The Price of Trauma
June 28, 2021
By Sherita Mouzon, Community Engagement Assistant
I'm a victim of the multi-generational effects of trauma: poverty, alcoholism, mental illness, and food insecurity. I lived in various houses with inhumane conditions while growing up in North Philadelphia. I lived without heat and or hot water most of my childhood. Even when I was older into adulthood, my house was cold and smelled like mold and mildew. Also there was so much darkness. I can't be in the dark; bad things happened in the dark. There were very unsanitary conditions; we used shoe boxes for toilets.
When I was younger, I witnessed my mother suffer through 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 all it did was burn my throat very badly.
I turned to drugs and excessive drinking to numb the pain for most of my life. 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 was on a brain altering substance for 20 years of my life. I am 8 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 my daughter and I were featured in an article. I found strength in meeting the other ladies 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. Then we received training about trauma from Joe Feddero and Ruth Ann who worked with trauma victims with Dr. Sandra Bloom. They developed the Sanctuary model and S.E.L.F. trauma groups. And that's when my life changed!
I realized growing up poor and being mistreated is a trauma - a 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 mentor in helping other people not be ashamed or embarrassed to share their personal journey. I realized that it's not what's wrong with you, but what has happened to you. I went from being a traumatized drug addict to becoming a person in recovery, a peer mentor, and motivational speaker. Having a 13-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. I know that we are not in charge of the world that we are born into, but we can definitely change our future. It is important that we never give up hope!