Growing up in a broken home was rough. I watched my parents battle over visitation and child
support after their split somewhere around age 4. My mother was very bitter about the
circumstances surrounding their divorce and being the victim of sexual abuse in many ways she
was cold, callous and non-communicable. As a result our relationship suffered down through the
years for due to her fears I was only allowed to care for my two younger brothers. Despite her
efforts at the age of 16 I became a teen mom and my struggles really began. My mother made my
pregnancy a living hell as an attempt to punish me for my disobedience and her embarrassment.
Six months after my daughter was born I became pregnant with my second child. During this
time more than ever I became the victim of verbal and emotional abuse. According to
psychologist, Toy Hay, Emotional punishment can be more damaging than minor physical
punishment. The threats, intimidation and degradation made me scared. I felt like nothing I did
would ever be good enough. In my third month of pregnancy at the tender age of 17 I was
afforded an opportunity to move out of my mother's home and into my own.
I became roommates with another teen mom and we split the bills, however, we struggled. We
had no furniture and no refrigerator initially. We shopped every day at the corner grocery store
for a pack of meat to prepare for dinner and a bag of ice to keep our babies milk cold in a cooler.
I caught three busses to the Westside of Detroit every day to a school where I could take my
children with me. Despite being low-income, having a lack of support, no transportation and no
employment I graduated from high school with a 2 1/2 year old daughter and a 1 year old son. I
felt proud and it was my confidence builder.
As the years progressed I discovered many things. The most important discovery was that even
though I had children before I was mature enough to rear them I really was on a quest to feel
loved, to be good enough, to have a family and to succeed. That quest has since then turned into
a desire to help other young women overcome similar struggles and become resilient. With the
right support, motivation, education, housing and programming other teen moms can overcome
adversity. Without my own experiences I would not have the compassion to empathize with other
women. However, from my struggles W.I.S.E was conceived. Women Intercessors Showing
Empathy is a faith based organization that seeks to empower women to overcome any negative
pre-existing stigmas attached to our gender and become whole through increased spirituality,
creativity, stability and love. This organization was birthed in 2009 and shares part of its vision
with my co-chair, Mrs. Willie Peterson. Her story is a little different from mine but relevant to
this organization's mission.