Survivor. Speaker. Activist. Storyteller.
"Throughout my life, I have been on the front lines of the battle for the lives of women. Whether in a slum in Uganda, a rape crisis center in South Africa, a rural village in India, or even on a university campus in the United States - I have stood alongside the women of the world as they proclaimed their own rights and worth. All cut from different cloth, but fighting for the same thing."
As a storyteller, I've come to understand the significance of context, that a narrative is far more impactful when we zoom out and consider the backstory. For years I've been told "you're strong, you're so inspiring, you're brave, I want to be like you one day." But I always have to set the scene, that despite where I am today...for nearly 10 years I allowed my life to be completely wrecked. Starting at the age of 15, I experienced a life-altering brokenness and allowed myself to live in that darkness for too long. My pain festered over the years and came out in dangerous ways, reappearing like catastrophic bombs in my life, obliterating everything I cherished...
I started spiraling out of control after my brother was killed in a car accident, refusing to accept this new reality and grasping for anything that would help me not to feel. My newfound alcohol addiction literally took my life, as I ended up in a hospital where I flatlined from alcohol poisoning. A few years later I was brutally raped and beaten by a man who helped me change my flat tire. I blamed myself for agreeing to give this stranger a ride home and shame gave way to self-hatred as I started battling with severe eating disorders. And although I helped to put this man behind bars for 60 years, the alcohol addiction came back stronger than ever. As a result, I soon after ended up in a jail cell, or what I refer to now as "my concrete bottom.”
I still remember that jail cell, the coldness of the ground, the bareness of the walls. I remember thinking—this isn’t supposed to be a part of my story. How did I end up here? I realized then that by running from my backstory—the things that made my life and my journey painfully and uniquely mine—I had become disconnected from myself and ultimately the empathy to receive healing in my heart. So instead I welcomed that brokenness into my life, as painful as tending to any wound typically is, and I enabled that pain to make me more empathetic and appreciative of the beauty all around me.
I found that when we brave that brokenness, when we salvage our stories of suffering, we also open the door to be a light for others who are still lost in the dark. When we allow our pain to transform us, that empathy and compassion that are rooted from our experiences become profound weapons of SO-MUCH-GOOD. Now, for the past eight years, I have found that my greatest purposes have been rooted in my deepest pains.
Today I am a professional speaker dedicated to empowering audiences to find opportunity in their struggles rather than opposition, as well as providing education on the topic of sexual assault prevention and recovery. I'm also the founder of Love Conquers Photography, a renown social enterprise dedicated to ending forced child marriage. In addition, I'm a wellness coach, soon-to-be author, and a photojournalist for women's organizations in developing and conflict countries.
Ultimately, I use my own backstory (the good, the bad and the ugly) to motivate and empower individuals to build better businesses, better communities, better relationships and better lives. We all have moments of brokenness, it's how we answer to those life-altering chapters in our lives that truly makes or breaks our story.