HI! My name is Carol, but I prefer to be called Valora. I am a mother of three amazing adult children and the Nana to two amazing grandsons and another grandchild due this year in November. It has been an amazing journey to watch my children grow and to now be blessed with grandchildren. My children are ages 27 boy, 24 boy, and 21 girl. My grandsons and the grandchild on the way are all my daughters children and they are 4 and 3 currently as I write this introduction. I was married once, at the age of 22 and divorced at the age of 23, while pregnant with my second child. My husband was incredibly abusive but I did not stick around for that one. However, after the birth of my second son, I met my daughter’s father, who physically and emotionally abused me for SEVENTEEN long years.
The title of my blog is named Surviving Maltreatment because maltreatment comes in many forms. I am a survivor of family violence, intimate partner violence (most commonly known as domestic violence), emotional abuse, and child sexual abuse. I spent most of my teenage years in traumatic events. Those traumatic events continued until I was 37, and finally decided I had ENOUGH! I am here not to just tell my story, but to inspire and unite other survivors of maltreatment. I think one thing you will notice about my posts is the lack of the word victim. Victim is so negative and negativity is not in my vocabulary! I prefer the term survivor because I am no longer a victim. To me victim is a criminal justice term, a cold and uncaring term and it implies current abuse, So, lets avoid that word when possible! Being a survivor is being strong. I overcame every obstacle thrown at me, which believe me, there were way too many.
While in my 30’s, still raising three children, and in the midst of a violent intimate partner relationship, I made the decision to go back to college. It was a long road from 2005-2011. In 2008 I graduated Cum Laude from Lake Sumter Community College (now called Lake Sumter State College). Upon graduation I was immediately accepted to the University of Central Florida (UCF). While attending UCF I earned my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology and earned certificates in Criminal Profiling and Crime Scene Investigation. School was not just for learning about psychology and criminal justice, it was also a crucial pivoting point towards my step in becoming a survivor and no longer a victim. I learned so much more about myself and the human condition that gave me the strength to say “fuck it, I AM DONE!’
Ten years ago I left my abuser and never looked back. I struggled for six long years after that trying to find employment in my graduating field. But I finally met the right woman who took a chance on hiring this woman with NO experience in mental health. I became a Rehabilitation Specialist on a Florida Assertive Community Treatment Team. I held that position for three years and it was a dream. I decided then it was time to do something else, it was lacking something. I am now currently a Family Care Manager, which is a fancy way of saying child welfare case manager. I work to help put families back together. I am blessed to work with victims and survivors of domestic violence and substance abuse. By the age of 15, I had a severe substance abuse problem with Soma, a prescription muscle relaxer that I stole from my mother routinely and I had a problem with alcohol, which I manipulated my mother into purchasing for me.
And now my story begins….