My name is Mel, 24 years old.
On sight, you’d see me as an extrovert, a daughter, a softball fan, and an absolute beach lover. You’d see a good & loyal friend, and an absolute kid at heart. Professionally, you’d see me as avid advocate for victims of domestic/sexual violence, child sexual abuse, and human trafficking. And, in a volunteer capacity, as a dedicated volunteer at a camp for families facing childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
I am a woman with a newfound faith.
I’ve been described as someone who lights up the room when I walk in, that my smile, passion, and compassion is actually contagious. Recently while applying for jobs, a co-worker described in a letter of reference, that I am one of the most well-rounded individuals she’s ever met.
Underneath it all, I’ve survived things and learned things that no one in a million years would guess by my demeanor and the way I live my everyday life.
As a 12-year-old my so-called “normal” life changed in an instant. I was sexually abused on a late spring/early summer day in 2004 and a witness to the same abuse happening to my best friend on the same day. By 2006, I would stand trial, and see some “justice” for what he did to us; but struggled for many years with the pain and the aftermath of the abuse (I struggled with self-injury, anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares)…
Despite this nightmare, I graduated middle school and high-school relatively successfully.
Do you know what it’s like to have a real life hero?
I attribute my ultimate success along with my own hard work to my supportive family, friends, and irreplaceable support team, which I refer to as my “DREAM TEAM” (consisting of a Forensic Interviewer, a Court Advocate, a therapist, and my middle school guidance counselor). As part of my support and inspiration down the road, I also had two young survivor activist authors (Nicole Braddock Bromley, and Erin Merryn), who I became email pen pals with. They helped me to continue to find and use my VOICE and encouraged me to see the possibility of my future of freedom.
Do you know how it feels to want so desperately to succeed?
I entered college with an unwavering passion for issues relating to what I had been through. I thrived and shined there in more ways than one. I spent my college years leading and executing many movements, events, and fundraising for any and all organizations helping survivors and so many other causes beyond that. I didn’t hesitate to volunteer to share my survivor story in many venues throughout those 4 years, including giving back by sharing my story on stage and on video for the place my VOICE was heard first, A Child Advocacy Center. I did very well in school, graduated with honors as a member of the sociology major honor society.
My resume “speaks volumes”, as I’ve been told. I shined in public speaking about these issues, because at a very young age I knew what perseverance looked like. It was a long 9 years of healing from 2004 to 2013, but I made it, and landed an amazing job upon moving back to my hometown advocating for survivors of domestic and sexual violence at a local crisis center.
At this point in my life, I did not have a defined faith, but I knew something greater brought me through to where I was in that moment.
I was thriving in my job and felt like overall I had finally put my past behind me. Until one day, while I was living my life, and pursuing my dreams, everything changed……
HOW could everything change in an instant?
Read Part II this Thursday, March 24
Mel is employed as a Family Advocate working with child victims and their families. She joined this particular movement through an organization called Written on Your Heart (founded by a friend in Texas in 2012) and recently brought to her home state of New Hampshire in 2014.
“As a woman with strong faith, a passionate voice and an open heart, It’s an honor to share my journey will all of you.”