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La'Verne Lynn Adams: I survived domestic abuse and now am a licensed professional counselor.

As a person who experienced childhood trauma and as an ambassador for the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I wanted to publicly share my story in hopes that it will inspire others to seek support. I would be happy if my story helped raise awareness for even one person about resources for survivors of domestic abuse to become involved with NAMI or find therapy in other ways. La'Verne Lynn Adams

As a child growing up in New York City, I witnessed a great deal of violence and was physically and emotionally abused by my mother. I was forced to learn how to cook at an early age and take care of my younger sisters and my mother after my father left when I was 6 years old.

My mother was an alcoholic and drug user which resulted in my family moving around a great deal. At about the age of 11, I was pistol whipped by my mother when I came home from school. The door I usually entered was locked, so I had to use the front door, not knowing my mother was home and did not go to work.

Emotional abuse was ongoing by my family as I was much lighter than my mother and sisters. I was labeled "the white sheep of the family."

After leaving home and going to college in upstate New York, I had several attempts to harm myself. After I had my oldest daughter, I attempted suicide and was hospitalized. I was then diagnosed with major depression and anxiety in 1990 and decided to pursue a career in mental health after my stay on the inpatient unit.

I decided to go into the field of counseling as I felt that I could help others who struggle with mental health, especially to help the voices of the other patients who were not being heard. I was introduced to NAMI in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by my mentor Dr. Charma D. Dudley, and I have been a part of NAMI since then.

I received an associate's degree in community mental health from Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in marriage and family therapy from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

I now hold a license as a professional counselor and moved to the Portland/Clackamas area in July 2018.

I continue to struggle with my mental health, but I am not on any medication, as I did not like the side effects. I take it one day at a time, breathing through every ache and pain. I am a survivor of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, but I live today to help others on their healing journey. NAMI helps me stay grounded and offer the resources needed.

National Alliance on Mental Illness-Clackamas Board President La'Verne Lynn Adams currently works at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare as an outpatient quality manager.

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