we homeschool year round, because we have had several days off in the last month.

I have written a book that has had so many unexpected demands on my time. It’s like being tossed into an ocean and not knowing how to swim. I never experienced all of this before. I am trying to field emails, and comments and things I should be happy about, but I am confused. I don’t understand the business. I have so many questions, and I am afraid to trust. Compliments are hard, and I don’t feel worthy of them. I am not use to them,and I do not know how to handle them.
I am trying to meet deadlines for another book.

I am an activist and if you follow me on twitter @Mizzmercy or on Facebook You will see I advocate frequently about the issues of Domestic Violence, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, and Indigenous Issues.

Re-reading my friends email helped me realize that there needs to be balance and there needs to be priorities. I answer every email message, every Facebook message, and every tweet and lately there has been so many. Some of them have been awesome and supportive, some have been weird and uncomfortable, some have been intrusive and honestly quite rude; however, I always answer them. I think once a week, I’ll answer all the questions in my blog here to cut down on all of my replies. I need to do this for me, and sometimes I am answering the same questions over and over again. I may regret this but go ahead and email me send me your questions.

I am going to try an experiment to remove some of my chaos. I’ll call it “self-preservation.” I am going to tweet today in support of the UND March as I promised. That is VERY important me. I am going to sign off the World Wide Web tonight for two days straight. You may find me, detoxing, and shaking in a corner from withdrawals. I’ll be back on Monday, to participate in a Twitterstorm for another Indigenous issue, ahhhh Oklahoma, Governor Fallin and Christina Fallin. (shaking my head)

My time off will be spent with my boys, maybe a beach day, maybe a walk downtown, maybe a game of basketball. I will also plan a nice long bubble bath, with a book by a friend. I don’t really drink, but this weekend I may kick back with a margarita or two. This weekend will be about love. I will focus on loving my children and loving myself. I never take time to love myself; however, I am always quick to point out to others that they should do so. I’m going to take my own advice. If you do not hear from me, I am alive, I am well, and I am happy. I will see you at some point on Monday.

Surviving Life after Trauma requires self-preservation and learning to love yourself again.

Please check out my web page and read the reviews about my book Silence. The book is available for sale at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Books a Million along with many other stores.

Surviving Life on the Streets

Last night I watched an awesome movie called Sugar. It starred Shenae Grimes; her acting was beyond astonishing. Wes Studi also was in the film and his portrayal of a social services worker was extremely realistic. The movie moved me to tears more than once! You can watch the trailer for the film here. It is my understanding that it might be available on Hulu but I know for a fact it is rentable at Vudu. That’s where I watched it.


Now why am I talking about this film in MY blog, where We are 1 Voice wants me to talk about surviving traumatic events?

In an earlier blog I mentioned that I had lived on the streets. I did. I blocked a lot of memories of that time out. Watching this exceptional film last night brought back some that had been missing. For example, the main characters street name was Sugar, I kind of smiled, as a memory of mine came back to me, mine was Poison. Poison, how did I get that street name?

Then I recalled sitting with a bunch of other teens and early 20 somethings in a graveyard in Morristown, NJ. We were on the steps leading towards a closed crypt like thing. They teased me because I smelled good all the time. You see one of the only things I took with me when I left, was a bottle of my favorite perfume, Poison. They thought it was funny that I had no home, 1 change of clothes, and no money but I had a really expensive bottle of perfume in my bag.

It made me feel good, and not much in my life had ever made me feel good. My self-esteem and self-worth was all wrapped up in that little purple bottle. I don’t even know if they make it anymore, but my identity was wrapped up in that materialistic item. I had nothing else of value. If someone had stolen that bottle, if it had broken, I would have been shattered. I don’t know what I would have done. I have come a LONG way.

Now my family was not poor. There was a place for me to go home to. I was afraid to go home, because I didn’t want to hear yet again how stupid I was, how I failed, or that I deserved the bed next to my mother. I didn’t want to be beaten. I didn’t want to see the things I knew where still going on in that house. I didn’t want to experience any more pain.


Being cold and hungry was a much more tolerable pain, then being beaten or raped. I wanted control. Being on the streets gave me control, or so I thought.

I found a shelter and I was able to sleep there and shower. They gave me breakfast in the morning, a piece of toast, a hard-boiled egg, and milk. Dinner at night was almost always soup and a roll or pasta with sauce. Women were on one side, families were together, and men on another side.

There was a counselor there who was young, just a little bit older than me. I so wish I could recall her name, but I can still see her face and the kindness in her eyes. She was angelic, beautiful, the type of person I would never hangout with, because she was so pretty, and smart. I felt inferior around her and I recall telling her that. I didn’t like her because she was everything I wanted to be. I would never be that thin, that blonde, that perfectly pale, or that beautiful. I hated her at first for those shallow reasons. I hated her because she tried to bond with me and told me a story about being a cheerleader, and being assaulted by the football coach. She wanted me to open up and talk to her about the things that had happened to me for so long. I wouldn’t, I couldn’t for one I was ashamed, embarrassed and secondly, she had been a cheerleader. Why would a cheerleader want anything to do with me? I was just a slut and a whore; I was worthless; I believed I had no future and no potential.

She won me over one day while we were talking; she looked at my gym shoes. They were no longer white and had many holes in them. It was fall and getting colder. She said, “I have a ton of shoes lying around my house.” I thought, yeah rub it in, I’m sure you do, you stuck up……. But I didn’t say anything, I smiled and nodded. I needed a place to sleep that night. She continued, “What size are you?” I said, “10” She excitedly replied, “10?? So am I!” Looking back on the whole thing brings tears to my eyes. I am sure she was lying and went to the store and bought me a pair of gym shoes. As a matter of fact, the pair she gave me still had tags on them. I kind of laugh because it did work, I started to trust her more and more.

If you know me, you know trust is something I do not do often.

Most of the “kids” couldn’t stay at the shelter. There was Breathalyzers, drug tests etc… and if you didn’t pass you slept on the streets, in the graveyard, at the train station. I recall some of the kids and 20 something’s going home with this really tall, lanky, creepy, old lawyer dude, well he said he was a lawyer. Till this day I can see him like he is right in front of me. He smelled like moth balls. He almost always had this mossy green colored suit on. He was very thin almost two thin. His hair reminded me of a Koala bear. Several times he offered me money, promises of things he thought I might want. Trying to get me to go with him. If you looked into his eyes, it was as if he had no soul. Have you ever looked at someone that evil? The hair on my neck would stand up whenever he was around. He would reach out and touch me. His hand on my back or my shoulder and I would flinch and pull away as fast as I could. The kids and 20 something’s I hung out with that could not get in the shelter, they would go with him when he would come around. They always came back fed but you could tell a piece of their soul was missing. They looked a little more blankly; I do not know how else to describe it. No one ever talked about what happened or what that man did, but I knew it was bad, and I knew I would never go with him.

I had never had a problem getting in the shelter. I wasn’t drinking, never had done drugs, heck I had never had a cigarette. This counselor really cared about me, she didn’t judge me and she believed in me. No one other than my grandmother had ever shown me that kind of love. This woman who I had judged so harshly was my angel. She brought in clothes that were her “sisters;” again looking back, I’m pretty sure they weren’t. There was a winter coat and I was so happy to have it. It was cold outside. I put my hand in the pocket and there was a $100 bill folded up. I quickly shoved it back in the pocket and brought it to her, she said I could keep it. I often wonder if she thought I wouldn’t return it, if it was some kind of test. The thing is I started to care about her as much as she cared about me. I’m crying as I type this. I haven’t touched these specific memories in a long time.

The counselor encouraged me and believed in me. I got a job working a sandwich counter. I was saving up. I was going to rent a room, get an apartment get back on my feet and back into the real world and not the dark one I had been living in.

I mentioned the shelter had many rules; one rule was you could not miss any scheduled therapy appointments. I had agreed to therapy, because I had attempted suicide, I had been hospitalized for bulimia/anorexia; I had been abused in every sense of the word. I had talked to this other therapist a few times and I tried to explain to her that I had a job now and could not make the set appointment time. She said I had no choice I had to show up. Did I mention I have control issues because of my past? I did not feel in control. I did not want to lose this job. I needed this job. I went to work that day. When I arrived at the shelter; the counselor that I liked was crying. She said I could not stay there. I had broken the rules and the therapist had called. I was terrified. I did not want to go with the others to that man’s house, it was cold; I did not want to sleep in the grave yard. I was scared. I had a few dollars in my pocket and the shelter van dropped me off at the park. I used a pay phone and tried to call an old “friend” that lived a few towns over. I knew if I went to his house. It would involve sleeping with him, but it would be safe and I knew him; so it wouldn’t be like a stranger, or that creepy old dude that would pick so many up. I knew what this “friend” would demand and I was willing to provide it for nothing more than safety, food, and warmth.

I called; he didn’t answer the phone. I looked down at the money I had and I had enough for a train ticket to get a few towns down to where he lived. I would try to call again, because how could he refuse me? He never refused me. I was using him, just as much as he used me. Yeah I know slut, whore… I lived it. My dad was right when he would call me that. I grew up to become one. I get what I did was no different than prostitution, but it was survival.

There was a lot of people on the streets that didn’t like me because I wouldn’t be a prostitute for them, I wouldn’t “party” with them, I wouldn’t be part of their shop lifting rings. Who was I to have any kind of morals? I lived on the streets; I needed to behave like the rest at least that is what they believed. I needed to be reigned in. I was no better than they were, and I had no right to believe otherwise.


So I went to the train station, I truly do not recall much about what happened next only bits and pieces. The sun was starting to go down. There was an over growth area near the platform. I don’t recall how I ended up in that area, I do recall being groggy, and looking up at the sky. It was still dusk and orangey yellow. I recall looking to my side and seeing a yoohoo bottle. I recall feeling pressure and saw a man over me. I had no bottoms on. When I close my eyes and try to see his face, I can’t. His chest didn’t have much hair but there was one distinct line from his bellybutton down. I was really confused and in and out of being awake and not awake. Somehow, I got dressed and on the train. The train was crowded and people were staring at me, I was disheveled, bruised, dirty, and I think I was crying.

I got off at the stop, where my friend lived. I tried the payphone again. He answered. He said I couldn’t come over. He had a big thing he was working on for the next day. I had been raped, and I realized at this point I had been bleeding. Maybe that’s why they were staring at me on the train, maybe it was the blood? Why didn’t anyone offer to help? To ask if I was OK? I can’t imagine sitting disgusted in judgment while a woman looked the way I looked.

I didn’t know what to do. I only knew bits and pieces of what had happened. I called the pay phone at the shelter. “George” a friend there answered. I told him what I could recall. He told me that the counselor, (the angelic one) had been driving the streets looking for me. She had planned to take me somewhere safe. He called the police who came and found me at the train station. I was bloody, and bruised. I was confused; I was petrified. They took me to the hospital.

Have you ever been raped? Have you ever had to go through a rape kit at the hospital? There is very little difference between either. The things they do to you to try and find out who hurt you in the first place is just as degrading as the whole initial experience. Why did a male police officer take pictures of me naked? My bruises, my scratches they were in places that I didn’t want anyone to take pictures. I had no rights, I felt like I had no control, and any dignity I had was now gone. They took my clothes and gave me a sweat suit.

Because I went to the police, well they came to me, but I talked to them and told them what happened I was now a “target.” Back at the shelter I recall being in the shower and two women grabbing me and slamming my head into the tile wall for talking to the police. I never reported that. My counselor knew I had to get out of the shelter. She applied for grants and other things to help me get started. It would take at least 30 days to be able to get everything together and get me on my own.

I don’t recall how soon it was when the next big thing happened. I was with one of the friends I still trusted. It was my day off from the sandwich shop. He bought me a Pepsi . Two of his friends met up with us. We were laughing, and I felt comfortable and truly safe.

Somehow I woke up in the woods. I had no clothes on and there was my friend. The man I thought was my friend and at least a dozen others. They were drinking and laughing. I was naked and not sure how I got there. I started to cry and put my clothes on hurriedly. One little guy, he couldn’t have been more than 5’2. Kept saying I was the cream filling in their Oreos. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I didn’t want to know. There were leaves in my hair and I was trying to pick them out. I couldn’t focus well but I knew I had to get to the pick-up spot or I would not be allowed to stay at the shelter.

When I got there people were talking. Apparently they were bragging about how I “partied” with them. Those that were at the park with me bragging at the shelter were asked to leave the shelter. Then my counselor came and asked me what happened. I told her I didn’t know and what I did remember. I think she wanted me to go to the hospital. I said I would NEVER go through that again. She helped me get into a room, furniture, food, clothes and off the streets. Everything happened quickly at that point, because I was no longer safe on the streets or in that shelter.
I moved on from the sandwich shop, to a diner, to a record store, to assistant manager of the record store all within a year of leaving the streets.


So back to the movie, I watched last night, “Sugar.” It was one that touched me and brought me back to a time and a place long ago. It made me wonder what happened to all of those people that had been in my life at that time. Where are they now? Did they make it off the streets? Did they get clean? Are they still alive? Do those men ever think or care about what they did to me? Does Karma exist?

Best quote from the movie….. “People always wind up hurting you, that’s why people wind up on the streets.” That’s why I ended up on the street. It was safer there than in my own home, until I became too trusting.

I have this natural desire to want everyone to love me; yet, I do my best to keep everyone at a distance so I don’t get hurt.

I have survived homelessness, I have gone on to be on major radio stations throughout the United States, I have won awards for online radio, I have done commercials for major corporations, I have written a Novel. I survived, but I still carry a lot of scars.

Please check out my novel, Silence available at Barnes and Nobel, Books a Million, and at

I will be having book signings posted in the near future. Please check my website for upcoming dates and locations. Thanks!

UPDATE Since publication of this post, Mercedes now has 5 novels available at all major bookstores and online worldwide.

Surviving Attempted Suicide


Suicide was something I thought about a lot as a child and young adult. I would be lying if I didn’t say it still creeps into the back of my mind and dances there with my memories. The first time I tried, I was 16 years old and had already known so much pain, fear, and degradation.

I made a noose and hung it on my closet bar. I turned the radio station up and a song came on as the rope went around my neck. It tickled a little and scratched. I was alone and scared. I didn’t want to be hurt anymore. I didn’t want to be called stupid, fat, ugly, a whore, a slut; I would never amount to anything… who would say all of that to a child? All the people I knew, kids in high school, family members, even a teacher or two used at least one of those words describing me daily. If they thought it, if they said it, it must be true.

My father and stepmother had this thing they called shock therapy where they would sit me down and my dad would scream at me, “You are stupid! You are fat! Your will never amount to anything! Do you want to grow up to be just like your mother? You deserve the bed next to her! You are so dumb you will never be anything. I have had dinner with the president! You will be lucky if you grow up to be a cashier at Kmart.” My step-mother was a psychiatric nurse. My father was a high-level executive at a Fortune 50 company. The abuse was not just verbal. I was 16 years old and experienced every kind of abuse imaginable. I am not prepared to go into all of those details.

Back to the closet, the noose, the radio, the song that was on was by the Hooters, Where Do the Children Go…. I remember the words feeling like they were penetrating my soul. I took the rope off my neck and I sat in the closet on the floor for hours alone quietly in the dark crying in the fetal position. I needed someone to hear me, hold me, love me. I was so alone and so scared. When I walked out of the closet that day I put my mask back on and pretended it never happened.

The next time I tried I was 18? or was it 19? I don’t recall. I had told a family secret to my step-mother, she told me that it was not true, and if it did happened I wanted it to because I was a slut and I was a whore. She said if I ever told my father, he would have a heart attack and die and it would be all my fault.

A few days later after being out, I came home and my bedroom was trashed. Stuffed teddy bears that I collected were hanging by belts from my ceiling with nooses around their necks. A trash can was overturned on my bed and scattered about, clothes were thrown my drawers. The words DIE C*NT were written on my mirror in bright red lipstick. I broke, I snapped, my mask fell from my face and shattered to a point I could not put it back on.

I went into the bathroom and swallowed every pill and drank from every bottle of medicine I could find I took a large knife and began hacking at my arms groggily. I was cutting from right to left. You can still see some of the scars faintly. My father came into the bathroom and found me on the floor. I so wish he would have taken me into his arms and told me he loved me and he was sorry for hurting me and that he was sorry that he let them hurt me, because I loved him, but he didn’t love me back and he didn’t take me into his arms or say those words.

My father began to scream and curse. He shouted, “Can’t you do anything right you F*cking moron? You cut up and down stupid B*tch not across.” He picked up the knife and started to slice my wrists for me up and down. He then tossed me down a spiral staircase. As drugged as I was at that point, it really hurt. I swear I hit every step and bounced from the wall to the railing the whole way down as I tumbled head first over and over. When I landed on the wood floor at the base of the stairs, my step-brother’s girlfriend asked, “Should I call an ambulance?”

My father yelled, “No! She has been enough of an embarrassment to this family!”

He then dragged me by my hair, through the house to the garage. He tossed me in the back of his silver Audi and yelled at me to not get blood on his interior, or he would “f*cking kill me!” Wasn’t that the point I thought?

I proceeded to rebel and began rubbing my bloody wrists all over the interior.

That is just a small snap shot into some of my memories, there is and was so much more.

So We Are One Voice asked me to talk about “Surviving Traumatic Events”

I lived. I survived. I woke up the next day after attempting suicide.

What I want to talk about is thriving after you have attempted suicide. I was broken. I still am broken, and it is OK to be broken. You need to come to terms with where you were and what happened. We are who we are because of our pasts and our stories. We need to embrace the good, the bad, and all of the ugliness in order to thrive.

Now that I am over 40, I look back at who I was a ½ of a life time ago. She was beautiful. She was young. She had potential. She had dreams. She was trusting, naïve, vulnerable and desperately wanted someone, anyone to love her. Yet she didn’t believe she deserved to be loved, not even from herself.

I look back at who I was, I see the blood painting my wrists like an abstract watercolor, I hear my father, screaming, yelling, cursing and I now see something so amazingly beautiful.

I see a woman that will rise up and not only empower herself but empower countless others who have endured through horrific pain and hardships. My gift has been and has always been my voice and my words. I was just never permitted to use it. Once I discovered that gift, I began to thrive.

After my suicide attempt I went through a long series of bad choices. One even included living on the streets, because it was safer on the streets than it could ever be at home; thus, it took many years to move from survival mode to thriving mode, and if I am being honest with you the reader I do still function in many ways just in survivor mode.

You need to find your gift or you purpose in life. We all have a reason to be here. What is yours? If you don’t know ask your friends or your family. What do you like about me? What strengths do you see in me? Start compiling a list of all the wonderful things about you, you will find your true purpose.

What if in the process the thought, the idea of suicide, begins to re-enter your mind, and trust me it will? Stop, acknowledge it, and ask for help. Talk to a friend, a family member, a counselor or call the crisis hotline. Healing, surviving, and thriving all take conscious steps forward and sometimes just a few steps back.

Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Check out my book Silence, at Barnes and Nobel or Books A Million