did you succeed against the odds?
Merri Dee: I was alive. I realized that it was a privilege I could not ever take lightly. I planned my work and worked my plan.
EBONY: Did you ever have a moment when you thought you wouldn’t make it?
Merri Dee: Yes, there were moments, but that is exactly what they were: MOMENTS! Life is not guaranteed and as a result I do not allow myself the privilege of having a pity party that lasts long.
Ebony: You became a victims’ rights advocate. Is it true that because of your efforts those who’ve been attacked must be made aware when their attacker is released from prison?
Merri Dee: Yes, my experience became fuel for the first Victim's Bill of Rights in Illinois. The bill was soon replicated across the United States. It added years to some crimes, access to data on releases and financial assistance to victims.
EBONY: Healing and forgiveness are long journeys. Any thoughts on helping others take it one day at a time?
Merri Dee: Prayer is very important. It also is so very important to forgive others and forgive ourselves. Blaming someone else without looking at the part you played will not allow healing. I say forgive; I don’t say forget. Prayer will do that for you when you least expect it.
EBONY: What are the “Aha” moments that people will take away from your book?
Merri Dee: You can have what is seen as a hard life, yet be gentle, kind, loving, gift giving, caring, patient and tough when necessary.
EBONY: Any plans to turn your memoir into a Lifetime movie?
Merri Dee: I frequently hear from others how my life’s story is so compelling. In that spirit, I would love for my memoir to become a film and help others who are struggling to overcome challenges.
To order Merri Dee’s book or for more information, visit merridee.com
Margena A. Christian is Senior Writer for EBONY. Follow her on Twitter @DrMargenaXan