The Price of Trauma
By: Sherita Mouzan, Witnesses to Hunger: Philadelphia
I’m a victim of the multi-generational effects of trauma, including poverty, alcoholism, mental illness, and food insecurity. Growing up in North Philadelphia, I lived in various houses with inhumane conditions. Houses that were without heat and or running water. Unsanitary houses where we had to use shoe boxes for toilets. Houses that smelled of mold and mildew, sometimes without electricity. At times there was a lot of darkness—I can’t be in the dark, bad things happened in the dark.
When I was younger I witnessed my mother suffer though domestic violence and untreated mental health issues. My mother unfortunately didn’t know how to show me love and emotional support, she was going through her own hell. I was molested at a young age. My mind blocked it away for years. I remember telling my mother but she didn’t believe me. I always felt shamed like it was my fault. I tried to commit suicide a couple of times. I swallowed liquid bleach but it burned my throat very bad.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt forgotten, isolated, empty, hurt, abandoned, and angry. I suffered from attachment disorder, PTSD, and anxiety. I turned to drugs and excessive drinking to numb the pain for most of my life. I was on a brain altering substance for twenty years of my life. I’m five years in recovery but my brain structure and chemistry are synapsing and transmitting all over the place. It’s something that I have to deal with everyday of my life and its torture.
I became a part of the Witnesses to Hunger program after being featured in an article alongside my daughter. As a member of Witnesses to Hunger, I found strength in meeting the other members of the program. I knew I was not alone and they shared similar stories of being impacted by trauma. I didn’t feel shame anymore.
As a member of Witnesses, I received training about trauma from Dr Sandra Bloom, Joe Foderaro and Ruth Ann Ryan, who work with trauma victims through the Sanctuary model and SELF trauma groups. Growing up poor and being mistreated is a trauma, the trauma that has no name but many faces.
I’m living proof of what resilience and motivation looks like. I love my role as an advocate and as a mentor to help other people not be ashamed or embarrassed to share their personal journey. I realized that its not whats wrong with you but what’s happened to you that needs to be the focus. I went from being a traumatized drug addict to becoming a person in recovery, a peer mentor, and motivational speaker.
Having a ten year old daughter is my reason to be a mentor I want to be her role model. I want her and any other little girls to know that they have the power to be anything they want to be And I want her to know that we are not in charge of the world that we are born into, but we can definitely change our future.
I work as a motivational speaker and I’m an advocate and expert on recovery, trauma, food insecurity and addiction. I presently work at the Center for Hunger-Free Communities a Community Engagement Assistant for the Witnesses To Hunger Program. Never give up hope!
This blog was originally posted on the Witnesses to Hunger website.