Leigh Ann’s Story

I first participated in Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® 5 or 6 years ago.Since then, I became an Authorized Facilitator of the training and I have facilitated this program too many times to recall. Each time, something would spark a light in my mind that something was just not right with my history. Each time I watched the training, I picked up something different from each brave survivor — especially the very last scene with the man saying that just stopping the abuse of ONE child stops a huge ripple effect. That sticks with me daily. 

My entire life, I have wrestled with awful depression and anxiety, and I never knew why until recently. As a child, I repressed my memories of abuse even as physical signs began to show (bedwetting, for instance). Stressors in the last few years, including my mother’s suicide, brought me to begin dealing with my trauma. My realization of sexual abuse came after about 15 months of continuous sobriety and arduous 12-step work, in addition to lots of self-discovery work. In February of 2019, I began having nightmares, and in March I experienced full on memories of everything all at once after watching a triggering documentary. I began to have seizures.  

I realized that I had been abused by two men I trusted deeply, my grandfather and my pastor, and I had grown up in a stressful and traumatic environment. Once I began to deal with my trauma (both physical and mental), my pain began to go away, which allowed the memories to come back. Now I was able to begin healing.  

I am okay now! And thanks to Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® survivor stories, I know I will be ok because my abuse won’t happen again, and I am here for a reason. Helping others heal from abuse is my calling, my passion, and I am here to help. I am a Program Manager at a non-profit, and work to empower children K-12 with the knowledge of body safety. I also provide trainings to adults in the community, including Darkness to Light’s trainings, mandated reporting training, and trauma trainings. 

I love my past now, because it has allowed me to be able to empower thousands of kids and adults to stop this awful cycle.  And as painful as my story is, it’s important for us to talk about it. If my story helps just one person, it was worth it.

This Spotlight Story was shared via our Share Your Story feature, through which survivors can offer their experiences as a source of insight, support, and ultimately hope for the community. In order to create a safe and supportive community for all our readers, we do not share the names of perpetrators or the specifics of court cases. All posts are reviewed prior to posting, must adhere to Darkness to Light’s guidelines for appropriate content, and may have been edited for length.