Writer and inspirational speaker, Debra Collins is a survivor of child sexual abuse. Since the age of six when she became the object of her father’s attention, she has known the shame and stigma of being a victim. It wasn’t until the age of fifteen that she would establish domain over her own body, and stop the victimization of incest that had become her own private nightmare.
Debra graduated from high school in 1981, and married at the age of 21. She began experiencing panic attacks at age 25 that led her to counseling for what occurred in her childhood. Unable to cope with her past, she ended her marriage and continued her life alone with her children. The pressure of supporting her family alone coupled with the trauma she held within, caused her to self-medicate with alcohol and then crystal meth. Her addiction escalated with the loss of her mother to cancer, which resulted in the loss of her job, home, and three children.
After 18 months of wandering around homeless, jobless, with no direction – immersed in her crystal meth addiction, Debra hit her rock bottom. She was admitted into the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in Pasadena, California, where she began a 6-month work therapy program. This was the first step in the uphill climb she had to face to get her life back.
Inspired by the progress she made in her life after 17 years of sobriety, Debra ventured out to speak to other survivors about her story and experience with recovery. She hopes by sharing her journey, it will help inspire and give hope to those who suffer from similar abuse, addiction and trauma. Additionally she fulfilled a personal promise she made to herself long ago. She enrolled in college in 2009, and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.