March 6, 2017
by Tana Pradia, PWN-USA Greater Houston Area co-chair
I grew up with a very abusive mother who beat me every day that I lived with her growing up as a child. I didn’t know who she was until I was five years old; the only reason she took me was to hurt my father. I was a very unloved child and went through years of being raped growing up. I was always told that no one would ever love me. I felt so lonely and afraid to let anyone get close to me.
I isolated myself for many years. I pretended my life was so great, but in reality it was a living hell. At 21, I had three beautiful children; I fought so hard not to abuse my children like I had been, and I did a great job on making that happen. I had the perfect husband who loved me; but I didn’t love him. I didn’t know how to love. So we got divorced when the last child was 15.
After my divorce I got with a man who beat me every day I was with him. He got me started on drugs to pay for his habit. This man stalked me at work, always accused me of sleeping around. He would tell me he was the only one who loved me. This man didn’t want me to be around my family or my children. After being with him for a year I had a nervous breakdown. The doctor did all these tests on me the first week I was there and she thought I had cancer. So she asked me would I be willing to take an HIV test and I said yes. This doctor told me a couple of days later, standing in the hallway, that I had HIV; that my test had come back positive. This doctor assumed I knew I had HIV. So I had another nervous breakdown. There I was, lost, and I felt all alone all over again.
I told this man that my blood work had come back positive. He told me he knew he had AIDS. The next words that came out was, “I told you I would kill you and you will never leave me.” I stayed thirty days in a mental hospital. All the nightmares of my childhood came back up, even things that I couldn’t remember started coming up.
I did leave him, and he did come after me to kill me; but a friend saved my life. I spent 15 years away from my children and my family out of shame. I stayed high every day in order not to remember the pain I was feeling. I went to jail for the first time at 40; from there, I kept going in and out; and every man I got with always abused me. The last time I went to prison I prayed and said I would never go back.
That was the beginning, but let me tell you ladies, I got really sick. I had a T-cell count of 14 and had tuberculosis. I spent the next year in a TB hospital. That was the best thing that had ever happened to me. It gave me time to work on me. I got clean and got my health back. I started helping people at AA and patients in the hospital, and started going back to church, but most of all, I learned how to love myself. Today I have a T-cell count of 680 and have six years clean, which I’m very proud of, and I haven’t been back to jail in over seven years. My goal today is help women in any way I can. I love the work I do today. Most of all, I have women who love me for the person I am 😍. If a man or anyone mistreats you in any way, remember you are the most important. 👩💻