She described the abuse as "... both physical and
emotional. Bruises heal and fade over time, but the
emotional abuse ... that takes much, much longer. He
broke me. But the one thing that kept my hope alive was
my sons. I recall holding my youngest son one night and
telling him 'I WILL get you out of here.'"
was then that she decided to join the Air Force, to
provide a better way of life for her children. After she
arrived at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas for basic
military training, she said she began to notice her self
confidence growing. "It was as if I had a voice for the
first time in years," she recalled.
"Basic training was enlightening for me," she said. "I
felt like I had an opinion for once, that there was more
to life than what I had been doing with mine." She made
the decision while at BMT to divorce her husband,
however, she didn't tell him until she arrived at
Sheppard AFB, Texas for technical training. As expected,
he didn't take the news well.
"He showed up at Sheppard and he attacked me; I ran away
from him ... people saw this, but nobody stepped up to
help. I ended up running to my military training leader,
and she locked me in her office. She was a tiny little
woman, but she stood up to this bully; she was the first
person to ever do that. The cops came, and he was
escorted off the base. In the end, the state of Texas
ended up pressing charges against him. He got two years
probation, had to attend anger management courses and
had a restraining ordered filed on him."
For Blake, that signaled the start of a new life for her
and her sons. With the help of the Air Force's Family
Advocacy programs, she began to regain her emotional
strength. It has been a long journey for her, but she
said that during the past 12 years, she has seen
definite changes for the better in the way the Air Force
educates its members about the importance of bystander
intervention. "I'm not sure it was a phrase people even
knew back then (in 1999) when this occurred. Today,
people are way more knowledgeable and recognize the need
to step in and stop things before they go from bad to
Blake said she also found comfort in becoming a
volunteer for the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
victims' advocate program, by being a sounding board for
others who had gone through situations similar to hers.
"I wanted to tell them that it is NOT their fault. That
no matter how lonely or afraid they were, there is
always somebody to listen, someone who wants to hear
what you have to say."
Another positive that came from her involvement with the
SARC program was meeting her husband.
"That is where I met my now husband, Tech.
Sgt. Lucian Blake; he was a volunteer and I helped him
on a high school awareness project. We became firm
friends from the first day and have been together ever
since. He has helped me a lot with my growth both
emotionally and spiritually."
also helped her find her voice. As a teenager, she found
great joy in singing and music. However, when her life
entered the turbulent times, she said she couldn't even
bring herself to turn on the radio. "I stopped singing
and listening to music. It didn't bring me joy anymore
... at that time nothing did." But, nearly 20 years
later, she found the courage to raise her voice in
"My oldest son left for Lackland AFB last week, to begin
his Air Force career," she said. "Our church had a
special send off for him, and my farewell gift to my son
was to get up and sing solo for the first time in two
decades. It was a gift for him, but also for me," she
With that, although her life has not come full circle,
she said she sees light now.
"I used to live
in darkness, but now, I'm excited to get up in the
morning each day to see what God has in store for me. He
has protected me, and I can say for sure now that even
if your voice is tiny, somebody will hear you."