Nikki Dubose will present “Addiction in the Modeling Field.” Nikki is a model, author, and advocate. She is the Co-Founder of The Artists League for Change, a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing mental health issues and abuse through the creative arts, and is an Ambassador for the Shaw Mind Foundation. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light will be released in French in 2018 with Editions du Rocher.
Anxiety is just as much caused by our President and his inability to control his Twitter as it is by other environmental and genetic factors. You just can’t escape politics, the almighty ego club. Social media raised the throne of policy makers to tweet golden promises, but it was clear after this last legislative session in New York that the children were left out in the cold, groveling on their knees once again. The most pitiful aspect about The Child Victims Act never passing the GOP-controlled NY State Senate was that it was never a political issue; boiled down, it was about protecting children from sexual abuse. Sexual abuse that leads to expensive and damaging, potentially life-long mental health conditions.
Financially, a child who endures sexual abuse will spend an average of $210,000 over the course of their lifetime in recovery-related expenses, according to a recent study published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. It’s sad to think that we even have to count these costs, but the truth is that, if our families are stable and healthy, are children will be, too. A child protected from sexual abuse and mental illness equals a robust economy and thriving nation.
I just loved recording my story of hope and inspiration with Not Broken Radio, Brett Francis. Listen in, and share your story of overcoming trauma and mental illness. Let me know how my memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light has helped you. Shoot me an email at email@example.com
Nikki DuBose is seeking interns for a new, dynamic Coalition (national) dedicated to PREVENTING sexual abuse, assault, harassment and mental health issues for people of all ages. Started by an artist (model and author) for artists. (You don’t have to be an artist to join, just appreciate the creative arts). As the co-founder, Nikki is searching for interns for: Social Media Outreach Administrative PR
Please send interests to: firstname.lastname@example.org, CC Jan Lewis.
You, the people, responded to the action call to let Governor Jerry Brown know how important it was to sign AB 1312 into law. Because of your support, he listened, and signed AB 1312 into law yesterday, extending rights to 11 million sexual assault survivors in California! THANK YOU.
I want to thank Jerry Brown for signing bills this week to help empower women, children, and families. As a survivor of 17 years of mental health issues and a director of League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and Mental Health Co-Chair, I am so grateful for EVERY piece of legislation that is signed into law to prevent, protect, and empower others. I always say this, but we must step up and help one another as a society – government plays a tremendous role in ensuring that the rest of the nation has a reduction in shame with mental health issues and an improved access to care.
For the full list of bills, visit here.
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a touching and unforgettable book written by Nikki DuBose and co-written by James Johanson. It is a moving and shocking memoir of a former supermodel as she recounts her dark and painful childhood which deeply affected her self-perception and thrust her to a life of alcohol and substance abuse, eating disorder, psychosis, body dysmorphic disorder and suicide.
You know when you read a book, and once you’ve put it down, you’re still thinking about it, yeah? Well, that was with me with this book. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. A heartwarming but equally heartbreaking tale of one girl’s struggle through child abuse, addiction, a chaotic family life, rape, grief and complex mental health problems.
A good book has to trigger emotions, whether that be happiness, sadness, anger or something else. I cried while reading this book, so I think it’s safe to say what emotion it provoked. I was deeply touched by Nikki’s struggles. I couldn’t fathom how someone could go through so much yet still be fighting on. And for that, I only have admiration for Nikki. The courage it must have taken to keep going is unthinkable.
Support for an adequately funded mental health care system which provides comprehensive services to the acutely, chronically and seriously mentally ill of all ages, maintains optimal mental health services for all clients, places emphasis on meeting the needs of children, offers mental health services for the homeless, seeks additional funds for preventative services, implements a master plan to integrate services, raises awareness of critical unmet needs, and emphasizes case management.
Support for the following:
An adequately funded county mental health care system which:
Provides comprehensive services to the acutely, chronically and seriously mentally ill of all ages;
Place emphasis on meeting the needs of children;
Seeks additional funds to provide preventative services;
Offers mental health services for the homeless;
Maintains optimal mental health services for all clients.
Implementation of a master plan which:
Ensures that there will be a network of integrated community based services clearly defined and consistent;
Advocates an awareness of and concern about the critical unmet needs within the county;
Emphasizes case management which includes assistance with housing, financial, entitlements, rehabilitative and vocational programs.
Centers for the seriously and chronically mentally ill apart from the county system.
Regulations which provide an adequate length of time for evaluation and treatment of involuntary holds.
A model mandatory outpatient care program with adequate supervisory staff.
*Taken from the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles County – Adopted Program 2016-2018
I partnered with Rise Together to bring awareness to the millions who are affected by suicide, bullying, addiction, and more during #NationalRecoveryMonth.
I’m #SpeakingOutLouder because I am a survivor of suicide. In fact, my entire life I’ve dealt with suicidal ideation. My mother was in and out of mental care facilities when I was a teen because she attempted against her life. Some of my friends and family members did not survive suicide, and I believe that if we, as a society, put an end to the shaming, hatred, and blaming, we can help prevent suicide. I think that we have to work together to look for better suicide prevention strategies and invest more in mental health. Every life is precious, and everybody has something valuable to contribute to the world.
Model, Author, Advocate, Survivor
How are YOU SpeakingOutLouder during #NationalRecoveryMonth? Take a pic with the #SpeakingOutLouder and post on social!
#Repost @cosmiccolette (@get_repost)
WHAT YOU COULDN’T TELL 😔💔 One of the major misconceptions about mental illnesses is that you have to LOOK sad/sick to have one. Even after having a mental illness for 5 years I still believed this myself and it prevented me from seeking help. Instead of getting the treatment I deserved, I tried to numb the pain myself. At my worst, I would go on multiple nights out a week and get as drunk as possible and get with as many guys as I could too! 😣 On the outside it looked like I was a normal teenager just having fun partying (see left photo). What you couldn’t see was that my life was falling apart. Before every party I would starve all day and at the end of every night I would lock myself in my room and binge until I made myself sick. I would end every night in floods of tears and even scream into my pillow and self harm because I was so hysterical. I tried to get with as many guys as I could because it boosted my self esteem for that short moment. I placed all of my self worth on what other people thought of me. On my outer appearance. I was lost and couldn’t see anything good about myself, and was battling with suicidal thoughts every day. Of course on the outside you couldn’t tell this, and I even stopped visiting my family so they wouldn’t question my behaviours. I became friends with people who were also mentally ill so I could hide and stay sick. Nothing got better until I accepted that I couldn’t survive like this anymore. I was leading a double life and I was at rock bottom. I did so many things to turn my life around. I cut out toxic friendships, I went to the doctor and got professional help, I did CBT, I finally opened up to my family, I stopped using sex/dating as a coping mechanism… and more!! Now I am finally free of mental illness and all I want is to help others. This is why I wrote a book all about the 23 stages I took to get myself back. 70+ pages of my story with advice for you included. Details about my disorder, my friendships, my past relationships and how I came through the other side. If you want to get your copy the link is in my Instagram bio 💖😊 Their is little difference between the two photos..
Australian-based photographer Jennifer Blau decided to take the focus off of appearance with eating disorder sufferers. She purposefully shot those who were at a societally acceptable “normal weight .”
Because eating disorders affect people at all shapes and sizes, Blau had a desire to tilt more on the message that it’s what’s on the inside that matters, as well as our feelings; society needs to be aware, educated, and sensitive to this message. Her exhibition is appropriately entitled “Just Ask Me How I Feel,” on display at Manly-Library .
Earlier this year, I was very kindly gifted a copy of ‘Washed Away: From Darkness To Light’, a memoir written by former model and turned author and advocate, Nikki DuBose. Within the book, Nikki documents some of her most personal life events, from childhood sexual abuse to revealing how the model industry fuelled her all-encompassing battle with various eating disorders.
I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to read and review it at first as I didn’t think it would be my cup of tea. I don’t have much interest in fashion or modelling and so was quick to dismiss the book in it’s entirety. The second I heard the words ‘mental health’ and ‘modelling’ in the same sentence, I couldn’t help but fear that this book might glamorise mental illness and in particular, eating disorders.
However, you know what they say: ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ and in this circumstance, that saying proved truer than ever.
Inner beauty: you can’t sell it, but it’s your most important feature. Every month on magazine covers, we buy into the promise of “ten steps to…” a better body, bank account, romance, and more, but we hardly focus on the one thing that really matters, which is our souls.
Real happiness is found on the inside. However, we rush off to the stores in an effort to buy our way to true bliss, and this is what keeps us perpetually trapped in the advertising illusion. Things are not bad, neither is wanting to be beautiful, but our minds, souls, and emotions are precious, and they make up the foundation to which all other forms of joy grow. If our minds are out of balance, then how can we expect to ever be truly happy? If we fail to nourish our souls first, then we will never see ourselves as truly beautiful, and we may constantly look to others to validate us.
After reading Nikki’s memoir I was lost for words. What a remarkable woman, I thought, and oh so courageous! To openly speak out about darker times in your past is draining, difficult and so daunting (I know because I’ve also opened up about my mental health issues through the form of poetry in book form). Putting it out there, for the world to see, is absolutely terrifying. And Nikki shares so much with us. You can’t fault a word in Nikki’s memoir: It is her whole life in your hands. You can feel it. You can feel her pain, her thought process, and more importantly – her desire to be loved. Nikki desperately wanted to be loved throughout her whole life and it breaks your heart reading about her life knowing that there is nothing you can do. I wanted to reach out to this young girl and tell her she is deeply loved – if only someone had.
On June 7th, 2017, Gary Greenberg of Fighting for Children PAC (Protect NY Kids), Peaceful Hearts Foundation and Nikki DuBose along with Lauren’s Kids will host a “Walk in My Shoes” display at the Albany Capitol with accompanying stories from survivor’s/victims impact statements displayed to raise awareness during Children’s Awareness Month. Although this month typically brings awareness to the violence against kids, we are standing up and calling forth to the sexual violence and sexual abuse that affects more than 43,000 children annually in the state of New York and more than 43,000,000 around the nation. You can help in two ways.
Donating shoes. We are collecting men’s shoes, women’s shoes, children’s shoes of all types – high end, tattered, athletic, and so forth, to show that sexual violence can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. We need shoes and stories to show lawmakers the enormous impact that sexual violence has on our society. After the event, all of the shoes will be donated to a local homeless shelter or rape crisis center.
Participating virtually. Take a picture of your shoes and upload to social media with the #walkinmyshoes #s809 along with a sentence on why ending child sexual abuse is so important to you. We will repost every entry.
Remember back when I read Lady Injury, when I told you that I liked a book…but then warned you not to read it? That’s exactly how I feel about Washed Away. In fact, the books are as similar as they are different, just as the two women are. Both books are about eating disorders and extremely severe mental illness. Both books are horrifically triggering and devastating. But, just as no two people are the same, no two mental illnesses are the same–and thus, no two memoirs could be the same either.
I was naturally a shy, introverted child. Add in an abusive environment, a mother with severe mental illness, substance abuse, and an early battle with eating disorders, and my shyness was lit on fire.
Turning inward to the extreme and developing depression, playdates in my room with stencils, colored pencils and drawing pads were my everything. This was my way to connect to life and imaginary people.
Child sexual predators often place themselves in areas where they have easy access to children. This is one reason why teachers, babysitters, nannies, mothers, fathers, priests, and summer camp workers make excellent abusers. And while Florida has made great strides to protect children from predators in child-care centers, they are falling behind in one major area: summer camp. (1)
Recently, the Palm Beach Post probed and discovered that camps in Florida have no restrictions, therefore there are no boundaries placed on how the camps operate. (1) Abuse can happen and does happen, and nobody is there to prevent or stop it.
Defying Mental Illness (DMI) recently had the unique and exclusive opportunity to meet Nikki and interview her. Nikki’s story is truly remarkable and will inspire you…
DMI: Wow, Nikki, what an honour to interview you today. You have an interesting story that you would like to share with DMI. You were a former model that was climbing high in your career at remarkable speed. However, there was a dark side you were struggling with.
You were challenged with several mental disorders. While you were probably the envy of your friends, secretly, they were your envy! Tell us, a little bit about who Nikki first and foremost. Give us an insight into your childhood.
We recently got to ask Nikki DuBose – A former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate a few questions.
Here’s what we got to talk about.
1) Do you have any advice for young teens and young adults battling with an eating disorder who want to get better and start their road to recovery but don’t know where to begin or don’t think they’re strong enough to make that commitment of an everyday fight to recover and start the healing process?
Nikki DuBose is a mental health advocate, ambassador, public speaker and writer. She is also a former model who has experienced the dark side of the fashion industry. Her harrowing journey includes childhood abuse, addiction, self harm, rape, eating disorders, psychosis and various other mental health issues. It’s undoubtable a frightening read, but an important one.
We follow Nikki from childhood, through her years as a teenager and as an adult. Divided into chapters with focus on different themes, she provides us with an honest account of what was going through her head at the time and how she experienced it. It’s refreshing to read something so raw and sincere.
I’ve spent many an afternoon wandering around the library. To me the library has always been a place of opportunity, and it has helped me find books that ignite new interests and explain unknown worlds to me. I’ve loved collecting books over the years, and looking back at my favourites reminds me if where I was at that point in my life, how I was feeling and what I was doing.
Having depression and anxiety means I often look for answers in the books I read. Recently I reflected on some of the books that helped me make sense of my own mental illness and it’s something that I think you might find helpful, so I’ve listed my top 3 books below.
A consortium of anti-sexual violence groups led by Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR) has asked the Commonwealth Club of California to cancel the appearance of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, scheduled for May 1. Mackey is set to appear at the Cubberley Theatre in Palo Alto, in conversation with Dr. Dean Ornish.
Author Nikki DuBose of Washed Away: From Darkness to Light was recently interviewed on addiction and recovery. Here she offers a recap on everything from when her addiction began to how to help a loved one who may be suffering.
1. Can you pinpoint when your problems with addiction began?
I was wired for addiction – my mother had bipolar and dissociative identity disorder and her mother (she was adopted) died from cirrhosis of the liver as a result of alcoholism.
“. . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me . . .”
I let the words sink in, and then I looked out my bedroom window that overlooked the water; for once, I took in the scenery not in fear, but in admiration of the sun as it descended below the horizon. The setting of the sun was a reminder of the magnificence of creation.
“If God made the sun, surely he made me. He must love me, too. I’m going to believe that no matter what, God is with me. When I’m afraid, God is right by my side. I might not see Him physically, but I can see him with my soul; simply because I believe that God is with me, He is,” I thought.
Today as I hiked with my blind and deaf Australian Shepherd and friends up and down rocky trails and around the azure waves of the Pacific, I was amazed at the beauty of God’s creation and the magnitude of his power.
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.
Former model turned author and activist Nikki DuBose, was in San Francisco to challenge Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey to stand up for child sexual abuse survivors and speak about her role in the Omnibus Child Victims Act in the state of New York.
Pick up Nikki’s book Washed Away: From Darkness to Light on Amazon.
Listen to the podcast with Nikki and Bill Murray here.
Tonight’s special guest is Nikki DuBose from Los Angeles, a returning NAASCA family member who was abused as a child and later as a young professional model. Nikki works closely with Matt Sandusky at the ‘Peaceful Hearts Foundation,’ and will tell us about her new book, ‘Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.’ In her memoir, Nikki details how being sexually abused as a child led to a seventeen-year battle with serious mental health issues such as eating disorders, depression, self-harm, substance abuse and sexual addictions. She experienced a great deal of success, yet that prosperity came with a high price that often mirrored the sexual abuse from her youth. Among other things, Nikki advocates on her web site for better regulation of the modeling industry. Coming to a place of full healing has not been easy for Nikki, but she says, “I wholeheartedly believe that full recovery is possible. It starts with speaking out and reducing the shame and stigma that is so often attached to mental health issues.” She goes on, “Being an advocate is what allows me to wake up every day and feel truly alive. All of that pain that I lived with for so many years is now channeled into making a difference in society. Whatever issues you’re passionate about, use your voice and the resources you have; love yourself first and from there you can help to change the world.” We’re delighted to have Nikki as a card-carrying member of the NAASCA family!
If you are looking for a story about a remarkable human being, with perseverance and resilience, who describes her horrifying and haunting life story with candor and courage, than I highly recommend Washed Away: From Darkness To Light, a memoir by Nikki DuBose with James Johanson. It is definitely not a light read – so be forewarned now. Washed Away is emotionally wrenching, compelling and brutally honest, truly providing insight into the mind of someone with mental illness and allowing the reader to understand her deepest and darkest thoughts.
The other day, while sitting and rehashing all of my thoughts over to my psychiatrist through the computer screen, I began to feel annoyed. There he was, blissfully writing away on his notepad, while I regurgitated the same, unhappy words. “What does he really think? And why does he find my pain so funny?” I thought. But then I stopped and started to listen to my words. And I realized something. As much as I had tried to fool myself into thinking that I was no longer a paranoid person, or unaffected by the thoughts and behaviors of others, I was completely and utterly wrong.
So I snapped out of my tunnel, looked him square in the eyes (which can be hard for me to do with him), and said, “Stop writing on your little notepad.” He stopped. I noticed that he was maintaining that smirk on his face. I continued. “No matter how much I talk to you, my paranoia still exists, and in fact, it seems to get worse. And…all you can do is smile. I feel crazy!”
Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate. She recently released her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. In Washed Away, Nikki recounts her experiences navigating the dark side of the modeling industry, while battling abuse, addiction, and various mental health issues. She recently appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network on the TD Jakes Show to speak about her recovery from Body Dysmorphic Disorder and eating disorders, and how the pressure to “fit into” the modeling industry nearly killed her.
Keep reading to learn more about this incredibly strong and inspiring woman, Nikki!
“Author, speaker, and mental health advocate, Nikki DuBose, epitomizes the word brave. She courageously talks about tough topics that others shy away from. I know, because I am one. For a long time, I wasn’t prepared to talk about my own trauma. (I didn’t even realize I had experienced trauma.) But, with the support of people like Nikki, I have opened up. Thanks, Nikki, for encouraging many of us to share our stories. With this post, I am thrilled to have had the chance to interview Nikki about the release of her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.”
Nikki DuBose joins us today on The SHAIR podcast. Nikki is a former model turned author, speaker and mental health advocate. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, was released September 30, 2016. In Washed Away, Nikki recounts her experiences navigating the dark side of the modeling industry, while battling abuse, addiction, and various mental health issues. She recently appeared in the Oprah Winfrey Network on the T.D Jakes show to speak about her recovery from body dysmorphic order and eating disorders and how the pressure to fit into the modeling industry nearly killed her.
In light of the latest presidential election, I think it’s great that the Western world has sort of woken up and decided to get more involved with advocacy work. After all, there is a positive side to every seemingly negative situation, not that I hate Trump, because I don’t. What I am saying is that, every time I go on social media, it seems that a vast majority of Americans, particularly liberal females and the men who support them, are constantly pushing forth issues they are passionate about, and how they can make significant changes for good.
I am all for being an advocate . Five years ago, I began to campaign for the rights of those in the eating disorder community, while I was still in the throes of my own eating disorder and learning how to recover from a range of mental illnesses. In fact, helping others and pushing for change in my community, teaming up with national associations and bring awareness to issues is one of the biggest reasons why I believe I got to a strong place of recovery. It’s also why I am now so heavily involved in helping to pass legislation and want to run for office one day.
Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT interviews Nikki DuBose on her recovery from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Binge-Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa. Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, speaks about her experience with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Binge-Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, Schizophrenia and child abuse.
“That face. . .Look at it!” I didn’t question the voice. I leaned in until my eyes crossed and my nose touched the mirror. My glasses began to fog from my breath. The voice continued, and then another voice joined it: a giggly, female voice. “Four eyes! Loser. No one will ever love you. What an ugly thing you are. I can’t tell if you look like a girl or a boy. Get to work fatty! Change that face. Don’t stop moving until it’s done. You can win, you can be the winner!” — “Washed Away: From Darkness to Light”
In my newly released memoir, “Washed Away: From Darkness to Light,” I discuss many of the graphic events that led to my mental breakdown in childhood. I think that sharing our stories is critical because there are many hurting people in the world who will benefit from our experiences, and also the more we share, the more we continue to heal and grow.
I could feel the sadness creeping up again, like an unwelcome relative looking over my shoulder and breathing down my neck. I didn’t want it to come, but it did, and I knew that I was helpless to stop it. And then it washed over me; it poured down like a river of madness, and bathed me in uncertainty. As the tears poured down my face and I crawled into bed, I wanted nothing other than to end my own life. Again. But I couldn’t move. I was drowning and stuck staring into nothingness, and the nothingness was ripping my heart apart. As much as I wanted to end my life, I had no energy to get up and do it.
Some time went by, and the energy slowly came back into my body. I muddled around and managed to answer work emails, walk my dog, feed myself and finish some schoolwork. As I drifted around the house and tried to connect with life again, my phone rang. It was a friend, calling to check up on me. My brain told me not to answer it, and I listened. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I told myself. Right now, right now I need rest.
Nikki Dubose’s Washed Away: From Darkness to Lightis a modern take on an old genre, namely the salvation narrative. It begins with a brief anecdote of the author at her worst, before providing a chronological memoir of Dubose’s life. Dubose’s early childhood was riddled with abuse and neglect. She is brutalized by her stepfather, sexually molested by a family friend, and forced to deal with her mother’s mental illness, which results in yet more abuse. Dubose internalizes this abuse, and the reader witnesses her become her own worst enemy, hounded by the voices in her head that tell her she is disgusting, ugly, fat, and worthless. These voices are only silenced by her compulsive behavior, which includes round after round of binging and purging. Despite all of this, Dubose manages to become a well-known model, which unfortunately only exacerbates her eating disorder and body dysmorphia. Dubose only truly begins to heal after her mother’s untimely, but not unexpected, death. The tragedy allows her to begin to forgive not only those who harmed her, but herself as well.
Many years ago I opened up to one of my modeling agents in Miami about my chronic struggle with bulimia. At that point, I had been battling the illness for over fourteen years and I was terrified to lose another contract because of it.
After an unsuccessful stint at rehab, my former agent in New York realized that I just couldn’t make the cut with castings and jobs due to my eating disorder and other mental health issues, and sent me back to South Florida without a ticket back. Ultimately, my disorders prevented me from being able to focus at work, maintain a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
It’s been one of my life’s missions to fight for the rights of children who have been sexually abused, because, after all, I was abused, too. But I remember recently telling a friend and fellow survivor of child sexual abuse, while getting ready to speak at a rally at the New York State Capitol on The Omnibus Child Victims Act, that sometimes, advocating for our rights in modern times feels like fighting for freedom from slavery. And not that I would ever understand what being an African-American slave feels like, but I do understand what it’s like to be physically tormented, beaten, and sexually abused. Not to mention the fact that fellow advocates, Senators and Assemblymembers have been fighting to eliminate the statue of limitations for child sexual abuse in New York for eleven years now. Repeating the same legislative process, year after year, is exhausting to those of us who grew up knowing nothing but humiliation and shame. Many times we feel as though we have to beg, cry, scream, and plead for our basic human rights – rights that were stolen from us as children. Thankfully, with the help of Governor Cuomo this year, I believe that things will be different. I want so badly to believe, and I will continue to fight for change.
We have a huge problem in this country when it comes to protecting children from sexual abuse, and that’s denial. As an Executive Board member of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, a child sexual abuse nonprofit, one of the most common issues I come across when a survivor discloses their abuse is denial – from family members, teachers, friends – the list goes on. Myself, a survivor of incest from my late mother from the ages of 9 to 13, and a male figure at the age of 8, I know what it’s like to finally come to terms with the abuse and entrust others with the information, only to have them deny that it ever could have happened. The psychological effects were beyond damaging; I questioned my own sanity, the trauma, and attempted suicide. After all, if no one believed that such heinous acts had occurred, what reasons did I have to go on living? Child sexual abuse left me scarred with depression, psychosis, suicidal ideation and many other mental illnesses, and without proper support, it was only a matter of time before I permanently checked out.