As promised, today we have the pleasure of having Lacresha Hayes here on the blog with us. It was an honor for me to do this interview with her. It was difficult to find something new to ask about with all the detailed questions she's already covered on her blog tour. However, I came up with a few.
Q: Lacresha, so much has been said about you already. You're growing quite a sizable online following simply with your message. How does that make you feel?
A: Honestly, it feels good to be recognized, but I don't want the recognition to replace the message. I sincerely do this more for those who write me secretly with their pains than any others. I know how it feels to hurt silently and alone. I don't want any woman I can reach to go through that. So, it feels good, but I refuse to get caught up in it.
Q: Have you seen a spike in your book sales since your tour?
A: Yes! Book sales have risen sharply. I have book clubs and a few independent bookstores calling on me as we speak.
Q: What made you join RAINN?
A: Well, I researched them and learned all I could. They are really in the business of helping women heal, not just for money or recognition either. They are the largest organization of its kind. I also support other sexual abuse and domestic violence organizations, but RAINN provides various material that makes it easier to get the word out. I work with Katherine Hull and she's a jewel, truly sincere.
Q: Most people have avoided this question, and I know it's a sensitive topic still, but tell me more about when you stabbed your husband. Do you feel like this was a culmination of pain?
A: Actually, it was. I was a different person back then, a true product of my environment. I was afraid all the time. I never felt safe. I never felt secure. I felt as if I was all I had in the world. I was tired of being battered and mistreated so he got the full measure of what had been going on most of my life. I hate what I did to my ex-husband. I regret it all the time. Thankfully, he forgave me. Still, I don't condone violence of any kind. Some women have tried to make me out to be some kind of champion for standing up and fighting for myself, but a real champion would have walked away and never looked back. To me, that's a champion.
Q: You mention about sexual promiscuity and legal battles in your book, at least very briefly. Can you tell us more about that?
A: I didn't think anyone would ever get around to asking me about that. Normally, sexually abused victims do one of two things: they are very loose or they hate sex altogether. There are a lot of factors that go in with that, but these are the basic two things that happen when someone is repeatedly abused. For me, I was so tired of the tearing and ripping and pain, I felt that giving it away was easier than having it taken from me. So, I created a habit of saying yes. Most of the sex I've had in my life can be attributed to something I didn't want to do, but did anyway, either for love or for safety. It took years for me to get over that.
The legal battles have been something I've not discussed much, but I am in the process of writing a book about them entitled Justified. Still, I can touch on some of it. When I was a teenager, I was very rebellious (like that's something new). I ran away from home all the time. I had the most wonderful probation officer at the time named Mr. Ripley. Anyway, I was sent away to a girl's home. That was the beginning. I ran away, skipped school, stole petty items like food, lipstick and deodorant. But, the older I got, the more the issues escalated. I got into trouble when my grandmother died. No one had the money to bury her and her funeral was put off twice. So, when her Social Security checks showed up, I cashed them and paid for her funeral expenses. I didn't think it would get me into trouble since I didn't spend any of it, save maybe $8. But, it did. So, I had officially become a felon for theft of property. By age 21, I'd been in trouble repeatedly for fighting and other smaller misdemeanors. Then, there was the lack of self-control with my first checkbook. I didn't write things down like I should have. I didn't balance things like I should have. That brought on hot check charges. It was an ugly childhood and young adulthood for me. It seemed like as soon as I got one thing straightened out, three others would get messed up again. It took years for me to break that cycle too. In fact, it took God because I stayed in and out of trouble until I got saved. But, the things you do before salvation still has to be paid for afterwards, for the most part.
Q: Sounds like you grew up in poverty.
A: I did. My grandmother was illiterate. She could barely sign her name. I was really smart, but we were on welfare. Part of the reason the abuse lasted so long in my case was that the abuser was one of the only people who supported our family when we ran out of money, which was all the time. I was raised the majority of my life on $162 a month and food stamps. It created this insatiable hunger in me to succeed, but I had no one around me to teach me the right way to go about it until I joined church and began to meet the right people.
Q: Do you think that your criminal and abuse history has hindered you in any way?
A: Of course, they both have immensely. It's hard to maintain a relationship when you do trust and altogether hate men, as I did in my past. Yet, I felt that I needed a man for my son's stability. Nothing was further from the truth, but it took me down a horrible path. Always the issues of my past made me sabotage the good relationships and hang on too long to the bad ones. My criminal history affects me even to this day. Some people think I shouldn't be so open about it, but it is a part of nothing but my testimony now. It was something I've done and that I have to answer for even now. It hinders my movement. Sometimes, it hinders my financial progress, but by the same token, it has taught me accountability. It has shown me the millions of people that are often forgotten about that need God and need hope too.
Q: You have an interesting theory about your criminal recovery and today's jail system. Please share it with us.
A: Well, I feel like I recovered because I was never thrown in the prison system. You tell me. How can putting you in a community of criminals teach you how not to be a criminal? That doesn't even make common sense. LOL! You are taking me off the streets so I won't hurt society and have thus created a new society of felons: drug dealers, murders, thieves, robbers, rapists, tax evaders, traffickers, pimps, prostitutes, embezzlers and more. The guards talk down to them and treat them in sub-human fashions. Their only friends are gang members and other law-breakers. You put a person there for three or four years. Then you wonder why they are back within a few months. How silly is that?
I'm not an expert at anything, but I know a little about human nature. I changed because I had pastors who believed in me. I had people who sat down and taught me how to write grants, start businesses, make money the legal way. I had people who instead of calling me out of my name and treating me like a dog, loved me. LOVE always has been and always will be the answer. When I met Rachelle Rheams, my life changed. She went to church. She prayed. She was successful and single. She was what I imagined life could have been like, but was unsure it existed. I saw something that I could have and my life changed permanently. No jail system on earth could do that.
Q: Last question, Lacresha. I could do this all evening, but I won't. Do you believe your honesty about yourself has or will hurt you more than help you? I am almost afraid to put it on my blog because I know some people can be judgmental.
A: Honestly, Kim, we both know that there are about six people who are going to be jumping for joy at the opportunity to twist this interview. I don't care what they think or what they do. I didn't get as far as I have because I was easily deterred. I've gotten here on faith alone. Running a business, some people ask questions, and it's within their rights to do. They have a choice about where they'll spend their money. I don't begrudge anyone of their choices. They are free to make them, as I'm free to make mine. But, several people have thought they could deter me. Some speak against what I do everyday, but they are entitled also to their opinions. I believe that what God has appointed to be for me will be mine.
I'm not sure if you knew this, but I started Living Waters with $100 and no stable income. My doctor had given me only months to live, partly because I couldn't afford my medicine. God promised He'd work a miracle and He did. People have been saying it won't work since, but it continues to work because it's not a natural thing. It's a God-thing. It works because I love. It works because I put everything I am into it. Recently, I stepped down as President of the company and gave it wholly to my husband who loves and cares and puts his whole self into it. I've since started Christian Consulting Company. It, too, will work.
So, in answer to that question, I don't care if some people decide they'd rather not deal with me. I don't hold that against them. I already know there are plenty who will no matter how many crazy forums are started, no matter who dislikes me. I love people. I choose to love. That won't change over gossip, lies or anything else. I've been wrong and I don't judge those who are wrong right now. Integrity builds a solid foundation and for the first time in my life, I can say that the last years of my life have been full of integrity.
As you can see, this interview was a very in-depth and very emotional interview. I know that this is only the beginning for this woman. She is a light to all people. I didn't expect the candid answers I got. No one tells it like it is anymore. Most people are more concerned with being politically correct. I salute you, Lacresha. Godspeed to you!