Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” As a living example of resilience through trauma, God saved me through my ability to assist others in the acceleration of their breakthrough. The breakthrough comes from sharing your story trapped inside your heart.

Trigger Warning: This article has an account of domestic and sexual violence.

Today, I unveil a story never shared before in hopes to inspire others to lean into their generosity and lift others while they climb the ladder of success. As a child, I was always full of smiles, bright eyed and bushy tailed. In general, I was always a really positive adolescent, silly, quirky, and full of fun. There was never a dull moment with me around. I was labeled a tomboy and loved being outside, playing in the dirt, going fishing, and embracing my fun filled world filled with my imaginary friends. Growing up in Seattle, I was always surrounded by mountain peaks and nature trails. I was always curious and daring.  Adventure was woven into my DNA. But more than a few times, my light and fun adventures turned dark, very dark.  Life dealt me some traumatic circumstances, one right after another and too many for a growing girl to handle. Before the age of 17, I was constantly molested by my father, bullied by my classmates, trafficked and raped. And if that wasn’t enough, I was stabbed multiple times by the father of my first child.

Even through the trauma, there was one thread within me that always remained consistent. I love to learn. School became my safe haven, away from the trauma of my home life. I vowed to myself to never miss a day of school, and I never did!  As a matter of fact, my perfect attendance helped me graduate at the top of my class – with honors. I applied and received a number of scholarships, one of them being a full ride scholarship from a very special person who would change the trajectory of my life forever: Ms. Ginny Miesenbach. As I stood there, in front of my graduating class delivering my speech, the day before I was to birth my first baby, I had no idea that this amazingly generous woman would have such an impact on the next 30 years of my life. Ginny Miesenbach was not only a person who provided me with a scholarship, but she became the anchor in my life and a legacy to follow in years beyond. Out of her big heart, she brought me in as an outsider to her big life.  As a highly educated and successful business woman who sat on boards of Fortune 500 companies, Ginny was more focused on how she could help humanity through philanthropy. Founder of the non-profit Stolen Youth that eradicated sex trafficking for Seattle teens. She bet on me and my potential as a woman in this world and not let me stay a victim of my tragic circumstances. She became the hope that I needed, the positive force in my life, she taught me more about myself and the world around me than I could have ever imagined.

I truly believe my goals are set higher today because of her and because she made me feel that I deserved it!  Ginny showed me that not only did she believe in me, but taught me to do the same for myself. She was my source of support and inspiration. She was my mentor, my friend and my rock in life through many hard times. You see, Ginny provided a chance for me to break the cycle of abuse through the power of education and love.

Maya Angelou wrote, “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”  Well, I have lived my life in constant pursuit of giving back to the world in the same light as Ginny. Though living a life filled with authenticity, I’ve learned to champion others to do the same, because your voice matters, no matter your gender, race or religion… your message deserves to be heard.

Grace L. Holden’s story of overcoming the unimaginable is nothing short of astounding. A victim of child sex-trafficking, severe bullying, and neglect, Ms. Holden’s life could have understandably taken a turn into an unrelenting cycle of self-sabotage and self- destruction. Because of her determination, resilience, and the promise that she would no longer be a casualty of her past, she completely changed her life. She brings her fierce and down-to-earth attitude onto stages globally and nationwide, telling her story as a gift to inspire others to use their unfortunate experiences as a tool to help spark the fuse in their success. Early in life, Grace started writing and journaling as a therapeutic release from her broken past. She later realized that she could help others by sharing her story and did so her best-selling works being “Dirty,” “F.L.Y.” (First Love Yourself), and “Overcomer”. Grace has devoted more than 20 years of her life to providing full-scale plans for event management, skyrocketing her to the top of her industry. Using her eclectic experience, she became the founder and CEO of Real Champions League, LLC. Her organization turns budding speakers into authentic brands. Grace personally provides one-on-one coaching, coupled with unmatched guidance. She helps her clients build profitable and sustainable businesses along the way. Grace understands that without community support, the chance of success can diminish significantly. She created an exclusive and thriving community that gives her members the power to break barriers, provide support, and continue on the path to self-discovery. Grace L. Holden’s power-packed workshops, seminars, keynote addresses, coaching sessions, and inspiring community cultivate an environment for the ordinary to evolve into the extraordinary. Her message is: “self-preservation starts with the decision to love yourself above everything else.”