I thought that I would share my story and a little bit about what I have been through.  I wrote this testimony back in July after I had my first radio interview about my writing and the work I do with Rising Above Magazine, the Ezine I started for victims and survivors of abuse.   Although this does not cover every single event in my life, it does give some of the highlights of things I have been through. 

The other day I had my first radio interview on the psychic radio station located in Detroit.  The assistant producer had contacted me to ask me if I would be interested in being a guest on the show.  I have to say that at first I was kind of hesitant as I had never spoken to an audience about my story and what I had gone through in my life.  Sure I have put it out in books but that's a little different.  It's different having someone pick up my book and read it then it is for me to speak out loud and share my story with people.  I decided though that this would be a good opportunity for me to share my message with people out there so I accepted the invite and went on the air.   The experience for me was good.  If anything, it showed me that I have more courage and strength in me then I sometimes give myself credit for.  I was nervous at first but as the show went on, it got easier for me to talk about what I had gone through in my life.  What was really neat is that someone who was listening to the show left a comment on Rising Above Magazine's website about it.

It's taken me awhile to get to this point in my life.  Despite what people might think, I was never truly popular growing up.   I often felt isolated in my childhood years because of events going on at home.  People didn't know me for the real me and they didn't know what was going on at home.  There were two things I was known for back then.  One was playing basketball.  My father taught me how to play basketball and since I practiced so much in the gym, I became a decent player.  At one time, I ranked as one of the top point guards for my age group (I was 12, 13) in the state of Pennsylvania.  So I was known for being a really good player.  The second thing I was known for was being Michael Linch's little sister.  My brother was really good at cross country running and long distance in track.  He was always setting records and making it to state competitions.  He made it in the paper a lot too.  So I was known as Linch's little sister. 

In school, I was a complete underdog.  I was made fun of and teased for things.  My grades were D's and F's when I use be an A student because of all the abuse going on at home.  I hung out with the wrong crowd.  Kids didn't accept me for who I was.  They would use my outgoing personality for their own source of entertainment.  I remember being invited to a sleepover at a friend's house.  Well, the whole time I was there, they made fun of me and would laugh at me and not with me.  I felt used.  I felt like I was a puppet and people were controlling the strings, pulling them so I would perform for them and put on a show for them.

Admittedly, I felt like that a lot in my life.  If it wasn't my parents pulling the strings, then other people were pulling those strings.  Nobody listened to what my dreams were in life.  My dad only wanted me to make it big in basketball.  As long as I did well in the sport, he was somewhat proud of me.  He wasn't proud of me for anything else in my life though.  He would even tell me that he could never brag about me at work to his friends because there was nothing to be proud of me for.  This was after I had quit playing basketball because I got burned out and it just wasn't fun anymore due to all the pressure I was getting.  Even when I went to one semester of college, the college that my parents wanted me to attend and the only one they would send me to, they didn't listen to me on what I wanted to major in.  At the time I was interested in going into law.  Well, my parents picked my major for me and picked office administration or something like that.  I was 17 when I went to my first and only semester of college.  When it came time to sign up for classes, I changed my major to Pre Law instead.  My parents were not happy one bit about that.   They tried to control my life and when I worked there during the summer, if I didn't return their phone calls, they would call the Dean of Women at the college and have the faculty tell me to call them.

When I went back home because I couldn't afford to go to school for another semester, things were bad.  The first night I came home, they searched through my things and found a cd a friend gave me.  They tore the cd up and yelled at me.  At least when I was at college, I was safe from the abuse.  But once I went back, it was bad.  I worked 36 hours a week but none of the money was mine.  My parents took my money and I never saw a dime of it.  They claimed it was my rent money and they charged me for almost everything.  Later when I mentioned that they owed me that money, they said they didn't owe me anything.  I moved out at 17 but my life wasn't easy after that.  I went through flashbacks and anxiety attacks left over from the abuse.

I went through some very dark times in my life.  I tried to OD several times, I tried to end my life numerous times, and I would self inflict as a way to get rid of the emotional pain I felt inside.  I guess you could say it was my way of punishing myself because of guilt and shame I felt that I shouldn't have felt.  That was actually one of the things I discussed in my radio interview.  Trust me, talking about that on the air where anyone could hear me was not an easy thing to do because I know many people out there judge those who have a cutting problem.  Thankfully, I have been free from the habit for awhile now and have had no desire to hurt myself anymore.  I know that I don't have this guilt, this shame to carry because it is not mine to carry.  The guilt doesn't belong to me since I was a victim who had no control over the abuse.  The guilt should go to my abusers who hurt me and put me through the pain.  Shame on them for taking their anger out on me, an innocent girl who did nothing wrong.  That is where the guilt lies.  It doesn't lie with me and I realize that now.  Some of the memories I have from my childhood and from my marriage are of me sitting in the bathroom with the lights out and the door locked, leaning up against the wall, tears streaming down my face, using a piece of glass or anything sharp I could find and cutting into my skin so I could try to rid myself of the emotional pain.  I thought that I had hurt them when in fact, they were the ones hurting me.  My parents always told me that I was the reason their marriage was failing and they had so many problems.  They had problems long before I was even born.  If I tried to speak out about the abuse, they told me I was lying and said I was delusional, psychotic, warped, you name it.  They made me see psychologists because they brainwashed me, telling me I was a moral failure and that everything was my fault.  How was it my fault though when I was just a kid?  It was never my fault.  They had things in their lives that they never got help for and instead of owning up to their mistakes, they took it out on me.  My mom put me through abuse too.  She was just as bad as my father.  It didn't help that my husband turned around and put me through the same things.  Now I know though what to look for and if it's one promise I have made to myself it is that I will never allow anyone to treat me that way again.

I wasn't expected to make it this far in life.  Honestly, with the dark times I faced, I never thought I would make it this far either.  To the world I was invisible.  Nobody knew what I was dealing with; I was too scared to tell anyone since the few times I tried to speak out, it only got back to my abusers and made things ten times worse.  So I lived an isolated life.  I had a difficult time trusting people and letting them close to me.  I looked for love in the wrong places, tried to drink my life away to drown out the feelings of sorrow I had, sliced into myself, tried starving myself even.  When it came to men, I flirted a lot and was known as a tease.  My life was definitely going down the wrong road.  I wanted to be accepted by others so I did what they wanted.  I hit difficult times financially when I lost my job and couldn't afford to pay my rent.  In order to pay my rent, I would have to go without eating most days.  I was barely hanging on in life and that's when I decided to go to Atlanta Job Corps, hoping that I could get some kind of trade in Business Technology that would help me out.

Atlanta was rough.  But it was there that I discovered the leadership skills I had.  I took my work seriously and being one of the better students there, I was made a student ambassador right away.  I did office work for teachers and typed up memos for meetings.  I did volunteer work there too.  I had my low times there, too, though.  I was approached by a guy who wanted me to prostitute and I almost went that route but thought better of it.  I decided I had more respect for myself and told the guy that.  I nearly got arrested when the cops pulled him over and made us get out of the truck.  Unknown to me, he had drugs in his car and had been smoking marijuana.  Thankfully though, I was allowed to go back to Job Corps without being taken downtown to the jail. 

The girls in Atlanta Job Corps came from rough backgrounds.  Fights broke out, girls got arrested for drug use and underage drinking.  It wasn't the best place to be.  I ran for Vice President for Student Government and was elected.  The students never gave me problems.  In fact, I gained respect from most of them.  I wasn't afraid to speak my mind and in one of the assemblies, I had to speak in front of them.  So the topic I chose was attitudes.  I was known as being kind of laid back, easy going and quiet.  When I got up there and spoke about attitudes, they were amazed and surprised.  That was my first experience with public speaking.  It was after Job Corps that I went back to Florida and got married. 

Well, I won't get into everything that happened in my marriage.  To make a long story short, I married someone just like my father and found out how my mom felt all those years when my dad abused her.  Everytime I took my husband back, it only got worse.  I still have memories that burn within me of what he put me through and what he did to me.  I can recall the times he taped me self inflicting, the times he threw food out so I couldn't eat, how he would slam me to the ground, how he would hit me with things, and choke me till I could hardly breathe. He broke things in front of me and if I tried to defend myself, he'd take my arm or leg and twist it.  Those memories unfortunately don't just go away.  If it's one thing that my father and husband did not do it is they did not destroy me!

Even though the things I went through were terrible, if I had not gone through them, I could not relate to other victims and survivors on the level that I do now.  They couldn't stop me from achieving my dreams and they couldn't silence me and keep me trapped in life.  I found the strength inside me to break away and take back control of my life.  I am not covering for them any longer and I am not going to pretend nothing happened or even deny it.  It is my right as a survivor to speak out and share my story.  My dad use to say that I was a very strong willed and stubborn young lady.  I totally agree with him on that!  I am very strong willed and stubborn.  I wasn't going to allow them to hold me back in life. 

I started going for my dreams.  I always wanted to be a writer so I became an author.  I always wanted to write in a magazine so I started my own magazine to reach out to victims and survivors.  I always thought it would be neat to be like Barbara Walters and interview people.  I thought it would be neat to go on the air and be on radio and now I am starting up my own internet radio show where I can interview other survivors out there making a difference.  I'm finding that I can do all of this and it doesn't even matter that I don't have a college degree.  It doesn't matter that I'm an ordinary girl and that to the world I'm just another unknown stranger.  What matters is that I am following my heart and doing what I want to do.  People said I would never amount to anything.  They said I couldn't make it far in life.  They tried to keep me down but I rose above those ashes of my past.  I broke those chains of my past and now I don't know limits to what I can do.  The only thing I know is that when I believe in my dreams, myself, and my mission, there is nothing that I can't do.  I don't mind being an underdog.  I think it's the underdogs who make the best heroes in life.  Nobody expects the underdog to make it.  As underdogs, we're expected to fail.

I love it when underdogs come out on top though.  I had to work hard and keep on fighting to get this far.  We underdogs have to fight harder and work harder to make it.  However, when we do reach the point where we want to be, it is very rewarding to see how those who thought we couldn't make it react.  I just hate it when people who told me I would fail try to come back into my life and be best friends with me again just because I am getting places in my life.  Many times it is like that when we start getting places in our lives . People who were against us try to become best friends with us again and act like nothing ever happened.  They act like they've always been there to support us when we know all along that they were the ones who tried to keep us down.  That's when we have to be tough and discern who we can let in and who we can't allow back into our lives.

As underdogs, we must show the world what we are made of.  We must rise above those ashes of our past and like a phoenix, transform into a stronger, more beautiful person.  I've chosen to rise above my past because I know I only have one life to live and I intend to not only have fun but also to get out there and speak out.  I refuse to remain silent anymore.  I'm going to let my light shine.  I'm going to show the world who I am and nothing is going to stop me from achieving my goals.  I'm here to help others and that's what I'm going to do.  I don't take anything in my life for granted.  I am very blessed to have so much going for me and I know that any minute it could all be taken from me.  That is why I do not take my life for granted.  My reward is knowing I am making a difference in someone's life and helping them.  Fame and popularity mean absolutely nothing to me.  I am living my dreams and I am living the life I've always wanted to live.  I'm learning to love myself and I am healing, allowing myself to move on and be free.  Who I am is who I want to be and there's nobody else I'd rather be then Jenna Kandyce Linch :).  I may be an ordinary girl but this ordinary girl you see is going to do extraordinary things in life simply because I believe in myself and what I'm doing.  I may be an underdog, but at least I am doing things with my life and going places.  I couldn't ask for a better life then the one I have even if it is filled with twists and turns.  I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't have gone through those things.  This is me and this is who I want to be :).