As you may know this month we are working with Forsyth Family Services to help raise awareness for domestic and sexual violence. Here is the second story I want to share with you from a strong survivor Dawn.
Dawn's story started with her husband who she had known for a decade. She has a beautiful daughter, was pursuing her college dreams, lived in a beautiful condo and was employed as a family and youth counselor! Her husband had previously been a paramedic, he had 3 children and was just getting back into the medical field. He was very intelligent, and very romantic. However, soon her became more controlling, it was uncomfortable but she did not feel afraid of him initially. But soon things escalated, first stating with a push, next he was yelling, then she was being slapped. She lived like this in the relationship for 11 years, tried to leave 8 times before she made the decision that enough was enough. For some years she managed to maintain an apartment, however, she has also stayed in a shelter and various hotels for months. Many time she would receive a notice to vacate, move to a safe place, and rectify the past due rent later. Fortunately, many people understood and if those trying to escape can find the courage to explain the circumstances to their landlord or apartment manager, even if it’s at a later date, she found that they wanted to help if they could. This is where community organizations like Family Services, DSS, Salvation Army and victim advocates can be a huge help in explaining the situation to others.
This abuse made Dawn lose her sense of self. The abuse did not occur every day or even every week...sometimes not even for months. So there were periods of great times, that's why domestic violence can be confusing. Not every victim experiences abuse everyday. Anything she asked for or wanted he would provide- $300,000 homes, She drove nice cars- Audis and new Sports cars, she had never been materialistic but it was nice to have a pool guy and lawn maintenance and to be able to use her money to travel with her kids. So his generosity and romantic side occasionally made her think that if he would just get help, then life would be good. However, these things also made her a target for financial abuse. He did not want help! He wanted control!
She kept the problems to herself, never shared them with her family. Her mother had experienced her own domestic violence issues earlier in life, having survived she made it very clear that she did not want her with him and that she did not believe he would ever change. When I moved 600 miles away, my family became somewhat distant something he capitalized on it was another way to control her. Thankfully her children were never hurt, Dawn's youngest was 4 months old when she left permanently, Her oldest unfortunately was affected by what she heard and witnessed, she would often wonder why her presence was not enough for him to be respectful or get help. She was always an amazing, respectful, child and honor scholar, but he was never able to enjoy that. But Dawn made up for that by always celebrating with her daughter. Her oldest daughter has always been strong, one of the most eye wakening thing that happened when she left permanently was her daughter’s, she didn’t care about the home or cars being left behind. All they cared about was our safety and our love for each other.
On many occasions he threatened her. He threatened to burn her house down with all of them in it. He threatened to kill her and wished her dead more times than she can ever count. More often than not, when he would threaten her she would make it known to him that I was going to fight back, and she did. She had gotten so accustomed to having to fight back that she ignored the fact that he was a black belt in martial arts and had even owned a martial arts school in North Carolina. She thinks a lot of victims have the misconception that as long as they're fighting back that they will be okay. In reality, no one should fear being hit or having to defend himself/herself against someone who is suppose to love them.
Unfortunately her ex has never gotten help. She kept going back in hope that one day he would, because he always promised to get help and would even go as far as making, but not keeping, the appointments. His employer offered free mental health counseling and two of his co- workers, who were also his best friends, encouraged him to take advantage of that help. They even offered to attend counseling sessions with him. He never went and that was a big factor when she filed for custody of our daughter a few years ago and was granted sole custody. He was granted no visitation unless she deemed it appropriate and even then he is forbidden, by court order, to take their daughter out of state. The order lists, among other things, that he never sought help.
She says that she wants to tell women and men in an abusive situation that they are not alone. There are people praying for them, rooting for them, and willing to help them and we will not pass judgment. There are women who have survived domestic violence who know what it’s like to leave behind everything, and what it’s like to stay in a shelter. We know what it’s like to brazenly file for the order of protection and have that request denied. Women, like Dawn understand the fear of what may happen if you leave. We know the concerns for your children, your finances, your pets. I promise, you can recover it all! It won’t be overnight and it may not be easy, but you can do it! Of course, safety and a safe exit plan are the most important things but if you prepare yourself a little every day, even if it’s just to find a way to make a call to an organization like Family Services so that someone is aware of your situation, it makes a difference in terms of empowering and preparing yourself. Believe in yourself and remind yourself that you can and will get out of the abusive situation that holds you captive. It’s not easy but you can do it and there are people who care and want to help!
Dawn says now she very blessed now! She is a domestic violence and child molestation public speaker and victims’ advocate. She is currently completing requirements to get licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in the state of NC, and is working to complete her law degree! She is married to the most wonderful man and “Pops” to her children. They have been together for 6 years and she has never even feared being hit, cursed, or disrespected. Her oldest daughter, who is determined, accomplished, and very loved daughter has graduated with honors from Georgia State University with a B.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in pre-med, and is completing graduate level prerequisites for Physician’s Assistant School. Her youngest, and equally loved,bright and funny daughter, is in the 5th grade. She wants women and men who are in abusive relationships to know is that your children can also go on to live very fulfilling and positive lives! They don’t have to become a negative statistic! So, yes, life is good- not perfect, but we are enjoying it!
One of the things I want to do is to be a bigger part of the community and try to make a difference. This month I want to shed the light on some unspoken but realistic things that are happening everyday around us sexual and domestic violence. As women we always try to come across as strong, capable and that we can take on anything but we all need to let our guard down at times to let people in. This is something that is very important to me and very close to home but unlike two strong women I know I am not ready to tell my story. I have recently been working with Forsyth Family Services and I wanted to share two real stories with you. Here is our first story.
First I would like to introduce you to Briana Sherrod a 27 year old mom and wife, who was raised in a typical family who raised her to be a strong independent woman who no one would mess with. But in November 2013 this all changed, she always remembered her mom "“Park under a street light in the parking lot so your car is well lite and you can see your surroundings!" which was exactly what she did, so she felt safe. But this is where her story really starts "I get about 5 steps from the dormitory entrance when out of the corner of my eye I see a man running toward me with his hood over his face. He grabs my arms and threatens to shoot me if I scream. Remember how my parents taught me to stand up for myself?...yea that all went down the drain because I froze and just did whatever this random man told me to.
We proceeded to my car where he then made me drive out into the county of an area I am unfamiliar with (this is not where I grew up I was just here to slimily get an education- but ended up meeting my husband, we were engaged at this time) he said he just wanted money from me and If I pulled down this road then there would be an ATM there. Well as I turn onto this dirt road, I knew better! He forced me to park my car at this abandoned house where he proceeded to rap me multiple times and then forced me to leave without even letting me get my pants up yet. We drove for a while until we got to an ATM where he still proceeded to rob me and Jonathan for all we have, then made me take him to the store where he bought cigarettes with MY money!
I dropped him off wherever he told me and drove as fast as I could back to the dorm where my friend was. Thank God for an off-duty cop that was on campus that night, she was also the one who held my hand during the rap kit! They found this man within about 3 hours thanks to him leaving finger prints on my cellphone! We went to court about a week later and he was sentenced to 26 years minimum in prison. That gave me a little closer but what helped me the most was my faith in God, and clinging to him because he was the only one that could’ve saved me that night! The sheriff’s department and police station worked well together for my sake and to help me with this random attack. I thank God for our officers and detectives, I feel like I have a second family now that I can count on to protect me! It took me a couple years to get where I could share my story; I think this is because I’m not one to want a lot of attention and for people to feel sorry for me. I had to realize that if I let this situation be for nothing then that man wins, and that’s what he wanted is to keep me quite and for him to get away with whatever he was trying to accomplish that night."
Since then Brianna has vowed to help others, she remains a strong, independent woman who wanted to bring awareness to other women who may have experienced anything like this. In 2014 she got married and welcomed her son in 2015, they give her a reason to fight for what is important in life. it is time to do something, this didn’t happen for any reason! She felt that "something good has got to come from this!” So she hosted a Walkin’ The Park to End Sexual Assault as her first fundraiser event and all proceeds went to Family Services for them to use in their victim’s advocate program. This year she is back at it, along with a group of close friends have created a name for themselves #WeAreFearless and they are hosting a dinner event on April 26th at 6:30 in Clemmons at The Barn at Taglewood Park! Tickets are available for purchase until April 19th.
Here are some words from her. Thank you for listening to my story and how I’ve overcame this obstacle in my life. That’s right; it’s just a speed bump, not a stop sign! Use what you’re going through or went through to help others and encourage them and it will end up helping you more than you know! If you aren’t comfortable with that or don’t think you’re ready, try writing it in a journal first to get your thoughts out then when you’re ready, start to share! I know this isn’t a domestic situation, but I still want to encourage you that you’re not alone and you can get through whatever situation you’re in!
Although mother nature decided to bring us a lovely day of rain it did not keep people away. We had such a fun night networking and meeting new friends. Thank you to everyone that came out to support us and participated in the event, we look forward to bringing more amazing evenings to Winston Salem in 2019! We have a great venue and swag items for March, hope you can join us.
Camel City BBQ
Jacquie Pane with Mary Kay
Emily Stessman with Paparazzi
Starla Nichols with Color Street
At the beginning of these pregnancy I vowed to eat healthy and continue working out at the gym whilst maintaining my strength through yoga. Well what would you know I haven't done a single thing in 6 weeks and it is so hard to find the motivation to start again. This cold weather along with the rain we are having is miserable and I am officially in a rut! I am sure I am not the only one who is wishing to maintain their health but is having trouble knowing where to start and so I have been on the hunt for some great online resources to share with you. I personally LOVE working out when I have the motivation and have always loved yoga but have never been dedicated to continuing it long enough to see any real improvement, but this week I am determined to do something! Once you get into some good healthy habits you feel so much better physically and mentally, they also say summer bodies are made in the winter!
Here are so great ideas for you all:
Yoga with Adriene
Pregnancy work out (2nd & 3rd trimester)
Prenatal Barre Workout
30 Minute Cardio HIT
Fun Hip Hop Tabata Workout
30 Minute Barre Workout
Low Impact 30 Minute Cardio
Today has been one of those days where I take a look at the society we live in, the lack of humanity around us and how we are failing as human beings. Working in education has always been a passion for me, I love seeing children grow and their love for learning. But for me it goes much further than the basic skills and subjects we teach them during their time at school. I want to make a difference in a child's life, my philosophy has always been that if everyday I can make a difference to one person I am doing something right. Now although I am talking about children here I believe that we have the capability to help someone everyday no matter what our career field and our financial situation. Sometimes it is the simple things like telling someone they look nice, to have a nice day, take the time to tell them thank you, make them feel appreciated and do something to give back. Together was a particularly hard day for me at work. Now because of my position I cannot go into details but let me just tell you that I will never understand how any decent human being can purposely hurt someone, especially an innocent child.
I am sitting at home right now after a warm meal with my family, with a roof over my head and in a household full of love. But there are so many people whose situation is far different from mine but yet they do not have the voice to speak up for themselves. Or worse yet they do eventually stand up for themselves yet the police or social services do nothing but place them back in harms way. It breaks my hurt to know that there is nothing I can do to make it better, nothing I can do to take their pain away and so all I do is offer them a trusting ear, a safe place to communicate and a kind hug when it is needed.
As humans we sometimes need to take a moment to remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs,. There are our basic needs of water, warmth, food, rest, security and safety. Then we have our psychological needs our longing to feel loved, belongingness, friends, family and our esteem needs. Finally we have our self fulfillment needs where we can reach our full potential and achieve out dreams. Now imagine those basic needs as pillars that hold up our life, take them away then our life is out of balance or even worse it would fall apart without support. That is what is happening to people all around the world today, in our local community and in the schools in our area. It upsets me that so many people are capable of making a difference, to take a step forward to help someone who is struggle and instead they carry on about their daily routine. I had a fellow employee once ask me if I would rather work with the good students, the ones who listen and do their work. I was quick to answer that no, I would always rather work with the troubled the kids. These students are the ones that require extra time, I have to invest time to build trust and relationships, they may cuss at me but at the end of the day to me these are the students that need me. Over the last few years in my position I have been cussed at, had tables/desks thrown in my room and although it is crazy to say but most of those kids who acted that way towards me are my favorites. Because eventually we established a mutually understanding relationship, I felt that I was making a difference and I would not change a thing about the job I do.
Now I know that my story has got a little off topic but with the recent stories and politics that talk about adoption, abortion, the immigrant situation and the homeless people in our country. It reminds me of an old saying, that charity starts at home, no one person can fix a situation but if we each made a little effort everyday to make a difference in one persons life a day. Them the world we live in would be a much more brighter place! We need to take the time to teach our children to see the beauty in the world and those around us, the teach them what humanity and morals are. Because recently I look around and I see humans but I see a lack of humanity!
Our January event was a huge hit! Thank you to everyone that came out to support us and participated in the event, we look forward to bringing more amazing evenings to Winston Salem in 2019!
Fiddlin Fish Brewery
Kelly Benson with Rodan & Fields
Avery & Maude with CycleBar
Taina Norris with Mary Kay
Debbie Baisden & Emily Saunders with Momsanity
Rhonda Johnson with Primerica and Limitless Empowerment
Marissa Faircloth with Restoration Med Spa
Forsyth Family Services
It is hard to believe that we are already 11 days into the new year and for many of us that may mean new opportunities, resolutions and starting fresh. But for many women and children in our local community this means something completely different. This month we are supporting Family Services of Forsyth County, I am sure most of you have an idea of what they do to support people within our community but did you know that they have:
Here are a few things that the Shelter staff shared as needs:
Towels, Sheets—all sizes—the Shelter has twin beds, but other sized sheets can be used when women move out. Pajamas—for all sizes, women and children. Household cleaning products and basket for organization—to provide to families when they transition out of the shelter into their own home, diapers and wipes. They appreciate new linens and clothing (pjs), but can accept towels and sheets in very good condition.
Please bring any donations you can afford to donate to our first event of 2019 @ Fiddlin Fish Brewery. January 16th from 5:30 - 8:30pm.
,The last two years of my life have been full of so many emotions but I am glad to say that 2018 was a year of reflection. I started to focus only the things I could control, so with that in mind I completed my associates degree and started college at Western Carolina to work toward to teaching degree. I also took control of my finances, found this wonderful opportunity, fell deeper in love with Carl and stopped punishing myself for not having enough hours in the day to make everyone happy. As a mother I often find myself saying I am a bad mom, but during 2018 I decided that because I was always worried if I was doing a good job that I was indeed a good mama. We got to visit England see family that I had not seen in 5 years, we made memories that I will forever cherish and explored new places in Europe as a family. In 2018 I did not make a new years resolution but instead enjoyed the ride, I learnt a lot about myself in the past year and embraced the person I am today. We had a busy Christmas and as the New Year approached I was excited for our future. Little did I know though that the first thing that would happen to me in 2019 was that my best friend would propose to me in front of our family, of course I cried and said yes. Now we are 7 days into the new year and I know that 2019 is going to be a whirlwind of emotions, busy but full of magical things happening. Our family will be expanding in May/June with the new baby and we will be getting married in October. This is my second chance at happiness and I could not ask for a better person to be doing life with. In 2019 I want to push myself out of my comfort zone, make more time for my daughter, take more trips to the park to play, make new friends and cherish the ones I have. Be better prepared financially, be more spontaneous, reach out to people in my community and take the time to appreciate everything I have in my life. Life is never perfect, but my glass will always be half full, never half empty because I so much to be grateful for. I hope that in 2019 everyone is able to be grateful for all the positives in your life and remember that every day provides a new opportunity. What is your dream for 2019?
Finally after many years in a very unhappy relationship I have found love again and we are excited to be welcoming a baby boy in June 2019. It has been 6 years since I was pregnant last and this time being 34 I am considered AMA (advanced maternal age). With my first pregnancy I was lucky to have a stress free pregnancy but this time I am stressed to the max with worry. I was offered the quad test at 15 weeks pregnant, which we decided to go ahead and do but I did not know how much anxiety this would cause. The test was not explained in great detail, we just knew we wanted more information about the health of our baby. We waited for the results and they came back positive for Trisomy 18 (This is a chromosomal disorder that causes severe developmental delays and abnormalities in the structure of the body. Trisomy 18 is often fatal by age 1.). When the results were delivered to us, all I focused on was that my baby likely had the disorder not that it only meant I was at a higher risk for carrying a baby with Trisomy 18. When you have prayed and waiting so long for another chance at love and another baby to complete our family, I felt devastated., Normally google can be your worst enemy when trying to get my information about a medical diagnosis, but this time it actually put my mind at ease. After much research, guess what the" increased" risk is? For a lady that is 35 years old your risk is less than 1% for a chromosomal abnormality. (0.56% to be exact.) That means that you have over a 99% chance of having a completely normal healthy baby. Now we are waiting on the second round of results from the MaterniT 21 PLUS noninvasive prenatal test.. Has anyone experienced anything similar to this, I could really do with some positive comments. I was hoping to spend the Christmas break working on his nursery and such but it is hard with this in the back on my mind.
The past 2 Christmas's have been nothing short of a headache especially with my daughters father demanding to visit last minute (he is the king of not planned ahead or keeping to his word). Last year was our first as a blended family, it was full of lack of communication, disappointed family members and an overall somber feel in the house. After feeling like we were forced to spend the holidays divided last year, this year we started planning the holidays months ahead of time. We communicated with everyone what our plans were and made sure to set time aside to see everyone around the holidays! I reached out to my daughters biological father back in September to ask him what his plans were and to express my concerns of any last minute plans. I wanted to make sure that my daughter got to see him, especially for a weekend to do something special around Christmas. It is now December 11th and he still does not know where he "wants to be" for Christmas. So we have made our own plans and I am hoping we are able to keep to them all without upsetting anyone. My main concern through all of this is my daughter, I want her to have the best Christmas she can full of love and magic. So lets hope this is can be enjoyable, stress free, full of love, excitement and yummy food!
There is nothing worse that feeling like you have disappointed people but are driven by your own desire to create new family traditions. For me it is even harder because the only family I have in the US are my parents, everyone else still lives in England. I get really homesick during the holidays, wishing I could visit London to see all of the lights and hug all of my family members. If you ever get the chance to visit London, England in December do it, from the lights in oxford street, to the German Christmas Markets it is full of magic. I hope no matter what your situation is this Christmas, that you can make it as magically as it should be.
If you are like us and have a blended family, what are your tips for the holiday season?