The following has been featured in This Week’s Memphis edition of Tri-State Defender ( We thank them for including us in their publication, and we hope that it will encourage others to reach out and be a positive, active voice within the community to inspire change.

Memphis is ranked among the highest in the nation of reported domestic violence acts. It is an epidemic that continues to plague our community. It affects each and every one of us, whether directly or indirectly. Thousands of dollars in taxes are spent yearly regarding medical treatment for victims. Many of our children are being raised in an environment where they are witnessing violence first hand. These same children will potentially grow into adulthood to become one of two people – the oppressor or the oppressed.

It is often said that when one is in an abusive situation, all you have to do is leave. Speaking from experience, it is just not that simple. Go where? Report to whom? Domestic violence is more than physical. The emotional scarring lasts long after the physical wounds have healed.

What I’ve learned is that many people aren’t even aware that they’re in an abusive relationship. They don’t know what to look for, so they see no reason to leave. Then there are those who leave but are so broken in spirit, they are not in touch with their gifts and talents. They want to become self sufficient but don’t know how to get started.

I started a community organization – Walking Into A New Life (WIANL) – because I have a strong desire to educate others about the different forms of abuse and how to get out of an abusive situation using safe and informative measures. I want to teach women about taking their power back, assessing their talents and strengths, learning about microenterprise development and becoming entrepreneurs.

WIANL plans to implement its first microenterprise development courses this spring. I’m going into the community, talking with people in person to learn more about the concerns, needs and desires of our victims. As the CEO of my own business, JP Connections, and a domestic violence victim turned advocate, I offer myself as an example of taking some very negative experiences and turning them into a beacon of hope for others. I have obtained leadership positions in several organizations, locally and nationally, and plan to use these opportunities to assist others working within the community regarding various social issues.