You had a very rough start in life. Tell us about your childhood.
I grew up in a violent, dysfunctional family, however, hardly anyone knew that because I went to a private Christian school and we lived in a nice house. My parents divorced when I was two and my mom remarried to a much older man who kind of swept her off her feet.
Starting at four, I was subjected to physical abuse and then at 8, sexual abuse by a male figure. I developed binge eating disorder as a way to cope with the trauma, and later Body Dysmorphic Disoder and bulimia, which lasted for over fifteen years. My mom sexually abused me from the ages of 9 to 13 until the police removed me from my house. I suppressed those memories until my late twenties.
Read the full interview at Plaid for Women.
Nearly seven years ago, I was living in New York City, modeling, and battling several mental illnesses. My mother and I were trying to work through our complicated relationship, one that stemmed from years’ worth of domestic violence, abuse, and alcoholism. In my heart, I wanted so badly to try and understand my mother and have a genuine connection with her, but it was like trying to climb a giant hill wearing cement shoes. Not only did my mental health conditions keep me from moving forward and connecting with her, but so did hers. Bipolar, dissociative identity disorder, and her battle with the bottle were demons that kept her permanently trapped until her death in 2012.
Today would be Mom’s fiftieth birthday, and here I am, in New York City on a business trip, thinking about her.
Read more on PsychCentral.
“My modeling career was anything but typical. I wasn’t plucked out of a mall or grocery store; I wasn’t even discovered. I didn’t just ‘fall’ into the industry by chance, either, although I was a serious nerd who never thought she belonged with the fashion industry’s elite. I pushed my way into the business, desperate for love and acceptance, because quite frankly, I didn’t receive a lot of it at home. When I did start modeling as a teen and later in my early twenties, it wasn’t ‘exciting,’ although I often fantasized that I was a glamorous supermodel because it lifted my low self-esteem. At some point, I did reach a pretty high level in my career, and I paid a high price for it, as I talk about in my soon-to-be-released memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. I was more familiar with abuse, poor body image, and distorted ideals of love than confidence and beauty, which all pushed me to look for acceptance in places where I could never find it. The modeling industry was one of those places, and it proved to be an illusionary world, one where I felt that I had to remain high, drunk, or starved in order to exist in it.”
Read more on Business of Modeling.
As a survivor of childhood, adult, family and domestic abuse, I am passionate about raising awareness not only on a political level, but for each and every person who is still suffering in their own hell and afraid to get help.
You don’t have to be a victim any longer. No matter what situation you are in, or how powerful your abuser claims to be, the second YOU decide to get out and get help, your hell will be over. Seek out help, and seek it out NOW, before it’s too late.
Think nothing will happen to you? Ok, fair enough, I understand. Here’s a little bit of my story, and about my mom.
My mother used to think that nothing REALLY dangerous would happen to her; She thought she was invincible.
Last year when she mixed alcoholism and an abusive relationship together, her life came to an end. I begged her for months to stop this relationship with her abuser. Her bruises became more and more evident as time went on all over her body. Her abuser was also her enabler and also knew that the more that he kept her knocked-out drunk, the more that she would stay with him. This relationship only lasted for a few months. The beatings and the drinking spiraled out of control, until one day in August 2012, domestic violence and alcohol took both their lives in a car accident.
Still think that nothing will happen to you if you stay in an abusive relationship? Think again. Keep playing with fire and you WILL get burned, and maybe to death. Why don’t you love yourself enough right NOW to get the help available in your area?
Use your right and voice to help put a stop to domestic violence. One out of every four women in the United States are victims of domestic violence. Tell the Senate to reauthorize #VAWA & its critical protections tomorrow.
Visit Girls Inc. to find out more information about how you can take action now!