Resilience Blog

Happily Ever After?

Hi Best Friend,
Today would have been my 12th Wedding Anniversary. September 16, 2007, was one of the happiest days of my life. I married who I felt was the answer to all of my prayers. He would bring me flowers “just because,” play basketball with my son and the neighborhood kids, share his fries with me without fussing (even though I refused to order some of my own), have tea parties with my daughter AND more!

Happily Ever After?

But on the day we got married he removed the mask he was wearing. He became controlling and manipulative as well as physically, verbally, emotionally, sexually, economically, and spiritually abusive. Now it didn’t happen all at once. Abuse never does. It just slowly and insidiously oozed its way into the cracks and crevices of our marriage.

Our marriage ended four years and fours days later on September 20, 2011, when I asked for a divorce. That is the number one thing you should not do as an abused woman. My ex-husband felt like his life was falling out of control and did the one thing he knew was best to try to maintain control – he shot me multiple times and shot my 10 year old daughter too.

The good news is we both lived by God’s grace and our lives have been a celebration of God’s favor ever since. My children and I have had our fair share of ups and downs since then, but I tell you what…God is still AMAZING and He is in the miracle making business everyday. You just need to look for His blessings.

If you find yourself in an abusive situation or you just want to talk to someone, don’t be afraid to reach out to get some help. Just pinkie promise you will not leave without a safety plan, ok?

💜 Kimya

P.S. On Friday, I will share more about our story and will officially celebrate EIGHT years of life with one of my favorite DV related activities. Stay tuned!

Want to know more about DV or to donate to our organization?
HavenOfLightInt.Org

Interested in learning more about our story?
Order the Kindle or paperback on Amazon today!
bit.ly/bornofviolence

A New Chapter Begins

Hi Best Friend,
I have to do one of the saddest things and one of the happiest things in my life – leave my sweet pea, Corinne, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Corinne in hospital

The month of September is significant to us for a couple of reasons. Eight years ago, on September 20th, the enemy tried to kill my daughter. As many of you know, she was shot in the head by my ex-husband. Doctors said she wouldn’t live 24 hours, but God intervened. She would learn how to sit up, walk, talk, feed herself, read, write and EVERYTHING all over again.

Corinne says I have been a “helicopter Mom” ever since. Honestly, I have. That’s why leaving her in a city soooo far away from me is hard. However, September is also the month where God has given her a tremendous opportunity to embark on a new endeavor – getting her Bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts at the #2 culinary school in the nation!

Friend, you have no idea how hard the road was in even getting her here. One thing I know for sure is God wants her at this school.

Rachael Ray Show
  1. He provided over $20,000 in scholarships and Grants from the school.
  2. The celebrity chef, Rachael Ray gave her a $32,000 scholarship.
  3. We didn’t have enough money to fly both of us here, purchase the stuff for her room, or money for me to purchase LYFT’S, stay in a hotel for 3 days to move her in the dorm and attend parent orientation. (Sometimes saving the world from domestic violence comes with a salary and sometimes it doesn’t. Get ready for the testimony…it is coming soon).

When I tell you God turned that around in days… I am in tears just thinking about how He provided for this transition.

So I can’t even front. Even though she is so far away, I know Corinne is SUPPOSED to be here. The things God and Corinne have done over the years continue to astound me. He was and continues to be in the miracle-making business. I can’t wait to see what God and Corinne are going to do next. So, while I had to leave my “little girl” behind, it is time for her Mommy to be a Big Girl now

Ready to begin her new adventure

There is a lesson in this for you and me. God is not bound by time or space. He is definitely not limited by our circumstances. What seems impossible for us, is possible with God. If He can save a 10-year-old girl, whose brain had liquefied from a single bullet, restore her life, and send her to the second-best culinary school in the nation on a full ride for one year (the rest is coming), He’s got our other problems.

If God created 12,000 species of ants and gave each of them defining and specific details, He not only cares about our problems, He will fix them too. He sent a complete stranger to tell me this in the Wal-Mart in Providence and I am sharing it with you. If He cares this much about ants, why do we even worry? Aren’t we worth so much more to Him?

That’s how BIG our God is. Trust Him.

💜 Kimya

Me and sweet pea right before we boarded the plane

Windows of Opportunity for Healthy or Toxic Relationships

Hi, Best Friend,
Are you asking, “How did I get in this situation…again?” The truth is those flags are there in the beginning- pink, red, or on FIRE – we see them and choose to run right past them. 

You can clearly see what’s going on. Take heed.


In looking back over my failed relationships, I can honestly tell you there was something in my first encounter/date/conversation that made me feel uneasy or let me know this person was not for me; however, I said, “Let me just see what is going to happen.” On top of that, once I became intimate with them, it really made it hard to see their true character. If the sex was good, it makes it even harder to walk away (that’s a different conversation for a different post). 


When I met my ex-husband in 2006, he had just moved to Atlanta one month prior. He was living with his cousin, sleeping on her floor, and did not have a car to drive. He told me that he had a successful business where he came from, but it failed. He wanted to start his life over. Friend, he had a job and “potential.” Now, are these abusive qualities? Nope! Were they consistent with my value system? Nope! I wanted to be married so badly that even though these things went against what I wanted in a man, I thought I could help him see his potential. Ironically, in the weeks before he shot me and my daughter, he told me in a moment of anger, that he only got involved with me because he wanted to leave his cousin’s apartment and I was so desperate for a man that I made it easy for him. Wow!


You have probably done this too. It was probably not to this degree but we have all had our, “let me see what is going to happen” moments in the first few dates or moments. Not sure of what I’m talking about? Amongst other things, you saw that he:

  1. Had a pattern of cheating on other girlfriends
  2. Did not have goals or aspirations for the future and you do
  3. Was extremely critical of his ex
  4. Did not have his financial house in order
  5. Didn’t treat the mother of his children well
  6. Does not take care of or spend time with his children
  7. Chose not to have a relationship with the Lord
  8. Wanted something you knew you couldn’t do but said you will try to do it anyway (I dated a man who told me on the first date he didn’t like affection. Friend, that’s my love language. Was that going to work? Nooooo).
  9. Did things that went against everything you believe – drugs, alcohol, gambling, illegal activities 
  10. Did not have actions that matched up with his words
  11. Was married when you met him
  12. Checked his phone constantly when you’re together, but would not return your calls or texts when you’re apart because “He didn’t see them or left his phone in the car.”
    And more…so much more…

We thought he wouldn’t turn those toxic behaviors on us. We thought that we could change him. We thought he would eventually love us the way we wanted. We were wrong. Now the relationship has fallen apart or you see that your “wait and see” approach is doomed for failure. Your feelings are hurt. You are questioning your worth. You feel used, betrayed, bitter, hurt, angry at yourself and him, and you’re in a space where you don’t care about anything anymore- you don’t want to feel or think. You are thinking to yourself “you didn’t sign up for this,” but you did…when you saw those flags and didn’t look at them as a hard stop. I remember saying to God, “I never want to cry again, unless they are tears of joy.” That was unrealistic, but there is hope for you and me. Let’s go!


Ok, Bestie, I want you to brainstorm a list of EVERYTHING you want in a mate. Go wild. Go crazy. I mean I want you to design what you deem to be the ideal characteristics in a man. Have fun with it. Friend, I ended up with 40 things on my list when I did this a few years ago. Now here is where the transformation happens. Begin by thanking God for ALL the things that are going right in your life. Then I want you to ask for forgiveness for your sins. Be very specific. Next, I want you to ask God to guide you in choosing the mate HE wants for you. After your prayer, take that list you just created and place numbers by the characteristics in order of importance or priority. For example, “has a relationship with God” is my #1. “Sleeps with the fan on and the TV” off might be #23 (LOL). 

Now, take a look at what is in your top 10. I would say focus on what is in your top 5. That is where your value system exists. For me, I always compromised in my top 5. You probably have too. This is why we keep getting in toxic or unhealthy relationships. Next time you meet someone, I want you to think about your top 5 (or ten). This will become your litmus test for every relationship going forward. Ask yourself, “Does this person align with my value system?” If not, keep moving. If yes, this is the person you want to take the “let me just see what is going to happen” approach. 

No matter what anyone tells you or what you may be telling yourself, you deserve to have a mutually satisfying, healthy relationship. You are worthy and you can have it when you let God guide you. Trust Him. He has the ability to look into the window of your very soul (mind, will, and emotions) and give you exactly what you need. We have not because we ask not. 
💜 Kimya

P.S. I am redoing my list right along with you. 

Back to the Basics

Hi, Best Friend,

We’ve got to talk…like for real. We need to get back to the basics with the men in our lives. I flew out of town yesterday and when I arrived my driver told me that he provides Black Car Service for some star athletes. (Let’s just call him Mike for the sake of this story).


He goes on to tell me that his athlete client threw a birthday party for himself and the driver, MIKE 😉 was instructed by the athlete to drive him to all the strip clubs so he could pick out the most talented girls in each club for the party (he didn’t use that verbiage exactly…he used other colorful terms. I swear SOME men I speak to either think I am one of them, they don’t have respect for women or some combo of both). Here’s where the plot thickens…


So when the women arrived, the athlete had their entire bodies spray painted in gold. They were to walk around naked, with their newly gold-gilded bodies, and serve as the waiter service for the evening. He spent approx $30,000 for this…ahem…service.


Best Friend, Mike was so impressed with his athlete client and his story and I just listened…waiting for my turn to speak. When there was a lull in the story, I said, “Mike, it sounds like your client is stuck in the Man Box. He spray painted their bodies to distance himself from their humanity. In his mind, women are objects, primarily sexual objects, not human beings. Painting them gold solidified that in his mind. By doing this he is showing that men are superior and women are weak. They have nothing more to offer than their service to men.” I explained a few more things to give him something more to think about. There was a HUGE pregnant pause in the conversation and Mike said, “I think you’re right. I didn’t think about it in that way.” #Winning


Best Friend, we need to get back to the BASICS. We need to teach our men to value a woman’s life, treat women equally, never use language that denigrates women and girls, AND develop an interest in the experience of women and girls, outside of sexual conquest. According to A CALL TO MEN, these are some of the basic building blocks of healthy manhood.


I am asking you to do me a favor – friend to friend. Get your son, boyfriend, husband, cousin, co-worker, best friend, golf buddy, grandpa, uncle, father, coach, teacher and all of their friends to come to my event on October 2. We are going to have some open honest convo about being a healthy man. ***The presence and participation of women is both honored and appreciated; however, seating is limited.***
https://menscommunitybreakfast.eventbrite.com


A CALL TO MEN (acalltomen.org), the leading voice on healthy masculinity, is co-hosting this event with my organization, Haven of Light International, Inc. (havenoflightint.org) This event has been made possible in part by a grant from the Social Responsibility Department of the National Football League.


I am called to be a champion for cultural change. I am giving a CALL TO ACTION for you to join me in promoting healthy manhood and decreasing violence against women and girls! Join me today!
💜 Kimya


Protecting Victims Behind the Purple Wall

When victims of domestic violence decide to leave their abusive partners and call me for help, do you want to know what triggers me? As a survivor of gun violence at the hands of my ex-husband, you would be surprised to discover what triggers me is NOT their stories of abuse. It’s when they cry because the agencies I send them to for help hurt them as well. I remember feeling helpless every time I reached out to my local sheriff’s department because when they arrived at our home on numerous occasions, they would side with my ex-husband. I remember my heart racing with fear and anxiety when I finally worked up the courage to call the domestic violence crisis number only for them to tell me, “We ain’t got no rooms.” I remember feeling hopeless when I went into the district attorney’s office to file for a temporary protection order, only for the receptionist to tell me, “Hon, if you don’t have an address, there isn’t anything we can do.” There was never any other direction, words of support, or alternatives given. I was turned away without a sense of what I should do next. Faced with having to spend another day in my ex-husband’s presence and under his power, I remembered sliding down to the floor, with my back against the wall, curling up into the fetal position and crying tears of desperation. This is why, ten years later, it still hurts me to hear women are facing the same issues when they turn to organizations that are designed to help them.

My organization, Haven of Light International, Inc. (http://havenoflightint.org) provides mobile advocacy, crisis intervention, and connections to resources amongst other things. If our clients request more one on one help, I walk them through the entire process to help them rebuild their lives after domestic violence. When I started the organization, I knew I did not want to make anyone feel the way I was left feeling numerous times when I reached out for help. My mentor had a heart to heart conversation with me that I remember to this day. She said, “Kimya if you are tired, angry, bitter, or in a bad mood. Do not minister to those ladies. Your words will say one thing, but they will receive the way you are feeling.” It reminded me of a quote that I heard from Maya Angelou.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I grew tired of hearing that the Gatekeepers of Freedom (that is what I call them) are the ones revictimizing these ladies. These are the people that act as a doorway to living a life free from abuse. They are the ones the women interact with first in the midst of an active domestic violence situation.

I created a Facebook post surrounding this topic a couple of weeks ago and voiced my discontent with the way some of my clients were being treated. Amazingly, other advocates filled the comments of my post with stories and accounts of how their clients had been revictimized by domestic violence agencies (shelters), law enforcement, court employees, and clergy, as well. Why didn’t we take our collective outrage and voice our concerns to the people that hold these agencies accountable? Are we just as guilty of being silent and thereby perpetuating the violence? Many of us in this work say, “Silence hides violence” but, often times we are referencing being involved in or knowing about the act of violence by the perpetrator and doing nothing about it. I think we need to take it a step further. As I began to research the complexity of this issue, I was unable to find information regarding this problem because the mechanisms explaining the link between victimization by intimate partners and revictimization by service providers has not been extensively studied. I wondered why.

I decided to do something more than vent about my disdain. I emailed agencies and made phone calls to people in authority and asked the tough questions and found out there is a protocol in place for domestic violence shelters, but not many other community-based and government-run agencies. When these steps are not followed, there are a couple of agencies that are supposed to hold them accountable. Here is what I discovered:

  1. When a client calls the domestic violence agency and reports abuse, the shelter in the county where the client resides is responsible for providing them with safe housing.
  2. If the agency does not have a room available, THEY are supposed to call the other agencies to locate a bed for the abused person.
  3. If they are unable to find space, the agency is supposed to place the person in a hotel until space becomes available.
  4. They are not supposed to say, “We don’t have any room,” and leave the victim without any choices.

Many of them do not follow this protocol and they leave victims feeling disenfranchised and hopeless; therefore, what can we do when this protocol is not followed? If you notice the domestic violence agency (shelter) is repeatedly violating the protocol, you can speak with the shelter manager and express your concerns. If you notice the problem is still occurring you can contact your state agency that governs accountability and education to make a report. That might be your state’s coalition against domestic violence. They are a good place to begin and they will give you the steps to follow next.

What about the other community-based and state-mandated agencies that re-traumatize domestic violence victims? How can they get on the right track? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Let’s begin with getting yearly training for the people who are on the frontlines in this fight against domestic violence.
  2. The training for people who take crisis calls for the shelters should include domestic violence protocols and basic customer service skills. An accountability component should be evident as well. Periodically, calls should be monitored for empathy and how well the protocols are being followed.
  3. When going to the homes where domestic violence is reported, law enforcement officials need comprehensive education to help them learn how to identify the primary aggressor and how to offer resources to victims and perpetrators.
  4. Everyone in the court offices that serve victims of domestic violence needs training tools as well – even down to the receptionist. Yes, the receptionist…and if you are a court official (district attorney, judge, solicitor, etc) and you have not had domestic violence training in the past year, yet you preside over cases daily, shame on you. Take a class. Go to a conference. Hire someone to come into the courthouse and give training to all of your staff.
  5. I can not even begin to fully address in this post how women of color, women who have immigration issues or have different sexual orientations are treated unjustly and inhumanely in many instances; as a result, all of these organizations could benefit from some sensitivity and cultural training too.

Accountability is not just for batterers; domestic violence shelters, law enforcement agencies, court personnel and members of the clergy should NOT hurt the very people they are supposed to be helping. If the advocates in charge of helping victims remain silent about the lack of assistance and the gross mistreatment of victims within the margin of the margins, our silence is just a deadly as the bystanders that witness or know about domestic violence and do nothing about it. It is time to shine a light on these insidious practices that persist behind the purple wall.

💜 Kimya

Say Yes!

3 A.M. Thoughts
When God places a call on your life AND you say yes to it, be prepared. It is the craziest, most rewarding, humbling, joy-filled, and scariest feelings you can ever imagine. It will test your faith like never before.

Right now, I am doing the work of the kingdom. God is using our story in AMAZING and awe-inspiring ways. It literally blows my mind. 
1.Families are being freed from the prison of domestic violence. 
2.Teens in Georgia are learning how to value themselves, talk about healthy relationships, and teach others the warning signs of violence. 
3. Our Teen Talks program will go global this year. In partnership with another organization, teens on island nations and abroad will soon learn how to have healthy relationships.
4. Soon, our story will be used to help some of the most influential men in our country’s culture. 
Sounds great doesn’t it? At the same time, my children and financial situation are undergoing great turmoil and tribulation. It is one of the most humbling and scariest things ever. It is like being in labor for days (weeks even) then giving birth to the most beautiful baby in the world. The act of carrying a baby, labor, and delivery happens when all GREAT things are birthed.

I have learned to lean on God like never before. I really thought my relationship with Him couldn’t get better, but it did. I spend days fasting, and hours in prayer, praise and worship. I am just trying to lean in to get wisdom and direction for our next steps as a.family and organization.

So when you see me or my organization do amazing things, just know it all comes at a price. My family has sacrificed a great deal to ensure other families can be free. My daughter said if she has to give up her senior prom, she understands and even prayed about it this morning when I dropped her off for school. My son regularly sacrifices his money and time or family. My children go without some things at times, but even they get the larger picture. When I got into this, I didnt realize we ALL were in ministry. They are really the most caring and understanding little humans I could have ever dreamed or hoped for. ❤❤❤

I said all of that to tell you, When you decide to say “Yes” to God and your purpose, it will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but it will be worth it. You will have success, but you will have failures (with an S). Here is where your faith will be tried, tested, and strengthened. You will soon find out that everyone in your circle is not in your corner. As you are being pruned, you realize you REALLY are His son/daughter because he only disciplines the people He loves. You may even develop a new found appreciation for Ramen noodles. 🍲🍲

In the end, our Father will come through for you (hasn’t He always?), lives will change, mountains will move, and your life and the lives of the people you’re serving will be greatly enriched because of your choice. Trust Him and say Yes!
💜 Kimya

You Will Get Beaten, Torn, and Hurt When You Jump, but God is Still There…

In May 2017, I felt the strong urge to leave my teaching job. After years of prophecies and confirmations, I left my career of twenty years (yes 20!) and decided to pursue my purpose. I left with dreams of saving thousands of lives and making millions of dollars. The “saving thousands of lives” part was correct, but the making of millions of dollars part…well, let’s just say that didn’t happen yet, and I did not realize just how bad things would actually get.

In 2016, I remember watching Steve Harvey give a speech to his Family Feud audience. He said in order to truly LIVE, you’ve got to jump. You will never feel really fulfilled until you take the gift God gave you and do something with it. He said jumping with your gift will cause you to soar. Steve also mentioned when you take that leap, at first your parachute would not open all the way and you will fall on the rocks, get some skin torn off, and bleed. I don’t really think I was listening during that part…

Everything Steve said was true! When I left my job, I was the happiest I had been in years. I started meeting new and interesting people, going to beautiful events, and most importantly, doing the work that I was purposed to do. I was actually LIVING and making a difference while doing so!!! I felt so free!

God blessed me immensely because of the decision I made (Check out the photos above – click on the photos and then click left or right)

  • I flew to an event in New York in November 2017 where People Magazine and Investigation Discovery Channel honored me
  • Had a fabulous book signing party in January 2018
  • Appeared on Good Day Atlanta in February
  • Filmed commercials for Marsy’s Law for Georgia and Stacey Abrams
  • Got a standing ovation from the entire Georgia House of Representatives after Representative Pam Dickerson recognized me from the House floor
  • Appeared on numerous T.V., radio, and newspaper outlets
  • Worked with a fabulous group of men and women to change the constitution of Georgia so crime victims would have equal rights
  • Received several awards for my work as an advocate
  • Had my video chosen to appear on The Red Table Talk
  • and MORE!

God was truly making my name great; however, as much as he was exalting the work I was doing, the enemy kept fighting me through my finances and through things that would constantly come up against my children. During this period of time, my car was stolen, my house went into foreclosure, the bank threatened to take my new truck, my bank accounts were DEEP in the negative, things started breaking in my home without a way to pay to repair them, my electricity got turned off, and there were times we even had to eat Ramen noodles for dinner (and I swore I’d never eat those things again after I’d left college!).

Listen, you would think that I would not struggle with faith. You are talking about the woman who survived 4 gunshot wounds. You are talking about a woman who watched her daughter fight for every inch of her life back after she was shot. We won! We won because of Jesus. So why was I struggling with my faith? There were many nights and days that I would cry and wonder if I had truly heard the Lord. At times my children would ask me, “Are we poor?” I wondered if the Lord told me to leave my job, then it shouldn’t be this hard, should it?

The answer is yes! God never promised us the weapon would not form, He promised us it wouldn’t prosper. If He has called you to do something, He will definitely fund it. There was a time when I didn’t have money for Christmas. I told my children there wouldn’t be any Christmas gifts or a Christmas Eve party that year. (I don’t know why my children still like to bake cookies for Santa…but they do. Did I tell you they were 18 and 23?) They both said they understood, but as a mom, I wanted to give them something. I prayed about it for the whole month of December and two days before the holiday, two women gave me money for Christmas gifts for my children. Go Jesus!

There was a time when I did not have any money to pay my bills for the month. None, nada, zilch. As a matter of fact, my bank account had -$95. On top of that, I did not have any food to feed my children. We literally ate tomato soup for a whole week. I prayed and reminded God of his promises to me. His word says He is my shepherd and that He shall supply all my needs. Within a week of praying for His provision, the same two ladies that helped me with Christmas, gave me enough money to pay ALL of my bills for the month. Let me help you understand this. That’s mortgage, car note, car insurance, utilities…everything. On top of that, the next day, two ladies and a man came by my home and provided us with so much food, I was struggling to put it all in the freezer. He’s a good, good Father.

I shared all of this with you to say, if you know God is calling you to something greater, listen to me and Uncle Steve (hey, he’s my play uncle in my mind). If you want to truly live, you’ve got to jump. It’s going to hurt a little bit and you might get a little scared (sometimes a lotta scared..ok, a lotta is not a word. You get the picture), but it will be the best feeling you’ve ever experienced in your life. It’s even better than ice cold vanilla ice-cream on a hot, fudge brownie. Hey! It doesn’t get much better than that!

So, how do you know you’re ready to jump?

  1. You feel like you’re trapped in your current job or position
  2. You daydream about the “other” thing you’d like to do all the time
  3. People consistently prophesy to you about your purpose and it matches that “other” thing you’d like to do
  4. You receive confirmation in many different ways
  5. You’re unsure how to make this big vision become a reality

If this sounds like you, you already know God is speaking to you.

If you are not ready to take a “jump” in your life, but you are simply going through some hard times, just know our Father is a comforter and provider. Although things may look bleak, He is always by your side just waiting for you to ask Him to take over. If you are feeling overwhelmed with worry and anxiety, here are a few things to try to fight the enemy:

  • Sing songs of praise and worship to the Lord
  • Look up scriptures that are related to your issue. For example, if your issue is debt, do this Google search, “What does the Bible say about debt?” It will come up with dozens of scriptures about debt.
  • Write down some of the scriptures you find and meditate on them daily
  • Write down your prayers in a prayer journal
  • Get in a support group of like-minded individuals to help you realize you are not alone.

Through it all, remember God’s plans are perfect. He does not have plans to harm you. Your Heavenly Father has a glorious future planned for you in which you prosper (Jeremiah 29:11). That means you win! Stay encouraged and JUMP! – Kimya

How to Move From Tragedy To Triumph

Hey Best Friends,

Today I tuned into a webinar hosted by Leslie Vernick, author of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. She gave some awesome insight on how to go from victim mindset to owner mindset. I started thinking about her message in terms of my own life. When I was going through some of the worst things in my life, I didn’t realize I was following “steps” to pull myself out of the muck (mud). Once I heard her webinar today, I realized I turned my tragedies into triumphs by following some of the exact steps she outlined and partnering with God.

My life seemed to be doomed from the start. I was born into a home where domestic violence was modeled for me on a regular basis. At the age of five, I was sexually assaulted by neighborhood boys. I had been raped at gunpoint by the time I was 16,  lived a life entrenched in the drug culture of my neighborhood in my early 20s, and as many of you already know, survived an ambush where my ex-husband shot me and my daughter in the parking lot of her school when I was 38.  If anyone should be in the corner somewhere, devastated and trying to pick up the pieces of my fragmented life, it should be me…but it isn’t. I have an incredible ability to bounce back from life’s circumstances because I let God lead me through my journey, took life’s obstacles one day at a time, and ultimately changed the trajectory of my life because I didn’t allow my circumstances to keep me stuck in the muck.

Steps I Used to Go from Tragedy to Triumph

We have to take ownership of the outcome of our stories. Yes, something horrible happened that we couldn’t control; however, we can control how we respond to it and what happens next. Leslie taught us in the webinar that we are the writers to our stories. I have a question for you:  do you let your circumstances define who you are OR will you decide who you become from here? Here are some key things I remembered from her webinar that I actually used on my road to healing and prayerfully it will help you too.

  1. Don’t focus on what you lost. Focus on what you were fortunate to keep.  Many times we sit around and think about all the negative things that happened to us. We think life is unfair, people are mean, and we are doomed to be stuck in our situations. We focus on all the things that are wrong instead of what is right. Right after the shooting, my mouth had to be wired shut for five months (5 loooong months…yes 5, LOL).  This happened and it plowed right through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. All I could think about was the food I would miss during this time.  I had to be reminded that I still had my life and my family and that was far more important. When thinking about your situation, pray about what’s right first, then pray about what you need God to fix. You could say, “Thank you that I have gas in the car, food on my table, clothes on my back, hot water to wash with, and a warm bed to sleep in.” When you start thinking about what’s right, your whole situation takes on a different light. Learn to look for “the good” in everyday situations.
  2. What you feel or tell yourself always feels true, but it isn’t always the truth. Your thoughts and feelings are connected, but that’s not who you are. That’s not your identity.  Thoughts and feelings change, but your core (values and virtues) remain pretty constant. The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If you think you are less than worthy, used goods, too fat, too ugly, not smart enough (or other lies we tend to believe) then you will become the reality you envisioned. You should pay attention to your thoughts, cast down any lie from the enemy (sometimes that is you), and learn to see things differently.  As a young woman, I would tell myself that no one would want me. I was too fat. I didn’t have a sexy figure. I was messy. I wasn’t smart. Why? These are the messages I was fed over the years by the men I loved.  I had to begin to speak the truth about the situation AND the truth about what God says about me. He says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; I am the apple of His eye; I am the head and not the tail; I am made in His image.” When I began to replace the lies with the truth, I started changing my man-made identity into a  Christ-filled identity.
  3. You have choices about the next chapter of your life.  Yes, something bad happened to you. Someone raped you. You got breast cancer. Your car was wrecked and you have no money to buy another one. Your husband beat you. Your child was killed. Your mother died when you were young. Your significant other cheated on you and now you have a disease that you can’t get rid of. Your house was taken from you. I could go on….but I won’t. These things are terrible and we need to acknowledge them. Many of them happened and you didn’t have any control over them. Guess what? You have control over what happens next. I began this blog letting you know that I was a product of childhood domestic violence, sexual assault, and attempted murder. However, I am going to end letting you know that I took all those negative things that happened to me and allowed God to turn my ashes into Beauty.  I opened an organization that helps sexual assault and domestic violence victims. I am an inspirational and motivational speaker and share my story in hopes of building resilience in the people who hear me. I fight for a change of laws in our state and country so victims’ rights are protected.  I didn’t stay stuck in the muck.  I used the muck (mud) to make bricks so I could build something life-changing for God and His people.

Sometimes we are stuck in the muck of life and don’t know how to get out.  We have to realize that our stories are not our identities. Something bad happened to us, but we don’t have to get stuck there. We have to focus on what is right and not what we lost in the process, start telling ourselves the truth of what God says about us, and change the next chapter of our lives.  I did it.  I am still working on it daily.  If I did it, you can too! We can change our lives after any tragedy, one day at a time and with God by our sides.

Love,

Kimya

 

 

Moving On

Some women think fear, anger, depression, and guilt will magically disappear when the abuser is out of her life. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  It could take years of counseling before the damage is no longer an issue.

It may be tempting to want to place your old life in a microwave, press “2 Minutes”, “Start” and hope your NEW life will begin right away – especially if you’ve left an abusive relationship.  You’ve endured fear, intimidation, guilt, shame, and reproach for days, weeks, months, and years.  You’re free – now what? Why doesn’t it feel good?  Where is your complete RELIEF?

After the shooting, I wanted to change EVERYTHING – hair, clothes, and the walls in my house. It seemed as though I could feel him in every room and I couldn’t sleep at night – especially in my own bedroom.  I asked my friend’s husband to come over and paint the house.  He did a marvelous job and it made me feel better. I could then sleep soundly every night – good change! 

I even decided to leave the place where I was teaching.  I didn’t feel heard or appreciated there. Some of the staff members, including myself, felt trapped in an abusive relationship while working there.  It reminded me too much of what I’d just been through; so, I put in my letter of resignation and left at the end of that school year. I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do. I just trusted God and left.  What that a good change? YES!  Did it have potential for disaster because I didn’t exactly think that through? YEP!  

Ladies, you may even be tempted to start a new relationship.  You miss the love, affection, and intimacy from your previous relationship and you may even have the thought that a new relationship is just what you need to help you get back on track. DON’T DO IT!  Wait four seasons (one year) before you start a new relationship.  Go rediscover who you are and what you like to do…Learn all you can about abuse versus healthy relationships.  If you don’t, you might find yourself in another abusive relationship OR you could damage a perfectly healthy relationship because you are broken.

Change is a process; however, it is like cooking something in a crock pot versus cooking something in a microwave.  Trust the process. Allow God to mend your hurt and change your mindset.

Believe me you want your changes to be long lasting and if you give yourself a break, take time to pray to God, and allow Him to make the necessary changes, you will be healthier and happier in the end.

You CAN rebuild your life one day at a time and with God by your side.

Love,

Kimya

Be Authentic- Love Who You Are

      My name comes from the Swahili language and is spelled K*I*M*Y*A, but it is pronounced KEEM-yuh. (Ok, say Hakeem…now say Keem-yuh. That’s it!) It is also pronounced this way in Turkish and Azerbaijani. For years I would just tell people my name was Kim. People could not pronounce Kimya (Keem-yuh) so it was easier to just tell them to say Kim.  I was not strong enough to correct them and insist that they say my name correctly. It is amazing how a person can feel so diminished from abuse even your name doesn’t matter and you can’t even speak up for it.
     In 2008, I began to get the courage to proudly tell people my real name and had expectations that they say it correctly.
I am proud of my name. It belongs to me. It is my identity. In Swahili, Kimya means “Silent,” my middle name means “Star” (don’t even ask me how to pronounce it). In Turkish or Azerbaijani, Kimya means “Chemistry.” {I bet you didnt know my favorite subject is science, I majored in Pre-Pharmacy (Chemistry) before I switched to Education and worked in the Biochemistry dept at UGA my first two years of Undergrad}.
     Today, I am so happy to be God’s Silent Star that identifies what things are made of but causes things to change…for the better! Did you see how I used the definition of Chemistry that description of myself?  Way to Go Jesus!
     Now what does all of this have to do with you?  My point is you don’t have to make yourself smaller to be accepted by anyone. Be proud of who you are. We can all find something about ourselves that we don’t like very much OR not feel strong enough to speak up about those things we love and believe in because they are not accepted by others.  So embrace your name, freckles, glasses, short hair, pigeon toes, knock knees, long legs, big feet, extra curves (or lack thereof), big nose, flat butt, gap in your teeth, social awkwardness and LOVE it all.  To wish to alter or change EVERYTHING about yourself is like saying, “God you made a mistake in making me who I am. I hate it!” Sure, we all could make some positive changes in our lives like eating healthier, working out a little more, getting your hair done if it pleases you, or buying a new outfit from time to time, but if you find you hate everything about yourself, especially if you feel that way because of what others told you, “Houston, we have a problem.” I want you to look in the mirror everyday and tell God he did a PHENOMENAL thing when he made you.  Say, “I am worthy, beautiful, strong, intelligent, funny, creative, and amazing!” Say it everyday until you mean it. You are God’s child!
     Whether you were made fun of because you were the kid that loved reading instead of video games, played in the dirt instead of with dolls, made chemistry experiments in your house, were too short, or too tall, were pretty so people said, “You think you’re cute?”, or loved to sing but did so off key, or couldn’t dance but danced like you didn’t care what people thought, or were picked last for all the playground sports because you didn’t have an athletic bone in your body but loved kickball anyway, or wore the heck out of some Payless Shoes because you loved the SuperHero brands and your parents didn’t make much money…the point is be you.
     Imagine how boring the world would be if we all were the same.  Embrace who you are, shine your light, work on your lesser strengths, and present yourself to the world as your MOST AUTHENTIC and FABULOUS self!
#ChampionForCulturalChange #Swahili #Turkish #Azerbaijani #Inspireadifference #GoJesus #SilentStar #KimyasRock
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