I’m Louisa Parson, Director of Outreach Network Enrichment Faces And Voices of Recovery (ONE FAVOR).
My Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE)
In my adolescence I was sexually abused by teenage boys that went to my church. This adverse childhood experience prevented me from building healthy adult relationships in my future life. I married at the age 18 right after I graduated from high school. I was pregnant with my first son who was born in the Fall of 1988.
My Military Career and the Effects of ACE
I joined the Navy in April 1989 and was pregnant with my second son June 1989. Even though I started a career with the Navy which would last 6 years, I was so confused. I was now a mother of two and in a marriage that was riddled with problems.
I tried to be successful with my career but I had mental health issues that weren’t diagnosed. I had problems relating with my co-workers. I was a young mother in the military with constant disturbances at home. I had mood swings and violent fits of rage towards my husband. We constantly fought about my career in the military, because he wanted to go home to Texas.
In August 1992 I gave birth to my third son while I was stationed at Mayport NAS. Shortly after I went to serve on the USS Yellowstone (AD-41) in Norfolk, VA. My home life became even more complicated with my deployments. By this time my marriage was in shambles without any hope in sight. I was an ineffective mother of three boys and I was still untreated with my mental illnesses. The odds were mounting against me.
During a deployment overseas I was sexually assaulted by a fellow sailor. I didn’t report him, because I didn’t want to ruin his career. I became very reclusive as I tried to cope with the aftermath. I was so depressed and couldn’t perform my duties on my ship. I was angry at the Navy for exposing me to the incident. I didn’t renew my enlistment contract and went home to Texas. However, the damage was already done.
By now I had lost trust in anyone around me. I did find gainful employment as a Electronics Mechanic in Dallas. My husband became a truck driver. I was working 12 hour shifts and couldn’t take care of my three sons. I asked my parents to care for them while I focused on my new career.
In April 1997 I gave birth to my first daughter. Now I had 4 children living with my parents and I was having difficulties concentrating at work. My husband had a crack addiction that cost me $30k in one year. I sent him to treatment, hoping he would recover.
By this time I started drinking heavily to cope. My performance at work was marginal. I took a voluntary layoff and moved back to my hometown. I stayed unemployed for a year and tried to work on my marriage and raise my kids.
In March 2000 I separated from my husband and became a single mother. I went back to school but wasn’t successful. I was having nightmares about the rape in the Navy and could not trust anyone. I did move in with someone to help make ends meet. My second son wasn’t happy with the arrangement and moved in with his father.
My home was now broken and I was drinking all through it. I couldn’t get any peace. I began to smoke pot to help with the depression until I got so bad that I didn’t want to live. My boyfriend was physically abusing me and I would run away only to be back with him later.
I finally ran away for good in March 2006. I sobered up March 12, 2006 and stayed with my brother to straighten out my life. Within 6 months I returned home, but I was homeless and unemployed. It took me 18 months to seek help for my mental illness. I was finally diagnosed with bipolar depression and PTSD in February 2008.
My Recovery from ACE
I enrolled in the HUD/VASH program that helped me get an apartment. My fiance who became my second husband in August 2014 helped me move in and I started a job employment program. I didn’t complete the program but I started school instead. I changed universities twice and was hospitalized the Summer of 2011 to address my military sexual trauma. I didn’t complete that program, because I had fits of rage towards the program facilitators.
I went back to school online and tried to complete a computer forensics program but was struck with another bipolar episode the Summer of 2012. It would be a tough Fall, because I was hospitalized 2 times in a 2 month period. I was homeless between stays in the hospital. I was wondering the streets in a daze for 3 months. My fiance finally found me and hospitalized me for my final time in January 2013. Doctors found the right medication to stabilize me and I began my recovery.
It was a long road back. My fiance brought me to my appointments twice a month to have my medication injected. He also brought me to a counseling appointment every two weeks. He did this for 18 months until he passed from lung cancer Halloween 2014. We were married August 2014 so we were newly married when he passed. My recovery team was worried I would relapse from the bereavement but I pulled through. One day after entombing his ashes in the VA cemetery I bounced back. I realized I had to live or else all his effort towards my recovery would be in vain.
I reapplied to the same job employment program that I quit 4 years before. I completed the three month program and started on my chemical dependency counseling degree in the Fall of 2015. I completed the program Fall 2017.
Why I Want to Help Women with Sexual Trauma in Adolescence
In the process of going to school I became the Chairman of Big Country Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) and started ONE FAVOR May 2016. In August 2017 I became a Veteran Certified Peer Specialist in Texas documenting my volunteer work in peer recovery for the past year.
It wasn’t until I started volunteering in my local recovery community that I found peace with myself to strengthen my recovery. My aim is to build a network of women who have had similar experiences and want a way out of the depression and vicious cycle that sexual trauma holds on those who haven’t sought recovery.
I hope my story inspires women to seek help and treatment. You don’t have to do this alone. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
If you have any questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be glad to answer questions about my recovery and what has worked for me. These strategies may work for you, too.
All the best,