Hello, I am MJ (Mary Jo) Ross, and I’ve lived in Oklahoma since 1998. I have an extensive background in nonprofits and business, but I’m here to share things about me that are more personal.
If you’ve been abused or know someone who has, I want you to know that there is healing no matter how bad the abuse is or was. It is possible to not only survive but also thrive. It’s not an easy journey, but it is worth it.
As a survivor of many types of abuse from birth to right before I started my senior year of high school, I was born into a generational satanic cult, sex trafficked by four family members, and experienced awful things you don’t want to imagine.
After years of feeling ashamed about what happened to me, I finally realized in 2022 that I was not the one who should be ashamed. The abusers should be. I discovered that telling my story and supporting other survivors has helped me heal. It also permits others to share their story.
Even after years of therapy, instead of using drugs, alcohol, cutting, starving, binging, or many other things to keep the feelings and memories deep inside and try to cut them off completely, I became a workaholic. After all, when you work seven days a week for years, it’s easy to ignore those feelings and memories.
As a single mom without child support, I quickly got caught up in work. As an executive director of up to six nonprofit state professional associations at the same time, I also owned a for-profit association management and consulting company. I helped start a national nonprofit on top of that.
Work travel kept me on the road 26 weekends a year for three straight years. I became severely burned out. I had to close my business because it was too dependent on me. It was excruciating because I discovered that my work was my identity. Knowing that I’m not meant for the corporate world, I opened a consulting business along the way and trained as a Small Business Transformation Coach to learn all the company “stuff” I didn’t know the first time.
I began volunteering with SCORE Tulsa as a mentor, helping business owners and nonprofit executives write business plans and guide their businesses toward a successful future. I also met a representative of The Demand Project through LinkedIn and became a volunteer with their organization which fights crimes against children.