"Regenerating, rejuvenating and restoring one woman at a time"
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"The only failure is when you do not try". Those are words that I currently mold my life around. For far too long I had allowed my past to rule my future. Growing up, domestic violence had a profound effect on my identity, my self-esteem and kept me from becoming a strong, self-sufficient woman. Not only did I allow people from my past to hinder my chances of ever becoming financially free. I had failed at my life and I found myself caught up in a downward spiraling web of generationally uneducated women, who had allow every dream geared toward prosperity to vanish right before their eyes.
As a child, I can never remember having a normal childhood. My mother and I moved often, and my mother was not one of those parents who anyone could ever be proud to call mom. What I went through back then, is considered child abuse today. My mother always had those “bad guy” boyfriends, and, most of the time, I was left alone to take care of myself. When she was around the house, it was only to recuperate from the beatings she had received at the hands of one of her many male friends. When my grandmother finally got fed up with my mother’s volatile behavior, she petitioned the juvenile court system to remove me from her custody. At the age of four years old, I was devoured by the juvenile court system and shuffled from one pompous caretaker to the next, whose only concern was that he or she received a check from the state every month for allowing me the privilege of living in unsavory conditions. None of these caretakers were any better than my own mother. My life and my identity were simultaneously enveloped in a cycle of abuse that would take me over three decades to overcome.
Enough is enough! That’s what I said to myself as the EMT’s carried me out of my house, yet again, to the ambulance. I had allowed myself to endure eight years of black eyes, busted lips, and bruised everything else. I had become a professional at covering up the fact that all aspects of my life and my identity had been controlled. One April 25th of 2010, I left everything I owned and moved into a domestic violence shelter with nothing. I had relocated to a strange new area, changed my cell phone number and had to leave my job. I had left everything and any one from my past, in the past and refused to go back there. In the beginning all I did was cry and wonder why I had failed in my life so horribly. However, after a couple of weeks of solitude and isolation from the abuse, it was as if I had taken a calming sedative. I felt the years of oppression being washed away, and, for the first time in my life, I was aware of what had to be done in order for me to move forward in my life and to survive.
I have been liberated from the abusive cycle that has held the women of my family captive for generations. While at the crisis shelter I was granted educational funds to complete training as an EMT. This gave the start that I need to move forward. I am now very assertive with people that I allow into my life, and if I’m not comfortable with how a situation makes me feel, I no longer waver from subconsciously knowing that I should run like hell. I now have both short term and long term goals, that I set for myself academically in order to sustain a more productive life for myself in the future. With the support and the resources at the Houston Area Women’s Center, my divorce was finalized on September 1, 2010 and I have moved into my own apartment in which I received 12 months of rental assistance from the Houston Area Women Center’s Housing program and have since then successfully graduated from the program. However, I live on a very strict budget that includes only necessities. This allows me to attend Houston Community College on a fulltime basis. In fall 2010, I completed 11 credit hours and during spring 2011 completed 15 credit hours. Over the summer while others were on vacation I completed 9 credit hours and ended my academic year with a cumulative GPA of 3.546 which qualified me to become a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. During this current fall semester I am taking 18 credit hours which is 6 classes, all while being active in campus organizations. I currently serve as the President’s Cabinet Representative for the Student Government Association for my campus, the Treasurer of the College Activities Board and the Vice President for the HCC Central Campus Crusade for Christ and as an Ambassador for the HCC Foundation. I am a member and also a work study student in the TRiO-Student Support Services office at the Central Campus, which allows me the benefit of helping other struggling students to overcome obstacles in their lives in order to complete their college education. I also tutor English to students in need for free while mentoring 8 of the most awesome international student through the campus Strictly Speaking program. This year I was also overjoyed and honored to learn that I was named as a recipient of the national, Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities and a media showcase on HCCTV’s The Hype as “A Student You Should Know” for my college campus. My academic goals are to graduate next semester with my Associates in Arts degree at HCC Central College as I have already enrolled at the University of Houston Clearlake Campus. Once there my plan is to complete my Bachelor’s degree with a dual major of Social Work and Women Studies. I am hoping to work at a Houston area non-profit organization after my graduation while transferring back to the HCC – Coleman Campus to complete my certification and licensing in their Chemical Dependency Counseling program. In the future I want to be able to continue my efforts and my dream of helping other women like myself to become self-sufficient and safe from abuse. I want to be a voice for those who can’t speak. Because when it comes to domestic violence, silence is most often deadly.
Financially, I struggle everyday just to get by, and have not yet been able to buy even the simple things that make a house a home, like living room furniture but do manage to use a portion of my student loans during the semester to buy some things. However, for the first time in my life I am truly happy and I wouldn’t give that up for the world. I recently received a scholarship from the Women’s Independence Scholarship Fund and the HCC Foundation that has allowed my tuition this fall semester to be paid in full, even before my financial aid kicked in. And have more recently received an additional scholarship in order to continue my education this spring.
I would have to say that today my greatest strengths would be my communication skills and my ability to share my story with others. I have appeared on both Channel 26 & Channel 2 locally here in Houston in order to advocate for those caught up in the devastation of domestic violence. I also humbly fulfill speaking engagements for the Houston Area Women’s Center and my college because I know first-hand how hard it is to take that first step and if there is someone out there that can hear my voice, and who is going through what I have been through, I would tell them to be strong, believe in yourself because you are special. See my biggest weakness is that I have so much compassion in my soul for women in my same situation that I do tend to spread myself thin on occasion but would have it no other way.
I don’t have some grand illusion that the rest of my life will be teeming with only “Happily Ever After” days, and I know that I have a very laborious journey ahead of me, but I love the new me far too much to be ruled by the tyranny of an iron fist ever again!
What I know now is that life can be difficult; we can make life difficult by choices we make in life. Is it wrong for a woman to empower herself to not accept what’s been handed out, dispensed, dished out to her. To not accept what life has dealt to her. To find that Peace. Is it wrong? To free her mind from injustice of settling for what’s in front of her; and not going for achieving becoming that which is inside of you to become. Why must we wait for that change, so many of us wait and we wait and we wait before you know it the years have gone by and we still are waiting for that change. Unfortunately change comes for some, but it remains the same for many. What I know now is that we as women have to take back what’s inside of us. I can do and be anything I want to be. I can find me…. Who am I? I am Brucett Allena Lewis Mojay, I am 42 year old Black woman that lost sight of herself and what she is and what she can become. I am a survivor of many things: Abuse whether it be mental, physical, emotional and/or verbal. I am a survivor of abandonment being left to fend for oneself with children. I am a survivor of molestation at the hands of someone who was to be trusted. I am a survivor of loneliness due to alienating everyone around me. I am a survivor of a lack of support, getting the help you need to maintain a good body, spirit, and mind, as well as daily functions of life. Without that support it’s so easy to break, become withdrawn, and depressed. What I know now is that I am many things: thoughtful, giving, caring, unselfish, a comfort to others and supportive. To grow up often times feeling like you had to please others when others could care less about pleasing you. What I know now is that if I apply myself to become the person I was meant to be I am limitless in what I can and will be. I will not be defined by what anyone’s perception of what I should be. I will be defined by my character and my accomplishments and my sense of how I treated the next person; fair or unjust. What I know now is that it’s never late to discover you and be that person you were meant to be. What I know now is that to know who I am you have to understand where I’ve been; we all have a story. Thanks PWO Family.
Brucett Allena Lewis