“The root of disappointment comes from holding expectations.”

I don’t know about you, but the disappointment has a huge impact on my life.

It always has, even before the rape and after.

Growing up, I never wanted to disappoint my family(Mom and dad etc), and now I still don’t want to disappoint my family(Mom, dad, Husband, kids etc.).

I know that no one is perfect, including myself and I do not know if this weighs on me so because I let the world around me influence me, but when I know I disappointed someone, that is when I become my own worst enemy.

And it can be as something as small as buying the wrong thing at the grocery store, I may not have disappointed the people around me, but I feel like I have and then the personal beatings follow.

When I woke up in that hospital room, on October 10th, I knew I was huge disappointment. When the nurse told me I was raped, I don’t really feel like I knew what that meant but I immediately felt the feelings of shame and guilt, and knew that my family would be disappointed.

What I didn’t know is, is that they would have sympathy and compassion for me, and not so much disappointment. But try telling me that then, and I wouldn’t believe you.

With that said, when it came to my parents in 2004, it was a rough last few months of that year for all of us. It took us all a long time to openly discuss the topic, especially with my dad. So this week, I wanted to share a video of my parents and show a glimpse to how they felt. Check it out below.

Also there is one week left to pre-order the book!!! Do it here: https://www.voices-of-hope.org/the-book


Two different Worlds

Today marks the day that my book is officially available for preorder.
This is scary for me. This is exciting for me. This is absolutely one of the most nerve-wracking, terrifying moments of my life.
This book has been in the works since 2005. I began the process about a year after I was raped. I didn’t know at the time that it might eventually get to this point, but I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.
I wrote down everything I could remember from September 2004 until September 2005. Just to try to remember the details. I wrote in notebooks during class, while in college. I wrote on scrap pieces of paper when a memory would pop up. I wrote on post-its.
Unfortunately, because my writing process was not very organized, I lost some of my writing within the last 13 years. I wanted to write everything out because I knew there would be things I would forget, and even things I wanted to forget but possibly remind myself later in hopes of helping someone else. The biggest take away from all of my writing is looking back prior to the rape, it is almost look at a completely different world. It’s like there barrier that blocks both of the worlds ever meeting. I lost my innocence and since then my world was turned upside down.

In all my years of healing, I found things that have helped me move forward. Things that gave me hope for the future. Things that gave me more positive thoughts and feelings than the negative thoughts and feelings. However, I still have moments of weakness.
This book is covers both the topic of my rape and the eventual healing process. There are things that some people may not know about me and that alone is scary, especially because this is a new outlet for me to share my story. I still get the overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt from my rape…that maybe it was my fault, and someone reading this book that doesn’t know me, or maybe doesn’t know me well, or even one of my closest friends, will judge me. They will judge me and say (maybe not to my face) that it was my fault. They will judge about my healing process and how I handled it. All of these ideas terrify me.
I need to take a deep breath, and not let the anxiety of all of this take over.
In the words of a Daniel Tiger Song (courtesy of my 2 year old son), “Take a deep breath and count to 4.”
1…2…3…4…That helps somewhat. When my son does this he immediately says, “I feel better.” I wish my mood shifted as quickly as his does.
I need to remember to practice what I preach. “It is never your fault. You were the victim of a horrible crime. IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT.”
I believe those words 100%. I have said it to hundreds and hundreds of people. I have spoken to survivors and continue to tell them this consistently…but sometimes when it comes to myself, I have trouble believing it.
But I will. I will believe it. Sometimes.
So for those who are interested in reading this book, those who are pre-ordering, or even coming to the book launch on February 28th, I ask you, please share the pre-order link with everyone you know.
Because I can guarantee there is someone in your life that has said #MeToo and will need this book.
Preorder the book at https://www.voices-of-hope.org/shop.

A Survivor’s Story

n-GRIEF-628x314 Man on the edge of pier.

Being a survivor of sexual violence, you feel alone. You might even have a great support system but you still can feel alone.

When I have done speaking engagements in the past, there have been some times when I have had survivors come up to me and thank me for sharing my story because they have gone through something similar. If I am ever feeling alone, at that moment, I know I am not. I know that I am not the only that this has happened to. There are millions others that have gone through this.

Did you know that every 107 seconds that another American is sexually assaulted. That is just about 2 minutes. So for every hour in a day there is 30 people assaulted. That’s 720 people in a 24 hour period. That is disgusting and scary.

I read an article today that was about a sexual assault survivor, Sofia Karasek. She was in the film the hunting ground and also made a huge impact at the Oscars a few years ago with Lady Gaga and Joe Biden.

Sofia was sexually assaulted during her freshman year of college while on a weekend retreat for a club she was part of. After she shares her story, she opens up as to how she felt about everything she has gone through up until most recent. The one thing that she said really struck me. “I would much rather have not met Lady Gaga or Brie Larson if it meant I didn’t have to experience what I have. We’re not lucky — we have survived and that’s why we were there.” I must say that is so true.

After I was assaulted, I was left on the side of the road, which I have no recollection. What would have happen if the woman who saw me did not call 911. Where would I be?  That piece is actually very difficult for me to imagine.

But when it comes down to it, Sofia, along with Gaga and Biden, and all of the other survivors truly make me feel not alone when it comes my rape. I hope what all the actions that survivors take to make a difference, and hopefully even what I do can help someone facing assault or rape realize they are not alone.

Check out Sofia’s story below.

Moving Survivor’s Story

Body Language – Where does Consent come in?

I was doing some research this past week, and I came across something interesting. Consent and Body Language. How do these two connect and do they?

The answer is a resounding YES. Consent and body language go hand in hand. And this is why. In intimate situations a lot of the communication is nonverbal. And some of these nonverbal cues can be smiling, nodding, etc. When you go on a first date with someone, your attempting to read body language to see if that person is “interested” in you, or wants that good night kiss, or is ok with you putting your arm around them.

Body language can be extremely misguiding, because the way one person perceives it, can be completely different then the way it was meant to be sent.

So think of it this way, your at the movies on a first date, and your thinking to yourself, do I make the first move. Do I put my arm around them, do I touch their leg? Oh, maybe the way they are looking at me now, makes it seems ok? But is it?

There are a lot of nerves that fly around on a first date too, so that can definitely misconstrue body language.


Let’s take all of that guessing out and just flat out ASK the question. Can I put my arm around you? Is it ok if I put my hand on your leg? And so forth. It may seem uncomfortable at first but you know what, your relationship will be built on open communication and trust.

Another interesting thought came from an article that I read this past week. Mtv did a survey on young men to see if the #MeToo campaign changed their behaviors and according to the study, it in fact did.

“According to the results, nearly 1 in 3 young men were concerned that something they had done in the past could be considered sexual harassment. Forty percent of the young men admitted that #MeToo had changed the way they act in potential romantic relationships. And 1 in 4 of the young people surveyed said they’ve noticed guys around them change their behavior since the #MeToo movement began.”

This just goes to show that #MeToo has pushed some major boundaries and it is beginning to shed a lot of light on something that used to be so dark.

So to conclude, both of these go hand in hand. It seems that young men are looking at their own behavior, and I am sure some women have as well. While taking the thought of the way that we handle relationships and making them open and honest and communicating appropriately, we can build a world where sexual and domestic violence and sexual harassment are a thing of the past.

To read the full article on the study that Mtv conducted go here.


#MeToo #BeAVoice #VoicesofHope #nonprofit #Pittsburghnonprofit #Consentcampaign18 @BeAVoice18


Healthy Communication

Although, I may not share my full book with my children until they are older, I still want to ensure I have healthy communication with them.

“I want my children to feel safe and secure and that the choices they make about their bodies should be respected.”

This year for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, The Nation Sexual Violence Resource Center’s(nsvrc) Campaign is all about embracing your voice.

One of those voices is educating your children that the choices they make about their body have a right to be respected.

The flyer that comes with their campaign walks one through what is Consent, ask for Consent, how to listen to your child’s answer, accept “no,” and how relationships and consent go together.

According to NSVRC, Consent means giving someone the choice about touch or actions and respecting the answer they give. They say practicing Consent is how you interact with kids teaches healthy communication and that their body belongs to them.

My son is 2 and half, and I haven’t had a conversation yet but one day while getting ready, I had a bath robe on and he thought it was funny to come over and to keep trying to open it. He knew I didn’t like it and that only made him want to do it more. I told him that I did not appreciate what he was doing and when he asked why, I said this was my body and you need to respect when I say no. Granted, I don’t think he got it then, but I hope soon enough he will.

Check the rest of the information from NSVRC below!!

Our book in the image above will be available for Pre-Order in February and will launch on March 5th! Check out http://www.voices-of-hope.org for updates!!!

Credit: http://www.nsvrc.org



Last night at the Golden globes was another pivotal point in the movement against sexual harassment, and sexual violence and assault.

Since the Harvey Winstein scandal broke out last year, many have come forward about their experience with a simple hashtag: #metoo. Since then an organization has sprouted out called #Timesup.

The website, http://www.timesupnow.com, says this it what it is all about, “TIME’S UP is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere. From movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike, we envision nationwide leadership that reflects the world in which we live. Powered by women, TIME’S UP addresses the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential. We partner with leading advocates for equality and safety to improve laws, employment agreements, and corporate policies; help change the face of corporate boardrooms and the C-suite; and enable more women and men to access our legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable.”

Last night at the Golden Globes, it was filled with individuals standing up in solidarity with the #timesupmovement. From everyone wearing black, and inviting viewers to share #whyiwearblack in support of the movement, to Natalie Portman’s one liner, “here are all-male nominees for best director,” from countless celebrities vocalizing the importance of the change and lastly Oprah Winfrey’s speech.

Entertainment weekly, http://www.ew.com, sums up her powerful speech to this, “
Winfrey began by recalling her experience watching Sidney Poitier win a Globe in 1964, the first ever received by a person of color. She moved on to defend the free press, fiercely call out sexual harassers all across the globe — telling them “their time has come” — and tell the story of Recy Taylor, who was raped by a group of white men in Alabama in 1944 and died 10 days ago.
Winfrey closed her magnificent speech with a promise for “the girls watching,” telling them, “a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure they are the leaders to take us to the time where nobody has to say ‘me too’ again.”

I can’t begin to contain my excitement with all of this positive change. I am as giddy as my 10 year old self watching the Spice Girls  music video for the first time, that my children are can have a chance to grow up in the world where they have a voice and their voice will be heard.

I have a have had so many conversations revolving how we had women in business have just put up with harassment for so long that it has become something that we are accustomed too and sometimes we have to put up with in order to keep our jobs. So to live in a world where all voices are heard is truly amazing.

However, it is still scary at the same time for me and I am sure others as well. Because this is a huge shift. As some that is still healing and will always be healing, there is a small piece of me that is scared. Not because my voice won’t be heard but for all attention sexual harassment and violence has gotten. For me sometimes seeing it so much can be a trigger for me. And has I said in last weeks blog post, I need to remember to take time for self-care. And know i can talk about sexual violence and domestic violence and harassment until my face turns blue but I need to know limits, know where that tipping point is so I don’t turn down the lane that brings up my anxiety and pain.

To that I commend all those that have been coming forward and to everyone and everyone please continue to practice self care.


See Oprah’s speech below.


2018 – What will you bring?

Pittsburgh Newborn Photographer_-14


So it 9AM on January 1st 2018.  As look back on the past year so many amazing things have happen in both my professional and personal life. In this past year:

  • I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Zella, and we expanded our little family to 4.
  • I celebrated my husband’s and I 4th year of marriage.
  • I stepped way out of my comfort zone and competed in a pageant and received 2nd runner up.

With Voices of Hope,

  • We launched the Consent Coaster Campaign.
  • Spoke at our first Student orientation
  • We had our most successful #BeAVoice this Holiday campaign. (If you are unfamiliar with either of those campaigns, check out our site at http://www.voices-of-hope.org.)

On a national level, many things happened for survivors of sexual violence and harassment including the #metoo movement, which hopefully means a better future for those that have experienced either one of these.

There were also many challenges this year, including

  • The emotional rollercoaster that comes with being pregnant.
  • Adjusting to having another child.
  • The fear of launching a brand new campaign and the anxiety that comes with it.
  • The ability to try to remember to care for myself and practice self care regularly. This can been extremely difficult because Voices of Hope revolves around changing our culture on sexual violence and domestic violence, it is easy for me to get too caught up in what I am doing to make changes and then end up crashing because it is too much for me to handle.
  • Remembering if I completed all my goals for the year. I never write down my goals, and honestly. I never know then if I met them.
  • And then the other challenge, what happens after #Metoo.


So as I sit here and think of my goals for this year, I wonder, will I meet them, will I be able to adjust going back to work full time, and will I be able to manage Voices of Hope while raising a family. My priorities are this: God, my husband, my kids, my family and friends and then Voices. I want to make a difference so my children can live in a world were survivors are believed but I need to ensure I follow my order.

So here are my personal and professional goals for the world to see and in December of this year, I will look back to see if I was able to accomplish them.

  1. Build my relationship with God, however, I see fit.
  2. Continue to blossom my relationship with my husband.
  3. Help my children learn and grow everyday.
  4. Remember to take time for myself, and practice self-care regularly.
  5. Launch my first book!!!
  6. Continue doing speaking engagements about sexual violence and domestic violence.
  7. More blog posts!!!!
  8. Making changes in our culture so that survivors are believed.

For my last two goals, I have left them pretty open ended due to the fact, that I will do what I can with what God gave me that way I am not disappointed if I don’t meet a specific number of some sort. I know no matter what I do, it will make some sort of difference no matter how big or how small.

Before I wrap up my post, though, I wanted to share some thoughts on the #Metoo movement. When it first happened, I loved it. I was so excited that all of these individuals were coming forward, men and women. However, after seeing it so often on the TV, I had to turn it off. This is where practicing self-care came in. I just couldn’t watch anymore. I also had a lot of great discussions around it, however, would get frustrated when people would make comments like, “Well every man that ever lived is going to be blamed.” Or when someone would discredit someone for coming forward and sharing their story. Most of the time, I feel too insecure, or not educated enough, to come up to a response to those statements, and I have my own personal  struggles when it comes to those being accused. In my last blog post, “I hope your somewhere praying,” I share some of these fears. Check it out here.

I will say this, and I know I will get judged for but here it is. For anyone that comes forward to say they have been a victim, believe them. Just because you are believing them doesn’t mean that you saying the accused needs to rot in hell and be banned from their lives. And don’t believe everything you read. I feel the news can over exaggerate things for both the victim and the accused. I need to take that advice because I get caught up in it when I try to prove people wrong. I just need to stick with what I believe and for someone coming out about what happen to them, even if it years later believe them. Lastly, all I ask is send prayers, positive vibes, or whatever you feel is respectful towards those that are coming forward and those that are accused, because they both will need it.

#voicesofhope #metoo #aftermetoo #webeleiveyou #consentcampaign18 #Pittsburghnonprofit #momboss #nonprofit

photo credit: Sweet Juniper Photography