June 12, 1998,  my life changed forever. The morning began with my father wrapping his hands around my neck choking, and punching me. He demanded answers regarding the message left on the answering machine by Children’s Services the day before. My father was afraid I had exposed his many secrets. The secret of who he really was behind the many masks he wore day in and day out. He was nervous I shared the secret of the abuse I had endured throughout the years which resulted in me attempting suicide in the seventh grade. And the anticipation of him taking my life now that I was sixteen.

As my father continued punching me while asking if I had spoken to anyone at school, I continued to lie. With every hit I whimpered, “No!” until he finally let go of me. He promised he would kill me when I returned home if he found out I lied that morning. By the end of the day with the help of members from my high school, I placed myself into the New York foster care system. Foster care literally saved my life…

Even though I was grateful to be physically alive I was still dead inside.  And I continued experiencing this feeling as I grew older. I didn’t have the luxury of feeling my emotions as a child. Not feeling was the very thing that kept me alive for so many years while being abused. As I grew older I turned to alcohol to numb the pain I was fighting hard to ignore. The hatred I carried towards life grew toxic in my heart. It was like a poison I wanted to serve everyone, but found myself sipping on little by little each day.

Until one day the poison I had been drinking over the years had gotten the best of me. At age twenty-two I had suffered a mental breakdown. This occurred three weeks before the end of my Junior year of college. I felt like I had completely lost my mind. My past had finally caught up to me, and there was nowhere to hide.  And for the first time in my life I chose to see a therapist to begin to heal from my past wounds. That decision was one of the hardest I ever had to make. But it was a decision I am eternally grateful for.

Therapy allowed me to work through some hurtful events I endured in life. It created a space where I felt safe to feel my emotions and know that I was going to be okay. I learned new things about myself, and gained tools that would support me as I continued my journey. I returned to school a year after my leave and ended up graduating and obtained a six week program on Capitol Hill to work for former Senator Hillary Rodman Clinton. I was grateful for the opportunity. But I was even more grateful that for the first time in my life I was finally thriving after surviving.


  • Pamela J. Campbell

    Life Coach, Public Speaker, Author, Foster Care Advocate

    Pamela J. Campbell is a life coach, author and motivational speaker driven by her convictions, hope, and divine spirit and is passionate about transformational work.  Pamela, who was born in the Ivory Coast and brought to the US at the age of two, openly shares her experience of surviving a decade of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her father. At sixteen she escaped this torment by placing herself into the NY foster care system.  Pamela credits this decision with saving her life.  She shares her story of abuse in candid detail, in the hope that it will inspire and impact others who suffered, or suffers, the way she did.  Pamela uses her experience to coach individuals in living the life they want by creating a new narrative. She is devoted to supporting others in moving through blocks so they can create new possibilities in their life.  Pamela, who lives in Harlem, NY, has a B.A. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College and has been advocating on behalf of youth in foster care for over fifteen years.