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2 min read

Adorned with a heart tattoo and unwavering bravery, Michelle works to reclaim her life after years of sexual and physical abuse.

At just three years old, Michelle Dale became a victim of childhood sexual abuse that lasted until just before her 10th birthday. Then as a young mother, Michelle found herself 14 years deep into an emotionally and physically abusive marriage that ended the night her husband put a gun to her head. In an escape she called “terrifying and exhilarating,” Michelle packed her tiny car and fled Montana with her two sons - only to end up on the receiving end of yet another abusive relationship one year later.

It was then that Michelle decided she was ready to reclaim her power. “I started telling myself, stop looking back. Look forward. What’s in the past doesn’t define who you are. I am the one who decides what I am and what’s going to happen. I’m not going to let anyone else determine that for me anymore…” and her new chapter began.

I finally decided I wasn’t going through this vicious cycle again.”

Today, Michelle’s growing to love her life - and herself - from the inside out. “I’ve had miscarriages, tough pregnancies, setbacks, I sustained injuries as a firefighter, had back fusion surgery, a total hysterectomy and years of abuse, but I don’t call myself a survivor… I am a warrior.”

“I’m taking better care of myself than I ever have, from all angles. I’m going to counseling, yoga, acupuncture, working on a huge thesis project that tells the stories of so many people just like me, I walk the dog, eat better and stop self doubt in its tracks.” Plus, she’s now married to the love of her life - a Detroit police officer who knows her worth and loves her. She’s learning to forgive her body for the ways it’s frustrated or failed her over the years, and finding a new self love that’s inspiring to others.

I often wonder now why I beat myself up for so long. I stayed in my marriage far too long because I thought I needed to keep my family together—because I believed the lies I’d been told about myself.”

“I find power in putting the words out there every day. I have to make myself listen and you should too. Are you struggling? Find someone to talk to. Figure out what’s holding you back from making a life change, getting out of a bad situation or not loving yourself. I often wonder now why I beat myself up for so long. I stayed in my marriage far too long because I thought I needed to keep my family together - because I believed the lies I’d been told about myself. But you don’t have to live like that. Life is too short to focus on the negatives when there is so much beauty all around - and inside of you. Women are beautiful and strong. If only you could see what everyone else sees in you! It’s time for women to stick together, and advocate for one another. You just have to know - you’re not alone.”