When bad things happen to us, we can either let them trap us and define our identity or make us stronger and propel us to move to the next level. Undeniably, doing the latter can be difficult for some, especially those who have been in abusive relationships. This episode’s guest gives a gentle yet empowering reminder that overcoming your past is not at all impossible. Mark Yuzuik is joined by the powerhouse, dynamic speaker, and CEO of Unsilenced Voices, Michelle Jewsbury, to help us take our life back when it feels like it has been taken apart. She shares with us her own story of experiencing domestic abuse, revealing the help she has sought and the help she is now giving for others to break free from that horrible cycle. Believing that hurt people hurt people, Michelle then tells us the power of forgiving yourself, so you can learn to love yourself and extend it to others. Follow Michelle and Mark’s conversation as they reveal the five-step process to healing and more.
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Taking Our Life Back After An Abusive Relationship With Michelle Jewsbury
I have a special guest. A guest that is not only a dynamic speaker but was asked to be on a world tour. Inspiration2020 Tour. Do you know what it takes to get on a tour like that? It takes someone with experience, knowledge, and have something to offer and give back to somebody. Michelle Jewsbury is one of the most powerful women. I listened to this young lady speak more than once. The reason why is because every time I listened to her, there’s something else I can learn. Somebody else that I can inspire and help. We will talk about, how do you take your life back? When you feel like your life has been taken a part of your life, a part of your identity, and then you get trapped into the one thing I hate more than anything else is domestic violence.
I don’t like abuse in any form. Whether it’s an animal, a human, a child, it doesn’t matter. Abuse is wrong, but sometimes things happen to us and it makes us stronger, it doesn’t make it right. We don’t give permission to say it was a good thing, but if we don’t learn the lesson, we continued to live with the pain. The pain is there because we’ve got to learn a lesson. You think about somebody powerful. Why are super achievers talking about like Oprah, Tony Robbins, Michelle, people of that caliber? Why are they who they are? It’s because they took their pain and they turned it around. They didn’t blame somebody else. They blame them for saying, “You may have hurt me, but I’m going to take that pain and I’m not going to let you control me. I’m going to take my mind back.”
We’re not going to talk and focus on the pain. We’re going to talk and focus on the solution. The reason I asked her to be on my show is that she has experiences that I can’t relate to, but she can. Sometimes we have to dig deep into our friendship, our database, and people that we know that can make a difference in this life. She’s on a world tour. This young lady is a powerhouse. When you find out all the things she’s done, it makes it minor to what she’s gone through because she doesn’t focus on that. I wanted to introduce my dear friend and an honor to be here. Michelle, thank you for taking the time to be on my show.
Thank you so much, Mark. I appreciate being here.
You’ve gone through some challenges in life a few years ago, but you never let it define your identity. You always take it to the next level. You go, “What can I learn from this?” There are a lot of women and men out there. I don’t want to exclude but as well as men. I know you focus on a lot of women’s pain because that’s what you’ve done. I love that. We were talking before the show, does this help men? It helps everybody. What brought you to us and together here where we can inspire, influence, and get other people out of pain and suffering and they can say, “I’m not a freaking victim. No one’s going to take my mind away from me ever again.” Some people have been in abuse situations way in the past and they still live it. Even though they are not being abused, they’re allowing a different mind to be there. You’re this free woman with a ball of energy. We go to an event and they’re like, “There’s Michelle, the life of the party.” It’s because you’ve taken your life back. Give me a quick synopsis of your story and the things you’re doing. Tell us a little about that, Michelle.
Thank you, Mark. I grew up in a household where I had a loving mom and a loving dad. I was taken away from my parents when I was seven years old. I had no idea what happened. I was away from them for five months and then reunited. Shortly after that, I had attachment disorders. I always thought that my family or friends or people were going to abandon me. Fast forward into 2012, I met this super handsome person with blue eyes and blonde hair. A successful, suave entrepreneur who swept me off my feet. The first time my head went through the wall was about four months into the relationship. When that happened, I didn’t understand what I was going through.Hurt people hurt people. Click To Tweet
I didn’t get that this was a domestic violence relationship but because of that abandonment thought process that I had been in during my childhood and adolescence, I was like, “Maybe I triggered him. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe he had a rough day.” I stayed and I allowed him to continue abusing me. It got bad. I was beaten severely a couple of different times. A four-hour-long beating was one of the worst ones. I woke up the next morning when Paul was staring right at me and he began to cry. My face looked like I had completed ten rounds in a boxing ring. He begged me and wanted me to forgive him. I did. He was bawling and promised he would never do it again. It’s cyclical. There’s a cycle in domestic violence and it goes from walking on eggshells to a big blow-up to then the apology stage. Fast forward, four years later, I ended up escaping.
I ended up leaving that relationship. I started documenting what happened to me. When I started documenting it, I saw it on paper and I started reading out loud what I had gone through and realized how horrible it was. From there, I knew I had to do something. I then wrote and performed a 65-minute solo play called, But I Love Him, which was my experience on stage. I played roughly 13 to 15 different characters, including my abuser, which helped me heal because one of the main steps for healing and overcoming is to get out of you. However, that is you can do it in movement. You can do it in writing therapy. You can do it in traditional types of therapy or, whatever it is.
You have to get your experiences out of you so you don’t continue that process so it’s not repetitive. From there I felt a calling to start a nonprofit organization. I started a nonprofit organization called Unsilenced Voices in 2017. We work to help survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and trafficking worldwide. We’re in Ghana and Sierra Leone, Africa. We are expanding to Nepal and also the LA area so the United States. Our first event in the US is May 30th of 2020. We’re still figuring out all of the information, but we want to provide pro bono legal assistance, housing assistance, case manager assistance, childcare assistance, therapy, and counseling services.
It’s been an amazing journey and because of my experience, I have coaches and mentors and great people around me to where they have helped me be able to monetize my experience. They’ve been able to help me understand that my adversities can lead to assets, that you can turn your lemons into lemonade. I am on this Inspiration 2020 tour, which is nationwide. I’ve been asked now to speak in Egypt, Tel Aviv, and travel all around the world and share this message. It’s important because it’s such a huge epidemic.
When you’re talking about your story, I didn’t know the whole story. I didn’t want to know the whole story only because I wanted to share it live, so the real story comes out. I can get inspired and influenced at the same time. When you’re talking about that you documented everything, when people don’t document something, what they do is they repress it. When they repress it, they rekindle that seed where it allows it to happen again. When people leave a relationship, a man, a woman, whatever that is, whether it’s a man leaving a woman, a woman leaving a man that’s in that relationship and they too get in this same relationship, a different person, they look different. You’ve got this perfect Ken doll and he turns out when you take the mask off, but he was in a lot of pain.
We can say all these horrible things about what happened and that man’s horrible. His actions were horrible. There’s no doubt, but what was the pain he was going through? How do we fix those? I remember you said one of your goals was which made me think, for you to say what you told me, it made me say you’re growing much further past the abuse. You’re about helping everybody. You can hate the behavior and still love the human being because they’re going through a lot of pain too, but when you documented it. That struck me when you said that. Do you want to continue down this path and help even the people that are doing this?
Yes. My philosophy is that hurt people hurt people. It’s cyclical. I’m using that word because it is a cycle and you have to break that cycle and to break that cycle, you’ve got to speak up about what’s been happening to you. With my abuser, he had a rough childhood or some things happened to him. During our relationship, he oftentimes would tell me what he had gone through so then I would sympathize and empathize with him so then when he reacted the way he did to me, that I would forgive him and stay with him. My biggest goal would be for him to stand up on stage with me and share his story about him being an abuser. How he’s been able to overcome that and his childhood and what happened and why he did what he did.
It took me a long time to get to where I am. Forgiveness is a difficult thing, but forgiveness isn’t for the other person. It’s for yourself. If you don’t forgive, you hold onto that obstacle, that trauma, that deeply-seated experience, and you hate that person, then you are going to be hateful. You are then going to react. You are going to act that way. I forgive Paul and I hope that he heals. I hope that he overcomes some of the battles that he’s been dealing with. It’s how do we start serving those who are in pain so then it doesn’t turn into abuse or them becoming a victimizer when they are themselves a victim?
You’ve not just written about your stuff, but you’ve created programs for people to help them get out of their way and out of the past. Not that we ever forget, you said forgive and it’s forgiving of yourself so you can love yourself. A lot of times an abuser, it’s either you want to control or you want acceptance. People abuse because they don’t love themselves enough and they don’t feel they deserve it. What they want to do is control you so you can love them because they don’t feel they love themselves. I think about that as, what if they did love themselves because he hates the same patterns that he’s doing to you? They are probably in more pain at times than you would be at. Not that that makes it right, but imagine that.
If you could see it not just from your point of view, but people are in pain a lot of times. They were taught from childhood, “This is how my parents showed love.” They’re almost brainwashed in a way that their programs don’t know how to fix it. For you to say you want to teach him how to be a better man, it takes a lot to do that. Not because you forgot, but you’re forgiving. It’s for love. You’re for forgiving, empathy and all these things, but you’re forgiving of yourself so you know what those signs are. What are some tips? I understand you, you’re also an author and all that. Tell us about that and give me some tips of when somebody feels like they’re stuck, they’re scared to death.
They are truly scared like there’s no way out, except for one way out, which is the wrong way. How would you give them some steps? The books you wrote, what you’re doing, how you’ve progressed and grown because you’ve grown a whole lot in a few years where some people are still stuck in 30 and 40 years in their situation. The person isn’t abusing them, but they’re still abusing themselves in their mind. It then goes from that to overweight to, “What are you doing? You sabotage yourself in every area of your life, financially, emotionally, in relationship and spiritually.” What are some of the things you did? What are some help steps that you can help our audience do so they can get to where they need to be where you are right now?
I didn’t want my experiences to define who I am, because my experiences don’t define who I am and my experiences don’t define who you are, the audience. Our team has created a process. It’s the process that I use to escape to get over my obstacles so then I can have extreme growth. That process is a five-step process. The first step of that process is realization. I didn’t realize, understand, or accept what I was going through at the time and when I finally escaped my situation and started writing out what I had gone through, then I realized how bad it was. We then lead that into thoughts and changing your thought process surrounding it and then we moved from your head to your heart, where you go to thoughts and feelings.Forgiveness is a difficult thing, but forgiveness isn't for the other person. It's for yourself. Click To Tweet
We then talk about words, changing your words. You have to use positive power words, not just about yourself, but everything around you. You can’t go in with a negative attitude because you’re going to get negativity in your life. We then lead into actions. Taking actionable steps. What that looks like. If you have experienced extreme trauma, child abuse, whatever that looks like, it’s getting that out. However that is, with movement therapy. I teach a lot of writing therapy. It’s having you get out what you’ve been through to then create massive results in your life.
What books have you written?
I wrote a book called, But I Love Him, which is my memoir and a domestic violence relationship. You can receive a complimentary digital download of that book if you text Obstacles to 26786. I am working on my second book now called Overcoming Obstacles by quarter four of 2020. That is specifically going to be about the five-step process that our team has crafted and also a lot of my experiences. We’re going to integrate a lot of other healthcare professionals and police officers and you name it so they can talk about some of the things that they’ve been through. It’s to have authority in the book, so we can help teach, craft, and encourage people to in a sense change.
I love the steps that you gave people because that’s the beginning of how to realize to get out of the situation that they don’t need to be in. It’s not about getting out, they may be physically out of it, but they haven’t emotionally moved on. How do they emotionally move on? Is it the same steps that you told them? What groups should they join? Here’s what I love the best is what you’ve created. You’ve created an unstoppable movement. If you could tell them about that because everybody wants to support movements that make a difference. This isn’t about being a victim. This is about getting growth out of your life and sharing and helping other people that are still stuck. Not maybe in the moment, but more mentally and emotionally. That’s the worst because then you’re a victim of your circumstance because of your past.
Oftentimes people stay trapped in that emotional cycle, that hell per se. They live in their living hell and the reason why is because they’re not getting out what it is that they’ve gone through. What I mean by that is therapy helped me drastically. Therapy is essential and whatever that type of therapy looks like, that helps with your emotional stability. Being able to be emotionally stable also means that you have to be able to regulate your emotions and not get triggered by mundane things. If you are triggered, learn how to step back without reacting. It is a difficult process to get there. To do that, the five steps that I did give will lead people to be able to be more regulated and their emotions more subdued and live an even happier and healthier life.
It’s not about the movement that you’re talking about, yes, we have created a movement. We want to continue growing this movement because there is an epidemic in our world with abuse in general. Unsilenced Voices in the United States are now getting involved with stopping sex trafficking. We are working with domestic violence, sexual abuse, and now sex trafficking. According to the Child Liberation Foundation‘s website, there are 200,000 children in the US and 18,000,000 children worldwide that are being trafficked. The statistics are unbelievable and to create a movement, you have to collaborate and work together. You don’t want two organizations doing the same damn thing, because if they do then things fall through the cracks. What I want us to do is come in and pick where those cracks are. Pick up what has been dropped, so we can help and collaborate so we can make some significant change in this world. This movement is about speaking up. That’s why it’s Unsilenced Voices. To make a change, people need to know what the heck is going on because you don’t know what you don’t know.
As we wrap it up, can we go through the five steps again? Tell them about how we can be a support to your movement. I want people to say, “I want to support this.” This is a powerful thing. It makes a big difference and the numbers out there are unnecessarily way too big. We need to put a stop to this. We need to come together as a family, as a group, as a nation, and a world. What I love about you is you’re not a victim. You’re an activist and you’ve spoken up. What happened to you happened to you, not because you deserved it, but for a reason. You’ve never said, “I deserve that.”
You didn’t deserve that. You’re in a place where you’re saying, “I’m going to stop as many people as I can.” You’re like the little Oprah. All the pain you went through, you made a difference. It’s not how big you are, it’s how powerful you are and you’re pretty powerful. Let’s go through the five steps. How do we get involved with supporting your whole foundation and how do we get ahold of you in any way we can, because people will want to reach out to you and connect? If we could do that, it would be awesome.
The first step is realization. It’s realizing and understanding what you’ve gone through. Accepting what you’ve gone through. It’s like the first step in AA, understanding that you have a problem. That’s what it is. You realize what that problem is and then you go to your thoughts. You start changing the way you think about your obstacle or trauma. A lot of people create a story about what they’ve gone through. Let’s say X happened to you. Let’s say you were abused by an uncle when you were five years old. They have created a story saying that every man sucks. They’re going to hurt me. Every man is evil. That’s the story that they now live in, that they believe, but what happened is you were molested by a horrific man, your uncle at five years old. There’s no more story.
It’s changing your thought process around what you’ve gone through. Going from your head to your heart, you start thinking about your emotions and feelings. How do you feel about the situation? At first, it’s going to come out in anger. You are going to be pissed off, but it has to come out. You have to start feeling what you’ve gone through and then start feeling what it is that you want to feel. You want a beautiful, wonderful, and amazing life, but you’re trapped in this thought process where everybody sucks. You start to feel better about yourself by going on walks, speaking up, and using positive power words. You start to feel better by honing in on what you’ve experienced and how you can make that difference, how you can change, how you can use that experience for good.
The words, using positive power words. Look in the mirror and say, “You are amazing.” Write Post-its and put them all over your house and in your car. Write out Post-its about you being able to succeed and fulfill your wildest dreams and then go into actions. Action steps would be, what steps do you need to take to move forward? Do you need to seek out a therapist you can talk through some of these things? Do you need to give yourself more time? A lot of clients that we’ve seen have a lot of stress in their life. They then become a workaholic and don’t give themselves any time to heal. Make sure to give yourself time without the television, without the cell phone. Just you and your thoughts. The other action steps would be doing activities that you love and spending more time with your friends and family. Other action steps also would be joining an AA group or a narcotics anonymous group or a domestic violence group so you can share your story with other people who have experienced what you’ve gone through so you don’t feel like you’re alone.
Take those action steps and then once you start taking those action steps, you’re going to see massive results in your life because you have implemented all of these steps. You are working on yourself to heal and to change so you can empower others after you’ve empowered yourself. You’re going to see some huge results. Money results, spiritual results, friendships, and families. There’s something called adverse childhood experiences and what that is when you’ve experienced something as a child or a young adult, and it was traumatic and you don’t deal with it. You don’t write out about it. You don’t speak up about it. You suppress the emotion of the experience, it then comes out in physical and/or emotional ailments as an adult. You could have chronic pain, chronic headaches and autoimmune disorders. You could also go from being a victim to then being a victimizer and hurting other people around you. You have to deal with a lot of that and that’s another reason why the cycle is so prevalent because people don’t stop and deal with what they’ve experienced. They have to and they need to do that.You can empower others after you've empowered yourself. Click To Tweet
I love the steps. I appreciate you taking some time for the people to get in touch with their lives so they could take it back. How do we support your movement? How do we get involved in it? How do they get your book? This is all stuff that people are going to dive into and being a leader in this industry, as far as making a difference, you’re on a world tour. You’re doing things worldwide, not in one city, you make a big difference everywhere. How do they get in touch with the world-famous Michelle?
It is a movement and we need help. Collaboration is key. If you’re interested in supporting Unsilenced Voices and this movement of speaking up, speaking your truth, and being that change maker, you can go to UnsilencedVoices.org and get more information. You can also donate there. We are looking for a grant writer. We’re looking for fundraising people. I am much willing to do like a cost-share where you bring in $50,000 and we’ll work on a percentage that you get, whatever that looks like. We need somebody to help us generate the money because nothing can grow without funding.
I’ve been funding a lot of this myself. We do have a lot of private donors and we haven’t qualified for grants because we’re based in the US and working abroad. Now, we’re bringing it to the United States as well. We’ll qualify for more grants. If you’re a grant writer and you want to be part of this movement, please reach out to me and you can reach out to me if you email at Admin@MichelleJewsbury.com. If you are interested in my book, text Obstacles to 26786 and you’ll receive a complimentary digital download of the intro and then a place to purchase is on Amazon.com.
Thank you for being here. Thank you to all of our people out there that can make a difference, not only in their lives but somebody else’s.
Thank you so much. If you are interested in overcoming a lot of the crap that you’ve been going through, you can also visit UnsilenceMyVoice.com and learn more about the masterclass that we teach.
I’m glad you mentioned that because we would have to do another show. Check it out. Be a part of this movement and make a difference in somebody else’s life, as well as yourself. Even if you’re not a victim, you can support people out there. We have too many victims out there. We need to help each other out and let’s grow. We don’t need to judge people. We need to support people to get them out of their situation. Get her book, be part of the movement. Get the five tips and do what you’ve got to do. Support somebody and thank you again for reading my blog. If you want to email me, go to GetYourMindSetWithMark.com. Get my free download, my free book. Until next time, rock on.
- Michelle Jewsbury
- But I Love Him
- Unsilenced Voices
- Child Liberation Foundation
- Amazon.com – But I Love Him
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