Graduate Stories

DAY 2 of $40,000 in 7 Days: Hear Arianna’s Truth

Arianna graduated from Truth Be Told’s “healing through storytelling” program called Talk to Me at Bryan Federal Prison Camp. Just last month, she celebrated one year of freedom from incarceration. In that short time, she completed a city health department community reentry network program and received special recognition among her peers at graduation. She now works as a youth peer specialist at a mental health services center and began school this month to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor.

Of her peer specialist role, Arianna says: “I work with youth, ages 10 to 20, drawing upon my own experience to help them navigate the behavioral health system by building trust, support and validation. The goal is to enhance wellness and create strategies for self-empowerment.”

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DAY 3 of $40,000 in 7 Days: Hear Leslie’s Truth

Leslie participated in our Talk to Me Movement program. Using the improvisational, body-centered practice of authentic movement, Talk to Me Movement invites women to write and embody the story of what they believe put them on a path to prison. She is one of seven Truth Be Told graduates performing and hosting a workshop during the New Story Festival half-day virtual retreat this Saturday. For schedule and registration, visit here.

TBT: You’ve said, “We don’t heal from what we don’t talk about.” Will you elaborate on what you mean by this and how it applies to your personal healing journey?

Leslie: I spent most of my life trying to hide my flaws and shortcomings, trying to hide my drug addiction. I felt that as long as my image was bright and shiny, it didn’t matter what I was doing in the dark.

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DAY 4 of $40,000 in 7 Days: Hear DJ’s Truth

While incarcerated, DJ participated in Truth Be Told’s Talk to Me Movement program. Using the improvisational, body-centered practice of authentic movement, Talk to Me Movement invites women to write and embody the story of what they believe put them on a path to prison.

TBT: Describe a typical day in your life these days.

DJ: A typical day in my life consists of morning meditation, going to work (I love my job), bettering myself through my education, and providing myself with much-needed self-care and love.

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DAY 5 of $40,000 in 7 Days: Hear Tammy’s Truth

While incarcerated, Tammy graduated from Truth Be Told’s Talk to Me Writing program, where participants are invited to write and share in safe community the story of what they believe put them on a path to prison.

TBT: Will you share a little about your life before you went to prison?

Tammy: I came from a great family. My parents have been married for over 54 years, and, growing up, our house was always filled with love. The real problems began later in my life.

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DAY 6 of $40,000 in 7 Days: Hear Sharon’s Truth

While incarcerated, Sharon participated in Truth Be Told’s Talk to Me Movement and Let’s Get Real programs. Using the improvisational, body-centered practice of authentic movement, Talk to Me Movement invites women to write and embody the story of what they believe put them on a path to prison. Let’s Get Real is a trauma-informed reentry program that offers life skills and support to women as they prepare to leave prison.

TBT: In talking about your incarceration and the women you met in prison, you said: “Something brought us there – it wasn’t just the crime, but it stems from something deeper.” Will you speak more to what you mean by this?

Sharon: I firmly believe my pathway to prison came about as a result of violent childhood trauma. My very first memories are of a fight between family members. I witnessed a lot of abuse, and I was abused physically and sexually from a young age.

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DAY 9 of $30,000 in 10 Days: Hear Melissa’s Truth

I am equally proud that I did my 15 years in prison and never turned bitter. I am proud that I still love life through and after all the pain, and I wholeheartedly owe this to Truth Be Told. Through their healing classes and freeing talks, I learned peace in an unpeaceful place.

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DAY 8 of $30,000 in 10 Days: Hear Kay’s Truth

I believe the most important lesson I learned in my Truth Be Told experience is that I am worthy. I have something to contribute to society. I realized I can still be beneficial to my community and that I can do this by sharing my story, not hiding it.

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DAY 7 of $30,000 in 10 Days: Hear Donna’s Truth

I use the tools I learned in Truth Be Told in my everyday life. When I get down or discouraged, I go back to the lessons I was taught and the wisdom and encouragement Truth Be Told spoke into me. I also try to be a mentor and encourager to other people I have encountered along my way.

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