1,839 days ago, Elizabeth came home to find a warrant for her boyfriends arrest for explicit online sexual activity with a minor and intent to meet with a minor . Having been together for 7 years, creating a home and life together, this was a day that no one saw coming. She remembers seeing a police car outside their home that morning as she left for work, but thought nothing of it. The reality in fact was that her boyfriend had actually been talking to an undercover agent posing as a 14-yr-old girl. They traced his username back to his home computer and waited outside their home that morning. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to 90 days in federal prison and 3 years registered as a sex offender.
With her world shattered, Elizabeth was left with a distorted sense of her self worth. She was filled with hatred towards him for his deception, betrayal, and violation of her trust. But she was CONSUMED with hatred for herself. “I felt so completely stupid for finding myself in such a place of deception. I was disappointed in myself for not seeing the obvious signs…even for being vulnerable enough to be classified as a victim. I was completely paralyzed by self-hatred, self-loathing, and self-destruction.”
Seeing no other choice but to run, she left. “I left my family, a 5 year graduate school scholarship, my home, my income, my friends, my possessions and all sources of comfort and familiarity to that point in my life. Within 2 months of the breakup I had moved to Orlando, Florida into my extended family’s home and was sleeping on my 4 year old cousin’s bunk bed.”
In an effort to find a new support system, Elizabeth responded to a post on Craigslist. She visited with a group of women that met once a week to connect, challenge and encourage each other. She never stopped going. “All that I lost in the darkest season of my life, has been restored. I found an amazing career and profession, have restored relationships within my family, graduated with my Master’s degree, made an unlimited supply of real-life best friends, and learned my real purpose in this life. It’s amazing how much ground you can cover when your compass is pointing in the right direction.”
For Elizabeth, it was never enough to just enjoy her new life made full. She has the vision and passion to help lead other women to the revelation that they too have great value, great ability and great purpose. She recently spoke at a conference for single women. “‘The Taken Event’ was birthed out of desire to bring single women to a new defining place of self-worth. There are so many attacks on the concept of single-ness in our world today. Single-ness is not a season of waiting, a disease, or a death-sentence. It is a moment where we can focus our time, energy, and hearts towards helping others and making a difference. Not to mention that I’ve had an unbelievably amazing time doing it. Just to name a few things…I’ve jumped out of an airplane, traveled all over the world, become a huge follower of a cover band, and made many new friends along the way. It has been so much fun!”
“A huge revelation I have had about myself is how my talents and interests intersect with purpose. I have always had an immense passion for business and education. My love for the workplace has grown into a love for the people that make up the workplace. I am in the process of taking over a monthly meetup at my company. The purpose behind it is to encourage and lift up the employees as a team all while learning how to apply morals and values at work and in everyday life.”
As someone who met Elizabeth when she was the most broken and hopeless, I am a witness to the transformation that has taken place in her life. It only takes a moment to change a persons life forever. For Elizabeth, that moment came 1,839 days ago. Yet in the middle of the heartache and pain, Elizabeth recognized the power she still held; the power to choose life or death. While that moment was a defining moment in her life, she refused to be defined by it. Elizabeth has fought and won the battle against depression, bitterness and hopelessness. She is living out many of her life dreams and has the constant ‘challenge’ of having to dream new and bigger dreams to hope for. She is altogether lovely.