“Our childhood taught us LIES…But…we are strong and we can overcome this past. Those negative thoughts and feelings are not in charge of our lives – we are.”

As the only child, I felt the burden of responsibility early on in life. I was four years old the first time I saw my stepfather hit my mother. Awakened by commotion from the living room, I went in to see what was happening and saw my stepfather standing over my mother, hitting her and screaming at her. Things only got worse. These drunken physical and verbal fights escalated and continued all the way through my junior year of high school. Sometimes I would wake up to the chaos and rush in and try to save my mom. Sometimes, I just lay in bed and cried and screamed at them to stop. I became the mediator and voice of reason.

Acting as the only real “adult” in my home, I felt that the only way to transcend the violence, abuse and neglect that characterized my home was to become the perfect child. I promised myself at a very young age that I would make a better life for myself. I would do everything in my power to make sure that my future family would never have to endure the same thing.

This promise stayed in the forefront of my mind and made me extremely critical of everything I did. From sports to classes, I had to excel. Upon graduating from college and starting my career, all was seemingly well. However, in spite of having a loving support system and a wonderful career, I often felt alone, insecure, unworthy, unlovable, and guilty. I was still buried in the shame of my past. All of my progress and hard work never seemed to be enough to satiate these negative thoughts.

It wasn’t until I was introduced to CDVA ( by my mentor that I realized these were effects of growing up as a child of domestic violence. Life didn’t have to be like that. I had been working on cultivating self-love in my life, but the CDV program and website introduced me to the TRUTHS, which helped me realize that life could be so much more if I unlearned the debilitating LIES that so frequently rampaged through my mind. CDVA helped me see that I was not alone. I mattered. My story mattered and it wasn’t something to be ashamed of, but rather something to be proud of making it through. It not only gave me a strong foundation, but it fueled my innate desire to give back and to inspire others to do the same.

Learning the TRUTHS and continuing down the path of self-love has created many opportunities in my life. I became senior project engineer, have also since become a certified personal trainer and co-founded RegularGirlFitness, a social media community inspiring others to become fit in every facet of their life: mind, body, and soul. I am also a featured blogger for Loving On Me, which is a global movement empowering women to learn to love themselves, know that they are enough, and chase their dreams.

Currently residing in California, I just started graduate school at the University of Southern California to attain my MBA. I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and volunteer with an array of organizations, including Hunger Busters, the DFW Animal Shelter, and Habitat for Humanity. In addition to serving the community, I love traveling, trying new things, reading, playing sports, practicing yoga, cooking, learning, and spending time with loved ones.

I am a strong advocate on the issue of CDV, because I understand firsthand how difficult growing up with and getting through it can truly be. I want to inspire others who have been through similar childhood adversities to learn to love themselves, discover their strengths, and follow their dreams. Our childhood taught us LIES such as that we aren’t worthy and that we are alone. But we’re not. We are strong and we can overcome this past. It is our choice to learn the TRUTHS and to see life for what it really is. Those negative thoughts and feelings are not in charge of our lives – we are.

Full Q&A With Carlie