Sunday, July 8, 2012

Updated Bio

As a survivor of devastating hardships in her youth, Amira is now living a full life as a victim's advocate, wife, and mother of four beautiful, bright children. Amira is pursuing a Masters in Social Work with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies. Through the Mending The Soul Community Model of Healing, Amira is facing and overcoming such hardships and abuses as; childhood rape, child sex slavery, homelessness as a teen, and severe drug addiction. Stepping out with new-found healing, courage, and strength, Amira is sharing her story with a passion to educate, mentor and empower people who have been traumatized from the dehumanizing acts of sexual abuse. Amira's compelling story of abuse and recovery is a source of inspiration and education to all who have the privilege of hearing her speak.
The cycle of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse began when Amira was raped by a family member at six years old. This early abuse led to a teen experience filled with depression, attempted suicide, and abusive relationships. This cycle manifested, when at the age of 16, Amira was sold to a pimp and held for 8 months, against her will. After fleeing this captivity, Amira was again molested by yet another family member. These experiences were the catalysts that thrust her into a life of drug addiction, which, ultimately led to a year of homelessness as a teenage girl.
Amira met her husband-to-be in the midst of these hardships, and with his love and support, she was able to leave the life when she was 18 years old. In 2009, Amira received her GED and immediately enrolled in college. Motivated by a desire to empower and educate others who have experienced abuse, Amira received a full-ride scholarship to obtain her Degree. She graduated with honors in 2012, and received another full-ride scholarship to Arizona State University, to finish her Master's Degree.
Working with the organization Mending the Soul, Amira has helped to develop and implement the Princess Lost curriculum. Princess Lost is a healing curriculum specifically created to help survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation. As Amira began her personal journey of healing, she began speaking with others about her experiences in 2010. She has since traveled around the country, speaking at various events and schools about the ravaging aftermath of sexual abuse and exploitation. Her speaking has been lauded for “moving the hearts and minds of the participants,” by those who have worked with her. Amira has appeared in Emmy nominated television news segments, in sex trade documentaries, and has spoken on talk radio. “What I loved so much about Amira was her beautiful spirit that created a gentle breeze in a very difficult topic,” says author Vicky Kress.
Amira currently resides with her husband, and four children, and is continuing her education while working with abuse victims and helping to promote awareness and prevention in and around her community.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baggage Claim

As survivors of abuse there is a lot in our lives that is tainted by the residue. Who we could have been has been distorted, and we struggle to sort it all out. Then you throw parenting into the mix and we don’t know which way is up anymore. We all come with a lot of baggage. Which tends to differ in size, shape, color and even functionality, but the weight of it is pretty even across the board.

I knew going into parenthood two things. One, I did not want my children to grow up the way I did. Two, I did not want my children to be anything like I was. The first one?  Kudos to me (and you), no child should grow up in that level of dysfunction. Though somehow through it all, we made it out “alive”. Maybe through intervention,  sought out help or were lucky to have a few people that modeled healthy behavior. Either way, we made it into the world "functioning". So now we have made it our mission to protect our children. We fear that others may hurt them, but what we fear most is that we ourselves will cause damage or fail in some way that will leave them vulnerable.

The reality is, for the most part we are doing just fine. Yes, mistakes, outbursts, dirty dishes, tears and all. Do we recognize that? Probably not, we focus on all of the negatives and moments of well, being human. We ask ourselves, “Why are my kids so great, when I screw up so much?” or, “My kids are nothing like me at that age” and, “I was such a bad kid”. Our children are showing us everything we are doing right and the reason they act so different at this age is because they did not have the same experiences you did at this age. You have done your job as their parent to provide and protect. Or let’s say, because I know some of you are thinking it, they have had some bad or similar experiences and they are equally great. Why? Because of your resiliency and awareness you intervened, you got them the help they needed. Most often abuse itself is not the solitary reason for our pain and suffering, it’s the re-occurrence, the lack of recognition, or the "sweep-it-under-the-rug" mentality that causes the most harm.

So, do I want my children to be like me? In a sense they are, extensions of who I was supposed to be. With the added bonus of the various strengths and experiences I’ve picked up along the way. The things I did leading up to this point, do not define me. I did those things based on what I knew and out of pain. I did not do those things because I am a bad person; it was my environment and dysfunctional reality.

It is in my children's personalities and experiences that I can see glimpses of who I could have been. I had to go through a process of mourning the loss of that little girl, but out of that came appreciation for who I am; baggage and all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Craig's List: A Fallen Soldier

In recent months there has been a huge effort to remove Craigslist's Erotic Section as a major point of action in the fight against sexual slavery. It is apparent by this action that many people feel the removal of this section would decrease the opportunity for pimps to sell young girls and which equates to fewer girls being sold into sex slavery. The motive is noble but the action far reaching ramification of which few understand. While thousands of people were celebrating as they watched Craigslsit succumbed to a two year battle over the existence of this portion of their site, I hung my head in shame and cried for the innocent girls that got punished as a result. 

Have you ever been beaten for being on your monthly cycle or for loosing weight even though you are not being fed. Raped for not "enjoying"  the sex that you are forced to endure, kicked in the face for sleeping but denied the food, water, or even drugs to be able to stay awake? Now this sounds like completely irrational behavior, that hard for you to even comprehend. Sadly though this kind of behavior is used by pimps to control their victims and make a profit. Its extremely common for a pimp to get increasingly violent when their profits are at risk or the girls can't make their quota. So, if you think for one second young enslaved girls didn't get beat, raped, starved or locked in theirs cages the day Craiglist's Erotic section went down, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you but this actually increased the victims risk for more abuse.

It is also very true that some of my closest friends would not be here today, to laugh, love, or live free if it wasn't for being found on Craiglist's by the police department. Pimps were not only arrested from the surveillance of this page but because of IP addresses several of the johns were too. Which is virtually impossible to accomplish when caught on the streets Since a girl only serves (on most occasions) one john at a time, and I am absolutely positive they don't carry around a receipt book, take down names and addresses and then thank them for their business.  When a girl is caught with a john on the street the pimps usually get away, and she is only caught with one of her 20 johns from the day. When a girl is rescued from seeing her add on Craigslist, Backpage or any of the other hundreds of similar sites, the under aged girl is rescued and the pimps and many of the johns are put away. 
For the last few days I have seen every abolitionist and human trafficking organization that is fighting against sexual slavery post links and cheer for the nation wide sweep led by the FBI that resulted in the recovery of 69 child slaves, arrest of hundreds of johns and prostitutes, not to mention the 99 pimps put away. This was a step forward, a real reason to celebrate, but I believe the numbers could have been higher. If craigslist was available to use by  the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch of the FBI that led the sweep.


Slavery needs to end, and I know we are the generation that is going to do it, but Craigslist is not the first step, and Backpage is most certainly not the second. Victimized young girls are going to be sold regardless of these sites,  and removal of the sites would put the girls back on the track which is far more dangerous.  Freedom fighters, abolitionists, law enforcement agencies, legislators and survivors have many steps to take toward solving this issue. It will not happen overnight but while we unite our efforts through education, rescue, and above all providing safety and healing, I say let the police do their job and arrest of these dangerous predators.
I'm proud to say that I have overcame this horror and have the greatest privilege to work along side these victims while they heal and grow. The honor to be their voice while theirs is lost, I am hoping my words hold some value in this chaotic war against slavery.  I have no idea how far this will go, how many people will see it, nor the impact it will have. This is just my feeble attempt to restore some of the damage done by the media explosion, unfortunately only the idiot pimps are dumb enough to use the Internet now and the real mastermind psychopaths have found newer more inconspicuous ways to get the job done. Thank you to all who have joined in the fight, lets work together with real solutions to shut down the industry that drives this horrific social ill.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Idenitity Theft

In the beginning her life is full of play
She hears the songs of innocence and dances through Monet
Her path is paved with wondrous things; her heart is made of gold
Her mind dreams of fairy tale's at the age of 6 years old

He makes her think it’s just a game, come on let's play pretend
Now for the person she’s supposed to be, that moment was the end

May innocence and serenity beware
For hiding in the room next to hers is a man who does not care
The signs are there but they say it just can’t be
They turn their heads in ignorance, as if they do not see

He makes her think its just a game, come on let's play pretend
Now for the person she’s supposed to be, that moment was the end

She's left alone with these feelings she can't feel
Stumbling through life each day and none of it is real.
Her head is down; her eyes now watch the floor
The only time she thinks she's whole, is when she’s treated like a whore

He makes her think it’s just a game, come on let's play pretend
Now for the person she’s supposed to be, that moment was the end

Now when she finds the one’s who are truly safe
She can become strong again and in life she will find faith
Though she may feel these wounds are much too deep
She will find herself and so much more, the day she begins to weep

Now for the person she became that day, this moment is the end.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Favorite Me.

I had always wished for something big to happen. Hoping that one day the planets would align so something or someone would save me, and my life could be changed in an instant. I fantasized that I would accidentally save the president's life, or bump into a famous director in a Wal-mart and win them over with my personality, or maybe  find a winning lottery ticket stuck to the gum on the bottom of my shoe and use it to change the world. I wanted nothing more than to be rescued, though I had no idea from what, because everything around me just seemed normal. But the truth is there was not much about my life that was normal, safe, or encouraging.

I was raped for the first time when I was just six, too young to understand the effects and the horror, but old enough to remember every violating detail. Over the next six years I was molested by a family member, and had to change schools more times than I can count.  I eventually dropped out of school at fifteen and that's where my "time line" ends. The years blend together beyond recognition but the next three years will be, etched in my mind forever.

Now there is no doubt that I made a lot of mistakes. I worked, hung out with friends, every once in a great while at a party I would smoke pot, and sneak beer or wine from the parental units, but soon it would turn into more and I would try meth. I got hooked quick and went down hill fast, but it was short lived, maybe six or seven months.  I had seen a lot in that short time, that really perpetuated my so called "maturity" level. I checked into an independent living home for teens, and really started to get back on my feet, I was in a safe and stable place and I blossomed. I worked, went to school, got active in the community and I also gained confidence. Which helped my decision to move back home to my mom's to help her work, and continue my journey.

While working with my mom I met an amazing woman, so I thought. She was about ten years older than me, but so were most of my other friends, and she really took me under her wing. She was my best friend and I considered her my sister. I watched her kids, loved her parents, and adored her. Looking back I can see every aspect of her manipulation and how easy I made it for her. All she had to do was love me, make me feel important and my broken soul was hung on her every word.

Eventually, after about eight months of grooming me, she sold me to a pimp. It came out of nowhere, she invited me to a friend's one morning and that's where I stayed. That summer, I know it was summer because of the heat otherwise I cannot account for anything else , felt like a lifetime. I do know, in that time, I was lost within myself. I remember sleeping behind a couch, not being able to eat and at one point being so sick I thought I was going to die. At first I was taken to men's houses and then I forced to work in a massage parlor.

At one point I was brutally raped when the owner of the massage parlor sent me across the street to grab some money for him. This was the first time in my life that I fought back, and it did me no good. I kicked and I screamed and I even tried to run for the first hour or so but eventually I lost my fight. I'm not sure exactly how long it was but I know it was at least three or more hours. When he was done he handed me a check for 800 dollars made out to the owner and since I had left the massage parlor, my pimp raped me again that night as punishment.

The police started to investigate the parlor and when word got around, they let me go so there would be no evidence. I was to ashamed to be at home and quickly went on a drug binge for a few months, but wanted more so I moved out of state with some family. Once again I did great. I was working, going to register for school and had my life on track. I put everything behind me. One night one of my family members got really drunk and attacked me in a hot tub, held me under water and forced her self on me. I ran away back to my state and went on yet another binge. Every time I pulled my self up, someone would push me back down. This time I dove head first into the drug world, started shooting up. I was the walking dead. I only weighed 78lbs and was scrounging for change off of sidewalks, selling stuff from dumpsters and breaking into abandoned vehicles to keep warm.

Though it seemed like a lifetime, I was only on the streets for about a year when a series of events occurred that would change my life forever. I started to clean up after my grandmother passed away. I had promised her I would. About two weeks after she passed on October 30th, 2003, I went with a family friend to help him with a mural and sitting in this tiny bookstore was the reason I am here today. My husband, my life, my best friend. We talked and laughed for hours that night. We both fell hard, i sobbed when I had to leave him that night. We couldn't stand to be away from each other even for an hour. The next day, our first date, was taking his beautiful baby girl tricking treating. I could not imagine leaving them and my heart ached at the thought. I literally moved in with them that night with the clothes on my back. I have no idea what he saw in me. I was maybe 80lbs wearing clothes that did not fit, someones borrowed bowling shoes that were three sizes to big, and had recently had a tweaker fit where I chopped off all of my hair within an inch or two of my scalp.

That was seven years ago almost to the day and we are still together. Where I am today is nothing short of a miracle. I am the very proud mommy of four amazing, smart, crazy, loving kids. My oldest is in the national honors society, plays the violin, participates in NEHS student council, sings with the honor choir, and truly advocates for the underdog. She is amazing and is going to change the world. She wants to be a Pediatric Oncologist and at 11 reads Shakespeare. Our six year old is in the gifted program where she placed in the 95th percentile and is the wittiest thing in the world, much to big for mommy. Our three year old is Special Needs and she lights up our life with her imagination and character. We recently, FINALLY, had a little boy who has more personality than I know what to do with. His joy is infectious. They are my life and my anxiety, they bring me to joy and sometimes to tears, but by far the best things to have ever happened to me.

My husband and I both go to school full time. I am currently working on my Bachelors' in Social Work and Art Education. I was recently awarded the Nina Mason Pullium Scholarship and I am the President of Teachers of Tomorrow, a student club at the college I attend. Believe it or not, this high school drop out holds a 3.8 GPA. I have without a doubt regained my identity that was ripped away so at such a young age, plus so much more. I have a long way to go, with many challenges, joys and sorrows. I will never quit moving forward and I will do it with a smile on face and my head held high.

People keep asking me, why are you sharing so many intimate details and putting yourself "out there" like this? The truth is what has happened to me is nothing new, this has been going on as far back as we can account, and the reason it has got so out of control is because no one would talk about it. In the last 10 years we have made remarkable progress. We are finally at a place where rape isn't a woman's fault, where child are precious, and we are standing up as one to make a difference. I am not ashamed of a single event in my life because I would not be who I am today with out them.

Over the past eight months I have been working with an amazing organization called which is the sole reason I am able to share with you today, because just 8 months ago, my family didn't even know what happened to me. I honestly cannot put into words how much healing I have done, what it has done for me and my soul. Now that our curriculum us 99.7% finished we have a lot of big things coming up! Including my big dream for Homes for the Heart where we will establish real family homes for victims to stay with no age limitations. We are working directly with victims through a highly developed mentor program and in my opinion this is the best way to work with them. They all have the fire, we just need to give them the fuel!

I have a lot to share, if you have any questions, comments or need clarification on anything please ask. This is why I am here. There is a lot left out in this introduction and I will be elaborating on everything in future posts. I have started this blog to share with you my experiences, mistakes, revelations, many opinions, my life and my love. I feel through education and love we can truly make a difference.

I always knew something big was going to happen, and I am so glad it's this!

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