Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interview with Jacqueline Ellis - A Survivor

As I promised. Jacqueline is with us today. As I mentioned before, Jacqueline has told me her story in bits and pieces, but after reading her responses, I definitely had tears in my eyes. I was so sad to read some of the things that she had to go through and I was also glad that she has her life right now. So many people out there need to hear these stories. Somebody out there needs uplifting. This is a remarkable young lady. I suspect she will be a great star one day. So, here is my interview with Jacqueline.

Kellibrew: Welcome Jacqueline to my blogspot. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule to tell us your story of tragedy to triumph. Yours, like so many other stories, need to be heard. So many people out there lack the strength and determination to push forward through tough relationships and abusive situations. I like to have these conversations to show them that there is a way out. So, Thank you for sharing. Tell me, you have told me somewhat about your story and I was simply amazed that you are alive. You have been through a difficult time as a child. What happened that day with your mother getting hit with a hammer? I am sure that was difficult to see.

Jacqueline: I was 11 or 12 years old, I just remember having to commute during my 6th grade year. My mother's family told her to leave or he will kill you and your children. My mother pregnant with my youngest sister and we came back to his home to get the rest of our belongings. I didn't care where we were going just being out of that situation was all I cared about. I just did not want my mother to hurt anymore and so [us] leaving and living in a shelter was the next move for my family and I. I think my stepfather could sense that this was it and I remember him being drunk as usual. He sent me downstairs for some water and before I could make it up the last set of stairs, I heard a loud thud. He was standing there laughing and my mother was lying on the floor bleeding from her head. Her eyes were closed,she was unresponsive at that point. I had never felt so alone in the world. She lay there lifeless, very pregnant as my middle sister sat on the steps, she had to be about 5 years old. I remember my stepfather chuckling in the hallway telling me "She's fine." and [me] yelling at him calling him the devil and [that] he killed my mother. He eventually picked [her] up from the pool of blood she [had] been lying in and gave her smelling salts. He was now in panic mode and was sweating and trying to revive her. She eventually came to but her face was unrecognizable.

Kellibrew: It really breaks my heart that women and individuals overall have to go through the abuse that your mother suffered, and not to mention your own. Your childhood was a difficult one too. What happened to you as a child that scarred you for life?

Jacqueline:I remember not knowing who my father was and asking my stepfather if I could call him daddy. It was right after my dance performance and he and my mother attended, of course, he was drunk. I just wanted to be normal or at least pretend to be, so once we got him I asked him if I could call him daddy. I remember my mother was downstairs and he called me closer to him. He said sure..."Let me show you what daddy's do". I stood there more paralyzed with shock then fear as he proceeded to put his hands down my panties. I was also molested by 2 uncles in my mother family.

I have been raped twice and have dated some men who have either used and abused me sexually. Not all of my relationships were bad, some great but because of my history, I became involved with men who were had there own issues be it sexual or just a lack of regard with interacting with there female counterparts. I know that most of my history has shaped where I have been in my life and where I am still going, good and bad...hopefully more good. I have since forgiven them all, but the memory still lingers. My stepfather killed himself once he knew my mother was not coming back, I forgive him because I know he was suffering too. As for my uncle's I am sure God will have the final say, I just pray that they are able to recognize the error in [their] actions.

Kellibrew: You could be so many places, doing so many negative things. What keeps you motivated to keep striving in life? Tell me, how do you do it?

Jacqueline: God, he is the reason I am here. I did have some pitfalls and even attempted suicide at 14. I missed a year of school because I spent it in the phyciatric ward. I remember once I was released I told God I would make the best of the life I had been given. I have a young son now and he is even more reason to push everyday. I continue to give back by volunteering in areas where victims and survivors can benefit from my story.

Kellibrew: Right, you do have a child, how old is he and what do you teach him since you have dealt with the trials and tribulations of turbulent relationships? What does he learn from you?

Jacqueline: My son is only 15 months old and even though he is a baby there is always room for correction. Between he and my nephew I do my best to let them know how to interact with the opposite sex. Even though my son is young he sometimes plays rough with little girls. He already knows the word "gentle and nice" when I correct him as he plays with any little girl. Service, compassion, faith, respect, love among a host of other things will be reinforced daily in my household. I think for young children boys and girls alike need to have a safe enviorment and constant unconditional love reinforced daily. Abuse comes in so many forms and being aware and educated defiantly helps break the cycle.

Kellibrew: I know this is difficult to talk about, but I wanted to acknowledge your role in the late Tiffany Gates' life, my God-sister and friend. She was one of your best confidantes. I remember you being devastated to hear the news. Watching you react to her death made it real that day for me. I was literally in shock. I could not believe it. I said, "Not our Tiffany!" You had to recently do her make-up and basically reconstruct her face because of the damage done by her killer. First tell us, how did you get yourself to do the make-up? It was probably one of the hardest things you ever had to do. Also, how has it been dealing with your best friend's death?

Jacqueline: I loved her so much and for so long, 18 years and still to this day. I had knots in my stomach when I knew I had to do her makeup. As friends we had all made our funeral requests in advance and so being her friend I had to honor the part I knew I had. That is what you do for the people you love, It was my last chance to talk to her, be with her...to take care of her and pamper her one last time. I am not going to lie she looked like she had really struggled and just having to see her that close in the condition she was in broke my heart. There was no going back, she was gone and I really miss her everyday. I tell her I am sorry for what happened to her, I am sorry I did not get a chance to hug and kiss her before I left that Wednesday. I have had some trouble sleeping a couple of nightmares but I continue to ask God to keep me. I worry a little more about one of my best friend who is actually your sister. I worry that she may leave me early too and I askGod to watch over my loved ones constantly. I find that because of my issues with death, it plays a big part in my day to day life.

Kellibrew: What's next? In terms of coping with Tiffany's death and having gone through so much yourself, what are your next steps in life? What's your passion and what are you doing to fulfill your passion?

Jacqueline: My passion has always been the arts, it has always been my release from the craziness of this world. I plan to continue my efforts to raise awareness for victims and survivors. There is still a song in my heart so eventually returning to the stage is in my future. "Never Forget" I am adopting that for my own personal motto. Never forget Tiffany, myself, friends, family, the struggle, the triumph. I feel if you never forget you have no excuse but to press on.

Kellibrew: I want to thank you so much for sharing. Believe me, I know how difficult it is. I simply wanted to bring you on the blogspot today because someone has gone through and continues to go through what you have already experienced. Thank God you and your mother got through. I know that by being here today, someone was tapped with some support and strength to make a change today. They see a wonderful young lady who bounced back and stood resilient against the odds. Thank you Jacqueline as always for your time, energy and kindrid spirit. I hope I can get you on sometime in the future to continue our dialogue and get an update. I am sure our readers would love to keep up with you.

Jacqueline: Thank you and I love you. I pray that someone reads this and [are] moved to take action, be it in there own life or someone elses.

Kellibrew: That wraps up our interview with Jacqueline. Be inspired out there. I am excited about our next guest. I will give you the scoop in the next blog. For now, be safe and Happy Holidays, by the way.

Til next time.

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