The road we have traveled is a road many others have also traveled, full of many twists, turns and major bumps. It is a road many others cannot understand and are fortunate not to have to take.
My daughter and my son, who is autistic, were both victims of sexual abuse and assault. As a mother suffering through this unbelievable nightmare, I witnessed the differences in the justice system of how my daughter was believed and treated so well, and my son was not. We quickly began to realize how difficult the road to justice is for an individual with a disability. We were made to feel as if what happened to my son did not matter. The current justice system is not equipped to handle these cases. It’s difficult enough to learn your child was sexually abused by someone you knew, and then to learn there is very little help, if any, for children like my son. The psychological effects on the victim and their family is insurmountable. It’s a mother’s worst nightmare. One you don’t wake up from because the effects of child abuse of any kind, last a lifetime.
I am also the survivor of emotional, domestic, verbal, psychological, financial and mental abuse from my first marriage. I spent 17 years in an abusive marriage. The abuse was so severe. He was extremely narcissistic and controlling and full of anger. As a result, I have suffered greatly with tremendously low self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence in myself, and believing that I have never been good enough.
One morning, in 2018, with a bottle of pills in my hand, my husband held me, scared out of his mind at seeing how all of this was affecting me. At that moment, I made a promise and a decision that I was going to get through everything. I knew deep inside I had so much to live for - my two beautiful children and my amazing husband, the love of my life. I wasn’t going to let the past ruin my future anymore!
Over time, I thought that I had healed from this painful journey, but little did I know how much more healing I had to do until I began writing my story. I started writing my first book in 2019. The road to justice and healing is a very long road. Unfortunately, many others give up on it because it is so difficult and defeating at times. I wanted to share what I have learned with others to encourage them not to give up, to keep moving forward, no matter how long things may take.
In writing my story, it brought back extremely painful memories of my abuse that were so deeply buried. At times I struggled to continue to write, but I realized that reliving these horrible memories is how I finally healed.
I am choosing to share my personal story of the years of abuse and ultimate survival, and the difficult road to recovery, because these things are real issues we face as a society, more than we know, more than people talk about. I share how I hit rock bottom dealing with severe depression and anxiety, almost ending my life one morning because of the amount of stress and the lack of support I had. I am not ashamed of my past. I never wanted to relive it, but I’ve grown from all these adversities to become the woman I am today.
This has not been an easy road but I have chosen to use all the negative experiences I have encountered in my life to overcome adversity to help empower others.
I hope my story, strength, bravery, persistence, courage and determination will inspire someone else to keep going and never give up.
We get one shot at this life...we need to live the life we want to live.
For the past 16 years, I have dedicated my time to volunteering for various non-profit and community organizations, including; The Polycystic Kidney Foundation (PKD); Fragile X Alliance of Ohio; Trials for Hope and The Children's Center of Medina County, to name a few.
Currently, I serve on the Ohio Attorney General Committee for Crime Victims with Disabilities.
My daughter Maci and I founded Voices of Change 2018, to advocate, educate for prevention, and empower individuals with special needs who have been impacted by abuse. We are the voice and we will help other individuals and families find their voice. So many changes need to be made to stop the epidemic of kids with special needs being abused. We need to remove the stigma of this topic in order to move forward.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude, with a Bachelor's Degree in Health Service Administration. I have over 25 years of experience in corporate, non-profit and healthcare environments as both an Admissions Director and Development Director.
Nicole resides in Hinckley, Ohio with her husband, Chris and her two children.