Winners of “I am a Thriver” Essay Contest

Check out the three winning entries of the “I am a Thriver” essay contest about the journey from victim to survivor to thriver. For more about this journey, visit

Congratulations to the winners of the “I am a Thriver” essay contest! Essays were judged at our special event promoting October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Event was sponsored by CT-ALIVE, a non-profit organization that supports the work of Susan Omilian’s My Avenging Angel Workshops™.

Find out more about upcoming “thriver” workshops at

Here are the winning entries:

1. Beyond Surviving

In seasons past, my own storm threatened my journey. For many years, the waves of despair kept me crashing into the rocks.

You know the place . . . dark, gloomy, windy, thunderstorms, lightening as it rolls out on the ocean waves, thrashing against the rocks and climbing up the sandy shores, the birds clinging to the tree branches as they sway.

The man I married loved to control me, used force to break me and our children kept me there. I was drowning in anger and loss, caught in the riptide of my life.

But now, God has allowed us all to live in peace and harmony. He gave me enough strength, will power and guidance. I did not see this at first until I finally saw the footprints he left in the sand.

I wondered where mine were and the famous poem goes:  “He said, ‘This is where I carried you and I will lead you to the positive earthly, peacemaking souls that can guide you here on earth.’”

When I started attending the My Avenging Angel Workshops program, I felt completely alone. Through years of conditioning, I had been discouraged to say the least. While I have always had the survivor spirit in me, I needed the inspiration to express myself and work towards improving my life.

Well, I did it!  And here’s what I’ve accomplished. I have earned by Associates and Bachelor degrees in human services while making the Dean’s list. I have produced two television shows, one for domestic violence and one children’s show. I’m a published author and artist. I am free from abuse.

I am connected to all that makes me stronger. I have learned how to navigate stormy weather, manage my boundaries and honor the Real Me.

I am like a fish in water; I will survive for I know how to swim.

I am thriving!

2. Thriving in Faith

I remember the month when I knew I had left the world I had known behind. It was after I referred myself to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at work and I met with a counselor. Then I participated for years in the Life Savers Project for women who have been abused as well as completing the My Avenging Angel Workshops™. With this help, finally I realized that I did matter, that I could make a difference and I came to see that I was more than a survivor. I was a thriver.

Now I greet each day with a refreshed optimism and I am motivated to help myself, my family and others. The word I hold dear is FAITH. That word appeared three times at my first Archangel retreat at Seascape at Mercy Center and then more recently as I returned to my journey on the shore. The quote by Henry Ward Beecher that touched me was — “Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of FAITH.”

Three years ago, I decided to pursue another undergraduate degree when I changed roles where I work so I could better serve my customers at work.  After a short while, I enrolled at Indiana Wesleyan University in their LEAP program for adults. I graduated in May 2013 with a B.S. in Accounting, achieving straight A’s in my courses.

Now I am participating in the Stepping Forward program supported by CT-ALIVE to learn new job search skills so I can find new opportunities to love and serve in a new job and career. I am also returning to volunteer work, meeting new people and giving love and support from the heart. I talk to people who others would avoid. In recognition of all my hard work, I have received an award and $2000 scholarship to pay my college fees from the Farmington Valley chapter of the Soroptimist Club. This award has increased power and energy to continue on my path to success.

Today I am a strong woman because others have given me support and FAITH followed by new words (Faith’s friends) who are dear to me now too — LOVE and HOPE.  I want the circle I am in to grow and send its ripples out to meet others and touch them in positive ways. Today, I am a thriver!

3. I know I am a Thriver

I know I am a thriver because I can look at myself the mirror and I see a happy face! My eyes are blue again and there is happiness there now where before there was only gray and sadness. Yes, that’s right! My eyes have changed back to their God-given color — blue.

My journey has been long, a dozen years. How did I get here? Someone literally took me by the hand to guide me in my first step. At first I was just a living breathing body just getting through each day. Those who know can relate – we spend our days just getting by trying not to make our abusers angry, which is impossible, but we try with all our hearts anyway. We raise our children, keep house, make meals and work but there is no joy and no emotion other than fear.

I know I am a thriver because I now feel joy when I wake up in the morning! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy to be alive, joy to work, joy to see my children grow to be adults.

I know I am a thriver because I see color in the world again! The world is a rainbow!

I know I am a thriver because I love my body! It is mine not someone else’s to ravage and throw away when they are done with it. I had accumulated 60 pounds of protection which I no longer need and has slipped away. I feel beautiful!

I know I am a thriver because I am able to help others see their beauty! In the abusive situation I could not even help yourself but now I can help others on their journey and this brings even more joy!

I know I am a thriver because I can laugh again. Not just any kind of laughter — rich belly laughter which oxygenates my brain and my soul bringing more joy!

I know I am a thriver because I have a deep connection to God! I am connected to all living beings on earth; the angels told me. I see concrete signs of this connection every day!

I know I am a thriver because I am not afraid to dream again! I am the snake, I have shed the skin of fear of my dreams and they come to me now and provide me messages of joy!

I know I am a thriver because I am grateful for everything in my life, all of it good and not so good. The challenges have helped me be more grateful for the abundance I have now.

I know I am a thriver because I have learned to forgive. Forgiveness of self is the highest mountain to climb; I am almost at the summit. Even forgiveness of the abuser is necessary to thrive. This is the teaching of God and it is so.

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