NBC news interviewed me for a story that they were working on as part of an ongoing series highlighting the issue of child marriage in the US.
In this story I appreciate how the writer focused on the aftermath of child marriage. How difficult it was to build a life and the years of gas lighting and abuse through the court system that I endured. Being married at 15 was confusing, degrading and my stomach still sours thinking about it. Struggling to build my life with out a high school education or any resources was rough. Trying to protect my daughter while every societal safeguard failed us was THE WORST part.
In addition to my interview, NBC also did some additional digging. They spoke with the judge who married us in Mississippi and he stated that he tried to call my mom because he felt that something wasn’t right. He didn’t get a hold of her so he signed off on the marriage anyway!
I was also molested when I was 11 by a man that my mom and stepfather bought a house with. He was 37 and my mom knew what was going on. It wasn’t until I told another girl my age about my 37 year old boyfriend that anyone did anything. That girls mother called and reported it. He was convicted and received a whole 180 days on jail. When my mom got the call that the police were investigating my mother said to me ” you’re really in trouble now”. That still echos through my ears to this day.
In court records obtained John told the court during a custody hearing that I was “unstable” He confirmed that he had a drinking problem and made the statement that “I stayed with her and accepted her infidelity since I could look at my then-wife as both my spouse and daughter because we are 28 years apart in age.” I told the court that he didn’t really want to parent my child he wanted to keep his claws into me. ( my “infidelity” was me trying to get away from him and have a normal relationship) He STILL GOT CUSTODY OF MY CHILD.
To my knowledge John has never hurt my daughter with the exception of manipulation in her early years. ( telling her that I was crazy, that I didn’t really love her and couldn’t provide a stable life for her which for a few years was true) My daughter is now an adult and will start college later this month. She was an honor student during most of academic career and loves working with kids, writing and photography. She has worked since she was 15 and has grown into a brave and adventurous young woman who is living her life to the fullest. She also has a relationship with her biological father ( the boyfriend) and his kind and wonderful family.
Thank you NBC and Dartunorro Clark for highlighting how incredibly difficult it is to untangle yourself from a child marriage and the lasting wounds and consequences it leaves.
I have taken several trips through hell and back, yet still I stand because I am resilient. It is my honor to share my story with others to not only raise awareness of sexual abuse & child marriage but to offer hope and inspiration to others who are fighting their own kind of battle. If you believe in the work that we are doing at the Resiliency Foundation please consider donating. There is a donation button on the front page of the website. If you would like to volunteer or contribute in another way or have me as a speaker at your next event or conference please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org