Tonight's special guest is Michele Baker Johnson a survivor from Bartow, Florida. Michele was the youngest in a house of 9 children raised with alcoholism, drugs, and violence. She suffered through years of sexual abuse by multiple perpetrators including a stranger at a park when she was 5, a step-brother when she was 9-11, an adult female babysitter when she was 11, and an uncle when she was 12-15. Michele did not disclose, until a 4-month hospitalization during which she began self-injuring and had a suicide attempt. The counselor's police report led to his arrest, but Michele's parents dropped the charges and lashed out blaming her, accusing her of being promiscuous before abandoning her and moving to another state. At this point Michele had started 12th grade living with one of her brothers where there was more dysfunction. To support herself and survive she turned to prostitution with older men. Michele married at age 18 and when she struggled in her relationship she sought out treatment but the therapist ignored abuse and trauma issues. She continued living with depression, anxiety, and PTSD through domestic violence and two ended marriages, raising a son with a chronic illness, and eventually a career layoff in 2009 she describes as her rock-bottom. Today things are looking up after finding a good therapist, becoming engaged in outreach and fundraising, and letting go of toxic family. "I now have a team of friends, who support me whenever I'm at my lowest," she says. "They go to counseling with me. They cry with me. They pray for me and they support me anyway they can." Michele goes on, "I no longer have to hide or be perfect. Today I'm blogging my daily experiences along with memories from the past so others can find hope for recovery."
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