One thing in my life that I believe made me the strongest is watching my mother be torn down by my father and learning at a young age that I would have to stand up for myself as a woman. I want everyone to know how much you are worth and that no one makes you who you are.


“It is the middle of a sunny afternoon. I am playing with my dolls in the living room when I am jolted by screams coming from the adjacent bedroom. For a moment, I think I must be having a nightmare, but then I see my mother—or at least a woman who looks like my mother—sprinting towards me. Her porcelain white face is covered in crimson blood, her straight brown hair tangled and her brown eyes are wide open, glistening with tears.

“Ramona, call the police!” she screams.

I’m frozen in disbelief. I can’t move or speak. Is this really happening? Am I dreaming? I wish it were a nightmare . . . but it isn’t. This terrified woman is my mother.

She screams again. “Ramona, call the police!”

I just stare up at her. I drop my doll and run to the square end table. I look at the phone, then at my mom, then at the phone again. I am frightened and confused.

“Mommy, I don’t know how to use the telephone,” I say, shaking my head. “I don’t know how to use it.”

A hulking figure appears in the doorway of the living room. I lean forward and stare at him. It is a large, muscular man, with blonde hair, piercing green eyes, and broad shoulders. I rub my eyes, hoping to clear away the terrifying image. He lunges toward my mother. My brown eyes open wider. That scary man is my daddy! I think to myself in disbelief. The man who takes me to church every Sunday. The man who passes around the parish’s collection basket. The man who takes me to the local bakery to buy cake and cookies. I watch in horror, as he pulls my mother’s arm and yanks her out of the living room as if she is one of my lifeless rag dolls. This is the first time I ever saw the monster my father could become when he was drinking.

Sadly, it wasn’t the last.”

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