Monday, February 27, 2017

A Survivor's Tale: Patricia's Story

On April 2, 2012, I conducted an interview with Patricia McKnight.  At the time, I was a writer for an online publication entitled, "The Examiner."  Ms. McKnight is an advocate for child abuse, domestic abuse and as of late has become one of the many voices that speak out against human trafficking.  In addition to advocating for the rights of the defenseless, she also heads up a radio program entitled "Your Voice Radio Network."

Ms. McKnight is an abuse survivor and although the original article is currently not available, I decided to reprint a copy of the original interview so that the many victims who have endured abuse in any way, shape or form will know that they are not alone.

This is Patricia's story:

Abuse: A survivor’s tale
Patricia’s Story
It’s a beautiful, quiet day today.  There’s a slight chill to the air as I look outside my window at the rows of beautifully kept homes lined with lush trees with light green grass that will turn to a deep green as we glide from winter to spring.  And as I look at these homes, the first thing that crossed my mind is not how wonderful the neighborhood appears, but what is really going on behind the closed doors of some of these beautiful homes.
I thought about that as I began to write this article because I know that domestic abuse is the crime that hides in plain sight.  I know from talking to abuse victims, that there are telltale signs but many people choose to ignore them.  No one wants to reach out to help the victim.  Some simply choose not to get involved.
I met Patricia McKnight through one of the previous articles that I had written.  She is an advocate for the rights of battered spouse and abused child.  But what makes Ms. McKnight so intriguing is not who she is, but where she came from.  An introduction is not needed.  Instead, judge for yourself as you read Patricia’s Story.

JL:  Do you remember when your particular circumstance of abuse started for you?

PM: This moment I will never forget. Returning home from a weekend with my most beloved grandmother and my father's family; having celebrated my fifth birthday with them. As she said goodbye to my brother and I there was a very tight hug and I could feel her very special love for me, but that would be the last time I saw her until my grandfather's passing at age 19. As I ran to my mother's door, returning home with my presents in hand and a very happy girl, I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw the evil spiraling out of a man's eyes who was sitting on our couch. A few months later he was left to care for my brother, the neighbor boys and myself while my mother attended her bridal shower. It was that night the snake of the devil made his first violent attack of molestation and perverted acts towards me, with the boys in the same room. The next twelve years of my life would be under his complete sadistic control, violent rape, years of night time visits; simply all of the ugliness and cruelty of abuse that you could possibly imagine plus much, much more. My mother had walked in on us when I was nine and found me in her bed, naked as he was using his "toy doll", but instead of rescuing me she got angry and sent me to my room for the night. I was not allowed to join in for dinner, but made to come out and clean up the mess. For years I was the family care taker, babysitter, cook, and housekeeper; but in simple terms...a SLAVE!! As I grew it was never safe to bathe in my home and I decided to quit bathing as a mode of protection. This resulted in a skin infection of some type that ate away at my arms and legs, leaving me now to be disgusted by my own reflection. There was never any medical care or dental care, not even the provision of a tooth brush. An entire community watched and was even disgusted by how I looked.  Many teachers and school mates were afraid they would catch something if they made contact with me.  The community and the police knew of drunken teenage parties, the violence of my stepfather's rage when he drank and many times there were brutal physical attacks public to everyone, but still no one said a word or ever questioned my safety or care.

JL:  What was the lowest point in life that you had to face?

PM:  I would say that the very lowest point of my life actually happened twice. The first was when my stepfather's sadistic desires lead to rape with a shotgun barrel. At that moment of only being 12, I physically died inside and my entire view of myself and what I deserved in life was changed for the next 25 years. It started me down a long term path of self-destruction and promiscuous behavior. Actually I became a very ugly person inside and out. I began drinking, which was highly promoted by my family life. I used marijuana and speed drugs to make me feel numb or escape into someone else. The men and relationships I chose to live were almost deadly. There were multiple attempts from various boyfriends and husbands to actually end my life. This came through beatings, kicking, choking, and drowning attempts. They used weapons to hold me captive in corners cowering and praying for my life. The only reason I am here today is because of the higher grace of God who for whatever reason made them stop at that precise moment and walk away rather than killing me. This was the pattern of accepted abuse and it was my life through three marriages and even a few simple dating relationships. The last beating was so severe that it lasted for two solid hours.
I was awakened at 4:00 am with my husband on top of me choking me. I was able to maneuver myself and reach my head up to fiercely bite his left upper wrist which caused him to let go, but set off a furious rage of punching, throwing, kicking, and finally trapping me naked in a corner of my son's room. He then used an old style heavy chrome legged chair…the kind from the 60's style kitchen set that served as an art table for my children. The chair became his fury and it was repeatedly smashed down on my back, head, and wherever he could connect. His stature was tall, lean and strong; but his rage made him insanely powerful. It took two hours before I could crawl to a phone after he spit on me and walked away. As I called 911 it came to me that our neighbors on the opposite side of the duplex had to be awakened by this fighting. You could hear between our homes as there was only a wall that separated the actual home. They turned a blind ear as many had done in the past. When the police arrived I was told that either both of us were going to jail or one had to leave. I forced myself up from the position at the top of the stairs, bruised; shaken; crying; searing with pain, but I decided at that moment I was done with this evil and never again would anyone get away with harming me. During my marriage to this husband, named "Marcus" in the novel, "My Justice", my children were living with us and I did not realize the impact the violence of our marriage was having on them. After I got away and with the support of a very dear friend who gave me safe place to stabilize my thoughts; it was then that I used the education I had worked for to begin a career in which I could take care of my children and myself and purchase a home for us to rebuild and create our safe world. It was important to try and mend what horrors they had experienced. When you are in the very pit of this evil, you don't often realize the damage done to your children as they cower and hide from the battles. This became my rebuilding point, my strength and desire to do better, live safe, and create a world for them to enjoy.

JL:  What did you do to change your circumstances?

PM:  The best thing I ever did to help myself was at 25 and pregnant with my third child, I went back to school. I completed my G.E.D. courses and went on to achieve valedictorian from a small business academy in Fredrick, Maryland - Abbie Business Institute. This gave me the belief in myself that I could actually be more and strive for more than all of the violence and control in my life. That night some 9 years later when I left my second husband; it was this education that gave me the ability to provide us with shelter, clothing, food and the necessities to survive without the financial control and violence of another.

JL:   Could you tell our readership about your publication and the programs that you are affiliated with?

PM:  In February 2011, I released the true graphic novel, "My Justice" and finally gave voice to that person who had been forced into the silence of torture and abuse. This was not only my freedom, but more as a way to apologize and explain to my children who their mother was and why there was so much pain in their lives. It also became my strength to reach out and connect with others who had survived these types of trauma. In January 2011 I started creating a "secret" group connection using the Facebook group applications. This is still safely running today and we have a small community of about 50 women who have overcome their circumstances and are now rebuilding their lives. I make it a point to check in with them, provide any resources they may need to get back on their feet. It's very hard work to actually rebuild the person you are, but if you truly want to be safe in your world it is something you must do; if not for yourself then for your children. Any woman who is struggling with this rebuilding and recovery process is welcome to reach out to me at and we will discuss their needs and the support or resources they may need. Then we include them in our family of positive supporters who are growing stronger and brighter each day.
Also with the publication of "My Justice", I've been able to connect with some wonderful people. Best-selling author and advocate Peter Thomas Senese not only purchased and read my story, but gave rave reviews and provided two major press releases in the PRWeb site. He has become a friend and I've learned of all he is doing as an advocate. In my view his actions are sincerely directed at protecting our children.
I have been really blessed by connecting with the amazing team at Dreamcatchers for Abused Children. Not only did they do an interview of my story on their blog talk radio programing, but then brought me into this realm as a host for a special program; Survivors Speak Out. Of course this has grown tremendously, as my bond with the Founder/C.E. O. - Ms. Sandra Potter, who is a very well established author, but more so a strong and devoted advocate for the safety of all children. Also our President, Ms. Donna Kshir; a platinum level author and another sincerely devoted advocate. These two amazing ladies have given me the opportunity to reach out and inspire many lives. They've given me the position of Executive Director of the Dreamcatchers for Abused Children Blog Talk Radio Programing. We are revamping and refreshing our programing now. Our listeners from all around the world join in with me to share our stories, support those who are healing, inspire them to reach out and achieve their full potential.  We also discuss cases of abuse, provide education on awareness, prevention and intervention of many types of abuse. Our wide spectrum of violence in this world is not only the abuse, bullying, teen dating violence, self-harm, emotional scars and suicide of these victims; but more importantly using our voices and special guests to provide them comfort and knowledge to pass on to others. When we can discuss these crimes openly then we can remove that bond of silence within society and break down those barriers of shame that trap us in this world. This programing gives me the opportunity to touch people lives all over the world and inspire them to allow the rejuvenation of human kindness and caring, vigilance against these crimes and protecting the children in our circle. Those we see each day in our neighborhood and those within our family. We encourage everyone to at least check out our dedicated team of advocates and specialist; survivors and inspirers. You can find me on the show Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's by going to You can also check out our new 24/7 live stream of every show recorded through Go to our website and find resources, books, testimonials, education materials and much more at . Everyone can also find our World Wide Non-Profit 501(c)3 at or; Linkedin; Twitter and most any other social web tools.

JL:   How did this evolve into the blog talk radio program and would you provide the specifics such as when the show airs and your call in numbers?

PM:  Our show airs, three days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The broadcast starts at 9:00pm e.s.t. and is usually a two hour program, full of great information and amazing guests. All of our listeners are encouraged to call in and get involved in the discussions and can do so by calling (917)932-1132 and then press 1 to get in the queue and talk with me live. The most wonderful part of this is the comments left by our listeners who have repeatedly stated how well they loved the show, connecting with me, and most of all feel comforted and SAFE!! This is the most beautiful thing I could ever ask for; it tells me I am where I'm supposed to be now and I am using my past experiences in a very positive manner to enlighten and inspire others to keep moving forward.

JL: Would you mind telling the readership about your book entitled, "My Justice"?

PM:  This is a journal to my children to explain and apologize to them for the horrible pain they suffered because of the abuse I was "trained" to accept as normal in my world. You can find "My Justice" through / / and it's been published in the Kindle; Nook; E-Book and paperback formats. The cover of "My Justice" has received many wonderful comments about how well it truly connects with the body of this story. I have to give that credit to my wonderful son and very talented artist, Brett T. Sanders and his beginning business of KreAtion Studios. The substance and depth of this story has left an impact on all of its readers. They have reviewed it as being a "Magnificent well written story about a very horrific subject". It has been deemed "A learning tool for anyone who is involved directly with children to be watchful of the many silent signs of abuse and what can be hidden behind the neglected and dodging child". Author Peter Thomas Senese heralded this novel as "A call to arms for all human kind to stand against the abuses in our world, but also an amazing portrait of the survivor's determination to achieve that happiness in life and overcome each barrier to finally reach their FREEDOM!!"

 JL: What is the message that you want to convey to all women that are in situations of domestic abuse?

PM: Don't believe in the brainwashing emotional and physical abuse that anyone might subject you to. Find just one piece of belief in yourself and allow it to be the building blocks of your complete happiness. There is nothing in this world that you cannot achieve if you put forth the devotion to make it happen. It is very hard work, therapy is a great way to gain that support and create a "Positivity" list for yourself. Each day write down one positive something about yourself. Carry this list with you everywhere. As you are feeling beaten down and have no strength or energy to carry forward; especially when the anxiety and P.T.S.D. set in on you heavy, that is when you take out that list and began reading it over and over out loud to yourself. Saying each positive mention about yourself and truly believe in the words you are speaking; it will provide a huge helping tool to refocus your thoughts on the present surrounding of your life and what it is that is good in you as a person and in the new beautiful world you are building.

JL:  Would you mind providing all of your contact information in case someone reading this should be inclined to reach out to you?

PM: I sincerely love connecting with other survivors and creating that positive energy between us as we move forward in this mission of awareness and taking down that brick wall of silence. You can reach out to me in many ways, email me; ; You will find me on Facebook - ; Twitter - @tricialgirl62 or through my new blog site - ; the Dreamcatchers for Abused Children website as above and for the blog talk programing as well. I encourage anyone who is suffering to reach out and connect with just one person you trust and allow the emotions that were forced to remain silent for so long to finally have a voice and be told. Talking about your past is a huge step in the healing process and no one should be forced to bury such horrific secrets of crimes against them; not crimes that they have committed. Remove the blame and shame from the victim and allow it to be placed where it should be, the evil monsters who attack us out of sick power to maintain control over what life has been given to us by the grace of God.
We all deserve the following positives in life and they have also been shared on the last page of my novel as a beginning list to your own "Positivity List" which will help you begin your own steps toward freedom and happiness.

Positive Thoughts About You
You deserve a safe place to sleep
You deserve respect
You deserve kindness and support
You deserve as much love as you freely give to others
You deserve roses in your garden of life

~ J.L. Whitehead

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Is the media REALLY the enemy of the American People?

I've been trying very hard not to watch the news as intently as I have been over the past year.  It's not that I don't want to be well-informed about the issues that we as a nation are facing.  It's more around the fact that what I am seeing in the news bothers me to the point where I have to tune out as opposed to tuning in, allowing myself a fast from least for a day or two.

The president has officially declared war on the media by stating (rather repeatedly) that they are the enemy; not of him but the American People.  And unfortunately, some will buy into that logic even though the ones that do believe and subscribe to that ideology should be able to see what is going on right before their eyes.

Mr. Trump caters to his fan base...the people that voted for him and hang onto his every word whenever he speaks or has something to say.  And right now, he is playing a dangerous game by declaring war on the media by calling the news reporting outlets that are critical of some of the things that he has said and done since he assumed the role of commander in chief fake.  The danger is in discrediting highly respected news reporting outlets that have never been labeled the enemy of the American people until now.  In fact, the only thing that these agencies have done is report the news; regardless of whether they are in praise of Mr. Trump or not.  It just so happens that they don't have much room for praise because Mr. Trump has not done anything of late except attempting to keep the promises that he made to his fan base which is not the vast majority of the American people.  Mind you, while that may be of significant importance to him, the role of commander in chief is to govern for all of America and not just the few that put him in office.

What worries me is that while he is attacking the media for doing their job, I have to wonder what else is driving his behavior.  While I am sure that part of it is because he loves to be praised (which will explain why he adamantly supports Fox News) there may be a more nefarious reason as to why he is attacking the media with such fervor...and that reason may be his possible ties to Russia.

What better way to dismiss the claims that his presidency may not be legitimate by attacking the media that would report what took place if it is established that members of his campaign had been in collusion with Russia to help him win an election which he might not have won otherwise?  It's a thought.

But the bigger threat is by silencing the media, he places the very people that put him into office at risk.  God forbid if anything catastrophic should occur and the attempts to warn the American public would go unheeded because the trust had been eroded by the president.

The news is meant to inform.  Our democracy was built upon the idea that freedom of the press comes at the expense of anyone or anything that is doing wrong as much as its to the glee of someone or something that is doing right.  To silence that voice would be of serious detriment to our society.

The following is the definition of the first amendment:

Amendment Text | Annotations. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As I stated before and it bears repeating;

The president does not have a problem with the media as much as he has a problem with the truth.  To attack the media that does not praise him is unfair and therefore a threat to our democracy and his job is to enforce and adhere to our constitution.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, February 18, 2017

In the current age that we are in, can we unite a nation?

Politics has been keeping me up at night.  I have been watching MSNBC, CNN and Fox in an effort to understand our political system more and more.  I wonder what is the driving force behind the diehard Trump Supporter as well as the ones that don't believe in him.   Admittedly, it's been hard if not downright perplexing to understand until I realized one proverbial thing:

People have a tendency to get behind and believe in a candidate that speaks to their immediate need and once that candidate has done that, very little can be done to dissuade them.  People have an emotional tie to the person that they feel represents them.  They feel this deep personal sense of loyalty to that individual which may explain why some Trump supporters will dismiss the president's missteps; in essence giving Mr Trump a free pass whenever he does or says something that may offend and/or alienate another group of people from a different demographic.  They are willing to overlook the presidents mistakes because they want to believe that he is the person that will right the wrong that has been inflicted upon them.

The want to believe may be so strong that they will believe at all costs; and the only thing that will shake that belief is if the president does something so catastrophic that it severely impacts them negatively.  The keyword of course being that it impacts them, because the true Trump supporter/follower does not care if the president does nothing to help Muslims, People of Color, Jews or Women.  The concept that a president is supposed to govern for all, not a few is somewhat foreign to them.  Therefore, they take it personally when you don't support Mr. Trump.

I suppose the same can be said for my support of the former president.  I take it personally when Trump supporters attack him and him alone for not getting anything done from a congressional standpoint when the larger part of the blame rests with the Republican Congress.

So can we unite as a nation?  Eventually, but now is not the time.  I would love to be able to say that we could be united under our current president, but that's not going to happen because he has successfully widened the divide.  Never have I seen the rift between Americans so great than it is currently.   And that is sad because our enemies know that a nation divided against itself cannot stand...and they are waiting.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Good News Is...

Underneath the surface of our current political climate runs the pulse of regular America.  By regular America, I mean the hardworking men and women of this country that are comprised of many ethnic backgrounds, races and cultures.

Right after the presidential election, I was uncertain as to how I was going to interact with white people that I didn't know.  With our country being divided because of the rhetoric that our president has espoused during his campaign, I didn't know if I would encounter someone that was filled with hate, hope or indifference.

As of late, I have run into white people that have looked right though me as if I didn't have the right to occupy the same space as they.  But I have encountered more white people that have gone out of their way to greet, engage and acknowledge me...almost as if they were silently saying that they do not subscribe to the ideologies that have divided our nation.

Some of my fellow African Americans may be thinking why I should care whether "they" acknowledge me or not.  I care because there are so many of us; black, white, Asian and Latino that are willing to be united into a world where no one race dominates and decides what the other races are entitled to.

In my very own church, I am seeing the call to arms to love each other just a little bit deeper and to care just a little bit more.  More importantly, I am seeing the call to action taking root in the actions of people.

We will never be a perfect society.  We will always have our flaws.  There will always be someone who will think that they are more entitled for reasons that may escape the rest of us.

But what this current administration is teaching us is that we are all challenged to do better.  We have to.  And as a result, maybe the world will gradually evolve into a better place for all of us.  With hope and action, we can and must do better by one another.  We must look out for our sisters to ensure that their rights are  not being violated.  We must care about other nationalities because as I've said before, when justice for one fails, it fails for all of us.  It will be a slow and gradual process, but it will happen because true change comes from within.

In the next few years, we will be tested.  There will be triumphs that will astound and bewilder us.  But we must continue to fight for the best in us because that is whats at stake.

Billionaires who know nothing about struggling are running this country.  They are making decisions that will impact all of us.  But we will survive and we will be better.

But it starts with changing how we first and foremost view ourselves and then morph into how we view others.

The good news is that we the people have a chance for a do over.  We know that the majority of us do  not subscribe to racist ideologies.  We know that other minorities are not the cause of our problems.  We know that the rights of one reflects the rights of all.

So take comfort in that as we move forward!

~ J.L. Whitehead

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

People STOP...and let's regroup!

It was one of those nights last night where I lay awake in bed staring at the ceiling.  I couldn't turn my mind off to save my life.  The inauguration is over and we have a new administration in place and for the first time in my life, I feel uncertain as to what the future holds for me, both as an African American and a member of the LGBTQ Community.  In many ways, it's like waiting for the next shoe to drop.

My country has been divided...polarized in ways that I have read about in history books and watched in documentaries.  People are hurt, disappointed...and angry.  Donald Trump coming to presidency should have never happened, and it could have been avoided if the government officials that we appointed to do the jobs that they were elected to perform on our behalf had simply did their jobs.

What is needed now more than ever is for leaders, young and old, to step to the forefront because this administration does not define who we are collectively as a people.  We all want the opportunity for advancement as well as equal pay for equal work.  A woman's right to do what she wants to do with her own body is not anyone's decision except for that woman.  Banning all Muslims from entering this country will not stop ISIS.  And while we are on the subject of terrorism, what about the men that have caused a senseless loss of life for a myriad of reasons from mental illness to white supremacy?

As I've watched our new president in action, I understand that by nature he is somewhat of a bully.  Those tactics work well in the business community but does not necessarily translate well to the leader of the free world.

Everyone is not going to agree with him nor will they always have praise for him...but sometimes that seems to be the expectation.  And if you don't provide either, you are branded "false news" or that somehow, you are a traitor.

I do not subscribe to many of Mr. Trumps ideologies because he has never addressed the concerns that directly impact me from both an African American and LGBTQ perspective.  Many of his supporters/followers (and yes, there is a difference) voted for him knowing that he will not govern for all of America the way that a presidential leader should.  They are primarily concerned that his decisions does not adversely impact them and if those decisions impacts another demographic group negatively, it's okay.  It will not hurt them in the long run.

Out of his supporters, there are those that are genuinely concerned about the restoration of jobs to America.  I get it.  People are concerned about the safety of the citizens of this country.  I get that too.

And while personally cannot change the disposition, defects of character or temperament of Mr. Trump, we as a people can change the way that we view him and hold him accountable to the policies that he is implementing because if those policies will do more harm then good, he is liable.

Our government works for us.  Sometimes, we forget that.  And the leaders of this country are held to a standard that they are to govern for the people because they were elected by the people. 

Now is the time for our voices to be heard.  What is needed now more than ever are effective orators, planners and leaders.  We need to get beyond riled up so that we can make this country what it has and always should have been.

Making America great again would imply that somehow, it wasn't great.  We have always been great, even if every race and ethnicity couldn't reap the benefits of that greatness based on something as simple as equality.  We are a nation that is comprised of a vast melting pot of cultures, backgrounds and skin tones.  Our differences should be celebrated, not feared.  Injustice impacts all of us.  Injustice will erode the fabric of who and what we are as well as what we stand for.

In short, it is not about "me" and "mine" as much as it is about "we" and "unity."

Never forget that!

~ J.L. Whitehead

The Legacy Diner

  Everyone has a favorite place they like to eat and/or hangout at…literally.   We associate these places with pleasant memories.   Maybe ...