I grew up in a “safe” city, one with beautiful parks, a nice downtown area, and lots of well-off families. As a child, my future was set for me. Caring parents, a good educational system, a nice home and plenty of resources and privilege.
Then I was sex trafficked by a neighbor. I was bought and sold and no one knew about it. I was alone, fighting for my life some nights before returning to school, feigning a normal child’s life, the following morning.
After years of this, I broke free. I made it through high school (struggling with self harm and suicidal ideation along the way) and got to college. I went to study illustration—turning the art that brought me peace in my pain into something I could make a living from. At this time, I had completely repressed the memories of being trafficked—I thought I was a normal teenager who just happened to struggle with my mental health from time to time.
Then it all came flooding back. I shared my confusion and pain with my best friend…and she assaulted me. Right then and there, in my most vulnerable moment. Her abuse lasted 13 months, throwing me through several near death experiences and attempts on my life.
Once I was able to move away from the apartment I shared with her, I left college. I walked away from the traumatic places and people of my past and tried, struggled, to start anew.
But what kept me going was my pursuit of joy. I’d felt glimmers of it, even during my trauma. A little warm sun on my face in the winter. The smell of a flower when walking home, body aching from earlier violence. It was the little things, unexpected moments of peace, that let me know there was something beyond pain.
So I dedicated myself to learning how to cultivate more of that. I trusted my intuition (something super strong since I was a very young child). I trusted in the Source. I explored science and psychology. And I found my way.
Today, I’m a curious and optimistic person. My heart still holds the pain of my past, I think it always will, but I also feel a deep gratitude for my freedom. I was lucky. Most sex trafficking survivors die early—but I was able to live. Despite the odds, I’m here.
And, along the way, I’ve learned so much about peace and joy after abuse. That’s why I do this work—to help others in pain discover that there is more than that hurt. Joy can balance it out. It can make life worth living. It can guide you towards enjoying life and love.
I’m the type of person who, on a trip to the ER, will make the doctors laugh and smile even after I’ve been there for several hours. I’ll also sit down with a struggling friend or client and my own eyes will tear up as we face the pain they hold together. I’m curious about emotion, the enjoyable and the difficult, and I’m constantly exploring the idea of joy.
I’m hopeful you’ll join me on this journey of cultivating joy, like by following me on Instagram or YouTube, or joining my signature eCourse where I teach all I’ve learned (so far!) on creating a joyous present and future.
No matter what—keep searching for your own joy. It’s in your heart, you’ve just got to find ways to uncover it.
With bunches of love,