When I joined this platform, I had one mission: to share my friend's story of surviving a severely abusive relationship and emphasize the need for discussion about domestic violence in small-town America.
Writing that series has been my greatest accomplishment because Mae Matthews and Lynn Mitchell deserved to have their stories told. I just wish they could have shared their own stories with their real names without fearing for their lives.
I don't believe Cody Smtih, the abuser at the center of "Small Towns, Big Secrets," will ever stop doing things that get him arrested. Whether it be assault, drugs, or the litany of other low life practices he engages in, I don't believe he is capable of not being a delinquent. But I'm not convinced he will ever be brought to justice. He's gotten away with too many things, too many times, for me to have any faith in that county's justice system.
I pray that I'm wrong and that he'll see a prison sentence he deserves. But I'm not holding my breath.
Sharing Mae and Lynn's stories gave me the courage to share my own Survivor story.
When that first article was published, it had been eight months since I recovered memories of being sexually abused. I wasn't ready to share my struggles, but I was ready to start speaking out and standing up for survivors of abuse.
This building passion for giving a voice to the voiceless caused three things to happen:
1. I became very unhappy in my job. I felt completely unfulfilled.
2. I created an online support group for survivors of abuse.
3. Writing became my outlet (in more ways than one).
Odyssey helped me land a job.
I had gone through the interview process for a job I really wanted, working to address child abuse in my state. It was my dream job, the perfect fit, everything I could have wanted and more. I didn't get the job, and I was absolutely crushed.
Flash forward to three months later, I'm in a job that I never thought I'd be able to have again. I'm a reporter for the radio station I interned and worked for two years ago. I'm learning things I didn't do before and I go to work every day thinking, "I get paid to do this?!"
I have no idea where the future will take me, but I know at this current moment I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.
Odyssey helped me find new communities.
I wrote about this last week, so I won't harp on it but this online community of true crime lovin' Survivors has been instrumental to my healing. Check out the Survivorinos Facebook group to connect with us.
Odyssey helped me improve my writing.
I received my first diary at seven years old. Although I only have a few memories from the time of my abuse, staying up late to write in my journal is a memory that always stands out. Happy, sad, mad, anxious, I wrote it all down. I periodically journaled throughout high school and journaling saved me during my third and final time in an inpatient program.
And now, I write to discuss topics like abuse and mental health (with some lighthearted pieces in the mix too, because heavy stuff can get, well, heavy). It's come full circle, and it's reenergized a coping skill I desperately need.
And then I was finally ready to share my own story. It was completely liberating.
Although coming up with an article (or two) a week can be a bit daunting at times, I've never had a more rewarding experience than creating content on Odyssey. In 25 articles I've grown more than just my writing skills, I've grown as a person.