The Power in a Survivor’s Voice

My Saving Grace

I never knew a bunch of words could be a life preserver, until I started writing. Growing up I always had a passion for literature but could not have imagined passion would turn into desperation. One would think that surviving your trauma would be the end of your troubles. That is until you’re slapped in the face with the healing process that comes with being a survivor. 

I was raised in an old school black family and was taught what happens in this house stays in this house. I pretty much lived by this until I was so far down the rabbit hole and felt like suicide was my only way to salvation. But wait… Let me backup a minute so you can get a clear picture.

I am a survivor of domestic violence, getting out with two small kids and a newborn preemie. All we had was the clothes on our backs, an overnight bag, and a diaper bag. I thought this was the start of a new life, but it was the beginning of a life in living hell. The person I fought so hard to be free from found me, started threatening and harassing me. All this accumulated into him showing up at my door with a loaded gun, putting it to my temple and pulling the trigger.

In an attempt to self-preserve I shut down, allowing no love in and no love out.

You can not imagine how long seconds feel when you’re waiting to die. On this day, my creator favored me, upon pulling the trigger, the gun jammed and did not fire. I could see the bullet sticking up out of the chamber. I did not understand why my life was spared when so many others were taken. What made me different, so deserving of life. Some would call this survivor’s remorse

No Love In No Love Out

That event was a major turning point in my life. Not taking the proper channels for healing, I spiraled out of control. I would experience one toxic relationship after another until I was damaged and broken beyond repair. In an attempt to self-preserve I shut down, allowing no love in and no love out. What this meant for me was that I would not let anybody love me (not even my kids) and I would not allow myself to love anybody (myself included).

By the time I walked into a mental health clinic I wasn’t sleeping because of recurring nightmares, was self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, hallucinating due to sleep deprivation, and felt like death was so much better than the hell I was stuck in.

I had a voice and my story was being used to empower other survivors.

I met an amazing counselor, whose name I wish I could remember, but what do I remember is that she saved me. It turned out I had Insomnia, PTSD, Anxiety (with Panic Attacks), and depression, all due to the toxicity of the life I had suffered through. After a brief period on medication things began to improve, but the nightmares and insomnia were very persistent. My counselor advised me to keep a journal by my bed, telling me that  whenever I woke up from a nightmare to jot it down. This absolutely helped me to move the dreams out of my head and onto the paper. 

Shine Little Light 

The journals I started not only saved me from the nightmares, helped me to remember what I was a survivor of. I used my journals, elaborated around them, and gave birth to my first self-published fictional book entitled Mercedes Closet: Keeping Deadly Secrets. The publishing of my first book catapulted me onto a platform. I had a voice and my story was being used to empower other survivors. Finding the power in my voice led me to become the founder of my nonprofit which I named Mercedes Closet Inc. Why Mercedes Closet? Mercedes is a name I’ve used for many years, and it represents who I am. The release of this book symbolizes me opening the doors to my closet, releasing the secrets that bound me, and sending me out into the world empowering other survivors like myself. 

There is someone somewhere that needs to hear your story.

The one true thing I’ve learned about my past is that like a phoenix I rose out of the ashes of my trauma. If you are reading this, know that surviving is the easy part. Rediscovering who you are on your road to healing will be the most difficult and trying thing you will do. Through it all just keep in mind “There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let them get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections” (Unknown). Your voice has power as well. There is someone somewhere that needs to hear your story. 

You can learn more about my story and my books at  www.mercedescloset.com

How else can I support survivors?

If helping survivors of abuse back on their feet is something you’re passionate about, make a donation in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

  

April Jackson-Hunter was born in March of 77, she currently lives in Georgia with her family. She received a Master of Art in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Herzing University. Her story isn’t different from anyone else’s, she took a portion of her life that wouldn’t be forgotten and harnessed it. After experiencing violence at the hands of someone who was supposed to love her, she battled fear, guilt, and shame until she couldn’t mentally handle it anymore. After seeking help for what she thought were mental instabilities, she received some game changing advice. A counselor suggested that she start a journal in an attempt to help with recurring nightmares and insomnia issues. The journal she started transformed her into the author of her book which She entitled Mercedes’ Closet: Keeping Deadly Secrets. Mrs. Jackson-Hunter is also an advocate, whose passion is to assist victims of domestic/partner violence in the LGBTQ community. Her mission is to help victims of domestic/partner violence understand they are not alone. She feels everyone needs to feel as though there is someone in their corner during a dark time. For this reason, she founded Mercedes’ Closet which is a nonprofit geared to offering support and resources in the LGBTQ community for not only victims of domestic/partner violence but also victims of other violent crimes such as rape, hate crimes, as well as transviolence, which is due to officially launch in the mid of 2020.

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