Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holidays - Tough for Victims and Survivors

Hello friends...

It's been a while since I last blogged, but it's super great to blog again.

We are in the middle of a tough holiday season for many who are victims and survivors of violent crime.

I know several individuals who have suffered tragically, some recent and some with distant memories, but to them it seems like yesterday. Events haunt them still today.

For me, not having my mother and brother around for the holidays is difficult. Honestly, words cannot describe the loss I feel, but if I had to put it into words for others to understand, I would simply say, I cope with reoccuring thoughts and emotions. While I cannot change what happened, I can change my reaction to it.

The holiday season can trigger immense feelings and pressure. Birthdays, anniversary of deaths, wedding anniversaries and other important dates remind us sometimes of the amazing times we shared with our loved ones. These feelings range from depression and sadness to feelings of loss and anger. We also can feel grateful, happy and relieved, but I assure you that it is a roller coaster and not one emotion spared.

To cope with my loss during this holiday season, I stood outside today, breathing Edinburgh, Scotland's fresh air while looking out onto Princes Street Gardens, just beneat the Edinburgh Castle. Being in a special place helped me to appreciate the wonderful gift of life. Earlier in the day, I wasn't so happy though. Leading up to my visit to Scotland's museums on Princes Street, I felt sadness and an overwhelming feeling. It felt like I was all alone and quite isolated. I was by myself and with no mobile phone to call anyone. So, I had to rely on my coping ability to kick in.

Before kicking in though, I reflected on a time in my life when life wasn't so great. I thought about the times when suicide was the first thought inside my head. I remember how difficult life was then and I knew I did not want to return to that moment in time. Thank God and many family, friends and strangers who helped me get through those tough times because with their help, I got through. Now, my support systems are strong. I get through easier, but times are still difficult.

Remarkably, I have learned amazing coping skills to deal with my emotions. I breathe deeply, meditate, keep busy and engaged in many activities that give me great rewards. I read, write, watch movies, think about happy times, travel, talk with friends and go out on the town. These are just some of the things that help me cope. Also, I think about the less fortunate who do not have an opportunity like me to use their coping mechanisms.

These individuals can be found on our streets, in abusive homes, at war, held hostage, kidnapped, held against their will, sexually trafficked and other places where their survival is the ultimate challenge. The holiday season for many of these individuals is unbearable.

There is a way to deal with the problem of troubling holiday loss and grief though. There is help and there are ways to pump yourself back up.

Take a moment to simply breathe. Be in the moment. Breathing relaxes you and slows down your heart rate. Taking things one second or moment at a time puts you in place to be able to deal adequately with the next moment. I believe that we would not exist without the breath and if we value it, we may be able to understand how it helps us. I used the YES course as a way to help me cope with stress and my overwhelming feelings. You can find these courses at The Art of Living Foundation teaches you how to find the inner peace you desperately search for through controlled breathing. I found my inner peace and I continue to enhance my life by breathing and meditating.

If you do not like meditating or breathing, talk to someone else about your issues or write about them privately. Sharing your feelings and issues will release you from feeling isolated. Bounce your feelings off someone you trust, you may find that you are not the only one to be suffering from the holiday 'blues'.

Remember, we all need each other to survive. Whether you are a victim, survivor, or know someone who is coping with loss reaching out this holiday season is a must. Save your life or save someone elses. I feel much better since I reached out to my support system.

I wish you all a happy holiday season.

Til next time...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Survivor Thoughts Under the Early Morning Stars


I know it has been some time since I last poured my heart out. Lately, I must admit that it has been difficult to write and travel at the same time. But, I woke up this morning with plenty to say. So, I invite you on this brief journey.

Over the course of the past month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I engaged in dialogue about all of the violence that I have experienced. Many people do not know, but that is pretty hard. Reliving, recanting and sharing my experience of watching my mother and brother die is, to say the least, moving for me inside. For a good portion of the past 25 years, I tried to ignore the fact that it happened. It really wasn't until I had to speak about this incident publicly that I started to truly break the cycle of violence and poverty in my own life. It made me totally accountable to myself and society. For most of my life I perpetuated the cycle of violence and poverty by being ignorant. I wasn't conscious of a lot of the harmful things I was doing. These things hurt me along the way and a lot has to be reversed so that recovery can take place and restoration can return what fairness, dignity and respect was lost. These are the things that victims go through. Today, I am a survivor, but does it hurt? Sure. Sometimes, in my head, I revisit the room where they were killed. It was a horrible sight.

When I explain it to people, I see that they are very jolted by the description of what happened in that room. I am surprised sometimes as to what kind of courage it takes to talk about it. Because, sometimes I feel it a bit deeper as I talk about it. The feelings start to rush back and I think about a ten year old suffering at the hands of a killer and a cycle that rips and guts out the victims. Let me tell you what that meant for me.

That day, I lost everything, I thought. My life as I knew it ended. Although I begged and pleaded for my life to this man who ended up confusing me terribly by being merciful, I was ripped apart. One of my mentees described that after seeing his mother dead, he was in a zone, a cloud, not here on earth. I guess that's how I felt. I felt like my world had collapsed. It's so strange. As I watched my mother get shot, I thought, I am going to die. I have to prepare myself for this. Maybe it will be quick, I thought. After my mother was shot, her body was limp and non-responsive. The pure and strong leader that used to give me motherly beatings, correct me when I was wrong, yell at me for not doing chores, and the one that I dreamed about taking care of when she got old, just fell right before me and was silent. How was I supposed to go on? Why would I even want to go on? The little kid in me only had less than a minute to answer those questions before the gun was at my head.

I know it's hard to actualize. I know it's hard to fathom. For me, it is difficult to imagine this happening to someone and for years I put it on a shelf. In addition to being destroyed that day by my brother and mother's death, I continued to destroy myself. As a ten, eleven and twelve year old I felt pretty bad, but I can say that I was quite resilient. I masked my anger, my sadness, my depression, my hate, my loss, my grief, my feelings and everything that bothered me. No one really knew what was boiling inside of me. I realize with each passing day how devastating an effect this had on me growing up. I realized how much I ignored it. Today, the devastation has manifested itself in my strained relationships with old friends, the way I conduct business, the way I tie my shoes (interesting, have to explain), the way I go to sleep at night and many other ways. What do I mean? These things were all being developed by my mother. She was teaching me and grooming me. That day, it just completely ended. No one would ever touch me the way she touched me again. It's like, the one person who wasn't afraid to hug you and did not judge you based on the way you looked, smelled, acted, etc. She just loved me unconditionally. That's what I felt. Looking back, I realize how devastating it has been. I am still trying to fully restore.

When I travel around the country and to different parts of the world to discuss this experience I often wonder if people are really listening and capturing the true devastation of an experience like the one that I experienced? I know that when I hear these stories and look at the news, my heart drops because I know how real it is. When a soldier dies, I get this feeling inside of me that anguishes for their families. When a child loses a loved one, I know how that feels. It is a feeling that no one wants to feel, but it is very distinct. You can't miss it. It sneaks up on you sometimes and it also takes over and doesn't allow you to feel anything else. It's something that you have to be patient with. In due time, it will subside and you will find yourself moving along. But, for some, and this is rare, do not get to move along. They either are lost in a world of their own. Some turn to drugs and alcohol and some simply give up and kill themselves. These things are all things that happen when there is this kind of devastation. And, I wonder if people really hear it and grasp it. It's hard to measure when the audience does not give you feedback or evaluations. Sometimes I am lucky though. I get opportunities to hear others' stories. That's when I know I had a chance to help restore a life.

So, this month, I have dedicated at least a week to continue to write my book. I will leave away to Boston, MA to finish what I started years ago. When I was fifteen or sixteen, I started writing my book in the dining room of my grandmother's house. I knew this was something that she could not possibly read when I started it, but I knew there would be a day when I could write about these things without fear that it was too much for her. She often exclaimed that she did not want me to talk about it in public. She did not want to be surprised on the news or anywhere else as it related to the death of her daughter. But, now is the time. 25 years later and I feel a sense of absolute relief. I have the support of my family, friends and the public to once again, put pen to paper or at least finger to key to complete this project. I will not say that it is long overdue, but I will say that it is right on time and waiting any longer is unacceptable.

This book is about getting my story out of me. It has held me back for so long and I need to air what has been going on inside of me. It will be an honor for others to read it and support it once it is written, but writing it will finally help me come to grips with everything that has transpired. I warn you, I am not sparing graphics. I want to finally tell what happened in its entirety. I want to disclose the deepest and darkest secrets that still haunt me today. They are tragic, they have been life-changing. For years, I have held on to abuse, pain, hurt, misery and isolation because I thought that many would not care about my experience or story. So, it is time to write. It is time to put these stories down and be honest about what has held me back through the years and what has propelled me forward.

I also find that this book will be a tool for so many out there who were ignorant like me. Of course, I still do not know everything, but I want to learn. I am open to the possibilities. There are some of our fellow human beings who are not in that position. I met them. I talked to them. I interact with them sometimes daily. They are ignorant of inspiration, motivation, determination -- hope. They are trying to find it everywhere and they find themselves fighting a losing battle. Well, I want to leave them with a gift. This book will explain my escape or should I say, release, from near death. It will explain how I almost was killed to how I wanted to kill myself to actually simply being self-destructive. It will journey tthrough my world of narcissism and guilt. You will journey to some places with me that will have you asking whether or not you should travel with me. It is going to be hard. It is hard to write. Just recently, about a month or so ago, I was rereading the first chapter and I had to stop. I put the book down and just caught the tears streaming down my face with the palms of my hands. I had to find anything that would catch the downpour of everything that summed me up that day. I thought about me being ten and having to watch my own mother and brother get shot in their faces. It was demeaning. It was demoralizing. And for one moment, I collapsed. It was simply devastating once again.

Hey, things may change, but we are human. We have emotions. I will never forget this. The killer made sure of that. I know he had intentions on killing me. But, in a human's soul when he or she is ruthless, is an area with compassion. I had to learn this. I had to find that compassion in me. After it happened, I was angry. I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. I lied about it in school. I did not want people to know that I lost my mom and brother that way. I saw parents picking their children up from school. I saw how loving mothers were and I could not express how much I wanted to feel that love too. It didn't help that I was totally sensitive. I could cry on the drop of a dime when my mother was alive. She could yell at me and I would melt. So, just imagine her getting killed in front of me. I not only cried for years, but today, I still cry. I still feel that pain, but I have tools now that help me to cope. I have tools that help me to get through these tough times. Part of the coping mechanism is to be productive. For instance, I got up and started to write this blog. That helped me this morning because I felt a little sad this morning. I felt that void that is there for my moms. I miss her.

I was asked by a student in Fitchburg High School in Fitchburg, MA, just outside of Boston, "Would you go back and change it if you had a chance?" I didn't want to say to the teen, "Yes." because I have accepted their deaths. I have come to terms with their deaths. I am proud to be coping, finally. I am happy standing up for myself now. I am happy about making a difference in someone else's life. I did not have any idea how much people were hurting. The hurt and pain from these tragedies are immense. Of course I would give anything to just touch my mom again. But, I know that is wishful thinking and I have to put it in perspective and move forward to live as if she was still here. I have to do the things that she pushed me to do. However, my answer was definitely YES as a lost teen and younger adult. That was when I lived in the past. I tried to stay in my childhood. I did't want to grow up. Now, I am excited about the next day. Things have changed. But, what about the other abuse? It was compiled. It was compounding.

Being violently raped at six taught me a huge lesson and many other memorable ones. The huge lesson was that if something happens to you and you feel uncomfortable and oppressed, say something to somebody and quick. I held my rape in until I was fourteen, but by then, I had already exploded. But, at thirteen, I ended up with a black eye and in a mental institution for my behaviour. I finally lost control and ended up fighting my great aunt because she hit me in my face for cursing. Luckily, I saw the Color Purple, the movie and I watched as Oprah's character stood up for herself. I hadn't stood up for myself. I had been opressed since my mother died. That's what I felt like. My childhood was riddled with abuse. It was so ingrained in me. I was so scared growing up. But, no one ever knew. However, as I mentioned, at fourteen I finally broke the silence. My grandmother was devastated. She could not hear the news. To me, I felt good dropping the bomb shell. I am so glad I did. It was a relief. I would go on to tell about the other sexual abuse too. That is being saved for the book though. You would be amazed and disgusted all at the same time. I am eager to tell you. Most importantly, I am eager to tell you what I did to continually destroy myself and then tell you how I turned things around.

I want to leave you with a few words of experience. Some people can be so heinous in their actions. I know, because I was once one of those people. I was so upset and angry with the man who killed my mother and brother that I wanted people like him to die or either rot in prison. I often thought about killing. I often thought of killing myself. I was able to work these things out in therapy. When the doctors told me that if I was a threat to myself or others they would keep me longer in the hospital. So, I had to work on my attitude. We have to break this cycle of violence by impressing upon each other the importance of peace and the gift of love. People have become hardened because things have been hard. Look at the conditions of this country. Look at how exploited all of our stories are and then the folks that exploit them hardly use the story to help others. This does not pertain to everyone, but there are those folks who will use you for their gain. I have to be careful everyday not to do this, but when there is a cycle of violence and poverty that permeates your culture and your training, it is difficult. So, simply telling your story by writing it out for yourself is the key. That's when you can own up to the truth about what holds you back, what moves you forward.

This is probably my longest post, but I felt the need to get these things out. I am not perfect, will never be and do not plan on being. I make mistakes today, have made them yesterday and will make them tomorrow. I look forward to some mistakes because they teach me good lessons on how not to repeat them. My heart was heavy this morning and now, I feel much better.

Thanks to my eleven followers. I remember when I had just one follower. Thanks for joining.

Let's work on restoration for those who have difficulty in restoring their own lives. Start with you. I will start with me.

Til next time...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kellibrew Addresses Mississippi Teens

Domestic violence survivors to address rural Mississippi teens

October 26, 2009 Lexington, Mississippi
Posted by:HelpMeetLLC1

CNN producer note
iReport —

ARISE, take charge and prevent domestic violence!

LEXINGTON, Miss. -- According to a Bureau of Justice Special Report: “Intimate Partner Violence,” 40 percent of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.

The ARISE (Assistance for Rural, Intervention, Strategies and Empowerment) Project is working hard to prevent such occurrences. In observance of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, ARISE will present a Domestic Violence/Abuse Prevention Forum, Tonight, Oct. 26, at 6 p.m., in the Community Students Learning Center building, 333 Yazoo Street, Lexington, Miss.

The program will feature William C. Kellibrew IV of the William Kellibrew Foundation, Washington, D.C., and Mississippi Author and Evangelist Voncele Savage of Canton, Miss. Although from different areas of the nation, both Kellibrew and Savage share a common bond: they survived the horrors of being victims of domestic violence and abuse!

Featured on national television, Kellibrew shared the horrific experience of seeing his mother fatally shot in the face and his 12-year-old brother shot in the head by his mother's ex-boyfriend. He was only 10 at the time, living in a poor, crime-ridden area near Washington, D.C.

A survivor of domestic violence, he uses his experiences to talk to teens and others throughout the country about domestic violence and to advocate for the protection of women and children. He is currently a political science student at Howard University, who plans to expand his outreach foundation. See his blog at

A St. Louis, Mo. native, Savage is a retired educator who has a deep passion for speaking out against domestic abuse and violence. She suffered 40 plus years of domestic abuse from a husband in the ministry. Through her personal campaign, she now testifies how God has broken her free from such bondage. She uses God’s word and her deliverance -- via writing and speaking -- to let others know that there is a way out. Her latest publication, “Looking thru the Fence: Diamonds in the Rough,” (ISBN: 978-0-9795628-1-5) is a spiritual guide, with highlights of the abuse she and her children suffered. Her other book is “A Letter to My Sisters: The way Out,” (ISBN: 978-0-9795628-0-8). Both will be available at the forum, or one may log on to

“We could not have asked for two better presenters to come and talk with our ARISE participants,” said ARISE Prevention Coordinator Lula Friar. “When we asked Mr. Kellibrew, he did not hesitate to fit us into is schedule. Evangelist Savage came highly recommended.

ARISE is all about prevention. We don’t want our young people to get tangled in a web of domestic violence and abuse.”A program of the Community Students Learning Center (CSLC), a 501 (c) 3 organization, ARISE implements middle school and high school violence prevention programs that - explore relationships, gender roles, coercion and control – help young men and women to have more responsible, healthy relationships in middle school, high school, college and into adulthood. This project is supported under 42 U.S.C. 13971 (OVW- Rural) Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.

CSLC Executive Director Beulah Greer said she hopes this forum opens the eyes of not only the youth but also adults as well, about how destructive domestic violence and abuse can become. “We want to increase awareness and seriously raise the conscientiousness of people to not let this monster literally destroy the family,” she said. “We hope the ARISE forum encourages other organizations, including churches, to put on seminars, forums and workshops to help educate us all on how to prevent domestic violence and abuse.”

For more information on tonight’s Domestic Violence/Abuse Prevention Forum and for more information on ARISE, contact Friar or Greer at (662) 834-0905.

To contact the featured presenters for future speaking engagements, call the William Kellibrew Foundation at (202) 271.7409 for William C. Kellibrew IV, and for Evangelist Voncele Savage, call “Help Meet,” LLC at (601) 613-0869 or fax (601) 924-0396.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, please get help immediately! Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233); TDD - 1-800-787-3224.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Letter to Fitchburg High School Students in Fitchburg, Massachussettes


I spoke at a high school two days ago and it changed my life forever. It was my first time speaking at a high school and I must admit I was very nervous. Speaking on domestic violence and my mother and brother's deaths in particular can be difficult, but I do it because hopefully it will inspire a student whose life either hangs on a life-line to hope or perhaps they need a boost of determination.

October 16, 2009

Dear Fitchburg Juniors and Seniors,

I read all 431 of your index cards. I must admit that while I was in tears, I was also full of joy. I was truly inspired by each card that you gave to me. It showed that you wanted to get rid of so much pain, sorrow, problems, issues, heartache and despair. I am glad that on that special day you decided to make a positive turn in your life. You did not have to write anything down, but you did. Today, I am glad to share your pain, your hopes and your dreams.

I will take these stories with me to Mississippi at the end of this month. As I told you, your stories will help me to prepare for the students in Mississippi who are facing similar problems you are facing. With your help, I will be able to help students help themselves by using their determination and hope to build upon their dreams. Thank you so much.

Some of you are going through the toughest times of your lives. You know that I am certainly with you. I have had those dark days of despair and absolute loss of hope. It is a life-long process and I am still going through the challenges of life. However, there is a huge difference now. I know how to channel my negative energy into positive energy. I surround myself with friends who care and will not lead me down the wrong path. I know that if I just hang on my hopes and dreams will be answered. As I told you, one of you, if not all of you will have your day in the spotlight. Folks will say, “That person went to Fitchburg High School, once counted out, but now they are successful.”

I encourage each one of you to reach out to a teacher, guidance counselor, coach, your principal and assistant principal. Find somebody you trust. They are there to lead you and guide you along the path of success. If you are having difficulty in school it is always best to let someone else know.

Remember, you are the captain of your future. You define who you are. You determine where you will be 5, 10 or 20 years from now. Think about your future and where you would like to be. You can do anything. I believe that “success is living it”. Whatever you want to be in the future, you have to practice that right now.

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That means that you have to start with you if there is going to be change. Once that happens, you will see the world change right before your eyes.

I really enjoyed my time with you at Fitchburg and I promise that I will never forget you. You changed my life. I tell everyone about you, the great questions you asked and the amazing stories you gave me.

If you wish to follow my BlogSpot, you may find me at I try to blog weekly. I wish you all success and joy as you travel the road of life.


William Kellibrew IV

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Peace Prize Awakens a President - A Recommitment to Peace


I haven't put the president's speeches on this blog before, but this one is special. President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize today and I am elated that he won. I like his attitude and I think that he is doing everything he can to protect our freedom and at the same time ensure that peace is prevalent across the world. Peace is special to me. It is my passion and hope for the world. Enjoy the president's speech.


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 9, 2009


Rose Garden

11:16 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, "Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!" And then Sasha added, "Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up." So it's good to have kids to keep things in perspective.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build -- a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.

These challenges can't be met by any one leader or any one nation. And that's why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek. We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. And that's why we've begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children -- sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities. And that's why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.

We can't allow the differences between peoples to define the way that we see one another, and that's why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.

We can't accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for -- the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won't have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.

And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today. I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies. I'm also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people.

Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration -- it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world.

And that's why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity -- for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace.

That has always been the cause of America. That's why the world has always looked to America. And that's why I believe America will continue to lead.

Thank you very much.

END 11:22 A.M. EDT

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Edwards' Resolution Honoring the Lives of Homicide Victims Passes the House

Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards’
Resolution Honoring the Lives of Homicide Victims Passes in the House of Representatives



September 30, 2009

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives passed a resolution introduced by Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), and cosponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), supporting the goals and ideals of a National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims, which was commemorated on September 25, 2009. In recognizing all homicide victims and their families, Rep. Edwards wanted to bring particular attention to the unacceptable number of victims of intimate partner violence.

“We are witnessing an epidemic of homicide in this country and it must be addressed,” said Rep. Edwards. “The goals of this resolution are to honor the lives of all homicide victims, including those who died as a result of intimate partner violence. I thank my colleague and dear friend, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), to make this a bipartisan resolution, and hope that it will raise awareness about how serious and widespread the issues of homicide and domestic violence are in America.”

At least forty-eight Maryland women and children lost their lives as a result of intimate partner homicide in one year from July, 2007 to June, 2008. Nationally, three women per day are murdered by their former or current husbands and partners, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1976 to 2005, approximately 64.8% of all female homicide victims during that time were murdered by an intimate partner. Intimate partner homicide remains the second leading cause of traumatic death for pregnant women in America.

“Congresswoman Edwards is an unwavering voice for the victims of intimate partner violence,” said Sue Else, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “We join her in honoring and remembering so many who lost their lives to a spouse or partner. We commend Congresswomen Edwards for continuing to shed light on the pervasiveness and severity of domestic violence in America.”

Brandon Wallace, CEO and Executive Director of the William Kellibrew Foundation added, “William Kellibrew stood helplessly at the age of 10 as he watched his mother and brother gunned down by her estranged boyfriend before looking down the barrel of the gun himself. Intimate partner homicide cannot continue to rip families apart. We must support the legislation being introduced by Congresswoman Edwards and Congressman Poe to prevent further loss of innocent lives.”

The following organizations endorse the resolution: Legal Momentum, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the National Partnership for Women and Families, the William Kellibrew Foundation, and the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV).


Friday, September 18, 2009

Survivor Connecting with a Victim Turned Survivor

Wow, that's all I have to say tonight.

Hello friends,

It has been an interesting day. It was long, but productive. First, I spent the day with one of my mentees, a twelve year old, who was a witness to his mother's death. I got a chance to see the resilience in him. I got a chance to witness what it must have been like for me at his age when I lost my mom and brother to domestic violence.

He is smart and very aware of what happened on that horrible day when he lost him mom to point blank range shots from a former boyfriend. He understands that it was an absolutely bad thing to go through and he recognizes that it is from jealousy. But, really? Is it just jealousy? Children are more astute than we think they are. He is connecting this jealousy to his mom's death in which I agree. But, there is something more horrible than that at hand. His mom's killer did not value human life at all for that moment in time. More importantly, he did not value himself.

A great deal of caring about others' lives is caring about your own life. My mom's killer had been in prison for over ten years for murder and when he was released he met my mother. He fell back into his same patterns of abuse toward women and tried to control my mother. He was not happy with himself at all. Taking my mom and brother's life was truly him hating himself.

I knew when I heard my mentee's story, I had a lot of work to do. I had to prepare to sacrifice my time, energy and effort to help him back to recovery. I also mentor his 19 year old brother. They both are suffering from a tremendous loss. Now, they grapple with the murder, but they have so much resolve. I am proud of them today. By taking a stand to live life in a decent way, they are standing up against this violence. I could not help but be a resource to them. That's why I am helping them to develop their passion.

I challenge you today to reach out to somebody. Encourage them. Show them that there are alternatives to negative behaviour and that there is love in all of us. Some person out there is begging for help without saying a word. Words escape them because they have lost all hope. I know. I have been there. Reach out. Put your hand out there for them to grab. It makes all the difference in the world.

Today, I saw my young mentee as a survivor. He once was controlled by his killer and now he is defining himself.

Keep up the good work my friend. I share your pain and I share your tragedy. Today, I share your hope.

Til next time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Innocence Torn Away: In Search of a Child Molester after 30 Years

Dear Friends...

As I looked at the news and saw a 29 year old Jaycee Lee Dugard rescued I could not help but share her pain. 1991, Jaycee was kidnapped at 11 years old and held captive until 29 years old. She was repetitively raped and had two children by her captor. Her family was devastated and I can only imagine what poor Jaycee was going through being pulled from everything she knew. While her story shocks me and has brought me to tears since her story aired, Jaycee's story has inspired me with vigor and determination to save children and to deal with my own situation.

When I was six years old, I was violently raped and molested by my mom's friend and neighbor. We lived in a complex named Dodge View in Landover, Maryland. I felt hopeless all of these years, but today, I feel that he should be found and stopped from ever doing this again.

Today starts my search for this man who ripped through my soul and innocence at six. I was damaged for life. "Jose" was a good friend of my mom's and befriended me. He offered to fix my bicycle and instead of first fixing my bike, he pulled down my clothes, rubbed lotion all over my body and raped me at six. I never told my mother before she died. When she died I was ten. So, whatever hope of finding him and bringing him to justice was out of the question at that time. This hopelessness has stuck with me for an eternity, until today.

I am going to work to locate him and work to make sure that he can not harm another child. I can only imagine how many other children feel prey to his coercion and manipulation in order to rip their souls away.

Where do I start? Well, I am going to start with the Prince George's County Police Department. I have contacted the Deputy Chief of Police for another reason, but I am going to add this conversation in the mix. Next, I am going to search for information on the apartment complex back then, ask for their records and try to locate this man. I have so many things to say to him.

Whether he is prosecuted or convicted, my only solace comes in him knowing how he damaged me and how he took my innocence from me and to know I just might be able to save another child.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I bled and bled that day. My dad never knew, my mom never knew and my brothers and sister never knew. I revealed this at 14. By that time, as I mentioned, mom was dead. So, I was devastated during my teenage years having to deal with this nearly alone.

If you are out there and you feel like I do; stand up for yourself. Let's put people like this where they belong. There are many children who do not speak up. We have to break the silence and bring criminals like this to justice.

Let's take a look at some statistics on child molesters. You will find this troubling, but today I have more resolve than ever. Somewhere in a small corner, a backyard, compound, dark closet, hut, dwelling, is a small child suffering a terrible fate. My heart is heavy for them and my determination has taken over.

Child Molester Statistics

This excerpt is taken from, Yello Dyno, Protecting Children From Child Molestors

"The serial killer has the same personality characteristics as the sex offender against children"-Dr. Mace Knapp, Nevada State Prison Psychologist.• "There are 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and an estimated 80 to 100,000 of them are missing. They're supposed to be registered, but we don't know where they are and we don't know where they're living.- Ernie Allen, President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to co-anchor Hannah Storm on The Early Show

• The most serious and chronic offenders often show signs of antisocial behavior as early as the preschool years.- (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) (was in Juvenile Justice Bulletin: Nov 1998 OJJDP: U.S. Department of Justice)• Dr. Gene Abel estimates that between 1% and 5% of our population molest children -CNN Specials Transcript #454-Thieves of Childhood.

• Nearly all the offenders in sexual assaults reported to law enforcement were male (96%).- Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement, 7/00, NCJ 182990, U.S. Department of Justice

• Overall, 23% of sexual assault offenders were under 18 and 77% were adults - Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement,7/00, NCJ 182990, U.S. Department of Justice

• 40% of the offenders of victims under age 6 were themselves juveniles. A similar proportion (39%) of offenders of victims ages 6 through 11 were also juveniles. For older juvenile victims, the proportion of juvenile offenders dropped to 27%.- Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement,7/00, NCJ 182990, U.S. Department of Justice

•Adults were the offender in 60% of the sexual assaults of youth under age 12. Rarely were the offenders of young victims strangers. Strangers were the offender in just 3% of sexual assaults against victims under age 6 and 5% of the sexual assault of victimization of youth ages 6 through 11.-Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement,7/00, NCJ 182990, U.S. Department of Justice

• 1 in 5 violent offenders serving time in a state prison reported having victimized a child.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• 2/3 of all prisoners convicted of rape or sexual assault had committed their crime against a child.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• Acquaintance perpetrators are the most common abusers, constituting approximately 70-90% of all reported perpetrators.-Finkelhor, D. 1994.

• 89% of child sexual assault cases involve persons known to the child, such as a caretaker or family acquaintance.-Diana Russell Survey, 1978

• 29% of child sexual abuse offenders are relatives, 60% are acquaintances, and only 11% are strangers.-Diana Russell, The Secret Trauma, NY:Basic Books, 1986.

• For the vast majority of child victimizers in State prison, the victim was someone they knew before the crime. 1/3 had committed their crime against their own child, about 1/2 had a relationship with the victim as a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring, about 1 in 7 reported the victim to have been a stranger to them.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• 3/4 of the violent victimizations of children took place in either the victim's home or the offenders home.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• Males are reported to be the abusers in 80-95% of cases-Thoringer, D., et al., 1988.

• About 60% of the male survivors sampled report at least one of their perpetrators to be female.-Mendel, 1993.

• All but 3% of offenders who committed violent crimes against children were male.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

•The typical offender is male, begins molesting by age 15, engages in a variety of deviant behavior, and molests an average of 117 youngsters, most of whom do not report the offense.-Dr. Gene Abel in a National Institute of Mental Health Study.

• Offenders who had victimized a child were on average 5 years older than the violent offenders who had committed their crimes against adults. Nearly 25% of child victimizers were age 40 or older, but about 10% of the inmates with adult victims fell in that range.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• 71% of male offenders are under the age of 35.-Dr. Ann Burges, Dr. Nicholas Groth, et al. in a study of imprisoned offenders.

• 3/4 of sexual predators are younger than 35. About 80% are of normal intelligence or above.-Profiles from the FBI Academy and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

• Though officially, not considered abuse, the highest incidence of incest occurs among siblings.-Waterman & Lusk, 1986.

• Many clinical settings currently are witnessing a dramatic increase in the number of adolescent offenders who have committed sexually aggressive acts against other children.-Conte, Jon R., 1986.

• While nearly 70% of those serving time for violent crimes against children were white, whites accounted for 40% of those imprisoned for violent crimes against adults.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• Inmates who victimized children were less likely than other inmates to have a prior criminal record-nearly 1/3 of child victimizers had never been arrested prior to the current offense, compared to less than 20% of those who victimized adults.--BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• Violent child victimizers were substantially more likely than those with adult victims to have been physically or sexually abused when they were children..-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• 50% of reported child molestations involve the use of physical force and child molesters produce as much visible physical injury as rapists-39% of victims.-Dr. Gene Abel in a National Institute of Mental Health Study.

• About 14% of child victimizers carried a weapon during the violent crime, compared to nearly 1/2 of those who victimized adults.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• About 10% of violent offenders with child victims received life or death sentences and the average prison term was 11 years, somewhat shorter average sentences than received by those with adult victims.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• More than 1/2 of all convicted sex offenders are sent back to prison within a year. Within 2 years, 77.9% are back.-California Department of Corrections.

• Recidivism rates range from 18-45%. The more violent the crime the more likelihood of repeating.-Studies by the state of Washington.

• 3 in 10 child victimizers reported that they had committed their crimes against multiple victims: they were more likely than those who victimized adults to have had multiple victims.-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.

• Like rape, child molestation is one of the most under reported crimes: only 1-10% are ever disclosed.-FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.

• The behavior is highly repetitive, to the point of compulsion, rather than resulting from a lack of judgment.-Dr. Ann Burges, Dr. Nicholas Groth, et al. in a study of imprisoned offenders

These statistics are horrible and show that there has to be more education in our homes, schools and community. Keep you eyes and ears to the ground. Check your children out. Ensure that you have great communication between you and your children. Let's save a life.

Til next time...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Resilience: What does it look like?

Hello Readers...

Today, I received a phone call from a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquire Daily News in Pennsylvania. She told me about a murder in Pennsylvania. A woman was murdered by her ex boyfriend while her children watched.

I was simply mortified when I received the news. I told her that my heart goes out to the victims, especially the children who watched. I prayed for their safety.

I was walking my mentee to the bus stop in order for him to get home when I heard the news. He too like these children lost his mom to domestic violence. His mother was murdered just two weeks ago as his twelve year-old brother watched. He survived a near strangulation by the killer and was able to get to the neighbors for help.

The reporter asked me what are the children feeling and going through right now. I told her the children's lives have been ripped from them. These children are terrified and absolutely lost and confused. There are no words to describe what happened today. There are no comforting feelings. It is a frightening world right now.

But like me, I too was lost. I had the same feelings losing my mother and brother. Although I was happy to be alive I felt like I was made to part with her and my brother. I left my childhood right there in the room where my mother and brother died right before my eyes. It was a massacre.

What I teach my new mentees is that there is a better day ahead for them. I teach them to cope, I show them love and patience and I validate their experience and feelings. I care. I understand how difficult this could be for them. If they were anything like me, they are devastated and empty and quite worthless. I have been there.

I have been to a place so far I did not think I was going to get a chance to ever come back. I made it this far though. I held on to a little hope. Somebody reached out to me. My grandmother saved us. She saved my brothers, sister and me.

These children need immediate help and stability. They are unstable and need comforting, but many children feel like they have been separated from security. I was too. I only had the clothes on my back when I was allowed to leave that house. It was terrifying.

Our struggles go on and our souls continue to fight. This world is full of violence and it doesn't seem like there is relief in sight. It may look like it makes no sense, but what does make sense is having those around you who love you and help to give you hope. That makes sense. These young men pressing on with their lives makes sense.

To my mentees and to all of the wonderful team players who work on behalf of victims...thank you.

That's what resilience looks like. Despair answered by hope is the answer.

Til next time...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tribute to Michael Jackson

My friends,

I must be very honest about the influence Michael Jackson had on my life and my art.  Growing up, I listened and danced to MJ's songs and videos anytime I heard it.  My mother would encourage me to get in front of all the family and perform.  Before then, I did not have any idea that I could sing.  At least I cannot remember.  Michael will be forever missed by me and countless friends I know.  Many may believe that his legacy is mixed, but Michael was only convicted of being a true humanitarian.  It is unfortunate that he had to travel down such a hurtful and difficult road, but he made it through to receive such a fitting tribute today by his family, friends and fans.

I was quite mixed during his trial and previous allegations of child molestation, but who am I to judge?  I thought long and hard about it and I settled on the fact that Michael was never convicted of these allegations and after all, who would want to subject themselves to an embarrassing trial?  I respect Michael and his contribution to this world truly deserves more than what we gave him.  We all live in glass houses and when we least expect it, we are constantly put on trial ourselves.  What do we expect from others when that happens?  A little mercy and understanding goes a long way.

My prayers go out to his children, family and countless people who knew and loved him.  I wish only the best for Michael's soul as it travels to endless places such as that great place we all can only contemplate -- a heaven.  

R.I.P. Michael.  Many blessings.  Thank you for your contribution.

Til next time...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Two Young Men Survive Through the Ultimate Tragedy


I had a moving conversation with a family today that had me in absolute tears.  My heart is so heavy having connected to this family.

The story...

Two young men, 15 and 17, awakened to the sound of a phone ringing, a mobile phone that they shared that their mother had provided for them.  They missed the phone call and had to listen to the voicemail.  What they heard would be the most tragic thing they ever heard in their lives.

Their father left a message telling them that he had killed their mother and that he was going to kill himself.  He wished them a good life, then killing himself.  

The children confirmed the death of their mother from their visit to the murder site.  It was devastating.

Today, they were able to tell me their story over the phone.  I listened as they told me the difficult story of their mother's death.  I told them my story.  Their uncle listening intently, all the while, giving all of us support.

I was so inspired by their resilience today.  They were so strong to discuss the murder today.  

I simply wanted to reach out my hand and give them so much support for their loss.  If people who murdered only knew how much they were impacting others' lives, they would not kill.

These young men are scarred for life.  But, I told them that together we will get through this. 

Not to mention, their uncle and aunt also lost a son.  He was also killed.  

There is so much work to do.  It starts now.  I encourage you to be strong out there and make sure that you have a plan for leaving your relationship.  Safety is the key.  Both my mother and these young men's mother did not have the proper tools in order to make a decision to leave.  

For a safety plan, go to  Mildred Muhammed has a book that you can buy that has a plan in it.  I am developing my own book and safety plan as well.  It is imperative that we provide others with tools to strengthen and rebuild their lives.

Thanks for your energy and time.

Til next time...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What I Am Up To -- Changing the World By Changing Me

It's been a while since I blogged and it's been quite busy for me lately. There are so many opportunties and events to attend. Working diligently on behalf of several causes is exciting. There was one time in my life when I could not even see straight. I could not envision my life taking shape and being positive. So, I am grateful for this day. This is a day when I can rejoice and be glad that I have an opportunity for another chance to make a difference in life. Have you made that choice? What is your choice today? Are you in a dilemma that precludes you from making a positive choice in life? Well, it is time to make a decision to be strong, have courage to reach deep inside of you -- pulling that survival instinct out and going for it. And, that's what I have been doing lately. I am involved in many positive projects and I value my work. I know that it is tough, but we must reach out for help if we feel stressed and motivate ourselves.

Next week, I address a room full of practitioners and professionals in the area of victims assistance. Over 500 folks will be listening to me tell my story of tragedy. They will listen to what happened and what did I do to turn things around. What tools did I use? Who helped me? I am excited about giving this group tools that they can use in order to help rebuild lives in their communities and on their jobs. That's what life is all about. Being there for others is key.

Thanks to the National Center for Victims of Crime and to the Office for Victims of Crime within the Department of Justice, Justice Programs for allowing me to be a small part of the effort to educate and learn from professionals for the benefit of victims who are suffering as we speak.

Til next time...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Violence in Chicago finds a Another Combatant

Hello Readers...

Last evening I addressed an amazing group of people for a great cause. Alderman/Committeeman Sandi Jackson and 7th Ward Independent Political Organization hosted a benefit to Stop the Violence. The program was held at The Park At Fourteenth on 14th Street, N.W., downtown D.C.

Anwan "Big G" Glover of HBO's The Wire, began the program with a welcome and introduction of Bonita Parker, Chief of Staff for Alderman Sandi Jackson. Following was a blissful and beautiful rendition of Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing by Jessica Gabrielle Chambliss.

Then, I spoke. My message was rooted in bringing attention to violence and the impact that violence has on victims and survivors. I asked those in attendance to ensure that they reached out to those in need.

Kouri Marshall, A. Scott Bolden, Ronald Moten and Jauhar Abraham all made touching and heartfelt speeches. Peaceoholics, Moten and Abraham acknowledged graduates who were once a part of their program to engage and educate youth.

Alderman Jackson made a riveting speech. She held everyone accountable to being involved in the community and making a difference.

Lastly, Rachel Crouch and Charles Jean-Pierre presented paitings to Alderman Jackson.

The event turned out to be a great event to benefit victims of violence in Chicago.

Let's continue to be vigilant in our efforts to end violence in our communities. It takes us working together and taking responsibility for our community in order to make a difference.

Til next time...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Praises for a Young Activist - Ronnie Mosley (Chicago)

Good day Readers:

I just read a story about a young man who is making a difference in Chicago. He is 17 year Ronnie Mosley who lives in Chicago. Ronnie lost his best friend to gun violence two years ago and has been an advocate against gun violence ever since. I am truly inspired by his fight and applaud his efforts to rally his colleagues in school and in the community to stop accepting violence in his community.

This is what eliminating violence is all about. It is within us to combat this conundrum. We have to support and develop comprehensive strategies and ways to deal with violence instead of relegating it to the authorities. We must work together as a community to bring attention and awareness to the issue. Only then will we be able to own up to our responsibilitiy of protecting our community.

We need more Ronnie Mosleys to speak out and express dismay with our fellow citizens. We will not and cannot accept the violence.

I simply had to say what was on my mind tonight. I felt compelled to make a statement supporting Ronnie and what he is doing in Chicago.

Additionally, I wanted to make everyone aware that I am speaking on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. Alderman Sandy Jackson's event in Washington, D.C. The event is at 1301 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Alderman Jackson will be addressing the violence in our community and communities throughout the country.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

National Crime Victims' Rights Week

Each April since 1981, the Office of Victims of Services (OVS) has helped lead communities throughout the country in their observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). Rallies, candlelight vigils, and a host of commemorative activities are held each year to promote victims' rights and to honor crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf (please view last year’s video).

National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 19-24, 2008. Justice for Victims. Justice for All.

This year, Kenny Barnes, Sr. has been nominated by the United States Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime - to receive the National Service Award for work being done on behalf of victims of crime.

Kenny wishes to extend an invitation to you, family, friends, or if you know of anyone who has been victimized by crime to participate in the events during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and to be sure and attend the Awards Ceremony.

National Observance & Candlelight Ceremony
Thursday April 23rd 6:30pm - 7:30pm
The US Chamber of Commerce
1615 H Street, NWWashington, DC

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Awards Ceremony
Friday April 24th 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium1301 Constitution Avenue, NWWashington, DC
A number of my friends have decided to hold a reception after the Awards Ceremony this Friday on the rooftop of The Ellington, with its beautiful view overlooking the city. From my understanding there will be Middle Eastern Cuisine, beverages, entertainment, and hosted by a very special friend from Hollywood California - Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, The Apprentice and now the Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump - Omarosa Official Website – and assisted by the Lady Angels Marketing Team - Welcome to - Home of the Lady Angels Marketing Team!

Please join us and help in our efforts to continue our campaign to reduce violence and gun violence during these difficult economic times.

The Steering Committee is chaired by Ms. Guileine F. Kraft, a Doctoral Candidate at The National Catholic School of Social Service of The Catholic University of America and the invitation is attached for your review and RSVP.
For more information or to contribute contact Guileine Kraft at
Til next time...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mildred Muhammad hosts Support Group for Victims

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy Happy Everything.

I have a wonderful and special message from my friend Mildred Muhammad, the ex-wife of the convicted sniper, John Allen Muhammad.

Please pass along...

After The Trauma will begin a support group for victims and survivors of domestic violence, beginning April 18, 2009. The support group will be held from 2:00pm ~ 4:00pm at 5625 Allentown Road, Suite 200, Camp Springs, MD 20746. Light refreshments will be served.

The phone number has changed as well. The office number is 240-695-5911 and the fax number is 240-965-1887. Please make a note of it.

Thank you for your support...


Mildred D. Muhammad
Executive Director,
After The Trauma, Inc.

Til next time...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

U.S. Massacres Concerns Violence Survivors

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Wallace 202.271.7409
April 4, 2009

Motley Management LLC.
Make Moves, Make Memories, Make a Difference.


The William Kellibrew Foundation and ROOT Inc. (Reaching Out to Others Together), on behalf of all victims of crime nation-wide, would like to send condolences to the people of Binghamton, New York and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The gruesome killing of thirteen innocent victims and critical wounding of four others in this New York center where immigrants were taking their U.S. citizenship examinations is incomprehensible. The brutal murder of immigrants beholden to the idea of living the American dream and actively participating to the fullest in that journey makes plain the notion that no one is immune to violence. The fatal shootings of three Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania police officers in the line of duty on a domestic violence call is tragic.

William Kellibrew IV, National Coordinator for Black Youth Vote for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation said, “These senseless acts of violence take a toll on our community, but with resolve, we can work to ensure that victims receive adequate attention to get through these tough times.”

Kenneth E. Barnes, Sr., MS, founder and CEO of ROOT Inc, an organization committed to helping communities take a proactive approach to reducing gun violence, stated, "Deplorable assaults on our safety are taking place far too often in America. We must work steadfastly to ensure the eventual cessation of these preventable, unspeakable crimes."

These are immensely challenging atrocities having overwhelming ramifications that resonate through devastated communities. Violence can occur in homes, businesses, civic associations and even religious institutions. In just three weeks, violent episodes amplified by gun usage in Alabama, North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania have left
34 people dead and the lives of many others traumatically altered forever.

A stronger more steadfast commitment to the prevention of crime through parole regulations, offender rehabilitation and violence prevention education is critical to bringing an end to the senseless violence that plagues all Americans and citizens around the world. We stand in unity and in full support of the people of Binghamton, New York and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but specifically for the family members who lost loved ones in these horrific tragedies.
# # #

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mother and Two Sons Die at the Hands of Boyfriend

Fenty Calls for More Vigilance at Funeral of Woman, Two Sons

Community Honors Peters' Memory at Funeral

More than 1,000 people gathered at the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church for the funeral for Erika Peters and her two sons on Wednesday.

By Hamil R. HarrisWashington Post Staff Writer Thursday, April 2, 2009; Page B04

More than 1,000 people paid their respects yesterday to a District mother and her two sons, whose violent deaths last month have sparked a renewed focus by city officials and residents on domestic violence.Mayor Adrian M. Fenty was among those who filed past the caskets at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church that held the bodies of Erika Peters, 37, and her sons Erik Harper, 11, and Dakota Peters, 10.

D.C. police have charged Peters's boyfriend, Joseph R. Mays, in the slayings, which occurred March 21.

"It doesn't get any more tragic than this," said Fenty (D). "The investigation is ongoing, but there is really a need for more education and more involvement regarding the issue of domestic violence on the police level, the social service level and the community level."

The deaths have brought more scrutiny to the D.C. Office of Child and Family Services, which had been contacted about the family by relatives who reported that Mays, 44, had been abusing Peters and the children.

D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles said that Erika Peters "didn't fall between the cracks."
"We received the hotline call in the fall of 2006, and Children and Family Services performed services and put the family in contact with a Medicaid provider for mental health counseling. The case file was closed in 2007 because the family seemed to establish some stability."

"Fenty Calls for More Vigilance at Funeral of Woman, Two Sons";digg_bodytext="More than 1,000 people paid their respects yesterday to a District mother and her two sons, whose violent deaths last month have sparked a renewed focus by city officials and residents on domestic violence."

At the funeral, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and other speakers reflected on the life of a woman who became the city's youth mayor as a high school student, a leader in the deaf community and a dancer who went from New York's Apollo Theater to an inaugural event for President Obama. Peters's sons were remembered by their football coaches and teachers.

"I feel personally that my boy Dakota was ready," a nun from Holy Redeemer Catholic School said during the service. She said that the day before he died, Dakota delivered a report on the book of Genesis. Upon completion, he said, "Now are there any questions?"
Thomas said of Peters, "She was the youth mayor that I worked for."

Norton said, "We need to keep on giving to this family."

Manyka Gaither, whose sister was killed in November, attended the service. Her sister's estranged boyfriend is suspected in the death.
"It is so tragic to keep going through this," Gaither said.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Violence Rips Through North Carolina and Massachusetts

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Wallace 202.271.7409
March 31, 2009

Motley Management LLC.
Make Moves, Make Memories, Make a Difference.


The William Kellibrew Foundation and ROOT Inc. (Reaching Out to Others Together), on behalf of all victims of crime nation-wide, would like to send condolences to the people of Carthage, North Carolina and Milton, Massachusetts.

The gruesome killing of eight innocent victims in this North Carolina nursing home is incomprehensible. The brutal murder of a five-year-old child and a seventeen-year-old makes plain the notion that no one is immune to violence.

William Kellibrew IV, National Coordinator for Black Youth Vote for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation said, “These senseless acts of violence take a toll on our community, but with resolve, we can work to ensure that victims receive adequate attention to get through these tough times.”

Kenneth E. Barnes, Sr., MS, founder and CEO of ROOT Inc, an organization
committed to helping communities take a proactive approach to reducing gun
violence, stated, "Deplorable assaults on our safety are taking place far too often in America. We must work steadfastly to ensure the eventual cessation of these preventable, unspeakable crimes."

These are immensely challenging atrocities having overwhelming ramifications that will resonate through devastated communities. Violence can occur in homes, businesses and even religious institutions.

A stronger more steadfast commitment to the prevention of crime through parole regulations, offender rehabilitation and violence prevention education is critical to bringing an end to the senseless violence that plagues all Americans and citizens around the world. We stand in unity and in full support of the people of Carthage and Milton; but specifically for the family members who lost loved ones in Carthage and the grieving family that will bury three of its closest members in Milton.
# # #

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Young Boy's Pain and How to Cope

I spoke to my nephew last night. He is going through a tough time. Over the past weekend one of his friends, a ten year old boy, was stabbed to death by his stepfather. Not only did the stepfather kill the ten year old, he stabbed his brother and his mother. In fact, the mother still had a piece of the blade from the knife lodged in her head.

So, the reason I am blogging about this is 1) that my nephew was a friend of the ten year old and spent the night at his house a week before his death, 2) to air my concern for my nephew and others who are dealing with this tragedy - to express my condolences, and 3) talk about coping.

1) It seems like tragedy is around the corner for my family. We deal with tragedy quite frequently. There is never a dull moment in my life as it relates to dealing with tragic circumstances and friends and family who suffer from violent acts. My nephew is facing his third tragedy in his life. The first was his father going to prison. Although he was young at the time, he still has some memory of his father and now that his father is out of prison they are building a relationship. The problem is that there was another male role model who replaced his father and that was my sister's husband. The two share a wonderful relationship, but my sister is now divorced and that also played a heavy role in my nephews sorrow and every day life.

Secondly, my Godsister and his play Aunt, Tiffany Gates, was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend who illegally walked away from a halfway house. He stabbed her nearly 50 times and ended her life. This was a devastating blow to my nephew and everyone around us. I saw that he was intuitive and wanted to know why it happened and where was she after she died. My sister did an awesome job in explaining where Tiffany was. She mentioned that Tiffany is not suffering and that she is in a better place away from hurt harm and danger. The children seemed to understand that death is a part of life and sometimes tragic things happen, but we have to cope with them as a team.

Lastly, my nephew suffers from this tragic circumstance. When I spoke with him I asked him did he know what happend. He told me the story and was pretty graphic about what he knew. He also mentioned that he played football with him recently. I acknowledged his pain and asked how was he coping and was he really sad. He said that he was sad and cried earlier. However, he mentioned that he also prayed. "Who did you pray for?" I asked. He said, "I prayed for his grandmother and his family." I told him that I thought that was really nice of him to do. It was a pretty honorable thing to wish the best for his family. I also told him that I would attend the funeral with him and that if he needed anything to make sure that he gave me a call.

I remember when I was ten and watching my mother and brother die at the hands of her killer. I thought I was a pretty bright boy, but nothing had prepared me for what I saw. It affected me for the rest of my life. Sometimes it wrapped me up like a sandwich and would not let me go. I felt despair and unspeakable pain at times - trying to cope with the loss.

Just recently, I cried about the situation. Some of the questions came into my mind. Why did this have to happen? What can I do to continue to cope? And, above all. Through these difficult times, I simply missed my mom. You see, my mother was a bedrock in my life. I was a momma's boy. I wanted to go everywhere with her at ten. I was heavily attached to her hip. And, to lose her so tragically was devastating to say the least. So, just a week ago, I took some time out to cry about it. Now, what triggered it? I was going through other problems that crowd my daily life and I reflected for a moment. What would my mother say? How would she help me cope? When those answers could not come, I cried. I was hopeful and optimistic about the future, but I was still sad.

You know, these times are going to come. They are going to enter our lives when we least expect it. I think and feel that it is okay to cry about it. It is okay to deal with it. That made me stronger that day. I am stronger today because I dealt with it and did not hide or suppress it. When I was ten, I suppressed it until I was thirteen years of age. That's when I wanted to commit suicide.

But, my, how far we have come. I am tougher and probably more sensitive than I have ever been. Coping with tragedies, I found, is a part of life for me. I am getting better and better at it. It sounds kind of crazy though. But, I have accepted that tragedy can and will happen. We must be armed with the coping tools to deal with them. So, these are some things to think about.

1) Talk about it. Get whatever you feel out in the open. Find someone you trust and talk about what happened. Find someone who will listen to your entire story from beginning to end no matter how long it takes. Getting the whole story out is crucial and imperative for your success in coping. I found that holding it in just left me feeling more empty, confused and actually lowered my self-esteem. Eventually, I lost my strength to deal with it on my own and the only avenue I had was to want to die. Luckily, I had some people in my life at the time I trusted, like my junior high school principal, Mr. Charles C. Christian. Thank God for him.

2) Find recreation. Find some time for you to do what your passion or hobby is. I like tennis and travelling. When I do these things, my mind is free from the pressure of coping with tragedy. Besides, when the tennis ball is coming my way, I do not have time to be thinking about anything else unless I want to feel the pain of a ball in my eye.

3) Consider professional therapy. That really helped me. It made me realise that there are things that I am doing that I do not understand. I was hurting myself with my behaviour. I was not treating myself properly and with respect. I had to learn how to respect myself and then respect others in the process. But, that came with time and great therapy sessions. Now, it took me years before I found the right therapist, but when I did, I was happy about attending the sessions.

4) Volunteer. I have become a huge advocate for those affected by tragedy. I do not try to act like a therapist. I leave that job up to the pros. But, I do listen. I support. I encourage. And, most of all. I love. I love to give my time and energy to help those who sometimes do not have a clue that they need the help. It's about giving and not looking to receive. So I sacrifice.

Thanks for reading this far. I had a few things on my mind this morning. There is so much tragedy in our communities it is hard to cope. I wanted to take time this morning to address the issue. I know it is hard, but let's push for more understanding and acceptance for no understanding at all.

Til next time...

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Call to Decision -- Can You Help?

Good evening folks. It's been some time since I checked in. So many things have been going on. I feel like my world is moving fast and I cannot stop it. As I mentioned, there are so many things that are happening. So, let's get some things out in the open. I think that is the only way that I am going to sensibly deal with what is going on.

First, I am in the battle of my life with this proposal that Dr. Sessoms and the Board of Trustees is proposing. If you are not aware, my university, the University of the District of Columbia is undergoing a tuition increase battle, an attack on open admissions or admissions standards and the erection of a community college. Students are very upset about the proposed changes and I actually started a petition outlining my discourse with the proposal. This moved to facebook and then to the campus for a rally. The group was named Operation Save UDC. I decided on the name and a student named, Joshua Lopez, joined the effort as a beginning copartner. The group quickly grew in numbers and in support. We were able to move the administration to 100% over two years instead of 100% beginning in the fall. This may not be the best synopsis of the proposal, but for more reference just simply google "udc tuition increase" and you should be able to pull up something, anything, enough to get you caught up.

Well, this effort has taken a lot of energy and frankly I am in a situation where I have to decide whether I should drop courses and alter my semester. I donated so much time and energy that I simply mismanaged my time. So, what do I do? Where do I go from here?

What would you do?

Readers, if you are out there, let me know what you think. This is an opportunity for us to dialogue about important decisions in my life and perhaps your life. Maybe we are one in the same. Maybe you are going through a tough time in your life and need somebody who listens to you.? Well, this is our opportunity. Let's dialogue about the tough decisions and hopefully, I will gain some insight as to what I should do.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Til next time...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Speaking at Oak HIll Today

Today, I take a visit to Oak Hill Detention Facility. The topic, domestic violence.

For those who are unaware, Oak Hill is a detention facility for youth. There are youth at this facility facing charges from all sorts of crimes. Some have been convicted, but are serving time. But, there is something about this facility that truly gets my attention. I am interested in the attitudes of these young people who face life everyday behind bars. Not sure if you remember, my youngest brother has been convicted for multiple felonies and now is serving a 97 year sentence.

It is unimaginable for me. I could not fathom serving a sentence that long behind bars, but for so many young people and people in general, this is reality. How do we connect? What do we say? Are we there to ease their suffering?

Not sure of all those questions and definitely not sure of the answer. I will not be going to necessarily answer those questions either. More importantly, I want to give these young people an opportunity to see that there is time and opportunity for change. I was afforded an opportunity to turn my life around that is the same attitude I would like to influence the young people to take.

Well, I will keep you up to date on the youth I engaged. I will be joining Michelle, who will be speaking about the death of her daughter as well as loosing members of her family to the violent tragic fire in northeast Washington, D.C. It was the worst fire on record in many years. Kenny Barnes, who lost his son to gunfire will also headline this event. Kenny is founder and CEO of ROOT, Inc., an organization engaged in the community working to stem gun violence.

Til next time...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Struggle Never Ends, Nor Our Resolve

It has been some time since I blogged. I have been transitioning into school this semester, work and my personal life. These things take precision and planning. It is quite overwhelming. This is my graduation semester. I am excited and optimistic, but nervous as hell. I was supposed to graduate a year ago. That was quite disappointing. I was really hurt, but I knew I had to pick up the pieces and try again. Here I am, trying again.

Today's blog is a mix. I have some things to share with you.

Recently, a family member was victimized. In fact, two family members were victimized. One of my cousins was shot in a robbery. He was working in a retail store when a gunman walked in with a mask on and demanded money from the register and safe. After my cousin told him that there was no safe and key, he decided to rob everyone, emptying their pockets and taking money from the register. He confiscated $250 and then he shot my cousin. He is still in harm's way. The bullet is still lodged in his back, possibly resting on his spine. This incident took our family by surprise. I have yet to deal with it.

It is only a couple of months since the vicious death of my Godsister, Tiffany Gates.

Next, another family member was molested. I cannot talk in depth about this situation, but we are working hard to deal with the aftermath of such a horrible tragedy.

In the next blog, we will discuss steps to dealing with molestation and I will give you my testimony, at least one of them. I was molested three times.

Til next time...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brief Hiatus

I will be taking a brief hiatus to update the look of my blogspot, Conversation with Kellibrew.

Please bare with me as I make changes and upgrades. Thank you for your patience.

Til next time...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Survivor's Story - Jacqueline Ellison

Jacqueline gives us her account of survival. I wanted to put this story out again because I think it is important that we continue to reiterate the path of victim to 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 reallcy 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 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.